"So, I have to have dinner with my parents," Kon says.
Tim doesn't even look up, which Kon should have expected. Tim is kind of an asshole. Since Kon is an asshole too, he can't really blame Tim for this, except Tim's not supposed to be an asshole to him. But in eleven years of friendship, Tim has never gotten this memo.
"Dinner!" he says, in case Tim missed it. "Every Friday. With my parents."
Tim still doesn't turn around. "Oh no, you have to see your parents. Who are alive, by the way. And want to spend time with you. That's terrible, Kon. I don't know how you survive."
Kon scowls. "I'm not the jerk here," he says.
"You're always the jerk," says Tim. He turns, and he has a cup of coffee. Kon considers forgiving him. "Which of your parents are we talking here?"
Kon sighs. "Clark, every week. Lex, when he can get down from Metropolis. Kara has to come too, of course."
"She does, huh?" asks Tim. "What's she think about it?"
"Lex is paying her way through school, so she's grateful," says Kon. "You know I couldn't afford it on my own. And the school board is thrilled about getting LexCorp involved. Sponsoring the science fair, teaching the kids to play God--what's not to love?"
"So, Kara gets to go to a swanky boarding school, you have to see your family every week." Tim shakes his head. "I'm not seeing how this is a crisis."
"You are the worst best friend ever," says Kon. "If you didn't have coffee, I would never come here."
"Lucky for me," says Tim dryly. "I have real work to do."
When Kon was sixteen, he found out that he was adopted.
It's really a lot more complicated than that. His mom wasn't his mom. And his dad was actually his mom. The evil head of a giant mega-corporation was his dad. All the articles he'd read about successful human cloning and the advances CADMUS had made in creating life had been based around Project K-ON-37.
Conner Kent, well. He wasn't really sixteen. He was a few months old, and his entire life had been a lie. Lois was a reporter, she had only agreed to be part of the family to get exclusive rights to the story. He was supposed to go in for regular examinations, diagnostics, supposed to continue being more of a research specimen than a person.
He doesn't think he can be blamed for running. If Tim feels differently, well, Tim is an asshole. Kon's known that ever since he ended up in back in Smallville, with a baby daughter and a list of bad decisions longer than his whole life to that point.
When Luthors fuck up, they fuck up hard.
"We don't have to do this," Kon says. Kara is in shotgun, reading. He doesn't get how his daughter can read in the car. He gets nauseous. Maybe she gets it from her mother. He wouldn't know. "You know Lex is going to want to take you apart."
"He didn't know you were genetically viable," says Kara, not looking up. "I'm fascinating."
"You're a brat," says Kon, fondly. He's never regretted his daughter, even if he didn't mean to have her. He'd been in Hawaii, trying to start over, and he'd hooked up with a gorgeous girl named Tana.
She didn't know he was genetically viable either.
"I've read a lot about Lex," Kara offers, like she's afraid Kon's going to turn the car around. "I'd be interested to talking to him."
Kon sighs. "It's going to be terrible. And awkward. We're going to suffer."
"It's just one night."
"One night a week. For the rest of our lives."
"We can get burgers after," says Kara brightly. "Tim can make fun of you. I know you love it when Tim makes fun of you."
"I do not," Kon mutters darkly.
Kara looks unconvinced; Kon can't blame her.
"I take it dinner didn't go well," says Tim dryly.
Kon glares at him. "Clearly you were trained by the world's greatest detective," he says. "Lex had dinner catered. He and Clark were wearing suits."
"Do you own a tie?" asks Tim dubiously.
"Yes," says Kon. "But why would I wear it?"
"We haven't changed," says Kara. She's wearing a t-shirt and jeans, but looks fairly respectable, for an eleven-year-old girl. Kon looks respectable for an eighteen-year-old boy, which he is biologically, but he doesn't think Clark and Lex really support him dressing his biological age.
"You seriously wore a ta-ta inspector shirt to dinner with your parents?" asks Tim. He looks somewhere between impressed and horrified.
"I wanted to emphasize how I'm straight," Kon mutters.
"You really want to do that, you should stop making out with guys," says Kara. Tim gives her a cupcake, because they're both assholes.
"Twice!" says Kon.
"Twice that I've seen," says Kara. "I assume I don't see every time you make out with someone. I hope I don't."
"So," says Tim, clearing his throat. "How was it, Kara? Apart from Kon being an under-dressed, semi-homophobic jerk?"
"It was weird," says Kara. "Clark tried too hard. Lex didn't really know how to try. It got better once we started talking about computer programming."
"I cannot believe you're related to me."
"You're a genetically engineered clone," Tim says. "Are you really surprised your daughter is a freak?"
Kara beams, like Tim calling her a freak is the best thing ever.
"I'm disowning both of you," Kon says darkly.
Kon is more than a little nervous about Kara's first day of middle school. She's going to be taking the bus all the way to Metropolis every day, she has to wear a uniform, and she's short and half-clone and--
"I don't know!" he says, with an expansive gesture. "Apocalypse!"
"Middle school apocalypse?" asks Tim.
"Yes," says Kon. "Middle school apocalypse. According to my programmed memories, middle school sucked."
"She'll be fine," says Tim. "You need to breathe. You haven't relaxed in weeks."
"Like you can talk," says Kon. "You're always wound up. Too much coffee."
Tim snorts. "Look, I'm the grumpy asshole one in this relationship. If you're a grumpy asshole, I have to try to be nice. I don't like that, Kon. I'm not good at it."
Tim hasn't had the best life. Kon knows about it from getting drunk with him at age nineteen, a bottle of whiskey in a paper bag as they sat on a bridge and traded sob stories. Tim's parents died when he was a kid, and he went through foster homes for a few years before he tracked down his uncle, who is some really intense cop. The details of how, exactly, Tim went from working in and eventually owning a diner in Smallville are a little sketchy, mostly because at that point in the story, Kon stuck his tongue down Tim's throat.
Kon's made out with eleven guys in his life; Tim's the only one he still talks to.
"This is a relationship now?" Kon asks, making a ridiculous kissy face. "Aww, baby."
Tim rolls his eyes. "This is the last time I try to be nice to you."
"No, it's not."
Tim sighs. "You're right," he says. "I just wish it was."
"So, anything exciting happening in your life, Conner?" Clark asks, too brightly. It's only the second Friday, and Kon already doesn't know how he's going to survive the rest of his life like this.
"It's Kon," he says.
"Conner is a nice name," says Lois. He's not sure why she's here, other than to glare daggers at Lex, who's looking calm and unflappable as always.
"I like Kon."
"How's that boyfriend of yours?" asks Clark, too loudly. "Tim, was it?"
Kon chokes on his wine. "Tim's not my--"
"Tim's good!" says Kara happily. "He makes me lunch every morning."
Kon frowns. "He does?"
"Of course he does, dad," says Kara. "Who else would make me lunch?"
"Tim's the one who works at the diner, isn't he?" asks Lex, frowning. "He has such potential, I don't know why he wasted it there. He was one of my Lexcorp scholars, and he refused the money for college."
Kon stares. "What?"
"He's a very bright your man," says Lex. "I always hoped he would join CADMUS."
"How do you--what?" asks Kon.
"I offered him the scholarship. He had accepted, and then, around the time you moved back to Smallville, he suddenly said he didn't want the money. And he took over that diner. All that intellect just--wasted."
So apparently Tim is a boy-genius who makes his daughter lunch. It's a lot to process.
"We gotta go," says Kon. "See you next week."
Kara goes to stay with their next door neighbor, a computer programmer named Barbara who is pretty much her third-favorite person in the world. Or at least one of the top three. Half the time, Kon is convinced that he's actually third, after Tim and Babs. He can't really blame her for that.
The diner is empty, not surprisingly. It doesn't get busy on Fridays until the basketball game ends, and it's still early. Tim looks up when he comes in, obviously not expecting any customers.
"You're back early," he says. "Did you punch Lex?"
"You could have gone to college," says Kon, stalking over to the counter.
"What?" says Tim. He looks confused and a little cagey, but he doesn't back away.
"You were a LexCorp scholar. You said you didn't go to college because your uncle couldn't afford it, but you had a full ride, and you didn't take it. Lex wanted you to work for him. He said you had potential. And then I showed up, and suddenly you decided to work in a diner."
Tim's eyes are steady on his, even though Kon can tell he wants to be anywhere else. "I didn't want it," says Tim.
"I didn't want it like that."
Kon licks his lips. He's not actually taller than Tim, but he's broader, stronger. Until they're up close like this, Kon never remembers that. He feels like Tim is bigger than him. He's always had everything so much more together than Kon.
"You make Kara lunch," says Kon, voice soft.
Tim relaxes a little. "Someone has to."
"You take care of my kid, and you didn't go to college because of my daddy issues."
Tim finally looks away. "That's not--" he says, but the protest is weak. "I didn't want to be the kind of person Lex is. I could've been, you know. I'm not a good guy."
Kon laughs. "We both know that's bullshit," he says.
"It's not," says Tim. "It's--"
Whatever Tim is going to say is stupid, so Kon just kisses him. He expects a protest, or that Tim will push him away, because Tim had to be the reason this wasn't happening. Kon is a mess, an experiment that somehow didn't go wrong, a preteen dad, the kind of person who should never have happened in the first place. He threw away the things Tim never got to have, and he still doesn't know what he's doing. He's never known the first thing about who he is.
But Tim is kissing him back.
"I should put up the closed sign," Tim manages, when Kon pulls back to kiss down his neck. "The game's going to end. Someone's going to walk in on us."
"You never close," says Kon, surprised enough to pull away completely. Tim just gives him this look, until it clicks, and Kon feels like the stupidest and luckiest guy in the entire universe. "Yeah, you should put up the closed sign."
Babs brings Kara over to the diner in the morning. Kon is on his second cup of coffee and feels mostly human. Tim is making breakfast, eggs and bacon and toast. When Kara comes in, she just sits across from the counter and demands her own cup of coffee.
"Not until you're fifteen," says Kon.
"You were drinking coffee when you were my age," Kara shoots back. It's an argument they've had a thousand times, and Kon feels giddy with it.
"I was genetically engineered," says Kon. "And I'm a bad role model. That's why you have Tim."
"I dropped out of school for an emo clone with his head stuck up his ass," Tim notes.
"That's why you have Babs," Kon corrects.
Kara sighs. "Did you make me lunch?" she asks Tim.
"It's Saturday," says Kon.
"I make her lunch every day," Tim says. "You can't cook."
"Why did no one tell me about this?" Kon asks. "Seriously. How did I not know?"
"Head up your ass," says Kara. "I'm going to hang out with Donna. Tim, are you going to come over tonight?"
"Yes, he is," says Kon, before Tim can answer. "And he's coming for dinner on Friday."
"That's going to be a total disaster," says Tim.
"Yes," says Kon. "But it won't be my fault."
"And that's what matters," says Tim, shaking his head. "Get on the other side of the counter. I have real customers. You're unhygienic."
Kon just keeps grinning. Friday can't come soon enough.