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A Song is a Key

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It started out as an offhand comment from Robin, during his homework.

“No one writes love letters anymore.” He said, flipping through a book, his laptop balanced on his crossed legs. “Like, all these old poets. They wrote tons of love letters.” He handed the book to Kaldur, and Kaldur noted the age of it, and the dog-eared corners.

My sweet Girl—Your Letter gave me more delight than any thing in the world but yourself could do; indeed I am almost astonished that any absent one should have that luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I receive your influence and a tenderer nature stealing upon me. All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights have I find not at all cured me of my love of Beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me: or rather breathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called Life

“It's lovely.” Kaldur said, handing the book back. “Is that what you're studying?”

“Yeah.” Robin said, but the way he said it had an air of wistfulness to it.

-

-Hokkaido, Japan-

Kaldur was in Japan, on the northernmost island, with Red Arrow. They were only observing, as the locals traded with an ocean-dwelling tribe, a separate sect from Kaldur's own people.

“So, are they like, your cousins?” Roy asked, bored.

“No. They are mammalian based.” Kaldur answered. The tribe more closely resembled what Kaldur had come to understand were known as 'selkies' on the surface world, than they did Kaldur's own amphibious people. “I have only interacted with this tribe a handful of times in my life. They are of course a part of our kingdom, but they are not a large population, and are rather private.”

Roy didn't seem interested, staring off into space, so Kaldur left it at that and went back to his journal. They were unfortunately out of radio contact for the time being, so he was keeping himself occupied by writing down everything in a log.

“This is so dull.” Roy complained.

“Better we are here and nothing goes wrong, than for us to be absent and needed.” Kaldur replied, finishing off his daily observation.

The next page in his journal was blank.

So he started writing.

My Bird, he began, half in jest. If you were here, you would be freezing, he wrote, already hearing Robin's chatter about his fingers being frozen, feeling him slide closer to Kaldur for warmth.

I miss you. Perhaps that is strange. I only saw you a week ago, not long enough to really feel parted. Yet I miss having you nearby, knowing you are just a call away.

“Want to play cards?” Roy asked, but Kaldur shook his head.

My companion is watching me now, and I wonder what he would say if he knew. What anyone would say. My companion complains at night about how much he misses his own cat, Kaldur could practically feel Cheshire's knives on his throat at the pseudonym, but it wasn't as though she would read it.

I wonder if this is what love feels like. He wrote. We are young, I know. Too young to know. But when I am with you, I have a peace that I lack when we are separated. I know you do not need me to watch over you, know that you are, as you have always been, my equal. Maybe I am stronger, but you are endlessly clever, and braver than many. Yet I feel the need to be with you, to watch over you, keep you safe.

He paused, chewing on his pen as he thought, tried to sort through his feelings when it came to Robin.

Still, I am glad you are at home, warm. Perhaps not safe. We are never truly safe, are we? Even when I hold you close, you are no safer than when you sleep alone. It is only for my own peace of mind.

Again, he stopped, thinking.

In closing, know that I miss you. And know that you have my heart, for as long as you wish it.

He signed his name at the end, folded it, and put in an envelope. Then he put it in another envelope, and sent it to Kid Flash, with instructions for delivery to Robin. Though he knew Robin's given name now, Richard, he was still not privy to his home address or his surname. No matter how hard he tried, it was hard to apply any name but Robin to his friend, and perhaps risky, in any case.

The trades went well.

-

-Gotham, Connecticut-

“Hey Rob,” Wally said, screeching to a halt in front of Robin. He was sitting in the middle of the maze, back to a hedge, because Alfred never bothered to look that hard when his room was a mess. He'd wait.

“Hey.” Wally had something in his hand, a letter.

“You have mail.” Wally said, handing him the letter. “Just got it. Would stick around, but I've got chemistry homework,” He was gone in a whirl, leaving Robin with the sealed envelope.

He opened it curiously, wondering who was sending him a letter.

My Bird, it began, in Kaldur's large, looping script. He felt a blush creep up on him, as he read on, Kaldur's words winding around his heart and taking root.

He read it four times.

You have my heart.

-

- Northern Ireland, United Kingdom-

“Does it always rain this much here?” Miss Martian asked woefully, her hair pulled back in an admittance of defeat. They were both wet to the bone, and although Kaldur didn't mind, for obvious reasons, M'gann was not quite as used to so much water.

“I believe so.” Kaldur said, though he wasn't quite sure.

“Who cares?” Artemis asked. “I swear to fucking god, I cannot get any more freaking wet.” She wrung her ponytail out underneath of the awning, making an impressive puddle. “I want a shower. A hot one.”

“I have to second that.” M'gann agreed, squeezing her own shorter hair. “Are we done for the day?” She asked Kaldur, her brown eyes large and pleading.

“I think it is time to call it a night, yes.” Kaldur agreed.

Both girls wasted no time dashing inside to the base, a small house where they were generously being given board. They had been called in as extra security for a conference between the Irish Unification League and the Northern Independence Council, and so far, things were peaceful, if not extremely tense.

“You look half-drowned,” One of the local heroes, Wisp, protege of Jack o' Lantern, said, from the couch. It was he who had rented the house, to Kaldur's understanding, and he was grateful someone had taken them in. Hotels were less secure, and the detergents they used often gave Kaldur an odd, tight feeling in his skin.

“Impossible.” Kaldur pointed out, pointing to his gills. “Though my companions appear to be.” Wisp laughed and handed Kaldur a towel.

“Sorry about this.” Wisp said, gesturing to the door, apparently meaning the weather. “Peace conference comes to town, and of course it rains an ocean.”

“We've been through worse.” Kaldur said, drying himself off. He stripped off his shirt so he could dry his chest, trusting Wisp not to mind. The other hero kept smiling cheerfully, so Kaldur assumed he didn't. “I wish to thank you again, for housing us, Wisp.”

“No trouble.” Wisp said. “You can call me Liam, though.”

“And you may call me Kaldur.”

“Kaldur?” Liam asked.

“Short for Kaldur'ahm.” Kaldur said, wrapping the towel around his neck. “There are few but my mother who ever call me by it though.”

“Have to appreciate my own mum for not going overboard on my name.” Liam said.

“I am going to go get changed.” Kaldur said. “Is there a phone I can use?”

Liam frowned and shook his head. “Phones are down in here, again. Old houses like this, they don't take to the wiring too well. Like they're resisting the change, you know? Can't even get an Internet connection.”

“Is there paper?” He asked.

“Plenty of that.” Liam said, clapping him on the back in a friendly gesture. “Now stop dripping everywhere, or I'll have to pay damages.”

After Kaldur was changed and dry, he sat at the writing desk and began a letter. There was no reason for it, really. He could simply wait for tomorrow, and use his communicator somewhere with a signal. Robin had responded well to the first letter though, even if he had tried to hide his pleasure.

My Bird, he began again, You would hate the weather here as well. It rains constantly, enough that I cannot believe we are still above the sea level. I enjoy it, but our companions do not. I do believe our archer has had quite enough of the entire place, and even our pilot's patience is tried.

He deliberately refrained from names again, just in case his letter was read by another.

I miss you though. I know you are thinking that the chill means little to me, that my physiology is not like yours, but that does not mean I do not enjoy having your warmth beside me when I sleep. I know it is not often we are able to do so, with your responsibilities, but when we can share a bed, I sleep better, knowing you are beside me.

He set his pen down to think, of whether putting these things down in ink was such a prudent plan. He didn't imagine Robin would ever use them against him, but that didn't mean someone else couldn't.

Maybe it was the arrogance of youth, but Kaldur did not think he was putting down anything truly incriminating, and the way it had made Robin smile was worth the embarrassment of discovery.

“What are you doing, then?” Kaldur jumped, as Liam looked in on him. “Writing to your sweetheart?”

Kaldur looked at him for a moment, thinking.

“Yes.” He said. “I am.”

He finished the letter, and signed it with just an initial this time, then dropped it in the letter box in the morning, again, by way of Kid Flash.

-

-Gotham, Connecticut-

“Hey, tell Kaldur I am not a carrier pigeon.” Wally said, first thing, after Robin had opened the door to Wayne Manor. Alfred was cooking, so Robin had been sent to play butler.

“What?”

“He sent another letter.” Wally handed it over, then was gone, back to Central in a flash.

Looking around for prying eyes, Robin opened it, leaning back against the wall as he read.

Our Irish friend has just asked me if I am writing to my sweetheart. For a moment, I was prepared to say no, for the thousand and one reasons we have already discussed, our many reasons for privacy. However, I realized, before I had even spoken, that he was not likely to think anything odd of it, nor was he likely to speak of it, or question me. So I replied that yes, I was. To say it aloud, to admit what I have known in my own heart for so long, to another person, was a freedom I had not realized I longed for.

I want to be able to love you where all can see, kiss you when I step through the platform. For tonight though, I only wish you were here.

Robin had slid to the floor halfway through the letter, his smile breaking his face, as he read the closing line, again and again.

Ever yours,

Ever his.

-

-Arctic Circle-

Kaldur was in the Arctic with his liege, Garth, and the Flash, keeping watch on a new contact species known as the Gil'Dan. So far, they were peaceful, indeed, helpful. They only wanted to hide in the ice while their ships refueled, and in return for allowing them the space, they were offering the technology for their solar ships.

The Lantern John Stewart had met them before, and he had vouched for their non-violent exploratory mission, but the League still wanted an eye kept on them.

Though Kaldur was stronger than many, the cold and ice were not ideal conditions. They had been buffeted by storm after storm, and though the Gil'Dan loved it, Kaldur was reaching his limits.

Tired, he sat down to write a letter.

My Bird, he wrote, The cold is almost unbearable here. Our companions are not faring very well either. Even our most cheerful one is becoming haggard. The storms refuse to cease, and we all long for when our newest friends are prepared to depart.

He wondered if it was wise to write what he wanted to write next, but so far, the letters he had written had been unread by anyone but the intended eyes. Even if they were, they were the only two who knew just who the pet-name meant, and as far as anyone knew, the letters were in fact going to Kid Flash for further delivery. Unless Wally gave them up, which Kaldur doubted would happen, there was no reason to be quite so paranoid.

So he kept writing.

When I am alone in the tent, I think of the night before we left. The warmth of your body pressed to mine, the perfection of your spine, the way it curved against my chest. Every breath you took, every beat of your heart, I could feel. The bones of your hips, how they fit into my hands.

Sometimes, when I am away from you, I long for you so deeply that I wonder what magic you have learned when I was not looking. With every kiss, you ensnare me, draw me deeper into your spell. I have no control over my actions when it comes to you, as you know, and use. I do not mind. I do not mind anything, as long as it means you are mine, and mine alone.

Yours,

K

He sealed it up and waited for Flash to finish his shift.

“Would you mind?” He asked, holding it out. “Only I need to convey a message.” On the front, he had drawn a bird, not with an artist's hand, but certainly decipherable.

“Sure, no problem.” He said, looking at the front. “I assume they'll know what that means?”

“The intended will, and no one else will presume to open it.”

“Okay, back in a,” He disappeared in a blur of color, and reappeared a minute later. “Flash.” He grinned at his own joke and fell onto his cot for a well-deserved rest.

-

-Mount Justice, Rhode Island-

The Flash whirled into the Cave like a brightly colored tornado. “Letter from Aqualad!” He shouted, dropping it on the table, and then he was gone, before it touched wood.

Robin almost dived on it in his eagerness, leaving Artemis with a wide-eyed look, hand still halfway reaching to it.

“Okay then,” She said, narrowing her eyes. “How did you know it was for you?”

“Um,” He said, thinking fast. “I kind of asked him for help on a marine biology report. Who better to ask then someone who can talk to fish?”

“You don't think that's cheating?” She asked.

“Not if it works.” He said, and casually walked away, the letter burning in his hand until he could get into his own quarters and shut the door.

Kaldur's words, his own recounting of the last night he had been here, made him curl up, knees to chest, elbows over knees, as he read it over and over.

He closed his eyes and buried his face in the crook of his elbow, remembering. Kaldur's strength, holding Robin up, the coolness of his skin. His mouth on Robin's neck, then his own mouth, as he'd rolled his head back against Kaldur's shoulder.

His heart beat like a drum as he thought about it.

You are mine, and mine alone

 

-

-Tromsø, Norway-

“Kaldur,” His king said, in a tone that told Kaldur much. It was not the deep, commanding voice of his liege, but the softer tones of his mentor, and the use of his nickname told Kaldur this was a private conversation.

“Yes?” He asked, looking up from his letter. Subtly, he obscured the text with the envelope.

“Tell me the truth of it, Kaldur.” He said. “What are you hiding from me? Or rather, who?” Kaldur was not able to keep the surprise out of his face.

“Your majesty,”

“None of that, Kaldur.” He warned. “I am not blind. I know what love looks like on one's face.”

“Forgive me,” Kaldur said. “I never meant to betray trust. The secrecy was not by my choice.”

“I will have the whole story, Kaldur.” He ordered, sitting down in the chair catty-corner to Kaldur. “Starting with a name.”

“I cannot give it to you.” Kaldur said, reluctant. That name was not his to give away, not even one he liked to use. “You know him as Robin, though.”

There was a long silence.

Then the king laughed, long and loud, pounding his fist on the table as eventually, tears streaked down his face.

“Your majesty?” He ventured, after a time.

“Oh Kaldur, just when I thought you had lost your capacity for fun, for risk,” He laughed some more. “This is wonderful!”

“Wonderful?” Kaldur thought so as well, but he had not quite expected this reaction.

“Can you imagine the look on Batman's face?” His king asked, getting himself under control. “And after all he had to say about the professional way his protege conducted himself, in comparison to the everyone else's, hah,”

“Has Batman found something lacking in my conduct?” Kaldur asked, perturbed at the idea, but his king kept right on his current thread.

“I am going to love lording this over him,”

“My king, you cannot!” Kaldur said, and his mentor looked at him, an eyebrow raised.

“Kaldur, does Batman know?”

“Not as such, your majesty.”

Now his king really laughed.

“Imagine that! I know something the Great Detective doesn't.” He stood, with a satisfied grin. “Well, I leave you to it, Kaldur,”

“Your majesty?” Kaldur asked, unsure as to what exactly had just happened. His king smiled down at him, still looking suspiciously pleased by the entire situation.

“Kaldur, I have spent the last five years watching you, training you, and caring about you.” He said. Kaldur shifted uncomfortably at the last one, not sure whether to be pleased or humbled at being a favorite of his king. “Seeing you show some signs of selfishness underneath all of that self-sacrifice gives me hope for you being flesh and blood after all.”

“You think my relationship is selfish?” Kaldur asked, disturbed by the thought.

“Yes,” His mentor said. “But not in a bad way. We all need a little bit of selfishness in our lives, Kaldur. It keeps us grounded, keeps us sane.” He frowned. “Though I admit, I am a little confused at your choice. He is not what I would have chosen for you.”

“Who would you have chosen for me, your majesty?”

His king paused in thought, rubbing at his chin.

“I suppose I would have chosen someone lively, someone bright, to balance you out. Someone intelligent, obviously. Perhaps another soldier, someone with some kind of military background. I cannot imagine you with a civilian.” He mused, while Kaldur looked at his king calmly, waiting for him to come to the conclusion on his own. “Well, I'll be damned.”

“Exactly, your majesty.”

-

-Gotham, Connecticut-

“Dude.”

Robin sat up, startled, to see Wally standing over him, looking frustrated.

“Hey?” Robin asked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He'd been napping outside, in the English-style flower garden, where Alfred wasn't likely to look.

“For the last time, I am not a carrier pigeon.” Wally said, holding out an envelope, this one thicker than usual. “Kaldur wants to send you letters, tell him to send them to the base.”

“It's not like it's a big deal for you,” Robin grumbled, taking it. “Two minutes out of your day, at most.”

“It's the principle of it.” Wally said, hands on hips. “What is he even writing to you? Hasn't he heard of a phone?”

“It's private.” Robin said, and Wally raised an eyebrow.

“Dude.” He said. “I don't care. I would just like a thank you.”

“Okay, thank you. Happy?” He asked, eager to get rid of him so he could read it in private.

“Jeez, touchy. And you're welcome.” Wally's departure stirred up a little gust of rose petals.

Robin looked around, then crawled into the bushes, like he had when he was younger. He was still waiting for his final growth spurt, at only five-five, but he was pretty sure he was always going to be lightly-built, like his dad had been, so navigating small spaces was still as easy as pie.

Thinking of his dad only made his heart clench a little, now.

Once he was safely hidden away, the green above him, and the ancient bricks under him, he opened it. Kaldur's birds were getting better, on the front, he noted.

Inside, there were two letters. He opened the one labeled with a number one on the outside first.

My Bird,

I write this letter after I had already finished the first. There is something you must know, and I hope your anger will not be great over what I have to say.

In writing my first letter, I was interrupted by our mutual friend, my most respected companion.

His most respected companion? Robin mulled over that for a moment, then decided he had to mean Aquaman. That was who Kaldur respected most among their 'mutual friends'.

It turns out that we have not been as discreet as we have thought. Or rather, I have not. My most respected companion informed me that he knew what it looked like, when one has love in their heart, and he knew that my heart was full. I took him into my confidence,

Robin snorted. 'Took him into my confidence' sounded like a nice way of saying 'Aquaman made me because he's my king and he can'.

So now we are known to him. I am sorry for this breach of your trust, but I found it a necessary action. Rest assured though, he will not allow it to leave the room. Perhaps you are not quite so willing to believe this, but I hope you can trust my judgment of his character. I would never do anything that would put you in danger of discovery, or put our relationship in jeopardy. You mean far too much to me.

Robin didn't think he was mad, exactly, more frightened. Aquaman had a weird kind of rivalry going with Batman, that Robin wasn't quite sure he understood. It seemed in character for him to enjoy having a little secret of his own, something Batman didn't know, and to keep it a secret. Not only that, he got the feeling Aquaman respected Kaldur a great deal. If Kaldur asked him to keep a secret, he'd keep it.

I will explain in more detail when I return to you. If I must apologize more to win back your favor, then I will. In the meantime, I am thinking of you, always.

I wish you were with me,

K

He smiled, happy, stupidly happy, and refolded it, sliding it back in the envelope.

The second one, what he assumed was the first one written, was longer, taking up two leafs of paper, front and back covered in Kaldur's looping script.

My Bird, it started, like they all did. I call you my Bird, but you are so much more. You are my love, my heart. You have so many words in your language for what you are to me, and I have so few in my own. I use your words, so that you will know just what you mean to me.

In my mind though, I call you our words, my words. I will tell you them, when I return this time, will tell you what they mean. You like learning Atlantean, but then, you like learning anything. It is one of the things I admire about you, one of the things I have come to love about you.

The list of things I love about you could fill these papers. I do not have that kind of time tonight though. My current chore begins soon, and I must be focused on it. To be focused on it though, I must organize my thoughts, and so many of my thoughts revolve around you right now. Please allow me to set them down, so that I can be at my best. You are the greatest kind of distraction, as you well know.

You are waiting to hear the things I love about you, I know.

Robin smiled up at the paper. Kaldur knew him too well, and he knew Robin craved praise and recognition, stupid as it was. Especially Kaldur's.

I love your fearlessness. Some among our friends call you reckless still, perhaps because they have seen one of your more risky acrobatics, or maybe they have only seen the show from the last chore we had together. When we watched it, our loudest friend said that you frightened her. It had never occurred to me to be afraid for you. I only saw your control. I have never seen anyone do what you do, not even your trainer. I believe you give him too much credit for your skill, my Bird. What you can do is in your blood, your bones. It is a part of you, as much as your heart is. Watching you, and the sheer joy in your face. This is one of the things that helped the love in my heart grow into what it is now.

Seen the show, from the last chore?

The footage from the mission in London, then. When Robin had somersaulted off the top of one of the walkways of the Tower Bridge, his heart barely racing as he did, turning over and over in the air until he landed on the top of the mutated mess attacking. He'd placed the explosives, and then pushed off, shooting out a line towards one of the towers, pulling himself to a ledge, balancing easily.

Alfred had almost throttled him when he returned home, and it was only then they found out that a BBC news crew had caught him on film, the reporter's frantic voice over his leap, her terror that she was about to watch him die.

Their loudest friend, a female, that had to be Black Canary. Robin had no idea she'd been worried about him.

I love your cleverness. You look at the world, and see so much more than anyone else. I know it infuriates you sometimes, how slow everyone appears in comparison to you. Especially with technology. The rest of us are left in your wake as you understand everything at half the pace we do. Without you, we would all be lost.

Robin curled up under the bushes, smiling.

I love your energy. You have never let anything defeat you, never let anything hold you down. No matter what we come up against, you are the one who never gives up. You see everything as a challenge, a new puzzle, and you will never let any puzzle go unsolved. Sometimes, I worry for you, for how you obsess. Unlike some though, you never shut us out. You allow us to keep you grounded, keep you with us. Never do you defy my orders for rest either, and for that I am grateful. If you did not agree, I am not at all sure I could force you.

To love you is like loving a star, my Bird. You burn so bright, so far above me, I worry I cannot hold you.

There is a story though, among my people. I have thought of it often, since you stole my heart. When I tell it to you, after I am finished here, you will laugh, I am sure. It is a fairy tale, as your people call them. I will tell you when next I am beside you in a bed.

Though I think that when I am next beside you in a bed, we will first have other thoughts in mind. When we were last together, you seemed anxious, and I do not know why. You were so sweet in my arms after though, eager to pull me back over you. I did not have the time, or the thought, to ask why, at the time, but now I wonder what it was that bothered you. I will ask, of course, when I return home.

For now, I close with all my love ,

K

Robin folded it up and slid it in with the other, then stuffed the envelope into the waist of his jeans, pulling his shirt over it.

You seemed anxious

He felt himself flush with embarrassment, remembering the last time they'd had sex. Kaldur wasn't Robin's first, but instead, his second. That didn't mean Robin was as experienced as Kaldur though. For the most part, Kaldur didn't want anything Robin didn't already know, either from experience or the Internet. The last time though, instead of pinning him, drawing Robin close and sheltering him, he'd left Robin straddling him.

It had made him feel vulnerable, exposed in a way that had made him nervous. He hadn't liked feeling like that.

He didn't like that Kaldur had noticed, either.

-

-Port Elizabeth, South Africa-

“I. Hate. Africa.” Roy ground out, his palms pressed to his eyes. “I hate the weather, I hate the accent, I hate the fucking Great White sharks that jump out of the water that no one warned us about!

“Once we were able to neutralize a few of them,” Kaldur tried, but Roy made a frustrated noise that meant nothing Kaldur said would penetrate.

Roy had barely been grazed by the shark, but he was behaving as though it had taken a limb.

“You know, I should have stayed home. I really should have. Planning the wedding would have been less awful than this.”

“That is not what you said before we left.” Kaldur said, with a raised eyebrow. “You begged to be allowed on this mission.”

“Kal, you're my best friend.” Roy said, sitting up. “You're going to be my best man. We've been through fucking hell together.” Kaldur privately thought that it was a rather accurate assessment of their friendship, but he got the feeling this was leading up to something. “Now, I know Atlantis has a bit of a culture clash with how we do things here on the surface, but here, when your best friend has made a stupid decision, you don't point it out!”

“I will make note of the fact.” Kaldur said, rolling his eyes. He opened his notebook to a clean piece of paper, and began his letter. It was a letter he needed to write, even if he didn't want to, but things had not been left well at home. It made him uneasy.

My Bird,

Our companion is fine, rest assured, though I am positive he will paint a very different picture in our report. The teeth did not even touch him, in any case. Either his fear or his flair for the dramatic has changed the story so it has become a harrowing tale of escape, somehow or another.

As always, I miss you more than I should, especially after our last conversation. I feel like things were left more unresolved than when it was begun. I do not understand why you feel there is something you cannot share with me in this matter. I do not know how things are done here, on the surface, as I am constantly reminded. I do not know if what I consider a normal conversation is seen as rude here.

So now I wonder if that is why you turned defensive so quickly. You were angry with me, so angry I wonder if you will even read this. I am frustrated, as I was then, but I am not angry. I only want to understand what it is I have done wrong, why you are withdrawing from me.

I mean what I have written, in the past, what words I have said into your skin when we are alone. I love you, more than I can express. After our last conversation though, there is a feeling in my heart that I cannot quell, that perhaps I have overstepped in this. That perhaps I am alone in the intensity of my feelings. You have told me that you care for me a great deal, that I am important to you. Now that I think though, think of how many times I have expressed my own feelings, I realize that you have never returned the sentiment.

If I am alone, I would rather know now, than later.

Kaldur paused over his words, unsure that this was the correct way to express what he needed to say. He would rather have this conversation face-to-face, like they should. The last time he had seen Robin though, when he had tried, it had ended in an argument that he still wasn't very clear about. Robin had been angry with him, angry enough that he had refused to see him before he left for this mission.

He did not understand what was wrong. All he'd wanted to do was ask about the last time they'd been intimate, ask why Robin had been behaving so strangely. Robin had shut him down though, had told him he didn't want to discuss it at all.

I cannot make you love me, if you do not.

He felt a pang in his heart at that thought.

Do you want to know the story, the one that I wanted to tell you?

-

-Gotham, Connecticut-

Robin, in the window seat on his bedroom, the full moon bright enough to read by, knees to his chest, read the most recent letter.

This one had come via Green Arrow, wrapped up in a report from Red Arrow. Batman had watched Robin take it with no small amount of Very Unhappy in his face, but he had refrained from saying anything. Alfred and the talk he'd had with Batman had gone a long way towards forcing him to at least keep out of Robin's relationship, but he had not made his unhappiness a secret.

The tension at home had been one of the many things that had led to their argument.

And now Kaldur thought that maybe Robin didn't love him, because he wouldn't talk to him.

When I was a boy, there was a story my mother told me many times. I wish I could see your face as I tell it, for I am sure you will laugh, even if you are angry with me right now. The story is long, but it essentially goes like this:

There was once a fish, named Agapios. Agapios was a prince among the fish, and could have married anyone he wanted in the Kingdom of the Seas. He was brave, as a prince should be, and kind, as kind as any kingdom could ask for.

Agapios was a lonely prince though. He had many companions, and a loving family, but he had never felt love in his heart. His mother and father brought forth many suitors for him, but none could open his heart. It was locked tight.

Agapios swam alone often, as he thought about his future. He must be married one day, he knew, but he wanted to marry for love, if he could. So he swam, and thought, and searched, hoping to find the key that could unlock his heart.

One day, during one of these swims, he heard a sound. It was unlike anything he had heard before, and he surfaced, so he could hear it better. It was a song, birdsong, the first he'd ever heard. It was the song of a red-breasted bird in the trees above, on the surface.

In his chest, Agapios felt the strangest feeling. It was the birdsong, unlocking his heart.

I will tell you the rest of the story when I return, if you will hear it. This also means that you know now why I call you 'my Bird'. It is not just based on the name the others call you. It is because of what you are to me.

So perhaps you have heard enough of the story, enough to decide if this is something you want to continue.

I love you. This is not something I have ever tried to hide, not since I began to feel it. You know how I feel. You know I am yours.

Always,
K

Robin sniffed, and wiped his eyes.

He wanted Kaldur home, now.

-

-Mount Justice, Rhode Island-

“Hey, hey, kiddies, the conquering heroes return!” Roy said, stepping through the zeta platform, Kaldur following. “And I brought your leader back, safe and sound!”

“Why do I get the feeling that should be the other way around?” Artemis asked dryly, from the couch. Roy snapped back something rude that made Artemis growl in annoyance.

Robin wasn't listening.

“Hey,” He said, looking at Kaldur. “Welcome home.”

“It is good to be home.” Kaldur said, but Robin saw the caution in his face.

“So, um,” He shifted. “I kind of want to hear the end of that story.”

Kaldur's smile was soft, as he stepped forward, wrapping his arm around Robin's shoulders and leaning down to press a kiss to Robin's mouth.

“Of course, my Bird,” He said.