Kon had never intended to go to college. He might have come out the lab half-baked, but he's surprisingly knowledgeable about stuff (especially if the stuff is related to punching supervillains or composting), even if he can't be bothered to show it in school most of the time. He still gets decent grades for the most part (he's not fond of English), but he's looking forward to being done with school when he graduates. He figures he'll farm and be a superhero. He already does most of the work. Or so he thinks until Ma sits him down with the plans for next season's planting and the family finances and begins a long explanation of the fraught relationship between the two.
The next morning, he prints an application to the College of Agriculture at KSU and badgers Bart into helping him fill it out. They're usually terrible at keeping secrets from Tim, but Kon thinks they've managed on this one, until the letter from the Wayne Foundation arrives, detailing the scholarship he hasn't applied for, contingent only on his acceptance to the school of his choice.
"Bruce set up college funds for all of us years ago," Tim says matter-of-factly when Kon bursts into his room, flapping the letter in his face.
"But he hates me!"
Tim raises an eyebrow. "Not exactly, but even if he did, he wouldn't deny you a chance at a college education. Especially if Mr. and Mrs. Kent can't afford it." Kon is about to protest that (even though it's true), but Tim's mouth twists oddly. "Jason still has one, though he's never touched it."
Kon knows better than to get into weird Batfamily drama, so he lets the subject drop. Later, he wonders if that's why Tim brought up his homicidal undead brother (as opposed to his homicidal ninja brother; Kon's more grateful than ever to be an only child). It's the kind of sneaky thinking Tim's the best at.
He throws a party at the tower when he gets his acceptance letter, and even Cissie and Anita show up, which puts a smile on Cassie's face, which means he did something right, even if the break they're on has become permanent.
"We just want different things," is how she puts it, and Kon can't disagree, though he wonders sometimes how it happened, how he went from being the superhero kid who didn't even have a civilian identity to a farmer who's going to college.
The summer passes quickly, in between planting, harvesting, and fighting off giant robots and alien invasions, and it's August before Kon's had time to turn around twice.
The idea hits him when he and Bart are watching The Sure Thing. "We should go on a road trip," he says.
"Yeah!" Bart replies. He speeds off and returns with a whoosh, holding out his phone. "I've made a week's worth of playlists!" He takes off again and comes back, and this time, Tim follows about three minutes later. "Tim, you should come with us on our road trip!"
Tim shakes his head, his forehead scrunched up like he's genuinely confused. "I don't understand."
"I'm due at KSU next Friday for orientation," Kon says. "We should make it a road trip, just the three of us, like the old days."
"First of all, it's only a couple of hours from the farm to your dorm, so the drive is not really long enough to merit the term 'road trip,'" Tim says, ticking things off on his fingers, "secondly, it's only a thirty hour drive from here--"
"Not if we stop in Vegas," Kon interrupts.
Tim keeps talking as if he hasn't said anything. "And finally, you can fly and Bart's one of the fastest people on the planet. Why would you want to be stuck in a car that long?"
Kon throws his hands up in exasperation. "Because it's fun! You remember fun, don't you, Tim?"
Tim's mouth quirks into a wry half-grin. "Vaguely."
"Then let us remind you!" Bart says with a manic smile.
And maybe Tim's feeling nostalgic, or maybe he's missed Kon and Bart as much as he'd said (and the fact that he'd said anything at all--with hugs, even--is still shocking, in the best possible way), but he agrees to go. "On one condition."
"Anything," Kon says and Bart nods like a bobble-head.
Kon packs Pa's truck with all his stuff before he leaves for San Francisco. Ma and Pa are going to meet him at the dorm on Friday so he can move in. He got a single, so he should be able to get it done discreetly. He hopes he fits in better there than he did at Smallville High. It should help that Clark went to the University of Kansas, so he's not constantly going to be "Clark's cousin" the way he is at home.
The weekend is mostly boring. Cassie rounds up a couple of would-be rapists and Bart insists they provide security for some rally at Berkeley, but then it's Sunday night and Kon doesn't ask where the car comes from, but it's probably one of Batman's. It has that sleek look to it that screams money, but like, classy money. Wayne money. More of a statement than a scream, he thinks.
They toss their backpacks in the trunk and Kon thinks the trip is going to be derailed before it even begins when he and Bart call shotgun at the same time.
"Kon can have it until the first rest stop," Tim says, using his team leader voice, "and then you can switch."
"But what if I get motion sickness?" Bart says. Tim and Kon both look at him incredulously. "From going too slow."
"I'll allow it," Tim says gravely, and then he actually grins at Kon over Bart's head when Bart scrambles into the front seat.
Kon's ears definitely do not get hot, and no one could prove it if they did. He folds himself into the backseat and sighs, even though there's enough leg room because Tim's got the driver's seat pulled almost all the way up. Kon for once chooses discretion and doesn't say anything about it. He does ruffle Tim's hair, though, and laughs at the way Tim's eyes narrow at him in the rearview mirror.
The first half hour is fine. Bart plugs his phone into the dash and cues up one of his many playlists; this one seems heavy on Korean girl groups, and they bop around like dorks. Well, Kon and Bart bop. Tim nods in time with the beat and occasionally taps on the steering wheel. They both know better than to let him choose the music.
Then traffic on Interstate 5 slows to a crawl. They play the license plate game for a bit and the one where Alice is going on a picnic with some apples. Bart twists himself like a pretzel so he can hang his feet out the window while still keeping his seatbelt on. It looks uncomfortable, but Bart seems fine. He sings the state capitals and Tim makes him calculate how long it'd take him to visit all of them. Then they play some weird word association game that has more rules than Kon likes in his mindless fun, which makes him suspect that it's more of Tim stealth-training them, which he'd be annoyed about except for how it's so ridiculously Tim that it hurts.
Kon knows that Tim's had a rough couple of years, and he just wanted him to have fun, the way they did back when it was just the three of them camping in the old Justice Cave.
Tim clicks off the music and turns on the news. Kon and Bart bicker about whether the Wendy the Werewolf Stalker reboot will be any good--Bart's willing to give it a chance, but Kon is staunchly loyal to the original cast and writers and will take some convincing.
"Either way, it means more Wendy," Bart concludes, and Kon can't argue with that.
"Could you guys be quiet?" Tim says, "I'm trying to listen to the traffic report."
"Uh, we're in the traffic, Tim," Kon answers. "Here's the report: it sucks."
"I want to know whether it's just volume or if there's an accident up ahead, and how bad the alternate routes are if we get off at the next exit."
Kon frowns. There's not a lot of traffic in Smallville and what traffic there is has usually been caused by someone's cow getting loose and wandering through town.
"I'll go find out," Bart says, zipping out of the car before either Tim or Kon can stop him. He comes back moments later. "Jackknifed tractor-trailer. Might be a while."
Kon sighs and catches Tim's gaze in the mirror. Tim gives him what amounts to a shrug with his eyebrows.
"Let's go," he says, unbuttoning his shirt and speeding away after Bart.
Luckily, no one is seriously injured, and Kon is able to move the truck to the shoulder, allowing traffic to begin moving again.
It's easy enough to find Tim, even though the car's not in the same spot, but slightly more difficult to slip back inside without people noticing. Kon winds up in the front seat this time, and Bart sprawls in the back. He starts digging through the various bags of snacks they packed and finally comes up with whatever it is he's looking for.
"Pocky time!" he crows, shoving a box of chocolate pocky at Kon and grabbing another for himself.
"Hey," Kon says, "the green tea flavor is for Tim." It had actually cost more than the other kinds, but it's Tim's favorite, so Kon didn't care.
"Oh, right." Bart passes that box forward, too, and Kon opens it and offers it to Tim.
"Thanks," Tim says, giving him a small, pleased smile.
They make a little distance before the traffic slows to a crawl again, and this time Bart's conclusion is volume. "It's just cars as far as the eye can see," he says.
"Hmph," Tim says, shifting a little. He's the only one of them who hasn't been in and out of the car yet, and Kon wonders if he's starting to get bored or stiff. He also knows Tim would never admit to either.
"Time for my playlist," Kon says, replacing Bart's phone with his own.
Tim gives him an amused glance. "Hits of the 90s?"
"I can't help it if the lab techs at Cadmus liked Pearl Jam," Kon answers. He's taken enough shit from the team about his musical taste over the years. "At least it's not Enya."
Tim shoots him another look; this time it's both rueful and exasperated; it's one of Kon's favorite expressions of his, which is probably good since he sees it on the regular. "I told you, that was--"
"A joke. I believe you." Kon does not actually believe him.
Bart finishes his pocky and a juicebox and says, "I'm going to check out the traffic again. And maybe the hotel." He goes and comes back. "What hotel did you choose, Tim?"
"I got us a suite at the Bellagio."
"Are you kidding me?" Kon asks.
Bart shrugs and takes off before Tim responds.
Tim also gives a small shrug. "Did you think we'd be staying at a Super 8?"
Tim keeps shooting him concerned looks. "I thought you wanted to enjoy Vegas."
Kon shakes his head. "I wanted a normal teenage experience."
"Like in the movies."
"Yes," Kon repeats. "No. I don't know. Everything's weird. I never thought I'd even go to college and yet, here we are." He scrubs a hand through his hair. "I'm surprised you even agreed to come. I didn't think Batman would give you the time off."
"I think Dick's still trying to make it up to me."
Kon nods. "I didn't expect you to take it, though."
Tim looks away instead of at Kon this time. "The girls are home so Gotham's covered. And Dick thought it was a good idea for me to, uh--" He wrinkles his nose. It's stupidly cute, though Kon will never ever tell him that. "'--embrace the classic teenage rite of passage known as the road trip.'" He's definitely quoting.
It makes Kon laugh. "Well, I'm glad you did, even though it's sucking right now."
Tim's hands tighten on the steering wheel and then he moves his right hand off it and onto Kon's knee, which is new. And weird. But good. This time, it's not just Kon's ears that get hot.
Bart comes back and says, "There's a swimming pool and a museum and I'm gonna take pictures of the fountain for my Instagram," before he takes off again.
Surprisingly, Tim doesn't remove his hand from Kon's knee, so Kon puts his own hand over it and curls his fingers around Tim's. The next time they stop after rolling three feet forward, Kon leans over just as Tim turns his head, and his mouth is right there, so Kon kisses him. Or maybe Tim's the one who kisses him. Kon's never sure afterwards, but it doesn't matter because they're kissing. Tim's lips are warm and dry and his mouth tastes like green tea pocky and Kon squeezes his eyes shut because he feels like his whole body is going to burst into flame and he doesn't want to accidentally end up killing Tim with heat vision because he's so turned on. He'd forgotten what that felt like. It's been a long time.
The sound of horns honking makes them spring apart. Tim's face is flushed and his lips are bright pink, and suddenly Kon doesn't care if they have to sit in traffic for hours if he and Tim can make out.
"Okay," he says, his voice a little rough, "that totally doesn't suck."
The grin Tim gives him this time is wide and bright. He raises an eyebrow and says, "If you play your cards right..."
Kon bursts out laughing.
It takes forever to get to Las Vegas. Bart's already claimed one of the bedrooms, raided the minibar, gone for a swim, and visited the museum. He takes one look at them and mutters something about organizing his pictures into albums and shuts the door to his room.
"Let's never, ever do that again," Kon says, flopping on the king-size bed in the room he hopes Tim is going to share with him.
"Pinky swear?" Tim says, holding out his hand.
Kon pulls him down onto the bed and kisses him. "Pinky swear," he agrees. "Let's do this instead."