Jon fidgeted with the hem of his hoodie, Converses scuffing against the metal floor of the barge as he stared at the wall before him. And stared at it, instead of through it, because the dang thing was made of lead. All of it. Jon scowled and squinted harder, like if he just tried hard enough, his X-Ray vision would suddenly be able to see through lead. Like that had ever worked before, in actually dire circumstances.
“You can’t see through it,” Damian told him, haughtily. He said everything haughtily, of course. Jon blushed and tried for a scowl. Nothing good would come of Damian knowing Jon kinda liked it when he was haughty. Some of the times. More when it wasn’t directed at him, of course.
“I know I can’t, it’s lead.”
Damian nodded. He was in his “street clothes”, which for Damian meant a goofy business suit looking thing. Jon wasn’t sure how he got through college without getting beat up, dressing like that. Or, well, he did know, first-hand: obviously Damian could handle himself. Still, you’d think someone smart enough to graduate college at eighteen would be smart enough to try and blend in, just a little bit.
“I’ve got an experiment I need your super-hearing for,” Damian announced. He stepped up to the room and pressed his hand to a nearly-invisible panel on the side. It glowed briefly and then a door opened before him. He turned and smirked at Jon. Jon squirmed, trying to act like he didn’t love that stupid smirk. From the look Damian gave him, Jon’s poker face needed work.
“You want me to hear something in there?” Jon asked, taking a step forward. But Damian shook his head.
“I’ve sound-proofed it,” he explained. “I think. Stand there and tell me if you can hear anything.”
With that, the door slid shut. Jon blinked, squinting at the walls again, forgetting for a second it was useless. Right. Drat. Then he focused his super-hearing on the room. He ignored the rush of blood in his ears, the sounds of the harbor all around them. Tuned out the sounds of the water beneath the barge, the sounds of the barge itself, electricity sizzling, engines rumbling, A/C humming. Just that room, in front of him. He could hear the wind beating against it, a bird flying by, a fly’s wings as it buzzed past. Focusing, focusing… Jon shook his head and jammed his hands in his hoodie pocket. Huh. Nothing.
After another minute the door reopened, and Jon’s super-tuned ears were immediately assaulted by screeching metal music. He shouted, clamping his hands over his ears in a futile gesture as he dialed down his super-hearing. Damian poked at a remote in his hand, dialing down the music until it was just softly playing in the background.
“It worked, then?”
“Your villainous plan to deafen me? Yeah, kinda,” Jon grumbled, sticking his fingers in his ears and rubbing vigorously.
“Don’t you want to know how I did it?”
Jon cocked his head, then shrugged. “Well, soundproofing, right?”
Damian rolled his eyes. “Think, super-brain. How could I make anything soundproof against you?”
Jon blinked. Then blinked again. He grinned. “Oh, hey, how’d you do that?”
Jon followed Damian into the room. It was a tidy little place, bare essentials: flat screen on the wall, king sized bed against one wall, desk and chair against the other. Damian peered at the built-in storage in the bed. It was one of those IKEA things, with shelves and drawers and stuff. He pulled some stuff out of one of the shelves. Then he immediately shoved it back, blushing cape-red.
“Damian!” he hissed.
Damian snorted, just a little. “What, I embarrass the virgin?”
“I’m not a virgin. I’ve done the same stuff as you,” Jon grumbled, because he knew. Because him and Damian had started kinda going out years ago, officially, kinda, and Jon knew exactly what stuff Damian had done, with him.
“And I’m tired of juvenile over-the-clothes groping,” Damian whined, though he tried to make the complaint sound grown-up. “So I made this.”
“It’s soundproof against my dad,” Jon realized, looking around. He stared at the walls that were just walls for him, completely opaque. “My dad can’t see in here. Or hear. We’re off his radar.”
“Just like that time we got stuck in Apokolips. Or Earth-2. Or any of those other times when we managed to sneak in a little action.”
Jon flushed and rubbed the back of his head, tussling up his hair. “I wouldn’t have let you do more… stuff… even if my dad wasn’t Superman.”
“But having the threat of your dad able to watch your every move isn’t exactly erotic encouragement,” Damian pointed out.
Jon rubbed one arm, embarrassed. Damian was right. Part of the reason they’d stuck to (relatively) chaste make-outs was because Jon knew his dad could see him, if he wanted to. And of course there was always the chance of him accidentally seeing them, just because Dad was looking for Jon for a mission or something. That had happened once a few years ago, when Jon was thirteen, and oh boy, he never wanted to touch himself again after that (he still did, but he painted a thin coat of lead on all six sides of his bedroom before he ever even thought about it again).
“This is kinda weird, Damian,” Jon pointed out, rolling on the balls of his feet. “You built me a sex dungeon.”
Damian scowled and looked away. Oh, shoot. Damian felt bad. He was embarrassed. Jon bit his lip but stayed where he was, knowing Damian wouldn’t appreciate him running over to wrap him up in a hug.
“Well when your boyfriend’s father is a nigh-omniscient super being, you have to get creative if you ever want to get laid. That’s all.”
Jon smiled. “You never call me your ‘boyfriend.’’”
“Look, you can use the room for whatever you want.” Damian was already pulling his phone out, fiddling with it so he didn’t have to look Jon in the eyes. “I’ve got… plans. Training with the Titans. You know how it is.”
Bull-hockey. Jon grinned. He knew Damian’s training schedule as well as his own, he had no such plans. But Jon let it go as he peered around the room. It might be nice just to have this space he knew his dad couldn’t see. Just to… to pick his nose, or fart, or something! Jon’s eyes skittered back to the cubby in the side of the bed before hurriedly skittering away. Or do other stuff. Maybe.
“Hey, wait.” Jon grabbed Damian’s wrist as he shoved past, and he only needed to use a little bit of super-speed to do it. “How’d you do it?”
Damian didn’t need to ask why Jon meant, he knew he was asking about the soundproofing. Lead walls was easy—soundproofing, now, that Jon had never seen.
“Magic,” Damian told him without meeting his eyes. “Got some info from Raven’s library.”
Jon wrinkled his nose. “Does she know?”
“Tt.” Damian rolled his eyes. “Of course not.”
Jon ducked his head, letting his fringe cover his eyes. “Well, uh. We could hang out here, for a bit. Do some homework?” He smiled crookedly up at Damian. “It’s nice having a place my dad can’t see me.”
Damian rushed over to press the contact next to the door, sliding the door shut. He whirled on Jon with that damned attractive smirk firmly in place.
“You’ve got a super-brain,” he told Jon. “And I’m done with school.”
“I still have homework,” Jon protested, pretty much falsely. He did have homework, but of course like Damian said he could get it done in seconds. And really, with the door closed, and Damian crowding in—as well as he could, five inches shorter than Jon as he was—Jon didn’t really much want to do his AP Bio homework.
And then Damian was kissing him, and Jon was hot all over, from the tips of his hair to the soles of his sneakers.
“I don’t wanna…” Jon protested, even as he let Damian push him onto the bed. Damian pulled back and waited for Jon to explain, even though of course they both knew Jon could stop Damian anytime he wanted to. Jon looked into those sharp green eyes and winced. “Um, not all the way, you know?” Jon’s fingers curled around Damian’s shoulders, kneading at all that tight muscle under his skin.
Damian nodded and leaned in with a surprisingly gentle kiss. “Yeah, I know.” Damian pulled away and looked off to his right, Damian’s sure tell that he was searching for the right words. “I didn’t mean to imply we’d do everything, just because we have this room,” he explained. “But, when you’re ready-”
Jon tapped his shoulder with just a smidge of superhuman force. Damian grimaced and corrected himself:
“When we’re ready. Best to be prepared. Rather have the resources before we need them than need them and not have them.”
“Of course.” Jon beamed up at Damian. “You’re always prepared.” He ducked his head, picking at Damian’s shirt. “It’s, you know. One of those things I… you know…” He steeled himself. Dad always said that if you meant something, say it. He was the boy of steel. He could do this. “…loveaboutyou.”
Damian’s face clouded before he swiftly buried it in Jon’s neck. He didn’t say anything, but Jon didn’t really need him to. He just needed to say it for himself. Jon felt lighter, even a little dizzy, as they started making out again. Damian kissed like he was fighting a war. And Jon kinda wanted him to win it.
Clark frowned down at the barge, the solid cube glinting in the late-evening glow. He brought his phone to his ear as he floated above Morrison Bay.
“Superman.” Bruce’s voice was gruff.
“Batman,” Clark greeted him back, much more warmly. “Do you happen to know why there’s a room I can’t see into on the boys’ fortress?”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line, until: “It’s coated in lead.”
Clark chuckled to himself, shaking his head. Just like Bruce to state the obvious. “Well, of course. But why is there a lead room that my son can’t see into on his own fortress?”
Bruce was silent another moment. “I’m two minutes out,” he finally said.
Clark took that as the dismissal it was and tucked his phone back into his spandex. Sure enough, one hundred and fifteen seconds later Clark’s car pulled into the docks. Clark floated over to him as Bruce pulled several fancy looking surveillance devices from the trunk of his car.
“Superman.” Bruce eyed the costume significantly and Clark chuckled again. Hint taken. He dashed off and changed behind a building before strolling back out, adjusting his glasses. Bruce was his public persona: hair slicked back, fashionable trench moving around his calves as he fiddled around in his trunk.
“Mr. Wayne,” Clark teased. “What a coincidence meeting you down here at Gotham’s docks.”
Bruce shot him a look so much like his own son that Clark got chills. He’d been subject to that look from Jon plenty over the years, especially as Damian and Jon’s partnership had grown. He laughed and clasped Bruce’s shoulder warmly.
“I don’t want to spy on our sons,” Clark hedged as he watched Bruce pull out a telescopic satellite dish.
“What can you hear from the room?”
Clark cocked his ear towards the room. He was met with a terrifying wall of silence.
“I can’t hear anything.”
He tried harder, hearing atoms of air molecules crash into the room, but then utter, deafening silence any further than the edges of the walls.
“Bruce, I can’t hear anything-”
“I’m picking up residuals of Raven’s magical signature,” Bruce confirmed. He placed a hand on Clark’s arm, a gesture so shocking in its unusualness that it stopped Clark’s panic dead. Bruce stared at a screen in his trunk, frowning. Then his face did something… Clark couldn’t read it. Bruce cleared his throat and squinted at Clark.
Bruce’s lips were a thin line. “I just figured out why I would have built that room. If I was Damian.”
“You think Damian built it?”
Bruce shut the trunk. Clark frowned at it, then up at Bruce.
“Has Jon ever lined anything with lead? To keep you from seeing?”
“Well, his bedroom, after…” Clark trailed off. He hadn’t chastised Jon for anything, of course. It was all very natural. Part of growing up. And right now his son was seventeen and there was a lead room on his superhero base. That he shared with Bruce’s son, that madman Damian.
Who Clark was pretty sure Jon was dating. In some way.
Clark turned green.
“I can broach the subject with Damian,” Bruce offered as he stepped quickly back to the driver’s side door. “Just to… check.”
Clark stared out at the barge. “Are they… in there…?” He could fly over and knock on the door. But then he had a vision of Damian answering the door, shirtless and in boxer shorts, with Jon sprawled out on the bed behind him... And Damian would be smirking at Clark, he just knew it, he could see that smug little smirk. Clark waved his hands. “Never mind. I’ll talk to Jon tonight at dinner.”
Bruce fiddled with the handle on the door of his Bentley. He wouldn’t look at Clark. “Have you…” he cleared his throat lightly. “Have you talked to Jon? About… safety?”
“Of course,” Clark assured Bruce. “Lois and I made sure to talk to Jon about everything. Super and regular.”
Bruce nodded curtly. He yanked open the door and was nearly ducked into it before Clark grabbed his elbow. Just lightly, but also firmly enough that Bruce would have to rip his arm off to get away.
“Well?” Clark pressed. “What about Damian?”
Bruce squirmed. “He hardly needs…”
“Dick is his older brother,” Bruce pointed out. “I’m sure he knows everything…”
Bruce huffed, patented Batman scowl creasing his face. “Yes, of course, yes: I’ll speak with him.”
“You speak with him. Not Alfred.”
Bruce hesitated, then frowned harder. “Yes, very well.”
Clark shook his head as he let Bruce go. His eyes skimmed back over the barge before he could help himself. He shuddered and dragged his gaze away. Jon would be getting a talking to, tonight, that was for sure.
“Superman called me out to the docks today,” Bruce broached the subject.
“Bully,” Damian shot back. He was squinting through some Bat-noculers, tracking their mark.
“He noticed the new addition to your base.”
Damian was too good to have a tell, but Bruce could read him anyway. He was his son, after all. Damian kept his breathing steady, not flinching in the slightest from his stake out. But he had heard. He knew.
After a moment—not even a beat too long, exactly the right amount of time—Damian hummed in the affirmative.
“Right, Superboy’s new study.”
Bruce wanted to shift in his bat-boots, but like his son, he was too well trained for that. He tried again.
“It occurred to me that we’ve never had a sit down talk about… puberty. Safety. Man-to-man.”
Damian grappled away before Bruce could blink.
Bruce trailed Damian through the city as Damian diligently maintained his stakeout. He was too much of a professional not to, to Bruce’s good fortune.
“You should use condoms-” was all Bruce managed to get out the next time before Damian was off again.
Clark would be disappointed in Bruce if he didn’t do this. Bruce could see his face already. He hunched his shoulders and kept after his annoyingly aerobic offspring.
“You should always use lubricant for anal sex. The anus doesn’t produce its own lubricant like a vagina does.”
A short, high-pitched whine over his comm as Damian flipped over the side of a building. Bruce dropped down after him.
“Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.” This time, Damian had to stop to set up some surveillance equipment, so Bruce had more than one quick moment. He subtly fought to catch his breath as he continued. “Communication is key.”
Damian straightened up and stared at Bruce, eyes inscrutable behind his mask. Then he laughed in Bruce’s face before grappling away.
Okay. So he deserved that.
It took the rest of the night-
“Not everything has to be reciprocal. If you’re not comfortable with something, don’t do it.”
-shadowing Damian over the rooftops of Gotham-
“The prostate is a gland which you can stimulate both externally, by applying pressure to the taint, and internally, by pressing against the walls of the colon.”
-but Bruce thought even Clark would write off the evening as successful father-son communication.
“You don’t have to say ‘I love you’ back if you don’t feel it. But if you do, you should make an effort to express the sentiment verbally.”
For goodness’ sake, it had to be enough.
“What is colloquially referred to as ‘doggy-style’ might be a more comfortable position starting out than ‘gay missionary.’”
“Bruce try and give you the sex talk?”
Nightwing flipped himself over the couch to land lightly at Damian’s side. Damian rolled his eyes and scooted as far away on the couch as he could. Richard wasn’t having it, following him so he could sling a brotherly arm around Damian’s shoulders. Damian felt like he was ten years old again. Curse it all.
“Yeah, Alfred gave me mine. After an incident with Poison Ivy that, er, went pretty inappropriately-far considering I was like fourteen at the time.”
Damian said nothing. Everyone knew Richard was the perpetually molestable sidekick, back in his day.
“Did Bruce actually cover everything? I mean, if you and Jon are hooking up, I’m not sure Bruce knows everything he needs to cover. Not first-hand anyway.”
Damian sunk down into the couch cushions. Could this possibly be going worse? Why must he constantly be filled with bright ideas like building a Superman-proof room in which to bed Jon? Why couldn’t he just ignore the problem and attempt intercourse without a thought to the consequences, like most teenagers?
“And you do?” Damian begrudgingly shot back.
Richard rubbed the back of his head and stretched awkwardly. “Well, er, I’ve been around, you know…”
“Tt.” Damian scowled. “I don’t suppose you’ve had relations with a super-being?”
Richard grinned helplessly. “Okay, so maybe I can’t help with that part. But the guy-guy part, Bruce doesn’t really… at least, as far as I know…”
“He explained the mechanics adequately,” Damian cut Richard off, before he could further speculate as to his father’s sex life. Honestly. “And I have internet access.”
Richard shrugged. “Well, sure, but you don’t want to believe everything you see on there.”
“I’m perfectly capable of distinguishing between theater and data,” Damian shot back. “I am the world’s greatest detective.”
Richard’s smile was small and dopey as he stared down at Damian. “Sure, kid,” he finally replied. He ruffled Damian’s hair like the absolute monster he was.
Damian thought that ought to be the end of things. But then Richard kept sitting there, body too tense to be relaxed into watching the documentary Damian had been watching. Damian waited for the other shoe to drop. He was the heir to Batman. He could out last Nightwing.
Eventually, just as Damian predicted, Richard shifted again, held his breath. Then in a rush, he asked: “So, it is Jon, right?”
There was no reason Damian had to answer his brother’s question. But after a long think he begrudgingly replied: “yes.”
Richard nodded. “Cool, cool. He’s nice.”
“He’s Superman,” Damian pointed out. “He’s an exceptional fighter.”
Richard’s smile was charmingly lopsided. “Well, sure, but that’s not why you like him.”
Damian burrowed himself further into the couch cushions.
“He’s all sunshine, isn’t he? Supes’ kid. Optimism and hope.”
“…it’s rather naïve of him.”
Richard sighed and pressed his chin to his cheek as he turned his whole body to Damian. “Sure, but that’s why you love him, huh?”
Damian flushed and wondered at what point the cushions would envelop him completely and Richard’s dopey smile would disappear from his field of vision. When he didn’t reply Richard sat up, reaching out for Damian before thinking better of it and pulling back.
“Hey, dude: you love him?”
Damian shrugged his shoulders and didn’t say a damned word.
“You wanna talk about it?”
Richard sighed. “Well… well, hey: listen. It’s tough, especially in this line of work. But you know Jon. He’s going to be honest with you to a fault, and always try and do right by you. That doesn’t mean he won’t fuck up, but if you can open your mouth once in a while, tell him when something is bugging you, I bet he’d listen. And if it goes south, you know, you’ve got all your bat siblings. We’ve got Bruce’s stores of Kryptonite and could probably put the hurt on him. A little bit, at least.”
Something in Damian squirmed at that, filling with heat and… and some sort of rush of… good. He poked at the arm of the couch, fidgeting with stitching that was perfect and uniform. Oh. Okay.
Richard was blissfully silent through the rest of the documentary, only standing and stretching as the credits rolled. But of course he still had to have the last word, so as he turned to leave he ruffled Damian’s hair one more time before stating: “The Bats are family, you know. And family means we can rely on each other, and that we’ve always got your back. So, you know, if you ever need to talk, we’re here.” He laughed and threw his thumb over his shoulder. “And maybe me and J can’t stitch together a single healthy relationship between us, but Tim isn’t the worst, and there’s always Kate or Cassie if you want a, er, very twisted girl’s perspective on anything.”
Damian stared up at Richard flatly. “I’m overburdened with choice,” he quipped.
“That’s the spirit!” Richard ruffled his hair one more time as Damian finally had enough and started karate-chopping Richard’s hand away.
“Seriously, kiddo: anytime.” Richard shot Damian finger-guns as he left, whistling.
Damian flopped back down on the couch, debating which training exercise to spend the afternoon on. There was one simulation that required Jon be there that Damian had wanted to run for a while. He glanced around furtively before tugging out his phone and sending a text. It was a perfectly legitimate reason to have Jon come over, after all.
Jon darted in his bedroom window, wind wiping at his hair. It couldn’t wipe the grin off his face, though. Training with Damian always did that—even when Damian came close to kicking his butt, like he had today. Jon grinned even more as he crash-landed onto his bed, letting his gangly limbs bounce around freely with the box springs. It was always kinda fun when Damian caught him, or managed to pin him, just for a minute. Especially when Jon managed to sneak a kiss like he had today. And Damian hadn’t pulled away and scowled. He’d kissed back, real vicious, just for a second. Jon’s hand rubbed against his stomach. It was a good day.
Jon shoved himself up on his bed, feet sprawled on the ground. “Yeah Dad?”
The door to his bedroom opened a crack, Dad’s face peering in. “Hey, son. You got a minute? Mom and I want a chat.”
Jon pushed himself off his bed and nodded. “Sure!”
As he approached the door to his bedroom Dad made a face and waved his hand.
“Not so fast: how about you wash some of that stink off and put on clean clothes.”
Jon wrinkled up his face. “Dad.”
Dad held his hands up as Jon swung his door open all the way and stomped into the hall. “Hey, hey! It doesn’t take a super-nose to smell that post-training funk.”
Jon huffed. “It’s not fair that I got body odor from Mom’s side.”
Dad put his hand on Jon’s shoulder and squeezed. “Hardly the least of the virtues you inherited from your mother.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know: Mom’s the best.”
Dad tweaked his nose. “Don’t you forget it. Now wash up.”
As fast as he could—not really that fast at all, since Jon’s super-speed couldn’t force the water to fall faster from the showerhead—Jon washed up and got downstairs in a clean pair of jeans and t-shirt. He only realized once he was sitting at the kitchen table with his mom and dad that it was a Batman t-shirt he’d tugged on. His mom glanced at it and smirked some sort of terrible, all-knowing mom smile. He could change the shirt faster than his mom’s eyes could see, but his dad would see it. Best to just charge ahead and act like it didn’t matter.
Jon smiled at both his parents. He wanted to kick his legs under the table, but his legs had grown way too long to get away with that about four years ago. He settled for folding his feet on top of each other anxiously. “What’s up?”
Dad cleared his throat, then looked over at Mom. Mom looked back at him and smiled her fake, why-don’t-you-handle-this-sweetums? kind of smile. Jon wanted to hide.
“I was flying over Morrison Bay yesterday,” Dad started, and Jon froze. Froze like a blast of his dad’s freeze-breath. Oh no. “And, well, there’s a new edition on your base there, huh? Top secret stuff?”
“Damian built it,” Jon offered quickly. Oh, sure, like blaming it on Damian would really get him out of this conversation. What was he, ten?
“Well, sure, I kinda figured,” Dad replied. “But, uh… So listen, your mom and I just wanted to check in a little bit. We don’t need to hear any details, and of course we already gave you The Talk years ago.”
Jon wanted to fly away to Pluto just so he could freeze the heat of his fire-engine red cheeks. By Rao, this conversation. If only a meteor was heading for earth, he could have an excuse to end it. Jon actually scanned the skies, but no such luck.
“You know what?” Mom spoke up. She was looking at Jon, way too knowingly. Maybe she would make this end? But she turned to Dad and said: “Why don’t you and me go for a walk, Jon? I could use a fancy coffee before I settle in tonight to start that second draft.”
Jon glanced at Dad, then Mom, then back. Dad was doing pretty much the same thing. But Dad shrugged, and so Jon mumbled: “Okay,” and he and his mom were downstairs walking through Metropolis in all its early-nighttime gleam.
“Your dad wasn’t spying on you,” Mom pointed out. Jon sighed and shoved his hands into his jeans’ pockets.
“I know. Dad doesn’t spy. Not unless, you know, saving-the-world reasons.”
“We know you’re a young man now,” Mom continued. Jon groaned. She laughed and shook her head, sensible bob sliding across her jaw. “I’m not going to ask, and I’m not giving you that talk.” Jon waited as they strolled past all the regular folks of Metropolis, bustling about their late-evening tasks. Heading out to dinner, or to happy hour drinks. Heading home after the gym or long hours in the office. Jon smiled as he looked around at the sea of humanity swirling around them. He almost forgot his own impending humiliation.
As they queued up for coffee—because there was always a queue for coffee in Metropolis, no matter the time of night—Mom turned back to Jon.
“I think your dad’s worried because it’s Damian,” she offered.
Jon blinked. He hadn’t been expecting that. “Huh?”
Mom smiled, real kind, and Jon felt his heart hurt a little, because of course his parents only ever wanted what was best for him. They just wanted him to be happy.
“Well, you know his father. And although we love Bruce, he can be… stand-offish, at the best of times,” Mom explained. “He doesn’t let many people in, and that isn’t always easy to deal with. Especially when you’re... like your father, for example. Clark is very honest, very straightforward. He speaks from the heart, and of course he’s always very expressive with you and me. He lets us know he loves us, and makes us feel loved. Do you understand?”
Jon’s lips twisted as he ducked his head, avoiding his mom’s eyes. Sure, he understood. But she didn’t! Jon’d been working with Damian for years, almost a decade! (almost). She didn’t understand that when Damian tilted his head just like that, it meant Jon had impressed him. Or when his lips curled up just at the corners, it was basically his version of a full-belly laugh. And Mom didn’t get that Damian loved Jon, even if he didn’t say it, because Jon knew he did, because Damian partnered with him in the field and bought him terrible gifts that cost way too much all the time and he kept asking Jon where he was going to college because he wanted to live close by.
But Jon didn’t know how to explain all of that to his mom, or maybe he did, but he just couldn’t. It was his mom, after all. So instead he ruffled up his hair and said: “Dad and Bruce understand each other, right?”
Mom was looking at him with a curious little gleam in her eye. Like she knew the right answer but wanted to see if Jon knew it, too. “Sure. They’ve worked together for years.”
“Yeah, exactly. And so have we,” Jon pointed out. “And like, I get Damian. He doesn’t have to say stuff like how we say it. He still... says it. Just not with words.”
Mercifully it was their turn at the counter. His mom ordered her usual way-too-much-caffeine drink, and Jon ordered himself a hot chocolate. Not like caffeine could affect him anyway, so he didn’t have to pretend to like the bitter beverage.
As they walked back, Mom sipped at her coffee in contemplative silence. Before they rounded the corner to their building, she replied: “Understanding that people express their love different ways is very mature of you,” she hedged. “But…”
“I knew there was a ‘but,’” Jon grumbled.
“But. You’re an exceptional young man. And your father and I think you deserve the best. Someone who appreciates you.”
Jon flushed and ducked his head. Damian ‘appreciated’ him just fine. But he didn’t really want to explain that to his mom.
Instead he thought for a long moment before trying: “You know how Damian has all that money?”
Mom snorted. “You mean how his dad has all that money?”
Jon rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Well, he buys me stuff, you know. But it could just be junk that like, I don’t need, or want, or whatever. Or stuff for himself. But like, that room: he built that. Himself. He did all this research and figured out these spells-” No, wait. Didn’t want to go into that with his mom. Right. “Point is: it’s real personalized, you know? He did that just for me.” He flushed and felt his eyes grow hot. He stared hard at the elevator doors. “He does stuff like that for me all the time.”
Mom didn’t say anything. But she did reach up and rub the back of his neck, just for a second, as the elevator doors opened on their floor. Jon rushed to his room, hiding under his pillow, though from himself or his parents, he wasn’t sure.
His phone blinked after a minute of futile hide-and-seek from his feelings. It was Damian, of course. That’s just the sort of luck he had.
I’m intercepting a phone call Father is receiving.
Jon frowned down at the text.
Is it super-business?
Damian didn’t usually text about that stuff. Not under their public persona accounts at least.
Your parents are inviting Father and I to dinner.
Jon froze. Oh no.
Jon’s phone rang. He picked it up swiftly. “What the heck!” he hissed.
“It’s tomorrow at seven,” Damian greeted him, all business. “What did you tell them.”
“What? Me?! Nothing!”
“Tt. … Father tried to give me the ‘sex talk’ the other day while on patrol.”
Jon thought about this for a minute. “Dude, you’re nineteen.”
“I’m aware of my own age.”
“Didn’t he give you one when you were like, ten?”
“Father was dead when I was ten.”
Jon mulled over this. “Well, didn’t Dick give you one?”
Jon could practically hear Damian scowling over the line. But then, “Father’s off the phone. Must go.” He hesitated, then: “I’ll see you tomorrow at dinner.”
Jon let him hang up, but then swiftly texted him: See you tomorrow. <3
He waited, noting the read receipt and waiting. Eventually, minutes later, Damian texted back a single “thumbs up” emoji. Jon grinned and held his phone to his chest. That was pretty much three hearts and a kissy face, from Damian.
“Light of my life.”
Clark floated around Lois as she moved around their home office, pacing between the printer and the computer as she checked the formatting of her latest project.
After ten minutes of this pleading, Clark knew it was useless. He sighed and floated back down to earth, hanging his head.
“I’ll go start on the pie,” Clark mumbled. “When do you want Bruce and Damian?”
“Oh, seven should be fine.”
Seven on the dot, the
Jon reached across his chest to rub his own arm, sneakers folding against each other nervously. Damian’s eyes flicked behind him, just enough for Jon to notice, like they did in the field all the time. Jon turned and found himself face-to-face with a sight far worse than any Darkseid could dream up: his mother, father, and Bruce Wayne, staring expectantly at him like he was an animal in a zoo. He stared, they stared back. It was the most interminable five seconds of his life. Finally, finally, Dad coughed and stuck his thumb over his shoulder. “Bruce? Why don’t I show you, uh…”
“Right, of course.”
The adults filed out and Jon let out a breath cold enough to ice the picture frames in the hall. He winced, but there wasn’t much to be done. They’d defrost soon enough.
“Sorry,” Jon whispered so only Damian could hear.
Damian shrugged and jammed his hands into the pockets of his fancy suit. “I imagine this is the most normal part of this whole… situation,” he pointed out. “Awkward meet-the-parents type dinners. It’s positively plebian.”
“Gosh, you’re such a jerk,” Jon breathed. He grabbed Damian and pulled him in for a quick kiss. They probably weren’t quick enough or quiet enough so that Dad couldn’t hear, but it was just a kiss. A really, really great kiss, that kinda started to… devolve, as Jon let Damian slip his tongue into his mouth and Jon ran his hand through that terribly slicked-back hair.
“Stop, stop,” Jon whispered, finally pulling away. His cheeks were hot. “I have to…” He separated himself from Damian and breathed deep. Dad had said all this was perfectly normal, same as being a human man, but it sure felt pretty… “super-charged”, sometimes. Though, then again, Jon had telescopic vision and could hear Damian’s blood rushing through his veins, and judging by that, Damian was in pretty much the same state as him.
“You messed up my hair,” Damian subvocalized as he pulled his phone of his pocket.
“Just because it looked so stupid,” Jon whispered only at Damian.
Really, who needed a special room? They had plenty of ways around Dad’s super-everything. On the other hand… Jon started running through cubes of primes as he tried to keep his mind off Damian and the sorts of things he’d want to get up to with him without having to worry about super-ventriloquism or subvocalizations.
“C’mon. Before they get suspicious.” Jon tugged at Damian’s hand. Damian slipped out of his grasp before they reached the living room, which only hurt Jon’s feelings a little bit. It’s not like he expected Damian to walk in front of their collective parents, holding hands and announcing their love to all and sundry.
Dad was just finishing setting the table, balancing five serving bowls of food on his arms as he studied the plates with a critical eye. “Lois, could you-”
“Already got the glasses, blue,” Mom announced as she emerged from the kitchen with glasses.
Dad beamed. “Great! All set then.”
The table was set for five, obviously, but who went where was still up for debate, it seemed. Jon gulped.
Dad sat at the head, so that settled that. Mom sat on his right and gestured for Batman—er, Bruce? Mr. Wayne?—to sit at the other head of the table. So that left three seats: one next to Mom and Mr. Wayne, the other two across the table from Mom.
Jon slipped in between his mother and Mr. Wayne. He tried to gesture with his eyes for Damian to sit across from him. Damian acted like he didn’t see him, but he sat himself down across from Jon in any case. Jon tried to smile at him, but Damian wouldn’t meet his eyes. Drat it all. This was gonna suck.
But then, like a beam of sunshine through the clouds, there was a touch on top of Jon’s foot. He didn’t flinch—he’d spent too much time running drills with Damian for that—but his eyes flickered up to meet Damian’s, but of course he wasn’t looking, he was playing with his water glass disinterestedly. But his foot touched Jon’s again, tapped gently. Jon smiled down at his plate and relaxed.
“You know you really shouldn’t be around that much lead paint,” Mr. Wayne told Damian. “It’s not good for your health.”
The foot pulled back as Damian glared down at his water glass. “It’s fine,” he mumbled.
“I used a mask and then painted over it with unleaded paint so I’m never exposed to it,” Damian ground out.
Jon wanted to slam his head into the table. But that would be rude, and also probably break the table. Under the table, he reached out with his foot and pressed it gently against Damian’s. Above the table, Damian’s shoulders visibly dropped as he took two calming breaths. They’d get through this, the same way they got through everything: together.
“Sometimes I think I should smoke,” Jon commented as he floated up to the roof. Damian scoffed from his position perched on the edge of the roof wall, peering down at Metropolis.
“Rebelling? It wouldn’t hurt you, anyway.”
“Exactly.” Jon lowered himself alongside Damian, toes, then feet, then shins and knees and butt. He leaned against Damian, lending him some of his warmth through the chilly Metropolis night. Damian didn’t lean back, but he didn’t lean away, either. Jon knew he appreciated the extra body heat.
“Plus, it would give me something different from Dad. Like an edge, you know?”
Damian tsked his disapproval. “It’s not cool.”
Jon nuzzled his face against Damian’s neck. “It’s not, but it kinda is, isn’t it? You’d like it.”
“I would not.”
“I saw the way you were checking out me that time we crossed over with that bad-boy universe,” Jon pointed out. “Was it the smoking or the blue highlights in my hair?”
Damian said nothing for a long minute, but Jon waited him out. Finally Damian mumbled: “The tongue piercing.”
Jon howled with laughter, hugging onto Damian and refusing to let go. Damian let this childish display of affection continue because he loved it, he totally did.
As Jon settled back down, Damian leaned against him, hesitantly moving his arm so it was on the other side of Jon’s waist. Not touching, exactly: just resting his palm on the concrete wall, just an inch from Jon. Jon relaxed backwards until they were touching, to which Damian replied with a small, nearly-inaudible sigh of contentment. It was the sort of noise he made just for Damian, outside the range of human hearing, but perfect for Jon’s super-hearing.
“That was not as much of a disaster as I had feared,” Damian admitted after several long minutes of quiet companionship.
“Of course it wasn’t.” Jon let his head fall to Damian’s shoulder, even though it was kinda a weird angle, with Damian being so much shorter than him. “Our families are great.”
Damian made some sort of general noise of disagreement, but Jon knew that was bull-hockey. He loved his dad—and his butler, and his brothers and sisters, warts and all. The Bat-family was big and weird and emotionally constipated at the best of times, but they were definitely a family, and Damian definitely loved them.
Just like he definitely loved Jon. Even if Jon’s mom and dad weren’t so sure about that.
“Mom gave me a talk.”
Damian grunted. “I thought they gave you the talk years ago?”
“Not about that. About…” Jon hesitated. But like he could keep anything from Damian. “About you.”
Damian didn’t stiffen, exactly, under Jon’s cheek, but his breath slowed to the artificially steady beat it always matched when Damian was on a mission. Jon sighed and pushed himself up so he could look at Damian.
“And?” Damian scowled, because it was what he did best.
Jon pressed his hands to Damian’s, folding them up and tugging them into his lap. Like that might soften the blow. “They’re just worried. Mom and Dad. You’re not always nice to my dad, you know.”
Damian scowled harder. “Only when he refuses to listen on a mission. We’re not all supermen. He’s disastrous at team-planning, ought to leave that to the brains, not the brawn-”
Jon rubbed Damian’s hands between his own, like he was trying to soothe a particularly hissy cat. “Yeah, okay, sure.” Not really, because Jon’s dad was the best team leader, but now wasn’t the time to debate “my dad could beat up your dad.” “It’s just, he only sees you when you’re grouchy, or fighting, or both. So he thinks, you know, that’s how you are all the time. And he knows your dad.”
“Father isn’t ‘grouchy.’ He’s just not naively optimistic.”
Jon groaned. “See, it’s stuff like that.”
Damian frowned and tried to pull his hands away, but Jon wouldn’t let him.
“I know you love me. They just kinda don’t get it. You know, my mom and dad are real lovey-dovey. They’re not… well, like your dad.”
Damian’s eyes flicked to the side nervously. He gently extracted his hands from Jon’s as he thought.
“Your mother thinks I treat you badly?”
Jon sighed and scrubbed at his hair. “Not exactly. She just worries, you know how mo- er, well. You know.”
Damian had one hand drawn into his chest, the other drumming on his leg. He wouldn’t look at Jon.
“But they don’t approve.”
“It’s not that-”
“They think you’d be better off with someone more affectionate.”
“No,” Jon insisted. “They just think I won’t get it, or something. Like I don’t get you. Which is crazy, I totally get you. I told mom that, too. I told her, like, Dad and Batman get along super great, and Dad doesn’t take it personally when Batman’s all…” Jon drew down his face into his grouchiest possible expression. “Adequate job, Superman. Hh.” Then Jon flapped his arms like he was flying away. Damian squinted painfully at him.
“Father does not flap his arms like that.”
Jon laughed and punched Damian in the shoulder. “Whatever, you know what I mean. And dad doesn’t have a problem with that! He knows your dad totally loves him. You know, in a super-best-friends sorta way.”
“But they’re not ‘boyfriends,’” Damian mused, fingers still drumming.
Abruptly Damian seemed to come to a decision. He nodded to himself, face the most serious. He reached forward and grabbed Jon’s hands and held on to them tight, folded against his chest. Jon grinned but waited patiently for whatever Damian was taking so seriously.
Damian’s entire face was scrunched up, like he was about to eat a particularly rotten burger but would do it for the good of humanity. One, two, three breaths, and then he announced in a rush: “I love you, Jon.”
Jon wasn’t ready for that. He flushed all over, tips of his hair feeling like it was humming with dizzy joy. He stared at Damian, not really seeing him, because his vision had completely whited-out and he’d lost the ability to process his own surroundings.
I love you, Jon.
I love you, Jon.
“Well if you’re going to react so poorly…” Damian mumbled, fingers loosening around Jon’s.
“No!” With maybe a touch too much super-speed and super-strength, Jon clung to Damian’s hands, pressing them back against Damian’s chest. “What are you talking about, I just…” Jon breathed, like he was breathing out a mind-altering drug, heady but careful (not that he’d ever experimented. He was a good kid. Not to mention any earth-drugs would be wasted on him). “I just need a minute.”
“You have a super-brain,” Damian pointed out.
“I’m not using my brain,” Jon shot back.
And then Jon laughed, because of course that wouldn’t have occurred to Damian. Of course he thought Jon was thinking about his love confession, instead of just… sitting in it. Feeling it. Letting his heart float around in it for a good, long time. Jon knocked his forehead into Damian’s, breathing in his smell, feeling the soft puffs of hot air against his cheek from Damian’s worried exhalations.
“You know I love you, too,” Jon finally said back. Damian looked off to the side.
“You say it all the time.”
Jon beamed. “And now you said it.” He leaned in and gave Damian a swift kiss on the lips. “You didn’t have to say it.”
“Ask your parents that,” Damian grumbled.
“You shouldn’t say it for them.”
“I didn’t,” Damian reassured him. His lips twisted. He was going to say something heartfelt. Jon beamed. He now knew what Damian’s “heartfelt” face was. No one else on Earth probably knew that. Much less the galaxy! “I said it for you. Because like, I do. And you deserve to hear it. Or… whatever.”
Jon crawled up into Damian’s lap, kissing him soundly. Damian’s hands came up automatically around Jon’s back, holding him place in their precarious position sitting on the edge of a building. Jon pressed his chest against Damian’s solid, muscled bulk, enjoying the strength he could feel all around him. His own strength was so overstated, and unearned, that Jon loved to be wrapped up in Damian’s arms and feel a lifetime of hard work holding him in place.
“Do, uh…” Jon peered down at Damian. Neither of them was breathing heavy, exactly, but he could see the faint shine of his spit all over Damian’s lips, and hear the way his heart stuttered from its usual perfectly metronomic rhythm. Not to mention the other very basic, human stuff he could feel from Damian right now. Jon shifted his own, fifty percent human body responding very much in kind. “Do you want me to fly us out to the base?”
Damian actually shivered. Jon could have flown to the moon and back, just on pure happiness. “Our parents are downstairs.”
“Yeah, well, my dad’s always on the planet—or, well, usually he is—so someone could always know when we sneak away.”
“This is a bit more obvious than that,” Damian pointed out. But Jon could hear it in his voice and blood pressure: all these protests were basically lies. Damian wanted to go with him.
Since Damian had done something totally out of his own comfort zone, Jon figured maybe he should return the favor. So he asked himself what would Damian do, and then he scooped Damian up without asking and started flying them away. A tiny squeak escaped Damian before he stopped it. Best date night ever.
“You normally give me a warning,” Damian pointed out, arms crossed over his chest.
Jon grinned. “And you never give me a warning.”
And, because it was the best date night ever, Damian actually let Jon have that, and fly him off to their Fortress.
Where Jon most definitely did not let Damian do everything their parents were probably worried about them doing, but okay, did definitely try out some stuff they hadn’t done before. Which was pretty great. And it was all thanks to his brilliant, crazy boyfriend and his brilliant, crazy plans.