The group of farm kids is the closest thing Kon has to friends in Smallville, so he lets himself be talked into going to The Fair with them. The Fair. He can hear the capital letters when they say it. Jesus, he thinks, it's like something out of one of those movies Ma makes him watch, the ones he pretends to hate but actually enjoys, with the singing and the dancing and the spangly costumes. It's not his fault. He might have a not-so-secret thing for spangly costumes. He's pretty sure it's genetic.
He eats his body weight in fried food and wins a stuffed unicorn at the ring-toss, which he hands off to one of the little kids running around hyped-up on sugar. They remind him of Bart.
The line of kids at the face-painting stall has dissipated, and one of the football players whose name Kon chooses not to remember bumps his shoulder in what Kon takes as a challenge. "She's checking you out, man."
Kon looks over at the chick in the booth and she's definitely checking him out. She has sharp blue eyes and a really nice rack, so when she waves him over, he goes with a smile.
"Hey," he says.
"Hey." She gestures with her paintbrush and he settles himself on the stool, giving her a grin that wouldn't look out of place in a toothpaste ad. "What can I do for you?"
He opens his mouth to feed her a really lousy pickup line and then closes it again, thinking of Cassie. He misses her, misses the soft give of her body beneath his, the sheer strength hiding beneath that softness. He rolls up the sleeve of his T-shirt and says, "I always wanted a tattoo."
She bites her lip and narrows her eyes in concentration, and suddenly it's not Cassie that she reminds him of.
He's in a great mood when he gets home from the fair. He's full of unhealthy fried food (most of it eaten off sticks) and sunlight, and he hooked up with a cute blonde who absolutely did not remind him of Cassie (or Tim). He joins Ma out in the kitchen garden, digs his fingers into the dirt, and starts pulling up weeds with his telekinesis.
"Hi, Ma," he says, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
She smiles at him. "You look like you had a good time. Didn't I tell you?"
"Yeah." He's not too proud to admit that she was right. She usually is, even if he doesn't believe it until after the world proves it to him. He gives her a lazy smile and gathers the weeds into a pile. Even though there's no one around for miles, he ostentatiously checks for prying eyes before he lets loose with the heat vision on them (it's possible Tim's paranoia has rubbed off on him); they're still wisping a little smoke when he dumps them in the compost bin. He's gotten much better about not setting them on fire. The first time had been kind of a mess, to put it kindly.
"Conner?" Ma sounds concerned.
"Yeah?" He follows her gaze to the S-shield painted in bright red on his bicep.
"You don't think that's a bit, well, obvious?"
"It'll wash off," he says, giving her a big, reassuring grin. "No worries."
It does fade a bit in the shower, which is a little annoying, because he likes how it looks, the way it moves when he flexes. Not that he's posing in front of the mirror or anything. Of course not. Still, he cocks an eyebrow and shoots finger-guns at his very fine reflection before he finishes getting dressed.
He pulls a flannel on over his t-shirt when Ma's brow furrows in concern, and doesn't think about it at all again until he's in detention that afternoon, and done with his calculus homework. He still has seven minutes left. It's like an eternity. Except that it will end. He just has to stay strong. He fidgets, stripping off his flannel and shoving it into his bag. He sighs and glares at the clock. He could move the hands forward, but that would be cheating. It's tempting, but he resists.
Ms. Lundquist raises an eyebrow at him when he lets out another sigh, and he shrugs. Which reminds him of the temporary tattoo on his left arm, which has faded to a sad shadow of its former glory. He pulls out the red Sharpie he uses in physics lab and starts filling in the lines.
It distracts him enough that he's surprised when Ms. Lundquist says, "You can go now, Conner."
"What? Oh." Only superfast reflexes save him from drawing a red line down the length of his arm. He grabs his books and jumps up, nearly knocking the desk over in his rush to get out of there. "See you tomorrow."
She laughs and shakes her head.
That week, every morning he spends a little time touching it up so the color doesn't fade. He wears long-sleeved shirts at home, because he doesn't like making Ma worry. Even when it's hidden, he likes the way it makes him feel; it's like wearing his uniform t-shirt, except it can't be ripped off during a fight.
He doesn't think about it again until Friday afternoon when he gets to the Tower and searches Tim out, with the intention of making him do something fun for once.
Tim's mouth quirks in a half-smile and Kon's thrilled to get that much of an expression from him. Things are better, or at least, they're getting there.
Then Tim frowns, worry line creasing his forehead. "Really, Kon, maybe you don't care if people know you're Superboy, but think about everyone else in your life."
"What?" He glances down at his arm. "Oh. Nobody's going to figure it out. They haven't yet, anyway."
But Tim's frown stays with him, makes him worry the way even Ma's concern didn't.
When he gets home on Sunday night, he scrubs it off in the shower. It's stupid to feel sad about washing off a temporary tattoo, but he does. Stupid Tim. It's all his fault.
In the morning, Kon does his chores, clucking back at the chickens and soothing the cows. He takes his boots off outside, pads into the house in bare feet, and puts the basket of eggs on the counter. He washes his hands, water cool against his skin. Ma is in the shower; he can hear her humming beneath the sound of the spray. He glances at the coffee maker, as if he can will it to brew faster. He's quick enough to switch the pot out for a mug and then return the pot without any spillage when it finally starts to drip, and he drinks it black and hot enough to scald a normal person. He finishes one cup and pours out another. He wonders if this is what it feels like for Bart all the time, and that makes him a little queasy.
He reads through the sports and entertainment sections of the paper while Ma gets dressed. The Sharks have a four game winning streak going. He traces the giant M of their logo with a finger, and after a second of thought, grabs the black and blue markers from the junk drawer.
It's harder than he expected to draw on himself--he has to settle for drawing on the inside curve of his arm instead of the outside, where the original tattoo had been, but he does a pretty decent job, if he says so himself.
He's coloring the M in with the blue marker when Ma comes into the kitchen. She shakes her head and says, "Oh, Conner," but there's amusement in her voice so he doesn't let it bother him.
He touches it up each morning after he showers, so the blue is still as bright on Friday afternoon as it was on Monday morning.
He stops off in Albuquerque to help put out a fire, and arrives late to the Tower, sooty, t-shirt slightly singed.
"Tim's not here yet," Cassie says when he hits the kitchen. She sits at the table and watches as he drains a bottle of water and reaches into the fridge for a second one. He's not sure why she sounds amused.
"I'm going to take a shower." He wipes wet fingers across his forehead and wrinkles his nose when they come back gray.
He looks up from where he's coloring in the blue M on his arm to see Tim leaning against the door to his room, arms crossed over his chest. "I was bored."
"That doesn't explain why you have it in the first place."
"Sure it does."
Tim raises an eyebrow.
"Smallville is boring."
"And you entertain yourself by drawing on your arm with a Sharpie?"
"Hey, don't knock it 'til you've tried it."
That gets him a surprised snort. Score. "If you say so."
"I do. If you listened to me more often, you might have a little more fun."
"Fun?" Tim's mouth quirks in a half-smile. "I don't believe I know the definition of the word."
"I know," Kon says, smiling back. "It's a good thing you have me around to show you."
"Yeah," Tim says. "It is."
After that, Kon makes it a game.
The next week, he draws an anchor and sings, "I'm Popeye the sailor man," until Tim threatens him with Kryptonite.
"I'll hold him down and you scrub him," Cassie offers.
Kon winks at her. "Ooh, kinky."
"Ugh." She throws up her hands and walks away, calling back over her shoulder, "He's all yours, Tim."
Tim wrinkles his nose and Kon says, laughing, "You know you want me." He attempts to sling an arm around Tim's shoulders, but Tim ducks out from under him and moves away. Kon has the fleeting thought that his hair smells nice.
His next trick uses up the small store of patience he has. It's not that it's a difficult design so much as that it needs to be precise, each line the appropriate thickness and the exact same length.
Tim raises an eyebrow when he sees it. "So if we ran you through a bar scanner, would you cost more or less than Maggie Simpson?"
Kon frowns at him. He pulls the marker out of his back pocket. "One Sharpie chisel-point marker: $1.50. Time spent drawing a barcode on my arm: twenty-seven minutes. Being Superboy: Priceless."
"You're priceless, all right," Tim says. "We couldn't pay anyone enough to take you off our hands."
"Hey! I'll have you know my services are very much in demand in Smallville." He strikes a pose, chest puffed out, hands on hips. He's never made it work the way Superman does, but it always puts a smile on Tim's face. "As a specimen, yes, I'm intimidating."
Tim's mouth curves in a quick, wicked grin. "No one's as gross as you, Kon. No one composts like you, Kon."
"But do you use antlers in all of your decorating?" Bart asks. "You know, they have Disney trivia night on Saturdays at Duke's. I bet we could totally win a free dinner."
Kon looks over at Tim, who gives him a nearly imperceptible shrug. They'll probably get called out to fight bad guys before trivia night even starts, but it's been a long time since they got to hang out without drama.
"Okay," Tim says, and Kon grins at the way Bart lights up.
It's not until later that he wonders how Tim knows about his adventures in composting. He decides he doesn't really want to know.
The week after that, Kon spends a ridiculous amount of time and uses up most of the ink in his black Sharpie by drawing a large version of the Dark Mark on the inside of his left forearm. Ma calls Clark to have A Talk with him, but when he explains that he's just doing it to get a rise out of Tim, Clark laughs and tells Ma it's okay. Kon hears him say, "I don't think he's planning to join Voldemort, Ma," before he flies back to Metropolis.
Kon's even more anxious for Friday afternoon than usual that week.
"Pretty cool, huh?" he says. "I used a green gel pen to make it shiny."
"Shiny?" Tim asks faintly.
"You know, so it looks like it glows."
Tim barks out a laugh. Kon thinks it's worth the loss of the marker, and also Ma's worried looks and the visit from Clark.
He's sorry to see that one go--he's kind of proud of how well it turned out. Especially the snake curling around his arm. That was cool. But he's got something a little less showy planned for next week.
The letters are easier to make than he expected, climbing up the inside of his forearm in bright blue. He doesn't know exactly what they say, but he figures they were on the inside of the DVD box, so they can't be anything too outrageous.
"It's upside down," is the first thing Tim says when he sees them.
"The runes are upside down. And here," Tim's fingertip is warm on Kon's skin, and he flushes; Tim doesn't seem to notice, and keeps talking, "this should be the first line, not the last."
"How--You know what, I don't even want to know."
"Do you even know what it says?"
"Uh, this is a magic ring that will make you invisible?" It's not like he's seen all three movies four times each or anything. Languages are not his strong suit.
Tim sighs and points to each line of runes. "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
"Huh. Cool. But it's right-side up when I do this." He lifts his arm, and Tim's fingers drag along the skin before he lets go. Kon's pretty sure it's impossible for him to have a heart attack, but something happens in his chest that feels an awful lot like his heart stops beating for a second.
Tim opens his mouth and closes it again. "I guess it is."
Kon has the weirdest feeling that isn't what he was originally going to say, but Bart comes speeding in and the moment is gone.
Kon buys a new black Sharpie, knowing it might be the last thing he ever buys, and when he's alone up in the barn, he begins inking the Bat symbol onto his bicep. He wonders if any of the Batgirls have a real one tattooed somewhere. Tim doesn't--Kon knows from showering with him in the locker room at the Tower--or at least he didn't before Kon died. They haven't really showered together since then. Not that using the locker room showers at the same time is the same thing as showering together, he tells himself, especially since his dick seems a little too interested in the idea.
He makes himself think about Batgirl instead, the quiet, dark-haired one he'd kissed that time, and the new one, who used to be Tim's girlfriend. Tim probably got off on the idea of his girlfriend having a Bat tattoo. If Tim got off on anything that wasn't, like, being a vigilante.
Holy crap, he thinks. What if Tim lost his virginity while Kon was dead? They are definitely going to have to have some bro-time soon to discuss.
Kon has to stop thinking about Tim and sex, because he's making a mess on his arm. He ends up scrubbing it off in the shower, and then rubbing one out. He bites his lip when he comes, and pretends he isn't thinking of Tim while it happens.
It makes the whole thing that much weirder, and Kon has a hard time making it look anything like the Bat logo it's supposed to be. He gets there eventually, though. He's no Michelangelo, but he's persistent. And it's not like he's got a whole lot of other stuff to do during the week, once his chores and his schoolwork are done.
Ma takes one look at it after he's done and says, "You know, Tim's always welcome here."
"If you want to bring him by for dinner this week, let me know. I'll make fried chicken."
"I'll ask him," Kon says, knowing Tim will probably say no. "He's looking kind of skinny lately." Which isn't exactly true--Tim looks like he's growing up and shedding what little baby fat he had left, and Kon can't help but notice that he's all sleek muscle over sharp bones.
"Do I need to call Alfred?" She looks at him, and he forces himself not to squirm. It's easy to forget that Ma knows more than she lets on, and sees more than he thinks. He shakes his head. "Well, then, we'll just have to feed him up when he comes."
He presses a kiss to her cheek. "Sounds good, Ma."
He's antsy all week, cuts out of school early on Friday afternoon to head to the Tower. Tim's already there, and he doesn't look particularly pleased this time when Kon shows off his new ink.
"Somehow, I don't think he's going to welcome you into the Cave with open arms," Tim says.
"I thought you said he'd mellowed out a bit after coming back from the dead."
"He wasn't dead. He was unstuck in time."
Kon waves a hand back and forth. "Six of one..."
"And I don't think he'll ever mellow out that much. You know how he feels about metas."
"I'm crushed," Kon says, putting a hand over his heart like a soap opera heroine, going over the top to hide that he's actually hurt by Tim's response. He doesn't expect Batman to ever think of him as more than a defective Superman clone with an unfortunate helping of Luthor genes, but he'd hoped Tim would at least get a kick out of it, or something. He's not really sure what he wants from Tim. He won't let himself think about it too much. To cover his confusion, he sings, "No one fights like Batman, has rough nights like Batman. No one looks quite so hot in his tights like Batman."
Tim shakes his head and holds up a hand, horrified look on his face. "Stop, Kon, please. Not only do I not want to hear you sing, I really don't want to hear about your sexual fantasies about Batman."
Kon recoils in horror. "Oh my god, Tim. Why would you even say something like that? That is, like, the biggest boner-killer ever. I'm not going to be able to jerk off for weeks."
Tim mutters something about getting what he deserves and walks away.
Kon scrubs the Bat logo off as soon as he can, but all weekend, he can't stop mumble-singing the song, even when Cassie threatens to toss him off the roof.
"I can't help it," he says. "Tim started it. I'm earwormed!"
"You deserve it, for ruining Beauty and the Beast," Cassie says.
"You should hum 'Tom's Diner,'" Bart tells him. "It usually takes care of earworms for me."
Tim just leans against the wall, arms crossed, and Kon has the strongest urge to kiss the smirk off his face. Instead, he mumbles, "My, what a guy, that Batman."
Kon thinks that might be the end of it. He puts the markers into his backpack and tries to forget about them. He plays Angry Birds on his phone in detention (which gets him more detention). Ma makes him cookies and tells him she's always there if he wants to talk, but otherwise leaves him be. He's not sure what she thinks happened. He's not sure what he thinks happened, and he was there. He was just trying to be funny.
No, he realizes, after the first time, he was trying to make Tim laugh. He hadn't expected it to become a thing, but when does he ever?
It's just Tim being Tim, making things complicated when they should be simple. Kon should be used to it by now.
Plenty of people--regular, non-superhero people--have Batman tattoos. It doesn't have to mean anything. He wouldn't get bent out of shape if Tim got an S-shield tattoo. In fact, the idea makes Kon flush. He takes a quick break to jerk off, and then settles down with his markers. He doesn't even have to think about what it's going to be this time. There's only one thing it can be.
He outlines the R in black first, and then shades the lines along the inside with red. He worries that the yellow won't show up against his skin, but outlined in red and black, it gleams in the light of his bedroom.
He gets hard every time he looks at it, thinking of Tim. He wonders if this is how Tim felt when he was Robin. And he doesn't want to think about that too much, because it'd be weird. Which is kind of Tim's watchword, so Kon tries not to think about him at all, forcing himself to concentrate instead on Iago's motivations in Othello. Which doesn't work, because that guy's just straight-up evil. His English teacher laughs when Kon says that, but doesn't argue. Kon hopes it makes an impression, because he's pretty sure he's only got a C in the class and he's probably going to botch the final.
He's anxious when Friday rolls around, jittery in a way he doesn't get too often, and he has to remind himself to stop freaking out; it's just Tim. It's just, you know, his best friend who he also maybe, kinda, sorta wants to make out with.
He takes the long way to San Francisco, stopping twice--once to keep a lady from being mugged, and once to brush his teeth so his breath is minty fresh, in case Tim also wants to make out with him.
It doesn't matter--Tim's not there when Kon arrives, and he doesn't show up until later that night, after Kon's eaten half a pizza with extra onions and garlic. He looks exhausted, face pale and lips pressed tightly together, and when he pushes back that stupid cowl, he has dark smudges under his eyes.
Kon follows him to his room. "You okay, man?"
"Yeah. Just..." He raises a hand and then lets it drop to his side. "Family drama."
Kon knows better than to ask for details. "You know you can talk to me, right? I mean, for Batfamily values of talk, though if you want to actually tell me what's wrong, that'd be cool, too."
"I know." Tim gives him a small, tired smile. "Thanks." He sits down on the edge of the bed and unfastens his cape. The bandoliers or whatever are next. Kon can't really criticize a guy for having weird straps on his costume (though he does, mostly because it's expected and also funny), but they look heavy when they slide off Tim's shoulders, which slump a little when free of the weight. He drops them to the floor, along with the cape and cowl, which is unusual. Tim occasionally lets his books and papers get a little disordered (not that anyone but Tim would be able to tell--his chaos is more organized than most people's order), but he's always been meticulous about his uniform and equipment. Kon thinks he'd be that way no matter who his mentor was, but working with Batman just increased Tim's tendency towards neat-freakishness.
"Hey," Kon says, sitting on the bed next to him. He tries to ignore the heat of Tim's thigh pressed up against his. "Hey, you know whatever it is, you'll get through it. You always do."
"Yeah," Tim says. "It's not bad. It's just weird. There's not even anything major going on. I think it's just the accumulation of the last few months--"
"Years. Yeah, that. Now that things are getting back to normal," Kon snorts, but Tim ignores him, "it's all catching up to me." He strips off his gauntlets and sits there for a minute, holding them in his lap like he isn't sure what to do with them.
"Let me," Kon says. It'd be easy enough to get Tim's boots unzipped using his tactile telekinesis, but he slips down to the floor and does it by hand, taking the opportunity to touch Tim while he allows it.
He wrinkles his nose at the smell of Tim's socks, but peels them off and tosses them at the hamper without saying anything. Tim's feet feel small in his hands, the bones fragile and too easily broken. He sweeps his thumb over Tim's instep, and Tim shudders and jerks away.
"You're ticklish!" Kon points an accusing finger at him. "How have I never known this?"
"Am not," Tim says, but Kon can see the blush climbing his cheeks.
Tim shrugs and Kon laughs because, duh. Tim looks down at his gauntlets, which are still sitting in his lap, and then up through his bangs at Kon, and this time his smile is sly and private and makes something catch in Kon's chest. He doesn't think many people have seen Tim smile like that. He hopes they haven't, anyway, hopes that this is somehow something special, just for him.
Kon leans back on his heels and rests his hands on his thighs, because otherwise, he might reach out and start tickling Tim, and he's pretty sure that, invulnerable or not, that would end badly for him.
"So," he says, weirdly awkward.
"I like your new ink," Tim says.
Kon's heart is doing that weird beat-skipping thing again, and his mouth has completely disconnected from his brain, because he says, "You wanna touch it?"
Tim blinks, and Kon wonders how he never noticed how thick Tim's eyelashes are, and how they frame his eyes, which are bluer than Kon remembers, or maybe his memory just couldn't conjure up the real color. He's still trying to figure that out when Tim pounces on him. He topples over backwards before he can catch himself, but he doesn't mind, because Tim is on top of him, and it's not like he bruises, anyway.
Tim's eyes are even bluer up close, and Kon reaches up to smooth his thumb over the delicate skin beneath them. "Hi," he says.
"Hi." Tim gives him that secret smile again, and a look from underneath his lashes. "Um."
Kon slides his hand around to the nape of Tim's neck and pulls him down into a kiss before they can get any more awkward. Tim's hands curl into his t-shirt and Tim's mouth is hot and wet and softer than Kon ever imagined.
"Tim," Kon whispers against the sweaty, stubbly skin of Tim's jaw, repeats it like it's the only word he knows, "Tim, Tim."
Tim shivers and kisses him again, all sharp teeth and slick tongue. He shoves his tights down so he can get rid of the cup he's wearing, and Kon takes a moment to stare. He reaches out a tentative hand.
"Can I?" he asks breathlessly.
Tim's laugh is just as breathless but his voice is full of the amused exasperation Kon usually gets from him. "No, I just tackled you to the ground and started stripping so you could watch."
"Well, I know watching's kinda your thing, but I would totally be down for that, and by down, I mean, up." He gestures at his own crotch and Tim laughs again, shaking his head.
Tim leans back and strokes himself, once and then again, and Kon can't bite back his own moan. "Jesus, Tim, you're so hot, do you know that? Do you even know how hot you are?"
"I--" Tim ducks his head, like he can't believe what Kon's saying, that it's the truest thing Kon's ever said. "Kon, please."
He reaches out and wraps a hand around Tim's cock, getting used to the hard, hot weight of it on his palm as it slips through his fingers. He uses his TTK to get his own jeans open, and looks up at Tim, who's biting his lower lip and breathing raggedly, eyes closed.
"Tim, man, is this okay? Have you ever--"
Kon stops and jerks his hand away. "Tim?" He's finding it hard to breathe again, but not in a good way.
"Sorry, I mean, no, I haven't done this before. It's okay." He scoots forward so he can slot their hips together, drag his cock along Kon's. "I wanted--" He buries his face against Kon's neck, but not before Kon catches the words, "I've always wanted this."
Kon cups his chin and kisses him, hard and hot and sloppy. "Me, too," he whispers against Tim's lips. He can feel them curve up into a smile.
After that, Kon is too distracted and turned on to do more than thrust up while Tim grinds down. He comes with a white-hot intensity that surprises him, and then flops down against the floor so he can watch Tim. When Tim is done, he collapses against Kon, sticky and sweaty and breathing more heavily than Kon's ever seen him, even after a fight. He runs his fingers through the damp hair curling at the nape of Tim's neck.
"I don't know how you stand shoving all this hair underneath that stupid cowl."
"You get used to it." Tim's voice is low and rough, sexy in a way Kon wouldn't have expected. He can feel his body already gearing up for round two. God bless Kryptonian physiology.
"You can get used to anything," Kon answers. "That doesn't mean you should have to."
Tim huffs, a puff of warm air against Kon's skin that makes him shiver. Tim shifts, already starting to tense up again, but Kon holds him in place with the TTK and feels him go limp again. He rearranges Tim so that they're both more comfortable, and he doesn't even care if they get all crusty and stuck together. He likes knowing he can do that, likes knowing he did this, made Tim into this boneless, cuddly creature who pushes into his touch like he wants to be petted.
Tim presses a kiss to his collarbone and traces one finger along the curve of the R on Kon's bicep. "I like it," he murmurs into Kon's skin.
"I'm getting that." Kon kisses the spot beneath Tim's ear, then nips playfully at his earlobe. "Man, if I'd known that, I'd have done it from the start."
"That would have been too easy."
"That's one thing you're not."
Tim opens his mouth like he's going to say something, and then he stops and shakes his head. He pushes the sweaty hair off his forehead and says, "But I'm worth it."
Neither of them can keep a straight face after that as they jostle and fumble their way up into Tim's bed (and Kon takes the opportunity to discover a couple of other places Tim might be ticklish), but Kon already knows it's the truth. He's just going to have to figure out how to make sure Tim knows, too.