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One Year Later

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Kon was appalled to see the apartment where Tim was living. It wasn’t the mess, because he knew Tim could get too focused on work to bother with the little details. It’s the coldness. Like, literal coldness. Tim’s got some fancy heating/AC unit that probably cost as much as the whole Kent farm and he hadn’t even bothered to program it.

Oh, yeah, and there’s the fact that nothing looks lived in. Nothing’s unpacked. The furniture probably came with the apartment and the coffee machine is the only thing not covered in a layer of dust.

Kon flipped open the panel to the heating controls and stared at the buttons. Okay, he got the arrows and the numbers, but what were the Greek letters for? He reached out to push an “up” arrow, hoping it was for temperature, and felt Tim’s hand close around his wrist.

“Bad idea,” Tim said. He’d pulled off his cowl and his limp, unwashed hair hung down around his eyes. “That triggers the security system. Are you cold?” He gave Kon a curious look.

“No, but you should be,” Kon said. He pulled his hand back. “It’s freezing in here.”

Tim frowned, but he pushed a framed inspirational poster to the side and opened a hidden panel. It occurred to Kon, as Tim reprogrammed the climate control, that for a guy who was already a paranoid freak, Tim was really pushing that “paranoid freak” thing to the limits.

“I’m going to take a shower,” Tim announced, slipping the poster neatly back in place. “There’s a good Thai place around the corner. You want dinner?”

“I want you,” Kon said. He put his hand on Tim’s cheek.

Tim rubbed the spot between his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time with anyone who wasn’t trying to kill me.” He ran a hand through his hair. “But I need a shower. Seriously, you don’t how much I sweat in this armor.” He tapped the bandoliers of his “Red Robin” costume.

Kon conceded with a wave of his hand. “Fine. I’ll be here when you get out.”

Tim emerged from the bathroom a bit later with clean, damp hair, wearing a t-shirt and an old pair of sweats. Kon sucked in his breath in shock.

“Jesus, Tim,” he said, sliding off the bed and towards his boyfriend. Tim had always been on the skinny side, but he’d had slightly chubby cheeks and just enough softness to cover the hard muscles he’d built as Robin. Now the softness was gone. The chubby cheeks were gone. Anything that wasn’t muscle or bone had been burned away. Tim’s eyes looked dark and sunken and Kon could see fresh scars on his arms, red marks that hadn’t yet faded to white. Kon pressed a hand against Tim’s chest.

“What?” Tim asked, genuinely confused.

“Don’t you eat?” Kon asked.

“I had a growth spurt,” Tim said, pulling away from Kon’s touch. True, he was a little taller, but he’s lost weight, Kon was sure of it, and - wait, the way, Tim moved -

“Take off your shirt,” Kon ordered.

“Kon, your seduction technique needs work,” Tim forced a smile.

“I’ve got X-Ray vision, Tim. You can’t hide it from me,” Kon said. He folded his arms across his chest. He didn’t care if he sounded like an overbearing parent at this point.

Tim slowly pulled off his t-shirt, revealing an angry, still-healing gash across his stomach. Kon could see the marks where stitches had been recently removed.

“God, Tim,” he whispered. “What did that to you?” He rested his hands on Tim’s hips and studied the wound.

“Sword,” Tim said. “Caught me by surprise.”

Caught Tim by surprise? Coming from the front? Kon supposed it could happen... but a suspicion grew within him. He tugged on Tim’s hip, urging him to turn around. Reluctantly, Tim obliged. He had a matching red gash on his lower back. Kon touched Tim lightly on the hip, just below the fading stitch marks. “Someone stuck a sword through you! You thought you’d just not mention that?”

“I’m fine!” Tim protested. Kon gave him a look, then flicked a finger at the raw edge where the skin was just beginning to knit. Tim hissed in pain and grabbed Kon’s hand. “I’m fine when my friends aren’t poking me in my sore spots.”

“What have you been doing?” Kon demanded.

“You know,” Tim said. “Looking for proof that Bruce is alive.”

“Without someone to watch your back,” Kon said.

Tim jerked away from Kon and pulled his t-shirt over his head. “No one was left,” he snapped. He snatched up a pair of sneakers from the floor and left the bedroom.

“Tim- dammit, Tim!” Kon blurred ahead of Tim and blocked the door of the apartment before the other boy could leave.

“There are five other ways out of this apartment,” Tim said. He dropped his shoes on the floor and jammed his bare feet into them.

“So use them. I’ll just go with you,” Kon said. “In fact, I changed my mind about dinner.” He stepped away from the doorway. “Let’s get some food. Lots of it.”

“I’m not starving, Kon,” Tim sighed. “Will you please drop the dramatics?”

Me?” Kon put his hands on Tim’s shoulders and steered him toward a large mirror hung in the hallway. Tim rolled his eyes and let himself go along with it. “Look at yourself, Tim.”

Tim obediently looked in the mirror and shrugged. “Yeah? I know what I look like.”

“Do you?” Kon asked. “Because you look like a guy who doesn’t care if he lives or dies.”

Tim bit his lip and didn’t say anything.

Kon squeezed his eyes shut and slid his arms gently around Tim’s waist. “Promise me,” he said in a low voice. “Promise me you’ll take care of yourself. Whether I’m around or not.”

Tim relaxed back into his arms. “Promise me you’ll never leave again.”

Kon hesitated for just a moment and felt Tim tense up again. He didn’t want to die, but if he could go back, could change what he’d done, put the world at risk instead  - well, it wasn’t a promise he could make in good faith. “I’m sorry I died,” he whispered, meeting Tim’s eyes through the mirror’s reflection. “Can you ever forgive me?”

A tear leaked from the corner of Tim’s eye. “I - how can I be mad at you for that?”

“But you are,” Kon said.

“I’m not,” Tim said. “Not anymore.” He turned around and touched Kon’s forehead against his own. “I’m terrified I’ll lose you again.”

They stood together for a long moment. Kon kept his arms around Tim but didn’t pull him close, afraid of causing fresh pain in old wounds. Then Kon let out a shaky laugh and kissed Tim lightly. “I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “I’ll promise not to die if you promise to live.”

Tim snorted. “God, you’re a pain.” He considered this, then nodded. “I promise to try,” he said.

“Then I promise the same,” Kon said. He kissed Tim again and now Tim kissed back, tentative at first, so very like the first time they kissed that the memory flashed in Kon’s mind.

Green gauntlets touching him on the waist, then the back, then hovering in the air, not sure where they belonged. The sharp point of the R symbol digging into his chest and the leather of the domino mask brushing against his cheek. Kissing Robin, suddenly, finally and being thrilled and terrified all at once.

Now, like then, Kon pressed the kiss deeper. He tightened his arms without thinking and then froze in panic.

“It’s okay,” Tim murmured against his lips. “I’m nearly healed. You’re not going break me.”

Kon pushed Tim’s hair back so he could kiss his ear. “Good,” he said, between kisses. “Because I have a few things I want to do before dinner.”

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