Jane Austen Was Right
with significant additions by Smitty, and don't let her tell you otherwise
Rating: PG-13. Fluff fic. Shmoop of the m/m and m/f kind. (ie, slash and het romance)
Archive: ask first, please.
Disclaimer: Characters copyright DC Comics.
Set firmly in the future of Smitty's Potatoverse. Short summary: Bruce and Dinah are married, and Dinah's just given birth to twins. Dick and Babs are married and have an adopted son nicknamed "Spud" (hence the 'verse name). Tim and Cassandra (Batgirl) are engaged. All of this is virtually irrelevant for purposes of this fic because none of them appear except Dinah, who bullied her way into it. *I* got to write about the poor underused other members of the universe. Whee!! :D For the series, go here: http://potatoverse.topcities.com/
Also, for some reason, in the Spudverse Donna Troy is known for her multitude of cats. *looks mystified* I'm sure there's backstory there.....
Set in May of Year 25 (Year 1 being when Bruce became Batman), about 8 years from present comics continuity. Approximate ages: Dinah is 42, Garth 34, Donna 32, Kyle 31, Connor 28, Cassie (WG) 23.
It wasn't going to be much of a date, Donna mused as she finished adjusting her earrings, but a girl took what she could get. And Kyle was fun company, even if they'd broken up a few months back. They'd stayed friends, so when Cassie called wanting to double-date with someone, and of *course* Kyle being there would make it easier for Connor, because everyone knew what great friends they were....
The whole thing was strange to begin with, because it was no secret--at least to Donna, who made sure she knew these kinds of things--that Connor was gay. She'd known that through Kyle, and Wally had mentioned it (squirming, as she needled it out of him) back when Conn was dating Piper. Apparently that fact had bypassed Cassie. As 'big sister' she could have said something, but the idea of an evening out was too tempting to resist. Besides, maybe Connor was exploring the idea of expanding his options. From what Donna knew of him, he was too honest to lead Cassie on if it wouldn't work out.
Cassie met her at the lobby of Titans' Tower, almost bouncing with excitement. "This'll be *great,* Donna. Connor is SO cute! And maybe you and Kyle will get back together!"
"No," Donna said firmly, "we're just friends. But Cassie, listen, about Connor--"
"Evening, ladies," the voice came from above them. They both looked up to see Kyle floating above them, surrounded in his green aura. "Ready to go? Conn'll meet us there."
"Ready!" Cassie said cheerfully. "But I hope you're making a ring-bubble, mister, I got my hair done for this."
Kyle bowed. "As you command." He raised his hand to his mouth and blew. Green sparks flew down, hit the ground in front of them, and began to pull themselves into a shape. An eyeblink later a fairy-tale carriage stood there, complete with emerald horses to pull it. *Winged* horses, Donna noted with amusement, Kyle's artistic attention to extraneous details.
"Subtle, it isn't." Donna grinned up at him.
He shrugged. "Gotta have fun with it when I can. I'll let us off a couple of blocks away, but there's no harm riding in style, right?"
Cassie had already climbed inside. "C'mon, guys, we'll be late!"
Donna rolled her eyes and took the hand Kyle offered to help her into the carriage. "Thank you, kind sir."
"My pleasure, fair lady." They smiled at each other and took their seats.
Cassie eyed them dubiously. "If you're gonna be 'just friends,' aren't you supposed to stop with the flirting?"
Donna gave her a horrified look. "Gods, no. That's half the fun." Beside her, Kyle nodded.
"Whatever. You're weird," Cassie informed them. Then she grinned. "But I don't care. I found myself a new boyfriend."
Donna glanced at Kyle. "About that--"
Kyle shook his head, looking mystified. "Beats me. Surprised me, too."
Cassie looked between them, confused. "Huh? What?"
"Never mind," Donna and Kyle said together, and settled back to watch New York pass beneath them.
"Definitely weird," Cassie muttered, and sat back in her own seat.
Kyle dissolved the ring-construct a few blocks from the restaurant and they walked the rest of the way, enjoying the warm evening air. Connor was waiting at the entrance and Cassie ran up to him, hooking her arm through his. He smiled down at her (a little uncertainly, to Donna's eye), then glanced back up to greet Kyle and Donna with a considerably more relaxed expression. "Hi, guys."
"Good to see you again, Connor." Donna leaned forward to kiss his cheek and then drew back, enjoying the blush that spread under his dark skin. Cassie glared; she ignored it. "You really should come by the Tower more often. Lian misses you."
He ducked his head a little. "I will, I promise. I've just been busy."
"Wiping out the biggest drug cartel on the East Coast, is all." Kyle sounded as proud as if he'd done it himself. "Go on, Conn, tell them about it. He's been chasing these guys for YEARS."
"I want to hear all about it--later. No shop talk over dinner," Donna said firmly.
"Yes, mom," Kyle retorted, giving Cassie and Connor a meaningful look. "So bossy. See, *this* is why I broke up with her."
"You liar," Donna said cheerfully, "we broke up because you couldn't keep up with me in--"
"DONNA!" Cassie screeched. Then she composed herself and gave them a pleading look. "Uh, argue about it later, okay?"
Donna snickered while Kyle mouthed, 'Totally not true' to the other two.
Connor glanced down at Cassie. "Do they do this all the time?"
She sighed. "Yeah. It's really juvenile. C'mon, Connor, let's go see if our table's ready."
Donna and Kyle followed them in at a slightly slower pace. "So he didn't say anything to you about this?"
Kyle shook his head. "Nope. Maybe he thought Cassie meant a date, like, just friends."
"Maybe he's, ah, expanding his options?" Donna suggested.
Kyle snorted. "Sure, right. Conn? No way. He's a perfect Kinsey 6."
Donna laughed. "Oh, you guys did the test? How did *you* rate?"
"I'd never tell." He grinned at her as they threaded their way through the restaurant, following the maître'd' to a table set for four.
There was definitely a mystery here, and Donna was determined to solve it. She watched the others while Cassie talked nonstop, pausing only when the waiter came to take their orders.
She saw that Connor rarely looked anywhere but at Kyle.
She saw that Kyle seemed much more relaxed with Connor around than he'd ever really been with her.
And suddenly, Donna understood everything.
She stood with instant decision. "Come on, Cass, let's hit the little Wonder Girls' room."
Cassie blinked at her, then giggled in comprehension. "Right. Girltalk. We'll be right back, guys."
Connor, ever polite, smiled at them both; Kyle just waved his hand.
Inside the restroom, Donna turned to Cassie with a sympathetic smile. "Here's the thing: you're not really dating Connor."
Cassie just stared. "Huh? What d'you mean, I'm not--"
"You're not dating Connor," Donna said firmly, "because he's in love with Kyle."
Cassie's mouth fell open and half-formed sounds fell out. "But-- he-- I--"
"That's-- OOH! That's just not *fair!!*" Cassie slumped against the wall. "And I dumped Grant for him, too! Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I am. Let me guess--he only agreed to this date after you suggested going out with Kyle and me?"
Cassie said a very un-Wonder-Girl like word, then sighed. "Just my luck. Okay. So-- what's the plan, 'sis'? I *know* you won't just leave this alone. You gonna set 'em up, or what?"
Donna grinned. "How well you know me. But are you sure you're okay with this?"
The younger girl shrugged. "I pretty much strong-armed Connor into the date, anyway. Almost literally. No wonder he was so reluctant. Besides, I--" she flushed and looked embarrassed. "I was sorta just trying to make Grant jealous. Everything had gotten so...routine, you know? --oh, don't give me that look, I KNOW it was a stupid thing to do."
"Very," Donna replied, "especially since Toni's been hanging around him again."
"That-- that *bitch!*" Cassie paced the small restroom, almost visibly steaming. "I'll rip her pasty arm off and beat her to death with it!"
"You'll do no such thing," Donna said neutrally, and Cassie stopped pacing.
"'Course I won't. But sheesh. Trying to poach *my* boyfriend, that's just tacky."
Amused, Donna eyed her. "This from the girl who broke up with Grant to make *him* jealous?"
Cassie winced. "Rub it in, why don'cha."
"Your mess-- you fix it. Meanwhile..."
"Yeah." Cassie's look had turned speculative. "They are really cute together, aren't they."
Donna smiled. "Completely. So ease back, okay? Just friends out for dinner. And no trying to scam a good-night kiss."
"I got it. I can do subtle," Cassie said indignantly.
Donna just shook her head and followed Cassie back to their table. The boys sat there talking, heads together, as if she and Cassie had never been there at all. It would have been insulting if they didn't look so *right* like that. She sat down, feeling like an interloper, and started to plan.
What she needed, Donna thought, was ammunition. Information. And the best way to get that was to talk to someone who knew both Kyle and Connor well.
She and Jade had become friends, surprisingly, even despite their tag-team dating Kyle. Jade and Green Lantern still made good working partners; Jenny-Lynn Hayden-Scott and Kyle Rayner hadn't worked out nearly as well. But considering the number of times Green Lantern and Green Arrow teamed up, Jade had more opportunities to see them together than anyone else.
Over the course of a phone conversation, Jen confirmed what Donna had observed. "Connor's got the hots for Kyle, no doubt. Hell, I even *told* him to go after Kyle once we broke up. But he's convinced Kyle wouldn't be interested."
"He told you that?"
"I had to drag it out of him, but yeah."
"What if he's wrong?"
There was a pause, and then Jen said, "Uh, as far as I know, Kyle's never had any interest in guys. He's totally open-minded as far as his friends go, but that's not the same.... You know something I don't?"
"Not sure. Just an intuition."
"Huh. I'd put money on your intuition." Jen giggled suddenly. "God, what I wouldn't give to see it happen. We could tease Kyle about it *forever.*"
Donna grinned. "Definite incentive. So, do you think there's a chance?"
"If I were you, I'd talk to Kyle. He always opened up to you more anyway." Jen's voice was matter-of-fact. "No point wasting your time if he's just not interested, you know?"
"Good point. Okay, Jen, thanks."
In the end, she decided to ditch "subtle" and ask him outright. "So about that test...."
"Hmmm?" Kyle looked up, curious. They were sitting in the outdoor patio of a coffee shop just around the corner from Kyle's office at Feast magazine. Anonymous enough, with all the noise and bustle on the surrounding streets.
"The Kinsey. I want to know."
"Oh." He laughed. "You never let anything go, do you."
She grinned back, unrepentant. "Nope. Now spill."
"Donna," Kyle said, still smiling, "you could have just asked. 'Kyle, are you interested in guys?' 'Gee, Donna, what a strange question, why d'you ask?'"
"Because Connor loves you," she said quietly.
He gave a quick glance around to see if anyone was in earshot while his grin faded into something more thoughtful. "Yeah. I know."
"So...?" she prompted. "Have you ever been attracted to men?"
He didn't answer right away, but seemed to be giving the question honest consideration. "I... I'm not sure."
Donna nodded encouragingly, waiting for him to go on.
"I'm an artist. I see... I can't help but appreciate someone who's striking, or beautiful, or...handsome. But I never put it in terms of 'attraction,' not really." He gave her a wry smile. "My mom's very religious, you know, that was one thing. And staring at other guys was a sure way to get the crap kicked out of you, where I grew up. So I just didn't. Usually." He paused as if remembering something, then shook his head and went on. "But then there was art class...in college, we worked with nudes, male and female. It was...interesting."
"Interesting like, the guys were as much fun to draw as the women, and I never missed a class." Kyle gave her a rueful look from under a fringe of dark hair. "I've never admitted that out loud before. You're like your sister, like that. Very dangerous."
Donna laughed. "*She's* the one with the magic lasso--no power here, I swear."
"She doesn't need the lasso. Neither do you. ...God, Donna, I'm 31, I'm too old for a sexual identity crisis."
"It doesn't have to be a crisis," Donna said promptly, "and if it's not a problem for you, then why not date Connor?"
Kyle sighed and ran his hands through his hair. "It's not-- hell, Donna, you know better than anyone that I'm not gay. I'm not, like, repulsed by the idea, I just never seriously considered it." He gave her a lopsided smile. "He's my best friend. And yeah, I love him a lot. But I don't know what to do about it, or if I *should* do anything about it."
"Isn't it worth trying, then?"
"Is it?" His expression was exceptionally serious. "What am I supposed to say? 'Hey, Conn, I'm not sure if I'm attracted to you or not, let's give it a try?' What happens if it *doesn't* work? I don't want to play games with his feelings. It wouldn't be fair."
"What wouldn't be fair to either of you," Donna said, firmly convinced, "is if you two could be happy, and you're not willing to try for that."
Kyle sighed again. "Believe it or not... I've actually thought of that. I feel good when he's around. We work well together. We play well together. I *miss* him when he's not in town. But Donna, there's a pretty big difference between hanging out with a guy and, y'know, sleeping with him." He flushed, but went on. "I don't know if I...can. And I dunno about you, but I'm not about to spend the rest of my life in a celibate relationship, no matter how good a friend he is."
She smiled a little. "Kyle...listen to yourself. You're talking about 'the rest of your life'... we never even talked about *our* relationship in those terms. And we WERE sleeping together."
He flashed a grin. "I remember." He made a helpless gesture. "I just wish I knew for sure."
"The only way you'll know," Donna said, getting up and leaning over to kiss his cheek, "is if you try. He's worth it. So are you."
"If I do, you'll be the first to know." His words were flip, but the thoughtful look remained.
He was thinking about it, that was good. But she knew him--he'd take forever to get around to *doing* anything about it. If he ever would. So obviously, they needed a push.
The more she thought about it, the more determined Donna was to fix them up.
Not that her own romantic life had been perfect, either.
After she'd gotten past the shock of Terry and Bobby's deaths, she'd dated Kyle because he was...fun. Low-pressure. Except she'd fallen in deeper than she wanted to, mostly because it was hard for her to keep things "just casual." Friends who were also teammates who became lovers--too many ties there, too much intimacy NOT to get emotionally involved.
So go figure, the next time she'd tried it, it was with yet another friend and teammate. Roy... well, she'd been trying to rediscover herself, that was part of it, and Roy had always been and still was one of her dearest friends. That relationship *had* stayed casual, even though it lasted for two years--and eventually, that became the problem. Roy was spending too much time with his new "sidekick" Cissie and not enough with her. He was trying, she realized, to be a better mentor than Ollie had been to him, and she couldn't find it in her heart to blame him for it.
After that she'd explored the *other* part of her heritage and had an affair with Kythera, one of the Amazons who'd come to live in "Patriarch's world" to help Diana with her mission. But in the end the differences between them had been too great, and while Donna had enjoyed the relationship, it'd never been as serious or as deep as she'd wanted.
Then she'd tried being single for awhile, just Donna Troy and her cats, and celibate as well.
*That* had totally sucked, so when Kyle broke up with Jade and came to talk to her and commiserate about relationships, one thing had led to another. They'd been together during that horrible August when Dick had been hurt, but broke up again not long after that. In the end, Donna realized that she and Kyle were really just using each other to hide from the rest of the world.
At 32, Donna realized she wanted what she'd had at 19, with Terry. Someone she really loved. Not a fling, but a partner. And a family. Donna's view of "family" included her closest friends, and she wanted to see them happy too. If that meant matchmaking... well, it was in a good cause, wasn't it?
But if Kyle was going to be difficult, Donna had to call in some expert help. She reached for the phone.
"Hi, Alfred, this is Donna Troy. Is Dinah in...?"
In the three months since the birth of her twins, Dinah had been working hard to get back in shape.
But plotting of this magnitude required *serious* ice cream.
They sat in the spacious Wayne Manor kitchen, having assured Alfred they wouldn't do anything *too* horrible to his domain. Once he was gone, Dinah pointed to the tall freezer. "Alfred hides the good ice cream in there because I'm not allowed to stand on a chair to get it. He never said anything about anyone *flying* up to it, though...."
Donna grinned and floated up a few inches, then rummaged around. "Oooh. Rocky road AND mint chip. And there's some cherry chocolate chip buried in here, too!"
"I *knew* he was holding out on me," Dinah muttered. "Bring 'em all down. And *you*--" she pointed a stern finger at the baby monitor sitting innocently on the table, "no interruptions!"
Donna set the ice cream down on the table and went to retrieve spoons. "Does that work?"
Dinah sighed. "Can't hurt. I wouldn't put it past those two terrors to have rewired it to spy on *me.* 'Look! Mom's about to do something fun! Let's scream for her.'"
Donna laughed. "Dinah, they're three months old, I don't think they're plotting against you yet."
"Yeah, just wait'll YOU have to deal with--" and then her hand flew to her mouth in horror as she remembered. "God, Donna, that was stupid. I'm sorry."
"It's okay." Donna sat down and handed over a spoon. "Really. That was a long time ago."
"I'm really sorry."
Donna shook her head and opened one of the containers. "Forget it. I was actually just thinking..." she smiled wistfully. "I was thinking it *would* be nice. Sometime."
"Well, hey, if you ever feel like experiencing that lovely 4 a.m. feeding feeling, I'd be *happy* to lend 'em to you," Dinah offered, looking hopeful.
Donna grinned. "Thanks, Dinah, but I don't need the babysitting money. Besides, I don't think Bruce would like it too much."
"He'll like it if I tell him to," Dinah said authoritatively, opening another container and dipping her spoon in. "I wouldn't mind the full night's sleep, believe me-- ooh, yum...."
"Does Bruce, I mean--" Donna paused. "Um, nevermind."
Dinah glanced up from her examination of the third container. "What?"
"It's just, I have a really hard time picturing him. You know, doing the daddy thing."
"You should see him rock them to sleep, all wrapped up in his cape," Dinah said, deadpan. Donna just stared at her. "It's really the cutest thing in the world."
Donna blinked a couple of times. "I don't know if I could ever see 'Bruce' and 'cute' fitting into the same sentence. I mean, he *is* completely gorgeous but--" She stopped, looking around in panic. "Gods, Dinah, he's not *here,* is he?!"
"WayneTech meeting. Relax," Dinah smirked. "Tell me more about how stunning you think my husband is."
Donna blushed. "Um, no." She buried her spoon in the ice cream again. "So, uh, what I really wanted to talk about...."
"Right, your little 'project.'" Dinah leaned back in her chair. "So who are you trying to set up?"
Donna grinned. "Green Lantern and Green Arrow."
Dinah stared at her for a few seconds, then burst out laughing. "Oh... oh, God...."
Donna watched her, puzzled.
Dinah kept snickering, but finally gasped out, "It's just... you said that... and I immediately thought of *Hal and Ollie*...."
Donna started to giggle as well. "Not that that's... a horrible image either...."
"Donna!" Dinah gaped at her, then she nearly doubled over laughing again. "That's... *terrible.* Because it's true!" After a few moments she sat up again and wiped her eyes. "God. I should find a way to spread that rumor so Ollie hears it. He'd go nuts."
Donna looked alarmed. "I didn't mean--"
"Don't worry. I won't. But you're right." Dinah flashed a wicked grin. "Not the first time I'd had that thought myself. Whew. Okay. Kyle and Connor, right? Ohhh, that's even better. Not *that*--" she said hastily to Donna's look, "just that Ollie would completely lose it if he knew I was helping to set his son up with a guy. And he'd never say a disapproving word, 'cause it'd ruin his hippie-liberal image." Dinah chuckled. "Fun on so *many* levels."
Donna smiled. "Jade and I were thinking about the opportunity to tease Kyle about it for the rest of his life, if it works."
"Oh, right, she dated him too." Dinah cocked her head curiously. "So why do you think there's even something there?"
"There just--is. It's *so* obvious if you watch them together. Connor's completely head-over-heels in love."
"Maybe that's true," Dinah said gently, "but what about Kyle? I've only ever heard about him dating women."
For a crazed second Donna wondered if the computers in the Batcave tracked even *that,* then dismissed the thought. Dinah just liked being in touch with heroes' civilian lives, like she did. With her ties to the JLA and the JSA and the Titans through Roy, there were few heroes the Black Canary *didn't* know by name. But Donna was also determined to keep Kyle's confidence. "Let's just say I've got reason to think it'd work out, okay?"
"Hm. Okay." With a decisive gesture Dinah shoved the ice cream containers away from her. "Enough of *that*-- any more 'inspiration' and I'll fall into a sugar coma. So we've got one boy who's pining away but will never say anything, and the other who needs some encouragement, right?"
"That about sums it up." Donna gathered up the containers and floated them up into the freezer, dropping the spoons in the sink on her way back.
"Well, there's always the old standby of locking them in a room together. A closet. Preferably a small one." Dinah grinned. "Especially since then you get the image of them falling out of it...literally."
Donna giggled. "Wish I could get away with that."
"You've gotta get them into proximity. They're friends, that won't be hard." Dinah thought for a moment. "The Titans still do Movie Night?" Donna nodded. "Invite 'em both over for that. And make sure all the seats are taken before they get there except the two on the loveseat."
"Ooh. Good one."
Dinah snickered. "Look at Tim and Cass. Bruce ordered Cassandra to work as Tim's secretary. Now they're engaged. Get Kyle and Connor in the same place, preferably in a non-combat situation; if there's chemistry there, they'll do the rest themselves."
"If they'd done it themselves, I wouldn't have to meddle," Donna said wryly.
"But that wouldn't be half as much fun," Dinah said, and they grinned at each other in perfect comprehension.
(two weeks later)
For someone who wasn't a Titan, Kyle mused, he'd been spending an awful lot of time at the Tower lately.
Not that he minded. Though years ago he'd moved on to the big leagues, the JLA, the League didn't really do the '"social' thing. They had their meetings, did their tours of monitor duty, gathered together to stomp the threat of the week, and went home. Whereas anytime you felt like it you could drop by Titans' Tower and find someone to hang with. Watch a movie, maybe get into a pick-up card game. They *played* together. Kyle was glad to be included.
So was Connor, which was a pleasant surprise. Ostensibly he was there visiting Roy and his 'niece' Lian. But Kyle kept running into him even when Roy wasn't around. Movie night. Impromptu sparring sessions with whoever happened to be in residence. When Conn mentioned that Donna had invited him, it all clicked into place.
He finally managed to corner her in the Titans' monitor room. "Okay, you're gonna have to cut it out, because you're making Connor nervous." Which wasn't precisely true, but definitely caught her attention.
She gave him a guileless look. "I don't know what you mean."
Kyle rolled his eyes. "Donna...you've done everything but lock us in a closet together."
"Maybe I should've tried that after all," she muttered.
"Funny. Seriously, Donna--"
"Seriously, *Kyle,* I'm just trying to help." She grinned. "C'mon. Admit it. You've been having fun."
"But nothing. --Well, unless you mean Connor's butt. He's got a cute one."
"That's not--" he paused, hurt. "You never told me I had a cute butt."
Donna giggled. "You do, honey. But he's a martial artist. Really exercises those muscles. ...Of course, Nightwing still has the best, no question," she added helpfully.
He coughed. "Um. Right. Anyway. Listen, I appreciate what you're trying to do and all, but please cut it out."
"Only if you promise to talk to him." She folded her arms and glared. "Soon."
She was being way too intense about the whole thing. "Why is this so important to you?"
"I just want to see you happy, that's all." She grinned. "Plus I've got a sizeable bet riding on you two."
His eyes went wide. "You're *betting* on us? Who else knows?"
"Uh." Donna finally had the grace to look embarrassed. "Most of the Titans. Cassie, Jen, Dinah.... "
"...*Dinah?!* Oh, God, does that mean Batman knows?! I bet he's been laughing at me behind that cowl for weeks." It was one thing when his private life had become Donna's pet project, but if everyone knew....
Donna shrugged. "First of all, I doubt Dinah discussed it with him. Second, what makes you think he'd *care?*"
"...point. But still, it's called a *personal* life for a reason, you know? I really didn't want an audience. This is weird enough."
Somehow she managed to sound both apologetic AND insistent. "But you'll talk to him, right?"
"Yes." Kyle sighed. "Just...let me work it out, okay, Donna? Stop pushing." Something struck him, and he had to ask. "So who's betting *against* us?"
She smirked. "No one was willing to take those odds. It's dependent on how *long* it takes for you two to get together."
He groaned. "Terrific. I'm so pleased that everyone's much more sure of my sexuality than I am."
"We know a good thing when we see it." Donna came over and patted his shoulder. "Seriously. No one's laughing at you. No one was going to mention it, either, unless you did."
"What a relief," he said dryly. Donna grinned and went out, whistling. He stared after her for another minute, then shrugged. No secrets in this business, anyway.
He hadn't lied to her, he'd just...needed time. To sort things out for himself. Figure out if he really wanted to take that irrevocable step of *talking* about it.
Watching his friend from across the room of the apartment, he realized there was no time like the present.
"Conn... have you noticed...." Kyle hesitated, and Connor looked up from where he was sitting lotus-style on the floor, carefully oiling his longbow.
"Well... Donna. She's been acting a little bit weird lately, you know, the movies and everything, and having us come to the Tower...."
"I noticed," Connor said quietly, and his hands on the bow had gone still.
"She's, well, I talked to her, and," the words came out in a rush because it was the only way he could say them, "she was trying to. Um. Set us up."
Connor didn't reply at first, and after a moment his hands resumed their careful movements. But he didn't look up. "I know. I'm...sorry, Kyle."
He blinked. "Sorry? For what?"
Now Connor did look up. "If she made you uncomfortable. If I..." his gaze faltered, and his voice trailed off. "I never meant to...."
"You didn't," Kyle said firmly, "you never have. And I know--" he took a deep breath. "Look, I know I can be kinda dense. But I sort of...figured out how you felt...awhile ago."
"*It's okay,*" Kyle went on desperately, hating the sudden...fear? in Conn's eyes. "It never mattered-- I mean, of course it *mattered,* your feelings matter, but you never said anything and I figured, why rock the boat, we make a great team and it wasn't like you were sitting at home either, when you were with Piper--"
"How long?" Connor asked hoarsely, and Kyle took another long breath to stop himself from babbling.
"A long time," he said, and then couldn't help himself. "At first I thought, well, this sounds really arrogant, but I had a habit of falling for the women I worked with, like Donna and Jen, so I guess--"
Connor made a sound, and it took Kyle a second to identify it as a choked-off laugh. "Yes-- that's-- that's really arrogant." He paused, seeming to gather himself. "It's also true."
"I know," Kyle said, trying to be gentle. They were both quiet for a moment while Kyle tried to figure out how to say what he wanted to, and Connor just waited. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Apparently I didn't have to," Conn said, sounding both wry and a little exasperated, "and there didn't seem to be any point."
"I'm... I'm not so sure about that." Kyle said it so quietly that he almost didn't hear himself. But he'd managed it.
Connor stared at him, visibly shaken. "What?!"
Kyle bit his lip and stared back at his friend hard. "I'm supposed to be fearless to wear this ring," he said, his voice husky with uncertainty. "I'm not fearless, Conn. I'm scared." He quickly unclasped his hands and pressed them against his knees as he levered himself into a standing position. "But you're the only one I can say that to. I can't tell Donna I'm scared. I can't tell Jen I'm scared. You're the only one I can admit it to and you probably scare me the most." He ran a hand through his hair, a nervous gesture he'd never been able to control. "You're my friend and I love you, Conn, and I'm scared to death. I'm afraid I'll screw up because I've never even *thought* about it before and I'll hurt you and I'll screw it all up."
Connor sat, still staring at him, looking like he'd been slapped. Or like maybe if he moved or spoke, Kyle would take it all back.
Not a chance. Now that it'd been said, there was no going back. But he was feeling pretty shaky himself. "Okay, say something please, or I'm gonna start thinking I was right. About the screwing-up part."
"But. You're not. Gay," Connor said faintly, still looking dazed.
Kyle couldn't repress a snicker. "Yeah, I think I've slept with enough women to keep me out of the club. But I-- " oh, hell, there went the blush, "I care about you. A lot. More than friends."
Conn stood up, his movements quick and uncharacteristically graceless, as if he couldn't bear to stay still. They were both standing now on opposite sides of the room--a nice metaphor, Kyle thought, for the awkwardness between them. "I, I don't mean to sound like I doubt you, but this is so sudden. And I'm not sure what you...want." He swallowed hard. "Are you saying you want to-- Kyle, please tell me if you mean what I think you mean."
He'd never seen Connor so flustered before. It was sort of...cute. "Maybe this'll sound a little silly considering we go everywhere together anyway, but I was thinking we could go out. Like a date."
The sudden joy in Connor's voice both made him want to laugh and reminded him of certain realities. "Conn, I have to tell you, I'm pretty nervous about this. I mean, I know how I *feel,* but I-- well, you know I've never--"
Connor smiled suddenly. "Right. So you want-- what-- a test? To see."
"I guess. Yeah." Put that way it sounded just like what he'd been afraid of when he'd talked to Donna. "I'm not, I don't want to play games with you, but I'm honestly not sure this is gonna work."
Conn nodded. "You're not comfortable with this," he said, which Kyle thought was a hell of an understatement. "Kyle, we don't need to fall into bed just because we confessed feelings that go beyond friendship." He paused and licked his lips nervously. "There's nothing wrong with taking this slow. In fact I'd prefer it. That way if-- I mean--" He stopped and took a deep breath. "It's better not to rush."
Kyle started to smile. "You know... women always say they appreciate guys who say that. 'Let's take it slow.' It's very weird being on the other side and hearing that."
Connor grinned back. "I know I appreciated it when Piper said it to *me.*"
That was just too much. Kyle sat down, howling with laughter and watching Conn chuckling across the room. If it felt this good, if they could laugh about it... it would all be all right. No matter what happened next.
The rest of the Titans, meanwhile, had been greatly amused by Donna's crusade. Roy had taken to whistling "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" whenever she was around, and she'd found multiple copies of "Emma" left in her room. (Plus one much-battered videotape of "Clueless," which she could only assume had been donated by Toni.)
"Is it so awful," she'd finally complained to the one person who would listen, "that I think they'd be perfect together, and want to see them happy?"
"It's very sweet," Garth said solemnly, though his eyes were laughing, "and therefore very *you.*"
"Hrumph." Donna wrinkled her nose at him. "Watch it, buster, or I'll make you my next project."
He shuddered. "Not that, anything but that."
She grinned. "Well, why not? C'mon, Garth, I don't even *remember* hearing about the last time you had a date. Unless there's someone in Atlantis you haven't told us about, and if that's the case, you're in big trouble for not telling us."
"If there were, Wally would have gotten the news from Arthur. You'd never guess it, but he's the worst gossip in Poseidonis...."
Donna giggled. "That's hilarious. So, okay, you're not seeing anyone there."
"Donna..." Garth folded his hands and cocked his head at her. "Why are you obsessed with setting your significant others up with other people?"
Donna gaped at him. "Don't you think Kyle and Connor love each other?" she asked incredulously.
"I do think they love each other," Garth said mildly. "And I hope it's enough to keep them together. But I'm talking about you."
"About me?" Donna echoed.
"Sometimes," Garth said carefully, "you're so busy making sure everyone else is happy, you forget to make sure you're happy. And, sometimes I worry that maybe...." He paused and to Donna's surprise, flushed in a sudden display of shyness she hadn't seen from him in years. "Maybe you forget that being with you could make someone very happy."
"Well," Donna said practically, with a toss of her hair, "of course I know that. But Kyle and I weren't happy. We were...content. But he deserves to be happy, don't you think?"
"I'm not disagreeing with you, Donna," Garth reminded her quietly.
"So what are you arguing about?" Donna asked cheerfully, relaxing with Garth's assurances. "Don't worry about me. It'll happen when it happens. Now, be quiet and let me think. I don't suppose those brotherly feelings for Toni might be more than brotherly, eh?"
Garth regarded her for a long moment, evident frustration masked behind his calm demeanor.
"Garth?" Donna's eyebrow quirked upward. "Is that a yes?"
With a silent sigh, Garth stood and walked over to where Donna had been pacing off nervous energy. He closed his hands around her upper arms and looked down into her face. She stared up at him in surprise. Garth didn't answer the unasked question, instead bending to close his mouth over hers and kiss her senseless.
Garth was kissing her. And great Rhea, where did he learn to do *that* with his mouth?
For a long moment, Donna let herself be swept away in the kiss, too stunned to react properly, her brain offering her such inspired commentary as, Huh? What? How? and Wow!
Then all that warmth and pressure and skill was gone, and Donna opened her eyes, almost fearful of what would be standing above her.
But it was still Garth, dark hair curling softly over his forehead, violet eyes blazing down at her in a way that was...much more than brotherly.
"I'm sorry," he finally spoke, his voice husky to her ears. "Those brotherly feelings for Toni are just that. It's my brotherly feelings for you that are taking a beating."
Donna gaped at him. Then, unable to formulate a coherent response, she responded in the only logical way. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.
Garth caught Donna around the waist as she tackled him and staggered them both backward until he sat down on his bed, pulling her onto his lap. He felt good to her, he felt *right,* she thought as he ran strong hands up her back. Garth ran gentle fingers up to trace her cheek before drawing her face away from him.
"I-- I didn't know," Donna said lamely. Could she have come up with a worse cliché? she chastised herself. She didn't *know?*
"I noticed," Garth said, resting his hands on her thighs. He cocked his head to the side and studied her. "How do you feel about it?"
"How do I...?" Donna squirmed.
"Donna." Garth's hands tightened on her thighs, stilling her movement. "I think we should talk about this before we go any further, but you're going to have to stop moving or we won't be talking until much later."
Donna ducked her head, her hair swinging down to hide her features as Garth watched her.
"What's wrong with that?" she asked finally, peering up at him. Her hand reached up to caress his face and she smiled. "Honey, you look like you're smuggling plums down there and that just can't be comfortable. Not for talking, at least." She leaned up and found his mouth again and was lost. Which was right where she wanted to be for the time being.
"What are we going to tell the others?"
Donna was lying half-draped over Garth, enjoying the rumble of his chest as he spoke. "Who says we have to tell them anything? They're a smart bunch, they'll figure it out."
She could feel his hesitation before he spoke again. "I guess I meant...I'm not sure what to say. If anyone asks."
"Oh." Donna propped herself up to look at him. "You can tell them that I finally got a clue about someone was right in front of me."
"Donna..." he reached up to brush a lock of hair out of her eyes. "I really do love you, you know."
Underneath the gentle tone, she could hear such longing in his voice. "I love you too, Garth." She laid a finger over his lips to stop his reply. "I know, we say that so often. We've all loved each other since we met. I know you're thinking, oh, that's just Donna...she says 'I love you' all the time to her friends. I do, and I mean it...but I also know what you mean. More than friendship, more than just sex." She couldn't help the smirk that spread across her face. "Though the sex was pretty damned amazing."
Garth laughed. "That it was." He pulled himself up so he was half-sitting against the headboard, Donna leaning against him. "I don't want to make any assumptions. I'd like more than a one-time thing. We've spent half our lives together already, as Titans. I'd like to find out what else we might be to each other."
He said it with such devastating honesty she couldn't help but respond in kind. "Me too. I think...this was a surprise, but I think I've been ready for this for a long time." She was quiet for a moment, thinking about all the years gone by. "We've known each other so long...there's so much to start with. I just wish it hadn't taken so long for me to see that."
Garth pulled her closer. "Donna, don't. We both needed time. To grow up, to become the people we are...to have loved and suffered loss and be ready to love again."
She just smiled and snuggled in, utterly content. Because the *best* thing was not feeling compelled to talk it to death.
Then the realization struck her, and she had to raise her head and ask.
"There's just one thing I need to know."
Garth raised an eyebrow at her. "What's that?"
"You're not allergic to cats, are you?"
(a month later)
Kyle gently disentangled himself from Connor's sleeping form and walked to the bathroom. Ever since he started sharing Connor's bed, he'd found himself waking up more often to relieve himself. Probably nerves, he decided, yanking the tie on his pajama bottoms. After all, it wasn't like sleeping with guys was something he knew a lot about. He paused, forced to honesty by the lateness of the hour.
That wasn't *entirely* true.
Oh, of course he'd never shared a bed with a guy. Especially not a guy he loved. Not one he might have sex with.
But the feelings weren't totally foreign. After all, he *was* an artist and appreciated beauty in all its forms. Closing his eyes, he pictured the way Connor's shoulders bunched up when he pulled back on his bow. There was definitely beauty there. And if his appreciation of that beauty slipped beyond the strictly aesthetic, well, maybe it was time to stop censoring himself.
He clearly remembered times in his artistic career when his emotions would be thrown into a dizzying spin by an imperfection, some slight mar in otherwise dazzling beauty, so that he'd spend days thinking about it. There had been a boy in one of his classes, not an art class, but one of those required functions during which Kyle paid the minimum of attention. This boy was the very image of a Greek god, golden hair, muscled body and piercing eyes, but that wasn't what Kyle stared at the entire hour. At some time in his life the boy had broken his nose, and that slight hook fascinated Kyle in ways all the perfection of the boy could not. He'd been startled and disturbed by these feelings and sketched not the boy, but naked, bosomy women in the margins of his notebook, just in case anybody was looking. But after class, when he was alone, his hands carefully recreated that hooked nose and crumpled the drawings immediately afterward.
He thought of Jen and Donna. Both gorgeous, both smart, both funny. Demi-goddesses without a flaw in their genetic makeup. He never sat up at night, staring at one part of them, searching for that imperfection that made them the only one of their kind. Had he been attracted to them for that very reason? That helpless fascination frightened him and he had chosen partners who would not bring that out in him. But it was exhilarating, too, and maybe that was why they had never lasted.
Distracted by this self-revelation, Kyle realized he was still standing in the bathroom, staring at the wall. With a shake of his head, he turned out the lights before opening the door to Connor's--to their--bedroom.
They'd moved very, very slowly from 'just friends' to something more. He really did love Conn, as far as emotions went. It was the physical part that he was still having trouble with. Connor had been...patient. More than patient. Kyle knew he himself would have been climbing the walls by now.
They'd made a game out of "desensitizing" him: sitting together on the couch became leaning against each other, then finding excuses to touch, and finally to sharing a bed. Just to sleep, though, so far. It wasn't fair to Conn, he knew that, had apologized more than once. But it'd proven harder to throw off the inhibitions of a lifetime than he'd anticipated.
The problem...the problem wasn't in wanting Connor.
The problem was in letting himself be comfortable with wanting Connor.
The moonlight cast through the window, reflecting silver light on the white bed linens and the soft, pale carpet. Connor's skin, though, turned the moonlight a soft golden color, drawing the light to him and warming it. Kyle could make out his features in the dim light; the slight scar in his left eyebrow that marred the strip of gold; how one eye was just slightly bigger than the other; the ears that his head had never quite grown into. The moonlight rippled over a small white scar in the deep bronze of his shoulder and Kyle's eyes fixated on that, watching how the moonlight danced over it and slipped away, almost as if it were afraid of that one little mark.
Kyle walked slowly toward the bed, observing how Connor's shoulder rose and fell, and how the moonlight scuttled around the scar as he did so. He lifted one knee to the bed, pausing to tilt his head and watch his-- his *boyfriend* for just a little longer. Then, unable to resist, he pulled his other knee to the bed and leaned forward to trace the indentation on Connor's shoulder lightly with his fingertips. The perfect imperfection of it.
After a long rapt moment he pulled away, looking down at Connor. Wide green eyes stared back at him calmly.
Caught. "Conn, I... um...."
Connor just looked up at him, waiting. Patient.
Kyle was suddenly sick to death of patience. It was *stupid,* especially when he couldn't remember any more what he was waiting for. He leaned forward, greatly daring, and pressed his lips against Connor's.
It wasn't an earthshaking, life-changing kiss. It wasn't even a great kiss. But it was a start.
He sat up again and Connor pulled himself up to lean against the headboard. "Kyle, what's--"
"I'm tired of waiting," Kyle interrupted. "I'm tired of making *you* wait."
Connor blinked at him. "I don't... well, I do mind, a little," he admitted. "But you need to adjust, right? I want... I want you to learn to want me as much as I want you. There's no reason to push. We have time."
"Maybe it's time to push a little." Kyle took a deep steadying breath. "As for time...who knows how much we've got, with what we do? I don't want to put things off anymore. If we're going to be an 'us'...maybe it's time to start on that."
Connor abruptly looked like a kid at Christmas. "Are you sure?"
The phone rang, startling Donna out of a sound sleep. Beside her, Garth stirred and muttered, "It's for you." She blinked groggily at the clock. 3:17 a.m. Who in Rhea's name was calling at 3:17 a.m.? It couldn't be a Titans emergency or their pagers would have gone off. She reached over, knocking the phone off the dresser before getting it to her ear.
"You were right," Kyle said, "and I promised you'd be the first to know. Well, technically the third."
"Wha-- oh!" Donna sat up, grinning. "Really? Tell me!"
"Sorry, no. I'm not sharing." There was a pause. "I'm *definitely* not sharing."
"After everything I did for you, too."
"For which I'm profoundly grateful, believe me. How're things working out for you?"
Donna glanced over to see Garth watching her, smiling. "Wonderfully. Which I'd say even if he weren't right here. Oh, Kyle, I'm so happy for you!"
Kyle laughed. "Me too. And likewise." He paused again. "Love you, Donna. And thanks."
"You too, sweetie. Love to Connor."
"I'll tell him. Night!"
"Night!" She hung up the phone and lay back down, cuddling against Garth's side. "That was Kyle...."
"I gathered. So everything worked out?"
"Seems like it. I'm so thrilled for them!"
Garth chuckled softly. "All your plotting ended well."
She turned her head and nipped at his side. "You benefited too, don't forget."
"I never could."
Donna smiled as she scooted up to lay her head on Garth's shoulder. "You know," she said carefully. "Roy and--"
"Go to sleep, Donna."
"But don't you think..."
"Go to sleep, Donna."
There was a pause and a sigh.
"Ah well," Donna conceded. "There's always tomorrow."
Oh, and... the "smuggling plums" comment was Smitty's fault, based off a comment from the ComicSlash group awhile back that Phil Jimenez drew Garth like he was smuggling plums. Check out the Tempest miniseries -- it's *true.* *grins*