ORIGINALLY POSTED 05.10.2006
Lady Shiva & Tim Drake (PG, language, Tim ♥ Kon implied)
Tim was furious. Nothing was working, no matter how hard he tried or how deeply he thought about it, it just wasn't happening. He couldn't get Conner back. Inside his cave, under the Titans Tower, Tim snarled for the computer to try again - to analyze every aspect of the failed cloning attempts in some crazy, misguided effort to figure out how to get his best friend to come back home to him.
Of course Cassie knew he blamed her, he couldn't keep the bitterness out of his eyes. The Titans needed her, though. He needed her to be around, to make them stronger and give him the time to figure it out. To think and hope and love Conner back into life. Tim had a feeling that Cassie knew that, too, but she had wisely left their shared love for Kon go unsaid.
Tim left the cave with a tightness in his jaw and a sharp sting behind his eyes that was also in the back of his throat and tearing up the center of his chest from the inside. Tim slammed one tightly-closed fist into the wall by that damn golden monument to the boy he never told he loved. It was a stupid thing to do, it only made him hurt more, and it didn't make him any more capable.
"God damn it," he hissed, voice small and twining with too much air as he leaned against the base that held the metallic-tinged likeness of his lost love. "How am I supposed to think without you around? Without your .. .idiot comments and your being too loud about everything and your..." Tim trailed off, swallowing thickly.
"I wouldn't have let you die," he growled, fingers curling white-knuckled against the plaque that bore Conner's name. "I'd at lest have gone down with you. If I'd been there," he started, voice rushed, but he never finished the thought.
Tim knew that if he had been there, nothing would have changed. Kon would never had let him get himself hurt. Kon would've died protecting him, too. Head hung low, Tim struggled to catch his breath. Out of the shadows behind him melted a blissfully familiar figure, her lips curled into an amused smile.
"Self-pity hardly becomes you, little bird," Shiva said plainly, watching Tim's shoulders shake for grief and his cheeks burn red with embarrassment.
"S-Shiva," he blurted, whirling around and pressing his back flush against the monument base. "I --"
"No excuses. You have lost something dear to you. You must not make the mistake again."
"I can't just cut myself off from people, I --"
"You misunderstand me, little bird. You must not be so weak as to be powerless, next time."
"Next Time," Tim said glumly, sickness churning up in his belly. Of course, there would be a next time. Steph, his father, and now Conner. Bruce or Dick would probably be next. Bruce, of all people for Tim to worry about - but now, Tim couldn't even take him for granted. Kon had been indestructible.
He rubbed the back of his neck, pushing off from the statue and slid easily enough into the shadows where Shiva stood. She rested her hand on the small of his back and said firmly, "Your grief makes you weak, little bird. You must move on, to make any progress."
"How am I supposed to leave him behind?!" Tim snapped, but regretted the sharpness of his tone the moment Shiva pulled her hand away.
"You must," she said simply. "How is of no consequence."
Deflating in front of her, Tim hid his face in his hands.
"Only take care," Shiva added, watching him tremble, "That you do not trap yourself in loss. If you become like the Bat, you will never grow."
Tim's head snapped up and he looked wide-eyed at Shiva, lips parted in surprise and realization. She nodded, pleased with him, and before he could find his voice again, she was gone.
It was not long after that when Tim nearly begged her to take him under her wing again.
Tim woke up in a world of pain. His body ached, every muscle burning from strain, every bone throbbing from deep bruises and hairline fractures. Even the thin, firm mattress on which he lay felt like some kind of torture device. The heavy scent of Jasmine tea in the air made Tim's head reel. Injuries still untended, Tim rolled carefully onto his side, squinting into the mid-evening rust-orange haze of the room.
She knew that he could see her, sleekly-muscled legs propped up on the edge of the tub. Really, it was a large, metal basin pressed near the left side of the wall in the surprisingly comfortable cavern in which Shiva had chosen to take up residence while she trained her new apprentice. (Barely) hidden behind a thin drape of russet-dyed cotton, Shiva shifted her weight in the water, which sloshed gently against the sides of the tub. Tim could have sworn that the cool softness of that noise drowned out completely the rush of the small, winding creek that guarded the mouth of their makeshift home.
She heard his breath catch, and glanced over her shoulder and through the cloth that outlined too-clearly her silhouette. Tim immediately turned his eyes away, hauling himself off of his cot-like bed, in search of medical supplies. Tim peeled off his shirt, wincing as he appraised the damage she had done him during their most recent training bout. He felt his knees waver under his weight when the water-sounds behind him let him know that Shiva had stood up and stepped into the open air.
Pressing a glob of herbal bruise balm to a deep-purple blotch on his ribs, Tim closed his eyes and tried not to think about the brief rustle of cloth behind him. Shiva, wrapped in a linen robe, slid past him. He met her eyes, lips twitching up into a smile. Together they moved - he had seen her thighs tense in anticipation of a lunge - and in spite of the sharp pain that shot through his likely-sprained shoulder, Tim blocked both her first blow and her second.
Shiva thrust her heel sharply into his gut, knocking the breath from him as he lashed out with an open palm, connecting the side of his hand to her rib. Tim took a solid fist to the jaw and stumbled, dropping to his hands and kicking out automatically. Shiva jumped his kick, and caught him across the face with the instep of her foot - payment for the glimpse of flesh Tim stole from that low vantage point.
He rolled, recovering with a surge, and sent a harsh kick to the center of Shiva's chest. It won him a grunt and a laugh from his mentor; she was proud of him.
Snarling, Tim launched himself at her, too focused now on his goal of bringing her down to count the number of hits he landed, or register the pain of the ones he took. The final blow belonged to Shiva. With barely a tap to Tim's collarbone, she sent him sprawling back against the mattress, struggling to breathe. Tim knew that the bone had broken, but pushed himself up, rough-skinned hands grabbing hold of Shiva's robe as he threw her, propelling her across the cavern with what strength he had left.
She sprung off her hands, landed with cat-like grace on her feet and slammed her fist into his chest. Again, Tim fell back, lungs screaming for a smooth and uninterrupted breath. Again, he tried to get to his feet.
Shiva was on top of Tim in an instant, her weight pinning him where he lay. Over Tim's ragged breathing, she whispered, "Lay still, little bird," and kissed him.
Legal Disclaimer - Site Map