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Title: Remembering Priorities
Series: Priorities
Author: Aravis Tarkheena
Pairing: Tim Drake/Cissie King-Jones
Rating: R
Warnings: Violence, sex, angst
Disclaimer: Not mine, everyone's legal
Word Count: 19,000/19,000
Author's Notes: For lady_sarai. FINALLY done. <3

Index Post

Part Four

The window was slightly ajar when Tim arrived. Tim tightened his fist on the jump line he had used to repel down the side of Cissie's building, and frowned. Tim was worried by the implications of that scant few centimeters of space.

The gap implied either a welcome to enter that Cissie's previous mood immediately contradicted. Or it implied carelessness on Cissie's part due to supreme anger with Tim.

Tim was betting on the latter being the case.

That deduction made him even more nervous as he tapped on the glass of the window pane. It was dark inside, and he couldn't see or hear anything behind the window. Tim waited for an answer to his tap, but none came.

The longer he lingered, dangling outside Cissie's window, the more likely he was to be spotted. Tim took a deep breath, and slipped his fingers under the edge of the window frame. He pushed up hard, and the window stuck fast for a few longs. It then gave way with a long, loud creak that hurt Tim's ears.

Tim opened the window just wide enough to slip inside. The room was dark. None of the lamps were on, the night was moonless, and the streetlamps were all several stories below Cissie's window level. Tim had to pause to adjust his eyes to the darkness.

The small set of rooms were so completely still, that for the few moments it took for Tim's eyes to adjust, he wondered briefly if the flat was, in fact, empty. Then he caught sight of a grey cloak draped over the back of the sofa, and Cissie's favorite bow tucked carefully into a corner, and he knew she was home.

Just not in this room.

When Tim straightened his form completely, he saw the door to the next room slightly ajar. From what little he could make out within the small gap, the other room had to be the bedroom.

“Cissie,” Tim called out, quietly. He knew she would have heard the minute he opened the window, but he would have preferred to be welcomed into the flat.

There was no answer from Cissie, so clearly that was too much to expect.

Tim winced and made his way across the room to the slightly opened door. He pushed it fully opened, and stood briefly in the door way.

A small amount of light came into the bedroom from a small nightlight in the adjoining bathroom. The light was very dim, and muted by a partially shut door. Though, it was enough for Tim to be able to see much more clearly.

Cissie was laying down in her bed. She hadn't removed the rest of her dusty uniform, just her cloak and boots. Her quiver lay on the floor near the boots, mostly empty.

Cissie was curled on her side, her arms wrapped around a pillow. Her back was to Tim, so he couldn't see her face. Her usually brilliant golden hair was gray in the poor light. It made Tim's chest ache.

She looked almost like a stranger to Tim this way. Maybe she even was a stranger, now. Maybe she just wasn't what Tim thought she was. Maybe she wasn't who Tim thought she was.

Her body had grown, and changed in ways he hadn't had the opportunity to memorize. The set to her shoulders, the angle of her head, even the fall of her hair seemed new and strange to Tim.

Maybe the two of them were just kidding themselves. They weren't fourteen anymore. They had both changed, and grown into new and different people.

Just because Tim knew Cissie's favorite brand of soap, and the name of the first boy she had ever kissed didn't mean he knew her. It just meant he knew facts about her that maybe weren't nearly as important to her now as they were four years ago.

That scared Tim, almost as much seeing her ducking bullets did.

Then Cissie tilted her head back towards him. The light caught her face, and Tim saw the familiar set to her mouth. He saw the slant to her eyebrows, and the glint in her eye.

Tim saw Cissie's face, and knew from that glint in her eyes what she was probably thinking. He knew, from that set to her mouth and brow, exactly what she was feeling.

Tim realized then that some things, some connections, some pieces of knowledge would never change, no matter how much the person they were in reference, to did change.

He knew then that he would always be able to read Cissie, just like this. He would always know her moods. He would know when to push harder, and when to back off. Even if he didn't always have the context for that sort of knowledge anymore, it was still his.

It always would be.

He would always be able to read her. The signs on distress, of sadness, of need on her face, and in her form were always something Tim's subconscious would respond to. The impulse to help, to protect, to heal and comfort her were just so ingrained within him. They were impulses he would never grow out of. They were a priority he would never forget.

The things that existed between them were seeded too deeply for Tim to uproot, even if he wanted to.

The same must be true for Cissie too. Maybe that was what she had been trying to tell him all along. Maybe that was why she couldn't keep walking down that alley when she saw him, threatened.

Tim knew then that he wouldn't have been able to do it either, if their roles had been reversed.

So Tim did what he knew he should. He did what the fourteen year old that lived inside of him screamed at him to do.

He tried to make it better.

“I'm afraid,” Tim heard himself saying softly. His words echoed hollowly in the dark, nearly empty room. They sounded almost eerie, so thick with emotion and regret that Tim almost didn't recognize his own voice as it bounced against the bare walls of Cissie's bedroom.

Cissie's eyes sharpened in the darkness, and focused in on him. She rolled over in bed, and Tim could feel her examining him, just as he had examined her when her back was to him.

Tim wondered if she was taking this time to come to the same conclusions he had. He hoped that she did, but if she didn't...

“I'm just so terrified,” Tim found himself saying again, and this time he watched Cissie's face as he spoke.

Tim hated it. He hated all of it. He hated the way his throat tightened and his voice broke. He hated the thrill of fear that always came with a confession this profound. It shot through him like an electrical current his uniform hadn't been able to dampen. He hated the way that fear made him feel sick and jittery inside no matter how blank he made his face.

Tim swallowed hard around the panic, and tried to anchor himself in the now, but the now seemed to be just a little to much for him.

“What are you afraid of?” Cissie asked him quietly.

Tim shook his head and stepped further into the room. He couldn't look at her, not just now. He stalked over to her bedroom window, and crossed his arms over his chest as he looked out onto the alley way below.

It was all just too much truth without nearly enough cover for him to hide behind.

Tim's heart was pounding in his chest as adrenaline pumped through his system. He knew his hands would be shaking if they weren't tucked tight into his armpits.

“I'm afraid that if I say yes, if I pull you back into this, that you'll be killed,” Tim confessed. “I'm afraid that if I say no, if I push you away, you'll leave and never forgive me. I'm afraid of losing you, Cissie. I'm afraid that no matter what I do you won't be a part of my life anymore, and I can't stand that.”

Tim heard the rustle of the bed as Cissie climbed off of it, but he didn't look away from the window. The panes of glass, and the surface of the building across the street blurred as his eyes stung.

Tim could feel the warmth of Cissie's body behind him, even before she wrapped her arms around him. She tucked them around his middle, just under his own arms. She pressed her face into his shoulder, and breathed in deeply. She rubbed her nose against his neck, and sighed. Her hair tickled at the the back of his neck, and the soft scent of her tickled at his nose.

“I'm scared too,” she whispered back. “I'm scared of how alone you are. I'm scared of how alone I am. I'm scared of what that loneliness might make us do. What it might drive us to do.”

“You mean like make us want to take up an activity we had sworn off?” Tim asked pointedly.

“Or taking uncharacteristically dangerous risks,” Cissie suggested sweetly.

Tim didn't need to turn around to know what that sharp little smile on her face looked like. He had it burned into his brain years ago.

“I take your point,” he sighed, and leaned back, fractionally, against her.

Cissie tightened her arms around him.

“Maybe what we need, right now, is a little check and balance to our lives,” Cissie suggested. “Someone to keep close watch and call us on our bullshit until we can do it for ourselves.”

“Well, we have already demonstrated our abilities to be overly critical of each other,” Tim agreed, and Cissie snickered.

“We certainly have,” she murmured, and pressed her face into his shoulder again.

They were both quiet for a few long moments, Cissie with her face buried in Tim's shoulder, and Tim with his facing out the window. He could feel the slow and steady rise and fall of her breasts against his back as she breathed. Tim closed his eyes, and just let himself feel it, to revel in that simple evidence of her being alive.

“I'm not sure I'm going to be very good at this,” Tim confessed. He was surprised to find himself breaking the silence of the room.

Cissie didn't seem to be though. Maybe she knew him better than he thought she did.

“Mmmm? Why do you say that?” Cissie asked him. Her voice was soft and lazy, nothing at all like his own tight, nervousness.

“I'm not sure I have the emotional energy left to give to this... Relationship? Partnership? Whatever it is, what if I'm not good enough at it to...” Tim trailed off, and swallowed hard.

“To what? To keep me safe? To protect me?” Cissie asked him. She ducked under his arm, and stepped around to his front, just swiveling her arms around him, never really letting go. Her eyes were bright with understanding as she looked up at him in the darkness. “Yeah, I guess there are right ways and wrong ways of doing that. You may not always pick the right way, but you do usually pick effective ways, Tim.”

She was smiling at him, and the smile was very familiar. It was a smile that assured him that, despite the fact that he was a stupid clueless boy, Cissie loved him anyway. She probably always would.

“Besides,” Cissie went on, still smiling, “I'm pretty sure that should be one of the things I'm supposed to be keeping you in line about. So don't worry, I'll be sure to tell you when you're doing everything horribly wrong.”

“You're going to need to give me a serious learning curve, here,” Tim informed her wryly.

“Of that, Boy Wonder, I was never in doubt,” Cissie said.

She was still smiling when she rocked up on her toes and pressed a soft kiss to Tim's mouth.

It wasn't scary, and it wasn't bad. The world didn't change, and the fabric of time itself didn't rend apart when their lips touched.

It wasn't any of the things that Tim thought it would be.

It was soft, and it was sweet. It was nice in ways that made Tim's belly feel warm, and his toes feel tingly. It made him relax into her arms, and it took no coaxing for her to pull him back onto the bed with her.

They kissed and held one another for a long time, and when they made love it wasn't mad and it wasn't desperate. There was no terrifying intensity to it. It was all just soft mouths and gentle hands as they moved together in the darkened room.

When it was all over, Tim lay with his head against Cissie's breast, listening to her heart beat slow and steady under his ear.

“I want this to be the easiest part of our lives,” Cissie to him as she ran her fingers through his hair. “I want this to be just like our friendship. I want it work for all the right reasons and none of the wrong ones.”

Tim nodded, and let out a long breath.

“I want you to be here because you want to be here, not because you feel like you have to be to protect me. I want you to stay because this makes you happy, not because you don't want it to fail.”

Cissie pressed a kiss to Tim's temple and smiled.

“Sounds like a deal to me Boy Wonder. Now for next order of business...”

Tim raised an eyebrow, and tapped Cissie's bare hip interrogatively.

Cissie sat up and dislodged Tim. He flopped over onto the pillow next to her and she grinned down at him.

“Tell me just who it is that needs a visit from the Avenging Archer.”


Three Days Later

Cissie felt the Interpol agents watching her. She couldn't see the glint of their binoculars, it was too dark, but she knew they were watching her. A sixth sense deep in the back of her head made the hairs on her arms stand up.

Cissie let out a deep breath and flicked the line open on the communicator Tim had given her.

“So tell me boys,” Cissie drawled, her voice teasing and low, “and I only ask because I'm sure you're in a position to know.”

She heard the rustle of clothes as the two Interpol agents straightened up on the other end of the line. She also heard Tim's little exhale of amusement.

“Does my ass look as good in this uniform as your piercing gazes lead me to believe?” she asked them conspiratorially.

There were loud guffaws of laughter on the other end of the line, along with Tim's low chuckle.

“It absolutely does, A,” Tim told her, and the other men just laughed harder.

“Good thing you're going in first tonight, Tiger,” she teased back. “You might get distracted and trip over your own two feet.”

The loud guffaws continued and Cissie could practically hear Tim smile.

“Good thing,” he agreed. “Wouldn't want to give you any more work than I have to.”

There was even more teasing from the two agents, as they waited for their quarry to arrive. Cissie congratulated herself on successfully breaking the ice. She felt a sense pride as the four of them chatted and joked.

It was nice to to hear socializing again, even in the most perfunctory of ways. It was nice to hear him tease and joke and relate to people on a human level. All the time he spent off on his own, seeing his partners only as badges, and therefore an means to an end had, had made Tim seem hollow somehow.

Hollow in the ways he had been when Young Justice first came together. Back when he only had Batman and no one else to support him. Back when he didn't have any sort of family at all. Back when he was alone.

Tim didn't seem hollow now. He seemed vivid and alive. He seemed like he had when he realized that Young Justice was his family. When he realized he did have love and support in his life, not just a cold dark figure who only told him what it was he did wrong, Tim had come to life.

Cissie had loved seeing that in him. She loved seeing the flashes of humor, and the glint in his eyes. That glint was back now. That dull, lonely desperation still hung n the back of his eyes, but the glint was back.

Cissie knew she had something to do with it, and that made something warm swell deep in her chest.

When Tim finally did ID their man, and they went to move in, all four were all business.

Tim was poetry in motion. Every leap, every kick, every movement was a thesis on serious intent. Watching him at work sharpened Cissie's focus. As she watched him, she didn't just see his perfections but his vulnerabilities as well.

She spotted his areas of weakness. She watched them. She followed them. She hunted them.

She shot and stalked and saved.

She protected him they way she promised him she would.

At the end, when the guy was in custody and Tim was safe and whole, he looked up in her direction, and smiled at her. She watched that smile through the scope, and knew deep inside that part of her chest where that sixth sense lived and thrived, that she had made the right decision.

She blew Tim a kiss she knew he would see, and packed up her bow and arrows.

They had other places they needed to be.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
What a perfect ending for this series! I love the way you tied things up here!

Tim's speech was so authentic. It was heartfelt and honest, and I loved your description of the surge of emotions he felt before revealing his feelings to Cissie. It was a truly revealing look into Tim's thoughts. Equally wonderful was Cissie's reaction and the very natural way they came together. Their acceptance of one another and the baggage and uncertainty that they bring to the relationship was really well portrayed.

The comfort the two of them offered to one another was beautiful and poetic too. I like the simple way you alluded to their love making, and how passionate and gentle it was. Their afterglow was really sweet too, and so lovely to see the two of them finding comfort with each other in such a way.

I also really enjoyed that final scene with Cissie finding her place in this new relationship/partnership. The teasing with the Interpol agents and Tim, and the way that it helped ease tensions and lighten up the situation was really well played. Cissie's reflection on her past with Tim and the new changes she's seen since they'd come together was really well done too. It had a real nice flow to it that really offered insight to the reader.

Terrific job on this series, my dear! You've really made me love this pairing even more than I thought I could with your exploration of them in this setting!
Nov. 20th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
Yay it's over!

That's TWO WIPS I've put to bed in a month! All that's left is Sakar and I won't have any more languishing fics!

I feel like, Tim's so inexperienced with expressing his emotions that he has to be completely honest because he doesn't quite know HOW to prevaricate, you know?

Cissie's one of those people who just gets so angry so easily but she LOVES Tim and the minute she sees him vulnerable her immediate reaction is to support him.

I knew right away that I was going to end this with the two of them working fluidly together. I think that scene said more about their relationship and how it functioned than the other 18000 words combined.

I like it when Cissie's cocky. :D

I'm glad you liked it. Not many people ship these two. It makes me sad. Or maybe I just feel the compulsive need to prove that Tim can date ANYONE. He's just that adaptable. <333
Nov. 21st, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Tim is quite possibly the most adaptable character in the DCU. He definitely could date just about anyone, but Cissie is one of my favorites. At least for het pairings. They just have so much history that really can act as a good base for a relationship to be built on. So I'm glad that you wrote this pairing, because it isn't written enough!!
Nov. 21st, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Mmmm, I love Tim/Steph and Tim/Tam when it comes to Tim-het. With Tim/Cissie a close third. <3

Which ARE you favorite pairings?
Nov. 21st, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
Oh goodness, there are so many (at least for slash). Um, for het: Tim/Steph and Tim/Cissie are the first that come to mind. I like Tim and Tam as friends, but I just feel like them together as a couple feels too forced. At least in the comics.

For slash, well, Tim just goes so well with practically everyone. My ultimate Tim pairing is with Roy though. I love the way they complement each other. But also on the top of my list are: Tim/Kon, Tim/Dick, Tim/Bruce (I have to be in the right mood, but sometimes the power dynamics can be so hot, especially if they're reversed from normal), Tim/Zachary Zatara. But with slash, I'll give just about any pairing a try, especially the more obscure (like Tim/Ted, Tim/Jaime, Tim/Clark).

Haha, that was probably more than you bargained for! I have a lot of favorites I guess!
Nov. 21st, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
There needs to be a Tim/Steph community. <3

I think Tim and Tam have a lot of POTENTIAL. I can see what you mean about the their relationship seeming forced. However, I also think if you go through what those two went through together there's an immediate closeness, a bond forged, you know? I think that you can HAVE that connection with a person before you know them terribly well. I think that's what's going on with Tam and Tim. They have a connection but they haven't gotten to the 'getting to know you' stage yet. I can see Tim stalling that. He has such a tumultuous past. It's gotta be hard to talk about. With anyone.

Man, I spend waaaaaaaay too much time trying to convert people to Tim/Tam. :DDD So many people don't like it.

I agree with the Tim/everyone. :DD

Tim/Roy is one of my favorites as well. I think my list is the same as you, almost in that order. EXCEPT, I'm not into Tim/Bruce or Tim/Clark.

Having lots of favorites is the way to go. I'm not into that OTP crap. You need to spread the love, man. :DDDD
Nov. 21st, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not a huge OTP person either. I'm more of a "ranking" person. Like, I'll naturally gravitate towards certain Tim pairings (especially Tim/Roy), over others. But I like to see Tim with all sorts of people, because the dynamics are so fun and different in each pairing.

I can appreciate the Tim/Tam ship. I could definitely see the potential there in reading the comics, and the situations they faced together would form a natural bond no doubt. But I really like their dynamic as just friends. I think Tim doesn't have enough friends in his life, and there can be something so wonderful and uncomplicated in friendships. One of my favorite explorations of this has been in your "Poaching" series. Tam is his confidant, his best friend and the person he can talk about his screwed up life with. That type of relationship really appeals to me much more than them romantically.

(My affection for this type of relationship between them could also be because of my own close friendship with my best friend, who happens to be gay. We are infinitely close, each other's "go-to" person to vent to, find comfort from, and to have fun. But aside from his sexuality, I would never see myself with him as a couple because that's not what we'd ever want from each other. So I like that Tam can play this role for Tim, whether he's gay, straight, or bi in people's fics. I guess I'm bringing more of my own life or baggage into stories than I suspected)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm not even a RANKING person. I'm more of a 'whatever I feel like shipping at the time' sort of person. :DDD

Aw, I like Tim and Tam together BOTH ways. :D Sara was just talking about how she always saw Tam as Tim's work wife when they weren't dating. <3

I don't see it as your BAGGAGE so much as that type of relationship APPEALING to you because you can better relate to it. I always like to give Tim a best friend and confidant and a sounding board in my fic. One, because he needs an introspective best friend and while Kon's awesome, introspective he is not. Introspective best friends make explication AWESOMELY easy and much more fun than internal monologues. Also, that sort of relationship is so very important to in my life. I can't see how I would function if I didn't have at least three people I could call up at any given time to cry and laugh and talk with.
Nov. 21st, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Lovely! Cissie being back in the game is wonderful, and getting Tim to act human again ... *looks around curiously* I seem to have missed the part where Tam meets Cissie ... :)
Nov. 21st, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Cissie's GOOD at getting Tim to be human. :D

Hahaha! Oh man, if Cissie and Tam ever met, Tim's world would explode. They would IMMEDIATELY gang up on him and just bully him ruthlessly. <3333
Nov. 21st, 2010 07:44 am (UTC)
I love the idea of Cissie and Tam teaming up to force Tim to behave. I totally support this. :D (Seriously, when it's not Tim/Tam, I generally assume Tam is Tim's work wife.)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh they would be a force to be reckoned with. :DDDD

And she's SO his work wife. <3
Nov. 21st, 2010 07:36 am (UTC)
Oh my word, Bek. ♥ I have all the love in the world for this. Thank you so much for writing it! It was sooo worth waiting for this. I even got to reread it all! :D Seriously though, this is so much why I love them. I love how well they work, as a team, and how well they know each other.

And their talk in the bedroom about how they're both so lonely is perfect. My headcanon has Cissie feeling exactly that lately--lonely. It can't be easy to be a civilian when you've never done that before, and when everyone important to you isn't one. Among other things, but I could write an essay on my Cissie thoughts, so I won't right now. ;) In any case, you hit them and made me very happy.

Also, that whole bedroom scene and the sex and all of it was so perfect. I loved this soooooooooo much. <3 Thaaaaaank you!
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
The two of them just have so much HISTORY you know? They can't NOT have deep and meaningful feelings for eachother. <3

I'm glad my head Cissie and you're head Cissie are so much in agreement. :D

I think Tim and Cissie HAVE to just be honest with each other because they could both TELL if the other wasn't being honest. :D

I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I"m sorry it took so long to finish. It's been a fucking insane year. D:
Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Yeeeees, exactly! <3 And I'm glad our head Cissies agree too. :D It's fun when that happens.

Not only can they tell, but they call each other out on it and they can never get away with anything. ;)

You really HAVE had a crazy year! ::hugs!:: I totally understand, and it just meant I got to keep rereading it. >:D <3
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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