Archive: Ask first, please.

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Continuity: Current DCU. S&S universe. Random backstory, circa the Technis Imperative (before S&S starts). During the Clocktower visit, Dinah spilled some gossip she probably shouldn't have about Connor Hawke. How'd she know? Well....

A Connor Hawke story for S&S

by 'rith

Catastrophe averted, the assembled heroes felt particularly reluctant to disperse. This crisis had resonated deeply with most of them, rooted as it was in teammates and friendships and the bonds formed therein. They'd gambled the fate of the world on the soul of Victor Stone, and been vindicated when his innate heroism won out. The fact that his return to sanity had been based in large part on the love of his teammates for him, and his for them, hadn't been lost on those who'd witnessed it.

Buoyed on that sense of camaraderie, the majority of them continued the gathering at Warriors' bar in New York. To the uninitiated it seemed merely like any other bar, decorated in super-hero motifs rather than sports memorabilia. Those within the community knew better. The place was owned and run by Guy Gardner, formerly a Green Lantern and currently the semi-retired super-hero called Warrior. Those who knew Guy weren't surprised that he'd named the place after his own persona; they were surprised when he closed the bar to the general public and threw it open to them for a celebratory party. Guy wasn't generally known for altruistic gestures--as evidenced by the fact that the beer wasn't on the house. But it was still a good place to hang out, toast their triumph, catch up with each other, trade war stories... and gossip.

Among the superhuman community, gossip was a currency more precious than gold.

Connor Hawke stood against one of the far walls, somewhat removed from it all. While he'd--briefly--been a member of the JLA, he hadn't really felt at home there. Green Lantern, his closest friend here, was busy arguing with the Flash. The day's events had degenerated into something of a JLA-versus-Titans clash, and both of them had served on both teams. But Kyle had sided with the JLA, while Wally stood with his oldest friends in the Titans. Connor was glad to see them communicating, even if at the moment they still seemed more than a little ticked at each other. He'd chosen to get out of the line of fire and let them hash it out themselves.

He'd have found a seat near Arsenal, except his sort-of 'half-brother' Roy was currently in deep conversation with Troia and Nightwing and Tempest, and they didn't look like they wanted company. Connor had only heard stories about the original Titans secondhand, but the affection between them was apparent.

He was thinking about leaving when he saw Black Canary heading his way. Dinah was... cool. He smiled at the thought, the phrase so obviously a Kyle-ism he'd picked up. She'd taken a definite interest in his life, which was both flattering and a little terrifying.

She reached him and leaned up to kiss his cheek. "Hey, sweetie! Great party, huh? Long time no see! When was the last time, when we fought those monkey guys? What've you been up to?"

Connor blinked at her rapid-fire commentary. "Hi, Dinah. Um, sure, it's nice. I'm sorry I haven't called you... I've been traveling a lot recently."

She grinned. "Know how it goes. Oracle's been running me ragged, too. But it *is* good to see you."

"You, too."

"So are you staying in town for awhile?"

He nodded. "I think so."

"Excellent." Her expression suddenly turned mischievous. "So now that you've been out of the monastery for awhile, I can ask the really important question. Are you seeing anyone?"

"Uh...." Without thinking he looked toward Kyle again, and Connor glanced away quickly before she could follow his glance. But he couldn't help blushing.

Dinah smirked. "There IS someone, isn't there."

"Well... kind of. But we're not.... I mean, I don't know if he's...." Connor's eyes went wide, realizing what he'd just let slip.

"Is he cute?" Dinah asked without missing a beat.

"Y-yes. But I, I'm not even sure about *me,* never mind--" he broke off, confused.

"Connor?" Her voice was very gentle. "Do you need to talk? Somewhere quieter, I mean."

He looked around, realizing--in this crowd, *anyone* might overhear. Enhanced senses, super-hearing. Or simply reading lips. "I-- Do you mind?"

"Not at all." Dinah took his hand and pulled him toward the bar, easily steering her way through the crowd of heroes. "Hey, Guy! Borrow the back room for a sec?"

Guy Gardner shrugged. "Sure. Try not to destroy anything."

"You're a gentleman," she said wryly, and directed Connor around the bar to a concealed door behind it. Inside was a small room, dark and cluttered with shelves holding precariously balanced objects of all kinds. She reached over and flicked a switch, filling the chamber with dim light.

"Half trophy-room, half bomb shelter," Dinah explained, "complete with lead-lined walls and sound baffles. Guy can be just a *leetle* paranoid. Thinks Big Blue is spying on him all the time. So. You were saying?"

He looked at her helplessly. "I just don't know. I haven't--you know, growing up in the monastery--I've never...." Connor felt himself flush again and stopped, unable to articulate anything but confusion.

"Ah, okay. I gotcha." Dinah tilted her head thoughtfully. "So there's someone you're attracted to, a guy, but you haven't told him?"

"N-no. He--dates women. A lot."

Dinah sighed. "Well... I don't know what to tell you. Pretty much, I see two choices: either talk to him about it, or put him out of your head and don't think about might-have-beens. Just... don't spend your life waiting for something that might not happen." She grimaced. "I'm probably the exact *wrong* person to tell you that. But you're Ollie's son, I can't help but feel... connected to you. Pseudo-mom." Dinah glanced up at him. "Tell anyone that and I'll kick your ass."

He couldn't help but laugh. "I won't. I know you're probably right. But I wouldn't know what to *say,* I'm not even sure about what I feel."

"Welcome to the club, Connor. This--stuff--always gets so convoluted with us. No matter *who* you are. Everyone out there--" she waved her hand at the closed door and the bar beyond-- "has their own problems dealing with relationships and costumes and everything in-between."

"Maybe," he said softly, "but I don't know if any of them have the same... complications."

Dinah snorted. "You'd hardly be the first. Ask Jay or Wes about Dr. Mid-Nite sometime."

"Jay or Wes?"

"Sorry. Jay Garrick's the Flash--the first one, lives in Keystone City--and Wesley Dodds. Sandman." She grinned. "I grew up around those guys, you know, they were much less paranoid about their identities back then. At least with each other. Anyway, the point is-- Connor, I can't point to anyone in that room and say, 'go talk to them about Being a Gay Superhero in Today's Busy World.' I wouldn't, just for privacy's sake. But I promise you, you're not alone. We're generally a tolerant bunch, so that won't be a problem." She paused. "Except for Gardner. And everyone knows he's an idiot."

"I'll, um. Keep that in mind." Connor thought about what she'd said. "It's--if I tell him, I'm afraid I'll lose him as a friend."

"If he's really your friend, you won't," she snapped back. "But I know what you mean. So--maybe take some time away? Get some perspective. It wouldn't hurt for you to explore a little. Figure things out for yourself before you make any decisions."

"I guess that makes sense."

"Of course it does. I'm *great* at giving advice about other people's love lives. Just don't ask me about my own." She shook off his questioning look. "Never mind. So it's a plan, right?"

Connor smiled. "Right. Thanks, Dinah."

"De nada. Let me know how it goes, okay?"

She opened the door to find Gardner there, standing with his hand balled into a fist as if to knock. "About time. Thought you got lost. Have fun?" He leered at her.

"You're a pig, Guy," Dinah said without malice, and shouldered him out of the way. "C'mon, Connor, let's go find Roy and make this a family reunion."

It was far easier to let himself be swept along on the wave of her enthusiasm than to argue. Connor followed Dinah back into the crowd of costumes, sparing another glance toward Kyle on the way. She was right, of course. It wasn't worth risking Kyle's friendship for the sake of his... infatuation. He knew Kyle wouldn't care about who he dated; he also knew, now admitting it for the first time, that Kyle wouldn't ever be one of those possibilities. Especially considering the way he and Jade stood seeming joined at the hip, Kyle's arm around her waist, their posture both casual and intimate.

The realization hurt more than he'd expected.

But he'd been taught to consider every setback as an opportunity, too. If Kyle wasn't an option... well... then he'd have to figure out who *was.* "Explore," Dinah had said.

It was past time he left the familiar safety of the superhero community to do just that.

{not the end}

Timing notes: re Wesley Dodds. The Technis story is dated Feb '99. The JSA book wherein Wes died is dated August '99. So he's still around at the time of this fic. ;)

Sea & Sky attempts to follow canon aside from the obvious diversions. That means Kyle's still dating Jade at the moment (before their breakup in 119, circa roughly GL 108 because I assume Technis takes place before Kyle heads into space. Could I BE more obsessive?). Connor... has apparently been closeted again by DC, which is a damn shame. But I'm sticking with what I was told by a DC editor.

Next: Seeking.

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