Hello, all. First things first, a big thanks to A Singular Jame (again) for all their love and support (and for beta-ing. Especially for beta-ing). Other than that, please be aware that this entire story has actually been finished and was written in total well before season three came out. As a result, pretend season three doesn't exist. I was mostly sitting on this for editing purposes and such, but... kinda just how I do things. This is my first truly long term work, and I hope you guys enjoy it!
Batman was fine with waiting- he and Robin handled stakeouts on a regular basis- but he was getting a little tired of waiting for this kid to come home. It was nearing 11:30 and he was supposed to be home by 6:00 at the latest. His physical therapy had ended at 3:00, but Dr. Lake had expected him to hang out with his friends afterwards. If he hadn't been convinced that Jim Lake was involved in something before he came here, he certainly was now.
A small motor and a single headlight approached the house as the garage door opened. "Finally," Barbara muttered. She had been getting more and more anxious the longer Batman stayed. The engine and light cut out just as the Vespa passed the house, allowing Jim to gently coast into the driveway. The door opened.
"James Lake Junior! Where have you been!"
"Oh, uh, hi, Mom." The teenager sounded more nervous than Batman would've expected from someone who got caught in the middle of a fight that looked like it could very well have leveled the city. "We lost track of time. I'm really sorry." Jim cut off whatever platitudes would have come next as he noticed the large man dressed in black standing in his living room. "Ummmmm, hi?"
"I'm glad to see you got home safely, Mr. Lake," Batman said.
"Yeah… I mean, Arcadia's not all that dangerous." Jim shrugged and put his bag on the banister. "So, uh, what brings you here?"
"The Justice League has been meaning to talk to you for a few months now, but we thought we should give you time to heal."
"A few months?" Barbara questioned.
"What happened a few mo-"
"June," Batman supplied.
"Since June? Why Ju- Oh. Right. But why is that a Justice League issue?" Jim looked genuinely confused. Either he wasn't involved, was even further in over his head than Batman had originally suspected, or was a really good liar.
Batman quirked a brow even though Jim wouldn't be able to see it through the mask. "Damages throughout the city, piles of rubble from nowhere, and all of the cameras mysteriously out? It looks a lot like there was a full battle waged here and carefully covered up. And then there's you. Found in the rubble of the museum. The only person seriously hurt. I think you can understand why we might be interested in you."
"Jim would never-"
"I don't- I'm not- I don't know anything!"
"I didn't mean to imply your son was a villain, Dr. Lake. Quite the opposite, in fact. But we do think he's in over his head."
"Wait. You think that I'm a hero?"
Batman simply looked at Jim.
"Okay. I mean. I'm flattered. Or, I would be if I was. But I'm not. I don't even really remember what happened. So, um. Thanks? But you're wrong?"
Batman resisted the urge to sigh. Barely. "You remember nothing?"
"Yes," Barbara answered, "Jim had a bit of a concussion. Retrograde amnesia from brain injuries isn't all that uncommon."
Batman had seen Jim's medical records when poking into things the first time a few days after the event, but he hadn't heard anything about amnesia. And that complicated things. "Even if you weren't directly involved," he began, "and can't remember what happened, you were still there. And those responsible for this… attack may have seen you and will want to clean up any loose ends. They were careful and clean. You are a witness and, therefore, a threat to them."
Both Lakes paled. "Some witness I am," Jim grumbled.
"The League wants to make sure you're safe. Originally that was going to be by offering formal training and a place on a covert team, but this changes things. I can still offer some training to help you protect yourself, but I would also like to add regular check ins and a direct line to the League for emergency use only in place of the covert operations."
Jim laughed nervously. "I don't think the training is really necessary…"
Batman nodded slowly. "A League member will be back in two days to finalize details and show you where to go for your check ins. Is there any time in particular that would be best?"
Jim glanced at his mom. "Um, around 3:30 works for me."
"Are you sure, Jim? What about your friends?"
"I've been hanging out with them a lot, Mom. I think they'll understand if I don't see them for one day."
"Since that's settled," Batman interrupted, "I will see you then." He swept out of the house, cape flowing behind him.
An awkward silence filled the room after he left, until Jim broke it. "How long was he-"
"Since 4:30," Barbara answered. "Do you know how nerve wracking it is to have the Dark Knight in your living room and nothing to do. For seven hours. Jim, I had to feed him. You know I can't cook! And take out! For Batman!"
Jim winced. "Words cannot express how sorry I am, Mom. Really." After another moment of silence. "So, uh, I'm going to go to bed now."
Barbara sighed. "Alright. I love you, Jim."
"I love you, too, Mom."
Two days later Jim was home with time to spare and Batman, or maybe someone else from the Justice League, arrived in civilian clothes at 3:30 on the dot.
A large grin crossed the blond man's face. Definitely not Batman. "Ah, you're ready. C'mon then."
Jim gave his mom a quick hug goodbye, slung his bag over his shoulder, and followed the man out of his house. "So… where are we going? And who are you?"
"Huh? Oh, right. There's an alleyway not too far from here. You'd probably bike there normally, but we'll walk today. And you can call me Barry for now. Beyond that, let's just say I'm very fast." Barry looked proud of himself. Jim was significantly less impressed.
As they walked Barry chatted away happily and Jim mostly ignored him. A few noncommittal grunts here and there and the older hero was thoroughly convinced Jim was paying attention. Instead Jim was going over the instructions Blinky had given him, which more or less boiled down to the usual "don't tell them anything." Jim wasn't exactly surprised. The trolls still didn't want humans knowing about them and they were mostly hoping that if Jim denied long enough and they got no new evidence, the League would eventually leave it alone. Claire and Toby were slightly more concerned, but in the end, everyone agreed they could pull it off and they got all of their stories straight.
"Well, here we are!"
Jim jerked out of his thoughts and glanced around his surroundings. They were indeed in an alleyway. It was actually one Jim recognized which saved him the embarrassment of admitting he wasn't paying attention. There was one difference, though. An old photo booth had been added, carefully styled to look like it had been abandoned there years ago. If Jim hadn't known the alleys of Arcadia, he would've assumed it had always been there. "So," Jim said, "what now?"
"Now," Barry responded with a grin on his face, "you get into the booth."
Jim stared at him, then looked at the photo booth, pretending he didn't know it was a new addition.
"C'mon! Trust me!"
Jim hesitated, then climbed in, carefully avoiding some of the more disgusting looking stains. "Okay… now what?"
"Computer, designate: James Lake Junior, A-1-4."
A blue light burst from the camera and scanned Jim, startling him. When nothing else happened, Jim looked to Barry for instructions.
"Now say, 'James Lake, A-1-4, Mount Justice.'"
Jim felt his eyebrows rise. He was going to Mount Justice? He was pretty sure the Justice League had abandoned it after Joker found the place and exposed them. Apparently not.
"Um… alright then." Jim turned back to the camera. "James Lake, A-1-4, Mount Justice."
The light appeared and scanned over him again. Then a second light, yellow this time, enveloped him. As it did, Jim felt an odd tingling sensation and heard a computerized voice say, "Recognized. James Lake Junior, A-1-4." As the light faded Jim realized he was standing, rather than sitting, and in a completely different place. The room was large and empty, with a few hallways branching off. Turning around Jim saw a large tube-like thing extending into the wall behind him, the sides of which were covered in mechanical bits and pieces which had begun to move and glow with yellow light. Realizing what was about to happen, Jim hoped out of the way.
"Recognized. Flash, 0-4," the computer spoke again as some of the light coalesced into a human form where Jim had been standing. The light faded, the tube thing stopped moving, and Barry, The Flash, stepped out.
"So, how was your first trip by Zeta Tube?" he asked.
"Weird," Jim answered. "So, this is Mount Justice? Thought you guys abandoned it."
"We did. Called it back into service and got it cleaned up when the Team started up."
"You'll see. Batman was supposed to meet us here…"
"Maybe he got held up with some battle in Gotham?" Jim used the term battle loosely. Having been in battles, he would put most general hero work into the category of skirmishes. The ones that did make national or international news counted for battles, otherwise… skirmish.
"Maybe. Or he might be trying to make a dramatic entrance."
Jim laughed at that. He could easily imagine the brooding Dark Knight sulking around a corner, waiting for them to arrive so he could sweep in with his cape billowing behind him. On the other hand, the image was so silly, it almost felt stupid. Jim could still see it happening, though. Even the most serious heroes need to get their laughs somewhere.
A gust of wind and a streak of red signaled Flash leaving before barely a second later a streak of yellow entered, with a streak of red entering again from another direction. Flash stopped next to Jim again looking confused, and the yellow streak stopped in the doorway revealing a teenage redhead dressed in civilian clothing that Jim quickly classified as Kid Flash.
"Hey, Wally," Barry greeted, "have you seen Batman around?"
"He left a few minutes ago. I think there was a problem," he glanced at Jim, "at the Hall."
Barry nodded and turned back to Jim. "Guess you're just going to have to hang out for a while until he gets back." Another group of five teens entered the room. "Hey, guys. This is Jim. He's going to hang out with you guys until Batman gets back. Gotta go. Oh, and, Jim! Make sure you're alone before using the Zeta Tubes."
"Okay," Jim answered as the computer announced Flash again, the Zeta Tube lit up, and he was gone. Jim turned back to the other teenagers and looked at them a bit more closely.
The easiest for him to recognize despite the civvies was Aqualad with his darker skin and pale hair. He was fairly certain the buff boy with black hair, blue eyes, and Superman's symbol on his shirt wasn't wearing the shirt simply because he liked Superman, even if he didn't remember Superman having a kid. Now that he thought of it, there were more teens here than he remembered there ever being proteges. He could be fairly certain that the girl with green skin was a Martian. The shorter boy with the sunglasses was probably Robin, but he couldn't recognize the last girl with blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail.
The teens and Jim stared at each other awkwardly. "Hi?" Jim said as he started to cross the room.
"Hello!" the Martian girl greeted as she floated up to him. "I'm M'gann. You can also call me Miss Martian. Or Miss M. Or Megan. That's a human name."
"It is…" Jim was not certain how to handle someone this… cheerful and open. "But would you prefer M'gann or Megan?"
"It doesn't really matter."
"Most of us use M'gann unless we're out in public," said probably Robin, "and I'm Robin, in case you didn't recognize me in civvies."
Jim nodded to him then shifted his gaze to the larger boy.
"Superboy," he grunted.
"It's nice to meet you."
"I am Aqualad, but my friends call me Kaldur." He gestured to the remaining girl. "This is Artemis, and I am assuming you already know Wally is Kid Flash." He nodded to Wally over Jim's shoulder.
"Yeah," Jim chuckled nervously.
"So, uh, what now?" Robin asked once introductions were done.
Jim shrugged. "Maybe you could show me around?"
M'gann perked up. "That's a great idea! C'mon! This way!" She grabbed Jim's arm and pulled him down the hallway.
Of course I have parting words as well.
Next week my family is taking a vacation, and I don't know if I'll have the time and internet to update. If I don't, I'll probably give you guys two chapters the week following.
Other than that, make sure to favorite, follow, and review if you liked it. Let me know what you think, it gives me life.