Standard disclaimers apply.

The Return of Hamster Boy **

Dick zipped up his son's coat. "And we're not going to get a call like we did yesterday?" he asked the boy.

"No way, Jose," Jimmy told his dad. He put is little Power Rangers book bag on his back and shook it around, listening to make sure all of his toys were inside.

"What'd we say about secret identities?" Dick reminded his son. Sometimes he wondered if it had been a good idea to expose his children to these things so early in life.

Yesterday they'd gotten a phone call that perhaps Jimmy didn't understand the difference between fantasy and reality, since he seemed to believe that Sunday had been a bad day because he'd become Hamster Boy, then Superman laughed at him, and Robin took his mask and cape away.

The boy sighed, rolling his eyes and repeating something he'd been sworn to a thousand times before. "I'm not allowed to talk 'bout thuper heroes an' Uncle Clark or what you an' mommy do cuz people have stekret idendidies, and udder people're bad sometimes and if dey find out da thekret idendidy, then badness happens."

"And why else, Jimmy?" Dick asked sternly.

The boy sighed, practically sing-songing the answer. "Cuz people haveta feel safe n' stuff. And knowin' too much makes 'em not feel safe."

Dick gave him a pat on the head. "Right. Now BE GOOD."

* * *

Jimmy stood on the toilet seat in the locked stall of the boys' room. "Mommy, I gotta tell you somethin' right now," Jimmy whispered into his pilfered JLA communicator. "I fink the aliens from Sunday are takin' over da pee-skool."

"Jimmy." Barbara said, exasperated. She took a deep breath. "Jimmy. you're grounded, alright? You're just grounded. I can't deal with it any more. When you come home, your father's going to tell you why you're not allowed to play with our grownup toys, and he's going to remind you ONCE AGAIN about secret identities."

The little device had been blinking green while she'd been talking. Now it was lifeless. How was the JLA going to come and beat up the aliens, if mommy wasn't talking to him?

Sighing, Jimmy hid the device in the pocket in his over-alls. He needed a spaghetti server. He liked the little clawy thingies on the end, even if Mara wasn't scared of it. Maybe the aliens would be. He needed a taser. Tasers made him happy.

He began climbing the stall. If the pre-school wasn't taken over by aliens, he'd probably get in trouble for this. Balancing on the thin edge of the stall, he reached for the ceiling and began unscrewing the air vent with his safety scissors. Those stupid blunt edges were good for something after all.

He tried to pull himself up, but it was difficult. He almost couldn't make it.

"Ham-ter Boy doesn't give up!" he told himself, before slithering into the duct.

* * *

"Grandpa," Jimmy whispered into his communicator. He'd used the safety scissors to unscrew a few things and twist the bare copper wires from within the JLA communicator around the exposed wires in the wall for the school's phone system. He saw it on an old episode of Star Trek once.

The voice on the other end crackled a little. "Jimmy, you're at school. It's school time, buddy. That means no calling grandpa while he's busy."

Jimmy rubbed his nose. The air vent system, and the space between the walls were dustier than he thought they should be. "Grandpa, it's really portant. You gotta call the Justice League cuz aliens are takin' over da pee- school."

Grandpa sighed again. "Jimmy, you're a great little kid, and I love you a lot, but you'd better knock it off."

* * *

Dick Grayson dug through a filing cabinet as he answered the phone "Dick, I don't want you to get upset," Barbara said in that calming, annoying voice that told him that something was seriously wrong.

"Who'd Mara put in traction this week?" he asked.

"Jimmy's teacher called me today." Barbara began tentatively.

"I said I'd talk to him," Dick sighed.

"His teacher said he's missing. He never came back from the bathroom at break, and they searched the school and the playground entirely." Barbara moaned. "God, our kids are SO STUPID!"

Dick shoved the file folders back into his desk and pushed the drawer in. It slid closed with a threatening clack. "So what're we going to do?"

"I'm on my way there now. I convinced them to give it until I get there before they call the police. I think he stole one of my JLA communicators. He's doing something with it, there's some kind of power overload. I'm going to try to jam it and cut in on the signal once before. stupid kids," she finished suddenly. "I told him he was grounded, and now he's doing something stupid." Dick could just tell she was blaming herself.

* * *

Cindy's head peeked through the glass office door. "There's a call for you on line two. It's one of your grandkids, but I was sworn to secrecy on which one," she said mischievously. "He was rather animate that I not reveal his name," she chuckled.

Bruce bit the side of his cheek, trying not to smile. "Transfer 'Hamster Boy' though." The entire thirty-fifth floor had a good laugh yesterday morning with that story.

The sleek black phone blinked twice with a silent ring, and Bruce picked it up. "Bruce Wayne," he said formally.

"Gran-pa Bruce, Me-member when the aliens went away and we didn't know where they goed?" a boy whispered.

"Yes." he said neutrally.

"They're at my pee-school. My teachers eyes glowed red and she didn't make us take a nap," the boy said, by way of inconclusive proof. "You haveta make Uncle Clark come an' kick their butt."

"Are you calling me on an insecure line, boy?" Bruce asked sternly.

"Nopeoonie, sir. Is goin' through the inn-kom thistem and then mummy's 'pooter at home."

"And your current location?" he asked the boy.

"Air duct. I crawlded through and hid cuz I think they're makin' pods in people and I don't wanna be a pod-perthon," the boy announced.

"Hold your present location," Bruce informed the boy. "The situation will be dealt with shortly."

* * *

Dick pinched the bridge of his nose and grabbed the phone to stop its squealing. He'd like an easy day in just one of his lives now and again. It'd be a refreshing change from the constant mayhem. "Did you find him?" he asked, knowing it was Barbara by the number on the caller ID.

"No. He's using some sort of alternative power source because I can't break in on his JLA signal. And that little weasel convinced someone that this place is full of aliens, because there's now a JLA general call for assistance going out on this location." Barbara sounded more tired than anything else. "I'm locking them in cages after this."

Dick got out of his swivel chair, reaching for his suit jacket. "I'll help," he grumbled, thinking up an excuse to get him out of the office long enough to go look for his son before this turned into another JLA catastrophe.

* * *

"Mrs. Grayson," one of the classroom aids said as Barbara slipped the cell phone into her pocket. "It's standard policy to call the police if a child goes missing. I'm going to have to call now," the twenty-something girl said. There was a look behind her horn-rimmed glasses that said she really didn't understand why a mother would be hesitant in doing something to retrieve a missing child.

"Alright, fine. I don't know where in the world he could have gotten--"

"Excuse me," a rather mild-mannered voice said from behind Barbara. She groaned. "I'm looking for a Ms. Sherman."

Barbara tried not to wince as Clark Kent joined their little group.

"I'm Ms. Prescott, Ms. Sherman's in the classroom with the students. And you are?" The girl asked, somewhat disturbed at the stranger's entrance into the school.

"Clark Kent." he mumbled to himself, staring at the wall just to the left of the classroom door, then brought his attention back to the girl. "Barbara here was telling me what a wonderful school you have."

The young assistant teacher looked frazzled. Her eyes were wide and she was shaking just a little bit. "I'm going to call the police. This school is in a lock down, and I don't know how you got in here." Before she could get herself any more upset, she went inside the classroom to place her phone call.

"I'm SO sorry for all the trouble," Barbara started. "Jimmy's going to be grounded for the rest of his life when I find him, I don't know who ca--"

"Bruce called us in," Clark explained.

"BRUCE?" she asked, stunned. He should have been the last person to believe anything that came out of Jimmy's mouth.

"And it's a darned good thing too. The teacher and at least four of the students are infected with the alien eggs." Just then the Martian Manhunter phased through the wall, apparently already caught up to speed on the situation.

"I'm still grounding him," Barbara muttered to herself.

* * *

"Bruce," Jimmy whispered into the communicator. "I hear-ed a sound." He was trying not to be scared, and he wasn't scared, till he heard the clatter behind him.

"Jimmy, the Justice League is taking care of the problem. Superman and Martian Manhunter are on your location now."

"I fink somefing's in the air bent." Jimmy was a big boy and big boys didn't wet their pants. He had to keep reminding himself that. Hamster Boy didn't wet his pants. There was a clicking, rattling behind him. "It's a pod-perthon."

"Get out of the air vent," Batman ordered.

* * *

Barbara corralled the children back near the hamster cage as the Justice League did their thing. Her fingers slid under her glasses and she rubbed her eyes as Superman circled the group of infected teachers at super-speed, keeping them rounded up. Martian Manhunter hovered above the group, attempting to use his telepathy to drive the alien spawn out of them.

She wasn't going to ground Jimmy for making things up. She was going to ground him for being right.

Long snakelike tongues flicked out of the mouths of the teachers, their eyes glowing red in protest of the Manhunter's efforts. His green brow arched downward in concentration as he attempted to force the aliens out of their hosts. Finally, a few drove upwards through the throats of their victims and out their mouths. The two young teachers they'd been evicted from fell to the floor, and the slimy slug-like aliens writhed in front of them.

The children screamed, and Barbara tried to hush them. "It's going to be alright," she assured. "Superman's trying to make your teachers better." Actually Superman was playing crowed control with them, Manhunter was doing all the work, but they were too young to really understand. Superman was who they all pretended to be during playtime.

After the final two aliens had been released from the two interns, Superman stopped and used his breath on them, freezing them solid for transport to STAR. He was sure the alien offspring were psychically connected to their larger, more dangerous counterparts.

"I'm glad that's over with," Superman told everyone.

"It's not over yet," The Manhunter announced. "There were five."

* * *

Jimmy clacked his way through the air vent system, trying to find a way out, before whatever was behind him caught up. "You better thease and rethist," he called back behind him. "Or you'll face the wraf of Ham-ter Boy!"

He wondered if aliens got intimidated that easily.

* * *

"Where's Jimmy?" Barbara asked. It was the question that had been on the tip of her tongue since Superman had rounded up the infected parties, but she dared not ask, in light of the seriousness of the situation, and if Jimmy was not near the infected teachers, he was probably safer than the kids in her care.

Superman scanned the area with his x-ray vision. "I have him," he announced, blasting a hole in the ceiling. Jimmy tumbled out, pointing above him. "Dere's another one in dere! Behind me!"

Using his x-ray vision again, Superman located the source of the trouble and blasted. A chubby Asian girl with pigtails and red glowing eyes fell out of the hole. "Come back, Jimmy. We only want to help you."

Manhunter got a lock mentally on the child.

"See," Jimmy said proudly, rushing over to his mother and grabbing her hand. "I tolja aliens was takin' over the pee-skool."

Barbara hugged the boy to her fiercely just as the girl spit up the alien slug. "You're still grounded."

* * * Jimmy looked down at his big plate of mac n' cheese with a big grin. He grabbed his fork, but one look of condemnation from Alfred made him place it back on the napkin and blush.

"You will wait until everyone is seated, young man," Alfred reprimanded.

Jimmy tugged on the towel he'd stolen from one of the bathrooms. He'd tied it around his neck so that Hamster Boy could ride again. He looked around at his mother and father and Timmy. "I dunno. Ebryone is here, I fink." The important people anyways. Timmy had even bathed and stuff. It was a special day.

"Hold your pants, buddy," Dick told him. "If Alfred said we're waiting, we're waiting." His father gave him a proud little grin, and that kept him happy for a few moments as he waited for the 'lollygaggers' to get in the dining room.

His big sister was the first person to come into the room. Her arms were folded over her chest, and she was biting down on both of her lips. She sat down without even looking at him. She was a girl and she was dumb.

A few seconds later, Bruce came into the room, and sat down, giving him a slight nod as he did so.

His eyes flashed to Alfie, who gave him a gesture that it was OK to eat. He filled his spoon up and prepared to shove it into his face. It was the best mac n cheese he'd ever had. Not just because Alfie made it, but because it was "Jimmy saves the world so he gets whatever he wants for family dinner night."

He lowered his spoon when Mara sniffed the macaroni and curled her nose, which earned her a glare from Bruce. She bit down on her lips again as she took the napkin off the table and put it on her lap.

"You gots ta eat and you gots ta like it! HAMTER BOY THAID SO!!" Jimmy tormented victoriously. He suspected she was under orders to behave and not say anything smart. It certainly looked like it was killing her. He wondered if he made it even MORE difficult, if she'd just explode. That would be an awesome ending to an awesome day. The Justice League came to his pre school, and he'd get to vanquish the greatest evil of all. Her face was all red and she was all scrunched up and stuff, and she looked like she was just going to go kablewy.

"So," his father announced, breaking his train of thought. "Do you have any words for us, little guy?"

His mom smiled and gestured for him to make a little speech.

Without waiting for Alfie's approval, he lept up onto his chair. "Ham-ter boy rulz, an' stuff. Its really good to save the world, and I wanna do it again some time. And fanks to da Juthtis League fer savin' my teacher and Megan cuz she's really pretty. And fanks to mommy for 'siding not to ground me." He sat down, but saw Bruce's eyebrow arched, and clamored back onto the chair. "And Fanks to Bruce fer actually listenin' to me real good about the aliens in the pee-skool." He pulled his legs out from under himself and his behind landed hard on the chair. "Now we eat Alfie's really gewd mac n cheese." He filled his mouth with the creamy spoonful, grinning as he did so.

Dick put down his water glass. "The one thing I'm DYING to know. What made you send out the Justice League?" he asked Bruce.

The older man shrugged it off as unimportant. "The desperation of the source," he said quietly as he began picking at his food.

Jimmy giggled, his mouth full of food. He swallowed twice before chiming in. "Cuz it hasta be REAL serious to call BRUCE!"

Bruce nodded once in affirmation.

Barbara dug her fingers into her eyes, rubbing furiously.