Standard disclaimers apply. And yes, I think Bruce could be that mean. Thanks to Charlene and James for beta help.
Looking in the full-length mirror in his bedroom, Dick scratched behind his monkey ears. Shrugging and wiggling around inside his tuxedo, he pouted. "This isn't funny!"
Bruce smoothed out his bow tie, careful not to disturb the blood on his collar or face "This was your idea, kiddo."
Dick folded his furry little monkey-hands in front of his chest, trying not to get fur on his tux. "The zombie thing was my idea. The monkey thing was NOT my idea!"
With the red contacts in, Bruce's evil grin looked even more menacing. "You're the one that complained about having to wear a 'monkey suit.' I figured I'd just help you… view the situation from a new perspective."
Dick looked up at him in the mirror. "Well, I didn't even want to go to this thing."
With a comforting pat on the shoulder, Bruce gestured to the bedroom door. "The invitation said plus one. It was either you or Candy Madison." Bruce saw Dick give a visible shudder. "My thoughts exactly. Don't worry, I'll cause a scene and we'll be done by ten. Ooh wait. Stomach ache. One too many candy corns, you know. "
Dick's eyes lit up. "So I have actual permission to go nuts on the candy?"
Bruce gave another evil grin. "Not you, me. Alfred would be appalled if I let you eat candy after dinner. Scandalized even." Readjusting his bloody French cuffs, he winked in the mirror at Dick. It was too easy to be mean to him.
Sighing, Dick marched to the door. "Yeah, well, make sure you're mysteriously engaged in something besides watching me if they have deep-fried Chocos. I haven't had one in like… six days, and I need a fix." They really did need to escape the manor before Alfred inspection time. He'd done their makeup fifteen minutes ago, and if he saw that Dick had smudged under his button monkey nose prosthetic, he'd stop them again and fix it. Alfred was anal like that. "I just want to know you're the most horriblest person in the world."
Bruce followed behind him with a sigh of satisfaction. "My work here is done."
At around nine-thirty, Dick decided that other than being a monkey in a monkey suit, this shindig wasn't too bad—for one of those stupid charity things. It was Halloween, so there was tons of candy to behold. They'd had fried Chocos AND fried candy bars. You couldn't beat that. And for once in his life, he'd managed to dodge the creepy old ladies. He wasn't the only kid for a change, so all he had to do was get lost in the crowed of snooty ten year olds. He ditched the kids when the boys (an inordinate number of whom were dressed up like Superman) actually started playing craps for allowance money, which left only two things—hanging out at the appetizers table, or hanging out at the candy table. Both his jacket pockets were full of candy corn and jelly beans and his gut was gunna bust if he ate one more mini corndog.
At about 9:40, Bruce came up to him and removed his cufflinks. "Ready to go?"
Dick gave one longing look back to the candy table. "Maybe…"
"Not home. JLA headquarters," he whispered. "I've been called up."
Oh sweet. He'd TOTALLY forsake access to the candy table for a JLA adventure.
The whole way to the teleporter pad, he completely got the riot act read to him. No doing this, and that and the other thing, and no talking to Ollie because it just encouraged him, and if there were any other… kids there, they had to stay in plain sight (ya accidentally open one little airlock and suddenly you need babysat—really).
Materializing on the satellite station, Dick scratched his cheek and nose, getting grease makeup under his fingernails. The teleporter always made him a little tingly and ichy.
Bruce looked around. "Looks like I'm the first one here. Well, go get yourself changed. I'm going to look at the monitors and see what's going on first."
Ya didn't haveta tell Dick twice. He'd smeared grease paint all over his collar and now Alfred was going to be royally ticked. Well, Alfred didn't get mad, exactly. He'd just get that look. You know, the BRITISH look. That let you know he was really not pleased with your ungentlemanly behavior.
Snickering, Dick ran down the hallway to the sleeping quarters. It was the eternal battle—Alfred wanted Dick to be a 'gentleman.' Dick wanted to continue 'behaving like a wild dog.' Turning a corner, Dick slammed directly into Oliver Queen's chest, smearing brown all over him.
Dick looked up, innocently. "Sorry Mr. Queen! In a rush!" He patted the brown spot on the archer's chest then ducked around him and into Batman's quarters. He didn't know what was going on, but it HAD to be cool.
Bruce scanned through the list of reported incidents. No wonder no one was up here yet—Metropolis was having two riots at the same time, Wonder Woman was trying to bring some sort of order in Manhattan where Aquaman was trying to separate the infected from the rest of the population—It was all over the US, two Canadian cities, and appeared to be making it's way into Mexico.
No known cause, no one knew how it spread, but people were turning into mindless, crazed drones.
Looking over the list of symptoms, Bruce began to run through a list of possible suspects (the idea of magic being involved was forefront in his mind). Leaving the communication's center, he began making a checklist of people to look into, reserve members to call up, and locations that were likely to see the type of uproars found in Metropolis and other cities.
Since everyone else was busy, it seemed that he was in charge. Dick should be dressed by now, he could have Dick monitor information sources and call up appropriate parties. He hated—LOATHED to do it, but he'd have to have Alfred call in Batgirl to watch his city. It looked like he was the default leader and organizer of forces at this point.
Turning a corner, he realized he wasn't alone on the station. It was the big exploding arrow pointed in his face that tipped him off.
Unable to tell if Green Arrow was infected because of the mask covering his eyes and face, Bruce lunged forward to disable him. The exploding arrow was launched, but Bruce deflected, and it hit the wall next to his head, the explosion knocking both of them off their feet.
Ollie got to his feet and said something that Bruce couldn't quite hear.
Bruce tried to get up, but ended up grabbing the wall as the world seemed to tilt. "Huuh?" he asked. It sounded distant in his head, and Bruce realized the concussion arrow had left his ears ringing, and his equilibrium off.
His face stinging from the incredible scrubbing he'd had to do to get the makeup off, Dick sucked it in as he wiggled into his body armor. He hadn't been up here in like six months (blow open one little airlock…) and none of his clothes fit right. Bruce was like so dead for not thinking of this sooner. Bruce was supposed to think of everything.
Of course, Dick couldn't rib him too hard on it. Bruce'd tell him to stop having growth spurts, rather matter-of-factly. Bruce was like, beyond unfun sometimes. Which made things difficult for Dick, it meant he had to have enough sense of humor for both of them. Which only made things worse in the long run, because Batman got uncomfortable when Robin was too punny. Hehe. Punny. He'd have to remember—
His tunic stuck between his neck and armor, Dick began running full-tilt towards the sound of the explosion.
Bruce looked strangely rattled, and Mr. Queen was leveling another arrow at Bruce's face. "Now just stay right there, Creepy!"
"What're you DOING?" Dick asked, sliding as he stopped alongside Green Arrow.
"I'm taking care of the problem."
Dick almost couldn't find words. "That's Batman!" You didn't like… shoot Batman.
Bruce waved his hand at Dick, trying to gesture for him to back off, but there was something wrong with him, Dick could tell. There was something about the way his hand and fake bloody cuff were pressed against the wall.
Ollie took a step closer to Bruce. "Ya damned kids NEVER listen. Lemme handle this." With his chin, he bumped the communicator on his lapel. "I need a big gun up here now! Batman's infected!"
Dick tried to creep forward a little bit. "Infected with what?" he needed to get between Mr. Queen and Bruce. Why wasn't Bruce like… saying anything? Y'know, like, 'I'm not an evil badguy!' or something.
Green Arrow didn't move. "Just… go lock yourself in Batman's quarters. That's an order, you stupid kid."
Yeah, right, Dick thought. Like that order about not touching the airlock controls that he and Roy and Wally had listened SO CAREFULLY to. Shifting his weight, he leapt in front of Bruce. "Mr. Queen, ya gotta just calm down." The guy had a vein throbbing on his forehead already.
Then Superman was standing at the other end of the hall. "Robin, get out of here."
Dick huffed. "What's goin' on?" Adults were just NUTS. He didn't know why they were nuts, but he swore never to grow up and be nuts like the Justice League.
Bruce saw Dick looking past him, and he turned around, like he hadn't heard Superman comin' a mile away.
Superman looked past Bruce to Dick. "How long has he been like this? Since you got here?"
Ok, this was like not good. He could stand between Ollie and Bruce, but not between Superman and Bruce too. "I dunno WHAT happened. I heard an explosion, and I came out here, and Mr. Queen's all like GRRR and Bruce is all like WUH? and I don't know WHAT is going on." Why couldn't they have just stayed at the stupid rich people party? They had those little corn dog thingies.
Superman nodded once. "Alright. You'd better get out of here, then."
Maybe it wasn't Bruce that was all messed up, maybe it was everybody else that was all 'infected' and stuff.
"Wha's goin' on?" Bruce finally asked, standing more upright.
Superman looked over Bruce's shoulder again. "We'll do our best for him. But we have to quarantine him until we figure out how this thing spreads. Soon as we have a cure, he'll be good as new."
The promise was a little weird. "Aww, come ON, guys! What's going ON?"
Bruce scowled at Superman, then looked over his shoulder at Green Arrow. "Dunno wha's goin' on, bu' Queenz an idyit."
Dick held back a snicker. It was at that moment, when Superman flinched, that he realized that Superman's hands had been behind his back the entire time. The cape fluttered, and suddenly Bruce was in manacles and a thick metal chain around his neck. "We're doing it for his own safety, Robin."
Bruce twisted in the irons, a growl escaping his throat.
Dick's jaw dropped. "You guys're in serious trouble."
It took Dick half an hour to disabled the security camera in Bruce's quarters. Like… they'd just locked him up. Superman had just COMPLETELY locked him up like a little convict because he kept saying that you COULDN'T put Batman in the brig. You just couldn't do that. That was like shooting Batman. It was on the list of things you didn't do to Batman because he was Batman. Dick was like… ten and he knew that.
It took him only seven minutes after that to disable the door. Unfortunately he realized he didn't have nearly enough stuff in his utility belt to disable the cameras in the hallways, so he ended up closing the door again, tearing out the wires that controlled the censors in the air vents, and then wiggled his way down two levels to the brig. Dick vowed once again to be a cool grownup. Cool like… he didn't know. Alfie maybe. Alfie might have WANTED to chain Bruce to a wall and lock him up now and again, but he never did it.
Fifteen minutes after that, he managed to bypass the security in the detention area, then slithered out of the air vent and dropped into the cell in front of Bruce, who was almost out of the ankle cuffs. "So, like, how dead IS the Justice League when we get outta here?
Bruce looked up at Dick, his brow furrowed with ticked-offness. "Still can't quite hear," Bruce informed his junior partner. "Ollie set off a concussion arrow next to my head." A second later, the ankle shackles dropped to the ground.
In the monitor room, Bruce did a quick status check as he loosened his tie and threw his jacket over a chair. He'd change after he figured out just how much damage the Justice League had done in his absence. The riots were still happening, in fact, the numbers of infected had gone up.
Dick whistled. "So what IS this stuff?' He'd finally managed to struggle out of his undersized tunic that had been stuck around his neck and shoulder for like the last hour. He tossed it on top of Bruce's jacket.
Bruce unbuttoned the top button of his shirt with one hand and scrolled through reports with another. "I don't know. But I'm sure they're approaching it completely wrong." He punched in a communication's number by memory.
Dick was glad to see Bruce wasn't, like, bitter or anything about the concussion grenade and the shackles and being locked up and stuff.
Pushing up his fake-bloody sleeves and leaning heavily against the table, Bruce shook his head, still trying to clear out the remains of the vertigo and hearing loss. There was something about tonight that was making him very, VERY tired.
Zatanna appeared on the main computer screen. Her eyes widened in surprise. "Ba-Bruce…"
Bruce let out a weary sigh. "Can we just work on this? I don't think the infections are biological, they're spreading too fast for a communicable disease. It's not mass mind control or hysteria. The physical traits of the infected would seem to preclude that. That leaves me with magic."
Looking to Dick, Zatanna's eyebrows arched up questionably. "I dunno," the young man answered. "I think all grownups are nuts." He shrugged, still unsure what the heck was going on.
The magician's mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out for a moment. "You appear to be… in control of your faculties. I thought you were—they said--"
Bruce's shoulders slumped. Letting all the air out of his chest, he gathered up some resolve, pulled one eyelid back and removed the red contact. "We had our evening at COSTUME PARTY interrupted for this… nonsense."
Zatanna looked both ways and bit her cheek. "I'll… look into it. I have a… few leads I can pursue." She licked her lips. "Uh, Superman…"
Bruce's eyes narrowed. "Don't worry. I'll deal with him. AND Green Arrow." Not letting it drag out any further, he cut the connection and turned to Robin. "Alright. Lets get this over-with."
Dick looked around at the monitor room, then down at the bare armor under the arms folded over his chest. "Don't look at me. I just wanted corndogs. Everybody's nuts."
Epilogue: two weeks later.
Batman paced back and forth in the brig feet clacking on the metal floor in front of two chained figures. They were slumped in front of him, thoroughly beaten. "And from today's training exercise, what can we conclude?"
Robin perked up from his perch on the slab that served as a cot. "That grownups are nuts?"
This earned him a frown. "Perhaps. Oliver?"
Oliver Queen looked up at Batman with a bruised eye and a split lip. He scowled and spit on the floor.
Batman's arms clasped behind his back and he stopped pacing to look at his other prisoner. "Oliver can inform us of his scientific observations when his hearing has returned. Clark. Conclusions?"
Superman's face was expressionless. "I think this is a little… extreme."
Batman nodded. "The Kryptonite poisoning should wear off momentarily. Perhaps your head will be clearer by then, and you can explain to me the purpose of having microscopic and x-ray vision, if you're not going to use it."
Robin fidgeted, unable to contain himself. "I learned a lesson!" he piped up. "Besides grownups are nuts."
Superman and Green Arrow looked up at him.
The young man nodded eagerly. "Never mistake Batman for a Zombie!"