Friendly Visitors And Other Half-Truths
Other-dimensional beings were nothing new to anyone who'd been superheroing for at least a year. Benign other-dimensional beings were rather scarce, and actively heroic other-dimensional beings? Well, there was a reason that only Batman had protocols in place for such an occurrence.
However, Batman's protocol involved the Justice League, and the Justice League was currently off in Alpha Centauri dealing with a slave uprising – by helping them revolt. So, currently, the out-of-dimension guests were waiting at Titans Tower – though they seemingly had no idea who the Titans were – for the Justice League to get back from their off-world mission and take said guests off their hands. Robin and Superboy had been elected to keep them occupied. Which, apparently, amounted to exchanging life stories. Or, rather, the not-exactly-friendly visitors interrogating their hosts.
Batman was definitely there in spirit.
"You've gotta be kidding me, right?" Flash said, and pretty much everyone had to agree. Everyone from his universe, that was.
But as for Robin and…Superboy… Well, this was their universe, and things were apparently reeeaaally different here.
Robin shook his head. "Nope."
"Why would anyone want to clone me?" Superman asked, befuddled. "Again?" he added, thinking of Bizarro. After that fiasco, people – namely Luthor – had quit trying, thinking it a futile hope.
Though, STAR Labs had semi-succeeded with Supergirl and Galatea…
Best not to think about that.
"Well, you were dead," Kon replied. He shrugged and scratched his head, his fingernails making a shushing noise against the short bristles of his hair. "Though, that doesn't really seem to take with us…"
Superman scanned Superboy from head to foot. "You…don't look much like me when I was your…age?" If Superboy had been created to be him, presumably he was younger than he looked. "And I didn't get all my powers until I was a few years older than you." His frown deepened suspiciously.
"Yeah, well, 'clone' is sort of a misnomer," Kon replied, and then clammed up, eyes skittering away from Superman's steady gaze.
"Oh?" the alternate Flash asked.
Robin shrugged, then exchanged a glance with Kon, who – reluctantly it seemed – nodded. "They had to clone Superman's DNA to use, but they combined it with a human's to stabilize the cells and create the fetus."
And the fact that they weren't saying whose DNA they'd combined his with… Superman growled low in his throat. "Luthor."
Kon didn't even flinch, looking resigned to Superman's reaction. He turned to Robin and said, "He's looking at me like I'm the crud he'd scrape off the bottom of his boot if he wasn't floating above everything all high and mighty, isn't he?"
Robin leaned around Superboy and peered with pointed intentness at the alternate Superman. "Yup," he confirmed.
Kon turned around then, folding his arms over his chest in Superman's habitual pose, leaning against the wall with what appeared to be genuine nonchalance. "Well, then, if Luthor is a bad guy, then their universe is obviously one where they're all good guys," he snorted.
"Most probably," Robin agreed with the same flat tone of voice as his mentor.
"The fact that Kal is wary of your friend doesn't automatically make you think we're evil?" the alternate Wonder Woman asked, hands on hips as she raised a disbelieving brow at them. Despite her obvious anger, she looked much less dangerous than their Diana. All of them did.
Robin shrugged beneath his cape. "I don't automatically think anyone is evil." He paused a moment, then added, "Except for the people who perpetuate Barney's existence by wearing that atrocity of a costume."
Kon chuckled, and rolled his eyes. "I don't think your hate-hate relationship with a fictional purple dinosaur has any place here, T– Rob."
The others caught Superboy's slip of the tongue, but only three knew what it meant. J'onn, as always, was keeping his own counsel.
"You…know Robin's name?" the alternate Diana asked. "No one knows anything about Batman's…associates." No one outside of the original seven members of the League, that was. "He's…rather volatile when it comes to protecting his family."
Snorting, Kon said, "Volatile? That's a real riot coming from the alternate version of someone who once punched me across the San Francisco Bay for kissing her sidekick."
Diana blinked. "I don't have a sidekick." She shook her head, befuddled. "Batman is the only one who does." Then she corrected herself with, "Well, I believe that Green Arrow used to work with someone…"
"Hmm, yet another different between universes," Robin mused, one hand stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Here you've had two protégés, so has Green Arrow, Aquaman had one, and we work with the second Kid Flash…"
"Kid Flash?" the alternate Flash asked. "You've…gotta be kidding me, right?" He looked faintly weirded out by the thought of himself as a sidekick. Which probably explained why he was repeating himself instead of coming up with new one-liners.
Robin waved him off. "If you are which Flash I think you are – and judging by your bad jokes, I know I'm right – then here you were the first Kid Flash, the third Flash."
"I'm the first and only Fastest Man Alive, kid," the alternate Flash almost snarled.
"Not here you're not," Kon shot back smartly in a singsong voice.
John Stewart just smirked, feeling faintly smug for some unknown reason. This universe's version of him seemed to be pretty much the same. His face fell as he remembered the differences. This universe's Hawkgirl was Hawkwoman, married to Hawkman, he and her had never met, and he was still married to Katma. He wondered if his alternate self was happy.
Flash deflated. "Well, okay, maybe… So which Robin are you, anyway?" he asked, pointing at the red and green clad teen.
"The third," Robin replied with equanimity. At Superman's pointed look, he added, "And so far there have been…three Supergirls – four if you count Power Girl – though one was created by Brainiac as a Trojan Horse. She rebelled, though, but I don't know where Cir-El currently is."
"I think she said something about heading back to the future," Kon told his friend. "Where things were simpler." He shrugged. "Not like I can blame her. Sometimes I think that being a member of the Legion was easier than this." He gestured around himself vaguely, as if to represent his whole life's circumstances.
"And let me guess," Flash said snidely to Robin, all the while looking at Kon. "He's the one and only Superboy?" He jerked a thumb towards said superhero.
Kon purposely didn't flinch. "Not exactly," Kon replied darkly, turning a brooding countenance on the floor.
Robin shot his friend a look. "You can hardly blame yourself for the fact that you were the only clone that wasn't flawed, Kon." It was said with the tired certainty of someone who'd had to repeat the information several times. "And, well, there is Match…" he mused, turning back to the alternate universe visitors. "Though last I heard, he was dead. Not that that seems to last with anyone in the superhero set."
"He was a supervillain, Rob," Kon corrected sadly.
"Only because he was programmed to be," Robin shot back. "Besides, aside from pretending to be you for several months, he didn't really do anything all that villainous."
"Easy for you to say," Kon muttered.
"Yes, it is," Robin replied. His face scrunched up minutely, and he reached into a belt pouch, withdrawing a small electronic object. He looked at it for a moment and then said, "And speaking of easy, I don't know how easy it will be to return you–" here he turned back to their visitors, "–to your universe, but it won't happen while we're just standing around and exchanging gossip."
"The JL is back? Your JL, I mean?" Flash asked.
Robin nodded, tucking the device back into his utility belt.
Kon's eyes widened. "Dude, you're telling me you have a Bat-pager?" At Robin's nod, he continued, "Man, that's so unfair. I don't get any cool toys." He crossed his arms over his chest and pouted.
Robin turned towards the door, gesturing for their visitors to follow. "Superman can hear an ant burp when he's on the other side of the world. Presumably, you'll be able to do that too, one day."
"But why would I want to?" Kon asked, and rightly.
Their discussion faded as they got further out of hearing range – for non-Supers, that was. Superman had a hard time focusing on the conversation – he was still more than a bit bemused by the whole situation – and finally gave up, reasoning that eavesdropping wasn't right.
"They argue like an old married couple," John said, snorting derisively. Superman had to agree, though silently. Flash just chuckled his own agreement.
J'onn said placidly, "Perhaps they are." He didn't offer confirmation one way or the other about what he might or might not have seen in their minds.
Diana simply sighed and trudged after their 'hosts.' She'd be glad when they got back to their universe, where, while things might not be normal, at least they were familiar.
And the younger heroes were a lot friendlier.