A/N: Well we got a name!
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans.
Aqualad blinked stupidly. The girl he had been sure he would never see again was standing not five feet away from him, her hands wringing the loose fabric of her purple shirt. He tried to say something, but his tongue seemed tied. He chanced a look up at her dark eyes. All his apprehension melted away, however, when he saw that she was silently crying.
Two seconds later, he was across the room and hugging her as if they had seen each other yesterday. Nerina stiffened in his arms, but relaxed after a moment. She returned the embrace, sliding her arms around his waist and leaning her head against his shoulder.
Aqualad could have stayed like that forever, and likely would have, if his shoulder did not suddenly become warm. He backed away, and Nerina fell to her knees, using her hair to create a veil between herself and the world, and covering her face with her hands. Aqualad stopped, resting his bodyweight on one knee and he attempted to pry Nerina's hands away from her face.
She fought weakly against him, her nails digging into her forehead as she sobbed silently. Aqualad was able to move one hand away before he caught her eye, and abandoned his mission entirely. Instead, he merely moved to sit beside her, draping an arm over her shoulder, as her shoulders quaked.
He did not know how long it was that they sat there before he heard quiet footsteps in the hall. As the door noisily slid back, he looked up to see Bumblebee standing in the doorway, looking completely drained, and clutching a fluffy terrycloth robe close to her. Without a word she exited the room to the kitchen.
There were quiet sounds as cupboards opened and closed and he heard the microwave being used. When the leader of his team returned, she handed him a cup of warmed milk and a small pill. She motioned to give them to Nerina. He raised an eyebrow questioningly before offering the pill and milk to Nerina.
She hesitated for a moment before taking the pill and swallowing as much of the milk as she could. It saddened Aqualad that, after all these years with no contact, she still trusted completely. He held her close and stroked her hair. Minutes later, her breathing evened out and she was asleep.
Aqualad easily lifted her and gently deposited her on the couch, pulling the blanket up around her shoulders like a parent. He paused a moment to stare fondly at her face before turning about to go to his room, even more exhausted than earlier. However, his already-dreaming mind was roused roughly at the sight of Bumblebee with her arms crossed, looking at him expectantly. He sighed.
This was going to be a loooong night.
Bumblebee led Aqualad back to the kitchen, so they would not wake up the girl. The pill was meant to put her to sleep, and the warm milk… well that was just something Bumblebee's mother had done for her as a child. She did not know if it actually worked or not, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Regardless, the girl must have been exhausted to have fallen asleep that quickly.
She leaned against the counter, sipping a glass of ice water in an attempt to wake herself up some more. Aqualad entered the room and sank into a chair, sighing heavily. He looked up at her as if he were a naughty child, and Bumblebee was the unhappy mother that found him with his hand in the cookie jar.
"Look, Bee, about earlier…"
Bumblebee shook her head. "Don't worry about it. We all go crazy and need a break sometimes."
Aqualad was surprised; Speedy had come in three minutes after curfew when Bumblebee had gone on her need-to-establish-power phase and she had yelled at him for hours, and then he had to endure the frosty silence that all girls seemed to have had mastered for the next two days. Of course, that was Speedy, and his and Bumblebee's relationship had always been a bit weird. Still, he suspected there was something more behind Bumblebee's sudden compassion.
"So," Bumblebee paused, giving Aqualad room to fill the gap. When he did not, she asked outright, "Who's the girl?"
Aqualad felt the beginnings of a migraine coming on. He really did not want to deal with this right now. It was no secret that his team's dynamics were… less than favorable. The day had caused his nerves to be on edge and he was ready to either snap at someone or pass out on the floor. Whichever opportunity presented itself first.
"Her name is Nerina. She's a really good friend of mine." He glanced towards the door, as if he could see through the walls and across a hallway to see the girl sleeping on the couch. "Why's she's grounded…" Bumblebee raised an eyebrow at his term, and he chuckled lightly, "back home in Atlantis, we would call going above sea level 'landing', 'surfacing', 'grounding' etcetera." He continued, "I don' understand why she's here, of all places."
"She's looking for you," Bumblebee said. "She showed me a picture of you, her and Tramm in a locket."
Aqualad raised an eyebrow. "She still has that old thing? I gave it to her years ago. A birthday present, I think."
"Can she talk?" Bumblebee asked curiously, still perplexed by the girl's silence.
"Of course," Aqualad answered quickly. "She just… doesn't talk around new people."
Bumblebee placed her hands on her hips. "Isn't she a little old to be shy around new people?"
Aqualad's eyes darkened. "Yeah well," he started before looking away. "Just leave it alone," he muttered.
Normally, Bumblebee would have done just the opposite and questioned him farther, but her talk with the Titans East today encouraged her to keep her mouth shut… for now, anyway. Instead, she stretched and yawned exaggeratedly.
"Well, I'm tired. You going up to bed?" she asked casually.
Aqualad stole one more look at the wall to the living room, then nodded. "Yeah."