A/N: Final chapter. Few review answers:
First off, a lot of you commented on my portrayal of Bruce. I merely put forth the fact that he really isn't around as Bruce. Batman, yes, Bruce, no. And yeah, you can refer to "Downtime", but I still wouldn't call that real evidence.
Someone asked how long it takes me to write a chapter. Generally, 2-3 hours. That's if I'm roleplaying and managing my club on a sidetab. Hour and a half if I'm dead-set on writing. Just depends on my attention span, time constraints, and other duties. And what all I want to get in.
Last, I thank you all a million times over again for the reviews. As I write this, I am at 1,010 reviews. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Disclaimer: Don't own.
"Hold on," said Wally as he caught the uncertainty in his best friend's eyes. "Hooollllddd on, you're not actually thinking of not forgiving us, are you?" Panicking. He was panicking. No way. He couldn't lose after coming this far. No way. The Boy Wonder had saved their lives after they destroyed his and was now contemplating whether to forgive them or not. No way, this wasn't going to happen. He wanted his best friend back, that was all he wanted. Normal. He wanted things to go back to the way they were before.
He tried to keep his smug grin off his face. Just the panic vibes that Wally was giving off was making Richard want to grin and cackle. He never thought in a million years that he'd ever be able to make the ginger that nervous. Well, give him the Bat-glare once he perfected it, but until then… "Well…" There was so much he could do with this. He loved this leverage no matter how evil it made him feel. Then again, they had gone behind his back and done too much damage to repair it this easily.
"Oh, come on!" protested Wally, standing up and running one hand through his fiery red locks. "You can't be all dramatic about this! It's not fair!" He was looking to the others, but no one was saying anything. Kaldur was quiet while Megan looked stunned at her fellow redhead's outburst, and Superboy looked very much like Superboy. Bored with the whole thing as if the whole situation had already blown over. No one else wanted to say anything. If Wally was going to explode, they were letting him do it on his own.
A faint, sad smirk. "Let's not start talking about fair."
Wally was quiet as he plopped back down on the couch beside his friend, the cushion bouncing the smaller boy slightly. The ginger let out a long groaning sigh. "Alright, you come back with all your witty little remarks and punish us however you want." He folded his arms across his chest and put his chin up with indignation.
"I'm not going to be cruel. That'd be… cruel." He could usually come up with more words, but his mind was working on other things. This opportunity would never come around again. Never. So he had to find ways to use it to his advantage. Sure, it was devious and horrible of him to do, but he couldn't just say "Yeah, it's all good, I forgive you for looking into my past and reading through my deepest darkest secrets. No problem." No, they wouldn't get away that easily. Not if he had anything to do with it. Of course, Bruce wasn't here now. That was good for more things than anyone could ever imagine.
"You're creative today," remarked Wally, finding that he was the only one really doing anything here. Everyone else was dead as doornails, useless.
"Robin," spoke Miss Martian, finally deciding that since no one was getting anywhere and Wally was just asking for a good punch in the nose, "we're all really sorry." The girl was wringing her hands nervously, brown eyes fixated on the boy who was sitting there with his serious face and faint remnants of who he used to be. Clearly, the cookies weren't doing anything today.
"And I'm ready to forgive you."
It was almost the same collective sigh of relief that had been released when Ba- Bruce had left the room. Except for the fact that Dick wasn't sighing with them. He was still scheming in his little scheming ways.
"On a few conditions."
Wally, on one hand, wanted to strangle the kid; on the other hand, he wanted to hug him and strangle him at the same time, in a nicer way though, of course. "Like what?" asked the speedster with a bit of huffed rage on his voice. He just wanted to be forgiven. He didn't want to have to go through other conditions. Wally wanted everything to be back to normal, the new information stored away in his brain for safekeeping. Things would go back to normal, that was all he wanted now.
"Whenever I have to clean the Batmobile, you're doing it for me." Why? Because Dick seriously hated cleaning the Batmobile. Superman had kryptonite, Dick had the Batmobile and a hose. It was Bruce's punishment for everything. That, and making him eat vegetables and taking away his cape and mask. Since that last one didn't matter anymore with his stash of a second costume, the Batmobile was pretty much his last resort.
"Big deal," huffed Superboy, still sitting back and watching everything around him with that detached stare he seemed to always wear.
"And you won't treat me any differently." Because he didn't want anything to change. He wanted to be Robin. Dick Grayson would remain a distant thought, separate from this world, native to that of Gotham City and Bruce Wayne. That was how he planned on having it stay. Yes, Dick existed here now, but he wasn't actually here. If that made any sense… "And I'm still Robin."
"No problem," said Wally, flipping his hand nonchalantly. He wasn't sure if he could even manage to say "Dick" or "Richard" instead of "Robin". To him, this kid was still Robin. He could see another persona behind it, but it wasn't as present in his mindset as the Boy Wonder was. A hacker versus a billionaire's son. Robin would always be Robin.
Aqualad and Megan nodded; Superboy remained passive in the background as only Superboy could be.
Richard had to mull over it for a bit. "And don't do it to anyone else who joins the team." Because that sounded good. He was setting guidelines now that would protect future members. Maybe if something serious came up, this condition could be ignored, but he mostly wanted to keep them from ruining other lives.
"Who said anyone else was going to join?" commented Superboy in a hushed voice. His arms were folded across his chest, his gaze distant, his mind elsewhere, his ears scarcely even listening in on this conversation when the League members were still on the other side of the room talking by themselves.
"With you talking like that, no one will want to join," remarked Wally; he was just impatient to get this all over with. Normal, that was his goal. Normal. This was taking far too long for his liking. He fought with his need to start his foot tapping at light speed.
Kaldur'ahm found his moment to intervene. The dark-skinned Atlantean said in a somewhat rough and disciplining tone, "Superboy, Kid."
The two quickly found themselves quiet.
"And…" He was not good at this whole punishment thing. His parents used to take away his videogames or make him train for an extra hour or wash the dishes. This was a team, not his family. Well, in a way, they were, but there were still such drastic differences that none of those were suitable. And Bruce, well… Bruce wasn't very good with punishments. Vegetables and Batmobile-washing were the worst he could do. So this was a learning experience. "You guys have to give me piggyback rides whenever I ask."
This got him a few questioning looks and an awkward half-jaw-drop from Wally.
"Yeah, I'm not good at this stuff. That's the best I could come up with." He shrugged while looking at his friends half-heartedly. "I don't get in trouble that much."
"Piggyback rides?" asked Wally, trying to fight off a case of severe giggles. Really, where was this kid getting this from? A bad sitcom? He could only imagine where the last one had come from. Sure, the first one was alright and the other two were understandable, but piggyback rides? For real? He wasn't sure whether to ask if it was some kind of sick joke or not.
Back to his feisty self, Dick was quick to punch Kid Flash in the shoulder. "Yes! I don't know what I'm doing!" The kid, after having his fist caught on the retreat, kicked Wally in the shin. "I'm not a drill-instructor, sheesh!"
As the two began their daily "I hate you, I'm gonna kill you, lemme punch your guts out" antics, the other three sat back, the tension now forgotten and faded. Megan handed a cookie to each of the other two sixteen-year-olds who sat on either side of her. "That ended… well." It hadn't ended badly, that was for sure. The green-skinned girl just wasn't sure how to say exactly how it had ended. Not good, but not terrible. "Well" seemed to sum it up nicely.
"They're back to trying to kill each other," noted Superboy, just holding his cookie as he saw Robin already in a headlock with Kid Flash in prime noogie position. He was still trying to figure out how Robin could go from circus boy with dark background to Boy Wonder, son of the Dark Knight and turn into this great kid. Some part of him just wasn't computing it. Weren't the people like that always supposed to turn into bad guys?
"I would not say that that is a bad thing." Kaldur smiled at the two as Robin was wrapping his arm around Wally's neck, the two already pretty much in the middle of a wrestling match. "It could have ended worse." He took a bite of his cookie.
"True, true," agreed Megan and Superboy almost simultaneously, the two exchanging knowing glances, blue meeting brown for a scarce moment.
"To the kitchen!" shouted Robin, now pretty much on Wally's back to get the right angle for a perfect choke-hold. "I command you!" The kid had a fistful of Wally's short red hair in his hand for some reason and Wally was giving what looked like a silence scream as he tried to elbow the little bird.
"You guys are going to kill each other," commented Superboy, now taking a bite of his own cookie, which tasted a bit like ash and used coals. He wasn't sure why he knew that.
With his head yanked far back because of Robin's hold on him, Wally stood up, nearly falling back on the couch and crushing the Boy Wonder under him. The redhead shifted his weight and managed to stay on his feet. Kid Flash then staggered towards the kitchen as instructed, Robin giving a low cackle from where he hung on the older boy. After Robin dropped from his back and began digging around in the fridge, Wally leaned against the counter and took a breath. "Are we cool?"
Turning, Robin smiled with a soda in hand. "Yeah. We're cool."
He'd initially been reluctant to forgive. His secret was out, his world was crumbling. But then there were moments like this where all he had to do was instigate a friendly fight and he couldn't imagine being anywhere else. This was home. Robin knew his friends needed him and he needed them.
"Now… to the couch!"
A/N: I kind of wanted to end it on a happy/funny note. Piggyback rides… Yeah, random, but it's not like he has a real concept of how to punish. He's a good kid.
Fin. Review. Love you all. Thank you for reading.