Title: The First Step Towards Responsibility
Author: Takebuo Ishimatsu
Summary: When Superman hears of Superboy's injuries for the first time, he decides it's time for him to stop ignoring the problem. *Inspired* by a prompt in yj_anon_meme.
Disclaimer: Ido not own Young Justice.
*Inspired* by the Prompt:
Because all the angst about it is getting me down:
The team goes on a mission and it goes less than smoothly. It works out in the end, but they get pretty beat up along the way and trail back to base nursing their wounds for the debrief.
And then when Clark sees Superboy he freaks out and gets ridiculously over-the-top 'AHHHH INJURY AHHHHH'. And is all fussing around him and panicking and stuff and Superboy is just like wait, what.
Because I have the feeling that Clark will be all 'This is awkward and so I am pretending you don't exist because I am being a douche' right up until Kon actually ran into trouble, when he'd probably forget to be all bothered by the clone thing.
"Batman? Are you in there?" Clark called through the door as he knocked on it a few more times. He sighed when there was no reply. Frowning slightly, he tried again, "Are you ignoring me?"
Still nothing and so he called it quits for the time being. If Bruce really was in there, there was a good chance that he should have felt almost compelled to comment on the fact that if he was ignoring him, he was hardly going to answer whether or not he was. If he wasn't compelled, then he probably was ignoring him and everyone else and nothing short of the apocalypse was going to get him to come out.
Clark shook his head with a smile as he walked off. He was clearing spending too much time with the man if he was starting to create complex if-then scenarios regarding whether or not he answered his door.
Walking down towards the cafeteria, he kept his ears open for a familiar growl, or, if nothing else, a known heartbeat. He really did have to talk to Bruce about something and not all of them felt it polite to randomly show up at another's house and demand their time.
Even if Dick always seemed generally pleased to see him, and Alfred made a big deal out of getting him something to eat or drink or anything else he might need. (All while whispering that it was nice to see that Bruce hadn't scared him off yet.)
Apparently, the man thought it was good for his would-be son to have friends around that were as stubborn as he was.
Clark smiled at where his train of thought had taken him.
He smiled even more when he caught sight of his prey (or was it predator?) across the cafeteria, sitting next to Black Canary. Snatching up something from the lunch line, he made his way over to the two, nodding politely as people said hello to him as he walked past.
Just as he sat down across from the Dark Knight, he felt a rush of air and Flash was suddenly sitting beside him.
"Hey big guy, mind if I join you?" Flash asked, giving him a little wave of hello.
Clark shook his head, "Not in the least."
"I do," Bruce said with a scowl. He gave each of them a glare before turning towards Black Canary and growling out, "This is why we don't have debriefings in the cafeteria."
For her part, the woman just shrugged, "It has to do with Flash anyway. And Superman always sits with you."
...Not that Bruce ever approved of the seating arrangement. Clark sat with him anyway.
Clark smiled innocently as Bruce gave him another dark look, as if catching wind of his thoughts.
Having known the man so long, Clark wouldn't honestly be surprised if he actually had managed to find some way of creating human telepathic powers and had never told anyone.
"Continue," Bruce said dryly, plopping his cup of pudding onto Barry's tray without so much as a by-your-leave. He then stole some of Clark's carrots.
Superman frowned, feeling as if he was getting the raw end of the deal.
"Well, like I said, they're slowly starting to act more and more like a team everyday. In fact, as much as it may seem heartless to say this, I think Superboy may have finally managed to bring them together. Now they're watching each other's backs even more closely and they seem to be making an effort to listen to each other. Though," she gave Bruce an amused smile, "Robin's feathers are a little ruffled at how much everyone is watching out for him specifically."
"He'll deal with it," Bruce said bluntly, before adding, "Don't discourage them unless necessary. I appreciate his teammates' protectiveness when there's people out there that can take Superboy down with one hit."
Clark frowned. He usually only felt this lost after being off-planet and out of contact for over a month.
"Superboy was hurt?" he asked, wondering if he'd misunderstood that.
Why wouldn't they have told him?
"Is hurt. He's doing better, but last time I checked in on them, he was still on bed-rest," Flash answered.
"He's off bed-rest, but still not allowed on missions," Batman added.
"Yeah, and we're trying to take it easy in training as well," Black Canary turned towards Batman, "He's not used to working while injured, and he pushes himself too hard sometimes without meaning to."
Clark gave them all a stunned look, wondering how he'd managed to enter into another dimension without his notice.
"Why wasn't I informed of his injuries?" he asked carefully, not wanting to be rude if they'd somehow told him and he hadn't gotten the message.
One time, he'd come out of his Fortress of Solitude after a week to finally realize his messages weren't relaying like they were suppose to, and that he a voice mail from little Dick, then only ten, shyly asking if he'd like to come over for his birthday. He'd felt awful. Bruce had not been impressed, even if he had made it up later by taking the boy on his very own tour all over the world.
"Oh, don't worry, you didn't miss it. We didn't announce it since it's not really, you know, important information. I'm not even certain that all of the Justice League members actually know who's in Young Justice to begin with, let alone want to know every time one of them gets hurt. That stuff just worries the crap out of us," Flash answered, shrugging as he took a sip of his soda.
Clark just looked at him before turning towards Bruce, "I understand that, but why wasn't I informed? Didn't you think I might like to know?"
He knew that he was starting to sound angry, something he tried to avoid when in Superman guise and not speaking to a villain, but he was fairly certain the other deserved it. Bruce would have had to at least known that he'd want to know of his cl...the boy being hurt, even if the others hadn't realized it. To not tell him was just...cruel.
"No," Bruce answered calmly, not offering anything else in reply.
Clark blinked, "What?"
Bruce gave him his patented "Why do I people assume I'm friends with this idiot, again?" look.
"No, I did not think you would want to know. Nor did you need to know. So I didn't tell you," he spoke in small sentences, as if believing Clark too dumb to understand him otherwise.
"Of course I want to know! What would even give you the impression that I wouldn't?" he asked, flabbergasted. Surely, the World's Greatest Detective could do better than that!
"What would give me that impression?" Bruce asked before getting up to leave.
Clark swallowed painfully as it hit him. Bruce hadn't told him on purpose.
He nodded to his table-mates as he quickly darted after the Dark Knight, both of whom looked too ready for them to be gone. Understandable. No one wanted to get in the middle of a Superman/Batman fight.
They'd been known to clear out entire rooms before Clark even processed that they were arguing again.
"What is this, B? Is this your way of...punishing me?" he asked as he approached the other from behind.
Bruce turned to look at him, "Have you done something that requires punishment?"
Clark sighed, "I know how some of you feel about my interactions with Superboy."
Really, he did. Half the people he worked with on a day-to-day basis couldn't seem to remember that he could hear people in China talking about dinner when he was sitting at his desk in Metropolis.
"Or lack thereof," Bruce deadpanned.
...And then there were those who chose not to remember, in order to make a point.
"I thought you of all people would understand," he accused, crossing his arms over his chest, "In fact, you still don't trust him and he's been under your command for months. And though you may not say it, and others may not realize it, I know you still call him an 'it' in your mind."
Bruce crossed his arms as well and Clark pretended not to notice the two on-coming League members that caught sight of their stare-down and quickly backtracked into a different hallway.
"I'm Batman. I hate everyone and everyone knows it. You're Superman, the world's very own spandex-covered Boy Scout, who rescues kittens from trees and remembers to ask about Grandma's hip replacement," Bruce mocked, his voice telling him far more than he needed to know as to his "best friend's" thoughts were on his methods.
He ignored his chiding, they'd had that discussion a hundred times too many and were sure to have it a hundred times more, and instead focused on what he was really trying to say.
"And then there's Superboy, who thinks I hate him," Clark whispered, before rubbing a hand over his eyes. He felt so tired all of a sudden.
Bruce didn't answer and Clark sighed.
"I don't hate him. I don't know how I feel about him," Clark murmured, looking towards the Dark Knight, hoping he could give him some sort of clue as to what he should do.
"Maybe you should figure it out and stop wasting my time," Bruce growled before marching off again, the set of his shoulders indicating that he wasn't up for Round Three of the "Clark is an imbecile that keeps bothering me" game.
Ah, good ol' supporting Batman, at his best.
Clark sighed before rolling up his sleeve and checking his watch. Only 7:30. He had time.
SUPEY SUPEY CLARKY CLARKY SUPEY SUPEY CLARKY CLARKY SUPEY SUPEY
He nodded at Red Tornado as he made his way over to the robot.
"Batman left several hours ago," the mechanical voice said as he came closer.
"I know. I'm actually here to see Superboy," he answered, feeling ashamed for some reason.
If the android could lift his eyebrow, Clark felt he would have been doing it just then. Instead, the other hero simply responded with, "Very well. He is in the gym."
"Thanks," Clark said before flying off.
Even before he reached the proper hallway, he could hear the sound of something being slowly beat to death in the meta-human side of the area.
He flew over to the door and gently set himself down. He let out a sigh, wondering just what in the world he was going to say. He suddenly smiled as the image of Bruce popped into his mind, scowling at him for rushing in without a plan.
But, perhaps just this once, it was better to go without. After all, every time he stopped to think about his...the clone in any context, he found himself drowning in uncertainty, a feeling he wasn't used to having as Superman. Normally right and wrong were so clear to him, something Batman continuously complained about, but not when it came to the boy.
What was he suppose to do? He knew it was selfish and cruel of him to ignore the kid, but it wasn't as if he'd been planning on a...The boy was practically...Nobody had asked if he'd wanted...
The door in front of him jerked open suddenly.
"I told you to stop spying-"
Familiar blue eyes widened before darting to the floor. The boy crossed his arms in a stance almost identical to the one Clark had had earlier. Though, if he was honest with himself, Clark knew it was more a protective move than it was out of annoyance, as his had been.
"What do you want?" the other asked angrily.
Clark supposed he must have missed the point at which the boy's feelings for him had shifted from longing to bitterness.
"I wanted to check in on you," Clark answered and something inside him almost broke when the other's head shot up to reveal shy hope.
"I heard you'd been hurt," he continued and was confused when Superboy's face fell.
"I'll be back on the team soon," he said with enough assertiveness to make Clark wary.
"That's good?" It came out more questioning than Clark had intended.
Superboy shifted, looking down at his feet. "Do I have to leave?" he whispered.
Clark's eyes widened, "Of course not!"
"Oh," Superboy muttered, glancing up at him uncertainly before looking off to the side.
Internally, he winced. The boy didn't have a home outside of Mount Justice. Didn't even have a name. Of course he would think all he was good for was fighting criminals.
Clark sighed, rubbing his eyes for the second time that day.
Taking a deep breath, he said, "I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. Mainly my fault."
He gave Superboy a smile and his...clone returned it shakily.
"I'm Superman," he said, holding out his hand, "I would tell you my name, but I think Batman would murder me in my sleep."
Superboy's eyes widened as he took the offered appendage, and Clark made a mental note to remember that he didn't yet understand the finer aspects of conversation, most notably sarcasm and exaggeration.
"I'm Superboy. I don't have a name."
He said it blandly, as if it didn't matter (and maybe it didn't to such a socially-inept young man) but it caused Clark to wince.
He looked at him for a moment, almost searching, and Superboy started to fidget again under his scrutiny.
He didn't ask for a...He's not even certain he wants...but...
"How about Conner?"
Clark had seen the sun closer than many people on earth could even dream of, and he could honestly say it didn't hold a candle to that smile.
AN: I never posted this to the community, since I finished it & decided it was too non-comedy for the prompt. (The one time I actually try to write humor...-_-0)
Let me know what you think! Criticism welcome!