The Bird and The Tarantula
Author's Notes: Thanks for looking into this story! This is Robin-centric as I love dumping drama, action, and nonsense on our Grayson. At the moment, there is no pairing but if you look and want it, there are Kid Flash/Robin and/or Superboy/Robin hints. Otherwise, enjoy as is. There are also Batman/Robin (Father/Son) themes. Can't leave that out!
Note that Kid Flash is aware of Robin's true identity prior to Young Justice having formed. This isn't confirmed in the YJ show (yet, anyway) but it exists in this story.
In terms of when this happens, it happens after Artemis joins and whether I make references to later episodes depends.
Disclaimer: If I owned Young Justice, I would not be writing fanfiction for it.
Warnings: None in this chapter.
If Robin toyed with the idea of premonitions, he would have considered last night's dream to be one. He stared blankly at the bumps his legs made under the blanket, wondering about the dream. It had sunken into his conscious, unabashed, and twiddled with unsettling scenarios. But when he woke to his ragged breath, what images he could collect became too weak within seconds.
It didn't make sense. He was use to difficult nights. He juggled a double life, stepping out of reality into something surreal yet somehow more real than his life as Dick Grayson. He'd endured sleepless days under the pressure of academic achievement and that of his physical exertion, both from training and receiving the bad deal of a mission. Even early on, the nightmares that starred the fateful night at the circus eased onto the back burner of his brain, all in thanks to Bruce.
So if his analysis was correct, how could he be plagued by such a dream? One he couldn't remember at that. It was stupid, he decided. What else could it be?
He took in the room that he occupied in the mountain (he had stopped calling it cave). He had a soft light to his left from a modern lamp, on a black desk that was centimeters from his black mattress. The equally simple clock carried three chunky numbers. 9:46 pm.
He yawned and rubbed his face, knowing his mask wouldn't wipe off as he did so. He was grateful the uniform made it easy to doze off when he needed too but he had opted to remove the glove prior to his nap. Beside the clock, he noticed his newly issued cell phone blinking; Bruce allowed him to purchase one for the sole use of communication between his teammates.
Well, those who had a phone anyway.
He grabbed the phone and read Wallie's name on a few texts.
brought pizza. Know ur nappin. Saving u 2 slices.
sorry, know ur still zzz but if u wake up lemme know if u want both slices.
I owe u pizza. my metabolism. sorry. 2morrow maybe?
Robin scoffed, and then chuckled. He had an hour and a half under his belt of sleep, which would supply him with enough energy to take on the entire night should he had to. Quickly settling back into his full costume, he went into the common space, leaving behind what thoughts he had over the odd sleep.
"Robin, hello," Megan called to him in greeting. "How was your nap?"
For a moment, Robin wondered if she would unconsciously pry into his mind. He shrugged it off and grinned. "All's good," he said, approaching the couch. Kid Flashed smiled at him around an apple and Superboy snuck only a furtive glance to him. Though KF wore his superhero attire, the head piece was off, pooling like a hood behind the nape of his neck. On the screen, Robin recognized Inception playing; it was the second time KF was watching it and Superboy and Megan's third.
"You got my message?" KF asked.
"Dude, you ate the food you were saving for me?"
"I said I'd make it up to you." The redhead chewed slower, face sheepish before it turned curious. "You okay?" he asked quieter.
"Always." Robin waved him off, smiling still though his chest bounced at the inquiry. He wasn't easy to read, let alone figure out, but he shouldn't have been surprised that KF managed to pick up on something. He was the only one in the group who knew him not just as Robin, but as Dick Grayson. "So, tomorrow then?"
KF's face blossomed. "Yeah. We can eat out if that's okay. I got no school tomorrow."
"Just the two of you?" Artemis stepped out of the kitchen doorway, costume adorned. Her lips worked around a thin bread stick. "Sounds like a date."
KF reacted first, his face bunching up and fist clenching. "Shut up, will you?" he demanded, tearing his eyes from her and huffing at the large screen.
It was more in part from talking to the brick wall that was Batman that made Robin relatively immune to the teasing. He only chuckled at KF's behavior, faintly noticing Superboy watching him as if waiting to hear more.
"What's with the look? By the way, where's Kaldur?"
"Training," Superboy said, eyes still on him. "Date?"
Robin laughed and hopped up the few steps to the raised level where the kitchen was. "You're not familiar with those, huh? It's just when a couple people who like each other go out. You know, more along the lines of building a relationship?"
The expression told him he hadn't nailed the definition well enough for Superboy. The boy glanced away after a moment to look at KF and then back at Robin. "Oh."
"Don't worry about it, Supey." KF cleared his throat and patted the large boy on his shoulder.
Leaving their presence for the sake of his hungry stomach, Robin slipped by Artemis and into the kitchen. He only smiled at her when he passed by. He left their relationship at that, wiling to include her on their fun but never exactly seeking her out. She seemed to prefer it and it left him more time to dig up what he could on her.
He heard KF exclaim and Megan's chatter after a resounding boom from the movie. While he settled for a bowl of mixed fruit, he realized how human they seemed and for the briefest moment, he felt he was part of a social group similar to those in his life as Dick Grayson. He and the others talked, joked, bickered, and huddled on movie night (when they could manage) like any other group. The only difference was that they would break between their socializing to serve out justice. Even when they trained together it didn't feel as if it were for the sole purpose of bettering their body.
As Robin swung himself over the couch, squeezing easily between the two boys, he realized even he had bouts of fun-driven adrenaline whenever he trained on the same course with another member. With Batman, he had a different type of fun. Now he was learning to be the hero with a group of youngsters like himself.
"I can't believe you're watching this again," he said, munching around a piece of cantaloupe.
KF scoffed and leaned closer, picking a strawberry and swallowing it before Robin could protest. His apple was gone and Robin couldn't see where the core was. "Just because you understood it the first time doesn't mean everyone has to."
Robin nudged him with his elbow. "Guess I'm just that amazing. It's a pretty trippy movie," he added with a laugh when Superboy looked at him. He wasn't sure what to make of the genome. Batman, on multiple occasions, demanded he keep a critical eye out for what was supposed to be their enemy. Robin liked him enough though, feeling as if he had a puppy around whenever Superboy mumbled a question at him or indirectly ask how to do something. As far as he could tell, Superboy seemed most comfortable around Kaldur, himself, and even KF.
"Hm." Superboy still looked irked. "Tomorrow…"
Robin picked at a grape and held it to the boy's face. "You want to come out with me and KF tomorrow?"
The clone frowned at the fruit obstructing his view but slowly accepted it. "Does…Superman go on dates?"
Robin lowered the utensil, staring at the young face. The question sparked a clue and Robin thought he saw Superman flash in his dreams. He instantly grabbed it, probing deeper. It failed, quickly, the image of the hero flickering out of his mental line of sight before he could even get the outline of Superman's body.
"I don't think he, as Superman, goes on dates. Maybe as a civilian he doefs." Megan chimed in, her voice gentle. It did little to butter up the largest of them all.
KF poked Robin. "Hey, you alright? You're not eating. And I am kind of hungry."
Robin released the useless hold he had on what may have been a fake clue. He smacked KF's fingers with his fork. "You want to save some food for the rest of us?" he mocked, hearing Megan add on to Superboy, "You should ask him next time."
Superboyf sagged deeper into the couch. "Why should I talk to him."
Everyone heard Superboy's growl. "
Picking at his fruit again, Robin started, "Hey, don't worry-"
The movie cracked in half and vanished before a new image spanned into view. Batman stared down at them. Robin knew behind the cowl that the man had taken in each of them, in detail, and Robin felt the hidden gaze last longer on him. "Mission."
Aqualad to Robin and Superboy. We're approaching the spot.
The clock hands creaked and its chime came in eleven low bellows. Before the ninth ring, Robin saw the van roll over a hill and onto the quiet street he had full view of. Right on time. It would be parking in an alleyway below him and Superboy that hugged the building they waited on. In the alley was Kid Flash; Megan cloaked herself in invisibility; and Artemis presided over the opposite building, closer to the clock tower.
If Robin were able to gamble with them, he'd have bet they were unaware that the seemingly common building operated under Wayne Enterprises. He didn't allow himself to think as to why they were shipping something here, knowing the telepathic link between the six of them was very much in motion. Until he could pry into his own mind, he implemented Batman's training to stay focused on the van nearing them.
The white sides of the vehicle sported a cleaning company's name and mascot logo. While it carried enough inside to promise the cheery mascot's guarantee, it also lugged around secured packages of disabled engineering equipment. Batman had issued the mission not even two hours ago: escort the cargo to the coordinates safely.
"It's them," Superboy muttered, not breaking eye contact from the vehicle. Robin guessed he was holding steady with his x-ray vision.
Tucked in the shadows, Robin tapped the air and revived the computer hologram from his arm. "Don't you think it's weird how fast we got this mission?" he asked.
Superboy glanced back to him, his lips in a lax frown. "Fast?"
"Hm," Robin scanned the contents glowing, "Well, yeah. We had to bust out quick to catch up with the van."
Superboy snorted and watched the van again. "We're just taking the trash out for them again."
His system didn't reveal any tampering with the surveillance inside the building. He double checked the gadgets he had KF secure around the area but found them untouched as well.
Robin to KF. All's clear.
Good from down here too. They could practically hear his boredom. KF had been hoping for something adventurous and even Robin would have sympathized were it not for the fact Wayne Enterprises was involved. He grappled with the idea of teamwork and only now he understood he probably should have told them if he were looking at it from that standpoint. However, Batman himself hadn't mentioned the name and must have known Robin would know. In the end, Robin opted to isolate that information for himself and would speak to his mentor first prior to his team, as problematic as that was.
Eager to get your butt handed to you back at HQ, are you? Robin smirked and glanced down into the alley as the van turned in, satisfied at the huff Kid Flash let out. It was easier to avoid thoughts on Wayne Enterprises, his debate, and the dream when KF was around.
You better not hack the game when we play! I know you must have last time.
Sore loser, Robin sang in their heads, taking his eyes from the yellow suit and back onto his hologram.
You two can finish once we're done here, Aqualad thought. In the background, Megan chuckled mentally and Artemis thought, Cute.
Shut up! Kid Flash looked at the direction of the building, wishing he could glare it down or even use heat Superman's heat vision. He stole a glance up, only catching glimpses of Superboy's powerful shoulders but not Robin. He frowned, repressing the urge to think over why he felt something was off balanced, even if only by a shred, with his friend. It was a high possibility he was mistaken but his gut was good for something.
KF stopped hunting for Robin's form and rushed to the back. He smiled when their leader stepped out.
Robin, Superboy, Artemis. We're moving the packages inside now. Aqualad stayed still a moment before aiding the driver to the door, balancing two of the packages. Megan hoisted the rest with her mind and let them trail behind the driver as if haunted.
Robin watched from above, feeling Superboy's larger presence looming behind. With two taps and a slide, the Boy Wonder unlocked the doors as planned.
"So...you're not whelmed?" Superboy murmured, flicking his eyes to Robin.
After a short laugh via his nose, Robin replied, "Well, I'm not overwhelmed if that's what you're asking." He spared the taller boy a smile, offering what he could to encourage Superboy's understanding of the world around him.
He was rewarded with a deeper frown and a lost expression. "Could you be…underwhelmed?"
If it weren't for the mission, Robin may have thrown him a hearty laugh. "Let's stick to whelmed for n-"
Don't move! Artemis' thought preceded an arrow that soared past Robin's back. He whirled around, catching the girl steadying her arm before two more arrows tore loose. Something groaned, struck by one of her arrows.
An attack! Robin yelled in his head, securing the doors once the driver had entered the building with the packages. He put the program to sleep, hearing Superboy's charged cry pass over him as the boy leapt toward their attackers. He heard Megan voice as she took on the foes, the rush of KF's speed leaving the alleyway and Aqualad's weapons manifesting.
"I see three down here," KF called out from below.
Robin sprang over the roof's obstacles, tucking and rolling when he leapt from the ledge onto another rooftop. He flipped back in time when he saw a movement come at him. He had dodged a winding, black tentacle. He narrowed his eyes, seeing it was a weapon that retracted into a cloaked figure's sleeve. The person, hidden under layers of black face paint and a hood, ogled him. The person, male he guessed, was tall, draped by a black cloak that would compete with Batman's attire. He could barely make out any facial resemblance.
"Got another one up here," he shouted to the group, smirking and drawing out a trick batarang. He flung one, testing the reflexes of his foe.
The face-painted stranger jerked his arm and the whip tore out, smacking the device that was inches from his nose. It burst into green clouds that went for the exposed face. Robin snatched the opportunity to break out his collapsible bo-staff. He propelled forward. At the same time that his foe staggered back, plagued by a coughing fit, Robin leapt and brought the staff down.
The man's head snapped back, almost giving Robin a glimpse of the eyes beneath. A hand stretched out to deflect the blow and a sharp 'ping' hit Robin's ears; his opponent wore protective armor. Robin felt something akin to metal scraping on the figure's hand against his stadd. The man's other hand shot out, a second whip snaking out from the sleeve.
"Is that all you have to offer?" Robin laughed, bearing his weight onto his hands with ease. The whip hit empty air as he did a hand stand. The weapon was fast but he detect a 'click' before the weapon came out, giving him just the signal of when to move.
He flipped off, landing in a crouch. The whip snapped off from its owner like a tail cut off from a lizard. The man caught it in his palm where it stiffened.
Robin quirked an eyebrow at the staff the man now held. Straightening, he twirled his own staff. "Not the talkative type, I see. It's alright. I'm use to that."
He smiled as he charged forward, opting not to waste smoke bombs on his enemy. The man didn't meet him half way but instead, poised himself, using both hands to steady the staff in preparation for Robin's attack. The foe grunted as he met the first blow from the boy. He drew up his knee to strike Robin in the gut.
Very quick reflexes, Robin analyzed quietly. He heard Megan think an assent, allowing Robin to guess they other attackers had the same training.
Robin jumped so both his feet landed on the raised knee, letting him crouch like a gargoyle. He could feel the flex of muscles that lacked any protective wear. Robin's own staff trembled against the strength of his opponent's, both pushing against the other. "Copy cat," Robin said. Somewhere in the distance, he heard KF cry out followed by a crash. Superboy's bellows came and went throughout and more than once did he hear Aqualad emit electrcity.
The man's lips spread slightly and with a force Robin thought more appropriate Superboy, hoisted the staff up higher. Robin got off his knee and rode the gesture, using his staff to balance himself out so he could leap off and land behind the man again.
We need to regroup! Aqualad ordered in their heads. Form groups. Artemis and me. Kid Flash and Robin. Megan and Superboy.
"I'm not here for you, yet," the man said into Robin's ear from behind, suddenly much closer than he should have been.
Robin whipped around and gasped at the stranger's staff elongating, diving right at him. He groaned at the brunt force crushing his rib and he staggered back, his heels losing the ground beneath him.
"Whoa, there," he heard KF laugh beside him and Robin felt the rush of being pushed into at a rapid speed. KF held him under his back and knees, rushing them to safety before Robin could process being scooped up. "Can't have you falling off."
Robin focused through the dizziness and yelled, "He's heading to the building! KF, keep him busy."
He was rewarded a thumbs up and grin. Robin only glanced at him once, taking in the few scratches on the boy's face until KF sped off after the running stranger. Waking the computer again, Robin put aside what the man had said and concentrated on the devices KF had earlier planted on him.
KF, he thought, Get him to the northeast corner of this rooftop.
He looked ahead, seeing the blur of yellow and red obstruct the man's path. KF fibbed a weak attack and the man dodged, then hurried to the northeast side. With an inputted code, Robin waited until he saw the cloak vanish from the roof. Robin detonated the gadget, a flare of fire and debris catching the foe in mid height. The impact rammed into their enemy and chucked him into the murkey alley.
The grappling gun guided Robin down within seconds. He caught glimpses of his teammates and the foes they were handled, seeing them all match the attire the one he and KF manhandled. Theirs was already hoisting himself up but staggered and collapsed to the earth when KF landed a vicious elbow punch to the back.
"Ow," the speedster hissed, rubbing vigorously at his limb, "What's he wearing anyway?"
Robin smirked at the expression but lost it as he let go of the ground below him. He twirled, crushing his staff against the man's neck and smacking his heel into the back of his head. "We have to disarm him," he panted, riding out his adrenaline. He collapsed the staff and tucked it away while KF rushed around the fallen figure, patting him down.
We got ours, KF thought.
Don't need help. Artemis.
Superboy and me just got ours too!
"Oh, gross. Robin, look." KF glanced up, his eyebrows raising under his mask. He peeled back more of the stretched sleeve, exposing the black gloves and the tool that cradled the shape-shifting whip. At the wrist, a hook broke into the glove and flesh, spearing the weapon into the man's wrist. There were no fresh wounds from the impale.
"It's been there a while. What is this." Robin frowned and studied them closer. The material was powerful, capable of breaking bone should it pound hard enough into it, but also lightweight. "This is advanced."
"Did he say anything to you? The two I fought earlier barely grunted," KF explained, tugging back the hood. He curiously peered under the lids. "Wow. Really pretty blue eyes. They're kinda red on the iris though."
Robin took a glance, memorizing the characteristics within a second. "Not really," he said, staring down at what must have been a young face of no older than twenty with a bed of black hair. He found a couple of smoke bombs but nothing else to suggest an identity or threat.
Looking up to him, KF blinked. "So he did talk to you?"
Something speared over their heads and both boys tore away from the scene on instinct, looking up at the same time. Five daggers rained down where they had just been, collecting around the unconscious form.
"Idiots," Artemis called out, aiming again, "You're lucky I'm around to warn you."
"We were fine," KF snapped back, his voice trailing off as he noted the person poised on the edge of the roof. Draped in a similar cloak, this figure's face remained tucked under a black mask; it was engraved with deep loops, shaped like 'U's layering into each other.
"Who are you?" Robin called out, fingering his belt. No response returned. Despite that, Robin's skin prickled at the suspicion the person was boring into him from behind the safety of that mask.
Artemis reacted first, firing another arrow, this time directing it at the masked entity. They didn't strike out, only side stepped and jerked their hand out. Something small jumped from their gloved fingers and burst with a 'pop' into smoke halfway into its descent.
The smell instantly cued trouble. Don't breathe it! Robin thought as loudly as he could. He heard Superboy's outrage from afar, leaving the Boy Wonder to conclude that the others were in a similar predicament. He heard the 'pop' thrice more and felt validated.
KF shot toward him again, tackling him and Artemis to safety (much to her frustration). They rolled through the abandoned streets and landed in a pile, Robin squished between them both.
"KF," he moaned, grateful Artemis had the reflexes to leap off him, "You need to seriously practice those stops better."
"You're welcome." KF sat up and rubbed a smudge on his chin, groaning hard. "I think they got away."
Robin scanned the area, agreeing. He touched his glove and analyzed his systems. "Looks like they didn't take anything or even get close to trying to break in."
Snorting, Artemis looked at the building as she placed a hand on her hip. Her hair was spiked in places not typical for her and her bare arms wore more grime and scratches than Robin. "Fighting us like that. What's the point? They barely put effort into the packages and just left like that."
"Cowards." Superboy breathed heavily, stopping mere feet from them. He seemed deflated, as if furious he was unable to conjure up heat vision to burn holes in the ground. Robin took in his body language and figured the boy hadn't held up too well against the foes. If they were all as quick as the one he dealt with, no wonder Superboy looked like he did. Black Canary had illustrated how reckless Superboy's actions were compared to his teammates, especially in terms of agility.
Aqualad nodded to his team, snapping the handles of his weapons onto his back. He took in their state, satisfied no one looked broken. "Good work, team," he praised, "At the least, our mission was a success. We'll report once we get back. Everything good, Robin?"
"Yeah. We can let the driver out now. I don't see any problems," Robin replied, face stuck in his hologram.
Above them, Miss Martian hovered and landed gently on her feet. "I tried to chase them through the gas but I couldn't catch up. It was too thick," she mumbled, clasping her hands loosely in front of her.
"No worries. You did your best, I'm sure," KF offered, finally standing and cracking his neck.
"It's fine," Aqualad stated, stepping toward the now fume-less alley, "Do we have clues as to who they are?"
Robin felt a handful of eyes on him. He took some pride in his recollection of data, particularly on villains. It was also testament to his experiencing the darkness that manifested in humans and non-humans alike. It had opened his eyes to the tumultuous amounts of abuse that infected everyone, in some form or another. He was victim to it himself and he made it a point to stay on top of those responsible for poisoning the world. But now, he was at a lost.
"I didn't recognize them," Robin admitted, "I thought about the League of Shadows but it seems unlikely."
"A mask," Superboy said, coming up to Robin and watching the boy look through his files. "Weird symbol on it."
Miss Martian tilted her head and tapped at her temple. "I could read their thoughts. They weren't robots but, I'm sorry. They were very…focused, I guess. I couldn't pull anything useful."
"No. That's something. That means they're trained a certain way," Robin interjected, pulling forward an image. His own training was proof of that, another fact he had to refrain from sharing.
"What's that?" KF asked, peeking around Robin's other shoulder. "That looks like the…"
"It's the symbol on the guy's mask we saw," Robin clarified, tapping the image to enlarge it. "It's the Israeli symbol for their currency. I knew it was familiar."
"You've been to Israel?" Miss Martian asked, huddling closer into the group.
Robin chuckled, feeling the pressure aggravate what was surely a bruised rib. "Not yet."
Superboy frowned. "The one we saw had a different shape. It was like the, um, letter 'Y' with two lines across it."
"That sounds like the currency for, uh," KF watched the sky as if he were pulling down the answers, "Yen. That's it. That's weird though. What's up with that?"
"We'll work on it," Aqualad stood in front of them, "That's something for now though. Let's head back to headquarters and go from there. We can check the data on known villains as well."
They obeyed their leader's command. Safe and sound, the driver thanked them for their hard work and left first. The four of them who had arrived earlier (minus KF) took their respective motorcycles and Miss Martian had no qualms about flying Aqualad back with her. Prior to his leave, KF shot Robin an expression to quick for Robin to decipher. Robin categorized the manner as less important and mounted his motorcyle. He rode ahead of the three of them, uncomfortable over the silence that floated around them. Silence with Batman differed from the sudden gloom and suspicion that tagged behind them. He figured they all were occupied in their personal thoughts now, brooding or contemplating over what had transpired, probably growing more frustrated that they had no answers.
Robin was no different in that respect. He thought hard too, scanning the mental images and facts of villains he had some knowledge of but failing to pinpoint them to the foes that had befallen them. The trail diverged back to his nap and his inability to drag out any images like he could on the databases of the world's underbelly. The bike beneath him growled as he sped up, hoping to catch up to the answers he demanded. All the while, the cryptic comment leaked into him as clear yet quiet as the first time he heard them.
I'm not here for you yet.
Bah, first chapters. Thanks for reading if you pulled through it lol I'd like to know if the chapter length was good. I really love characters to drive the story, especially through dialogue so that can easily stretch the chapters.
So, keep going?