Title: Five Times Batman Proved an Unexpectedly Good Mentor
Author: Takebuo Ishimatsu
Summary: Title says it all.Different POVs. Written for a prompt in yj_anon_meme.
Disclaimer: Ido not own Young Justice.
AN: Wrote this before the episode with Artemis (yeah, I know, LONG time ago) so none of her in here. Might be a few other things that don't quite fit with current continuity for the new eps. And, yes, I totally stole the title from the prompt itself. ^_^0
5 times Batman proved an unexpectedly good mentor.
M'gann sighed and adverted her eyes, not wanting Robin to think she was enjoying the spectacle. Because, really, she wasn't. In fact, all of the "yelling" that the Dark Knight was doing, i.e., all of the scowling and growling and generally being a jerk, was starting to put her in a serious depression.
She wasn't too Robin-sided to deny that he deserved a nice, long lecture. He'd gotten a little careless and had managed to not only put the team in danger, but seriously injure himself. That said, she understood where Batman was coming from.
But, did he seriously have to be so...so...cruel when his own protege was lying in medical, likely unable to even comprehend the talking-down due to all of the painkillers in his system? Did he have to tell the young hero that he was not only grounded from Robin duties for an undecided amount of time, but also go into great detail over every little thing Robin had done wrong, how everything was his fault, and how he was so disappointed in him?
Weren't normal people suppose to feel relief when they realized those they cared about were going to make it out ok?
She supposed that was the problem. Batman wasn't normal, at least not according to what she'd gotten from his mind. She'd just barely grazed his outer mental shell and had been met with indescribable pain, anger and darkness.
How could Uncle J'onn even work with a man that felt as if he was one wrong wire away from exploding?
Exploding at the poor individuals that just happened to get in his way, just happened to do what he thought was "wrong" or "stupid" or any of those other words he'd muttered angrily to Robin in the past hour.
Unable to take the man's berating any longer, and knowing she had no power to stop him, she flew off down the hall towards her room.
Reaching her door, she angrily threw it open and flung herself on her bed.
She hated not being able to help Robin, one of her very few real friends, especially when she could feel his pain so clearly as if it was her own.
She sat up as a sudden idea came to her.
"Hello, Megan!" she said, smacking herself on the forehead.
Why hadn't she thought of it earlier?
She reached out her mind, calling for one of the few people that might be able to put Batman in his place.
"I feel great distress from you, my niece. What is it that causes you such pain?"
"It's Robin, Uncle J'onn! Batman is being terrible and-"
"I see what is in your mind's eye. Do not worry, everything is as it should be."
She frowned, "But Robin's pain-"
"Will soon subside. Trust me. Though I do not claim to know the man as well as some, I have worked with the Batman long enough to know his methods are harsh, but not intentionally harmful. Robin will be fine."
"But Uncle J'onn-"
"I must go, there is an emergency in India that requires my prescience."
And then he was gone from her mind. M'gann angrily smacked a hand against her bed.
So much for help!
FIRST BREAK FIRST BREAK FIRST BREAK FIRST BREAK FIRST BREAK FIRST BREAK
She smiled as she gently moved a stray lock of hair out of the Boy Wonder's closed eyes. Then silently giggled at how motherly she was being.
She doubted Robin would approve if he was conscious.
She frowned sadly at the thought. She knew that Robin had been forcing himself to stay awake as Batman ranted, only trying to please a man that couldn't be pleased. Once the detective had left, he'd finally drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
She jumped as the door started opening, quickly fading out of visibility before she was seen. Just in case it was...
She scowled at him, once again furious that he'd forbidden them all from visiting Robin while he was away. As if her friend required a chaperon!
Actually, jail keeper was more like it.
Crossing her arms, she glared at the Dark Knight and stuck her tongue out at him, feeling only slightly relieved by her own childish antics.
She watched as Batman reached out and shook Robin awake in a surprisingly gentle manner.
"Wha?" Robin mumbled groggily.
"You need to take this medicine. Then you can go back to sleep," Batman whispered.
"'Kay," Robin agreed, looking rather complacent with all of the drugs he was already on.
Batman stuck an arm around his shoulders and slowly lifted him up until he could drink properly. Robin reached out for the cup, but Batman shook his head and lifted it to his lips with one hand while still holding up him with the other. When Robin was done, Batman settled him back down into his pillows.
"Tell that story you know," Robin demanded.
M'gann's eyes widened the same time Batman's did. Her friend was on some good drugs, that was certain.
"You need to sleep," Batman replied sternly.
"I don't want to," Robin whined.
And then Batman did something M'gann wouldn't have thought possible if she hadn't seen it with her own two eyes.
He sat down next to the bed, and simply asked, "What story?"
"The one with the hippies," Robin replied, looking rather glassy-eyed.
"The hippies?" Batman deadpanned.
"No, I said the hippos," Robin said, giving him a pouty face.
"Even better," Batman responded, looking none too pleased with the request.
M'gann had to put a hand to her mouth to stop the giggle. Perhaps she was the oneon something good. No way was Batman actually agreeing to tell the boy he'd just gotten done verbally destroying a story about hippos. Or hippies.
...She was dreaming. That had to be it.
But, if it was a dream, it was rather detailed as she watched in amazement as Batman, the Dark Knight, lurker of shadows, boogyman of evil doers, world renowned Caped Crusader, so on and so forth, started off.
"There once was a hippo," Robin made a cute little noise of protest and Batman corrected, "...that was a hippie. He was on medication so strong, I could tell him a story about Superman's socks, and he wouldn't know the difference. Tomorrow, someone is going to adjust the hippo's drug intake to a less mind-numbing level, lest he accidentally give anything important away to his teammates while his friend his away. The end."
"Wow, that was good," Robin said, wide-eyed.
M'gann was fairly certain her lip was bleeding, she'd bitten it so hard as to not make a sound.
Maybe Uncle J'onn really had taken her request and had somehow messed with Batman's brain?
"Go to sleep," Batman ordered softly, gently moving his protege's hair out of the way in a mimic of M'gann's earlier move.
"You too, Miss Martian," Batman said over his shoulder, just loud enough for her to hear.
Her eyes widened, and she quickly followed him out the door as he was leaving, lest her sudden appearance or things seemingly moving on their own accord, upset the so-completely-out-of-it hero.
"How?" M'gann asked.
"You breath too loudly. Work on that."
"No, I mean, how..." she paused, wondering how to phrase it. Finally, she decided to just go for it. She was talking to the guy that had once called Superman an 'overgrown Smurf,' after all. Blunt and potentially rude was his preferred style.
"How can you be so mean to him one moment, then act like his adoring father the next?"
Batman turned to look at her, and she felt as if he was piercing her very soul, looking into it in order to find her worthiness. Or lack there of.
After a pause that seemed to last forever, he said, "He needs to know that he screwed up and that said screw up could have cost everyone their lives. He needs to know that that is unacceptable, and that next time there might not be a chance for me to scold him afterward.
"He is human. He is not like Superboy, who is nigh invincible, or Kid Flash, who is almost impossible to catch, or even you, who can turn yourself impenetrable when need be. If he makes one little mistake, he can be caught or he can be killed.
"I am angry at him, and he deserves to be yelled at. However," his voice got softer, far more gentle than the angry growl he'd just ended on, "That does not mean I hate him."
And then the Dark Knight was gone, melting into the shadows of the darkened hallway, leaving M'gann to ponder the odd relationship.
After a moment of staring at nothing while she drifted through her own thoughts, she smiled, realizing that that was Batman's convoluted way of saying he loved him.
The sound of something being hit.
The sound returned.
And then once more.
"Damn it! Stop giving me that look! I'm trying!"
Kaldur looked up from his stretches, glancing towards the far side of the room.
Across the way, Superboy was scowling at an unimpressed Batman, the clone's fists clenched by his sides and his entire body taut. Kaldur slowly stood up, knowing those were the tell-tale signs that the other young hero was about to lose his cool and do something they'd all regret.
"Are you? We've been doing this for over an hour and you've only gotten worse," Batman monotoned, keeping his gaze on his impact-meter, clearly not the least bit concerned with the other's fighting stance.
"Maybe that's because you're a bad teacher!"
Kaldur groaned and put a hand over his eyes, wondering if he even wanted to be around when Batman sent the other crashing to the ground in a fiery ball of flames. By words alone. After a moment's debate, he decided to stay, despite how intrusive he felt, just in case Superboy let his temper get the better of him. It wouldn't be the first time.
The Atlantian focused on the two again as Superboy continued, looking more and more peeved by the minute, "Don't look so smug! I've seen the way Robin fights versus the way you do. His technique is ten times more acrobatic than yours. No way you could have taught them all those moves. I doubt you even know half of them yourself!"
Batman causally crossed his arms, a slight smirk coming to his usually expressionless face, "So, you can think. I was beginning to worry that all you'd inherited from Superman was his mindless brutal intensity and his total disregard for one's own safety."
"Don't speak about Superman that way," Superboy warned, his eyes giving off just the barest of red sparks before disappearing. Aqualad blinked, wondering if his distance was causing him to see things that weren't there. Or maybe he'd been training too long and was starting to get hallucinations from lack of energy.
Batman snorted, "I speak to Superman that way. He doesn't do anything."
Though the Dark Knight didn't say anything more, his tone and condescending smirk spoke volumes as to what exactly he thought of the Boy Scout versus what he thought of himself. And then what he thought of Superman's clone.
Apparently Superboy heard those undertones loud and clear as he was suddenly charging towards the other, screaming, "You're not even close to his level!"
Batman calmly stepped out of the way, then again as Superboy rounded with a speed that Kaldur hadn't known he'd even possessed. The deadly dance continued for several minutes, the Dark Knight appearing to be playing with the other as he dodged but made no move to attack himself.
Finally, the older hero seemed to have gotten his exercise for the day, and he sidestepped again, only to trip the other and then round-house him in the back. Kaldur winced as the other boy was carried by his own powerful momentum into a nearby wall.
Scowling, Superboy picked himself up and looked ready to try again, when Batman held up a hand.
"You are correct. I'm not on Superman's level. In fact, without my suit, I wouldn't even be on the same scale."
Superboy blinked, giving Kaldur a confused look out of the corner of his eye. The Atlantian shrugged, though he thought he was vaguely beginning to understand the Dark Knight's point. He could think of only one reason that he'd give up on his "metas have nothing on me" attitude that both he and Robin shared.
"I don't understand," Superboy mumbled after several seconds of silence, seemingly unable to wrap his naïve brain around what was happening. Kaldur resisted the urge to smile at his innocence, not wanting the other to think he was laughing at him.
"Just because I do not have the same abilities as Superman, or even you, does not mean I must stop myself from being who I am around him. You can not control other people, nor can you make them shut up when you don't like what they're saying. People who use their powers in that way are called criminals."
Superboy clenched his fists again and snapped, "So I'm just suppose to accept whatever you want to say? Let you do whatever you want? What's the point of even having powers if I'm suppose to be so mild-mannered that they don't count?"
"That's where your control comes in. Even normal people must decide which battles they will fight, and then accept the consequences when they choose to engage. Someone like you must also pay attention to how you are fighting."
Batman looked at the clone for a moment, as if assessing the other and trying to find the right words to get through to him. He continued, "Robin isn't yet as good at dodging as I am, and, because of his differing style, he regularly chooses to wear lighter armor than I do. But he has been known to have the same mouth as his mentor."
Batman's smirk was almost proud, and Aqualad had the sudden image of Batman yelling at Superman while Robin snarked at Superboy in a nearby corner.
"You're saying, if I got angry and managed to hit him, he could be seriously injured," Superboy whispered, crossing his arms and looking away, as if he didn't want to face the truth.
"No," Batman responded, tossing the impact-measuring device towards the other. As Superboy caught it, he said, "That is killing strength for any normal human."
And then the Dark Knight was walking past Aqualad as he left the room, giving the Atlantian a knowing look.
Right, his turn to do some talking, then.
"Superboy, he doesn't say it to hurt you. If you lose your temper and kill, even if it's one of our enemies, you won't be able to stay a superhero. People only allow us to help so long as we follow the same rules that they must."
"I know! I'm not stupid!" he snapped, angry once more. Kaldur wasn't bothered by it, seeing behind the words to the fact that he was more angry with himself than either Batman or him.
"I just don't know how," he whispered, giving the punching bag he'd been working on a forlorn look. Even softer, most likely only meant for his own ears, he added, "I wish Superman was here."
Choosing to hear the statement, Kaldur gave him a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder, "So do I, my friend. So do I."
SECOND BREAK SECOND BREAK SECOND BREAK SECOND BREAK SECOND BREAK
The sound of crackling.
Kaldur winced and shifted before relaxing his posture again.
The sound returned.
He opened an eye and scowled at the culprit, who gave him a sheepish look in response.
A peacefully silent pause.
And then once more.
Kaldur sighed, "Wally, could you please not do that while we are trying to meditate?"
The redhead gave him a pout, "Dude, it only takes my body thirty minutes to digest a four-course meal. And we've been doing this for over an hour."
Kaldur resisted the urge to roll his eyes, deciding it was very unbecoming for the new leader of a potentially volatile group of young heroes to display childish antics. He had to constantly remind himself to be calm and reassuring, just like his King.
"I'm not saying you're not allowed to eat, just please pick something quieter."
"Like Megan's cookies?" Wally asked and Kaldur could tell he was gearing up to make a cookie run.
He quickly shook his head. As sweet as the girl was, her edible creations tended to be a bit on the crunchy side.
"How about soup? Or oatmeal?" he tried, hoping Wally didn't slurp.
"Never been too fond of oatmeal. How about pizza? Oh, man that sounds good. Do you guys want to order some? Or carry-out? I can be back in like-"
"Why are we doing this together, again? Batman only said I have to meditate," Superboy said, giving up the pretense of trying to concentrate.
"Because we are a team and we should engage in team-building exercises. Plus, we could all benefit from what meditation can do for oneself. Correct, Robin?" There was no answer from the boy and he tried again, "Robin?"
"Dude, I didn't want to say anything, since we're kinda having Happy Supey Time right now, but I think he stopped breathing like ten minutes ago."
Wally yelped as a quick punch landed on his arm, "Hey, what was that for?"
"You're ruining my concentration," Robin hissed, still in perfect meditation pose.
"Hey, now that you're back amongst the living, do you want some pizza? You're buying, of course."
Robin turned to give the other a Look, "Why do I always have to buy?"
"Deny it all you want, Boy Wonder, but we all know Bats must be super-rich to afford all of his little toys," Wally said, pointing a finger at the other.
"Maybe he has an anonymous donor that likes justice as much as he does," Robin snapped back, getting defensive as he did every time anyone mentioned something that was even remotely close to his secret.
"I'll pay!" Megan said suddenly, "But, I get to choose the toppings. I want bacon, olives, pineapple, anchovies..."
Kaldur drowned her out, internally tracing the conversation and wondering just when he'd lost control of the situation. So much for team leader.
"What's an anchovy?" Superboy whispered to him.
"It's a type of forage fish-" Kaldur began.
"Dude! Can you even eat anchovies? Isn't that like cannibalism?" Wally interrupted suddenly, green eyes wide.
Behind him, Robin was nodding for him to say yes, only to stop and look innocent when Megan turned to glance at him.
"Batman's coming," Superboy said suddenly.
Silence descended upon the room and they all quickly went back to their meditation, none of them willing to risk the consequences of doubting the other's hearing.
"Superboy, come with me," Kaldur heard Batman order as the door opened.
Silently, the clone made his way over to the man, and Kaldur opened his eyes just barely enough to see blue spandex before the door closed.
"I think that was Superman," he whispered to his comrades.
Almost instantly, Wally and Robin were snuggled up next to Megan, demanding to be told what was going on outside.
"I thought I was only suppose to read the bad guys' minds?"
"And our mentors' when they're not telling us stuff," Robin said quickly.
"I don't think that's right..." the girl trailed off, already looking defeated under the power of the youngest heroes' combined pouts.
Kaldur knew he should stop them, but, honestly, he was curious too.
Putting her hands to her temples in concentration, there was a tense pause before the Martian smiled.
"Batman's convinced Superman to take charge of Superboy's physical training and show him how to use his powers properly."
"'Convinced' my butt," Robin snorted, "More like blackmailed and threatened him into doing it!"
The boy sounded proud of his mentor, and, despite how the situation may have come about, Kaldur was kind of was too.
Robin stared at the ruined kitchen, his eyes like giants behind his shades. Beside him, the rest of his team were observing the wreckage with the sort of can't-look-away horror usually reserved for bad car accidents. And Superboy's unintentionally perverse comments.
...Well, ok, Dick kind of found those times funny, even if Black Canary had taken one look at the innocent clone and smacked him instead. Honestly, he had no idea where the clone had learned that word.
He blamed late night television. And Wally.
"What. Happened?" Bruce growled slowly, looking one second away from mass destruction.
"Uh, Miss M was cooking and, well..." Wally trailed off at the intense glare he received.
Dick didn't blame him. In fact, he was currently wondering if it wasn't too late to save himself by running home to Alfred.
"This is not 'cooking,'" Batman responded, turning to scowl Megan's way.
The Martian looked down at her feet, something which caused the acrobat to wince internally.
Bruce was going to have a field day with her if she already couldn't look him in the eye.
"It's not so bad," Dick tried, knowing it wouldn't do much good if Bruce was already dead-set on yelling at any (*cough*all*cough*) of them, but feeling it was his job as a friend to try anyway.
He shut his mouth at the Look he received, but didn't allow that to stop him from silently asking his adoptive father to please go easy on her. He gave him his best pouty face as extra incentive to be nice.
Bruce narrowed his eyes in response.
Right, pouty face had never worked too well on angry Bruce. Why did he always forget that?
"You will never enter another kitchen again, understood?" Batman ordered.
"But, how will we make food?" Megan asked softly, looking rather devastated.
Dick understood; cooking was her hobby. The one thing that seemed to make her truly happy, as lame as it sounded.
"How will we make food?" Superboy muttered, glancing around the charred room once more.
Dick winced at the clone's naïve rudeness. At least when he exhibited a colossal lack of manners, it was usually with the intent to do so.
The second thing Batman had taught him, right after, "Never leave the house without your utility belt."
Actually, if he stopped to think about it, those two might just be connected.
"We'll have your meals delivered from now on. An extra expense," Bruce glared at the Martian again, "but better than burning down all of Mount Justice."
Megan seemed to wilt even more.
"Robin," Batman said, starting towards the door. Dick followed behind silently after giving the girl a comforting look.
Once they were in the Batplane, Dick turned towards his mentor expectantly.
"So, now what? Are you going to show her how to cook fish over a fire or something ninja-y like that?" he asked curiously.
"One: I doubt Aqualad would appreciate that lesson. Two: She's a Martian. Three: I don't cook unless necessary. This is not necessary," Bruce said, not bothering to look at him.
Dick sighed, "Yeah, ok, so what about Superman? Or maybe Flash? You know that guy had to have learned to make something over the years with all he eats."
"I'm certain that two of the Justice League's founding members have nothing better to do than teach a hopeless girl how to create one of the few things that can kill her," Bruce mocked.
"She's not that bad," Dick said.
Bruce gave him a Look.
"Ok, she's that bad, but that's why she needs a teacher," Dick said, giving him a beseeching look.
"You can't just tell her she's horrible and leave it at that! Aren't you suppose to show her the right way now that you've told her she's doing it wrong?" Dick asked, half indignant and half genuinely curious.
As long as he'd known Bruce, that had been his method: berate your performance, then train the hell out of you to fix it. He'd always assumed Batman's training of others would follow the same pattern as his own.
"I am your master, you are my apprentice. Where did you get the impression that anyone else fit into that equation?" Bruce asked, giving him a "What are you on?" sort of look.
Which was really just his "You're kind of dumb, aren't you?" look, toned down as to not hurt his adopted son's feelings. Dick would say he felt special, if he hadn't thought there was something fundamentally wrong in that line of thinking.
"You helped Superboy," he pointed out, knowing the best way to deal with the Dark Knight was to give solid evidence right away to support your point.
Bruce sighed, "As much as it pains me to admit, there are few people in even the Justice League that are willing to tell Superman he's being an idiot and acting like a petty child. Someone had to force him to taking responsibility."
Dick sighed and looked out the window for a few minutes before an idea suddenly came to him.
"What about me? Alfred could teach me how to cook and I could teach her. You know, like a team leader would."
"You are not getting within a one-mile radius of that girl with a kitchen utensil. That's an order." Batman growled. Dick was sorry he'd even brought the subject up.
"Also, I was under the impression that Aqualad was the team leader? You made it quite clear that he is the one at which I should direct all of my scolding when something goes wrong," Bruce said, his voice semi-amused.
Dick shifted in his seat and looked down at his lap, muttering darkly, "You always yell at me anyway, at home."
"I heard that."
Dick quickly took out his arm-computer and was deeply, deeply engrossed in studying his Russian within seconds.
THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK
"Alfred! Alfred!" Dick hissed, hiding behind a large potted plant.
The butler looked around, startled, before catching sight of his young master waving frantically from behind the shrub.
"As much as I enjoy spy games as the next, Master Richard, I can assure you there is no need. Master Bruce left several hours ago."
"Oh," Dick muttered, slinking out from behind his secret location, rubbing his eyes tiredly.
Perhaps he should have gotten some coffee before initiating his plan.
Glancing at the clock on the far wall, which read 11:00, he asked, "Where'd he go so early?"
"I'm afraid Mr. Kent required his services quite urgently. Shall I make...lunch, Master Richard?" Alfred asked, slight amusement visible if you knew the man well enough.
"Um, actually, could I help?" Dick asked carefully.
A sense of dread drifted over him as he got into his scheme. Now that he knew Bruce had gone out early, he was doubly fearing that Bruce would be home any minute, even grumpier than usual due to his rude awakening. Then he'd ground Dick from Robin duties until he either died or grew taller, whichever came first.
...Wally'd been making fun of his height again. It made him a little self-conscious, truth be told.
"Whatever for?" Alfred asked.
"I," Dick paused to shift his gaze about the room, as if expecting Bruce to suddenly be lurking in one of the shadows. Really, it could happen. He whispered, "I need you to teach me how to cook so that I can teach one of my friends. Don't tell Bruce."
Alfred looked at him for a moment before simply turning and starting towards the kitchen, "Come along, Master Richard."
THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK THIRD BREAK AGAIN
"I don't get it, Alfred. I followed the directions exactly," Dick said with a frown, looking down at the recipe card in his hand.
"That's the problem," Dick tensed at the voice, not wanting to turn around, "An experienced cook learns over time that you need to adjust temperatures for certain ovens, change ingredients for special diners, add extras for a preferred flavor. It's not as simple as reading off of a card."
"Very well put, Master Bruce. I couldn't have said it better myself," Alfred said.
The older man walked over to Dick and gently took the old recipe from him, giving him a discrete "We're in trouble" look outside of Bruce's line of vision. Dick smiled at the other's refined playfulness.
"They're not bad," a second voice said, sounding slightly muffled by the cookie in his mouth.
Dick whipped around to see Superman standing there, in all of his blue-spandexed glory, looking rather out of place in the master kitchen. Bruce's Look told him that he wasn't impressed that he'd not known two people were there, and his eyes silently promised that they were going to be doing more sensory-deprivation training in the very near future.
Dick flushed and dropped his gaze.
Superman shrugged, "They're not Alfred-quality, but they don't taste any different than when I make them." He popped another one in his mouth.
"Are you mad?" Dick whispered, his eyes only for his mentor. He'd yell at Superman later, for devouring half his cookies.
"You disobeyed me," Bruce answered bluntly, crossing his arms. There was an awkward silence before he continued, "However, I knew you would, so I made some arrangements."
Dick blinked as Bruce nodded towards the Man of Steel, who dashed out of the area at super-speed and was back not a minute later. Dick's eyes widened at the item in his hand.
"Dude, an Easy-Bake Oven?" Dick asked, not quite believing his eyes.
"Start small," Bruce said, the slight upturning of his lips telling Dick that he was fully amused this time.
Dick smiled, taking the pink device from what many considered the world's greatest superhero. The whole situation was kind of whelming, in a 'turbing sort of way.
A frown came to his face as he asked suddenly, "I'm still grounded for disobeying you, aren't I?"
Bruce smirked. Superman ate another cookie.
And Dick wondered where is partner-in-crime had run off to.
Aqualad started reciting once more, "Robin has mastery in hacking, lock picking, acrobatics..."
Superboy drowned the other out, trying to pull his hearing back from the next room and just zero-in on what was in his nearby space. Just like Superman had told him.
He smiled briefly at the thought of the other "Super" while flipping another page in the comic that Wally had let him borrow. He still couldn't believe he actually had Superman as his own mentor.
Despite what he may have felt about the Dark Knight in the beginning, especially considering he'd started off their relationship by calling him an "it," he was grateful to the man. Both for what he'd done in regards to Superman, and how he'd taken the time to personally show him how to control himself.
He still let his anger get the better of him at times, but he was certainly not as bad as before.
And so, he tried not to actively find the other's teaching methods annoying or stupid. If Batman thought the Atlantian had to be able to recall all of their abilities within a split second, Superboy figured there was a good reason for it. Besides annoying the crap out of anyone with super-hearing.
"...French, Spanish and minimal Russian," he heard Kaldur finish.
"Good. Now, list his weaknesses."
Superboy unconsciously tilted his head like Superman had shown him. (He'd said it was polite to let others know that you were actually listening to something important and not just ignoring them like Batman did.)
"I'm not certain I'm comfortable doing that," Kaldur said honestly.
"Because I'm his mentor?"
"Partially, and because I'm not entirely certain others aren't listening in at this moment."
Superboy blinked, wondering how in the world Kaldur could possibly know that he was paying the two any mind. Or was he just assuming, based on his proven knowledge of their powers?
Superboy vaguely wondered if the point of the teachings was to make Aqualad just as paranoid as Batman was. He'd run the idea by the man's protege later.
"If Robin can't accept his own faults, he'll never improve on them. And, if his teammates don't know them yet, they've not been paying proper attention."
Kaldur sighed, "Very well. Robin's...rash, but not in the way that Wally is. He's just too used to working with someone of a higher skill level than him, specifically in a partnership in which both parties know their duties and don't need to communicate as much. He sometimes darts ahead, wrongly believing that we will know to follow. He can also be a little immature at times," Kaldur finished in a gentle voice, and Superboy could just imagine him with his understanding smile in place.
"Physically?" Batman asked, not commenting on the other's assessment.
"He's a midget," Superboy scoffed quietly to himself, going back to reading. He was only vaguely listening to the conversation as he turned the page again.
"Obviously, he's completely human and has all of the disadvantages that come with that. He's also small, even for his age. Which is good for slipping in and out of places, but doesn't enable him to put as much power behind his strikes as someone with more weight. He..."
Superboy pushed the other from his thoughts, zooming his focus down to just his room. He then completely lost track of the conversation as he flipped the page and saw two men kissing.
Was that normal? Why would they even bother if they knew they couldn't produce children? Superboy's eyes widened as a sudden thought came to him.
Perhaps they'd never had procreation properly explained to them, and they didn't realize two of the same gender couldn't breed together? How ignorant!
He tilted his head curiously, contemplating the problem more thoroughly.
If two males tried to have sex, where would they put their penises? His eyes widened again as his thoughts jumped and wondered whether two females had ever tried to reproduce together. Then there'd be no penis in the equation at all! What would they even do?
He made a mental note to speak with Superman about it next time he visited.
FOURTH BREAK FOURTH BREAK FOURTH BREAK FOURTH BREAK FOURTH BREAK
Superboy pretended not to be observing as Kaldur held out an injured Wally to his uncle.
"I'm so sorry," the Atlantian whispered.
For once, Flash didn't have anything to say as he took the redhead. They all winced as Wally made a pained noise of protest.
"Shhhh, it's ok. Uncle B's here for you," he murmured, which seemed to relax the semi-conscious hero. Superboy doubted he was awake enough to even understand the words.
The clone glanced towards his comrades as Flash began walking the other down towards medical at a speed that would have even made normal people look like snails.
Megan looked to be communicating with her uncle telepathically, and Robin was, of all things, tucked up underneath Batman's cape, as if he really was a little bird under his father's wing. Despite the situation, Superboy had to resist the urge to smile at the "cuteness." (As Megan had told him such sights were called.)
"Batman, I'm sorry. I-" Kaldur started.
"Robin explained what happened while you were on your way over here," Batman interrupted.
"I see," Kaldur whispered, looking even more down. He didn't appear to be able to meet the other's gaze.
"It wasn't his fault," Superboy snapped, hating that all of the blame was falling on the other, even if he was team leader.
"No, it wasn't," Batman agreed, surprisingly.
Aqualad looked up, uncertainty in his gaze, and Batman continued, "All members of the Justice League are fully trained individuals, lead by Superman himself. And we are still injured from time to time."
With that, the Dark Knight seemed to have said his piece as he swept out of the room, his masked chick gliding alongside.
Superboy slowly walked over to the other, trying to figure out what was appropriate to say in such a situation.
"If even Superman can't stop all the bad guys, how can you expect to be able to?" he asked finally, feeling as if he could say more, but not wanting to accidentally mess it up by doing one of his "Cloney Things."
"I can't," Kaldur said before a small smile formed on his face, "I believe that is Batman's way of saying 'shit happens,' if you'll excuse my language."
"Group hug!" Megan demanded suddenly, attaching herself to the both of them before they could protest.
"Is it just me, or doesn't this make everyone feel better?" Megan asked sweetly.
"It's just you," Superboy answered bluntly.
He didn't understand why Megan punched him in the arm, but Kaldur actually chuckled a little, so he figured it wasn't such a bad thing.
His heart almost stopped as thought came to him.
What if more than one person tried to reproduce together?
Bruce resisted the urge to sigh as he caught the sound of a sniffle to his right.
Just as he'd feared, the boy wasn't taking it well.
He silently made his way into the back of the storage room, careful not to let the other catch sight of him lest he dart off. It'd already taken the World's Greatest Detective over twenty minutes to track him down the first time.
"You're going to have to do better than this," he said softly as he crouched down just behind the speedster.
The redhead froze, but didn't turn around to look at him.
"What do you mean?"
"If you're planning on hiding from Robin all day, I suggest you find a new spot. I discovered you in less than half an hour. I estimate he'll be here in fifty minutes."
"I'll just speed past him before he can catch me," he answered, his voice heavy with tears.
Deciding not to comment on that, Bruce said instead, "Black Canary tells me you missed training."
"I didn't feel like going," Wally said, trying to sound tough.
"So you already believe yourself above her level?" Bruce asked, trying to goad the other into saying more.
"I didn't say that!" Wally quickly answered, trying to defend himself. His voice got softer as he continued, "I just...I-I didn't want to go. I don't feel good."
Bruce wondered if he was lying with his last statement, or if he meant it literally, but in an emotional context. He sighed internally, thankful that he'd never have to deal with such things when it came to Dick. His protege knew that he expected precise self-diagnosis, rather than the bland "I'm sick" line.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Bruce meanwhile pretending not to notice his sniffles or the way he kept wiping "dust" out of his eyes, and Wally pretending not to know that he was pretending.
"Some of us feel loss more strongly than others," Bruce finally whispered, shifting to get out of his crouched stance.
There was a pause in which Wally appeared to be debating whether or not he should ignore him, before the boy answered pitifully, "He was just a stupid dog."
"Not to you," Bruce said, giving the other a gentle squeeze on the shoulder.
He walked out of the storage closet and didn't look back when he heard soft footsteps behind him.
But he did lift up his cape and silently invite the other to hide under it, an invitation the boy took after a moment's hesitation. He dropped the material back down to half-cover the other while he wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
He'd been informed by a trusted source that such things made certain individuals feel more secure.
Perhaps he needed to work more on the "Dark" part of his title.
Clark's knowing smirks were beginning to be just too much.
AN: Well, what'd ya think? BTW, fire is notorious for being one of the few things that can really hurt a Martian, in case you're confused by that part. Also, the unnamed dog at the end isn't actually in canon & I just made that part up for the fic. (As far as I know, anyway.)