Disclaimer: I don't own Young Justice or any of its characters.
One of the first things he knew about Batman was that he was a leader.
His presence commanded respect and if that did not convince anyone, his fiercely temperature-dropping glance (dubbed the Bat-Glare by Robin and Wally) was enough to bring any strong willed man to his knees with one look.
He was the unattainable goal that they all wanted to reach. When he gave orders, he expected them to be followed and obeyed without question and done to perfection. Anything less was unsatisfactory. More often than not, they were exhausted and irritable by his mind boggling high standards.
Which of course led Batman to insist that he worked best alone, that he didn't need others, that they were simply a distraction and a nuisance.
His interactions with them (Robin in particular) and the other Justice League members (there was a tinge of jealousy in his chest that Batman was able to bring out a smile from Superman) proved otherwise.
Another thing he found out about Batman was that he was a hard trainer.
He was stricter than Black Canary, quick to criticize and slow to praise. Even if there was a (slight) improvement, he would only say "not good enough" or "once more".
Only Robin was able to keep up, being his usual cheerful and bouncy self. And despite Batman drilling and pushing him harder than the others, he kept his optimism and did everything that Batman told him do. If his mentor told him to jump to the moon, he would find a way to do it right then and there.
And since Superman gave him up for Batman to train, Superboy admitted that he wasn't very cooperative and it led to him and Batman clashing.
" You're still putting too much strength on your landing," Batman had sternly pointed out, ignoring his scowls that this was the hundredth time he had done this routine and how sick he was of doing this again and again and how the rest of the team fidgeted anxiously from the sidelines. " Even out your energy. You aren't using the rest of your body to accommodate."
" I'm working in it!" he snapped.
" Not enough," Batman coolly retorted. " Again."
There were times he just wanted to yell and hit something to release his frustrations. And there were times when he actually did. Batman took none of his nonsense and waited until he calmed down before continuing again. He handed out strict discipline if he ever got too far out of line and a severe warning if he tried to do it again.
But Batman never gave up on him, drilling training and discipline into his head. He kept an eye out for Superboy, made sure that he knew right from wrong and supported him even when some didn't. To his surprise, Batman's training did help and slowly but surely, his landing was improving and he wasn't wasting as much of his strength.
And eventually, he worked just as hard to gain Batman's approval as well as Superman's.
Superboy sighed, shaking sweat from his head, wincing at sore muscles. It was late into the evening and everyone was waiting on him to finish. But Batman wasn't done with him and he stood, arms crossed, unrelenting.
He leaped, carrying the weights across his shoulders and let gravity to do its job. His muscles moaned and tensed but he refused to let them rebel like before, bending and locking his knees in place. He leaned forward slightly, curving his shoulders back, pushing his strength to spread throughout his body. He descended down, holding his breath as he touched lightly back to the floor with only a slight creak from the boards.
Wally whistled. Megan was clapping. Robin was grinning ear to ear while Kaldur gave an encouraging nod and Artemis smiled. With a feeling of exhilaration, he spun towards Batman, waiting for his evaluation.
Batman's mouth was quirked up in the tiniest smile.
" Better," he finally said.
Superboy felt as if he could fly.
Batman was notoriously anti-social.
He would rarely eat at the mess hall and he was barely seen other than giving them their missions or being given reports after the missions. He spent most of time either in the Batcave or at the Justice League Watchtower, scanning the various screens and typing away on keyboards.
There were only two people that he would be seen with, if he was seen with anyone at all. Robin, for obviously reasons. And Superman, much to Superboy's curiosity (and once again, jealousy that Batman was so easily able to interact with the one person he couldn't).
However, someone that Batman would not have minded interacting with that he would never have belived, if he did not see it with his own eyes.
" Who's that?" Artemis incredulously demanded as she saw Batman and Robin arrive through the transporter, with a toddler babbling happily in Batman's arms.
" A baby. Duh," Robin snickered.
" His father Jack Drake is wanted by Two-Face," Batman explained, shifting the scrambling, fussy toddler up to his shoulder. " To protect him and his family, Commissioner Gordon has already hidden Drake and his wife in a safe location."
" Why is his son here?" Kaldur asked, adding the silent with you to the end of his question.
" While transporting Drake, Two-Face attempted to ambush him and in the resulting confusion, we were separated. I spoke with Gordon and we decided it would be better if Tim was with us." As if to agree, Tim let out a giggling squeal, delighting in and sucking his new toy which happened to be Batman's cape.
The look on Batman's face dared any of them to disagree with him.
(and suspiciously, Tim appeared to be throwing him a smug look as well)
The saying (according to Robin, at least) that smart people played chess was undoubtedly true when Superboy had the opportunity to see Batman play it.
On this day, it was dragging considerably. After a whole morning of training and no missions coming in, there was nothing for them to do but lounge in the recreation hall. Until Robin found a chessboard and promptly challenged his mentor, who happened to be fiddling almost in a bored manner with the buttons in the controls room, to a game.
" Come on. It will be fun," he prodded. " And the others can help too."
Batman humphed. " As long as there is no mind reading," he said, glancing at Megan who nervously smiled.
It was intriguing to see a game like this. Both Batman and Robin knew each other well enough to predict the other's moves, but Robin was unpredictable, purposely throwing random and odd moves while Batman matched his seeming carelessness point for point.
An hour and forty-five minutes into the game and a black queen had Robin cornered in a tight spot.
Robin, you should move the castle to E-
No! Not that! His queen will take it and then he will get my queen.
What about your bishop to the far right?
That's not good either. Because Batman's rook got it covered.
Then what if you move your knight to -?
" Knight to H3."
Robin, Megan and Wally jerked their heads up, surprised that Superboy had already moved the knight to glare down on Batman's queen.
A brief smile graced Batman's features. After all, a certain someone had taught them that often, the best defense was the best offense.
It was a fact that Batman was a cold-hearted man who cared little for his teammates.
The night where Hawkgirl and Red Tornado were investigating some suspicious activity turned out to be something more serious (all Superboy catch was something about Ra's something) and Batman being the closest to the location was called in for backup proved the opposite.
He arrived to Mount Justice instead of the Watchtower, stating that it would be easier to bring them here. He arrived, carrying Hawkgirl in his arms and Red Tornado (to their horror) was in separate broken pieces in the Bat plane. Green Lanturn hurried to gather Red Tornado's broken parts while Flash took Hawkgirl and rushed her off to the infirmatory.
As Superboy and Megan stood agape and quite lost in the ensuing chaos and turmoil, he found himself watching Batman, barking out orders and reporting to J'onzz. A slight movement from Batman and he was stunned to see a nasty cut near his ribcage, slicing through kelvar. Blood seeped through, staining his armor a brownish tint. The injury must have pentrated deep enough to crack some ribs because Conner could hear how they cracked and grinded on the lungs and each other.
J'onzz noticed as well. " Batman, you are - "
A rustle of his cape and his wound was gone from view. " Hawkgirl and Red Tornado takes priority," he coolly said, walking away as if it was nothing.
Despite what he had seen Batman do (no human should be able to appear right behind him without him hearing even the tiniest sound of a heart beat; it was just too unnatural), Batman was human, just like Robin.
Superboy was just leaving the training room when he caught the voices of Green Lantern and Wonder Woman and Robin's outside the room. It was rare that those without sidekicks or partners would come to Mount Justice.
Particularly interacting with Batman's protege without Batman himself.
He had learned it was rude to eavesdrop, similar to how Megan first used her telepathy on them. But if his lessons with Black Canary taught him, there was something not right with the way Green Lantern was hesitating and Wonder Woman sighing so much and Robin's voice was growing angrier and louder with each passing second.
" - not true! He wouldn't - "
" - an ambush, son. There was -"
" Where is - ?"
" - unconscious - "
" Wait! Robin!"
He could hear Robin's furious steps harshly against the floor, speeding away even as Wonder Woman called after him. Curious, he followed Robin, listening to his winding and chaotic gait, unlike his usual cool and light stride.
The whish of Robin's black cape led him into the infirmary, a place that he, along with the rest of Young Justice, was familiar with. Careful to keep a safe distance, he heard Robin moving so quietly that he could barely catch it.
A sudden stop, boots scuffing the floor. Skin stretching taunt and knuckles hissing in tension. Teeth grating against each other. A soft, defeated sigh. Shoulder muscles relaxing and slagging. Then, a creak of a chair dragging along the floor.
At last, his curiosity won out and Superboy peered into the doorway. He spotted Robin sitting next to none other than Batman.
To his surprise, Batman was frightfully still, his haggard breath rattling inside his chest and hissing in the mechanical ventilator that pumped oxygen into his shuddering lungs. Thick white bandages covered much of his torso and to the very tips of his fingers that Robin ever so gently held.
He never thought he would see Batman look so ... vulnerable.
Originally, Batman did not want them go to this mission. It wasn't until Red Tornado accidentally mentioned it that they realized Batman had a mission available for them but decided not to give it to them. Seething with irritation and a festering need to prove Batman that they weren't children and could handle any mission, they hacked into the computers and found the location themselves.
They eventually found out why Batman didn't want them to take the mission.
" I feel like Christmas has come early!" the Joker crowed out, giggling happily to himself. How the madman managed to knock them all out, then chained them all up like dogs and found the kryptonite that brought Superboy down to his knees was anyone's guess.
" I mean, I had just come here for a little surprise for Bats and guess who decided to pay their Uncle Joker a visit instead?" He gave Robin an "affectionate" pinch to the cheek. " So Boy Wonder, to business! Where is ol' Batsy anyways?" Joker cheerfully asked, now grabbing a fistful of Robin's hair, delighting in his hiss of pain.
" Wouldn't tell you even if I knew," Robin snarled.
He made a sound like a game show buzzer. " Wrong answer, kiddo!"
Robin went down with a choked scream, clutching his leg. Somewhere to his right, Megan gasped and Wally was furiously yelling every obscenity he knew. Artemis gritted her teeth so hard he could hear them grinding against each other. Kaldur's face was contorted in visible rage and helplessness. Superboy could see Robin's blood hitting the floor, spreading in a dark pool around his leg, his body curling in on itself and the futile attempts of his blood-stained hands trying to stem the flow. And at the moment, that was all Superboy could see.
" You sick twisted - !"
" - over here and I'll rip out your - "
The man wasn't even paying attention to them. Smiling cheerily, he knelt down next to Robin. " Poor baby bird. Got your wing clipped, huh?" His smile widened as he patted Robin's cheek, jerking his head savagely upwards to meet him eye to eye. " Did it prod your memory yet?"
Through gritted teeth, Robin managed to throw a defiant smirk. " Not one bit."
The Joker sighed longingly. " Have it your way then."
They all watched in horror as he placed the gun to the side of Robin's face, the tip of the gun pointing directly at Robin's left ear - Wally was still shouting - he wasn't sure if he was screaming too - Robin was gazing too calmly at the man who was about to blow his ear off - and his finger was already pulling the trigger -
Something whipped through the air that second and the Joker dropped his gun with a pained grunt, a batarang embedded near the crate next to Robin. Within the next few seconds, more batarangs shot through the air, freeing the manacles and the kryptonite ray machine that held the team hostage.
A horribly huge grin split the Joker's face, as he collectedly watched as Megan and Wally knelt next to Robin and Kaldur, Artemis and Superboy positioning themselves around Robin, their rage about to be unleashed, ready to tear him to pieces. " Always got to make a dynamic entry, don't you, Batsy?" he chuckled.
The next second, before any of them realized, he was thrown halfway across the room, crashing in a tumble into his surprised henchmen and crates.
And there Batman was, standing before them as if he was there all along. There was a dark, intimidating aura pulsed through him, his cape trembling and rustling like some sort of demonic being rising from the hellish depths.
This was not the Batman they knew, Superboy realized, feeling very small. This was a vengeful beast who had found his protege injured and tortured by an enemy and now has had enough.
" Batman?" Kaldur cautiously took a step forward.
" Go to the ship," he curtly said. His voice was frightfully calm. " I'll meet you there."
" But -"
Batman turned his head a slight inch towards their direction, his glare silencing Artemis. " Now," he growled out, the tone leaving no room for debate.
They scrambled to obey, Kaldur taking Robin gently in his arms and sprinting away to the closest exit they could find. Even as they were nearing the exit, Superboy didn't need to turn around to hear the yelling, crushing and crashing sounds of a beatdown by an unforgiving father.
Kaldur immediately brought the semi-conscious Robin just outside the ship, ripping part of his shirt to help stop the blood and urged the others to do the same. Superboy could hear them speaking hurriedly and fearfully to each other, rushing to help Robin in any way, whispering assurances.
" He came, didn't he?" Robin weakly said as Megan gently wiped sweat off his forehead. He gave a choked chuckle mixed with amusement and pain. " Oh boy. He's going to kill me after this ..."
The anger that had been boiling up throughout the ordeal was slowly subsiding as he could hear that someone finishing the job for him. A particular brutal and vicious one, he noted with satisfaction.
Finally, the one-sided battle slowly diminished and from the darkness of the warehouse, a low hiss rose up from inside. It was too soft for Superboy to hear exactly what was being said, but the underlying threat and warning of Batman's voice was enough to bring a shiver down his spine.
There was the sound of a fist meeting contact, another thud and a muffled groan echoed before silence. The tension that had settled in his shoulders eased and Superboy could breath again. Then Batman appeared at the exit, dragging an unconscious and bound Joker (to Superboy's disgust, with a satisfied smile plastered on his twisted face) out by the leg. He was still alive if the beating of his heart indicated anything.
He made his way to Robin. " Think you can make it back to base?" he asked, a break in his normally emotionless facade as his voice wavered slightly in concern.
Robin smiled faintly. " Who do you take me for?" he joked, flinching as Artemis tightened the stained cloth tied around his wound. Batman gave a quick nod before heading back to the warehouse to collect the rest of the groaning and defeated henchmen.
Another thing about Batman. Despite knowing his "son" was fully capable of taking care of himself, he would not hesitate to enter the fray on behalf of any idiot who dared cross the line.
Batman kept too many secrets from them.
It was after their latest mission of collecting certain data from a company working for Cadmus and as Robin was downloading it into his computer, they all caught the few words that made Superboy's heart almost stop.
So here he was, storming back into Mount Justice, shouting for Batman, leaving his frantic teammates behind as he raced down the hallways. Questions fluttered through his head like pounding drums. Did Batman knew? Every time they trained together? Every time he looked at Superboy? That he was in fact also his clone?
His hearing caught Batman's voice in the training room and he angrily made his way there. Ripping open the door, sending somewhere behind him, barely taking note of someone (sounded suspiciously like an annoyed Flash) cursing about flying doors, all Superboy could see was the person he was waiting to unleash his anger on.
" BATMAN! I NEED TO TALK TO Y- "
Suddenly, he skidded to a stop, his rage ebbing away when he realized just who was standing next to Batman (whose only reaction to his outburst was to slightly raise his eyebrows).
Superman. Who was gazing down at him with a disapproving frown.
A dark flush burned his cheeks. " I - err - want to talk to Batman," he mumbled to his shoes.
" I figured as much," Batman wryly said. He wished the ground could just swallow him up.
There was a scramble of footsteps and Robin's breathless voice shouted out. " Wait, Superboy! Don't do anything stupid - oh, you already did." He and the rest of the team skidded to a stop, eyes flickering apprehensively from Superboy to Batman and Superman.
" I assume that the mission went well?" Batman asked, turning to the team. But his gaze was specifically on Robin.
Robin glanced at Superboy before replying. " Well, sorta. I mean, we got the data but um -"
" I was mentioned there," he interrupted and this time, Batman looked at him. " And so were you." He once again stared at his boots, wondering how much more he said out loud, especially with Superman and the others here. Batman gave him a slight nod to continue. " About ... me having your DNA as well as Superman's."
" What?" Superman's incredulous tone made him want to look anywhere but at his other father. " But that is - it can't be - "
Batman was quiet. And Superboy's heart was, for some reason, racing. The others were glancing between him and Batman. Superman was pressing his lips into a frown, a trait that he had come to associate with uncertainty and frustration.
" Report to the laboratory for a blood test," he finally said and Superboy wondered if everything was now changed.
That night, Batman and Superman disappeared, though Superman was kind enough to leave Green Arrow a message that they went out on patrol.
Some time later in the early morning, they came back. Naturally, no one really asked about why Superman's cape was singed at the edges or why Batman was favoring his right side.
Of course, by late morning, everyone had already heard the news reports about how a few laboratories that used to be carefully hidden from the public's eye were now destroyed and all its files deleted and erased from all computers (what's left of it anyways). Along with what happened to be suspicious genetic banks.
And by the end of the day, everyone knew that Superboy was created using Batman's DNA, mixing it with Superman and thus, he was born. Some watched him as he passed by, whispering in hushed voices, pointing and frowning. Young Justice was quick to leap to his defense and call out anyone who gave him a hard time. Even Black Canary and Red Tornado glared at Green Lanturn when he casually made a comment about all the Superbats that would be running around.
While the support from his teammates and mentors eased his misery, the lonely ache in his chest still hurt. He had not spoken to either Batman or Superman. And neither of them made an effort to find him.
Would Batman now reject him? Like Superman had? Would he lose the closest person he had to a father figure?
He was almost hesitant to enter the training room the next morning, where they were scheduled for another training session with Batman. Carefully, Superboy peered into the doorway. The others were not there yet. The one person he didn't want to see was already there.
" Superboy," Batman greeted, not looking up from the computers he was at. Biting his lip, he approached Batman, not sure what to say or how to react. He didn't sense any hostility or awkwardness from the Dark Knight like he normally felt from Superman. But that did not mean that Batman did not know how to conceal his emotions carefully.
Fortunately for him, Batman looked up from the computers and directly at him. " This changes nothing," he said, stating it in his calm voice, brushing all of Superboy's worries and fears with that one sentence. " And I think it is time that you and I speak with Superman about your - our situation."
He nervously scuffed the heel of his boots, hearing the leather protest under his abuse. " But Superman - he's not happy with this - with me."
Batman's eyes bore into his. " Nevertheless, this is something that should have been done a long time ago. Should Superman prove unwilling to talk - " A brief smile appeared. " - I have my ways to convince him otherwise."
Feeling the weight being lifted from his chest, Superboy returned a smile.
Things, from the looks of it, were going to be fine.
" So Superboy, who's the dad and mom?" Wally grinned hugely while they were relaxing in the living room.
Robin giggled. He stared. " What do you mean?"
" You know. Who acts more like the mom or the dad? Superman or Batman?"
Superboy averted his eyes, feeling embarrassed. " I - I don't know."
" Come on. You gotta know," he prompted.
" Why are you making such a big deal out of it?" Artemis glared at Wally. Kaldur patted Superboy sympathetically on the shoulder.
" Can't a guy ask a question? Sheesh." Something lit up in his eyes. " I bet it's Superman! Didn't you see him flatten Luthor with one punch when he kidnapped us?"
Robin laughed louder. " Nah. Batman is the dad. He gave us the whole lecture for destroying property that one mission. Not to mention the 'grounding' afterwards."
" But Batman fusses over us," Megan pointed out. " I believe he is being 'motherly' towards us."
" Then again, Superman takes orders from Batman." Wally looked like he was enjoying himself too much. " Clearly Batman is wearing the pants in the relationship."
There was a slight pause. " Batman is so going to kill you," Robin rolled his eyes.
The idea that Conner was created from both Superman and Batman's DNA was inspired by Mithen's Paternity fic on livejournal.
Seriously, I love this version of Batman. It's refreshing to see a fatherly and supportive Batman. Particularly his interactions with Robin. And there was hints of this towards Superboy as well. I just decided to take it and run with it.