Disclaimer: I don't own them. I'm not making money from them.
1: Black Canary
Black Canary holds him behind after training. He motions Dick on ahead when it looks like he's going to stay, too. Conner has a pretty good idea of what's coming – he's been expecting it since their relationship became known – and he doesn't want Dick to hear it. Dick tends to get upset when people don't talk to or treat Conner with the respect Dick thinks he deserves, or when they make references to his less than auspicious beginnings.
Black Canary has always treated him fairly, though. Sure, she was leery of him at first, but given his attitude back then, Conner thinks that was only smart on her part.
She watches Dick leave with her arms crossed under her chest, and waits for the door to close before turning to Conner. "You do realize you're going to have to work on controlling yourself even harder now. You've improved phenomenally in the last three years, but you can still forget yourself in the heat of the moment. With M'gann and Kaldur, it didn't matter quite so much – they were more than able to handle just about anything you would do accidentally. Robin, though, is a normal human."
Conner manages to not snort out loud at the thought of anyone considering Dick a 'normal' human. Instead, he simply nods his head, because she's right and the last thing he wants to do is hurt Dick. "I know."
She solemnly returns his nod, "We'll work out a schedule for extra one-on-one training after I talk to J'onn. I think it might not be a bad idea to see if he has any more meditation techniques that might help you."
"Just let me know when," he replies. And then, because he is serious about this, he adds, "You should probably ask Batman for his advice, too. At least so far, his techniques have been the most helpful for me."
Black Canary looks more proud than surprised by his suggestions. She smiles at him, then reaches out and ruffles his hair on her way to the door. "I'll do that."
After she leaves, Conner releases a huge sigh. That's one down…
"What are you thinking? Are you even thinking? A relationship with Robin of all people? Do you have any idea what Batman's going to do to you when he finds out? What he'll do to me?"
Dick's giving Superman the best version of the Batglare that Conner has ever seen him produce. Superman, however, is too tied up in his angsting to realize it. Dick opens his mouth, no doubt to rip the older hero apart – Conner hadn't know just how dangerous a weapon words could be until he'd spent time with the Batman and Robin – and Conner squeezes his hand, shaking his head when Dick glances at him. This is something Conner needs to do for himself. It's something he's needed to do for a long time.
"Honestly, I don't see how my relationships concern you at all."
That brings Superman up short. He stares at Conner incredulously for several moments, as if he can't believe Conner could be so thick. Conner doesn't really think he's the one being stupid.
"You're Superboy. Of course your relationship concerns me."
"You haven't bothered to be concerned about me since you found out I existed. The only reason you're butting your head into my life now is because you're afraid that for some reason Batman is going to blame you for me and Dick getting together." Superman tries to protest, but Conner continues talking over him, not bothering to listen to even more of his excuses. "Let me reassure you. He won't. Trust me, Batman is very aware of just how little you are to blame for any of my actions. In fact, I know that he even stopped bothering to blame you for not being to blame for my actions years ago," Conner knows this because he himself asked Batman to stop. He didn't want Superman being forced or guilted into helping him. If he wouldn't train him, couldn't even spend time with him, of his own free will, Conner didn't want his time at all.
"You have nothing to worry about." With that, Conner turns and, still holding Dick's hand, makes his way out of the room. He can't keep from blushing at the proud, beaming smile Dick shoots him.
When Dick uses their joined hands to pull him closer, throwing an arm around his shoulders and kissing him tenderly on the forehead, he suspects his face darkens to the point of matching the Flash's costume. But he can't keep from answering Dick's smile with one of his own – smaller, but no less genuine.
"I know you didn't mean to, Conner, but you hurt me… a lot… during our… time together."
Conner knows this. He would do almost anything to be able to go back and prevent himself from taking advantage of M'gann's feelings for him.
Not that he knew what he was doing at the time. All he knew was that he was so very lonely, and desperate, and no one else seemed to want him except M'gann. And so, when she had finally gathered up the courage to tell him her feelings, he had told her that he felt the same. He had though that he did. She made him feel warm and accepted. He liked spending time with her, and he was protective of her.
He just hadn't known enough – hadn't experienced enough – at the time to realize that what he felt for her was friendship, nothing more. When she had eventually discovered the truth, because no matter how careful she was, telepathy was part of who she was and sometimes she slipped without meaning to, she had fled in tears. Neither he nor the rest of the team had heard from her for almost three months – though he suspected Artemis had known at least a portion of what had happened based on her behavior at the time.
When she had finally returned she had explained to him what she had felt for him, and what he had actually felt for her, and the differences between those feelings. He had tried to apologize, had felt terrible for hurting her, but she told him it wasn't his fault. He just hadn't understood. And that wasn't something she could hold against him.
Still, it had taken two years for their relationship to heal, and they still weren't back to where they had been before he had screwed everything up.
"I…I'm just worried that you might be making a similar mistake with Dick. I know you and Superman have been at odds again, and I'm just afraid that…"
"Look," Conner finally interrupted, meeting M'gann's concerned gaze unflinchingly.
"You don't think I love Dick. Or you don't think that I understand how I feel about Dick. Look into my mind. See for yourself. I know what I'm doing, what I want. Just look."
"Are… are you sure?"
"I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't."
He can feel her cautiously enter his mind; she, too, has come a long way in her training since their early days. She is careful to remain on the surface, waiting for him to direct her. Without a second thought, he invites her in. He still struggles with the meditation techniques that J'onn and Batman have shown him, and so his mind isn't so organized that she isn't going to see more than just his thoughts on Dick. But he doesn't mind. He trusts her as he trusts few others. He knows that any secrets she comes across will remain so.
He can tell when she realizes the truth. Her concern slowly changes to wonderment, and then slightly melancholy joy. She is happy that he has finally found real romantic love. It has been a long time since their ill-fated romance, and she has for the most part gotten over those feelings she once had for him. She is slightly jealous, that Dick gives him what she never could, but he understands and takes no offense. He can't, when her delight is so much deeper and stronger than her disappointment.
He does his best to let her know just how important she has always been to him – not in the way she had wanted, but vital none the less. In return, she wraps him in a brief mental hug before gently pulling out of his mind.
When he opens his eyes, he finds her beaming at him, though her eyes are moist. "Oh, Conner," she murmurs, her voice slightly deeper than usually but still strong, "I'm so happy for you." She pulls him into a hug, whispering, "Congratulations," before letting him go to jump to her feet.
Following her gaze, he sees Dick standing just inside the room, leaning back against the wall.
"Congratulations to you both," she adds, louder this time. Then she floats over to Dick and gives him a hug, too.
"Thanks, M'gann," he replies, returning the embrace, though his eyes remain fixed on Conner.
"We should celebrate! I could bake a cake…"
Dick laughs, "Maybe later, though we appreciate the offer. Wally was looking for you, though."
"Oh no!" She cries, looking at her watch. "I'm late!" With that she rushes from the room, yelling, "Bye!" as she goes.
With one long stretch, Dick moves away from the wall. He locks the door, then turns back to Conner. His gaze burns as he slowly stalks towards where Conner is still sitting, his tongue coming out to swipe at his smirking lips.
"We've got the mountain to ourselves now, lover," he says, the desire in his voice making Conner shiver. "However shall we entertain ourselves now?"
Conner has more than a few suggestions.
"Look, dude, no offense, but Dick's my best friend. I'm only doing my duty, here."
Conner doesn't mention the fact that he thought he and Wally were friends, too.
"So here's the thing; I know you and Dick are kind of seeing each other..."
More than 'kind of'. They have been together for almost six months now. As far as Conner is aware that's not considered 'kind of' anymore. Still, he holds his tongue and lets Wally have his say.
"… and I know that you guys think you're in love and all that…"
Conner doesn't just think he's in love. He loves all his teammates, in different ways. He has been slowly discovering just how many different manifestations love can have. It has not always been a painless process. But he knows now, with as much certainty as he has ever had about anything, that he loves Dick in a way that is both unique and… more… than what he feels for anyone else. He cannot imagine his life without Dick. He refuses to try.
But he understands where Wally is coming from, and so he maintains his silence.
"… I'm just worried, you know. You don't really have the best track record when it comes to relationships. Not that I blame you! You're doing great, really, for all you went through and basically being a three-year old and all. But, well, like I said, Dick's my best friend. I don't want to see him hurt. Not that I want to see you hurt, either! But of the two of you, you have to admit that he's the most likely to be fragged. Physically… emotionally… whatever. Which would totally suck, because Batman would probably take him away and never let him come back again. And he'd probably kill you, or at least mess you up to where you couldn't be on the team anymore. And then we'd have to try to find replacements for you both, not that either of you could actually be replaced. Which means we'd probably wind up just dissolving the team altogether…"
"I'm not going to purposely hurt him, Wally." Conner is determined to repeat this as many times as is required to actually make people believe it.
"Well… I know you wouldn't hurt him deliberately, Supes," and at least that is something, Conner thinks, "but, well, emotions still aren't really your thing. And let's face it, you still have issues with your strength sometimes when things gets too intense. And Dick's always been the one that gets the biggest reactions from you. Plus, I can't imagine anything more intense than… doing… that. And yeah."
"Wally, I swear to you, I'm doing everything I can to ensure that I never hurt him if I can help it." It bothers Conner, that he can't just promise to never hurt Robin, but he's been mind-controlled too often to make that sort of promise. "Would it make you feel better to know that I've started extra training, to try to eliminate any accidental slip ups?"
"I know that BC and J'onn have been working with you, and it's really cool that you're putting in so much time to keeping Dick safe. Like I said, it's not that I actually think you're going to deliberately try to hurt him or anything. I guess, I'm just worried. Like I said, Dick's my bro. Just… just keep your promise, and do what you can. I don't expect you to die for him of anything, just do your best to keep him safe and happy. He deserves it."
Conner considers pointing out that he would, in fact, quite happily die if it would keep Dick safe, but decides that is only likely to upset Wally. He can tell the conversation hasn't been easy for Wally. Now that he's not concentrating on his own hurt feelings, he can see how guilty the other teen looks.
"It's ok, Wally," he says, meeting the other's startled gaze. "I understand where you're coming from. You've got my word."
"Thanks, man," Wally responds with a small, reluctant smile.
Conner's own smile grows when an idea strikes him. "You should talk to M'gann."
"M'gann. She and I have already talked about this. You should talk to her."
"Ok…" Wally agrees, eyeing Conner strangely. But he's not one to turn down any excuse to spend time with M'gann. And maybe she really could help him work out his thoughts and concerns; she was always a great listener.
"Anyway, I'll see you later," he finally says, waving over his shoulder as he walks off.
"Later," Conner answers, though he can tell he went unheard.
5: The Joker
Conner had never expected this. In a million years, he doesn't think he would have expected this.
"I've seen you, sniffing around poor little Robin. And I. Don't. Like. It." Each word is emphasized by a kick to his side. With such a large chunk of green Kryptonite so close, all Conner can do is try to curl into a ball to try to protect his now vulnerable organs.
"Robin is mine," and oh, how Conner wishes he could just rip this monster's head off, "just like the Bat. They belong to Gotham, and Gotham belongs to me. And I don't share."
Another blow comes, this time a bat to his shoulder, and he bites his tongue to keep back a cry of agony.
"It's bad enough that they insist on socializing with you metas. Running off to take care of the rest of the world – of the whole fucking universe – and forgetting all about their responsibilities here."
A series of blows this time, all concentrated on his shoulder, and he hears and feels something crack. He's scared, and he doesn't know how Dick can deal with this psycho on a semi-regular basis and still be as open and loving and wonderful as he is…
"But now you think you deserve to love him? You? A second-rate clone, who's only allowed to stick around because those weak-hearted heroes don't have the balls to deal with you like the trash you are? You think that you deserve anything from him?"
'Of course not,' Conner cries in his head, because he knows Dick is too good for him. He knows that he doesn't deserve to love Dick, much less have Dick love him back. He knows he's just a mistake that no one could bring themselves to correct.
But… when he's with Dick, he feels like he deserves to love and be loved. He can almost forget – has forgotten – everything else in the world. Because Dick doesn't treat him like he's a mistake. His eyes don't hold pity or fear or hatred when he looks at Conner. They hold love – a kind of love that Conner is only just beginning to understand, but one he will do anything to keep. Including survive whatever this madman has planned. Because Dick will find him. He's even now looking for him. And all Conner has to do is stay alive until then.
And so, minutes or hours later, when the skylight finally breaks, sending tinkling drops of glass raining down onto the pool of blood in which he lies; when the Joker pauses in his beating to look up with a grotesquely pleased grin and delighted cry of "Batsy!"; when Conner feels the Kryptonite finally being put away and gentle hands checking his injuries, while a voice choked with tears begs him to hang on, "Just please hang on!", he isn't the least bit surprised.
And when he finally surrenders to the darkness, it is with a smile.
Super powers or no, Conner can't help but squirm under the squint-eyed glare of the Batman. He has no idea how a human with no super powers can possibly be so intimidating, especially when he's dressed up as Bruce Wayne, but it's all Conner can do to not attempt to hide behind Dick.
Who is standing tall beside Conner, arm wrapped firmly around his waist, meeting the Batman's glare with his own amused yet defiant one – a combination that Conner is fairly certain only Dick could manage.
Of all the 'talks' that Conner knew he would have to suffer through once his relationship with Dick became public knowledge, this was by far the one he feared most. It was common knowledge, among heroes, villains, and the general public, that Batman was slightly overprotective of his partner. It was also fairly common knowledge that he had a rather substantial collection of Kryptonite at his disposal.
Conner shifted again, eyes downcast.
He doesn't blame Batman for being concerned about their relationship. Even before hearing everyone else's thoughts on the matter, Conner knew he was not an ideal partner. But he's selfish, because in spite of knowing how bad he is for Dick, how very easily he could hurt him, he still can't bring himself to let him go.
Dick had told him that everyone else were idiots who didn't have enough proper breeding to mind their own damn business, and that if Conner ever tried to 'set him free' he'd tie him to a bed in the Batcave where no one would ever find him and only free him so Dick could have his wicked ways with him – and sometimes not even then. Dick had then walked off, muttering disturbingly about Batrestraints and Batgags and green to red K ratios.
"I trust you're not forcing him into anything he's not ready for?"
Conner's wandering thoughts are abruptly brought to heel when Batman finally speaks. He curls in on himself a bit more, and Dick's squeeze does little to reassure him. He might have expected this, but it still hurt to be questioned, to always have everyone assume the worst…
"Of course not," Dick answering startles him, and his chest warms at his willingness to stick up for him, but he's not going to let Dick fight his battles. And so he does his best to swallow the lump in his throat, determined to prove to Batman that he would never – could never – hurt Dick.
"He's not fresh from the lab anymore. He's been out for over three years. And it's been almost that long since I gave him the 'birds and the bees' talks – both of them – complete with approved video references and self-study manuals."
And hadn't that been an interesting experience. He had no idea how Dick had been chosen to be the one to give him 'the talk'. At the time, only about eight months after he'd been rescued from Cadmus, they hadn't even been that close. But, close or not, one night when the base had been suspiciously vacant, Dick had sat Conner down in one of the meeting rooms and gone through the complete, Bat-developed and approved program. And assigned him homework.
At the time, he had been embarrassed, and angry that he was embarrassed, and upset with Robin for being the one to make him embarrassed. And bitterly jealous that Robin had a mentor that cared enough to research and develop a 'homosexual relations' training session when, during the 'heterosexual relations' session's question and answer period he had been informed that Robin was fairly certain he was at the very least bi-curious.
"Three years isn't that long a period of time. He hasn't had a chance to experience life like you have…"
Dick sighs explosively. "He's not exactly a blushing virgin you know. He's had a boyfriend – and a girlfriend – before. And I'm taking things slow," Dick emphasizes when Batman's eyes narrow even further and he looks like he's about to interject. "I'm not rushing him in to anything. We haven't even made it to third base yet."
"And you've made certain that he understands that he doesn't have to do anything that makes him uncomfortable? That your friendship, his friendship with the others, his place on your team, aren't contingent upon him having a relationship with you."
It suddenly dawns on Conner that he isn't the one being questioned. The Batman isn't threatening him, or telling him how sure he is that Conner will only break Dick's heart. He's interrogating Dick to make sure he isn't taking advantage of Conner.
"Of course! I would never… What kind of person do you take me for?" Dick is obviously upset, and hurt that Batman would suggest such a thing. Conner forces himself to step forward slightly, though he doesn't leave Dick's half-embrace.
"Dick isn't… exploiting me or anything, sir," Conner mumbles, eyes focused at Batman's chest where the Bat insignia would be if he wasn't Bruce Wayne at the moment. "I… I really do love him. He makes me… happy. I want… I want to be… be with him…"
The end of his sentence is whispered into Dick's neck, as Conner is now being tightly hugged to Dick's body. He assumes that Batman heard him, however, because he can feel the other man relax, and the tension that had been stifling the air drops somewhat.
"That's good to hear, Superboy." Batman steps forward, placing a hand on Dick's shoulder and leaving Conner sandwiched between the two men. He wonders if he should be worried by how safe he feels.
"I never thought that you would deliberately take advantage of him, Dick." Batman's voice is softer than Conner has ever heard it, the apology in it clear even to him. Dick's arms tighten around him in response. "I know how excited you can get sometimes, though. You don't always stop to make sure everyone else is on the same page before jumping forward. I know how much and how long you've cared for Superboy. And Superboy still does occasionally have trouble with emotions and social behaviors and expectations. I just… wanted to make certain you were both of the same understanding in this."
Dick slowly exhales. He removes one arm from around Conner and rests it on top of Batman's. "I… thanks. For that… and… yeah. But you really shouldn't be talking about someone else having trouble with emotions and social behaviors, you know."
I realize that Batman comes across a little more… gooey than pre-established canon in this. I think, however, that in "Young Justice" he is being presented as being more so than in other Universes. And, as it suited my purposes for this piece, I ran with that idea.