A/N: One of those midnight things. I was working on this at one A.M. which I should really stop doing because that's when the angst comes out. Anyways, here's a little one-shot for ya.
Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own it.
Sidenote: Thoughts through the link are in italics. I had a serious internal debate between italics and just apostrophes…
"Miss Martian, link us up." Superboy wasn't in charge, but Aqualad was in the middle of something and it felt right to be in contact with the other three, wherever they'd disappeared to. Kid Flash and Artemis were always bickering which led to them frequently getting left behind, and Robin still hadn't let go of his random disappearing act. With radios pretty much useless unless you had a free hand, Superboy figured that the mental link would work better in this instance.
"One second." She reeled behind a pillar before releasing her camouflage mode. "Link set."
Everyone suddenly came online. Kaldur's mind, fierce and fighting, came up, his thoughts and plans and moves already prescreened in everyone else's minds. Megan was working on a new cake recipe. Wally and Artemis were linked up with M'gann almost simultaneously, retorts being spilled out of their thoughts before they could fall off their tongues.
Why'd you have to do that? came the snarling of both of them through the link as all their witty comebacks were suddenly rendered useless.
Robin was slower since he was further away. Miss Martian's range was like a sound wave. Whatever was closer got linked up first. It took a few seconds, but thoughts were soon spilling through the barrier.
Conner actually had to clutch at his head. He'd seen a lot of things in Cadmus, but nothing could've prepared him for the complete attack that was coming through the mental link at that moment. Prickling anger. Depression like ice. Fierce determination. Mixing regret and pride. Then memories, God, the memories. All Conner could make of it was blood, blood, blood, blood-
I cut him off again, I'm sorry! Megan pulled her hood up over her head and tried to keep the shame of having to disconnect someone from rising into her face. I'm just not sure if the link can take that!
Shit, what the Hell was that? Artemis asked before suddenly remembering they were on a mission and that she and Kid Flash were completely missing out on all of it. All of her thoughts tumbled out into the open. For some reason, she felt really exposed all of a sudden.
Now Superboy was engaged in his own battle, a fist connecting with a jaw here, a kick landing in a chest there. His mind was as consumed with the fight as Aqualad's was. Blue eyes flared as he missed a punch that should've met it's mark; he barely managed to make up for it with a left hook. Try again. Part of his mind strayed to all of Wally's video games when the screen would flash "GAME OVER. TRY AGAIN?"
I don't lose that much! insisted the redhead as he bolted into the massive warehouse room, immediately ducking behind crates as bullets whistled past his face, one leaving a long red mark of blood along his cheek after skimming his skin.
Megan remained in hiding as she let her mental range stray out a bit more until she found the form of Robin ducking into the ventilation system to get to the security station at the facility. And the girl linked him back up.
Artemis, still not in a fight of her own, was the hardest to feel the hit. She fell to the ground from the sheer power of it. Pent up rage. An empty abyss of black. Graves. Disappointment. A platform. Blood, blood, everywhere blood, so much blood- Pain. Emptiness. Blood, blood-
The disconnection was swift again as a falling sensation filled the rest of the team. None of their bodies were in moti- M'gann! Conner was the first to put it together although there was little he could do about it. He could only deliver blows to the enemy like Black Canary had trained him to. Megan would have to wait.
Kid Flash managed to get to her, watching her nearly invisible form fizzle back into existence and begin to flutter down to earth like a crippled bird. "I gotcha, beautiful," he said as her heavy form landed in his arms after making the short run to grab her.
Head lolling back for a moment as a grimace captured her face, Miss Martian focused all her energy into coming to and keeping the rest of the mental links strong. "Thank you," she breathed to Wally, sounding almost out of breath after the shock of all the raw emotion the Boy Wonder was spewing out. Everyone alright?she questioned as the team's ginger put her back on her own feet again only after making sure she could stand on her own.
That kid needs to get a grip, huffed an angry Artemis, struggling to get to her feet and find the control of her bow again. Focus drifting, she knew she had to get her own grip on things.
Conner and Kaldur had been a bit more numb to it, thoughts elsewhere like how one hit could lead to a quick advantage for the next strike or how the water bearers could perhaps pull a box over to smash over someone's head. It still hadn't stopped them from feeling it. Aqualad gave the order, Kid, speak with him. Break radio silence.
On it. Kid Flash let Megan go off to assist Superboy as Artemis burst in with arrows already strung and ready. The speedster stayed in the green-skinned girl's hiding place before pressing a finger to the communicator in his ear. Wally was suddenly grateful that Batman hadn't ordered radio silence. "Flashboy to Birdboy, do you copy?"
"KF, quit being an ass and get Miss M to link me up. I keep losing you guys." He trundled through a particularly dusty vent, the black of his costume being laced in gray particles. "Am I out of range?" Angry blue eyes stared down the small gray corridor, if you could call a vent a corridor, and he kept moving.
Kid Flash felt bullets zipping all around him as if someone was carrying an AK-47 and wasn't afraid to use it. "We keep getting some serious stuff off this end. It knocked Artemis down and made Superboy lose his focus, although I know that's not hard to do, and Meg almost fell and got seriously hurt. Cool your jets or else you're getting radios all day."
Robin turned a corner, finding the duct he wanted to get to. The one that would lead to the grate of the security room and from there he could toy with the bad guys as much as he pleased. "What are you talking about?" he spat with a finger pressed in his ear: a hassle for the kid who would always need his hands. He didn't have time for this. Pressing his back to the opposite side of the duct, he put his feet on the grate and kicked out full-force, the screws losing their grip and the metal cover blasting off. The Boy Wonder followed shortly after, knocking out the operators with one punch each, a personal record.
"Man, whatever you're thinking about, get rid of it. All we're seeing from you is images of stuff I'm assuming you wouldn't want us to see. Or at least them." Kid Flash touched his cheek with one hand, the blood already a distant memory. Fast healing. He loved life. "We're seeing blood and graves with names on them. I know, but they don't know. Settle down or else you'll get someone seriously hurt."
"I don't even want to be here right now, dude." Robin plugged the USB into the port and immediately began to work off his suit's computer, the blue screen flashing up in front of his eyes. "I can't believe Bruce even sent me to work today." His fingers furiously typed. "This is a load of bullshit."
"Do you want to have to use radios all day?" Kid Flash's threat hung in the air as more bullets fired near him, the sound of guns nearly drowning out his best friend's voice. "You almost hurt Meg." He peeked around a corner only to reel back again into hiding as more of the minuscule projectiles nearly hit him. "All your nasty thoughts are a serious threat to this team. Clean it up in one minute and we'll try it again, got that?" And Wally turned off his communicator, knowing Robin would be ranting as soon as the redhead's transmission cut out. Wally felt that he didn't need to hear it.
Should I try again? asked Megan as she let Artemis leap in and take down a few bad guys, arrows flying everywhere as the archer let loose her fury. The green-skinned girl ducked behind a few crates, knowing that hiding would be better if the same stream of negativity would run through the link.
Try to hook him up to me instead of everyone else. He's… off his game. Bad day. Kid Flash hated to lie to Megan, Megan of all people, but for Rob's sake, he would do it. That was what best friends were for, right? Helping each other out, keeping secrets, and video games until midnight. Just give him a minute.
The uploading seemed to be taking forever. Robin paced up in the control room as he sorted through his thoughts, trying to compartmentalize all the bad things he knew about today. The blood. The graves. The screams. The crying. Oh God, the blood…
The acrobat shook his head, clearing his thoughts. He couldn't endanger everyone else. Not again. Not like this. Not today. Hey. Got me online?
Just you and me.
This was a bit unnerving. Robin stared at the computer screens that surrounded him. The surveillance had better firewalls than he had expected. The upload of the system's controls was only halfway through. He was pacing. It wasn't that he was impatient; it was just that he didn't want to deal with all this on top of tonight and tomorrow. These were the three hardest days of the year. The rest of the week was usually reserved for just sitting around and moping, but he usually managed better than this. Of course, there was never a mission on this day before. You don't trust me.
Not with them. He had remained in hiding as Megan took his position in the fight. As long as everyone else was pulling their weight, Kid Flash figured he could wait a few more moments. He could hear the thudding of arrows hitting their marks and the crashing of crates against bodies alongside the sounds of rushing water as Kaldur'ahm's bearers smashed into criminals. You need to get a grip. I can still see everything.
I know it's hard, but you just have to focus. This is Robin, that's Richard. Get them straight or get out. Wally knew they didn't have much time for screwing around. This mission was serious. There had been a security deficit at Wayne Enterprises, driving all sorts of crooks to the sites of the buildings. Of course, Robin could've gotten it all done from the comforts of the Batcave had someone not done a complete override of the system's internal hard drive to force a reboot, the firewalls coming down and any security scans being rendered useless.
There was a break in his thought pattern. Silence. A calm, serene moment where there was no blood, no screams, no desperate calls for salvation. There was no falling. Robin.
Yeah. I'm good. The upload was complete and he was working again as if it was automatic. Link me up, I've got security camera feed from here. I can talk you through the building so you can get to the bulk of the mainframe. I can do it from here, but I can't force a reboot like I need to.
And you need the room clear? Wally was finally able to sense that his friend's mind was cleansed, even if only for a moment. It just had to last until the mental link could be abandoned.
Uh-huh. I can get down there through the vents, I just need you guys to clear me a path so that it's safe to work when I get in there. It'll take ten minutes, at least. He had the encryption codes he needed to force the reboot from Bruce and now he had the new codes that would override any other safety measures that been put on the security base's hard drive.
Without another word, Wally called out, "Meg, try again!"
The girl quickly sent out her wave to search for him and then-
He linked. There's a door to the right. Through there, a staircase can take you down to the basement level. KF, clear the stairs if you can. Everyone else, follow him.
The stairs were quickly filled with the five teenagers as the sixth of the pack was going down in a much harder way, sliding through ducts until he was sure he was on the basement level. There's a hallway off to the right with a door on the left that leads to a security room with a breach in it. Keep everyone out of there and I'll be in in a minute. He maneuvered through tight silver spaces until he could kick open the vent he wanted to topple into the hallway with the others.
"You sure know how to make an entrance," commented Kid Flash with a smirk as Robin dropped to the floor right in front of them like a shadow coming to life.
"Just watch the door." He pushed past Superboy and into the room, the door slamming and sealing shut behind him with a hiss as the lock bolted. The kid linked up his computer to this new mainframe and began to work as if this were any other day. Any other day of the year…
The hall was filled with a tense silence. "Is he okay?" asked Miss Martian, always the first to voice her concerns about anything and everything. "He seems…" There wasn't a word for it. At least not a word she knew. He was distraught, fearful, furious, and every other negative thing that she could ever piece into a single sentence. He was all of that and possibly more that she didn't know.
"It's just for the day." Kid Flash was going to brush it off, let his teammates worry another day. As long as Robin wasn't angsting it up in their thoughts, it was all good. "But I might suggest you cut him off again. I'm not sure how long he'll be able to stay… like this."
The link was cut to five people as Megan severed the communication with Robin.
"That was… a lot of… bad shit…" Artemis had a way with words, she'd always been told.
"He just needs this day to end." Wally was the second to see the goons coming around the corner, heading for the door, Superboy being the first. Arrows were flung in that direction as Megan stood to protect the door. The three boys were already eager for the fight, testosterone flooding their veins.
Inside, Robin worked and fought off tears at the same time.
A/N: Angst. This is what I get for working until midnight. Urgh. Reviews are good. Thanks for reading.