A/N: Done for this month's Ultimate Collab Challenge, written with shintas1st. I suppose this is what happens when you pair two action writers together.
Superboy could hardly figure out how humans handled all this input. The chatter of the crowd, the smells of various foods - he couldn't even understand half of what the people were saying nor figure out how stinky bean curd could be appetizing - it was almost too much.
He glanced up at his leader's voice. Kaldur was waiting for him while the rest of the team scattered to explore the various brightly colored stalls. There was concern in the Atlantean's silver eyes and he grumbled in response, "Yeah, I heard you."
"Amongst this cacophony?" Kaldur's tone was amused but not in any way teasing. "I find that it becomes more bearable if you focus on one thing, instead of everything at once."
"What one thing?"
Kaldur smiled. "Our guest lecturer, perhaps." He nodded at their youngest teammate who was casually explaining that the so-called 'jellyfish' being served in Chinese restaurants were actually pickled kelp - seaweed - and that the boy doubted real jellyfish would be edible. The sea creatures' toxin levels were among the most fatal in the world.
Conner knew all this, of course. Cadmus had taught him much about the cultures of the most populous nationalities. It was part of the training of being a weapon. But somehow, Robin's patient voice felt more soothing than anything Cadmus did.
He watched and waited as Robin exchanged several words with a pastry - dimsum, his Cadmus education supplied - vendor several blocks away from the restaurant. Money traded hands and their teammate came back with a handful of still hot dumplings.
"You're my bestest bud, Rob!" Wally exclaimed, speeding over to meet the younger boy halfway. He grabbed about half of the dumplings when Robin held the rest out of his reach.
"Sorry, KF. You have to share with everyone." Ignoring the speedster's pout, he offered the treats to the others. "I can't lecture you all about Chinese culture without letting you taste the food."
"Oh, thanks Robin!" Megan said brightly, reaching out to examine a piece of dumpling. "What are they?"
"Chinese dumplings. They're seasoned ground meat wrapped in rice flour wrappers and steamed."
Kaldur reached for his share but stared at it dubiously.
"I got the vegetarian kind for you, Kaldur," Robin told him, catching his expression. "No meat in it."
"Ah, my thanks, Robin."
Wally had finished his first (as his usual wont) and threw up his arms in complaint. "Come on, we've been here for hours! Tell me you've made progress on this case." He aimed an earnest look at the younger boy.
Conner knew what he was referring to: Batman had sent them to investigate several Happy Harbour children going missing in the past couple of weeks. They were reported to have disappeared right after a trip to the open-air market in Chinatown and Robin declared that the market would be the place to start investigating.
"It's not exactly progress," Robin said, tossing their empty paper plates to a nearby trash can. "Mr. Cheung said the kidnappings only happened at night-"
"It's reaching nightfall." Megan pointed out, a worried frown on her face.
"-It happened to kids," Robin continued without missing a beat, "kids in their pre-teens or a bit older-"
"Like you." Artemis muttered.
"-And it happened when the kids were alone." Robin paused, his face brightening as though Artemis' words had given him an idea. "Hey!"
"I do not like it." Kaldur shook his head. "It would mean Robin has to be alone-"
"I've been bait before! I can-" Their youngest team member protested.
"I can keep track of everyone as long as you're not out of my range." Megan suggested.
"I've got a tracker on my belt. You guys could-" Robin explained but Wally stepped in.
"I can catch up to whoever the kidnappers are, even if they've got a car!" the speedster suggested enthusiastically. "Can't outrun the fastest kid in the world!"
"I've got tracer arrows in case the first tracker gets busted." Artemis added. "And Superboy can hear him from far away."
They all turned to their youngest who was glaring at them with his arms crossed. "You guys talking about me while I'm still here is totally not whelming. At all."
Kaldur dropped his head in apology. "I am sorry, Robin. I was...worried something might happen to you if we use this plan."
Robin waved a hand in dismissal. "Pfft, we're superheroes. Something always happens to us."
"I do not wish any harm-"
"Besides," Robin continued, "I've got you guys for back up. I trust you."
The others turned to stare at their leader, awaiting his final decision. While Robin was often their tactician, it always fell to Kaldur whether they would go with a plan or not. It was part of his responsibilities as team leader.
The Atlantean met their eyes briefly then sighed and nodded, giving Superboy the impression that he was agreeing to this despite his misgivings. Aqualad was only worried for the team, and most of all, he was worried for Robin. Conner decided then that no harm would fall on their youngest if he could help it.