I Never Said Thank You For That
Her hat is not exactly appropriate for a funeral because it's small and makes her look a little Gothic. But it was one of the very first things her father gave her when he finally agreed to train her in magic and even if she outgrew it a long time ago, it only feels right that she is wearing it when she tosses the roses over the casket.
Life just isn't fair.
"He was, by far, the wisest man I ever knew…"
She brings a gloved hand over her mouth as she whimpers, and Bruce drops a hand on her shoulder and squeezes as Clark continues speaking.
The speech is touching, and Clark was never that great with words that weren't printed on paper, but there's something about his words today that would've made her father wrinkle in a smile.
That's the thing about her father, too, is that they're all here crying and she just knows he wouldn't want it that way. He'd want them to be happy or at least proud that he went out the way he did, dying in the line of duty by a spell that ended up saving many lives.
Bruce takes her by her elbow when the ceremony is over, kisses her forehead gently.
"How are you?" She lets out this breathless noise and wipes the corner of her eyes again. "We can get out of here, if you'd like."
And see, he's really a sweeter man than he'll ever believe he is. He hasn't left her out of his sight since breaking the news, let her live at the mansion and cry, kept her tucked away and safe from the concern of the rest of the League when she knew she couldn't handle the company. He's basically letting her get away with bottling herself even if he knows he shouldn't.
"My father wouldn't want me to keep acting like a child."
"True enough," he says, "but feeling emotional isn't considered being childish, Zatanna. It's being human."
She cracks a smile. Today's the first day she's both cried and smiled since.
It's probably some sort of a sign.
She showers once they get back to the mansion, and her hair is up in a ponytail, which she hasn't done since she was in elementary school.
She's in her room—well, the guest bedroom she's been sleeping in for the past two weeks—when someone knocks at her door. "Come in," she says, just loud enough for any of the three possible people it could be (they've got crazy sensitive ears, amongst other things), and it cracks open and Dick pokes his head through before sliding his whole body in. "Hey."
"I brought dinner," he announces, kicking the door open more to reveal Alfred holding a covered silver tray.
She giggles a little. "Hi, Al."
"Would you mind it terribly if the three of us join you, madam?"
Bruce is there, smiling from behind his butler, and she tells them, "I'd love it."
She shifts a little and closes her book without saving her page, setting it on the nightstand. Dick kind of jumps onto the bed next to her and completely messes up the pillow arrangement, and Bruce sits a bit on the edge and facing them. Alfred produces this foldout table and puts their dinner on it, and she doesn't realize that she's pretty much starving until her stomach growls loudly.
"You know, if you wanted to eat earlier," Dick says, smiling, "you could've just come out and said so."
She blushes slightly. This is literally the first time any of the three have spoken about her being a hermit. They're really too kind.
Dick shrugs his shoulders and then is more serious, tilting his head to look at her. "You want to talk about it?" he asks in this small voice, one she's never, ever heard him use, at least in her presence.
She bites her lower lip and shakes her head. It's stupid because she really wants to, but at the same time, she really doesn't. She doesn't feel ready yet and is kind of afraid that she'll never be. "I… I can't," she whispers. "I'm just not…"
He grasps her hand and squeezes. "You'll get there," he tells her. "I promise."
She wants to tell him not to make her promises he isn't sure of, but remembers that this is the same boy that saw his parents die before his eyes so yeah, he probably knows a more about this than her.
The front door opens loudly and she can hear the voices from inside the kitchen, one distinctively being Dick and the other distinctively being female.
"I still think you should stop pestering the poor girl," the girl is saying, and Zatanna swears her voice is crazy-familiar. "Bruce may have been lenient, but it's still pretty clear that he wants our identities to be under lock and key for the most part." Zatanna turns to look at the doorway as Dick and this girl with scarlet hair and bright blue eyes are walking in. "Artemis isn't stupid, either, so just…"
She kind of looks at her for a minute and then her eyes widen, and she is exclaiming "Zatanna!" and hugging her.
Barbara was at the funeral, of course, though Zatanna maybe made eye contact for all of two seconds. She wasn't exactly in the mood for casual conversation that day. But it's been over two years since they've seen each other, which is a pretty long time considering the three of them practically lived in the mansion together that very first year Barbara joined and Zatanna visited Gotham frequently.
She pulls back, holds her at arm's length. "Long time, no see, huh?"
Zatanna laughs a little and nods. It's been a while but Barbara has always gotten her, so it's nice to know she won't bring up her dad right away.
"Hungry?" Barbara slides her bag off of her shoulder and drops it onto a stool at the kitchen island, and Dick does the same. "I was just going to make pancakes. Want some?"
"Of course. I've always loved your cooking, Babs."
"It's one of the many reasons why Wally adores you," Dick pipes up, jumping onto a stool. "Although maybe adores isn't the right word." He looks at Zatanna. "She totally abuses him."
"I do not!" the redhead protests. "Once in a while, it's just nice being treated the way Wally treats me. If you acted a little like that, I'd spoil you, too. Actually," she reconsiders, "I probably wouldn't."
Dick rolls his eyes and Zatanna smiles. According to Bruce, they've always sort of been like this, even when they were too young to know what flirting was and before Barbara became Batgirl. It just progressively gets worse over the years and she would know since she used to witness it for herself on a near-daily basis before. She always did find them cute.
"You ought to consider joining the Team, 'Tanna." Barbara grabs the pancake mix and looks at her. "You'd have a lot of fun."
"Maybe," she says, unsure. It's been her and her father for the longest time and she doesn't really know how well she can work with teams just yet.
Barbara grins at her. "So, do you want chocolate chips in yours?"
Bruce has League business and tasked the Team with covering patrol tonight.
She knows because Dick told her so, and she also knows he told her in one of his many attempts to get her to join them.
It feels like it's been too long since she's put on her costume anyway, considering she wore it all the time. It's really only been a month and a half since but the stockings and blazer still fit as snugly as they used to, and it actually feels nice to be back in her suit. She slips her gloves on, looks herself over in the long mirror, and being back in her costume isn't as bad as she thought it'd be.
Someone knocks lightly at the door, and Bruce's deep voice asks, "Can I come in?"
She turns around and Batman is standing there without his cowl. There are two beige folders in his hands, and her eyebrows shoot up when she sees them.
"A present," he supplies, "Of sorts. It didn't cost anything, and they're not just from me, so don't give me that look." She laughs and takes the folders when he hands them to her. "You're going on patrol?"
It's more of a statement than a question, because she's already dressed, and she's been itching to have a little more action back in her life. "I was… considering." She puts the folders on the nightstand, her gloved fingertips lingering over the top. "I guess asking for a hint is out of the question?"
There's a faint smile on his face. "I'll see you later."
Gotham is pretty quiet for the most part. It's still early in the night, but she's standing alone on a rooftop and actually has a chance to admire the view, so that's nice.
The rest of the Team flew in via bioship a little more than an hour ago and she's mostly sure that no one knows she's here. Dick's probably betting that she came out tonight, and Barbara probably has as strong a hunch (she and Dick, for all of their arguing, have very similar intuitions), but she hasn't met the rest of them yet and she seems more troubled by that than by the actual possibility of crime right now.
Except she hears the shattering of glass and a loud alarm going off, and she looks over the ledge at a club further down the street.
"This city is never quiet."
She jumps off of the side of the building and floats down, breaking out in a run when her heels hit the sidewalk. It had been drizzling a minute ago and now she can feel it starting to rain a little more.
When she is a few stores down from the bank, there are screams and then growling and she kind of freezes in time to see these two shadows bounding out through the shattered window. Even from this distance she can tell they're hyenas and she only knows one person who keeps them as pets.
The laughing that had been filling the air died down amongst the chaos, and the girl clad in red and black put a hand on her hip and smiled back wildly.
"Hello, sugar!" Zatanna narrows her eyes at the high-pitched voice, but mostly at the gun she held lazily at her side. "How's your daddy?"
She clenches her jaw, tightens her fists at her sides. It's steadily turning into a downpour but her blood is hot and getting hotter with every second she spends staring at Harley Quinn and her twisted smile. Then suddenly she's running forward and the hyenas are growling and charging towards her. Really, she would've had little trouble stopping them, except when their jaws open and they're aiming straight for her arm, it's not her arms they end up biting into.
The person the hyenas have their teeth in is darker, maybe a little taller than her, with a strong build and she's sure she knows him from somewhere, if he could turn around.
"Well, well, well," Harley laughs, "What's a guppy doing all the way in Gotham?" She twirls the gun and Zatanna feels a shiver run down her spine as Harley takes aim and gunshots shatter the air. A deep voice in front of her lets out an unpleasant grunt and she sees red.
"Sniahc yb dnuob!"
The hyenas let out a strangled squeal as chains wrap around them and throw them onto the ground, immobilizing them.
Harley lets out a shrill scream and fires again and Zatanna exclaims, "Ezeerf!" seconds later, and the bullets halt midair a few inches away. Except, as she looks closer, she notices that there are millions of droplets of water seemingly suspended in midair as well, shimmering and floating around them. It would've been beautiful if it wasn't so… strange.
"Whatever it is you are doing," a deep voice whispers, breath warm against her ear, "Keep doing it."
And she doesn't even have time to react to that because she sees the rain around them starting to shift quickly, forming this large serpent-looking stream of water that completely washes over the area. She breaks focus on her spell (she feels it shatter) and gasps as these strong arms wrap around her from behind, keeping her upright as the ground shakes and water crashes everywhere.
She's not sure what just happened.
Dick and Barbara get the story from them and work out all of the details with the police, since they're more familiar with Robin and Batgirl than the Team. Zatanna watches them talk and then watches them take Harley and her hyenas (all three still unconscious) away and notes rather absently that the rain finally stopped.
Then she sees this blanket being stretched towards her in her peripheral vision, and she turns to see Kaldur'ahm. "I do not wish for you to get sick," he informs.
"Thank you, Kaldur'ahm." That's twice already in less than an hour that he's come to her aid, but at least now she can call him by his name.
He smiles gently. "My friends call me 'Kaldur.'"
She grins and wraps the blanket around her shivering form. "Kaldur," she repeats, and then sees his shoulder. "Are you sure you're alright? You got shot multiple times…"
"I am fine," he assures. "Atlantean skin is very tough, and it is not the worst that I have received before."
She nods grimly, knowing the feeling. They lapse into a strangely comfortable silence, and she just takes the time to look around.
She hasn't met the Team, but she knows them by name and face because of Dick and Barbara. Conner is just sitting on the ramp of the bioship with M'gann in his lap, and if Zatanna didn't know any better, their shifting expressions suggested they were having an unspoken conversation; unlike Wally and Artemis, however, who are pretty vocal about their argument over Wally keeping Harley's gun as a souvenir.
Kaldur clears his throat a little beside her and she looks at him, sees him staring up at the sky. Surprisingly enough, the stars are faintly visible tonight.
"Are you sure you will be alright?" He looks at her. "You appear to be cold. If you need more blankets…"
"I'll show you something a little cooler."
She pulls the blanket from her shoulders and hands it to him, and he steps aside, probably assuming she needs the space. She lifts her hand slowly, feels the water sliding up her legs and lifting away from her clothing, like a ribbon of water floating around her in spirals. She sneaks a glance at Kaldur from her peripheral vision, and smiles at the way his face lights up considerably at her magic.
The water splashes into a puddle at her feet, and even though she's still a little damp, she's considerably drier.
"That is… amazing," Kaldur says. "I have never met another being on the surface world that is able to control water so easily."
"My father always said the elements were my specialty."
Kaldur nods, looking as if this didn't surprise him, and hands her back the blanket. "Will you be returning to the Cave with us?"
She grips the blanket tighter, lifts her hand to brush away her wet hair. She wasn't expecting that question. "I don't know," she admits. "I'm… I don't know."
"I would… be more reassured if you would leave with us." His voice is faint, and she kind of stares at him. "It would put my mind at ease knowing you are safe, and not trying to return home alone. Not that I believe you are incapable, of course, but the Team has been really anxious to meet you and—"
She chuckles a little and he meets her eyes. "Sounds like fun."
M'gann gives her this pink nightgown to change into, and it's entirely not her style, but she really wants to get out of her wet costume. She changes and dries off, finally able to feel her toes and fingertips again, and ties her hair up as walks outside. Everyone is sitting on the floor of the living room, also in their pajamas. It looks like a sort of sleepover and she realizes it's the most she's felt her age in a while.
"Looking good, 'Tanna," Dick says, popping up behind her and making her jump. (He smirks at that.) "Never seen you wear pink before."
"It's… not my favorite color."
"You look fine to me," he shrugs, and then he elbows her side a little, grinning. "Glad you finally said yes."
And before she can correct him that she said "yes" to spending the night and not joining the Team, he is pushing towards the glass coffee table they're all crowded around.
M'gann floats in from the kitchen with a two plates, bearing a mountain of cookies, and Wally and Conner are digging in before they've barely been set down. Artemis smacks the back of Wally's head, complaining about being more considerate and that M'gann didn't make it all for him, and Dick takes a handful from the pile and gives some to Barbara.
"You are not hungry?
Kaldur is looking up at her, waiting, and she smiles and says, "Starved," as she sits between him and Barbara. He hands a cookie to her and when she bites into them, it kind of tastes like heaven.
"These are amazing," she almost exclaims, licking her lips, and she sees M'gann's entire face light up from across the table.
"Really? I could teach you how to make them, if you'd like," the Martian offers. "It's really very easy once you've done it so many times."
Zatanna grins and catches Dick smiling. "I'd like that."
She wakes up in the middle of the night with tears on her face.
Her breathing is kind of jagged and her heart is beating a little faster than usual, and she definitely doesn't remember falling asleep feeling sad. She doesn't remember falling asleep at all actually, because the last thing she distinctly remembers is that they finished their gaming marathon and went around telling some of their favorite hero stories.
Groaning lightly to herself, she tosses off the blanket that hadn't been there when she'd crashed and stood from the couch.
They had moved the coffee table and padded the floor with layers and layers of blankets, so everyone lay scattered amongst the floor and furniture, fast asleep. The kitchen light is on and she turns a little and sees Kaldur, the small of his back against the granite counter and an empty glass in hand.
"Couldn't get to sleep?"
He blinks and watches as she walks quietly around the others. "I was thinking about my other home," he admits softly.
She smiles. It's easy to understand that he considers this place his first home, now.
"Do you do this a lot?" She doesn't know what compels her to ask this. Curiosity most likely, but it probably runs deeper than she's willing to dig right now.
"Only occasionally," he sighs. "I find that times like these where I am very content with my life on land, with this family, makes me think about everyone I left behind."
"Who did you leave?"
Kaldur hesitates, scratching the back of his neck. She makes a silent show of sitting on a stool at the kitchen island and putting her elbows on the counter, resting her chin in her palm, and he chuckles. "I have two best friends back home. Garth and Tula. I have known them for almost as long as I can remember. They are amazing friends, and… they are an item now, so I was wondering how that is going."
She grins. "How sweet."
"I miss them terribly, despite everything," he admits.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of." She shrugs, looks back at where the others are passed out. "These guys are amazing. But family's still family. You're… at least, I know I can go months without seeing my real family and then suddenly feel the overwhelming need to be with them all the time. It's pretty weird."
"My King tells me that it is normal, and something he himself feels on occasion."
"I can imagine that all of us feel it in some way or another," she says softly. "It gets to you, eventually. Tonight was the first night I've woken up like that since the funeral."
She looks at him and expects some kind of pity on his face, or sympathy, but he's just watching her warily. "Do you need to talk about it?"
"I'll be fine."
He smiles at her kind of sadly. "That is not an answer to my question."
She blinks and meets his eyes, pushing a hand through her hair. No, she supposes it's not.
It feels a lot longer than just a few hours overnight since she's been away from the Wayne Mansion, but she, Dick, and Babs needed to check in with Bruce about the Harley Quinn thing and Commissioner Gordon had called Barbara saying he'd be coming to pick her up soon, so they were kind of on a time limit.
Alfred has breakfast ready when they get back, and Bruce joins them in the kitchen.
"It's nothing you should concern yourselves with anymore," is how he ends their discussion of last night's patrol, before going back to his waffles.
"How did you like the Team, 'Tanna?" Barbara asks.
She laughs. "It was fun," she answers honestly, because it was. It was also the most herself she's felt since her father passed away less than two months ago, but she won't say that part.
Dick is kind of smirking at her from across the kitchen island and he says, "You made quite the impression on everyone."
"She did," Barbara agrees, and her tone and expression are completely suspicious as she glances at the boy.
Zatanna yawns a little and Dick snickers. "Did you get enough sleep?" he asks, and she narrows her eyes a little because she thinks she knows where this is going. "Don't worry, late night conversations make me a little sleep-deprived, too. Kaldur looked pretty tired this morning."
A little color rises to her cheeks as Barbara reprimands, "Dick!" but looks as if she's also fighting back a smile.
Bruce is kind of looking at her with his eyebrow arched ever so slightly, and yeah, she has no hopes of hiding anything from these three.
When she gets back to her room, she realizes that she almost entirely forgot about those beige folders sitting on her nightstand.
She still has absolutely no clue what she expects to find in them. Bruce is pretty good with surprises, but she hasn't known him to give out presents at random that didn't represent some ulterior motive. It wasn't a bad thing, it was just a Bruce thing and it was another one of those ways he showed affection without realizing it.
Sitting cross-legged on the bed, she pulls the first folder into her lap, exhales, and opens it.
Staring back at her is Zach's smiling face in the form of a picture clipped to some papers, looking a lot older than the last time she's seen her cousin in person.
She sifts through the papers, and there are lists of names and addresses and phone numbers. There're more photos, too, and it isn't until she's looking through those that she realizes that these are all family members; names and faces she hasn't seen or heard from in years.
It takes a few seconds for the shock to die down enough for her to open the second folder.
The contents of this one are completely are a bunch of medical records and her birth certificate and all of these other legal documents of hers that she's never seen before in her life. There are these colored pages in the back, too, made out of this thick cardstock paper, and she sees that they all have the Gotham Academy crest on it—school registration forms.
She's really, really confused right now.
Bruce is in his office with his television turned onto the local news when she invites herself in. His door was open, anyway, and she's sure he did that because he was expecting her. The Gotham Gazette is on his desk, the front page open to a picture from a recent charity event and the headline: BRUCE WAYNE PAINTS GOTHAM A STEAMY SCARLET WITH SURPRISE DATE SELINA KYLE.
"Slow news day?"
He chuckles but doesn't look up.
She leans over his desk a little. "It's a nice picture," she admits, then looks closer. "Vicki Vale can't get enough of you, huh?"
"Our relationship ended amicably, not necessarily mutually."
"Noted." She tilts her head, tracing the picture. "Where is Selina, anyway? I haven't seen her around."
"She's been keeping out of trouble." She can tell there's a surprisingly hanging in the air after that sentence that he's just too nice to say. He's looking at her now, though his expression is too blank for her to read. "I actually spoke to her after being notified about the Harley Quinn incident. I thought it seemed a bit grand for her."
"What did she say?"
Zatanna thinks she sees a smirk. "She says that Harley's always been a psycho, one that will turn the world upside down for the sake of love."
And the thing is, Zatanna never understood that about love. It's probably because the only romantic kind of love she's ever witnessed is all of the sexual tension wafting around the League; it's love, no doubt, but not the kind makes you do stupid things. The most she can really, really consider dangerous about it is when it comes to the matter of revealing secret identities, but if someone like Bruce can learn to trust someone like Selina, then it's probably not all that irrational.
"So, did you want to tell me why you came in here or would you rather make more small talk?" Bruce asks, never one to beat around the bush for very long. "Not that I don't enjoy your company."
"Bruce… your folders…"
"They're your folders, not mine," he corrects. "Free to do whatever you want."
"I get the second folder, but the first one… How did you even find out all that information? My family is pretty," she searches for the right word, "scattered…"
"Like I said before, they weren't just from me. The League has a considerable amount of resources and connections."
She chews on her bottom lip but doesn't comment.
It's sweet, mostly, that they're going through the trouble of doing this. They probably didn't drop this on her sooner for fear that she would get the wrong message, like they were trying to get rid of her or something. It's absurd, because none of them are like that. But even if the choices are being handed to her on a silver platter, she has no clue what she wants to choose.
And this must be pretty evident by her reaction (or lack of reaction) because Bruce gives this small little smile, and uses this gentle voice he saves for Dick and special situations.
"You don't have to do anything if you're not ready. Just know that you have options and the time to make them."
She thinks about her father and how his time got cut short. Really, no one should be making promises like this that they can't completely control, but she feels better knowing that they're going to try.
Happy Harbor High just got out today, which means everyone on the Team is officially on summer break (Keystone High let out the week before, and Gotham Academy let out two weeks before that), so they invite her to go camping with them. Apparently it's been on their List of Things That Will Complete M'gann's Sitcom-Related Ideas of Earthly Experiences for a while and they haven't had time until now.
So of course she says yes.
Bruce hands her his credit cards and tells her to buy whatever she and Barbara need.
Honestly, if she weren't pretty excited to be going, she'd bother to point out that he's being awfully pushy about this. Maybe it's not necessarily just him, because she doesn't doubt Clark and Diana and some of the other Leaguers are encouraging this sense of normalcy in their very abnormal way of living, but he's usually more subtle about these things.
Actually, she's been noticing that things are different with him. Not a big deal kind of different, but definitely different.
"It's Selina," Barbara says bluntly when they're finishing their food court lunch and she's sipping on her smoothie. "There's practically no debate necessary, either."
"You think so?"
Even if she asks, Zatanna admits that she's been seeing Selina around Bruce a lot these past few weeks, even at the mansion. So much so that she actually questions how much she knows, and whether or not the League knows the full extent of this. Maybe just Clark and Diana.
"They've played their cat-and-bat game since before Robin came along," she reminds. "It was bound to happen."
"Maybe, but it's not like it's been just them. I mean, Bruce has dated his fair share of women. And I mean dated-dated, not like, just to fulfill his playboy-billionaire image."
"And I'm sure Selina's had men knocking down her door," Barbara agrees, "but even after all that, they continued to put on their costumes so that they could chase each other around. It's not that their pasts don't matter, but I think that their willingness to move on from their pasts together that made them how they are now. I mean, it's just a theory."
Zatanna purses her lips. "I'll never understand that."
"The funny part is that not understanding is the part people relate to most when it comes to love," Barbara reminds. "It's… what makes it love, I guess."
She laughs lightly. "You sound old. Or like you're speaking from experience." She arches an eyebrow. "How are you and Dick these days? A lot more arguing than I remember. Or is that part of it?"
Barbara kind of blinks for a minute before laughing, shaking her head. "It's not exactly like that, 'Tanna."
"Of course it isn't."
They actually hike to their campsite instead of pitching a few tents at the bottom of Mount Justice like she suspected, which adds to the authenticity of it all, so says Wally.
It's not just the eight of them, either, because Roy Harper and Donna Troy met them there and surprise them further by bringing along Kyle Rayner and Kara. She hasn't seen any of them in quite literally years, not counting the two seconds she may have seen them at the funeral, but they give her these bear hugs and jokingly warn her not to turn them invisible or something in their sleep.
She laughs. They're not supposed to be using their powers, to keep the experience as normal as possible, but they all know it's unlikely.
"No promises," she tells Kyle, and catches Kaldur laughing at her.
They're at the base of this mountain where there's an awesome lake, so they'll probably be swimming in it later. But for now, they're setting up tents. It's supposed to be warm and clear for the rest of the week, and Wally argues that they should sleep outside, but Dick and Roy get them to set up just in case.
She's two seconds away from muttering a spell under her breath when a voice asks, "Will this be your first time camping?"
It's Kaldur, and he smiles and takes the directions from her like he knows exactly what she was about to do.
"Not exactly, but the last time was when I was like, seven." She tilts her head. "What about you?"
"We do not go camping in Poseidonis."
He looks at her and she laughs because she's never seen him smirk before, but that face would probably be the one. "Shut up!" He chuckles this time, shakes his head. (Well yeah, it was a stupid question, but it kind of just came out without her realizing it.) "I meant… Never mind. Trying to put that tent up made me dizzy or something."
"It is easy to want to use magic," he agrees, sounding like he knows the feeling well. He probably does.
And it's really nice having someone that can relate. They can all relate to the temptation of powers and everything, but it's just different with them.
He smiles and hands her a pole. "Shall we try this again?"
The sun is just above them when noon rolls around and they're pretty much set up for the next two nights. It's hot and they're all kind of starving, so their reward for finishing is changing into their bathing suits and jumping into the lake while M'gann and Kara offer to start making their lunch.
Zatanna stands knee-deep off to the side, one hand on her hip and the other shading her eyes.
Kaldur, Conner, and Roy are trying to wrestle each other to the deep end or something (she honestly doesn't know why), and Wally and Kyle are playing volleyball in the shallower end against Barbara and Artemis. She hears a familiar cackle and looks up to see Dick soaring through the sky, landing in the deeper end just close enough to completely drench her and Donna.
She laughs and wipes the water from her face, and Donna pulls her hair from its ponytail and runs her fingers through it.
"I kind of needed that."
Dick pops up out of the water between them and shakes out, hitting them with more droplets of water. "You're welcome," he laughs and Donna shoves him playfully. "Your turn!"
Zatanna kind of catches Barbara looking in their direction when she happens to turn her head, and the way she is watching Dick and Donna play around isn't exactly reassuring. It's crazy, because those two have been friends almost as long as Dick and Donna have and Barbara never seemed jealous. Maybe it was just because Zatanna was never around when both girls were in the same room with Dick, but still.
"'Tanna will dive with me, right?" Donna is suddenly asking, linking their arms together.
"Uh… I'll pass."
Dick snickers and Donna rolls her eyes. Her expression looks like she's about mutter something sarcastic, but instead she catches something over Zatanna's shoulder and kind of grins, yanking her closer. "Don't look now, but Kaldur is totally staring at you."
"He is?" Her obvious reflex is to look, but Donna pulls her around so that their backs are to the others. "It's probably nothing."
"It's not like he was looking in this general direction. He was looking at you," she informs, "And as a matter of fact, he has been looking at you since you met us at the Cave."
Her tone is dripping with suspicion and the expectation of an answer, but Zatanna presses her lips together and doesn't comment. It's not like she didn't notice it, but what should she say to that?
She only met Kaldur a few months ago, only sees him whenever the rest of the Team is present, and yet that first night she felt a kind of connection that got her to let out everything she hasn't been saying since her father died. If she's being honest, it's a little scary.
"It's okay, you know," Donna says softly. "To like him."
And Zatanna doesn't know if she means that it's okay to like someone she only sort of knows, or to move on with her life so she can like him, or…
Yeah, she just doesn't know.
After they've eaten several dozens of s'mores and finished their (poorly attempted) ghost stories, Zatanna offers to put out the fire while everyone else sets up the sleeping bags outside in a circle. Barbara is kind of storming past with Dick following her and asking, "What's wrong with you today? What did I do?" as she keeps walking away.
"Is something bothering Barbara?"
Kaldur is beside her and watching the two walk away, forehead creased in concern.
"Love makes you act psychotic," she shrugs, thinking back to what Bruce (okay, Selina) said about Harley Quinn and Joker… And then thinking about the first time she met Kaldur.
She clears her throat and dumps the rest of the water over the logs, extinguishing the last of the sparks. "I mean, not that I would know," she admits. He gives her this sort of look and she elaborates, "I traveled a lot with my dad, so it didn't really allow time for relationships or anything like that. I can only imagine how crazy something will drive you to make you a little insane."
"It does mess with your head," he agrees softly, and she shifts on her feet and is suddenly very curious as to what personal experience he's talking about.
"Does it?" She looks at him. "It sounds like you know…"
He kind of rubs the heel of his hand against his neck and looks at the lake. "I… nearly went back on my promise to my King about being his protégée because of Tula."
She blinks, surprised. "Tula, as in the friend you were telling me about?" He nods, and she glances around and wonders if Barbara felt anything like this. Of course, Barbara knows Donna, and she barely has any idea who Tula is. Then again, maybe not knowing how amazing this girl is could be a good thing. She's not sure which is worse yet.
"Yes, Tula. I fear that I would have gone back and missed out on being part of the Team and… meeting others, had she not been with Garth."
She sort of looks at him but keeps quiet.
It seems like a while has passed before he tells her, "It is something I am glad happened."
She grins to herself and watches Dick plop down onto the sleeping bag beside Barbara's despite the fact she is blatantly giving him the cold shoulder.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm glad, too."
They all lie down on their backs and stargaze. Artemis laughs when Wally drags her sleeping bag right next to his and pulls her close, resting her head on his shoulder. Conner knocks out about twenty minutes in, and M'gann kisses his forehead before turning on her side to talk with Kara and Roy. Donna and Kyle are the ones laughing the most because Dick and Barbara argue about constellations the entire time.
Kaldur points out the constellations of Greek mythology to her, softly, and she drifts to sleep after he tells her about the Pisces fish that were dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
She isn't usually a patient person because she's used to the instant gratification and waiting makes her anxious, so she doesn't even realize that she's tapping her heel-clad foot until there's a chuckle behind her and someone is asking, "If you're trying to crack the pavement, they have tools for that."
"Whatever," she laughs, pulling him into a tight hug. He squeezes back, and hands her ice-cream he must've gotten from the truck. "Hey, Zach."
"I'll admit that I was a little spooked that you found me."
She tucks her hair behind her ear and shrugs at her cousin a little. "Bruce helped. And everyone else in the League."
They start walking onto the pathway winding around the perimeter of the park, and Zach looks ahead at the kids on the play structure as he says, "I'm sorry."
He doesn't say anything after that, so it could mean he's sorry for not attending the funeral, or trying to contact her, or for her loss, or if he's just kind of saying sorry for all three of those things and a lot more in general. But she smiles anyway, dips her finger to get some of the whipped cream and sprinkles and runs it over the bridge of his nose.
A little after 3 o'clock in late August, Zatanna walks down the front steps beside Artemis, Barbara and Dick when Barbara (thankfully) interrupts their interrogation of her to smile and point ahead. Artemis laughs and shakes her head, slightly running until Wally has her arms around her and is pushing the strap of her bag off of her shoulders and teasing her about private schools and shorter summers.
Zatanna looks at the boy beside Wally, who is pulling his hands from his navy blue jacket pockets when she comes close.
"How was your first day?"
She laughs. "Different from being homeschooled," she admits. "Of course, being the unofficial newest addition to the Wayne family got me a lot of rep."
He chuckles and takes her bag from her, hooking it over his shoulder. He leans down a little to press a kiss to her forehead, and she closes her eyes and bites her lower lip when she smiles. She can't help but know that her father would have greatly approved of Kaldur and known that his little girl was going to be fine.
Title from "May Angels Lead You In" by Jimmy Eat World, which I listened to a lot while writing this.
A/n: This was written in excitement for Zatanna appearing on the show this week (: It was also one of those ideas that sound way better in my head, but I let it take a life of its own so I'd really appreciate the feedback. She's my absolute favorite Justice League girl so I had to write something for tomorrow!
So you read it. Love it? Hate it? Please review it!