I don't own Young Justice. This was originally written in response to a prompt on the anon meme, but has taken a bit of a life of its own.
"It is…an inconvenience," said Kaldur, his voice quiet, his posture calculated.
Dinah fixed him with a look.
"An inconvenience," she repeated skeptically, crossing her legs and settling back in her chair. "You've come to speak with me about an inconvenience."
"A distraction," Kaldur amended, frowning. "I do not wish for it to affect my performance on the team, or as leader. I had hoped you could help me to…overcome it."
"You may have to, you know, actually talk about it," said Dinah, raising an eyebrow. "Is that going to be a problem?"
Kaldur shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"No," he said finally.
"Good," Dinah nodded. "When did you first encounter this…distraction?"
Hesitating a moment, Kaldur contemplated his answer.
"It has been…a month, perhaps," he said. "I had hoped it would pass with time. But I find myself thinking of it more often, rather than less and I…I am at a loss."
"Did anything cause it? Or did it just sort of happen?"
"It was related to our training exercise," he admitted quietly.
"The extraterrestrial scenario?" Dinah checked, and he nodded. "What about it?"
"Just before I sacrificed myself for the others, when I realized I would die, a…a thought came to me. It was surprising, even to me, and I have been unable to shake it since."
"Kaldur, if we're going to make any progress here, you're going to need to be a little more specific."
Closing his eyes, Kaldur nodded.
"Just before I passed, I found myself wishing another were there with me. Not because I willed their death, but because I wanted them to see that my own was noble. I wanted them to know that I had done my…our work justice."
"So this distraction is a person," Dinah confirmed.
"And a hero."
Kaldur tensed, realizing he'd given away too much already, but he could not deny what he'd already let slip.
"And not Aquaman."
"No!" Kaldur protested, his head jerking up. "No, I…it was not that…that sort of thought."
If it was even possible, Dinah thought she might have seen the Atlantean blushing. To be sure, that last comment had made him flustered. Could it be…?
"Kaldur…do you have a crush?" she asked, trying not to look amused. Kids took these things so seriously.
"No," he murmured, rubbing the back of his hand uncomfortably. "It is…worse than that."
She raised an eyebrow.
"You're in love, then."
He pushed his face into his hands wearily, staring at the ground through his fingers and letting out a deep breath.
"I fear it is so."
Had it been anyone else, she might have laughed, but Kaldur was not one for drama or exaggeration. If anything, he was frequently too serious. This was unexpected, but she had to take it at face value. She frowned.
"Kaldur, most people welcome that sort of feeling. Why are you letting it eat at you like this?"
"Many reasons," he sighed, straightening out to look over at her. "I cannot pull my mind away from it. I am compromised, as a leader and a team member. I am a danger to my teammates every moment it distracts me from our missions and I..and I have no hope that any good will ever come of it."
"That is irrelevant," he objected.
"I don't think it is," said Dinah, leaning forward and clasping her hands on her lap. "Feelings like this – like love – don't just go away because you want them to. If you can't stop thinking about, then perhaps that's a sign you should do something about it instead."
"With all due respect, I have encountered this problem before, and I have learned that it is better to wait for it to pass. I simply wish to learn how to…hurry the process along. For the team's sake. And for my own."
"Kaldur, one experience can't tell you everything there is to know about love," she said gently. "I think I would know."
As he turned to stare out the window for a moment, Kaldur's expression grew more and more conflicted until he returned his gaze to her and shook his head.
"I cannot," he said, his voice slightly hoarse. "Even if…even if I had not already felt this way once before, even if I had not learned how it must inevitably end, I assure you, there is no point in taking action. My feelings would never be reciprocated."
"And why is that?"
"I am well acquainted with this…this person. And I am certain that if they felt anything of what I feel, they would have already approached me."
"Do I know this person?" Dinah asked, cutting him off.
Kaldur looked at her uncomfortably.
"That's a yes, then. Is it a member of your team?"
"I do not see the value of – "
" – I'm trying to help you, Kaldur. Let me."
"No. It is no one on the team."
"Then it's Roy."
He said nothing, just stared at the carpet, looking like he wanted to sink right through it and all the way back down into Atlantis.
"It's understandable," said Dinah, her voice gentler now as she watched him. He looked so damn miserable. It was impossible not to feel sorry for him. "You've been friends for years, so you were already close. And he's done quite a bit of changing lately, what with the solo act and the new name and the new attitude. It makes perfect sense that your feelings would change too."
"You must see what I am saying, then," Kaldur replied, not lifting his eyes from the floor. "He – Red Arrow – Roy – is…direct. If he shared my feelings, he would not hesitate in coming forth with them. Since he has not, I must assume he does not. This is my own burden."
"Look, Kaldur," Dinah said, leaning back once more and looking him over critically. "I understand what you mean about Roy going for the things he wants, but have you considered that he could be a little more complicated than you're giving him credit for?"
"I do not follow."
"You're his best friend in this world," she said flatly. "Perhaps his only friend, now that he's cut off ties with Green Arrow and most of everyone else. I think you owe it to him to be honest. And if he isn't interested, he isn't the type to avoid you for laying yourself out there, either, so you can't possibly be worse off than you are now, moping around and letting it distract you from your responsibilities."
"I…" Kaldur hesitated, biting his lip. "I cannot, he would – "
"You're not going to get peace of mind until this is resolved," Dinah interrupted, an air of finality to her voice. She uncrossed her legs and stood up, one hand on her hip. "So I'm giving you an official assignment to deal with this however you see fit, so long as it is not just brooding more. You've clearly done enough of that."
"That is a…a most untraditional assignment," he murmured uncomfortably.
"You've fought tougher battles," she said, turning to go. "I know you can make it through this one, too. Good luck, Kaldur'ahm. Have a little faith in yourself, all right? I don't mean to overstep my bounds or make any insensitive fish jokes, here, but you're a great catch. Roy should consider himself lucky."
Kaldur watched her go, then turned his gaze back to the window. It seemed he had a mission…and no team to back him up on it, either.