Yes, tada, surprise, I have appeared once again, much to your probable frustration. The meeting part of this chapter. oh man did this one fight me. But I won!
Kind of. At least it's my longest chapter yet. So enjoy! (hopefully)
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot, both shows and comics belong to their respective owners.
"They're what?!" Wally gaped.
"Please," The captain grimaced, "Tell me at least a few of you have realized by now." He felt marginally better when various heads of the younger group nodded in the crowd.
"Of course." Kaldur spoke up. "But we are still unclear about what exactly happened. As far as I am aware, Scarecrow has never used a gas like this." He paused. "What exactly is going on?"
"That's what we'd like to know." Rukia said, suddenly appearing next to the captain. The heroes startled as two others seemed to pop into existence with her.
"What the-How-how did you get there?!" The flash stammered.
"That's not important right now. What matters is that we're sitting ducks out here if the Arrancar or hollows decide to come back. We need to get somewhere safe and trade information." Hitsugaya told them.
"Okay, wait just a minute!" Green Arrow pushed his way to the front. "Just how long have you all been here! How come we haven't been able to see you?"
"We've been here the entire time." Rangiku answered. "You just couldn't see us."
"It is true." Martian Manhunter spoke. The gathering turned towards him. "I've been sensing a strange presence since we got here, but it has only recently gotten stronger." He looked passed the Shinigami. "There are more of you."
"Yes." The blonde nodded, relieved that at least one adult had some sense.
"Then why can't we see you?" Black Canary asked.
"Normal humans rarely have the ability to see us; and before you say anything, it's almost unheard of for a meta-human to be able to see us. Whatever this gas is, it seems to have unlocked your latent ability to see the dead." Hitsugaya explained. He was, admittedly, a little satisfied at their flabbergasted visages. Even the man-bat looked surprised.
"Well what'd ya think we were? Fairies?" Renji scoffed, smirking at their evident shock.
"Let me get this straight," Superman paused, looking at them with disbelief. "You're all...dead?"
"Yes." Hitsugaya confirmed. He resisted the urge to impatiently tap his foot.
"Then how can we see you?" Batman asked, referring to the adults.
"We are in fake bodies. Don't even start Kurosaki." Said redhead closed his mouth, about to object and say that his body was very real. Though thankfully, it was still at his house. He ignored the elder heroes slightly puzzled looks, since to them it seemed as though he were talking to the air.
"If you really are the spirits of the dead, why are you here?" The dark knight continued.
"We are called Shinigami, who are part of the Gotei 13 and our job is to protect the spirits of the dead. We come to the human realm in order to help souls who haven't passed on to do so, and protect them from monsters called Hollows, who eat spirits." He explained. Ukitake snapped his phone shut and walked up to his fellow captain, whispering in his ear.
"The Sou-taichou wishes for the heroes to be brought in. A meeting is being called for all captains and vice-captains."
Hitsugaya nodded. "Alright." He turned back towards the heroes. "I suppose a proper introduction is in order. I am Hitsugaya Toshiro, 10th Division Captain of the Gotei 13." He reintroduced. "Behind me are my Lieutenant Matsumoto Rangiku, and the Lieutenants of the 6th and 13th divisions, Abarai Renji and Kuchiki Rukia, respectively."
Batman nodded and seemed about to introduce the others when Kid Flash intervened.
"Excuse me?" The young captain asked, eyes narrowing.
"What's Robin's Ranking? Does he have one?" The boy insisted, pushing to the front.
"...He is my third seat." A tense silence settled over the groups, one side seeing more and more of the possibility of Robin actually being Richard Grayson, while the other waited for Hitsugaya to speak. A shrill noise rang out, surprising everyone as the Shinigami pulled phones out of their pockets and flipped them open.
"Unohana!" Toshiro called back, "Is he ready to be moved yet?"
"Very carefully, but yes." She responded. By this time, Robin had succumbed to unconsciousness.
"Good. Because we've got company. Get him through the Senkaimon. Kurosaki, you go with them. We'll handle things here. Take the meta-humans with you."
"What? No way! I'm not leaving when-" The substitute began to protest.
"No,You're injured! Make sure everyone gets through that gate and follow them. We'll see you in the meeting." When it looked like the boy would still protest, Hitsugaya pulled out the dirty tactics. "Make sure Robin gets there safely." Even though the boy was being transported by captains, Hitsugaya knew the substitute would be paranoid enough that something could go wrong.
"...Tch." Ichigo turned towards the door, scowling. "Fine."
When the heroes still hadn't moved, Hitsugaya glared. "Are you going to follow him or what?"
"Will we find out what's going on?" Crow stepped forward, asking.
"If everything goes well, yes."
"Can we talk to Robin?" Tim continued, already heading for the gate.
"Just go!" The captain hissed. As the junior heroes began to move forward, their seniors spoke up.
"No one's going anywhere, especially when we still can't see them!" Superman decided, grabbing Conner's shoulder.
"Oh for the love of-screw it!" Wally yelled, throwing his hands up and abandoning his place at the front of the pack. In the blink of an eye he was limp-running circles around the senior heroes, stirring up the fog which had just begun to dissipate. The senior heroes yelled as they were caught in the whirlwind, coughing on the gas as it coalesced around them. After making sure they each had a good lungful, he made a B-line for the Senkaimon, seeking a quick escape from the no doubt furious mentors, but was stopped by Ichigo's hand on his shoulder, whom nodded in Unohana's direction.
"Let them get through first. They need a clear path for the relief station." Wally could only nod mutely as he caught sight again of the injured boy.
Chaos erupted around them as the angry heroes escaped the whirlwind, and multiple tears opened in the sky, announcing the arrival of the Hollows.
"Kid, what the hell were you-"
"No time!" Renji interrupted Flash, "Get through the gate!" The shinigami abandoned their Gigais and jumped behind the heroes, already prepared to take down the monsters. When the elder meta's simply looked on at the approaching monsters, shocked as they slowly became visible, Hitsugaya released a wave of freezing reiatsu, just enough to send all the stragglers stumbling forward. When it looked like they would still try to turn back and-Kami forbid-try to help, they suddenly seemed to be quite taken with the gate, and quickly passed through without little incident.
Unbeknownst to Hitsugaya, the only reason they moved through without complaint was because Batman caught sight of the injured Robin as he was moved through the gate. That, more than anything, convinced him to move. And when Batman moves, others have a tendency to follow.
The captain sighed when the gate closed, leaving only the four Shinigami in the clearing of Hollows.
"Let's get this over with."
To say the heroes were surprised when they exited the gate and found themselves in a long, dark passage lit only by the path at their feet, would be an understatement. Not that they were sure what to expect anyway, since they'd mostly only followed with the determination not to lose sight of Robin.
"Please keep moving," A man with long white hair said, turning to them. "Our path will not last forever, and we cannot afford to pause for long." He continued forward, and the heroes followed cautiously. Batman moved to the front of their group, intent on speaking with the man. He heard Kid Flash whisper-hiss an "I told you they were real!" to his uncle, who jabbed the boy in his ribs. Batman silently tread to the others side, thousands of questions already spinning through his mind. All of which he would get answers for.
Silence reigned for a moment as he decided which to ask first.
"I apologize, you must be confused." The other began, "But I''m going to have to ask that most of your questions wait. They will be answered, I assure you, and a meeting has already been called to clear any confusion on both sides." When Batman nodded he continued, "My name is Ukitake Jushiro, Captain of the 13th Division. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Batman, co-founder of the Justice league." He narrowed his eyes at Ukitake. "Where exactly are we going?"
"The Soul Society, though I suppose you you could call it the spirit world. It is the resting place for dead souls. More specifically we are entering the Seireitei, head quarters of the Gotei 13." His voice rose near the end, already knowing the other heroes were listening and deciding to address all of them.
"Will we still be alive once we enter?" Batman asked sharply. If going to the Soul Society meant dying, he was turning this party right back around, monsters and villains be damned. Though a small voice in the back of his head spoke up, 'will you leave Dick again?' He aptly tried to ignore the sting in his chest. The boy may look like his lost son, but what were really the chances of it being true?
A small chuckle broke through his thoughts. "No need to worry, you are all very much alive, and shall remain as such throughout your stay." He assured.
A couple sighs of relief could be heard in the background, while Batman simply nodded and contemplated what to ask next. While there were certainly more important questions that could be asked, the presence of the boy on the stretcher nagged at his senses. From what Young Justice had been saying, the boy was in fact their Robin, simply by looks alone. Add that to the recent information that they were in the company of the dead, and the likeliness grew even more, and, assuming that the dead no longer aged by the claim Hitsugaya (who looked like a child) had made about being older than them, it would make sense that he still looked to be fourteen instead of sixteen. His mind began a war with itself, Bruce Wayne, the father, demanded to know more, to chase his child down and never let go, while Batman, though feeling the fathers pain, argued that the case came first.
Damian stepped up to them, back straight and head high, just how his father taught. "How long has Robin been with you? How long has he been dead?" The question was key, the deciding factor to the mystery, and Batman could practically see the thoughts and hopes flickering through his eldest sons stony face.
"Robin?" Ukitake repeated, surprised by the sudden change in subject. He hummed thoughtfully, "Well, souls can take different amounts of time to reach the Seireitei after their deaths, so he could have already been dead for years. But I would say he's been with us about two years now? He's scaled the ranks so quickly, quite a feat you know."
The heroes though, almost didn't hear the man's last sentence, so shocked were they at the concrete proof that it had to be their Robin, who had died two years ago. All the pieces fell into place like some screwed up puzzle that screamed of second chances and the hope of being forgiven. Bruce had to resist the sudden, violent urge to run and grab his son, take him away and bring him back home. From the corner of his eye, he could already see Jason twitch forward, but gave a small signal for him to stay with the group. Another signal and the Martians had telepathic communication up and running, along with the chaotic thoughts of his allies.
He sent a stern vibe through the connection, urging them to quiet, which they reluctantly did.
"It really is Dick." Miss Martian breathed out in wonder.
"I say we take 'im and run." Jason urged. There was a small chorus of agreement.
"Maybe, once we explain who he is, they'll let him come home?" Megan ventured hopefully.
"Not likely. Did you see how they reacted to us before? Especially that white haired kid, they were pretty protective of him. I doubt they'd give him up so easily." Roy grunted, "Besides, whether we like it or not, he's still dead. We don't know if he could come back with us."
"There is also the problem of his memory." Kaldur added.
"Could I ask why you seem so interested in the boy?" Jushiro interrupted, watching with slight confusion as the heroes gestured and looked strangely at one another, even though no one was speaking.
"There's something we'd like to discuss with you in the meeting." Was Batman's only reply. The captain looked at him oddly, but nodded none the less.
"No. Wait for the meeting." He said with finality, challenging anyone to speak further.
A light appeared in front of the group. A woman at the front announced their arrival.
"We are approaching the gate, please stay close and do not wonder off."
A mental order went out to be prepared as they passed through the gate and entered the Seireitei.
The heroes (though mostly the junior ones) looked around in wonder at the new world while shielding their eyes from the sudden light of day. People in black uniforms passed two and fro, barely sparing the heroes a glance. The day was clear and shined down on the Japanese buildings, and they noticed a strange sense of power seemed to litter the air itself. The polished green floor reflected under their feet as they crossed the large, open space. The giant gate behind them was slowly closed by another squad of Shinigami.
They had neared the end of the clearing when the tallest woman Shinigami stopped, turning to scrutinize them. She motioned for the two with the stretcher and Robin to continue walking. "Get him to the prep room as quickly as you can and set him up for the procedure. I will join you in a moment."
"I believe a quick stop at the relief station is in order for some of you." She continued.
Ukitake frowned. "But we have to get to the-"
"The meeting can wait for a moment. It wouldn't do to have our guests fainting from blood loss in the middle of such an important talk, now would it? Besides, we must wait for Hitsugaya-taichou and the Lieutenants before it can begin." Juushiro quelled under her sharp gaze. Young justice looked at their injuries, most having already stopped bleeding.
"Ah, well, yes. I suppose you're right. I'll just go inform the others." He turned to the heroes and nodded. "It was a pleasure to meet you all." The man walked ahead and disappeared around the corner.
It was a quiet walk to the fourth division, though the tattered group made quite a spectacle for the passing Shinigami. Their whispers and wondering theories were the only sounds besides the shuffle of feet.
Inside the relief station, they were taken to one large room (since the heroes refused to be separated) and approached by some of the wimpiest Shinigami they had seen so far. Unohana left after making sure they were being taken care of, hopefully to tend to the injured Robin. The redhead, Kurosaki, Damian murmured, opted to stay and watch them, and was helped by a skittish young man.
It took about thirty minutes until they were all mostly healed. Apparently Shinigami preferred to let bodies heal on their own, so only the worst of the injuries and pain was taken, things that would get in the way of their duties.
"You guys ready to go?" Ichigo asked, leaning against the door frame. His face seemed to be stuck in a perpetual scowl. The heroes nodded, and were about to head out when a feminine voice called out to them.
"Kurosaki-kun!" A girl-a beautiful one at that, ran up to them, her long, sunset hair trailing in her wake. Unlike everyone else, she did not wear the Shinigami uniform, and instead sported a thin sweater and a long, patterned skirt.
"Oh, Orihime." He greeted back, expression softening slightly. "I didn't know you were here."
"I was called in by Isane-san!" She happily responded, then leaned up and whispered something in his ear. The boy looked greatly relieved when she finished, even managing to smile and thank her.
Wally meanwhile, gave an almost silent whistle. "She's hot." He was quickly jabbed in the ribs by Artemis, who growled and tugged on his ear.
"What was that Kid Flirt?" She hissed.
"N-nothin' babe! I swear!" They hadn't quite beaten out his vocal appreciation of other girls, nor his habit to flirt, but they were working on it.
"That's what I thought." Jason and a few others snickered.
"Are you coming to the meeting?" Ichigo asked.
"Mhm! Chad and Ishida-kun too! But they're already there." She quietly clapped her hands together.
"Strange, they don't usually invite anyone other than captains and vice-captains to meetings."
"Well I think they wanted a couple more living people there? The Soul Society is pretty behind on the times after all. They probably thought we could work as translators or something?" That was a highly unlikely scenario, but it was a theory at least.
"Wait," The Flash spoke up, "You're a living person? Not dead?"
Orihime turned to him and smiled. "Yes. Kurosaki-kun too!"
The heroes stared at the Shinigami in confusion.
"Yeah." He responded.
"I thought Shinigami were dead spirits?"
"I'm a special case." Was his only response, shrugging. "We should get to the meeting." He turned and began walking away, motioning for them to follow.
"He doesn't seem to like us very much." Miss Martian murmured.
"I wouldn't either, if some strangers almost got my friend killed and then refused to give him back." Zatanna responded, trying to look at it from his perspective. She received a few irritated grumbles for her thoughts.
The walk to the meeting was silent, the heroes mostly trying to memorize the path should an escape be needed. Honestly, the teens were mostly exhausted and wanted to get the talking over with, but they had a lot of questions too, and planned to see them all answered. Especially the ones about Robin.
They approached a large pair of doors, which Ichigo pushed open as though they were nothing, to reveal a large room. Inside the room were four neat lines of people, the inner two rows wearing similar white coats over their Shinigami Uniforms, while the outer line had nothing. The empty line between the rows led straight to a chair where an incredibly old looking man with a long, white beard sat. Two more men stood nearer to the entrance, a little to the side, both wearing regular human clothes. As the doors opened, all heads turned towards the newcomers. They noted that Hitsugaya and company had already returned, and a few were glaring from their spots in line, though their condition looked no worse for ware than when they were last seen.
The sheer amount of power that radiated through the room, suppressed as it may be, still put the heroes on edge, causing a ripple of, not fear, exactly, but something to travel up their spines.
"Guests" The old man spoke, power thrumming lowly in his voice. "Step forward."
The heroes did so, Batman and the other league members taking the front, while the young adults spread neatly behind. They stopped at the beginning of the shinigami rows, and spread out, creating something of a half-circle. Orihime approached the two men at the side, while Ichigo shrugged and stood at the end of the captains line. The old man seemed to have no objections to their formation, and moved ahead.
"I am Yamamoto Genryusai, Head-Captain of the Gotei 13. These are the Captains and Vice-Captains of the 13 Court guard Squad. I have called you here today in order to discuss a very...peculiar, situation."
Batman nodded, deciding to act as the current spokesperson for their group. "We have some questions of our own that would like to be discussed before the meetings end." He spoke, voice emotionless.
The Head-Captain nodded. "Have you already been informed of the premise of the Gotei 13?" He asked.
"To an extent, yes. Though I would appreciate a more thorough run-through of exactly who and what you are."
He listened carefully as the old man gave them a quick run-down of what their organization was, including it's structure and main focuses, committing it to memory for a new record in the Batcave. He still found himself mildly surprised that he was, in fact, in the presence of the dead, though apparently not everyone traveled to the 'Soul Society' after their deaths.
He found himself mildly appalled after learning exactly what a Hollow was.
"If you have any further questions on this subject, you can approach the captains after the meeting is finished." Yamamoto ended, watching the heroes for their reactions.
Batman nodded, and sent a hard look at the leader. "I assume you are already aware of our existence?" He responded, displeased at the thought of already being a known variable by a previously unknown organization, dead status be damned.
The commander nodded, moving on. "Now onto our main topic," He rumbled out, "It seems this 'Scarecrow', a previous enemy of yours, has come into league with the beings of our realm, specifically the Arrancar and their unknown master." He started, having already received a report on the mission. "And through collaboration have begun making Hollows visible to humans. Have you any idea how this is possible?"
"Scarecrow usually fights through a series of gases and poisons that confuse and debilitate the senses into chaos, causing hallucinations of an incredibly strong and violent nature, which prey upon the victims worst fears and nightmares, often driving them to insanity. The effects of the gas cause the victim to either kill themselves or die from its poisonous effects." Batman informed them.
Various members of the Gotei 13 couldn't help but wince at the explanation, trying not to imagine facing such a situation.
The old man narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. "Do you suppose it would be possible for him to create a gas that solidifies Hollows to the human senses?"
"It's entirely possible." The bat responded. The commander contemplated his words for a moment, causing a heavy silence to blanket over the area.
"What exactly had your team been doing before the attack?" He asked.
Damian quickly stepped up, ignoring his fathers warning glance. "We had been tracking Scarecrow after his escape from Arkham Asylum. We chased him from Gotham to the warehouse district of Karakura."
"Was the villain of such importance that you had to send such a large team?" He asked, finding it strange to send so many after one man.
"No. Not usually. We were also...visiting a friends grave." Damian finished, somewhat hesitantly. The warehouse wasn't Robins grave, exactly, but he wouldn't tell them the full story on that. At least, not right now.
Yamamoto ceased his questioning, seemingly satisfied with the answer.
"What was your team doing before they entered the fight?" Batman responded in kind.
After receiving a nod from Yamamoto, Hitsugaya stepped forward. "We had been deployed earlier that day to investigate hollow sightings in Karakura. It seems the town was a testing ground for the gas, though it seemed to be in much more diluted form, since it was colorless and didn't cause full visibility. At first we had simply thought it to be out-of-season fog."
Before he could continue, Tim stepped up beside his brother, catching the halls attention.
"That's actually similar to something that's been happening in Gotham." He reported.
"Batman, don't you remember all those reports and rumors going around about monsters in the city? And the overabundance of fog going around? We'd just written it up to being leftover effects of Scarecrows last attack, but what if he'd been experimenting in Gotham before Karakura town?" He asked, looking at his father.
"Wait!" Kid Flash called out, running forward, "I've been hearing about the same stuff happening in happy harbor whenever we visit the town! It's really starting to freak the locals out."
"Happy Harbor.." Batman murmured, unsettled at the prospect of enemies being so close to the mountain.
"Do you know about any other towns with similar reports?" The commander asked, and nodded to himself when the reply was a negative. "Then it seems we have no choice but to assign a team to investigate these two cities, seeing what little information we have to act on." He decided.
"Whoa, whoa, no one's allowed in Gotham but us." Jason motioned towards the rest of his family, not at all liking the idea of working with the Shinigami. He ignored the looks from them for disrespectfully addressing their 'great leader'.
"Well you'll just have to make an exception this time, youngun'." The commander responded with narrowed eyes, "unless of course, you're actually a Soul Reaper and know how to safely destroy the beasts?" When Jason's only response was an intense glower, he continued. "Then it's settled, we'll send a team to-"
"You can't just decide that for yourselves-" Damian started with a growl, but was stopped when a hand landed on his shoulder.
"It's alright." Batman said, then raised his voice so the entire hall could hear. "We'll allow it, for now. They'll just have to stay at the mountain with the rest of the team." He gave a hard look towards the old man, ignoring the agitated grumbles from some of the team.
"I'd like for you and your older colleagues to stay after the meeting to discuss specifics, since it appears the children are becoming...restless." Yamamoto decided, motioning with his cane to the younger heroes who immediately, and loudly, let their protests be known. Despite the fact that they were tired and sore, and still nursing some injuries, not to mention emotionally imbalanced, they were still prepared to stay for the full session. And it only pissed them off more to be called children. It was worse than Sidekick at this point.
They were quickly silenced however, when Batman sent his famous glare their way.
"I agree." And as the teens brought their objections to voice, he spoke louder. "Now if that's all, we still have one topic to discuss" The heroes immediately silenced, anticipation coming over their features.
The shinigami looked on in confusion at the sudden display of interest.
"And that would be?" Their leader asked.
Silence echoed around the hall, before a cold voice snapped out, "Just what is your obsession with my third seat?" Attention was quickly turned towards the agitated captain. "You've been acting overly familiar with him since the moment you got your hands on him, which, may I remind you, almost killed him."
"We didn't mean to!" Artemis hissed back, "It's just-we were-we were surprised and panicked a little."
"Why would you panic after meeting him for the first time?" Juushiro asked, the current topic of conversation making little to no sense to him and the other soul reapers.
"Because it's not our first time meeting him!" Wally responded, his thoughts scattering in too many directions too quickly. "And after everything that happened, after he died, we-we didn't think we'd ever see him again..." He trailed off, suddenly feeling a little lost as memories of the past were brought to the surface.
"...Wherever this conversation is going, I believe you should start from the beginning." The commander stated, watching them expectantly.
Damian quickly stepped up, cutting off the other heroes. "Our friend Robin died two years ago in the line of duty. Today we met a boy named Robin who's been in the Soul Society for two years. Everything about him matches our friend, down to the voice, eye color, and the scars, not to mention the fact that they both share the status of being dead." He finished, "It can't be a coincidence."
"Perhaps not." Yamamoto allowed, "But have you any proof? You've just placed yourselves in a very precarious situation. We have no reason to believe what you say other than your claims and knee-jerk reactions during this disaster of a mission."
The heroes stared at him in disbelief. He wanted proof? Where were they supposed to get proof of his existence, from out of their asses? It wasn't as though they carried pictures with their supplies; all they had now were memories of the boy.
Memories..." Uncle J'onn!" Miss Martian trilled, jumping into the air. "Memories! With your help we can show them memories!" She smiled. The older martian gave a small smile in return and floated to her side in front of the group.
"My uncle and I," She explained to their confused audience, "We can use our powers to tap into some ones mind and show you our memories of Robin. Would that be proof enough for you?" The girl asked hopefully.
"I will allow it. Whether or not it is sufficient is yet to be seen." He responded.
"Close enough for me!" Wally cheered, running up to the Martians. "I volunteer! Me!" The two aliens nodded, much to the chagrin of Jason and a few others, who'd been about to volunteer themselves.
"Well aren't you eager." Renji scoffed quietly, though apparently loud enough for the speedster to hear.
"Of course," The redhead glared, "He's my best friend. I have a lot of memories of the kid." He tapped his head as if to say 'see?'. "That ok with you Miss M?"
"Of course." She nodded, then linked hands with her uncle as they both lightly placed their fingers against the redheads temple. "Now concentrate on a memory and we'll project it." Wally made a noise of affirmation as a green glow emitted from both Martians eyes.
The environment flickered around the congregation, causing the Shinigami to tense and instinctively reach for their weapons. As it stabilized into what looked like a forest, a voice rang out.
"Please don't panic! None of this is real, we're just getting a 360 degree view of the memory." She informed them. The shinigami looked around for a moment, intrigued since there was no indication of the original hall. The projection was indeed very realistic.
As the memory began, figures swept through the trees, and they barely caught sight of a black and yellow cape crashing through the canopy, before the scene suddenly flickered and changed to the inside of an airborne ship occupied by a group of teens, then the streets of a dark city during a fight, two male teens inside an ice cream parlor, a group chasing down a hulking figure, two boys laughing themselves into a fit on a green couch, a group of teens grappling over breakfast.
The scenes whirled by with increasing speed, barely allowing a glimpse to be caught before moving on.
/"C'mon Kid Dork!"/
The group of teens fighting over a holographic ring, a cackling laugh in the darkness-
Three teens fighting a robot in a gymnasium, two teens fighting aliens while the ship exploded around them-
A dim warehouse, a scream echoes around them-
Wally gave a surprised yelp as the projection abruptly cut off, rubbing his forehead where the female archer knocked him.
"She told you one memory Kid Flash, not one hundred." She reprimanded, hands on hips.
"Sorry babe," He said sheepishly, rubbing his neck as the Martians pulled back. "Mind runs a mile a minute 'n all that. Sorry guys."
Artemis just sighed and turned to face her green-skinned colleagues. "Look, we all know his concentration is crap. You may as well just use me and we can show them some stuff from the Homefront incident. Since it was mostly just me and Robin, it puts the spotlight on him the pretty much the entire time." At Megan's nod, she turned towards their audience. "Is it alright that we give it another shot?"
The Shinigami, who had been contemplating the snippets of memories, and the admittedly very familiar voice once they gained back their equilibrium, looked towards their leader.
"Continue." He responded, admittedly intrigued by the Martians ability.
Megan and her uncle repeated the process as they had with the speedster, and the setting came on quickly, changing the room into a dim alley during the evening. They watched as Artemis walked down, stopping at a debilitated phone booth. Her image gasped in surprise as a figure walked out from behind her with a greeting. The Shinigami took in his appearance, which looked admittedly like their Robin, sans the eye scar. He wore a tight, form-fitting suit in contrast to the traditional Soul Reaper garb, with short sleeves and extended gloves. A black and yellow cape hung from his shoulders along with a domino mask on his face that shifted with every expression he made. An 'R' sat proudly above his heart. Throughout the exchange, he kept a knowing smirk on his features.
/"I'm, uh, here to see my cousin! She was in the state spelling bee. Here. In Gotham. City." Artemis stuttered slightly.
"C-o-o-l." Robin responded, "Did she w-i-n?"
"N-o." The girl glared.
"D-r-a-g" The boy continued, obviously amused./
Hitsugaya groaned, resisting the urge to face-palm as a few others chortled and smirked. That sounded exactly like something his friend would say.
Light flared as Robin disappeared in the phone booth, Artemis's image, and therefore the scene, following soon after.
As the light faded, dark smoke filled the area and the Archer gasped once again.
/"Get down!" Robins voice called through the chaos, just as a ball of fire flew straight forward. She dodged and Robin back-flipped into view, throwing strange, exploding discs at the unknown enemy.
"Who are we fighting?!" She called, notching and firing arrows quickly.
"Don't know, but we're sitting ducks by these tubes." He answered calmly. "Head for the exit!"
Fire dogged the two as they entered the hallway, only to turn as water flooded the other side.
"Or not." Robin backtracked, but couldn't avoid being swept away with the other./
"Did Robin not have any powers while he was alive?" Juushiro asked, watching the two teens struggle through the water and fire, running into a work-out room. He winced, both at the thought of the young boy being so situationally vulnerable, and the explosion that knocked both from their feet.
"No. But he was a professional acrobat and trained in multiple styles of martial arts. Being human did not make him weak." Batman informed them, catching on to Ukitake's thoughts. "He was trained for his job." The vigilante had seen whatever footage could be scrapped together on the incident being shown, but seeing it this way allotted a much clearer and in-depth view, as the teens ran into the adjoining shower room and turned on each shower to defend against the fire-tornado on their heels.
"That...actually makes a lot of sense. He's always acted like an experienced fighter." Rangiku said thoughtfully. "I suppose even death can't take away hard-earned skills."
/"At least the water's helping." Robin sighed./
She winced as the pipes exploded, filling the room around them with water, quickly over taking them. The real occupants of the room had to remind themselves to breath, as the realistic seeming water rose above them.
/"Or not." He muttered lightly. They floated in the water until Robin stuck another Birdarang on the wall, causing it to collapse and spill them into the next hallway, where they ran into the kitchen. "We need to get lost."
"The air-vent!" Artemis exclaimed, running farther into the room./
The viewers watched quietly as the two made their way through the vents, a few gasping when the boy came within inches of being fried alive in the ducts. They skittered quickly into what looked like a boiler room, dodging fire the entire way, and jumping into another access tunnel.
/That's it. All four are dead." Robin said, watching the static on the security screens. Behind him, Artemis gasped in shock. "The cameras! I-I meant the cameras." He soothed, ignoring her reproachful look./
"Smooth." Jason snorted as the duo made their way to the library, swiftly encountering their two enemies, whom they learned to be androids. They beat a hasty retreat and the memory sped up, as though on fast forward, until the two were again swept up by water and encountered the male android, whom Robin was quick to stab in the eye with a discarded arrow when his teammate was threatened, and jettisoned them away, leaving a trail of explosives in his wake. They surfaced in the hanger, where they soon faced both robots head on.
/"I'm almost out of arrows!" Artemis informed the other, as they were back to back on the staircase.
"Distract her, now!" He replied, running at the being ascending from the water. He threw two birdarangs, which bounced off and careened to the side, one almost sticking Kid Flash in the head. The fighting heroes dove off the stairs and into the water, retreating./
"You'd think he would realize by then that such weapons were useless." Sui-Feng said aloud.
"Would you believe he did it on purpose?" Kid Flash responded, "He already knew it wouldn't work and just used the guy as a springboard to reach me."
"Why would he do that?"
"You can communicate through them. Notice how it wasn't set to explode?"
"...A smart move." She relented.
By the time their small conversation ended, the two teens had moved into another vent, where Artemis proceeded to have a small breakdown.
/"What do we do now?" She asked, breath heaving.
"We save them." Robin responded, as though it was that simple. "That's how it works"
"Maybe that's how it's supposed to work," She spat out, "But those robots already took out our four super-powered friends!"
Robin smirked. "You seem distraught."
She sputtered angrily in return. "Distraught?! M'gann is dying, we have no powers, and I'm down to my last arrow! OF COURSE I'M DISTRAUGHT" Artemis yelled, infuriated.
"Well get traught. or get. dead." He responded, suddenly very serious./
"That's definitely our Robin." Hitsugaya sighed despondently, all doubts erased after hearing Robin's common word play. The voices of a few others echoed their agreement
/"How can you be so calm?" she asked, voice cracking at the end./
Juushiro nodded at his fellow captain. "Alright then, I believe that's enough of the memor-"
/"Practice. Been doin' this since I was nine./
A sudden, tense silence stretched over the hall and the memory paused, flickering out.
"Did he say nine..?" Matsumoto breathed out, shocked.
"You sent a child out to be a soldier when he was nine?!" Some one cried out, prompting murmurs and exclamations to arise from the softer-hearted Shinigami.
"Yeah, he started when he was nine, and he was still kick-ass!" Jason yelled back. "It's not like he was facing down the big leagues at first. You start small and work your way up!"
Rukia stepped up, her displeasure evident. "Regardless, to encourage a child, a nine year-old into such a dangerous profession, you should have waited until he was older! Who knows how much earlier he could have died!"
"But he didn't die earlier!"
"He was 13."
"Oh like that's so much better!" Renji snapped "You can't just send a kid out and-
"Don't you dare try to make it sound like we forced this on him." Damian hissed. "He chose that life! He knew the risks and the rewards, he knew the dedication it would take and the likelihood of an early grave! He knew and he kept going, so don't you dare insult all his hard work!"
"What would make a child choose such a life so early on?" Juushiro asked the elder heroes.
"Death has a tendency to make people wish for change." Was Batman's response, catching the rooms attention "Robin just decided to stop wishing and start doing." There was no remorse or regret in his voice, just an undercurrent something they couldn't quite identify.
Toshiro couldn't help but wonder who's death lead to his friends subsequent career. He decided to save the question for later as the Yamamoto began speaking again.
"I believe that brings an end to the current topic, though I do have one more request." When he caught a subtle nod from the dark clad hero, he continued. "I want to see a memory of his eyes, uncovered." upon receiving strange looks from guests and Shinigami alike, he continued. "Bear with me."
"I got this covered." Jason volunteered, taking Artemis's place in front of the Martians.
"Alright. Do you have a memory?" M'gann asked, already laying a hand upon his temple. When he answered with a quick 'Gi'mme a sec', she turned her attention towards the Commander. "We'll be changing the view point this time, in order to get a close up look at Robin's face. We'll see everything directly as Red Hood would."
"I Got it." Jason declared, a satisfied smirk lighting upon his face.
"Somehow I don't think this is a good idea." Tim murmured suspiciously. "Nothing good ever happens when he looks that self-satisfied." Though his objection was too late, as the scenery changed to that of the entryway of an impressive kitchen, mid-morning judging by the light outside the large windows. The clink of metal on porcelain caused the view to turn towards one of the counters, where they could see the backside of a boy as he capped a milk jug and set it to the side. He turned, cereal bowl in hand, and revealed himself to be a barely awake Robin.
He ran a hand through his sleep-tousled hair, then moved it to adjust his navy sweatpants, and grumbled when the hand almost got caught in his overly long sleep-shirt. He moved sluggishly towards the island on one side of the kitchen, possibly not knowing, or not caring, about the new person in the kitchen.
/"Mornin' Boy Blunder."/ A voice rang out, presumably Jason's. Robin jumped in surprise, almost spilling his bowl onto the floor. /"Didn't even notice me? Looks like someones not following their training." Jason teased, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth and wagging a finger in the boys direction.
Robin recovered and turned towards his brother. "Go suck a lemon." He grumbled tiredly.
"Suck a lemon? Really?" He laughed, walking closer.
"Well it's not like a can say 'suck a dick' without it being turned back on me pretty fast." The boy replied drily.
"Oh the woes of being named Richard!" Jason snarked, leaning on the counter next to the boy./
As their viewpoint suddenly shifted in angle, it could only be assumed that Jason was striking a dramatic pose.
"His name was Richard?" Hitsugaya asked, not understanding what the name and word 'dick' had to do with each other.
"Yup." Jason responded, not even caring about the flack he would get later for revealing personal information.
/"Ahaha. Oh man, so funny." Robin said flatly, turning to grab a stool and sit down.
"Hey wait, is there something in your eye?" He asked, turning the boy back around.
"Uh, no. why?"
"Cause I thought I saw somethin'." He looked closer, grabbing his brothers face and leaning obnoxiously close, filling the view with the others two sleepy blue eyes. "Yeah! I do! Right there!" He leaned in further, until their noses were practically touching.
"Well? What is it?"
"It's the look of someone about to be suckered." Jason stage whispered, suddenly breathing out violently in his brothers eyes, causing him to jerk back in surprise, allowing the older boy the opportunity to reach down, snatch away the cereal bowl and sweep Robin's legs out from under him.
"Bwuh!?" The boy went down gracefully, smacking his backside against the ground./
The viewpoint suddenly turned back towards the kitchen exit as Jason fled the scene.
/"JASON!" Came the enraged yell from the now very awake Robin.
"Thanks Dickie-bird!" He cackled in return./
The memory flickered and dissipated, leaving only the snickers of those who found the scene amusing.
"Was that enough?" Miss Martian asked, retracting her fingers from her friends temple.
"It will do." Yamamoto said. "Now what exactly was the purpose of bringing up my subordinate in the first place?"
"We want to talk to him. Remind him of the past and try to get him to remember." Batman responded, the heroes behind him looking to the old man hopefully. Not that they wouldn't talk to him anyway, but it would probably go smoother with the guys permission.
"Oh hell no." A voice thundered out, sounding murderous.
Cliffhanger! Again! Sorry.
anyway, hope you enjoyed, and I'm not even going to lay out a hopeful due date for the next chapter, even though it's mostly written out.
Feel free to tell me if you noticed anything strange or out of place, and thanks for reading