He's as delighted as anyone to hear about Roy's induction to the League, and gives the archer a Atlantean celebratory chest thump in commemoration. Robin and Wally are all over him, of course, cracking jokes and pounding him on the back and just generally whooping it up. Superboy just snorts and shakes his head—he and Roy never really hit it off—but M'gann seems happy that everyone else is happy, and even Artemis gives a little smirk. Zatanna just shakes her head, but she climbs in the bioship with the others.
It's a happy occasion, which means nearly everyone else is already talking, and it's a mission, which means he doesn't have to speak up. So for once, Kaldur gets to sit back and just be invisible, as he observes his team.
Robin and Zatanna are just barely not-flirting near the front of the ship. It's amazing how quickly they seem to have gotten comfortable around each other, to the point where Robin isn't even bothering to show off anymore. He's still good at sneaking stealthy glances at the magician when she's not looking—or at least Kaldur thinks he is, until he notices a small mirror the girl is holding and a peculiar smile on her face.
Wally is talking smack with Roy (who Kaldur still has a hard time considering as part of the team) over on the left, and rather too obviously shunning Artemis. Kal supposes he should be glad they're not fighting anymore, but in a way the strange coldness that's sprung up between them is even worse. He didn't think Wally had it in him to be that serious. Especially with the way Artemis has been brooding lately. The Boy Wonder catches Kal's eye and jerks his head meaningfully at her—apparently Kal isn't the only one who's noticed. Kal shakes his head. Best to let her brood, for now. He's fairly certain her spirits should return once Roy's in the League and she's once again the uncontested Justice archer.
Superboy and M'gann are quiet. Perhaps too quiet, but it's impossible to tell with M'gann, they could be having a wild mental make-out session and the rest of the team would never know.
Frowning, Kal wills that image away. If M'gann were that distracted, this ship would be weaving and dodging all over the sky. No, they're just being quiet. Not so odd for Superboy, perhaps, but rather strange for M'gann. She still buts in at the appropriate intervals and makes little shy comments about Earth culture—even Artemis grins at her rather naïve description of hair salons (Kal has never seen the point of those either)—but she's not as involved in the group as she usually is. Perhaps she's just gained the confidence she needs. Certainly she and Superboy seem to be getting along.
So Kaldur just sits back and observes, letting Robin's witticism's flow around him, shaking his head at Wally's well-meant but ill-applied advice, throwing a companionable look in M'gann's direction to keep her from feeling left out, holding up a hand to pre-empt Superboy's outburst before things can get ugly, tossing the nutrient bar that Zatanna makes for him over to a surprised Artemis, waking her out of the slump she's in. On the whole, Kal feels pretty good about the team. There's a few bumps here and there that worry him, but as a unit, a family, he can tell they'll hold together. It is a good day.
And yet… Kaldur can't help but feel a little… hollow. As if there is something missing. Not so much with the team, perhaps, as with himself.
The feeling's still there as they land at Justice Hall—in the back, of course, Young Justice is still a covert ops group—and meet up with Batman and Green Arrow.
"Superman will be making the announcement at the front of the building." Batman informs them. "The press is already waiting there, the other League members are waiting in the atrium along with the new inductees."
Green Arrow places a hand on Roy's shoulder. "I imagine you don't want to keep them waiting, eh?"
"More like they don't want to keep ME waiting." Roy laughs. "Let's go."
"The rest of you," Batman gestures, "…follow me."
Kaldur isn't surprised that they're not going to the atrium, but he is surprised at Batman accompanying them. And he's especially surprised by the young African girl who glances up as they enter the library.
"This is Rocket." Batman says by way of introduction. "Her partner, Icon, is joining the Justice League."
"Yeah, and 'bout time, too." The girl snorts, crossing her arms.
"Rocket did not make the cut," continues Batman without regarding the girl. "Instead, she'll be serving as part of Young Justice."
Aqualad nods. It makes sense, of course, and Batman is theoretically in charge of the team, but even so… "I was not informed of this."
"It's short-notice, I know." Batman gives him a nod of recognition. "But there hasn't been time to discuss it formally. We received Icon's answer only this morning."
"Oh, and he was up ALL NIGHT about it too, y'know." The girl rolls her eyes. "Pacin' all over the house, quotin' philosophers left and right, lookin' up all his news articles on y'all. Musta asked me fifty times what I thought about the whole thing." She gives a little nervous laugh.
Kaldur realizes all this must be very new for the girl. "It seems we have you to thank for his decision, then." He says, stepping past Batman to greet her.
Another laugh escapes Rocket. "I dunno about that. I'm pretty sure he woulda joined it with or without me. I mean… daaaamnnn. This is the Justice League! Way to hit the big time baby!"
She's a bit of a rogue, it seems. Not exactly the sort of person he always gets along with. Still… Wally and Artemis are rogues, of a sort. And he doesn't know this new teammate very well yet.
"Rocket, huh?" Robin is alongside him already. "You've got control over intertia and stuff, right? Lets you fly, deflect blasts, stuff like that." His gaze lingers on the odd belt Rocket's wearing. "Interesting abilities."
Of course Robin would already know about this newcomer. Kaldur makes a mental note to ask the Boy Wonder for a full debriefing later.
"And you're Robin." Rocket shakes her head. "THE Robin! AND Aqualad. AND Kid Flash, AND…" She stops. "Superboy?" Her forehead wrinkles in confusion. "I didn't know Superman had a kid."
There's just a slight pause as the team tries to decide how to answer that question and the girl realizes something's wrong. "Uh… guess not?" She tries a quick nervous grin. "Sorry? I didn't…"
"It is all right." Kaldur assures her. "It was a reasonable mistake to make." She's keeping up the cocky self-assured act very well, but the ways her eyes dart around the room, the strange eagerness as she speaks to him and the others, the nervous way her hands are fingering her belt… they tell him that this is a girl way out of her depth in a strange new world.
Like M'gann. Like Conner. Like him.
"Perhaps introductions are in order." He smiles. You know the three of us, it seems, at you are correct, that IS Superboy, though we call him Conner."
"And I'm not Superman's kid." Conner crosses his arm's with admirable self-restraint and directs a merely scornful glance at the girl.
"Beside him" where else "is Miss Martian, and next to her are Artemis and Zatanna."
"Good to meet you." Zatanna smiles, approaching. "Could use another teammate." Kaldur raises an eyebrow at that, the girls are scarcely outnumbered on the team. "Especially a girl. Sorry boys, but well…" she grins at the boys. "…I'd say we traded up."
Artemis snorts with laughter at that one, and Superboy's mouth twitches, but Wally looks a little incensed. As M'gann floats forward to join the rapidly-forming discussion, Kaldur nudges Robin. "Icon is her father, yes?" He hisses.
Robin's reply is barely audible and his mouth doesn't seem to move. "I don't think Icon's her father. Facial records don't match. Possibly guardian, given how closely they work together. Which leads me to think…"
"No family." Kaldur winces.
Like Zatanna. Like Robin. Like him.
"Kaldur!" The call jolts him from his talk with Robin. Zatanna, M'gann, Artemis (when did she join them?) and Rocket are all looking at him expectantly. "Rocket doesn't believe us about the Watchtower. Tell her it's true."
Kaldur hesitates—he's not sure that's actually a topic for discussion—but Wally spares him the anxiety. "Yup, it's true. Never been there myself, but I bet your partner will be headed there right after the ceremony."
"Seriously?" the girl laughs, looking from one face to another. "Honestly, the League's got a big flying space thing? This is all a bit much all at once."
"It's all cool, we get it." Robin grins. "Just stay whelmed."
Artemis rolls her eyes at the Boy Wonder. "Ignore him. Zatanna's the only one who can keep up with his little word games."
"Say, what's Zatanna stand for, anyway?" Rocket glances at the sorceror. "Is that, like, your name? Or your callsign?"
Zatanna grins. "Yes."
"Huh?" Rocket's forehead wrinkles again. "I'm feeling a little…"
Shaking his head, Kaldur steps forward again. "I know this all may seem strange." He informs her. "But we are your team, and with time, things will become clearer."
He proffers his hand. "Let us make things simpler. My name is Kaldur'ahm, and I am the Team Leader." He smiles as she takes his hand. "Welcome to the Team, Rocket."
It's a little early to tell, but he thinks he's going to like this new teammate.
A/N: Full disclosure-this story was intially set up to introduce Wonder Girl as Kaldur's love interest. Then came "Usual Suspects," and I was like, ah, doggone it, I better write it for Rocket instead. Because it more or less fits, and to be honest, I have no particular attachment to Wonder Girl. The rendition of Rocket looks a trifle cliche but definitely interesting, and I'm disappointed that there have been no fics examining her introduction to the team.
So I wrote one as the finish to this story. Hope you all have enjoyed this story, it was fun to write. Followers of my other fanfics may be interested to know that I'm preparing "Connecting the Dots" for publication on DevART.