I don't own Young Justice.
Smile and Nod Off
To be fair, it's been one of their rougher missions – two days in the field on a silent stakeout, with full stealth and constant vigilance required at all times. It takes most of Wally's energy just to keep his mouth shut for that long, but to make matters worse, they've had to take shifts to ensure someone was always keeping watch from each of the four cardinal directions, limiting the team's allotment to about two and a half hours of sleep each. Certain Boy Wonders and Atlantean military personnel might be plenty accustomed to adjusting their sleep schedules to match Crime's, but Wally is not. By the time they compile the surveillance data they've collected and reconvene on the Bioship, he is nearly dead on his feet.
That said, he has his priorities. First is food – he raids the Bioship's stores as soon as they've taken off, the wrappers making that satisfying crackling sound he's been denied too long. Then, the second they break free of the radio zone, he runs his mouth enough to make up for the 48 hours of silence he's just endured, babbling to anyone who will listen about the creepy way Robin kept turning up during the shift he was supposed to be taking to sleep, or how it isn't fair that Kaldur was allowed to talk once every six hours to give them new instructions, or how incredibly boring and ridiculous the whole thing had been because who cares about remote pharmaceutical companies anyway?
Then abruptly, he's out cold.
The rest of them notice because of the sudden silence – the speedster has practically fallen asleep mid-sentence, head lolling forward onto his chest, and thus he's left a gaping void in the conversation was just monopolizing.
As he nods off, the others all share an amused look; Artemis leans over in her chair to poke Wally's shoulder, but he doesn't budge, just lets out a faint snore. Stifling her laugh, the archeress sits back and shrugged to the rest of them as if to say not faking it. Conner, released from the duty of pretending to listen to his teammate's chatter, resumes the all-important task of staring out the window. On the other side of the ship, a smirk makes its way across Robin's face as he clearly begins to plot some mischief to exact upon his defenseless friend, but a stern look from Kaldur makes it clear that such schemes will never get the chance to manifest on his watch.
From the pilot's seat, M'gann smiles softly, watching the speedster doze, then her eyes glow a faint green. Ever-so-gradually, Wally's seat begins to dip back, and a soft, pillow-like protrusion emerges to cushion his head, until he is practically horizontal, cradled in his sleep by the Bioship itself.
After all, it is going to be a long flight back.
(And much, much longer for the rest of them if Wally is awake.)
It's a fairly typical evening at the Cave – after a long day of training, the four who don't actually live in the mountain are sticking around to have dinner and horse around with those who do before they all have go to home, or on patrol, or wherever else (who the hell knows what Kaldur does on a Friday night, anyway?).
Robin helps M'gann cook while Kaldur and Artemis set the table; Wally and Conner are off somewhere putting away the equipment they were using earlier, and it's just comfortable in a way they've been missing since that one training exercise a few months back. Nobody's remembering what it looked like to watch somebody else die. Nobody's freaking out about the fact that they've all seen each other at their darkest moment. Nobody's waiting for anyone to break down. Now it's just inside jokes and established dynamics and the good kind of exhaustion, the kind you earn, not the kind that happens to you.
They eat; Wally eats more, but no one minds. Over pasta and salad and "damn fine garlic bread" (Artemis's words), they relive the best moments of the day's work, and Robin pulls off a Black Canary imitation so apt that even Conner has to laugh. Then they retire to the rec room for the scant hours that remain until their necessary parting.
Wally and Robin get into an argument about who would win in a fight, Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds. M'gann doesn't know who either is. Wally and Robin proceed to get in an argument about what's more ridiculous, the fact that M'gann doesn't know who Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds are, or the fact that they've known her this long and haven't remedied the problem. Then Artemis submits that Sarah Conner would kick the shit out of both of them, and the whole cycle begins anew.
No one notices that Conner has fallen asleep until Kaldur suddenly stands to pick up a blanket from the end table and drapes it over the clone. The TV is still softly crackling through his favorite static, and they'd all sort of assumed he was watching it. But his eyes are closed and his chest is rising and falling slowly, and he looks so much more peaceful than usual that even the all-important argument falls into silence. The other five share a quiet look, then a smile. Kaldur sits back down.
(The one thing Robin, Wally and Artemis can all agree on is that a movie marathon is in order, sometime when the TV is more available than it is now.)
Martian physiology ends up being pretty much like Earth physiology most of the time, but not all.
There's the Oreo phenomenon – the first time Wally brought over a box, he thought M'gann would eat one, maybe two.
The second time he brought over a box, he brought over a second in self-defense.
The third time he brought over a box, he just made sure she didn't know about it, which involved a whole lot of zipping from room to room and keeping his goggles on infrared in case she tried to pull some camouflage trickery, and making sure he didn't get too excited about eating them all himself, lest the spike of happiness trigger some kind of empathic curiosity that gave away his position.
Then there were the fruit snacks. Though they failed to inspire quite the same level of obsessive devotion as the Oreos, there was still something about them that made M'gann thoroughly, inexplicably ecstatic. Robin, Conner and Kaldur had once watched in disbelief as she'd worked her way through an entire box of them, packet by packet, seeming not to notice the rate at which she was going through the gummies until she reached the end and noticed the empty wrappers strewn over the counter.
And then she'd just asked for more. Kaldur (who couldn't stomach sweets in the first place) had had to excuse himself, looking vaguely ill.
There's still a lot they don't know about M'gann's tastes, though. So when Artemis sees her at halftime of the football game M'gann's been cheering, and the Martian is absolutely guzzling from her water bottle, she has to wonder if something's up.
"You doing okay there, Bumblebee?" she laughs uneasily, clapping her friend on the back as she makes it down to the bottom of the bleachers. "What's in the bottle – honey?"
M'gann wipes her lips and turns to greet her teammate, a bright smile on her face – too bright.
"Oh no, it's just a sports drink," she says, and hands the bottle to Artemis. "It's even better when you've been working hard, though. But I need to get back out there!"
"You're sure it's – "
"Thanks for coming, Arty!" M'gann calls as she runs back onto the field. "I'll see you after the game!"
And she's gone.
Artemis takes an experimental sip from the water bottle, and her stomach sinks – it's not just Gatorade. But judging by the taste, there isn't that much else in it, and who knows, if M'gann gets happy-drunk off Oreos, maybe alcohol will give her the disposition of a prison warden and the dance moves of Mick Jagger. Only time will tell. With a shrug, Artemis returns to the top of the stands to cheer on her friend for the remainder of the game.
At first, M'gann seems unchanged. She's performing well with the rest of the squad, just as bright and bubbly as usual, shouting out the cheers and revving up the crowd, and Artemis almost stops worrying.
Then they hit the fourth quarter, and the undercover Martian starts stumbling a bit. It's not really drunken stumbling; it's more like she's just suddenly really tired. Artemis lets it go for a few minutes – it's not like they're doing any aerial moves or anything, so she can't do much more than embarrass herself – but when M'gann's teammates have to laughingly pull her off the bench just to get her in the lineup for the next cheer, she stands up, the offending water bottle crushed in an abruptly irate grip.
Her boots crash on the aluminum bleachers with satisfying loudness as she makes her way down to the turf once more.
"Okay, which one of you idiots is responsible for this?" she demands as she approaches the squad, which is taking a breather, everyone hitting their own drinks.
"For what?" one of the girls asks.
Artemis pushes her way through them to M'gann, whose eyelids are seriously drooping; she can barely sit up, and leans gratefully against her teammate's side the instant Artemis moves to stand by her.
"Don't play dumb with me," the archer snaps, wrapping a supportive arm around M'gann's shoulder and casting the water bottle onto the grass. "You know what I'm talking about."
But the team looks legitimately confused. The girls glance around at each other, and one of them picks the bottle up off the grass. That's when Artemis notices that one of the football players – the sideliners, not the ones out on the field at the moment – is watching the whole thing with this loopy smirk on his face, and there's an unmarked bottle beneath the bench where he's sitting, separate from the sports bottle in his hands. Her eyes narrow.
"Hold her," she instructs one of M'gann's teammates, who obeys, stepping in to help hold the drowsy Martian upright.
Artemis marches over to the football bench, murder in her eyes. This boy is damn lucky she isn't Conner, not because she's any less pissed about this than he would be, but because she knows she can't risk her identity on something as conspicuous (and oh so tempting) as breaking this little punk's arm, and the Boy of Steel probably wouldn't show such restraint.
The other players on the bench look kind of surprised, and she can read it in their eyes, that look she's gotten a thousand times, even from people she now counts among her friends: who the hell is this chick?
She informs them. As the jock who spiked M'gann's drink clutches his bleeding nose and howls, the others let out surprised curses and jostle each other, torn between helping their buddy or retaliating or just standing there gaping at this broad who just laid out a linebacker.
"Quit your bitching, I didn't break it," Artemis snaps at the kid with the nosebleed, cracking her knuckles. "But if I get wind that you've so much as looked at her again, I will."
And she turns and walks away, finding that M'gann is now truly asleep, dozing lightly against her fellow Bumblebee's shoulder. As the tension drains from Artemis's frame, she can't help but smile just a little.
"It's okay," she tells the others, who seem alarmed by this development. "I'll take her home."
She rouses the Martian gently, slipping M'gann's arm around her own shoulder and standing for the both of them. And as she helps her away from the field, towards the road where she can radio Conner or Kaldur to come carry their sleeping teammate home, she turns back to the other cheerleaders and says,
"You ever get any trouble like this again, you call me, okay?"
They nod, and the entire stadium is watching by the time she's off the turf, but she doesn't care. Taking down stronger guys is part of the gig.
(So's watching out for your friends. Even the sleepy Martian kind. Especially the sleepy Martian kind.)
Robin is geeking out.
There's really no other description for it. Batman installed some newly-developed tool into the Cave computers, some program-cum-database that compiles lists of known and theoretical weapons technologies and keeps track of them, marking their last known location, who owns what, who developed what, who knows what exists, what would be especially bad if it fell into X hands, etc.
Naturally, it's very high security stuff, but Robin has insisted that Batman would only make something this top secret if he actually wanted him to hack it. No one else quite understands how that logic works, but they figure that Robin probably gets Batman better than they do and leave him to it, the sound of his fingers scampering across the keyboard echoing through the Cave as they head out (it's a nice day outside, and some of them don't want to spend it all indoors).
M'gann pops in around suppertime with a plate of food, shrimp and veggie kebabs they grilled on the beach fire along with some salad greens and a few lopsided spring rolls that Artemis's mom sent over. Robin is still at his console, intently focused on the many screens he has up.
"How's it going?" she asks, coming to stand behind the Boy Wonder, who is typing just as frantically now as he was when they left four hours ago. She doesn't understand anything that's on the monitor, but he has upwards of twenty dialogue boxes open, and he's biting his tongue ever-so-slightly, which he only does when he's really concentrating.
"Great," he responds distractedly. "Almost got the first set of passcodes."
"Oh, nice," says M'gann, with confused but genuine enthusiasm. "Um, how many sets of passcodes are there?"
He doesn't look up from his work, just keeps his hands flying over the console with all the acrobatic grace of the rest of his body.
"Dunno," he says. "Knowing Bats, probably a few dozen."
"Right," she blinks. A few dozen? "Well um, good luck. If you decide to take a break, I think we'll be outside for a while yet."
She can't tell if he's heard her or not, but in the end she just shrugs and sets the food down next to him, then floats back outside to join the others. Kaldur has promised them some perfect surfing waves and she doesn't want to miss out on the chance to try a new Earth sport.
Time passes. The others come in a few hours after sunset, damp and sun-soaked and satisfied, but Robin is still hunched over the keyboard, eyes unreadable behind his sunglasses, and he doesn't even seem to notice their entrance. The plate is sitting on the desk beside him, largely untouched, though a few of the spring rolls bear evidence of nibbling.
"Seriously? You're still working on this thing?" Wally asks, zipping around the desk to check Robin's progress out.
"Not all of us have an eight-minute attention span," Robin mutters, knocking Wally's hand away from his plate of food. "I'm not done with that."
"Not all of us want to spend a whole day burning our eyes out trying to hack an unhackable system," Wally retorts, ruffling Robin's hair with a grin. The younger boy makes a face.
"It's not unhackable," he insists. "It's a challenge."
Robin says "challenge" the way M'gann says "Oreos," and everyone knows to leave it at that.
Artemis, Wally and Kaldur say their goodbyes and zeta out to their respective hometowns. M'gann and Conner cast a final glance at their madly-coding teammate and shrug, then retire upstairs themselves.
Around 4 AM, Conner is awakened by a lack of sound. The Cave consoles don't make a lot of noise, generally speaking, but when you have superhearing, even the little blips and beeps make a difference, and they've stopped. He's learned to sleep through noise; it's changes in noise that disturb him now.
He gets out of bed, pulling a shirt over his head as he steps into the hallway. His bare feet pad against the metal floor as he makes his way to the staircase, and from the vantage point of upper landing, he has a clear view of the Cave's main chamber.
Everything is bathed in the soft blue-green glow of the monitors, which no longer display Robin's many lines and boxes of computer code. Rather, the database is up, apparently excavated from beneath its many, many levels of security – the little bird has done it. According to the numbers in the top-right display, Robin is reading page 22 of 347, except that Conner figures out pretty rapidly that he isn't actually reading it, because he's slumped over the console, a half-eaten kebab in one hand, snoring lightly.
With a fond shake of his head, Conner descends the stairs and approaches the sleeping hero. For a moment, he considers waking him up. But he can't quite bring himself to do it (the little bird looks like he probably needs the sleep), and so instead, he gently extracts the kebab from Robin's hand and scoops him up, carrying him easily back up the stairs and towards the spare rooms. There's always room for one more in the Cave.
(Somewhere else in the world, Batman checks his own monitors, and has to bite back a smile.)
Wally is King Science. Sometimes the team forgets this because he goofs around a lot so they won't be intimidated by his massive intellect, but he wasn't born with his powers – he earned them. Okay, sort of. He had a little help. But when it comes down to it, he's a lot more studious than they give him credit for, or if not studious, then at least academically curious.
And it hasn't escaped his attention that the Cave has an excellent library. Okay, so some of the volumes are still a bit singed or water damaged from the fiasco with Red Tornado's "siblings," but there's a lot of material in there, textbooks on theoretical physics and astromechanics and metabiology and other things he's been curious about for a while, so when he has a little downtime late one night before patrol, he pops by the Cave and heads on up, slipping into the dimly-lit stacks to find a little light reading to take home with him for later.
He's poking around the section on psycho/physio healing techniques when he starts getting the weird feeling that he's not actually alone. It's not really a sound or a sight, just that weird sense you get when you think something just moved but you're not totally sure.
He checks the aisles to the left and right of his own, but as far as he can tell, the library is deserted. Besides, it's like, 11 PM on a Wednesday, and they didn't have training today, and he's pretty sure Conner just doesn't read, and M'gann would have sensed him by now and said hello. So he shrugs and gets back to perusing titles and back covers, trying to find something advanced enough to be interesting but basic enough to be accessible, when he gets that feeling, and he realizes there's a shadow on the floor in the central stack and it just moved, a tiny bit. And that's kind of weird.
He grabs a book and pokes his head out to see what's casting the shadow, then blinks in surprise.
The Atlantean is curled up in the window nook that overlooks the ocean, a thick tome open in his lap and his head leaned against the glass of the windowpane. At first, Wally thinks he's looking out at the water, where the moon, just past full, is illuminating the waves as they crash upon the shore of the mountain, and he opens his mouth to make a joke about fish out of water or something equally corny. But then he notices the slow, steady rise and fall of Kaldur's chest, notices the way his glasses are slipping down his nose (Kaldur wears glasses?), notices that one webbed hand is splayed out over the page, completely obscuring the Atlantean script beneath, and realizes that the older boy is actually asleep (Kaldur sleeps?).
It's kind of awkward. Also kind of cute, not that Wally would ever use that word to describe Kaldur in a million years, and he's not exactly sure what to do at first. But it's approaching midnight, and it doesn't look like a very comfortable place to sleep in the long run, so he tucks his own book under his arm and walks over to rouse his team leader as nicely as possible.
Kaldur still starts at the touch of Wally's hand. He drops his book, and utters a word Wally doesn't recognize but sounds like it could be a curse in Atlantean (Kaldur curses?), then after a moment he regains his composure and apologizes profusely, explaining that he must have dozed off in the midst of his studies, and did not mean to be bother, and…
"Not a problem," Wally interrupts with a grin, still a little weirded out by this very human moment from his usually not-very-human teammate. "Just figured you'd do the same for me, you know?"
"Of course," Kaldur nods, rising and collecting his book from the floor. "Thank you, Wally."
"Digging the specs, by the way," the speedster comments, and Kaldur looks embarrassed all over again as he pulls the glasses off and slips them into the pocket of his jacket. "No, I mean it."
"Reading on the surface strains my eyes," the Atlantean explains uncomfortably.
"Right," Wally says, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well uh, I need to get back to Central, and you should probably get home, huh? It's getting kinda late."
Kaldur nods, checking the time on his communicator.
"I am expected by a friend," he says. "I am glad we crossed paths. I might not have awoken in time."
"Right then," Wally says as they leave the library together, heating for the zeta tubes. "See you on Friday for training, then."
Kaldur nods his goodbye, and a moment later Wally is letting Science zoom him and his new book back to his hometown. As he steps out onto the street, he notices with a faint smile that the moon here is the same moon that it was over Happy Harbor, albeit a few hours earlier in the sky.
He zips home to get into uniform. Crime first, reading later.
(Kaldur has friends?)
Gotham Academy has strict uniform rules, apparently. Somehow, Artemis thought that it would be reasonable to put some tights under her skirt, because it's February and it's freaking cold outside, and the girls' uniforms don't cover a whole lot of the leg. Unfortunately, it so happens that her first-period teacher doesn't follow that line of thinking.
So now she's in detention, and she has no tights, and it's even cold in the damn classroom. There's three other kids in here, but they're all friends with each other, and they've just been sitting around gossiping at their desks whenever their supervisor ducks out to smoke, which is pretty often. Otherwise, the rule is silence, and the four of them are just sitting there in the cigarette smell, staring at the front of the room, waiting for their two hours to be up.
Outside it's clear and cold, and Artemis finds herself nodding off against her hand as the pale sunlight and the sheer boredom make her drowsy. There are so many other things she could be doing with this time that it practically stings – she wants to walk up to the front of the room and grab the detention supervisor by the collar and explain that if she runs out of arrows on her next mission because she didn't have time to fletch a new batch, whatever happens is the fault of the Gotham Academy Uniform Code and all damages will be billed accordingly. But that might be a tiny bit incriminating in the civilian ID department, so she just closes her eyes and figures she may as well catch a nap while she can…
She awakens some time later to a light tapping on the window to her left. It's that freshman kid, the one who's always grinning at her from down the hallway or across the cafeteria or the front of her advanced calculus class (what the hell is a freshman doing in her advanced calculus class, anyway?). He's grinning again now, from the other side of the window, and the other kids in detention are staring. Their supervisor isn't around for the moment.
Artemis mouths the words "what do you want?" without bothering to hide her irritation. She still has an hour of detention left, and she doesn't appreciate being woken up. The kid just grins bigger and gestures towards the back of the school, mouthing "outside," right back at her. When she just rolls her eyes, he makes a pretend sad face (somehow while maintaining the grin – how this is possible, she isn't even sure) and clasps his hands together in a begging gesture, mouthing the word "please."
Sighing, she gets up and slings her bag over her shoulder – there are too many incriminating things inside it to leave it with these punks – and pokes her head out the door. The detention warden is nowhere in sight. Swiftly, Artemis heads for the nearest exit and lets herself outside, where the freshman is waiting.
"What do you want?" she asks impatiently. "I'm not looking to get more detention, you realize."
"Relax, I'm getting you out of it," he says, hands in his pockets, mischief in his bright blue eyes. "Just follow my lead."
"What do you – " she begins to say, when suddenly she spots the supervisor heading their way, back from her smoke break. And it's not that she's afraid of this overstuffed administrator or the Gotham Academy Disciplinary Code, but she really doesn't want to spend any more time in that godforsaken room than she already has to, and she promised her mother she'd stay out of trouble, so she's about to make a beeline for the door, to get her ass in that chair before she's caught outside it, when the first-year grabs her arm in a grip that's way too strong for a kid his size. She turns to ask what the hell his problem is, but he's staring at the approaching teacher with an easy smile on his face, and the teacher is…smiling back?
"Richard," the supervisor greets warmly, more friendly than she's been all afternoon. "What are you doing here so late? I thought chess club only met on Thursdays."
Her eyes move over Artemis, clearly questioning what she's doing out of doors, but she doesn't mention it.
"Hey, Ms. Perkins," Richard replies as he subtly lets go of Artemis's arm. "I was just looking for Arty, here. We're project partners for Calc, and I'm supposed to go to some fancy dinner with Bruce tonight so I kind of need to work on it now, while I've got time. You won't mind if I borrow her, right?"
Ms. Perkins hesitates a moment, glancing once more at Artemis, then back to Richard – Dick, Artemis now recalls. Bruce Wayne's ward. That at least explains why this kid oozes charm like nobody's business.
"Of course not," the teacher says at last, smiling. "Send my regards to Mr. Wayne. And good luck with your project, Richard. I'm sure you'll blow everyone away, as usual."
Dick grins his thanks, and leads a confused Artemis up the drive to where a sleek black limousine is idling. He turns back to her, and there's something about his damn smile that always makes her feel like he knows something she doesn't.
"Want a ride home?" he offers.
She looks at the limo skeptically.
"I'm not sure you want to drive that thing into my neighborhood."
"It's seen worse," he promises. "Besides, it's cold out."
She wants to refuse, but she's missed her bus and he's right – it's cold and it's far and she could really use the ride. All the same, it feels very, very strange to be sharing the back of a goddamn limousine with some kid she's barely met, who probably has more money in his trust fund than her parents have ever had collectively in their lives, and who just sprang her from detention for no discernable reason.
"Why are you doing this?" she asks as they turn onto the main road, leaving the Academy behind.
"Being nice to me."
He shrugs, easing the knot of his uniform tie and relaxing onto the plush leather seat.
"What can I say?" he says, straight-faced. "I'm just one of the good guys, I guess."
(Up front, a certain butler-cum-driver cannot help but shake his head and sigh.)
"Dude, did you see how I got the trip wire all the way up the telephone poles and then just sat there at the top, watching the freaky pterodactyl things crash into the web?" Wally babbles to no one in particular as the Bioship touches down. "It was just like that one scene in Mulan, but with more freaky pterodactyl things."
"Didn't see it, but I've heard about it like, four times now," Artemis says, rolling her eyes as she counts the arrows left in her quiver.
"Yeah well it's still awesome," the speedster grins.
"It was an impressive maneuver," Kaldur concedes. Mostly, he feels grateful that the team has gotten in and out of danger once more. They performed well today, and he is satisfied.
Everyone rises as M'gann lowers the ramp, and they file out, heading back through the hangar on their way into the Cave. It's late, and the plan is basically to hit the showers and go home – Batman has indicated there will be no debriefing for this mission, given how smoothly it went – but that idea shatters as they enter the mountain to the sight of a familiar figure sprawled out on the floor of the Cave. Roy's face and hands are bloodied, his white civilian shirt even more so, and even at this distance it's clear that he's unconscious.
Wally is at his side in an instant, the others following quickly behind.
"Roy, what the – " the speedster gasps, all post-mission cockiness forgotten. Slowly, blearily, Roy's eyes flicker open and he blinks once or twice up at his fellow ginger, then to everyone's surprise, a lethargic grin spreads across his face.
"Heyyyyyy," he slurs.
"Are you drunk?"
"Could be blood loss," Robin mutters as he drops into a crouch beside the archer. Roy grins loopily up at the ring of people that has suddenly formed around him.
"You look like shit," Artemis informs him.
"Y'should…see…th'othr guy," replies Roy with a hiccupping laugh.
"Orrrr he's drunk," Robin concludes.
Kaldur kneels by Roy's side to investigate his injuries – the blood is mostly dried, but it has to have come from somewhere, and the cut in his lip can't explain it all. The archer's eyes flick over to the Atlantean as webbed hands shift his limbs, methodical and patient in their hunt for hurt, but he doesn't say anything.
"What happened?" Conner asks. He and M'gann are standing at a little bit of a distance, leaving Roy to the people who know him best, but they're both plenty concerned.
"Th…they called y'sykicks…" Roy mutters, and his brow furrows with sudden anger.
"Psychics?" Wally asks confusedly.
"Sidekicks," Artemis translates, and Roy nods vigorously.
"Someone called you a sidekick?" asks Conner, trying to understand.
"No," Roy protests, struggling to sit up. Kaldur tries to restrain him but gives up after a moment, and with Wally's help, the archer makes it into a sort of sprawling sit. "You."
"Someone called us sidekicks," Conner clarifies.
"But…we are sidekicks…aren't we?" asks M'gann uncertainly.
It's the clearest thing Roy's said so far, and the most impassioned. Artemis snorts.
"She's kind of right, you know," Robin points out.
"Bullllllshitttt," Roy drawls, and falls over again; only Kaldur's swift intervention saves his head from hitting the floor, at which he grins again. "Knew y'd do that."
"You smell like a bar, my friend," says Kaldur, unimpressed.
"So let me get this straight," Robin says as Kaldur sighs in exasperation. "You picked a fight with some stranger in a bar…because he called us all sidekicks?"
Everyone blinks, taking a few seconds to process that.
"How'd it go?" Wally asks at last. Kaldur shoots him a disapproving look, but Roy just grins.
Artemis arches an eyebrow as Wally offers his inebriated a five a congratulatory fist bump.
"And having won, you beamed your drunk ass to the Cave and passed out on our training room floor to celebrate? Or what?" she asks skeptically.
Roy yawns from the floor.
"Naw, just…missed y'all."
M'gann smiles warmly at that, while Wally, Kaldur and Robin exchange a concerned look.
"Just how drunk are you?" Robin asks, leaning over to try and get a good look at Roy's pupils.
"What, m'not allowed t'say nice 'nymore?" Roy sulks, and turns onto his side as if to hide from the people standing around him.
"No, say nice all you want," Artemis laughs, turning to go. "But I'm out. I need a shower."
"You are not the only one," Kaldur mutters. Roy punches him, and none too gently.
"Yeah, I think we all need to call it a night," Robin agrees. "It's getting kind of late, and as uh, sweet it is of you to drop by, we should probably all get some sleep."
But as he rises from his crouch, Roy's hand wraps around his wrist, preventing him from going.
"You," Roy says. "Yooooou are th'best."
"I mean, yes. But," says Robin confusedly.
"All th'…th' flips, and throwy stuff, and th' comtupers. The bes'."
And he lets go.
"Um, thanks," says Robin, standing as Roy twists himself around to face Wally.
"You're th'best, too," he says earnestly. "Just so…fast. An'…an' goofy. Miss that."
"Miss you too, buddy," Wally grins, clearly enjoying this.
"YOU ARE 'KAY IN MY BOOK," Roy shouts after Artemis next, because she's almost out of the room, and he's just noticed.
"Don't get mushy on me, now," she calls back, then she's gone.
Roy sighs, turning a bleary smile to M'gann and Conner, who look like they're deciding whether or not now would be a socially acceptable time to leave.
"D'nno you so good," he says, and there's a plaintive note in his voice, as though not 'knowing them so good' is a source of regret for him. "But…bad ass. Bulletproove. Flyin' 'n' shit. Yeah."
The two aliens share an uncertain look.
"Are you quite finished?" he asks. Roy rolls over floppily to face him.
"No," the archer scowls. Behind him, M'gann and Conner politely excuse themselves and head for the showers. "You are th'worse."
"Am I, now?"
"Yeah," Roy nods. "You are no fun, an' a big jerk, an' too cold, an' y'never visit me."
Wally and Robin are nodding in solemn, trolly agreement.
"I visited you last week, my friend."
"An' you talk funny, an' you won' drink with me," Roy continues.
"For shame," Wally chides. Robin shakes his head in mock disappointment.
"We have had this conversation…" Kaldur begins.
"An' you make me fun wh'n I try and say nice," Roy finishes. "But s'okay. I like y'anyway."
"I am relieved to hear it."
"You're drunk," says Robin.
"But we're enjoying it," Wally adds.
The two of them help their old friend to his feet, where he wobbles slightly.
"Whoa there," Robin grins, keeping a hand on Roy's arm to steady him. "You gonna make it home okay?"
"That seems an exceedingly poor decision," Kaldur puts in. "He would be better off spending the night here."
Wally looks Roy up and down, from his black eye to his bloodied knuckles to his untied shoes.
"Good point," the speedster nods.
"M'still here," Roy objects. "Don' talk 'bout me like m'not."
"Wally, go and fetch some spare clothes, either from my locker or Superboy's," Kaldur instructs. "Robin, help me escort this fool to the showers."
"You got it, Boss."
And eventually, some time later, the three of them wrangle an unbloodied Roy into a spare bed somewhere, where he insists on delivering a marginally cogent play-by-play of his bar fight. Wally plays the part of the offending bargoer, and reacts dramatically to each of Roy's pantomimed blows; Robin acts the bartender who pulls out a shotgun tells them to 'take it outside,' and Kaldur participates as the "huuuuuge crowd" by standing with his arms folded over his chest and refusing to crack a facial expression other than 'unamused' for the duration of the story.
And then somewhere between the double roundhouse kick and the split-second tumble dodge, Roy's suddenly out cold. Robin and Wally snicker as Kaldur steps forward with a sigh to pull the covers up over their sleeping friend. Then the three of them creep out, leaving Roy alone with the glass of water on his nightstand to enjoy the rest of the night.
They say their own good nights, and they part ways. It's been a long day, but at least it ended well.
(Back in the spare room, Roy rolls over in his sleep and mutters something that may or may not be "not sidekicks.")