Disclaimer: I do not own either Young Justice or its related characters. Such are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Cartoon Network. Neither do I own the Discworld book series or all related characters mentioned in this fic, such is the property of the ever-wonder Mr. Terry Pratchett. I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit entertainment.
She had asked for alone time. So they had given her alone time.
But there comes a point when alone time has to end and you have to rejoin the world. Robin knew this all to well and so it was he that was first to breach the un-official embargo the Team had placed on Zatanna's room.
She looked up from the box she'd been unpacking when her door slid open. She was sure she had locked it. But then again, that didn't mean much since it was Robin. He probably had some override code from Batman or something and if not then he just hacked it. The little tricky-bird.
"Hi." It was a sober, subdued word, not what she'd come to expect from him. But then, he was protégé to the Batman; he must have his moments of darkness and brooding too.
"Hi." She said back. "I'm sorry, Robin, I'm not fit to talk just yet."
"That's fine." He said as he invited himself in. Pushing his dark sunshades up the bridge of his nose, Robin sat on the floor on the opposite side of the box she had open in front of her. "Unpacking?"
"Trying to." She admitted. "But… it's hard."
Again, that was a feeling Dick Grayson knew all to well. He looked into the box she'd been unpacking prior to his interruption. Books. He had expected as much, Zatanna being a magic user and all and most likely having inherited her father's magic library on top of whatever she had started to accumulate on her own. But these were not spell books, they were fiction. Plain, ordinary, unassuming fiction.
He lifted one from the box –The Fifth Elephant. "You read Terry Pratchett?"
She snatched the book form his hands so fast it was like lighting. Clutching the small paperback to her chest she said, "Dad got them for me. All of them. Every time a new one was published."
"That's awesome!" He smiled at her, this was the perfect tool to help him dispel a little of her grief. Not all of it, of course. It would still be there and would return full force when he left again, but as Dick knew from the loss of his own parents, every attempt made to reach out to comfort and support helped. "I, myself, happen to be a denizen of the Discworld. So, which is your favorite?"
She paused for a moment to think. Then, "The Tiffany Aching trilogy. I guess I kinda identified with her, and the Feegles were always funny."
Robin grinned at that and said, "Ach, it's a terrible thing for a lass ter be cryin' 'er eyes oot alone after a right terrible thing's ha' come to a pretty pass, ye ken."
"What?" She blinked at him.
"I said you shouldn't have to face this alone." Translated the Boy Wonder. "But I said it in Feegle-speak."
"Feegle-speak." She paused. Smiled. Began to laugh. It was slight and tentative at first but then grew into a soft, pleasant ringing, like the elegant chime of a bell. He laughed with her, because while misery might love company, good-humor and frivolity loved it more. When their giggles had subsided she asked, "So, which book was your favorite, Robin?"
He turned his eyes back to the box and scanned for the title he was looking for, found it, and pulled out another paperback, this one with a green cover sporting a hooded and cloaked black rider trampling the face of a clock. "This one." He said. "Thief of Time."
"Ah, yes, young Mr. Lobsang Lud." She smiled. "'He always did strike me as someone who needed to find himself.'"
They shared a second chuckle. Then Zatanna leaned back on the palms of her hands and sighed. "Okay, call me crazy, but when you read about Ankh-Morpork, do you imagine a steam-punk version of Gotham?"
"Oh. My. God. Yes!" Nodded the Boy Wonder furiously. "It so is! And the Gotham River is the River Ankh."
"So, how does it feel to live in Ankh-Morpork?" She grinned mischievously.
"Hm…" He thought for a moment. "Well, if you had to compare it to anything, then it would have to be a piece of rubbish covered with the diseased secretions of a dying mollusk. In other words, it a pearl… a very dirty one."
"Is that from Light Fantastic?"
"Its not a direct quote."
"Okay, but now, were you describing Ankh-Morpork or Gotham?"
He grinned at her a second time. "I thought we decided they were one in the same."
A pause. A snort. And then she was laughing again. Robin also smiled, happy to be able to lift her spirits.
After their laughter had subsided this time, they lapsed into a contemplative silence. Zatanna, seeming to space out and Robin giving her time to indulge in her melancholy thoughts. He had been through this before, he knew what it was like. For it to come and go in waves. To be laughing and content one moment and then desolately depressed the next. It was all part of grieving.
Finally, after the prolonged pause Zatanna asked, "Do you think… do you think Nabu is kinda similar to the Auditors?"
He saw her trail of thought and how she had arrived at the comparison, but still, the question surprised him. Dick paused for a moment to consider his answer.
Finally, he began with, "No." A small headshake. "I get it, but no. The Auditors in the books are all about 'order' and control and Nabu is supposedly a 'Lord of Order', but you're forgetting the fundamental difference between the two. I mean, besides that one is fiction and the other's not. And that's that the Lords of Order don't want to control the world but maintain it. They've set themselves up at the polar opposites of chaos, but really, they're more of a very bossy middle-ground. They don't want an exact opposite to chaos but a balance between chaos and order. The Auditors in the books just want to make everything uniform and controlled. They're similar, but not the same."
She remained quiet –thinking.
He stood and walked around the box to put a supportive hand on her shoulder. "Hey, if you don't believe me, then remember this: The more time the Auditors spent in human bodies the more human they became. There's something about the human shape, it's a very popular shape in both the worlds magic and science, but have you noticed that the more time something spends in a human shape, the more human it becomes, and the less human it appears, the farther it drifts from its humanity? Just look at anyone's villain gallery if you want examples. Look, Z, I don't wanna give you a false hope or anything, but the more time Nabu spends in your dad, the more he'll start to empathize with him and slowly… very slowly, he might start to come back."
"You think so?"
"Like I said, I don't want to give you a false hope." He said soberly. "But it's a theory. And besides," he added as an after-thought, "he's gotta take the helmet off to at least eat."
That gave her another short chuckle. Nothing as jovial as some of their previous bouts of laughter, but it had managed to lighter her mood at least a little and that was all he had come to do.
He stood. "Do you still want some alone time?"
"No." She smiled up at him before climbing to her own feet.
"Great." He grinned. "Ya know, the Hogfather is available of Netflix Instant Que. Wanna force the rest of the Team to watch it? We can spend the entire time saying things like 'they did it like this in the book' and totally annoy the crap out of everyone! Annoying Supey is especially fun."
"You'll have to teach me the art."
"Hm, they say that when the student is ready, the master will appear." He stroked his chin as if stroking an long invisible beard. "Come, my child, I shall instruct you in the art of the Super-taunting."
They exited the room together.