"Rob, YOU crashed the Justice League's network?"
Wally's expression was as easy to read as ever. Shock, betrayal, and denial were evident on the speedster's gaping face. His eyes were practically begging for his former best friend to dismiss the accusation. But Robin remained silent.
Then, laughter, eerier than ever, tinkled throughout the abandoned warehouse.
"I crashed the Justice League's network," Robin confirmed with a hint of a smile. There was no remorse on his face as he stood up from his seat in front of a collage of monitors.
Kaldur was half relieved that their youngest was still alive - healthy even. In the months following Robin and Superboy's disappearance, Kaldur had imagined everything from mangled bodies to deranged insanity. He didn't expect Robin to be standing in front of him, dressed in elegant silk and with the same air of boyish aloofness he had always displayed.
The former boy wonder took a step towards the leader, and Kaldur instinctively took a step back.
Half lidded, almost predatory, blue eyes stirred even more unease into the hero's already confused mess of emotions.
"Get traught," was their only warning before Kaldur found himself on his back from a quick leg sweep. He began to instinctively reach for his weapons, but was stopped by a searing pain in his arm - Robin had stabbed him.
"Robin, NO!" M'gann screamed, pushing the younger boy backwards into a wall before he could do further damage.
Artemis quickly followed in the attack by shooting a barrage of arrows in an attempt to pin their former teammate. "What is wrong with you, boy blunder?"
A second figure jumped down from the rafters above and knocked the arrows away easily.
"Okay, whatthe hell is going on?" Wally finally snapped out of his stupor and focused all his frustration on a punch at Superboy. Conner caught the fist, visibly unimpressed. Wally soon found himself acquainted with a concussion as he was thrown backwards at Artemis.
'Conner, what's wrong?' M'gann was confused, hurt - she couldn't handle two betrayals in one day. It had to be a lie, a mind trick. She could help, if they just let her. She reached out to touch her former teammate - her boyfriend - on the shoulder. Unwillingly, memories began to flood the forefront of Superboy's consciousness that was now linked with M'gann's.
He had always been aware that was something off - a gaping hole in his existence - since he had arrived at one of the many hideouts belonging to the Demon's Head. Ra assured him that he was just missing his purpose - one that will be granted to him later if he proved to be an adequate weapon . He protested - he's not just a weapon, he's his own person. Ra merely laughed and Superboy reached out to punch him, but was quickly subdued by the more experienced fighter.
"You're weak," Ra taunted. Rage blinded him, and he woke up later - sore and chained once more. In the following weeks, Ra continued to taunt him and handed off his training to mentors who were equally as harsh. Superboy learned, because he wanted nothing more than to learn how to wipe off Ra's arrogant smirk with his fists.
When he first met the other boy, Robin was unconscious with stray bandages wound around his head. His breathing is steady and his expression is relaxed, but his small frame looks so frail in a surgical gown with black tufts of hair peeking out of the sterile bandages. "This is your purpose," Ra told him.
Conner gently traced his hand across the boy's face. His fingers wandered downwards towards the scar on the back of his neck. Eyes fluttered open in response to the touch, and the color shocks him. It was a breathtaking shade of blue - like the skies of his artificial memories.
The blue orbs were unfocused and confused, but small hands reached out to cling to his shirt. 'Stay,' those eyes told him. And for the first time since he had arrived, Conner felt whole.
He's frustrated when Ra forbids him from staying and sends him to his jail cell instead. Afterwards, he only caught glimpses of the boy. Catching sight of him was rare, but hearing him was easy.
He denied his identity as Ra's son, just as vehemently as Conner had earlier. "Batman is my father, not you!" He insisted.
"You were always the mole, a sleeper agent. But I needed you here now, by my side, as my son." He could recognize Ra's voice easily, it was as smooth and confident as ever.
"No, no, I'm not!"
Later that night, Robin found his way to Superboy's cell and creeped inside. "Conner," the boy called him in a low whisper. The name sounded familiar to his ears. "Do you remember anything?"
Afraid to alert the guards, Conner only shook his head. The younger boy frowned.
"You should escape, I can release you." It's the last act of heroism that Robin will attempt for a while, but Superboy cannot accept it.
"How about you?"
"I can't leave, not until I find out everything." Robin moved to release the handcuffs, and Superboy finally got a closer look at the boy's pale arms. They were lined with bruises, and exhaustion was obvious on the younger boy's face. Regardless of this, the boy was still trying to save him at his own risk.
"Leave now, I'll make a distraction" Robin encouraged as he finished removing both handcuffs.
"No." Instead, strong arms wrapped around the younger boy and pulled him backwards into a hug.
"What are you doing," the boy hissed, although more out of confusion than anger.
"Staying." It was what the boy had asked him to do earlier after all. Superboy could tell that this other boy was as lonely and confused as he was, but this other boy was also so much more noble, self sacrificing, self-denying. He rejected Superboy's words vehemently.
"You don't know what you're getting into!"
The boy hesitated. "It's nothing good," he replied as he tries to shift out of Superboy's arms again.
"You'll be there though. And we'll escape later, together."
He heard an exasperated sigh before Robin falls limp into his embrace. Both boys were tired, and they reveled in the mutual warmth of the hug. It didn't take long for Robin to fall asleep in the safety of his former teammate's arms and for Conner to fall asleep to the sound of Robin's steady heartbeat.
Superboy was the first to awake in the morning, and Ra's amused face served as an unpleasant wake-up call.
"You shouldn't try it," he told Superboy in a whisper, allowing the younger boy to sleep on.
"Try what?" His grip on Robin unconsciously grows tighter.
"Escaping. The implant in his head will explode if I don't deactivate it every month. After all, I'm growing quite tired of my children running off."
Superboy resented Ra more than ever - the man had taken away both Robin and his dreams of escape. He can't, won't escape - not without the boy. Even when the boy, weeks later, visited his cell once again and told him about his past. About his former friends, his girlfriend, his mentors. Then, once again, Robin offered him the chance to leave. Once again, Superboy rejected it. He can't leave the first person to care for him - at least, in this new life - alone in the hands of a madman.
So he threw it all away - his memories, his identity, his former life - and he focused all his senses on the tiny body that was curled in his arms. It's the only affection they'll find in a dreary base of assassins, but it's enough.
They have each other.
The martian was finally thrown out of his mind when Robin kicked her backwards. The boy flashed him a brief look of concern, "Kon?"
"I'm fine," Superboy assured as he once again blocked another barrage of arrows from Artemis. One of them turned out to be explosive, but he was indestructible and it barely phased him. He was strong now - he had something to protect. He had a new name, a new life, and he was surprisingly content with it. He wouldn't let anyone take Robin from him, not even his former friends who are now just a distant memory.
Kon was about to lunge at them again before Robin placed a hand on his shoulder, a signal to hold back. "I got this," he assured as he typed in a few commands on his watch. Electricity began to course through the bodies of each member of the group of infiltrators.
Their pained gasps didn't bother the young boy at all. Instead, he tilted his head almost contemplatively at the group of defeated heros. "You guys have totally lost your aster," he commented offhandedly, "I put those probes on you hours ago."
Robin was aware that the kids writhing on the floor was the team - his friends. Or former friends. Or not really his friends at all, because it was all a lie. It had to be a lie, because how else could he explain the emotional void he felt whenever he thought of them? They weren't really his friends, because friends cared for each other - like he cared for Kon - and he couldn't feel even a trace of emotion for them besides fickle amusement.
He was already monstrous enough as an assassin, as the son of Ra's al Ghul. He didn't want to add to his list of sins by becoming a betrayer to people he honestly cared for, or used to care for.
So he accepted the lie that Ra's had fed him.
What other choice did he have? Batman would have never wanted him again. Not after knowing what he had done - what Ra's had forced him to do. He used to be Batman's partner. He knew best how much Batman detested killing, he knew that their relationship could never return to normal, and he knew that his betrayal would hurt for both of them. So he didn't want to remember Batman as the caring Bruce, as the person he once considered a second father, because it would hurt too much, remembering that warmth. He had lost it once already, to losing it again...
He would much rather not feel at all.
So instead, he focused on the warmth of Kon's arms that had secured him in a loving hold. Ra's had spared him this limited emotional freedom, and he intended to enjoy it. It's the love and the security he knows he should miss, but he doesn't, because he can't, and because has Kon now.
"Your father is calling," Kon spoke, breaking Robin's contemplative train of thoughts.
The former boy wonder gives a hum of acknowledgement, wiggling out of the larger boy's grasp to make his way back to the monitors. With just a few keystrokes, a large image of Ra's al Ghul flares to life from the central screen.
"Father," Robin acknowledged, and a smile found its way to his face. He can't control the surge of happiness, affection, loyalty, love that he felt every time he sees the man's face, but he had found that it was much easier, much wiser, to play along with the fake emotions Ra has instilled into him. The conditioning room was a horrible place he prefered to never visit again.
"Robin," Ra replied, returning the smile only after he caught a glimpse of the captives.
Robin spared them a glance of his own, making sure they are still safely unconscious. Then, he turned back to the monitor, flashing a smirk. "I got you a present."
A/N: There was done for a prompt fill at the Young Justice anon meme on LiveJournal because there was some GORGEOUS art that went along with the prompt. Visit my profile to see the original prompt and the art for it, I couldn't stop staring at it.
There's more of this alternate universe (set sometime before Misplaced) written in my head, like a Batman/Superman/JL confrontation with Robin/Superboy, SB/Robin fluff, Damian drama, and etc., but I'm not sure how interested anyone is in reading all that, so I'm just tentatively leaving it off at this. I may update it in the future but it's unlikely for now.
Also, are Superboy/Robin in a relationship? Idk, interpret it as how you want to.