A/N: Hey guys! It's been awhile. And I am really really really really sorry! Thank you all for being so patient and supportive despite my slowness this time! It really means a lot to me :)
First, to answer some questions:
1.) To my Russian reader who asked me a question in a review last chapter, your email address did not show up in your review, so I'll have to answer your question here :) The contest for picking a pairing was for the one shot Handholding that I wrote as a thank you to you all. So that has no correlation to the pairings in this fanfic. Hope that makes sense :)
2.) A couple people have asked me if this fic is ending soon, and I am here to tell you that you are correct. Next chapter will be the final chapter :( However, I plan on putting the one-shots I write for the winners of the guessing game at the end of this fic, so the magic is not over just yet! :D
Speaking of which, I am happy to (finally) announce that the winners are:
Congrats guys! If you're still reading this, please message me or leave a review telling me what kind of one-shot you'd like me to write :) It can be as detailed as you want, or you can simply tell me your favorite character or pairing and leave the rest to me: it's up to you! Sorry you had to wait so long.
Ok, so, sorry for the wait and the extra-long Author's Note, but here you go and hope you enjoy!
"Wha…what?" Conner just stared blankly at the blonde's back. Wait, he started piecing things together mentally, Blonde… It all clicked into place at once. "You're Blondie? You're the one he's been looking for? But…what? Why? And who are you!"
His savior spun back around with a happy smile and giggled as she walked over to help him back onto his feet. "I'll explain everything later, little cous'," she told him as she swung one of his arms over her shoulders and effortlessly supported his entire weight.
"At least tell me how we're 'cousins'," he grunted persistently, even though making so much as a whisper sent a shot of pain straight through his ribcage, "Are you a Cadmus clone too or something?"
She gave him a smirk, blue eyes flashing tauntingly. Now that Superboy could actually get a good look at them, he realized that they were the same shade of blue as Superman's eyes. The same shade as his own eyes. "The name's Kara," she told him briefly, adjusting his arm around her shoulders and leading him away from the direction Grundy had gone flying. "And I'm Superman's older cousin."
The look of complete annoyance and disbelief that Conner threw her way made the girl smirk. "Um, did you hit your head or something?" he asked her blatantly, "'Cause I'm pretty sure you're not all that much older than me."
"It's… kind of a long story," she explained with a slight hesitation, "And right now, we just need to get away from this guy." As if on cue, a ground-shaking roar rang through the night air from behind them.
"Maybe you're right," Superboy agreed quickly, craning his neck to check on the monster's position, "He hasn't made it up here yet, but I have a feeling that it won't take him too much longer."
"It won't," Kara grumbled in agreement, "He tracked me all the way here from Metropolis in less than a day. I don't know how something so dumb could manage that."
"Why is he looking for you anyway—wait, what are you doing?" Superboy stopped his questions when he noticed her leading him over to the edge of the building, nothing but old crumbling road ahead.
"Relax, big guy," Kara scoffed when she felt him try to pull away, "I'm not gonna throw you off the building if that's what you're thinking. Now hold on tight or you really will fall."
"What are you talking abouWOOOOAAHHHH!" His interrogation was cut short as Kara leapt from the ledge of the 40-story building, dragging Conner along with her. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?" he bellowed over the roaring wind, and when he looked over he saw her laughing whole-heartedly. As they steadily approached the ground, Conner turned his head away and covered his face with his free arm. But the painful impact he'd been preparing for never came. Slowly cracking open a single eyelid, he found himself soaring through the night air, the old Gotham pavement far below him. Pulling his gaze away from the long drop, he noticed Kara laughing even harder at his reaction. And it still took a good ten seconds to make his mouth form words. "You can fly?"
There was an excited sparkle in her eye, but just as she was about to explain, and a call from below interrupted them.
"Conner! Conner, are you ok?"
"M'gann!" he called back in relief, so happy to see his girlfriend safe. Without another word, Kara flew them lower until they had safely landed on the rooftop next to the rest of the Team. The moment his feet were back on solid—although unstable—concrete, M'gann had already pulled him into a tight embrace. "I'm so glad that you're alright," he told her, gently prying her arms off from around his neck and turning to face the others, "All of you…wait, Kaldur? When did you get back?"
"Never mind that," the Atlantian started, placing a webbed hand on the clone's shoulder, "Right now, we need to stay out of the battle zone and try not to get in their way."
"We should be alright here," Kara chimed in with a smile, and to everyone's shock, she pulled Kaldur into a big hug. After the night she'd had, Raquel was ready to flip her lid until Aqualad said something puzzling.
"Kara, it has been some time, old friend," Kaldur remarked, gently returning the friendly gesture before pulling away.
"Are you kidding me? It's been ages!" the blonde exclaimed with a cocky grin, "With you guys off playing house all the time now, the only one of you I've actually seen in the past six months is Wally, and that's only when his refrigerator runs out of food."
"Wait, wait, wait," Artemis cut in at that point, her face plastered with a confused frown, "You know Wally too? Who the heck are you?"
"And why did you save Superboy after trying to kill him just a little while ago?" M'gann asked suspiciously.
"Because she's a sidekick like us."
Even Kaldur was a little surprised by Raquel's sudden input, but while the others all turned to face her in confusion, his surprise melted back into a smile. "You figured out what I was trying to say earlier before Ivy captured me," he explained out loud.
"Wait, so you're a superhero too?" Zatanna asked Kara a bit incredulously, "So, why have you been trying to kill us then?"
"Actually, a more appropriate question would be: were you bribed or blackmailed?" Kaldur asked Kara with a chuckle.
"Bribed," she answered with a big grin, "Plus, this sounded like too much fun to miss out on."
"Ok, once again, who are you!" Artemis grumbled in frustration.
"She claims to be Superman's—and my—older cousin," Conner chimed in.
M'gann stared blankly at her boyfriend, then at the mysterious girl. "What?"
"If you're going to lie, at least make it believable," Artemis told the other blonde with a tired sigh.
"Actually," Kaldur cut in, "As strange as it sounds, it is the truth."
Raquel gave the stranger in question a disbelieving one-over before raising an eyebrow at Kaldur. "Seriously?"
"Look, guys, I'm just as curious about this as the rest of you, but shouldn't we be doing something about that?" Zatanna interjected with a nervous glance towards the quickly approaching roaring.
"Nah, they'll have an easier time handling Grundy if there's no one else there to get in the way," Kara explained as she took a seat on the edge of the rooftop.
"You keep saying 'they'," Artemis noted, "What do you mean by 'they'?"
Suddenly, the thunderous roaring came again, but much, much closer, and with a powerful tremor, the grey bulk of the zombiefied villain came crashing down onto a roof only three buildings over.
"Well, so much for staying out of it!" Artemis yelled over the monster's cry, snatching up a broken bottle and preparing to leap into battle. But just as she started her charge, there was a sudden burst of wind and something snatched her arm, pulling her back onto the roof.
"Woooaaaahhh there, beautiful!" said the grinning red-head as he stepped in front of Artemis and pushed her back away from the villain. "No need to get your little green panties in a twist."
It took Artemis a moment to register who it was. "Wally?"
"You're here!" M'gann squealed happily, pulling the speedster into a big hug as if it had been years since she'd seen him.
"And late as always," Kara scoffed, although she was smiling.
"Shut up, K," Wally told the blonde before sticking out his tongue.
"Am I wrong?" she shrugged with feigned innocence.
"Give it a rest, you two," Kaldur practically pleaded, "At least for tonight. I am exhausted, and I do not have the energy to listen to your usual bickering."
"Alright look, I'm totally lost on what's going on here," Raquel broke in, "But will someone at least tell me WHY WE AREN'T EITHER FIGHTING OR RUNNING?"
"Uck," Kara fake gagged and rolled her eyes at the creature, "He's like some clingy ex-boyfriend. Seriously. He's been chasing me for days."
"And you failed to mention this to us earlier…how exactly?" Wally chided with a raised eyebrow, taking a seat next to her on the ledge.
"I thought he'd give up if I left town for a day or two," she replied with another shrug, "I mean, I keep beating him down, but it's like Metropolis's police don't know how to hold him or something."
"I suppose in that respect, it is a good thing that he followed you to Gotham then," Kaldur grunted as he planted himself on the edge of the rooftop as well, back slouched with exhaustion.
Raquel gaped down at their strangely relaxed comrades. "Kal, why are you sitting!" she yelled at him in frustration.
"Umm, guys!" M'gann's voice rang out in a high-pitched panic, "He just jumped a building closer!"
Attention was immediately back on Aqualad.
"Kaldur, Wally! You're the only ones with powers here!" Zatanna yelled at him, "Get up and do something!"
"Come on, Aqualad!" Superboy growled.
"Babe, listen to us!" Artemis tried Wally next, "If you don't do something soon…"
A heavy shadow cast down over them, and every hero froze as they counted out the number of buildings they'd just heard Grundy jump, hoping to God that they'd simply heard wrong. But sure enough, as they slowly turned around, the grey giant roared down at them with his fist raised menacingly in the air, and they knew they were absolutely screwed.
The beast suddenly froze mid-roar, rage melting into utter confusion. Fumbling around in attempt to reach his back, he finally found what had made that sound, and dislodged them from his back. In his beefy hands he held a piece of bat-shaped metal and a red and yellow object of similar shape and size. Everyone recognized the familiar trademarks instantly, even Grundy, and he clearly did not like it.
"LITTLE BATS THINK FUNNY-LOOKING DARTS HURT GRUNDY?" he roared into the open air as he scanned the skies for the flying rodents, "HA! GRUNDY JUST FINE! GRUNDY NOT HURT!" But just as the words left his mouth, the weapons in his hand started to beep threateningly before exploding into a thick cloud of black smoke. With the exception of Kaldur, Kara, Wally, the young heroes jumped back out of reach of the stunned monster and watched as he too took a couple of stumbling steps backwards, coughing as he tried to swat the smoke away from his face. He disappeared into the dark smog, but it was only a matter of seconds before they heard a loud yelp, and saw two more projectiles fly in from somewhere behind them.
As the smokescreen began to lift, the Team could now see Grundy's legs caught up in trip wire and his torso bound in black and yellow cord. There was a blur of movement, and zombie buckled over as two dark masses slammed into him before disappearing into the night once more. Rage flooded Grundy's face once more and he made to swing at his attackers, but the strong bonds wrapped around his body would not give, and the trip wire at his feet prevented him from leaving that spot. Another blur of movement sent Grundy rocking sideways, quickly followed by an attack from the other side that sent him rocking back the other way. Dizzy and off-balance, all it took was one final blow from the front and Grundy slammed to the ground with a pounding crack, causing the unstable building to completely give way and collapse into a pile of rubble beneath him. But before the zombie could go down with it, the wire wrapped around his feet was apparently attached to the roof of a neighboring tower, and he was left hanging there upside-down, finally knocked unconscious by his last slam into the concrete. It might not last long, but at least he'd stopped roaring for a little while.
It wasn't until then that the Team finally got a look at their saviors. A pair of matching capes seemed to appear from thin air, their concealing black exterior fluttering back as they fell from the sky, revealing a shimmering gold underbelly that seemed to glow in the inky blackness of the Gotham night. For a solitary moment as they gracefully landed on the ledge of the parallel building, the figures enveloped by these two-faced cloths were illuminated, close enough for the on-watching team to make out the brightly colored symbols proudly displayed on their chests. It was all in that one moment that every contestant in their little game fully understood the feelings of the Gothamites. They had been lost, chased, cornered, and powerless against the monsters bred by this brutal city; and the smog-covered skies of Gotham yielded them no ray of hope, no guiding light. But then a powerful entity rose from the shadows, initially just as dark and mysterious as its apparent brethren until those vibrant crests broke through the darkness and sent those same monsters howling away in fear. And it amazed the young heroes that a simple yellow 'R' and the golden icon of a bat could instill such instant, but almost overpowering, relief and awe.
The teens simply stared at the backs of their saviors, awestruck, as the latter surveyed the damage. Kaldur, Wally, and Kara, on the other hand, appeared more nostalgic than anything else, perhaps even simply bored and tired. Forcing herself to breathe again after nearly being crushed by a two-ton zombie, Zatanna opened her mouth and called out, "Robin?"
Both dark figures turned at the sound of her voice, the Boy Wonder snickering as usual, and the scarlet-haired girl with him sporting a smirk far too similar to her partner's.
"Hey guys!" Robin grinned, wide awake as if it were three in the afternoon rather than in the middle of the night, "Guess this means Team BatKids wins as always!"
A/N: Hope you enjoyed the chapter, and again, sorry it took so long! I definitely won't make you wait this long for the final chapter, although I don't know when I'll be able to put it out. But hey, don't forget to leave me a review :) Thanks for all the support guys! You're the best readers a girl could ever have :D