Disclaimer: Since ownership requires money, and I don't really have any, me owning Young Justice is like impossible!
Okay, wrote this up a while ago but didn't post it because I wanted to get another story written up first. For those who want to know which one, take a look at my poll. I have a description of it in the options. Still need a better title. =/
As for premise: what happens when M'gann watches a horror flick? Course she only has one line in the whole story but oh well. Enjoy.
Conner jerked his head around, breaking away from his conversation with Kaldur. They were outside the mountain taking Wolf out for a walk, far outside M'gann's telepathic link. But it wasn't too far for a kryptonian to hear the terrified screams of his girlfriend.
"M'gann!" Before the words could leave his mouth, Conner abandoned his friend on the mountain side and ran back into the cave.
Kaldur called after him for a moment, only to be scooped up from behind by Wolf and carried at top speed back through the hangar. Superboy still beat them inside. He ran through each doorway and straight to the common room where the scream originated before his leader made it to the hangar. He stopped for a moment in the doorway, petrified at the sight before him.
The rest of his team laid haphazardly in front of the TV unconscious, each experiencing some kind of nightmare.
Conner leapt over to M'gann's side first and tried to shake her awake, calling her name repeatedly. She was barely breathing, seemingly in a coma. The others –Wally, Artemis and Robin- were starting to moan in their sleep, some of them shaking. The boy of steel jerked his gaze around wildly about them, calling out each of their names in a panic. No one responded.
"Superboy," Kaldur breathlessly asked, "what happened?"
"I don't know." The bewildered clone held his girlfriend close to his chest as he tried to explain his actions. "I… I heard M'gann scream and then…"
Kaldur leaned over Wally, analyzing him with concern. The teen wasn't shaking like the other two, but he was clearly in pain. Artemis was pleading silently, clutching herself. Tears were flowing from behind Robin's sunglasses. Whatever happened to them, it hurt them all deeply.
"What should we do?" Conner begged. "We can't leave them like this."
"Calm down!" The young man's order snapped the teen out of his panic. Kaldur kept his voice level as he continued on. "Take them to the infirmary. I will join you there after talking to Red Tornado. He will know what to do."
The boy nodded, worry still controlling his features. Quickly he picked up his girlfriend and rushed her over to the medical beds on the opposite side of the cave. Kaldur took another look around the room, trying to find something out of the ordinary there that may have provoked this event. All he could find was the TV on with some zombie movie.
It was an hour later when they started waking up, Wally first. And he was screaming.
"AAAHHH! I'M DEAD!" He started hitting himself with the back of his hand, almost as if he were fighting off a thousand mosquitoes but didn't want to get them with his palm. Conner was quickly at his side trying to stop him from hurting himself.
"Wally stop it!"
"STOP WHAT?" the speedster insisted. "I'M DEAD!"
"Why do you think you are dead?" Kaldur asked quickly. He was having trouble contacting the League nearly the entire hour, but he finally patched through to a few of them. Flash though was still unavailable. Something about diplomatic relations with monkeys.
"I JUST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! OF COURSE I'M DEAD!"
Wally's insistence that he was dead took them all for a spin. Thanks to his shouting, both Artemis and Robin were awake, and neither of them responding much better. Artemis took one look at them and started to shake uncontrollably, muttering over and over again that she was so in trouble. Robin was slowly looking around for a few moments, then hugged his legs, burring his head into his knees and sobbing as he rocked himself.
"Wait a minute," Wally started, jerking his head around at Kaldur and Conner. "Areyoudeadtoo? Isthisheaven? Areyousupposedtobeangels? Looksmorelikeahospitaltome. WhereamI? Aren'tIdead?"
"Slow down a minute Wally," Conner started, flabbergasted by the guy's flapping lips. Kid Mouth was probably one of his most accurate nicknames. "We can hardly understand you."
"AreyouSuperman?" he suddenly asked, gaping at the black and red shirt the boy was wearing. Conner went stiff at the man's name, but confusion still covered both his and Kaldur's faces. "IsSupermanDEAD?"
"I'm not Superman and you're not dead!" The clone rubbed his head to ward off a headache. What was going on in this guy's head?
"Do you really not recognize us Wally?" Kaldur asked in earnest.
"Whyareyousoslow? Everything'sinslowmotion! What'sgoingon? AmIreallynotdead?" The speedster was starting to wave his arms about excitedly, picking up wind and speed. After a second of that, he noticed his buzzing hand and stared at it in awe. "COOL! LOOKWHATICANDO!"
"Superspeed, what else is new?" Conner rebutted. Was he always this childish?
"Superspeed? Seriously? Igotsuperspeed? LikeFlash?" Wally was getting more and more excited by the second, speeding up each and every moment.
"Just like Flash."
"YES!" Immediately Wally was on his feet spinning around in circles. A crazy grin plastered on his face. "I'mtheFlash! I'mtheFlash! Lookatme! Lookatme!"
"Kid, please settle down," Kaldur groaned, now rubbing his head. What was going in this boy's head? "It is difficult to contact your uncle."
"Youknowmyuncle?" The speedster jolted to a halt, grinning madly just inches from his face.
"Of course I do," the Atlantian started. "We all do."
"Wally, what's with you?" Conner demanded, glancing over to Artemis and Robin after a moment. M'gann was still out cold and showed no signs of waking. Artemis just stared horrified at them, trembling like a scared child while still mumbling she was in trouble over and over again. Robin kept his head in his knees, quiet sobs escaping him every few seconds as he rocked himself. "What's with all of you? Artemis? Robin?"
At her name Artemis jolted, going into a further panic. "How do you… how do you know my name? Who are you?"
"Robin?" Wally jerked his head around the room rapidly, looking for someone. "Where? Where? IsBatmanheretoo? That'ssocool!"
Robin didn't even respond to his name. Just kept rocking himself and crying as if the whole world was over and only he survived.
Concern grew on Kaldur and Conner's face. They'd never seen either of their teammates act like this. Artemis was always brave and determined with a skeptical spark. And Robin… well he was Robin. Always smiling, playing with words and flipping around the cave without a single care in the world. Besides Wally believing he was dead for a few moments, he was pretty much himself. The memory lapse in him though was disconcerting. Was it possible the other two also lost their memories?
Artemis took in a scared breath at Batman's name before trying to make herself as small as possible on her bed. "Please no. No Batman, no cops. Daddy doesn't like them. Please don't…"
"Artemis," Kaldur started, going to her side to comfort her, "you are among friends here. Do you not remember? Batman is our… ally. Our commander. He is—"
With each word Artemis pulled further and further away from him, terrified. "No… Daddy's gonna be so mad. Please no. No Batman. Daddy won't like it. Please no."
Conner was at Robin's side seconds after, trying to encourage him to talk. "But Batman's… Robin, tell her! Tell her what Batman's really like!"
"ThisisRobin?" Wally zoomed to the foot of Robin's bed, then all around him to see what he looked like up close. "Hedoesn'tlookallRobinytome. Helooksallwhimpy. Isn'tRobineleven? Don'tlookeleventome. AreyousurethisisRobin?"
The boy wonder kept rocking himself, not responding to anyone there. Kaldur watched their youngest member, something donning inside his mind. Both Wally and Artemis' seemed to mentally go back to times before they became heroes. Had Robin also—"Robin, do you not know who we are?"
"Stop calling me that."
Robin's painfully small voice was barely heard, even by Conner. The kid was shaking a little, pulling into himself even more. It nearly broke Conner and Kaldur's hearts hearing him speak like this. Like there was nothing left for him in this world.
Slowly, the clone placed a hand on the boy's shoulder, trying to comfort him. "Robin…"
"STOP CALLING ME THAT!" he exploded, snapping his covered glare at Conner, tears steaming down his face. "YOU'RE NOT MY MOM!"
"That'sprettyobvious," Wally piped in, losing interest by the second. "I'mhungry."
"SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!" Before anyone could respond, Robin sprung out of his bed and over their heads, making a mad dash for the door. His sunglasses shattered to the ground just as he escaped their sight, running as far from them as possible.
The three boys looked after him in shock, floored at the acrobat's sudden actions. Wally shrugged after a moment. "MaybeheisRobinafterall."
"Batman's gonna kill us." This statement didn't help Artemis calm down in the slightest.
"Not yet." Kaldur jerked his attention back to Wally and Artemis, trying to find a way to salvage the situation. Right then they had three teen heroes who had no idea they fought crime and one still out cold. One had bounced back emotionally in an instant while the other two were having mental and/or emotional breakdowns. In Robin's current state he could hurt himself or others. Without those sunglasses, his identity could be easily compromised. They had to find a way to both calm the boy down and appease the Bat's orders to keep his identity confidential. Then there was Artemis' current emotional state. She was terrifying when in a temper. They didn't know how she'd behave when scared like this. He and Conner had to bring everything back to order before one of the other Leaguers arrived.
Unfortunately there was only one option really. "Wally, stay with the girls. Make sure they are comfortable and stay here. Conner, do you have any spare sunglasses around?"
"Yeah, one or two. Rob…" Quickly the clone understood what he was planning. "I'll go get them and meet you in the kitchen to find him."
The young man nodded as they strode out the room. "With any luck, we will find him before Batman or the others arrive."
Dick ran as fast as he could down each hallway and turn, trying to find a way out. He had to keep running, find a way out, see the sky, go back home. Back to where they were. The pain from running so hard and so long burned his body, but it didn't compare to the pain deep in his chest. The emptiness that grew with every passing moment.
Nothing could compare to it. In his mind it kept replaying over and over again. He heard the same sounds in his ears. The snapping, screaming, silence. It wouldn't stop. He wanted to hear something, anything, other than that. Over and over again.
Why wouldn't it stop? Why did they stop? Why did it happen? Why didn't he go with them? Why had he hesitated that one second? Why was he left alone on that platform?
The questions kept plaguing him, just like their last few moments of life. How they fell, why they fell, what caused it. It had to be that man. That guy who fought with Mr. Haly the other day.
Where was Mr. Haly? He would be there, wouldn't he? For that matter, where was he? Why couldn't he find the sky? Where was the circus tent? Where were his parents'… bodies?
Tears blinded him as he ran into a large cave-like room. Two tunnel-like structures were becoming dark as two men walked out of them. Instantly Dick stopped in his tracks, staring wide eyed at them both for a moment, his eyes locking on to the black clad one's white eyes a second after since he was charging straight at him.
"Robin, where are your glasses?"
He couldn't help it. The day had been too much for him. He screamed, louder and harder than anyone had not too long ago when they fell.
Both men jolted back in surprise at his outburst, the giant black mass's jaw dropping a fraction. Quickly he tried to come towards Dick only for the boy to jerk away from him and darted towards the one in blue and red. He knew who this man was. He was Superman! He was a hero! He would take him home!
"Superman! Save me!" he shouted as he ran around to Superman's opposite side and gripped his cape. Confusion ruled the man of steel's face, looking back and forth between the two next to him.
"Robin," the other man started again, puzzlement entering his gruff voice as he reached towards the boy, "what are you—"
"DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Instantly the man's hand pulled back, hurt entering his face for a moment. Dick cowered behind the kyrptonian's cape, crying and shaking in fear. "LEAVE ME ALONE! DON'T CALL ME ROBIN! THAT'S WHAT MY… my mom…"
Again the scenes played in his mind, nearly drowning out the world around him. Each horrifying scene engrained into his mind from that moment to the end of days. The ache within him kept mounting with every piece of truth he realized as it played. Never again would he hear their voices, feel their arms around him, see their smiles, taste their cooking. His life would never be the same again.
Superman gaped at the kid for a long moment, at a complete loss for words. The other man watched the boy as well, leaning forward in yearning to help him somehow but hesitant after the earlier rejection. Dick didn't see it. Maybe if he had, he'd let the man come towards him.
"Robin…" Superman started in a low whisper, starting to lean over towards the kid. He didn't respond to the name, not from him.
"Dick." Out of habit, the boy looked up at his nickname, his eyes now level with the terrifying man kneeling before him. Concern seemed to fill his face and voice, kept only to a volume the three of them could head. "You honestly don't recognize us?"
Quickly Dick buried his face into Superman's side, holding on to him for dear life. How did that scary pointy eared man know his name? How did anyone know his mother's pet name for him? Defiantly as he could, he murmured, "I know about Superman. I know he's a good guy. He'll take me home. Right?"
Superman stared down at the boy in total bewilderment. How could he not… "Of course I will," he whispered kindly, kneeling to the boy's eyelevel before continuing. "But you know, Batman won't hurt you. He'd never hurt you. He'd sooner cut off his arm than hurt you."
A heavy silence filled the space between the three of them, the adults knowing full well the child was the only one who could break it. Slowly Dick looked up to the Kryptonian's eyes, bewilderment filling his lonely face.
Shock permeated from both of the Leaguers. Superman looked over to Batman, reading his expression before he could mask it once again. Loss. He could only imagine the horror inside his friend's mind from hearing those words. For the better part of five years they were together, and now the kid couldn't put the name to the costume. What happened?
"Um…" he blinked in shock for a moment before trying to answer. "The big scary guy there with the bat on his chest."
"Dick." The two looked over to Batman, the child more cautiously than the man. Slowly he pulled back his cowl, revealing his face to the boy. His grey eyes looked deep into Dick's blue, almost begging for a certain answer. At least that's what they sensed. It was hard to tell with that emotionless face habit of his. "I need to know. Do I look familiar to you at all? Even the slightest bit."
For a moment the kid hesitated. The man was a lot less scary now, especially since his voice seemed to change and he wasn't looming over him. He stared at the man's face for a good minute before shaking his head then burying his face into Superman's cape. Dick wrapped his arms around the man of steel, shaking slightly as fresh waves of emotions rolled through him. He just lost his family. He really shouldn't be playing a name guessing game unless he was naming their killer.
Superman reflexively held Dick close to him, trying to calm the boy's shaking as he looked back to his friend. Under normal circumstances, Bruce would be the one comforting this child. Not being allowed to, by his own son, was killing the man inside. His face became deathly still, slack everywhere except around his eyes. Bruce just kept his wide, disbelieving eyes on his little bird, a pain like no other filling him.
One thing Dick Grayson never did in the past was reject him. Not once in all those years they'd been together. If anything, this boy did everything he could to make sure Bruce stayed close to him. For him to pick Superman over him, especially when he was hurting inside, seemed impossible. There had to be a logical explanation for this.
Slowly he thought through it, analyzing the boy's actions and speech pattern. He hadn't heard him talk like this in quite some time. It was similar to how he acted when hit with fear toxin or after a particularly grueling nightmare. Especially when he was younger. He clung to Superman because he knew who he was, he trusted him. Dick was always a fan of Superman. Had the pajamas to prove it tucked away somewhere. Back when they first met, Batman was still just an urban legend. Only one way to prove his theory.
"Dick, how old are you?"
The boy looked at him from the corner of his eye for a moment before answering in a shaky voice. "Eight. I'll be nine soon."
Batman held up a hand, silencing the man of steel. The boy hadn't changed a drop physically. Something had happened to him on a mental level. Quickly he pulled his cowl back on and stood up to start his investigation and questioning. "Stay with him Clark. I have some work to do."
"But…" Superman got to his feet, now carrying a clinging child in his arms and at a loss of what to do. Playing with kids, entertaining them, saving them from danger, that was about all the experience he had with them, even with Dick. He knew how to handle him when he was happy or mad, but he never had to comfort him. That was always Bruce and Alfred's forte.
"Just stay with him," the Bat reiterated, handing a spare domino mask to him. He woke up the computer to do a basic search of the mountain before completing his instruction. "He'll do the rest."
For a minute, the man of steel stood dumbly, the mask in one hand and the boy in his other. A short sniffle woke him from his trance, turning all his attention to the crying thirteen year old. He'd seen the boy cry before, but it was always to Bruce, and rarely ever in public. The kid had a lot of pride. Maybe at eight he just didn't care…
His eyes widened, having finally put all the pieces together. Of course Dick didn't care if anyone saw him like this right then. In his mind, he just lost his family. It was the worst day of his life.
How had this happened? The team hadn't gone on a mission in the past week. They were just hanging out at the cave some afternoons, and that was what they were doing that evening. Just hanging out. Right? Superman looked over to Batman, knowing he would figure this out.
That's when he heard them coming. He turned so the only the boy's back could be seen from the hall the two were rushing out of. Quickly both Kaldur and Conner came into view, each clutching a pair of sunglasses while wearing worried looks on their faces. Both men noted their states as soon as they entered and neither was surprised by their immediate dreading surprised expressions. They clearly were hoping to avoid what had just transpired.
Batman's threatening voice jerked both boys to attention, silencing Conner for a moment. Kaldur started the explanation best he could. "We are not entirely certain. While Conner and I were talking a walk outside, Robin, Artemis, Wally and M'gann were watching a movie. Conner heard a scream and we ran inside. Everyone was unconscious. We took them to medical then contacted you and their mentors. That was an hour ago. Everyone but M'gann has woken up, but none of them seem to recognize us. Wally believed he was just struck by lightning and dead for a while before he realized he had superspeed. Artemis is cowering on her medical bed. And Robin…"
They looked over to their youngest member, still crying in the man of steel's arms. "He does not even remember his name. He ran out of medical before we could calm him and have searched for him since."
"Not ten minutes ago."
Batman nodded, glancing once at Robin before continuing his questioning. "Miss Martian is the only one still unconscious right?"
"Y—Yeah," Conner piped in. "She looks like she's having a nightmare."
The dark knight nodded and tapped his com. "Manhunter, what's your ETA?" He listened for a moment then nodded. "Meet us in medical. Your niece's powers struck out again."
"What?" "You think M'gann—"
"It's the only logical explanation," Batman explained. "Physically Robin's fine, but his mind's returned to his most traumatizing event. Same with Wally."
"Bounced back," he finished for Conner. "Flash said he recovered quickly when he gained his superspeed. It took a full fifteen minutes to convince him he wasn't dead and the experiment worked. Artemis has had a hard life. Her mind probably reverted to childhood to protect itself. Only one capable of doing this to them is M'gann."
"But why?" Superman asked, rubbing Robin's back as he joined the discussion. "Why did this happen?"
"Did any of you consider what would happen if she watched a horror movie?" Batman brought up security footage of the foursome watching a zombie film. Everyone but M'gann were laughing at it and making fun of the show. She, in all frankness, was freaking out. "Considering how she turned a controlled training simulation into a life threatening nightmare, sending everyone mentally back to their most traumatizing event isn't far fetched. Everyone within her mental range would be affected. Manhunter can elaborate once he arrives."
Quickly he strode past the two teens towards medical, silently ordering them to follow. They obeyed, realizing they weren't going to be blamed for this crisis, but also worrying for their friends' sakes. Superman took up the rear, carrying Robin still as the kid continued to cry. At least he wasn't shaking anymore.
J'onn's arrival couldn't have come fast enough. Artemis was still freaking out, almost going in to hysterics when Batman and Superman came into the room. Wally just excitedly buzzed around the room, stopping only for seconds to check out each Leaguer. Robin remained attached to Superman, keeping his face buried in his chest. Superman kept giving Batman sorry, uncertain looks whenever a new volley of tears started from the boy. Batman did his best not to look, his jaw tightening every time he saw them. Kaldur was certain the man was ready to rip the kid away from the man of steel at any moment, but didn't because of Robin's current state. Conner was the only one at M'gann's side, worry spreading across his features with each second.
When the more experienced Martian arrived and started comprehending the situation, he nodded, agreeing with the Bat. "Considering her undeveloped mental powers, I'd say you're on the right track. My niece is currently going through a resting cycle, one that won't end safely for twenty-four hours. Once completed, it'll be like waking from a bad dream. She's going to be alright."
His final words were aimed at Conner, allowing him to relax at last. He was afraid she was worse off than the others, but it was just a minor healing coma. Now he only hoped she wouldn't be severely punished for this accident.
J'onn turned to the others. "As for the others, they're merely in a waking nightmare."
"Awhat?" Wally demanded, bouncing as he sat, trying to stay still.
"Simply put, you're mentally re-experiencing the most terrifying event of your life, but none of your memories are lost."
"So you can bring them back to normal." It wasn't supposed to be a question, just an order for the Martian to fix that his niece broke. Batman's voice was becoming agitated.
"Indeed I can." J'onn looked over to Wally first. "I believe we should start with the simplest case and work upwards in difficulty. It will give me practice and assure the best results for the others."
Though it was clear from Batman's scowl he wanted Robin back to normal right then and there, he nodded. Making sure there would be no lingering effects was a good thing too. With his approval, Manhunter came towards the speedster.
"Whoathere!" Wally started, suddenly uncooperative. "Whatexactlyareyouplanning?"
"I'm going to return the past two years to you," J'onn explained.
"Wally," Kaldur began, "in the past two years, you have had superspeed and been the Flash's partner."
"Really?" Excitement filled his face.
"Yes." They were all losing patience with this boy. "Do you not want to remember being a hero?"
Quickly Wally laid down on the bed, grinning from ear to ear. "Layitonme!"
His friends couldn't help but to snicker at his cheerfulness at the thought of being a hero. J'onn placed his hands on Wally's head before his eyes started to glow. The speedster seemed to fall asleep once more, then stayed completely still for a few minutes. A heavy silence filled the room as everyone but the victims of this event watched. Artemis continued to mutter to herself, just as Robin refused to leave Superman and stop crying.
In about five minutes, Wally groaned. J'onn took his hands off of the teen as he slowly opened his eyes. "It is done."
"Ow…" Wally rubbed his head as he pushed himself up. "Did someone get the number of that zombie?"
"Are you well my friend?" Kaldur placed a hand on his shoulder, worry still in his voice.
"Got a whopper of a headache Kal," the speedster started, "but I'm fine. What am I doing in medical? And why am I so hungry?"
His friend smiled in relief. Wally was back to normal. Kaldur patted his friend's shoulder. "All will be explained shortly. For now, let us get you some food."
Wally's confusion ruled his face. "Uh… okay…" He looked around, spotting both Artemis and Robin within moments. His eyes grew wide at their current states. "What the… what's wrong with Robin and Artemis?"
"Nothing that won't be rectified shortly," J'onn insisted. He came over towards the cowering girl still on her bed.
"Are you gonna eat me now?" Artemis whispered, clearly terrified.
Wally gaped at her in disbelief. Never had he seen her so scared. For that matter, he never saw Robin hold on to anyone so desperately. Why was he crying to Superman of all people? "Rectified? What happened?"
"Just a waking nightmare," Kaldur tried to explain best he could without causing anymore distress. "Give Martian Manhunter a chance. He already helped you—"
"Helped me? What are you—"
Batman's one order shut up the speedster in an instant. Didn't stop the guy from glaring. The Leaguer continued. "There was an accident. Manhunter's bringing your memories back. You had the lightest case. If you want to stay, shut up."
Wally continued to scowl, but looked away. It was clear he didn't like this, staying still and doing nothing, but it was all he could do. He folded his arms stubbornly as the others tried to convince Artemis to lay down and subject herself to the Martian's mental probing.
"This will only help you regain your confidence," J'onn tried to explain to the girl.
Stubbornly she shook her head, fighting back tears. "Daddy won't like this."
"Artemis…" The Martian looked over to his fellow Leaguers helplessly. Superman took one look at Batman for a moment before sighing heavily and nodding. The others hadn't heard the mental conversation the three had, but they saw the results. Manhunter looked back to Artemis, his eyes glowing a fraction of a moment. Within seconds the girl passed out into his arms. Wally jerked forward in alarm when she did, but a single hand signal from Batman kept him back. Gently she was arrayed on the bed before setting his hands on her head.
"Hopefully this will not take long."
"Will it hurt her?" Wally asked quickly.
"It did not hurt you." Manhunter's eyes glowed as he entered Artemis' mind. As the others waited, they watched her face and it's ever changing expressions. It contorted constantly, her breathing changing from calm to ragged within seconds. Continually experience a steady stream of nightmares. There were a few moans, but she didn't wake. After five minutes, she calmed down, her face becoming stony. Somewhere deep inside, she became brave, able to endure what she was facing.
It was another few minutes before the Martian released her head, sighing heavily. "It is done."
"Then why isn't she—"
Artemis' moan and reaching for her head cut Wally off. "Aspirin."
The speedster's eyes lit up as he zoomed to her side, barely dodging the alien. "Hey Blondie! How ya feeling?"
"Like I've been hit by a truck." Slowly the archer pushed herself up, giving the room an inquiring look. "What the… What are we doing here?"
"All will be explained once Robin is well." Kaldur brought Artemis a cup of water and the medication she asked for.
"Robin?" She jerked her head around to find him on reflex, her eyes growing wide when she finally spotted him. "What happened to—"
"Maybe we should take Robin into another room," Superman suggested, still awkwardly comforting the crying boy. The kid was exhausting himself with all his tears.
"Agreed." Batman loomed over the team, but kept his voice level. "Kaldur, explain what you can to them. We'll reconvene in the briefing room when we're ready. Manhunter."
With that, the Leaguers took their youngest member into the emergency room, locking the door. The rest of the team exchanged glances before the two bewildered ones rounded on their leader for answers.
"Don't go!" Dick demanded as Superman tried to ease the boy on the bed in the room. His death grip was making it difficult. "Don't leave me alone!"
"I'm not leaving Dick," the man of steel tried earnestly. "We just need you to lay down so our friend can help you."
"I don't need help! I need my…" A fresh volley of tears filled the boy's eyes. Why wouldn't the visions of their bodies go away?
"Dick…" Superman's heart ached for the broken boy. Now he understood why Bruce took in this boy and gave him the role of Robin. He needed it, just as much as Bruce needed Batman. It helped drive the pain away, knowing he was doing something to prevent it from happening again. If left alone, this usually bright, cheery child would probably turn out the same way Bruce had. But how did this boy bounce back the first time?
"Zucco was caught."
Dick suddenly stopped crying, his breath catching in his throat. Batman continued, stating the facts and keeping all emotion away as he fabricated a story. "Your parents received justice, and it's all thanks to you. You hit your head while in protective custody and don't remember the danger you put yourself in. Martian Manhunter is trying to help restore your memories, but he can't do a thing until you let go of Superman and lay down."
Superman looked over to his friend, raising an eyebrow. Half of that was a blatant lie, and Batman almost never lied to his Robin. It was a promise they made to each other.
But the boy had stopped crying. He had frozen as he listened and processed the information. Zucco. He hadn't told anyone about that man yet. He didn't have the time. He was in a strange place with Superman and two others he seemed to trust. He didn't know how he got there. They knew his name and his mother's pet name for him. The only way they could have known all of that was if he told them. The only way he could have gone to this place without knowing it was if he was taken into protective custody (how did Zucco have so much power to involve Superman?) and lost his memory. It all made sense.
Having figured it out somehow, Dick nodded and eased his grip off of the man. Superman gently placed him on the bed, secretly relieved he no longer had to hold him. As he pulled away from him, Dick grabbed his wrist, scared again. "Stay with me. Please."
"We'll be right here," Superman agreed, laying his other hand on the boy's. Batman slid to his other side, nodding to J'onn. Dick closed his eyes nervously as the Martian placed his hands on his head. As his breathing settled in a dreamlike state, his grip eased off of the man of steel's wrist, finally letting him go.
He looked over to Batman, his cowled eyes constantly on his boy. "You lied to him."
"He won't remember it."
"Doesn't change the fact you lied to him." Superman raised an eyebrow. His friend didn't respond. "How are you going to live with that?"
"He let go of you didn't he?" Batman watched the boy as he slept, trying to clear his own mind of the feelings he had ever since Dick screamed in terror at him. Seeing him traumatized like that again… To reject him of all people… It was almost a nightmare coming to life. And despite everything, it looked like Dick was still experiencing nightmares.
Without warning the boy jerked up, shouting. "NO! NO NO NO! STOP IT! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
Each Leaguer jerked involuntarily, floored by his sudden actions. Dick's eyes wildly darted about before landing on Batman, who leaned towards him in concern. "Dick?"
The kid slammed into his mentor's chest, wrapping his arms tightly around him, crying once again. Relief seemed to fill his voice. "Bruce!"
Dick shook in Batman's arms, holding on to him for dear life. The man rubbed his boy's back while he shushed him and ran his other hand through his hair. Slowly the boy started to calm down, muttering something in a low voice. "Don't let them take me. I don't wanna go."
"No one's going to take you away Dick," his greatest protector murmured lowly. He could already guess where the boy's mind was: just a couple years after they met, during a particularly gruesome series of events ending in his kidnapping. After it, Dick renewed using every childish method of comfort for the next six months.
"What happened?" Superman asked J'onn. The Martian shook his head.
"Hard to tell. One moment I was awakening him to normal state, then another trauma appeared. One of similar, yet lesser strength than the first. And he rejected me."
They both stared at the duo for a long moment. "At least he knows who Batman is this time."
Batman sent him a chiding glare before looking towards J'onn. "Another attempt must be made."
"Attempt?" Dick looked up to him inquiringly. "For what?"
They all exchanged looks before trying to explain. "Something happened to you Dick. Something you can't remember. We're trying to help you remember so you aren't scared anymore."
The boy cocked his head curiously, still holding fast to Batman. "Can't remember? But I've been—"
"I'll explain later," his guardian started. "Right now you need to let Martian Manhunter into your mind to help you."
"Martian Manhunter?" There was a hint of excitement in his voice. Mentally he was at a point where he hadn't met him yet.
"Yes. Now lay down so you don't hurt yourself during the process."
Slowly the boy nodded and let himself be eased onto his back once again. He kept one hand on Batman, his eyes not leaving him. "You'll stay with me right?"
His mentor nodded. "I won't leave you."
This brought a much needed smile to Dick's face, letting him relax on the bed. J'onn placed his hands on the boy's head again, entering a trance once more. He settled back into an uneasy slumber, letting the man of steel feel relief once again.
Superman watched the boy in silence for several minutes. This time around, Robin would come back to his senses. That's what he felt. But when he looked over to Batman, he started to doubt.
"Call it a hunch," the dark knight murmured.
"What do you—"
Dick's blood curdling scream cut him off, throwing J'onn back once again. Instantly Batman grabbed the boy's shoulders, jerking him awake. Helplessly he looked at his mentor, looking him over rapidly before lunging into another hug and apologizing profusely. Batman held him once again, soothing his fears and worries while reassuring him they were safe and there was nothing to be sorry for.
Superman helped Manhunter back to his feet, casting glances between the duo and the Martian. "What happened this time?"
"Uuugh… a physically and emotionally traumatizing event. Only a year later or so later. I believe I saw a man with half a—"
"Don't say it." If the tone of his voice wasn't enough to detour the end of his description, Batman's protective glare was. Both aliens took a step back, taking in exactly what the kid was going through before making any more moves towards them.
Slowly the dark knight calmed his squire down enough for him to listen. "Dick, we need to finish running a few tests on you before going home. Lay back down."
The boy looked up pleadingly at him for a long moment, but silently nodded. Whatever had transpired in his mind clearly made him more obedient, at least when it came to medical orders. He still gripped Batman's wrist as he complied, closing his eyes reluctantly. Batman made a slight nod towards J'onn, indicating he could begin again.
Once Dick was unconscious again, Superman looked over to his friend. "Any more events we should know about?"
The man of steel gaped at him. "Just how many times has he—"
"Once is enough Clark." Batman's voice gained some sorrow. "You know what this job entails, and you know how Gotham is."
The dark knight brushed aside some of his boy's hair back soothingly, calming his feverish dreams for a moment or two. This life would forever be filled with horrifying events, and despite his best efforts, he couldn't protect his child forever. It was a painful truth he was growing to learn.
Again the boy started awake, but this time he wasn't sobbing or screaming, just breathing hard like he was just in a marathon. He looked around wildly, looking into each Leaguer's face in disbelief. Dick tried to form words, only for Batman to lay a hand on his chest.
"Just a nightmare. Relax and let J'onn help you."
"Nightmare?" He looked around once more. "Felt so real. What am I doing here? Where's the team?"
"I'll explain after J'onn's finished," Batman insisted.
"Hush." The word made everyone blink. Neither alien had heard him use it before, but it did its work splendidly on Dick. He quieted immediately. "I'll explain soon. Just lie back down and it'll soon be over."
Reluctantly the boy nodded, leaning back onto the bed before wiping his eyes clear. Manhunter placed his hands back on his head once more, slipping back into the kid's mind. Batman stepped back from the bed, motioning Superman to do likewise. The man of steel cast him a reluctant yet curious look, forcing the Bat to explain. "There shouldn't be any other outbursts. That last one was probably linked to the failsafe training mission."
"Hence why you said nightmare this time," the kryptonian concluded. The Bat nodded once, regaining all his stoic composure once again. His friend shook his head. "A kid shouldn't have this many traumatizing experiences Bruce."
"You try stopping him." Their old argument was cut of as the other alien lifted his hands away. Dick groaned, rubbing his head.
"It is done," J'onn concluded.
"Ow…" Dick sat up slowly, wincing all the while. He blinked in confusion as he looked around, licking his lips. He looked at Batman, then Superman, then to Martian Manhunter before looking back to his mentor, completely confused. "What the heck happened? Why am I in medical?"
"Dick!" Superman lunged forward, giving the boy a quick hug. "You're all better!"
"Uh… Okay… What?" Awkwardly Dick hugged him back, looking over to Batman befuddled. "What's going on?"
"What's the last thing you remember?" His mentor asked as his comrade briefly released his protégé.
"We've been so worried! How are you feeling?" The big blue boyscout looked over Dick for a moment, freaking the kid out.
"Honestly," he started, backing slightly away from his uncle figure, "I've got a huge headache and I'm really thirsty. Mind getting me a drink while I think?"
Superman beamed. "Of course! Be right back." And he was gone.
Dick exchanged glances with Batman and Manhunter. "How long has he been in Mama Hen mode?"
"Just a few minutes." Batman folded his arms and cocked his head, still expecting an answer.
His partner looked to the ground for a moment, sliding to the side of the bed to think. "We were watching a zombie movie here in the mountain. M'gann was freaking out when this one guy was launching grenades at them and…"
His eyes widened, realizing what must have happened, at least in part. Dick gripped his forehead, groaning to himself. "Her mental powers did something to us didn't it?"
"While she was freaking out."
"How bad was it?" He looked up to his father figure almost pleadingly.
Batman didn't respond for a few seconds. "No one's going to repeat what happened."
Dick sighed heavily. "So no more horror flicks around M'gann right?"
"Here's your water!" Superman zoomed back in carrying three water bottles.
Dick gave him his best friendly smirk as he took one and started downing it. He was dehydrated, that was all the kid really knew. Great. He'd been crying for who knows how long and couldn't remember why. There was no way he was feeling the aster right then.
A/N: and this is why you don't want a soft hearted psychic watching zombie/horror movies. M'gann will wake up fine the next day, but for humans it's always different.
Wally's big trauma as far as i can tell is being struck by lightning. So he's mentally at age 13 in this story. But Wally being wally, he'd bounce back fast. Barry's at Gorilla city talking to those guys (can't remember name!). The flash family were always friendly with those guys, minus Grodd whom they always take down.
Artemis, I think it's pretty well established, was abused as a child. She toughened herself up later and that's how we got the girl we love today. Since she doesn't have a single traumatizing event making her who she is, probably she was sent to the time she first realized her dad scared her. So... not long after her mom got taken in? Dunno...
And Robin. Poor Dick Grayson goes through so much. First one is his parents' deaths of course. Second one is from the story I mentioned at the beginning notes, third was two-face, fourth was failsafe. I'd say parents dying in front of you tops them all. Bats being rejected because Dick didn't know him yet was pretty fun to do to them. bats having to lie, that was even more fun. Over all, I liked writing this story.
And um... about my other works I haven't updated in forever... sorry? Head buzzing with the next series I wanna post up. Still have everything on my desktop so I haven't forgotten. Will get back to them soon. Posting this was to lighten the load a bit. And if you wanna know what the other series I want to work on are, check out the poll and my profile. So many options... =S Can't focus.