Ch. 5 Noises
A/N: I feel so horrible. I know I've kept you waiting for a month now and I'm so very sorry. My poor little laptop crashed and wouldn't turn on, then the Olympics came on, then I realized how stupid I was for putting off all my summer homework until a week before school starts. Btw, would anyone care to give me a full summary of The Kite Runner? Thanks. Anyway, I'll try to make it up to you by updating much more frequently in the future. I do have to do some more school work, and then I'll actually be in school, but I will do my absolute best to finish this story before the hiatus is over. (Just curious, does anyone actually read the authors note anymore? If you are reading this, post a review saying whose costume you like the most in Young Justice and I will try to grant a wish of yours in this story.) I admit I've done a pretty crappy job of updating regularly so far. Okay, without further ado, the long awaited (I hope) Chapter 5!
Disclaimer: Since Young Justice is already copyrighted, I think I'll sneak in sideways and copyleft it.
Artemis looked around at the group of heroes staring openly at her undisguised face and gave a small smile. "Well, it's great to be back." -Ch. 4
Kaldur knew something was wrong the moment he woke up. He couldn't remember exactly what had brought him here, but he was certainly in the Cave's medical ward and his face felt like it had been run over by a semi. In fact, he had a rather large headache that he couldn't account for. He closed his eyes again and ran what he did know through his head. There was a plan to attack the Mountain, he didn't have time to warn Nightwing, he arrived with Artemis after sending troopers ahead, they were about to engage in battle when- when Megan had attacked them! Kaldur suddenly jackknifed upright and looked for Artemis in the beds beside him. If Megan had blasted them with her telepathic powers, Artemis could be seriously hurt. He had a headache sure, but he wasn't completely debilitated like he knew he should be. Megan had huge amounts of untamed power when she was mad and he didn't understand why he was still okay. Artemis couldn't be seen either, unless that one bed at the end of the row that was wrapped in privacy curtains was hers. Kaldur hoped with every part of him that Artemis had gotten off as easy as he did and was simply recovering in a different room. The only way he could imagine Megan stopping her attack once she started was if someone she trusted convinced her to. That meant Nightwing must have intervened and kept Megan from hurting his friends. Of course that action might have revealed their plan, but at least he and Artemis would be spared. Now he just had to confirm his hypothesis and find out exactly what had happened.
His right wrist was handcuffed to the bed rail, but it was easy enough to break with a sudden jerk of his arm. Those handcuffs weren't designed to withstand an Atlantean's strength. Kaldur cautiously got to his feet and took a few quiet steps towards the shielded bed. He had to know what had happened to Artemis and what Nightwing had revealed to the team. He might still be their worst enemy, or he might be a close friend once again. He had to know all the variables before he could act. It seemed odd that he was left in the room with a flimsy constraint and no guard. Perhaps Nightwing did explain everything to the team, or perhaps everyone was busy dealing with other repercussions of the battle and didn't have any members to spare for a guard. He continued his short walk to the bed then stopped at the curtain. He didn't relish seeing anyone injured, but he especially didn't want to see that Artemis had been hurt under his watch. He had argued against her accompanying him at all, but she and Nightwing had protested that she knew how to act like a villain and would be one more open ear behind enemy lines. It increased their chances of finding out the identity of the Light's partner by double. Wally had finally relented once Kaldur promised to do everything in his power to keep her safe. He was afraid if he opened the curtain he would see that his promise was broken.
Steeling his nerves, he quietly slid the curtain open and was shocked to see not Artemis, but Nightwing. He was obviously unconscious, but Kaldur did not see any apparent wounds that could have caused it. He was further dismayed to see Nightwing without his mask. The identity of the former Boy Wonder was one of the most closely guarded secrets in the League and the team. If that secret was no longer a concern, what did that mean for his friend?
A sudden scraping of metal on tile made Kaldur jerk his head to the side and see Robin shifting in a chair beside the bed. He had been so quiet Kaldur hadn't even realized he was there. Robin was looking at him almost apathetically, without worry, anger, or fear.
"You can relax you know, your secret plan isn't a secret anymore".
Kaldur most definitely did not relax at the boy's words. Obviously their ploy was revealed, but why was he speaking so…. mechanically? He hadn't known Robin when he left for the mission, but Nightwing was always talking about his little brother. This didn't seem like the fun little kid he had described. Robin's blank expression frightened Kaldur.
"What has happened to Nightwing? Was he injured in the battle? Do you know what happened to Artemis?" Kaldur hurriedly asked. He just had to have some answers soon.
"Huh, I guess you're the only one not to know," Robin said. "Do you remember Megan blasting you and Artemis? She would have really messed up your minds, except Di- Nightwing stopped her. He took the full blast instead."
Kaldur took a step back in shock. He and Artemis were okay because Nightwing stepped between them and Megan? But that must mean…. "Robin, please tell me, what is his condition?"
"He's gone. Megan took it too far and his mind couldn't hold up against both attacks. He's catatonic."
This could not be happening. Kaldur knew the risks of their plan; he knew he would be in constant danger from both sides, and he accepted those risks. He was prepared to sacrifice himself for this mission, but he wasn't ready to sacrifice his friend. Nightwing was the one that should have been safe. He stumbled back again until he felt his legs hit the cool metal rails of the next bed. He sat down suddenly and cradled his head in his hands. The mission was over, but what did they have to show for their work? Was it all worth it? Kaldur couldn't move, and he especially couldn't bring himself to look at the scene behind the curtain. No, it wasn't worth it.
Wally knew there would be mass chaos when Artemis was revealed, and he was right. It took an hour to calm the team down and zeta beam back to the Cave while Batman briefed the League on the damage to the Mountain. There were tears all around as they sat in the living room of the Cave, but Wally didn't know whether they were tears of joy at Artemis being alive, or sadness at Nightwing's condition, or maybe just shock at everything that had happened. He didn't know how they were handling the idea of one team member lost and one found at the same time. Of course he was glad Artemis and Kaldur were okay, but now all he could think about was his friend lying in the med ward. Catatonic. Wally knew what the word meant, but he wasn't prepared to face what that would mean for a loved one. Nothing would ever be the same. Dick was alive, but he wasn't here with them anymore. He was gone for good.
The team was obviously going to be in disarray for a long time before they started the healing and accepting processes. The ones that worried Wally the most were Batgirl, Robin, Conner, and Megan. 'Oh God, I don't even want to think about how Megan's feeling right now' he thought. She had always been very emotional, and the guilt that she must have now…. Wally shuddered and mentally promised to support the Martian any way he could. They had to get through this together, as a team. Batgirl and Robin were devastated by the announcement of Nightwing's condition. Batgirl tried to put up a brave face, but Wally could tell she would be crying herself to sleep for a long time. She had known Nightwing for so long now; they were starting to take steps toward a romantic relationship. Wally himself had teased both of them about when they were finally going to go out together. Now that seemed like a bullet in his gut. They were torn apart before they were even together. Robin on the other hand had had no problem showing just how traumatized he was. He hadn't said a word to anyone and had rushed back to the med bay as soon as he returned to the Cave. Wally had known Robin ever since he donned the name, and he was worried the boy wouldn't be able to handle the pain of losing a brother. And then there was Conner. Instead of being sad like the rest of the team, Superboy seemed to be almost seething. He obviously didn't want to cause a commotion in front of all his grieving friends, but Wally saw the fierce anger he was holding back. 'And that is another reason I hated this plan' he thought to himself. 'We lost all the trust our friends put in us, and we might not ever get it back. I have a feeling Conner's not very happy about being lied to.'
His musings were cut short by the object of his thoughts standing up, muttering something about the bathroom, and stalking towards the hall. The hall that led right to the med bay. Wally didn't want a confrontation, but he had to stop Conner before he did something he'd regret, like punching Kaldur's face in. He gently untangled Artemis' arms from around him and slowly stood up. "I'll be right back babe, I just have to… check something real fast."
He realized he was correct about his friend's intentions when he saw Conner turn ahead of him and shove open the doors to the med bay. This was definitely not going to be pretty.
It was nice and quiet here. He didn't know where 'here' was, but that didn't matter. There was total isolation, no sound, no light, no sense of feeling. It didn't bother him though. Pure serenity felt really good. These thoughts ran through his mind, but not in any known language. Instead, they were pure feelings and needs. He didn't need to use words, and he couldn't understand them anymore anyway. He didn't even know who he was.
The silence was nice, but suddenly it wasn't silent anymore. He heard sounds, angry sounds, bad sounds. There were crashes and yells somewhere around him. There was still darkness, but he wanted his quiet back as well. He didn't like how the sounds made him feel. He tensed up a little, feeling scared and sad. But now there was a new sound. This sound wasn't angry, it was mainly sad, but it seemed to stop the bad sounds. There was precious silence again and he relaxed. The sad sound came again, but this time it was soft and pleasant and very close to him. He didn't mind the nice soft sound, and let himself drift away again to the comforting noise.
Tim was having one of the worst days in his life. His big brother was just lying there, so close. He wasn't really there anymore though. It was like a slap in the face. You can see him, hold him, but he'll never really be present again. Tim didn't know what his life would be like now, with only Batman and Barbara around. He would lose the quirky, fun companion that was Nightwing. And he would always question his role as a hero. He couldn't even save his brother, his best friend. How could he save anyone else? Tim could hardly stand sitting with the team in the Watchtower when Nightwing was down here in this bed, so as soon as they returned, he ran back to the ward and sat beside him. He just wanted to watch him breathe, make sure that this fragile state he was in was stable, and he wouldn't lose any more of him. He heard Kaldur sit up and come over, but he didn't really care. What did it matter anymore? They succeeded in their little plan. No one knew the truth, and now it was a little too late. He couldn't bring himself to be mad at the four of them, but he wasn't about to forgive them either. It might have been a good plan and it might have worked, but look where it got them. This was the result, and that meant a mission failure.
As Kaldur pulled the curtain aside, Tim saw his expression of shock and confusion. He didn't really know what he was saying, just that he mumbled the harsh facts and answered Aqualad's questions. He just couldn't bring himself to care what Kaldur must have been thinking, he had enough on his own plate right now. He went back to his silent vigil of staring at Nightwing as he slept. It was nice to pretend that he really was just sleeping, and he'd wake up with a grin and ask why on earth he was watching him sleep. Tim decided he could pretend for just a little longer.
Out of nowhere the doors suddenly crashed open, and Tim pulled the curtain all the way back so he could see Superboy come storming in and charging straight for Kaldur. The Atlantean was sitting on the next bed in a distraught position, and he jerked upright at the sound. Then it was just chaos. Conner seemed to be yelling at Kaldur and trying to punch any place he could. Kaldur took a few hits before he stood up himself and tried to block the swings aiming for his face. Wally sprinted in behind Conner and was trying to pull him off, but it didn't seem to be working at all. Kaldur started yelling back, trying to defend himself and his friends, but Superboy wasn't hearing any of it. He slammed Kaldur into the medical bed so hard it crumbled like foil with a giant crash. The two of them seemed like a jumble of arms and legs trying to find purchase anywhere. Wally had been thrown off Conner's back and was slowly sliding down the wall by the door. Tim knew there were some things the two had to deal with soon, but didn't they realize they were fighting in a freaking infirmary? He checked back on his brother and was shocked to see him seemingly tense up a little with a tiny frown barely visible on his face. That was enough for him.
"Just stop it," he said in a scratchy, low voice. He didn't know how they had heard him over the scramble, but the two rolling around on the ground did indeed stop immediately and turn to him. "Do you see what you're doing to him? He doesn't like that noise, and frankly I don't either. Go work it out in the training room, but get out of here if you're going to go at one another."
Kaldur and Conner realized what they were doing and gingerly got up and walked out of the room. Wally gave Tim a sorry look then walked out behind the two leaving the brothers alone again. Tim sat down again with a sigh and leaned closer to Nightwing's face. He seemed better than he had a minute ago. Tim didn't know what was going on his mind, but the loud noises apparently weren't very pleasing to hear. "It's okay now Dick, you can relax . I'm sorry you had to hear that, but you know Conner had to get some anger out and Kaldur was the perfect target. Hopefully they'll figure it all out on their own, but… Oh god Dick, how are we going to move on without you?"
What Tim didn't know was that the one and only Batman himself was standing in the doorway listening to his protégé. The Dark Knight was known for his lack of emotions, but anyone who knew him knew that Bruce Wayne cared for nothing as much as his kids. Dick and Tim were his weak spots. Now one of his little Robins was hurt, and he wasn't going to get any better. Batman may not show his feelings much, but as he walked forward and gently laid a hand on Tim's shoulder, he knew his boy could feel how strong his sadness was, and how he would always be there for his last little Robin.
A/N: I'm kinda iffy about that ending, but I really wanted a Daddy!Bats scene soon, and this just seemed like a perfect opportunity. I hope you like the length, I had a few requests for longer chapters. Please please please please please please review! If you want to yell at me, beg me for more, or ask questions, everything helps. Adios for now!
(And yes, that confusing little middle paragraph was from Dick's point of view in case there was confusion. I'm not just gonna forget about him, he's my favorite character too!)