Disclaimer: Young Justice © DC / Warner Bros. - Full disclaimer on my profile.

Summary: He sought only to protect. Evidently, that was not enough. / Drabble; spoilers for season 2. For Kaldur Week on Tumblr. Day 1: Credit.

A/N: So, this is my contribution to Kaldur Week - which is from 30th September to 7th October (and yes, that's more than a week, and no, I don't really care about that). There are eight prompts, laid down by honortasticheroes on Tumblr - the list of prompts can be found on .

Honestly...I'm not happy with this fanfic for Day 1. For one thing, it's late (seeing as it's currently Day 2). For another, I feel that it's mostly filler and establishment. It's also unoriginal. At least it's something, I guess. But I Tigress. /shot

The italicised section at the beginning is set during season 1, episode 13, "Alpha Male". The italicised sentence in the second section is from season 1, episode 8, "Downtime".

EDIT: Though I was originally compiling them into one fic as a collection, I've decided to upload them separately.
EDIT 2: I fixed some typos and issues with the tense.

Prompt: Day 1 - credit.

What Is Due

Each glare was different.

Kaldur could not define the undercurrent of emotion in Artemis'. It seemed to resemble...guilt? But that could not be right. Whatever it was, it sliced him deep and it sliced him low.

Miss Martian did not look at him at all - betrayal brimmed over in her soft, caramel-brown eyes but it was always to the left or right of him, as if she couldn't bear to look his way.

Somehow the white eyelets of Robin's domino mask made it worse, as if he were shutting Kaldur out, leaving just the frigid, emotionless blankness of his stare.

Of course, Wally was Wally - it was not in his nature to keep his emotions a secret. When he was happy, he was ecstatic and it would infect the air you breathed until you could not help but smile yourself; when he was angry, he was furious and it rolled away from him in waves.

Superboy's was the worst, in a way - his eyes were icy blue but he looked at Kaldur as if searing him in half with his nonexistent heat-vision; Kaldur felt phantom scorch marks on his skin.

I sought only to protect the Team - protect the League. I acted with the best interests of you all at heart.

The defense was teetering on Kaldur'ahm's tongue but somehow he could not speak the words as the Team's venomous faces pass by him on their route to the Bioship to ready themselves for their mission in India. Kaldur's gills fluttered as he watched their retreating backs with a swell of helplessness and regret in the pit of his stomach.

He sought only to protect.

Evidently, that was not enough.

A hiss of pressurised air escaped as Kaldur released the clasps of his Black Manta helmet and lifted it away from his head; the relief of the removal of the heavy weight of the black metal was only momentary, as it was immediately replaced by the ominous weight of foreboding in his gut.

Mission successful. From a certain point of view, at least.

It was not the first mission that his father had assigned to him - but it was the first that he'd sabotaged.

Kaldur fought to keep his expression stoic as he traversed the length of the submarine, footfalls heavy and echoing through the cylindrical hallways. Behind the façade, however, his mind was ticking over.

The mission had been simple, but vital to Black Manta - protect a shipment of alien technology (perhaps from the Light's "partner"? Kaldur made a mental note to attempt to investigate). Unfortunately for Black Manta, a part of the shipment had become "lost" in the process...

Kaldur's main objective was espionage and information retrieval. That did not mean that he had to help his father succeed entirely.

He did not regret his actions, but he had a terrible feeling that he would not enjoy the consequences when his father learned of the loss. One the surface, Black Manta seemed to be a fair leader to his Mantamen most of the time - yet now, Black Manta's choleric outburst at the Poseidonis City Conservatory was forefront in his mind...

"If I can't have it, no one can!"

Kaldur entered the room.

Black Manta - decked in almost identical armour to Kaldur's - glanced up from the plans laid across his desk. After meeting Kaldur's eyes for a moment (at least, Kaldur presumed so - the disc-shaped helmet made it difficult to tell), Manta waved away the three soldiers gathered around him and rolled up the plans, removing his helmet when the door glided shut behind them and left Kaldur and David alone in the room.

"My son," David said simply, setting the helmet aside. "Was the mission successful?"

Kaldur hesitated. David arched an eyebrow.

Should Kaldur hang his head? Was it appropriate? No - Kaldur sensed that Manta would not waste his time on someone who let himself be conquered by defeat. He looked his father straight in the eye. "Four of the six components of the shipment were retrieved, Father."

"Only four...?"

"I'm afraid that the other two components were...misplaced."

Manta narrowed his eyes marginally. Kaldur braced himself for a lecture - or, at worst, unbridled wrath.

"Good work, my son."

Kaldur could not quite mask his surprise; David could not quite mask a miniscule smirk.


"We cannot expect to win every battle, Kaldur'ahm." David stood, linking his hands behind his back. "The loss of the cargo is...a pity. But you tried your best, I am sure, and yielded results regardless of any mistakes. I am proud of you." Manta replaced his helmet on his head. As soon as it settled there, his voice warped slightly, adopting a mechanical quality. "Rest, son. There will be fresh challenges tomorrow. For now, I have plans to make."

I am proud of you.

He had said it so casually.

As Manta passed him on the way out, he stalled and patted Kaldur firmly on the shoulder. "I am not your former king, Kaldur. Neither am I your former Team."

The bittersweet sentiment stayed with Kaldur long after his father disappeared, and long after Kaldur finally willed himself to move from where he stood frozen in his father's study and to his own living quarters.