Shadow

With all the new recruits running around, it was often hard for Kon to get some quiet time. Of course, by quiet time he meant 'not as loud as usual time'. Although he'd learnt long ago to block out the sounds of the people around him—their constant heartbeats, their steady breathing—it proved to be more of a challenge when surrounded by teenage superheroes. Instead, he settled for picking out specific sounds and focusing on them. When he did that, everything else turned into white noise.

The distant sound of footsteps emerging from the grotto sparked Conner's interest. It wasn't the first time Robin had been down there today; in fact, he'd been making almost regular visits to the holographic memorials. Most of the time he was on his own but occasionally someone would go with him. He'd considered telling Nightwing about this but there was no need to cause unnecessary concern. Besides, it was only understandable that Robin would want to pay his respects to his predecessor—even if he did do it more than was to be expected.

Conner stood up from the sofa, ignoring the eyes that were turned on him. They soon drifted back to the television, where some supposedly amusing sitcom was playing. He hadn't been paying attention to it.

Picking out Robin's heartbeat wasn't too hard. They hadn't talked much but Nightwing had once asked him to keep an eye on the young hero and make sure he was never in over his head. Who was he to refuse the request of an old friend? He'd never told Robin about this, though; he just watched his back whenever they were on missions together. He didn't doubt his abilities but no one wanted history to repeat itself.

He found Robin in the computer room, tapping away at a keyboard faster than Kon thought was possible. He'd certainly taken after Nightwing with his expertise with electronics. Give him a few years and he'd probably even surpass Nightwing's abilities—not that Kon would voice that thought. He may be invulnerable but he'd prefer not having an angry Nightwing after him.

Robin glanced away from the computer screen as footsteps approached and gave a short nod. "Superboy."

"Robin," he replied, leaning against the wall beside the other's seat. "You know you can call me 'Kon', right?" Ever since he'd received the adopted Kryptonian name, he'd wanted more people to use it. They hardly ever did.

"I know," was his short reply. Kon studied him for a moment as he turned his attention back to whatever he had previously been doing. He was very different from the last Robin, and the one before that. His costume had been modified to suit his tastes and he preferred using that electrical staff opposed to other weapons. He was taller than Nightwing had been at that age and Kon suspected that he kept his hair short and spiked so no one could mistake him for the old Robin. He was more serious too. He tended to think more than speak and generally kept his thoughts to himself, unless they were completely relevant. He wasn't overly similar to Nightwing; he wasn't as reckless as he had been. He took the hero thing very seriously but lacked the confidence of his predecessors. Kon couldn't see why; he was just as skilled as they were.

"Something's bothering you," Kon said, attracting Robin's attention once again. His eyes were masked by sunglasses but he looked as if he wanted Kon to continue. "I haven't told Nightwing about the grotto thing. He goes down there too but you… you go there a lot." His voice was softer than before and he took the time to choose his words before he spoke.

Robin spun his chair around slowly, facing Superboy and drawing his legs up to fold them underneath him. "Being down there helps me think and I have a lot to think about."

"Then talk." Conner had gotten better at reading people's expression and he could see the minute confusion etched into Robin's features. "M'ga—Miss Martian told me once that talking about something can help clear your mind, especially with someone who can relate. I don't know if it works but," he gave a small shrug, "it couldn't hurt, right?" That was a partial lie; he knew it worked. He and M'gann had both been people who'd learnt about Earth but had never experienced it before. It took her a while to get him to open up but eventually they talked about how strange everything was. He'd never said it out loud, but it had helped him a lot.

Robin tilted his head slightly to the side and repeated, "Someone who can relate?"

The corner of Conner's lips twitched upwards. "You're living in a shadow. I know all about that." He gestured to the S shield on his chest.

"… Oh." He remained quiet for a few minutes but Conner didn't press on. He allowed him to gather his thoughts until he was ready to voice them. "I… Don't tell Nightwing but—he thinks I don't notice. It's the same with Batman. It's like—like they think it's going to happen again; like they weren't careful enough the first time. I'm not that experienced but I can handle myself. People just… they forget that. They see me as his legacy, not as who I really am." He looked as if he wanted to say more but broke off, looking towards the ground. His glasses slipped down his nose slightly and Conner caught a glimpse of blue eyes. He didn't point it out.

He pushed himself off the wall and took a step closer to the boy. He could hear his heart rate increasing and placed a hand on his shoulder in a comforting manner. He was surprised when Robin seemed to relax at the touch.

"Shadows are dark places but it's not always going to be like that. What happened to the old Robin... it was bad. People need time to adjust and I know it's been a while but… you just have to wait." He paused for a moment, his mind flickering back all those years ago to the months when all he'd faced was rejection from the one man he wanted acceptance from. "The Earth moves, right? It moves around the sun and the shadows move too. Eventually you'll break free of it and people will see you in the light."

Robin looked up and readjusted his glasses. Although he could no longer see his eyes, Kon imagined that Robin would be blinking up at him, surprised by his unusually deep words. Something seemed to change within the younger; it was as if a layer of his façade had been stripped away. He seemed less serious, like a weight had been lifted from him.

"Those are some wise words coming from a six-year-old."

It took Conner a moment to realise the words had come from Robin before he chuckled softly.

"But… thank you, Kon," he said, offering a small smile to the clone.

Kon returned the smile. "You're welcome."