The place was empty and alone when he arrived, covered in a less than ideal flooring and wallpaper that had obviously been done over recently to cover up peeling. It was cream- probably to dilute the spectrum of colors under his pair of feet. There were six doors along a corridor and at the end of the corridor there was another door. He stood in a large room with counters and a metal sink and space for a refrigerator and a wooden table that was probably for a television. The brown couch looked comfortable and so he decided to lie down for a while.
He dumped his backpack in front of the nearest door and let his suitcase roll to a stop in front of the wall.
He woke up and he was still alone. He decided to look around.
The rooms were identical with a desk, a lofted bed and a dresser in the corner. He pushed one to see if it was movable (and the screech of the movement indicated it was). The walls changed color in every room- from blue to green to yellow to orange, around in the spectrum of what he sees in a rainbow after a downpour in coastal Florida that he lived in. The bathroom was white and pure and tiled from the floor up to the ceiling with two sinks across each other. Beside each was another bit of counter space, above which were racks to store more things. There was a bathtub and a pristine white toilet. Kaldur decided it was nice and decided to start moving things in.
He took the room near where he settled his stuff. Its walls were blue- light like the reflection of the sky in the water when the clouds are gone. He decided to set his bed up so he would wake up early to see the sun go up and let flickers of light in through the curtains he mentally reminded himself to buy.
He wasn't sure how he got onto the bed. Whether it was fate or sleepiness, his head hit the pillow with a soft thud and lulled him into a place where he was okay and his heart wasn't aching constantly.
She carried a singular duffel bag full of the few clothes she deemed worthy of the eastern coastal town of that college she, only a few month ago, sent the acceptance letter to. She had only a few coats, most with holes or thinning from heavy wear during the Christmas trips the family would take to Colorado; she had insisted to her foster dad that she didn't need anything new, but she was pretty sure she would receive a box within a few weeks loaded with hoodies and puffy jackets and sweat pants and fuzzie socks in all the shades of green her dad's girlfriend (for many many years) could find.
The car rolled into the airport with a squeak.
"You really need to replace this car, Dad. Money is pouring from your pockets and yet you still have this hunk of junk."
"Nonsense, Arty! This car's a classic! Besides, a real man needs his wheels right?" Her dad joked and she could do nothing but roll her eyes and laugh when Dinah, his girlfriend, shoved him against the old-fashioned car door.
"I've been telling him that since we got together, Artemis. He's not gonna change."
"Here's to hoping," she muttered.
"Well, we're here. And I guess this is goodbye."
"It's not good bye, Arty. Just see you later," her dad joked lightly, but something about the lack of light in his eyes left her sure that he wasn't as happy as he sounded.
"I'm going to miss you so much. Don't forget to email, text, facebook, call, tweet- whatever you kids do now. I'm gonna assume you're dead or have been kidnapped if I don't hear from you weekly, okay?" Dinah leaned in and hugged her. Dinah had always been affectionate, embracing her and blanketing her in her arms whenever she deems it needed- from winning first place in an archery competition to coming back from a two-week camp in southern California to having a panic attack when she got that first letter from her mother from that correctional facility.
"I know, Dinah. I'll just call you. It's easier that way. You're not that into technology, if you don't remember," she chuckled a little, remembering the time she broke that half-a-year-old laptop her dad gave her as a Christmas gift.
"Probably a good idea." she smiled and squeezed Artemis's hand.
"Well, here's the rest of your stuff," her dad handed her the box- it was about four times the size of a shoebox- with the label of her mailbox in Happy Harbor printed and taped onto it with packing tape. She wasn't originally going to bring it, but Dinah had said that it was important that she carry a piece of home with her to college so she wouldn't forget who she is. She supposed Dinah was right; after all, psychologists spend four years studying those things.
"I'm not good at, uh, "see you later"s, but I'd just like you to know you'll always have a place back home in that room of yours and I'll miss you, Arty."
"I know, Dad. I'll miss you too," she hugged her and he hugged back and for a minute everybody was quiet because, after knowing each other for four years, she was about to go out to college and was about to become what her dad had once called a "grown up lady."
"And don't drink anything you've left out."
"I know, Dad."
"And don't let any boy pressure you into doing anything you don't want to."
"I know, Dad."
"Dad, I'll be okay. Now I'm going to go take that plane to Happy Harbor and I'll call you when I land, okay?"
"I'll be okay. I promise."
"I know you will. You were always stronger than I thought you were."
"I still am- strong, I mean."
"I know you are. I know."
"Bye, Dad. For real this time."
And she walked away and didn't look back because she knew that, if she looked back, it would just call her back into the safety of what she'd known and where she'd been okay. So she walked forward and let the woman look at her passports and let her luggage pass through the scanners and boarded the plane and watched out the window as familiarity of Star City became further and further from her feet and she didn't know where she'd land.
He was alone when he arrived with only a backpack full of stuff. He knew he'd find a Target or a Walmart around soon. He could pick up more of his stuff then. Besides, if he really needed more, he could ask his grandparents to send some of us stuff up from Smallville. He was sure they wouldn't mind. Quite frankly, they'd just be glad to hear from him.
It wasn't that he was estranged. He was just distant at certain times. He and his biological father had some sort of unsaid agreement about when each would visit Smallville; the end of summer was always his fathers, and so he would room with a friend or stay in a cheap motel full of bugs and rats to wait for him to leave.
His grandparents loved him; he was sure of that. They raised him and potty-trained him and told him stories about families that were perfect and families that weren't and he quickly realized from the young age of six that his family was in the latter category.
The elevator brought him up to his floor- the eleventh- where he got off, carrying his two of his boxes and dragging his large, beat-up suitcase behind him. The wheels of the suitcase got caught in the hole between the elevator and the dirty-looking turquoise carpet. It made him glare and furrow his brows and flex his muscle until it landed on the floor. It was rough with some sort of abstract pattern that made his eyes hurt with its swirls of yellow and red that reminded him of some sort of kindergarten thing teachers use to teach primary colors.
"I am guessing you are one of my new roommates," he heard a voice but he couldn't place a face to it. The brown couch was empty and the rooms all looked unoccupied. "My name is Kaldur Ahm, and you?" The voice is that of a man who appeared from the doorway nearest him. He had dark skin and bleached hair and tattoos running up and down and around his arms.
"Nice to meet you, my friend. Do you need any help with your boxes? I just finished with mine." He extends his hand and Conner sees the muscles in his forearm tighten and knows he could probably do some heavy lifting, so he motions with his head to the box he had set down earlier and asks him to bring it to his room.
"Is it first come first serve or what?"
"Yes, I believe so. There are no names, so I just took the room I wanted."
"Oh. Okay." And so they set up both their rooms in silence- neither was very talkative- threw out the old, worn-out boxes that used to hold their stuff and sat on the couch, taking in the new environment and trying to process their thoughts- or at least that was what Conner was doing; he didn't really know what this new guy was doing. But that was college, full of new people and unknowns and all the unexpected and it was all happening too quickly.
The stereo was blaring some ancient Blue Oyster Cult song he could never manage to remember the name of no matter how many times Uncle Barry seemed to remind him. True, it was a song from his favorite album, but he tends to lose himself in the rhythmic thumping of the bass and the numerous solos of that Buck Dharma on his guitar and the voice of Bloom.
"Make a dash for freedom baby, don't skate on polar ice!" His uncle shouted and Wally replied with even higher volume. If the windows were rolled down, he was pretty sure they would get pulled over for an unauthorized amount of noise.
"You ready for this, kid?"
"You know it, Uncle Bar!" The iPod's screen was too dim in the bright light of the sun shining almost directly into the front of the car; there was a reason he tried to convince his uncle to get some sort of tint in the front, but he insisted that there was no need for it.
"You know I'll literally be a few blocks away, right?"
"My mom never failed to remind me of that for the past year."
"Well, it's true."
They both fell silent for a minute as the song faded out and into another one. Wally could tell that they were getting closer. The images out the passenger window were no longer long stretches of empty fields and feeding animals and barns needing a new paint job but became closely knit homes that reminded him of his own back in Keystone where you know your neighbors and you bring a pie over to people who get back from a surgery and receive small trinkets and gift cards on your birthday in return. Hospitality was the word. It seemed open and welcome and unlike that dreary city they passed an hour ago that was full of plain grey skyscrapers and streets too thin to feel safe in.
"You'll be up at our house on Saturday, right?"
"Of course. Aunt Iris would murder me if I didn't."
"We'll have steaks and a whole lot of potatoes."
"Finally, somebody who understands my appetite."
They pull up in front of the dorm building and Wally's neck aches from looking up at its multiple stories. It was brick- the orange kind, not the red kind that reminded him of that road full of ancient houses back home that the kids in elementary dare each other to explore around Halloween time. He counted eleven stories in all, with a flat roof and big square windows that, from what he understood, indicated each room.
"You know, it's not too late to stay with us."
"I don't think living with your uncle and your pregnant aunt really gets you the college experience. Besides, I won't be able to pick up nearly as many chicks from the house of a graduate school forensic scientist professor."
"True. And this place isn't too shabby. It's pretty new, considering most of the other buildings here are ancient. And at least you don't have to share a communal bathroom."
"Oh, the perks of a suite-style dormitory."
"That's the way of thinking, kid. Now," his uncle pops open the trunk and steps out of the car with Wally right behind him, "get your boxes and get out of here. Learn some independence; I'm not helping you bring these up."
"Of course not. There's an elevator here anyway, it's not like it'll be that difficult." Box upon box upon box, they stacked them up with the numerous clothes and
"That isn't the hard part. The hard part is moving everything up there while everybody else is moving their stuff."
"Uh, it doesn't seem like there's anybody else here," he looks from side to side and sees only a few cars passing by with other collegiettes and their parents with maps of the campus sprawled across their laps.
"That's because we've skipped all that orientation shit. No use going through all of that when you've got the perfect guide to all things college right here," his uncle gestures to himself with a smirk that Wally had been trying to perfect since he was eight.
"Oh well, at least I don't need all your help. Besides, Dick said he's here already. I could always get him to carry a bit up if I really need it."
"If that's what you say..." His uncle looks around and sighs heavily, "Iris is gonna kill me if I'm not home by breakfast, so I've gotta get going. I'll see you Saturday, kid."
"See you then, Uncle Barry!" The car drove away and left him with six boxes on the sidewalk in front of a place he knew absolutely nothing about (hey, welcome to college).
"I'll call them when I get there, Uncle John... I'm fine, just running really late. As in a day late... Yeah, the traffic was awful with all the college kids moving around, so I decided to just crash at an inn and hit the road early, but it was like everybody else decided to do the same, so here I am... Okay, bye, Uncle John! I love you too!" The phone call ended with a click and she slipped it back into the pocket of the pink purse her mother got her when she decided she was old enough to dress like a woman and not like a little girl.
"Turn right then left after 200 meters then you have reached your destination." She had always hated the voice of the GPS, but she endured it because it gave her uncle some sort of ease about her driving even if she had only recently gotten her license. Her parents weren't nearly as active about getting her into college as he was. They had other problems, with all her siblings being active and underachieving and lazy and pregnant and high constantly. She was in the background, muted and unheard of most of the time, but she was determined to let herself not blend in anymore. She was ready to become more.
She pulled over and quickly pulled her oversized suitcase out of the car. She began to tug it up the steps, putting all of her weight into each lift and cringing when it fell a few steps down, but she ran into something and felt her eyes widen at the thought of embarrassing herself already.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going. Hello, Megan! What am I thinking! I'm so so so sorry."
"It's okay." He's tall and fair and brooding with thick dark eyebrows and hair that scruffed up in the right places. His eyes were piercing and blue and left her unable to take her eyes from them.
"But really, I'm so sorry. This suitcase is just really heavy, and I'm already really late and we've barely even started college!"
"Do you want some help?" And she felt her heart jump a little bit and beg to run to her arm and dangle from her sleeve so this boy who she didn't even know the name of could grab it and maybe give her his heart to replace the one he took.
"Yes please." He grabs the handle of the suitcase and these muscles that somehow hid themselves in his black V-neck pop out and make her wonder if all those princes in the classic Disney movies looked like he did. He makes it look like nothing, as if the vein in his arm isn't pulsing and the suitcase is empty. He puts it down at the top of the steps and she smiles as wide as she can (is she being too obvious? she sure hopes not) before telling him her name ("Marie Megan Morse, but everybody calls me Megan.") and asking for his.
"Conner. Conner Kent."
And her heart jumps again as he says he has to pick up his class schedule in some office and he leaves and she's left standing there in front of the dorm building with some pink in her cheeks (whether from the cold, nipping autumn wind or the fact that she had just met the boy of her dreams, she wasn't so sure).
The red-head was odd, most definitely, but it was needless to say that so was Dick and thus, he liked this Wally guy.
"Dude, I know right! I can't wait for the new Call of Duty!"
"You know, I got the last one a few months early, I could probably do the same with this one."
"Holy shit! No way!"
"Yes way. It's one of the many privileges of being so rich that my blood is made of melted coins," he smirks and Wally just rolls his eyes.
"God, how I wish I was rich."
They walked in silence back to their dorm as other new-found cliques walked past briskly. It was dreary that day and the clouds loomed above them watching as they moved slowly like tortoises planted in the sky. They loved their dorm- it was beautiful, after all, with its spacious rooms and high-rising build- but it was placed far away from all the places they needed to go for their freshmen classes. With all this, plus the added free meals this college automatically provided when living on campus, Dick really had to remember to go to the gym once in a while.
His phone rang and he picked up mumbling answers to Alfred as he asked where he wanted the microwave and the HD TV and the random amenities he begged his dad to let him bring. Wally was looking at him like he was crazy, dictating orders of placement over the phone. (He didn't look as shocked though when he got upstairs and saw the high-tech and overall beautiful loft in which he stood mouth ajar and speechless).
"Are you who Mr. Alfred calls 'Master Dick?'" a voice, high and happy, from calls from a little ways down the hall. "If you are, thank you for making this place look so good." She comes out with her auburn hair plaited down her shoulder and amber eyes that seemed almost surreal to him with small flecks of gold and olive and blue somewhere in there that he thought looked lovely. He assumed Wally must have too when he muttered, "this is why I chose the co-ed suites." (Wally earned a quick elbow to the gut for that one.)
"Hey, babe. I'm Wally, this is Dick, but, more importantly, I'm Wally. And you are?" He lifted his eyebrow and extends his hand, leaning forward toward this girl.
"I'm Megan Morse," she met his hand and both blushed and cringed a little when he brought his pink lips to her fair skin. "Oh! Let me call the others. We're all here!" She dashed off to the other rooms, knocking and telling everybody to go out.
"Dude," Wally whispered to him, "That girl is hot!"
"I guess she's alright."
"Alright? Man, she's from Venus, I swear!"
"You are definitely not from Mars."
"C'mon! I think she's into me!"
"Did you see her face? She'd rather be anywhere but here."
"But don't you see this place! It's perfect," he motioned around, walking backward and stumbling, crashing butt-first into the floor.
"Well, somebody's smooth as a water today, aren't you, Baywatch?"
Wally frowned as a woman saunters in behind an African American man into the room. She's tan and blond with hair that Dick was sure her mother would give her shit for. Her eyes were dark and grey and steely and Asian, small and tilted but nevertheless intimidating.
"Well, I'm not so smooth anymore. It's kind of rough looking at your face."
"Everybody, we are just meeting. Let's all just calm down and introduce ourselves." The man she appeared behind said as he stepped in between the two people arguing. "I am Kaldur Ahm."
"I'm Wally. Wally West." He scowled at the woman who taunted him.
"I'm Dick, but everybody calls me Robin." They all raised their eyebrows until he explained that he used to bird watch constantly and Alfred, the butler he had that pretty much raised him, called him that because of how often he'd wear red, which was why he was "totally peeved" that he got stuck with the orange bedroom.
("It was either that or yellow."
"Sorry, man, but yellow is so not my color.")
"I'm Conner Kent." A big guy with large arms and dark hair that looked unruly and unbrushed and blue eyes that probably mirrored his own without the Raybans.
"And you, lady I like because you made fun of Wally?" Dick said with a laugh.
"Tch. More like Fartemis."
"Bad one, Baywatch."
"Yeah," Dick laughed at him, "Bad one, Baywatch." He was sure there was more than taunting in both their voices. (Foreplay, maybe?) Who knows? He'd have to see (and maybe help both their stubborn asses along the way. Besides, what's college without the fun?)
Hey everybody! As always, I don't own any of these characters nor Young Justice, but I do own these collection of words and plots all grouped together in this story. Thank you so much for reading this! I've got tons of ideas for this fic. I'm thinking of adding in teensy bit of smut, but I'll warn about it at the top before the chapter begins. It'll be kind of optional chapters and I'll provide non-rated M alternative chapters for everybody who would rather not read that kind of stuff. Until next chapter, I hope you all stick around and prepare yourselves to see our favourite team of teenaged heroes in an alternate universe: our universe, full of drama, college, life, loneliness, problems, love and friendship. -Clytemnestra