This was just a little story I came up with when I heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon. In memory of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, and the Boston University grad student from China (identity not released due to family request according to news reports). I also thought there could be a few more stories with Kaldur, so I based it around him.
It had been two years since Kaldur began leading the Team that he met the Walsh brothers. It was an odd meeting, one that Kaldur was certain that the gods had their hands in.
Kaldur had not been planning on going to the coffee shop that day, but the smells emanating from the coffee shop drew him in. He ordered a hot herbal tea and sat down at a small table in the corner of the shop near the windows. It was then he saw them. Two young men, one about Kaldur's age, the other a couple years older, both with brown hair and brown eyes, came running up the road as fast as they could. At first Kaldur wondered why they were running so fast and if they were in trouble. The two men blew through the front door of the shop, nearly taking out a businessman and his large double shot soy latte. They ran to the cooler and each grabbed two bottles of water. They opened one bottle and chugged.
"I needed that," panted younger man.
The elder one handed the girl at the register a card and she swiped it.
"Another ten miles, boys?" she asked with a smile.
"You know, gotta get this squirt in shape," said the elder young man, clapping his companion on the back.
"Ah, ha-ha," his companion sarcastically laughed. He walked over and sat down at the table next to Kaldur's. "This is my first marathon, not my fifth."
"I only ran three," said the elder, taking a seat at the table. He turned and saw Kaldur watching them. "How's it going?"
"My apologies," said Kaldur. "You came in here in such a hurry, I thought there was something wrong."
"Just his time," said the elder, looking at his companion. "You'll never finish in the same day if you run at that speed."
"Shut up," grumbled the younger.
The elder snickered. "I'm Gavin. This is my baby brother, Mark."
"Baby, nothing," said Mark. "There's only a three year difference."
"Still my baby brother," said Gavin.
"Knock it off," muttered Mark.
"My name is Kaldur."
"Not from around here, are you?" asked Gavin.
"I have been living in the area for two years," said Kaldur. "How did you know?"
"The way you talk," said Gavin. "You sound way too formal. I can tell English is your second language."
"I understand," said Kaldur.
"We're not saying that your English is bad," said Mark. "We can just hear it in your voice. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of our friends are from out of the area."
Gavin finished his first bottle of water and started on the second. "What do you think, Mark? Ready to run home?"
"Yeah," said Mark, getting up.
Gavin turned to Kaldur. "Wanna come?"
"I do not wish to impose," said Kaldur.
"Impose nothing!" said Gavin. "It'll give Mark a little more incentive to keep his speed up. Let's just see if you can keep up, Kal."
Kaldur finished his tea and put the cup in the garbage.
Gavin and Mark waited for him.
"Ready?" Gavin asked.
"Yes," replied Kaldur.
"Okay, let's go," said Gavin. "And keep up, Mark."
The three of them started running. They were almost on the other side of Happy Harbor when Gavin turned and ran up onto the front porch of a house.
"I win," said Gavin.
"Shut up," said Mark.
Gavin unlocked the front door. "Come on in, Kaldur."
The brothers kicked off their shoes inside the door and walked back to the kitchen. Gavin sat down at the kitchen table while Mark started making protein shakes.
"Why do I always have to make them?" asked Mark.
"You know the rules; come in last, you make the shakes," said Gavin.
"I believe I came in last," said Kaldur. "I will make the protein shakes."
"No, Mark can do it," said Gavin. "I've been trying to get his time better by making him do chores if he can't beat me. I look at it as something to aim for."
"Why do you train so much?" asked Kaldur.
"Have you ever heard of the Boston Marathon?" asked Gavin.
"I cannot say that I have," said Kaldur.
"It's America's oldest marathon. They're holding the 117th marathon in April," said Gavin.
"That is not long from now," said Kaldur.
"Nope. So this turtle better hurry up and find his overdrive before the marathon," said Gavin.
"Will you quit it with the slow jokes?" asked Mark. "Geez, it gets old fast."
Over the next few weeks, Kaldur spent his mornings with Mark and Gavin. There were times when he spent his evenings with him as well. He met some of their friends: Collin Archer, a senior at Happy Harbor High school, Kailani Puamana, a Hawaiian native that stayed with the brothers a month out of the year around the time of the Boston Marathon so he could drive the brothers to and from there. He was also a male nurse. Then there was Julian Woods, a truck driver.
Usually a guys night out was a guys night in. The six of them would sprawl out in the living room in front of the television and watch movies and eat popcorn and those old enough to drink would have a beer or two.
On one of these nights, Mark stepped on the back of Gavin's shoe and pulled it off when he tripped.
"Nice one, Cinderella," Mark joked.
Kaldur, seeing and hearing what happened, frowned. "Cinderella."
"Yeah, from the Disney movie," said Mark.
Gavin, remembering that Kaldur was not from the country, asked, "You've never seen Cinderella?"
"No," replied Kaldur.
Mark and Gavin looked at each other.
"Do you even know what Disney is?" asked Mark.
"I have heard of the name," said Kaldur. "It is the name of a children's cinema production company, yes?"
"Yeah," said Gavin. "But have you seen any of the movies?"
"I may have, but I cannot say for certain," said Kaldur.
"Whoa, what?" asked Julian, hearing this. "You've never seen a Disney movie?"
Twenty minutes later the six of them were in the living room and began to watch a Disney princess marathon.
It was not long before the Boston Marathon. Gavin and Mark were running, and Kailani, Julian, and Collin were going with them for support.
Kaldur had spent the morning in Poseidonis for some training and returned to the cave just a few minutes after three. He had a little time before the Team returned. Megan had cheerleading practice and Conner would stay with her until she was finished.
He took out the DVD Julian had loaned him. They were still trying to get Kaldur caught up on the Disney movies and had gotten their hands on a copy of Brave. He turned the television and the news was on. The tagline read, "Two explosions at Boston Marathon."
Kaldur dropped the DVD and rushed for his cellphone. He immediately called Gavin. There was no answer. He tried Mark, Kailani, Julian, and Collin. No answer from either of them.
The Team came to the Cave and found Kaldur nursing a large mug of herbal tea and watching the news. Once again they were replaying the explosion at the finish line.
"Kal?" said Wally, seeing the worried look in Kaldur's pale green eyes.
Kaldur did not turn from the screen. "I have friends who were running in the marathon," he told him is a soft voice. "I cannot contact any of them."
"Kaldur, they probably jammed all the cellphone signals to keep any more bombs from going off," said Robin. "Some of them are detonated by cellphones. If the police don't know what kind of bombs were set off, they're taking every precaution. Just stay traught, man. I'm sure they're okay."
Artemis picked up the DVD on the floor.
"They loaned it to me when they learned I did not see very many of the Disney movies," Kaldur explained. "We started with some of the oldest and are now at the current movies."
"We might as well watch it," said Zatanna.
"It'll take time before the police stop jamming the cellphone signals," said Robin.
Megan started making snacks and everyone else settled in front of the television.
At the end of the night, after Batman came and briefed them on what was happening in Boston, the Team went home or went to bed. Kaldur could not sleep. He needed to know his friends were all right. He got up and went for a swim in the pool, taking his cellphone with him, keeping it near the edge of the pool so he could hear it and grab it at a moment's notice.
While he was floating on his back, his cellphone rang. Kaldur hurried to the side of the pool. He grabbed it.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Kal, it's Gavin."
Kaldur let slip a few words of gratefulness and relief in Atlantean.
"I could tell you were worried," chuckled Gavin.
"Where are you? Are you or the others hurt?" asked Kaldur.
"No, we're fine," said Gavin. "We weren't around during the explosion. I finished early and Mark finished about twenty minutes before the explosions. Kailani went back to help with the wounded - male nurse - and, oh, God, Kaldur, I wouldn't have the stomach for some of that stuff. It was pretty bad from what Kailani tells us."
"Where are you now?" asked Kaldur.
"Hospital," replied Gavin.
"You said -," Kaldur started.
"Calm down," said Gavin. "We're fine. We're donating blood. It's also the only place with a landline. I can't talk long - there are other people waiting to use this phone. One of us will call you on our way home."
"All right," said Kaldur. "I am so happy you are safe, my friend."
"Same here," said Gavin. "We'll talk to you later."
"Until then, my friend," said Kaldur. He hung up. He placed the cellphone back at the side of the pool and sank to the bottom in relief.
It was only a matter of time for Batman to find out that one of the Team had friends at the marathon. Robin told Batman and Batman to Aquaman to check on Kaldur.
It was late in the morning when Aquaman went to the Cave to talk to Kaldur. However he was having a difficult time finding him. Aquaman went to the pool and found the cellphone Kaldur used on occasion by the edge of the pool. Not seeing Kaldur, Aquaman picked up the cellphone before something could happen to it. Just as he did, it began to ring.
Aquaman waited three rings before he decided to answer. "Hello?"
"Oh, shoot," came male voice on the other end. "I think I may have the wrong number. Is Kaldur there by chance?"
"He is here somewhere," replied Aquaman. "Who is this?"
"Mark Walsh. I wanted to tell him we're on our way home."
"You were at the marathon," said Aquaman.
"Yeah," said Mark. "And you are?"
"My name is Arthur."
"Oh, you're Arthur! Kaldur told me about you," said Mark.
Aquaman was surprised. He looked down at the water and noticed someone curled up at the bottom. "One moment, please," he said and turned the phone to his shoulder. "Kaldur'ahm!"
Kaldur woke up and looked up and saw Aquaman. He swam up and saw he was holding his phone.
"Your friend, Mark," said Aquaman.
Kaldur reached up and took the phone. "Thank you, Annex," said Kaldur. He put the phone to his ear. "Hello, Mark."
"Hey, Kal! We're on our way home," said Mark. "We should be home by tonight."
"I will see you then," said Kaldur. "I am glad you are safe."
"Later," said Mark.
"I will see you when you return," said Kaldur. He hung up and smiled.
"I assume that your friends are safe and are on their way home," said Aquaman.
"Yes," said Kaldur.
"Well, I think you can have the night off," said Aquaman with a smile. "I am certain your friends will be happy to see you."
"Thank you, Annex," said Kaldur.
Kaldur sat on the front porch of the Walsh residence and waited for them to come home. The van pulled in and the five of them climbed out.
"Hey, Kal!" Collin called, jumping out of van.
"I am so happy that you are alive," said Kaldur.
"Yeah," said Julian.
Gavin was smiling.
Mark ran over and gave Kaldur a hug. "I don't know if I ever want to do that again."
"I know you Walsh brothers are crazy," said Kailani. "I have a feeling I'll be coming back here next year to go with you guys up to the 118th Boston Marathon."
Gavin smiled. "You're right about that, Kai."
"You are going back next year?" asked Kaldur.
Gavin grinned at Kaldur. "Yeah."
"But why?" asked Kaldur.
"Kaldur," said Gavin, "just because someone decides to blow a couple of bombs up in a crowd of people, doesn't mean we have to duck and cover with our tails between our legs like frightened dogs. We're not going to be scared off just because of a couple of whack-jobs."
"Us Americans have never given up," said Julian.
"And I'm going to be running next year," said Collin.
Kaldur smiled. "Then I wish you the best of luck."
If you let fear rule you, you will never go anywhere. Being brave allows you to push on even when you are scared.