A/N: Hey everyone. I know it's been a while since I uploaded the prologue, but this takes quite a bit of effort and a lot more thought, surprisingly, than my other story at the moment. I'm afraid updates won't be as often as you'd probably like, and I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing with this just yet, so bear with me. This story actually garnered a lot more attention than I was expecting, so that was a nice surprise. Also, as you'll see, there is a lot of dialogue in here from the actual episode/s, because I felt it was important. From here on out I'm not exactly sure how much I'll deviate or stick to the set plotline, we'll just have to wait and see.
Chapter 1 – Independence Day:
14:00 EDT, July 4th 2010
Despite the fact that the Hall of Justice wasn't the Justice League's official headquarters, Harry still spent a lot of his time there. Today was a particularly important day, as he had constantly been reminded over the past week by Robin and Kid Flash, and he had spent most of the day there, reading a book. It wasn't as though he really had anything else to do, what with the majority of his life now being related to the Justice League in some way, shape or form, and he was easily contactable by the Watchtower in the Hall.
Kid Flash, Robin, Speedy and Aqualad were due at the Hall at any time. They had managed, with a little help from Harry, to convince their mentors to let them at least visit the Justice League HQ. It was a sort of first step towards initiation thing, because he knew the kids occasionally felt a bit left out. He'd have been surprised if they weren't, what with all the secrets the League held close.
Harry wasn't as excited about it all as Kid Flash and Robin were. In fact, he had a rather bad feeling about the whole thing. Batman was the least lenient person Harry knew, and that was saying something, because Snape had been the epitome of strictness – at least when Harry was concerned. It shouldn't have been so easy – not that it had been easy – to convince Gotham's protector to give the all-clear.
On the other hand, Harry would be the first to admit that his earlier life had left him with a rather high level of paranoia, and despite how much he tried to tone it down he would always be suspicious of anything that didn't seem normal, and sometimes even the things that did. He hoped with all his heart that nothing untoward happened.
Checking his watch Harry breathed out slowly, trying to calm his racing thoughts. Regardless of whatever he was feeling on the inside, he never let himself show any of his darker emotions on his face; he needed to be a rock, and he couldn't be a rock if he let his own sadness or anger get the better of him.
A set of doors slid open and Harry glanced up, tossing a smile to Martian Manhunter as he paused, not surprised to see Harry there in the slightest.
"I do believe the others have arrived. Would you like to come and greet them?"
Jumping to his feet Harry ditched the book he had been reading – more like flicking through aimlessly – on the couch, and adjusted the irritating mask he had been forced to wear for the duration of his 'on-duty' time (he'd argued fiercely against it, he hardly thought a mask was going to be of any use, but when he stopped to think about it, Robin wore glasses when in League civvies and no-one had a clue who he was, so maybe there was some merit in it after all; but had eventually given in when it was no so subtly suggested that he do it to protect the people he lived near, rather than himself, despite the fact he barely spent any time in the apartment he rented).
"Of course, did you actually expect me to say no?"
J'onn smiled fondly at him, by now more than used to the way Harry acted. Harry had opted for excited for the time being, and eagerly followed behind the older man as they moved through the Hall, meeting up with Red Tornado on their way to the entrance. Red Tornado was on odd character, Harry had found – he wasn't sure how he felt about the idea of sentient machinery, but Tornado wasn't a bad guy, so he tried to reserve judgement.
The doors to the entrance hall slid open, revealing the others. Harry smiled, but refrained from anything else, considering the amount of people watching them – the publicity was the one thing he really hated about the Hall and 'in the spotlight' crime fighting. J'onn stepped forward, taking control of the situation.
"Welcome Robin, Speedy, Aqualad, Kid Flash." Turning on his heel, cape flaring behind him – Harry still hadn't gotten over the cape thing after all these years – he gestured for them to follow him. The teens fell in behind J'onn and Tornado, with Harry situating himself between them and their mentors.
J'onn gave them 'the tour' of the Hall of Justice, and whenever one of them turned to grin at him – Kid Flash and Robin – he would offer one back, trying to be encouraging, but when they reached the library Harry had just recently vacated and Speedy gave him a look, he couldn't help the slump in his shoulders and the unsureness that leaked into his gaze. He managed to cover it up again before anyone else could notice, but he'd never had a shot of hiding it from Speedy.
"Alright," Batman started suddenly, as the teens more or less made themselves comfy on the scattered furniture, "We need to discuss the coincidence of four ice villains attacking on the same day." You could hear the scepticism when he said 'coincidence'.
Harry couldn't help himself. A disappointed frown tugged his lips down and, glancing over at Speedy again, he saw that the young archer had come to the same conclusion. That was the end of the line; tour over. It had been a hoax after all. Harry should have known better; Batman was a manipulator, and one of the most infuriating people he knew. Still, would it kill the guy to do one nice thing?
"That's it!? You promised us a real look inside, not a glorified backstage pass." Speedy protested as the League members prepared to head off to the Watchtower.
"It's a first step," Aquaman pointed out in a way Harry supposed was meant to be comforting; he flinched at the words, nervously shifting his weight. "You've been granted access few others get."
That was the wrong thing to say. Speedy bristled, anger seeping into his posture, and Harry couldn't resist a glare of his own. Was Aquaman serious?
"Oh really. Who cares what side of the glass we're on?" It was a little unnerving to have the reporters hanging around all the time; the Hall was too open.
"Roy, you just need to be patient." Green Arrow stepped in, placating. It was a futile effort; Speedy was 18, in the know, and more than old enough to have his own opinions and make his own decisions. He was a more aggressive version of how Harry had been when he decided he was fed up with the Wizarding World.
"What I need, is respect. They're treating us like kids, worse, like side-kicks. We deserve better than this."
Despite everything, despite his irritation and anger and disappointment, he couldn't blame the other teens for being confused about Speedy's rage; Green Arrow was probably the most open hero mentor a person could find, so it was no wonder that Speedy knew about the Watchtower, for he obviously did, but at the same time, that was exactly why no-one else would.
"Roy..." He wanted to say don't make a scene, we'll talk about it later, or perhaps something that would actually be of some comfort to the frustrated young man, but Speedy just glared at him, completely fed-up. Though he couldn't really blame him, it hurt just a little that Speedy wasn't willing to listen to him. Then again, he wasn't the sort to listen to reason – even good reason – when he was frustrated.
"Why are you playing their game?" Speedy demanded, turning suddenly and staring down each teen in turn, trying fruitlessly to convey his annoyance to them. "Today was supposed to be the day. Step one in becoming full-fledged members of the League."
"Well sure," Confused, Kid Flash glanced around the room, looking for guidance, "But I thought step one was a tour of the HQ."
Giving in completely, Harry let it show that he agreed one hundred percent with what Speedy was saying, even if no-one else did. Though Speedy gave no indication of noticing, his posture straightened the slightest bit, more sure of himself in his anger.
"Except the Hall isn't the League's real HQ. I bet they never told you it's just a false front for tourists, and a pit-stop for catching zeta-beam teleporter tubes to the real thing; an orbiting satellite called the Watchtower."
A vengeful smirk lit up Harry's face as he saw the shock and confusion – possibly anger from Batman – on the faces of the League members at Speedy's revelation. Batman turned his notorious glare on Green Arrow, and Harry felt a momentary sympathy for Oliver; it wasn't fun being the target of the Bat's anger.
"I know I know, but I thought, maybe we could make an exception?" Green Arrow offered sheepishly in explanation of Speedy's knowledge. At least one of their mentors thought that maybe they ought to get the real deal. Unfortunately one against four was pretty much useless if that one wasn't Batman.
The whole thing was getting ridiculous. Harry was pissed, Speedy was pissed, Green Arrow was only a slight bit disheartened, but otherwise fine. The League weren't making a good impression at all. Steeling himself against the possibility of Batman's vengeful wrath Harry walked over to Speedy and placed a supportive hand on his shoulder.
"You are not helping your cause here son, stand down. And you, Harry, you shouldn't encourage his behaviour." Aquaman insisted, in that calm-but-stern way that he, as an Atlantean, seemed to have perfected to a T.
"Or what? You'll send me to my room? And I'm not your son, I'm not even his! I thought I was his partner, but, not any more."
Silence rang out through the room after Speedy's declaration, and Harry's grip on his shoulder turned slightly desperate. He didn't want Roy to leave; if the young archer cut ties Harry wouldn't know what was happening to him, if he was alright, if he was injured. Considering his whole existence was a mess of uncertainties, he didn't like unnecessary ones.
"Don't," Harry whispered pleadingly, blood boiling with fury at the thought that it was Batman's false hope that had led to this. The Justice League shouldn't be pissing off young heroes and forcing them away; freelancers were unpredictable, and he had thought Batman disapproved of them.
Roy was torn; Harry had tried so hard to get this right for them, and the 29 year old was like a big kid sometimes, he could tell he was devastated that it had fallen through. But how was it that Harry was the only damn person who was making any effort to prevent him from leaving?! That was what he hated about the current set-up – he wasn't valued enough as an individual. They didn't even care!
"Sorry," He muttered softly, for Harry's ears only, "But I can't deal with them anymore." Shrugging Harry's hand off of his shoulder he shot him a brief, vaguely apologetic look, before addressing the other hero protégées. "I guess they're right about you three; you aren't ready."
Very quickly pulling himself together, Roy left the Hall without a single glance back. Harry followed his path with sad eyes, taking in the shell-shocked expressions on the faces of the other teens. When the doors slid shut behind something inside Harry snapped; he spun, red-faced, to face the League members.
"How could you just let him leave?! Oliver! I thought you-" What was bound to amount to a lengthy rant was interrupted by the beeping of the monitor.
"Superman to Justice League. There's been an explosion at Project Cadmus, it's on fire."
Letting out an exasperated sigh Harry sunk into an abandoned chair and hung his head in his hands, ignoring the conversation in favour of trying to get his temper back under control. It wasn't often that he got that mad; he never got mad on his own account, only for others. Yeah, Roy was 11 years younger than him, nowhere near his own age like Oliver or Aquaman were, but Harry's heart went out to him, and the others, because, despite the vastly different circumstances, they reminded him, in bits and pieces, of himself as a child. They deserved someone who wouldn't judge them for their failures like Batman would. He just wanted to be there for them, and now Roy was gone. He'd failed.
His head snapped up when someone said his name.
"Harry, come. We require all available League members for this." Batman instructed, ignoring the various frustrated and injured looks scattered across the faces of the teens from their dismissal. All the defiance had pretty much drained out of him and, lifelessly, he climbed to his feet.
A hand on his chest made him pause, and he found himself surrounded.
"Thanks for trying." Kid Flash offered, with a half-hearted smile that Harry could tell was strained. Robin and Aqualad nodded their agreement, before moving out of his way.
Harry allowed himself to be herded towards the teleporter, obediently following the others to the Watchtower. A mindless mission sounded good about then. It would allow him a chance to act without thought, so he would have time to process. To process the fact that, just when he thought he'd gotten something right for a change, everything had fallen to pieces around him once again.
He moved on autopilot, ignoring the muted, business-like greetings offered his way by Justice League members who had already been stationed up at the Watchtower. They had a job to do, one that was apparently more important than the Cadmus fire, since they were in space and not heading over there, and Harry wanted it over and done with as soon as possible so he could get the hell away from Batman for a time.
There was a more in-depth debrief offered to them by Zatara, which Harry listened to with one ear, only paying enough attention to pick up the important details. He reluctantly admitted that stopping the criminal sorcerer Wotan from blotting out the sun was more important than some emotional alone-time. After all, without the sun there wouldn't be much of an Earth to go back to and angst about.
Irrational feeling or not, Harry probably hated Wotan the most out of all the recurring criminals the Justice League faced off with. Wotan and Zatara were a pain for him to fight around – for or against, it didn't matter – because it highlighted how different his own brand of magic was from their sorcery. He performed all of his magic non-verbally around them, so they couldn't analyse his usage of derived Latin, and made do with his wand disguised as a ring that he never took off. While this stopped him from revealing the existence of wand-waving, Latin-chanting witches and wizards, henceforth saving him from the wrath of a squad of angry Aurors for breaking the Statute, it didn't make his magic any less different.
The battle was a blur to Harry.
He barely remembered to perform a bubble-head charm on himself before being exposed to the empty vacuum of space.
Wotan had thrown him into the path of an attack by Green Lantern – that would smart for quite awhile, and he wasn't currently in a forgiving mood.
Zatara had successfully distracted Wotan for long enough for someone – Harry wasn't sure who – to grab the problematic Amulet of Aten from his grasp, ripping away the powers he had been utilising in his effort to destroy the planet.
Zatara and Harry had combined their efforts to create a temporary holding cage to transport Wotan in.
Wotan had been taken out of Harry's hands.
It wasn't until Harry actually realised the mission was over that he noticed his mouth had been bleeding and that he had the beginnings of a hefty bruise along the side of his face. He was definitely going to have to get Green Lantern back for that somehow, even if it was just an accident. Although, being tossed around like he had been had at least given him the chance to cool off and get his thoughts in check.
What Harry really wanted to do was track down Roy and try and get the guy to talk to him, except he was getting a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Like a warning going off in the back of his head.
"Shit," Harry muttered, drawing odd looks from some of his team-mates – he wasn't a big swearer. Now that his mind was clearer Harry could tell something was off. According to the monitoring charms he had long ago placed on the teens – so he was a bit overprotective, who could blame him? – they were in danger, which meant that unless some idiot had decided to break into the Hall, they were no longer there.
Suddenly overwhelmed by a whole other sense of desperation Harry broke free of the huddle of stationary superheroes and raced towards the Zeta transporter.
"Harry, where do you think you're going? We have to talk about your behaviour earlier!" Harry wasn't in the mood to listen to Bats, even if the man was in a bad mood.
"I don't have time for this right now!" Harry shouted back, twitching with nervous energy as he waited for the Zeta beams to scan him. The others stared at him in confusion, but he was gone before they could question him further.
"What do you think may have upset him?" J'onn asked calmly – he hadn't seen anything that might have caused such a reaction in Harry, he'd certainly never reacted that way before to accidental injuries.
"Harry's a passionate person," Oliver pointed out, shrugging helplessly, "He might be trying to contact Roy... Still, don't you think we should go check on him?"
There was a scattered agreement, and one by one they headed back to the Hall of Justice.
Inside the Hall Harry was having what probably constituted as another small mental breakdown. Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad had disappeared, he knew they were in danger, and he had no idea where they were. It was a bad day gone horribly wrong.
He could only be thankful that it was so late at night that all of the public had been kicked out of the Hall, so there were no reporters about to witness his behaviour.
When the sound of the transporter started up again Harry froze in his pacing, facing it, just about ready to punch whoever first appeared in order to show his frustration. If it just so happened to be Batman, then all the better.
"They're gone." Was the first thing out of his mouth when the mentors were all back – he ignored the continuing stream of others being transported in.
Flash was the first person to seem to understand what he was getting at, as he started vibrating tensely on the spot, expression hard. Batman walked over to the console and checked the system, his regular grim expression unchanging.
"It's been hacked." He commented monotonously, not bothering to expand on the culprit – no-one other than Robin had the technological know-how to do it. "They accessed the Cadmus files." Batman levelled a slight glare on Superman this time, probably for bringing Cadmus to their attention in the first place.
"Ok then." Harry muttered and, spinning on the spot, disappeared.
The Justice League stared at the empty space in shocked silence. Harry had never apparated in front of anyone before, and no-one had known he was capable of it. Despite everything, he really was still a mystery to them all.
Harry appeared on the street outside the Cadmus building accompanied by a barely audible pop.
His shocked gasp at the wreckage that lay before him echoed down the quiet street.
The Cadmus building was in ruins, and they had been inside it!
He thought he glimpsed movement in the rubble and immediately scrambled over to it, casting a wordless levitation charm on one of the massive concrete chunks, shifting it out of the way. The action earned him a very shocked look from a familiar looking kid dressed all in white, though Harry's attention was quickly diverted to the people he had been looking for.
"Oh, thank Merlin!" He breathed, relieved, as he sank to his knees in the rubble, adrenalin wearing off. KF was at his side in a matter of seconds, while Robin gestured up at the moon, apparently talking to the kid in white.
"Woah, Harry, you okay man? You look a bit beat up."
Harry managed a weary smile, surprising Kid Flash by wrapping his arm around his shoulders and pulling him in for a one-armed hug. World-weary green eyes acknowledged Robin, Aqualad, and the mystery teen over Wally's shoulder, beckoning them over even as he sensed the rest of the League closing in on their location.
"You lot scared the shit out of me just then," He admitted, gesturing with his other arm to the wreckage they were in the middle of, "But I'm just glad you're all safe." He ruffled KF's hair playfully, knowing full well it annoyed the kid, before letting him go, climbing to his feet and wiping rubble-dust off of his jeans. With his heart calming down some now that he knew none of them were injuries in any life-threatening ways, he focussed his gaze solely on the newcomer. "Anyway, who's your new friend?"
The trio glanced at each other, silently communicating, before KF shrugged and said "Superboy."
"Huh." Harry said, looking him up and down. "That's different. It does explain why you look so familiar though." He noticed immediately when Superboy's attention was no longer with them, and he turned to look in the same direction. The rest of the Justice League had arrived.
Harry could tell this was going to be a bit awkward. Actually, scratch that. It was going to be painfully awkward.
A single glance at Superman told Harry that there was no way this was all going to happen smoothly. Just seeing the look on his face made Harry's heart go out to the newly discovered Superboy, because rejection from family – and that was the closest the kid was ever going to get to family, sharing the same DNA – was something Harry was all too familiar with himself, not that anyone knew it. He'd been very careful with keeping his past life in the past.
"I'm Superman's clone," Superboy offered up into the encroaching silence, startling a mass of whispers and confused looks amongst the amassed superheroes.
There was a split second where that statement hung in the air, before Superman's expression soured. That look spoke volumes, both to Harry and to Superboy, who's own expression crumbled. Batman stepped into action straight away, and while everyone was busy sorting things out, Harry cornered Superman at the edge of the Cadmus site, followed shortly after by Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter.
"How did they even manage to create a clone of me! It could be a danger to society, it should be destroyed."
Harry's ire flared up at Superman's complete disregard for life, but Wonder Woman beat him to the punch.
"He's just a kid, can't you see that? All of his life, however long that may have been, has probably been spent locked up in that building, and the first thing you say when you find out about him is that he should die?! I thought you had more morals than that! Clone or not, he's still his own person."
"But... I don't... Tch. What the hell am I supposed to do with him then?"
"Oh for Merlin's sake! You're a grown-up, be the better man. You don't have to love him or be a dad or anything, just don't be an ass! Choices and actions made in the first meeting are important, and they influence people a lot more than you might think," Harry was talking a lot from experience now, because god knows he'd been through a ton of personality altering meetings. "If you automatically assume he's going to become a criminal, then don't be surprised when he does, because you will have made it happen."
Wonder Woman had switched her calculating gaze from Superman to Harry, and it was making him uncomfortable. He wanted to get away from her before he said anything that would be passed along to Black Canary and force him to have a counselling session. He'd managed so well to avoid it so far.
"Harry, you don't know what they might have been doing to him down there-"
"And neither do you!" J'onn rested a placating hand on his shoulder but Harry brushed it off, resisting the urge to turn tail and run. Superman could be just as stubborn as Batman when he felt like it, and it never failed to piss Harry off somehow. This was no different, except he was being ridiculously dense and obtuse. Sure, Superboy was his clone, but that shouldn't give him monopoly over deciding the poor kid's future! Not to mention Superboy could probably hear everything they were saying, depending on which of Superman's powers had manifested in him.
"We all need to calm down and think about this rationally." J'onn stated, always the peacemaker. Harry ran his hands through his hair, messing it up and tugging at it, before shaking his head.
"I can't do this any more. I'm out." Arguing with Superman when he was in one of his moods – at any time really – was like bashing your skull against a brick wall: dumb, painful, and unlikely to get you anywhere. Harry was simply giving up before he gave himself an aneurysm.
Part-way through storming off – in other words, heading over to subtly molly-coddle the people he actually liked – Harry paused next to Green Arrow, glancing at him from the corner of his eye and patting him on the back. It was a silent apology, because now that he was calmer he could recognise that it wasn't really Oliver's fault, Roy quitting. It was the unfortunate by-product of a whole lot of things. Oliver nodded once, not meeting Harry's gaze, and Harry moved on.
Robin, KF and Aqualad were hovering around Superboy in an oddly protective motion; it warmed his heart to see that even if Superman was going to be a dick about it that at least Superboy would have some moral support.
Harry came to a standstill in front of Superboy, who was trying to act like he wasn't worried about the discussion still going on behind him between J'onn, Wonder Woman and Superman.
"Look, Superboy." Harry placed both hands on Superboy's shoulders, holding him gently in place to focus the clone's attention on him and not Superman. "Whatever happens, whatever Superman ends up saying when they're done with him, I want you to remember something." Inside, Harry had reluctantly come to an understanding about one of the reasons why the whole situation was probably so confusing for Superman. "Superman didn't even know about your existence until just over five minutes ago. It's a pretty big shock, realising that he essentially has a son or a younger brother that he never knew about. I know that you probably have these wonderful expectations of him, and he can be a good person, but he's confused and he needs time to adjust. He doesn't tend to say the nicest things when he's confused."
"What do you care? I can see it in their eyes, none of them like me. I don't belong here, right? I'm just a stupid clone."
The teenage trio exchanged looks; they had each had enough experience with Harry to know that he hated it when people talked badly about themselves. It showed as well, as Harry's grip tightened on Superboy's shoulders and his gaze sharpened with a fierce intelligence and a dark weight that he didn't often show.
"Never say that. I don't care how you came to be, heck, I've barely known you for ten minutes, but you are your own person, and I can't see anything wrong with you. You helped the others, and for that I can't thank you enough, because I wasn't paying enough attention and I don't know what might have happened if you hadn't intervened. So no matter what the others say or do or think, you are not worthless."
Superboy wasn't the only one who seemed a little confused at Harry's mention of 'not paying enough attention', since he hadn't been anywhere near by, but he nodded in acceptance, hands fisted in the torn material of his outfit.
"I agree," Aqualad commented, walking closer to the two. "Your assistance was greatly appreciated Superboy, and I would not be opposed to working with you again, should that be the case."
An awkward throat-clearing interrupted their little feelings-circle, and Harry stepped away from Superboy so that he could properly see eye-to-eye with the perpetrator, Superman. He had taken up a closed-off stance, trying not to appear vulnerable or show any of the conflicting emotions he might feel on his face.
"Listen, kid, I don't... I'm kind of busy right now... Uh... The league... Well... I'm sure that in the meantime the League will sort something out." After Superman stumbled his way through his not-really-thought-out speech he avoided Harry's irritable glare and flew off, having already spoken with Batman about whatever it was exactly that he had come to a conclusion about.
Superboy let out a tense breath beside him and Harry sighed, defeated. Nothing had gone right in the last twenty four hours. They had lost Speedy and gained a confused and bitter clone with some obvious self-esteem issues. Not to mention, Harry thought as he saw Batman heading their way with Flash and Aquaman in tow, the teens were likely in massive trouble now.
"Cadmus will be investigated." Batman informed them. Harry found he didn't care all that much, as long as there was no-one still down there. "All 52 levels. But let's make one thing clear-"
"You should have called!" Flash interjected, visibly annoyed. Batman glanced back at him, not impressed by the interruption, before continuing on as though it hadn't happened.
"End results aside we are not happy. You hacked Justice League systems, disobeyed direct orders, and endangered lives. You will not be doing this again."
Harry folded his arms across his chest, unimpressed. Didn't Batman realise that doing as they please is basically a teenage right, that they would do it anyway? He was once again beaten to the punch, this time by Aqualad.
"I am sorry, but we will."
If it weren't for the seriousness of the situation Harry would have smiled at that. Standing up to Batman? That took guts. And he even ignored the order from Aquaman to stand down. Which, considering it was Aqualad, was actually even more impressive.
"We did good work here tonight. The work you trained us to do. Together, on our own, we forged something powerful, important."
Flash stepped forward, trying to understand their motivation.
"If this is about your treatment at the Hall, the three of you-"
"The four of us." Kid Flash interjected, including Superboy in their little group without hesitation. "And it's not."
"Batman we're ready to use what you taught us." Robin implored his mentor, trying to get the stubborn defender of Gotham to see where they were coming from. "Or why teach us at all?"
"Why let them tell us what to do?" Superboy complained, taking his inclusion in their new group in stride, and taking his frustration out on the people who looked at him so distrustfully instead. "It's simple. Either get on board, or get out of the way."
Watching the two groups face off Harry wasn't sure the whole thing was such a good idea, but, god forbid, if something happened that resulted in their expulsion from any involvement in the team, well, Harry knew where his loyalties more firmly lay, and it wasn't with his peers. The group had good ideas, good logic too. What was the point in training them to be superheroes if you weren't going to give them a chance to prove themselves without your constant presence?
Batman merely narrowed his eyes at them.
July 6, 13:00 EDT
Harry wasn't sure what to do with himself.
Batman had told him, in very few words, that he was sorting something out.
He had absolutely no idea what that meant, but hoped it was a good something rather than a bad something.
There had been a bit of an issue over what to do with Superboy until a more permanent arrangement could be decided on; Batman had wanted to lock him away in the Watchtower under constant supervision. Instead, Harry had offered to let the clone stay with him. There were rules that had been enforced on him, but he didn't mind. It would have been cruel to let Superboy have a taste of freedom only to lock him back up again in some other weird place.
He wasn't allowed to let Superboy outside unsupervised – it made him sound like some troublesome kid or a house pet – and he was supposed to monitor him at all times. Harry wasn't one for encroaching on a person's personal space though, so he pretty much took the second rule with a grain of salt and went about it his own way, but putting a monitoring charm on him. It wasn't anything big, just enough so that he knew what part of the house he was in and if he was in danger of hurting himself – which would likely happen if he tried to cook, because Harry had a rather large collection of sharp knives.
Superboy was pretty withdrawn. He hadn't said much other than to thank Harry, once for taking him in, and again for the new clothes Harry had taken him out to buy later on the previous day, but he wasn't going to push it. As far as Harry could tell he'd spent most of the time so far seated in the window seat watching the world go by, seeing things with his own eyes.
Harry wasn't surprised at all when his proximity alarms went off, followed almost immediately by a cheerful voice calling out "Hey Supes." Kid Flash – heck, all of them, Robin, Aqualad and Speedy too – had a key to his apartment in case he ever wanted to come over and talk, or just be away from other people, but the door hadn't been locked anyway. He'd been expecting a visit at some point over the next few days.
"I'm in the study Wally," He called out, shutting the book he had been reading and putting it down on the desk. It wasn't really a study so much as a small private library, but whatever, calling it a study made him feel less bookish.
Wally burst in at a much more normal speed, and threw himself down on the couch, much to Harry's amusement. He was in his civilian clothes, and Harry got the feeling he might have been ditching school to come here, but he couldn't bring himself to care just then.
"So, what brings you here?" Harry asked, stretching his legs out in front of him and watching as Wally made himself comfortable.
"Nothing really, I just..." Wally sighed and glanced over at him before staring up at the ceiling, almost like they were in a psychiatrist's office from a movie. "I've been thinking a lot, you know? About everything that happened."
"About Cadmus?" Harry probed, even though it was pretty sure that wasn't really it.
"Sort of, but mostly... Mostly about Speedy."
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose, suddenly tired, and he tapped the desk next to his cell phone with his free hand.
"Has he... You know. Have you managed to talk to him yet?"
"No, I haven't." Harry admittedly softly, gaze wandering as he sensed Superboy moving around the place. "I've called him several times and I've been texting him on and off pretty much ever since I got back from Cadmus" Harry hadn't actually slept since then, he was still waiting to crash, "but he hasn't replied to anything."
"I'm sure he'll be fine though. Speedy's more than old enough to look after himself now, and hey, maybe he'll be able to think up a better superhero name than Speedy."
Wally laughed at that. They'd always wondered why his name had ended up as Speedy, since it didn't really seem to have any connection to his skills – except maybe being a quick draw, but it still sounded silly, something he had pointed out to Oliver many times before.
Wally stayed for a while longer, and the two talked about more trivial things. By the time Wally left they had both spent at least ten minutes pretending not to be staring at his cell, as though they were willing it to ring. It was going to take more than a day to get used to the idea that Speedy wasn't going to be around any more, but at least it wasn't because he was dead.
July 8, 08:04 EDT
Harry hid a yawn behind his hand as he escorted Superboy to the Cave. He'd finally crashed properly late last night, only to be woken early this morning with a summons to come here. The others were already there waiting for them. Batman, as always, armed with a speech.
"This cave was the original secret sanctuary of the Justice League. We're calling it into service again. Since you four are determined to stay together and fight the good fight, you'll do it on League terms. Red Tornado has volunteered to live here and be your supervisor. Black Canary's in charge of training. I will deploy you on missions."
"Real missions?" Robin asked, still a bit skeptical of the whole thing, even with the obvious efforts various people could be seen putting in to restore the Cave to some of its former glory.
"Yes, but covert."
"The League will still handle the obvious stuff." Flash pointed out, gesturing to his costume. "There's a reason we have these big targets on our chests."
"But Cadmus proves the bad guys are getting smarter." Aquaman added. "Batman needs a team that can operate on the sly."
"The five of you will be that team."
Harry blinked, unsure if he had heard that right through his fatigue. Batman did know there were only four of them now with Speedy gone, right?
"Cool." Robin exclaimed, before the rest of the statement sunk in. "Wait, five?"
Batman stared behind the group, and the others turned to see what was happening. Harry observed them from where he was leaning against the wall.
"This is the Martian Manhunter's niece, Miss Martian."
"I'm liking this gig more every minute." Kid Flash muttered to Robin. "Ah, welcome aboard! I'm Kid Flash, that's Robin, Aqualad. It's cool if you forget their names."
Rolling his eyes at Wally's antics – he caught Flash doing the same – Harry smothered the laughter that wanted to escape. He'd obviously recovered pretty well from the bout of melancholy that had bought him to his house the other day.
"I'm honoured to be included." It was clear to see that either Miss Martian hadn't been on earth for as long as J'onn had, or she hadn't had the same level of exposure, because the way she spoke was still a bit formal and foreign, at least to Harry.
The trio crowded around Miss Martian, but Superboy hung back, visibly unsure. Harry made no move to encourage him. They'd had plenty of time to talk over the last few days, and he was going to have to do some adjusting on his own, which included trusting that he actually was allowed to be there, and that it wasn't just Harry trying to be nice.
Eventually it was Robin who made the move, calling Superboy over to the group. He needed to loosen up. Although he may also have been making note of the fact that Superman wasn't here. It couldn't be very encouraging. Harry needed to have words with Superman, again, but he also understood that he needed some time to adjust.
What had he even gotten himself into?
He should have just done some sort of freelance hero crap in Britain and stayed out of the spandex-team altogether.
Alas, it was years and years too late to worry about that now. He'd just have to sit back and see where this path led.