Ch 5. Are We There Yet?
Passenger Cabin: 35mins Later
The take off had been smooth and relatively quiet considering the rocket engines weren't really real. The ride leveled out within minutes and to give the kids something to see the Lanterns had altered the small windows in the passenger cabin into bigger and longer viewing windows so that they could watch the stars and planets pass by. It was a real treat seeing as they, with the exception of Blue Beetle, never really had the opportunity to see what was between their world and others whenever they Zeta-tube anywhere. Static had even brought a camera along to see if he could snap a few shots of any planets they happen to pass by along the way. So far he was lucky enough to get a snapshot of Jupiter just as two of its moons were orbiting near its big red spot and an almost perfect shot of Saturn since its orbit had it roughly in the area they were traveling through. Beast Boy was taking this chance to show off what he knew about their solar system and Jaime seemed to have settled down enough to take off the armor. Even Connor seemed to be enjoying this chance at seeing the planets for the first time, and up close.
"Oooo, our first deep space mission!" The new Kid Flash practically cheered as he bounced in his seat like a little kid going to camp for the first time. "This is so crash! I've never been to another planet before." Seeing all the stars pass them by was pretty cool especially since they were all actually different colors instead of being just white. "How 'bout you, Blue?" However the speedster didn't receive an answer right away and turned to find his best friend staring blankly out the window, looking troubled and lost in thought. "Blue?"
The sound of his name being called brought the young Scarab Master out of his musing with a bit of a jump. "Hmm? Wha-?!" Looking up to find Bart looking at him worriedly from over the back of his seat, Blue realizes that he was being spoken to. "Aye, lo siento, hermando." He apologized after giving himself a well-deserved face palm for spacing out. "I guess tengo mucho on my mind." He hadn't even been talking to Khaji-Da that time but rather both allowed his mind to wander. The sentient device had learned that on occasion its host needed quiet in order to allow certain information to sink in, and there certainly was a lot of information to consider in this matter.
"Obviously." Bart stated with an accepting grin at the apology but noticing that his pal was using more Spanish than normally which meant that he was deeply troubled by something. "What's got ya on mode, hair-man-oh?"
The armored Latino debated for a moment before deciding to just confide in his friend about his worries. "Its this whole thing with the Guardians wanting to meet me…" As much as he felt he could trust the Earth's Lanterns, Khaji-Da had always warned him to keep his guard up around them. Far more often than any other person, and continues to do so even after being classified as allies. "I mean the Reach are suppose to be their sworn enemies, right?" Even now Scarab was advising him to armor up and to, at the very least, have his concussion blaster set on automatic. A slight improvement over the plasma cannon at least. "What would they want with an ex-lackey of theirs?"
"Hey-hey-hey-HEY!" Within seconds the auburn was out of his seat and right in Jaime's face, forcing the Hispanic to shrink in his chair. "You were never then, not now, nor will ever be a lackey, whatever that is, to those monsters. Got it?" He even emphasized this point by leaning in all the more which in turn forced Blue to slide down all the more. "Don't you ever associate yourself with them like that again. Alright?" Bad enough other people were thinking along those lines, there was no way he was going to stand by and have his friend actually label himself as such.
"Alright-alright, hermano." The beetle relented with a nervous chuckle, submissive grin and both hands up in mocked surrender. "Whatever you say." He added once he was given room to straighten out and relax. He knew the auburn still tended to look out for him, but sometimes he could be just a bit overly zealous about it.
"Blue's got a point though." Static suddenly voiced out loud from his seat as he turned from the window and glanced over to the pair. "If these guys know he's on the up and up, why would they make'em come all the way to a planet full of anti-Reach soldiers when they could have had the three already on Earth do the ceremony?" The thought had never crossed his mind until Jaime mentioned the rivalry between the Lanterns and the Reach.
The minor fact had Superboy's militaristic mind suddenly analyzing that very idea. "They probably just wanna see for themselves what a free beetle looks like." There was no reason to suspect that this was all an elaborate set up however, Static Shock did bring up a very valid point with that fact. "I mean Blue's like the first one ever, right?" He commented causally enough, but mentally he was beginning to see what Nightwing may have been suspicious about.
"But what if it's more than that?" Virgil insisted as past memories of his time as a prisoner of the Reach began to resurface once again. Memories of being physically restrained and being poked, shocked, and prodded at relentlessly. "What if they really just want to… examine him?"
It was at the mentioning of that possibility that Conner picked up an increased heart rate among the others. The suddenness of it had the Kryptonian looking back from his seat and narrowing in on the sound. It stood out among the others because of its speed and seemed to be coming from the end of the aisle. It was clear that it belong to Jamie. The Hispanic youth had tried to appear calm but his eyes were trembling with apprehension.
"That's why we're coming along." Superboy stated from his seat, earning everyone's attention, especially Jaime's whom he kept his eyes locked on. "To make sure you're treated fairly." The reassuring words worked and helped to lessen the boy's heart rate. Having super sonic hearing came in pretty handy, especially since people tended to forget he has that ability.
"Exactly, so no worries, Blue, we got your…" However, Kid Flash's words suddenly failed as a very tantalizing scent filled his nostrils and caused him to lean into his now bewildered pal's personal space and breathed deeply.
Static Shock found the random action way too odd not to comment on it. "Dude, did you just sniff him?" He knew the future speedster tended to be a bit weird considering the time he's from, but that was just…
"Cookies." The yellow and red clad hero quipped with an excited grin.
It had been said so fast that Virgil had missed it. "What?"
Jaime, however, knew that look and instantly frowned at the speedster. "No." He knew where this was going to go and he wasn't about to have any of it.
"Are those your mom's chocolate chip cookies I smell?" The slightly younger hero asked, completely ignoring the predetermined answer.
"No." The beetle repeated his answer in his native tongue, not to the initial question but to the one that was yet to be asked, to show how serious he was being.
"Blue's got cookies?" Beast Boy suddenly chimed in as he stood on his seat to see better. His tail swaying happily at the prospect of getting a chocolaty treat. "Sweet!"
Seeing as now he had two to content with, the Latino grabbed for his overnight bag and held it possessively away from the closest threat. "I said no, you guys." Reacting to his determination, Scarab spread and covered its host in the protective Blue Beetle armor.
"Ah, come on her-man-oh pass them out!" The auburn boy from the future half whined as he reached over and tried to get at the bag. The attempt failed since Blue leaned further away. "Don't hog them!"
Being friends with a speedster wasn't exactly easy since on occasion you might wind up getting your lunch stolen, so you'd have to come up with ways of defending your food. "They're part of my lunch and there's only two to them." For Jaime that sometimes meant flying a few feet off the ground where he couldn't be reached. Unfortunately the closed in space left that option out, so he had to settle for covering it with his body.
"But I'm hungry!" The youngest of the Flash family practically whined as he tried to get the reluctant bug to uncurl and give up the baked goods.
Again the older teenager would have none of it. "Then eat your own lunch." Without the use of weapons, the cornered beetle was soon pushing and parrying the intrusive appendages away in his defense.
Being met with such resistance only bolded the smaller youth to practically climb on top of his struggling pal in an attempt at pinning him to his seat. "Already did!" He stated as his prey shifted just enough to avoid the being boxed in his chair.
"That's your own fault." The Latino was forced to virtually stand in his seat to gain a higher leverage from the persistent speedster and hold up the bog out of reach.
Seeing as his usual methods weren't working, Bart decided it was time to get tough. "Just give me a cookie!" He demanded before half jumping, half climbing on the taller boy himself like a monkey on a tree.
"Ah!" Came the shout as the action toppled the unbalanced beetle right out of his seat and sent both of them to the tumbling to the ground. "Cut it out Bart!" Jaime shouted as he used one hand to hold onto his bag and the other to try and push off the advancing hungry speedster. "Get off me!"
Having taken wrestling lessons since joining the Team, the new Kid Flash managed to duck under the pushing arm and grab at the backpack. He quickly stood to open the bag only for Jaime, having taken said lessons longer, to rear up and grab him from behind, topple them over again and get him in a head lock on the floor. The speedster rolled them over just as the Latino made a grab for the bag and settle his weight on his hip and pinned his hands above his head. Only Jaime bend himself in half far enough to get his legs crossed in front of Bart and push him down and twisted so that the auburn was trapped on his side with one leg tightly held straight up. An old Roman or Greek style move that Superboy had taught him some time back when he was practically made a loner all over again. Naturally Kid Flash's counter for such a move was to vibrate, which prompted the beetle to hold on all the tighter.
As the two were wrestling on the ground for possession of the duffle bag, the Hawkin boy could look on in confusion. "Are they always like this?" He asked a laughing Beast Boy whom stood on his chair with his tail swaying in excitement.
"Only when homemade cookies are involved." The green boy stated as he watched the duo struggle for the dominant position. Getting all the more excited as his adolescent animal instincts urged him to join the play fight.
This had the latest freshman of the Team double take. He hadn't really expected this to be some kind of ritual of any kind. "They really that good?" His own mother could bake some seriously good cupcakes, but not good enough to fight over. At least not like this.
"Oh yeah." The mischievous monkey boy stated with a grin before giving into his instincts, climbed onto the top of the back of his seat, and did a flying leap right onto the struggling pair. "Dog pile!"
Transforming into a Labrador in mid-air, the changeling pounced on the distracted beetle and grabbed onto the backpack. "Daah! Stop it!" The Latino teenager shouted as he engaged in a tug of war with the green dog that ultimately caused the zipper to slip open and spill it contents, including the blue and black lunchbox. Seeing that he had some help, Bart jumped Jaime in order to keep him from getting up and getting leverage. "Qitate! Cut it out!" The heavily accented protest demanded over the pair of playful laughter as all three youths battled it out for possession of the coveted prize.
"Get the cookies!" Kid Flash half laughed half shouted throughout the rough housing as a few cheers from the remaining two passengers rang over them.
Little did they know that the two adults in the other room had overheard their fun. "Will you keep it down back there, some of us are trying to fly!" Hal Jordan's voice suddenly shouted from the captain's cabin after Blue Beetle was made to topple over again when he had gotten a hold of his lunch box and tried to jump away into the air.
The shouted reminded the newest young hero of the Team that there were, in fact, adults in the other room. "Ah, shouldn't we stop them?" Virgil asked towards the senior Team member after the initial command from the Captain's cabin.
Although he didn't show it too much, Superboy just found the whole thing simply laughable. "Blue can handle it." He quipped in response as he watched the three freshmen bond with each other.
Having been one that sparred with a fully geared up Blue on several occasions he knew that the armor increased the beetle's strength several times over so he would not be injured. If he hadn't knocked Beast Boy and Kid Flash off yet it was because he either didn't want to hurt them or he was trying to get some leverage. Hard to do since they keep rolling him onto his back and keep him off balanced to try and pry open his arms to get at his lunch box. Plus he could see how much the Hispanic was actually enjoying the rough housing. Jaime so rarely ever got invited to just hang out and be one of the guys, especially since Impulse took on the mantel of the New Kid Flash. The fact that Bart wasn't even using his super speed to vibrate his hands just enough to tickle his best friend through his armor was proof that he really just wanted to horse around. The cookie was just a bonus if he actually got it. Beast Boy would take any excuse to goof off and since this was proving to be a rather long trip, he welcomed the shenanigans. However, the unknown fourth player in this little game of extreme keep-away, decided to step in and gain control of the situation. Suddenly amidst the tangled up limbs, two distinctive blue tentacle-looking appendages sprouted out and lassoed both Bart and Garfield, pinning their arms against their bodies. With twin cries of surprise, the two younger boys were pulled upward and suspended face up in the air away from Jaime whom merely lifted his head and stared at the sight before him.
Bart soon realized there was no solid ground under his feet and began to vibrate in order to get loose, but to his utter shock, the things that held him vibrated with him to counter his attempt. "He-e-ey let go!" Realizing that he was truly and undoubtedly snared the auburn began to struggle against his restraints with vigor in an attempt at getting loose. "Let go!" He really didn't like being held up like this. Too many bad memories from his past when he lived in the future.
For his part, Jaime was in a state of shock at what he was witnessing. "That's… new…" The barbs just behind his shoulders, Scarab's antennas, had independently elongated and became prehensile, acting like a second pair of limbs. Never before had that feature been used. He didn't even knew he had such a feature!
"Your methods were proving ineffective against this assault, Jaime Reyes." Khaji-Da stated within his head as it adjusted the tendrils so that its host could sit up without losing its grip on the other two boys. Admit-tingly it took longer to response seeing as they were being engaged by non-hostiles and at least one of them was considered a close ally to its host. "This scarab had to intervene." Another 2.7 minutes and Jaime would have lost his grip on his food source and the scarab simply could not allow its favored host to go without nourishment. Even if it wasn't as nutritious as it should have been. "Knowing your dislike for violence against allies, this seemed like a sensible alternative to the plasma cannon." Responding to the youth's fleeting mental wish for an extra set of arms proved to be very effective after all. Not only did it provide a solution to the current problem it also allowed the Scarab to take direct actions without really expending energy. This development will certainly be saved and utilize for later study.
"Put us down Blue!" Beast Boy shouted loudly since for whatever reason the older boy had spaced out at the sight of them. Seriously, the bug really needed to do something about that.
"Ah, right. Right, uh…" Not really knowing how to control the new feature, Jaime focused and tried directing the limbs with his hands in the hopes that it would work. He was relieved to see the tendrils did, in fact, obey his thoughts to lowering the two down to safety. "There." The feat had been so smooth and natural that it might as well have been second nature to the armored hero.
"I didn't know you could do that." Virgil said as KF and BB were settled on the hard light floor and untied while Connor stayed silent and studied the strange new feature as they retreated back into the blue scarab.
"Nether did I." The young scarab wielder admitted wondering exactly when he may have unlocked that ability.
Admit-tingly the evil Blue Beetle of the future never possessed such an ability, so Bart had been more surprised than anything, but he still didn't appreciate being suspended in the air. "Well it scared me." Bart started with crossed arms and a mocked huff. He preferred his feet planted solely on the ground, thank you very much. "You owe me a cookie." He added with an expecting extended hand as he kept up the act in the hopes of getting one of said treats as payment for the manhandling.
At that, the right antenna prong extended like a limb from the scarab, wrapped around the lunch box while opening up it's 'shell', quickly pulled the container into the cavity and closed around it. "Items secured, Jaime Reyes." Khaji-Da reported instantly while it scanned the growing the negative emotions of their opponent and simultaneously reinforced the armor. "Preparing for second assault." It even went and added a countdown in its original language for good measure.
"Ah! No fair!" Bart suddenly yelled when he saw his covet prize disappeared into the glorified mechanical backpack. "Gimme the cookie!" He literally pounced right on the beetle like a cat on a mouse and soon enough Jaime found himself once again pinned and wrestling with the hyperactive auburn. Beast Boy soon followed with a laugh, he animal instincts relishing in a second round of play fighting. Both Virgil and Conner were sent into a second fit of laughter as their entertainment started up again and they even began to cheer on their chosen sides.
The commotions was getting to the point that John Stewart had finally left his seat in the flight cabin to find out what had gotten the boys so hyper all of a sudden. "What's going on back here-Jonas' Priest!" The sight that was laid before the Green Lantern was unbelievable to say the least.
Blue Beetle was being roughly held face down on the construct floor with Beast Boy, in the form of an octopus, pinning his arms just over his head with his tentacles. It was just a matter of keeping Blue from bending his elbows and being mostly a huge mass of muscle with suction cups made it fairly easy to do so. Even so the armor still gave the Hispanic the strength to almost force the movement to happen; at least until the cephalopod switched tactics and tied his arms behind his head and used the extra tentacles to wrap around his shoulders and upper tarsal for support. Kid Flash had been sitting on top of Blue's lower back, practically mounting him really, and was gripping at the scarab as if trying to pry it open and failing at it. Clearly not happy about his current position the Latino had been struggling to get his arms free, and even went as far as to try and buck off the speedster from his back and get his own legs underneath him. To which the auburn youth only held on all the tighter and wound up slipping into an even more compromising position on Blue's backside. He even wrapped his legs around his waist to keep himself from falling off.
"Whoa! Ride'em cowboy!" The auburn shouted with a laugh as he remembered the old Westerns his great grandfather introduced him to. He even had a hand in the air before doing a double take at the front end of the plane and saw that they had an added member to their audience. "Hey, we there yet?"
Him addressing the Lantern was what alerted everyone else that a senior League member was among them. For Jaime, it was a saving grace. "Ayudame!" He quickly yelled in some embarrassment and desperation to get out from under the two.
Seeing whom the beetle was yelling at, Beast boy immediately released his prisoner, morphed back to his human/monkey form and held up his hands in mocked surrender. "Its not what it looks like!" The Animorph shouted, easily imagining what the intergalactic cop might be thinking.
The new Kid Flash, however, wasn't exactly as knowledgeable as his companions about the implications of their current positions. "What are you talking about? Yes it is." He almost quipped as he refused to release his grip on the beetle and the evil, seamless, container that held the covert chocolate chip treasure.
"No its not Bart!" Garfield practically barked while Blue froze halfway to picking himself up since the speedster was still latched onto him.
"Dude we're forcibly holding Blue down against his will and trying to pry open his scarab to get at his sweet tasty cookies." The visitor from the future stated in an almost deadpanned manner as he continued to hold onto the blue scarab even as its owner shifted his weight. "How's it not like what it looks like?"
Jaime could only face-palm himself at his best friend's naiveté and ran the hand down his face. "If you don't even know, I'm not even gonna explain it." Jaime grumbled as he shifted to lying on his side before pushing the smaller speedster off his person. "Now dejame ya!" It's all fun and games until someone is given the wrong impression.
However, Bart would not be deterred from his goal and pounced on the armored bug once again. "Not until you give me one of your cookies!" He declared as he began to grapple, while sitting on Jaime's waist.
Seeing another potential fight, John Stewart shot his ring at the three teens. "Alright! That's enough!" Without delay, three large green hands grabbed each of the boys and suspended them in the air. Once the three troublemakers were secure, the GL turned towards Connor for some answers. "Superboy, what exactly happened here?" Hopefully the no nonsense college student will shed some light on the situation.
The half Kryptonian had been chuckling over the absurdity of it all. It had been a while since he enjoyed himself like this. "Blue was getting jumped by Kid and Beast for his mom's chocolate chip cookies." Truth be told he would have broken the squabble up if Green Lantern Stewart hadn't come in, but now that they had some adult supervision he figured he might as well get a few more chuckles out of it.
Seeing that he wasn't going to get anything more from the group leader, the African American Green Lantern could only sigh. "Oh boy…" Sad thing was, this wasn't the first time he had to intervene in such a dispute. A similar incident happened between Flash and Plastic Man involving the same thing the night they all celebrated the end of the Reach invasion. "Alright, looks like we'll have to separate you lot." A quick look around and soon the construct that held Jaime pulled the boy over to the front right hand seat that Beast Boy had occupied earlier. "Blue Beetle will sit next to Super Boy." Then figuring it may be best to keep the beetle and the young speedster separated, the construct that held Bart dropped him in Jaime's old seat. "Kid Flash will sit in the back seat." Finally Garfield was shortly plopped into the remaining vacant seat that the new KF had once occupied. "And Beast Boy will take the middle seat." The green light hands soon switched the luggage around to their respective owners so as to avoid any further arguments. "There. Now all of you keep it down in here. We still have some ways to go before we reach Oa." Once the youths were all seated and settled he gave one final warning for them all to behave before going back into the next door cabin.
"What happened back there?" Hal Jordan could be heard at the pilot's seat once his fellow Green Lantern reentered the room.
"Apparently they were fighting over Blue's cookies." John chuckled as he remembered the earlier scene he had walked in on. There just never seemed to be a dull moment with that kid around.
"Oh the ones his mom makes?" The masked Lantern knew those exquisite little baked treats well from the time the Reyes family insisted on thanking both the Team and the League for saving their only son. "Man those are good." Both he and Flash nearly got into a wrestling match over his share when the red speed demon inhaled his treats after his first bite. "Did he bring enough for everyone?"
The question served to bring out another chuckle from the ex-marine. "Apparently not."
"Ah, shoot." The disappointed statement was made just as the hard light door finally slid closed and the laughing boys were left alone once again.
Of course the over all humor of the moment only lasted for so long and so everyone fell silent once again. "Well that killed about 10mins." Beast Boy finally stated out loud as he slouched in his new seat, bored once again. "Now what should we do for fun?" Maybe one of the others brought something with them for entertainment.
"We could play I Spy." Bart quipped as he went back to looking out the window at all the different stars passing by them. "That's something you do on road trips, right?" He had learned about constellations in school and being in the middle of space ought to make looking for them all the more challenging, right?
"Don't know about you guys, but I got some work I need to get done." A still armored Jaime stated as he began to stack book after book from his backpack on his lap. Seeing as Scarab had to protect its host's semi-nutritional food source, it chose to stay on guard.
"Sleep." Connor stated blankly as he leaned back and settled in his chair.
Garfield had to blink a few times. "You brought homework on a road trip to the stars?" The green Animorph stated in disbelief while giving his odd teammate a 'What's wrong with you?' look. It was summer break after, and the fact that the beetle had brought schoolwork with him on an astrological fieldtrip to a party in his honor.
"Its extra credit." The sophomore quipped as he opened the first textbooks and began the first of his many assignments. "Ever since mi familia found out about me being the Blue Beetle, Mom's been having me take extra credit to make sure I'm covered academically for all those times I've missed class during missions." It was one of many compromises he had to agreed to that doubled as consequences for keeping such a thing from his parents. "It was either that or give up being a hero."
Whatever 'teacher's pet' comment the Logan boy may have had, died with the given statement. "Oh." Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Apparently having parents that do know about you being a hero can lead to more than just danger from arch nemeses. "Okay then." Having lost his words, Garfield just cleared his throat and went back to looking out the window.
"That reminds me… I'm supposes to write a book report over the summer." Virgil stated with a groan. His school had ended earlier than everyone else and like most other teenagers he was procrastinating until the last minute. "Don't suppose any of ya know anything about Moby Dick?" Seeing someone actually be responsible about homework now had him contemplating to do the work and just get it out of the way early.
"Moby Dick is an eighteenth century literary classic written by Herman Melville in 1851." Conner suddenly stated almost robotically as he gained the group's attention only to reveal that he seemed to be talking to the wall in front of him. His eyes were half lidded as if he was already halfway asleep.
"Ha-ha! Here we go again." Beast Boy chuckled in his seat, giddy all over again from hearing the monotone sound of the Kryptonian's voice.
Static, on the other hand, was a little slower on the draw. "Wha-?" He was still too new to the Team to know anyone's quirks.
"Ha-ha, Encyclopedia mode." The green Animorph stated as if that was all that was needed in order to explain the situation. "Better take notes while you can." He added as Superboy continued to droll on.
"Believed to be one of the Great American Novels that lead the ideals of American Romanticism. It's fundamentally based on human obsession and how it can lead to-"
"Whoa-whoa-whoa-hey!" Virgil may not have been on the Team long enough to know about everyone's little quirks and talents, but he at least knew an opportunity when he saw one. "Wait-wait I'm not ready!" He half panicked as he searched himself while trying to keep up with what was being said about the subject. Only to find that he, naturally, didn't have the necessary supplies on him to work with so he fell back on the next best thing. Mooch off of someone else. "Dude can I borrow a pen and paper?" He hurriedly asked the Blue Beetle, hoping that the bug would take pity on a fellow student.
Said merciful insect based hero was working on his third problem when heard the request. "Sure, como no?" He quipped almost automatically as he took an extra pen and a few empty pages from his binder and passed them along behind. "Here ya go." Clearly this was commonplace for the Hispanic youth since the interruption didn't even cause him to lose his place in his reading.
"Thanks man." The African American kid got out before rushing over to his unexpected tutor before he missed any keynotes.
"The story is told from a third person's point of view by the main character Ishmael as he observed the events that ultimately lead to Captain Ahab's death and the sinking of whaling ship-"
"Ah come on, man, I can't write that fast!" Next time the electric meta-human swore he was going to bring a digital recorder from now on and he frantically tried to catch up.
"Hey how come you give him stuff when he asks?!" Bart half shouted half complained after seeing how easily Static Shock got what he wanted from the beetle.
However, being a veteran of guilt tripping, Jaime didn't falter at the attempt. "Because he actually asks me, not jump me for it." His little sister would try the same routine every single time their mother would give him treats for getting good grades on his report card.
The statement seemed of have quieted the auburn speedster until, "Can I have a cookie?" And so the shenanigans come to full circle.
"Aye Dios mio!" Jaime could only face palm himself for opening that door and walking right into it. "If I promise to bake you a batch will you leave it alone?" He really wasn't in the mood for a repeat wrestling session. If this keeps up he'll never get his work done before they make it to Oa.
The tactless question caused Beast Boy to stop laughing and double take. "You know how to bake?"
"My Mom taught me how to cook." It had been at that time that Blue realized too late his mistake at mentioning his knowledge of Home Economics.
"WHAT?!" In a blink the Latino, once again, found himself boxed into his seat by the future speedster. "You mean to tell me the whole time we've been friends you could have been making cookies every time we've hung out?!" To think that not only could he relay on his best friend to have some snacks on hand, but actually have knowledge on how to manually produce what he dubbed to be the ultimate delicacy in the history of sugary treats... "Why didn't you say so before?!" He went as far as to shake the beetle by his shoulders for good measure for keeping such a secret from him.
To which Jaime shrugged off the offending hands and broke free. "And risk becoming your personal cookie slave?" He asked rhetorically as he stubbornly went back to his extra credit homework, determine to get it done. "I don't think so." It was obvious that he was going to have to do the broken record routine, like he always does with Milagro whenever he has to tell her 'no'. It'll probably become a habit with Bart now too.
"Heeeelllloooo!" "I came back to the past to prevent human slavery, remember?!" "If anything you should be giving me cookie offerings for saving the past!"
The words were out before he even realized it. All he knew was that Jaime suddenly got very quiet and deflated a few notches. "Aye… You're right, hermano." Enough time had passed since the Reach's defeat that he had actually, if momentarily, forgotten where Bart had really come from and what his mission had been when he came to the past. Bart had traveled to the past to save humanity from the Reach, risked his life to free him from their control… Even overcame what was no doubt an ingrained fear/hatred for Reach beetles in order to befriend him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that." He even went as far as to retrieve his lunchbox from Scarab and actually offer both cookies to his friend as an apology and proof of his sincerity.
Bart may not be the best at reading certain situations in the past, but he knew that he had gone too far. He had meant it as a joke, but obviously the mere mention of human enslavement only served to remind the Hispanic of what very nearly happened during his time under the Reach's control. "Dah, I know, her-man-oh, don't fret about it." As hard as it was for him, he grinned and pushed the hand, cookies and all, down in a manner that for their true owner to keep them for himself. "I'm just pulling your wings." He quickly added with a few playful tugs on the beetle's shoulder prong, causing him to vibrate for a minute. The sensation naturally ran down his back and caused the Hispanic chuckle and push off the hand. "You can make it up to me with a baker's dozen of chocolate chips." The auburn also added as he still grinned happily with the knowledge that he got his pals mind off his slip of the tongue and a chance at getting a chocolaty reward later.
"And snickerdoodles." Beast Boy added in a mocked whisper towards the speedster.
"And snickerdoodles." The auburn youth parroted the added statement almost instantly as if he had an afterthought. It only took a few seconds for him to realize that he had no idea what it was he added to his compensation. "What's a snickerdoodle?"
"A snickerdoodle is a rich cinnamon-sugar cookie made with butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda, cream of tartar, and flour rolled in cinnamon-sugar." Connor stated almost robotically without pause at the interruption. "Texture may range from soft to crisp depending on personal-"
Virgil got as far as baking soda before he realized that the subject of the free lecture had changed. "Dah! Dude!" He exclaimed in annoyance as he began to cross out the recipe ingredients from his hastily written notes. "Why did you do that?!" He shot towards the speedster, truly annoyed with this turnabout.
Startled by the accusation the new Kid Flash practically jumped out of his seat. "W-well I didn't know he'd answer!" He honestly hadn't intended for throw Superboy off like that.
"Just ask him about the whale again." Beast Boy suggested with a giggle. Every single time this happened it was always a riot watching how everyone else reacted to it.
"Whales are the largest aquatic mammals known to man." The young Kryptonian stated in response to the word 'whale', all the while keeping his blank expression. "They often live in family groups call pods-"
"No-no-no, the white whale." Static Shock stated in an attempt at getting his research source back on track. "Tell me about the white whale again."
"The Beluga whale, or white whale, is known for its white complexion and is a member of the Monodontidae family along with Narwhals."
"Not that kind of whale!" Static shouted, which got Neo Kid Flash to flinch and Beast Boy to laugh again. By this point even Blue Beetle, himself, was laughing so hard that he had to hold himself. Wither intentional or by accident, he could always count on his hermanos to cheer him with a good laugh.
Meanwhile Khaji-Da silently observed and took note of everything that had occurred up onto this point. By and by the more subtle actions are proving to be the most effective ways of conveying emotional support among organics. It hadn't been lost on the sentient device that the ward of the Dark Knight had a strategy behind the entourage he had assembled for its host. One that Scarab found quite agreeable. The tactical advantage of a personal strike force was simply good strategy when dealing with an unknown factor and would no doubt assure extra protection for its host. It was indirect enough so as not to convey mistrust or lack of confidence towards the receiving party and provided freedom and an opportunity to experiment with a newly acquired armor feature. Their ever-deepening connection seemed to be somehow upgrading Scarab's abilities and providing it with even more effectual defensive techniques. It allowed a more advanced form of adaptation to occur depending on their environment and circumstances. Naturally, a more detailed study will have to be required before the sentient device could declare it an acceptable addition to its arsenal, but so far its proving to be very useful.
However, the blue scarab had also noticed that the selected pawns the Nightwing had assigned to them also served a secondary function for Jaime Reyes. For example, its host's thoughts were no longer on the past encounter with the Reach, the upcoming banquet no long held anxiety for him, nor did the idea of meeting Guardians weighed heavily on his mind. The presence and foolishness of the other organics was proving to have a very positive effect on all three levels of mental, physical, and emotional points and somehow assisted in strengthening Jaime's confidence. In the time they have started this journey his dopamine levels may have been increased to a near critical level that it actually caused him pain at the moment, but not severely so. A simple alter in chemical regulations was all it took to solve that little problem, but apparently there were some benefits to indulging the boy if only just this once.