Warnings: Spoilers for Young Justice: Invasion, Doctor Who; Survivor Guilt, Time War Angst, crossover
Characters: Dick Grayson, Wally West, Bruce Wayne, Rick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, M'gann Morzz, Connor Kent
Summary: Some birds are known to camouflage themselves among the young of another species. Time Lords are very similar in this respect, as Robin learns.
Ao3 | FF.net
Snow is falling and Robin is humming as he skips ahead, twirling absently as he goes. His face is bright with mischief and he almost seems to glide across the slick ground effortlessly. Even in his tattered bodysuit and borrowed sweater, he seems immune to the chill New England air.
Stephanie, lamentably, has no such luck. She huffs irritably and hunkers down further into her favorite purple winter coat, plodding steadily along and trying not to slip on the pavement in the process.
“You don’t have to follow me, you know,” he calls back to her.
She frowns at him. “Of course I do! How are you supposed to get home safe, stupid? All your stuff’s probably at the bottom of the harbor!”
Robin gives her a strange, long, evaluating look, and then shrugs, smiling. “I’ve got my ways.”
“What are you going to do? Call Batman?” Stephanie asks. “In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not like you can just ring some Bat signal and he’ll show up. You’ve got to do something bad before he comes around.”
He just laughs, as if she’s said something funny, and it’s nothing like the high pitched, terrifying cackle her father describes: it’s warm and honest. Then, he looks at her and very, very seriously, says: “Well, then, Miss Brown, we’ll just have to do something, won’t we?”
She stares at him. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Maybe,” he replies, hopping up onto a cement divider. He walks down its length effortlessly, as if he has no fear of losing his balance. Then, looking over his shoulder, he adds, “Maybe not.”
Stephanie puffs up her cheeks in irritation. Some superhero he is, she thinks to herself: he behaves more like a kid!
“He’ll be looking for me,” Robin states, rather abruptly. He stands on the edge of the divider and there is a strange moodiness to his presence, as if for a moment he were someone else, someone much older. “But he won’t know it’s me he’s looking for.”
That had to be the single weirdest thing he’d said all night, in Stephanie’s humble opinion. It didn’t even make any sense. But, she notes, it’s not like there’s ever been a lot about this Robin that makes sense and he doesn’t seem to be particularly keen on explaining himself anytime soon, even if he had promised he’d explain later.
Later is, evidently, not any time in the foreseeable future.
“Is this a secret identity thing?” Stephanie asks.
Robin cocks his head to the side, as if considering, and then smiles, clearly amused. “It’s close enough.”
“So, does this mean you have to erase my mind or something – you know, since I’ve seen your face and all,” she wonders aloud.
He leaps down, his feet making a heavy whump in the snow. “Nah. I don’t even have a secret identity anymore.”
Stephanie narrows her eyes in confusion.
“Well, I did, but,” he pauses, gesturing to his face, and adds, “As you can see, I’m different now.”
She just stares at him for a moment: “You are so weird.”
“Weird is subjective,” Robin says, leading them down a side street that spills into another part of town.
It looks familiar, ugly and threatening even under a layer of fresh snow, and all of a sudden she knows exactly where they are. Stephanie shudders and resists the urge to grab him and pull him back. This part of town is even worse than where she lives and she lives in a pretty bad part of town.
“It’s ok,” Robin says, looking at her with those green, green eyes. “I can manage on my own from here.”
Stephanie wants to turn around and go, but her feet refuse to move. What kind of person would she be if she just left him here?
“He comes here a lot,” Robin comments distantly, as if trying to explain without telling her anything important. “It’ll be easier to find him and get his attention here.”
It’s March and its freezing and he wants her to leave him alone in Crime Alley to look for Batman.
“You are so stupid,” she hisses, jabbing a mitten-covered finger at his chest. “You’re going to get yourself killed!”
At that, Robin smiles and there’s something very sad and strange about it. For a moment, she almost thinks he pities her a little. Then, it’s gone, and so is he, gracefully moving with a silence and speed that are honestly a little bit terrifying.
“Wait!” she calls out, running after him, but he is so much faster. She is struggling to keep him in sight and the snow is falling faster and faster. Her fingers and toes are numb with cold and then he’s gone completely, melted into the wash of white.
Stephanie’s boot catches the ice below the snow and she slips, plunging headfirst.
She never hits.
Robin is there, smiling down at her with that strange smile. The snow sticks to his hair and the oversized sweater in slashes of white as he pulls her back to her feet. “Come on,” he says, conspiratorially. “I need a hand.”
Stephanie doesn’t know what he’s up to and isn’t sure she wants to be part of it, but she lets him lead her down another side street and nearly freezes when she sees what he’s found.
It’s the Batmobile.
It squats in the alley, dark and sleek as black ice under the cover of snow, and equally as dangerous. It also looks rather unoccupied. Stephanie’s eyes automatically go to the rooftops in search of its owner, but she sees nothing and the snow clings heavily to her eyelashes.
“I don’t have the keys,” Robin says and pulls something from under his sweater. It looks an awful lot like her dad’s tire iron and the expression on his face only confirms her suspicion.
“What are you going to do?” she asks.
Robin grins and this time, it is pure mischief. “Why, something bad, of course.”
Stephanie sighs and resigns herself to her fate.
Batman is probably going to kill them both.