"Look, my point is that you spend way too much time there. You're getting too old for hanging out with the Junior Justice League."
"On your left. I'm their leader. I understand your concern, but I am happy at the Cave. The team is thriving, and I am improving as a leader. I also seem to remember the
'Junior Justice League' assisting you against a certain"
"Thanks. I thought Robin was going to be the leader. You said that ten months ago, remember? Why not let him take over?"
"Robin has been... different, as of late. Ever since the incident with the training exercise-"
"-Yeah, about that. Why won't you tell me about that? You avoided me for weeks. What happened in there? Hold still you little-"
Bzzzt "It is none of your concern, my friend. It was a long time ago."
"Did you just fry that thing? You know I hate it when you do that. Great. Now it smells like burnt circuitry in here. Whatever. Why isn't Robin ready to be leader?"
"Do not get me wrong. He has matured greatly, and has greatly improved his communication skills. It is merely that he seems no longer willing to take... risks."
"Bullshit. I heard that he took on Harley Quinn single handedly last week. You can't tell me that's not a risk."
"I was not referring to personal ones. To your right."
"Got it. Oh. Wait, isn't that good? Behind you. I thought the safety of team was important. Duck real quick, I'll get it."
"Thank-you. Be that as it may, it is also important to trust your teammates to handle situations that may appear difficult or dangerous. Robin has proven unwilling to suggest or support courses of actions that may present a challenge to the others. Is there a fountain near here? Ah, there it is. Follow me. They are all very skilled heroes, but he treats them with less confidence in their abilities than he had when the team was first assembled."
"It's on the first floor. I've got a better vantage point from up here. You start down the escalator. I'll cover you. This is about that exercise, isn't it? Listen, can we just talk about this. It seems like every time I turn around, something's up with one of you guys because of this thing."
"I am sorry, my friend. I prefer not to speak of it. The memories are... painful."
"Will you stop that? Jesus, I don't know what's with you. You expect me to spill my guts to you about Cheshire-"
"- That is different. When I reach the fountain, fire a shock arrow into it. The electromagnetic signature should draw them to me, and I can dispatch the rest of their forces with ease. Your involvement with her has been-"
"Damaging, I know. But so was what you guys went through. C'mon. I trust you! I've told you things I've never told anyone else. Incoming. You'd think you'd trust me enough to tell me about something that happened six months ago-"
"Fine. I will tell you what happened. But only if you swear not mention this conversation to the team. They are not comfortable with others knowing of the incident, either. Now, if you excuse me-"
"Impressive. I think that's all of them. Anyway. My lips are sealed. Hey, can we move somewhere else to do this? Having a heart-to-heart in the middle of a mall filled with exploded and fried robot monkeys seems a little too weird, even for us. "
"Gladly. I will contact Batman to request clean up, and we will leave when the crew arrives."
"I can't convince you to ditch that and just go now, can I?"
"No need to pull out the Spock eyebrow. Ever since Wally introduced you to Star Trek you've been getting steadily more sarcastic every day. I don't know if it's cool, or kinda scary."
"I am certain I have no idea what you're talking about."
"All right, we're here. Now spill."
"Why is it that every time I come over to your apartment it's a complete mess?"
"Because I'm a hero, not a maid. I don't have time to clean. Stop trying to get off-topic."
"I just mean to say-" Thump "-What that really necessary?"
"Don't whine. I know it didn't hurt. Get your ass on the couch, and start talking."
Sigh. "Fine. What do you want to know first?"
"Let's start with the basics. What happened in there?"
"It was a simulation of an alien invasion."
"That's all? We have one of those on a bi-monthly basis."
"This one was different. We began in front of the monitor at the cave. We were observing the league making contact with the mother ship. The Green Lantern-"
"Hal or John?"
"John. Hal was there, but John was the one speaking. In response to John's query, the ship disintegrated him. Within minutes, the entirety of the League that was space-side, including Batman, was destroyed. It was less than an hour before the rest of the League had been defeated as well."
"Okay, so I can see where the scarring came from. The entire League-"
"Actually, that was not the part of the simulation that affected us. We were aware that the situation was not real, and that it was training. The problems did not occur until Artemis was killed in the Arctic. M'gann... She did not react well to Artemis's death. Her subconscious took hold of the simulation, and we lost sight of reality. From that point onward, all of the event seemed real."
"What happened after that?"
"We did our duty. We became Earth's heroes, and set out to stop the invaders."
"Wait. You said the whole League died, but I'm not league. Where was I?"
"We did not know. We were unable to get into contact with you. I assume you would have been staging your own counterstrike."
"You seem troubled. Does your absence bother you?"
"It's stupid... but, yeah, I'd like to think I'd be there for you."
"In truth, it bothered me as well. But we needed to act quickly to get to the Watchtower, so there was no time to beam to Star City. But I am sure that if such an event were to occur, you would be at our sides.'
"Yeah. Alright, so what happened next?"
"Our first plan of action was to get to the Watchtower, and to assemble information and a better plan there. We fought out way to the Hall of Justice, and assisted the military personnel stationed there. It was also there that we discovered J'onn buried in the rubble. "
"Wait, why was he alive?"
"He was the one running the simulation before M'gann took over. He had reentered to try and break her hold, but her subconscious overcame him. He too got lost."
"I didn't realize M'gann was that powerful."
"Few do. Her kind demeanor is often misleading to those who have not been on a mission with her. She is very... potent when enraged."
"Good to know. What happened after you found J'onn?"
"The invaders sent a second wave at the Hall, just as we had activated the zeta-tube to the Watchtower. I got everyone else in before I was disintegrated by one of the blasts."
"Wait, why didn't you get in?"
"I had taken time to make sure everyone got in before me. The team was my first priority."
'You mean J'onn just left you there? Are you kidding me?"
"No! I... I did not give him a choice. I pushed him through the tube shortly before I was disintegrated."
"He was a greater asset to the team! As a senior League member, he was more likely to-"
"Bullshit. You're their leader. They needed you more than the needed another M'gann."
"I have had this conversation before. You were not there. You do not understand the situation."
"No. Just... stop. Stop. Shut up."
"Roy, what are you-"
"I said shut up. You- You don't even get it, do you? Do you know what I really don't understand? This stupid, selfish, self-sacrificing attitude of yours. Don't talk.
"You may think that it's okay that you keep throwing yourself away like this. What? You think I haven't noticed? Just because your teammates are blind doesn't mean I am, Kaldur. You keep putting yourself in danger, for no fucking reason. What the hell is wrong with you?'
"I do not know what you are referring-"
"Do not play dumb with me, fish boy. I've seen the footage from some of your missions. I've read the reports. I know about the Doctor Fate incident, you idiot. I was there, remember?"
"That was a calculated risk that had to be taken for the sake of the mission."
"Calculated my ass! I talked to Wally. He told me that he almost didn't come out of there. He told me it was a miracle you came out! And I saw the footage from the cave when the Reds were invading. You spent the entire time shielding M'gann from the fire, and you were dying. I also know about the desert. She left you there to save Superboy, who wasn't in real danger, when you were dying. I bet you didn't even confront her on that. Every time you go into a mission, you have no regard for your own safety. What the hell are you thinking-"
"Maybe I'm thinking that it doesn't matter, Roy!"
"My only family is my mother, who would understand if I were to die for the sake of a mission. I was part of the Atlantean military, and she knows the risks that I take. My mentor is the King of Atlantis, who has an heir on the way, multiple threats do deal with, and a civilization to run. I do not share the same closeness with the team as the others do with one another.
"I am the least unique and least valuable member of the team. Superboy has the potential to be the next Superman, M'gann is possibly the most power psychic the Earth has ever seen, Barry says Wally will be faster than even him one day, Robin has been trained by Batman, is a genius, and is a natural leader, and Artemis has important contacts and inside info with the Shadows. If anyone is to die on a mission, it needs to be me."
"I am sorry. I have upset you. I will take my leave-"
"Roy, let go."
"No. I will not let go. I will never let go. Not now. Not ever. Not now that I know you're such a fucking idiot. If I let you go, you'll probably throw yourself in front of a car to save a cat on your way back to the zeta tube."
"There is no need for insults-"
"Who's giving insults? Get down here-" Yank. "- I'm just forming perfect reasonable assumption based on that absolute crap you just told me. What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you honestly think no one would care if you died?"
"No. I know my mother would care and that my king would mourn me-"
"What about your friends? I think your team would care if you were gone, you idiot! Or are you too fucking blind to-"
"-They didn't the first time!"
"Wait, what the-"
"They didn't care. I died, and when we woke up, Wally wouldn't stop looking at Artemis, M'gann and Superboy were inseparable, Robin was hugging Wally, and I just stood there. I just stood there, and no one said a damn thing to me. Every instance you've mentioned, every last fucking one, no one cared.
"You're cursing. You're actually cursing."
"And do you know what the worst part is? I don't mind. I didn't mind that everyone turned their backs on me for trying to keep the team together! I didn't mind that no one mourned when I died! I don't! Because I care about them, and I will do everything in my power to keep them safe, even if they don't return the favor. I don't care that they don't and I don't even know why."
"Roy. I'm tired just let me-"
"I said come here-"
Huff. "See," huff "- I care."
"How long? A long time," drag "- A really long time."
"Mmm-" groan, "-why?"
"Because you're you. Because you care. Because you're the strongest-"stroke "-person I've ever met. Because if there's anyone who can love a fuck-up like me, I know it's you. I've never met anyone like you, fish sticks. And I care."
"I don't know what to say..."
"How about 'me too'?"
"I was about to say, 'I don't know what to say to anything that corny coming out of your mouth', or 'Did Wally teach you how to make a love confession', but, yes. That will suffice as well."
"Come here, you sarcastic son of a-"
"Lift your arms up, I need to- yes..."
Huff. "Do you always- shift your legs, please- comfort your friends like this?"
"Only the- oh, yeah, just like that- the lonely Atlantean ones with self-worth issues."
"One could- why is it that you land dwellers insist on wearing shoes- say that you're taking advantage of me in an emotionally insecure moment."
"We can't all have Atlantean skin- And they would be right, if you had emotionally vulnerable moments. I know you have major issues, but I've only ever known you to be physically vulnerable to attack.- Speaking of which-"
"I- pant- My ap-pologies. My gills are very- pant-sensitive."
"Give me a moment to recover, and I will return the favor."
"Uh, thanks Kal, but my neck isn't that sensitive."
"I was not referring to taking care of your neck.""
"Oh. Oh. Yes, umm. That's... certainly better than what I had in mind."
"Your ability to articulate is, as ever, impressive."
"Just because I can't use five syllable words after orgasm like someone apparently can-"
"There's a reason I get to command a team."
"Hey. Smart-ass. Are you going to talk all night, or are you going to fulfill your word and put that mouth to - Oh-"
"So. You know they do care, right?"
"Roy, you are ruining the moment-"
"I know, I know. But, you need to hear this, okay?"
"... I don't have a choice in listening to you on this."
"Not unless you want to leave the couch, no. I'll be disappointed if even you can so soon after that."
"My Atlantean physique-"
"I know about your Atlantean physique. More than most now. Stop trying to get me off-topic. They do care, Kaldur. You're just too good at being the leader. They all forget you're not invulnerable. Emotionally, I mean. -Jesus, I can't believe I have to explain that people care about you when you don't know it, the fucking irony- Just, look at it this way. You always seem strong. You never told them about Tula, or about your past. You don't let them in. They just see this invincible guy who always knows what he's doing.
"I mean, why do you think Robin's okay with you being leader? You're more like Batman than he is, and no one asks Bat's if he's okay. Because out of the entire League, he's always the one who seems like he can handle it. It's not that they don't care. They just think you're stronger than they are. But you know you're not invincible. So stop acting like it."
"Kaldur? I swear, if you fell asleep-"
"...Hey. No problem."
"Me too. And you."
"... Alright. If you promise, I'll promise. We'll both stop acting like idiots."
"In the morning."
"Yeah, in the morning. 'Night."
"Hey, Roy! Have you seen Kaldur? We tried calling him on his com, and he wasn't at his house. Is he- ohmygod-"
"KF, what the hell. Do you know how long it took me to hack his door?"
"KF, calm down. What's wrong? - click- Is he in-"
"Wait, Rob, don't!"
"-... so not aster."
"Hey Kid Fail, any luck? Why are you standing in the doorway- ohmygod are they naked?"
"Artemis! Shut the door! We don't want to wake them up!"
"One second, I need to get a picture. Zatanna is going to love this-"
"Guys? Did you find him?"
"Megan, come here! You have got to see this."
"Artemis, shut up! You're going to wake them-"
"Are they naked?"
"Yes, Supey. It would appear so."
"What have you and Megan been doing all this time? Artemis, you explain."
"Hell no! There is no way I'm explaining the birds and the bees to an alien and a guy who's technically less than two years old-"
"If the five of you don't shut the door and leave right now, I will ask Batman to remove the gaming platforms from the cave."
"I forgot how annoying they are. And how scary you can be."
"I'm going to choose to take that as a complement."
"Sure. Up for some good-morning activities?"
"I suppose I can make the sacrifice."