Black Canary found out because she wasn't stupid, male, or a robot. Or secretly ten years old. And since every other “den mother” keeping tabs on the Team could put a check in at least one of those columns, it really wasn't hard to see how she did.
It wasn't like two teenage boys were subtle, or anything, anyway.
“Really boys? Trying to get caught, are we?” She wasn't going to say she enjoyed the way they scrambled when they heard her voice, and hey, she managed to get the drop on the Boy Ninja, another point for her.
“Uh.” Kid never did know when to keep his mouth shut. Aqualad was at least quiet while he obviously tried to think of something.
“What's wrong, Robin?” She asked, deeply, deeply amused by the whole situation. “Fish got your tongue?”
“Oh, come on, that was lame.” Robin protested, while Aqualad rolled his eyes in indulgent affection.
“No, what's lame is finding you two necking in a library of all places. First I find the speedster and Artemis in here, now you two?” She took a book off one of the shelves, a copy of The Sound and the Fury. “Do any of you even know what these are for?”
“Like it's not online,” Robin scoffed, crossing his arms.
“Keep it up, and believe me when I say I will take great pleasure in telling Batman about this.” Robin flinched, just like she knew he would.
“How do you know he doesn't already know?” He asked, scowling at her.
She got her communicator out.
“The threat is unnecessary.” Aqualad said, stepping in, finally, a hand on Robin's shoulder. “Please, I am sure you understand why discretion is our friend in this situation.”
“Yeah,” She said, drawing the word out. “Little tip? Wait until after you're around the corner before you let him jump you.” She nodded at Robin, who shifted guiltily.
“Like you know what 'discretion' means.” He muttered.
“What was that?” She feigned cupping her ear. “Was it 'yes Black Canary, please tell my psychotic, overprotective mentor about how I'm making out with a boy who is three years older than me behind his back'? Because it sure sounded like that from here.” Oh, this was never not going to be funny. She loved blackmail. “By the way kid, I'm actually old enough to be jumping people. So don't even try.”
“Age of consent in Rhode Island is sixteen.” He said, and she felt her own eyebrows crawl up her forehead in shock.
“Wait, are you two actually having,” Okay, less funny now. Considerably less funny now. Because now she thought she might have to have a Talk with Robin. Batman didn't exactly subscribe to Ollie's style of mentoring, which was to generally just tell Roy whatever he wanted to know. And Artemis was pretty much squared away.
And oh god, she was supposed to have been minding Batman's protege, and he'd been sneaking around, oh, she was never going to hear the end of this shit. Batman would blame everyone but Robin himself, and she was willing to lay on money on just who seduced who.
“There is no cause for concern.” Aqualad said, quietly, holding her eyes. “I allow for no irresponsibility in anything I do, Black Canary.”
“That so kills the mood.” Robin muttered. Aqualad sighed at him, and put a hand on the back of Robin's neck, a movement she could see was becoming second nature for him. This relationship was not new then, but not old either. She wasn't completely off her game.
“So,” She said. “I know you're safe, you know you're safe. So who gets to tell Batman?”
“You mean you're not?” Robin asked, perking up.
She laughed, long and loud at that.
“Seriously? Oh hell no kid, that's all on you. But please, tell me when you're going to do it, so I can watch him chew Aquaman out.” That was going to be well worth it, she thought, as she turned and left them. “And try using the library for its intended purpose, you brats,” She reminded them over her shoulder.
“So,” Wally asked, staring in the store window, “What are you doing for Valentine's Day?”
Robin was looking into the window too, and the frankly overwhelming amount of pink and glitter that was making Wally cringe.
“We're both guys. We don't do Valentine's Day.” He said, looking relieved at the thought. Lucky bastard. “What are you getting Artemis?”
“She said if I got her anything pink, heart-shaped, glittery, or anything involving fluffy animals, she'd see to it I never had sex again.” Wally said, resigned. Artemis had that look in her eyes when she'd said it, the one that meant business. “So I guess I'm getting her flowers. Not roses. She specifically said no roses.” Specifically.
“What other kind of flower is there?” Robin asked, tilting his head at the florist's shop as they walked, and the buckets of roses that practically overflowed out of it. “I mean, aren't they the standard?”
“I was thinking about maybe the big fluffy ones, with all the petals. Or sunflowers. Or orchids. Something different.” He shrugged. “I don't know. She's really not that kind of girl. M'gann's more into this kind of thing.” He scratched the back of his head, as they turned into the coffee shop. “So really, nothing?” He just couldn't believe Robin and his mysterious boyfriend were going to bypass Valentine's Day altogether.
“Yeah, it's a girl thing, Valentine's Day. We didn't even do a New Year's kiss, or anything.” That sounded okay to Wally, because New Year's required patrols like crazy, with every villain in town drunk and even dumber than usual. Actually, now that he thought about it, Artemis and him hadn't had a New Year's kiss either. She'd been busy. “Why would he care about Valentine's Day?”
“I don't know. Excuse to have sex?” That was what Valentine's Day was about in his experience, at least.
The old woman in front of them in line raised a very scandalized eyebrow at that.
“Dude, I'm sixteen, he's nineteen. We don't need excuses to have sex.” Her eyebrow rose into her hairline, which Wally had not been aware was possible.
“Must be nice.” Wally said, sighing. “Meanwhile, I've got to work for it.” If he even got a chance to work for it. Being two heroes meant that spare time was limited, and was often spent vegging in front of the television or training. It was nice to put his head in her lap during the television thing though.
“Sucks to be you.” Robin said, not sounding very sympathetic.
“God, you could pretend to care. Not all of us get to just go, 'screw girls, I'm going to go be gay'. I happen to like boobs.” The old lady in front of them was going to have a heart attack, Wally was pretty sure.
“I like boobs too.” Robin refuted, watching the same old lady with a raised eyebrow. “Just, you know, muscles are great too. It's called 'bisexual', not gay.” Whatever, Wally thought. Either way, Robin was winning, as usual.
“Hey, speaking of sex, you told You-Know-Who about your whole becoming a man now thing?”
Robin actually choked on his gum at the words, and Wally had to pat him on the back.
“Taking that as a 'no'.”
“Are you insane?” He demanded, as they reached the front of the line. “I can't tell my guardian I'm dating a guy who is three years older than me! He'll ground me until the end of time!” Wally thought that might actually be true.
“I know I would.” The barista, a mom-aged woman, said, very unhelpfully, giving Robin a very mom look. “What are you, fifteen?”
“Sixteen.” Wally told her, and Robin glared at him. “And he hasn't even told him about the 'liking boys' part. By the way, grande raspberry mocha, whole milk, extra whipped cream, and sprinkles, please.”
“What, is he going to give you a problem about it?” She asked, looking concerned. There was just something about Robin that always made people concerned about him, Wally noticed. Maybe it was the short thing.
“Nah, he's just scared because if he tells his guardian he's dating a guy, he'll know he's having sex for sure, and will lock him up until college.” Wally explained. The woman nodded, and counted out Wally's change. “He wants a venti cappuccino, wet.”
“Not going to lie kid, if I knew my sixteen-year-old son was sneaking off with a nineteen-year-old guy, I'd ground him too. Maybe until after he graduates college.” Even Wally had to admit that wasn't encouraging.
Robin paid and sulked.
“Dude, doing that makes you look twelve.” Because it did.
“Shut up, Wally.”
“I mean, it's not like he's a bad guy, or anything. We shouldn't have to sneak around. We're not doing anything wrong!” Robin must really be frustated at this point, Wally thought. His gesticulations were wild, in the way they got when he was good and mad and ranty. “He's not 'taking advantage', whatever that means.” He put finger quotes around the phrase. “I mean, can you see Kaldur taking advantage of anyone?”
There was silence, as Wally processed.
Then he raised an eyebrow.
“Urgh.” Robin took a drink of his coffee.
“Shut up, Wally.”
“I will never forgive you.” Roy said, his head down on the table.
“I have asked you countless times to please knock before entering my bedroom,”
Of course, this was what he'd been trying to prevent by the request.
“I do not see how this is my fault.” Kaldur said again, unmoved by his friend's supposed agonies and need of 'brain bleach', whatever that meant. “I asked you to make your presence known, you did not, and you unfortunately saw something you are obviously uncomfortable with.”
“What I saw would make anyone uncomfortable!” He said, glaring at Kaldur. “There's these things Kaldur, called locks. We put them on doors, and we turn them before we let some smart-mouthed kid start molesting us.” He put his head back on the table with a thump. “Seriously, I could have gone my whole life without seeing that.”
“Then you should have knocked.” Kaldur reminded him, calm, despite his inner aggravation with his friend. Perhaps it showed a character defect, but he did not think anyone would take kindly to being interrupted pre-coitus.
“Well forgive me for not knowing you were screwing Bird-Boy,” Roy growled into the table. “My eyes, it's like it's burned into my retinas.”
“It is not as though you saw anything in particular.” Roy was being dramatic, he thought, as he was prone to be. It had probably been very obvious what they were about to do, with Robin sitting on Kaldur's desk, legs around his waist, Kaldur's shirt already off. He could be doing it right now, he thought, with a none-too-pleased air, except Roy had decided to walk in just as Robin had been undoing the ties of Kaldur's track pants.
“Believe me, I saw enough.”
Kaldur wondered if it was jealousy that was burning through his veins right now. He certainly did not like the idea of anyone seeing Robin like that, except him, and Roy had seen Robin's head tipped back as Kaldur kissed his throat, seen his eyes shut from it as he gasped, trying to get the ties undone so they could get on with it.
“No, see, my real question is why. Why are you screwing him?” Roy demanded. “I mean, he's a kid. He's mouthy. He cackles like a hyena. He still plants firecrackers in my quiver, for God's sake.”
“Robin has other facets to his personality.” Kaldur said, not liking the idea of explaining himself, or his choices, not even to Roy, who was arguably his best friend on the surface. “And I enjoy his company.”
“Yeah, I saw that.” Roy said, glaring at him. “Does Batman know?”
Kaldur shifted guiltily. He did not much like that particular aspect of their relationship, the secrecy of it all. He got the impression Robin was genuinely afraid to tell his mentor though, so for now, Kaldur would not push him into anything.
His silence had answered Roy's question.
“Kal.” He said, in the tone one uses to speak to a child. “When the Bat finds out you're fucking his protege over a desk, you're dead.”
“So I have been told.” Kaldur said, with a shrug. He himself thought that the assessment was perhaps an exaggeration of Batman's protectiveness over his proteges, and an even more exaggerated idea of Batman's proficiency.
“You're suicidal, just so you know.” Roy said, rolling his eyes. “I hope the sex is really, really good, because it needs to be for this to be worth it.”
Kaldur wanted to tell him that it was not just the sex. It was Robin doing his homework in Kaldur's room, while Kaldur listened to him rant about advanced calculus, or the apparent dreariness of a poet named Poe. It was Robin, curled up beside him on the bed as they exchanged stories of the most reckless things they had done when they were younger, seeing who could top who. It was Robin's easy wordplay, his excitability, his quick observations and assessments, his dedication to training, the way he made Kaldur laugh.
It was Robin, watching Kaldur perform silly magical tricks with water, sea turtles swimming, a ballerina twirling, an acrobat twisting, all with a look of awe on his face. It was being able to give him that happy sense of wonder, feeling his own heart swell at Robin's joy.
“Well,” Robin had appeared, wearing one of Kaldur's shirts again. “I'm really, really flexible.” He grinned wickedly. “If that helps.”
For a moment, Roy stared at him, mouth gaping, then buried his head in his arms on the table.
“Hate. You.” Came the mumbled declaration.
Kaldur sighed at him, but Robin just grinned at Kaldur too, the wickedness unabated as he wound his arms around Kaldur's neck.
“Hey, if you benefit from it, why do you care if it scars him for life?” He asked, but the tone he used was low, and inappropriate for public places with witnesses. “You could be benefiting from it right now, actually.”
“Hate you both,” Roy declared.
Artemis knew because she had eyes, thank-you-very-much.
However, considering one was trained by Batman, and the other had been a soldier at twelve, she was really a little disappointed in their complete lack of subtlety.
That said, even then, she was only suspicious.
Up until one night, she'd wandered into the kitchen, looking for a glass of milk, and found Kaldur back from his two-week long mission. It had been a rigorous one. Up in the Arctic.
She was pretty sure if he was well enough to have Ninja-Boy shoved up against the fridge like that, it had gone well.
So she'd wandered back to bed.
Then she'd punched Wally in the arm.
“Ow!” He'd whined, snapping awake.
“That's for not telling me about Robin and Kaldur.” She'd said, and snuggled back down into the covers.
“Why do you think I know?”
She'd opened her eyes to glare at him, daring him to lie to her face. His face had crumpled in defeat.
“Pretty sure they were about to have sex against the fridge.” She'd said, just to be vicious, and had curled up around her pillow feeling much better. Pain shared was pain halved, after all.
“You're so mean.” He'd hissed, but he'd still cuddled up to her, so she'd figured it was the kind of mean he was used to. “My fridge,”
“You have another one at the apartment.”
“But this was the one I didn't have to pay for!”
“Go back to sleep.”
M'gann was minding her own business, making cookies, or rather, attempting to (if she could just get this timing thing right), when Robin wandered in, hair ruffled and wearing a shirt that was too big for him. He'd been doing that a lot lately. She hoped he wasn't losing weight.
“Cookies?” She asked, and this time, she did as Canary had instructed, and took the cookies out right before they looked done.
“Uh-huh.” He answered, looking around in a sleepy, yet determined way, until he managed to focus on the coffeemaker. “M'gann. Please. Help me.”
“Robin, I'm beginning to worry over the amount of caffeine you consume.” She said. “The television said-”
“M'gann. Not. Now.” He said, slumping over onto the table. With a sigh, she got him a cup and put it in front of him. “Thank you.”
She took the cookies off the pan, onto the cooling rack, like she'd been told, and to her delight, they seemed perfect this time. She'd finally done it right!
“Cookie?” She offered again, putting one on a napkin. He took it with a sniff, and let it cool beside him, while she waited eagerly for him to try it. He was more concerned with his coffee mug though, and the liquid within. She didn't quite understand humans and caffeine. All she knew was that Artemis and Robin got awfully cranky if they didn't get it, and they never seemed to want to hear what she, or rather, the television, had to say on the matter.
“Good cookie.” He offered, after he'd eaten half of it, head still on the table.
“Robin,” She said, hands on her hips, “You're normally a little more awake after the first cup. Were you up late?”
She totally didn't mean to do it. Really, she didn't. The only reason it happened was because she was so open and pleased, and Robin was so tired he was still projecting.
But suddenly, she was seeing the world from someone else's point of view, Robin's, and Kaldur was there, and, um. Well then.
She was well aware she was cherry red under her green skin as she looked everywhere but at Robin, but really, that was so much more than she ever wanted to see, of any of her teammates.
“Did what I think happen just happen?” He asked groggily, cracking open an eye.
“Yes.” She said, with a tight nod. “Oh god, I'm so, so sorry, really, I didn't mean to, oh god,”
“What'd you see?”
She couldn't say it. She couldn't.
“Oh.” He said. “Uh. I can explain.”
“None needed.” She squeaked, and turned back to her cookies.
They were quiet for a minute. Well, about fifteen, as Robin downed another cup of coffee and slowly joined the world of the conscious and coherent.
“You can't tell anyone.” He said, and he was serious. She turned, and frowned, crossing her arms over her stomach.
“What about Conner?” She asked.
“Oh god, don't tell him!” Robin said, adjusting his sunglasses. “M'gann, I know he's your boyfriend and everything, but he's got a big mouth.” She frowned at him, thinking it was unfair, because she didn't think Conner meant to reveal things. He was just never clear about what was Team-private, and what was League-public. “Seriously, he'd let it slip to Supergirl or something, and she'd tell Superman, and then Batman would find out!”
“So we're hiding this from Batman?” She asked, and he nodded. “Oh. I see.” It seemed dishonest. She wasn't sure she liked that. “So, does anyone on the Team know?” She hoped she wasn't the last to know. She hated feeling left out.
“Black Canary, Kid Flash.” He said, and then shrugged. “Kid Flash probably let it slip to Artemis at some point, and if not, I think she's got a pretty good idea. Oh, and Red Arrow. But no one else. Except you.”
“Oh, I guess Kaldur told Red Arrow?” She asked, because that made sense. They were close, the two of them.
Robin looked uncomfortable.
“You could say that.” He said. “Or you could say he walked in on us.”
“Walked in on- oh!” She clapped her hands over her mouth as a giggle bubbled up in her throat. “Poor Red Arrow! That must have been interesting.”
“Yeah, it's interesting when I don't get laid because Red Arrow is traumatized.” He said, tapping his fingers on the table. “Really interesting.”
M'gann had nothing to say to that.
“Do you want another cookie?” She offered.
Conner had x-ray vision that flickered at the weirdest times.
He just figured it wasn't any of his business.
Alfred assessed the evidence, with a quiet kind of acceptance. It wasn't surprising, if he was honest. It was just still rather hard for him to accept that the boy was growing up.
The strip of condoms, half-used, were certainly evidence enough.
The letters were a better piece. Alfred had only managed to read through the first one half of the way before he'd refolded it, but not before first checking the name signed on the end. They weren't explicit, so to speak, nothing to make a man blush, or make a man worry. They were, without a doubt, love letters though, sent from various locations all around the world. More romantic than a text, to Alfred's old mind, and obviously to Dick's too, the way they had been wrapped together and hidden in a drawer under old report cards.
Alfred had only been looking for this semester's. Dick had a bad habit of hiding them. He had never intended to snoop like this.
He waited until Dick returned home from school, throwing his backpack on the scrubbed kitchen table of the servants' kitchen, chattering about some girl in his chemistry class who had almost poisoned the class by accident.
Then he saw the letters, sitting in a neat stack on the stable, still wrapped.
He froze, and turned to Alfred, choosing defensive as his reaction.
“You had no right to go through my desk!” He said.
“Maybe if you simply gave me your report cards, this wouldn't be a problem.” Alfred replied, unmoved. “I did not read them. I saw no need. But where shall we start with the explanation for all of this?”
“How about we start with where I'm sixteen and legally able to consent.” He grumbled, his hands shoved deep in the front pocket of a hoodie Alfred was positive did not belong to him. He bought the boy clothes that fit, and this one was far too big in the shoulder, and too long.
“How about we start with how you've been dating and failed to inform me.” Alfred said. It was not the dating that bothered Alfred per say, so much as it was Dick lying and keeping secrets. They had always been close, and Alfred could not hide the way it stung.
Dick shifted guiltily, and Alfred knew he had found an in. The boy was not defiant by nature when it came to him, and he certainly didn't want to impact his chances of being fed in the near future.
“Now, I will give you leeway on the age.” Alfred said. He had already thought about this, had let logic override over-protectiveness. He couldn't stop the boy from having sex, and to even try was folly. It was better that he knew where he was, and who he was with. “You are sixteen, and as you said, you are old enough to consent to a relationship with him.” He put the kettle on, and took out a loaf of bread and last night's roast beef, to make sandwiches. “Are you hungry?”
“Yeah.” Dick said, because he was perpetually hungry.
“What I am disappointed with,” Alfred continued, slicing the beef, “Is that you chose to lie and sneak around behind my back. I had thought you knew better, and more than that, I thought you trusted me with things like this.”
He put the sandwiches in front of Dick, along with a cup of tea, and the boy took one.
“I didn't want him to know.” Robin said, without needing to elaborate on who exactly he meant. “And I knew you'd tell him. You know how he is.”
“Hm.” Alfred said, stirring in a cube of sugar. “Perhaps that was not an unfounded fear.”
“He's going to make me break up with him.” Dick said, and Alfred couldn't bring himself to disagree.
“Master Bruce does have a tendency to overreact in these situations.” Alfred said, with a sigh. “Still, keeping this a secret was an extremely immature thing to do.”
“Well, it's not exactly a secret. Completely.” Robin cringed as Alfred glared, waiting for an explanation.
“Who else knows?”
“Aquaman.” Dick confessed.
“Does he now?” Alfred asked, feeling a bit betrayed at the admission.
“He had to tell him!” Robin insisted, putting down the sandwich. “Aquaman is his king, he has to tell him about any relationships he has with surface dwellers. It's not like he wanted to tell him that 'oh, hey, screwing Batman's protege, hope that doesn't make League meetings awkward or anything'. Not saying Aquaman doesn't like knowing something Batman doesn't, because he does, but it wasn't like I wanted to hide it from you.” No, he couldn't see Dick ever being afraid to tell him something. He would never have any reason to fear losing Alfred's love and trust.
“You were hiding this from Master Bruce alone, then.” Alfred said, and Dick nodded.
“You know how he is about relationships, friendships. Everything is a risk, no one can ever know anything about you, no one can ever be close to you. And I see his point. I'm not stupid. But other people in the League have families, lives. Kaldur, he's not some civilian. He can take care of himself. More than that, he can, you know,” He shifted, and blushed.
“He can take care of you.” Alfred finished, quietly. “When you need it.”
Alfred remembered too well the nightmares the boy had when he was younger, the awful dreams that had Alfred making him hot chocolate at three in the morning in an attempt to calm him down. He had no doubt that the dreams hadn't stopped. That Dick still needed someone to hold him at night.
“He's good for me.” Dick said, and Alfred had no doubt to how true that was. “It's not like he talked me into anything.”
“I don't doubt that. I've always found him to be respectful, and I'm sure that if anyone is the bad influence, it's you.” He smiled at Dick over his tea, and lets the boy feel his forgiveness in it. Dick had always been his favorite, and the boy knew that, exploited it often.
“How do you think he's going to take it?”
“I suppose we'll find out when he finds out.” He didn't have to look up to know the boy was smiling.
“He found my letters?” Kaldur asked, a little embarrassed that anyone else had read them. They were silly things, written more on a whim in response to a comment from Robin about how no one wrote letters anymore. The romantic aspect of them had not been planned.
“Yeah, well, I had them in my room.” Robin said, turning red. “I like to read them.”
They were lying on Robin's bed, Robin on his stomach, Kaldur beside him on his back. Kaldur had to smile at Robin's reluctant admission, and he kissed the back of his neck, at the top of his spine.
“So, he will not tell Batman?” Kaldur asked, and Robin shook his head. Kaldur sighed, and ran his fingers down Robin's spine. He loved to do it, loved feeling the individual vertebrate rising and falling with every breath. “I am not sure that is in fact a good thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that perhaps it is time this stopped being a secret.” He said, still trailing his fingers up and down the bones of Robin's back, dipping in and out with the ridges. He didn't know how to explain it, exactly, not without sounding aggressive, but he thought it was time to try.
“I like it that way.” Robin joked, but it fell flat between them.
“I do not.” Kaldur said, and Robin frowned as he looked up at him.
“I told you, we can't.” Robin said, sitting up on his elbows. “If Batman finds out,”
“I am starting to wonder how much of that is truth, and how much of that is an excuse.” Kaldur sat up, frowning, and rubbed his temple, feeling the beginnings of a headache. “Robin, I am growing tired of this game, this hiding. It is dishonest, and more than that,” He was unsure if it was prudent to voice what he felt next, not sure if he even wanted to know the answer. “I am beginning to feel that this is how you want things to stay.”
“Kaldur,” Robin said, in that disappointed way.
“Are you ashamed of this?” It was a thought that worried at him now, every time Robin looked both ways before they kissed, every time he kept his distance from Kaldur in front of others.
“What?” Robin asked, with a half-laugh. He reached for Kaldur with a smile, but Kaldur held him off with one hand.
“I am not completely ignorant of the surface, Robin. I have been informed that relationships of our nature are frowned upon.” It had been Roy who told him that discretion would be necessary even if they were public, that even with Kaldur's strength and Robin's skill, they would find trouble. “I was of course, already aware that there are issues with my being Atlantean.” He wished now that it was the only issue.
“None of that has anything to do with this!” He protested, blue eyes wide and insistent as he sat up. “None of that is important to me, none of it.”
“Then what is it?” He asked.
“Batman isn't just my mentor.” Robin said, and then pulled his knees to his chest. He was always more comfortable in an odd position, his acrobatic bones and muscles wanting to twist and turn. “He's my legal guardian.”
Kaldur had nothing to say for a moment, as he processed that. He had always suspected that Batman and Robin's relationship was perhaps more similar to Green Arrow and Roy's than Kaldur's with his King, but he had not thought of the extent. It made things complicated, and suddenly, Kaldur saw just how torn Robin had to have been these past few months.
“You are not joking about him grounding you.” Kaldur said, and Robin shook his head. “Forgive me for my accusations then. They were only my own insecurities.” His own ridiculous worries, when he knew Robin so well, knew he would never deliberately hurt someone in such a way.
“You mean a lot to me.” Robin said, looking at his knees. “Like, a lot. The only reason I don't want him to know is because I want to keep you. Batman, he's really...” Robin shrugged. “He doesn't like this kind of thing. At all.”
“I am aware. Even among the League, Batman is a loner.” He sighed, and put his head down in Robin's lap. Robin started to rub his head, gentle fingers on his temple, and Kaldur closed his eyes in relief. “This is very complicated.”
“I told you so.” Robin said, and Kaldur made an agreeable sort of noise, a mix between a laugh and a sigh. “I'll find a way to tell him.” He promised.
Kaldur wasn't sure Robin could keep that promise.
In the end, Batman found out, of course, but it was through the least impressive way possible.
He found out because the whole League was there, trying to sort through the pieces of the Hall of Justice, and Robin was trying to make his ears stop ringing. The explosion had destroyed half the Hall, and he'd had the dumb luck to have been close enough to walk away with no injuries and enough dust in his sinuses to re-layer the Mojave.
“Ow,” He said, again, banging the other side of his head.
“Robin!” He snapped to attention, looking for Kaldur. He hadn't been in the Hall, so the Team had to have arrived at last to help.
He stood, waving to get his attention, and Kaldur dashed towards him, sliding down a pile of rubble, before he grabbed him, pulling him close and kissing him. It was the kind of desperate kiss one seeks for reassurance, not the kind that led to fun things, but right now, it was the kind Robin needed.
He threw his arms around Kaldur's neck and kissed him back, then buried his head in Kaldur's shoulder as Kaldur lifted him right off his feet in an embrace that made his ribs creak.
“Still just human,” He muttered, and the hold loosened, but his toes still weren't touching ground. He didn't much mind, honestly.
“I thought,” Kaldur choked, and Robin felt his lips press to his neck. “I thought I had lost you.”
“No, I'm okay.” He said, clinging to him. “I'm okay, we're all okay.”
“I am ashamed, but you are the only one I was thinking of,” Kaldur said, and Robin had to kiss him again, because that was really romantic, despite the fact that he really, really wanted a shower and a toothbrush.
“Don't let me interrupt.”
They both froze, and Robin broke the kiss with a groan, as Kaldur put him down.
“He's right behind me, isn't he?” He asked.
“No. He is in fact beside us.”
“Thank you.” He hooked his fingers in Kaldur's belt, because Kaldur was way too tall for him to keep his arms around his neck and his feet flat at the same time. “Can I please just have a minute?” He asked, raising his voice for Batman.
“Yes. You can use it to start explaining.”
“Kaldur,” He whined, because he was tired and sore, and he wanted a shower and for Kaldur to take him to bed and wrap him up.
“Perhaps this is not the time for this.” Kaldur said, because he knew that whine. “There will be time for explanations later.” Robin was pretty sure Batman was willing to make some time right now.
“Kaldur!” Saved by the speedster. “Dude, hate to interrupt the moment, but we need you.” He turned to Batman, “Uh. Hi Batman.”
“Stay here.” Kaldur said to Robin, cupping his face. “You need to be seen by someone before you try any heroics.”
“I'm okay.” Robin said, but Kaldur just looked at him. “Fine.” He said, but if Kaldur wanted to treat him like a invalid now, he was going to have to later too.
Kaldur smiled, and kissed him again, right in front of Batman, then was gone with Kid Flash, leaving Robin all by his lonesome.
“He's right, fortunately for you. This isn't the time.” He grabbed Robin by the chin and gave him a once-over. “He's right about you being checked up on too. How are your ears?”
“Ringing,” He said, and Batman sighed.
“Go, now. We'll talk later.”
Robin didn't doubt that, as one of the EMTs gave him a check-up, and something for his sinuses. He rode back to the Mountain with M'gann, Artemis, and KF, coughing and hacking up dirt the whole way.
Back at the base, he spent about two hours in the shower, scrubbing off the dirt of the day, the excessive, excessive amount of dirt, until his skin was rubbed pink in places from scrubbing. He brushed his teeth three times, flossed, and used half a bottle of mouthwash, until he couldn't taste dirt. When he finally went to his room and flopped on the bed, it only lacked one thing to make it perfection.
Three hours later, he was woken by the missing element, as Kaldur crept in.
“About time.” He muttered, and gave way easily when Kaldur pushed him over on the bed. “You see Batman?”
“No, he was otherwise occupied.” Kaldur said, and his bare chest came up against Robin as he slid in beside him, smelling like soap. “I suspect my King decided to run interference for me, for which I am thankful.”
“King of the Seas, king of my heart,” Robin said, sniffing loudly, his sinuses feeling raw from whatever it was the EMT had given him.
“I bleed with jealousy.” Kaldur replied, wrapping his arms around Robin. “I am exhausted.”
“Mm.” Robin agreed. “This might get really bad, for the next few days.”
“I know.” Kaldur said, his hand running up and down Robin's spine in a soothing motion. “But I am not afraid of Batman.”
“Seriously?” Robin asked, in disbelief.
“Did I ever tell you the story of how one completes their training for the Atlantean military?”
“No?” Robin said, confused as to what one had to do with the other.
“We get thrown into a pit with a tiger shark.” He said, casually.
“I am not afraid of Batman.” Kaldur stated again.