The first time it happened, Kaldur paid it no mind. It was probably just a trick of the light, streaming in from the television; Wally and Robin always insisted on having the room dark for their video games. Robin crowed excitedly as his on screen person—oh yes, avatar —knocked Wally's out of the ring, a computerized voice declaring the small boy the winner. Kaldur shook his head, a slow smile playing across his lips, before he picked up his book and retreated to his room.
The next time it happened, Kaldur couldn't bring himself to write it off. There was a gentle glow to Robin's skin, soft and barely visible, but there nonetheless. Batman had his hand on the boy's shoulder, and from Kaldur's position, he was certain only he can see the slight quirk of that strong somber mouth. Robin was grinning up at him, completely unabashed. And if he could see past the white lenses of Robin's domino, Kaldur was sure that his eyes were glowing as well—probably brighter.
He doesn't know if he should mention it. Of all the strange, peculiar things he's come across here on the surface, he's never seen anything like this. He glanced around at the rest of the Team, as they assisted their mentors and the police in rounding up the last of the criminals. Everything had gone smoothly and that strange slight glow surrounding Robin had only appeared when Batman arrived to survey the scene. It appeared harmless. And if Batman did not see it as a threat, then neither did Kaldur.
There was something weird going on with Robin, and not the hormonal weird—of course that was there too, if the slight pink to his face when Wally slung his arms around his shoulders was anything to say about it. But Artemis was convinced. No boy—or non meta for that matter—positively shined when a certain someone was in the room inhaling all the food in his refrigerator. The League had sprung for a new one just for Wally, once he started to shoot up— thank god ! And shoot up he did. If Artemis wasn't so sure that Kid Mouth was as enamored with Robin as Robin was with him, she wouldn't have minded letting her eyes wander up and down that lean speedster body. All that running did good things to that ass.
He was shining again.
And she didn't mean the whole body-straightens-face-lights-up-shebang. It was actually shining—big white glow and everything.
Mostly his face.
She cocked her head to the side, actively ignoring Wally as he proceeded to ransack the poor pantry. At sixteen, Robin was a looker, granted he was already kind of a looker at thirteen: dark, ebony hair, smooth pale skin that looked even better—she to admit, even if it was weird—with that Wally-induced glow.
She sighed. All the good ones were taken.
Conner frowned, bringing his hands to his ears. Robin and Wally were fighting again. And this time, Conner didn't want to know what it was about. Sometimes he thinks they forget he has super hearing.
"I didn't need your help."
"Didn't need my help? You had a gun pressed to the side of your head! You were strapped to a chair! What if I hadn't gotten to you in time! What if—"
"I've been doing this much longer than you, Wally. I've been trained to get out of those situations! By Batman himself! Or have you forgotten?"
"That doesn't matter! You could have DIED! You don't have any powers! You—"
There was a resounding slam that magnified in Conner's super-sensitive ears. He winced, turning back to his motorcycle as Robin's furious footsteps grew closer to the hanger. He was grumbling viciously under his breath, fists clenched tight. Risking a glance, Conner peered up at his small figure far on the other side of the hanger, and promptly frowned.
That soft soothing light that seemed to accompany Robin where ever he went nowadays was retreating back into him. He was dimming, Conner realized. The white shimmer to his person that Conner had grown so fond off was dissipating, darkening and disappearing.
Robin slinked down the wall to rest his head on his knees. His shoulders quivered slightly, "What are you doing?"
Conner blinked, temporarily stunned. He'd forgotten, Robin was a Bat, and Bats didn't need super hearing, or speed or super anything for that matter. "Working," he replied, and after a thought, "Wanna help?"
Robin's sunglasses glinted slowly in the artificial light and Conner was suddenly struck with the notion that Robin didn't belong here, under all the harsh man-made lights of the hanger, the Cave or even the city. He needed something softer, smoother, fluid—natural.
M'gann was worried. She tried hard not to intrude on everyone's privacy and enter their minds without permission, but those few times she was able to touch upon Robin's mind when everyone was connected through her mind link, were starting to scare her.
Robin's thoughts were usually neat and organized, like a hallway of doors. He let her wander down the hall, but only through open doors. If he didn't give her a key, then she was not allowed in.
But now, that hallway was twisting and jerking, like a runaway train—like it needed to get up and leave. The space in his mind was expanding. Sometimes the ceiling would rear up suddenly, or the left wall, or the right wall, or the floor would dip and twist. She was getting the vague feeling that his head couldn't hold his mind anymore.
It was spilling out into the rest of him as well. He was constantly on the move. His fingers twitched absently, his foot would tap to some sporadic beat. He was always in the gym too. There was never a day where she wouldn't find him on the bars, or on the rings, or on the mat practicing his tumbles. Sometimes M'gann got the feeling that if she went and tried to stop him, he'd explode.
It seemed to quell a bit, when Wally was close by. The gentle flutter of his heart unconsciously soothed his body in warm delicate waves. He smiled more, the jerkiness of his limbs when he was sedentary smoothed themselves out and he just seemed to melt into Wally's side.
But the churning in his mind never ceased. It was growing. She could tell. She needed to do something. She needed to talk to Uncle J'onn.
At exactly two hours and fifteen minutes past noon, Wally's heart stopped.
They'd been ambushed. Three cloaked women had suddenly appeared before them, shrieking and raising their arms at them. The ground shook and quaked under their feet and Wally was thrown back against the wall. The building's framework groaned and creaked around him, before coming to life and snaking around his arms and legs.
He thrashed violently as did the others, but the three women—hags, definitely hags—just laughed at them, spraying spit and chunks of something else Wally didn't want to know at them.
One approached Robin, who was glaring fiercely up at them. She smoothed his hair and petted his cheek, leaving a trail of flesh—oh god, that was rotting flesh dangling off them—across his face. Her cohorts cooed and clamored to his left and right.
"We've found him," one of them rasped, her cracked lips smacking and slurping together as she felt up his body.
"His glamours are worn," another exclaimed.
"Quickly," the tallest began, "bring me the knife!"
Wally roared, struggling harder against his bonds. He needed to get to Robin. He needed to—
He dropped to the ground, the cement cool against his face. His eyes widened, and his hands shook. Spinning around he found himself staring at pile of twisted steel beams. He was free, but how?
Then it hit him. He'd vibrated through. Quickly, he pressed his fingers to his nose. No blood. He'd done it! He'd—now was not the time! He had to save Robin.
They were still crowded around Robin, one flicked her tongue out to taste him, another was greedily ripping open his shirt and the last, was staring at him hungrily as she sharpened her glass blade. Wally sprang into action, zipping up behind the one with the oral fixation to throw her aside. She shrieked, an ear piercing sound that echoed across the steel around them. The Team cried out, and Wally crumpled to the ground.
The hag he had knocked aside rose up again, she flicked her fingers in his direction and suddenly he shot backwards. Telekinesis he assumed. They were up against old telekinetic cannibals, who had a thing for teenage boys. He moved to get up again, when a roar sounded ahead. It was Conner, free from his binds. The other two turned to look at him. The one with the knife nodded to the other. She grinned, raising two hands into the air.
Suddenly it was hard to breathe. Gravity crashed down upon them, pressing Conner and Wally flat against the ground. It was getting harder and harder to keep his eyes open, but Wally forced them. He focused on Robin's frantic face, one blue eye glittering worriedly, his domino torn in half.
He tried to stretch a hand out in his direction, but nothing would move. And then everything went slow. It was weird the things he noticed then, as Robin's face smoothed out, his eyes sliding shut, that quirky smile spreading across his lips. There was a clock lying by Robin's right foot—probably from the office building the crazy cannibals destroyed to keep Robin where they wanted him. It was still working. It flashed at him in bright red numbers: 2:15.
Two fifteen. Two hours and fifteen minutes past noon. Two hours and fifteen minutes past noon, Robin exploded.
There was a blinding white light that washed over them. There was no warning, no sound, no nothing. Everything was quiet and then dark.
When Wally came to, that stupid clock was flashing 2:43, and a hand softly shook his shoulder. He looked up and to see the Flash checking him for injuries with his eyes.
"You ok, kid?" He asked, helping Wally on his feet.
Wally nodded absentmindedly, pushing past his uncle to stare at the spot where Robin was just twenty-eight minutes ago. He dropped back to his knees. Three black scorches marked the ground, where the cannibals had been, but there was no Robin. Instead there was Batman, on his knees in the midst of a rainbow colored cloud, his head bent to look at something hovering in the space between his hands.
The wisps of bright greens and blues and yellows shimmered slightly, the closer Wally came to Batman. He reached out to touch one, when Barry put a hand on his shoulder. Wally's eyes widened. His head snapped back to Batman as the air glowed a brilliant magenta.
Supernova: an extremely luminous stellar explosion that causes a burst of radiation that briefly outshines an entire galaxy. Robin went supernova. Dick went supernova. Type 2. He outshined an entire galaxy. His core collapsed. Dick was go—
"But that's not…"he started, his hands shaking violently. He pushed them against his thighs to calm them, but it only transferred the trembling.
Barry regarded him silently then knelt down to wrap his arms around his nephew. The boy's shivers increased as he pressed his face to his uncle's shoulder, mumbling about the improbability of it all.
Very quietly, a large shadow loomed over the two of them. Wally looked up to see Batman, his face blank. He glanced down at Wally for moment and then at the object curled in his fist. Wally noted the sudden tension in his shoulders and the tightening of his grip, before watching it flow out of him as he brought it to his lips. He mumbled something to it then cradled it in both hands. The object flashed through his fingers then dimmed suddenly.
Batman held it out to him. "It's yours" he said simply then turned to walk away.
The thing was small, about an inch in diameter, and beat warmly in Wally's hand, like a heart.
When Bruce was very young, his mother used to entertain him with stories of a land where faeries and princes and witches dwelled. She would often bring him to the wall that ran just along the edge of the farthest corner of their estate. They'd sprawl out on the grass, wrapped in the thickest of blankets and she'd hold him tight and stroke his hair, lulling him to sleep with stories from beyond the Wall.
Then one day only Martha returned.
Alfred and Thomas searched frantically around their estate for days. And on the eve of the seventh day, just as they were starting to lose hope, in stumbled little Bruce, shaken and dirty, but otherwise unharmed. They rushed to him, Martha gathering her to him, and Thomas holding them both. He cried himself to sleep that night, tucked safely between his parents.
The next morning at breakfast they asked him, where he had gone and why. Little Bruce, just barely three explained the best he could, that he had fallen asleep while listening to one of Mama's stories and when he woke up, he was in a thicket of trees. But he hadn't run off, he told them. Someone had taken him. He never saw who had taken him, but every morning, noon, and night, there would be food sitting in one of the hollows of the tree nearby. And every night, when the stars awoke to watch the world below, he heard singing, and laughing and dancing.
Martha smiled weakly at her son, her hand resting on the curve of his rosy cheek. "You've met the faeries," she explained.
He blinked slowly, his eyes growing wide.
"But how did you get back?" his father asked.
"I walked," little Bruce replied, pushing the eggs around on his plate, "I wanted to go home."
Martha's smile widened as pressed a gentle kiss to his temple, "I'm glad."
Over the next several years Bruce's memories of his adventure would fall to the back of his mind, until the only reminders were in the little glamours he placed around his estate, and the curious visits of the fair folk from the other side of the wall. Sometimes he could hear them scurrying about the manor, or feel their wide-eyed gazes regarding him amusedly as he changed from Bruce to Batman. Alfred never seemed to mind their strange guests and could be found setting saucers of milk and honey out at the edges of the garden.
Then one night the house was quiet. Alfred had retired to his room just a few hours ago, but it was still early for Batman. He was typing away at yet another case the police had left open, when a small thud sounded above him. He tried to ignore it as usual, but several more followed. Sighing, he got up to check on the noise.
Several of the faeries were huddled close to the windows, watching the sky with eager anticipation. Bruce approached them slowly, following their gazes to a brightly shining star. It twinkled at them as if laughing, before flashing and darting across the night sky.
The fae twittered and giggled around him, clasping their hands together as they watched the star spiral to earth. Bruce's eyes widened as he followed its shimmeyr path to the Wall along his property—the very same spot he crawled out of as a child. The star hit the ground with a burst of light, enveloping the surrounding area, and Bruce swore he heard a faint giggle.
Around him the creatures cheered, racing off in every direction to be the first to greet the star. Bruce hurried to the garage, and jumped into a car, taking off toward the Wall.
When he arrived, he found the fae watching the newly formed crater curiously as they chittered softly to each other. Slowly he made his way to the edge and peered inside. A young boy grinned brightly back at him, with hair spun of the night's dark thread and eyes as large and luminous as two blue stars. He crawled over to Bruce, a soft glow spreading out from him.
"I've wanted to meet you," he said, squeezing Bruce's hand.
Bruce watched him quietly for a moment, and then squeezed back with a slight smile.