Chapter 1: Just Aqualad
"Michael Phelps…" Robin sing-songed as he grinned temptingly. "Going for the gold again. Breaking even Atlantian records?"
"While I have long had interest in witnessing his renowned skills in the water and investigating rumors to a hidden Atlantian heritage," Kaldur paused to level an apologetic look to Robin. "I have concerns. I believe the airline, hotel, and Olympic venue tickets will not accept the gold currency from my country."
"Yeah, I think the only gold they take is plastic and has a bunch of numbers on it." Robin snickered, waving his friend's apparent concern aside with a hand. "Got it covered though! We Zeta beam it over to London (international flights are a nightmare anyway, believe me), free lodging, and I got comped the standard upgraded ticket package for all the events so really you only have to worry about food."
Kaldur wasn't sure what 'comped' meant but from the usage it sounded like they had been discounted or otherwise free some how. Perhaps it was based off of the word complimentary or compensated?
"Free lodging? Like with a friend or a youth hostile?" The look of confusion that crossed Robin's face at that was almost amusing.
"Huh? No! Why would we do that? They're giving the sponsors their own suites at The Grand right in the middle of everything. Comes with the tickets and few other things too." Robin snapped his fingers in sudden enlightenment. "Come to think of it the room always comes with a huge gift basket of food so you might be all set there too!"
Kaldur knitted his brows together. Robin was a sponsor of the Olympic Games? Wasn't that a very big and very expensive deal?
"That sounds exciting and certainly convenient."
"Yeah. They always put together a pretty good package for sponsors and people who donate a little bit. Sometimes I wonder why everyone doesn't do it."
Chapter 2: KF Gets Game
KF learns the reason for his friends absence.
"Hey dude! Where have you been!" Kid Flash called between handfuls of ruffled chips from his position on the couch. He hadn't heard anything from the boy wonder in over a week and quite frankly was starting to maybe get a little worried.
Robin grinned with a shrug before bumping knuckles with his red-headed speedster in greeting.
"Oh man! The Plurganaught had me trapped in his dungeon! It took me days to finally crawl my butt out of there- barely alive myself, let alone the hostages! Then the minions swarmed us and I was forced to reroute our escape back through that hell before help arrived." Robin plopped on the couch (and what would have been Wally's legs if he hadn't moved them at super speed) with a tired but proud little smirk.
"Oh my god! You should have called! I would have zoomed over and backed you up!" Wally rattled off as he wrapped his head around it. His best friend was trapped in a dungeon for days! Where was he for his bro? Where was Batman?
His mind nudged him that he'd heard of the Plurganaught before, that he was monster that tortured his captives, crushed their skulls, and enslaved their souls. He wrapped an arm around his best friend, suddenly all the more glad to see him here and okay.
"Uh…" Robin returned the hug with a few added pats on the back before shrugging him off. "I figured you were having the same problem. Wanna compare notes? How long did it take you to clear the graveyard level? Or should I ask how many lives?"
"Wait. You're talking about a video game aren't you?" His mind caught up and he could smack himself. He'd heard of the Plurganaught before because it talked about him in Game Explosion Monthly he was the villain in…
"Well yeah. Evil Hunt: The Revenge" KF heard the 'duh' there perfectly well and hid his pout behind another handful of chips while Robin continued. "Don't tell me you haven't played it yet! DUDE! It's killer! What are you waiting for?"
Another handful of chips to keep the bitter sounding jealous comment from slipping out. What was he waiting for? He was waiting for the game and more importantly, the next gen gaming console it comes bundled with to be available to the general public. Even then, he'd have to wait till it was marked down to a few hundred bucks.
Stores weren't even taking preorders yet because it was JUST released at the electronics show last weekend. The first time the world had seen the most buzzed about finished product. The only way to get one was to be at the electronics show and buy one of the few boxes on display at the price of a rather nice new car.
"I don't own it." He finally gritted out when it became apparent the boy blunder wasn't getting the level of privilege he was shoving in Wally's face.
"Oh yeah! You and Flash were fighting Captain Cold last weekend huh?"
KF nodded. Of course not going to the electronic show had nothing to do with not having the gaming console like most of the population. Sometimes he hated being best friends with a billionaire's ward.
"Hmm! I'll get my extra then. I was going to stash it in the Batcave for the next time it got boring or we had a level 3 lockdown but there's only one game out so far so I'll hook it up here in The Cave for you guys."
"DUDE! That would rock!"
Robin grinned and flipped over the back of the couch back toward the way he came from minutes earlier.
"Be right back- save me some chips!"
Kid Flash grinned so hard he felt he could almost burst. He was about to be one of the few kids in the world to play Evil Hunt: The Revenge.
Sometimes he LOVED being best friends with a billionaire's ward.
Chapter 3: Dressing Artemis
Robin knows about proper formal wear and is totally fine helping Artemis out, even if he shouldn't have to.
Gotham Academy Formal Charity Ball. A series of words so disgusting that the only thing worse was the words “attendance mandatory” that came etched in silver at the bottom of the polite note included with the invitation delivered to all the Wayne Scholarship recipients.
Robin plucked the fancy, hated paper out of Artemis’s grip while she was too distracted moaning again just thinking about it. He jumped over the back over the back of the couch to land next to her as he scanned the letter. Artemis reached out for it hastily after she got over the initial surprise of being caught. She probably shouldn’t have brought it with her to the cave. Stupid.
“Hey, give it back!”
“Ah, it’s that time again huh? Bruce Wayne seems to have a ton of these things in the summer. Why all the moaning? Aren’t girls supposed to love this sort of thing?” Artemis quickly thanked the universe Robin hadn’t asked why she was going to a formal ball in Gotham to support the local school and turned her attention to the absurdity of that statement instead.
“Oh yeah boy wonder, every woman in the entire world loves being forced into impractical and uncomfortable clothing only to spend the evening with people they don’t even like at a highly publicized event in Gotham of all places-Prime Arkham bait."
"That last part seems like something you'd like. Taking a crack at the Penguin can be a lot of fun."
"I doubt the dress I now have to purchase will stand up to that kind of fun." She complained with all the sarcasm she could muster. She expected him to have some smart ass and okay, clever, retort ready to go in response. He paused for a moment in confusion instead.
"Why? Who's your designer? Good ones make stuff that look great, are comfortable, and have durability. I have this one lady that weaves Kevlar and tech into suits better looking and more luscious than Armani. Oo! I think she makes gowns too!"
"You have a designer?" She asked incredulously as Robin ignored her in favor of quickly pulling up an encrypted and very fancy webpage on his wrist computer. Before she could repeat herself she was captivated by the screen. Pages upon pages of beautiful, elegant, perfect gowns in her size (and how did Robin get THAT info!?) that were truly tricked out with things like woven Kevlar, micro-laser jewel embellishments, secret compartments, and stretch panels to allow for acrobatic and combat maneuvers. Each gown came with suggested shoes and accessory packs that were no less exquisite or loaded with goodies and gadgets that excited the archer.
"Oh!" She let out a little gasp as a striking emerald gown caught her eye. She would look so good in this one and even on its own without feminine embellishment it stood out proudly. So... "Gorgeous..." She whispered, already regretting the fact there was no way in hell she could afford such perfection.
"And we have a winner!" Robin chuckled as he clicked the "buy now" button.
A twenty four thousand dollar buy now button, it turned out. Artemis gaped before letting out a panicked squeak of horror.
"No! No! No! Robin! I can't afford that!"
"Huh? Why not?" Robin looked at her totally baffled.
"Why not?!" Was this kid serious?! Just how well funded was Batman anyway?
"You mean Green Arrow doesn't give you a budget for this stuff?"
"No! He gives me my normal gear but not clothes or anything non-essential to the hero stuff. Even if I bought a normal dress, there goes any money for cab fare and I'm going to this shin-dig by bus."
Robin scoffed in disgust between his teeth to make a sharp "Tt!" noise that she'd never heard from the boy wonder before.
"The bus isn't THAT bad." She grumbled defensively.
"No, not that. No wonder why Red Arrow is always so disgruntled. Non-essential? Man if Ollie was more like Batman you both would be WAY more gruntled. Batman says the most essential piece of gear for us nonMetas is the piece that saves our lives. That way we survive to fight the good fight another day." Robin practically recited as he selected "other" payment method on the screen and typed a long series of digits and letters in the dialog box that popped up in response.
Artemis was a little stunned. Yes, she agreed in theory but twenty four thousand?! For a dress? That was brand new car! Rent for her and her mother for two years! It was more than she had ever seen in person and in this line of work that was saying something, even if she was new.
She was still trying to craft a response that made sense to her, let alone Robin, when the screen flashed "Payment Confirmed & Accepted. Expected delivery in Twenty-four hours."
"My treat this time, early birthday gift."
"What!? Did you!? Did you really just buy...You don't even know when my birthday is!!" She struggles as her arms flew in the air in a near panic. Robin snickered and gave her a look like maybe he did know and maybe he didn't before waving away the question and her whole panicked state.
"Anyway that takes care of the dress. I'm sure you'll get a date so a ride won't be an issue."
Artemis felt like she needed to sit down. Her eyes locked onto the rotating image of the expensive dress that she now supposedly owned. She still couldn't believe it.
"Uh, Thank you, Robin, for this incredibly awesome and mind blowingly expensive gift." Her mind caught up to what he'd said and she grimaced. "But I'm pretty sure I'll be taking a cab to this thing." She was still 'the new girl' and wasn't really looking to hunt for a date anyway.
"Oh I wouldn't bet on that." He grinned. The blonde shook her head but smiled at the compliment. She almost took him up on that bet. She was tempted but if he spent that much without batting an eye, getting into any financial risk with him was probably not a good idea.
Turns out a few days later when Robin handed her the dress she couldn't bring herself to admit that she did in fact have a date. Dick Grayson, no less, had asked and she now had a very nice ride after all.
The kid looked so smug, asking if she still needed a ride. It was like he already knew.
She was going to call him a brat or a troll but the way his cheeks colored, eyes widened, and mouth opened a little when he saw her step out to model her new dress a few moments later was so strangely adorable, she gave him a thank you kiss on the cheek anyway.