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The Beta Protocols

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Hal brings it up, initially, because he’d caught the tail-end of one of Robin and Red Robin’s infamously high profile, destructive, incomprehensible, violent shouting matches (one that doesn’t get cut off by the girls showing up to drag them off in opposite directions or Nightwing laughing so hard he falls outta the rafters on them and then the two of them starting to yell at him instead). Still, watching them, it just—it all just hits him all of a sudden how weird it is?

Like, Red Robin has always had this quiet and steady air to him that you mainly see in Betas? But you can still sometimes find him in these vicious, all-out fights with Robin. And Robin has never really read as anything but an Alpha even if he still trails along after Nightwing like a small, deadly shadow and Nightwing is usually the one to rein him in because Robin always defers to Nightwing even if he bitches about it, though Hal’s never met anyone so unerringly kind and magnetic as Nightwing, which had always given him the feel of an Omega even if he couldn’t scent it. But, then again, he’s still seen some of those legendary instances of Nightwing tearing Batman a new one and then there’s the blond Bat-chick whose fiery anger is all Alpha even though she’s really obviously somewhere pretty far down the totem pole, but she’s still one hundred percent ready to throw down? Hal heard she punched Batman in the face once.

Anyway, so: it’s just confusing.

Even that weirdo crazy vigilante with the red bat on his chest they’d ran into that one time a while back on a mission, his argument with Bats (punctuated by bullets and a dislocated shoulder after the two of them had practically kicked the rest of the Leaguers that were there outta the way) seemed to be about some kind of personal, long-standing family issues—without a even a hint of Alphas jockeying for control, not even a little, and—

“Having fun birdwatching?”

Hal jumps a little before settling under Superman’s warm, authoritative scent and giving him a crooked smile as he accepts one of the two coffee mugs Supes had brought. “Ugh, no. You know all of Spooky’s kids give me hives.” He gets a grin back because, yeah it’s still pretty hard to not watch these two go at each other and it’s as impressive as it is terrifying because Hal’s heard that this is them on good terms. Still. “I just…”


“I don’t get it, I can’t figure out how their dynamics work.”

“The Bats?”

“Yeah, got straight question marks down the list of ‘em.” He shrugs. “Know they’ve all got this unscented anti-pheromone stuff so you can’t even catch a hint of their girly shampoo downwind, but the dynamics, man, I can’t get a handle on them. At first, I’d been wondering if they were on the most jacked up suppressants ever? But…”

Superman smiles wryly. “He is always the first to bring up that most suppressants other than the usual pheromone stabilizers are dangerous to the user.”

Hal draws himself up, “‘the detrimental effects on your biochemistry exponentially outweigh any temporary benefits you may get from them,’” he growls out in his best Batman voice, earning a chuckle from Superman. “Still,” Hal deflates a little, “it's always been the creepiest thing that Bats—and he doesn’t even smell like an Alpha, like anything at all ever what the fuck—but he still literally bullies the entire freaking League? Every single one of us! Without so much as a twitch! Even you, Supes, and you’re like, the Super-Alpha.”

“I noticed it at the beginning too,” Superman admits. “I found myself following his commands without ever feeling bothered or challenged by him,” he shrugs, “ and even when he openly defies my orders and doesn’t fall in line, he’s never really vying for dominance.”

Hal tries not to shudder; just hearing about it is unsettling. “I guess I’m saying they just don’t seem to, dunno, fit? They’re not even like an unstructured group of Betas, not really, and it’s almost like they’re not even on the spectrum and it’s just weird. So weird.”


They both watch as Robin throws a sword at Red Robin who knocks it out of the air with swear and a sweep of his cape before rounding on the kid—and then Robin pulls out another sword and now they’re fighting fighting. Christ.

Superman takes a sip from his mug. Hal copies him and tries to not stress out over the entire thing. Unsuccessfully.

“I’m pretty sure there’s something in the water,” Superman finally says, sounding equal parts bemused and resigned, “or something. It’s like that for most of the city, too.” Superman generously ignores the way Hal is gaping at him. “Even if you move to Gotham or Blüdhaven instead of growing up there, your dynamic apparently just…fades.” That’s just so fucking creepy, how even, because no way. Noooo way that—

“They…they don’t have dynamics?”

“Not really, no.”

He totally won't deny that his brain breaks for a hot minute. “…You mean Nightwing’s just that hot?”

“Nightwing is just that hot.”



“So…” Nightwing casts an eye over the security feeds, swinging his legs from where he’s perched on the table next to the console Batman’s typing into. “When’re you gonna tell them that this whole ‘dynamic’ thing is one of Vandal Savage’s fucked up schemes for advancing the human race via chemically induced castes because of his entire ‘survival of the fittest blah blah blah’ evolution fetish?”


“Oh, huh. Yeah, I suppose waiting for the WayneTech antitoxin/immunization thingy to be fully tweaked is probably for the best.”


“What? B, no.”


“You can’t just inoculate the entire population without telling people!”





“Yes I ca—”