The team was milling about the conference room with the cured league; just trying to get things to get back to the way things had been before everything with Klarion and Savage.
Suddenly a blinding white light engulfed the room, when it faded moments after the whole team was unconscious on the floor.
“Wally!” Barry zipped over to his nephew, cradling him in his arms feeling for his pulse. Icon held Rocket in his arms also feeling for a pulse, relaxing when he found one. Martin Manhunter had his hands pressed against M’gann’s temple, trying to access her via their mind link, a frown set on his face. Superman hovered nervously around Connor before using his X-ray vision to make sure nothing was broken and his heart was still going.
Green Arrow had propped Artemis up against his knee while Red Arrow knelt beside her, fingers pressed to her wrist tightly. Aquaman had grabbed a bottle of water and was gently dropping it onto Aqualad’s skin trying to keep him hydrated which speed up their healing. One look from Batman had Dr. Fate over to Zatanna to make sure she was okay and to figure out what had just happened.
“Don’t do this to me Dick.” Batman whispered to his son as he held Dick against his chest, his black cape covering his small Robin. Bruce was surprised his heart hadn’t beaten out of his chest yet.
“Everyone please back away!” Dr. Fate’s voice boomed and the mentors all looked at him confused. “Back away now!”
With a heavy heart Batman placed Dick back onto the ground as the other mentor’s did the same and they all slowly stepped back as Dr. Fate’s eyes glowed.
“What is happening to them?” Batman growled out as the Team’s bodies were covered in a bright white light, their bodies shifting to grow taller, hair and clothing changed as well.
“They are swapping places with their future selves.” Dr. Fate said gravely.
When the light faded Aquaman fell to his knees, staring at Kaldur in shock and sadness, Aqualad was clad in the amour that belonged to Black Manta but with the helmet was missing.
“Oh Kaldur’Ahm, I am so sorry.” Aquaman lowered his head sadly.
“Are we sure that’s Artemis?” Green Arrow was looking down at the now black haired woman, a golden pendant around her neck with a orange tiger mask and body armour, swords sheathed on her back.
“Yes.” Doctor Fate nodded gravely keeping his eyes trained on the older looking Zatanna. Icon was hovering over Rocket who didn’t look like she changed much, other than her face narrowing out. Barry was slowly circling Wally, biting his lower lip at the obvious civilian clothing and dark circles under his eyes contrasting harshly against his pale skin. Manhunter was softly prodding his niece’s mind while taking in the shorten hair while Superman was X-raying Superboy making sure nothing was broken. Batman was inspecting the taller and leaner form of Dick, clad in a black body suit with hidden armour and a large blue bat/bird stretched across his chest, silently wondering what his son was like in the future, was he happy? Why wasn’t he Robin? Did he leave?
All questions were put on hold when the group started to stir and awaken completely. Dick bolted up; he flipped over Batman using the man’s shoulders as springboard and landed in a crouch in front of Aqualad and Artemis holding his hands up in a defensive position.
“Don’t do anything stupid please.” Dick spoke, voice deeper and more serious as he looked at his awakening team members.
“Nightwing why are you protecting that TRAITOR?” Conner snarled, getting to his feet ready to launch towards where Aqualad was helping Artemis to her feet, the both of them looking at the others warily. The gathered League members jolted back and looked at Aqualad in confusion and worry.
“It’s not what you think.” Dick or Nightwing now said slowly as Zatanna’s hands glowed, Rocket’s belt hummed to life and M’gann floated into the air eyes glowing green.
“He KILLED Artemis! She died in your arms!” Zatanna shouted in anger, wand appearing in her grip and eyes hardening. Green Arrow staggered back a step in horror and confusion.
“Leave it Zatanna!” Wally got to his feet, brushing off his clothes.
“He killed her Wally! Even if you are retried you should want revenge for her death!” M’gann snarled sounding much like Conner did in the early days.
“I think it is time to come clean my friend.” Kaldur placed his hand on Nightwing’s shoulder.
“That and we have an audience.” Nightwing said wearily and that drew attention to the gathered League members.
“How are they here?” Rocket asked confused at seeing some of the six members who were off planet fighting to prove their innocentance.
“Time travel, god I hate when Klarion gets bored.” Nightwing rubbed his forehead.
“Does it matter? What is going on here?” Conner stepped forward, eyes trained on Nightwing.
“Oh for pete’s sake.” Artemis rolled her eyes and yanked off the golden pendant revealing her true face and hair color.
“Artemis!” M’gann cried out, flying over to pull her into a tight hug, tears flowing down her green cheeks as she sobbed into the blonde’s neck.
“How?” Conner asked stepping closer, still looking at Nightwing.
“Artemis and Kaldur are spies working undercover in the Light, using Kaldur’s family connection to Black Manta to our advantage…” Nightwing trailed off, clenching his fists.
“It was my plan.” Kaldur stepped forward boldly taking the credit and the blame.
“We can discuss this later, right now we should focus on why we are in the past.” Nightwing nudged Kaldur’s hip with his own in a display of friendship while staring down Batman.
“We will be talking about this.” Conner crossed his arms but conceded to Nightwing nonetheless.
“Of course.” Nightwing conceded, as he glanced at Batman and Conner’s shoulders slumped knowing personally how much Batman being gone had affected his friend.
“Go to him, he’s still your Batman.” Conner said gently, nudging Nightwing towards Batman. Dick gave Conner a soft smile and slowly made his way over to the frozen still Batman.
“Hey B. Agent A and I miss you.” Dick said softly, reaching up and peeling back his mask to show large bags under his eyes but those blue eyes staring back at Batman were all he needed to know it was his son. Bruce stepped forward and wrapped his obviously tired son into a tight hug, his cape covering his lithe form. Dick buried his head into Bruce’s shoulder and clung on tightly, shoulders shaking as everything to do with the Light hit him. Bruce had a million questions to ask, but held it back knowing Dick needed Bruce Wayne not Batman.
“Kaldur’Ahm, about Black Manta, your father I am sorry I hid the truth from you.” Aquaman tugged Kaldur off to the side, the blond letting him.
“It is alright my King, truly I know why you did not tell me of my bloodline. Do not feel guilty over this, it is you who raised me not Black Manta.” Kaldur said firmly, hesitantly reaching out before steeling himself and clasping his King’s shoulder. Aquaman gave his partner a soft smile.
“Tell me of Atlantis, how fares my Queen?” Aquaman said in an effort to steer the conversation away from less pleasant things. Kaldur smiled at the change of topic but allowed it and began to tell his younger King of Meera.
“So… Retired?” Barry slung his arm over Wally, handing him a calorie bar getting a grin in return.
“Yeah, it was… Too much, things happened and we just wanted to live a normal life and go to college. Artemis and me… Then well, we got dragged back in I guess.” Wally shrugged; not really wanting to talk about it but this was his Uncle Barry who was his hero before he ever found out he was the Flash. Barry Allen was his hero, not anyone else and he would never forget it that.
“I’m sorry Walls… So college huh? Tell me about it.” Barry sensed the redhead’s unease and steered the conversation away and did a little cheer when Wally’s face lit up and he started to use his Speedster talk while describing his courses and his friends and living with Artemis.
“So… Conner, how are you?” Superman asked his clone feeling awkward; they barely started to talk and make amends with his version of Superboy and now was a 2-year-older version.
“I’m good, Ma still says I’m too thin, but she says that about everyone.” Conner said with a happy smile on his face and was pleased to see the same one crossing Superman’s face.
“That sure sounds like Ma.” Clark agreed relaxing his stance. “Have you become addicted to her Apple Pie yet?”
“How could I not? I keep being bribed by the team to bring some in.” Conner laughs fondly remembering the day that Beast Boy had turned into a bird, nestling himself in his hair in order to be there when Conner goes to visit the Kent Farm, Ma could never turn Beast Boy away determined to fatten the thin changeling up and saw that Conner felt like an older brother to the younger boy.
“It is bribe worthy.” Clark laughed fondly and Conner smiled up at his older brother.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Green Arrow asked Artemis fluttering around her unsure about what to do.
“I’m sure Ollie, trust me.” Artemis said fondly, pleased at the sight of her ‘uncle’ who really was like her uncle now and not just a lie that they told the Team.
“Are you sure?” M’gann was floating over her head, her uncle floating next to her the two silently sending emotions to each other to calm the other.
“I’m sure, nothing will happen I swear we will both make it out alive.” Artemis said more for Zatanna, Rocket and M’gann’s peace of mind.
“Nightwing, I have information I must share with you.” Kaldur took a few steps over to Dick who was putting his mask back on, turning back into Nightwing.
“What is it Aqualad?” Nightwing asked seriously, sounding and looking far too much like Batman for Bruce’s comfort.
“A week ago we were introduced to a new partner… Deathstroke.” Kaldur said and Dick actually let out a growl at the name while the League all stiffened knowing that name well.
“A week huh? If he hasn’t ratted you out as mole’s yet then he won’t.” Nightwing ran his fingers through his hair messing it up even more.
“He is not a threat?” Kaldur asked to clarify.
“I’ll talk to him, he owes me one. I’ll handle it Kaldur, don’t worry.” Nightwing assured him.
“He owes you one? Robin.” Batman stepped forward, worry in his voice.
“I’m not your Robin anymore Batman! What happened between Slade and I is none of your business and never will be.” Nightwing said stonily not even looking at Batman who took a step back like he had been slapped.
The League couldn’t help the small noises of surprise from seeing Dick, the little Robin who had been the light in their lives since he was 9-years-old sounding so cold and being so harsh to his father figure. The original 6 members of Young Justice just looked resigned at what Dick said, like they knew exactly what he was talking about.
“I hate time travel.” Nightwing rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on.
A bright light suddenly flashed again and the older teen’s bodies collapsed startling the League.
“Is it happening again?” Batman turned to Doctor Fate.
“Yes, this time further into the future.” Fate nodded his head.
Rocket and Zatanna’s bodies were covered in the same white light and it shifted slightly. As the lights disappeared and the two women woke up, wearing altered versions of their uniforms and obviously they were older than the 2 years older version they had just met.
“Zee, I know you like making new spells and all, but this one hurt.” Rocket placed her hand to her head as she sat up glaring at her companion.
“Why does everyone assume it’s always me?” Zatanna complained.
“Because it normally is, the other leaguers have a notebook full of your spells gone wrong.” Rocket stated simply.
“I knew Dick was doing something like that, oh that man!” Zatanna huffed as the two stood up before they realized they weren’t alone on the Watchtower.
“Ah crap.” Rocket rubbed her neck as she smiled at the younger Icon.
“I hate time travel.” Zatanna rubbed the bridge of her nose.
“I thought this shit only happened to Speedsters.” Rocket groaned and Flash nodded his head in agreement.
“Oi, what year is this?” Rocket called out, eyeing the younger league members.
“No need, I remember this. News Years Day after we saved the League from Savage and Klarion’s control, right?” Zatanna turned to look at Superman and Batman.
“Correct, how do we know you are who you appear to be?” Batman asked.
“My father is Dr. Fate after he took my place when I foolishly used the helmet to bring two worlds back together as one.” Zatanna said stonily.
“When taking down the league all those years ago, well recently for you. I used my force bubble to trap Wonder Woman.” Rocket looked at her nails, blowing on them absently.
“She did.” Wonder Woman confirmed.
“Do you know why you are here?” Superman asked, eyes darting to Superboy.
“No idea. Oh looks like Miss Martin and Superboy are joining us next.” Rocket nodded at the two glowing shapes of the super hero’s.
“Oh my head.” M’gaan placed her hand against her forehead as she sat up, red hair still shoulder length and was still wearing her black stealth suit like her uncle.
“I feel like Luthor used that damn glove of his on me.” Superboy groaned wearing his usual outfit the same just with fingerless gloves.
“Hey guys, welcome to the past!” Rocket waved at the two happily.
“The past?” Connor pulled himself to his feet and looked at the leaguers and saw the apprehensive look on Superman’s face and sighed annoyed. “Back to square one then, Kara is going to get a kick out of this.”
“How far are we talking here and isn’t this a Speedster thing… Unless Zee messed up a spell again?” M’gaan looked at the other girls with raised eyebrows while Martin Manhunter crossed his arms as he inspected his niece.
Zatanna threw her hands up in the air in disbelief while Rocket burst out laughing.
“Think back to when we saved the league.” Zatanna said, crossing her arms annoyed.
“Which time.” Connor deadpanned and the League paled at this.
“Savage and Klarion mind control.” Rocket said and M’gaan ‘oh’ed.
“Understood.” Conner asked spotting the first Robin on the floor.
“Oh looks like Artemis and Kaldur are next up.” Rocket pulled their attention over to the next two teens who were glowing. Green Hood and Aquaman stepped forward interested to see what would happen next, hoping for the best not like the last time.
Artemis grew taller and hair flowed down her back from under an orange half tiger mask and her green costume turned into a black and orange suit. She sprung up into the air and landed in a defensive position, dual swords out in front of her as she took in the people around her.
“Hold on.” M’gaan placed a hand to her head and focused for a moment and Artemis relaxed, spinning her swords in her hands before she sheathed them on her back.
“The past huh? Makes sense, I guess.” She grumbled, removing her mask glancing at Oliver who was swallowing hard at the Tigress costume she still was wearing.
“Artemis?” Superman spoke up first.
“Actually it’s Tigress now, I’m not so much a hero as a…Anti-Hero like Red Hood I guess just minus the killing spree’s.” Artemis thought for a moment finding the right words. The League all blinked at this revelation and exchanged worried looks, she had been so dead set on being nothing like he father and sister and now?
“You’re always one of us Artemis, always.” Conner promised, placing his hand on her and she sagged under his touch and gave him a small smile.
“You okay there Kaldur?” Rocket knelt beside the now awakened Aqualad who gratefully accepted her help in standing on his own feet, his uniform slightly different and his blond hair was longer and pulled into a braid. Aquaman wavered, not sure if he should approached his partner, what if their relationship had changed in the future? He just hoped that Black Manta didn’t get any revenge on his son for betraying him.
“Thank you Rocket and the past?” He looked around and his face turned to stone. “I understand and I shall make sure not to speak of the future.”
“Nah don’t bother they will know soon enough when Wally and Dick join us.” Rocket waved her hand at the now glowing two teens.
“This should be good.” Zatanna rubbed her hands as they all turned to look as the final two teens shifted and a flash of red and yellow lightning appeared before a Flash stood before them, the yellow details throughout the suit now and he was munching on a burger he must have grabbed from the cafeteria.
“In the past then?” Wally asked, pushing back his cowl to reveal his red hair, green eyes and freckles.
“Got it in one.” Rocket made a finger gun at him.
“Ah, sup Uncle B.” Wally waved his burger at his uncle.
“Wally, you’re the Flash now?” Barry asked excited and concerned at the same time.
“Yup, oh don’t worry you just retried for a very good reason don’t worry you’re still around and being run off your feet. I came out of retirement after some…Events that relate to the Speed Force.” Wally laughed, easing his uncle’s concerns about dying all while making new ones.
“Where’s Dick?” Zatanna asked, looking around for the last member of the team.
“Oh you have to learn to read ‘shadows’. Don’t worry Dick we’re just in the past there is no threat.” Wally called out and out of a nearby shadow a Batman glided out, his cape covering his body and the cowl casting a menacing profile.
“No.” Batman whispered as he stared at the other Batman with a sinking feeling of who was clearly behind the cowl. This was not the future he wanted for his son, but there it was staring him in the face.
“Fix this now.” Dick growled, voice low and gravely. “Joker is out of Arkham again and I need to be there to make sure Robin doesn’t beat him near death again.”
“I thought you had a handle on the psychotic baby bat?” Wally asked concerned.
“I do, he just gets possessive when I get hurt and the Joker shot me yesterday.” Dick stated calmly, Wally was suddenly patting him down. While Conner and Artemis all but appeared at his side, prodding him for the bullet wound.
“It hit the suit, I just have a bruise from the impact and being flung off a roof, calm down.” Dick batted the hands away before reaching up to pushed the cowl off of his head to expose his bright blue eyes that were ringed in dark bruises from lack of sleep and his pale face paler than usual.
“If we’re in the past…” Dick trailed off as he scanned the Leaguers and his gaze froze on Batman and Wally gently put his hand on Dick’s shoulder looking sadly at him. Dick shook his friend’s hand off and stalked towards Bruce who wasn’t moving.
“Dick.” Bruce said gently before he gasped when his son punched him across the face.
“You bastard!” Dick cried out, tears welling up in his eyes before he launched forward and Bruce tensed ready to defend him self but froze when Dick pulled him into a tight hug, burying his face into his neck sobs rattling his frame. “Why, Bruce?” He asked softly and Bruce didn’t hesitate in hugging his obviously distraught son.
“What happened to Bruce?” Superman asked Conner, who just shook his head sadly.
“Not my story to tell.” Connor said as Bruce made a surprised noise as Dick collapsed in his arms.
“He’s okay Mr. Wayne, he just needs rest and a lot of it.” M’gaan said calmly, lowering her hand from the side of her head clearly the reason behind why Dick was passed out in Batman’s arms.
“Best they stay in the same area.” Manhunter spoke up sensing that Batman was going to leave to put his son in an actual bed. Batman nodded, obviously upset but he slid down a wall and resting Dick’s head on his lap and out of habit stroked his hair like he did when he was 9 and had a bad dream.
“So… You took up my mantle? What happened to being retired?” Barry zipped around Wally taking in the difference of their suits, impressed.
“Like I said before… I was stuck in the Speed Force for a month, everyone thinking I was dead but I came back and here we are.” Wally waved his sandwich in front of him as he talked at Super Speed.
“How are the Rouges taking it?” Barry asked curiously.
“Rather well, they still call me Baby Flash though. They still visit you and Aunt Iris, now that was the weirdest family dinner I’ve ever walked into.” Wally laughed and Barry chuckled only imagining.
“Fate. I just wanted to let you know that I am getting stronger and one day I will get my father back.” Zatanna said in a strong voice as she planted her self in front of Doctor Fate.
“I do not doubt that.” Fate inclined his head feeling her growing power.
“Just so we are clear.” Zatanna crossed her arms.
“Didn’t this happen to us once before?” Conner asked, rubbing his head.
“I think it did, I can’t really remember that well.” Rocket said rubbing her own.
“It did.” Clark said confused as to why the team didn’t seem to remember their first visit here.
“Huh?” Conner blinked at his brother before he held his arms up to see them glowing.
“Dick. Remember I love you chum no matter what age you are or what happens between us.” Bruce whispered into Dick’s ear as he noticed his son’s body glowing.
The bright flash of light happened again and the League watched as the team fell into heaps on the floor and their bodies shrunk and clothing changed.
“They are back.” Fate determined as the light faded to show the team at their right ages. Dick was curled up basically on Batman’s lap, sleeping peacefully.
“They do not seem to remember anything.” Manhunter said after scanning his nieces mind.
“We won’t tell them anything, they don’t need that on their minds.” Batman made a decision as he looked down at the peaceful look on his son’s face wanting to keep it there and not have Dick become that serious Nightwing and Batman himself.
“Batman is right, they don’t need to know… Not yet.” Superman agreed.
“Let’s hope this is the right thing.” Barry muttered as he flashed out to get a sandwich for Wally when he woke up knowing he would need it.