It is natural for us to be protective of Robin. It is not that we doubt him or his ability. Robin may be the youngest but he also may have more experience than the rest of the team and I combined. No, it is simply a part of us to be protective of Robin. A habit. Maybe even a need to protect someone.
I do not really understand why.
Perhaps it is because he is the youngest, the smallest. Or perhaps it is because he's Robin and there is just something that makes you like him. Something that tugs at you and pulls you towards him. Whatever this force is, it is very powerful. For even Superboy with his temper and angst will smile a little more around Robin. He'll get protective during a battle. Artemis will argue with him, comment on how his words are not real and they'll laugh together. Even I can't help but crack a smile when there is a tension and he feels the need to lighten the load.
He is not easy to crush.
The only time I saw him truly upset was after the failed mission simulation. I was honestly fearful that something might have actually crushed the spirit of the boy wonder. Yet he slowly got better. Laughing more and joking more. And it was then when I saw everyone else begin to heal. He had taken it upon himself to break the tension and build us back up again.
We need our Robin.
Maybe it is this that makes him a good leader. His spirit. However, I could not bear to put the weight of the leadership on him at only thirteen. He is just so young and I fear the day his spirit is crushed.
I will not allow it.
I will not.
He is hurt. My friend, my brother, my teammate is hurt. He will smile and act as if everything is okay, because it is in his nature to be considerate of others. No matter how self-destructive it is, he will deny any pain and eventually move on. He will hide any scars or signs of struggles. He'll laugh his joyful laugh and continue to shine. For he is Robin and I believe he is invincible. You cannot crush his spirit. But sometimes you need to cry. Sometimes you need to let it out. So you can truly and wholeheartedly move on.
I need to speak to him and make sure he is okay.
I have to talk to him.
I wait until everyone greets him and goes back to whatever they were previously doing before I approach him.
"Hey Kal!" He says a little too cheerfully.
"Hello Robin. May I speak to you privately?"
He gave me a cautious look and raised his hands in a defensive joking manner, "Whatever you say boss man."
I asked him if the beach was okay. He agreed. We walk towards the water in silence. The warm sand beneath my feet feels relaxing, not as comfortable as the water but it is relaxing.
When we reach the shore I sit and lay my feet in front of me so the water just runs over my feet. Robin sits with his legs crossed. He looks out at the sparkling water.
How do I even start?
I sigh. "When I returned to Atlantis, I was glad to see my best friends Garth and Tula. We three are close."
I let the water run over my fingertips. "The three of us were close. But Tula. She. She's something special. Beautiful, independent. I had fallen in love with her."
At this Robin turns to look at me. The look on his face indicates he knows where I'm going with this.
"However a while back she admitted that she was with Garth. She chose my best friend over me. I was… hurt and angry and confused. Batman even had to speak to me about where my loyalties lied-"
"Just Aqualad." He said frowning.
I nod. "Yes. He had to speak to me because I didn't 'have my head in the game'."
I clear my throat. "So, I know what you are going through. I know it is unpleasant and I know that I can't take the pain away but know that I am here for you."
The shock on his face is as clear as day with his eyebrows comically raised and his mouth agape. But it is gone as suddenly as it appeared. He has settled for an angry look.
"I have no clue what you're trying to say."
"I am talking about your feelings towards Artemis and Wally's relationship."
"They are my friends! I'm just a little brother to them!" He says defensively.
"And is that what they are to you? In your heart are they just siblings?" I ask.
His expression goes blank.
"Robin, I am here for you. I understand what you are feeling. I want to help."
It is noble of him to try to hide his pain but it is also plenty foolish.
His face scrunches up slightly and he looks so youthful. Who would hurt this child that gives so much to help others? Why is he searching for love?
"Everything feels off." He takes a shuddering breath. In the smallest voice I have ever heard from the usually confident boy he says, "It hurts."
It must be so confusing to him. He's new to this. He can't help his feelings.
And although it feels a bit awkward, I wrap my arms around him. He leans into me and I feel a wetness where his face is buried.
I stroke his dark hair. "It will get better."
I remember a lullaby Tula taught me. Although I don't usually do this type of thing, I begin to hum it.
After a while he begins to quiet down. He pulls away and mutters a "thanks Kal." His eyes are fluttering.
How long has he been awake?
His face is flushed and the tear tracks are obvious. And yet as his eyes fall closed I can't help but wonder if there is anything more adorable.
I can't help but smile.
Recognized Zatanna Zatara A06
"Robin! I-I'm Robin."
Everyone watches on a bit protectively of Robin. Perhaps he isn't as overlooked as I thought.