I don't own DC or any of its characters. I'm just borrowing them. Rated T, just to be safe and Damian's language when not around Batman or Nightwing.
This is what happens when I get to go for my ten mile bike ride every day and I start thinking about the DC Universe…Ah, mind canon is full of wishful thinking.
Which Earth I couldn't tell you. Ages are fudged to suit the stories purposes. Probably ignores most of the New 52, I have no idea, totally not caught up. Let's just say that it's not the DC Main Continuity. My DC canon is heavily influenced by the DCAU because that's what I grew up watching. For some reason, I picked these two boys to go on an alien planet 2 month camping (camping is a bonding thing, right?) trip. I hope I did this right.
Billy Batson/Captain Marvel- 12 years old, Damian Wayne/Robin- 10 years old
(Here's to attempting to keep all characters in character, for the most part)
No Sense (Or the Five Times, or more, Billy and Damian nearly thought about killing (or at least seriously maiming or hitting) the other on a hostile alien world and the One Time they realized that they were a kickass team and became friends)
At the Justice League Watchtower, missions were being handed out to various members of the League, which included many superheroes from all over the world. Captain Marvel, hero of Fawcett City and World's Mightiest Mortal, was just one of them.
"And Captain Marvel, you'll be working with some of the Titans to handle a jailbreak in Jump City," said Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz, Justice League founding member. He was usually in charge of organizing all the Leaguers and sending them out on appropriate missions for their skill levels and teamwork. Captain Marvel just nodded his head.
"Which Titans, J'onn," Captain Marvel asked. He was a handsome, tall, black haired and blue eyed man in a red, gold and white outfit. He was powered by magic. He had been in the Justice League for two years now.
"Static's team," replied the Martian, "and Robin." Captain Marvel nodded; it was a good team choice.
Static was a leader of one of the Teen Titan teams. Static was a fifteen year old who controlled electricity. On his team was two Atlanteans—the son of Aquaman, Garth (known as Aqualad II) and Garth's girlfriend Tula (known as Aquagirl). They were both fourteen years old. The last member of Static's Titans was Connor Hawke (known as Speedy II), the fourteen year old son of Green Arrow. Despite being a team of one meta-human, one normal human, and two Atlanteans, they were a very good team and being that they were of generally nice personalities, they rarely clashed. Robin, the fifth Robin, was the ten-year old son of Bruce Wayne (Batman), Damian Wayne. He technically was a member of the Teen Titans, but he held a floater position with the Titans because he irritated many of the older members (and he preferred to stay in Gotham City). The fifth Robin was not known for his teamwork.
Captain Marvel never had any interaction with the youngest superhero, but it was his opinion that Robin made a great effort to be a good person, even though he had rough edges, but he was ten years old and needed more time to grow into a better person. Still, sometimes the fifth Robin came off as a snobby jerk and it wasn't Captain Marvel that minded that, it was Billy Batson, the secret identity of the good Captain.
"Are you going," J'onn asked. Captain Marvel winced, he was just standing around, so he walked to the Zeta beams to be taken from the League Watchtower to Jump City.
As Captain readied himself for the trip to Jump City, Nightwing was driving a very, very angry Robin to Jump City with the Bat-plane. Nightwing, then, would continue on to Hong Kong to help Black Bat (Cassandra Cain) take down a weapons trafficking ring. Robin wanted to go to Hong Kong and help his brother and sister, but no, Father wanted him to work with some Titans and Captain Marvel, of all superheroes. Nightwing ignored the fuming Robin.
"Don't cause Static any trouble. Do what he says, he's team leader," said Nightwing. "And don't upset Speedy again. He's a sensitive boy."
Robin snorted, derisively. Connor Hawke had no business being a hero if he couldn't handle a couple of comments. Then again, he was raised by Buddhist monks, so Robin's delightful personality startled Connor. "Whatever. It's not like we'll have anything to do, if Captain Marvel will be there."
"Captain Marvel is just there as a precaution. We don't want a repeat of the Tournament of Shadows," said Nightwing, steely. (1)
Robin scowled and turned away from his oldest brother. It was fine to be working with Static's team. Garth and Tula pretended not to notice Robin, when he was around, and Connor Hawke will just avoid Robin. Static was a competent leader and no doubt was destined for great things one day. (That was according to a conversation the young Robin overheard between Batman, Superman and one of the Green Lantern John Stewart). Captain Marvel was another story.
Captain Marvel, as a hero, had Robin's respect. It was just how he viewed Superman, with respect, of someone more powerful. That was where the similarity on how he viewed Captain Marvel and Superman ended. Superman was Batman's closet friend and ally. Superman's mother sent Alfred various recipes and Robin would be lying if he said he didn't love Ma Kent's apple pie. Therefore, Superman was more like a distant relative to Robin.
Captain Marvel, on the other hand, was the only kid in the Justice League just because a wizard gave him the power to turn into a grown man. If Billy Batson hadn't blundered into the powers of Captain Marvel, he'd still be a normal kid. Robin was twenty times more skilled than him and he was stuck doing missions with the Titans and most of the time treated like a kid—he was the youngest son of Batman and the younger brother of Nightwing, Red Hood, Red Robin, Spoiler, and Black Bat. It didn't help that Robin felt that Captain Marvel had a foolish faith in humanity. At least Superman had enough cynicism as a reporter at the Daily Planet to notice that some people didn't deserve a second chance.
Sighing and praying to whatever deity was watching, Virgil Hawkins, also known as Static, hero of Dakota City, wondered what he did in a past life to deserve this…catastrophe. Flying above Jump City on his metal disk-board, he ordered, via the communications ear-piece, Garth and Tula to avoid Captain Cold (one of the Flash's Rouges). Speedy was on the rooftops, ready to fire when Static gave the orders to disarm Captain Cold and Gorilla Grodd.
Captain Cold, Killer Croc, Madame Rouge, and Gorilla Grodd escaped from a federal maximum security prison in upstate California. It was a prison that was supposedly designed to keep meta-humans, well-armed normal villains, and even aliens. Obviously they didn't do a good enough job designing the place against the mind of a super-advanced Gorilla like Grodd. They managed to get to Jump City before the Titan Tower's security went off and alerted Static and his team (it was their week to be stationed there, all the various Titan teams took turns at the Titans West, the original HQ for the Teen Titans). Seeing as these super-villains gave some of the older heroes an issue, Static decided to call in some back-up. It was good that they sent Captain Marvel and that Batman lent Robin to the team for the mission. Robin had experience handling Killer Croc and an ice-user villain like Captain Cold.
Static thought it was going to be easier than normal to grab the four super-villains and send them back to prison.
Of course, it wasn't. Next time, if he ever was allowed to lead a team after this fiasco, he will request that Captain Marvel and the fifth Robin never, ever will be sent somewhere together at the same time. The moment that Nightwing dropped Robin off and Captain Marvel came from the Watchtower, the two clashed like he's never seen before and Static had seen some crazy superhero team-ups in the short year that he'd been Static, but this was ridiculous.
Robin kept insulting Captain Marvel (at least, it wasn't poor Speedy again; Green Arrow and Batman got into an argument concerning Robin's attitude, it was a mess). Captain Marvel was one of the nicest, calmest guys Static had ever met, but met with Robin's cold and rude attitude, the good Captain let the younger boy's words get to him and show his true maturity of twelve. It didn't help that Captain Marvel interfered and saved Robin from Killer Croc's choke-hold. It was like they were trying one-up the other. Again, it was ridiculous. They were both so stubborn, Static couldn't believe it.
What was worse the Captain and Robin were completely ignored any of Static's orders. He, Garth and Tula had to pick up the slack. If he had to get hit by another of Grodd's psychic beams or whatever they were, Static was going to send both Captain Marvel and Robin to be chewed and spit out by Wonder Woman (yes, not Batman or Superman, Wonder Woman was very good at guilt-tripping someone).
"Damnit," cursed Static, which was unusual for him because his parents always taught him cursing was bad and he was a good kid and listened to his parents. "Captain Marvel, I need you to take out Grodd. Speedy, disarm Captain Cold. Robin, knock out Cold." Robin ignored Static's plea to knock out Cold and went after Madame Rouge. Captain Marvel managed to knock the super-genius Gorilla out, and then proceeded to go after Madame Rouge. Unfortunately, Madame Rouge managed to escape, as Captain Marvel and Robin argued about who should get to fight her. Garth managed to knock out Captain Cold and tied him up to a pole, while Tula fought Killer Croc.
Tula and Killer Croc smashed right through one of Grodd's machines, which opened a portal (one that looked unstable). "You have got to be kidding me," said the voice of Speedy, Connor Hawke, over the radio. "Static! Grodd opened a portal."
"I see that, Speedy." Static flew down and watched in horror as Captain Marvel and Robin disappeared in a big flash because they had gotten too close to the unstable portal. It was such a big flash that it blinded Killer Croc, allowing Tula to knock him out. Static went to the unconscious Grodd and shocked him awake. Garth, Tula and Connor all joined him as the police and FBI swarmed the area. Civilian onlookers came out of hiding. This incident will be all over the internet in less time it took Batman to deduce the outcome of a case.
"What did you do," snarled Static, eyes glowing with electricity. Grodd looked amused.
"Ah, you barbarians smashed my superior version of the Mother Box and it was unstable enough as it was, being in a prototype phase, and since you broke it, it opened a portal to another world," replied Grodd. The Gorilla looked around and smirked. "So it got Captain Marvel and little Robin. Good news for me."
Static shocked him again. "So are you going to tell Batman that you sent HIS KID AND CAPTAIN MARVEL to another world, one that you don't know where? I hope to God that Batman started the day in a good mood, if I were you." (2) The last sentence was a moot point because everyone and their mother knew that Batman was never in a good mood.
The super-evil genius gorilla thought about what Static said. Grodd had nothing to say because even he knew that Batman would go on a rampage that would scare even Superman once he heard that Grodd was the cause of his Robin's disappearance. Dead serious, Grodd said, "Send me to prison."
"Speedy, Aquagirl, you see to it that these three get back to prison. Aqualad, see if you can find Madame Rouge," said Static. Depressed and distressed, "And I have to call the Watchtower." His team gave him pity looks. It was going to fall on Static for not being a good enough leader to get Captain Marvel and Robin under control. Sighing as his team went to their assignments, he switched communications from the Titan frequency to the JL one, "Static to Watchtower, come in, Martian Manhunter, please."
"Static, have you successfully completed the mission?"
Robin awoke to the sound of someone saying the same word over and over again, which sounded like 'Shazam.' He groaned; Robin felt as if he were hit by a bus, then smashed by Doomsday and lastly sat on by Solomon Grundy. He sat up. His head was being pillowed by a red, ratty pull-over sweatshirt. He found not Captain Marvel the grown man, but instead Captain Marvel's secret identity Billy Batson, the twelve year old boy. He wore white t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. He had a backpack. He was the one muttering 'Shazam.' Robin remembered Nightwing's story about Captain Marvel's powers were activated by saying the name of the wizard that gave Batson his powers.
"Would you shut up? I'm getting a headache," growled Robin. Batson looked at him, kind of relieved. Batson was a bit taller than him, since he was two years older than Robin. His black hair was a mess, like Batson didn't know what a comb was and his blue eyes were light. "Where are we?"
"I don't know," said Billy, honestly. He came over and grabbed his ratty red sweater and tied it around his waist. "And you should be a bit nicer to me, we landed in a den of rather large eggs and God knows what or where the mother or the father was." Robin scowled.
"Why should I be nice to you? This is all your fault," said Robin. He stood up and felt a little nauseous. Looking around, they were in a middle of forest. It was like no forest that he had ever seen before. The trees looked ancient. The trees were full of foliage, bright green and blue foliage, so much so that Robin could not see the sky. The tree trunks were as thick as a JL javelin. The ground was a light brown, dirt, mixed with flowers, grass and slimy looking little bugs.
"My fault," asked Billy, confounded and he was kind of annoyed. Robin was glad he was getting under 'the nicest boy in the world's skin.' "I do recall that you weren't listening to Static's orders."
"You got in my way," sniffed Robin, glaring at Batson. The other boy glared back, just as fierce as Robin. It was a surprise, most other children his age and some even older backed down whenever he glared at them. Something about Billy Batson just made Robin angry and more hostile than usual. "And now we're trapped on another world, thanks to your bumbling."
"Wow, and here I thought that you were actually a decent person but you're just a spoiled brat," said Billy. Robin glared at him, more. Grabbing Billy's arm, Robin was ready to punch him in the face. Billy grabbed the hand that held his arm. For a normal 12 year old boy, Billy had a rough, strong grip.
"Well, you're a big foolish, bumbling idiot," said Robin. The boys glared at each other, ready to go to blows. Robin's eyes were concealed by his costume's mask. Batson must have felt they were being stupid and sighed, irritated. Robin backed down as well. They both let go of the other.
"Listen, as much as I want to punch you in the face for being a jerk, we have to find a place to sleep. And find a water source and see if this place has edible food. After that we can start walking to see if we can find a town or something. Hopefully they know how to contact the Green Lantern Corps," said Billy. Something about the way he acted was not bossy, more of a suggestion and Robin could not argue the logic of the plan, for now.
However, "Say, Captain Marvel, why don't you just transform and fly above the trees to see if you can see anything." Robin watched Billy's face fall.
"I can't," said Billy. "Shazam!" Nothing happened. According to the stories, a bolt of lightning was supposed to shoot down from the sky and envelope Billy Batson and change him into Captain Marvel. "Therefore, we have to walk, unless you got a jetpack or two in your utility belt, Robin."
Robin opened his mouth to comment back, when a large sound reached his ears. It was large screeching sound that made both boys cover their ears and duck for cover. The birds and other flying creatures were rustled out of their hiding spots and homes and flew up towards the sky. Billy nor Robin moved until there was no sound.
"We should get moving," said Robin, quickly standing up.
"Agreed," said Billy. Billy stood up and put on his backpack.
"I didn't notice you have one while you were Captain Marvel," said Robin as he lead the way through the alien forest. Billy jogged to catch up to the quick-moving Boy Wonder. Billy grinned at him.
"The power of magic. I wear a backpack with important things in it, just in case I have to go on a long-term mission," said Billy. "When transformed the backpack is still there, but not there nor visible." Robin didn't reply. One moment Billy was ready to take off his head and the next Billy was calmly talking to Robin about Captain Marvel's magic. Billy was a weird kid. At least Robin was consistent in his personality and attitude.
They walked in silence, in a sweating heat. For beneath the trees was as hot as a Gotham summer day. Robin kept his senses' sharp, on the lookout for predators and possible trails that could lead to a town or city. Finding if this world had contact with the Green Lantern Corps would be their saving grace. Robin hoped that they were still in their sector, better dealing with Hal, John, Guy or Kyle than someone else. He started timed how long they walked, about a half an hour (and it felt as they were walking for two days, his legs felt like lead) and they reached a small river or a big stream.
The water was silver.
"Oh boy," said Billy, frowning. "Can we drink that?" He leaned down and Robin stopped him from sticking his hand in the silver water. Robin took out a chemical testing stick from his utility belt and put it in the water. "Well?"
"It seems nothing is wrong with it, according to this, but it is an alien world and it's silver," said Robin, snapping. Billy scowled. "You got a bottle or container in that bag of yours?" Billy nodded and pulled out an empty water bottle and a full water bottle. Robin snatched the empty bottle and filled it with the silver water. "Here, test it."
Billy looked at Robin incredulously. "Seriously, after you bat my hand away from touching it, you want me to ingest it?" Robin blankly stared at Billy. Billy stared right back. "If I die, it's your fault." Billy took the silver water bottle and took a sip of it, hesitantly. Face blanching, he spit it out onto the ground. "It tastes like prune juice!" Robin made a face at the news. Billy sighed and took another sip and swallowed. He made a face too; it was like taking medicine. "Man, I really hope it doesn't have the same effect as prune juice at home."
Robin scoffed. "It's what we have to drink. But I'll wait a while before I drink some, just to see what happens to you."
"Very nice, Damian," said Billy, sarcastically. Robin stiffened. "What? I know all the Bat-family's secret identities." Robin didn't reply. Instead, he took off one of his gloves to feel the texture of the water. It was the same consistency as water on Earth. Robin back up and gave a running start and jump to the other side of the stream. Billy topped off the water bottle with the prune-water and then jumped across to the other side too. "Are you trying to lose me?"
Robin slightly smirked. He didn't think Billy, without his powers, would be able to keep up with Robin, who was a normal human with extraordinary skills. Billy would get tired before Robin, he was sure of it. "I would never do that." Out of Robin's mouth, it sounded mocking and filled fake hurt, as if Billy hurt Robin's feelings.
"Your insincerity is astounding," replied Billy. "You'd be surprised to know that I train with Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Superman and your father, without my powers and with my powers." That admission wiped the smirk from Robin's face. His father trained Billy Batson? The father, who handed Damian's Robin-training over to Dick Grayson, was willingly training Billy. Not to mention that Black Canary, the only other person in hand-to-hand combat that could face Batman and had a chance of winning, also trained Billy. And Diana and Clark, who were two of the busiest superheroes next to Batman, wasted their time teaching someone that had powers that rivaled theirs?
"Let's just keep moving," snapped Robin, before he actually decided to leave the 12 year old Billy to fend for himself (but he was so trying to be a better person and everyone would think less of him if he left Billy alone on a possible hostile alien world). The self-destructive thoughts about how unfair he was treated in comparison to Captain-freaking-Marvel/Billy Batson was not going to get either of them home.
Again they walked in silence. They were not moving particular fast. It was like time slowed down.
"The gravity is stronger than Earth's," said Billy, after they stopped for the seventh time within one hour. This world was knocking both boys for a loop. "The oxygen thing must be the same, otherwise we'd have died already, but the gravity is probably two or three times stronger." Robin looked at him. They were drinking the prune water. Robin was going to have to pack in his utility belt water purifiers, when or if he returned home Gotham. He should have listened to Tim's advice.
"Is it that the Wisdom of Solomon talking?"
Billy glared at him. "If I can't turned into Captain Marvel, what makes you think I can access the Wisdom of Solomon? I only have it when I'm the Captain. It's a wonder how I remember a fraction of what gets thrown into my head when I change back and forth. How's your prune-water?"
"Absolutely amazing," replied Robin, deadpan. They lapsed into many silences. It was sad because they only been on this world for an hour and a half. He really hoped that the Justice League was searching for them. Perhaps Batman and the other geniuses in the League could reverse-engineer Grodd's machine that was broken. He looked around again before taking another sip of prune-water. Billy was rooting through his backpack. "What are you incessantly looking for?"
"I swear I stashed a couple of candy bars in here," said Billy. His backpack was full of pockets, but it was old. "Man, I hope no one stole them out of my locker again." He paused, like he hadn't meant to say that to Robin. Robin ignored the statement. "Ah-ha!" He pulled out a Snickers bar and a Milky Way. "Which one do you want?"
"Milky Way," replied Damian. He didn't particular care for peanuts. Billy handed him the candy bar and he happily opened his candy bar. The two boys sat in silence, again, eating the candy bars. "We're going to have to hunt something soon or figure out if some of the plants are edible."
"You can hunt. I'll take a look at the plants. Been working on stuff like that with Superman. He was like a Boy Scout when he was younger," said Billy. Robin sighed and agreed to the terms. He had spent a few years hunting while still under his mother's roof, despite her eco-terrorist tendencies. "I hope you got matches in that belt because I have a feeling that it's going to get cold tonight."
Robin really hoped that he would not have to be here more than two days with this kid. Or he may actually kill Captain Marvel.
It had been three days…three very long days…three extremely long days…three ridiculously extremely long days since Billy and Damian arrived on the hostile alien planet. So far, Billy hadn't punched Damian in the face. For some reason, his patience concerning the younger boy was thin enough as it was. It didn't help that they finished the little normal water that they had and had been drinking the prune-water too. There was very little to hunt. Well, there were things to hunt, just not viable things to hunt.
Billy had not been too heartbroken when the first thing that Damian caught tasted like rawhide. Picking out plants and berries had been hard because the little bugs managed to eat them as fast as Billy could pick them and before he could test them for human ingestion. Thankfully, Damian had some energy bars and that had held them for the past three days but they had run out on the fourth morning. Being hungry was not anything new to Billy, but Damian was very cranky when he didn't eat properly, more so than he usually was.
Damian was cursing under his breath as he drank more prune-water and Billy felt that he should stay away from him until he woke up more. Instead, Billy studied the trees. He was a city-kid, but he had read a lot. He thought if he couldn't fly up above the trees, perhaps he and Damian could climb the trees to see if they could see anything. It might be something. Even if they didn't see anything that could help them find civilization, Billy may find some fruits higher up on the trees.
They needed food that much was sure.
"Damian—" started Billy. He intended to inform Damian of his plan.
"It's Robin, to you," he snapped, interrupting what Billy wanted to say to him.
"Whatever," Billy responded. He couldn't help but tease Damian about his real name because he wanted to be called only Robin while in the costume. "Let's climb up the trees."
Damian looked up at the trees. He pulled out his grappling hook and another one for Billy. "You can use one of these right?"
"Why do you think I'm so incompetent," asked Billy. If there was one thing that Billy noticed that he and Damian had in common was that they used words more suited to people older than them. Billy wrote the Webster's dictionary out when he was seven, if only to stem his boredom while sleeping in the library basement that one winter. He had a good memory and he did not want to rely on the Wisdom of Solomon for anything that was not super-important. He wanted to pass school on his own merit and not the borrowed intelligence of a dead wizard-king. Billy grabbed the second grappling hook out of Damian's hand.
"I never said you were incompetent," said Damian, blankly, as usual. He shot the hook to one of the heavy, thick branches of the tree and immediately went up, using his feet to propel himself up the trunk of the tree. Billy frowned. He followed lead (many non-powered and flightless heroes used grappling hooks to get around their cities, so Black Canary thought it would be a good idea to teach Billy how to use one).
"You practically imply it with all the insults," replied Billy, when he caught up to Damian. The younger boy did not reply. Continuing up the tree, they made it up about forty feet when they hit a problem. A large spiky problem. About half-way up the tree, the trunk's branches become spiky, smooth, and sharp, sharp enough that it may cut the grabbling hook's line. "Just wonderful."
"I can't see anything important and there are no fruits," said Damian, grouchily. Billy rolled his eyes. "Let's go back down and keep walking." Damian and Billy got to the ground much faster than when they went up. The gravity on this world was still stronger than the gravity on Earth; neither he nor Damian were used to quite yet. When they walked they were not as tired but it still felt like this journey was taking forever. Billy grabbed his backpack. He had been given the job of carrying the supplies because apparently Damian had something else more important to do. He claimed that he was the scout ahead and could not be bogged down with unnecessary equipment.
Billy was not normally a talkative kid (at school, he was one of the quiet kids) but sometimes surrounded by all the pensive heroes, or least the ones that controlled their emotions, he felt the need to talk. Silences killed him. It was in the silences that dark thoughts evaded his mind. Billy had attempted to get some kind of conversation going with Damian, but he was like his father. He did not like to unnecessarily talk and when he did, it was usually something important or something critical (or criticizing, but Billy was not complaining, most of the Bat-family was the same way. They thrived in darkness and Billy thrived in light).
"We're going to need to find another stream," said Billy. Damian grunted, in agreement (or something, he was learning to interpret Damian's various grunts and monosyllabic words, if you could call them actually words). Billy resisted the urge to snap at Damian for being so…reticent. Damian just pushed Billy's buttons the wrong way, for some reason. Billy thought he was a nice kid and he believed in doing what was right, so why did he feel so antagonistic towards Damian? According to what he heard, Damian was this way with everyone, so it wasn't as if Damian was being out of character. So why in the name of Shazam could Billy get along with Booster Gold and The Question, but not Damian? Maybe he was not trying hard enough with Damian.
Another lapse in silence followed. Billy wanted to talk but he did not want to get into another argument with Damian again or another insulting contest (the day before, they spent an hour calling each other names, the more inventive the better). The forest was starting to look all the same to him. Tree after tree, so monotonous, it was like driving in a car and watching the scenery fly by you, except in slow motion. Sighing, Billy spotted some steam (was it a fire?) arising to the left of them.
"Damian, there's steam, smoke over to the left," announced Billy. Damian stopped walking and looked over to the left.
"It's Robin and let's go take a look. Better yet, I should go look by myself. Stealth isn't really for you," said Damian. Billy held back a growl of frustration. "You have a heavy foot and you are klutzy."
"What's your problem? Again with the insults," snapped Billy. He resisted the urge to throttle Damian, who merely smirked, as if he were amused. It just irritated Billy even more. "We both should go." Damian and Billy had another glaring match.
"Fine, but don't get in my way." Damian and Billy went towards the steam or smoke. Damian rushing forward and pretending that Billy didn't exist, which was fine with him. Billy kept up, for the most part, but when Damian was in reconnaissance-mode he was much quicker than normal. Finally, Billy watched Damian stop and stare. Catching up to the motionless Damian, he found what the other boy was staring at—a waterfall of steaming hot water.
"Well, this planet makes no sense whatsoever. There's no volcanoes nearby, none that I can see anyway," said Billy. Damian snorted.
"Ever think that lava was deep underground," he told Billy. Both boys decided to test the water. "Does it smell like prune juice?"
"I can't tell. I've been pretending the prune-water was a root-beer float," said Billy.
"Lovely for you," said Damian. Scooping some water with his hand, he sniffed it and then drank some. Damian gagged. "It tastes like warm prune juice. But neither of us had a bath in days and you smell."
"Well, you don't smell like spring rain yourself, Damian," responded Billy. Damian glared at him. Staring at the mask over his eyes, while Billy was not Captain Marvel, was kind of annoying but the other boy refused to take off the small mask that hid his eyes. "Well, I guess you can go first while I keep—" Billy never finished that sentence because a giant four-winged crow-butterfly hybrid came straight at Billy and Damian. On protective instinct alone, Billy shoved Damian out of the way, straight into the warm prune-water bath, while Billy grabbed the bird's beak, effectively bringing it to the ground. Thank goodness that his training with Black Canary was coming handy. Damian came out of the water, mask off (it fell into the water), fuming mad. He took out his pocket-knife.
For a moment, as Billy struggled to keep the creature down, he thought that Damian was going to stab him. Quickly, Billy knew that Damian would not really do that to him, and instead Damian killed the creature. Maybe they could eat this thing. Damian's eyes were blue, ice blue like Bruce's eyes and he was mad.
"Never do that again," he snarled at Billy, waving his bloody knife around like it was okay. Billy glared at him, daring him to do anything funny.
"Do what," asked Billy as he took a look at the bird-thing.
"Don't try to protect me again. I can take care of myself without you butting in," Damian said, still mad and practically snarling.
Billy was mildly offended. He saved people all the time and at least they were grateful to Captain Marvel. It was like Damian did not know how to say 'thank you' to someone. "Fine. I'll remember for next time, Damian." Billy sighed. "Go take a bath. I'll clean this thing and see if it's edible when cooked." Damian growled and left Billy to his work. Billy took out of his own pocketknife, which he would have gotten to had Damian not done so, and started cutting off the feathers and stuff. It was gross and he was never going to look at butchers the same way again. Without gagging, he cut it open down the middle and took out all the innards. They may have to eat those too. It smelled retched. Finding a stick, he stuck what was left of the creature on the stick so that when Damian built the fire, he could it easier.
Suddenly, he was hit in the head by a full bottle of prune-water by Damian, dressed in his dirty Robin-suit. His suit was water-resistant. Billy felt that Damian was never going to let him forget that Billy pushed him in the water. "Your turn. This better be edible or we're going to have a serious problem." Billy rubbed the spot where the water bottle hit him and got up.
By the time that Billy finished his bath (he was going to smell like prunes for a long time, sadly), Damian had the fire going and roasted the bird-thing. He was poking it with another stick, curiously. It almost looked like for a moment that Damian was being a bit child-like, but then Damian saw Billy and scowled.
"It's almost done," he said. Despite being complete torture, it was nice around this world at a peaceful moment. The fire made things hotter. Billy never thought he'd ever sweat this much outside of training. When the food was completely cooked, or as completed cooked as it was going to get, they took their pocketknives and each cut a piece off for themselves.
Billy and Damian had a staring contest, daring the other to try the meat first. Billy relented and shoved the sliver of meat into his mouth. Chewing, he was grateful it didn't taste like rawhide. It was not amazing. It was greasy, chewy and had little bones in the meat that Billy really did not want to know where it came from. Seeing Billy eat it without spitting it out, Damian also ate the piece of meat he cut off for himself.
At least, Billy thought as they ate their lunch, they could have starved to death and even if he wanted to throttle Damian sometimes, Billy was really glad that he was not alone.
Robin's patience ran out about an hour after they arrived on this God-forsaken world. He had always been rather impatient, but he had been working on being better at the whole patience thing. Things, however, kept piling up. Being stuck on an unknown alien world with Billy Batson of all people did not help, especially since Billy was a bit different than Robin had imagined, which should not have bothered him so much. The prune-water and the disgusting food made for a very cranky Robin. Also, the lack of a bath was gross for both of them. There was no town or city or intelligent beings to be found.
It was day 11 (as far he could tell) and Robin was bone-tired. Days of non-stop walking and mind-boggling silences took a toll on him and Billy. They decided that they should rest longer than just ten minutes at a time. They had adapted to the gravity a few days ago, so it was no longer a big problem. At Billy's suggestion, they also sparred with each other to keep with their training. Even though, Robin always won the sparring matches, it diffused much of the anger/hostility between the two boys. While they still argued with their words, Robin hadn't a desire to ring Billy's neck in days and it seemed that Billy felt the same.
Grudgingly, Robin had to admit that Billy was not half-bad at sparring and if anything, Billy was persistent and had stamina to back it up. Unfortunately, the whole really bad food thing was still getting to the both of them.
"Do you think that they'll find us," asked Billy. They were on one of their long resting periods.
Robin thought about it. He knew that his father (he was Batman, after all) would do everything he could to find him and Billy. The Green Lanterns from Earth had lots of friends from the other sectors, so they probably called in favors with the Corps. Not to mention, Earth did boast a few skilled magic-users. Robin had some bat-tracers on him, but they only had a certain range and there was no way to tell where in the universe they were. "I sincerely hope they do."
Billy was seated on a nearby rock, working on making another spear. Robin suggested they make their own spears for hunting because he didn't want to waste the pocketknives or the batarangs. Robin had been working on sit-ups, crunches and push-ups.
"How much water do we have left," Robin asked, standing up, to stretch. Billy rooted through his backpack.
"About half of one bottle," replied Billy. "Better find another stream. Suppose the break is over." He stood up and appraised the spear. Shrugging, he handed it over to Robin. Robin, since he was in charge of hunting, held the spears. They started walking again. Robin had quickly gotten used to the terrain and it was pretty basic so long as you avoided tripping over tree roots, avoided the wild animals, and occasionally ignored stench of prunes. Billy kept up well. Since his father always seem to think that the meta-humans, the aliens and the magic-users relied too much on their powers, Robin, in the same mindset, didn't think that Billy should have been any use without his powers.
Then again, Robin didn't like when people judged him at first glance, so he should have gave the same benefit to Billy. Except he really did not want to wind up like everyone else and think that Captain Marvel…Billy…was the greatest or anything. Soon, they came upon another problem.
"Oh, crap," said Robin. Had Batman been there, he would have gotten a glare for using such language. And Alfred would have taken away his dessert for the evening.
"Guess what Batman says is true, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong," said Billy. "Well, there's no way we can built a makeshift boat." In front of both boys was an extremely wide river. The water was rushing quite fast. They would not be able to swim, use the grappling hooks with danger of falling in and there were no boats or even a way to make one.
"Fill up the water bottles, then we have find a calmer part of the river," said Robin. As Billy gathered more water, Robin assessed the situation. Since the water was moving east, it would eventually lead to an ocean and many civilizations built near the ocean and the mouth of the river. If they went west, it would either lead further away from a possible town and into mountains. "We're going to head that way."
"Okay," said Billy, putting the now-full water bottles in his backpack. "Let's get going. Then we're going to have to get some dinner and find a place to camp." Robin and Billy walked along the river, eastward, praying to find some town or village or something…what Robin wouldn't give for a map. "Damian, get down!" Billy tackled Damian to the ground, shielding him. For the second time during this whole messed up trip, Billy took it upon himself to attempt to protect him. It annoyed him, but Robin could snap and yell at Billy later, for a whole flock of bird-butterflies that they've been hunting descended upon them.
"Get off. On three we get up and run," ordered Robin. "1…2…3." Billy and Damian both stood up and ran away from the bird-things. They couldn't fight and kill them all. Robin pulled out a smoke bomb from his utility belt and threw it at the angry creatures. They kept running, only slowing when they got tired and then they had to speed up again.
"We have to find shelter until the birds give up," shouted Billy.
"Over here." Robin grabbed Billy's arm and dragged him over to some trees that overgrown on each other. It provided a cover. Ducking underneath the trees, they sat tired. Robin listened for the screeching of the birds to disappear before he turned to Billy, who pulled his knees up to his chest and had his head leaning on his knees. "What did I freaking tell you? I don't need you to baby me. I'm perfectly cable of handling myself. I thought we've been over this before and…are you even listening to me? Billy!" When Billy didn't respond to Damian, he shook Billy out of whatever stupor he was in by shaking him.
"What," Billy asked, snapping at Damian. One look into Billy's eyes and Robin knew that Billy was in pain.
"You're hurt," asked Robin. "Let me see."
"I'm fine, it's not that bad," replied Billy, attempting and failing at sounding nonchalant.
"Stop it. We have no doctors, just us. I have some first aid stuff and I'm sure you've got something in that backpack of yours. Now. Let. Me. See. It." Damian—Robin—was not playing. Billy relented and stuck out his left leg and Damian saw the blood that drenched Billy's pant leg. Carefully, he moved the fabric away from Billy's wound. Billy had a gash about an inch long and an inch wide on the side of his left ankle. It was a big chunk of skin out of his ankle. It didn't look like though that it hit anything important like a main artery or vein. "Crap."
Robin unbuckled his utility belt and place in on the ground. He, then, went through the pockets. Billy's wound needed to be sterilized and wrapped in bandages. Robin was going to have to keep an eye on the wound, just to make sure that it wouldn't get infected. All they needed was for Billy to get blood poisoning before they were found, or if they ever will. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
"I've got a small first aid kit in my bag," said Billy. He refused to meet Damian's eyes. Billy took off the backpack and handed it to Damian. Robin unzipped the bag and found out why Billy always had to root around the back to find the water bottles (or anything really). It had some school books, two library books, his wallet, a shoe-box, an extra t-shirt, two pairs of socks, an unopened store-bag of boxer shorts, the two water bottles that they've been using and a small medical bag. It was like his whole life was in his backpack. Damian didn't say anything as he took out of the medical bag. He found some peroxide and a small roll of gauze and some medical tape.
"This will sting," warned Robin. He cleaned out of the wound with the peroxide, with nary a word from Billy. After he bandaged it, he eyed his work critically. It would stay. "You should stay off it for a few hours, so we'll set up camp here. We'll clean it again in the morning."
"Sorry about this," said Billy. He still refused to meet Damian's eyes and it bothered Robin a little.
"It happens," replied Robin. They lapsed into silence as Damian got some firewood. They were going to have to pick and fry up the little bugs, because Robin didn't feel like hunting anything bigger than him right at the moment. Starting the fire, Robin sat next to Billy. "How much pain are you in?"
"It's manageable," replied Billy.
"Do not lie to me, alright? I have to know. I have a few aspirin if you need it," said Robin. He tried using the same tone as Nightwing when it concerned him, Tim, Jason, Stephanie and Cassandra's well-being.
"I'll be fine," said Billy. Robin shrugged. They snacked on the little bugs, pretending that they were not bugs to get them down. Sighing, he spoke again, trying for cheerful, "When we get back home, I'm getting a hamburger with all the works and a root beer float."
"I'll be happy once I get to eat Alfred's cooking again," said Damian. Billy cracked a smile.
"Then, I'm going to go to Smallville and have Mrs. Kent make me some apple pie," said Billy.
"I may have to join you. Mrs. Kent's pies are even better than Alfred's cookies," responded Damian. The thought of Alfred and Mrs. Kent's cooking made the thought of eating what they have been sound like hell. "Of course, that will be after we get in so much trouble. Father will probably ground me."
Billy snorted. "I'll probably get benched for a while. As long as Diana and Dinah aren't furious with me, I can handle Batman and Superman's anger with me." The thought of Wonder Woman and Black Canary angry and worried sent chills down Damian's spine. Added to the thought of Hawkwoman and many of the mother-aged woman and their worry did nothing to abate the terror. Billy looked scared at the thought too. Women were complicated enough as it was (according to his father, who should know), but super-heroines/super-female-villains were ten times more complicated than normal women.
The following morning, Damian cleaned Billy's wound and bandaged it. It was a bit better and it looked like it was healing fine. Hopefully that would stay that way and not get infected. Billy had slept restlessly, Damian knew (he slept very little at night), so he practically forced an aspirin down Billy's throat. Billy's sour mood didn't seem right to Damian. It was not as if he cared if Billy was happy or anything, but Billy's optimism may have annoyed him, but it also helped Damian have some hope that they were going to get home.
"Can you walk," asked Damian, after they had a breakfast of grubs again. Since they were near the very big river, water was not a problem for them. But they needed to keep moving if they were ever going to find a way home.
"Yeah, but I'm probably going to be going slow," said Billy. He was standing, a bit shakily. His bottom left jean pant leg was stained red with his blood. Damian nodded. Once they started to walk again, Billy would have to get used to the large gash in his ankle. On their way once again, Damian wanted to go home. He missed Gotham. He missed his family. Damian looked behind him about a half-hour later to find Billy rested against a tree several feet behind him.
He walked over to the older boy. "Come on, lean on me, since there's not enough large sticks to turn into a walking stick for you."
Billy shook his head. "I'll be fine in a minute."
"You're a terrible liar. It's either that or we're stuck until your ankle is good enough that you can walk again," snapped Damian. Billy's behavior concerning his wound was really irritating Damian, so much so that he wanted to punch Billy in the head and call him an idiot. In fact one of his hands was in a fist. Why did Billy have such a problem with Damian trying to take care of him? Was it because Damian was younger than him or was it because Damian was just a kid in a Robin costume and Billy was Captain-freaking-Marvel? "I get it. Really. You don't want to seem weak because you're Captain Marvel and especially not in front of me, but get off your damn high horse and let's go. Before I hit you."
Relenting, Billy slung his left arm around Damian's shoulders and let Robin take the pressure off his left leg. "I'm sorry, Damian."
"It's Robin to you. And don't apologize."
They continued to walk. Damian heard Billy sigh. "No, really, I'm sorry. I don't mean to act like I don't want your help, well, your help in particular. It's nothing against you, really. I've always been on my own, so I just can't get used to people trying to take care of me. It's bad enough that all the Leaguers treat me like a kid when they can get away with it. It's insulting."
Damian thought about it for a minute. He recalled during one of Nightwing's many lessons concerning other superheroes that Billy was an orphan and lived on his own. He never gave that any thought before because lots of heroes lost parents or caretakers, but most always found a mentor or a makeshift family. "How did you get away with joining the League without them knowing that you were ten years old?"
Billy laughed. "Well, I had been Captain Marvel for two years and handling all the crime stuff in Fawcett City. I never thought that the League would take notice of me. Fawcett City has crime like any other city and I can handle most of my Rogues by myself. Then, Sinesto teamed up with a whole bunch of different colored Lanterns to get back at our Green Lanterns and attacked the founding Justice League members' cities—Central, Star, Jump, Metropolis, Gotham, etc. So I felt I needed to help and went to Central City to help the Flash. After everything, Flash recommended me for membership." (3)
Damian nodded. Talking actually helped pass the time. "I remember that incident." He had still been with his mother then, being only eight.
"So I got in. But that night after I became a Leaguer, Batman visited me…as Billy," he said. "I tried to play it off when Batman accused me of being Captain Marvel, but I gave up and told him everything. He told me that I had to tell the League sooner rather than later or he would. Well, you know how these things go, I let it go for two more months until an incident with Black Adam attempting to steal some old Egyptian artifacts that were in an Altantean museum. I beat Black Adam the first time, and the second time, but the third time Black Adam played dirty and yelled the wizard's name, engulfing both of us in the lightning and I returned to my ten year old self in front of all Atlantis and many Leaguers." He winced.
"How much trouble did you get in?" Damian knew that Billy must have gotten yelled at by more than one older superhero about being irresponsible.
Billy chuckled. "Well, Superman and Wonder Woman scolded me for about twenty minutes, until Batman stopped them. I made a deal with them since Clark was half-tempted to send me to his parents' house. I would make use of the Watchtower if I needed it. That's when I had to start training with Black Canary, Batman, and the rest of them. And it's also why I mostly get sent on missions with the Titans. They think I don't notice. I don't mind, but it's awkward with most of the Titans because aside from you and Wally's daughter Iris, isn't she like really two, they are all older than me, but as Captain Marvel I outrank them all or something like that." (4)
Damian actually felt something akin to understanding for Billy. And then, Damian wanted to hit Billy again just because he couldn't believe that Billy felt that he was always being treated as a kid, especially when Damian felt the same way—that Batman and his older siblings treated him like a kid. Iris didn't know any better (she was only two). Bart and Jenni both came from the future so they were treated as normal teenage-heroes. Don and Dawn's bodies caught up with their powers and therefore were treated like normal teenage-heroes. Damian had the legacy four previous Robins to live up to and Billy was called the World's Mightiest Mortal and people speculated that Captain Marvel could go toe-to-toe with Superman. Talk about pressure.
"At least you have a family now," muttered Damian, not really meaning to do so.
"Yeah, I guess I do have a family now," said Billy.
Nothing more was said on the matter as they walked along the river's edge, hoping that someone will come to find them or that they will find someone on this world that could contact a Green Lantern or maybe someone who had their own spaceship that they could borrow.
Billy grumbled under his breath. It was day 21 and they were still following the-freaking-stupid-river. His wound had long since healed and scabbed over and allowed him to walk on his own. They even decided to continue with their sparring matches.
Unfortunately, his body decided it was time for another growth spurt. Billy's height shot up another inch and a half and now, his jeans were high-waters and everything from bugs to pieces of grass decided to stick to his exposed ankles. His hair had grown more unruly and longer. Damian suggested that he cut it, but the last time Billy needed a haircut, he cut his own hair, because he didn't have enough money to get it done right at a barbershop. It resulted in days of teasing from everyone at school and a plea from Dinah to next time go to her and she'll cut it for him.
And no matter how much his antagonistic behavior concerning Damian was pretty sparse as of late, there was no way he was letting Robin near his hair with a knife. Billy watched Damian pull once again the sleeves of his Robin suit. Damian also had grown another inch and his Robin suit was getting rather uncomfortable for him since the Robin suit was made exact specifications, with only enough for a small growing room.
To pass the time, other than trying to find a viable food source, Billy told Damian stories about his adventures as Captain Marvel. He didn't think Damian actually cared but Billy knew that the other boy was listening anyway. It gave him something to do, other than read his textbooks (which he shared with Damian; they've practically got the math text and the biology text memorized).
Today, they were lucky, they finally found some sort of wild grain, which they had no way to boil or cook. Billy made two makeshift bowls from some of the stronger leaves (thank goodness for arts and crafts Sunday at the library—Billy had spent many hours with cooing adult woman while doing arts and crafts). They've been mixing the prune-water with the wild grain and hoped that it would digest in their stomach.
"Well, that's it, ready to eat," said Billy, looking as the prune-water made the grains soggy. It almost looked like oatmeal. The keyword was almost. "You eat it first."
"Ugh," muttered Damian, taking the makeshift bowl. In one gulp he ate the food (it wasn't a very big bowl, by the way). "It's not horrendous." With that, Billy ate his own food.
"Cold oatmeal made with prune-water," sighed Billy. His stomach was in pain. He managed this long without getting those very familiar hunger pains and if he had them, he knew that Damian, who probably never went hungry in his life, probably had hunger pains too. The little food they were finding had to be split between two growing boys. "So, what was I talking about?"
"When you got your job at WHIZ radio," said Damian, nonchalantly. Billy grinned. Damian was listening to his stories.
"Right, so I was battling Dr. Sivana again when this reporter lady Helen shows up and tries to interview the both of us for the radio in the middle of our fight," said Billy, rolling his eyes.
"You mean the woman that's Captain Marvel's fangirl, the one that you're the assistant to," asked Damian, slightly amused. Billy flushed.
"Really now, I can't help it if women like Captain Marvel, though it's awkward. I'm pretty sure that there's a rumor on the internet that Captain Marvel's gay. These things don't happen to Superman," said Billy, rolling his eyes. Most of the women that throw themselves at Captain Marvel tend to be old enough to be Billy's mother.
Damian smirked. "That's because everyone knows that Superman loves Lois Lane, even though the world knows that she's married to Clark Kent." Both Billy and Damian laughed at the thought of the ridiculous love triangle.
Billy shook his head, amused. He continued his story. "Anyway, Dr. Sivana got away and I was left with Helen steamrolling me with questions. I eventually escaped thanks to a bank alarm, but somehow she found out that Captain Marvel was seen a lot near the Fawcett City Main Library and discovered out that Billy Batson, according to the librarians, was friends with Captain Marvel. The next thing I know, Helen's dragging me to visit her boss at the radio station and I got myself a job. It's only an hour or two after school since I'm so young but it pays well. Reporters..."
"What? You're not going to do what Clark does and be a reporter to get tips on crime," asked Damian.
"Hardly. It's just something for the time being. I want to be an archeologist like my parents," explained Billy.
"Sounds nice," replied Damian. Billy stopped talking after that; Damian was probably going to be Batman someday and inherit Wayne Enterprises from Bruce, because if Billy knew Dick and Tim, they had no interest in running Wayne Enterprises and Jason would never even want to have anything to do with business (5). Stephanie also had no interest in doing so. Cassandra would probably do something with the Wayne Enterprises' building in Hong Kong, since she had nowhere really to go. Then again, Damian probably was afraid that his mother would want him to be the al'Ghul heir. Billy may have only foggy memories of his parents, but he knew that they loved him and his twin sister Mary, wherever she may be, very much. Bruce loved Damian that much was certain.
They continued walking. Billy wondered since they found some wild grains that maybe they were getting closer to a farm or something. Suddenly, Billy got that feeling that someone was watching him. It was like when he was walking to his room at the motel and he felt that some bullies or gang members were stalking him to jump him (again). He went to tell Damian but Damian was already standing still, eyes narrowed and scanning the area. Damian made the 'shhing' gesture to Billy, who nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, a large snake slithered out of the trees. It was not just a large snake of the anaconda variety or the boa constrictor variety, but it was a large snake of a horror movie variety, mutated to extremes. Except this was not a horror movie, it was an alien world's snake. For all Billy knew, this was a normal size for a snake on this world. Most snakes sensed body heat and movement. Damian gestured for Billy to move slowly towards him. Together, no doubt, Damian planned to use his grappling hook to get them out of there. The snake seemed to forget that they were there.
Billy made it to Damian's side.
"We've got to move when it's not looking," hissed Damian. Then to both boys horror, the giant snake was not alone. It had babies. Lots and lots of babies. At least a hundred and they varied in sizes—some the size of boa constrictors and others were the size of pet snakes. Billy froze and Damian looked distressed. Neither boy moved as the snake family slithered in the water and the ground. The snake mama was watching the still boys with veiled interest. If they moved, they were snake food. One of the smaller snakes crawled closer and closer to Billy and Damian. "Shit."
"Shazam," whispered Billy, hoping that the old wizard was listening and allowed him to access his powers as Captain Marvel. He didn't know why his powers were not working on this world. He really wished that he had his powers. The snake was killed suddenly, cut in two, by Damian's hidden Robin knives (that Batman knew he carried and allowed, only because Damian promised not to kill any person with them). Damian's impatience of just standing around and doing nothing had run out. Damian got ready. If Billy let him, Damian would probably try to take on the giant snake.
And he'd probably win, but that was not the point, Damian could get seriously hurt and Billy would have no way to help him in a fight, not as Billy and certainly not against a giant snake. "Damian, don't." Before, Billy knew it, Damian managed to kill another three snakes. Billy grabbed at Damian's arm but Damian dodged Billy's attempt to get him away.
"Billy, go into the trees, now!"
"Are kidding me," yelled Billy. "I'm not leaving you here!" He was getting angry at Damian for putting them in this position, but now was not the time to get into it with Damian. (And Damian complained that Billy tried to protect him too much but what happened when Damian was left to his own choices? Damian liked to do dangerous things and liked fighting, obviously.) Billy took out his own pocket knife. They were being attacked full force by the smaller snakes, some tried to crawl on them and others tried to bite. Mama snake must not have the mama bear instinct because it was not moving, just watching. "Damian, we've got to go before the big one gets its act together!"
"Fine," said Damian, irritated. And the two boys ran into the forest away from the river and thankfully they were not being chased. They retreated for about forty-five minutes, running, when Damian told him to stop. Billy's lungs were on fire and he was breathing hard. His legs fell like Jell-O.
Billy was furious with Damian. He wanted to wring the younger boy's neck. They either could have gotten hurt or killed because Damian was so impatient. Just when Billy thought he was just starting to get along with Damian; Damian does something stupid. He clenched his jaw and then sighed. "Geez, Damian, did you really have to do that? What if that big thing…" Billy started to scold Damian, when he stopped because Damian was leaning against one of the trees, panting, pale and blood dripping down his right arm. Damian was putting pressure on the wound. He was pale, paler than normal. Billy's anger evaporated at the sight. "Oh, no. Let me see it."
Quickly, Billy took off his backpack and opened it for the first aid kit. He hoped that the snake's venom was not fatal. Before Billy could move, Damian started to vomit and then he collapsed to the ground, right into the vomit.
Billy moved Damian, turning him over as well so he was facing up. Billy took some water and washed as much of the vomit as he could off of Damian's Robin shirt. Then he tore off the sleeve to get to the wound that was on his upper arm. There were four puncture wounds and there was black pus coming out of the wound. Billy grabbed the water and the peroxide and cleaned the wound the best he could.
"Please, don't be fatal, don't be fatal," muttered Billy. He tried to remember what Batman taught him about how to handle poisonings.
"In the event that you don't have access to anti-toxins, you must bleed out the wound, slowly, that's important, and continually clean it to avoid infections," explained Batman, during one of Billy's many lessons by the adult Leaguers. Today they were working on emergency first-aid.
"But how do you know," asked Billy, eleven years old, "if you got enough poison out?"
"That's the problem, you won't know. You must just do your best until you get to a doctor. I always carry a small vial of anti-toxins with me, one that can cure most poisons," said Batman. "Next, bandages."
Once Billy finished bleeding out Damian's wound, he bandaged it. He, then, decided to put Damian in his extra t-shirt because the smell of vomit on his shirt of the Robin suit would just cause Damian to be nauseous when he woke up. Once he finished, he folded up the Robin shirt and then, Damian's cape and hood he put over Damian as a blanket. Next he rooted through Damian's utility belt to see if Damian carried a shot of anti-toxins, maybe it would help. Finding it, he gave Damian of shot of it. Damian's paler-than-normal skin was worrying him. Billy checked for a fever. Poor Damian was burning up, which meant his body was fighting the venom. It was going to be a rough few days. Billy hoped that the younger boy was going to be alright because there was no way that he could carry Damian anywhere. It wouldn't help either of them.
Figuring that he was going to be stuck until Damian was better, Billy gathered some firewood. He was going to have find a small stream or tributary from the big river for more water, but he wanted to wait until Damian's fever went down and he, at least, woke up once. The little water left they had would have to be used to make sure Damian didn't get dehydrated.
Billy pulled out one of the library books (the Chronicles of Narnia compilation) and began reading, while keeping an eye on Damian for any changes. He got to the third chapter of the Magician's Nephew when Damian sat up and vomited again, off to the side. Billy brought him some water.
"Ugh, I don't feel so well," grumbled Damian.
"Drink some water," said Billy. Damian's hands were shaking so Billy held the bottle for Damian. After drinking some water, Damian collapsed asleep again.
The next few hours, Billy made sure that Damian got water, read some and found another source of water when Damian's fever went down a little. It was a small pond, this time. Night fell upon them soon enough and the fire was lit. Billy made sure that Damian was close enough to the fire so he wouldn't get cold.
Billy ate some more of the grains when Damian, startled, shot up to his feet in one swift motion, calling for his father. Billy shocked stood up and steadied Damian.
"Easy," said Billy. "Sit down and relax. It was a nightmare." They both sat back down. Damian looked a little bit better. "You feeling any better?"
"I'll be fine," said Damian. Billy nodded.
"Do you want to try to eat some of this mush," he asked. Damian looked at the makeshift bowl of mushy grains and shook his head, looking a little bit green in the face. "Guess not."
"I'm sorry." Billy looked at Damian, shocked.
"Why are you apologizing," asked Billy. He didn't think that Damian had it in him to apologize to a person outside of the Bat-family, even then it would be a rare thing.
"I have been…difficult during this whole thing. And I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate that you are looking after me," said Damian, refusing to look Billy in the eyes. Billy patted him on the back.
"You took care of me when I was hurt. Besides, I like to think we're becoming friends. Even if not, I would still take care of you. But next time, please don't fight the giant snakes," said Billy, cheerfully. "You should rest. I'll keep watch, okay?" Damian nodded. He laid down and quickly fell back to sleep.
Hours passed and Billy tried to keep awake. He was not a night person, unless he was working on a case or chasing down a villain. Damian was getting better color in his face, so Billy must have did an okay-job taking care of the snake bite. The one thing he learned about Damian during the days they've spent together was that Damian was a restless sleeper. Billy was a deep sleeper, so he couldn't go asleep not while Damian was ill.
He heard Damian sigh. He must have woke up. "Billy?" He was still lying down. He sounded drowsy.
"Yeah, Damian?" The fire was dimming in the alien-night.
"I've been jealous of you. That's why I acted that way in Jump City," said Damian, Robin.
"Of me?" Billy sounded incredulous. Why should Damian ever be jealous of him—Billy? Damian was the one that had the big family, with his father, his three older brothers, the two older sisters, Barbara, and Alfred, who all loved him despite Damian's difficult behavior. "Why?"
"I thought that since you're Captain Marvel, everyone, even my father and Superman, thinks you're the greatest. Everyone loves you. Everyone thinks I'm a pain in the ass," said Damian, snorting. "And even though you're parents are gone, you know they loved you." Even sleepy, he could be direct.
"Bruce loves you. Dick, Tim, Stephanie, Cassandra, Barbara, Alfred and even Jason all love you. You have a good family," replied Billy. "I'm jealous of that. You have potential to be whatever you want. You don't have stay Robin forever. You could become Batman. You could become a new hero and make your own path. I'm Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal. Did you know that I'm part of one of Batman's contingency plans to deal with Superman if he goes evil or something? Aside from kryptonite, Superman is vulnerable against magic and I'm one of the only heroes that can fight Superman without getting seriously hurt."
"Father and I clash a lot. Tim, Jason, Stephanie, Cassandra and Barbara all tolerate me. Dick's the one that bothers with me, only because Father pawned me off on him," said Damian. "I can tell."
"It's only because all your siblings are so much older than you that they seem standoffish, but they've been doing the fighting evil thing much longer than you and I bet they are all tearing apart the universe looking for you," said Billy. Damian could not argue that point.
"My mother hates me because I'm not the perfect son to her."
Billy winced. Talia al-Ghul was a woman that Billy did not understand at all. "Your mother is a complicated woman, so I heard. But you've got the Bat-family in your corner," said Billy. "I wish I knew where my sister was. You're lucky."
"You have a sister," asked Damian, stunned.
"Yeah, my twin sister, Mary. We got separated when our parents died. I haven't seen her since I was four," said Billy. (6) "I'm thinking of using the Justice League resources to find her, but I can't bring myself to do it, just yet." They fell into another silence.
Damian scoffed. "So I'm jealous of you and you are jealous of me? We're ridiculous." Billy laughed.
Never again did Damian want to take for granted life at the Wayne Manor. If he ever got off this God-forsaken world, he would tell his whole family that he loved them and appreciated them, especially his father. It was day 35 and two weeks had passed since Damian was bit and poisoned by the snakes. Damian and Billy managed to get back to the big river and finally found the seashore. Unfortunately, there were no towns. Happy to have a change of scenery from the forest, they've been camping on the beach for the past two days.
The sun of this world was bright yellow, like ours, but the sky was extremely light blue during the day and pitch black at night, with very little stars showing. They needed to regroup and come up with a new plan. Billy had started to fish in the ocean, but the fish looked weird. However, they tasted better than the creatures in the forest.
In other news, Billy and Damian had been getting along much better. They talked about life as a kid superhero. Damian even started to tell odd stories about his brothers and sisters that had Billy laughing and Damian glad that he had nice blackmail material on his siblings. Billy and Damian even talked about some recent archeological digs that were happening on their world (at the time of their departure). Damian should have guessed if Billy really wanted to be an archeologist when he was older that Billy already started studying. As the son of Batman, Damian needed to be well-versed in many areas of expertise.
Still, both Damian and Billy wanted one thing—to go home. There's the aching in the pit on both of their hearts. Billy missed Fawcett and Damian missed Gotham. They missed the life of a superhero.
"You do realize now we're going to get sunburn," said Billy. Damian snorted.
"Naturally," he replied. They worried that they were never going to find anything on this world escape wilderness and animals. "I think we should follow the beach this time, either way. We have got to do something."
"Seems sensible. We have no idea how big this world is. I hope we're not on a land mass that's just wild and the cities and stuff are on another land masses because we've no boat," said Billy, sighing. Damian sighed too. They decided to set off since they already ate their breakfast of fish and grain-mush. Walking on the beach proved to be more difficult for them. They would just have to get used to it.
Unbeknownst to both Damian and Billy, on this particular day, they were being watched. The being that watched them was not friendly. It was the ruler on this half of the world. In fact, the being had been aware of two non-entities since they crashed landed into his domain. He figured to let them be and they would die of their own accord. However, the two little creatures proved to be very resilient and tough. They escaped his bird-butterfly legion, his first attempt on them, and even escaped his snakes that he had sent two weeks ago. For sure, he figured that at least one of them would be pecked to death or poisoned to death, but it had not happened. It would be time to send in his most powerful creature to rid himself of the little problems.
Meanwhile, on the Justice League Watchtower that hovered above earth, the entire Justice League, the entire Justice Society (old and new), all the Titans and the Young Justice operatives were all there for the meeting of epic proportions. The search for the missing Robin and Captain Marvel had entered its second month just five days ago. No one was more worried and stressed than Batman, himself. Batman had been having a very bad time of handling not knowing where Damian was and that Billy was gone. Everyone was worried.
Static had reported the bad news. He felt so bad about it that he avoided Batman for days, until Batman literally visited Static at his home in Dakota. Batman assured that he didn't blame Static, that these things happened and that they will find both boys, who were in trouble for not listening to orders on the battlefield.
Batman and many of the very smart members of the League and other hero organizations tried to reverse engineer Grodd's device but when they did, the portal opened to New Genesis, where they have not seen either Captain Marvel or Robin. Nightwing led a team, which included Red Hood, Starfire, Arsenal, Barda, and the Flash to investigate Apocalypse. Hal, Guy, John and Kyle sent out messages to their Green Lantern friends to keep an eye out for the missing duo and to spread the word. They were doing everything they can but the universe was a big place and it didn't even count alternate universes that Robin and Captain Marvel could have been sent to instead.
All they wanted was to see that Captain Marvel and Robin (Billy and Damian) came home safely.
Perhaps the thought of all the people that cared about them were searching for them kept Damian and Billy going on the hostile alien planet. Damian and Billy had been walking along the shoreline for two hours. If possible, the ocean scenery was worse than the forest scenery. Damian was bored. Billy was not talking, at the moment, which bothered Damian more than he liked to admit to himself. If Billy lost hope, what chance did they actually have to get home?
"Something wrong," asked Damian, nonchalantly as possible.
"It's about my powers. I don't understand why I can't access my powers or contact the wizard. I mean, he lives at the Rock of Eternity, I should be able to get to him anywhere," said Billy, frustrated.
Damian thought about it. It also worried him that Billy could not turn into Captain Marvel. He thought back on the lessons that Zatanna gave him on magic, in order to combat it. "Perhaps this world has very little magic or it's cut off from the source of all magic, I don't know. Isn't that your area?"
"I suppose that there are worlds that magic won't work on, just my luck that I crash onto one," said Billy, sighing.
"Of course, with a normal human like myself along for the ride," said Damian.
"You're not normal," said Billy, wryly.
"Well, in comparison…" started Damian, smirking.
"Oh, shut up." Before Damian could continue to tease Billy, the ground shook. Immediately, Billy and Damian gave each other looks. They had to be ready for anything. When the ground continued shake, Damian thought it was an earthquake, but then, he heard the trees crashing to the ground. Billy cringed as Damian started to feel sick.
Coming straight for them was like nothing they had ever seen. And they had both seen a lot over their short lives. The creature was a gigantic gel-creature. The size was at least that of an entire normal size town and as tall as skyscraper. The trees were being absorbed into the creature, floating in the see-through gel. Its sweat was dropping to the ground with big splashes. Damian did not even have to say 'Run' because once they got over the shock, they ran. There was no way they could fight something like that, not without backup, not without new weapons for Robin and Billy's Shazam powers.
"It's following us," shouted Billy.
"I know, just keep going," Damian shouted, right back at him. Damian was going through a dozen different strategies through his mind. Every scenario that Nightwing and the rest of his family went over with him was not helping him now. He definitely needed more training when he got back home, if he got back home. Since Billy was taller than him, he was a little ways ahead of Damian and he figured that Billy was not running as fast as he should be, probably wanting to stay close to Damian. It didn't help they were both tired and wanted to go home, so very bad.
If his father was here, he would already have figured out a way to defeat the creature, Nightwing, Red Hood and Red Robin probably also would have figured out a way too, not to mention Batgirl, Black Bat and Spoiler. Damian had a long way to go if he were going to catch up with Batman and the rest of his family. So he did something incredibly stupid. He stopped running and pulled out a batarang and put a small explosive on it. Billy must have noticed, because he rushed to Damian's side, pulling hard on his left arm.
"No, don't you dare, Damian, let's go," Billy snapped. Damian let loose the batarang and watched it hit its mark. Part of the creature exploded, hitting both Damian and Billy with blobs of the gel-like substance that made of the creature. The creature screamed and continued to move toward them. So, Damian threw another small explosive at it. "Damnit, Damian."
That startled Damian for a moment because Billy never cursed. Billy, then, got a good grip on Damian's arm and yanked him. Damian was dragged until he started to run with Billy. The creature was slowed down enough, so they managed to find a cave to hide in for the time being. Damian could tell that Billy was mad. If looks could kill, there would be no more super-villains, but that was beside the point. It didn't help that Damian was also mad, more at himself, than at Billy. It was the smart thing to run in that situation. Maybe Damian was just too tired to really think straight anymore. Before Damian did anything else, Billy grabbed him by the shirt, forcing Damian to face him.
"What were you thinking," Billy demanded. His blue eyes were blazing with anger. "You could have gotten yourself and me killed, you idiot? Has the sun fried your brain? Do you have a death wish? I can't believe you really did that."
"Get off it. It was stalled and we got away," replied Damian, snapping back at him. Damian shoved Billy into the cave wall and Damian was free from his hold. How dare Billy scold him like he was the one in charge? "You're not the boss of me."
"Really, you're going with that. You're so unbelievable sometimes," said Billy, furious. Billy glared at him and walked out of the cave. Damian scoffed at Billy's melodramatics. Damian sat on the ground and waited. Billy would come back inside. No matter how mad Billy may be at Damian, they both knew that they could not split up.
Barely ten minutes later knew that he could not just here if that creature was still after them. So, Damian left the cave, finding Billy sitting on the beach staring at the horizon. "We had better keep moving." Billy nodded. He stood up and followed Damian down the beach. It was silent. They had long stretches of silence between them before, especially at the beginning of this mishap of a journey. Most of them were awkward at first and some of them was just to have silence when necessary. This silence was Billy giving Damian the silent treatment. Damian had pulled the silent treatment on Dick and Tim many times when Damian was mad at one of his brothers. Billy was mad at Damian.
It bothered him more than he wanted to admit.
"Why," Billy eventually asked him after an hour of the tortuous silence, "would you do something so stupid?"
Damian didn't want to respond. "If you were here with my father or any of my siblings, they could have defeated it."
"Not necessarily. Don't be too hard that you can't up with plans so on the fly after being away from home for thirty-five days. We both aren't eating right and sleeping right. We're beyond stressed and spent most of the time walking," said Billy, fiercely. "You're ten and you've still got a lot to learn, just like I do."
"Sometimes I don't feel like I'm good enough," said Damian.
"Me too," said Billy. "But everyone has their doubts. I bet Batman and Superman even doubt themselves sometimes. It's part of being human. You're not perfect, no one is perfect. Get that idea of perfection out of your mind." Then, Billy flicked Damian's forehead. "Next time, you do something like that, I'm punching you in the face to knock some sense into you."
"You can, but just know that I may punch back."
Billy grinned. "Deal. We should come up with a plan of attack though if that thing comes back."
"With our luck, that will be a good idea." Damian assented. At least battle plans would pass some time.
Billy splashed his face with some the salty prune ocean water. On his and Damian's fifty-sixth day on the alien world, it was a very hot day. Most likely it was the start of this world's summer days. Billy and Damian for the past three weeks have been walking the beach, training and strategizing, fishing and unfortunately, growing out of their clothes. Damian's Robin suit was getting too small on him and Robin ripped off the left sleeve off. Billy had long since had to turn his jeans into shorts. They kept the extra jean-cloth just in case they needed a tourniquet.
They have also run into a few problems the past few weeks. Damian had figured out that they were actually being targeted by the creature of this world. After the bird-butterfly attack and the snake incident, Billy asked Damian if he found it suspicious. Damian had told him he did find it strange. Then, the thing with the clear blob creature proved that someone was after them. A few days after the blob creature incident, they were attacked by giant crab creatures. Then, they were attacked by a whirlwind-making creature. And just the previous week, there was a problem with a giant land shark. Somehow, they managed to either kill it (Billy was never eating crab again, by the way) or they got away with no injuries.
"Billy, let's go," said Damian, who just finished cleaning up their camp site. Billy put on his backpack and stood up. Billy was glad that Damian was being more agreeable lately. He figured that since they've spent the past fifty-six days together, just them, that Damian was used to Billy. Walking along the beach, Billy wished that they could find some sign of a civilization soon or that the League or the Green Lantern Corps would find them already. He can only imagine that his school thought he was dead and that his boss at WHIZ radio was terribly worried about him (and Billy was pretty sure that he had so lost that job and he could only imagine all the catch up work at school he would have to do when/if they got back home). Billy also hoped he hadn't lost his room at the motel. Yes, he had a room at the Watchtower that he could use, but he always felt uncomfortable accepting the charity from the League. "Worried?"
"A little. I've got to put my life back together somehow on Earth. At least, your dad can give you plausible excuses why you're missing school so much," said Billy. Damian had attended Gotham Academy, a rich preparatory school, like Dick had. Jason, Time, and Stephanie attended public school, where they felt more comfortable. Cassandra was essentially home-schooled by her father, the assassin David Cain and later by Alfred and Bruce.
Damian scoffed. All his father had to do was make a donation and all of Damian's absences would not be mentioned ever again and both boys knew it. "Well, I'm sure that Father handled your school, job and place for you."
"It would be something he would do," said Billy, sighing. Then, Damian got that strange look on his face when he sensed something following them. It was all that Bat-training. "Again?"
"Again," said Damian, sighing.
"Wonder what it is this time…" Billy asked but the sound of the ground shaking and trees crashing to the ground was very familiar. It was the giant blob creature again. "What's the plan again?"
"Either run or blow it up. Let's blow it up," said Damian.
"You would want to do that one. Do you have enough explosives," asked Billy, without hesitation. It would be so much easier if he had his powers. Every once in a while he would whisper the wizard's name, hoping. It never worked. Damian nodded. "Alright, I'll get its attention." There was plan was a simple one. Billy will distract it and Damian will use his stealth skills to apply the explosions. Then all they had to do was hope for the best and run like the wind. "Hey, blob! Over here, ugly!" Billy stood directly in front of it and waved his hands like an idiot. The creature probably was not that bright because it didn't notice Damian use the rocks as cover.
Billy ran as the creature advanced it speed. He hoped that Damian timed it right. Looking over his shoulder as he ran, he watched Damian throw the explosives at the creature. Billy ran for cover as the thing exploded. Clear blobs were all over the beach. And he got hit with some of the blob, and so did Damian, but they were safe.
"It worked," called Billy, over to Damian. Damian stood on some of the rocks and held up his hand for Billy not to move. Something else was coming. Billy watched as a six foot tall blue lizard-humanoid creature appeared out of the woods. It voice reached Billy too, in his head. The lizard-humanoid blue creature was a telepath. That was just what neither Billy nor Damian need at the moment.
"How dare you? You've been killing my babies and stomping all over my land without my permission. You dirty little apes. Now, I've got to kill you myself." What was worse, Billy noted, was that he did not walk, the creature floated. That either meant he could fly or he was a telekinetic being too. It was proven that the creature was telekinetic when he flung Damian across the beach, knocking straight into Billy. Both boys were captured in the lizard-creatures telekinetic and telepathic hold.
Damian was kicking and squirming for his life. Billy was not proud to say but he was worried that Damian was suffocating by doing so. He had to have faith that Damian was doing the right thing, so he fought back too.
"Stop squirming, little apes." Damian passed out, but Billy was still awake. He had nightmares like this before, where he was useless and someone he cared about got hurt because he couldn't save them. Damian was flung to the ground, unconscious. Billy opened his mouth and screamed,
"SHAZAM!" The familiar bolt of lightning descended upon Billy, engulfing him and the enemy. The enemy was shocked as Billy turned into Captain Marvel.
"About time," said Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel immediately knew that this was a world that had little magic and the distress of seeing Damian hurt caused the little magic there to be summoned by Billy. "You are going to pay for hurting my friend!" Captain Marvel immediately punched the lizard creature, who screamed in pain.
"WHAT ARE YOU?"
"I'm Captain Marvel, protector of anyone who needs it," he said. "And enemy of beings like you." Captain Marvel, then, speed punched the creature until it was unconscious. Unfortunately, he was feeling quite tired, meaning that the magic was draining from the world. He picked up Damian and checked him for any serious injuries. "Time to fly." Captain Marvel flew up high enough that he could scan the area. The great search for a town began.
Twenty minutes later, he finally saw a small settlement, which was a good thing because he felt the magic weakening. He slowly floated to the center of the town. This town was populated by five foot green lizard humanoids and they looked much friendlier than the creature that he just faced in a fight. Of course, they were staring at him.
"Uh, we need some help. We need a Green Lantern," said Captain Marvel, very tired. He placed Damian on the ground. He felt it coming and then he changed back into twelve year old Billy. Billy passed out.
Billy woke up to someone poking him in the face. He swatted the hand away and opened his blue eyes. He found Damian standing there, smirking. Billy felt not annoyed but very much relieved and he smiled at Damian.
"You're okay," asked Billy.
Damian scoffed. "You were the one that was out for two hours." Billy knew that was Damian's way to show his worry for him. "Good news. The doctor Lowena's daughter is a Green Lantern. We should be getting home soon." Billy grinned.
"Awesome," said Billy. "So, the beings here are telepaths, huh?"
Damian nodded. "Since you were sleeping like a baby, I talked to Dr. Lowena. This world is called Trixsel, located in Sector 2800. The world is divided into two territories—the green ones and the blue ones. You defeated the Blue Warlord." (7)
"You mean we defeated him," said Billy.
"Sure," said Damian. "Anyway, we've been wandering the Blue Land. Our life would have been much easier had we landed in the Green Land." Billy just chuckled.
"Ah, it looks like my second patient is up and well again. I'm very glad." Dr. Lowena was a lizard-humanoid, green, and barely five feet tall. She looked very kindly, at least, reminding Billy of the little old ladies that spent time at the library or at the stores. "My daughter should be here shortly, she's getting one of the Green Lanterns from your sector."
"How would she get here so fast? It's a 14-sector difference," said Billy.
"There's a technique on this world called instant transmission. Only the warrior class here can learn it. Green Lantern Pitarra can use it to travel from one place to another in a blink of an eye," said Damian. "Isn't that right, Dr. Lowena?" Billy was amazed.
"Indeed, young Robin. Now, are you two hungry?" Billy was ravenous. Damian was too. The two boys followed the doctor to her kitchen. The food smelled much better than anything they had ever smelled on this world. "I'm sure that you've struggled with cooking the food on our world the right way. I wouldn't want you to have a bad impression of our world from your time in the Blue Land." Billy and Damian ate the food. This food was very good. The grains were fried in some sort of oil and salted. The water in the Blue Land tasted like prunes; the water in the Green Land tasted like strawberries.
"I'm home, Mother." The Green Lantern Pitarra entered the house. She was a younger looking version of her mother, except she wore the Green Lantern Corps' uniform. With her was a very relieved Kyle Rayner, the black haired and green eyed youngest Green Lantern from Sector 2814, friend of both Dick and Wally. Kyle rushed over to Billy and Damian.
"Oh, I'm so glad to see you guys," said Kyle, smiling brightly. He was truly happy to see Billy and Damian. He looked like he wanted to hug them both, which would be a strange reaction for Kyle. "I was the closet to Pitarra's position, so I came. I've already called John and you are being awaited at the Watchtower. Can you take all three of us at once?" The question was directed, of course, to his fellow Green Lantern.
"Of course, I can, Lantern Rayner." Lowena passed Billy his backpack to him through the doctor's telekinesis.
"Thank you very much, Dr. Lowena," chorused Billy and Damian, who was very grateful for the doctor's help (after all, they could not forget their manners). Pitarra held out her hands for the two boys to take, which both Damian and Billy did and Kyle placed a hand on her shoulder. They were finally going home and they couldn't be happier.
Within moments, Billy saw the familiar faces of various Leaguers and Titans and the outlay of the Watchtower Command Center. Damian was first to let go of Pitarra's hand and Billy followed suit. Kyle thanked Pitarra for her help. She assented and then promptly disappeared back to her sector. Suddenly, Billy was engulfed in a big hug, smashed together with Damian, in a Superman hug.
"I'm so glad you're safe," said Superman. The hugs did not stop with Superman. Damian was immediately grabbed up by Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl, Black Bat, Spoiler, and Huntress. Billy was grabbed up by Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Flash, Lanterns Hal and John, J'onn, and Hawkwoman. They were all fussing over Billy and Damian's ragged appearance. Billy just let Dinah examine his hair as Flash commented on the state of his clothes and smell.
Then, just as the groups crowded around Billy and Damian, they separated as Batman appeared from the corridor. (He probably was in Gotham and just heard the news). Billy was ready for the chewing out that Batman was going to give to both him and Damian. Damian looked stoic at the appearance of his father.
In a rare display of affection, Batman went over to both boys and ruffled their hair. Then, he promptly banged their heads together, causing several chuckles and laughs in the crowd.
"The next time you two decided to be complete idiots on a mission, you can forget about being active as Robin and Captain Marvel and I don't care what either of you say," said Batman, in his gravelly voice. "For now, you have to apologize to Static's team for causing so much terrible. Then, you're both suspended for at least two weeks as you have to catch up with your schoolwork. And Billy, you have to make it up to Superman for handling problems in Fawcett City while you were gone. Your training will be taken over by Wildcat for the time being. The training will be done together, until I'm sure that you two won't get into an argument in a middle of a mission again." (8)
"Yes, sir," said Billy. It could have been worse; Batman was not yelling, he was more scolding them.
"Yes, Father," said Damian.
"Now, let's get you two cleaned up and fed properly," said Diana, before Batman decided to add more restrictions on Damian and Billy.
"That's sounds good," said Billy. As they followed Wonder Woman to the showers, Billy addressed Billy. "I was right. He suspended us."
Damian scoffed. "And training with Wildcat will be pure torture. Father sure knows how to punish someone." No one commented on the two boys cordial behavior until Flash spoke up.
"I thought Static said those two hated each other?"
Bruce was genuinely happy that Damian was friends with Billy. Billy was a good influence on Damian, in terms of morality, and Damian was a good influence on Billy concerning training. Wildcat was very impressed during the month (Batman extended the boys' training together an extra two weeks), stating that Damian and Billy will one day put both Batman and Superman's partnership to shame.
Damian had always been sorely in need of friends near his own age; it always worried him that Damian took no interest in anyone outside of the Bat-family, but at least with Billy, Damian could get human interaction outside the family. After a month of the boys being home, Bruce had Wayne Enterprises' business in Fawcett City, so he asked if Damian wanted to come and go visit Billy. Damian agreed. You would think that spending nearly two months together would have made the two boys sick of each other, but it was not the case with Billy and Damian. They both kept an eye on the other.
"So, what are you and Billy going to be doing," asked Bruce. Since Fawcett was a few states over from Gotham, they took Wayne private jet.
"Billy was insistent that he take me to his favorite diner. Apparently the root beer floats are amazing," said Damian, blankly. Even though, Damian was acting nonchalant about it, Damian was happy to hang out with Billy while Bruce was at his other job (The Job was Batman, The other job was Wayne Enterprises).
"Sounds more fun than a business meeting," said Bruce. He liked that he could act more like a dad with Damian, when the occasion came up. Many times with all the children he had mentored and taken in, he always felt that he cheated them out of an actual childhood. Damian's mother's actions concerning their son didn't help his conscience. If he had known about Damian when he was a baby, there was no way that he would have let Talia keep him. A part of him will always love Talia, especially since she gave him Damian, but recently she's becoming more and more like her father.
When they reached Fawcett City, Bruce insisted that he drop off Damian at the meeting spot that Billy picked out. Damian relented and they took a car that Bruce had stored at a parking garage near Fawcett City Airport. Billy wanted to meet at the shopping district's Macy's Department Store. Both Bruce and Damian knew that Billy wanted neither Wayne near where Billy lived, which was the worst part of town. It would just avoid another argument between Bruce and Billy.
Billy dressed as usual in his jeans, sneakers and red sweatshirt, albeit newer looking ones (Dinah practically dragged Billy to the store for new clothes). Bruce was in his business casual attire and Damian dressed in jeans, expensive sneakers, a shirt and a leather jacket (blame Jason's influence). He also wore sunglasses, as if no one would noticed that he was Damian Wayne.
"You two, don't get into any trouble," said Bruce, which meant that they were not to do anything superhero-related unless Captain Marvel was needed as normal.
"Nice to see you too, Mr. Wayne," said Billy, grinning cheekily. Bruce refrained from glaring at Billy. Damian smirked. Those two…Bruce departed for his business meeting. "So, you ready for some of the best ice cream ever?"
"We'll see," said Damian. Fawcett resembled Metropolis and New York City, more than Gotham. Then again, Gotham was a whole different type of city than any other city in the world. Damian followed Billy down the street. Billy stopped in front of a very quaint-looking building. "This is it?"
"Yep, this diner has been here since the 1920s," said Billy, entering the building. Inside it was like Damian stepped into a big flashback. It may have been around since the 1920s but it had a 1940s feel to it (9). Billy grinned at Damian as he sat at the counter on a barstool. Damian shook his head and sat on a barstool next to Billy. "The food's good but the ice cream is the selling point." Damian picked up the menu and browsed it quickly.
The owner, a young woman in her mid-twenties, appeared before them, with a notebook in hand. "Hi, Billy, long time no see. And you brought friend, that's good. What can I get you, boys?"
"Cheeseburger with the works, root beer and fries," said Billy, automatically.
"Ah, good choice and for you," asked the owner, addressing Damian.
"The same is fine," said Damian. The owner left to give the order to the cook. "So, you come here much?"
"When I can. Helen likes to eat here, a lot, so I have to pick up her food order. WHIZ radio is just another block away," said Billy, simply. He was very glad that Bruce had a talk with the owner of WHIZ radio and saved his job. There were some questions he could not answer that would make any sense. His school thought he was sick in the hospital for two months, so most of his classmates avoided him like he carried the plague. Then the door to the diner opened again and in came a gaggle of school age boys. Billy immediately attempted to hide behind Damian, which was funny because Damian was smaller than Billy. Damian gave him a funny look. "People from school." Damian nodded. He knew that Billy had a problem with bullies.
"Here you go, boys," said the owner, serving them their plates of food and their root beers. She left to take the orders of the boys that just came in. One of them complained loudly to turn on the television that was located above the bar. The owner merely assented.
"Please tell me that you show these losers up," asked Damian, discreetly appraising the boys with disdain.
"Well," started Billy, "only in schoolwork. Sports…that's another story."
"Let me guess, you have to pretend you've got two left feet," asked Damian. He had to go easy during PE on the other children, too. It was pain.
"It's not so bad," said Billy, putting ketchup on his cheeseburger. Damian didn't reply. Billy knew that Damian kind of understood that Billy could in no way stand out too much from the crowd. The news was on the television and both boys listened to the running commentary on recent superhero activities. Despite this particular newsperson' obvious distaste for superheroes in general, he praised heroes that killed their enemies. Damian and Billy both did not like that. The owner must have seen the anger in their eyes as they devoured their burgers.
"I can change the station if you want," suggested the owner to Billy and Damian. Damian was going to ask her to put on Daily Planet news, when one of the boys in the booth said that they were going to talk about Captain Marvel's appearance at another charity event. "After then…?"
Damian gave Billy a look. Like the Flash, Superman and several other heroes that were in the public's eyes often participated in charity events that supported many notable organizations. "Do you even have time for that?" Damian asked him in a whisper.
"Barely," replied Billy. He was still backed-up on homework, he had training sessions with Wildcat, Black Canary and Superman; he also had Captain Marvel duties—protecting Fawcett and going on JL missions, added to his job at WHIZ radio for two hours every day after school. He had a full schedule. Billy felt that he should try to help as many people as possible, even if it was just attending a charity event to help raise money.
"Man, I don't know how you idolize Captain Marvel," asked another boy to the one that stopped the owner from changing the channel. "He's a lamer version of Superman." Billy had heard that one before. He just shook his head. He didn't care what people felt about him, that much.
"He's not." It was a weak retort.
"Please Captain Marvel is a goody-two shoes, man. Now, Batman is cool. Wish he could be Fawcett's hero instead of Gotham."
"Batman's cool, but he's got to either change Robin's outfit or get rid of the sidekick for good," said another. Damian frowned. It was not his fault that Dick was the ten year old that originally designed the Robin suit; color schemes were not young Dick's strong suit. And Damian was not a sidekick, he was Batman's partner.
"Let it go," said Billy, quietly to Damian, who looked ready to punch someone, although only someone that knew Damian well could tell that he was about to go off on someone.
"Hey, it's Billy Batson from school," said another boy. Billy wanted to curse. "Wait, isn't that other boy Bruce Wayne's son Damian Wayne? How does a loser like Billy know a rich kid like Damian?" The owner saw the tension building in Billy and Damian and quickly intervened.
"No name calling," said the owner, "Or you can leave." The other boys quickly shut up. "Now, Billy, will you and your friend want some ice cream?" Billy ordered a sundae and Damian ordered a bowl of chocolate ice cream. When they arrived, Billy immediately dug it.
"Best. Ice. Cream. Ever," he said. Damian rolled his eyes and took a bite of his ice cream.
"I concede, you're right," said Damian, sighing. It was the best ice cream he had ever tasted. "Miss, do you sell containers?"
"I sure do," said the owner. Damian would have got it from his siblings and father if they didn't get any ice cream, especially if Damian thought it was that good. He order a pint of their favorites for each member of his family. The owner was pleased and Billy grinned at Damian. "So, you two like superheroes huh?"
"Sure," said Billy. "My favorite's Superman."
"Mine's Batman," replied Damian.
"Oh, really? What about the super-women," asked the owner, who worked on ringing of Billy and Damian's bill. She was only making small talk, it was part of getting to know the customers and building a bond, so they came back.
"Wonder Woman," replied Damian.
"Black Canary," replied Billy.
"I think Robin's awesome," said Billy, grinning.
"Captain Marvel's alright," replied Damian, slightly smiling. She placed the bill for the two meals, the two sodas, and the ice cream on the counter between the boys. You know that moment when you're out at dinner with your friends or distant relatives and there's that moment of question who's paying and how much. Damian was faster than Billy and grabbed the bill before him.
"But…" Billy started to object.
"Shut up," said Damian, blankly, slight smile gone as if it were a figment of one's imagination. "I know you hate it, but I ordered the most stuff and I invited you out." Billy sighed. Damian paid the woman and the two boys left, Damian carrying his bag of ice cream. "Father should be done shortly. It's only some company signing over everything to Wayne Enterprises."
"Of course," said Billy, shaking his head. Suddenly, a pretty blonde woman in a pink power suit walked up to Damian and Billy. Billy nearly groaned. He liked Miss Helen from the radio but she was very aggressive. There was a point that journalists should not cross between being brazen and being aggressive, it was why he liked Lois Lane's reporting.
"Billy, I didn't know you knew Damian Wayne," said Helen. Billy sent an apologetic look to Damian, who's been hassled by reporters before. "First Captain Marvel and now the young heir of Wayne Enterprises. You are full of surprises, Billy."
"Uh, Helen, love to talk but I've got to get Damian back," said Billy, grabbing Damian's arm and pulling him away from the woman. Damian was all too glad to get away. Helen looked disappointed but seemed to understand. She waved goodbye to the two boys as they walked off. "See you Monday, Miss Helen."
"Nice," said Damian. They walked to the office building of the company that Bruce was buying out to wait for him to come out of the building.
"She's a handful for adult sometimes," said Billy, shaking his head. Suddenly there was an explosion several blocks away. Billy sighed. Damian knew that Billy had to go and since he was only allowed to work as Robin in Gotham as part of his punishment for worrying his father terribly, Damian could not go especially since Bruce just walked out of the building.
Billy waved goodbye to the Wayne father and son and ducked into one of the alleyways. Soon, Captain Marvel was zooming to the explosion.
"Father," Damian asked.
"Come on," said Bruce. "Let's suit up." They were not just going to sit back and let Captain Marvel do all the work when they were town.
That evening on the news was the report that Captain Marvel, Batman and Robin stopped Dr. Sivana from destroying the Fawcett City Science Museum and that Captain Marvel worked very well with the Dynamic Duo.
Billy merely laughed when he saw the newspaper the next day. If it were not for Robin sneaking into one of the robots to reprogram it to attack the other robots, it would have taken Batman and Captain Marvel longer to defeat Dr. Sivana. He and Damian made a good team.
In Gotham, Dick was on the phone with Tim, who was on the West Coast with the Titans. "I don't think we have to worry about Damian being a little anti-social terror anymore."
"Aw, isn't cute," said the blonde haired Stephanie Brown, sitting next to Dick, into the phone. She was looking at the picture in the paper of Captain Marvel, Batman and Robin that the photographer managed to take in the middle of the battle.
"Cute," replied Dick and Tim, blankly. Suddenly, Stephanie and Dick were smacked with pillows courtesy of Damian, who resented being called cute, especially he resented that his friendship with Billy was being called cute. It was not cute, not at all. He was ten and a boy, not a puppy.
Bruce was sitting in the Bat-Cave, sighed, when he heard the shouts for him to come upstairs. Really, now…he wouldn't have it any other way, even as he broke up the three way play fight between Dick, who really should know better, Stephanie, who should know better and Damian, who should know better. All the while Tim was cackling through the phone at the sounds of home. Children…
Ending Notes (Really these are here for my purposes):
(1)- The Tournament of Shadows (which is sent several months prior to this story) is something in my mind canon, unless I missed something (after a while things start blending together, you know what I mean?). All the heroes under the age of eighteen (except Captain Marvel because no one outside the superhero community knows he's actually a kid) were kidnapped by the Brotherhood of Evil and sold to Mongul for his amusement, rescued by the Green Lantern Corps and a team of Justice League members.
(2) Everyone, outside the superhero community, assumes that all the Robins and Batgirls are Batman's kids. They aren't so far off. On another note, everyone, outside the superhero community, assumes that Batwoman and Batman are an item. They are so far from the truth there.
(3) The incident happened two years prior to this story and it is kind of a version the events leading up to a version of Blackest Night, which hadn't happen in my mind canon yet.
(4) Wally West is the Flash (he's the Flash that I grew up with. Love Barry but I love Wally more). Barry is retired from being Flash but still works as a forensic scientist. When necessary he comes out of retirement. Don and Dawn, Barry and Iris' twins, are the Tornado twins. They are about 14 years old (though like Jai, Iris, Bart and Jenni, they looked like teenagers when they were toddlers until their bodies caught up with their powers). Wally is married to Linda Park and they have the twins Jai and Iris West. Iris is the second Impulse. Jai is powerless at the moment. Both Iris and Jai are 2 but look like they're 10 or 11. Bart, Don's son from the future, is Kid Flash. Dawn's daughter from the future Jenni is also in this time period and she's XS, but she's a couple years older than the teenage Bart. Jay, the first Flash, and Max Mercury, the first Speedster both mentor the younger members of the Flash family.
(5) Jason Todd, the second Robin and Red Hood, had a brief time where he was at odds with the Bat-family when he first returned to Gotham, especially when Bruce was gone and Dick was temporarily Batman. It had been a long process but he's slowly returned to the family. Joker, however, is still a bone of contention between Jason and Bruce. On a side note Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are like daughters to Bruce, especially Cassandra who is the daughter of Lady Shiva.
(6) Sometimes Mary Batson is the younger sister of Billy, sometimes she's the older sister of Billy, and sometimes she's the twin sister of Billy. I went with them being twins. They were separated after their parents died because of the scheming jerk of their father's brother. They were supposed to go to their mother's brother, Uncle Dudley (in my version, he is this) and the twins' parents left enough money to care for them. Their father's brother stole the twins' inheritance, Uncle Dudley went missing, Billy was placed in an orphanage and Mary disappeared from Billy's life.
(7) I made up Trixsel specifically for this story. The beings of this world speak with their minds only. They have no voice boxes as we know them. It's not really important in the scheme of my mind canon. I was thinking that this world was based off the world that Goku from Dragonball Z spent a year on after defeated Freezer/Frezia. Instant transmission is the coolest technique ever and it's a convenient plot device and I shamelessly borrowed it from DBZ. The power of fanfiction.
(8) If you don't know who Wildcat is, he is one of the best boxers/fighters in the DC world. He's a member of both the Justice Society and the Justice League, in my mind canon. He trained Dinah, Bruce, Selina, Helena and others in hand-to-hand combat, so you know that he's that good. Even so, Wildcat only trained the previously mentioned when they were young adults. Billy and Damian are most definitely in for it; he will not go easy on them because they are so young.
(9) This is the last one of these, I promise. I based the diner that Billy and Damian went to on the old time ice cream parlors. Where I live, during the 1940s and earlier there were at least 3 ice cream parlors on the main street through town. I just made it a diner because well, hamburgers and ice cream are awesome.