Title: Not Yet Gone But Already Forgotten (part II in an in-progress work)
Author: Amy of Amelia From A Fairy Tale
Category: Young Justice (cartoon)
Premise: Because Roy was in the same scenario that Rob, KF, and Aqualad were in “Independence Day”, but no one came to save him. Spoilers for Auld Acquaintance.
Continued from part I, which I posted earlier today. I’m posting this as I write it. This part deals with Roy waking up. Still in-progress, and killing me with all the feels.
The Young Justice Team – it’d grown a bit over the past few months, but all of the original members were still there – stood still, frozen, before a single pod in the new Cadmus facility. Match, in the other pod, was forgotten even by Superboy in favor of the soul imprisoned in the one of their main focus.
The original Speedy. Roy Harper, not Red Arrow, not the clone that they’d realized had been living in his place for the past three or so years. Red Arrow – or, as he’d taken to calling himself now, Arsenal – had held true to his promise to find the young man from whom Cadmus had cloned him.
He was missing an arm.
A deceivingly white, pristine bandage was wrapped carefully – precisely, showing that there’d been no struggle – around the stump at the elbow. Artemis knew that unless the League had some frickin’ sweet tech hidden up their sleeve (well, odds are they did), Roy Harper would never again shoot a bow and arrow. A pang of sorrow rose in her chest, and she discreetly clutched her right arm, feeling both incredibly fortunate and overwhelmingly (there was absolutely nothing whelming about this) unworthy at the same time. She’d gotten a spot on the team because Arsenal – Red Arrow at the time – had refused it, striving for admittance to the League due to his Cadmus programming. She was fairly certain that she’d never have gotten on the team if the original Roy hadn’t been kidnapped and cloned. The young female archer felt crushing guilt for taking his deserved place on the team.
Kaldur, ever the calm and level-headed leader, broke out of his shock first.
“Superboy,” he ordered, “Take the pod. We will not release him until we are sure of his medical condition.” Connor looked rightly unsettled at leaving Speedy in a pod that he was all-too-familiar with, but carefully (with skills and restraint that he’d spent the better part of a year mastering) disconnected the top and bottom from all the wires, then gently lifted it up and hefted it onto his back, afraid of causing the frozen archer any damage. A year ago, the clone would probably have just ripped the pod from the ground; causing God knows how much damage to the teenager contained within. Training with Superman had most definitely done wonders for the Kryptonian clone.
They hadn’t the slightest idea how long-term freezing could affect Speedy. Taking him back to League first for a thorough medical examination would be best, though they would have to hurry – without being attached to any machines, Roy was already beginning to defrost.
“Wondergirl…” Kaldur sent a pointed look towards Match. They could not allow the Light to retain such a powerful weapon; Match would have to be brought back to headquarters, where the League would decided his fate. The only other member of the team with super-strength, Wondergirl went through the same process that Superboy had with Roy, and managed to balance Match on her back with a little help from M’gann’s telekinesis.
“We must hurry,” Aqualad urged, “It is vital that we return to base before either defrost completely.”
Moving as fast as they could, the team maneuvered their way through the now-empty base (though it had been hell to get it like that) towards the Bioship. Luckily, Cadmus hadn’t moved too far from its original base in DC, so trip back to the Hall of Justice and then up to the Watchtower was short. Even with the original shock of League members present on the orbiting headquarters, the team still managed to get both frozen specimens into the med bay before they completely defrosted. Match, however, had already begun to twitch, and Batman quickly hooked him up to a machine they’d long had prepared in order to keep him frozen until they had the situation under control. Speedy was hooked up next, and after he pushed everyone but a vital few out of the room, Batman got to work on checking his vitals and examining his condition.
“They found Roy?!”
Green Arrow’s desperate, hopeful shout carries over the cool, feminine voice of the zeta tube announcer. It’d been less than fifteen minutes since Robin alerted Ollie to the fact that they’d finally found Speedy, and the team suspected that the reason he hadn’t gotten there immediately was most likely due to something holding him up.
Kaldur and Superboy stood in unison, carefully blocking the archer from dashing into the med bay before Batman could finish his prognosis.
“Batman has yet to complete his examination. It would not be prudent to interrupt him before his work is complete,” Kaldur spoke to the archer, years of practice from his friendship with Arsenal showing in his careful patience and calming tone. Luckily, Ollie seemed to understand the severity of the situation, and settled for pacing furiously back and forth and wearing a hole in the polished floor instead of rushing in as originally planned.
Eventually his pacing slowed and he settled for nervously bouncing his leg as he sat in a chair, anxiously waiting any news. M’gann and Zatanna, both exhausted from the mission, had dozed off, though judging by the way their eyes flickered open every couple minutes at a particularly loud sound, they were far from asleep.
Batman emerged from the med bay what could have been minutes or hours later, Manhunter at his side. The white slits of his cowl rolled over the team, silently cataloguing each member’s presence, before settling on Ollie’s anxious face. He apparently decided that he could speak of Speedy’s condition in front of the team, and began talking.
“Barring his arm, Speedy looks to be in perfect physical condition, and appears to not have aged from the time of his…freezing.”
“His arm? What happened to his arm?” The team members all looked at each other, none wanting to speak to Ollie of the irreversible damage Cadmus had done. Batman had no such qualms.
“His right arm has been severed at the elbow.” Ollie, having jumped up to hear Batman’s prognosis, paled and quickly sat back down. As an archer, he knew better than most of them what exactly the implications were of losing an arm. Archery aside, it was highly unlikely that Roy would even be able to rejoin the heroes as a fighting member on the field.
In Ollie’s silence, Robin stepped forward. “Batman, you said that Speedy hasn’t aged…?”
A curt nod in response. “Affirmative. He appears to be physically fifteen years old, the age he was at the time of his kidnapping.”
“Will…will he be okay?”
Batman rested his gaze on his fellow hero for a moment, before answering, “It looks to be that way. J’onn has made sure that any possible bugs laid in his mind at Cadmus have been removed, and he should awake as soon as he has completely defrosted. Physically, he is fine, with the exception of missing an arm. Mentally…we will have to wait until he awakes before drawing any conclusions.”
Again, a moment of silence as the group dwelled upon the possibilities that remained unspoken.
“Can we see him?” Robin queried. He’d realized long ago that they couldn’t pinpoint the exact time that Speedy had been kidnapped and cloned, so it was entirely possible that he was the only one of the original four sidekicks to actually know the teen. It was a sad possibility that he – and Kaldur especially, as Roy, Arsenal, whatever you wanted to call him was the Atlantian’s best friend – all had to face.
“No. Green Lantern and I will deal with this alone until we have a firm handle on this situation. Once we determine Speedy’s stability and how much he remembers, then we’ll see.” The team hung their heads, though they’d all been expecting the answer. Knowing better than to argue with or disobey Batman on this particular point, the team trudged off in hopes of finding a somewhat comfortable place to sleep on the orbiting satellite. There was no point in returning home at this point just to sleep, and as it was summer, it wasn’t like they had school to worry about.
Sometime later, in what Robin assumed to be the wee hours of the morning (it was rather difficult to tell in outer space), he was awoken by Batman’s barely-perceptible footsteps approaching him. Eyes snapping open, the acrobat sat up before his mentor could even reach the sofa on which he’d fallen asleep.
A wordless look was all he needed to know that Roy had regained consciousness, and the interrogation had been completed. Without a word, Robin stood and silently made his way out of the darkened room and into the bright hallways of the Watchtower. Not a word was spoken between the two, unless one counted the meaningful glance the two shared before Batman allowed his ward to enter Roy’s room.
The teen had been moved from the pod the team had brought him in, and was now lying on a hospital bed and hooked up to several machines. He was pale from years without sunlight, something that apparently being practically frozen in time could prevent. It was odd, like taking a step into the past. This Roy was three years younger, and it showed. He had less muscle mass, he was more lanky (he hadn’t quite grown into his body yet, an awkward phase that Wally himself was presently struggling to overcome), and he just looked…younger.
Curious blue eyes met his own masked ones, and widened when they came to rest upon the R that adorned his breast.
Oh. Wow. Even his voice was younger. If this hadn’t been such a serious occasion, Robin would have laughed because this Roy hadn’t yet finished puberty, and it was blatantly obvious in his voice.
“Yeah,” the acrobat replied awkwardly, taking a cautious step forward into the room. He glanced behind him, but Batman wasn’t there. “Have they explained-?” He began, unsure of how exactly to ask this question. He didn’t have to finish, though, as Roy’s face told him all.
“Yeah.” There was a pregnant pause as Robin quietly slipped into a chair beside Speedy’s bed. “So…three years, huh?”
The ghost of a smile passed across Robin’s face. “Yeah. Strange, isn’t it?” A hollow laugh escaped Speedy’s lips.
“Tell me about it. Last time I saw you, you were like ten. You haven’t grown much, but still…” Robin jokingly squawked in indignation.
“I have too grown! I just haven’t hit my growth spurt yet!” Another laugh escaped Speedy’s lips, this one a little more realistic. Robin’s smile, in turn, held a little more depth. The laughter trailed off, and it was quiet again for a long moment. “So, Batman briefed me on what’s changed…but can you brief me on what’s changed?” Roy smiled sheepishly and a bit awkwardly, hoping that Robin would understand his request.
Robin snorted, understanding all too well what Roy was requesting. “A lot. For one, my outfit,” Robin smiled to himself when he saw that his jokes were helping Speedy feel the tiniest bit better about the situation. “Also, we’re not the only two…sidekicks any more. Though, don’t call us that. We’re not sidekicks, and we haven’t been for a long time.”
“Good,” Roy broke in, “I always hated that term.” Robin raised an eyebrow, perhaps Arsenal’s temperament wasn’t that far off from the original Roy’s.
“Well, now there’s Aqualad, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Superboy – I’ll explain that one in a sec –, Artemis, Zatanna, Rocket, Wondergirl, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, Batgirl, Lagoon Boy, and who knows how many others running around that we haven’t discovered yet.” Speedy was silent for a moment, contemplating this rush of information.
"I haven’t met him, but I do remember that Aquaman had taken on an apprentice shortly before…whatever happened.” He fell quiet again, mulling over the new names, “Let me guess,” he began slowly, “Aqualad goes with Aquaman, Miss Martian with Martian Manhunter, Kid Flash with the Flash, Superboy with Superman…ah, Wondergirl with Wonder Woman, Batgirl with…Batman? I have no idea about the others.” He paused. “But seriously, how do Superboy, Wondergirl, and Batgirl work?”
“Ah, well that’s a long story…” Robin smiled, “Where do I begin…?”