The Young Justice: Animated Anonymous Fic Meme

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It's been all over the news all day; someone put two bullets into Richard Grayson's chest. The mention of the family butler goes almost unnoticed, but the fact that the heir to Wayne Enterprises has been killed is on every station. They were driving home from school Friday afternoon, and the entire thing was taped by a passerby.

Each station replays the tape in all its grainy glory: the Rolls-Royce is parked in front of Gotham Academy. The butler opens the back door, Richard turns to wave at someone off-screen, and two bullets to the chest tip him backwards into the car. Three thud into the butler's torso, and he slumps down beside the car.

There isn't any sound.

M'gann winces every time she sees the tape, and thanks every star she's ever seen that Artemis stays after school on Wednesdays. On the one hand, it's a horrible tragedy, seeing a young, bright life cut short, but on the other hand, it is Gotham.

Artemis is still in a bit of shock, though. She's sitting at the table, Wally on one side, Kaldur on her other, clinging to their hands. No one says anything, because no one's quite sure what to say.

“I knew him,” Artemis finally says. “I liked him. He was nice.”

“It will be okay,” Kaldur says, steady as a rock and just as firm in his belief.

“Hey, look at it like this,” Wally says faux-cheerfully. “At least you'll get the day off school?”

His joke falls flat, and even he winces. But she appreciates the effort. “I've just...I know this is a dangerous job we do, and that Gotham is, well, Gotham, but, but I knew him. He smiled at me in the halls. I can't....”

Because, after all, they are still children. It's hard to face your own mortality. Wally's lost people before; he knows the toll this can take. But he's the only one on the team who's faced this. Well, and Robin, but no one really expects Robin to show up for the next few days.

Batman doesn't take kindly to killers in Gotham.

Which is why it's such a surprise when Red Tornado calls them all together for a mission briefing.

They shuffle down the hall, M'gann moving up to hold Artemis' hand. The other girl doesn't acknowledge her, but she does give Megan's hand a quick squeeze.

What's even more surprising is that Superman is waiting for them beside Black Canary.

“I'm sure you've heard the news,” Superman says, and shifts his weight. He's not comfortable with them, or with what he's saying, and it shows. “Bruce Wayne is in a bad situation right now. We're putting you on guard detail.”

Everyone waits for someone else to say something, before Wally finally says, “Er, not to be rude, but why?”

Superman twitches, and Black Canary steps in. “The League is not cheap to maintain, and a great deal of our technological advances come from large companies. The two foremost research and developing corporations in the world are Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp. I'm sure you can see why we'd rather back the former.

“Also, we like to keep this quiet, but Mr. Wayne himself makes substantial donations. He's had trouble with criminals in the past, as I'm sure you're aware, and has a...vested interest in seeing superheros well-outfitted.”
- Show quoted text -

Superboy frowns, starts to raise his hand, looks fleetingly at Superman, and tucks his hand back under the table.

M'gann takes pity on him. “Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by a mugger when he was young. It makes sense that he'd fund crimefighting on the side.”

Superman steps back in. “But if people knew about his donations, he'd be a target, an easy way to get the League's attention.”

“You think someone's figured it out?” Wally asks.

“We don't know,” Superman says, and he starts pacing. “But someone shot his butler, who was pretty much his father, and his young ward. His son. We don't know who and we don't know why. So while we figure it out, you're going to guard him. From everyone.”

It's Artemis who figures out where he's going with this. Artemis, who knows the Wayne story, like all Gothamites do. Who's a little bit stained by life, like all Gothamites are. “Including himself,” she states.

Superman nods, and it slowly dawns on the others what exactly their mission is.

“That's why you're using us. Kids,” Artemis spits. “You think we'll draw his attention, or at least he wouldn't want to put us through that.”

Superboy breaks chunks out of the table where his hands had been. Wally is paler than normal, and Kaldur has a pinched look about him. Artemis shakes her head, and M'gann looks down.

It's a good plan, for all it's so coldblooded. But they all know needs must when the devil drives, and so none of them dare speak against it.

It's a good plan.

None of the children will meet Superman's eyes, and he's quietly thankful for small favors. Black Canary swallows, and there's the bitter taste of bile creeping up the back of her throat.

But it's a good plan.

“Move out,” Superman says.

They put Kaldur and Superboy in coats and ties, and the two boys flank Mr. Wayne whenever he must be in public, and they patrol the interior of the building when he's not. M'gann goes invisible, and she follows him around the house silently, giving him the illusion of privacy. Artemis and Wally take exterior patrols, and none of them ask about Robin.

Mr. Wayne is in the library, brooding over a cup of tea. He's staring into it, and M'gann pities the poor, blameless tea.

She taps into the mental link, and they do a sound-off. “How's everybody?” she asks.

Kaldur's voice says, “First floor secure.”

“Second floor clear. Heading for the third,” Superboy says. No one's gotten much out of him since the briefing, not that they've really tried.

“Clear north,” Artemis reports. She's got the main entrance and the driveway, and she's their primary line of defense.

“East is green and clear, south is forest-y and clear, and west is boring and clear,” Wally drawls, then adds, “I...don't like this place.”

“Me neither,” Artemis seconds.

“I don't like this mission,” Kaldur says. “I don't like being used. I don't like invading on Mr. Wayne's grief. But—“

“—it's a good plan,” they all chorus.

“If I hear that phrase one more time—” Wally starts.

“Won't you sit down?”

Everyone freezes. M'gann snaps back to her own mind, and they watch through her eyes as Mr. Wayne looks right at the invisible floating girl.

“Surely it must be awkward, having to pretend you're not there?”

She lets herself fade back into the visible spectrum, edging sideways into reality. It's a trick she's picked up in order to not scare people. She touches down on the floor, and just kind of stands there.

“Here,” says Mr. Wayne. “Have a cup of tea.”

“Oh,” Megan says, a little flustered. They'd been so preoccupied with their own worries that they'd ended up ignoring the man they were supposed to protect.

“Talk to him!” Artemis hisses. “Say something!”

So she says, “Thank you,” and accepts the cup and saucer he's holding out. She perches on the chair across from him, and stares dubiously at the cup.

“Do you not like tea?” Mr. Wayne asks. “I'm sorry, I didn't think. I can get you something else.” He starts to rise.

“Oh! No, no thank you! Tea is good! Tea is fine! I mean....Well, I've never actually had tea before,” she admits, feeling the heat rise to her face.

He settles back into his chair, and takes a deep breath. His eyes are red, she notes. Red and puffy. She decides he needs distracting. “Can you tell me about the tea?” she asks.

He look considerably startled. “Where are you from that doesn't have tea?”

“Mars,” she answers, smiling weakly.

Mr. Wayne stares at her for a second, then lets out a short bark of laughter. “Of course,” he says, taking a sip of his own tea. “Forgive me.”

“Not at all,” she answers, and cautiously takes her own sip. It's not bad, per se, but it's bitter.

“Some people like sugar or honey in their tea,” Mr. Wayne says, and dips his head. The shadows are back, and she's pretty sure he's remembering how Richard or Alfred took their tea. He pauses, swallows, and continues. “Some people like to add cream, and some few use lemon.”

She can't help making a face at the idea of the bitter being tart, too. He smiles, fleeting, but real. “Let me tell you about the history of tea,” he suggests, and she nods.

His voice is comforting, and he ends up digressing into a rambling monologue. She doesn't mind; the stories he tells are interesting. She adds a little sugar to her cup and discovers she does like tea, after all.

He trails off at some point, peering into his empty cup. “May I get you more water?” she asks, and he sighs and puts the cup down.

“No thanks,” he says. “I think it's a bit past my bedtime.”

He rises, and she stands with him. He absentmindedly leaves the tray on the table, and heads down the hall. M'gann follows on foot, and pauses when they reach him bedroom. “I'll just stay out here,” she says, stuttering a little.

He smiles and thanks her, and then disappears into the room. She stares at the closed door for a minute before renewing the link with her friends.

“I like him,” she admits, floating to sit cross-legged in the air. “He's nice.”

“Sure knows his stuff,” Wally says.

“He did not strike me as suicidal,” Kaldur admits. “Grieving, yes. Repressing, yes.”

“I hate this,” Artemis moans.

“We've just got to last until Batman and the League can find the threat,” M'gann reminds her.

“Orders are orders,” Superboy asks, more than states. It's worse on him, because it's Superman who gave them this mission in the first place.

“Right,” Kaldur sighs. “All right, team. M'gann, Artemis, Superboy, get some sleep. Wally and I will keep on patrol, and wake you in a few hours.”

Over the next few days, they continue to guard Mr. Wayne. He's told them multiple times they can call him Bruce, but it never takes. M'gann calls him Mr. Bruce instead, and it's as reasonable compromise as can be reached. He's polite, if a bit withdrawn. He makes it a point to talk to everyone at least once, as they rotate through duties.

He's quiet the rest of the time, which bothers them a bit. M'gann has seen Mr. Bruce on the news, and Artemis knows all the stories. Bruce Wayne is a playboy and a party animal, not a ghost haunting his own house.

He spends a lot of time in his office doing paperwork when Kaldur's with him. When Superboy's turn comes around, Mr. Bruce makes his way to the gym. He wanders out to the garden, and Artemis relishes in the feel of the sun. He settles in to watch TV in the evening, when Wally's on shift. He flips past all the news, and settles on a documentary about electricity.

It's funny how he seems to know them so well. But it's okay, because, one by one, they start to count him as a friend.

He has this odd habit of talking to himself while working. It's not like he's narrating what he's doing, but just thinking out loud. Maybe it's just that he has a captive audience, but no one really minds.

“Need to keep the onions moving,” he'll say while making lunch. “Sautéing is fairly easy if you pay attention, because onions, oh, you have to get them just perfect, and I have this habit of burning them. Medium heat, a bit of butter, and constant motion. Golden brown, right? Right.”

Or, while going through his files, he'll go on about the responsibilities of a CEO. “It always comes down to the bottom line, doesn't it? You find your goal, make a plan to get there, and be ready to improvise when it all goes to hell. See, this takeover, right here, Fox-Techa Industries started trying to buy them out right before we signed the contract, but if you know what the other guy's goal is, you can usually beat them to it, right? Right.”

He rambles in the gym. “I don't like reps, but gotta keep up the physique, right? But the trick is, I learned this from a trainer I had, you've got to rest a while between sets, let your body adjust, and then go it again. Don't wanna strain something and be housebound, not with a company to oversee, right? Right.”

In the garden, he narrates the history of the manor. “It's an old house, and it has ages of history behind it. The forests, for example, were planted in the 1800's to shade the back lawn, but this location was chosen to be easily defensible, I think. Dunno much about warfare. There's this tunnel that runs from the basement to the graveyard, though, for escapes. Had to put in a gate so people wouldn't try to sneak in. Pretty cool, right? Right.”

He'll get some snacks from the kitchen, and just dwell on the foods. “I don't drink half as much as people think I do, you know. Ginger ale looks a lot like champagne, and is healthy, and not quite so hard on the liver. But this way, I get away with more by pretending to be drunk than actually being in that state. People tend to be more forgiving. Of course, that could just be the money, but in the end, it's all appearances, right? Right.”

They listen and nod, and after a while it just becomes second nature to let his voice soak into their heads. He pulls out all sorts of interesting facts and tells rambling stories, and talking seems to help him deal.

They end up staying the whole week at Wayne Manor. Wally and Artemis continue attending school, returning to take the evening shifts. By the end of the week, M'gann is helping around the kitchen, Superboy joins in the daily workout, Kaldur's helping file the papers, Artemis has learned more than she thought possible about architecture, Wally has a favorite chair, and they each have a bedroom.

It's Saturday when it finally happens.

A Good Plan [4/4]--Version 1

The Manor is starting to feel a bit like home, M'gann muses, floating out of her room and down towards the kitchen. It's a nice feeling.

Only, Mr. Bruce isn't in the kitchen.

Okay. So she checks his bedroom, knocking, then opening the door slowly. But he's not there, nor is he in the gym, or in the garden. “Guys!” she calls out. “Guys, where is he?”

Wally covers the entire estate in seconds. “Don't see him!”

“Here,” Artemis says. “The dining room.”

They're all there in seconds, but Bruce isn't. Instead, Artemis brandishes a note at them.

I've taught you all I can. Thank you for listening, and for trying to help.

I'll see you all again sometime.

“We failed,” Megan says dumbly. “He's gone.”

There is silence.

“What'd we miss, dammit!” Wally cries out. “He was doing fine!”

“We don't know that,” Kaldur realizes. “He always talked about things, not about himself. I have no idea what he was thinking.”

“He taught us all he could?” Artemis says. “When did that happen? I didn't notice any teaching going on!”

Kaldur sighs and says, “We have to report this.”

No one envies him the task, and Superman shows up a few minutes later.

He reads the note, then crumples it in one fist. “Dammit, Bruce!” he hisses. “What were you thinking?!”

“We lost him,” Superboy says, out of the blue. “He made us see him as a person, not a victim. He made us lose him.”

There is no answer to that.

So they go back to Mount Justice, and it seems much quieter than normal. Artemis starts to feel confined, missing the long walks outside, and Megan spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, using all the skills she's picked up recently. Superboy spends a lot of time in the training room, but he remembers to rest, and to drink lots of water. Wally doesn't smile, because he realizes a fake smile would do no good in this situation. Kaldur sets a goal, makes a plan, and brings the team together again.

“Guys,” he says. “I'm worried about Robin.” He's hoping that bonding over a common cause can bring them back together.

“I haven't seen either Batman or Robin since before the attack,” Wally muses.

Artemis shivers. “There's stories on the streets,” she says. “Batman's out for blood and vengeance, and the gossip is that it's because Robin's dead.”

“I don't believe it,” M'gann whispers, but she feels the horrible thread of doubt in her gut, because it makes so much sense.

“Let's ask Black Canary?” Superboy suggests.

They do so. She sits them all down, clasps her hands before her, and when she tells them that yes, Robin is dead, somehow none of them are surprised.

Later, they curl up in front of one of the couches, piling on each other and sharing sorrows and memories.

“S'not fair,” Wally says, wobbly, tired, and all cried out.

“We didn't say goodbye,” M'gann adds, laying her head on Kaldur's arm.

Superboy says quietly, “We never knew his name.”

“We'll remember him as Robin,” Artemis says firmly.

Megan adds, “And we'll remember Mr. Bruce, too.”

“Always,” Kaldur says. The goal was achieved, without too much deviation from the plan, but then, it'd been a good plan.

He can't help thinking that Bruce would approve.

Re: A Good Plan [4/4]--Version 1

brb, crying forever

Re: A Good Plan [4/4]--Version 1

Wow. So Kaldur at least knew that Bruce and Batman were the same.

Re: A Good Plan [4/4]--Version 1

tears of foreverness

Re: A Good Plan [4/4]--Version 1

I first read this fic over at ffnet, and since I've been going through the fill list, I've stumbled on to it again. While I do like the fic overall, this version of the ending always bothered me. Bruce just disappearing was a brilliant move, but I didn't like how the team found out Robin was dead. Apart from the fact that Robin was the first of the child heroes - and thus, his death would be something I assume the League would actually hold in importance, and his life and sacrifices honored - I cannot make myself believe that YJ would not be informed until they come asking themselves. This is his team, and the death of a member is not something the League would just let the rest remain ignorant too - its simply illogical and not something a community of trusted heroes would do.

Sorry for the rant. I loved everything about this fic except this particular ending. :|

A Good Plan [4a/4]--Version 2

That's the day they're finally attacked. A group of guys dressed in black come running through the trees, and Superman just drops on them from absolutely nowhere.

Artemis pauses, bow swung up, and Kaldur keeps his Waterbearers out but close. Then they just sort of stand around and watch, because Superman's got them all.

Artemis sounds the mental alarm, and Wally runs perimeter a few times just to be sure these guys were alone.

Kaldur gathers up the groaning goons, and Artemis sets to tying them tightly. They both nod to Superman, but neither one want to meet his eye or ask just what the hell he thinks he's doing. Superman carts the thugs over to the side door, where Megan and Mr. Bruce are waiting.

“Hello, Bruce,” Superman greets, dropping the guys in the dirt.

Mr. Bruce raises an eyebrow and gives him a look.

There's a strained silence until Bruce finally says, “Wrong guys.”


“These aren't the guys we're after,” Bruce says calmly. “This is just a third-party attack capitalizing on the timing for publicity.”

Artemis says through the link, “He can't possibly know that,” and feels the agreement reverberate back. But Superman doesn't question this conclusion at all.

Instead he says, “Well, damn.”

In their shared mind, Wally says, “Wait, what?”

Bruce folds his arms, and Superman grins a little. “Oops?” he tries.

Superboy scowls, and the others aren't much happier. They close ranks around Mr. Bruce, letting Kaldur and Superboy take point. Wally flanks left, counterpoint to where Robin should be, and the girls take the back positions.

Superman raises his hands defensively and takes a step back. “Hey, whoa. What's wrong with everyone today?”

“This mission,” Kaldur says.

“The children,” says Mr. Bruce.

“What?” asks Artemis

“No offense to you, understand,” Mr. Bruce supplies. “But your time could have been better spent than babysitting me.”

“Not...really,” Superboy says slowly.

Bruce sighs and drags his hand over his eyes. “Thank you, Superboy,” he says, and then to Superman, “But that still doesn't give you to right to deploy the team on missions. Particularly not redundant ones that mess up their training schedule, or the lives of me and my own, especially since they could not stop me from taking drastic action in the event that it should become necessary. I know you have a brain; please be smart enough not to try outthinking me.”

It's a good thing the threat has already been neutralized, because the team's too busy staring to react to much at the moment. Bruce Wayne is telling off Superman.

Mr. Bruce is telling off Superman,” Wally says in awe, though he remembers to project through their link.

“I thought only Batman could get away with that,” Kaldur agrees.

“You're telling them?” Superman asks out loud, surprised.

“Telling us what?” Wally grumps.

“We're in Gotham,” Kaldur says slowly. “We haven't seen or heard from Batman since we've been guarding Mr. Bruce. Robin's disappeared, and Mr. Bruce is telling off Superman. Could it be...?”

“You don't think--” Artemis starts, but they're interrupted by the other conversation.

“There'd be no living with Dick if I didn't,” Bruce says a bit wryly.

A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

“--holy shit,” Aretmis finishes.

“We've been protecting Batman?” Superboy asks.

“Batman's actually human?” Wally yelps. “And he smiles?”

“It makes sense,” Kaldur throws in. “The way he knew us, and the way he played us, and why we felt so comfortable around him.”

“Does that make Robin Dick Grayson?” Megan asks. “Wait, he got shot—Guys, Robin isn't dead. Right? Someone tell me Robin isn't dead!”

“Breathe,” Kaldur says, and Megan gulps a breath or two, though she's still got unshed tears in her eyes.

Mr. Bruce is watching them all closely, and he notices when their eyes go to M'gann. From there, it's not hard to extrapolate her thoughts. “Dick isn't dead,” he says. “Though he might kill me if he has to hide another week.”

M'gann breathes, and breathes again. “Not dead?” she asks in a small voice, and then throws herself at Mr. Bruce.

He tenses for a moment, but then wraps an arm around her back. Wally's hanging on to his other arm, and Artemis is at his side, and they've all got big bright eyes, so he says it again. “He isn't dead, just in hiding. He's fine.”

Wally gets him around the middle, and Artemis turns her back and sags into his side. M'gann reaches out blindly, and Kaldur pushes Superboy into her grip, then goes to hold Artemis' hands himself.

Bruce looks down at the team, wondering how he'd become the core of the group-hug, and sighs. “He's not dead,” he repeats.

These are his kids, as much as their anyone's, and now they trust him as Batman and Bruce Wayne. They had a bad moment when they thought they lost their friend, but they'll come out stronger for it. Dick will want to invite them over all the time, and he makes a mental note to ask Alfred to superteen-proof the Manor and make up their temporary rooms into real ones.

In the meantime, he explains the plan, quietly and calmly. They're already accustomed to his voice, so they listen. It was simple; they knew a certain group would take a shot at Dick, so the plan was to let them believe they'd succeeded. With victory comes sloppiness, and that would allow Batman to take the whole organization down, instead of just bits and pieces. It was a good plan, except for the bit where Dick and Alfred had to be dead. But now he's got a lead on their headquarters, and he and Robin will be going to take them down tonight. Hopefully, life will return to normal come Monday.

First things first, though.

He looks back up to meet Superman's amused gaze over the heads of his teenagers. “Don't you even,” he says. “Don't you dare.”

Re: A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

Bruce looks down at the team, wondering how he'd become the core of the group-hug, and sighs.

Batman is in a group hug with YJ. I'll have you know I'm grinning like an idiot right now.

Marry me?

Re: A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

Glad you enjoyed it! The team hugs who they want to hug, darn it. I'm happy it made you smile.

I'm afraid I'm already promised to Anon, so...Wait. Huh. How does this work?

Re: A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

Man, between food poisoning and work I was bummed out but this cheered me up something awesome.

OP also had food poisoning and work!!!!

Anyway, I've been feeling crummy all day, and totally wasn't expecting this, but was soooo glad I took the time to look for it! Yay! Everything was wonderful, the triple bonus was AMAZING. Love Bruce Wayne chastising Superman. It's like 20 different kinds of awesome.

Thanks. Really made my day!

I'm sorry you both contracted food poisoning at the same time, though also kind of impressed at the odds. Hope you feel better!

Thanks for prompting this! I was worried about how the different endings would come out, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. Glad to make you guys' days better!

Re: A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

"They're already accustomed to his voice, so they listen."
GROUP HUG! sdlfjlsd

The Version 1 ending kind of made my internal organs shake and shiver, but Version 2 made it all better. I love the Bruce/team bonding, and god, that scene with Bruce explaining tea to M'gann really got to me--Bruce's poise in his grief, M'gann patiently absorbing his stories. And then the rambling/teaching and how well he knows them all and how it all comes crashing down on the team OH GOD. I really needed V2, thank you so much for including it, though I have to say, with his grief so real in the first couple of parts, V1 totally fits. (I just don't want to see it happen in any world so lalalala.)

Loved your Bruce, loved your team, loved this fill.

Re: A Good Plan [4b/4]--Version 2

Ah, a cornucopia of love XD

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