"Here," Talia says, "he's yours. Treat him well, Beloved."
"So this is Father." Damian looks Bruce up and down. "Shall I stab him, Mother?"
"Not right now, my heart," Talia replies.
Bruce's eye twitches. He forcefully stops the slight spasms. "Talia. What."
Talia looks at him. "Adorable, isn't he?" She bends down and presses a kiss to the top of Damian's head. "Listen to your father, Damian. Don't stab him with anything too sharp, and only when he deserves it. But also when he least expects it. We don't want his senses getting dull."
"Yes, Mother," Damian replies. "I have a collection of pocket knives for such an occasion."
"That's my boy."
Bruce's eye is twitching again.
"I want a good name," says Damian, "a name that evokes terror and alarm, that properly expresses the sheer threat of my very presence!"
Bruce considers this. "Alright. Let's go, Stabby."
"I do not think you are taking this seriously enough," Damian says.
"I was perfectly serious," Batman replies. "Watch your left, Stabby."
I've Come To Bargain
"Batman. I understand you're in need of a partner."
Bruce stares down at the child standing in front of him.
Tim gazes back. "Let's negotiate."
"You just stole my tires."
"No, I didn't. It was someone else. I saw him go running that way." The street kid points in a random direction.
Batman crosses his arms over his chest. "You're holding one of the tires right now."
Jason's eyes dart away. ". . . No, I'm not."
"You can't hide it behind your back. I can still see it."
Jason stares at Batman. Then he drops the tire and bolts for it. "Try an' catch me, ya big boob! Or stay there, that's fine too!" he shouts, fleeing down an alley. He makes it all the way to the other end before he literally runs into a big, black, armored chest. He falls back, clutching his face. "Seriously?" he whines, muffled by his hand. "That's not fair!"
"Neither was stealing my tires," Batman responds.
Jason sulks. "You still owe me those, by the way."
"For me not punching you in your bat-berries," Jason replies.
Batman mouths 'bat-berries', then apparently decides to ignore the entire statement. ". . . Are you hungry?"
"For what? Pain? Blood? Someone's grisly remains? My grisly remains?"
"Food. Just food."
Jason pauses. ". . . Yeah, I could go for some of that."
"Hey, I know you. You make people sell their souls."
Tim looks down at the new kid. "What'll you trade for yours?"
Jason purses his lips. ". . . Lemme think about it."
"I want to punch him in the face," says Punchy.
"You want to punch everyone in the face," the Negotiator replies, unperturbed. He stares down steadily at the man that they're questioning, who is currently trying to meld with the alley wall. "You know what we're here for; how about we arrange something? You tell us what we want to know, and Punchy here doesn't get . . . well, you know."
"I'm Punchy," the young vigilante introduces himself, then adds, "That's my name. And also my occupation."
"Cool," Roy breathes.
"You're watching that, huh? Have you gotten to the part where it turns out the hero's half-brother is alive and he finds out that his father is actually an actor that his mother hired to prevent him from finding out the real truth?" Steph asks.
The people of the couch look at her, outraged. "No!" Jason yells. "We haven't! Thanks for that!"
She shrugs. "Well, if you wanna know who his dad really is--"
"We'd rather find out ourselves, thank you, Brown," Damian replies acerbically.
"Sorry, guys. I guess I'm just a big . . ."
"No," Tim groans.
". . . Spoiler." Steph smirks.
Jason throws a pillow at her.
"Why does everything have to be a negotiation with you?" Jason asks, exasperated.
Tim stares at him, pursing his lips.
". . . Yeah, okay. I'll trade you my Skittles for your M&Ms."
"I accept." Tim hands over his packet of candy. When Jason gives him the Skittles, Tim intoned, "Transaction complete."
". . . You're so weird."
"You do your thing, I do mine, Punchy."
"This is Dick. He'll be living with us from now on."
Dick is a small, skinny kid standing beside Bruce, clutching his hand. He looks up at his new siblings with large, sad blue eyes.
"Who do I punch?" Jason asks.
Dick squeaks in alarm.
"He didn't mean you," Tim reassures.
Bruce refrains from pinching the bridge of his nose. "You're not punching anyone, Jason."
Surprisingly, it's Damian who steps forward. "Come, Richard. Let me show you my knives. They will be a source of great comfort," he informs him, "once I show you how to use them."
Bruce hopes Dick hasn't been too traumatized by Bruce's sons yet. "Damian--"
Dick let's go of Bruce's hand. Bruce blinks and glances down at him. He's staring up at Damian, appearing curious. "What kind of knives?" he asks.
It's at this point that Bruce realizes that Dick Grayson will fit right in.
Rose gets Deathstroke a mug for Father's Day. It has 'World's Best Mercenary' written on it. It is Slade's new favorite coffee cup. He doesn't even use it to break someone's head, that's how much he likes it.
"I'm sorry; I can't forgive you." The Flash truly is sorry. He regrets that you've done something that he must take you down for, without hesitation or mercy.
Super Ice Cream
"I'll have two scoops of Rocky Road," says Superman. "Kon, Kara, what do you want?"
"I'll have Maple Walnut," Kara decides.
Kon stares at the wide array of ice cream flavors. "Uh . . . I guess I'll have . . . vanilla?"
"Was that a question?" Kara asks, then changes the subject; Kon is guessing that it was one of those rhetorical questions. "Just vanilla? Again? Konnie, life is about variety! Adventure!" There's a gleam in her eye that makes Kon a little wary. "Explore a little. Try something completely out of the realm of what you would normally get."
Explore? Completely out of the realm of what he would normally get?
Kon takes a spoonful of his ice cream. It had an unpronouncable name but that doesn't mean it's bad, right? Kon feels his doubt grow the longer he stares at it. Finally, he takes a bite. He immediately chokes.
"At least it was adventurous," says Superman. It doesn't help. Kon runs to get relief from the nearest body of water.
Clark and Kara find him floating facedown in the park fountain.
"Here, I brought ice cream. I got you Berry Blast." Hal pauses. "Because you're Barry. And you're a blast. Of goodness. And. Friend stuff."
"That was eloquent," says Barry. "You been hanging out with Bruce lately?"
"How did you know?"
"Because at the last JL meeting, you asked Bats if you should bring anything to the sleepover and he said, 'Just some sanity,' and you said, 'I'll have to see where I can find any'."
"Oh. Yeah. That was fun."
"Oliver, Ollie, imagine this: custard arrows."
Oliver turns to stare at him. ". . . All I can say is: yes."
Oliver shoots a custom-made custard arrow at a fleeing criminal. It hits him in the back of the head, and he hits the ground, covered in custard.
Roy laughs. Oliver savors the moment.
"Oliver." Dinah's tone is not amused. "Roy."
"Dinah, come on," Oliver pleads. "Let it go just this once. This was a dream come true for me. Please. Dee. Dinah. Dee-Dee."
"Well, I was going to," Dinah says, "but then you called me Dee-Dee."
"Wha-- Roy! Come ba--"
Robin sparkles up at Batman as he hands over a baseball bat with the Batman insignia on it. "Here. This is for you. I thought you should have a bat theme."
Batman stares down at him. "I already have a bat theme."
"I know," says Robin, "but can't you have two bat themes?" He smiles at him. "Just for tonight. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it."
Batman slowly reaches out and takes the baseball bat.
He keeps the bat.
"Hey, Rayner," Guy shouts, even as he plows a huge glowing green fist into a group of aliens, "give us some music we can fight to!"
"Music? Okay," says Kyle. He conjures up a record player, of all things, and sets a constructed disk playing.
Guy pauses in the midst of kicking a large, snarling creature in the face. "What the hell is this? I said music we can fight to! Is this opera?"
Kyle's reply is muffled by the small army of aliens that have dogpiled on top of him.
"I was thinking maybe rock music, none of this prissy stuff," Guy grumbles.
The aliens are suddenly thrown outward from Kyle, in perfect time to the opera singer's alto.
"You told me to pick the music," Kyle responds. "You don't get to complain if you don't like it."
"I'm a lean, green fightin' machine," Hal sings as he throws a sucker punch. "Goin' mano-a-ring-o 'gainst evil's force, look out for my light, beware my power, it's greater than your might!" He laughs in the middle of sending a wave of green through the enemy attackers. "They shoot, they score, watch out, it's the Green Lantern Corp!"
"I have to wonder what we were thinking when we let humans into the Corp," says a Guardian of Oa.
"You must admit, that song does carry a certain appeal," responds his companion.
"I must admit to nothing."
The other Guardian shrugs and starts humming to the tune of the Corp's new theme song.
"Goin' mano-a-ring-o 'gainst devil's force," Guy sings under his breath.
"Guy," John says, "I've been hearing that song all week, and I swear, if I hear one more verse . . ."
"What song? Hal's song?" Guy scoffs. "I wouldn't sing that. Hal's a moron."
"Well, that's one thing you two have in common," John replies dryly.
"Here," Robin says, handing the Penguin a clip-on stuffed toy animal.
"This is a parrot," Penguin says.
"Yeah. Does that mean you don't want it?"
Penguin stares. Then he shrugs and takes the clip-on parrot.
He's wearing it the next time Batman and Robin bust him. Robin grins brightly as he takes down his operation. Of course, that's not any different from usual, but Penguin figures there's an extra sparkle in those eyes-- no matter than he can't really see them behind the white lenses of the domino mask he wears. Penguin just knows these things.
The Winning Answer
"Riddle me this: how many bats does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" Riddler asks, twirling his cane.
Stabby smirks. "A butler."
"A--" Riddler pauses. "What?"
He never gets his answer, as he's tackled in that moment by Punchy.
Intelligence (Or Lack Thereof)
"I dunno if I want to be called Red Arrow or Arsenal," Roy says, torn.
"Red Arsenal? Arsenal Arrow? Arrow Arsenal?" Oliver suggests.
Roy pauses, struck. "Wait . . . I've got it!" He smiles widely. "RedArse."
Oliver gapes at him. Finally, he closes his mouth, only to open it again. "Roy . . . that is . . ." He beams. ". . . genius!"
"No. You are not going out and calling yourself RedArse."
"But, Dinah!" Roy gapes at her as if he can't believe she doesn't like it.
"No. Just. No, Roy."
"Are you ready? Okay, here it is: RedArse." Roy waits in anticipation as the other person on the end of the phone pauses.
"Roy. That is an incredibly stupid name." Roy sags, until Jason speaks up again. "It suits you. You should use it."
Jason is a good friend.
"I told Jason. He liked it," Roy says.
"I knew I liked him for a reason," Oliver replies.
"I am Koriand'r of Tamaran. You may call me Kori or Starfire."
"Cool. I'm RedArse." The red-haired male grins proudly.
Kori is not sure what a RedArse is, but clearly it pleases this human to be called such, so she smiles back. "I like it."
"I love you," Roy responds reflexively.
Slade has an entire row of cups from his children, all with the same theme printed on them. 'World's Best Mercenary'. '#1 Mercenary'. 'Mercenary of the Year'. 'Save Yourself an Incompetent Workforce, Hire a Mercenary'. 'Question: How Many Mercenaries Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb? Answer: It Depends How Much You're Willing to Pay For It.'
Shadow to Meadow
"Shadow is an appropriately ominous name," Damian suggests.
"Appropriate for whom, Stabby?" Tim responds.
"How about Black Bat?" Barbara offers.
"Swooping Justice!" Steph exclaims.
"Blackbird?" Dick gives his two cents.
"What is it with you and bird names?" Tim says.
"Silent But Deadly?" Jason adds. Barbara snorts and whacks him with the back of her hand. He pretends like it hurt, rubbing his arm and giving her a wounded look before it's quickly replaced by a grin.
Tim turns his attention on Cassandra. "What do you want to be called, Cass?"
Cassandra considers. They all wait, watching her. Finally, she concludes, "Flower."
". . ." Tim says.
". . ." Damian says.
". . ." Barbara says.
". . ." Steph says.
"I like it," Dick says.
". . . Flower?" Jason echoes. "You want to be called Flower?"
"Yes. Flower." She looks at them. They stare back.
". . . Alright."
"It's not like it's the weirdest name for someone to have."
"Just look at RedArse," says Jason.
"Literally only you, Roy himself, and Oliver call him that. Kori only does it because she doesn't know better."
"That's what you think," Jason replies cryptically.
Bruce ignores them, gazing into Cassandra's eyes. She gazes back. Finally, he says, "Flower is a good name. It suits you."
She smiles at him.
"Are they having a moment? Ew. Can we go now? I don't want to get any feelings on me."
"Jason." Barbara looks exasperated.
Dick wipes his hand on Jason's shoulder.
"What was that?"
"I just rubbed my feelings on you," Dick explains.
"Gross. Get it off."
"Too late. They're yours now," Dick replies cheerfully.
"Bruce," Jason whines.
Bruce ruffles Jason's hair.
"You do this just to spite me." Jason sulks.
"Yes, Jason. Everything we do is to spite you," Tim deadpans.
"Whatever. Cass is my favorite. Let's go, Flower Girl."
And they leave the cave to terrorize-- er, keep Gotham safe once again.
Crazy Is What You Make It
"You people are crazy," Duke says disbelievingly.
Jason gasps, clapping his hands to his cheeks dramatically. "Oh, no, guys, he knows our secret!"
"It wasn't a secret," says Tim.
"And if it was, it was really poorly kept," Steph adds.
Lobo (The Smaller One)*
"What-t did you d-d-do?" Lobo asks.
"Nothing!" Guy raises his hands. "It just exploded on its own!"
Lobo snorts. "L-Like I'm going t-to b-b-believe that."
"Hey, if you're going to complain, I'm turning this ship around."
"You'd b-bett-ter, because we're heading into th-the f-f-fragging sun!" Lobo grabs the control wheel, straining to bring it 'round.
"Which is also not my fault," Guy is quick to point out.
"Everything is your f-fault." Lobo grunts as the wheel slowly starts turning.
"Now that is a gross exaggeration."
"If th-the boot f-fits. Now get out and s-s-s-start pushing!"
"Just to be clear, you're not the boss of me," Guy says, opening the spacelock.
"No, that would b-be Hal J-Jordan." Lobo starts flipping switches on the control board with one hand while keeping the wheel in place with the other.
"Hey! It's John Stewart, and don't you forget it." Guy flies out. The spacelock closes behind him.
Lobo stares at the massive, flaming star in front of him. Well, at least he's not bored anymore. (it's a stretch, but there's a saying on Earth. 'look on the bright side of life'. somehow, Lobo doubts they meant gazing at imminent death by alien sun.
still better than dying of boredom.)
Lobo the Smaller and Lobo the Bigger
"We did good today, eh, pal?" Lobo thumps the bar counter with his fist, grinning. "First round's on the main man!"
Lobo slides onto a-- relatively clean-- stool. "It's your c-credits."
Lobo is unconcerned. "If I run out, there're always more bounties ta collect."
True. And who is he to argue with free liquor?
"Get me someth-thing s-strong and s-s-spic-cy," Lobo directs to the bartender. Her dozens of sharp teeth make it impossible to speak, but she smirks and serves him a glass with a wink. Looks like his drink isn't the only thing that's strong and spicy. Her biceps are a thing of beauty on all four of her arms.
She hands Lobo a mug with foam overflowing and he says, "Thanks, darlin'." She quirks an eyebrow, and his grin reveals all his teeth. "You like it? Human endearment."
Lobo tosses back his glass. Feels like his tongue nearly burns off, and there's a line of fire down his throat. Now that's the good stuff.
"Cheers," Lobo says. He winks at the bartender. "That's a human thing, too."
"If you love humans so much," someone calls, "Why don'tcha go an' marry one!"
Lobo leaves the bar.
Lobo orders another shot. Behind him, he hears someone's face appendage break and a roar of laughter, then crashing and chaos.
Lobo finishes his drink (no sense in wasting good liquor), then stands up to join in the fight.
Never say a Lobo doesn't know how to have a good time.
Robin grows up. He becomes Taser.
He loves his electrified escrima sticks. Nobody else does, but that can be forgiven, as it's not really possible to appreciate a good Tasering when it's happening to you.
Bonus: Dimension Travel
Tim scrutinizes Red Hood. "You have guns," he observes.
"Yeah, I do. Why so surprised?" Jason asks sardonically.
Tim shrugs. "The Jason I know prefers to use his fists." He purses his lips, still gazing at Jason. "So, what do they call you? Shooty?"
Jason stares at him blankly. ". . . What?"
"Do they call you Shooty? No? You have some nice boots there. Do you like to kick people?"
"What?" Jason repeats.
"That red helmet is pretty distinctive. Does it have something to do with the helmet? Do you have a motorcycle? I'll bet you have a motorcycle. Are you Red Biker Dude? Red Drive-By? Bloody Red Helmet of Death?"
Jason has no words.
"I'll have to tell my world's Jason about this," Tim muses. "He'd love to be called Bloody Red Helmet of Death."