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Culture Shock

Chapter Text

            Superboy, Conner, walks the halls of the cave that Batman has taken to referring to as the “Justice Cave.” The cave is large, with a training ground, kitchen, living space, the television, the entrance, even a medical station, but the whole place seems extremely small. Stifling like the halls of Cadmus, Conner wants to go out and run but the old Batman hadn’t finished his suit and he’d prefer to exercise his powers. So instead he wanders the hallways until coming to the medical facility where Dubbilex is currently unpacking several boxes and updating the equipment. “Cyborg stopped by earlier to drop off the medical equipment and electronic entertainment system. He says that to not have one would ‘be a tragedy to our development and socialization.’” Conner looks unimpressed but that seems to be his default, “I hear Changeling has threatened to bring his entire vid collection to the cave.” Dubbilex merely looks up at him “Brother, I believe the term is ‘offered’ not threatened.” Conner shrugs and is about to walk off when Dubbilex stops him, “do you anticipate any problems starting classes tomorrow?” Conner thinks for a moment, “I’ve been trained by Cadmus to know most of the relevant information they’re likely to teach. There’s a zeta tube in Gotham so returning her should be easy. Don’t care about the people so it shouldn’t matter.” He walks off down the hallway content to end the conversation there. Dubbilex telepathically continues, just remember, you and I escaped Cadmus with the help of others, do not be so quick to knock away the hand of friendship. Conner snarls “stay out of my head!” Unperturbed Dubbilex goes back to organizing the med station.





            Conner approaches Hamilton Hill High feeling strangely nervous, looking around at the crowds of people assembled into groups of friends that are clearly tight knit and striated into a loose set of hierarchies. Conner frowns at this trying to shake Dubbilex’s words from his mind, Batman and Aquagirl are Leaguers even if they are junior, what’s the point of dealing with these normal people. Normal people just need saving, they get in the way; they’re tools, or hostages at best, waiting villains at worst. “Hey there new meat,” said an unfriendly voice behind him, Conner turned to see an auburn haired person close to his age, radiating hostility and dominance, he was flanked by two flunkies. Conner didn’t react merely continued to look bored and mildly irritated. “Something you want dreg?” The other man fumed, “looks like this one’s got a mouth on him, better teach him manners now before he ends up like McGinnis.” The man places his hand on Conner’s shoulder and squeezes in a way that would have been painful to a human. Then a voice to their right spoke up, all bratty confidence, “aw you’re hurting my feelings Nelson! Here I thought we’d grown to cherish each other like real besties are supposed to.”


Both men turned to the newcomer, he had floppy black hair kept long enough to look like something of a punk but short enough to impede his sight or need much maintenance. His arm is casually wrapped around an Asian girl his age; she looks like this is a scene that unfolds with regularity, like morning traffic. The other girl has her lips cocked in wry amusement, her pink hair contrasting with her dark skin making her stand out in the crowd. “Don’t you and the flying monkeys have a class to attend or is that C-average you’re required to maintain not endangered by your chem. Grade?” Nelson takes his hand off Conner, “yeah, yeah, McGinnis standing up for the damsels, you know until you’re called upon to help with anything, and then it’s all ‘I gotta work.’ C’mon guys we’ve wasted enough oxygen here.” Dana rolls her eyes, “don’t let Nelson’s chest thumping bother you he just feels threatened by other males.” Conner just looks Terry in the eyes and gives a low “I didn’t need your help I could have taken him.” Terry shrugs, “yeah but then you would have been in detention or suspended on the first day.” He points to the AE currently monitoring the students coming into the building, “not to mention the bad kid rep. Trust me you don’t need that.” Conner raises an eyebrow, “he pulls that a lot?” Terry grins, “Only on days ending in ‘y.’ C’mon we’ll help you find your first class.”


The pink haired woman grabs his schedule before he can react. “Global Studies, schway, you and Dana have class together.” Conner raises an eyebrow, the Asian next to “McGinnis” raises her hand, “that’s me, my friend with boundary issues is Max,” the girl who took his schedule sticks her tongue out. “And the hero is Terry McGinnis. We’ll walk you there.” Dana and the rest walk about half-way when Terry gives her a kiss “I wish I could go the rest of the way but Ms. Barch is gonna flay me if I’m late again.” Max turns, “I’ll be heading out to, I’ve got free period but I want to get some extra lab time in.” Dana looks at him somewhat less cheerful than before, “well I guess this time I’ll have company on my way to class.”




            Under encouragement from Dana Conner takes the far right seat by the wall with her next to him in the aisle. The man that steps to the front of the class looks to be in his late forties or early fifties. “Good morning and welcome to Global Studies, I’m your teacher, Mr. Conroy. I’d personally like to get through today with an introduction session. What I expect, what this year will entail, and so forth. What I want to do first off is find out what’s important to you, so tonight you’ll be choosing a current event. Any event, preferably one you’re going to find interesting, I want you to write up why you chose it, what factors, local, and global affect it, and both sides.” This is met with general groans, Conroy just smiles, “it’s not that bad, besides it’s important to understand that nothing exists in a vacuum, things you might find dull or even wrong or bad, probably enable what it is you enjoy. Now, let’s look over an example event I put together so you know what to expect.”




            Lunch had Conner contemplating the state issued meal in front of him. “Oh no home lunch on meatloaf day? Bad luck.” Terry and Max sit next to Dana who’d decided to sit next to Conner. They’re joined by another an athletically built woman with short blond hair, “who’s the tall drink of hottie?” Conner blinks rapidly in confusion at the woman’s blunt words, Terry snickers behind his hand. “Chells, this is Conner Kent.” Max introduces. Conner narrows his eyes, “I don’t remember giving my full name.” Max pales slightly, “well, I uh,” Terry doesn’t bother hiding his laugh this time and finishes for her, “was sneaking around in the school records, again?” Max just turns her attention to studying her laptop as attentively as possible. “Ah Max you have finally learned to ignore my boyfriend when he’s being a little shit. I’d ask how Wayne puts up with you but I found old interviews with him. He’s just as bad.” Terry winces, Max starts laughing, and Conner and Chelsea exchange confused glances. Max looks at Chelsea “I’ll e-mail you the highlights; really anything about him written by Lois Lane is gold. Though there was that Rolling Stones article.” Dana just sighs, “It’s really a shame, maybe I’m just a jaded Gothamite but I find it way more entertaining to read Wayne’s latest jab at reporters than whatever Saturday morning cartoon villain Batman put back in Arkham. That said I’m also biased towards enjoying Lois’ scathing articles of the man.” There is a pointed look at Terry who just raises an eyebrow in mock challenge.


Conner looks a little lost, “what’s so great about one guy?” Chelsea shrugs, “he’s a humanitarian, according to Terry he’s also a total grouch with no real social life. But he did what he could to make the city a better place, legally too, no near criminal assault on criminals needed.” Max chuckles, and Terry and Dana both share an eye roll. Conner finds this conversation seriously weird and full of in-jokes he’s not getting. “Am I missing something?” Everyone at the table just kind of stares which only makes Conner bristle defensively, “what?!” He snarls, and then an annoyingly familiar voice behind him says, “Looks like there’s someone who doesn’t know about your night-life McGinnis.” Nelson sits next to Chelsea who moves slightly away from him. Nelson’s lackeys take the other side forcefully nudging Conner a few inches. Conner catches Terry sending him a slightly concerned glance, he glares and mouths what? Terry just looks back to his homework; Nash, noticing and misinterpreting this looks smug and says, “McGinnis works for the old man, errand boy or something, though if you read some of the old articles about him then McGinnis is in his age bracket.” Terry’s face takes on a dangerous edge, there’s no outward change but anyone who’s watched a big predator being bothered by a small animal knows the change.


Dana puts her hand on Terry’s, “I bet you believe that aliens and Elvis really adopted Bigfoot’s abandoned baby too. Honestly Nash the only places that printed those stories were tabloids that could only do smear campaigns to sell anything. I knew you were spiteful and kind of dumb but I thought you might have had a respectable quality.” Chelsea smirks, and makes a slightly obscene gesture with her hand “trust me, he really doesn’t.” Nelson turns red and sputters, “okay, sorry, I get it no making fun of Bruce Wayne at his fan-club table.” Chelsea sighs dramatically as though entirely too put-upon, “feel free to make fun of him Nelson, just do it tastefully with things that are actually true. Like him being a weird shut-in.” Max chimes in “or an obsessive perfectionist.” Dana looks at Terry “how about demanding with the worst sense of timing?” Terry shrugs, “maybe this one’s personal but I’m always down for emotional age of ninety with the emotional awareness of thirteen.” The table laughs slightly and Nelson relaxes content to no longer being the source of ire. “So anyone going to the party at the pier?” He ventures, “you could even come fresh-meat, maybe you’d like to go mano-a-mano with the boys and I, see if you have any athletic potential or if that’s all show.” Terry leans in conspiratorially and stage whispers “I think he thinks you’re hot.” This earns him a dirty look from Nash’s monkeys and a food item launched in his direction from Nash. He leans back just in time to avoid it with a shit-eating grin on his face.