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A New Beginning

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Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 13 hours.

Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 13 hours since he saw the sky that he didn’t remember.

Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 13 hours since he saw any other color than white, silver, green, and red – if, in fact, there were colors other than white, silver, green, and red.

Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 13 hours since he was captured by the Ghost Investigation Ward – also known as the GIW.

It smelled. Sitting in the same room for the last seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 13 – wait, 14 hours, there was bound to be a stench.

The metallic rotting smell of dried blood and ectoplasm.

The smell of still wet blood and ectoplasm that seeped through his shirt and pooled on the floor.

Maybe if he hugged his knees close enough to his bleeding chest the liquid will stop.

Aqualad led his team into the compound. Batman had gathered enough information to know that the recently disbanded government group did illegal experiments on a meta-human. The Young Justice League was supposed to rescue the meta-human while Batman, Flash, and Superman fought the so-called “agents.”

Once they were sure the hallway was cleared, Superboy, Robin, and Aqualad started to search for the cell, while M’gann, Artemis, and Kid Flash kept watch at the ends of the hall. There was a single cell in the entire facility, it’s door stood out among the constant white theme with it’s strange splashes of color and silver gray background. As they approached, they realized the metal door was covered in blood and a green substance that none of them recognized. Robin immediately went to work on the locks.

After ten minutes, the sound of multiple gears shifted and locks unlocked, they all straightened. Superboy stepped forward and carefully opened the door.

It was dark inside the room. The only light was what leaked from the hall. All three of them had to take a step back at the stench that attacked their senses, making their eyes water. Robin was the first to recover and step into the room. The walls, the ceiling, and the floor were covered in the same mixture that the door was covered in. In the far corner, barely inside of the light’s range, was a young boy. He was no older than eleven, huddled, hugging his knees, and staring blankly at the wall across from him. He had dull green eyes, and his hair was so covered in dirt and blood that the original color was lost. He was wearing gray sweatpants that were one size too big, and a stained-with-blood, not-so-white-anymore t-shirt. He had a silver collar around his throat and cuffs around his wrists, and ankles that were chained to the cement ground, all of which were glowing slightly red. He didn’t so much as flinch when the door was opened. The younger boy just continued to stare lifelessly ahead, hugging his knees close to his chest and rocking back and forth ever so slightly in a mockery of self-induced comfort. Robin carefully walked inside, closer to the boy. Batman’s sidekick crouched in front of him and looked him in the eyes, but the boy didn’t look at him, only through him.

“Hey there,” his voice was even and soft, tone sympathetic but not pitying and the volume was just above a whisper, “my friends and I are going to free you, okay? I’m going to get these chains off.” The Boy Wonder carefully took the boy’s arm, unlatching his iron grasp on his leg and worked on unlocking the cuffs, trying to ignore the scars and bruising that was revealed on the irritated skin underneath.

When he finally got the cuffs off his limbs, he went to work on the collar. He had to work around the boy, seeing as he hadn’t acknowledged the group of older teens, instead resuming his original position every time Batman’s protege had let go. The collar took longer to remove, but it eventually gave. And just in time, seeing as he heard a few stray agents that had gotten past the senior heroes and were fighting the teens at the end of the hall. Robin glanced back at the door, he saw how Kaldur went to assist in the fighting and Conner stayed, ready to defend in case they got past. Robin heard distant shouts and insults that were thrown to the heroes. A faint whimper reached his ears, and his attention went back to the figure next to him. His green eyes were more focused, and they were focused on him. The boy tried to gain distance by backing up, only to find out that there was a wall. He got into a more defensive position.

“No, no. You're okay, my team and I are going to get you out of here. Can you stand up?” As if responding to the question, the boy had started to loosen his defensive huddle and his eyes started to droop. He fell only for Robin to catch him. The Boy Wonder looked at the floor and saw the fresh blood, realizing that he probably passed out due to blood loss, which also meant that they had to get out of there and get help. Now.

Chapter Text

Time seemed to speed up, everything happened in a blur as Robin ordered the team around and they started out of the facility and back toward the mountain. It was obvious that bringing the kid to a hospital would gain them a lot of questions that they couldn’t answer, so bringing him back to the mountain was the safest bet. So, in one fluid motion, the Boy Wonder picked the child up bridal style, noticing with grim observation that he was frail and severely underweight, and he rushed out to the ship and started to clean the unconscious child up.

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The first thing he noticed was the white ceiling.

The pristine white ceiling. Looking around, he saw the perfectly white walls.

But then he notices the other things.

The soft bed. The tightly wrapped pieces of fabric over his newly stitched wounds. The obnoxiously loud, yet unnaturally slow beeping that came from his left. The two pinches in his arm indicating some type of drug being pushed into his body via IVs.

He was in different clothes. The same, but different. Too-big white shirt, too-big gray sweatpants. But they were different. Not stiff or crusty. Not covered in his blood. His hair was white again. And fluffy. But white.

White, white, white.

He hates that color. Or, lack of color to be precise.

The beeping was so loud, the fluorescent lights were so bright, the room smelled like the lab. His breathing picked up, his heart escalated to normal bpm for a human. Danny reminded himself of what was going on, of the all-too-familiar event.

Panic attack. Sensory overload. He hated it when it happened. He hated enhanced senses. After a minute his heart returned to normal, his breathing slowed. He glances at the door. Nothing, no one. He sighs in relief. Whoever brought him here must have set the machine next to him so they were alerted if his heart surpassed normal bpm.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time he’s been “rescued.” They never end well. Death and destruction. It really didn’t affect him much anymore. He carefully sat up, mindful of the needles in his arm. When he was sitting cross legged on the bed, he reached over to the pole next to him and slipped one of the bags off it’s hanger, then grabbed the other gently. He twisted the nozzle slightly of both, stopping the drip. He doesn’t like drugs being pumped into him. Dulls the senses, slows reaction times and reflexes.

He scanned the first bag. Sodium Chloride. Nutrients. Then he read the other bag. Morphine. Painkiller.

Nutrients and painkillers. Strange. Neither of them probably worked due to his fast metabolism, but the implication was still strange.

Danny was by no means a dumb kid. Despite being cut off from the outside world for the better part of seven years – seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours his internal clock reminded him – he was quite intelligent, especially for his age, genius level in fact. He had an eidetic memory, which he despised. He knew things others wouldn’t expect and wouldn’t wish to know. The agents didn’t just want to know his limits physically, they taught him things, tested his mental limits. He was meant to be an advanced super soldier. So, he knew things.

He also knew that he was malnourished, so he understood what the Sodium Chloride was for. He also knew that he was in pain, so the morphine made sense. But what was confusing him was the fact that they were real, genuine drugs.

Danny had been “rescued” before, but they were all fake, just the GIW testing him. The IVs that were usually in his arms were poisons or simply water, but as he tore the bag open, based on the smell, these were exactly what the labels read as. They were real and after seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours, this was the first time it had happened.

His mind worked a mile a minute as he carefully removed the needles from his veins, then he wiped away the pricks of blood, and he lowered his bare feet onto the cool floor

Scanning the room one more time, he was surprised to see no faint glow on any of the surfaces. No white boxes in the corner. No shield. He started shivering. The floor touching his feet started to frost over. Danny watched with wide eyes as his powers were slowly released. No power dampeners. The boy let a wave of cold air wash out of him before he used his ectoplasm to warm the room up again. He noticed a camera in the corner and froze it in a solid block of ice.

If it was new, did that mean it was real? Was he out?

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The Leaguers surrounded Batman as he looked for any clue of who the meta-human child was and what was done to him. They had been searching for a day but found nothing. Batman sighed in frustration and turned to face the others.

“We need to wait. If the kid can tell us what the name of the organization was, then I can conduct a proper search, but the tip was anonymous and we have no clue what the illegal lab called themselves.” The Dark Knight explained. The others sagged, looking exhausted and worried, exactly how he felt.

There was something about the frail and injured kid that was familiar but he couldn’t place where.

Meanwhile, the Young Justice team was sitting around the kitchen, waiting anxiously for news on the kid. The mood was unnaturally solemn as they each were lost in thought. They all jumped when Flash sped into the kitchen.

“He’s awake.”

Chapter Text

Unprepared for any visitors anytime soon, Danny jumped and flinched violently when the door opened with an ear splitting (at least to him) bang. Turning quickly, ready to fight any of the robots that the GIW normally sent in during tests like these, he was surprised to find that there were no robots, but rather people wearing obnoxiously bright costumes. He was half tempted to ask if they were on their way to comic-con or something of the like. He held his tongue, instead taking to scan each of the newcomers from head to toe.

The shortest one, and presumably the youngest, had black hair – much like his own in his human form – and was wearing a red armour-like shirt with an ‘R’ on the left side of his chest. He wore a domino mask, obscuring the area around his eyes, and had a black and yellow cape. The boy looked to be at least sixteen.

The boy standing next to him was wearing a suit so yellow it hurt Danny’s eyes. He was taller than the first boy by a good few inches and had fire-orange hair, and Danny felt a pang in his chest about how much it reminded him of his foster sister. He wore goggles over his eyes and his suit was accented with bright red. In the center of his chest there was a red and white lightning bolt. He looked to be about seventeen or eighteen, but Danny couldn’t correctly decipher which one. Danny could hear the boy’s heart beating fast, a lot faster than a normal humans and almost ten times as fast as his. He could feel the electricity rolling off the boy in wave, and Danny wondered what would happen to the older teen if Danny used his powers to absorb the electricity.

‘Guess if this goes south, we’ll find out,’ the young boy thought to himself.

Standing behind the two boys there was a dark skinned and muscular teen that was around the same height as the red-head, only an inch or a half taller. He had platinum blond hair and was wearing a red tank top with black accents. Danny’s eyes lingered on the sword-like weapons secured to his back, and when he shifted his gaze slightly to the right, he noticed the eighteen year old teen had gills on his neck. Danny didn’t bother wondering why, he was after all half dead, so he had no room to judge others on their unique anatomy.

Danny’s gaze finally gravitated to whom he had deemed the biggest threat in the room. This was a grown man not a teenager, and he wore all black. He had a bat symbol over his armour-covered chest and a cowl that covered over half his face. The cowl had pointed tips that resembled a bat, which correlated with the strange symbol. He was very muscular, and Danny couldn’t identify anything about him that said he was...unnaturally enhanced. But Danny knew from experience that it didn’t mean he was any less of a threat. The man wore a permanent stone mask as his expression, and Danny knew that this man would not hesitate to take down any thing that was deemed a threat to the people or things he cared about. 'Alpha'  was the word that seemed most fitting.

Not once dropping his defensive stance, the scan of the four in front of him took a total of thirty seconds. The boy narrowed his eyes in suspicion and apprehension, and waited for one of the others to make the first move. He could tell from the slightly shocked expressions on two of the teen’s faces, they were expecting a scared, broken little boy.

They were wrong. Danny is scared out of his mind, and he’s fucked up, but that doesn’t mean the walls that carefully hid the fear, the vulnerability, was going to let up just because it was possible that he was rescued. He was not stupid, and deciding to trust these people right off that bat would be a very stupid decision.

The man in all black – Batman, Danny decided – stepped forward, which he responded to by promptly taking a step back. The man stopped his approach, obviously taking the nonverbal queue, and spoke.

“My name is Batman,” Danny refrained from blinking in shock at the fact he had accurately predicted his name, “You are in the Young Justice Headquarters.” This time Danny did blink in shock, and confusion.

‘The Young Justice? What the hell is that?’

“What do you mean? You've never heard of us?” The youngest of them (who still was five years older that Danny) asked. The eleven year old jumped, both not realizing he spoke out loud and for being addressed directly. Danny, unsure of his voice and still very much distrustful of the odd bunch, only gave a slight shake of his head to answer the boy’s question. The boy that Danny decided to refer to as ‘R’ until he got a proper name and the boy with the hair like his sis-he is not going to think about that, ‘Lightning’ Danny decided shared a confused look while the other two stayed stoic as ever.

“Dude, how long were you in there?” Lightning blurted out. He received a blow to the side by ‘R’ and a nasty glare (but not the worst Danny’s ever seen) from Batman.

The boy, however, took this in stride despite the hurricane of emotions brewing under his calm, warrior facade. “Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours.” He responded. The other’s noticed a distinct accent that no one was able to place indicating that English was not his first language.

The others stared in shock and pity, even Batman and ‘Gill boy’ who were obviously the most serious of the group. Danny opted to ignore the pity and focus on how many people were in the room and how uncomfortable it makes home (not that he would ever admit that). He surveyed the group again and categorized them internally.

'I really hope I get some names soon.’

“Holy shit.” ‘R’ muttered under his breath, too quiet for any human to hear, but Danny heard it loud and clear and his calculating gaze snapped to the teen immediately, who almost recoiled.

‘Lightning’, trying to change the mood, started to speak. “My name is Kid Flash, but most just call me Kid.”

The others seemed to catch on. “I’m Robin.” ‘R’ stated.

“Aqualad” ‘Gill-’ Aqualad said.

‘Pretend names it is, then.’

“Phantom. People call me Phantom.”

Chapter Text

A young boy ran through the base, opening every entry looking as if he was on a mission. This boy looked no older than eleven, and he wore a red Gatsby hat and a yellow turtleneck with glasses over his teal eyes. In his hand he was holding a small, blocky device. He held it as if it was the most valuable thing he had ever seen, and he plowed through the makeshift shelter until he found what he was looking for. Throwing aside the old curtain he looked at the two startled faces. One of the occupants was a girl the same age as the boy with black shoulder length hair and violet colored eyes. She wore a black baggy t-shirt and the same gray cargo pants the boy wore, but instead of sneakers she wore black, steel-toed combat boots. The other occupant was a man with green skin and white hair. His eyes were covered with black lenses and he wore a black trench coat and black cargo pants with steel-toed combat boots. They were surrounded with various electronics, some broken and others not. They both jumped when the boy barged in, panting with exhaustion.

“Tucker, I know you updated Sherri, but now isn’t the time to gush about your precious PDA.” The girl said, exasperated. She rolled her eyes and she and the man turned back to the screen they were examining. The newly deemed Tucker huffed in indignation.

“No, I came with important news, Sam. Like actually important.” He responded seriously. Hearing his tone of voice, Sam and Technus turned to face the boy. Tucker took this a cue to continue.

“I was updating Sherri’s tracking systems, and you know that I put an ATL-”

“ATL?” Sam interrupted. Tucker rolled his eyes.

“Attempt to Locate, can also be called APB, All-Points Bulletin, or a BOLO, Be on the Lookout.” He said, some condescending sarcasm bled into his voice. “Anyway, I had put an ATL on Sherri when we started the search,” he said giving a knowing look to the other two, “it tracks the unique ecto-signature of a Halfa, it was a precaution, I never expected it to work. But, when I was updating the tracker, it pinged.” The other two straightened in surprise.

“How do you know it’s not Plasmius?” Technus asked. Sad realization dawned on both the kid’s faces and they glance at each other before turning to the ghost.

“I forgot to tell you. When you were captured, Plasmius led a rescue mission. Only one of them came back, and it wasn’t Vlad.” There was a moment of shocked silence that followed the information.

“I see.” Technus responded evenly. “Where is the boy. We need him here and safe until he can fight Pariah and take his rightful place as the royal heir.” Tucker glanced down at the device in his hand. He hesitated.

“He’s in a place called ‘Happy Harbor’, but maybe we should observe for awhile, you know, understand the situation before charging head-first.” He suggested. Technus pondered this. The ghost nodded and turned to walk out of the room.

“I’ll take to Skulker and see who we can send.” And he stalked out of the room in search of the hunter, leaving Sam and Tucker alone.

“Do you really think it’s him?” Sam asked. Tucker glanced down at the device again before he looked back over to his friend. His face hardened slightly.

“I do.” He answered confidently. Or as confidently as he could considering he wasn’t actually sure himself, but he didn’t want his doubts to affect Sam. Fake it ‘til you make it, they say.

“Do you think he will remember us?” Some of the fake-confidence drained from the boy and he hesitated once more.

The two had met Danny about two years prior. They looked at each other, getting lost in the memory of meeting one of their best friend.

Sam and Tucker had been fighting in the alley that was in between the forest and the abandoned building they were staying in temporarily. A harsh rustling of leaves and heavy breathing cut into their arguing. When the two nine-year olds looked over to the source of the sound and what they saw shocked them.

A boy, about the same age as them, was stumbling through the trees, not looking forward but rather frantically looking back behind him as if he was being chased. The state of the boy was frightening to the other two kids. He was wearing a white t-shirt and gray sweatpants with no shoes and was covered in dirt, blood, and some type of green substance. He was thin and frail. His spiky hair, under the various liquids, was a gray or white, and he had twigs tangled in his hair. His overall look painted a picture of chaos and desperation.

Tucker let out a harsh puff of breath in horror and the boy’s head snapped to them so fast that it gave Sam whiplash just by watching it. The boy froze, only a few yards in front of the two, giving them a good opportunity to study his face.

Even though he was obviously malnourished, his face was rounded, giving him a soft and innocent look, but his dull green eyes were lit with unadulterated fear and horror. He had a bleeding cut on his left cheekbone and above his right eye. The left side of his face was dark purple with the odd hue of dark green that was almost unnoticeable, and despite the severity of the contusion it wasn’t swelling at all. His neck was red and there was bruising that looked suspiciously hand-shaped. The skin on his wrists were burned and raw.

The sound of distant barks and snapping twigs brought them back to the present. The boy looked back to the direction he came and took a stumbling step away. He let out a heartbreaking whimper of fear and the other two immediately rushed to the boys side. It was obvious that he was running from whatever caused the sound, and given the boy’s current state, he didn’t seem like much of a threat anyway. Tucker grabbed his left elbow, mindful of the bruises, burns, and bleeding cuts marring his skin and Sam grabbed Tucker’s other hand and dragged them both into the building and activated the lock that Tucker had made. They waited until the barking faded before letting out a breath of relief. The two turned to the injured boy to see he was glowing slightly in the dark warehouse and he was huddled against the wall, watching them in fear.

Sam slowly knelt in front of the boy and attempted to calm him down and was only somewhat successful. Tucker handed her the medical kit they had made over the years and started cleaning the wounds as best she could while he was cowering and flinching away from every move she made.

“My name’s Sam, that’s Tucker. What’s your name?”She asked quietly, patiently as the boy seemed to struggle with the words.

“D-Dan-ny.” He managed to stutter slowly as if he had to think about each of the syllables individually.

They had known Danny for about two months and became fast friends. They let him lean on them as he struggled with coping with the previous five years of torture. They turned into his support system and they took it upon themselves to try and help him. They had made a lot of progress, gotten him to smile and talk more. They found out about what he was and that he didn't know a lot of English and so they taught him everything they knew (Which, to be fair, wasn’t a whole lot seeing as they hadn’t gone to school in a few years). They learned that he was practically a genius, and they were happy. Until he was taken. They didn’t know how, but one day when they got back from “borrowing” food and money, he was gone and there was blood smeared over the abandoned furniture that littered the warehouse they had claimed temporarily. They had looked everywhere, and that was when they stumbled upon the problem in the Ghost Zone. The ghosts and them had a common objective, to find and protect Danny, so they decided to team up and the two became part of a rebellion. Soon, the two saw the ghosts’ causes and genuinely wanted to help, however even two years later, they wanted to protect their friend and that is their top priority. No exceptions.

And the first step was to carefully extract Danny from the situation he was in so they can lock him in a room and never let him get hurt again. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Chapter Text

It had been an uneventful (all things considered) couple of days. After Danny met the four heroes, and they explained what happened and asked a few questions that he didn’t answer, they had left him alone to sleep.

Danny didn’t sleep often. Some might call him an insomniac but he can sleep. He just chose not to. It was easier that way. However, every now and then, even when he was awake, he was haunted by the past. He thought about where his life took a turn for the worst, and he remembered all the traumas in vivid details. There was nothing to distract him from getting sucked into his past. The beeping of the heart monitor and the humming of the various machines that he allowed the strangers to hook up to him slowly melted into the voices of his past and Danny got stuck in the faces of his former life.

“MOMMY! DADDY!” The two year old Danny shrieked as he watched the life drain out of his parents and they turned into nothing but cold, mangled flesh and bone. A pair of hands were holding him from running to the corpses of his family. The young boy’s world turned into blurs of color and the screams and voices surrounding him turned into background noise and the only thing he could focus on the two cadavers in front of him, bones broken and twisted in inhuman ways and blood pooling around the bodies. The warm eyes of his parents turned cold, staring lifelessly up to the heavens. A small trail of blood dripping down his mother’s pale face and the salt and pepper hair of his father greased with the crimson liquid.

The hands restricting him from rushing forward in hysterics were gone leaving his skin cold at the absence of external heat. His mind running around in circles, trying to analyze and process the events that just occurred. People were screaming and rushing around him, some tripped over his small form. His intense gaze was focused on the bodies of his parents through the blur of movement.

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“Hi, sweetie. My name is Maddie Fenton. My family and I would love for you to join our family.” A woman with auburn hair that fell just short of her shoulders. She had violet eyes and was wearing a teal and black one piece suit that was made out of some kind of rubber. Standing next to her were two people. On her left was a large, intimidating man with graying black hair and azure eyes that held a warmth that made him less frightening. His face held a large, yet sad smile that he directed towards Danny. On Maddie’s right, there was a girl who looked to be thirteen or fourteen and she had teal eyes that gazed sadly at Danny in a mimicry of her father. Unlike her parents, however she had fiery orange hair that reached her waist and wore a black t-shirt with blue jeans. Danny studied each of them carefully but was startled out of his thoughts when the social worker came up behind the young girl.

Not an hour later he was sitting in a large SUV with three strangers that wanted him to be apart of their family.

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A three year old Danny wandered down to the basement lab of his adoptive family’s home. The two older Fentons were currently at a ghost convention one town over and Jazz was at a friends house. Danny managed to trick the sitter into falling asleep, leaving the toddler to explore the house and go into the one place for which he was forbidden to enter: the lab.

Danny has always had the irrational, yet at the same time somewhat rational fear of the lab, and he wanted to conquer those fears like the heroes in all the movies do. As he descended the stairs and turned on the fluorescent lights, his gaze wandered over the bright green glowing substance that is smeared over everything and instead focused on the large, gaping hole in the far wall of the large room. Without his conscious consent, his feet carried him to the wall. The metal floor was cold beneath his sock-clad feet as he stepped inside. His short legs tripped over a stray pipe and he fell, thrusting his arms out in front of him to stop his descent. His right hand met the smooth surface of the wall, and the surface underneath his left hand shifted slightly with a click.

A cackling of green electricity started to build and grow at the end of the hole and Danny felt nothing but his insides burning and his skin freezing over.

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Four year old Danny watched helplessly as the large men in white suits pulled his mother’s hair and slammed her on the wall, only thing keeping her upright was the hand that gripped her bloody hair. Her eyes flickered between Danny and the body of her husband. The agent broke her neck before he turned to the crying boy in his colleague's grip and watched as he was dragged mercilessly away.

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Danny managed to shake himself out of his thoughts before he relived the worst parts of his life. He wondered what happened to Jazz, his adopted sister. She wasn’t home when the agents came, and Danny never saw her again. He sometimes wondered if she was still alive and out there somewhere. He wondered what she was doing if she was alive. Danny became slightly more aware of his surroundings and loosened his bruising grip on his arms as they hugged his knees close to his chest. He focused on the slow droning of the heart monitor to avoid getting stuck in his memories again.

Then the door opened.

Chapter Text

Batman didn’t know what to make of the petrified, careful boy that the team of protégés had discovered.

When he had first heard the news about the injured boy, he was immediately curious as to why he was at the secret lab, and if his predictions were right, then it angered him that people could stoop to such merciless levels. Of course, being Batman, he had done additional research into the lab, trying to find out what exactly they did there. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to keep much of their data digitally, so he hadn’t been able to find much. However, they did seem to have a few useful files that he was able to look at.

One of the useful files just so happened to be a file about the mysterious boy.

Hacking his way into the data, he had little trouble getting past the first few firewalls, however he couldn’t get further without the safe guard deleting the hard drive. Luckily, he was able to decode some basic information.

Project H-01

Documented name: Fenton, Daniel James
Gender: Male
Age acquired: 4 years
Species: Halfa
Acquired from: Fenton, Madeline (eliminated) 
                     Fenton, Jackson (eliminated)
                               Fenton, Jasmine (location unknown)
Origin: unknown
Notes:
Human DNA type doesn’t match Fenton DNA

Suddenly the file closed and a pop up error appeared on the screen.

“Shit.” The Dark Knight muttered frantically trying to override the safe guard that was set up to protect the information.

Unfortunately, while it deleted most information, he managed to save the file he could get into. Leaning back with a sigh of mostly relief and a bit of frustration before he printed the file out and left the bat-cave.

He had a halfa to question.

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Have you ever had the feeling of complete and utter helplessness? The feeling of knowing that something bad could happen to you and you wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it?

The eerie feeling of impending doom is a natural instinct of human beings, or beings similar in intellect to humans. Call it a gut feeling, or your “lizard brain” if you will.

Danny, as he sat in the bright room, lit artificially with fluorescent lights that hung over head, didn’t feel the chilling sensation of danger.

That’ had never happened before. It was always a presence, buzzing in the back of his head, spiking to alert him that someone was coming, something was about to happen, get ready, get ready, get ready, getready, getready, getreadygetreadygetready-

-but strangely, that hadn’t happened since he woke up in the new room where he was on a bed and being helped.

The sensation was gone.

And although it was supposed to be a good sign, he still didn’t like it.

Its absence was far too noticeable to him. And it made him uneasy, nervous, helpless. He had no way of telling when someone was coming.

So it was understandable when he jumped a foot in the air at the sound of the heavy door to the room he was staying in swinging open.

Turning sharp, startled eyes towards the opening, he spotted the man in black – Batman – and three new people. If you could call them that, seeing as he didn’t think humans wore clothes like that. At least not in his limited experience.

But what did he know about today’s pop culture?

They circled Batman, as if he were the leader. The word Alpha resurfaced in his mind.

On Batman’s right stood a muscular man slightly taller than the Dark Knight.. He had black, slicked back hair. He was clothed in an amour-like blue and red spandex with a red cape (Danny couldn’t help but wonder if it was just a new thing now, to wear a blanket on your back). On his chest was a styled “S” inside of a diamond.

Next to him stood a woman she wore similar color schemes, however her outfit consisted of a considerable amount of gold. She had long black hair that was held back by what seemed to be a tiara or headband of some kind. She wore a mini-skirt and knee high boots with a one-piece leotard. Both of her forearms were encased in golden metal, and she had a lasso strapped to her hip (He thought only cowboys used those). He could almost say that the tall man and the gold woman were related, but they sent off different auras. Not human, but not the same as each other either.

And finally there was a lean man dressed head to toe in neon red. He had the same symbol and color scheme as Kid Flash, so Danny could only assume this was his mentor or keeper (did normal people have those? Keepers? He had a keeper while in the lab. He didn’t like it). The red man had the same amount of electricity buzzing throughout his form, but it was stronger, more experienced. Oddly, it didn’t feel threatening despite its obvious power.

The boy slowly lowered himself from his perch in the upper right hand corner of room, the closest and safest place to be when taken by surprise seeing as one had to fly to get there and it partially him in the shadows. The red man stared wide eyed at the unintentional display of power.

“Woah, little man. You can fly?!

<><><><><><><><><><>

Batman watched the young child flinch slightly at the outburst before he narrowed his lumenscent eyes and cocked his head to the side in a child-like confusion.

The Caped Crusader turned a mild Bat Glare at the red speedster, who promptly closed his mouth with a quiet click and looked apologetically toward the boy. Batman, satisfied with the younger man’s reaction cleared his throat, effectively gaining the sharp gaze of the unnatural green eyes.

“Daniel Fenton?”

Batman could practically see the walls shooting up as the prepubescent child narrowed his eyes further, this time in suspicion. The Dark Knight continued seemingly unperturbed.

“Daniel James Fenton, that is your name, right?” He asked without looking away from the intense gaze of the other. Both fighting for control and trying to get a read on the other.

The boy responded with one sharp nod.

“We have a few questions.” A quiet, almost too quiet to hear, defensive growl emitted from the boys throat. Superman, hearing the growl took a small step forward and purposely directed the boys attention towards him.

The green gaze snapped to him.

“Nothing bad. We don’t want to hurt you, we just want some answers. We promise, you’re safe now.” He said gently to the kid, who in turn relaxed his defensive stance and uncoiled a bit.

Hegave a soft nod of acknowledgment and sat quietly, silently indicating for the others to go on.

The four moved slightly more into the room, taking care not to get too close.

“How old are you?” Batman started.

“Eleven.” Was the boy’s accented answer, his voice scratchy and quiet from disuse.

Where are your parents?” Superman cut in, concern temporarily overriding his need for information.

“Dead.” Looks of sadness and pity, and one pained grimace courtesy of Flash, crossed their faces.

“Do you have any siblings, any family left at all?” Superman continued.

“No sibling. Not anymore. Gone.” The boy answered in somewhat choppy English, accent thick but tone flat.

“Why do they call you ‘Phantom’?” Batman asked, deciding this line of questioning was not of use at the moment and suddenly remembering when he had first interacted with the boy.

The boy cocked his head in confusion, something the others noticed he did a lot, and scanned the room looking for any sign of a joke.

“Halfa.” He said as if they should know, as I this was obvious. He pointed to himself to emphasize what he couldn’t put into many words.

“’Hafta’? Hafta what?” Flash blurted out. Danny would laugh at the similarities between the two speedsters if he weren’t so thrown off at the question.

They didn’t know?

Before he could properly think it through, Danny answered.

“Half-a. Half-spirit. Half dead. Halfa.”

A long silence followed and Danny got worried.

All in all, he blamed it on the dizzying feeling of painkillers. He’s not used to it. Ignoring the fact that it isn’t really doing much, and the fact that he took them out, it was still doing something, so he wasn’t in the right state of mind to think his actions all the way through. You’d think with his limited English it would make him less likely to tell his state of being to anyone who asks. Guess not because here they were. Him and the four strangers. Staring at at each other, daring the other to make a move.

The silence drew on from seconds to minutes.

The red man opened his mouth to respond.

And that was where all hell broke loose.

Chapter Text

Flash opened his mouth to respond to the troubling information the young boy had just revealed when a flash of red light and a loud alarm rang out through the entire mountain.

Danny saw the red flash and prepared for a loud noise, so even though he couldn’t hold back a flinch, he managed to mentally prepare for the onslaught of noise. Good thing too, because as soon as it resonated throughout the room, the man in blue yelled out in pain and fell to his knees clasping his hands over his ears and shutting his eyes tightly.

Batman and the man in red immediately looked down the hallway while the woman tried to comfort the man who fell to the ground.

Danny was panicking. The loud noise and flashing light was scaring him. The sensation was back and screaming at him that something was happening, he can see that something is happening, ohmygodwhatsgoingonpleasestoppleasestop-

He was moving before he processed where exactly he was going to go.

Run. Red means bad. Red means blood. Redmeansbadredmeansbloodredmeansbadredmeans-

-he ran right into a tall figure who grabbed his bicep before he could fall to the ground form the impact. Blindly Danny struggled harshly against the hand and was able to escape and keep running.

His breathing was so quick that he thought his lungs wer going to explode.

His heartbeat was pumping blood so fast throughout his body that he wouldn’t be surprised if it exploded too.

He could hear every breath from every single person within a mile radius.

The dull red light seared his eyes so bad that he though he would go blind.

The air in the building was hot and stuffy, and fuck was this even oxygen?

Then, suddenly, it stopped.

<><><><><><><><><><>

“You bumbling idiot.” The declaration echoed through the small clearing just outside the mountain. The metal figure towering over the other, green hair erupting into dangerous flames as he stared down the ghost below him.

The gray, faceless figure was unnecessarily breathing heavily as if exhausted.

“How was I supposed to know that the sensors could detect my signature?” The shapeshifter exclaimed.

“You could have been a bit more incognito.” Tucker mumbled, not wanting to get in the crossfire of Skulker’s rage at the other ghost. Sam and him watching the two from the lookout rock, occasionally glancing at the entrance to the mountain base.

“Incognito?! Incognito?! I thrive on attention! I was being incognito.”

Sam gave him a deadpan look. “You were a peacock. Amorpho, a peacock. Those things aren’t just roaming around here. You could not of chosen a worse animal to be.”

Amorpho looked indignant as he opened his mouth to retort. However he was cut off by Tucker yelling.

“It doesn’t matter! What does matter is finding Danny. So how are we going to-”

“Look!” Sam pointed to a small figure that collapsed right outside the entrance to the mountain. However, before any of them could move a figure in bright yellow ran to the limp form and picking it up and carried it inside the mountain once more.

The two ghosts and two humans stared at the spot that the Halfa once occupied for a good two minutes before the dark-skinned boy jerkily stood.

“What the f-“

“Language child.” Skulker scolded the boy, who hesitated.

“What the hell-“ he got a look but wasn’t interrupted a second time “-was that?! What do we do now?! What are we even up against?!” The boy yelled. Sam stood and turned to him. She looked relieved yet reluctant to share what was on her mind. Tucker, seeing the look, turned to her as well.

“What?” She glanced back at the spot their friend had occupied only a few moments ago.

“I don’t think he’s in danger.” The ghosts turned sharply to her. “That doesn’t mean he’s safe. But that was one of the so called ‘heroes’. They protect a few cities around the country. As far as I can tell this is their HQ. so right now, he should be in one of the safest places on Earth. But that doesn’t mean he’s completely safe. I mean, they are ill equipped to fight ghosts, and you saw how easily Amorpho waltzed in, so Pariah Dark could do the same, walk in and take him. Then there is the GIW who no doubt are looking for him. But I’m not so sure how beneficial it would be to...remove him from the situation considering he’s still relatively safe. Not a great idea unless you want a team of super powered or overly armored humans and aliens along with their sidekicks after you on top of every thing else.” She said, ghost of a frown on her face.

She wanted to march in and get Danny right now, but thinking logically, it could just cause more problems.

Skulker frowned. Staring at the empty yard in front of him. He sighed and rubbed the face of his exoskeleton.

“Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. Amorpho, you will stay here and keep watch. I want you to make sure no ghost comes within a mile of the Halfa. If they do, call Wulf. He’s currently stationed in the Far Frozen, so he’ll be able to get help fast.”

He turned to the two children. “You two will come back to base with me. Wait.” He said when to two looked like they were going to argue. “You are coming back to the base, but you’ll be helping me. Because we are going to regroup and decide how we shall proceed after we do more research into these heroes you speak of. But until we find out what we will do we will set watch shifts to watch and make sure Pariah doesn’t know about the Halfa’s location.”

Tucker fumed. “So what? We’re just going to leave him? You guys promised that you would get him back and safe!”

Skulker sighed. “And we will. But getting him now will just result in both these...GIW and the group of heroes after us on top of Pariah’s army. So right now, we just have to regroup. We will get him. Eventually.”

Chapter Text

Danny’s world was a bunch of colorful blurs.

He felt like he was flying.

'Carbon Dioxide and pH imbalance, idiot, you were hyperventilating again. You were almost out, too.'

Glancing behind him he was met with a lightning bolt and neon yellow leather. That’s when he realized he was being carried bridal style by someone. The name of said person was currently evading his thoughts.

Wind gently pushed at his face. Running. That makes sense. The person that was carrying him was running.

The person abruptly stopped and the blurs around Danny changed into shapes. Glancing blearily around he saw a group of teens.

I know them. Danny searched his clear hazy mind. The Justice something-or-other. He caught the eye of the raven haired teen-Robin. He saw the teen’s mouth move and a jumble of sounds came out. He felt the rumble of the person carrying him-Kid Flash-resonate in his chest, but once again it was only a jumble of sounds.

So much for intelligence. Can’t even understand English. Pathetic.

‘Shut up. It’s not my native language, I’m still learning.’ Danny reassured himself. He briefly wondered if it was normal to respond to the voices in your head.

Focus! He shook his head slightly, white hair bouncing around. Distracted, he went cross-eyed to see his hair better. He reached up to pull his hair down, decidedly ignoring the amused/confused looks that the brightly colored teens were giving him. They were still making noises he didn’t understand.

It’s fluffy. He ran his hand through his hair.

“What is he doing?” Danny yelped and jerked at the sudden words, dislodging himself from the arms that were still holding him in the process, and fell to the floor with a small thud. He looked over to the speaker seeing it was a large and muscular teen with an “S” much like the other man on his t-shirt.

<><><><><><><><><><>

The team watched the boy in Kid Flash’s arms as he looked at his newly white hair.

Robin and Kid Flash were attempting to restrain their laughter, Superboy and Aqualad were smiling slightly though they looked marginally confused, and M’gann and (surprisingly) Artemis were cooing at the sight of the small eleven year old playing with his hair.

After a moment of this, Superboy tried to speak up.

“What is he doing?” He asked, not expecting the boy to respond. Instead, the boy yelped and flailed out if Kid’s arms, landing on his stomach with a light thud. The boy looked up at them with wide, peridot green eyes.

M’gann took a small step forward to draw the boy’s attention. “Are you okay?” She asked softly, kneeling down to offer him a hand. The boy flinched back at the gesture, causing the Martian to quickly retract her hand.

The boy sat up, sitting cross-legged on the ground instead and looked at them warily. Then he looked up at the ceiling, tilted his head to the side, and gave the impression of a confused puppy.

“Flash?” The boy questioned. The others looked at eachother.

“Uhh, I don’t know where he is. We had been looking for them when we found you passed out in front of the entrance landing,” Kid responded.

Danny shook his head and gestured widely with his hands to the ceiling. “Flash,” he said again.

“Oh you mean the red lights?” Robin asked. Danny nodded his head. “That was just the security. Somehow a bird got in and set off the alarms. Like Kid said, we were looking for the League to find out what happened and why we found you like that.”

Danny nodded in understanding. His mop of white hair bouncing with his head, catching his attention once again.

“Fluffy,” he said, grabbing his white strands again.

M’gann giggled. “Yeah. We washed your hair.”

A shout resonated down the hall. “You found him!” Turning to face the speaker they saw Superman messaging his ears, Wonder Woman standing next to him (glaring at Flash who seemed to be the one who shouted), and Batman looking impassively at the teens.

The boy in question seemed to do a 180 as he stood, growling defensively at the adults. Hiding behind Robin fisting his hands in the sidekick’s cape like a child much younger would with their parents. The teens looked to the boy, confused at his sudden personality change.

“What did you do to him?” Artemis asked teasingly, “he looks like he hates you.”

“We didn’t do anything. Just asked a few questions,” Wonder Woman responded somewhat quietly. Danny just hid more behind The Boy Wonder, just barely peeking out enough to still keep the older heroes in his sight.

“Questions. Scientists ask questions. Questions bad. Scientists bad.” Danny responded to the adults across the room. He tightened his grip on the bird’s cape.

The adults across the room glanced at each other before Batman stepped forward.

“Danny, we are going to have to ask questions. We just want to know how to help.” Danny moved slightly out from behind Robin to look at the older Bat better.

“Help?” Batman nodded patently. Danny slowly unfisted the fabric and stepped cautiously out from behind Robin. He walked to the Dark Knight and looked up at him. Batman held out his hand to the boy who twitched slightly before grabbing the offered hand in both of his, letting the man lead him away.

Batman paused by Superman, “you three should go and debrief the rest of the League and the Young Justice team. I’ll talk to him.” The Man of Steel nodded before turning to the teens, gesturing for them to follow the three elder heroes.

Batman led the child back to the infirmary and Danny climbed onto the bed. Batman sat in the chair in front of the boy.

“Danny, do you remember how you became a Halfa or were you born like this?” Batman asked, gently as to not spook the child again.

“Portal. Tripped. Flash and pain. Halfa.” Danny struggled to explain his origin and used his hands to try to express himself better.

“You were in some sort of portal and tripped, it turned on and you came out like this?” Batman guessed. Danny nodded, smiling slightly with a childlike glee that someone understood him despite his limited English. The only people who could ever do that were Sam and Tucker.

“You don’t speak much English, do you?” Danny shook his head. “What language do you normally speak?”

Danny tilted his head. “English.” And it was true. Despite his limited vocabulary in the language, he still preferred to speak English. Rarely did he meet someone who spoke his fluent language, anyway.

“I mean what is your native language?”

“Romanian.” Batman stopped for a second to mull this over. It was odd, but at least it was something they could understand. He could get Robin to translate when needed.

“That’s good. Robin speaks Romanian too. I can speak some of it as well.” Danny smiled.

“Danny. Are you okay to come home with me and Robin. I don’t think it’s a great idea for you to stay here.” Danny looked confused but slowly nodded his head, seeing no real reason to protest. Batman nodded and led Danny back to the others before pulling Robin aside and explaining what he knew.

Soon the Dynamic Duo and Danny were on their way to Gotham City.

Chapter Text

Danny was torn.

His unnaturally bright eyes darted from one threat to the other, indecisive of which one to pay closer attention to.

On one hand, dogs were vicious and feral. He’s only encountered a few in his short life, but every single one of them had a merciless bloodlust. It may have been their owner’s twisted ways that made them that way, but then again, it wasn’t like he knew this one's owner all that well either. But, dogs were predictable. It’s easy to deduce a dog’s movements and attacks, regardless of intelligence.

However, on the other hand, this man reminded Danny of the main analyzer from the GI-the lab. New people were unpredictable, and Danny knew first hand just how ruthless and manipulative humans could be, despite all appearances. So Danny’s not going to judge the man on the fact that he’s older, because he’s learned that adults of all ages can be bloodthirsty.

He stared down the two beings in front of him for a bit longer before he was snapped out of it by Batman. Danny mentally scolded himself in forgetting that there were two others in the room, or well, it was more a dark and gloomy cave. Sure, Danny had the instinct to trust Robin, but he was still wary around Batman. Ripping his eyes off the black dog and older man, he turned to the Dark Knight.

“Danny, this is Agent A,” Danny tensed, and glared at the older man. He growled slightly, lowering to a defensive stance. Batman, seeing this, corrected himself, “also known as Alfred, he’s a close family friend.” Danny stopped growling and dropped his defensive stance, but chose to narrow his eyes at the man, still tense. “Alfred, this is Danny, the special guest I informed you about.” The Caped Crusader said, gesturing to them as he introduced the boy and the butler.

Danny’s eyes shifted over to Robin, looking for any hint of a lie, seeing none he looked back to the older man, scanning his body language for any trace of malicious intent. Deciding the man could be trusted, his eyes snapped to the dog, now the biggest threat. The boy narrowed his eyes at the large gray dog, who tilted its head to the side in consideration of the boy. Danny tensed at the movement, eyes growing brighter in preparation of an attack.

A hand was placed on his shoulder, making him jump and look to the owner of the hand, who turned out to be Batman. The man gently and slowly led Danny closer to the dog. When the boy realized what the Dark Knight was attempting to do, he stopped, causing his back to hit the man’s legs, unconsciously Danny grabbed onto part of the man’s cape and clutched it tightly as if to keep from moving further. Batman smiled reassuringly at the boy.

“He’s not going to hurt you.” The Caped Crusader said. Danny’s narrowed eyes grew brighter at the statement. The large dog walked carefully forward towards the duo. Alfred and Robin watched curiously from the side. Danny’s focus shifted to the other two every once in awhile, seemingly to make sure they hadn’t moved. When the dog was within reach of the young boy he sat down, dark eyes glancing from the boy’s guarded face to his master.

Batman carefully and gently grabbed one of the boy’s cold hands and removed it from his cape and placed it on top of the dog’s head. Danny didn’t resist, but he kept his hand stiff and clasped his eyes tightly shut. When he felt the texture of fur beneath his hand he held his breath. After a moment when nothing happened he opened his eyes slightly to look at the animal.

The dog simply nuzzled slightly into his hand, causing Danny to open his eyes fully and relax, tilting his head slightly in wonder. The motion was mirrored by the dog. Danny glanced back at Batman, seeing the reassuring smile had turned amused.

“Danny, this is Ace. He helps Robin and I with fighting crime.” The confusion grew in the boy’s face. His eyebrows furrowed at the man.

“Fight crime?” He asked. Robin and Batman shared a look, unsure how to explain this simply.

Danny, seeing the look, frowned in mild anger. They were looking at him like he was stupid. He’s not stupid. He waited patiently for them to explain, trying to ignore the irritation of their assumptions. The irritation grew every second they remained silent.

“Vrei să răspunzi sau să stai acolo, presupunând că e prea prost să înțelegi de ce voi doi luptați împotriva crimei?” (Are you going to answer or sit there assuming I’m too dumb to understand why you two fight crime?) Danny asked, unable to convert his question to English. Robin looked to the boy, taking in his frustrated body language.

“Nu cred că idiotul tău e greu de explicat.” (We don’t think your stupid, it’s just hard to explain.) Danny’s irritation disappeared and was replaced by wonder. He knew that the two heroes could speak his language, but being told and hearing for yourself were completely different. Robin smiled, amused at the change.

“Suntem ceva numiți vigilanți, lucrăm în afara legii pentru a urmări în fiecare zi criminali. Salvăm oamenii. Deci, faceți totul oameni costumați pe care i-ați întâlnit până acum.” (We’re something called vigilantes, we work outside the law to prosecute criminals every night. We save people. So do all the costumed people you have met so far.) Danny tilted his head again.

“Cei colorați?” (The colorful people?) Robin nodded in response. Boy Wonder glanced back to Batman, who was only slightly following the conversation, and Alfred, who looked completely lost. The teens gaze shifted back to the small eleven-year-old.

“Danny, poate ar trebui să vorbim în limba engleză. Aceasta ar ajuta la construirea vocabularului.” (Danny, maybe we should speak in English. It would help build your vocabulary.) Danny’s bottom lip stuck out and he slumped slightly in disappointment. Robin chuckled softly at the display.

“Nu vă faceți griji. putem vorbi în continuare, în special în jurul echipei. Am putea să vorbim despre ei în fața lor.” (Don’t worry. we can still speak it, especially around the team. We’d be able to talk shit about them to their face) Danny giggled and Batman came up to the two and smacked Robin on the back of his head. The Boy Wonder let out an indignant squawk before cringing at the mild bat glare the man was giving him.

“Language. Just because I’m not perfectly fluent doesn’t mean I can’t mostly understand you.” The teen smiled apologetically at his mentor.

“So, what now?” The bird asked.

“Well we have to tell him about our identities and let him get used to that and the mansion.” Robin nodded. Both of them turned back to the boy, only to find the spot he occupied empty. They both looked around and found the boy sitting cross-legged on the ground by Alfred with the Great Dane’s large head in his lap. Danny was giggling quietly as the grey dog nuzzled his cold nose into the boy’s palm.

Robin chuckled again and crouched next to the boy. Giving one more glance back to his mentor and one at the butler, he removed the domino mask, revealing blue eyes. Danny watched him remove the mask with fascination.

The two looked each other in the eyes. ‘I know him. From somewhere. He feels familiar.’ Danny was shaken from his thoughts by another larger figure crouching on his other side. He turned to Batman and watched him pull the cowl off of his head, revealing black hair and blue eyes. Danny looked between the two a few times before speaking.

“Family?” The two looked at each other.

“I’m his adopted son. My name is Richard Greyson. Or Dick. He’s Bruce Wayne.” Danny’s brows furrowed at the names. He knew that name. He just couldn’t remember from where. The feeling greatly unnerved him, it’s never happened before and he didn’t like it.

“Are you ready to go upstairs?” Bruce asked. Danny, still feeling uneasy about his lapse in memory, nodded.

The dog lifted his head and licked the boy’s cheek, eliciting a giggle, before standing and walking to Alfred. The trio also stood, Batman offering his hand to the eleven-year-old, who carefully took it, allowing the duo to lead him out of the cave.

<><><><><><><><><><>

It took Danny longer then he’d like to admit to getting used to the large house. He’s never been in a mansion before, his previous...location...wasn’t exactly...large and his home at the Fenton’s was fairly small seeing as the Fenton’s occupation didn’t pay all the well.

The two heroes had changed from their costumes and proceeded to show the boy the room he could stay in. It was painfully large in his eyes. Large spaces made him nervous, but he pushed the feeling down and looked around the room.

There was a very large bed centered against the furthest wall, laying on top the bed was about a dozen organized pillows and an extra blanket on top of the duvet. There were two doors off to the left wall, where Danny figured led to a closet and a bathroom. Directly across from the doors was a four drawer dresser next to a large window overlooking the edge of a forest. The overall color scheme was beige and brown, like any guest room would be. There wasn’t anything remarkable or anything that stood out, yet at the same time the elegant furniture demanded attention to all of their intricate designs. His eyes lingered on the carved patterns in the dresser and small desk that sat next to it. A small squeeze from Batman-Bruce brought his gaze to the man. He smiled down at the boy.

“I will go and see if Dick has any small clothes from when he was younger that you can borrow. And if you want you can decorate the room. Dick’s room is just across the hall and mine is next to his.” Bruce kneeled down to be closer to his height. Bruce’s hand let go of his and both settled on Danny’s shoulders.

“Danny, it’s very important you don’t go outside the mansion.” Danny’s face fell.

He knew it. He knew that it wasn’t going to last. That he may have been rescued from one prison only to be thrown into another. Hell, there was a huge chance he wouldn’t be able to leave the room.

Bruce, seeing the boy’s expression, quickly assured him. “You will be able to go out, just when someone is with you. So most of the time, you're going to stay here with me or Dick along with Alfred or when neither of us can be here you’ll come with us to the Watchtower or the Mountain.” Danny hugged his middle. His large green eyes looked at the man.

“No more prison?” He asked. Bruce shook his head.

“Not as long as me or Dick are around.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” Danny smiled and hugged the man around his neck. After a moment he felt him hug back lightly and carefully.

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Danny laid on the large bed in the room he had been given staring up at the ceiling. It had been about three weeks since he came here and it was currently about two in the morning and Danny hadn’t been able to sleep. He huffed and sat up in a jerky motion before grabbing the (considerably thinner compared to the duvet) blanket at the foot of the bed and the smallest pillow the boy could find and dropped them on the floor before jumping off himself, landing quietly. The top of the bed reached his shoulders and was slightly lifted off the ground, so Danny grabbed his supplies and crawled underneath. He crawled to the wall and put the pillow against it curling up and pulling the blanket over him. He fell into a dreamless sleep.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Dick traveled back up the stairs after he was told to go get Danny for food. Bruce had said he was worried that unless someone went to go get him the boy wouldn’t know he was allowed to come down and Dick was inclined to share that concern.

Dick softly knocked on the door before slowly opening it. The teen’s heart skipped a beat when he opened the door to an empty room. He opened the door fully and stepped inside looking around at every corner. He walked around and opened the closet and bathroom, looking inside. Looking around the room once more, panic growing. Dick went to the window and found it locked, he started walking to the door, ready to call for Bruce, but stopped short at the sound of shifting fabric. The teen held very still, waiting for the noise again, and after a minute the sound repeated. Dick walked towards the bed and got on his hands and knees, bending down to look under the furniture. He let out a small huff of laughter when he found a lump of blanket against the wall. Dick slowly crawled to the lump, reaching his hand out to gently shake the boy awake. The boy shifted grabbing his hand and settling back down. Dick let out another huff of laughter and tried to unlodge his arm, successfully rousing the boy.

The eleven-year-old’s glowing eyes illuminated his face in green light, he looked confused for a moment before he looked back at the teen shyly. Dick smiled at the boy and the two climbed out from under the bed, sitting on the floor.

“Hey. What were you doing under the bed?” Danny looked down and played with the end of the blanket. He shrugged uncertainty.

“More comfortable.” He mumbled. Dick nodded, filing away the information to mention to Bruce later.

“Do you want to go downstairs to get breakfast? Alfred made chocolate chip pancakes.” Danny raised his head to face the teen and tilted his head and looked up at him with large green eyes. Dick smiled at the familiar display. The boy looked back down and rubbed his eyes.

“You tired, buddy?” Dick asked. Danny made another shrugging motion. After a minute he apprehensively looked up at Dick seeming as if he wanted to ask something. Dick waited patiently for the boy to ask his question.

Danny went back to playing with the edge of the blanket that was over his shoulders and practically swallowed up his small form, pooling in his lap. He took a breath before speaking, “can I turn human?” He said quietly, pronouncing each word carefully. Dick’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“‘Turn human?’” Danny didn’t look up when he nodded.

“Yeah, Danny. You can turn human if you want.” Dick said, although he didn’t quite understand what he was agreeing to. He should ask Bruce about that later too.

Danny smiled at the teen before a blinding white ring appeared at his waist. It split into two, one moving up, the other moving down, leaving a black haired, blue eyed boy in its wake. He was wearing bloodied and torn jeans and a dirt covered NASA t-shirt. His black hair was greasy and grimy, and his pale skin was streaked with mud and blood. He was barefoot. Dick stared at the boy for a minute in shock before swallowing the lump that formed in his throat. He grabbed the boy’s exposed forearm, looking over him.

“Are you hurt?” He asked worriedly. Danny shook his head. Dick let out a sigh of relief and stood up, not letting go of Danny, making him stand too. He led the boy to the bathroom.

“Why don’t you clean up a little before we go. I’ll go get some clothes for you and leave them outside the door, okay?” Danny nodded and walked cautiously inside the bathroom to shower while Dick went to wait outside of the bedroom in the hall.

About ten minutes later Danny emerged from the room wearing a too-big navy blue sweatshirt and black sweatpants that were slightly large and dragged underneath his barefeat. Dick smiled and kneeled down, rolling the edges of the sweatpants up enough so Danny wouldn’t trip over them. When Dick straightened, he held out his hand for the boy to take. Danny huffed.

“‘M not little kid.” He mumbled. Dick raised his eyebrow.

“You sure? You're so tiny I couldn’t tell.” Danny let out a sound of indignation and looked at the taller male with a pout. Dick simply laughed at the display.

“The pout isn’t helping your case,” Danny huffed again and grabbed the teen’s hand, mostly out of worry of getting lost. The two made their way to the dining room, Danny trailed behind slightly, looking around as they walked.

Bruce looked up from the newspaper he was reading at when he heard Dick and Danny enter. He briefly looked at the two, doing a double take when he caught Danny’s darker hair and blue eyes. He looked between his ward and the boy. After a few scans, he set down the newspaper, standing up.

“Alfred made breakfast. I have some business to tend to.” He gave Dick a meaningful look, tilting his head to the door in indication that he wanted to talk to him alone. Dick led Danny over to where Alfred was still cooking bacon and the boy peered over the counter and watched the butler who pulled the boy’s hand away from the spraying grease and pulled a chair over, helping the boy stand on the chair and watch.

The two Bats walked outside the kitchen and went to Bruce’s office. Dick started to explain, “he asked if he could ‘turn human’. Oh, and I found him sleeping under the bed, he said it was more comfortable. But Bruce, I know him from somewhere. I swear I do.” Dick said earnestly. Bruce sighed and nodded, glancing back at the way to the kitchen.

“Do you have a piece of hair?”

“Creepy.” Bruce glared at him, clearly unamused. Dick rolled his eyes and shook his head, “no, but his old clothes had blood on them.” Bruce nodded and grabbed a letter opener. Dick seeing where this was going, held his hand out and Bruce made a shallow cut in Dick’s palm and covered the letter opener in it. Dick grabbed a tissue and went to grab Danny’s bloody clothes and gave them to Bruce.

“I’ll run DNA, but I need you to stay with him today. I have a meeting at the Watchtower.”

“But I thought I was going to the mountain for mandatory ‘team bonding.’” Dick once again rolled his eyes at the prospect. He thought it was a waste of time. They weren’t a soccer team, they didn’t need “team bonding”.

“He’s coming with you,” Bruce responded as if it was no big deal.

“He’s coming with me? And do what, participate? Why can’t he stay here with Alfred? Not like he’s going to be alone.”

“Yes, he’s coming with you. I don’t know what he will do, maybe he’ll watch or maybe he’ll participate, it’s up to him as long as he stays with you. I don’t want to risk leaving him here and Alfred has work to do. He is most likely being hunted right now by people who have technology we are not familiar with.”

 

Dick nodded, “when will the DNA test results be ready?”

“Tonight, we can check when we get back.”

The teen hesitated, glancing back to the way they came, “do you think it’s him?”

Bruce sighed, “I don’t know. Maybe. You go back, let him know I’m going to start the test, then we’ll leave in about an hour.” Dick nodded and left to the kitchen, but Bruce stopped him.

“Dick?” Said boy paused to look at his guardian. “Try not to get your hopes up, okay? I don’t want to see you hurt.” Dick smiled at his mentor and nodded before leaving and Bruce went down to the cave.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Dick smiled at the scene in front of him. Danny was standing on the edge of the chair in front of the stove, the sleeves of the sweatshirt rolled up to his elbows, flour was caked along his arms and was streaked on his face as he tried to flip a pancake. Alfred was standing next to him with his hands out in preparation of the kid falling off. Pancake batter was on the stove top and all over the counter, and a plate of somewhat burnt bacon was on the table.

Dick knew that Danny wasn’t a young child, he was only five years younger than him, and the teen knew that the boy had gone through traumas that were beyond unspeakable and only something that a full-blown adult could only imagine in their nightmares, but it was incredibly hard to view him like that.

The boy was really small for his age in both weight and stature, and he looked even smaller in the ill fitting clothes, and there was the way he looked at everything like a toddler would, with wonder and curiosity. His limited English didn’t help either.

Danny flipped the batch of pancakes, and looked over at the butler, smiling. Alfred smiled back and said something quietly to him. Dick walked up to the two.

“Hey Danny, we have to go to the mountain today. Why don’t you clean up and we can eat then get ready.” Danny nodded and hopped off the chair, landing soundlessly on the ground and then running to the bathroom to wash off the flour and pancake batter. He came back a minute later and sat at the table.

After eating and getting changed or-for Danny-transforming back to his ghost from, Batman dropped the two off at the mountain before heading to the Watchtower.

Chapter Text

Robin led Danny from the zeta portals and into the communal living room where the rest of the team was waiting. Danny scanned the others and stepped a little closer to Robin, he was still not used to the older teens.

M’gann looked over to the entrance and saw Robin with Danny. She smiled at them.

“Hi! Black Canary told us to meet her in the training room when you showed up.” She said, standing up. The rest of the teens stood too, some of them looking over to Danny in question but nobody asked. Robin caught the questioning looks and gently pulled Danny to stand in front of him, letting go of his hand and placed his gloved ones on the small shoulders of the Halfa. Danny shifted away from the group in front of him, but couldn’t go anywhere because of Robin holding him in place.

“You guys remember Danny.” Robin said, motioning to the boy with his chin. The others nodded.

Kaldur stepped forward, “not that we’re opposed to him being here, but why is he here? I would have thought he would stay with Batman or at the cave.”

Robin briefly glanced down at the boy who was watching Artemis and Wally playfully bicker with wide, curious eyes. He made a move to go over to them, but hesitated when he remembered Robin. Robin let go and motioned he was allowed to go. Danny padded over to the two and Robin looked back to Kaldur.

“Batman doesn’t want him alone and he had a meeting about Danny’s situation, it would have been...problematic to have him present, so he came with me.” Aqualad just nodded in acceptance, and turned his attention to the rest of the team.

Artemis and Wally were bantering back and forth while Conner and M’gann were off to the side talking. Danny was sitting cross-legged in front of the archer and speedster watching the verbal tennis match between the two teens. Kaldur sighed at their antics and went over to M’gann and Conner. Robin called Danny over to him.

When the boy approached the older teen, Robin smirked.

“Ar trebui să ne ascundem în coridoare.” (We should go hide in the rafters.) The teen stated with a mischievous curve to his mouth. Danny’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“De ce?” (Why?)

Dick frowned slightly, “pentru a bate echipa. Duh.” (to prank the Team. Duh.)

This time Danny frowned. “Dar doamna verde a spus că trebuie să întâlnim pe cineva numit Canarul Negru.” (But the green lady said we have to meet someone called the Black Canary.)

Dick’s smirk returned, “Ei bine, amintiți-vă ce spun ei: ‘trăiți viața la maxim.’” (Well, remember what they say, ‘live life to the fullest.’) Danny rolled his eyes.

“What?” The teen asked.
“Asta e brânză. Dacă vrei să spui ceva cliche, cel puțin schimba-l puțin.” (That’s cheesy. If your going to say something cliche, at least change it up a bit.) The young boy stated.

“Ei bine, cum altfel ai putea spune asta?” (Well, how else could you say it?)

Danny started ticking his fingers, “viața este pentru cei vii, viața este a ta de a alege, viața are nevoie de un pic de nebunie-” (life is for the living, life is yours to choose, life needs a little bit of madness-)

“Ok, that last one sounds like what the Joker would say.” Robin interrupted.

“Joker?” Danny asked.

“I’m sure you’ll meet him eventually. Come on, let's go do team bonding, since you don’t want to prank anyone...yet.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Batman stalked into the large conference room where the rest of the League resided. All the other heroes were sitting in silence, waiting for the meeting to start. In the center of the “U” shaped table Superman sat, on his right was Wonder Woman and on his left was Green Arrow. Flash, who was bouncing his knee rapidly-the only sort of movement in the room-sat next to Martian Manhunter on the left of Green Arrow, and finally Aquaman sat across from Martian Manhunter, next to Wonder Woman. Batman walked to the center of the room and dropped a thin file in front of Superman, who took it, but didn’t look in it, instead opting to shoot the Bat a concerned and confused glance.

“Where is the kid? Shouldn’t he be with you? He has a shady, unknown agency after him. It’s not good to leave him alone.” The Kryptonian points out. The rest of the team turned to the Dark Knight, faces mirroring the Man of Steel’s concern.

“He’s with the Young Justice Team. Robin will stay close and they won’t leave the mountain under any circumstances and if anything happens the team and Canary will know what to do.” He replied, “and it probably isn't good to have him here as we talk about his past.” The others just nod in agreement, tension in their postures loosening. Superman finally turned his attention down to the file and opened it, scanning the contents before looking back up at the Caped Crusader.

“Is this the file from the facility he was held in?” Batman nodded. Superman glanced back down, a mask of sadness and anger overtaking his features before he passed it to Wonder Woman who did the same.

After all the heroes had read the file, they all had mixed emotions. They stayed silent, waiting for the patient Batman to continue.

“I’m keeping him with me and Robin at the mansion. He will have to come everywhere with us, or at least always have a hero or the team around him. I’m opening an investigation on the agency and trying to work out how to bring them down. They are unknown, so we have to be careful.”

Superman sighed, glancing over to the file that was now reaching Martian Manhunter. “Poor kid’s been through hell.” The others nodded solemnly in agreement.

“He is so small.” Wonder Woman muttered, looking over at the open file with a fairly recent picture of the kid. The others looked at her before turning their gaze to the photo.

“Yeah. We noticed.” Batman said, a careful flatness to his tone.

“Do you think it's a health thing, or part of his powers? I mean, he is incredibly tiny for someone of his age.” Flash commented. The speedster glanced up to Batman who surprisingly looked concerned.

“I don’t know. He’s small, but it doesn’t seem to affect his health. I think it must be a mix of genetics and his powers. Not to mention the abuse and malnourishment.” The others nodded again.

“So, he’s going to be under house arrest the whole time?” Flash asked. Batman narrowed his eyes at the man.

“I wouldn’t call it house arrest. It's not safe for him to go out into public. You know that.” Batman responded. Those who paid very close attention would be able to detect a hint of defensiveness in his dry tone.

“Yeah, I know that, but it’s almost like saving him from one prison to put him in another, flashier version. And the kid is smart, he’ll recognize that you're trying to keep him safe eventually, but it won’t change the fact that he’s a kid who lived most of his life trapped and imprisoned. He’ll grow to hate you, regardless of your intentions.” Flash stated, for once serious. Batman, uncharacteristically, hesitated.

“I know. But what's another way he can go out without putting him at risk?” Batman asked. Flash shrugged helplessly glancing at his hands before looking back up at the older man.

“He’s never not going to be at risk. I honestly think he would be the safest when going out with Batman rather than Bruce Wayne.” Flash suggested.

“He has a point. Bruce Wayne can’t fight back, but Batman can.” Superman pointed out.

Batman sighed. He could understand what they were saying, but Batman only went out at night for patrol….maybe he could try bringing the kid along one time with him and Robin? He sighed again. He couldn’t risk doing that until he’s healthy, mentally and physically.

“Your advice is appreciated, and I have it under control.” Batman checked the time. They’ve been gone for about three hours. He looks back up at the other heroes. “We should probably go see how the team is doing on their training and team bonding.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Robin was shaking from trying to maintain his laughter. He was trying so hard not to double over at his teammates-excluding Kaldur who was standing next to him, shaking his head with a miniscule smile on his face as he watched the scene.

In front of them, a small eleven year old stood in front of a pile of superpower or very skilled teenagers and one adult. Surrounding them was a brightly glowing green dome and the mats and walls were singed and smoking. Danny, in his ghost form, stood in front of the group that was still in a dog pile, all of them bruised and mildly injured, the ghost’s hands had a glowing green aura to match the dome.

At the pained groan from Kid Flash, Robin couldn’t help himself, finally falling to the floor, laughing. After a minute or two, and a glare from the majority of the other heroes who had finally untangled themselves and stood up inside the dome, Robin collected himself and walked over to Danny.

As Robin approached Danny, the Zeta tubes announced the arrival of Flash, Batman, and Superman.

As the three elders walked into the room and took in the scene. Robin looked at the stoic face of his mentor and immediately blurted out an excuse.

“It was an accident, I swear.”

Batman’s face didn’t change.

“He asked if he could try sparring and we were hesitant, but thought it'd be fine, and soon he had beat all of them. At the same time.” He said the last part slowly, as if hesitant to add that detail. Batman sighed. He didn’t want to deal with this right now. He wanted to go home.

“Let’s go. Come on Danny.” He directed the last statement at the boy softly, holding out his hand for emphasis. The boy’s hands lost their green glow and the dome went down as Danny padded over to the Dark Knight, reaching up to grab his hand. He looked up at the man with large green eyes before they shifted over to Robin who was walking over.

The teenager looked up to his mentor’s face, “are the results in?” Batman nodded. The three made their way back to the Zeta tube, Danny changing back to his human form as they walked.

<><><><><><><><><><>

“Sir, we have a location.”

Chapter Text

“Sir, we have a location”

The agent told his superior nervously. Agent K could face the biggest and baddest ghosts. He’s made the Halfa cry out in pain and fear, but here, now, standing in front of his temperamental boss, he was terrified. Agent A wasn’t a patient man and when he was told that he had to wait for the Halfa to slip up before they could find him, he was not pleased. As the days turned to weeks, Agent A got angrier and angrier.

Agent K lost the bet and was forced to tell his boss the news.

“About fucking time Agent. Where is he?” The man growled. Agent K turned and started walking to the lab.

“As you know, the Halfa had blips once and awhile on our radars, but never long or large enough for us to get and locate his ecto signature. However, at 17:00 there was a surge of ecto energy in a place known as Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. He currently is being held in a facility used by the teenage sidekick team, ‘The Young Justice League.’ Presumably he is being protected by the superheroes and the children. Sir, how do you wish to proceed?” Agent A stopped, thoughtful. Agent K stopped walking as well and waited for his boss to answer.

The white clad man smiled psychotically at his employee.

“Let’s go get it.”

Agent K took awhile to answer, “we will be outnumbered if we only send the retrieval squad.”

“Send all the man power we’ve got. Take no prisoners and eliminate every obstacle.” Agen A looked the younger in the eyes.

“I don’t care how you do it. Get. The. Halfa.”

The agent smirked at his boss. He could use this desperate order. He took a breath.

“I can do that,” before his boss walked away, he continued, “if you let me have my old partner.”

Agent A growled. Agent K hurriedly explained, “sir, your going to have to use him eventually, what’s he going to do on the bench, I mean-”

“Agent. Stand down.”

Agent K continued to ramble nervously, “no one has more resilience and I know he almost killed the test subject, but who hasn’t? I would reall-”

“Agent! I said stand. Down. Now.” Agent A barked more forcefully than before. Agent K closed his mouth.

“I will send Agent O on the retrieval mission as a test run of whether or not I can reinstate him. Now go debrief others and move out. Understood?”
“Yes Sir.”

Within the hour, all the available agents the GIW had were ready and in the helicopter, heading toward Happy Harbor.

<><><><><><><><><><>

“SKULKER!” Tucker ran as fast as he could through the base. He searched every room and was screaming on the top of his lungs, his PDA clutched tightly in his hands.

“SAM! TECHNUS!” It had been a few months since they had started watching Danny, and they weren’t prepared for this so soon.

Two figures rushed out of a room ahead and ran towards the frantic boy.

“Tucker, what is it, what's wrong?” Technus asked the panicked boy.

“They have his location. They are almost at the mountain. What are we going to do?” Technus’ face changes from concerned to full on panic.

“SKULKER!” Technus took off down the hall, leaving the two kids behind. Sam and Tucker glanced at each other before following the ghost.

<><><><><><><><><><>

The hunting ghost sighed in exasperation. Placing the papers he was looking over down and standing to walk out of the room. As he pulled the curtain to his makeshift office aside, he came face to face with one concerned ghost and two panicked children.

“Can I help you?” he growled, annoyed at being disrupted.

“The GIW are on their way to take Danny. Right now.” Sam cried out. Skulker didn’t hesitate. He flew over to his desk and grabbed the small radio and immediately barked orders into it to the ghosts who were on guard duty.

“Code White. Activate Operation Discharge. Now!” He turned back to the other three.

“We are going to go to the meeting area while Amorpho and Ember are retrieving the Halfa. We need to move. We will worry about everything later.” The three nodded and followed Skulker out of the base and to the meet up area.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Danny was about to go back to the Batcave with the two Bats when the flashing red lights overtook his senses. The world turned into blurs again and Danny started breathing quickly. He registered Batman pulling him towards his larger form and kneeling down to look at him. He was saying something but Danny couldn’t hear what it was, and his hand was passed off to Robin.

Robin grabbed Danny, pulled him close, and turned to the Zeta tubes, debating whether to run or to look for safety. Before he could decide, the entire mountain went dark.

“Shit. Vino una, trebuie să găsim undeva în siguranță.” (Come on, we need to find somewhere safe) Danny clutch Robin’s hand and let out small whine, his eyes shut tight. Robin looked down at the boy and started pulling him around.

As he was blindly running through the darkened hallways, trying to remember where a safe room was, he felt a sharp and forceful tug and he heard a shriek of fear before he turned to find Danny gone, only pitch black.

“Danny?” The word echoed down the empty hall.

Chapter Text

Danny screamed as loud as he could. He still wasn’t healthy enough to let out his wail, but he still would scream until his voice gave out. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get the chance to destroy his vocal cords just yet as his scream was cut off abruptly by a rough, large hand clamping over his mouth hard enough to bruise. Danny struggled, but the arm that was restraining him by his abdomen held strong. Danny tried to use his powers to escape but in his panic they didn’t work. Eventually he heard the man holding him let out a grunt and Danny, with renewed strength, started kicking and flailing. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in the side of his neck.

Then he felt nothing.

The world turned black.

<><><><><><><><><><>

The young boy's eyes opened blearily. The first thing he registered was a familiar cold metal encasing his neck. The second thing he registered was the aching in his muscles from the harsh concrete-like surface he was collapsed on. Finally, the pieces clicked together and he opened his eyes to stare at the ceiling.

The white ceiling.

Whitewhitewhitewhitewhite-

He lifted a (fractured?) hand to his neck slowly, feeling freezing metal attached to a chain. He didn’t know where the chain led, and he didn’t care to look. He didn’t care about anything other than the whitewhitewhite and the cold metal surrounding his neck.

Finally getting enough energy to look around he saw the harsh white walls. Smooth white walls. Perfectly clean.

‘At least they gave me a new room.’ Finally he noticed something off. Something was different about this room. He should know he spent Seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 15? hours in the last one.

There was no door.

There used to be a metal door that was always locked on the far side of the room. Danny would, for the first year, pound and scream and try with all his strength and desperation to open the large, intimidating door. That’s one of the reasons he got the muzzle.

But now it's gone. Nothing left but smooth walls, smooth ceiling, smooth floor. All perfectly white.

Danny slowly rose from his position on the floor as the effect of the mysterious drug started to seep out of his system. The fuzziness in his head was clearing and the sharp pains started to become more apparent. The boy sighed.

‘Guess that’s partly my fault for struggling.’ He felt the shifting of the collar and turned his attention to the chain, leading back to the wall. He sighed again, and his small frame slumped in defeat.

‘Maybe the Batman and Robin will help you. Don’t give up.’ Danny’s eyes watered before he harshly pushed the hopelessness and overwhelming devastation down and hardened his face.

‘No. They won’t. I’m on my own. When was the last time anyone ever wanted to help me?’

Chapter Text

The rebels panicked. They had arrived too late, and now the key to winning their home back, arguably the most valuable person in the ghost zone, the future leader of the infinite realms was in the hands of the most dangerous group of humans they know.

“Skulker. We need to get him out. Now.” Sam growed to the mechanical ghost. Said ghost looked from the locator he was studying to glare at the girl.

“And we will. In fact, we have his location right now. We just need to prepare. We will get the whelp by the end of the day.” Sam nodded, still tense, but accepting the explanation nonetheless.

“When will we be prepared?” Tucker asked, apparently not okay with waiting any longer.

“Within the hour. Now, go talk to Technus so you know what to do when we bring him back. Understood?” The two kids nodded at the ghost before turning and running off to find Technus.

And as Skulker had promised, approximately forty-five minutes later, over a dozen ghosts with different skill sets were moving through the portal the Wulf had ripped open. It led right outside the GIW facility into the outskirts of the woods.

Some of the ghosts that were going were Ember, Skulker, Wulf, Amorpho, Lunch Lady, Walker, a few other volunteers, and a bunch of Walker’s guards. Technus, Sam, Tucker, and the rest of the Alliance watched them off, unable to go for various reasons. As soon as the portal closed behind them, the rest of the ghosts and the two humans scurried off to get ready for the Halfa’s arrival.

Skulker and Walker took the point, leading the small rescue squad through the trees to a good lookout point.

After a few minutes, Walker gave the signal and all the ghosts took off to their positions. Checking to make sure no alarms were set off, he slowly made his way to the trees closest to the side entrance.

With a nod to Skulker who was a few yards to his left, the rescue had begun.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Danny sat in the exact position he was in the last time he had been found.

In the corner of the room, he sat as small as possible. He hugged his knees as close to him as he could without aggravating his almost-completely healed ribs. His eyes were clasped tightly closed and he was moving slightly back and forth, trying to distract himself from his fear.

It’s not actual fear of the experiments. Sadly, the young boy was far too used to the inhumane treatment to be honest-to-God afraid, no it was the waiting, the anticipation. He’s still a child, one that never was able to mature and grow emotionally, he may have hardened from seven years, 3 months, 2 week, 6 days, 9 hours of torture, but he’s still a kid.

Then, something amazingly familiar happened. The alarms went off.

He would celebrate, but his senses are going haywire and all he could do was curl up tighter against the wall-his ribs be damned-and try his hardest to block out all the loud noises and flashing lights. Danny let out a whine as he realized his feeble attempt of a barrier doesn’t help his senses.

He lost track of time and didn’t pay attention to his surroundings until he felt two large hands grab him from under his arms and pick him up. Danny caught a glance at the big white figure and immediately started fighting. The arms held him practically immobile, one arm over his chest and one over his abdomen, pinning both his arms to his sides. As he struggled he didn’t notice another figure unlocking the collar from around his neck. As soon as the metal fell to the floor, Danny stopped struggling, instead he let his eyes flicker from one thing to another, not registering anything.

“Calm down! Calm down!” The one holding him whisper yelled. Danny flinched at the sudden voice, but he forced himself to slow his breathing nonetheless and focused on the odd figure in front of him.

The child looked at Skulker with wide glowing green eyes. He let out a nearly inaudible whimper and his lower lip started to tremble. Skulker shot a slightly panicked look up to Walker. The warden just shrugged and motioned with his chin to hurry up.

“Uh, Hey...child….calm down. You're going to be fine….probably.” Skulker hesitantly said, looking uncomfortable.Walker glared at him before rolling his eyes. Carefully, the white ghost pressed the sides of his neck until the boy fell limp. Walker gently slid his hand under the boy’s knees, the other across his shoulders. He looked back at the mechanical ghost.

“We need to move. We’ve wasted enough time,” he paused, “and next time we’re dealing with a scared child, I’m bringing Lunch Lady.” He finished, walking away.

<><><><><><><><><><>

They were able to make it in and out of the facility without any problems. They did end up setting the alarms off, but managed to evade all the unprepared agents.

When they entered the base, they were immediately bombarded with questions from those who didn’t go on the mission. Walker pushed past everyone, not answering any of the questions thrown at him. He went directly to the guarded room they had set up for Danny and carefully placed the young Halfa down on the small cot. He glanced at the child before leaving, nodding at the three guards as he passed. He headed to the makeshift conference room to debrief the rest of the rebels about how to proceed.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Miles away, a large, intimidating figure sat up straight in his throne. A large, dark smile formed under the armor he was wearing.

“He’s here.”

Chapter Text

Sam and Tucker sat next to the cot their friend was laying in for a total of two days, never leaving his side. Not once within those days did he wake.

The children each held one of the Halfa’s cold hands in theirs. Even when Technus had brought them food. They refused to leave him alone again, not after last time when he was taken right under their noses. No ghost tried to stop them either, after Tucker gripped Danny’s arm and honest to god growled at Skulker while Sam screamed at them, throwing whatever she could reach at the ghost, they all figured it easier to leave them as they were and work around them when caring for the half ghost.

So for two days, they sat there together, talking to the small, unconscious form of their best friend.

And finally, finally, he woke up.

When he woke up it wasn’t like a movie scene. He didn’t wake up and smile at them. He didn’t slowly open his eyes and look around. He didn’t even groan.

His eyes snapped open unnaturally fast and he sat up just as quickly. The boy jerked his hand away from the other two, holding them together and clutched against his chest as if they burned him. He took one look at the unfamiliar environment, eyes ghosting over Sam and Tucker, before he disappeared into thin air.

He deemed this weird place dangerous because Dick and Bruce were not there.

They were missing, which means that the people who took him were strangers and therefore they were unpredictable.

Bruce and Dick were gone. They were probably dead. And he was alone. Alone in a strange place. The invisible boy covered his mouth and nose with his hand to silence the whimpers and the sound of his harsh breathing. He clenched his eyes shut tightly, not wanting to look at anything in the weird dangerous room.

He hadn’t moved from his spot on the bed, only hovering slightly to avoid a compression mark on the soft material, and used his invisibility to hide from view. He wanted to leave. He wanted to run as fast as he could and get away from these strangers and look for Dick and Bruce, because no matter what he will find them.

‘Or you’ll find their corpses.’ The voice in the back of his head whispered. He shook his head roughly, a few drops of water leaking from the corners of his eyes as he tried to banish the thought.

He knew he was panicking and he knew these thoughts were completely irrational. And he knew he would berate himself endlessly when he was alone for being so idiotic and allowing himself to panic in front of these strangers. But in that moment of pure unfamiliarity, he couldn’t do anything else but panic. Luckily for him, he can hide from them until he calmed down enough to actually use his brain.

But that didn't happen right then. No, at that moment he was desperately keeping silent as a few tears slipped down his face from his closed eyes.

Danny just wanted to go home. Not to Dick and Bruce, not to the Fentons, but all the way back. Back to the circus, he wanted to be Daniel Grayson again. He wanted his brother back.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Pariah Dark was a patient ghost when it came to the downfall of his enemies. Or pests that could stop his rein upon the Infinite Realms. He had waited nearly nine years to rid himself of the irritating boy who was capable of killing him and stripping him of his power, he had waited nine years for the boy to come into the Ghost Zone, to his range of power. And now it finally happened. The tyrant could feel the unique power roaming around. He couldn’t pinpoint the exact coordinates like he normally could for the more powerful ghosts, but he could tell that he had entered this dimension.

The only question now was how he should proceed.

He had no doubt that those rebels had him locked up somewhere for protection, and while he assumed that he could easily obliterate the pathetic group of ghosts, he didn’t know what resources they had and who they had on their side. It would be foolish to rush into battle without knowing of all the variables.

Pariah Dark started to gather a few ghosts who he thought would be able to go undercover to discreetly take the whelp, without much bloodshed. As much as he wished he could teach them a lesson, bloodshed would ultimately be worse in the long run.

The ghosts he had gathered were mainly shape-shifting ghosts. All of them were fairly young, seeing as the most experienced shape-shifters were on the enemy side. He swore one of these days he would kill all those traitorous nuisances. One. By. One.

Getting off track, the King turned his attention back to the ghosts he called here. He smiled.

“One of you will be going on a small undercover mission into the rebel base. Your job will be to study and learn the behavior traits of a specimen and shift into this organism. You will have to act exactly like it for the time period you are undercover.” He started walking back and forth in front of the ghosts who were stoic, backs straight, paying close attention to every word he says. “If you mess up, even once you will undoubtedly be captured and eliminated. Whether it's me or the rebels that does that is indeterminable at this point in time. Just know that if you fail, eradication is a guarantee.” He growled the threat at the recruits, stepping back so that he could see them all at once. The ghosts gulped.

“Do I make myself clear?” All of them nodded quickly.

“Good. Let’s get started.”

He motioned with one large hand to the guard at the door, who in turn nodded and opened the door.

Not long after the heavy doors were opened, another two guards dragged a limp figure into the room.

The figure was no older than a fifteen year old human girl. She was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, along with black shoes. Her overall appearance was disheveled and dirt-covered, and she had a few bruises, but other than that she wasn’t injured or malnourished in the slightest. She was dazed and not fully alert to her surroundings, looking around with clouded teal eyes.

“Recruits, meet Jasmine Fenton.”

Chapter Text

The ghosts didn’t know what to do. They had unconsciously been relying on the boy recognizing the two humans and being cooperative, and they hadn’t actually predicted that he would be this frightened. They realized how idiotic that was, because now here they were, running around the base frantically looking for the young boy who held their entire future after he had panicked and disappeared.

Sam and Tucker were at a loss as well. They had figured that he would remember them, seeing as they knew how intelligent the Halfa was and how he had near-perfect recall. They had thought he had an eidetic memory, even thought as a younger child he had subconsciously blocked out certain traumatic events. It hurt them when they learned that he had a family but he didn’t quite remember what had happened to them other than they died tragically and was separated from a sibling afterwards. It hurt them when he found out that he could remember his foster family clearly and he could recall with precision what happened to them but he couldn’t even tell them what his birth mother’s name was.

The two wanted nothing more than to find the boy and make sure he was sheltered from the harsh world around him. And while they agreed with the cause the ghosts were fighting for, the absolute last thing they wanted was to rescue the small Halfa only to send him out to war. But they knew that the boy could handle it. However what was important right now was to find the half ghost, and they hoped and prayed the boy was aware and intelligent enough to not leave the base.

Everyone was so frantic and panicked that they were about ready to obliterate the person who was banging on the door to their secret base.

Skulker crept toward the door, weapons drawn as he ordered a few of the bystanders to continue the search for the boy. All of those in the vicinity flinched slightly at the harsh tone of the hunter and ran off to look. The metallic ghost cautiously opened the door, guns pointed at the person on the other side.

There was a teenage human girl with fiery red hair and teal eyes at the doorstep of the rebel base. She looked dirty and shaken, but overall injury free save a few scrapes and bruises. The ghost automatically knew something was amiss as questions filled his head.

‘Who is she? How did she get here? Why is she here?’

The girl finally noticed the door had opened and looked up at the ghost. To the normal eye, it looked as if she was scared, but Skulker has been in this fight for a long time and he caught the hesitation before the empty scared look that crossed her face. Skulker knew that whoever this was, it wasn’t someone to be trusted.

But it was someone that could give them information. It was risky, especially with the Halfa in the base and currently missing, but it was a risk they would have to take.

“Hello, is there something I can help you with, child?” Skulker asked in a false gentle voice. The child let out a small whine.

“Please help me.” Skulker led the kid to the most high security room that they had. He sat her at the end of the cot and kneeled in front of her.

“What’s your name?” He asked in the same falsely gentle voice.

“Ja-Jas-mine Fen-ton.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Danny was lost. Not emotionally or mentally, he was physically lost. At this point he was less scared than annoyed at his own idiocy.

After he had watched people come in and out of the room that he had woken up in, and the more he witnessed the freedom that he may or may not have, he decided to at least try to escape because if after two hours of being “missing” and still nothing, what’s the worst that could happen?

Apparently, getting lost for an additional three hours.

He hit another dead end.

‘If I recall correctly, that’s the seventy-eighth dead end.’

‘That many?’

‘Yes that many, you imbecile. Are you having difficulty understanding? Would you like me to spell it out for you, mi amigo?’

‘Shut the fuck up.’

“Great now I’m having full fledged conversations with the voices in my head.” The boy hissed quietly to himself as he carefully looked around the corner. He had dropped invisibility in order to preserve energy, only picking it up again when he was not alone.

“Have I gone mad?” He muttered, still half distracted in his scan of the hallway.

‘Absolutely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.’ The boy growled quietly before cutting himself off, remembering where he was.

‘You can cram your references up your ass. We only saw that movie once. And I thought I told you to shut your trap.’

‘1) I’m in your head, so ‘shoving my references up my ass’ doesn’t work, now does it? And 2) rude. And you say I’m the asshole.’

Danny was about ready to scream and disregard the stealth escape when he ran down a hallway and heard voices.

‘You’ve been hearing voices, buttercup.’

He glared at the wall.

Shaking his head in an attempt to clear his mind, he turned invisible and crept silently towards the source of the sounds. He phased (in his human form) through the door. What he saw nearly sent him into panic.

There was a teenager sitting across from the metallic ghost that had brought him here. The teenager was familiar.

“What’s your name?” The ghost asked, not unkindly but certainly with fake kinmess.

“Ja-Jas-mine Fen-ton.” The girl said, voice breaking and shaky and with tear tracks running lines in the dirt that covered her face.

Danny wanted--he wanted so badly to believe that this was his sister. That this was Jazzy. But he’s not an idiot. He can sense the ecto-signature and can see the hesitations in the movements. It was if this impostor wasn’t entirely sure how to act and had to think about it.

Danny dropped his invisibility, carefully masking his emotions.

If someone wanted to fuck with him they sure as hell not going to outplay him in manipulation. He’s been doing this since he was five.

‘Game on.’

The quiet hiccups the girl had been letting out were stalled and her breath hitched when she caught sight of the small Halfa clad in slightly bloody sweatpants and t-shirt, both of which made him appear smaller than he was and presenting him as fragile or frail. Danny hated appearing fragile or frail, but it was natural and there was little he could do other than use it to his advantage.

Skulker had seen the teen’s eyes darting to the side and heard her breath catching so he turned quickly around and was relieved to see the source of his frustration for the past five hours standing behind him at the door. That relief quickly soured to horror when he realized just how dangerous this could become.

The girl closed her eyes for a bit and in the moment the boy locked eyes with the ghost, shaking his head slightly with one finger pressed to his lips, the message of ‘trust me, play along’ in his now-green eyes.

The girl reopened her eyes before abruptly standing and running to the boy and hugging him tightly. Danny smirked before wiping it away and forced tears down his face. His facial expression didn’t change as the tears flowed and he repeated his foster sister’s name. Skulker, seeing the stoney expression even though broken sobs and tears, narrowed his eyes.

“Jazzy”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Silently, a ghost glided down the frozen hallways, passing the immobile skeleton as he headed straight to the throne room. When he walked it he looked to the redhead chained in the corner before grabbing the restraints and releasing her. He pulled out a gear-shaped medallion and slipped it on her neck. She jolted into motion. Noticing the being in front of her, she met his red eyes as he smiled kindly down at her.

“Hello Jasmine Fenton. I’m Clockwork, the one who brought you here.”

Chapter Text

Batman and Robin seemed very calm compared to the rest of the team, who were all yelling over each other, trying to get answers from the Bat. The two vigilantes just waited semi-patiently, indifferent masks firmly in place.

After twenty minutes, it became painfully clear that no one was going to stop on their own. The Dark Knight, who was beyond angry and incredibly worried at this point, decided to give them a….gentle nudge to clue them into the severity of the situation and how they were wasting time.

“I will kill every single one of you slowly and painfully if you don't shut the hell up right now.”

The silence that followed the statement was deafening.

“We just wasted valuable time we could have spent looking for him. I knew you weren't geniuses, but I thought you at least had some intelligence.” Batman growled.

“Hey!” Flash and Kid Flash yelled out in unison, only to receive the full brunt of the Bat Glare, making them shrink back.

Robin stepped forward, a little shocked at his mentor's outburst, but understanding nonetheless. The small movement managed to draw the attention to him. “He's worried. We all are, but we need to focus on finding Danny before anything bad happens.” The bluntness was almost eye opening to the others, realizing with a crash of guilt, that they could have been looking by now instead of bickering. They all nodded.

“What should we do?” Superman asked. Batman, having calmed down slightly, thought for a second.

“Well he was taken by the Ghost Investigation Ward. However I don’t know where they took him. It couldn’t have been out of the country, which is good. We also don’t know if he managed to escape. First thing we need to do is look out for Cadmus bases and GIW facilities.”

“Why Cadmus?” Kid Flash asked, for once serious.

“Cadmus had funded the GIW after the government tried to close them down. They and Vlad Masters had been private benefactors before Masters had disappeared.”

After discussing a plan, they all set to work.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Their work so far had been useless.

It’s been about two weeks and they’ve hit dead end after dead end, finding nothing useful to discover the whereabouts of the young Halfa. Each day, the team witnessed their darkest members as they became worried and snappish, uncharacteristically showing more emotion than most of the other heroes and junior heroes thought they were capable of.

“Well, at least now we know they aren’t robots.” Wally muttered to Artemis as they watched Dick pace back and forth, running his hands through his hair. He was muttering under his breath and they could tell he hadn’t slept despite the dark glasses he wore.

Artemis elbowed Wally in the ribs causing him to yelp. She glared, “shut up Wally. We’re all worried. Stop acting like this isn’t a big deal.”

Wally rubbed the forming bruise, “look, the little dude is scary smart. And powerful for his size. I’m sure he managed to get away.”

Robin stopped pacing and snapped his attention to his friend. “He didn’t escape last time.”

No one spoke after that, and Robin continued pacing.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Skulker watched the two interact. The boy was good. If it weren’t for the fact that his face portrayed non emotion despite the way he sounded, the ghost would have been fooled. The girl was hugging him and sobbing, but the Halfa didn’t reciprocate due to the fact his arms were trapped (even if he could, he didn’t seem like he would.) He had decided that he would trust the Halfa and only step in if he was in any danger.

The hugging lasted for a good ten minutes and the mechanic was getting impatient but a sharp look from the small boy gave him the incentive to wait. Eventually, the boy pushed the girl away gently, clearly getting tired of the sobbing. The girl cupped his face and looked him over.

Skulker saw it a split second too late.

The hands that were holding the boy’s face started glowing orange, and her eyes morphed into the same color.

Then came the scent of burning flesh.

Chapter Text

Danny had fast reflexes. He always had, even before the accident. They just got enhanced by the portal.

He also knew that this was an impostor. This was a ghost and was not his sister.

When she cupped his face he immediately was alert, and when he felt an abnormal heat radiate from her hands, he made his move.

He wasn’t able to move fast enough to avoid burning the left side of his face, but he was quick enough for it to not be serious. (Don’t blame the reaction time, it was your miscalculation.) Nonetheless, in under thirty seconds his attacker was knocked out cold, revealing a thin and spangly ghost with black flaming hair.

The power of the ray he had sent at the ghost had pushed his small frame back a few feet from the recoil. He was holding his burnt face with a blue hand, watching the intruder lay on the ground. He heard the other ghost-Skulker?-yell something to someone in the hall and not a minute later two ghosts were dragging the unconscious shape-shifter out of the room. The robotic ghost kneeled in front of Danny to be closer to his height and placed two gentle, metal hands on his biceps.

“Are you okay? You’re hurt, we should get that burn looked at.” Danny just stared at the helmeted face.

Now that the impostor was gone, and after his surge of power, he just felt tired and overwhelmed. Tears gathered in his eyes and some of his anger returned. He was not a child. He never cries. So why the hell had he done it so much in the last few months. The hands on his arms calmly start rubbing in a soothing pattern. He finally composed himself and found his voice.

“I want go home.” He tried to hide the slight wobble in his tone, and looked the ghost in the eyes. “Don’t know where. Don’t know who you are. Want go home.” He knew he couldn’t, his home was gone. It has been gone for a long time. Nearly ten years. But as of right now, the closest thing he had was with the Batman and Robin, and he wanted to go back. And it made him angry that no one wanted to give him answers.

The mechanical ghost heaved a sigh, stood up, and gently grabbed his hand. He led the boy down to the medical center where large white yetis were waiting. Danny eyed them suspiciously, scanning them from head to toe. They seemed harmless (despite their bulking forms and sharp claws and teeth), simply there to take care of the patients. Then his eyes were drawn to one yeti who was sitting on a cot, his arm being wrapped with cloth. He was the most threatening, one arm being encased in ice and an air of power and authority surrounded him. The boy narrowed his eyes.

The robotic ghost continued forward towards the threat and Danny protested. He stopped his feet and tried to tug his hand free without taking his eyes off of the one armed yeti.

Skulker stopped when he felt the tug and looked at the boy. He was tense and staring at Frostbite. Skulker sighed. He didn’t have time for this. He turned and lifted the frighteningly light Halfa and continued walking.

Danny gave a quiet yelp when he was suddenly lifted easily from the ground by his companion. He debated whether or not to attack, but decided against it because the threat in front of him was of greater concern. Before he knew it, he was placed next to the large creature on the cot, both Yetis and the robotic ghost looking down on him. The boy shifted so that his back was pressed against the wall and his legs were pulled up on the cot and close to his chest. He eyed all of them silently.

The (doctor?) yeti smiled softly at the boy, before turning back to the yeti on the cot. She finished up and pinned the cloth quietly muttering some instructions to come back to get it changed to the other before walking away to put the supplies away. Skulker and the one armed yeti turned to him and then to each other.

“Is this the Great One? Didn’t think he would be so tiny” The large yeti rumbled. His voice was kind, and was lowered due to the quiet atmosphere. Danny scowled at the ‘tiny’ comment.

Skulker nodded, “yes. We had unwelcome company earlier and I have to go handle it and decide on what we should do. I sent for the whelps to come here and I need someone mature to watch and make sure nothing happens. We have some suspicions.” The yeti nodded and turned to the Halfa.

“Hello, Great One, my name is Frostbite. I am the leader of the Far Frozen Clan. Is it alright if I look at that burn?” The large creature asked. Danny narrowed his eyes slightly in suspicion. He carefully moved closer and let the creature prod the burn on his face. The wound had frosted over to accelerate the healing. Seeing the blue tinge and thin layer of frost, the large yeti’s eyes widened.

“He is of ice and snow.” The yeti informed Skulker. Danny shifted slightly to look at the leader. Annoyed he stood on the bed to be closer to the height of the other two. He growled softly. He is so sick and tired of not knowing what the fuck is going on and of everyone talking like he’s too stupid to understand.

“Ice and snow? What’s going on?” He said fiercely to the two ghosts. Gone was his cornered animal instincts and his innocent demeanor, in its place was one pissed off Halfa.

When neither answered, Danny let electricity pool in his palm, crackling up his forearms. The air around him dropped in temperature, causing frost to gather on Skulker’s armor. The electricity now dangerously danced around the Halfa gave off no heat.

‘If they won’t talk, I’ll try to scare the answers out of them.’

“Answer me.” He injected more of an echo to his voice, making it sound eerie.

“Calm down Great One, we mean no harm. We are simply shocked that your ghostly core is of ice and snow. It is very rare for such a strong core to be outside of the Far Frozen, let alone inside of a Halfa. However, I am confused.” Frostbite said, calming the boy down enough to allow the electricity to frizzle out and the temperature to rise, he tilted his head slightly in question.

“What confused about? I make cold.” The boy demonstrated by making a piece of ice form in his hand. Frostbite chuckled at the act.

“Yes, young one. You make cold, however you also make electricity. Ghosts normally don’t have a core that is capable of two different elements, especially not two opposite elements. So I’m confused how this is possible. Particularly because Halfas aren’t meant to be as powerful as you are.” Skulker cleared his throat, cutting off any further questioning from the boy.

“This changes things slightly, seeing as the whelp clearly can control his power to a great extent. I have to go discuss with Walker and the others as to what should happen.” He nodded goodbye to Frostbite and Danny before turning and leaving. Danny turned back to the large yeti ghosts.

“When can go home?” Frostbite frowned slightly at the choppy words before smiling apologetically at the boy.

“I am not sure, Great One. We all hope you will be returned to the costumed humans soon. Have you not met your human friends yet?” Danny slumped, upset and tired, before perking slightly at the mention of his “human friends.” Seeing the confusion on the boy’s face, the large ghost elaborated.

“Sir Tucker and Lady Sam. I was certain that they were there when you had awoken.” Danny remembered little from when he had first woken up, everything was just hazy and blurry with panic. Struggling to come up with the words to express this, he simply shrugged.

“You don’t remember? Did you hit your head?”

Danny wasn’t prepared for follow ups. He struggled to think of the English words he could use to make them understand.

“Everything was….neclare și înfricoșătoare” (Fuzzy and scary) Danny finally responded, giving up trying to think of the words.

“I’m sorry, young one. I don’t understand the language you are speaking. Do you struggle with English?” Danny nodded. He didn’t know what to do. He was too frustrated and the anger from before had yet to completely leave his system. He could barely remember the words he had learned years ago and the English lessons from Bruce and Dick were still too new.

The thought of the two Bats sent a pang through his chest. He briefly wondered when he started caring so much about them, but there was something about them. Bruce shared a similar pain, he had learned that the man had been orphaned at a young age too, and Dick just seemed….familiar. In a nice way.

The young boy was startled from his thoughts by the door being loudly opened. Two figures charged inside.

“Danny!” The half ghost in question scanned the two. It took only a minute for it to click.

“Sam? Tucker?” He hesitantly questioned. It’s been a long time and he was worried that he got it wrong. The two beamed at him before Tucker pounced. He rushed to the boy and threw his arms around Danny’s smaller frame. Danny warily lifted his arms and hugged back, not long after he did so Sam had joined.

They were interrupted by Skulker coming through. Frostbite stood and walked over to him with a smile.
“Sir Skulker! You have returned. I assume you have news on the situation?” The mechanical ghost glanced, almost nervously, at Danny, who was in between Sam and Tucker (both of which hadn’t let go. Sam was hugging his arm close to her and pulled to her side and Tucker’s arm was tightly holding him and was slung over his shoulders).

“Clockwork is back.” He said, pausing before he hesitantly added, “he brought someone.”

“Who has he brought?” Skulker didn’t answer, ignoring his question completely.

“He has to come with us.” Frostbite frowned.

“Are we sure it's safe?” Skulker just looked at him, clearly conveying he doesn’t know.

Danny frowned. He wasn’t fragile, he could take care of himself. He had for nearly eleven years.

“I want to go.” The two ghosts looked over at the boy, Sam and Tucker tightened their hold, not wanting to let go, but Danny easily dislodged them before walking up to Skulker. The ghost looked down at the boy before sighing.

“Okay, fine. Lets go.”

Chapter Text

Is it possible to forget how to breathe? Surprisingly, yes.

 

When you choke, or when you have the wind knocked out of you, sometimes even when you're shocked or afraid. Your brain literally can’t make your body breath without conscious effort. You have to consciously focus and think, inhale, pause, exhale, inhale, pause, exhale. And if you don’t….You don’t breathe. And when you don’t breathe, you pass out, your body and mind are forced into an unconscious state so that mechanics and muscle memory take over and your body breathes instinctively. Some would say that the moment you can’t breathe, the moment you are incapable of inhaling the complex chemicals in the atmosphere around you and exhaling carbon dioxide is terrifying. And why wouldn’t it be?

 

When one forgets how to breathe, when your brain fails you and you forget the simple task of breathing to oxygenate your body, fear starts to build up. Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It's what keeps you from doing stupid things and helps with unnecessary risks. But in this circumstance, it doesn’t help. 

 

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing, and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-freeze-or-flight response. Once the fear pathways are ramped up, the brain short-circuits more rational processing paths and reacts immediately to signals from the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the limbic system of your brain. While fear can play tricks with your memory and your perception of reality, it also affects your body. And the amygdala is considered to be the seat of fear in the brain (as well as other emotions). But fear is processed differently than other emotions, bypassing the sensory cortex on its way to the amygdala. A signal sent to the adrenal glands in your torso causes them to send out cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones. The fear response also a releases glucose into the bloodstream -- a power up to get you running for your life--

 

But that’s beside the point. 

 

The next question is a rational response to a major lapse in memory? 

 

Logically, one would calm down and force themselves to inhale, pause, exhale, inhale, pause, exhale. But it's not that simple. Far from simple, actually. 

 

During the fear process, two hormones called cortisol and adrenaline are released into your brain and bloodstream, which severely limits the ability to release any other chemicals. Chemicals such as serotonin, the soothing chemical. So calming down and focusing is incredibly hard to do.

 

Danny, who knew all of this and had perfected the technique of channeling all those chemicals in his body to calm down, was still unable to do so in this situation.

 

Unfortunately, it was not just fear that affected him, but rather glutamate, the excitation chemical, mixed with delirium (confusion and disorientation), and the combination threw him so off balance that he forgot how to breathe.

 

And he can blame no one other than the redhead in front of him.

 

A redhead who should be very much dead .

 

Inhale, pause, exhale, inhale, pause exhale, inhalepauseexhale, inhalepauseexhale, inhaleexhaleinhaleexhaleinha-

 

When simply breathing doesn’t help, the calming reflex can help. Looking at colors and listening to sounds that release serotonin for you, many mothers use this technique to calm down infant children that won’t stop crying and--

 

“Danny? Is that you?” 

 

All thoughts in his brain were bluntly cut off and his body worked in overtime to produce the oxygen his lungs were so desperate for. The redhead had spoken and Danny’s full, undivided attention was drawn to the fifteen-year-old version of his dead sister.

 

And this was his sister. 

 

Danny wasn’t a social butterfly. Far from it. He had little to no human contact for seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours of his life. And he was sort of lucky that at least it had happened earlier in his life because if it had happened later, he would have gone completely insane. 

 

That was the funny thing about humans, they needed interaction. Prolonged isolation of a human would make them more attuned to their surroundings, senses would heighten and soon the complete lack of contact and silence would induce hallucinations and cause them to lose their minds. In fact, he read somewhere that a common interrogation technique for prisons in certain countries, such as Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran (built in 1971), put their political prisoners in a place called Section 204 which is a solitary confinement block with cells that are 1 meter by 2 meters and are 4 meters tall, without windows and they kept them in there for days or weeks on end without any contact other than the interrogation. The prisoners often received threats and didn’t see outside unless going to trial. It made them more prone to confessions, even if they were forced and false.

 

The bottom line, due to Danny’s prolonged stay without any good human interaction left him a little more than unable to properly act in certain social situations. Such as this one.

 

New question (question number four if he’s counting correctly): How does a normal human react to seeing their (should be twenty-one-year-old and dead) sister after going through a situation where they had been impersonated?

 

Speaking of impersonation, what was the creature that had looked like his sister? (Number five) Were they shapeshifters? (Number six) 

 

But couldn’t be shapeshifters ( Number seven--no wait, that wasn’t a question still at six.) Shapeshifters are myths. They were a person or being with the ability to change their physical form at will. Well, supposedly it's possible, because ghosts fell under the category of “beings” and he guessed that if there were ghosts that were stemmed from Gods and other creatures, like yetis, it was entirely possible for shapeshifters to--

 

“Great One? Are you quite alright?”

 

Danny was, again, snapped from his thoughts. He was unable to come up with any response better than, “I want to go home.” 

 

The ghosts looked at each other, and one ghost, one Danny hadn't seen before, stepped forward. He had red eyes and a scar over his left eye, and his skin was blue.

 

Fun fact about colors, much like time, color is only a construct of the human mind. One person’s blue could be different to another person. People come up with the idea of color. Well, that is what some scientists and many philosophers seem to think. But it’s never been--

 

He was getting distracted again.

 

Distraction is really—

 

No. Stop. Listen and pay attention. It could save your life. 

 

“Danny?” He looked to his sister again. A lot more controlled and wary this time. 

 

“Who are you?” He asked, voice as cold as the ice he made. She blinked. Once. Twice. She opened her mouth to answer but wasn’t able to before the blue skinned ghost spoke. 

 

“Hello Daniel. My name is Clockwork, I am the ghost master of time. I had brought your sister here a long while ago. She is from earlier in this timeline, to her, you were three only a few days ago.” The boy processed the new information. 

 

“Where today?” He asked. He cringed at his still bad English but wasn’t able to think clearly, still shocked and confused. Clockwork’s face softened marginally when he heard the words. 

 

“I’m sorry, Daniel.” He didn’t say more. And he didn’t have to. 

 

The boy expected to scream, cry, he thought he’d grieve, or at the very minimum he’d thought that he’d at least want to do those things. 

 

But he’s not. Nor does he want to.

 

It’s not like he was in denial or numb, it was not even shock or realization. 

 

‘You already knew that. Why did you ask?’ 

 

He supposed he wasn’t sure of the point in asking. Closure? Certainty? Regardless he had known. He had known for seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours. He had hoped, hoped it wasn’t true, hoped she’d be ok, but that hope lasted only a year into his….situation. 

 

“Oh.” 

 

“What’s going on? Why is my baby brother, who was only three a week ago, now look to be seven?” 

 

Danny was not amused. 

 

“Daniel is eleven and he was captured at age four. He spent seven years—“

 

seven years, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours.”  The boy interrupted. Clockwork nodded, not affected in the least. 

 

“—with an organization that killed you and your family. He was experimented on. I brought you to this timeline in order to keep time balanced, and allow the sequence of events that will end in the right outcome take place. Unfortunately, I will have to wipe your memory and bring you back. I just thought you would want to see each other.”

 

Jazz immediately ran and hugged her brother tightly. Danny was unable to keep himself from tensing in reaction to the abrupt physical contact. (Can’t blame him, past physical contact never ended well.) After a minute (too long, you know it's too long. You should have reacted faster) he carefully lifted his arms and wrapped them around her taller form. 

 

She smelled like she used to. Under the sweat, dirt, and blood, there was the faint scent of lilies and vanilla. As well as something else. Something darker. He didn’t like it. But he was content, and happy to have his sister back.

 

“Unfortunately, I will have to wipe your memory and bring you back.” Right. She had to go back to before all this happened. And he’d never see her again. Because she was dead. 

 

Heaving a sigh, letting all sadness go (or at least fooling himself into thinking that), he retracted his arms and gently removed her arms before stepping back. He saw Jazz frown in slight confusion and sadness at the action, but he knew that she understood the reason for his distance. 

 

The time ghost, Clockwork (too weird, and way too boring. He’s going to call him stopwatch), saw the action as an “I’m ready” and nodded. He turned to the other ghosts who had been discussing something during the transaction and muttered something, giving a light gesture towards Danny. Then he made a portal and led his adoptive sister through. He gave a small smile and a wave to her when she looked back. He mouthed ‘I’m sorry. ’ 

 

Then….she was gone.

 

He wasted no time.

 

“Want to go home.” Skulker sighed. 

 

“Yes, young one. You are going to go back to the heroes. Dark knows about you and after that attack, we don’t think we are properly prepared to house you here. As long as you are on Earth, he can’t sense you. We will resume the watch. Keep an eye out for the GIW” at the name Danny flinched, “and make sure no other ghosts try anything. If you would like, and if it’s okay with the humans, your friends can visit. Would you like us to discuss that with the humans when we go drop you off? We have to explain the entire situation so that they are prepared.” Danny smiled and nodded. He’d like to reconnect with Sam and Tucker, they had been the first people outside his adoptive family that treated him right, and they were his first friends. Skulker glanced at the rest of the ghosts and nodded. 

 

Walker, he, and Skulker, after saying a temporary goodbye to Sam and Tucker, as well as Frosty, had left to go back to Mount Justice. 

 

Danny missed the Bat-family.

Chapter Text

Losing control wasn’t common for the Bats. Dick, having been taught since he was nine how to master patience and stealth, found losing control easy to avoid. He knew how to keep calm and passive in the face of the worst humanity had to offer, but he wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep a straight face. It’s been nearly a month since Danny, his little brother, had been taken by the GIW. They had searched every potential place for him, but haven’t found anything. His worry only got worse after he had hacked the computers to see the results of the DNA test. Bruce hadn’t been happy, but luckily he had understood Dick’s desire to know. He had just gotten his baby brother back, and now he lost him again? How fucked up is the world where fate decided to give you back one of the most important things in your life only to laugh in your face and take it back?

 

Even Batman was struggling.

 

Dick had noticed the endless all nighters and the world-weary look on his guardian's face. Alfred had attempted several times to get Bruce to rest, only to fail time and time again, and in one memorable occasion, Bruce had lashed out at the butler only to apologize immediately after. Alfred understood, so did Dick. Bruce was taking this just as hard as Dick was. All of the Bats had grown attached to the tiny Halfa, despite the short time of knowing him (it was nearly impossible to not fall in love with the kid immediately after meeting him.) Bruce and Dick wanted to adopt him, but couldn’t while the GIW was still at large. 

 

They didn’t know what to do. 

 

Both of them now sat in the Batcave, seeing as they couldn’t trust themselves to not harm (mentally, emotionally, or physically) the Leaguers and Young Justice Team. They had been hitting dead end after dead end and hadn’t left the computer in days. Dick was hovering over Bruce as he sat in the chair, running possible facility sites. For once they were out of costume, both only in lounge wear, solely focused on the computer screen as it slowly loaded data. Both (uncharacteristically) were oblivious to their surroundings. 

 

It was understandable they didn’t notice the two ghosts and the halfa appear. They were behind them, after all. They waited for the two to notice on their own. Skulker cleared his throat.

 

“Hello?” They didn’t look up.

 

Danny sighed, annoyed. (He’s had a long ass month and had no patience for this.) The boy stepped to the Bats and hovered over Bruce’s other shoulder, peering at the computer. He rested an elbow on his guardian’s shoulder and his chin on his palm (all without recognition.) He sat there for a minute before shattering the silence.

 

“Ce cauti?” ( What are you looking for?) Both Bats jumped, and Dick even let out a (manly, definitely manly) squeak. Danny jumped too, but stayed in the same spot over Bruce’s shoulder. Both of the humans turned to the source of the noise, seeing Danny. They blinked a few times as if clearing their vision before Danny was abruptly pulled from the air over to Bruce and Dick, both gripping him tightly. Danny was in Bruce’s lap and Dick was hanging off to the side. They both hugged him before looking over him frantically.

 

He had a few bruises and scratches, he had a practically healed burn on his face and was slightly pale, but overall was fine. The two didn’t seem to be letting go anytime soon and Danny didn’t bother trying to get away. Instead he readjusted so he was actually sitting rather than just collapsed awkwardly. He shifted until his back was against the Dark Knight’s chest and he was facing the computer, Bruce allowed the readjustment, moving his arm across Danny’s abdomen to secure him. The boy tilted his head at the screen, still curious as to what they were looking for. 

 

“GIW facilities. We were looking for GIW facilities.” Danny nodded, understanding their intentions, but the repeated name was making him uncomfortable. He shifted his gaze, eyes skimming over the other monitors before his eyes caught his name and he focused on that. It wasn’t searching for anything, but rather looked like it was the result of something. After a second he realized it was a DNA test. He was about to ask but a cough drew their attention back to the ghosts. Danny had forgotten about them. 

 

Bruce swivelled his chair around quickly, Danny yelped, unprepared for the rapid movement. Bruce’s grip on him tightened as he tensed, ready to defend. Dick, who was running a hand through the boy’s hair trying to pick out leaves and dirt, had stilled and tensed like Bruce. 

 

“Hello. I am Walker and this is Skulker” The warden gestured to Skulker. “We are ghosts. We have been watching the Halfa for a while now because he is the key to our freedom in the ghost zone.”

 

Danny could feel Bruce relax slightly and his near-bruising grip slackened marginally. Dick’s hand, still buried in his black hair, had also gone lax, however both Bats were still on edge. Danny wondered why they let down their guard, even if it was only a little. 

 

He had a feeling that they were sleep deprived. Danny felt amused but also exasperated. (For being highly trained individuals, they could be human disasters.)

 

Skulker and Walker had gone on to explain the political crisis that was going on in the Ghost Zone and how Danny was involved. They also explained what they knew about the GIW. (Bruce had covered his ears. He could still hear with his enhanced senses, but it was a nice sentiment, nonetheless.) They talked about the plan and who was involved. They answered questions patiently about the revolution or ghosts in general. They explained what was being done and had informed the two about the human children with them, reassuring the Bats that neither were permitted anywhere near battles. Sam and Tucker could come over to the mansion every once and awhile, as long as it was arranged. The three adults and one teen had proceeded.

 

“We don’t plan on taking the boy from you, since you are capable of caring for him and training him, but we will keep watch over him and only get involved if necessary. However, he needs to be informed and we will be more active in his life when he gets older, so he can choose whether or not to help us. We are still unsure about how Pariah will proceed, but we will keep you updated, and unfortunately, we can’t help with the GIW. Now if you do not have any further questions, we need to go back to the base. If you need us, use this. Please only if it's an emergency or if something has happened or changed.” Walker handed Bruce a small communication device. The Batman nodded and the two ghosts disappeared. 

 

Bruce had contacted the team, telling them that they needed to meet tomorrow. He then turned his attention back to the kid in his lap, who was looking at one of the many supercomputers in front of them. He glanced over to Dick, who was looking at the same monitor. Following their gazes, his eyes landed on the DNA results. He hadn’t gotten the chance to talk to Dick and Danny about them and was planning on it when they had found Danny. Unfortunately, that plan had been ruined when Dick hacked his system and found out, but regardless it still warranted a sit down and a proper conversation.

 

“They were positive.” Dick nodded absently, his eyes now trained on the boy who was still staring at the screen with wide, curious eyes.

 

“Positive?” The young boy asked, moving his focus to Bruce, struggling to look at the man without turning his whole body.

 

“Danny, do you know that you were adopted?”

 

Bones broken and twisted in inhuman ways…screaming and rushing...“MOMMY! DADDY!”

 

Danny nodded, shaking his thoughts away from the eery images and voices echoing through his head.

 

“Do you remember your birth parents?”

 

A small trail of blood dripped down his mother’s pale face and the salt and pepper hair of his father greased with the crimson liquid.

 

“Îmi amintesc cum au murit.” (I remember how they died.) Danny deadpanned, obviously trying to detach himself from the memory of his parents. Dick flinched and Bruce nodded sympathetically. 

 

“Do you remember your brother?”

 

Brother? What brother? A sharp panic flashed through his system, like it always does when he doesn’t remember something.

 

Danny has an eidetic memory. To have an eidetic memory is to have the ability to vividly recall images from memory after only a few instances of exposure, with high precision for a brief time after exposure, without using a mnemonic device. 

 

Although the terms eidetic memory and photographic memory are popularly used interchangeably, they are also distinguished, with eidetic memory referring to the ability to view memories like photographs for a few minutes, and photographic memory referring to the ability to recall pages of text or numbers, or similar, in great detail. 

 

The word eidetic comes from the Greek word εἶδος (pronounced êːdos, eidos, meaning the distinctive expression of the cognitive or intellectual character of a culture or social group).

 

Most commonly, children--

 

‘You’re doing the thing again.’

 

Ah, right. Point is, Danny became dependent on his memory, using it as a weird source of comfort. Whenever he couldn’t remember something, it scared him.

 

So finding out about a gap in his memory large enough to forget having a brother terrified Danny.

 

He didn’t answer, instead staring blankly at Bruce searching his expansive memory for a hint of a biological sibling.

 

A pair of hands were holding him from running to the corpses of his family...the hands restricting him from rushing forward in hysterics were gone leaving his skin cold at the absence of external heat. 

 

But that could have been anyone. He shook his head, eyes still distant.

 

“You had an older brother. He was seven when your parents died in Haly’s circus. They were sabotaged and had fallen in one of their acts, dying on impact. They had been killed by a man named Zucco, who was apprehended by Batman after I adopted Dick. You and your brother had been too young to participate in the circus, so you watched from the sides as your parents did their acts. You both had been front and center when they had fallen, and your brother held you back from running to your parents. But he had been torn away by the panicked crowd and you two were separated. He was found by CPS a day before you, and had been adopted quickly. He had been in and out of the system in the same day because I had pulled some strings and called in several favors.” Danny stayed silent and let the man finish his story, “we had searched for you, and it turned out you had been found sitting beside your family the next morning when the police had arrived at the scene and you were taken to the station, then transferred to an orphanage.”

 

“Am ținut mâna mamei mele toată noaptea. Mirosea ca sângele și mâna ei se înghesuise în timp ce timpul trecea. Nici măcar nu m-am uitat la chipurile lor. Doar stătea acolo.” (I had been holding my mother’s hand all through the night. It smelled like blood and her hand grew icy cold as time went on. I never even looked at their faces. Just sat there.) He recalled it like it was a fact to be shared, not like it was a sad memory. He stared straight ahead, not looking at anything. Bruce glanced at Dick who was tense. He gave the teen an apprehensive, but a sympathetic look. 

 

“When you had first turned human, Dick and I had noticed the obvious similarities and decided to run a DNA test to see if it was a match. It was.” 

 

Did you know that children are pretty much always 50% related to the mother and 50% to the father. But this is where the exact percentages end. Other kinds of relatives share on average around the same amount of DNA. So siblings share around 50%, closer to 25% of their DNA, half-siblings less 25% and so on. Which means for Danny, since half of his DNA is replaced with ectoplasm, he shared 25% of DNA from his father and 25% from his mother, which means any siblings only share approximately 12.5%--

 

“Danny?” His attention snapped to Dick, his brother, with wide eyes. Dick looked almost nervous, and Danny couldn’t comprehend a logical reason as to why. Danny phased out from Bruce’s hold and, quite literally, jumped at Dick. Out of instinct, the older boy caught the Halfa and Danny held onto him. Dick was holding him gently, carefully as if he were fragile. Danny buried his head in Dink’s chest, using his powers slightly to hover above the ground so his head is tucked under the older’s chin. After a few more moments of holding him like glass, Dick tightened his grip and rested his chin on top of Danny’s head. Neither said anything, But Dick looked over to Bruce, seeing his soft smile, he smiled back.

 

Danny was still unsettled. As happy as he was about finding his brother, not being able to recall this fact left him uneasy. He’d get over it eventually, this isn't the first time he discovered a gap in his memory due to a trauma, but he still was shaken. He vainly tried to clear his mind, only managing to slow down his thoughts slightly, and focused on his brother.

 

He smelled like mountains and snow. It was a sharp contrast to lilies and vanilla. But that’s okay. 

 

He’s not picky.

Chapter Text

Batman and Robin had organized a joint meeting with both the Young Justice Team and the Justice League. They had explained the situation and how they were to proceed as normal, while still looking for the GIW. Also with Danny, there must be a senior hero with him at all times. After it had been settled, the heroes parted ways, returning to their normal lives and cities. 

 

Bruce carried Danny into the Batcave, using one arm to take off his cowl and the other held  a sleeping Danny on his hip. Dick was took off his mask and looked over to Bruce. 

 

“They know where he is now you know.” The teen stated, seemingly casually but Bruce could detect the worry and stress in his voice. Bruce sighed, still holding the small boy up with one arm. 

 

“I know.”

 

“What are we going to do?” 

 

“We will be more careful. We will protect him. And we’ll let him stay at the mansion more often, seeing as they don’t know he’s there.” Dick nodded. He raised his arms and Bruce smoothly transferred the sleeping Halfa to the teen, who easily held the boy (he is far too light.) The two heroes changed into normal clothes, then took the Halfa to bed.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

He should have known that his “adventure” wouldn’t change his feelings about the large space he had been given. Almost five weeks later, he was still having a hard time sleeping through the flashbacks and the large, open area where he was vulnerable to attack didn’t help. 

 

He was by no means not grateful, he appreciated the thought Bruce had given into his living area. It was beautiful and expensive looking, but it was just too big. He remembered when Dick had found him sleeping underneath the bed. He liked underneath the bed, it was small and dark. But he wasn’t able to get a great vantage point and it was hard to see all the possible exits. He had tried to go under the bed the first few nights, but it never worked. He was even more paranoid because it would have been hard to escape if the need had arrived. So by the second week, he did what he did best.

 

He looked for a logical solution.

 

As he had noted previously, the room was very large and very open. It only had three pieces of furniture, all of which didn’t provide any type of isolation or shelter. That only left the bathroom and the closet. He didn’t like the bathroom because it was too bright, too sterile, it reminded him uncomfortably of a lab, and if he were to wake up, or god forbid suffer through a flashback in there, he wasn’t sure how it would affect him. He certainly didn’t want to find out any time soon.

 

The closet it was.

 

Danny hadn’t even opened the closet in the duration of his stay. He hadn’t found any reason to, he didn’t have any clothes of his own after all. He had been only staying there for a month before he was taken then only a few weeks after and even if it were longer, it wasn’t like he had any personal items. So he hesitantly opened the door to the closet.

 

It was large, more like a room than a closet really. Danny sighed, slightly irritated and glanced around the area. It was a walk-in closet, about ten feet long, five feet wide and eight feet tall. It was fairly empty, a few clothes that looked to be around his size hung up towards the back. He smiled as he looked at the shelves. They weren’t connected at the corners, creating a snug opening where he could get to the corner, practically completely isolated besides the initial small opening. 

 

Padding back over to the bed, he grabbed a blanket and a pillow and stuffed them in the farthest corner directly across from the door. He climbed in and wrapped the blanket around him. 

 

‘That’s better.’

 

However, it never occurred to him what would happen when the Bats didn't find him in bed.

 

Whoops.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

“Not again.” Dick muttered before running from the room that was supposed to house his little brother.

 

“BRUCE” 

 

The man in question nearly ran into the teen in the hall. “Dick? What’s wrong?” The teen simply grabbed his mentor’s arm and started dragging him towards Danny’s bedroom. Making it to the doorway, he started to explain.

 

“He wasn’t here when I came to get him.”

 

Both Bats rushed to the bed, looking underneath and in any place that could hide an eleven-year old. When they finally got to the closet, the elder saw the edge of a blanket peeking out of the corner. He let out a relieved breath and walked toward the corner. Carefully, Bruce pulled the thin blanket to the side, revealing a small, curled up form staring widely at the man with glowing green eyes. He held his hand out, feeling the cool small limb grab on and pull. Danny climbed out of the small crevice and looked between the two. After a moment, Dick smiled, letting the relief show through, and pulled the boy to him and wrapped his arms around the small form. Stiffening then relaxing, the halfa wrapped his own arms around his older brother, hands fisting in the fabric of Dick’s shirt. 

 

Turning his face into the shirt, he mumbled, “sorry.”

 

“It’s fine Danny. Just next time, come to one of us if you have a nightmare or a flashback. Okay?” The boy gave no verbal response, instead only nodded. Bruce scooped the boy from Dick, eliciting a small giggle from the half ghost. Bruce smoothly placed the boy on his hip and looked at him.

 

“Do you want breakfast? Alfred made chocolate chip waffles.” Receiving a nod, Batman and Robin carried the eleven-year-old down into the kitchen.

Chapter Text

“What the hell do you mean he’s coming on patrol?” The younger Bat yelled, turning fully towards the man, a glare firmly on his face, anger and disbelief hiding the surprise at the near casual comment.

 

“I mean I am going to take him with us tonight to see how he does. I had planned this a long time ago and was going to do it but then everything came up, so we’re doing it now.” Bruce said calmly. He, too, turned towards the other. They were both sitting at the kitchen table, Danny still sleeping (hopefully), Dick had been bent over a bowl of cereal and Bruce reading a book, however both activities were abandoned in favor of the conversation.

 

“You can’t possibly think that’s a good idea. Bruce, he’s already been through a lot, you want to add fighting crime to that extensive list of things that give him nightmares? Because, if you haven’t noticed, Gotham’s crime isn’t very pretty.” Bruce sighed, finally placing down the book he was reading and leaning forward, folding his hands on the table and leaning his weight on his elbows.

 

“We have to go back. With everything that has happened recently, we haven’t been on patrol in weeks, and we have to go back at some point. And Danny has to come because there is nowhere else he can go, he’s safer with us than alone here. Besides, based on what he’s seen, do you really think seeing a mutilated corpse or someone trying to kill him is really going to affect him? Dick, he’s too far gone to be scared of that type of stuff.” Dick glared for a moment longer before sagging in defeat.

 

“Yeah, I guess, but-”

 

“But you don’t want to risk his life now that you just got him back. I get it. I don't want him to be at risk either, but this is the best option. It could teach him how to fight back better, could protect him in the future.” If possible, Dick deflated even further.

 

“Fine. But he stays with us. No testing him by having go ahead of us, no letting him scope something. He is with us.” Bruce chuckled. 

 

“Understood. But when he’s trained a bit better, we will have to split up. But for now, he stays with us.”

 

“What are you talking about?” a small, hesitant voice spoke up from behind Bruce. The man didn’t falter when he turned around in his chair and picked the boy up and placed him into the seat next to Dick. The teen in question had spilled milk from his cereal all over his lap when he jumped at the abrupt appearance. Danny, seeing the mess, looked dryly at his brother.

 

“I thought you were ‘fearless’.” Dick looked up and sent a light glare over to the boy as he mopped up the liquid off his pants.

 

“I’m not afraid, you startled me. Who wouldn’t be startled when a small child appears out of nowhere?” Without a beat, Danny glared back at the ‘small child’ part before pointing over to Bruce, who was clearly amused, at the two.

 

“He doesn’t count. He’s unshakable.” Before Danny could respond, Bruce cut in.

 

“Not ‘unshakable’ just observant.” Turning to Danny, he stated, “have you been working on your English? You sound a lot better.” While he still had a thick accent and some words were mispronounced, he was talking in complete thoughts and sentences. Danny shifted and avoided his gaze before he nodded. Bruce and Dick narrowed their eyes in suspicion.

 

“What did you do?” Dick asked.

 

“I didn’t know how else to learn.” Danny mumbled, looking at his lap.

 

“What did you do?” 

 

“I snuck into Bruce’s office to look at his books.” Both exhaled a sigh of relief, relaxing after the confirmation he hadn’t done anything bad or stupid.

 

“The business books? I thought we got you some books to learn from.” Danny looked up and pouted.

 

“Those were for kids.” Bruce cracked a smile and Dick laughed at the boy’s words.

 

“Danny, you are a kid.” The boy glared at the amused Bats.

 

“Am not.” Dick just rolled his eyes while Bruce just huffed a small laugh. Danny went to retort but suddenly remembered his initial curiosity that had prompted him to interrupt in the first place.

 

“What were you talking about?” 

 

He watched the nonverbal cues on each of their faces carefully. He watched them flick their eyes to each other without moving from their positions and observed as they continued their activities with only a miniscule hesitation on Dick’s part. The boy narrowed his eyes as he carefully honed all his enhanced senses on the two humans and waited to see if anything was out of the ordinary. 

 

After his...adventure…he decided he shouldn’t be more relaxed, he should continue to live as he always had. 

 

Carefully. 

 

It wasn’t as if he didn’t trust these people, because he did. He trusted them, and that fact, if he didn’t dwell too much on the potential consequences, warmed him and made him happy. 

 

It’s just...with trust comes overestimation, a lesson he learned the hard way. 

 

They couldn’t protect him from the GIW. (They failed once, who says they won’t again.)

 

They couldn’t protect him from nightmares or flashbacks. (How can they protect him from the haunting memories, lingering scars, and dark voices that echoes in his head?)

 

They couldn’t protect him from the powers that sometimes make him curl up in the middle of the night in agony as he slowly released small amounts of energy at a time so his core doesn’t overheat, freeze, or overcharge and kill his human half. (What can they do? They don’t know anything about ghosts, let alone Halfas.)

 

They certainly couldn’t protect him from the virtually unknown threat of Pariah Dark and his army. (He isn’t even sure he could survive that, whatever it is.)

 

They were only human. Trained or not, this was just outside their capabilities.

 

It was outside his too.

 

Danny trusted them to take care of him, to not hurt him intentionally, to not betray him, to try and help him. He did.

 

He just couldn’t rely on them to be able to protect him from the demons shadowing him. Because he was the only one, on this blue earth and beyond, that completely understood. It was not their fault. It was not anyone’s. 

 

It was just a cold, hard fact. The harsh reality of this-of his life. 

 

Oh well.

 

‘You are one messed up kid.’

 

“Danny, we want to talk to you.” His eyes temporarily flashed their vivid green color in shock. 

 

God dammit. He needed to stop that.

 

He tilted his head in confusion at Bruce as he turned in his chair and folded his hands over the now-closed book. Sparing a quick glance, Dick had also cleaned up his breakfast and mirrored the other’s position. The boy used a considerable amount of willpower to keep himself from narrowing his eyes and tensing.

 

‘Think they’re going to kick you out? Tell you they think you were more than they bargained for? Ooh, what about give you back to the GI-’

 

He shifted his gaze back to Bruce, careful to keep the unguarded, not suspicious look on his face.

 

“You remember when we explained what we do? The vigilante thing?” Danny nodded, fighting the automatic irritation at the tone. He hated that tone. 

 

“Well, we normally do that every night, go on patrol that is, however with everything that has happened, we haven’t gone out in a long time. We need to go out tonight, and start getting back on schedule when it comes to patrolling.”

 

‘They are going to ship you off somewhere. God just get to the point will you?’

 

Danny wondered why he felt so irritable today, maybe the annoyance and feeling as if they are hiding something from him? Mentally shrugging it off he waited semi-patiently for the two to spit it out.

 

“Well, the problem is we can’t leave you alone. We don’t want to risk another abduction.” Bruce trailed off again and Danny sat, waiting for the point of the conversation. His mind worked a mile a minute trying to connect the dots so that he could understand the conversation. 

 

“We want you to come with us on patrol tonight to see if you can start coming with us permanently. If you want to, of course. If you don’t we can come up with an alternative.” Danny knew there was no alternative. The boy was curious what it would be like, a more childish part of him was excited at the prospect, but overall he didn’t want to jump into it unprepared, no matter how much he may want to. 

 

He was not the type to let his emotions make his decisions, it never worked out.

 

“What do you do on parole?” 

 

“Patrol, not parole. Usually we stay on the rooftops of buildings and look for people to help. Every once and awhile, when a bigger threat than street criminals come, we are signaled by a good friend of mine.”

 

“What would I do?”

 

“You’d stay with us and we’d fight the criminals, however if there is something bigger, you won’t fight. You would have to remain in your ghost half to disguise yourself from the bad guys.” Dick answered that time. 

 

“You would have to remain in your ghost half” He couldn't do that. Not that he didn’t want to (he didn't particularly like the idea, but he could handle it) but he couldn’t.

 

That was how they found him last time. 

 

He said as much. “That’s how they found me last time.” Dick turned to his guardian, clearly unaware of that fact. Bruce however, didn’t seem concerned.

 

“Yes, but when we infiltrated the facility you had been kept at, we found and took their tracking technology. We reverse engineered it and found a way to hide your signature from all of their technology.”

 

“When the hell did you do that? Why didn’t I know about this? Who did you go with? I didn’t even know you had found the facility!” Dick stood up leaning over the table and towards Bruce, speaking in rapid fire. Danny was processing the information and considered the risks of going out. He stayed silent and observed the other two before giving his answer.

 

“A few days ago. None of the Young Justice team was informed and only a few of the Justice League had gone. We didn’t want to draw attention, or get your hopes up. It was classified.” Dick huffed, clearly upset, but not having a good retort. He collapsed back into his chair and crossed his arms, pouting slightly. 

 

“So, Danny, what do you think?”

 

Danny nodded, giving a small smile.

 

After all, ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ they say.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

Danny giggled, sitting cross-legged on the cold floor of the Batcave. Ace was sitting behind him and the large dog had his head resting on top of the boy’s spiky white hair, leaning all his weight on the eleven-year-old, who didn’t seem to mind due to his powers. The boy was playing with one of the dog’s large paws. He was dressed in a long sleeved black shirt and black sweatpants, and no shoes (not that the Bats knew that, he ditched the shoes as soon as they went to suit up.) The clothes were slightly smaller than the clothes he normally wore,not nearly as baggy. They fit him well, still large, but less like he was swimming in the clothes. He had two wristbands on each arm. They were tight enough that they couldn’t move up and down on his arms, but they weren't too tight, they supposedly hid his ecto-signature. 

 

The dog pulled his paw from the boy’s hand and it landed on his knee. Lifting his head, the Great Dane sniffed the Halfa’s pure, white hair, eliciting another giggle from the half ghost as he went cross eyed in an attempt to look at the dog. 

 

Danny wasn’t really sure why, but the creature seemed to take a liking to him. Danny had been hesitant at first, sure about his belief that dogs hated him, but he was wrong. 

 

It wasn’t just the dog, but the bats that usually stay dormant on the ceiling of the cave tend to come down and land in his hair or on his shoulder. Like two are doing now that the dog had moved to place his large head in his lap. Danny glanced to his left shoulder to see a small, black bat perched there. He could also feel the prick of another bat on the top of his head. 

 

He didn’t really understand why the animals liked him. But he liked them too so it was okay.

 

A minute or two later, another two bats flew down and landed on his other shoulder and his hand that rested on the Great Dane’s head. Danny slowly lifted the bat to not startle it. It was young, and small. Danny smiled at it and lifted his other hand, palm facing up, and prompted the bat to his other hand. The bat moved, and Danny gently cupped his hand to keep the creature from falling.

 

Danny was whispering in Romanian to the bat, and even though he knew the creature didn’t understand, it somehow looked intrigued at his words. 

 

“Odată ajunsese un miller care era sărac, dar care avea o fiică frumoasă.Și sa întâmplat că a trebuit să meargă și să vorbească împăratului și, pentru a se face el însuși, el ia spus el, ‘Am o fiica care poate sa faca paie in aur.’"

(Once there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he had to go and speak to the king, and in order to make himself appear important he said to him, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold.")

“Împăratul ia spus mițelului: ‘Aceasta este o artă care mă iubește bine, dacă fiica ta este la fel de inteligentă cum spui, adu-o mâine în palatul meu și o voi pune la încercare’”

  (The king said to the miller, "That is an art which pleases me well, if your daughter is as clever as you say, bring her to-morrow to my palace, and I will put her to the test.")

“Și când ia fost adusă fată, a dus-o într-o încăpere plină de paie, ia dat o roată rotitoare și o tambur și a spus: ‘Încetați să lucrați, și dacă mîine dimineața devreme nu ați făcut această paie în aur în timpul nopții, trebuie să muriți.’”

(And when the girl was brought to him he took her into a room which was quite full of straw, gave her a spinning-wheel and a reel, and said, "Now set to work, and if by to-morrow morning early you have not spun this straw into gold during the night, you must die.")

  “Apoi el însuși a închis camera și a lăsat-o în ea singur. Așa că a stat fetița săracului miller, și pentru că viața ei nu putea să-și dea seama ce să facă, nu avea nici o idee despre cum paiul putea fi rotit în aur și ea a crescut din ce în ce mai înspăimântată, până când în cele din urmă a început să plângă”

(Thereupon he himself locked up the room, and left her in it alone. So there sat the poor miller's daughter, and for the life of her could not tell what to do, she had no idea how straw could be spun into gold, and she grew more and more frightened, until at last she began to weep.)

“Dar, odată, ușa se deschise și, din când în când, a venit un bărbat și a spus: ‘Bună seara, miller de stăpână, de ce plângi așa?’”

  (But all at once the door opened, and in came a little man, and said, "Good evening, mistress miller, why are you crying so?")

“‘Vai’, răspunse fetița, ‘trebuie să mănânc paie în aur și nu știu cum să o fac.’”

  ("Alas," answered the girl, "I have to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it.")

“‘Ce vrei să-mi dai,’ spuse manechinul, ‘dacă o fac eu pentru tine?’”

  ("What will you give me," said the manikin, "if I do it for you?")

“‘Colierul meu,’ spuse fata.”

 ("My necklace," said the girl.)

“Micul bărbat își luă colierul, se așeză în fața roții și se repeziră, se rotește, se rotește, trei rotații, iar bobina se umplea, apoi se așeza pe alta și se rotește, de trei ori, și al doilea era prea plin. Și așa a continuat până dimineața, când toate paiele s-au rotit și toate rolele erau pline de aur”

  (The little man took the necklace, seated himself in front of the wheel, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three turns, and the reel was full, then he put another on, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times round, and the second was full too. And so it went on until the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reels were full of gold.)

“Împăratul a fost deja acolo, iar când a văzut aurul, a fost uimit și încântat, dar inima lui a devenit mai lacomă. Avea fiica militarului luată într-o altă cameră plină de paie, care era mult mai mare, și îi poruncise să se rotească într-o singură noapte, dacă își aprecia viața. Fata nu știa cum să se ajute singură și plângea, când ușa se deschise din nou, iar micul bărbat apărură și spuse: ‘Ce-mi vei da dacă aș desface acel paie în aur pentru tine?’”

(By daybreak the king was already there, and when he saw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became only more greedy. He had the miller's daughter taken into another room full of straw, which was much larger, and commanded her to spin that also in one night if she valued her life. The girl knew not how to help herself, and was crying, when the door opened again, and the little man appeared, and said, "What will you give me if I spin that straw into gold for you?")

“‘Inelul de pe degetul meu,’ răspunse fata.”

 ("The ring on my finger," answered the girl.)

“Micuțul a luat inelul, a început din nou să rotească roata și până dimineața a strâns toate paiele în aur strălucitor.”

  (The little man took the ring, again began to turn the wheel, and by morning had spun all the straw into glittering gold.)

“Împăratul se bucura dincolo de măsură la vedere, dar totuși nu avea suficient de mult aur și a pus fiica militarului într-o încă mai mare cameră plină de paie și spuse: ‘Trebuie să te întorci și în cursul acestei nopți , dar dacă reușiți, veți fi soția mea ‘”

  (The king rejoiced beyond measure at the sight, but still he had not enough gold, and he had the miller's daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said, "You must spin this too, in the course of this night, but if you succeed, you shall be my wife.")

“Chiar dacă ar fi fiica unui miller, credea el, nu am putut găsi o soție mai bogată în întreaga lume.”

  (Even if she be a miller's daughter, thought he, I could not find a richer wife in the whole world.)

“Când fetița era singură, manechinul se întoarse pentru a treia oară și spuse: ‘Ce-mi vei da dacă îți voi roti și pațul de data asta?’”

  (When the girl was alone the manikin came again for the third time, and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time also?")

“‘N-am mai rămas nimic pe care să-i dau,’ răspunse fata.”

 ("I have nothing left that I could give," answered the girl.)

“‘Atunci promite-mi, dacă ar trebui să deveniți regină, să-mi dați primul copil.’”

  ("Then promise me, if you should become queen, to give me your first child.")

“Cine știe dacă se va întâmpla asta vreodată, se gândea fiica millerului și, neștiind cum să se ajute singură în această strâmtoare, îi făgăduise manechinului ceea ce voia și, pentru că a făcut din nou paiul în aur.”

  (Who knows whether that will ever happen, thought the miller's daughter, and, not knowing how else to help herself in this strait, she promised the manikin what he wanted, and for that he once more spun the straw into gold.)

“Și când împăratul a venit dimineața și a găsit tot ce dorea, a luat-o în căsătorie și fiica măcelarului a devenit regină.”

  (And when the king came in the morning, and found all as he had wished, he took her in marriage, and the pretty miller's daughter became a queen.)

“Un an după aceea, a adus un copil frumos în lume și nu a dat niciodată gânduri manechinului. Dar, dintr-o dată, a intrat în camera ei și a spus: ‘Acum, dă-mi ce ai promis.’”

(A year after, she brought a beautiful child into the world, and she never gave a thought to the manikin. But suddenly he came into her room, and said, "Now give me what you promised.")

“Regina a fost lovită de groază și ia oferit manechinului toate bogățiile regatului dacă i-ar părăsi copilul. Dar manechinul a spus: ‘Nu, ceva viu este mai scump pentru mine decât pentru toate comorile din lume’”

  (The queen was horror-struck, and offered the manikin all the riches of the kingdom if he would leave her the child. But the manikin said, "No, something alive is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world.")

“Apoi regina a inceput sa planga si sa planga, astfel incat manechinul o pasa.”

  (Then the queen began to lament and cry, so that the manikin pitied her.)

“‘Îți voi da trei zile, timp", a spus el, ‘dacă în acel moment veți afla numele meu, atunci vă veți ține copilul’”

  ("I will give you three days, time," said he, "if by that time you find out my name, then shall you keep your child.")

“Prin urmare, regina se gândea toată noaptea la toate numele pe care le auzise vreodată, iar ea a trimis un mesager peste țară pentru a întreba, pe larg și pe larg, despre orice nume care ar putea fi. Când manechinul a venit a doua zi, a început cu Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar și a spus toate numele pe care le știa, unul după altul, dar la fiecare om micul a spus: ‘Nu este numele meu.’”

  (So the queen thought the whole night of all the names that she had ever heard, and she sent a messenger over the country to inquire, far and wide, for any other names that there might be. When the manikin came the next day, she began with Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, and said all the names she knew, one after another, but to everyone the little man said, "That is not my name.")

“În cea de-a doua zi, a făcut întrebări în vecinătate cu privire la numele poporului de acolo și a repetat manechinului cel mai puțin ciudat și curios. Poate că numele tău este Shortribs, Sheepshanks sau Laceleg, dar el a răspuns întotdeauna: ‘Nu este numele meu.’”

  (On the second day she had inquiries made in the neighborhood as to the names of the people there, and she repeated to the manikin the most uncommon and curious. Perhaps your name is Shortribs, or Sheepshanks, or Laceleg, but he always answered, "That is not my name.")

“În cea de-a treia zi, mesagerul sa întors din nou și a spus: ‘Nu am reușit să găsesc un singur nume nou, ci când am ajuns la un munte înalt la capătul pădurii, unde vulpea și iepure s-au împrăștiat noapte bună acolo, am văzut o casă mică și, în fața casei, un incendiu ardea și, în jurul focului, un om destul de ridicol se sărind, a sărit pe un picior și a strigat:”

  (On the third day the messenger came back again, and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but as I came to a high mountain at the end of the forest, where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, there I saw a little house, and before the house a fire was burning, and round about the fire quite a ridiculous little man was jumping, he hopped upon one leg, and shouted,)

“‘Astăzi mă coacem, mănâncă mâine,
în următorul timp voi avea copilul tinerei regine.
Ha, mă bucur că nu știam nimeni
că Rumpelstiltskin sunt stil!’”

 (“Today I’ll brew, tomorrow I’ll bake,

Soon I’ll have the queen’s namesake,

Oh, and how hard it is to play my game,

For Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”)

“Vă puteți imagina cât de bucuroasă a fost regina când a auzit numele. Și, după aceea, micul bărbat a intrat și a întrebat: ‘Acum, doamnă regină, care este numele meu?’”

  (You may imagine how glad the queen was when she heard the name. And when soon afterwards the little man came in, and asked, "Now, mistress queen, what is my name?")

“La început ea a spus: ’Numele tău este Conrad?’”

 (At first she said, "Is your name Conrad?")

“‘Nu.’”

 ("No.")

"’Numele tău este Harry?’”

 ("Is your name Harry?")

‘Nu.’”

("No.")

“‘Poate numele tău este Rumpelstiltskin?’”

("Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?")

“‘Diavolul ți-a spus asta! Diavolul ți-a spus asta’, a strigat micul om și, în mânia lui, și-a aruncat piciorul drept atât de adânc în pământ încât pătrunde întregul său picior și apoi în furie a tras la el piciorul stâng atât de tare, cu ambele mâini, încât sa rupt în două”

  ("The devil has told you that! The devil has told you that," cried the little man, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in, and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.)

Eventually, Ace was looking at him and the other animals were staring at him as he told the folktale. He remembered that his foster parents used to tell him all kinds of stories, however more kid-friendly ones. Eventually he found a book in his adoptive sister’s room. He had read many of the short stories in there and it was more interesting to him than the others. Every once and awhile, he recited one to himself. This one was strangely his favorite.

 

After his story, the bats started chirping at him softly and Ace’s head rested back on his lap, his cold, wet nose nuzzling his palm on his free hand. He watched the bats as they spoke to him, and smiled.

 

A minute or so later, Dick and Bruce reentered dressed as Robin and Batman. They stopped in their tracks to look at the peculiar scene in front of them. Danny had noticed they were back, and so had the animals that were perched on him. The boy looked at the bats, confused. Usually the nocturnal creatures would fly away when more people had entered, this was the first time they stayed. Perhaps it was the story? That was a first too.

 

Shrugging it off, metaphorically speaking seeing as he didn’t want the animals to startle, he smiled up at the two. 

 

“Bats, have you ever actually seen the bats that live in here?” Robin asked, still looking at the boy.

 

“No.”

 

“Huh.” Batman seemed to recover from his shock and smiled back at the child on the floor.

 

“Danny, we have to get going.” Danny nodded and Ace lifted his head off of the Halfa’s lap. He lifted in the air, landing softly on his feet. The bats seemed to have gotten the message and chirped one more time before flying back up to the ceiling. The one on his hand, however, didn’t move. Danny lifted his hand and smiled at it, gently nudging it to the edge of his hand and lifted his hand closer to the top of the cave. After a little more gentle coaxing, the small creature took off.

 

“Okay then. Let’s just go.” Robin mumbled. Batman rolled his eyes.

 

“You’ve seen weirder things. Stop being dramatic.”

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

The three sat on the edge of a tall building. Batman and Robin were crouched on the ledge and Danny was laying on his back, with one swinging leg dangling off the building. Both Bats were watching the streets below carefully while the Halfa watched the stars. Danny had thought it was going to be more exciting. 

 

He was so bored. 

 

What happened to Gotham’s streets being one of the most dangerous places at night?

 

They had been out here for over a half an hour and so far nothing had happened and Danny was about ready to sneak away and wander around. He had always been an adrenaline junky. At least he thought so, never really had the opportunity to test that hypothesis. 

 

Robin glanced over to the Halfa, sensing the boredom. A pang of amusement and sympathy ran through him. He remembered the slow nights when he was first learning. Standing from his position, he walked along the ledge with impeccable balance towards his little brother. Sitting down with both his legs over the edge he looked over at the half ghost, who was now sitting up looking at the teenager.

 

“Sorry, bud. It’s a slow night. Sure something will happen soon enough,” Noticing the look from the elder bat, he quickly amended, “not that we want crime to happen. Slow nights are good because they mean that no one is committing crime, which is good,” he trailed from his babble with a nervous chuckle. 

 

Batman looked over to his two wards before noticing something. “Danny, what happened to your shoes?”

 

The boy turned to Batman sporting a too-innocent look on his face. “I don’t like shoes.” Batman simply sighed and went back to watching the streets below. The three lapsed into silence again. 

 

After a few more minutes, Danny spoke up abruptly. “Is that the signal you talked about?” He pointed to a bright white light in the shape of a bat that shone clearly in the cloudy night sky. The other two immediately stood, Robin pulling the child up with him. They made their way to a building that had the source of the light.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

There was a man standing next to an elaborate looking light when they arrived. Danny didn’t really like meeting new people. The boy in question turned invisible as soon as his brother let him go and stepped up next to Batman. 

 

Invisible to the human eye, the boy silently walked with bare feet, conjuring a sharp icicle in his right hand. He circled the man, observing him carefully.

 

The man was tall with a broad frame. He had glasses perched on his nose and reddish, short-cropped hair with a matching mustache on his upper lip. He wore a trench coat and his posture - folded arms, standing tall - radiated authority. Danny could detect no obvious malicious intent, but then again, the strange man hadn’t seen the Halfa yet.

 

He spoke with a deep voice, tone as serious as Batman. The boy watched the three interact. All three were serious and had blank looks on their faces as they discussed something Danny didn’t care enough to listen to. The boy continued to circle the man before stopping, still invisible, directly in front of him. The sharp, makeshift weapon was clenched tightly in his hand.

 

After a considerable amount of time, Danny snapped to attention when he heard his name mentioned by Batman. 

 

“This is Danny,” the boy watched, amusement heavy in his green eyes as he floated up and perched his elbow on the stranger’s shoulder, leaning his head in his palm, icicle held loosely in the fingers of the hand holding his head up. The stranger didn’t notice the now-visible boy. Said boy and man watched Batman turn quickly to Robin.

 

“Where’s Danny?” The teen floundered for a minute and stumbled over his words in an attempt to answer. Batman looked at Gordon and sighed when the boy waved. 

 

“Danny.”

 

“What?” The man startled so badly that Danny had to turn intangible to avoid being hit by a flailing arm. The boy floated over to Batman and landed at his feet, plopping down cross legged. He melted the tip of the icicle and then put the now-dull tip in his mouth. Batman sighed and gently nudged Danny with his foot to get his attention. The boy craned his head so the top leaned against the Dark Knight’s leg. 

 

“Danny, this is Commissioner Jim Gordon. He’s a good friend of mine. I trust him. I need you to stay with him while Robin and I go take care of an Arkham prison break.” Danny glanced at the man who was trying to regain his composure before letting a faux innocent smile bloom on his face and nodding in acknowledgement. Batman bent down and lifted the boy to his feet, forcing Danny to drop his ice, then nudged Danny over to the man. Danny walked over and stood next to him, watching the two leave.

 

Before ‘Commissioner Jim Gordon’ could get a word out, Danny’s innocent expression turned to a smirk. He looked up at the man and winked. 

 

Then he was gone. Because there was no way in hell that he was going to miss whatever this was. The last thing he heard as he was flying after the Bats in ‘Commissioner Jim Gordon’ cursing.

 

This was going to be so much fun.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

So...somehow, he lost the Bats. He got a bit distracted and next thing Danny knew he hadn't a clue where the other two went. So he wandered around, eventually hearing faint laughter. The boy gently handed in front of a large, abandoned warehouse where the laughter was louder.

 

‘Abandoned warehouse. So cliche.’

 

He phased through the locked front door (yes, he just walked into the bad guy’s possible secret lair using the front door) and looked at the scene in front of him.

 

It was certainly a...new...experience.

 

There were splashes of color (paint?) covering the walls and the floor was littered with various weapons, from guns to bloodied pipes. He didn’t see anyone, presumably since they were around the corner where the voices were coming from. The boy quietly stepped further inside, looking around and was careful not to step on any broken glass or weapons. He started, luckily managing to keep himself from making noise, when he felt a cold, wet nose nuzzle and sniff his left palm and another warm presence poke at his right side. 

 

He stood frozen, not breathing, eyes clenched tight. He finally, after one animal started rubbing its head against his palm and the other animal nuzzled his side the same way, he managed to look down. 

 

Surrounding him were two very large brown creatures with black spots scattered over their fur. They resembled dogs, and he could tell they were part of the wolf family, but the actual name of the species eluded his mind. The creatures were sitting around him, seemingly trying to get him to pet them. He did, very carefully, start to pat their matted fur. Their pelt felt grainy and dirty, probably from being in a warehouse without being bathed in a long time. 

 

As he pet them, he relaxed slowly, and soon he sat cross legged on the ground and was giggling quietly at the animals. One sat directly in front of him, practically towering over his small frame, with its head dipped to sniff his slightly dusty and dulled white hair while the other was on its back, head laying on Danny’s knee. Danny patted the creature's belly and watched as its tail wagged left to right. It struck him as strange that the animals acted so much like domesticated dogs rather than act like the wild creatures like they were. 

 

When the creature-- hyena!-- smelling his hair huffed Danny giggled louder at the strange sensation. He froze, remembering that he wasn’t alone and was trying to be silent for a reason, he waited for indication of his cover blown. The voices had silenced and Danny could hear two sets of footsteps--one male and one female--started to come towards him. The hyenas moved, one now sitting at his right side with a large paw on his knee, and the other now laying down normally with its chin resting in his lap. Danny softly fisted his right hand in the fur of one, his other hand following suit as he leaned to the large animal, trying to shield himself from the people. 

 

When he finally saw the two criminals, they stared at each other in shock. 

 

One--the male--had stringy green hair and a painted white face with a big red smile drawn on. He was wearing a purple suit and black gloves. He wasn’t overly muscular, yet he was still two times Danny’s size. The other was wearing a skin tight black and red jester suit, complete with the hat and black domino mask over her eyes. Her face was painted as well, and she held a large mallet in her hand, casually resting on her left shoulder.

 

After a moment of silence, the woman dropped the top of the mallet on the ground with a thud and put her hands on her face and squealed. Danny tilted his head, which seemed like the wrong thing to do seeing as she ran towards him.

 

Danny was still getting over his shock at the two people’s appearance to do anything as the woman hugged him tightly from behind, mindful of the hyenas still draped over the small boy. 

 

“He’s. So. Adorable. Can we keep him?” The man eyed Danny before he nodded. The woman squealed again, hurting Danny’s sensitive ears. 

 

“Who are you?” Danny managed to get his voice back.

 

“Names Harley. That over there’s Mistah J.” Danny just nodded, still uncertain of the sudden events. He eyed the two and shrugged deciding that he could handle them if they were to try anything. And he was so bored and didn’t want to go back to the ‘Commissioner Jim Gordon.’

 

“Well, kid, seems like Bud and Lou like you.” The man gestured to each animal respectively. He laughed a bit hysterically, clapped his hands, then turned around. “Have fun, Harley, I’m going to get ready for our playmate. Should be here soon.” He called over his shoulder. Danny craned his head in an attempt to see the woman with her arms still around his chest.

 

“Is that the Joker? My brother mentioned the name once.” The woman, Harley, nodded and smiled.

 

“I mostly call him puddin’. He’s waitin’ for the Bats to show up.” Danny decided not to mention that he lived with the Bats. He had a feeling that mentioning it would ruin his fun.

 

He and Harley played with the hyenas for an hour before the sound of fighting came from the area that the Joker disappeared to. Harley giggled and looked down at Danny, who was laying on his back trapped on the floor by Bud who was lying comfortably on top of him. 

 

“Looks like they're here.”

 

“You don’t seem that upset that your plans are being foiled.” Danny pointed out, not even attempting to get up from under the hyena. 

 

“Buttercup, this is the plan. It’s fun!” She grabbed her mallet and rushed at Batman as soon as he turned the corner. Danny watched, leaning against the chest of Lou while Bud shifted, now rubbing his head against the Halfa’s side. 

 

The fight didn’t last long, however Harley did get some good hits in. Faintly Danny could hear sirens coming and anxiety wormed its way into his chest. He pushed it away as the man cuffed the two criminals and the vigilantes caught sight of him. 

 

“Danny you're supposed to be with Gordon.” The boy shrugged. The Caped Crusader sighed and gently dragged Danny to his feet, ignoring the growling of the hyenas, and started to walk out. Danny smiled and waved back at the animals that were whining after him.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

As soon as they entered the cave, a small dark blob charged at Danny. The boy managed to catch the bat before it crashed into him. He cupped the flying animal in his hands and smiled as it chirped at him rapidly. Danny turned his gaze to Bruce who was rubbing his eyes like he had a headache.

 

“Can I keep him?” The boy asked eagerly. Bruce sighed sharply, eyes clenched tight. He nodded and Danny smiled. He transformed back to his human half and the bat perched himself on the top of the child’s head and buried himself in the bark mop of hair.

 

“His name’s Phil.” The man just grabbed Danny’s hand and started leading him to the elevator without a word.

Chapter Text

“Sir, I know that the Halfa escaped, but-”

 

“No. Buts. I told you that under no circumstances is that thing allowed to escape, even if it meant you would die keeping it here. You failed, and now we have to find a way to get it back.” The large man dressed in head-to-toe white turned back to the rest of the gathered agents. “Any ideas on how to do that?”

 

Silence.

 

“You’re all worthless.”

 

The Agents all averted their gazes to avoid the harsh glare from their boss. After an uncomfortable amount of time, the door to the conference room was flung open loudly. The unfortunate young agent that had barged into the meeting wilted under the full force of the contempt of his boss, who was the very embodiment of ‘if looks could kill.’  

 

After an awkward pause as Agent A contemplated murder, the young junior agent, Agent Y, stumbled out a string of sounds that was possibly be an explanation, however mostly incoherent in his panic.

 

“Situation, large force, or reading, not Halfa, but powerful-” taking a deep breath, Agent Y began again, this time with only a slight stutter to demonstrate his panic, “S-sir, we have a sit-uation. A-approximalty f-five minutes ago, w-we got a rea-reading of a large wave of ec-ectoen-ergy. It’s not the Halfa, ho-however, it’s very pow-power-ful.”

 

“Where?” The word was growled out, but it was evident that the agent wasn’t as aggravated as he was minutes ago. 

 

“Star city, sir.” 

 

“Well why are you all still here?” The group of men immediately stood and started tripping over each other in their haste to get out of the room. The junior agent spoke up quickly before everyone left.

 

“One more thing, sir. It seems like the...leader? Of this power surge requests to speak with you. It had sent a message stating: ‘I have a proposition for the entity known as the Ghost Investigation Ward. I shall meet you in the city of stars. Signed PD.’”

 

Agent A was silent as he processed the words. Straightening, the man started towards the door, the rest of the agents parting like the Red Sea in an attempt to avoid being their boss’ outlet for his anger. Striding to the door, the man didn’t falter as he addressed the group behind him.

 

“What are you waiting for? We have a meeting to get to.”

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

Agent A carefully walked into the warehouse. He went in alone, however had the perimeter secured with a near army-like security surrounding every possible exit. The man himself had his gun ready to attack if the need arose.

 

“Ahh, little mortal decided to show up.” A deep voice echoed out from the darkness behind him. Spinning around, Agent A pointed his weapon towards the origin of the noise, only to see nothing. He slowly turned back and came face to face with a large dark being. Suppressing the urge to jump back, the Alpha Agent raised his weapon and began interrogating.

 

“What are you?”

 

“I am Pariah Dark, King of All Ghosts. As I’ve mentioned, I have a proposition for your pathetic little group of humans.”

 

The Agent bared his teeth, resembling a feral dog. The ghost didn’t blink. “Why the fuck would I trust a non-feeling piece of ectoplasmic scum?” 

 

“Because we both have goals that coincide.” The King replied easily. 

 

After a moment of silence from the other, the ghost continued. “The Halfa. You want data, I need him out of the way.” The Agent relaxed slightly, interest blooming in his mind.

 

“So what do you propose?”

 

“I have plans. Plans that I need you and your organization to stay out of the way for. I will leave you be, not interfere with your work unless you interfere with mine.” 

 

“What do I get out of it? What does this have to do with the Halfa?”

 

“I need that boy out of the way. He’s the biggest threat to me and my plans. So I originally planned on capturing and eliminating him, however I figure I can just, instead, hand him over to you so you can do as you wish with him. Only condition is he cannot leave alive.”

 

The man in white stood and thought of the deal. He had been trained to never believe anything a ghost says, but he needs that Halfa. Soon. 

 

The ghost stretched out a large, armoured hand, a skull-shaped ring adorning the ring finger.

 

Agent A hesitated before sliding his own gloved hand in the other and gripped it. Looking the ghost in its glowing green eyes, he steeled himself.

 

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

“Danny! We’ve got to go! Bruce is already downstairs!” Dick called up the stairs. He had been waiting for his little brother for the past half hour. He didn’t really know what was keeping him so long, not like he had to suit up or anything. Dick pulled the sleeve of his school uniform down as he shifted from foot to foot impatiently.

 

“Why are you dressed like that?”

 

Dick let out a scream and fell backwards in an attempt to turn to the abrupt voice from behind him. He glared at Danny who was staring at him with an all-too-innocent look on his face. The boy was in his ghost form and was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, no shoes, and Phil sat nestled in his hair. 

 

“You need to stop doing that.”

 

“It’s fun. Why are you dressed like that?” Dick sighed and looked down at his attire. 

 

“I have to go to school. Bruce is going to drop me off before you two go to the Watchtower.”

 

“You're not coming?” Dick stood and brushed off non-existent dirt from his uniform. He grabbed Danny’s shoulders and gently turned him, leading him towards the garage. 

 

“No. But I will see you after school. You’ll be fine. I promise. The League will be there and then you’ll come to the mountain when school is over. Bruce said that there is something they need to do, then they will come and debrief us.” Danny nodded and didn’t protest the movement, instead simply letting his brother bring him to meet Bruce in the garage.

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

Danny didn’t really like zeta tubes. Or more specifically the ones that brought them to the Watchtower.

 

It shone a very bright white light, which he hated for many reasons. The reason he seemed to hate the most was the fact that the light was so bright that it blinded him temporarily. It hurted his overly sensitive eyes and left him without his eyesight for approximately 5 minutes and 34 seconds, which was far too long and it overall just scared him. 

 

The zeta tubes to the mountain were the same, though to a less extreme, so he was more okay with them, but he still didn’t like them.

 

When they arrived at the Watchtower, the Halfa reached out and searched for his guardian’s hand. After he found it, he gripped it tightly with both hands and tucked himself against the man’s leg. This was uncharted territory with people who he didn’t know well, and he had every right to be paranoid.

 

‘You keep telling yourself that.’

 

Danny really hated that stupid voice in his head. 

 

‘Aww, don’t be like that, sugarplum.’

 

Danny tightened his grip on the Dark Knight’s hand. His lack of sight was hindering the ability to distract himself from his thoughts. He had thought he was doing better. Apparently not.

 

‘I want to kill you.’

 

‘Well, Mama always said dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.’ 

 

Danny could almost start to make out vague shapes.

 

‘Correction. I want to kill Dick for showing us that movie.’

 

“Is something wrong Danny? Because I think you're going to break my hand if you hold on any tighter.”

 

The half ghost could feel the absence of heat from the side that had been pressed to the Bat’s leg as the man knelt in front of him. Danny must have shown some of his panic on his face.

 

“I can’t see. The light too bright.” The hand that wasn’t still in the boy’s grasp gently rested on his left shoulder. Danny blinked rapidly until he began to gain his sight back. He nodded when he could see relatively better and Batman stood and Danny pressed himself closer to the man, however more relaxed than before.

 

By the time his sight was back to normal, he was standing in front of a group of adults. He stepped behind Batman’s leg and used his cape to cast shadows on his body to hide him further. He scanned each of the heroes in front of him, taking note of certain things. He recognized the man in bright red and yellow, Flash, the large man in blue and red and the woman in similar colors, though he never got their names. 

 

Other than those three there was a tall green man dressed in red, a slightly glowing man dressed in head to toe green, a man with similar attire but had a bow and quiver strapped to his back, there was a half-robot man, and finally a broad man dressed in orange with a large trident in his hand and short blond hair and beard.

 

He didn’t like all the eyes on him. The boy wiggled further into his hiding spot, debating whether or not he should just turn invisible and intangible and hide somewhere. Maybe he’ll do that when Batman left. Or when Batman tried to pull him in front of the group, which was bound to happen any moment.

 

Sure enough, seconds after the thought had crossed his mind, he felt a firm grip on his arm pulling him towards the strange...people? Danny knew he could easily win, but he didn’t want to use his powers against his guardian. However, he wasn’t gonna go down without a fight, so he began pulling on the hand and trying to dig his feet into the floor. Though his actions seemed to slow the movement, it wasn’t enough to stop it.

 

“Hey little man,” the bright red figure stated quietly, clearly remembering the first encounter with the boy and his reactions to the loud and excited nature of his voice. This time he was careful, the enthusiasm and cheer didn’t seem to lessen, though his volume and overall eagerness was toned down. Danny appreciated the thought, even if the consideration wasn’t enough to avoid a slight jump. 

 

All of the adults seemed to have soft smiles and sympathy written on their features. Danny knew that Batman had probably shown them his file from the GIW, though the knowledge didn’t keep him from being annoyed at the invasion of privacy. 

 

How had Batman even have gotten the damn file?

 

After a moment of standing stiff and still in front of the heroes, he decided he should make a move.

 

That move just so happened to be disappearing and flying up to the rafters as quickly as possible. Which, thankfully, was successful seeing as no one seemed to expect the blatant use of power. Fine by him, he prefers people underestimate him. 

 

The boy found a perch in a corner of the rafters that was cloaked with shadows. He watched the people for a minute before carefully letting go of his powers. He pulled his knees to his chest and observed the panicked adults. The calmest person was Batman, who was scanning the room for signs of the Halfa with a stoic, blank look. 

 

Danny watched the man sigh and lock eyes with him. The boy froze but made no move to reveal himself. The Dark Knight mouthed, ‘I’ll be back soon. Stay in the tower.’ 

 

The Halfa nodded. 

 

“He’s fine. He might come out later but he’s still here. He can take care of himself. Let’s get this meeting over with so that I can find him and drop him off at the mountain. Shall we?” The Caped Crusader motioned to the “war room” according to Dick. 

 

The heroes all gave another brief and frantic scan of the room before deciding that if the Bat wasn’t worried about his ward then the boy should be fine. 

 

After entering the room they started grilling Superman, who was the leader on the mission to infiltrate what they believed to be the main headquarters of the Ghost Investigation Ward. 

 

“Report.” Batman said calmly, though an air of impatience surrounded him. 

 

The Man of Steel cleared his throat, “it was the main headquarters. We managed to get in and go through and gather a few files on other facility locations, including the one that Danny was held in. We also got out with relative ease, only running into a few guards but left no trace. I sent the files to all of you and I figured that we can learn what we can about the agency and return to the base and begin to take them down. After the main facility is gone the rest will be easier.” Batman relaxed ever so slightly at the news. 

 

“I want to look over the files and begin planning our attack by tomorrow. I want this agency gone. For good.“ 

 

The rest of the heroes nodded and made noises of agreement. The aura surrounding Batman returned to its normal tall, dark, and brooding nature. 

 

“Any news on the impending ghost threat?” The man asked, turning to Wonder Woman. She nodded. 

 

“There was an energy spike similar to Danny’s signature, indicating the arrival of an influx of paranormal beings. They might be making their move on this plane soon.” She drawled in her unique accent. 

 

“Then tomorrow we have to decide which to focus our attention on. Keep an eye on both until then in case either decide to do something.” He received another round of agreements. 

 

The meeting went on for another hour as they made their way through the normal motions for team meetings. 

 

As it came to a close, Batman stood and began heading out.

 

“I need to go look for Danny. I will wait by the Zeta tubes so we can go to the mountain. We’ll have the team stay there while we go look into a few facilities.” He didn’t wait for a response, instead moving towards the main room to call for his ward. 

 

And as promised, the Bats were waiting, hand in hand, by the zeta tubes ten minutes later. Without a word, the heroes and the Halfa transported from the Watchtower to the Mountain.

Chapter Text

Danny has many, many phobias. He could also trace them back to when he developed them, and worse he knows why he had them.

 

Achluophobia which was the fear of the dark. It started before he was even captured, it was a normal kid thing, disliking the dark because of the mythical monsters hiding in it. However, after being constantly locked in a small, pitch black cell with nothing but his own fears and thoughts to keep him company it escalated fairly quickly.

 

Acousticophobia was one word for the fear of loud noises. Loud noises just send him into a panic because of the sensitivity of his hearing and it brought back bad memories of yelling.

 

Agliophobia was the fear of pain. This one was self explanatory. He didn’t like being hurt and the anticipation of pain was not pleasant.

 

Agoraphobia was the fear of open spaces. Open spaces made it hard to defend himself. That and the fact that he spent so long in a small room, it was a new thing that he wasn’t used to.

 

Aichmophobia was the fear of sharp objects and needles. Illegal and highly invasive experimentation ruined any and all types of medical facilities for the rest of your life, as well as objects that are related, such as needles and scalpels.

 

Androphobia or arrhenphobia was the fear of men. He wasn’t comfortable around people in general, but the male species specifically because he rarely, if ever, saw a female scientist, and when he did there wasn’t as much pain, so he had unconsciously associated men with pain unless they prove otherwise. Bruce and Dick were trying to find a way to get him over that.

 

And that tied into anthropophobia, fear of people or society. It was not really a fear, but a strong dislike and sense of uncomfortability.

 

Then there was aphenphosmphobia or chiraptophobia, two words for the fear of touch or physical contact. Once again, it was fairly easy to find the origins of that particular affliction. 

 

Asthenophobia was the fear of weakness or of being in a weakened state. The GIW had spent a long time ingraining that into him. He was supposed to be a weapon, and weapons were not made to be weak. 

 

Astra(po)phobia or brontophobia was the fear of thunder and lightning. He considered this a normal person one. He didn’t like noises or flashing lights. He’s had it since he was really young, and just kinda stayed consistent throughout his upbringing in the lab. 

 

Cleithrophobia or cleisiophobia was the fear of being locked in enclosed space. 

 

Cainophobia or cainotophobia was the fear of novelty. Again, he wasn’t afraid of new things, just very wary. For the most of his life, new meant bad so he learned to stay away from new things, places, and people. 

 

The point was, Danny had a lot of fears, those not even being the worst of them, and he had long since memorized each and every one of them. 

 

He also learned, at least started to learn since living with Bruce and Dick, how social interactions were meant to be done and what he should do to complete a successful social altercation. 

 

However he never encountered this. 

 

“Wally! Don’t ask him that! Are you stupid?” Artemis smacked said speedster in the head. 

 

The Halfa hesitantly looked over to his older brother, who in turn pulled the boy to him. Danny allowed the movement and ended up tucked to the elder’s side with Phil (they had gone and picked him up) lounging on Danny’s knee. 

 

The young heroes were in the living area of the mountain where M’gann and Conner resided sitting in a large circle on the floor in the middle of the room. They had been taking turns asking a question then going around and answering it.

 

The small eleven-year-old sat in between his brother and the speedster. Or he was sitting there before he was pulled from the spot and now trapped by the Boy Wonder, something Danny noticed was happening a lot more now. He had gotten used to being manhandled by Dick when he wanted to be close. 

 

He got used to it. He still doesn’t understand it. But that didn’t matter because he didn’t flinch or tense anymore. So improvement.

 

He felt an applied pressure from the arm holding him and he turned his gaze to his brother’s dark glasses. 

 

“Do you want to answer or do you want to be skipped?” 

 

Oh right. The question. What is one of your biggest fears?

 

What could it hurt? “Leukophobia.” He received nothing but blank stares from the others. Well, blank stares and one understanding one. He didn’t offer any explanation so they turned to the only other person who seemed to know what it meant, Robin. 

 

“Fear of the color white.” The sound of understanding was almost comedic. 

 

A long silence followed, Danny just looking between all of the older teens patiently. After what even he deemed as too long to be comfortable, Robin cleared his throat. 

 

Anyway, next question.” He said it with a sense of finality, daring anyone to disobey. It wasn’t hard to see the training from Batman. Finally M’gann smiled and perked, asking another question. 

 

<><><><><><><><><><>

 

“Is this really a good idea?” Wally eyed the Bats warily. Artemis sighed. 

 

“Don’t be a wimp.” 

 

“But you realize we agreed to hide and seek with Batman’s two protégés. One of which is an actual ghost.” He gestured to each of them frantically, his voice pitching high, boarding on hysterics. 

 

“We agreed on no powers, so he’s not a ghost right now. So start counting.” Slumping in defeat, he began to count, everyone else running off in separate directions to hide. 

 

Dick grabbed Danny and began to lead him down a hall to a small room. It was filled with cleaning supplies and smelled of bleach when they stepped inside. After the elder closed the door silently, he pulled a chain that turned a single light on, illuminating the room in a golden light. Danny simply stared up at his brother patiently. Dick smiled eagerly down at his little brother, face lit up with childish excitement. 

 

“Ready to crush them all into the ground with our unimaginable skill?” Danny rolled his eyes. If the older teen saw it, he didn’t say anything, instead gracefully jumping on top of a filing cabinet and using a small pen knife to cut along the seam in the ceiling tiles. Pushing on the loose tile up into the ceiling he pulled himself up into the dark, cramped area above. He hung out, looking at Danny expectantly. The boy followed the elder’s lead and climbed into the roof. 

 

The two Bats crawled through the small crawl space until they reached a one by one foot metal grate that led to the ventilation system of the mountain. Dick used his pen knife to unscrew the grate before efficiently lifting it and moving aside. Danny took the hint and moved past him and lowered his body slowly and as quietly as possible into the metal tube. Shifting aside, he let his brother through and followed him throughout the maze. It was cold, the metal and air flowing past them providing no warmth. The Halfa didn’t mind, his core allowing him to tolerate lower temperatures than an average human being.

 

He almost ran into Dick when he suddenly stopped. After a bit more shifting, they were perched right above another grate, looking down on the rest of the team. Danny cracked a small smile as they observed the frustrated teens below.

 

“I told you this was a bad idea. We are never gonna find them!” Wally exclaimed, dramatically falling and sprawling his limbs on the carpeted floor. Artemis scowled at the redhead and gently kicked him in the side. The teen yelped and curled into a ball to protect his torso. Aqualad was sitting in the corner, reading and not paying attention to squabbling of his teammates. Conner and M’gann were off to the side, scanning the area for an idea of where the two Bats could have hidden. 

 

“Has anyone checked the rafters?” The Superman clone asked. M’gann turned her head towards him and nodded while replying.

 

“It was the first place I checked. But they wouldn’t hide there. They were trained by Batman, they would never do anything that predictable.” Conner sighed and nodded his agreement. Danny looked up at his brother who had a hand covering his mouth in an attempt to silence his laughter. They locked eyes and immediately had to hold their breath to avoid making noise. The search went on for another half an hour before The zeta tubes lit up and announced the arrival of Batman and Superman. Dick reached over and held onto Danny’s shoulder, eyes now sharp as he waited to see the reaction of the elder heroes. Danny tilted his head at the Boy Wonder, confused at what he was waiting for. 

 

Wasn’t it better to avoid any potential worry about another abduction?

 

‘You really think they would worry about your wellbeing? Aww, you are so naïve, kroshka.’

 

Danny watched the heroes when suddenly a dark blur flew and landed on the Caped Crusader. Danny’s eyes lit up and he took advantage of Robin's touch on his shoulder to turn them both intangible and pass through the metal. When they were about a foot above the ground, Danny let go of the intangibility and dropped the teen to fly to Batman. Robin screeched as he fell to the hard ground, but all present ignored him. Danny landed on the Dark Knight’s shoulders, hands holding onto the ears of the man’s cowl, and the small bat flew up to nest in the boy’s white hair. Batman didn’t hesitate at the action, instead keeping his gaze on the now attentive team of sidekicks. 

 

“We infiltrated one of the minor GIW labs in Minnesota.” The Kryptonian started, “We managed to get intel of an alliance-” a booming clap of what sounded like thunder sounded, shaking the whole mountain. Danny tightened his hands on the Bat’s head, the loud noise scaring him. 

 

“What-” the zeta tube lit up and the Flash appeared, his face panicked and the energy around him giving off a sense of frazzled urgency.

 

“We have a problem. You might want to look outside.” The group didn’t question it, simply following the suggestion and running through the compound until they reached the tourist area and out the main doors. Standing on the top of the stairs. They saw a large black and purple cloud swirling above the city with green lightning flashing occasionally in the cloud. Bright flashes of neon colors were flying through the cloud in large groups. 

 

“Meet Pariah’s Army.”