summary: No matter what, Kaldur has to be strong.
author's notes: Spoilers for S1 finale; written before S2.
---After what happened in Atlantis, after what they told him.. as much as he was happy for Tula and Garth, and he really was, he just couldn't talk to them, not like he used to. But he still had Roy, his best friend here on the surface world. And Kaldur would be there for Roy, no matter what.
---He should have known, when Roy started pulling away from him. He wasn't the real Roy Harper, he had said, he didn't deserve Kaldur's friendship. None of that mattered to Kaldur of course, he had almost near pleaded with him, that they could still be friends, but Roy.. he was so stubborn. So Kaldur watched him go, and kept the pain inside himself.
---His father. His father. The thought makes Kaldur sick to his stomach. But he can see the similarities between them almost immediately; mostly their leadership qualities. Realises now why Black Manta had always called his devotion to King Orin a waste, even if he doesn't understand it.
---He finds it easier to distance himself from the pain, and despite the horrors of what he's learned, he can still lead remarkably well. He has too. The last thing he wants is to be lapsing in his duties. No matter what, Kaldur has to be strong.
---Sometimes when he's alone, Kaldur looks at himself in a mirror and wonders how much of his looks comes from his father, what his father even looks like under all that armor. He wonders if he has green eyes. Why he never noticed that before is beyond him, his mother and fa- Calvin both have brown eyes after all. Kaldur evantually realises how utterly foolish he's been all his life. And that maybe, just maybe, Black Manta has been right all along.
---When he returns to Shayeris, Kaldur says nothing, continues to act like nothing is wrong. He stares at them, at his mother and Calvin, and wonders if they would have ever told him the truth. He had always been so proud of Calvin (he laughs to himself at the naivety of his younger self) especially once Kaldur started to fight Black Manta himself as Aqualad. And that makes him wonder, if Aquaman and Mera knew the truth. Of course they knew, he decides to himself, how could they not?
---White hot rage pools inside him and he doesn't know how to deal with it. He needs to talk to someone, but Roy is long gone, and Tula and Garth are out of the question. Artemis, he realises with a start, of course, she would know exactly how he feels. But just as quickly, he realises he can't. She's so happy right now. And he can't put that burden on her, no, he can't put that burden on any of them. So he keeps this secret burning inside him.
---Why aren't you ready yet? Everytime he stares at Robin, that question pounds in his mind. Its been almost a year since their team started, and with all that they've accomplished, and their ranks having risen so much over the last few months, why can't he be ready yet? One of these burdens, he is stuck with, but the other.. and even though he knows it not logical, and that it isn't Robin's fault, Kaldur still hates him for it. He finds himself hating many people these days. But mostly he realised, he just doesn't care anymore.
---The day that it came to a head, was a day not that started much like any other. Another day, another mission. He's fought his father before this, even after finding out the truth. He's kept this secret for so long, and he keeps fighting regardless. What else can he do? Then suddenly it's like the sky explodes. Invasion, he realises numbly as it engulfs the battle. Then he feels hands on him, pushing him away, saving him. He turns and realises too late who it is. Kaldur doesn't shout or scream, but he turns away from the team and reaches out anyway through the smoke, and its the last time they see him.
---Kaldur gazes at his father's comatose body, listening to the machines that are keeping him alive. He feels so numb inside he briefly wonders how he can keep on going. Then he picks up the tools around him, reaching for what's left of his water bearers as he finishes his work on the repaired armor. Then he picks up the helmet beside him, and steadily walks into the Light.