where you don't see me @artemiscrock
Chapter One

When it comes down to it, joining the Outsiders is an impulse decision.

The idea starts after the funeral. Hearing Bart and Jaime talk about the team, the change they're trying to effect, it sticks in his mind. He thinks, I wouldn't mind being a part of something like that.

But what really clinches it is seeing Virgil hug Bart. He really can't tell why, but he's got a gut feeling that joining the Outsiders is the right thing to do. He's kind of making up his reasoning for joining the team on the spot, but as he says it, he realizes that it feels right. The feeling settles in his chest and he knows that this is something that he has to do.

But what really clinches it is seeing Virgil hug Bart. He really can't tell why, but he's got a gut feeling that joining the Outsiders is the right thing to do. He's kind of making up his reasoning for joining the team on the spot, but as he says it, he realizes that it feels right. The feeling settles in his chest and he knows that this is something that he has to do.

The downside of it being an impulse decision, of course, is that he hasn't really thought about what that's going to mean for him, the ways his life is going to change.

 And there are so. Many. Changes. Some of them he's kind of expecting, but most of them catch him way, way off guard.

 For example, he's a superhero. Like, officially. That means he needs combat training - he's got a handle on his abilities now, but he has almost no experience with using them in a fight. Or fighting at all, really. (Sure, he and the other kids from STAR had that thing with Red Volcano, and the stuff on the War World, but those were special circumstances, and they barely got out alive both times.) So, to start, he spends four hours a week in the training room. (They're starting him off easy, apparently. Most of them train in one on one combat for at least eight hours a week.) Sometimes he's working with Tigress, sometimes Miss Martian, sometimes other members of the Outsiders. It's exhausting, and he's fallen down more times than he can count, but at least there's always a friendly hand to help him back up.

 (It's a simple gesture, but it means a lot to him. Every single person there has his back, and… it really makes him feel like part of the team.)

 And the fact that he's part of a team now - that's new.

 Sure, he'd spent a few months with the runaways, but they weren't really a team, not in the same sense. They were a bunch of kids whose main goal was self preservation. All they wanted was not to be forced to go back - not to STAR, not to the Reach. There was no desire to fight, just to be safe and to mess with the Reach in their own little ways. When it came down to it, the runaways were always more of a family than a team.

So joining a team - a super team, at that - is an entirely new experience for him, and he has a really hard time finding his footing. For one thing, there's a surprising amount of studying - learning all their maneuvers, looking at the history of the league and the team, researching some of the big bads they've gone up against. M'gann tells him he's gotta do some reading before he can actually train with the team.

(He doesn't really see the point, at first. He says as much to Jaime and Virgil one day, and Jaime rolls his eyes and says something about freshmen never doing their homework. Ed grumbles, then gets back to reading.)

When he's finally read up enough, he sits in on a couple of team training sessions, watching how they work, thinking about ways to use his powers  for combat situations. It feels like an awful lot of hoops to jump through just to join them in practice, but when he finally jumps into the fray with him, he starts to get it. Their training is no joke - even with all his research, he still gets his ass kicked. A lot. But he also manages to kick some asses himself, so he's pretty proud.

Team training is at least eight hours a week. Usually, they're running simulations - he's not sure how the tech works, but there's this big, fancy room that lets them run through simulated battles with different villains or teams. Sometimes, though, a couple of members of the Justice League will show up to give them a fight. They get their butts handed to them, repeatedly, but they also manage to hold their own a little bit better every time.

(The more they all train together, the more it becomes clear that he and Bart work well as a team. Their powers complement each other's, and they seem to be able to anticipate each other's moves pretty well - they're still clumsy, they don't quite succeed at all the things they try, but they usually hit pretty close to the mark. He thinks about that a lot.)

The better they get, the more it sinks in. He's a superhero. He's on a team of superheroes. He's going to save people. The world is going to be watching him. He wants to be a role model, an inspiration, and he has a chance to do that now.

He's not sure he'll ever quite get used to that.

There are also, of course, the changes he sees coming a mile away.

His dad is extremely reluctant to let Ed join the team. He spends three days trying to talk him out of it, telling him, at length, how unprepared he is, how dangerous it is. He also pulls up a few videos of heroes from the League getting thrown around, including one where Flash's arm gets broken real bad. Like, bone sticking out of the skin bad. It's pretty gruesome, but Ed isn't going to let that scare him. Much.

It takes a lot of negotiating between him, his dad, and Kaldur and M'gann to figure out an arrangement that they can all agree on so that he can join up. In addition to training, he has to do chores, eat three square meals a day, have a curfew of eleven o'clock, and he can't give up on his education, meaning he needs tutoring, twice a week. And, finally, he has to go home on weekends. That was something his dad had absolutely refused to budge on.

(And maybe he doesn't push back on that one, much. He might get a little homesick sometimes, but he doesn't think anyone needs to know that.)

Most of those rules are pretty loosely enforced - the only adult supervision they have most of the time is Doctor Jace, who isn't exactly the most attentive person. He can get away with not always doing his chores on time, and he does, on occasion, have ice cream for dinner. The curfew is the most strictly enforced rule they've got, and even that can be avoided pretty easily if they want.

The one thing he can't avoid is the tutoring. They've all got to get an education, and while Violet, Tara, and Forager can all just go to a regular high school, the rest of them are a bit too visible for that. So they get a couple of tutors - one for Vic, Jaime, Brion, and Virgil, and another for Ed, Cassie, Bart, and Gar.

The tutors show up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and they stay for five hours. It's not too bad, all things considered - they don't have homework, they get to work together a lot, and it's a pretty laid back learning environment. It's still school, but it's nowhere near as bad as it could be.

So, Ed's got a whole lot on his plate now, and more eyes on him than ever before, and he's definitely feeling the pressure.

And yet.

He's also so much freer than he's been in years.

He's living with a bunch of his friends in a super fancy, tricked out tower. It's got as many video games as a teenager could want, hooked up to a huge flat-screen, complete with a state of the art sound system. There's also a gym, a full size pool, a basketball court, and an arcade. Plus a fully stocked kitchen, and almost no actual adult supervision.

So if you ask him, his life is pretty sweet right now. He's got a lot of things he has to do, but he's definitely making it work.

There is one slight problem, though.

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