Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chapter Eight: Down and Dirty

Chapter Eight: Down and Dirty

Robin woke up to sounds outside his bedroom. More specifically, he woke up to Beast Boy's remarks about the skin coloring. He cracked his neck and stretched for a moment. Sighing, he got up and went to the door where it sounded like there was a Wrestle-Mania match going on outside.

"Come on, BB, you gotta use...!" Cyborg started, but Robin opened the door interrupting them, "Uh, hey Rob."

Robin folded his arms, a smile on his face, "Cyborg, that's horrible. How could you possibly do such a thing to BB?"

Beast Boy stood up, thoroughly happy that Robin was taking his side. That ended with Robin's next sentence, "That's not how you make him put it on. You remind him that it's his civic duty to do so, that chicks will find it extremely hott, and that we'll all kill him if he doesn't."

"What?" Beast Boy yelled, "First off, the ladies already think that I'm perfection. Second off, you didn't tell me that that stuff was a goopy mess!"

"Too bad," Robin answered, "You volunteered for this after all."

Beast Boy sighed, "I hate you guys."

"Come on, B," Cyborg told him, "It won't be that bad."

Whether or not Cyborg's idea of 'Not that bad' was correct or not depended on your point of view. For Robin and Cyborg, it was not that bad at all. In fact, it was hysterical. For Beast Boy, it was... well, let's just say he had to keep reminding himself why he was doing this. The job of turning Beast Boy into a bad to the bone DJ was an entertaining one. First, they had the fun job of throwing the slabs of pale color onto BB. They needed a lot of it too. Beast Boy literally could feel the sticky goop for at least a half hour.

Second, they had to find him the right clothes. They somehow managed to find a pair of tight pants, a button up T-shirt (they ripped it and scoffed it up a bit), and a vest (which they threw dirt on before hand). Robin found a dirty-brown wig in his supply of disguises. Unfortunately they couldn't convince BB to wear the fake earring, but considering the fact that by the end of it Beast Boy looked like a scruffy kid with an attitude, they thought that they did a pretty good job.

"Dudes, these pants are riding up! Why couldn't I just wear my regular pants?" Beast Boy complained.

"Because these actually make you look bad," Robin answered.

"Yeah man, stop whining about it," Cyborg told him.

"I wonder when the girls are going to be back. They've been gone for hours..." Beast Boy started, but he stopped.

The others turned around to see what he was starring at. Starfire and Raven had just entered the room. And Raven, she looked really different. Not a girly-girl. Not a Tom-Boy. Dangerous, bad, and 'whoa' were some of the silent words on all of the boys' tongues. Her hair was streaked with red and black and was up in a spiked bun. She was wearing black and silver boots up to her knees while her T-Shirt had images of demons and flames. Her skirt was a bit tight and looked like something out of Blackfire's closet. In fact, that's probably where they got it. Her belt wrapped around her waist several times and was covered in spikes. Raven's make up in itself, looked Gothic and yet, that wasn't what scared the boys.

It was the fact that she was fuming.

"Raven, you," Robin started, but stopped when she glared at him, "You ready?"

"Starfire, what did you do to her?" Cyborg asked, getting quickly to the point.

"I honestly do not know. Is it not 'bad' enough, Cyborg?" Starfire asked.

Beast Boy answered, "I'd say so."

Raven, though she had seen him before, finally acknowledged Beast Boy's presence, "They did this to you too?"

"Worse part's the skin coloring and the clay," Beast Boy said, scratching one of his now round ears.

"Yeah, well, let's just get this over with, alright?" Raven told them, walking past them and over to the monitors.

"Sure, should Cy and I go over to that Xenon place?" Beast Boy asked.

"It's 'Zenith's Fire' and yeah, go," Robin told the two, "Pay the hired DJ twice what they were going to pay him and if he has his own equipment, pay him double for it too."

"What?" Cyborg asked, "Why? We can't pay for that."

"Yes you can, here," Robin answered, giving Cyborg a pack of hundreds.

Cyborg looked at Robin, at the bills, and back at Robin again obviously stunned, "Since when do you carry around a pack of hundreds?"

"I don't," Robin answered, "I carry a debit card. But since we're not actually going to give our DJ a credit card, I think we'll have to resort to plain old cash."

"Yeah, but just how stocked up are you?" Beast Boy asked.

"I'm not," Robin answered, "My mentor however, is."

That closed the conversation. They all knew that. Robin hardly ever spoke of the Dark Knight. Revered everywhere, his mentor's reputation preceded him. Jump though, was one place where Robin didn't follow behind 'Batman and...' or was with any 'Batman' at all and all of the Titans knew that Robin wanted to keep it this way, for reasons unknown to them of course.

"Now go, or the DJ will get there before you," Robin told the two, "Beast Boy, take an ear com-link too."

After BB put the little thing in his ears, the two boys ran down, leaving the other three Titans in their wake. Deciding to take the T-Car, the two hoped in and raced down to a more decrepit old part of Jump, mostly the old industrial center of the town. They got out about five blocks away from Zenith's Fire while Cyborg put the T-Car on autopilot. Rick didn't know what hit him when the two found him and stopped him in the middle of his way to his next gig.

"I didn't do anything, I swear!" Rick said, "I was just going to DJ a dance!"

"We know," Beast Boy sighed, "Any chance we could take over for you?"

"No way! I need the..." Rick started when Cyborg interrupted.

"How much are they paying you? We'll pay you double."

That got Rick's attention. Lying a little bit, Rick took about two thousand by the time they were done with him plus another hundred to keep quiet about it. Somehow, it didn't surprise them. As Rick ran off, Cyborg noticed the guy's outfit.

"See, he wears three earrings," Cyborg hissed.

"I'm not gonna look like a girl, Cy," Beast Boy answered back.

"So what's your name now?" Cyborg asked after rolling his eyes.

"Um, I don't know, how 'bout Greg?" Beast Boy asked back.

"Sounds good to me, Greg," Cyborg said smiling, "Now tell me, Greg, do you know how to work a DJ system?"

"Dude, are you seriously asking me that?" Beast Boy exclaimed.

"Well can you?"


"It doesn't look that hard."

Cyborg slapped his head, "Let's hope so."

They walked until they saw a blinking red neon sign that only had a arrow pointing down a set of stairs. Cyborg stopped, knowing that if he went closer, Robin would murder him for it. Pounding fists, the two Titans faced each other. It was almost an act of proving they were men and hiding the worried feelings they both were having about this mission.

"Break a leg, B," Cyborg told him.

Beast Boy barely moved forward, but he did. Creepy. That's what this place was. Why would anyone want to go down here? The place smelled bad, of sweat and smoker's cigarettes. And with his heightened sense of smell, Beast Boy could swear that something smelled dead around here. It was one of the few times that he was not okay with being alone. As he walked down the steps, he could feel the rotting substances underneath his shoes sticking to their souls. It was disgusting, but he tried to ignore it. If he blew this...

He got down to the door and knocked. At first he thought that no one had heard him, but then someone opened the door an inch. He was tall and plump, fowl smelling, and Beast Boy recognized that he was the thing that smelled like it had died. The man's lips were cracked and his teeth were mostly gold fillings.

"You the DJ?"

"Uh, yeah, name's Greg," Beast Boy answered.

"I called for Rick," The man told him.

"Uh, the dude got sick, so he asked me to cover for him," Beast Boy offered.

"He explained it to you?"


"He explained to you the specifics?"

"Uh, you mean I can't tell the cops about tonight?" Beast Boy asked.

The man shrugged, "Close enough. Are you up for it?"

Beast Boy laughed, "No problem, man. Now are you going to let me in so I can, you know, get my groove on?"

The man looked at Beast Boy oddly, but shrugged and let Beast Boy in. The place was empty, but there were plenty of wooden tables scattered across the floor, with old chairs by them. Some of them looked like they had been tore apart and put back together again roughly. There was a center section with a stage up front where Beast Boy guessed he was supposed to set up. Across from him was something like a bar, but from what Beast Boy could tell, the man didn't have any of the normal alcoholic beverages that he had expected from such a place.

The man got his gaze and told him, "Can't sell it here. I've had too much property damage by drunk super villains' hands. Name's Rudy by the way."

Beast Boy raised a brow at Rudy thinking that selling to minors would have been the first thing that he would have been worried about. Property damage would be next. Rudy motioned for him to set up on the stage. To his relief, Beast Boy found an instruction manual in Rick's equipment and most of it was already set up for him there anyway. After about half an hour of trying different wires and asking Cyborg and Robin for help when they could, Beast Boy had managed to set everything up. Now the only thing that he had to do was press the on button.

Beast Boy pulled at his already loose collar, "Well, here goes nothing."

The red button was pressed. Lights flashed reds, purples, whites, oranges, and blues. Five disco balls dropped from the ceiling, scattering diamond shaped lights across the room. Music suddenly began to pump out of the laptop. Beast Boy looked around and a smile came to his face. He hadn't blown it. Rudy looked over at him and nodded in approval.

"Oh yeah!" Beast Boy yelled, "Who's the big bad DJ? I am! That's who! I'm bad! That's right!"

BB's victory dance was interrupted by a knock on the door and Robin's voice coming out of the com-link, "Beast Boy, why did you stop?"

"You want me to continue my dance?" Beast Boy asked, confused

"No!" Robin yelled, "What's going on?"

Beast Boy looked around to see Rudy going to the door and asking for the password, "People are coming in."

"What's the password?" Rudy asked.


"What'd he say?" Robin asked.

"Scath, the password's Scath," Beast Boy told him, "Didn't know Trigon was so popular."

"They probably rotate the password," Robin responded, "Pay attention."

Beast Boy nodded and watched as, to his dismay, several villains coming in ranging from Triton to Control Freak. The HIVE Five soon arrived with many of their fellow graduates. Kitten, Silver Swan, Mumbo, Atomic Skull, Malchior, Circe, Atlas, Toy Man, Punk Rocket, Black Mask, Katarou, Johnny Rancid, and many others that he couldn't name were there. Some of them began to sit in corner discussing anything from how they would one day take over the world to last night's episode of Gossip Girl. It was one of the weirdest spectacles that Beast Boy had ever witnessed. He didn't see Raven though, not yet anyway, and the others were quiet on the Com-Link, not wanting to risk blowing their cover.

Surprisingly, Beast Boy found being a DJ easy, but he blamed it on luck. People actually danced, mostly teens, but maybe that was a good thing. Beast Boy thought he'd puke at the site of Control Freak's dancing. He saw some people roughing around on occasion, but they normally settled it. The only real disturbance was when Kitten threw a fit and Killer Moth had to drag her out for a talk. Beast Boy himself though, was having a bit of fun. He liked the music, the loud noises, the feeling of it all. About an hour or so in, Rudy went to the door again.



Rudy let in the new arrival and when Beast Boy looked up, he saw Raven coming in, eight o'clock, right on time. She wasn't smiling, just looking around. They made eye contact and she nodded at him. He went back to DJing, but kept a careful eye on her. It was a different site. One you didn't see everyday, but in a good way... if you could call it that. It was nice to see her out of her dark corner. Not that this place was much brighter, but still, this was probably good for her, to get out, even a little bit.

Raven looked around, trying to find a group that maybe she could invite herself into. 'Great idea, Robin, sure. Send the most unsocial of all of us on this mission,' She thought to herself. She came up to a group including: Angel, Kitten, Fang, Adonis, and Johnny Rancid. She didn't go right up to them at first, but instead, ordered a drink from Rudy and sat alone at the bar.

"So my Daddy said that I could get two limos for the dance tonight," Kitten went on, "But he wouldn't let me have them both be pink! Can you believe him?"

"Yes," Adonis answered.

"You're so spoiled, you know that?" Angel told her.

"You're just jealous 'cause I'm the prettiest girl here," Kitten replied, "Isn't that right, Fang?"

Fang shook his head and looked up at the ceiling. Raven was sympathetic and gave him a smile. That caught his attention.

"Hey, new girl, what's your name?" He asked.

Raven panicked for a moment. No name. What name could she possibly use?

"Pain's Adanna, use 'Pain's Adanna'," Robin whispered in her ear through the Com-link thinking quickly.

"Uh, Pain's Adanna," Raven answered, "Uh, Adanna, for short."

Adonis had turned now too and asked, "Want to join us, Adanna?"

"Sure," She answered.

"So what's your thing?" Kitten asked.

"I, um, I create nightmares," Raven answered.

"Nightmares? Ha, what a lame power," Kitten replied back.

Raven glared, "They can be really scary though. Especially when they have your face in it."

The others all laughed, including Fang, who was personally thinking it was time to break up with her again. Raven inwardly sighed a breath of relief when the others excepted her charade.

"So where are you from? Haven't seen you around here," Angel asked.

"Uh, ways away, Steel, Steel City," Raven answered, pointing behind her.

"So that's why you don't know how things work around here," Kitten stated, "I'll inform you. My town. My rules!"

The others sighed and shook their heads, save for Johnny who told Raven, "Just ignore her. She thinks that since Blackfire's in jail she can top her as the most dangerous 'villainess' around here."

"I do not!"

"It's cool," Raven answered.

She glanced around at Beast Boy who was still DJing. Beast Boy eyed her, reminding her to keep them talking. She turned to see them in conversation, mocking Control Freak.

"It's so pathetic, you know?" Adonis added his say.

"So who isn't?" Raven asked.

The others turned to look at her as Johnny told her, almost sarcastically, "Well, most of the Hive aren't too pathetic. No offense, Angel."

"None taken," She answered.

"I'm not talking the HIVE," Raven inserted, "I mean, big, bad and ugly. Like who runs this place?"

"Rudy runs it," Kitten answered, "What are you talking about?"

"To really answer your question," Fang started, "Let's just say I'd be surprised if any of them were actually here. Too stuck up, except for a few."

"Yeah, man," Adonis added, "Hey have you seen...?"

There was a loud bang by the front door, where Rudy was tossed back. Emerging from the dark staircase was another costumed character. Young, that was assumed, and probably who Adonis was just asking about.
Red X.

His tattered cape billowed behind him and the X's on his suit gleamed. You could tell by his eyes that he was smiling, glad to be the center of attention here. Raven and Beast Boy both watched him walk in. Beast Boy was brought back to circumstances when the song ended and he had to pick out a new one from a new playlist.

Raven turned back when Adonis added, "Never mind."

She sneaked a glance at Red X. She was surprised. Red X seemed like a bit of a loner. And with all that he had done to help the Titans, she didn't understand why he was here and not being killed at the moment. Then again, by the way he slammed the door down, it seemed like no one really wanted to bother with him anyway. He wasn't going to turn them all in after all. She turned back at Kitten's remark.

"Isn't he hott?" Kitten asked, clasping her hands together.

"Hey, I'm your boyfriend!" Fang yelled.

"Shut up, Fang!" Kitten screamed back.

"Yes, Ma'am," Fang answered. Yeah, it was about time to break up.

"Aw, come on, Kitten, not like he's gonna actually want to date you," Angel told her.

"Ha! It would be a miracle if she and Fang stayed together for the rest of the night!" Johnny exclaimed, jokingly in a pompous manner.

"Oh! He's coming over here! He's coming over here! How do I look?" Kitten exclaimed.

"Like Fang's girlfriend," Adonis answered.

"Hey," Raven jumped and turned to find Red X behind her.

"You're new," He said, his voice smooth and rough at the same time.

"I'm Pain's Adanna, or Adanna, from Steel," Raven told him.

"What are you doing all the way over here?" He asked.

"Thought I'd take a vacation?" Raven answered, in question.

"Cool, want to dance?" He asked.

Raven's eyes enlarged and it wasn't until Robin nearly shouted in her ear, "Say 'yes'! Raven, say 'yes'!"

"Uh, sure," Raven answered, getting up and taking Red X's hand out to the dance floor.

Kitten fumed at the table, "Can't believe Andy would do that."

"Kitten," Angel said.


"First off, her name is Adanna and second, shut it, before I make it necessary for you to get plastic surgery," the HIVE graduate told her.

Kitten kept her mouth shut for a while after that. Not that that really helped Raven at all. She sneaked a glance at Beast Boy who had seen the two crossing the dance floor and had just put on Lifehouse's "First Time", now an obviously unsure look on his face. Raven apparently didn't like that though. She didn't know where anyone was in their own little minds, thinking she enjoyed this or was in some kind of constant fatal danger. In reality, she hated this and she hated people forgetting who she was and what she could do. The two got onto the dance floor, but didn't move for a moment.

"You know how to dance?" Red X asked.

"Yes, do you?" She asked back, seeing as he wasn't dancing either.

"Point taken," Red X remarked.

He started and Raven watched. No, she didn't often dance. So she didn't exactly know how to dance. Red X, to her surprise though, wasn't that bad at dancing. Far from being Control Freak, he didn't dance in a ridiculous manner, but he had a sense of rhythm. And that sense of rhythm, plus his own abilities as fighting expert, gave him a smooth and cool dance method. And she had a feeling that he knew how to dance and still look good while doing it.

"You don't know how to dance," He said.

"Yes I do," Raven answered, recognizing that she hadn't been dancing.

"Just listen, find the rhythm, the beat in the song," Red X told her, stopping, and starting slowly for her to see how he found it.

She tapped her foot and shook her head, "This was a bad idea."

Red X looked at her closely and responded, "Just, you know, find the center, the feeling. You can do that right?"

Raven's eyes opened wide for a brief second, but she nodded. Center, feeling. That was just coincidence, right? Didn't matter, she had to dance before he started thinking something was really wrong with her. Raven nodded her head and started to move her body when she heard the down beat. Red X's mask concealed his face, but through his eyes, she guessed that he 'approved' or something along those lines.

"You look tense," He told her.

"Do I?" She asked.

"Loosen up, it's easier," Red X said.

Raven rolled her eyes and as she attempting to follow his instructions answered, "Easy for you to say. Remember I create nightmares?"

"You're no nightmare," He answered.

'Oh please don't be hitting on me,' Raven thought. However, she couldn't have been farther from the truth. She slowly began to get the hang of it. Beast Boy watched, Red X warning signs going off in his head. If there was ever one more sneaky and sly than him it would have to be Robin or Terra... 'Don't think about her right now.' At least no one like Brother Blood or Slade was here. Now that would be bad. Raven continued dancing, talking when she could, but considering that she was having a hard enough time just keeping her dancing from looking weird, talking took to the backseat.

Beast Boy's attention was entirely focused on Raven and Red X until the music changed on the playlist to a slow mellow song. That equaled a slow dance. Beast Boy ran over to the lap top and debated. Was this a good or bad time for a slow dance? But he hesitated, so by all means, it had to be a good time because if he changed it, he was sure he'd get a black eye.

Raven glanced up with a glare and Beast Boy hid behind the tables. Red X held out a hand to her and she reluctantly took it. Out of harms way again, Beast Boy peaked above and saw Rudy looking at him confused. Smiling and laughing awkwardly, Beast Boy stood up and began to do his job again. Holding a headphone up to the ear without the Com-link in it, he listened to the music trying to keep a cool head. Raven was doing a better job at it than he was. Except for a couple things here and there, she was really quite good at this.

"So, Adanna," Red X started, "How do like Jump?"

"Same as anything else, I guess," Raven answered.

"I like your name," He told her.

"Thanks," She answered without emotion, "You know, I've heard things about you."

"Really?" He answered, amused, "And what have you heard?"

"You're on top of things, got an eye and an ear open all the time," Raven answered.

Red X looked down to the side, "Well, you gotta around here. I just tend to do a better job than most people."

"I'll bet, you stole that suit, didn't you?" She asked.

"And I openly admit it," Red X told her, bragging.

"How'd you learn to use it?"

"I know some people. Besides, the fact that Xenothium powered it was a given once I got the suit," He told her.

But his movement slowed to a halt for a second as he looked at her. Then he continued.

"And what about you?" He asked, "How did such a hott chick like you get such a power?"

"Born with it."

"What about the name?"


It was Raven's turn to pause. This made her nervous. Beast Boy froze too, seeing what Raven was doing.

"Pain's Adanna? How did you end up choosing that?" Red X asked again.


"It doesn't suit you," Red X told her and they continued to dance.

Raven's heart beat slowed a bit. Nothing dangerous yet, right?

"Then what do you think works?" She inquired.

"Nightmares, nightmares... How about? Shadow's Sleeve, or Dream's Enemy, or..." He leaned in and whispered, "Trigon's Daughter?"

Raven's eyes widened and she moved to back away, but he grabbed her arm and quickly told her, "Calm down, I'm not going to do anything."

Raven looked at him and then at Beast Boy. Red X glanced up, "Oh, this is too good."

"Let go," It wasn't a request, it was a warning.

"Chill out, Adanna. I'm guessing for the sake of you and our DJ friend, Greg, you should hear me out," Red X told her; Raven didn't even bother trying to figure out how he knew Beast Boy's code name.

"What do you want?" She asked, angrily.

"I want to know why you're here," He told her.

Raven sighed and heard in her ear Robin tell her, "Just tell him, Raven, we'll be there in five minutes to stake out the site just in case."

"Have you heard anything?" She asked.

"I've heard a lot of things. What are you looking for in particular?" He asked.

Raven looked around, realizing that this wasn't the best place to talk and pulled him off to the side near where Beast Boy was DJing away from the speakers, "You know all of those robberies lately?"

"Like Blackfire and Cheshire?" He asked.

"Yeah," She answered, "Mad Mod and the HIVE Five were also part of it. We doesn't think that it was coincidence. He thinks someone's hiring these people and doesn't particular care if these robberies are discovered, but it seems preferred if they are not. Have you heard anything?"

Red X looked across the dance floor and around, as though trying to make sure no one saw them, "I've heard some things, from Blackfire. She said that she wanted help to do this job. I said no because it was so stupid and risky. But she didn't care because she knew she'd get to fight Starfire, which, as you can probably imagine better than I can, was going to be for payback. So she went off and got Cheshire to do it instead."

"Why did she want to in the first place?" Raven questioned.

"Other than taking a shot at beating Starfire to a pulp?" Red X asked.

Raven's eyes flashed black and suddenly Red X found his throat constricting, "Answer the question."

She released him and he rubbed his neck, "Alright, sorry, didn't know you had a temper."

"I don't."

Red X raised a brow and continued anyway, "Someone was paying her. Promised an 'early bail' if she got caught. I'm guessing they were the same people who hired the others out too."

"Do you have any other information?" Raven asked.

Red X thought for a moment and answered, "These people, whoever they are, they're not kidding around. They had contracts and everything, like a Black Market, but not. It didn't seem like there were a lot of people behind it. Blackfire said she'd make bail soon, like really soon, but she hasn't. And I haven't heard anything to suggest that she would. That can only mean that..."

"She messed up," Raven filled in remembering Blackfire's comment about everything being ruined over something small.

"Exactly. They mean business. They're smart. But I don't think they're operating around here. Another city..." Red X told her.

"Which city?"

Off in the corner, Kitten was fuming. She glared at Red X and Amanda in envy. She could just imagine. They were going steady now. He had actually revealed his face to her. HER! The girl from Steel! What a loser. The mask must make him blind. Now they were probably kissing and planning on running away from here to move to Metropolis or some other gold mine. Well that was that. She'd had enough of it.

"Um, I've got to use the bathroom," She told the others, but no one really paid her any attention.

Kitten walked over, looking around for someone big, ugly, and stupid. She found her match in Plasmus. Time to put on a show.

"Oh my! I can't believe what he did to me!" She cried out, bringing on the fake tears.

Plasmus turned and looked at her, glurbbering out some nonsense that somehow, everyone can understand.

"He, he, he left me for that new girl, Alexandra!" Kitten cried, the tears fake as ever, but real to the oaf in front of her.

Plasmus once again glubbed out a question and Kitten answered, "Him! Red X! Oh, he's so cruel to me!"

Plasmus's eyes raised slightly and he looked at her in question. Kitten's fake tears stopped and she yelled, "Fang and I are taking a break! I still can not believe him. The nerve! I'd kiss whoever gave him what he deserved."

Plasmus thought for a moment. He didn't want Kitten to kiss him, but maybe she wouldn't think him as much as an oaf anymore. Picking up a table and chair, Plasmus made his way over to the corner where Raven and Red X were.

"I don't remember," Red X told her. Plasmus got closer.

"Think!" She replied.

"What I am getting out of this?" Red X suddenly asked. Another step.

Raven glared at him, "You don't get to meet Trigon."

One more inch. Red X fumed for a moment and then his eyes began to widen, "They were operating out of..."

Plasmus came close enough. Beast Boy caught sight of Plasmus and yelled, "Adanna!"

He threw the tables and Raven instinctively threw up her hand, catching the table and chair in a telepathic grip. Everyone looked over. Kitten's glee was inexpressible. Everyone saw. Rudy looked over at Beast Boy. Everyone was silent. A Teen Titan. Two Teen Titans. It was Red X who was the first to react.


"Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" Raven yelled.

It was a disaster. Beast Boy transformed into a lion and began to swipe at anyone. Red X leaped away from the two Titans. His information, gone. Several of the brutes had gone first, but that had been easy. Now they had to deal with the hard stuff. The people who actually knew what they were doing. And all the while, someone was watching what would be the end of Zenith's Fire.

"Beast Boy, we have to get to the door!" Raven yelled after him.

After transforming back from a T-Rex, Beast Boy answered, "Ya think?"

Outside, Robin heard the fight break out. Starfire looked at him as Cyborg asked, "What's going on?"

"They got caught," Robin told him.

"Then let's go in there and kick some butt!" Cyborg yelled.

"No! Wait, the door, break down the door! Don't go in!" Robin ordered, "Starfire, I want you to search from the sky. We've still got questions for X. Cyborg, you and I will lure some of them outside. Titans, Go!"

And so the battle began. Raven was pushing her way forward when she saw masses of villains exiting. Beast Boy was flying above, trying to get rid of those firing on the rafters. Finally he fell to the ground and slithered as snake to the bar, for a safe haven. He took a breath, but felt someone cover his mouth.

"It's Gotham. They're operating out of Gotham," Red X's voice came.

He let go and was gone. Beast Boy's first thought was 'What is that guy's problem?' But he was brought back to the here and now when Raven was tossed back into the glass case in front of him.

"Raven, are you..."

She grabbed his wrist and closed her eyes. He felt a weird sensation and everything went black. Then he was outside in an ally way. Raven's eyes fluttered and shut as she reached up for her head. Beast Boy could still hear commotion near by and he hoped that wherever Raven had sent them, they were in no way going to be found. Then he heard a crackle. Scrunching up his face, he turned around to see Overload standing behind him. Then, by some miracle, he heard a barrage of starbolts being fired. Looking above him, he saw Starfire flying above them and hitting Overload with all of her fire power. Soon Overload got tired of it and retreated.

Starfire landed beside the two Titans and said, "Are you both unharmed?"

Beast Boy stood up, slinging Raven's arm over his shoulder to help her stand, "Raven's not. Can you?"

Starfire nodded and took over. Robin and Cyborg came around the corner, Robin on the R-Cycle and Cyborg in the T-Car. Starfire brought Raven over to the car and Beast Boy went inside the car as well. The noises got louder. It took mere moments though for the Titans to get miles away from Zenith's Fire and they soon skidded to a halt inside Titans Tower. Robin barely remember to take off his helmet as he ran up to the control room. With an outbreak like that...

He checked the city scanner. Clear. Finally, Robin was able to breath a sigh of relief. They must have scattered silently to keep themselves from being caught. The others came in, Cyborg carrying Raven, who was still too weak to walk. Starfire flew in with Beast Boy moments later.

"Is everything alright? We didn't leave a mess, did we?" Cyborg asked.

"No, thankfully, but I have a feeling that we won't have a chance at going back," Robin said with a sigh.

They were all quiet for a moment as Robin rubbed his head with a sigh. Beast Boy was the first to break up the silence, "Robin?"

Robin looked over at him, ready with his answer, but it was Beast Boy who spoke first, "Red X, he ambushed me in the middle of the fight. He said that, he said that whoever was hiring people, they're operating out of Gotham."

Everyone's brows raised except for Robin, who instead, had on his mask. And his mask didn't show emotion this time. But underneath, Robin felt a knot creating itself in his stomach. On the other hand, he also was starting to take in this information on a tactical hand.

"Gotham..." He whispered.

Turning back to the computer, he pulled up on the large screen above the objects stolen. Clicking on the chemicals, the information appeared revealing that the stolen chemical was called Hexane.

"Oh man. Guys listen, Gotham's been suffering from a serial killer on the loose," He told his friends, who, save for Raven, had been unaware of news on the East Coast since none of them read the Daily Planet.

Still, none of them knew quite understood what Robin was getting at, "This killer has had a... fixation with using fire, along with other things."

"Fire?" Cyborg asked, "What are you getting at?"

Robin typed on the computer and enlarged the newly found information to reveal on an atomic level, the chemical that was stolen, "I was too wrapped up in this infiltration tonight to think twice about the chemicals they actually stole. It's called 'Hexane' and it's main use is to create cooking oil from vegetables and seeds. But it has another use. It's flash point is..."

"Negative twenty three point three degrees Celsius or seven degrees Fahrenheit," Starfire finished, her eyes suddenly wide in the same realization that Robin had just made.

"Exactly, making it extremely flammable," Robin concluded.

"Oh man, you mean that it's that some arsonist murderer out in Gotham is the one who's been hiring all of these people to steal stuff for him?" Cyborg asked.

"It makes sense though," Raven interrupted, "Think about it. If you can just order your supplies and ship them under false names, then there's less evidence to pin down a suspect."

"Dude, I don't think that helps figuring out who our bad guy is," Beast Boy said, in a surprisingly gloomy matter.

The five were quiet until Robin spoke up, "Maybe not, but it gives us a lead."

"What lead?" Cyborg asked, "It's not like Red X gave us a name."

"He didn't need to. We know their style. We know where they're located," Robin said.

"So what?" Beast Boy asked.

"Yeah, Gotham 's way over there and we're right here," Cyborg said his hand motions going everywhere at once, "And what happens if they start 'ordering' a lot of stuff. They could get it from anywhere and it's still Gotham 's problem. This guy, whoever he is, is insane."

Robin put a hand up to his head and didn't respond. He knew what this revelation meant. He knew what they would have to do. What he had to do. He knew what he didn't want them to do. The others all had some idea as to what Robin was thinking about. And they all felt awkward about it, knowing that Robin in no way really liked Gotham . So when Robin finally stood up and turned his back to them to face the screen and give them orders, they were all ready, but still off guard for his instructions.

"I'm going to Gotham ," He said.

Starfire was the first to go up to him immediately and tell him, "Robin, why do we not all go? You do not have to go alone."

He turned to her and then back to the others when Beast Boy added, "Yeah, man, we're up for it."

"I'm not though," Robin told them.

It was true. Robin didn't want his team coming there. Not now. The timing just wasn't right. He'd see all of their faults. He'd remark how they weren't like the JLA or the JSA or how they were just a bunch of kids or how they argued. He'd see the kind of imperfect job that he was doing as a leader.

Come to think of it, he didn't want to go there anyway himself. Up for evaluation again. It would be an outright confrontation to something that he felt that he could never live up too. And he could already hear the corrections on how to do this or how to do that. He could feel the humiliated blush already threatening to come to his cheeks. And worse yet, the knot in his stomach was growing, dread, worry, a nervous butterfly. But he wasn't about to tell his friends that.

"You need to stay here. Like Cyborg said, Jump still needs protection," Robin told them, "And I know Gotham , inside and out. I can go in and get out faster than any of us. If you go with me, it will only slow us down. I'll go call and say that I'm coming and then I'll call the police department about Zenith's so we can shut it down before I go. It'll be a piece of cake. Alright?"

None of them seemed reassured, but this really wasn't open for discussion, "Cyborg, you're in charge, alright?"

"No man, come on, let's just all go," Cyborg said.

"Guys," Robin sighed and continued, "I'm not arguing about this. I promise, it'll just be a quick visit like a couple weeks ago, okay?"

They all looked at their shoes and muttered, "Sure, yeah, alright."

"I'm leaving tomorrow," The Titan told his teammates, "The sooner I get going, the sooner it gets done."

They all looked up sadly as Robin walked up the stairs and left the room. Glancing at each other, the Titans all knew that they really didn't know what they wanted to do or could say. Robin's word was almost always final. And this time was one of those times. Then there was that feeling where they all wanted to say something, but wouldn't. Starfire was the first to not put up with it.

"He can not go," Starfire stated, "He does not want to. Surely friends that you see this?"

"What can we do, Star?" Raven asked, in a gloomy tone as always, but even more so after the disaster at Zenith's.

Starfire's shoulders scrunched up while her nose wrinkled up and she flew off in the direction that Robin had headed. She flew down the corridors. It was deserted, not that she expected otherwise. Then, she heard Robin talking, most likely on the phone to someone.

"Thanks Alfred, I appreciate it, considering that it's such short notice... No don't bother telling him. He'll probably figure it out anyway... Alright, fine... Thanks again... Bye," He ended.

She knocked on his door and then heard him walk over. Upon seeing her, Robin gave a half-hearted smile, stepped aside and let her come in, closing the door behind her.

"Yeah, Star?" He asked, "Are you alright?"

Starfire held her arm, like it had been hurt, but only because she could think of nothing else to do with herself. How could she possibly argue with him? Now that she was here, it was hard to think logically. She wanted to, but at the same time, she knew that he would win. But this just worried her, made her concerned.

"Robin, I..." She started, finally looking at him, "I do not want you to go."

Robin looked off to the side and then back at her, "Star, you know that I have to..."

"I know that. It does not mean that I must like it," She answered.

Robin walked forward and put a hand on her shoulder, "Hey, it's not like I'm going to be gone forever. Just a week or two. Maybe less."

"But maybe more," Starfire added, knowing as well as he did that he had no answer for how long his stay would be, "And you do not like Gotham . You barely ever talk about it. And the look on your face when it is brought up... I do not know why, but I know that you do not want to go."

"That's 'cause I'd rather be here with you guys, but Starfire…" He looked her in the eye, "I promise, I'll be okay."

She looked back up at him, "You promise?"

"Yeah," He answered, "I promise."

He pulled her in close for a warm hug and she could smell the gel in his hair and the cologne he was wearing. On the flip side, he could smell the jasmine shampoo that she had used that morning and the sweet smell of raspberries and coconuts that made up her lotion. As she stood there, Starfire could feel his heart beat, calm and smooth. There was this reassurance she got from it. What he said... She knew that, with total confidence in him, he'd use all of his abilities to keep that promise because it was for her.

"I... I will miss you," She said.

"I'll miss you too," He said, "I'll be back before you know it."

Leaving, it was the last thing that he wanted to do right now. Just the last thing. He could feel a warmth coming from her, but it burned within him as he held her close. It was recognizable, but at the same time, new, exciting, and wonderful. He sneaked a glance at her face, her sweet and amazing face. She was looking behind him and didn't notice. He rested his chin on her shoulder, fighting to keep his face straight and not becoming something, what was the word, weak? Emotional. That was it.

There was just this feeling that was so soft and quiet that he felt eating him up inside. It came from the thought of leaving... But he'd be back, right? This was just because he wanted to stay and he didn't really want to go to Gotham because of Bruce, right? He couldn't answer that question, so he just let it go so that he could live in the moment.

The two Titans stayed in each others' arms for a couple minutes, neither speaking, neither daring to end the peaceful feeling that they were having together. Early tomorrow morning, Robin would leave to fly and across the country over to a dark city on the East Coast hundreds of miles away. But that was tomorrow and this was now. And at that moment, now was all that mattered.

End of Part Two



The Alien Powerhouse of the Teen Titans, Starfire is an extraterrestrial from the planet Tamaran, a far off planet in the Vegan Star system. Starfire arrived on Earth after escaping from the Gordanians who held her captive. Upon arriving, she joined her new found friends in forming the Teen Titans. Though seemingly innocent and a bit unsure of the new culture she finds herself living in, Starfire packs a punch when it comes to protecting her friends, often sacrificing her own feelings, desires, and safety for them. Despite her fierce strength and ability to fight, Starfire has a heart of gold and is extremely kind and considerate of those around her. 

Since her first encounter with Robin, she has had a crush on him, however their friendship has grown to be on a much deeper level since they became members of the Titans together and they are quiet literally one another's best friend. When it comes to being there for him and others, Starfire always follows her heart and does whatever she can to be there for them, no matter what.


Starfire remains fairly similar to her cartoon counter part in "Custody". Her past is in keeping with the cartoon's history, both in her first appearance on Earth and the formation of the Titans as well as subsequent events after. 

The primary element added to or perhaps enhanced from the original comic book counter part to her portrayal in "Custody" is her own determination and independence. While in the cartoon, this is touched upon and shown in various episodes, it never seemed to get enough of a 'push' so to speak, perhaps since her overarching conflict was over the course of several seasons rather than one. So in "Custody",  while she is a sweet and caring person, she is also clearly highly capable of kicking some serious butt. Furthermore, even though she often listens to Robin and respects him, when she sees that a situation feels wrong or doesn't add up, she acts on her best judgement in conjunction with that of his and others'. 

Personality and Relationships

Starfire is the youngest daughter of her parents and second in line for the Tamaranian throne. Despite her status as a 'princess', Starfire thinks of the title as more of a means of loyalty and duty, rather than a way to get any special privilege (it is only by chance that her friends even learn of her royal status). She is light hearted and genuinely loves discovering new things and experiencing all that life has to offer.  Starfire is not without siblings, the oldest of which is her sister Blackfire, who has a criminal record through out the universe, more similar to her cartoon counterpart. While in the comics, it is confirmed that Starfire has a younger brother, no mention of him is made in "Custody". 

Within the Titans, Starfire is closest with Raven and Robin. Originally created as a foil to Raven by their creators Marv Wolfman and George Perez, the two are quiet different, but are able to learn a lot from one another, especially as both of their powers are fueled by their emotions. Raven teaches Starfire to control her emotions whereas Starfire allows Raven to more fully understand the importance of them, an ability that they both find to be extremely useful both in combat as well as in daily life.

Though upon first meeting, Robin and Starfire initially confused and befuddled one another, Starfire quickly began to see admirable qualities in Robin, such as his intelligence, combat capabilities, and leadership skills. However, it was his compassion and ability to care for those around him, his patience, and his sincerity which won over her heart. She remains unsure as to how Robin really feels for her, particularly considering how he tends to cut others off, similar to his mentor. However, she stands by him and the rest of her friends, always willing to be there for them when they are in need.

Personal Thoughts

I can't express how much I love Starfire's character. I think she's vastly underrated and often times reduced to nothing more than eye-candy, which infuriates me on occasion. Starfire's ability to love despite being hurt as well as her ability to distinguish and stick to the line between right and wrong are incredibly empowering, as that is something I think we all struggle with. Furthermore, I greatly enjoy the fact that she's fine with being emotional and true to herself. She cries when she's upset. She yells when she's angry. She dances (or flies) when she's happy. I could go on, but I think the point is made. She's very in tune with herself, which also presents its own challenges, particularly when she is emotionally not in the best place. In the comics and now the DC Animated Movie Universe, I admire her for her leadership skills as well, which unlike most leaders out there, is graced with kindness and respect. In a sense, it's very regal, but the best part is that when it comes from her, it's genuine. 

Needless to say, I'm also a serious RobXStar shipper on the worst level. XD Pretty much shipped them before I knew what shipping was. My reasons for that go on and on, but I think it goes back to a few things in particular. I think they respect one another. I think she encourages him to be true to himself in spite of his fears and I think his patience and willingness to show her new things allows her to see things in ways she wouldn't have before. And I think that in the end, they both care about each other as soul mates do. They rely on one another. They trust one another. They're there for one another. And they're willing to do whatever it takes for the other to be happy and safe. So hopefully in regards to their relationship, I was able to write that and convey that in "Custody" as well as incorporate Starfire's strength, perseverance, humility, and kindness into her character as a whole so that readers may enjoy her as much as I enjoy do. :)



"Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible..."

The Caped Crusader and self-proclaimed protector of Gotham City, a superhero most heroes are afraid of, Batman's journey to becoming the Dark Knight started out when he was just eight years old when he witnessed his parents murdered in front of him. That night, a young Bruce Wayne promised to rid the city of the evil that had taken their lives. Sculpting, training, studying, and traveling the globe to become the world's greatest detective and a master of martial artists, Bruce Wayne soon returned to Gotham with the intent to fulfill his promise. Knowing that theatrics and deception would give him an edge, Wayne decided to take on the theatrical form of a bat, a creature which terrified him as a child.

While Wayne now knows that the very thing that terrified him as a child now terrifies the criminals of Gotham City, at his core, Bruce's goal remains the same, not simply because he sees it as justice, but so that no one ever again has to live the horror that he did on that one cold night.


As Batman never appeared in the Teen Titans cartoon, Batman's history and personality primarily stem from his comic book appearances and continuity. Having grown up with the goal to rid Gotham City's streets of evil after the deaths of his parents, Bruce Wayne traveled the world learning from the best of the best in all fields ranging from criminal psychology, martial arts, warfare, economics, and so on. Upon his return to Gotham City and taking on the mantel of Batman, Bruce Wayne worked alone for the first few years of his crusade until one night, he went to a circus performance.

There, he saw the same sight unfold as it did to him all of those years ago. But this time, to a young acrobat named Richard "Dick" Grayson. Feeling a kinship with the young boy, Wayne decided to offer to provide Grayson with a home as his new legal guardian. However, with Wayne's midnight escapades, it wasn't long before Dick realized that he wasn't really in the home of the "womanizing millionaire Bruce Wayne", but the attic of the terrifying "Batman".

Recognizing a desire in Grayson to protect others from harm, similar again to his own, Batman agreed to train the young boy, who soon became "Robin, the Boy Wonder", the first ever sidekick to the budding superhero pantheon of the modern era. However, being the first also came with unforeseen consequences. Upon the Boy Wonder's debut, he became a target of criminals upon which to inflict pain. This became no more apparent when former District Attorney Harvey Dent, now known as Two Face, beat Robin nearly to death with a baseball bat in front of Batman, only stopping upon Batman freeing himself from his confines and stopping Two Face by force.

Though the incident didn't seem to faze young Dick Grayson, Wayne briefly forbade his ward from continuing on as his sidekick, questioning his judgement in letting a young boy out on the streets of Gotham. Upon seeing Grayson's determination to continue to fight crime regardless of having his guardian's approval, Wayne relented on the condition that rules were always to be followed out on the field.

With time, the Dynamic Duo became an unstoppable force in Gotham, however, Batman continued to be strict on keeping to rules while out at night in order to guard Robin from danger, even when Robin became capable of handling more than he was currently allowed to do. This led to the fracture of their partnership, with Robin going off to pursue work with the Teen Titans in Jump City. Since then, Batman has worked alone and whenever Robin has returned, it's almost always been because of extenuating circumstances.

Personality and Relationships:

Smart, methodical, strategic, strong, Bruce normally comes across as quiet and unsociable, even terrifying to those who are unfamiliar with him (and even to those who are). Really, he comes off as uptight, fierce, and downright scary at times. In some ways, the fear he strikes into the hearts of criminals comes from a very basic, core part of his personality, a controlled anger and rage at those who would dare to hurt another human being.

While Bruce Wayne has no superpowers in the traditional sense, one might say that his determination boarders on the supernatural level as it has allowed him to become the formidable force known as Batman. Unyieldingly stubborn and strong willed, these are both some of his greatest strengths as well as his greatest weaknesses.

Since the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne's ultimate goal has been to prevent such a thing from ever happening to another person again. In his pursuit of this goal, he began to cut himself off from having any real relationship with another person on the basis that it could put their lives at risk. The first primary exception to this would be the family butler, Alfred, who assisted in raising Bruce since he was young. Alfred would often note that as Bruce continued his crusade, he continued to also become 'wrapped inside this monster' which he felt was consuming Bruce's identity as it seemed that Bruce would at times, perhaps wish to discard the identity of "Bruce Wayne" for that of "Batman". Indeed, this would become something of a struggle for Bruce over the years to come.

The prevention of such a transformation occurred however with the entry of the second person Bruce Wayne allowed into his life, Dick Grayson, who, while he became Robin, clearly saw a distinguishment between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batman was his mentor. Bruce Wayne was his surrogate father, though he never said it out loud. Alfred would see this as the ultimate reason why Bruce would never fall into the identity of Batman completely, because Bruce Wayne was still needed by someone aside from himself, and maybe, perhaps, despite his determination to remain cut off from others, Bruce saw Dick Grayson as a son too. Soon, other people entered Wayne's life, such as Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl (currently in "Custody" on college leave), Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, and even the likes of Clark Kent aka the Man of Steel, Superman himself.

Despite the good these few relationships do, Bruce continues to see relationships as a weakness. As such, his worry over others' safety manifests itself in a strict set of guidelines he enforces on those around him, particularly those under his care. Ultimately, even in the face of all of the knowledge, skills, and triumphs Bruce has, he still fears the same tragedy will befall him and those around him once again and he will be powerless in preventing it from occurring.

Personal Thoughts:

I find Batman to be a very intriguing character. As Batman is such an iconic character in American Culture, I am sure that some of my thoughts may or may not line up with the perspectives that the writers or fellow fans may have. So please take this all with a grain of salt if it so happens that my views do not align completely with others'. That being said, hopefully we agree on some things. :)

I feel that Bruce Wayne is very much one person who is split between two identities and a man still wrestling with an injustice that will likely never be resolved. On the one hand, he has the identity of Bruce Wayne, a fake-y socialite whose image is forever stained with the worst night of his life, that of the death of his mother and father. On the other hand, he also assumes the identity of Batman, a cold, unyielding, and unstoppable force that can extract vengeance and justice upon those that do wrong. I think he's very aware of how easy it would be to throw off the persona of Bruce Wayne in favor of that of Batman and at times, I think he considers it.

That is not to say that I don't see him as a strong character. Rather, I see him as an incredibly strong willed person who is able to overcome his own struggles, heartaches, and pains for the sake of others, an admirable quality at the very least. I think part of his strength to not only fight the demons of Gotham, but also his own demons though comes from his acceptance that he cares about others, not just those in the "Batfam", but those all around him. He knows that at the end of the day, he's doing this for other people.

Finally, since this is a 'father-son' story, I'll say a bit about my thoughts on Batman and his sidekick, Robin. I find Robin to be a unique aspect of the Batman mythology, if for the sole reason that I think without him, Batman's popularity wouldn't have remained. Batman himself is a great character, but Robin allowed for readers to get to know Batman not just as an observer, but as someone right in the middle of the action. (Honestly, I really wish that there would be a "Robin" Origin story movie for Batman just for that very reason. I think it would be way different than anything previously done with the character on the big screen before and thus, would be a refreshing new take on an already very well known character).

Furthermore, I think adding Robin into Batman's story rounded him out. It made him more relatable. Because suddenly, he had a family and we all wanted to see what would happen this time around. Dick's contrasting personality in comparison to Bruce's also allowed for the hope of Bruce's crusade to flourish. Just imagine, night after night, doing the same thing and nothing ever changing. How futile would it seem? But then to have someone there, who believed in you, looked up to you, relied on you, and smiled for you, just think how that would change everything. It probably wouldn't seem so hopeless, would it? That's why I think Bruce, underneath it all, relies on Dick much more than he lets on. So it's no wonder that he would be strict with him. He doesn't want anything bad to happen to Dick because of him as Robin provides him with hope and humanity. With Robin around, Batman becomes not just some crazy vigilante jumping off rooftops. He becomes a father, which is perhaps the most central aspect of who he is as a pivotal character in the DC Comics Universe.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chapter Seven: Interrogations and Information

Chapter Seven: Interrogations and Information

"You scuz-munching creeps! Take that!"

"Ah! My baby!"

"Azarath Metrion Zinthos!"

"Kyd Wykkyd, are you okay?"


"Cyborg, forget the car!"

"Billy, what'd ya do that for?"

"Nawt my fault, Billy."

Chaos was a good way to describe downtown Jump right now. With the Hive Five running around and the Titans each tackling a new opponent every five minutes, there was no telling who was winning or losing. The only thing that all of the Titans were sure about was that they all wanted to hit Gizmo. Raven had changed from facing the Kyd Wykkyd to helping Beast Boy with the Billies. Robin was fighting Gizmo while Cyborg took on See-More. Starfire, meanwhile, dealt with Mammoth, which was turning out to be a sorry sight.

"Here I am."

"No, here I am."

"Oh you forgot about me, Billy!"

Raven looked at the multiple Billies in disgust, "No matter how many times he duplicates himself, he'll never be able to improve himself."

"Raven, how many times has he multiplied? I've lost count," Beast Boy asked, after being thrown across the street and changing back from a tiger.

He had been attempting to keep Billy Numerous from leaving the area, but had failed when Billy had literally come up behind him to move BB out of his way.

Billy began to surround them as Raven answered, "In my opinion, there's too many for my liking."

Meanwhile, See-More taunted Cyborg as he floated above him, "Sorry 'bout the car, man. It was just too pretty to not look at."

"Oh you'll be really sorry in a minute," Cyborg told him.

With a yell, he blasted See-More's balloon eye out of the sky. See-More landed on the ground only to have Mammoth fall on top of him after being thrown down to the ground by Starfire who was smiling above their heads.

"Told ya, you'd be sorry," Cyborg said with a smirk, "And now for Gizmo."

With her opponent down for the count, Starfire took the opportunity to take out Kyd Wykkyd, "I do not wish to fight you."

"Trust me, neither do I," Kyd Wykkyd replied, as though thoroughly bored, "Doesn't mean I won't, though."

He started to disappear into a hole in his cape, but Starfire, not exactly willing to have her opponent just walk out on her, grabbed his shoe and pulled him out and threw him into the air. Kyd Wykkyd looked down only to see Starfire coming up with a starbolt in her hand.

"Crud," he muttered, before receiving a pounding headache and passing out on top of the pile of the Hive Five that was quickly filling up.

Before going off to help Raven and Beast Boy with the Billies, Starfire finished by saying, "You have brought this upon yourself."

"You nose pickin' snot brain, I'd like to see you try to get me!" Gizmo yelled at Robin and Cyborg, while flying circles around them. He was supposed to be leading them since he was the smartest of the group.

"Who are you callin' a nose picker?" Cyborg yelled, shooting out his hand to grab on to Gizmo, effectively keeping the little rascal distracted for a brief moment.

Robin used the opportunity to yell orders to the others, "Don't let him get away! Surround him!"

Raven nodded and began to create a wall surrounding Billy Numerous while Beast Boy and Starfire teamed up to just plain start knocking out all of the Billies to keep him from re-multiplying. Finally, Gizmo got rid of Cyborg's hand and was once again taunting the two Titans.

"Is this the best you got?" Gizmo asked, laughing.

"You're one to talk," Robin remarked, "Unless you didn't notice, you're losing."

"Maybe that doesn't matter to me," Gizmo told him, "By the way, how much goop did you put in your hair this morn..."

"Hey Gizzy! Hey Gizzy! I got that thing-a-ma-gig you wanted!" A random Billy that Raven had missed yelled.

Robin's eyes widened for a moment as he saw Billy carrying the most random and most dangerous thing in the world that he could possibly have in his hands. Chemical tanks from P.I.Z.Z.A.?

"You idiot! You weren't supposed to bring it here!"

"I wasn't?"


"Oh," the Billy shrugged, "Sorry."

Robin made a move to focus on Billy, but Gizmo wasn't willing to play nice.

Instantly, he multiplied himself with holographic images to confuse the Titans.

"Billy! Get that and the others out of here! I'll take care of the Titans!" Gizmo yelled.

Acting fast, Billy multiplied and carried off the chemical tanks and the other Hive Five members. Robin and Cyborg fought off the multiple Gizmos hitting each one of them until they disappeared. Finally, just one Gizmo remained. Robin pulled out his bo-staff and pinned Gizmo to the ground.

"You're not doing this for yourself, are you?" Robin asked the kid.

"You'll never know, scuz-muncher," Gizmo answered.

He laughed and then disappeared into oblivion. The other Billies that had been fighting the three Titans vanished as well. They had nothing. Robin was kneeling on the ground, infuriated. The others walked over, unsure as to how to respond to the defeat around him. Robin scrunched up and he let out a yell, slamming his fist into the ground.

"That. Was. Pathetic!"

The others all took a step back as Robin stood up. Nearly all of them looked like they were about ready to hide behind Cyborg. But instead of taking out his anger on them, Robin turned around and stared at the area. It was a littered mess of debris. He let out a sigh.

"That's the third time. This isn't random," he told them, "They don't want what they're stealing. They're stealing this stuff for someone or something else."

"But who would want that junk?" Beast Boy asked.

"Anyone," Robin answered.

His friends looked down. That was the 'we're pathetic because we don't know who's ordering this stuff' answer. Nothing good ever came out of that.

"I want to take the fight to them," Robin said in a low voice.

"What?" Cyborg asked.

Starfire cut in, "But Robin, how will you...?"

"I'm going to the City Jail," Robin told them, "Raven, I want you to call Jinx and Kid Flash. Jinx might be able to help us on this."

Raven nodded slightly, even though she wasn't too sure about this. In fact, they all were a little tentative about it. This spelled 'obsession' for Robin with a capital 'O'.

"Robin," Starfire spoke up, "Why do I not go with you to the jail of the city? Just in the case that I might be of some assistance."

The others nodded in agreement and Robin answered, "Alright. I want Jinx and Kid Flash here at three."

Raven and the boys nodded as they watched Robin and Starfire hop onto the R-Cycle and speed off in the other direction. They looked at each other and sighed.

"He's right, that was kinda pathetic," Cyborg admitted.

"Thanks for the added guilt, Cy," Beast Boy remarked.

"Oh, like you were doing your part?" Raven asked.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Beast Boy asked back.

"You let that Billy get away," Raven answered, "That's what it means."

"We don't even know when that Billy duplicated! It's not always my fault!" Beast Boy argued back.

"Whoa, whoa, guys," Cyborg intervened, "Let's take a chill pill and all go back to the tower, alright?"

Raven glared at Beast Boy for a moment and then walked off. Beast Boy sighed and looked down at his shoes.

"What is with her, Cy?" Cyborg led the way to the dented T-Car and answered,

"Well, you know Ray, she's just who knows, you know?"

"What?" Beast Boy asked.

"Never mind, I guess she just was annoyed. That's all," Cyborg told him, "I mean, your game's kinda been on the down side lately..."

Beast Boy glared at him and Cyborg added, "no offense."

They opened up the doors and Cyborg started the car, "And you know, now Jinx is coming, and they never liked each other anyway so..."

"I'm not trying to mess up, Cy," Beast Boy interrupted, "I'm just sort of sick of being put in the back seat sometimes. And seeing Terra's site tampered with has just, I don't know, made me so mad that I couldn't do anything about it."

Cyborg looked out at the road. He could see that. That was one thing that Terra had been to BB. She hadn't ever put him in the backseat without putting herself there as well. No wonder the green dude was frustrated lately.

Quietly Cyborg answered, "I know, man, I know."

"Do you think Robin and Starfire will get anything out of this?" Beast Boy asked.

"I bet five pizza toppings that they kiss before they get back," Cyborg answered.

"Yeah right, you're on," Beast Boy replied, placing the bet of what pizza topping he would risk losing.

The wind whipped the car as they sped in the opposite direction of the jail where Starfire and Robin had just arrived. It was a cold place and the gray stone was turning black with dirt. Starfire shivered as she followed Robin inside. The guards let them pass and slowly, they made their way down deep into the jailhouse. Starfire would have lighted a starbolt, had they not been told to not take out any weapons unless needed. They made their way to a restricted area where Robin took out a small card and opened up the door. Starfire hesitated, but followed seeing that Robin wasn't about to stop.

Suddenly, she found herself being stared at. Not stared at with affection and gratitude, like normal, but with hate and repulsion. Robin was used to this. The faces were nothing to him as the glow from their cells hit his face. Finally, they ended up next to one cell painted green (to avoid red, white, and blue). Robin looked in to see Mad Mod. The man was walking from the sink inside to his bed. Robin knocked on the glass.

"Mad Mod."

Mod looked up and answered, "What is it that cha want?"

"Are you willing to talk?" Robin asked.

"There's no need for me," The old man grumbled.

Robin looked down and then back at Mod. He was about to continue when he heard a voice on the other side,

"You want to talk, Robin?"

Starfire gasped as she turned to see Blackfire behind her in another cell, one that was white this time. Robin looked over and opened her cell, walking inside. Starfire followed staying behind Robin just because she knew that Blackfire's rage at her could be set off at any moment.

"You and Cheshire, you were working for someone. Who?"

"That would be telling now, wouldn't it?" Blackfire answered back.

"I'm giving you a chance to shorten your time here, but I'm not about to waste my time. So be useful for once," Robin told her.

Blackfire walked up to him. Her hands were in clasped gloves to keep her from igniting Starbolts while her shades had mirrors on the inside to reflect any Starlazers. But she smiled, loving her sister's bewildered look and Robin's handsome face.

"I'm really not at liberty to give you that information, says my lawyer," Blackfire answered, walking up to Robin, "But what's the rush?"

"I've got an appointment," Robin answered.

"Well, if I'm right, I should be at a party, but I'm not. So I'm not really in a rush. What bad timing," Blackfire told him sarcastically.

"Talk, or we leave," Robin growled into her face.

Blackfire closed the gap between them and got into Robin's face, "How about I tell you what I know for one delicious kiss?"

Robin's eyes bulged at Blackfire's statement, but it was Starfire who pushed Blackfire to the ground, her eyes glowing emerald green, "This is not the time or the place for your sick games. Do not try them on my friends."

Blackfire wiped her mouth and stood back up. She was having fun. She liked seeing Starfire's anger. That's why she was doing this. Sure, she thought Robin was hot, but he wasn't her type. He was too much of a boy scout. But if she could get under Starfire's skin by doing something low like that, why not?

Although she backed off for a moment, Blackfire decided to turn back to her sister as she stood up. "How's the Titans, darling?"

Starfire looked at Blackfire, her eyes returning to normal and answered, "We are fine. But please, Blackfire you surely do not wish to stay here any longer than need be?"

"Does it scare you, Starfire, this place?" her sister asked.

Starfire clenched her teeth. The thing about growing up with a sibling is that you know when they're playing games and you know how to win. The hardest part about winning, though, is always defying your instincts because they plan on you to follow them. So Starfire held her ground even though she couldn't withstand the temptation to glare resentfully at Blackfire.

Robin moved between the two and continued, "You've got thirty seconds. Use it."

Blackfire's smile diminished in size slightly, but answered, "I'm feeling generous so I'll tell you this: It's amazing how a simple little error can mess everything else up."

Robin glared at her and then turned while Starfire waited for a moment, "Blackfire?"

Her sister turned to see her, but there was a hatred, a loathing, in her eyes. Starfire backed down and sighed, leaving her sister in her cage. And she soon had a new problem to worry about. Robin was already about fifty feet ahead of her, storming out. She quickly flew ahead to catch up with him.

Hesitantly, she tried to make conversation because his silence was irking her, "Robin, I am sorry that my sister was of no help."

When he didn't respond she asked, "Robin?"

He stopped only to swipe a card to let them out and after he headed straight for his bike.

Worried, Starfire flew in front of him and asked, "Robin, are you okay?"

Robin seemed to have just been in a trance as he finally noticed her, "Huh? Oh, sorry, Star. I'm fine. It's just that was a big waste of time."

Starfire looked at him. He was thinking, seeing if he could get anything out of what Blackfire had said. There had to be something and it was probably right in front of... He felt a dizzy spell come over him and he reached out to Starfire for support who quickly caught him to keep him from falling down. Robin brought his hand to his head in an attempt to keep the world from spinning.

"Robin, why...?" she began, but Robin shook his head and stumbled over to his bike so that he wouldn't have to face her.

She caught his arm and looked at him closely and then realization, mixed with worry, came to her, "You have not been having the sleep."

Robin looked up at her and scoffed, "It's nothing."

"What do you mean that it is nothing?" Starfire asked, concerned, "Have you not had any of the sleep?"

Robin paused before answering, "I think I might've had an hour last night."

Starfire looked at him, astonished and confused, "Why?"

Robin finally slid down against his bike to sit down, the fatigue wearing on him, "I... I wanted to spend more time with you... You and the others."

He added it quickly. But yet, she felt a blush come and leave in seconds.

He continued, "but the work. It's just... It's just gotta be done, Star."

Starfire shook her head. It made sense now. Robin's temper being so short. His eagerness to hang out with them. And yet, he had no longer been getting up to train at five. Instead, he had resorted to training at six. This wasn't right, though, it was... unnecessary.

"But it is not healthy," she told him, kneeling down next to him.

"I can handle it... My mentor does. I can too," Robin answered, leaning his head against the bike.

Starfire had hit a road block and it was a tall one at that, "Robin... That does not mean that you have to. And, I mean no disrespect to your mentor, but he does not... venture into social meetings as often as you do. As Raven said, if this has been bothering you, then let us help you. Please, you need the rest."

Robin sighed, "Starfire... You don't know..."

Robin caught the look Starfire's eyes. What was he about to say? He was so tired he couldn't think straight. Or maybe he was thinking straighter. He couldn't tell what was up or down. He could only tell what felt right. She watched him for the minute of silence. He didn't move, but she could tell that he was thinking. About what? She didn't know. His unpredictability could baffle her sometimes. Slowly, Robin began to smile and with a small laugh, he looked back up at her.

"Huh?" she asked in confusion.

"Why are you always right?" he asked back.

Her sudden confusion melted and in its place came a warm smile. "So you will let us help you?"

Robin nodded. "With what you can, alright."

He was starting to think that he could never say 'no' to her. Starfire smiled, but she smiled trying to hide a hint of doubt. He had said this before. But he had barely ever come through. It was one of his faults. But it was one that she knew came from one of his perfections. The thing about talents is that they each have a curse and a gift. Should the gift out weigh the curse, we put up with it. If not, the talent is disposable. Robin's problem was that both the gift and the curse were so prominent, so equal in importance that there was no healthy way to rid him of the protectiveness inside of him. But he kept promising and that showed that he was trying. And he did come through sometimes. Not all the time, but still, he tried. And right now, that's what was important.

"Do you think that you are able to ride?" she asked.

"I think so. We better get back anyway. Jinx and Wally will be there in fifteen minutes," Robin told her, looking at the clock on his communicator.

Starfire glanced down and saw the clock read 2:50 PM, "But you said to meet at three."

"Yeah, well, Kid Flash is always five minutes late," he explained, "Trust me, its baffled me for years."

His strength regained, Robin hopped onto the bike and Starfire with him. She kept alert though, just in case he had a dizzy spell. But he didn't and they made it back at 3:02. Sure enough the other three were waiting upstairs for their late arrivals. Raven was tapping her foot while Cyborg whistled. Beast Boy was bored already.

"They'll be here in three minutes," Robin called and they all looked up at the two Titans.

"Why is he late?" Cyborg asked.

"That's just how he is, Cy," Robin answered.

"Did you get anything out of Mad Mod or Blackfire?" Raven asked.

"Mad Mod refused to talk and Blackfire just seemed to want attention," Robin told them.

"Isn't that what all girls want? Attention and world domination?" Beast Boy asked.

Raven and Starfire threw him death glares and he quickly added, "Kidding, guys, I mean, girls, I mean, never mind."

Robin shook his head and went up to the mainframe computer. "She wanted attention. But she seemed... annoyed. She was working for someone so that means that she might be under contract to not say some things..."

There was a whoosh of air and suddenly, Kid Flash was standing in the middle of the room, Jinx's windblown self in his arms looking thoroughly ticked.

"Hey Robin!" Kid Flash said immediately, "How's things been?"

"Alright, you're late," Robin stated.

"No I'm not. It's three oh four," Kid Flash told him.

"You were supposed to be here at three," Robin answered.

"Yeah, but I wasn't five minutes late. Come on, you know you were planning on it," Kid Flash replied.

Robin rolled his masked eyes as Jinx finally spoke, "Um, Flash, can you put me down?"

"Oh, sure," Kid Flash answered and, doing as she said, put her down.

"So why'd you call us here?" Kid Flash asked, "You know we were dealing with this big baddy in Central City and..."

"We need to speak to Jinx," Robin told them.

Jinx looked a little startled at first, but it was quickly replaced by hesitancy, "Why?"

The others watched Robin as he motioned her to come forward, "We need information. The Hive Five stole Hexane today which is used for making cooking oil. We're pretty sure it's connected to two previous robberies pulled off by Mad Mod, Cheshire, and Blackfire which means that they most likely were working for someone else. Other than Cheshire and Blackfire, the others don't seem like the type to all collaborate together."

Jinx looked down. She was still new to this hero thing. Kid Flash had brought her to Central City, offered her a lot, and taught her all of these new morals and ethics. But she couldn't deny, it was hard being the one who changed their ways. The threats she received from the opposing side were out of bitter feelings of betrayal. She didn't blame them. She couldn't blame them. But the hardest thing was that she was now, as Robin had put it, 'a source of information'.

"Look, I don't really feel... comfortable doing that," Jinx answered.

Raven stepped in, "Jinx, you can't just..."

"Don't tell me what to do, Witch!" Jinx yelled and the others backed off.

Yeah, she noticed. She noticed Wally's eyes, too. That push, that look. The one that said, 'It's alright if you don't want to, but, you know, it would help if you did'. How she hated how right he was.

Robin stepped in, "Jinx, I'm not asking you to do anything that you don't feel comfortable doing. I'm not asking you to betray your former teammates, your friends."

Jinx looked at him in surprise. He had said that they were still her friends. He was right, "We've all been betrayed here and honestly, I know doing things against your friends hurt. But I promise, if you help us, we'll get them another day for something else. They're not really our target today anyway."

The girl with pink hair smiled, "I can see why you're our leader."

Robin shrugged, "So you'll help us?"

"Well, what do you want me to tell you?" she asked as she noticed Kid Flash walking up behind her.

"Two things. First, who would contract such random people?" Robin asked.

"You're kidding right?" Jinx asked, "Tons of people. I hate to say it, but that's the truth. Brother Blood might be one. I don't know who'd hire Mad Mod. Most of us hated him, anyway. Could be some aliens maybe, considering Blackfire's doing it. I'd say Slade might of hired them if he wasn't AWOL."

"Slade?" Robin asked as the others mouthed to her behind him 'NO! BAD IDEA!'

Jinx got the message and quickly added, "Yeah, but Slade's been gone, hasn't shown his face, or I guess, mask to any of us. Besides, he hated dealing with the Hive. Thought we were useless because of Mammoth's puny brain and Gizmo's immaturity. Besides, I know the Hive did business with everyone. It could be the Joker or Lex Luthor for all we know."

Robin accepted this, only turning around to see the others all looking anywhere but at him, "Alright, well, if you can't tell us who it might be, maybe you can make sense of Blackfire's interrogation. I was telling the others, she might not have been allowed to tell us certain things, but that doesn't mean she couldn't give us hints."

"Wait, Robin," Beast Boy interrupted, "Why would she do that?"

"Maybe someone wasn't coming through on their end of the deal on time," Raven answered.

"That would make sense, considering she said something about 'errors' right before we left," Robin added.

"Just let me listen," Jinx told him and he handed her a pair of headphones.

It took a moment, but within a couple minutes, Jinx spoke, "Replay the last thirty seconds."

Robin did and unplugged the headphones allowing everyone to listen, "Well, if I'm right, I should be at a party, but I'm not."

"What's that got to do with anything?" Cyborg asked, "The girl's insane, no offense, Star."

"I do not take any," Starfire replied.

Jinx was quiet, as though contemplating as to whether or not she should go into this. Kid Flash noticed and nudged her, giving her an encouraging smile.

"Dances. We'd have them twice a month," Jinx told them.

"What do you mean?" Robin asked.

"There was this restaurant, dance, whatever you want to call it, place," Jinx started, "We'd have parties. The younger 'villains', so to speak were the ones who mostly went, but anyone, anyone bad enough to get in the paper to fight you guys or any member of the JLA basically could get in."

"Wait a minute, you mean to say that all of this time, there's been parties that we could have crashed and arrested all of the super villains in town?" Cyborg asked.

"Sort of," Jinx answered, "Only, I wouldn't recommend it. With everyone there, the odds would be against you."

Raven looked at her questioningly and asked, "Why did Blackfire care to tell us this?"

Jinx turned around to face Raven and answered, "She's mad, right? Mad at whoever employed her. She was leading you to the trail. If this person is hiring people, there's bound to be something there that..."

"... Knows who's hiring," Robin finished, "Jinx, how can we get in? Where is it?"

"Wait, a minute, I didn't..." Jinx started.

"I promise, we're not going to get the Hive Five," Robin told her, "We just want to get in and out in one piece and find out who's behind this."

He was motivated. Despite Jinx's remark, bringing up Slade had kicked him into gear.

"It's a place called 'Zenith's Fire'. The only way you're getting in there is if only one or two of you go. They never let anyone in five at a time, given how many are in the Titans," she explained.

"So basically, one of us has to dress up as though we're a bad guy and pretend to get down and dirty so that we can get into this stupid dance?" Raven asked.

The others looked at her and they didn't stop. Raven looked startled as the others began to smile at her.

"That's exactly what you're going to do," Robin answered.

"What? I didn't volunteer for this," Raven told him.

Robin wasn't listening, "No, but really. You should do it. Starfire can't pretend to be Blackfire since she's in jail and they all know it and guys asking around about this sort of thing just looks suspicious."

Jinx stepped forward and added, "Besides, I think with a little change in your wardrobe, you could pull off being a bad girl."

"I don't want to be a 'bad girl'," Raven said bluntly.

Robin intervened, "I think you're going to have to tonight."

"Why not Jinx?"

"Are you kidding me? That would be like giving her the death sentence considering all of the people that betrayed her are there," Kid Flash told her, "and we..."

"We've got plans," Jinx interrupted, not wanting to publicly announce their dinner date.

"I can't go in there alone," Raven stated, almost desperately.

"We can bug you," Cyborg told her.

"Hey, wait," Beast Boy added, "Why don't I go?"

The others all looked at him, silent. Robin didn't know what to say and that meant no one did. It was just uncomfortable, like there was this uneasy air that they were all breathing making them fidget, if only a little bit.

"Come on, guys. I won't blow her cover. We don't even have to go in together," Beast Boy added, "Besides, what happens if she needs back up, like her cover gets blown and it's not even her fault?"

The Titans all caught each others gaze. Raven stepped forward, "Beast Boy, I appreciate your concern, but really I can..."

"Look, I wouldn't mess up. I know you think that I would, but I won't, I promise," he told her.

Raven looked at him with a glare, but considered. He was being honest. There was no doubt in that. But the question of 'can he actually do this?' was another. That was it, though, right? He wanted to prove to them he could. Yet, there was something that she couldn't place. There was a level of eagerness that seemed out of place. She hoped that he wasn't going into a 'protective of everyone' stage as Robin always was in again, as he had been after Terra... It was up to her.

"Fine," Raven said, "he can come."

"How are we gonna manage that?" Cyborg asked.

"I've got make up, maybe he could pose as something," Robin answered.

Jinx added, "Maybe he could be the DJ. They always arrive early."

"Oh, and Raven, I can most certainly help you get ready for the party!" Starfire exclaimed, making Raven a tad bit more nervous.

Robin however, smiled. This could actually work. They could actually get some... where. Starfire looked at him. She was smiling at him. He was doing what he promised earlier and he hadn't even realized it. The Tamaranean knew this, but her gaze conveyed a meaning. 'Please, do not stop. It means a lot to me. ' They both understood it. He felt something creeping up on him. It was color coming to his face. She felt the same and they both quickly lost the eye contact that they had had for the short moment.

"Cyborg, do you think that you could get BB ready later? Pale skin, all of that?" Robin asked.

"Sure, you got that stuff?" Cyborg asked.

"Yeah, I always keep some," Robin answered, "Jinx, do you think if BB went in around seven and Raven went in around eight, we'd be alright?"

"Sure, but seriously, do all you can to avoid being caught. It won't be pretty if you are," Jinx warned him.

Raven sat down, bowing her head in total defeat, "This is so bad."

"I know, friend Raven," Starfire told her, "We are late!"

"Late?" Raven asked, glancing up at her, "Late for what?"

"We are behind the schedule. We must go to the mall of shopping and buy you some new clothes and redo your look to..."

"Okay, I get it. I get it, but do we have to do all of that?" Raven asked.

Robin answered for Starfire, "Yes, we can't risk you being recognized. Considering that BB will just need a color change, you're the one I'm more worried about in terms of if people will recognize you or not."

Raven looked like she was ready to kill him, "Fine, Star, let's go."

Starfire grabbed Raven's arm and the two flew out of the room. Kid Flash shuffled his feet slightly while the five remaining teens waited in silence. Jinx tapped her foot. She wanted to go.

"Well, Jinx, do you want to stick around or not...?" Kid Flash asked.

Jinx answered, "Yeah, you don't need me anymore, right, Robin?"

Robin shook his head, "No, thank you, Jinx. I know how hard things like that can be."

"No problem," she responded, "Come on, Flash. Let's go."

"Hey," Robin said, "Kid Flash, Jinx, it was good seeing you."

"Good seeing you too," Jinx said quietly, "Come on, twinkletoes."

"Why do you call me 'twinkletoes'? Robin doesn't call me 'twinkletoes'. Only Speedy ever calls me 'twinkletoes'," Kid Flash asked.

"Stop whining and let's go," Jinx told him.

"Alright," Kid Flash answered, picking her up and smiling at the others, despite Jinx's protests.

With another whoosh of air, the two Titans were gone and in Central City, an industrial, but innovative area. Kid Flash put Jinx down again, her hair a mess and her normal scowl back on her face.

"Where do you want to go to dinner?" Kid Flash asked.

"I'm thinking, I want you to cook me an elaborate dinner to make up for ruining my hair!" She yelled.

"How about we go to my Aunt Iris's and we have a homemade dinner there?" He inquired.

She rolled her eyes at him and answered, "You're such a dork!"

Back in Jump, the three boys looked at each other. They had at least two or three hours to kill. It was one of those times where there was this awkwardness, and it was because they had nothing to do, but wanted to do something.

Robin shrugged and stretched, "Well, I hope you guys don't mind, but I think I'm going to take a nap."

The other two boy's eyes bugged, "You? Take a nap? Why are you...?"

Beast Boy stopped and Cyborg finished, "You haven't been sleeping, have you?"

"Well, that's why I'm going to sleep now so I won't have to catch up while you and Raven go on a mission." He motioned to Beast Boy, "So, wake me up in two hours. BB, I'll leave the skin dye outside my room. Put it on half and hour before you wake me up so it will be dry."

"Alright, alright," Beast Boy told him, "go take your nap."

Robin smiled and left the two, sure that they would go for the...


"You know it!" he heard Cyborg yell.

Robin felt his eyes sagging. He barely managed to get to his bed, his feet didn't want to move. It was that feeling where if you're really tired and you're about to sleep, you just get even more tired. He closed his eyes and felt himself drift off into his mind's own realm.

The realm caught him up in the air. He was above and below everything. Flying. That's what he was doing. The sun shown. Everything was bright. Everything was right. But a sudden cold swept him up. He shivered and felt himself falling down slowly. He hit the street, the ground, and the cold air just got heavier. He knelt down. He could barely lift his head.

"Do you really think that things will get better so easily, Robin?"

Robin shook his head. Not in response. But in disbelief, with a heavy heart, he shook his head. Every time. Every time he felt like he was in the clear, bad memories, they just reached from their graves to grab his ankles and pull him back under with them. And Slade, he embodied every one of those decrepit dead hands that wanted to bring him down. Jinx said Slade probably wasn't behind this, but it didn't matter. Slade was still in this nightmare.

He looked up to see Slade's mask. He saw the bright sky turn dark and felt the guilt, the weakness, the helplessness, the worthlessness that scared him so much. He could swear that the man was smiling. Robin knew this was a dream. He wanted to ignore it. He had to sleep and that meant that nightmares couldn't get in the way. He willed himself to pick himself up again. He willed himself to keep his promise to Star and get his rest. Slowly, Robin forced himself to stand.

He looked around. The sky was gray, but not without sunlight. There was no one around him. But somehow, that was better than Slade being there. The street was quiet and only loose papers blew in the wind. He didn't care. He walked over to a building and sat down against the wall. Starfire was right. He must need his rest if even his dreams made him tired. Robin heard laughter. He kept his eyes closed, but he listened. People, people that he knew. They were laughing and he could just hear the smiles on their faces. It meant the world to him. It meant everything to him.

And he never wanted to lose it again.