Friday, May 26, 2017

Chapter Five: Taking Inventory

Chapter Five: Taking Inventory

The smell of charcoal and cooking steak filled the restaurant. In the background, the overpaid pianist played classical compositions in his own soft style. Waiters and waitresses balanced glasses on top of trays taking them to their customers, hoping for some generous tips. After all, their customers could afford it. The managers went about frantically trying to keep their slip-ups as unnoticeable as possible. The chefs inside the kitchen were perhaps the only ones who kept the art of cooking their priority. Outside, it was the art of presentation that mattered the most.

Mounted on the walls were fake heads of supposedly exotic animals. The only real ones consisted of deer and antelope that were well paid for. The walls had each been painted individually to reflect a certain time and tone of day that took place in the grasslands of Africa. Everything was comfortable and could suit even the most casual of diners to the most elegant of high society, each divided out into separate rooms so that every guest would have the best dining experience. The lighting could set each individual room ablaze or be so dim as to make it that it appeared that only the stars and candles in the room created a source of light.

In one of the not too extravagant corners of the Serengeti Club, a man sat in the corner waiting for his dinner, his appetizer finished. Andrea had just finished serving several older gentleman who had thanked her kindly, but all she could really think about was her feet that were just begging for her to go home and go to bed. But she needed the money for college and so when her boss, Sherry, had asked her to cover for Ben, who had just gotten off early, she had obliged.

Sherry had pulled her aside and told her specifically, "Don't screw this one up. That's Mr. Wilson. He leaves some of the best tips. Just get him his order, ask him if he wants anything, tell him it will be out momentarily, shut your mouth, and leave him alone. He travels a lot and likes a quiet dinner."

Andrea nodded in response as she glanced over at Mr. Wilson. Well, at least he didn't look like the old money she normally served. She walked over, a napkin folded over her arm and a pad of paper in her hand to take Wilson's order. It was ten at night. Her mom hated the fact that she worked so late. Gotham wasn't exactly friendly at night. At least the Club was in uptown Gotham and away from the clubs downtown. There was nothing to worry about around here, at least she hoped so.

"Mr. Wilson, Ben just got off, but your order should be out in a minute," She said as she reached his table.

Mr. Wilson laughed under his breath, "Thank you, Andrea."

His voice was deep and rich, but was relaxed. Yet he had given her the creeps. It wasn't something in his voice. It was what he had known without even glancing up, her name. It was like he had that sixth sense about him.

"Um, well, you're welcome," Andrea answered, a bit nervously and taken off guard.

Andrea watched for a good sign. His blond hair was flecked with gray and fell limply on his young face, covering his forehead and part of his right eye. But from that she could see, a black strap was protruding from underneath his bangs wrapping around his head. The marks of an eye patch. Great – another reason for him to creep her out. He was dressed in a brown leather suit and a white button up shirt, his tie a bit loose and she reminded herself of that tip.

"How long will it be?" He asked her, as though it had been nothing.

"A mere ten minutes," She told him promptly, "Do you need any more water?"

"No, I'm good," Mr. Wilson said, "And don't worry about rushing with the swordfish, I'm expecting a guest tonight."

Andrea looked up from her writing pad and nodded, "Oh, who should I look for?"

"A young woman," He told her, "Long black hair."

Andrea nodded and went to the front to see if there was anyone waiting. She was glad that she could once again slump a little in her posture. Once Andrea left, Wilson sat back in the plush seat and let out a sigh. He picked up his glass and twirled it a bit from one side to the other, letting the reflection of the lights above shine and glitter while the water swished around. As he brought the glass back down, he saw a young teenager heading toward him.

She was dressed in a blue kimono that was loose and flowed instead of the normal tight and strict style of most kimono. It was an intentional attempt to look sophisticated and elegant. Her face was what looked like a mix of French and Vietnamese heritage. She wore a couple long gold necklaces, some that reached past her ribs. On one hand she wore a bracelet that matched her diamond earrings. He eye make up flared making her green eyes shine brilliantly, but the rest of her beauty was natural. For a teenager, she knew how to make herself look like an adult.

She sat down across from him and he finally spoke, "Jade Nguyen."

Jade smiled slightly, "You weren't expecting me, were you?"

"No, I was," He answered, "Blackfire got in over her head, didn't she?"

"You could say that," She replied.

Andrea came over with his swordfish and poured Jade some water as well. Slade waved her off and she got the message.

"And you expect your cut," Slade answered.

The fire crackled off to his side as one of the waiters put a couple logs on top of the already hot wood. It wasn't exactly common to have a blazing fire going in the middle of the summer, but the Serengeti compensated for it and kept the AC on up high.

Jade was quiet as Slade continued, "Although, I'm sure that she laid everything out for you. I pay her. You get your cut from her."

"She's currently... unable to do so," Jade started.

"And that's your problem," Slade answered.

"No, it's your's!" She spat.

From the sleeve of her pocket, Jade withdrew a thin metal disk that sparkled as she waved it slowly in the air, small rainbow beams meeting Slade's lone eye.

"I have what you want. She doesn't," Jade told him, "Give me my cut and I give you your prize."

Slade looked at her, unfazed, "Ms. Nguyen, you don't want to waste your time here. And honestly, that's not much of a prize. It's an advantage point in a silly game."

Jade's face turned slightly sour as she answered, "I. Want. My. Cut. Don't think I won't hesitate to run my nails across your other eye."

Slade sighed and took a sip of water. Like she could manage such a thing, "Where will you be?"

"East Asia," She answered. "You can find me, yes?"

"It's not a question, Jade," Slade answered, "I can... adjust my agreement with the Tamaranian. Bailing her out of jail and giving her a slightly diminished payment will be her reward, plus she won't have to pay you. I'll give you your payment that will be what she agreed to give you."

"Forty percent." Jade told him.


Jade leaned back in the booth, her shoulders relaxed again. She slid the computer disk across the table where Slade picked it up and, after a moment, smiled. The only problem with some poor people is that they can never compromise and need someone else to negotiate for them. That was what this had been. The hushed tones that they had used before hand were gone as they entertained each other for the rest of the night about petty things such as the criminal world's gossip (this was mostly from Jade's part of the conversation since Slade didn't need to gossip to know what was going on) and the atmosphere of the Serengeti. It was a personal favorite of Slade's to say the least and it led to Jade talking about her preferences in Asia. To make things better, the managers and most of the employees could easily be bought off. They parted ways at the end of the evening, Cheshire leaving first, Slade guessed, to get to the airport for a flight.

Mr. Wilson put the disk into his coat pocket and pulled out a hundred for Andrea. He paid the bill and left, deciding to walk, in favor of trying to get some fresh air. He kept his head down and out of site. Barely anyone was out who would care if he was missing an eye, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to be cautious. The roadways were cooling off from the hot summer day that had followed. The stars weren't visible due to the many lights of Gotham City. He'd been here for barely a week and he was settled in nicely. But still, he didn't like the set up. Gotham was foreign territory, enemy territory.

But foreign was the biggest threat here. He could lay low. He could avoid Gotham's Dark Knight. He was playing two separate games. One in Jump, one in Gotham. It wasn't hard. It was just a matter of keeping a close watch on both sides, both opponents, both resources, and both cities. He reached a large townhouse in the northwest section of Gotham in the islands. Walking up the steps, Mr. Wilson unlocked the door and stepped inside, the place dark and empty. He turned the lights on as he pulled his coat off and walked into the living room.

Slade grabbed the remote and switched the TV on. He rolled his shoulders as he sat down. He was glad that he didn't have to be 'Mr. Wilson' all of the time. Often, he'd forsake the name when possible, just because it was a pain to keep up. But it would keep him out of the spot light and right now, that's what he wanted. He hit 23343 and suddenly the cable switched to a specialized menu, his own. He scrolled down and hit Titans Tower. From there, multiple screens of security cameras within the Tower popped up. Movement caught his eye in the hospital wing. He scrolled down and pulled up the screen to see Robin lying down on the hospital bed, apparently getting healed from Raven. The other three sat in chairs around the area talking about the afternoon's recent crimes.

"I'm seriously fine, Raven," Robin complained, as Raven held her hands above his back.

Raven cocked her eyebrows and moved slightly downward. Robin tensed as she reached a knot in his back. She smirked, her point proved. She was emanating a black/blue aura from her palms that met his back to heal him and had forced him to throw his cape and shirt off to the side so that she could heal him quicker than she normally could.

"If you would just relax, it could go by faster." Raven told him.

"But I'm still going to be in here for the rest of the night anyway." Robin argued back.

"He has a point," Cyborg whispered over to Beast Boy, igniting an irritated glare from Raven.

She sighed, "Robin, it's not even that bad. You're lucky it's not worse."

"You're right, Raven, I should be grateful that Blackfire didn't brake my back," Robin remarked sarcastically.

"Actually, yes," Raven answered in response

At the mention of her sister, Starfire interjected, "Again, I am so sorry for my sister's behavior."

"Man, Star, I don't see why you stick up for her," Beast Boy said, exasperated from her many apologies.

"Because Blackfire is still my sister," Starfire told him.

"Who's out to kill you," Cyborg finished.

Starfire shook her head and sighed as Raven said for the sixth time this evening, "Starfire, it's really alright. We're here to stop people who do bad things. That's our job."

Starfire nodded, but only because she knew that that's what the others wanted her to do, "I just feel the guilt, as though it was my fault, my presence that made Blackfire attack you friends."

"It's not your fault, Star," Cyborg told her.


She started when Robin interrupted. "He's right, Starfire. It wasn't your fault."

Raven looked back down at Robin, who had moved slightly to lift his head up from the pillow, and asked, "Do you think she had something to do with Cheshire?"

Robin scrunched up his face, "Well, if it makes sense, how likely is it that Cheshire would attack at the exact same time that Blackfire did? She likes to be in Asia; California's not her her cup of tea, you know? And what did she do? She separated us. They were working together."

"To do what?" Beast Boy asked.

Slade watched with rapt attention as he watched Robin try to come to a conclusion, but found none.

"I... don't know..." The others watched him as he continued. "But they wanted to do something. We just need to figure out what."

Robin moved to get up, but Raven forced him to lie back on the bed, "The police are perfectly capable of doing a police report on the damage at Cook's, Robin."


"Don't start. If you want, Cyborg can go and do a report himself." Raven told their leader, her tone resolved and unmovable.

"Yeah, man." Cyborg told him, walking over so that Robin could see him, "I can do it first thing tomorrow or maybe in the evening or something..."

"You need to chill, dude." Beast Boy added, turning into a sloth and resting on the bed on the other side of the room to reiterate his point.

"Yes, please, Robin," Starfire said, "You must get an adequate amount of rest to heal."

Robin felt the four sets of eyes of his teammates watching him. Peer pressure. He hated it, "Alright, fine, but I can get up tomorrow, right?"

The others glanced at Raven who answered, "In the afternoon, yeah."

She took away her hands and Robin felt the slight chill in his spinal cord leave him. He let out a sigh and pressed his head into the pillow, aggravated. This was the downside of being the only human on a team of super-powered teens. It took him longer to get up from falling off a bridge than it did the others.

Raven went to the door and before she left told them, "I'm going to my poetry reading. Call me if there's something that you need."

Robin nodded and the others watched as Raven whisked up her cape and disappeared into the air, making the room cold as though they had briefly stepped into an ice box. Beast Boy shivered slightly.

"Hate it when she does that," He whispered.

"It's not like I hate it, but I wish that she could leave the room temp the same," Cyborg shrugged, "Look, I was going to work on the T-Car. You gonna be alright, man?"

Robin looked over and nodded glumly. Even Buffing the T-Car sounded fun to him right now and they all knew it. There were some occasions where it was extremely difficult to read Robin's thoughts and others where it was... to put it nicely, obvious if you knew him.

"Yeah, I'm gonna go and... uh, do stuff," Beast Boy told the others as well.

The two boys walked out leaving Robin and Starfire in the room, "Do you wish for me to stay with you for a while?"

"Huh?" Robin asked looking up and then he answered, "Oh, no, it's alright, Star. I'll be fine. Besides, if I 'exert' myself Raven will keep me in here for a week."

Starfire giggled slightly at the joke. Her eyes moved to Robin's back where some blue and black marks were slightly raised and her facial expression changed. "Well, if you should need anything, the killers of pain or the ice in the packs, feel free to call."

"I will, Star. Thanks, and seriously, don't feel bad about Blackfire. It was out of your control," He told her, allowing for a slight smile to creep onto her face in the face of less guilt.

"Alright, Robin," She replied.

The princess walked out of the room and left the hospital room devoid of anyone except for Robin. Slade chuckled a bit. It was so amusing because he knew Robin's exact reaction to the night that would follow. He knew that Robin would despise the evening. Not being allowed to get up. Not being allowed to move. It would be misery for him. And yet, as amusing as it was, there had to be reprimand for such an act. Blackfire's bail was not going to be as automatic as Mad Mod's. He had told her to inflict nothing crucial and he knew that she was smart enough to realize that one wrong move could have put Robin in a concussion. Such a punishment for the Boy Wonder was reserved for only the most grievous mistakes, none of which Robin had made.

Slade turned off the TV screen and leaned back, relaxing his tense muscles and letting them almost regenerate with a long, deep inhale and exhale. He dealt with teenagers. Teenagers who would be the next Justice League if they kept it up. But he wasn't going to deal with them tonight. Tonight, he had another adventure to explore. Gotham's streets were ripe with an energy that pulsed through the darkness. He got up and went upstairs. Unlocking the door to the master bedroom, Slade went in and began to change. The leather and steel guards were so much more comfortable. Funny, at one time, jeans and a T had been his idea of comfort. Now, Deathstroke was more ideal. Slade looked at his reflection in the mirror before placing the orange and black mask onto his face.


Opening up the balcony, Slade felt the summer air hit him with all of the smells that Gotham had to offer him. Fresh and clean? No. But it gave him everything that he needed to get ready for the night. It was not going to be dangerous. It was going to subtle, stealthy, sly. It was going to be a thrill. All according to plan. Slade took a running leap and jumped out of the townhouse, landing on the opposite roof as he kept running towards his target. He could deal with the computer chip tomorrow. Tonight, was all about setting the wheels in motion in Gotham. Slade also realized as he ran that it was also about igniting the adrenaline rush. And one could be sure that he would enjoy every minute of it.


Robin laid down on the bed. He'd been lying down all day and all night, save for the one time that he had been allowed to use the bathroom that morning. Around ten, Raven had finally given in and told him that at two she'd let him get up.

1:57 PM

Couldn't the clock go any faster?

1:58 PM

This was murder.

Robin kept running his eyes everywhere while glancing up at the clock every ten seconds or less. The room, though he had gotten used to it over the night, smelled strongly of soap, antiseptic and, in general, a very sterile doctor's office. It was one of those times where he wanted to fidget and make a fuss about being stuck in one place, but he was way too old to give into to such a childish resolve. So instead, he remained on the bed silently fuming until...2:00 PM. Finally.

As Robin jumped out of bed, the sudden shock to his system caused him a moment of dizziness and reminded him that he'd need to stretch a bit to relieve the stiffness that still lingered in his bones and muscles. Grabbing his shirt and cape, Robin walked down the hallway to his bedroom, with the intent of grabbing a quick hot shower to get rid of the smell of the hospital's bed sheets. Within about five minutes, he had managed to jump in and out of the shower.

His hair dripped down and plastered itself onto the back of his neck, bugging him with a soft itch. In response, he quickly rubbed his hair dry and spiked it back up with hair gel. Most of the time, the others thought that his hair must have been a rock or something because he used so much, but it was just a habit. One that his mother had started and one that Bruce had promoted. He was about to go check and see if Cyborg had actually put together a report when a knock on the door alerted him to someone outside. Keeping the towel around his waist, Robin walked over to see Beast Boy walking into his room on his own terms.

"Hey man, we're gonna go to the park," Beast Boy told him.

"Why?" Robin asked.

"'Cause it's nice out. 'Sides, don't ya want to get out of tower? I would of thought that the hospital wing would have done that," Beast Boy asked.

Robin rolled his masked eyes and answered, "Alright, I'll go."

"Awesome. It's semi-civilian style alright?"

"Yeah, whatever BB," Robin answered.

Beast Boy smiled and ran out to find Raven to bug her into going. Robin laughed under his breath and changed his route from the closet to his dresser drawers where he kept his 'semi-civilian' and just plain 'civilian' clothes. The difference? Mainly a mask and his civilian clothes were much more... proper... mostly. It was hot outside so he grabbed a pair of red and white shorts and a black T-shirt with red stripes on the sides. Underneath his bed, he grabbed a pair of flip flops and put them on while throwing his communicator into his side pocket.

Eventually, the knock came and this time, Beast Boy had gotten both of the girls, "Come on, man, Cyborg's got the T-Car running."

"I'm coming, BB, I'm coming." Robin replied and he got in line behind the girls. The three of them road down the elevator to the garage where Cyborg honked the horn of his car to get them to hurry up.

"You guys are way too slow," Cyborg said.

"You don't have to change. Ever," Raven told him in response.

"I did," Cyborg answered, "And I never took that long,"

"You've never seen Starfire's wardrobe, have you?" Raven asked.

Cyborg shut his mouth about it after that. Beast Boy got in the front while the others piled in the back.

"So friend Beast Boy, why is it that you are so excited to go to the park today?" Starfire asked, as she buckled her seat-belt.

"They've got a pet expo today and it's only a bit of a walk to P.I.Z.Z.A. for a snack if we want," Beast Boy told them.

"Wait a minute, you got us all to go out just so that you could see cats and dogs. You could have rented the movie!" Cyborg yelled.

"Oh, come on, Cy, those animals are so adorable. Plus, we need to sign every petition against puppy mills," Beast Boy told him.

Cyborg rolled his eye and continued to drive as Starfire asked, "Excuse me, but what are mills of the puppy?"

Raven answered, "People who are technically allowed to do what they're doing even though they don't always treat their animals right."

Starfire nodded, still unsure of what they were talking about, but she could tell that that was all the answer she would get while in the car. They rode down into Jump where Cyborg parked the car. Most of the pet expo was at the east end of the park. The boys went off while arguing about whether or not to go see the lizards or food stands first.

Robin and the girls hung back a bit. The sun beat down on their shoulders and made them sweat off any sun tan lotion that they had put on beforehand. Raven in particular, her outfit barely any different save for the lack of her cloak and a pair of jeans, was suffering from the heat and lack of shade. Starfire on the other hand seemed to thrive on it and enjoyed browsing along the booths. Right before they got to the end of the stands as they headed for the west end, Starfire felt a tug on her hand.

"Um, 'scuse me. Are you Starfire?" A little girl holding a teddy bear asked.

Starfire smiled and replied, "Yes, I am Starfire. And what is your name little one?"

"Dana," The girl told her while pointing, "And this is Freddy and that's my mommy over there."

Starfire smiled at her as she bent down, "It is very good to meet you Dana and Freddy."

"You gotta meet my mommy, Starfire!" The girl exclaimed, "You gotta, she's always talking about you guyses."

Dana looked around Starfire to catch a glimpse of Raven and Robin, who were both a couple feet away. Maybe it was because of Robin's status as the team leader and Raven's lack of... cheerfulness, but she quickly looked back at Starfire who stood up and walked with her over to a woman running a booth. Robin smiled as he watched Starfire happily talk with Dana's mother who was selling dog toys and other various items.

Raven sighed as she walked up to Robin, "She's gonna be there a while."

"Yeah, you want to find some shade?" Robin asked.

Robin caught Starfire's eye and held up his communicator. She nodded and waved at them. Robin and Raven walked out of the stream of booths and started walking around the park, stopping at large trees to enjoy the shade. Seagulls above called out and caught spare bread that some kids were throwing into the air. Robin watched them and looked out at the bay at the Tower. He sighed and Raven looked at him.

"Are you still worried?" She asked.

They both knew what she was talking about, so Robin didn't pretend to be oblivious. "It just doesn't make sense, Raven. There wasn't a reason for them to work together. I mean, they're both the quote on quote 'bad girls', but Blackfire's in jail and Cheshire... She didn't really do anything. I don't see how that helps either of them."

Robin slumped down against a tree and gazed over at some other teenagers, probably from Jump City High, playing Ultimate Frisbee. Everything seemed to be so carefree for them. They had normal lives. And it couldn't be for any of the Titans. They didn't mind it, but there were days that they could feel it. Today was one of those days. He wasn't complaining, but sometimes, everything just got to be so heavy on his shoulders. Raven watched him and leaned against the tree. Her melancholy tone normally allowed for things of serious nature to be natural for her to deal with a bit more ease than the others.

She nodded and told him, "Cyborg wasn't able to go to Cook's this morning.

When he glanced up slightly she gave up the explanation he wanted, "They were still taking inventory to see if..."

Robin looked off suddenly and cut her off mid-sentence, "Inventory... Raven, you don't think..."

Raven quickly tried to think back to Cheshire's attack and answered, "The place was a mess, it could have been..."

"Overlooked?" Robin filled in.

"Yes," Raven told him.

The momentary success brought only a second of supposed 'happiness'. Robin stood up and for a moment looked like the problem was solved until a frown came to his face again. Raven looked at him confused.

"What?" She asked.

"All that for a robbery?" Robin asked.

"Hey guys!" Beast Boy yelled.

They looked over to see Beast Boy running at them, "Don't let him get me!"

He turned into a cheetah and ran off. Cyborg came out seconds later, "Aw, man, where's the grass stain off to now?"

"What'd he do?" Robin asked.

"If it wasn't for him and his stupid 'pet expo', then I wouldn't be seen as a fire hydrant for about a dozen great danes!" Cyborg yelled and suddenly he caught sight of a green bird flying in the air, "Oh no you don't!"

Cyborg opened fire with his sonic cannon at Beast Boy who quickly attempted to dart out of the way.

"Well, that's disruptive," Raven stated bluntly.

Robin laughed and looked back over at the pet expo where Starfire was following the same girl around. Dana was over excited and wanted to show her idol everything while Starfire obliged, liking the smile that came to Dana's young face. She liked kids. They were just so energetic and full of life. It was too cute. Robin's smile faded when he looked back over at Raven and remembered what they had been talking about before.

He continued to answer her questioning look, "It just seems strange."

He couldn't shake the feeling that she was growing a bit hesitant about this, "Robin... We still don't know if she even took anything. Let's just wait and leave it at that. Don't..."

"Are you going to say to not obsess over this like everyone else?" Robin asked, not accusingly, though, to Raven's slight relief.

Raven's eyes narrowed as she looked at the ground. Being the telepath of the group, she knew the weaknesses of others. She knew a lot of things that they didn't even realize. It wasn't her fault, but when she slept, their dreams, sometimes, just to feel, she would take in their feelings, good or bad.

With Robin, her mind bond with him only allowed for so much. Robin had been trained to conceal his thoughts by putting up a mental barrier. If she had a mind bond with anyone else, she would practically know their life. Robin was another story. She barely had an idea. But it was an idea and it gave her insight for the reason for his... protectiveness.

"Robin, you don't even know what you become when you get into this 'obsession mode' of yours. You'd barely recognize yourself. You should see yourself when obsess about things like Slade. It's just... unhealthy and almost disturbing sometimes," She told him. She wasn't saying it to be mean. She was just stating the facts.

"Raven, I'm not obsessing. You know that I'm just trying to keep everything I have as it is: Safe," Robin sighed.

"I know. That's why I barely say anything about it, but..." Raven gestured over to their peripheral vision and Robin looked out.

He saw the city. He saw the skyscrapers. He saw the people in the park. He saw the teens playing frisbee and a couple having ice cream. He saw the kids feeding the seagulls. He saw Cyborg and Beast Boy fighting. He saw the Tower in the bay. He saw Starfire standing up after petting a small kitten. But his eyes were still in contemplation as though debating as to whether or not Raven's warning was one that he really needed to heed.

"Don't get wrapped up in this. We'll work on it as a group. Alright? In our experience, nothing good ever comes from diving too deep into these sorts of things, " Raven said from behind, "The miserable think that if they make others miserable it will make them happy. You know that. And don't tell me it's your job to work 'obsessively'. We're teenagers, too. So enjoy it more than just 'a little bit'."

He looked at the ground and then at her, asking, "Raven, if it is anything, it's a robbery. Why are you so worried?"

Raven hugged her sides slightly and answered him slowly, "I don't know. I'm just, I don't like it."

"Neither do I," Robin told her.

They watched the scene in front of them. Raven watched the boys with a corner of her eye on Robin as he gazed over at Starfire who was saying good-bye to Dana. She smiled slightly. She knew that Starfire could bring Robin to his senses with more luck than her or the others without even trying sometimes which was by far a good thing. She wasn't good with igniting emotions or dousing them anyway and well, the guys were... guys. Plus, the two could be kind of cute. She just wondered when Cyborg and Beast Boy would start making bets. Starfire came over to them, flying slightly above the ground.

"They are so adorable when they are young. Thank you for not being upset at me for going off with her," Starfire said, as she stopped in front of them.

"It's no problem, Star. Wanna go for a walk?" Robin asked.

Starfire nodded and answered while landing, "Oh yes, that would be most enjoyable."

The three of them started walking. Cyborg had finally gotten a hold of BB who had received injury enough to make them even. They came running up behind the others and the five began to talk about what they wanted to do that evening. The sun was dipping down, but it had enough energy in it to keep it floating above the horizon. The Titans kept walking, their outlines marking them shadows against the orange and purple sky.

Once inside the T-Car, their silhouettes disappeared and they headed for the Tower. Upon arrival, most of the Titans dispersed. Raven went back to her room and threw off the old pair of jeans. She kept reflecting over why it was that she could be having these feelings about this. Robin was right. It was just a robbery. But it felt bigger, scarier, more threatening to her. It was irrational. Totally irrational. They both knew that. So why couldn't she shake the feeling?

Raven lit a couple candles and incense. Maybe it was just her father's influence messing with her powers. Maybe her powers were going haywire. Maybe someone was messing with her. Maybe it was nothing. But... What if it wasn't? Raven sighed and began to levitate.

"Azarath Metrion Zinthos, Azarath Metrion Zinthos, Azarath Metrion Zinthos..." Her chanting, rich in composure, calmed her slightly as she mentally scolded herself.

She had no reason for any of these feelings. At least, none that she knew of. If she had known that there was someone hacking their security system right now, then she would have. If she had known that they were watching Robin smiling at Starfire as they walked down the hallways, then she would have. If she had known that they were focusing on Robin's slightly happy step in his stride, she would have. And if she had known that that someone had one eye, then she would have had her reason.

But she didn't. There was no way of knowing. No way for her or anyone else for that matter to know that one of their most dangerous opponents was watching half way across the continent their tower, their leader.

Slade watched as Robin talked to Starfire and then he watched as the two parted ways when they reached his room. He watched as Robin fell flat on his bed and then got up to write on a dry erase board two new things: 'Write up a report for Cook's' and underneath that 'Check Cook's Inventory'. He smiled. Smart boy. He was getting somewhere and he had no doubt that Robin could connect this to Mad Mod. Could he link it to him? It was a slight possibility. At the rate Robin was going, though, he'd have starve himself of sleep to find out in time to have any chance of stopping him. And then if he didn't sleep, he'd have no energy to even put up a fight. It was a catch-22 situation in his favor.

And, besides, Robin was a teenager. Teenagers wanted to make those years like a movie. Teenagers wanted to have fun. They wanted to fall in love and go to parties and make rivalries and have contests and watch TV thrillers. It was a literal checklist of what they had to do during those appointed high school years. Robin was no different. He didn't realize it all of the time, but he still had all of those qualities despite his disposition to be fastidious when it came to his work. It was one of the few weaknesses that Slade didn't blame Robin for having, just because of the boy's age. On the plus side, it made his job that much easier.

Needless to say, he wasn't worried. The boy would learn of his plans as soon as it suited him. When that would be was... still up to debate. It was early in the afternoon in Gotham. The sunny disposition of the area didn't reflect Gotham as a whole. It didn't bother him. Jump's view had taught him that even in the most perfect of cities, there were always shadows, always places to hide. And Gotham, it spoke for the world in terms of both diversity and danger. Robin had been taught to fight in one of the most crime ridden cities that the world had to offer. That's why he was so good at what he did and why he could be a challenge.

And Slade didn't waste his time with pathetic cases, anyway. Normally, he wouldn't even plan to use this much time on the ones that were even 'good'. The boy's defiant glares, his constant determination, his total resolve to stop him... Robin had been a thorn in his side for so long, he figured he could take the time to do this right. Slade glanced outside the window to see the street deserted. Kids were at school. Parents were either inside their homes or at work or running errands. He was alone in the townhouse. Wintergreen was nearby, but had been told not to visit unless there was a situation that absolutely called for it.

Slade walked over to his computer and picked up the small computer disk. It was time to put Cheshire's heist to good use.

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