Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chapter Three: Coming Home

Part Two: The Teens' City

Chapter Three: Coming Home

The one thing about mountains is that you can never see past them until you reach the top. They would be a road block if there was no such things as the highways of today's infrastructures. The shadows were still long even though it was mid-afternoon, but the air was fresh and the smell of pine trees filled the air. He had changed a couple hours ago, out in the middle of nowhere. He couldn't just waltz right back home looking like Dick Grayson, after all. That wasn't who lived there according to the public. The good thing was that Gotham was now hours behind him. The engine started to make less of a protest as he reached the top of the hill and looked over to see Jump.

It was incredible. Bright, ready for the world. Jump City was warm; the sun actually hit you while you were walking on the sidewalks. It was friendly. And coming from cold and dark Gotham, well, it was by far an improvement. So much so, Robin almost felt that he could compare it to Metropolis. He looked out over the bay, over to the tower, which stood proudly watching over the city. The water glistened reflecting the warm, yet refreshing waters off of the California coast. The beaches were clean along the far sides of the bay while a small, but perfect boardwalk lay right before the outer area. The waves hit the legs supporting the structure, where he knew were clams and other sea life that only Aqualad would deal with.

The bridge led across town and past the oil rig outside of the bay. He laughed in his head about the two times that they had had to fight out there. Both annoying at the moment, but hilarious to look back on. Cars made traffic heavy as they attempted to get past the long bridge and into the city. A gray and opal coloring covered most of the buildings in the area. Some steel outer structures were also present, hoping to have a little more protection from the super-powered fights that could break out at random. Some areas of Jump were merely suburbs, the city was so young. Children would be getting out of school with their loving parents there waiting to pick them up. At least innocence was still here in some parts.

Opposite the suburbs on the other side of town were older, brick buildings that seemed to resemble Gotham's. Abandoned for the most part, or made into bars and dance clubs. It was an area that he was only familiar with because he would always stop by in hopes that he could make it a little safer. Nearly always, there was some college woman who was going home alone after going to a dance and some creep would attempt to mug her that needed a little reminder of lady justice. So, needless to say, he never neglected to make a stop in that area of town during the weekends.

Downtown was growing swiftly, a couple buildings going up slowly. With a rich center of shops, there was a small store for nearly every person's interests. Cafes and restaurants, sports and clothes stores, whatever, it was all there with a wide range of prices. It was young, with many colleges skirting around attempting to start up or barely on their feet. But it was by no means weak. The city shone and radiated a tall, confident posture, as though wanting to challenge the threats, the dangers of the world. The challenge was taken up, as the newspapers so excitedly told the public, and that's why there was a structure in the middle of the bay that seemed to reflect the very feeling of what Jump City was. The tower rose above everything. It shot up to make the world see it. And see it they did, in the shape of a giant 'T'. Titans Tower.


The smile spread onto his face. Yes, this was his home. The place itself didn't make it so. The people did. His friends...A loud 'boom' made his head turn to the commotion downtown. A loud explosion had erupted downtown near the smallest district of the shops. There was no time to be mesmerized anymore. Like that, the R-Cycle began to carry it's occupant towards the city.

"Quit makin' me a Brit!"

"The change is quite marvelous in you actually." Mad Mod spoke in his crisp British accent.

Reflecting on the fact that Beast Boy's manners seemed to surface whenever he was a 'Brit', Raven inwardly agreed. So reluctantly, she messed up Beast Boy's hair and hit him on the head for the third time in the past hour. That actually was quite nice; she liked that part, the hitting him part, not the messing up his hair part. Who know what different types of animal hair were hiding up there?

The man was quite an opponent, with the spirit of the youth that was stuck in the past. The only problem was that he liked to call the Revolution a hoax and that the American flag looked ridiculous when it waved. An enthusiast, Mad Mod never ceased to get on every one's nerves, even his own "jolly good" Queen of Britain. It was honestly an embarrassment, but Mad Mod was too wrapped up in his own little world to notice.

Cyborg brought his sonic canon up and fired at the plane that Mad Mod was flying, "Oh, you picked the wrong day to be dropping bombs on this town!"

Mad Mod swerved out of the way of a couple sonic blasts and laughed. Or at least, he laughed until he saw Starfire flying right at him, her fist raised with a starbolt. With a yell, Starfire slammed forward and punched the old war plane right in the nose, the starbolt frying the engine. Starfire looked around the falling debris, which Raven began to catch telekinetically, for Mad Mod.

"Nice try, my duckies," Mad Mod said, as he was landing on a nearby roof, "But that was pathetic!"

About ten of his robots appeared from behind him, all armed with World War II weapons with the intent of blowing the Titans out of existence. Mad Mod sat down on the side of the building just smiling at them.

"Good luck, kiddies," he said.

"Aw, man!" Beast Boy yelled, "How many of those stupid things does he have?"

"Don't know, don't care," Cyborg yelled, "Just blow 'em to bits!"

"You don't need to tell us twice," Raven said, her eyes beginning to glow white.

Each Titan began to take on about two or more robots at once. Raven began to blow them apart, sending big pieces over to Cyborg so that he could use them to disarm his lot. Beast Boy ran at them, switching from slicing through the armor and later destroying them from the inside like a mouse. Starfire began to blast and rip the arms and legs off, attempting to keep them from being able to move or be able to shoot anything. They were almost done, but Mad Mod wasn't willing for that to go down that easily. Pressing down on the top of his cane, the robot facing Beast Boy automatically turned it's chest into a hypnosis screen. Instantly, for the fourth time, Beast Boy stopped his actions, like a nice package just waiting to be stomped upon.

"Beast Boy! Don't! Ah!" Cyborg called, but he let his guard down for one minute and that's all it took for the robot to throw him against a wall, effectively disarming him for the moment.

Raven gasped at the unexpected new opponent while her previous enemy was rounding on her as well, "What?"

She gasped as she felt her cloak being grabbed as the robot threw her into the ground. Raven groaned as she looked up to see Starfire shooting up to avoid the shots now focusing on her. This was not going to be good.

Mad Mod laughed, "You're all worthless without your lousy lea...der?"

Something powerful roared forward, heading right at Mad Mod. The air seemed to suspend the R-Cycle in mid air as Robin looked over to catch Mad Mod's eye. He smiled and Mad Mod didn't need a telling twice to run for his life.

"Titans, Go!"

Raven and Cyborg began to get up as Starfire's face brightened. Beast Boy, well, he still was sort of out of it. Robin landed in front of Mad Mod's escape route. Mad Mod stopped and began backing towards the edge of the roof.

"Now, now, Govena', let's not be hasty. I'm just an old man who's a little crazy in the head. Just like old times?" Mad Mod said, nervously.

"You know," Robin said, taking off his helmet, "I'm really sick of 'old times' right now."

With a yell, Robin ran up, grabbed Mod by his shirt and brought him to the ground, "I'll take that."

Mod grimaced as Robin took away the cane and put him in cuffs. After bringing Beast Boy back to the land of the conscious, the others joined Robin on the roof.

"Robin!" Starfire said as she quickly flew over to give him one of her infamous bone-crushing hugs, "You are back! How was the City of Gotham? Did you have the fun? But you are back! Oh! We missed you so much!"

Robin was one of the few who would and could put up with Starfire's hugs, "I'm back, Star, I'm back, but I still need to breathe."

Starfire let go of him, still smiling. The others came around, the guys giving him high fives and Raven giving only a simple nod. Mad Mod just simply rolled his eyes thinking that his luck would only have it that this would happen. The sirens came and soon, Mad Mod was taken back into custody of the police.

The group now standing side by side was the one thing that made Jump City different from any other. It made it, for Robin, also different in terms of what was considered 'normal'. By a civilian's standards, even he was a little out of the ordinary. His team, the Teen Titans, were by no means or by any reason some club formed as a "junior Justice League". No, the Titans were formed out of a friendship. It wasn't an intentional friendship when it was formed, but a friendship nonetheless.

It had been awkward in the beginning. Everyone was so different, different interests, different tastes, different cultures... To some extent, some could say they were a bit 'weird', but maybe that's why they were so accepting. They each knew the impact of being different from the rest of society. They were each different and only together did they find that being different just came with the territory. Besides, with a changeling, a cyborg, a witch, an alien, and a detective, different was not uncommon.

"I say we order vegetarian pizza to celebrate!" Beast Boy exclaimed, turning into a dog afterwords barking loudly.

"Look, I don't care what type of pizza we get as long as we actually get it within the next half hour," Robin replied.

"Fine by me," Cyborg said, "Race you to P. I. Z. Z. A."

"Winner gets to choose the toppings," Beast Boy said, before turning into a cheetah and racing ahead.

"Hey, we never agreed on the terms!" Cyborg yelled, before grabbing his car and speeding on ahead leaving the other three Titans behind.

"Okay..." Raven trailed off.

"Let 'em go ahead. I'll order a regular pizza for delivery," Robin said, smiling, "I have to go unpack my stuff and by that time we can eat."

"That sounds like a reasonable plan," Raven said, "Meet you back at the tower."

Robin raised a brow and looked over at Starfire, "She has been a bit, oh, what is the word? Moody lately. Friends Beast Boy and Cyborg have been a bit more irritating than normal while you were gone."

"Got it," Robin said, "You can fly back if you want, I'll be there in a minute."

"Oh, but you must tell me of your trip! I have never been to your Gotham before," Starfire said, walking beside him to his bike which was now on solid ground once again.

Robin laughed, thinking how much he missed Star's curiosity. "Alright, Star, want a ride, then?"

Starfire beamed and hopped onto the bike behind him. Once they reached mid-town, where the wave of Mad Mod's destruction hadn't hit, he finally had to slow down for traffic. People apparently were going back to the suburbs for dinner. Turning to look behind him, he began to answer Star's questions.

"Gotham was okay. Not much going on and the party couldn't have been more boring. I stopped Man-Bat, though, from rampaging through the city," Robin said.

"But I thought that the 'Bat' was who you worked for, yes?" Starfire asked.

"Yes, but this was a different bat, Star. I worked for Batman. This guy was the other way around." Robin explained.

They were able to clear traffic and gain some speed. Starfire felt her hair whip behind her and she held on tighter as Robin sped up. Robin's 'motorcycle' was invigoratingly scary at certain speeds, but she was always sure that he would keep her safe. Ever since his one accident, Robin had practiced and practiced at riding his cycle until he perfected it. Perfect... It was everything that she thought he was and everything that he tried so hard to be.

Soon they rode over the bridge to the tower. They could feel and smell the salty sea air around them. The large building loomed overhead, becoming larger and larger as they went. The 'T' shaped tower's modern grandeur shone against the sunlight. Silver streaked the glass that covered the front half of the building while trees reached up about two stories high. That was almost like a pixie's size compared to the tower. The dirt path in the front led down to the beach while the one in the back led to the bridge that they were crossing. The tower seemed to reach for the sky, while the glass windows seemed watchful. Watchful protectively, watchful in admiration.

They rode up the trail to the front and then went to the back. Robin sped to a stop in the garage. He felt, for a small moment, Star's arms holding him tightly around his waist. He would never say it out loud, but he liked it. She let go and lifted herself off of the bike as he took off his helmet.

"Then your trip was enjoyable?" she asked, afloat in the air as he jumped off himself.

Robin sighed and answered, "As enjoyable as it could be."

"Was there something disappointing?" Starfire questioned, her brows up in slight worry.

Robin grabbed his bags and lifted them up as Star took one as well. "Not, disappointing, just really irritating. I didn't exactly want to go in the first place, but when duty calls and all that jazz, you know?"

"But I thought Gotham was your home?" Star said, confused as she landed and they walked over to the elevator where they set down the bags.

Robin looked over at her. Being from Tamaran, a distant planet in the Vegan Star system, Starfire was still not familiar with all of Earth's customs so most often, Robin would be the one to take the time and explain Earth to her. Most of her etiquette came from her being raised in a palace, which, as Robin had seen, really was gorgeous. Starfire, herself, was what some would call a golden beauty. She had tan skin, red hair, and bright green eyes. She was curious, ready to learn, and loved being on Earth. It was a planet that she felt that she could call home. And she'd defend it and her friends at all costs. Battle, it was something she was also familiar with, and honestly, good at.

Starfire's powers were an emotional power core. She could produce Starbolts with her hands and Star-lasers with her eyes. She was also incredibly strong, could fly, and also was more resistant to pain than most mere humans were, a side effect from being an alien on Earth. Being emotional for her though, it was a way of life. She was considerate, caring, and full of a certain spark in her eye. And there was just... There was just something about her that made Robin relax a bit and smile. It was just like that, without any explanation necessary.

Robin smiled, "Star, I'm home right now."

Starfire's eyebrows raised, but dipped down and she blushed. She loved that genuine smile of his. They got to the top level and brought his bags into his room. Robin switched on a light and found it just as neat as he had left it. Then again, it was always neat. The red sheets were still made on his bed, which was nearly flat. His book shelf was organized by subject and then by author and then by length.

Meanwhile, a safe was in the corner that was stock full of supplies ranging from Asian weaponry to the most high tech weapons of the day, excluding any form of a gun. He, like his mentor, didn't believe in using them. In his closet were his uniforms and belts and masks. The only thing that wasn't always neat and orderly was his desk, but before he had left, he had seen to it that even that was clean, too. That's just how neat it was. It was probably Alfred telling him to clean his room up all the time when he was a kid that made him so picky about how his room was and how it wasn't. He sighed.

"I will just leave you to do your unpacking then," Starfire said, placing his bag down by his door and pulling a stray hair back behind her ear.

She turned to go when he spoke to her, "Hey Star?"

Starfire turned, "Yes, Robin?"

For a moment he paused, but soon he found his words again, "Um, well, it's good to be home."

Starfire smiled and gave him a hug. Best friends, that's what they were. She was glad he was home too. They broke apart and Star left him alone to unpack. Robin sighed and picked up the phone in his room. He had promised a normal pizza for Raven. After apologizing for Cyborg and Beast Boy who had apparently been holding up the line, he ordered a regular pizza and told the cashier to put it on the same bill.

Sighing, Robin pulled his bags over to his bed and threw them on top. He easily unpacked since he was very efficient at that sort of thing. It was something he had picked up when he was younger. Emptying a bag of civilian clothing, Robin moved on to the next two bags. Most of the second bag was new equipment. Birdarangs, bo-staffs, smoke pellets, freeze disks, the whole lot of it plus some new uniforms (like he needed more). Finally, out came from the final bag the electronics and files. The special equipment that had cost Bruce a fortune that he wouldn't have been able to earn in ten years. The files he left out on his desk for later. He still had to look over them.

The last thing to come out was his laptop. The bags now empty, Robin stuffed them in his closet. Hopefully, he wouldn't need to make a trip anywhere for a long time. Grabbing the laptop, Robin brought it over to his desk and plugged it in. This thing seemed to have over a thousand passwords. A security feature, something that he had installed himself. Finally, he was able to open up the screen without making the thing shudder and die on him.

There was still a lot of work to do. Not only did he have to add in the files, but there were the taxes, the bills... and he still had to check his email. The files were simple. Most of them had no change whatsoever, except for the summary at the bottom. A couple years could do that. As he continued, he pulled up some emails with video feed and listened to them intently making side notes for himself later on. Most of the videos were just summaries of crimes that had happened or big time things like Luthor's announcement to the public after he got released from jail. That story was one that Robin still found utterly ridiculous. Finally, he was able to get done with the files. A new email popped onto the screen from the J.C.P.D. Only a yell stopped him from doing so.

"Get back here you grass stain!" Cyborg yelled three hallways away.

"Robin!" Beast Boy said, barely able to open the door before slamming into it, "Come on, he won the Pizza, it's my turn for a movie choice."

The youngest member of the team, Beast Boy, would have been the class clown if they had been in school. Then again every one of them was a little isolated. With a sense of humor by his side, Beast Boy was always ready to smile, laugh, or be laughed at in some cases just to make others' faces brighten up. Perhaps that was the best thing about him too. He just wanted people to smile, to not look on the downside of things.

His name reflected his abilities and his appearance, like the rest of the Titans, allowed people to pick him out of a crowd in a matter of seconds. Pointed ears, long canine teeth, green skin, eyes, and hair were all side effects really. He wasn't sure why they were, but they were and that was fine with him as long as he could transform into any animal he wanted to be. Being a changeling was something that Beast Boy loved and would never give that ability up for the world.

Robin leaned back in his chair and sighed, "You know, Beast Boy, I think that it's actually my turn to pick a movie."

"What?" Beast Boy practically screamed, "Oh no, there's no way that you're..."

"Sounds good to me. I'm sick of his lame-brained comedies," Cy commented, coming in.

Robin got up and the three left for the main room, "I'm not picking a sci-fi movie either."

"But there's action! You know you love action," Cyborg quickly argued back.

"Look, they're just too unrealistic for me, Cy," Robin answered back.

"Oh, just because you've gotten to hang out in the Fortress of Solitude, you think you know what's real sci-fi and what's not," Cyborg argued back.

"Yes," Robin answered smugly.

They entered the main room where the two had left the pizza which was sitting on the counter near Star. They could smell the sausage and cheese, but something else was threatening the atmosphere with it's scent as well. Was Star... cooking?

"What's that smell?" Beast Boy asked.

"Star's getting out all of her 'necessary' ingredients," Raven answered in a monotone.

"For what?" He asked back.

"A traditional Tamaranian dish to celebrate the return of a friend!" Star exclaimed, leaving Cyborg and Beast Boy starring daggers at Robin, who quickly attempted to oblige to their demands.

"Um, hey, Starfire, it's okay, really. I had plenty of food that was, uh, fancy, and yeah. I'm really just in the mood for some pizza and grease food, you know?" He told her gently, trying to find the right words so she wouldn't be hurt.

"Are you positive? I mean, for once I was able to find everything needed for such a dish," She asked him.

Robin paled a bit, gulped, and smiled, "No, it's okay. I don't want you to do all of that for me."

Starfire shrugged and began to put away her ingredients while the others looked at Robin as though saying 'We owe you one for that.' Normally, Robin actually didn't mind Star cooking her food and he'd even be nice and actually try it on occasion, to his stomach's dismay. It was when she attempted to get the others to eat any of it that things started to go beyond 'fine'. It was still mid-afternoon by the time they finished the pizza, Beast Boy passing since none of it was vegan-friendly. As they sat around the table, Robin told them about his trip, or as much as he could. They still had never seen him without his mask off. It was something he had promised to Bruce and to be fair, Bruce kept up the same deal. Only Superman and Wonder Woman had ever seen him without his mask on.

"Yes!" Robin repeated for the third time, "Caviar! I did eat it."

"Sick, man! That's just sick," Cyborg said.

Beast Boy looked like his was going to puke, "Dude, you know that they're all unborn little eggs of fish, right?"

"Please, why does this food source sicken people so?" Starfire asked, "It sounds like a delicacy."

"It's supposed to be, but it's not," Robin told her, "It's just something most people find really nasty to eat and the only reason why they eat it is because they're being polite. Then they do it so often that they end up liking it."

"Oh," Starfire said, a little less confused.

"That's still disgusting, man. Do you even like the stuff?" Cyborg asked.

Robin leaned back, "It's not bad, it's just not my first choice."

"First choice?" Beast Boy gasped, "More like no choice. I don't even know why they have..."

At that, the door opened to the main room and the four of them looked up to see Raven walking in, her hood on and the scent of lavender vanilla radiating off of her from the candles and incense that she had been burning in her room. She met eyes with each of them and then went towards the kitchen where she pulled out a bag of herbal tea and one of her white mugs.

"Hey Raven, there's still some left over pizza. Want some?" Beast Boy offered.

"Maybe later," She answered, not looking over at him.

She was the enigma of the group. The one who didn't want to talk much about herself and would spend more time meditating than anything else. Her powers were also an emotional vacuum and were so sensitive she tended to be blunt or else quiet. To be honest, she was probably the most powerful of the group, but her restraint was more to keep her powers from going haywire.

The timer beeped signaling that the water was warm enough. Raven was the mystic of the group, and was able to perform old spells, charms, and enchants from old books and scrolls. But when Raven did come out of her corner, out of her dark room, and pull off the hood of her blue cloak to reveal her purple hair, indigo eyes, and pale skin, (as she did right now) she tended to be serious and always had something important, and often deep, to say. Or in this case, she did so to smell her herbal tea, the smell, warm and inviting.

"Did you choose a movie yet, Robin?" she asked, without real interest.

"Um, I was thinking something like Pirates," he said, "Keeps everyone happy."

"'Cept me," Cyborg said, "Where's the sci-fi in that?"

Robin rolled his eyes even though they couldn't see it, "How about attachment to their version of the modern day vehicle, 'A Ship'?"

Cyborg thought for a moment and then nodded, "Okay, fine, fine. Just not the second one."

Raven nodded and took a sip of her tea, "You seemed stressed when you first came back."

Robin looked at her and sighed, "Gotham can do that."

Walking over to the table, Raven sat down next to Starfire and churned her tea with her spoon, "Everything went fine while you were gone. Nothing too big happened. I filed the two bank robberies, one by Doctor Light and the other by Control Freak. We stopped them within minutes."

"Thanks for that," Robin replied; he had asked Raven to take over filing reports while he was gone.

"I put the files on your desk, I'm guessing that you noticed," It wasn't a question, just a comment.

"Yeah, I saw them," Robin told her, "Again thanks for doing that."

Raven merely nodded leaving the table dead of conversation. After business talk, it can be hard to get back to other subjects. She seemed to notice this, but wasn't quiet sure of how to fix it. Cyborg was the one who was able to lead them all back to the conversation they were having beforehand.

"Well, it's practically dark now so we could watch the movie now," he said, "Not it!"

"Not it!"

"Not it."

"Not it!"

Starfire looked at her four friends who had their fingers on their noses, "Um, it?"

The others smiled as Beast Boy laughed, "Okay, that wasn't fair."

"I'll help you with the dishes, Star," Raven said.

Star was still confused, but got up with Raven to do the dishes. The boys walked over and began to rip through their collections to find their copy of Pirates (They had at least four). Once the lights were dimmed and they had a large bowl of popcorn on the table, the Titans sat down to watch.

By nine thirty the movie ended and the teens each had a different expression on their face. Cyborg was still pretty bored by the whole thing; knowing computer graphic designs can do that to a person. Raven had actually put her book down. Beast Boy's smile showed that he still wanted to laugh at the last scene and Starfire was slowly easing out from Robin's cape. Robin was much more relaxed and was about to get up when Beast Boy grabbed the remote.

"Dude, the last part!"

"There is a 'last part'?" Starfire asked.

Skipping the credits, they ended up seeing the cursed treasure at which Starfire started to hide behind Robin's cape again. And for good reason, the undead monkey had a way of freaking her out.

"Oh, I hate that monkey," she said once it was over.

"It's all fake, Star," Robin told her, "Cyborg could create a monkey like that if he wanted to."

Star didn't like that idea at all and answered, "Your versions of the dead being 'un' are most disturbingly scary."

Robin laughed, "That's the point of it, though."

"Then it is doing its job marvelously," Starfire answered.

Raven finally got up, "It's late, we should go to bed."

"I'm staying up," Beast Boy announced, "New show coming out tonight at eleven and I have to rate it."

Raven rolled her eyes as the others nodded. The girls got up and headed back to their branch of the tower while the two other boys went their to their own rooms. Silence is horrible in some ways, isn't it? Conversation always tend to lead to unexpected questions when sparked by silence.

"So..." Cyborg dragged out, "Get to ride in the car?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah," Robin answered, "He upgraded it to a maximum of 266 miles per hour."

"You gotta be kidding me," Cyborg replied and Robin shook his head, "I can't upgrade fast enough then."

"He's got... support in that area, though, don't feel bad. I honestly think that he just likes the thrill of it," Robin answered.

"Too fast to notice the feel, then?"

"Guess so," Robin said.

Cyborg was like that. He loved talking tech, which could only be expected since he was half robot. Since a freak-accident, Cyborg had to have most of his body replaced with robotics. Most of which, thanks to... funding, were the top of the line in quality and allowed for Cyborg's strength to not only be increased, but also allow him to create on either arm, a sonic cannon. Depending on how he landed, he was also able to put up more of a fight before he actually felt pain. His metal barely ever scratched beyond repair and even when it did, there was always an easy replacement for it.

A genius with wires. That was Cy for ya. He could make anything happen, even the supposedly impossible. But for all of that, he still was an athlete at heart. It was one of the reasons he liked being a Titan. They could 'compete' against opponents that they were matched for. His motto seemed to be 'good game, man' and 'I'm giving one hundred and ten percent'. He looked out for them like that. Play it hard, and it we lost, we'll get 'em next time. The big brother, the oldest, the tin man with a heart.

They stopped when they reached Robin's room, "Things have been calming down lately, man."

"Think so, Cy?" Robin asked.

"I don't know. It's just, getting slower, you know what I mean? I mean, the jail can't be that full now, can it?" Cyborg commented.

"Well, be grateful for it. After the Brotherhood's mess it just seems a bit natural too," He answered.

"Alright, 'night, Robin," Cyborg said and he started to walk down the hall way to his own room.

"'Night," Robin went into his room and shut his door.

He pulled off his uniform and got a t-shirt and shorts on. One more email, then bed. He needed the rest after his trip. He was exhausted. J.C.P.D. Mad Mod Capture, he clicked it and started to read the message on the screen.


Again, as we have many times before, would like to thank you for your service to the city in capturing the criminally insane Mad Mod. However, you left the scene too early and we were unable to report a last minute detail that we thought that you might be interested. While you were fighting Mod, across town near the suburbs at a hardware store, a smaller version of one of Mod's robots was seen entering and leaving with large amounts of things such as rope, knives and masking and duct tape. It was only caught on camera. We've sent a link of the footage to you. We hope that maybe you could help explain this bizarre occurrence to us. To our knowledge, the small robot got away without a trace.

We thank you again and hope that you are all doing well,

The Jump City Police Department"

Robin re-read the email. Tape, knives, and rope. It sounded like Mod was gathering supplies for something elementary. But why, of all things would he have caused such a distraction just to get away with simple things that he could buy? Didn't want to pay the bill? No. This wasn't right. There was no way that Mad Mod would have decided on such drastic measures for something so simple that he now didn't have since he was in jail. Robin sighed and looked around the room, newspapers adorning the walls.

A long night, that's what he was in for.

Flexing his fingers, Robin began to type. Information is what he needed. He'd tell the others in the morning.


A black limo came around the corner. Wintergreen had already packed his bags in the trunk. He stood in an overcoat, which really wasn't because of the weather. He opened the sleek car door and sat inside. He had a flight to catch. Wintergreen sat in front, driving.

"Sir, the mister Mad Mod, came through with your order," he said.

"I know," Slade answered, "I saw the news report. Alone, but he was capable of getting it done."

"Are you sure that it is... wise to be leaving so soon?" he asked.

"Do you doubt me, Wintergreen?" Slade questioned back, leaning forward, a smirk on his face, his blond hair falling slightly in his face.

"No," Wintergreen answered while turning a corner, "I just don't understand what sort of job Luthor hired you for would require you to be on the eastern half of the continent and have you hiring people from the western half."

"Well, that's easy, Wintergreen," Slade said, leaning back and taking out a copy of the Daily Planet, "He didn't assign me any such job. This is my own method."

"I see..." Wintergreen trailed off.

There was no doubt in his mind that Slade knew exactly what he was doing and, considering the fact that they were both going to Gotham, he was sure that he would find out eventually. He knew that Slade was being hired to take someone out, but he had no idea why it had to be this complicated. Come to think of it, Slade was never simple. Complex, calculated. That's what Slade was and how he always would be.

Slade knew that Wintergreen didn't understand. He couldn't kill Wayne just yet. It had to be under the perfect circumstances. The horror had to be right in his face. The end had to be screaming in his ears. There couldn't be resolution. The circumstances had to be perfect. This would take time and careful planning and while he didn't like working Jump when he was away, this time it would be necessary. It would be too much of a give away and take a much longer time. Plus, he could have the added advantages of the... unique element of criminality that Gotham had to offer.

Make no mistake, this plan would destroy Robin's world. It would shatter that boy like a mirror to a floor. The pieces, impossible to re-align. Mad Mod was useful this time. And he'd be rewarded for his service... eventually. In the meantime, there would be others. Others to get his dirty work done and as long as Luthor didn't intervene (which he wouldn't), there was no reason for this plan to not work. Some could call this sense of confidence, arrogance. But Slade was fully aware of how he sounded. That eliminated arrogance from the playing table. That left only an ace in the hole to remain and be played at the final round.

They pulled up to the airport. He stepped out and took a deep breath of that Californian sea air. He'd be back eventually and by that time, hopefully, his plan would almost be complete. But that was a ways away. Slade shrugged it off. That's the advantage that patience was.

Waiting, he could stand it.

Anticipation, well, that was another story...

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