When one sleeps, there's three things that can happen. The subconscious will take over our minds and allow for thoughts to surface. There are nights when this will not happen. That's the first thing that could happen. But when our thoughts surface, they bring to light very different things. Desires, answers, wants, and wishes. These will lead into the second thing: Dreams. But the third, it brings out the cold sweat that one can feel when they wake up and makes us shiver and shake under our own skin. Trauma, panic, stress, fear, and one's worst memories.
The third, a nightmare, that's what took hold of Dick's mind the night after the party.
Dick stood up in the mist around him. But he wasn't Dick at the moment. While dressed in a red and green tunic, green pants, black steel toed boots, a gold belt, and a cape, the mask that covered his eyes appeared to be normal. Robin looked around. It was dark, but he soon made his way up the steps from the cave below. Opening up the door, he found the main room of Titans Tower. It should have been Bruce's study in reality, but of course, this was a dream.
It was deserted and quiet as though no one had ever bothered to live there in the first place. But the objects scattered about begged to differ. Plates were broken and the couch was torn apart. The silver walls were falling down. Walking up to the cracked window, Robin gazed at his reflection that it made. He was alone and it scared him. He would have given anything to have his friends with him at the moment. He shivered from the cold – the draft got to him.
With a gasp, Robin turned around to stare the man in the face, his cold eye watching him like a hawk. He barely had time to react and he didn't for the sudden shock. Robin felt himself being pushed back into the glass which broke on contact. He screamed, but was caught off by his throat being tugged by the collar of his cape. The wind whipped his hair as he felt cold drops of rain begin to fall, slowly, but with increasing intensity. He grasped above his cape and looked up just in time to see Slade pull him up so that they were staring each other in the face. His feet still dangled and he could barely breathe.
"Are you scared, Robin?"
Robin attempted to growl but it came out as more of a choke. Slade chuckled and loosened his grip, making Robin hold on tighter, "You'll survive. I know that, but remember..."
Slade brought Robin up close so that he could faintly him whisper in his ear, "I'll find you no matter where you go."
Robin felt the man release the hold on his throat. He wasn't seeing spots, but that was no longer a bad thing. Robin saw the ground coming, but was too paralyzed to scream. No noise, nothing would come out of his mouth. His eyes darted upward where he saw a green light shine for a moment and then go out. He was falling with the rain, not a drop hitting him, just falling right beside him. Robin closed his eyes waiting for the impact of the cold muddy ground.
With a sudden shock, his eyes snapped open and Dick found himself sitting upright in his bed. The sun was streaking in from the windows warmly, indicating that it was still in the early morning hours. His pulse was quick and he could feel his heart pounding in his rib cage against his lungs. Closing his eyes, Dick bent his head down and counted to ten. 'One, two, three...It was a dream... four, five... eight... it was only a dream...ten.' He let out a deep breath and shook his head. So his nightmares were not average. Not really. But that was okay. He barely slept anyway.
Suddenly, he could smell breakfast cooking, Alfred's famous hash browns and ham-cheese omelets. No reason to wait. Jumping out of bed, Dick stretched and walked over to the bathroom where he patted his face with water to really wake himself up. Walking into his closet, Dick grabbed a pair of jeans and a black 'T'. After going back into the bathroom to spike his hair up, Dick took the short-cut downstairs and slid down the banister into kitchen.
"Morning, Alf," he said walking by the chief as he took his normal seat on the island.
Alfred paused, the nickname not a real favorite nor was the act of sliding down the banister like it was a toy, and replied, "Good morning to you too, Master Dick. And you slept well I assume?"
Dick toyed with his fork for a moment since there wasn't actually a plate in front of him and answered, "As well as I can expect, I guess."
Alfred nodded as he slid the omelet onto a plate and carried it over to Dick, "Good to hear. I was wondering though, how long are you planning on staying till that private school calls you back?"
Dick shrugged, "Thought I'd see Commissioner Gordon tonight and probably make the trip back tomorrow."
"A wise decision. And what will you be doing for the day?"
Dick had a mouth full of food, but answered anyway, "Be downstairs or watching TV, depends."
Alfred rolled his eyes and Dick gave him a 'sorry' look while continuing to eat. Mostly, mornings were spent in silence. Dick ate his breakfast and was about to go upstairs when he heard light footsteps coming inside. Clark came into the kitchen, his glasses off and in a pocket of his brown suit for work. Dick just wondered how Clark planned on explaining the soon to be 'wind-blown' appearance to his boss.
"Morning, Alfred. Bruce said I could pick up some breakfast down here before taking off," Clark told the butler, who smiled and began to prepare a plate.
Dick smiled too as he brought his plate to the sink, "Didn't know you were staying the night."
"Late party, you were the lucky one," Clark answered.
"You forget what I put up with I was younger," Dick responded, "I was always fidgeting. And the food tasted like raw squid or something."
Clark laughed, "true."
Alfred handed Clark a plate and he took a seat. He barely ever saw Clark and since he wasn't making any side trips to Metropolis tomorrow, he might as well talk to him now.
"So how's things back home?" he asked.
Clark looked up at him and swallowed, "Alright, but Luthor made bail and was acquitted of all charges. Ridiculous really."
Clark dove back into the breakfast as Dick continued, "sorry 'bout that."
"Not your fault," Clark said, cutting up the omelet. "How's everything going out in Jump with that team of yours?"
"Great," Dick replied, a bit of pride in his voice, "It's incredible. I love it. It's so interesting how once you really get started, you figure out how your teammates work and how to protect each other and work together. It makes fight strategies all the more easier."
"Who's on the team again? I keep losing track of them, sorry," Clark asked.
"It's alright, well there's Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Starfire," he answered.
"Starfire, she's the Tamaranian, right?" Clark inquired, but also while glancing over at the staircase briefly.
"Yeah, you've heard of them?" Dick answered, smiling.
"I've met them on occasion," Clark said, now looking back, "The Kryptonians and Tamaranians didn't interact much since they were so far away. But we've certainly heard of each other. They're amazing fighters."
"Star's great. She's a real advantage to have on the team. Plus, she loves Earth and loves being on the team," Dick replied, thinking back to his teammate and best friend. Clark thought that there was a tone in Dick's voice that sounded a bit happier, but didn't say anything about it.
"Well that's good." Clark finished his breakfast and also brought his plate over to the sink for Alfred, "I've got to run. Thanks for breakfast, Alfred. It was good as Ma's cooking."
"You are welcome, Mr. Kent," Alfred answered, "I'm so sorry that Master Bruce could not join us, but he's either still out or asleep upstairs."
"It's alright, I think we're all used to it," Clark replied, and he turned to Dick. "Don't kill yourself, Dick."
Dick rolled his eyes and sarcastically remarked, "Why would you ever think I'd do something like that?"
"Don't know. Good luck with the Titans." Clark smiled.
A beeping sound came from his pocket and he pulled out his phone just before he reached the door, "Clark Kent... Lois, Hi... oh...just swell... yeah, of course... well I... I don't know where Jimmy is... Yes, I'm just turning onto the street... "
Clark eyed the others and Dick was the first to get the message. Noise, the city. Grabbing a timer, he started to make it ring while kicking the wall (making Alfred's eyes nearly come out of his sockets in the process) and talking randomly and different pitches. Only after that did Alfred get the message and joined Dick in the process. Dick glanced at Clark hoping that the noise wouldn't hurt his ears. It wouldn't help since he was, after all, talking to Lois whom he happened to know Clark was quite, well, fond of.
But still, Clark now had to cover an ear, "Lois, now's not really the best time to talk... You did what? But... Luthor's party... I'm sorry that I couldn't... Of course, I already have that report on Wayne's. Look, I'll talk to you at the office, Lois, bye."
Clark leaned against the door as Dick and Alfred stopped making all of the noise, "I don't know what was louder, Lois or you guys."
"I can answer that."
The three turned to see a solemn Bruce in a blue robe on the steps. He didn't look happy, then again, he never did, but it was more than unhappy. It was annoyed and tired. Alfred looked to the side while Dick automatically bowed his head to the floor, ready for the lecture that he expected and would accept without complaint or comment.
"You can't wait a couple more hours for something like that?" he asked harshly.
"They were helping me avoid Lois, Bruce, that was my fault," Clark said, intercepting the blame before Bruce could assign it to someone else.
Bruce eyed him for a moment and then sighed, answering with little humor in his voice, "If you think you could remain quiet for a couple more hours, I'd appreciate it. I need a couple more hours if that is possible."
Dick continued to look at the floor as Bruce's gaze moved to him and then on to Alfred. Finally, Bruce headed up the steps ready to go back to sleep. Alfred shook his head and broke the silence.
"Not to worry about that. He went out after the party," Alfred told the two, but of course Dick already knew this. When did Bruce not go out at night?
Clark answered, "Thanks, Alfred. I'd better go, Chief'll be furious if I'm late. It was nice to see both of you."
Finally Dick spoke, "Good to see you too. "
Clark winked and then opened the door and left. Dick heard the wind against the door and knew that he was probably half way to Metropolis by now. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his head. Alfred began to load up the dishes and Dick took the opportunity to slip out of the kitchen unnoticed. It was only eight in the morning and he was already bored. He still didn't feel like going downstairs for a wake up call or to do work. It would be freezing.
So instead he wandered inside to the front where there were large sitting rooms with pianos and large plush couches. He finally found one with a Plasma screen where he grabbed the remote and collapsed on the couch. Maybe it's only because he was clicking the up button on the remote, but he wasn't as bored. Still though, nothing was on. And he couldn't even turn up the volume because Bruce needed his rest.
Dick groaned as he realized what he would be doing today. Going to Wayne Tower, the Enterprises, of course. That's what. He just had to make an appearance there... great, just great. That meant he couldn't read up on the updates in the computer data base. Well, he could always hope that Alfred would be up for saving him from going. But that possibility seemed out of the question. So for the rest of two hours, he'd watch TV. Then he'd get back into a suit and head out with Bruce to Wayne Tower. Total fun, really.
The trip back to Jump was uneventful, as it always was. The paper work had all been worked out and now it was time to go back to work. Slade opened the door and took off the large coat that he had been wearing, Wintergreen taking it without comment and hanging it up on the wall. A wardrobe change and he was in his... office. If you could call it that.
Dark, a bit cold, and the glow of monitors displayed in front of him. It was secluded, away from everything else. The place was almost empty except for a wide desk. Orange and black. The colors on his mask. His right eye looked around. Even the room knew its master. It was just like that. One couldn't explain why. It just was. Slade sat down and flexed his fingers. A keyboard raised itself up and out of the desk.
Before any assignment, there was always research to be done. Both on the employer and the target. On this occasion though, he already had enough information on his employer. Lex Luthor, business man or Lex Luthor, super-villain and arch-enemy of the Man of Steel. Everyone on the inside knew that. Luthor's concerns were not of any interest to him, he might be smart, but here, he was just hiring him to get an obstacle out of the way.
So he'd get it out of the way quickly. But he did need information on his target. Financial, business, associates, criminal accusations, family life, history, etc. All were essential. So naturally, the only place to start was on the web. He typed the name in and didn't have to wait long for his answer:
President and Owner of Wayne Industries and Enterprises
Click here to enter Homepage
Simple, but it gave him what he wanted. Yet this site was not what he was looking for entirely, not really. He'd have to dig deeper. Slowly, the hours began to pass as Slade began to search up and read old news reports, google, and wikipedia, while simultaneously hacking into other sources. He barely noticed the time pass though as there were no windows and the only way to tell time was from the clock on the screen in the corner. He remained undisturbed for sometime, but not forever.
A tap on the shoulder.
"Yes?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?"
"Work," he put simply.
"You're back from Luthor's party?"
"Yes, dull, as always, but I got some work out of it," Slade answered.
Too many questions, "You know, I believe that we agreed that you wouldn't come in here in the first place. You never even told me why you made this unexpected trip."
Nothing. He continued, "Why don't you exit my office? Once I can freely start questioning your motives for directly defying our agreement, I think then you can question what I do during my own time."
He felt the gaze of the other watch him and then the monitor. No sound once again, but the sound of a door opening and closing in stealth gave him the solitude that he wanted. It was harsh, yes. But still, he had work and nosy questions were never good in this sort of business. Slade's eye moved back to the screen.
"Bruce Wayne... Gotham City... inherited possession of... hottest bachelor on the market!... Dating Ms... new car design to be out in... charity donation given by..."
Tabloids and newspaper articles. It was a start. Somewhat... He needed more... secure details. And if he had to read one more gossip column, he could swear that he was going to lose his lunch. The details found in the files that were restricted and closely monitored by banks, the police, and business were what he needed. It wouldn't be a problem of course, and he could narrow down the tabloids to articles of actual importance soon enough. The only thing was that he wasn't actually interested in doing so. That was Luthor's problem, he may have wanted the best, but that didn't mean that he was actually going to get it the next day or even the next month.
By first glance, Wayne was going to be a hard target. Not only for his social status, but he wasn't a fool, either. Slade could certainly see that. He'd obviously paid someone to put every private document that even related to him in top security. No surprise, but he at least wasn't as mindless as he seemed in the tabloids that told the world he had picked up two blonds and had flown with them to Paris for some grand opening of a restaurant just for kicks. No, Wayne wasn't stupid, even if he acted like it at times. In some ways, that was annoying, but in others, it wasn't. He at least had an excuse for putting it off. This was going to bore him.
Slade stared at the picture of the thirty-something year old billionaire, his hired kill. This was going to be extremely dull and he already knew it. He was procrastinating too, but the mastermind figured that the sooner he got his research done the sooner he could ignore it and give Luthor an estimated date of when he could do it by. First step, security. Total fun, really.
He was right. Bruce didn't wake up till past one in the afternoon when Dick heard him take a shower, alerting Dick to change his clothes so that he wasn't as sloppy looking. In all honesty, Dick didn't exactly think that he looked 'sloppy', but he didn't argue since he realized that most of that came from the comment about his hair being spiked up. In private, Bruce allowed it, but never with guests outside of the superhero community. So, to avoid being told what to do, Dick went up the marble staircase and changed into something more presentable. AKA A collared button down shirt and beige pants.
When he got downstairs, Bruce was waiting and they drove off to Wayne Tower, not really talking. It wasn't that they didn't want talk. It was more so that there was nothing to talk about. Not as Bruce and Dick, anyway. Gotham traffic was horrible. That's what Dick kept thinking as Bruce tapped the steering wheel impassively. Finally, when they got to the Tower, Bruce pulled up to the front and had the valet drive the car around.
Before they got out though, Bruce glanced briefly at him, "The same rules remain."
"Yes, sir," Dick muttered, like he expected them to change. They never did.
The front desk woman greeted them and smiled when she noticed Dick. She looked at him like he was younger than he was and he knew it. It was always like this and, while he admitted that it might have been because he hadn't totally grown yet and was still on the short side, he blamed his combed hair for it. Because this had all happened before, he wasn't angry, and rather, he ignored her and the other secretaries that all seemed to eye Bruce, too. That was the real revolting part. Not that he minded, but it was just the way they did it. It was so obvious that he knew that Bruce would have noticed even if he wasn't the world's greatest detective.
When they finally got up to Bruce's office, Dick let out a sigh of relief and looked around. It had changed to something reflecting a twist in the styles of modern and old fashion. But that's all he bothered to notice before he walked over and sat down, one leg over an arm of the chair and took out his laptop from his bag and got onto AIM. Bruce cleared his throat and Dick sat upright in response. It was funny, almost. They still knew what the other meant when most people wouldn't even get it.
"You changed the place up," Dick commented.
"Renovations," Bruce answered.
Dick tried to at least hold a friendly conversation, even though he knew conversation in itself was an accomplishment. "So, what's Fox been up to? Anything new?"
"Mostly improving our current products," Bruce told him, while glancing over his schedule for the day, "I'm going to be in meetings most of the day. You know the drill. Just stay in here and don't do anything idiotic."
"You say that like you expect me to," Dick said, sarcastically.
"Breaking a Ming vase from China..." Bruce reminded then teen.
"I was ten!" Dick shot back, a bit surprised at the mere mention of the incident, "What do you expect from a ten year old?"
Bruce's eyes narrowed, "Nevertheless, just be smart."
Bruce was true to his word and was in and out of his office for the rest of the day. Dick didn't complain. Actually, he preferred it. The Ming vase... that's just plain dirty bringing something like that up. He was sixteen now for crying out loud. It was years ago. They barely spent three hours there and when they came home, they ate so quickly it shouldn't even have been called 'Dinner'. Silence was really what made everything go by so fast. Talking wasn't needed and wasn't entirely wanted anyway. The only conversation.
"Are you planning on going out tonight?" Bruce asked.
Finally, Bruce finished, as did Dick a couple of seconds later. They got up and went their separate ways to do anything that needed to be done beforehand. It took half and hour before they met back in Bruce's study. Dick had the two communicators in his hand now. Bruce eyed them. He didn't like it when Dick brought those out of the cave below. Dick paid him no heed. That was his choice, not Bruce's.
That's where Bruce opened the oak wood framed clock and turned the hands to. Automatically, the clock shifted and revealed a long narrow staircase. Bruce went first and Dick followed. It was cold and damp, just like he remembered it. The sudden chill made him fold his arms in an attempt to stay warm. It got darker. If he had not known all of the steps, he might have fallen or tripped. He could barely see Bruce's back anymore. Already the shadows were consuming him. Finally, Dick could see a faint blue glow coming from the bottom of the steps. The two finally emerged on the top level of an awesome structure built inside one of earth's own masterpieces: The Batcave.
Bruce walked instantly the opposite way while Dick turned and headed for the garage where his own bike had his bag on top of it. Grabbing it, he went to his changing room where Alfred had left his uniform resting on top of a bench. He had almost arrived late for the party the other night and so he had rushed to get changed, leaving everything scattered on the floor of the changing room.
After clipping the boots firmly into place, Dick grabbed his mask while looking up in the mirror. He nearly always did this alone, make the change from Dick to Robin. He could become Dick at anytime, but not the other way around. It was normally an expression. A reminder. One that said 'This is why I do this' and also, to an extent, 'This is who I am'. Ever since he was eight, he had had two identities. Two faces. But mostly, they merged together in his own mind. He felt the same either way. Robin was... essence. The purest element that made him, well, him. Dick was the one who took everything that daily life required of him to take.
Slipping on the mask, Robin walked out into the cave where he found Batman waiting for him at the supercomputer. Batman turned to face him, standing upright in acknowledgment of his presence for the briefest of moments. Most people, if they were to see the sight, would either wet their pants, freeze, or stare in awe. Intimidating, cold, unforgiving, calculated, dangerous, powerful. He wasn't human. That's what they saw. That's what everyone else saw.
It wasn't what Robin saw.
He saw a man trying to make the lives of others better. He saw a man, an extraordinary man, who was indeed powerful and dangerous, but there as a refuge, a safe zone to those who followed the law. There was something sad in the truth, too. He also saw that there was no face underneath the cowl. It was how Batman had always thought of Bruce Wayne, the mask. The only hope that Robin saw was that he could still see Bruce, even if it was only by tragedy. He sometimes thought that he was alone in this. He probably was.
He saw a man that had offered him refuge, a place to cry, and a person to become.
He saw his mentor. A mentor with whom he was fighting with.
Batman turned back to the computer and motioned for Robin to come over. One thing that he had realized when he came was that he was going back to being second in command. He never minded that as a kid, but now, it was harder because he felt more restraint, a lack of trust. It was the original reason why he had left.
"Do you have any of your own plans tonight?" his mentor asked gruffly.
"Tagging along with you?" Robin asked, dully.
Batman didn't look at him. He wasn't even listening to him. There was an incoming signal from the police and that took priority. Getting up, he jumped into the Batmobile. Robin jumped in as well and let the seat belt buckle automatically. This was one perk to being here. The car. He had to admit, he loved it. Not to degrade Cyborg's baby or anything, but this thing was by far the hottest set of wheels on the road. End of story.
There was a sudden jolt and Robin felt himself being pressed into the back of the seat as the engine ignited and shot them full speed ahead. Again, they didn't talk. Besides, it only took two minutes to get there. The car sped to a stop where the dynamic duo jumped out and the car switched to auto-pilot in the process. When he got out, Robin could clearly see Commissioner Gordon standing on the rooftop. Shooting up a grapple, he got up there first.
"Commissioner Gordon, what can we do for you?" he asked.
James Gordon looked over to see the young teenager standing on the ledge, "Didn't know you were in town."
"Specific case," Batman said, coming out of the shadows, "What's the problem?"
Gordon sighed, "Man-Bat, he got out of his cell in Arkham. Some guard was listening to a radio or something."
This was a little awkward for Gordon. He hated having to ask Batman to cover their blunders, but at the same time, he realized that Batman never held a grudge for it.
"Give your information to Robin, I'm going to see if I can track him down," Batman answered and jumped over the rooftop to who knows where.
Robin sighed. It figures that he'd get the file work. He normally would have complained, but he could catch up later, not that Batman actually expected him to. Plus, he hadn't talked to Gordon in a while anyway. They could catch up or rather catch up on as much as they could, secrets remaining secrets.
"So, you're saying that it was a CD player that made him go whacked?" Robin asked, walking over.
"Yes, you know how sensitive his ears are, they pick up..."
"...just about everything?" Robin finished, "Yeah, I thought as much. So basically it triggered that primal sense in him and he was able to transform once again."
"That's basically it, yes," Gordon answered, "Here's a copy of the file and the evidence is always open to you if you need it."
Robin took the file and browsed through it. The frown on his face only came because he knew that Batman could have waited just three minutes. But he didn't, and made him do that by himself. Gordon seemed to notice the look on Robin's face and broke the silence.
"Your team, I've read about them. Impressive," he commented.
"Huh? Oh," Robin said looking up at the Commissioner, "Yeah, it's going great out in Jump. The team's really getting edge and it's just been great now that people are actually starting to take us seriously. How's Barbara doing? Still in college, right?"
"She's alright, going through some transfers. Didn't like Gotham University," Gordon said, "She could have gotten a scholarship with her gymnastic skills, but she dropped out right before she could have tried out for it. A shame, but she doesn't seem to hampered by it."
The truth was, Barbara didn't try out because Batman had told her not to. The alleged Batgirl was on a break for college and that's why she wasn't around. Otherwise, Robin was sure that he might have not been left behind because of the dirty look Batgirl would have given Batman for doing so. The fact that she was not his ward and did not entirely have to follow his rules was always a hassle to Bruce, but proved helpful at times when she and Robin had wanted to prove their points. Needless to say though, Gordon knew nothing of this.
"That's good to hear," Robin answered, "Well, I'd better catch up to Batman, see ya soon, Commissioner."
Gordon watched as the young man ran over to the side. He half expected to hear a yell of enthusiasm, but instead heard nothing but the distant 'huht' as Robin pushed himself over in a leap and fell gracefully down into the shadows of the city skyscrapers in perfect form. He smiled. The kid was growing up. Quietly, Gordon shut off the signal and went inside to wait for news.
Robin waited in an alley until his R-cycle came around. It took only minutes, but it allowed him to just take a minute and enjoy Gotham's twilight hours. Breathtaking. That's what that time of night was. Soon, he heard the vroom of the R-Cycle's engine and jumped on as it sped around the corner. Following Batman's homer signal, he soon caught sight of Batman tailing Man-Bat in a glider chase above. Robin stepped on the gas. They were heading for a bridge. Accelerating even more, Robin jumped onto the bike and began riding up the sides. The wind against his face increased and as his focus narrowed, he felt adrenaline pumping through his body.
He was alive.
Man-Bat was paying close attention to his follower from the air and his heightened senses proved to be his downfall. There was a split second in which the bike was suspended in air before Robin leaped off of it while shooting himself through the air at a calculated speed, trying to go with the wind. Langstrom didn't notice until too late, when the two collided. The sound came back with Man-Bat's squeal. Batman quickly veered upward and held himself steady, only to look down and see Man-Bat squealing and falling, unable to support the added weight that was Robin. Robin began to tie Langstrom up.
Batman lowered himself down as he watched Robin shoot three grapples out at the bridge. Tying the ends to Man-Bat, the two quickly swung around and ended up underneath the bridge. The chase was over. Done. Complete, exactly as it should have been done. Exactly as he had been trained to do. Robin shook his head and jumped to underside of the bridge where he saw his mentor land, an obvious scowl on his face.
"What did you want me to do?" Robin asked, flinging his arms out, "It's what you would have done! It's not like Joker busted him out, anyway."
Robin pointed an accusing finger at Batman, but brought his arm down as Batman stepped closer to him, "You don't know that do you?"
Robin refused to look at him in the eye. This was really the only disappointment he could take. The one where Batman was mad at him for doing exactly what he would have done in the same situation. Yes, Batman could have just been tailing Man-Bat to see if he'd go anywhere special, but in the end, that could have easily been a trap as well. But that wasn't why the Dark Knight was disappointed. Batman said nothing before walking past him and looking over at Langstrom. Robin knew why he was mad. Or rather, not mad, but irritated. By doing that little stunt, his bike could have easily veered off of the bridge lines, hitting someone or a car below.
But he knew that. He had done the same thing tons of times. That's why he was mad. He'd done it and Batman still didn't trust him with it. And he probably never would at this rate. Gordon came by within twenty minutes, but by that time they were long gone. Riding his bike into the cave, Robin turned off the engine. Shaking his head, he walked over to the Batmobile where the left door was opening.
Handing the file over he said, "You're welcome oh, great, hero of the night."
"Turn it off," Batman shot back and took the file. He got out, his long cape sweeping the floor as Robin sighed once out of earshot. He can't quip anything anymore without making him mad. It was a joke, for crying out loud. His communicator rang and he pulled it out.
"Titans, what's up?" he asked, walking over to the stairwell leading back up to the computer.
"Dude! Help! Cyborg's trying to kick my butt and Raven won't do anything abo...!" Beast Boy yelled suddenly transforming into a turtle when Cyborg entered the scene.
"Guys, I'll be back tomorrow. Run to Starfire if you have to," he began.
"Don't give the rascal any hint of escape!" Cy yelled.
"Just let me get back there and find the Tower in one... piece..." Robin closed his communicator as he saw Batman glaring at him from the side. Silence, right.
"They're asking you to settle an argument?" he asked.
Robin straightened his posture, "Nothing big, just a phone call really."
Disapproval. Robin's eyes narrowed under the mask, "Look, you can stop giving me those looks. I'm gonna be gone tomorrow and I know you'll be happy about it anyway."
Ripping off the mask, Dick walked back to the changing room with all intentions of doing anything but talking to Batman for the rest of the night. In fact, sleep actually sounded like a good thing for once. Batman did nothing but continued to read over the file. When he got up to his room, Dick slammed the door shut. If there was anything that he wanted now more than ever, it was to be anywhere but here. Anywhere. He ripped off his shirt and kicked off his shoes before falling onto his bed. The night crept on. Hours...
Dick hit the alarm clock and got up. Five in the morning. Good. Bruce wouldn't be up at this time. He grabbed his bags that he had packed the previous night. He'd change probably somewhere on the road. He began to carry his stuff down the steps, looking around. He wasn't going to say good-bye. He hadn't before. And after last night, it was out of the question. He did feel bad about leaving and not saying bye to Alfred, though. So, making a quick stop in the kitchen, he dropped off a letter just saying thanks and that he'd keep in touch.
Again opening the old grandfather clock and putting the hands at 10:47 PM, Dick opened the passage way downstairs. He grabbed his uniform and put it in a backpack, while stuffing his bags into the seat of his motorcycle in camouflage mode. The place was quiet. From above, he could hear the bats squeaking a bit. Unnoticed coming in, unnoticed coming out. It made things easier this way. He grabbed his helmet and pulled it over his head. It fit snugly and held him tightly as though trying to brace him for the sensation that was about to come.
He swung his leg over the handle bars, letting the gears shift at his touch. And with that, he suddenly shot off towards the holographic wall leaving only the sounds of the engine's echo and a bunch of squealing bats. He felt his gray T whipping around him as the wind speed increased. It hit him everywhere, waking him fully. He didn't look back. Wayne Manor had been his home. 'Had' being the key word. It really wasn't anymore. Home was where his friends were. Home for him, well, it was a big tower shaped like a 'T' and that's exactly where he was going.
It had taken nearly all night, but finally, he had gotten to the last topic. Personal History. A compilation of defining moments in Mr. Bruce Wayne's life. Like there would be much of any. From what he had seen so far, he wasn't surprised by what he found and didn't expect to be. Wayne seemed to be the type of business owner who actually had his head on straight... unlike Luthor. He had nothing against Luthor, except for the fact that he could be annoying. But when you add in the fact that he is regularly trying to destroy the Man of Steel at least three times a week while the chances of that were one in a billion, well, Wayne looked sane and competent.
He'd already known about Wayne's parents being killed. Crime Alley, sounded like a real friendly place. Age eight. That had to be hard, but it explained all of the charities. After his parents died, he was taken in by Alfred Pennyworth, the butler of the family. The picture of the young child from the paper was haunting to anyone. Tear stains. You could see the black and white tear stains. You could see the dirt on his clothes and face. You could see it. It was scary almost, disturbing. A child that young crying for such a reason... A clear call saying "What has the world done?" Well, at least he'd get the chance to say hi to his parents after this.
He liked to travel and do speed racing. Not uncommon at all, at least for the people who could afford that kind of stuff. He traveled across Asia, Africa, everywhere from the looks of it. Gone for at least seven years. Couldn't blame him for it. Who'd want to stay in Gotham for that long after what happened? Must have come back to deal with the family business. Seize the day, that was almost his motto for the next several years. Nothing new except for what Wayne Industries put out.
Slade clicked on a link. A bunch of pictures of Wayne at charity events and special events popped up. He began to quickly scan through them, reading the captions at the bottom. It became boring looking at Wayne just smiling so care free that when a new person came into view, he almost missed it. Almost.
About two thirds of the way through, a boy, not even a teenager, a boy, came into the pictures, repeatedly. Black hair, blue eyes, the biggest grin on his face, he looked like Wayne, but he didn't. He finally found a caption that told him the boy's name: Richard or "Dick" Grayson. He was familiar... Slade google searched Richard "Dick" Grayson, the year, and clicked photos. The result made his eye widen for the first time in hours.
Just cover the eyes...
Slade stopped the massive search and pulled up another giant file labeled "Jump City". Inside, he clicked, "Teen Titans", and again inside, "Robin, the Boy Wonder", who some would say was his arch-enemy. A photo jumped up to the screen and Slade couldn't tear his eye away. He remembered a time when the boy had worn his colors and had been his apprentice. He had almost been able to force the boy to call him 'master'. Almost. If it hadn't been for his friends' interruption. The boy was incredible. A skilled marksman, a one-man SWAT team, detective, martial artist, leader, and he had all of the potential in the world. The perfect prodigy. How he hated him for getting away, for ruining everything, for being the only flaw in his plans.
He brought up Grayson's photograph again. Same facial structure, same hair, same complexion, even the same ears for crying out loud. Slade googled searched "Richard Grayson" and was rewarded by titles such as "Haly's Circus", "Flying Graysons Murder", "Wayne's Charity Case Of The Year", and more. He clicked the second. The boy's parents were dead.
Slade stopped and leaned back in his chair. Richard's parents were dead. Wayne's parents were dead. Both murdered. Gone for seven years. A trained acrobat. Robin was Richard Grayson, Bruce Wayne's ward and that could only mean. Batman. He had been hired to kill Batman. Batman. Batman! The irony in it. It took a moment to process. Maybe Wayne's murder wouldn't be so dull. Maybe he had been wrong. This time, he hoped that he would be. And maybe, just maybe, this could work to his advantage.
A smile spread across his masked lips. It was a good thing that Luthor had given him so much time to complete this contract. He'd need it. The gears started to turn faster in his head now. Killing Batman. Wow, the concept of it all... He actually had to fight to suppress the laugh growing in his throat. Robin's world was about to be sent for spin.
This was going to be fun.