Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chapter Twenty: Insanity

Chapter Twenty: Insanity

Over the next week, Dick got into a routine, as did Adeline, the Titans, and the rest of the super hero community. Dick would often get up late to find a note and breakfast on the table, as Ms. Kane left early for work. He would occupy his time with doing research and on occasion chilling out with the remote in hand. Around five, he'd call Ms. Kane and ask what he should do for dinner and by ten, he'd fake going to bed and he'd been running around in Gotham by eleven with the Titans by his side.

Lately, it had been pretty quiet. He and the Titans often spread out over the city to take care of the scum throughout the nights, occasionally teaming up and starting a rouge menace. Even during the day, Dick found himself sneaking out a few times to see what he could do during the day. However, the most he and the other Titans really did was talk to Sawyer about seeing the Joker, who said that most likely by tonight, they could get at least one of the Titans down to talk to him. Robin had then gone home early after that, ready to get a few more hours of sleep. He knew he had been stressed and so sleep was calling him. When he woke up and looked out the window, he was surprised that he had actually been able to get up so early.

He didn't complain though, and hopped out of bed and went down the stairs to the kitchen, but the smell made him raise a brow. Running down, Dick looked at the stove, on which eggs and sausage were cooking. The thing missing? The person cooking them. That's when he heard something coming from around the corner. A 'huht' sort of sound, that kept repeating and came from an open door.

Slowly, Dick opened the door, to find it leading to a basement below and a glow from light coming from below as well. Dick walked down the steps and as soon as he turned the corner, he saw probably the most unexpected thing that he had seen all week. In the basement was a large collection of equipment for working out and at the moment, Ms. Kane was using one of the machines to work her... very well toned muscles.

As Dick's jaw dropped, Adeline stopped her workout to look over at him, "Oh, morning, Dick? Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes."

When he didn't respond and his look of shock didn't vanish, Adeline added, "You okay, Dick?"

It took a moment for him to put his thoughts into words, but he finally managed to with, "You're, you're a body builder?"

Adeline laughed, "Hardly, but I do work out in the morning. I get up early to do so and wake myself up. This stuff's mostly just left over from when I was younger."

Dick resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Did all of Bruce's family have unusual basements? Well, at least it wasn't a Batcave. Nothing could surprise him over that though, but this was still pretty shocking. Almost annoying, too. He could bet that if he had just known about this, Ms. Kane would have let him use this stuff during the day. As Ms. Kane went back to her work out, Dick looked around the walls, on which were framed awards. As he looked closer, he noticed that many of them were government issued. As Ms. Kane got up and grabbed a towel, Dick glanced over at her.

"You were in the Army?" He asked.

"Oh, yeah, long time ago," Adeline told him, "My father was a soldier and I just inherited that part of him."

"How long did you stay?" Dick asked and pointed to one medal, "It says here you were a captain."

Adeline looked over at the medal and sighed, "Yeah, I was. I trained special agent troops in the Army. I guess I must have stayed for a good number of years, not sure how many though."

"Oh," Dick said, "That where you got the, uh, exercise routine from then?"

Ms. Kane walked over to the stairs with a nod, "Yeah, I suppose so. I was always pretty athletic though. Come on, I don't want breakfast to burn."

Dick followed Ms. Kane back up to the kitchen area where she began to serve up both of them the eggs and sausage. Dick sat down at the island as Adeline handed him a dish and they began to eat. Dick watched Ms. Kane at out of the corner of his eye as they ate their breakfast. Perhaps that was the first real wake up call for him. He still knew hardly anything about her. They just didn't get the chance to talk much, but he probably should be making an effort.

"Ms. Kane?" He asked.

"Yes, Dick?" She answered.

"Um, I, what... I really, I really don't know that much about you," Dick told her.

Adeline chewed her food thoughtfully and replied, "That's my fault, Dick. I'm not always very open about myself."

There was a pause when Dick asked, "Why?"

Adeline mulled it over in her head, "I guess... Some things are just painful, that's all."

"What wasn't?" Dick asked.

Adeline laughed, "I suppose there were good times."

Dick paused and then asked, "Your sons? What were they like?"

Adeline looked at him a bit surprised, "Oh, well, different as night and day. My oldest was really strong headed. My younger son was a real sweetheart. I don't know..."

Dick watched as Ms. Kane went into almost a trance. Her eyes were glassy and seemed to lock up memories, both good and bad. A small smile tugged at her face, but wasn't strong enough to appear fully. Dick took a couple bites of food, thinking. Finally Adeline stood up with a sigh and put her dish in the dishwasher.

"I've got some work to do while I'm home today, okay Dick?" She asked.

"Sure," He answered, "Think I could use the equipment downstairs?"

"Of course," She told him, "Go for it."

Dick smiled lightly as the two parted. He hadn't expected much from that, but he could tell that she certainly had a whole different side to her. He looked over at the door towards the basement and shrugged. He had to admit, as odd as the basements were, he really could never complain.

Adeline heard Dick running downstairs within minutes of sitting down at her desk. Wayne Industries was becoming a frenzy. It was absolutely ridiculous in many ways. She sat back in her chair and ran a hand through her hair and down her face. Of all things too, it had to be a vigilante. A vigilante. The one thing she probably hated more than anything else in the world. Grabbing a key from under her chair, Adeline took it and unlocked one of her filing cabinets. But she wouldn't pull it all the way out. She couldn't.

Adeline shut her eyes and took out the key. How many times had she learned this. The likelihood that it was him... There were plenty of others. It was just her own paranoia. That's what it had been before. When was the last time that they had actually crossed paths. Probably right before... She shook her head and bit her lip. Dick didn't know how much his presence brought back memories. He didn't know how much she enjoyed his voice because it was just there and it was kind. She couldn't just throw away his safety on a paranoia. Adeline began to work.

On a shelf inside her office, one picture sat upon it. Two boys smiled with her in the photo. One with curly blond and one with blond silk for hair. Those boys, she'd never see them again. They were lost because their innocence was lost before they could really be kids. Dick deserved more than that. Vigilantes wouldn't ruin that. She would make sure of it.


The Titans had never seen Robin so awake in their entire lives. No, scratch that, they had never seen him so aware of every detail in their entire lives. It wasn't even gradual. It was just that night. It was like he hadn't been sitting around all day. Which, of course, he hadn't. After finding out about Ms. Kane's stash of equipment, Dick had spent all day downstairs, working his muscles. Maybe that was a good thing, considering he wouldn't have as much of a chance tonight. As they zoomed through Gotham, Cyborg and Beast Boy took note of Robin's... knack for almost showing off.

As they headed farther into the city, Cyborg began to notice a change in direction, "Yo, B, you recognize this area at all?"

"Don't look at me, dude," Beast Boy said, weirded out by the surrounding setting, "Least Robin seems to know where he's going."

"At least that's one thing we can be sure about," Cyborg said.

"The guy's turning into an animal," Beast Boy commented, not in a positive tone either.

Cyborg kept up the speed while the girls flew between the two vehicles. Starfire's gaze drifted from building to building as they passed through the streets of Gotham. She began to notice that things seemed to be getting less friendlier as they went.

"Raven, where exactly are we?" Starfire asked.

Raven looked at her from under her hood, "Nowhere I really want to be, Starfire."

Starfire's worried look turned to almost panic as she looked ahead at Robin, "You, uh, you do not want to be here?"

Raven blew a random strand of hair out of her face, "Well, do you?"

"Um, well, no," Starfire answered, "It seems as though to get the worse as we... Ekkk!"

Starfire stopped in front of a large gate, that seemed to spring up from the ground. It was a strong, formidable structure, with vines wrapping themselves around it. Starfire instantly flew back towards Raven and the others. Beyond the gate was a large building, with bars on every window, from which lights flickered and shadows mocked the sane. The most disturbing thing perhaps, though, was that Robin was walking towards the gate where the sign read 'Arkham Asylum'.

"Come on," He said, not looking back at his team members, who at this point were wondering if Robin was about to check himself in.

They followed hesitantly past the walled-up borders and after their leader. It was pretty quiet, actually. That is until someone cackled from inside, making all four of the other Titans tense or squeal in fright. Robin however, didn't seem to notice. In fact, he didn't. He was very used to this by now. He found Detective Sawyer at the front as she said she would be while the four Titans hung in the background listening.

"Thanks for letting us in here, Detective," Robin told her.

"Not a problem," Sawyer said professionally, "You think that you can actually get Joker to talk, though?"

"I'll have to," Robin said.

Sawyer raised a brow as she looked behind him at the rest of the Titans, "Robin, can I talk to you for a moment... alone?"

He looked back at his teammates and nodded, walking off with the Officer to a corner, "What is it, Detective?"

"I was assuming that it would be just you and the Batman," She said, "I was able to wrangle two visitation passes, not five."

Robin kept a stone-face, but Sawyer could tell that he hadn't thought of that for some reason, "Robin... Where is Batman? Even the Commissioner has noticed..."

"He's working on another lead, an international one, Ra's Al Ghul and what not," Robin explained quickly, "The Titans and I are working on local leads."

"Oh..." Sawyer left, "I, sorry, Gordon was just a little... concerned. The night that Wayne died, he was just really... yeah, sorry, alright, that explains it. Well, in any case, I still can't get all of you rights for a visit tonight. Why don't you decide amongst yourselves then."

"Sounds fine with me," Robin said, turning around and walking back to his team.

"Well?" Beast Boy asked when they saw Robin coming over to them.

"Me and someone else," Robin stated, "That's the final line."

The four Titans looked from side to side at one another, but Cyborg was the first to speak, "I nominate Raven."

"I motion the second," Starfire said.

"Wait, what?" Raven asked.

"I don't think that's such a bad idea, to be honest," Robin informed her.

"But why me?" Raven questioned.

"Well, you, uh, got the best people skills," Beast Boy said.

Raven looked at him like he was crazy when Starfire interrupted, "I think what friend Beast Boy means to say, is that you have quite the way with making the doers of evil talk."

"No," Raven said flat out.

"Come on, Rae, why not?" Cyborg asked.

Raven looked down at the floor, away from the others, "I don't like it here."

"Why?" Beast Boy asked, "Like, we all hate it, but it's not going to get worse, right?"

"This place houses the criminally insane, Beast Boy," Raven answered, "I will not go down there."

Beast Boy was taken back by this, but then softened his position, "Alright, well, I guess I can see that..."

Cyborg however was not going down so easily, "Raven, come on, we've got to get Joker to talk. Who else has experience with this sort of thing?"

"What about any of you?" Raven shot.

Cyborg continued, "Rae, we're all a bit creeped out by this guy, but seriously, what can we do with him that you can't do better?"

Raven looked from each of her teammates to Robin. She felt, rather than saw why she was being nominated over others. Starfire didn't want, or maybe felt she couldn't stand seeing Robin's possible actions while down there. Beast Boy wasn't exactly... going to be much help, considering his expertise was better spent in the field, not in the mental hospital. Robin shook his head.

"Look, Raven, no one has to go with me. And I'm sure the they'll at least let you guys stay out in the halls so that you can be close by," Robin assured her and then added, "Guys, none of you have to come, either."

"It is not that Robin, we will come," Starfire started.

"Look, why don't I go in then," Cyborg offered, "I mean, as long as the others are right outside..."

Robin nodded and called over to Sawyer, "Cyborg and I will go in, but can the others be within the vicinity?"

She nodded, got them the passes, and then led them down the long hallways. They all sort of wished at that point that they had stayed behind. The walls were made of stone and smelled of mold, while the lights inside flickered and some of the inhabitants spat at the five teens as they passed by. Each of them kept an eye on their heels, as though they had just stepped into a minefield. Then, a loud crazed cackle echoed down the hallway, causing three of the Titans to tense in fear. The other two just dealt with it. One better than the other. As they passed by several doors, Raven kept away from the doorways, as though they were poison. Soon, up ahead, the six people spotted Harvey Bullock. Raven stopped as another laugh rang out from the door way ahead.

"Friend Raven?" Starfire asked, "Are you okay?"

Raven put a hand to her head, "I'm fine."

"That's good, you'll have to stand out here for however long we get stuck there," Bullock told her as Raven's eyes widened, "Who's going in?'"

"I am," Robin told him.

"Well, duh," Bullock pointed out, "I meant which one of your teammates are going in with ya."

"That would be me," Cyborg stepped forward.

"'Kay, be careful in there," Bullock said, going for the door.

"He's got a straight jacket on, but keep an eye on him, alright?" Sawyer warned.

Cyborg raised a brow, but once he was inside, he saw what she was talking about. On the floor, a barefoot man sat in the shadows. But he could still see the eyes and the smile, that stretched up way past what would be considered normal into his cheek bones.

"Oh! I have guests! Do I?" The man laughed, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Robin stepped forward with Cyborg behind him, "It's time to talk."

"'Bout what should we talk about? Hehe," Joker laughed, "By the way, maybe you should think about a diet, Tin man."

As Joker laughed, Cyborg looked down. It's not like he could even gain or lose weight, so why was that so funny? As Robin began to ask the Joker questions, Cyborg soon learnedthat nothing the Joker said made any sense. Outside, the other three Titans and the two cops waited. Starfire kept a close watch on the door. It made her heart race to think of what was going on inside. Sawyer and Bullock sat back, as though used to the uncomfortable creaking that ran through out the building. Beast Boy kept his eyes on everyone around him and any form of life that happened to pass by. Believe it or not, a couple mice ran by as though it were natural. He was sure that it was.

One ran past his feet towards Raven. She shuffled her feet away from the creature and kept her hood and cloak surrounding her tightly. He raised a brow at her. Raven felt herself becoming weaker the longer she stayed. She really hated it here. She hated Gotham. All of the woes and pains. She felt it all and she was compelled to keep it within her, rather than let others suffer. And in here... It was much worse. Now there wasn't just pain. There was sick joy. Like that of her father's. And she couldn't stop it, because the people here, the people here were insane and she couldn't cure that.


Raven clutched her head at hearing the Joker's laugh and fell to her knees. "Raven!" Beast Boy rushed over to her as Starfire turned to look inside. Cyborg blocked her view. Raven held her hand up to Beast Boy, telling him to stop. The other two cops looked at her as she struggled to get up.

"Where's the exit?" She asked, keeping a hand on her head, afraid that two extra eyes might pop up any time if she didn't leave soon.

Bullock got up and went over to her, "Come on, I'll show you."

"I'll come with you," Beast Boy offered.

"No!" She ordered and then, after seeing his startled face, added on a lighter, kinder note, "You're needed here."

"You will be alright, friend Raven?" Starfire asked.

Raven paused for a moment and then answered, "I will."

As Bullock led the hooded girl down the hallway, he kept an eye on her. He hated to admit it, but he really didn't know much about her, or any of the Titans save for Robin. But she looked... stressed, like something was out of her control, to such an extreme for her.

"You really going to be okay?" Harvey asked as they reached the main hall.

"I... will be," Raven told him, "I... I am particularly prone to the emotions and moods of other people, even places. Arkham is... no, Gotham... This place is..."

Raven paused trying to gather her thoughts, "It's consumed with an evil far beyond that of other places... I hate being here. It reminds me too much of a demon's house."

Bullock nodded with a small smirk, "Guess that's why we've got bat's here. He can put up with it."

Raven winced, "Yeah, I guess so."

Deep within Arkham, nothing was really getting any better. Robin was starting to get annoyed. Joker was, by now, rolling over on the floor laughing. They hadn't gotten any useful information out of him as it was and the comments about how crazy teens were these days were starting to lose their humorous element. Then again, they hadn't been funny to begin with.

"What'sa matter Birdy Boy?" Joker asked, "You didn't actually think that I'd take the little boy in tights seriously now, did ya?"

Cyborg saw Robin's face turn into a scowl. Robin yelled and grabbed Joker by the straps of the straight jacket while Cyborg stepped back.

"Since when do you ever take anyone seriously, Joker?" Robin asked.

"Since I checked in to get cured, doc!" Joker answered, laughing like a maniac.

Then Cyborg heard Robin do something that actually worried him. A sound started softly and then became a rich chuckle, escaping from Robin's throat.

"That's, heh, a good one Joker," Robin told him.

"Isn't it?" Joker laughed.

Robin had decided to changed tactics, "It is. Here's another funny one, though, heh, I think you might have heard the punch line, heheh. Who hired you?"

Joker smiled, "Oh, guy I met at a party, big guy, that's who."

"Really?" Robin said, "So you have heard it. How about this one, Who is Ravager?"

"That's easy, a hired water gun," Joker laughed.

Robin continued, "By who? Who hired him?"

That's when the progress ended, "That's a horrible joke."

"Joker, come on!" Robin yelled, roughly.

"Acting like him doesn't make you him, Bat-boy," Joker told him, "You're still just a kid."

"Who hired him, Joker?!" Robin yelled again.

Joker kicked out at Robin, but he dodged easily. Cyborg stepped forward as Robin threw Joker to the ground.

Joker shook his head, "You think throwing me's gonna get me to talk, brat?"

Robin looked down at him, "No, but you've done enough."

Cyborg watched as Robin went to the door and called out to Sawyer, who opened the door for Cyborg and Robin. But only Cyborg made it out before Robin shut the door again.

"What?" Cyborg turned before seeing the door slam.

He was going to ask Robin what all of that had been about, but now he was more worried about Robin being in there alone. Inside the cell, Robin stood once again in the shadows, his eyes narrowed and his cape over his shoulders. Blending with the shadows, Joker watched as his guest change his disposition. In an instant, Robin grabbed the Joker by the throat with one hand and held him against the wall.

"One last joke. Where's Ravager?" Robin questioned.

Joker gasped for air and then answered bitterly, "Probably where all the hired guns go, kid."


Joker only smiled at him and began to choke as he laughed. Robin let him go and went for the door again as Joker stood up. He was right about to open the door when he heard Joker whisper to him over his shoulder.

"You want to hear a real joke, kid? Do ya? I'm going to kill ya one day. I'm gonna kill you. I'm going to beat you with a crow bar. And I'm gonna beat ya again. And then, heh, and then, I'm going to blow you up, kid. Heh, right in front of your mommy. Just to make sure you're really dead. How's that sound kid? How's that for a joke?" Joker told him, repressing laughter.

Robin looked over at him and rolled his eyes, "Please, Joker, like you could really do that."

"Oh, yeah, kid? Oh yeah? I'm gonna kill you all. You and every single one of your team..."

Robin left the room and shut the Ace of Knaves inside the cell once again. As he emerged, the others noticed his change in posture, as though the whole questioning had taken it all out of him. All of that previous energy. Gone. And his mind swirling with new information. And new threats.

Starfire walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder, "Robin?"

He was quiet for a moment before he answered, "Let's go."

Sawyer was about to say something, but before she could, Robin walked off. He knew the way out. Getting out to the R-Cycle, Robin hopped on before half of the Titans knew where he was going. Cyborg and Raven decided to ride in the car while Beast Boy and Starfire followed from behind. It was unnaturally silent right now. Save for the splashes of puddles, the Titans seemed to glide through the streets aimlessly. But Robin knew where he was going. He almost wished that he could lose them so that the others didn't.

He almost succeeded. He had sped ahead and was able to park the R-Cycle as he jumped to the rooftops. Robin knew that they would catch up, find him by his locater signal. He hardly ever turned it off intentionally these days anyway. Finally, he found what he was searching for. Brief solace. The Boy Wonder's masked eyes glided slowly over the city's landscape. There were so many places that Ravager could be hiding. And wherever he wasn't, someone else was. People like the Riddler, Penguin, and Killer Croc. Robin shook his head.

He couldn't keep them here. It was unfair to them. It wasn't their responsibility. Gotham was... Robin felt himself tense almost unwillingly. It was his to protect now, wasn't it? It was. It was... He had enough for now. Gotham wasn't doing terribly. At least, not at the moment. And if it ever got bad, then he could call in others. But to keep them here, to keep his friends here, it wasn't right. It just put them in all the more danger and he couldn't risk that.

Robin heard them flying and jumping up to the top of the building. He had to tell them now. They'd have no chance at winning the argument.

"Dude," Beast Boy panted, "What... what was that for...?"

Robin didn't answer them and only glanced at them from the corner of his eye, "Sorry, I had to think for a moment."

"About what, man?" Cyborg asked.

Robin sighed, but kept his eyes ahead and away from them, "About keeping you here."

"What?" Starfire questioned.

Why did she have to ask that? Why her?

"You've been away from Jump for a month," Robin told them, "You're needed back there."

"What about you, dude?" Beast Boy asked.

Robin kept quiet again, but eventually answered as the wind hit them, "I'm staying here."

"But... why?" Starfire asked, panicked.

"Yeah, man," Cyborg added.

"Come on, guys, think about it. I'm living with Ms. Kane. I know that... I know that Batman could have probably given up being... his other self. But I can't. I'm just a minor and I can't do anything about it. Besides, Gotham needs someone," Robin explained.

"So get Superman," Beast Boy suggested.

Cyborg continued, "Yeah, or one of the other guys from the Justice League. They could all take turns or what not. 'Sides, after seeing you in there with Joker, you... It's just not a good idea, man."

"Robin, I must agree with the two morons," Raven told him, "It's not right that you should have to stay alone here."

"I'll be fine," Robin countered.

"No," Starfire said suddenly, "You will not."

Robin turned to her as she continued, "You have not been okay since you have arrived here. You have been the depressed and... you have not been yourself."

Robin didn't say anything as Raven added, "Robin, this place is dangerous. I can feel it. It's like... it's like the evil is rooted into the ground."

Robin shot back, "You forget, I've been trained to live in this place. I know how to live here, to protect myself and others."

"So what?" Beast Boy asked, "It doesn't matter what you've been trained to do, man. It's about what the risks are."

"Exactly," Robin said, "Which is why I want you all to go home."

"We're not leavin', man," Cyborg said.

"No way," Beast Boy added.

"I third that decision," Raven added.

Robin was starting to get frustrated, "You'll go. You don't need to be here and thus, I'm pulling the Titans out. Jump needs you more than Gotham does."

"But you need us more than Jump does, Robin," Raven said.

Somehow, that was just the wrong thing to say. Robin finally turned to them all, furious. He wanted them gone. Every second, every moment, it was too much.

Robin said, "I'm not defenseless, Raven. And I want you all to go."

"Robin..." Starfire started.

"Leave!" He yelled, "Go!"

The four Titans stepped back. They watched him. They watched their leader stand, rooted firmly into his strong stance, unyielding to any argument. Robin was right, they couldn't win. Slowly, the Titans began to back down.

"Fine man," Cyborg said.

"Don't get killed," Raven added.

Beast Boy followed sadly behind them as Robin turned to look back at the city. He didn't realize that there was still someone behind him. That is, until the wind blew. And he heard her walk over.

"Robin..." Starfire started, placing a hand on his shoulder.

He turned at her touch, holding her fingers in his hand, "I'm sorry, Star. But this is for your own good."


Robin shook his head at her. Starfire looked at the ground and then up at him. What she did next was instinctive. Star immediately wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him gently. Robin was surprised at first, but then melted. He found himself slowly bring an arm around her back pulling her closer to him. Starfire felt small tears welling up in her eyes, but she wouldn't let them fall. This just worried her so much.

"You would promise me..." She whispered.

"Promise what?" He whispered back.

Starfire pulled back and pushed a stray hair strand back and answered, "You will call us; if you need anything? If we can help?"

Robin's stone look softened slightly, "Of course, I will. There's no one else I'd call first."

Starfire nodded and then turned to go. Before she could walk far, she heard him call her.

"Stay safe, Star."

She turned to look back at him, "I will, Robin. You, please, do the same."

Robin nodded as he watched the last Titan leave him that night. Slade watched as well. Perfect. Just perfect. Robin sighed as he turned back to the city's landscape. He heard the clock tower sound. It was still early and he knew that he should still be working. Jumping over the roof and down to another while he ran across that one. He began to become a blur. He was able to stop a couple crooks here and there and he quickly put Firefly back on the ground for the cops to collect. The night though... it was much quieter than it had been in a while. Robin wondered if this was what it was like for Bruce before Bruce took him in. The dead silence of it all.

Eventually, around three or so, Robin decided to call the R-Cycle and get back to Ms. Kane's. He could feel his arms again as he climbed through the window to his room and his feet began to burn and tingle. His chest hurt as he fell onto his bed and attempted to pull up the covers. But even then, he couldn't focus on his own exhaustion. Instead, his mind kept racing with thoughts about Gotham, Ravager, and his friends. He didn't know when he fell asleep, but at some point, he did.

He got up from his bed and walked to the doorway, to find himself back inside Bruce's office. Someone was by the desk. Slowly, Dick walked over, careful not to make a sound. They looked so familiar. And yet, somehow, Dick didn't trust his own judgment.

"Bruce..." He asked, before reaching out a hand to tap the figure on their shoulder.

"Not a chance, kid!" Ravager spun around and grabbed him by the wrist.

Like that, Dick felt himself being thrown against the wall and onto the ground. Dick groaned and shook his head, but when he opened his eyes, he saw himself in an all too familiar situation. He was on a small square board, raised high above the ground and in front of him were two wires, the top wires from which the bars swung. And right in the middle of them, was Bruce, looking at him, like it was nothing. Dick shook his head.

"Bruce... No... Get back, get off of it!" He called.

But right as he said it, he saw flames lick at the wires. Dick looked away from the hot and intense light. But then he heard the crack and the gun shots. Dick looked behind him and saw that he was on the floor and the wet liquid that he felt reaching his fingers was blood. Dick shut his eyes and bit his lip.

"Bruce..." Dick whispered, but as he turned to see what he could only imagine was Bruce, he gasped.

It wasn't Bruce.

His four friends lay crumpled on the floor, a different murderer above each one of them. Anthony Zucco above Beast Boy. The man that had killed his parents. Two Face above Cyborg. The first to wake him up to the dangerous reality. Ravager above Raven. Someone that could kill without a second thought. And finally, Joker above Starfire. A maniac plague. That's when he heard slow clapping. Looking above his head, Robin saw Slade standing above him.

Slade chuckled, "How can you save a city, Robin, when you can't save yourself?"

Robin looked from him to the other four villains who came forward, each with their weapon of choice. Robin got up and ran. He felt his face stinging with tears. Finally, he found a ditch and fell into it to hide. Dick tried to catch his breath when he noticed something. The ground he was sitting on was too... smooth to be natural. Dick looked down and saw that he was sitting atop a coffin lid. He looked upwards and saw on the tomb stone, a figure. The stone read: RIP: Bruce Wayne, but Batman stood above it. Dick held a hand up, as though afraid of the ghost's uniform.

"Bat... Batman...?" Dick asked.

Then he heard laughter again. This time, from all of them. They came closer. And closer. And just as he saw their faces, the uniform lost i's shape and began to glide, fall over him. The darkness... it was too much.

And he screamed.

Bolting upright, Adeline heard yelling coming from down the hall. She instantly got up and ran into Dick's bedroom, where she found a frantic and panicking Dick yelling. He thrashed in his bed, caught in his sheets, and sweating like mad. She sat down and shook his arms hard as he continued to yell.

"Stop! Please!"

"Dick!" She yelled.

"Bruce! Don't!"

"Dick!" She yelled again.

"No! Please!"


It was with a final yell from both of them that Dick bolted up and awake. Adeline looked at Dick, who was in no way out of the nightmare. His shoulders kept shaking and he barely could sit up. A cold sweat covered his skin and as Adeline watched him, she noticed something else. He was near tears.

"Dick..." She started, but somehow, she knew what he really needed.

Leaning forward, Adeline puled Dick into a hug. Just like she had for... for Grant and Joey. For a moment, Dick didn't realize what was happening, the images in his head repeatedly haunting him. But when he finally looked around, Dick came back to his senses. The surprise above all though, was that Ms. Kane was in the room and hugging him. He... he hadn't been hugged like this since before his parents... His mom... As Dick widened his eyes, he felt how moist they were and looked up to keep any tears from the nightmare or the memories from leaking out.

"You okay?" She asked.

Dick nodded, "Sorry... I... It was about..."

When he didn't finish, Adeline nodded. She knew who it was about or at least, one person who it was about, Bruce. She released her arms around him and sat up, looking at him just to make sure he was alright. Dick shook his head and looked up at her with a small smile.

"I... uh, thanks, Ms. Kane," He said after a moment.

Adeline smiled at him gently and answered, "You're welcome, Dick. You want to talk or..."

Dick looked down at that and Adeline got it, but knew that there was more that she should be doing. Standing up, Adeline went to the door, but paused for a moment where she felt her gut telling her to say something. Anything.

"Dick..." She said, turning around, "I... You're safe here, you know that, right? I won't let anything happen to you."

Dick looked up at her and with a smile, nodded slowly, "Yeah, I... I do."

"Good," She said, "Because if you doubted me, I would have had to show you the last guy I fought with. Not a pleasant sight. 'Night, Dick."

Dick managed a small laugh at that as Ms. Kane left the room. Instead of going back to her room, Adeline went downstairs to her office. She walked over to the photo and picked it up, looking at the two boys in it. She missed their smiles a lot. At least she knew one of them should be okay. At least. It shouldn't be 'at least'. But it was. Adeline glanced up to where Dick should be in his room. That kid. She could tell he was something else.

Meanwhile, falling back onto his pillow, Dick tried to shut his eyes, hoping sleep would come soon, good sleep, that is. He was so tired and he couldn't take more of it. But Dick knew he was up for more of this. He could only imagine that to be the case - He never quite understood how Bruce had handled Gotham alone. Well, he was probably about to find out. Probably. Most likely. He would have groaned, but he was too tired to and soon fell slowly into a peaceful slumber as the moon began to set. The night, gone.

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