Diana flew her invisible jet across the ocean, the water appearing to part for no reason. Gotham City was within five minutes. Time seemed to slow down. She was gripping the wheel tightly, despite realizing that it wasn't doing her any good. She let out a breath that she had been holding. Superman had called her twenty minutes ago and told her to meet him in Gotham with the intention of finding Robin and bringing him home to Jump. Apparently, he might be under the guardianship of a villain named 'Slade' who had come into conflict with the Teen Titans from time to time.
Even though she wasn't entirely convinced, she agreed to come. But just because she wasn't entirely convinced, it didn't mean that she was worried. Men could be extremely deceitful when they wanted to be. Like Ares or Zeus... And the name change circumstances led her to believe that this wasn't likely to occur by random chance. Something was wrong... She saw Gotham over the horizon. Finally.
Speeding ahead, she radioed in to the local Airport. Despite Bruce's death, she knew that the likelihood of her safely landing the invisible jet at Wayne Manor was highly unlikely. Plus, at least on the runway at the airport, her jet would be protected by her diplomatic status.
"This is Diana Prince, requesting permission to land," She called in to the local airport control.
"Diana Prince you are clear to land... we think..." the airport traffic controller replied.
"Thank you," Wonder Woman called and landed her jet, parking it off to the side and out of the way.
As she exited the jet, apparently appearing out of nowhere, she took to the sky to meet Superman downtown. On the north end of Gotham, Superman and Starfire found themselves entering the city that was just slipping beneath the blanket of night sky. Starfire found herself willing to speed ahead, though she didn't know exactly where to go. She wished that Superman would hurry on ahead. She could keep up...
"Are you alright?" Superman asked.
Starfire shook her head, "I am dreadfully worried. You do not know how far Slade will push the Titans to our limits, especially Robin..."
"I take it he is Robin's 'arch-enemy'?" Superman asked.
"I..." Starfire paused before nodding, "Yes..."
They flew in silence for a moment before Superman spoke again, "Don't worry. We'll get him out of there, if it is him... What does Slade look like?"
"He is always wearing a mask, so none of the Titans know how he actually appears without one," She stated, "But he only has one eye..."
"That's odd," Superman stated, "Wilson had two eyes... Maybe Slade is blind in one eye, so he just covers the other one."
Starfire shrugged when she saw someone else appearing to meet them in the sky, "Wonder Woman?"
Superman looked ahead and the three of them stood in the sky, "How was the ride?"
"Choppy," She said bitterly, "Starfire, right?"
"Oh, yes," Starfire stated, "It is nice to meet you."
Wonder Woman smiled at her and nodded, "I understand that you think Robin might be in trouble."
"Yeah, I wanted back up just in case," Superman told her, "We're going to Wilson's house. If they're there, then we'll see if we can handle this without causing an uproar..."
"Meaning?" Wonder Woman asked, not convinced.
"Meaning we try to talk to Robin and Wilson and at the same time try to gather evidence against or in defense of Wilson," Superman stated.
"Some plan," Wonder Woman remarked.
"It's more likely that they're not there," Superman said.
"In which case, I'm going to rip the handle off of the door and we'll let ourselves in," Wonder Woman remarked sarcastically.
Starfire looked between the two, worried, as Wonder Woman didn't seem to be buying the plan. Finally Superman nodded to end the silence, "Let's go."
The three shot straight for uptown Gotham. Below, most of the streets were empty, a surprise in some ways. They landed on the street in front of Wilson's townhouse. The lights were off and it didn't appear that anyone was home. Superman X-Ray-ed the place.
"No one's home," He said.
"Then let's let ourselves in," Wonder Woman said.
"Just don't break anything," Superman begged.
Wonder Woman rolled her eyes. They walked up to the door and Wonder Woman jiggled the door handle, only to break it. Superman gave her a look that said 'I just told you not to break anything'. In response, she kicked the door down.
"Diana!" He yelled.
"Oh give me a break," She said, "You don't do this when it's Luthor and if Dick's in trouble..."
Starfire passed them and called into the house, "Robin! Robin! Dick! Are you here?"
She flew upstairs. Superman and Wonder Woman watched her fly up before nodding at each other and going separate ways throughout the house. On the top floor, Starfire noticed the first door open and peaked inside. Instantly she recognized Robin's laptop on the messy bed along with a few birdarangs falling out of place from a duffel bag. Something was wrong. Robin would never be so careless... unless he was in a hurry. She felt her stomach drop. 'Robin...' She thought. Starfire got up from the floor and left the room. Superman met her at the top of the stairs.
"You find anything?" He asked.
Starfire nodded, "Robin... He was in a hurry when they left. His equipment is on the floor in plain sight. He would not do that unless..."
She stopped and Superman glanced inside with his X-Ray vision, "Makes sense... We have to figure out where they went, though."
Starfire nodded before continuing down the hallway to the second room. This one was bigger. The master bedroom. She glided inside. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but it was unsettling all the same. Then she noticed the door to the bathroom. She let herself in and saw that the bulbs had burned out a while ago. It was dark and there were no windows. She began to light a starbolt in her hand when she knocked her arm against the side of the sink.
Starfire pulled back her arm, massaging what felt like a bruise. Thankfully, she was more resiliant than a human being. But that was when she heard something fall to the floor as well. It hit her foot. Glancing down, she picked up the round object only to find a glass eye staring back at her. She gasped and dropped the eye to the floor again.
"What is it?" Superman asked.
"He was using a fake eye..." Starfire called, "It is him."
She flew out to the hallway, "We must find Robin. He is in danger, he is..."
Superman nodded and pulled out his com-link to the watchtower, "Green Arrow? Martian Manhunter?"
"Superman, what is it?" Martian Manhunter asked, "You sound distressed."
"Is Green Arrow up there?" Superman asked back.
"I'm here," Green Arrow answered, through what seemed like a mouth full of chips, "What's up Supes?"
"Remember that Wilson guy I had you look up? Do you have a list of places that guy owns or has lived at?" Superman questioned.
"Man, that's a lot of places," Ollie said, "He was in the Army, remember?"
"Then currently," Superman clarified.
"I'm on it," Green Arrow said, pushing himself over on the rolling chair to the first available computer.
"What's the urgency?" Martian Manhunter asked.
"I spoke to Starfire of the Teen Titans and we think that Mr. Wilson might be a criminal named Slade," Superman told them.
"Wow, you are always right about people, aren't you?" Green Arrow called from across the room.
Wonder Woman came up the stairs, holding a mask in her hand, "Is this what Slade looks like?"
Starfire nodded upon seeing the mask and Superman rubbed his temple, "I wish I wasn't always… Arrow... Look, can you contact Mr. Pennyworth and get him to fill out whatever legal documents he'll need to get Dick back into custody of whoever is safest?"
"Of course," Martian Manhunter asked, "Will you be needing any back up?"
"I've got Wonder Woman and Starfire here, I think we'll be alright," Superman told him.
"Very well, but if you need us, call," Martian Manhunter told him.
"Got it!" Green Arrow called, "He's got, go figure, seven places. Geez, why didn't I make the connection before?"
"Probably because you're you," Wonder Woman remarked sarcastically.
Green Arrow attempted to not take the insult to heart, "Well, missy miss, Wilson has five places or so, pricey too, not too far from Gotham. Actually, they might even be in it, don't know where the boundaries end... I'll send you the addresses and a homing signal. Good luck!"
"Will do," Superman said, "Let's go."
Starfire and Wonder Woman nodded, all three flying out of the house and off towards the direction presented to them on the com link. The downside to their rather quick departure was that none of them noticed that there had been a security system installed in the townhouse.
Back up in the Watchtower, Ollie and J'onn preceded to follow orders. Ollie started scanning the phone listings for Batman's contacts while J'onn began to search Gotham's database for the appropriate documentations needed to get Dick back into the custody of...
"Found him! Think he's still up at this hour? I mean, he's kinda gaining years isn't he?" Ollie called.
"Try him anyway," J'onn told him, "Thankfully with evidence against Wilson it's possible to attain custody of Grayson. Otherwise, this wouldn't be an option..."
"I figured," Ollie said, waiting while the phone rang.
Down at Gotham's Central Library, Leslie and Alfred sat over various books searching for something that could help them. They had been coming several nights a week hoping to find a loophole or something that could help them make sense of Bruce's will. So far, they had come up with a massive amount of documentation regarding the Waynes. It wasn't surprising, though, considering the Waynes' legacy in Gotham. That, however, had led them to sifting through piles of information night after night until they were kicked out when the library closed.
"Alfred," Leslie said.
"Huh?" Alfred asked, half-asleep.
"Your phone is vibrating," She said.
"Oh," Alfred said, picking up the cell phone that he had silenced upon entering the library, "Hello?"
"Yes, who is this?" Alfred asked.
"It's Oliver Queen calling, aka the big G.A.," Ollie said, talking a bit too casually for the former butler's liking.
"Um, may I ask why you are calling Mr. Queen?" Alfred inquired.
"Alright, Mr. Pennyworth, you're probably closest to Dick Grayson, right?" He asked.
"I... in what way?" Alfred asked.
"Well, look, we think Dick might be in a situation where he will need to be placed in another's custody very soon and we don't want him going to a foster home," Ollie began explaining.
"Wait, why?" Leslie asked, as she had been listening in.
"To make a long story short, Dick might be in the custody of one of those big... bad... super-villains," Ollie slowed as he saw J'onn giving him a look that said 'be at least a little gentle'.
"What?" Alfred asked.
"Yeah, so look, can we send over a few legal papers for you to fill out and have ready... like, yeah?" Ollie asked.
"Yes, yes of course," Alfred said, "I'll pick them up from Wayne Manor right away."
"Alright, thanks Mr. Pennyworth! G.A. out."
With that Ollie hung up and J'onn sent the documents to the manor. It took twice as long as normal, though with everything being sent, it wasn't a surprise to him.
Alfred closed the phone and looked over at Leslie, "I best get there as soon as possible."
"I'm coming with you, who knows how much paperwork they're sending you," Leslie stated.
They rushed out of the library before it was closing time for the first time in a long while. Their resources were still strewn across the tables as they had left them. The pages ruffled in the wind from the window opened above them. The sound of footsteps that started from the window and began making their way over to the shelf stopped. The guest looked at the open pages. Maybe this would be of some use...
Adeline's heals clicked down the oak floors of the hallway. She had already had dinner (for once, alone) for the night, but her stomach wouldn't settle. So to pull herself out of the slump, she had decided to walk to the kitchen and have a bowl of ice cream. At least the brain freeze would distract her from her constant impatience. She opened the fridge to find her favorite flavor on the side of the door. Peanut butter cup and chocolate. She rolled her eyes. Of course he'd have it. She had been the only one to actually like it, after all.
She grabbed the container and pulled a spoon and bowl from the cabinets. She served herself a scoop and slowly dug her way into it. She let the peanut butter stick to the roof of her mouth while she slowly paced around the room. She spooned a bit of ice cream into her mouth again when the door opened, revealing the other three residents of the estate.
"Wintergreen, could you prepare a light dinner for tonight?" Slade asked.
Wintergreen nodded and began to work in the kitchen. The other three, Adeline included, left for the dining room.
"Robin," Slade said and the boy looked up, "Go ahead and change, you worked hard tonight."
Robin nodded and left without a word. After his collapse around noon that day, he slept a little bit before getting up and going with Slade in the gym to develop some sparring techniques. It was only now that they had finished. As Robin left the room, Adeline turned her attention back to her ice cream, finishing it a bit... quicker than she normally would. Brain freeze plagued her for a moment before she set the bowl on the counter window that led to the kitchen.
"Your favorite?" Slade asked.
Adeline cast a glance towards him, "Sure. Why not?"
With that, she left the room. But after the door closed, she stayed in the hall and waited. She didn't have to wait long. Robin rounded the corner within minutes. He stalled upon seeing her.
"Ms. Kane?" He asked.
The slight indifference in his voice bothered her slightly. She wished he had said her name a bit more venomously, especially after... what he had seen the other day.
"Robin," She said, walking up to him, not knowing where to begin, "What... what happened in there? The other day? What did he say to you?"
Robin's mouth was left ajar as he stuttered, "I... what... what are you referring..."
"You do remember don't you?" Adeline asked him, "That fight in the main room the other night?"
"Yes," Robin replied, "I... I remember it."
"What did he say to you?" Adeline asked again.
Robin merely shrugged, wordless, though it was apparent that he was trying to respond, "He... Master said a lot of things..."
"Master?" Adeline repeated, "Why... why would you call him that?"
Robin looked at her in shock and confusion, "Because... because that's... that's what he is..."
Adeline's mouth fell, "Robin, Dick, why, how could... What about Bruce? What about Batman? How could you say that after everything that he did for you?"
"Bruce..." Robin repeated, he brought a hand up to his head.
That's when Adeline realized what had happened. In instances or moments in which a life is threatened, often to comply with demands that might seem unethical or inhumane, a person will suppress such urges for justice. Though she couldn't fathom Slade actually threatening Robin's life, all things considered, she could see Robin seeing Slade as doing such. And if something, an urge, so to speak, was repressed... it had to come from his memories of Bruce.
"Yes, Bruce," Adeline repeated, "I don't know what Slade said to you, but Robin... you've got to believe me, you're more than him."
Robin watched her, as though standing on shaky ground, "Him?"
"Slade. You're so much more than him. Batman would agree with me and he'd hate to see you in a situation like this," Adeline said, "You have no... I remember emails from Bruce where he'd praise you. They were quiet and subtle, but knowing him, I knew he was proud of you and cared about you."
Robin felt flashes of his memories enter his mind. Slowly, some were fuzzy, but they were coming back...
"Don't, don't throw your life away," Adeline said to him, "You really... you can beat him."
She looked him in the face, his mask revealing little to her. But what more could she say? She brought a hand up to her face as she took a step back.
"Just, think, think about what I said," She told him, before letting him go and walked in the opposite direction down the hall.
Robin watched her disappear around the corner. He looked at the floor in silence. Batman... Bruce... He started walking again.
'You're more than him.'
Her words echoed in his mind, relentless, unshakable... Somehow, he felt something that he dared not say. Maybe... could she be...
Inside the G.C.P.D. Gordon felt his eyes begin to drop. Despite what Barbara told him, the fact was that the long nights were getting to him. He opened the door of his office to see Sawyer, Bullock, and Yin outside. Sawyer and Bullock stopped arguing when they saw him.
"Heading out, Commissioner?" Yin asked.
"Yeah, I guess so," Gordon said, "Goodness knows, I'll collapse if I keep working in the office."
Bullock laughed and Yin and Sawyer smiled. Then the sound of the fax machine from Gordon's office alerted them. Gordon rolled his eyes.
"Of course," He said.
He put his bag to the side and went to read the fax. It suddenly got quiet. Gordon felt his stomach drop and his eyes began to grow.
"Commissioner?" Bullock asked.
Gordon turned around, "Sawyer, get me seven cars of men and the S.W.A.T. team."
"What's up?" She asked.
"I think we just found our serial killer," Gordon said, "It's Wilson."
"Wilson?" Yin asked, "As in, Dick Grayson's guardian Wilson?"
Gordon nodded, "Here's the address, it's on the outskirts of the city, off the islands. Let's move."
The four dispersed and proceeded to cars and to call those that they needed. Gordon got in his car with Yin and gripped the steering wheel as he turned on the car. Heading straight for the raised highways, Gordon surpassed the speed limit, following the quickest route.
This was so bad.
Inside the main room, Slade finished another email, satisfied. It was always good to keep up with others in his field. Robin sat at the dinner table, waiting without a word. Wintergreen opened the door and Slade thanked him, though he continued to work at the laptop.
Robin thanked Wintergreen as well, though he had somehow... lost his appetite... He kept thinking about Ms. Kane and what she had said. Bit by bit, things were coming back. Things that he hadn't thought about, no maybe, refused to think about, were coming to light. This, what he was doing and what was happening to him, it was wrong. He shouldn't be Slade's apprentice because... he didn't want to be. It was wrong. He knew it was.
He stopped moving his fork around his dish. New emotions suddenly burst into his system. He was suddenly very angry. Somewhat with himself, but mostly at Slade. What kind of sick... He started to cut his food with a knife. He knew that Slade was right behind him to the side. And he still thought that...
"Robin?" Slade asked.
'Fake it,' He told himself, "Yes?"
"Something wrong?" He asked, "You're not eating."
"Hm?" Robin turned to his dish and realized the same thing, "Oh, sorry."
"Don't be, but you should get some food in you, after what happened this afternoon," Slade told him, returning to take into inventory of the new supplies that he had stored in the basement.
Beneath the mask, Robin rolled his eyes. Yeah, sure. Whatever. Like Slade cared.
He took a few bites before returning to his previous thought process. Why should he be here? Why? He should get out of here. Do something... He was so angry and so humiliated. He wanted to pick a fight.
And hey, why not?
It's not like he had anything to lose.
"Is that all you care about?" Robin asked bitterly.
Slade froze. The tone and words that had come from Robin's mouth automatically alerted him to a rebellious spirit in the teen.
"What makes you say that?" Slade asked calmly, as though not hearing anything.
Robin stood up, "Well, I'm just a robot or something to you, right? All you care about is if I can do a job. You don't care about my morale, that's for sure, otherwise you wouldn't be training me for this sort of work."
Slade walked over to him, standing a good foot taller than the teen.
"I'm right, aren't I?" Robin asked.
Slade's eye narrowed and Robin took his chance. He thrust the knife forward, but Slade caught him before he could ever tear the skin and sent Robin flying across the table. Before Robin could move, Slade held his wrists behind him.
"Now what was that for, Robin?" He asked.
Robin twisted his arms and pulled free of Slade's grasp. Immediately he dropped to the floor and rolled out to the other side of the table. Slade watched as Robin rose to fight. Despite himself, he smiled, the thrill back. He could see the spirit in Robin's face. He didn't even need to see his eyes.
"I don't know, why did you kill that deer? Why did you kill Bruce?" Robin asked back.
Slade laughed, "I'm not sure if I should be happy about your enthusiasm or not."
Robin growled and lunged forward to kick Slade in the chest, but he was once again thrown across the room, to the windows this time. Instantly, the teen got up in a crouched stance, ready to dodge if necessary.
"Logically," Slade continued, "I shouldn't because you're defying me."
He moved forward and landed a good punch to Robin's gut. Robin landed on the floor, but rolled away and flipped up, standing right behind Slade, prompting a fist fight.
"However, your focus and drive," Slade said as he dodged and redirected Robin's attacks, "Impress me."
He caught hold of Robin's hand and his arm, locking him out of an easy attack. But then again, Robin knew life was never easy. He elbowed Slade in the ribs and kicked at his feet. However, instead of the older fighter falling alone, they both fell. Robin shook his head when he felt a hand gripping the back of his shirt. Slade wasn't letting him out of this one. Then something buzzed on his belt...
Out of the corner of Robin's eye, he saw something glint in the room's lighting. He reached and grabbed hold. No longer resisting, he let Slade drag him back only to use it so that he had a knee on top of his opponent's chest. He held Slade's left arm down as well. The knife that he had been using earlier and had been thrown across the room in the midst of the fight was in his hand, which he held above Slade, ready to plunge into skin at a moment's notice. Robin's face contorted, anger fueling him, but for once, he was thinking of how to win; how to beat Slade. It was the only way out...
But to his surprise, Slade chuckled, "You're darker than I thought, Robin."
Robin looked at him, confused and then he saw Slade eying the knife as he continued, "Are you really going to kill me?"
Robin looked at the knife and suddenly realized what he was doing. He dropped the knife and it clattered to the wood floor. Slade took the opportunity to push Robin off and stand up above him. Robin slowly stood up, edging away from the knife when he felt a harsh slap to the face.
"Don't you dare do that again," Slade told him harshly.
The teen felt another hard slap to the face. His moment of shock gone and now worry came into play. Such a great plan. Suddenly, he remembered why he didn't go picking fights often, especially with Slade since they nearly always ended badly. Slade grabbed him by the front of the shirt.
"You know better than that," Slade whispered, "Or do I have to remind you what happens when you defy me?"
Robin's eyes widened and he attempted to get out of Slade's grasp. This was bad. Outside of the Estate, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Starfire landed outside hidden in the woods. This was the fourth residence that they were checking. Luck was not on their side that night, it seemed.
"Anyone in there?" Wonder Woman asked, "At least the lights are on this time."
Superman X-Ray-ed the place and instantly found the fight unraveling in the main room, "It's Robin, he's in there!"
"What?" Starfire asked, "Is he..."
Superman's face turned to shock and Starfire got her answer, "Robin..."
"Come on, let's go," Wonder Woman said, "There's no time to waste!"
Superman nodded and the three flew up into the sky to enter through the roof. Inside, Slade felt an alarm buzz in his belt and looked up just as half the ceiling came down. Robin covered his face and as the dust settled, he saw two green orbs penetrate the smoke.
"Starfire?" He asked, incredulous.
Three figures emerged and Robin felt his heart lift for the first time in ages, "Superman? Wonder Woman?"
Superman spoke first, "We're here for Robin."
Slade's eye narrowed, "I figured."
Suddenly, Robin felt himself being pulled back and held by Slade. He struggled, but this time, Slade knew that they were in the middle of combat and wasn't holding back in the slightest.
"Robin!" Starfire yelled.
"Starfire-" He started, but was cut off.
"I don't see any reason for me to comply, though," Slade told them, "You see... I've been searching for years, for the perfect apprentice. And since then, Robin's been the only one to meet all of the credentials. He is both physically capable...
He gestured to Robin. Their attention centered on Robin's form and toned muscle. The three heroes felt their stomach drop and Robin shivered.
He grimaced as he felt Slade grab his chin, "And mentally ready, for such training."
Superman growled, "You twisted..."
"I'm only doing the same thing Batman did," Slade commented, his voice clearly unconcerned.
"How dare you," Wonder Woman said, "Batman never..."
"Took a boy in solely for the purpose of training him to fight?" Slade said, "Stop before you embarrass yourself."
"Let him go!" Starfire yelled, "We out number you and are not afraid to fight you..."
Slade eyed her, "The only Titan present; why am I not surprised?"
Robin watched, desperate to free himself. Slade smiled beneath the mask, "I suppose I understand your concern."
Robin suddenly thought of Ms, Kane. Where was she? On the opposite side of the estate, Adeline had heard the sound of the roof collapsing, but wasn't sure what the sound was. It had disturbed her slightly, but she hadn't paid any heed to it until she saw a cloud of dust outside of the window. What was going on? She left and began running down to the main room. She turned a corner when she heard her name.
"Who..." She started, but was cut off.
"It's time to go."
She eyed the figure slightly, but nodded and followed them as they led the way. It wasn't Slade, so how much did she have to lose? Back in the main room, the three heroes stood across from Slade, having made no sudden movements to start up a fight.
Finally Wonder Woman spoke, "Give it up, Slade. You're outnumbered."
"Really?" Slade said, pulling something out of his belt.
It was a rock that glowed green. Wonder Woman repressed the urge to roll her eyes. Great. Just great. Why did Superman have to announce it to the whole world that his vulnerability was Kryptonite? Just why? Because Lois Lane asked him, that's why. Sheesh...
"I think it's two on two," Slade said, noticing Superman beginning to feel sick.
"Two on..." Wonder Woman started.
"Robin, take Starfire," Slade whispered.
"No!" Robin yelled.
"Do it or I kill your other loved ones," Slade told him.
"Leave him out it!" Wonder Woman demanded.
Superman held his head, the loud shouting beginning to give him a headache. He could hear sirens from far away and there was also this annoying beeping sound that was increasing in speed coming from... below? He used his X-Ray vision and searched below only to find explosives. There was no time left.
'Oh no.' He thought.
They all went flying as the blast erupted and destroyed the house. Slade lost his grasp on Robin and they went into different directions. He screamed briefly before hitting the hard wet ground and rolling until he hit the side of a tree. The force of impact made him dizzy, though he could see red and blue lights to his right and could hear the crackling of burning wood. The others they had... to be okay... He lifted his arm, but found no energy left in him. No... His hand dropped and the teen wonder lost consciousness as the estate blazed and burned.
End Of Part Five