Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Chapter Thirty-Six: Waking Up

Chapter Thirty-Six: Waking Up

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?"

"Mr. Pennyworth?"

"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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chapter Thirty-Five: Connections

Chapter Thirty-Five: Connections

The stiff smell of pine seemed frozen in the air. But it was nice… in a way. In another, it didn't matter. Robin climbed over a few rocks, following closely behind Slade. There was a mist covering the woods while the only sounds came from the sticks that they stepped on - if they stepped on them. For the most part, they were each equally silent. Robin didn't know why they were out here in the first place, but he didn't say anything.

Adeline was behind them, not much so caring where they were going or how much sound they made. Her intense anger at Slade had returned and while her first instinct had been to stay at the estate, upon hearing that Robin would be coming with Slade, she immediately volunteered to come. Slade had no objections. Even if Robin had given up on her, she knew that wasn't a reason to stop keeping an eye on things, especially after everything that had happened and Robin's... sudden change. She wasn't going to stand by and let things happen. She couldn't afford to because at this point, who else could she rely on?

So out of the three, only one of them knew what they were doing out here. He liked it that way, too. Slade glanced to his side to see Robin behind him. Not trying to run, not struggling, just obeying orders. He smiled.

"Robin, let's see how well you can trail me," Slade said and Robin looked up; Slade turned to their third party member, "We won't go far, Adeline."

With that, Slade was off. Or rather, they were off, as Robin's actions were almost immediate. As Slade blazed through the forest, Robin ran and darted through it just as easily. A bit less forcefully and more on the swifter side, but that was how Robin did everything. Slade moved so that he was maybe seven feet ahead of his apprentice. Glancing back, he watched Robin's motions.

There was... something. Something that he couldn't place that felt... off. It was probably because Robin hadn't been out in a good month. Finally, he found a rock formation and landed on it, stopping in his tracks. Robin was by his side in half a second, standing up straight and staring downward at the ground. Slade looked to the side, his own adrenaline rushing.

Robin looked up at him and Slade chuckled, "You don't let yourself lag behind, do you?"

The Boy Wonder was about to shake his head once, but instead he looked at the ground when they heard a familiar voice behind them as Adeline ran to catch up.

"You call that 'not far'?" She asked.

"I never said that you had to follow us," Slade replied, "We would have come back."

Adeline rolled her eyes, "I don't doubt that you would, but I'm not about to lose either of you."

Slade glanced off into the distance, "Do you think that you could be a bit quieter, Adeline?"

"Excuse me?" She asked, astonished.

"Shh..." Slade whispered, while waving the Boy Wonder over, "Robin."

Robin followed without a word, as he and Slade walked down a small edge into a stream bed. Standing on the sandy mud, Slade pointed ahead of them, where upstream a fawn stood grazing, lapping the water with her baby next to her. Robin watched them with some interest, though he couldn't help but wonder why Slade had brought his attention to them. That's when he saw Slade slowly bring out a gun from his pocket.

Robin's eyes went wide, "What..."

Slade showed him the gun model, "Normally, I'd use something larger, but this works just as well."

He held it out to Robin who looked at it like it was a foreign object. Above, them, Adeline leaned over, watching in shock. Slade smirked and placed it in Robin's hands and suddenly, for reasons Robin couldn't quite discern, he felt himself go stiff. He felt Slade cover his own hands and bring the gun up to eye level and out.

"Take a shot," Slade said, "It's good practice."

Robin looked over at him, entirely at a loss. What he... Take a shot? Why did this not feel right? Why couldn't he? He felt his finger jam in the gun, making him nervous. He took his fingers out of place and shakily tried to put them back in correctly. Slade looked up at the fawn and the baby and then down to Robin, who was obviously was having trouble. Perhaps this was moving too quickly...

He placed a hand on Robin's shoulder and Robin looked up, panicked, "It's alright."

"You can take a shot when you're ready," Slade said, taking the gun from Robin.

Suddenly, Robin began to feel relief as the gun was taken out of his hand. But it was cut short with a sudden 'BANG'. Robin looked up to see that Slade had taken aim and fired. Up ahead, the fawn had fallen into the stream and the baby had taken off scared. Blood began to trickle down the stream until it reached Robin's hand, and he fell back as Slade walked ahead to clean the deer enough to carry it back to the estate.

Once he did that, Slade glanced back to see Robin still sitting in shock. He walked back and held out a hand and Robin knew that he was to follow. The mastermind went back to the fawn and lifted it up over his shoulders. Robin watched. He felt that he should say something. Apologize, explain, but he couldn't. And Slade could tell. He could tell that Robin was struggling. He chose to leave it for now.

From across the way, Adeline watched, her eyes narrowed at the dead deer. She had never liked the fact that Slade was a hunter, but as long as she wasn't present, she was normally fine with it. But there was another thing on her mind: Robin's behavior. And she knew that it was on Slade's mind as well. The three began walking back to the Estate. Adeline glanced up at the two in front of her every now and then. She knew that Slade could tell that Robin was uneasy and that there was something different about him. 'Well, good,' she thought, 'Good.'


Outside, the crisp air beat against the residents of Gotham, most just trying to get to work. As it was early in the morning, most were half dazed and still tired from the night before. It was no surprise if one was bumped into. In that way, it was an advantage to be fairly large in stature. Thus Wade DeFarge was one of the few lucky ones who could make his way through the crowd. He was done with this city. Long done. No money, no point, it was a stupid job to take. In a lot of ways, he didn't understand why he took it in the first place. The anonymous were always bound to give you trouble.

Wade crossed the street towards the monorail line which would take him to the airport. He walked around to the elevator where he saw a sign hanging from the side reading 'Out Of Order'. Great. Now he had to take the stairs, which was only about four stories worth of climbing. He could do it. sure, but in the mood that he was in, he really didn't want-

"Huhh!?" He yelled.

Wade felt himself being slammed against the wall of the alley he had walked passed previously.

"Wade DeFarge."

"You picked the wrong day to mess with me," Wade said, before twisting out of his captor's grip and turning to land a punch.

However, his attacker was quicker and for some reason, in a fouler mood than he was. Grabbing him by his shirt and throwing him to the ground, Red X picked DeFarge up and rammed him into the wall once again, holding him there.

"Where's Ms. Kane?" He demanded.

"Who?" Wade asked.

"Adeline Kane!" Red X yelled, "I know you're Ravager, DeFarge, what did you do to her?"

"I didn't do anything! I haven't seen her in years!" Wade spat.

"Don't lie to me!" Red X hissed, "What did you do to her?"

"I swear!"

"Then where is she?" Red X asked.

"Do you think I keep tabs on her?" Wade yelled back, fighting off the headache he was getting.

Red X glared at him, so angry that he couldn't make sense of it, "Who did you work for?"

"Some guy, I don't know. I hate you anonymous lot, you know, I do," Wade rambled. Red X threw him to the ground.

"You only killed Wayne. So whoever got to Adeline was probably the person who killed everyone else..." Red X said, mostly to himself.

"Why did you take the job?" Red X inquired, finally turning his attention back to Ravager.

"Like I'd tell you," Ravager spat.

Red X kneed him in the stomach and Ravager repressed the urge to chuck his lunch, "I don't know, you've told me a lot already..."

"Fine! It was Deathstroke! Deathstroke was gonna kill Wayne and I got to it before he did!" Wade told him, "I hate that man, I hate him!"

"Yeah, yeah, go get some therapy," Red X said, beginning to walk off.

"Hope Adeline's dead, you rat! I hope they're all dead!" Wade yelled.

Red X stopped cold in his tracks and turned around, "You're going to regret getting on my nerves."

Wade's malicious grin suddenly fell from his face. Ten minutes later outside the G.C.P.D. Wade was tied up to the front steps, a red X keeping him there tied securely. He looked up to a building rooftop to see a smug look on Red X's face.

"Told you, you'd regret it," Red X said, walking off.

"RAT!" DeFarge screamed from below, but Red X ignored him.

So Deathstroke was involved. That meant that he was probably behind the other killings and probably behind... Adeline's disappearance, assuming Red X's logic made sense. He had his suspicions for a while now, anyway... In that case, there was no way that he had killed her. Just, no way, but why would he make her 'disappear' for a lack of a better word in the first place...? The police had said that Adeline was related to Wayne and Adeline had been working on securing Wayne Enterprises as well as taking care of... Red X's eyes widened. No way... But hadn't Deathstroke always... Despite the thin possibility... Why would Deathstroke want anything to do with Wayne's kid...?

It was time to go back to the archives. He would make sense of this because in no way was he just going to sit idly by without knowing just what exactly was going on. He smirked. Action, mystery, danger; he was beginning to like Gotham.


The feeling of soft sheets met her fingers as she twisted her head from side to side, eventually grabbing the sheets in her fists in an attempt to get a grip on her surroundings. Though she really couldn't do that if unless she opened her eyes, now could she? Starfire wearily managed to bring open her eyes to meet the bright white light in the room. Slowly, they adjusted and she found herself in a room with the walls made out white crystal. Even the bed, all crystal. The red, blue, yellow and white sheets were the only things that held any color. She sat up and held her head. Where was she?

Starfire pulled the sheets aside and instantly felt a chill in the air. She hovered over to a hook where a blue robe hung and draped it over herself; it was cold... She glided over to the door and twisted the knob. Hopefully there would be allies nearby... A few hallways down, Superman stood in the main hall talking to Ollie over the JLA com-link.

"Sorry, Supes, but I really got nothing on this Grant guy. Born and bred Army man, though his income seems to be a bit above average, but then again, he was in a special unit division. The only thing that I could find that was a bit weird was that he randomly changed his name at some point. It was originally Slade or something..." Green Arrow informed him and then upon seeing his comrade's disheartened face, added again, "Sorry, man. Don't worry though, we'll all figure this out."

"It's all right," Superman told him, "Thanks again, Ollie."

"No prob, and hey how's the Tamaranian holding up? I heard about what happened in Metropolis," Green Arrow asked.

"She seems to be recovering well; she's strong," Superman told him, "I better go check on her, see if she woke up or not."

"Alright, Ollie out," Green Arrow said and the line disconnected.

Superman grimaced. Another dead end... well, there would always be another lead... at least, he hoped... He turned at the sound of the door opening to reveal a confused Starfire, but upon seeing him, she relaxed. He smiled and walked over to her.

"Princess Koriand'r of the planet Tamaran," He said, bowing slightly, "On behalf of my people of Krypton, I welcome you to the Fortress of Solitude. Are you feeling better?"

Starfire brought a hand to her chest and nodded, knowing the formalities, "Oh, yes, I, thank you."

"You're quite welcome," Superman said, "You took quite a hit back in Metropolis."

Starfire smiled modestly, "Oh, no more than what could be expected..."

"Well, thank you. Luthor might have gotten away with that thing otherwise," He told her gesturing to a table for them to sit at.

"Luthor?" Starfire asked.

Superman grabbed a newspaper from the table and handed it to her. The title read "LUTHOR CAUGHT!" below the Daily Planet's logo. The article was by a woman named Lois Lane. She scanned the article that went on about not only her defeating the machine in Metropolis, but also businessman Lex Luthor's part behind the contraption and his probable reasons for creating it.

"So... it was Luthor who had that machine built?" Starfire asked.

"Apparently. Doesn't surprise me though," Superman told her, "We've thought for weeks that something might be up with him."

"He must have been the one to steal Cyborg's technology designs!" Starfire stated, "They were stolen a while ago!"

Superman nodded, "It looked familiar now that you mention it... What I don't get was how he got his hands on Kryptonite."

"Your weakness?" Starfire asked.

"Yes and an irritating one at that," Superman told her as she nodded and held her hands, "But something tells me that you were not just in the neighborhood..."

Starfire shook her head, "I... I was originally going to go to Gotham. To see if I could... find Robin, convince him to come home..."

"You're not the only one worried about him," Superman said gently.

"Then why is no one doing anything?" Starfire asked, standing up, "I cannot ask my friends for they are part of it and I do not want them to take offense, but I do not see the point in just waiting! Why... why are humans like this...?"

She sat down and held her head in her hands, "I do not understand..."

Superman watched as Starfire brought her hands down and hugged herself, "May I offer a possible explanation?"

Starfire looked up and he continued, "They're all just as worried, but humans especially, they look to those who have many qualities that they admire for leadership and guidance... I guess that's why Superheroes provide such a … beacon of hope, as Wonder Woman would say. Perhaps your team, and my own, are just at a loss without their leaders."

"But are you not the leader of the League of Justice?" Starfire asked.

Superman shook his head, "Batman was the real head. He led us in almost everything. Not everything is about having superpowers."

Starfire smiled, "I know. Robin... He would prove so capable that we almost forgot that... I would sometimes forget that he was human... But what do we do now? We do not have our leaders, so do our teams remain lost?"

The Man of Steel stood up and leaned against the chair, thinking, "No. I will not let that happen to the JLA and I don't think you will let that happen to the Titans."

"Huh?" She asked.

"You were originally going to Gotham to find Robin, right?" Superman asked, "I think you're right. He needs to be with you and the Titans. It's not good for him to stay in Gotham."

"But I do not know where to find him," Starfire said, "I only know that his new guardian's name is Grant Wilson..."

"Have the Titans and JLA compared notes at all?" Superman asked out of the blue.

Starfire thought, "I do not think so, if you are inquiring about Robin's current situation."

"Hmmm... Do you have a way of knowing if your team would have anything on Mr. Wilson?" Superman asked.

Starfire flipped out her communicator and typed in the search bar 'Grant Wilson'. After loading she looked up and shook her head, "We have nothing on such a man... Why do you ask?"

Superman shook his head, "I went over to meet him the other day and... well, I don't think that he liked me very much. I can't say I got good vibes from him either and I think that aside from Robin's own preference to stay in Gotham for his mentor's work's sake, convincing Mr. Wilson to let Robin move back to the west coast would be our greatest challenge in getting him back with you and the others."

"Oh..." Starfire stated, "I... I have not met his new guardian. Do you have any other reason though to suspect that he would create that kind of block the road?"

"I had Green Arrow look into the guy's background," Superman told her, "He's an Army man, once he was in a special units group, but other than that, nothing. The only thing that seemed out of the ordinary was that he randomly decided to change his name to Grant from Slade."

Starfire felt her stomach drop and heard her heart pounding in her ears, "Sl... Slade?"

Her heart began to race as Superman answered, "Yeah... why?"

"It is Slade!" Starfire exclaimed standing up.

"Who?" Superman turned.

"Slade! He is... Robin is in danger! We must get to him before it is too late!" She yelled floating into the air, leaving the robe behind.

"Wait, wait, who's Slade?" Superman flew up as well, "Come on, the exit's this way..."

"Slade is the one criminal in Jump City that has caused the Titans the most trouble," Starfire explained.

They entered the arctic air and both shot straight for the east, "So how bad is this guy?"

Starfire bit her lip, "He... at one point, he took a particular interest in Robin and forced him to be his apprentice. It would... this is all starting to make the sense. He... he must have wanted to become the legal guardian of Robin."

"And to do that, he figured out who he was and got Batman killed off, all without raising suspicion by killing multiple people in order to make it appear random," Superman finished, "We're not taking any chances. I'm calling Wonder Woman. Call the Titans, and tell them to meet us in Gotham."

Superman took out his own com-link. On the beach of Themyscira, Diana was sparring with Artemis. Putting the match on hold, she pulled out the com-link.

"What's up Superman?" She asked quickly.

"I need you to get down to Gotham right away," Superman told her.

"What?" She propped her staff into the sand, "Why?"

"Because, I've just spoken to one of the Teen Titans and we have reason to believe that Robin is under the guardianship of a psychopath."


Robin stumbled into his room. His legs felt weak and he could feel his arms shaking as he propped himself up on his dresser. Looking into the mirror, he could tell his vision was blurred. He had managed to appear presentable up till when he had been dismissed after they had gotten back to the Estate from hunting. However, once he had gotten out of Slade's sight, he started to feel sick. He rested his head on the dresser.

What was wrong with him?

He took in a few quick breaths while the cold wood of the dresser cooled his forehead. 'Come on, come on, you're okay...' He thought to himself. As soon as he felt that he could stand up straight again, if but a little dazed, he brought his head up, but his arms instantly felt weak and gave out. His legs fell with them and he landed in a heap on the floor. He continued to shake and twitch, unsure of what was causing him to do so...

Slade said that it had been okay. His master had said that it had been all right... He held his head. How could he have been so stupid? It's just pulling a trigger... What kept him? Why couldn't he? Was he weak? A disappointment? Yes... he must have disappointed his master, but how? How could he have allowed himself to do such a thing?

But... wasn't it wrong?

Robin rolled over on the floor, shutting his eyes tightly. He couldn't think straight. One side of him told him what was obvious. Follow his master. That was his role, his obligation for everything that Slade had ever done for him. The other side kept nagging at him. It was almost a different side of logic. Something... suppressed...? But why would he have ever suppressed anything... He felt like screaming.

He tried to find the ground and get over to his bed, but his sense of balance was somehow compromised, and he felt himself land face first on the floor, though it felt like a wall... He heard something, someone knocking...

"Robin?" Slade let himself in.

The light revealed his apprentice lying on the ground almost oblivious to his surroundings, "Robin?"

He couldn't think straight...

Slade knelt down and took Robin's shoulder's as the teen continued to hold his head in agony, "Look at me."

Robin only continued to shake. Slade repressed the instinct to be surprised and instead did what he could do calm Robin down. He noticed a cold sweat on Robin's brow and held him around the chest to repress the shaking.

"Robin, what's wrong?" Slade asked in his ear.

The words were gargled in his ear. Robin tried to regain an understanding of his surroundings. Where was he? What was going on? He could feel someone holding onto him... Slade? But he had disappointed him... failed him...? But Slade was there to make sure he was okay, so how could he think that Slade hated him? Slowly, Robin began pull himself back. He still felt conflicting premonitions about the earlier incident, but at least... at least he wasn't in trouble...

Slade felt Robin's breathing relax and decided to speak again, "Are you all right?"

Robin slowly nodded, now able to hear again, though still slightly dazed, "Yeah... I... I'm alright..."

"Can you stand up?"

"... think so..." Robin did so and leaned again on his dresser.

Slade got to his feet as well and watched, hoping... Robin's lips were pressed tightly together and he seemed unsure of himself... Robin turned to look him in the eye and Slade found himself feeling slightly... caught off guard, because the boy in front of him was most certainly confused at the sight of him.

"I'm... sorry... Master, for my collapse..." Robin managed, biting his lip at the end.

Slade nodded, "It's fine, but get some rest, you probably just strained yourself too much today."

Robin nodded and walked over to the bed and Slade left the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the door close and Robin pulling back the sheets. Everything today. Everything, as perfect as it was, he should have known that it was too good. He went into main room and slammed the doors open, furious. Robin hadn't been holding back while racing. Even before this whole thing began, they had been evenly matched for the most part in racing through various obstacle courses. No, what Slade had noticed was Robin's lack of style, his lack of enthusiasm. He raced because he had been told to, with no thoughts outside of how to complete the task at hand.

And thus Robin hadn't collapsed in his room due to overworking himself. He had collapsed because of something else and Slade was willing to bet that it had to do with an inner turmoil. The brain never really forgets anything, only represses, and yet one's entire body is wired to obey the brain. Obey... There's only so much one can take and apparently, somewhere in there, perhaps Batman's influence wasn't out of the boy's mind. Slade let out a low growl and slammed his fists into the dining room table. He heard someone behind him chuckle.

"You seem mad, Slade," Adeline said, a small smile on her face.

Slade turned to see her, the mask showing no emotion. But Adeline knew. She knew by his stance.

Slade laughed and regained his cool, "Frustrated, is all."

"Oh?" Adeline asked, "Why? Problems... with Robin?"

Slade's eye narrowed as Adeline walked up to him and continued, "What's the problem? He not turning out as you had hoped?"

"Is that the best you could come up with Adeline?" Slade asked in response, "I've only just begun."

"Oh..." Adeline said as Slade walked past her towards the exit, "Like Batman did seven years ago?"

Slade paused momentarily and turned to her, "As if Batman could ever stop me."

With that he left for his own study, leaving Adeline by herself. At least it wasn't a total loss, talking to him. After all, by saying that Batman couldn't stop him, Slade had essentially admitted that Batman was still a factor. She smiled. Interesting.

Very interesting.

Chapter Thirty-Four: The Tamaranian Superpower

Chapter Thirty-Four: The Tamaranian Superpower

It was an odd sensation. His head felt very light, though the rest of him felt like nothing. He just couldn't feel the rest of himself. When he opened his eyes, everything was blurred. He saw a tall figure writing something down and tried to make a sound. Slade looked at him and walked over, putting a hand on his forehead. It felt cold. Slade sighed.

"How are you feeling?"

He tried to talk, but his speech was slurred, "haaat... ow..."

"You're alright. You're just feeling the remnants of the anesthesia. You've been out of it for a day," Slade told him, "You should be feeling much better. though, when the anesthesia wears off."

Robin shut his eyes as he focused on breathing, though he did well to pay attention to Slade, "It's early now, but in an hour, if you feel up to it, I'd like you to come to breakfast."

Though Robin couldn't see himself feeling better in an hour, his mouth twitched, telling Slade that he would. The man brushed Robin's bangs out of his face and watched him for a moment before turning to go.

"Don't worry about the IVs," He told him, "You don't need them anymore."

The door shut and he was alone. To his surprise, he began to feel the anesthesia already wearing off. There were still places that didn't seem to be losing the numb sensation, but he was beginning to feel his nerves picking up signals from where he hadn't been injured. He opened his eyes and looked around. There was an IV in his left arm and diagnostic sensor on the side of his chest. Whatever had happened to him... He couldn't really think straight, so he decided not to, since he didn't have to.

At least Slade had decided to make sure his injuries healed properly. He turned his head to the side. Slade... and... bits and pieces of his mind felt shattered. Like a glass picture his by a baseball. The edges and rims of other people in images were all he could retain at the moment, as his stomach dropped and he felt sick. There was one image that refused to be recalled, as every time he tried to do so, his head felt it would tear open. As much as he wanted to recall the image, a twisted premonition of fear overcame him.

When he finally could feel most of himself again, he looked over at the clock and realized that he had fifteen minutes to join Slade at the breakfast table. Moving his hand over, he carefully pulled out the IV and the diagnostic device before scooting himself up and off of the bed. His foot was extremely stiff and tingled as he walked. He noticed both his foot and his dislocated shoulder had been bandaged up, as well as right hand. He pulled his shirt off and went to the dresser, pulling out what came...

He noticed other injuries marring himself as he changed and actually spiked his hair up for the first time in about a month. The side of his stomach had a large line of stitches in it as did a small part of his lower left arm. In other places, inches of gauze were taped over him, wounds he assumed came from the glass. As for his back... a thick, cool compress held itself over several fading bruises. They must have been much worse before now. Three minutes to go and he was ready. Except...

In the main room, Adeline attempted to focus on the paper in front of her and drink her water. She hadn't seen Dick in a day and it worried her. Actually she had been worried since she had been kicked out of the dining room two days ago. And of course Slade wouldn't tell her anything. At least the room had gone back to normal. The morning after the fight, Adeline didn't think she could stand to look at it. What had Slade done? The question begged to be asked, but at the same time, Adeline didn't feel that she would get an answer for that, either.

To her right, Slade stood by the window, the air muggy from the past week. The fact that Robin had at least woken up was a good sign. That meant that his early suspicions had been correct. Though if Robin were to get up and join them, that would be... The door opened and both of them looked over. Adeline dropped her glass and water spilled over the table and paper.

Robin stood fully dressed in an outfit that resembled Slade's. Orange on one side, black on the other, the armor extremely similar, and a silver "S" over the left side of his chest... It had been a long time since Slade had seen Robin in that. He smiled under his own mask. Adeline was stunned, but what made her feel sick was the touch at the top. Slade walked over to Robin, hands behind his back as always and stared at Robin. The Boy Wonder held himself there, posture fixed, despite the fact that underneath the protective armor, his wounds were still smarting.

Slade brought a hand under the boy's chin and tilted it up so that Robin looked up at him. The mask. That is what was different. The entire time that he had been there, Robin had either not worn a mask, or had kept the one remaining from the Bat. Not now. Instead, the mask had two spikes, one on each end at the corners of his eyes, that tilted up, resembling Slade's.

Slade smiled again and dropped his hand, "You feel well enough?"

Robin nodded and turned his head back to the ground. Adeline's mouth dropped as Slade continued, "If you could get Ms. Kane another glass..."

Robin nodded and immediately left for the kitchen, only to return seconds later with a full glass and a towel for the mess. Shocked, Adeline took the glass, and moved aside as Robin quickly cleaned up the spill. He placed the towel on the kitchen window and stood to the side, waiting. Like a soldier. Adeline felt sick.

Slade chuckled, walking over to his apprentice, "You impress me, Robin."

Robin didn't move and Slade continued, tilting Robin's chin up to see him, "Perhaps we'll up the level of your training this week."

It really wasn't a 'perhaps' or a 'we'll'. Slade would increase the training level - that was certain. Robin nodded once. The result of the other night, Robin's behavior, it was beyond anything that Slade could have asked for. Adeline couldn't even talk. Wintergreen came in the room and brought in two dishes for Slade and Robin. Slade thanked him and the old friend left. Robin stood there, not making a sound and after a moment, Slade looked back at him.

He shook his head, "You can eat."

Robin's eyes opened slightly and nodded as Slade finished, "Very impressive, Robin."

Robin nodded again before sliding into the seat. The absolute obedience... The etiquette... How... Adeline slowly got up from her seat.

"Ex.. excuse me..." She said before turning and exiting the room.

She needed to lie down. Robin watched her before turning back to his food. He took a bite and the rest of breakfast was quiet. It was neither awkward nor unwanted on either Slade's or Robin's part. It was just simply silent.


Something that Starfire had never experienced on her homeland was the massive infrastructure that made up Earth's many cities. Over time, she became used to the tall skyscrapers within Jump and Gotham and she marveled at the creative urban layouts a city could be built upon. But Metropolis. Metropolis was an entirely different story.

Unlike contemporary Jump or classic Gotham, Metropolis' rich identity arose from its variety, history, and above all else, its vibrancy. Every form of building, from every decade, was represented in every area of Metropolis. Their defining features were how they were maintained. It was clean, fresh to the eye. Every window shone in the sunlight, making the city sparkle with a golden glow.

For Earth's resident Tamaranian, it was both beautiful and overwhelming at the same time as she walked down the sidewalks, taking a break from her long flights in favor of walking. For the past three days, she had flown from city to city, originally planning on returning to Gotham and giving herself a few days to travel to organize her thoughts.

She couldn't understand how she could possibly get anything done with the attitude and present customs that Earth presented. But if she could sort out what she knew instead of ignoring it or simply letting Robin deal with it, then maybe a solution would come to her. During her travels, though, she came to a point where the road that she had been following forked. She could either go to Gotham or Metropolis.

Throughout the past two days of travel, she had come to only two conclusions: One was that there was no way that anyone could understand Earth's laws. The second was that Robin probably would not be pleased to see her, as he had avoided talking to the Titans for the past month. And more than anything, she hated confronting her friends...

The Tamaranian had heard of Metropolis, though. Who hadn't? It was the very definition of an American city. With all of the hopes and dreams of New York, Metropolis prided itself in its significance within the United States as a symbol of inspiration. And of course, there was their resident superhero.

The last son of Krypton, Superman.

Fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.

The last son of Krypton.

If anyone knew why Earth operated the way it did, anyone outside of the immediate culture, it would have to be Superman. Though Starfire had only met him in passing, she felt that taking a detour to speak with him was worth a shot. So here she was, walking through the bewildering city, entirely lost. Maybe it would be better if she flew...

As she crossed the street, Starfire came across a large building. Tall and separated from the rest, above it read the sign "LexCorp". It sounded familiar... She shivered, despite the weather being warmer than most places, and readjusted her backpack. She kept walking, passing a delivery man walking towards the large corporate office. He opened the door and walked to the front desk to hand a package off. It was exchanged and put on the automatic delivery service to the top floor.

From there, the package entered the hands of a very slim secretary, chewing her gum like always. She knocked on her boss' door. As she entered, she could hear the clear displeasure in the occupant's voice.

"If you're bothering me, you had better be here to tell me that Westfield's..."

"Relax, baby," Marcie said, "I've got your package. Dr. Westfield, Cadmus Labs and all in the return address."

Luthor spun to the side of his desk and got up. He was over in front of her in a second and took the package, ripping open the thick manila envelope to find a small disk inside. He tossed the envelope to the side and sat down at his desk. He scanned the disk in a small virus detector by the side of his computer before inserting it and waiting for its contents to load. The connection was almost instant. Almost. And the instant seemed to drag on.

Westfield appeared on the screen, "Mr. Luthor. Your contract with us is now complete."

"I can see that," Luthor said, "Now tell me, the Xeno-cannon is entirely up and operational, right?"

"Of, of course," Westfield stuttered, "It could be moved right out of here right now if you wanted it to."

Lex smirked at the sad excuse for a scientist, "Really? Well..."

He looked out to the side of the window, "I'm glad that I have direct control of it now."

Westfield nodded slowly, a bit confused, when Lex pulled up another screen and hit enter. On the other side of the screen, Westfield turned around to see the Xeno-cannon activating. The connection terminated. The miracle of telecommunication and remote control became a curse as Cadmus failed to override Luthor's control. Of course it was no use.

Outside Cadmus Labs, Lane marched out of the front doors. The nerve, turning her away. Then again, she should probably be used to it by now. Her reason for being here? Her search into Luthor's finances had led her into some of the current president's father's records and dealings when LexCorp had been LuthorCorp. One was one of them was a government lab that had broken off in recent years to become Cadmus. The reporter then began to realize that many of Luthor's bills, made out without reason, had appeared to be going to government agencies, matched old codes that identified Cadmus. In fact, all of them did.

She had smirked at the revelation. She had been right. Luthor was up to something. So it would figure that she would get kicked out of Cadmus almost as soon as she had walked in. Lois scowled at the ground as she pulled out her phone to call Clark. Maybe bragging would make her feel better if only for a moment. She turned around to look back at the Labs' front glass doors, to see the two security men leaving their posts.

"Huh?" She forgot her phone was ringing.

"Hello? Lois?" Silence, "Lois? Are you there?"

"Huh?" Lois was pulled out of her trance, "Um, sorry, Clark, never mind..."

"Lois? Lois? Where are you?" The star reporter began to tune him out.

"I'm at Cadmus Labs... following a lead..." She peered inside and walked back towards the front to get a better view without the glare...

"A lead, what lead?" Clark asked over the phone.

"Luthor's..." Lois looked to the side after she noticed that she couldn't get in without it being unlocked from the inside, "Finances... look, Clark, I'll call you back. I think I might have something."

She ran around to the back to see if she could sneak in another way (trespassing never came to her mind anymore), "Well, okay, well, listen, Lois..."

Lane pressed her head to a window, hearing something... like screaming as Clark continued, "If you need anything..."


Lois fell to the side as she screamed, dropping her phone. Her mouth dropped as she looked up to see a massive, six story tall, armor covered machine making its way out of the building into the streets of Metropolis. Lois stood up and ran to the side to look into the building to see several people lying on the ground unconscious. Turning back to the six-story machine, she strapped her bag to her side and ran off, grateful to be wearing sneakers today instead of just her office heels. Her phone however, was completely forgotten.

At least, by its owner.

On the other end, Clark had canceled his order in the Deli near the Daily Planet in favor of running outside to get a better view. Upon hearing Lois' scream, his worry had shot up dramatically. He scanned Metropolis with his X-Ray vision to the area of town containing Cadmus. While he couldn't find Lois, he did find a six-story machine coming towards the center of the city. If that wasn't what Lois was screaming about, he didn't know what was. First though... the wreckage...

He scanned the fallen debris for anyone trapped. No one, no sign of Lois, just her cell phone. That meant that she was alright. He knew her well enough to know that. So he flew off towards the machine when he came into the vision field of its cameras. Luthor smiled.

"Come on, Superman, I dare you," He smirked.

Looking for the weakest point, Superman flew like a bullet towards a section of two armored pieces. But upon impact, he found himself rocketing off into a building. The shock echoed throughout the city and people everywhere turned around to see what was going on, including their visiting Tamaranian and two men working in the Daily Planet. As Perry ordered the young freelancer, Olsen, off to get pictures of whatever was going on, Superman groaned.

"What was that?" He asked to himself.

He moved to bring his hands back into fists when he felt them sting. They were bleeding. Great, he guessed the thing was covered with some form of Kryptonite. He flew up again, deciding to switch to using long range tactics. He blew against the machine before hitting it with a blast of laser vision. It looked weaker, but it kept moving as Luthor directed it towards the center of the city. He tried again. Still nothing. Maybe the coating was gone. He aimed at the front, blew his icy breath against it and quickly hit it with the intensity of his laser vision before flying in to ram it backwards off balance.

Again, he felt himself propelled backwards into the concrete streets. He shook his head again, noting that his knuckles had been ripped open further. The Kryptonite coating was resisting all force and weathering deterrents. As he looked up at the machine, he saw that the machine was tilting off balance, ready to topple... But as Luthor had designed it, its massive center of gravity pulled it upright. Superman's jaw dropped. It should have... But before he could finish his thought, Luthor decided that they were far enough into town to unleash the massive super weapon. Even so, the two simultaneous bangs were enough to move Starfire into action.

"That can not be good..." She said to herself, flying up into the air.

Superman heard the machine squirm inside and suddenly shoot up several poles which spread open a screen almost in a dome shape, colored with a tinge of green. Finally catching up, Lois watched as the dome rose much higher than the rest of the city, a massive amount of concentration of energy appearing to hold up its center. The lime-green tinge didn't make her feel any more comfortable about it, either.

"Ms. Lane! Ms. Lane!"

"Jimmy!" She called, turning to see him running over to her.

"What is that thing?" He asked.

"Don't know," She answered looking up at it, "It came from Cadmus Labs and I'm certain that Luthor's behind it."

"How do you know..." Jimmy started when he shook his head to begin taking photos, "Never mind, but how's Superman fairing up...?"

Lois glanced over at the hero slowly getting up from the ground, "I... I don't know..."

"Do you think we should stay here or..." Jimmy began as the sound of his camera's shutter clicked away.

"We're staying here," Lois said, "That's gotta be Kryptonite and if it is..."

Jimmy shook his head, "Can't Luthor be at least a little more original..."

"When is anyone?" Lois countered sarcastically.

Across the way, Starfire flew up, discarding her bag to a nearby rooftop when she caught sight of Superman, who still hadn't seen her. But the machine in front of her worried her more than her impeding social dilemma. Superman flew up, determined to find a weak point. Even if the screen was coated in Kryptonite, he could most likely still rip through it...

Luthor laughed as he initiated the weapon's power. Starfire heard an all too familiar sound as the dome, already casting a shadow, began to be infused with the tower's energy. Superman halted momentarily, at which point, the sound blasted. Starfire covered her ears as the machine echoed Cyborg's sonic blast over Metropolis. Most only covered their heads, as the two reporters did below. But some... Starfire watched as Superman cried out, the sound burning his ears and skin, causing him to sink to the ground faster than he had before.

"Superman!" She called, but he couldn't move, save to open his eyes to see who was calling him, and he saw rockets now emerging from their stations inside the machine aiming directly at him.

They fired.

"No!" Starfire yelled.

She flew forward and blasted several of them, as starbolts came to her hands and from her eyes. Luthor stood up. What was... Starfire headed straight for the rocket launchers, punching them off into heaps of wreckage. Lois watched as she began to tolerate the constant whine coming from the above. Jimmy began to take photos again.

"Who is that?" He yelled over the sound.

"Well, it's not Supergirl," Lois yelled back, "She looks familiar, though. Can you get a close shot?"

"Already did," Jimmy said, showing her a quick photo from the digital preview.

"She's with the Teen Titans," Lois recalled and suddenly it occurred to her, "Stay here, I'm going to LexCorp!"

"What?" Jimmy called, not noticing the writer heading off into the opposite direction as he continued to take pictures.

If their visiting superhero continued to take out the machine, and from what she had already seen Lois was sure she could, a bit of evidence linking this to Luthor would be extremely useful for tomorrow's front page. Meanwhile, Starfire finished dismantling the rocket launchers and went to rescue her fallen comrade. She lifted Superman's arm over her shoulders and flew him to safety, and unhooked her Titans Communicator.

"Cyborg!" She called into it and instantly, Beast Boy was on the other line.

"Starfire! Where have you been? I mean, thanks for up and leav--"

"Where is friend Cyborg?" She interrupted.

"Of course, you'd want to talk to him because... Hey!"

Cyborg pushed the green kid out of the way, "What's up? Star?"

"How do you shut off your sonic cannon?" She asked or rather almost demanded.

"Huh?" Cyborg asked, surprised, "Why?"

"I found who stole your designs of technology," Starfire explained.

"What? Who?" Cyborg asked.

"Well it is mainly a where..." Starfire started, "But how do you shut the sonic cannon down?"

Cyborg shook his head, "You have to disconnect the wires on the inside. If you can, look for clues as to who is controlling the remake."

"I will do," Starfire said, terminating the connection and setting Superman aside.

In a streak of light, she readied a starbolt and increased its power before letting it loose on the sonic-cannon remake. It hit its target and exploded a piece of the exterior, allowing for Starfire to fly inside. The mass of connecting technology inside it was smoking, making it difficult to see, but with her eyes lit, she was able to see the many wires she had to pull.

Outside LexCorp, Lois easily found her way inside as more people were worried about their possible impending doom to care about trespassers. Riding up to the top floor, Lois readied her voice recorder. Luthor had to be behind this! At a certain point however, the elevator stopped and Lois was forced out to a floor about ten floors below the top. No matter, the stairs would do from here. She continued her way up.

On the top floor, Luthor stood outraged. There was no way he was going to let some teenage girl stop him now, considering all of the time and money he had put into this. The worse luck he could have was that this was a Titan. It couldn't be Supergirl today, oh no, it had to be someone unaffected by Kryptonite.

"Marcie, leave!" He ordered, knowing that he needed another offensive and all of his focus.

Marcie rolled her eyes and stormed out at the sudden order. As she left the room, Luthor pulled up another computer program. As soon as she shut the door, Lois found her pressure point and she slid unconscious to the floor. Carefully, she passed the small mike underneath the door just before it would be visible on the other side. Then she stood up and listened in.

"Come on, come on..." Luthor said, "Where are those heat seekers..."

She smiled; she had been right all along. Inside the Xeno-Cannon though, Luthor's luck was fading. He could no longer move the machine because if he did he would have to switch off the cannon, which he could now no longer power back up if he did so. Outside the Xeno-Cannon, Jimmy continued to click away when in a burst of green light, Starfire, emerged from the Xeno-Cannon.

"That was... distasteful..." Starfire muttered to herself, still coughing, when she looked up.

She had followed Cyborg's instructions, but the sound was still permeating the area. She pulled the communicator out and began to text Cyborg back, 'cannon still functioning'. As she continued to pelt the machine and dome with starbolts, she heard the communicator ring again. Pulling it to eye level she read, 'Destroy the power source then - idk where that would be, though'.

Starfire bit her lip when the center five poles emerging from the cannon caught her eye as they swarmed with the green glow. The power source... She began to fly straight at it when she heard a voice coming from the giant machine, sounding much like a classic over-the-phone male instructor.

"I'm giving you fair warning, girl," the voice said as Luthor spoke into the microphone in his office, still unaware of Lois' voice recorder at the bottom of his door, "Surrender now. You have no chance of beating me."

Starfire stopped and her glowing eyes looked at the machine directly before announcing, "I never surrender and if you believe that I have no chance of defeating you, then you have certainly underestimated me."

Luthor repressed the urge to growl. Behind her, several rockets seemed to come out of nowhere and she flew back into action. Moving out of their line of fire, they changed course and began to follow her. She narrowed her eyes and let loose a few starblazers. They exploded in a fiery fury and she set course again for the five poles.

"No!" Luthor yelled and thankfully for him, the microphone was switched off at this point. He continued, muttering to himself, "Wayne's Xeno-mineral converter..."

Inside, Lois scrunched up her forehead in thought... Xeno-mineral... Kryptonite... So that's how it was radiating its energy in the form of sound! In the open, Starfire finally got close enough to the five poles and aimed. Her starbolts were deflected. She flew in and instantly felt the electric energy pulsing threw her body as she positioned herself between all five poles. The Tamaranian groaned...

'Do not give up now,' She told herself.

Starfire thought of the nerve that a person would have to steal her friend's technology. She thought of their terrible desire to harm others, especially someone who has done nothing but help others. She thought of her friends helping her on the other side of the country. She thought of Robin and her intense desire to bring him home... Her body began to glow, not from the electricity, but from her own raw power as she gained the Star energy... Jimmy watched as the teen began to rise to the middle of the five poles and the outward glow of green covered her entirely.


The starblast rocketed outward, crippling the five poles and destroying the Xeno-Mineral converter. Above her, the pieces of the dome began to crumple like aluminum as they deteriorated and fell while the powerful surge of the Kryptonite coating of the cannon dissolved. People cheered, even Jimmy, who had stopped taking photos for just a minute to do so. But inside his office, Lex banged his fists on his desk, infuriated.

"NO!" He yelled, "NO!"

Lois smiled and pulled the mike away and ran to the stairs. Her work here was done and Perry would love the next day's lead article. At the scene of the fight, Starfire looked around, dazed, the entire scene a blur as her energy had left her. The cannon was dismantled. Metropolis was safe... But that's when the backfire hit and she screamed. The electric blast hit her like an atomic blast and she fell into the heap of twisted wires and metal that was once a great menace. Starfire moaned and squinted. Above her, she saw a figure outlined in radiating light of the sun before she succumbed to the pain and finally passed out.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chapter Thirty-Three: Just Make It Stop

Warning: This chapter contains a violent fight sequence and psychological trauma. What goes on within the fight is very important though, so my recommendation is to just read the dialogue if you don't want to read the fight. You should get about the same understanding of the events of the chapter. Just wanted to put that out there. You have been warned.


Chapter Thirty-Three: Just Make It Stop

The only really good thing about having an internal digital clock was that you always knew what time it was. Even then, that could always be so easily turned against him. Like this morning, for example. Cyborg had been up all night, working on the Titans' database information hub center. The subject? Jump City criminals. He was starting to understand a little bit as to why Robin had never gotten any sleep.

Currently, two others on the Titans roster were awake. Raven was off to the side reading while Beast Boy was busy making tofu French toast. It was probably partially because that sounded like such a disgusting combination of food in his head and partially because he was massively tired, but somehow, Beast Boy's antics this morning had done nearly everything to set him off. It was practically a miracle (or maybe Raven's doing) that he hadn't sucker-punched the little booger through the front windows straight towards China.

But being the oblivious one that he was, Beast Boy never got the warning signs that Cyborg had sent. So instead of dissolving the relatively calm situation into a fight, the temporary head of the Titans got up and decided to give himself a break. He really did need one anyway... He began heading towards his room when he saw Starfire down the hall opening a door that led to the roof. While he normally wouldn't have bothered asking what she was doing, curiosity got the best of him when he saw a pink backpack strapped to her back.

"Hey, Starfire!" He called down to her.

Starfire turned to see him, "Oh, hello, friend Cyborg. Uh, nice day, isn't it?"

He walked over to her, forcing a peasant smile on his face, "Uh, yeah, I guess..."

He eyed her bag, "So what's that you got there?"

"Oh, uh, this?" Starfire said, clearly feeling uncomfortable, "Uh, well, you see, I..."

"Looks heavy," Cyborg noted.

"Well, relatively speaking, yes, but with my enhanced strength on this planet it is..." Starfire trailed off as she saw Cyborg cross his arms and look down at her. There was no way she could skit around the subject, "I... uh... I am sorry friend. I..."

"You're worried, aren't ya?" Cyborg asked.

Starfire nodded, "I do not understand why friend Robin has not called us or why he has not come home and nothing I do can put my mind at ease..."

"We're all worried, Star, but what were you going to do? Go to Gotham and find him?" Cyborg asked.

"It is not..." Starfire sighed, "I... I can respect Robin's orders. I did not expect to find him there. But that is not... I was not planning on going there..."

"Huh?" Cyborg asked, surprised, "Where you going to go?"

"I... do not know," She confessed, "I... I just do not understand why people behave certain ways on Earth. And I do not mean to offend you or the others, but I do not feel like I can simply wait here. It makes me... nervous..."

Cyborg nodded and sighed. He looked at Star, who's head was bent low. Of all the Titans, the changes in Robin's life worried her the most. They all knew how close she was to him – how much she had been thinking about him. He was her best friend and the lack of communication, after a month... realizing it now, he could see why she was fretting so much. Perhaps it would be good if she left for a little while. Get her mind off things in Jump or even maybe work a little to find out what was going on with him (and Cyborg was almost certain that she would).

"Alright then," He said, "Why don't you just go take a break, a vacation or whatever, alright?"

"Huh?" Starfire looked up at him.

"You were just about to leave, weren't you?" Cyborg asked, his smile now softer, "Go on, take some time off. I'd get the rest of the Titans to go with you, but I think it's best if the rest of us stay here. That cool?"

"Oh..." Starfire's face instantly brightened. She flew up and gave Cyborg the biggest hug in the world, making him glad that he was half robot, because man did her hugs hurt. "Thank you, friend Cyborg! Thank you! I apologize for not planning to say goodbye, but I did not think... Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

"Yeah..." Cyborg managed, "Uh, Starfire? Can you, uh, let me go now? You're denting my... steel-plated armor."

"Oh," She released him, "I am sorry. Forgive me. But oh, thank you!"

She flew to the door, her bag at hand, "Thank you. I will contact you soon. I promise."

"No problem, Star," Cyborg said, rubbing his shoulder, "Take care, alright?"

"I will," Starfire said, "See you the soon!"

With that, the Tamaranian flew up and out of sight. Cyborg rolled his eyes and began walking to his room once again. Upon reaching his room, he went straight for his bed, collapsing on the hard metal like it was a meadow of pillows. He plugged himself into his charger and laid back. As his sleep mode kicked in, he figured that he'd tell the others about Starfire's departure later. It might not have been the best idea to let her go and leave only three Titans present in Jump, but they'd deal with it.

Besides, it could always be worse.


The long hours within the meat house had remained mostly cold and quiet ones. Lonely ones too, if Robin didn't count all of the dead animals around him, which were ever so hard not to notice. At some point, he had just shut his eyes and tried to rest, shut everything else out, hoping that somehow, he could ignore the insanity that was his life. When Slade had finally come to let him out, there had been no words exchanged. Only a bitter glare from Robin and of course, an uninterested expression from his captor.

The few days that followed were quiet ones, too. When given an order, Robin did what he was told to do quickly and did so without a word. It wasn't because he had given in. It was more like his mind was too preoccupied with everything that had happened in the recent months. Everything kept building, like a tower, a precariously perched tower. When it would fall over was anyone's guess.

The silence of the estate had reached everyone, including Slade and Adeline. Everyone just got what needed to be done, done. No questions asked. Perhaps Slade, though, was the only one who didn't seem disturbed or stressed by this. Adeline couldn't believe her own behavior. She hadn't fought Slade since that night and she somehow felt nervous to even remind him. She wasn't afraid of him. No, it was never that. She was afraid of what she would do. It was like being in the same room with him... would she slip back like she had before? She couldn't bear the thought.

When she finally saw Robin for the first time after the incident, she got tongue-tied. She knew that he deserved an explanation. Of all things to see a friend or even a confident flirting, okay, kissing the enemy, the betrayal of trust that Robin must have been feeling... She couldn't imagine. She had to tell him...

"Dick..." She started.

Dick stopped cleaning one of the dishes in his hands.


Slade walked in, "Are you done?"

Dick looked over at him and back at the sink, working once again. That was it though, she had been shot down. For the ten minutes that it had taken her to build up the confidence to tell him, she lost it within the few seconds that Slade had entered the room. She couldn't take it and walked out of the room, her heals making a clicking sound against the tiles. She hated him.

And Robin ignored her. He remembered what it was like to be betrayed before, with Terra and what she did to the Titans because of Slade's influence... And Robin was pretty much certain that there wasn't anything more influential than getting kissed by someone you were head over heals for. From what he had seen, Ms. Kane fit that description. After everything that she had told him, he should have figured that having her on his side was too good to be true. She was still alive because she was in cahoots with Slade. It was the only logical reason and now it was all too plain and clear for him not to see it.

The only downside to the silence in the puppeteer's mind (as he wasn't all that concerned with Robin finding out about his and Adeline's past relationship), was that the focus, the progress, was at a standstill. The boy was clinging to the shock, which prevented him from getting closer to accepting his new position. He needed something to get Robin to react. He could wait, as always... It was just a question as to whether he really wanted to. Besides, there really wouldn't be any real harm in edging Robin's progress along and wasn't his goal to have Robin progress? Perhaps a change in pace was all Robin needed...

As Adeline walked out of the room, Robin continued washing the dishes. Slade knew Robin was paying attention to him, though he made no signs of it. What that meant to him though was that it was as good a time as ever to talk to him.

"We'll be having dinner in the main room, casual, tonight," Slade said.

Robin glanced up and over to him, meeting his gaze before nodding once and returning to his work, a passive expression covering his face. Slade put his hand on Robin's shoulder and instantly felt Robin attempt to control the tightening of his muscles.

"I expect good behavior out of you, as always," Slade said, before releasing him and exiting the room.

When he was alone, save for the cameras of course, Robin finished his work and looked up at the clock. It was six thirty, meaning that dinner would be soon. He walked back to his room to change, thinking how sad it was that he actually knew his way around his prison so well. It had never really gotten to this point in previous detainments when they had battled in Jump...

He changed into dark leans and a loose, but decent white t-shirt. He didn't bother using hair gel much anymore and this time merely combed it with a slight part at the front. It was half an inch longer than normal since he hadn't gotten the chance to cut it. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he paused briefly. Despite his body feeling sluggish, his mind felt semi-alert. The only thing really slowing him down was the reality of just how long he had actually been here. He was tired of it, sick and tired of it, and annoyed at himself because of it. He shouldn't be here. He should be in Gotham where he needed... to... be... The clock changed to six fifty eight. Dinner was near ready. He left to go to the main room.

It took him a minute to get there, so he waited thirty seconds before he opened the door to see both Slade and Ms. Kane standing in opposite corners of the room. Slade, as always, remained in his uniform, the mask off this time while Ms. Kane took up a skirt and blouse. Slade looked over and smiled, making Robin's eyes widen slightly. It was just an instinct, a reaction that he had developed over the weeks he had been there so that he could be ready whenever Slade might have the upper hand. But of course this time, it was nothing.

He thought.

"Well, let's sit down. Wintergreen has already left out an appetizer," Slade said, gesturing towards the table.

Adeline eyed it and Robin before making his way over to pull out the seat to the left of Slade. Robin pretended to take no note of her and sat down across the table from her. Slade pulled out his own chair and casually took to dinner quicker than the others did. However, they all finished within ten minutes, without a word spoken.

Wintergreen took their dishes and they waited for him to return with the main course. 'So much for casual,' Robin thought. He failed to notice Slade's eye ignoring him. It had settled on Adeline instead. He knew that she felt an urge to explain the other night to Robin. He was also willing to bet that Robin wouldn't hear it. The timing couldn't be better.

"Adeline, you haven't persisted in having our daily spar," Slade said, and sure enough, they both looked up, "Have you conceded, then?"

Adeline ignored the question and looked over at Robin, who had gone back to looking down at his lap as Wintergreen brought in three steaks and placed them in front of the three diners.

"Dick, don't think that..." Adeline started.

Robin glared up at her, waiting, and Slade could almost see the tension the comment had sparked in the room. Adeline silenced herself before gulping down a hard breath and continuing.

"It wasn't like that. I haven't been..."

"Are you serious?!" Robin demanded, standing up, "That's your explanation?! 'It wasn't like that'?!"

"Sit down, Robin," Slade said calmly.

"Shut up!" Robin spat, and Slade's eyes narrowed. Come on...

"You're both... both..." Robin struggled to find the words, his hands up in the air as though trying to grasp the phrase, "Argh, it's so... I can't believe I was so stupid to trust you! You're sick and I'm disgusted to even know you!"

"Dick..." Adeline pleaded.

"No!" Robin yelled, his chest pounding, as weeks of anger and frustration began to tumble out of his mouth, "I hate you! I hate you both! You're cruel and demented and you can't think of anyone but yourselves!"

"That's enough," Slade said, hinting at the possible trouble Robin was about to get himself into.

"No! You're not the boss of me! I'm almost seventeen! Neither of you are and I don't have to take orders from either of you! Ever!" Robin told him.

At this point, Slade stood up as well, towering over both of them. Adeline looked over at Slade, a sudden worry reaching down into her gut. What was he... Slade's eye kept Robin's gaze, but the Boy Wonder didn't move.

"You don't have any right to tell me to do anything. I'm going back to Gotham and there's nothing you can do about it," Robin whispered, each word trembling just enough...

To both of Robin's and Adeline's surprised, a deep rich chuckle began to make it's way out of Slade's mouth, until it became a roar. Adeline stepped back and suddenly, Robin didn't feel as confident as he had been moments earlier.

"The right?" Slade asked, "I have every right."

Robin kept his teeth together and shook his head, "No... no, you don't, you don't!"

He swung his arm out to reinforce his point, when Slade grabbed his wrist and swung it around, forcing Robin onto the table with a hard 'Slam!'

"Slade!" Adeline yelled, but before she could do anything, Slade threw Robin against the chinaware cabinet, littering the ground with shards of broken glass.

"Slade, what are you doing?!" Adeline asked, panicked.

Slade looked and coolly walked over to her, gesturing, or rather guiding her towards the exit. While holding her arms as she stumbled backwards trying to force her way over to Robin. The word gesture was being used extremely loosely in this regard.

"Forgive me, Addie, but I think Robin and I need some time alone," Slade said.

"Slade, wait, stop..." She pushed against him, but that's when he reached the exit and gave her a final shove and slammed the door.

She almost tripped and fell over, but she caught herself. Not in time, however, to reach the door before Slade locked it. Adeline jingled the handle. No. No...!

"Slade!" She yelled, "Slade!"

Slade could hear her muffled yells on the other side, but ignored them as he heard glass rustling around. He turned his attention to see Robin on his knees, blood streaking down the side of his face from the right side of his forehead, his jaw aching from the previous impact with the table. His shirt was slightly red, too... The headache was splitting, but Robin forced himself to get back up. For Gotham...

"I'm not going down that easily," Robin said, standing up.

He leapt forward, kicking out, though missing Slade completely. He swung his arm out and landed a fist on Slade's side, but that only allowed Slade to take advantage of his motion and swing him straight into the corner of the kitchen window. He could feel a bruise already forming by his stomach and the loose fabric that had torn from his shirt. Whether the bruise had split open, he couldn't tell as he gasped and attempted to dodge Slade's next attack that sent him spiraling to the floor.

He attempted to roll away, but felt himself being lifted up by his hair, "This isn't easy?"

Slade was taunting him. He head butted Slade's chin away and flipped over to the other side of the room, near the centerpiece. Slade smiled, and walked around the table, ignoring the banging on the door and the yells coming from behind it.

"What's the matter, not going to hit me?"

He was getting to him. He could see it.

"Argh!" Robin lunged forward but was instantly slammed into the armrest of the sofa, falling to the ground, though he skidded along to the windows.

"You claim to be so unhappy," Slade said, walking over.

"And I am!" Robin yelled.

He wasn't being taken seriously and he hated it. He was never taken seriously. Never...

"Hey," Slade said, holding his arms open, "I'm not saying that you're not."

Robin's jaw dropped, but before he knew what was happening, Slade had him in a tight headlock.

"But do you want to know why you're not happy?" Slade said, holding the teen's neck tightly.

Robin gasped and choked, struggling to pull Slade's arm off, but at the same time, he was becoming disoriented from the lack of oxygen. The headache became a migraine.

"It's because you won't accept your new life," Slade whispered.

New life? Robin panicked, he elbowed Slade in the gut and tumbled away, coughing a bit to relieve his bruised throat.

"As what?" He yelled, backing away.

Slade merely took out his staff and swatted it at the Boy Wonder, who did a backwards somersault to land out of the way. Robin dodged out of the way again as Slade attacked and used it to slide out towards the kitchen door, hoping that it would be open. It was locked. He barely managed to knock himself out of the way.

"As my apprentice," Slade coolly answered.

Just like all of those times before. Robin jumped to one of the mounted fixtures and held himself there, despite feeling bits of glass digging into his hand. He wished that Slade would just let this apprentice thing go...

"No! You killed Bruce! You took everything from me!" Robin argued, "I'm not going to be your apprentice! Not now, not ever!"

Slade chuckled and merely tossed one of the many jars at Robin's hand. The boy dodged it, but tumbled to the floor. He shook his head, but couldn't get his thoughts aligned before he felt Slade pick him up and drag him over to the dinner table, miraculously still as though it hadn't been touched. Robin struggled against Slade's grip, but it was hopeless.

"I'm interested," Slade said, picking up a steak knife left at Adeline's dish, "I took everything from you?"

He couldn't be intimidated.

Bang! Bang!

The door kept twitching.

"You killed Bruce! You took me away from my friends!" Robin cried out.

Slade chuckled, "What friends?"

Robin didn't have time to process it as he felt the cool metal being pressed against the side of his arm and chest, just before it would tear the skin.

"Those Titans, that used you?" Slade asked, "Those 'friends' that saw you as pathetic and weak?"

"They didn..." Robin gasped as he felt the knife threaten to push through.

Slade held it there ever so carefully, without lifting a finger.

"You know they did, Robin," Slade whispered, "I think you were smart to send them away..."

Robin shook his head at the 'compliment', "You killed Bruce, you killed Bruce..."

"And why should you care?" Slade asked.

As the banging and screaming from outside the room continued, he added, "When he never did?"

Robin struggled instinctively, accidentally drawing blood through scratches made by the teeth of the knife, which dripped down the metal. He sucked in his breath, the stinging almost like being shocked by an electric plug. And suddenly, Robin heard his own logic killing every bit of hope inside of him.

"You think I don't care about your well being?" Bruce whispered and looked down at Dick.


"And why would that be?" Bruce asked, leaning in and challenging the statement.

"How about 'you'd take everything I ever had away'?" Dick asked, finding a silent road blocker.

No. He was wrong. He had been wrong. Bruce had protected him. He had...

"You could never argue with him," Slade whispered, "His word was law."

Slade tossed Robin to the floor and the Boy Wonder quickly moved out towards the kitchen window sill. He had to fight this. He needed to win... for Bruce... But this time was different. Slade wasn't holding back. It was... scary. And for whatever reason, the shock, not making the first strike, the disorientation... Robin didn't know which was the cause, maybe they all were, but Slade was like something shooting through the wind at him. He moved quickly and with enough force to make a good dent in a car at the very least. As soon as he was fully conscious of it, Robin attempted to keep himself from shaking.

"What was his excuse for his orders?" Slade asked, curious, "To protect you? Why didn't he teach you to be able to protect yourself?"

Robin leapt out of the way, avoiding a punch coming his way, and clung to one of the wall decorations.

"I'll answer that one," Slade said, looking up, watching Robin's terrified expression.

For that moment, he really thought that this man was actually going to kill him.

"Because he wanted to control you."

Robin shook his head. No. No...


Slade found the bo-staff that had been leaning to the side, twisting his fingers around it. He knew that Robin could take this. After all, the boy was incredibly resistant to pain and of course, Robin needed to be brought face to face with everything. Everything that he had been avoiding since he arrived...

"No? Break free from those ridiculous lies, Robin," Slade said, "You have such great potential. I can see it now, just by watching you."

Robin's grip on the wall piece tightened, his fingers going numb.

"He just never gave you the right training," Slade said, before tossing the bo-staff up at the piece, causing Robin to dodge out of the way. However, his shoe lace caught hold of one of the antlers he had been holding onto, ripping his shoe off and throwing him off balance.

He landed under the dinner table, a few shards of glass digging into his back. He felt woozy...

"I don't care!" Robin yelled, scooting away from Slade's feet.

"Why?" Slade tossed a chair away, making Robin back away further.

"Because he gave you a life after your parents passing?" Slade demanded, "Did he give you a family?"

Robin paused as did Slade. Ye...

Slade laughed and Robin recoiled, backing towards the opposite side of the table, "What kind of family uses people, each other?"

Robin turned. He had to make a run for it. He had to get out of here. He had... Suddenly, he heard the sound of something being tossed at him, splitting the still air and instantly, sharp pains reached his back and he screamed, falling to the floor. It was like several leaches had spread their reach through out his whole back and were sucking the blood out of him. The bruises thickening from a brown to a deep purple-blue.

As he looked up, he saw a broken chair in front of him, a few of the legs slightly ripped out of place. He gasped as he felt Slade lift him up by the shirt.

"I know it hurts," Slade cooed to him softly.

Robin shook his head, spreading the migraine towards the front of his forehead from the back of his neck.

"To think that you haven't had a family..." Slade commented.

Then Slade's eye met Robin's, "I can give you that, Robin."

Robin's mouth opened slightly as Slade continued, "I can give you what your parents wanted for you. I can help you succeed, be a teacher to you."

"No," Robin said, "They wouldn't want me to..."

"Be happy?" Slade asked.

Robin stopped, before Slade threw him back towards the fireplace. He hit the other sofa.

"I can give you a life again," Slade said, the sinister edge back in his voice.

"I don't want that kind of life!" Robin yelled, crawling away.

Slade ignored him, "Something Batman never did."

"No!" Robin felt his eyes becoming wet.

He loved his life before. He wanted to keep it. He wanted to laugh and joke with his friends and he wanted to drive through the streets of Gotham, flying past skyscrapers... Even if Bruce was dead. Even if... He had to keep his promise, become his successor... What kind of life would it be to live in terror? The kind of terror he was feeling now. He instinctively felt Slade reaching down to grab him by the collar again. He leapt out of the way to one of the wall hangings again, but this time, he didn't stop there and leapt up to the ceiling chandelier above the dinner table, holding on for dear life, hoping that it would hold him.

"Think of yourself for once," Slade said, "Live so that you can be happy!"

"I won't be happy!" Robin yelled, "I'm not going to follow you! I'm not! And I never will!"

Slade walked over to the table and picked up the bloody steak knife. Robin looked down and was able to duck the spinning blade...

But it hit the chandelier's hold instead.

It came crashing down and somehow, by the skin of his teeth, Robin forced himself over to the sofa next to the table, falling to the floor with his momentum. He felt his right foot twist awkwardly and he cried out, his nerves all sending the same painful messages to his brain. He shook his head and slowly forced his way up, standing blearily, before he heard it, from behind. The Boy Wonder spun around to see Slade coming straight at him. Slade caught hold of his two wrists and slammed the boy into the coffee table, and Robin heard it cracking beneath him. He struggled to get free, to get out as Slade hovered over him from the side.

"Stop," Slade ordered.

Robin looked up at him instantly, their eyes never moving, "Just accept it."

Robin couldn't move, like his brain wasn't functioning. Slade was mere inches away from him.

"I did this for your benefit Robin," Slade told him, "Just look at you."

Robin shook his head; strands of hair held together by sweat fell from to the sides of his head or clung to his neck. As Slade's grip on his left arm loosened, he tried to free himself, only to feel Slade grab him harder and within a second's notice, pull his arm out of the shoulder socket. Robin gasped several times, the pain reaching down his arm, parallelizing him for the moment and making it difficult to remember to breathe.

"Look at what you can become," Slade said, gesturing down to Robin's toned arm and then to his chest, which was exposed in places where his shirt had torn, bringing Robin's focus to just how much he had trained himself already.

But he hated Slade being in his face. He hated Slade even pointing at him. It made him struggle further and it became harder to think straight as he frantically, desperately wanted...

Make it stop...

"They never let you," Slade whispered, "And never would..."

"Please..." Robin begged.

He had to get out. He had to keep his promise, to Bruce. The banging and the faint yells from the door wouldn't stop and it only mad his headache worse...

"How very sad... That you were in a position like that for so long..."


Slade smacked Robin in the face and brought his hand up to grab Robin's chin again, a few of his fingers grasping at the boy's neck as well, forcing the boy to look at him. Robin struggled to free himself, an ever fading fight as Slade held his wrist while his fingers and palm twisted frantically... though that too began to die.

"You do not give me orders," Slade whispered sinisterly.

Robin felt mute, unable to say anything, any words to defend himself, his eyes wetter than they had ever been in the last few weeks.

Slade laughed amused, "Has it finally gotten through to you?"

Robin remained frozen as Slade continued, "What am I to you?"

Robin gasped and swallowed, trying desperately in his mind to not answer... He just wanted it to stop.

"I'm waiting," Slade whispered, to the torn and bleeding boy looking up at him.

"...master..." Robin's lips finally muttered, trembling.

"What was that?" Slade edged on.

"Master!" Robin yelled, terror taking over his will to remain silent.

Slade smiled, "That's right, Robin... But what else?"

What else?

Robin's mind rewound everything. Everything that Slade had ever said, done. Wasn't 'Master' good enough... Slade saw Robin's masked eyes freeze. He had found 'what else'. Robin looked up at him like he was crazy. He couldn't say that. He could never say that. How could... He couldn't do that! The constant banging on the door didn't even register anymore.

"I said 'what else'?" Slade repeated, leaning forward so that Robin could feel Slade's hot breath tickling his neck and cheek, causing him to shiver because... he really was afraid.

"No... no, no... please, don't make me..."

Slade lifted Robin up briefly and slammed him back into the table, making Robin feel as though he had cracked his skull, the rest of his body, losing any form of sense. The boy yelped.

"What else!?" Slade demanded.

Robin gasped, the tears finally recognizing their place, purpose, as he felt like he was dieing inside.

I'm sorry.

Robin muttered something that barely qualified as a word, not even able to look at Slade

"What was that?" Slade asked him.

Robin looked up at him, submissively, "... father..."

"I couldn't quite hear that," He egged.

"FATHER!" Robin screamed, "Father! You're, you're a father... to me... a father..."

And with that, Robin felt the tears, flowing past his eyes, the mask and he felt his chest heave up and down as he sobbed. What kind of person was he...

I'm sorry.

Slade leaned back, to his own surprise, finally satisfied. The boy kept sobbing even after he let him go, all the while, the boy's lips moved back and forth as though repeating the same inaudible line. Robin cried on the table, unable to take it. His head was killing him; his body was numb except for pin points where the pain was overwhelming. And all the while, the worst thing about it was the absolute hate for himself, which washed over him, like he couldn't feel it, however much he wanted to. Slade patted Robin's cheek twice, before holding it which, each time to Robin felt like he was being stung with a venomous poison.

"That's my boy."

Just outside, Adeline continued to bang on the door, her throat beginning to become horse and sore from yelling so much, "Slade! Slade! Let me in! Slade, come on! Slade!"

She was cut short as the door pulled open and the sight in front of her made her stomach heave. His pants had a few holes in them as though they had been caught on a corner. His shirt held the same lackluster, though parts also looked as though the fabric had been severely stretched and he was missing a shoe... She stepped back as Slade walked past her, carrying a boy in his arms. A bruised, bloody, tear stained, crying boy, who didn't even seem to care what was going on around him. She only caught a few words coming from Dick that both startled and alarmed her.

"I'm sorry... I'm, I'm sorry, please... I'm sorry..." He continued, barely uttering the words from his mouth as he rested against Slade's chest as Slade held him up by his back and the backs of his knees, the boy's feet and arms dangling limply down towards the ground.

"...Slade?" Adeline finally managed, "What... what happened?"

Slade could hear the scared tone in her voice, but as he was prone to do, solemnly answered, "He'll be alright."

And he walked off without so much as stopping, leaving her to stand in shock in the empty hallway. The whole way there, Slade continued to hear Robin apologizing. To who or for what, he really didn't feel like it mattered. He opened the door to Robin's room and carefully, placed the boy on the bed.

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

He walked over to a small chest in the corner and opened it up to reveal a small syringe. Robin didn't even seem to notice. This would help him, for now, to calm down. Slade cleaned a patch of skin on Robin's arm and carefully slipped the needle underneath it. Gently, he pushed it in allowing it to take hold of Robin's conscious.

"... i'm sorry... i'm sorry..."

"Shhh..." Slade whispered, "There's nothing to be sorry for."

Robin gasped weakly and shook his head barely... "... i'm... sorry..."


Slade watched as Robin fell asleep and the tears begin to cake on his face and under his mask as the last thing Robin saw was a faint green glow from a fading memory... It was amazing really. After months of planning, a month of working with the boy, weakening his mental walls guarding whatever the Bat had told him were worthy of such protection... He had done it. Robin knew who he was now. Robin was his Apprentice and he was Robin's Master. He looked away, the last piece of what he had done finally catching up to him.

How extraordinary it was... the thing that he had created. From a successor, he had somehow managed to gain a son as well. It was a feeling that he hadn't felt in ages. The pride one haves from being... a father. While perhaps, he realized that he had never been fully adept to recognizing or acknowledging that desire of being a father, the feeling, to have it fulfilled... It really was extraordinary...

He glanced back at the sleeping boy, who now knew how fully dependent he was on him. Slade got up and left, knowing that the boy would need medical attention far beyond that of a simple anesthesia. He moved past the door and before he closed it, he looked back at Robin. The teen, no matter how old he had gotten, he still held that youthful face, almost like a child's. Slade slowly, passively shut the door and walked off, his work, his goal, finally done.