Chapter Thirty-One: Mud and Rain
bowl smashed into pieces as it hit the floor. Robin jumped, a natural
reaction. Wintergreen looked over and nodded for Robin to clean it up –
just as he had been expecting. He got down on his knees and began to
collect what he would have used for his breakfast bowl. Surprisingly, he
had received an awful lot of freedom, though at the same time, he never
got to go outside in the three weeks that he had been there. At least,
he thought it had been three weeks. For some reason, he thought that
Slade might have been messing with his concept of time, as he was
positive that none of the clocks held the same time.
No matter. He
had stayed long enough and he didn't care if there was nothing around
for miles. He would run as long as he had to. The only thing that made
him feel slightly bad about this, the whole escape plan, was that Ms.
Kane wouldn't be going with him. But at the same time, he knew that he
would have a better chance at helping her get that information when he
was back in Gotham or Jump. Robin would take the chance that he had.
"So where's Slade?" He asked casually, as he hid a particularly large shard in his pocket.
"He left early this morning," Wintergreen told him, without looking up.
"Huh?" Robin asked, he hadn't been expecting that.
"He does this often," the butler answered, "It isn't unusual."
"Oh..." Robin said.
was going to be better than he had expected, though he wasn't going to
bet that Wintergreen was telling the truth. He picked up the remaining
shards and threw them in the trash before getting a new bowl and pouring
himself some cereal. Grabbing the milk from the fridge, Robin sat down
and pushed his cereal around until he reached what had already been
drenched in milk. Wintergreen finished the dishes and pulled out the bag
of trash that had been filled by the recent broken bowl fragments.
"Take this out to the garage when you're done," Wintergreen said and with that, he left the room.
swallowed what was in his mouth and looked at the bag. It was his
ticket out of here, so to speak. Though the only reason that he'd need
to take a shower after this little escape was, he hoped, going to come
from his own sweat. He picked up the bowl and drank the remnants of the
milk before wiping his mouth and grabbing the thin coat on the side of
the door. He tied up the bag and opened the door to the garage.
enough, except for the four cars placed in the garage, though the cool
temperature that penetrated the room was more distracting than the
vehicles. It was a surprisingly neat garage. Slade hadn't let him
actually go outside and this meant that when Slade or Wintergreen said
'take out the trash', they meant put it in the garage and someone else
would take care of it later. Robin though, on his many trips into the
garage figured out one thing. The security here was perhaps the most
vulnerable in comparison to the rest of the house. There were two
cameras and four large doors to allow the cars in and out. The doors
themselves had dual-protection: one was that they were massively heavy
and the other was that they had extremely acute sensors.
issues? Lifting the doors and getting rid of the sensors. It hadn't been
until this morning that he had figured out how to solve these problems.
The fact that Slade wasn't here (or rather shouldn't be; Robin would
still be acting as though he was) was even better. Robin walked over to
where he normally placed the trash, though not before he tore a large
piece of the plastic off of the bag's end. That's when he jumped.
the camera above him, he stretched the plastic over it until it stayed
without having to be held both because of pressure and because of how he
shaped it. He dropped to the ground and ran over to the other camera
and preceded to do the same. Then he ran back to the corner and
proceeded to kick the door of the driver's seat open. He slipped inside
and underneath to where the wires connected. He wasn't Cyborg, but he
knew a thing or two about how to start a car without a key.
engine revved and Robin smiled. Abruptly, he sat in the driver's seat
and proceeded to move the car so that the exhaust pipe was angled as
close as possible to the sensor box, near the right wheel. As soon as it
was close enough, Robin turned off the car - otherwise he risked being
killed by carbon dioxide. Jumping out, Robin slid to the back of the car
and saw that there was but a few centimeters difference between the
exhaust pipe and sensor. Once again grateful for the long hours of
working out, Robin slid the car over carefully. Now was the time that he
slipped out the shards of the bowl from his sleeve. As soon as he was
done shoving them into the pipe, Robin went back into driver's seat and
ignited the engine.
He heard the flying glass spit out of the pipe
and instantly, the dying sound of electricity was heard. Robin looked
up and saw the sensor- destroyed. He smiled. Popping the trunk of the
car, he searched for anything that he could use for a lever for the
door. A hammer... he grabbed it and began to hit the trunk door as hard
as he could. It came off within thirty seconds. Pulling it off, he slid
it under the garage door. He pulled a spare tire from the side, picked
it up and dropped it hard. Just as he had thought, the door inched up,
but was still too small to squeeze through. One more thing... Robin
grabbed the trash and dropped it on top of the tire. Just enough if he
took off the jacket. So he did.
Robin slid his way under the
garage door, pulled his coat under, and was off. He didn't know what
sort of defenses he'd run into now that he was out, but he didn't care.
He was this close. He was out of the Estate. He was going home...
wherever home was now. Wayne Manor, Titans Tower, anywhere. Just not the
Estate or anywhere that Slade had easy access to.
headed east, as he figured by the sun's rays through the trees and thin overcast of clouds. East was probably going to get him to the shore
or a road the fastest which would lead to civilization or a public
area. The entire forest seemed to be frozen over, though by no means was
it a winter wonderland. It was deserted, it was so cold. If he hadn't
been running, Robin would have guessed that he wouldn't be feeling his
fingers right now. The wind hit the Boy Wonder and he pulled his jacket
over him. It wasn't much, but every bit helped. As he climbed over
fallen tree trunks and dodged, he wondered how far away he was from
His eyes softened. It felt odd to run there, when
he had previously run elsewhere. It wasn't even home anymore, now that
he thought about it... He took in a deep breath of cold air. So what? It
was better than here and from there, he could reach the Titans, who he
should have never pushed away. Sad how that had been a mistake that he
had constantly repeated. With his friends, Bruce... He had to make it
right with his friends. It wasn't like he could do it with Bruce now. It
was his job to live up to what he was taught to do... especially after
everything... his mind drifted in the cold air...
"You think I don't care about your well being?" Bruce whispered and looked down at him.
And ever defiantly...
Robin was shocked back into reality and at the jarring sound, immediately hid behind a tree. What was...?
shots? What? That meant someone else was out here. Someone else...
Could they help him? Or... Robin gulped back the thought that came to
mind. Either way, his methodical mind began to process his situation.
Could they even see him? He looked like just another tree practically,
he was pretty thin. The boy wonder made a mental note to never tell
anyone about that thought. They'd never let him live it down. But onto
his primary concern... was he in the line of fire? The chances... He
looked around, but saw no signs of movement. It did little to ease his
fears as hunters didn't move much intentionally... His best chance was
to make himself a hard target and keep moving...
He breathed in
quickly and let it out, crystal clear, as the puffs of smoke that had
escaped him earlier were long since gone. He set out again, making his
way through the woods. He heard nothing, saw nothing, but swerved just
in case. It was all he...
turned his head towards the echoing sound when suddenly, his foot
snagged a tree's exposed root while his forward momentum continued. By
the time he reacted and spun his head around, it was too late and he
fell face first into the snow. The sensation startled him as his whole
front shuddered with cold. His whole face hurt and he couldn't breathe.
It was then that he realized that he had fallen into a pit of cold muck
He lifted his head up and got to his knees, coughing out as the pieces
of mud clung to his face and jacket, even the legs of his pants. His
hands were freezing. The boy wonder felt himself unintentionally shiver.
He was wet, cold, and had no idea where he was; how long...
heard the song of metal pieces hit against themselves as they landed in
front of him. Robin looked up to see a man towering over him, a large
male deer lying dead over his shoulders, the gun by his side. He was
covered in winter gear, but his face was exposed. Robin gulped. Slade
looked at him oddly, passively, but without much concern. After a
moment, Slade broke the silence.
"Well get up," He said.
nodded and began to push himself up as Slade picked up the gun. The boy
wonder felt his shoes fill with the sloshing mud as he stood up, but he
didn't have much time to dwell on the fact as Slade gripped his upper
arm tightly. The numbing sensation was gone as he walked along side
Slade back to the Estate. All of the cold seeped in as the long minutes
slowly ticked away. He wondered how long he had been running for. His
entire focus had been on other things. Had he really been caught that
quickly? It felt hopeless...
The overcast weather remained and
deepened in its gray color. He thought that he heard thunder somewhere,
but then again, maybe it was just another gun shot. Neither spoke to the
other. Slade's pace didn't change. It was smooth, easy. His posture
changed only once – to re-adjust the deer on his shoulders. Robin
shivered again. It was a slightly creepy thing to see, the deer lying
limp like a mere doll. Sooner than he had expected, the Estate came back
into view. Back. He closed his eyes and he trudged his way forward to
keep up with Slade.
As they reached the Estate's edge, they came
up to a spring well, surrounded by rocks, an old style. Slade forced
Robin to his knees next to it. The boy refused to look at him, the red
color in his cheeks coming from not just the cold. Ever the dignified
child... Slade thought.
"Stay here," He told Robin before leaving for the house.
Boy Wonder didn't even try to escape. It was no use now. He was in no
condition to attempt an escape now. He would die of hypothermia before
making it to a road, any path to civilization. He couldn't believe it.
Of all of the things. He was caught even when Slade wasn't looking for
him. Was the world out to get him? The logical side of him reminded him
that Slade might have found out and really was looking for him, and he
wasn't tempted to believe it. He half wondered what Slade would do to
him when he saw the shape of the Mustang...
He heard the crunching
of snow and looked over to see Slade walking back towards him, the deer
and gun gone. The elder stopped at the well and began winding the
handle, bringing up the bucket. They both could hear the water sloshing
around inside of it. Robin's face remained tight. He was both furious as
well as frustrated. There was even a bit of disbelief in there as well.
Slade saw it. It wasn't like he missed these things. You learn those
sorts of things as an assassin for hire. Wintergreen had called him and
told him that Robin hadn't been seen on the cameras for a while. He
hadn't been too worried, though he would keep an eye out for him.
Perhaps save time. If he hadn't found him, he could have tracked him
with the chip in Robin's coat pocket.
Funny how coincidences
worked out for him. He might have normally severely punished the boy,
however, he could see the defeat in Robin's face, even through the mask.
He might as well make the most out of this. As the bucket reached the
top of the well, he took off his gloves (to keep them from getting
ruined by the well's water) and pulled the bucket over to sit on the
side. Though the air was cold around them, the water was still fairly
warm as it came from a silent, secure spring. Scooping some into his
hands, Slade brought it over to Robin's head and carefully poured it
over the boy's mud ridden hair. He wouldn't let it trail into the
"I'm impressed," He said, going back to the bucket, "You actually made an attempt."
repeated the process and Robin tensed, "You must be thinking how
unfortunate it is that your skills are only mediocre. Otherwise, you
might have had more luck."
"I don't bet on luck," Robin spat.
"Yes, well, none of us do," Slade commented, "A shame that none of your attempts are ever good enough..."
dumped the rest of the water on top of Robin's head and threw the
bucket back down the well, "For yourself or anyone else it seems."
Robin said nothing as Slade pulled the bucket back up, "Or am I making a false assumption again?"
"I was good enough to get your attention, it seems," Robin said bitterly as more muddy water ran down on him.
you were," Slade admitted, "But you miss the mark in your comparison.
The ability to get my attention came from your outstanding potential.
Expectations only focus on achievement."
Slade dropped the bucket
again as Robin barely looked up at him. Their eyes met briefly and he
closed the connection, "I don't do things only to meet people's
Slade smirked, "Oh, I'm sure..."
He found the
bucket again, "Every time you stayed up late losing sleep to work on
stopping Jump's criminal element, it wasn't to show that you were a
capable leader to the Titans, was it? And every time you went out in
Gotham and knocked the bad guys senseless, it wasn't to impress Batman.
Or was it?"
Robin turned to look up at Slade, "I did things like that because they're my friends, Slade."
because Batman was your mentor, right?" Slade finished, "For a mentor,
if he expected so much, he should have taught you how to succeed at such
a high mark. Unless of course, he just wanted you to lag, so that he
could use you like a pawn, like he did everyone else."
"Batman didn't do that to people," Robin argued... "He didn't do that to me."
"You were always second," Slade said, "Always at the end of 'Batman and...'."
"So why would you believe that he or anyone else wouldn't, Robin?" Slade asked, picking up the bucket.
dumped the rest of the cold water on Robin's head, most of the mud gone
now. Robin felt the cold burning into him and sucking out the heat from
him. And with it, went his sense of grounding. Slade dropped the bucket
for a final time and faced him.
"Come on," He said.
saw Slade heading inside and got up to follow. However, instead of what
he had thought would feel like a defeated return, Robin found himself
shrouded by his own thoughts and contemplations. Slade opened the door
and let Robin come inside before code locking the door again. It was
about time the boy came inside; his lips had been turning almost a dark
purple-ish blue. He led Robin to the hallway that connected Robin's room
to his bathroom and left him to himself for the rest of the day. He had
already given the boy enough to think about as it was.
found himself a clean set of clothes before leaving himself to his room
for the rest of the day. He was slightly cheered by the fact that he
didn't have to go to dinner with Ms. Kane and Slade as Slade had decided
to eat by himself that night. He went to bed early that night as time
seemed to pass quickly for him. Taking off the mask, Dick laid down
under the covers of his bed and switched off the light, letting the
darkness engulf him and lull him to sleep. As his eyes drifted slowly
downwards over his eyes, he wondered how likely it was that Slade had
actually been correct in his statements.
Yes, he had always wanted
to impress Batman. And yes... he had seen Batman use people, though
never by saying anything to them... he wondered if that was the same as
using them though... But yes, he wanted to seem capable to his friends,
who all had superpowers of some sort or another... But Bruce wouldn't
have ever used him... No. Because Bruce... The memory from before
returned as did his answer to Bruce's question.
short, 'no, he didn't think Bruce cared.' Dick shut his eyes and shook
his head. He hadn't meant it. He hadn't really believed that... He
hadn't... Bruce had cared. That's why he would have never used him...
But... Doubt seeped into his mind and Dick recognized it immediately. He
shut his eyes tightly, silently in his mind refusing to let it in. It
couldn't... It should... never... He suddenly yawned.
He was too
tired to be thinking straight; he had to realize that... Dick shut his
eyes, hoping that sleep would blissfully take him somewhere else,
because he knew that he couldn't deal with anything here.
time for snow had long since passed in Gotham. Instead, ice chilling
rain had decided to terrorize the city, forcing everyone inside to stay
warm. Well... almost everyone. Red X was currently trying to find such a
place that could provide him with some shelter as the hotel that he had
been staying at had long since kicked him out. He couldn't believe that
Robin hadn't contacted him in a month. He wasn't about to do anymore
favors for that guy for a while.
Right about then, he hit black
ice and found himself lying on the ground after hitting the side of the
building's fence. It continued to rain. Tonight was not one of his
nights. He watched for a moment as rain drops splattered on his mask
when he saw light coming from the distance. Sitting up and spinning
around, he saw the Bat-Signal shining into the clouds from a building
nearby. It couldn't be...
Red X got up and jumped across to the
next building, careful to make sure that he wasn't about to hit more
black ice. Running around the side, he saw a man with an umbrella on the
next roof over standing next to the origin of the lighted bat in the
sky. The man flicked off the switch and Red X realized that he must be
looking at the famous Commissioner James Gordon. As his eyes had long
since adjusted to the lack of lighting, he watched as Gordon left the
roof and went down a few flights. On a side note, X couldn't believe how
many windows the Police Department actually had.
into a room filled with three others, where the window was open just
slightly. Intrigued, Red X jumped down the fire escape he had been next
to and across to a ledge of the Police Department on the same level
Gordon and the others were on. X crept over to the window and held onto a
drain line, listening to the conversation, thankful that he had some
shelter from the rain from where he was standing.
"A little stuffy in here, isn't it?" Gordon asked.
"Better than it is outside," the other man noted.
"Nice come back, Harvey," a woman stated sarcastically.
"Can we please just get on with this," He saw a dark haired woman say; she sounded tired.
"Very well, Yin," Gordon said, "I assume everyone brought what they found. Sawyer?"
other woman, Sawyer, spoke up, "Well, out of the... long list that you
gave us sir, I can't say that any of these people had any shady
"None of them had a record," Harvey chimed in,
"Well, Wreith did for stealing from a candy stand at the age of twelve,
but nothing else."
Gordon shook his head, "It would figure."
if I might add, I don't think they were all killed for the same
reason," Yin stated, "If we look at each case individually instead of
As she trailed off, Gordon passed his eyes over
each of them, "Let's go over this then. We've got, in order, Max Wreith,
Efrem Austin, Bard, Clara Thompson, Edwin Beagle, Bennett, Bruce Wayne,
Earle, and Kane."
"Well, Bard probably knew something," Sawyer
said, "It's not like he was just anyone in our department. And who knows
what Bennett saw..."
"Wayne and Earle might have been funding something," Harvey offered.
"Well, what about the others? Wreith, Austin, and Beagle were retired," Yin
stated, "And who knows what Thompson had to do with anything."
"Beats me," Harvey said, "Though I think Austin might have been a name once. Don't really remember."
"Look into their previous jobs," Gordon said, almost in an off tone like he wasn't really paying any attention.
"Huh?" Harvey asked.
"It might reveal something," Gordon said.
"What about Kane?" Sawyer stated, "She took in Wayne's kid, right?"
"Yes, she did," Yin stated, "Adeline also headed up the security in Wayne Tower after Wayne's murder, too."
Adeline? Wait, Adeline Kane? Red X leaned in to hear better. Wait. Did that mean...?
"After she disappeared, where did the kid go again?" Harvey asked.
man named Grant Wilson was granted guardianship of Grayson, through
some process of the law," Gordon filled in, remembering the migraine
that had been for him and nearly everyone else, "Apparently, he was a
good friend of Kane's."
Grant Wilson? What on earth? And what did they mean Adeline Kane had 'disappeared'? His interest was beginning to peak...
doubt that following the lead on Wayne's will will actually do
anything," Sawyer stated, "Wouldn't this Wilson guy have gotten sniped at by
now if that was part of it?"
"She's got a point there," Harvey said.
"Well, you got any other brilliant leads?" Yin asked, negatively.
"Hey, hey, I'm not the Batman," Harvey stated, pulling his hands up defensively.
"Really, I could have sworn you were," Sawyer stated sarcastically.
"Not like you're Sherlock Holmes either," Harvey said.
"Enough!" Gordon yelled, and Red X heard the man turn the rest of them.
department has relied on Batman to save our skins, not to mention
everyone else's like it was his job to do so, when in reality, he does
it out of his own self-sacrifice," Gordon stated, "As much as I
appreciate and hope for his assistance and Robin's, he's not here. So
let's actually do what we're paid to do. I believe that we can be just
The other three looked at Gordon, shocked into
silence. Gordon had always endorsed the Bat, though it was a startling
reminder to hear it from him that they should be just as reliable.
sighed and took off his glasses, rubbing them with a tissue before
placing them back on his face, "Look into our four unknowns, Austin,
Wreith, Thompson, and Beagle. Something tells me that's our best lead
for now. I'm willing to bet that Bennett, Bard, and possibly Kane
probably found out something they shouldn't have. As for Wayne and
Earle, let's count their murders for business reasons most likely..."
Gordon paused again and Red X waited with baited breath... 'Come on, go back to Kane and Wilson...' He thought.
"Dismissed," He said.
And Red X growled silently.
Inside he heard from Harvey, "What was that?"
looked up automatically and X knew it was time to dash. Just as he made
it around the corner of the building, he heard Gordon fling the window
open. Somehow, he knew what they had all been hoping, but there wasn't a
trace of either of the dynamic duo anywhere. It was like the hope kept
Red X waited to move until he heard Gordon shut the
window, when he made his way to the rooftop. He walked over to the
Bat-Signal. The metal outline of the bat was battered by the cold rain.
He felt like kicking it in frustration. They couldn't keep talking about
Kane, could they? But as much as he hated the whole thing, somehow,
seeing the signal's sad position out in the cold with him, softened his
He traced the outline of the bat with a gloved finger as he
thought. So this whole thing was what Robin was working on. And Batman
wasn't here to help for whatever reason... But what on... The thing that
baffled him the most was Adeline Kane's involvement, including her
'disappearance' which, despite himself, worried him. Not to mention
everything with the will and Ravager...
He sneezed and was brought
back to his current situation. He had to get inside. Somewhere. Even
his back was soaked in spite of the cape covering him. He jumped to the
next roof, leaving the Bat-Signal and the Police Department behind.
After a few blocks, he found two men talking outside while waiting for a
cab. They had already set their briefcases down. A perfect score.
Tossing a pebble at one of them, they fell down the steps from the
building. As one of them ran down to get them, he snagged the other's
wallet out from his back pocket. Four hundred buck – easy cash. He was
good at what he did.
It took him just minutes to reach the nearest
hotel. Before he went in, he changed the Red X uniform in favor of
street clothes. It didn't change the fact that he was still dripping
wet. He handed the man at the desk cash for one night and a dinner and
got a key. What a scene that must have been. Heading up to the room, he
threw the concealed uniform (that he had hidden in a small bag) to the
side and looked out the window. Robin had better have figured out
something for this case. He threw off the soaking wet shirt, shoes, and
socks. Out of everything to get involved in... He shook his head. None
of this made any sense...
It was then, as he collapsed on the bed
that he determined that he'd make it make sense, as far as he could at
least. He wasn't very skilled in that department, but it was worth a
shot... And then he realized he'd have to do research. Like... school
work. He groaned. It was official:
This night couldn't get any worse.