"You let them both go?!" Just because they said the would stop?!" Tim Drake asked the man who sat in his chair before his cluster of monitors. The man was fully clothed in dark gray and blue, his face only visible because he had his cowl off.
"Yes Tim, I let them both go. I believed them. I did have to atone for my mistake later, but I thought at the time they were telling the truth." Bruce Wayne then turned back to his monitors. Tim couldn't help but laugh.
"You let Mr. Freeze and a murderer walk! You did! Not me, not Dick, not Batgirl, you!"* Tim was laughing so hard now that he promptly fell off of his chair and was greeted by the cold concrete of the Batcave.
*Batman #1-#2. If you missed them, shame on you - Kelen
"I myself found it odd Master Timothy," Alfred Pennyworth added as he descended the stairs from the ‘normal' part of Wayne Manor. "But even Master Bruce has made wrong judgments." Tim stopped laughing when he heard this.
"Yeah, I'll say," he said quietly as he stood. It had been a few weeks since Bruce had told his girlfriend Stephanie Brown aka Spoiler his secret identity, but he was still very angry about it. How many times have I saved your id Bruce? Tim thought as watched Bruce keep his sole attention on his monitors. And you just want to go tell Steph like it's nothing! He slammed his fist into the nearby table, spilling his drink in the process.
"Are you okay Tim?" Bruce asked as he whirled around.
"Yeah Bruce, just got some stuff on my mind."
"You have all week to deal with your problems Master Timothy," Alfred chimed in. "After all, this is your spring break." He put a comforting hand on Tim's shoulder.
"Thanks Alfred," Tim said as he brightened slightly. "I think I'm gonna get out of here though, go see Ives. I'll see you back at Brentwood when it's time though right Alfred?"
"Certainly sir." Alfred smiled. Tim waved and began to head up the steps for the door when someone coming down the steps bumped into him. Stephanie.
"Hi Tim," she said timidly, afraid of what he might say. "I haven't seen you for awhile. You're on spring break right?" Tim set his jaw and tried to be as nice as possible.
"Yeah I'm out this week," he replied as if he was talking to the wall. "Just came through here to see Alfred."
"Oh," Steph's voice could not hide her disappointment. "I'll see you around then." She stepped out of Tim's way.
"Later." Tim responded. He then bounded up the steps and was gone. Stephanie walked over to Alfred who had just finished cleaning up Tim's spilled drink.
"Do you think he'll ever forgive me Alfred?" she asked worriedly.
"I do Miss Brown, but it will take time."
"I agree with Alfred Spoiler," Bruce said standing up. "Like you said, we've both betrayed Robin, and he's hurt by it. But when it comes down to it, I believe Tim will come around." Steph looked back at the steps.
"I sure hope so..."
A few minutes later, Tim was driving towards the Gotham Heights district. It's good to know some things never change. Everything is exactly how I left it. Deciding to grab a parking spot while he could still find one, Tim pulled over and parked. Ives' house was only a few more blocks away and the walk would help Tim clear his head. He wasn't far along when he heard an all too familiar voice:
"Tim? Tim is that you?" Tim looked up and couldn't believe his eyes. It was Ariana Dzerchenko, his ex-girlfriend. And to make matters worse she was hanging off of Glenn Doppler's arm.
"Ariana? What are you doing here?" Tim asked bewildered.
"I just moved back here. My school was getting too violent for my uncle with 2 shootings in a week, and he thought it was best for me to come to Gotham Heights, instead of going back to Little Odessa." Tim nodded and smiled but soon noticed that Glenn was eyeing him. Not in the mood, Tim glared right back. Ari quickly took note of this. "This is Glenn Doppler Tim, my b...my friend. She had to nudge Glenn in the ribs to get him to extend his hand, which Tim reluctantly shook.
"Nice to meet you Glenn," Tim said through clenched teeth.
"Ditto," Glenn replied as he offered his worst smile.
"I'm so glad you two are getting along!" Ari said with glee. She could tell that ‘along' wasn't the word. "Have you moved back to Gotham Tim?" she asked sincerely. Tim looked into her eyes and almost lost his composure.
"Umm....no, I'm still at Brentwood. I'm here on spring break." He answered awkwardly.
"Too bad," Ari stated. Was that a look of sadness in her eyes? He quickly dismissed the thought. "Well, Glenn and I have to go catch a movie. But I'll see you around Tim. Hopefully." With that she turned and yanked Glenn, who was still staring hard at Tim.
"It couldn't be...she can't really...there's no way," Tim said softly to himself. "Forget it." He finally decided with a wave of his hand. "Drake you are definitely losing it." He looked at his watch. 9:14PM. I better get to Ives.
"No!" King Snake barked harshly. "You move too slow pig. How many times must I tell you?!" He bent his head towards his student, his white eyes glowing with anger. The pupil kept his head low from within the confines of his dark cloak. "You shouldn't have to tell me Sensei," the figure confessed. "I will continue to improve." King Snake stood again and took a stance.
"You better worm. You're not paying me enough not to kill you. Now stand and continue."
Ives had welcomed Tim back in style. Case of soda, all the junk food they could want, leftover dinner, and a Kevin Smith marathon.
"Kevin Smith is a genius," Ives stated sleepily.
"I agree," Tim responded as he shoved another handful of popcorn into his mouth. He was showing no signs of tiring. "I think he should write comics. Can you imagine him writing Green Devil? That would be amazing!"
"Yup," Ives said as he closed his eyes and yawned.
"I can't wait until his new movie comes out. I'm gonna skip school to go see it." Tim laughed at his statement, knowing that he wasn't really gonna skip. Chances are he would be out as Robin anyway that day. "I think my favorite was Dogma, but I'm one of the few that liked Mallrats. How about you?" Silence. "Ives? How about you?" Nothing again. He looked down at his friend who was sleeping soundly with a hand in the chips. Lovely. My friend goes to sleep on me. Just when I was starting to forget my troubles. Oh well. He reached for the remote and shut off the TV and VCR. He then carefully stepped over Ives, picked up his jacket, and was out the door.
"Unnnghhh!" Spoiler yelped as she hit the ground hard. She barely had the presence of mind to roll away before Batgirl stomped on her head. Steph warily rolled to her feet, just in time to block Batgirl's flying fists. Can't let her show me up again..., Spoiler thought as she leapt to the other side of the room to get some air. Can't keep losing to this bimbo, and with that she launched into a roundhouse kick when Batgirl rushed her. Too bad Batgirl stopped in mid-run, grabbed Steph's leg and reeled her in. She gripped Spoiler by her shirt and gave her 2 love taps to the forehead. Batgirl then let go and Stephanie slumped to the mat. DING
"Spoiler you have been immobilized," came Batman's voice over the speaker. "You lose." Spoiler slammed her hand into the mat in frustration. She then yanked off her mask and fell into a heap. "No one said this was gonna be easy Spoiler.
"I knew it wasn't gonna be easy. But how come so many people have to be hurt in the process?!" she practically screamed at Bruce, who was on the other side of the glass. I think it's time to end this session Stephanie. You two can come out of there." To his surprise, Batgirl helped Steph to her feet and led her out of the room.
"Don't you think you're being a little hard on her sir?" Alfred asked as he rose from his seat. "I don't recall you ever being this hard on Master Dick, or Master Timothy, or..." he paused. "Young Master Jason." The tension in the room could be cut with a knife.
"I have my reasons old friend," Bruce said, his voice a distant one. "It'll all pay off in the end." It was then Stephanie opened the door.
"I'm so sorry Bruce," she said as she plopped into a chair. "I'm not good enough. I can't do this."
"Nonsense," Batman said in a stiff tone. "There's nothing stopping you besides yourself. Just give it a little while long--"
"Don't you get it?!" Steph screamed. "I'm not Tim! I'm me! And if you can't accept that, then maybe I need to forget about all that you've told me." She then stormed out.
"You were saying sir?" Alfred asked dryly. Bruce had no reply.
It had taken Tim an hour to get home from Ives, mostly because he had drove to the park just to gather what thoughts he did have. It was late, but hopefully not too late so his dad wouldn't have words for him. As he entered, his father and Dana's eyes fell onto him.
"Have a good time?" Dana asked curiously.
"Yeah. I did. But I think I'm gonna head up to my room," He answered with a fake yawn for effect.
"Good night son," Jack added as Tim started up the steps.
"Good night dad." Tim responded. I hate lying to them. But I had to come home before I could head out for appearance's sake. He opened his bedroom door and entered, the night breeze blowing into his window. Closing the door, he fell onto his bed. "I wonder what Cassie's doing right now?" he asked himself as his thoughts drifted to fellow Titan Wonder Girl. He had been thinking about her a lot since what had happened with Steph and the Titans had formed. Not that he would be so quick to get in another relationship with a heroine again. Spoiler had taught him that lesson well. "It's not that I hate you Steph," he said as looked out the window. "Just I feel so--"
"Knock knock," Dana's voiced came from the other side.
"Come in," Tim replied as he sat up. Dana entered and closed the door.
"It's good to have you back in the house," she started, trying to find something to talk about.
"Yeah. No place like home right. How have you and dad been doing?"
"Pretty good I must say. Let's just say I don't have regrets. Yet." They both laughed. "But that's not what I wanted to come see you for Tim. There's something I want to talk to you about."
I hope they haven't gotten a report card or anything. I'm still failing 2 subjects! I better make an excuse. "I don't mean to be rude Dana, but can it wait until tomorrow? I'm beat and after I get some sleep, I'll be ready to talk. Is that okay?"
"Sure Tim," she said as her voice gave away her dismay. "Tomorrow. Good night."
"Good night. Dana then left the room, leaving the door open a crack. Thank goodness I got out of that. I don't know how I can explain the grades. 12:01AM. A half an hour, and I'm gone. He put on his headphones and picked up a book
Dana crept silently from her and Jack's bedroom towards Tim's bedroom at 12:32AM. I have to assure myself I'm not crazy. I have to make sure... Tim had left the crack in his door and Dana slid up to it and peeped in. No Tim in bed, just the open window. That's it. I can't hold off any longer. Tomorrow Timothy Drake, you and I will talk. She then went back to bed.
Robin's bo-staff crunched into another robbers jaw, sending him tumbling. Robin turned his head in time to see another one fire a semi-automatic. He quickly ducked, rolled, and planted a stiff fist to her chin. Their partners had regained their footing and decided to attack from behind. They charged but only ended up dangling from the Boy Wonder's back. The weight was forcing him down but he managed to brace himself from the fall and shake them off. One of them tried to use their so-called ninjitsu skill, but they quickly got intimate with Robin's elbow. The last standing made one last attempt at escape by sneaking up behind Robin with a cocked .44.
"Freeze chump," the crook said, his voice shaking from fear. "O-Or I'll send your Bat buddy his poultry dish he ordered." Robin dropped his staff, his next move already plotted out. "Let me walk, and you live." The crook added, feeling more confident as he went.
"Sorry," a figure said as they kicked the robber across his face as they landed. "That's against the rules. You have any rope Robin, I don't have any on me."
"Spoiler!" Robin said his voice filled with rage. "I had this!" He handed Stephanie some rope, which she promptly tied the thieves up with. Robin had already taken to the rooftops and she followed.
"Tim, you can't not talk to me forever! It's not like I asked for this!" Robin slowed down his escape and dropped down just in front of Spoiler.
"You sure didn't try to stop it though," he said with a harsh look.
"I know, I know, but I didn't think this was going to happen. Not to us. After all we been through are you gonna let this upset you to where there is no us?" Robin look turned to one of sadness. He walked up to Steph and stroked her face.
"Steph, that's the last thing I want to happen. I-I-_ just need some time, to get things straight. I know I've went crazy over this but you would too if you tried so hard to protect something..." his sentence trailed away. "All I need is a little more time, okay?" Stephanie nodded. Robin then launched his grappling line and was gone.
"I can give you time Tim," Spoiler said quietly. "I just hope you don't take forever..."
Robin swung with reckless abandon now, trying to shake free of his thoughts. But to no avail. "First Bruce betrays me, then Ari comes back, Steph wants me to forgive her, and my dad's gonna kill me once we have that talk about my grades. Times like this I wish I could just give up this...what's that?" His gaze fell below as several lights shown off of blades. "Whatever it is, I don't like it." He landed on the roof above the scene, where a band of ninjas were approaching a frightened young lady. No time for anything fancy, I have to get her out of there. Robin fired a line and swung in low to scoop the girl. The ninjas tried to stop him from swinging away but most were met by a boot. After clearing a safe path, Robin set the girl down. "Go! Before they catch up." Instead the woman whirled around and drew a katana blade. Before he could react she had sliced open the Boy Wonder's arm and sent him flying into a nearby wall. Dazed and confused, Robin's sight cleared up just in time to see the blade aimed at his neck and the ninjas closing in.
"Silly bird," the woman quipped as she brought the blade closer to his neck. "Mistakes are for kids..."
NEXT ISSUE: Who are these ninjas that have Robin at their mercy? Do they have anything to do with King Snake? Plus Dana and Tim have their little talk and the Drake family will be forever changed. Plus, why is Batman so insistent on Spoiler's training? Be here next time!