Gotham City. 2 a.m.
"Come on!" the crook yelled at his husky partner. "We got to get out of here before one of those damn heroes come!"
"What's your rush?" the bigger man said as his breathing grew heavier. "The Batman is out of town and no ones seen the brat in forever." He stumbled over a trash can. "I heard Riddler killed her."
"I don't like to take chances," the smaller man replied as he began to climb an old wooden fence. "What's in this briefcase is too valuable." He pulled himself up and over and hit the ground with a thud.
His partner made it to the fence but suddenly stopped.
"Higgins? What happened?" No answer. He reached in his coat pocket for his gun.
"I have a feeling you won't need that," a voice from above said as a batarang came smashing onto of the scared felons hand. The weapon dropped and fired harmlessly into the brick building nearby.
"Hey, what happened to the chick?" the crook said as he backed into a wall. His fingers fumbled at the knife in his pocket.
Robin grabbed his arm and twisted. The man fell to his knees and his knife clattered on the ground. "She couldn't handle the pressure," he responded as he kicked the thief in the jaw, knocking him cold.
A few minutes later, Robin deposited the two robbers and the briefcase onto the Gotham City PD's front steps, wrapped up neatly in rope.
As police scratched their head at their new "gift", the Boy Wonder wandered back into the night.
"Guess who back?" he said in a sing-songy voice.
Morning. Tim had come to hate that word again. In the months he spent not being Robin, he had actually gotten used to waking up refreshed and not bruised. Now, just sitting up was a painful reminder of what he didn't miss.
His alarm went off and he pounded the snooze button with viciousness. He had gotten in very late last night, party due to the thrill of having his identity back. I doubt that will last very long.
Dana came rushing into the room. "Tim, wake up, you're not hitting the...oh," she said when she saw Tim pulling on his jeans. "You look like crap."
"Thanks, and I feel like it," he replied as he pulled on his shirt. "Just give me some pop-tarts and I'll be good for today."
"I don't understand why you had to go out last night, it's not like there was a major threat out there. You should've gotten sleep for your first day at Gotham Heights." Dana said as pulled his blinds up and straightened his bed.
"Any type of crime is a threat Dana," Tim responded solemnly. "Besides, it's just high school, I've done this before." He sat back down on his bed and let his head fall into his hands as he tried to get his bearings.
"Yes, but when was the last time you got to see Ariana?" Dana asked curiously with a smirk. Tim sat up at the thought of his last encounter with Ari when she had invited him to help her pick out lingerie and the fake Spoiler had attacked Stephanie.* Stephanie. She leaves a bad taste in my mouth nowadays.
"So what, she's a just my friend, and I'm not concerned about anything other than school work," he answered as he slipped into his shoes and left the room. Dana followed closely.
"Sure Tim. Look I want you to come straight home this evening okay? No stops." Her voice was stern and it made Tim stop in his tracks.
"I thought we talked about this Dana," he whispered since his dad was within earshot. "You said you saw the need for me..."
"You big dummy," Dana sighed as she lightly smacked him. "I want to hear about what you and Ariana had to say." She smiled and continued down the stairs, leaving Tim shaking his head.
"Ready to get back to those books?" Jack Drake asked as Tim entered the kitchen. "And get those grades up?" He cocked a wary eye at his son.
"Yes father," Tim said. If you only knew what Dana knows...well then I would be stuck here all the time. "Has anyone seen my keys? I've looked all over the place and I can't seem to..."
Keys flew through the air as Tim whirled to catch them. As they landed in his palm, he couldn't believe what he saw. "These are the keys to the Redbird!"
"Yeah, I got it back from Bruce the other day. I think you can handle the responsibility now." Dana shot him a disapproving look as Tim wrapped his arms around his father.
"Look, I'm gonna go ahead and get out of here, I think I'm gonna pick up Ives," he said as he pulled his pop-tarts out of the toaster. He slung on his jacket and coat. "Thanks again, dad!"
As the door slammed, Dana approached her husband. "I thought we agreed he didn't need the Redbird! He's too young!"
"Dana, the boy is almost 17 years old. I think it's time we..."
"Jack you're not listening!" Dana yelled.
Jack rolled his eyes as he prepared to have another meaningless argument over HIS son. Why is she suddenly so protective of him?
Ives looked out his window, not hearing the horn of the van he expected Tim Drake to pick him up in. Instead, Tim was hanging out the window of a shiny, new, red sports car.
"Come on Ives, look what I got!" Tim yelled. He waved for his friend to join him. "We need to hurry it up too; I don't want to be late my first day back!"
Ives disappeared and soon came ambling down his apartment steps. He circled the Redbird and slid into the passenger seat. "Tim, where did you get this from?"
"Let's just say, my dad owes it to me," he replied as he pulled back into the streets. "Dana was giving me hell this morning though, it was about..."
"Ariana." Ives finished. Tim's eyes grew wide. "Why are you so surprised? Everybody knows she wants you back. The biggest gossipers in school were with her before she led you to Victoria's Secret." Tim started to blush.
"Look, can we not talk about this Ives. Me and Ari and friends, that's it. Understood?" He gripped the wheel tighter and made a right turn.
"Whatever you say Tim," Ives sighed. "Whatever you say."
Ten minutes later, Tim and Ives went their separate ways through the Gotham Heights High School hallways. It's so weird not being dressed in that dumb Brentwood uniform. And not sleeping on a campus. And not being with Steph... Tim pushed the thought out of his head. I refuse to think of her, she gave up on me. Besides, I have too many concerns to worry about...
"Tim!" Ariana screamed from the other end of the hallway. She pushed her way through the crowd to get to him, as that feeling started rumbling in his gut, just like when he almost went in Victoria's Secret. She finally reached him and wrapped her arms around him. "Hi! It's good to see you!"
Tim staggered a bit since she had literally jumped towards him. "Hi, Ariana," he managed. "Long time no see."
"I know! I'm so glad you're here!" She took Tim's hand in hers excitedly as they went down the hall, causing Tim to roll his eyes in embarrassment. What is she doing? "We only have five minutes till class!"
Tim stopped in his tracks. "We? What do you mean we Ari?" Ari stopped as well, looking a bit hurt by the comment.
"I found out me and you have our first class together, that's all," she replied letting go of Tim. "But if you don't want to be seen with me going in I understand." She clutched her books to her chest, turned and walked away.
Damn it Ives. Can't stay out of some things can you? "Ari, wait," he called after her, sending her immediately spinning on her heels and flashing a smile. "I didn't mean it like that, call it nervousness. I'd be glad to walk into class with you."
"Then come on!" She grabbed his hand again as the headed for the classroom. But why do you have to hold my hand?
Meet Jeffery Atkins. Just a small time crook who just got out of prison after his third strike. He's also exiting his third job interview of the day, the third one that was going well until his potential employer got to the part that said he was a former felon. After this third rejection, he immediately went to the pay phone and called his last employer: a small time hustler who had his connection throughout New York City. Within the next hour, he had his familiar nine millimeter in his waistband and on a short run across town to make a delivery. In the ritzy Gotham Heights area.
Man this place is looking nice. One day, I'mma have me a nice place around here. Yeah, settle down with my wife and kids. Once I get this record deal. Yeah! I'mma prove I don't need no school to get by! His thoughts were interrupted when his eyes caught something. Gotham Heights High School! Nah, fuck that! I'mma go up in there with my gun in hand and demand a diploma. I'm a gangsta! With that he entered the building with all the wrong intentions.
Meanwhile at the Gotham Gazette, Ivy Smith was putting the finishing touches on article.* She had gone uncover as the Spoiler to face the new female Robin, only to be beaten at the last moment. She had spent time in jail, but it was enough for her to get enough material on the new Robin for her story. She ripped it out of her printer and stood proudly.
"It's finished! I got the story on the new Robin finished!" She stood proudly and began to march towards the editor's office when an arm reached out and stopped her.
"You didn't hear?" they said. Ivy looked puzzled. "The female Robin is old news. The boy is back. We heard reports of him being responsible for taking down the Riddler and something about him catching two crooks last night."
Ivy was stunned. "No way! I go through all the trouble in the world for this story and its old news now?" She fell back into her chair, pissed as her editor approached.
"Sorry Ivy, I meant to say something to you earlier. If you had just written your story a little faster..."
"A little faster?" Ivy snapped back. "You have no idea what I went through for this piece paper! And you tell me I need to write faster?" Her bruises still ached from her encounter.
"I'm sorry Ivy," her editor replied as he walked away. "But if you want to try to get a story on the returning Boy Wonder, knock yourself out." He closed his office door behind him.
Ivy slumped further in her seat. "Fucking asshole."
Thomas Jacobs sat at the head of a huge round table, another 7 men surrounding it. He sat as he chewed on a cigar and watched as the men finally settled into place. He had a proposal, and after the rumors they had heard about Antonio Williams' death,* they were definitely listening.
*Brave and the Bold #14-Kelen
"Gentleman, I know you're all wondering why I called you here. I mean, yes I'm a very rich man and should have respect in the underworld, yet I don't. So what I have a proposal which could make us all very richer."
"We're listening Jacobs, but don't waste our time." One of them said. Jacobs pointed a finger at them.
"I'm not wasting your time," he said as a sly smile came across his lips. The man who had sounded off gripped his chest suddenly and slid down in his chair. "If you would listen you would know I never waste anyone's time." The man's breathing slowed back down and he straightened up with mouth closed.
"Anyway," Jacobs started again as he took a sip of his drink. "We all know there are those blasted metahumans running around, destroying things, claiming innocent lives. A battle between these types happens every 15.8 seconds somewhere in this world. So what I have in mind is putting our money where our mouths are. Each of us and any other interested parties each pick a metahuman and put bets on them. Simple as that. I have connections throughout the world who can tell us the outcomes of the battles. Double the money if any injuries occur, triple if any die in action."
The room sat quiet momentarily. "I want Superman! He'll never lose!" one yelled. "I'll take that Green Lantern in Arizona!" another screamed. "Batman!" "Aquaman!" Jacobs smiled.
"Who do you want to take Thomas?" the question came as the table of men silenced. Jacobs finished his drink and lit his cigar.
"The returning Boy Wonder..." he began. "Robin has always held a special interest for me..."
NEXT ISSUE: For The Love Of Money continues. The wagers have been made and Thomas Jacobs has a keen interest in Tim! Plus what's going to happen when Atkins demands his diploma; Boy Wonder to the rescue? Or will Ariana hold him back?