21 January 2016

Robin (Vol. 1) #16 - "For The Love Of Money, Part Four: Truths Revealed"

Robin (Vol. 1) #16 - "For The Love Of Money, Part Four: Truths Revealed"

 

Dana Drake had dreaded this from the moment she told him he could still do it. Still run around at all hours of the night in a crazy outfit beating up the bad guys. What kind of parent am I?

It was six thirty a.m. Her stepson, Tim a.k.a. Robin the Boy Wonder, had not returned home from his rounds in Gotham City the night before. Tim where are you? Her worst fear had come true: her stepson had to be laying somewhere in an alley. Dead.




As the first rays of sunlight came through his window, Thomas Jacobs stirred from his drunken rest. God...fucking liquor. He pulled himself to a sitting position and his hands went to his head, which was thumping with pain. As he reopened his eyes from the pain, he accessed his online bank account.

His Expo foray had paid huge dividends as his bank account tripled as he had anticipated. He had no sooner stood and lit a cigar when his office door flung open.

Expo entered the room, and Thomas could tell by the way his adrenaline glands were working he was still pumped about his thrashing of Robin. He blew smoke across the room as his new franchise player sat a DVD containing video of his battle on his boss' desk and took a seat.

"Okay, Thomas," he began. "You said you would fill in the gaps, let's hear it."

Jacobs sat in his chair and popped two aspirin into his mouth. "Fair enough," he replied.




Even as the rest of Gotham refused to wake from their sleep, the Gotham Gazette never allowed herself the pleasure.

Lydia sat in silence in her editor Mike's office, a smug look protruding from her soft features as he looked over the device she had found on her couch after Robin had left her apartment last night*. The story of the century is so coming out of my printer right now.

*See last issue-Yes I still write this title KC.

"What is this garbage?" Mike finally asked as he tossed the item on his desk. "I said something from his mouth and you give me this toy? No story, Lydia."

"Mike!" Lydia yelled in shock. "This is a very high tech device used for..." She picked up the device. "...I don't know exactly but I'm about to find out! She pushed the top red button.




Dana was awakened from her light sleep as the Redbird roared to life outside of the house. She leaped from her seat and ran out of the door, hoping that Tim was finally home, even though she didn't recall him taking the car. Instead, she saw the driverless vehicle reverse out of the driveway and down the road into Gotham City.

"Tim, I pray to God that you just did that," she whispered as she closed the front door.




"Like I said," Mike sighed. "No story."

"Come on Mike!" Lydia pleaded. "What did you expect, a building to blow up? Robin or Batman to come through your window?" She pulled out a tape recorder. "Besides, that was only my first trick." She put the recorder on the desk and pushed play, with her and Robin's conversation soon filling the room.

After it finished, she folded her arms and looked at Mike. "Well?"

"What kind of shit are you trying to pull Lydia? Do you need this story that bad? I'll just send you to the corner and you'll find some real news in five minutes!" He sat down and took a sip of his coffee. "No. Story. Let it go."

Lydia had had enough. She stood and slung her purse over her shoulder. "Fine. You can let it go then. I quit." She then turned on her heel and was gone.




Dana was pacing the kitchen frantically, racking her brain for what she should do next. I don't even know who to call. I mean I know Tim runs around with that Batman character but he's not exactly in the book. I can't just go driving around looking for him, who knows if he's even out as Robin still. I could call Ives' house but he would've at least called me by now. I don't know what to do! I have to figure something out!

"Where's Tim?" Jack Drake asked as he descended the stairs. "I checked his room but there's no sign of him." He took his wife in his arms and kissed her.

"He went to Ives' early to help him study for a big test," she lied. "Nothing to worry about."

"Ah, I see," he replied. "But speaking of missing persons, how come you weren't beside me for most of the night?"

"Oh, I was just up sick," she answered as Jack's eyes went wide. "I'm sorry, honey."

"No big deal..." Jack said as his words trailed off. He let go of her and went to the coffee pot.




In Jacobs' office, things were being cleared up for the first time.

"It was about a month ago Expo when I put the ad in the paper for one of those drug test subjects. Of course you being Terrance Harrington, sophomore in college, you called up not ten minutes after you saw the opportunity. I had my people meet you at a business office where we quickly subdued you with a black market sleeping gas. Once I had the chance to examine you I knew you would be perfect. Your football career as an offensive lineman had served you well, providing you with the right mass, yet also the strength to undertake my daunting task. I sealed you in a room and released a toxic gas, a gas that had changed me years before. As the gas was lethal, your system tried to react negatively by shutting down your brain functions. I stabilized your brain patterns and managed to enhance both your strength and your size with the help of the gas. But I also knew that these radical changes would be too much for your system and if you were screaming in agony for the rest of your life, you would be no good to me. So I blacked out your memories of the process and than unleashed you into the world. My Expose for any and all who may ever doubt me." Jacobs' took a swig of his bottled water and propped his feet up on his desk.

Expo nodded his head as he began to fully comprehend what was done to him. "So basically, I'm your unwilling muscle?" he asked.

Thomas put his cigar out in the ashtray. I really hope for his sake he doesn't try to get cute. "I wouldn't say unwilling..."

Expo smiled. "Neither would I. But even though that answers my questions about myself, what about you? What is it about the gas that made me made you who you are?"

Thomas smiled as he stood and walked over to Expo, placing a hand on his broad shoulder. "Do you have a lifetime to listen my friend?"




Across town, a bus pulled up under the canopy of the ritzy Gotham Hotel. Several passengers filed out, some looked downtrodden, others with their spirits on the up and up. But one particular passenger paused for a moment and inhaled the Gotham air, almost choking from doing so as the bus pulled away and sprayed exhaust in her face.

"It's good to be back home," she said as she tossed her blonde hair out of her face and carried her luggage inside. After checking in, she soon emerged out of the elevator on the thirty-ninth floor. She opened her room door with her key card and threw her bags on the bed. She then flicked on the TV and flopped herself onto the bed, where she lit a cigarette and inhaled the toxins deeply.

Stephanie Brown didn't know why she had picked up smoking in St. Louis, but she did know it somehow calmed her nerves. "I wonder what Tim would think of me now..." she said to no one in particular. "God I've missed that boy."




"Ow," was the only word he could muster as he awoke from the land of the unconscious. He pulled himself very slowly up the wall until he achieved a sitting position, and although nothing was broken, his head was ringing like a four alarm blaze at the local fire station. "But I'm alive," Robin muttered. "Lord only knows why."

No sooner did the words leave his mouth he was lifted off the ground in a quick and efficient manner and placed onto a much softer surface than the unforgiving concrete he had been laying on. My vision is blurred, which means I have seriously messed up my head this time. But more importantly, who has it in for me now?

"He's awful lucky to be alive. By the looks of his face, he should be dead right now."

"If that's his face when he's alive, imagine what it would've been if he had been killed."

"Bruce! Alfred! I'm so glad it's you two!" Tim said as his mask was pulled off his face.

"Take it easy, Master Timothy," Alfred answered as he put an ice pack on his head. "By the dilation of your eyes I can tell you have a minor concussion at the least, so no need to get excited."

"It took Oracle all night to track your comm-link signal after you passed out again, I'm just glad that you're alive," Bruce said as he sat across from his partner in his newly modified limo. "But you do look like hell, so maybe a few dabs of makeup wouldn't hurt for when you get home."

Dana! "What time is it?"

"Eight thirty," Bruce replied.

Tim slapped a gloved hand to his forehead as his vision started to refocus. "I gotta call Dana! She's probably worried sick!"




Back in her apartment, Lydia stared blankly as she flipped through the television channels.

I can't believe you, Mike! I gave you the concrete evidence you ask for and you still turn me down! And there's no way I can run the Robin story anywhere else cause you were the only editor with the balls to hire me. And with that said, how am I going to get a job now? It's not like a have a Pulitzer or two sitting around here.

As an advertisement for BPP Heath & Fitness flashed across the screen, she knew sitting at home wasn't doing her any good. She went into her closet and grabbed her coat.

"Hopefully a long walk will clear my head some," she sighed as she exited her apartment and locked the door behind her. "There has to be something out there..."




In the Drake home, Dana was disturbed from her ninth cup of coffee by the home phone ringing. When she sprung from her chair she knocked over the coffee and almost tripped over the table leg as she snatched it from the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Hi Dana," Tim said weakly as he held the icepack to his head from the confines of the Batcave. "I'm okay."

"Where the hell have you been all night?!" Dana screamed. "You know how worried I've been? You better have a damn good..."

"I'm okay, Dana," Tim repeated. "I ran into some trouble last night and I couldn't... make it home. But I'm okay."

"Tim, this isn't the reason I let you continue to do this..." Dana began.

"I know and I'm sorry. But I didn't want to keep you up worrying about me."

"You did that any way," she replied curtly.

"I'll be home in awhile, Ives already rode the bus to school. I'll see you then."

"I'll be waiting," she answered. She hung up the phone questioning Tim even more.




No sooner did Tim hang up the receiver, he heard a familiar beep of his just replaced comm-link.

"I got something Tim," Oracle began. "All this trouble you've been having this week, it's stemming from a betting ring."

"Gambling?" Tim asked. "I'm getting my ass kicked over gambling. And they say it's not a drug!"

"No lie," Oracle agreed. "It seems this betting ring is based on metahumans. With TV news always focused firmly on us, some sicko has been planning this for awhile. There are a few of these betters who've made a bundle off of Bruce and Clark alone. But at the heart of it all, the one who seems to have bet on you, is Thomas Jacobs. Also known as the founder of the betting ring. But personally, let Bruce or Cassie handle this Tim, you've had enough for one week."

"You have no idea."

"You'd be surprised. Go home, I have to check on Dick. Oracle out."

"What do you think of that Alfred?" Tim asked as his friend took the icepack off of his forehead.

"I think you need to listen to Miss Barbara and stay. At. Home," Alfred implied. "Some clothes are over there on that chair." Alfred then headed back upstairs to the manor.

Tim rose from his seat, every muscle, bruise, and scrape screaming in pain with him. Sonuvabitch. There's no way I'm staying home and letting someone else finish this case. Jacobs singled me out and I'm gonna bring the fight right to him. But first, Expo goes down.

He finished buttoning his shirt and slid his watch on his wrist. "God, how do I explain this to..." He paused while he searched around his utility belt for his remote for the Redbird. "Where in the...Lydia." All he could do was smack himself in the forehead.




Back in Thomas' office, Expo sat and listened like he was in kindergarten. "It was the 2000 election. I was on Lex's election committee...okay you may want to say one of his staunch supporters. Luthor signed my checks, but I never actually met the man. The campaign was going great and little by little I could see Lex winning over the general populous. As Election Day drew nearer I found myself being accepted within Lex's inner circle."

"I made a few friends and next thing I know myself and three of Lex's closest advisors were at the bar just having a few drinks. Then Lex walks in and comes and sits down at the bar with us. I'm the furthest away and I really didn't want to bother the man but one of his associates leans over and says how Lex hasn't been paying any of us the way he should. Eventually all three of my 'friends' started bitching and moaning about it but none would open their mouth about it. Finally, I had had enough and I let the liquor take control of me. I stood up, marched up to Lex and demanded to know why he wasn't paying us."

"Lex just looked at me momentarily and smiled. Then he got up and left. Didn't say a word. Just brushed me off like I was nothing. I wanted that type of power. I wanted the whole 'I don't give a fuck, I'm so and so' power. I just had no clue how to get it."

"I got my answer later that night as I tried to go to sleep in my hotel room. I was ambushed, blindfolded, and pushed into the back of a trunk. No sooner was the blindfold raised than my 'friends' pushed me into a room no bigger than refrigerator. As I scrambled to my feet to assess my surroundings, I noticed I was left alone with this strange barrel marked toxic which had been leaking a green gas."

"It wasn't long before the toxin asphyxiated me and I succumbed to the darkness. But instead of killing me, the gas had an unexpected side effect. I awoke several hours later in that same room, in a sort of haze. Realizing the barrel had emptied itself, I approached the door looking for some type of way to pry it open. I knew the situation had become hopeless so I pounded on the door. Unexpectedly, the door swung open and I made my escape."

"The same gas that Lexcorp was seeing as a waste was the same gas that gave me my gifts. I found that I could control anyone's brain functions aside from speech and movement. I can increase adrenaline, stop breathing, and even shutdown the brain entirely. I finally had the means to get that power I so desired."

"I quickly moved myself up the corporate ranks with my powers. A partnership here, a dead body in the swimming pool there, a signature here, a friend dead from an unlucky chicken bone there, and so on... And I was taking every single dime of their money."

"Finally, I had to make the moves that proved my power. I propositioned Antonio Williams first with the betting ring. He refused and you can only imagine what became of him* . I was going to talk to Roland Desmond but we both know what happened to him** , so I put the first steps in motion by sending Cluemaster after his daughter Stephanie when she was running around as Robin*** . And in an attempt to get Lex to notice that I wasn't playing games, I alone organized the assault on the JLA's Watchtower headquarters**** ."

*The Brave & The Bold #14
*Nightwing #12
*Robin #8-9
*JLA #9-10 - You thought I couldn't bring it all together but I did so ha ha ha KC.


Expo stood from his chair after Thomas finished. "Wow," he said. "You did all that?"

"And I've only just begun," his boss smiled as he lit a cigar.




Lydia had wandered around Gotham in a daze for the past hour or so, not finding any better way to prove to Mike her Robin story was true. I could never take the story somewhere else either cause Mike would have me blackballed from here to Metropolis. Sighing, she leaned against a nearby building as Gotham's pedestrian traffic kept milling by. She was surprised to see a bright red sports car parked perfectly in front of her.

Lydia turned around and saw she had walked straight to the Gotham Gazette and, ironically enough this car had turned up right in front of her former place of employment.

"This has to have something to do with Robin's remote," she guessed. She approached the car and was shocked when the passenger door opened, a response generated by proximity to the remote. Maybe I can find some concrete evidence to prove to Mike I'm not lying inside and if not, maybe the car can do it! She sat down in the car and started to look around. No sooner did she turn around and look in the back, the door slammed shut and the engine roared to life. The vehicle backed itself out of its parking space and took off down the busy streets.

As the Redbird dipped in and out of traffic, Lydia barely managed to buckle her seat belt. "Oh shit..."




"Thanks Alfred," Tim waved as the limo rolled up its window and headed back towards Wayne Manor. It had just disappeared from sight when Dana flung the front door open.

"That's it, Tim! No more," she yelled as she stomped across the front lawn. "You're not...doing..." Her words trailed off as she reached her stepson and embraced him.

"I'm okay Dana," Tim replied. "Just a few bumps."

"You scared me to death young man," she said as she broke the hug. "I don't know what your father thinks at this point, I've been a nervous wreck all night."

"You didn't..." Tim asked as his eyes questioned hers.

"No. But I almost did and should have. Tim, I don't know..." Tim put a finger to his lips.

"I know, Dana. Please just let me go to sleep for now, and we'll talk when I get up."

Dana nodded as Tim went upstairs, knowing she couldn't take Tim's second life anymore.




The Redbird was exiting downtown Gotham and heading to the more suburban Gotham Heights and gaining speed.

"What am I gonna do?" Lydia yelled in panic. "This thing could be on the way to blowing up!" Or it could be leading you to Robin. Lydia barely noticed the small notion that she could be on to something and knew she had one chance of escape. "Here goes nothing..." She unbuckled herself and lifted a small black handle on the door. To her shock and delight the door flung open and she tumbled onto an empty road just outside of the Gotham Heights district. The Redbird closed its door instantly and continued its journey. Lydia pulled herself off of the asphalt, scraped, bruised, but alive.

As she gingerly walked to the side of the road, Lydia reached in her purse and saw her cell phone was undamaged.

"I need some answers. Real ones." The phone only rang twice before another female came onto the line.

"How may I direct your call?"

"Sir Edmund Dorrance," Lydia said.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Dorrance is in a meeting," the secretary replied. "Would you like his personal voice mail?"

"King Snake," Lydia practically hissed.

"I'll put you right through."




The Redbird braked perfectly into its reserved spot in front of the Drake residence and altered its appearance from combat vehicle to normal sports car. Inside, Tim Drake was doing some work of his own.

"How can this guy be clean, Barbara?" Tim asked as he lay in bed with his eyes barely open.

"Actually that's what I need to tell you. In person, at the Clocktower," Oracle answered.

"I'll be there in a few minutes, sans Robin," Tim agreed as he closed the comm-link. He grabbed his jacket and headed down the steps.

"Tim, where are you going?" Dana asked when she saw him.

"The Redbird is back and I'm going to Ariana's. To apologize," he lied. "I'll be back in a bit."

Before Dana could say anything else, the phone rang. "Hello?"

"Hey Mrs. Drake, it's Ives. I picked up all of Tim's homework for him since was sick. Just so he knows."

"Bring it on over Ives. I'm sure he'll appreciate the thought. See you in awhile."




Stephanie wasn't waiting longer than a minute and a half before a cab stopped in front her hotel. "Take me to City Hall," she demanded as she sat down and closed the door.




Jacobs put out his cigar as his blinds closed behind him. "Robin will come for you tonight. Kill him."

Expo nodded. "Not a problem."

"Good," Thomas sneered. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting to attend.




As Sir Edmund's limo made it's way back into Gotham City, Lydia sipped on bottled water while she listened intently to King Snake.

"So you see, Ms. Smith, Jacobs has been behind all of this weeks past events. The betting ring should be your real story now, not Robin." King Snake had recovered from his encounter with Riddler and looked larger and more fit than ever*.

*See Robin #2-KC

Lydia jotted a few notes on a napkin and pushed it into her purse. "Sir Edmund," she began. "We...you and I...we're done right? No more late night calls and errands?"

"That's right, Lydia. Consider your debt paid." Edmund took a sip of his own water. "I do believe this is your stop."

"Yes, it is. Thank you so much." Lydia threw her purse over her shoulder and headed back into her apartment building.

King Snake allowed himself a small chuckle as his limo pulled away.




Across town, Tim had silently entered the Clocktower and was twenty feet away from Barbara Gordon, who was busy looking through information.

"Don't even try it, Tim," Barbara ordered without turning in her seat. "Batman's the only one who my systems can't pick up when he enters this room. You and Dick are lightweights when it comes to that man."

"Yeah, you know our boy Bruce," Tim agreed. "So what's the deal with Thomas Jacobs?"

"In a nutshell, Jacobs picked you as his power player and you're the only player he had at all. He placed half of his money on you and then he lost money when you got attacked on Monday*. He wasn't too thrilled from what I heard. So he took his bet off of you and onto a new player, Expo, also known as suspect number one for your attacker last night."

*Robin #13-14-the Monday of this story arc in case you didn't notice KC

Tim clenched his fists in anger. "The bet's still on Expo and Thomas wants to finish me tonight. That much is obvious."

"It seems Cluemaster was enlisted by Jacobs to attack Stephanie when she was Robin, too. So it runs pretty deep."

"Where can I find him?" Tim asked.

"No way, Tim. You have a concussion and you have no business taking on Expo again. I'll send Dinah out to handle it." Tim put his hand on top of Oracle's.

"No." Tim eyes narrowed. "I'm on it.

Barbara started to object but stopped herself. That look in his eyes...its so much like Bruce's... "Fine, Tim. But I'm gonna be monitoring you the whole time so your wearing this." She handed him a small box. "Just keep that in your belt and make sure the red light is on."

Tim nodded. "Thanks Babs," he said as he faded back into the shadows.

Barbara leaned back in her seat. "Bruce will have my head for this," she sighed.




Ives didn't even get to knock on the door before Dana flung it open.

"Oh Ives, it's you," she said rather flatly.

"Yeah, it's me," he agreed. "How is Tim?"

"Oh, he's feeling better, I actually just sent him to the store for a few things so you can take his homework up to his room."

"Okay Mrs. Drake," Ives answered as he went upstairs.

Dana propped herself on a wall and wiped her forehead. "Where are you, Tim?" she mumbled. Tim! Oh no! What if he had something out in his room? Dana ran up the steps and was just reaching Tim's doorway.

Ives sat the homework on Tim's dresser and started to walk out. "Tell Tim he lives like a pig," he joked as his eyes fell to something shiny on the floor. "What's that?" he asked.




Inside the mayor's office in City Hall, Stephanie paced back and forth nervously.

"Calm down girl," Jacobs replied as he stood from his seat. No one knows we're here. Let's just settle this."

"Okay," Steph agreed as she sat down.

"As requested, your mother will be provided and cared for by her own personal servants and one million dollars I delivered into her bank account. She will find all of this out tomorrow at 11 am. Also, your father Arthur Brown is dead; you witnessed it and also shot him in the head. He was laid to rest two weeks ago across the Atlantic Ocean."

"That's what I wanted to hear," Stephanie smiled as she stood back up. "We have a deal Thomas." She extended her hand.

"Great Ms. Brown, just great. I expect your sequence to go down tomorrow night." He handed her a duffel bag and sat back. "The best of luck."

"I don't need luck, Jacobs," Steph replied as she left the office. "That boy is already in my pocket."




Lydia's fingers were feverously typing up the betting story based on King Snake's info and a few looks around recent news. I may need to actually go in to get the full story though. She was interrupted when her cell phone rang. "Hello?"

"Lydia. How are you?" Robin asked.

"Robin?" she asked, unsure. "How did you get this number?"

"You're in the book," he replied. "Did I leave behind a small device about the size of a wallet?"

"Yeah, you did drop something like that."

"Destroy it for me, please." And then the line went dead.




Tim had just entered the house when Ives pointed an accusing finger.

"Tim! I know...I know...something. That you don't want to tell me," he yelled.

"Ives, I don't know what you're talking about," Tim started. "Yes you do! You're hiding something Tim cause even Dana is hiding it. And I don't know what it is but when I do...!" He ran past Tim and out the front door.

"What did he see?" Tim asked as he and Dana headed upstairs.

"Nothing, but he saw a glint of something. I think it was one of those bat-shaped things you have," Dana explained. "I just closed the door and tried to usher him out. Good thing your father is out."

"Yeah," Tim agreed. "I haven't seen him all day."

"He only said he was going out," Dana shrugged. She looked up and saw Tim was in his closet.

Tim stepped out and started pulling on the top of his costume. "Don't wait up Dana," he said firmly. As he fastened on the cape, the bedroom door was pushed open.

"And how are my favorite wife and son doing?" Jack Drake asked as he entered the room.




Lydia saved the sixteenth version of her article and pulled her hair out of its ponytail. She picked her leather jacket off of the chair and was headed for any nearby bar that participated in the betting ring.

"Time to go the extra yard," she said as she put a trucker hat on her head and headed into the Gotham evening.




Dana Drake couldn't form a rational thought as she turned to look at her husband. No! Jack can't find out about Tim. Not like this!

Jack's expression still wore the same smile he had when he entered. "You okay, Tim?"

Tim clutched his black robe tightly around him. "Yeah Dad, I've just been sick all day. I was actually about to lay down for the night."

Dana nodded her head and rubbed Tim on his shoulder

"Oh, okay, I'll let you get to sleep son," Jack said. He then turned and left without another word.

Dana stood in front of Tim as he refastened his cape and put on his mask. She walked up to him and paused for a moment.

She's going to hit me. I can tell.

Instead, Dana kissed Tim on his forehead. He smiled warmly at her then was gone out the window.




Lydia had no trouble with the bouncers or making it to the bar. She had just sat down and already a bartender was in front of her.

"What can I get you?"

Didn't ask for I.D. "Just a beer," Lydia answered.

No sooner was the cold beverage put into her hand, Lydia felt eyes watching her. She turned to see a fairly fit Asian woman glaring at her.

"Can I help you?" she asked as she took a swig of her beer.

"Why are you toying with him?" she demanded.

"With who?" Lydia asked with wide eyes.

"Don't play with me, girl. The adventurer."

"Robin?" she whispered. "I'm not doing that story any more!"

There was no response as the female had vanished.

Lydia blinked her eyes once, twice. I'll chalk that one up to no sleep.




Robin peered silently through his binoculars at the scene below. It had been two hours with no sign of Expo. I just know Jacobs has been tracking my movements and Lord knows what else. I'll give it another hour.

Ten minutes passed before Expo entered the construction site and stared up the structure.

"He knows I'm up here! I'll have to go by the element of surprise," Robin decided as he packed away his binoculars and moved down towards Expo.

"Come on out, boy," Expo yelled. "It'll be quick and easy."

"Not this time," Robin said.

Expo looked around but couldn't find the Boy Wonder. "Quit delaying!"

"Why would I want to delay?" Robin asked as he sprung from left of Expo and slammed his bo-staff into his kidney.

It was enough to make Expo's right arm fall to his side. "What a cheap shot," he commented.

"Oh, you like that? Try this one!" Robin shouted as he hurled a batarang from above his foe. The projectile connected with Expo's face and opened a mean gash across his forehead. The shock of the blow made Expo grab at his face and send him falling three stories from the structure.

And let's see what we got. Robin released his line and landed ten feet away from where Expo had landed. He's huge! I wasn't able to see all of him because it was dark when we fought last night. But now that he's down how do I keep him that way?

Expo pulled himself off of the ground and wiped the blood from his head. "You know you can't win, right?"

Robin readied himself for the real fight. "Depends on how you define win."

Expo tried to nail Robin in the head with his right, but was two seconds too late. Robin had already unleashed with a left that bloodied the older man's nose. As Expo staggered, Robin slammed his staff into his enemy's stomach. He stood back to watch the results.

Expo grunted in pain for a moment than stood up. "Okay, that was a really nice attempt, but not good enough." He charged Robin, rammed him with his shoulder and sent the Boy Wonder onto his back.

Expo grabbed Robin by his shirt and lifted him easily. He tossed the dazed hero towards a nearby girder that his back met with a sickening thud.

Before Robin could regain his balance, Expo swung his arm like a club, knocking his head into the girder.

"As much fun as I'm having, you're only the smallest tip of the iceberg," Expo hissed as he wiped the blood that poured from his cut and nose. He lifted the Boy Wonder again and nailed him in the face with his free hand, then dropped him.

Robin wiped the blood that now came from his upper lip. I've got to get away. He began crawling, where to he wasn't sure as he was quite dazed, only to have his leg grabbed by Expo.

Expo lifted the youth up until they were eye to eye. He then spit in the boy's face and dropped him again. The light was fading from Robin's world again for the second time in as many days. Got to stay conscious...can't go down this time. He reached into his utility belt.

"You know what boy?" Expo began as he reached for the Boy Wonder. "I don't know why Mr. Jacobs has it in for you anyway. You got a lot of potential."

"Thanks," Robin coughed as he threw down three light bombs. The intense light flashed into Expo's eyes and forced him a step back. Once the light had faded, Robin was nowhere to be found.

"Robin!" Expo hollered. "Don't make this any harder than what it has to be! Don't call in the Bat either. I'm prepared!"

Behind a nearby barrel, Robin threw his cape on the ground. Got to think of something to put this guy down. My fists won't do...but that will. He picked up his staff and stood from behind the barrel.

"Let's finish this then."

The Boy Wonder charged Expo, who didn't budge an inch. His staff sliced through the air with the speed from the fight's beginning, but lacked its aim. Expo warded off the blows with his forearms as he tried to retaliate. Robin then spun around his opponent and nailed him the back with his staff. As Expo tried to turn to face him, he was met with another blow to his bleeding head.

Expo paused, dazed as Robin moved back in front of him. Another precise blow to the stomach sent the behemoth back a few more steps. Move dammit! Robin kicked at Expo's left knee as the villain attempted to grab him but failed.

"One more should do it," he whispered as he swung his staff once more...only to have Expo grab it and break it in two.

"So much for that advantage," Expo grinned as he grabbed the boy again. "This time you won't get up."

Robin had grabbed a batarang a moment before Expo grabbed him. He has my arm pinned, this is gonna have to come from the wrist. Knowing he had only a few seconds before he met the cold earth again, he launched the batarang as accurately as he could.

Expo hurled the youth to the ground, where he slid to a stop a few feet away. Robin's shoulder was screaming in pain. Dammit...dammit...this has to work now, my shoulder's out for the night.

"Was that enough to break you child? Or do I need to...what the fuck?" Expo's taunts had turned from authoritative to shouts of surprise. Concrete was pouring onto him from the truck behind him. "This won't stop me, or did you forget how strong I am?"

"No I didn't," Robin replied, still unable to gather himself. "Just watch."

"Yeah, watch how I step on your head, now!" Expo started towards the boy but found his progress severely slowed and eventually, stopped. "So what? I can break this," he grunted. "What's...a...little...concrete?"

Robin shakily brought himself to his feet. "Don't wear yourself out, E. You have enough concrete to hold you until the jackhammer says so." He picked up his cape and draped it back over his shoulders. "Tell Jacobs I'm coming for his ass tomorrow. He has until tomorrow night to get out of Gotham. I'm no one's sure bet."

"Mr. Jacobs will tear you limb from limb! He's even more powerful than me!" Expo yelled as he continued to struggle against his "prison".

"Is that so?" Robin asked. He pulled another batarang and flung it through the air, where it nailed Expo in the mouth. "I don't care. I'm not just the Batman's sidekick anymore."

As Expo spit out teeth behind him, Tim activated his comm-link. "Oracle, call the cops and tell them Expo is at the construction site up on 22nd and Harrison. I busted my shoulder up but he's not going anywhere. Tell Batman and I'm going the hell to bed. Robin out."

"Good job Tim, you deserve a good night's sleep."




NEXT ISSUE: For The Love Of Money continues on! What is Stephanie planning for her reunion with Tim? And who did Lydia run into in the bar? FTLOM part 5 is coming and it won't take me a year to write it!

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