It feels like Christmas. I'm hyper, I can't sleep, and it's all I can do to sit still! And I can't wait to try out my new toy...
"Don't even think about it." Dana said firmly from inside the door. She stood with her arms folded and her look was not joking.
"I wasn't going to do anything!" Tim replied as he tossed his arms in the air. His closet door was open, a piece of his Robin costume within Dana's eyesight. "I was just..."
"Just about to slip out the window and live dangerous some more? No." She walked to the closet and slammed it shut. "Your Robin days are over."
Tim's jaw dropped. "But you said we'd would talk about this!" he pleaded.
"Yes I did, and I talked, you'll listen. What kind of mother would I be if I let you continue to run around Gotham with some grown man dressed as a bat? And how could I betray your father's trust like that?" A thin smile came to her lips, knowing her points were valid.
"You're not my mother." Tim fired back. He instantly regretted it as Dana stepped away hurt. "No, Dana, I didn't..."
Dana waved her hands as tears started to form in her eyes. "No, you're right Tim, I'm not your mother, and I have no right to tell you what to do. Do what you want." Before Tim could say anything else, she was out the door.
Damn! I didn't mean for it to go that way. He fell onto his bed, utterly confused. I understand where she's coming from, but it can't just end like that. And here I thought beating Riddler was a challenge. He stood up and walked to his window, gazing out at the Gotham night. Where he should be. How do I convince her to let me continue as Robin? Or better yet, how do I convince her not to tell dad? Tim sighed and flicked on his nearby communicator.
"Hey, nothing important, just wanted to know if you heard from Steph or anything."
"Not a word." Oracle answered.
"Great, that makes two of us."
"Something on your mind?"
"Actually..." Tim began. "How do you think Bruce will feel about this one..."
Gotham Sacred Heart Hospital. The place has held many forms of injury over the years, including some of Gotham's elite. A few years ago, even Bruce Wayne had stayed here. Now it housed a more infamous person. Edward Nigma a.k.a. the Riddler, lay motionless in his hospital bed. It had been a few days since his attempt to drown himself after his battle with both Robin and his steroid addiction. Robin had saved him, but doctors had concluded that his 6-minute stay underwater had left him with massive brain damage, which would either leave him a vegetable, or loosen his grip on reality even more.
Nigma had had only one visitor since being admitted, and that was an unannounced late night arrival of one Sir Edmund Dorrance. Satisfied with the fate that had befallen his one-time student, King Snake simply spit in his face and took his leave. Not that Riddler had noticed.
Doctors could not tell how long Nigma would remain in his coma, or if he would ever come out at all.
But inside his mind, Riddler was battling. Fighting for all he had achieved in the past year, fighting a foe only seen by him: addiction. As he punched and kicked and ran and jumped within the dark void, he blamed one name for this situation. A name he was determined to ruin when he did win this battle.
"Stephanie, are you sure you want to do this tonight?" her mother asked her as she placed the last suitcase on the curb. "St. Louis is sure a long way from home."
"I know mom," Stephanie replied as she closed her purse. "But between getting mugged and having my arm broken among other things, a change of scenery is just what I need." It was then the bus pulled up.
"Okay honey, just make sure your aunt and uncle take care of you," she kissed her forehead after her and Steph had loaded her luggage. "I love you."
"I love you too," Steph replied as she boarded. She waved from her seat until her mother was out of sight. She slumped in her seat and let her head hang. I'm so exhausted! I wasn't Robin even six months and I feel like I've been hit by two Mack trucks, run over by two tanks, and had an elephant fall on me. She stared at the road as the Gotham city limits turned into highway. But this is the only way for me to get away, from Bruce, from my father, from playing superhero, and mostly...Her heart fell at the thought of his name and seeing him back in the Robin costume as she left the Cave that night. ...Tim
It was 10:00 in Gotham as Dana Drake was returning from the fruit stand just a block from her home she shared with Jack and Tim. Normally, she wouldn't be caught dead out this late, but Tim's cold words had driven her from the house. I'm only trying to look out for his best interests, is what she kept telling herself, not wanting to allow the possibility of Tim being Robin to even creep into her mind. Toeing the line between anger and hurt, Dana continued to walk, letting her thoughts consume her.
"Nice night for a walk huh lady?" a voice asked. Dana whirled to see who spoke, only to be forcibly pushed down into the wet, dark alley.
"Please don't hurt me!" she screamed as her attacker revealed a knife. "Take anything you want!"
Even in the night, Dana could see a smile cross the man's lips. "Anything? I think I'll rob you first, then I'll beat you, and then I'll rape you, and then I'll probably kill you!" he stepped closer with blade nearing Dana's face. "You'll like that won't you, you dirty little slut..."
Before he could move in, he was grabbed from behind and slammed viciously into the concrete. "What the..." he stammered.
"What the is right! As in what in the hell gives you the right..." the newly arrived savior asked as he kicked the scum sharply in the mouth as blood and teeth went flying. He crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
"Tim!" Dana exclaimed. "You saved me! But I told you to stay in!"
"In as Robin, as Tim I needed to clear my head. Good thing I do that best by bounding across a few rooftops." Silence followed as Tim helped his stepmother up.
"Tim I..." Dana began.
"No wait," Tim waved her off. "I said some harsh thing earlier and I'm sorry. I understand what you're trying to do but I can't listen. I need to this and Gotham needs me! It's deeper than spandex and newspaper headlines, it's about what's right."
Dana stood quiet for awhile, as she finally got over her encounter with the random Gotham idiot. "You're right Tim, it's obvious you can handle yourself. My lips are sealed as long as you promise to come home every night alive."
Tim nodded. "Thanks Dana." He said as he hugged her.
"Now you got a city to protect don't you? Run along. I'll be fine."
"Nope. Not until I walk you home." Tim replied as he led her out of the alleyway.
The Batcave. Bruce Wayne would normally be out already, protecting his city. But something held him back this night, as if he was waiting for someone.
It was 10:30 when Tim finally entered the Cave, dressed in his costume minus the mask. He started to offer an explanation when Bruce held up his hand and pointed.
Tim looked up and noticed the Bat Signal illuminating the night sky. Somewhere Batman was needed. Batman and Robin. Tim nodded as he put on his mask; Bruce was already halfway to the Batmobile as he pulled his cowl in place.
As Robin slid into the passenger seat, he stole a look at the Batman as he started up the engine. Was that a smile that just came across his face? Before delving on it any longer, he took it for what it was and began to focus on the task ahead as the Dynamic Duo sped out of the Batcave.
NEXT ISSUE: Tim returns to Gotham Heights and runs smack into Ms. Lingerie herself, Ariana! How will that go and what new threat is prepared to threaten Robin for the next six issues? For The Love Of Money Begins Here! Now for your reading enjoyment, original Robin stories by Jamie Primas, Clayton Tooley and Erik Fromme!
By Jamie Primas
I know you've been gone for a long time now and I don't really write much, but I thought I'd write you a letter.
Since you went to the big house, a lot of things have happened. Mom met some guy and she likes me to call him "house dad" since you're what she calls a "deadbeat dad." His name is Michael and he's an alright guy. He's a lot younger than you and makes sounds like a gorilla at night when they think I'm sleeping.
Anyway, I heard about what happened a few weeks ago when you broke out of the big house. It was on the news. They mentioned your cellmate that got hurt on the razor wire. I heard he was put in the big house because he tried to blow up a place called "Project M." Maybe you can tell me about him when you write back. I'm sure you miss him since you spent so much time in the same tiny room. Mom said that you were his b****. I put little stars there since I don't think you want to read words like that from your boy.
On the news they said that you got beat up by a couple of kids in super-hero clothes. Was it like the time you got beat up by that kid that hangs out with Batman? He made you look like an idiot. There were some pictures on the TV of the people that brought you back to the big house and they looked really neat. How come you couldn't have been a super hero instead of a bad guy, Dad?
Write back soon,
I'd like to say that it was nice to hear from my son, but I would be lying. If you have nothing nice or endearing to say, then you shouldn't say anything at all. From the nonsense that was your silly letter, I gather that you have been misinformed about my escape and capture. Not to mention my original tussle with that wretched Robin. Try to turn your attention from your blasted television long enough to comprehend the words that you're reading.
Way back right after you were born and still crying all the time and crapping all over the place, I was an artist. Although your ignorant mother had no idea, I was also the leader of an international crime syndicate. I put secret messages in my paintings that told my men what to do. When things got out of hand and a rival syndicate discovered who I was, they shot me in the head. As you know, the bullet lodged into my brain and left me blind.
I underwent an experimental surgery that gave me back a fraction of my vision but at the cost of my sanity. I could only see the bright colors, the pretty ones, and it drove me out of my mind. It wasn't long after that that your mother left me for a professional ping pong player. I'm talking about your second dad, but you probably don't even remember him.
The traumas of my vision problems coupled with the dissolution of my marriage led me to create the most wonderful invention of the last hundred years, the Crazy-Helmet. As I hunted down your second dad and tried to maim him horribly, I ran into Robin. It wasn't the Robin that's running around today, it was the little one with the short pants and the Peter Pan shoes. In the battle that ensued over the life of your second dad, that Damned Robin shot me in the face with a laser beam and blinded me again. Since I couldn't see and he knocked the Crazy-Helmet off my head, I was arrested.
He never "beat me up" as you put it, he cold-bloodedly blinded me. I heard that Robin got blown up by the Joker after that. Serves the little rat right for what he did to me.
I wish you'd get your facts straight before you start blabbing off about it. I'd tell you about my break out attempt but writing this to you makes me realize how much of a disappointment you are to me. You are a shame to my lineage. You do not deserve to be called a Quilt.
"Your loving Dad,"
p.s. The gorilla noises you hear at night are caused by your mother having sex with your new dad. Ask them about it someday.
Mom was cleaning out an old storage shed the other day and she found one of your Crazy-Helmets. She tossed it out with the trash but I dug it out. It took me a long time to figure things out in my head but I found out that I don't like you. You don't like me either so I think that's okay.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I'm going to use your Crazy-Helmet to fight crime. I'm going to go out and protect the city and make sure people like you don't get away with the dumb crimes they commit.
If you get out of jail again, don't come home because the new Crazy Quilt will make sure you go right back to jail.
Don't bother writing back, criminal scum,
Morty, Jr. aka Crazy Quilt II
Best Wishes upon our inevitable reunion,
Mortimer Quilt aka the REAL Crazy Quilt
By Clayton Tooley
"So, uh, feeling better?"
"I mean, uh, I didn't think it'd go down like that, or you would I mean..."
"Ow! Hey, I mean, I was meaning to come apologize before..."
CRACK! SMACK! WHACK!
Lying on the ground, his breath fighting and eeking it's way around his swollen trachea, the knot on his sternum and the fact that he believed his abdomen was now two or three different muscles, Tim Drake was having a bit of a rough workout. When the world stopped spinning, or maybe that was just him, Tim said, "So, Cassandra, I'm sorry about that thing with the Riddler. Really."
"I. Accept." Cassandra said, doing a backhand stand to stretch out her shoulder muscles, waiting for Tim to pull himself together. Tim had asked her to help him get back into shape, knowing it was more luck than his skill or conditioning that had helped him best the Riddler. He'd thought, after how well the thing with the Riddler went, that he was finally ready to stand toe-to-toe with Cassandra.
His body was calling him a lot of names at the moment.
He sat up, his stomach crunching and screaming as he did so. What he hadn't taken into account, however, was the situation he'd put Batgirl in. The Riddler, mad and nuts and over-steroided as he had been, was also a known quantity to Tim, a fact that helped keep him ahead of the ex-jocular nutjob in their fight. Batgirl, however, was used to opponents being inferior to her, which the Riddler was technically, but not mentally.
Mentally, he was crazier than anyone she'd come into the fight expecting.
She'd found herself surprised and off-balance, while Nigma had already been fighting a while and had his adrenaline pumping and his body operating at it's peak. Cassandra, operating out of the loyalty Bruce had instilled in them all, maybe a little more with him and Cassandra than Dick, had her leaping in blindly, and paying for it.
Now I'm paying for it, Tim thought as he stood, wavering at bit. But I'm not done yet! "Ok, let's try that again."
CRACK! WHACK! SMACKITYSMACKITYSMACK!
Lost in the fireworks of the Independence Day of his brain, Tim only had one thought as he hovered around semi-consciousness.
She giggled that time.
It didn't get much better, but when Cassandra left him to go on patrol, she was smiling and friendly, and Tim didn't think she felt any malice towards him, had never in fact. They had survived, which in her life was probably all she had ever looked forward to and was the only thing, aside from friendship, that mattered to her. She had never felt angry at him for getting her involved with the Riddler. Knowing her, she'd blamed herself for failing, even if it wasn't her fault.
That didn't mean she wasn't going to push him to get back into shape.
"Ow," Tim said again, lying on the workout bench with a towel on his head.
"KC 812, Gotham plate," a distinguished voice behind him said.
"Uh?" Tim said, lifting one corner of his towel to see Alfred standing there, smiling at him.
"The license number of the truck, Master Tim. The one that obviously ran you over."
"You're a riot, Alfred," Tim said, smiling in spite of himself. "She accepted my apology...eventually."
"You need not have offered one, sir, you knew that," Alfred said, dragging him off the bench and towards the shower. "We all have our parts to play and we do them regardless of the cost. One day you'll get beat up for her, I'm certain of it."
"Gee, thanks," Tim said, closing the shower door behind himself. "You sound like a man speaking from experience."
"You could say that," Alfred said, leaving the boy to shower and think.
"What Is It About the Night That Keeps Us Coming Back?"
By Erik Fromme
Tim Drake crouched on the edge of the roof looking at the city expand out around him. It had been months since he last perched himself solo, and he realized just how much he really missed Gotham at night. Is that sick or what? How could I miss a hell like this? Tim thought to himself as he recollected back to one of the many speeches Bruce gave during one of his countless lessons in life.
"Treat Gotham like a living entity that is ready to steal your innocence, and your very soul. Gotham is without forgiveness, and without remorse. It doesn't care whether you think life is fair or unfair, because Gotham is impartial. It just exists to burden. Do not, Tim, do not ever turn your back on her, because once you do you're dead... and nobody will care."
So how could I possibly miss a city like this? Tim rubbed a gloved hand along the ledge of the roof, and looked at his hand now turned to a dirty black. This place is never clean, there's a constant stench, and even the air tastes funny. Even in the brightest of days, there's a shadow hanging over the city. What could I have possibly missed?
Robin cranked his neck to the right and felt an instant flash of pain run down his neck, as it got slightly warmer. "Ow, pinched a nerve." Tim reached up and rubbed his sore neck muscles, whether they were still sore from his throw down with the Riddler, or strained from his numerous training sessions with Cassandra to get back into prime condition. "Probably a little bit of both," he said aloud in reply to his thoughts.
Movement! Something caught Tim Drake's attention out of the corner of his eye, as his head snapped around to catch it, but it was gone. Again! This time it was on the other side of him, and again he saw nothing but steam rising from a vent in the roof.
Dismissing it for anxiety Robin returned to his perched position, but erring on the side of caution he scanned around him, and saw someone standing behind him... "Spoiler?" he asked, but there was no reply, because there was nobody around to give one. "Damnit!" Tim didn't want to admit to himself, but try as he might he couldn't shake his thoughts about Stephanie Brown. I wonder if she is missing this as much as I did. Then something about that thought turned him bitter. Maybe, but she walked away from this on her own... I was pushed out.
Tim slapped his already dirtied hand on the concrete ledge in frustration. I must be getting bored, because I am driving myself crazy. Something better happen quick.
"HELP ME!" a girl cried out, the only clear sound that made it out of the pack of muffled voices around her. Reacting quicker than thought, Tim raced along the ledge to the source of the scream, dismissing it for only as a distraction and not for what it really was; an answer.
Robin could hear the struggle; as he estimated a total of four muggers and one victim. Reaching into his utility belt, Robin pulled out four r-rangs, and with his other hand he grabbed his grapple. Coming closer, Robin could make out the shadows along the wall, thanks to the moon that now hung behind him like it was aiding him in his quest.
Flinging the grapple, it flew diagonally across the gap between the buildings and caught onto the fire escape. Robin ran until the roof was no longer under his feet and fell. Swinging down he saw one man push the girl to the littered ground of the alley. As Robin swung down, his shadow blocked the light over them and they turned in unison only to be stung by the r-rangs that now stuck out of either their arms or shoulders.
Robin let go of his line and dropped the remaining distance, where he fell to the ground in a roll and came out of it with his bo extended. Staying low, Robin swept out two of the thugs feet and took some solace in the thuds they made as they hit the ground. Next, Robin came up driving the end of his staff into the underside of another's chin, grinning as he heard the guys teeth slam together before he fell, but before he made contact with the ground Robin spun around, swinging his staff like a bat driving home a ball, which in this case was the forth guy's head.
Spinning, coming around 360 degrees, Robin jammed his bo out, catching one of the men that he swept earlier and now returning to his feet, in the stomach forcing all of the air in the guy's lungs out in a huff of air. Then he kicked out, planting his black boot into the other's chest, which sent him sprawling backwards where the back of his head made solid contact with a brick wall.
All of these men would have pounding headaches when they wake up tomorrow morning in a Gotham jail cell.
Tim looked down and reached his hand out to the girl. "Are you alright?" he asked as he pulled the girl, who graciously took his hand, back to her feet.
"Oh my god!" she exclaimed as he suddenly wrapped her arms around Tim. "That was amazing! Thank You! But I better get home now!" She pulled away and gave Tim a quick peck on the cheek before racing out of the alley.
Tim rubbed his cheek, and looked down at the thugs as he called to Oracle to have unit come by and pick them up. He quickly tied them up to ensure they wouldn't get away, and he was out of the alley before the police car pulled up the outlet.
Robin now swung through the city a little bit happier, and a lot wiser. What did he miss about Gotham? What was it about the night that called to him? It was because Gotham was genuine. It didn't make any attempt to hide the fact that it would steal your innocence, and your soul. The people who lived here understood that better than anybody else in the world. Nobody gave a damn if they lived or died, and deep within they understood that also, and they felt insignificant because of that. So when somebody comes by who does care, and who does help they can, and do, appreciate the effort better than anybody else in the world could, and their thanks was also as genuine as the night.
That is what Tim missed when he was forced to not put the costume on, something that could be so easily forgotten in the mass of those that would do harm. He missed the genuine thanks in the continued effort to make the world a safer place, even if it was one person at a time.