Roy lay on his bed, his face buried in his pillow. He grabbed the edges of
the cushion and shoved it up against his ears, but he could still hear them
arguing. About him.
His room vibrated with the sounds of them yelling in the living room. "Did
you ever stop and ask yourself WHY he does the stupid things he does?"
Dinah asked angrily.
"It doesn't MATTER why! He's gone and done it this time! And he KNOWS
better!" Ollie hollered back. He hated when they fought. He hated when they
fought over HIM even more.
"You're a PIG, Oliver Queen! You're a PIG! Did you think maybe he does this
stuff for attention? Maybe you need to spend more time with your sidekick,
and less time with Green Lantern. Unless you want to become HIS sidekick!"
"This isn't about Roy, is it, Dinah?" Ollie asked impatiently. "This is
about YOU! You're mad that we went camping last weekend!"
The boy clenched his eyes shut. He'd done it this time. Not only had he cut
school, lied about why he'd cut school, but now he was making Ollie and
Dinah fight. With all of his might, he pretended it didn't matter to him,
but it did, and it hurt to hear.
"Well, you COULD have told me. And you could have taken Roy with you! You
know he loves that nature stuff. So if he did cut school? It serves your
ugly, self-righteous, selfish ass right!"
The phone on the desk next to his bed began ringing. It got out half an
annoying chirp, and Roy picked it up, searching for some relief from the
"Y-ello," he whispered into the phone, keeping his hand wrapped around his
mouth and the receiver. With his luck, it was a teacher calling to check up
on him, and said teacher was going to hear Dinah and Ollie fighting, and
then it'd be more problems.
"So… um… I'm in Star City, and… like… you wanna get to get together?"
It was Dick! What was HE doing in Star City? And why was he whispering?
"Can't I visit my pal?" Dick asked tentatively.
"Um… What's the matter, Wally not home?"
"Don't you dare walk away when I'm talking to you!" Ollie yelled.
"Everything ok there?" Dick asked with strain in his voice.
Roy winced and glared at the door, as if THAT could make the grownups shut
up. "I mean, where're you at?" Roy asked. "I'll meetcha there in like five
minutes." If it was too far to walk, he'd take Ollie's car. If he was in
trouble for cutting school and using Titans as an excuse when he was really
off in the woods, he might as well steal the car and get nailed for having
it underage and everything else. When you're in over your head, you might
as well go all the way.
"Diner on Fifth and Wood. It's called--"
Dinah was throwing stuff again. He could hear the loud crashes of
knickknacks being obliterated. He just wanted to get out of here before she
used the Canary Cry on Ollie. "I know where you're at." He hung up.
Grabbing his sneakers, he pulled on the high-tops and pondered for a moment
how absolutely cool they were as he quickly tied them. Grabbing his jacket
and a duffel bag full of his Speedy stuff, he threw opened the window and
realized it was warm enough to go without. The jacket. Not the Speedy
Roy decided to run. He hit Seventh and Aldwood about two minutes later. He
was two city blocks north and west of where he wanted to be. So far Ollie
wasn't chasing after him with the car, or with bow and arrow. He knew. He
kept looking behind him.
When he hit sixth street, his Titans communicator began blipping. Pulling
it out of his pocket, he turned it on. "I'm coming already! I still got
like two minutes…"
Donna Troy's uniquely feminine sigh came on the other end. "Roy… are you
"What's up, Wonder Chick?" If only she'd go out with him again. Then their
lives would be perfect, and he wouldn't HAVE to cut school any more.
"Umm… I'm coming to Star City. Any chance we can hook up?" She sounded
"Sure, babe. I'm meeting Dick at Belly's Diner on Fifth. You wanna join?"
He could practically hear her thinking about it. "Well… I DID want to see
you alone… but ok."
Great. She wanted to get back together, and DICK had to show up in town
too. Roy had a theory that Dick was the sole cause of most of his problems.
Little Mr. Perfect.
Bounding the last two blocks up Fifth Avenue, Roy pulled on the strap of
his duffel bag up on his shoulder. He opened the glass door and entered.
The lady behind the counter was incredibly pretty, with curly dark hair and
a really tight uniform shirt, but Roy resisted the urge to hit on her when
he saw Dick sitting in the booth furthest from the door, looking like his
puppy died. He knew Dick didn't have a puppy, so that meant something
really sucky had happened. Good. Dick could join the club of normal people
with normal problems.
You know… like getting your boss all ticked off at you because you cut
school and said it was a Titans thing when really you just needed to go sit
in the woods for a few hours.
"So… um… I heard you and Dick and Donna were getting together so I came
too," Wally said behind him.
Roy spun around, glaring at Kid Flash. "And how did you hear THIS, Fleet
"Wonder Chick told me."
Walking towards Dick's table, he slapped his forehead. "Great. Next thing
you know, we're going to have Gill-Head here, and there goes the
Wally stopped walking behind him.
Tossing his bag into the booth, Roy turned and glared at him again. "You
told Garth we were meeting here?"
The speedster gave an agitated shrug.
Dick's head rose from his second piece of apple pie to the other Titans.
"Wally… I… wasn't expecting… and Garth's coming…" The kid had definitely
lost his puppy.
"And Donna'll be right behind him," Roy said consolingly. "What's up?"
The young man with the dark, perfectly parted hair shook his head. "I… I
was expecting just you. Did you tell Barry? Did he tell Bruce…"
Wally sat down next to his best friend. "What're you talking about? You're
like going faster than even I can understand."
Dick wiped a hand over his face and sucked in a deep breath. " Never mind.
Look, just don't tell Barry I'm here. Or Ollie. Or anyone."
Sitting down, Roy pushed his bag on the floor. "What's up? What'd you DO?"
It had to be something!
"It's a long story, guys. Just… don't tell anyone I'm here." Dick
sheepishly reinvested himself in his food.
Roy let out a sucking laugh. "You run away from home, and you think no
one's gonna notice? The Bat's gonna be on you so fast…"
Dick glared at him for saying 'the name' out loud, in public. "Who said I
Roy rolled his eyes. "Oh please. You ran away. So what the hell do you have
to run away from?"
The waitress came and gave the two new patrons menus, and Dick was relieved
of the burden of answering for a moment longer. She turned away and went
behind the counter, Roy's eyes following her the entire way. Hitting on her
really WOULD make him feel better, he decided.
"I don't know. I just… took off. Like… it all got to be too much. I got
busted for cutting school… Bruce called home and said we were going to talk
about it before he went out tonight… and I just freaked out and left."
Wally's eyes were wide with surprise. Roy had to admit, he was equally
stunned. Dick was totally perfect. Why the heck would he ditch school.
"Weirdness," Wally announced. "I… um… did the same thing today. And… um…
Wonder Woman found me in Australia… and I just sorta took off."
Roy folded his hands in front of him and grinned. "School was awesome
today. We dissected frogs…" He let out a breath and shrank a little in the
seat. "Ok. Fine. I did too. I hid out in the woods until school was over. I
got on the bus to go home, and the principal busted me."
"Weirdness," Wally repeated, then snatched up and consumed the rest of
Dick's pie at super-speed.
As Wally was licking his fingers, and Roy was searching his pockets for
loose change to see if HE could get something to eat too, Donna and Garth
walked in, looking forlorn. Donna waved, and they both approached the
table. Roy took a chance. "You guys wouldn't have happened to have cut
school today, would you?"
Garth and Donna looked at each other, then to the other Titans. "Well…
yeah," Donna answered.
"Yeah. How'd you know? Arthur didn't come up here and--"
The three sitting at the table turned a little red in the cheeks. "Um… no."
Dick said, taking charge. "We all did too."
Roy slid over, making room for Wonder Girl and Aqualad. They both sat down,
and unfortunately, Garth was beside him instead of Donna. Life was cruel
"So… which villain's doing it, you guys?" Wally asked finally. He didn't
think they'd do this all on their own. They were all responsible kids
(except for Roy), and what were the odds they'd ALL start acting dumb at
the same time?
Dick's guilt seemed to pass now that he had something to fixate his
attention. His brow furrowed, and he moved closer towards being Robin, the
Teen Titans leader, and away from Dick Grayson, Teenage Screwup. "Ok. I
guess we gotta think about who we've irritated lately, and who would have
the ability to make us collectively do something out of the ordinary."
Roy was grateful Dick had suggested it was out of the ordinary for HIM too.
The truth was, this kind of thing wasn't so unusual for Roy. In fact, he'd
gotten suspended this time. This was his fifth offence. He didn't need to
bring that up now, though.
When Roy came out of his thoughts about how he was a complete loser,
suggested bad-guys were already being tossed around the table.
"Well, I just don't think it's her because she left the solar system,"
Donna chimed in forcefully.
"Ok," Dick said, writing on his napkin. "So she's off the list." He looked
to Roy. "Got any ideas?"
Roy held his hands up defensively. "Don't look at ME! I was grounded during
your last two missions." For the cutting school thing.
"He's right," Dick said, getting an idea. "The last person we all faced
together was Gargoyle." That had been a month ago—Garth had missed a
mission, and so had Wally, since then.
"Yeah, that was the last time we were all together. And he can DEFINITELY
do it. He feeds off of problems," Garth answered as he looked over Roy's
"So, lets go kick his butt," Roy contributed finally. "I mean… he got me in
trouble with Ollie." That guy deserved whatever he had coming. For ONCE in
Roy's life, it WASN'T his fault. And he wanted Gargoyle to tell Ollie that.
"Well, Bowhead," Wally began. "First we have to find him. And we know how
great that went the LAST time."
Yeah, they'd gotten glared at by Batman for the amount of public
destruction they had caused. He didn't like Robin being a Titan. He REALLY
didn't like it when the Titans got public. Robin effectively avoided
cameras, reporters and prying eyes, but Batman was still loathe to have
that kind of publicity so close. Hence the evil glairing thing.
"Ok. I think what we have to do is get back to the Titans Tower, and start
working on this," Dick announced.
"Wait!" Wally cried defensively. "We didn't eat yet!"
Sensing the collective agitation at the table, the waitress in the tight
shirt reappeared. "Can I get something for the rest of you?" Her hand was
poised above her notepad, ready to write.
Dick looked around, obviously unhappy with waiting. "I just want milk," he
answered finally, giving the rest of them permission to eat.
"Just a salad," Donna said, speaking up first.
Garth studied the menu, looking for something that wasn't too offensive.
"Salad for me too."
Roy already knew what he wanted. "Apple pie and French fries."
Wally looked up at the girl with bright eyes. "I want waffles, and
pancakes, a BLT, a double order of sausage, French fries, a hamburger…"
The girl looked around the table. "So… uh, is this a check for each of you,
or one big bill?"
Suddenly, all the Titans' eyes were on Dick.
He sighed. "One big bill," he said finally.
They all grinned. "Thanks, Dick, you're the best!"
* * *
Two hours later, they anxiously sat behind Robin, who was typing away at
the the large computer in the Titans Lair. "This CAN'T be right," Robin
"Well, then what's the dealy-o," Roy asked impatiently. "If he's still
banished, how's he doing this?" Roy would STILL rather be out sitting in
the woods, instead of in the computer room.
Wally's foot tapped impatiently. He'd been sitting here for like… twenty
minutes now. That was forever to a speedster.
"Does someone want to explain what's going on?" an adult voice said behind
"Aww crap," they muttered in unison. Except for Donna. Donna was perfect
and didn't talk like that, Roy thought.
Five teenagers slowly turned in their chairs to see the Man of Steel
standing with his arms over his chest. Roy was surprised, though—his face
was more filled with concern than reprimand. He was glad it wasn't Batman.
THAT would have been Reprimand. Or Ollie.
"Well… um… um…" Was Dick without words? Where was Mr. Perfect now? Dick was
panicking! That didn't leave much hope for the rest of them.
"Well, Some badguy made us cut school," Wally chimed in lamely.
Superman seemed a little amused. "A villain made you cut school," he asked
"Yeah! He did!" Garth said supportively.
Roy licked his lips. Suddenly, it sounded lame. Even to him.
Dick stood up, pushing his yellow cape behind him. "Well, see… the thing
is… we all skipped school at the same time."
"It's hardly fun skipping school by yourself," Superman pointed out.
Why did he sound like he had some kind of experience cutting school? "What
we mean is… we all skipped school, and we didn't know everybody else was
skipping school, and we just all met up and stuff on accident." Roy ruled.
He'd just talked to Superman, and he hadn't burst into flames or anything.
Superman came and stood behind Robin. "You know, all of your mentors are
looking for you, and none of them are very happy. Perhaps you should go
share this… information with them."
Five heads shook vigorously 'no.'
He quickly read over the information up on the screen. "Gargoyle, huh?" He
heard over the information one more time, then scrutinized them. "Wonder
Girl, I was hoping you would know better." The girl tugged on her pony
tail, and looked down at her sandals. "And Wally—we do NOT run away from
Wonder Woman when she is talking to us." Roy thought he sounded too much
like he knew about THAT first hand too. "Speedy—you guys'll be staying in a
hotel tonight—Oliver and Dinah put a hole in the living room wall." Roy
covered his eyes with his hands. He couldn't believe he'd caused that much
Superman turned next to Garth. "Aqualad…"
Garth colored at the cheeks. "Is Arthur mad?"
"Arthur is mad," Superman confirmed, sparing the young man the gory
details. It was awfully difficult to cut school at a boarding school, when
your bedroom and your classroom are only one wing away, and somehow Aqualad
had done it.
"And lemme guess," Dick contributed finally. "Batman's busting a gasket."
That was putting it mildly compared to what Bruce was doing right now.
That's why he'd run to Roy. Roy would know what to do.
"He's… concerned," Superman said vaguely.
Dick nodded once. That meant Batman had blown like Mt. St. Helen's. "That's
why we gotta clear our names. You'll let us do that, right?"
Superman looked around at all of them again. They did seem quite guilt-
ridden—and yet—still agitated.
"I have an idea—why don't I work on this? There's an hour or so before it
gets dark. Go outside and play." Superman realized as soon as it was out of
his mouth, it was a dumb thing to say.
"Play!?" Wally cried out.
"Yeah!" Roy seconded. "We're not little kids!"
"What I mean is… go get some fresh air." Didn't kids believe in that any
more? His mom always let him play after his chores were done, before
Dick tried to take charge again. "We appreciate it, Superman, but we would
really rather work this case ourselves." The Justice League really needed
to give them some space—and stop babying them. He was sure the other Titans
Clark tried to change tactics. "You guys need some fresh air," he
reaffirmed, then added, "clear the rest of Gargoyle's influence out of your
heads, and I'll work on this for a little bit."
Their eyes lit up a little, they seemed to accept the possibility that
maybe going outside would help… they seemed to WANT to go, but they did NOT
want the 'adults' encroaching on their territory. "Let me make you a deal.
You let me help you out today, and you guys can take care of Metropolis for
the entire weekend."
The kids looked at each other in shock, then back to Superman, to see if it
was a joke.
"The ENTIRE weekend," Dick asked skeptically.
"The entire weekend. Friday night after dinner until Sunday evening," he
said with confidence. "No strings attached."
The Titans looked to their leader in guidance. Thoughtfully, Robin bit his
cheek and stared back at his group. "Well, I guess we can do some more
Superman shook his head. "Think of something that isn't stressful."
"Training isn't stress--" The boy stopped when he saw the look Superman was
giving him. Kal El was serious. "Ok. Something… relaxing. Fun even. Cause
we gotta purge Gargoyle's influence."
Superman smiled at the group. "Good. Now get out of here. You're running
out of sunlight."
* * *
It had gotten dark, and the Titans still had not come inside. He could hear
them yelling and fighting over a Nerf football. A quick scan with the x-ray
vision confirmed that they were laughing and running and fighting, and
generally enjoying the first nice day spring had afforded.
He'd gone over all of their files, contacted Zantana and his connections on
Paradise Island, both had confirmed that Gargoyle was where he belonged,
and not a threat. He had a feeling not, but he had to check. Finally, he
started making calls to mentors.
Barry was the first, since he was the easiest.
"They needed a skip-day?" the elder speedster asked.
Superman shrugged. He'd been their age once. He knew what happened when it
started to warm up. "I can't say I blame them. Their last six adventures
have been under ground, in space, and in the Arctic. It's sunny, it's warm…
if I didn't have two jobs, I'd be out there with them."
"Why don't you?" Barry asked. "I'll call everyone else and let 'em know the
Superman had to smile. "Don't worry, I have a few free days coming up." He
hadn't been ENTIRELY altruistic in letting the kids take care of his city.
"I think I'd better call around. Unless YOU would like to explain to Bruce
what Spring Fever is?"
Barry, who was as stalwart as they came, flinched. "Nope. You can do it.
I'm pretty sure he's never shirked duty for fun in the sun. Good luck,
you're on your own!"
Smiling, Clark closed the connection and sat back in the chair. Above him,
he could hear the playful cries of five extraordinary teenagers. Their
shouts reminded him of his own days spent running through high grass and
down dirt roads, just to feel the first warm breeze of spring against his
They were heroes, but they were still young, and just as susceptible as the
Man of Steel to the lull of the first day of Spring.