I do not own these characters or any rights to them. I intend this story only for enjoyment and not any personal gain. Everybody belongs to DC. If I mangle them, however, it's all my fault! -krtshadow

FYI: It's been three years since Jack Drake discovered what his son Tim did at night. Tim is returning from his banishment to Europe, and he has a few questions that he would like answered. Tim was almost 16 when he was found out, and is now only a couple of months away from 19.

Chapter 1/5: Back In Town

I returned to the United States via one really long flight, complete with screaming kids and a couple of horrible movies. Since I was paying for this one, I was not flying first class, or even business. Nope, I was stuck in coach. Sleeping was only a dream of mine, since the woman beside me was juggling three kids under ten all by herself. After an hour and a half of whining and crying, I took matters into my own hands. I pulled a pencil out of my pocket and began twirling it in my fingers. The two older kids, maybe 6 and 9 respectively, watched me out of the corner of their eyes.

I added a pen to the mix and smiled inwardly at the look of awe that they gave my dexterity. The boy was sitting next to me and I asked him if he wanted to try. Both he and the girl nodded eagerly and I showed them how to manage it. "You'd better practice, though. It's not easy."

The rather frazzled mother sent me a look of gratitude as they became occupied with wrapping their fingers around the objects. They weren't all that talented, but it kept them occupied for the better part of an hour, during which the mother was able to get her baby to sleep and pay a little more attention to the other children. I still couldn't sleep and watched the bad movies as a way to pass the time. The mother returned my pen and pencil to me as soon as the other two children fell asleep.

My flight ended in Atlanta, where I managed to get through customs and find a hotel with relatively little problem. I used one of my more realistic fake ID's, purchased in a very seedy part of London. It had cost me a pretty penny, but it was good enough to fake me out, and hopefully anybody else that would be looking. I planned on staying here for a day before heading home. I told myself that I just needed some time to acclimate myself back into the US, but I knew that I just needed time to settle my nerves. I had the room until three o'clock the next day, so I could utilize the time for acclimation or nerve settling, either one. At eleven o'clock that night I dressed in comfortable black clothes and a black mask. Atlanta had no current superheroes and it was a perfect place for me to practice on a few of the things that I hadn't done for a while. The biggest of these was swinging through the night via d-cel cable.

I spent several hours swinging and moving through the night. It came back to me remarkably quickly, the twist of the body to give you that little extra height, the tuck of the legs to enable rolling, and the instinctive balance that becomes second nature. Dang, it was good to be doing this again. I headed back to my hotel with a little more confidence, and went in through the window with out anybody being the wiser. Between jet lag, the fact that I hadn't been able to sleep on the plane, and my several hours of exercise, sleep sounded mighty nice. I fell into bed without even bothering to remove anything but my mask.

The next morning, I checked out of my hotel with no little amount of anticipation and expectation in my belly. In just a few days now, I would know what my future might or might not be. I bought a bus ticket to Gotham.

The ride was long and uneventful. I slept most of the way, since there were no crying children in my immediate vicinity. The man next to me looked like he'd appreciate his privacy as much as I appreciated mine, so I didn't even have to be sociable.

I woke with a crick in my neck and an ache in my rear. I'd forgotten how much I hated buses. I glanced up, and noticed that we were just passing a sign stating that it was only ten miles to Gotham City. I was very glad to have reached my destination at last. The bus stopped and I stiffly rose from my seat. I retrieved my duffel from the overhead bin and headed out the door. The sign over the terminal stated in heavy black letters, "Welcome to Gotham". I wondered if anybody else would extend that greeting to me in my hometown.

I found a room in one of the lesser quality motels and settled my meager belongings on the bed. One of the reasons I had chosen this particular place was the fact that they offered Internet access. My laptop was out and set up in minutes. I had stayed abreast of current events while overseas, but I needed to get up to date on a few of my favorite people.

SEARCH: Jack Drake Hmmm, Dad hadn't been up to much recently. Business was doing fine, was seen at such and such social gathering, stock is rising slowly but steadily. Wife Dana expecting their first child. WHAT? Oh, that would have been nice to know. She's due in about a month. Well, that's a surprise. Son Tim is overseas, studying. Heh, not anymore he's not. Well, other than the fact that I'll be a big half brother soon, nothing too awfully surprising there.

SEARCH: Bruce Wayne Donated a million dollars to this charity, seen attending that banquet, possible relationships with no less than four supermodels. Business as usual for the enigmatic Mr. Wayne. Wayne Industries was doing very well, had just acquired several smaller companies.

I searched for a couple of other random Gotham elite, and then moved on to Gotham's superheroes.

SEARCH: Batman Myth. Considered a very dangerous vigilante in the Gotham area. Sightings listed in the normal places. Occasionally seen with a female, also dressed as a bat. Possible connections with Nightwing, a Bludhaven vigilante, and the JLA.

Not any new information there, but I really hadn't expected much considering the fact that Oracle no doubt carefully monitored what was revealed to the public.

Well, if Oracle was anything like she used to be, that little series of searches would set off an alarm somewhere. I wondered if my current ID would really hold up under the kind of scrutiny that she could bring to bear. Oh well, if it didn't, the secret would be out just a little sooner than I'd planned. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

I donned my night gear again and stepped out onto my balcony. Carefully scanning the night for any prying eyes, I found none, and launched a grapple line towards a convenient overhang. I swung from the balcony and melted into the shadows of the rooftops of Gotham.

The night was alive with sounds and smells that were so familiar I could place them without even thinking. That rather oily smoky smell from the industrial district, the sour smell of ozone from all the lights on the casino's down on Third. The faint salty smell that drifted in from the harbor if the wind was right and the smell of gas fumes from the cars below. Everything was still the same. I'd changed, but Gotham hadn't. I stood at the top of one of the tallest buildings in Gotham, dressed in black, waiting.

She was very good. If I hadn't been expecting something similar, I'd have never even heard her, and that's saying something now. She came up behind me, quiet and deadly. I didn't move until I figured that she was ten feet behind me, and then I jumped. Wind whistled in my ears as I fell out of her reach. I knew that she would follow me, but also knew it would take her precious seconds to prepare for the jump. By then she'd never find me.

I fired a grapple and swung away quickly. I grinned in delight as the wind beat against my face. I was stronger, and quicker, and I gloried in the fact that I'd have never been able to make that jump a couple of years ago. I wanted to stay out longer, but I knew that Cass had likely called my presence in and I wouldn't be able to stay out unless I wanted to be rudely captured. That was not what I'd had in mind.

After changing to normal street clothes, I returned to my room to see that it had been searched. Very efficiently, too. I double checked my laptop and was relieved to see that who ever had been in here had not found my double hard drive. Any information that they read on drive number one would have only stated that I was writing two papers for a school project, one on the mysterious defenders of Gotham and one on the illustrious elite of Gotham. Probably wouldn't convince anyone that I was totally harmless, but at least I had a reason to be looking up the things that I was. I knew that I could still expect to have a couple of eyes on me for the duration of my stay in Gotham. Or at least until they actually figured out who I was. I was able to nonchalantly locate both the bug and the camera that had been placed in my room. I was tempted to wave for the camera and say hi to Barbara, but I didn't want to be responsible for any heart attacks. Plenty of time for that later. Heh.


More coming soon. Please comment, I like even constructive criticism. This will have several more chapters, and is intended to the start of a series. I also take suggestions, although I make no promises. ;o) -krtshadow