Hey, I'm back. Those of you who read and liked my previous fic, Exile's Return, will be happy to know that I have decided to make a series out of the idea and have plans for at least three more fics after this one and possibly more. Anybody who hasn't read Exile's Return, you will definitely want to read that one first, since this current story will make absolutely no sense if you don't. This is story # 2. Please review. I would appreciate any ideas or comments that you may have. Suggestions on the story line are fine, although I may or may not use them. –krtshadow

Disclaimer: Not mine, all DC's, this fic is only intended for enjoyment and to show how much I love these characters and messing with their heads.

Chapter One: Thoughts

I woke several hours later as the door to my room opened. It was still dark outside, and for a moment, I couldn't remember where I was. Under my pillow, I grasped my bo, ready to defend myself. Then I remembered where I was and cracked an eye open. Silhouetted in the slightly open door was Bruce, still in costume, with a robe over top. He looked at me for about thirty seconds and then silently shut the door and I relaxed again, opening my eyes all the way and staring up at the ceiling. Faint moonlight shone in through the window and cast strange shadows across the room.

The confusion of the shadows reminded me of my life. One of my major problems was behind me now, that of discovering why the clan deserted me for three years. The reason was understandable, although it seemed to me that they could have at least let me know that there was a reason before letting me wonder about whether I was just a soldier, and not a family member as I had thought. But Bruce had made a decision that couldn't have been easy for him. I mentally thanked the teacher that had been willing to listen to my story and open my mind to the fact that there may have been reasons that I wasn't aware of. If it hadn't been for his encouragement, I'd have never gotten the courage to return. I was glad I had, since I'd been able to fall instantly back into the camaraderie of the clan. I wondered if they had thought about me, and if they'd expected me to react badly to their actions.

If I still know the clan like I think I do, Alfred and Cassandra never doubted that I'd return and that everything would return to normal. Barbara likely kept her opinion to herself, but privately thought that I would return but ultimately consent to living the idle rich life that my father had pushed on me. Dick probably wavered between thinking that I'd never come back and that I'd come back furious at everyone for abandoning me. Bruce was a little more difficult to figure out. I think from the look in his eyes he had been expecting me to come around one of these days and hate him with a passion for having to make the decision that he did.

It had probably surprised them all that I took the news of my father's ultimatum as calmly as I did, but I'd long had to learn to control my feelings and emotions when it came to him. He had done his best to grind the vigilante out of me, but I think that all of his effort only caused me to work harder and learn deviousness. The other driving reason behind my ceaseless study had been the hopes that Batman would take me back if I was good enough. I was only now able to really understand my own actions, since at the time, I would have sworn that I hated Bruce. Looking back, it was clearly defensive on my part, trying not to care so it wouldn't hurt so much. So, I poured my life and my dreams into becoming the best that I could be, all carefully shielded from my father, of course. I'd began with the desire to prove myself to Batman and the rest of the family, but somewhere along the way it changed to the desire to be the best that I could be.

I found that I could be very good, if I wanted to be. Three years of study for a person as determined as I had been can do wonders, especially since I'd had very good background training as part of my work as Robin. Fate had worked with me, and through hard work and dealing with some very strange and demanding teachers, I'd become one of the better martial artists in the world. I wasn't the best, and had no desire to test my skills against others in order to pursue that title. I was just as happy if no one outside of my personal friends even knew that I was as good as I was.

I grinned as I remembered the look on Dick's face after my talents had been revealed. I'd often imagined how it might have turned out, but nothing came to mind that was better than that look of total surprise and astonishment. Except maybe the look on Bruce's face when he realized that I wasn't holding any hard feelings. And Cass, man, she'd grown up. She was a beautiful woman, and I couldn't help wondering if she was involved with anybody. I mentally changed the subject, no use even thinking about that right now.

Tomorrow, I needed to talk to Bruce. I also needed to decide what I was going to do about my Dad. It was tempting to just write him out of my life, but I felt that I should make an effort. I remembered the last communication that I'd had with him, a card that I received a week before my eighteenth birthday, congratulating my on my seventeenth. I'd been annoyed that he didn't even take the time to get the right year, until I realized that it would make my planned escape much easier. He wouldn't even be expecting any trouble from me for a whole year. I stifled a chuckle as I remembered how I'd took the passing examination the very next day and informed the headmaster that I was leaving, and that my father would not be notified of the fact by me for at least six months. He soon realized what I was implying and required a sizable chunk of my saved up allowances to buy his silence. As far as Dad knew I was still in school in Switzerland. The headmaster was likely pocketing the monthly payments as well, but I didn't care. It gave me freedom to finish my training in deep China, and plan my return to Gotham.

My last teacher, Chung Mei, had taught me more than just the masking moves that I used on Cass, but a lot about myself, and how I affected the world. He'd been the one to totally convince me to be open to the idea that there could be a valid reason for the estrangement of my friends. He also told me that the bond between a father and a son was fragile even in the best of times. I could almost hear his voice, so calm and deep, "Do not be the one to cut the tie, for regrets mend nothing, and regret it you will later if you give him no chance. Face him as a man to a man and watch for what he means, not what he says. Then, if he still cares nothing, you can forget him knowing that you made every effort. Find a new father if it pleases you then, but do not throw the one you have out until you are certain that reconciliation is not possible." Master Mei had been a wise, wise man, and although it wouldn't be easy, I wanted to try. Maybe, we could at least hold a reasonable conversation without him treating me as a child and me punching him out for what he'd done to my life.

With that hopeful thought in mind, I relaxed back into my pillows and returned to my dreams.