Author's Note:
This is for all of those Robin fans who, like me, absolutely LOATHE the current story line (i.e. Timmy isn't Robin no more!! ( Boo hoo!). This is the only way I can deal with it without screaming, and, just for fun, since I follow Nightwing as well (poor guy, they're screwing up his life more than Timmy's!... DEATH TO TARANTULA!!) I thought I'd set the universe straight again. Mwahahahaha!

Also, I'm playing with continuity a little here: since the different series don't keep on the same timeline as each other, I've decided that everything that happened to Dick in the past few issues, after the break up of D and B, happened after Tim quit.

Disclaimer: You know I don't own these people. I know I don't own these people. Everybody knows that DC owns these people!! So obviously I'm not about to get any money from this. I'm just giving the writers at DC my free consultation on how the stories should REALLY go! {Love you DC! Really, I do! Don't sue! (Just fix ROBIN and NIGHTWING so I'll continue buying them from you!!)}

Robin's Song

KA-BLAMM!

The train slammed to a stop, jarring its passengers out of their seats. The lights flickered and died; someone in another car screamed. As no more explosions were immediately forthcoming, though, the people inside the underground railway began to assess themselves and each other for damage.

"You ok?"

"Terry? Terry where are you?"

"Here mama."

"I think my arm is broken!!"

The voices rose to an almost unbearable volume, but the young man in the blue jacket let them wash over him like a soothing breeze. He concentrated on breathing exercises learned in the far east, meditations used by a remote religion in South America, and the sheer willpower he had learned from his greatest mentor and, for awhile, father figure.

"Tim? Tim, are you all right?" the young man grimaced, his concentration lost. For years he had dreamed of the day when his father would finally pay attention to him. Instead he had traveled all over the world with his wife, spending more time away from home than with Tim. And so, left to his own devices, Tim had managed to find himself a family of his own. Oh, not by design, of course. He had figured out one of the most heavily guarded secrets on Earth when he was still a child, purely by coincidence and a stray memory. His hero worship had led him to confront Dick Grayson, Nightwing, when he saw how Batman was falling apart without a Robin. He had never dreamed that HE, Timothy Drake, would one day wear that mantle.

"I'm fine." Of course, being Robin had affected him in many ways. He had made friends with the most powerful teenagers on the planet, and even had the respect of such lauded figures as Superman and the Flash! And Dick had become his big brother; Barbara his sister. And though he didn't always agree with or get along with Bruce, he had developed a connection to him as well. He had certainly been more of a father to Tim in those first months as Robin than Tim's dad had been for years.

"Are you sure?" But now his dad knew everything. And the price for his silence was Tim's resignation. To be fair, Tim knew that his dad was reasonable and would recognize the danger he would put everyone, including himself, his wife and son, in if he were to reveal any of the secrets. But he WAS his father. And as much as he hated to lose Robin, as much as it felt that he had died inside, a large part of him still wanted his dad to accept and love him for who he was.

"I said I'm fine!" He just wished his dad could understand that who he was was Robin! After over a month of "house arrest" he was being let out more often, but he was still put through intensive interrogation each and every time he left the house. He had made a promise, but as time went by he wasn't sure how much longer he was going to be able to stand by it. He...

KRAACCK! Tim was jolted out of his reverie by the sound of metal splitting. As the other passengers once again panicked, he quickly and unconsciously surveyed the scene. A shadowy figure dropped into the subway car. The person was obviously female, but beyond that was unidentifiable. His first instinct was to run and change...to DO something about this, but he could feel his dad's presence like the weight of a mighty chain around his neck. The woman looked behind her and then ran towards the connecting door to the next car. Just as she reached the seam, another figure, this one male, and painfully familiar to Tim, dropped into the hole she had created seconds earlier. This figure paused, just as she had, to get his bearings, and his eyes fell upon Tim standing to the side of the car. Tim felt a hand on his arm, and realized he had taken a step forward unconsciously. He shook of the restraint, but remained in place, watching helplessly as his "big brother" gave chase.

"NO!!" the woman's voice rang out as Nightwing attempted to stop her. Tim yearned to run to Dick's aid; he hadn't seen nor spoken with him since the "incident" in the cave. He missed his other family... Dick and Babs and Alfred, and yes, even Bruce. The scuffle had moved on, and another explosion rocked the car. People were trying to climb out of the gap in the ceiling; others attempted to pry open the outer doors. Tim gave his dad a look, then went to help unseal the exits. As the last person exited the car, Tim leapt lightly to the ground, prepared to see his father bearing down on him and draggin him away forcibly. Instead he found himself facing another figure from his past, one which he hadn't really expected to ever see again.

"Uh, Cass, what are you doing here?" he looked around, trying to make sure his dad wasn't about to interrupt them.

"Tarantula." Cassandra Cain, the current Batgirl, could speak rather fluently now, when she chose to. Unfortunately she more often chose to be economical with words. Of course, Bruce hadn't set a very good example of rhetoric for her to follow.

"Um, yeah." Tim wasn't sure what to say to that. He had been out of the loop so long that she could be speaking in a whole new "batcode" for all he knew. He did recall hearing the name once, but the memory slipped from his mind, and he couldn't recall the significance.

"Nightwing needs help." Tim nodded. Tarantula, that's right. Dick had mentioned the female vigilante-cum-killer a few months ago. But what was she doing in Gotham?

"TI-IM! Help!" He stared at her blankly. Did she not know he was retired? What was her...

"Ow!" She grabbed his arm, pulling him deeper into the subway tunnel, where no one could see them. Glancing both ways, she thrust a bag into his hands.

"Tim!?" he heard his dad calling, and knew that if he stayed too long that he would get suspicious. He looked in the bag and...

"No." Cassandra started to speak but he cut her off. "Maybe you hadn't heard, but I'm not... I can't... I'm not allowed to, Cass." She shook her head angrily.

"Stupid." Tim gave her a sad, halfhearted grin.

"I know. But I promised, and I can't just..."

"Can too." He sighed.

"Tim!!" He started walking back towards the milling crowd.

"Wait!" Cass ran after him, grabbing ahold of hisshirt and slamming him up against the wall. "Nightwing needs help. Tarantula...is...bad. Bad for him. Needs your help. My help. Everyone. Nightwing is alone. Tim is alone. Barbara...Bruce... everyone alone. Is not right. You fix." Tim rubbed his head where it had hit the wall.

"Cass, you don't understand... my dad... he'll tell everyone who we are! He...he's still my dad, even if he's wrong. When Ba-Bruce says something you don't agree with, you still do it." Cassandra shook her head violently.

"No. He say I can't be Batgirl, I be Batgirl anyway." Tim slumped against the wall, remembering. He couldn't explain it to her. "Now. You help." He felt her pressing the bag at him again, and looked back up the tunnel. Dick needed him. He had always been there for him, a big brother and mentor, in the past, was Tim going to just let him fight alone?

"Tim?" He looked up to see his dad glaring at Cassandra. There was no way he could know who she was, yet Tim knew his dad didn't trust him wit anything these days. "Come on, someone called the police, they're going to bring some transportation out of here." Tim didn't move. "TIM, I said let's go!" Cass moved in front of him, and Tim knew she was about to do something really stupid.

"Ok, ok." He pushed her aside, trying, but failing miserably, to ignore the angry look she gave him as he submitted to his parent's browbeating.

"He NEEDS your help. I help. You help too!" He glanced back, but Cassandra had melted into the shadows. Jack Drake looked back too, but not in remorse. He knew he had been lucky to get to Tim before that horrible crowd got their claws into his son once again. He didn't notice the sack that Tim still help limply in his hand. As they approached the others, a bright light grew closer and closer.

"I guess that's the transport" Jack declared cheerfully, increasing his pace, but Tim stopped suddenly.

"No, it's..." the light blinded them for a second and when Tim's eyes readjusted he saw that Tarantula had caught a ride on the opposite bound train and escaped Nightwing for the time being. A desperate light gleamed in her eye as she crouched amid the terrified civilians. She searched quickly, then lunged at her target. She needed a hostage, a bargaining chip. She shot a charge up a ventilation shaft, followed quickly by a line. Grabbing her hostage she pulled herself out of the subway and into the night.

"Damn!" Tim looked at the hole where his father had disappeared. It seemed he had little choice now. No matter his promise. A hand came to rest on his shoulder, pulling him backwards into a slight crevice. Tim was only a little surprised to see Batgirl. She pointed to the bundle he held, indicating that he should change. His hand shook as he grasped the material... material he had thought he would never again feel against his skin. He pulled off his shirt, then glared at Cassandra, indicating that she should turn around. He could make out the outline of a smirk under her mask, but she complied and a minute later Robin stood in the subway tunnel, ready to take on the night.

"Robin back!! Let's go." Batgirl fired her grappling hook up after Tarantula, but Robin hesitated. He shouldn't be doing this... he had promised his dad. But for the first time in over a month he really felt like himself. He looked up at the night sky through the shaft that Tarantula had left, and felt himself relaxing and at the same time tensing up, ready for the fight to come. He reached for his grapple but was stopped by the sudden pressure on his shoulder.

"Robin? Wh...what are you doing?! Your dad..." Tim grinned for the first time in ages. He clasped Nightwing's hand and felt himself being yanked into a tight hug.

"Hey... I've missed you, bro." Dick started to say something but Tim waved towards the opening. "Shouldn't we be getting after your girlfriend?" It was a joke, but Nightwing didn't laugh. Tim raised an eyebrow. Dick and Tarantula?? Well, there was that rumor floating around about Huntress.... But Tim thought that Dick and Babs... No time for that now. They fired their lines and followed the miscreant vigilante and her captive.

"You too slow." Batgirl sat waiting on the edge of a nearby café as Tim and Dick emerged.

"Why didn't you follow her?" Batgirl made a face.

"Did follow her. STUPID. In restaurant." She indicated the darkened building beneath them. Tim shook his head, confused.

"A trap?"

"Yeah... for me." Dick looked out across the city, lost in thought.

"Uh, not to bring on any jokes about being the 'clueless wonder' or anything, but what the heck is going on?" Tim glared at Dick.

"Loooong story. A lot has happened since you left, kiddo." Tim Rolled his eyes, but let the 'kiddo' pass, since he wanted to hear the story. "Well, you know Babs and I kinda broke up, right?" He nodded. EVERYONE knew that. "Well that was partially through Tarantula's doing. She was working with Blockbuster, killed some people, including Chief Redhorn, and was ready to destroy my life at Desmond's orders. Blockbuster trashed everything, Tim. The circus, my building... everything. A... a LOT of innocents were hurt or killed because he discovered my secret." Dick paused, swallowing the lump in his throat.

"In the end, I guess he won after all, because I stood aside and let tarantula kill him. The original Tarantula lived in my building, her idol, although she didn't take after him much, and he died when Blockbuster blew up the building. So she wanted revenge. And I......I couldn't take anymore. After that, I was tainted, a murderer. She used that, my feelings. I didn't think I could come back, be part of this," he waved his hands at Robin and Batgirl to indicate their whole way of life, "anymore. So we teamed up. It didn't last long. I managed to come to my senses, but she got to know me better than she should have. 'Smy fault. So now she knows me, my secret identity, and how to push my buttons. She knows how to get me to come after her."

Robin and Batgirl were silent. Tim's heart wept for Dick, knowing that, just like Bruce, just like Tim himself, though to a lesser extent, Dick would have kept all the tragedy to himself. He wouldn't have relied on anyone to help him. And he would have blamed himself too.

"Ok, so now we know what she knows, only she doesn't know we know, and she doesn't know us." Tim motioned to Cassandra and himself. No more words were spoken. None were needed. The three young vigilantes burst into action, infiltrating the café. Jack Drake was tied to a chair, Tarantula sitting beside him, waiting as if for a tea party. Nightwing swung down from the ceiling, catching Tarantula's eye. She stood, sauntering over to him.

"I knew you would come." She reached towards him, and he kicked out, dropping her to the floor. She nimbly flipped back to her feet. "If that's the way it's going to be..." She lunged at him, and he barely ducked in time. As they continued to fight, Robin and Batgirl had a fast and furious argument. Nightwing seemed to be holding his own, and perhaps he didn't need their help, except to free the hostage. If that was the case, Robin told Batgirl, she should free him so that his dad didn't find out about him being Robin again. Batgirl disagreed, telling him that if Nightwing ended up needing backup, she would be better at it... because Robin had been out of training for a month, of course. Their argument was cut short, though, as Tarantula managed a lucky strike and Nightwing fell from the blow to his head. He was still conscious, but dazed, and Tarantula was moving in for the kill.

"Auugh!" Batgirl had appeared a silently as a morning mist, and punched Tarantula in the nose. Robin slipped from the shadows, behind his father, and quickly slashed the ropes.

"T- Robin. I thought we had..."

"Not NOW!" he hissed, disgusted that his dad couldn't even realize that they were in danger. Batgirl was toying with Tarantula, letting Nightwing regain his bearings. He came as Tarantula in a fury.

"This is for Babs!" THWACK! "This is for the circus!" POW! "This is..." she parried and tried to speak.

"I didn't' do all tho.."

"Shut up! This is for everything Desmond did to me and those I care about!" WHACK! SLAM! CRACK! She was battered and bruised, and bleeding from the nose, but she tried again to rally.

"And THIS is for me....and you know what I'm talking about!" CRAASSH!! Tarantula flew backwards, slamming into the wall, falling, and breaking a table, finally unconscious. Batgirl tied her up as Nightwing caught his breath. As they waited for the police, Jack Drake tried to pull Robin aside and get him to leave, but Tim ignored him and went to talk to Dick and Cass.

"So..."

"Yeah, so..." Tim shuffled his feet.

"Does this mean you're back?" Tim shrugged. "Because Bruce has gone completely insane. You know he's training Stephanie to be Robin?"

"WHAT!?"

"Yeah, I know." Tim frowned. Stephanie had always wanted to be a super hero, even when everyone told her she didn't cut it. Batman had been the first to say she wasn't right for the job. Why would he...? Looking back, he wondered how much of the interactions he'd had with Stephanie were real feelings and how many of them were her wanting to get "in" on the action. There had been tension between them for awhile now, and he wasn't sure he could live with her trying to take over his job, even if he HAD quit it.

"Well..." he looked over at his father, only to discover both him and Batgirl gone. "Hey! Where'd they go?!" Dick was the one to shrug this time, though he couldn't help a bit of a twitch of a smile. He had his suspicions. Cassandra had thrown a fit, or at least as close to a fit as she can throw, when she found out Tim had quit. The newest Robin and Batgirl had rarely worked really closely, but he had the feeling that if given the chance they might become....closer. Flashing lights signaled their cue to exit, and they slipped out the back and up to the roof. As Tim changed back into his civvies, Dick looked out over the city.

"Hey, Tim... you know, you don't have to be a stranger if you're still a civilian. I mean...I..." Tim smiled.

"Yeah, I get you. Keep in touch, right?" Dick nodded. The two young men regarded each other somberly for a minute, then Tim turned to climb down the fire escape and Nightwing fired off a line. They separated, each hoping it wasn't for the last time.

When Tim got home, Dana had already retired, but his dad was sitting up in the living room. He looked up when Tim entered and began to say something, but Tim cut him off.

"Yeah, yeah, I know." He stopped himself from saying something he'd regret, like 'maybe I should have just LET her keep you hostage?' but just barely. He loved his dad, but, at the moment, he really couldn't stand him.

"No, wait...Tim.... I just wanted to let you know that... I... thank you for what you did tonight. I see more clearly now why you do what you do, and I... I just... I wanted to let you know I release you from your promise." Tim gaped at him, sure that he had hear wrong, or perhaps that he had hit his head harder than he thought when Batgirl had assaulted him. Before he could answer his dad had retired, leaving him alone in the living room. He slowly made his way up to his room, pondering the sudden about face.

"Tim make good Robin." He nearly jumped out of his skin as he entered his room. Cassandra was watching a movie on his computer, wearing civvies. The conversation with his father began to make more sense.

"Cass, what did you do?!" She shrugged and grinned at him.

"I told him...you be Robin."

"Cass! You can't threaten my father! That's not going to win him over!"

"You are Robin again." She pointed out.

"Yeah, but..."

"I tell him...without Tim, Robin dies...but without Robin, Tim dies too...inside." He stood there, surprised that she could read him so well, know how he felt when he didn't even know himself, then feeling surprised that he was surprised. She could read a person like a book.

"Somehow I don't think that would have made him change his mind..." Cass shrugged.

"I didn't hurt...I wanted to, but I didn't." She offered this up to make peace, and Tim shook his head wryly. Always wanting to fight, Cass was.

"Yeah but I talked logic with him...it didn't work. So how come..."

"Didn't like being left on flagpole on top of Wayne Tower." Tim gaped at her, then buried his head in his hands. He was SO dead. "He also knows Tim. Could see you were not happy, even after all this time." She cocked her head to the side, worried that she had done something wrong.

"All right." He smiled, and the silence stretched between them. Her methods were unorthodox, but if it had really made his dad change his mind, he wasn't about to argue with them. Maybe he could try to reason with him again, make him see that being Robin was the right thing for him to do... and hopefully they could get back to being father and son instead of angry strangers. Cass looked out the window, noting the pink on the horizon, indicating daybreak.

"Come!" She grabbed his hand and led him out the window onto the roof. Confused, he followed, his hands and feet remembering the way even through his long absence. Cassandra stood at the edge, arms outstretched, letting the wind blow around her, her hair rippling. Tim moved up next to her and she peeked over at him. She grinned and pointed at something on the roof next door.

"Look!" there, a family of baby birds stretched their necks, mouths wide, waiting for breakfast. As he watched the mother, or father, returned, giving them their food. Tim made a face at Cass.

"Too corny, Cass." But she just laughed and slid off, down the roof, over the fire escape, and into the alley, where she disappeared. Tim shook his head, laughing silently, but before he went back in, he stopped to listen to, and to once again feel like joining, the robin's song.