Disclaimer….. Dick Grayson and batman and other DC comic characters are property of DC comics… This was written for fun not profits and no monetary profit is being made by me. The Character of JohnnyG was written with the help of my anonymous co- writer JohnnyG himself…. Who says that names are changed to protect the innocent …. And he ain,t innocent, but I still made some changes. This story might step on some toes… I hope it doesn't but because I felt it might I did want to warn you. JohnnyG is Gay… and quite happy with that status. The part of JohnnyG was written with Johnny and he assures me he that is how he would respond to the situations given. All things considered I can say in all honesty I believe him. I hope you enjoy the story. … Cyndi
Dick watched the screen of his hand held computer. The last of eight hours of the return flight to the states were proving to be as boring as the week long Board meeting he had just left at Wayne Industries German offices. If not worse.
"I'm serious Babs. According to him his ancestor walked on water three days before Jesus," he whispered into the headset he wore. "I swear, if this guy tells me his family history one more time, I am going to have to do something drastic. I wonder how he would feel about being the first to do a 30,000-foot swan dive in to the Atlantic?"
Every time he heard it, Babs' laughter always made him feel good inside. It seem to activate and image of her in the back of his mind. This time wasn't any different
"Richard John Grayson!" She laughed, "You wouldn't dare," sounding almost unsure that he wouldn't do it.
"Ok, ok... I'll go talk to the Captain see if I can get him to take the jet to 10 thousand, but no lower. After all, we have passenger safety to think about. ...Damn he's coming back." He slipped the computer into his front pocket but kept the audio connection open.
The man, who had introduced himself a James Conrad of the New York Conrad's was stomping up to the front, looking quite annoyed.
"I don't believe it, I don't believe it. My Friend I tell you this is absurd," he mumbled as he seated himself beside the unwilling friend.
"What is James?" Dick asked trying to sound interested.
"I just walked through the lower classes..." He began explaining.
"You went behind the curtain?" Dick replied feigning a look of utter horror. "Surely you jest."
"Oh, don't I wish I were," the man replied. As the Executive of Conrad Corporation began to relay his harrowing experience.
Dick, who was still online with Babs, had to listen to her rave. "Of all the hollow egotistical raging idiotic dolts!" she babbled, "You have my permission to toss him out of the jet, and the sooner the better."
"...And if that wasn't enough," the one time sidekick, heard him say, "someone has seen to it that they get served the same dinner options we had."
"NO!" Dick jumped forward in his seat finding it harder and harder to keep a straight face, between the two conversations going on in his ears.
"I kid you not," he barked, "I cornered the lead servant..." He continued not ever knowing that the last referral to the Flight Attendants as servants was the equivalent of a kick in the teeth, to his fellow first class passenger. It would be like calling Alfred a slave and Dick had been known to blacken a couple of eyes on the playground standing up for the older man he considered more like a Grandfather than a gentleman's gentleman.
"She said that some executive from Wayne Tech, bought dinner for everyone in the lower class..." He emphasized, "everyone."
"You don't say."
"I tell you this, the moment that I get back to the office I am going to be on the phone with Bruce Wayne, personally. We are going to have a heart to heart," he affirmed. "By the time I get through, there will not even be a position in an executive bathroom for this Bozo anywhere in the world!"
"Why wait?" Dick encouraged. "I have my phone right here," he reached in his pocket and pulled out his Wayne Tech Digital phone handing it over to Mr. Conrad.
Taken aback Conrad stared at the phone for a few minutes. Then admitted, "Unfortunately I... I don't have the number on me at this time."
"Oh that's ok" Dick piped up. He was getting that same warm fuzzy feeling he had dressed as Nightwing, just before he nailed the "normal" slime-balls on the streets of Bludhaven. "Just press two." Dick would have paid to have the reaction on the man's face recorded.
"No wait. He wouldn't be at the office this late. Try three, that's the house. And if Alfred answers, tell him I should be home just in time for dinner tomorrow."
Happy with the look of shock on Conrad's face, he took back his phone, got up from his seat and went back to second class for some air.
"Babs, are you still on the line?" he whispered as he strolled down the isles to the rear area.
"Yeah, I'm still here. Twenty something wonder," she giggled. "I have two questions. The first is: if Bruce is number two and three on your phone who do you have as number one?"
He pressed the one key on his the phone and listened as the sound of her personal phone rang in the background. "I don't know how many times I have to tell you," he said into his phone as she picked it up, "But you have always been number one with me."
She laughed and hung up the phone returning to the computer connection. "Cute, real cute." She laughed, "Guess I walked right into that one.
"My other question is: did you really buy dinner for everyone on the plane?"
"Un huh. And breakfast too; it was one of the perks I got for going to the bore fest. Unlimited travel budget. I even splurged for Burger in the box for the kids." He laughed as he saw some of the kids playing with the toy surprise. "Oh man, looky there, they have Superman action figures. That's not fair why not Batman, Robin, or Nightwing? What am I chopped liver?" he whined low enough that Babs was the only one who heard him.
She giggled "Nope, not chopped liver, ... but your not Superman either. At least not to anyone over the age of seven."
"Ouch..." he said mockingly. "Remind me to go by Doc Leslie's and have that dagger pulled from my ego."
Suddenly, a little girl jumped from her seat into his arms. "Whoa! Hi there. Who are you? Let me guess... uh... Supergirl?" He laughed as the child lit up to his smile.
"No, silly, I'm Robin Dover." The little girl was probably five. She had an accent that sounded similar to Clancy's and her hair was red as fire and freckles decorated her nose. "I am sorry, I tripped."
"That's ok Robin. I have been waiting for a pretty redhead to fall into my arms for years." Dick smiled.
"You smooth talker you," Babs whispered, laughing as she listened to the conversation.
The older woman, whom Dick had assumed was the girl's grandmother, started to get up. "Robin! Don't be disturbing the young man, dear."
Dick whispered it was ok, and she sat down and to watch the stranger interacting with her granddaughter.
"What's your name?" The little girl asked.
"Richard Grayson, I like it. It is strong like my da's name. My da's name is Thomas Dover. Do you know my da? He works in Metropolis. We are going to see him," she rattled on, not allowing time for a response. "Have you ever been to Metropolis? It's in America. Nana is taking me to the big building where he works. It's in America also. She said we might get to go to New York too, see the Titan building. Do you know any Titans? My da met them once. A boy in a black mask and yellow cape saved him. I thought masks was bad, but da said they are special people, with special gifts. And sometimes, they wear masks to scare the bad guys, like bad guys wear masks to scare the good peoples. He tells me stories all the time about them. It was long time before I was born. The guy in the mask his name was Robin like me."
The little girl's words seemed to have no end, never leaving any time for a reply so Richard just smiled and nodded or shook his head. "Do you know Robin? Da said that he is the leader. He got to meet all of the Titans, even had his picture in the newspaper. I saw the picture. My cousin her name is Alethea. She's almost 11. She thinks Speedy and Aqualad are cute. I wanna be like Wonder Girl. My da told me all about them, and about New York that's where he met my mom. She is from there. She lives in heaven now. ...Gosh. You're quiet. Are you always this quiet? What's that in your ear?"
"Ummm," he laughed, unsure whether or not he would get the next word in. "It's a hands free phone connection. I'm talking to a friend of mine; her name is Barbara." Adjusting the small transmitter towards the little girl he whispered to her. "Can you say, hi. Barbara?"
The little girl waved at the earpiece and said, "Hi."
"Is that your wife?" Dick only had time to shake his head before Robin started talking again. "Is she pretty?"
"She's beautiful..." slipped out.
"Do you love her?" she asked, this time waiting for an answer.
"With all my heart," he returned almost instinctively.
"I think you should marry her. My da says that's what you do when you love someone."
"Is that so? I guess I will have to tell her that you and your da said that's what we have to do. Ok?"
He stood her back in her chair... "I'll tell you what, do you like the Circus, Robin?"
The little girl smiled and shrugged her shoulders. Her grandmother explained that she had never been to one.
"I have a friend with a small circus that is going to be in Metropolis at the end of this week. Would you like to go? You can take your daddy and some friends too if you would like."
The little girl nodded. He handed the old woman a business card with a special number on it.
"Call him and let him know how many you have coming and when. There will be tickets at the front waiting for you. And you, young lady, no more flying into strangers hands anymore. Stay close to your grandmother and father. Ok?"
Dick started to return to the first class section when plane lurched to the left. The next thing he knew, he and Robin were being flung into the aisle seats. He caught her again, tucking her into his chest and turning to absorb the impact of the seats. He hit the arm an aisle seat with such force, that his shoulder popped totally out of socket with a snap, but there was no time to worry about the unbelievable pain. As quickly as possible, he handed Robin to her grandmother then ran to the front section of the plane.
The jet felt as if it would rattle apart any moment. The passengers screamed out as the oxygen masks fell from the overhead. And yet, at that moment in time, the only thing he that worried him was that he had lost his connection with Babs. It frightened him that he would not get the chance to tell her to her face the things that the little girl had him saying over the phone.
He managed to push through the panicked passengers and around the crewmembers that were trying to calm them. When he finally got to the front, he found Connie McBride, the lead attendant, banging on the door to the cockpit.
"Tom? Hanson? Jonny? Are you ok?" There was no answer. She was about to bang again, when a whiff if smoke caught the attention of another stewardess.
"Get an extinguisher!" Dick yelled as he pushed her out of the way with his good arm. Then, using all the power his legs could muster, he kicked open the door. The shock from the impact ripped through him, going directly to his injured shoulder. Between the smell of burnt flesh, the smoke from the cabin, and the wave of pain that flooded his senses, what happened next was unstoppable. He emptied the contents of his stomach on the floor. Someone grabbed him around the shoulders trying to assist him, only sending another wave of pain and nausea through him, but this time he kept his stomach.
Someone yelled out, "They're dead! Oh God! Oh God, what are we going to do?"
Dick turned his attention back to the cockpit. Two of the three men were definitely dead. The navigator must have been standing away from the panel when the incident happened. Although he was badly burned, he was alive.
At first, no one had noticed two other people from First class had joined them. One was a naval airman, Lieutenant Tanya Ryder.
Dick had talked with her for a short period of time before boarding. The other was Mr. Congeniality himself... James. Who immediately informed them all that if he died on this hunk of junk, he would sue everyone from them to the FAA.
Dick just rolled his eyes and pinched a nerve on the man's neck causing him to drop like a rock. He ignored the look of shock from the lead attendant. "It's only fair," he mumbled as he stepped over the unconscious figure, "he's been a pain in my neck ever since he boarded."
Connie ordered Martin, one of the attendants, to take Conrad to the rear and strap him in, and keep him out of the way. Tanya had already dumped the co-pilot unceremoniously from the chair. Seating herself next to Dick who had done the same to the captain.
"All gauges are down," the lieutenant announced, as she and Dick struggled to pull back on the both wheels watching the horizon for proof they still had controls. With Dick's right arm totally useless, it took both of them to get the aircraft at an angle were they could gain control.
"Yes!" they yelped triumphantly as the plane became level. Then, as soon as he was sure she could handle the plane alone, Dick began to check the radio.
"Richie, have you ever piloted a jet?" she inquired.
When they met at the layover in Scotland the Lieutenant told him she would probably not be calling him Dick. Her exact words were, "I know too many guys who live up to the name, and until you prove yourself one... I think I will call you Richie." It made him cringe the first time she said it but... by the time the delay had been taken care of he was getting used to it.
Tanya was an older lady, about 40. Her brown hair was in a tight bun on her head. She gave the air of authority needed by anyone in the service. They had talked about flying and he told her he was an amateur pilot.
"I've been flying since I was kid," he had told her.
She had laughed. "So, that means you had what? Two weeks air time?"
He had laughed then gave a quick and well-edited synopsis of his life. He had told her that his love of flying came from his life as a trapeze artist in the circus. Then, after the death of his parents, his guardian had let him sit with the pilots of his private jets. He had told her he had gotten his license when he was 15. It wasn't a complete lie, he thought to himself, after all what was he supposed to say? 'Oh, I was flying the batwing when I was 11 and the Titan Jet when I was 15...don't think so.'
"Does a Lear jet count?" he lied, still trying to get some kind of signal on the radio.
"I suppose as much as a F-15. Well, between you and me, we should be able to figure it out," she boasted.
He grimaced as he slammed the headphones on the panel. "The only thing missing is a singing nun and we would have a bad sequel to a movie I once saw. Looks like we are flying deaf...and blind." He fumed, "Can you hold her? I am going to talk to Connie."
She nodded. "Kid, we're doing fine," she praised. "I can handle this for a bit. Go ahead...and get that shoulder looked at!" she yelled, as he stepped out of the room.
Connie already had the emergency teams going through the spiel about remaining in their seat belts and one by one they were returning to the kitchen as they finished.
"Any other casualties?" he queried, as he seated himself on an armrest.
"Not so far. There is a total of two dead," she informed him, as she pointed to the bodies covered on the floor in the corner, "and sixteen injuries. Most of them minor. There are couple of broken bones and four head injuries. One man is still unconscious. We have turned the first class into an infirmary."
"Anyone with medical training on board?" he inquired as he worked to take off his dress shirt exposing a sweaty black T-shirt below.
"We have all been trained in first aid and Mrs. Dover in 421 is a healer from her area of Ireland. Johnny G. used to be a Chiropractor. Martin and Denise are assisting them." She watched him struggle with his shirt, that's when she finally noticed the obvious dislocation in his shoulder.
"We had better get you back and have that taken care of Mr. Grayson."
"Unless you found another pilot other than myself or the Lieutenant, it won't be possible. Besides, it looks worse than it is," he lied. "I just may need some help getting it back into socket, then I have to get back to the cockpit ASAP. We have no gauges no radio. I have to find out what happened and try and keep up this crate up for at least three and a half hours...you think maybe Johnny can help me?" Normally, he could pop the shoulder in on his own. Painful? Yes, but it worked and got him through until he got home. This time he was pretty sure something was broken, torn, or ripped and re-aligning it was the most he could hope for, but not with out help.
Connie ordered one of the other attendants to retrieve the chiropractor-turned-Flight-attendant as Dick tried to explain the situation from his end.
"We can't even tell what altitude we are flying at." He continued, "but on the positive side the controls are responding."
"What are we going to do? Just keep flying till the fuel runs out or we just happened to spot a landing field?"
"Hopefully, we can get some assistance from the Military or another jet. In my pocket, I have a hand held computer. If you can you reach it for me, I may have a way to reestablish communications, with Metropolis."
As she struggled to manipulate the awkward contraption from his rather snug dress denim pants pocket, Johnny came into the room. Johnny was a small black man whom had no problem with what he termed his uniqueness. As he put it, "I knew I was special since the campus recruiter told me he was looking for a few good men. And I realized I was too." His humor made it almost impossible for anyone not to accept him as he was.
"Oh my Lord. I have died and gone to heaven," he proclaimed, glancing at the muscle structure under the tee shirt on his new patient. "Wanda said you needed my assistance. Please tell me she didn't find what you were looking for in that pocket and I get to go next." Johnny wasn't sure who blushed brighter Connie or Mr. Muscles but he had to admit he wasn't really looking at his boss. He gave Mr. Grayson the once over then jumped back when he saw the damaged shoulder "Oh my. Baby, that's got to hurt."
"Kinda, yea, you think you can help me out?" Dick asked watching Johnny as he looked over the arm like it was a piece of meat. Before Dick could inquire what he was doing, the man had grabbed his upper arm and yanked on it with more strength than the little guy looked to have. It worked. The shoulder shifted, with a resounding pop, back in to place.
Richard turned sheet white and then collapsed into Connie. He had not completely passed out but the pain took him close enough to the edge for him to look over the side.
"Dear me," Johnny smiled. "You get any whiter and you will glow in the dark. We should take you to first class lay you back and tie you down." When he saw the look of shock on his boss's face and realized what he said, he almost reluctantly reworded it. "OOPS," he said covering his mouth ever so slightly, "I mean tie that down, let you get some rest." he pointed daintily at the re-adjusted arm "There is still some deformity here." He pointed at the clavicle, making Dick flinch, "It also has a lot of swelling around it, my guess is your not liking life right now, am I right?"
Dick just nodded and swallowed hard, still trying to stop the world from spinning.
"Well, let's get you back to first class. I could make it as much fun for you as it could be for me. I have some morphine in the meds cabinet, and can have you flying without the pain in no time."
"No, thanks. I gotta get back to the Cockpit." Dick smiled, trying to sound convincing. That's when he saw it. The look. He knew the look. It was the same look Alfred gave him if he tried to get out of the house without eating breakfast, or Bruce gave him if he tried to go out with Batman on weekdays after midnight. The *I know I didn't just hear you say that* look.
"Ok, first of all," The steward emphasized, placing his hands on his hips, "you are not doing anything before I wrap that arm down. It has to stay immobile if you are going continue to use it in the not so near future. And second, if you won't take the morphine at least take a couple of aspirin." He pulled out a bottle of white tablets and gave them to Connie. "And I will be back with the bandages in a minute. Ok? Ok..." not waiting for an answer he turned and left mumbling something about a God damned stubborn Adonis. The man walked away leaving Dick looking stunned and Connie struggling to contain her laughter.
When Dick finally returned to the cabin. He placed his the computer on his lap tapping in the distress code got him immediate access to Oracle. Babs came over the line through his earpiece in a panic.
"Dick, what happened? I heard some screaming and then you when offline."
"Listen Mary we have a bit of a problem," he interrupted quickly.
"Mary? I take it you're not alone and you have something you need me to do?" Her suspicions were verified as he continued.
"I know you're only a tech, but I need your expertise. I need you to contact Metropolis International Airport. There has been an explosion on United World Air flight 179, killing the pilot and co-pilot and severely injuring the navigator. All instruments are down. Radio is down. We still have controls and are flying blind. There are two experienced pilots on board. See if you can patch us through to them, if not, we are going to need you as a relay.
"Are you ok?, Dick."
"Yea. I'm fine," he whispered. "I'm going to pass you to Lieutenant Ryder. She is piloting this bucket. Give her anything she needs. I have some exploring to do." He passed the earpiece over to lieutenant. "Mary is a computer tech for Grayson Industries. She's the best at what she does. If anyone can get us connected to the outside world, she can.
"I'm going to see what happened and if I can salvage this." He sighed, pointing out the remnants of the navigators board, which was the to the best of his knowledge ground zero.
"Mary? How do you read me?" Tanya asked as she adjusted the earpiece to his ear.
"Loud and clear Lieutenant," Mary returned. "I am just getting through to the airport. Hold on. Be right back."
"Copy," the lieutenant replied.
Dick was carefully taking apart the board that once housed the navigational equipment. Now, it was a mess of wires and melted plastics glass and metals.
"Ok this isn't good," he whispered.
"What's up kid?"
"Looks like the explosion isn't done with its damage yet. It intends to take out the whole cabin."
"There's a hairline crack in the skin of we should have lost this whole wall."
"Guess we were lucky..." she replied dryly as Mary came back online. "Yes? Mary, I read you."
"Go ahead, patch me through. Yep, I will handle it. Thanks, will do. Over and out..." she paused only long enough for the transfer to be made then continued. "Metropolis International? How do you read me? This is Lieutenant Ryder of US Navy. I have emergency situation on board Flight 179 United World Air. Do you copy?"
The man on the line informed them he was Donnie Edwards Air Traffic Controller at MIA. "I need to talk to one of the Crew of Flight 179. I am instructed to only speak to a member of the crew."
"Richie, get the lead attendant in here. They won't talk to anyone 'til they talk to a crew member."
"Damn." He stepped out of the cockpit as Connie was coming in and ran right in to her.
"Ow. Arrggh," he hissed, trying to melt in to the doorframe as the pain shot through him.
"I'm sorry Mr. Grayson," Connie gasped. She gently rested her hands on his chest as if she would catch him if he passed out.
He just bit back the need to throw up again. "We have contact with Metropolis..." he groaned, "...they want to talk to you." She helped him back to the Captain seat as Tanya handed the earpiece over to Connie.
"Yes sir, this in Connie McBride, Head Attendant. No sir, to the best of my knowledge we are not being high-jacked," she said hotly. "... well sir, that may be so, but I think their intent was to totally destroy the plane. There is a big black spot where the navigational panel was and all three of the crewmembers are dead. Yes sir, Tom died just a moment ago. Yes sir, both Mr. Grayson and Lieutenant Ryder seem to know what they are doing."
Richard snagged the earpiece from her. "This is worse then the emergency room at the hospital wanting your insurance information before they will treat you." He was tired and he hurt like hell; he would be damned if he was going to wait so they could play twenty questions while the plane fell apart beneath them. "Look! Unless you got Superman available to help out here, we are all you have," he growled hotly. "Even if we were the high-jackers you think we are, wait till we land what is left of this piece of crap and arrest us then. Right now we need details ... you got it? ... good."
He passed the earpiece to the naval officer who was smiling. "That's telling em, Dick," she grinned.
He smiled back at her, guess he just earned his name back. Leaning his head back in the chair, he closed his eyes trying to think through the throbbing pain in his head that was now as painful as his shoulder.
"Are you ok?" She saw him grimace and swallow as he nodded. Leaving his eyes shut tight. It didn't take a doctor to see how much he hurt still. Tanya knew it wouldn't show, once he got a handle on the shock of the collision. Her father who lived and died military would say: 'This boy had the soul of a warrior.' It was funny how she had spent all these years in the service and now as she was retiring she finally understood what her father meant. Connie tried to talk him in to going to the back but they both knew he wasn't going anywhere.
"Connie please bring some crackers up here and a couple of bottles of water." Connie just nodded, as she looked worriedly at pilot, then left.
Once Tanya was sure Dick was gaining control over the injury, she got back to Metropolis tower. "Ok, Mr. Edwards what do you have for us?"
The well-chastised controller hummed and hawed for a few moments.
"Well Lieutenant, it's not what we have but what we don't have that is the problem. We currently don't have you on radar. You might be too low. We are suggesting you take the craft back up to 30,000 feet so we can get you back."
"No can do. We have a hairline crack in the structure. We can't risk that kind of stress on the plane. Do you copy? ... hello?... hello?"
Dick jumped up wanting to find out what just happened. He felt bit unnerved when the look on his co-pilot's face turned from panic to shock.
His worry was put to ease once again when Tanya returned. "Who? ...Wonder Woman? Please tell me Superman is with you."
A smile crossed Dick's face as he made note to send Babs a room full of roses. He sat back down and closed his eyes again.
"Sorry, Lieutenant. Superman is currently off the planet. The JLA has picked up you craft on satellite. We are showing you at 5000 feet and 300 miles off your original flight path to the South. We are currently sending aircraft to your coordinates to escort you in. They will be attempting to land you at Wayne Industries Aeronautics test facilities. ETA to your coordinates should be approximately an hour and 15 minutes. Maintain Currant heading we will be monitoring you on this tact. Do you copy, 179?"
"Roger that, Wonderwoman. We will maintain this heading as long as possible will be expecting your escort in approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. We will leave this frequency open. Over and out."
Connie was just returning with the requested snack when Tanya went offline.
"Well Dick, I don't know what your tech did, but what ever it was it may have saved our bacon."
"Superman?" He smiled and attempted to sit up straight. A little more color was showing in his face by the time he got a reply. Tanya instructed the stewardess to place the tray next to the pilot's seat.
"No, he's unavailable right now. But the JLA is sending an escort. Things are looking better already. All we can do is wait. While we wait you, EAT." She ordered pointing at the try next to him. "If you can hold the crackers down, in an hour we'll see if they have some broth to try and keep your energy up." He picked up a cracker and nibbled on it as she turned her attention to the crewmember. "Miss McBride, I just got off line with Justice League of America they have sent someone out as an escort to hopefully get us back home safe and sound."
Richard swallowed the cracker and took a drink of water then added, "One thing, I think you should know, but for now we don't need to tell anyone else. There is a hairline fracture in the cabin. I have no clue why it is still together... but it will wreak havoc on the pressurization if it starts peeling away. So keep everyone who isn't working belted in."
"Ok," she confirmed. "How are you feeling?"
He smiled, "Better, thanks."
"That's good. These are for you," she held out a hand with 4 tablets in them ",they are aspirin. Johnny G said and I quote, 'Tell him to take them immediately, because if I have to come up there it will be with an enema.' then he said," she snickered, "he has a feeling he would enjoy that more then you would..."
"What good will an enema do?" Tanya wondered aloud, totally stunned by the conversation.
"It will guarantee I will take the aspirin." He said swallowing all four at once. And showed an empty hand to Connie and swallowed the rest of his water.
Both women laughed.
"What about the rest of the injured?" Tanya questioned.
"Well as you heard Tom died, a while ago. The head injuries seem to be the biggest problem. There was a little boy who broke his arm when he was slammed against the bulkhead. He seems to taking it pretty good. but his mother on other hand is screaming lawsuit. Everyone is in a panic. Mr. Conrad came to and gave his interpretation of what he saw and has been bellowing doom and gloom ever since. He's also madder than a wet hen because we turned first class into an infirmary. He has everyone on board on edge. And poor Mrs. Dover has been so busy working on the other injured when her own granddaughter is in some kind of catatonic state... I guess from the shock of what is going on."
Connie didn't get her explanation completed before Dick was out of his seat in a full sprint to the first class section. He found Robin laying down on one of the reclined chairs her eyes open but distant. She seemed to be unaware of anything that was going on.
"Robin," he whispered gently lifting her tiny hand in his. "Hey little robin. It's time to wake up." His mother's words seemed to bubble out of him so quickly he didn't even notice the tear that strayed down his cheek. "I am so sorry. I thought when I caught you, you would be ok."
"Don't you be fretting your head, child." He didn't know how long the girl's grandmother had been standing over his shoulder.
"Mrs. Dover." He turned to face the older woman who knelt down beside him.
"Do not fret," she whispered over his ear so that only he could hear her. "She will wake up as soon as we are safe."
"What happen? What is wrong with her?"
"I don't know for certain, son." She said sitting in the chair in front of her granddaughter's. "When she was a newborn. Her father had noticed that she would oft be found lying between he and his wife. At first, he thought his wife would just place her there after and early feeding and not place her back in the crib afterwards. Then one nigh' he found her floating above him, curled up in what he described as a bubble. He awoke Chrissy, and they watched in shock as the bubble landed in between them and the bubble vanished. There been a wives' tale in our family about the gifts that are passed to the woman of our clan. He had never believed them because I did na think it was necessary to tell him of my gifts, until that day. He sent his wife and daughter to live with me so that we could train her to use and keep hidden her gifts. It was not easy; she is quite the father's daughter, stubborn as a mule. She is a seer as well. But her first gift is the strongest. She moves things by wrapping them with in a bubble and putting them where she will. But anything she has taken cannot be touched by others. I tried to take something from her, and it was pushed out of my reach bouncing off the wall. Until she regained control of it and sat it down beside me.
"Your namesake is a special child young Robin." Dick froze unsure he heard what he thought he had. He stood slowly and faced her but before he could say anything, a smile crossed the old woman's eyes and without moving her lips he heard her say, "Yes young man I know. The reason she has been told so many stories of you and the other titans is that he believed when she is older you will take her and train her further to use her gifts for good like you and your friends. We believe that she was the reason, you saved him that day, and it is possibly the reason you two were brought together now. Don't worry your secret is safe with me just as I know ours is with you." Before he could say or ask anything, Conrad came bursting around the curtain.
"I suppose this is your idea too. Grayson."
"I have no clue what your talking about, Conrad," he growled. "And lower your voice."
"I will do as I damn...." Conrad began to bark, but his words were quickly quailed by Dick's good hand gripped firmly around his throat. Not making much of a note of the small group of people around him.
"I will say this once and only once Conrad. God willing there are two more hours of this flight left. If you wish to hang out in the first class section of the plane you will be quiet and helpful. If you are unable to handle that task I will suggest you go back to the...I believe the term you used was 'lower classes' sit down and be quiet. The only reason you will have to come forward after this will be for medical attention, to which I am sure Johnny G. will be more than happy to attend to. If that is not to your satisfaction," he growled deeper releasing his grip on the man's throat. "I will lock you in a storage locker until this flight lands. Have I made myself clear? I hear just once that you are attempting to stir up anymore trouble I will tend to you myself."
James, still panting started to object, "Who...do..." Dick just brought his hand up to his lips and made the man jump back. "Johnny G. please take Mr. Conrad to the nicest seat in third class and let me know if he mouths off again."
"Oh I will," Johnny smiled, "but I have to tell you if I knew stirring up trouble would get you to tend to me, yourself... Oh hunny pleeease. Come on, mighty mouth, let's see if we can find a nice place for you."
"Don't touch me.... you..."
"utt utt utt... you better watch your mouth Mr. Conrad I have enema and I am not afraid to use it."
"Why I never."
"Oh dear, that could be your problem," Johnny informed him.
"You can't talk to me like that," he roared as he unwillingly sat in the third class seat the steward appointed to him. "I'll have your job!"
"You couldn't handle my job." The man returned his eyes a fire. "Let me tell you something Mr. Perfect. You love to hear yourself talk, call people names, and talk about them as though they are beneath you. You have been spouting crap for the last hour or so about how we are all going to die. But let me set you straight. So far except for the excess use of your mouth, I have not seen you move any other part of your anatomy to assist in this emergency. So tell me, Mr. Executive, Mr. Big Money, tell me. If you are right and this is the end of the world for us all. You're going to have to stand before the big man himself…" he emphasized as he pointed at the ceiling. "Tell me, what will you have to say then?"
Knowing there was no answer forth coming Johnny just walked away.
After Conrad was taken care of Dick looked up at the circle of people his confrontation had attracted. Many of them, he knew, were more frightened then angry, but the small mob had decided to choose sides at the wrong time.
"Same goes for anyone else who wants to stir up trouble, if you got something to say or threaten, hold your peace until we get back on dry land. As for the rest of you. Lieutenant Ryder and myself are experienced pilots. It is true that the on board communications have been destroyed but we did manage to use a computer to contact Metropolis International Airport who contacted the Justice League of America. They are sending out someone to escort us home. Barring anymore incidences you should all be home by the after morning." Suddenly, he was barraged with a hundred different questions at once.
But what if there are more problems? You're hurt how can you fly this big plane? Who put you in charge? And others that were not so important.
"Just like on a ship. The Captain and the first officer are in charge now. If you have someone else in mind for piloting this craft send him up front. If not, that puts me and the Lieutenant in charge. As for flying: if I have too. My injury is minor," he lied again. "I dislocated my shoulder and the bandage can be removed but for the most part I can fly her with one hand. And if there are more problems, well, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. Ok? Now if you can, make yourselves useful but if you have nothing to do remain seated and belted in, most of all—"
"I would like to help," came a familiar voice behind him. He turned to find James Conrad standing behind them. "I'm sorry if I have been acting poorly and there is no excuse but I would like another chance."
Dick looked over at Johnny who just smiled turning back to the crowd. "If we stay calm and work together we can get home safe. I have to go back to the cockpit." Johnny followed him up to the kitchen, where Dick turned laughing "I'm afraid to ask, but what did you do to him back there?"
Johnny just cocked his head and smiled back. "It's like I've been trying to tell you sometimes all it takes is a good fairy," with a wink the black man turned and walked away.
The last hour seemed like an eternity to Dick. He was beginning to think that his injury was more than a dislocation, it hurt so much. Of course, you dislocate something enough times, it is going to create more problems but now was not the time for more problems. He changed positions with Tanya so he was sitting next to the destroyed panel. He told her it was so he could explore the damage more, and still be close to the chair if he was needed. But the truth was when this cabin decided to disintegrate it was going to take everything and body on this side of the cabin with them. Anything that wasn't tied down would be fair game.
Tanya took a walk to the rear to stretch her legs. And for the most part everything was going smoothly. He wished he could get rid of the feeling that this was just the calm before the storm. He definitely hung out with the Bat too long. He was looking for trouble where there wasn't any, or in this case looking for more trouble where there was plenty. Just when he was beginning to think the rescue would never show. The rear section filled with cheers and hollers of excitement. A shadow of a smile crossed his face as he recognized the large jet that came up over his shoulder.
"Titans together," he whispered to himself as Troia came over the radio.
"It seems we can't let you out of our sight for a moment," she teased him. A second voice came over the comm., one a little less welcoming.
"Flight one-seven-niner do you copy? This is Batman. I am coming up on your nine o'clock and as you have already surmised the Titans T jet is currently at your three. Do you copy?"
"I copy Batman," Dick quickly replied in a no nonsense tone of voice.
"We will be setting you on an intercepting course for Wayne Aeronautics. We have been advised of the situation so we should have no problem keeping you flying at this altitude. I have been advised by one of the titans that there is visible damage to the outer shell of the jet. There is going to be a slight change of plans…"
"One-seven-niner to Batman," Dick interrupted, "Be advised that any further instructions should be left until the pilot has returned." It had gotten so quiet, that at first, Dick thought he might have lost communications with the Batwing. Then he recognized the awkward sensation that came up when the communication damper field was turned on.
"I guess you wanted to make this a private conversation?" he smiled looking over his shoulder at damaged frame of the door to the cabin.
"Make it quick."
"What's wrong, that you're not the pilot, Dick? It's obvious you told them you have piloting experience."
"I dislocated my shoulder, but Tanya is capable, that's not important tell me what you know about these terrorists."
"They're part of an British version of an Arab Sect that seem to like to hit big industry in their heraldry. It seems you have a captain of industry by the name of Conrad who has a lot of holdings in the OPEC nations."
"James?" he screeched. "They attempted to kill over 100 people because of James Conrad."
"It seems he did a lot of bragging in front of the wrong people before he left for England. Black Canary happened to be in the neighborhood and when we told her what happened she managed to track down one of the terrorist through her overseas connections she persuaded him to explain their intentions. Unfortunately, his friends found out about it and blew up the police substation at the airport in London to shut him up. Luckily, he was the only casualty in that explosion."
Dick just closed his eyes and shook his head.
"There is another fact that has us worried. This group is, to say the least, thorough. I find it hard to believe that they were depending on the force of one small charge to create the kind of display of power they like to be known for. They have been the involved in the downing of a German and Russian Passenger liner, as well as an attack on three embassies and even one attempt on the Pope."
Tanya burst through the doorway like a woman possessed. Her hair hung down around her shoulders making her look like a totally different person, as she climbed back into the pilot's seat.
"Hey Dick. Wanna catch me up?"
She settled into her chair awaiting more information when he handed over the earpiece and opened the computer's speakers so they could both hear what had to be said. Then he gave her a quick run down of the what he had been told as he struggled to unravel himself from the bandages that tied his arm to his side.
"Batman? This is Lieutenant Ryder US Navy, Acting Captain for flight 179. I have just been debriefed by my second. Mr. Grayson tells me you think there may be another bomb on board is that correct?"
"That's correct Lieutenant."
"Is there any idea where it may be found?"
"My best guess is that there is another one in or around the cockpit or in the luggage compartment. There is a good chance one of the dead crewmembers had been a member of the organization. So it would be someplace he or his luggage could get with little or no trouble." Dick and Tanya quickly glanced at each other.
Dick left the cockpit cornering a Connie and Johnny at the kitchen area. "I know you have some good reason for taking that bandage off your arm." Johnny G. huffed in a 'start explaining yourself' kind of voice.
"There may be another bomb on board," Dick explained
"It's not good but it is a reason." Johnny returned to his seat. "Adonis has the floor."
"This can't go any further than us we got to see if we can locate it and disarm it, before any one finds out about it or we'll have a full fledged riot on our hands."
"Oh honey," Johnny pointed out, " you have one going on right now. You just not looking close enough."
"Johnny, I just need your help to find it." He pleaded. "I'll take care of the rest. Batman thinks he can talk me through it. Ok?"
"No, it's not ok! You're talking the ultimate big bang," he replied just Connie put her hand over his mouth and sat him down.
"Ok, ok it isn't a good thing but I still need your help. We have to search all the places that a crewmember my have access," he explained.
"They think it is one of us?" Johnny whined.
"They think it might have been one of the cockpit crew, or mechanic, someone who could have rummaged around the navigation panel and not been noticed. Fortunately, the one in the panel didn't have enough explosive power to do the damage that was intended. Unfortunately, they usually have a back up device. Luckily, it must not have detonated when it should have or we all would be dead."
"Mr. Grayson, there are some areas mechanics can get to we can't check out," Martin pointed out
"The only other option left to us is to ditch the plane in the water, pray we don't jar the explosive into detonating and, evac everyone."
"Baby, you best know now, this mother's child don't swim."
"Then let's go find the you know what." Connie smiled. It was a fake smile on a worried lady but since she was the only surviving senior officer the safety of the passengers came first.
"Ok but I go with Adonis here … if anything should go wrong I'll hide behind these big pecks of his."
Johnny followed Dick to the rear compartment that held some of the carry on and supplies on board, while Connie and Martin searched the kitchen and crew lockers.
The pain in his arm slowed the young co-pilot into a careful and articulate in the exploration of the luggage area. Johnny, on the other hand, was finished with his area and contents. Since he didn't find anything in the lockers he had checked out, ((he figured)) his luck would hold out in the supply closet. He was wrong.
A small squeak fallowed by the slam of the door got Dick's attention. Johnny's eyes were as big as saucers. "Ghost," he squeaked again "… you didn't say nothing about no ghost."
Dick placed his fingers over Johnny's lip, as he gently turned the doorknob to the storeroom not really knowing what to expect. By the time he opened the door, Johnny was in the corner with his eyes closed repeating some prayer he had been taught in his youth.
Dick too, was startled by what he saw in the back of the closet floating silently above the deck was a spectral image of little robin. She stared blankly at the ball that seemed to pulse within a bubble in her tiny hands.
"Robin?" The little girl's image seemed to paid no mind to him as he reached for the glowing object
"Do not touch Mr. Grayson," the child suddenly possessed the voice of an elder. "The bomb has detonated within the sphere. Should the sphere rupture all would perish."
"Who are you? What have you done with Robin?" he barked noting Johnny's trembling hands as he peered from behind him.
"We are Robin," she returned in a calming whisper. "Like many who dwell this world. We have lived many lives, seen many things. Ours is a soul who has been called goddess and witch, who has lived in the luxury of wealth and the squalors of destitution. Ours is a soul that has known the glories of peace and the horrors of war, and with each passing lifetime my powers grow stronger. I entrust you, Mr. Grayson, and you too, Mr. Garland, with this knowledge, as well as with the safety of my mortal body."
"She knows who I am?"
Yes, Mr. Garland we have known you many lifetimes, and hoped to be blessed with many more. Know this: the child is not strong enough to hold this much longer. She will awaken soon or she will die. As will all who are with her. There is maybe ten minutes of strength left in her. You know what you must do young Grayson, like me your soul has carried many names, seen many sights, lived many trials. This is no different you were destined to be what you are and will always be.
Dick acknowledged the soul before him with a slight nod and backed away. Taking Johnny out of the room with him and closing off the room as he exited.
"What do you think she meant by that?" Johnny whispered
"I don't know, but I do know what we have seen must be kept secret if the wrong person ever saw that."
"Honey, I am black and gay. You don't need to tell me about the persecution a person of difference can be put through. Her secrets are safe with me. Not that anyone would believe me, still finding it hard to believe it myself. The question is what do we do now?"
"We ditch the plane," he answered.
"Sorry I asked,"
"I will explain to the passengers that there is a fuel leak and we have to land the plane. Lock that room and block with whatever you can find so no one can enter. Then, meet me in the kitchen area."
With Johnny attending to his orders, Dick quickly left to tell Connie and Tanya. Dick caught up with Martin and Connie waiting in the kitchen. "Did you find anything?" he whispered already sure he knew the answer.
"No, my guess you didn't either which means this thing is in the belly somewhere and could still detonate at any time," Connie pointed out.
"So what now?" Martin inquired.
"We have to put Batman's plan in the works now. Ditch the plane and get these people off it."
"Are you crazy?" Martin objected.
"The Titans jet is amphibious. It can land in the water, and it is big enough to carry all of us," Dick explained.
"How do you know?" Martin balked. "How do you know landing it won't detonate the damn thing?"
"I don't, but I will tell you what I do know. We are flying in a jet that has no way for us to tell how much fuel we have. No navigational equipment. No way of knowing how high we are flying, what direction we are going, nor if we have any landing gear, should we find land. We also know that the people who have taken responsibility for placing the bomb on this plane has never missed before. There has always been two devices found in the wreckage and I know right now, we have a chance to survive. Martin, we have pushed our luck as far as we should. Like or not we are taking her down."
"Who the hell does he think he is? " Martin confronted Connie.
"He's the pilot, as well as a passenger. He and the lieutenant have put their life on the line the moment they took over the controls, and because of it we are still alive. I think that should earn him enough respect to let him land this broken bird wherever he thinks it is best," she spouted. "I think he is right we have pushed our luck further than we could have hoped for and if you don't like don't bother to get off when we do land."
Richard walked into the center of the craft. The curtains were no longer separating the sections of the plain. He picked up the mike to the internal intercom systems. Quickly tested it and said:
"Ladies and Gentlemen. I need your attention please," after only giving them a moment to settle down he continued. "We have run into a problem because of the damage done to the jet, we have had no way to evaluate the fuel situation. According to the Titan's pilot we have situation that is requiring us to ditch the plane." The momentary chaos was expected by vigilante incognito. "Listen to me, we don't have much time. The Titans jet is going to land in the water. It will serve as a lifeboat for us but we are going to have to act fast and in an orderly fashion. We will only blow the hatches on the port side that will give us two exits. The ship is equipped with four life rafts as well as your life vests. I need four volunteers to help Connie, Martin, and Johnny with the rafts. They will need to hold the craft to the plane while the injured are loaded on them. There will be one or two people assigned to assist with the injured, depending on the severity of the injuries. The women and children will quickly load on to the second and third rafts and the remaining men and crewmembers will disembark last." The mumbling of the crowd was almost deafening but he didn't have time to play games. "LISTEN TO ME." His voice carried loudly over the speakers, "We have been playing against the odds for the last two hours. I know you are frightened, we all are. But this has to be done and it is going to be done now! We may not have a third chance. Please fasten your seatbelts and listen to your assigned crewmembers. We have made it this far by working together. Together we can beat the odds again. Thank you."
He handed the mike to Connie who began picking volunteers to hold the rafts and assigning seats to the passengers to make exiting from the plane more orderly. Luckily, the jet was not full when it left England. Otherwise, they would have never been able to get everyone into a life raft. Her mind was filled with all the "what ifs?" that was probably that dwelled in the minds of everyone else, but they would have to face that problem when they got to it. Martin followed Dick back to the front of the plane.
The injured co-pilot turned just before getting to the doorway. "I need you to help me close off the cockpit. There is a good chance it will begin to flood a soon as we hit water. When I go inside, you hold the door to the frame and I will prop it closed from the inside. I want you to find something to keep the water from coming past the door."
"What about you and the lieutenant? You'll be trapped."
"We'll be ok. We'll exit out the emergency hatch and take to the water. But whatever you do, do not try something stupid. Your responsibility ends at this door. You get those people off this thing as quickly as humanly possible."
"Yes sir," Martin agreed as he extended his hand to the man he believed now was about to sacrifice everything for people he had never known existed until now. " …and bout before … I'm sorry. "
"You get these people off this plane and all will be forgiven. Now help me get this door into place." Once the door was up and Dick had it blocked with rubble from the navigator board, he returned to his seat
"You ready kid?" The lieutenant smiled "Still don't like the thought of novice stuck in here, but I think you know the score as much as it do. I guess that's the risk you take when you fly."
"Damaged aircraft. No instruments, no radio, no land which is ok because we have no way to know if we have working landing gear, that I can work with, but don't you think a bomb on board is just tacky?" he smiled.
Tanya laughed there was more to this kid than met the eye, and there was a lot to look at. He was special that was for sure. "What are you, Richard Grayson? You say you have never been in the military but you have passed a test in the last two hours that would have sent experienced marines running through the woods with need of a uniform change."
"All I am is a circus kid. I was swinging on a trapeze before I could walk I walked a tightrope in my sleep and I did a quad from the trapeze when I was five. We took the tents down one morning and before sunset we were setting tents up in a different town state sometimes a different country. Not much different then the military."
"I guess you're right. Sounds a lot like the military to me," she returned. "Ok kid, let's land this bird."
"Flight 179 to Batman. We are ready to take her down, and in case we don't get a chance to tell you guys, thanks for everything."
"You can thank us when we get you out of the water," he replied, as he dropped behind them. The titan's jet followed behind him just above the water.
"Counting down altitude to landing.
Tanya began cutting back on the airspeed as they descended, but there was no way to tell if it was working or not. Both of them struggled with the controls as they tried to keep the craft level. They would have to land flat on the belly of the plane or risk flipping her all together. Seconds passed the engines totally shut down they were approaching 500 ft. and there was no way to turn back now.
Dick's arm was completely numb from the pain. He felt something else snap just before the engines shut down a momentary cry of pain slipped out as he struggled to maintain his grip on the controls.
The jet skimmed the water like a flat stone across a lake. The second impact caused a wash of water to flood over the wreckage, totally destroying what was left of the cockpit and knocking the two pilots across the small room. Hundreds of pounds of wreckage and water came down on him. As darkness began to envelope him, he felt the plane settle. The hollow sounds of wind and water rushed in on him. Screams were muffled by the great pounding in his head. He heard the doors as they were released. A wash of relief that there would be survivors filled him. But he could not see anything from the floor were he was pinned. He thought he heard Tanya calling him, but he couldn't move. He couldn't respond. The water was too quickly filling the cabin and covering his face. Just as the world went totally black he felt something shoved between his teeth, and a breath of air being pushed into his lungs. The last thought that pushed through his mind as he lost consciousness was "Batman."
When the passengers and crew realized they had landed, they began emergency procedures. The two side doors blew almost simultaneously and the first of the rafts began being loaded. The water was being lit by a search light from the batwing. The Titans jet had landed outside the wingspan of the wreckage and one of them jumped into the water while another shot a tow-rope across the bow of the raft. As soon as it was loaded, Arsenal and Robin began pulling it across to them. Tempest had called for back up. Three blue dolphins popped their heads from out of the waves. He tied a rope to first raft and gave the other end to the critters.
The second sets of rafts began to fill when the jet began to shift and break apart. The remaining passengers were tossed around like rag dolls, some in the water some back into the water filling wreckage. Luckily, Tempest was prepared with back up actually, "humped" back up. Four hump-backed whales pushed the wreckage of the back half of the plane up to the surface. Robin was in the water assisting with those who where tossed in. Troia had to abandon her post in the pilot's seat to make sure everyone got safely out of the wreckage. Luckily, only one of those tossed back into the fuselage was hurt bad enough to require assistance. She carried him over to the T-jet as the last of the survivor was being pulled in. The whale released the wreckage and just as it vanished from site. There was a loud muffled rumble and explosion of water plumed up in to the air, then settled roughly back to the water.
Johnny, Connie, and Martin looked at each other then back at the other survivors. Almost as if they were thinking out loud, the passengers began inquiring about the pilots. "Has anyone seen the lieutenant or Mr. Grayson?"
Roy looked over at Donna then back to Robin and Tempest who were all set to return to the water to look for them, when Batman's voice came over the T-jet's internal communications link. "Batman to Titans, I have the two pilots if you are clear, let's return these people home."
Cheers went through the jet that would have drowned out the explosion and Donna quickly made her way up to the cockpit. "Troia to Batman, I have a group of very wet and but happy passengers who like your idea. Lead on."
Roy looked around the chaos that was mulling around his jet. People were still walking up and shaking his hand. Women were hugging him and crying on his shoulder. Garth was seated next to an injured little boy and his mother who both had him in a bear hug. And Robin, was on the floor with a little red headed girl who, seemed to be talking his ear off all he could do was nod or shake his head before she would hit him with a barrage of unanswerable questions, and he smiled. After all this was the reason they were in this biz. Tomorrow they might not even remember who they are but now in this one moment of time they made a difference.
A year later, on board a Wayne Tech Yacht, the crewmembers and their family and some of the Survivors of Flight 179 returned to the place where they ditched the craft. They had found the maintenance crewman who was responsible for the bombing but he did not live to see his trial. The bodies of the dead crewmen were never recovered. It was believed that they had evaporated in the explosion, along with most of the plane and one of the little black boxes. One box was found but it was so heavily damaged that it was no use to the investigation at all.
As for the survivors, some of them went on to tell their stories. Some even sold them to television. Some sued the Airlines and others attempted lawsuits on Conrad and Wayne Tech. As well as suits against the Titans and JLA, as well as two suites that named Dick Grayson and Tanya Ryder Lt. USN, Retired, as co-Defendants. None of which were ever brought to court. The airlines had settled out of court and well the others were basically laughed out. So now they chose to make closure. Last year there was a memorial soon after the rescue but Dick had not been able to attend due to injuries. This year, they decided to go out one last time with no press to interfere with their grief.
Bruce and Tanya stood at the railing by the bridge. They spent days together fending off the press as Dick and her, as well other members of the surviving crew, awaited the final verdict of the FAA. Not to mention the common vulture curiosity that came with any tragedy. She liked the man, who was not at all what she had expected. He was like a rooster protecting his flock, sometimes coming short of a fight when others proved most persistent. He saw to the comforts of the families of the survivors and during the chaos the ensued afterwards.
Dick's injury, kept him in the hospital for a couple of days. Then, to what Bruce called shielding of his son from the stupidity of the world, he was taken out of the hospital in the dark of night, so he could be better taken care of without the eyes of the world hovering over him. They even treated her like family and let her stay at the house for a couple of days until she could get a clean bill of health to return to get her retirement papers She knew she had seen a totally different man than the world knew and somehow felt honored that she was included in that world even if it was just a moment. They watched the two other passengers as they sat alone on the deck of the ship.
Barbara sat on the fantail watching Dick stare blankly over the water as they got closer and closer to the spot of the crash. She had been introduced at the hospital as Barbara, "friend of Dick's" but it did not take a genius to see that they were more than friends. His suit jacket sat over her shoulders. He sat with his knees tucked up and his arms wrapped tightly around them and his head rested on the bars of the railing.
"Dick are you all right?" she whispered, almost afraid to break the silence.
"I'm alive. I guess that is a good thing," he replied solemnly.
"It means the world to me Boy Wonder," she smiled.
You know when the first explosion happened and everything was happening so fast the only thing I could think of was you." He laughed. It was almost as if she wasn't there. "O2 masks dropping out of the overhead like decorations across a room at a New Year's Eve party and all I could think was that I lost any chance to tell you how I felt."
"Dick, you have told me many times and in many ways," she interrupted. "I wish I could be as open and sure about what I am feeling as you have been with me. But I am not ready."
"I know," he returned solemnly. "And I am willing to wait, but if this whole insane thing taught me anything. Time is not ours to give." He gave her a smile then stood up and walked away leaving her to think about it.
The service was held off the bow of the ship. The pastor from one of the crewman's churches was presiding over it. The family set a raft of flowers adrift at the end and they all went below for the memorial.
Johnny G. sat next to the guy he introduced as his soul mate. After introducing Dick as Adonis the man became very protective of him every time he walked by. Connie was now working on getting her pilot's license and still a part time flight attendant with the airlines. Miller was too, in fact he was not able to make the trip because of a delay in Austria. Most of the other crewmen no longer flew even for personal travel, Robin was running around playing with some of the other kids from the families… like any 6 year old. She told them about getting to meet Robin and the other Titans and going to the circus with her family she even talked about her new school in the United States. Well, parts of it anyway, she didn't tell them it was a school for the paranormally gifted. She sounded just like every first grader she talked and talked and talked. Her Grandmother too lived at the school now. She worked as the school nurse. But today she was just another survivor. Sharing memories, she walked up to Bruce Wayne as he stepped out to the deck.
"Hello Mr. Wayne." She smiled "I wanted to take this moment to thank you for all you have done for Robin and myself."
He smiled back at her and stopped the railing. "I am glad I could make an attempt repay your family for what they did for me and mine. Dick has done nothing but praise you and your daughter since they returned. Has Robin begun to remember anything yet?"
"No. Not yet. I don't think it is so much that she has forgotten anything; it is more like she has not had need of the memory. I have thought long and hard on what your young son had told me happen in the storage room. It is still a bit hard for me to comprehend but then it is not for me to understand."
"I guess it wasn't something I am suppose to understand either," he admitted, "and has gotten harder since the day he flew into my life."
" 'Tis the hardest part of parenting. We wait, wonder, and worry that they will grow happy and healthy in the light of good. We pray that when they go out in the world alone they will make a positive effect on it. Look around you Mister Wayne. Because of your child the Titans were formed, because of the Titans, Robin was born. Because of our children, all these people are still alive. No our job is not an easy one. Tomorrow they might not even remember who we are but now in this one moment of time we made a difference."