Note: This story would have to happen between Aftershock and Deception. The Characters aren't mine, they belong to D.C. comics. So if you're wondering why it's set in San Francisco, or who the heck Mr. Haly ask your local comic merchant.


"You are all Bourgeoisie Swine!" the insane woman with the spiky hair yelled. She was wearing an artist smock and what looked like a pressurized canister of something strapped to her back with a hose that lead to a nasty looking gun, which she pointed at the hostage art critics indiscriminately. "I spit on you and your abysmal taste!" She shot a glob of purple goo out of her gun, hitting a blown up photograph of a daffodil.

"Now, see here Alica!" A thin man dressed all in black said, taking a nervous step forward. "Just because you piece was not selected for display doesn't mean . . ."

"If you are not going to recognize true art when you see it, you don't deserve to see anything at all!" The mad woman said, firing her gun at him and covering his face. The man staggered backwards, screaming. He tried to pull the goop off of his face, but it wouldn't budge. The crowd of people still trapped in the gallery watched, horrified. "And just for the Record," The woman yelled, "The name is Known Alica!"

"Known Alica?" a voice asked from behind her. The arch villainess swung around and saw the five people she wanted to see the least, the Teen Titans, standing heroically in the door way, looking at her like she was already defeated. "What kind of name is that?" Beast Boy continued.

"Like Mona Lisa," Raven explained.

"That's got to be the lamest name ever," Cyborg groaned.

"Put the paint can down Alica," Robin yelled, "before we have to put you down."

"You may not know art," Alica replied. "But I know what you don't like!" She pulled up her paint-gun and shot a purple blob right in Robin's face. He stumbled backwards. His teammates didn't need to hear his attack orders; they sprung forward viciously. Beast Boy turned into a ram and charged, but was subdued by purple goop long before he reached Known Alica. The force of the goop sent him crashing into a sculpture, which fell on him in a sticky mess. No matter what animal he tried to be, snake, mouse, bird, Tyrannosaurus Rex, he couldn't get free of the goop.

"Azarath Metrion . . ." Raven started to say, but on shot of purple goop shut her up.

"Please desist!" Starfire said, as she started flying towards Alica from one direction while Cyborg ran at her from another. "We do not wish to harm you!"

"Just to incarcerate me, is that it?" Alica asked, firing her gun at Starfire, who managed to burn away the goop with her starbeams. Cyborg tackled Alica from behind, only to trigger a booby trap, built into her paint can. Purple goop sprayed right into his face, covering his eyes. As he stumbled back with surprise, Alica turned and fired on him twice more, covering him with goop.

"Ugh!" Cyborg screamed. "I can't see, and my sensors are jammed!"

"Fear not!" Starfire yelled. "I will . . ." but she never got a chance to say what she would do, because at that moment, Alica covered her face with purple goop and continued to fire at her until the young alien was pined to the wall in a purple mess.

"Now," Alica said with a sigh. "Where was I?"

The terrified crowd looked on in horror. No one said a thing.

"That's right!" Alica said. "You were all going to pay me for the honor of watching me create my new masterpiece Fallen Titans."

Still, no one in the crowd moved.

"Come on, don't be shy," Alice said chipperly. "I know people can be intimidated in front of such talent, but great art cannot happen without the support of patrons like you."

"Which is exactly why they should save their money for great artists," the strong and defiant voice of Robin said. "And not give it to talent-less hacks like you."

"Talent-less!" Alice screamed, turning quickly to find Robin. But he wasn't where she'd left him. She spun around the room, looking desperately for the remaining titan. "Where is he?!" She screamed. "Where is that ignorant, tasteless, freak?"

"I'm right here," Robin said as he dropped down from the ceiling and landed on her shoulders, sending her crashing to the ground. Her suit squirted out more purple goop to counter his attack, but he spun out of the way in time. She rolled over to shoot at him, but he dogged, flipping six feet in the air over her head and landing behind her before the evil artist could react. With a movement so quick no one saw it, Robin threw a red bird at the tank she had strapped to her back. A high-pitched hiss filled the room.

"Take cover everyone!" he yelled as he jumped back up onto the rafters overhead. A second latter there was an earsplitting boom as the canister exploded and purple goop flew everywhere. The patrons of the arts were covered in purple slop, there was screaming and crying. Beast Boy groaned loudly, "Not again!" and Cyborg said "Awww, I'm never gonna get this stuff off!"

Robin ignored all the innocents' protests. His mind was on one thing: Known Alica. He fell from the rafters where he'd taken cover. He was the cleanest figure in the room. Only his face was covered in purple goop, and even then, not all of it. He'd taken his mask off, so he could see, and his bright blue eyes were blazing.

"Now, I could probably come up with a chemical to break this stuff up," Robin said, approaching Known Alisa threateningly. "But that could take some time, and I don't think you want to be stuck here that long."

"Lemon Juice!" Known Alica wailed.

"You're kidding," Robin said.

"No, no," Known Alica said. "I made it so that the acidic properties of Lemon juice would break down the compound."

"Why lemon juice?"

"I had one of those bottles," the woman explained. "And I wasn't going to use it otherwise . . ."

Robin stared at her, bewildered. After a minute, he said. "I've seen a lot of wackos, but in a crazy contest, you take fist place."

"Ah!" Starfire said as the hazmat unit sprayed her with lemon juice. "It is so wonderful to be free of the oppressive purple ooze! Thank you!"

The officers muttered your welcome as she floated down from her place on the wall. It was wonderful to be free. It had taken Robin and the authorities in San Francisco quite a while to procure such a large amount of lemon juice. But her friend was nothing if not resourceful, resourceful and determined. As she floated down from the ceiling, forcing herself not to fly as quickly as she could around the room singing the Glardack song of irrepressible joy, she noticed that the men who'd helped her were moving on to Raven, and that Beast Boy and Cyborg were still trapped. On the other side of the room another Hazmat team was freeing the civilians. It was a long and sticky process, but, not nearly as sticky as the goop it was removing.

Starfire thought for a moment about trying to help, but before she could, a familiar voice called her. "Star, come here."

The young alien looked around, bewildered. She could not figure out where the voice was coming from. "Robin?"

"Look up," Robin whispered harshly.

Star obeyed and found herself looking up into the depths of shadowy rafters. Robin's silhouette was near the top. Curious, but without fear, Starfier hovered up to him.

"What are we doing hiding in the ceiling?" the girl whispered. "Should we not help?"

"They've got it under control," Robin said. "But you can help me."

"What do you require?"

"My mask."

Starfire looked at him and gasped. He looked different. That part of him which she had always assumed were his eyes, milky white with a sharp black outline, was gone. In its stead were normal human eyes. Well, not quite normal. They were a brilliant blue, like the sky on a perfectly sunny day, but with a sharpness to them that was all intelligence and cunning. His eyes didn't frighten her, she knew she didn't need to fear him, but they were powerful eyes, they eyes of someone she did not want to fight.

"You wear a mask?" She said slowly, still reeling from the deep color of his remarkable eyes.

"Yeah," Robin said quickly. "And I don't want to go down there without it."

"But, why not?" Star asked. "You're eyes are quite nice to look at."

"Ah," Robin said, "Thanks, but . . ."

"They are the color of a perfect summer's day, with a bright sun and a strong wind, and . . ."

"Starfire," Robin said forcefully. "I'm glad you like my eyes, but I need my mask."


"It protects me," he answered. "Star, please."

She'd never seen him like this, hiding, almost frightened. She started to feel frightened herself.

"I had to take it off so I could see to fight Alicia," Robin continued, not noticing, or perhaps, choosing to ignore, how unsettled she was. "It should be down their somewhere. If you could find it, and see that it gets cleaned off . . ."

"I shall do as you ask, because I am you're friend," Starfire said. "But I want you to know, I like seeing your eyes."

Robin smiled at her in that way that only he could, in that way that made its way into his voice and, she saw now, into his eyes. That way that made her feel like flying. "Thanks Star."

She glided down to find the mask, and discovered that Raven had been freed from her prohibitive purple goop, and was once again able to speak.

"I am glad to see you are free," Starfire said as she floated down from the rafters.

"Me too," Raven grumbled.

"Perhaps you may assist me in my task."

"What task is that?"

"Robin has lost his mask," Starfire explained. "He wishes for us to find it and return it to him so that he may cover his beautiful blue eyes."

"I saw him take it off over here," Raven said, walking towards the door through which the Titans had entered.

"You do not seem surprised to learn that he wears a mask," Starfire noted as she followed her friend.

"Star, he wears it all the time."

"You did not think those were his eyes?"


Raven knelt down on the floor and muttered, "Azerath Metrion Zynthos." A thin black field of magic surrounded her hands, fitting them as snuggly as gloves. She started feeling through the purple goop for Robin's mask.

"Raven," Starfire said after a moment.

"Yes," Raven answered, sounding annoyed.

"Robin said his mask protected him."

Raven didn't respond. After a moment, Starfire continued. "Do you think that is true?"

"Why wouldn't it be?"

"How can a mask protect someone? It is a device used to hide, conceal and deceive."

"Sometimes, you have to hide and conceal things to protect them," Raven said, pulling the mask out of a purple blob. "We'll need to get this washed before we give it to him," she said calmly, standing up and heading towards the HAZMAT team, which was hosing Cyborg down with lemon juice.

"But the deception?" Starfire continued. "How can a lie protect something?"

Raven paused and turned to look the naive alien in the eyes. "Not all deceptions are lies, and some things are worth lying to protect."

Starfire's burnt orange skin turned peachish, and her emerald green eyes grew wide. "Do you think Robin has lied to us?"

"No," Raven said solidly as she picked up a bottle of lemon juice that was sitting on a nearby table and pored some of its contents onto the mask. The purple goop dissolved quickly and Raven used a black-magical towel to wipe of the residue. She held the mask out to Starfire. "You can take it back to him now."

"Do you not wish to see him without his mask off?" Starfire asked, surprised.

"If he wanted me to see him with his mask off, he'd probably have shown me by now," Raven answered flatly.

"All right," Starfire said, taking the mask. She floated up to where Robin was hiding. Though it was only a matter of 12 feet, it was a difficult flight. She was weighed down by worries about what Robin was hiding. She didn't understand why he wouldn't want to use his powerful eyes as another weapon in his arsenal and she couldn't imagine what the small mask in her hand could protect that Robin's innate resourcefulness and dedication and strength left vulnerable.

To Be Continued . . .