Author's Note: I've gotten some floppies recently and have found a way to make use of my spare time in computer class...write on my stories. So hopefully there will be quicker updates than there have been before. I now bring you...the infamous chapter seven.
Rugsrat: (looks embarrassed) Yeah...thanks for pointing that out for me. I was half drugged on cold medication when I wrote the last chapter, and so that was kind of embarrasing for me when you reviewed, but I'm glad you caught me! Keep an eye out for my mistakes, but I'll try not to make so many of them!
Momiji-momo: For some reason I've never really liked Starfire, and she never shows up much in my fics. I really don't know if she's going to have much of a role in this one yet or not, as it looks like it's going to be a particularly long venture.
BrokenOutcast: Jinx is awesome! And cliffhangers are what I do for fun (and to remind people that life is just one big, cruel, cliffhanger).
Starlit Moonshadow: Thankyou!
Tim walked down the halls and ignored the people shoving him to the side as they made their way toward the exit and the buses that waited for most people. The community service buses. Of course, that black car was probably out there waiting for Tim, but if Wayne was going to be such a total bastard, he was going to make this man work to keep his job. It wouldn't hurt him to look for the teenage boy a bit. Sweat a little. Maybe even make Wayne's superior officer ask where Tim was.
Tim chuckled a little and then focused back on what he was doing. He was supposed to be finding Raven, having a talk with her, figuring out what her problem was, exactly…and even though he knew it was wrong to be thinking of how he could use her, the voice in the back of his mind also whispered that he should measure her skills so he could continue formulating a plan to get a few of them out of there. If they all worked together, he figured he get out a maximum of ten, but there wouldn't even be that many. Cy, Gar, himself…and Raven, if she wanted to go and could contribute.
Kori would definitely have to stay behind. Besides being a nuisance, if they tried to drag her along she would either blab to her father or they would be charged with breakout and kidnapping. She was John Anders' daughter, after all.
Tim turned a corner and the flow of students slowed. The passageway led to the gym, which they got to use three times a week for an hour, more heavily supervised then than ever. It only contained a couple of old basketball hoops and some deflated balls, but it was a wide cavern of a space…and with about thirty or forty kids in there, guards could get distracted easily, and someone could go missing.
If Tim had to guess, Raven would have neither boarded the bus nor been left behind in any of the classrooms to finish work or be tutored in a particularly hard subject. She seemed like the type that could make it on her own without help. But there was a library in this place—hardly used, books battered, dusty, and the librarian was a mean dog-faced, tight-lipped snip of a woman who barked out at you fiercely if she was even there at all. Rumor was she had a drinking problem and holed up in her office to get smashed as often as possible.
He continued past the gym, amazed he hadn't been stopped so far, then turned right to go down another corridor that led toward the library. Left, right, another left. He padded quietly, ears alert for any signs of life besides himself. Tim caught himself freezing and almost swearing aloud as he heard voices behind him.
"—last seen in his math class, first to leave. A couple of kids claim to have spotted him in the locker hall, but everyone's in there, and there's other kids that look like him. Dark hair, gray eyes, lanky, medium height…that's normal description."
"Nevertheless, this kid is easily recognizable. Half the fallouts and druggies that run through this place don't have a gleam of intelligence in their eye. I could spot him a mile off." That voice was Wayne. Tim glanced around him, measuring their distance. They had to be about a hundred yards off, just in the middle of the other hallway.
He saw his salvation in the open door of an abandoned broom closet and slipped inside, carefully pulling the door to and listening cautiously, his diaphragm barely raising as he let himself inhale and exhale without hardly making a sound. He could see their elongated shadows coming down the hallway, and the man that was with Wayne began to speak again.
"Are you sure you didn't wait long enough for him at the car? He could be outside."
"Trust me, Travis. If he had been coming, I would have known it. This kid is smart, but predictable. You could tell in his mannerisms this morning that he was going to try something. We need to check all the rooms, all the corridors."
"Any idea where he would have gone?"
"Report says that his associates had already left. Victor Stone and Garfield Logan have already boarded the bus, and Kori Anders is back at the institution. She's home schooled. That leaves Raven Roth, who is also missing. We find her, and I believe we'll find Mr. Drake."
The one Wayne had referred to as Travis seemed to stop in mid-step, causing Wayne to stop just outside of Tim's door. Tim carefully stepped further back and looked to see if there was anywhere to hide in the place, an ear still to the conversation.
"Roth? She's a recluse. Didn't realize she had any friends here."
"Security tapes have caught her talking with Mr. Drake's little gathering more than once. You'd be surprised what kids will group together in these situations. Even the quiet ones sometimes seek out company."
Tim had seen a custodial storage room behind a broom and a mop, barely enough room for someone his size to squeeze through. He moved the tools carefully, making the noisiest moves as the men picked up conversation again.
"Well, they always say the quiet ones snap first. Maybe that means they seek out company once they snap." Travis commented.
"You think Roth has snapped?"
The man chuckled, as if ready to share a dark bit of gossip. "You don't know what she's in for?"
"I do, but a good lawyer could argue her case as self-defense. Seeing as her mother wanted to press charges against her, she didn't have a good lawyer." Tim straightened in his efforts. He knew he should be applying slow, steady pressure to open the old wooden door quietly, but the men were speaking on just the conversation he was going to have with Raven.
"What, murdering her father? Bruce, there are organizations all over the place against domestic violence."
"Sometimes it's not that easy." Wayne's voice moved farther away as he turned. "We're getting off topic. Every moment we waste is a moment we give to the boy."
"There's plenty of classrooms on this floor, but all lock automatically behind the students. It takes a teacher to get in, with the proper ID code."
"His best friend is a computer genius. You'd be surprised what those two is capable of. I've read his file." Something about sent a chill down Tim's back as he listened to his "mentor". How much did Wayne know about him? It was if the man was able to watch him twenty-four hours a day, knew all of his friends, acquaintances...if the man knew as much as he seemed to demonstrate, Tim would have a harder time getting out of Gotham Juvenile Hall than he thought.
He had the door about three-fourths of the way open. Almost enough to squeeze through, but not quite. Starting to apply more pressure, he cursed slightly under his breath as the mop fell from where he had propped it against the wall and hit his foot. Toe aching, he listened to see whether Wayne had heard him, ready to struggle into the opening if need be.
The door knob began to turn, and Tim slipped half of himself into the storage room, but got stuck as his broadening shoulders tried the squeeze between the gap. Knowing he was probably caught right then and there, Tim held his breath and waited for the acclamation of discovery, but instead he heard something different.
"Wayne, really! A broom closet? As much credit as you give this Drake kid, and you expect him to hide somewhere as obvious as that?"
"Sometimes the obvious can lead to oblivious." Wayne said profoundly, but Tim could hear what sounded like Travis slapping Wayne on the back in a friendly manner.
"Come, come, Wayne. The boy couldn't be there. Let's have a look for both the missing Drake and Roth in some other place."
He thought he heard Wayne let out a disgruntled growl, but two sets of footsteps faded out into the distance. Tim let out a sigh of relief, then set about trying to free himself from his current predicament. After two or three times pulling his weight back to free his shoulders, he flew back and tripped over the mop bucket, rocketing the door open and falling to the floor with a loud thud. A girl with short, dark hair looked down at him, eyebrows raised and amethyst eyes glaring from her pale skin.
"Smooth." She said in such a deadpanned, flat voice that Tim felt himself redden. "What were you doing, trying acrobatics in the broom closet?"
Tim mumbled something that sounded like 'shut up' and brushed himself off, looking down the hall in the direction Wayne and Travis had taken. Had they heard the noise? For all his care, he had just made enough racket to wake the dead. But after several seconds of waiting for someone to come running, he decided he hadn't been heard.
He straightened and looked at Raven. "So, what are you doing here?"
She held up a copy of Edgar Allen Poe (The Complete Works). "I had to get something decent to read...although I don't know why I'm explaining myself to an illiterate who randomly decides to fall out of custodial storage rooms."
Tim pulled a disgusted face. "Can you go one minute without insulting someone?"
"My record is five." She said with a twisted smirk, and he had to give a grin...if only a small smirk. They began walking in the opposite direction of the two teacher's. "Return question, then. What are you doing here?"
She nodded as if she understood completely without any explanation. "I suppose living with Mr. Wayne would get a bit tedious." She smirked when she saw him stop and gape at her. "He's one of the wealthiest contributors to this city, you got into an expensive vehicle yesterday, and you arrived this morning looking like you had just been groomed by a drill sergeant. I can put two and two together...that, and I overheard the conversation that he and Travis Long were having in the hallway about ten minutes ago. I suppose that's why you were in the closet." He nodded and her smirk broadened. He cleared his throat and tried to find a way to get back on topic...well, the one he had been trying to find her with.
"So...I...um...I guess you weren't joking when you said you killed your father."
"No, I guess I wasn't."
"Oh." He watched his feet for a while. His Chuck Taylor's were scuffed up compared to her suede boots, black in color. "You'd think they'd have us under tighter security, what with murdering, stealing, hacking..."
"They do and know more than they let on." Raven said confidently. "But they are ignorant of some things."
He turned to regard her quizzically with his grey eyes. "Like about what?"
"Like about the fact that this institution was built in 1763 as a Catholic church, and since at the time Catholics were frowned upon, there are four documented safety rooms and three documented escape passageways. Those have been blocked. I've found some that are undocumented.
Tim felt himself starting to grin. This girl was brilliant. He turned to her. "Show me."
Gar found himself wandering the halls. Okay, so he wasn't wandering exactly, but he wasn't stalking her either. He was just finding himself drawn to her voice which was constantly moving farther away while he still managed to stay out of sight. Sort of like those siren-thingies that he had had to read about in English the year they read about that stupid Odysseus guy. But it wasn't stalking.
He thought about the time he and Terra had met. She had been the criminal first…sort of. She was a constant runaway and stole things to survive, so he never really considered it criminal acts…just survival. But at one point she had climbed through his bedroom window at his foster parent's house and asked to hide out there from the cops. She had to spend the night in his attached bathroom's tub so his foster parents wouldn't find her, but she stayed for about four days before disappearing.
And despite my obvious good looks and comedic talents—He thought with a mental sigh. She was the closest thing to a real friend I ever had.
Suddenly he found himself running into the blonde and hitting solid ground just as quickly. So much for being undetected. Terra tried to suppress a giggle and reached out a hand to help him up.
"Here, Gar. See you're still clumsy." He didn't respond at first, noticing that the people she had been talking to appeared to be missing. Had he been imagining the voices that had surrounded her for a time?
Her next sentence proved he hadn't. "My friends ditched me to go harass those older juvies. Wanna hang?"
He felt his face reddened, and ran his fingers nervously through his blond hair. His green eyes met her blue shyly. "Um…sure."
"Cool." Terra smiled and giggled again, and he felt himself blushing more fiercely, though he didn't know why. They started walking down the hallway.
"So…what's been up with you?" He tried to start a conversation, but this was the least lame thing he could come up with to say, and it still sounded dumb as the sounds hit the air. She didn't seem to notice. Terra shrugged and started to respond.
"I've been around. Got caught trying to rob a few ATMs with some people I hooked up with, and landed myself here. You?"
"Foster parents sent me back to the orphanage."
She pulled a face. "I never liked them much. But what got you in this dump?"
He smirked a little, never getting tired of explaining it, even though he had only just told everyone the other day in 'group therapy' Terra wasn't in that class with him. "I tried to free the animals from the zoo."
She laughed. He liked her laugh. It was pure, like bells. "Did you?"
"No. I fell into the bear cage and got stuck." He smiled and blushed some more when she giggled and responded.
"I'm surprised the bear didn't eat you alive."
He puffed out his chest and tried to look taller, tougher. "Yeah…well, you know me. I held it off until they could come and get me out."
"You ran into a corner and climbed into the narrowest space you could find, didn't you?"
"Yeah…" Even if he knew she was mocking him…this wasn't completely bad.