Not Again (revised)
Alexnandru Van Gordon
…You'll probably kill me. Actually, I know you're going to kill me but this had to be done. Why? Because I started this story about three or four years ago and not only do I have something akin to amnesia when it comes to remembering how I was supposed to end this story but I also need to edit it. Badly. My writing was fairly poor back when I started and I just want to amp it up for ye ol' faithful readers. People such as Chai-Tea and DLsky have reminded me of the importance of minimal writing errors and I just wanted to make it up to you via editing the story. It shouldn't take long. After all, the story's practically written out already.
Important: On a side note, Blast to the Supposed Past will also be seeing renovations in the near future…Probably a new title as well. God grief, who comes up with a title like "Blast to the Supposed Past"? I think I must've watched Blast to the Future when I came up with that. Jeez…
WARNING: Spoilers for 'Haunted' if you haven't seen it yet. But seeing as the TV-series had its last season a long time ago, you've probably watched it anyway. This is just an extra precaution…Oh—and the whole issue with Terra has blown over already. She's trapped in stone.
SUMMARY: There's a major villain in Jump City that can ruin everything unless he's stopped. The problem is: Robin's the only one that knows about him. After his hallucinations of Slade, his friends think he's a bit crazy and this leads to intense trouble when the last person he expected help from comes to save him.
DISCLAIMER: (wow, I missed this) Not mine. Sorry guys, I would've made another season or two if it was.
CHAPTER ONE: Robin's newest problem
"Are you sure you're alright?"
He felt a vein popping somewhere in his head, but he tried to keep a clear composure standing before the man that raised him. After all, image was everything.
"Positive." He responded in a clam and collective tone, one he picked from his surrogate father many years ago under his studious eye. He glanced briefly over his shoulder at his friends, all of which stood cowering in the doorway in horrid anticipation of what would happen to them once the call ended.
Batman leaned back into his seat ever-so-slightly, eyeing the group of teens from his view on the living-room screen. "Fine, but if I hear anything of the sort again you can expect to find yourself on the next flight back to Gotham."
Robin flinched internally. He loved Jump City—loved the time he spent with his friends and the justice he did to the young and thriving metropolis, but most of all…he loved the chance he had to lead. In Gotham he was just Bruce's son, his sidekick, his protégé…here he was free. Here he could fight until his heart's content—here he could be as selfish as Bruce was when he was bruised and beaten and wouldn't give up the fight.
…Sometimes Batman worried too much.
"Is that understood, Robin?"
"Loud and clear, sir…" Robin sighed, looking a bit wounded. He stood at attention until the screen flickered and turned black. Then his attitude changed for the worst…
"How could you guys!!!" He exclaimed in disbelief as he spun sharply on his heel, ready to sprint after the culprits. The doorway was empty now, his supposed friends in hiding.
They had some nerve calling Batman over a petty thing like this. They knew it was just the dust on Slade's mask that made him hallucinate, but even then they were convinced his stress levels were too high. So what if he was a little tense? It was his job to be apprehensive. They didn't have to contact his legal guardian about it—especially if said legal guardian was as anal as Bruce.
He lucked out somehow this time. He half-expected to see the Bat-jet parked on top of their T and a ticked-off Bruce demanding that he packed his bags. This whole little ordeal could've been the end of his career as the Titans' leader.
"Hey!" He yelled. They were acting pretty hypocritical at the moment. Weren't they the ones that told him to treat them like a team, to let them in on his secret agenda so he wouldn't lose his head? Well, now they crossed the line. He had every right to lose his head.
Strapping him down to a stretcher was one thing—but calling Batman? That was a cruel and unusual punishment.
Storming down the hallway with murderous intent, Robin paused first at Raven's room. As he had expected, a black aura surrounded the door. No doubt the window as well. Of all the people he thought he could trust the most, it was Raven. Should something ever happen to him, he wanted to leave the title of leader to either her or Cyborg—and Cyborg, he knew, probably had his security system hooked up to the door. There'd be no getting into his room without some sort of adhesive and a pack of dynamite.
Sighing to himself, Robin almost missed the small fly that buzzed past his head—a green fly, he noted. In Beast Boy's current form, any attempts of catching him could result in a sticky, squished insect. Killing a teammate wasn't the best way to impress Batman.
His left eye twitched as he fought the urge to shout again. This was a stupid way to spend his time. He thought he taught them better: face the enemy with both eyes open wide; never let them think they have power over you. This little game of hide and seek only proved his efforts were wasted…only proved that maybe he wasn't fit to be their leader after all.
The next room was his, a place he knew no one was dumb enough to hide in. Then last—but not least—was Starfire's…but her door was left open. Wide open…
Upon stepping inside, he spotting her sitting on the edge of her bed with a purple teddy bear trapped in a Tameranian death-hug. Her back faced the door but he knew she was aware of his presence. She was merely waiting for his attack…
"I did not know you had a father, Robin." She whimpered. "I am sorry if you got in trouble today because of what was said about you. I honestly did not know they set a message to such a mean earth man…"
"He's not…he's not mean." He replied meekly, embarrassed that he assumed the worst of her. Quietly he sat down next to her and focused on his knees. "He's strict, and he worries about me. He taught me everything I know, and…we both lost our parents at a young age. We're family and it aggravates him when he not always there to help me."
"Then why did he let you leave his home? I was given the impression earth children remain with their parents until they are old enough to raise young of their own."
"He has faith in me." Robin smiled at the thought. Talking to Starfire was beginning to ease the tension in his head. "Besides—you're here, aren't you? I don't see you with any kids."
She frowned thoughtfully before finally shaking her head. "I am far too young to even consider mothering a child of my own flesh and blood. You are right, Robin, but I do not wish for you to leave us. Perhaps…perhaps you could calm down and—as Cyborg says—'take a load off things' for the time being. Maybe if you show them how well you are, they will find no reason to report you to the man that raised you. Yes?"
"Done and done." He promised with the nod of his head. Sometimes the simplest advice was the best advice to follow. "I think I'll go for a walk, Starfire. Tell the others I stepped out to calm down and that I don't plan on yelling at them when I return."
"Yes, Robin." She beamed. "And please—do not stress yourself over petty thefts or robberies should you happen across them during your walk. Call us."
"I will." He patted her on the shoulder reassuringly twice before standing. Starfire was visibly relaxed after their little chat. "Thanks for clearing things up with me, Star."
"I believe there is an earth saying: 'that's what friends are for'."
Indeed they were…
The rain came in great torrents, untamed by the wind and unaccompanied by the cold. It pounded mercilessly at the ground, flooding the streets and overflowing the drainpipes. It was an omen of things to come, wild things that could seep into every crack and cranny and root themselves there to fester and grow. Tonight was a night of change.
The sole figure of a man stood outside in the storm, trench-coat weighed down by the rain it soaked up. It was just about as heavy as he was, sodden to the core.
Tilting his wide-brimmed hat back to gaze up at the mansion, he took a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty of the colossal structure. It was a magnificent pristine-white building located on the outskirts of Jump City, a bustling new metropolis that was guarded by the ever-vigilant Teen Titans. The grounds were surrounded by a thick mass of tall pine trees that spread out into the forest, leaving minimal space for the highway leading between Jump City and the town of Norinsgrove.
He had to laugh. The storm began to die around him. He was a tall, thin fellow, a skeleton in Man's clothing. Beneath the hat and coat stood a mass of scarred flash and hospital gauze, wrapped up nice and tidy like a mummy, heavily scented by ointment and salve and carrying with it the earthy aroma of death. Dark, calculative blue eyes scanned the forest before he pushed open one of the entrance gates and entered the property.
The house, despite its beauty, was too large a dwelling for him to enjoy. It was empty. It was emptier still with only one inhabitant. He felt his reserve buckle at the memory of a stunning woman that died due to his mistakes, and a nine-year-old boy claimed by cancer so many years ago. He never expected to find himself alone in the world.
Laughter dying with the rain, he strode up the mansion road, pulling out a set of keys from his wet coat pocket. Everything had been moved inside days ago and all it needed now was a person. Maybe two persons…maybe he didn't deserve to be alone…
He didn't expect it to rain, but his luck wasn't exactly bright and shining that day. The storm started on the outskirts of town and slowly migrated south to the city, dying down a short while after it started. It was a freak gale and the ground was thoroughly soaked, but at least he managed to stay dry.
Stepping out from under the cover of a bus-shelter, he crossed the street and ran into the park. He usually found a mugger or two looking for trouble within the haven of the trees but he honestly doubted they'd find anyone to rob after the storm. On the other hand, it never hurt to check the place out…
Robin slowed to a walk once he was safe from view within the mass of trees and bushes. He weaved his way through the greens and the benches to the main dirt path. Relieved that no one appeared to be out, he decided to enjoy his time off for once and continued down the path at a medium stroll.
He continued his journey for another three hours until he began to yawn. It seemed that no one wanted to be out in the wet right after the rain. His boots were nearly soaked through.
Satisfied with the lack of crime, he deemed the park safe for another night and determined it was time to head home.
Just as he was about to turn down the path, whistling caught his attention. Decidedly smug whistling—a tune he didn't recognize. Said whistler broke out into laughter suddenly before continuing the song, moving closer to Robin's position. His team might claim that he was paranoid when it came to criminals, but the insane laughter was getting on his nerves and it reminded him strangely of the joker.
Suppressing yet another yawn, he slid into the shadows. He wanted to go home soon, but a part of him wanted to see the man behind the whistle—if only to make sure he was an over-happy gentleman and not a maniac on the loose.
Suddenly, he was very glad he stayed behind.
Rounding the bend behind a thick pack of trees, a suspicious man strode out into view. And Robin wasn't just saying suspicious—he meant it. The fellow wore a soaking wet trench coat and wide-brimmed hat that were both pale from wear and somewhat dusty. The man eventually reached up and unbuttoned the top of his coat, revealing a body covered in bandages and splotches of blood. Even his face was covered in gauze, giving Robin the impression that the man was infected with leprosy or some other contagious skin disease.
Affected by the heat of the night, the man lifted his wide-brimmed hat and ran his hand through a crop of dark brown hair, bringing his hand back down immediately to inspect it. There was blood on his fingers, and he 'tut-ed' in disappointment before he replaced his hat and continued to whistle.
Robin couldn't decide if the man was a criminal or not. The tall, skinny fellow was creepy in his book, but he looked more like a crazy from the asylum or a delusional patient from the hospital. Either way, the teen vigilante had to catch him.
Robin reached behind his back and pulled his bo-staff out from one of his belt compartments, extending both ends in preparation of battle. He didn't plan on hitting the man with his staff. He just wanted to scare him into submission so he could transport him peacefully to the hospital.
Stepping out calmly from his hiding place in the shadows, Robin stopped in the center of the path and turned to face the mysterious man. The gentleman paused suddenly, leaving ten feet between himself and the Titans' leader, more than enough space for Robin to flip and cut the man off if he tried to bolt in the other direction.
The whistling stopped abruptly and the man blinked in disbelief.
"Aha!" He laughed suddenly. "I guess I'm not the only one out here that loves the rain. Isn't it just wonderful?"
It was official then. This guy was nuts.
"The rain ended three hours ago." Robin clarified for the confused man. "What brings you to the park? I don't recall any mummies reported missing from the museum."
The man laughed again, obviously amused with Robin's intentionally corny humor. "A funny bone, eh? Let's save the laughter for after the fight, Zipper."
Robin frowned. Fighting, huh?
"Ch." He muttered to himself before lunging at the man. If he knocked the fellow out, it'd be easier to take him back to the hospital.
Staff held high above his head, he brought it down in a vicious vertical swing and waited for the jolt of his arms when the staff would connect with either the man's head or his shoulder. It all depended on the man's reaction to the attack.
"Fierce, I see." The man said as he stepped aside casually a second before Robin's staff should've hit him. At the precious moment he dodged the attack, he held out his right arm and caught the Boy Wonder around the waist before he could complete his landing. Stepping up quickly behind the boy, he pinned Robin to his chest.
"Uh!" Robin choked in surprise as the man wrapped his other arm around the boy's throat. The tall man leaned back, stretching Robin's body as his feet lifted off the floor.
Without really thinking about it, Robin jerked the end of his bo-staff up into the man's face and was rewarded with a sharp cry. The man released him instantly and stumbled back.
Then he began to laugh.
Robin spun around, bo-staff ready. What was so funny?"
The man held a hand over his left eye, the one Robin caught with his staff, before pointing a finger at Robin in recognition. "Well I'll be damned! I know you…You're Robin, Slade's kid—right?"
The Boy Wonder was caught speechless for a moment, both surprised and insulted by the comment. He didn't know whether he was cold from the chills running along his spin at the sound of the man's name or hot from the adrenaline pumping in his veins. He didn't know where this guy got his information, but he most certainly was not 'Slade's kid'.
"One—I'm not his kid, and two—Slade's dead."
The man continued to laugh and Robin felt his cheeks burning. Who on earth was this guy? Second to Slade, this guy ranked high on Robin's clinically insane list. He acted like a grade A lunatic.
He was worried when the man's laughter died down, ending with a small sound that reminded Robin of a quiet sob. The man locked eyes with his young adversary, blue orbs flickering to life. Robin found himself mesmerized with the light behind those eyes, unable to look away. There was something about them…something that made him feel as though the man was staring directly into his mind…his thoughts and memories suddenly privy to a complete stranger.
"But do you actually believe he's dead?"
The question lingered in the air. Of course Slade was dead…wasn't he? He had to be. People didn't fall into a pit of boiling lava and live to tell the tale—and Slade, no matter how slippery or cunning he was in the time Robin knew him, wasn't an exception. The ordeal with the dust proved nothing of Slade's possible existence. He fell to his death months ago…or had he somehow escaped the reaper? Had he left the Titans to believe he was dead by discarding his mask in the lava? After all, that was all they'd seen in the fiery liquid before they fled from the collapsing fortress.
The man straightened his coat and cracked his neck, clearing his throat in the process. "Well…I guess the answer to that is quite obvious. Neither of us believes he's dead—and one of us knows he's not dead. Is it you or me, Zipper? Do you want to know…?"
Robin scowled and backed away from the man. "What do you know about Slade—where is he?!"
"You've proven me wrong, Zipper…I guess that means two of us lonesome creatures knows he's alive. How's that for Angst?"
"Just answer me!" Robin snapped. "And quite calling me Zipper—do I look like a cadet to you?" (1)
The man eyed his costume. "…Guess not when you put those colours into perspective—but your attitude suggests otherwise. Ever considered joining the army, Zipper?"
"Give me a break already." Robin was getting tired of this. He just wanted to return home and rest, but not before he took this lunatic down. He knew his was going to be cranky in the morning despite the outcome of this battle—he just had to careful around his friends. One false step and Batman would drag him back to Gotham so fast his head would spin.
"Scared of something, Zipper?" The man asked, obviously prying some more information out of his head. How he did it was beyond Robin's understanding. Maybe he possessed powers similar to that of Raven's?
"Yeah. I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you to the slammer tonight. But look on the bright side; you'll meet a lot of other nut-jobs just like you. You'll find somewhere you'll belong."
"Oh!" The man appeared to be amused in some odd way, clearly enjoyed the snappy comebacks from his opponent. "And am I the only one that doesn't belong in this society? I can't be certain, but it looks as though the white knight doesn't exactly have a clean slate either. Do I taste a hint of distrust? Trouble with your friends—or are they really your friends, Zipper?"
"Quit calling me that…"
"Well, well, well." The man said, probably grinning behind the mask of bandages. "Besides your lack of respect for elders, I'd say you're one of the few people I could ever get along with—and that's saying something. I've killed most of the other people I've ever known…save for Slade. But I guess that makes sense, seeing that you're his kid, Zipper. You're alone in this world, and so am I."
He didn't stop to think about his actions. Robin dashed forward, staff ready to strike the man down. He got close enough to actually swing—but the creep was faster than he anticipated and leapt straight up into the air. Robin skidded to a halt and waited to catch the man on his descent but was shocked to find the man higher in the air than he assumed humanly possible. When he saw the foot aimed at his face, Robin shifted into an uneasy back flip, having to plant both hands on the ground for better support as his world turned upside-down. A bit off balance, he ended up executing the flip as a cartwheel.
The man landed and his foot punctured the ground, kicking up dirt into the air. He didn't scream or make any sign that he was in pain. Sighing, he pulled his foot free of the earth with one good tug and fixed his eyes on Robin. "You're one in a million, kid. Actually, you're the only teen hero I've encountered that gets the job done without powers. You're the leader of a team of super-powered teenagers, right?
"So what?" Robin snapped. Flattery wasn't going to help this guy.
"So what?" The man chuckled in disbelief. "I like you, kid. A lot. So don't go fooling yourself will all that good vs. evil nonsense they teach you in school—it's all a lie. But I'll tell you something: if you're ever feeling as lonely as I am, you've got somewhere to go. Think of us as kindred spirits."
Now Robin was confused. "What do you mean?"
The man began to levitate, no doubt the trick behind the high jump he did earlier. Then his figure began to fade. Robin wondered briefly if he'd been fighting a ghost all along, but ghosts didn't leave dents in the ground. "I mean…I'm new here, and I'm looking to adopt."
For the second time that night, Robin was caught speechless. "Excuse me? Sorry, but I'm not up adoption."
"Ah, but your parents are dead."
"I was adopted after that. I already have a father."
The man shrugged as though that meant nothing to him—which it probably didn't. "I told you, I kill just about everyone I stumble across. What makes you think your current guardian wouldn't hesitate to disown you while staring down the barrel of a gun?"
"You'd have one heck of a time getting him to do anything against his will." Robin grinned, thinking about Batman. "Besides, I'm not even living with him right now. I don't need another parent."
The man had almost entirely faded. "We'll see, Boy Wonder. Until next time, Zipper!"
And then he was gone.
Robin returned back to the tower sometime after five a.m.—and he wasn't welcomed with smiling faces. He tiptoed in the darkness and almost made it past the doorway to the main-room when all the lights in the hall and living-room flickered to life. Everyone—including a melancholy Starfire—sat in the kitchen area with their eyes on Robin.
Cyborg raised his only real eyebrow. "What kept you?"
'Give me a break here!' He exclaimed in the back of his mind. 'What did I do to deserve this?'
"Got into a fight?" Beast Boy inquired with the same suspicious look as Cyborg…except it was funnier, being Beast Boy and all.
Robin frowned. "What makes you think that?"
Beast Boy rolled his eyes and threw his arms up into the air "Dude! It's five in the morning, your hair is all messed up and you're holding your bo-staff! The real question is: what wouldn't make us think that?"
"I went out for a walk—you can even ask Starfire." He defended weakly, retracting his bo-staff. He used it as a mock-cane on the way home, a bit disgruntled with his confrontation and even more than just a 'bit' tired. "I ran into a little trouble."
"Then why didn't you call us, man?" Cyborg said with a sigh, his robotic eye dimmer than usual. No one had really rested that night.
"It was just some drunk lunatic." He lied. When he put his mind to it, Batman was probably the only man alive who could see through the lies he fabricated. "I had to take him to the authorities. Aside from that, I took a walk in the park. No one was out. It was wet."
"Just a walk?" Raven asked incredulously. "How long does it take you to deliver a drunk to the police station?"
"I was gentle this time."
This wasn't working.
"…Goodnight." He muttered, heading back down the hall before anyone could open their mouth. He knew they would attack him again in the morning but for now all he wanted was some sleep.
…Maybe he should return to Gotham? He spent so much of his time and energy obsessing over Slade, and now that the man was dead another crazy popped up to take his place. Even if he didn't permanently leave Jump City, it would give him time to relax.
"Why me?" He murmured as he entered his room. A trip to Gotham was sounding quite inviting at the moment…
Yay! I did it! I edited a chapter. I changed some paragraphs completely, but I tried to keep it close to what I wrote before. Tonight I only had time to revise this chapter—you'll be able to tell which chapters I edit when I put "(revised)" in the title. If you're reading a chapter and the word isn't there at the top of the page, then I haven't gotten to it yet.
Don't worry about leaving a review. I don't expect any for revising a story. By the way…the end is near…and I mean, the end chapter of Not Again…
-Alexnandru Van Gordon