The Heart of the Hunter

He could feel it. Almost like clockwork it came, the pull to hunt in the night. To go out as he had been trained and blend into the darkness, to fill that place in his heart. It was like he wasn't complete without going out into the night and being the hunter, feeling as though he could smell every scent in the city. He had felt it growing these last few days. Fighting during the day, there was no place to hide, no real way to disappear into the shadows. He knew that the others sometimes suspected something, maybe there was a certain look in his eyes or something, but they seemed to ask questions. Maybe he was too restless before and to calm afterwards. Whatever it was, he didn't know. He really didn't want to tell them either. Out of all of them, he bet that only Raven would understand his longing for the darkness, to hunt in the night. Starfire might understand if he likened it to flying, or something else she'd understand. He didn't know if Beast Boy or Cyborg would totally understand though. Maybe they would if he explained it right. He sat in his room quietly, remembering the first time he had realized this longing, it's intensity, and it's purpose.

During the time when Slade had been loose, driving him to the brink, testing him in every way, Robin had realized he was getting a little slower, letting anger take over a little too much. He had sometimes had this longing, but he had brushed it off, and ignored it. Now he used it. It had taken a little while after Slade was gone to realize its potential. The darkness which Slade had tried to occupy was his friend. One night he had gone out, following the call of his heart, and there he had sat, on the rooftop of a building, half asleep, and his mind calmed. Then there had come a scream. Slade had not entered his mind as he raced to the rescue. And he was fast. Faster than he had been, but not as fast as he had been at one time. That was when he realized how this pull to hunt in the night could help him. It was the key to his heart and his soul. This was a part of him that he could no longer deny. For several months now he had been going out and taking over the night. It belonged to him, and nothing could take that away.

As soon as he felt that the others were asleep, he headed out, letting the darkness wrap around him like a familiar, dark blanket. The cool air touched his face like a feathery caress, and brought to him the familiar scents of the city. The night was his. It was the most beautiful night imaginable. There was no moon, which made the shadows darker, the silence louder, and the hunt more exciting. He enjoyed the hunt more than anything. To seek out his prey, and come down on it like a shadow. To practically smell their fear, and take them out like lightning. This was his domain, and nothing could touch him here. He loved the knowledge that he could go anywhere without being seen, do anything without sound, and be relaxed even when he was truly on guard. To him, it was like nothing else, and it was addicting. Swinging through the steel jungle, sitting on the roofs, blending in the shadows, and coming down on foes like a hammer. It filled his heart and made him whole.

There wasn't much activity, and he was disappointed. He made a sweep of the city before deciding that he had enough time to go to another place, a place where he knew that there would be trouble, a place where there always seemed to be trouble, even though there was less than there had been in the past. Sneaking back into the tower, he grabbed his R-cycle and took off down the road to Gotham, never seeing the shadow that had trailed him this whole time. Finally he was at the city limits, looking up into the familiar gothic architecture, hearing even more familiar and old sounds. He fired a grapnel at the nearest building and set his R-cycle on autopilot. It knew where to go, but that also meant that He would know that Robin was here. Chances are that he was out here too. Robin didn't bother to look for him though. If he wanted to be seen, he would be. Other than that, he was practically invisible. He almost literally melted into the darkness and became a shadow. Robin was good, but not quite that good. Within a few moments he came upon some thugs. He was happy to see that they hadn't forgotten him. Actually, they knew him quite well, and tried to escape, even though they knew that they couldn't. He fought his way through the city, fulfilling his hunger, hunting his prey. He was happy. Then he got into a big fight. He hadn't expected this, but he welcomed it. Gangs roamed around in Gotham, and he had just dropped into the middle of one, the members of which had decided to pick on some girls. Robin moved fast, taking them out and freeing the girls. But there was one miscalculation. He couldn't get to all of them before one pulled a gun.

"Bye bye Bird Boy." The thug snarled, and Robin thought he was done for. Then something dark, sleek, and hard whizzed out of the darkness, disarming the thug, and most likely breaking fingers. Robin finished him off.

"Too slow." He muttered to himself.

"Yes." Batman's voice answered. "And you were followed." Batman stepped out of the darkness.

"I should have known." Robin said, shaking his head.

"They bugged you." Batman told him, taking a small black device off of Robin's cape. Robin sighed and looked around for them. They were standing on a roof a good distance away.

The rest of the Titans followed Robin around as he made his rounds. He didn't see them, and Raven helped that immensely. For most of them, it was their first time to Robin's home city. They were surprised. It was much more dark and vicious than Jump City, and the old architecture gave it a kind of haunted look.

"Ugh. This is one creepy city." Beast Boy said quietly, shivering slightly as he stared up at the gargoyles on the side of one of the old buildings.

"I like it." Raven stated quietly.

"Why did Robin come here?" Star asked in a semi-quiet voice.

"It's his home city. He probably likes coming here." Cyborg answered. He listened in on Robin again. "He's just in a small fight. How 'bout we get to the roof tops, Rae?" Raven nodded, and used her powers to lift them onto the rooftops. They stared out at the dark city. Following Robin's signal, they tried to stay a good distance back. Following him around the city, they watched him defeat foe after foe, defending the night. Somehow, he seemed to belong. Finally, he got into a big fight. One of the many thugs pulled out a gun.

"Bye bye Bird Boy." They heard the thug say through the small speaker. Starfire gasped.

"We have to do something." She cried.

"I agree." Cyborg assented, but before they could do anything, they heard something that sounded similar to a birdarang, but they couldn't see anything, other than the thug drop his gun and Robin finish him off.

"Was it my imagination, or did Robin not throw that?" Raven asked.

"Dude, he didn't even move! Either he's really really good, or there's someone else down there." BB commented.

"Sh!" Cyborg shushed them, and they heard Robin's voice again.

"Too slow." He said.

"Yes." Another voice answered. Robin didn't seem surprised. "And you were followed." They saw a dark, horned figure step out of the darkness.

"Woah." BB whispered.

"I should have known." Robin said.

"They bugged you." The figure added, pulling the device off of Robin. He looked around, and they knew that he saw them, so they waited there.

"Who is that?" Starfire asked.

"I'd heard of him, and I knew Robin trained under him, but I've never seen him. He's not so much a myth as he seems once you see him." Cy said, awe coloring his tone.

"Totally. It makes him so real." BB agreed.

"That still doesn't answer the question." Raven told them, almost sounding faintly irritated.

"Batman." Both Cy and BB said. Suddenly both Batman and Robin were in front of them. Raven was immediately drawn to Batman and his calm darkness. Somehow he seemed inhuman, and she could almost feel the power radiating from him. Brief introductions were made in which he didn't say a word. She felt that they were actually very similar. From what she'd heard, Batman preferred darkness, barely showed even a hint of emotion if he could help it, and was a crime-fighter. A very good crime-fighter. Suddenly the ratta-tat-tat of machine gun fire could be heard, and both Batman and Robin were gone in an instant. The other Titans followed the sound, and managed to find it's source before it ceased. There was a group of men at a bank, all carrying guns, mostly machine guns, and they seemed to be lead by a man, whose face was split. One side was handsome, and the other purple and bulging. He seemed to align himself as two people. Unable to stand by while a fight was taking place, they jumped in and helped. There was a hole into the vault, one out into an alley, and all of the bank personnel were on the floor. One of the men immediately tried to grab Raven. She actually got a sort of satisfaction out of slamming him into the nearest wall. But these men learned quickly. After she had taken out three of them, two grabbed her from behind. One thug clamped one hand on her mouth, and the other around her waist, while the other thug pinned her arms to her sides. She was stuck, and they evidently had messed with enough females to know to keep out of good kicking range. The stood too close to get a powerful kick, and kept all sensitive spots out of reach. They started to drag her towards the alley. Raven figured she was pretty much done for, unless one of them moved wrong, when something dark slammed into the men, knocking them and Raven down. When Raven rolled up, Batman was standing in front of her, delivering final blows to the two creeps who had grabbed her. She could see the leader tied up, and all of his thugs lying on the ground, unconscious, and most tied up. She turned to Batman.

"Who is that?" She asked, pointing to the two sided figure.

"He used to be an attorney, Harvey Dent. Now he's Two-Face." Batman answered flatly. Raven now heard the scream of police sirens. Robin and Batman pulled the rest of the Titans back into the darkness, around the corner in the alley.

"Hey! What gives?" BB asked indignantly as the police cars pulled up. Batman simply put a finger to his lips. The officers jumped out, and soon all of the guys, including Two-Face were packed into a prison transport and police cars. A white haired man, who was obviously the leader, came into the alleyway where they stood, but he didn't come around the corner. Instead he just came close to the shadows.

"It's sad." He sighed. "Harvey used to be such a good attorney." Obviously he knew, or expected, Batman was there.

"I know." Batman answered, stepping up next to the man.

"So many in need of help. Almost too many. I wish I could help all of them." The man said wistfully.

"So do I Jim, so do I." Batman said quietly, barely a soft hint of emotion in his voice.

"I guess he'll just be taken back to Arkham again." Jim said, but Batman was already leaving. "I guess I'll never get used to that." They heard him mutter as Batman turned to Robin.

"Go home." He told Robin quietly, and then he melted into the darkness.

"Come on." Robin said, turning to them. "Lets go home." They turned to leave, and Raven looked back to see the man Batman had called Jim, already gone. Clearly he was used to Batman departing suddenly, swiftly, and very quietly. Soon they were also gone.

When they got back to the Tower, they turned on Robin.

"So what made you do it? Huh?" Cy asked.

"Yeah. We at least deserve an explanation." BB said.

"Come on Robin. Please tell us." Star added.

"It's relaxing." Robin told them. "I started out there. Sometimes I just have to return. How'd you know I was out there?"

"I rigged the alarm system, so that if anyone, namely you, turned it off in the middle of the night and headed out, it'd alert us. We've seen it before." Cy told him.

"What gave it away?" Robin asked.

"Say you were a cat, which you're not, but just say you were. After you go out, you about have the look of a cat, whose eyes are as big as saucers, and is rather frisky." BB told him.

"But why do you go out there and fight? How can it be relaxing?" Star asked.

"I learned out there, at night. It just calls to me." Robin looked at Raven as he said this last thing, and she understood. She understood how the night called to him. How he longed sometimes to return to the darkness from whence he had come. It was part of him, and made him whole. Like her and her room, it wasn't something to be openly shared, but when understood, it didn't need to be shared. They all went to sleep as the false dawn was just starting to give way to dawn.


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