Disclaimer: DC Comics owns these characters and not me. Wow, never thought I'd ever say that. I decided that my love of Tim and Cass could not simply be confined to one-shots. R/R if you enjoy.
It was a slow night. He pondered this as his bo staff collided with the mugger's skull. The metal pole in his hand rang with the vibrations and Tim Drake was sure the man's head was ringing in the same key. He'd ask the mugger himself but the man was unconscious and now lying on the ground. The woman who had been the intended victim had already fled the scene and was nowhere to be seen as Tim surveyed his handiwork.
"Not bad," said Robin to himself as he put away his weapon and checked a pouch on his belt. He would have to call the police about this one; the perp was too big for him to carry over to headquarters. Unless, of course, the woman was smart enough to find the nearest cop and tell him or her all of the details. In any other town besides Bludhaven, Tim might've considered that a viable scenario. Robin fished out some change and quickly found a phone booth. He felt horribly awkward as he dialed the number and stood there.
"There's a mugger on Broadway that needs picking up," said Robin, not really waiting for the desk sergeant to say hello, "You'll know him when you see him." He hung up the phone and moved back to secure the perp. He smiled as he began tying the man up. He had been leaving a little calling card lately. Everyone knew that the Bat was fond of leaving crooks hanging upside down from whatever was handy. Tim figured he could employ that trick as well. It was a good scare tactic.
"Alfred's going to be by tomorrow." Robin jumped at the sudden noise and almost dropped the mugger on his head as he hoisted the man up and tied him to a fire escape rail. Tim mentally cursed himself for being taken by surprise. He should be concentrating on the area instead of ways to make himself look cool. Tim turned and saw her or at least as much as he could of her. It never ceased to creep him out that Batgirl's costume blended almost perfectly with the dark. All he could really see was a vaguely humanoid patch of charcoal that stood out very little against the night.
"I hadn't heard," replied Robin as he looked at Batgirl, "He doing our laundry?"
"Didn't ask," replied Batgirl, "We at least . . . get breakfast." Robin smiled and could tell Batgirl did too. Hanging around with Cass taught you a couple tricks about body language. Plus, if Tim was being truthful there were plenty of other good things about hanging out with Cass.
"There's something . . . coming down . . . at the docks," informed Batgirl, "Everyone talks about it."
"You mean 'going down'," corrected Robin.
"Coming . . . going . . . whatever," replied Batgirl with a shrug. She was used to his corrections by now. They had even made a few jokes about it. She knew what she meant and she could tell he did too even if she didn't know the right words.
"What do you think it is?" asked Robin, "A shipment of something."
"Probably," replied Batgirl, "Wanna check?"
"It's a date," agreed Robin. Batgirl nodded as Robin shot out a line and hoisted himself up into Bludhaven's skyline. Batgirl quickly followed suit. It had been a slow night for her as well. A couple of muggings and a few attempted rapes. Cass hated those. It was disgusting. She shook her head slightly, noting to take an extra long shower when she got back to her apartment. But this thing at the docks, it was big. She knew just by the way the thugs acted when they "mentioned" it to her. She could see it was going to be big. So she had decided to let Robin give her a hand. They made a good team; Batgirl knew this.
"Where?" asked Robin as he perched on the roof of a warehouse. He noted for what must've been the millionth time that his costume was sorely lacking in the camouflage department. He kept meaning to talk to Bruce some day about that.
"Pier 76," replied Batgirl. Robin nodded. They weren't far but it wouldn't be good to rush in without a little knowledge beforehand. Robin pulled a small pair of binoculars out from his belt and clicked on the night-vision lenses.
"Boy scout," said Batgirl as she shook her head.
"Huh?" asked Robin as he gave her a quizzical expression.
"Boy scout," repeated Batgirl as she pointed to the binoculars, "Always . . . prepared. That's right . . . isn't it?"
"Yeah," replied Robin with a smile, "Yeah, you're right."
"There are two at the end of the dock," said Batgirl, "Two more . . . by the warehouse." She continued scanning the area, trying to see if she could pick up any others. She could always see them. She could see everything. Robin just watched her, forgetting his binoculars for the moment. Cass never ceased to amaze him sometimes. It was incredible how much she could pick up without any aid at all.
"More inside the warehouse?" asked Robin. Batgirl shook her head slightly. Robin knew what that meant. Cass was pretty much perfect but no machine ran without errors. The telltale shake of her head meant that she didn't know for sure. Tim wasn't really the type to play things by ear but right now it seemed like the best course of action.
"Boat's coming," said Batgirl, "More men there." Robin nodded. He already made a guess that it was either drugs or guns. Neither of those things were things he wanted in his town. His and Batgirl's town, he mentally corrected.
"We'll clear the inside first," stated Robin, "Then when they get ready to unload we'll hit those goons next."
"Works . . . for me," replied Batgirl with a nod. Robin nodded as the duo began to creep towards the warehouse, lightly jumping from rooftop to rooftop until they reached the one they wanted. Robin glanced around inside the warehouse.
"Crawling," whispered Batgirl before Robin had a chance to say anything, "Big group in the middle . . . playing crap. Few others . . . around too." Robin nodded, not bothering to remind her that the game was called "craps".
"Go time," he told her as he broke the window and slid into the warehouse. Batgirl nodded and followed behind him. The group of thugs had just looked up from the game when Batgirl landed in their midst. She always took point when she and Robin worked together. She was the fighter while Tim was the thinker. Bruce had been right, they had a lot to teach each other.
"The hell?" asked one of the thugs. It was the only thing he could say before Batgirl's fist shot out and connected with his jaw. This seemed to stun the rest of the goons into action. One of them came at her with a knife. Cass kicked it from his grasp and aimed her next kick at his bewildered face. There was another behind her and he received an elbow in his gut as he attempted to grab her from behind.
"Got him," assured Robin as he hit the thug in the back of the head with his bo staff. Batgirl wasn't paying attention. She knew Robin could watch her back. She was in what she had heard Dick and Babs refer to as "the zone". Truthfully, Cass felt that she had lived her whole life in "the zone". It was the other side of life that was hard, not this part. She had been raised in "the zone".
"Get the ones outside," Batgirl told Robin. Robin nodded. He could see that the two mooks that had been standing guard at the warehouse entrance had heard the commotion. He saw them pull out their firearms but he was already way ahead of them. Two of his insignia darts sang through the air and disarmed the two goons.
"Sorry gentlemen but I'm the only one who gets the toys tonight," apologized Robin as he sprang at the men, neatly flipping over them and managing to crack their heads together. Dick had taught him that move.
"Wouldn't worry though," assured Tim as he flicked a couple tangle grenades at the two unconscious thugs, "I got plenty of party favors to go around." He was still feigning lightness. He couldn't tell if it was all that had happened to him, the city, or both. He had a theory that it was both. He looked up in time to watch Batgirl end the dance with the other goons. It was poetry watching her move. Tim often reflected on how beautiful it was.
"And here we have our next contestants," muttered Robin sourly as he heard gunshots and ducked behind a stack of crates. The goons from the end of the pier had just arrived and he figured there was probably some more from the boat too. It just kept getting better and better as the night went along.
"Batgirl, blind rush," ordered Robin as he lobbed a flash bomb at the thugs. The disoriented men never saw Cass coming and even if they did it probably wouldn't have made a difference. In a few seconds they were out like lights.
"You check boat," said Batgirl as the duo exited the warehouse and looked out to the end of the dock, "I'll handle what's left." Robin nodded as the duo charged towards the group of men at the end of the pier. The people looked like mercenaries, which made Robin suspect they had been smuggling arms. It didn't matter. They could send a whole army after Cass and she'd still only break a sweat. Tim, however, stood a chance to break a lot more than a simple sweat. He vaulted up over the goons while Batgirl began to carve a path straight through them. Tim landed on the deck of the boat and immediately slammed his fist into a mercenary's face. There was another one after that but a tangle grenade stuck the gun to his hand before Robin kicked him in the face.
"Guns," said Robin to himself, "Definitely guns." He looked over to see that Batgirl had finished off the rest. She looked up at him and waved.
"Call the police," said Robin as he went down to check the cargo hold. He whipped out a penlight and used his staff like a crowbar to crack open a crate. Guns. He had been right on the money.
"Just call me Sherlock Junior," quipped Tim as he headed back up to wait and make sure the cops arrived. Unfortunately, much like a lot of things in Robin's life lately, this night just wasn't going to be so easy.
"How about we just call you 'dead', amigo?" asked a raspy voice. Robin instinctually rolled as a metallic object suddenly came his way. His feet hit the ground in a run to get some distance before the grenade exploded, taking a huge chunk of the deck with it. Great, this was a really fun way to end the night.
"It speaks," muttered Tim glibly as he tossed a few insignia darts at the mercenary in an effort to try and jam the launcher, "But apparently it doesn't have enough IQ to realize that you don't fire a grenade launcher while you're on a boat." He surmised that this goon must be the leader of this sorry band of thugs. He also knew that he'd have to get in close unless he wanted to spend the rest of the night dodging shrapnel.
"You the Bat's boy," sneered the mercenary as one of the darts nicked his arm, "That the best you got, kid? A little scratch on the arm ain't gonna cut it tonight."
"That was just practice," assured Robin as he sprinted towards the goon, "But then again, that's all guys like you really are, practice." The mercenary grinned maliciously as he leveled the grenade launcher at Tim's head but as he pulled the trigger, Robin used his staff and vaulted up over the man's head. Tim twisted in midair and let out a grappling cable that wound around the man, effectively pinning his arms and his weapon to his sides.
"Do you even have a clue where you are, junior?" asked Robin with a smirk towards the bound man as he saw Batgirl suddenly land on the deck, "You're trying to smuggle guns into my town. That's enough of a problem but you're also doing it in her town. Trust me, amigo, she really hates guns."
"Yeah . . . a lot," replied Batgirl as her foot collided with the man's jaw in a flying kick that took the mercenary down. Tim flashed her a grin as he saw that the cops were starting to arrive.
"Time to go," said Robin as the duo snagged their grappling lines on the roof of a warehouse and swung into the night as the police showed up.
He was mad. It was understandable. Business for Oswald Cobblepot was not good and when business was not good then life as a whole was a little less rosy. And when business was bad because of two teenaged Bat-kids sticking their noses in his affairs on an almost nightly basis, things were pretty miserable.
"Damn," muttered the Penguin as he hung up the phone. Fat Willie had just called to voice his displeasure at the fact that the shipment he had wanted Penguin to smuggle into the country for him had been caught. That and, of course, to tell Cobblepot that he wasn't getting paid for this little fiasco. Penguin really hated it when that happened.
"I need a professional," said Penguin, "Someone who can really teach these kids a lesson."
"Bludhaven is full of people," responded Westbrook as Penguin pulled a cigar from the box in his desk.
"Local help's no good," stated Penguin as he took the cigar and cut off the end before lighting it, "Too traceable."
"Out of town then," suggested Westbrook, "Gotham has enough people to do the job." Penguin arched his eyebrow. Gotham did have any number of lunatics. All it took was the right one.
"I heard that Crane is out," stated Penguin as he took a puff on his cigar, "Get me in touch with him. He'll probably need money for more chemicals. If he can scare these kids off my back then I'll make it worth his time."
"As you wish," replied Westbrook as he departed.
Cassandra Cain had learned a lot of things in her life. Most of them involved the art of murder and sometimes she reflected on what her life might've been like if she hadn't learned those things. Then, of course, there were a lot of other things she had learned. Like the fact that at one in the morning, microwave pizza tasted really good.
"So, Alfred's coming by?" asked Tim. Cass nodded and continued eating a slice of pizza.
"He's . . . making breakfast and then . . . we're going shopping for stuff," explained Cass as she finished the slice.
"Lucky," said Tim, "I've got school."
"You should rest," said Cass, "He asked if you were . . . doing okay." She still didn't know how to talk about it, about the fact that life for the usually optimistic Tim Drake had suddenly taken a very nasty and depressing turn. Cass didn't know what to say about that.
"I should go," agreed Tim, "You can crash here if you like."
"Always good," said Cass, "So are you . . . doing okay?"
"I'm trying," replied Tim, "I . . .." He didn't finish. Cass didn't need him to. She reached over and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it gently.
"I need to get some sleep," said Tim, getting up from the couch and moving towards his bedroom. He was unnerved by Cass's action. Not so much "unnerved" but rather . . . he wasn't sure what to call it. He didn't know what to think at this point, which was usually a sure sign that it was time for bed.
"Sleep good," said Cass.
"I'll try to sleep well," replied Tim as he gave her what was supposed to be a reassuring smile before closing the door. Cass forlornly stared at the door, knowing full well that the smile was feigned. She sighed and morosely bit into another slice of pizza. She wished she could do something for Tim, something to help him. He was her friend and he was hurting, she could see it so plainly. But what she couldn't see was a way to help. It frustrated her because it was a problem that couldn't be solved with fists. She was learning that, learning that there were lots of problems like that. They irritated her. She continued eating her pizza and tried to think. There had to be something she could do. Maybe she could buy him something. She looked over at Tim's bookshelf. Lately, he had been helping her learn how to read. He said she was doing really well. Cass decided that Tim deserved a present for helping her. Maybe she could find something tomorrow when she and Alfred went out.
Cass moved over to the window, finishing the pizza, and began staring at the city. Bludhaven was different from Gotham. It was . . . grittier? Cass figured that was the right word. It was a word she learned from Tim. He would always use it when he was talking about some detective movie. She figured it suited Bludhaven. She turned back to look at the closed door of Tim's bedroom. He didn't deserve this. He deserved something less gritty than Bludhaven, less gritty than this life. But Cass knew how he was. Tim would soldier on through anything but it didn't mean that he was untouchable.
"Tomorrow," promised Cass quietly as she turned back to the sky, "Tomorrow . . . I'll get him something." She stared at the city. She didn't know what but she felt something. Something big was coming. She couldn't know what but she knew something big was going to happen.
(Author's Note): More to come soon