I was glad. When Sue was murdered and we thought Jean had been attacked and then the Drake man was killed…I was glad that the Sandsmarks had not been targeted. I would do anything to spare her the pain of losing her mother. I would do anything to spare myself the pain of…
After weeks without any opening, I finally appeal to Clark. I don't want to, but I know he understands. He can shoulder my burdens for a few hours while I do another duty.
When I arrive before the Titan's Tower, the Changeling is the one who comes out the greet me. He smells of wet dog.
"Hey, Wonder Woman?"
"I have an appointment with Cassandra."
"Uh, sure, well." He looks confused, scratches at his ear and then leads me inside, up to the training room where Cassandra is. She's training. I'm very pleased to see that. Robin throws something at her it forces her into an acrobatic maneuver. With Bruce's family you never know if their toys will also explode.
I wonder for a moment why she doesn't fly, but I realize that it doesn't matter. She needs to practice physical ground exercises. Robin seems satisfied, and shoos her off the floor. It's all very clinical.
Has he told them yet? I wonder…
Cassandra sees me and a smile breaks out on her face.
"I was wondering when you would finally have some time for me."
"It has been too long," I agree. Her hair has gotten much longer. I consider commenting on how lovely it looks.
"We're almost through with training, if you don't mind waiting about fifteen minutes?"
I nod, and smile. "I would enjoy watching."
Her teammates have convened in a circle. Robin is giving instructions. I notice the towering alien woman is no longer present. I recall someone mentioning that in a meeting.
They break apart into teams. Cassandra is with Speedy, Cyborg, Changeling and Kid Flash. The others are with Robin. A good match up. The fight begins playfully, until Robin's match up with Changeling goes sailing out the window. The others follow, taking the battle into the lawn. I watch for a short time from the window. Robin twists in the air and grabs hold of a tree. I quickly lose sight of him in the leaves. Beast Boy, of course, transforms into a bird.
None of them will be injured in a fall; I'm not particularly impressed. I do rather like how Kid Flash runs down the side of the building, however. He's different from Wally, in ways I didn't anticipate.
I jump down into the courtyard in order to continue watching. The heat of battle has their tempers flaring. Even Robin. He's fighting Cassandra now and holding his own quite well. He's annoyed though. He is like Bruce in ways I do not understand.
He does something reckless, leaving himself completely open. Cassandra is surprised, but she cannot pull back her attack, too much momentum.
He goes tumbling through the air, I hear her gasp. The others freeze and watch as I take several quick strides forward and catch the boy. He and I are both perfectly aware that his arm is broken.
"Oh, Zeus. Tim, I am so sorry," Cassandra begins, flying over to us.
He grits his teeth, but I can feel the rumbling growl that comes out of his throat.
Cyborg comes to take him from me, but I smile and offer to get him to a hospital myself.
The boy is angry. The emotion is thrumming off of him in waves of heat. Cassandra can feel it and her eyes are downcast. The empathic girl, Raven, attempts to help, but the boy really does snarl at her. He tells her to leave his emotions alone. He informs me that he can walk, but I do not set him down and he is not so stupid as to fight me.
The hospital is not far, and by the time we arrive he has calmed down. The doctors take him away to put a cast on his arm and I turn to console Cassandra.
"He did that to himself," I say curtly.
She sniffles a little. "But I should have had more control!"
I shake my head and put my hand on her shoulder. "He was reckless, you were not."
"I've made it worse," she whispers. "He's already so…so…and now I've just gone and messed it all up for him. Even more…Hera, he's so angry."
The other children on the team seem to agree with her and I frown.
"Cassandra, I was watching, he left himself open and walked right into your attack. He is responsible for his actions."
"Dude, Cassie, Batman is going to be pissed," Superboy says.
I glower at him. "Stop, all of you. If necessary, I will talk to Batman."
"He'll be angry with Robin," Cassandra groans. "Oh…Hades…"
There is some kind of issue that I am not privy to. I hold my tongue for the time being.
Thankfully, the doctors here are quick. Robin is returned to us post haste and we go back to the Tower before any reporters have a chance to show up. Robin doesn't look as sour as I had expected. Cassandra continues to apologize to him the entire way back, until at last, he tells her to stop and hurries his stride into the building.
Cassandra sighs, her shoulders drooping. Changeling hurriedly offers to make lunch. Cassandra invites me to stay, so we could finally visit. This distresses me, because I have heard Wally's tales about Gar Logan's cooking. Cyborg intervenes into Beast Boy's plans, and the entire team breaths a sigh of relief.
There is a tray set up for Robin, which I offer to take. I have a desire to speak with the boy for a few moments. Cassandra seems liable to argue with me, but I smile and give her a hard look. That's the end of that.
I catch the tail end of a comment about my breasts as I leave the dining room. I hear the low thunk as Cassandra hits whoever said it. That makes me truly smile.
When I get to the hallway with the quarters, and know which one is Robin's because the door is shut. I knock, not out of politeness, but because he is like Bruce. The door will be locked and armed.
I hear the click and turn the knob, even before he says I can enter.
"How do you feel?" I inquire, setting the tray down on his desk.
"Like I've just broken my arm and won't be able to patrol for weeks because of something stupid I did," he replies tersely.
"Cassandra seems to feel you are angry with her, not only for injuring you, but something else."
"It isn't her."
"Why doesn't your team understand that?"
He glares at me. I can tell from years of working with Bruce. Their glares are a tightening around their mouths.
"You all depend on each other. You should be more open with them."
"They know my father is dead," the boy snaps. "And it isn't about losing him. It's about all the time I lost…" He stops because he's stunned he's said anything at all. My heart goes out to him. I sit beside him, because he's a child. They're all children and they're in a much more difficult time. Oliver Queen argues that this time is not any more complicated, because the past was not simpler. I reserve the right to disagree.
"I lost my mother," I tell him. It is common knowledge and it does not feel like the confession it could have been. "Robin, Tim, if there are things you need to say, I am capable of being a confidant."
His smile is wan. He probably has a mental image of being stretched out on a psychiatric couch. The image is a bit amusing, I admit.
"I've made everything too complicated," he murmurs simply. "I've made so many twists and turns that even Batman, especially Batman, can't…relate. With no one to relate to I can't cope. Considering how smart I'm supposed to be…one would have thought I would foresee such an issue."
"You and Bruce are both rather conceited in that way."
He looks at me in surprise and laughs. "I…yeah. Our similarities are a bit distressing…"
It's my turn to be surprised and he's clamming up.
"I will not repeat this conversation to him," I soothe.
"I don't want to be him." His mouth twitches oddly. "But I…it feels like everything is out of my control. That's all I have. I don't have super speed or invulnerability or shape shifting. Just control over what I do."
There is this heavy silence, where he wants to say more. I wait him out.
"My father didn't approve. Of me being Robin. He was a selfish bastard and I want to hate him so much. He left me at the wayside for almost my entire childhood and then used me to appease his guilt." He stares at me, I like to think I can almost see his eyes behind that mask. "He dumped it all on me. I felt guilty, lying all the time…to help someone who…acted like more of a father to me than he ever did."
"Have you told this to Bruce?"
"No. I…no. He wanted to adopt me. But I…" he bit his lip and I could tell I would not be able to coax the rest out of him.
"You do not wish to be him."
"When I go back…he'll just tell me to rest. I can't do that. I can't ever get away. Because if I quit or slack off or-or rest. Then he died for no reason."
I pull him to me in a hug. His body cords up, resisting, but he's just a little human boy.
"It is trite, yes, but…you have friends here. They worry for you and they understand your pain, even if they cannot relate."
"Don't tell Bruce," he whispers.
"I promise." I let him go and motion to the food. "Please come eat with everyone."
He raises an eyebrow at me. "So they can laugh at me as I try to eat one handed?"
"Someone might be persuaded to assist you."
"That would be less humiliating?"
"It would make Cassandra feel better and…what is so wrong with accepting help when you need it?"
"Good question, you tell me."