Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. This is basically my take on the OYL storyline started in the new issue of Robin. I like the fact that Cass is in Tim's book, it makes the couple easier.
WARNING: I tried to stay as much in continuity as I could therefore there are spoilers for the end of Batgirl, Infinite Crisis #6, Robin #148, and possible spoilers for upcoming issues of Robin since this story is based on speculation and whatnot. You've been warned.
The first thing he noticed when the beating let up was that his R's, as he had taken to calling them, had stuck into something, something soft. Tim Drake opened his eyes and saw a limp body lying on the ground in front of him. To be more specific, it was Batgirl's limp body.
"No," whispered Robin as he immediately knelt and checked the body for a pulse. Finding none, Tim quickly yanked off the mask and stared into the eyes of someone who, thankfully, was not Cassandra Cain. It was instead Lynx, a big Gotham crime boss. He breathed a small sigh of relief before he began checking over the body. There were stab wounds where his R's had struck but when Tim examined the costume he realized there was no Kevlar lining inside it.
"What?" asked Robin. He heard the wail of sirens. This wasn't going to be pretty. Robin turned to slip away and felt a blinding light pierce his eyes. The lenses in his mask automatically began adjusting themselves. He wished they hadn't. He didn't exactly want to see how much trouble he was in.
"Freeze!" ordered the police officer, "Hands in the air and down on your knees!" Robin admired the cop for not granting him any special favors just because he was a local celebrity. However, Tim wasn't going to roll over and let someone get away with framing him.
"Man, first Nightwing and now you," said one cop. Dick was killing people? Tim knew he would have to mull that one over some other time. Currently, he had to get away and figure out what was going on.
"Sorry," whispered Robin as he shot a grappling line upwards, catching it on a building and hoisting himself into the shadows. A few cops squeezed off some rounds but none of them hit Tim. Tim could've dealt with that. At least getting shot came with the territory.
"Cass," whispered Robin as he made his way back to Wayne Manor, "Where are you?" He had spent a year in Budapest with Dick and Bruce. They had gotten their act together. But he had received a note telling him that Cassandra Cain, Batgirl and someone he loved as a sister, was in danger. He never told the others and instead simply left on his own. Now this had happened. Did it mean Cass was already dead? Was he too late to save another person he loved? No. He was a detective. He had to know the truth. Whether she was alive or dead, Tim had to know the truth no matter the cost. He would have to sneak into police headquarters and get a coroner's report on the body. There was no way he could've killed her judging by the way rigor mortis had already started setting in.
She watched the display with mild amusement. Everything was proceeding as intended. She had merely wanted to see Tim's reaction when he had discovered the body. He had acted just as she would've expected him to act. In that respect, she was slightly disappointed. She was always right. She could read people like books, better than books, and she could always read between the lines. She was always right. He had never loved her. How could he have? It was stupid and naïve of her to expect it. The wind kicked at her purple dress, softly tugging on it as if it was a lover calling her to bed. She smiled and nodded, heeding that call and slipping back into the shadows, back into the only home she had now.
As far as the police were concerned, Batgirl was dead. That didn't faze Tim. That girl was not Cassandra Cain and therefore that girl was not Batgirl. It was a setup straight from the word "Go". It was obvious but only to him because he knew who Batgirl really was. Had this whole charade been meant specifically for him? Was the real Batgirl dead already, buried in some God-forsaken piece of ground who knew where? No, he couldn't accept that. He refused to accept that. Tim pulled the letter out of a pocket in his belt. He had run a few tests on the handwriting but the world-famous Bat-computer had turned up nothing. This meant, to Tim at least, that they were dealing with a pro and a pro that they had never come across before.
"Couldn't have happened," muttered Tim as he stared around his new apartment that they had created from some of the stables on the manor's grounds. Lynx's body had been dead for at least a few hours before his R's struck. Any coroner would be able to correctly place the time of death. Unless, of course, the coroner was on the killer's payroll and could falsify an autopsy report. That would mean the killer was someone with influence or worked for someone with influence. At least he had something to go on.
"I heard about it on the police channel." Tim turned to see Bruce Wayne standing in his doorway. He was decked out in his full Batman regalia save that the cowl was pulled back to reveal his face. Tim watched him approach and noticed the traces of something he hadn't seen in Bruce Wayne's eyes for what seemed like forever. Genuine concern from Batman.
"It was Lynx," informed Tim flatly, "You know she wasn't Cass and you know I didn't kill her."
"I know," replied Bruce, "It's a setup." They had worked on building trust. That was what the year in Budapest had been about. But they left Cass behind. They had tried to look for her but she had disappeared.
"I can call Gordon," assured Batman, "We have that other case to work on but whatever you need from me . . .."
"This one's mine," stated Robin, "Thanks for the offer, Bruce, but I have to take this one alone." The note he received was addressed to Tim Drake. The frame job was meant for Robin. This was his case and his alone. He knew the killer wanted it that way. He also realized the killer must know his real identity.
"Whatever help you need," reminded Bruce.
"Thanks," replied Tim. Bruce trusted him now, really trusted him. Things were finally starting to look up. He had to find Cass though. His parents, Stephanie, Conner, all of them were gone now. He refused to lose Cass too. Being a detective was about imposing order and reason on a world that seemingly had none. You had to make the world make sense. Well in Tim Drake's view, the world needed to make some sense again and he needed to find Cass in order for it to do so.
"All units," crackled a voice over a police band, "break-in at S.T.A.R. Labs facility on the outskirts of the city."
"Go," ordered Batman as he slipped on his cowl, "I've got to meet with Gordon about the other case." Robin nodded and moved towards his bike. It was going to be a very long night tonight.
She still had on the purple dress. Oddly enough, it was a dress her mother wore often. She marveled that it seemed to fit her perfectly. It was almost as if the dress knew her destiny, knew that she was meant to become her mother. No, not just her mother. Mother and father, a perfect mix. She would be better than either of them alone. She had killer's blood in her veins, blood born from the union of two perfect killers. This was her destiny, her heritage.
"I have an assignment for you," she told the man in front of her. His costume was bright yellow, incredibly gaudy even with the top off. She had taken many attempts to reeducate him, to teach him to become what she referred to as "colorblind". Those attempts had met with moderate success. The man before her simply nodded from his position on his knees. One of her retraining methods had just taken its toll on him. The cuts were still fresh as she scanned his bare chest. There were scars from other beatings as well, lessons well-learned and ones she hoped he wouldn't forget.
"Go to the S.T.A.R. Labs place," she instructed, "Lure him out so I can see him."
"What do I steal?" asked the man. The sting of her hand across his face made him wince.
"Theft is not your mission," she told him, "Your mission is to make him come to us."
"Yes, Miss Cain," said Shrike.
"I will confront him first," assured Cassandra Cain, "After I've seen enough then he is yours."
"Yes, Miss Cain," repeated Shrike as he stood on battered legs, bowing to his employer and turning to leave. Cassandra turned to stare out the window of her office. He would come. Batman was busy with other things. He would could instead. She wondered if Tim had missed her in that long year. She knew he had been in Budapest. She herself had been everywhere, recruiting and collecting the pieces of her legacy. There was no Batgirl anymore. There was just a young woman named Cain. The trip into the Lazarus Pit and the fight with Shiva had made her completely aware of her legacy. Pain, suffering, death. She ran from it that night when she was eight years old. But eventually, legacy catches up to you in the end. The blood pumping in your veins owned you body and soul. When you had killer's blood, you had a killer's soul. You couldn't run from that.
"He will come," said Cassandra Cain, as if reassuring herself, "and he will die like everyone else."
The whine of the cycle was incessant and demanding. Robin knew it was eager to get some action. Truthfully, Tim knew he wouldn't mind some action either. The latest development in his life left him wondering just who was in the shadows pulling the strings. Whoever it was, he wanted them to step out and face him. He used the shadows, yes, but he didn't prefer them when it came to confrontation. Darkness was a weapon but not his home.
"Alright," said Robin to himself as he parked the bike and quickly scanned the area. There was only silence, too much silence. These weren't common criminals. Common criminals made noise when they took things. They thumped about and made themselves well known. These were pros. Robin quietly pulled out his staff and made his way to the front door. He rapped the end of his bo against the door before kicking it in and walking into the building. No sound was made in response to his entrance.
'Definitely professionals', thought Tim.
"Tim." The voice was low but loud enough that he could pick it up. He knew that voice.
"Cass?" asked Robin as he looked around. It seemed so long since he'd heard her voice. They should've looked for her more. He needed her.
"Tim." The voice was somewhere else now, almost beckoning him to follow it.
"Cass, stop playing games," said Robin as he tried to find her, "Are you alright?" There was no response as he slowly began moving towards the direction of the voice. Where was she and what was going on? He heard noise coming from above. Maybe she was in trouble.
"Hang on," whispered Robin as he secured a grappling line and zipped up to a catwalk that ran around the large room. He knew it must be a testing room of some kind. It seemed the very important stuff was kept on a higher level.
"Tim." He knew where she was going now. She was going to the roof. Maybe the thieves were escaping. Maybe her language problem had somehow worsened and she couldn't tell him everything. Or possibly, it was some kind of trap set up by whoever framed him. Robin cautiously made his way through the roof hatch and felt the cool night air envelop him once more. He had become increasingly thankful for warmth after seeing what winter in Budapest was like. He surveyed the rooftop and saw her standing at one edge and gazing into the night. That purple dress looked beautiful on her, doing everything to show him the tone and curve of every muscle. She looked as beautiful as he remembered her looking.
"Cass?" said Robin in a low voice, "Where're the goons? You take care of them already?" She turned but did not respond. He relaxed his senses as he approached her, maintaining his guard but not fully. This was Cassandra Cain. She could've killed him by now if she wanted to.
"Can you talk?" asked Robin. He was so close to her now. He wanted to sweep her into his arms and give her the most passionate kiss ever. He had missed her so much. So many nights he had longed to see her smile again or feel her touch. He was so wrong for giving up on finding her.
"Say something," pleaded Robin. Cass responded in a very Cass-like manner: she acted. Robin felt the blow across his jaw as she backhanded him. It felt familiar, like he had experienced it not too long ago. It wasn't the same love tap-style blow she used to hit him with while they were sparring. This was the real thing.
"Cass?" asked Robin as he touched his jaw. There was a flicker of regret in her eyes and then out came her foot, quicker than a cobra striking at its prey. Robin managed to throw up a hand and block the kick, twisting his body sideways to get away from anything else that might be coming.
"Look, I know you're probably mad," said Robin as he ducked to avoid another roundhouse kick, "I tried to find you, Cass. I swear to God I looked everywhere I could." He was already formulating theories. Anger? Mind control? Evil clone? Robin felt her hand thump against his chest hard as she gave him a backfist. A kick hit him in the stomach. There was no quarter here. He had never seen her fight like this.
"Cass, listen," begged Robin. His bo deflected a punch but he felt her foot smash down into his kneecap. She knew everything he could do. This wasn't a fight he could win on physical prowess alone. Truthfully, this wasn't a fight he could win period.
"Fight," ordered Cassandra. Robin looked at his former partner in confusion. Cassandra smashed her palm into his jaw and knocked him onto his back.
"Fight," ordered Cassandra again.
"No," replied Robin, "I'm not gonna hurt you, Cass."
"Then die," assured Cassandra as she suddenly vanished into the shadows. Tim weakly stood up, testing his leg to make sure that blow to his kneecap hadn't crippled him.
"Cass, wait," called out Robin, "Cass, where are you?" A throwing blade sang through the air and Robin barely had time to dodge it.
"Miss Cain is busy right now," assured Shrike as he came into view with a sadistic grin on his face, "You'll have to settle for me instead." Miss Cain? Robin quickly readied himself as Shrike closed the gap between them. This was already a long night and something told him it was going to get even longer.
(Author's Note): More to come as the plot thickens.