I still hate my chapter endings. Every single time, I hate them.
Disclaimer: I am a college student. own nothing.
Chapter 8: Arguments
Tim groaned, rubbing his temples and willing the frustration headache to fade despite the constant interference to the contrary. Beast Boy hadn't given up on his little quest, he was continuing to point out more and more inexplicable ways to wheedle information about 'the future' out of Tim. Alternate-Raven was getting more than a little frustrated.
"But what if we…"
"But we could…"
"But it wouldn't…"
Beast Boy pouted, crossing his arms over his chest and jutting his lower lip out as he plopped back on the couch. "Fine. But I think we should at least be able to ask a couple of…"
"…About stuff we already know, sheesh!"
Raven narrowed her purple eyes at him over the top of her book. "If you already know, you wouldn't need to ask."
"C'mon, he's a smart kid!" Beast Boy insisted. "He'd know what would mess stuff up, no problem."
"Drop it, B.B.," Cyborg warned in a tone that indicated he was far more amused by the situation than he wanted to let on. "He's already said he's not going to mess with it…"
"I'm right here, you know," Tim muttered from the couch.
"…So it's better to just drop it."
Tim sighed and glanced at alternate-Dick, who had a strange expression on his face. Tim had enough experience with reading masked eyes to know that alter-Dick was pretending to be watching 'B.B.' and Raven argue, but was actually looking to Tim behind his white-out lenses. The gaze had a cautious, worried feeling that made Tim wish he'd heard the opening phrases of their conversation about his origin. Alter-Dick didn't really trust him, Tim wasn't going to delude himself about that, but now there was something more there…
He glanced up at the accent voice and let his guard slip. This Starfire was rather gentle, not even her presence as demanding as his Kori'ander. "Yes, Starfire?"
"You seem to be somewhat distressed," Star said softly, hovering a few inches off the ground. "Perhaps your displacement in time has made you uncomfortable?"
"I'm fine, don't worry about me," Tim sighed and stood up, letting his cape fall around him comfortingly. He moved to the window calmly and looked out over the bay. "What city is this? I don't recognize this skyline."
"You're in Jump City, man," Cyborg said brightly. "Best city on the West Coast."
"'Jump City'?" Tim frowned. "Never heard of it."
"No joke?" Speedy asked, quirking an eyebrow. "How about Steel City?"
Tim muffled a bit of a snort, just out of common courtesy. "You're joking, right?"
Beast Boy popped his head up over the top of the couch. "Dude, then where is your Tower at?"
Tim hesitated a moment, then shrugged. What could it hurt? "San Francisco."
"And the original was in New York," Tim sighed. "No big deal."
There was a rush of wind and then Kid Flash appeared at Tim's side. He pushed a photograph into Tim's line of sight - the group shot of his friends, in front of their Tower. "That's this Tower, right? In San Fran? And these guys are all Titans, like you, right?"
"Yeah…" Tim reached out slowly and took the photo back. "But I don't know how much I should tell you…"
"Well, you don't hafta tell us where they came from or anything!" Beast Boy chimed in eagerly. "I mean, we already know they're there, so you can just tell us who they are and leave it at that, right?"
Tim sighed and placed one hand against his forehead, glancing away from the expectant green eyes and towards Raven. The spell caster looked like she was at the end of her rope and summoned another book to start her research up again. Tim turned back to the group, raising his hands in defeat.
"Okay, fine," he sighed, glancing back at the picture again. "Yes, these are my friends - my Teen Titans. Who are you so curious about?"
Kid Flash snorted. "Oh, I dunno, thekidinmysuit?"
"He's my Kid Flash," Tim shrugged. "The second one."
"But…But where did I…?"
"I can't tell you."
"Okay, fine," Speedy jabbed a finger at the yellow-hooded girl. "Who's the chick with the arrows?"
"The second Speedy."
"Your Speedy's a girl?!"
"Yup," a little smirked crawled over Tim's face. "She's a natural."
"But what happened to…"
"I can't tell you!"
Starfire's expression became serious as she took off across the room to land beside Tim. "Timothy, if I might inquire…"
Tim turned to her with a soft smile, relieved to have someone at least somewhat calm to talk to. "Yes, Starfire?"
"Do you know of the Nightwing?"
Alternate-Dick's head shot up and Tim blinked. "How do you know about Nightwing?"
"Then you do know him!" Starfire cheered, seeming pleased, and Tim swore in the back of his mind at the slip. "Please tell me, has he been well?"
"He's…fine," Tim blinked several more times, as if the strange conversation would just disappear if he willed it hard enough. "But I don't understand…how do you know…?"
"Let's just say we've met," Beast Boy grinned, a pair of sharp canines glinting in the light.
Tim blinked again and pressed his fingers against his forehead to soothe the tension headache. "Oh-kay. I guess I asked for that…"
"So, how do you know him?" Beast Boy pressed, nudging Tim's side and raising one eyebrow in an expression that Tim wasn't sure he wanted to grasp the implications of. "You guys, like, related or something?"
"You could…" Tim swatted the green elbow that had been bruising his side, "…say that."
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Alternate-Dick pale a few more shades. The view was blocked, however, by Speedy planting himself on the couch on Tim's opposite side, trapping him in place with a cock smirk that was all-too-clearly searching for some 'juicy' tidbit. "And how, exactly, could we say that? Like, what, is he your old man?"
Tim choked on hi own saliva at that statement, coughing for a full minute before he finally got it under control. "My…wha-?"
"Your old man, your pop," Speedy's grin widened as he leaned in, wrapping one arm around Tim's shoulders and pulling at a lock of the dark hair. "'Cause you know, from what I've been hearing, you two are an awful lot alike. Same hair, same fighting style, same gadgets and stuff…"
"Nightwing…my…No!" Tim jerked out of the grip with a disgusted expression, still trying to process his answer. "He's not my…ew! Just, no!"
Beast Boy's pointed ears dropped like a disappointed puppy. "So he's not your dad?"
"No!" Tim insisted as he jerked away, his face twisted up in a scowl that was almost starting to show the slightest bit of amusement. "Jeez, I'm not that young! He doesn't have anything like that, besides, Roy's the one who's got a-"
He trailed off, realizing that he was saying too much. There was an awkward silence, until Starfire piped up. "'The one who has got a…' what?"
"Who's 'Roy'?" Beast Boy asked, his face blank.
"I think I need to lie down," Speedy muttered, and flopped onto the couch cushions that Tim had left empty. The smaller Robin rubbed the back of his head and looked somewhat guilty for the slip, even if no one had really understood it.
"Okay, that's enough," Robin, looking a bit more under control than he had been before, though still slightly tense, finally pushed away from the wall. He crossed the room to reach to bank of monitors that were set up against the wall. "We don't have time to be messing around. Right now, we have more important things to worry about, like finding Chronos."
"Easier said than done," Cyborg shrugged, crossing his arms over his broad chest. "For all we know, he's already time-hopped into the next century."
"I don't think he can."
All eyes turned to Tim again and Raven pursed her pale lips, raising a single slender eyebrow. "How can you be sure?"
"When we were fighting, I pulled something out of his machine," Tim dug into the evidence pocket of his utility belt and pulled out the flat silver disk. "He freaked when he realized it was missing, and when he escaped, he only jumped through space, not time. I don't think he can time-travel without it."
Cyborg hummed to himself curiously, taking the piece from Tim and holding it up to the light. "Sounds like you yanked he chronological stabilizer. If he tried to jump with this, he could wind up anywhere. Er…any-when."
"So, as long as he's missing that, he hasn't left this time," Tim added, noting, with some amusement, that Beast Boy and Kid Flash were looking more than a little baffled. "And he's probably going to come after it."
"Unless he builds a new part…"
"That's unlikely," Time smirked. "I don't know what it's like here, but he's got a bit of a reputation back home for being something of a bumbling moron. He stole all of his technology, doesn't know a thing about actually using it."
"Good," the Titan's Robin cleared his throat to draw the attention back to himself. "That means we can predict his next move and plan for it."
"We can stick around ifyouwant," Kid Flash suggested with a grin, obviously looking forward to the offer.
"That isn't necessary," Robin's face remained blank. "You've got your own cities to worry about."
"No worries, man," Speedy chimed in, though he still sounded a bit ill. "With Bee and Aqualad and the twins, Steel City's in good hands."
"Yeah, and Jinx can handle Keystone with no problem!"
Robin's expression hardened. "I said it wasn't necessary."
"Anyway, the first thing to do is figure out where Chronos has disappeared to," Cyborg twisted around to the nearest console, punching in various commands that flickered across the screen. "I'll set the scanners to look for any anomalies in the city's electrical grid. He might still be trying to test the thing."
"And Raven, you keep looking for a way to get the kid back home without that thing," Robin instructed. The sorceress nodded and lost herself in her books again. "The rest of us should start buckling down and preparing in case something unexpected happens."
Starfire sighed and took to the air again. "As you wish, Robin."
She slipped out the door, presumably heading outside to absorb sunlight in preparation for the upcoming battle. Beast Boy shifted into a dog and stretched out on the floor of the living room, apparently deciding that the best thing he could do right now was get some rest.
There was another localized rush of wind and suddenly Kid Flash reappeared at Robin's side. "Are you sure you don't want us to stick around. 'Cause we totally can, you know."
Robin put one hand on the redhead's yellow-clad shoulder, his expression friendly, but not entirely honest. "No, thank you. We'll be fine. Thanks for your help, but I think we can handle things here for now."
Speedy kicked his legs and jumped over the back of the church. "Whatever you say, Rob-man."
Robin nodded at the two visiting Titans as they left the room, turning his masked eyes to the screens. He folded his arms over his chest as he contemplated the information, taking it all in at once. There had to be something here that they could use, something that didn't add up or was out of place, some clue, however small….
He turned at the tapping on his shoulder and found himself face-to-masked-face with Tim. The younger Robin had a sour look on his face, and it automatically put the elder in a bad mood. "What?"
"We need to talk - privately?"
Robin narrowed his eyes at the kid, ignoring the curious glances that Cyborg and Beast Boy were shooting them out of the corner of their eyes. They had a bit of a glare-off for a few minutes, before Robin finally made a silent move for the hallway and Tim followed after.
The moment the doors had slid closed behind them, Robin turned on his heels and glared at the newcomer. "What?"
Tim, like a good Robin, was unfazed. He crossed his arms over his chest and settled into the shadows of the unlit hall as though he belonged there. "What is your problem?"
"I don't have a problem," Robin retorted, fighting down the defensive shudder of tensing muscles that rolled up his spine.
"Could've fooled me, you've only been glaring holes in the back of my head all morning," Tim shifted, adjusting his cape so that it fell around him more comfortably. "I understand that you're uncomfortable with this whole thing, we're in a seriously weird situation here. But we're just going to have to deal with it for a while."
Robin pursed his lips together. He was being lectured by a kid. A kid in his costume. "I'm aware of that."
"Right…" Tim quirked his head to one side like a bird contemplating whether the tasty-looking seed was worth hopping into the stranger's hand. "Look, this is going to seem kind of rude, but somebody has to ask…"
Robin shrugged wordlessly, prodding him forward.
"What are you hiding from?"
Robin jerked back before he could control the reaction. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"What are you hiding from?" Tim repeated evenly. "What are you trying to keep out? Why are you always hiding behind that mask?"
"The same reason that you do," Robin snapped, nipping his tongue to remind himself to keep his temper in check.
The response seemed to placate Tim somewhat, though he was still watching Robin cautiously. He crossed his arms over his chest as they studied each other, then the younger Robin sighed. "I'm just trying to…understand. Why haven't you told them?"
"The other Titans. Your friends."
Robin's frown darkened. "Told them what?"
"Who you are."
"They know exactly who I am."
"Really," Tim frowned at him the same way that Batman did when he was dissatisfied with an answer, and it made Robin's blood boil. "They know about the circus?"
The color drained out of Robin's face, but he kept his exterior cool. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Then they don't know!" Tim snapped. "They don't know anything about you!"
"What, you think you do?"
Tim looked at him with a glare that had to be lifted straight from Bruce. "I know everything about you."
Robin bit his tongue again. "Bullshit. There's no way."
"There is a way," Tim repeated, his voice lowering to cover a secret. "I know you, I knew for years, before you knew me. I watched, I figured it out. Dick, I…"
"I told you not call me that!"
Tim's calm façade finally cracked - he looked ready to strangle his counterpart. "It's just your name!"
"My name is Robin," the Titan's leader bit out.
"It wasn't always like that," Tim stepped back and took a deep breath. "Don't you…can't you understand? You can't forget where you came from…you can't just forget that. Back then, you…you were my hero…"
The older Titan crossed his arms over his chest, scowling as he tried to understand the younger's words. "Robin is supposed to be a hero."
"Not Robin. You," Tim insisted, looking about ready to throw in the towel and anything else he could get his hands on. "It was never about Robin, never about Batman, it was about you. You were the one I followed, the one I wanted to be like, and I can't believe you'd want to hide that!"
Robin blinked once, then again, the sound almost audible in the deafening silence. His mouth opened and closed a few times, hoping that an appropriate response would find its way out, but none came.
Tim glared at him for a while, giving him a chance to defend himself. Finally, he sucked in an aggravated breath and shoved forward, his fists clenched tightly at his sides. "Nothing to say? Fine. Just, fine."
He shoved past the other Robin almost viciously and stormed off. The Titan's leader followed his path with his eyes, finally giving up on the lost words. He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Oh boy…"
"Dude, that was nuts."
Robin jumped and twisted around. Beast Boy and Cyborg were staring at him from the cracked living room doors, and the realization drained the color from his face. "How…How much did you hear?"
Beast Boy quirked an eyebrow at him. "What, man, you got something you didn't want us to hear?"
Cyborg knocked their green-skinned teammate up the side of the head for his lack of tact. "We only came in for the end. That's all."
"Oh…" Robin muttered, letting his cape fall around his body protectively. "Good."
The other Titans glanced at each other and shrugged. Beast Boy disappeared back into the living room again. Cyborg stepped out and approached Robin calmly. "So…what're we going to do?"
"About him?" Robin sighed, glancing down the hall distractedly. "I don't know…"
"Actually, I was talking about Chronos."
Robin blinked, then remembered what he was supposed to be doing and forced the serious expression back onto his face. "Right. Of course. We need to get back to the monitors…"
He pushed past Cyborg without much enthusiasm and headed back for his original post. Cyborg watched his friend out of the corner of his non-electric eye, clicking his tongue thoughtfully. Whatever the kid had said, it had really ruffled Robin's feathers…
He shook the thought out of his head and went back to work. As the Fearless Leader had said, they had more important things to be working on. Whatever problems Robin - the Robins - were having were just going to have to wait.