Disclaimer: Alright, so I'm going to tell you now that I don't own Teen Titans. I never have and never will. I also don't own anything that has to do with DC Comics. It's very sad, I know (I'm trying to keep from crying), but hey, what can you do?
Official Summary: Loopholes, deception, disappearances. Puzzle pieces that need to be put together. A villain watches from the corner of his only eye the Boy Wonder. But Robin has another problem, too. It's an ever-growing fight with the Dark Knight. A father-son story.
Author's Note: This chapter was written up early, but I've edited it now and have rewritten some of it to fit the main plot of the story. I actually originally wrote part of this while writing "What?". So yeah, you readers get it a little late, but that's okay. All of the other chapters will be fresh and no one else will have read them. The whole story is one that I have been really excited about for a long time now. I couldn't really decide on a genre either. I hope that readers will enjoy this and I assure you, I will take the time to make this a story worth reading. So how about I stop typing and let you get to reading? Here is "Custody: Chapter One: High Society"!
Part One: Introduction
Chapter One: High Society
The party dragged on for hours. Despite the fact that all the guests were distantly related and none of them actually knew each other, none of them had objected to the chance to attend the party at the large manor. The huge chandeliers were glowing brightly and radiated an illuminating sheen onto the high pearly white marble walls. Large staircases were cut off, but still their elegant design were marveled by those who had not been to the manor recently... or at all. The designs held a rare beauty that came from the mid-19th century. They were taken care of ever since the Wayne brothers of Solomon and Zebediah had purchased the manor.
The building itself had been updated as time had passed. The latest security systems had been added to protect the old manor and its contents. But it still held a castle-like state and was surrounded by vast and beautiful gardens. Farther out was a cliff, but people never went there, unless they wished to write up their will and final words. The other astounding feature of the manor was the view of one of the largest cities in the United States. It even gave New York City a run for its money.
Gotham was large and growing. Over three vast islands and three smaller islands were apartments, business enterprises, a mono-rail system, a couple of parks, port systems, a game stadium, and of course a police department that never turned off its lights. An airport was on the outskirts on the main land, and pilots would savor what they could before their next flight, which was probably very soon. Despite the grand description of Gotham, it was nothing like Metropolis, because its grandeur was fading. The slums were getting worse. The old gargoyles were breaking away at points, making them look even more deformed. And criminals walked around the Narrows and many other places in broad daylight.
Gotham had once been a large part of the industrial revolution. But now, many years after the depression, people were still homeless and the government seemed corrupt. And it was. Yet it was still comparable to the NYC and Metropolis downtown. The structures shot up from the ground in diamond and silver fashions. And still, the manor was one of the only things that had barely changed... well, mostly. It was still in possession of an heir to Gotham's "First Family". And the Prince of Gotham was still single...
There was a punch bowl in almost every room, but the contents were all the same. Lemon-Lime soda flavored with cherry syrup, making Shirley Temples. Around each table were cookies, little brownies, fudge, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate fountains, sweet (and steaming) rolls, shrimp, and tiny plates for the guests. Only the best.
Waiters came through the crowd, serving tiny hors d'œuvres and caviar. Their host was frantic and was trying to keep the party running smoothly. He had agreed to it after all. He had been the one to propose the idea of a family reunion here, anyway. It didn't make much sense. There were few people that actually knew each other very well and if they did know each other, it was only because they did family history.
None of them were really in close contact with each other and none of the guests, save for one, were really in the immediate family which generally included parents and children. Beyond that were a few grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, and cousins. Even then, that was under 20, maybe even 15. So branching out even farther, were second cousins, third cousins, aunts and uncles of their families, and the even more distant relatives. Overall it took several tries on-line to find enough people to really call it a party at Wayne Manor.
Out on the patio was dancing. The sun had set a couple hours ago and the bright moon and stars (away from the bustling city) shone down and provided what light the torches did not. There was a sparkle to the water that could been seen far out by the cliff. A young man in his mid-teens was standing by one of the torches twirling around what contents were left in his small party glass of punch. Not very amusing, but then he hadn't been one of the guests all too thrilled to come anyway. Then again, neither had been the host.
The boy had ebony black hair that had been smoothed back by a decent amount of hair gel. He wore the tux. He wore the cummerbund. He wore the black shoes. He wore the bow tie. He wanted to go back. There were very few younger children here and many of those who were didn't even qualify as pre-teens. The boy had been reluctant to come, but had traveled back home for the occasion.
Yes, he was one of the few that could call the place a home. Ever since he had been eight years old, he had been a resident at Wayne Manor. It's not that he didn't like the place. He knew every twist, turn, corner...and every other place that there was to find. He had even seen the 'basement' of the place. His blue eyes looked upon the dancers.
No one he knew was dancing there. His blue eyes directed themselves up to the stars, where he kept them longingly for a couple minutes. He sighed when his neck became strained and walked back inside. The bugs weren't out, but he needed to get back in and 'socialize'. Ha, as if. Who would he talk to? When he reached the main entrance, he looked up the stairs wishing that he could just run up to his room to get his iPod. But, no. He wasn't allowed to do that during the party. Not anymore. He was a teenager now and expected to put up with parties like an adult.
He turned to get his seventh glass of punch when he ran into an old friend, "Dick, how are you?"
"Fine, Clark." He feigned happiness.
"Party getting dull or did it do that a couple hours ago?" Dick laughed at the comment
"You really can see through people." Dick said to Clark.
Clark was probably the closest thing he had to an uncle, even though they weren't related legally or by blood. Clark had dark black hair too, but, was by no means a teenager. He was actually more around Dick's guardian's age (which was what? early-mid thirties?). Clark Kent lived out in Metropolis as a reporter for the Daily Planet. He was a good friend and didn't hesitate to come. While he would never say it, he did agree with their butler in that neither of the residents here did a good job socializing. Well, Dick did an okay job, but not Bruce.
"How's that Jump Private School treating you?" Clark asked.
Dick smiled. "Fine, most things are running smoothly."
Truth was, Dick didn't attend a private school out in Jump. That's just what the press had been told to cover up for his absence in Gotham. That had always been a bit odd to him, that the press would care about where he was or what he did, but he had accepted it after the first three years. Dick was living on his own with four good friends. They lived on a distinctly well known piece of property, though nobody in Jump knew that Richard Grayson, ward of Bruce Wayne, lived there.
Speaking of Bruce... "Clark, how's the party treating you?"
Bruce had a similar build to Clark. Both were very strong men and with broad shoulders. The difference was that Bruce really had to work out for his muscles. Clark could take it easy, the farm boy. Bruce made the duo of black haired heads a trio. His was also smeared with hair gel like Dick's, but he had a pair of startling gray eyes instead of blue.
"Do you really have to ask, Bruce?" Clark responded, dully.
"Yeah, I know. Listen, Clark, you can leave if you want," Bruce told his friend.
"And I can't?" Dick asked, as though accusing the man of something.
"You live here," Bruce retorted, leaving no room for an argument.
"Not much anymore," Dick mumbled which was rewarded by a hard glare. "Fine, I'll go and 'socialize'... like you do."
Bruce found it hard to ignore Richard's sarcasm and shook his head. Clark gave him a look that just read 'Really?' and Bruce rolled his eyes...which landed on a lovely Selina Kyle coming their way. Selina Kyle was another good friend and was not related to Bruce or Dick. She and Bruce would run into each other on many occasions. Not that either Clark or Richard liked her too much, but Bruce... well he was undecided. In situations such as these, he put up his act as always. What Clark could never figure out was if it wasn't totally an act or not...
"Bruce," she smiled at them with pearly teeth, "Clark Kent, right?"
Clark nodded and she continued, "Clark, would you mind if I borrowed Bruce from you, now would you?"
"Not at all, just return him," That was another thing about Clark. He could crack a joke and Bruce could barely crack a smile. Bruce looked at Clark to excuse himself with a nod and Clark nodded back. As Bruce went off with Selina, Clark decided to head for one of the refreshment tables again, thinking about home and wondering how Lois and Jimmy were. They had been working on a story that he would have helped out with, but this party conflicted with it.
Dick walked around just looking bored. After refilling his glass of punch again (he had already needed a few bathroom runs), he went into the lounge that was full of couples. He leaned against the doorway just thinking, 'Wonder what the guys are doing? Hope they're handling Jump City alright.' He watched the people move about and talk to each other. Most of the older women would pass and he'd smell the strong scent of perfume that made you think that they had had the perfume since their first date at sixteen. The older men would sit around and talk philosophy with nothing better to do then politely counter each other.
Of course there were others. He looked over at a refreshments table where he saw two women, one short and plump, the other tall and a stick. They looked like the number ten standing next to each other. A man came over and interrupted them. They began to chat as though they were long time friends. Which they weren't. Dick knew that. A woman with brown hair up in a bun came by and walked around to get a drink. She bumped into another man, also with brown hair, and spilled the drink over his shirt.
Yes, this is what he was doing. Observing people doing acts of no value whatsoever.
Dick found himself going back out to the patio where a crowd was surrounding the dance floor. He pushed his way to the edge of the crowd and what met his eyes was, well not surprising to say the least, but not really welcomed either. In the center of the dance floor was Bruce doing a fancy waltz with Ms. Kyle. And Dick came in just in time to see Bruce twirl Selina in and dip her down, smiling. Being the rich playboy was a talent of Bruce's that he had refined to be very convincing, but Dick could see when Bruce was acting or not...normally. Right then, Bruce looked very happy. .
Dick knew that it wasn't true. He wasn't. He'd never be. That's how it had always had been and Bruce made no effort to change it. Ever. Bruce wasn't this guy who spent his weekends in hotels spending time with actresses and models. Bruce didn't stay at home, either. He'd go out at night and try to stay out until the crack of dawn, where he'd come back to the Manor and fall asleep on his bed.
Dick would do that, too. Or at least, he used to do it all the time when he was younger. Now that he lived out in Jump, he didn't get to do it that much anymore. Dick didn't need to, actually. His friends told him to rest and go to sleep. Like he would. Dick would stay up late. He'd read over files and try to piece together the parts of puzzles that never seemed to end or had missing pieces to them. If he slept at all at night, he'd get about three to five hours.
Richard walked back inside and found Alfred standing at the doorway, "Getting tired, Master Dick?"
Alfred never got out of the habit of always greeting him or Bruce by 'Master Wayne, Master Bruce, or Master Dick'. While at parties, Dick would always insist that people called him Richard, but he didn't mind when close friends like Alfred or Clark called him Dick, though. His mother and father had. Had. They weren't around anymore...
"No, not really," Dick responded.
"Well, you're getting tired of the party, are you not?" Alfred asked.
Alfred was the old butler of Wayne Manor and had a fine British accent. He had been around for a long time and had known Bruce ever since he was born. He had known Martha and Thomas Wayne, Bruce's parents as well. Dick had never met them. Alfred also knew the manor inside and out as well as several skills that had saved their lives on occasion.
"Yeah, kinda... no offense, you know how to throw a party, but the violin music is something I'd only enjoy if I had a date, Alfred. And you know that Bruce would choke and die if he heard I had a date," Richard said.
Alfred laughed at the remark of Bruce's opinions, "True, true. Do you wish to go to bed or just go up to your room for the rest of the evening, then?"
"If I can't do anything else," Dick told him.
Alfred knew that he wasn't ready for bed. He knew that while Dick's room was full of things that any teenager would die for, he wouldn't be interested in them. Dick had not come back to Gotham City for the party, not really. No way. He was here to keep the paparazzi at bay, but if he could get something out of it, like being in Gotham for a night, it would probably be worth it.
"I'm afraid Bruce would want to leave the manor now as much as you would, but it wouldn't be the best idea, Master Dick." Dick looked disappointed at Alfred's comment, yet he had expected his idea to be rejected.
So instead, Dick sneaked upstairs through the kitchen and up to his room. It was large, but just as he remembered it. It was painted a bright red with a white ceiling. The floor was made with mahogany wood and the bed was positioned directly opposite the door. It was a queen-sized bed, but didn't have the frills that most queen-sized beds had. Red and black sheets lined the bed and pillows were covered in red as well. The bed was a lush cloud to lie on at night and was ready for its owner's head after being untouched for so long.
To the right was a TV system with games, VCR/DVD/Blue-ray players, DVDs, Blue-ray disks, videotapes, gamestations, stereo, surround sound, and full quality cable access all neatly placed into the wall. To the left was a large walk-in closet with suits, day clothes, and tons of gym clothes also waiting for use. In the far right corner was a doorway to the bathroom that had a marble white sink, Jacuzzi tub, a shower, fluffy white and red towels, and other luxuries. Lastly, it held a small container of his favorite hair gel. Spoiled? One could have called Dick that, except for the fact that half of those items had remained untouched since they were brought in because of lack of interest, and they were never asked for in the first place.
Dick walked in and closed the door. He looked out the windows that were on either side of the bed and saw once again the view that always mesmerized him as a kid. It was a magnificent view of Gotham City bustling about, never sleeping. He sat down on his bed and eyed the small compartment under his bedside table. Hesitantly, he pulled a key out from inside his pillow and opened up the compartment. Inside were two round electronic objects. One was black and turned off. The other was also off, but was goldish yellow with black marks on it and had a black "T" in the center.
He picked that one up and flipped it open. He was about to turn it on, when he realized what he looked like. Throwing his hand to his head, Dick messed up his hair so that it was spiked up in a way that would make some of the older guests down stairs faint out of the shock of teenage styles today. He dug farther back into the compartment and pulled out an opaque white mask with black rims. He placed it over his eyes and just breathed. Man, he loved the feeling of the mask on his face. It was like being without clothing on sometimes when he didn't have it on.
Now, he turned on the device. It lit up and a large room appeared in front of him...along with his four friends: One half human/half robot Cyborg, one half human/half demon Raven, one Tamaranian, Starfire, and one green changeling, Beast Boy.
He smiled, "Hey guys! Guess who."
Beast Boy turned his head to seem him on the huge window sized screen, "Robin, dude! How's Gotham?"
Robin laughed, "Ever been to a party meant to bore you to death?"
"Sorry, Miss Lane," Jimmy responded, as he pulled himself up from the ground.
Lois got up and unconsciously rubbed her bottom. She had been standing on his shoulders, attempting to hot-wire a camera on the outer wall of the building. It was late, but she had to get this story. Perry expected it by morning.
"I almost had it!" She said as she bit her lip in frustration.
"Miss Lane? Don't you think Luthor would have a back up, anyway?" Jimmy asked.
"Olsen, that wouldn't matter if we could just get in there." She told him, "This party of Luthor's is big. That party list wasn't even released to the security guards."
Needless to say, they were not on the guest list. Jimmy watched as Lois started to look around once again for some means of getting in. If there was anything, she'd find it. There were a couple street lights on and they were clearly visible to anyone who would pass by. But then again, not many people were going to pass by LexCorp at night. There wasn't much need to and there were not many people (including employees) who even wanted to.
Jimmy sighed, "Miss Lane..."
"Lois, Jimmy, call me 'Lois'. It's not that hard." She told him.
That's what she always had told him to call her and yet he never could manage, or at least, not without reverting back to 'Miss Lane'. Lois had on her work clothes of a peach-pearl suit with running shoes. She was a natural beauty with black hair and finely toned skin, and if she actually wore make up to work, well, all bets were off that the new kids would start to flirt with her. Unfortunately for them, Lois never tolerated that. And only the new kids would do it because they didn't know of her little... crush. She was there to work and that's what she would do. And she could do it well, even if a bit of danger happened to get in the way.
"Lois," he repeated and continued, "Why do we care what Luthor's doing? He's just going to get away with it like he always has."
"Not always, Jimmy," Lois answered, while scanning the building.
Jimmy normally was all for catching Luthor in some criminal act, but when it cut into his beauty sleep and his chances of getting a good picture were one in a billion, he wasn't totally up for it. Especially when they could possibly find evidence later.
Jimmy let out a snort, obviously irritated. "He gets stopped by the Man of Steel and gets out of jail three months later? Tell me how that's not getting away with it."
"His reputation gets chipped away at, that's how," Lois responded.
In truth, that had just happened and she didn't blame Jimmy for being mad about it. She was, too. And then to see that the mild-mannered one, Clark, had been furious, well that was rare in itself and was enough to give anyone a free pass at being mad.
Finally she sighed in what sounded to Jimmy like defeat, "Well, I guess we can always just stake out the building."
Jimmy's eyes bulged. It was already eleven, "Um, Miss La, Lois, don't we need to sleep?"
"Oh, go sleep you big baby. Give me the camera, I'll stay," Lois said, while grabbing the camera from around the young photographer's neck.
Jimmy smiled. That was Lois and he wasn't going to argue. If he had to be called a 'big baby' to get some sleep by Lois, so be it. People who didn't know Lois might, but he wouldn't. The Chief, er, Mr. White (as Perry would tell Jimmy to call him) would have a story in the morning, no doubt about it.
"Alright, good luck, Miss, Lois. Hope you have Clark's luck," He said, leaving the other star reporter of the Daily Planet standing at the bottom of LexCorp waiting for the opportunity to grab her story.
Jimmy only glanced back once, but his thoughts were mainly on falling onto his bed as soon as possible. He waved once at Lois and went home. Lois waved back as she watched the plaid-dressed boy went back home. She sighed and looked up to the top level of the building where inside the lights were lit and taunting her. And yet, even if she knew who was inside, that wouldn't exactly deter her from getting in. Actually, it was more likely that she'd try harder if she did know. The same night that Clark was gone at that Wayne party... He'd better have a story about that for Perry, too.
Lex Luthor's party was similar to Wayne's. The fancy food, the music, the works. Barely any kids and only a few teenagers who were mostly nineteen. Yeah, it was restricted, big time. And for good reason. And by that, it's really a good reason for only Luthor and his guests. Unlike Wayne's party, the guests were... different. Not family, thank goodness. But they were all odd in some way. Some without manners to begin with. Some sick minded, others who couldn't get enough of rare steak because of the juiciness. Yet some were quiet well composed.
They were here from everywhere. Some used magic. A few were from other continents. Others were trained. Some were just plain crazy. The Calculator drank punch while Talia Al Ghul avoided him. Brother Blood talked with Madam Rouge about France. Brainiac fought with the Riddler over who was smarter. The Silver Swan was flirting with Ares. Cheshire talked with David Cain and Poison Ivy. The Society reborn. Larger, but without purpose.
Joker looked at the pie in front of him thinking about the waste it was and wondering why he had come here. Pathetic. This man didn't know how to through a party. And the freaks here. Sheesh! Did the man have a problem or something? And where was Luthor, anyway? What was the point of having them all here? If it had anything to do with Superman, he didn't care. He looked around to see if there was anyone that wasn't as... creepy to talk to. He spotted a man down the table. He was tall, muscular, and his blond hair had some gray in it. Normal enough.
"Hey buddy? What do you think of all the freaks and freakesses here?" he asked and strolled up to him with light hearted insanity in his voice and laughter as he draped an arm over the taller man in the blue suit.
The man turned to look at him. Well, that was it, that's what had made Luthor invite this guy. He was missing an eye and his other one was staring icy daggers at him. It even made Joker lose his grin.
"I don't think I quite understand what you are saying, Joker. I find the guests delightfully entertaining."
Joker smiled again insanely. He liked this man; he had a sense of humor, "Humor! Love it! What's your name?"
But he never got his answer. Someone came up to the two and dully (which Joker despised) stated, "Luthor would like to talk to you in his office, sir."
The man nodded and followed, leaving Joker to pout over having no one to talk to again. The office was dark with only the computer to light up the room, giving it an artificial feeling to it. The door closed and the guest looked at the chair which was facing the opposite wall.
"You're the one that they call Deathstroke, the Terminator?"
"I am." He took a seat as Luthor spun around to face him, the computer light brightening his face up like a ghost.
"Call me Slade, Luthor, Deathstroke has become more a ... title." Slade told him.
Titles, they all had them. But at least this man was modest enough to acknowledge it. Luthor smiled. So far, he liked this man. "I have a problem that I would like you to solve."
Slade leaned back in his seat. "What kind of problem, Luthor?"
"Business. Purely business. This person has been a thorn in LexCorps' side for years, even while being stationed in a different city," Luthor said, calmly and in hushed tone, "I've had it. I have a couple... projects that I want to finish. Their owner, he won't comply. It's simply the last straw."
Slade sighed for a moment as he thought, but finally spoke, "Luthor, I'm sure that you know that I don't really do that anymore, I can, but... I'm sure that you know about my work in Jump. I can't exactly just leave that unattended and I don't really need to get a job to pay my rent."
"I'll pay good money for it with added supplies and I'll give you all the time you need, as long as it doesn't go over a year."
"Untraceable money?" he asked, stroking his goatee in thought.
"Is there any other? Plus benefits," Luthor countered, "I don't care how it's done really. As long as they're out of the picture."
"So you want an assassin to pull out that thorn?" Slade asked calmly after a moment of silence.
A/N: Okay, that's chapter one. Sorry it was so long. I wanted to establish the basis of the story first. Other chapters will probably be shorter, but as a writing addict I guess you can never tell with me. How was it? R&R! Chapter two is in progress. I don't know how often I can update (lots of work to do), but my minimum will be at least once a month. Although I might be able to update every two weeks. Not sure. Well, tell me what you thought of it the first chapter! Later!