Author's note: I want to thank the reviewers for their kind words. As noted previously, I could be picked up by the vice squad as a praise whore. As you'll be able to tell, I found the Madoff thing fascinating. This chapter's kind of long but I didn't want to break it into 3 parts. And, for the record, I had to look up the lyrics of that show tune. I don't know any, not that there would be anything wrong with it if I did!
Dr. Silberman never intended to betray the Teen Titans.
Far from it. He couldn't say so to them in the course of their evaluations, but he agreed that the City Council had behaved like a bunch of children. As near as he could tell, Cyborg hadn't done anything wrong. And yet, there they all were, forced to sit down with him, the city's representative, and prove that they were not crazy or unbalanced. Considering that they were teenagers, they had actually been very well composed, all of them in making a protest or two at how ridiculous the situation was.
After meeting with them and speaking with them, Dr. Silberman had affection for all of them. They were putting their lives on the line every day and what had it gotten them? Not even enough respect that the City could set aside the wild claims of a councilor's four year old daughter. And they were all quite likeable. How could you not like Kid Flash? Or Raven? Even Robin! That had been surprising. After an initial negotiation that had been like some kind of mental warfare, he turned out to be just a deeply hurt teenage boy doing the best he possibly could.
Dr. Silberman felt quietly proud that he had protected them, that his evaluations had shown that none of them were dangerous and that the City Council had been forced to back off. There had been a big confrontation with Captain Doyle, the Metahuman Contol Officer at the Jump City Police Department on the way out of the City Council chambers after delivering the nine evaluation summaries. She'd been furious. How could you say this one isn't a danger?! Or that one?! Frankly, the way she behaved was totally unhinged. She wanted all of them locked up or restricted or wearing ankle bracelets or something. It wasnt' exactly clear. She had some tremendous animus against them but it didn't make much sense. Kid Flash . . is a danger?! What?! Aqualad . . a . . menace?! Simply laughing in her face then walking away was probably the right thing to do. She was the one acting like a walking advertisement for abuse of power.
And the evaluations had been a boost to his prestige at the University too. All the people he respected, Crawford, Renko, Mueller and Furlani, had liked the way he'd handled things, playing it straight down the line.
Even his daughter seemed to accord him newfound respect. He was no longer a man who "talks to crazy people" as he'd overheard her describing him to her friends. He was the guy who'd "met and talked to the Teen Titans for, like, hours!" Shrieks.
One Saturday afternoon shortly after it was over, she and her friends descended on him in his den, at first trying to play it cool but then begging like ravenous dogs.
What's Kid Flash like, Mr. Silberman?! Are he and Jinx still together?! Is he as cute as he looks on TV?! Shrieks.
He has the greatest butt ever, doesn't he?! Double shrieks.
Is Beast Boy as cute as he looks on TV?! Shrieks. Green can be beautiful! Shrieks.
You met Aqualad, too?! Shriek upon shriek. Shriek shriek shriek.
That Speedy is sooooooo cool, isn't he? Shriek shriek shriek.
He self consciously asked them to leave him alone so that he could do some paper work, knowing that being a person who didn't think anything of meeting the amazing Teen Titans made him easily the coolest dad in his daughter's entire school. And then he parceled out a meaningless morsel or two of information.
Oh yes. There were a lot of fringe benefits to having been the psychiatrist who evaluated the Teen Titans. His neighbor, Bob, the former high school football star, who'd previously disparaged him as a "geek shrink" would now lean over the hedge and after some preliminary small talk casually ask about "that one in the short skirt, Starfire". Dr. Silberman toyed with him, telling him only that sex is a completely casual thing on her planet. "We had a few hours to discuss it." Let Boob, as he liked to call him, stew over that one.
More importantly, he imagined that this might be his entry into regular work with metahumans. Sure, the villains could be dangerous, but it was an exciting new field. Hadn't S.T.A.R. Labs put out feelers to the University? What if we need some doctors to evaluate metahumans? Could the University help us with such staffing needs? Well, he would be the go to guy, wouldn't he? He'd just done preliminary evaluations of nine different metahumans, well, seven if you don't count Robin and Speedy, but you may as well for how far off the charts those two are. He imagined a future doing work for S.T.A.R. Labs.
The more he thought of it, the more enticing it seemed. No more listening to rich women whine about how their mother liked their sister better. Look what she got in her trust fund?! Waaa! Waaa! There was no discharging some of those patients. They liked the feeling of importance that someone was being paid to listen to them drone on about the stupid little slights they imagined into meaningful things. He longed to shout "Shut the fuck up!", just once, to one of them. Shut the fuck up! Grow the fuck up! Move on with your life already! Quit obsessing over stupid little shit! There were patients who were overcoming serious trauma but they were distinctly outnumbered by the vanity cases.
Talk to Kid Flash, Raven, Aqualad and Robin or to some rich woman about her ennui. Talk to Cyborg about the nature of being human or talk to Mrs. Gellman about her germophobia. Tough call. Tough tough call.
But then S.T.A.R. Labs deferred the staffing request made to the University. That wasn't such a big deal. It was going to happen in just a few more months, right? That's what Renko and Crawford said. They're contacts told them it was just some procedural snag of some sort. But, after a few more months, they suspended or deferred the request. Different people at the University said different things. Did it really matter? One official term or another. Everyone agreed that what was really going on was that S.T.A.R. Labs had chosen to partner with another University. He had been the only positive factor in S.T.A.R. Labs even considering the University, in the end. In the end, the others with their stupid, parochial research topics such as the frequency of sadness, parental favortism and adult emotional attachment to pets had dragged him down. He almost shouted at Mrs. Gellman the afternoon that he found out. The prospect of listening to her insipid whining for who knows how many more years . . !
No, Dr. Silberman had not intended to betray the Teen Titans. He'd found himself intensely interested in news reports of their activities, stopping to watch brief footage on television and read all available newspaper and magazine stories. He even furtively checked in on the various tv tabloid stories that Jinx was pregnant by Kid Flash, stories which such outlets were trumpeting in June but quietly dropped by September when she was still not "showing". Dr. Silberman identified with the team members imagining that he could predict the interaction of their various personalities at public ceremonies and high profile villain apprehensions.
So, when TMZ, the Enquirer and the others had first made contact, he'd been quick to tell them to fuck off. Oh, they'd been pretty clever. They never contacted him at his home or his office. One day, somebody in line behind him at Starbucks started chatting him up. Hey, I've seen you! You're that shrink, that doctor, the one who talked to all the Teen Titans. Dr. Silberman's chest puffed out, just a bit, and stayed that way, till, a few minutes later, when, finally leaving the place, the conversation abruptly shifted and the guy turned out not to have run into him by accident. He started hinting at money for information. Dr. Silberman threw his coffee at the guy and felt damn good about himself for having done so. He wished he could have told Robin right then. He idly wondered if Robin saw that on some security camera. I protected you guys! I protected you!!
The next time, a few days later, happened in the supermarket and it went exactly the same way. Hey, I've seen you, followed eventually by a half whispered, "we're prepared to offer you a lot of money for information". The stock boys had never seen one customer intentionally knock over another's shopping cart like that.
No. Dr. Silberman had been resolute in protecting the Teen Titans, at first. If he, himself, hadn't been betrayed, it wouldn't have happened. Even after his disappointment with missing out on working with S.T.A.R. Labs. He could always transfer to that other school, the one that seemed about to partner up with S.T.A.R. Labs. They'd want him, wouldn't they? Did they have anyone on staff who'd had sessions with nine superheroes? Had anyone else anywhere done what he'd done? He didn't think so. Even if they had anyone who'd ever sat down with a metahuman, how would they ever be able to cite it, to put it on their resume? But he'd done court ordered evaluations of the Teen Titans. He could put it right there, openly, on his resume without violating any doctor-client privileges. Yes. A transfer to that school was definitely a possibility.
Of course, his wife wouldn't like it. She liked Jump City. Jump City was considered more stylish than Star City. Things like this meant the world to Sylvia. They just had to climb the social ladder. Oh, she knew enough, married to a psychiatrist, to not say ugly things quite so openly. But what else did it really boil down to? And she had been the one to insist that they try to get into the prestigious Jump City Country Club. If they'd never gone into that den of Polo clad phonies . . !
It'd been Jaffe who'd gotten them into the whole scheme. Sylvia had been social climbing with grim determination. She'd set up status base camp among some of the other newbies and volunteered for various committees. Within a year, her extra work and brown nosing had gotten her next to those who dwelled in such rarified air of influence that oxygen was practically necessary to pass among them. It was Sylvia's damn fault! She'd gotten in tight with Jaffe's wife. Jaffe, the board chairman. Jaffe the financial guy. Silberman couldn't have picked him out of a lineup. And he didn't care. But Sylvia was adamant. We're going over to the Jaffes! Fine. Whatever.
He played the game a bit. He brought out his cocktail party big gun. Yeah, I spoke to all the Teen Titans. What are they like? He couldn't even remember what he said. He never really said anything to people who asked. He wasn't about to tell some self-important country club jerk about patients. He could usually steer the conversation to innocuous things about appearance or voices or who was friends with whom that were already publicly available. Jaffe's wife, who he suspected was an exercise addict asked about Kid Flash. Does he really look like . . . Silberman nodded. Zero percent body fat. The woman had to steady herself on the counter. The Jaffes seemed impressed with his connections. The Teen Titans, for god's sake! And Sylvia deftly worked Mrs. Jaffe. He could almost see Sylvia planting a flag on her head, the top of the social climbing mountain. He'd at least been her status sherpa for the last part of it. Fine. But that's all it was, a social thing. A connection at the country club he'd never wanted to be part of anyway. He was glad to be driving home and done with it at the end of the evening. He'd practically had to pry Sylvia out of there. But it was done. They'd had their little social contact with the Jaffes. Now he could ignore all that crap again.
That's why it was so surprising when, the very next time they met, Jaffe put the arm on him. We've got an "in with a sure thing", was what he said. Bernie somethingorother was the guy's name. 12 percent every year.
Down market? So what? 12 percent returns on your investment. But only for select people. I don't make this offer to many people.
Dr. Silberman blanched. He'd seen the report of their accounts. Like everyone else's in late summer 2008, they were tanking. He and Sylvia had lost a quarter of the value of their account in just the last few months.
12 percent every year.
He asked Jaffe. How can that be? Jaffe answered but he couldn't make any sense out of what he said. Fund of funds? Market . . maker? Split-strike investment method? What is all that?
Jaffe tried to explain. It just got more confusing. Jaffe talked about others at the Country Club who were now invested with his man, his sure thing. Fairfax and Weisz and Rousseau. They were in. He made it seem like a special gift to be allowed into their group. Silberman would've admitted his ignorance of all things financial at the slightest prodding. He didn't know what to make of Jaffe's explanation. But he knew that guys like Weisz and Rousseau made dollars multiply like rabbits. If they were in . . .
He wasn't very resistant to the pitch but he was the voice of caution compared to Sylvia. This was just one more way of being tied in to the social elite in Jump City. She would have run their check books over to the Jaffes that night if he'd let her. Things officially occurred a few days later. They cashed all their accounts and sold their timeshare and put it all with Jaffe's guy Bernie.
Two weeks later, Dr. Silberman felt a bit like a guy who had been the last one on board Titanic, like an unfortunate who'd jumped from the pier onto a rope hanging over the side of the Titanic and climbed up just as it left port in England.
Ponzi Scheme! That's what the headlines blared. Fraud. It was all a fraud. Jaffe's guy Bernie hadn't been a genius. He was a crook. The money was gone. It was all gone. Every last cent!
He read the first stories in shock in his office. Hold all my calls he told the secretary as he spread the Wall Street Journal out on the desk.
New suckers pay off old suckers. He felt the blood almost refuse to move within him. He could scarcely draw breath. All the money was gone. The savings of almost 20 years of work, gone. And he'd been among the last suckers before the whole crooked thing had been exposed. There was an angry call to Sylvia. He allowed himself that. You just haaaaaad to get into that country club! You just haaaaaad to work your way into the inner circle, to the Jaffes and the other lead snakes! We just haaaaaaaad to go in with Jaffe and his sure thing! Well, the only thing I know for sure now is that all our money's gone! Slam.
He'd looked down at the phone as the noise almost echoed in his office. He'd had to allow himself that. He couldn't have stayed perfectly composed forever. A lot of people didn't even try. After a third guy took a swing at Jaffe, he'd had to stay away from the Country Club. It was a crazy atmosphere there. Everyone knew it wasn't right to punch another adult in public over financial issues. And, yet, everyone smiled at Jaffe getting smacked. Silberman felt even worse when he heard the explanation of everything out front of the club one evening. It was his last visit to the place. he wouldn't be able to afford dues any more and the prices at the bar and restaurant were outrageous. He was waiting next to the valets for his car and overheard a guy he'd only seen there a couple times, a guy who seemed equally ambivalent about the place explaining to one of the help. There were innocent people conned into investing with Mr. Megafraud, he said. But some of the others who got cleaned out thought that he was cheating in a different way. It was fairly complicated the way the guy explained it, but Silberman thought of Jaffe's attempted explanation when he'd questioned him as to how the guy did it. The two explanations were the same thing! One was said deceptively and one was said openly. Jaffe thought the guy was cheating on the rules and thought it was great. Only it turned out his 'sure thing' was cheating him! Silberman had a hearty, bitter laugh at the irony of the situation but then went home to interminable pondering about what they would do. The evenings with Sylvia were brutal. For all her status lust, he had kept her spending relatively in check so that they could build up a retirement nest egg and pay for their daughter's college education. Now that moderate frugality had been wasted.
What could they do? Their savings for their retirements had been wiped out. And there was no way to make it up.
Unless . . .
No. He wouldn't even think of it long enough to form the thoughts and then dash them away. He wouldn't do that! He was a doctor and he had his pride. That was that. He and Sylvia would just have to slowly build things back up to where they'd been.
When they came again, he wondered how they knew to try? He was ashamed to acknowledge to himself that a part of him wanted them to approach him again. Did they know that he'd been a member at Jump City Country Club and that so many members had lost all their investments thanks to Jaffe letting them in on his "sure thing"? They didn't even bother faking the circumstances of their running into him at Starbucks or the pharmacy, this time.
"Dr. Silberman. We'd like to talk to you about . . . them. We can make it worth your while."
He said he wouldn't discuss his patients. He didn't bother to ask who "them" was. How much did he mean it? He wondered himself as he paid for his double latte. He used to get the triple. But now . . .
As he stepped outside with it, he knew there was no chance he would throw this one.
The conversation was very quick and business-like. The Titans, Doc. Money for information.
Articles in the Enquirer and pieces on TMZ and the like could be successfully attacked in court if they didn't have any factual basis to them. If they had just a little bit . . hehe, well.
He felt like he was moving in a trance. He almost didn't know where some of his own words came from. Auction. Thursday. Where had that come from? Did I even think that before talking to that slimy guy?
And along with seemingly unknown thoughts, Dr. Silberman now had a category of thoughts which were impermissable. Through a constant and exhausting process of mental segregation, Dr. Silberman avoided thinking about the Titans themselves in any other manner than simply brief mentions of the word "Titans". For that short period he may as well not have known exactly what they looked like from two feet away or their stories. A sort of limited denial.
It enabled Dr. Silberman to buy a disposable cell phone. He got the four parties bidding on a conference call. The Enquirer's final bid of $950,000 won. He couldn't quite get them to a million. Two days later, Dr. Silberman met for the proffer meeting. He was to give some hint of what he knew and could tell before they officially signed to pay him. He wore sunglasses and the brown suit that he didn't like, the one that always just sat there in the back of the closet, the one he'd be sure to never wear again because it would be associated with this. He parked three blocks away from the building. When he met them, they were seedy and slimy, just as reeking of moral corruption as he'd expected. He'd felt a desire to tell them to fuck off welling up in him. The wall of mental segregation collapsed. He thought of Kid Flash's parents utterly neglecting him, of Beast Boy losing his and Robin having his killed right in front of him. They'd been so wary of him. He remembered Jinx lambasting him. He came close to walking out of the room a couple times but he stayed. They had already printed out the check. They lay it down on the table in front of him.
Nine Hundred Fifty Thousand dollars
payable to David Silberman
Why couldn't Jaffe have taken these people? They belonged together, these people and Jaffe! And Sylvia! She read the damn thing! Oh, she tried to hide it. It was bad enough that she read that People magazine and US weekly crap. She left those out on the coffee table in the living room. But every so often he would find a copy of The Enquirer in the trash. No, he didn't belong with them even if Sylvia did. But all of their money was gone. And there was $950,000 on the table, just inches from his fingertips.
"How 'bout a taste, Dr. Silberman?"
They kept saying "Dr." Usually he liked it. He'd worked so hard in school. He deserved it. But now he'd just as soon they were calling him "Dave" or "Mr. Silberman".
"We'll let you get your notes and bring them tomorrow. But first a taste, Dr. Silberman? Just a few morsels. Any freaky sex going on there?"
"Any gay or lesbian shit, Dr. Silberman?"
"They got some super hormones going through their veins, Doc, don't tell me the Kid Flash boy and the Jinx girl are the only ones hooking up!"
"There must be some really juicy stories about their backgrounds, too, right?"
His stomach suddenly ached. He was sweating. He felt a throbbing at his temple. He felt like he was in league with Kid Flash's awful parents, with the people who'd killed Robin's, with Trigon, with the Gordanians, with the kids who'd relentlessly taunted Jinx, with Cyborg's failied spleen. He was going to puke. He was sure of it. He spoke as much just to get out of there as anything else. "All-all four. Not just among the seven in Titans West, but you've got a yes on all four points. Really freaky. Really alternative. And a lot of other hookups. And you won't believe where some of them come from, not just Starfire."
Did he say more? He wasn't sure. The room practically exploded with the excitement of the four executives. Luckily they were satisfied. He couldn't have said another word if he'd wanted to.
He rushed out to the bathroom. He puked into the first toilet stall he came to. He puked three times. But the vomiting wasn't as loud as the word going through his head. "Traitor!".
Traitor. Traitor. Traitor.
One of the four slimy executives came into the bathroom afterward, asking if he was okay. Yeah yeah, he brushed him off. Fish or shellfish. He couldn't remember five seconds later which excuse he'd given him. He didn't even see him leave. He just noticed, looking in the mirror before washing up that he was alone. But not quite. There it was. The check. He didn't even remember taking with him as he got up from the table to rush out to the bathroom. There it was, folded in half in his dress shirt pocket. It wasn't even a classy check, just a plain blank blue background. Could an outfit like that do anything with style? Anything!? And now he was one of them. He was their source on the Teen Titans. He washed his face and dried himself with paper towels.
Still not over the edge. Still not over the edge, he realized. What did they have? Yes on all four points. What could they do with that? He wobbled and leaned on the counter for support.
And then his phone went off. It was Sylvia. The travel agency was looking for the rest of the money on the trip next summer, the one they'd scheduled six months ago. Remember, David. Only so many slots. Reserve now. Blah blah blah. The usual bullshit pressure tactics, as though all Paris would be full for summer 2009 before the end of 2008.
There was a long pause.
"David? Are you there?"
He had the phone to his right ear but his eyes were directed downward to the pocket on the left side of his dress shirt.
" . . . fine . . . yes."
"Yes . . send in the rest of the balance?"
"Yes . .send in the rest of the balance. We'll . . we'll work something out."
At Titans Tower, Robin crushed a pen in one green gloved hand as he rose to his feet from the seat at the communications center console.
"I knew it! I KNEW IT!!"
He spun around toward the great room and the giant tv screen. He wanted to sprint. He had to tell them! He thought Beast Boy and Cyborg might be there playing video games but there was no one. He spun around toward the kitchen. Was Starfire making one of those horrible casseroles, or maybe Raven getting some tea? Nope. There was no one.
He started running down the black marble floored hallways. He went past the elevators and down the stairs without even thinking to himself exactly where he was going. His mind was a whirl of thoughts. There were insistent calls to action. Have to tell them! We have to do something! And there were feelings that he absolutely hated, the ones he worked so hard to never let to the surface. I told him about . . ! He sat there and listened to me talk about . . ! He-he saw me weak like that! And now he's gonna peddle it to . . !
He hadn't even known where he was going until he knocked on the door with all the force of the anger welling up in him.
After a few seconds, a muffled shout came from inside. "It's . . a . . bad . . time . . Dick."
This time, it was Jinx's voice, with more anger. "It's a bad time, Dick!"
The door swung open a few inches and Robin saw his best friend, hair wildly askew and naked except for a sheet held at his navel and draping to the floor.
"Dick. This is a bad time."
To his near naked friend's amazement, Robin just pushed the door open further and walked in the room.
Jinx hurriedly pulled a blanket over herself and stared in wide eyed shock as Robin marched over and sat down on the edge of the bed with his back to her. She glared at her husband standing bare assed in the doorway as if demanding that he do something about it. Wally shrugged helplessly and closed the door just as a tea cup, saucer and spoon were hard crashing to the black marble floor out in the hall. He paused a moment then made his way over to the bed as Robin started talking.
"I . . I knew it would happen. Deep down I knew it. I tried to negotiate all the security possible but no matter what there was still him. There was still him! Papers and files we had covered. But there was still him. There was always this worry. I knew it!" he snapped through clenched teeth.
Kid Flash sat down on the edge of the bed beside Robin, pulling the sheet into a ball that he placed over his crotch.
"What the hell are you talking about?" he asked as his wife slid toward that side of the bed and started rubbing his back.
"Silberman!" Robin half shouted.
"The -mmmm- guy who interviewed -mmmm- all of us six months -mmmm- ago?" asked Wally. Dick raised an eyebrow. But then looked over his pal's shoulder and saw his wife massaging his back lower and lower.
"E-val-uated," said Jinx with a faux pretentious gasp.
"Yeah, him. He's talking to one of the gossip mags about us!"
"What? He can't -mmmm- do that! He's-he's a doctor. He took an oath. -mmmm- He-he's not supposed to talk about -mmmm- what we tell him!"
"Well he's gonna, Wally."
"Are you sure, Dick? -mmmm- How do you know?"
"I tracked him."
"You . . tracked him?"
"I didn't trust him."
"You don't trust anyone," snapped Jinx from behind them.
"He was getting secrets from us," said Robin over his shoulder, momentarily disconcerted at how far Jinx's hand had instinctively worked it's way down Wally's back. "I-I told him things about me that only Starfire and Wally had ever heard."
"Oh my god. I told him about my family . . about my . . my father . . about . . Zoom," muttered Wally. Jinx moved closer and leaned her cheek against his back while wrapping an arm around him. "I-I don't want everyone knowing that my biological father was a villain. They-they won't understand."
"And he must have gotten information from Raven and Cyborg and Beast Boy and Speedy and Aqualad, too!"
"You . . told him about your parents?" asked Wally, quietly. Robin hesitated then nodded slightly and Wally saw a very unusual expression. Hurt. His invariably determined, resolute friend was hurt. Wally wrapped one arm around Robin's shoulders and pulled him to his side as Jinx shifted to rubbing Robin's back. Wally patted his friend's head. He didn't doubt that Robin had only ever told him and Starfire before this. This really hurt his pal. He'd never felt betrayal in regard to the pain that had set the course of his whole life.
Robin's thoughts swirled. He wasn't used to this emotional feeling of being knocked off balance. He wasn't used to his feelings interfering with his quickly issuing instructions, barking out commands to the other Titans. He was vaguely aware that Wally was half hugging him. He felt a pat on his head and the hand rubbing his back felt good too. Quite good. It felt so natural to give in to it. It was Wally. He went along with it. It was so easy to go along with it. It felt warm. It felt good.
"I told him about my -mmmm- mother and father being . . . killed right in front of me and he's going to sell that to the -mmmm- National Enquirer!" he whispered.
Maybe it was saying the publication's name out loud reminding him of the need for action. Maybe it was Jinx's hand finishing its instinctive journey down his back.
He jumped up from the edge of the bed rubbing the back of his green spandex pants.
"What're you doing?
"Sorry," said Jinx with a roll of her eyes distinctly implying that Robin had overreacted. "You've got a nice pair. Not like his, but-"
"Don't be a perv!"
"Says the guy who walked in on two naked people."
"I . . . what-whatever! We-we have to . . do . . something," said Robin, staring, a bit doncerted, suddenly fully realizing that his pal was naked except for some linen dropped over his crotch and realizing that along with her hand massaging him his naked best friend had been hugging him. Just a short jump to Roy and Garth territory from there!
"Come on, Wally! Cover up."
"Like she said, you're the one who barged into our room. Besides. I've got the sheet."
Wally shook his head in disbelief. "Fine." A split second later he was sitting in the exact same spot with his Kid Flash suit on but the cowl left down loose around his neck.
"How bout me?" said a grinning Jinx laying in a pinup girl pose with a blanket barely covering what had to be covered.
He saw her exchange glances with Kid Flash but wasn't sure what they were saying to each other.
"Dick, how do you know that Silberman's selling us out?"
"I told you. I tracked him."
"Are you sure you're not misinterpreting his actions or things he's saying?"
"Wally. I know where he goes. I set up some special precise parabolic microphones. At first he wouldn't play ball. But I think he lost money in that big Ponzi scheme."
"Wait, let me guess. And, he got desperate and what could he do to make up the money except sell our secrets," said Jinx easily diagnosing what had happened.
"That's it," said Robin. "Listen to this," he added and pulled his Titans communicator out from under his green glove. "I got this from a special microphone attached to the street light on public property just outside his office. I think he made this call over a disposable cell phone. It didn't look like his usual one."
Robin leaned forward and pressed a couple buttons on his communicator.
"TMZ bids seven hundred thousand," said a voice Kid Flash and Jinx recognized as Silberman's. "Do I hear eight?"
"Eight hundred thousand from The Globe," came a less distinct voice.
"I have eight hundred thousand. Do I hear nine?" said Silberman's voice.
"Nine hundred thousand from E," said another voice.
"Nine Fifty from The National Enquirer," said yet another voice.
"Nine hundred fifty thousand is the bid," said Silberman. "Do I hear a million? . . . . One million? One million dollars, Anyone? . . . . . Nine hundred fifty thousand going once . . . going twice . . . sold to the Enquirer for Nine hundred fifty thousand."
There were a flurry of signoffs as the other bidders dropped the line and then Silberman and the voice representing the Enquirer went on to set a time and place to meet. There still hadn't been any mention of the Titans until. The Enquirer's voice said, "You've got to give us something at that meeting, doc, we can't just take your word you've got dirt on all those spandex clad junior justice leaguers!"
Robin turned the recording off with a press of a button.
"I do not wear spandex!" sniffed Jinx.
"What-what else do you have?" asked Kid Flash.
"Okay, after that meeting I checked out the Enquirer's building in Jump City, the floor plans and where they typically met outsiders. I set up more special parabolic microphones directed at the likely room. It took me a few hours to combine the results from all the microphones in sync. One would get someone facing one way and speaking. Another would get somebody else. So, I devised an algorithm to separate out each distinct voice and to compare sound quality in one second bites so that street noise interfering from one direction or another could be-"
Robin suddenly noticed Jinx gesturing with one hand in a circular motion. Let's wrap it up, little bat!
"Right. I-I recorded the meeting. Here's the part after they put the check for $950,000 in front of him."
"We'll let you get your notes and bring them tomorrow. But first a taste, Dr. Silberman? Just a few morsels. Any freaky sex going on there?"
"Any gay or lesbian shit, Dr. Silberman?"
"They got some super hormones going through their veins, Doc, don't tell me the Kid Flash boy and the Jinx girl are the only ones hooking up!"
"There must be some really juicy stories about their backgrounds, too, right?"
There was a pause and then Silberman, sounding oddly weak said, "All-all four. Not just among the seven in Titans West, but you've got a yes on all four points. Really freaky. Really alternative. And a lot of other hookups. And you won't believe where some of them come from, not just Starfire."
"He sold us out!?" snapped Kid Flash.
"No, not yet, but he's going to tomorrow. Tomorrow he's going to give them everything he knows."
"We could always kill him," said Jinx.
Robin turned toward her with a frantic look.
"Just, um, just kidding," said Jinx with a casual roll of her cat like eyes. "Or I could . . persuade him to keep quiet," she said letting loose a pink laser of hex energy, like an acetylene torch, from the tip of one finger. "It's been known to work. Trust me."
"Honey! You promised!" grunted Kid Flash.
"Oh alright. I won't."
"Whatever we do, it has to be quick," said Robin in his insistent leader voice. "Tomorrow they'll know all kinds of things that we don't want spread around to villains and the general public."
"Could we get the Enquirer to not print anything?" asked Kid Flash.
"How? They've paid the guy almost a million dollars. They must want something for their money."
"We could threaten to have Silberman kicked out as a psychiatrist," suggested Jinx.
"Hmm. That's got some promise," said Robin now pacing the room as Kid Flash and Jinx watched from the bed. He started mumbling to himself the implications of various courses of action and scarcely noticed Jinx sidle up to Kid Flash and the two of them whispering back and forth for a minute.
"Dick! She's got it!"
"You've got a way out of this?" said the Boy Wonder to the pink haired sorceress.
"Uh huh. See, Speedster and I went to the movie house that shows old movies a couple days ago, the one next to Jump University. And guess what they were showing?"
"The Ipcress File!" said Jinx with a triumphant flourish of a gesture with one arm.
Robin shook his head, bewildered. "What . . what does that mean?"
Jinx sighed. "You may think that typing out case files is the only way to make a meaningful contribution to the team late at night. But sometimes experiencing some culture can be more worthwhile."
Robin sighed. They never missed a chance to rip on the case files thing. Never.
"It's a great film, maybe the best spy movie ever," Jinx informed him.
"The . . Ip-cress File?" Robin repeated.
"With Michael Caine," said Kid Flash. "He plays kind of a cool wiseass working for an uptight jerk who wants him to fill out all these files. "
Robin sighed. Never.
"I think his hair was kind of reddish, too."
Jinx nodded. "The parallels are . . . eeeeeeeerie!"
Robin grunted and gritted his teeth.
"Anyway," continued Jinx, "part of the plot is that these scientists get sort of brainwashed so that they function normally except they can't remember anything at all about their particular fields of physics and, well, I won't spoil it for you. You should watch it. You could put it in our Netflix cue."
"I know how to get a hold of movies!"
"Well, don't you see? We should do the same thing to Silberman," she added in a tone as if speaking to a child.
"Without the days of deprivation and near torture and playing all those funky sounds for hours and hours," added Kid Flash, to Jinx.
"Of course not. What a bother! Besides. I think there's a better way," said Jinx with a cheshire cat grin.
Jinx nodded then Kid Flash stood up facing Robin and spoke in a highbrow english accent.
"Listen to me . . . . . Listen to me, Grayson . . . . . . You will forget the case files . . . . . . You will forget all about the case files noise."
Robin could only sigh helplessly as Kid Flash and Jinx fell over laughing. Never.
T-Car2 was crowded. Cyborg and Robin sat in the two front seats, Beast Boy and Raven in the middle row and Starfire, Kid Flash and Jinx in the back row. Though, it was, to all outward appearances, a faded blue minivan, sitting there at the ground level of the underground parking garage facing the elevators up to the 5th floor of the office building where the Enquirer rented space. The "minivan", with its tinted glass, had been there for a half hour. Cyborg had driven around the underground garage first to make sure that Silberman wasn't already there. Robin had memorized the license plates of the Silbermans' two mercedes. And even if he parked on the street, Silberman would enter the building here.
"Friend Zatanna was very nice to help us on such short notice," said Starfire with a nod for emphasis, gazing toward a figure hidden in the shadows a few steps from the elevators. There were several nods of agreement.
"I'm just glad I won't end up with a tail and fur being around her, this time," said Kid Flash to smiles from all the girls and worried looks of recollection from all the boys.
"It's early, speedster," said Jinx.
"Pipe down, you two!" demanded Robin. "Here comes a mercedes."
A silver, top of the line sedan rolled slowly into the parking garage. It went right past the apparent minivan to a parking space 50 feet further down.
"He looked right in here," said Beast Boy. "You're sure this thing is cloaked?"
"Of course," said Cyborg. "When he looked in this vehicle, he saw a mom in the front seat trying to deal with a baby in the other front seat and a brat kid in the middle row of seats.
Raven looked at Beast Boy. "Sometimes the cloaking program barely has to do anything."
"Come on!" demanded Robin in a frantic whisper. Silberman was walking past the van now, with a leather case in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
Before he got to the elevators, a stunning dark haired woman in high heels, fishnet stockings, a snug topcoat with tails and a top hat stepped out from the shadows.
"Yes, who are-"
"Ouy lliw tegrof gnihtyreve eht neeT snatiT dias ot uoy ni ruoy snoisses htiw meht!" she commanded. "Revenehw uoy era deksa tuoba eht neeT snatiT uoy lliw start gnignis wohs senut!"
Silberman felt a wave of warmth pass quickly through him then snapped out of the trance state he'd been briefly in.
"Who are you?" he asked the woman who was suddenly right in front of him. She fixed him in a piercing gaze.
"Is there a copy of your evaluation notes in there?" she said pointing to his briefcase. He felt another wave of warmth.
" . . . yes . . " he answered limply.
"Give them to me."
He opened the briefcase and did so.
"Is there another copy anywhere else?"
" . . . one paper . . one electronic . . at my home . . . in my desk"
"Nehw uoy evael ereh, og thgiarts emoh dna nrub htob eht repap dna eht cinortcele seipoc."
" . . . yes . . . "
Zatanna stepped past Silberman and snapped her fingers. He felt a sudden cooling and looked around. He saw an odd woman walking away from him but only shrugged and reached for the button to bring the elevator.
Robin moved from the passenger side front seat to squeeze in between Beast Boy and Raven in the middle row bench seat. Zatanna got in and took the vacated front seat as she was showered with thanks by the Titans.
"I'm happy to help."
"Okay now, everybody," explained Robin as he pressed a button and the T-Car's radio started playing the sound from an office five floors up. " I set up special parabolic microphones directed at the room where they're meeting. Using the results from the last time I recorded them in that room, I wrote a special algorithm to process the sound on a two second delay. It took me a few hours to figure out how to automatically combine the results from all the microphones in sync. One might get someone facing one way and speaking. Another might get somebody else. So, I devised another algorithm to identify different speakers and instantly test sound volume and quality against a predetermined base standard for volume, clarity and sound-"
Robin suddenly noticed Zatanna gesturing with one hand in a circular motion. "Let's wrap it up, little bat!" she muttered to a carful of snickers.
"We'll be able to listen in," said an offended Robin and just as he finished, they could hear the door of the room opening and three, no, four people greeting Dr. Silberman. They heard them all sit down and then the lead speaker of the four.
"No time to waste, Doc. Let's strike while the iron's hot. We'll bring my assistant in here and she'll take dictation of everything the Teen Titans said to you."
"Yeah. Marcy, get Ellen in here and let's get this party started."
"You know, I do think he was going to behave a bit opportunistically," said Jinx from the back seat.
"Yes Mr. Grinkel," said a new voice just entering the room.
"Okay, Doc. Give us your best stuff on the Teen Titans."
"Yeah Doc. What is this?"
There was a sound of someone getting up from their chair and then Silberman's voice was heard in full, deep operatic warble as if trying to be heard by the back row of a theater.
"Sooooooome enchanted evening
You may see a stranger
You may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
"Doc, are you nuts?"
Again and again.
"Doc! This isn't funny!"
Some enchanted evening
"Hmmph. South Pacific," noted Zatanna with one raised eyebrow as the others all chuckled and then she patted Robin's shoulder. "Take me to my building," she said to Cyborg. "And drive the way I would. Don't be a danger to yourself or others."
"Aw, Z! Don't worry," said Cyborg and he started the car and then started out of the garage.
"Let's hear it for Robin's obsessiveness!" shouted Beast Boy from beside him as he patted Robin's shoulder and everyone followed suit before he led the vehicle in a chant of "OCD! OCD! OCD! OCD! OCD!"
"That's not funny," said Robin as the chants were dying down into chuckles. "Some people have real problems with OCD. Not me, of course, but . . "
The vehicle filled with laughter.