Always thought Robin and Beast Boy's friendship got neglected in both the series and on this site. They're my favorite characters in Teen Titans too. : ( No more frowns for me though. I can fill in my own blanks! : D
I accept constructive criticism but I don't have nerves of steel so mind your manners please. You may still get your point across, just don't be a jerk about it. Please no flames, drastic changes or begging for pairings in the story. I might sprinkle a little romance here and there but it's not my specialty. This fic is Action/Adventure/Friendship/Humor – my favorite multi-categories! Hooray! : D
Reviews are always appreciated and they make the chapters come faster. Enjoy!
At Titans Tower, everything but the security system had shut down for the night and gone into standby. Only the security system remained active to conserve power. The hour was late and the team was fast reaching their set time to turn. Although the tower should have currently been empty, lights started to flash on, racing ahead of a certain pair of footsteps to the main den.
With his cape whipping behind him like a black and yellow sail, Robin marched into the den with a purpose.
Upon being paged by a certain number, he had gone straight from his patrol to the tower with no deviances in between. He was aware of nothing else; not the mountain of dishes that it was his turn to wash, nor that Silkie – their unusual pet silkworm – was currently devouring its fifth throw pillow that week. The only thing Robin cared about was the remote next to the creature.
He switched on the screen; the display stretched across the wide windows, declaring that it had one new message.
Though Robin's masked eyes narrowed at the message, and what he knew lay behind it, he didn't click it open. A simple message wouldn't be sufficient, so he called the number instead. He didn't take a seat but stood in wait as the phone rang.
His former partner never kept him waiting long.
The screen flashed to life, displaying a rocky cave that he knew well, and a rigid face which he knew better. Neither of these familiar things made him feel the gushy, homesick nostalgia most would feel; instead, he felt a certain degree of contempt. They'd not separated on the best of terms.
"Need something?" Robin asked snidely, getting straight to the point.
"Two years and that's the welcome I get?" Batman returned. Robin, knowing the subtle ticks of his mentor, figured that the man's eyebrows had risen slightly beneath the cowl. Batman, of course, wasn't expecting an answer; he didn't receive one.
"You pulled me off of patrol, and I almost lost a mugger in the streets because of the distraction."
"But you didn't."
"No, I didn't," Robin said, irritated at feeling patronized. "But don't think that you can just call me whenever you please and I'll coming running like a dog. I have my own city to manage."
Batman had the tact not to bring up that Robin had actually just done that exact thing: run to his call like a dog. The headstrong boy had outgrown the need to impress his guardian when he had hit twelve, and he sure as hell didn't feel that he owed the Bat his undying servitude. His reasons for calling back were strictly professional; he was sure his mentor's were the same.
The Dark Knight wasn't calling to catch up with his young ward.
"There is a case that I've been investigating for some time," Batman stated, delving straight into the specifics.
He pulled up a set of case files that opened in a separate window on the screen; Robin swiftly scanned through key points of the articles before they could become overlapped with more recent files. Robin could pour his usual mad devotion into his detective work going through the many files, but he was sure that Batman had already done that very thing.
"Batgirl has been patrolling Gotham City while I've been away with the Justice League for the past several weeks. It seems like all of the thugs in the universe have been causing trouble at home in response.
"No surprises there," Robin said dryly. "They heard that you were out of town."
Robin was still standing with crossed arms, impatient to get this call over with. Batman had paused for a less than a second to notice this act of impatience but was then straight back to business like the pause had never occurred.
"We've noticed an unusual amount of shipments being transferred from Gotham by an ex-con named Korbin Renwei, an alien from the Horse-Head Nebula," Batman said. "The size and volume of these shipments match his claims that he is bartering grains but the numbers don't. Through a little digging and hacking into their systems, I've found that he is not shipping these "grains" to the planets of mineral-poor soil like he claims."
Robin listened without interruption. He waited.
"Some of these "grains" end up in those locations for show. Most are being shipped to the industrial trade world planets, the metal worlds that wouldn't have the resources or space for so much as a sprout to bloom." He clearly didn't believe Renwei's legitimate business for a minute or that the contents label was for real. These were strict industrial planets that were additionally ill-equipped to process the raw material into something unusable. Without sending the shipment to a middle man, an agricultural planet, it was a wasted effort and a costly one at that, since the shipments were transported across the stars. The issue over whether a criminal could really reform had been one of the many issues Batman and Robin had bashed heads over but there would be no bashing now under the suspicious circumstances.
"Unfortunately, my presence in their systems was detected before I had managed to record this evidence on a hard drive. Their security has tightened ten-fold and all incriminating data has been covered up."
"I figured as much through the notes," said Robin, finally speaking. He'd been multitasking with half his attention on Batman, and half on the files without missing a thing. He had a bright mind, but there was only so much an outside eye could grasp.
"Batgirl was out on night patrol, when she saw a beam of light shoot off into the sky. It lasted no more than four seconds, but she was certain that it was the glare of a teleportation device. That it was even allowed to be seen by earth's public is a misdemeanor in accordance with universal laws."
Robin shook his head. "Not enough to charge him with anything more than a fine, though.
"The reason that I called you is because of the particular location of the teleportation beam. I may have my influences in this city, but the assignment to find and break up this smuggling ring is an undercover assignment that is impossible for me."
Robin had been about to ask the question of where but Batman was quicker; he pulled up a final page over the articles.
The whites in Robin's mask widened a little and for the first time in the conversation he hadn't the sass to maintain his crossed arms. They uncrossed and fell to his sides.
"You're sure this is the right location?"
Batman's stoic expression did not change. "I trained her the same way that I trained you. There is no mistake."
"This all seems awfully convenient," Robin couldn't help but notice, his surprise changing to surliness. "You're sure this isn't some ruse of Alfred's to get me to come home? When I get there you say, 'I already solved the case; but, since you're here Robin, stick around for the weekend and we can bury the hatchet'?"
"Get it straight that I am not forcing this on you, Robin," Batman replied, evenly but with a harsh ring at the boy's sarcasm. "You are free to decide; but, if this case is to be cracked, you are the only one suitable to do it."
Robin seemed to be done conversing with the Bat; however, the screen remained online since neither moved to sever the connection. Batman could intimidate criminals into confessions with that stone-cold silence. It took zero effort on his part, while lesser heroes exhausted their superpowers to accomplish the same. It was only natural that, after eight years, his ward had become immune to its effects, even at the level which Batman was applying it.
"You can't run away forever," said Batman lowly. "I've tried." Robin was surprised, as Batman rarely was the first to break a silence.
Feeling that he had wasted enough time as it was, Robin finally glanced away and said, curtly, "I'll be there in two days. Robin out."
Without waiting for a response, he turned the screen off and watched as it faded away to reveal again the shores of Jump City.
The teen only stared for a few moments at the mildly rolling tides beyond the tower and how very dark the night had become. The conversation had been a long one, and any criminals were bound to be heading home for the night. It was time for all of the Titans to be done patrolling; they should have been back by now.
He turned back around to the den of the tower and pointed the remote to the stereo. It was such a harsh transition from the quiet of the tower to the eardrum-splintering rock music of Cyborg's new favorite band that it flushed out the other four Titans at once, screaming and covering their ears, from their hiding places behind the kitchen counters.
Robin switched the stereo off just as quickly as he had turned it on, and threw the remote back onto the couch. He walked into the center of the den with the same deliberate steps he'd taken walking in.
"Next time you try spying on me," Robin growled, not bothering to hide his irritation with his teammates, "don't."
Cyborg and Beast Boy wore similar looks of embarrassment for getting caught in such an act while Raven acted like she'd been dragged into the whole affair. With her own level of personal secrecy, she probably had been. They'd taken such care sneaking off back to the tower to follow Robin after their communicators had buzzed with that call from an unknown number, after Robin had been acting so very secretive about its caller.
However their patrols had ended several minutes ago and the den wasn't exactly the place for a secret call.
"Friend Robin, do not be upset," Starfire jumped in at once. The first to recover, she came over to hover at Robin's side. "We were merely curious as to whom you were speaking so very late at night."
"Who? Who!?" Beast Boy demanded. He acted like he was insulted, springing to his feet and quite forgetting his previous embarrassment. "That was Batman! The Batman! Only one of the greatest superheroes to grace the planet! Where have you been living, Mars!?"
Starfire looked puzzled. "I am unsure why you ask this, as I know you are aware that I have been living with all of you for the past two years. However, you say that this Man of Bats is a fighter of crime as we are?"
"YES!" Beast Boy just about yelled at her. "He practically invented what it is to be a true, blue hero! He's like – like the majorest of all Major Leagues! He's-!"
A burning glare from Robin shut the green changeling up. The overkill praising of his guardian wasn't helping his mood. The Titans had undertaken feats just as great as the Bat. They'd saved the world from falling under the control of the skyscraper-tall demon Trigon for pity's sake and much more. They weren't just a bunch of stupid kids; that one of his own teammates didn't seem to acknowledge this fact, made Robin even angrier.
"So what's the deal?" Cyborg asked, getting on with the subject. (Beast Boy morphed into a mouse and hid behind Cyborg's hulking form to escape Robin's glare.) "You flying back to the nest for a while, Robin?"
"I'll be gone for a week or so," Robin responded to the first question, ignoring the teasing in the second. "In that time you'll be in charge, Cyborg."
"Do we get any details?" Although she'd been forced to eavesdrop with the others, Raven couldn't help but share a part in their curiosity.
Her croaky inquiry hit their leader just before he'd reached the main door; he couldn't walk out and pretend he hadn't heard. Robin stopped there as the others waited to hear his answer; an aura of disgust hanging heavily around him.
His shoulders slumped slightly, still coming to terms with it himself. "I'm going back to school."