I've fallen back into the darkness again. Please, don't read this on a full stomach. ;)

Warning: Does not adhere to any particular canon history. All characterizations are as IC for the comics as I can make them, but this is intended as a complete AU which fits into the fanon multiverse I'm creating. One or more CC's may have been seriously injured during the making of this fic.

Chapter One: Barbara's POV

"…And in recent news, tragedy has yet again struck the Wayne household as Timothy Drake, Bruce Wayne's adopted son, was reported missing early this morning—"

Dick's eyes, still red from earlier, begin threatening to overflow again as he flips off the TV. He leans forward on the brown, family room couch, and buries his face in his hands.

I settle down next to him, and rub his back rhythmically, trying to offer comfort.

"Dick, it's alright. Everything's going to be okay; we'll find him." My eyes are already leaking severely and I can hardly keep my voice from cracking. Dammit Barbara, keep it together! Dick needs you! And how the hell are you going to help either of them, curled up in bed, balling your eyes out?

The two of us sit together quietly, both straining to reign in the tears, but neither very successful. Nowadays, when Dick gets too emotional, he gets very quiet and closes up, refusing to talk...much like Bruce. Maybe it's just as well; with no leads, I'm very worried—I don't know if I could hold it together if Dick tried to talk about it. Tim may not be my little brother, adoptive or otherwise, but he's close enough. I've come to think of all of them as my family; Tim, Dick, Bruce, even Alfred. Whatever has happened to Tim, I hope…I know he can handle it.

...Can't he?

"More tea, Miss Gordon?"

"Oh…yeah." I wipe the tears away from my face while the manor's resident butler refills my teacup. I must be losing my touch; I hadn't even noticed him there. "Thanks Alfred."

"You are very welcome." Alfred regards the two of us on the living room couch, huddled together in an embrace we hope will keep us afloat above the sea of misery we are slowly drowning in. Alfred, as always, hopes to sail in…ever our rescue ship. "If I may…"

There is a lull in Dick's heaving anguish as he glances up for Alfred's interjection. Our rapt attention temporarily obtained, Alfred continues.

"…Master Tim—Robin, is quite capable. If either of you were in his situation, I doubt he'd worry. Master Bruce trained him well, as both of you. Have faith in him."

As always, Alfred comes through for us. He's right, Bruce trained us all to be the best we could be; to handle anything. Tim may be the new kid, but he trained just as hard as any of us.

"Thanks Alfred. You always know exactly what to say."

Dick doesn't seem able to speak just yet, so he merely nods his agreement with my words. His head still bowed, I can see the tears flow more freely and his jerking body begins to settle. Dick is feeling better too. Yes, Alfred is right; whatever trouble Tim is in, he can deal with it just as well as we can.


Staying cooped up in that house all day, moping, may be fine for Dick and Bruce, but not me. I have to do something.

"Ahhhh…fresh air." There's nothing quite like feeling the winter breeze blowing across your face that only the high-rise rooftops ever see. Down closer to the ground, either the heat of so many people, cars, and badly insulated apartments warmed it all up, or the tightly packed buildings have just blocked the airflow. I revel in the simple pleasure of just feeling, my red hair whipping about in the wind. The warm sun, the cool wind and the dull roar of cars far below…I can just be…Way up here, perched atop a ledge, I am the luckiest girl in Gotham.

It only takes a second for the luckiest girl to realize the unluckiest is screaming for help.

"Please! Leave me alone—Stay back! Somebody, help me!!" The poor girl is dashing madly down an alley, away from the street. Away from the street and right for a dead end.

"Oh my god! No, no—please!" She'd charged fifteen feet before realizing what her pursuer already knew. She is trapped.

Of course, this means he is trapped too.

"Hyah!" Swinging down on a batline, my high kick connects with the perp's lower jaw with a resounding crack. He flies back naught six feet before the turn in the alley stops him.

Oh well, so I have to hit him one less time, I smile with satisfaction.

His young victim takes advantage of my distraction, trying to skirt past us to head back toward the safety of public view. The perp rises just in time to watch her stumble past me and seems, just for a second, to consider going after her.

You really think you can ignore me?

Never fails. Batman, Robin, Nightwing, they get respect. Why? Because they are boys. But I can be just as tough as them. I'll show you just how tough I can be.

Our eyes had been locked as I gauged his health and dedication to the fight. I mean, if he wanted to give up now, I might be disappointed, but there's no reason to keep fighting. But his eyes tell me something different. He is scared, but determined. Those people usually run.

In a flash, he charges past me with surprising speed. I was ready for him, but I misjudged how fast he could move and my punch misses him by inches. The man flees, checking behind himself to make sure I'm not right behind him. I stare after him, considering remedies for the lead he's got on me.

When he turns back to watch where he's going, I send up another batline to yank me up to roof level. It's a dirty trick, but the bastard deserves it. You think you can escape me? Fine, go ahead and think that. You'll see…

Darting across the roofs, I reach the street side in only a few seconds and check for the perp. He'd turned left when he reached the street, which brought him past my current position. Still running full bore, he shoves past pedestrians and even barrels across the street, narrowly missing the front end of a sedan. The car's squealing brakes hardly seem to phase him as he regains his balance and charges on down the street.

He is still running when I swoop across the busy street, but after I land on the other side, I notice he had slowed to a walk. Probably hoping to blend in with the crowd. A feral grin creeps across my face as I stalk my prey, silently gaining on him with each passing second. I finally overtake him as he starts through a parking lot behind a few apartment buildings. I've been to this area before and the lot only has two exits; the one he entered, and the one on the opposite end. Forty square feet of asphalt, dotted with a few cars, completely enclosed by fencing and buildings save the two exits, makes the perfect trap.

I wait until he is about half way across before I drop down on the surprised man. I hit him with a right hook and a left uppercut.

The man falls to the ground in a pathetic heap, languishing over his injuries. This fight is over; I ignore his piteous moans and slap on the cuffs. After calling it in, I move on to look for another target.

They run, they hide, but they never get away. A lesson Tim's kidnapper will soon learn.