Hello. Wow it has been a long time since I have been on here with anything new to post... I'm not gonna lie, an apology definitely doesn't cover for my absence from this story. All I can say is that life had a nasty way of finding me and that along the way my muse for this story sort of disappeared. I'm trying to find it again and I hope with the new episode I'll be able to get it back. I miss this story and I miss writing for Dick and Bab's.
Anyways this chapter was kind of hard for me to write. It was a necessary evil, though altogether one I didn't enjoy writing, but it needed to happen. Like the other chapters before this one, this chapter moves around quite a bit. I'm trying to move the story faster towards that prologue but as stated previously certain things need to happen before we get there.
I want to thank anyone who is still reading this. I also really want to thank everyone who left me reviews. It does mean a lot to me. Plus recently they forced me to finish writing this one chapter and hopefully with your help I'll be able to finish the others. As always if you any questions please send them my way. I love explaining my madness. Also REVIEW! My muse is out there somewhere and hopefully you guys can help me get it back.
Note: This chapter takes place during and after Humanity.
Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice, Robin, Barbara Gordon, or anyone else who may appear in this story who isn't one of my creations. Shaun is mine though. Yay! However, it would be incredibly cool if I did own these great characters. And I am most definitely not getting paid for this... However a payment in reviews would be absolutely awesome. I know you're out there.
(The Truth Hurts)
October 10th, 17:13 EDT
The sounds of footsteps thundered up the stairs and across the hall before finally ending with the ear-splitting crack of a door slamming shut. Within the room its occupant paced back and fourth. Her anger tearing her to pieces as she silently raged against the invisible cage drawing ever smaller around her. She felt trapped.
Why she thought. Why did he always have to me feel like this? She hated it. Hated the feeling of these walls around her suddenly collapsing in and knowing that no matter what she did there was no way out. There was no escape. There was never any escaping.
Bab's looked around her room, desperate for anything to make this paralyzing feeling to go away. She needed something, anything, and when her eyes feel upon the small black object charging on her desk she practically jumped. Her hands frantically pulled the charging cable away as she spun around and dialed the only number she thought could help set her free. She called Dick.
It didn't ring like it usually did. There was no waiting for the hopeful answer of a friendly voice to make all her problems go away. All there was for her was the cold automated voice and a beep telling her that it was time to leave a message. She hung up and tried again. The result of which produced the same outcome.
No not now she thought as she bit her lip in an attempt to keep them from trembling. She never liked being like this. She always kept her emotions buried and hidden away. Even in the privacy of her own room she hated to let her emotions get the better of her. Yet, right here and now, the reflection staring back at her from her mirror was one that made her feel every bit the pathetic weakling that he thought her to be.
Why? Why does he think I'm so weak? So incapable?
It hurt so much knowing that her father thought so little of her when all she did was try to be someone whom she thought he would be proud of. She helped that kid. She saved him and instead of getting her father's approval all she got was another round of why she shouldn't be the hero. He told her that what she did was wrong. That she should have gotten a teacher instead of putting herself in harms way. It wasn't your place he said and when she tried to explain that she only did what he taught her to do he yelled. He told her that she heard wrong if she thought that was the answer.
Bab's felt a familiar flash of anger wash over her as she lived the whole argument over again. The tears now rolling down her cheeks were not ones of disappointment but of anger. I was right she told herself. She repeated it over and over again like a mantra as she continued to hit the redial button on her phone.
I was right. I did the right thing. No matter what he says I did the right thing she fumed. They had 'the argument' all over again. The argument that has been a common occurrence in her household since her father discovered that she never outgrew her desire to be a hero like her favorite detective, like her father. She wanted to help people. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. She wanted to be more then what was currently expected of her.
She could still recall the day that her father found out about her want to be just like him. She had just come back from career day at school. The binder in her hands stuffed full of pamphlets on different careers in law enforcement. She was so enthusiastic and overjoyed at the prospect of finally finding her calling. Bab's remembered telling her mom in the kitchen that she wanted to be a detective. That she had a plan to go to school to study law and computer programing so that one day she could apply to be a police officer. Even now the words like father like daughter played through her head. It was never so clear before that moment just how much her mother's words rung true. She was exactly like him. She was courageous, smart, confident, and most of all stubborn. It made her so proud to hear those words that she knew without a doubt that this was who she wanted to be. She had no idea that on that same day the great divide between her father and herself would form because of this.
They were all gathered at the table for dinner. Bab's was still wearing the same smile that she had on her face when she arrived home from school. Her world at that moment felt so complete. Some people she thought go their whole lives without knowing what their true calling in life is. She though, she knew what she wanted and she knew without a doubt that she could get there too.
The moment her father asked her how her day at school was, Bab's was practically bouncing up and down in her seat due to excitement. She happily told him of career day and of all the new and exciting career opportunities that she had learned about. He seemed happy and she felt ecstatic, little did she know that her next words were going to bring about such turmoil. "I want to be a cop," she happily exclaimed.
What followed after that statement, was silence. Barbara remembered her father looking so serious all of sudden. He didn't move. He didn't speak. All he did was look as his food and remained completely quiet. At the moment she wondered what was wrong and even asked him if he was ok.
His answer came after a minute more of silence. "No."
"No. There will not be another cop in this family," he coldly stated.
Barbara remembered feeling so crushed upon hearing his words. She thought that this would make him happy. She thought that this would make him proud of her. "Why?"
He looked her straight in the eyes. His expression cold and his words tinted with an aggravation that she felt that she didn't deserve. "I did not work this hard for my daughter to become just another beat cop."
"I want to be a detective. I want to be like you."
"You wouldn't even meet the basic requirements."
Barbara felt disappointment and most of all a prevailing sense of anger building within her. "You don't know that," she angrily snapped back out of desperation.
"Jim?" Her mother calmly asked in what Bab's was sure was her attempt to calm them both down. She always was the voice of reason among them.
"Dad," she said again. Her voice wavering ever so slightly as she fought hard to bottle the emotions she was sure was soon to burst from her. She didn't want him to see her like this. She didn't want him to see her crumple to pieces. She watched him for what felt like an eternity. His cold blue eyes staring right through her and she stared back at him with such a ferocity that she was sure any other would tremble to behold such a sight.
"I said no," he finished and she stormed out of the room. Just like she did ten minutes ago when she bolted upstairs and slammed her door shut. There was no escaping this vicious cycle is there she thought as she continued to hear the beep telling her to leave a message. She hung up and felt her anger turn once again back to misery. Her only chance away from this wasn't coming. She was alone.
"I did the right thing," Bab's said feeling crushed. She only tried to do what her father had taught her. From a young age he always tried to instill a sense of right and wrong in his children and she knew without a doubt that what she did was right. So why didn't he see it like that? Why did he have to berate me at every turn? Why did it still have to hurt?
"I did the right thing," she said again. "I did the right thing."
October 10th, 18:42 EDT
The Boy Wonder trailed along behind the rest of the team as they left the infamous prison. All the answers they could have possibly hoped for served up in the most unusual manner; a forced confession. Zatanna really did have an ace up her sleeve. Her incantation forcing the reveal of T.O. Morrow's location from Professor Ivo was something that surprised even him. And that is saying something.
Better yet he couldn't believe that Zatanna may actually like him. He thought he had acted like a complete moron in front of her when he introduced himself. He was rarely ever at a loss for words but with her he actually stumbled. He, the teen sidekick to the Dark Knight and the ever-loquacious beater of Gotham's criminal underworld, was tripping over his own words. To say it best he was definitely feeling the aster. He briefly found himself wondering what else it was she could possibly do when the holographic computer on his wrist pinged.
Robin deftly moved through the new set of information appearing before him. On his holographic screen he saw various news reports, police A.P.B.'s, and even a brief message from Black Canary asking them to report in. He nearly laughed at that one. By now she had to be aware of the fact that they weren't doing what they said they said they were doing. She was going to be pissed. However it was none of the above that was responsible for the sudden feeling of dread that beset him.
On the bottom right hand corner of his virtual display screen a small icon continued to make its presence known. It was not apart of the normal updates that he would continuously get while out in the field. It was not a message being sent to him via the Bat-Computer or any other approved line that the league normally operated on. It was from a different source altogether. It was from his personal forwarding system.
It was one of the few secrets that he went through painstaking measures to ensure that Batman would never discover, as he was sure that he would not approve. It posed too much of a risk. It held the potential to be the downfall of them both and Robin knew this. The icon on his screen was alerting him to new messages from his own private line. A secure server, with the facade of obtaining and calculating new statistic and information, whose real purpose was to transmit data pertaining to his civilian life. It was a major rule breaker of galactic proportions. It went against every rule of survival that the Bats had taught him when he donned the mask and become a hero and yet he couldn't bring himself to not install this failsafe program.
When working on the third generation of his holographic computer Robin secretly installed a program meant entirely for emergencies of a different kind. As the Boy Wonder there was no room for Dick Grayson. There was no room for anything even remotely related to his civilian self. It put him at risk. It put Batman at risk. It, as he would later realize, put all those who knew him in danger. He, however, wasn't referring to his friends in the league. He was referring to all those who knew him as Dick Grayson. The people that he was forced to distance himself from out of protocol rather than a want to be in no way tied to his other identity.
One cannot turn a blind eye to all those around them or else they risk the chance of losing everything when they are needed the most. It was these very words that plagued him when he debated over whether or not to install this program behind his mentor's back. They were the words of a wise man. They were the words of his father.
Robin could still recall the day he was taught this lesson. It was not a day he was likely to ever forget for he was not referring to when he first heard these words of wisdom. No the day he was referring to was when he truly learned they're meaning. A day that he would never escape as he lost everything that ever meant anything to him on it. Even now it haunted him. The mistake that stalked his dreams and tormented him in his moments of weakness. His father's words were forever seared into his memory out an act that cost him everything. He should have never looked the other way.
It was because of this that the program was born and now out here in the field it was alerting him to the fact that his other self was never that faraway. Robin glanced around at the others. They were nearly at the bio-ship and unaware of the dilemma that was currently presented to him. The message was an alert that was designed to let him know of various different things pertaining to his civilian self. A level one alert had been triggered by several missed phone calls, all of which were originating from one number. A level two alert was then triggered by a message, which was only just received a few seconds ago due to the fact that it was pinged across several different commercial satellites. It was a flaw in the system but it was a necessary evil in order to ensure the integrity of the line. However, that was of little concern to him now as it was this upgraded status that worried him.
He very rarely had any alerts on this line. In fact it was very rare for the Boy Wonder to receive any calls on his civilian phone. A notion that troubled him further more as he saw the frequency of the calls and the secondary alert. That level of his program had to this day never been triggered before thus causing an uneasy feeling to settle upon him.
Should I check the source he wondered to himself. He wanted to know. He really did, but the rules of the Bat began to make him doubt any further action. There wasn't room for both Dick and Robin. He was one or the other and that was how it had to be. And yet, he couldn't help but think back to why he had created this program in the first place. He had made it for a reason and that reason was to ensure that no one was left out no matter what persona he currently donned. Robin looked up once more to his friends, all of whom seemingly aware of the fact that they're youngest teammate had fallen behind. This is why I made it he reassured himself before hitting the virtual button that called up the information.
The details flashed on his screen for all of a few seconds before Robin was forced to shut it down. "You coming?" Asked Wally with a wide grin. Finally, he had one upped his best friend in the sneaky ninja department.
"Yeah," Robin replied trying his best to not sound as startled as he was. He could not believe that Wally had managed to sneak up on him without his knowing. Maybe this wasn't that good of an idea he briefly thought as he began to make his way to the others. The rules were created for a reason. It was not just for his safety but for everyone else who knew him as well. He wasn't Richard Grayson. He was Robin and that was all that mattered. Wasn't it?
October 12th, 7:14 EDT
Barbara heard him approach her before she even saw him. His steps tentative as he came to stand a little off to her left, just barley within her peripheral vision. He appeared nervous she thought before closing her eyes. "You look tired," she said without turning to look at him.
Dick inwardly cringed upon hearing her speak. There was anger in her words and he knew without a doubt that he was probably the cause of it. "Jet lag," he sheepishly replied back.
"Go somewhere cool?"
"No. Not really," he answered awkwardly doing his best not to fidget. She was definitely angry he thought. Her posture was ridged and her movements were blunt as she continued to shuffle her books in and out of her locker. Not once had she turned to face him since they had started this incredibly curt conversation and now she was freezing him out. He had to fix this. "I'm sorry I didn't call back."
The silence only lasted for another few seconds before she finally spoke up. "Don't be. Ok. You were busy," Bab's seethed as she slammed her locker door shut with enough force to send the sound echoing down the hall. She was angry. She was angry with him and most of all angry at herself for being so dependent on him. He wasn't there she thought. He wasn't there when I needed him. When she needed her friend, her only friend. As sad as it was, he was truly her only friend and he wasn't there for her. It was a fact that only served to turn her anger to sorrow.
"Bab's it's not like that."
"I know," she wearily replied in a desperate attempt to not let her emotions get the better of her. She hated letting others see her so worked up. It made her feel weak. "I really do. It's just…"
"Just what?" Dick asked with a level of sincerity that it caught Barbara off guard.
"It's like your not here," she confessed.
"Well I wasn't," he halfheartedly joked. The response of which earned him an ice-cold glare from his friend's eyes. "Serious conversation. OK."
"Something a friend said."
"You don't know them," he quickly said in an attempt to backpedal. Bab's looked confused at first and then he saw something in her eyes that made him feel entirely too nervous.
"It's like you were never here," she exclaimed suddenly feeling validated by his response. "When you go away. It's like you disappeared. You've fallen off the face of the earth! And when you come back, sometimes, it's like you're a whole different person." She remembered all the times that he would say something that didn't add up. All his faded bruises that he vainly tried to hide with excuses and jokes. The injuries that she knew he had and could see as clear as day in his eyes whenever he did something to aggravate them. His eyes, they were the only way to read him and sometimes what she saw in them made her feel like she was speaking to a stranger.
"I don't," he stumbled with his words unable to speak out of shock. She was beginning to notice he thought. She was beginning to see through the cracks in his disguise. She was beginning to see who he really was and it frightened him to know that she could read him so well. "I'm…"
"Well yes. Bab's I…"
"Don't be ok. You have nothing to be sorry for," she dejectedly finished for him. Her drive for truth was gone and its place another feeling altogether threatened to overwhelm her. The play of emotions filtering through Dick's eyes not only made her feel justified in her gain of information but it also made he feel sorry for prying. He was sorry. She could see that now and it made her realize that it was time for her to reel it in. She had to let this to go and move on. At least for now she thought. "It's just… It's just been a long couple of days and I'm sorry that I put this all on you. It was my fault anyways."
Dick sighed in an attempt to ease his rattled nerves. This conversation had been one he had not expected. It left him feeling raw and open but she had at least offered him a way out. "I think I deserved it," he finally admitted.
"You think?" She asked awkwardly. She wanted it to sound like she was joking but in the end it sounded more like a weak excuse.
"I know I did," he honestly replied. He was sorry for not being there and he was sorry to know that it had upset her so much. He had tried not to feel regret about his decision to not call her back that night. He knew he had to maintain the balance. But seeing her now, so hurt and vulnerable, it made him feel guilty. He looked away from her for the first time since this whole conversation had started. Unable to meet her gaze as the consequences of his actions settled in. He had hurt her again he thought. This time tough, he didn't have the loss of his memory to blame. This was all his doing. This was all my fault.
"No," Bab's said upon seeing her friend staring intently at the ground. "You're not the one who was grounded for fighting," she finished in an attempt to move the blame back on her.
He looked up at her now. "I heard about that."
"You did huh?"
"School grapevine," he answered sounding suddenly serious. "News like that travels fast." Barbara smiled at that until he said, "Bab's you could have gotten hurt."
"That doesn't mean…"
"Mean what?" She snapped. "I did the right thing. I helped that kid."
"There are other ways," he pleaded.
"You weren't there."
"You could have gotten hurt," he said again. There was no fight to his words only a wish for understanding.
"Why does that even matter? Anyone in that kind of situation could have?"
"I know that."
'Then why can't I?" She angrily questioned. Of all people she thought that Dick would at least see things her way and as upset as that made her the look of sympathy on his face forced her to pause. "Dick?"
"I don't want to see you get hurt." He stated again.
Barbara felt all her anger leave upon hearing this. He seemed smaller somehow, more fragile. "Why?" She asked. The sincerity in his voice giving way to a sense of vulnerability that she had rarely ever seen in him. It made her wonder. Did he really care? Did he care about me?
The silence between them wasn't awkward or heavy. It was just an empty divide between them that they didn't know quite how to fill. An unspoken territory that, as of now, neither of them had ever crossed into before. "Your my friend," he finally said. "And besides who else would I have all these fun conservations with?"
His attempt at a joke brought on another silent spell. Dick was still unaware she thought. When he said he cared about her she thought that maybe he saw her in the way that she saw him. For the briefest of moments she allowed herself to think that just maybe he liked her as more then just a friend but then he covered it up. Her hopes were dashed and once again she was forced to push that feeling away. If he didn't see her as anything more then she wouldn't push it. She would play along and be his friend. "There's always Shawn?"
"Shawn," she halfheartedly repeated trying vainly to sound like her normally self. She was hurting now but she would not have this on him. This wasn't his fault and it never was. What they had, for lack of a better word, was complicated. And that was something she accepted even if it proved to hurt her.
October 12th, 15:56 EDT
Today definitely hadn't been easy Bab's mentally said to herself while sitting in detention yet again. This was just one of many she had to attend as punishment for fighting. Originally suspension had been considered but once it was noted that she would be unable to train for the upcoming competition they reconsidered. Thus here she was, sitting in detention with several other students waiting for their torment in tedium to begin.
It could be worse she thought as she pulled out one of her notebooks. Bab's, as much as she felt that she didn't belong here, could a least work on something that had been bugging her for a little while now. She studied the compilation of notes laid out on the papers before her. Over the course of several weeks three students from this school had just up and left. Their parents pulling them out of school for no reason and they themselves never setting foot back on campus after what was their last day. These three students didn't transfer to other schools she discovered albeit through a method that would have definitely landed her in hotter water. They just simply left and disappeared. A mystery, that Barbara found quite intriguing as of late. Though, that could be because she had been desperately in need of a new problem to solve. Dick was a mystery to her she thought, but every time she tried to gleam a little more out of him the more it would backfire. She needed another problem to focus on. One that had no ties to her in general and would in no way come back to hurt her.
However all thoughts on her current investigation halted when a certain someone waltzed into the room. "I didn't know that they granted a stay of execution here."
"Family emergency," the Blonde causally replied as she took the empty seat next to Bab's. A skeptical look now plainly visible upon the redhead's face. The blonde shrugged her shoulders in response before continuing to say, "Super Volcano. My family sort of freaked out."
"I know right?"
Barbara smiled at this. The whole super volcano thing had been big news. The Yellow Stone caldera nearly erupting sent the world into a frenzied panic. Even now there were reports still being aired on the news covering the event. Supposed experts lending their take on the near disaster and end of the world writers talking up the eruption that wasn't anywhere near a VEI 8. "It's kind of getting to the point of being ridiculous around here."
"There are even support groups," the blonde added.
"Yeah, the school psychologist is taking appointments.
"Well that's nothing new."
The blonde smirked. "They're for three weeks from now."
"Wow," said Bab's incredulously as she leaned back in her seat. This school was, as she always knew it to be, completely bonkers sometimes.
A moment of silence filled the air between them after that as both of teens no longer had anything further to say on the subject. The blonde took the silence as a sign to settle in for the long haul and Bab's was left feeling unsure of where to go with this. This being their first real normal conversation outside of those few heated words they shared in the head administrator's office. Both of them at the time not looking forward to their doom being presented in the form of their parent coming to collect them.
"I'm sorry about before," Bab's finally said. An act of which that only served to garner a puzzled look from the blonde currently seated next to her. "My yelling at you the other day outside the head administrators office."
"That's right," said the blonde nonchalantly. "Water under the bridge."
Barbara smiled at this. She didn't openly apologize to many people but at least the blonde hadn't made this anymore awkward for her. "Barbara Gordon."
October 14th, 17:28 EDT
Wally tripled checked the locks on his door after completing his surreptitious run around the house to ensure no one else was around. There could be no mistakes he thought. What he was about to do was big and it potentially had the chance of answering a mystery he had been trying to solve for years. For days he had debated what to do and now his curiosity had finally gotten the better of him. He had to know.
He dialed the number on a pre-paid cell phone he had picked before heading to school. He couldn't risk anyone tracing the call back to him as he was afraid. The consequence of this had the potential to be big but the reward also was something he could no longer ignore. For years he had waited for this. The chance slip up of someone he had known for ages had finally occurred.
The phone rang four times before someone picked up. "Gordon residence."
Wally hung up.
Phew... Emotional roller-coaster or what? I don't know. As I said it had to happen eventually, even though I wasn't particularly fond of writing it. All friendships have their problems and Dick and Bab's are no exception. Plus everything can't be sunshine and apple pies now can it. :)
Anyways this chapter had a whole lot going on in it. Or at least that's how it seemed when I was writing it. My players are are finally nearing their marks for that eventual prologue and I do actually look forward to writing that bit. So once again please review. I know you are out there. I can see when you all visit so please be kind and press that lovely button at the bottom of the page. Your reviews guilt trip me like no other and I mean that in the most positive of ways.
Also to anyone out there who is a gamer for the love of all that is right in this world play Batman: Arkham City if you haven't. That game is downright amazing. Plus it had one killer soundtrack. Seriously the Joker's rendition of Only You is downright terrifying.
P.S. I don't have a beta yet so please excuse the mistakes that I wasn't able to spot. I think I may have found one. So that's good new right?