Do you think I could so
easily forget? This time
spent here won't drown
The lines supposed to be simple,
Have you forgotten
where I've been?
There is good, and there is evil.
I was dead…
I was dead.
Or at least, it's supposed to be.
I back? Why did I
claw my way
But it never is, not for me.
Never for me.
Why did you
let her drag me back?
I'm supposed to be a good guy,
I thought it was in the past.
This won't change
me. A younger time,
a mirror won't work
And this blurred line won't change me.
You can't break me.
I remember, Brother.
-A future eulogy
Recorded by Ghost Writer
Witnessed by Pendulum
Chapter 30: X Marks the Time
The vault where the suit was hidden was almost impossible to crack. Almost. The tumblers gave a twirl under nimble fingers, and when the suit was on and Red X gazed back in the mirror, the teen couldn't help but smirk. After all, he had time. And the first order of business: track down more Xenothium then give Robin hell.
Running through the city was easier than breathing, and X loved the rush of momentary free fall then the jolt of instant teleportation. It felt so free, even if the air was filtered through the skull mask. But the burn of his muscles working, that was real. God, how had he forgotten this? Missed it?
Getting past the warehouse security system was impossible not to trip, so, X decided to ignore it. Let the Titans come. He was itching for a fight. Through the double doors, up the elevator shaft, past the lasers and X was staring at old crates filled with boxed up goodies and if his…mentor (that was going to take some getting used to)…was right, which he undoubtedly was, the scanner should be somewhere around—
—A gasp, and X whirled around to see five Teen Titans looking at him in stunned silence. Robin's face already pale and guilt ridden. Typical.
With this, X threw his exploding disks, charging at Raven swiping her feet out from under her with ease before he was forced to dodge star-bolts, flipping up onto the brick wall, pushing off, landing on Star's back and launching up into the steel beams, using the metal to rebound one of his electrical shocks, it hit the Tamaranian girl in a flash of red and she hit the ground with a thud. And X really didn't want to be gorilla chow so he stuck a rod in the changeling's mouth. Enjoying Beastboy's priceless expression as the beam snapped, and the hippopotamus crashed down on some crates. Dropping to the floor, he released a palm blast, watching the energy x turn into red elastic, attach to some crates and smash them together, Cyborg caught in the middle and honestly, this was the most fun he's ever had.
"C'mon kids, X marks the spot," he sneered as the four Titans charged, and he expertly dodged the sonic canon, enchanted crates, and star-bolts with ease before flickering out of existence to avoid animal fists.
But when he re-appeared on some stacked boxes, the teen knew he needed to wrap this up before…
Robin suddenly slammed into him, and Red tried to ignore the way his ribs screamed in pain as he engaged the boy wonder. And even with all the tech, it was still hard sparring with the fifteen year old who dodged his fist from behind, Robin dropping into a front flip, taking X with him.
"Not bad, kid."
X smirked as Robin redirected his momentum, and X felt his back slam into wood. Robin glaring hatefully at him, one black gauntlet pressed over his skull mask.
"Who are you?"
"If I wanted you to know, would I be wearing a mask?" he snarled back, unfounded anger coursing through him. And while he knew his voice was masked through the electronics, and the fact that technically he shouldn't be here…but could the bird really not tell? With that thought fueling him, X sent a pulse of electricity through the Titan, sending Robin crashing through some crates. Cyborg and Raven charged, and he sent an x hurtling at them, watching in fascination as both teen's energies crossed in red, black, and blue light, both screaming in pain.
"Looks like you got your wires crossed," Red stated before dodging Starfire's attacks, trapping her to the wall with a giant x.
And he really needed to get going, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, there was no way he could pass it up. Tilting Star's chin up, the teen gazed in those strange forest green eyes and turned on his charming voice. Which didn't sound right at all with the voice changer in the suit. But. Oh well.
"Hey cutie, the only crime here is that you and I haven't gone out on a date."
When Starfire shot him with her gorgeous green eyes, Red tried not to take it personally. Dropping Beastboy down into the earth was fun, but getting boring. Turning on his heel, X made his way over to Robin who was shaking off the backlash of being electrocuted. Red merely rolled him over and grabbed the scanner underneath him. Making a break for it, when X realized Robin was following he turned, threw his weapons, and watched in fascination as the x's wrapped around Robin's feet and the teen actually followed gravities laws and hit the ground. Best. Day. Ever.
"Better luck next time, kid. And thanks for the suit," he smirked pressing the center button on his utility belt, expecting to be teleported away when he flickered back into existence.
"Ah c'mon!" he hissed, this definitely wasn't supposed to happen, the belt wasn't that drained of power. And then it hit him, his mentor promised he wouldn't interfere. Apparently, he wasn't above meddling though. The jerk. Robin was slicing through his bindings when Red X felt a cold shiver race down his spine, turning he saw Danny Phantom give a small wave before an ecto-blast hit him square in the chest.
Okay, that really hurt. As he hit the wall, an open sky light caught his view. Phantom was flying towards him, Robin close behind.
"Danny, the scanner!" Robin screamed and yep, running away, a splendid idea. Cursing his big ego, X leapt up onto the roof and hit his belt's power core one more time. Right as Phantom appeared in a green swirl of energy Red felt his belt hum. Never let it be said that hitting something really hard didn't yield results. Whirling around, he danced around Robin by centimeters and gave a mock solute.
"Catch you guys later."
Then he was seven rooftops away, watching the two stunned teens be joined by their teammates.
Danny felt like a massive idiot for letting Red X get away and Robin looked ten times worse.
Before the halfa could continue the rest of the team appeared. Starfire gazing at Robin with the upmost scrutiny, and poked him in the arm. Hard.
"Ouch, Starfire, cut that out," Robin hissed trying to swat her hand away.
"Then you are not a hologram?" she asked, Robin visibly winced.
Starfire didn't look convinced and started poking him once more to prove it.
"The last time we faced the Red X it was you in disguise, and you were not really there."
"Starfire, knock it off!" Robin screamed practically fuming, but Star merely smiled in joy.
"He is not a hologram," she concluded.
But Beastboy's eyes only narrowed in suspicion, "He could still be a robot, check him for batteries."
When Cyborg pulled on the latex gloves Robin dived behind Danny in panic.
"Wait, please, it wasn't me, I promise!"
"Cy, put the finger down," Danny pleaded being dragged back as the team came closer. But something in Robin's tone made them pause and if Danny believed him…
They watched as Robin turned away, a forlorn expression overcoming him as he gazed out over the city.
"Red X was a mistake, a mistake I won't ever make again."
"Then we should head back to the Tower and figure this out," Cy answered.
The vault was empty and Robin's glare was threatening it not to be.
"Hey, sorry I couldn't get there sooner. I got held up at the Bookstore with Fixit," Phantom answered, floating in and Robin's shoulders tensed.
"It's alright. I'm more concerned with how the kid managed to get past Titans security and managed to crack my safe."
"Talk about brazen, do you know what the guy will be after?"
Robin nodded and headed for the door, "Yeah. Xenothium."
Danny winced, "I was hoping you wouldn't say that."
The streets were dark and humid from the smog trapped between the buildings, and of all the pickup places to be, this was not one Danny would have expected. Or wanted. The sleek aston martin rounded the corner, and he pulled his black hood further over his head before getting in, mindful of the Dragon's Gale strapped to his hip. Driving was one of Blood's hired muscle who looked at Danny like he was less important than scum on a shoe. Which was really quite funny, since he wasn't the one stuck on driver duty.
They pulled up to some fancy bar in China town, where the women were dressed in silk and the men carried automatics, and Danny could smell fresh pork buns and stale blood. Good times. As the driver led him through the back rooms Danny took the time to calm his racing heart. Coming to a stop at the end of the dark hall, the goon pushed open the door and Danny stepped inside. Stealthily, he moved to stand behind Blood, clinging to the shadows of the lavishly decorated room, incense filling his senses as he watched Blood sip sake with Vlad Masters. Both men in a heated discussion.
"Yes, while I agree the loss of your school is unfortunate, I don't see why it should merit me backing its rebuilding." Vlad answered waving his hand forward, and a petite Asian girl emerged behind tendrils of bamboo, carrying a tray of sushi.
"You want teens trained in the art of criminality. My school is the best regardless of Cyborg's betrayal."
"It was your own fault for taking an interest in him, instead of taking him out," Vlad rebuked and it took all of Danny's mental power not to snort at that chastisement. Do as I say, not as I do, apparently is what Vlad lived up to and the young halfa could see his mentor steadily starting to lose his patience.
"Not entirely fruitless," Blood answered, sliding a folder across the table.
Danny watched silently as Vlad flipped it open, his eyes widening as he skimmed it.
"This is quite an endeavor, not easily financed."
"But you will?" Blood asked, triumph in his voice.
Vlad leaned back in his chair and set the file ablaze in pink flames smoldering it to ash.
"I will, but first, prove to me your students are top notch. I've heard their track records have been less than outstanding."
"That's because they weren't my top students." With the snap of his fingers Danny stepped forward, pleased that Vlad looked surprised he had even been there.
"Vlad, meet my protégé, Shadow. I've personally trained him. I trust he will be able to accomplish whatever task you need."
And while Danny really didn't like being pimped to Vlad (as Beastboy would call it) he enjoyed the way the elder halfa clearly tried to figure him out.
"Very well, I need you to steal some data from the Justice League. They've been causing me problems, and since they've updated their shielding technology outfitting it with a Ghost Shield, I'm afraid I can't get it myself," Vlad answered pulling out a flash drive and sliding it over to Danny, who picked it up and put it in a hidden compartment. Vlad gave an irked look at Danny, obviously having expected some other emotion. One that he wouldn't give, and Danny felt immense satisfaction at watching doubt cloud those slate grey eyes.
"They have a base called Mount Justice located in Happy Harbor."
Danny nodded while Blood gave a proud smirk to the teen.
"I trust you to handle this."
Swiftly turning to face his mentor Danny bowed before heading to the door but Vlad made him pause.
"Oh and Shadow, you have forty-eight hours."
Great, leave it to Vlad to make this a timed test.
"Well, who is he?" Cyborg asked looking at the computer screen in the main living room with the other Titans, gazing up at dozens of images of Red X caught on camera.
"I mean, if Robin is the ex-Red X, then who's the new guy?"
To this Beastboy pulled out a chalk board and pointed to the crazy drawings on it with a flourish.
"Okay, if he's not Robin's evil twin, then he's obviously a bionic monkey infused with Robin's DNA."
Starfire and Raven shared the same look before black magic destroyed the chalkboard, and Cyborg took his position back at the computer console.
"Face it, Red X could be anyone smart enough to find the suit, and dumb enough to take it for a joy ride," Raven stated while Star helped Beastboy out of the kitchen from his crash landing.
"And when Robin returns, he will help us figure out who…"
"It doesn't matter," Robin answered cutting in as he and Phantom entered the room.
"I created Red X, every system, every weapon. Whoever's inside that suit, he's my responsibility." Robin stated glaring up to the screen.
"Well if we're gonna catch him we at least need to figure out what he's after." Cyborg replied and Robin grimaced, not speaking.
Danny stepped forward and prayed his friends would go easy on their leader.
"He's after Xenothium, it powers the suit."
Starfire gasped and Raven's eyes went horribly wide, while Beastboy gave an angry huff. Although Danny figured it was because he didn't know what Xenothium was.
Cyborg exploded, "Xenothium! You powered that suit with Xenothium! Are you crazy, man? That stuff is dangerous, and unstable! Tell me you were not stupid enough to go messing with it?!" He yelled and with every word, the big gloomy guilt cloud that was the teen wonder seemed to get gloomier.
"Like I said, it was a mistake," Robin said before pulling up the device the teen had taken during the warehouse fight.
"The scanner Red X stole will locate any Xenothium in a ten mile radius."
"So we must locate it first," Star supplied while Cyborg plugged in his chest drive to the mainframe computer.
"X isn't the only one with a scanner. I'm downloading the molecular signature and transmitting to your communicators."
"Thanks, but I won't need it," Robin answered already at the doors, surprising the team.
"How are you going to find the Xenothium without a scanner?" Cy asked.
"The same way I found it the last time," Robin growled before the doors closed ominously behind him.
Danny waited all of five seconds before sighing. "Tail him to make sure he doesn't run into trouble?" he deadpanned and Cy nodded before Danny disappeared, mumbling something about acting like a stupid sparkly vampire and Robin was not a damsel.
The air was frigid this high up. Even with the thermals golden boy had built into the suit. But not even the well insulated suit could shield him. Or change how present everything was. Or how loud. In the alley below, some teens were competing, dancing to a song about wishes and airplanes, painting spray art onto the walls. Which, if he cared, was really quite beautiful. The smell of warm bread from a late night café drifted through the air. For a moment, X thought he'd be sick.
Because everything was and here he stood, remembering what it was like not to be. It was a comical paradox of the worst kind. And with the chiming of the cathedral bells signalling that it was midnight, Red X stood. Swinging away, he realized that for the past four hours he hadn't said, thought, or moved a muscle. Most people would consider that relaxing or some form of mediation. But to him it felt as if he'd sprinted ten miles. It was all too loud, and he caught himself wishing for silence. Up above, a plane came in for landing and the teen snorted. Wishes indeed.
It was ridiculously easy to locate the Xenothium with the scanner. Once Red landed on the roof, he was irked to see Robin already standing there, looking about the way he felt. A green hawk dropped down and Beastboy raised an eyebrow.
"So you're probably kicking yourself for not getting rid of that suit when you had the chance, huh?" he inquired, and Red X jumped when Danny appeared out of thin air and shook his head, motioning for the changeling to drop it, even as Robin's shoulders shook in suppressed rage. Another thing X could relate too.
"Heh, forget I said anything."
Robin let out a sigh and looked at his two teammates.
"I couldn't destroy it. The Xenothium power core is too dangerous to dispose of. It was supposed to stay locked away."
Red would have laughed at that well thought out plan when a black circle appeared and Raven rose up from it.
"No sign of Red X," She stated as Starfire dropped down.
"Or of Cyborg."
Robin pulled out his communicator, "Cyborg, report."
"X must have attacked him. If Cyborg's hurt, it's my fault. I'm responsible."
Talk about jumping to conclusions, Red X thought feeling irked and a little pissed off that such conclusions about his character were being drawn. Not to mention the guiltier Robin became, the more he wanted to punch the boy wonder in his face. Just to get him to snap out of it.
"No Robin, the error you made, it is in the past. You are no longer the one inside that suit."
Red grinned behind the mask and dropped his invisibility.
"And personally, I think it looks much cooler on me," he interceded enjoying the way Robin's face flushed with anger. Yeah, so much better than guilt. This he could handle. Quicker than water, he had Beastboy the rhino and Raven trapped, heading towards the edge of the skyscraper, Starfire having to catch them. All that was…ducking from the chill that raced down his spine, Red barely dodged an ecto-blast that would have left the mother of all bruises on his back before firing an x, shocking Danny in the chest. Ghosts have a hard time withstanding electricity, even halfa ghosts, score one for Red-X. Then he was back hand springing off the skyscraper, Robin following him down.
It was strange. Red realized, that this, running through one of the city's top research facilities like it was a jungle gym, was fun. Refreshing. It kept his mind off of other things. Not that he needed to tell bird boy behind him that their little violent chase scene felt more like playing to him. Maybe he should talk with his mentor about his whirlwind, borderline homicidal emotions later. But after he was done messing with Robin and avoiding Danny. No, that wasn't right, avoid Danny, then mess with Robin. He was so busy thinking, he nearly missed the big vault doors blocking his exit. He nearly threw himself into the wall as he moved to lean back against it. Managing to cloak himself right as Robin rounded the corner, looking around in bafflement.
The four other Titans who landed in the building decided to split up in search of their way to serious leader and find Red X. Whoever they came across first they'd deal with. Personally, Raven hoped she would find X first and get revenge for having to smell Beastboy's rhino butt. When a shadow moved across the doorway, Raven followed it in, then a flash of red, and suddenly she was slammed up against the wall, red polymer cocooning her till Raven only saw black. Beastboy was sniffing the ground, searching for a trail when a red leash looped around his neck and electricity zapped him. Starfire was walking down a hall when she heard a heavy thump. Whirling around, she gasped at the strange sight, her fists lighting in green.
"Who are you?"
When Danny heard her scream, he immediately knew more was going on then Red X attacking them. This wasn't his style. He preferred frontal assaults, not guerilla warfare. It was then Danny saw one of Professor Chang's men in the glass reflection of the mirror. Looks like Robin's criminal informant wanted to cash in on this heist. Just as the goon was preparing to get the drop on him, he twisted in the air, the Xenothium axe slamming into the ground.
"Whoa, dude, I don't need to be cut into anymore halves!"
Danny felt his power glow. The ecto-blasts in his fists coldly burning, when every one of his muscles seemed to freeze in place. As if suspended, the feeling was not unfamiliar.
"What the…oh, crap." And with this, Danny got hit with a Xenothium taser and blacked out.
When Red heard Starfire scream, he tried to ignore the way it made his stomach curl nervously. After all, she would be okay, right? He dropped the invisibility when Robin turned around, about to hunt her down when he seemed to remember why he was even here. Always about the mission, Red thought. Which if he were being honest, was something he was trying to run away from right now. He didn't want to think about the bigger picture at the moment.
"What's the matter, kid, don't you want to play? After all, they're your toys." With this he destroyed the computer consol. The vault doors opened, and he had Robin's undivided attention once more. Which, now that he thought about it, made him sound really attention deprived as he economically leapt through the laser fields. Robin flipping after him. But hey, he's been dead and cooped up for who knows how long, he's bored. Sue him.
As Robin dropped down the massive chamber, he couldn't help but wonder why this felt almost, playful. Only pissing him off more, because Cyborg was missing, Starfire had screamed and that probably meant the rest of his team was in trouble. Also, he didn't appreciate nearly becoming a pancake from the force field at the bottom. Barely managing to slip through the tear Red X had created by bending his spine in a way that, to the average person, probably seemed painful. X merely chuckled and darted down the hallway. Leaving Robin wanting to drop kick him all the way to Star City. He skidded to a stop when he came to a room, the ground lower, inlaid with a grid pattern, Red X nowhere to be seen.
"After you." The electronically disguised voice said from behind before a strong hand pushed him out onto the field. The square he was standing on turned bright red, and Robin looked up to see a giant laser targeting him. Oh yeah, Lex Luthor had way to much free time. Robin thought as he dodged the energy beam, racing across the floor to get to the other side. He was almost to the open doors when Red X dropped down in front of him. Robin swore he could hear the smirk in the teen's voice.
"Thanks for the hand, kid." And the doors promptly shut in his face. Robin let out a growl, rebounding off the wall to gain air and fire his zip line, shooting him up to the machine. And as he was cutting it down and re-wiring it, he couldn't help but think that Red knew he wasn't going to die. Like he expected it. Pushing that annoying thought away, he aimed the gun at the steel concrete and cut a giant hole through the metal in time to see Red X grabbing a case of Xenothium ore. With a spin, he had enough power to kick the slightly broader teen into the wall.
"Kid, you are taking life way to seriously."
With this they charged at each other. Both starting with long range weapons, getting closer, until Robin pulled out his bo-staff and Red enlarged the X's on the top of his hands until they were sharper than knives. Both dodging and attacking in a strange dance. As if one could predict the others moves.
"Why did you steal the suit? What are you planning to do?" Robin snarled, his staff holding the blades at bay.
"Whatever I want." And X dropped down, kicking up as he flipped Robin up and over him, the teen doing two flips to right himself. X felt it was time to clear the air a little.
"Not everyone likes to play the big villain, kid. I'm a thief. I'm not threatening your precious city, just looking out for number one."
"So you're not psychotic, you're just selfish." Robin seethed, choosing to analyze the undertones of Red X's speech later. Noting how he put the blades away and raised his palms.
"Lighten up, chuckles. I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me." With this he fired two blades, catching Robin off guard enough for him to grab the case and make it to the door as Robin prepared to throw a yellow and red batarang. Red froze and hit the center of his belt, "Play times over kid. Back off, or I trip the power core and the core triggers the rocks. I don't think you want what happens next on your conscious."
Robin lowered his weapon but not his stance and glared. "And I don't think you want to be disintegrated," he answered before shadows behind Red X moved and the other teen turned in time to see a goon all dressed in a giant white hazmat suit zap him with a Xenothium taser. Robin moved but soon he too was hit, red seared his senses. Dazedly, he watched as the men gathered up cases of the ore.
"The Xenothium!" He tried to move but his legs were numb and it looked like Red X was unconscious. When one of the men placed a portable TV screen in front of him, Professor Chang smirking up at him, Robin felt his insides freeze.
"Yes, and I do so appreciate it. Since you two were doing the break in, I decided to cash in. I'm sick of selling to bad boys. I'm ready to be one," he stated with a dramatic flair.
"And now that I have enough Xenothium to power my disintegrator canon I can be very, very, bad," he hummed before flicking his spidery hands to the side and the camera zoomed in on the weapon located under the tarp in the old abandoned observatory.
"I won't let you get away with this."
Chang came back on screen. His narrow face sneering, "Oh, I think you will because my good little boy, I didn't just steal the ore. I stole your friends."
And Robin gasped as he looked at his six friends frozen in holding tubes.
"Stay out of this or I'll test my canon on them," he warned before the screen cut out.
When X came to, it was to the inside of a holding cell in the buildings vault. Robin on the other side, glaring at him. Which, with the massive headache he had, so not what he wanted to see right now.
"Uh, who were the moon men?" he quipped. Pointedly ignoring the voice in his head singing, 'I told you so' for not listening to his mentor's advice of, 'stay on the path or you won't like the results.'
Robin's eyes narrowed. "Criminals. Just like you," he stated and Red nearly laughed at how messed up his life was.
"C'mon kid, you don't really think the world is that black and white. This suit proves that. And do you really think this little playpen can hold me?"
Robin pressed something on the consol with his black gloves and Red jerked his hands away from the bars, electricity sparking through them.
"You don't even care, do you? A low-life maniac just got his hands on enough Xenothium to disintegrate the entire city, and it's your fault."
"Don't you mean 'our' fault?"
"At least I'm going to do something about it!" Robin snapped, and Red had to force himself not to flinch at how loud it sounded. And damn, even now, goldy still had the guilt trip down to the 'T'. But what the Titan said next was a low blow and both teens knew it.
"And if you cared about anything other than yourself, you'd be helping!"
"Sorry kid, some guys don't like to play the hero."
"I'll be back to take you to jail," Robin's answer was devoid of emotion which Red knew was his way of preventing himself from completely losing it. With that, the teen behind the villain's mask felt the game of tag end. Painfully reminding him why he was here and what it meant to follow the mission burning in him to go and help.
Guess he could never escape it. Not to mention the Titans were never supposed to be captured. Because Danny Phantom had stopped the goons while Robin took down Chang. And Red had changed that. To this he let out a growl, hating how one small ripple in the pond changed everything. How him being here changed everything. Because Robin focused on the thief and not the maniac. It also meant that his mentor was meddling…again. And Red X really hated playing among his mind games.
"Alright, I'll go, you big jerk."
The consol holding him sparked and died and he was free, Red sighed and took to the sky, his belt almost empty.
"I could have gotten out myself, though," he snarked.
By the time he made it to the observatory, Red felt his heart stop mid beat as Robin clung to the broken railing on the upper levels. The canon trained on Starfire, who was struggling in her frozen bonds, her head the only thing free. She screamed, and Red let loose some shuriken destroying Chang's main panel. But he hardly noticed as he leapt in the air, grabbing Robin before he fell, slamming them onto the other railing.
"I thought you didn't like to play the hero?" Robin said smirking, obviously enjoying Red's temporary hero status.
"Doesn't mean I don't know how."
Both leapt into the fray of the guards, charging them. Robin turned and landed on the canon going after Chang while Red leapt to the ground level and hit the defrost button on Danny's chamber.
"You so owe me for this."
Red quickly moved, releasing all the switches before jumping up onto the canon platform.
"Time to get what I came for."
"Time's up," Raven answered, all the Titans stood in front of him. Right, they were all goody too shoes.
"Thanks for the help Red X but don't think that means you can help yourself," Robin snapped whipping out a wicked sharp disk. Red took his stance near the destroyed side of the observatory and grinned. The smell and crash of sea water filling his senses.
"No problem, kid. This should keep me going for a good long while."
Robin smirked, "I don't think so."
Red barely had time to dodge when Danny suddenly teleported behind him. He slammed the Xenothium into the ground watching as Danny and Raven threw up shields while he jumped off the edge, pulling out a second tube. He might be a thief but he was a great thief. It took a second to charge the belt and he hit the teleport button seconds away from crashing onto the shore rocks of the ocean.
There were certain things Danny really hated: Vlad Masters, Dragon's horrible breath (except for Dora) and stealing. Because getting into Mount Justice, even if it wasn't their main base of operations anymore, was harder than getting into Fort Knox. Not to mention having to dodge a few heroes.
His only blessing was that it was the Flash's turn for monitor duty and he promptly disappeared to go bug John Stewart when the Lantern had shown up. Or possibly to go search for food. Working quickly, Danny plugged in the USB drive, downloading the files before 'reactivating' the Leagues protection scanner. He was about to make his escape when a dark green boot slammed into his side. Danny rolled with it and came up to see one fiercely glaring Robin looking down at him. Crap. Robin's little brother.
"I'm only going to say this once; you've made a big mistake."
And for a twelve year old, the kid could kick. Danny danced to the side, grabbed Robin's arm and pressed down on the nerve cluster in his elbow. The kid gave a grunt before Danny felt a weight on his thigh and the kid vaulted up, preparing to slam down on him. And he really didn't want to go on the offensive but if the kid landed a good hit with his strength, Danny would stay down. Twisting, Danny brought his leg up and around the kids mid section, turned and slammed them both into the concrete. Pinning Robin, he pulled the Gale half from her sheath and held it close to the kid's throat. The younger Robin didn't so much as flinch.
"Stay down," he hissed.
And Danny had never been so grateful that Robins were trained by Batman because they're entire fight had been done in near silence. So no heroes in the building were any wiser. Downside, it also meant that this miniature Robin had been trained by Batman.
"Make me," the younger Robin sneered and two batarangs were in the kids hands now and Danny had to jolt backwards to prevent getting skewered.
Both standing now, Danny fully drew his sword.
"You won't win, kid," he advised, silently begging the older Robin to forgive him for attacking his younger brother. However that was before the red and green Robin grinned a Cheshire Cat grin.
"Oh, I know. I'm just holding you here till back up arrives."
God damnit, this kid was as manipulative as the red and black Robin.
Danny almost didn't avoid the nerve strike to the back of his neck that would have incapacitated him instantly. He flipped away as Batman alighted himself with his Robin and Danny felt dread settle in the pit of his stomach. One he could handle. But taking on the Dynamic Duo? It was going to make him sweat, make him bleed.
"Whoa, kid. Looks like you've gotten yourself into quite a pinch."
All three jolted, looking up to see Red X perched high up in the rafters. Batman narrowing his eyes, one getting in was plausible but two? Past unacceptable. Danny instantly knew from how smug the guy sounded that that wasn't his Robin under the suit. But if it got him out of here. Time to lie.
"You're late, had to start without you."
Red X laughed and the duo charged. X throwing down exploding disks, drawing the younger Robin's attention as he leapt up into the rafters after the teen while Danny took on Batman. Or you know, ran away from Batman. Using the flat part of his blade, Danny managed to redirect himself up and over the Dark Knight (kind of like using the man as a jungle gym) into the rafters, which would have been completely awesome, if it didn't look like the Bat wanted to use his face for batting practice. Soon he was by X's side dodging batarangs and smoke bombs. Red X gave a laugh as he dodged a bright red birdarang, "I think it's time to go, kiddo."
"I'm the same age as you!" Danny nearly lost his footing as one sharp weapon whizzed past his right cheek. And with one real laugh, X grabbed Danny's forearm and all Danny could think about was how Harry Potter described apparition and not being able to breathe. When quickly as it came, it stopped and Danny was looking at Mount Justice on the opposite side of the harbor. He turned to regard the thief, who seemed to have lost his humor and was staring at the sunrise. As if expecting it to reveal all the secrets of the universe.
"Don't worry about it," the teen answered and something about the way X moved reminded him of someone. But it fled Danny's mind when he blinked and X was gone. The morning light making the ocean waves sparkle.
Hastily, Danny looked around only to see a lone white dove taking flight.
Danny made it back to Jump City in record time. Momentarily stopping at the Bookstore, handing over the drive to Fixit, selling him the information as well as getting the altered copy back.
"I'll be sure to sell these secrets to the right people."
To this Danny gave a small bow and took off. Seeing Vlad's astounded face when he returned not only ahead of schedule, but with the drive no less, priceless. He would have laughed if it wouldn't have blown his cover. As such, he settled for standing behind a beaming Blood while Vlad skimmed through the files.
"So, do we have a deal?"
Vlad looked up and gave a vicious smirk, "Let's get down to business."
With his task complete, Danny left. Desperately wanting a shower and to take off his empathic device and rejoin with his ghost half. Because damn it, standing in front of Vlad without his abilities was beyond nerve wracking. Plus, Batman nearly scared him into an early grave. Not that he would ever admit that to his spiky haired friend…ever.
The portal opened in the middle of the hallway and Red X landed gracefully onto the stone tiles. It was an absolute silence. The kind Jason Todd could appreciate because finally, it felt like he could breathe again. Pulling off the mask, he made his way through the castle, not even his footsteps echoing. The endless clocks, which were supposed to be turning, were all oppressively still.
To a normal person, this silence would have been maddening. But for the fifteen-year old, Jason was grateful. Because this place was the closest thing that reminded him of the silence when being dead. The irony that this was a place for life was not lost on him. Making his way to the viewing room, Jason saw his mentor standing in front of the viewing clock. Long black cloak swaying soundlessly across the floor, staff resting in one hand as the teen plopped himself down on a chair.
"You surprised me. I thought, and this is a direct quote, 'that you would kick the ever living crap out of Dick and proceed to laugh maniacally over his pain.' End quote."
Jason could hear underlying mirth in the smooth baritone voice. So he figured he was off the hook for causing the Master of Time so much trouble. He plastered on his best Cheshire Cat's grin and brushed the lone strand of white bangs in a sea of black out of his eyes.
"What can I say, I'm full of surprises."
At this, the Time Master snorted and turned to look at him. The cloak nearly concealing the black rapture moving down his neck.
"Are you alright, Jason?"
Jason froze. No. He was far from it. The anger was still there, burning in his stomach making it ache, and everything outside of this castle was still so loud. But for some brief moments, he got to be the annoying, chaos causing kid he once was. So maybe…
"Can I get back to you on that?"
His mentor smiled a lopsided grin and his eyes sparkled mischievously.
"Want to watch Danny realize that the Red X who saved him was the one who the Titans just spent the entire night embarrassingly chasing?"
Jason did a hand spring in excitement and went to go stand in front of the portal. A smile on his face. The clocks slowly started to move.
"You're still not keeping that suit." Pendulum said after a moment, reading Jason's future question.
AN: Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please review.