About two weeks later, Barbara entered Robin's hospital room to find it empty. Bed made, gifts gone, no sign of him left. Fear and confusion swirled in her head in some odd tango as she walked into the room. Had the police already come and hauled him off to Arkham? That was impossible. She'd checked her father's work a million times. They weren't supposed to come for Robin until tomorrow. Had something changed? Or had something worse happened? Did he get an infection or get sick or…
That was when she noticed the note.
It was hiding underneath the bed. Far enough out of sight to not be noticed…unless you were looking for clues to figure out where someone went. She knelt down and picked it up. Scrawled in black Sharpie was a brief note from Robin:
You didn't think I'd actually wait around for the cops to get me, did you?
I'll send you a postcard.
Barbara smiled a bit and crushed the note in her hand. Stupid. Why did she think Robin would really wait around to be hauled off in handcuffs? She chuckled a bit and walked out of the room. Where would he go, she wondered? What about Gotham? And that Saitou guy that he considered to be a father? And what about her? Obviously he couldn't tell her where he was going. The police would be on him in a minute if they found the note first. But still, it would be nice to be included.
She called Wally and M'gann, the final remnants of their team. They were just as confused and slightly worried, but not very surprised. Neither of them had expected Robin to go willingly off to prison. Prison had been inevitable since someone at the hospital blabbed that they had Robin in custody. After that, there had been no way for the League to remedy the situation. The public knew about it. And when the public knows, someone has to go to jail.
Barbara returned home. She kept an eye on her little brother who was annoying as usual. She'd already started dinner by the time her mom got home from her job at the school. It wasn't until later that night did her father get home. He ranted and raved to her mother about how the Robin kid ran off from the hospital and how the place didn't even have someone watching him. Feeling slightly guilty, Barbara snuck off to her bedroom to get ready for bed. She changed into her pajamas and brushed out her hair. Then she noticed a postcard sitting in her window. Barbara went over and picked it up.
Having a blast in Bludhaven! The postcard said cheerily. The text was printed over the view of a picturesque city with tall towers and gleaming windows. Barbara flipped it over on to the back. Another letter from Robin.
By the time you read this I'll be in Bludhaven by now. Don't let the picture fool you. It's worse than Gotham. It needs someone to clean up the streets. I'll write letters to you when I get the time. Oh, and from now on, 'Shithole #2' is code for Bludhaven. Shithole #1 is code for Gotham. Put any letters for me in the loose brick in the alley. You know the one, I think.
Tell Bruce I said hi.
"Tell Bruce I said hi? Who the hell is Bruce?" Barbara wondered. She put the postcard in her pillowcase for the time being. She'd destroy the letter later. The girl reached under her bed and found a notebook. She grabbed a pen and started writing.
Good job on giving the cops the run around…my dad is so steamed you wouldn't believe…
"Robin left me a postcard."
Batgirl looked to her mentor, wondering what his reaction would be. His expression didn't change. So she continued, "He said he'd be going to Bludhaven. It's worse than Gotham apparently. And he said to tell someone named Bruce he said hi. Do you know a Bruce?" She looked at him questioningly.
"I may know a few." Batman replied. For a moment, Batgirl thought she saw a slight smile on her mentor's face. But that was impossible. Batman never smiled. "You're done for the night. Good job."
Batgirl stared at him and started to protest, but Batman was already on his way. Batgirl huffed. Well, she could still do work on her own. Batman saw her flitting from rooftop to rooftop as he made his way to the Batmobile.
When he returned to Wayne Manor, the whole place was silent as usual. With only him and Alfred there, it was never very loud. He was about to head up the stairs and go to bed when he heard a noise. Frowning, Bruce followed it. It was coming from the kitchen. The light was on and creeping through the cracks of the door.
"Alfred? What are you doing up still?" Bruce asked, pushing the door open.
Robin was sitting on the counter, smirking and eating from a bag of chips. "Hope you don't mind. I got hungry. Decided to stop for a snack before I left."
"I had a feeling you hadn't left the city yet." Bruce replied.
"Nah. I'm going to, obviously. I mean I have to. But this place has kind of grown on me. I haven't left it since I got here as a kid." Robin said, taking a bite out of another chip. "It's weird, isn't it? When I got here, I figured I wouldn't be staying long. We'd be in Gotham for a week. Maybe two. If that. And I ended up being stranded here for years. I dreamed of leaving this place. But I never could bring myself to just pack up my shit and leave."
"I know the feeling." Bruce said. "So, how did you figure it out?"
"Wasn't hard. You and me are a lot alike, actually. You know, we lost our parents at the same exact age." Robin raised an eyebrow at him. "They were murdered, too. Just like mine. Only you inherited their millions. I got shoved into the Shithole."
Bruce smiled a bit. That was why he'd taken such an interest in the young boy. They were so alike. Only Robin hadn't had a home, or a friend. No one to turn to. Bruce had at least had Alfred. When he looked at Robin, he could see himself. "You know, you don't have to go. You could give up the Robin gig. Live a quiet life as Bruce Wayne's son."
"You can't adopt someone who doesn't exist, Bats." Robin replied. He grinned. "Besides…I work alone. So…you going to call the cops on me or are you going to give me a headstart?"
"What are your methods going to be in Bludhaven?" Bruce asked.
"Oh, you'll see. Gotta run." Robin grinned and slipped out the open kitchen window. Bruce shook his head and turned off the light. He headed upstairs to his bedroom. To his surprise, the window was open there as well.
Robin's gun, his last remaining deadly weapon since the League kept the knife as evidence, was lying on Bruce's bed. The boy had left a note that said:
You keep this. I won't need it anymore.
P.S. I think I've outgrown Robin. Nightwing has a good ring to it…don't you think?
And that's all, folks! Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed. I love seeing your feedback. If you liked this story, go over and read Behind the Mask.