Summary: Two missions, decades apart. One ends successful, the other in a catastrophe that could change the course of history-exactly what the villain intended-forever. But can Robin handle the knowledge of the future, or will it crush him?
AN: I'd like to point out that there are NO OC's in this story. None. (Unless you count the drug dealer in the second scene... SPOILERS.) I did, however, take a little creative liberty and twisted the canon ever so slightly to fit where I wanted the story to go. I promise, all your questions will be answered in the next chapter, so just bear with me-everything in the first scene will be explained, so you don't have to go hunting around for information rather than actually reading the story. One quick note, though, is that Bruce Wayne's Batman costume in this story is his original design rather than the modified version that appears in the YJ cartoons-meaning it's not much different excepting the chest logo and waist area. You'll understand why in a bit.
Anyways, enough rambling! Enjoy the story- and I'd love feedback from you guys, both critical and encouraging! Please review! (:
Disclaimer: Do I look like I own this? No. So don't even ask.
Inky darkness that enveloped the notorious city in more ways than one fell like a smothering blanket across cracked brick buildings that towered across an invisible skyline back dropped against the barely-existent light of the clouded half moon. Hours had passed since any human eye would have been able to discern an object farther than half an inch away, offering an inviting solace to the midnight-clad man lurking in the endless shadows high above the city's dilapidated streets. To him, the night was a welcome home that aided him in his eternal-yet at times precarious-quest for the lighter side of good and evil's the ever-changing balance, though this had not always been the case. Once, so long ago, he had feared the darkness; he had cowered like a child in the face of gloom before, in it, he had found the one thing he longed for most in the aftermath of tragedy-understanding, solace, family. And yet, as he grew in the darkness, it never became his nature-no, he was not so inclined to tenebrosity as his forbearer had been, but he had learned to accept it, embrace it, love it.
A gloved hand reached upward toward his ear, unseen eyes flicking, alert, behind the green-tinged night vision visor that was activated undetectably outside his immediate line of vision as an unwelcome, faint burst of static broke the silent stealth of the night from his earpiece. "You sure you got this right, Bats?" a young, perpetually irritated voice crackled through the little bit of technology.
"You do know what radio silence implies, right?" the elder man retorted as quietly as he could-as each minute clicked forward, the separated pair's situation became more and more precarious. They were coming down to the crucial moments of their stakeout, and one wrong move could tip the scales of justice enough for their charge to escape-or, much worse, carry out the nefarious deed he was suspected of planning. "Keep an eye out; it's almost three- he should be here any moment."
With that, he lifted his hand to shut off communications once more, but not before his charge snapped, "You never did tell me who your 'sources' were, anyway! How do you even know it was reliable information? We've been here for hours, and this so-called Chronos guy hasn't shown hide or hair. Face it, he's not coming, and you're just afraid to admit you were wrong." Batman could practically hear the self-satisfied and degrading smirk through the airwaves, and he resisted the urge to sigh while trying to maintain some level of alertness to his surroundings.
"Just bear with me a little bit longer, kid. If he doesn't show within the next half hour, we'll head home, I swear. Until then, though, I need you too-" Whatever reminded warning the shadow-clad man had been about to pass on to the child was suddenly cut off as he ceased speaking, having been momentarily blinded through his night vision apparatus by an excessively bright light that burst through the broken glass window frames of the warehouse below the two costumed individuals. Suddenly, it was all business, and, with a quick, final, "Head out," spoken over the comm. link, both set out from their hidden spaces toward the offensive positions they had previously planned: the main exits. Each confidant that the other would fulfill their part of the mission, no more words needed to be exchanged.
Taking lead, the Batman swung like an ominous breeze from the rooftops, landing just low enough to scope out the main entrance for any markers of an entry he had missed. Despite the obvious signs of someone's presence inside the building, he had not seen anyone near the building for quite some time-in fact, it had been several hours since he had picked up on anyone's presence in the surrounding area at all. No late-night stragglers stumbling down the desolate sidewalk, no weary drivers slightly swerving across the streets, not even one homeless alley-dweller making his stay for the night beside some dumpster or another. How could he have missed it? Surely Robin would have reported if there had been signs of life revolving around his guarded side of the building... Once he was satisfied that there were no second-rate goons lurking to guard their boss from behind, the Cowled Crusader made his way onto the warehouse's roof before creeping through one of the many empty window frames and into the empty building below. Still recovering from the shock to his eyes, he squinted through the blackness, sharp senses hunting for any movement or sound that would give away the other's presence in the large, desolate room. A green blur-one obviously not made of his somewhat-inappropriately-bright companion-confirmed his suspicions as he whipped around, eyes adjusting further every moment. Another movement, this time to his left. Again at his right. He resolved to remain still, hoping to draw out the villain into a more centered position, relying on the assumption that he had not been spotted yet. Any chance of further anonymity was dashed, however, as a disturbingly chilled breeze wafted fiercely through the entryway behind him, ruffling his Kevlar-lined, midnight cape and effectively giving away his location to anyone keen enough to be watching. There was a fourth swipe of emerald-this time in front of him-and suddenly a figure was standing in the center of the concrete floor, illuminated by what could have been a reflection from some far-off streetlight, a stray line of moonlight peeking from behind the grey clouds that covered its father, the enhancement of the darkness-penetration viewing technology his pursuer possessed, or some random combination of all three.
"Ah, Batman, what an expected surprise!" The sickeningly gleeful voice echoed, turning to confront the focus of his statement as he swooped from the shadows. The sudden spike of static in his ear alerted him to Robin's close proximity, but he hoped the kid had enough sense to wait for his signal. He was reckless like that-always thinking he knew how to handle the situation best without taking into consideration a strategic standpoint and instead charging a situation head on, fists raised. He had warned the boy that, with this particular villain, especially, such methods could prove fatal, but he could only pray that at least part of his warnings had broken through the stubborn barriers around his already hard head. In some detached, juvenile part of his own mind, the Batman silently laughed-the kid was just like his father in some respects. "Though, of course, if I knew you were coming, it wasn't much a surprise, now was it? Such a shame... I do love surprises; although it's been quite some time since anyone has ever been able to pull such wool over my head." A darkly amused chuckle traveled into the darkness, causing the vigilante to tense and discretely check the time. They had only a few minutes left.
"What'd the big deal, Chronos? There's nothing here to steal, no one here to trade with-no possible way to make a profit of any kind from this little endeavor of yours. What are you playing at?" He demanded, taking a single, threatening step forward and raising a bat-a-rang on instinct, poised to throw in the increasingly inevitable event that he should need to.
"Oh, don't tell me you haven't figured it out, Batsy-I know you have, so don't lie to me!" the man grinned, and for a moment Batman was struck by the unnerving similarities that paralleled the Joker. He wondered briefly if, at some point during his travels, the villain had crossed paths with his fellow madman. "I've been leaving clues absolutely everywhere for you to find," he lamented dramatically, throwing his hands in the air with a scowl, causing Robin-who was now watching the exchange barely off to the side-to jump at the sudden movement. Unfortunately, this alerted Chronos to his presence, and he laughed once more. "You brought the little Bird Boy! Oh, I should have guessed-but this was supposed to be our night, Batsy. Your big solo performance for the final scene of the show!"
HIs position having been compromised, Robin took up a fighting stance and immediately leapt into action, no longer having any legitimate reason to stay subdued. "Oh, shut up, already!" he growled, having lost any patience for this night several hours ago, when the endless stakeout had still been in progress. Training kicking in, he dashed forward and released several bird-a-rangs directly at the seemingly-helpless villain, completely ignoring the both elder hero's warning and the but-job's squeal of joy.
"Let's rewind that, shall we?" Before he could register what was happening, the explosives froze in their path toward Chronos, standing still in the air for a split second before twirling backwards the way they had come at double the speed. Though they didn't explode, their razor-sharp edges were more than deadly as he tumbled out of the way just in time to avoid being sliced by his own weapon. "Time manipulation ... don't you just love it?" Another laugh. Frustrated at being so easily dismissed and completely fed up with the evening as a whole, he lunged again, only this time to have his whole body come to a stunted halt in mid-movement. Try as he might, he had no control over his movements. Batman, seeing an opportunity, used the momentary distraction to his advantage and launched the waiting bat-a-rang directly at the villain, not expecting anything to come of the attempt other than a few stalled seconds. He only needed to keep Chronos occupied until three o'clock, when Chronos's own time would be up. Instead, however, the time traveler acted a millisecond too late-while there was no explosion from the little black device, it soared directly toward him, still lethal, mirroring the situation he had created for the sidekick not moments before. In the blink of an eye, he cried out, stumbling forward from the impact. Robin fell to the ground, the invisible hold on him released, yet he could not get his hands out in front of himself in time to break his fall; the side of his head met the concrete with an all-too-audible crack. Almost immediately, the cocky grin melted from the now-rapidly-shifting face of the villain, his manifestation quickly crumbling as his body tried to stabilize itself, already so close to deforming.
Thinking quickly, Batman realized what was happening, and acted almost without consciously deciding on his movements-the plan had been set in motion early, and he had no choice but to move forward and improvise. Another bat-a-rang was fired, though Chronos flickered at the moment of contact and the weapon passed through him-he was nearly too far gone to be pinned in this timeline, and precious time was slipping away. There was no telling where or when the villain would pop up again, and now was his only chance to prevent even more chaos than the metahuman had already caused. Chronos, in a last ditch effort to stabilize himself before shifting away without his control, reached for the closest thing to him: Robin, who was just now attempting to gather his bearings from the fall, struggling into a wobbly standing position, determined not to be taken down before he was given the chance to fight. Knowing what would happen if the two made contact and desperately hoping that there was still enough time to pin Chronos to this reality, Batman, fueled with adrenaline and familial instinct, pounced, throwing himself through the air and, by some miracle, tackling the panicking man to the ground before he latched onto the younger hero. His victory was short lived, however, as he realized that he was too late: Chronos's body was beginning to dissipate into another time stream completely, and-because of the sudden contact-Batman's molecules became sucked along into the interdimensional frenzy, as well.
Robin could only watch, through the disorienting fog still clouding his mind, as his mentor cried out in agony, his body rapidly ripping apart across time streams, before both he and the man pinned underneath him disappeared completely.
I've got a visual! Artemis's mental voice rang through the minds of four other teens scattered throughout the rooftops and containers that made up the small shipping port where the team was currently located. The archer, situated at the highest, clearest point atop the main building located at the center of the complex, honed in on a shadowy figure swerving frantically throughout the labyrinth of usually-colorful containers made only all the more confusing by the darkness as the rest of her team moved out, waiting for the order to fire the arrow notched in her bow, ready and waiting against the taut string. She relayed the man's position through the telepathic link as best she could, before releasing the weapon at Kaldur'ahm's order. It soared through the still night air, slicing through the sky like a silent, deadly blade, before its loaded tip blew, expanding into a comically large, weighted net and falling over the criminal who stumbled to the ground under the impact.
Kid Flash, Miss Martian, that is your cue, Aqualad relayed telepathically from his hiding place as he watched two separate events simultaneously. The apprehension of the petty henchman was only a distraction-a decoy to sway the team away from the actual high-end drug deal taking place on the other side of the compound, both of which were in Kaldur's line of vision from his place aside his fellow blonde teammate. Remember, it must be convincing. We do not wish to alert them of our knowledge of their actual dealings. Robin, Superboy; are you in position?
Mental affirmatives passed across everyone's thoughts as Wally and M'gann approached the fallen-and quite obviously shaken up-scrawny criminal they had captured, prepared to play up the apprehension. Immediately, the redheaded speedster had the young man pulled up by the scruff of his collar, "Alright, where's the shipment?" he demanded fiercely, trying desperately not to laugh at how... un-Wally-like he sounded as the Martian girl hovered ominously in the background, arms crossed and an attempted scowl spread over her facial features. Despite how terribly they posed as stoic, threatening heroes, the man only whimpered in response. "This is just sad, dude," Wally continued, "You're caught, give it up already. You're going to jail either way-breaking and entering, trespassing, possession of illegal substances," he gestured to the decoy package that appeared to contain a rather substantial amount of cocaine clutched in the frightened man's shaking hands. "You might as well tell us where the rest of it is. We know you weren't working alone."
On cue, M'gann broke in, placing a hand on the speedster's shoulder, "I don't think he's going to tell us anything else; when the police get here, they can handle him, but he we're not going to hear anything more tonight." At her words, the man visibly relaxed, sagging in the teen's grip and subsequently passing out. While the two heroes made a show of tying him up for the authorities, Robin, on the other side of the complex, watched the main exchange happen in real time. Several large, muscled, masked men were transferring crates from one of the docked ships to the trunks of several dark-tinted vans. The men were silent as they worked, mindlessly going about their assigned tasks as if nothing was wrong. With a shudder, he wondered if they even knew what it was that they were carrying. Turning his attention away for a moment, he focused on the apparent leader of the entire deal: a thin, yet deceptively muscular man in a rather nice-looking suit and tie. He had one hand pressed to his ear, a self-satisfied smirk plastered across his features as he listened to the entire conversation held by his 'sacrificial man' and the two members of the Team through a hidden wire in the thug's coat, believing he had outsmarted the mini-League. After sending a mental all-clear to Superboy, who was watching the men from across the lot, he released his grappling hook and took off. This was their moment, and there was no room for making mistakes.
Despite what it may have appeared to be to an outsider, the truth remained that this was no ordinary drug deal. The Team had been tracking the couture-clad man, formally known as the cartel kingpin El Rey Sol, for weeks, tracking his movements and trying to determine when his next shipment would arrive-because if the man wasn't stopped, it could mean serious danger for more people than just the usual addicts. El Rey Sol, a self-proclaimed high-end dealer, operated with some of the more posh supervillains of the day, and made it his business to be in production of some of the most exclusive, custom, black-market substances known to man and metahuman alike. Although there was no way to confirm from a distance, the Team's sources had hinted that this particular haul of cargo was an assorted amalgam of the Joker's Laughing Gas and Scarecrow's Fear Toxin, two deadly substances that the youngest member present was all-too-familiar with.
In a matter of minutes, however, the entire ordeal seemed to be over, making for a somewhat disappointingly anticlimactic end to all of their hard work as the fight came to a head and quick end. Thanks to their treasured element of surprise, Connor was able to take down two guards almost immediately after leaping from the shadows, before quickly disposing of the rest. At the same time, Robin swooped from above, landing atop El Rey Sol and pinning him to the ground before he was even aware of what was happening. He struggled, attempting to fight off the Boy Wonder, and spat curses as he watched his supposedly-infallible defense team being subdued for collection by the Gotham City Police Department.
"Nice job with those knots, beautiful," Wally winked, gesturing toward the rope from Artemis's net used to bind the hands and feet of the decoy until the proper authorities could arrived to collect him, "with skill like that, you know you can tie me up any time." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and grinned, his green-skinned friend only rolling her eyes in response and beginning to hover away, ignoring yet another flirtatious comment thrown at her by the young speedster. With a small, uncharacteristic smirk on her part, she realized that she was starting to act like Artemis in the face of Kid Mouth's 'advances'. Soon, the pair was headed toward Batman's protégé and the young clone, with whom the rest of the team had agreed to regroup, Wally having slowed down to a semi-normal pace in order to keep up a one-sided conversation with the Martian girl as the traveled. While making their way across the compound, M'gann busied herself with ignoring Kid Flash's endearing-though somewhat annoying-ramblings by scanning over the emotions of everyone within the complex, just to be sure that they had taken out all immediate threats. Suddenly, however, she stopped dead in her tracks, leaving Wally to continue on for several more steps before realizing she was no longer with him. "What's up, Miss M?" he said, turning to find her back facing toward him, staring confusedly at something off to her right.
To everyone else's surprise, the four other members felt the internal pricking sensation as the mental link was reestablished across the team. Miss Martian, is something wrong? Kaldur asked immediately, retreating into the darkness at the base of the building he and Artemis had just descended as the archer stopped and made herself scarce- yet still very deadly- as well. Similarly, Robin, after securing El Rey Sol, quickly scaled a stack of shipping containers with his grapple in hopes of getting a better vantage point of the happenings, all the while blending with the shadows as he had been taught from an early age by his mentor. Superboy was left in charge of their prisoners, but-as most were either unconscious, half-conscious, or unwilling to fight lest they join their comrades in oblivion, there was not much for him to worry about other than his girlfriend's unnerving actions.
It's... weird. I can sense someone else here, but they keep fading in and out, she transmitted as she began to hover in the direction of the intense emotions-which happened to be away from either of the deals.
What, you mean like when someone's unconscious? Wally asked, raising an eyebrow as he followed M'gann through the maze of metal boxes. 'Cause there are a few of those around here, and I don't think you'll need to worry about them.
No, almost like they're leaping out of existan-
Suddenly, her words in their thoughts were cut off as another, new voice entered their heads, immediately putting everyone on edge. Ugh, what- where... Robin!
At the distressed mental cry, every member of the team sprung into action, heading straight for the source of the anomaly. As quickly as she could, M'gann cut off the link that had somehow been established with the newcomer, confused and upset in the face of her mistake. She had been learning to better control her powers, and thought she had made some sort of progress. This, it seemed, was a major setback-how could she let a stranger enter their mental link?
Robin, Kaldur called as he and Artemis made their way toward the source of the commotion, Are you alright?
Yeah, I'm not sure what that was all about-I'm fine.
Miss Martian, what was that?
Through her reply, everyone could feel her guilt at having messed up yet again-being the least experienced of the team had its continual disadvantages, try as she might to remedy them. I have no idea, but whoever it was has managed to stabilize himself consciously. I don't think he's on the move yet, thoug- Wally's voice interrupted her. The Fastest Boy Alive had raced ahead to scope out what they were dealing with, and now stood, frozen, in front of a struggling, cloaked figure lying crumpled on the ground.
Uh, hey Rob? You might want to get over here, like, now, man. He sprinted toward the fallen man and began checking for a pulse just as Miss Martian appeared over the crates.
"Is that... Batman?" she asked, stunned, as she quickly headed to help her teammate.
"C'mon, are you with me?" Wally asked the face-down figure, only earning a weak moan in response. Although that in itself was disturbing, the pair nearly jumped in surprise as they managed to turn the injured man over.
"Get back, guys- that's not Batman," Robin growled, emerging from the maze around them and dashing over toward the imposter as he opened his eyes and immediately shot up, causing all five gathered teens to shift into fighting stances.
"Robin!" he yelled, frantically turning around before his eyes came to rest on the Boy Wonder, "Robin?" he took a hesitant step forward, but staggered, pain shooting through his body as he nearly collapsed.
"Don't you dare move," the little one growled menacingly, "Now who are you, and why are you dressed like that? Don't you know it could get you killed out here?"
"I think he does, Rob," Artemis broke in, approaching the man just as he fell to his knees. "He's hurt, and it doesn't seem that he's much of a threat-let's get him to a hospital before he really does die on us."
Their leader nodded in agreement, approaching the newcomer, "Robin, contact the League and tell them that Sol has been captured and his shipment secured for their disposal. We will alert the authorities- Superboy, keep an eye on this man as a precautionary measure." With that, he stepped to the side as he contacted the GCPD and requested an ambulance.
As Robin made a similar move to do so, however, the man-who had been squinting all the five costumed teenagers surrounding him over the course of the conversation, suddenly groaned, causing Miss Martian to approach worriedly, prepared to smooth over his pain with her healing abilities. Despite the fact that his presence was cause for concern, she could not help but know that he was not a threat, and that he seemed familiar somehow. "Let me help you-"
"Robin," he called weakly, earning a wary glance from Batman's protégé as he muttered something into his communicator.
Wally and Artemis joined their Martian friend, exchanging worried looks just as the man finally collapsed. The redheaded boy managed to catch him before he hit the cold, hard, concrete ground, chuckling nervously, "Whoa, there-careful."
"Wally," the man moaned, causing the speedster to jump as if burned and everyone within hearing distance to tense-no one, no one was supposed to know their secret identities. Suddenly, this man was absolute priority. "Wally, what happened?" Before any questions could be asked, though, he slipped back into unconsciousness.
"Rob, get Batman here, now," he called to his friend. "We've been compromised."