Hello! Okay, so first I gotta say that I am not charlie009d...I am her Typing Monkey. I type most of her stories, as she does not have a computer. Now that I got that over with, I'll explain more about the story. One: this takes place after Trouble in Tokyo, and it's a sort of another apprentice story. Two: there is a teensy bit of RobStar. And I think that's it. For now.
Dear Master Robin,
I know it has been sometime since we last talked, but I would like to ask if you would join us for Christmas dinner at the manor and possibly stay until New Year's. Or, in the very least, stay until Christmas is over.
Now I know you and Master Batman have yet to settle your differences, but it would be nice to see you again. Also I would like to point out that he could have gone to Jump City and drug your "sorry buttocks" back to Gotham at any time, yet he didn't. So, to some degree, he respects your independence.
Some of the League will be attending our dinner. In fact, the whole dinner was Masters Flash and Kid Flash's idea.
All I ask of you is to attend this one dinner. He misses you, he truly does. Just yesterday I found him in your room looking through your photo album.
Please let me know if you will be attending, and remember this is a surprise for him. If you do choose to attend, there is a ticket to Gotham reserved under your last name waiting at the Jump City airport.
With best wishes and intentions,
Robin laughed to himself because he knew how much Bruce loved surprises. He didn't know if he was ready to confront his adoptive father yet though. The last time they had talked, Robin had told Bruce he hated him for trying to control his life. It had been true at the time, but he deeply regretted his harsh words. Bruce had been trying to protect him. And he had blown his top and told Batman, the Batman, to take a hike.
He had just received Alfred's e-mail. The old butler was trying to guilt him into spending his Christmas at Wayne Manor. Christmas was just a day away. Robin smiled at how clever Alfred really was. He missed his old friend. He missed Bruce too, though he'd never admit it. He idly wondered what members of the League would be attending the dinner, but in the end it didn't matter. It would be nice to see any one of them.
Robin sat down at his desk and pressed the reply button on his e-mail.
Dear Agent A,
Holy short notice! You're lucky the Titans and I have no Christmas plans other than hanging around. I can't believe KF put you up to this. And don't even try to defend him by saying it was the Flash too, I know it was all him. Anyway, I'm going to take the next flight out of Jump and hopefully I'll make it home by dinnertime tomorrow.
See ya then,
Robin shut down his computer. The rest of his team was doing last minute shopping. Luckily he had bought their gifts the previous month. He pulled the neatly wrapped packages out of his closet along with a backpack, a spare uniform, and two sets of clothing. He quickly undressed and put on a pair of jeans and a red t-shirt. Lastly, he peeled off his mask to reveal sapphire blue eyes.
He was no longer Robin the Boy Wonder, protégé of Batman. He was Dick Grayson, son of the late Mary and John Grayson, and adopted ward of Bruce Wayne. It was nice to let all the stress of being Robin go, at least for a little while.
He packed his spare uniform and his extra pair of clothes into his backpack. He pulled his wallet and ID out from under his mattress and threw them in the backpack as well. He again sat down at his desk. Opening his top drawer, he slipped out a fresh mask and his communicator. He put them in his back pocket and picked up a pen and paper to leave a note for his team.
I'm going to Gotham to be with my family over Christmas. Sorry about the short notice, even I didn't know until now. I will be back after New Year's. DO NOT open your presents until Christmas Day. That means you, Beast Boy.
Dick snatched the presents off his bed and left his room. When he arrived in the living room he arranged them around the tree and placed the note beside the TV remote to make sure it would be found. Casting one last glance at the empty living room, Dick left the Tower.
The coffee shop was practically empty. An elderly couple sat at a window seat, drinking coffee and eating blueberry muffins. A man sat alone in the back of the shop engrossed in his laptop. The teenage girl at the counter looked bored out of her mind. When Dick walked in, the girl's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.
"I'm Annabel," she gushed. "And you are?"
"Dating someone." Dick hesitated, "I'm sorry, that was rude. I'm Richard."
"Oh, a gentleman!" Annabel exclaimed. "Your girl must be lucky."
"I like to think she is," he laughed.
He suddenly felt guilty about leaving Starfire without saying goodbye. She would be so disappointed that she couldn't give him her gift on Christmas. He sighed, realizing he wouldn't be able to see her face when she opened her present from him. He shivered, suddenly feeling like he was being watched. He looked behind him to see the old couple had left, but no one was watching him. The man with the laptop was still engrossed in his work.
"I'm so sorry," Annabel blabbed. "Sometimes I speak before I think. It's just when I see a guy with blue eyes, I can't resist. Although, I've never seen Robin's eyes, but I still find him quite attractive."
He couldn't resist. "You know what I think?"
She put her elbows on the counter and leaned forward as if she couldn't hear him clearly. "What?"
"I don't think he has eyes under his mask."
Annabel giggled. "What can I get you?"
"A small black coffee, please." He looked around. "Do you have a restroom?"
"In the back, to the left."
Dick put down the money for his coffee and moved to the back of the store. The man with the laptop didn't even look up as he passed. He turned left and entered the men's room, locking the door behind him. He pulled out his mask and comm link out of his pocket. He put his mask on and phoned his team. After a few seconds, Beast Boy's face appeared on the screen.
"Yo, dude, what's up?"
Beast Boy blushed. "She and Raven are in Build-A-Bra."
Robin sighed. "Where's Cy?"
"Uh…he's in there too."
"Go get them."
The screen shifted and Robin could see the dirty pink carpet of Build-A-Bra. He could hear Beast Boy grumbling and Starfire giggling in the background. The screen again shifted and he swore that for a split second, he saw Cyborg holding up a green frilly bra. The screen finally settled on a frame of the team smiling at him.
"Hello, boyfriend Robin," Starfire greeted.
"Hey, Star," he replied awkwardly.
"What is wrong?"
"I'm leaving." He said bluntly. Noticing the expression on her face, he was quick to explain. "I'm staying with some family in Gotham over the holidays. I'll be back in about a week."
"You will not be joining us for the opening of the presents?"
"I'm sorry, Starfire. I put the presents from me under the tree, don't let Beast Boy get into them. I've got to go. Don't call unless it's an emergency."
With that, he ended the call.
He removed his mask, placing it and his communicator back in his pocket. He pushed the door open and was surprised to find that the man with the laptop had left. His coffee sat on the counter and Annabel was jabbering on the phone. Dick wished her a merry Christmas and left.
Dick wrapped his jacket tightly around himself. The sun was shining, but the air was cold. He held onto his coffee like it was his lifeline. It warmed his hands and the steam from it curved into the air like a snake. Taking a deep drink, he groaned and clutched his stomach. An ulcer was forming. He put too much pressure on himself for a boy of his age. He was responsible for a whole city.
He again felt as if he were being watched. Peering over his shoulder, he saw no one but people finishing their holiday shopping. He dropped his unfinished coffee in a trash can outside of the airport and walked in to be greeted with hundreds of people rushing to get on their planes. The noise was that of a wild animal that hadn't been fed in days. He meekly took his place at the end of the service line and as soon as he was in line, about fifty people lined up behind him.
The woman standing in front of Dick was juggling a newborn, a toddler, and a pair of twins. The twins ran in circles around their mother and shouted about some toy the other stole. Dick laughed to himself. The little boys reminded him of Beast Boy and Cyborg fighting over the game station controller.
The man that stood behind him gave him the willies. He was tall and had white-blond hair. He wore a black suit that was as dark as the night. He was so tall that he towered over Dick like a tree. What scared him through was not the man's size, but the black eyepatch that covered his right eye. He couldn't pinpoint it, but he could've sworn he knew him from somewhere.
"Excuse me, sir," Dick said politely. "Were you in the Ninth Street coffee shop about twenty minutes ago?"
The man thought for a moment. "Why, yes, I was doing some work on my laptop," he said, gesturing to the laptop case by his side.
The man's voice was smooth. It could make women melt like butter on a hot skillet. His words wound their way around Dick, squeezing him slowly like a deadly snake. He was probably a master negotiator, but Dick saw through his smooth talking. The man was pure evil. He had always learned never to judge a book by its cover, but he knew deep down that the man with the eyepatch was dark.
"Are you alone?" the man asked.
"No," Dick lied casually, "I'm here with my father." He pointed to a fair skinned man staring out the window. The man had black hair and green eyes. He was lost deep in thought. He actually looked very similar to Dick and could easily pass for his father. The man with the eye patch waved him down and told him Dick was a good kid. The man looked weirded out and walked away. Dick swore under his breath.
"I know you're Wayne's kid," the man said. "I do business with him."
"Oh," Dick said, relaxing slightly, "It's nice to meet you…"
"Mr. Wilson," he filled in. "And you are Richard Grayson."
"Dick, please," he said nervously.
"Next," the woman at the desk called.
Dick spoke to the woman, showed her his ID, and got his ticket. He held his breath as the men with the metals detectors waved their wands over him. His utility belt was made of a metal that couldn't be detected, but he still feared they would look in his bag and see his uniform. He already had a story ready. He was a nerd on his way to a LARP fest, and he had made the costume himself.
The men waved him through without looking in his bag and he breathed a sigh of relief. He couldn't get the image of Mr. Wilson out of his mind. The man gave him the creeps. Dick stepped onto the plane and found a window seat. Sitting down, he placed his forehead on the cool glass and shut his eyes. He would be in Gotham with his family soon. A tap on the shoulder caused him to jump slightly. Mr. Wilson stood over him and gestured to the empty seat beside him.
"The plane is full," he said. "May I sit next to you?"
"Sure," Dick said, not making eye contact.
"Are you going to Gotham as well?"
"Yeah, I've been attending a boarding school in Jump and Bruce could only get me a ticket back to Gotham on Christmas Eve," he lied. "Why are you going?"
"I have some…" Mr. Wilson paused, searching for the right words, "…personal matters to take care of."
Dick didn't know what his "personal matters" were and he didn't want to know. Once again resting his head against the window, he allowed himself to drift to sleep. He wasn't afraid that Mr. Wilson would try anything, the plane was much too full. He dreamed he was at the pizza parlor laughing about a joke he had already forgotten. Starfire was holding his hand and every once in a while, asking the meaning of one of the terrible jokes Beast Boy was telling.
He felt so happy just being around his friends. Speedy and Kid Flash were suddenly seated at the table laughing along with them. The pizza they ate was a supreme, his favorite. Beast Boy didn't complain about the meat and Cyborg didn't complain about the vegetables.
It was too good to last. The world turned black and he heard his friends scream. When light returned, all of his friends were bound and gagged. A small gun was in his hand, he held it away from his body as if he were afraid it was going to bite him. A hand rested on his shoulder and he looked up to see Slade towering over him. He guided Robin's arm to take aim at the middle of Speedy's forehead. Slade let go and ever so slowly, Robin began to pull back the trigger without persuasion.
Dick woke with a start. His heart was racing and he was drenched in a cold sweat. He placed his head in his hands, swallowing the bile that rose in his throat. He tried to push the image of willingly killing his friends from his mind. He would never hurt his friends. He felt a hand grip his shoulder and he slapped it away, still thinking about Slade. Seeing it was only Mr. Wilson, he apologized and turned away, embarrassed by his actions.
"Are you alright?" Mr. Wilson asked, genuine concern laced through his voice.
"Yeah," Dick panted, "Just a nightmare."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, I want to forget it."
Mr. Wilson went back to looking through his files. Dick looked out the window, snow covered the ground like a blanket. He sighed and mist covered the window. He sat back in his seat and watched the television, which was broadcasting the evening Gotham news. It was peaceful in the normally busy city, no bank robberies or murders. Dick imagined Bruce was thankful.
"By the way," Mr. Wilson said, not looking up, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," Dick muttered back. "What time is it?"
He checked his watch. "About 4:00, we'll be in Gotham soon."
Dick nodded his thanks and went back to watching the news. The lady on the screen warned them of icy roads and falling snow. He was beginning to regret not packing his iPod. Or in the very least, a book. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and focused on the fact that he would be seeing his family soon. His mouth watered at just the thought of Alfred's glazed ham.
A pleasant female voice came over the loudspeaker and asked that everyone put on their seatbelts, they were going to land soon. Dick clicked his belt into place and felt the plane shift downwards. The bump of the wheels meeting the ground caused him to jump in his seat. He laughed at himself and grabbed his backpack as everyone was exiting the plane.
The Gotham airport was just as busy as Jump. Dick made his way to a counter and bought himself a protein bar and a bottle of water. He greedily ate the bar and gulped down the water. His stomach was in pure agony, he felt like he had swallowed a lit match. He bought himself a packet of Aleve and took it dry, for he had already drank all his water.
Gotham was even colder than Jump, Alfred would be on his case about not wearing a proper coat as soon as he arrived at the manor. The cold air nipped his nose, turning it a bright red. His eyes watered and he tucked his freezing hands deep into his pockets trying to find some warmth. His breath appeared in the air before him like smoke from a cigarette.
"Do you need a ride?"
Dick jumped when a smooth voice penetrated his thoughts. He turned to see Mr. Wilson standing behind him. Why wouldn't the man leave him alone? All he wanted was to get away from the man with the eyepatch. Mr. Wilson had a deep darkness about him that made Dick want to run like a child frightened by a clown. He squinted up at the man.
"Do you need a ride?" Mr. Wilson repeated. "My car is just around the corner."
"No thank you," Dick said politely. "I can walk from here, it's not very far."
He shrugged. "Suit yourself,"
Dick breathed a sigh of relief as Mr. Wilson walked away, he hoped that the strange man was out of his life forever. He couldn't stand the thought of being alone in a car with him, filled with awkward silence so thick a knife could be taken to it. Wayne Manor was actually quite far away, too far for him to walk in the cold. Hailing a cab, he climbed into the back and told the driver his destination, who in turn greedily looked him up and down most likely hoping for a good tip. They made small talk about the weather and Christmas plans, nothing important.
It happened at a stop light.
Dick was seated in the back of the cab behind the passenger's seat. The driver was in his early thirties, he had olive tanned skin and dark hair. One thing he noticed about the man was that he never stopped talking. Gazing out the window at the passersby Dick noticed a black SUV barreling toward them. Before he could warn the driver about the threat that was quickly coming at them, the other car plowed into the passenger's side of the cab. Dick felt like a rag doll as his body was pitched around the inside of the cab. Something heavy hit his upper body, a scream of pain escaped his lips and the wind was knocked out of him. The seatbelt pulled his body back onto the seat and his head bounced against the window. The last thing he was aware of was the sickening squish of blood.
And then the world slipped away from him.
I hope you like it so far! Please review!