Disclaimer: The idea of the media popularizing the thought of Dick and Barbara getting married was originally from GraysonsGirl and her Teen Titans story: "Drive By Media." I have asked permission to use it for my own YJ story. All copyrighted characters also do not belong to me.
Notes: I'M ALIVE! I have no excuses for not updating since last May. I sincerely apologize, and would like to thank everyone who've stuck by me, and even as far as PMing me! I really appreciate it.
Similarly to the last chapter, there will be multiple scenes taking place at once. Team Alpha (Karen, Cassie) are at the party with M'gann agreeing to go to Gotham City to find Barbara. Team Beta (Superboy, Lagoon Boy, and Beast Boy) are in Metropolis, with BB having been shot down. Team Gamma (Nightwing, at the party with Alpha, and Batgirl, recently caught spying at the docks of Gotham), and Team Zeta (Mal and Robin-and technically Lois) are at the mountain; all communication signals are down and only the mindlink is running with the occupants in Gotham City.
Also: I tried to get this chapter out as soon as it was finished, so there will be lots of errors, I'm sure. I hope you guys don't mind.
Wally sighed at the realization that he had to eat dinner alone again. Before he could open the fridge though, the phone rang.
It was Robin's voice. Or Tim. Wally wasn't quite sure which identity was on the other line, and it's time like these that he had to keep things neutral. It was the same problem back with Dick.
"Is Artemis there?"
"Nope," he responded. The redhead kept the phone wedged in between his cheek and shoulder as he rummaged through the fridge. "Want to leave a message, bro? You could try texting her, but she hasn't responded to me, and no offense, if she hasn't answered my messages, she isn't going to touch yours."
"Do you know where she is?"
Wally frowned. The kid was straight to the point. That could only mean team-related things.
"Uh, she said babysitting at Roy's—"
Robin promptly hung up on him.
Wally sighed. Different from Dick in so many ways, but when it came to manners, Tim was just like every other Robin before him.
Pulling out his phone again, he checked for any text messages from his girlfriend. Still none. But if Tim—no, Robin—needed her right away, it must be an emergency, and emergencies meant Artemis the archer rather than Artemis Crock, and that meant…
"Time to get the costume."
Karen hummed thoughtfully to herself for a few seconds, studying the ballroom and all of the entertained guests, most of which were either dancing or talking amongst themselves. She glanced back up at the charming man in front of her, so carefully put together with his combed hair and neatly manicured everything. A contrast to their ever fearless leader who kept his hair windswept and would, to her memory, jump into the pools of mud in order to chase after Wally West. She briefly wondered which one was the true persona, and which was the alias.
"So, Dick," Karen started, just after sipping from her glass of champagne.
"Yes, Miss Beecher?" Dick responded with a flashy grin and a crinkle in his eye—enough to draw out the rouge in Cassie's cheeks and prompting her to press her lips together and look down onto the floor.
"What in God's name drove you to bring a date to yours and Barbara Gordon's engagement dinner?"
Beside her, Cassie spat into her glass as Dick's mouth dropped at her bluntness—a sharp look of pain was quickly masked by a false sense of amusement.
"Karen!" Cassie began but hurriedly turned to the host of the party. "Mr. Grayson—Dick—she didn't mean to be so rude! Please don't be mad and—"
Dick held up his hand to stop the blubbering girl. "It's alright, Miss Sandsmark. And," he turned to the dark skinned girl, "I'm afraid you misunderstood and may not have read the invite correctly. This is merely a party that I'm hosting under the suggestion of your…employers and colleagues," he said, with a lowered tone of voice. "And if you recall, my engagement with Barbara was…well, it was never meant to be."
He paused just as a server walked by, placing his empty glass onto their tray, and declining another drink. Shoving both hands into the pockets of his dress pants, he drew his attention to the girls again. "And I don't know about you," he continued, "but as a single man, don't you think I'm obliged to bring whomever I wanted to?"
"You didn't think about…" She paused to lower her voice, remembering where they were and what kind of crowd they were with. Her eyes weary of any guests who had no business listening into their conversation. "You didn't think about how Barbara would feel?"
At the comment, Karen saw Dick visibly gulp, and had the urged to smack him at the back of his head for doing something she knew was stupid. However much she fought that urge though, she didn't contain herself from rolling her eyes, realizing that that was the reason why her redheaded friend was nowhere to be found, and why M'gann was off searching for her in Gotham City.
The party host kept still though, refrained from shifting uncomfortably at Karen's accusing scowl and Cassie's apologetic, yet confused face. He was tempted to say something, but could only think about the last time he saw Barbara.
Luckily, or so he thought, before he could come up with a response, someone had tapped him on the shoulder; Dick turned around to see Alfred.
"Pardon me, young sir, but I believe it is customary for the host to properly greet his guests." The older man directed his shoulders to lead Dick's vision towards the stage area.
Dick cleared his throat. "Right. Thanks for reminding me, Alfred." Turning back to the girls, he nodded his head again. "Miss Sandsmark, Miss Beecher, if you'll excuse me."
He followed his butler towards the front of the ballroom, taking the microphone from the band playing and readying to recite the speech he memorized the morning of. Of course, it wasn't until he turned on the microphone, that he would hear Miss Martian's voice through their mind link.
"Nightwing? I've hit a bit of a snag here…"
In a city of millions, tracking down a certain bat with the ability to block off her mind was proving rather difficult for M'gann. She had stopped by at the library, the Gordon residence, as well as the police station, but it was clear that wherever Barbara was, she wasn't in any of those three places.
She must be on patrol, M'gann assumed as she flew through the musky city air. She grimaced at the feeling of pollution against her skin, but continued on regardless.
M'gann had originally used the bioship to transport herself around Gotham City, but when trying to find the redheaded bat became harder than it looked, the Martian had to remove herself from her ship and complete her mission the hard way.
She was almost at the edge of the city and approaching the docks when a scream was heard. Stopping midair, M'gann turned around to see some familiar—in a sense that she remembered seeing it in Robin's Gotham Bingo Card—figures terrorizing the streets and escaping what appeared to be a bank.
Eyes glowing green, M'gann flew directly at them.
"Nightwing?" she called out. "I've hit a bit of a snag here."
"Snag?" It was Karen who responded, alerting the alien that Nightwing (Dick) was a bit preoccupied to answer.
"Bank robbery, I think. I don't see any…"
M'gann paused, squinting whilst flying closer to the figurines, trying to figure out who was leading the crime. Suddenly, several explosions followed by a burst of flames hit the building adjacent to her; M'gann's eyes widened and her body froze at the sight of the burning apartment on the brink of collapse. Her vision was swallowed by red and yellow.
"M'gann? M'gann, are you okay?"
"Miss Martian, it's Nightwing. Can you hear us?"
After a deep breath and a moment to study her surroundings, Miss Martian responded, "Yes, I'm fine." She could feel the arm around her gripped tightly as its owners legs continue to propel them away from the series of explosions that took place down the block. She glanced up at the familiar person, making eye contact. "Kid Flash saved me."
Next to her, the man grinned.
"Happy to help, Meg-a-licious"
A relieved sigh could be heard, though no one could tell whose it was. It was followed by Nightwing's voice: "Do you guys need backup?"
Both Kid Flash and Miss Martian looked up, and watched the destruction taking place.
"Killer Croc and Firefly. I think Miss Martian and I can handle it for now, right?"
"A team-up should be good." Miss Martian told him, pursing her lips at the sight of the flamethrowers constructed around the flying Gotham villain's back. She turned to Kid Flash who was already adjusting his goggles. With a nod, he sped off towards the destruction and she chased him through the air.
"Awesome. No biggie, 'Wing. Just your usual, day-to-day Gotham takeover. We'll call if we need back up," Kid Flash added, whilst making hand signals toward Miss Martian. She smiled with nostalgia, but as everyone else went back to their work, she made sure to tell Nightwing: "I still can't find Batgirl."
"...Okay. I'll take care of it."
"Roy?" Robin asked, flinching at the sound of a shrieking infant in the background.
The former archer growled angrily on the phone, muttering curses that made the young boy uncomfortable and Mal and Lois click their tongues in disapproval.
"What? Just what is it that you guys keep calling me about—damn it, I just got her to sleep too."
Robin made an apologetic face, though unseen by the person on the other line, but before he could speak, his brows twisted at a thought and he approached his computers with haste. "Wait, you're at home with Lian?"
"What does it sound like?" The older man seethed.
The teenager shook his head in confusion. "But Artemis was—"
"Are you f—Argh, are you kidding me? First Wally and now you?" The tone of his voice grew as Lian's cries triumphed over his. "No, Artemis isn't here, and she's not babysitting and no, I don't know where she is, but you tell her to go find Jade because her daughter won't stop crying!"
"Jade?" Robin repeated the name. It had been a while since he heard it. Really, by the time he signed up for the superhero gig, Jade Nguyen was merely Roy's wife and the mother of his child. There wasn't much Cheshire-activity that he knew of as of late, aside from the occasional coercing that the League did to persuade her to help out.
Roy grunted on the other side of the call, and the toddler's crying seemed to have died down. "She told me she was looking for a job the other day and I haven't seen her since."
Robin and Mal Duncan shared a look before turning back to the screen in front of him.
"How long ago?"
Inside the factory, Superboy, Lagoon Boy, and Blue Beetle stared in shock at the crowd that met them. The woman, leading the group of armed men, had her boot down on a struggling Beast Boy on the floor; a crossbow was held with one hand, the other pulling the blonde hair aside.
"I-Is that…Artemis?" Lagoon Boy's face twisted at the sight, watching the woman across from them smirk so cruelly.
Superboy, in all his rage, clenched his fist. He kept himself from panting heavily, but the thick air kept him from doing so. His eyes darted between the figures in front of him, and a stunned down Beast Boy, hoping that whatever he was shot down with, that it wasn't life-threatening. The clone told himself it should be nonlife-threatening. It shouldn't be, not when she shot him…But then, he thought, why would she shoot him.
"Artemis?" Blue Beetle repeated the name, equally confused, but it was Superboy who responded, rather than their enemy.
"That's not Artemis."
As if on cue, the woman threw her unloaded crossbow aside with a snarky laugh. "Good eye," she commented, her sultry voice reminding the team of her identity. Jade continued to twirl a strand of blonde hair between her fingers while pressing her boot down harder onto Beast Boy—he groaned and attempted to move, but his actions seemed slow and exhausted him further.
Jade clicked her tongue, pouting her lips at the sight of the fallen boy beneath her foot. "Poor baby hero. I wouldn't try to move if I were you. That toxin inside you is pretty nasty."
She angled her head upwards just as she heard an intimidating growl come from Superboy, and with an outstretched hand, she signaled for one of Luthor's henchman to come over; the lackey handed her her Cheshire mask before stepping aside. The Asian woman was about to place it where it belonged when a voice interrupted her. Everyone turned to the familiar man.
"What's going on here?" Lex asked, marching out from the back offices with his posse following behind. His stern face remained still, but it was clear he could see the uninvited company surrounding Jade.
"Your son and his playmates decided to crash the party," the assassin answered.
Lex frowned. "I thought you told me the wedding would distract them in Gotham."
Superboy and his team stared at Luthor in astonishment. It was Lex? And for this?
The boy of steel slowly adjusted his sight, cautious of the enemies before him, but still studying his surroundings. It represented the outside of the building perfectly: it was a factory. A working one, clearly. He could hear the whorls of operating machinery, and the refinement of some sort of…Rock?
Kryptonite. Superboy could already feel the heavy bruising along his arms just from the workshop air. He tried to calm himself without the need of taking in a deep breath.
"I thought you told me no one would know about this place," Jade argued.
Similarly to Superboy –Jade almost snorted—the bald man growled.
"Finish your job," he demanded, prompting Jade to become Cheshire with a swift attachment of her mask. He then turned to the young heroes. With a smug look, Lex said, "Conner, so glad to see you looking so well. We should really get together sometime for a nice father-son bonding trip."
"What?" Superboy wasn't quite sure if the Kryptonite was messing with his hearing. However, Lex decided to keep speaking.
"Unfortunately I am quite busy, so you'll have to set an appointment with my assistant." He paused to turn to the woman behind him. "Mercy?"
At the call of her name, the cyborg stepped forward, stretched her arm, which began to rearrange itself into the cybernetic gun.
All was silent as Lex casually walked off back into his office.
Superboy was the first to react, but the missile from Mercy caught him off guard; Blue Beetle was quick to chase after Luthor, while Lagoon Boy handled the other henchman.
From behind the mask, Jade smirked, readying her weapons. "Alright kiddies, time to play."
"No worries, boss! Karen and I can take care of this party."
"Yeah, you go find Batgirl!"
"Thanks," Dick responded. He had thanked his party guests for arriving, but had equally quickly excused himself from the time being, though not without encouraging the party so as to not seem so suspicious for leaving suddenly. With the help of Alfred, he snuck into the back carefully to put on his Nightwing costume. He opened up his computer soon after he got to the city borders.
While initially, he had assumed Barbara was locked up in her room and so he sent Miss Martian, the fact that she wasn't spotted meant that Barbara Gordon wasn't in the city. Rather, the costumed hero was; and luckily, Batman always had backup trackers, whether it is on the person themselves or the costume.
Nightwing sighed impatiently as the computer ran its scan across Gotham. He should've automatically assumed that Barbara would be venting her anger by punching it out of shady crooks. He knew her well enough that she wouldn't be digging a well in her mattress with a tub of ice cream. And yet he sent Miss Martian to the city without checking the tracker first.
Stupid, he called himself, and for that moment, a list of things he had done this week appeared in his mind.
Finally, the gauntlet started to beep, and Nightwing studied the map. She was at the docks.
And the distress signal was on.
A/N: Artemis was never meant to be the villain in this. It was always Jade in blonde. Artemis, however, does have a reason for not being where she's supposed to be. It'll be answered maybe like, in a few chapters or something. Not quite important as what else is happening now, is it?
And I'll try to update when I can. It won't be as long as the last time, but midterms are coming up, so it, unfortunately, won't be as immediate as I'd like it to be. However, please continue with your support! I adore each and every one of your comments. This story is ending and will end within 3-5 chapters.