A/N: Several things about this story:
1.) It's an AU, completely and entirely! Roy isn't a clone, the Light probably won't exist, Jason is going to be older...Many examples of why this is an AU.
2.)I typed this up a loooooong (not really that long, but still) time ago. I am aware of what in inaccurate.
3.)OOCness will probably occur...
4.)I own absolutely nothing.
Alrighty, I think that's it for now. Onwards and upwards! Here is the story!
Ch. 1- Disappointments
"You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won't happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, 'I don't care how hard this is, I don't care how disappointed I am, I'm not going to let this get the best of me. I'm moving on with my life."
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
"You're benching me!?" a frustrated Robin shouted at Aqualad.
"Robin, you must understand that we are up against an enemy with skills that we have yet to witness. As it is yet unsure whether or not he has superhuman abilities it is safest if you remain here," the leader attempted to explain.
After hearing of the potential danger their latest mission against a man known as Deathstroke could have, the team instantly became concerned for their youngest member's safety. He had, after all, just bounced back from a rather nasty stab wound. The team decided to take a vote on the matter and the majority vote said no. Aqualad, as the leader, had to break the news to the kid.
"Artemis is human too! I don't see you holding her back!" Aqualad looked around the room for assistance, but everyone else had already gone to the Bio-Ship.
"We need her for long range attacks," the Atlantian explained.
"I can throw Birdarangs," Robin deadpanned.
"I apologize, Robin, but seeing as you are recently healed we do not wish to see you injured so soon. You cannot come," Aqualad visibly saw the younger boy's jaw tense, but that was all the emotion he got.
"Fine," the Boy Wonder's voice was completely level, "Don't expect to see me when you get back," with that he turned his back on Kaldur and walked down the nearby hall.
Once the younger teen was out of sight, Aqualad immediately relaxed. It was times like this when Kaldur saw Robin's inner Batman, and it terrified him.
"Hey, Kaldur, did you tell him yet?" Kid Flash asked seemingly materializing next to the Atlantian.
"You're still alive?" Wally asked in amazement.
"Yes, but I do fear that we made a mistake in this decision," Kaldur said.
"Of course you all did!" the speedster shouted. He'd been the only one against Robin's benching.
"We can discuss this later. First we have a mission to complete." KF nodded in agreement and the two stalked toward the Bio-Ship.
Robin's argument with Kaldur was only the beginning. The next day, while on patrol with Batman, strike two happened. The night had started relatively normal, a bank robbery here, a hostage situation there, but then things took a turn downhill. Apparently the Joker was free again, only this time he had Harley with him. Robin saw nothing new with this situation, but for some reason Batman was feeling particularly protective. The Boy Wonder was sent home.
Once at the mansion, Robin, or Dick Grayson as he was once again, went straight to his room. He was getting real sick of all of the coddling lately. Seriously, the doctor cleared him to return to his normal activities three days ago, why was everyone still worried? First the team, where he was the most experienced, and then Batman. Dick understood that some things were too dangerous for him, but he'd fought the Joker before. He was thirteen years old now. He could handle himself.
"Master Richard," Alfred's voice pulled the boy from his thoughts.
"Yes Alfred?" he asked looking up from the floor he'd been glaring at.
"Master Bruce wanted me to tell you that-"
Dick let out a hollow chuckle, "He can't make it?"
"Yeah, I expected as much. If he manages to call back before fighting the Joker, tell him I'm unavailable if he wants to talk," he shook his head and chuckled again, "Is it a problem when I'm more surprised to see him than I am when he's gone?" then quieter he added, "I guess being Robin changed nothing."
"Master Richard," Alfred said gently, "Master Bruce does care for you."
"I know," Dick said as he sat down on his bed.
Sensing that the boy wished to be alone, Alfred quietly walked out of the room.
He does care, Dick reassured himself mentally before saying aloud, "He just doesn't care about me enough to drop his things when I need him." Yeah, Dick knew he was being a bit selfish, but Bruce was the one who decided he just had to miss his young ward's visit to his parents' graves. And on the fifth anniversary of their deaths too... Richard hadn't minded when he'd missed the third anniversary, much, but this was the fifth anniversary. Half a decade since Dick had seen them fall to their deaths. To top it all off, he wasn't missing the visit for Batman business like last time; he was missing it for Bruce Wayne business. The world wouldn't end if he skipped and yet he was still going.
With a yell of frustration, Dick picked up one of the textbooks he'd left on his bed from when he'd come back from school and threw it at the wall. Hard. He was starting to sympathize with Spee- Red Arrow. Roy had been in Dick's position before, being treated as insufficient when he knew he wasn't. But, Roy left once he realized that he deserved more respect. Dick didn't think he could just up and leave Bruce, Alfred, Barbara…They were his family now. Young Justice was his family too.
But look how they treat you, the darker side of Richard pointed out, they act like they don't think you can handle yourself in combat. You'll always be a child to them no matter how old you get. Even the lighter part of Dick's conscience agreed to that. He shuddered slightly at the thought of people calling him "Boy Wonder" when he was legally an adult.
Getting up and pacing about his room, Richard Grayson tried to come to a conclusion about his next course of action. The League was never going to view him as an equal; he'd always be the baby in their eyes. And he wasn't about to go pulling a Speedy by barging out and becoming a solo hero in less than a month. Nope, he was too smart for that. Dick disliked how he was being treated, but that didn't mean he was ready to go at it alone yet…But he could always find someone to train him. In fact, young Richard Grayson knew the perfect person for the job, but Bruce would definitely not agree with his choice.
In the end, Dick realized that in order for him to successfully be treated fairly, he'd have to leave. The League and Young Justice were too accustomed to seeing him as their little brother/son/nephew, he'd never get anywhere with opinions like that.
Dick shook his head and plopped back down on the bed. He'd had a tough few weeks, he was being irrational. He wasn't leaving anytime soon. But just in case, the Boy Wonder came up with a plan that'd safely get him as far as Blüdhaven before Bruce even knew he was gone.
Just pretend nothing's wrong, Grayson, he told himself, unease wracking through his small frame before he went to bed that night, you don't want the others catching on to any of this.
And nobody did catch on. In fact, one could say things went completely back to normal. Nobody noticed the slight distance Robin was putting between himself and the others. Nobody noticed how he trained extra hard against the others when powers were allowed. Well, nobody but Batman, but he wasn't one to push such issues.
Robin, however, was noticing things he hadn't before. He noticed the way his teammates looked at him before and after a fight, always so full of concern, more concern than what was given to anyone else. He noticed how they'd inch in front of him inconspicuously when things weren't looking good. He noticed how when he did something wrong instead of getting a lecture like everyone else, he just got a slight reprimand and a small look as if he were a child whose hand got caught in the cookie jar. It's not like he was going to break down crying if someone yelled at him! The only person who seemed to treat him fairly was Wally, but that's only because they'd done so much mischief together as kids. Wally would be worthy of the title Kid Idiot if he hadn't yet realized how much one shouldn't underestimate the Boy Wonder after all of the time he'd been framed by the younger boy.
It's not like Robin didn't appreciate their worry or anything it was just that….IT WAS SO ANNOYING! Honestly, Batman had the mother hen category nailed. He didn't need his friends to join that farm. How could he not have noticed all of that before?
Robin managed to put up with all of the babying for a good while, but eventually he had to fly the coop. One could only handle so much disappointment…
The final strike, strike three, happened shortly after Young Justice's one year anniversary. It was a routine job for the Dynamic Duo; Batman chased after the Joker and Robin took down some badly trained lackeys. In the end, Joker managed to get away by threatening a civilian…Robin didn't really know the full story. Anyway, after days of searching, they found a lead in some guy named Doren Chambers. Chambers was the owner of an arms store, a legal one, where one of the lackeys bought their gun (legally). That's what made the whole thing a lead, nothing involving weapons happens legally in Gotham City.
As it turned out, Chambers was a great lead. The Joker was literally lounging inside the closed shop when the Duo had arrived. Doren, as it turned out, had left to Canada right before the Joker escaped from Arkham (again) to apparently win back his girlfriend who'd moved there.
Basically things went according to plan for the vigilantes, well mostly…
"That reckless Robin, I thought I taught you better than that!" Batman scolded Robin back at the Batcave, Joker safely behind bars until he got bored again.
"It wasn't reckless," Robin argued through a hiss of pain, "I considered every option available and I acted on the one that I thought had the best outcome and it did. The only one injured was me, and the Joker, but none of his hostages!"
Batman glared at his protégé, "You were shot Robin, and that is never a good outcome."
"But it was better than the alternative! I timed it just right so that as I went down the bullet would strike the Kevlar, you would have been hit in the head. You had no protection or time to do anything. I firmly stand behind my decision."
"It's not your job to protect me."
"It's Robin's job to protect Gotham, and Gotham is the safest with Batman."
"Well then, maybe there shouldn't be a Robin if it puts you at such risk," the Dark Knight stated with such finality that Robin's mouth fell open in shock.
"Y-you can't do that!" the boy exclaimed, "I- we- both knew going in that it'd be a risk, but it's a risk worth taking! You can't just-"
"Robin!" the shout rang throughout the cave and once the echo died, mentor and protégé, father and son, both stared at the other. "My decision is not open for debate. Go to bed and I'll collect your uniform in the morning."
Robin hopped off of the examination table he'd been on while Batman had been examining his bruised ribs. Before leaving the cave, though, Robin turned back to his mentor, threw off his mask, and glared.
"I don't need your, the League's, or anyone else's protection, Bruce. I can take care of myself," and he left. As he walked towards his room, a smirk spread across Dick's face. It wasn't his usual light-hearted one either, for even though he was furious, Dick couldn't help the excitement he felt. Richard, no longer Robin apparently, was about to do something three months in the making. Something that could quite possibly be the grandest trick he'd ever do.
It's time to make Richard Grayson disappear.
Roy Harper, also known as Red Arrow, was in shock. There, in his apartment, stood Richard Grayson, sopping wet from the rain. Roy knew what Richard did in his spare time, but what he didn't know was why he was there, in his apartment, sopping wet from the rain. It most certainly was not what he'd expected to find after his evening out doing some hero business.
"What the hell are you doing here!?" the red-head exclaimed, not beating around the bush.
"Nice to see you too, Roy. You don't happen to have a towel or something, do you?" was Dick's response.
With a roll of his eyes, Roy walked over to the hallway door where he kept the towels and tossed one to the wet ex-Boy Wonder. Said kid muttered a quick word of thanks before drying off his hair. "Did you see the news?" he asked casually.
Roy nodded, "They're probably still talking about it."
"Wanna find out?"
Roy shrugged and grabbed the remote. He turned on the TV before flipping to a news station.
"…and so far no evidence has been found."
"Thank you Tracy. Now back to the startling news that has rocked the nation. Robin, the Boy Wonder, was reported to have died while fighting the Joker three days ago. When questioned, the Joker admitted to shooting Robin when he jumped in front of a bullet meant for the Batman himself. Upon further interrogation, Joker could not confirm that he actually killed the Boy Wonder as he was quickly knocked unconscious. No matter the cause of death, the country will forever mourn the loss of its youngest hero and first sidekick. The Justice League has confirmed that they will hold a private funeral for the boy at an undisclosed time and place."
Roy flipped through a few more channels, all of which seemed to be mourning the "death" of Robin. One station was even showing a collection of every picture, video, and moment ever gathered of Robin. Roy was becoming incredibly concerned as to how the people would react if an actual JLA member died.
"Crazy isn't it?" Dick asked with a dry laugh, "I didn't think he'd actually kill me."
"They're looking for you. You know that right?" Roy asked as he walked over to the fridge and pulled out two water bottles and tossed one to Dick who gratefully took it. Soda was unhealthy and the last thing Roy needed was a fourteen year old high on caffeine.
"Yeah," Dick said between gulps of water, he must've entered the apartment through the window by scaling up four stories if he was that thirsty, "How many are at it?"
"The Junior Justice League was sent to find the missing Richard Grayson, ward of billionaire Bruce Wayne, to help take their minds off of the loss of their precious Robin. So far they've found nothing. Also, every available Leaguer on their lighter work days is searching. If any hero finds you you'll be back with Bruce in a matter of minutes. What else? Oh yeah, the entire superhero community, minus those who know your identity, thinks you're dead."
"Damn," Dick blushed a bit upon realizing he'd cursed, Alfred would've killed him for that.
Roy just chuckled, "No need to be embarrassed. Cussing is what people do, in fact, Jas-" he stopped himself before he said anything else.
"You mean Jason?"
"I know you work with him from time to time. I've needed to chat with my big bro for a while now. I've probably been searching for him harder than Batman has, so I know all about your guys' work, but we'll get back to Jason later. We have all night and I'm sure you need to ask me as many questions as I need to ask you," Dick waved off Roy's slip up and plopped down on the faded red couch in front of the TV, which happened to be talking about Robin's death in Spanish. Roy flicked the TV off.
"So, why'd you leave?" Roy asked once the television's screen went black.
Dick shrugged, "They were treating me like a child, and then Batman wanted me to stop being Robin because it was safer…I guess he got what he wanted," he gestured towards the blank television screen, "Robin is dead."
"But you can still be a hero. A solo one too, like me, all you need is a new costume and name."
"Not quite ready for solo work yet. I don't want to stumble upon an assassin organization by mistake."
"I did that on purpose!"
"Sure you did…Why haven't you told them that I'm here yet?"
"The League? Bruce? Wally? Who is this them you speak of?"
"Anyone really. I thought you said every hero was looking for me and, well, you found me…"
"First off, you found me. Second, I'm not a League hero; I'd rather shoot my foot with an arrow than work for them. Finally, I'm not going to argue with you for leaving. I mean, that'd be hypocritical, especially since you have more experience than I did when I left."
"That's true; I have more experience than every hero under the age of twenty one."
"I'm nineteen, that's like, two years away."
"It's still two years too young," Dick said with a smirk.
"Evil kid," Roy muttered as he recycled his empty water bottle, "Why'd you come to my apartment anyway?"
"Told you, I'm looking for Jay, and you've worked with him. Once was happenstance, twice was coincidence, but three times? You definitely know where he is."
"Why do you need him?"
Dick's smirk widened, "I have a business proposition for the Red Hood."
A/N: Done with chapter one! Reviews and constructive critisism are always welcome.