Chapter 24: Keep your Friends Close…
He ran, that was all he could do. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He ran even when his battered body screamed at him to stop and rest. He knew better than to listen to his body's demands now. To stop meant to not move, to not move meant that he would catch up to him. So he ran and ran, never slowing down.
Sadly, it was all for naught, as a sharp object came flying out of the darkness and sliced into his leg as he was running down an abandoned alley. With a scream of pain, he fell to the ground, clutching hos bleeding leg. Then he came.
"You shouldn't have run like that, now you've annoyed me," he spoke as he towered over the man lying on the ground, his silhouette being all that was visible of him in the shadows. The man on the ground only whimpered in fear.
"Please, have mercy on me! I'll never do it again, I swear!" he pleaded, all of it in vain. For his pursuer was not in the mood to show mercy. Not now, not ever.
"Sorry, it's far too late for that, pal," the mysterious assailant spoke as he raised his hand. The poor man's screams of anguish was audible across several blocks, before they abruptly ended. With the deed done, the assailant calmly walked away from the scene.
But for a brief moment, just before he vanished from sight, a symbol was seen emblazoned on his chest. It was a yellow R set in a black circle.
Out in the bay, Titans Tower stood as a solitary guardian over Jump City. A continuous symbol of truth and justice, of righteousness and freedom. Though its inhabitants may be young, they had proven themselves to be peerless heroes with an unshakable duty and commitment to remain ever vigilant for the good of the city.
"Move it, tin can! It's my turn!"
"Aw hell no, grass stain! I'm just about to beat the last boss here!"
"Dude, you've been playing for two hours!"
"And I'll keep playing for as many hours if that's what it takes to win!"
"Alright, that's it! Give me the controller now!"
"I'm warning you, you're not touching the controller!"
… Most of the time, anyway.
"That controller is mine!" Beast Boy proclaimed as he leaped at his half mechanical friend in an attempt to seize the prize he so desired.
"You can try!" Cyborg challenged as he met the attack head-on. It ended up with the two of them rolling around on the floor, wrestling for possession of the controller. It was at that moment that Starfire and Argent walked in, oblivious to the carnage as they discussed something with each other.
"Do you think we can journey to the mall of shopping together later on?" Starfire inquired innocently, and Argent did her best not to visibly cringe at the offer.
"Sorry, Star, got other plans for today," 'Plans involving coming up with better excuses for the next time,' she added that last bit to herself mentally. That was when they noticed the two boys rolling around on the floor. Their reactions from seeing such a sight varied from concerned to amused.
"That does not look good. Should we do something?" Starfire, the concerned one, asked worriedly.
"Absolutely, Star. You get some chairs, I'll get the popcorn," Argent, the amused one, answered before she rushed towards the kitchen. But her plans were unfortunately put on hold when the alarm went off, indicating that the Titans were needed in the city.
As if an on switch had been triggered, they all ceased with their childish antics and rushed to the computer.
"So what's the trouble this time?" Argent asked as she peered over Cyborg's shoulder, who was busy typing away at the keyboard.
"Something's going on in downtown," he announced. "Let's go," but it was as they were all about to head towards the garage that Starfire was struck by a sudden thought.
"Wait, where's Robin?" she asked in confusion. That made the whole team stop in their tracks as they realized the same thing.
"Yeah, where is he anyway? I haven't seen him all day long," Beast Boy commented. Starfire instantly had her communicator out and was trying to contact their missing team leader.
"Robin? Robin, can you hear me?" she asked hopefully. All she received in turn was static. Worry set itself into the resident alien as she wondered where Robin could be.
"Wonder where he's gone," Argent said thoughtfully. And in the absence of their leader, Cyborg stepped up.
"We can wonder about that later, right now the city needs us. Who knows, he might already be there waiting for us," he offered helpfully. The rest of the team seemed to accept that and so hurried after him. Only Starfire lingered behind for a short moment, casting a doubtful look back at the computer, before she too flew after her team.
When the team arrived at the scene, they found that the police had already beaten them to it, as the place was crawling with them. At first look, it seemed like a normal bank robbery had taken place.
"Alright, let's see what the commotion was all about," Cyborg decided as he stepped out of the T-car. With no better idea on what to do, the team fell in line behind their cybernetic friend. Though there was one aspect that they quickly took notice of.
"Dude, why's everyone staring at us like that?" Beast Boy whispered nervously. For as it turned out, every police in the area was glaring at them with suspicious looks, and it made more than Beast Boy nervous.
"Who knows," Argent answered, trying to ignore the looks she felt burning into her back. Finally, the found the police commissioner, and he did not look happy about their presence.
"Oh great, more heroes," he grumbled just loud enough for the team to hear before he turned fully to face them. "You have a lot of explaining to do here, especially your leader," that statement earned him a confused look from all four heroes present.
"Excuse me?" Cyborg asked in obvious confusion, having absolutely no idea what the commissioner was referring to.
"I'm referring to this," the commissioner angrily stated while pointing to a computer screen they had set up. On it, they saw surveillance footage of the inside of the bank. What they saw left them speechless.
There, in the midst of pilfering the bank with dead bodies lying around him, was a young man wearing Robin's uniform. He had his back turned to them, and so they could not see his face. Then, the footage ended in static, and the commissioner turned his accusing eyes back at the team.
"That footage was barely twenty minutes old, and the bastard escaped before we could apprehend him. So, mind explaining to me what your fearless leader is up to?" he questioned furiously. The Titans said nothing, all of them too stunned by what they had just seen.
"Well?" the commissioner suddenly urged, fed up with waiting for an answer. Cyborg instantly snapped out of his stupor and turned to face the commissioner.
"I don't know who that's supposed to be, but I can assure you that it wasn't Robin, he'd never do such a thing," he assured him, but the commissioner was not convinced as he scoffed loudly.
"Could have fooled me. Some of the guards who survived even said that he moved and fought like Robin," he stated with is arms crossed over his chest.
"All the same, I'm sure that it wasn't our boy," Cyborg repeated with conviction. What he received was a skeptical eyebrow raised at him.
"Oh really? Then mind telling me where he is right now? If he has a foolproof alibi, then I'll start believing you," he declared, causing not only Cyborg, but also the whole team, to fidget nervously.
"We don't know," Cyborg awkwardly admitted, avoiding eye contact with the commissioner.
"Come again? I don't think I heard you quite clearly enough," the commissioner commented as he leaned closer.
"We don't know where he is, okay!" Cyborg admitted in anger and shame. The commissioner's way of answer was by developing a small smile on his lips.
"So in other words, there's no way for you to prove Robin's innocence in the matter," he stated smugly before he stood straight again and turned his attention to his subordinates.
"Alright, we'll put out a warrant for Robin, and alert all officers to call in if they see him! Do not be stupid enough to take him on alone!" he barked out his orders, various officers instantly beginning to scurry around in their haste to carry out his orders.
With that done, he turned his attention back to the four teens still in disbelief over what they had just witnessed. "And if you four really want to claim that you're protecting this city, you'll help us arrest him, and God help you should it turn out you're shielding him from us,"
With that said, he turned on his heels and marched away from the team, leaving them to their own thoughts. And none of them were good in any way at the moment.
"It can't be true," Starfire repeated for like the umpteenth time, still unable to believe what she had seen. None of her friends had the will or the energy to say anything to disprove her. They all sat together in the living room, at a loss at what to do.
None of them knew where Robin was, and none of them knew how to contact him. And without him here, there was no way for them to prove his innocence, for they never once doubted that he was innocent.
"We need to find Rob. We need to get to the bottom of this," Cyborg stated. They all agreed with his sentiment, but none made a move anywhere.
"Good idea, except we have no way to find him," Argent pointed out dejectedly. But as it turned out, they did not need to find Robin, for Robin just walked into the living room, happy as can be.
"Hi, guys," he greeted before he made his way towards the kitchen, oblivious to the incredulous looks spreading among his teammates. With no apparent care in the world, he grabbed a soda from the refrigerator and took a greedy gulp.
It was about then that he noticed that his friends had not stopped staring at him since he walked inside. And the looks they were giving him were a bit unnerving, if Robin was to be honest with himself.
"What?" he asked out loud. Barely had he said it before Starfire launched herself at him, striking him with one of her most cruel of execution methods, one that carried the innocent name of a hug.
"Oh Robin! You are unharmed! We were so worried!" she squealed happily whilst Robin felt his bones becoming pressed to the breaking point.
"Star… can't… breathe…" he managed to squeeze out of his constricted lungs. That at least prompted Starfire to release Robin from her death grip. Taking a moment to draw much needed oxygen back into his lungs, he then turned to face his team.
"Okay, what's going on? Why were you all so worried about me?" he asked curiously. An awkward silence followed his question as the Titans all wondered who would be brave enough to drop the accusations at his feet.
"Where have you been all day?" Cyborg eventually asked, drawing Robin's full attention.
"Nowhere special," he answered dismissively with a nonchalant shrug. It caused Cyborg's lone organic eye to narrow suspiciously.
"I think it much be somewhere special if you've been gone the whole day. Now tell me," he pressed on. Now it was Robin's turn to narrow his eyes suspiciously at Cyborg.
"I don't see why you need to know," he stated defensively. It was at that moment that Argent, tired of dancing around the issue, stepped forward.
"For God's sake, Robin, you're a wanted criminal at the moment, this is not the time to keep secrets!" she burst out in anger and desperation. Anger at Robin's unwillingness to answer their questions, desperation at possibly seeing her friend locked in jail. But in any case, that served to shock Robin real good.
"What?" he asked slowly, unsure if he had just heard right.
"The police has evidence linking you to a murder and robbery, and have placed a warrant on you," Cyborg clarified to his obviously shell-shocked leader. Robin's only reaction was to blink owlishly at his friends, clearly having a hard time wrapping his head around what they just said.
"You're joking, right?" he asked, hoping that so was the case. He was to be disappointed as he was met with silence and averted eyes. When he finally realized that they were not in fact joking, his eyes began darting between his friends pleadingly.
"You're not seriously thinking that I did it?" he questioned.
"Never, Robin. We know that you would never do such a vile thing," Starfire hastily assured him.
"But not everyone will be as easily convinced. The police are already looking for you, and we'll be branded as criminals too if we don't find the real perpetrator," Argent added as she glared out the window and towards the city.
"Then the first thing we need to do is find this imposter and…" Robin began, but was interrupted by Cyborg.
"I don't think that's a good idea. If you run now, you'll only look guilty. The best we can do is show cooperation with the authorities and work together with them," he tried to explain. Robin easily saw what that implicated.
"You want me to turn myself over," he deduced, causing Cyborg to visibly cringe.
"It's either that, or run from the law. At least this way you're showing that you're willing to cooperate," Robin would be lying if he said that he did not see the merit behind those words, but his pride took such a beating from the admission.
Any further words between the team members were put on hold when an incoming transmission reached their systems. Cyborg was instantly in place and checking it over. What he read was not good, not in the least.
"They've found another man murdered about ten minutes ago, and an eyewitness claim that it was Robin who did it," he revealed gravelly. The whole living room grew as silent as a tomb, with all present standing petrified in complete disbelief.
Robin was the first one to get a grip on himself again, and he felt a great rage swelling up within him. Someone was using his name to commit crimes, and he would not stand it. He would find the one responsible and make him pay.
With determined steps, he strode towards the exit, his goal set up in his mind. His departure was however quickly noticed by his team.
"Where are you going?" Cyborg asked, even though he knew full well where he was going. It caused Robin to stop right at the very doorstep.
"To find whoever is framing me," he stated without turning around to face his friends.
"Look, I don't think rushing out like that will help. Let's just try to sort this mess out with the authorities before going out there," he tried to reason, but Robin was not interested in listening this time.
"Sorry, don't have time," he stated, right before he popped a smoke bomb, blinding his team and allowing him time to slip away. At least this way, they could say that he had fled before they could arrest him. He was not dragging his friends into this mess.
It was many hours later before Robin felt safe enough to stop for a breather inside a filthy alley. Leaning against a wall, he began to analyze his situation.
"Okay, so someone is impersonating me and committing crimes, I have the authorities gunning for me and the Titans can't help me without getting branded as criminals as well," he mumbled to himself. All in all, he was in deep shit right about now.
First priority was to find the imposter to clear his name. Sounded simple enough. Problem was, he had no idea where to begin here. Hell, he did not even know who was friend and who was foe in this mess.
As it stood right now, he needed at least one ally, to help point him in the right direction. But who could he turn to? Who was he certain he could work with without getting double crossed? Who had a good grasp on the underworld of Jump City?
One name came to mind, but Robin discarded it instantly. 'No, absolutely not! There's no way in hell that I'd ever work with that nutcase!' he thought vehemently to himself. Never in a million years would he possibly sink that low!
Sadly, the more he thought about it, the more he came to realize that he had no other options. Just this once, it appeared like he would have to swallow his pride and seek help from the one person he would rather never see again in his lifetime.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," he muttered irritably to himself. Now of course he faced the problem of finding his new target. And to do that, he needed a less obvious disguise than his Robin uniform.
"Give me all your money," lo and behold, along came a volunteer to provide Robin with a new set of clothes. With a cocky grin on his lips, he turned around to face a young teenager with a white trenchcoat and sunglasses, wielding a pocket knife. And when this would-be robber saw just who it was he had attempted to rob, he did he logical thing and panicked.
"Wait, I know you! You're…" that was as far as he got before Robin pounced on him.
Dusk had begun to set in on Jump City, and its more seedy establishments were just in the midst of opening up for the evening. In fact, one of the bars had been open for well over an hour, and it was already crowded with the less than savory members of society.
It was to this bar that Robin walked into, now wearing the disguise of white trenchcoat and sunglasses (yes, same disguise as in Trouble in Tokyo). As it turned out, walking inside and acting nonchalant proved to be one of his greatest challenges.
Seeing the multitude of lowlifes, along with one or two H.I.V.E. students (and was that Doctor Light sulking in the corner?), Robin had to struggle to contain his regular instincts of slapping them all in cuffs and be done with it. The fact that he attracted a multitude of suspicious glares did not help his mood in the least.
Navigating his way through the crowded bar, he finally reached the counter, where he found a heavily scarred barman with only one eye serving out drinks. That lone eye of his reminded Robin of things he would rather forget.
"What can I get ya?" the barman asked gruffly once Robin had taken a seat.
"Information," Robin answered evenly as he brought out a photograph and gave it to the barman. "I'm looking for this particular person,"
The barman took a good long look at the picture, right before his face slit into an amused grin.
"You're in luck, I know exactly where you can find this particular spitfire," he answered before jerking his thumb at a large crowd gathered around a table. Curious, Robin cautiously made his way over.
None of those in the crowd seemed to notice his approach, as they kept cheering something on. Shouldering his way to the front, he found just what they found so entertaining. Apparently, a drinking contest was taking place, with well over twenty empty glasses already piling up.
The first contestant struck Robin as the stereotypical thug that gags employed to beat people up, but it was his opponent that really caught his attention. For seated opposite of the thug, sporting a cocky grin that Robin knew all too well, was Raven.
"What's the matter, big boy? Can't keep up with a little girl like me?" she taunted before gulping down another glass of liquor and slamming it down on the table challengingly, causing a cheer to erupt from her supporters, who Robin noticed was mostly of the female gender.
Not about to back down that easily, the thug clumsily grabbed another glass and somehow managed to empty it as well, despite swaying around like a sailor on a stormy sea.
"You should quit while you're ahead, little girl," the thug somehow managed to slur out, his words barely understandable. Raven's way of answering was by grinning even wider before emptying another glass.
"Funny, I was about to say the exact same thing to you," she countered, with someone in the crowd loudly whispering "burn!". Determined not to be bested, the thug picked up another glass and tried to drink it.
It only managed to reach his lips before he fell out of his chair, out like a candle.
A huge cheer erupted from all the women, while a unanimous groan of disappointment came out of the men.
"All too easy," Raven announced as she collected money from many a disgruntled man while swaying drunkenly on her feet. Robin was already beginning to have serious second thoughts about enlisting her help.
Nevertheless, he was out of options, so he patiently waited for Raven to collect her money before he approached her.
"You Raven?" he asked casually, acting as though they had never met before. He preferred not to let it be public knowledge that he sought the help of a wanted mercenary.
"That I am, cutie," she answered with a drunken grin on her face.
"I'm interested in hiring your services for a job," he stated monotonously with his arms folded in front of his chest.
"Well, buy me a drink, and I'm all ears," she answered as she swayed over to the counter. With a quiet sigh, Robin reluctantly followed.
"Hey, Frankie! Get me another beer! This fine gent's paying for it!" she hollered drunkenly as she slouched in her seat. The one-eyed man, obviously used to drunkards and their antics, merely nodded his head and delivered the order.
"Now, what do ya need me for?" she asked, right before her so far drunken grin turned far more mischievous. "And if it requires a trip backstage, I'm willing to offer a discount for a handsome boy like you," she added huskily as one of her finger started to run circles on his belt.
He hastily slapped her hand away, his cheeks gaining a slight red tint to them. 'Dam girl and her damn flirting,' he thought to himself in frustration.
"I need you to find someone for me, that's all," he clarified as Raven took a swig from her beer.
"Sounds like fun, chasing someone in a cat and mouse game always is," she commented humorously. "So whose sorry ass am I gonna sniff out for ya?"
"Robin," he answered. There were a whole slew of different reactions he had expected from Raven at his admission, none of the included her face splitting into the widest and goofiest grin he had ever seen adorning her face.
"Bird boy? You want me find him?" she asked in amusement before she burst out laughing for no particular reason. It certainly drew more than a fair share of disturbed looks from the other patrons.
"Oooh, this should be fun alright. Even heard the little traffic light's decided to go all Anakin Skywalker on us and switched sides," she commented while sniggering to herself. It took all of Robin's willpower not to drive a fist right into her face at that moment.
"Yes, so I've heard," he answered with a forced neutral voice. It seemed like Raven had not noticed his barely restrained anger, as she just kept snickering to herself while drinking up the last of her beer.
"Well, you're in luck, pretty boy. I know just where to find that slippery little bird," she announced before she got up on her feet again and walked towards the door, swaying like the drunkard she was the whole way. "Well, you coming or what?" she called over her shoulder.
Seeing no other option, Robin followed her with a disgruntled look on his face. 'Once I've caught the imposter, I'm slapping you in chains and sending you to jail, Raven,' he thought darkly to himself.
Raven meanwhile had only led him a few blocks away before she came to a stop right outside an office garage. Something about this seemed a bit fishy to Robin, but he chose to ignore it for now. I mean, the crazy girl was drunk off her ass, what could she possibly do?
"Right this way, my good sir," she announced with an exaggerated bow. 'Maybe I should have waited until she was sober before hiring her,' he thought in irritation as he stepped inside, Raven right behind him.
Inside, he found barely any light on, making it hard to see all that far and filling the place up with deep shadows. Plenty of room to hide in, something Robin did not like in the slightest.
"Well? Where is he?" he asked in irritation. He so did not like to fool around.
"Oh, he's right in front of me, bird boy," Raven answered with a clear and menacing voice, all traces of her earlier drunken slurring gone. Next thing he knew, he felt the barrel of a Desert Eagle pressing against the back of his head.
While careful to keep his body as still as possible, he was cursing up a storm mentally. He should have never underestimated Raven in such a way! Even if she had appeared drunk! Raven was meanwhile for once thanking her daemonic genes, they gave her a surprisingly high level of tolerance towards alcohol.
"How did you know?" he asked, not even bothering to lie. He knew that she had seen through him. He received a scoff from the violet haired mercenary.
"Please, we've been playing this little game of ours for months on end. Did you really think I wouldn't be able to recognize you after all the times I whooped your butt?" she asked condescendingly.
"All the same, I do need your assistance," Robin stated, restraining his indignation over her last words.
"Why, to find whoever's been running around framing you?" she asked, leaving Robin more than a bit surprise by her words.
"How did you…?"
"… Know that it wasn't you committing these crimes? Easy, because I know you, bird boy. You're many things; pig-headed, obsessive, humorless, overly serious, paranoid and a whole other slew of things. But the one thing you're not, is a killer," she explained.
Ironic, in a way. Apart from his own friends, the only other person in this entire city who believed he was innocent was one of his most hated of enemies. 'I guess God really have a sense of humor,' he thought to himself.
"Then will you still help me?" he asked. Silence was what he received at first, the gun against his head being the only indication that she was still present.
"30,000, plus a promise that I get to walk away with my money, and we have a deal," Raven finally answered. 'Should have known,' he thought grimly.
"Should have known you'd be the same selfish bitch I've always known you to be," he answered bitterly. It brought out a light chuckle from Raven as he felt her press her body up against his back, still keeping her gun to his head.
"Flattery won't make me drop my price, but I'd maybe consider throwing in a little… treat for you. I'd even let you use your handcuffs," she whispered huskily in his ear. Her words, plus her close proximity, just conjured up all manner of dirty images in his mind that made his face turn beat red. Again.
Hey, he was a growing teenager with hormones, sue him.
"No," he firmly answered, even though his body was giving the complete opposite answer.
"Aw, you're no fun, bird boy," Raven complained with a pout as she backed off, finally removing the gun from his head. "So, do we have a deal?" as much as Robin wanted to say no, he was out of options.
"Yes," he answered through gritted teeth, bringing out a mischievous grin from Raven.
"Great, then let's get this party started," she announced before turning around and strolling away, Robin cautiously following behind her.
"Do you really know where he's hiding?" he asked dubiously.
"No, but I know how to find him," Raven answered cryptically as she led the way.
It was about an hour later that the duo reached their destination. And if Robin had thought that the bar from earlier had been in a shady part of town, it was nothing compared to what they found themselves outside this time. Strangely enough, it was not a club or a hideout of any kind. In fact, it looked like…
"A slaughterhouse?" Robin questioned dubiously, eyes narrowed in skepticism behind his sunglasses.
"Yep," Raven merely answered cheerfully.
"Why the hell would we come here?" Robin asked in annoyance, clearly not seeing any value from this visit. Raven chuckled at him.
"Patience, my young padawan, all will be made clear soon enough," she answered with a cheeky grin on her face. That earned her a disgruntled look from her moody companion.
"Now, enough with the chit chat, let's get going," Raven said as she strolled inside. Seeing no other option, Robin followed. Their path led them through the freezer, passed rows upon rows of meat (shame that Beast Boy was not here, would have been hilarious to see his reaction).
Oddly enough, as Robin soon realized, none of the workers tried to stop them. In fact, they did not even look bothered or surprised by their presence. Before Robin could wonder any further on that, Raven had led them to the back, where there was a duo of heavily muscled guards standing in front of a door.
Okay, now Robin was starting to believe that there might have been some point coming here. You do not place these kinds of gorilla-like men to guard a mere slaughterhouse. But Raven suddenly turned around and faced with one of the most serious expressions he had ever seen on her.
"Alright, listen clearly now, bird boy. Behind those doors are the scum of this city, real hardcore criminals who'd slit your throat if you even looked at them wrong. Now most of them know me and wouldn't dream of messing with me without a large enough posse to support them. You on the other hand is fresh meat around here. So keep your mouth shut, your hands to yourselves and let me do the talking, capiche?"
Robin had to admit, he could not remember the last time Raven had sounded so serious about something.
"Didn't know you cared so much about my wellbeing," he remarked.
"Don't get any ideas, bird boy. You're my client here, and I won't get my money if you die," Raven retorted before she turned her back to him and walked towards the doors, Robin following close behind.
He had expected the guards to stop them, but they simply stepped aside and opened the door for them. No, not for them, for Raven only. He could feel how they glared at him suspiciously, but they never tried to stop him.
The moment he stepped inside, he was assaulted by a barrage of noise and light. Hundreds of people were crammed inside here, either gathered around bars and couches, or simply swaying their bodies around on the dance floor to the beat of the music.
At first glance, this would appear to be your average nightclub, though a bit larger than the norm. A closer inspection proved otherwise, with more than half of its patrons walking around with weapons, all on open display.
He even recognized the faces of some of Jump City's most notorious criminals outside of the supervillain category. No doubt about it, this was a den of thieves, rapists, murderers and psychos of every flavor imaginable.
And they all parted before Raven like the red sea.
She easily sauntered inside, and everyone merely stepped aside for her like she owned the place. She high fived a black man in sunglasses she passed, stole a bottle of beer from a blonde bimbo who seemed too afraid to protest, gave the finger to someone with dreadlocks over a lecherous comment that made Robin red in the face and blew a kiss to a bartender.
All in all, she walked amongst these unscrupulous criminals like they were her pals, and that more than anything unnerved Robin.
It was when they approached a particular corner in the club that Raven suddenly stopped. She did not turn to face Robin, but she gestured for him to come closer, which he grudgingly did.
"We're about to meet a business partner of mine. Don't let his appearance fool you in any way, he's as dangerous as they get. So whatever you do, don't attract attention to yourself, and don't utter so much as a peep, or you're dead," she cautioned. It made him narrow his eyes in suspicion.
"What? Don't you trust your own colleagues?" he asked sarcastically, meaning it to come off as an insult. To his surprise, Raven only smiled at him.
"Oh, I trust him alright. I trust him to stab me in the back the second he feels he can profit from it," she answered with cynical humor before she resumed walking. When Robin finally laid eyes upon Raven's so-called partner, he understood what she warned him about.
A short and skinny man of what appeared like Asian descent and bedecked in gold and jewels of all kind, he hardly struck as the most intimidating figure. Especially with his arms slung around two scantily clad girls on either side of him.
However, there was a certain gleam in his eyes that made the hairs on Robin's back stand on end. One thing was clear, this was not a man you easily trifled with.
"Ah, Raven! My favorite mercenary! How nice to see you!" he happily exclaimed upon catching sight of Raven.
"Yamato, my man. Still going strong, I notice," Raven answered with humor as she took a seat on a chair opposite of Yamato.
"And who is this you've brought along? New boy toy of yours?" Yamato asked once he laid eyes upon Robin, who was struggling not to plant a fist in that smug face of his. Raven just waved a dismissive hand.
"Just some stray I picked up along the way, and now he follows me everywhere," she answered nonchalantly, completely ignoring the very heated glare she received from Robin.
"In any case, I assume you did not come here for small talk," Yamato deduced as he leaned back in his couch, receiving a nod from Raven.
"You'd be correct. I'm here on business. You've heard about the local superhero's recent change of heart?" she inquired, bringing out a loud laugh from Yamato.
"What do you think? That's been the talk of the underworld the whole day now," he answered with a big grin on his face. Raven meanwhile leaned back in her seat, giving off an aura of relaxation. Robin was the only one who saw through the ruse.
"Well, as it turns out, someone's not all too happy of having him running around like that, and so I've been hired to find this little rogue bird and clip his wings," she revealed with a nasty grin, one who was easily mirrored by Yamato.
"Then I pity that brat. With you on his tail, he'll probably throw himself off a cliff just to save both of you the trouble," he said sadistically. It brought out a small giggle from Raven.
"One can only hope. It would at least make my work a hell of a lot easier," she answered. "In any case, he's a slippery bastard, and so I need some info on how I can find him,"
"And now we come to the reason you're here, you want me to tell you whatever I know," Yamato announced as he folded his hands together and gave Raven a scrutinizing look. "That of course begs the question; what do I get out of it?"
"A debt repaid," Raven simply said, earning a look of intrigue from Yamato.
"And what debt may that be?" he inquired, though it sounded like he already knew the answer to that.
"If I recall correctly, I saved your ass, and your business, a few months back. You owe me for that, and now I'm cashing in on that debt. Give me the information I want, and we're even," she explained. A tense moment of silence passed between them, and Robin began fearing that a fight was imminent. Then, Yamato burst out laughing.
"Very well, Raven, we have a deal," he stated humorously. "Now I don't know where this little birdie of yours is nesting, but I do know the identity of the main witness against him," he received a raised eyebrow from Raven.
"I don't see how that's gonna help," she said skeptically, but Yamato just smiled.
"His name is Fred Johnson," he revealed. In the amount of time it took to blink, Raven's demeanor changed from skeptical to amused.
"Thanks for the tip. See you around," she said cheerfully as she stood up and walked away.
"Do come back if you ever need anything else!" Yamato shouted after the pair as they left. Through it all, Robin was as confused as they get.
"What the hell was that? He gave us nothing of value," he complained irritably, but Raven just shook her head in amusement.
"You silly little hero, he gave us all we needed. Fred is a known liar and schemer among criminals, who has made a fortune telling false testimonies in court. That means that someone paid him to claim to be a witness to your crime," Raven explained. It finally clicked in Robin's mind.
"So if we find him…" he began hopefully.
"… We find your imposter," Raven finished for him. "Now hurry up, will ya? We ain't got all day here," with that said, the duo left the club with their goal in mind.