A/N: Yo. Here's something new. It's really weird and probably way inaccurate, but I started it a while ago during my reveal-fic fascination, and figured I should at least finish it. It isn't a very serious story.
The last week had been quiet. Too quiet. Even Gotham had been quiet, with nothing more than run-of-the-mill robberies and muggings for Robin and Batman to deal with. Batman had gone to the Watchtower that morning, and Dick was just waiting for the pin to drop.
Richard Grayson was suspicious by nature; he had to be, living two lives, both of which were constantly in danger. While it was sort of nice – Wally had been celebrating all week at Mt Justice – quiet was never a good sign. There were too many criminals out there, too many wannabe super-villains, to warrant this amount of criminal silence. Sportsmaster was still running around out there somewhere; was he planning something big? Dick had no idea what might happen, but he had a seriously bad feeling. So much so, in fact, that the moment Bruce left for the Hall of Justice Dick had raced through the manor and hidden a spare set of gloves and a mask in his school bag along with the hidden experimental weapons he always carried with him. It was a risk, he knew that, and If Bruce ever found out he'd be incredibly pissed off, but Dick couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to go down, and he wanted to be prepared.
Sometimes Dick really hated being right.
Being crowded in the gymnasium with the entire Gotham Academy student body was something he would have preferred to avoid. Especially when said student body was in a state of panic during either a hostile takeover – which seemed pointless, it was only a school – or a hostage situation – which was so not asterous. He had to admit, however, that he was a little bit impressed by the whole situation. Not the Joker breaking out of Arkham part, that happened all the time – and shouldn't someone really do something about that? – but the fact he had attacked the school. That was new. And he had an accomplice. Count Vertigo (and wasn't that just odd?).
"Way not cool," Dick muttered to himself as he subtly grabbed his comm and turned it on, "two-sevenths of the Injustice League, just how I wanted to spend my day."
Keeping one eye on Joker – Count Vertigo hadn't moved from the gym doors yet, and he could just spy Artemis keeping an eye an him anyway – Dick tried to connect to the Watchtower.
Dick blinked in confusion. That couldn't be right. Quickly he tried again. The same message flashed on the screen.
"Oh this is so not a good time for you to break."
Somewhat desperate – he was Richard Grayson right now, dammit, and he couldn't do anything to help – Dick contacted the Cave. It went through, but no-one answered.
"Why today of all days?" He whined, careful to keep his voice low despite all the noise being made by his classmates. His gloves weighed heavily on his shoulders and he frowned. Bruce would kill him if he let this many people know his ID, but the situation wasn't promising. The gleam in the Joker's eyes was one Dick knew all too well, and it couldn't end well. And then the Joker decided to open his mouth.
"I know it's the middle of the day and all, but I thought for sure that Bats would have been here by now. What about poor birdie? Perhaps he's stuck in school..." The odd emphasis Joker put on stuck and school made Dick nervous. Surely he couldn't know. He'd been so careful! It had to be a guess. The ramblings of a madman. Robin was quite obviously school-aged. Was this all just some wild stab in the dark?
But then Joker looked straight at him, and Dick froze.
Without a doubt, Joker knew that Dick was Robin. It was all downhill from here, Dick knew. With his comm still connected to the Cave's network Dick hit the emergency alert. He knew the moment Artemis received it, because she automatically started searching through the sea of students, trying to pinpoint who had sent it.
"I was so looking forward to having a little play-date with the Bats... Looks like I'll just have to make do." The Joker let out an exaggerated sigh, flashed a wide, manic grin, and lashed out, grabbing the nearest student and pulling him into a headlock.
Dick's blood was boiling. This was a moral worst-case scenario. He could follow Bruce's Number 1 rule, keep his ID safe, and hope that Artemis or the Team took action in time; or he could break the rule, expose himself, and take matters into his own hands.
The Joker's gaze was taunting, surprisingly all-knowing, and of course a little bit insane. From the almost-confused glances Count Vertigo was sending the both of them Dick concluded that only Joker knew. But if his patience ran out – and he was pretty sure it was going to at this rate – then everyone would know, one way or another.
Artemis would be furious.
"Come out come out wherever you are..." Joker called in a sing-song tone. He'd acquired a knife from somewhere, and was running the blade in a morbid caress along the poor kid's cheek.
Well, that was about as much waiting as Dick could take.
Dropping his bag at his feet Dick removed his Academy blazer and ran a hand through his hair, mussing it's gelled obedience. He crouched low to the ground, hidden from view by the mass of bodies, and pulled from his bag his mask – which he quickly jammed on his face – and his gloves. Rolling up the sleeves of his dress shirt he pulled them on and, while still out of sight, used the computer in his watch to hack into his comm in order to make sure the signal was still broadcasting.
Satisfied, he shut them off and straightened up, ignoring the hushed gasps that circled around him as people began to notice.
'Bruce is going to kill me when he finds out.'
With that thought in mind, Dick – now Robin – leaped up into the rafters. Moving through the students would have been too difficult. Looking around Robin spied Artemis once more and... yeah, she looked pretty angry.
"What do you want Joker?" Robin demanded, voice echoing throughout the gymnasium. "Did you have to get Count Vertigo to break you out of Arkham? That's not very asterous; you must be getting old." As per usual Joker ignored everything he said, although his rather manic grin widened exponentially as he released his hostage.
"Why hello little Dickie-bird, long time no see! Where's Bats? He out of town? What a shame."
Robin groaned at the new nickname and switched his comm. to call all of the team. Joker knew that Batman was out of town – probably planned it too, or he would have if he had that much foresight.
"Aqualad, come in." Static momentarily crackled in his ear before the Atlantean's voice came through.
"Robin? We attempted to contact you but you did not respond. What is the situation?"
"Sorry, I was trying for incognito. It's the Joker and Count Vertigo. Arrival time?"
"I can be there whenever you need me," Kid Flash interrupted. Robin could hear M'gann and Superboy in the background. He inched along the rafter, getting clear of the student body.
"Do it. And get ready to catch me." Robin cut the connection before Aqualad could protest and climbed to his feet. His bag had been heavy for another reason, and he was about to piss Artemis off even further.
"Yo, Artemis!" He called, smirking at the blonde girl as he counted under his breath. Joker watched on silently, seemingly amused. Robin supposed he was enjoying the moment, seeing as he had essentially just unmasked him. Count Vertigo was studying him carefully. Robin could almost hear the gears whirring in his mind. "There might just happen to be some arrows in my bag. You're welcome." Robin tipped the furious archer a two-finger salute.
Then he fell.
Almost at once the entire student body screamed. Robin wasn't worried. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Artemis fighting her way through the terrified students, and he was only half surprised that Count Vertigo wasn't making any effort to stop her. Perhaps he was bored and wanted some action. He'd have to be, to seek out Joker.
Mere seconds before Robin planned to right himself and simply land on the ground himself a familiar – albeit higher and very sped up – voice called out "Dude!" and he found himself cradled in a familiar pair of arms, in a very familiar yellow outfit.
"Seriously Rob, sometimes I think you're seriously suicidal." Kid Flash muttered as he put Robin down. Robin simply cackled darkly as he turned to face Joker.
"How far out are the others?"
'Damn.' Inside Robin was cringing. He probably could have waited the team out and the kid would have been no worse for wear, but he knew Joker wouldn't have been satisfied if 'Robin' didn't show up. It was better this way.
"There we go. Isn't this fun Dickie-bird? Haven't I done you a favour? Just because Bats was too afraid..." Joker spun in a circle, purple clad arms out at his sides, knife dangling loosely from his right hand.
Kid Flash took a moment to actually look at Robin.
"Wha- Dude! Is that what you meant by incognito? How did he know?" KF lowered his voice to a whisper at the end, but Robin simply shook his head.
"No idea KF. No idea."
He didn't have to tell Wally how much that freaked him out. The speedster could probably sense it.
"Dammit Baywatch don't just stand there, do something!" Artemis shouted, returning to their position with a hastily put together red bow and a handful of arrows. Her face clearly showed her distaste with the equipment at her disposal. Robin simply shrugged. That's what she got for not being prepared.
"Oh, yeah, right."
Kid Flash charged towards Count Vertigo, having forgotten what happened the last time they faced off in Bayou Bartholomew. Suddenly alert, Vertigo activated his psychic force and aimed it at the blur that was Wally. Unable to stop moving, Walling ran in slow-motion until he bumped into Vertigo's chest, where the villain simply batted him to the side.
Robin raised an eyebrow behind his mask. Perhaps Vertigo really didn't come to fight? With his god-irritating diplomatic immunity it wouldn't matter either way what he did, they wouldn't be able to arrest him for it.
"How does it feel Dickie-bird?" Robin was getting seriously sick of that new nickname.
"How does what feel?" He shot back, wishing he had thought to bring some of his own weapons.
"Exposure!" Joker shouted, jumping forward and getting in Robin's face, even as the Boy Wonder backed away. It was unnerving. Had he gotten faster in Arkham?
As Robin jumped, launching an airborne roundhouse kick at Joker's head, he realised that Joker was practically vibrating with excitement. Kid Flash was running circles around Joker, hoping to cause some sort of distraction since he couldn't help Artemis with Vertigo, but the green-haired maniac didn't bat an eyelash at it. He easily ducked under Robin's kick and latched onto his ankle. Turning on the spot Joker spun Robin through the air and let him go.
Robin collided with Kid Flash, who hadn't quite slowed down yet, and they went flying into the wall, collapsing into a pile of limbs. A red arrow soared past them towards Joker. It's trajectory was slightly off – Artemis hadn't managed to adjust to the new equipment yet – and the pale man easily dodged it with an extravagant sidestep.
Robin was in the process of untangling himself from Kid Flash when a long-overdue voice entered his mind.
"The bio-ship is on the lawn. Are you all okay?" Miss Martian, asking after their well-being in the heat of battle. Not, Robin decided, that it was much of a battle.
"Fine," Robin sent back down the telepathic link. Brain on overdrive he scanned the room again, looking for some sort of trick or trap. Shell-shocked Academy students and staff - "Aqualad, start an evac, the students are in the way." "Understood." Artemis, firing arrow after arrow at a non-responsive Count Vertigo. Wally, still somewhat disoriented from crashing into the wall. And then there was the Joker. Standing by himself, clad in his signature purple suit, he looked gleeful. Not the insane sort of gleeful that occasionally popped up when he was arrested, but a vicious 'I've-done-something-you-won't-like' sort of gleeful.
Something bad indeed... If Robin had known today would play out like this – fighting in his school uniform – he would have called in sick. Not that Alfred would have believed him.
"Everyone please stay calm. We need you to leave through the back door." From the corner of his eye Robin spotted Aqualad, trying to convince people to leave. M'gann was hovering near the back of the crowd, shepherding them.
"Finally," Robin sighed, sinking into a fighting stance.
Kid Flash was on his feet again and zipped off somewhere.
Superboy made a rather impressive entrance, jumping on Joker and pinning him to the ground. That was when Robin realised that everything was happening too easily. Vertigo was only attacking in self-defence, and Joker wasn't playing to his usual standards either. Sometimes it would take hours for Robin and Batman to capture Joker. He wasn't even trying.
Confused and wary, Robin moved out of his stance and crossed the floor. His head was ringing, there was a possibility he had a slight concussion, but he'd had worse and kept on fighting.
"Let him go Supes," Robin said quietly when he reached the pair. Superboy stared up at him, frowning deeply.
"That's a bad idea, isn't it? Why?"
Rubbing his forehead Robin knelt down next to the clone.
"It's a set-up. All of it. I want to ask him something." Joker laughed at that, loudly, madly. Superboy released his grip somewhat, but refused to fully relinquish his hold. Robin simply shrugged.
"Oi," Robin called, snapping his fingers in front of Joker's face. The infamous criminal stopped laughing and turned his bright gaze towards Robin's masked face.
"What did you mean before, when you said 'exposure'?"
Superboy's face fell into confusion while Joker's grin – if it was ever possible – widened even further.
"Exposure," he chuckled darkly, "as in everyone in Gotham knowing your little secret."
Robin froze up. No. That couldn't be true. He was lying. Joker shifted his gaze to Count Vertigo and Robin, helpless to do anything else, followed it.
Belatedly, and with a feeling of growing dread, Robin activated his wrist-watch computer and scanned Vertigo. On the breast pocket of his suit there was a tiny camera, which was apparently wirelessly transmitting live footage.
Robin muttered the words "camera" and "totally disastrous" before turning back to Superboy.
"Count Vertigo has a camera. Suit pocket. Destroy it." Robin ordered the team telepathically. There was no need to give Gotham more insight than it already had.
"On it." Aqualad abandoned his post at the doors, entrusting them to M'gann, and moved to aid Artemis in taking out the camera. He dashed behind the Count and activated his water bearers, lashing them this way and that, both aiming to distract him for Artemis and attempting to rip the camera off Vertigo's jacket himself.
M'gann herded the last of the students outside before coming to hover uncertainly between the two 'battles'. Robin and Superboy didn't need any help with Joker – he was complacently lying still beneath Superboy and had resumed his haunting, triumphant laughter – despite Robin's own shot composure. Gracefully she lowered herself to the ground and walked towards Robin anyway, sensing his distress. She rested a hand lightly on his shoulder and glanced around, searching for something to say. Her gaze found Artemis and her mouth moved without her being truly aware of it.
"Those are not Artemis' usual bow and arrow," She commented, also taking in the archer's Gotham Academy uniform.
"That's because I wasn't making them for her," Robin replied tersely, smirking tightly at the oddly satisfying sound of breaking technology. "They were for Speedy... Sorry, Red Arrow."
Purposefully ignoring the pitying look on M'gann's eyes Robin stood up, gave Superboy a significant look that read 'stay here, don't let Joker escape', and headed over to where Artemis and Aqualad stood in front of the ruffled Count Vertigo.
"We know now that we cannot arrest you," Aqualad was saying as Robin came to a standstill next to him, "But that does not mean we will forget your transgression."
Robin scoffed, Artemis scowled, and Vertigo simply stared down at them.
"Just leave already!" Robin demanded, startling the archer. Count Vertigo tsk'ed irritably and stalked off.
"So... Where'd Kid Dork go?" Artemis asked into the ensuing silence, noticing his absence from the gymnasium. Police sirens tore through the air and Artemis shook her head.
"You say it was transmitting, but it took them until now to get here?" She pulled a face and set about dismantling the bow. "Leaving us to fight their battles. Typical."
Commissioner Gordon entered the gym, glanced around briefly, taking in the situation, and headed over to Superboy, M'gann and Joker, handcuffs at the ready.
Robin let out a pained sigh, collected his bow and remaining arrows from Artemis, gathered the remains of the broken camera, and headed back over to his abandoned school-bag. There was no way he was staying in class for the rest of the day. He briefly contemplated simply running for it...
He didn't make it more than two steps out of the gymnasium before that plan was well and truly smashed to pieces. Not only did every single person in his year turn to stare at him, but the Batmobile was parked next to the bio-ship.
There was a flash of yellow amongst the police cars – had he retrieved the cops? That was pretty poor, even for the Gotham PD.
Robin was about to turn and sneak back into the gymnasium, but not only was Superboy now blocking the doorway, a familiar looming black figure had appeared in his peripheral vision. Batman had spotted him, there was no getting away from him now.
In Robin's opinion, the day had turned into a perfect example of Murphy's Law – everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
Surrounded loosely by the team and face to face with an angry Batman, Robin could only stand in mortified silence. The revelation was all on him. He had acted rashly, not trusting the team to arrive in time, and had wilfully exposed himself. Yeah, he could sense a pretty big lecture coming when they made it back to the manor.
"Robin." Robin's masked eyes glanced up to meet Batman's heavy gaze. "Do you trust your classmates?"
"Not at all. But B, it's sort of too late to worry about that. Joker screened it all across Gotham."
Batman's frown deepened; apparently he hadn't known about that.
"Are you absolutely certain?" Batman queried slowly, strategising. Robin's mouth fell open in outrage, and he started to protest, but paused, taking a moment to think about it.
"Actually, I'm not entirely sure. It was definitely transmitting somewhere, but I didn't really have time for a track-and-trace. You should get Agent A to check it out." Robin could have sworn Batman rolled his eyes at him. It was probably a trick of the light. He barely did it as Bruce, but he never did it as Batman.
Scattered around them, the teachers had begun trying to create order by doing what they did best; taking roll call.
To one side Robin could even here his own teacher doing the same.
Robin blinked. Did she seriously expect him to respond?
She paused and looked over his assembled classmates.
"Has anyone seen Richard?"
Robin could see his own disbelief reflected on their faces. Seriously? Had she not been paying attention at all? Was she in the bathroom the whole time or something?
Artemis stepped up beside him and gave him a shove, saying loudly "Go on Circus Freak, someone's looking for you."
Robin turned to glare at her; Artemis merely grinned.
"Don't get too cocky," he warned her, "You've got just as much to explain to them as I do."
Apparently that thought hadn't occurred to her yet. Burying her face in her hands she groaned, loudly. If the situation were different, Robin might have found her distress amusing; as it was, it only added to his own.
"Looks like it's time to face the music guys," Kid Flash piped up as he came back over, withering instantly under Batman's glare.
"I don't see you taking your mask off," Artemis pointed out bitterly, unimpressed with his cheerfulness after everything that had happened. Robin caught her eye and smirked.
"Yeah Wally, why don't you join us? Kaldur doesn't have a secret identity, and if you stop and think about it Superboy doesn't really have a disguise. We could do a 'three for the price of two' reveal deal. It'd hardly matter, seeing as you don't even live in Gotham."
Batman actually rolled his eyes at that, and went to discuss Joker's latest bout of imprisonment with the police. He and Robin both knew that any discussion they might have would occur away from prying eyes and ears. Besides, Kid Flash wasn't his responsibility.
"Come on now guys, I'm sure it's not really necessary..." KF protested, backing away as they came towards him.
"Of course it is. You're my best friend and I need you for moral support."
Wally was torn. It'd be kinda cool for someone to know who he was, but he also liked the whole mysterious vigilante thing. Plus Flash would probably be mad at him.
As usual, Aqualad was there to save the day.
"Robin, Artemis, perhaps it is time you stopped teasing Kid Flash. They are waiting for you."
Robin sighed, sharing a commiserating look with Artemis. Silently they came to a truce. Face it together. They could go back to hating each other later.
"If you say so."
Robin didn't like being exposed like that, but he pretty much had no say in the matter.
The moment the duo drew near their classmates they were swamped, bombarded with questions.
Kid Flash grinned in thanks at Aqualad, yelled a hasty farewell, then dashed off back home. He wasn't willing to risk anymore revelation attempts.
Superboy was unamused, but then he was always unamused, so it was nothing new.
M'gann was slightly confused; she didn't entirely understand what had happened, but could tell that Artemis and Robin were uncomfortable being the centre of attention. Why that was was beyond her; she couldn't figure it out unless she looked into their minds, which she had promised not to do.
Either way, it had been an eventful day.
When Richard and Bruce finally made it back to the manor, Dick was fully expecting a deep, long lecture from Bruce in his 'disappointed Batman' voice. What he got instead was a slap upside the back of the head and a slightly humorous explanation.
"Joker picked the wrong person to play cameraman," Bruce told him as they walked towards the Batcave. "Vertigo mustn't have been too impressed, because the transmitter programming was purposeful; it wasn't an accident."
"What wasn't an accident?" Dick asked impatiently, unimpressed with the pleasure Bruce was getting from drawing the explanation out.
"You see," Bruce continued as he booted up one of the monitors, pulling up the scans Alfred had performed, "it wasn't transmitting in Gotham. In fact, it wasn't transmitting anywhere near Gotham. Vertigo was sending the data aimlessly into space."
"Wait, what? Seriously? That was actually... sort of asterous of him"
"Yes, it was rather nice of him. I suppose he didn't want to be Joker's lackey. The only people who could possibly have seen it were anyone in the space station, and whoever was on-duty in the Watchtower."
"So... Martian Manhunter saw it?" That would be awkward.
"Perhaps. I doubt he'd say anything if he did. You acted rashly, yes, but you were trying to protect your schoolmates. It's always difficult to punish someone for being noble."
"So... I'm not being punished?"
"No, you aren't. I think that whatever you have to suffer through from your classmates will be punishment enough, don't you?"
That thought made Dick want to lock himself away for the rest of his life.
"So I can't-"
"No Dick, you can't skip school."
"Damn," he muttered, before slipping off to his room.