Chapter 10: Predecessor

Link stared up at the a thick stone that made up the towering mansion. It was ancient, more like an ivy coated castle than anything. Beautifully trimmed gardens of luscious plant life such as evergreens as hedges scattered across an expansive lawn, covering it in cool shadows that danced across the dark green lawn. In the distance, a massive city towered over the land, metal and glass shining in the early morning sunshine. Fluffy clouds drifted across the skies and birds chirped happily as flew nearby. Life seemed beautiful.

Mother Nature had such a terrifying sense of humor.

Link moved forwards towards the large oaken doors slowly, fear beginning to creep its way inside of him. He had grabbed a pair of dark grey sweats and a black hoodie on his way out the door, which were now the only things that would hide his injuries and prevent his host from noticing his weakened state. He prayed that it would be enough.

Slowly, he reached up and pressed on the doorbell, listening to the ring as it echoed through the vast halls. Several moments later, the door creaked open to reveal a woman with wavy brown hair that hung loosely down her back. She appeared to be in her early twenties. She was dressed businesslike with a black cotton jacket that covered her torso with a white shirt revealed at the collar. A black skirt came down to just above her knees whole stockings came up from the black high-heels that clacked under her feet as she walked. Calm green eyes regarded him as she spoke. "Can I help you?"

He quelled his emotions, giving no outward sign of his pain and emotional turmoil. He met her gaze with the same level of practiced calm. "I'm here to see the master of the house."

"I'm afraid he is resting right now. Come back later, if you please." As she moved to close the door, he flung his hand out, stopping her cold. She swung around to face him, her eyes narrowing dangerously.

"I'm afraid you may have misunderstood me," he informed her calmly as he produced his communicator and showed her the iconic "T". "I'm here to see the master of the house."

She locked her eyes on the device before looking back into his eyes. After a moment of tense silence, she slowly pulled back, allowing the door the open wider. "Please, come in. I shall inform him of your arrival. Please wait in the living room."

She led him into a room towards the left of the vast entryway, which was a hall leading towards an elegant ballroom and a staircase spiraling up the wall to the right of the main entrance doors. The living room was a large area, lite by the sunlight streaming through the windows. Three leather couches surrounded an oak coffee table, with the final side a wall adorned with a large fireplace built into the stone. Link sat on the left couch as the woman vanished up the staircase.

He waited several moments until she reemerged, followed by a tall, muscular man who appeared to be somewhere in his thirties. He had black hair that was still ruffled from sleep. Despite his obvious drowsiness, the man's sapphire blue eyes were alert as he studied the boy. His only clothing was a fluffy white bathrobe which was a strange outfit for such a legendary figure to be wearing. Link stood and smiled at the man.

"It's an honor to met you sir," said Link. "I've always held much respect for your... Other personality. But then again, who doesn't?"

"You seem to know me quite well, but I have no idea who you are," returned the man.

Link laughed. "Please, we both know you've done thorough background checks on me and my team."

The man didn't deny the remark. Instead, he stepped forward towards the couch across from the boy, calling to the woman as he went. "Malinda, can you bring us some coffee and maybe a couple pancakes? I get the feeling this is going to be a long talk." Melinda nodded and retreated from the room. "So what can I do for you Mr. Harker?"

Link smiled. "Please. There isn't much that a man like the Batman can't! Or would you prefer to be called Mr. Grayson in this setting?"

"Dick is fine, and that's a bold accusation to make," he replied.

Link cocked an eyebrow. "You said it, not me." Dick rolled his eyes. "Let's not play games Dick. If the information provided to me by the Titan's database wasn't enough, I'd figured out your identity years ago. I mean, come on! Batman, who obviously needs extensive funding for his equipment, shows up almost right after billionaire Bruce Wayne gets back from a trip around the world. Bruce Wayne adopts young Richard Grayson, hello, and sudden it's all 'Enter Robin'? Then young Dick grows up and leaves Wayne Manor and suddenly Robin's in Jump. Bruce adopts Jason Todd and the Boy Wonder suddenly returns. The Boy Wonder disappears again and Jason is declared dead. The list goes on. That's a heck of a lot of coincidences, wouldn't you say?"

Dick considered the point and gave a nod. "Very good. Though there is one small problem with that theory."

"You mean the fact that Mr. Wayne died three months ago? Yeah, that kind of throws a wrench in that theory considering Batman is obviously still kicking. Or at least it would if Mr. Wayne hadn't left all of his possessions, including any equipment that may or may not have belonged to the alternate persona that he may or may not have had, to his heir, who just happens to be you. Should I throw in there that Nightwing also disappeared from Bludhaven at the same time?"

For the first time, Dick smiled. "That's very clever of you. Strangely enough, no one has made those connections. Bruce managed to throw almost everyone of the trail and keep his secrets." At that time Malinda returned and deposited a tray loaded with two plates piled high with steaming pancakes and two mugs of coffee. With a bow, she retreated back against the wall.

Link cocked an eyebrow. "Didn't you and Starfire... You know, get hitched?"

He sighed. "It's complicated. Let's just say we had a fight. She kind of ran off to Tamaran... And took our daughter with her. We're working it out. Malinda here is the new Batgirl in training."

"Tell me how that goes. I'm actually here on different business."

"I figured. Tell me, what brings the new leader of the Teen Titans to my humble abode?"

"Recent events have forced me to. A crime boss by the name of Mr. Luck has been looking to start an all out war with the biggest bad guy in the city, King. Last night some of my team intercepted a shipment coming in at the docks that we believe was linked to his activities. They were shipping a little girl."

"Tragic, but I fail to see how this is relevant to me," said Dick as a look of confusion passed over his face.

Link met his eyes. "The boat was registered to a Robert Tate."

The confusion cleared from the former leader of the Titans face. "Ah, now I see."

"I figured you might be able to help us out, seeing as you have a long standing conflict with that man."

"You've got that right. Ra's Al Ghul is definitely no friend of mine."

End of Chapter