Chapter 4: Two Sides to Every Story
Robin sat crouched on a gargoyle of one of Gotham's many tall buildings. He stared down at the city with narrowed eyes, waiting for some sort of chaos to happen. Cars zoomed left and right on the streets and pedestrians shuffled on the sidewalks.
Robin pulled a Batman and didn't even have to look to see who it was. He'd recognize that voice anywhere. "Batgirl," he said curtly. "You shouldn't be out here."
Batgirl, standing on the ledge, leaned against the building wall. "Why should I let you and the old Bat have all the fun?" She plopped down on the ledge and scooted closer to Robin.
"It's not safe," Robin said bluntly. "It's hard enough for me to keep Batman from finding out about you. You're only making it harder by being out here on patrol." He kept his hard gaze on the city.
Batgirl pouted. "Oh, come on, Boy Wonder," she said, "where's the fun in all that?"
"No fun," Robin said. He stood from the ledge and took out his grapple gun. "You should get home." He fired the line and swung off. He tucked and rolled on top of a building and began walking.
"You don't have time for fun?"
Robin didn't jump. He ignored Batgirl as he walked past where she stood by the chimney.
Batgirl scoffed. "That's depressing," she said, walking after him. "Maybe we could have some fun of our own."
Robin rolled his eyes. Man, Babs really is a bad flirt, Dick thought in his mind. "Go home," he ordered in his best 'Batman' voice. A tug on his cape stopped him from walking. Robin glared at Batgirl and pulled his cape from her grasp. He continued walking and Batgirl followed.
"What's wrong with you, pixie boots?" Batgirl asked. "I never thought that the Boy Wonder would ever be so stoic and serious."
"My name is Robin." He stopped at the edge of the rooftop. "And you should get home before it gets past your curfew."
He leapt off the side of the building with a flourish of his cape and disappeared into the night.
Dick Grayson placed his history book in his locker and slammed it shut.
"Hey, Dick," Barbara said, appearing next to him, leaning on the locker next to his. She flashed him a smile as bright as the sun. Her red hair was pulled up into a ponytail. Dick loved it when she did that.
Dick pulled a smile. "Hey, Barbara." He slung his backpack on and faced her. "What's up?"
"Well, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to catch a movie after school today."
Dick cocked an eyebrow. "You mean you don't have other plans?" he asked knowingly.
Barbara narrowed her confused eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Nothing," Dick said dismissively. He scratched his head and pretended to think. "Uh, I'm pretty sure that I'm free after school. What movie do you wanna see?"
Barbara smiled and tucked some hair behind her ear. "I was thinking about—"
Just then, a couple of rowdy teenage guys burst into the hall. There were about 5 of them, all of them wearing leather
jackets. They shoved each other around and laughed.
Dick rolled his eyes at them. "You were saying?" he said to Barbara. A crushed can hit the back of his head. Dick growled under his breath and turned to where the gang boys were. Barbara grabbed his arm before he could move.
The gang boys laughed and pointed. "Hey, look!" the tallest and buffest one said. "It's the freshman!" He and the rest of his gang strutted towards Dick and Barbara. "What's up, Grayson?" he asked, looking down at Dick.
Barbara held Dick's struggling arm tightly and answered before he could. "What do you want, Houston?"
Houston grinned, revealing yellow and crooked teeth. "For you to go out on a date with me after school," he said in a way that was probably supposed to be suave. "How 'bout it, sweet cheeks?"
"Sorry," Dick said through gritted teeth, "but she's got other plans."
"Oh, yeah?" Houston said mockingly. "What, with you? Come on, Gordon. Why waste your time with a shrimp like Grayson when you could date a senior like me?" He leaned on the lockers and cocked an eyebrow.
"Grade doesn't matter to me," Barbara snapped. "Even so, brain-wise, Dick still has you beat."
Houston's smile grew. "I like a girl with spunk," he said. He grabbed Dick's arm and threw him aside. He approached Barbara and came close.
Dick was grabbed by two other guys by the arms and dragged back. He struggled and kicked, but couldn't break free. Houston had Barbara by the arms and was holding onto her. She struggled and tried to pull away. Dick snarled and yanked his arms in, bashing the two guys' heads together. They crumpled to the ground and Dick jumped over their bodies. He ducked under the swing of the third guy and elbowed him in the gut. He slid under the fourth guy's legs and kicked him in the crotch. Dick leapt at Houston, but he was already on the ground, cradling his crotch.
Barbara was standing in a fighting stance with her fist raised and her foot loosely planted to the ground. She fixed her hair and stood up straight. "Man, that was annoying!"
Dick grinned. One of the many things he loved about Barbara: she could kick some real butt when she needed to. "Are you okay?" Dick asked, running up to her.
"I'm fine," Barbara said. She casually smiled at Dick as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "So, do you wanna meet at the theatre around 4?"
Dick slung his backpack back onto his shoulder and the two began walking. "Sure."
Robin punched a thug down. He watched Batman throw a limp body into another thug. They stood in the street around 11 o'clock. Batman and Robin were intercepting a drug handoff. Two gangs attacked them at once. Robin dodged a punch from a man and kicked him in the gut. He noticed the driver of the drug truck start the ignition. He grabbed a birdarang from his utility belt and threw it at the truck's back tire.
The explosive hummed and blew up, blasting the back of the truck and flipping it over. The driver fell from the broken window and remained limp on the ground.
Batman simultaneously kneed a thug in the gut and punched another in the face. He swept down a man by the feet and flip kicked another. He looked up and saw a dark, caped figure tackling one of the drug dealers.
Robin saw this and grabbed three smoke pellets from his belt. He ran by the figure and threw them down, hiding them from view. Robin grabbed the figure and pulled them behind a large truck, both of them kneeling on the ground. "What are you doing here?"
Batgirl huffed in exasperation and slapped Robin's hand from her arm. "I'm trying to help!" she said.
"Well, stop," Robin ordered. "Go home. We've got this covered."
"Yeah," Batgirl snapped, "I can see that through that bruise on your cheek."
Robin rubbed the swelling on his face and glared. "Fair point," he admitted, "but you could get worse than this if you stay. Get out of here before you get hurt." He pulled out his dual Eskrima sticks and stood.
Batgirl grabbed his arm before he could leave. "Why is it so hard for you to accept my help?" she asked.
Robin pulled his arm from her hold and faced her. "I'm not the one who's denying it." He jumped onto the top of the truck. "Batman won't accept you." The Boy Wonder leapt from the top of the truck and into battle.
Dick ducked to avoid a dodge ball. He, along with his PE class, stood in the gym on the right side of the court. The dark bruise on his left cheek was covered up with makeup. Another class stood on the other side, grinning menacingly with dodge balls in their hands. There were only 5 people left in Dick's team and 20 left on the other team. He ducked, dodged, and skirted out of the way while three other people on his team were taken out.
The other two on Dick's team scrambled around. They were light on their feet, but frantic. Two guys threw balls and nailed them.
Dick sighed and flipped some hair from his face. He was tired and sweaty. The other team grinned and raised their balls.
Houston, held his hand up, saying without speaking, 'This one is mine.' He threw the ball, it curved, and hit Dick right smack in the face.
Then, Dick was in the nurse's office, Barbara inspecting his cheek. "Ouch," she said.
Dick was sitting on the little nurse bed with the paper on top. He'd changed out of his PE clothes and into his school uniform in the bathroom. That'd given him a chance to wipe the makeup off. Barbara had given him an ice pack and he had it gingerly pressed to his face.
"You look like someone punched you in the face, Dick" Barbara said. Dick chuckled awkwardly and winced when Barbara gently touched the bruise. "Houston didn't punch you, did he?" she asked suddenly.
Dick shook his head. "No." But, that's pretty close, he thought to himself. "Have I ever told you how thankful I am that you help out in the office?" he asked.
Barbara snickered. "You're lucky it's me and not Vicky Gilmore," she laughed.
Dick grimaced. "No kidding," he said, shivering at the thought. Vicky Gilmore was a dorky, obsessive girl who'd had a crush on Dick since kindergarten. It was nothing if not creepy.
"I can't believe that bruise came from a dodge ball," Barbara said.
Dick shrugged. "Well, you know," he said, "Houston's got an arm. Besides, it was worth taking the shot since he got a detention."
Barbara scoffed in amusement. "I'm starting to think that you set this whole thing up."
"What thing?" Dick raised a cocky eyebrow.
"Oh, you know," Barbara said conversationally, "the dodge ball, the smack in the face, Houston's detention, and then the nurse's office to see me."
Dick half smiled. "Well, someone's got a big sense of their own importance," he said.
"One picks it up after they spend too much time with you," Barbara said.
"I've never heard you complain about spending time with me."
"Not like I have much of a choice."
"And yet, you're still the one who invited me to come over to your house after school."
"Hey," Barbara took the ice pack away, "you told me that you didn't understand your history homework. I offered to
help you with it over at my house."
"I call study date!" Dick said loudly.
Barbara rolled her eyes. "What is it with you and this 'calling' thing? Not to mention the whole 'whelmed' thing."
Dick laughed. "You know me too well, Babs," he said. If only I knew you, he thought slightly bitterly in his mind. "Even if you don't completely understand me…"
"I don't think anyone will ever completely understand you, Grayson."
The two grinned at each other.
Dick broke the gaze and picked up his backpack. "Well," he said, clearing his throat, "it's been fun, but I'm late for English." He quickly grabbed his backpack and ran out of the nurse's office. He stopped at the door of the office and turned. "I'm looking forward to our study date!" he called, winking.
Barbara rolled her eyes. "Get going, Grayson!"
Dick cackled and ran out the door.
The team sat in the bio ship. They were flying towards Central City to infiltrate Captain Cold. Kid Flash was extra excited to be able to work with both the Team and his mentor. He was practically vibrating in his seat.
Robin gritted his teeth as the humming grew louder. "Would you cut it out, KF?" he asked irritably.
Kid Flash froze in place. "What's your problem, Rob?" he demanded. "You've been jerky for weeks."
"I don't wanna talk about it." Robin sunk a little in his chair and stared out the window.
Kid Flash opened his mouth again, but Artemis and Aqualad shot him looks that said 'Let it go', Artemis' a little more harsh than the latter's.
"Arriving at Central City," Miss Martian announced.
Robin unbuckled and hopped out of the bio ship. He landed on the ground with a flourish of his cape. The rest of the Team landed behind him. Robin's eyes scanned the city.
Kid Flash took a deep breath. "Ah, the sweet smell of Central City," he said. "This," he pulled his goggles on, "is gonna be fun."
"Batman said that Captain Cold is attacking the Central City bridge," Aqualad said.
"I know where that is," Kid Flash said. He took a running position. "Try to keep up." He sped off to the west.
The bio ship dropped down red, green, and blue motorcycles. Robin grabbed his helmet, hopped on his bike and zoomed after Kid Flash. He kept his narrowed eyes on the road and followed the fading smoke on the ground left by Kid Flash. He could tell that the rest of the team was following closely behind him. Robin could see Superboy bounding across the sky with Miss Martian trailing closely behind him. Artemis and Aqualad drove up next to Robin's bike.
The Team drove down the Central City bridge and hopped off their vehicles. Robin threw his helmet off and stared at Captain Cold freezing the support lines. Cars were scattered around the street and people were running and screaming. Captain Cold's minions were running around with mini freeze guns.
Robin took out his Eskrima sticks and spun them in his hands. He charged forward and kicked down a minion.
Kid Flash grinned and zipped down the road. He knocked down three minions. One aimed his gun at Artemis and Kid Flash punched him in the face. He grabbed the gun and admired it. "Souvenir," he said happily.
Artemis rolled her eyes and notched an arrow.
Robin threw a birdarang at Captain Cold and knocked the freeze gun from his hands. The villain glared at the Boy Wonder and took out a smaller gun. He shot shards of ice at the superhero. Robin dodged and charged at him. He threw another birdarang, pinning Captain Cold to a support beam, and punched his lights out. The villain went limp.
"Aw, dude," Kid Flash whined, "I wanted to be the one to take him out. He's my super villain!" He cried out as he dodged another blast from a minion's freeze gun.
"Less talking, more fighting, Kid Mouth!" Artemis shouted. She shot down another minion with an exploding arrow.
Then, there was a loud crack. All eyes fell on the support line that Captain Cold had been freezing. It was frozen solid and shattering.
Aqualad's eyes widened. "Move!" he yelled.
The Team ran but the bridge gave way and they all fell. Miss Martian grabbed Superboy before he hit the water. Aqualad raised the water and solidified it under his feet. Kid Flash grabbed Artemis' hand with one of his and held onto the edge of the bridge with the other. He struggled to hold on.
Robin cried out as he fell into open air, but a gloved hand caught his. He looked up and saw a smiling Batgirl above him on the bridge. "Miss me?" she asked.
Robin couldn't help but grin. Batgirl pulled him onto the bridge quickly. "How'd you find us?" he asked.
"It doesn't take rocket science to track a Martian bio ship," Batgirl said.
Robin and Batgirl looked up and were reminded of Kid Flash and Artemis hanging off the side.
"If you two are done catching up, we could really use some help!"
Robin grinned. He rushed off to help Kid Flash. He pulled the speedster up and Batgirl helped Artemis.
Aqualad approached the rest of the team. "Is everyone alright?"
"We're fine," Miss Martian assured him. She and Superboy landed next to him and looked down at where Robin, Batgirl, Kid Flash, and Artemis sat on the ground.
Robin cleared his throat and stood, brushing himself off. "Where's Captain Cold?" he asked.
The Team looked around at the giant gap between the two sides of the bridge. The villain was nowhere in sight. Aqualad peered into the water with narrowed eyes. Then, the water began to swirl and bubble. Black Manta suddenly burst out of the water and tackled Aqualad.
"Aqualad!" Kid Flash cried. He grunted as a Captain Cold minion shot him in the chest.
Artemis raised her bow, but she was tackled by one of Black Manta's henchmen. Superboy bounded forward and ripped Black Manta off of Aqualad. He threw the villain aside and pulled Aqualad to his feet. Miss Martian yelped as she was blasted with water and ice at the same time.
Robin pulled out three of his throwing discs and held them at the ready. He charged forward and found Batgirl at his side. He leapt into the air, spun, and threw his discs at Captain Cold. The villain was blown backward by the force of the three explosions. Batgirl fired her grapple and latched it around his waist. She tugged him forward, pulling herself towards him, and kicked him down. Robin grabbed his freeze gun and grinned. He aimed it at Black Manta.
Batgirl screamed. Robin turned and saw her held by two Black Manta henchmen while a Captain Cold minion pointed his freeze gun at her. Robin growled and shot his freeze gun at the Captain Cold minion. His whole body became encased in ice and he fell over. Robin threw the gun at one of the Black Manta henchmen and kicked down the other one.
Batgirl smiled at Robin. "Thanks, pixie boots," she said, winking.
"Don't think I'm not still mad at you," Robin said, trying not to smile.
"I think I can change that," Batgirl promised. She suddenly lunged forward and kissed him. Robin let out a small 'mph' in surprise. His cheeks pinked and he couldn't breathe.
The two pulled away to see Kid Flash shooting them irritated looks.
"We're in the middle of a battle here!" he scolded. Though, looking back at it, Robin thought that it seemed a bit out of character for Wally to scold anyone for kissing.
Batgirl smiled. "Sorry." She ran off to help out Miss Martian.
Robin was frozen in place as he watched Batgirl run off. A tingly feeling was running through his body and a large grin slowly made its way onto his face. He cackled as he took out a few more discs.
Aqualad slashed at Black Manta's suit with his water-bearers. He cut a wire that connected his helmet to his neck. A strange bluish liquid sloshed out of the wire and he fell back into the water. Superboy hoisted Captain Cold over his heads and threw him in after Manta.
The henchmen and minions soon followed their leaders. The Team gazed down as they hit the water.
Kid Flash grinned. "Well," he toyed with his souvenir, "that was fun."
Artemis cast him a skeptical look. "That was your idea of fun?"
"Sure," Kid Flash shrugged. "What's yours?"
Artemis rolled her eyes and turned. She began walking and Kid Flash followed her. Superboy, Aqualad, and Miss Martian followed them.
Robin looked up at Batgirl. "Thanks for the help," he said, smiling.
"Anytime." She winked.
Robin's smile faded. Like always, Batman crept into his mind whenever he thought of Batgirl.
The Boy Wonder took out a red video communicator from his utility belt. "I'm here, Batman," he responded.
"Report, what's happened?"
Robin glanced over at Batgirl. "The mission was a success," he said, "thanks to a little help from a friend."
Batman raised an eyebrow. "Mind explaining to me what that means?" he asked bluntly.
Robin stared hard at the water. He could imagine all of the good things that could come out of revealing Batgirl to Batman. But the bad things seemed to outweigh them. He sighed. "Not much to explain," he said, shrugging. "Zatanna was kind enough to drop by for a visit."
"I see," Batman said. "I was under the impression that Zatara and his daughter were in the Caribbean."
"And, that's why her little helping hand never happened." Robin winked.
Batman wore his own version of a smile. "Of course," he said. "Get back to the Cave. Red Tornado's waiting for you."
"On my way," Robin said. "Over and out." He shut his communicator and stuffed it back in his belt. "I gotta go," he said to Batgirl.
"Until next time, Boy Wonder," Batgirl said slyly. She pecked him on the cheek and swung off the bridge.
Robin smiled. He'd have to return to favor to Barbara soon.