Continuity: Teen Titans animated series, mostly, cobbled together with bits inspired by the comics verse and Batman: The Animated Series, and stuff I just made up from scratch. Sort of an AU? Takes place after the end of the Teen Titans series.
Characters/Pairings: Robin (Dick Grayson), Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, Alfred Pennyworth, Clark Kent, Commissioner Jim Gordon. Robin/Starfire.
Word Count: 2693
Summary: Batman and Robin hit the streets to investigate Bruce's murder. It's nothing at all like old times.
Warnings: Um... nothing really. Inevitable angst. No spoilers.
Disclaimer: Most of the characters and locations in this story are © DC Entertainment Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment. All content is fictional and for entertainment purposes only, not for profit.
Notes: O hay guyz, we've reached the plot! ...Or, at least, the plot for this first story arc; I'm writing War and Peace over here, fffffff. This chapter is dedicated to magusronin, my good friend and most faithful cheerleader. Happy birthday, dude!
Posted to titanfanfics, robin_fans, we_love_dick, batfic.
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“Okay, Robin–explain to me again why we can't come with you?” Cyborg crossed his arms, frowning.
In full uniform but for the mask, Dick was rifling through supplies in the Batcave, making last-minute changes to the contents of his utility belt. The Titans were clustered around him, and Vic was not the only one frowning. Dick sighed, not lifting his eyes from the drawer he was rummaging through. “First of all, Gotham City is Batman's town, and it's been well established that he discourages meta-human interference here. Secondly,” he continued in a weary, we've-been-over-this-already sort of voice, “the Titans aren't supposed to be here. We have no reason to be here, and as far as everyone knows you're all still in Jump City. My presence here is going to raise enough eyebrows as it is, but at least I've got history here.” He pushed the drawer in, stopping for a moment to look up at them. “Look, we'll be fine. I'm not expecting much trouble; most of the big players are locked up. I'll call you if there's an emergency, okay? But tonight really needs to be a Batman and Robin kind of thing.”
There were sighs as the Titans reluctantly acquiesced. Beast Boy, however, wasn't quite ready to let up on the subject. “But duuuuude, what are we supposed to do while you're out running around on rooftops?” he whined.
Raven fidgeted a little. “I'm with Beast Boy on this one–shocking, I know,” she added dryly. “But I don't like the idea of just... sitting around while you and Superman are out working.”
Dick's lip twitched. “Well, good, because you all have work to do.” He headed over to the Batcomputer and picked up the small pile of file folders that was stacked on the console. “Cyborg, you've still got a few finishing touches on those active holograms, right?”
“Yeah, man, it'll take me another hour or two, tops,” Cyborg replied.
“Great. Meanwhile, all of you need to study these,” Dick said, handing a file folder to each of his friends. “Each folder contains the details of your alias and everyone else's. Learn them, get comfortable with them. We'll try to keep the press at a distance, but you don't want to slip up in casual conversation with an heiress. Quiz each other, do some roleplay, whatever it takes. Okay?”
The Titans were flipping through their folders. “Please, where is this...” Starfire scrutinized the pronunciation guide, “...Ljubljana? It is a country?”
“Dude, is this a real passport?!” Gar was flipping pages, checking out the visa stamps from the countries he'd supposedly been to.
“It's a real fake passport,” Dick replied dryly. He heard a loud CLANG and some muffled grumbling from the training mats and, leaving the Titans to their research, went to check up on Superman.
The Man of Steel was retrieving a batarang from where it had careened off a support pillar, a frustrated wrinkle on his forehead. Dick paused to take stock of the damage Superman had caused to the targets, training equipment, and general surroundings over the course of the afternoon. “...How's it going, Clark?”
Clark huffed a sigh. “I'm not very good with these things,” he said ruefully, holding up a battered batarang.
“It takes a lot of practice,” Dick assured him. “Don't worry about it. I should probably handle throwing the 'rangs for now. You just concentrate on being intimidating and punching people.” Dick's lip twitched. “Speaking of which, how's that going?”
Clark nodded. “Good, I'm really getting the hang of it now. I'm not breaking bags anymore.”
“Excellent,” Dick said, stepping closer. “Show me.”
Clark frowned. “Dick....”
“We need to know you can do this in the field. So... hit me. Hit me like I work for the Riddler and I'm carrying fifty-thousand dollars in unmarked bills. Make it look good.”
Clark looked doubtful, but Dick nodded encouragement... so he hit him.
“Ooof–!!” Dick rolled end over end and slid to a stop a few yards away. He sat up coughing. Clark was at his side in a flash. “Jesus, Dick, are you okay?!”
Dick let Clark help him to his feet. “...That... was perfect,” he said when he could breathe again. “I could tell you were pulling it, but I don't think anyone else could. ...Ow. Yeah, no, that was perfect. Just like that.”
Clark's expression was a strange mix between worry and amusement. “You don't think I hit you too hard, maybe?”
Dick rubbed ruefully at his ribs, eyes narrowing in what would have been a smile if only his mouth had cooperated. “I've seen Bruce do worse.”
“Master Dick, Mister Kent.” Alfred's footsteps echoed softly as he approached, carrying a neatly folded bundle in his arms. “I have made the alterations to Mister Kent's specifications.”
Clark gingerly accepted the gray and black folds of the Batsuit from Alfred. He stared down at it, one hand splayed across the emblematic yellow and black crest, the skin around his eyes looking pinched and his jaw tensed. Then he let out a sigh and lifted his head, catching and holding Dick's gaze. “This is it, huh?”
Dick nodded. “The sun set twenty minutes ago.” There was a 'ping!' and a small red light flashed on the Batcomputer's console. “And there goes the Batsignal.” He turned to Alfred. “Last night?”
“Indeed, sir,” replied Alfred, and Dick nodded again.
There was a blur of color, and where Clark had stood next to Dick and Alfred, dressed in workout sweats, he was now several yards away, facing the mirrors next to the training mats, clad in the Batsuit with the cowl thrown back. Watching himself in the mirrors, Clark slowly, deliberately pulled the cowl into place.
Clark swallowed. The silence among the inhabitants of the Cave was somber and complete; the hum of electronics and the dripping of water seemed suddenly to be deafeningly loud. Dick stepped closer, looking up into the cowl with a searching look. “...Okay?” he murmured.
“Not really,” Clark replied, his voice slightly shaky. “You?”
“No,” Dick said quietly, “not at all.” Then he smoothed the domino mask over his eyes, and when next he spoke, his voice was stronger. “Let's get to work.”
Clark squared his shoulders, stood tall, and in his best approximation of Bruce's working voice said, “Yes.”
Robin jerked his head toward the garage. “C'mon. We're taking the Batmobile.”
The Titans and Alfred trailed after them as they headed for the hulking black vehicle. Robin touched a button on his utility belt as they approached; the engine rumbled to life and the canopy slid back, the turntable spinning the Batmobile to face the Cave's exit. Starfire caught Robin's hand. “I am still wishing I could be going with you,” she said. “You will be taking of the care, yes?”
Robin offered up a small, grim smile. “Always,” he said, pressing a quick kiss to her lips. Then, with a flourish of his cape, he jumped into the passenger seat.
Clark settled into the driver's seat and the canopy slid closed over them. Clark turned to Robin and stared. Robin stared back. A few moments passed.
“I keep forgetting you can't see my facial expressions under this thing. ...Are you sure you want me to drive?”
Robin's lips twitched slightly. “You'll be fine. She drives really well, actually. Just take it easy on the gas.”
Clark shifted the Batmobile into gear and they tore out of the garage, tires squealing. Clark took the narrow, winding curves through the Batcave slowly at first, then faster as he gained confidence. When the Batmobile burst out of the Cave's hidden entrance and onto the narrow forest road, he let out an impressed whistle. “Wow. This thing has grip.”
“Not bad, right?”
“No. Not bad.” Clark tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “So, uh... I'm going to need to know where I'm going.”
Robin was already leaning forward, tapping at the controls on the console. “I'm setting the satellite navigation. ...Just follow the nice computer lady's directions.” A map blinked onto the screen.
Clark snorted. They drove in silence for a while. Then Clark cleared his throat, glancing sidelong at Robin. “So... you and Starfire, huh?” A mischievous, lightly teasing smile hovered on his lips.
Robin gave Clark a flat look that, even through the domino mask, clearly conveyed, '...Now? Really?' “Yes. Me and Starfire.” His tone was less than inviting.
Clark's smirk widened into a grin and he turned his attention back to the road. “Good for you,” he pronounced cheerfully.
Robin snorted softly and didn't say anything; then, softly, “...Thanks.” Clark merely smiled.
The dirt and gravel road they were on emptied onto a more heavily traveled, asphalt-paved one, leaving the cover of the trees behind. The Batsignal hung yellow in the clouds, casting its baleful glare down on the miscreants of Gotham City. Clark regarded it solemnly for a moment, his heart sinking a little. “...We gonna answer that?”
“I'm going to,” corrected Robin. “Commissioner Gordon knew Batman too well. We can't let him get a good look at you just yet.” He heaved a sigh. “We're not going to be able to keep that up for very long, but... I don't know what else to do.”
Clark nodded. “One thing at a time, right? First things first. And the first thing is....”
Robin's eyes narrowed. “Find Bruce's killer.”
~ ~ ~
Commissioner James Gordon stood on the roof of GCPD Headquarters, staring up at the black and yellow stamp of the Batsignal on Gotham's sky. The sprinkling rain that had persisted all day had finally let up, but the sullen, looming clouds remained, threatening more precipitation, and cool, humid gusts yanked at the tails of Gordon's trench coat. Gordon didn't bother watching for Batman's arrival. He'd long since given that up; whichever direction he faced, the Dark Knight always came up behind him.
...If he showed up at all. “Come on, Batman, come on,” Gordon murmured to himself. “You stood me up last night, don't make it two for two.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” said a voice that was decidedly not Batman's.
Gordon whirled. “Robin?!”
Robin smiled a little as he approached. “It's been a long time, Commissioner.” He switched off the Batsignal.
“It certainly has been! You look like you've grown about half a foot! Well, well, good to see you, Boy Wonder.” Jim offered his hand; Robin took it. “...I thought you were in California these days, with those other kids, the Teen Titans.”
“I am,” said Robin. “I'm just here to give Batman a little extra help.”
Jim nodded. “And where is the Dark Knight this evening? He going to make an appearance?”
“He's busy. Chasing leads on the other side of town,” Robin said. “We decided it would be more efficient if I came alone.”
“Busy, huh?” Gordon scratched at the stubble of that morning's shave. “He didn't show last night either.”
“Busy then, too.”
Robin crossed his arms. “What've you got for us tonight, Commissioner?”
Jim sighed, looking tired. “It's the Wayne shooting. There's more to it than just bad luck. The pieces don't add up.”
Robin's eyes narrowed. “I agree. What do you have so far?”
Gordon tugged out the file he had tucked under his arm and handed it over. Robin flipped it open and started scanning through it while Gordon summarized. “The shooter's been identified as Richard Murray, 43. He was a private in the army before the onset of paranoid schizophrenia at age 19. He was released from a military hospital into his parents' care, but following an altercation with his family in 1990 he fell off the map and has apparently been living homeless ever since. Blood tests when we brought him in showed high concentrations of diphenhydramine. No idea where he got the gun; the serial numbers are filed off, no fingerprints on it besides his. The tuxedo seems to be bespoke–there's no tags. Looks to be about ten years old, judging by the style.” He jerked a chin at the file. “All the forensics reports are in there. ...Do you want to take a look at the evidence yourself?”
Robin narrowed his eyes as he scanned the reports. “Mmmm,” he said; then, “No, maybe later, thank you Commissioner. This is enough to get started with.” He could sneak into the evidence room at any time if he needed to, but just now he wanted to hit the streets. He was going to need the whole night. “...Anything else for me, Commissioner?”
“No, son. Just this. Find out who pumped Murray full of deliriants, put a gun in his hand, and walked him into a crowd of civilians. Find out who did it and why. Bruce Wayne was–Wayne was a friend. And a good man. He took a bullet for that girl, not many would've done that.” Gordon's eyes glittered; there was a fierce note in his voice that was something like pleading. “Find him. Find his killer.”
Handing the file folder back, Robin swallowed carefully, willing his voice to be normal, forcibly removing every emotion but determination. “Wayne has done good things for this city,” he said, Bruce's last name feeling strange in his mouth. “We won't stop until those responsible are brought to justice, Commissioner, I can promise you that.”
Gordon sighed, tucking the file folder back under his arm. “I know you won't, son.” He ducked his head to dig through his pockets for his pipe, tobacco, and matches; Robin took this opportunity to drift surreptitiously out of Jim's peripheral vision and towards the edge of the roof. “Well, it's good to see you again,” Jim said, sticking the pipe into his mouth and talking around the stem while he fished a match out of the box. “You gonna stick around for a while?”
Robin paused at the edge of the roof. He didn't have an answer for that, so he tipped backwards and fell, shoving off with his toes and wrapping his cape around him to keep it from fluttering and making noise. His blood sang to the familiar sensation of free-fall, and he pulled a grappler from his belt, aiming it at the cornice of a neighboring building. Before he could fire it, however, he felt himself change direction, felt the stiff leather and kevlar of Batman's gauntlets wrapped around him. Half a second later Clark gently lowered him to a rooftop. Robin looked around; they were several blocks away from police headquarters. He blinked. “Well, that's one way to do it,” he said, and put his grappler away.
Clark touched lightly down next to him, his soft smile looking strange and out of place framed by Batman's cowl. “Commissioner Gordon's chuckling. I think he missed you.”
Robin looked out over the lights of the city. “I assume you were—”
“Listening in? Yeah, I'm up to speed.”
“Someone definitely set this up; for what reason, it's unclear. Finding out who will be tough. Whoever it is made very sure we can't use the gun or the tux to track him down.”
“Or her,” Clark pointed out.
Robin waved a hand, brushing the comment aside. Gender pronouns were irrelevant at this point; his mind was already forging on ahead. “...Murray's how we do it. He's our lead.”
Clark considered this. “Murray's been living on the streets for years. The homeless community is pretty tightly knit; maybe somebody saw something.”
Robin nodded sharply. “I know exactly where to start.”
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