Steph: Spoiler Alert: I didn’t finish my homework.

Getting down from the rooftop wasn’t actually all that hard. It could have been easier if people around here were more than passingly concerned with building codes and someone had bothered to replace the fire escape that should have emptied into the alleyway. There was one, at one point, because once I finished watching Batman doing his thing (..i.e. made myself stop watching because don’t be a creeper, Stephanie…) I had found the remnants of it. Must have been the victim of some disaster or other in the neighborhood, though who knows when. I think Big Red might be using part of it down there for some kind of prop, and…yeeeeugh.

Instead of the easy way down, I’ve got to find another one. There’s some death defying stunts involved, like jumping to the adjacent building during which I overcompensate for my book bag and almost fall on my face but hey. Better than shorting it and landing on top of Big Red and ‘her’ new friend. By the time I get down, the parts that once were my phone are long gone, I’ve definitely, definitely missed the bus and resign myself to the walk to the apartment that Mom and I stay in. Don’t worry. The longer trip was plenty of time for me to rehash like. All of my interactions with ‘Batman,’ except for the one that happened on my 8th Birthday. So, basically all the ones where it was me possibly making a jackass out of myself. Especially with my little side trip on the way.

Ugh. That conversation about who Timothy Wayne would or wouldn’t date. How awkward was that? I mean, not at the time. I just thought it was kind of weird/funny that I was having a conversation with Batman that wasn’t about beating people up or hunting people down. Gotta give the guy kudos though, because even with the weird things I’d noticed? I’d never thought it was Red Robin under there. And as soon as I’d seen and heard what Timothy Wayne looked like? I’d put those two together. They all maybe should emulate the batcowl a little more. Or at the very least, the growly voice generator. It had actually been the voice that gave it away for me on the other ‘secret identity.’

I’m more or less berating myself out loud by the time I’ve gotten up the building’s flights of fire escape stairs. Ours has one. That’s how you know we moved up in the world. Which turns into my head being a little too turned on to really focus on what I’m doing. I eat. I drink a whole lot of not so great coffee. I manage to do at least a draft of my paper for history class and by then it’s getting dark. Or more importantly by then my mother’s left for her shift at work and won’t be here to see me sneak back out. The trip to my suit? Is made with a bigger dose of paranoia this time, just in case the friendly neighborhood Batman decides to repeat his earlier trick.

I’ve gotten faster at suiting up. The cold is a pretty good motivator to get my ass inside of the insulated, always just right temperature armor. Seriously. If I could get away with wearing this all day I totally would. There’s a little extra giddyup in my step as I mosey in through the hidden garbage chute entrance in the alleyway. Digging into one of my millions of utility pouches (…seriously, this is like….the clown car of storage pockets…) and thrust out a folded up piece of paper like it’s a trophy.

“Drury’s still a stupid name. Bee-tee-dubs. But I know where he is!”

Wait. This paper is college ruled…damn it, that’s my graded math homework. I grabbed the wrong sheet at my house.

Tim: Recently Dinah Lance told me that the ‘Bat Cave’ wasn’t the cave under the Manor. It’s the base where Batman operates out of. Which was her way of telling me that for however long I’m wearing this suit? The Robin’s Nest is actually the Bat Cave and I need to start thinking about it like that. A recent discussion with Richard, left me with the certain information that I should maybe embrace what Dinah said. Because apparently the Bat Cave had been, in some way, broken in too. Violated. The Nest, because of my desire to be separate but equal, was not part of that same network. Making it secure, for now. Though it was never meant to be the Cave. The ‘Base’ for those of us who want to work in the city. It lacks the armament -and- the security of the Cave.

It makes up for those things in being spacious. Build originally to be a storage depot. It is centrally located in Gotham City. Built over the top of a small monorail system that was originally created for the underground railroad, then updated during the time of prohibition. Only to be updated again more recently, to allow for expedient travel between various points across Gotham. Between the ability to travel across the city quickly and the access to a storehouse of gear? It was perfect for me to build in to a base away from the cave. Then to turn that in to a hide-away training center, that Dinah now uses more than I do.

When Spoiler finally arrives she’ll find me on the second tier. Above the area where she spends most evenings being beaten like a drum. Arms crossed, I’m gazing intently at one of the multiple large view panels. They’re not truly monitors, but more carbon-fiber plastic, that works as receptacles for holographic displays. The effect is that there is a bevy of screens in all directions, but they take up little to no space. Projectors in the floor cast visual data up, in to the films, which then cast the holographic displays all around the ‘Batman.’

My super power? Nerdery.

“Good. We likely need something to do tonight. Dinah is on an assignment. She needed to work off some steam,” if Stephanie looks closely, she’ll see that I’m watching Canary in the midst of sparring with Nightwing. Playing the video repeatedly, at the point where Dinah loses consciousness. “Rather. I needed her to work off some irritations in a way that didn’t involve breaking bones that belong to you.”

“When she is not beating you or Roy to a pulp, she’s been keeping tabs on the Red Hood and Joker. The two of them are, surprisingly, doing more to keep the criminal element of this City in line than I’m even remotely capable of.” A gesture of my hand to another screen, displays other monitors. Several of which are the drones that were dispatched to keep an eye on Wally West’s family. While another displays an attack on the Metropolis Museum of Science and History. “Did you ask PennyOne for help or did you score that A on your own?”

Steph: I haven’t exactly done a lot of wandering around in here before now. I’m never in here alone and unsupervised for one thing, but the other is that either I show up and there’s some investigative ass-kicking to do that leads to leaving the ‘cave,’ or I’m immediately put to work on that demonic training dummy of Dinah’s. Or against Dinah herself. Bottom line, I’m always busy when I’m here. There’s no monitors up here that he’s working on, not regular ones at least, but the reality is way cooler. I crane my head back and forth at the side of one of them, seeing how thin the film is and how crisp the display is just the same. No wonder he always knows what’s going on, these can’t be security camera feeds, or traffic ones. Way too clear and sharp. Also not the right kind of angle What are they coming from?


Is he really watching Dinah get knocked out over, and over? Is that NIghtwing she’s fighting? He’s not even touching her when she goes down. I’m a little wide eyed, because I know how events go if I actually manage to hit her, even if she let me. There’s an immediate lesson in reversals and punishing your opponent for taking an opening. She just drops like a convulsing sack of… I don’t know what. I’m pretty sure no one’s ever compared Black Canary to a sack of anything. My brain won’t even compute other than to whistle between my teeth.

“…somebody’s in troooooouble… and. That one looks kind… serious…also can you write me a sick note to get out of Canary Class for the next. Oh. Forever?”

Pointing at the semi-imploded museum, is that Metropolis? Why does he even have that one? As far as I can tell the rest are in Gotham, which makes sense for the Bat to be aware of. There’s others that might be somewhere else. Looks too nice to be Gotham, but I haven’t a clue where they are. What I do know is he’s probably right about her needing to not be here. She hasn’t broken any of my bones yet but there’s been a few times that I thought she might have. I bet she’s pissssssssed, and it’s bad enough being her punching bag when she’s in a good mood.

“Yes, I take my costume home in the morning and wear it while I’m doing my Pre-Calc.”

Oh, the sarcasm. How I love it. It lasts about as long as needed for me to finish stuffing my math homework back into the pocket it came from, which takes a lot more effort than it probably should have. Ultimately, I just cram the thing in and tug the flap down without actually checking to see if I have the paper I meant to bring along as well.

“I get all my own grades, thankyouverymuch. There’s only one small problem… I mean. It might not be a problem for Batman, I dunno. He’s at the precinct near my school. Want to guess what they picked him up for this afternoon?”

Tim: Yes. He is in fact watching Dinah be knocked out, over and over. What isn’t quite clear is why, at least not at first. To the naked eye I’m merely watching Black Canary being humiliated. To someone that might be able to see the angles though? I’m taking in so many other things. Watching the entire thing play out. Listening to what is said, seeing how Dinah reacts. Her impressions, Dick’s fishing expedition. The action is almost superfluous to what I’m actually witnessing.

“Hrm. Yes, he’s in trouble but I’m not entirely sure that Canary is the one he has to worry about,” pointing to the ‘action’ as it replays again. “Escrima Sticks. He’s using them and she doesn’t even question it, because they both understand that she is the superior hand-to-hand combatant. They’re an equalizer. Using them as a weapon was fine, because Canary wanted a challenge. His use of them as technology though, was more or less cheating. He’s opened a door that he might not be able to close, but the problem is… Canary hasn’t stopped yet to ask why did he do that?”

“Right now? I think she believes he did it to get one over on her, but that’s the emotion thinking. He said it was time for him to train her in something. Then he cheated. He wanted Canary to start thinking this way. He wants her thinking that someone is going to cheat, not play by our normal rules. One she realizes what Nightwing was trying to ‘train’ her, I fear that everyone is going to need that sick note.”

Metropolis, Gotham, the Twin Cities of Central and Star. The Batman was always aware of the goings on in the world, because you never knew what might play in to something that would work it’s way down to Gotham. Despite how I’m dressed, I’m not the Batman. I wasn’t supposed to be the Batman. I’ve had my focus on the world beyond Gotham since I was fourteen. Then Bruce sent me away, out in to the world to ‘make nice’ with people of extraordinary abilities. As Batman, right now, I’m not nearly as focused on Gotham as I should. How can I be, when the things on these monitors is so important to the Country or even the World?

A shake of the head has me re-focusing. Bringing myself out of those thoughts and back to the here and now. The weight of it all presses on me. As does the certain knowledge that I should be there. Helping Cassie, Wally and Freddy, but I can’t be because I’ve got to help my actual Family, here in Gotham. Ugh. Tripping on my cape, thwacking my head with the Batmobile. Those are things that should tell me this ‘Job’ isn’t right for me, but they don’t. Because someone has to be Batman. What tells me that I’m doing the wrong thing right now? Is that I’m standing here doing nothing, while the people I’m counting on to save the world? Need my help.

“You realize that it’s less humorous when there’s a high statistical probability that you’re actually telling the truth and cheating? It has taken you a month to read a single instruction manual, but you scored good on a Math Test?” The imperious tone is matched by a down the nose look, which only breaks slightly as I cluck my tongue and another little motion of pointing to a specific windowed monitor screen. “Relax, I’m teasing you. I know you don’t cheat. I’ve been watching you too.”

“Guessing is what people do when they don’t have access to the GCPD databases, due to a working relationship with the Commissioner. So you can either tell me or I can find the answer.” Taking a small breathe, with a long, loud exhale. Centering myself and releasing the tension that was about to consume me. “I didn’t mean to be so short, sorry. There is a lot going on and I’m feeling the weight of the Cowl a little more acutely than normal.”

STeph: So, I understand what he’s telling me. It’s English, after all, which isn’t my best subject but still. Parts of it are connecting dots, like why Dinah went down convulsing even though I couldn’t see Nightwing tasering her or anything. Built into the sticks. Note to Steph: Don’t handle the man’s stick. Ahem. I’m also pretty sure she’d roundhouse kick him, Batman or not, if she caught him watching this over, and over and … that’s probably why it’s happening now and not when she could potentially walk in on him like some naughty boy doing something he shouldn’t be. While Mom’s away…. I can’t say if he’s right about what Canary thinks or not, because for someone who’s so seemingly open, she doesn’t actually give away a whole lot. And I don’t see her discussing this particular event with me.

I just see me getting my ass beat even harder, since someone thought she wasn’t prepped for someone cheating.

“Uh, yeah. Maybe send her on some kind of relaxation retreat for a week or… I dunno. That looks like therapy going on right there.”

Jabbing a finger at the screen that shows what I assume is current Canary, and I wince over what’s about to happen to her opponent right before it does happen, because I saw this move the other day. Only this time I’m seeing a demonstration of what happens when she’s not playing nice with the scrub she’s trying to teach how to not die.

“…you guys have issues up in here. Just saying.”

And I know about issues. An assessment I’d probably redouble if I knew his inner monologue right now, but I’m instead left with just my own and picking up on the tension which has zero to do with me. I guess it could just be general Batman tension. He’s kind of an intense figure. Even when whacking his head on the Batmobile. Right now I can only guess how many things are going through his head, and I’m pretty sure most of them are probably more important than what my Dad’s up to, even if it is big for him. I mean. Look at the Metropolis museum right now… which I’m doing while I harumph at him for the tease.

“Maybe next time you should write your manuals with people who don’t have triple degrees in… engineering and mechanics and who knows what else in mind. Run it through a focus group first. I’m a doer. Not a reader. Also that’s creepy.”

And I kind of figured otherwise the timing was a little too coincidental earlier. And a little too during the day. Now he’s taking all the fun out of my discovery, which earns a sigh out of me, and that may have also been an eyeroll. Though. Really. I was just looking at that other screen. Way over there. I hear him doing it, too. The sighing. I mean, there may have been an eyeroll too but I wasn’t looking. There’s just a little less jaggedy energy coming off of him than there was a second ago. I’m actually pretty surprised by the apology. Double surprised since he’s apologizing to me. No. Stephanie. Don’t look around like he might be talking to someone else

“Maybe if you shorten those ears up it’ll help. Anyway.”

Maybe not the time for jokes, but I don’t know what else to do with that right now. He’s got to be under a lot of pressure though, I mean. He didn’t look that old and no I did not facebook stalk Timothy Wayne. I really didn’t. Yet.

Expired license tabs. I’m pretty sure you can get away with most things short of murder in that neighborhood. They actually brought Drury Walker in, in cuffs, for expired stickers. Which seems a bit extreme, but also secondary. I recognize him. He was at my Dad’s place.”

Tim: We have issues up in here? Why hello Mr. Pot, meet Ms. Kettle. Though you’d never know from the impassive look upon my face that I was even thinking such a thing. One mustn’t disagree with that assessment. We do have issues. Plural. Maybe even second, third or fourth editions of those issues to boot. Leaving me to also wonder if there’s any value to this sort of collection, because we’ve likely cornered the market on it. I’m not entirely certain that Stephanie means this as on the nose as she says it, but given her budding reputation?

A relaxation retreat? That one is enough to get a little smirk out of me. If I booked her for something like that, I’d book Stephanie to be the one to tell her. Because I sure as shit am not going to be the guy delivering that news. Not only would it be wasted money, but there’s also a level of insult that is implied to that which Canary would not pass over. She’s hone in on it and eventually make you pay. Dramatically. One way or the other. She’s good at doing things like that, which is why I typically devote a significant amount of forethought to staying off the ‘Piss off Canary’ radar.

“Whoah. Shots fired. You want me to dumb down the user manual? I’m pretty sure there’s a few people who venture in to my lair here, who would say I need to pick a higher quality bearer for the suits.” Giving her a little pointed look, as I’m almost but not quite firing back on her. “When I gave you the new costume, I believed you could handle learning how to use it. I felt the same way about introducing you to Dinah. So far you haven’t let me down. Though you’re working on making my six month plan in to a six year plan.”

The information she offers is curious. It is also curious as to how she came by this information without access to the GCPD records. This young girl is resourceful. I’ve been impressed the entire time, but she never ceases to make it more so. This information does mean that our ‘Mark’ is in custody. Easy to access. Easier to do it without anyone knowing too. Working at my gauntlet for a moment, I start to call up all the information on Mr. Drury that the GCPD does have on him. Where he’s being held. Who he’s being held with.

While the computer works to retrieve that information I spare another glance at the Monitors with Metropolis all pulled up. “We can pay Mr. Drury a visit. Has Canary started teaching you interrogation tactics 101 yet?”

Steph: “Unless there’s a whole lot more people ‘venturing’ in here than I’ve seen..” Yeah, finger quotes. What of it? I’m pretty sure one does not just venture into the Batcave. “… that’s a pretty small potential group. And I’m pretty sure if one of them was Dinah I would have been told straight to my face. Right before she punched me in it.”

I don’t know for sure how many are in this whole Batfam, though. You live in Gotham, you get passingly familiar with the regulars but given that I know now this isn’t the original Batman, and that it’s the former Red Robin wearing it I can’t say for sure how many different times there’s been a hand-me-down situation going on. I just see who’s here when I’m here. Or what I just saw there on that security monitor, played over and over and over…God. I hope they don’t watch my blooper reel like that.

“Six month plan for…what exactly? If you told me that two weeks ago I don’t think I would actually have believed you.”

Because it seemed to be pretty clear at the time that I was given the suit on the off chance that it would keep me from dying in the near immediate future. Tim as Red Robin wasn’t exactly encouraging. Begrudging would be the better one. Like, fine if I have to do this I will but I’m going to be grumpyface about it the whole time. Also I’m going to have my lady friend kick your ass in the hopes that maybe you’ll give up. Then there’s been Tim as Batman who’s actually been…basically the total opposite in pretty much every way. I mean. Pep talks. Actually taking me along on mission stuff. I’m still hedging my bets on which one’s more what he actually thinks about me.

Clearly though, him not believing in me back then or not hadn’t actually stopped me. It wasn’t going to, either, because another handy trait us Narrows kids pick up is self-sufficiency. Especially if your parents are useless. As for how I came by the information about Drury Walker, it’s in this case a whole lot more dumb luck/right place, right time than it was any stroke of great detective chops. Kind of like how I stumbled on this entire thing in the first place. I went to the station to report my phone cause y’know…what did it hurt? And I saw him. Recognized him. I suppose I could take kudos for resourcefulness when it came to the photocopy of the intake papers I’d ‘procured’, but given that I apparently didn’t even bring them? Not going to brag about that.

I also don’t miss where he keeps actually looking.

“Unless she interrogates someone by repeatedly punching them… noooo, I don’t think so. Is. That something you need to go…I dunno. Handle? Not Walker. That. I mean. I can go…” Do what exactly Steph, break into the police lockup? “…search his car solo or something.”

Tim: “Six month plan on you being ready to not even need the suit,” comes the answer without a hint of hesitation. “Stephanie, the costume and the things that come with it? They’re props. Tools. I want you to be able to use them, of course, but when I invited you here? I did so with the intentions of either you washing out or getting good enough to not need better gear in the first place.”

“You seem to not really get it. Why you’re here, I mean. I understand that, too. Not like anyone has been extremely informative with you. That’s part of why we had the discussion we did earlier. You’ve been asked for an awful lot and in return admittedly you’ve gotten a three quarter of a million dollar costume and technology. But other than that all you’ve gotten is verbal and mental abuse. Which you could get from your Father. I’ve been hoping that you understood why, but I suppose I shouldn’t just blindly hope you realize that at first I needed to see if you were serious. Then I needed to know if you could handle doing this. Not to mention there was also some question of whether you were part of an elaborate ruse of your Father’s.”

“The long and the short of it is that -I- was testing you. Not for skill but for other things. Skill can be gained. Heart and Soul can not. I’ve been working on a six month plan to have you ready, but that was before I realized what you’d stumbled on to. Now we’re working off of more like a ‘Oh, shit, let’s go do this’ game-plan.” Finally turning away from the monitor that’s had my attention so much and giving it entirely to her. “Two weeks ago, I didn’t believe you. So I can hardly blame you for what you’re saying.”

The wince comes because I don’t like that she was able to read me. To see that I’m intent upon what is happening in Metropolis. Or rather, what isn’t happening. Wonder Woman, Flash and Semi-Shazam should be out in the streets kicking Isis’ ass. But they’re seemingly AWOL. I don’t like this at all. Once more though, I’m smart enough to recognize that I’m legitimately incapable of assisting them right this second. The person I can help is standing right next to me.

“Canary’s interrogation tactics are scarier than her fighting. One minute she’s seducing you. The next minute she’s crushing your soul. And then comes the laughter, to let you know what a sad sack you are.” Reaching over first to key off the monitors, then to take hold carefully of her shoulder in order to turn her towards the Batmobile. “How about as a reward for finding Drury, you drive this time.”

“See? Like this. Soul crushingly terrible laughter.. hahahaa… Like I’d let you drive. You can barely see over the steering wheel, Robin.”

Steph: “Ouch. I mean. Unless it takes me six years to try every single one of the functions twice it shouldn’t be that long…”

And I’m picking it up a lot faster now that I know it’s all built into the onboard computer. If he’d made a youtube tutorial it would be even faster. I’ve always been a lot better at figuring things out every way except by written instructions. Whether that’s a demo I can watch, or some trial and error. The latter is a bit hit and miss when your clothes can taser you. Also. Why the hell would I ever need shark repellent? Now that’s a burning question I haven’t asked, because I’m half convinced it’s some sort of joke.

“Props and tools that all of you guys use, though. Well. Not Canary. And I’m pretty sure if she thought the cold was worth the advantage she’d go like. Withoutcompletely.”

There’s a bit of a strangled sound at the price tag because I don’t think that he’s joking, actually. Or maybe it wasn’t a ‘bit’ and was a completely clear ‘hurrk!’ sound in my throat. It’d almost be enough to make a girl not want to wear the thing anymore, but can’t put a price tag on your life…yadayada… and since he’s got multiple suits of his own, on top of the other ones here in the Cave? I guess he can probably afford it.

“Welp. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t need you to believe me. Aaaaaaand that came out a lot snarkier than I actually meant it to for once. Because don’t get me wrong, it’s great that someone does.”

Someone else’s belief just was an absolute non-factor in whether or not I was going to continue to pursue thwarting my stupid Dad and his stupid plans. I could try and seize on what he said about the verbal and mental abuse, and turn it into some kind of guilt trip but that’s not exactly my style. It would also require talking about all the many and varied reasons why I absolutely hate the man. I guess I can even see why he might have thought I was in on the whole thing from an outside perspective but if he knew me, he’d know there’s just absolutely positively zero way. Like. Less than a snowball’s chance in Hell on an extra hot hellish day. But he didn’t. Know me that is. Knowing all about someone or something on paper doesn’t really help you with the things that matter.

He either doesn’t want to talk about Metropolis, or why he’s so absorbed in it, or it’s not a pressing concern right now. As he turns my by my shoulder, my head kind of swivels on the pivot of my neck as I look at him over my face mask like he’s lost his batbrains. Really? Is he serious right now? I barely got my learner’s permit that long ago, and I don’t think he’s entirely old enough to count as my ‘adult’. But. Who’s gonna question Batman and what he does in his fancy Batmobile, right? Blue eyes narrow at him with a huff.

“…ugh. Not every learning experience has to be traumatic you know. Seriously. Issues. And it’s Spoiler.”

Tim: “Heh. It’s funny, I used to say that too. Even though I did want someone to believe me. Believe -in- me. I can’t tell you how hard it was to keep believing in myself, when no one else believed in me. My birth parents kept telling me to give up my efforts to become a Super Hero. I was eight at the time. Then I wanted Bruce to believe in me, but he kept telling me to give it up too. Eventually, even though I kept saying I didn’t need anyone to believe me.”

We’re not the same type of people though. She’s doing this all for different reasons than I ever had. I was trying to do something with my intellect. If I’d been born fifty years earlier they would have called me a code-breaker. Enlisted me in the military. Treated it like a super power. I can see the patterns. See them in everything. What Bruce had to learn, over the course of his entire teenage years, I had a gift for. Deductive Reasoning. Also known as the Sherlock Holmes syndrome, for those who follow the path in to criminology. But for me? That was a bit to restrictive. I want to see the pattern in everything. The big picture, not some small window frame.

The way I shrug, even as the big bad Batman, is meant to give her an out. “Don’t apologize that time. Everyone is different. I never needed validation, but I desperately needed someone to believe in me. To tell me that I wasn’t crazy.”

“Rule Numero Uno. Batman’s Sidekick? Is Robin. Even if he or she doesn’t like it. You’re just going to get frustrated fighting it. No one is going to accept Spoiler right now, but if you give it time and don’t let on that you’re bothered by it? Eventually you’ll earn everyone else’s respect. Then you’ll be Spoiler.” That same hand upon her shoulder gives an encouraging squeeze. “You may not need anyone to believe you, Steph, but you do need people to buy in to you. Until you’ve earned their respect? You’re just … Batman’s Sidekick. Robin.”

“Not every learning experience has to be traumatic? Wait. Are you serious? Damn. Someone should have told me. I’m going to give my Agent a call. Just as soon as we’re done breaking in to a Police Impound Lot and maybe interrogating a lifer.”

Steph: “I don’t know. I kind of just opened with knowing I was bananas for putting on drama department…and I use that term real loosely… and sporting goods store bargain bin finds and going out my window at night. Gotham is crazy. I’m pretty sure most of the sane weirdos move away first chance they get.”

My perspective is a little different though, I guess. Not only because of why I started doing this, but because of where I started from. I don’t know why that NIghtwing dude, or Canary or even Batman started. Kind of iffy on Arsenal’s motivations, too, other than he and Dinah clearly knew each other already and he’s apparently got a kid (…which actually makes me kind of pissy, but not the current subject…). Timothy Wayne apparently wanted to be a superhero. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than me just wanted to futz with my Dad. Possibly more honorable. Probably more crazy. I grew up watching the other side of the hero curtains from the ‘privacy’ of my own living room. That kind of skews everything from there forward, I think.

“…no, then I’ll probably be Purple Robin. Which isn’t even the right color. Because this is definitely more eggplant…”

That was partly to myself. But partly not. Given that he apparently graduated from ‘Robin’ by tacking a color word onto it, and then up to Batman Level. I can already see it, if I let this go. I’m Spoiler! No, no you’re that Robin guy. I’m not a guy. All the Robins are guys. It’s a thing. Sigh. Not totally sure how I feel about this ‘sidekick’ thing, either. I mean. How long’s that going to last? Until we bust my Dad? I’m not even sure I want to go or not after that but.. guess we’ll see when we get to that door. For now though, I just start moving towards that fancyass car of his. Which he’s not letting me drive.

“Oh, I’m always serious Batman. Dibs on shotgun.”

Like that wasn’t the seat I’m relegated to by not being the driver.

Tim: “Excellent. You’re the Eggplant Robin. Kudos on you for putting your own spin on it.”

Oh, she thinks that just because I’ve let her know who I am, that she is free from the dry sarcasm of the Batman? Not happening. I take what she said, try it on literally and now? Now she gets to wear what she started. Unlike her, people are going to listen to me and apply that. “I know you’re trying to be funny, but I once had this same discussion with Bruce. When he agreed to teach me, he told me the same things. That I could go out there and call myself anything I wanted, but if I was going out there with him? I’d be seen as the next Robin. So he told me to take ownership of it, put a twist on it.”

“I was never ‘Robin,’ so I took the things I liked about those who came before me. Then added my own flavor to it.” She’s moving towards the Batmobile, but before she gets quite there she’ll have to pass by the cases. This isn’t the actual BatCave, so she’s not going to see the numerous ones like under the Manor, because the only suits on display here are ones I’ve built recently or ones in actual use. The various versions of my own personal costume are there though. “The point is. As long as you’re going out there with me, while I’m the Batman? You’re going to be seen as Robin. If you don’t take ownership of it, it’s going to take ownership of you. You’re going to spend so much time railing against it, it’ll become a distraction for you. Instead of being a distraction for them.”

“That’s important, Stephanie. Even if you think I’m just maneuvering you. You have to take stock of this. Canary’s costume, if you can call it that, is all about directing the eyes away from the fact that she’s one of the top ten best fighters in the world. The Bat-suit is all about having the advantage of scaring the hell out of the cowardly criminal lot before I even throw a punch. You’re new. Unproven. They’re going to see you with Batman and either you’re going to own what that makes you or they’re going to tease you. If they’re teasing you, then they’re not respecting or afraid of you. So now you’re the one behind the eight ball, instead of them.”

By the time we’re both to the Batmobile, I’ve said my piece on this topic. It’s here choice ultimately. Freed then to focus on what we’re doing, this time there’s no stumble getting in to the car. No bobble of the elongated horns getting caught in the roof mechanism. I’m still not comfortable being the Batman, but each time I make a mistake I’ve dedicated myself to learning from it. I think that’s my only hope. That and hopefully not making a mistake that I won’t get the chance to learn from.

Next stop? Police impound.


“What did you <i>want</i> to call yourself?”

I may have stuck my tongue out at Batman. What good’s a mask that covers the lower half of your face, if not for disguising things like that? Or. You know. Actually hiding the most identifiable parts of your <i>face</i>. Something I would say these guys all need lessons about but clearly it’s worked for them up until now. And to be fair, I hadn’t noticed that Batman <i>was</i> the same guy. This cowl of his is shaped different. His voice is clearly modulated by something in there. I’m also not going to continue to <i>argue</i> with <i>him</i> about it, because… clearly he’s ready for it. Maybe I won’t really have any conversations with anyone outside of <i>here</i> about it either. Not like I introduce myself to the bad guys. The suits are awesome to look at though, even if they’re not nearly as cool hanging up there as they are when they’re in use.

In the cases, they’re just clothes. Clothes that cost more each than probably the entire gross income of a six block radius around my apartment. And there’s a <i>lot</i> of people in those apartments. I guess it doesn’t matter what anyone else calls me. I’ve been called <i>a lot</i> of things so far in my lifetime and a lot of them weren’t super great. Just so long as they don’t try to make me put on the red and green. I’m not trying to look like a Christmas Elf out here. And hey, both of us are clearly getting better at this whole entering the vehicle thing. I’ve got nothing to razz him about, a little bit to my dismay. I’ll have to settle for my private face making victory.