"Oracle, we've got a problem." Nightwing sighed as he watched Tim Drake strip down to his Rocky & Bullwinkle glow-in-the-dark boxing shorts. "Get me Batman."
"He's in Metropolis at a JLA meeting. What is it?" Came the concerned voice on the other end. "Is Robin hurt?"
Nightwing watched as Tim gathered up his discarded uniform and walked to the edge of the Warehouse he and Robin had traced the Joker to. "Not exactly no. He's sort of, um..."
"Ahhh, ahaha, ahhhh!" Doing a Tarzan yell, Tim threw his costume over the ledge. His gloves and boots went next, followed by his mask. He waved and laughed as one of his boots nailed an innocent bystander in the head. "He shoots he scores!" Hopping onto the ledge, the youngest member of the Bat family initiated a victory dance, alternating between the macarana and funky chicken. "I'm the man. Oh yeah, I'm the man! Eat your heart out, Superboy!"
"Dick, what is it? Is that Tim, I'm hearing?"
"Yeah." Nightwing scooped Tim off the ledge as the young man tried to fly, screaming, 'Up, UP AND AWAY!'. "He's um... lost his mind. Right now he thinks he's Superman."
"I wish." Tucking Tim under one arm, he shook his head. "He got sprayed with some sort of chemical during our fight with the Joker."
"Do you have a sample?"
"Sorry beautiful, I was too busy trying to keep Robin out of trouble, but it sort of smells like peach, I---"
"Is that Oracle?" Tim interrupted, scrambling up Nightwing's side so he was perched on his shoulders. "I wanna talk to her!" He pouted as Dick thwarted his efforts to remove his earpiece. "How come I can't talk?"
"Because I'm scared you're going to try throwing it off the roof like you did yours. Robin," he said sternly as the boy's face scrunched up, "No."
"Please?" Robin craned his neck so he was nose to nose with Nightwing. "Pretty please?"
His best, 'don't give me no sass' expression in place, Nightwing glared into the Boy Wonder's quickly misting eyes. "I said no." Robin sniffed and Nightwing felt his resolve start to slip. Damn, how come the kid could always do this to him? "Absolutely not. Stop looking at me like that. I mean it. This is serious. I'm talking to Babs—"
"Babs?" Tim's eyes lost their mist, taking on a mischievous glint Nightwing didn't appreciate. Throwing back his head, the Boy Wonder began a rather warped rendition of 'When a Man Loves a Woman.' "When a bat loves a batchick... he can do no wrong... trying to hold on to what he really needs..." Tim cupped his hands in a gesture that indicated he knew exactly what it was Dick wanted to hold onto.
Nightwing growled and dropped the Boy Wonder unceremoniously on his butt. "Babs, I'm dumping Brat Boy with you. I've gotta find this chemical." He glared at Robin who was now making kissing noises and googley eyes. "Before I have to explain to Batman how his partner ended up bound, gagged and hanging by his thumbs."
"It's that bad, huh?"
Tim began singing 'Sexual' with all the gusto of the three tenors. "Worse. See you in ten." Signing off he scooped Robin into his arms. "Come on twerp, let's go see Babs."
"Dick and Barbara sitting in a tree... kissing... and hugging..."
"...and touching... and playing... and..."
"Shut up, or I'm going to change your name to the Karokee Kid." Nightwing warned as he released Tim into Oracle's living room. He prayed Babs had a lead for him. His normally indulgent mood for his surrogate little brother was wearing thin. Tim hadn't stopped singing since the roof. After being asked to quit (or at least pick a different song), he'd smirked and continued with the rhyme, this time adding actions. Frankly, Dick wasn't amused. "Tim, I'm going to talk to Babs. Behave yourself."
"Uh huh." Robin said disinterestedly, wondering aimlessly around the room. "Can I watch TV?"
"Yes!" Dick said in relief. Anything so long as the kid didn't sing. He hit the power button and turned it to YTV. "Watch Scooby-do, okay Short-Round? I'll be right back." Not waiting for a response he fled to the sanctity of Barbara and her office. He plopped himself in an empty chair. "Thank god."
Oracle peeked around the corner, her brow cocked in amusement. "What happened to his uniform?"
"Threw it off the warehouse roof. Guess he didn't like it anymore."
"Hmmm." Oracle wheeled herself over to a small fridge in the corner of her office. She reached inside and tossed Dick a coke. "Here, you look like you could use it."
He caught it in one hand. "Thanks beautiful." He spun lazily in his chair, enjoying the blissful absence of Robin's vocal talents. "It's shaping up to be an interesting night. Whatcha got for me?"
"Well, my radio band reported a robbery in Gotham Square. Seems some very elite perfume shops were robbed. Out of all the stores, only a certain line was taken. A brand called Yvi. It's a new, very exclusive brand."
Nightwing downed his coke and belched. "So?" he demanded, ignoring Oracle's disgusted glare. "What's that got to do with the Joker?"
"The manager of one of the stores was present for the robbery."
With the click of a few buttons, the picture of an elderly gentleman wearing a maniacal smile filled the screen. "Oh."
"Oh, is right. There is something interesting about the perfume. The name Yvi, is Ivy, spelt backwards."
"Oh man." Nightwing didn't like what he was hearing. Anyone but her. "Don't tell me our little green thumb is back in town."
"Afraid so, pal." Oracle removed her glasses. She wiped the lenses using the hem of her blouse. "My guess is the secret lies within the perfume. Ivy's famous for using pheromones in her creations. Could be there's an ingredient just perfect," she gestured towards the young occupant in the living room laughing hysterically at the antics of Scooby-doo, "for making little boys lose all their inhibitions."
"But if that were the case, we would have had reports of odd behavior following its use." Dick rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Somehow, I don't think Ivy is behind this. The Joker was looting the shops. If they're working together, he wouldn't need to steal her perfume, she'd be supplying him with it." He sighed. "I need to get my hands on a sample."
"I'm running a trace on the manufacturer. With any luck, we'll find what we're looking for." Oracle started tapping keys and adjusting dials. "Shouldn't take me too long. Probably another ten minutes." She smiled invitingly at Nightwing, "plenty of time for—"
"Shh?" Dick cocked his head to the side. "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what? Dick, I don't hear anything."
"Exactly." He scrambled out of his chair. "It's too quiet! Shoot, what's Tim done now?"
"Cool." Tim pushed open the door to Barbara's bedroom. He stared around the unkept room, trying hard not to wrinkle his nose. Babs was a real slob. Dirty clothes were piled on the floor, chip bags and empty coke bottles cluttered her night table while her bed looked as if the sheets hadn't been changed in a year or so. "Alfie would so throw a fit. How come I can't keep my room this way?"
He wandered about the room, unimpressed. Alfred would never allow this at the manor, he reflected, depositing a molding orange in the unused trashcan beside the dresser. Not much interesting here. He was almost to the door when he spotted it--a CD holder.
"Jackpot!" Barbara had thirty or more CDs. All recent, all very cool. Choosing one, he raced back to the living room. The giant, surround-sound stereo had not gone unnoticed. Placing the CD on the turntable he pressed play and cranked the volume. Snatching a half-empty coke bottle from a top the TV, he somersaulted onto Bab's new coffee table, leaving a trail of coke over the white carpet. Using the bottle as a mike, he began belting out the lyrics of "I'm too sexy."
"Tim what ever you're doing stop! Now!" Nightwing skidded to a halt just in time to avoid being hit by a flying magazine. Tim laughed as he pranced up and down the table, throwing Vogue and Glamour magainzes around the room like Frisbees. "I'm too sexy for my car, too sexy by far, which is fine cuz my car is totally totaled! And I'm too sexy for my hat but I don't wear one so I'm too sexy for my cat but I don't got that either so..."
"Robin!" Nightwing screamed as Chatelaine took out Oracle's flower vase, "stop throwing stuff and get off the damned coffee table!"
"You swore!" Tim chided, back-flipping onto the floor. The last of the coke flew from his bottle, catching Dick in the face. "Babs' CDs rock!"
Nightwing wiped the coke off his face and counted to ten, reminding himself for the umpteenth time that Robin wasn't in his right frame of mind. Throttling a demented Boy Wonder would only earn him a lecture from Bruce and a good tsking from Alfred. It just wasn't worth the two seconds of satisfaction. "Tim," he said tightly, "I'm going after the Joker. Babs found me some leads I'm going to check out. I want you to stay with her." He held up a warning finger as Tim opened his mouth to protest. "I mean it Short Round. Stay put."
Dick rolled his eyes. "Because."
"Because why?" Tim demanded, face set in angelic wonderment.
"Because I said so."
"Why?" He pouted, blue eyes becoming stormy. "Batman takes me."
"Batman's not here."
"Why?" Tim started kickboxing the wall. "Why isn't he here? He's my partner, not you! You're just a grump who yells a lot!"
"Stop that, you'll break the wall." Ignoring Robin's 'so?' he tried to explain. "He's at a meeting with Superman. It's important."
"More important than me?"
Dick knew a loaded question when he heard one. How to answer? No, he shouldn't answer. What he needed was a diversion—something to distract Robin. Slapping in a discarded CD, he hit play and prayed he knew the song. A female voice shouted, "Sucks to be you!"
Nightwing groaned. Yeah, that figured. "I'm a bastard it's true."
Tim stopped punching the wall. He turned slowly. "Huh?"
"Sucks to be you." The stereo crooned.
Dick took a deep breath. Damn, for how degrading this song was, this had better work. "I'm a bastard it's true." He waved a hand at Tim. "Take it away, buddy."
Tim hesitated then said, "Sucks to be you!"
Dick nodded. "I'm a bastard it's true."
Tim giggled and hollered "Sucks to be you!"
"I know, I know!"
"Sucks to be you!"
"I know it's true!"
"Sucks to be you!" Tim was rolling on the floor. Tears streamed down his face. "Sucks to be you! It majorly sucks to be you!"
"Thanks." Dick said wryly. Okay, crisis averted. He had to get out of here and find the Joker. The quicker he could get Robin back to normal the better. Preferably before Batman got back from Metropolis. "Listen kiddo, can you keep Babs company for me?"
Tim stopped laughing. His mouth trembled slightly. "How'm I going to do that? You're the one she wants to see. Whenever I call she doesn't ask how I am, she asks about you. Dick, I really don't think she likes me--at all."
The kid would pick now to get sappy. "Babs likes you! She just um, suffers from PMS a lot." He ignored the indignant squawk from the other room. "And I'm worried she'll go completely bonkers." A pen sailed by his head, imbedding itself in the wall. "Well, not completely bonkers, just a little off-kilter."
"Aw man." Tim moaned, "sucks to be me."
"Please buddy? Do this for me? I don't want anything bad to happen to her. She means a lot to me." Robin pouted but there was no mistaking the resigned slump of his shoulders. Dick had him. "It'll take a lot of courage—believe me. You'll have to boldly go where no Robin has gone before."
"I'm not supposed to sleep with her, am I?" Nightwing's jaw dropped. Oracle snickered. Tim just looked solemn. "It would be illegal. I'm not sixteen for another four months. Besides, I think she'd rather have sex with you. She likes you, ya know. A lot! But if you want me to..."
"No." he said quickly. "No, don't do that. Just keep her company. Why don't you sing for her? I bet she'd like that." Forgive me that lie, he thought as Tim nodded dutifully.
"Okay Dick. I'll stay, but come back soon, okay? I wanna sing 'Sucks to be You' again. We sounded great together."
"Right." Saluting, to a scowling Oracle, he dashed from the apartment before Tim could break into song.
Later... At Gotham Tech Lab 4
"Okay Babs, I'm inside and you'll never guess who's here too."
"Our favorite Smiley face, no doubt."
"You are a genius." Nightwing scanned the floor from his perch on the ceiling. "Ivy's used a weak shot of pritragonal in her line. Nothing serious-just enough to make the wearer feel really good." He watched as the Joker fiddled with a row of test tubes. "Looks like the Joker's synthesizing the chemical." His eyes grew wide as two of the Joker's henchmen rolled in a really large aeresol can. "Oh man, he's gonna spray the city with this stuff. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed."
"Tell me about it!" Oracle hollered over Tim's rendition of 'Stand By Me.' "Nightwing, get me a sample! I want Robin fixed before he destroys my apartment! Thank you so much for making me baby-sit. I hope Batman likes green, because as of ten minutes ago, that's the new hair color of our esteemed Boy Wonder. Damnit, that was Dinah's hair dye! BLONDE hair dye. Do you realize how much that costs?" Something exploded. Oracle growled. "Well, it looks like I just got a new window. Make that four. How nice to be able to overlook Gotham from my bathroom. Hold on a sec—ROBIN! Get out of my cosmetic bag and put Dinah's grenade launcher away. NOW!" Nightwing cringed at the deadly tone of Oracle's voice focused on him. "You OWE me Nightwing. This is a hassle I don't need."
"I know beautiful. You don't deserve this. I'll make it up to you, I promise. Tim will make it up to you too." A snarl had him taking an unconscious step back, nearly tumbling him off the rafter upon which he was perched. "Or maybe I'll just pay you back. We can leave the squirt out of it."
"I'm just a lonely boy... lonely and blue... Babs is pissed off... so I got nothing to do..."
"Get off the line Robin!" Oracle screeched. "Get me that sample Dick or I'm gonna send Robin to help you out."
Nightwing eyed the Joker dangerously. The clown king was gonna pay for ruining his evening. "I'm going in, Babs. Wish me luck." Tim abruptly started humming 'Mission Impossible.' Ignoring the barb, he readied a batarang and jumped.
The fight lasted only thirty seconds-much to Nightwing's disappointment. The Joker lay on the floor of the labs with a dazed smile upon his face. His henchmen lay around the room, moaning and cowering in fear. Dick shook his head. Bad guys just weren't as durable these days. He glanced at his watch, Commissioner Gordon would be here soon, time to split. Snatching a bottle of Yvi from an intact crate, he sent out a grappling line, exiting through the skylight.
Switching his earpiece back on, he winced as a string of profanity flew over the line. "Babs? I got the sample beautiful and I'm on my way back. Babs?" Nightwing winced as Oracle screamed 'don't touch that!' into the earpiece. "Uh Babs?" He tapped his ear piece. Nothing but static. "Hello?" He sighed. "Timbo, what did you do?"
Tim triumphantly held up the wire he'd ripped out of Oracle's computer. There! He'd get her attention now.
For the past hour he'd been trying to keep Oracle company and for the past hour she'd been ignoring him. Tim didn't care what Dick said, Oracle didn't like him. But a promise was a promise and he always kept his promises.
It had been hard, sure. She'd ignored every nice thing he'd done for her. The hot fudge peanut butter sandwich he'd made for her was sitting in a gooey heap in her garbage can. The baby Batman's he'd so meticulously inscribed upon her walls had gone unappreciated, and the mashed potato statue of Nightwing was minus a head.
And to make matters worse, she wouldn't listen to him sing. In fact, she'd told him to shut up, which wasn't fair, because Dick had specifically told him to sing. He'd tried everything from Spice Girls to Nine Inch Nails--with limited success. For having so many CDs, she sure didn't appreciate music.
He grinned happily as she slowly spun from her terminal. Mistaking the murderous glint in her eyes as amusement he picked up his coke mic. "Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know? That something wasn't right?"
"Here's an indicator." Oracle said and punched Tim in the face.
The youngster fell against the wall. He held his swelling eye in indignation. "Hey, I wasn't at that line yet!"
"Too bad." Oracle rummaged in her drawer. Grinning devilishly she returned to the still stunned Boy Wonder wielding a roll of heavy-duty, all-purpose duct tape. "Hold still."
Tim didn't have time to scream.
Nightwing gunned his motorcycle, taking the corner going sixty. He had the terrible feeling Tim was dead. The silence over the com-link was a sign of impending doom, of the end of times. Bruce was gonna kill him. He was supposed be watching out for his junior partner, not allowing him to be hacked into pieces by an irate batgirl. Oh god, how was he gonna explain this to Alfred? Sorry man, Timbo's chopped liver, wanna stick him on the menu? Yeah, that'd go over real well.
The bottle of Yvi rattled in his pocket. The clock tower rose into view. He prayed he wasn't too late. He jumped, nearly driving into a lamppost as Oracle's voice broke through the static.
"Oracle here. Sorry for the inconvenience. I was experiencing technical difficulties."
"I got your sample." He noted the lack of one teenage tenor. "It's awfully quiet there. Did Short-Round play himself out?"
There was silence on the other end. Nightwing tapped his earpeice. "Hello, Babs, you there?"
"What's up with Tim?"
"He went head over heels for Brittany Spears."
Nightwing groaned. "He didn't trying hacking the Entertainment website for tickets again did he?"
Nightwing could hear the satisfied smirk over the line. A sense of dread filled him. "Barbara, what did you do to Tim?"
"Let's just say he sang 'hit me baby' one too many times." Oracle eyed the squirming form duct taped to her wall. "He's in a state of force induced laryngitis."
"Oh god, you hit him? Babs, Bruce is gonna flip! Tim's the baby of the family; he gets royally pissed when the kid gets a scratch. Remember that thug who split Tim's lip, last week? Bruce put his foot so far up the guy's ass the doc says he won't be walking for a month! Oh my god, you hit the baby. Babs, I hope your insurance policy is up."
"Relax, Boy Wonder, it'll be fine. I'll tape a bag of ice to Robin's eye. It'll be good as new."
"His eye? You gave him a shiner?"
"Damn straight I did. Duct taped his mouth too. Robin has sung his last."
"Oh my god."
"Just get here. I'll see about finding a cure for our little motor mouth."
An hour later, Dick slung a bawling Tim over his shoulder and headed to Wayne Manor. Personally, Dick couldn't blame him. His head sported a bald spot where the tape had ripped out his hair. The rest of his body was bright red from the adhesive Oracle had used to stick him to the wall. Dick rubbed Tim's back soothingly. Everyone had learned an important lesson tonight--Skin and duct tape don't mix. Even Barbara had felt bad, offering Tim a proper dye job once his hair grew back.
The dye job could be a long time coming, if Tim's reaction were any indication. The Boy Wonder had sprinted out of the apartment, screaming like a banshee. Nightwing had chased him for two blocks before catching the hysterical youngster.
At least Tim would be himself by morning. Oracle had discovered the effects of Yvi were only temporary-thank god. He'd re-dye Tim's hair and put the kid the bed. Batman would be none of the wiser. Now, how to get by Alfred...
"She hates me!" Tim wailed piteously, burying his face in Nightwing's shoulder. "Every nice thing I did she hated! I worked really hard on those Batmans! And she bit the head off your statue! She did it right in front of me! What kind of a person eats other people's heads?" He curled into a tight ball. "She ate your head!"
"I know she did, buddy," Nightwing lifted the ice pack covering Tim's swelling eye and wondered how he was going to explain that one to Batman. "And trying to throw you through those nice windows you made, wasn't called for either."
"Yeah." Tim blubbered, wiping his nose on Nightwing's sleeve. "I thought she'd like to have a room with a view. She could contemplate life while still watching her monitors. You know how she's always philosophical and thinking about something! Besides, how was I supposed to know the grenade would go through all the walls?"
Nightwing tried to clamp down the snicker trying to escape. He was only partially successful.
"You're making fun of me." Tim whined as Dick roared helplessly, tears streaming down his face. "That was child abuse, you know. I'm gonna tell Batman on her."
"No!" Nightwing shouted, "let's keep this our secret okay, Short-Round?"
"Because if Batman found out how mean Babs was to you, he won't let you spend time with me because I always go to see Babs."
Tim cocked an eye skeptically. "I don't think he'd do that."
"You don't know him like I do. He can be very unreasonable." Dick slowed as he entered Gotham Heights. "You like spending time with me, don't you?"
Tim nodded sleepily. "Uh huh."
"Right. So let's keep this between us. Okay?" Tim yawned in reply. "Hey kiddo, how are you feeling?"
Tim rubbed his good eye. "Sleepy." He snuggled against Dick. "And cold. Can you sing me a lullaby?"
"Um sure." Dick thought for a moment then sang quietly. "You and me, and me and you. No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be, the only one for me is you and you for me, so happy together."
Tim pillowed his head against Dick's chest. "I like that song." he murmured. By the second verse he was fast asleep.
Dick ruffled Tim's hair affectionately. "Thus ends the career of the Karaoke kid." He slowed his bike and quietly pulled into Wayne Manor. Gathering Tim into his arms he slipped into a side entrance. With any luck, Alfred was in the cave waiting for Bruce. If he were really lucky, Bruce wouldn't be home yet, giving him plenty of time to high tail it to Bludhaven.
No one met them in the parlor, and the second floor was deserted. Thanking god for small favors, he put Tim to bed. Forget the hair. Short Round could explain that one. Creeping downstairs, he helped himself to the plate of cookies Alfred had left for Tim in the kitchen. He was almost out when a disgruntled, "Dick." rumbled behind him.
Mouth full of cookie he turned. "Hi Bruce."
Bruce Wayne stood framed in the doorway, frowning. He held up a computer print-off. "I just received this from Oracle. It's a list of damages she says you're responsible for?" Nightwing edged towards the door. "Don't try to run. This room is locked down." Nightwing jiggled the lock and cursed. "Stop swearing." Bruce didn't look up from his reading. "Broken walls, damaged carpet, new windows? Care to explain?"
"Master Dick, I have a bone to pick with you!" Alfred stormed into the kitchen, face alit with rage. "Whatever have you done to Master Timothy's hair?"
Bruce's brow knit together. "What's wrong with his hair?"
"It's green, sir! Bright green! And his eye, why it's practically swollen shut! There's something else too, I cannot seem to find Master Timothy's Robin costume."
"He threw it off a building." Dick quipped then kicked himself. Idiot! They didn't need to know Robin had been running around Gotham in his Bullwinkle boxers! "I mean—uh—"
"It's November!" Alfred exploded, his calm English manner all but forgotten. "Master Timothy is only a child and is quite partial to colds. Running barefoot through out Gotham city will most certainly give him a chill! Master Richard, whatever were you thinking?"
"Hey," Dick interjected, trying to change the subject. "I got the Joker back in Arkham."
"And managed to nearly kill Robin and destroy Oracle's apartment in the process." Dick wished Bruce and Alfred were as easy to distract as Tim as Oracle's print-out was shoved under his nose. "See those numbers? There are a whole lot of zeros there. I'm taking this out of your allowance."
"What? Her apartment isn't my fault! Robin's the one who---""Tim was your responsibility!" Bruce roared, slamming his fist on the table. "You were in charge of him!" Nightwing almost laughed. There was poetic justice for you. Tim puts a grenade through the wall and he was the one getting yelled at. It didn't pay to be the big brother. "Dick, what the hell happened tonight? I leave you in charge for one night and chaos ensues!" Bruce crossed his arms and tapped his foot impatiently. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"In the words of the Karaoke Kid," he said dramatically, "sucks to be me."
Back To The DC Page