"Hey, batboy, you okay?"
Robin stared bleary into the smiling face of Superboy. Though he was doing his best to be nonchalant, Robin could see the tight lines of concern etched on his face. "I...think so. Just a little dizzy."
"A little dizzy? Man, I thought we were gonna be peeling you off the pavement. And considering the fact your head, unlike Imp's, isn't empty and you lack my amazing ability of tactile telekinesis, I figured saving your ass was something I better do."
"Thanks." Rob said weakly. He risked a glance down then quickly shut his eyes against a wave of dizzying vertigo. "We're awfully high up."
"Yeah, ain't it cool? Wonder girl's royally pissed that she can't make these heights. At least not with Cissie on her back."
"What happened to the super-cycle?"
"It's being given the mechanical once-over by the JLA, remember? Superman raised that big fuss about child safety, like we need car seats, so now we're minus one very cool mode of transportation. Bummer huh?"
"Yeah." Robin agreed, grateful the Kid hadn't questioned him on why he was asking. Lately, it seemed like he couldn't keep a thought in his head for more than minute. He should have known about the cycle, but right now his head felt as it had been stuffed with Styrofoam. Definitely not a good combination when flying several hundred feet off the ground. "Did the girls leave already?"
"What?" Superboy waved at an amused blonde sitting in a commercial air-liner. "Oh, yeah. They're heading back to Cissie's house. Wondy said something about a sleep-over. Suzie's going too." A wicked twinkle entered Superboy's eye. "I think we should have a panty raid? Whadda say, Rob? Up for some late night fun?"
Robin clutched at his head miserably. He was getting a migraine. Damn, but it was going to be a doozy. "Pass. I think I better take a couple hundred Tylenol and call it a night."
"Oh." Disappointment was evident in Superboy's voice. "You know, I thought I'd never hear myself say this, but, I wish Bart were here. He's always game. When's he getting back from vacation?"
"I don't know. Check the calender like everyone else. You can read, can't you?"
"Ah, Kon, I'm sorry." Robin apologized. "It's just that I've a banger of a headache."
"Yeah." Kon-el's voice took on a solemn tone. "Problems at home? Or is it Batman again?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Rob, man, don't do this. We agreed, if either of us has a problem then we spill it. It took siccing Bart on you to spill about being kicked outta Gotham. I'm not letting you off the hook."
"I don't want to talk about this right now. I need time to think."
"Lame excuse, Rob. All you do is think."
Robin squawked and nearly lost his lunch as Superboy abruptly switched direction and plunged into a nose dive. "Where are we going?"
"My place. Dubbilex's making some kinda weird stew tonight and I don't wanna eat it alone. Besides, he's got a great cure for headaches."
"I have homework. My Dad's already threatened to ground me. If I'm late--"
"I'll phone and tell him I kidnapped you." Superboy spun sharply to the right, narrowly missing a large palm tree. "Better yet, I'll get Dubbilex to phone. It's so much more convincing when the parental units communicate instead of us."
"He doesn't know I do this! You can't call him." Robin clung for dear life to Superboy's shoulder as the Kid entered a series of quick spins and nose dives. "Kon, I'm gonna lose my cookies! Will ya slow down already?"
"Sorry. Are you serious? Your old man doesn't know?"
"Why do you think he wasn't at the parent-teacher conferences?" Robin sighed. "Until recently he's spent all his time worrying over the company. Now suddenly, he feels responsible for me. It's terrible, the way he's smothering me. I feel like I'm in jail for something."
"Ah-HA! So that's why you don't wanna go home! Well, don't worry, Dub's a great telepath, even over the phone, he'll come up with a plausible excuse. You don't have anything planned with the Bat do you?"
Robin shook his head and winced. Damn, shouldn't have done that.
"Okay then, Dubes'll call for you and we'll suffer through supper together!" Superboy came to a quick stop outside a small house on a beach. "Ahh, home sweet home."
Robin looked around. He had to admit, this wasn't the sort of place he'd expect Superboy to live in. Well, Hawaii, yeah, that seemed right but the home--he stared at the white house with neat drapes and blue "Welcome" mat on the front step and swallowed a chortle. The house seemed too `normal' for the Kid. Too picturesque of something out of Leave it to Beaver.
"Hey, Dub! I brought Rob home for supper! Can you call his Dad and get the okay for him to stay? But like, be discreet, the old man doesn't know he's a crime fighter!"
A grey humanoid with two horns protruding from his skull wearing an `I love to cook' apron exited the house, frowning slightly. "Phone? Am I to assume this was a, "spur of the moment" action?" He stared intently at Robin. "Am I to assume you did not wish to attend supper here?"
"He's having problems at home, Dub." Superboy interjected, sauntering into the house. "He needs to bail for a few hours. Plus, he's got a whammy of a headache. I thought maybe you could do something about it."
"I see." Dubbilex turned is attention to Robin. His opaque eyes gazed intensely at the young man, making him feel strangely vulnerable. After a moment of silence he nodded. "Perhaps you would care to spend the night? Kon-el has plenty of extra clothing, as well as sunglasses. I understand the need for a secret identity, though if you chose, both Kon-el and I would keep your secret."
Stunned, Robin stood dumbly, mouth opening and closing like a fishes. "I--um.....yeah, I'd like to spend the night. Thanks for having me."
Dubbilex smiled. "Of course. Please go inside. I will contact your father."
"You know the number?" Robin's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Did you pull that information from my head or--"
"I'm a telepath, young sir. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me."
"Oh." Robin frowned. "Um, thanks, I guess."
Feeling awkward, Robin fled into the house, searching for Kon-el. He found his friend already changed and taping up the latest addition to his "Hottie Wall of Fame." "Hi."
Kon turned and grinned. "Hey. We on for supper?"
"Sack-out, actually. Dubbilex's going to clear it with my dad."
"Really?" Robin nodded. Superboy appeared ready to do cartwheels. "Awesome, man! I finally get to hold a party! Geez, I can never get anyone over! This is gonna rock, man! We'll listen to the latest rap, hit the beach for chicks, check out my latest addition of Playboy that Dub isn't supposed to know about but I think he does anyway, eat lotsa sugar-filled junk food and drink rootbeer till we friggn' well burst! This is gonna be great!"
"You sound like Impulse." Robin chided but had to laugh. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. He didn't get to hang out often. In fact, since the parent-teacher conferences he couldn't recall having a day to chum with his friends.
"Hey man, you wanna change? Somehow Rob, I think you'd be outta place in the Robin garb."
"Yeah. Got anything that'll fit?"
Kon thought about it. "Probably. I think I shrunk a couple of my trunks and tees in the wash last week."
Robin settled onto Kon's unmade bed and closed his eyes. His head was throbbing. If Dubbilex was going to help with his headache, he hoped it would be soon. He was looking forward to hanging with Kon and wasn't thrilled with the prospect of ruining it with a headache.
"Here we go." Kon-el emerged from his closet holding a black t-shirt with a red S on it and a pair of black checkered boxers. "Catch!"
Robin reached for the set but caught only air. Damn, he was seeing double.
Kon-el stared at the mess and shrugged. "I'll go get Dubbilex."
Rob tried to nod but his head wouldn't work. This was a bad one alright. His vocal chords seemed paralysed as well. Triple bad. Time for a trip to the ol' emergency room for a shot of demoral. He started as pair of cool hands touched his forehead.
"Relax." It was Dubbilex's voice, but it sounded impossibly far away. "Concentrate on what is upsetting. Hold tightly then release. Relish in the cool calm, bask in the gentle warmth, imagine all your trouble washing away in the tide."
Whatever Dubbilex was doing, it was working. Robin followed his voice, mesmerized by its gentle lull. Before he realized it the hands were removed and he was staring up at the poster clad ceiling of Superboy's bedroom. "Wow. That was amazing."
Kon-el looked down at him, grinning. "Ain't it? You should see what he does for pulled muscles. Betcha even Batman's home remedy isn't as good."
Robin groaned and sat up. He shook his head experimently, relieved to find the tension gone. "Hey, where's Dubbilex?"
"Left. You've been asleep for almost an hour, Rob. I was tempted to take a peek beneath your mask, Mystery Boy."
Robin glowered and Superboy took an involuntary step back, arms raised. "Hey, don't bust a gut! I didn't peek! Geez, Rob, Batman's really rubbing off on you. That's one hell of an evil look you got going there bro."
"Hmmm." At one time, that comment would have pleased him. Now.... Robin clapped his hands together. "So where's my clothes and what should we do first?"
"Okay, Rob, here's the drill. I'll introduce you as Mr. Junior Gotham. The chicks'll dig that and you'll have your pick of any hottie on the beach. Except for Natalie. She's mine and all mine!"
Robin stared dubiously at the hoards of scantily clad females preening on the beach. He had his doubts. Robin didn't have much experience with girls and Tim had even less. Unless you counted Steph and Ariana, but then look how that had turned out. He rubbed absently at his eyes, flinching slightly as he hit the plastic lenses of his borrowed sunglasses instead of his mask. Robin sighed drearily and followed Superboy into the mist of the crowd. More and more he found himself wondering where Robin ended and Tim Drake began. Was there even a Tim Drake anymore? Aside from his Dad, he doubted Tim existed for anyone else. Certainly he was known as Robin to all his friends, namely the members of the newly formed Young Justice. He'd been Robin to Stephanie and forget Batman, he was all Robin to him. Tim didn't even enter the picture.
"Ladies, the Kid is back!"
A round of excited squeals and appropriate swooning ensued as Kon-el raised his arms and flexed his biceps. Tim dropped his head into his arms. He couldn't believe the reaction. Maybe Cissie was right when she said only dumb blondes inhabited the beach. No wonder Superboy preened so much. With an audience like this, who wouldn't?
"I've got a special treat for you tonight, ladies." Tim grunted as he was propelled forward. "I'd like you to meet my special guest from Gotham." Tim groaned as excited giggles and whispers went through the crowd. "I'm sure you're all familiar with Bruce Wayne--"
"Kon," Tim hissed, "What are you doing?"
"--And while he may be cool, and handsome and have more money than he knows what to do with," the nearest blonde to Kon-el's right gasped and passed out, "I've brought someone even better. The next great playboy of Gotham, the one, the only, Rob, er, uh." Kon floundered for a moment, then announced, "Zombie!" Tim groaned. "Yes, ladies, this is Rob Zombie, Mr. Junior Gotham 2000! Rob is serious, with just a hint of dark and dangerous that puts him in such hot demand among the Gotham girls. So ladies, how about it, who wants to show Robbie around my stomping ground!"
Tim gaped as a stampede of bikini clad bombshells surged towards him. "Oh my god."
Kon-el clapped his shoulder. "Way to go man. Have a good time." Wink wink. Nudge, nudge. "I'll come get you in an hour." A dirty blonde with large land tracts waltzed up to Kon-el and batted her eyes. "Er, uh, maybe two or three. See ya!"
With that he took off, leaving a more than stunned Tim to contend with more women than he knew what to do with. "Oh boy." was all he had time to say before a catfight broke out between a Pamela Lee look-a-like and Julia Roberts wanna be.
Several hours later, Tim found himself back at Kon-el's hanging out in his room. He rested on stomach, listening to Kon babble on about his date.
"Natalie was, like amazing! Too bad she's got a boyfriend back in New York or I'd announce our engagement!"
Tim rolled his eyes. "I can't believe you! You're too much, Kon, way too much."
"Whadda mean? I am the man! By the way, how was your date?" He grinned wickedly, "or should I say dates?"
"Well, once I got the catfights under control it wasn't so bad. I went swimming, which was fun and played a little beach volleyball." Tim sighed dreamily. "There was this one girl that was sort of cool. She was really smart." Kon-el snorted and Tim frowned. "What's wrong with intelligence? She was great. She's going to design roller coasters."
"Was she the brunette in the full-piece?" Tim nodded. "Oh man, Rob, outta all the babes I handed to you, you picked her? I couldn't even get to first base!"
"She kissed me." Tim smirked as Kon-el's mouth fell open. "We even exchanged E-mail addresses. Though I think she was suspicious of my name. I mean, really, out of all the names you could have given me, you picked Rob Zombie? Good thing she was rather music illiterate."
"Hey, it was spur of the moment!"
"Like everything you do." Tim retorted, then shrugged. "Anyway, I'm gonna give her a call when I get back to my Dad's. She actually lives in Keystone which'll make it a bit awkward, but I'm sure I can come up with an appropriate excuse as to why I'm in town."
"I can't believe you. Good god, you give him goddesses and he picks a roller coaster freak." Kon's stomach growled. "Hey man, I'm like, totally starved. Let's get some chow. Wanna pizza?"
Tim shrugged, "Sure, but what about Dubbilex's stew?"
"Forget the stew man! We're partying tonight!" Kon-el raised his fists in an exaggerated manner. "Let there be pizza!"
Tim threw another empty can of rootbeer over his shoulder. Between he and Kon-el they'd almost gone through three cases. Good god, he'd been a pig tonight. Empty candy bar wrappers, half-empty chip bags and greasy pizza boxes littered the floor of Kon-el's room. It was almost three am and he was still going strong. Kon-el had brought out his dirty magazine collection and rap CDS. Dubbilex had come in only once to ask them to turn down the tunes and to please go to bed. So far, the music had turned off but bedtime was still a long time coming. Tim stretched out on his back while Kon-el babbled over the hotties on page twelve. Kon had it so easy living here. Looking at his room it was obvious the guy had a normal life. No demands, other than school and Young Justice. The Kid was free to spend his weekends the way he wanted too, not the way others dictated to him.
Tim sighed. He loved being Batman's junior partner. Really he did, but sometimes the demands were just too much. It bothered him that no one ever thought to ask what he wanted. Not even his dad did that. And truth be told, he didn't know what he wanted. Hell, he didn't even know who he was anymore.
"Do ever feel, I don't know, over whelmed by everything we do?"
"Nope. Never. Not me."
"Not even a little?"
"Uh uh--oh man, check her out! Oh boy, I've died and gone to heaven! Hey, waitaminute, this looks like Cassie."
Tim jumped as a picture of a scantily clad woman dressed in a mock Wonder Woman outfit was shoved into his face.
"Waddyathink? Should I put it up at the HQ? I think it'd help relations between us and the JLA. Kinda like we support them and don't resent them spying on us, meddling in our affairs and criticising everything we do?"
"I think they'd get the wrong idea. Besides," Tim pushed the fold-out aside, "it'd end up being used for target practice by Cissie."
"Yup." Tim closed his eyes. Tonight had been fun. He'd had a great time, but he didn't know if it was Robin having the good time or Tim. He glanced at Kon-el. The Kid was his best friend. He trusted him--mostly. Would he be able to keep a secret? Tim's fingers rested on the edge of his borrowed glasses. There was only one way to find out. He needed to be open with at least one person. "Hey Kon-el? Can I tell you something?"
"Sure man, what's what?"
"No, this is serious. Remember at our camp-out how you dared me to take off my mask?"
Kon-el glanced curiously at him.
Tim took a deep breath. "I'm taking a big chance here Kon, so don't tell anyone, okay? I mean, NO ONE. If my identity got out I'd be in serious shit."
"You're gonna tell me your secret identity!?"
"I guess so."
"You're not just saying that? The Kid gets to be the first one to know the identity of our very own Robin the Boy Wonder, sidekick to the Bat's, real name?"
"I'm starting to have doubts."
"Are you sure you want to do this then?" Kon-el sat up slowly. His flamboyant demeanor changed, turning pensive. His blue eyes seemed to bore past Tim's darkened lenses. "If you're not comfortable with this, you shouldn't do it. It just adds more pressure for me, ya know."
"I want to do this. I... I need to tell someone. I feel like I'm losing myself Kon-el. When I feel stuff, I can't tell if its me or Robin. I don't know if I even exist."
"You exist man. You're like, a completely different person outside the Robin garb." He scratched the back of his neck. "You're like, I dunno, fun. Definitely more laid back."
Tim rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I'm different?"
"Well yeah. When you're in uniform, you like, analyse everything and watch out for everyone. You're the leader, but when you're hanging, you have a sense of humour."
Tim glowered but Kon-el shook his head helplessly, "it's true man. I saw you on the beach today. You were a typical guy. Digging the beach, checking the girls. You acted like a teen. You don't do that when you're being Robin."
"But I'm always Robin. Even when we're hanging!"
"Nope. You're not. I can't explain it, but you're different. We all are. Except Imp," Kon-el glowered at the dusty group photo on his dresser. "That guy's just plain oblivious."
"But--I'm still Robin! I'm always Robin! He permeates everything I do-whether I'm in costume or not! It's like my entire being is invested in my alter ego!" Tim sat up and curled his knees to his chin. "Sometimes I wake up and it's like I don't know who I am anymore. When I look in the mirror, his reflection stares out at me."
"That's because he is you, man!" Kon-el left his magazines and settled beside Tim. He clasped Tim's shoulder. "Listen, Rob, even if you decided to hang-up the Robin gig and walk away, you'd still be you. You'd still be the guy that hates mushrooms on your pizza," Tim snorted but Kon continued, undeterred, "you're still the guy who lectures me on the evils of objectifying women, keeps everyone from wringing Bart's neck and who wouldn't hesitate to help someone out. That's the sorta thing that doesn't come with a costume." He tapped a finger on Tim's chest. "It comes from inside."
For a moment, Tim was speechless. "Wow. Kon, I had no idea you held so much insight."
"I don't acutally. I read that in Cassie's Glamour mag at the cave. Man, that book has the babes!"
"You're too much, Kon-el!" Tim laughed, tossing a handful of popcorn at him. "Well, whether you were stealing material or if that was your own advice, I do feel better."
"Good. So spill, Mystery Boy, who's the man behind those shades?"
Tim pushed away his hands. "Like you'll ever know!"
"Gentlemen! It is four am and there are those of us trying to sleep!"
Both boys turned to see an annoyed Dubbilex framed in the doorway.
"Settle down and go to sleep or I shall make you comsume my Cacklabrack stew!"
"We're settling, Dub! We're settling! Aren't we Rob?"
Tim yelped as Kon-el elbowed him in the ribs.
"Right! Going to bed! Right now."
Growling slightly, Dubbliex left, turning off the light as he went. Out in the hall he smiled. It seemed another crisis had passed for the Young Justice team. His brow furrowed.Though, if Kon-el didn't throw out those Playboys, there'd be a crisis come morning that not even the JLA could save him from!
Back To The DC Page