Too Deep To Breathe
by Rea

Jack was seated beside Alfred Pennysworth in small room dubbed "the office." The "office" looked more like headquarters of the CIA. Jake gaped at the numerous monitors, keyboards and technical equipment crammed inside. "You could monitor an entire country from here," he mused as he watched the scenes on the monitors change. His jaw dropped as he watched Superman fly across one screen while Wonder Woman battled a forest fire on another. "What is this, the Big Brother of the superhero community?"

"Hardly." Alfred sat at one of the terminals, typing furiously. "Miss Gordon's computer expertise allows her to help aid our people in the field."

"So she's more like a 9-1-1 dispatcher."

"In a manner of speaking." Alfred stopped typing. He held out his hand expectantly. "If you would be so kind as to hand over your information regarding the Demarti Institute, I can have the computer begin analyzing it."

Jack pursed his lips as he thought about it. "How do I know you're not going to use it for your own purposes? Forgive me my hostility, but I have a hard time believing that line Wayne was feeding us. Dana may have fell for it, but I've played the game too long to fall for such crap."

"It wasn't a line." Alfred indicated a small monitor near Jack's left. "Do you see that? It is the Batcave." The camera panned across the rock walls to glass display cases. It stopped on one containing a large black suit with a yellow bat emblazed on the chest. "That is the famed costume and the case next to it houses your son's." Alfred adjusted the angle to give Jack a good view of Timothy's red and green costume. "That is the outfit Master Tim dons each night to become Robin."

"My god." Jack felt as if his world had bottomed out. "This can't be real. It's some sort of elaborate joke."

Alfred watched Jack struggle to process what he was seeing. Eyes blinked rapidly as the camera continued to pan the cave, revealing even more of his son's double life as the angle veered across the cave floor, revealing the varied contents of Bruce's crime trophies. Pictures flashed of the gym, locker and weapon rooms. Finally, it swept the tunnel, stopping on the Redbird.

"That's Timothy's car." Jack touched the screen gingerly, running his finger over the shiny finish. "He loved that car." He blinked rapidly as the camera moved onto inspect the rest of the tunnel. "Why? Why would he do this to me? What was he thinking? Gotham has the highest crime rate in the country! Does he not watch the news?"

"He did." Alfred said softly. "He watched every day. He read the paper. He saw the injustice. He decided to do something about it." Alfred resumed his typing. "Timothy has faced off against the most notorious criminals in this city. It is thanks to your son that the Joker is again back in Arkham."

"He could have been killed! Did he ever think about that?" Jack slammed his fist upon the desk, sending disks and pens crashing to the floor. "Did it ever occur to him he could be one of the statistics he reads about in the paper every day?"

"Did it ever occur to you he could make a difference?"

"What are you doing?" Jack flinched as Alfred took his chin in his aged hand and turned his face towards the center monitor. "What the hell is this?"

"Your son." Alfred smiled quietly. "This is Robin."

Whatever else Jack had been going to say died on his lips as a picture of his son appeared on screen. Standing proud in his Robin garb, Tim smiled at him. The green mask covering his eyes did little to hide the earnest glow emanating from the opaque lenses. Jack was struck by how confident his son appeared. The smile upon his lips was genuine. It lacked the forced merriment Jack was so often presented with when he cancelled a visit or made last minute changes to plans that involved leaving Tim behind. "He looks so happy."

"He was happy." Alfred asserted, looking rather wistful himself. "I remember when he first put on the costume. He didn't know if he deserved the mantle of Robin. We did our best to assure him he did, but it wasn't until he handled his first solo case that he believed our words. He took on Two-Face even before he became Robin, you know. Bruce didn't want another partner, but Timothy proved him wrong. He's proved us all wrong on so many cases."

"He's too smart for his own good." Jack chuckled. "Standing next to him, sometimes I just feel so damn inferior. He sees things I don't. When I'm off on a rant he'll say something that makes me realize just how ignorant I'm being."

"He is an exceptional young man." Alfred laid a gentle hand on Jack's shoulder. "Who will not grow to be an exceptional adult, unless we can find a way to reverse the process Dr. Demarti used to render Timothy unconscious."

"Bruce said he was there that night. What happened?"

"It was a mission gone wrong." Alfred abruptly looked away. "Master Bruce can tell you more than I."

"Was it my fault?" Jack took in a shaky breath. "Did Tim get hurt because of my involvement? Was it because of me?"

"No. There were rumblings of illegal dealings. Timothy was sent merely to observe." Alfred stared dully at the monitor. "He wasn't supposed to be hurt. Certainly, no one intended him to be used as a guinea pig for the Halo. It was an accident."

"This is all real, isn't it?" Jack was starting to grasp the reality of the situation. "It's not some sort of hoax. Tim's not going to walk through that door and tell me it's a joke, is he?"

"No, Master Jack, he won't."

Jack nodded. Hand trembling, he reached into his jacket and retrieved the letter. Eyes glistening he handed the envelope to Alfred. "Save my son."

"We will do our best." Alfred whispered back. Removing the papers, he got to work.

Barbara stormed into her bedroom as best she could in a wheelchair. Slamming the door, she wheeled to her window and gazed out at the city. "Arrogant, no-good prick. I can't believe his gall." Someone snorted behind her. "And look at you! How can you sleep at a time like this?"

To her surprise, Batgirl didn't respond. Barbara's eyes narrowed. Though Batgirl hadn't lived with her long, it had been enough of a duration for Barbara to know the girl could wake from a deep sleep at the drop of a feather.




Alarmed, Barbara wheeled to the bed. Leaning over, she gave Batgirl a rough shake. Cassandra responded with a loud snort. Putting her mouth against the girl's ear, she shouted loudly.

"Wake up!"

Cassandra didn't even stir.

"Oh shit." Praying this wasn't another crisis, Barbara went to fill a glass with cold water.

Dana followed Bruce down the hall to a lonely door at the end. She watched him take the knob and turn it. The door swung open to reveal a small bedroom. The room was bare save for a bed and medical equipment. A heart monitor beeped softly. Dana felt her heart stop. "Oh Timothy."

He looked horrible. Pale skin hung weakly to his bony frame. His ribs were clearly visible. His once shiny hair was dark and limp. Purple smudges lined his arms, the chilling result of numerous needles. Walking to the bed, she took one limp hand into her own. He felt cold. "What happened?"

"It was a mission gone wrong." Shutting the door, Bruce stood beside her. "He was sent to stake-out the Demarti Institute. The JLA had heard rumblings that Demarti was experimenting with the human psych. Tim was sent only to observe. He wasn't supposed to engage." Bruce trailed off, his eyes glazed as he recalled past events. "Something went wrong. They were discovered."


"Tim and Kon-el. Superboy to the general public. Robin took a hit to his chest. The lasers were sent to stun, thank god or you'd be viewing a corpse right now."

"Isn't that what he basically is?" She felt a sense of morbid satisfaction when he winced. "A corpse?"

"Both boys were taken into the institute." Bruce continued talking as if she hadn't spoken. "Tim, however, was selected for their experiment. When they didn't check in I surmised they'd been discovered. I went to investigate. I got there too late."

"Tell me."

The Demarti institute was already in flames by the time they arrived. Debris and bodies littered the ground as explosions continued to decimate the building.

"We're too late."

Batman refused to acknowledge the other's comment. He still had a signal on Robin. If the boy were dead his tracer would have stopped transmitting. "They're alive. At least, Robin is." Now was not the time to criticise Superman's lack of safeguards regarding his people. "I'm willing to bet they're keeping the boys together." He pointed to the west wing of the institute, the only section still in one piece. "Get the boys and take them to STAR Labs. I'll meet you there later."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to find out who's responsible for this."

"Isn't retrieving Robin more important?" Clark Kent's blue eyes bore holes through his cowl. "The original mission is a failure. Our prerogative is to get the kids to safety."

"That's why you're getting them." Bruce's stance was firm. "But they aren't our only concern. If we're going to salvage the situation, we need to know who's truly running the show. Our information is limited. It's either now or never."

"But Robin--"

"Will be safe with you." Batman surveyed the area. "I'm going in. Get the boys."

He didn't wait for an acknowledgement. Clark would do as he was told. Shooting out a line, he entered the fray, ignoring the cries of the wounded and dying. The authorities would soon be arriving. His window of opportunity was fast closing. Above the roar of ripping concrete and tearing metal, he could hear the clatter of gunfire. Heading across the north perimeter, he felt the familiar cold hate well inside as he passed the scattered remains of the builidng's occupants. While Mark Demarti's work was anything but ethical, it couldn't compare to this slaughter.

Within the groaning walls of the institute, another explosion sounded. Bruce ducked as a chunk of wall blew up, sending bodies and brick alike, careening to the ground. The northern sector of the institute was gone. Pungent green fumes wafted from the remains. White coated lab techs stumbled from the building, tumbling to the ground where they writhed, bloody hands clawing at their throats as chemical burned out their lungs. Gas bomb. They couldn't be saved. Holding his breath, Bruce calmly fitted his oxygen mask over his face and continued, undeterred.

The gunfire was growing louder as he rounded the corner and found himself in the institute's parking lot. Dropping to his knees behind a pile of concrete, he surveyed the area. Cargo trucks were parked across the lot. Men clad from head to foot in black were scattered about. Each wore kevlar vests and carried guns only available on the black market. They were soldiers of some kind. Their stance, tactics and attitude reminded Bruce of Army Seals. Only these weren't government officers and he doubted this raid was government sanctioned. One of the men began barking orders into a walkie talkie.

Amoment later, people began emerging from the smoldering debris of the north wing. Bruce felt his breath catch as a group of scientists from the institute was herded to the center of the parking lot. Mark Demarti was one of them. The soldier with the walkie talkie stepped forward and began speaking. As Bruce watched, each scientist was interrogated. Every so often the soldier would nod and move on. Lastly, he came to Mark Demarti.

The scientist cowered. The soldier spoke in clipped tones too low for Bruce to hear. Pulling out his surveillance gear, Bruce put on a headpiece. Cranking up the volume, he managed to catch the conversation.

"--brought this on yourself Doctor. You promised results."

Demarti whimpered. "I told you people before that these things take time! You can't hurry science."

"You assured us at the last meeting that the Halo would be operational. It isn't."

"It is!" Demarti held out his hands beseechingly. "The halo works. The boy proved that!"

Bruce felt his heart quicken.

"The boy is dead." The soldier stated flatly. "How can you recharge a weapon when it's owner is dead?"

"He's not dead and that wasn't the point." Bruce felt himself calm. "The operator of the halo isn't meant to charge it. That's what the subjects are for."

"It's not conceivable to take 'subjects' into battle with you, Doctor." Bruce could hear the clipped impatience. "Need I refresh your memory on what the halo should do?"

"Those were rough estimates."

"They were proposals that you assured my employer were possible."

"Possible." Demarti's voice was rising in pitch. "Not concrete. I can't create another burst and extract pertinent information from their heads. The Robin kid proved that."


"It results in a backlash of negative energy. That's why the kid's in a coma. I tried both procedures at once. Only one worked. I recharged the halo but all the boy's thoughts and memories went kaput. I told you people before that psi energy is volatile! You can't just hook subjects up to a machine and start syphoning! There's no way to measure how much you can take at a time."

"Then how can you syphon it?"

"I guessed." Demarti shrank as the soldier towered over him. "It's the best I can do. With more time and more subjects I could maybe develop a system. As it turned out, I took too much, too fast. The kid couldn't take it. Instead of a recharged weapon and Batman info I got a blank screen and a warning bell!"

"So the halo is a failure." The soldier's voice stated coldly. "You've wasted millions of my employer's money on a failed experiment."

"With time I can make it work." Demarti squealed as the soldier raised his weapon. "You can have the prototype! The Halo works! It's in lab 12 if you haven't blow up the west wing yet!"

The soldier slowly lowered his gun. Raising his walkie talkie he instructed a team to retrieve it, and to Batman's horror, Robin as well. Batman tensed. Readying a batarang, he prepared to enter the situation. The beeping of the walkie talkie had him hesitating. The soldier raised the talkie and spoke softly into it. "Are you sure? Acknowledged. Blow the lab. Blow everything, we're finished here." Spinning, the soldier faced the doctor. "They say lab 12 is empty."

"Empty?" Demarti paled. Sweat beaded along his forehead. "That's impossible! The weapon and the boys were there. It's Robin and the Superkid! I swear."

"You've lied to me for the last time." Demarti began screaming as the soldier pointed the gun to his head. Bruce knew his cue. Lunging from the rubble, he threw a batarang, catching the soldier's wrist as he pulled the trigger. Shots rang out as the troops opened fire, mowing down the cowering scientists in the process. Going for his utility belt, Batman released smoke bombs. Having the element of surprise, he was able to disarm a number of the men before the smoke cleared. Someone barked a retreat order. The next ten minutes were a blur as Batman fought to keep the trucks from leaving. He lost. Outnumbered and outgunned, he was forced to retreat behind the rubble.

His calls for back-up went unanswered. The lines were down. He didn't know why. He could do little but watch helplessly as the west wing exploded, taking whatever was left of the institute with it. Red flame lapped at the sky, as if beseeching the gods for answers. The scent of charred flesh filled his nostrils while cries of the dying blocked out the arriving sirens of the police.

Emerging from the rubble, he stumbled through the parking lot. The soldiers were gone. He didn't know who they were. All that remained were the dead. For a moment silence rained, the crackling of the fire behind him muted as he offered his condolences to the night. Then gurgled breaths of a dying man reached his ear.

Mark Demarti was still alive. Laying on his back, he could do little more than moan as Batman approached him. Dropping to his knees, Batman examined the wounds. Demarti had taken two bullets to his chest. His lungs were filling with fluid. He wouldn't live.

"Can you reverse the process?"

Mark coughed, spitting drops of red onto the pavement. "Your partner's psych... splintered. He's everywhere and nowhere." Mark gasped. "Sorry... needed a subject... too young... sorry."

"You put Robin in a coma!" Bruce's tone was desperate. "Your computers... are there back-up disks? What about files?"

"Gone. All gone."

Demarti's eyes rolled back into his head. Bruce beat his fist against the pavement. "Goddamnit!"

As the sirens neared he rose to his feet and vanished into the shadows. The wind whimpered as it followed his retreat. Speaking into his headpiece, he called STAR Labs to check on Robin.

"That's it?" Dana asked softly. "That's all you know? Who were those soldiers? Did you get them? Have you at least brought one of Timothy's attackers to justice?"

"No. My leads took me nowhere. All of the evidence was lost in the explosion."

"What about Superman?" Dana crossed her arms angrily. "He got the boys out. Didn't he think to check the computers for data?"

"Demarti had wiped the computers and dismantled the halo. STAR labs is putting it back together but we have no idea how it works. The mechanics make it appear like a regular weapon, but the battery pack doesn't work, and the cords go no where."

"That's because they were syphoning from a human host!" Dana lost her temper. "For christ sakes, the notes Mark sent said as much. You know that by Mark's own admission."

"But did the notes say how he was doing it?" Bruce's eyes were cold. "Did he say how he was ripping apart Tim's mind? Were there specifics? Schematics?"

"I don't know."

"Exactly." Bruce snapped. "And neither do I."

"You bastard." Dana slapped him. "How can you be so goddamned callous! Why weren't you there? Why the hell didn't you go to the lab with Superman? If you were there, maybe you could have done something? At the very least you could have been with him!"

"Superman's presence was adequate."

"Adequate?" Dana beat her fists against his chest. "It was inadequate! You're inadequate! You didn't save my son! You didn't bring his attackers to justice!"

"Demarti is dead. And I told you. I have only speculations."

"Then speculate a little damn harder! He was only a child! What were you thinking? How could you even send him out there? You don't have children doing recon! You don't place kids in a position where they can be killed! What kind of a monster are you?"

"It was Tim's decision." Bruce didn't flinch as Dana slapped him. "I never forced him to be Robin. It was his idea to take up the mantle."

"He's a child! He doesn't know what's good for him. That's what parents are for!"

"Where was Jack?"

"Gone." His tired voice drew their attention to the door. Jack sagged against the frame, his eyes haunted as he stared at what remained of his son. "I was always gone." He smiled bitterly. "Story of my life."

"This is the result of the Mark Demarti." Bruce rumbled. "With your past involvement with him I'd hoped he'd left his work in your hands as a safeguard."

"His notes were nothing but weapon prototypes." Jack perched himself on the edge of the bed. "Alfred's still analysing them but there's not much hope." He took Tim's hand. "It's official. I've lost my company over this fiasco. Now I've lost my son too."

"So that's it then." Dana couldn't believe that after everything it was over. "There's nothing we can do."

"It looks that way." Jack met Bruce's eyes. "Tell me one thing Wayne. My son, what was he like?"

Bruce was silent as he thought about it. Finally, he said, "He was everything you and I aren't."

Jack nodded his understanding. "Good. I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Um... sorry to interrupt." Barbara poked her head through the door. "But we've got another problem."


"It's Batgirl, I can't wake her up."

Cassandra Cain was beating heads. Shoplifting heads to be exact. She had them cornered in an alley. The brick wall was too high to jump over. The fire escapes too rickety to climb. The only way out was past her. Cassandra leered behind her mask. No way they were getting past her.

Not that the thugs knew that. A tall guy in an Afro lunged forward swinging a twinkie. One Cassandra Kick and he was flying backwards into his buddies. His twinkie lay on the pavement beside her feet.

Cassandra liked twinkies. Twinkies were junk food. Robin said Twinkies were good food. Cassandra picked up the Twinkie. Twinkies were not suck.

"You're not supposed to be eating that." Cassandra groaned. She knew that voice. "It'll make you fat."

"You fat." Cassandra finished her Twinkie before turning. To her shock she discovered Spoiler wasn't wearing her ugly purple costume. She was wearing Robin's uniform. "Take it off."

Spoiler shook her head. "Nuh uh. I'm Robin now. Batman said so."

"Batman is suck." Cassandra cracked her knuckles. "Take off."


"I hurt." She warned. Normally Cassandra wouldn't be so nice, but Barbara said she had to be nice so... "Take off and I not beat your head."

"Get real, chatterbox. This is my uniform now. Batman gave it to me because I'm going to be Robin. I'm better than Tim. I know it, Batman knows it and Tim knows it."

"I not know it." The time for talk was over. Ready with her patented Cassandra kick, she charged Spoiler. Two seconds later, Spoiler's body was laying decapitated upon the pavement while Cassandra used her head for a kickball. Grabbing Spoilers head by the hair, she was alarmed to note Spoiler was still talking.

"This stinks," the head complained.

"No," Cassandra said, "you stink." And threw the head against the wall. Satisfied with the splat sound it made, she skipped from the alley. Feeling hungry, she beelined down to the burger joint. She sauntered inside, completely unalarmed that she was in Burger Joint with her costume still on. As she placed her order, she became aware of someone talking. It was loud like when she played a tape at the cave. "This have no beat." she grumbled as she handed the cashier a twenty from her utility belt. "What with the monologue?"

The cashier shrugged and pointed to a booth. Her booth. Cassandra gasped as she saw who was sitting there. "Robin!" The Boy Wonder was holding a microphone. Every so often he'd pause to take a bite of his cheeseburger. Swallowing, he set aside the burger and picked up the microphone.

"The water has receded," he mumbled. "I've dipped my toes in the water and haven't drowned. For the first time I feel whole. My memories are stabilizing. The fractured pieces of mind are slowly coming together. With each new piece I lay, I find myself travelling closer to my destination." He paused to eat a french fry then resumed his speel. "I have finally dared to disembark from the tram. I don't know what will happen now. I don't know where to go. I'm whole yet I'm lost. I--" He stopped his musing as Cassandra slammed her tray down at the table. "Do you mind? I'm doing a monologue here."

"You talk too much." Cassandra said and snatched the mic from his hand. Holding it to her mouth she blew into it. "Luke." she said in her most gravelly voice. "I am your father."

"Real mature." Robin grumbled as he watched her throw the mic over her shoulder. "What are you doing here anyway?"

"Hungry." Cassandra rolled her eyes. Was he blind? "Eat cheeseburger."

"I know that." It was Robin's turn to roll his eyes. "I mean, what are you doing here?" he gestured to the restaurant. "Don't tell me Demarti fried your brain too."

"I in restaurant eating cheeseburger."

"Yeah, a dream version of the Burger Joint we used to eat at." Robin pointed to a group of girls drinking their malted milks upside down. "Does that look normal to you?"

Cassandra decided he had a point. "I sleeping. You sleeping too."

"I'm dead." Robin proclaimed. "You're sleeping."

"Not dead." Cassandra popped an onion ring into her mouth. "You sleeping too. Been sleeping for a long time. Why not wake up?"

"I can't." Robin sighed. "I've tried pinching myself. Scaring myself. Wishing myself awake. I'm stuck in this place. That's why I thought I was dead."

"You been in Burger Joint for a month? Doing monologues?"

Robin nodded. "There's not much else to do, is there?"

"You weird."

"So are you." Robin grinned crookedly. "It's nice to see you. I've missed our meals together."

"You miss lots of gossip." Cassandra wondered if she should tell Robin about Spoiler again. "Spoiler going to be Robin."

"I know."

"You not mad?"

"Of course I'm mad but what can I do about it? It's not like I can go anywhere. I've ridden the trams. I can't get off anywhere but here. It sucks. It so sucks. At first, I couldn't focus on anything. I didn't know where I was or who I was. Then slowly, I began to become aware. I felt like I was becoming whole again." Robin sighed and looked at his burger. "But I'm not whole. I'm missing something." His blue eyes turned sad. "Or someone."

"Spoiler?" Batgirl hoped he didn't miss her. Not after what she'd done. "She stink."

Robin smiled sadly. "I know she does. I don't miss her but she.. I dunno, she sorta completed me. At least, it felt like she did." He put his hand to his chest. "It feels like I have a big gaping void inside me. I wish I could fix it."

"This boyfriend/girlfriend thing?"

Robin nodded. "Sorta. Stephanie was one of the few people I could connect with. As Robin I wasn't able to really talk to her about Tim Drake problems, yet at the same time it was like I didn't have to. That maybe, on some level she understood what I was going through." He smiled wistfully. "She was fun to be around. I mean, when she wasn't annoying the hell out of me, which she was pretty good at."

"Annoyance is good reason not to date."

"Yeah." Robin sipped his malt thoughtfully. "But my parents fought all the time and they loved each other. When my mom died, Dad was devastated, which was funny because for the three months preceding her death, Dad was constantly arguing with her. Can you believe they used a middle man to speak to each other?"

"Your family weird." Why use a someone to talk for you when you could do it yourself? "You not weird. Maybe adopted?"

Tim chuckled. "I wish. I guess, because of how my parents acted I thought that was how it should be with Steph and I. That even though we fought like crazy, that, I don't know... deep down we really loved each other."

"She not love you."

"Thanks Cass. That's just what I wanted to hear."

"Is truth." Cassandra finished her fries and started eating Robin's. "You don't need her anyway."

"I do." Tim pushed his tray towards Cassandra. "When I'm with her, I'm needed. I may not always be wanted, but I am needed."


"So, I like to feel needed. It makes me feel..." Tim trailed off. He stared hard at the table. "loved."

Cassandra didn't get it. "You take her shit to feel loved?"

"Cass! Where the heck did you learn that?"

Cassandra shrugged. "Off movie. I see it on late night tv."

"I didn't know you watched tv."

"Nothing else to do on Wednesdays. You sleep so no burger. Fun go kapoof! Batman and Spoiler is suck and Barbara busy with lovey dove Nightwing so no one to have fun with."

"Oh." Tim looked sheepish. "I didn't know our dinners together meant that much to you."

"Not dinner that mean much. It company that mean much."

"Heh." Tim smiled shyly. "I'm good company huh?"

"You best."

Suddenly they found themselves awestruck. Each stared as if truly seeing the other for the first time. Tim had beautiful eyes. Cassandra Cain marvelled at the warm feeling in her stomach. Either it was indigestion or it was love. Cassandra hoped it was love.

"Cass, I don't know what to say." Tim broke the silence. Averting his eyes, he studied the water rings left on the table from their drinks. "I mean, I really enjoy our dinners together too. You're fun to talk with. I never thought catching pigeons could be a worthy hobby until you came along. And the way you beat heads... nobody kicks ass like you!"

"So it all settled."

"What's settled?"

"I be girlfriend." Cassandra announced proudly. At last she could be Robin's girlfriend. She fill big gaping void Spoiler leave. "We date over cheeseburgers."

Robin laughed. "You're funny, Cass. Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but I'm afraid it's a little more complicated than that. We're friends. Steph and I are... um."


"Cass! It's complicated! Even if she doesn't want me anymore, I still have feelings for her. Feelings I can't ignore."

"What feelings? All you have is big gaping hole. Love supposed to be good feelings." She pointed to herself. "I be girlfriend. I care about you. I protect. I care. I change iv bags. I be there and not try to be Robin." She paused as a thought struck her. "Maybe that why you not wake up. You have big void inside. Need void filled but can't fill void until all bad feelings gone. Steph is reason for void. You dump her and date me. I fill void with good feelings. Then we go home."

Robin reached across the table and took her hand. "I appreciate this Cass, I really do, but... you're my friend. It'd be weird if we dated."

Cassandra knew Robin wasn't getting it. Men were dumb. Only one way to make men not dumb according to Dinah. Leaning over the table, she grabbed Robin's head and pulled him into a kiss. All the anger, loneliness and sadness of the past month were poured into the kiss. She hoped Robin would feel how much she had missed him. Letting go, she resumed her seat and waited.

Robin's eyes were still closed and his mouth was hanging slightly agape. Slowly, he opened his eyes. "Wow." Looking stunned he leaned back. "Double wow." He blinked and finally focussed on her. "That was... wow."

"You say that." Cassandra smirked. "Is big gaping void gone?"

Robin nodded dumbly. "Totally gone. Never felt better."

"We date now?"

A goofy grin creased his face. "Totally."

Cassandra pointed to the door at the back of the restaurant. A big neon sign flashed the word "exit" in bold red. "Good. We go home then." Taking his hand, she led him to the door.

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