by Cyndi Smith

Roy had spent the most of the night with the feeling he was being watched. Not that it slowed him down; there was too much to do and no time to do it. He had been in this hellhole for only a week and he hated it. Give him the big city any time; it's safer. He sat on the ledge watching the lightning show across the river. *Even the Gods are angry,* he thought as he watched the curtain of rain close off the view of the Bat's hometown. Geesh, he missed New York. Actually, hell was an improvement to this place.

He was getting homesick. He had talked to Lian only a couple of times since this all started. Garth said she had become quite the "uncle's little helper, and could change a diaper like a pro." They had gone swimming every day so far, and she has, for the most part, taken full control of the Titan's Tower. *Spoiled? Not my princess. If anything she's smart.* He had never lied to her about what he or any of the Titans did, or why. But it was killing him to not tell her the whole truth now. Oh, she understood that he was helping her Uncle Nightwing, and he wasn't sure how long he would be away. But every time she asked to speak to Dick. He would tell her he was asleep or wasn't here right now. Something that wasn't quite a lie. It seemed to make her a little more at ease for a while, but last night she asked him if Uncle Nightwing could call her tomorrow when he got up. Roy never could get away with half-truths--at least not with the women in his life. He wasn't sure why he thought his little princess would be any different.

Roy was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn't hear his rooftop stalker until he felt a cold blade against his throat. "I know who you want me to think you are," came a cold feminine voice,

"What I want to know is what you have done with the real Nightwing."

Roy first instinct was to fight, but he suppressed it because of the cold grip of the knife at his jugular. He felt the knife's grip get tighter, as if she were reading his mind. "Um, look, you're one up on me," he growled, "I don't know who you are, but I always live by the rules; if it looks like a bat and walks like a bat, it's a bat. So tonight I am Nightwing. And tomorrow. And as long as it takes. And that's all you need to know."

"Then the rumor is true. He's dead." Roy jumped out of the grasp of his captor as soon as the grip loosened. He spun, ready for a fight,when he recognized the sleek shapely costume of his assailant. He straightened as he said incredibly, "HUNTRESS? ...How?"

"I have my ways," she whispered as tears glistened behind her mask.

"No, I meant how did you know I wasn't Nightwing?" The only answer came from a crimson blush that crossed her cheeks.

Roy knew that blush. "YOU? ...HE?" His eyes got so wide that she thought they might pop from the socket. "Man, I gotta find out where he buys his Wheaties."

Huntress ignored his blustering and readied her jump line. "The man who pulled the trigger that killed him is dead," she told him. "Killed the night you did your little raid on his drug deal."

"Please tell me you weren't involved." Roy pleaded.

"I wish. No... Your masquerade is working. Blockbuster did it. Ripped his head from his shoulders. Quite a sight to watch, but I think he got off easy. As for the kingpin... you go ahead and play dress up. I'm going to avenge my... friend."

"No, wait," he yelped, trying to regain control of this situation. *Think, Harper, how would Batboy do this?* He spoke out loud,"First of all, Di... Nightwing... He’s not dead..." He could tell by her glare that she knew he was not telling the full truth. *Women,* He grimaced realizing he had fallen in to that same trap again. He continued quietly, "At least he wasn't when I left him this evening."

Roy watched as his companion lowered herself to the ledge, clasped the cross she wore around her neck, and whispered something he couldn't hear. Roy watched her for a second before he continued, "Second... you kill anyone in his name and you will tarnish his soul, forever. Please let us do this our own way for now."

"Did the Bat tell you that?" she laughed.

"No. An Old Navaho shaman." He whispered, "It didn't make much sense until now... please." She stared at him as if his word hit some kind of soft spot in her mental armor. It seemed like forever before either of them moved, and even when she did, she simply headed for the ledge. Before she left, Roy stopped her with, "What are you going to do?"

"Far be it for me to second guess the wisdom of an ancient people," she whispered, "But don't assume I have changed my mind, either. For now we will play it your way... Nightwing. Call me if you need me. I will not be far away." She turned to face 'Nightwing.'

"Look I know I don't fit into the Bat's realm of "Good Guys," but I have grown quite fond of that... particular shade of blue," she continued as she moved her hand gently across the emblem on his chest. "I would like to be told if there is any change... either way... Please."

"How do I reach you?" Roy asked, understanding.

"Like I said, I will be close by, just whistle," she replied.

"As if the Gods themselves were crying," Donna mumbled as she stepped inside from the balcony. "It has to be the darkest night I have seen in a lifetime."

The storm's lightening and the machines' eerie glows were the only light in the room. Except for the machines' almost silent hiss, there had not been any noise in the room for an hour and a half before Donna spoke. Alfred had dropped off tea and biscuits in case they got hungry. He had even freshened the ice water on the bedside table. Tim had fallen asleep in the chair in the corner where he had been sitting for most of the last day, and Barbara sat next to Dick's bed softly caressing his left hand to her cheek.

Noting Barbara's action, Donna laughed quietly, "Once, when we were younger, I broke that hand." She returned to her chair on the other side of the bed as a tear began to fall down her cheek. "It seems funny, but I don't have many memories of my past, but every now and then when one pops up it has him in it."

"Me too." Barbara smirked, mimicking Donna's quietness. "After this," she gestured to her chair, "I thought it would be easier to just forget. I thought it wouldn't hurt so much if I forgot about my life... my loves. But he kept popping up out of nowhere with that silly grin on his face. No matter what I did, no matter what I said, he kept coming back. I even changed the security system to my apartment. And the next day when I got back from one of my doctors visits, I found him inside, disassembling the sink to lower it so that I could use it. He remodeled my whole apartment."

"I remember," Donna piped up, "The clown or something like that, right?" Her eyes widened in horror, "Oh, oh, Great Hera, forgive me I am sorry... I am so sorry. That was vulgar... I wasn't thinking."

"It was the Joker, and don't worry about it. I came to terms with it a while ago."

"Still, I am sorry. I spoke out of turn. It's just that it affected Dick so much. He worried so much about you."

"He was my knight in shining spandex," she giggled under a small torrid of tears. "I tried so hard to keep everyone out of my life; I wanted him to only remember me like I was before."

"He was scared for you, I remember, but he never pitied you."

"I know," Barbara choked, knowing her emotions were no longer in check. "I think I have always known. It's just so different,and I hate the thought that I have to depend on anyone else," she whimpered. "I just pray that he doesn't have live like... this."

Barbara broke it to tears, and Donna got up to rush over to her side. Donna knelt down to embrace her friend, and they cried on each other shoulders. It seemed an eternity before either could get gain any control of their tears.

"Guys, are you ok?" They both looked up to find Tim standing over them.

Babs answered for both as she said, "Yeah, kid, I guess I tripped over my memories and hurt myself." She laughed and cried at the same time. "I'm sorry." She whispered wiping away her tears and then Donna's.

Donna regained her feet as Tim knelt down next to Barbara. He simply waited for her get control of her emotions, not sure of what he could say to help her. He soon sat on the floor, placing his head on his one raised knee looking up at them. Moments later, Donna sat next to him, and they both watched patiently as Barbara started a well-versed routine that ended with her legs in a pretzel shape and Babs herself propped against the wall.

Donna glanced at the her two friends and laughed, "I think we used to do this when I was a child. They called it... a night to remember."

"Sorry Donna, but this is one night I wish I could forget." Babs injected. "In fact that could go for the whole week."

"I know this might sound strange but I don't ... I don't ever want to forget again. I admit they aren't all happy memories but they are good." Donna thought aloud. "Sometimes I think I wouldn't have any memories if it were not for my friend's recollections."

"As long as there are good memories we live in happiness forever." Tim recited sleepily.

"That's beautiful, Tim." The Amazon mused.

"Yeah, Boy Wonder what book did you dig that one out of," Barbara teased.

"I think... Dick said it?" Tim recalled as lightning flashed and again lit the room in a gloomy haze. "He said... Those we love can live forever in our memories... or something like that. I don't remember when he said it, I guess it was when mom died. I'm not sure."

"Diana says it is good to get together and look back on shared experiences. On nights like this we would gather in the great hall and share memories. Most of them were about great battles. Others were about fallen friends and heroes, and sometimes we would just talk about our loves."

"Hell of a slumber party," Barbara awed.

"I thought you were an island of women?" The young Robin peeped.

"We are," She stated matter-of-factly, giving Tim a puzzled look.

Tim's eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped open before he could shut abruptly. It was if he were about to say something but thought better of it.

Barbara and Donna turned to each other and laughed. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to laugh," Donna giggled unsuccessfully in her attempt to get control of her smirk. "Not everyone on the island is found on a doorstep, stolen from others... and we do have... needs."

"I'm sorry too, Tim," Barbara paused holding her teeth tightly together as if she was going to explode into laughter again. "But I did mean to laugh."

"Gee, thanks," Tim answered sheepishly.

"I'm sorry... really... it's just that... well that was the same look Dick gave me the day Bruce tried to explain the birds and the bees to him for the first time. He was only ten, and I was babysitting him that night." She laughed. "I will never forget it... he came out of the den with this... well ... kinda like... 'I thought I understood but now I'm not so sure'... look. I would have given anything to know what it was Bruce said. Dick wouldn't even tell me why the subject came up. I was lucky to have found out what the conversation was about at all."

"You got to give him credit; he was good at keeping secrets."Donna commented.

"Yeah, it comes with the costume." Tim grunted almost melancholy.

"Roy and I were discussing that just this morning. For the longest time the only thing the other members of the Titans knew about our teammate and leader was he was smart, polite, and had the cutest legs... well ok... I thought he had the cutest legs..." she corrected at the sound of snickering coming from her companions, "And his eyes were bluer than the springs of Paradise Island. But when it came to who he was behind the mask, he was worse than a palace soldier is when it came to guarding his identity."

"And that's only because he was protecting everyone else." Babs announced.

"Yeah, I know," Donna, answered.

"And they are not the easiest boots to fill," Tim agreed. "I wasn't even a kid when I started," he stated, then quickly rephrased his sentence when the girls started to laugh again. "Well not as young as he was. Anyway, it's all I could do not to scream at the top of Gotham Towers, 'I am Robin, the Boy Wonder.'" He threw his hands in the air in a mock form of victory. "Or at least beat up on a couple of the bullies at school."

"I think it was harder on Dick because the Titans were the only friends he had really," Barbara announced. "It's not like he grew up in a normal lifestyle even before his parents' death. And except for Alfred, Bruce, and me he couldn't talk to anyone about anything that happened."

"Roy said," Donna, giggled, "That once we did know who he was. It was like... Umm... lifting a rock off a geyser. There was so much pressure underneath that rock, once ya let loose we all bound to get wet."

Tim laughed for a moment, then recalled, "I guess sometimes what is a tragedy for someone can be the best thing that ever happened to others," Tim surmised, "And somehow it seems so wrong to even think like that."

"What do you mean?" Barbara encouraged.

"Well, if Dick's parents had not been murdered, we might never have met him."

"Yeah, that's true." Barbara added, "And Batman would have never had a Robin."

"I guess that is what you would call a mixed blessing," Donna agreed. "I would have never met my best friend. Never been a Titan. And probably would have never known who I am."

"I remember the day I met him," Tim offered, "It was that day. My first trip to the circus. If my dad had not convinced my mom that little boys love the circus and are not afraid of clowns and tigers, I would have never met him at all, or discovered his identity." He yawned starting to feel emotionally drained.

"You knew his parents?" Donna awed. As she poured herself and the others a glass of water from the pitcher Alfred had left in the room.

"Well, kind of. My dad said that he asked them to pose for a photo with me because he thought I would acclimate to the fact that they were a family just like we were. You know the mother, father, and son. You probably have seen the photo--it is on the wall in the hallway and in his room. My mom sent it after she heard he had been placed as Bruce's ward."

"The little boy! The one on his lap." Donna exclaimed, "I didn't realize. You have known him longer than any of us." The Boy Wonder smiled, his tired eyes fighting to stay open in the dark. "But you were so young. You probably don't have a lot of memories of that night."

The former Batgirl chuckled, "I'm sorry," she giggled, "Actually he has quite a vivid memory of that. It was how he got the job as Robin... he figured out who Batman was." They both looked over to find the Boy Wonder who was now asleep against the wall. Barbara reached over to lower the boy into her lap.

"Sweet dreams, kid." Barbara whispered. Gently wiping a tear that had fallen down his cheek.

"Funny, but if it had not been for this tragedy I might not have even met you. For the longest time, you were no more than someone else's memory, and now you are my sister." Donna smiled.

They took their glass of water and clanked them ever so gently together. "To good memories and good friends," Barbara said.

They spent the rest of the night sharing memories and dreams, and all the other things friends share, unknowingly under the watchful eyes of another.

Bruce had not been much of a host. Except for the doctor, or occasionally Alfred, he was avoiding everyone. He tried to maintain his patrols of Gotham, but something kept pulling him back. He would sit an hour with Dick, just talking, but not saying anything. Then he would wander off to his room and to bed, or so he let the others think. When he was available, he would check in with the doctor. Call the office and then disappear again. Everyone presumed it was to the cave. But most of the time, it would be to a little office behind a mirror in the ballroom. This area of the manor was rarely seen even by him unless "Bruce Wayne" was throwing some charity gala.

It had been the music room when he was a child, and the office behind the wall was actually at one time his playroom. He had simply taken out the door and added a mirrored panel. Part of the mirror was actually two-way glass; one would be surprised what kind of dirt can be dug up at a soirée, and in fact the whole mansion was riddled with hidden cameras and microphones. Just short of voyeurism.

He spent a lot of time in there watching the goings on in the makeshift ICU he had put together for Dick's care. He even built a monitoring room with the same type of glass that was used in his limousine, darkened so that the medical staff could keep an eye on him, but not disturb anyone who might want a private moment with his son. His cameras showed both rooms and the others who visited his son. He could listen in on the conversations between the doctors and the rest of the staff, and sometimes he would listen to the memories of his son's friends. He didn't feel guilty eavesdropping as Dick's friends rambled for hours about the things they did or would do again when he is up and around. If anything he felt jealousy. Dick's friends were good people, and good friends were something he never allowed himself to have until Dick came along.

It hadn't occurred to him that Tim had actually known the boy he considered a son longer than he had. And honestly it didn't matter. He was just glad that Dick had taken such interest in the boy. He sometime wondered if, given the chance, Dick could have done the same with Jason. But then it was like Tim said; a lot of things blossom in the wake of some of the greatest tragedies.

If he had been thinking, he would not have fired Dick as Robin in the first place. It wasn't that he wanted someone new to do the job; he only wanted to keep the child he considered his son safe. When Dick left, it left such an empty spot in Bruce that when Jason came along he took him in. The kid was not intended as a replacement for Robin but a replacement for Dick. Why couldn't he see at the time that they were one and the same? It seemed like the logical step when he took the costume from his former partner and gave it to his new son.

Yes, he had even taken it one step further; he had adopted this boy. He was going to be the father that he never was to Dick he was going to train him to take the mantle, follow in his father's footsteps, and to be everything he wanted Richard Grayson to be. There was just one problem... he wasn't Dick. Dick's ability to go that step further stemmed from the wonderful parents he had had growing up in the circus, as did the acceptance of responsibility. Training was a way of life for them, and so it was for their son. He was every bit the trooper, because it was what he was born to be. But Jason... Jason didn't have that. He had already been in his teens when stole the tires of the Batmobile. He had been a street urchin with no one. His dad was lowlife that ended up getting himself killed by lower lowlifes, and his mother, well that was someone he never knew... until the day Jason died.

Tears flooded his eyes as the memories came rushing in.

He was so angry at the world, and the only one he had to take it out on was the scum of Gotham and Dick. When Dick didn't show up at Jason's funeral, he had cut all ties to the kid. He never wanted to see him again. By the time Bruce found out that the Titan leader wasn't even on the planet at the time this all happened, he had already had his mindset. He needed nobody. And that was just fine by Dick. That was when Tim showed up, hunting down the leader of the Titans to try and make him return to his role as Robin the Boy Wonder. Dick said you could have scooped him off the floor with a shovel when the kid not only told him who he was, who his persona was, and who he had been before all that, but who Bruce and Jason were. Then when Tim had shown Dick some photos he had taken of a fight Batman had had with some scum who had nearly killed him when normally Batman could have taken them in his sleep, Dick had came back home to try to protect Bruce from himself.

Tim tried to tell Dick that it wasn't Nightwing Batman needed, but Robin. But then Dick knew he could never go back. Next thing Bruce knew he was being saved by a child clad in green, red, and yellow, and not long after that, he was back to training another Robin. This time was different. He was not replacing a son-Tim even still had his father--he was just training a partner. Someone to keep him in check. And in some strange way he got himself another son. For a man who had not been known to have fathered any children, at least none that DNA can prove, he had one hell of a family. One he was truly proud of.

One he desperately didn't want to lose.

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