Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

A Night on the Town

A Night on the Town

by Mara

Summary: When the Teen Titans hit Gotham for a night out, Tim wonders where he can get fitted for a straightjacket.

CONTINUITY: This certainly happens before just about anything in the last year
of Robin or Teen Titans. Or it’s an AU, if you prefer.

NOTES: I love my anal-retentive Robin. A lot. Thanks to Penknife and Illmantrim
for betareading.

* * * * *

“No,” Tim said into the phone, glaring down at the innocent piece of metal and
plastic with loathing.

“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” Kon said.

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“If you don’t come, the three of us will go without you.”

Tim was going to say ‘Fine.’ Then he imagined the havoc that could be wreaked on
the unsuspecting city if he wasn’t there to be the voice of reason. “We’re just
going to hang out?” he asked. “Batman’ll draw and quarter me if he finds out I
let you guys into Gotham.”

Sounding smug now that he’d won, Kon agreed. “Just hanging out. Normal teen
stuff. We’ll be Conner, Cassie, and Bart. I promise.”

With a sense of impending doom, Tim sighed. “Okay, I’ll go.”

“Awright!” Kon’s voice got muffled. “He went for it!”

Tim rolled his eyes. “Where should we meet?”

“Oh, um, yeah, that’s another thing. Can we borrow your dad’s car?”

* * * * *

It took all the patience he’d honed on stakeouts for Tim to not pace the living
room awaiting his friends’ arrival. Nothing to see here, he thought as he
watched Jeopardy with his dad and Dana.

“So, where did you say you met these friends?” Dana asked in the least casual
voice ever.

“At the coffee shop I go to with Bernard.” Tim mentally threw his hands in the
air. He was already doomed: There was an 85% chance Kon had some half-assed
story which he’d blurt out five seconds after walking through the door.

Dana shot his father a look. “Do they go to your school?”

“No, they’re from all around.” *That* was true, at least.

Dana was about to say something else when the doorbell rang. Tim was proud he
rose calmly from his chair and didn’t vault over the coffee table to get to the
door first.

Wrenching the door open, he hissed at the three beaming faces on the doorstep.
“Don’t volunteer *anything* and let me answer any questions.”

Startled blinks were his only answer and he turned to face the two people behind
him. “Dad, Dana, this is Conner, Cassie, and Bart.”

“Very nice to meet you,” Dana said brightly, her smile undimmed by
certain…unique fashion choices of Tim’s new friends.

His friends nodded and smiled and murmured greetings and Tim wondered if it was
too late to chuck it all and become a brain surgeon instead of a superhero. This
was much too stressful.

Especially the part where Kon had exchanged his “S” t-shirt for one that sported
a bat logo. Tim decided that Kon’s next month of workouts would tax even
superhuman strength and endurance. He’d make *sure* of that.

“So,” his dad said, “what were you guys planning?”

“Just hanging out,” Kon said.

“Something to eat,” Bart said. “I’m hungry.”

“You’re *always* hungry,” Cassie said, popping her bubble gum and shifting in
her silver high heels. Tim made a mental note to talk to her about taking a
disguise one step too far.

“Of *course* I’m always hungry,” Bart began.

“You’re a growing boy,” Tim and Kon said in unison.

Dana chuckled as Bart glared at them.

“I think we should get going,” Tim said, “if we’re going to get home at a
reasonable hour.”

Two people looked pleased he was worried about his curfew and three looked like
they wanted to say something snide about Batman’s patrol schedule.

Despite a strong desire to hide under his bed, Tim turned to his father. “Um,
the keys?”

Jack grinned. “Drive carefully,” he said, handing over the Gotham Knights key
chain. “I’m trusting you here.”

“I’ll be careful, Dad.”

“Nice to meet you,” the other three chorused as they followed Tim to where the
car was parked.

“Hey, it’s a Beemer,” Kon said. “Cool!”

“Tim, can I–”

“No way! I’m not letting you drive, Bart. I still remember the last time.” Tim
hopped into the driver’s seat and took a deep breath. He had to be positive.
After all, they were just going to hang out. What could possibly go wrong?

Tim suppressed a whimper. He was *so* doomed.

* * * * *

Burger Palace was crowded when the four superheroes got there, the grease-
scented air filled with voices and balled-up napkins being thrown from group to
group.

Bart made a bee-line for the counter and Cassie followed, muttering something
about a chocolate milkshake. Tim glanced over at Kon, who was grinning as he
surveyed the room. “It’s been too long,” Kon said.

“Too long?”

“I’ve been away from my adoring public,” Kon said.

Tim groaned. “Don’t give me that. First of all, you’re supposed to be more
mature than that now. Second, you’re not supposed to *be* Superboy tonight!”

“Quiet,” Kon said, wide-eyed and innocent. “You don’t want anyone to overhear
you.”

“I hate you.”

“I heard that.”

“I wanted you to.”

Kon punched his shoulder lightly. “C’mon, we’re supposed to be having fun,
remember?”

Tim leaned against the wall, then stood up straight hastily when he felt his
shirt sticking. “In what way is this fun?”

Kon stared at him, jaw dropping. “I can’t believe it.”

“What?” Tim almost looked down at himself, but he knew he wore the usual ‘normal
teenager’ costume–t-shirt, jeans, boots.

“You’ve forgotten how to have fun! When was the last time you did something
fun?”

Tim looked around. Several people were watching at them and he dropped his voice
to a whisper. “I can’t talk about that here.”

Kon rolled his eyes. “Not Gotham nighttime fun. I mean normal fun. Seeing a
movie. Hanging out.”

“We play video games at the Tower.”

“Doesn’t count.”

“Why not?”

“Because we all know you’re just marking time and waiting for training to
start.”

“Not true! I–”

“What’s not true?” Cassie asked, slurping at a milkshake.

Tim thought about asking what she’d done with her gum, but considering the
lengths to which she’d taken the disguise, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the
answer. “We are *not* talking about this.” Tim glared at both of them. “I know
how to have fun.”

“Fine,” Kon said triumphantly. “What’re we going to do next?”

Tim closed his eyes, counting to ten. Then he tallied up the number of current
Arkham escapees still on the lam. He was starting on all the times he’d seen
Batman and Catwoman nearly kiss when he heard Bart approach.

“What’s wrong with Tim?”

Tim wondered what they would do if he went insane on the spot. Would they be
able to tell the difference?

While Bart repeated his question–again and again–Cassie found them a booth.
Tim trailed behind as Bart dropped his loaded tray next to Cassie and Kon
strolled along, practically strutting.

Tim sighed as almost every female eye followed Kon, along with no small
percentage of male eyes. They’d no sooner sat down than three girls meandered
oh-so-casually toward them.

Blonde hair teased into identical artfully-tousled dos, the three were the
epitome of the average high school cheerleader, shirts cut down to their navels
and skirts cut up to approximately the same. Their teeth were cosmetically
white, which was obvious because they were baring them in Kon’s direction. Kon
responded automatically, preening and smiling back at them.

Bart had actually stopped eating to watch their approach, his eyes very wide.
Tim looked at Cassie, whose scowl made her look more like Wonder Girl and less
like a typical teen.

The three girls draped themselves around the booth and–not-so-incidentally–
Kon. “Hey,” one said, “haven’t seen you around here before.”

“Just visiting,” Kon said, waving generally in Tim’s direction.

All three looked at Tim, dismissed him as beneath notice, and turned back to
Kon. “Visiting from where?” the second asked in a grating little-girl squeak.

“He’s from Kansas,” Cassie said, voice cold. “And he’ll be going back soon
enough, so why don’t you run along?”

The third girl tossed her hair and sneered. “Why don’t *you* run along, kiddo?
I’m sure Handsome here’s got better things to do than hang out with *you*.”

Cassie snorted. “Bitch, please. I *know* he’s got better things to do than talk
to you.”

Kon looked at both of them and Tim tried to figure out how to defuse this
situation before it got any worse.

“Ah, why don’t we head out?” Tim said, in his best ‘meek, mild, and harmless Tim
Drake’ tone.

“Shut up!” Cassie and the three cheerleaders said.

Tim sighed and leaned his head back against the smooth plastic of the booth.

“Ladies,” Kon said with a grin, “no need to fight. There’s enough of me to go
around.”

Tim turned his head slightly, eyes narrowing. “Stop enjoying this,” he said,
softly enough that only Kon’s hearing could pick it up. Kon’s grin widened and
Tim’s eyes got narrower.

Cassie, meanwhile, was sizing up her opponents, er, the other teenagers, and was
not impressed. “So, you’re representative of girls in Gotham? Where’d you buy
your clothes? K-Mart?”

Tim and Kon winced in unison. Bart ate a cheeseburger, seeming fascinated by the
conversation.

“At least I don’t have my hair done with a lawn mower.” The girls giggled.

Cassie leaned back in her seat, but Tim could see Bart and Kon tense up;
obviously all of them expected an explosion. “My grandmother,” Cassie said, her
voice so sweet it could attract bees, “has more fashion sense than you ever
will.”

“That’s rich, coming from someone dressed like a cheap wh–”

She didn’t even have to finish the word, laughing as Bart and Tim simultaneously
grabbed Cassie’s arms, Tim nearly flattening himself on the table in order to
reach her before she could make it out of the booth.

The three cheerleaders twittered and giggled, one leaning across the back of the
booth to reach Kon’s shoulders. “Babe, why don’t you ditch these losers and let
us show you a good time?”

Kon’s smile was still congenial, but Tim could hear the steel in his voice.
“Thanks for the offer, but I think my friends and I were on our way out.”

Cassie opened her mouth, but after a look at Tim and Kon, she slid out of the
booth, closely followed by Bart and Tim. Kon nodded politely, but slipped past
the three astonished girls, who were obviously unused to such abject failure.

Tim’s neck itched, unhappy with the feeling of turning his back on the enemy,
even as he reminded himself of the unlikelihood of a weapon being fired in this
particular engagement.

* * * * *

“What now?” Tim asked, already weary as they got into the car.

“I thought you were a master of fun,” Kon said.

“Shut up.”

Bart interrupted their glaring contest. “How about if we cruise around, since
we’re in this cool car?”

Cassie settled into the back seat with a sigh. “Sounds good. Roll down the
windows. No good cruising with the windows up.”

Tim started the car as Bart leaned forward. “Hey, now can I drive–”

“No!”

“Fine.” Bart crossed his arms. “No need to yell.”

Tim gritted his teeth and pulled out of the parking lot, automatically mapping
out a route to cover the most territory in the shortest time. Kon flipped on the
radio as they turned a corner, and he, Cassie, and Bart debated their music
choices.

“No. No way.” Cassie pouted, kicking the back of the seat. “I will *not* cruise
while listening to Mariah Carey.”

“What?” Kon twisted around in his seat. “You’d prefer ‘N Sync?”

“Puh-leaze.”

Bart, beating a tattoo on the seat, chipped in. “What about the Beatles?”

Kon started to say something, but he stiffened, head tilted to one side. Tim
caught the motion and flipped off the radio as he pulled into a side street.

Bart and Cassie froze, watching Kon.

“It’s a woman. No, two women. They need help.”

“Where?” Bart asked as Tim turned into an alley and everyone jumped out.

Kon listened for another moment, then turned to the right.

“No powers,” Tim hissed as Kon started to leap into the air. Kon growled and
started running, obviously struggling to restrain his speed. Bart’s face looked
even more unhappy, but the habit of obedience was thankfully too ingrained.

As Tim ran, he realized that Cassie was using her flying ability to move faster,
but since the untrained eye was unlikely to notice, he let it go. The four of
them skidded around a corner, the sounds of struggle now obvious even to those
without super-hearing.

Four men, wearing dragon-themed jackets showing their gang affiliation, were
taunting two women, whose torn clothing and terrified expressions were more
evidence than the Titans needed. Tim automatically catalogued three knives in
hands and one gun inside the pocket of a jacket.

“Hands off,” Kon snapped. Although Tim wasn’t looking at him, he knew what the
gangbangers and victims were seeing: the true face of Kon-El. Kon did a good job
of acting the fool and most people believed it, but moments like this brought
out the implacable half-alien who had never considered any career path but that
of a superhero.

One of the men laughed at the sight of the four teens. “How do you kids think
you’re gonna stop us? Throw cell phones? Call Daddy?” He waved his knife and the
brunette he gripped by the arm whimpered.

Tim’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t want to know. Let them go and you won’t have to
find out.”

The blonde woman cried out as a second man held his knife to her throat, and Tim
heard Cassie’s low growl. “Brave words, kid,” the first man said, “but maybe
you’d better just leave us to our fun before someone gets hurt.”

“Too late,” Tim said. He glanced at the other Titans. “Remember…”

He didn’t bother to finish as Cassie punched the guy who’d spoken, hitting him
so hard his knife went flying as he fell to the ground.

Tim took the next closest, kicking him back against a brick wall, creating a
satisfying ‘crack’ as he hit and slid to the ground. By the time he’d turned,
Bart and Kon had rushed the last two, knocking them away from the second woman.
They held the men prone against a nearby dumpster.

The men struggled–to no avail–and Kon looked hopefully over his shoulder at
Tim.

Tim sighed, looking at the two astonished women, who were still frozen in place,
unable to assimilate the flurry of activity. “Ladies? Are you okay? Do you need
an ambulance?”

The brunette just gaped at him. The blonde swallowed. “I think we’re okay. They
didn’t have much time.”

Tim nodded. “Good. We’ll call the police, but my friends would like to get out
some aggression by knocking these two unconscious, if you don’t mind.”

That got the brunette’s attention. “Do it!”

Kon shifted his position a little. “So…”

“Fine.” Tim shrugged and turned to Cassie as Kon and Bart punched their captives
and the two would-be rapists slid to the ground. “Can I borrow your phone?”

“Sure.” She tossed it to him and he dialed a very unlisted number, moving around
the corner so the two women couldn’t hear him.

“Wonder Girl?” a computer-masked voice asked, picking up after one ring.

“No, it’s Robin, Oracle,” he said. “I’m on Wonder Girl’s phone. Supposedly off-
duty.”

“Ah. What’s wrong, kid?”

He could hear clicking. She was probably checking on his status and running a
voiceprint to make sure it was really him. “Nothing wrong, exactly. Just
interrupted some criminals and I need to you to arrange a police pickup.”

“Can do. Gimme me the info.”

Arrangements made, he returned to the alley. “The police will be here in a few
minutes, everyone.” Here was where things got delicate. “Ah, we’d really rather
not get mixed up in this. The police only need your testimony.”

“But…what do we tell them?” the blonde asked.

“It all happened too fast,” Tim said.

Bart laughed. “This is Gotham. You could tell them Batman showed up.”

Tim rolled his eyes and made a mental note to download a virus to Bart’s
computer at home that would play the Barney theme song every time he logged on.
“Whatever. Let’s go, unless you want to spend all night talking to the police.
Don’t worry, ladies, these guys won’t wake up any time soon.”

The women thanked them profusely as the more-or-less incognito Teen Titans
disappeared around the corner.

* * * * *

All the way back to where they’d parked, Bart pestered Tim to ‘show them the
sights’ of Gotham, despite Tim’s strenuous objections that Gotham didn’t *have*
sights.

“Other than Arkham,” Cassie said with a grin as they reached the car. “Shotgun!”

Bart and Kon groaned as Cassie hopped in the front seat next to Tim.

“I’m not taking you to Arkham,” Tim said.

“Who said we wanted to go to Arkham?” Kon leaned against the back of Cassie’s
seat, trying to get past her to the radio.

“She said…” Tim sighed. “I’m just going to drive around some more.”

With the long practice of a team leader who knew how to prioritize, Tim ignored
Kon and Cassie smacking each other’s hands as they tried to get their own music
in favor of making sure Bart didn’t lean too far out the window.

“Is that a prostitute? She’s got a really really short skirt and I can see–”

“I don’t want to know what you can see.”

“But I’m just trying to learn–”

“Bart!

With a pout, Bart collapsed back into the seat, arms crossed. “Then what am I
supposed to look at? I mean, when you’ve seen one gargoyle, you’ve seen ’em
all.”

“Hey, I never claimed Gotham was a great town for tourism.” Tim scowled into the
rearview mirror. “In fact, as you might recall, Batman would prefer you *didn’t*
visit.”

Bart sniffed and went back to looking out the window. Since he didn’t seem in
any danger of falling out, Tim concentrated on driving, while Kon and Cassie
continued to argue about music.

“Pull over!” Bart said suddenly, loud enough that even Kon and Cassie stopped
talking and stared at him. Cassie snapped off the radio.

“What’s wrong?” Tim asked, even as he neatly cut off a Mustang and slid into a
parking spot. “Don’t even think about getting sick in m–”

“That alley we just passed, the narrow one, I swear I saw several somebodies
climbing up a fire escape.”

Tim twisted around in the seat to stare at Bart. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, Bart,” Cassie said, sounding hopeful, “are you sure it wasn’t, like, a
window cleaning crew or something?”

Kon snorted. “That’s reaching, Cass.”

“I agree,” Tim said. “Okay, I’ll go check it out. You guys stay here.” He jumped
out of the car before his teammates could argue with him, knowing that once an
argument like that began, it could go on until the eventual heat death of the
universe.

Traffic was fairly light, so he dashed across the street, ignoring the annoyed
voices of the Titans left behind. If the gods were kind, then Bart was imagining
things and Tim would be back in a few moments with ammunition to tease the
speedster for weeks.

Before he’d even left the car, Tim had begun a surreptitious scan of the area,
and he was fairly certain there was nobody to see him except his team and the
occasional passing car. He eased his way into the shadow–glad for the moment of
the large number of broken streetlights–and slid to the edge of the alley Bart
had indicated.

It took only a split second to assess the situation, another split second to
curse fiercely at whatever deities were supposed to be watching over him, and an
entire two seconds to whirl around and glare at the three not-very-abashed
superheroes who were running up behind him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t give them
the lecture they deserved without alerting the miscreants he’d seen in the
alley, so he settled for a longer glare–which didn’t seem to bother any of
them.

There didn’t seem to be any point in using sign to try and convince them to stay
out of the alley, since the chances of being obeyed at this juncture were
practically nil. With a mental sigh, Tim gestured for Bart and Cassie to come in
behind him and Kon, and slid his way into the alley.

It was a matter of moments for him to clamber silently up the fire escape,
knowing that Kon would be pretending to climb, while actually flying, and Cassie
would do the same while carrying Bart with her.

The two men jimmying a window jumped in surprise when four teenagers surrounded
them, looking annoyed.

The men both had ski masks on, but it was still easy to see their looks of
shock. One began, “What the f–”

“Ah ah,” Kon said, wagging a finger in what he probably thought was an imitation
of Superman, “language.”

Tim snatched the pry bar out of the hand of the guy on the left, smacking aside
a weak attempt at a punch as he kicked the man’s legs out from under him. The
would-be burglar went down with an ‘ooof.’

Kon grabbed the other one and held him at arm’s length. “What do we have to tie
them up with?”

“I picked this up in the alley,” Cassie said, holding up a length of rope that
was grimy but otherwise useable.

Giving her a tiny smile of approval for thinking ahead, Tim nodded. “Go ahead,
then.”

Cassie and Bart quickly tied up the two men, Kon dusting his hands and looking
pleased with himself.

As the minor adrenaline rush died down, Tim sighed, waiting for Cassie to
finish. “I’ll take your phone again. We’ll leave these guys here.”

Tim handed Cassie back her phone after calling Oracle and the four of them
climbed back down the fire escape, this time conventionally, and headed back to
the car. By the time they crossed the street, Bart and Kon had begun a debate
about who would win in a fair fight between Superman and Batman.

Cassie groaned and glanced at Tim, tossing her phone from hand to hand and
giving him a strange look. “You *do* realize we could have just called the cops,
right?”

Tim blinked.

“I mean, it was an empty office building and there wasn’t any imminent danger to
anybody, so we could have called the cops and scrammed.”

Tim opened his mouth and closed it again. “Get in the car,” he said eventually.

“Just checking,” she said with a smirk.

Tim slid into the driver’s seat, briefly considering the merits of banging his
head against the steering wheel until either his head or the wheel broke.

“Okay,” Kon said, trying to pretend he hadn’t heard their conversation, “I think
we should stop driving around and actually go someplace.”

“I want to go dancing,” Cassie announced. The three guys all stared at her,
thought about what she was wearing, and swallowed. “There has to be a dance club
somewhere in Gotham!”

“We’re not exactly drinking age, Cass,” Kon said, looking very sorry they
weren’t.

“Isn’t there anyplace that’ll let us in? You know, one of those places where
they stamp your hand so you can’t buy a drink?”

Everyone looked at Tim. He started to say no, then decided that surely a club
was less hazardous than the four of them out on the street.

“Right. Club it is.” He nodded firmly, pleased now that he had a definite plan,
and pulled out into traffic.

* * * * *

Luck finally with him, Tim found a parking spot a few blocks from the club and
everyone piled out. Kon and Bart were now arguing about who was the coolest
character on Wendy the Werewolf Stalker, so Tim and Cassie walked ahead.

“So, do I wanna know how you know about this place?” Blowing a bubble with the
gum that had reappeared, Cassie looked at him sideways.

“What do you mean?” Tim scanned the side streets as they neared the bright
lights of bars and restaurants.

“I mean, I have trouble imagining you poring over the newspaper looking for live
music and dancing and clubs that let in teenagers.”

Tim ignored her and kept walking.

“So, how do you know about this place?”

Sighing, Tim gave in. “It was the center of an ecstasy ring last year selling
tainted drugs that killed three kids. I was undercover here every night for a
week.”

“Man, I am *so* cheated!” Cassie groaned. “Wonder Woman never sends me to hang
out. Nothing *nearly* that cool while I’m working.”

“Would you want to work for Batman?”

Cassie sighed. “Point.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Kon, I was right. You
owe me $5.”

Tim opened his mouth and then closed it again just as a dark shape stepped out
of the last alley, holding a gun.

“Gimme all–”

“Good *grief*,” Cassie said. “This is so stupid.”

Tim could see the would-be mugger’s jaw drop.

“Jeez,” Kon said as he and Bart came up behind them, “nice city you got here,
man.”

“Don’t blame me,” Tim said with a snort. “I do my best.”

“Well, this doesn’t happen to me in Smallville or Metropolis.”

Bart’s foot was tapping a mile a minute. “Are we going to the club or not? I
wanna dance off some energy.”

“Hey!” the mugger yelled. “If you don’t shut up and gimme your money, I’m gonna
start shooting.”

“Uh-huh,” Cassie said absently. “Seriously, Tim, I think this place has warped
you. Now I understand why you’re obsessed with crime. Gotham is insane.”

The mugger raised his gun and Tim flicked the car keys in his hand. The other
three watched with appreciation as the glittering ring arced through the air and
knocked the gun to the ground.

Bart dashed over–slightly faster than normal speed–to hold the gun down with
his foot, while the mugger gaped at them. “What should we do with this?” Bart
asked.

Tim waved at the mugger. “We’ll leave him with it. I’m sure the police can tie
it to some crime or other.”

Shock finally worn off, the mugger turned to run and Kon glanced at Tim. “Can
I?”

“Be my guest.” Tim watched as Kon took off–also slightly faster than normal
speed–and tackled the other man to the ground, ignoring an ineffective punch to
his stomach. “Cassie, give me the phone so I can call Oracle. Again.”

Tim looked at his watch as the phone rang, wondering if he could just go on
patrol instead, where his life was less eventful.

Oracle sounded like she wanted to laugh, but managed to restrain herself and Tim
tossed Cassie’s phone back when he was done. He was listening for sirens, but
trained instincts allowed him to hear a subtler sound. “Damn,” he said with
great fervor.

Kon–busy tying the mugger to a mailbox–was about to ask what was wrong when
the sound registered in his brain. His eyes widened and he seemed to consider
the merits of running away. Cassie and Bart just looked at them, confused.

From the shadows, a voice said his name and Tim decided that going insane wasn’t
enough: At this point he might want to consider asking Superman for asylum.

Sighing, he marched to his doom, slipping into the alley, leaving his worried
friends behind him. “Batman,” he said to the looming shape, crossing his arms.

“What are they doing here?”

Tim sighed again. “In theory, we were ‘hanging out.'”

“In practice?”

“Gotham hasn’t been on its best behavior.”

“And you let three metas work in Gotham?” Even in the dark, Batman’s glare
weighed a ton.

“They’re my team. The crimes were there and so were we. They did their best to
fight like non-metas. Should we have left those women to face their attackers
alone?”

Batman glared harder. “You shouldn’t have brought metas here to begin with.”

“I didn’t ‘bring’ Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash. I brought my friends.”
The more he thought about it, the more annoyed Tim got. He shifted his stance
automatically, feeling the change from defensive to offensive.

Batman saw the difference as well and his voice got rougher. “You know why I
keep–”

“Please. Like Superman has never visited. Like Wonder Woman has never been in
Gotham. And you can’t tell me neither of them ever stopped a crime on their way
in or out of town.”

“That’s not the point–”

“That is *exactly* the point.” Tim allowed his voice to rise slightly. “You
don’t trust *my* team. If you don’t trust them, then you don’t truly trust me.”

“You know that’s not true.”

He’d hit a nerve, because that voice was much more Bruce than Batman. “In that
case,” Tim said, “we’ll go back to trying to act our age.”

He turned and marched out of the alley, leaving behind a stunned mentor. The
sight when he emerged was even better: Cassie, face pale and eyes wide; Bart, on
tip-toes, prepared to start running; and Kon, still holding the unconscious
mugger half-tied.

A tiny ‘whoosh’ from behind him and he knew Batman was gone. Kon found his voice
first. “You…you just told off Batman,” he said.

“Mm-hmm.”

“You. Told off. Batman.” Kon dropped the now-forgotten unconscious mugger, still
staring at Tim as if he’d grown a third arm.

“Yes, I did. Now can we get out of here before the cops arrive?”

That got everyone’s attention and Kon toed the mugger out of his way as they
took off for the safety of the crowded club.

“So, you trust us,” Bart said from behind Tim.

“Yeah.”

“Does this mean I can drive–”

“No!”

–end–

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