Number One Zero

Chapter 9

Speedy woke up completely soaked in sweat. He started to gain feeling in his arms and limbs, signs that the effects of the drug that paralyzed them were wearing off. He slowly got up, still feeling a little numb but he could move nonetheless. He took off his shirt instantly, disliking the feeling of it sticking on his skin. He listened for signs of movement in the Tower, but he found none. It wasn't surprising that he was the first of the Titans to recover, since his body was used to flushing out drugs out of his system.

His mind instantly went to Raven, since she was the only one who was supposedly functioning in the Tower. He was starting to worry about her, since they came here to the Tower. He knew the emotional toll it took on her psyche, especially with everything that was happening. He just wanted to help her, in the same way that she has been helping him through everything. And he couldn’t deny it, but he was feeling something more for the empath. She was unlike all the other girls that he dated before. Maybe it was in the way that they bonded, or how she was helping him through his problems. Whatever it was, it made him want to go up against the Boy Wonder for a chance at the dark bird’s heart.

He chuckled to himself as these thoughts swam in his head. As he was on his way to Raven’s room to check up on her, he wondered how stupid he was for even thinking of going up against a psychopath like Robin. But even before all of this trouble started, he was one of his first friends. He knew him even before the Teen Titans were formed; something of a sidekick-to-sidekick friendship. Which was why he couldn’t understand why he was doing all of this, especially his mad obsession with Raven.

Just then, he heard a loud thud echo across the hallway. He feared the worst, assuming that the sound was coming from Raven’s room. He raced toward it, wishing that she was alright. Though his legs still felt like lead, he moved against the pain and only stopped when he was right in front of her room. He punched in the access code quickly, hoping against hope that she was alright. When the metal doors did open however, his jaw dropped from his mouth at what he saw.


Raven stared at the archer dumbfounded; wondering what he was doing in front of her room, without a shirt on. But her thoughts suddenly focused on the man that was holding her, on the hands that gripped her possessively. She looked up to see Robin’s face twisted in anger. She could feel the fury coming off of him in waves, and her eyes widened in a state of panic. She completely forgot about the whole “stealing his girl” thing, and if he didn’t get to put a bullet through Speedy awhile ago, this might be his chance to finally end the archer’s life. Just because he hugged her.

“Roy, get out of here right now!” she screamed, trying to break from Robin’s strong hold.

“Raven, what’s going on?” Speedy exclaimed, utterly confused with what was happening.

“I mean it Roy! Get out of here before-“ the words died on Raven’s lips, as Robin placed his hand roughly over her mouth. She felt fear flood through her veins as his hands pressed tightly upon her lips. She no longer sensed the righteous hero that held her just moments ago. The evil master now took his place.

And that would not fare well for the archer who was standing shirtless in front of her.

“Raven,” the master breathed out. She instantly froze upon hearing her name, not knowing what was going to happen next. “I almost forgot about your little indiscretion with Mr. Harper here.” His voice sent shivers down her spine; it was so cold and devoid of emotion that she marveled at the sudden change. This only meant danger for the both of them, her mind reeling in the possible scenarios of what could happen.

He picked her up in his arms and carried her toward the bed. Speedy kept on screaming, telling Robin to put her down, asking him what he was doing, but he paid him no mind. He finally settled her on the floor and released her mouth from his bind.

“Robin, please. Please don’t hurt him.” she managed to beg, though she hated herself for it. She didn’t want to sound like a helpless victim, but in their current situation, that was exactly what she was. And that fact terrified her greatly, but she was more worried for Speedy’s fate in his hands.

He let out a soft chuckle as he took out a pair of handcuffs from his utility belt. “I’m sorry dear, but there isn’t any other fate for him. Don’t worry, you’ll get to watch him suffer.” As he said those words, he took her arms and locked them over the headboard, leaving her trapped there. He took a sticky material, like what Red-X used, and placed it over her mouth. He looked pleased with his work, as he said in such a dark tone that it made her skin crawl, “And then you’ll remember that you only belong to me.”

She started thrashing from where she sat, trying her best to break through her bindings through physical strength alone. The material on her lips clearly prevented her from using her powers. And that meant that she couldn’t help Speedy from his impending doom.

Robin! You can’t do this! You can’t kill him!” Raven screamed through their bond, as she watched him stand up to face the archer.

Of course I can, Raven. Do you know how many people I’ve killed?” he calmly replied through his thoughts.

Her blood froze in her veins in shock. Did she really want to know how much blood was on his hands? Did she want to know how far he had fallen into becoming a villain? Did she truly understand how evil he had become?

“You know what, why don’t I show you?” he suddenly thought through their bond.

Raven didn’t have time to respond as he mentally showed her his past. The last thing she saw were the two boys, standing proudly in front of the other, and then her vision completely shifted to Robin’s chilling memory.

It was a dark and cold night in New York. After their escapades in Gotham, they moved to bigger cities, taking care of their underground dealings there. Raven watched as Robin leapt through buildings in the city's lower district. He jumped from roof to roof, trying to blend in as much as he could in his apprentice attire. He finally landed in a deserted alley behind an inconspicuous club, save for a man who looked like a mob boss and his three henchmen.

He came closer to the man to start their meeting. His heart stopped when he finally saw his face. It had been more than ten years ago, but he will never forget that face for as long as he lived. His face had acquired a number of wrinkles through time, yet his hair was still jet black, just as he remembered. He wore a blue coat with a yellow polo on the inside. His face still held that sinister expression; just one look at him and you knew that he couldn't be trusted.

Was this Slade's twisted idea of a joke? Did he have any idea what his presence did to him? He could barely suppress the desire to beat him to death, or hang his lifeless body off the Empire State Building. He couldn't believe that Slade sent him to meet Tony Zucco, the man who killed his parents.

"Did Slade send you?" he asked gruffly, with a cigar in hand.

"Yes." was Robin's stern reply, trying his best to control the anger that was boiling in his veins right now.

"Then where's the money?" He was aggressive and impatient, not wanting to waste any more time than needed.

"It's being wired as we speak."

He pulled out a PDA and pressed a few buttons before a small sound could be heard, signaling that the transfer was complete.

The man gave Robin a beaming smile with a mischievous gleam in them.

"Thank you." He said with a little bow. "Pleasure doing business with you."

"Wait." he called out in a low growl, his control quickly slipping away from him.

He waited for the mob boss to face him before continuing.

"Where's the shipment?" Robin asked again, clenching his fists as he spoke.

"Oh about that," Tony Zucco said teasingly, "I'm sorry but there's been a delay. You know how custom's been getting stricter around here. Don't worry; you'll get it in two week's time."

"And you'll be gone by then." Robin spat out, knowing that what he had said was a lie and they have been fooled.

"Yeah, but you'll still get the shipment. So everyone's happy." He was trying to appease Robin, not even realizing that he already knew that there was no shipment and that he double-crossed them.

There was a part of the Boy Wonder that was enthralled that he did. That meant that he had Slade's blessing to kill the lying bastard. He was ordered that if any one of the mob bosses was stupid enough to fool them, then he could kill them all. The good part about that was he would be able to finally avenge his parents after all these years, and earn Slade's approval at the same time.

But he quickly ended his thoughts, wondering what the hell was he thinking. How could he forget everything that he stood up for as a hero? Was he in too deep in this treacherous world that killing was suddenly okay with him? Didn't he remember everything that Batman taught him? Had he forgotten how wrong it was to exact revenge, no matter how tempting it may be?

No, he couldn't. He couldn't kill Tony Zucco no matter what happened. He can't take that one step that would make him just like the villains he used to catch on a daily basis. Even if it meant that he was going to earn a beating from Slade later. Even if it felt like he was spitting on his parents' graves.

He was still Robin, the Boy Wonder after all. And Robin didn't kill people.

He clenched his fists so hard that his knuckles were turning white, the only sign of the war that was raging in his mind. But he quickly snapped out of his reverie when Tony Zucco opened his mouth once again.

"Hey, don't I know you?"

Robin's heart stopped in his chest. Was it possible? Could he have recognized who he was? Did the mob boss know he was the one who killed his parents?

"Aren't you Robin, one of the Teen Titans?"

Now that was something he did not expect.

He glared at Zucco, not wanting to indulge the murderer any longer. His resolve not to kill him was quickly slipping, now that he knew that he was a hero on the wrong side of the law.

Well, not willingly. But still...

The mob boss started laughing, a mocking sound that made Robin's blood boil. "I never thought I'd live to see the day that one of you costumed heroes went to the dark side. Now you'll see how fun it actually is!" He started bellowing out in laughter once again.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Robin replied, trying to play it off as a mistake.

"Oh please, you look exactly the same, except the suit. But that's easily changed right? I suppose its cause you switched sides. It's actually a big improvement to your old get-up." He threw his cigar on the floor and stubbed it with his leather, expensive-looking shoes.

"Hey, I'm heading to Jump City after this. I'll let your teammates know what you're up to." He let out another laugh. "Oh man, they will freak out when they find about you. Especially that creepy chic with the hood. I bet she'll finally have some emotion on her face when she learns what you've been doing here in New York." He threw his head back in laughter, completely forgetting the man who was before him.

Robin was fuming. He knew what he said about still being a hero, about sticking to his morals that he had been upholding his whole life. But when he mentioned the Titans, when he talked about Raven, all heroic sense flew out of the window. This was the man that murdered his parents. This was the man that destroyed any sense of normalcy in his life. And now he was going to hurt the one person that kept him going, no matter how twisted his situation was.

It was in that moment that he made his decision. This was the last time that this filthy man was going to hurt his loved ones.

Because of his boisterous laughter, Tony Zucco didn't even notice that most of his henchmen were slumped on the ground already. It was only when he opened his eyes to catch his breath did he see how bad his situation was. He looked all around him and he was the only one standing in that alleyway.

Except of course, for the man he had been mocking for the last five minutes.

Robin suddenly appeared in front of the mob boss and held his neck in a vice-like grip. He lifted the man with just his arm; his feet dangling off the ground.

"Tony Zucco, this is going to be the last time you ever hurt anyone."

"Wait!" he shouted out in desperation. "Isn't this a little too much? I'll get you the shipment back, I promise! I can even get it for you tonight if you want."

"Can you bring my parents back?" Robin asked, his voice so low that it didn't even seem to belong to him anymore.


"I said," his voice was so loud, he was almost screaming, "Can you bring my parents back? Can you bring the Flying Graysons back from the grave?!" He raised him higher from the ground now, showing off his strength.

"It c-can't be." he stammered in fear, "you're Grayson's son?"

A twisted smirk suddenly lit up on his lips. "And you will die knowing that."

He broke his neck with an audible crack and dropped his lifeless body to the ground.

Raven gasped within her mind, bearing witness to the whole thing. She felt everything he was feeling in the memory. The overwhelming hatred, the confusion in his decision, and the thrill he got from killing Tony Zucco, from extracting his revenge.

And she knew how it felt so good.

Her consciousness came back to the present just in time to see Speedy’s bruised and battered body as compared to Robin’s perfect physique. The archer’s moves were sluggish and weak, probably because the effects of the drug that haven’t worn off completely. Robin, on the other hand, had a mischievous smirk on his face, admiring the fact that he was easily winning against his opponent. Speedy threw a weak punch at him, which he simply dodged and gave one of his own attacks to his stomach. This instantly sent the redhead to the floor, clutching his midsection in pain.

Raven started to panic in her mind. If she didn’t stop Robin soon, she might have to bury one of her closest friends. And she’d be damned if she ever let that happen.

“Robin stop! You can’t do this!” she screamed through their bond, thrashing in her restraints as she did.

“Oh hello Raven. Nice of you to join us.” he replied through his thoughts, not even sparing a look toward her as he knelt down to Speedy’s broken form. He started punching his face, aiming to give the archer a hemorrhage.

“Robin please, you can do what you want with me. Just don’t kill him! Please!” she tried again, though she knew her attempts were in vain.

Robin didn’t even acknowledge her this time. He just went on and continued beating Speedy to a pulp.

“Richard, stop!” she pleaded, desperate for anything to work.

Robin instantly stopped when she used his real name. His whole body froze when he heard it; his arm in the air, ready to hit his poor victim. But the punch never came. His arm dropped to his side and he slowly stood up to face Raven, an unreadable expression etched on his face.

He gave one last kick to Speedy’s side, making him unconscious. He then walked toward Raven ever so slowly, as if he was in deep thought. She just gazed upon him, not knowing what was going to happen next. When he finally came upon her, he took the handcuffs from her wrists, and slowly brought her up to her feet. She looked at him intently, trying to decipher what he was doing when he quickly ripped off the sticky material from her lips. Her face contorted into an expression of pain for only a moment, before she reined back her serious look. She couldn’t go for her stoic face, not with everything that was happening. Not when Speedy was lying on the floor…

She tried to race toward the archer, to heal his wounds before any major damage could be inflicted, but before she could make a single step, Robin held her in her place.

“Not yet, my little bird. We still have some things to discuss before I leave.” he whispered to her ear as he pressed a button on his belt and they were instantly transported on the roof of the Titans East tower. She gazed upon the endless night sky, watching the city lights from where they stood. The night breeze was all around them, softly caressing their bodies where they stood, almost in each other’s arms.

Robin didn’t let go of her arms, still holding her where she was. A soft smile played on his lips before he said, “It’s been a long time since anyone called me Richard.”

“It is your name, isn’t it?” she replied playfully, momentarily forgetting the harm he just caused her friend.

But instead of feeling anger toward the man who was holding her, she only felt a desperate need to help him. She wanted to accomplish what Batman had set her out to do. She felt compelled to save him from the evils that were eating away at his soul. After seeing his memory with her own eyes, she could understand the pain that he experienced, the confusion, the fear, the hurt. But she completely forgot about the pleasure that he felt as well.

“Yes, it is my name. More so even now.” His lips opened into a sincere smile, one that would take any girl’s breath away, even Raven’s.

She looked down from his angelic features before she continued with what she was going to say. “Listen Richard,” she felt like using his real name. After all, it did prompt him to show some mercy toward Speedy. “you can forget about the Titans, forget about everything that happened. I saw what happened with Tony Zucco, and I..” her words faltered upon her lips, as she questioned if she was really doing the right thing, the one thing that could help them all. “I understand.” She looked up to face him once again, trying to read his expression to see what he was thinking with her words.

His eyes were wide in surprise, still not fully taking in everything that she was saying. She took this as a good sign to continue. “I understand what you felt when you killed him. And I won’t condemn you for it. Sure it was the wrong thing to do, but he was the one who killed your parents. It was your own revenge. I know how much your parents’ deaths haunt you even until now. And at least you can have some closure with his death.” She paused to take a breath, and to try to gauge the look on his face. He was starting to understand what she was trying to say as his face relaxed a little. But she wasn’t through just yet.

“That’s why you should put some closure to this chapter, too. You can move to another city, leave the Titans and start a new life there. If you want to do the whole vigilante thing, I’m sure you can still find a way. Look Richard, you can still run away from this whole mess. You can have a fresh start somewhere else. Just please, leave them alone. Please.” She practically begged at the end, desperate for him to end his vendetta with the Titans.

He let out a soft chuckle as he buried her into his arms, as if he was already giving his answer. “I’ll admit, I like the whole idea of starting in a different city. I’ll look into that, thanks.” But his smile instantly faded with what he had to say next. “But Raven, you already know my answer to that question. I’ll only leave them alone if you come with me. Despite all the things that you’ve seen me do, despite the fact that you watched me almost murder Speedy, you still have to come with me. If you want the Titans to be left in peace, then you’d have to give yourself to me.”

Raven broke away from his grasp to look at his face. She gazed upon the man before him, seeing the darkness that was inside him now more than ever. But she couldn’t help but have hope in her heart that he still had some good left inside of him. She had to believe that, or else the trust that Batman placed in her would be in vain. She couldn’t give up on him, even with everything that she had witnessed. She had promised him that much. And she always kept her promises.

She placed her hand on his cheek, softly caressing the warm skin with her thumb. “I’m not giving up on you, Richard. I know there’s still some good left in you.”

He suddenly let out a boisterous laugh at what she said. She instantly pulled her hand back, surprised at his sudden reaction. Her face twisted in confusion; she was at a loss with what he was doing.

“Oh Raven, you have it all wrong.” He said, shaking his head. “There is no good left in me, well except my mad, obsessive love for you. If you could call that good.” Her expression didn’t change one bit, and so he continued with his explanation.

“If you’re looking for your leader, the hero, the Boy Wonder, then you should be calling out to Robin, though I doubt you’ll find him. You see, Robin is my hero identity. He’s the one who saves the day, he’s the one who never gives up and still fights for what is right even if he’s dying already. And I have been Robin for so long, almost all my life. But that run-in with Zucco reminded me of my human side, of being plain ol’ Richard Grayson. Now he’s just human, he’s corruptible; he can fall into the darkness that surrounds him. And on that day, he finally did. He couldn’t let the murderer of his parents walk free just because he was bound to some stupid hero morality. And so, I killed him. Me. Richard Grayson. Dick. The boy who watched his parents fall to their deaths. The man who’s seeking revenge against his uncaring teammates. The man who’s madly in love with you.”

Raven simply stared at him, dumbfounded. She didn’t expect that coming from him. And now she was at a loss. Who was this man in front of her? Where was Robin? Where was her righteous leader who fought against evil? The better question was: was he still there?

Before she could make sense of what he said, a giant helicopter suddenly came out of nowhere and flew right in front of the Tower. Gusts of wind blew through the roof, almost blowing her away, if it weren’t for his strong arms that kept her in place.

“Well there’s my ride. Have to get going now.” He suddenly informed her, breaking her from her thoughts. He placed a hand underneath her chin before he whispered to her ear, “How about a little souvenir before I go?” Before she could give a reply, he placed a passionate kiss upon her lips. He was rough with his kisses, forcing her to respond to him. She had no choice but to kiss him back, even if her mind was still confused. He bit on her lower lip before finally letting her go. “Goodbye, little bird. ‘Til we meet again.” He had his lips in a contented grin as he dropped his arms, freeing her from his grasp. Her mouth was still slightly open, failing to catch up with everything that was happening. He let out a little chuckle, finding her cute with the current expression dancing on her face.

Just then, the doors opened wildly to reveal a very angry Cyborg, Starfire, and Bumblebee to the roof. They were finally free of their paralysis and were enraged by Speedy’s current condition. And they knew right away who could have done such a thing to the archer.

Cyborg aimed his sonic cannon right at Richard. “I’m giving you up to the count of ten to surrender quietly before I fire this thing at your face.”

Richard only let out a chilling laugh, not even phased by the cybernetic teen’s words. Paying him no mind, he bent down and whispered to Raven’s ear. “And for your punishment…”

Before anyone knew what was going on, Richard punched her in the stomach, making her drop unconsciously to the floor. The other Titans were surprised to say the least at what he had done. Apparently, all his promises of love flew out the window with what they just saw.

Taking advantage of their shock, Richard made a few flips and jumped toward the helicopter. With almost impossible precision, he landed right inside it, ordering the pilot to take them away from the Tower as he cockily waved at the remaining Titans. Cyborg fired his sonic cannon while Starfire shot a few starbolts at the aircraft, but it easily dodged the attacks as it flew away to the horizon.

“Damnit! Get the T-ship ready! We’re going to follow that damn bastard and I’m going to wipe that cocky grin off his face!” Cyborg shouted out, fuming with anger.

Bumblebee placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him down. “Look, I know you want to catch the guy, but none of us are in the right condition to chase after him. The effect of that paralyzing drug thing hasn’t worn off completely, and both Raven and Speedy are down. We can’t chase him, not like this.” She gestured to Starfire, trying her best to pick up Raven from the ground, but with much difficulty since her arms were still numb from the drug.

Cyborg let out a sigh, finally seeing Bumblebee’s point. Her lips curved into a smile, glad that he finally calmed down. They approached Raven together, moving to help the two girls. “Plus,” Bumblebee added, “we don’t have a T-ship.”

When Raven finally came to, it was morning already. The sun shone brightly from the windows of the Titans East common room. She slowly got up from the sofa, still feeling sore from everything that had happened last night.

Her eyes opened in a panic as she stood up abruptly, wanting to check up on Speedy at once.

“Oh, hey Rae. Good thing you’re awake-“ Cyborg began greeting her when he realized that she was rushing off to exit the room.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. You should take it easy. You just got attacked by Robin.” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder, stopping her from going any further. The other Titans suddenly turned to her as well. They were all in the common room getting ready for breakfast when Raven suddenly woke up.

“But what about-“she interjected, but was cut off by a familiar voice from their giant TV, which suddenly opened.

“Speedy? Oh he’s fine. He’s recuperating in the med bay.” Richard was suddenly staring at them through the TV screen, somehow controlling the transmission.

“What do you want Robin?” Cyborg replied coldly, as the other Titans stood at attention, watching the TV with burning determination in their eyes.

“Oh nothing, really. Just wanted to see if Raven was alright.” He instantly focused his gaze on her, who still looked at him with a confused expression on her face.

“Anyway, since my little bird is so worried about our resident archer, why don’t I show you how he is? In fact, why don’t I show you what he was just doing last week?” Richard’s playful voice was the last thing they saw before the screen shifted to Speedy. And all their jaws dropped at what they saw.

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