Mens rea

The curtain falls

Mad Mob couldn't help but burst out into laughter. Not only had he robbed one of the most prestigious banks in Jump City, but he once again caught the Teen Titans. Spinning on the toe of his black shoes, the British villain twirled his ruby gem cane in his hand. "Oh my duckies, Christmas has indeed come early this year."

In front of him, the four Titans were bound to chairs within a school gym that had been closed during the summer for remolding. Beastboy and Starfire struggled against their ropes.

Mad Mob shook his head, tilting the cane in Star's direction. "It's useless my darling. Those ropes were made especially for you children, which I must say have been very naughty."

Cyborg barked at the crazy man, "Let us go right now or I promise we won't go easy on you."

The villain cackled, "Good threat, my dear boy but I'm prepared this time." Turning, he snapped his fingers at the tall silver robots. "Get the projection screen."

Raven's eyes glowed black and pushed her dark magic forward but the small wave fizzled out only an inch beyond the ropes. Mad Mob clicked his tongue, "Tsk, tsk Raven. I thought you would know better."

"I do," frowned Raven, trying to keep her voice calm of the anger she was starting to feel, "But don't get too cocky, Mad Mob. Robin will come."

Bursting out into full out laughter, Mad Mob wiped a single tear from his eye. "Dearie, that dashing lad you call Robin is nothing. It's clear enough seeing that he's not present here at the moment. Also, after that whole event where I took away his youth, I realized that Robin is a mere child without his team." Waving his cane at each Titan, the red-hair sunglasses clad Brit grinned, "You Titans are the true threat. And with you guys out of the way, taking over the world will be so easy that I'll be able to have my tea at 3 o'clock sharp."

Beastboy stuck out his tongue, "Yuck, tea!"

Mad Mob's hand clenched hard on his cane as he glared at the green boy. "Don't you dare-"

"Just you wait," flashing a toothy grin, Beastboy stuck his tongue out once more, "Robin's been training, and that's why he's been gone. And once he arrives, he's gonna kick your butt!"

Mad Mob coughed, his shoulders shaking with building rage. "Enough talk my duckies, time to get serious." Turning his back, he made his way to the computer console.

As the Titans tried to distract Mad Mob, Robin was standing in front of a mirror in Titans Tower. His blue eyes were squeezed shut behind his mask. The closet doors were pushed open enough to allow a small hand to slide between them and pull out a certain outfit.

Slade shook his head, "Open your eyes boy."

The boy did as he was told, eyes soaking in the reflection before him. The blazing R shone like a beacon from his chest against the red backdrop. The green tights that were a little lose and short balanced out the top. Splashes of yellow shone from beneath his black cape but the utility belt and the letter R only reminded him of its' harsh presence.

"I-I can't."

Amusement exploded from Slade. The man was sitting in the boy's chair, legs crossed at the ankles and his arms resting on the arm rests. Soft laughter wheezed through the slits of his mask. "You've mustered enough courage to put the stupid uniform on, can't chance it putting it on again if you take it off."

"I, I can't mo-ve."

"Well that's a shame, considering you have to get out of the Tower, fly over to Jump and then beat up a bunch of bad guys."

Hands shot up and Robin grabbed hard onto his hair, "It's just been awhile, that's all. It will be like riding a bicycle…right, Slade?" The boy sounded so unsure of himself, just like a child would ask their father if the answer to a question was true.

"Right," drawled out the villain, lacking the fatherly support in his tone, "And there goes the denial once again."

"Denial," Robin's shoulders sagged, "It's so hard not to slip into it."

"Just like a drug, huh?" Slade let out an abrupt chuckle as Robin glared at him, "Save the savagery, boy, for the fight. Speaking of which, we better get going."

Robin eyed himself once again, fighting back the pain and bile that was rising in his throat. It was like Slade said, the Titans and Jump City were expecting Robin to come and save them, not this tame ex-prisoner. Fingers curled into themselves with in the gloves. When had he become so…docile? He used to be an exploding canon before the prison. At first, he thought that he was like Bruce, sliding into the costume and become that raging fighter. But it wasn't happening.

Robin groaned. Slade mirrored his dissatisfaction by sighing, "What now?"

"I can't fight, not in this."

"And why not?"

"This uniform, it was a way for me to vent out my sorrow and despair at the world by taking out the criminals. Yet now, that righteous fury is not there anymore."

"Maybe it just needs a different outlet," stated Slade as if the conclusion was known to the world.

Robin tilted his head towards the man, "What-"

Slade uncrossed his ankles, pushing himself upwards so that he could prop his forearms on his legs, "You view those colors differently now. All they remind you of is the pain and humiliation of the prison. But that fury is still within you, remember the fight with the guard on the beach and how you interacted with Slade and the Titans on the boat."

Robin nodded, listening to the dark voice intensely as the voice continued. "So, you just need to find different colors that are not red, green and yellow and I bet that fury will gush out of you like Old Faithful."

The raven hair shook about the small head. Reaching out, Robin grabbed a small rubber band and tied the hair into a small ponytail. "And what do you have in mind, considering I don't have time."

Slade pointed to the closet. Robin peered through the small opening, spotting a slim black uniform with traces of orange on it. It was Slade's apprentice uniform.

"No."

"It doesn't have any of the colors on it."

"No!"

Reaching out, Robin slammed the closet shut. Yet, he could still feel the burning anger of the memories of his apprentice radiating from the dark uniform. "W-we should get going-g."

Robin's eyes widened when he felt a cold hand grab his shirt by the neck behind him. Emitting a tiny yelp, he was flung backwards, landing hard onto the ground. Rolling up, he was about to bounce onto his feet when a fist slammed into temple. The large hand pinned his throbbing head onto the floor.

"Robin, Robin. When are you going to learn that you should listen to me? We do not have time to argue and we can agree clearly that you cannot leave this Tower, heck this room, in the traffic light uniform. But, that fury you were talking about…it came back didn't it?" Leaning down, the ghost whispered into Robin's ear, "That fury will win you the fight. Just put it on, for a mere hour at most."

Regaining his breath, Robin tried to shrug off Slade but the man had a good grip on him. Sighing, he let his body relax, waiting for the other to release him. He wouldn't give in to this nightmare. It wasn't just that he was stubborn, but Robin knew from what Egyed told him: not to give into the ghost constantly or his strength would continue to grow. Putting on the uniform would be like a super boost for the ghost. Swallowing, Robin gritted his teeth. It was clear to him that Slade's power was waning and it would continue to wane as long as he said no.

Eyes gazed at the ground, realizing that he was a few inches away from the box. It was strange that he had received a package after his return. He never got packages, except for the occasionally ones from Alfred and this box was not from Gotham City. In fact, narrowing his eyes, Robin caught the faded word of Indonesia on the bottom of the box.

A package from Indonesia? But he didn't know anyone from there-

"Maura."

"What?" Slade released his grip allowing for them both to rise on their feet.

"I don't know what she sent, but I bet she's still thinking I'm still hers." Reaching out, he pulled the box towards him. Using a rang, he sliced open the top. Folding back the lids, he pulled out a small white envelope. Setting it to the side, he pushed back the straw till he spotted very familiar clothes. It was his Robin uniform that he had wore in the prison till he had to change into those single colored ones. Pushing back the uniform, he spotted the uniforms of red, green and yellow folded neatly under it. Seeing the dirty, ragged uniforms caused something in him started to boil. Despite the distance, Robin could feel Maura's rough hands rub his back. She had made him tame, made him so self-conscience that he couldn't even leave the island in fear that everyone would slam him back into his old self. Snarling briefly, he pushed the box into the wall.

Dusting off his shoulders, Robin gazed out his window, his mind made up. He wouldn't bow down to Maura no longer. "I have to wear these colors, Slade." Gulping, he clambered around in himself to grab the courage to face a world he left behind so long ago. "It's not about me or my comfort. It's about rescuing the Titans, about being a hero."

Turning, he walked towards the door as it slide open. "It's time for Robin's last performance."

Stepping beyond the doorway, he walked a couple step before halting. Sighting, he turned slightly to gaze behind his shoulder, "You coming or what."

Slade joined him out in the hallway, his eye narrowed in displeasure. "Fine, I will, if only to see you crash and burn. Maybe then you'll realize that maybe it would have been a good idea to wear my colors."

Robin let his lips curl up into a smile. Without a mere word, he sprinted through Titans Tower. Tonight wasn't just facing up to the world and letting go of Robin. It was also about letting go of what Maura had done to him, all the psychological trauma whose results manifested themselves into his own personal Slade. Robin knew that tonight wouldn't solve all his problems, that given a few years he might be back to his cocky self, but it was a step in the right direction.


The British villain glanced quickly over his shoulders to the quiet Titans. The young heroes were still in their same position, glaring daggers at the screen. He had yet to turn on the hypnotism screen, but what was the rush. Robin hadn't been seen in Jump City for about four months. Whatever the reason the annoying hero was gone wasn't of his concern, all he knew was that he had to seize the opportunity.

And that came in a big white glowing money symbol on the screen. Finally, the bonds he stole had been transferred into his bank account over in London. Beautiful, just beautiful. Now it was time to start phase two with the brainwashing of the Titans.

Snapping his fingers, Mad Mob cried out to his robots, "Start the machine!"

All that responded was the clattering of metal as it hit the floor. Shifting on his feet, the red-haired criminal peered over his console to see the large pile three robots had became. Hearing a soft whip of air, his eyes turned upwards, "Wh-"

Pushing himself backwards, Mad Mob barely missed the green fist that went flying by, crashing into the computer console. Staggering, he eyed as a small figure landed before him, pulling out the fist from sparking wires.

"R-"

Starfire beat him to the punch, "Robin!"

Yet the newly arrived hero did not hear or acknowledger her cry. Robin curled in on himself before launching off. Mad Mob swiped his cane downward to block a fist. "Well, well, well if ain't Robin. Jolly good timing."

Robin landed on the ground, his mouth set into a tight line. The Brit chuckled, twirling his cane. "It's been a long time, kiddo. I was wondering where you were." He waited for the expected loud mouth remark, but nothing pounded against his ears. This was strange, strange indeed.

"No use pondering on it," snide Mad Mob. Pointing the jewel top at the lithe figure, he yelled, "Get him!"

Robots poured out from the hallways encircling the brightly clad hero. Mad Mob bolted behind one of the robots, knocking his cane into him. Robin stood up straight, eyeing each robot with a non-expressive face.

One robot decided it had waited long enough and struck out with his large metal fist. The fist only made contact with air as Robin ducked. Not wasting time he ran underneath the arm, pulling out a birdarang. With a snap of his wrist, he sent the blade slamming right into the robot's chest. Life draining out of it, Robin leapt upon the corpus, pouncing on the next one. Frog-hopping over it, he let the bullets that rained from the attacking robots destroy its' own comrade. Landing on his feet, he danced between the kicks and punches his mind remembering a time when robots were crazed prisoners doing similar actions.

This was second nature to him, just like breathing. As another robot exploded, Robin reached down and frowned slightly when he realized that he was out of his blades. Well, no problem. Pulling out his bow staff, he stabbed it straight into the chest of a still flaying robot. Using the pole to vault, Robin rammed his feet into the oncoming robot. Letting go, he did a front flip before landing hard on his feet. Reaching out, he picked up a curved metal arm piece and sliced at the robot's lower side, wires spilling out of him. Jabbing the piece into the back, he grabbed the gun from the robot's hand, swinging out with it knocking off the next's robot's gun and then slamming into its' face.

The brutal fight and changing of weapons continued on for a few more minutes. In the background, the Titans had their mouths wide open. The savage scene before them was an eerie déjà vu of when Robin went ballistic on Slade's robots. But back then when they could feel the hurricane of blinding anger from Robin, this time it was like a tornado: tightly concealed together leaving a narrowed path of utter destruction in its' wake.

"There was a bit more hostility, something darker that wasn't there before," Slade's words bounced in their minds, "It's honed in and restrained…once his shock wears off and his injuries heal, this new attitude will reveal itself in all its' glory."

The Titans gulped in fear when the last robot fell to the ground in a complete mess. Without taking a breather, Robin ran past them tackling Mad Mob, who had stayed near the hypnotism machine ready to talk Robin into stopping by treating his friends. Yet, the hero did not give him the rehearsed 'Halt-you-fiend' speech.

In three precise boxer-like hits, Robin managed to lock Mad Mob's hands behind his back and hold the cane tightly under his neck. "Now listen here, Mob, you're going to deactivate the machine and call off all your robots or…" Robin pushed the cane lightly onto man's windpipe.

Mad Mob couldn't help but shudder when that cold voice slithered down his neck. Robin had never talked to him in such manner. There were rumors that the boy was a bit dark when it came to Slade, but he wasn't Slade.

"Well?" the deep rumble of the word made Mad Mob sweat even more. This truly was the Batman's kid.

Three more robots marched into the room, aiming their guns at Robin. Mad Mob closed his eyes. Licking his lips, he snapped open his eyes, "Fire!"

Robin's eyes widen as the robots commenced the order. As a bullet snipped at his arm, the image of Mad Mob fizzled out leaving Robin only to holding onto a bullet-ridden robot and the cane. Grinding his teeth, Robin snapped the cane in half throwing the ruby top into one robot's head. Leaping forward he jumped into the air, kicking off a robot's head while flinging over his shoulder the end piece of the cane into the last robot's chest.

Rolling onto the ground, Robin stopped in front of the Titans. Rising up slowly, he eyed the destruction around him. Wiping away the sweat from his brows, the hero reached down and pried out a bird-a-rang.

Walking towards the Titans, he did not meet their wide-eyes. Beastboy was the first to recover. "Dude, you're like a one-man army!"

Robin bent down and began to cut off Cyborg's restraints. The older boy gazed down at Robin; his face betraying the weariness that the one freeing him might go off and attack him at any moment. "That must have been some prison, if you learned how to fight like that."

Moving onto Raven, the raven-haired boy ignored the sharp tone. On the other side, Slade was eying the non-salvageable robots. "He's getting away, Robin."

Pausing, he let Raven wiggle herself free from the ropes. Taking in his distant look, Raven turned and used her magic to unbind Beastboy from his chair.

"When did he change?" Robin turned and looked down at the robot that had been Mad Mob. And image of the Brit touching the robot flashed in his mind. He had thought that it had been a mere mistake but it seemed he should give the villain a bit more credit.

Slade narrowed his eye in an approved manner. "Now, where did he go?"

Robin closed his eyes, recalling the fight in his mind. His sensitive hearing and smell was gone since he had returned, but he was still jumpy and aware of his surroundings than normal. A flash of red sparked his mind. Dropping the rang, he ran past the loud yells for him to stop from the Titans.

Kicking open the steel door, he left the hideout and ran down the escape stairwell towards the roof. Mad Mob was the type of villain that liked to broadcast his hypnotism, so one would assume to go for the roof. But deep down, the villain was a wanna-be gentleman and as such had a tendency to walk right out the front door for it was the proper thing to do.

With a burst of energy, he flung open the fire-escape door of the abandoned school. And true to his nature, there was Mad Mob walking off towards a stylized black truck. Smirking, Robin ran towards the villain.

Mad Mob sighed with relief as he carried the last load of cash with him to the truck. He had sent every robot to fight Robin. That blasted kid just did not know when to leave things the hell alone. Thus, while his robots were being destroyed, the villain had to carry all the money himself to his truck. Mad Mob had worked as quickly as he could, but it was not easy carrying about 20 to 30 pounds of cash.

The crunching of steel boots made the thief halt. Turning his head slowly, Mad Mob couldn't help but feel as if the world was moving extra slow. "Bugger."

He felt Robin tackling him, wondering briefly how such a small, skinny boy had the power of a heavy-set football player. Crashing onto the ground, he watched as the cash bag fell onto the ground sending green bills with Franklin on them fluttering up into the air.

"No…"

"Mob, you're under arrest." Robin raised himself slightly so he could interlock the man's hand and make them face palm downwards. Snapping on the handcuffs, he raised himself onto his feet bringing the villain with him. "Better luck-"

"Mommy its Robin!"

Robin looked across the street to the gathering crowd of pedestrians. A little boy with blond hair and sky blue eyes tugged at his mother's hand, pointing at him. "Lookie!"

The mother with her own startling blue eyes smiled warmly at her son for a brief second, "Yes, honey that is Robin."

The crowd began to cheer, calling out Robin's name. "He's back!"

"Finally, about time kid."

"Oh my god, where's my camera?"

"We've missed you!"

"Good job, kid."

The other Titans arrived earning an even grander applause as more people stopped to see what the commotion was about. Cyborg walked up to Robin, waving and smiling to the crowd. Tilting his head, he whispered to Robin, "Good thing you showed up. See this ain't bad now is it?"

Robin merely shoved the cuffed Mob into Cyborg's arms. "I'm sorry."

Cyborg paused, dropping the cheerful act. Turning his full attention that the boy, he felt something shift in the younger lad. The deadly aura had retreated leaving a nervous boy behind.

Swallowing, Robin shouted to the crowd, "I'm sorry!"

With that said, Robin sprinted down the street. He heard gasps and Starfire calling out his name. The colors of his uniform were burning his skin now. He had been able to ignore the pain during the fight, but now that it was over it came back in full force. All these people saw him as the old, innocent hero of yesterday. He could see it in their eyes and the guilt of playing on their innocence had made him apologize to the citizens of what he was about to do. It was the main reason he had avoided the city all this time. It would bring back painful memories of what could no longer be. Jump City was Robin's city, not his, whoever he was. Pulling out his grabbling hook, he shot it towards the nearest skyscraper before flying into the night. This had been Robin's last night and it ended the best way he could imagine it: with deafening cheering.

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