Robin laid on his bed quietly. His brain seemed to hurt. It felt like five different personalities had been shoved inside his one body. He rubbed his aching temple.
This is pretty bad. Or, at least what I've seen is bad. One upbeat voice said. It sounded like Tim, but Robin wasn't sure. It felt like he was thinking it. Whenever one of them spoke it felt like he was thinking it.
Duh, it's bad! Come on, idiot, survey it all together. It is bad! Damian. It couldn't be anybody else.
Boys, shut up. We need a plan. That sure sounded like Stephanie. She seemed agitated, maybe even unnerved. That was a startling change, especially considering she was all in his mind. They all were.
Oh, yeah, like arguing with my separate personalities is going to do me any good. Dick Grayson. He knew that was Dick Grayson. He suddenly wondered who he really was. This was going to get confusing, not that it hadn't already been.
Come on! We need a game plan! We can't let this guy win! He's just like any other bad guy! We'll clobber him! That was definitely Jason. No questions asked.
You're wrong there. Slade-they all mentally flinched-is the worst villain we have ever come across. Worse than Freeze, worse than Ivy, worse than Joker. Grayson felt a little bad after he had stated that considering how Jason had gone.
Sensing his thoughts, Jason piped up. Don't go there. No pity. I knew what I was getting myself into. We all did.
This guy is dangerous though. Stephanie pointed out before silence could befall them. He's the type of guy that Bats would lock us in the cave kicking and screaming before he would let us fight. She completely ignored Grayson's wave of emotion when she thought of Bruce.
What can we do? We just need to do as Slade says. It'll keep us alive and our friends alive. That voice could only belong to Damian. He was too comfortable admitting it.
You can't just bottle up your emotions like you can when you're Robin, Grayson. He was again compelled to wonder if he was Dick. You need to share or you're going to go insane. Trust me, I know. It was Tim's voice.
How am I supposed to share? He sounded mad. He could feel anger. It was possible that was his thought.
Well, start with how you feel about your friends continuously in danger. Stephanie told him, sounding unsure. She wasn't used to helping others out with their emotions.
Okay. He began sarcastically. I'm perfectly fine with putting my friends in danger of death every five seconds if I make a stupid decision like going after the bad guy while my team does the work of trying to save the city from permanent time freeze, because I had to be the hero in catching this freak.
That's good. You're learning how to vent, sort of. Jason. Only he could see things in that light.
Okay, next topic, Grayson. How do you feel about your mom and dad dying? Damian asked.
What does that have to do with anything? His voice was much more defensive than before. The topic brought pain and depression. It hurt. Was he really Grayson?
I think the problem is deeper than your friends safety. It goes way past that. Damian stated.
He's right. Tim agreed. You've never been happy since . . . you know.
Get it off your chest. You need to. Jason added.
Skulking, Robin almost growled out loud. Sometimes he really hated his mind. A LOT! What am I supposed to say? I watched them fall. I ran to their sides, yelling at them to get up. I had just had an argument with my sister. My brother took her side. I had yelled at my parents when they tried to intervene. Then I was the only one who survived. How would that make you feel? He felt the searing pain rip through his chest. Was he really Grayson?
What about Bruce taking you in? Jason asked.
I . . . I didn't like it. The voice stated calmly.
Why not? Tim asked, too excited to be speaking in this kind of situation.
It felt like he was trying to replace my dad. His voice was ashamed. I was thankful for being taken out of Juvenile Detention, but it didn't feel right, even if he was a good man. He flinched. They all did really. None of them could keep out the feelings of another.
When you found out about Batman? Stephanie pressed.
I was excited. I had a real hero help me, save me, from my real life. His voice was cold, especially in his head. Was the body owner actually Grayson?
When you became Robin? Damian tacked on.
I was happy. I was going to end the pain. For good. I was going to carry on my family's legacy and help people. I was going to be more than some orphan. I was going to be the boy wonder. His voice was still cold, even if it had taken up a lighter tone.
When you left Batman? Tim questioned.
I was angry. I wanted him to give me a chance. I wanted to be more than a sidekick. I wanted to be my own person.
When I died? Jason.
When I died? Tim.
When I died? Stephanie.
When I died? Damian.
Hurt your friends-
Hurt your friends-
When you became Slade's apprentice?
Robin felt himself lose track of which voice had said what. All he knew was how defenseless, hurt, alone, and weak he was. He had failed everyone. Starfire, Beast Boy, Stephanie, Jason, Cyborg, Tim, Raven, Damian, himself . . . .
He sighed. Bruce only cared for Robin. He had replaced him many times. He hadn't come after him when he went to Jump. He didn't care.
Robin decided never to care about Bruce's opinions ever again.
His decision was flawed.
. . .
Slade's one eye watched the screen intently. He had been doing previous work, but when he looked at the screen, he was immediately assaulted by a strange occurrence.
Every few seconds, the boy's eyes would change color.
A deep, guilty blue was on his face that present moment. His facial features were pained, but impassive. His mannerisms were a bit off, but better than they had been as Robin. He was dark, as if he had seen a lot and suffered even more.
Then they turned a stony brown. They were dark, but didn't have as much pain as the first. It reflected fire, the burning and destruction. His mannerisms were more like Robin's, but a bit more flamboyant.
Then they were an extremely dark green. Bright, as if ignoring the torture they had endured. The mannerisms were loose, less trained, but as if they were used to damage.
Then they were cobalt. It was strained and darker than all but the first. They were the eyes of one who had killed, one who had hurt, one who had lost, but refused to give up. His mannerisms were tight, and would be easily broken by the first personality.
Then they were a bit too excited of a gray. The change was easily identifiable. His face was full of more hope, more . . . trust, but they were weary. His mannerisms were just the opposite. He seemed more relaxed and comfortable. He wasn't as trained in darkness.
None of them compared to the first.
"Interesting." He said to himself. The split personalities could be used to his advantage, but he decided to focus on the first personality. It was the most experienced and he could see the decision to stay was clear in his eyes.
Slade was going to have some issues, though. It would be harder to profile him if he had multiple personalities, especially with five. Then, each was different, yet unyielding. He would have to work harder, as if he had five apprentices instead of one. Breaking him would take longer, but he could do it.
He was the world's greatest and best manipulator.
. . .
Bruce stared at the kids in his house, scrutinizing everything about them. He had to be careful. He knew who they were supposed to be, but he had to make sure. Every one of them looked exactly like the newspaper clippings he had. He prayed he was right.
"You are the Teen Titans. You are led by Robin. He hasn't been in any major fights lately. As a matter of fact, neither have you. Why are you here." He kept his knowledge to a small point so that they didn't know about everything that he knew.
Starfire sighed, "We may be in over our heads. We . . . require assistance. The only one we could think of was you. We . . . we need help." Her eyes were pleading. In that instant he found out many things.
She and Robin had a thing. She was willing to take a hit for Robin. She was the girl.
But more importantly, he could see the pain in her eyes. She was afraid, hurt, and even guilty.
After her, he surveyed the rest of the team, doing a swift check on their feelings.
Cyborg, as they had called him in the news, looked afraid. He looked like a younger brother who was being taught how to lead would if his leader, his brother had been taken away. He avoided Bruce's eyes. Guilty.
The girl called Raven looked impassive, but to his trained eye, he could see raw fear. She was afraid of losing Robin, too. And it looked like there was something more. He narrowed his eyes.
She loved him, too.
He moved his speculative gaze over to the last of them. Beast Boy had bright eyes, but behind that he could see the untamed fear eating at him like a wild fire. Robin was his idol. This kid didn't want to loose him.
He had seen this boy before. When he and Robin had helped the Doom Patrol a few years back. Beast Boy had immediately liked Robin. Beast Boy hadn't been watching close enough when the ape, Monsieur Mallah, had sneaked up up behind him. Robin had pushed him out of the way, getting hurt himself . . . .
His eyes widened, "The pills."
They stared at him.
"Does he use his medication?" He growled in a deadly fashion.
Starfire bravely stepped up, "We were unaware he had any. There are none in his room."
With that, Batman, not Bruce Wane, stood abruptly, turning to stride to the grandfather clock. The team followed him in shock. After it had slid open, he turned toward them.
"You will explain everything." With that, he motioned them in and stepped in himself. There was a lot of explaining to do.