The apartment is quiet. Alex can barely see a thing, she turns on her night vision. She sees Tim walking in front of her.
The apartment of Margaret Blake, mother of Darin Blake, has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a family room and kitchen. It’s small.
Alex watches her steps carefully. Her and Tim don’t want to wake up Margaret. In the middle of the family room lies a couch. Alex hears snoring coming from it and movement. Must be Darin.
Tim turns to Alex and holds his palm flat towards her, telling her to stop. Tim bends over the couch and places his hand over Darin Blake’s mouth. Waking the man from his slumber and muffling his screams.
“Shhh!” Tim raises his index finger from his free hand to his lips. “Don’t want to wake up your mother, do you?” He whispers threatening Darin.
Alex restrains her self from punching Darin until he gets a hemorrhage. She knows that she needs to leave her emotions out the window.
Tim keeps his hand over Darin’s mouth and wraps his free arm around Darin’s neck and drags him out of the apartment. Alex continues to follow behind him, holding herself back from screaming in anger at the man that killed her brother.
Tim holds onto Darin as he swings to the adjacent building and Alex follows suite. Tim throws Darin onto the roof.
“What the hell?! I didn’t do nothin’!” Darin yelled after his body hit the hard rooftop.
Tim walked over to Darin and ‘cuffed his hands behind his back, then walked back to Alex.
“Okay, Black Robin. You have to control the talk. Don’t let him walk over you. Show him fear, guilt, shame. Get him to tell us what we need to know.” Red Robin whispered.
Alex walked towards Darin.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked.
Alex ignored the question and bent down beside him. Darin was lying on the rooftop, his back facing the sky.
“Alright, scumbag!” Alex began strong. “Why’d you kill those kids!” Alex yelled.
“I ain’t scared of you! Never seen you before! You a noob at this game, you dunno whatchu talkin’ bout!” Darin yelled back at Alex, “But, listen girly, if it’s a lesson you need, I’ll teach ya a few things. Know what I mean?” Darin tried to be smooth.
“Wanna know something?” Alex whispered in his ear. “I could break you in two right now, Doctors wouldn’t know how to put you back together. And I wouldn’t even have to break a sweat.” She whispered sternly. “So YOU ARE GOING TO TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW!”
“That’s good. Use your anger, your grief, and guilt to make him talk.” Red Robin said over the comm.-link to Alex.
Alex grabbed Darin’s hair to lift his face off the ground.
“Why were you after the teacher?” Alex yelled.
Darin didn’t say a word but Alex could feel him trembling in front of her.
“Who sent you?” She yelled again.
“Nobody send me nowhere! I’m my own man!” He said defensively.
“You’ve got one more minute, Black Robin.” R.R notified.
“I’ve seen your rep. sheet, Blake. You’ve never even been in prison before; judge keeps feeling sorry for you so he makes you do some volunteer work. You’re pathetic! You’re not your ‘own man,’ you’re a puppet.” Alex spat. “You don’t even have the trust of your partner. Yeah, Marcus talked. He told the police where you were hiding. That it was your idea, too. He even said that you’re the one that killed those kids. You know how much time that’s going to buy you at Blackgate? Three counts of murder of the second degree, five counts of aggravated assault? That buys you about 100 years in a prison that holds Gotham’s worst and baddest. TALK! OR I THROW YOUR ASS IN JAIL! And trust me, you won’t survive a day with the ‘Gators.”
Alex sees Tim from the corner of her eye, she can tell he’s surprised. Darin is lying on the ground, shaking, sweating. She put a real scare in him.
“Okay! Okay! I’ll talk!” Darin is still shaking. “This guy, we don’t know his real name, told us to call him Calculator. Never heard of him before. He wanted us to bring him the teacher. Berta-vanilla or something like that.”
“Bertinelli?” Alex asked.
“Yeah! That’s the name. Anyway, we didn’t ask questions. He was going to pay us a million each. But we went into the school and the teacher wasn’t there. She was sick or something that day. We kept the kids from her class on lock-down in their classroom and Marcus called Calculator. Told him the situation... the man’s crazy! He told us to shoot the kids!” Darin held his face in his hands. “We didn’t know what to do! Marcus and I, yeah, we’re stupid crooks but we ain’t child-killers. Calculator was listening over the phone, waiting for the sound of our guns to fire bullets. We decided that if we shot away from the kids and told him they were all dead, then he’d still pay us.”
“Then how did three kids die?” Alex felt pity for the man.
“We-, I told you, we’re stupid. We didn’t know that bullets ricocheted.” Darin looked up from his hands and Alex saw he was crying. “This one kid, didn’t catch his name, I think his name was Mark. Before the bullets even began to ricochet off the wall- it’s as if he knew the physics of it or something- he told everyone to get back and I swear the kid jumped in front each one that was coming towards his classmates. He was ripped to pieces. He missed a few kids; that probably why two others died and some were hurt. There was so much blood and this little kid, he couldn’t have been more than ten years old…” Darin paused. “He was a better man that Marcus and I combined.” Darin tried to wipe the tears from his eyes but they kept coming.
Alex imagined her brother as the one who jumped in front of the bullets. It would make sense, Alex thought back to holding her brother, whose limbs were torn apart, in her arms in the ambulance.
“WHERE IS CALCULATOR?” Alex yelled at Blake.
“I- I don’t know. He usually contacted us. We- he gave us a programmed phone. It had one number.”
“Give me the phone!” Alex ordered.
“It- I don’t have it. Marcus had it last. I don’t know where it is now.” Darin confessed.
Alex turned away and walked to Tim. Tim came forward and grabbed Darin to help him up.
Alex looked up at the sky, she saw the same single star from the other night in the distance; wondering was her brother the one he was talking about? The one that jumped in front of every bullet for his classmates?
“Was the boy’s name Max?” Alex finally asked Darin.
“Y-yeah. That sounds right. He looked Hispanic.”
Alex could not believe it. Her brother. A hero. Alex held in her tears. Tried to speak but could already feel her voice cracking before a word was spoken.
Tim held on to Drin with Alex behind him, and swung to Gotham Central to drop Darin off.
“We want you to walk in there and give yourself to the police. You’re going to tell them everything you told us. Got it?” Red Robin said to Darin as he uncuffed him.
Red Robin and Black Robin swung up to the roof opposite of Gotham Central and watched as Darin Blake gave himself in.
Tim then turned to Alex, “I’m proud of you.” He said.
Alex looked at him in confusion.
“Let’s sit.” Tim sat on a crate on the rooftop. Alex sat beside him. “A few weeks ago I went to Iron Heights Penitentiary. I went to talk to the man that killed my father. He was locked up behind a thick, bulletproof glass cage. I swear, if it wasn’t for that glass surrounding him… I think I would’ve killed him. I kept thinking: I wish I was wearing my utility belt so I could get some gadget out to open up this cage. But you! The guy was in your grip, and you were strong enough to not kill him.” Tim sighed. “I have to admit, I’m intimidated.”
A faint smile appeared on Alex’s face. “I had to keep remembering my promise to Batman, Max, you and myself. I will not kill anyone.”
“That’s great to hear! It’s late. I mean later than I expected. Let me take you home.” Tim smiled.
“Sounds like a good idea. Except for you know, this.” Alex pointed at herself, specifically, her costume.
Tim smirked. “I guess we have one more lesson for the night: Always leave extra clothes over town. Seriously, everywhere! Random rooftops- just remember where- bat-cave, bat-bunker, my new place once it’s done. Best place is the roof of your house.” Tim advised.
“Okay smarty-pants,” Alex’s adrenaline was still rushing. “What do I do now?”
“To the Bat-bunker, chum!” he yelled enthusiastically pointing his finger in the air and grabbed Alex around her waist and swung away towards Wayne Tower.
Alex couldn’t stop laughing. She was finally able to catch her breath when they landed on the roof of Wayne Tower.
“You know, “Tim started. “If you wanna start a rep on the street that you’re all grim and scary…you probably shouldn’t be laughing and smiley.” Tim said matter-of-factly to Alex as she finally caught her breath, still smiling.
“And your braceless smile is looking good.” He added.
“Oh God! You remember that I had braces!” she screamed in embarrassment.
They took the special elevator to the penthouse. Alex quickly showered and changed her clothes.
“Where should I leave my costume?” she asked Tim.
“Take that one with you. Alfred made you more than one so you don’t have to worry too much. You’ll have one at the cave, the bunker, here in the penthouse, and that one you have in your hands.”
Alex nodded; her eyes wide. Holy crap! She thought.
Tim drove her home. Her parents didn’t notice her coming late since she snuck in though her window. Before she could fall asleep she hid her costume in her closet behind the clothes in a suitcase that has a pass-code.
The next day Alex went to the market with her parents hoping to get their minds off Max’s death. She made them dinner when they got home and after dinner got ready to meet up with Tim.
“Where’ve you been going these nights?” Alex’s mother asks with concern.
“I wasn’t going to tell you before, but I got a job.” Alex lied. She’s been doing that too often lately. “It’s more of a volunteer job, actually. I help at the Neon Knights Foundation.”
That’s not too far from the truth, Alex thinks.
“I help stop gang violence.” She added.
“That’s great!” Alex’s father said with joy. “Mi angelita is helping clear the streets of the punks that killed…” Alex’s father stopped.
He turned to his wife and looked back down at his newspaper. “Don’t be too late.” He added.
A wave of sadness washed over Alex’s mother’s face. The mere mention of her late- son brings tears and sorrow to her face.
“They have special rooms for the volunteers to sleep in so if it’s too late for me to walk home I can just sleep there.” Alex told her parents.
Her father sighed. “Okay. But don’t forget! You have to go to l’escuela tomorrow!”
“Yes papi, I’ll take my book-bag and an extra change of clothes with me, just in case.”
Alex ran to her room and put on her costume and grabbed her bookbag and put a set of clothes and a pair of shoes in a garbage bag before she swung out her window. She dropped the garbage bag in her chimney but made sure it wouldn’t fall through. It was June so her parents would have no reason to turn on the fireplace. She met up with Red Robin in an alley a few blocks away. She loved the feeling of Gotham’s winds in her hair as she flew through the streets.
That night they went on patrol, as usual, for a few hours and then did more digging on where Calculator is holed up.
“We need to get that phone.” Alex said.
“If it was with Marcus, that means it is now in the GCPD evidence room.”
“Well, can’t we call the commish and ask him to, you know, give it to us?” Alex asked.
“Usually, I’d say ‘yeah’ but the commissioner and I haven’t been on best terms these days. But I bet Batman could talk to him.” Tim smirked.
After a quick phone-call, Alex and Tim met Batman (Dick Grayson) on the rooftop of Wayne Tower.
“Here you go.” Dick handed Tim the phone. “You soooo owe me! How many times have I had to talk to the commissioner for you?” Dick joked.
“Whatever, Batman!” Tim said handing the phone over to Alex.
“And nice costume, Black Robin.” Dick smiled at Alex.
As Batman jumped off the building he says, “You two better keep out of trouble.” He warned.
Alex looked to see him falling to the ground head first and then as he came nearer to the pavement he opened up his cape and floated.
“Woah! That’s amazing!” Alex said.
“Yeah, he’s a show-off. He grew up in the circus so he likes to put up a show.” He said. “Don’t worry, you’ll get an acrobatics lesson with him tomorrow.” He paused. “AFTER school.” He emphasized.
Alex nodded. “So are we going to call the number on this phone?” she asked.
“Not yet. Unlike me, you’re not a high school drop-out which means you have to wake up early tomorrow.” Tim replied with a grin.
Alex pouted in response but Tim still sent her home.
Alex hated the next day at school.
Wherever she walked she could hear people whispering about her.
“Did you hear her brother was killed in the shooting?” some people whispered.
It was a game of telephone in the hallways of Gotham High School. Some people mixed the words around and stated that Alex’s brother was a shooter that got killed.
Alex ignored them. In class she copied down the notes on things she already knew. The day felt numb… until lunch.
“Hey, Alex!” Jake yelled, “I missed you!” he hugged her. She felt uncomfortable with his arms wrapped around her.
Why the sudden love? She thought.
Alex laughed awkwardly. “Yeah, umm, same here, Jake.” She lied.
Jake and Alex have known each other since the second grade. Before last week they’ve never spoken more than maybe ten words to each other. He was a popular jock and she was a “geek.” A beautiful “geek” mind you. She could be popular but being friends with Zoanne and Ives doesn’t allow for that. Although these days she’s only been hanging out with Zoanne, since Ives is in the hospital for chemotherapy everyday. His cancer came back a month ago. Tim asked Alex about Ives’ cancer but she told him he was in remission even though he wasn’t. She’ll visit him some time, she thinks.
“So, I was thinking,” Jake began talking as Alex put her books in her locker. “Maybe you wanna have a re-do on that date?”
Alex furrowed her eyebrows. “I…don’t think that’s a good idea. It’s only been a week.” She says, thinking of Max’s death.
“Oh…jeez. You’re right, I’m so sorry, Alex. That- this is insensitive of me.” He replied in embarrassment.
“Don’t worry, Jake. But, maybe another time?” Alex says. “Maybe when, you know, thinks settle for me.” A faint smile appeared on her face.
Jake nodded. “Yeah, that sounds great!” He walked away as Zoanne came closer to Alex’s locker.
“What was that about?” She asked.
Alex rolled her eyes. “Guys are jerks.” She stated.
“Amen to that!” Zoanne agreed.
Alex could see Jake eyeing her from his table as her and Zoanne sat down in the cafeteria.
“So, I’ve decided!”
“On what?” Alex cocked an eyebrow in confusion.
“I’m going to call Tim! Tell him I hope to see him again, as friends, and I hope him and Tam live a happy life together.” Zo said.
“That sounds like a great idea!” Alex replied. “I wonder if he’s ever coming back to school.”
“Hah! He doesn’t NEED to come back to school…he’s rich! He’s the CEO of Wayne Enterprises!” Zoanne exclaimed.
The rest of lunch they spoke about Ives and his recovery, Jake and his sudden interest in Alex and that afternoon’s calculus test. Alex easily aced it.
Right after school, Alex raced to the Bat-bunker for her training with Dick Grayson. She didn’t bother going home to get her costume since there’d be one waiting for her at the bunker.
Alex got into gear and waited for Dick. He had a quick talk with Bruce over the bat-computer. Her and Damian decided to chat.
“So, you enjoying being Robin?” she asked him kindly.
“Tsk! Tsk! Enjoying?” he replied rudely. “This is not a picnic to which I should enjoy! This is a duty. A soldier does not enjoy going into battle with the enemy.”
“How old are you?!” Alex questioned. He speaks as if he’s an old man.
“Old enough. Ugh, how Drake has any interest in the likes of you and Stephanie is just mere frustration!”
“Stephanie? Interest?” Alex repeats those words in confusion. “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Boy Wonder!” She imitates Gary Coleman.
Damian just rolls his eyes. “They used to date, you little twit!”
“Excuse me? What did you just call me?” Alex replied in anger.
“A twit. A mentally deficient person, or in simpler terms: an idiot.”
“DAMIAN!” Dick yells at him.
Dick was off the phone with Bruce.
“What the hell is wrong with you? Your dad personally vouched for her so you will not disrespect her! Got it?”
Damian just walked away.
“Dad?” Alex wonders.
“Sorry about that Alex. He can be a brat sometimes, he didn’t exactly have the same up-bringing as the rest of us.” Dick apologizes.
“No worries. What did you mean by Dad?” she asked.
“Oh…um…well, Damian is Bruce’s son.” Dick admits.
“Lucky woman.” She replied.
“More like crazy.” He grinned. “Okay, let’s begin.”
Dick taught Alex about swinging without a grapple, how to jump higher, use her cape to her advantage and other acrobatic skills.
“Alright, you’ve learned new skills now let’s see you use them. Let’s fight.” Dick challenged.
“Wait, what?” Dick threw a punch but Alex quickly blocked it.
“That was good.” Dick applauded.
“You could’ve broken my nose with that punch!” She yells at him as she continues evading his kick and punches.
“I’m not going to kiddie you. The penguin’s goons aren’t going to say ‘are you ready?’ before they start attacking you. They’re going to try to get the jump on you and the only way to avoid that is if you get the jump on them first. Got it?”
Without missing a beat, Alex flipped in the air over Dick and landed right behind him. She lightly but quickly kicked him in the back of the knee, he lost his balance and fell over.
“Yeah, I got it.” Alex winked at Dick who was lying on the ground with his back facing the ceiling.
She helped him up.
“HAHAHAHAHAH HAHA HA!” Damian was laughing in the background. “Grayson! You got your butt handed to you by... this imbecile!” Damian fell to the ground laughing.
Alex wanted to laugh too but that wouldn’t be good sportsmanship plus she couldn’t laugh while she yelling at Damian.
“Listen Boy Blunder, don’t call me an ‘imbecile’, a ‘twit’, or ‘moron’, alright? Or next time I might kick your butt.” Alex threatened.
Damian didn’t reply. He turned back to the Bat-computer monitor and continued his work.
“Heh.” Dick chuckled. “Kudos, but you’ll have to watch your back from now on, the kid likes his revenge.” Dick warned.
Alex shrugged; she’s not worried about Damian.
“That was impressive though, you took me down. That’s never really happened before.” Dick was astonished.
“Ha! I bet you weren’t even trying.” Alex replied.
“I was giving you about 90%.” He admitted. “So it’s still really impressive.”
Dick continued to train Alex until she finally asked him a question that’s been irking at her.
“How did you become Robin?” She finally said.
Dick smirked. “I used to be in the circus. My mom, dad and I were acrobats of Haly’s Circus. The Flying Graysons!” He said with pride.
“One night we were doing a show, here in Gotham. It was going to be our biggest show, The Flying Graysons performed without a safety net.” Dicks voice fell silent, then with sadness he said, “Boss Zuco killed my parents that night.”
Alex’s eyes widened in shock.
“He wanted to teach Pop Haly a lesson for not paying him ‘insurance’ money so he cut the trapeze rope.” Dick looked at the ground. “Social Services wouldn’t let me stay with the circus and Bruce was there that night and saw everything. Him and Alfred took me in. At this point, Bruce was already Batman so I barely saw him. I didn’t know his secret until I snuck into the cave. I found out he was looking for the man who killed my parents and I was angry! I wondered why he wasn’t allowing me to seek my own revenge, I was only 12 years old and that’s how I was thinking.”
Alex listened tentatively.
“After days of trying to convince him, he finally let me become Robin: the Boy Wonder.”
“Did you catch Zucco?” Alex asked.
“Yeah, we finally caught him.” Dick grinned.
“Man, that is so cool! You were the first Robin! The leader and founder of the Teen Titans and now, you’re Batman! My brother used to worship you guys! He followed the news every morning and read the newspaper too. You know, a few months ago, he turned to me and said ‘Alex, there have been five Robins.’ I didn’t believe him at first but then he showed me his scrapbook. It was full of articles and pictures and he showed me each one and how they’ve all been different.”
“Man, your brother was smart.” Dick complimented.
Alex nodded. She’s finally able to talk about Max without crying.
“The lesson is done. I think you and Tim are going on patrol later but until then you can keep training or do your homework. You can stay down here and do it, or go up to the penthouse or whatever. Its up to you. You know the code for the elevator.” He smiled.
Alex smiled back. “Thank you!”
“Let’s go, Damian!” Dick yelled. “We have a meeting with the commissioner!”
As they left, Alex took the elevator up to the penthouse.
“Hey, Alfred.” She smiled.
“Hello, Miss Alex. How was your lesson with Master Grayson?” He kindly asked as he made dinner.
“Pretty good. I beat him when we sparred.” She laughed.
Alfred couldn’t help but laugh as well.
“Do you mind if I do my homework up here?” she asked.
“No, not at all. Please, grab a seat.” He pointed to some stools beside the kitchen counter.
Alex began her homework but quickly finished it with no troubles. She spent the rest of the early evening chatting with Alfred.
“How long have you known Bruce?” she asked while they waited for the duck to roast in the oven.
“I’ve been in his parents employ much before Master Bruce’s birth. After his parents’ untimely death, I took it upon myself to take care of the boy.” Alfred paused. “How long have you and Master Timothy known one another?” he asked.
“Since middle school. We’ve been pretty good friends for a few years now but after the gang war, my dad decided to home-school my brother and I. But I returned to public school later last year.”
Alfred and Alex continued asking each other questions as they waited for Tim, Bruce, Dick and Damian to come home for dinner. Although, they’d barely eat anything; and Bruce probably wouldn’t even show up.
Meanwhile on the rooftop of Gotham Central
“Early this morning our second suspect for the school shooting gave himself in. Name is Darin Blake. Said Red Robin and someone else, someone he’s never seen before, brought him to Gotham Central.” Commissioner Gordon took off his glasses and began to polish them with his jacket. “Mind telling me who Gotham’s new masked crime-fighter is, Batman?” he asked.
“That would be Black Robin, Commissioner. Is there a problem?”
“There might be. How old is she?”
“I’m sorry?” Batman asked.
“Listen, it’s fine that you guys have Robin, a young kid out here, I can’t say anything about that. I’ve seen the kid fight and he’s good. Gotham good. But this girl, I don’t want you guys bringing her into something she’s not ready for and I want her to get her high school diploma, go to college, get married and have kids. We don’t need any more casualties. Got it?” The commissioner warned Batman sternly.
“Sir, we’d never bring anyone into this job if we knew they weren’t ready. Trust me, she’s ready.” Batman purposefully didn’t tell the commissioner about his defeat at Black Robin’s hands today.
“Where’s the big guy? Is he okay with it?” Gordon asked regarding the other Batman (Bruce Wayne, but he doesn’t know that).
“He’s been training her himself.” Batman reassured.
Gordon nodded. He doesn’t like this. Not one bit. He knows all about the second Robin that was killed by Joker, he doesn’t want that to happen again.
Back at Wayne Tower
“Hey, Alfred! I’m just going to go check-up on my parents and drop my homework off at home. If Tim gets back before I do, tell him to wait for me!” Alex yelled to Alfred as he set the table in the dining room.
“Of course, Miss Alex.” He replied.
Alex walked down the street in the direction to her house. It’s about a ten-minute walk to her home from Wayne Tower and she enjoys the fresh air.
“Hola, mami! Hola papi!” She yelled as she entered the front door of the house.
“Hola, mi angelita. Where’ve you been?” her father asked.
“I did my homework at the library. Just came home to drop everything and check up on you. I have to go to my volunteer job. I’m going to be out late.”
Pretty close to the truth, she thought.
“Bueno.” Her father replied.
“Where’s mami?” Alex asked with concern.
“She’s taking an extra shift tonight at the hospital.” Her father paused. “She doesn’t like being at home anymore.” He added with sadness.
Alex gave her father a hug and a kiss on the forehead.
“Its okay, papi. We all mourn our own way.” Alex consoled.
Alex checked the answering machine. All of her relatives live in El Salvador but they still heard about Max so the answering machine is filled with their messages. There’s a few messages from Zoanne but Alex just deletes them and one was from Max’s teacher, Ms. Bertinelli. But Alex knows her as Huntress.
“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Gonzales, this is Helena Bertinelli calling. I was Max’s teacher. I’m so sorry about what happened… I can’t even describe my guilt for what happened.” It sounded like she was crying on the phone. “I know that Max is in a better place. God bless.” She concluded.
Alex didn’t delete any message except for Zoanne’s.
Alex looked at the clock. It was 8pm and it was getting dark.
“Papi, I have to leave now. There’s a lot of messages for you on the phone. Some from tio (uncle) and tia (aunt) too. You should give them a call back.” She smiled.
“Si, mi angelita. I will.” He assured her.
Alex decided to walk back to Wayne Tower so she didn’t bother wearing her uniform. It was dark on the streets and Gotham isn’t safe to begin with in the daytime. But Alex is trained by the greatest so there’s nothing she can’t handle, right?