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Leaving the Nest
A/N: This is a work of Fan Fiction. Quite obviously, I do not own any of the characters or situations related to the DC Animated Universe Young Justice Series. I only wish I did.
Lexcorp World Headquarters
“Status report,” The billionaire demanded of the person on the other end of the phone line. After the Kryptonian's visit the day before, it had taken all of Luthor's rather formidable will not to reach out to his contractor for a status report before the agreed upon time.
“Partial success Mr. Luthor,” the underling responded. “We successfully acquired seven of the eight packages.”
That gave Luthor pause. He most specifically did not like ‘partial’ successes. Every time he had started an operation with a ‘partial’ success, he had ended up regretting the entire idea, usually at the hands of that damned alien.
“And which of the packages are we missing?” he asked coolly.
“The Gotham City pickups were particularly difficult,” his underling responded. "The Greek Hunter statue was unfortunately damaged in the pickup, and the Bird just didn't stay where it was supposed to be.
Of all the possibilities, he had not expected this one. The youngest and by all expectations least powerful of the targets had escaped? How was that possible?
“What was the problem with the pickup? Was the package not ready?” He asked.
The man on the other side hesitated, something that Luthor’s experience warned him that he was not likely to like the answer. “We arrived for the delivery on schedule, and the package was there, but before the actual pickup, the package… disappeared. The five of the pickup crew were…” again the man hesitated, "injured in the confusion. The local police unfortunately ticketed them when they found that crew's… paperwork was not in order. The four who picked up the Greek Hunter were also injured, but they did not encounter the police."
“I see," Luthor said, internally seething at the news. Sportmaster had laughed at the idea that one of his daughters could be picked up without cost. "Well, proceed with the rest of the shipment. I would like them unpacked and an inventory of their contents as soon as possible. See to the Greek Hunter's repair. We will have to re-order a replacement of the Bird from Gotham.”
“Yes sir,” the minion said, the relief evident in his voice.
Luthor hung up the phone and sat back in his chair. How unexpected. If any of the children had escaped his trap, he would have expected it to be the clone, the Martian, or the speedster. How could a child, a mere acrobat possibly have…
His personal cell phone rang, startling the billionaire. Not just because he never received incoming calls, in truth he had received exactly two incoming calls in all the years he had carried a personal phone. No the truly startling thing was the ringtone. Lex Luthor was not one of those who had complex musical alerts of an incoming call.
He had specifically recorded the sound of an old style bell ring tone for installation into his personal phone.
The ring tone playing in his vest pocket was a four note childlike chuckle. The calling card of the boy known as Robin.
Luthor retrieved the phone from his pocket. He grimaced at the image of a masked Smiley face winking and sticking its tongue out at him, pushed the button that would start the trace, and then answered. “Luthor.”
“Hi ya Lex,” a child’s voice responded. “Man, I’ve gotta tell you, your security sucks.”
“Who is this?” Luthor asked.
“You know perfectly well who I am Lex, not that your little trace is going to do you any good… If I can’t deflect it, I’ll be gone three seconds before you hit the last relay,” the boy answered mockingly.
“Look…” Luthor began.
“Man,” the boy interrupted, “I wasn’t joking before, your security is really horrible. Hey, I’ll help you find out who designed your security protocols so you can fire the loser.”
Luthor was speechless as his monitor suddenly turned its self on. “I’m sharing my screen with you…” the boy said unnecessarily. The monitor screen filled with the security logon and Luthor stared open mouthed as the password field populated followed almost instantly with a cartoon image of his nemesis’ face in the place of each masked character. In four seconds, the billionaire gaped as his encryption was broken.
“Man, you just don’t see 256 bit two dimensional encryption anymore,” Lexcorp’s personnel records began scrolling. "Let’s see now, what clueless schmuck did your network security?” The boy murmured as the screen scrolled before it stopped with a single name highlighted.
"Oh, Lex… Dude, you roll your own? Seriously? I thought you were supposed to be good…”
“What do you want?” Luthor demanded while planning the painful punishment he would personally inflict on the child once the boy was captured.
“I want my friends back,” the boy said simply, all of the childishness gone from his voice. “I want them back, now, unharmed, undamaged, and with their memories and personalities intact.”
“What makes you think I know where they are?” Luthor demanded while checking the progress of his trace.
“I’m not going to dignify that with an answer Lex,” the boy sneered. “I can cripple your entire company for months if not years, wiping out your entire source of legitimate income. This is me, slightly miffed. If you’ve hurt my friends, I’ll be angry, and trust me when I tell you that you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
“Look boy, I don’t know who you think you’re…”
“I’m starting to think that facing off against the Boy Scout all these years has turned you soft Lex.”
“What?” Luthor sputtered.
“Don’t get me wrong, Superman is a great guy, but he’s soft. He goes easy on his opponents, and you don’t understand what it means to face off against someone potentially as… human as you are.”
“Look boy…” Luthor’s eyes focused on the monitor displaying the trace results. “I’ve got you!”
“Oh, your cute little trace? Have you looked to see what you’ve found?” the boy asked laughing again.
Luthor frowned, and performed the keystrokes needed to get a visual of the location of the trace. His eyes widened and his left hand gripped the phone even tighter.
“Yeah,” the boy chuckled, laughing at him. Laughing at Lex Luthor. “You found the hideout I use in your bedroom. Sure, the commute is hell, but man, the view from your penthouse is spectacular. Don’t mess with me, Luthor, I want my friends back. You’ve had them for a day, so I'll be generous, you can have 24 hours to have them back to me. Call it 9:17 tomorrow morning.”
“Or what?” Luthor asked with a sneer.
“Or, I respond to you hurting people important to me by hurting someone important to you,” the boy responded in a cold voice. “I do hope you kissed adorable little Lena goodbye this morning.”
Luthor pulled the phone from his ear to stare at its display that was now showing loss of signal.
“Mercy!” he screamed.
The transit time from Luthor’s Lexcorp office to his penthouse apartment was less than four minutes.
Perhaps the longest minutes of Lex Luthor’s life. Mercy could not establish communications with any of the four Nannies on duty, and upon arriving at the penthouse Luthor discovered why, the four Mercy class human-form robots were utterly destroyed and there was no sign of his daughter. That damned boy had his precious Lena. It was all that Luthor could do not to scream his fury in front of the security troops.
“Lex?” Mercy called. “In here.”
Lex rushed into his study to find his prime bodyguard holding a sheet of paper. He snatched it from her hands and took in the embossed stylized R that denoted the boy’s hero name.
I trust I’ve made my point? You now have less than a day.
Luthor grimaced as he handed the letter back to Mercy. “I want that paper analyzed; I want to know where it was made and who it was sold to.”
The paper burst into flames in Mercy’s hand, destroying the precious evidence.
The boyish chuckle ringtone sounded again.
Luthor fumbled with the phone. “Where is she?”
“Like I said Luthor,” the boy’s voice sounded in his ear. “You’ve gone soft. I’d hurry if I were you.”
"Master Bruce?" the older man said as his employer entered the room.
"Dick isn't here is he?"
"Master Dick was here yesterday afternoon, with a distressing tale of broken agreements," Alfred said sadly. "He packed for an extended stay and left. He was not forthcoming about where he would be staying."
"He's at his Bludhaven hideout," Bruce nodded. "The one he thinks I don't know about. The motion sensors are showing him working off his anger through exercise."
"You seem satisfied," Alfred noted.
"Not satisfied," Wayne said with a shake of his head, "Satisfaction would mean I was happy with the status quo. I'd hoped Dick would have learned to avoid predictable patterns. He hasn't so I can predict what he's going to do."
Wayne slumped into an easy chair. "He's furious with me, believing that I didn't support him. He doesn't understand that the Justice League achieves what it does through consensus, and that as long as Superman leads, the rest of us will follow."
"Except for when you don't, Master Bruce," Alfred pointed out as he exited the room. "You forget I follow your exploits quite closely. You bully Superman into doing what you believe needs to be done with great frequency."
"Perhaps," the Billionaire admitted. "Still, in this particular case, Superman is, in his simplistic naïve way, right. Eventually, Dick will see that."
"If your situations were reversed, as they were when you were all enthralled by the Light," Alfred asked on his way out of the room, "would you have seen the light if Master Dick had allowed his team to convince him to leave you on the sidelines, Master Bruce?"
"This is hardly the same thing, Alfred," Wayne called after his surrogate father.
Lexcorp World Headquarters
Lex Luthor blinked in surprise as his computer froze.
That has never happened before. It wasn't supposed to be possible. But then, it wasn't supposed to be possible for his computers to be hacked either, but a child had shown that claim to be a lie. What this latest inconvenience attributable to the hack?
"Hello Mr. Luthor."
Lex looked up from his computer screen, startled beyond belief that someone whose voice he did not recognize could come to be standing behind him in his own office. Lex spun in his chair to face the speaker, his finger hitting the alarm that would bring Mercy running.
"The alarm isn't working," the man in red said quietly. "No, that's a lie. It's working perfectly, as is your computer, just not for you."
The man's voice was odd. It took him several heartbeats to realize why. There was an utter lack of sound in the room, other than the voice.
"I’m looking for my sidekick, and his friends," the hero said in his oddly echoing voice. "Rumor has it you might know something about it."
"As I told the alien," Luthor growled. "I have no idea what you're talking about. What have you done to me?"
"I just brought you into my frame of reference. Please remain seated, you would find trying to move in our current frame of reference to be a most unpleasant experience," the man in red said, his voice maintaining its odd echo. "I wanted to make sure we were undisturbed while we spoke."
"What do you want?"
"I want Kid Flash back," the man said simply. "And I think you can deliver him to me. I don't think you'd really appreciate it if I were to just go looking for him and his friends."
"I have nothing to hide," Luthor sneered.
"The amount of lead lining your walls suggest that you might not be entirely truthful there, Mr. Luthor," the Flash remarked conversationally. "Unlike Superman, there is quite literally nowhere I cannot go, and as I've proven, no one would ever know I had ever been there. Who knows what I might find while I'm looking for my sidekick?"
"You cannot come into my building and threaten me!" Luthor said, struggling to his feet in direct rejection of the advice the speedster had offered earlier, and immediately regretting it.
"I'm fairly sure," the Flash noted before he vanished from the Billionaire's office, "I just did."
Luthor gripped his desk as his office spun around him for an eternity. It was while he was messily losing his last meal all over his priceless carpeting that he realized what the speedster had meant by bringing him into the Flash's frame of reference.
Lex made a mental note to cancel his projects for giving someone superspeed as soon as he finished heaving.
I believe we both know my resignation was submitted on the Watchtower yesterday. Thanks for everything you've taught me.
Don't worry, my Mission isn't finished either. See you in the field.
Wayne resisted the urge to crumple the letter in his hand. He had known that the League had angered his ward, but really hadn't expect the young man to go to this extent.
Bruce Wayne was many things, but delusional was not one of them. He was fully aware of how much he had come to depend upon Dick Grayson to maintain his grasp on his humanity. He needed his partner far more than the boy had ever needed him.
And now, his relationship with a group of adventurers he had resisted joining was threatening to break his one true partnership.
He was going to need to apologize. He looked across the cave to the workstation from which Dick usually worked, where now he could see the Robin's uniform draped.
He was going to need to do some damage control, and soon. A new uniform, perhaps. Or even a new Identity… It had not escaped his notice that Dick had been chafing at the 'Boy Wonder' image for a while. Perhaps something with a bat motif. If Gordon's daughter could be Batgirl, then Dick could be Bat… not boy but something.
Bruce turned to his computer and brought up the sensors in Robin's nest. No cameras, of course, Dick would have detected them in a heartbeat, but mass and motion sensors were easily disguised. He nodded to himself. His adopted son was working on the rings. That was typically how Dick worked off his frustrations.
Wayne shut down his monitoring of Dick Grayson and accessed the League database to see how the investigation was progressing.
An apology was needed, but as always, The Mission came first. Dick would understand.
Lexcorp World Headquarters
Dick's eyes drifted to the system clock and sighed. This had taken entirely too long, and despite rattling Luthor's cage, he was no closer to finding the rest of his team than when he started.
Still, he had managed to harvest an amazing amount of data from the billionaire's archives, and uncovered a weakness in his new uniform. He was going to have to upgrade the storage. During the design stage three terabytes sounded like more than he was ever likely to need. On his first time out, he had filled that to 98% capacity.
Poor planning annoyed him. Almost as much as the knowledge that what he was looking for was almost certainly somewhere in the data he had harvested, but due to its size, he had no way of analyzing the information until he got it off the suit and into a dedicated machine.
And that required finding his way out of Luthor's building.
His way in was, of course, no longer an option. His training had made him a creature of the night, but he knew how to operate in the light as well. He carefully plotted his path out of the dungeon like computer rooms, avoiding any concentrations of people. Each employee's access badge showed up on the scan as numbered flags. Dick smiled, if he didn't know better, he might have suspected that Luthor didn't really trust his people.
Two floors up, Dick found the locker room for Luthor's basement warehousing crew. It took opening six lockers before he found clothing that was a close enough fit, leaving behind more than enough cash to cover the trousers and shirt.
Exiting the building via the loading dock Dick vanished into the crowds of Metropolis making his way to his nearest safe house.
Justice League Watch Tower
Low Earth Orbit
"Batman was correct in his assessment that Robin would be conducting his own investigation," the Martian Manhunter, said as the last League member took his seat for the meeting.
The Dark Knight looked up in surprise at this announcement. "Robin is currently at a safe house he thinks I don't know about. I am unaware of any investigation he might be running, but he is not using any of my resources."
"His approach has apparently been far more direct than even you suspected,"J'onn J'onzz continued. "Luthor is utterly aware of some actions on Robin's part. For a baseline human, Luthor's mind is surprisingly disciplined and as a consequence, I have only gotten slivers of his surface thoughts, but the boy both infuriates and frightens him."
"Are you sure you aren't picking up his thoughts about me?" Superman asked. "I visited him when all of this started, and I'm certain that I infuriate him."
"And it might have been my visit," the Flash suggested. "I imbued Luthor with a bit of my speed in order to have a conversation with him without having to deal with his reaction forces, coming down from that would have been more than a little disconcerting."
"No," J'onzz said with no emotion. "I approached the Lexcorp building under my most extreme stealth mode well after Superman's visit and before that of the Flash. I did not approach close enough to actually hear the exchange, but the fury Luthor was directed toward Robin in particular was utterly clear in his mind. Evidently the boy called Luthor on the telephone to demand his teammates back as I came into range."
"Why didn't we think of that?" Oliver Queen snarked.
"When Luthor denied all knowledge of the abductions, Robin suggested that the years of dealing with Superman had made Luthor…" J'onzz hesitated before continuing, "soft."
"What?" Superman shouted, standing up so forcefully his chair was driven through the wall behind him.
The conference room filled with silence for several seconds until the Enlongated Man began to giggle, which drove Green Arrow into outright laughter.
"Luthor's fury at the suggestion that he lacked the ability to match wits with an unpowered human is the only reason I was able to pierce his defenses as much as I did," J'onzz continued, ignoring the laughter. "Then Robin said something that terrified the man. Fear had exactly the opposite effect on his mind that the anger did, blocking me off entirely. It appears your protégé has abilities we were unaware of Batman."
Ralph Digby, the Enlongated Man's nose began to twitch back and forth on his face, almost vibrating, "what could a 16 year old boy," he asked rhetorically, "possibly say to Lex Luthor that would frighten him?"
Dick Grayson's Safe House
Dick's frustration grew. The sheer amount of data he had harvested from Luthor was a problem unto itself. His searches seemed to grind on and on seemingly forever, usually resulting in nothing of any use.
He set his mouth into a firm line, and reached for his Mountain Dew. Searching on his teammate's names had produced nothing. Their code names had produced nothing. Their powersets had produced hints that Luthor was working reproducing those abilities in 'volunteers'.
Purely out of desperation he started searching on the cities from which they had been abducted. On his fourth search, he got a hit.
It was only a hint. A possibility at best. But it was the best he had.
He pulled up the maps and started planning.
The Batman eased his way into the loft his ward had purchased a little more than a year before via a disused roof access.
Alfred had questioned the wisdom of allowing Dick access to the trust his family's insurance payout had financed, but as far as Bruce Wayne was concerned, if a young man was mature enough to put his life on the line on Gotham's rooftops, he was mature enough to have access to money that was rightfully his.
Besides, Wayne had put the best financial planners in the city in charge of the Grayson trust and in the 10 years Dick had been with him, the value of the trust had quintupled.
The sensor web at the access was cheap, and apparently defective. He didn't even need to freeze the sensors to bypass it. He froze them anyway, but it wasn't really necessary. He taught Dick better than this.
Loud music assaulted his ears, music with a thumping bass that seemed to make the very walls vibrate in sympathy, the scent of pizza reached him. Something was wrong. Dick would eat the box it came in before he would eat microwave pizza. A large figure clad emerged from the kitchen area of the loft with a slice in his hand, and the Batman landed in front of him, his cape billowing.
"Whoa! Batman!" the large black youth wearing a Metropolis Knights' football jersey said, taking a step backwards, yet showing no fear. "Robin said you might stop by. He left something for you."
The youth turned away from the Dark Knight and returned without his pizza but with a white envelope. "Here it is," he said handing over the letter. "I'm Mal Duncan, sir, it's an honor to meet you."
The Batman regarded the envelope suspiciously. "How do you know Robin, Mr. Duncan?"
"I know some of his friends, Megan, and Conner mostly. They helped a lot when my girlfriend ended up with powers after working with Dr. Palmer at Pace University."
"Karen Beecher," The Batman nodded, putting the pieces together.
"That's her," Duncan nodded happily. "Robin called me yesterday and asked if I could house sit for a few days, and I said sure, I mean look at this place. I've been working out like crazy. I wasn't good enough in school to get a scholarship or anything, but the Knights are holding a walk on tryout next week, the equipment Robin's got here is better than any gym I could afford, so I jumped at the chance."
The Batman nodded again and opened the envelope, finding it held a simple note.
I'm pretty sure I resigned.
Even if I hadn't, did you really think I would set up a safe house as openly as this one and not expect you to know about it? You taught me better than that.
Dick had spoofed him. He had thought that his ward hadn't learned to avoid patterns and it turned out he was the one hearing hoof beats and expecting zebras.
Well done, Dick, he said to himself. Now, what are you up to?
"Any more of that pizza, Mr. Duncan?"
Midvale Municipal Airport
The plane taxied to a stop in front of a Lexcorp hanger, its engine still turning over. The hanger's doors opened and a marshaller used his lighted wands to guide the jet inside. As soon as the tail was inside the doors closed and the engines shut down.
The marshaller was joined by three more men when the plane's door opened, allowing the pilots to disembark.
"Let's go, we're on a schedule," the oldest of the pilots said as he inserted a key into a hidden panel, which opened to allow access to a coffin-like container. "We've got to get this package to Luthor." Before any of the crew could move, the lights in the hanger went out. They were in complete darkness for almost five seconds before the emergency lights flickered on.
"You know," a new voice broke in, drawing their attention to the man standing on top of the aircraft backlit by the yellow emergency lighting. "I'm almost insulted. You're transporting one of my people, and there are just six of you?" The black clad figure extended a collapsible staff in his right hand. "I don't suppose you're going to do the intelligent thing and run away?"
The five underlings wasted two full heartbeats looking to their leader before moving to draw their weapons. Before the first pistol cleared its holster, the man in black was among them, his staff a blur of motion. A forearm shattered, a kneecap followed suit. A femur fractured, then a concussion delivered by the whirling staff. One of the thugs managed to bring his weapon to bear, his finger tightening on the trigger before Dick knocked it away and shattered the shoulder behind the broken hand that had been holding the pistol.
"Ok Leaderman," Dick said as he pushed the only one of the six still conscious and capable to standing against the nearest wall, his staff firmly against the lacky's throat. "Where were you supposed to deliver your package?"
"I'm not sayin' nothing," the man said. "I want a lawyer."
"A lawyer?" Dick echoed. "Do I look like a cop? Do I look like Superman or any of the other duly deputized heroes of Metropolis? I don't care if you go to jail. I just want to know the answers to my questions." He pushed a bit harder on his staff, causing the man to choke. "Where were you supposed to deliver your package?"
Dick Grayson's Safe House
Dick opened the container carefully and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw she was still breathing. His gloved fingertips went to her throat to feel for her pulse, he nodded as the count came in at the normal range. He carefully disconnected the neural inhibitor keeping the girl unconscious from its power source and lifted her from the coffin-like transport container, laying her on the apartment's only bed.
It took almost four minutes for her to start to wake.
"Raquel," he whispered, trying to keep his voice soothing. "I know you're a little disoriented, and I know you're having trouble making your body move. You were put under a neural inhibitor, coming out from under its influence can take a while. Just relax and concentrate on small stuff. Try to wiggle your toes."
The girl moaned, Dick moved to the foot of the bed and pulled her boots off before starting to massage her feet, starting with the left and then the right.
"I know you've got the worst cotton mouth you've ever had, but I can't give you any water yet, you'll choke," Dick held one of her feet in each hand. "Raquel, try to wiggle your toes."
He felt a slight pressure against the palm of his left hand, "Ok, Raquel, that's good. Normally, coming out from an inhibitor it's about 5 minutes from the first toe wiggle to being able to talk, so we're on track. While you're recovering, let me fill you in on what's happened. You were taken about 40 hours ago, there was some problem moving you out of Dakota, which is why I managed to get into position to take you back."
The immobile girl seemed to consider this for a moment before suddenly her slack features took on an expression of panic. Again she moaned as she tried, and failed to form words.
Dick tried to think what would have her so upset, until he recalled speaking with Barbara about her worst fear as a crime fighter. "Except for your Inertia Belt, you're still in you uniform, I had to pull off your boots and socks to get to your feet. I don't think anyone did anything to you. We can get you checked out once you're mobile, but for now…"
Her eyes opened for the first time, and Dick moved to the head of the bed where she could see him.
"Baat biy?" she slurred.
Dick couldn't help but smile, "not anymore, you show off. Talking after only two minutes."
"A'm wsum lk dat," the girl known as Rocket admitted. "Watr?"
Dick gently lifted her head from the pillow and held a bottle of water to the girl's lips. After several sips, she nodded and he allowed her to lay back. "It's like pins and needles all over," she panted. "Where is everyone else?"
"We are everyone else," Dick admitted.
"Everyone?" she gasped. "They got everyone, but you?"
"I got lucky," Dick admitted.
"Does the League know?"
"Yes," Dick nodded. "They told me they'd take care of it, and that I should go home."
"But you're the one who found me," Raquel noted, putting the pieces together. "What have they done?"
"Something between diddly and squat."
"We need to hang out more," Raquel said disgustedly, "to improve your vocabulary if for no other reason." The girl's eyes went wide. "Cramp, left calf… ow! Ow! Ow!"
Dick rushed to massage the knots in Raquel's legs as they formed. He noted that despite her lack of conscious motor control of her legs, she still flinched a bit at his touch. That decided it for him, he needed help. Raquel needed help. Dick triggered the autodialer in his suit as he continued to work on her legs.
The line picked up on the second ring. "Hello?" a familiar voice asked.
"Barbara? This is Dick. I need your help. Are you up to a little adventure tonight?"
"This morning you mean," the redhead corrected him. "I thought you wanted me to stay out of sight."
"Out of sight in Gotham, I doubt Luthor is looking for any Bat people in Metropolis."
The line went quiet for three seconds. "Metropolis? Hmm. Big city heroics. I'm in. I can be there in about two hours. Where do you need me?"
"Sending you the address now," Dick said. "I've recovered Rocket, but she's hurting. Then you figure they had her for most of two days, and well, there are somethings women are better at than men."
"There are a whole lot of things women are better at than men," Barbara sniffed. "I'm on my way."
The line went dead.
"New outfit has a phone built in?" Rocket asked, working her hands in front of her eyes, flexing each finger individually and in groups.
"Yeah," Dick admitted.
"So you called your girlfriend to help me?"
"I called someone in the life who isn't on the Team," Dick corrected, returning his attention to her calves. "You need to be checked out, and I don't think either of us would be comfortable with me doing it. Then we need to see if you're combat ready. I don't know enough about your belt to tell if it's working or not."
"Belt or no belt, I'm coming." Rocket insisted.
"No, you're not," Dick said simply. "We've both been at each other's sessions with Black Canary. I'm trained to fight without my toys, you aren’t trained to fight without your belt. With your belt you're an asset, hell, you're a heavy hitter. Without it, you're a hindrance."
"You can't stop me."
"Raquel, if I have to, I'll call the League and have Icon collect you," Dick said, his shoulders drooping. "I lost you all once, I'm not doing it again."
"You," Raquel noted, "are an ass. Help me sit up."
"That was incredibly awkward," Barbara said as the two young women stared at each other across the apartment's small bathroom.
"I know," Raquel said, closing her borrowed robe, an utterly downcast expression on her face. "I'm sorry."
"I would want to know if I were in your place," Barbara said quietly. "But I'm not talking about this wearing a mask and gloves." Reaching up she pealed back her cowl. "My name is Barbara Gordon."
"Raquel Ervin," Rocket said with a nod. "I do appreciate you doing this for me."
"It's okay," Barbara said hesitantly, "I needed it done for me once. There is no evidence of bruising on your thighs or hips, no evidence of any… fluids."
"Not many people carry around black lights," Raquel noted with relief.
"You would quite literally be amazed what these Utility belts hold," Barbara laughed.
"Considering the things I've seen Batboy pull out of his since I joined the team, I shouldn't be," Raquel smiled, "So, you and Robin?"
"Once," Barbara admitted, "not long after I put on this outfit the first time. We're just friends now."
"A friend who comes in the middle of the night, no questions asked."
"Nature of the job," Barbara said with a shrug. "Let's go see what the next move is, shall we?"
The pair exited the bathroom to find Dick sitting at a desktop computer, several cables running from his uniform to the machine.
"Hi ya, Lex," he said conversationally.
The two women exchanged a look before the settled onto the bed to listen.
"Of course I know what time it is, I just thought that I might remind you that you've only got six hours to produce my friends before things become unpleasant between us."
He listened for a few moments. "That's not the most helpful attitude, Lex, especially since I found one of my friends."
"Oh, but I did Lex. In one of your aircraft, in one of your hangers at the Midvale airport… being held in one of your transport pods, wearing a Lexcorp neural inhibitor and the people who didn't want me to retrieve her all had ids that said they were your employees. I can log in and point them out if you like, you know, how long they've worked for you, how much you pay them, what project they were assigned to for the exercise last night…"
"That isn't the most helpful of attitudes Lex," Dick said, his voice going cold. "Maybe you need a reminder of what you stand to lose."
Manipulating a control on the keyboard, the panicked scream of a young girl echoed in the room. "Recognized poor sweet little Lena's voice didn't you Lex? My team mates had best be in front of the Superman Statute in Centennial Park at 9:17 on the dot, or that's the memory of her voice you'll have for the rest of your life. Sweet dreams Lex."
Turning away from the computer, he found a pair of furious women staring at him. "What?"
"The little girl," Barbara said quietly. "Explain."
"Right now, Batboy," Raquel agreed. "What have you done?"
A/N: And my tribute to Young Justice continues, and only a year and 5 months between chapters.
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