| GOTHAM CITY
| June 28th, 6:32 P.M.
Nora will never be anything less than beautiful to his eyes. Now, more than ever, her beauty reminds him of how frail she really is. Her face is deathly pale from years of living in her frosty chamber and her thin disease-ravaged body looks as if it could easily break with just a touch. Thick sheets of ice enfold her in their embrace, cradling her, keeping her safe yet so far away from his touch.
And it isn't right.
He remembers when Nora's pale cheeks were once a lovely shade of rose. When her bone-thin body had once sported lovely curves that he adored tracing gently with his fingers. He remembers her warm hands enclosing around his own, now unfeeling, ones. And he remembers her lips, her arms, her embrace, always warm and inviting.
And it isn't fair.
She's so close, just tauntingly out of reach, but he can only watch, palms pressed to cold glass. With the chamber at the center of his lab, the one lab he makes absolutely certain even Batman cannot track, Nora serves as a constant reminder of his purpose, his goal.
He's not a petty criminal. Once upon a time, they used to call him a prodigy, a man of promise with a revolutionary view on cryogenics. Before he had sold his soul and adopted his alias of Mr. Freeze, he was once Victor Fries. And above all, he's a scientist. He learns from his failed experiments.
He knows a lost cause when he sees it. With Batman keeping a close eye on his actions, it will take decades - perhaps longer - to obtain enough money to complete his research on Nora's disease, and he'll never finish it alone. His reputation, his appearance, has already alienated him from the scientific community.
But now, he has a better plan. Victor Fries smiles, and he can feel his facial muscles slowly stretch, straining at the unfamiliar action. His hands leisurely stroke a black case that held his newest weapon, compliments of Lex Luthor.
Victor doesn't even mind owing that man – and his organization, the Light was it? – a favor. All the better that their schemes would draw Batman's attention away from his own agenda. Whatever the outcome, he would be the true winner. He had to be, for Nora's sake.
| GOTHAM CITY
| July 4th, 12:00 PM
Another family goes down, frozen under a thick sheet of ice, and he wonders how long it will take the dynamic duo to come. He has planned this meticulously for weeks, making sure to pick the date of the attack on a weekend – the boy wonder was, after all, just a school boy – and at a location the dynamic duo often monitored.
Finally, a batarang bounced off his gun, causing him to stagger slightly. "Batman," he says with only the slightest hint of satisfaction in his voice, "I was wondering when…"
A boyish cackle breaks out, and Victor forces himself to not get into the habit of smiling.
It was show time.
The boy wonder jumps onto his domed helmet, throwing him off balance before smaller red batarangs impale themselves into the glass in front of his face. "Oh, boy wonder," he states in the most unimpressed voice he could manage, "the Bat sent you here to drag me off to prison? Frankly, I'm underwhelmed."
"Great, but I'm kinda in a hurry here," Robin replies with a cocky grin. Victor muses at how carefree, energetic, and sickeningly bright the boy looks – just as Nora once was. Gothamites call him the light to Batman's darkness, his canary yellows and bold reds bringing color to Batman's dull greys and blacks. But if he couldn't have his light, why should Batman be allowed his?
While the boy seemed preoccupied, Victor quickly switches the setting on his weapon and fires.
The boy's eyes widen a fraction and he moves to dodge, but the black dart still manages to hit true to its target and lodges itself in his arm. "Ugh," Robin groans, and he reaches to remove the dart, noticing the ice that quickly begins to crawl up his arm from the location of the wound.
Victor smirks, silently celebrating his success. And it's just in time before Batman descends upon him with a vicious kick. He feigns unconsciousness. No need for a fight. He has already done his part for the Light's scheme.
"Robin," he hears Batman call out. The Bat is as perfect as ever in maintaining a flat tone of voice even in the face of his injured partner.
"It's fine Bats," Robin replies, offering the removed dart to his mentor. "I just need to get my shoulder thawed."
Batman took the dart from Robin's hand and stares at it with narrowed eyes. The weapon is atypical of the ice villain who normally does not go farther than using his primary freeze gun, and he could already assume from the complicated multi-part design that it must have cost a fortune to make - a fortune that Victor Fries had no means of obtaining by himself. "We'll need to get this analyzed."
"But not now Batman, todays the day! It's going to take long enough getting de-thawed! And you promised!"
Robin held his ground firmly, doing his best to mimic Bruce's glare. Gotham had trapped him like a hellish birdcage for the last two weeks with the recent jail breakout and he would absolutely not let Roy and Wally hold his absence to the meeting over his head. A tense stare-off between the two hereos lasts for only seconds until Batman relents and turns away. "Agent A will analyze Freeze's new weapon."
"Yes!" A delighted cackle echoes through Gotham park once again. The defeated villain could already imagine the boy dashing off with a bounce to his step despite the injury. Just as planned.
'Fly little Robin," Victor muses to himself, 'fly while you still can.'
| GOTHAM CITY
| July 5th, 1:30 AM
"We'll need a blood sample," Batman states, not even looking away from the monitor he is typing on.
Robin groans, raising his free arm in exasperation. "I just had a building fall on me today Bats, can't you give me a break?"
"Master Richard," Alfred spoke in a half scolding tone of voice as he wraps his shoulder wound a bit tighter than necessary. Dick winces. Apparently, Alfred still has not forgiven him for 'recklessly endangering your life once again' at Cadmus. "Analysis of the dart has shown an injection mechanism timed to the release of a spray of freezing agent at impact. It is quite possible that he has injected you with something."
A sigh escapes the injured boy, followed by a confused frown. "But…that's just not his game. He's Mr. Freeze," a name that could not be any less creative, Robin thinks to himself, "not Scarecrow. He just freezes things, as lame as that is."
Both Alfred and Batman are giving him identical looks of disapproval. He knows that he has lost, and he isn't feeling the aster at all. "Fine."
| MOUNT JUSTICE
| July 8th, 8:17 AM
"Robin, a word." Batman's voice is low, but as commanding in presence as ever. The younger heros look to him curiously, expecting an explanation for whisking away a teammate so soon, but Batman offers none and instead starts walking towards the Zeta beam.
The team look back at Robin, only to find him missing from his former location. A giggle catches their attention once more - the boy has already slid right next to Batman's side as if he had always been there. He turns his head backwards and gives a casual wave to his friends, "Nice meeting you Miss M, seeya guys!"
"Recognized, Batman, 02. Recognized, Robin, B01."
No questions are asked, and none are explained. M'gann tilts her head at the empty zeta tube. "I wonder what's wrong…"
Superboy and Kaldur, both also unfamiliar with relationship between the dynamic duo, share equally puzzled looks. Wally just drapes an arm casually around Megan's shoulder, unfazed by it all. "Don't sweat it babe, it's just bat stuff. They always do that."
| GOTHAM CITY
| July 8th, 8:27 AM
"So what's up B?"
"Your bloodtests are back."
"Great, all clear?"
Batman grunts in affirmation. He's halfway finished with removing his cowl, and has already changed back to his regular business suit in record time. Bruce Wayne had a meeting to catch, so Batman acts as swiftly and efficiently as ever. "You only have a slight immune response, but you'll be staying under observation to make sure your wounds don't get infected."
Robin groans, yet follows his mentor's cue anyways and takes off his sunglasses. "But it's a Saturday! Can't I at least patrol tonight?"
Before Dick could even start to open his mouth in protest, Bruce throws him a black flashdrive that he reflexively catches. The younger boy cocks an eyebrow. "What's this?"
"Information. Yesterday, four ice villains attacked on the same day, hours apart from each other. "
In seconds, the flashdrive is already hooked up to his wrist computer. Information flashes quickly before his screen and he scans through it with a sharp eye. "Dr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Icicle Junior, and Killer Frost. All are repeat offenders, but they've never even met each other. What's the connection?"
"You find it."
Robin grins, seating himself in the Bat-computer. It wasn't every day that Bruce handed him a case - especially an important one like this. It almost makes up for being benched from patrol. Just barely.