Slade seriously needed to figure out how the Titans kept predicting their moves, because once again Robin found himself up against his former teammates.
This time, he’d managed to at least retrieve the item of interest--a highly volatile new chemical being researched for its possible uses as an alternative to nuclear power--before the attack had begun, pinning him from all sides. It seemed that his escape stunt a little while ago had finally convinced them to stop going easy on him, because they were fighting with a ferocity he’d never seen against any other villain.
Not that Robin was a villain. He was just saying.
But back to the fight. Robin was about three inches from falling backwards off of a certain skyscraper and he was definitely out of options. Raven had deconstructed his grappling hook earlier, and he clearly wasn’t strong enough to fight his way out of this one. In short, he was out of ideas, and out of time. There was only one escape route left for him, and Robin wasn’t sure he was feeling brave enough to fall forty stories and attempt to stick the landing, especially with the unstable chemical as a passenger.
But he didn’t really have a choice, and with closed eyes and a showy backflip just for fun he entered freefall, praying to the God he only half-believed in that he wouldn’t meet the same fate as the Flying Graysons.
He didn’t, because a certain petty thief plucked him out of the air.
Robin opened his eyes and was surprised to see that it was Red X who had saved him from his probably certain doom, but he stayed silent for the time being. It wasn’t until they’d landed on a certain building’s rooftop and snuck through a window into what must’ve been Red X’s secret hideout of sorts that Robin spoke.
“Don’t thank me or anything,” Red X said dismissively, stretching his arms above his head. “I’m only after what you’re carrying.” Robin looked at him blankly. “The capricium , kid. The thing you just stole less than an hour ago.”
“Yeah, I can’t give you that.” Robin backed towards the window. “Thanks for the rescue, I guess, even though you said not to thank you. But I’ve really got to get back--”
Red X was behind him and slamming the window shut before Robin could even wrap his mind around how fast the other thief had moved. “Oh, come on, kid. Surely you’ve got a few minutes to chat with an old friend? It’s been so long, after all. Or, if you’re really in a hurry,” he added, “You could always just hand over that capricium now and be on your merry way.” Robin glared at him, and he shrugged. “The choice is yours. Your spoils, or your time.”
Robin flopped down into a ratty armchair with a huff. He obviously couldn’t give up the thing he’d been ordered to steal, so it was a matter of figuring out how to escape. He glanced around the room--it looked like a standard, albeit shabby, apartment. Did X live here?
“Nope,” Red X said, answering Robin’s unasked question. “This is just a safehouse--with the kind of stuff I steal, you think I’d live in a dump like this?” He reclined in a chair opposite Robin’s--separated by a low, stained coffee table--and threaded his fingers together casually. “So, kid, let’s chat.”
“I don’t have time to socialize tonight,” Robin muttered, arms crossed.
“Yeah, about that.” Red X pointed at the spot on his own chest where Slade’s insignia was on Robin’s. “Since when do you work for the bad guys?”
“Since never,” Robin stated firmly. “This is just until I find a way out.”
“Sure, sure,” Red X said, nodding along like he totally believed Robin. “But just between you and me? I always knew you had it in you. You wouldn’t have made me this sick suit if you didn’t.”
Robin lunged across the table and grabbed a fistful of Red X’s suit. “Take it back.”
X held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Hey, all I’m saying is, a little teenage rebellion can be healthy, you know? But most normal kids dye their hair or stay out past curfew instead of deciding to become a master criminal and work for a better master criminal.”
Robin was saved from any actions he might have regretted by Slade crashing through Red X’s window.
X groaned. “Thanks a lot. Do you know how hard it’ll be to get those glass shards out of my carpet?”
“I’ve come to collect what is mine,” Slade said simply, and Red X sighed.
“As you can see, he’s right there, and still in one piece. I didn’t even get to take the capricium off of him, much to my disappointment. Take him and get out--I don’t want any suspicious persons being attracted to this place.”
Slade wasted no time in picking Robin up ( bridal style , Robin’s mind supplied, and he blushed) and proceeding to carry him back to their own hideout. “How did you know where to find me?” he asked, trying to take his mind off the fact that he was being carried like a princess.
“I have my ways,” Slade said unhelpfully, and Robin narrowed his eyes. Dodging the question? He had a good idea of what the answer was, then.
“Slade,” he said very calmly, “Is there a tracker in my suit?”
“Your suit has all kinds of useful gadgets built in,” Slade answered. “Global positioning system, heart monitor, and body temperature regulator are only a few. I really went all out when I designed it, Robin. You should be grateful, not angry.”
Robin crossed his arms in frustration. “ Grateful that you feel the need to have my exact coordinates at all times? What, am I not reliable enough to go where you say, huh? Don’t you trust me?”
“Have you given me any reason to trust you?” Slade fired back.
They made it to the abandoned factory, and Robin twisted out of Slade’s grip. “I’ve given you every reason--” Slade started laughing, and Robin saw red . “What’s so funny, Slade?”
“It sounds like you want me to trust you, Robin. It seems to me you’re hurt that I could have so little faith in you. That would certainly be strange, since you seem so convinced that you’re still a hero. But are you really?” He opened the door to the hideout and disappeared inside, leaving Robin in shock.
Did he want Slade to trust him? Well, that was obvious. Of course he did. The sooner that happened, the sooner Slade would let his guard down, and when the time was right, Robin could finally strike back. But was he really hurt that the other man was smarter than that? Robin didn’t want to admit it, but something about that didn’t quite ring false.
He clenched his fists, cursed that stupid masked man under his breath for making things so complicated, and joined his Master in their hideout.