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Mapping Us Out

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"Hatchu" 

It is the end of autumn, shifting closer and closer to the biting cold of Gotham's winter with dry shivering winds welcoming themselves into the city. Despite that, Maps has been keeping her windows wide open since the past few days even during the night, ignoring her chattering teeth and obvious runny nose. She is waiting for someone, or to be precise, for something as she rests her head by the window frame staring hopeful to the reddening autumn sky. It will be her final days in Gotham Academy's dorm, and she has most of her stuff packed into her suitcase and boxes. All she need is to receive one last thing before she moves out.

Maps had practically finished all her required credits and after weeks of begging to her parents, she was finally allowed her to get out of the empty lonely campus ground as most of her close friends had graduated. Sure Maps has other friends from her year, but it was no fun without her gang. In all, the only thing that soothes her loneliness this past semester is the thing she has been eagerly waiting to come. Still, there is no sign of anything coming her way. Try not to lough, but she is actually waiting for a messenger pigeon. Then again, Gotham is filled with people running around in spandex and a list of animal-themed villains. Waiting for a messenger pigeon seems mundane in that retrospect.

It all started in spring of this year. The sun was bright, the flowers were blooming and the trees gave a nice cool shade. It was a nice day to be outside, but being outside alone in such perfect weather was torture for the raven-haired teen. By that time, Kyle had been in collage, Olive was busy with her scholarship applications, while Pom and Colt were nowhere to be found. Maps was bored out of her mind when suddenly there was a sharp gush of wind passing right through her from behind. Whatever it was, it gave out a small thud into a tree. Maps instinctively looked back towards the direction it was shot. Nothing. She assumed that whoever shot the thing might be hiding behind an invisibility cloak or something, because there was nothing, not a single soul, but the short dancing grasses of the flat campus ground. Maps raised her brows in confusion and got up to walked into the forest towards the direction of the wind that had just passed her.

There in the tree bark was a knife like arrowhead with a note tied at its end. Maps was practically flashing out a wide grin at the encounter of this new adventure. Normal people would be spooked out, but Maps found this to be too cool to even care, so she carefully pulled the ever stubborn arrowhead, which resulted into a huge hole in the tree and a scraped elbow as she fell into the ground with a loud thud. She then untied the note only to find dots and dashes written on it. Is this supposed to be a Morse code or something?She thought, while examining the note. A wide grin flashed back into her face, her eyes were now sparkling. Challenge accepted!  

Maps soon found out that the note was a double encryption. While the Morse code was no ordinary Morse code, it was a Wabun code. It was getting more and more exiting for the hyper child. She wanted to scream and rush to Olive with her discovery, but held back in the last minute. In the back of her mind she kind of had the feeling that this should be kept to herself. Beside, she didn't want to disturb her best friend anyway. So, she rushed into the library to get her references. It took her couple of hours, but she managed to solve the code.

After laying out the jumbled up words, Maps was both annoyed and flattered by the quiz-like puzzle in front of her. Annoyed, because whoever made this string of codes felt like they were just trying to mess with Maps by showing off. Flattered, because although the code was almost impossible to crack (especially for any normal people), whoever made this somehow knew their way around Maps's brain to keep her from giving up, but were still merciless with their challenge. In the end, as annoyed as she was, Maps was more than certain that this code was tailor-made for her. A large grin somehow managed to creep into her face followed by a high-pitched chuckle. Sorry Olive, but this is so cool! A little secret won't hurt once in a while.The raven-haired teen thought while clenching both of her fists. Her whole body was physically squealing.

After some hush! and sush! from the people around her, Maps gathered back her thoughts to the code only to notice the reddening sky from the windows. Whatever this code is telling me it should be outside. Maps thought while biting her lower lip, contemplating on whether to continue her adventure or just call it a day. With a long sigh, Maps gathered back her things and turned her heels towards her room. There was the word dawn among the cracked words from the code, so Maps reckoned she should just wake up early and things should fall into place. Hopefully.

In the crack of dawn Maps rushed outside into the forest. After two hours or so of wandering around the woods, she found herself back to the dented tree where she first took out the arrowhead. However, this time there was a rope with a note written, treasure above. Carefully Maps climbed up the tree and found something with a round top under a cloth. A bird cage perhaps? It could also be a globe, but less likely. So she took it and gently placed it and herself back to the ground. A bird change it was, with a pigeon staring back at Maps when she lifted the cloth. Again there was another note. Just what is with this person and notes?

 

Dear Mia

Congratulation on finding your prize, I expected nothing less from you. As you can see this is a home pigeon, but bear in mind that this is no ordinary fowl. Let me instruct you on how to utilize the creature.

If you could just nudge its head and callout your name while facing into it eye-to-eye bearing the same eye level, I am fully certain that you will be in awe.

-R

P.S. Call out with your real full name, as in Mia Mizoguchi and not just Maps.

 

Maps frowned at the note and then to the pigeon. Her thoughts were flooding with questions, but she just could not pass her confusion over the fact that somebody uses the word 'fowl'. Also, how could anybody be so coldhearted and refer using a messenger pigeon as 'utilizing'. Never the less, Maps just did what the note told her to do and calling her being 'in awe' would be an understatement. The raven-haired teen was flabbergasted with eyes and mouth wide open as she let out a high-pitched gasp. The pigeon before her disassembled steam-punk style showing bronze and gold gears as it took shape into a vassal like cage in what was originally the bird's main body. So that's why you 'utilize' it. It's a machine. A super dope machine!Maps thought to herself. She then carefully examined the contraption only to find another note inside the vassal. At least this one was inside an envelope so it looked more like a letter.

 

Dear Mia

Before you rip your head off, I promise you that this will be the last note.

 

Maps snickered at the statement.

 

I hope that you find all of this eventful, as I had fun preparing this for you and would be delighted to continue this endeavor, but only if you are willing, off course.

This bird will always reach me wherever I am and likewise it will to wherever you are. I am currently traveling and having a correspondent to share the journey would mean a lot to me. Again, this is all up to you, but I highly doubt that you would miss the opportunity to have a secret pen pal.

 

"Oh, so whoever they are really did want to keep it a secret," Maps mumbled and gave herself a mental pat in the back for doing so. She sort of smiled at how off-place it was for the writer to use the word 'pen pal'.

 

To reply you only need to place your letter inside the body like how I did and nudge its head again. By doing so will return it into its fowl form. Lastly just kiss its beak and say, "Go!" Within couple of days your letter will sure reach me. By then, please await my reply.

-R

P.S. Feel free to name the bird.

 

After finishing the letter, Maps nudged the bird's head and it did return into its original form. Nobody would have suspected it as anything other than a dopy looking messenger pigeon with a pale cream color. It even moved and sounded like a real dopy home pigeon. Speaking of sound, a large growl escaped from Maps's stomach, which reminded her that she hadn't had breakfast yet. Thus out of pure spite, Maps named the pigeon Meat-bun.

Back to the present, as the clock continue to tick and time continue to pass, Maps still has her head rested on the window frame awaiting Meat-bun to no avail. The bird would always return within a week or two. The longest Maps had to wait for a reply was exactly 20 days and she was greeted with two paragraphs worth of apology. Now, it has been almost a month and Meat-bun is nowhere in sight.

The raven-haired teen sighs and sits up looking absent-mindedly outside her window. The cold is finally getting to her, so she closes the window, hoping that when Meat-bun comes, the bird would just peck the glass to notify her. Not that it had ever happened, that robot is a bit dumb, but Maps's body won't be able to bear the weather anymore as she cranks up her heater and gets ready for bed.

That night Maps could hardly sleep. Her room is cozy and warm with the sound of rain in the background, but her head is dizzy and her throat sore. To top it all off her nose is so stuffed that she could hardly breath. She curses to herself for sleeping in the cold the past few nights. Eventually, sleep creeps into Maps, but it was cut short as a loud thud and crash startled her. Maps sits up wiping her eyes. But before she could fully open them, someone speaks to her, "You're Maps right? Mia Mizoguchi?"

As Maps finally open her eyes and look up she sees a female figure not much bigger than herself, wearing an all white body suite and a mask that looked like a face of a bug with six pink glowing eyes. Maps glances down only to find a person(!) with all-black attire laying on her floor. Perhaps it's a ninja. But why would a ninja and an all-white wearing mask figure be in her room? A normal person would be in a state of shock by now, they would scream or even cry with what is happening, but Maps can't help a giddy smile growing. Oh the mystery!

"By the look on your face, I could assume that you are Maps, right?" The mask-figure leans in and grabs Maps by the wrist, "Come with me, before more pursuers are coming."

"Aaa...who are you? 'Cuz I really should not go with strangers, although that man-bat is so cool and I'd really want to ride that" Maps blurts out as she points both fingers towards the perching Goliath that came to her view.

"I'm just a Nobody, but trust me I'm the good guys," the mask figure chuckles as she throws Maps onto Goliath. "Hold on, okay! It's gonna be a bumpy ride," says the mask girl as she took her own place onto the giant man-bat, placing herself behind Maps. "Oh, word of advice. Don't ever look down," and with that Goliath springs into the air, slicing the wind and rain so fast that not even a yelp escape Maps's mouth.

Maps holds on for dear life as flashes of lights passed by along with cold water piercing into her skin. For a split second Goliath just glided, still fast but steadier with the rain starting to light up. Maps's curiosity won her over as she peak over to look down ... OH GOD JUST HOW FAR UP ARE THEY! Maps's face just gawks in terror, hands clutching into Goliath tighter. She somehow can feel the person behind her laughing.

After overcoming the shock and the cold, Maps takes a deep breath to actually marvel at the view. They are so far up that she could hardly hear anything, not the crimes or the bustling noises of Gotham, just the sight of sparkling lights bellow. It is beautiful, but then Maps's eyes feels blurry as a shiver crawls into her body. Before Maps were to ask where they are heading, the mask girl behind her says, "We're here!"

They land on the top of Wayne Tower followed by a loud thunderclap that brought back a downpour. Maps almost slips trying to get off of Goliath.

Suddenly a shadow creeps into view. "Nobody, what have done!" command a low voice from the shadows.

The masked girl just huffs unimpressed, tilting her head towards the figure who is still hiding in the shadow. "What have I DONE?" She chuckles sarcastically, anger between her lines, "I just did something your sorry little ass were too scared to do!" The other party kept silent while a thunderclap rings in the background. "Don't get all high and mighty with me little brother. Ain't gonna work. Anyway, you know what I've been doing and I'll expect a 'thank you' later and an apology is warrantied!" She turns her heels back to Goliath and climbs up the giant man-bat. "Oh, last thing. Phuulease just stop with this shity ego of yours!" With that Goliath takes flight and in mere seconds the red creature is out of sight.

Maps feels like being in a middle of a sibling squabble. Not that she often has one with Kyle, but she knew better that it is not something you want to meddle in. She then awkwardly faces the figure in the shadow, but her head suddenly turns light, and her sight feels blurry slowly vanishing. Before her legs give up on her, she is scooped into someone's arm and by then she was out cold.

 


 

Maps wakes up to a dimly lit room, a very comfy bed and an incredibly sore throat. She struggles a bit, fighting a mean headache and a very flimsy body as she tries to sit up. For sure she is not in her dorm room, so for sure the events that had occurred ran a high possibility of not being a dream. Her train of thought is cut short when a soft thump of a book being closed came from the corner of the room.

"Glad to see that you're awake," says a deep voice from the same corner. The owner of the voice walks closer to Maps and into the light. When Maps shifts her eyes she could not believe what she sees. Not once ever in her life that the description of tall, dark and handsome were to fit a man so perfectly. The figure before her look to be around her age, with an athletic body of toned muscles easily seen, even if it were hidden beneath a shirt and sweater. He dons a regal looking face with deep blue eyes that is framed by thick short-cropped black hair. If nobody were to say otherwise, Maps would whole-heartedly believe that he is a prince from some distant land. There was a tsunami of questions flooded into her head, but none came through, which leads Maps to end up looking like a gold fish gaping for air.

The princely figure pulls out a chair and sits beside the bed. He crosses his legs and puts out three fingers in front of Maps's face, "You have three questions, so make it count. 

Maps furrows her brows and scrunches her nose, she can't help but retort, "That's just plain old stingy," her voice was far hoarser than she had expected, but continued anyway. "I mean, I think at least I'm entitled for the answers of 'Where am I?', 'What happened?' and 'Who were those people and what do they want from me?'" She ended up being more animated than she had intended with hands all over the place and a voice of a choking zombie, while the prince figure before her just stares at her without even batting an eye. Maps feels frustrated and keeps on rambling, as she struggles to let out her voice that would sometimes mute without her consent, "Also, did I really rode a giant man-bat? Oh, what time is it by the way? Wait, how long have I been out? Oh no, Kyle were suppose to pick me up and I'm not at the dorm and-"

A finger was placed in front of her lips accompanied with a gentle shushing noise that a parent would use on a baby. A sight of the ocean blue bore straight into Maps's eyes, it's cold, distant, yet somehow comforting and oddly familiar. "If you would let me explain," the prince figure says as he tilts his head. Maps just nodded, while he returns to his seat.

"First of all, I would like to apologize on behalf of my associate. She acted abruptly without consent or consultation. It may have ended well, but I cannot avert the fact that she had put you in danger." He pauses for a moment, averting his eyes then sets it back into Maps's, "For your so-called entitled answers, you are currently in Wayne Manor. You were being pursued and were rescued by said associate, code-name Nobody."

The prince figure then leans forward and clasps his fingers. "So, onto the point," he continues with a more serious voice, "you, Mia Mizoguchi are being targeted by an underground organization for your knowledge on Gotham's ancient secret passages and codes. It is a sensitive information that would lead to the exposure of their existence at best or the ability for you to take control of all of their secret armies and artilleries at worst."

Maps gulpes hard causing a painful sting down her throat. 

"And that is why you're here, in Wayne Manor, under the protection of Batman and all his associates. I can assure you that both your school and your family, and anybody else that might be of your concern had been informed of this predicament and will be under our protection if anything were to happen. I must also inform you that there will be a possibility that we must take you out of the city or even the country if deem necessary for your safety." He then leans back into his chair, with a skeptical and underestimating tone he asks, "Is this within you comprehension?"

"You say rude things, but somehow you plan on treating me like I'm the Queen of England," Maps retorts with her furrowed brows and scrunched up nose, as she puts outs out her right hand for a royal hand wave.

He chuckles at that and glances at Maps with a knowing smirk, "Anything else you'd want to ask Your Highness?"

Maps wanta to ask about the secret organization and just anything and everything about Batman, but it seems that the person before her would be tight lip until he thinks it's necessary to give her further information. Moreover, Maps is physically strained to even speak anymore, let alone hold an interview session. She counts her fingers as if making a list of her more urgent questions only to finally remember a teeny bity important detail, "Ah, I didn't catch your name!"

The color of his face vanishes for a moment, but his smirk swoops back in as if it was never gone, "I'm sorry," he chuckles, "the name's Damian, Damian Wayne."

Chapter Text

Damian had heard it from Kyle, he had also heard it from Olive. Heck, he had even seen it himself from afar. But to actually face the reality directly with his own eyes and to hear it with his own ears was not something he could bear. The Mia Mizoguchi in that room is not the Maps he had known. 

"-tt-!" Damian growled between his teeth as he almost slams a fist to the wall, stopping midway. Something warm ran on his cheeks, as droplets of tears fell beyond his control. He hurriedly scrubbed his face, frantically trying to hide any evidence of the outburst of uncontrollable emotion. With a sigh Damian dragged his feet to the kitchen.

The kitchen was silent, as he had expected actually. Pennyworth was probably on his way to Maps's room bringing her something to eat and drink. Father was out on an overdue mission with the Justice League, while all of his brothers, sisters and anybody associated with the manor were out on own devices.

Damian went to the counter to make himself a cup of coffee. Unlike Drake, Damian was definitely not a big fan of the bitter drink and prefer strong black tea if he ever wanted caffeine in his system. But it had been a long night and he needed something to get him back to his sense, additionally the smell of coffee always calms him down.

"I'd take a dash of cream and two spoon full of sugar if you were to drink that, Master Damian," Alfred said as he walks into the kitchen counter with a tray of empty dishes.

"-tt-," Damian eyes the old man and scrunch up his nose, "I am no child, Pennyworth." A line that Damian had overused since the days he first came to the manor. Nowadays the word does carry some weight, as he is growing splendidly into an adult. But never the less, he would never seem to graduate from his title as the baby of the family, hence the treatment he would often received.

"Fear not Master Damian, not all adults even like coffee," Alfred replies as he made himself busy by making his signature hot chocolate. The butler places the steaming hot drink in front of his youngest charge and slides in a plate of chocolate chip cookies near the teen. Damian made a face and cast away his coffee in favor of the food and drinks presented to him. Alfred pulled a small smile and turned his heels to wash the empty dishes he had carried with him.

"How is she?" Damian finally asked after taking a bite of the cookie and a sip from the choco.

Alfred didn’t lift his gaze from the sink as he replied to the question, "At least she has her apatite," eyeing down on the empty bowl of chicken noodle soup, "If nothing goes wrong, a good rest or two is all she'll need to be back to her cheerful self again."

Clunk!

"She'll never be back as she was!" Damian screamed out as he slams his cup on the table resulting in the hot beverage to pour out of the rim and burned his hands. He didn't even flinch at the stinging heat. "Alfred," he continued with a softer, shakier voice, "she asked for my name... She didn't recognize me at all."

Alfred gave a sad sigh and walks towards the freezer, "Well obviously," the butler finally replied as he walks closer to Damian with a bag of ice, "anybody who had not seen you in the past two years would hardly recognize you given how much you had grown." 

"-tt-, so are you saying that she recognized you, Pennyworth?" Damian retorted, finally flinching when Alfred dabs his burned hands with the ice bag, "I doubt you had change at all." 

"Well, for starters. It is arrogant to assume that people would still remember you and your name after years of no contact." Alfred lefts the bags of ice to Damian for him to adjust the pressure himself and looked at his young charge with deadpan eyes. "So, I simply reintroduce myself and she called me Alfie, without missing a beat." The old butler smiles at his last remark showing some deep wrinkles in his now fond expression.

"That doesn't mean anything."

"Well an old man can dream can't he? Especially when it come to the state of his future grand daughter in law."

Damian gawks and his face turned red at the comment, he can't help but stuttered, "W-we are not having that conversation."

"I'm sorry, but you did started it Master Damian." Alfred simply raised one eyebrow, while Damian made a look of defeat. Acknowledging his victory, Alfred changed the topic with slight cough, "Anyway, Miss Maya was here when you were in the room. She left you a box of things she managed to gather from Miss Mia's dorm and a note." Alfred extended his hand to give Damian a folded yellow paper, "She said that you'd want take a look at it."

Damian took the note from Alfred's hand, slowly reading it before his eyes glared wide open, "And where is the box?"

"In the cave, sir."

With that Damian ran straight to the cave with his neglected coffee in hand. This was really going to be a long night.

 


 

The next time Maps open her eyes it was still dark, but rays of light somehow managed to seep in from the extra-thick blinds of the room. She was feeling far better after her rest. Yes her nose was still runny and she still has some heavy cough, but at least her throat was no longer sore and her fever had gone down. The day was all well and good, until the outbreak at breakfast between her and Damian.

"It goes without saying, but under no circumstances you are to leave the manor building." Damian suddenly said between his drinks of tea, not leaving his eyes from the newspaper in hand.

"What? It's a free country, Damian." Maps retorted matter-of-factly.

"Even without the pursuers, and even if you do have the rights of the constitution, you think that flu of yours will heal itself?" The younger teen folded his paper and shot Maps a glare.

"Fine!" He wants a challenge? A challenge he gets, Maps thought, as she replied, "But that's no excuse to confiscate my phone, I know you have them. I mean, you're not even allowing me to contact my own brother."

"As I've told you, the circumstances would not allow it. For all I know, your direct communication with your brother might put him in danger. I've contacted everybody that might be of your concern about this and they had fully understood the situation, which includes your brother, especially your brother!" Damian sighed and his scowl disappeared into a desperate plea, "Please just understand that this is for your own safety."

"But you're making me a prisoner," Maps abruptly replied, slightly raising her tone. Then came silence. She wanted to say something, maybe correcting her previous comment, but did she really wants to take it back? Why did she go on an outburst in the first place? She's never been this short-tempered around people, but then again Damian is no most people. What? Why? Unfortunately, Damian just leaves it at that and excused himself out of the manor for an urgent call. She would have called him back if she had her voice back there, but the expression he had left her with gave a bitter taste in her mouth and that was not due to the medicine.

"Say, what's wrong with your master Titus? He's such a spoilsport. All he does is scowl and glare at people, such a waste on his good looks." Her company, the black Great Dane was sitting with her on the garden's bench, his head was on her lap, whimpering softly with every soft brush on the neck. The raven-haired girl smiles at the gentle-giant and lifts her head to marvel the huge Wayne garden. The air was solemnly dry and lifeless, the trees were stripped out of their leaves except for some pines, and the running water from the fountain gave a fickle sound of ice. It was definitely winter in Gotham.

"I believe that the young master had strictly said that under no circumstances you are to leave the manor building, Miss." An old stern voice came from behind, breaking Maps's winter trance.

"And I strictly said to him that it's a free country," a sneeze broke out, waking Titus, who sat up to look at Maps with a concern puppy-eye stare.

"Well, rebelling against him this way will only confirm his concerns," Alfred drapes a soft warm blanket around Maps's back. Then the butler looked at her with an equally soft and equally warm expression, "If I may ask, why are you so adamant on going outside in the first place, Miss?"

That's what had started the outburst back at breakfast: Maps simply wanted to go outside and Damian not permitting it. She knew that she was being ridiculous, heck she knew it from the first ten seconds she stepped out to the garden that she should just stayed coup-up inside. She was really being ridiculous, ridiculously stubborn. Stubborn for not listening to Damian's logic and stubborn for not listening to her own degrading health, all for an overdue letter. Is a letter from an unknown person worth this much effort, this much waiting, this much bickering?

Maps hummed for a moment before finally breaking the silence that was hovering for sometime since the butler had given his question, "Try not to laugh at me, okay Alfie, 'cuz I'm going to tell you something weird."

Alfred scoffed at that, "Well I live with a billionaire and his countless children with their countless antics. Lets not forget we're in Gotham. She has her own bizarre stories installed. So I think this old man's heart can spare listening to some more weird tales."

Maps lets out a chuckle, "If you put it that way, then me waiting for a messenger pigeon seams less weird now." Alfred raised an eyebrow, but let her continue. Taking the cue to start her story, Maps leaned back to the bench and gazed the garden absentmindedly, "You see, I've been feeling rather lonely lately. Well to be precise, I think it started around the time when my brother was graduating. I know things will bound to change, most of my closest friends are in a year above me, but I can't help that something was missing... someone was missing." 

If Maps had not been so preoccupied with the bald trees and fickle fountain in front of her she would have noticed Alfred's winching expression at her last statement. But she did not see it and the butler had composed his face back to how it was.

"Then came Meat-bun!" Maps explained with a more cheerful tone, "He's the pigeon I mentioned. Well, I named him that way since his a plump, cream-colored, dopey looking bird." She chuckled a little, "Anyway, his owner is my pen-pal and he'd kept me company this past few months and guess what happened?" Maps raised her tone again while looking cheerfully at Alfred.

"What is it?" Alfred gave a deadpan response, but he can't help but form a thin smile at the gleeful looking teen in front of him.

"I was less lonely," She simply said, swinging her feet back and forth. "And the weird part is, this pen-pal of mine feels like the missing someone that I've been longing. Weird right? I mean I don't even know his name."

"Ghastly," was Alfred's come back, followed by, "who would've thought."

"Well, my pen-pal said that Meat-bun would always find me wherever I am. Is just that..." Maps's voice was now absent from the cheerful tone it had, as she lift her feet and hugs it close to her chest, "it's been a month and his reply would always come within two weeks...and..." She trailed off looking at the ground while biting her lower lip.

"And now you miss him again," Alfred huffed a reply and took a seat next to Maps placing a hand on her shoulder. "Tell you what," the butler said with a warm grandpa like smile, "if you miss him this much, I bet he misses you all the same, if not more."

Maps smiled back at Alfred, "Thanks for hearing me out Alfie. It's actually the first time I've ever mention this to anybody." Titus barked at her and nuzzled his head towards Maps's arm, "And you too Titus."

"Then we're honored to have been trusted on this story." Alfred sat up and glanced at the grey sky, "About the pigeon, I'll let you know when a dopey, light-brown bird comes by the garden. So please stay inside and warm up?" With that, Maps finally agreed to come back inside and ran into the manor with Titus on her tail. She'd kill for a hot chocolate.

After a cup of hot choco and couple of naps later, Damian was back at the manor as the sun starts to set. Meanwhile, Maps was sandwiched between Titus and Alfred the cat, sprawling on the carpet by the fireplace when Damian storms inside the common room in full Robin costume safe for the mask that was still in his hand.

"Oh my crap! You're Robin!"

"Obviously," Damian sneers at the remark, "Who'd you think I am? Superboy?"

"Well, you could've been anybody. I mean Batman does have a lot of associates."

Damian hummed in agreement as he walks closer to the fireplace, "Anyhow, I hope your current condition has improved, because there's an urgent matter I need to discuss," he uttered as he towers above Maps. When Damian was about to open his mouth again, Maps cuts in.

"Wait," She raised her hand resulting into an annoyed cat, a confused dog with an equally annoyed and equally confused owner. "Before you say anything else, let me apologize for what happened at breakfast." Maps's eyes were at Damian's for a second before turning allover the place to anywhere but those deep blue eyes. The silence made her more nervous when she tries to speak again, "I shouldn't have lashed out back there. I know you mean well and everything was all for the best of my wellbeing and you even thought about the safety of others. So, I'm sorry... Although I do feel like a prisoner here... But then again... I mean... Well, my point is... I'm sorta loosing my point now." The whole thing ends with an audible gulp from Maps. She could hear Damian's voice in her head, 'Mia Mizoguchi, if you want to apologize then don't force other people to do the same.' Wait, why is she predicting how he would react?

"I guess my actions were also regretful."

That was unexpected. Maps abruptly turned her head towards Damian, who squats down, facing Maps at the same eye level. He bit his lower lip, contemplating on the words he was going to say, "Feel free to loath me now, though you seem to already have, because regretfully I'm going to make you feel more like a prisoner."

Maps furrows her brow, all of her attention now lock into the ocean blue eyes she had been avoiding just seconds ago. The owner of said eyes took it as a sign to explain the urgent matter at hand. In short, the situation had turned for the worst. Intel from Nobody states that Gotham is no longer safe. Maps must leave the city, but they must leave discreetly with no sudden movements or else it could tick off the enemy. The plan was to depart from the manor at tomorrow's midnight, after Damian acquire everything they'd need. He is considering on going to one of his secret base at the lower mountains of the Himalayas. The thing is, He can't promise how long their seclusion might hold, but he predicted that two weeks would be the shortest time span, while two months would be the longest. Damian ended his explanation with an exasperated sigh rubbing the back of his neck with a disdain look in his face.

"-tt- It didn't cross my mind that you'd feel like a prisoner with me. This is genuinely shameful on my part." He bit his lower lip again, looking at Maps with a troubled expression, "Just how can I make it up for you?"

"You'd do that?"

"Who are you taking me for, woman!" his scowl returned, which actually made Maps feel a bit better on milking this opportunity.

Maps taps a finger on her chin making an amused face while smirking at Damian. She then lets out two fingers in front of the younger teen, "I feel like a prisoner mostly because: one, you didn't allow me to talk to anybody from outside and two, you didn't allow me to even go outside." 

Damian looked defeated. He stood up and slams onto an armchair, "So?"

"So," Maps followed suit and took a seat at the footrest in front of him, "you'd either let me meet somebody from the outside or let me out of here, which leads us to my two proposals!" The raven-haired girl straightened up her back as if she was going to give a business presentation, "My first proposal is to let me meet Kyle here in Wayne manor. I know you're going to meet him anyway. So why not just meet him here, a place you deem safe."

Damian rubs his temples as he considers the option, "And what of your second proposal?"

Maps grinned a Cheshire cat grin.

 


  

"HAHAHAHAHAHA!" A loud bark of laughter echoed the night. It was only because of Gotham hustle and bustle that the sound had been muffled. That and the fact that the laughing outlaw was perched up high beside his favorite gargoyle with his baby brother scowling at him. 

"Todd..."

"I'm sorry, but memory or no memory, she's just too good at playing you kid," Jason still has a cackle in him as he wipe a tear from the corner of his eye from too much laughing. His hood was off and he did not even bother wearing any domino mask underneath it. "Oh God, that was a good laugh."

"Are you done?" Robin sneers between his teeth face all annoyed.

"I'm done, I'm done, I'm good, okay where were we?" He finally stood up straight facing the troubled babybat. Yes, Damian will always be a babybat.

"I was consulting you on Maps's second proposal. Do you think it'd be wise to follow it through?"

"Oh yeah, the blueberry waffle thing." There was a cheesy couple promo on blueberry waffle and milkshakes in a diner the whole family frequented. It's a really nice deal actually: good delicious meal for a good price. They weren't so strict with the definition of 'couple' too, as long as there are two people sharing the menu. The promo is held every Friday, which is tomorrow. Jason rubs his stubbed chin and asked, "And why do you need my opinion for?"

"You've been there with her!" Damian quickly replied furrowing his brow deeper.

"Only because you were a dick boyfriend who ditched her out in the cold." It was actually spring and a warm Friday at that time, but that didn't lessen the fact that Damian did ditch Maps last minute on their date. To which, Jason stepped in and kept Maps company for the whole day. As for Damian, he'd lost any future opportunities to bring Maps there again, until now.

Damian opened his mouth then closing it, then opens it again to just collapse his whole body squatting on the ground. His face was buried on his knees as he mumbled, "Why, did she even bring this up in the first place?"

"Oh ho ho," Jason coed at the sight, "this is not the logical Robin speaking nor this the heartless Demon Brat. If it were, you wouldn't even consider her second option, the first one was a good one off the bat." Red Hood leans down and gave a wide smirk, "Oh no, this is Romeo speaking."

Damian shot up glare at him, but didn't comment. Jason had hit the nail on the head, which made Damian look away and bite his lower lip. As much as he wants to tease the babybat, Jason opted not to do so. It was rare to see Damian so flustered and rarer that he went to Jason of all people for help. The teen hardly moved from his ball like position, which made Jason sigh in defeat. "Would you just get up already," Jason finally said, which made Damian unravel his opossum stance. Still there was no other reaction from the teen that kept his pouting face, facing away from his brother. Jason chuckled. It was actually refreshing to see him acting like this, like the brat he was before the whole Maps's amnesia fiasco.

"Look, her situation is different from how Bruce's was." Said Jason as he plays around with his gun, "From where I see it, she's not pushing away those discarded memories. Hell, she might actually want to embrace it." He puts away his gun back to its holster and placed an arm around Damian's shoulder, "So, do yourself a favor and not push her away?" He paused for a moment, averting his eyes and sets it back to the pouting teen, "Again."

"-tt-"

That reaction was all Jason needed. No more prying necessary nor was it wanted on both ends. He scuffled Damian's hair, which resulted into an annoyed Robin reaching for a batarang, when suddenly a memory appeared.

He never actively asks me on a date. So, I was actually suuuper exited for this.

Jason lets out another chuckle. These two are too precious sometimes. Red Hood shook his head, as he remembers that one random Friday. The Romeo was full out oblivious. "Oh, and about the blueberry waffle thing," Jason said while giving the widest smirk possible, "you should be the one who ask her out, not the other way around. She'd like that." And with that Jason puts on his hood and glides away.

Chapter Text

Kyle stands in front of the large mahogany door of Wayne Manor. He nervously knocks it, which results into string of echoes that seems to stretch forever. It is not his first time coming to the manor, but surely the old building always has its ways in intimidating the poor boy. 

"Kyle are you okay?" asked Olive who were standing beside him. Olive took it upon herself to join Kyle when she found out that he was going to meet both Damian and Maps. Initially Kyle was worried that she might burn the whole manor down out of pure anger towards Bruce Wayne's son (not that he can blame her), but now he felt relieved to have her by his side.

"I'm good," Kyle forces a smile as he replied. "I hope that box isn't too heavy though," the tennis player gestured towards the cardboard box Olive was carrying. Another thing that made Kyle relieved to have Olive with him was how she helped him with the packing. He would have left half of the things needed if it wasn't for her.

Olive just gave an amused huffed at Kyle's concern. She was only carrying a small box with light objects inside. While he was the one with the big box and heavy stuff, not that he had trouble carrying, but Kyle's caring side has always been endearing.

Finally the door of the manor was opened and out emerge Alfred, "Glad to see you can make it here, Master Kyle, I hope it was no trouble." Said the old butler as he eyes Kyle then Olive and gave her an intrigued business smile, "What a pleasant surprise for you to join us Miss Olive, the master and miss would be thoroughly overjoyed."

"I doubt on the former," said Olive with a slight chuckle as both her and Kyle stepped into the manor and placed their boxes by the table in the entry hall.

"Nope, I'm positive he is enthusiastic with your visit," Alfred retorted eyeing down the hallway to an un-amused Damian.

"Silverlock," sneered Damian.

"Wayne," Olive sneers back.

The air turned thick. "Mizoguchi!" Kyle cuts in before any more words or eventual fists were exchanged, "I thought all three of us have passed the name introduction phase," he continued with an awkward chuckle that only resulted into the piercing gaze from the two. Feeling defeated he huffed and said, "Look, I brought her with me. I thought it'd be a good idea for Maps to have some girl talk with all that'd happened."

"You don't need to cover for me Kyle," Olive snaps, eyes still sharp, piercing daggers on the blue-eyed teen in front of her. "I barge myself in, so cut the slack and where's Maps, Damian?"

"-tt- Fiery as usual," Damian turned his heals to walk deeper into the hallway. Donning a smug face, he then gestured with his chin signaling both of his guests to follow him. Olive gritted her teeth, Kyle can feel the heat of blood boiling from her. They walk through the hallways for what feels like a never-ending gallery, passing one painting to another until Damian reached a corner where he stopped. "Take this left. She's in the room on the right, you won't miss it."

Kyle and Olive blinks at Damian, then at each other, then back to Damian who despite still donning his signature scowl, it was absent of its signature judgmental and bored look. Instead his eyes were hollow and the corner of his lips seems to be twitching ever so slightly. He looked like a leaking dam that tries to hold out the overflow of conflicting emotions in a form of a crumbling poker face. Kyle scratched the back of his neck and bit his lip, "You're not coming with us?"

"-tt- I at least have enough courtesy to leave you people for a touching reunion," with that Damian took a right and strode away into the distance. When he came to his senses Damian had unconsciously walked into the kitchen. He was leaning behind the kitchen island with his hands clutching the corners tightly, as tight as his bite on his lower lip. He tasted copper on its chapped surface.

"Nice acting back there," said Olive sarcastically.

"Silverlock what the-" Damian abruptly turned towards the door. He was unpleased to say the least to have someone sneaking up on him. His mind was definitely elsewhere.

"I just met Maps last week, while Kyle hasn't been in Gotham for ages. Those two needed their dose of sibling bonding more than any girl talk I could offer." Olive cuts him while walking towards the kitchen counter, helping herself to some juice and cookies. "You know, you're not the only one who's considerate around here," she sneers from across Damian, across the kitchen island.

"Stop beating around the bushes, Silverlock. What do you want?"

The fire wielder leans forward on the kitchen island piercing daggers towards the younger teen, "I want the truth." She then straighten up herself with both arms crossing, eyes still lock on its victim, "What are you playing at brat, what's going on? Who's chasing Maps and why?"

A secret organization who wants Maps's life due to her knowledge of their highly classified information. "-tt-" Damian said to himself under his breath. Such reason would not work on Olive. They both know it was just a cover for something else, something more dangerous. But he tried saying it anyway, "A secret organization who wants Maps's life due to her knowledge of their highly classified information."

Olive scoffed hard, "What? The Court of the Owls? As if! We both know that Maps knowledge of them actually had once saved us and their secret existence."

"At least that's how I reason with her," Damian tried to keep his voice leveled, though tempted to follow through on the high tension brought by the heated fire wielder. He took a deep breath and sigh, averting his eyes from Olive and leans back against the kitchen island. The tension he had felt slowly dissipates, turning him back into his deadpan, hollow, twitching demeanor, "If I had known who's behind this all, I would have settled it without showing myself to her."

Olive was taken aback by the sheer rawness of that statement. Even without looking at the young vigilante's face, she could feel the sadness penetration from his lonely back. She felt defeated somehow, the fire in her flickered down. "As much as I hate you," she grumbles while scratching her temples, "I can't see you like this! So, would you just stop that?" Damian turns his head towards her and made a puzzled look. "Yes, that! You distancing yourself from her! Stop that!"

Damian did not flinch, hearing her out like sermon. Olive took it as a sign to continue, "Don't get me wrong, I hate you, but Maps likes you and I respected that. I also know that you wholeheartedly care for Maps. So what I'm trying to say is please just be there for her this time. Things are already a mess, and she doesn't need you emotionally breaking down on her."

There was a pause for a moment until Damian straighten himself and walks towards the door, "She wouldn't be in this mess if I wasn't in the picture. I should've never been part of her life." Hearing the words passes her ear, Olive's blood just boils right back, but before she could retort, spiting flames towards Damian (both literally and figuratively), the tall boy beat her to it, "At least we agree on one thing, Silverlock. I also hate myself." With that Damian was gone from the kitchen, leaving Olive dumfounded. With a long sigh, while scratching her temple in utter defeat, she recollected their conversation. In short, Olive has just taken one step forward and ten steps back in this overall fiasco.

 


 

 

"Kyle! Wait, you're alone?" exclaimed Maps from the sofa, Titus on her feet and Alfred the cat on her lap. "I could've sworn Damian would be here and watch us like a hawk." 

Kyle chuckled and took a seat beside her. "How are you feeling Mia? I heard you had a nasty fever."

"Nasty is putting it lightly. I felt like a prickly puddle of noodles. It was horrible!" his sister replied with an animated face, gaging her tongue out at the end of her Shakespeare-like speech. "It's gotten better though! The fever's gone down and all." She perked up immediately, but went stoic just as fast. She leaned forwards to her brother, gesturing to him to lend his ear, which he obliged. "This place is so mysterious I tell you!" It was supposed to be a whisper, but it was loud enough for Kyle to hear it like any normal conversation. "I think the butler is a biologically engineered super human. That or he's an alien. I mean his abilities are out of this wooorld, especially those cookies!" exclaimed Maps while pointing out at Alfred's freshly baked cookies that were sitting nicely on the coffee table.

The tennis player tries to hold his laughter at Maps's hypothesis on Alfred. But before he could say anything, his sister scooted closer. Now she was really whispering, "But I'm certain on one thing," she said scoping the room just to make sure there were no eavesdroppers. She crouched closer to her brother's ear and whispered, "Damian is Robin!"

Kyle didn't know how to make of the situation. He had known Damian was Robin for a long time. Since the day Maps brought Damian with her to tell him that they were dating, but Maps didn't know that. However all of his worries went down the drain when he sees his sister's face gleaming with excitement of the great mystery she had discovered and the upcoming adventures ahead. Kyle smiled his sweet brotherly smile, "Seems like you're having fun."

"You betcha! It's still kinda sucked I can't have my phone though."

"About that," said Kyle while pulling something out of his bag pack, "you might want these to distract yourself, keeps yourself entertained." Kyle handed Maps a tote bag. Inside of it were mostly books. Her detective-notes case files, some of her clippings, her year book(!) and THE SEPENTS AND SPELLS HANDBOOK!

"OMG! This is perfect!" Maps also finds some DIY set kits and a new activity book she had always wanted to try out. "It's super analogue, even Damian would not complain abou..." she stopped short on the 't'. She pulled out a hair clip. It was her yellow flower hairclip, a signature accessory she used to wear when her hair was still short. Now, Maps grew her hair out letting the long silky locks to fall freely, which would sometimes covers her face and noticeably always covers her ears.

"Has Damian ever mentioned to you about..." said Kyle trailing off as he taps the left side of his head.

"The hair or the ear?"

"Both."

"Well," Maps mumbled as she played with the hair clip, "I guess my hair is now waaay longer compared to when we first met."

Kyle blinks at that. He indiscreetly straightens up and looked at his sister in shock, "Wait, you remember meeting Damian Wayne before?"

"It's hard not to, when you indirectly expelled the person," replied Maps nonchalantly. Dismissing the shock in Kyle's face like any of his everyday brotherly worry. "But damn did he caught me off guard. Four years sure change a person. But then again, he's still a jerk!" Maps's face suddenly fell. She sits back on the sofa and rubs her left ear under all the hair she gathered in that particular area. "I bet he'd be like all those other jerks or those who'd be all pity party if he ever takes a look at my ear." On a normal person, Maps's pout would look like a puppy pout that children would make, which can be easily remedy by ice creams or toys. But, Kyle knows better that his sister's pout equals to some deeper, more devastating turmoil.

"Mia," he huffed leaning closer to his sister and took the hair clip from her hand, "he's a crime-fighting vigilante. I think a cut ear is the least gruesome thing he'd joked about, let along be bothered with." Using the flower hair clip, he pulled back Map's raven locks, revealing her face and finally her left ear. It's as Kyle said, Maps's left ear was that of an ear that has its earlobe and some parts around the bottom cut away. It's not the usual half circle like any normal person's, but shaped more like an uneven triangle, a dangling remnants of what's left of her left ear. At her most positive moments Maps would describe it like a cheesy pizza slice, but now was not one of those moments, at least not until she registered the kind familiar smile Kyle gave.

Maps looked up to her brother and gave a wide relieved grin and jumps at him to give him a tight hug, repeating again and again on how much she misses him. Only then Olive finally entered the room giving a slight cough while saying, "I hope I'm not interrupting anything." to which Maps gleams brighter then a lighthouse at the sight of her. They ended up talking without the care of the world, as if they were in the dorm room of Gotham Academy and not in the house of one of the richest man of the city. It was only when Alfred entered the room that they noticed the time. Sunset was on their heels reminding them that they would not see each other again for a while.

Maps walks the guests to the door only to be joined midway by Damian. He was gushing about hospitality of a host, which ended up with some bickering between him and Olive joined by laughter from the siblings, but all and all it was a civil send off with Kyle giving his brotherly last words to Damian, "I'll leave Mia to you."

Both Damian and Maps stayed at the entryway as the front door finally closes with a click. Maps was still waving her hand, even though their guests were no longer in sight. When Damian was about to turn his heels he noticed a small addition on Maps's head. A flower hair clip he had known so well over the years. It pulled away hairs from her face, giving him a better view at her glowing smile. To think that it didn't bother him at first when she was not wearing it.

"Hey, your hair-" Damian was about to say Map's hair looked nice on her. It really does, but Maps suddenly rushed a hand to her exposed left ear, combing her hair down in order to hide it.

Shit, Damian thought. It finally registered to him the condition of Map's ear, accompanied with the echoes of maniacal laughter ringing in his head. Needles of screams, shrieks, and crash were stabbing his brain alongside the smell of gasoline and smoke, evoking one of his darkest memories. The teen boy gritted his teeth, anger and guilt runs amok inside of him, even more so when he observe the petite girl before his eyes. Mia Mizoguchi, one of the most positive, happy go lucky kid he'd known was all pale and fidgeting uncomfortably, looking at anywhere but Damian's direction.

...do yourself a favor and not push her away? Again.

...please just be there for her this time.

...I'll leave Mia to you.

Damian flinched at those words. All this time, running away has always been his option to shelter Maps away from the demons that lives in his shadows, away from the danger that always accompanies him like day and night. Little that he knows, those demons he's been dragging with him all this time had found their way to creep into Maps's life again. And during those times he was not there by her side.

"Screw this," he mumbled under his breath making Maps flinched and look at Damian. He didn't meet Maps's eyes, but was rolling his right sleeve up to its shoulder, showing the strong defined muscles of his forearm and battle scars he had worn since the days of his childhood. Some of the scars were insignificant small cuts, but some were deep budging skin, while others were craters in his skin where muscles were supposed to be. Maps just gawks at the sight, looking back and forth between Damian's arm and face.

"These scars, are you repulsed by it?" He mumbles while glancing at Maps with the corner of his eyes.

"No, not really. It looks kinda cool actually." 

"-tt- You'd say otherwise if you'd known how I got them." rolling down back his sleeve he then finally turned to look at Maps in the eye. "Same goes with your ear, I don't care how it came to be, keep its backstory all to yourself."

Again Maps just gawks back at him, giving owlish blinks while she bit her lower lip and said, "It's not that I mind telling people how I got them, but every time I do, they'd always pinned me as some reckless, danger-seeking fool." You are all of those qualities. And again a voice in her head predicts the words Damian would say. What, why?

"Even if you are, which you are case in point a reckless danger-seeking fool, screw them."

Again, his reply was unexpected, closer to the prediction than the first one, but never the less unexpected...ly nice and comforting. Somehow all of her worries gone down the drain, lights returned to her eyes and for whatever reason she starts chuckling. Her left hand then moves on its own, pulling back her raven locks behind her cut ear. "There was a shoot out, in front of the bank. I don't know how I got there or why was I even there, but I caught a stray bullet in the ear and... guess that's what happened. Well thank my lucky stars it missed my head"

"Not when the bullets were intentionally aimed at your ear."

"Sorry?"

"Nothing. Anyway, I'm fine if you don't want to show it, but you don't need to hide it, at least not in front of me." With that Damian finally turned his heals and walks away, but before he was out of ear shot he shouted jokingly, "Since it is the least gruesome thing I'd be bothered with!"

Maps's eyes bulged at that comment. For one, did Damian Wayne, Robin to Batman just made a joke? Two, DID HE ACTUALLY BUGGED ME! Maps's mouth was still hanging in mid air while she could see Damian's shoulder shaking a chuckle. A mischievous grin grew and then Maps bolted and tackles Damian from behind. Off course Robin would have anticipated that, as he stopped his tracks and affirmed his stance for impact. What he didn't expect was the soft peck at his cheek followed by the brightest smile Maps could offer. "Always rude as ever, but thanks Damian." After saying that Maps just skips away while humming a happy tune.

Something inside Damian just summersaulted.

 


 

 

The sun was slowly rising. Its lights shone trough layers of silk-like clouds giving a hue of night and day. In between the display of soft tint of spectrum, the batplane glides stealthily, cutting through the winds as if moving in vacuum. By the passenger seat Maps was sleeping. Damian bent a warm smile at the sight, giving nostalgic fuzzy feelings in his chest. He could not recall the last time he felt so at peace, thinking of it as some distant past. Especially, when not too long ago both him and Maps were pulling each other's hair through utter chaos just to get her buckled up in her seat. In short, Maps was full on geek-ing out over the batplane, which involves a lot of squealing and button pushing. Damian chuckled at the recent memory while glancing back to the front window only to finally realize the marvelous view nature had in store. 

"Mia," he said while shaking Maps on the shoulder, "Mia, wake up."

"Five more minutes mom," Maps mumbled as she shifted around scrubbing her eyes while making loud clapping noises with her mouth. Her eyes were blinking fast, twinkling sleep out of her system. When she noticed the sight in front of her, both eyes were bulging forward and so was her body that was now glued to the window, taking in the wondrous sunrise. "WOW! This is beautiful!" she remarks.

Behind the steering wheal, Damian gave a light smirk, glancing at Maps with the corner of his eye, "When you're done marveling the view, feel free to go back to sleep. We still have another two hoers before reaching our destination."

Maps blinks and turned her head towards the pilot, "You deliberately woke me just to show me the sunrise?"

Damian nonchalantly replied, "-tt- You're loving the view don't you?" He gave a smug grin, eye still on the steering wheal. "Now go back to sleep so I can return to some peace and quite."

Maps wanted to retort at that, but was not able to as a yawn escaped her. She was still a bit sleepy, but not enough to return her to slumber. Strangely enough, she actually gave in to Damian's peace and quite. Not that it felt wrong or uncomfortable, it was actually rather pleasant. Perhaps it was the soothing sound of the engine, or the serenity of the sky, but overall the silence they share was as comforting as the fluffy clouds that came into view. Damian's silence was also strangely comforting. Maps was actually taken aback to see Damian without a scowl or to be precise without any lines contorting his face. He looked more like a prince then ever, like a prince in a Persian painting. But unlike those lifeless paintings, his presence was like a predator that is ready to strike at any time, while his eyes were full of assertiveness and dignified authority, but with a tint of cautions and woe. The eyes of a person who has went through a lot in life, despite his age. A person who must have has gone trough all sorts of tales and adventures that Maps would die just to hear to them all. She didn't ask though, opted to just savor the comforting silence. They have weeks ahead of them anyway, she can ask those stories later.

The two teens stayed like this throughout the rest of the flight. Damian was the one to break the silence when he said, "Brace for landing."

They entered a secret door that leads to a tunnel of lines of flashing lights. When they finally landed Damian opened the window and jumped out of his seat only to stop on the nose of the plane. Maps followed suit and crawls her way up to where Damian is. Back was Damian's contorting face, creases between his brows and nose showing the face of utter disgust towards whoever or whatever it was he is facing. When Maps turned her head towards the poor fellow, she was also contorting her face with creases on her forehead as her brows shot up to her hairline.

Someone was hovering in there, red cape and all, donning a wide mischievous grin.

"Kent, what are you doing here?"

Chapter Text

"Kent, what are you doing here?" Said Damian with a glare that can claim lives.

The floating boy hovers straight into Damian's face with an annoyed disgruntled look, "Seriously? Unlike someone, I don't just barge in out of the blue! You told me to come here and..." he trailed off when he caught sight of a particular somebody by Robin's side. A wide smirk grew on his charming face, as he hovers closer to the lucky lady, "Why hello there, I thought shorty here was alone."

Maps's eyes were bulging, her eyebrows raised high up to her hairline as she finally burst into a giddy squeak, "You're flying! Oh my crap! You're flying! Damian, he's flying, he's hovering in the aiiiir! Is this a trick? Are there wires? Or maybe you're wearing jetpacks?" With each question Maps steps closer and closer to the flying boy, and before they could get any closer Damian's hand reaches Maps's shirt pulling her away and into his side.

"You don't need to concern yourself with this country-side alien, Mia. We still have stuff to do." Said Damian while pulling Maps towards the baggage compartment of the batplane.

"Hey, she was just curious you know," the floating boy finally sets his foot on the nose of the batplane and walks closer to the other two. Maps was so preoccupied with the fact that he was flying(!), she missed out on the boy's appearance. He was definitely around her age perhaps younger, but was freakishly tall and she thought Damian had hit some massive growth spurt. If Damian looked like a dark, tall and handsome prince, this boy looked like the charming boy-next-door type of guy that fathers would let their daughters date. He was wearing some casual jeans and convers paired with a caped jacket hoodie that has a... wait a minute.

"Oh... my... god..." said Maps with jaws hanging in the air, while eyes focused on the bright red symbol on the charming boy's chest, "Are you Superman? Is that why you call him alien, Damian?" Maps's eye was sparkling as she turned her head towards Robin who were busy sorting out some stuff in the baggage compartment.

"-tt-" replied Damian turning his whole body to face the so called Superman, "Alien, partly yes. Superman?" He scoffed at that, "This brat of skin and bones who hasn't even cracked his voice, a man?"

"Hey! My voice has cracked you know." the other boy retorted. Indeed his voice was deep, although squeaky when compared to Damian's. The mysterious boy huffed, but then raised one eyebrow drawing a smug smirk and challenging eyes straight towards Damian, "Say whatever you like Damian, but I'm still taller than you."

Ouch...that burns. Maps thought.

Damian narrowed his eyes and pursed his lower lip taking a wide step to stand right in front of the other boy. Indeed Damian was the shorter of the two by some centimeters, but he was thicker with broader shoulders and finer muscles that tightened as he crosses his arms. Both boys were sizing each other up, ready to start a brawl at a flinch of a finger.

"Ehem," Maps fake-coughed that thankfully managed to draw the intentions of the two piles of raging testosterones. "Damian, I thought you said we have something to do? And you, whoever you are, we haven't introduced ourselves. The name's Mia Mizoguchi, but call me Maps."

Now the two boys were dumbfounded. Damian just tt-ed turning his face away, while the other boy lets out a chuckle and replied, "Sorry about that. I'm Jon, Superboy."

That explains the S. Maps thought as she extended her hand for a proper introductory handshake before Damian grabbed Jon's wrist and said insolently, "Why don't you use these filthy hands to help around, since you've kindly accepted my invitation to come here, hmm?" Damian dragged the poor boy near the baggage compartment and handed him two piles of large boxes. "I need to show Maps around the place, so it'd be super helpful if you could take those boxes into the computer room." A sly one-sided smile grew on his face as he continued, "You know, make yourself useful?"

It has only been three minute, but two times already these two are at each other's throat with one person having a smug face while the other looks irritated. Maps thought another brawl were about to happen again, but Jon just huffed and obliged, taking the boxes away into a corridor that seems to lead to the computer room.

Damian grabbed a large sling bag and hands Maps her signature yellow backpack. They slowly jump off the batplane with Damian actually looking calm and collected in a Damian sort of way, which ensued to emit some regal demeanor. It was as if those little incidents with Superboy had never happened.

"Hey, is it okay to leave him just like that?" said Maps looking at the corridor where Jon went.

"Hah? I told you not to concern yourself with that guy, didn't I?" replied Damian with a slightly higher tone than usual. Now, his face was full on annoyed, irritated, as he suppresses a growl under his breath. Sure Maps has seen Damian's annoyed face countless of times the past four days, but this time something was off. There's a hint of hostility behind that face. Was it something she said? Or was it because of Jon? However, as sudden as that hostility surfaced, it was gone just as immediate. Damian managed to revert back into his brand of calm and collective demeanor. He gave a long sigh, turning his face away and mumbled, "He'll be fine. Need I remind you that he is Superboy. He's unworthy of that cape if he couldn't even do such simple task." With that Damian walks of into a corridor gesturing Maps to follow. Maps blinks for a second, shook her head and then ran towards the corridor to catch up with Damian. The raven-haired girl tries to hold a giggle while thinking to herself that this stoic prince was looking more and more human by the day. Such a peculiar fella that's just way too interesting to ignore.

Damian said that he was taking Maps to her room. They have been walking through hallways after hallways after hallways, turning right and left, but don’t seem to reach said room. Perhaps it was just Damian's way to confuse Maps with the interior of the cave so that she won't wonder off. Nope, it was definitely Damian's way to confuse Maps, because that was the third time Maps saw that weird yellow rock on the ceiling. They took a left and finally reaching a wooden door which Damian opened with a key.

"This will be your room," he said allowing Maps to enter first before following suit. It was a decent size room, not too small not too big. The lights were dim and the interior was rustic with wooden carvings in some of the furniture, a bit spooky, but oddly comfy. Maps tried the bed, it was as good as the ones in Wayne Manor. The only offside of the whole room was the lack of window to see outside.

"The shower is in the back if you want to freshen up." Damian cuts in as he placed the sling bag beside the drawer. "I still have things I need to sort out with Jon. So, just stay here and get some rest."

"But I slept throughout the whole ride," Maps whined sounding and looking like a toddler about to throw a fit.

Damian gave a sideway-glance trying to hold back a sneer. He then walks closer to Maps and took her backpack from her. "Sleep. You haven't fully recovered. Moreover, this place is completely different from Gotham. It's colder, dryer, and not to mention the altitude and time difference. Your body needs to adjust." The blue-eyed teen spoke with a parent-like commending tone trying to sound as reasonable as he could muster.

Maps knew that there was no room for argument. She gave in giving a slight nod in the end, while looking all defeated, pouting with eyes glancing at the end of the bed. Two years I didn't see her and she still acts like a child. Damian thought to himself. Cute. He then placed Maps's backpack near the sling bag and walks towards the door. Before he shut the door behind him, he glances towards Maps and said, "Rest," which Maps replied by sticking her tongue out. -tt- Such a child.

Damian walks back to the batplane, only needing to take three turns to reach the tall ceiling room. Hence, Maps's suspicion on his twisted tour was right. He was intentionally messing with her by taking her way around and around the cave. He chuckled at the image of Maps puffing her cheeks like an upset puffer fish if she ever finds out about it. She might already have figured it out, but Damian still wants to see her annoyed face regarding the matter.

He jumps into the cockpit seat and pushed a button by the steering wheal. Clunk. A sound came from between the cockpit and passenger seat revealing a secret compartment. Damian reached into the small space to take out a square metal box that's about the size of his palm. He secures the metal box in his cape and jump off the batplane to walk towards the computer room.

"Kent," Damian called out into the room full of monitors. Nothing. Robin furrows his eyebrows at the lack of response. His friend has super hearing and Damian wasn't exactly walking stealthily when he came in. The Kryptonian half-ling would normally have made his presence known if he caught Damian in his radar. He walks closer to the monitors and scouts the camera footage of the whole cave. Not in the kitchen, nor in any hallways. He observed the room one more time and noticed that the boxes that Jon had stacked up was all over the place. Damian passed the toilet on his way into the room and there was nobody there. Where could he...Shit!

Damian ran towards Maps's room only to find it empty. He then ran back to the computer room and played back the camera footage of the computer room. Just as he suspected. Maps found the secret passage between her room and the computer room. She was talking to a panicking Jon before somehow both of them sprint out and disappeared from the room. Seconds later, Damian entered the room. Damian examines the cave one more time. There was only one living life force in the cave, meaning that the other two had left the mountain. "-tt-" he should've seen it coming. How un-cute.


 

"I am soo... dead," grumbled Jon as his Titan communicator was beeping like crazy. He took a deep breath, shut his teeth tight, bracing for impact as he hit the answer button.

"Jonathan Samuel Kent!" screamed Damian from the other side of the line. To think that anybody other than his immediate family could make Jon freaked out at the call of his full name. "Where are you and where is Maps? You get you ass back here right now, or I'll skin you alive!"

Jon took another long breath to shout back at his communicator, "I would if I could! Did you know that your little lady here has a kryptonite in her hairpin! It's not like I kidnaped her, I am also the victim here."

There was a sudden silence from the other side of the com. Did Damian just hang up? Jon did a hello-hello to check if Robin was still with him when finally Damian blurts out, "Oh, so that's where my tiny kryptonite went."

"Seriously Damian?!" Jon was now certain that he would not be the one to end up dead tonight, as he plans all the available options to murder his friend. Yes, friend. For better or worse, Jon still consider Damian as his friend, or so he thought. Maybe he should reconsider this, but perhaps later. Jon pinched the bridge of his nose trying to calm himself down before finally talking back into the com, "Anyway she insisted on sight seeing. I don't really mind flying her here and there, even if you do, but that kryptonite is really giving me the weezies."

"Let me talk to her."

"Hold on a second, I need to keep a certain distance between us so that-"

"Just hurry you coward!"

Jon made a face at that, but decided not to comment on it and flew up to a large dry tree. "Maps!" barked Superboy. A sound of rustling twigs was accompanied with some yelp and finally Maps pops into view. Jon tried his best to keep a friendly face, although his lips were twitching and his stomach was doing roller coaster loops. Kryptonite really gives him the weezies. "Damian wants to talk to you," he said, throwing the com towards Maps and fly off and away from the kryptonite radiation.

Once he was in a safe distance he collapsed on the ground trying to get the nausea out. He sat back right up when he heard something interesting with his super hearing. Not that Jon likes to eavesdrop, but listening to Maps and Damian bickering at each other was always entertaining and a bit nostalgic, as he hasn't heard it for a good two years. Speaking of two years, Jon hadn't seen Damian this animated and expressive since. Even Damian's witty remarks towards the farm-boy were warmly welcome for now. When he was absentmindedly listening into their conversation, Jon can hear Maps's chuckle, so he guessed she won whatever argument they had. When the com was turned off, Jon heard Maps calls his name, well call Superboy, so he flew back towards the large dry tree.

"Wow, you really do have super hearing!" Maps squealed when Jon was hovering in front of her keeping some distance in between.

Strange, the Kryptonite radiation was gone. She couldn't have thrown it away, but Jon was feeling okay being around her, so he flew closer towards Maps and landed right beside her.

"I'm sorry about the kryptonite, I didn't even know I have it." Said Maps looking genuinely worried. "I really didn't mean to threaten you or anything, really!"

"No it's cool, I'm sorry I was also freaking out back then," Jon replied with a sheepish smile. Looking back, Jon probably acted like an acarophobic sissy meeting a cockroach. He tried to brush away that thought and pull his attention back to the raven-haired girl, "By the way, what did you do to it? I couldn't feel it anymore." 

"Oh, Damian told me to put it in the special kryptonite box that he packed in my adventure bag," replied Maps proudly as she refers to her yellow backpack.

Jon raises an eyebrow at that, "And why would he pack a 'special kryptonite box'?"

"Ehm, because he may or may have not also deliberately packed me a kryptonite?" said Maps sheepishly.

That's it! Jon is definitely reevaluating their friendship.

"Sorry?"

"What, no! You shouldn't be! It's Damian who's at fault." Jon replied frantically, he was probably making a killing glare that was reserved for villains and Damian alike. Rubbing the back of his neck he continued, "So, what did shorty say? Should we head back to the cave or...?

"Well, Damian said we could go around the place as long as we return in three hoers."

"Do you have anywhere in mind?"

"Hm..." Maps hums as she rubs her chin, "Damian did say that we're in the Himalayas, though never told me exactly where, so I thought we could go to the top of world!" she exclaimed with wide, bright grin and a finger pointing upwards.

"I am not taking you to Mount Everest. Please, anywhere but Mount Everest."

"Then, the roof of the world?" continued Maps still with her bright, wide grin.

"Lhasa? Sure I guess, but it's all way up in China. I'm not sure if we can come back here within three hoers and..." Jon rambled away, scratching the back of his neck.

"Come ooon..." whine Maps as she looked up to Jon with a devilish smirk, "Or is Superboy too slow to fly here and there within three hoers."

Jon felt a twitch in his stomach when he heard Maps said that. He sized himself up to the petite girl, returning a smirk in the process, "Is that suppose to be a challenge?"

"You bet it is!" replied Maps nonchalantly making a face. Jon knows that face way too well. It was the same face Damian would make whenever he was about to drag them into trouble. He tried to hold a chuckle and just huffed in defeat. He remembered the batfamily saying that at the worst of days both Maps and Damian are bad influences to each other, but he wouldn't have thought such influence could still surfaced at the face of memory lost. But then again this is Maps we're talking about. With or without Damian's influence, she had always has Damian at the palm of her hand. So displaying some simple challenge like this would be child's play for her.

"Okay then, hop on the Superboy Express," said Jon crouching down in front of Maps.

"You're gonna carry me piggy back?"

"Trust me, I don't think Damian would let me live if I princess carry you." Jon commented receiving a laugh from the petite girl, "Besides, you'll have better view." With that Maps hops on Jon's back and hugged his shoulders. After securing their position, Jon steadies his stance and lifts of the ground. Up, up, and awaaaay!

As they were just bellow clouds Maps sits up to marvel at the view. Her left hand was still clutching at Jon's cape tightly, while her right hand was on top of her eyes, breaking in the light from glaring into it, so that she could take in the magnificent gradient of black and white of stone and snow. It was tranquil, peaceful and Maps wonders if she could spot some mountain goats or something to give a tint of color in the monochrome sight. Up in front she saw some flock of black dots. What could it be? She leaned forward, narrowing her eyes. It finally registered to her what it was, as she frantically screamed and shook Jon off balanced.

"Pigeons!"

Chapter Text

02:52:30 

The timer on Damian’s wrist is ticking towards the crucial three-hour mark while his fingers are tapping harmoniously to an anxious rhythm on his kneepad. When it would finally reach 03:00:00, without a second to spare Damian will be in the batplane and off to picks Maps up and skin Jon on the way back, well pick up Maps and probably throw Jon to the Bermuda Triangle on the way back. At least that's what he's been picturing to himself for the last ten minutes. If it weren't for his disturbingly vivid imagination, he'd be tempted to go to the computer, locate both Maps and Jon's whereabouts and drag them back right now. He sighs at the thought, to the very least he would want to keep his promise with Maps: three hours of sightseeing with Jon without Damian interfering.

02:58:45

Damian finally stands up and walks towards the batplane. Less than two minutes before he'd be gone in a heartbeat and that's when suddenly a loud crash came in from above followed by a blue blur that came tumbling on the hangar floor.

"And a minute to spear!" squealed Maps. She was upside down with her head on the floor. She then rolled to her side and chuckled breathlessly when she caught the sight of Robin's awestruck face, complete with hanging jaw and all.  

"Three minutes and thirty-two seconds, from Lhasa to here, with a passenger!" said Jon equally breathless pointing a finger to the air, while the rest of his body sprawled like starfish on the cold metal floor. He flops his arm and joined Maps in the chuckle, "I think I broke my record Damian."

Robin's timer went off with a loud beeping noise, which he instantly killed. "Well I hope that's not the only thing you'll brake, farm-boy." He walks towards Maps, deliberately stepping on Superboy's stomach as he passed the poor teen, resulting a gruffly Ouff! from the Kryptonian half-ling. Damian then knelt beside Maps and scooped her into a princess carry.

"Is it okay to leave him like that?" Maps said peering behind Damian's shoulders towards the fallen Superboy.

"-tt- he'll live, while you on the other hand might have not," grumbled Damian. He walks towards Maps's room taking the shorter route, stomping his anger in each step, "Did it even occur to you how dangerous it is to travel at such speed? You're not even fully covered! What if something hit your head? The impact could have shattered your brain and-"

His rambling anger was cut of by a chuckle. He looked down and saw Maps grinning widely, "Hey, at least I kept my end of the promise." Damian was about to open his mouth again to argue when fingers caress his cheek, "Thanks for keeping yours," Maps smiled sweetly and snuggled her head in Damian's chest, breathing evenly as she fell asleep.  

 


 

Maps woke up to a candle lit room. It took her a moment to recollect herself and make sense of her surroundings: soft bed with thick embroidered blankets, archaic furniture of foreign patterns, and stonewalls with glowing rock shards in every corner of the room. Oh yeah, I'm with Damian. Somehow that simple thought made so much sense for her brain to rationalize the bizarre situation she's currently in. With a gruff she struggles to sit up and get out of bed. Now standing, Maps observes that she is still wearing the same clothes she had when leaving Wayne Manor and with a small whiff she is also in dire need of a shower.

Showered and clothed in an oversized sweatshirt and some woolly leggings Maps puts on her trusty yellow sneakers and walks out of the room. The hallway was eerily silent, safe for the high pitch whistle of the wind. Maps follows the sound of the wind, which leads to hallways after hallways passing the empty computer room and kitchen. Where's Damian. She thought for a moment, but then again him being absent would mean a golden opportunity for Maps to do a little 'sight-seeing'. She giggled at the idea and skips towards the batplane hangar. Her footsteps echoes as she walks along the metal platforms that connect the main inner rooms and the tall stonewalled open-space plane hangar. Her original destination was - off course - the batplane, but a strong roaring sound stopped her tracks. It was the wind. She carefully turned her heels towards the sound, curious to find any cracks that would and could connect her to the outside.  

To her surprise, it was not that hard to find the door to the outside world, which took shape as a large rusty metal door, slightly opened thus giving the high-pitched whistle Maps has been hearing since she woke up. She carefully pulled the heavy door and slipped outside.

"Holly pizza pepperoni..." Maps lets out a breathless mumble as she took in the view in front of her. It was a monochrome of dark grey stones covered in thick layers of blinding white snow. She walks along the man-made pavement that is between the arching mountain walls and beautifully carved stone railings. As Maps turned to the corner, she saw a round balcony attached to a dome roof and bellow the dome was a flock of head bobbing cooing pigeons. Grey and dark colored pigeons puffing their feathers to shield themselves from the cold, all but one dopy-looking cream-colored pigeon. 

"Meat-bun!" Maps exclaimed, causing some of the pigeons to fly away, except for the one and only cream-colored bird that actually wobbled towards her. A rush of emotions flushed into the petite raven-haired teen. Her body was on autopilot. The command was simple: to hurry open this robot pigeon and read the super overdue letter she's been waiting for ages. Just as her finger was about to nudge Meat-bun's head, a gush of cold strong wind blasted away, leaving her with disheveled hair pointing in all directions.

Opening the letter here and now would not be the wisest thing to do. Thought Maps with eyes still locked onto the dopy eyes of her fowl friend. She was just about to carry Meat-bun inside, before an image of another bird with a default trait of always being suspicious came to mind, Robin a.k.a Damian Wayne. Remembering the long list of pets the Boy Wonder has, he would probably let Maps keep the bird, but Damian, being Damian, would be so extra in doing examination on Meat-bun. He would definitely do some blood test, and maybe x-rays. Maps blinks at the thought, "Oh no..."

"Turn into a box!" Nothing. Maps has been staring at Meat-bun for almost fifteen minutes and spouting 'passcodes' that might turn the bird into a box. His pen pal once gave the instruction during their early exchanges, but ever since Katherine left their previously shared dorm room, Maps had no need to turn Meat-bun into a box. Especially after Olive's graduation, hardly anybody came to Maps's room, so she would usually just let Meat-bun roam around in its pigeon form. "It has something to do with box..." Maps continue to mumble, "something box...sphere...hako!" The raven-haired teen exclaimed. That one word was enough for her to remember those instructions written by her pen pal as if it was a whispered in her ear.

Nudge its beak, while facing into it eye-to-eye bearing the same eye level, when it coos back two times say the word.

"Hako ni natte!"

With that the dopy bird transforms into a metal box. Maps jumps up and down like a sugar-rushed child, hugging the box tightly in her chest with a grin that splits her face into two. At that very moment the freezing wind choose to come swooping in like piercing needles. Maps froze. "Welp, I guess I should really get back."

After placing the metal box inside her sweatshirt, Maps turns her heals and traces her steps back into the large metal door that connects the beautiful but deadly freezing Himalayas and the eerie but warm mountain hideout. She slips into the door, walking on her tiptoes like a burglar in a bank. She carefully looked back at the door to confirm that she managed to close the heavy thing shut. Satisfied, Maps whips her head only for her to bump into something. Said something was hard, but not hard enough to be a wall and not cold enough to be anything metal. With a gulp Maps lifts her head to find Damian with squinted eyes looking down at her.

"I see you've been having an eventful morning," said Damian, his words colder than the freezing Himalayan winds outside.

"Hehehehe... I thought you were out," replied Maps with a sheepish smile.

Damian let out a long defeated sigh, "Seriously, I can't take my eyes off you, can I?"

"Well..." she drags on while taking steps away from the clearly upset boy, "it was really cold outside, so I think I'll warm up in my room."

"I don't think so." Damian captures her by the collar before she was going for a full sprint. "I just said that I can't take my eyes off you and you'd think I'd let you off my sight!" the Boy Wonder grumbles while dragging Maps like sack of potato dismissing all her high-pitched complains. "Mia, you're coming with me whether you like it or not."

Maps was pouting. Who wouldn't be upset when their hands are strap to a rope like a dog on walk. The other end of the rope was strap onto Damian's wrist as if he was the owner of said dog. To be fair, Maps did try to slip away from the computer room, twice actually, which led Damian to use to rope. In her defense, she couldn't help it. They were in the computer room for so long they even ate lunch in there. While Damian was going back and forth between some drawing board and the computers, Maps was stuck with an internet-less tablet. What is she, a cranky five year old in a restaurant? Above all this, she couldn't wait any longer to open the letter from her dear pen pal. Her eyes were lurking back and forth trying to make her third escape when she felt a shadow looming above her.

"Take this with you," Damian mumbled.

"What’s this?" asked Maps with a quizzical look on a rolled up paper that would probably stretched into an A1 sheet.

"A map, obviously.”

"A map of...?"

"This mountain hideout," replied Damian nonchalantly as he places the map beside Maps and unties the ropes on their wrists. "I know you'll try to sneak out and make your own little mischievous adventures, even if I tell you not to, so I thought letting you do so within boundaries would better benefit the both of us." He stressed the word benefit and shot a glare towards Maps, "I do expect nothing less than proper trust and cooperation."

"What," Maps scoffed, grabbing the large rolled up paper and points it towards Damian’s face, "is this suppose to be a deal?"

Damian crooked his head, raising an eyebrow and displaying a sly all-knowing grin, "Only if you don't chicken out."

He didn't. Maps thought to herself begrudgingly, because nobody challenges Mia "Maps" Mizoguchi. The petite girl replies him with a mischievous grin and glittering eyes, "It's on!"

Damian chuckles, giving a playful flick of a finger on her forehead. He meets her adventurous eyes with his warm longing ones. Maps almost furrow her brows at the sight, but before she could assess what she saw, the Boy Wonder turns his back and chuckles, "Well, run along now. You've been fidgeting all day, I thought we were having earthquakes."

Maps’s jaw fell. She wanted to retort, but the nagging curiosity of the letter in her sweatshirt and even the map in her hand was more than enough for her to not see red, at least not a deep kindling kind of red. Maps turns to the door and stomps her way outside the computer room, fighting the strong urge to throw a dictionary to Damian's face.

 


 

Finally.

Maps thought when she finally reaches her room. She carefully locks her door and lets out the metal box from her sweatshirt. She smiles so wide when looking at it, the feeling of utter happiness finally sinks in. Finally! She thought again as she gave the box another tight hug.

After some impatient nudges here and there along with the accompanying secret passcodes, the metal box turned into meat-bun, which then later turned into the steam punk vassal like cage. There, Maps finds a letter placed nicely inside. It was an expected sight, a sight Maps has been longing to see again for so long, but above the letter was a small rolled up parchment with bright yellow note written, Read me first! 

Maps chuckles at that, her pen pal and his love for notes. She rolled out the parchment only to find a list of instruction without even a hello or sorry. Maps furrow her brows and pursed he lips, feeling rather annoyed. This was an overdue letter passing way longer than even the slowest snail mail and the first thing Maps read was this cold, distant, manual-guide like list. She was not having any of this and was just about to grab the letter from Meat-bun when she reaches the final words on the parchment.

 

...I am fully certain that you will be in awe.

 

She bit her lower lip at those words, the exact same words she once received on their fist encounter. Sure her pen pal can be such a teaser, but he never relents when it came to surprises. With a strong huff and a new determined resolution, Maps re-reads the list and follows each instruction carefully. Oh dear pen pal, what do you have in store this time? Please don't disappoint. Maps chuckles at the thought, not like she was ever disappointed with anything her pen pal gave.

...In order for this to work, the room has to be pitch black dark. Therefore, before your turn off the lights be sure to have my letter in your hand (don't worry you will be able to read it once that contraption is functioning). Once everything is in place, switch off the lights and say...

"Sweet dreams!"

Maps could hear gears turning and suddenly a beam of light flashes out of Meat-bun. It was a blue laser like pillar of light, reaching up to the ceiling. Then, that pillar splits into smaller beams of blue laser, which spread out to each end of the room, scanning all its nooks and crannies. Some seconds later, those sudden beams of lights abruptly disappear. And as Maps was exhaling the breath she was holding, another flashes of blue lights engulfed the entire room forcing her to close her eyes. After she felt that things have settled down, Maps braves herself to take a small peak and boy is she blown away.

Her small cave like room had turned into a planetarium. The ceiling, walls, and even her bed all covered in stars. Milky ways, galaxies and nebulas are all within her reach. It was a marvel to look as Maps carefully walks towards the middle of the room.

“A star projector, who would’ve thought...” she whispered. The petite raven-haired teen took a seat beside the star projecting Meat-bun, eyes still wide open as they relish the view.

After a minute or two and some stiff cheeks from all the laughing and smiling, Maps finally remembers the letter. To think that the one thing she’s been looking forward to has been slightly forgotten made her giggle. She then rushed to open the envelope and carefully took out the letter. The petite teen stretches her feet and took some deep breaths to calm, albeit failing, her giddy nerves. Still with a giggle or two, Maps pulls the paper close to her face and starts reading.

 

Dear Mia,

I hope this warrant my late reply. I encountered this machine on my travels and I thought you would most certainly love it. It took more time than I'd like to admit in building this contraption into our fellow fowl friend, but I bet you're smiling from ear to ear as you read my letter. I just wished I'm right beside you to witness that smile for myself, then I'd know all those late nights and oil stains had been worth it.

 

Her cheeks felt warm and she was not sure if it were humanly possible to smile even wider. Maps averts her eyes away, not sure who she was averting her eyes from, but there was a strong urge to just hide her silly grinning face, which leads her to pull her knees close to her chest and buries her face in her arms. The heat she felt by her cheeks and ears probably indicates her looking like a boiled lobster right now. After a series of gnawing her inner cheek, Maps lets herself took peek at the galaxies in her room, felling the ticklish sensation in her chest. She wonders what kind of face her pen pal was making when he finally succeeded in making the star projector work, what kind of face would he make if he was right in front of Maps right now. Suddenly the image of Damian's warm longing eyes and playful smirk appeared in her mind. Maps frantically shakes her head and wipes the air with her arms as if trying to destroy the tangible clouds of her thoughts.

She straightens herself up to read the rest of the letter.

 

In your previous letter, if ever you still remember what it was about, you wrote that you're planning on moving out of Gotham Academy early. How's that going for you?  

 

Maps sighs as she gnaws her mouth to massage her stiff cheeks. She then took in a deep breath and lifts her head towards the stars in her room. "Things are going really weird...” said Maps to a shooting star.

 


 

"Things are going really wired-"

Rewind.

"Things are going really wired-"

Damian was about to press the rewind button again when a voice startled him off his chair.

"Little brother, you know that is a violation of privacy,” says Cassandra as her feathered steps glides closer towards her mumbling littlest brother. Happy that she has his attention she sign, And just because Batman does it all the time, doesn't mean you can do it.

Damian pursed his lower lip attempting to scowl at his only legal sister. However, all Cassandra can see is her adorable baby brother pouting like a puppy, despite his large frame and (almost) adult like features. She softly smiles at him and took a seat at a long table beside the many computer monitors.

Her little brother turns his chair to look her in the eye and grumbles, “Thanks for coming.”

Cass smiles wider at that. Despite the many positive progress, it was still rare for Damian to say thank you, even if it sounded more like an indistinguishable mumble. She glances at the long table she sat on and finds an opened text-book on world history. On it were adorable scribbles depicting the historical figure. She giggles knowing all too well whose scribbles those belongs to. Cass lifts her head and signs, I see Jon was here.

“-tt-" Damian scoffs, “could you believe, that stupid alien half-ling barge himself in front of her, when I specifically instruct him not to do so. I gave him a secret passage and a specific time to come that were even under the consideration of his school schedule!” He gave a bull like huff and fumes, “Seriously that farm-boy!”

Cassandra chuckles. If it were anybody else, they would definitely receive a knuckle sandwich for laughing at Damian in the state he is in, but Cass is an exception. And as such exception, she always milks her privilege. Her eyes scopes the place again and at the end of the room she sees a broken Titan communicator with some distinct features that are a bit different from most. She jumps off the table to pick it up and walks back towards her brother and signs, I see Maya was here too, albeit a bit angry.

Damian bit his lower lip. He sighs and grumbles, "At least she listens to reason."

And the bump on you head? It’s really a small bump that most people would have never notice, but Damian’s sister is no most people.

"A compromise worth having."

Cass furrows he brows. She knows that Damian knows that she’s following his every move. He tries not to give away any vital information through his gestures and moves as discrete as he could, but Cass can see those lingering eyes on the text-book and communicator was a second too long, the subdued glances towards the corner of the room was taken too often, while his shoulders are a fraction too stiff. It might not be much but it speaks volumes to Cass. She walks closer to her brother and points at a piles of maps scattered on the other end of the computer table. She then turns to Damian. Will she ever be in our lives again?

To Cass’s surprise, Damians look at her deep in the eyes and says with a low firm voice, "Yes, I'm settling this once and for all"

Cass walks closer and pats Damian by the head, she softly whispers, "I’m proud of you.”

Damian didn’t swat Cass’s hands (another of her privileges), but he did slide his chair away to look at his sister in the eye. He clasps his fingers and states, “Now we talk business.”

Cass smiles while taking a seat the long table across her brother. Now they talk business.