End of Summer
"a Friend In Need"
by Louise Freeman Davis

"In the gym? He didn't get my note?"

"He saw it, sir, but apparently decided he needed a workout this morning anyway." Alfred set a steaming bowl of link sausages on the table next to the buckwheat pancakes. "I trust he'll be along shortly." Sure enough, Dick strode into the dining room, a towel draped around his neck and his hair still damp from the shower.

"Dick! Good morning! You could have slept in, you know!" said Bruce.

"I know, Bruce, I just didn't feel like it."

"Well, sit down, chum! Alfred made your favorite."

"Thanks," Dick got himself two pancakes from the tray, and reached for the syrup pitcher. "Uh, isn't Kiki joining us?"

Bruce glanced at him sharply. "No."

"Oh. Sorry, I just assumed when you canceled morning workout--"

"Don't assume."

"Right." Dick began to eat and an awkward silence settled over the table.

"So, Dick, any surprises last night?" Bruce asked, finally.

Dick jumped slightly, almost as if the question startled him. "Oh, yeah! It was a big surprise!" he stammered.

"But you had fun?

"Sure. Lots of fun."

"It was a good party?"

"The party was great, Bruce. Donna told me you were in on it. I appreciate it. Really."

"It's your 16th birthday, Dick. We ought to mark it some way. In fact--" Bruce reached into his jacket pocket. "Maybe I can even do better than a couple of pizzas. Here." He slid a small wrapped package down the table. Dick picked it up, mystified.

"Open it, chum." Dick pulled off the paper and opened the small white box.

"A keychain. It's great, Bruce, thanks. Listen, I've got that English report to get back to…"

"Don't let me keep you, chum." Dick wiped his mouth and headed for the study, but Bruce tugged his arm as he went past. "Just one more thing to go with that, though." He reached into his pants pocket and quickly tossed something to his ward, which Dick caught instinctively. He opened his palm to reveal a key.

"Why don't we go take a look in the front drive?" smiled Bruce.

"So, do you like it?"

Dick ran his hand across the shiny red convertible in shocked disbelief. "Bruce, I-I don't know what to say…"

"Happy birthday, Dick."

"It's too much, Bruce…"

"I'd say you've earned it, chum. I've gotten a fair share of work out of you these last few years, after all."

"I never expected anything like--"

"I know you didn't, Dick. Believe me, I wouldn't do this for just any kid. But at 16 you've taken on more responsibilities than most people do in a lifetime. And you've never failed to do your best. Consider this my way of saying I'm proud of you. Go on now, get in."

Dick slid into the front seat and inserted the key. The motor purred like a contented kitten. Dick ran his hands across the steering wheel, still finding it all hard to believe.

"So do you like it, chum?" Bruce repeated.

"It's beautiful. Thank you, Bruce."

Bruce clapped him on the shoulder. "You're welcome, old friend.. Now slide over. You're ready for your driver's test, I know. I'll have to drive us down to the DMV, but after that, you take over." Dick slid across the shiny leather seat and Bruce took his place behind the wheel. "And after we're through there, what do you say we head over to the shoreline drive, to give you some practice?"

Dick fingered his new key ring and thought about the other one he had stashed away in his desk drawer. "Uh, Bruce, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather just come straight home. I still have that English report."

"Dick, surely that can wait for one afternoon?"

"And I'm…expecting a call."

"I see. Well, suit yourself, chum. It's your birthday."

"Roy Harper to see you, Master Dick."

Dick glanced up from his desk. "Thanks, Alfred. Could you have him come up, please?"

"As you wish. Shall I bring refreshments?"

"Uh, no thanks. We've… got stuff to discuss." Alfred nodded and escorted Roy to Dick's bedroom, then closed the door.

"Hung over, Roy?" inquired Dick, sourly. "I thought you'd be here sooner."

"Hey, you know how many bus transfers it takes to get out here? Some of us can't afford $50 cab fares, you know. So can I have my keys or what?"

Dick picked the ring up from his desk, then suddenly whirled and hurled them as hard as he could, deliberately aiming them several yards to Roy's right. Roy started, but leapt after them, catching them squarely in his palm.

"Well, your reflexes are back, at least," remarked Dick.

"See? No brain damage! You're making way too big a deal about this, Robbo."

"Roy, you were stoned!"

"It's not like I'm an addict or anything! A lot of people do it!."

"You're not just anyone, you're a Teen Titan! At least, I thought you were!"

"What, you'd really kick me off the team for this? I don't believe this!"

"It's not just up to me, Roy. I've called a meeting, tonight, in the Lair, 8 o'clock. You'd better be there."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. But if you try this, Robin, you'll see. My real friends will stick up for me."

"Roy, I am your friend. That's why I want to help if you have a problem!"

"I don't have a problem!"

"I know what I saw!"

"Gimme a break! You're not my father, you know!"

"Where is Green Arrow, anyway?"

"What do you care?"

"I was thinking, maybe he should be there tonight, too."

"Oh, now you're the one who's high!"

"Roy, I don't want to take this to the Justice League! But Oliver has a right to know! He's your dad!"

"'Dad's' been on a three month vacation, in case you haven't noticed! I've managed just fine without him!"

"Stumbling around stoned is managing just fine?"

"He has his escapes. Why can't I have mine?"

"If you don't have a problem, then what do you need to escape from?"

"It's real easy for you to say that, Dick. You sit here warm and cozy in your nice big mansion with the loyal and faithful butler to make your bed for you--"

"I make my own bed, if you must know! Don't try to turn this around on me, Roy! It wasn't always like this for me! I spent the first 10 years of my life living in a trailer!"

"Well, I spent my first 13 in a two-room shack on the Adahi reservation! And I live in a hole-in-the-wall apartment now! Don't play the 'I was born an orphan' game with me, Dick, because this is one I can beat you at! It may be the only one, but at least I know a little something about the harsh realities of life!"

"Oh, you think I've always had it easy? I could teach a course on the harsh realities of life!"

"Well, you're not having to deal with them now, far as I can tell. Where'd that new car in your driveway come from, 'Master Dick?' Uncle Brucie buy it for your birthday?"

Dick's faced flushed and he turned away.

"Some of us aren't perfect, Dick. Some of us have feet of clay. But that doesn't give you any right to judge me."

"I have a responsibility a leader of the Titans."

"I put as much into the Titans as you do. And unlike you,I don't have too much else left in this world. You'd really take it from me, over this one stupid thing?"

"You got the stupid part right, Harper. Just be there, tonight."

"Fine, fine! Or maybe you'd prefer 'aye-aye captain!' But if I'm dismissed, 'sir', I have a bus to catch."

"You want me to give you a ride?"

"Don't do me any favors." Roy Harper turned and stalked out.

"So, Dick, let's start our patrol early tonight."

Dick looked up from his roast beef. "Early? Why?"

"Well, it wasn't just Dick Grayson who got his driver's license today. Robin did, too. And the Batmobile can be a bit tricky at first.. we best head out while there's still a little light."

"Yeah, well, I was meaning to ask you about that, Bruce. See, there's this Teen Titans meeting tonight…"

"You kids got a case?"

"No, this is more of a business meeting. But I need to be there."

"I see." Bruce looked at his ward for a long minute. "You know, I can't let you take your car to the Lair, at least not until we figure some way of disguising it for Robin."

"I know that, Bruce. I was planning to take the my cycle, like always."

"All right, if that's what you have to do."

"Thanks, Bruce." Dick wiped his mouth and stood. I'd better get going."

Bruce watched him go, then picked up his plate and headed for the kitchen. "I don't understand it, Alfred! He was about as enthusiastic about that car as he was about that… whatever it was I got him last year." Bruce slouched at the kitchen table and frowned.

"A wallet, sir," Alfred reminded him as he toweled a saucepan dry. "And you were both so intent on recapturing the Joker, as I recall, that you forgot about the occasion until three days after the actual date."

Bruce winced. "That's part of the reason I tried to make this year special for him. But he seemed depressed about the entire thing."

"The 16th birthday is a landmark, sir. Getting a drivers' license, the first car. Rites of passage a young man usually shares with his father. Perhaps Master Dick is feeling his loss a bit more keenly than usual."

"Damn," sighed Bruce. "I know I've been remiss in a lot of that sort of thing…"

"It was Superman who taught him to shave, sir."

"But I honestly did try this year! He's been wanting to drive the Batmobile since he was ten years old. Tonight I give him the chance and he insists he has to go to a Teen Titans meeting!"

"At Master Dick's age, his contemporaries are bound to possess certain advantages over you, sir. Not the least of which may be gender."

"Gender? Are you saying he has a girlfriend?"

"Surely you do not consider that beyond the realm of possibility, Master Bruce. He and Miss Troy have been spending quite a bit more time with each other since she began residing with Princess Diana."

"Dick has always insisted the two of them were just friends!"

"Friendships can evolve, sir."

"Besides, Donna is dating Roy Harper. And it doesn't seem like Dick to move in an a buddy's girl."

"It is entirely possible that it is Miss Troy who initiated the change. Deciding perhaps, that a Robin is preferable to a Robin Hood?"

Bruce rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Now that you mention it, Dick did say that Donna and Roy had a fight, a few months back."

"Master Dick and young Mr. Harper are close friends, sir, but there has always been a certain, shall we say, professional rivalry between them. It should not seem too surprising for that rivalry to extend into their personal lives. I should also tell you, sir, that Mr. Harper paid Wayne Manor a visit this afternoon. I didn't pry, of course, but I sensed from his demeanor that this was not an entirely amicable social call."

"That would explain a lot. Well, well, Dick and Donna…at least the lad has good taste…"

"Don't get too accustomed to the notion, sir. Teenage relationships are notoriously transient…"

"Transient or not, this sort of thing could complicate those Teen Titans meetings of his… considerably."

"…but if I may be so bold, sir, there's another rite of passage boys of this age usually share with their fathers. If you are so inclined, the time may be appropriate."

"That's how I see it. We can't let him be a Titan anymore!"

"Dick, isn't that overreacting?" asked Donna. "He made a mistake, but he doesn't deserve that!"

"Donna, he wasn't just smoking pot! He almost ran into a situation, as Speedy, stoned! He could have killed someone!"

"But he didn't!"

"I see Robin's point, Wondy," said Kid Flash. "We've all heard it, a million times. 'Your powers and skills are a gift, never to be misused.' Roy endangered us all last night!"

"I'm not sure it's our place to kick him off the team, though," said Aqualad. "Maybe what happens to Roy should be up to Green Arrow."

"Green Arrow's not around!" pointed out Donna.

"We could track him down. Or the JLA could. I mean, if it was me… Arthur'd skewer me, but I'd rather deal with him than lose you guys' friendship."

"You guys would really do that to me?" Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Aqualad looked up to see Speedy standing in the door of the Lair.

"We haven't decided anything yet, Roy." said Wally. "But you screwed up, royally!"

"You think I don't know that? Guys, I'm sorry. What I did was idiotic. Smoking in the first place was bad enough, but to think I could go after the baddies that way? I let you all down. It won't happen again, I swear."

"It should never have happened in the first place, Speedy!" said Garth.

"Look, it was my first time! One of the guys in the band gave me a joint… I just felt like celebrating."

"I didn't see any of the rest of the band lighting up," said Robin.

"I wasn't going out with them, I was planning to come here, to your surprise party, Robin."

"Well, Harper, that was a surprise I didn't need!"

"Look, I had a rough week. I've been stressed out about the gig tonight, I flunked a history test at school, and I miscalculated the budget this month and had to scramble to get the rent money together. I was feeling low, and I didn't want to bring down the party."

"Oh, well, we all had a rocking good time after that, Bow-boy!" Wally said, sarcastically.

"I know now it was stupid. I'll never touch the stuff again. Just don't let the Justice League know. Ollie'd kill me."

"Roy, he needs to know what's going on with you," said Wally. "He doesn't seem like that much of a hard-ass. I mean, he's not Batman."

"You didn't want the Flash finding out about New Year's Eve, Wally," Donna reminded him. "And that wasn't even something he would have blamed you for."

"Honest, guys, I've learned my lesson. Never again!"

"Sounds like you've had a major attitude adjustment since this afternoon, Roy." said Dick, folding his arms. "What happened?"

"Wasn't that the point of your little lecture, Robin? Let's just say, I had some time to think today, and it made sense. I'm sorry I ruined your party. Thanks for not letting me drive."

Robin didn't answer.

"C'mon people, I wouldn't lie to you!" cajoled Speedy. "You guys are the only family I have left right now. Please. Don't you run out on me, too."

"Harper, do you swear, never again?" asked Wally.

"Scout's honor!"

"'Cause if you do, we're going straight to the Justice League!" promised Garth.

"You won't have to, I guarantee it! Come on Robs, what do you say?" Robin remained silent.

"Roy's our friend, Dick!" pleaded Donna, with tears in her eyes. "He deserves a second chance."

Robin looked at Roy, then Donna, then back to Roy. "All right," he said, finally. "But if you even think about trying something like this again, Harper…"

"Not gonna do it! No way! Thanks, guys, I knew I could count on you!" Roy sighed in relief and Donna gave him a hug.

"Don't you ever scare me like that again!" she demanded.

"I won't, Wonder Babe. So can we forget about it and have some fun now?" he asked.

"There are a couple of pizzas leftover from last night," said Donna. "I'll warm them up-"

"Uh, actually, they're not, Wonder Doll," said Wally, grinning sheepishly. "See, I got here a little early… But I'll make a run for some more!"

"Sounds good! What's everybody want?"

"Anything but anchovies," said Aqualad.


"I'll skip it tonight, Donna," sighed the Boy Wonder. "I'm just not in the mood. Later, everyone." Robin turned and headed out the door, mounted his cycle and roared off. For the first time in a long while, patrolling the streets of Gotham felt more comfortable than spending a night with his friends.

"I'm glad you're home, chum,"

""What is it, Batman?" Robin quickly dismounted his cycle. "Did we get the break in the Sudsbury case?" Dick looked up, surprised to see Bruce standing on the staircase, uncharacteristically out of uniform. "What's going on?" asked the bewildered teen.

"Dick, I want you to forget about work tonight. Get changed, then join me upstairs."

"Bruce, what's wrong?" Dick asked, genuine fear creeping into his voice. Had something happened to Alfred?

"Nothing's wrong, Dick, really. I just want us to have a little talk. I'll be waiting for you in the study."

Robin stared after him, utterly mystified for a moment. Either he's found out about Roy and is more ticked at me than he's ever been, Dick thought, or he's been kidnapped by an archenemy and replaced by an android double. Either way, Dick Grayson was not looking forward to this "talk."

"Come in, Dick," said Bruce, his tone uncomfortable, almost nervous, indeed a rare thing. Dick entered the study and immediately noticed a half-empty brandy snifter on the fireplace mantle, a sure sign Bruce was not planning a patrol tonight.

"Do you want some cocoa?" Bruce offered. "Alfred just made a fresh pot."

"No thanks, Bruce," Dick swallowed hard, hoping the word "pot" was not on the agenda. "Look, would you just tell me what this is all about?"

"Sit down, chum," Bruce indicated a leather armchair. "I've noticed you've been a bit preoccupied today, to say the least. Especially considering it was your birthday."

Dick ducked his head. "I'm sorry, Bruce. I know I acted like kind of a jerk. I've just… got a lot on my mind."

"Is it anything you want to talk about? Or is it teenage stuff you'd prefer me to mind my own business about?"

"It's teenage stuff, definitely."

"That's fine. I'm not going to pry. But, I have to ask one question. Is this about a particular problem you're having with Roy Harper?"

Dick sighed heavily, and looked at the ceiling in dismay. "I should have know you'd find out about it! Bruce, I'm sorry-"

"Whoa, settle down, chum. It doesn't sound to me like you've done anything wrong. But it does sound like you're pretty angry with Roy. And he with you, I take it?"

"Right now I could kill him. I really could!"

"You two have been friends a long time; this type of situation is bound to be awkward. It's not just between you and him, after all. Something like this could have repercussions for all the Teen Titans."

"Tell me about it! Bruce, I don't know what to do!"

"If you don't mind my asking, what's Donna's position on the matter?"

"She wants to give Roy another chance." Dick said softly, looking at the floor.

"I see. Dick, I know this is hard for you right now. But try to step back and look at the bigger picture. This sort of thing, I'm afraid, is a very normal part of being a teenager. In the long term, it's not as serious as you think."

"Huh?" Dick looked up in utter amazement.

"At your age, these things will come and go, and if you just let them run their natural course, it usually works out for the best, for all parties concerned."

"You really believe that?!" Dick asked, completely shocked.

Bruce laid a hand on his ward's shoulder. "Try not to be too hard on Roy. It's been very difficult for him recently, with all of Oliver's financial troubles. He's understandably seeking comfort other places right now. Perhaps the best thing you can do, as his friend, is to not interfere."

"Bruce, I can't believe you're saying this!" That's it, he thought. Someone's gotten to him. Reprogrammed his brain. He tried to discreetly check the back of Bruce's neck for one of the Mad Hatter's tabs.

"Dick, I won't deny that this situation is potentially big trouble for the Titans, as a group. But only if you let it get out of hand. Tell me honestly, has it interfered with the team's public duties in any way?"

"No! Bruce, I would never let that happen!" Dick jumped to his feet. "I'd kick Speedy off the team first!".

"Whoa, chum, that's a little extreme, don't you think?"

"What, I'm just supposed to just ignore what's happened?!"

"I know you can't do that. But keep in mind how much good the Teen Titans have done. It would be a shame if it all fell apart because of this one incident. It seems like an insurmountable hurdle now, but in the long run it's really just a very minor bump in the road."

"How can you say that?"

"Because I've been there, old friend. Put a big enough group together and this sort of thing is almost inevitable. Teenagers are more prone to it, certainly, but it happens even with adults. I've never told you this before, Dick, and I don't want word of this getting out to any of your friends, but Black Canary and I… shared something…once…"

"You?! And Black Canary?!" Dick practically shouted.

"It was a long time ago. And it has absolutely no effect on how either of us operates within the JLA now."

Dick sat down again, a stunned look on his face. "I can't believe this. You're the last person in the world I would expect to hear this from…" I have to contact Superman, he thought. See if he retains any memory of our original universe…

"Look, Dick, I know I haven't always communicated things to you like I should. But I am concerned. You're getting older, and these situations are going to come up more often. Sometimes there will be hard decisions to make. I'm just here to listen, if you need it. And offer what advice I can."

"Don't you think Green Arrow should know about it?"

"He probably does already. If not, trust me, Dick. There's no need to burden him with it now, given everything else he's currently dealing with. It's just not important. Come on, try to forget about it, for a while, at least. You look like you're in shock, chum. Here, have some cocoa."

Dick accepted the mug numbly. "Boy, just when you think you know a person…" he muttered.

"You think your friendship with Donna will come through unscathed?"

"Why wouldn't it? I don't blame her!"

"Well, I would fault her slightly for her poor taste in men, if I were you," Bruce said, with a small smile.

"Speedy's her first real boyfriend." Dick sighed.

"And if they still have feelings for each other, there's not much you can do. Not without hurting them both, and tearing apart your team in the process."

"I guess you're right, Bruce. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. Donna thinks everything will be OK, but frankly, I'm still uncomfortable with the whole mess. "

"That's understandable. I know Donna's one of your oldest friends, but she's also grown into a very attractive young lady. If Speedy were out of the picture, I could see why you'd go for her."

"Bruce! This is Donna we're talking about! I've known her forever! We could never feel that way about each other. We're good pals, but that's it, and that's all it'll ever be!"

"I know, and I'm sorry, Dick," said Bruce gravely, again grasping Dick's shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze. "I know it hurts like hell right now, but I'm glad to see you're accepting it."

"Like there was ever any doubt?!" Dick's brow furrowed. "Bruce, why are you so interested in me and Donna, all of a sudden?" he asked, with a suspicious tone.

"I was just concerned, Dick. That's all. Once you've had a fling, sometimes it's hard to go back to being just friends. But it's not impossible. Even if she and Roy are getting back together, I think the three of you can work things out amicably."

"Yeah…" Wait a second, Dick thought, as he tried not to choke. A fling? He thinks Roy and I are fighting over Donna? Oh, sheesh! Just take it easy, Grayson, and clam up before you blow everything… Dick cleared his throat and took another gulp of cocoa, hoping to settle the churning in his stomach. The wheels of his mind began to whirl, plotting the quickest possible escape from both the conversation and the room. Bruce crossed the room to stand by the fireplace, where he picked up the brandy snifter from the mantel, swirling it thoughtfully. He was still talking, although much more stiffly and without making eye contact.

"…growing up now, and eventually the situation may arise, if not with Donna Troy, then with some other young lady. I need to know that you understand all the risks that come with that level of intimacy. I also hope you're mature enough to accept the responsibility that comes with the decision to-"

Oh, no, not that, Bruce! Dick groaned internally. Please, not tonight! Any night but tonight! His cheeks reddened as embarassment joined the assortment of swirling emotions in his head and he prayed that the floor would magically open to swallow him up.

"-a trustworthy young man, but if you're not prepared, in the heat of the moment it's very easy to…"

Dick Grayson rolled his eyes and slumped back in his chair. There was but one escape now, he thought, gazing out the window at the Gotham City skyline. Come on, Batsignal! Please!

Chapter 3- The Summer

"Look, Roy, aren't they beautiful?" The tinted lights of the exploding fireworks splashed on Donna Troy's face as she sighed with contentment.

"Not as beautiful as you, doll," replied Roy, releasing her hand and slipping his arm around her shoulders as he inched closer. Distant explosions crackled through the night air as the sky lit up with the grand finale. As the display faded away, Roy pulled Donna closer to him and their lips locked in a long kiss.

When they came up for a breath, Roy whispered, "Do you want to get in the back seat?"

"Roy, I-I'm not sure--"

"S'alright, doll, no pressure… front seat's fine for now…" He kissed her again, and as she returned it with even more enthusiasm, dared to slip his hand from her waist upward.

"Roy, stop, not just yet, OK?" Donna said, easing away, although part of her clearly wanted to continue.

"Whatever you say…" Roy kissed her forehead and settled for just hugging her. Donna rested her head against his shoulder and sighed. Several minutes passed in silence, with only the crickets chirping outside.

"Hey, I brought us something!" said Roy, finally. Reaching under his seat he pulled out a green bottle and two glasses.

"Wine?" Donna said, pulling away. "Roy!"

"C'mon, doll, just to loosen us up a little. Look, I picked it out special for you. It's imported from Greece, see?"

"Loosen me up? For what?"

"Donna, come on, you told me you drink this stuff on Paradise Island! What's the difference?"

"One drink at the feast of Dionysus is one thing, Roy! And trust me, no one there is after what you're after!"

"What's that supposed to mean?!"

"You figure it out!" Donna flung herself back in her seat and crossed her arms.

Roy sighed and rolled his eyes. "All right, you don't want wine, we won't have wine! C'mon, Donna, don't be like that! I wasn't going to try anything!" Donna sniffed and looked away.

"Jeez, Donna, what's with you? I can't do anything right anymore!"

"You're the one who's changed, Roy Harper! You never want to do anything anymore, except hang around your place and make out!"

"A few minutes ago you didn't seem to be minding too much!"

"A few minutes ago I thought you respected me!"

"Donna, I respect you! And not just because you could throw me through a wall if you wanted! You're reading too much into this!"

"Am I?"

"What do you want from me?"

"I want the old Roy Harper back! The guy who made me feel special! The guy who'd talk to me like he cared!"

"You want to talk? Let's talk! What do you want to talk about?"

"I don't want to talk to you at all, when you're being a jerk! Which is most of the time, these days!"

"Oh, this is the kind of conversation I just love!" Roy rolled his eyes in disgust.

"You don't call me like you used to! You hardly ever want to go out, and when you do, you're usually late! Last week you didn't even show up!"

"How many times do I have to apologize for that? I told you, I got the date of our band's gig mixed up! By the time I realized it, I had to rush to make it and there wasn't time to call!"

"Well, why don't you ever invite me to hear your band anymore? It's like you're suddenly ashamed to be seen with me!"

"Doll, it's not that. It's just that the places we're playing now aren't your style! Besides, you couldn't get in!"

"They let you in!"

"The other guys are older, they assume I am, too! And trust me, if you're going to freak out about one bottle of wine, you wouldn't last long there!"

"Oh, so is that why you have beer on your breath half the time when I see you? Don't think I haven't noticed, Roy!"

"If I want to have a beer occasionally on my own time, that's my business! And don't start with the 'you're underage' number. I'm on my own now! And if I'm going to take care of myself, I'm damn well going to enjoy one or two of the privileges that go with it!"

"I don't think Dick would see it that way!"

"Then Dick can take a flying leap! If his opinion is so important to you, maybe you should be going out with him! Since he's always right and I'm always wrong! Frankly, I've always found it easier to have a good time when I don't have a stick up my butt!"

Dona shot him a look of pure fury, got out of the car and stormed around to the rear, slamming the door behind her. Roy slammed his palm against the steering wheel and glowered for a few minutes. Then he followed her.

Donna sat on the hood of the trunk, her face wet with tears. Roy sat down beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. She let it remain there, and they sat in silence for a few minutes.

"I remember how it used to be," Donna said, finally. "The long walks we'd take together. The drives out into the country. We'd talk for hours. You told me all about growing up with the tribe, all those stories, all those beautiful legends of the Red Hawk. I don't remember my childhood, Roy. But you shared yours with me, with no one else but me. A little bit of your world, that was just for the two of us. Do you know how much that meant to me? Why can't we go back to that?"

"Donna, wake up!" Roy dropped his arm. "I hate to burst your bubble, but my childhood sucked! How'd you like to bust your butt for years to be the best? Fight for every last scrap you got, without help from anyone? And then find out at the end of it all that everyone around you hated your guts and always would?"

"Oh, was that the way Brave Bow felt? The shaman? Chief Thundercloud? How about the little kid you saved from the yellow jackets? Was all that a lie?"

"I'm just saying, don't go nostalgic for something you know nothing about!"

"I don't even know you anymore, Roy. It's like you've turned your back on everything that once mattered to you! Including me."

"Well, life has turned its back on me a few times too, Donna. Sometimes you gotta deal with it."

"I'm not sure I want to deal with you, not like this!"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Donna didn't answer.

"What, is there someone else you'd rather 'deal with?'"

"Don't be ridiculous!"

"No, fill me in! I'm not dumb, you know, I know how much you and Dick have been hanging out lately!"

"We're just friends, Roy!"

"You sure, Donna? Or is my lifestyle not good enough for you anymore? You more comfortable in the back seat of his fancy car? Or maybe you just like having the butler serve you breakfast in bed!"

Donna jumped up and whirled on him furiously. "If that's what you think of me, Roy Harper, maybe I never really knew you at all!"


"Forget it, Roy! As of right now, you and I are through!"

"Fine!" he snapped. "See you around, Wonder Chick!" Roy jumped into his car and sped away. Alone on the park hill, Donna Troy knelt on the grass and wept.

"So, last item on the agenda for today: the Mad Mod's been paroled."

"Wonderful!" sighed Aqualad.

"According to the file, the prison champlain is quite convinced he wants to turn over a new leaf." said Robin.

"Yeah, right," scoffed Kid Flash. "I'd trust the Pied Piper first!"

"Anyway, just someone else to keep in mind, next time a smuggling case comes up. All right, anyone got anything else?"

"Yeah, where the hell's Speedy?" asked Mal.

"I tried to call him yesterday and never got an answer," said Robin. "I left messages, though. He's probably working a case in his neighborhood. Anything else? Cool, let's break!"

As the others left, Wonder Girl hung behind. "Dick, can I talk to you a second?"

"Sure. What's up?"

"I think their might be another reason Roy didn't show up. Me."

"Uh-oh, you two have another spat?"

"More than that, Dick. We-we broke up."

"Oh jeez, Donna, I'm sorry. What happened?"

"It was a lot of things… He's just so different now. So wound up with the band, I guess, but he's just not the same person I used to know."

"Donna, I hate to ask, but do you think he's still smoking pot?"

"No! I mean, I've never seen any sign of that! And he gave us his word!"

"Yeah. I guess if anyone knew, you would. Anyway, I can tell you're bummed. I am sorry, for both of you."

"He used to share so much with me. Now he doesn't share anything at all!"

"But you still miss him." Donna nodded. "Want to talk about it? We could go grab a soda or something."

"Yeah, I guess I would."

"Hop on, then." Robin slid forward on his cycle and Donna climbed on.

Continued On Next Page

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