"a Friend In Need"
by Louise Freeman Davis
Chapter 4- The Fall
"Thanks for getting down here so fast, kids." Hal Jordan got up from the conference table at JLA Headquarters, where Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad had gathered.
"You said you needed us," said Robin. "We're all here but Speedy; he didn't answer the page."
"I know. I'm afraid Speedy's the reason I'm here. Kids, there's no easy way to say this. Speedy's addicted to heroin."
The Titans stared back in stunned disbelief. "No!" exclaimed Wonder Girl. "Roy wouldn't "
"Green Arrow and I caught him, red-handed. He's all right, for now. But it was a bad scene, with him and his dad. Ollie slapped him around a bit, I'm afraid, and kicked him out of the house. But I tracked him down and he's with Black Canary now, at her place."
"I want to see him!" insisted Donna.
"That's not a good idea, Wonder Girl," said Hal. "Roy's in withdrawal from the drugs now. He insists he's only used a couple of times, and can lick this thing on his own. I'd like to believe him, but if he's not being straight with us, it could be dangerous. What I need from you kids is some information. You've spent more time with him this last year than me or Ollie. Has he shown any behavioral changes? Mood swings, withdrawal, unexplained absences? Something that would give us a clue as to how long this has been going on?"
"He quit coming to Titans meeting last summer," said Donna, tearfully. "I thought it was because we had broken up! This is all my fault!"
"No, Donna, it isn't!" stated Robin.
"Don't blame yourself!" stated Kid Flash. "Roy had problems before that!"
"What are you talking about, Wally?" asked Hal.
Kid Flash ducked his head, but Robin answered. "I don't know when he started using heroin, sir. But we caught him smoking pot, last March."
"Last March? You kids knew he had a drug problem six months ago and you said nothing?" Green Lantern's voice rose in outrage.
"We didn't think he was hooked!" said Aqualad.
"He said it was just that one time!" cried Wonder Girl.
"He swore he had stopped!" added Kid Flash.
"I don't believe this! How could you kids keep quiet about something like that?" shouted Green Lantern.
"Hal, we didn't think it was that big a deal!" said Wally.
"Well, it's a big deal now!" retorted Green Lantern shaking his head in disbelief. He paused. "The rest of the League has to know about this, you know."
"Hal, couldn't you "
Wally. But I don't have a choice here!"
The first person Hal called was Superman, as leader of the JLA. Within an hour, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and the Flash had been called to headquarters as well, and the inquisition had begun.
"I would never have thought you capable of something like this, Garth!" shouted Aquaman, pacing wildly about the conference table, where the four shame-faced teenagers huddled. "Just what have you kids been up to at these so-called Teen Titans meetings, anyway?"
"Aquaman, it was Roy doing the pot, not any of us!"
"As far as I'm concerned, if you covered it up, you're as guilty as he is!"
"Arthur, please," said Wonder Woman, soothingly.
"Y'know, it wasn't actually a cover-up," pointed out Kid Flash. "More like 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
"As League-sanctioned crimefighters, you had an obligation to tell, Wally!" said the Flash. "You all did!"
"I take full responsibility for it, sir." said Robin.
"Robin, it wasn't your fault!" insisted Donna. "Diana, I believed Roy when he said he'd stop! If I had known, I wouldn't have let this happen!"
"I believe you, sis. But this was a big mistake. If we seem angry, it's because the thought of any of you having a problem like this scares us."
"We don't have the problem!" emphasized Aqualad.
"You can give me your word that there has never been drugs or alcohol at any of your Teen Titan events?" asked Aquaman. The four were silent.
"Answer the question, kids," ordered Superman.
"Just at the last New Years' Eve party," the Boy Wonder admitted. "Speedy spiked the punch."
"He WHAT?" shouted Hal.
"We didn't know he had done it!" cried Wonder Girl. "As soon as we realized, we quit drinking it!"
"And we gave him hell for it!" added Garth.
"So no one actually got drunk?" asked the Flash. Again there was silence.
"No one but me, Uncle Barry," said Kid Flash, finally.
"I had run all the way from Blue Valley. By the time I figured out what was in it "
"Wally, how much of that stuff did you drink?" demanded Barry.
"I was thirsty "
"Most of it." gulped Wally.
"I don't believe what I'm hearing! Do you know how dangerous that was? We have no idea how you metabolize alcohol!"
"Not very well, as it turned out," said Wally, smiling sheepishly.
"This is no laughing matter, Wallace! You could have wound up in the hospital, or worse! And why would you not tell me about this? I thought we understood each other better than that!"
"It wasn't your reaction I was worried about, Uncle Barry," said Wally.
His uncle laid a hand on his shoulder. "Wally, we could have worked it out, if you had just told me."
"I'm sorry. But Speedy would have gotten clobbered!"
"And well-deservedly!" stated Hal. "But we might have been able to get him help before it went this far! How often was Roy drinking?"
"Never that we knew about, other than that night," answered Robin.
"That's not quite true, Robin," admitted Donna. "He had beer sometimes. And he bought us a bottle of wine once."
"Donna!" came Wonder Woman's shocked exclamation.
"I didn't want him to! I didn't drink any! But beer and wine aren't like drugs "
"They're just as illegal, for kids your age!" Superman reminded her.
"It was just a few times! There are kids out there who get smashed every weekend!" said Wally.
"That's no excuse either, Wally," answered Hal. "Drugs and alcohol are unacceptable for teenagers, period. And you're the Teen Titans, so that goes triple for you."
"Donna, was Roy's drinking why you stopped seeing each other?" asked Diana.
"Partly, I guess. But there were other things, too!"
"So it was enough for you to break up with him, but you didn't see a need to tell an adult? Donna, I thought you'd show better judgement!"
"We didn't let Roy drive, either time," offered Robin
"That was the right move, of course, but that doesn't make this all right!" said Superman.
"You kids blew it big time, as far as I'm concerned," said Aquaman. "We let you form your group, set up your Lair and operate out there without supervision because we assumed you could handle the responsibilities. I think we have to reconsider that now!"
"You may not have done anything worse than what a lot of teenagers do, but the privilege of wearing those uniforms means you have to be held to a higher standard of behavior," added the Flash. "On the job, and off!"
"We understand that you didn't want to get your friend in trouble," said Wonder Woman. "But he's in a lot more trouble now than he would have been if you had spoken up."
"We're sorry we let you down," said Robin, softly. "All of us."
"So am I, son," answered Superman, with a sigh. "All right, I think this is something you should talk over further, in the privacy of your own homes. We'll consider the future of the Titans as a group at our regular meeting next week. Agreed?" The Justice Leaguers nodded.
"All right. We're
As Robin slid into the seat of the Batmobile, he realized his partner hadn't said one word throughout the entire meeting. Glancing sideways, he could see the tension in Bruce's jaw, and his heart sank.
He was toast.
Dick swallowed hard. "Batman, I know I should have--"
"Robin, we'll discuss it at home," Batman's voice was icy as he cut him off, and a chill trickled down Robin's spine. This was going to be a rather one-sided discussion, he feared. He wasn't likely to get off with a "I'm surprised at you, chum" chat up in the study. This time he would be facing Batman, angrier than he had ever seen him. Forget toast, he was dead meat.
As they pulled into the cave, Robin held out hope that Alfred would be greeting them with the news of a mass Arkham breakout. Facing down the Joker, the Scarecrow and Two-Face together would be preferable to what was ahead. Alas, the butler was nowhere in sight, so Robin didn't even have his calming presence as a shield.
Batman tore into him as soon as they were out of the car. "What were you thinking of, Robin?"
"Batman, I'm sorry!"
"You're sorry! Is that all you can say for yourself? You were the leader of the Titans, and you let someone you knew had a drug problem stay on duty! That's absolutely inexcusable!"
"Bruce, I didn't know Roy was addicted! If I had, I would have told! When we caught him with that pot, he swore to us it was his first time!"
"'Honest, I never did it before!''I'll never do it again!' 'I can stop anytime I want!' How many times have you heard that before, out there on the street?"
"A lot," sighed Robin, looking down.
"And how many times has it been the truth?"
"Not often, Batman."
"Try never! You know perfectly well how this stuff works, Robin. Did you honestly think it was going to be any different for Roy Harper just because he was a Titan?"
"Speedy was my friend! I didn't think he'd--"
"Harvey Dent was my friend, but where do you think this city would be if I let that interfere when Two-Face is on the loose?"
"Roy's not a criminal!"
"Oh isn't he? Marijuana use was a crime, last I heard. So is underage drinking. And you have no idea how he's been financing his habit over the past few months!"
"I didn't know he was using heroin! None of us knew!"
"You knew about the pot. When you chose to look the other way it was as good as condoning it!"
"I know we should have told! Believe me, I agonized over it! My whole birthday I spent--"
"Oh, your birthday! At least now I know what was distracting you then! Dick, I never thought you would deliberately deceive me! You led me to believe you and Roy were competing for Donna Troy's attention!"
"Hey, don't try to pin that one on me, Bruce! I'm still trying to figure out how you came up with that idea! Y'know, for the world's greatest detective you were pretty far off the mark there!"
"Don't try to change the subject, boy!" shouted Batman. His voice lowered in volume, but intensified in anger. "I want you to take off that uniform and get yourself upstairs. As far as you're concerned, there are no more Titans, no more Batman, and no more Robin!"
"Bruce, you can't mean that!"
"Oh, so you're questioning me now? You don't think this is serious?"
"I know it's serious! But "
"But nothing! Get this through your head: I don't want to see you down here again until you prove to me that you understand what the real responsibilities that go with that suit are! Which at the rate you're going, is going to be a very, very long time, young ma-"
The diatribe was interrupted by a buzz from the radio. "Green Lantern to Batcave."
Batman crossed the room in three strides and pressed the button on the microphone.
"Thank God. Is Robin there? I need him and all the Teen Titans, stat!!" Robin looked up expectantly.
Batman pressed his lips together angrily, but nodded silent permission. Robin swallowed hard and stepped up to the microphone. "What is it, Green Lantern?"
"Speedy. He's taken off someplace. When I got back here I found Dinah in the living room, unconscious. Apparently the withdrawal spells got worse, and he flipped out when she tried to talk him into going to the hospital. They struggled, he shoved her and she clonked her head good on the fireplace hearth. That's what she thinks happened, anyway. But she's got a mild concussion, and there's no sign of Roy."
"Any idea how long he's been gone?"
"No way of knowing but maybe several hours. Long enough to get a fix, if that's what he's after. And in the state he's in, we need to find him, fast. You kids know him better than anyone do you have any idea where he might go?"
Batman took the microphone back. "I assume you've tried Ollie's apartment. That's the most likely place he'd have a stash."
"Ollie's there. Hasn't seen him. And says he doesn't want to."
"Roy wouldn't go back there, anyway, not if he'd hurt Black Canary," Robin said. "I'll call the Titans and we'll start--" Robin paused suddenly and looked up at Batman, who was still bristling.
"Bruce, please "
The Dark Knight's
gaze was still severe, but he finally nodded. "Help your friend. But
this isn't over." he said, and promptly turned and marched up the Batcave
stairs. Robin pressed the button on his own wrist communicator. "Robin
to Teen Titans, this is an emergency!"
"All set?" Robin, who was about to jump on his cycle, whirled around in surprise. Batman was back, holding a paper sack.
"Aqualad's on his way to the Lair, in case he shows up there. Donna's checking with all of his band members, and Kid Flash is covering the neighborhood around Roy's apartment and around the old Queen Manor."
"I was on my way to JLA headquarters, to check the Titan's first clubhouse. That cave there, in the sea cliffs."
"Get in the Batmobile. We'll go together." Robin nodded and got in. Batman tossed him the paper sack he was holding.
"What's this? Robin asked, puzzled.
us lunch. This may be a long search." The Batmobile roared out of the
"Aqualad to Robin," buzzed Robin's wristband.
"Just made it to the Lair. He's been here. The spare bow he kept here is missing."
"High and armed. Just great." sighed Robin.
"He's been through the back room, too. There's a empty cardboard box here, with his name on it."
"He stored some stuff there, when he and Ollie had to move. But that was almost a year ago. Can you tell what was in it?"
"Nothing now, other than a few feathers. Must have been more arrows Looks like he has a complete arsenal with him! Is he planning an invasion or something?"
"Wish I knew. Thanks, Aqualad. Search the surrounding area, but be careful. No telling what he's capable of right now."
"Got it. Aqualad out." Robin sat back in his seat and sighed.
"If he can't buy drugs, he may be planning to take them by force." observed Batman.
"Right," said Robin. "So, it'd have to be someplace he knows would have them." Robin tugged out the keyboard mounted on the Batmobile dash and began typing. "Checking for any recent drug busts in Roy's neighborhood." Then came a beep on the Batmobile radio.
"Green Lantern to Batman and Robin."
Batman pressed it. "Go ahead."
"A new development, guys. Just back from the clinic with Dinah and she checked her purse. Three credit cards missing. She called to cancel, but there've already been cash advances taken out on each of them."
"From where?" asked Robin.
"An ATM, out at Central Airport."
"Damn!" Robin slammed the dashboard. "I should have realized. Roy'd know the JLA would be on his tail almost immediately. He wouldn't try to hole up someplace, he'd try to get as far away as possible!"
"Let's go, then."
Robin pressed his wristband again. "Robin to Wonder Girl, come in."
"Wonder Girl here. I finally found the band drummer, Robin, but they haven't seen Roy in months. They said he quit, last June. He never told me!"
"Never mind that now. Get to Central Airport, and check outgoing flights. Roy probably bought a ticket there sometime in the last couple of hours, with cash. Batman and I'll meet you there."
"I'm on it."
"Robin to Kid Flash."
"Stop what you're doing and fuel up. Roy may have hopped a plane; so we may need you to make a cross-country run."
By the time they reached the airport, Wonder Girl was awaiting for them in the parking lot.
"I got it, Robin. Someone matching Roy's description took a flight to San Francisco about an hour ago. Paid cash for the ticket, and gave the name 'Oliver Jordan.'
"St. Louis and Denver. But the plane's still in the air now. Kid Flash can catch up with it in St. Louis it's not due in for another hour."
"Great. I'll call Kid Flash, and he'll even have time for a full meal before he takes off. Nice work, Wonder Girl." Robin leaned back in his seat, and paused a moment. "Wait a second. Did you check the gate or the ticket counter?"
"The ticket counter. Why?"
"Something's wrong with this. Go back, and make sure 'Oliver Jordan' got on that flight! Hurry!" Wonder Girl looked mystified, but nodded and took off.
"You think Speedy would blow money on a plane ticket and then not take it?" asked Batman.
"It just doesn't fit, Batman. He went all the way to Titans' Lair for his arrows, which he wouldn't be able to carry on a plane with him! Besides, it's too obvious. If I was running away from home, I sure as heck wouldn't do it under the name 'Bruce Kent!'"
"Unless you wanted to be caught."
"Or if-- Batman, Speedy was raised on a reservation. He knows how to follow a trail. How to cover one up--"
"--and how to leave a false one." finished Batman. Robin's wrist beeped again.
"Wonder Girl here. You were right, Robin! 'Mr. Jordan' never showed up for the flight!"
"Speedy, you're good, even strung out," sighed Robin. "He had to have gotten the cash here, but where then?"
"It still makes sense, that he'd try to get out of town if he could." pointed out Batman.
"You can rent a car at the airport, too!" Robin exclaimed. "That'd be the way to go if you were carrying arms."
"No one's going to rent a car to a boy that age."
"Donna said he bought them some wine. Which means he probably has a fake ID."
"Check it out, then."
"Wonder Girl to Robin. You were right again. A young red-haired man named 'John Davis' rented a yellow Accord earlier today. Paid cash, but guaranteed it with his wife's credit card."
"And let me guess," replied Robin. "Mrs. Davis is a liberated and independent woman who keep her maiden name? A Ms. Lance?"
Green Lantern can't even track it with his ring. Roy's still thinking straight,
at least. All right, I'll call everyone and have them refocus their efforts
on the main highways out of town. Speedy's had a good head start though.
Wonder Girl, you take south. But first give me the license number!"
Robin quickly relayed the information to the rest of the searching Leaguers and Titans, then began studying the atlas, trying to deduce the most logical route Roy would have taken. Unfortunately, the next few hours passed with no trace of the yellow Accord or Roy Harper.
"There are just too many directions he could have gone!" Robin exclaimed, clearly frustrated. "This isn't good enough, we need another clue!"
"Where would you go?" Batman asked him, quietly, pulling the Batmobile to a stop at the side of the highway.
"If you had knocked me around, kicked me out of the house and then I had assaulted your girlfriend? The most remote place I could think of! Add that to being desperate for a fix "
"He's probably taken something by now, or the withdrawal symptoms would have him incapacitated."
"Yeah, but not much, or he wouldn't be thinking clearly enough to plant the false trail. But he'd also be thinking about doing more later. I'd look for someplace I thought was safe where I could hide out awhile maybe where I had friends who would cover for me."
"Perhaps those other allies of yours Lilith, Mal?"
"Donna called them. They're on the lookout for him. But they wouldn't hide him, if he was strung out."
"So who are Roy Harper's friends, other than the Titans and his bandmates?"
"I'm not sure he has any! Unless Pop Haley "
"Roy's running scared. Not just from the JLA, but from his own dad! If it were me, I'd head back to the only other home I ever knew. Haley's Circus!"
"You think Speedy might have gone back to the reservation? My understanding is that he didn't exactly leave there under good terms "
"It was still his first home. And Donna said he told her about wait a minute loose feathers "
"Robin, I'm not following you."
"The box Aqualad found!" The teen reached for the Batmobile radio. "Robin to Black Canary."
"Black Canary here. Have you found him?"
"Not yet, but I have an idea. You've seen Roy's room in Oliver's apartment. Does he have that stuff from the reservation up on the wall? I remember he did in the manor!"
"The bow Brave Bow gave him, and his old quiver? Let me think no, I don't remember seeing them since they moved. Why?"
"That's it!" exclaimed Robin, looking up at Batman. "That's what he stored in the Lair! I couldn't figure out why he would pack up a bunch of arrows in a sealed box; Speedy would need his weapons accessible! But his Indian gear he's kept it all these years. It's old, so if he pulled it out in a hurry, there would be stray feathers left behind. But the only reason he would have dug those things out of storage is if he planned to go back there!"
"It's worth checking out," remarked Batman. "Let's go."
"Kid Flash can get there faster. But we'll need a map. Robin to Wonder Girl." Robin pressed his wrist radio again as Batman pulled the keyboard towards him and typed a command.
"It's a big area to cover, even for Kid Flash." he commented, as Wonder Girl answered the page.
"Wonder Girl, you said Roy told you a bit about his life on the reservation. Do you know where he might try to hide out, if he was heading there?"
"He mentioned some old caves once. And Brave Bow's old cabin was fairly isolated. He took me there once, summer before last, right after he got his license."
"That's a start. Activate your homing signal. Robin to Kid Flash. Tune in on Wonder Girl's signal, pick her up and get to the Adahi reservation, ASAP! She'll show you where to go from there!"
"You got it,
Robbie! I'm on my way, Wonder Chick!"
The yellow Accord was parked outside Brave Bow's dilapidated cabin. Wonder Girl and Kid Flash burst through the door to find Roy Harper slumped on the dirt floor, unconscious.
"Roy!" Donna rushed to his side and rolled him over. His face was ashen and a length of rubber tubing was still tied around his upper arm.
"Is he breathing?" Wally knelt beside them, his tone numb.
"I'm not sure I think so, but barely! We have to get him to a hospital, now!"
"I saw one as we ran in. Call Robin!" Kid Flash scooped up his teammate in the fireman's carry and took off with a crackle of lightning.
Donna pressed her wristband. "Dick! DICK!"
"Wonder Girl! What is it?"
"We found him, in Brave Bow's cabin. But he'd already taken something "
"Get him to the hospital!"
"Wally took him already," Donna's voice was choked with sobs. "But we may have been too late he was barely breathing, Dick!"
She's panicking, Robin thought. Forgetting code names Donna just doesn't do that! Roy must be in bad shape. "Donna, listen to me." he said, soothingly
"He was so pale, Dick! Like a ghost! I don't think he's going to make it! We were too late!"
She hasn't sounded like this since we were 12! "Wonder Girl!, calm down!" he shouted into the radio, his voice suddenly deeper and resonant with authority. "You aren't any good to Speedy like this! You've got to get control! Do you understand?"
"Y-yes. I'm trying, Robin. But what can I do?"
"If Roy's critical, they'll need to treat him immediately. There won't be time for a blood test. Are there any signs there of what exactly he took?"
"There's an empty syringe on the ground."
"Be careful with the needle! Don't get stuck! But collect it, that could help. Anything else? Search the cabin, his car, anything he brought with him! With the cash he had, he probably bought more than one hit."
"I'm looking wait, here! I found some vials in his quiver and they're some more in his pack."
"Great! Robin to Kid Flash--"
"Kid Flash here. I'm at the ER, they're working on him "
"Get back to the cabin Wonder Girl's found more of what he took. The doctors may need it."
The communicator fell silent. Robin pressed his lips together, drumming his fingers as he waited. Batman regarded his grim-faced partner, who despite the nervous gestures, suddenly seemed much older. Batman was used to seeing Robin obey orders, not give them. He's good, Bruce thought. He keeps his team together, no matter what.
Within a minute, Robin's wrist beeped again. "Wonder Girl here," came Donna's voice, calmer now. "We gave the vials to the doctor, she took one sniff and started shouting orders. Then they kicked us out of the room. I don't know what's happening now."
"I read you, Wonder Girl. Stand by." Robin grabbed the computer keyboard and pulled it toward him.
"What are you checking now, Robin?"
"I want the arrest and parole records for that county. Maybe Wonder Girl and Kid Flash can locate the dealer and find out more about--"
"Robin!" Batman's black-gloved hand grabbed Robin's wrist. "Stop," ordered the Dark Knight, quietly.
"But Batman, I can--"
"Speedy's in the hands of the medical authorities. It's up to them now.
"Robin, you've done all you can. You found him. But it's out of your control now."
Robin released the keyboard and sat back in his seat, nodding silently.
"Your teammates will call you, as soon as there's news." Batman pointed out.
"Batman, I need to be there. Please."
The Dark Knight restarted the Batmobile. "We'll get there as fast as
we can. In the meantime, call Green Lantern and the others and give them
When half a dozen costumed crimefighters descend on one small rural hospital, it's bound to attract attention. By the time Batman and Robin arrived, news vans were beginning to set up in the parking lot, and a host of reporters swarmed around them, firing questions about the rumors that a Teen Titan had O.D.'ed. Batman gritted his teeth and pushed his way through the mob, pulling Robin behind him. Once inside they were ushered into a private waiting room just outside the ICU.
Kid Flash stood beside the window, his head bowed. The Flash was behind him, massaging his shoulders. Donna sat on the couch, crying softly as Wonder Woman held her hands. Robin instantly feared the worse.
"There's still no word," said Green Lantern, who stood with his arm around Black Canary. Her forehead was bandaged, but she seemed otherwise unhurt.
"Green Arrow is with him?" asked Batman. Dinah shook her head sadly.
"We've tried. He's being stubborn."
"How can he do that?" asked Robin. "Roy's his--"
"Robin, I could strangle him now myself. But this thing has torn him up," said Green Lantern. "I think it's just a little too much for him to handle right now."
Donna got up and ran to Robin, who hugged her tightly. "Why don't they tell us something? What if we were too late?"
"We did everything we could," Dick assured her. "It's up to Roy now. And the doctors. But he's tough, Donna. He won't give up."
The entire room looked up expectantly as a young Native American doctor entered, clipboard in hand. "He's stable, for now, but the next few hours will be critical. He went into respiratory arrest shortly after he arrived, but we got him breathing on his own again. If you had found him 10 minutes later "
Donna began to tremble, and Dick hugged her again, leading her back to the couch and sitting down next to her and Wonder Woman.
"How long has he been a heroin addict?" asked the doctor.
"We're not sure," answered Green Lantern. "But it could have been as long as six months. How much did he take?"
"It actually wasn't heroin he took, this last time. It was this synthetic compound the dealers in the casino district sometimes pass off as smack. Good thing we knew that, too The standard heroin overdose treatment doesn't do much good against this stuff."
Robin squeezed Donna's shoulder. "See? You did fine, Wonder Girl."
"You did it, Robin! You put it all together--"
"Which I couldn't have done without the rest of you!"
"All you Titans deserve a lot of credit," said Green Lantern. "Roy has a fighting chance now."
"The boy's still a minor, right?" asked the doctor. "If so, we'll need his guardian's authorization to start detox treatment, and run the other tests he'll need."
"Oh, you'll get it," Green Lantern assured her. "Even if I have to conjure up a big green--" Hal was interrupted by a nurse who entered from the main lobby.
"Pardon me," she said. "But there's a man outside who insists it's his son you have here."
"Well, it's about time!" Dinah rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Get him in here! Ollie, you bull-headed bast--" To her surprise, instead of Green Arrow, a tall, grey-haired figure dressed in buckskins entered. "Who are you?" she demanded.
"I am called Silver Eagle, of Clan Adahi. Roy Harper is a son of my tribe."
"Clan Adahi?" scoffed Green Lantern. "This would be this same clan that kicked the kid out on his butt because of the color of his skin, then?"
"Prejudice is an evil among all colors of people, I fear," replied Silver Eagle. "But Roy Harper left my people as a man. To make his way to the white man's world was his choice."
"Well, it was a hell of a decision to force on a 13-year-old kid who'd just lost the only parent he ever knew!"
"Much has changed for my people in those years. Much for the worse, I fear. Our past errors are clear. But Roy Harper was one of our own, in spirit if not in flesh. I wish to aid him now."
"I think he quit needing your help, some time ago!"
"Wait, Green Lantern!" said Donna. "Silver Eagle? You're the shaman, aren't you?"
"It's all right, Green Lantern. Roy told me about him. He wasn't one of the ones who wanted him to leave. He and the chief gave him his manhood rites, the night before he left, so Roy could depart as a man."
"He spoke to you of this?" asked the shaman. Donna nodded. "Good. Roy Harper remembers our ways. Sadly, many of the boys who taunted him as a child are today not so reverent. He still carries his totem icon?"
"Totem icon?" asked Green Lantern. "I've never heard him say word one about any--"
"He keeps it in his quiver," said Donna. "I'll get it." Digging around in the bottom, she came up with a small wooden carving, in the shape of a hawk, strung on a leather thong along with a small animal tooth. Silver Eagle took it from her.
"His link to his totem is weak, but it remains," said Silver Eagle. "Let me go to Roy Harper, and pray to the Earth Mother to strengthen it."
"Hold it, you want to perform some sort of medicine man ritual in Roy's hospital room?" asked Black Canary. "I don't think so!"
"Please, I think Roy would want this!" exclaimed Donna.
"I'm not of their clan, but I know their ways," offered the doctor. "And I've seen all types of prayers bring comfort to patients. It might help, now."
Green Lantern paused a second. "Donna, this stuff really means something to him?"
"It did, once"
"Well, I don't think it'll hurt. Go on, shaman."
"Come with me,
girl," said Silver Eagle. "Roy Harper has shared his Adahi soul
with you. You will assist."
Roy Harper lay on the ICU bed, his face almost as pale as the sheets. His chest rose and fell; there was no other sign of life. The shaman sat crosslegged on the floor, and motioned Donna to do the same. "First we must meditate, so our thoughts will be clear to the Earth Mother. Draw on the strength of your own totem." he instructed her.
"Uh, right." Donna closed her eyes and asked for her own gods' guidance. The pair sat in silence for several minutes, then the shaman raised his head.
"You are a child of many totems," he said, looking at her strangely. "Indeed a rare blessing. But they have not been revealed to you, as yet?"
Donna gulped. "No I-I guess they haven't."
"Then you have a wondrous journey ahead of you. Come now." Silver Eagle stood and went to Roy's beside. "Take his hand," he instructed her.
The shaman touched his fingertips gently to Roy's forehead, his brown leathery skin standing out in stark contrast to the boy's pasty brow. He said a phrase in his native language, then repeated it in English for Donna's benefit.
"These words are for you, Roy Harper." He began to chant softly, and the ancient melodious sounds filled the room. The song lasted almost fifteen minutes, then wound to a close. Silver Eagle touched Roy's forehead again.
are for you, Roy Harper. Heed them well." The room was silent for a
long moment. Then Donna felt Roy's hand tighten, ever so slightly, around
By the time Batman and Robin returned to Wayne Manor, it was well past midnight. At breakfast the next morning, Bruce informed his young ward that another meeting had been called at JLA headquarters.
"So, here's the good news," began Green Lantern, once everyone was assembled. "Roy's awake, and talking. Ollie signed the papers, so he'll be transferred to a detox center as soon as he can be. He's agreed to cooperate fully with the treatment program. He's got a rough road ahead of him, but he's determined to try."
"Are they concerned about HIV?" asked the Flash.
"He's being tested. He swears he's never shared needles; of course, that may or may not be the truth. But one point in his favor I found most of a box of sterile needles in the trunk of his car. He must have ripped them off from the JLA infirmary. Never thought I'd be glad about something like that, but it's reason to be optimistic."
"That's good. Thank you, Hal," said Superman. "Titans, the job you did yesterday was impressive. Your judgment was sound, and your teamwork undoubtedly saved Speedy's life. However," The Titans shifted uncomfortably in their seats. "The fact remains that if your judgment had been better some months ago, this whole situation might have been avoided. The Justice League is very concerned about some of the revelations that have been made since yesterday, and we're going to have to take action to insure this sort of thing doesn't happen ever again. Do you understand?"
There was a chorus of mumbled "yessirs."
"All right. We're
going to make a decision now, as a group. You kids wait in the lounge while
"How much longer are they going to be?"
"It hasn't been that long, Wally," answered Aqualad. "Will you please stop pacing?"
"Do you really think they'll disband us?" asked Donna.
"They won't do that!" answered Kid Flash, still pacing. "If anything, yesterday showed how much help we can be!"
"Speedy wouldn't have needed our help if we had done the right thing earlier!" snapped Robin. "Face it, whatever they do, we deserve it!"
"Jeez, Robbo, I'm just as glad you aren't on the jury!"
"Shut up, Wally!" Robin could stand it no longer. "Donna, I have to talk to you! Alone!"
"Robin, they told us to wait here!"
"Please, it's important!" Robin took grabbed her wrist and pulled her down the hallway to the kitchen, where he closed the door.
"What is it, Dick?"
He took her by the shoulders. "Donna, you're my best friend. I don't want to invade your privacy, but I have to know. It's been all I could think about ever since Green Lantern mentioned "
"Dick, what's wrong? I've never seen you this upset!"
"The AIDS test. If Roy has it " Dick swallowed hard. "Are you going to have to be tested, too?"
Donna stepped back, and her cheeks turned bright red. For a second Dick couldn't tell if she was embarrassed or angry.
"I'm not trying to be nosy, but "
"It's OK, Dick," Donna turned away and lowered her head. "I understand. Diana talked to me about it last night. Even if Roy has it," her throat tightened and she choked back a sob. "We never did anything that would put me at risk."
"Thank God," Dick pulled her into a hug. "As long as I know that, I think I can handle anything the League throws at us."
"Robin, do you really think they'll " She was interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Hey, you two," came Aqualad's voice. "They're ready for us."
The Titans filed into the conference room and sat down across from the adults. Superman stood.
"Here's the consensus. We're convinced none of you were active participants in Speedy's drug use, or were fully aware of the extent of his problem. However, the fact remains that by keeping quiet, you were passive participants. As such, we must hold you partly responsible.
"The events of yesterday should have shown you how dire the consequences of inaction can be. I expect you learned more from that than you could from anything we might say, or do. The skill you showed yesterday convinced us, more than ever, that the Teen Titans are a valuable asset to our mission. But we can't let it continue if we can't trust your judgement in matters like this.
"So here's the deal. We are canceling all Teen Titans activities for the next two weeks. You kids will take no cases, singly or as a group. You will not appear in costume unless you are under the direct supervision of your partner, or another adult League member. In addition, you will not see each other socially, in costume, or in your civilian ID's. Is that clear?"
Again, the group mumbled "Yessir."
"Good. We'll meet again, in two weeks, and if we're all convinced you've seen the error of your ways, you're back in business. Fair enough?"
"Fair enough. Thank you, Superman."
"There is one exception to the 'don't see each other' rule," said Green Lantern. "That concerns Roy. His doctors say the first few weeks will be the hardest, and that he'll need family and friends with him, around the clock. Unfortunately, as of now, Green Arrow has declined to participate. I'm hoping you kids can pitch in."
"Anyway we can help," answered Donna, and the others agreed.
said Superman. "That's it, as far as official League action goes. Any
additional punishment is up to the discretion of your individual partners.
This time, Alfred was waiting for them when Batman and Robin pulled in. "Disturbing news, sir. Apparently your friend Mr. Dent obtained a day pass from the hospital, but failed to return."
"His file, Alfred?"
"Awaiting your perusal, sir." Batman immediately went to the desk and began studying it.
"Bruce?" Robin approached cautiously. "Can I help?"
Batman fixed his eyes
on him. "I believe we had concluded our discussion," he said,
jerking his head toward the dressing room. Robin sighed. So nothing had
changed. Without another word, he left the Batcave, wondering when, or if,
he would be back.
Dick was sprawled facedown in his bed when there was a knock on his door. "Come in." He glanced up, expecting Alfred, but to his surprise, it was Bruce.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," answered Dick, looking back at his pillow. "I thought you were working."
"That's the one advantage of tracking Two-Face. The hour he strikes is pretty predictable. Which means we have time for a talk, if you're up for it."
"Sure." Dick still could not bring himself to look Bruce in the eye.
Bruce pulled up Dick's desk chair and straddled it. "Dick, have you ever tried illegal drugs, of any sort?"
"No sir, I haven't."
"Ever been tempted to?"
"No, Bruce. And trust me, after all this, I never will be!"
"Good," Bruce said. "Last New Year's Eve, when you drove home two hours late, had you been drinking? Knowingly or otherwise?"
"No, Bruce. Donna's one of my best friends, but she makes lousy punch. I stuck with soda."
"What about on any other occasion?"
"Remember when I was 13 and laid up for a month with that broken ankle? One night when you and Alfred were both out, I tried a swig of brandy down in the study. It nearly choked me, and I never did it again."
"I see. And just so I've covered all the bases, how about cigarettes?"
"Seven years old, me and Hans Leifmann, the strongman's kid, in the elephant trailer during a rehearsal. Not a real bright idea with all that hay around. Pop Haley caught us and bawled us out good, and when my dad found out " Dick smiled ruefully. "I think that was the only spanking I ever got from him."
"I see. Thanks for being straight with me, chum."
"I really did lose track of time that night, trying to help Wally. And Donna was angry at Roy, so I took her home." Dick looked up. "I never lied to you, Bruce."
"I realized you hadn't, once I re-examined the facts. But you did conceal an important part of the truth."
Dick ducked his head.
"Dick, the dual lives we lead require that we sometimes deceive others," Bruce continued. "But that doesn't mean we have to deceive each other. I know you're at an age where you're not going to tell me everything and I don't expect you to. But I do expect you to learn when you can handle a situation yourself, and when you can't. And I hope you never again feel you have to hide the truth from me, to protect yourself or anyone else."
"Bruce, if I had known Roy was in that much trouble, I would have told someone!"
"Yes, I believe you would have."
"I should have seen he was headed for this! I should have stopped it, as soon as I knew he was breaking the law! I'm the Titans leader; it was my duty! To the team, to the JLA, and to you."
"Very true." said Bruce.
"Roy almost died. He still could, if he's gotten AIDS from this. And it's my fault."
"No, Dick, it's not." Dick turned around, puzzled. "The Titans had a responsibility to speak up, and you all made a serious mistake in that regard. But frankly, it wasn't as big a mistake as Green Arrow's leaving a sixteen-year-old to fend for himself for all that time. Or tossing a boy he knows is in that kind of trouble onto the street instead of into the nearest hospital. But despite the mistakes everyone may have made, ultimately, the decision to drip that poison into Roy Harper's veins was Roy Harper's, no one else's. Whatever consequences there were, might have been, or will be in the future are his own doing. Part of the responsibility of being a leader is recognizing where your responsibilities end. I won't have you shouldering any less of the blame for this than you deserve, or any more. Is that clear?"
"Good. Now, as far as my discretionary punishment goes " Dick braced himself.
" I expect you up for a complete workout before breakfast. You will come straight home after school and immediately start your homework. When that's done, unless I've given you another specific assignment, you will spend the rest of your time, nights and weekends, either at practice in the gym or studying your criminology texts. No TV, no movies, no computer games. Is that understood?"
"Yessir." Dick decided not to point out how closely that sentence resembled his normal daily routine, apart his time with the Titans, which the JLA had already canceled.
"All right. And if two weeks' grounding is good enough for the Justice League, it's good enough for me."
Dick sighed with relief. "Thanks, Bruce."
"Don't thank me. I'm taking the League's sanctions very seriously. When we're out on patrol, I don't want you out of earshot. It's been a long time since you've been on that short a leash, chum, and I don't think you'll find it pleasant."
"When we're out on patrol? So you're going to let me put back on the suit?"
"I fully intended to, when you convinced me you understood the responsibilities that come with it. You just did."
"Yeah, but you said that would be a long time!"
"Perhaps I miscalculated. One thing I'm sure of, the Titans are going to need their leader back."
Dick said nothing, but a smile crept to his face even as tears came to his eyes.
"All right, as far as specific assignments go, I have the latest notes from Harvey's therapist at Arkham. I want you to go over the file with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any clue as to what he's up to this time. We're going to have a lot of city to cover tonight."
"I'm on it!" Dick jumped up, his face brighter than it had been in several days.
"I hope so," said Bruce. "I expect you down in the Batcave, in uniform, in five minutes." Bruce Wayne turned and left without another word.
By the time Batman returned to the cave, Robin was already at work, calling up the notes on their last Two-Face case from the computer archives. Batman picked up a thick manilla folder from his desk and began thumbing through it.
"Bruce, can I tell you something else?" asked Robin, without looking up from the screen.
Batman stiffened at the use of his given name. He preferred to get the talking over with upstairs, as Bruce Wayne. Dick, however, sometimes felt more at ease in the Batcave, where the shadows and masks offered some small sense of anonymity.
"Go ahead." said Batman, still intent on the Arkham papers.
"That night of my birthday, when we had our talk." Batman stiffened even more. "I really thought you knew about Roy smoking pot," Dick went on. "As worried as I was about what you were going to say, looking back, I wasn't really afraid. I was relieved, because it wasn't just my problem anymore. And then you started all the stuff about it being no big deal, and part of being a teenager for a second I actually thought you meant it. That you were trying to feed me the same bull Roy had. That's what scared me. I think if the Scarecrow ever figures out how to bottle that, this city's toast."
"Yes, well, we apparently both miscalculated considerably that evening," said Batman, hastily. "Has Harvey's medication changed since his last escape?"
"Same stuff, they just doubled the dosage. Batman, just one more question "
"What is it?"
Robin spun around in his computer chair. "What exactly did you mean about you and Black Canary sharing something?"
Batman's features darkened beneath his cowl and he swiftly crossed the floor to drop the entire Two-Face medical folder in Dick's lap.
"The files, Robin. Now!"
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