Monday, December 11, 2006



By Thomas Drury
Staff Reporter

Although the masked vigilante "The Bat-Man" is still officially considered an urban legend by both the police and the publisher of this newspaper, there is mounting evidence that someone is once again waging a personal war on crime in and around Gotham City--and it now appears he is no longer working alone.

In the first 10 days of December, police have discovered 26 alleged criminals bound and waiting for arrest in locations throughout the city and its suburbs, each bearing a small yellow sheet of paper emblazoned with the image of a bat.

"These aren't just sightings or rumors," police investigator Sandra Meyerson observed. "There is hard evidence this time. Under interrogation, some of the captured suspects--most of them clearly terrified--describe being overtaken by a large, powerful man wearing a disguise."

Tellingly, the individual descriptions do not match in every detail. Some of the abducted speak of a man who sounds a great deal like previous accounts of the Bat-Man, but several do not. There are reports of figures of various ages and builds wearing capes, capeless outfits, costumes that are green, black, or multi-colored, and so on; the only common thread appears to be that the mysterious character is male and wears a mask.

As a result, speculation within the GCPD suggests that rather than a lone "Bat-Man," there may be an organized coalition behnd the current wave of activity. "That would explain how the same person could be popping up in so many different parts of the region on a single day," Officer Meyerson noted. "There's almost no way a single individual, no matter how effective or resourceful, could be responsible for this many citizen arrests in this short a period of time."

Whether there is one face or many behind the mask, not everyone in the police department is happy with the extra help. "This [expletive] has got to stop," said one GCPD official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This guy, or this group, or whatever, is making us look like we don't know how to do our job."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

286. Dick Grayson

Can I just say that Carl Gustavus, or the Magus, or whatever the fuck he wants us to call him now, is a smug, pretentious, self-centered obstructionist bully who cannot be relied upon to do anything except screw things up? The man disappears for DAYS at a time, typically when we need him most. He's the complete opposite of everything I stand for. Everything all the rest of us stand for, or so I thought.


So why the hell does Bruce seem to find him so goddam fascinating? Even Ollie has been known to side with him every now and then during tactical meetings, or at least want to stare at him for hours at a time when no one else is looking. OK, so he is pretty fucking hot, I admit it. But looks aren't everything--the man is a complete and total son of a BITCH! Why does no one else see this?!

I think there's more to his story than he's letting on. I know our main focus these days is HM, but I'm going to get to the bottom of this. The man is trouble. He's poison to our operation.

Other than that little quibble (which I should really be limiting to my alter ego, but I'm just pissed off right now I can't even think straight), things are going well. Janice and I got together, and that went okay even though I was forced to be incredibly evasive. It was getting really dicey there, so in a flash of inspiration I kinda sorta led her to believe I'd had a nervous breakdown, and that explained all sorts of things she was asking questions about: my leaving town, my not contacting her for months at a time, these strange men I've been spending time with and whose names I kept dropping by accident, etc., etc. I did throw in a part about going down south to help out after Katrina, which of course is true, just to cover my tracks.

I am a devious Boy Wonder, I am...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

285. Robin

The meeting went well--as well as could be expected under the circumstances. I must say, it felt great to sit once more in the Batcave, this time with Batman on one side of me and Green Arrow to the other, all of us ready to work together against a common enemy. (I should probably admit I got more than a little turned on under the circumstances. I tried to concentrate on B's plan of attack instead of fantasizing about being the meat in a Bat/Arrow sandwich, but it wasn't easy.)

There was a certain amount of tension and suspicion, maybe some healthy competition, just beneath the surface between B and O, but they remained professional throughout it all. I know both of them very well at this point (to put it mildly), and I can understand why they each feel the way they do, but i also know they're ultimately on the same side, even if they're not completely convinced of it themselves just yet. I think once they witness each other's commitment to the job at hand, things will change for the better.

Things did change a bit, not exactly for the better, when Gustavus showed up, 45 minutes late. Only he's not "Gustavus" now--expects us to call him "The Magus." His outfit is pretty similar to the one we saw before--all leather, all black, not a bit of his flesh exposed beyond his eyes and lips. (OK, I admit it's a good look for him. And maybe he would fit nicely into that superhero sandwich--but that doesn't counter the fact that he's a self-obsessed jerk who DOES NOT play well with others.) Everything he said seemed designed to complicate things that had been going perfectly smoothly before he arrived. He tried to get us all to go back to square one in terms of who we are and what we're trying to do; he instantly picked up on the rift between B and O and tried to exploit it; he even questioned the dividing line between right and wrong the rest of us all seem to share, implying that twe were all living a lie and only he possessed the almighty Truth.

Let's face it: I just don't like the guy, and NOT just because he's been fucking the living daylights out of B while I was out of town. But I have to put my personal feelings out of the picture and focus on the battle ahead. Taking down HateMonger and his crew is what I've come back here to do, and that's exactly what I'm going to do, dammit.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

284. Robin

Batman has called a meeting--the two of us, plus Green Arrow, and he's also attempting to track down Gustavus, or whatever the guy is calling himself these days. That last one won't be easy, but that's none of my business.

We're going to map out a plan of attack to take on HM's organization, or at least its Gotham City base. I don't know exactly what B has in mind, but I do know that we are up against an enemy far larger than we've ever faced, and it's going to take every one of us operating at the peak of our abilities to bring it down.

And I've never been more ready to swing into action than I am, right now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

283. Batman

HateMonger has escalated his attacks on innocent men and women. It is my duty to protect them.

Robin has matured since we last worked together. His new friend appears to be a worthy ally, despite my misgivings about him.

We can wait no longer. Action must be taken.

Monday, November 06, 2006

282. Dick

I came back to Gotham four months ago thinking ... I don't know, thinking it would be easier this time, maybe? Thinking everything would be different, that Green Arrow and I would join Batman and his new partner, and together the four of us would take down the mysterious HateMonger's organization and restore order not just to this own city, but to the entire nation, since the group's ideology of hate and fear has spread like a weed throughout one community after another with alarming speed.

Instead, life has been an annoying mix of sheer chaos and utter tedium. I spend far more of it as Dick Grayson than Robin (in fact, I've barely suited up at all since Ollie and I rescued the other two back in June). Instead of investigating crime cartels, I've been scouring the paper for apartments, since it's become quite clear that Wayne Manor is not a healthy place to live these days. Oliver's been doing temp work, and I went crawling back to my old employer offering to accept a huge pay cut if they'd only take me back. (B offered to pay me for Wayne Foundation work as he had before I left town, but it just felt wrong on so many levels I can't even count them all.)

I thought I had left my previous existence forever, but I'm finding out that's not quite the case. In some ways it feels like decades have passed since I left here, but in other ways it seems like I never left. Speaking of which, I ran into Janice on the street a few days ago, after not talking to her for at least a year and a half. Awwwwwwwwwkwaaaaaaard. She pretty much insisted that we get together and compare notes over beer and pizza as soon as possible, and there was no way I could back out of it. She used to be my closest confidant in the world, and now we don't even know each other's phone numbers. I have no idea where to start, since about eighty percent of my activities since we last spoke has been completely off the record. I can't talk about Bruce, probably shouldn't talk about Ollie, have no idea what to say about anything else. "Oh, and remember that shrink I was seeing for a while? Turns out he was an evil mad scientist who brainwashed me and briefly turned me into an archcriminal intent on capturing and caging Batman, who is not an urban legend but a real person and my ex-boyfriend. So, what's new with you?"

Meanwhile, HateMonger is out there amassing an army of untold proportions, and I'm itching to suit up and take him down, but I can't do it alone, and it's painfully clear there's no critical mass of good guys to back me up at the moment.

This ain't no comic book, that's for DAMN sure.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

281. Jonathan Crane

I am one year old today. Stlll too young to make my presence known, but soon, very soon I will bring honor to the name and work of my mentor--and earn my own new name and work the respect they deserve.

There is no escaping the fact that this has been a year of setbacks. Declaring oneself the master of fear is one thing. Raising the funds to carry out a widespread campaign of terror is another. At the moment I struggle to make ends meet, eking out a living in the lowliest corners of academia. I am an adjunct at a community college: oh, the ignomy! My ideas are simply too radical for the psychological establishment, it has been made clear to me time and time again. I could hardly care less what they think. Dr. Tanhoger, the chairman of my advisory committee, is the one man who understood my true genius, and look what they did to him. Moreover, without him around, mine has been a lonely pathi indeed. But no matter. No point in dwelling on the past. It is the future that matters.

And that future belongs to ...

The Scarecrow.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

280. Gustavus

I have walked through the valley of the Shadow.
I have tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
I have been to the bottom of the ocean and now I am heading back to the surface for air.

My eyes have been opened.
My purpose is clear once again.
They will call me a madman because they fear what they do not understand.
I will make them see the light

by whatever means it takes.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

279. Robin

The story so far: this Gustavus character disappeared for, what, two weeks, which nearly drove Bruce even crazier than he already is. Ollie and I offered to help look for him, but I think B could tell it was an awkward situation and maybe our hearts weren't really in it, so that idea didn't get very far.

Anyway, G eventually turned up, offering no explanation whatsoever for his whereabouts and no apology for freaking us all out. B welcomed him back with open arms, and now I haven't seen either of them for the last week.

Meanwhile, one of the worst threats all four of us have ever faced is still out there somewhere, and we haven't made a single useful discovery since I got to Gotham.

This is not the way it used to be around here. Nothing seems right. And the whole first-anniversary-of-Katrina business made me question the validity of my work as Robin all over again. Do I really need a mask and cape to do the work I am meant to do in this lifetime?

I don't know what to say. I guess that's why I haven't been saying anything lately.

Monday, August 14, 2006

278. Batman

G. is missing.

Just beginning to regain my bearings (once more), and now this.

It has not been a good year.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

277. Robin

I'd heard B ranting about Hugo Strange when I first pulled him out of the hellhole where I found him, but I took it as mere drug-induced delusion. I mean, there's no way Strange could have survived that fire.

But during a search of intercepted messages I found on the Batcomputer while trying to figure out what B was up to before his capture, I came across messages like this one and this one. They'd made no sense to me when I first spotted them, but I am beginning to realize that this HateMonger character must have been a former patient of Strange's--perhaps one he experimented on before dealing with the two of us.

Tests of the drugs in Batman's and Gustavus's bloodstream confirm that there is a link between what HM gave them and what Strange pumped into us.

On a personal note, I have to say I'm concerned about both B and G. It's not like Bruce to take this long to recover from a trauma--or at least it wasn't before he and I met Strange. He's just not himself anymore--by which I mean he's neither of his two old selves. He's not the Bruce Wayne or the Batman I knew and ... loved.

As for G, that guy is just plain bizarre. I can guess what Bruce saw in him--I mean, he's fucking hot, and the thought of the two of them going at it is enough to send me into orbit--but he's a loose cannon. He's so quiet I don't have a clue what's going through his mind at any given moment. I can quite honestly say he scares the shit out of me.

Ollie's worried about both of them, too. But we have more pressing matters to attend to, like shutting down the Honest Men once and for all. We have yet to track down HateMonger himself, but I feel like we're getting closer every day.

I just don't feel GA and I can handle the job without help from those two, so I hope to god they snap out of it soon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

276. Robin

Can more than a month really have passed since my last journal entry? It doesn't seem possible--and yet it's perfectly understandable, given how busy we've all been since GA and I helped Batman and his ... friend escape. They've both been resting and recuperating for the most part, while Oliver and I have been doing some heavy-duty research.

We are certain now that the mysterious "HM"--an individual who goes by the name HateMonger--is the man behind their capture, and so much else that has been happening around the country. In the matter of less than a year, this brand new villain has emerged out of thin air and managed to establish outposts of so-called "Honest Men" mini-militias in countless cities, each of which is organized like a sleeper cell, poised and ready for action. The mind-altering drugs HM used on Batman and Gustavus are clearly quite effective, though I daresay B would not have been nearly as susceptible had he and I not undergone what we did during that earlier dark period--

Good lord--that's it!

How could I not have seen it before?

A major link has been staring us in the face all this time, and we've all been too blind to even notice it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

275. Robin

B and his new pal were on the floor, both obviously drugged out of their skulls, going at it like there was no tomorrow.

Only the "it" they were engaged in, passionate though it might have been, had nothing to do with affection. No, they were busy trying to tear each other's throats out. Literally.

In my own state of shock, I realized I'd forgotten to check whether anyone else was in the room with them. Fortunately, GA was on the case: nobody on the premises, though he did call my attention to a pair of video cameras aimed at this homocidal horror show.

"You split up those two, I'll dismantle these things," he shouted. Had I been thinking more clearly, I might have deduced he was reluctant to dive in headfirst between the two total strangers on the floor. I'm pretty sure even he could tell this was no lovers' quarrel.

There was blood. There were bruises. It wasn't pretty.

"Bru--Batman!" I screamed. "Snap out of it!"

His eyes were glazed over and drool practically dripped from the side of his battered mouth. He didn't seem to hear or recognize me, and neither did the other guy.

"Hurry up wth those cameras," I barked to GA. "I'm gonna need your help with this. Pronto."

As soon as Ollie was free, I motioned for him to grab hold of the new guy, while I wrapped my arms around B and squeezed as tightly as I could in order to divert him. We struggled to pull the two apart. It wasn't easy and it didn't feel quite right, but we tied the two of them up and gassed 'em.

I figured they would understand in the morning.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

274. Robin

I admit I've spent a lot of energy lately imagining how my reunion with Batman and the introductions of our new lovers/partners was going to go. Ever since Ollie and I decided to leave Houston for Gotham, I've had all kinds of scenarios running through my mind: some friendly, some businesslike, even a few particularly hot ones involving a little Bat-on-Arrow action.

But nothing--nothing--could have prepared me for the way it actually went down.

With Alfred's help, I managed to figure out where B. was last seen, then GA located some witnesses who'd seen him and the new guy being abducted in a warehouse. From there it was Detective School 101 (okay, 201), and within a couple of hours GA and I were standing outside a cinderblock office building on that abandoned air force base on the outskirts of town.

We checked the grounds, then entered through an already-broken window in the back. A crashing sound and a couple of loud grunting noises down the hall led us right to the spot. I checked the unmarked door for boobytraps, then opened it.

What I saw next was easily one of the scariest things I've seen in a long, long time.

And I've seen some scary shit in my day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

273. The omniscient narrator

Carl kept his eyes shut for a long. long while; it felt like weeks, in fact, though it was impossible to know just how much time had truly passed.

Nothing on earth--no amount of training, no degree of exposure to anything in his past--could have prepared Gustavus for what he saw when he opened them. The vision was too horrific to express in language; it transcended any measure of intensity. He wanted to scream, but he knew that such a feeble gesture could not possibly relieve the agony.

He was aware, too, that beneath the surface shock, he felt nothing. He was numb, inside and out. Could not move, could not think, could barely breathe--

--and yet he was alive. Whatever this was, it was a portent of something yet to come. Something not yet here. Something he would have to face again, perhaps very soon, but not now.

Now there was only one thing on his mind: not a thought so much as a need, a want, a desire ...

You want more, don't you? the voice teased. The fruit of the tree of knowledge.

Gustavus nodded, a crazed look in his eyes.

How badly do you want it?

Gustavus said nothing.

Bad enough to do whatever I say?

He hesitated, then slowly nodded once more. He could not understand what he was going through, but he was growing aware that he was no longer in control of his thoughts and deeds. He did not care; the feeling he'd just experienced--both the intense calm and the sheer, gut-wrenching terror--was so powerful that he could not resist the desire to feel it again, right away.

We are not alone, the voice said. See that man over there?

Gustavus looked over and noticed for the first time that another man, also masked and vaguely familiar, was lying on the other side of the room, evidently in the midst of his own private hell.

You know him?

Gustavus nodded.

He is ... an illusion. Something you have conjured up in your head. I would say he is not real, but that is not quite true. He exists, he lives and breathes, but he is merely a dream. Do you understand what the dream means, Carl?

Gustavus looked puzzled.

I will tell you, the voice continued. He is you, Carl--more precisely, he is the Old You, the one that must be extinguished for the New You to break free. Do you understand what you must do now, Carl? Is the path growing clearer to you?

Gustavus slowly moved his head up and down. He was clearly dazed, but he was working hard to listen and obey.

Do not be afraid, Carl. It must be done. And you must be the one to do it. Destroy him with your bare hands--and let the New You be born!

Monday, May 29, 2006

272. The omniscient narrator

Whatever it was that was now coursing through Gustavus's bloodstream took effect almost immediately, making him feel very, very warm--not uncomfortable, just warm, as if he were basking under the sun on a beautiful beach. The very thought of resisting seemed preposterous--who in his right mind would fight a sensation this intense, this ... wonderful?

He thought about the numbness in his legs and arms and realized it was now spreading to his mind, his spirit, his consciousness. He felt like he was floating -- on a cloud, perhaps, or in a pool of bright blue water, the sun still caressing his skin with gentle insistence.

He sensed his shaft growing stiff and jutting out of his pants, but that did not alarm him. It made him smile--laugh, even--to think about it. And his mind wandered elsewhere.

That's it, said the voice. You're doing a great job. Just relax and let it all sink in. You will want to be as comfortable as possible in order to make it through the next stage.

You are a lucky man, Carl. You have been chosen to assume a very special role. Few men get the opportunity to discover their life's work quite so clearly as you are about to. Are you ready, Carl? Are you ready to learn the future?

Gustavus stared straight ahead, his expression blank but for the trace of a grin.

"Yes," he answered softly. "Yes, I am."

Very good. I want you to close your eyes. Close them tightly, and take a deep breath. That's it. Now let it out. Yes, you're doing great ... And another ... Excellent, Carl, excellent. And let it out ... That's right ...

Now, Carl--when you're ready ...

Open your eyes.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

271. The omniscient narrator

You know what's happening, don't you, Carl? the man asked as he reached over and injected something into Gustavus's neck once again. You're being prepared. Made ready.

You have a great destiny ahead of you, Mr. Young. A glorious one. But first we must cleanse you of past mistakes ... Strip you of old disguises ...

Gustavus could do nothing as he watched a hand reach down and rip his shirt straight down the center, exposing his well-developed, masculine chest. He felt something wet across his flesh and knew that a mark was being made there.

In order to do your true work, a part of you--a rather large part, I'm afraid--must first die. Your old self must be extinguished, so that your new one may be born. Do not attempt to fight it, Carl--it is unwise to stand in the way of progress. What you are going to feel soon is going to hurt you a great deal--it is going to change you in ways that can never be undone--but you must trust me. It is all for the best.

You know who I am, Carl. You have known it all along. I am your shadow self. I am the part of you that yearns to be born. And that time is almost upon us.

We shall begin at the end--YOUR end. In the next few moments, you shall witness your own death. You will observe every excruciating detail in its fullness, and you will be powerless to prevent it.

I advise you not to fight the inevitable. A far wiser option would be to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

270. The omniscient narrator

"Y-you..." whispered Gustavus.

Yes, replied the man he saw before him. You've heard of me. You've feared me. You prayed you would never meet me. But now the time has come, Carl Young.

Gustavus looked stunned. How could this ... this creature know his birth name, the name he had changed decades earlier, the name he had never even revealed to Bruce?

I know everything about you, the other man said calmly. I know you better than you know yourself. I know the lies you tell the world, I know the secrets you try to hide, I know what terrifies you, I know what thrills you. I was there when you adopted that pretentious pseudonym you now call yourself--a silly little play on your family name, a tip of the hat to your distant predecessor in the science of the mind. I saw you shape yourself into something you are not. I watched you assume a role--become the Daddy Top, the Master of Men, the strong, silent type.

And I can hear beneath the silence. I hear you screaming, a frightened little boy in a world he cannot control. I see your latest attempt at intimidating the world--this black armor, this mask, this false front--and I know so very, very well just how false it is, Carl ...

Gustavus told himself this was all some kind of trick; Batman had trained him to anticipate, diagnose, and deal with all manner of mind games, and he'd had years of experience with them before that in his professional practice--

--but somehow this man's words were seeping in, taking root, grabbing hold of his head. And unlike the rants he'd heard in training, every syllable he was now hearing rang true.

Friday, May 26, 2006

269. The omniscient narrator

Tell me, Object X, said the doctor. Did you enjoy your brief vacation? Did you savor the illusion of freedom while it lasted? Judging from that bulge of yours, you appear to be enjoying yourself at this very minute. Does this mean you are ready now to crawl back into your cage for the rest of your miserable life?

"You're insane," Batman barked, still trying to figure out how any of this could be happening. "Whoever you are. There's no way on earth Hugo Strange could have made it through that fire alive."

No way on earth, perhaps. But I'd say it looks like we are now in a very different place. A moment ago you told me to go to hell. The way I see it, I'm already there--and I've dragged you down here with me.

Might as well make yourself comfortable, Object X. Oh,very well,you may call yourself "Bruce Wayne" if you like. Or even "Batman"--it hardly matters. I know them all. And I own them all, too.

Strange drew his captive's attention back to the large red "H" now desecrating Batman's chest emblem. As he glanced at it, the masked man began to sense a slight tingling in his limbs. He tried flexing his gloved hands. It was still difficult, but he seemed to be gaining a certain limited degree of mobility.

That's right, Strange said matter-of-factly. You are slowly beginning to regain the feeling in your arms and legs. It will take a while, but it will happen. All part of my plan. You will need to move freely, after all, in order to crawl over here and worship at my feet.

Batman was alarmed--not at Strange's brash declaration, but at his own actions. Had he really been so obvious just now as to draw attention to gestures he'd thought were hidden? Or had he forgotten the doctor's powers of observation, so finely honed that they bordered on mind-reading? In any case, there was no disguising the obvious arousal he was experiencing upon seeing once again the man who had broken him.

"The only move I'm going to make is to strangle you, you fiend," he said, mustering all the confidence he could find to deliver the threat.

What's this? I thought the mighty Batman had made a solemn vow never to kill, Strange sneered. On the other hand, you're not yourself at the moment, are you? You've run out of defenses. You have no other options, because you acknowledge I am the one man you cannot beat. The man, in fact, who beat you. The man who robbed you of your mask and all your secrets. The man who broke your will. The man who took complete possession of your life. I can see why the desire to destroy me would lead you to abandon your age-old moral code. After all, it's hopelessly out of date now, as we both know.,,

So go ahead, Mr. Wayne. I'd very much like to see you try and kill me. Because I don't think you can do it. I don't think you're up to the challenge. I think what you'd much prefer to do is to rest yourself here at my feet and kneel before me. To THANK me for all that I have done for you, and to plead that I show you mercy in the times ahead. And it's true: they will be very, very dark times indeed...

Images of past torments flooded Batman's brain. He felt swept away by them, unable to concentrate on a plan of action. He remembered every torture, every humiliation inflicted by Strange during that horrible period a year earlier--a period he thought he'd put behind him once and for all. He could not recall the events that had brought him to this moment, but that did not make the present crisis seem any less intense.

Now there was nothing to do but wait. Wait until he was able to move, and then do something he had never done before. Something he had sworn he would never do.

But now the writing was on the wall. He had no other choice.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

268. The omniscient narrator

"B-but how--" Batman sputtered. "There was no way you could have survived that ... that fire ..."

Where there's a will, there's a way, Batman, Strange said. To coin a phrase.

"But it's ... it's not humanly possible--"

You disappoint me, Bruce. Such a limited imagination ... Oh, wait--did I just call you "Bruce"? I'm so sorry, Mr. Wayne. You must forgive me. I know you may be more comfortable being addressed by the name I gave you when last we met. Isn't that right, "Object X"?

Although he had no feeling in his arms or legs, Batman was instantly aware that his cock was stiffening at the sound of that horrible nickname. Strange noticed it as well.

I see I've brought back some happy memories, the doctor said, smiling.

"Go to hell," Batman snarled. "Go to fucking hell, you goddam monster."

Such language! Strange said. I see your condition has deteriorated significantly since you left my care, Object X. We'll have to do something about that. But first, I think I'd better take care of something else I should have done a long time ago...

The doctor produced a small container of red ink, dipped his finger in it, and then traced the outline of an "H" on Batman's chest, directly over the bat insignia there.

They say it's very important to properly identify one's property in case it's ever lost or stolen, Strange said. Can't risk you running off again...

Batman felt the ink soak into his suit, staining his flesh. He wanted more than anything to pound the crap out of this madman, but there was nothing he could do about it.

Nothing at all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

267. The omniscient narrator

Painfully aware that the room was spinning and nothing was what it seemed, Batman stared at the man he saw before him.

"So ... it's you, isn't it?" he asked, dumbfounded by the possibility.

In the flesh, the man answered in the deepest voice imaginable. His words echoed around the room, bouncing off the walls and ceiling before landing in Batman's ears. They sounded distorted, as if the pitch were being controlled by some kind of machine, stretched out and sped up and slowed down and twisted every which way.

"You've ... come back for me, then," Batman said, trying hard to wrap his mind about what was happening.

Correction, said Dr. Hugo Strange. It is you who have returned ... to me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

266. The omniscient narrator

Lying immobile on his back, his arms and legs injected with the same numbing drug as Batman's, Carl Gustavus was beginning to question his recent career change.

Actually, he was questioning a lot more than that: the solidity of his skin, the grotesque visions his eyes kept presenting him, the very fabric of reality itself.

He was like an upended turtle, waiting helplessly for the end to come.

He was fairly certain it was going to happen slowly, painfully, and horribly. He'd seen things, heard things, suspected things. Awful things, involving hideous weapons of torture and unspeakable acts of violence.

He had no idea who was behind it all, or how he'd gotten himself into this position. Not knowing made the defeat all the more ignominious.

He felt something dripping on him from somewhere above and sensed his flesh begin to melt away as he grew aware that someone was in the room with him, watching him struggle to remain alive and gloating as he lost the battle.

Should have known..., Gustavus whispered, not sure whether the words could be heard by his new companion or not. It was you all along.

Monday, May 22, 2006

265. The omniscient narrator

Batman strained to lift his head. His mask was still in place, and that was a good sign.

Another good sign was the fact that he could manage to move his head and neck in various directions: up and down, side to side... He quickly deduced that sudden motion was not a good idea, though. Not only was the room spinning at a sickening rate, he was also seeing two and three, sometimes four, of everything. The bat on the belt buckle became a small army of bats, all perched stockstill and waiting for a command before taking flight.

By squinting, he was able to calm the multiplying visions a bit, but things just got blurry then.

He heard something. Hearing was affected, too, by whatever it was he was on: sounds were liquid and echo-ey, punctuated by shrill buzzing noises off in the distance.

The thing he heard was not far away. It was a moan or a groan or a sigh or a breath; he couldn't tell which, and was having trouble concentrating enough to be certain.

He raised his head as high as he could and stared and squinted as hard as he could and tried very, very intently to focus on the form he saw before him.

In time, it became clear.

Oh dear god, he thought to himself. Dear god.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

264. The omniscient narrator

The buckle on the belt he was wearing but could not touch had a picture on it. A picture of ... something. He stared at it and tried to make sense of it.

In so doing, he made another discovery: he was seriously dizzy. The room seemed to be spinning around him. He tried hard to stabilize himself by staring at the picture of the ba--

That was it! Belt. Buckle. Bat.


He knew in an instant who he was--Batman--and ...

And that was a start. It would all fall into place now. Now he was getting somewhere.

Or was he? So far he knew he was Batman, and he knew he couldn't move, and he knew he was under the influence of something extremely potent.

He was pretty sure about something else, too.

He was pretty sure he wasn't alone.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

263. The omniscient narrator

He wasn't so sure where he was.

In fact, he didn't have a clue.

He didn't know how he'd gotten there, either, or how long he'd been wherever it was he was. Couldn't remember much of anything from the last month or so. Couldn't even be quite sure who he was, for that matter...

... His eyes traveled a bit and he saw what he was wearing. It felt so familiar: tight-fitting bodysuit. He knew without looking further that he must also have a cape, gloves, boots ... a costume--dark and brooding--a disguise of some kind. So he must have something to hide. A secret of some sort. He noticed, too, that he was wearing a belt. It felt heavy around his waist. He sensed that it was loaded with pouches. He tried to open one, but in the act of trying to move his right hand he realized it wouldn't cooperate. From there he began to catch on that his entire right arm was numb. And his left one. And both his legs.

That sobering discovery triggered the most fleeting of memories: he remembered needles, long, sharp needles, poking into his flesh and pumping him full of ... something. Several somethings, perhaps. A shot to each limb, and--could it be?--several directly into his neck. No idea yet who had done this, or how long ago, but the effect was clear: whoever it was didn't want him going anywhere, anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

262. Dick

Okay, now I'm getting concerned.

This isn't like the Bruce I knew and trusted. Whatever it is that's preventing him from returning my calls has got to be something major.

I'm calling Alfred.

Monday, May 15, 2006

261. Dick

This is just ridiculous.

It's been well over a week since I last heard from B. I thought he of all people was mature enough to deal with the awkwardness of this particular situation, but it appears I was wrong.

Well, screw him. If he can't separate our past history from a current case--if he can't appreciate the seriousness of the conditions that brought me back to Gotham after I thought I was gone for good--then the hell with him.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

260. Dick

Still getting settled into our hotel. It's weird as hell, staying in a hotel in my hometown, but I keep telling myself it's only temporary.

Much, much weirder is the idea that I've been here this long and still haven't seen B. face to face. We've talked on the phone, but we haven't had any kind of official meeting or even a personal reunion yet. Should be any day now, though. Haven't even decided if the first one will be as Batman, Robin, Green Arrow, and whatever this new guy is calling himself, or as Bruce, Dick, Oliver, and, uh, Carl.

In other words, I'm about to introduce my new boyfriend to my old boyfriend and his new boyfriend, and I don't have a clue what to wear.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

259. Dick

Still getting used to being back in Gotham. I'd say it feels like I never left, but that's absolutely not the case. It feels instead like this is a place I put far behind me long, long ago in search of something new--only to discover that this is it, after all. I don't know how long I'll be here or what will happen while I'm around. Am I just passing through? Or am I settling in for the long haul? No clue yet. I only know that I have a job to do, and that I am now part of a team. (Sort of like my old ACT UP days, I guess, only very, very different.)

Our last few days in Houston were action-packed, needless to say. GA and I had to work fast based on the information we gleaned from the interrogation, and somehow we managed to pull it off. Our first idea was to simply blow up the venue where the "Houston Male" event was going to take place (Ollie has access to some very interesting explosive devices, it turns out), but we had to rule that out given its location in a residential neighborhood.

Instead, we turned to purely conventional channels--we took our story to the press. And the TV news. We started with the gay papers, then the Chronicle, then radio, and ultimately the local tv stations. Anonymous calls to anyone and everyone who would listen--and all it took was two listeners to turn the tide and shut the joint down before it ever opened. The same reporters are also launching investigations into the "Honest Men" movement as well.

It's not the way Batman would have done it.

But it worked. And that's all that matters.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

258. Dick Grayson (letter from Houston, TX)

Dear Bruce,
I just wanted to follow up on a few things after our phone call last night. (Don't worry--of course I remember how I'm sending this and to whom I'm writing. You taught me well, you know.)

First, let me say it was so wonderful to hear your voice again after all this time. It sounds like things are going great for you and that your life is back on track at last. I can't wait to see you and meet your new ... companion.

Actually, to be honest, I'm kind of dreading that last part, just as I don't exactly look forward to introducing you to Oliver. He's an extraordinary man, as I'm sure Carl is. But we all know this is going to be awkward for everyone involved, and we'll just have to get through it somehow or other. It is, after all, work that is bringing Oliver and me to Gotham--work that looks like it will necessarily involve you and Carl as well. Perhaps the fact that we all share a common purpose now will be enough to help us push through the surface complexities.

Speaking of which: re lodging, there is no reason to apologize or explain about my apartment being sublet. I'm just incredibly thankful that you have kept up rent payments for it for all these months, with no evidence that I would ever return. Your commitment to me through thick and thin is truly humbling.

Oliver and I have primarily been staying in motels and shelters for the last six months, so we're pretty good at it by now, and we don't mind doing it a little longer, at least until my apartment becomes available again.

Please thank Alfred for handling our flight reservations for us (and thank you for covering the cost of both tickets!). I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. We'll see you very soon, I'm sure. As I mentioned, Oliver and I have just one more piece of unfinished business to take care of before we leave Houston. As soon as that is done, we'll be on our way to Gotham.

In the meantime, take care of yourself, Bruce. I promise I'll do the same.


Friday, April 21, 2006

257. Robin's notebook

Finished interviewing the suspect a few hours ago. He was badly shaken and hyperventilating after we released him from the restraints where we found him. We talked to him for three hours, then drove him to a remote Houston subdivision--the suspect still hooded and wearing the bondage attire in which he had been dressed while captive. We can reasonably assume he will not attempt to reconnect with the core group, and they may well believe he is dead by now.

During interrogation he refused to provide his birth name or even the code name he uses as part of the organization, but our confrontation did yield invaluable information about that group and its overall structure.

"H.M." or "The Honest Men" is a newly formed umbrella group uniting a previously diverse collection of right-wing extremists, militias, survivalists, and other organizations throughout the United States whose individual agendas embrace a plethora of racist, xenophobic, anti-gay and anti-choice ideologies, among countless other missions. An unknown number of local chapters all answer to a single centralized authority--an extremely charismatic figure who also uses the intitials "H.M." Remarkably, given the brief amount of time the Honest Men have been in operation, this "H.M." has managed to assert his influence far and wide, bringing together fringe groups in the smallest of towns and the biggest of cities.

As luck--or something more ominous--would have it, the group leader's base of operations appears to be ...

Gotham City.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

256. Robin

I guess it's time I started keeping a journal as Robin again, even though the last time I did, it nearly ended both my life and Batman's. Oh, well: you live, you learn. And one thing I'm begining to learn is that I seem to have this vigilante crimefighter business in my blood. Or else it's my destiny. Or maybe I'm jusy as crazy as Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen.

Anyway, I'm here, and I'm alive, and I guess I'm Robin once more.

I very nearly wasn't any of those things, just a couple of hours ago. Thank god I still remembered the breath control techniques Batman taught me--and thank god I finally figured out why O calls himself the Green Arrow. His collection of blades, planted in various nooks and crannies of his uniform, is the one thing that saved us both from suffocation.

I should say it saved all three of us, because the minute GA cut us both loose from our plastic tombs, we discovered another person in the room with us, chained to the wall, and got him some air just in the nick of time. Must have been one of the goons who conked us over the head back when the fun was just getting started.

We'll know more in a little while; we're about to interrogate him. He's the best--and only--lead we've got. (Did I just say "we"? Damn, it's all coming back to me... The old team spirit.)

Hoo-boy. It's been a long, long time since I've been part of a good interrogation. Feels great to be back.

255. Batman

Just a few nights into his apprenticeship, G is proving that he has what it takes to do this work.

He has already been invaluable in apprehending half a dozen petty thieves and is eager to begin pursuing cases on his own. His instincts are sound, his response time is quick. He is an excellent fighter. In the interrogations I have seen him conduct, he makes full, confident, and creative use of the qualities he brought to my own rehabilitation.

And, I must say, he looks ... magnificent in his new uniform. It accentuates his muscles, his broad shoulders, his imposing chest. Last night, as we returned to the cave after a long, difficult evening of patrols, he caught me examining him when I thought he did not see me. (Did I mention how impressive his powers of observation are?) He smiled. I do not recall which of us made the first move, but soon we were locked in an embrace, our sweat-soaked bodies clinging tightly to each other. As we kissed, I felt the stubble on his cheek graze the corner of my cowl. Through my glove, I could sense the fabric of his shirt and beneath it the firm muscles of his back.

Much as I hate the cliché, this is all like a dream come true--a dream I never knew I had, but one I now realize has haunted me my entire life. For the first time, I have an equal. A partner.

And yet... And yet... A part of me keeps wondering when the dream will come to an end. Given our line of work, that could happen at any minute, and I must harden myself. I must brace for the inevitable. As my own past has taught me, happiness is fleeting. Only the mission remains.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

254. The omniscient narrator

Selena's Place was still and silent as the two men who called themselves "Brother Iron" and "Brother Steel" gently closed the door and drove away. They would wait a couple of hours and then call the cops, posing as neighbors concerned by suspicious activity in the notorious sex club. (The actual residents of the neighborhood where Selena's and the future Houston Male party were located had long since learned to ignore just about everything that happened in and around those establishments, except when it involved especially loud music or noisy, violent bar fights. They weren't happy about the businesses in the area, but realized after decades of fruitless complaints that there was little to be done about the situation.)

Inside Selena's, three bodies lay waiting to be discovered. Two were heavily bound in plastic and topped off with freshly spilled semen, while a third was shackled to the wall. All would soon be dead if they weren't already. The entire spectacle was certain to make quite a sensation in the local papers and on the tv news for weeks and months to come, igniting bitter debates about the depravity of contemporary city life. Exposés would be printed, hearings would be held, sermons would be uttered, and laws would be enacted...

... Except for one thing.

Look closer, reader, and see if you can find it. Examine the scene carefully, and listen for that tiny sound--the sound of something being torn, of a hole being poked through something solid with something sharp. Watch for the first sign of motion--a twitch, barely noticeable unless you are paying rapt attention--beneath one of the mounds of plastic.

Something is about to happen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

253. The omniscient narrator

The newly christened "Brother Hardon" was instructed to stand over the table holding one of the hooded, bound men with his cock in his hand.

"You like this, don't you, Brother Hardon?" said Brother Steel.

"Y-yes, sir," the now-frightened but still excited man answered.

"You're a fucked-up freak, too, aren't you, Brother Hardon?" said Brother Steel. "Lookin' at these men like this, wrapped up under inches of plastic, hoods over their faces, knowin' they don't have long to live--it's makin' you horny, ain't it?"


"Well I think you gotta do somethin' about that. Whatta you think, Brother Iron?" said Steel to the third man.

"I agree, Brother Steel," said Iron. "I think he better get that juice out of him, real fast."


"I think he wants to shoot it right onta them bound men," said Brother Steel. "Ain't that right, Brother Hardon?"

"Oh yessir..." Iron and Steel helped Hardon out of his robe. He was terrified by the implications of that gesture, but could no longer resist the temptation to bring himself to orgasm. A thick ribbon of cum flew from him and hit the mummified Green Arrow on the chin and chest. Hardon turned and sprayed the remainder of his fluid onto Robin's prone form, then collapsed on the floor beside them, exhausted and petrified.

"It's all right, Brother Hardon," said Brother Steel. "Everybody's a little bit fucked up. Everybody gets turned on by somethin' a little bit weird. These guys here--" he pointed at the two helpless heroes--"they like puttin' on Halloween costumes and actin' like faggots. You get hard watchin' em all tied up like this. You know what turns me on, Brother Hardon?"

"N-no, s-sir..."

"RIDDIN' THE STREETS OF FUCKIN' TRASH LIKE YOU," Steel said, grabbing a serious-looking mace from the wall and smacking the trembling man with it so hard that he collapsed, unconscious.

"Gimme a hand with this fuckin' loser, will you, Brother Iron?" said Steel.

"Sure thing," said Iron. It did not take long for the two of them to strip their colleague of his street clothes and outfit him in a leather harness, jockstrap, and boots stolen from the club's shop, then shackle him to an iron cross on the wall. They placed a ball gag in his mouth, clamped his nostils shut, and fastened a leather hood over his head.

"Now the cops'll have an even better freakshow to enjoy when they get here," said Brother Steel with an icy laugh. "Three corpses are better than two."

"I like the way you think," said Iron. "They'll shut this place down, the faggots'll stage a protest--which we'll invite them to do at the big 'Houston Male' bash--and just when the club is full to the rafters--"

"--we burn the whole fuckin' thing to the ground. Three dead faggots pavin' the way for three thousand. Okay, let's get the hell out of here. We've got work to do."

252. The omniscient narrator

The robed men loaded the unconscious bodies of Robin and Green Arrow into their van and drove the short distance to Selena's Place, a notorious and controversial club devoted to sexual adventurers of all persuasions. It was now nearly 4 a.m. and the doors were locked, but Brother Steel reached into one of the pockets in his robe and produced a bright blue key.

"Where'd you get that from?" asked the third man.

"Stole it from one of the members," Steel replied, not wanting to provide any further details. Once inside the door, they lowered the bodies onto the floor and turned on a set of lights.

Brother Steel worked efficiently, as if he knew the place inside and out. "Strap them to those tables over there," he ordered, and the other men obeyed. The three of them had left their comrades back at the new club to continue preparing the space for the coming inferno.

"These guys are into masks, so let's give 'em new ones," Steel said, grabbing a pair of eyeless, noseless, mouthless hoods from a wall display and securing them over the already disguised faces of Robin and Green Arrow. He tightened each one at the neck.

"Watch out, or they won't be able to breathe!" pointed out the first man, clearly the dullard of the bunch.

"That's the whole idea," said the third man, growing impatient. "Now what?" he asked Brother Steel.

"From what I hear," the team leader answered, "a lot of these freaks are into shit like 'mummification,' and--"

"You mean like human mummies?" said the first man.

"Yeah," replied Brother Steel. "Wrappin' each other up 'n shit. Then there's 'breath control,' which sounds like plain ol' suffocation to me. So what we're gonna do is, we're gonna wrap these guys so tight they can't move. I see some special plastic stuff over there. Real heavy duty. Now, usually when they do this shit, they make sure the victim has some air holes, but we're not gonna bother with that..."

"I get it!" said the first man, who was also beginning to sense that the very idea was exciting him to a degree he never could have anticipated. "That's fuckin' hardcore!" His use of the word made him aware that he himself was growing hard as well. "Y'all think y'all can spare me for a minute? I gotta go have a smoke. I'll be right back."

"Just be QUIET," barked the third man as he began the laborious process of wrapping Green Arrow's immobile body, starting at the boots and working his way toward the head. "We don't want anybody pokin' around here before the cops come."

"I hear ya," said the first one. He turned his back to his colleagues and slipped out the front door, then walked to the side of the club. The very thought of what was going on indoors at this moment made it impossible for him to concentrate on anything else. Within seconds he'd reached his hand inside his robes, unzipped his pants, and started to rub his growing erection. Through the window, he could hear faint traces of the wrapping process, and as he stroked himself he envisioned what was going on with the two captives inside, the outlines of their bodies gradually being obliterated by layer upon layer upon layer of plastic...

He was soon so engrossed in pleasuring himself that he didn't even notice the sound had stopped until one of his comrades was standing right beside him. "Hey, 'Brother Hardon,'" said the third man, resting his palm on the first man's shoulder and chuckling at the nickname he'd just devised. "Why don't you bring that business back inside? I think we've got a use for it in there."

251. The omniscient narrator

The Green Arrow proved just as easy to overpower as Robin had. It was not quite as easy to drag both bodies into the building, however, but with teamwork, the robed men managed to do it.

Teamwork was key to everything they did. They were coordinated, they were trained, they were ready for any situation. Including unwelcome guests like these two.

"Who the fuck are they?" said one man. "Look like fuckin' freaks."

"I don't recognize the one with the cape," said another man. "But the older guy looks like the one that's been causin' trouble all over the operation for months. Calls himself 'The Green Arrow.' Thinks he's Robin Hood or somethin'. There's a picture of him on the main HM website. 'Armed and dangerous.'"

"He don't look so dangerous to me," said a third. "Just looks like a goddam pervert."

"That gives me an idea," the second man said, stroking his chin in the manner of self-styled criminal masterminds the world over. "A way to get rid of these two, AND help out our mission. There's a fetish club about two blocks away from here, and--"

"A what?" said the first man.

"It's a place where the most fucked up of the fucked up go. I've heard some crazy shit goes on at that place," said the third man.

"That's what we're countin' on," said the second man, whose role as ringleader was quite clear. "What we do is--"

"How come y'all know so much about this pervert stuff?" said the first man.

The other two looked at each other. "Research, Brother," the second man said. "Now shut up and let me tell you the plan. We're gonna take these two freaks over there, kill 'em, and then call the cops sayin' we heard somethin' suspicious goin' on. They go in, see the bodies, figure out that the perverts musta murdered some a' their own in the middle of some of their weird-ass rituals, and that's that. Two meddlers dead, the story hits the media, and the public learns just how fucked up these faggots really are."

"Genius, Brother Steel," said the third man. "You're a goddam genius."

The one called Brother Steel looked embarrassed. "Just help me haul their bodies into the van. We don't have much time."

250. The omniscient narrator

I have a bad feeling about this, Robin thought to himself from his makeshift observation post. For starters, the binoculars he was using, purchased earlier the same day from a sporting goods store, were nowhere near the quality of the ones he'd used during patrols with Batman. But there were far bigger problems: as an individual, he was well aware that he was no longer in fighting shape--and as for teamwork, he and Ollie had no history together. They'd barely even had time to map out a strategy for the present situation, other than each of them taking a different side of the building and watching and listening for anything out of the ordinary.

And Robin began to find plenty of signs of that right away: a giant warehouse plopped right in the middle of a residential neighborhood (not so unusual in Houston, he'd learned during his stay thus far), apparently being converted rather hastily into a nightclub. That, too, was not so strange, but what did catch his eye was the large number of gas cans lining the perimeter, and the half dozen men busily disguising them by covering them up or tucking them into hedges. These men wore robes very much like the ones Robin had encountered a few days earlier. They worked in near silence, and he knew he'd have to be even quieter as he signalled Green Arrow--

But how could he? They hadn't thought to pack anything like walkie-talkies, and even if they had, the noise from the consumer models would surely be enough to alert the goons.

That little glitch was the first indication that Robin's worries had been legitimate. The second indication came in the form of a gentle rustling in the grass just behind him, which was followed by a very fast, very painful blow to the back of his head.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

249. The omniscient narrator

It was sometime after 1 a.m. when Oliver drove past the address in the ad, then parked the car a block and a half away and the two men made their way toward the site of the mysterious upcoming "Houston Male" event. As they walked in silence, Robin thought about how much easier it had been to do this kind of investigation in Gotham City, where he and Batman knew the streets and where their beat tended to be more downtown than a mostly residential neighborhood like this one. It occured to him that the Green Arrow must have had a far harder time of it throughout his career, constantly on the road and thus constantly on unknown turf.

Dick felt a bit like a common burglar as he and his... partner? ... snuck through back yards and under hedges along their route. There were no rooftops to swing from, and that sort of thing didn't really seem like Ollie's style, either. He'd been wondering about the whole "Green Arrow" business, since although Ollie dressed like an archer--Robin Hood, to be precise, one of the same inspirations Dick himself had followed--he didn't seem to drag around any sort of actual bow or arrows.

Dick was aware, too, that he was out of shape for this sort of mission in more ways than one. He'd worked out whenever the journey of the last several months had allowed, but nothing on the order of the training Batman had put him through. Equally dubious was his grasp of his (re-)assumed alternate identity. He realized he'd been shifting back and forth from thinking of himself as Dick Grayson and Robin, doing the same with Oliver/Green Arrow, and he was well aware that such slippages could be disastrous in a time of crisis. He reminded himself of one of the first and most important lessons Batman had taught him: that as long as he was dressed as an invincible crimefighter ready for action, he had to be that person, come what may.

There was a time when he'd been good at remaining in character, performing his extraordinary job with a ferocity and confidence wholly unlike his daylight persona. But that was before he'd been --

--Best not to think of that horrible ordeal now. Best to focus solely on the present. They had reached their destination, and--for the first time in a full year--"Robin" was a reality once more, whether he liked it or not.

Friday, April 07, 2006

248. Dick

Houston, TX

I knealt there, horny as hell--and suddenly alone. Ollie had walked over to a coffee table to examine one of the bar rags we'd picked up earlier. The entire back page was an ad for a huge party. GAY MEN OF TEXAS, the text screamed, JOIN US FOR THE BIGGEST BASH THIS STATE HAS EVER SEEN. It went on and on in that hyperbolic tone, the promises of unsurpassed hedonism punctuated by pictures of buff young bodies, all to be unveiled in just a couple of days.

By the time I got up off my knees and read the thing myself, Oliver looked like he was about to blow a gasket.

"I don't get it," I said. "I've seen thousands of ads like this over the years. Surely you've heard of circuit parties--oh, wait, you don't get out much, do you?"

"Don't you SEE it?!" he practically shrieked, his face growing red with exasperation.

I said nothing.

"The promoters. The organization," he insisted. "Look at the logo."

"'Houston Male,' I read aloud. "What's the big d-- Ohhhh...."

"H.M.," he nearly shouted. "And look at the logo!"

"Nearly identical to the one on the robes of those men who tried to kill us!" I said, finally catching on.

"I've been seeing it all over the country," Oliv--the Green Arrow told me. "This whole thing is a trap of some kind. That term 'bash' looks like a hint at their darker intentions. I don't know for certain what they've got in mind, but I suspect that if we don't act soon, hundreds--thousands--of innocent men could meet their doom."

"You mean... someone who hates them is rounding them up in order to stage some kind of mass slaughter?" I asked, my mind racing at the possibility. It seemed unbelievable, and yet...

I'm typing these notes as Oliver gathers a few tools, then we're heading out to investigate. I thought we might want to change clothes first--I mean, why bother with secret identities when no one around here knows who we are?--but Oliver reminded me that the whole point of donning these uniforms in the first place was to give us the upper hand in battle, and besides we'll have whatever weapons we may need in easy reach...

Battle. Weapons. Investigation. I have a bad feeling about all of this. All I wanted to do was to bring a little mystery back into our sex life for a night, and now it's all getting real all over again. I don't like what happens when I get roped into these little adventures with these men I love; I don't like the realization that I could be dead in a matter of hours. But I'm beginning to realize I may have no other choice.

247. Gustavus

I don't have a name yet.

I've decided I don't need one. Not yet. Not in order to begin my mission.

I am unformed, a work in progress. What I do have is an identity. I am a threat, a promise, a reality.

And I have an outward appearance. It is a variation on the clothes I have always felt most comfortable in: black pants, black shirt (a tight turtleneck), black shoes and belt and gloves--all of them made of specialty materials, heavily reinforced, developed for me by Alfred at B's insistence. I wear a black nylon mask that completely covers my head. I carry weapons designed to protect me and compromise the safety of my enemies.

I do not share B's taste for theatrics. Except for the mask, the uniform I have adopted is one I could wear in public without attracting undue attention.

Attention is not what I seek. What I seek are results.

246. Dick

Houston, TX

I never dreamed I would ever say this, but it feels good to be dressed as Robin again. It feels damn good.

Didn't take as long to get the outfit back together as I'd expected, and with Oliver's help I find myself with a costume that would actually serve me in combat. Not that I'm planning to see active duty again, although it does sort of look like things are heading that way...

... But I'm getting ahead of myself. What I really wanted to record here was this brief moment of remembering what my life used to be like, all over again. I've spent months trying to run away from the nightmare that that life turned into back in Gotham City, but maybe it's time to move on. I'm sitting here with these clothes clinging tightly to my body, feeling like I can face anyone and anything that comes my way. And there's a strong, invincible man at my side once again--a different one than last time, granted, but every bit his equal.

When we had each gathered everything we needed from the outside world today, we returned to the B&B and set about assembling our uniforms, each of us in a separate part of the suite, careful not to reveal what we were doing. Then we stood face to face, Robin and Green Arrow--two variations on the same theme, two paths to the same destination. I sensed his eyes travel from my boots to my green tights to my makeshift utility belt (the least complete part of my revised look), then hover at my outer briefs. For my part, I started at his head--green cap, mask, and beard--then down to the tunic that clung so closely to his hairy, muscular chest before I landed my gaze at his waist.

And there we were: two men in masks, checking each other out, the bulges in our tights soon betraying our inner thoughts.

"Holy fuck," I murmured. I hoped it was too quiet for him to hear, but no such luck. He chuckled, and beckoned with one finger. (His outstretched arm drew my attention to one of those magnificent biceps of his and the long, archery-style gauntlet that encircled it.)

"Come over here ... Robin," he said, smiling in the most irresistible way.

"At your service, Green Arrow," I replied. I moved closer and gave him a long, wet kiss. My lips brushed against his whiskers and I smelled his manly aroma. He pressed his pelvis into mine and I felt his, er, green arrow seeking its intended destination.

Without a moment's hesitation, I slid down his torso and repositioned myself in spitting distance of his cock.

"Yeah," he mumbled as I kissed his erection through the fabric that covered it. "Right there..."

I sucked away, savoring the taste of precum as it leaked through the spandex. It's not like I hadn't taken him in my mouth dozens, probably hundreds, of times before tonight, but this was different. We weren't our old selves now--or rather we were, but we were somehow more than those selves, too. It was almost as if we were meeting for the first time, bringing with us all the knowledge of each other we had accumulated during the last several months, and supplementing it with a whole new reality.

I stared up from my vantage point on the floor and the sight of his masked face gazing down at me was overwhelming. This was all too good to be true--

--and, as it turns out, it was too good to last. We locked eyes one more time, and then I saw something else catch his attention.

"Oh my god," he said.

And then everything changed.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

245. Dick

Houston, TX

I was skeptical that we'd ever actually get to take any time off at all, but in fact the last week has been a mix of round-the-clock research (mostly Ollie's) and something resembling relaxation (mostly mine). I convinced Ollie that we should check into a gay bed-and-breakfast for a little R&R, and to my great astonishment he agreed with the plan, even though the level of luxury is completely not his style. (By "luxury" I mean somebody washes the sheets every couple of days, and there's an ice machine. Okay, and a jacuzzi, which has been a major help in our rehabilitation.)

It's even kind of close to the vacation I used to dream of taking with Bruce, and it's probably playing out much the same way: I'm the one on vacation, while my handsome lover is still doing business as usual.

Be that as it may, a couple of nights ago we managed to go out to a bar in the neighborhood. It was on the leather/levis side, with a smattering of twinks looking for daddies (and finding no shortage of them). We had a few drinks (!), danced a little (!), and I watched every set of eyes in the room check Oliver out. We picked up a bar rag or two and headed home.

When we got back to the room, I told him that I'd like to see him in that Green Arrow outfit again, this time under happier circumstances. He reminded me it was pretty torn up after his last outing in it, and I said that wasn't a problem. (Okay, I admit I always found Bruce at his hottest when his suit had a tear or two in it.) Then he admitted he'd been trying to picture me as Robin lately, and I got the strong impression he was pretty into the concept on more than a professional level.

I said the remains of my suit were still in Gotham (I didn't mention that Dr. Strange had essentially destroyed it--best not to bring that up just yet), but that if he gave me a day or two I could probably cobble together a reasonable facsimile after a few trips to sporting goods and fabric stores. No real weaponry, but at least I could approximate the look, certainly for the purpose I figured he had in mind.This somehow gave him the idea to repair and re-stock his own outfit (there goes the disheveled look, dammit!), so starting tomorrow morning we're both going to do some heavy duty shopping--including some police supply places he's found in the suburbs. (He's somehow got law enforcment credentials, which I guess he picked up at some point along his travels of the last 10 years.) So it looks like what started as innocent flirting may be leading back to--you guessed it--work. For him, at least, if not for me.

In the meantime, though, we both took off our smoke-drenched clothes and climbed into the jacuzzi one more time. I sat opposite him and stared straight into his inviting eyes. Have I ever mentioned just how sexy those blonde eyebrows of his are when you get so close to them you can kiss them?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

244. Dick

Houston, TX

These last few days in Houston have been pretty much the first time I've ventured out of the path of Katrina and Rita in--can it be?!--six months. There are still signs of the hurricanes' devastation here (mostly in subtler forms than fallen trees or damaged property) if you look hard enough, but since we got here we've been more concerned with other matters. Other catastrophes, you might say.

Ollie and I have had a lot of long talks since we managed to escape with our lives a few days ago. Actually, it's more like one REALLY long talk punctuated now and then by breaks for food and the chance to just lie next to each other and stare into each other's eyes--or, on a more mundane front, to nurse our many wounds.

So very much has come out in the last few hours. Ollie wanted to know how I managed to untie myself, which after some hesitation led me to FINALLY tell him about my brief, undistinguished career as sidekick to the World's Greatest Detective. To my surprise, he hadn't heard of Batman, but then

a) he's really been on the road for the last ten years or so (most of that time in his own nocturnal guise), so he hasn't really kept up with current events, and

b) I guess the legend of the Batman may not have left Gotham City after all. In those heady days a year or two ago when our names were in the paper nearly every day it was tempting to think we were superstars, but maybe Batman is more of a local phenomenon in the long run. (He always said that anything resembling celebrity was more of a detriment than a reward. Even in Gotham, a sizable chunk of the population had probably never heard of us, and an even greater percentage assumed Batman was just an urban legend--which is just what Bruce wanted.)

Once we got done with the whole Robin discussion--and now that Green Arrow was starting to think of me as a potential colleague rather than an innocent bystander--I had a milion questions for him, starting with What the hell just happened?, moving on to Who the fuck were those assholes, and why did they want to kill us?, followed by How did you get involved in all of this in the first place?, and then meandering ever so gradually into the territory of What are we going to do next?

The answers to the first three were long and complicated and often confusing, but always fascinating. In a nutshell, while Oliver Queen has been spending his days lending a hand to the hurricane relief effort, the Green Arrow has been continuing his decade-long work pursuing society's underbelly by night. There's been no shortage of action on either front, but in the last four or five months he's noticed a distinct upturn in bias-related criminal activity--hate crimes. At first he thought it might be a localized phenomenon, an aftereffect of the shock and panic caused by the storms, but he gradually realized it was far more widespread, with ripples in nearly every community we visited, large or small. Statistical research (and don't ask me how he managed to find the time to conduct any, since we've been working our asses off and traveling all over the damn South virtually nonstop) revealed that there were indeed certain patterns emerging, and over time he started to suspect that there was a connecting thread in all of this. Someone or something, he believes, has been working overtime to unite the diverse threads of extremist crazies scattered across our fine land. The logo I noticed on our attackers' robes, for instance, has been popping up all over the place, sometimes in slightly different variations. The recurring theme in all of them is the letters "HM," and Ollie (er, Green Arrow) has been trying to figure out what they stand for. This has been an even more gruelling challenge given that he seems barely able to turn on a computer, let alone use it to Google anything. Besides, access to computers in some of the places we've been living lately has been nonexistent--there are still a few former towns with no electricity or running water, even after all these months.

Anyway, Ollie had been starting to investigate one of these micro-level extremist cells (not that those three asswipes deserve the designation of a "cell," mind you) when they caught wind of him and chased him back to the motel. That's where I came into the picture.

As for the question of where we go next, that one is still pretty much up in the air at this point. For right now, we're laying low, trying to recuperate, and even enjoying a tiny break. I've got a funny feeling that's going to last all of 48 hours, max.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

243. Dick

Houston, TX

I guess I have Mr. Bruce Wayne to thank for the fact that I'm alive and writing this.

Well, I have to thank Mr. Oliver Queen, too--and I will, as soon as I wrap up this journal entry. To show my gratitude, I plan to kiss him on the lips for, oh, about 15 minutes, then move down to his right nipple for another 10, then kiss my way slowly across his hairy chest, taking my time until I land at the left nip, linger there until he starts to moan, and then head as far south as I can before I start running into those areas that are too bandaged to risk such attention. (That's probably not a very smart plan, medically speaking, but damn, I can't keep my hands off that man.) His significant injuries are probably going to stop us from doing much more than kissing tonight, let alone for the next few days/weeks, but that's okay. I just thank god we're both still breathing.

To backtrack, it was Bruce who taught me what I needed to know in order to escape that tree trunk I was tied to--and while I'm thanking people, I should really thank that anonymous state trooper, or fire truck, or whoever it was whose siren going off way in the distance spooked our would-be murderers enough to convince them to run to their truck and get the hell out of there. I should probably even thank our hooded idiot friends for being too stupid to bring any matches for their little human bonfire, too. (You'd think at least one of them would be a smoker, but evidently they're more into the chewin' tobacco, judging from the wads of it they spat at me at various points during the ordeal.)

As for Ollie, I've got to hand it to him--he had even me convinced that he was unconscious that whole time. The minute the assholes ran off, he opened his eyes, gave me a wink, and set about cutting himself loose from the rope that held him upside down from that branch. I'm still not quite sure how he did it, but I think there was some kind of blade concealed in his boot. (At least that's how Bruce would have pulled it off. I assume all masked vigilantes travel around with trick blades hidden in their boot heels; there's probably even been a feature on it in Masked Vigilante Monthly, for all I know..)

It was kind of cool that we both managed to free ourselves even while we were gagged--it reminded me of the kind of wordless communication Batman and I developed after a while. Only I had with Green Arrow on our very first outing!

Whoops,that makes it sound as though I'm anxious to do this kind of thing again. Sorry, but I hung up my cape back when Strange got his creepy hands on it. I'm in retirement now, and NOTHING is gonna change that.

And that's a promise.

Monday, March 20, 2006

242. The omniscient narrator

Beneath his frightened exterior, Dick Grayson was tapping into the reserve of calm and calculation he'd been trained to access in his days as Robin, carefully trying to find a way out of this disaster. After all, he had spent a year learning from and working alongside the best in the business. The very best. True, since that time they'd both been broken and brainwashed and left the business, but no matter. Once a superhero, always a superhero. World, meet Robin, the Boyish Wonder!

And beneath that facade, he was even more terrified.

Holy shit, he thought to himself. I'm somewhere in the woods in the middle of Southeast Texas, tied to a tree in my underwear, about to be set on fire by three idiots in Klan getups! And the one man who could save me--the same man who accidentally got me into this mess--is unconscious and on the verge of death himself right now. He's even worse off than I am, and there's not a damn thing I can do to help either one of us.

That wasn't entirely true; he was busily remembering the techniques Bruce had taught him for escaping from rope bondage, for instance, even though his odds of escaping were still remote at best. At the moment, all he could concentrate on was the burning desire to puke. If he did hurl, he realized, the gag would catch it and he'd probably choke on the vomit--an even less appealing option than being burned to a crisp. Besides, they'd probably roast him anyway.

"Got the gas can?" said Yokel One.

"Yup," said Yokel Two.

"Well, wutcha waitin' for?" nagged Yokel Three. "SOAK 'UM!"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

241. The omniscient narrator

"All right, here's yer damn signs," said Brother Wolf, holding up two crudely lettered pieces of poster board each bearing the single word "FAGGOT."

"Stick 'em on their bodies," said one of the other men. "Stick 'em on there real good, so's they don't fall off."

"Well, THAT's dumb," said another. "How's anybody s'pozed to read it after we burn 'em up?"

Great, thought Dick. I"m going to be set on fire. What a perfect way to start the day. He wondered why he was taking such a cavalier approach to the matter of his imminent demise, then realized he was slipping into his old Robin routine, a wisecracking persona he'd adopted as a means of self-defense. Any port in a storm, he thought to himself.

The robed and hooded yokels continued bickering throughout his moment of self-awareness.

"All right, goddammit, we'll just burn ONE of 'em. Happy???!!! The pretty boy. The 'Green Arrow' dude'll die pretty soon anyway, after the beatin' we just gave him, and on accounta hangin' upside down for so long an' all."

"But we gotta have TWO SIGNS. Stick to the script! People gotta know what was wrong with EACH ONE of 'em. They gotta know the one that burned up was a faggot, too."

"Okay, okay--we'll take th' other sign and put it next to the tree so people know it was for him."

"But it'll just fly away in the wind, you dumbass."

"NOT if we put a fucking ROCK on it, shithead."

"Or the bat! We could put the BAT on the paper, with all their blood on it."

This mention of bats--albeit a very different kind--struck Grayson as more than a little coincidental. There are no accidents, Bruce had said time and time again. No coincidences. There are only signs--signs we must learn to read, or ignore at our peril.

"Let's just get this fucking OVER with," said Brother Somebody or Other. "Throw the gas on him and I'll get the match."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

240. The omniscient narrator

Dick held his breath as one of the yokels pulled down on the mask and removed it to expose Oliver Queen's rugged face.

"Recognize him?" said the one who'd done the deed.

"Nope," said one of his companions.

"Me neither," said the other. "TOLDja he wuddn't from aroun' here."

There was a long silence. Dick felt the gag bite into the corners of his lips; it had already absorbed most of the moisture from his mouth and he longed for a drink of something cool and wet.

The men stared at the Arrow, then glanced at Grayson, then looked at the ground. Several more moments passed.

"Now what?" one of them said.

"Time to kill 'em, I guess," said another.

"We gotta mark the site first, remember?" said the third. " 'Stick to the script,'"

Dick felt dizzy as the gravity of the situation began to sink in even further. The conversation became a jumble of voices unattached to faces--faces which were hidden from view, in any case.

"Did y'all make the signs yet?"


"Well, how we s'posed to mark the site without them signs?"

"Hold on. I got some spray paint in mah truck."

"Run go get it."

"Don't tell me what to do, you fuckin'--"

"Brothers! BROTHERS! Now ain't the time for ..."

"Shut up."

"YOU shut up."

"Fuck you."

and so on. They continued in this vein for the next fifteen minutes while the one apparently called Brother Fox retrieved a can of spray paint and begin writing on the grass betwen the trees:


This was accompanied by a crude spraypainted approximation of the logo on their robes--or at least that was what Dick assumed was the next result of Brother Fox's artistry. Grayson's attention was diverted by the fact that he was currently being beaten in the stomach with a baseball bat wielded by the goon he dubbed Brother Son of a Fucking Bitch.

Friday, March 17, 2006

239. The omnisicient narrator

Dick stared helplessly at the still-unconscious body of the Green Arrow hanging upside down, swinging ever so slightly--first clockwise, then counterclockwise--in response to even the slightest breeze.

There wasn't much else he could look at, under the circumstances: the ropes holding him to the tree trunk did not permit him to move his head very far in any direction. Up until now, he had not seen the men responsible for this awful turn of events. They were only disembodied voices--snarling, drawling, cigarette-damaged voices that sounded like they came straight from Deliverance. Under other circumstances, Dick would have held off the temptation to stereotype them as rednecks, but he had little inclination to think of them as anything else.

"Hey, Bobby--this one's kinda cute," one of the men now yelled with drunken sarcasm, taunting his companion--

--who was quick to silence him. "DON'T FUCKIN' CALL ME THAT," he barked. "Not when we're wearin' these. We gotta stick to the script, dumbass."

"That's BROTHER Dumbass," the third man said. "Stick to the script."

This seemed to be some kind of catchphrase--or at least a running joke, Dick thought. What "script"? Who the hell are these guys, and what do they want from Ollie?

The deeper answers were not fast in coming, but Grayson soon got his first glimpse of his captors when they began to gather beside the Green Arrow. They were wearing off-white robes now, their faces covered by hoods. The robes were made of something that looked like burlap and bore a stylized logo Dick had never seen before. ("Very KKK," he thought to himself, though there was something distinctive about this particular version--it looked mass-produced, along the lines of the pre-manufactured protest signs conservatives always seemed to wave at demonstrations of any sort.)

"Brothers," said the second man, now adopting a stilted tone that bore little resemblance to the one he'd just employed. "Let us have a look at this man who has been such a thorn in our side of late."

"Hear, hear," said the third man, all of them laughing at their own pretension. "Remove this 'Green Arrow''s mask, Brother Wolf."

The first man reached down and grabbed the sleeping Arrow's mask in his right hand.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

238. Batman

Carl Gustavus has announced his intention to begin a career similar to mine, and after much careful consideration I have given him my approval. This is an extremely dangerous calling, but I know him well, and if anyone is up to the task, it is him.

I know, also, that I do not desire another "sidekick," nor would I accept one. With all due respect to Mr. Grayson, I cannot afford the risks entailed by working with a less experienced partner or the time required to serve as his mentor. There is no need for debate on the matter; Carl shares my feelings with equal resolve. Nonetheless, we will work closely together--continue to work together, I should say, for he has played an absolutely essential role in my own retraining, becoming more and more actively engaged in the process. So much has he learned from these sessions, in fact, that I daresay he will be ready for active duty very soon. He is currently in the process of selecting a name for his new alter ego.

Our current plan is this: he will continue to live and train with me for the next several weeks or even months, joining me on patrols off and on, then launching a solo identity as quickly as possible. Although we are open to whatever the future may bring, we envision a time when he will move his base of operations to his own home (after he has completed the necessary preparations there). This will, of course, mean that our domestic relationship will change. While our feelings for each other remain passionate, we must face certain realities. My return to the life of Batman has reminded me that it is the single most important purpose of my brief time on earth; as deeply as I care for Carl, I cannot allow any personal bond to distract me from the enormous task at hand. He, on the other hand, has told me on several occasions that he feels stifled by the current power dynamic between us, which is quite different from the one by which we first operated. He was, to use his own blunt phrase, happier with me when I was "all bottom, all the time." That is no longer the case, and we must each deal with the consequences of the change.

I have no intention of breaking off our sexual bond. I owe him more than I can say--without his professional assistance, I might never have been able to come to terms with certain interests of mine, and without his love (I must not run from the term) I might never have been able to put those interests to productive use. (My language about this delicate matter is formal by necessity.) I do not see why we cannot grow closer as lovers even as we may grow farther apart as friends and fellow travellers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

237. The omniscient narrator

Richard Grayson awoke just as the first rays of daylight were beginning to make themselves known. Under other circumstances, it might have been downright romantic: two lovers watching the sunrise together.

Only there was nothing even remotely pleasant about the actual scene. Dick's head hurt like hell, and the more he came to his senses, the more he began to sense he'd received a major-level bashing while he'd been asleep. He knew without looking that he was bleeding in at least two places, neither of them very good ones to be bleeding.

He looked up and saw Oll--Green Arrow, hanging upside down from a nearby tree branch, still unconscious, also bleeding, hands still tied behind his back, face turning red from the unnatural flow of blood to his head. Dick was bound, too, he soon realized: rough bark pressed hard into his spine and thick ropes traced a tight spiral from his neck to his feet. Both men were gagged.

He smelled cigarettes and cheap beer, then heard a voice he vaguely recognized from a few hours earlier. "Yer fuck buddy here learned a valuable lesson tonight," the apparent ringleader said. "Y'all don't belong here. The triiiiiibe has spoken."

The voice sounded like it was only a few feet away, but Dick could not see the speaker. The only thing he could see, other than enough trees to tell him he was in a forest somewhere or other, was the inverted body of the ... Arrow.

"The Arrow"? "Green Arrow" with no "the"? Just plain "GA"? What the hell was he supposed to call this costumed alter ego of the man he'd known for months as Oliver--sometimes Ollie--Queen?

Chalk it up to shock that questions of nomenclature were the biggest concerns on Grayson's mind in this dire moment. He wasn't trying to be the nonchalant sidekick--far from it. He was fairly certain he'd left his sidekick gig back in Gotham City months ago, along with his own pair of tights.

Tights. Green tights. He glanced over at Green Arrow--there, the new name was starting to come more naturally now--and wished the hero's introduction had been a bit less dramatic. Then again, his first meeting with Batman had been under similarly drastic conditions, too.

Batman... What would Batman do if he were here? If he still existed, that is...

For one thing, Dick thought, he'd have a belt full of equipment to help him out. Me, I've got two quarters and a handful of pennies in the pockets of my ...

Pants. Pants...

For the first time, Grayson noticed he wasn't wearing any. No, he was standing here out in the woods, tied to a tree, in his underwear. And from the looks of things, he and his latest costumed gentleman caller were about to die.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

236. The omniscient narrator

Oliver braced for a fight. Dick was too surprised--and far too out of training--to do much more than freeze while flashbacks of vaguely similar encounters from his past began to flood his mind.

As it turned out, there was to be no hand-to-hand combat, only a pair of guns pointed at each of the two lovers. Queen and Grayson both raised their hands, then lowered them behind their backs and allowed their wrists to be tightly bound. Oliver (Dick was still adjusting to thinking of him as "The Green Arrow") contemplated his next move, but his options were limited as long as Dick's life was on the line.

One other thing prevented the masked man from taking any sort of further action. That thing was the butt of one of the attacker's guns, which landed hard on the base of his skull and knocked him out cold.

Dick watched the beating in horror, then saw Ollie slump to the floor unconscious.

"You're next, faggot," said the head yokel. In the blink of an eye, Grayson felt something big and ugly connect with his head.

Then he felt nothing at all for a long, long time.

235. The omniscient narrator

It was 4 a.m. on a prematurely warm night in Southeast Texas, and Dick sat up in his motel room bed reading an ancient copy of The Advocate he'd picked up somewhere along his travels. "Holy heatwave," he thought to himself. "If it's this bad in early March, imagine what it's gonna be like in August."

A noise outside the door to the room caught him off guard for a moment, but as soon as he heard a key enter the lock he relaxed. Only Ollie. No need to panic. And what a change: this time, instead of leaving in the middle of the night, he was returning...

The door opened, and a shadowy figure entered quickly. It wasn't Oliver--not exactly, at least. If you knew the man as intimately as Dick did, you'd recognize certain key aspects of him: the massive biceps, the sturdy chest, the rugged face, the goatee that glowed almost gold, even in the dim light. But all of that was augmented by his striking clothes, all in the darkest shades of green: mask, cap and vest (beneath which his chest hairs poked out), large boots and specialized archery gloves, and the tights that had first caught Grayson's eye.

"Nice outfit," Dick purred. "Even sexier than I'd imagined. Pleased to meet you, Green Arrow."

Grayson felt his own shaft stiffen at the thought of getting reacquainted with his lover in an entirely new way. He pulled the bedsheet back in an open invitation for company.

Oliver Queen clearly had something else on his mind. "There's no time for that," he snapped. "They're after me. I didn't mean to bring you into this. Didn't want to show up here like this... too dangerous. But there's no other way. We've got to get our stuff and get out of here--immediately."

Dick was confused. He noticed now that Ollie was disheveled; he stank of something vaguely familiar. "Have you ... been drinking?" he asked cautiously. Alcoholism had been one of the theories he'd turned to in past months to explain the older man's frequent disappearances, but recent revelations had led him to rule it out. Still, what if this whole alter ego business was some sort of drunken fanta--

"Listen to me, Dick," Queen said, his voice as calm and commanding as he could make it. "There's no time to explain, but my life--and now yours--is in danger. We HAVE to LEAVE. NOW. Grab whatever you can and leave the key on the television. As soon as I change clothes, we're out of--"

Before the masked man could finish the sentence or his listener could comprehend it, the door burst open once more and three thuggish-looking men entered the room.

"Toldja he ran in here," one of them said, in a tone suggesting this was the capper to a long, idiotic argument.

"Okay, you win, asshole," another replied. "Whoopty-fuckin-do."

"And what have we here?" the third said upon discovering the barely dressed Grayson. "Looks like the freak has a girlfriend. This is gonna be FUN."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

234. Dick Grayson

Orange, TX

Can't quite figure out how to start this entry with the proper tone:
1. Here we go again...
2. Is it me?
3. What the --

I guess any one of them will do. I just need some way to express the state of shock I've been in for the last 24 hours or so. Still trying to wrap my head around what happened the other night:

Okay, so I finally confronted Oliver about finding my tights in his suitcase. He was, predictably, pissed, but the rest of his response took me totally by surprise.

Turns out they're not mine at all. Which I guess should be some kind of relief, because at least now I know I"m not dealing with some clothes-stealing weirdo.

What I am dealing with, I learned after many, many hours of talk, is something far more ...

I don't know what to call it. What to call him. Except, I guess, what he calls himself, during those times when he leaves in the middle of the night and doesn't show up for hours, then refuses to talk. Which is...

The Green Arrow.

It's true. Unbelievable, but true:

I have somehow managed to find myself intimately involved yet again with a sexy older man who leads a double life as a masked crimefighter. I've never heard of a "Green Arrow" before, but then he travels around a lot, and keeps a much lower profile than Bruce. He's not one for publicity.

I somehow managed not to tell him about my own storied past, such as it is, but I figured we should limit ourselves to one major revelation a night. It's funny how closely coming out as a costumed crimefighter resembles coming out as gay. There's so much trust involved, and an accompanying feeling of power when you finally let the secret out to someone you care about. (God, I just had a flash of the first time I told Tanhoger about my little secret... Hmm, better not dwell on that too long right now. Moving right along...)

I asked him if he'd put on his full suit for me sometime. I just want to see it, before I make up my mind what the hell I"m going to do next. (I was seriously considering a return to Gotham, and I don't know if this changes everything or ... not.)

And who knows--maybe I'll come clean about the masked skeleton in my own closet soon, too. I thought my Robin days were far behind me, but something tells me they may be just beginning.

Here... we go... again.