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When Jason had arrived back in Gotham, it hadn't taken long to fall right back into his routine, as Bruce's ward and as Robin. Bruce had tested him as soon as he'd gotten back, both physically and scholastically (and boy was Jason glad he'd made the time to study his Russian, what with Bruce quizzing him on it in the damn car), and he seemed pleased with how Jason had been doing while he was away. They talked about school a little, sticking to the basics of how the classes were, and what he was planning on taking next semester, and Jason was grateful for that. If they started talking about his friends, they'd eventually get to talking about Nico, and Jason would have to try to lie - try being the operative word since really, there was no way to lie to the best detective in Gotham and get away with it.


For the first week or so, Batman and Robin's patrols had been quiet - at least, as quiet as things ever got in Gotham. All of that changed tonight though, when Bruce came up from the cave and told Jason to suit up.

"What's going on?" Jason asked, already pushing the last of his dinner aside.

Bruce hesitated for just a moment, and although his expression didn't change, Jason could practically see the gears turning in his head. "We're going to a party. Kyle Braxton, the scupltor, is throwing a party, and Two-Face was spotted in the area."

Now Jason understood Bruce's moment of apprehension. When Bruce had told him that Two-Face has escaped from Arkham Asylum while Jason was away, Jason's reaction had been a little...volatile. But it just wasn't fair for the man who killed his father to be walking around free, especially considering his criminal record, and this sounded like the perfect opportunity to get Two-Face back where he belonged. "What are we just standing around for then? Let's go," he said.

For a second, Bruce looked like he wanted to say something, but then he simply nodded and walked away to get suited up. He didn't need to actually say anything for Jason to know what he'd been thinking. He hadn't done very well at managing his temper the last time they'd met up with Two-Face, so this was going to be a test as to whether or not Jason could handle himself around criminals he wanted to strangle.

Bruce might not have been certain about that, but Jason was. As long as Two-Face went back to Arkham, he was sure that everything would be fine.

***

By the time they got to the party, Two-Face was already there with his twin minions, robbing everyone they could point their guns at. After Batman and Robin made their presence known, the criminals took off throughout the penthouse where the party was being held, and Bruce and Jason split up to track them down. After dealing with the twin girls Two-Face had brought along (tying them up, of course - he couldn't bring himself to hit them and knock them out, no matter who they were working for), it just so happened that Jason caught up to Two-Face first. He only beat Bruce by a minute though, and it didn't take long for him to catch up.

"Robin, wait," he called, but Jason shook his head as Two-Face went around a corner and disappeared out of sight.

"I'm taking him, Batman, and you know why," he said, rounding the corner. He was so intent on getting ahead of Bruce that he didn't notice that Two-Face had gone around the corner and stopped until he was already bringing the butt of his gun down on Jason's head, knocking him to the floor.

"I've got one barrel left to fire, Batman," Two-Face said, pulling Jason with him towards the elevator with his gun pressed to the base of Jason's skull. "Or do you think I'm bluffing?"

"You've got five minutes to get out of here, Harvey," Batman said. If Jason wasn't still seeing stars, he might have scowled at Bruce using Two-Face's real name like he was still a normal person, but he was a little busy trying to get away without getting his head blown off. Two-Face's grip on his cape was too strong though, and was dragged into the elevator and shoved to the floor.

"How generous of you," Two-Face said as the doors started to close. "Luckily, I'll only need two!"

Jason wasn't sure what was more embarrassing - getting the shit kicked out of him in the elevator, or the fact that Two-Face had enough time to straighten out his suit and walk away before Jason managed to crawl out. Maybe, he thought, if he prayed hard enough, he'd fall unconscious before he had to see the look on Bruce's face.

***

Jason managed to stay conscious long enough for Bruce to get downstairs, and the lecture he got on the way back to the manor was sharp, but well-deserved. He'd screwed up again with Two-Face, and at this rate, Jason was already preparing his counterargument for when Bruce would inevitably tell him that he was being grounded until this case was over.

Luckily, Bruce didn't ground him, and Jason figured it was probably because he needed help figuring out what the hell Two-Face was up to. There was nothing about the sculptor that had to do with the number two, and the impressionists' club he hit the next night didn't have anything two-related about it either. It wasn't until Bruce started looking at old pictures that he realized why things seemed off. Two-Face had been holding his gun with his left hand, but Harvey Dent was right-handed. That meant there were two Two-Faces running around, and this time, Jason chose to take his violent reaction out on the punching bag in the cave's training space. If nothing else, he figured he could use the extra practice to not get his ass handed to him again any time soon.

After that, it didn't take long for Bruce to figure out what had happened. Some actor, a guy by the name of Sloane, had gotten his face messed up like Two-Face's while he was playing Harvey Dent in a movie. He'd gotten all fixed up with plastic surgery, a gift that had never been give to Two-Face, and when Bruce and Jason went to visit Sloane's wife, it turned out he was missing. As they headed back to town, Bruce pointed out that it was a good thing Jason hadn't caught up to Sloane in that penthouse, since he wasn't the real Two-Face, and it took everything Jason had to not roll his eyes. Sure, this Sloane guy hadn't killed his father, but he'd just finished robbing a party full of people. If Jason had caught him and roughed him up a little, it wasn't like the guy didn't have it coming.

Clearly, Sloane was nuts, or maybe just brainwashed, but either way, they needed to get their hands on him. One fake news article in the Gotham Gazette later, Batman and Robin were hiding out at the train station inside an unused train. The article had claimed that a shipment of $2 bills was being sent to Gotham for destruction, and while it seemed like a clear trap to Jason, he had to agree with Bruce that anyone wanting to pretend to be Two-Face would have no choice but to take the bait.

After what felt like ages in "There are probably bad guys out there and I'm not getting to beat any of them up" time, the delivery train approached, and was quickly sent off to a set of side tracks.

"Batman, someone's switching the train to a siding. Should we--?"

"Yes, I expected this," Bruce said, because he expected pretty much everything that happened once he made a plan. "It's Sloane, making his move."

Sure enough, just beyond the first car, a two-man electric handcar could be seen stopping the train. Jason would have commented on how dealing with all these Two-Faces was going to make him hate math, but he heard Commissioner Gordon yelling from the next car over in their hiding spot. "He took the bait, men! Take him down!"

"Come on, Batman!" Jason said quickly. "Are we gonna let the Commissioner and his men have all the fun?" He had meant that as a rhetorical question, but as he started to run out, Bruce held him back.

"If I know Two-Face, the 'fun' has barely begun, Robin," he said, his hand tight on Jason's shoulder as he passed him a pair of earplugs. "Let's sit tight for a minute."

Jason couldn't hide his diappointment, but he took the earplugs anyway and put them in. Bruce knew what he was doing, he just had to remember that. Once he'd put the earplugs in, Bruce led him to the edge of the car they'd been hiding in, so they could peer out and watch what was happening. Jason saw Sloane's men pull out two big contraptions that looked like guns but clearly weren't - when they shot at Gordon and his men, they all fell down at once like they'd passed out. Bruce gave Jason a knowing look, and pulled out his earplugs before motioning for Jason to do the same. It seemed that Gordon and his men had been bait too, and Jason had to admit that as annoying as it was sometimes when Bruce was always right, he had to admire the man's style.

"You took the bait, Sloane!" Batman called as they stepped out from behind the car and approached him. "Now we're going to reel you in."

"Don't call me that!" Sloane said sharply, removing any last doubt that he was, in fact, just a crazyflakes imposter. "I'm Two-Face!"

Bruce and Jason had expected Sloane to bring twice as many men with him this time, but they plowed through them like it was nothing, falling right into step with each other. It felt good, and Jason was riding high when everything suddenly came crashing down.

"Look at it this way, Sloane," Batman said, even more insistent on using his name now. "I'll have to go to double the effort to capture your 'twin.'"

"I'm sure you would, Batman--and I can't allow that," said another voice, and Bruce and Jason turned to find themselves facing Two-Face - the real one - with a pair of goons of his own.

"Harvey," Bruce said, watching the man flinch at his real name. "You did this, didn't you?"

"Why not?" Two-Face said. "He had everything I desired--a home, a family, friends--why should he be any happier than I am? I hoped undoing his plastic surgery would send him on a spree of two crimes, but I had no idea it would be this successful."

Bruce took a more defensive stance, and Jason responded by taking on a more offensive one. This was the part he didn't like, where Bruce would try to talk sense to a crazy person. Sure enough--

"Sloane's face can be repaired, and perhaps yours can too," Batman said. "Your wife Gilda would still--"

Whatever he was going to say was cut off when Two-Face clocked him with his gun. "Stop it! I won't tell you twice, never mention her name!"

Jason had been so focused on Two-Face that he'd forgotten about Sloane until one of Two-Face's men yelled, "Boss, look out! Sloane's got a gun!" Jason looked over to see Sloane taking out Two-Face's men, right before Sloane aimed the gun and shot him too, and Jason had just enough time to think "Tranquilizer darts. Fuck." before he was out for the count.

***

Jason wasn't sure how long he was out, but when he woke up to the sound of Bruce calling "Robin! Robin!" two things became apparent right away: one, he was tied up very well, with his arms tied to a pipe above him at an angle that would be difficult to squirm out of, and two, it was fucking freezing. "Batman? Where are we? It's so cold."

"I wouldn't worry about that," Batman said. Jason saw that he was tied up in the same way...and so was Two-Face, on Jason's other side. "If Sloane has his way, in two minutes, it'll be an awful lot warmer."

Jason followed Bruce's line of sight to the bomb that had been placed on the wall of the refrigerated train car, ticking down from 1:59. He was right. If they didn't do something fast, this was going to get ugly very quickly.


[Dialogue and story adapted from Detective Comics #580. NFI, NFB, etc.!]

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October 2011

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