Roxanne practiced her moves at the Gotham Park, thankful that it was cloudy today. Both her parents were still working and the only people back at home were Roxanne's sister and her sister's boyfriend. It was a thought she didn't find enjoyable. Roxanne delivered a swift round house kick with her right leg, trying to take her mind off of what was going on at home right now.
"Nice moves," a voice said, distracting her. "For a beginner."
"Who are you calling a beginner?" Roxanne asked, getting her left leg ready to kick and keeping her arms in a fighting stance.
"Only ones here are the two of us," the boy said arrogantly. "So, I'm guessing you."
"I'll have you know that I'm a—" Roxanne began, irritated with the stranger's attitude, only to find herself looking into the eyes of a boy about her age.
With jet black hair that fell into his emerald green eyes, a pretty yet strong face, bad boy clothes and a physique that an adult male model would kill for, she found herself lost for words.
"You're a what?" he asked Roxanne, snapping her out of her daze.
"A red belt," she finished, turning away so he wouldn't see her blush.
The boy scoffed, "You're serious?"
"All right," Roxanne told him, turning to face the boy and crossing her arms under her breasts. "Let's see you do better."
"Is that a challenge?" the boy asked with a gleam in his eye.
"Y-yeah," Roxanne said, straightening her hair. "I mean, if that's how you take it."
The boy straightened his body into a fighting stance. "You're on."
The boy threw a punch at her but Roxanne was quick to block it with her left forearm, her right hand waiting at her hip. Then she struck her right hand, aiming for the boy's plexus only for him to move to the right, barely grazing him.
"A reverse twist punch," the boy said admirably as he grabbed her wrist with his left hand. "Not bad."
Then the boy grabbed his left wrist, pushing Roxanne's arm backwards and walking forward, lightly pushing her on the ground.
"But I'm better," the boy told her smugly.
"All right, you win," Roxanne said, feeling ashamed. "Congratulations."
"Don't put yourself down," the boy said, helping Roxanne up to her feet. "You have potential, you just need to unleash it."
"Really?" Roxanne said hopefully, gazing into his eyes.
"Yeah, you just need a trainer," the boy told her, shrugging his shoulders. "If you want, I'd be happy to help you out..."
"Roxanne," Roxanne told him, running her fingers through her hair. "Roxanne Taylor."
"I'm Jason," the boy told him. "Jason Todd."
Jason Todd, where had she heard that name before? It was a common name but Roxanne remembered one particular instance where she heard it over and over.
"Do you mean Jason Todd as in Bruce Wayne's ward?" Roxanne asked, hoping Jason wouldn't get offended if she was wrong.
"Yeah, that's me," Jason told her bitterly. "And I'm guessing the Taylor stands for Tanya's sister."
"Yeah," Roxanne said bitterly.
"The Queen Bee?" Jason asked. "Every guy wants to date her, every girl wants to be her?"
"Yeah, that's my sister," Roxanne said, feeling anger seep in her voice. "Look, if you want a date with her, I'm afraid she's—"
"Already taken?" Jason said nonchalantly. "Good, he can keep her."
Roxanne stared at Jason like he said that the sky was green.
"You mean.." Roxanne said, struggling to find the right words. "You're not interested in Tanya?"
"No, not really," Jason told her. "To tell you the truth, she's not really my type."
"Really?" Roxanne said excitedly. Then lowered her voice and ran her fingers through her hair. "I mean, why's that?"
"Let's just say that your sister's not one of my favorite people," Jason told her with a sly smirk.
"Great!" Roxanne said, then lowered her voice. "I mean, she's not one of my favorite people either."
Roxanne felt like she was walking on air. A cute guy was talking to her who was not only skilled but also the second adopted son of Gotham's playboy billionaire, and he doesn't like Tanya! How great was that?
"So, we have that in common," Roxanne said, dragging her right foot on the grass. "Well, that and we're both martial arts fans."
"What's your number?" Jason asked.
"My number?" Roxanne said, staring at Jason like he just asked her to take her clothes off.
"Yeah, that way we can get together some time and find out what else we have in common," Jason explained.
"Right, of course," Roxanne said snapping back to reality as she retrieved her purse from a nearby parking bench and got her cell phone out, reading her number out to Jason, who put it in his cell phone.
"Thanks, Roxy," Jason said, smiling at her.
"Thank you but could you not call me Roxy?" Roxanne asked, slightly annoyed.
"Why, what's wrong with Roxy?" Jason asked, looking up from his phone.
"I just don't like it," Roxanne said, shrugging her shoulders.
"I think it sounds cute," Jason told her.
"You think I'm cute?" Roxanne said, feeling another blush as her heart pounded like a drumkit and then quickly correcting herself. "I mean, you think it's cute?"
"Yeah, I do," Jason said, smiling at her.
"Thank you," Roxanne said, turning away from Jason so he wouldn't see her blush. That's when she noticed the time on her phone. "Look, I've got to get back home." Then quickly added so he wouldn't think that she was trying to avoid him. "It was nice meeting you."
"I'll call you sometime," Jason told her as she left.
Roxanne couldn't believe what just happened. The hottest guy she could ever imagine with amazing skills that were almost equal to Batman, not only offered to train her but gave her his number and he was Bruce Wayne's ward. Tanya would flip when she told her.
* * *
Roxanne came home to see Tanya making out with Josh on the couch, keeping one eye on Roxanne as she entered the room. When Roxanne didn't even grimace, Tanya ended the lip lock with him.
"Honey, I need to talk to my little sissy. Could you wait for me upstairs?" Tanya said in a sweet voice as Roxanne struggled to keep her lunch in her stomach.
"Sure, babe," Josh said, heading upstairs and gave Roxanne a slight wave.
"Roxy, I'm so sorry you had to see that," Tanya said in an apologetic tone that was so obviously forced through her teeth, but Roxanne still kept her smile as she went to the adjoining kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. "I mean, considering how you feel about Josh, I thought you'd be a little more upset."
"It's all right, you can keep him," Roxanne said, wondering if she should grab the soda bottle or the beer can. "I got a better deal."
Tanya looked at Roxanne as if she said she knew who Batman was.
"You got a better deal?" she repeated. "Better than the king of Gotham High?"
"Yep," Roxanne said absentmindedly, deciding on soda.
"Who would that be?" Tanya asked, the tone of disbelief eminent in her voice.
"Have you ever heard of Jason Todd?" Roxanne asked, twisting the cap off.
"Jason Todd? As in Bruce Wayne's ward?" Tanya said, like she was still trying to comprehend Roxanne's happiness as she took a sip from her soda bottle.
"Yep, that's the one," Roxanne said, feeling herself overwhelmed with joy and not from the bubbly sweetness that ran down her throat. "We met in the park. He sparred with me, offered to give me a few tips, called me cute." Roxanne blushed. "And he asked for my number."
Roxanne felt her heart pound and her feet felt like they were walking on air, hoping Tanya would congratulate her or at least show the same anger and jealousy that she enjoyed bringing out of Roxanne. Instead, Tanya laughed like Roxanne was a little girl telling her mother that the tooth fairy put money under her pillow.
"Roxanne, you don't have to make up stories to make yourself feel good," Tanya said, returning to her same fake smile.
"What do you mean?" Roxanne said, her mood going down.
"Come on, Roxy, Jason Todd meeting you in the parking lot, calling you cute and giving you his number? Why not go the extra mile, say Robin the Boy Wonder saved you from a robbery and asked you to be his girlfriend?" Tanya said in that fake sympathetic tone.
"Robin's a fantasy," Roxanne said, putting far more pride in her voice than she felt. "Jason's the real deal!"
"I'm sure he is," Tanya said in a sympathetic, yet mocking tone. "Really, Roxy, if you were going to make up a story like that, at least use someone believable, like that zit infested creep in your science class. Though, even that might be a bit of a stretch."
"I'm not making this up," Roxanne defended weakly.
"Roxy, you're the school nobody," Tanya explained like she was telling a kid that Santa Claus doesn't exist. "The social outcast, the zero. Inventing stories about Bruce Wayne's ward taking an interest in you isn't going to help you climb the social ladder."
"I'm telling the truth!" Roxanne said, feeling the anger seep in her voice. "Jason gave me his number and he's going to call me! He even told me that you weren't his type."
Roxanne didn't turn her eyes away from Tanya, watching for any signs of anger.
"So, do you have his number?" Tanya asked, running her fingers through her beach blonde hair.
"Number?" Roxanne asked, caught off guard.
"If Jason Todd has your number then you must have his," Tanya said, like she was explaining that the sky was blue.
"Actually, I kind of forgot to ask," Roxanne said sheepishly, unable to look Tanya in the eye.
Tanya put her arm on Roxanne's shoulder.
"I'm sure you did," she said with that same fake sympathy and then removed her hand off of Roxanne's shoulder, making her way out of the kitchen but not before turning to face Roxanne. "Now, if you excuse me, I have a real boyfriend who wants my attention, but have fun with your little fantasy."
Then Tanya finally left, leaving Roxanne alone with her thoughts. So much for impressing her sister, but maybe Tanya would change her tune when Jason called, if he called. Well, he did ask for her number and offered to train her. Why wouldn't he call. Maybe Jason only saw her as a potential friend, someone to hang out with when he was bored, but he did call her cute. Okay, he said that name Roxy was cute but still. Maybe he was bored and decided to lead on the school outcast just to get a good laugh. Roxanne heard stories about some of Josh's friends sleeping with outcasts and then denying that they even knew them. Maybe it was a ploy to get closer to Tanya. Wouldn't be the first time a guy walked up to her and pretended to be interested only for them to ask about her sister. Sometimes Tanya was the mastermind behind these plans. Though a small part of Roxanne couldn't help but think that maybe Jason was telling the truth. Maybe he wasn't interested in Tanya at all. All Roxanne could do was wait for Jason to call and find out.
It would really be something, Roxanne thought. If the school bad boy and the school outcast got together.
Roxanne put the soda bottle back in the fridge and grabbed the beer can.
* * *
Roxanne rubbed sun block on her porcelain skin from inside her car, her sky blue eyes shielded by the sun with a pair of dark sunglasses. She put the sun block in her purse, took her sunhat off the passenger's seat and stepped out of the car, putting it on top of her long straight raven black hair with a blood red streak that stopped at her shoulder blades with the wind blowing a few strands blowing it front of her oval shaped face. A light pink UV shirt with a dark pink sweater tied on as well as light blue skinny jeans and a pair of dark blue stiletto heels protecting Roxanne's skin from the sun. She set the boxed cake down and fetched some digging tools, making her way to Jason Todd's grave.
"Hey, Jason, me again and on your birthday," Roxanne said, digging in the grave. "I managed to get your favorite cake. Don't worry, I didn't make it. Even dead, it seems cruel to give you my cooking. Though you were the only one who could stand it."
As soon as the hole was big enough, Roxanne set the cake inside and went to work burying it.
"Happy Birthday, Jason," Roxanne said with a smile. "By the way, you would not believe the commotion I came across. You know my sister Tanya? Well, a waitress delivered coffee to her at a cafe and she's screaming about how she wanted Decaf and the whole cafe heard it. Someone took a video of it and posted it on YouTube as White Trashed Housewife Screams at Poor Working Girl. Though, I'll admit, I do feel sorry for the waitress and it does make me embarrassed to be related to her." Roxanne flattened the ground, covering the cake with a smile. "Okay, you have to admit, there's something satisfying about the former Queen Bee becoming the YouTube laughing stock. It just goes to show that you were right. As soon as we got out of high school, Tanya had no power over me. I mean, she's married to Josh, who's got a job as a fry cook now, and I'm a former cop turned children's martial arts teacher." Roxanne smiled as she imagined how Jason would respond. "Yeah, I don't know what I ever saw in him either. Can't help thinking I dodged a bullet on that one." Then she lowered her voice to a whisper. "Look, Jason, this is the last time I can come see you. I can't say much because I don't know where Bruce's cameras are hidden, but I can tell you that tonight is the night. I can't tell you what my plan is, but, in order for it to work, it has to appear that I've moved on." Roxanne felt tears form in her eyes but she would not let them fall. "Good-bye, Jason."
Roxanne was about to leave until she heard a familiar voice.
Roxanne turned around to see an elderly well-dressed man.
"Hi, Alfred!" she said cheerfully, waving at him with her right hand while holding her hat in place with her left.
"I see you're still mourning Master Todd," Alfred observed sadly.
"Yeah, for like the last time," Roxanne said with a gleeful smile. "Then I'm totally starting my new life."
"What new life would that be?" Alfred asked curiously.
"I got a new job!" Roxanne told him excitedly, forgetting to keep her hat in place as the wind blew it off. "Oops."
Alfred picked up her hat that landed on his feet and quickly gave it to Roxanne.
"Thanks, Alfred," Roxanne said, taking the hat from him and quickly placing it back on her head.
"Considering your condition, I would think that you would be more careful about such things," Alfred told Roxanne like he just caught her running around with scissors.
"Alfred, I don't need a lecture," Roxanne said exasperated. "I get enough of those from my mom."
"Maybe one day you'll listen to them," Alfred said sardonically. "So, what is this new job of yours? I do hope it's indoors."
"You're looking at the new karate children's teacher over at the Gotham Dojo!" Roxanne said excitedly. "Not as great as being a cop, but there's a certain rewarding aspect to it."
"I'm happy to see that you're finally moving on," Alfred told her sympathetically.
"Thank you," Roxanne said. "Hey, is Bruce around?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid Master Wayne's rather busy at the moment," Alfred said, with only a slight hint about what sort of business Bruce was up to.
"Well, tell him that I like totally forgive him," Roxanne said and then added. "And I'm sorry for how I acted in the past five years."
"I'm sure Master Wayne will be delighted to hear it," Alfred said.
"Thank you, Alfred," Roxanne said, making her way to the gate. "I've got to go, it was nice talking to you."
"You're always welcome at Wayne Manor, Ms. Taylor."
Roxanne went to her car and drove off. She'd be welcome until Bruce discovered her plan, which would be inevitable.
* * *
Roxanne went back to her apartment to be greeted by Chris Patel gazing at his brown eyes and oval shaped face in the living room mirror with his jet black hair slicked back, dressed in Armani tight enough to show his athletic build and spraying a cologne on his toffee skin that's earthy scent reminded Roxanne of Poison Ivy's pheromones from her Gotham City Police days. Being friends with the commissioner's daughter had its benefits.
"So, be honest," Chris asked, turning to face her gleefully. "What do you think?"
"Looks great," Roxanne said absentmindedly as she pulled a key out of her purse. "Like an Indian Don Draper."
"Thanks, that's what I was going for," Chris said as Roxanne put her purse on the coffee table and unlocked the living room closet door.
"So, who's the lucky guy?" Roxanne asked, taking her outfit off of the hangar.
"His name's Tom," Chris said, combing his hair. "I met him at the grocery store."
"And now you're taking him out," Roxanne said, going to her room and kicking her dark blue stilettos off. "I'll be taking out a few people myself tonight, but not in the same way."
"Oh, right," Chris said downfallen. "Look, about this plan of yours."
"What plan?" Roxanne asked innocently, taking off her hat and sunglasses and putting them on the dresser.
"Just the one you've been talking about for months," Chris told her sarcastically as Roxanne rolled down the sleeves of her pink sweater and untied the bottom part, letting it drop to the floor. "It's about you lurking in the shadows to get revenge for your long dead boyfriend."
"You mean justice," Roxanne said matter-of-factly, unbuttoning her light blue skinny jeans and letting them drop to the floor. "The kind Batman refuses to give."
"I don't know if I'd put it that way," Chris told her as Roxanne removed her sapphire earrings and necklace, placing them on her dresser.
"Then how would you put it?" Roxanne said, taking her light pink t-shirt off and throwing it on the floor.
"I just think that you're going about this the wrong way," Chris said as Roxanne went to her adjoining bathroom and took eye makeup remover from the cabinet, pouring some of it on a cotton ball. "Maybe, instead of pretending to move on, you should really move on." Roxanne took the ball and used it to rub her pink eye shadow off. "Maybe with that guy you're dating, William."
"William's boring," Roxanne said, turning on the sink and washing her light pink blush off. "The only reason I'm dating him is because he's got the same color eyes as Jason."
"Okay, maybe not William," Chris said, trying to salvage the conversation as Roxanne turned off the sink rubbed her ruby red lipstick off. "But, maybe there are other guys out there, one that might help you forget Jason."
"First my mom, then Alfred and now you," Roxanne said, putting on a pair of leather pants that outlined her generous curves. "People really love getting involved in my personal life."
"And all because we care," Chris said sarcastically as Roxanne donned a black leather shirt that outlined her well-endowed chest and cut off midriff. "Shame on us."
"I seem to recall you saying that you'd support me in this," Roxanne said, putting her black leather eye mask on.
"I said I'd support you, not that I'd approve of it," Chris corrected as Roxanne put her flat heeled black boots on.
"What's the difference?" Roxanne asked as put her black flat heeled boots on.
"If I approved, I wouldn't think that you were making a decision rooted in grief and anger," Chris explained as Roxanne put her black leather biker gloves on.
"Save your psychoanalysis for your patients," Roxanne said, tying her hair into a ponytail.
Roxanne ripped the three nicotine patches off of her left arm and threw them in the garbage. Then she left the bathroom and took the white box from her dresser, looking inside to find a promise ring she couldn't bring herself to throw away and read the engraving inside, "I will always find you." Roxanne put the ring on her finger, feeling her throat get stuffed up as she went to the living room.
"So, how I do look?" Roxanne asked.
Chris looked at Roxanne like he was looking at a complete stranger.
"Roxanne, is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me," Roxanne said proudly. "Again, I ask. How do I look?"
"You look like the new terror of Gotham," Chris said, looking like he was still recovering from shock.
"Thank you," Roxanne said as she unlocked the closet door. "Though I still haven't figured out a name for myself yet."
"I'm sure it'll come to you," Chris told her encouragingly.
Roxanne scanned all of her swords in the armory. So many swords to choose from and so little time. She had everything from katanas, to medieval swords and even some tiny ones for fencing. Roxanne recalled visiting different weapons shops in Gotham, buying two swords from each one every month for a year to obtain this collection. She took a couple of katanas and left the armory, shutting the door and locking it while pulling out the key.
"Do me a favor before you go," Roxanne said, tossing the key to Chris. "Lock this in my strong box."
"Sure," Chris said, staring dumbfound at the key in his hand. "Roxanne, are you sure you're ready for this?"
"As ready as I'll ever be."