The telephone rang at Wayne Manor that night with what Alfred later decided was an ominous tone. He picked up the handset, expecting that it would be young Master Dick, asking for a ride home from the birthday party he was attending.
"Wayne Manor," the butler answered. He listened to the voice on the other end of the line and his eyebrows shot up to his forehead. "Excuse me, sir, but you must be mistaken. You are referring to Richard John Grayson?" Alfred nodded as the other party responded, then replied, "I will transfer you to Master Wayne's line immediately, sir." He pressed the hold button, then depressed a recessed button on the side of the telephone.
"Sir, I am afraid that there is a rather urgent telephone call for you, regarding Master Dick," Alfred said in a toneless voice.
"Dick? Isn't he at Jimmy Turlock's birthday party down by the river?" Batman's voice echoed and Alfred could hear the sound of bats in the background. "Is he all right?"
"He is uninjured, sir," Alfred responded. "He is, however, in the juvenile lockup at this time. The party was raided on suspicion that illegal drugs were being consumed and sold. Master Dick was found with several packets of...er...methamphetamine in his jacket pocket. They are releasing him to you for the time being until he can be tried on the drug charges."
Batman mysteriously appeared next to the telephone. He pulled down his cowl and consciously schooled his face to his usual look of amiable stupidity and picked up the phone. "Yes? This is Bruce Wayne. What has Dick gotten into now?" he asked cheerfully.
Although his voice never changed, Bruce Wayne's face went from concerned to thunderous. "What is he being charged with?" he asked. "Possession for sale?! How much meth was he carrying? How can you be sure somebody didn't slip it into his jacket?" Bruce listened to the reply, his face first going red and then icy white. "I see. We will be there shortly to pick him up." He hung up and ran a hand over his face, rubbing his eyes fiercely.
"Sir? Surely there is some mistake..." Alfred asked piteously. "Master Dick would never..."
"He admitted that the entire supply was his," Bruce snarled. "He told them he planned to sell the meth at the party to get more pocket money. He wasn't drunk and didn't appear to be drugged, so I have no explanation for his statement." Bruce turned his back on Alfred and sprinted upstairs to his room to change. He returned momentarily in a conservative suit. His face held more anger than Alfred had ever seen in either Bruce Wayne or the Batman.
The butler said nothing but brought out the Bentley, hoping that a little extra space between Masters Bruce and Dick would help to soothe things. He didn't believe that Master Bruce would become violent with Master Dick, but he could sense the depth of the man's disappointment in his son.
Bruce Wayne was grim-faced when the police brought out his son and he didn't bother to try to hide it. The desk officer took his name and soon returned with a teenager shuffling behind him, wrists cuffed behind him. Dick looked rumpled but defiant but refused to meet Bruce's or Alfred's gaze. The cop undid the restraints and returned to the back room, leaving Dick frowning and rubbing his wrists.
"Here's his court date, Mr. Wayne," the booking sergeant said, handing him a colored piece of paper. "Since he's only fourteen, he'll be tried in the juvenile court. You'll be glad to know that there won't be any press allowed in there, since the proceeding is confidential."
Wayne took the paper and scanned it briefly. "I'll refer this to our attorneys." His eyes fixed on his son like twin lasers. "Come on, Dick. Let's go home," he said quietly and grabbed Dick's arm.
When Dick tried to pull away, Bruce held on more tightly. "Oh no, you're not. You're going home and we're going to talk about this. All of this!" Dick looked up at Bruce under dark brows but said nothing, finally allowing himself to be led to the car. Bruce held onto him until Dick was inside the car and all the doors locked. Alfred sat uneasily in the driver's seat and set out for home.
Both Bruce and Dick remained silent and glowering during the ride home. Alfred's brief attempt at conversation gained him matching bat-glares, leaving him to meditate on the clear physical resemblance between the two even though they were not blood relations. He sighed. This was not going to be an easy evening at all.
When they arrived at the Manor, Bruce gave Dick a long stare and said, "Up in my study. Now."
Dick stalked up the staircase with an angry and bewildered Bruce following him. How could his nice, well-behaved boy have turned into an adolescent drug dealer? Where on Earth had this come from? Sure, Dick's grades had been faltering, but he'd been spending a lot of time on patrol and with the Titans. Bruce frowned, looking at the stiffly set back of the boy climbing the stairs ahead of him. Could he be on drugs? Or, god forbid, manufacturing them? The manor property was big with plenty of abandoned sheds left over from its days as a farm. Dick was smart enough to cook his own product if he wanted to.
Inside the study, Bruce took a deep breath and sat behind his desk. He motioned Dick to take his usual seat. He wondered just what he'd done to ruin this boy. He'd done the very best he could but nobody would claim he was anything better than a middling father. Too much danger? Exposure to the criminal element? How had he failed Dick and could he recover the boy before something worse happened?
"All right," Bruce asked, steepling his hands. "What happened? Where did the drugs come from? I'm told you admitted to the police that they were yours."
"You won't understand," Dick said firmly.
"Where did the meth come from?" Bruce demanded. "Did you cook it yourself?"
"No!" Dick said. "I broke into the police evidence locker and helped myself. They really need to upgrade their system." For the first time, Dick's face dropped the sullen look, replaced by an expression of amusement.
"Did you break in as Dick Grayson or as Robin?" Bruce asked.
"I broke in last night as Dick Grayson. At least that's what the security cameras will show when they look at 'em later," Dick replied, with a look of veiled triumph.
Bruce's eyes widened as the light began to dawn. "You set yourself up. Have you already sent a press release to the Gotham News and Review?"
Dick was beaming. "Even better. I called in an anonymous tip to the Gotham Enquirer. All Hell will break loose tomorrow and all the gossip rags will pick it up. There's nothing you can do to stop it. Dick Grayson, juvie drug dealer and wayward youth will hit the press tomorrow, " he said proudly.
"Dick, I already told you. It's too dangerous! I won't allow you to go undercover to that boy's school," Bruce said. "And forcing the Court to send you there over my express wishes is...is..."
"Is an end-run around your overprotectiveness, Bruce," Dick said calmly. "Yeah, I'm steaming mad that you wouldn't let me go. One of my friends disappeared from that school, along with nineteen other kids over the past five years. I want...no, I need to know what happened to him. And I'm the only choice for an undercover agent. You already told me that the plan was off. Well, I've set things up so that I'll be sent there, as a juvenile delinquent!"