***DISCLAIMER: The characters depicted in this story do not belong to me.
Family reunions. Gotta loathe ‘em.
That was Timothy Drake’s opinion on the matter, and so far he hadn’t been proven wrong. Even the scant few people that did love visiting with seldom-seen relatives eventually got sick of dealing with the rather more frustrating members of same.
He had no idea why his father had decided that they all needed to attend this one, especially since it wasn’t even technically their family. The annual Drake family reunion was a smallish, slightly stately affair held in Martha’s Vineyard every July. This Open House being held at the Xavier School for Gifted Students… Well, they’d only gotten an invitation because his cousin Bobby had invited them. And Bobby had only invited them because his parents couldn’t make it. It didn’t help matters any that aside from Bobby, Tim didn’t know anyone there. His parents had even deserted the outdoor festivities for something less insane indoors.
Sighing, Tim flopped down on the ground underneath a large oak tree with wide-spreading limbs. An equally frustrated and bored sigh sounded from the other side of the tree. Interest piqued, Tim leaned around the trunk and saw a girl sitting there, her head bowed. She looked about his age, and had light brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was wearing jeans and a ribbed tank-top under a faded pink cotton shirt.
Seeing that the girl had turned to look his way, and was blinking wide green eyes at him, Tim thought that he should say something. “Hi.” Something less inane than that, but it was all that he could come up with. He’d never been very good at talking with girls. Both Arianna and Steph had approached him first.
Thankfully, she didn’t seem to think he was too stupid to live. “Dawn Summers,” she introduced herself with a smile. “My cousin Scott is one of the teachers.” She jerked her head towards the school and held out her hand
“Tim Drake,” he replied, inching around the tree to be close enough to shake her outstretched hand. “My cousin Bobby is one of the students.”
“Do you know anyone here other than him?” Dawn asked, taking her hand back and shifting close enough to talk.
Tim shook his head. “Nope. You?”
“My sister, Buffy,” Dawn said. “But other than her, no.”
Casting about for anything to say to keep the conversation going, Tim came up with, “So where are you and your sister from?”
Dawn’s formerly smiling face closed off, and she frowned, drawing her knees up to rest underneath her arms. “California,” she said gruffly. Then she coughed and forced the corners of her lips up. “We’re moving right now, though, to Cleveland.”
Tim had no idea what nerve he’d hit, but figured that it wasn’t his place to pry. Plus, he had the strangest feeling that he didn’t want to know. “I’m from Gotham,” he told her, and then offered a lame joke, “Cleveland is probably less crazy, all told.”
Dawn chuckled weakly. “Yeah, well, I hear it’s rather boring. I don’t think Cleveland has any superheroes. Or supervillians. So you might be right.”
Tim smiled slightly, and was about to reply with a rejoinder when a flash of platinum blonde hair not too far away caught his eye. He reflexively stood up to get a better look and blinked, startled. “Cissie?” Tim asked.
The blonde archer turned to face him and did a double-take. “Tim? What are you doing here?” she asked, smiling wide as she pulled his mostly unresisting form into a hug.
“Visiting my cousin Bobby,” Tim said, reminding himself to hug her back. “What are you doing here?” he asked, breathing a mixed sigh of relief and regret as she pulled away.
“I’m visiting my cousin Rick,” Cissie replied, explaining, “Rick Jones, cousin on my father’s side. He got invited to this–” she waved a hand towards the large group of people, “–whatever this is, and I tagged along.” She rolled her eyes and smirked. “But apparently he ran into an old friend of his, and they haven’t stopped their frat-pack story-swapping since we got here.”
“An old friend?” Tim repeated questioningly, sensing there was more to Cissie’s smirk than met the eye.
Smile widening, Cissie said, “Yeah, his old friend Snapper Carr.”
Tim blinked. His eyes narrowed reflexively as he tried to put together just how
small the world was, before he gave up and blinked the mental diagrams from his eyes. “Well, that’s…coincidental.” Suddenly remembering the other girl he’d been talking with, Tim turned towards Dawn. “This is Dawn Summers. Dawn, this is an old friend of mine, Cissie King-Jones.”
The girls exchanged hand waves and lopsided smiles.
“Snapper is a mutual friend of ours,” Tim explained, and hurriedly tried to figure out what to do next. He hadn’t seen Cissie in what seemed like forever, but he didn’t want to just ditch Dawn.
“Less a friend and more of a bottomless pit,” Cissie said, seemingly picking up on Tim’s nervousness. She’d always been better at social situations than he was; hell, practically everyone he knew was, even ‘Bruce Wayne, playboy billionaire.’ “And if we don’t get to the triple fudge chocolate chunk brownies while they’re still some left, I’m pretty sure he’s going to eat them all.”
“That would definitely not be of the good,” Dawn intoned with mock seriousness. Then she sighed and giggled. “Even if those brownies will definitely be of the bad for my diet.”
“I know,” Cissie agreed with a sigh.
Tim really didn’t think that either of them needed to be on diets, but he had no idea how to say so with any kind of grace. “I’m sure that, considering how much running around everyone’s doing today, one brownie wouldn’t hurt,” seemed like the safest thing to say.
Or the dumbest, if the looks the two girls were sending him were any indication.
“Let’s head for the chocolatey goodness before I change my mind,” Dawn said, and the two blondes headed off towards the snack tables.
Tim blinked, sighed, shrugged, and hurried off in pursuit of triple chocolate fudge brownies.***
From behind a clump of tall holly bushes, Slade Wilson – otherwise known as the mercenary Deathstroke, the Terminator – narrowed his one eye as he watched the youngest apprentice of the Dark Knight. He wondered if his sometime-foe, sometime-ally was there as well, then dismissed Nightwing’s possible presence as irrelevant. This gathering was the equivalent of neutral territory. His mind worked quickly, taking in the appearance of the second girl in the company of Robin, and working on computing her identity. Then a rustle from the side distracted him, causing him to whirl round and sigh at what he found.
“Hey, Slade, these brownies are great!” his cousin Wade Wilson – otherwise known as the mercenary Deadpool – said through a mouthful of rich chocolate. “You should try one.”
Slade sighed, and gave into the inevitable, accepting a large chunk of nut-filled fudge from his cousin. The other man was crazy enough that he felt it prudent to pick and choose which battles to fight, and considering their family, that was saying something.
How Rose had ever talked him into this, he’d never know. He hated family get-togethers, and Wade was the most trying of all his relatives. For all that he was in the same business, the man took nothing seriously; he was barely a man at all, more like an overgrown teenager in a cancer-wasted body.
“Didya here that they’re having picnic games in the afternoon?” Wade enthused, chewing a large helping of potato salad with his mouth open. He swallowed, and grinned. “Y’know, like sack races, and tag, and I think I heard something about kite flying.” He waggled his eyebrow – or what would have been his eyebrows, had hair been able to grown on his head. “Wanna enter the three-legged race with me?”
Slade sighed, and prepared to do battle.
Family reunions. Gotta loathe ‘em.