Puppet Nightwing
By Smitty

"I need a ride."

"Um, ok." Robin glanced at the heads-up display on the dash of the Redbird and reached for the location indicator. "Where are you? My map's not reading--"

"I'm in Keystone."

"You need a ride from Keystone?" Keystone was just a tad bit out of Tim's way. "What are you doing in Keystone?"

"I was trying to help my idiot best friend out of a--hey, the least you can do is not laugh at me. Out of a jam."

"You're with Flash?" Tim asked, frowning. "Are you ok? Your voice sounds a little...fuzzy."

"You have no idea," Nightwing sighed. "Can you just get here? Before the hyena here--hold up a sec. Ok, look, Wally's going to." Nightwing sighed painfully. "Give me a lift to Bristol. Can you pick me up there?"

"Sure, what time?"

Another long-suffering sigh. "We're there now. We're at the Gotham Light and Power. Can you hurry?"

"All right, I'm turning around now." Tim spun the Redbird through a no-U-turn turn and floored the gas. "I'm on my way."

"Good. Nightwing out."

Tim arrived at GL&P in a record seventeen minutes. He overshot the access road and took a back way to the complex, leaving the Redbird in leafy cover. He climbed an exterior ladder to the first level and saw Flash immediately as he scaled the lip of the flat roof. He didn't see Nightwing anywhere. Out of courtesy, he let his last two footfalls be heard as he approached. Flash spun on one heel and held up both hands as if to ward off Robin's rage.

"This is SO not my fault," Wally West proclaimed.

Tim glared, because it wasn't often he had carte blanche to glare at Wally West like that. Sooner or later, though, he was going to have to find out just what had happened to make Wally and Dick so edgy.

"It's NOT," Wally insisted. "I told him Kadabra--look, he wanted to go in first, I--"

"Where IS Nightwing?" Tim interrupted, doing a subtle scan of the roof beneath his Star-Lite lenses.

"I'm right HERE, you dipwad."

Wally slunk aside, shrugging apologetically. Tim glanced down to see a small figure standing on the cooler box.

"Nightwing?" he asked tentatively.

"Yeah," the small figure said crossly. "You got it. I'm a puppet."

"You're...fuzzy," Tim said doubtfully, reaching out to touch the pale, felt, nose. It gave slightly under his finger but he couldn't feel the texture through his gauntlet.

"Yeah, thanks, I figured that one out on my own," Nightwing said impatiently.

"Dude," Tim finally said, his stern masking slipping despite Wally's nervous presence. "How did this happen?"

"Ask HIM," Nightwing said, pointing at Wally. Tim noticed he only had three fingers per hand but didn't think it was wise to mention it. Instead, he shifted his questioning gaze to the pacing Speedster.

"Hey!" Wally raised both hands, palms out. "This could be a lot worse, y'know," he said tentatively.

"Oh, really? Really? Tell me, Wally. HOW COULD THIS BE WORSE?" The miniature Nightwing hopped awkwardly to his feet and waved his three-fingered hands in the air.

"When Kadabra turned Barry into a puppet, he made him put on a puppet show," Wally offered weakly.

Nightwing stopped waving and Tim and Wally watched in fascination as his face collapsed, his little felt face folding into a truly fearsome frown. A thought occurred to Tim and he almost didn't voice it but he figured Nightwing wasn't really in a position to hurt him now.

"Do you need someone to put their hand...you know...to y'know, go somewhere?" Tim asked only half-jokingly.

Nightwing yelped. "No," he said, trying to cross his arms across his chest and finding them lacking in elbows. "I can walk just fine."

"Just...not very far," Wally said. "Or very fast."

Nightwing turned his face away.

"So, back to the original question," Tim said, glancing at Wally. "How did this happen?"

"Kadabra was turning the population of Keystone into puppets," Wally said, daring a glance at Nightwing. "I was trying to figure out where he was and how he was getting so many people at once, so I called in the master detective."

"And then went off to stop tornado."

"Hey, you said you were going to be fine!"

"Kadabra was channeling his wand's power through television satellite," Nightwing started, ignoring Wally.

"And Dick managed to reverse the feed--"

"And the rocket scientist here got in the way--"

"So instead of just yelling, 'Move', puppet-boy here--"

"Saved your sorry ass--"

"And got hit with the feedback from the other end of the wand."

"You two should get married," Tim said at the end of the recital.

"I'm sure there's a law against that," Nightwing said dryly.

"And if there wasn't before, there will be," Wally said, resting his hands on his knees as he leaned down to study his friend.

"So, tell me, because I'm confused," Tim said, scratching his head. "If you managed to put right the people of Keystone, why can't you fix yourself?"

"There...was a little explosion."

"Whole station, up in smoke," Wally added.



"Nice." Tim pondered. "Zatanna?"

"Hey, there's a good idea!" Wally perked up.

"Fine," Nightwing said with a sigh. "But whatever you do? Don't tell Batman."

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