That he can do is just look [him] up in the eye
And beg for mercy and face the bitter truth
—Lee Roy Parnell, Tony Haselden, "That's My Story"
Thanks to Kathy, Xenith, and PJ for the beta. Thanks to Debbie and PJ for help with the Outsiders and GL, this time out.
"That's My Story" written by Lee Roy Parnell and Tony Haselden. Recorded by Colin Raye on his Extremes album (Epic, 1994).
Chapter 6: Bitter Truths
Maury Chiarello checked over his interview notes one more time. He hadn't been lying earlier. Wayne was definitely not what he'd been expecting...
He'd been a young officer working in the Property Crimes unit when Batman had first appeared on the scene. While he'd never met the vigilante face to face, he hadn't missed the sharp upswing in the number of injuries inflicted on suspected perpetrators. At first, he'd assumed that some of the more volatile among his police brethren—and Gotham had had more than its fair share of those back in the day—had been a bit overeager to secure a confession and had concocted some shadowy "Batman" to cover themselves. That idea had lasted until the day Maury had found himself walking past Commissioner Loeb's office, only to see a thin cloud of vapor rising from a crack under the closed door.
Concerned, Maury had pulled the door open to find the room filled with tear gas. Loeb had been coughing as a menacing voice had snarled, "Stop trying to pin the Tolliver fiasco on Gordon. Or the next time I pay you a visit, I'll be a lot less... restrained."
By then, Maury had been struggling to breathe. Over his own wheezing, though, he'd heard the commissioner gasp, "Batman... Don't!" Then he'd ducked out of the room and run for reinforcements—but, by the time they'd arrived, the gas had mostly dissipated and the Batman was gone.
Of course, most criminals knew that there was one night of the year when it was wisest to give Crime Alley a wide berth...
The man tailing him didn’t make a sound as he touched down on the rooftop, but the only tipoff that Batman needed was the way the hairs on the back of his neck pricked up. On any other night, he would have hidden his irritation behind a long-suffering sigh, spun around, and looked to see who had the unmitigated gall to be shadowing him. Tonight though, he let the two red roses fall gently to the pavement and whirled in white-hot fury. His cape billowed behind him as he reached reflexively for a batarang.
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An Offer He Couldn't Refuse
Batman glowers. “Where is he?”
Arkham coughs. “In his cell. I trust you know the way?”
He barely bothers to nod. “Turn off the recording devices. I’ll tell you if he has anything significant to relate.” His cape swirls about him as he spins on his heel and strides briskly down the hallway.
“And he was mooning over her for weeks,” Wesker continues tearfully. “I tried and tried and tried to dissuade him, but he up and left me in pursuit of the... er... lady of his admirations.”
Batman tries not to smile, but his lips twitch fractionally. “And just how did... Mr. Scarface manage to do that?” he asks dryly.
“I’m afraid he was led astray by an evil companion,” Wesker confesses. “One who recently dealt with a colleague of yours, I believe. Does the name ‘Stringleshanks’ mean anything to you?”
Batman’s face darkens. Of course it does. He’d brought the puppet here as a special favor to Zatanna. Obviously, he hadn’t been able to advise Jeremiah—trying to explain to the asylum director that he needed to lock up a murderous criminal who had been magically transformed into a wooden puppet would not have gone well.
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The Case of Man versus Selves
By Jessie S. Galindo
My name is Dick Grayson. I was once an orphan. My parents killed before my very eyes. I used to be in the circus. My parents and I were a team of acrobats. We were called “The Flying Graysons.” It was the most fun experience of my life at that point. Everything changed when I was twelve years old. Our circus had traveled to Gotham City. It was a great night. Gotham’s elite were all watching. I was at my peak. So many death-defying stunts. But that is when it all went downhill. A mob hitman, Jocko-Boy Vanzetti, had run into the center ring and shot my parents. Anthony Zucco hired him to kill them. It was the most crushing experience I have ever had. Bruce Wayne was there and he volunteered to take me in. That was okay but it didn’t make me feel better. My parents’ killer was eventually tracked down by Batman. I then found out that Bruce Wayne was secretly Batman and he wanted to know how I felt about Vanzetti. I wished he was dead. But I chose not to kill him myself. He needed to rot in jail. That was when Batman turned him in. He then invited me to join him on his crusade against crime. I agreed and that was when I became Robin, the Boy Wonder.
Everything got pretty cool from there. Bruce Wayne, and Batman, was like the coolest older brother a preteen could have. We had many adventures fighting so many villains. The Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, Catwoman, Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and so many others. I didn’t think anything truly horrible would happen. But then we stopped getting along. Batman and I couldn’t see eye-to-eye. So I left. I decided to be my own man and become Nightwing. I got a new costume. Hung out with the Teen Titans more than being in Gotham City. I then moved to Bludhaven. I started my new life. Became a cop. Fought my own group of villains. Blockbuster, Shrike, Torque, and others. But the Secret Society of Super Villains decided to destroy my city. They dropped Chemo on my city. There was no city left. I then moved to New York City. Wasn’t the same.
I eventually decided to go back to Gotham City. Bruce has already gone through multiple replacements for Robin. Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Stephanie Brown. Jason and Stephanie died. But they both returned. Then Bruce discovered a son. His own son, Damian Wayne. Not an adopted ward or son, but his biological son. Slowly from then on, Bruce began going out of it. He fell in love with a woman he barely knew and shared all of his secrets with her. Then she used them against him and helped defeat him mentally. Her and the Black Glove. They killed him mentally. He then went with the Justice League to fight Darkseid. Darkseid killed him. I wasn’t sure what to do but Jason thought it was the best time for him to become Batman. Wasn’t the best choice. I had to take him down so that he wouldn’t further corrupt the symbol. I did defeat him and now I am Batman. Not something I actually wanted but it happened. I’ve had to go up against Two-Face, Black Mask, Penguin, and Zsasz. Just to name a few. I have to pretend like I am the original Batman. They can’t notice any differences.
But here comes the weird part of my life. And I mean the weirdest thing I have ever encountered. I followed a lead into an abandoned warehouse. It’s actually completely empty. So I figured it was probably a trap and a bunch of henchmen or ninjas are going to pop out of nowhere and try to kill me. That’s not what came out. Instead there are other versions of me. Yes you heard me correctly. There are multiple versions of myself surrounding me. From what I can see, there is one of me as Robin, one of me as Nightwing, one of me as Red Robin, one of me as a corrupt Batman, one of me as a ninja assassin, and one of me as a business man. Probably me if I took over Wayne Enterprises. I understand some of them like Robin and Nightwing. Those are simple. Red Robin is what Tim Drake goes by now. Why am I in his costume? I wonder if this has to do with the Multiverse. Could there be a version of me out there that was raised as an assassin in the League of Assassins? The corrupt Batman reminds me of when Jason was rampaging through Gotham as Batman. The business version of me is ordering the others around. He must be their leader. The corrupt Batman pulls out two guns and starts shooting at me. I quickly dodge them and throw a batarang at him. He dodges it too. Robin dives into the air at me. I grab his leg and throw him at Nightwing. Two birds with one stone… so to speak. Wasn’t fully paying attention… Red Robin struck me in the back with his staff. I hit the ground. I tumble through and get up quickly. I grab two batarangs with my bat-ropes connected and throw them around Red Robin’s legs. He tries to dodge one but gets caught by the other. He won’t fall down. I go to kick him in the head but the corrupt Batman hits me in the shoulder with one of his own batarangs. Nightwing is back up and ready to fight. He has his Escrima sticks out. Makes me wish I had something like that nowadays. He throws one straight for my head. I catch it within one inch from my face. He frowns. I smile. He swings his for my face. I block. We go head to head a bit until Red Robin knocks me onto my back with his staff. This isn’t going well.
Time to get serious. I hop back onto my feet quickly. I pull out my bat-shockers and zap Robin and Red Robin. The corrupt Batman drops his guns and gets into battle stance. Nightwing does the same. It’s on. They begin double-teaming me but it’s not that effective. Seems pretty balanced but the corrupt Batman fights dirty. I pull out a batarang and hit the boss in the cheek. Everyone seems shocked at the fact that I would attack him instead of Nightwing or Batman. Robin comes from above but I back flip into a drop kick and knock him onto his head. Batman grabs another set of guns and starts shooting wildly. He misses me but hits Nightwing in the shoulder. I sneak around him and give him three blows to the side and back. I knee him in the gut and pull his utility belt off. I kick him again. He goes rolling across the floor. I look around. Robin is getting up. Red Robin is staring at me. Nightwing brushes off his shoulder. There’s no wound.
I take another look. No gun shot wound. I look at the boss and his cut is gone too. Something strange is going on around here. Immortal assassins. I run at Red Robin. I hit him once in the chest and run towards Nightwing and trip him onto his back. I smile at Robin as he looks back and forth from me to Red Robin. BOOM! Bat-bomb on Red Robin’s chest. I turn around to see what I did and Red Robin is standing there, staring at me. Why aren’t they going down? I need to figure this out and quickly. I become ruthless and try going for knock out blows with Nightwing and Red Robin. I forgot to watch my surroundings because the ninja isn’t around. He jumps down from the ceiling and kicks me in the head. I slide towards the back doors and suddenly everything is quiet. They’re slowly moving toward me but I hear some whispering behind the doors. I get up and throw out a smoke bomb. I quickly go through the door and close it behind me so they can’t follow.
Kneeling before me in a spell circle is Brother Blood. “Brother Blood?” “Batman. You weren’t supposed to find me.” “What? Is this your scheme to kill me? Since when do you perform magic spells?” “I bit Felix Faust and Zatanna. Then I figured I’d get revenge on all the Titans one by one. You were on top of my list.” “What makes you think you would be successful, Sebastian? We both know I’m not the easiest challenge.” Brother Blood laughs. He tries to jump me and bite me but I dodge him and get him in a chokehold. He tries to bite my arm but I let go and hit him in the back of his head with my forearm. He falls down. He’s knocked out. The back door to the warehouse isn’t having attempts to be knocked down anymore. I open the door and there is nobody there. Must have been all him. Now he can’t try and hurt me anymore for a while. I turn around and he’s gone. I’ll catch him later. Better call the Titans.
"No." Dick Grayson responded, turning his head so the whine of the motor boat's engines he was riding in didn't drown out the coms vocals.
"He's dangerous." Oracle stated, nearly at a whisper.
"We all are. Besides, he's exactly what we need right now." Dick stated, as Roy Harper cut the engines as they neared their destination. The boat bobbed in the water and Dick briefly considered delaying his little jaunt, he forgot how much he liked being on the water.
"More to the point it's what you need." Oracle ribbed, much louder this time. Dick could hear her smiling over the line.
"Fine, its what I need." He couldn't keep him self from smiling either.
"Just be careful ok? There's no reason for anyone to get hurt on this one short pants." The coms buzzed off before Dick could respond.
"Short Pants." Roy giggled from behind the wheel of the boat.
"If memory serves i kicked your a** many times in those pants." Dick grinned as he pulled the micro com from his ear and placed it in Roy's gloved hand.
"You're going in silent?" Roy stood, jostling the boat for his troubles.
"They'll pick it up, you know that." Dick took a seat at the aft of the boat, his back to the dark bay surrounding them.
"Can we review for a minute here Short Pants? Sub vocal coms only, no extra gear in your gauntlets or belt, and I'm not even waiting here for a pick up when your through?" Roy pulled his dark glasses off to look Dick in the eye. "WTF?"
"Trust me." Dick Said with a smile.
Dick placed the re-breather he'd been palming in his mouth between his teeth, crossed his arms over his chest and fell back off the boat into the bay with barely even a splash to mark his entry.
"Oracle? Oracle come in." Roy placed an index finger to his ear.
"Oracle." The com buzzed.
"Were you able to get a hold of our insurance policy?"
"As I mentioned before, Im afraid the coms won't penetrate deep enough to reach Atlantis Arsenal." The com buzzed out & Roy was sure he heard content in her voice.
"sh*t." Roy grumbled. Bringing the boats engines back to life he piloted it to the other side of the bay.
As he glided through the water, deeper into darkness, Dick's memories took hold. As a kid Dick had learned that being nimble and quick in the water was even easier than in the air. His mother Mary had loved being around water and each time the circus stopped near a river, a lake, or a town big enough to have a public pool she did her best to take Dick to the water and teach him how to swim as well and share with him her love of the water.
Within just a few moments the lenses in the mask on Dick's face adjusted to the dark unlit bay bringing Dicks focus back around to expose what Dick had all ready known: the island he was swimming under was completely artificial. A combination of next gen cybernetics & hybrid alien tech from a long dead world were combined to give the bobbing mass strength & density as well as keep it a float. Built into the rock formations were access ports, energy conduit jacks and other man made structures.
At a central nexus, a caked over cyllindar with its bottom end exposed to the sea jutted out from the strange rocks. Dick swam underneath it and found a metallic ladder just a meeter up inside. As Dick climbed up three rungs, his body now out of the water, the re-breather ran out of oxygen. Dick un-parsed his lips, allowing the simple tubular device to fall down and get lost into the dark bay.
"Stage 1 complete." he sub vocalized to the mic in the collar of his suit.
"Copy That." Came both Roy & Barbara's voice.
Barbara could help feeling a twinge of pride that her subvocal Coms worked as advertised, proving Roy's earlier fears unnecessary.
Across the bay Roy Harper had secured the boat he'd been piloting and was waiting for Dick's call by trying to remember the best Burger he'd ever had. It was high time Lianne tasted a great burger he thought, he knew HE'D be sick of all the tofu and sushi Dinah served all the time and Lianne was a chip off the old block after all. Roy slid into a black leather jacket that perfectly hid the generic weapons rig he wore around his waist and pushed open the trunk of the sedan he'd been driving. Inside the storage area, where the spare tire usually resided, sat only a mid sized electronic box that was wired to the ignition at the other end of the car. Flipping some switches, causing green and yellow lights to begin to twinkle on, Roy closed the trunk lid and walked up the through the parking lot to the Camaro waiting for him there. Climbing behind the wheel he began to wonder if he could get his hands on a jett, he was sure there were incredible burgers in Texas, Kansas City, and a little place he new in Boston - a hole in the wall really....
...the sedan's engine rumbled to life down at the bottom area of the park & ride - too much throttle Roy thought - as the sedan drove through the cosmetic barrier, off the platform & into the bay - exploding in a fireball just as it's front end began to get wet.
"Stage 2 complete." Roy comm'd
"Copy that." Came Barbara
Under the island Dick accessed a control panel & opened the big pressure door with a simple 4 digit pin. As he moved through the sub levels Dick knew that only a small part of the sedan's engine compartment had exploded. The rest of the vehicle would still be very much in tact in order to complete stage three. Scheduled to happen in mere moments, although he may not experience it this deep into the compound.
Locating a data terminal Dick quickly pulled up security protocol JW9. His own hacking was interrupted by a bulletin informing all stations of an eminent threat to the island in the form of a new and unusual sonar contact within 10 meters of the island's shore. The bulletin also read that the sonar blip had apparently come from know where.
Although he couldn't hear it announced Dick knew that the island residents would be scrambling high above him & Barbara had just announced Stage 3 as complete over the comm signal he was no longer receiving. With just a few more key strokes he'd achieved the next stage.
"Yeah, I'll bet you do." Dick stated to no one.
Pulling out a disk he placed it into the data terminal drive and collected the digital remains of one Joseph Wilson, sure in his earlier decision that his old friend Jericho was just the right undercover agent for a new particular mission.
Bridget: Hello… Is Dick Grayson there?
Batman: You reached him. Can I help you?
Bridget: Dick? Hi… it's me. Bridget Clancy.
Batman: Bridget? Wow. I haven't heard from you in a while. I didn't recognize the number. It's great to hear from you.
Bridget: Yeah… I meant to call ye. I didn't mean for it to be this long…
Batman: No need to apologize. How've you been?
Bridget: Well… I've been. Well…
Batman: Is something wrong?
Bridget: No. Well, yes… Maybe… I don't know.
Batman: Bridget Clancy, tell me what's wrong.
Bridget: It's colleague of mine. They found him yesterday. They said he'd… uh… he killed himself.
Bridget: You know, this was stupid. I'm sorry to have bothered you.
Batman: No, stop. Don't hang up. It's not stupid. Not stupid at all. I'm here. Did you want to talk about it?
Bridget: Aye. I do.
Batman: So… who was it?
Bridget: His name was Steven. Steven Keller. He was a doctor at the hospital.
Batman: Did you work with him?
Bridget:Aye, he worked in the same hospital with me. Different departments, though.
Batman: Were you close?
Bridget: In a way. He helped me when I was starting out. He showed me around the place, always introduced me to people I could get advice from, he was always there for me when I needed help… he had a family, too. Two kids.
Batman: I'm so sorry to hear that. What about you? Are you all right?
Bridget: Yeah… I mean, I'm fine.
Batman: Is there anything I can do?
Bridget: I don't know. Maybe.
Batman: What can I do?
Bridget: Are you—Are you still a police officer?
Batman: Well… no. I'm working for the family business for now.
Bridget: Really? Oh.
Batman: I mean, I may know some people if there's any trouble… why? What did you need?
Bridget: They said he killed himself.
Batman: You said that. You don't think he killed himself?
Bridget: I don't know. They think it was suicide but it just doesn't make sense.
Batman: Why not? What are you thinking?
Bridget: I don't know… his family said he was distancing himself, he was always frustrated... stressed. It's possible.
Batman: You think it doesn't make sense.
Bridget: First of all, he was religious. Not just raised religious, he actually believed it. In his religion, people who kill themselves would go to hell. As bad as things could have been, I just don't see him getting that desperate.
Batman: Okay, that's something. But, sometimes people change. Sometimes we can't really understand what a person is going through.
Bridget: You think I don't know that? I work with troubled people. I know the symptoms. I know when someone gets to that point. And as much as it might be in my head, it just doesn't make sense to me. Not this time. I just can't believe it.
Batman: I didn't mean to-
Bridget: No. It's not you. I know it sounds stupid, but as much as it points to suicide, I don't believe it. There's something else. I'm sure of it.
Batman: I'll tell you what. I may not be able get to New York anytime soon, but I do know some people down there that can help. They'll stop by the department, see what information that's in the case file, look around. Then, they can fill me in and I'll talk to you soon about what we find out? Okay?
Bridget: Yes. That would be perfect. Are you sure it's not a problem?
Batman: Of course, not. It's what I do.
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It was one of the things he had hated about being a cop - the paperwork. Even during his tenure as Robin, it was the task he had loathed doing. But it was important to keep a record of your actions. That had been drummed in by Bruce. Keeping an up-to-date record was of invaluable assistance further down the line. Who knew what information you would need again?
So, diligently, Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, two-finger typed his latest report. If Babs could see him now, she’d chortle and then hide behind a mug of something, eyes shining behind her glasses.
He stops for a moment, thinking of his former fiancé who was now nothing more than an ally. That had been almost another life. Now he was in New York, setting up a new base and getting to know a city he had been intimate with once, a long time ago.
Memories come to him quicker than the words he needs to type, so he lets them overwhelm him: leading the Teen Titans; graduating from Robin into his own man, no longer one of a pair, but one of many; being away from Batman and Gotham City, his childhood...and so much more.
Many of the memories were coupled with the memories of Wally, Donna, Roy, Kory, Vic, Gar, Garth, all of them and more, and he finds himself swept away on a wave of nostalgia.
But with those sweet warm memories came the bitter ones: Terra, Deathstroke; Jason Todd’s death; Trigon; a failed wedding...
And he is jolted back to the present, the reminder of the villainous people in the world lending effort to his fingers to carry on jabbing.
The phone rings. The actual telephone. He grins and reaches for the red receiver. It was a beautiful antique, one of the precious few expensive items he had in his civilian base. It was a Wayne Manor reminder, a housewarming present from Alfred. Dick understood the not-so-subtle meaning behind the gift, but he liked to tease Alfred by acting otherwise.
A small display on his monitor pops up that should have showed him the location of the call. But it was scrambled.
“Hey Tim” he says impulsively.
“Hey come on! You knew it was me?!” Tim Drake’s, the current Robin, youthful voice asks in mock outrage from the other end. “I scrambled the ID and everything!”
Dick grins to himself. That would perplex the young man more than he would let on, and he would code and decode his communications hub to find out just where he had gone wrong. What Dick didn’t tell him was that somehow, he always knew when it was Tim, just like he always knew the surprise pizza left on his table top every now and again was courtesy of a certain Scarlet Speedster.
“I’m psychic” Dick answers smoothly, leaning back in his chair, ignoring his report for the moment.
“You know what I’m thinking?” Tim asks, challenge coming in waves through the phone.
“You want to crash here under the pretence of patrol, but really you want to crash here so you can go and see The Ironettes” Dick snorts.
There is a moment of silence. “The Ironettes are playing?” Tim finally responds breathlessly.
“Ha!” Dick laughs.
“But...I didn’t see anything about a tour!” Dick’s ears perk up as he hears Tim tapping furiously, and for a moment he envies the younger man’s skill at the computer.
“It’s a top secret private gig” Dick says airily.
“What? How do you know?” Tim’s voice wails. “I’ve been waiting to see them for six months. The last time they were in Gotham I missed the gig because I was busy chasing The Riddler!”
“Well...because they might be playing at a certain small theatre that a certain someone is a patron of” Dick shrugs to himself, knowing the careless gesture is lost on Tim, but he can’t help a mischievous grin from crossing his face.
Tim splutters at the other end.
“So, what were you thinking, anyway?” Dick steamrollers on.
“Don’t change the subject!” Tim yelps. “I was going to say we should plan a road trip, but I’m changing my mind. Think you can get us in?”
“‘Us?’” Dick frowns. He didn’t like The Ironettes. They were a five member band, two females (the Ironettes) and three males. And they were loud.
“I think Conner and Bart will want to go” Tim chatters on.
“You’re kidding, right?” Dicks asks in amazement, suddenly wishing he’d kept his mouth shut as the consequences of his teasing words start to hit him slowly.
“No way, I’ll call you right back” Tim hangs up with an abruptness that leaves Dick stunned for a moment. Only when the dial tone begins to interrupt his thoughts does he replace the receiver.
“Well done Grayson, mayhem on your doorstep” he mutters preparing his fingers to type again. He begins to tap slowly, trying to find his speed again while recalling the appearance of a pair of lunatics called Night and Day, who had made it their mission to hold up every late night convenience store they crossed paths with. A scent catches his nose and he sniffs.
It smelt like...
His words are cut off by a small gust that dies out suddenly.
“Hey man. Long time. Ironettes, huh?” and with that, Wally West, The Flash, flops into the easy chair by the door. An open pizza box (very extra large) sat open, balanced precariously on his knee, atop another closed one. Looking at the table, Dick spies another closed one within his arms reach, along with a huge carton of apple juice.
“You too?” Dick asks in disbelief, sinking low into his chair.
“Tim called Bart. I was around., overheard a little bit, changed clothes, got some food, raced over, you know, the usual” Wally shrugs, chomping at the piece in his hand.
“That was like,” Dick glances at the clock on the monitor, “less than five minutes ago”
“I know, huh? I would have been here sooner but I had to pick my toppings” Wally says, blue eyes wide with disbelief. “You know, do I want the pepperoni or will it over-grease the pizza. And peppers. Love ‘em but do I want that warm feeling inside or is it a bit too early in the day?” he rubs his belly as he carries on chewing, smile on his face, his state of relaxation permeating the room.
Which only served to make Dick more anxious.
“You want to go too? You like them?” Dick sits up straight and stares at his best friend. “You didn’t tell me!”
“Well, you know” Wally suddenly looks sheepish. “It’s no big deal. Bart gave me a couple of albums and they’ve really grown on me”
“Oh my g-” Dick starts, before the phone rings again.
‘Star City - Roy Harper - personal residence’ the display announces.
“I’m afraid to ask” Dick says automatically, holding the receiver to his ear.
“The Ironettes, huh?” Roy’s raucous voice chortles over the line. “Dude, you didn’t tell me you were that cool!. How could you keep that from me? I can’t wait!” Roy rushes on. Dick can hear Lian in the background chattering away.
“You can’t wait?” Dick asks, dread filling the pit of his stomach.
“Tonight man!” Roy whoops. “Hey, tell Wally if he’s there already, thanks for the heads up. I wouldn’t know if he hadn’t left that message with the pizza. Luckily Dinah can take Lian”
Dick slides his eyes towards Wally, who innocently munches on his last piece.
“That’s great” Dick’s says slowly.
“Isn’t it?! When was the last time we were together man?? I mean all of us! Hey listen” Roy’s voice lowers. “Gar and Vic can’t make it but they said Kory and Donna kinda like them but, I was thinking,” Roy’s voice lowers even more making Dick picture him looking around furtively. “Let’s make this a guy’s night right? You know, no ladies?”
“Uh huh” Dick says knowingly. “And which one are you in hot water with?” he snorts.
“Um” Roy says nervously. “Who am I not in hot water with?” he whispers.
“Great, just great. I’m going to be harbouring a fugitive” Dick blows some air out and his dark fringe flutters. “By the time you get here I plan to be long gone” he promises.
“Oh no dude, I don’t do the shuttle these days. I’ve got the JLA ‘porter” Roy says triumphantly, and then lowers his voice. “Just, uh, I can’t tell Dinah, you know”
Dick nods to himself. Of course he knew. There were several rules regarding the use of the JLA teleporters, one being ‘thou shalt not use the teleporter for getting to gigs’.
“Don’t worry though, I’m not coming anywhere near you. In fact, I’m gonna stop at the big toy store place. They’ve got a sale on and I want to get Lian something nice” Roy waffles on.
“That’s great” Dick says, suddenly hit by fatigue.
“I know, right? See you soon, pal!” Roy hangs up, Dick’s head still thrumming with his friend’s bluster.
“Roy?” Wally asks.
“How can you tell?” Dick asks, placing the receiver carefully back down.
“You’ve gone pale” Wally says matter-of-factly.
Dick notices Wally is already halfway through his second pizza, and still going strong. His friend had always had more than a healthy appetite, as Alfred always commented.
“Who else did you message?” Dick asks.
“Just, you know, Roy, Gar, Vic” Wally shrugs.
Dick shakes his head, wishing he had kept his mouth shut.
Dick’s eyes narrow as he feels a small shiver encompass his building.
“Wally can you f-”
“‘JLA ‘porter” Wally says knowingly, standing.
“What? Roy said he wasn’t coming here!” Dick jumps up, snatching his comm-link and attaching it to his waist, just in case. He strides out of the door, Wally close on his heels, and Dick thinks it’s a wonder that Wally isn’t racing ahead of him. He glances back to see him carefully eating his way around a piece of pizza while making his way down the stairs behind Dick. Wally was always careful when it came to food.
“Hey Dick!” Tim’s cheerful voice comes from the foyer as he dumps a duffel bag onto the floor. Dick takes the last step and they have a brotherly hug before Dick stares over his shoulder. “So much for calling me back, huh?”
Bart and Conner, otherwise known as Kid Flash and Superboy, stood grinning behind Tim.
“Hey man, way cool to sort us out!” Conner grins, shaking his hand. Dick winces at the unconscious display of super strength, before Bart jumps in to shake his hand rapidly.
“I’ve not-” Dick begins.
But the greetings are already going around him and Dick sighs. What had he gotten himself into?
Conner’s voice from above catches his attention. “Pizza? Cool!”
Dick folds the t-shirt neatly and adds it to the stack of clothes in the clean laundry basket. It was a steadily growing pile. Luckily, in the utility room, he couldn’t really hear the others, but for all intents and purposes, they had taken over his home. He could hear the muffle of the television and the beep of the microwave as food was made ready. He was glad Alfred wasn’t around to witness any of this. He would hurry Dick away from the laundry while still managing to make sure everyone was served with more than enough food. The best host ever. Yeah, sometimes he could make a normal guy feel so inadequate.
The comm-link in his pocket buzzes and reluctantly Dick pulls it from his pocket. According to the others, no one else had been invited on the little jaunt, but that didn’t make answering the phone any easier. He had routed everything through to his ‘link, to prevent mischief from the others.
“Alfred!” Dick says, half relieved. “I was just thinking about you!”
“And may I enquire to what ends, Master Richard?” Alfred’s high brow English accent comes over the phone and though he is hundreds of miles away, Dick suddenly feels like he is home.
“I’m doing the laundry” Dick says, clutching the link between shoulder and chin, wishing he’d through to bring his hands-free with him. Loudspeaker was so echoey. A light bulb goes off in his head and he rummages through the cupboard in front of him.
“Ah yes, you do favour the summer fresh scent. I keep a store here for your visits” Alfred says, and Dick can hear the smile. He finds the emergency hands-free he kept in the cupboard and sets about plugging it in.
“How’s Gotham?” Dick asks, preparing the ear piece.
“The usual, I‘m afraid. Harley Quinn is runing around with a big hammer and The Penguin is still insistent he is not a criminal” Alfred says, as if reading a report. “All more than enough to keep Gotham’s prime protector busy” he adds.
“I bet. I’m surprised he let Tim come over” Dick grins, resuming folding his clothes.
“Well, as to that” Alfred clears his throat and to Dick’s surprise lowers his voice, much like Roy had done. “I’m afraid that is not strictly true, and so I am ringing with a message of the utmost importance”
“Bruce is calling him back?” Dick asks, aghast.
“If only it were that simple. No, Master Timothy is not responding to my calls, and Miss Brown is querying the whereabouts of the keys to the Red Bird”
“Are you kidding?” Dicks stops and puts his hands on the counter top in front of him, leaning, until his feet rise off the floor.
“No” Alfred says, simply and Dick shakes his head.
“Alright, I’ll get him to call Steph, ok?” Dicks says rolling his eyes to himself. “He’s just taken with the gig”
“Gig? I presumed the field trip he was going on is a short stop from you?” Alfred says knowingly.
“It’s not that kind of gig” Dick says with a grin. “I’m talking about the Ironettes, who everybody but me seems to love”
“Ah yes, more often than not I have had to lower the volume of that racket” Alfred says with distaste.
“Attaboy Alfred!” Dick laughs, raising his legs above him slowly.
“Yes” Alfred sounds a bit miffed and Dick imagines the reparations Tim will have to make for his fib. “I will relay the message to Miss Brown. Ah, Master Richard” Alfred starts, and Dick pauses. “Do be careful. Utility rooms were not designed for your current type of movement”
“I will Alfred, take care”
Alfred knew him too well. The call terminates and Dick lowers himself back to the floor, a smile on his face. Alfred had been a mainstay of his youth and he couldn’t imagine what life would have been like with just Bruce around. Alfred was father to them all, and even now kept a close eye on Dick’s activities.
Taking the handset from the counter, Dick finds the number he needs.
“Timothy Drake, paging Timothy Drake. Please make your way to the Utility Room” he says in his best imitation of Alfred’s voice. It echoes around the building, muting all television and radio for it’s duration.
He grins to himself as he disconnects.
Tim bursts in through the doorway and looks around in surprise.
“Place is tidier than when I was last here” he comments with a cheeky grin.
“I’m more settled now” Dick protests, throwing a balled up t-shirt at him.
Tim catches it and unfurls it, preparing to fold it. “You got a PA system installed then?”
“Yeah, Mr Terrific helped. I’ve got the key right here” Dick taps his ‘link. “This whole place is under my control”
“That’s a cool set up” Tim nods approvingly and unfolds the shirt again. He wasn’t a dab hand at it like Dick was.
“So, Steph’s looking for you” Dick starts carefully, watching Tim pause.
“Uh huh” Tim responds nonchalantly without looking up.
“So, you skipped out on Bruce?” Dick carries on, enjoying the discomfort he could see become more and more evident. “She was looking for the keys to the Redbird” he adds, finally getting the reaction he was looking for as Tim looks up, face flushed, ready to defend himself.
“Oh no! Did you tell her where I was? What I was doing?” Tim pales and Dick’s brows furrow in confusion. That wasn’t quite the outburst he had been expecting.
“You’ve skipped out on Bruce and left Steph with your duties and you’re worried about her finding out where you are?!”
“You don’t understand” Tim shakes his head and Dick imagines that had he been any younger he would have been hopping from foot to foot. “She loves them. She’s the one who got me into them. I mean she...she will kill me if she finds out” he finishes lamely. “If she finds out” he adds, looking at Dick with narrowed eyes.
“I haven’t spoken to her. I spoke to Alfred” Dick puts his hands up innocently.
“Ok, phew. Uh, I told her I would be out of comms range” Tim says hesitantly.
“Then how about you call Alfred and explain to him where it is” Dick suggests. Tim nods slowly. “And then you can explain to him exactly what you meant by ‘field trip’”
“She’s too young for marbles. Anyway, she likes dolls” Roy takes the box from Bart and cradles it protectively.
“Dolls” Bart makes a sour face and zooms back around the table to his pizza.
Dick rolls his eyes and turns his back on the room, holding the phone to his ear.
“Mister Grayson” Beth’s friendly voice comes back on the line. “We have six seats reserved for you, fourth row from the front, if they’re ok?” the secretary’s voice is inquisitive, not wanting to push one of the theatres most generous patrons.
“If you’re sure Beth” Dick says, trying to adopt his best playboy air, as learnt from the master. “I mean, I don’t want to get you into any trouble” he adds flirtatiously.
“Oh Mister Grayson!” she tinkles. “We have those seats set aside specially for occasions like this” she explains.
“And if they don’t get filled?”
“Oh well, you know, sometimes the staff takes them, or we put them on last minute sale” she says, put at east by his harmless voice.
“Then I’m sorry I have to deprive you of the seats. Unless...” he shakes his head as if thinking.
“Well, if you can find a seventh, you’re more than welcome to join us”
Beth giggles for a moment. “It’s not really my kind of music I’m afraid. I’m going to a recital”
“Oh” Dick does his best to sound crestfallen as he looks down at the laptop in front of him. Of course she wasn’t interested. It was amazing what you could find out about a person by checking their e-Space.
Beth giggles as Dick hears her tap a few keys. “That’s all done for you Mister Grayson. Your name is on the list, plus five”
“You’ve been a wonderful help Beth, thank you” Dick says graciously, and the giggling Beth hangs up.
Dick sighs. So they were going. He would have to send Beth some flowers or something. Best to stay in character. He wasn’t quite Bruce Wayne: playboy, but it was useful to leave clues to a character you might have to pull on at some point in the future. Planning. All planning. Thank you Bruce.
Dick re-enters the room where Roy was showing off more of his toys, and they fall silent and look at him. Conner, busy heating up some pizza with his heat vision, squints his eyes, trying to heat the pizza and catch Dick in his eye-line at the same time.
“Conner! That’s dangerous. I’d really like it if my newest home didn’t burn down” Dicks says waving in the direction of the kitchen. “I have a fully fitted kitchen!”
“I’m careful” Conner says defensively, but he does stop, lowering the piece back to the plate.
“Alright” Dick nods, “We’ve got tickets”
“Oh yeah! You always come through!” Roy whoops, standing up and pulling Dick into a bear hug. “You da man!”
“Wait, wait, wait a minute” Dick protests, holding his hand up. “I know particular ones of you didn’t want any of the girls here, and that’s fine, but we make a pact, not a word to anyone, ok?” the last thing he wanted was the many girls they knew between them having a confrontation with him.
“Brothers in arms!” Conner says enthusiastically as they all thrust their hands in together.
“Uh huh” Dick nods, a feeling of doom coming over him.
“She’s kinda hot, you know, for a red head” Roy guffaws, flicking through the programme he held. He gives Dick a sly glance, which he pretends not to see.
“No drinking. No drinking” Dick repeats, looking at his young charges. Tim nods solemnly but Conner looks appropriately scared. Bart runs a hand through his hair so fast Dick is surprised half of his scalp doesn’t go with it.
“I mean it. I don’t want to have to tell your guardians what you’ve been up to” he adds, looking at each of them beadily. This makes Bark squirm and he looks around for any sign of Wally. Conner pales significantly. Having Superman as your guardian, well, you didn’t want to upset that guy.
Tim scratches his head idly, a pose similar to Bart’s, and Dick immediately smells a rat. Tim was sensible but he was also sixteen years old, so he was still underage for some things. The worst thing was that he was sensible enough to keep things well hidden. Maybe too well hidden.
“Well what about him?” Bart asks, flicking his thumb at Roy, who was grinning like an idiot while he poured over the programme.
“You don’t think about him. You don’t look at him or copy him or anything him, ok?” Dick says in exasperation. You would have thought it would be easy to have someone not look up to Roy Harper as a shining example.
“Don’t listen to him. He still wears batpants to sleep” Roy says without looking up. Dick swats him on the head which earns him a hurt look from Roy.
“Some of us have secret ID’s” Dick whispers harshly, bending low so Roy could hear him. “We would like to keep them that way”
“I’m sorry” Roy says immediately, noting the dangerous glint in Dick’s eye. He could probably evict them all from the show, or worse, rumble it for them so the girls found out where he’d been, and that he didn’t want. No siree. Roy rubs the back of his head and turns back to the magazine.
“Alright, where were we? Oh, no smoking either” Dick says straightening up, resuming his little tirade.
All three young men nod.
“You” Dick gestures Bart closer to him. “Forget about speeding around. If I even think you’ve raced around the stage or jumped the food queue, or done anything that might have sped you up more than a normal person, you can forget about your weekend jaunts as a Teen Titan” Bart stills and nods his head slowly. Dick knew that would kill him, but it would kill him even more if he didn’t get his weekends away.
“You” he gestures Conner forward, unnecessary since he had super hearing, but part of the ritual nonetheless. “No super speed. No freezing, no heat vision, no telekenisising. And no, absolutely no x-ray vision. Understand?”
Conner, already pale, nods and holds a hand over his chest.
“You” he looks at Tim, who waits expectantly, wondering what he could be told not to do.
Dick holds his hand out. “No pirating” he says.
Tim groans and pulls a small camcorder from his pocket. “Come on Dick, this is for personal pleasure, not piracy” he pleads.
“Buy the dvd” Dick says smartly, pocketing the gadget.
“I bet he used super speed” Bart mutters as Wally appears, arms laden with food and drink, non-alcoholic, Dick is pleased to see. Dick chooses to ignore Bart and helps Wally hand the junk around. Wally’s influence on his diet was not the best.
“You know who’s supporting?” Roy suddenly asks, mouth already stuffed with chips.
“The Clayfaces” Bart says in a bored tone, sliding the programme away from Roy so he can take a look.
“Who?” Dick blinks. “You’re telling me there’s actually a band called ‘The Clayfaces’?”
“Are you sure you’re a patron of this theatre?” Wally jokes. “Everybody’s heard of The Clayfaces”
“Are they from Gotham” Dick asks, curious.
“Nah, Metropolis” Conner explains. “Story goes that they once heard Supes talking about Clayface and they thought it was the coolest thing ever” Conner rolls his eyes. “Some people are dumb”
“I like them” Bart says, thumbing to the page where it had a biography.
“You’re weird” Wally says, shaking his head.
“You’re weird!” Bart shoots back. “You didn’t even like The ‘nettes until I gave you their album!”
The background noise of the other attendees suddenly rises enough to drown out any reply Wally may have made as the lights dim.
Dick instinctively looks around, taking in the exits again and where security and medics were stationed, just in case.
Tim nudges him. “It’s just a gig, Dick. C’mon chill out” he says into his ear.
“Bad habit” Dick shrugs and takes the hot dog Tim hands him.
The strum of a guitar kicks in before the curtains rise and the pyrotechnics let out a golden burst of sparks.
"I want-to, merge with-you…"
The opening words bewilder Dick, but not the two thousand-odd people around him who leapt to their feet singing along, including his companions. Thinking of health and safety issues, Dick stands and looks around, trying not to get nudged by Tim, who was jumping around and singing with everyone else.
Dick stuffs a chip into his mouth to refrain from commenting.
“I can’t believe ‘I want to merge with you and become a pile of goo, come become with me a Clayface destiny’ is one of their lyrics” Dick says in disgust as Tim sits down.
“Oh come on, it was cool!” Conner yelps.
“Seriously? ‘My mind is overcome, a pile of mud I’ll become’?” Dick raises his eyebrows, leaning forward so they can all hear him. “Someone wrote that and gets paid for it?”
“Dude” Roy shakes his head. “Are you sure you’ve only heard them this once? You know the lyrics better than he does” Roy nudges Wally.
“I heard them on Keystone One FM. They play them all the time” Wally says defensively. “And I do too know the lyrics” he adds.
“‘Slipping down the drains, I become my true face, I’m from Gotham and I’m cooler than Two-Face’?” Dick carries on.
“He’s got a good memory” Tim says dryly to a surprised Bart.
“Why would you want to bait Two-Face like that? I’m surprised he hasn’t already gotten to them yet” Dick says, eyes wide. “You might as well call the Joker out while you’re at it”
“Oh man, that was on the last album, and it was the only track that didn’t stink” Conner says, while the others nod in agreement. “‘Jo-ker, Jo-ker, white-faced Jo-Ker. Bad jokes, bad hair, give it up, you don’t scare’”
“They were lyrics?!”
“Oh man, you’re such a killjoy. It’s just a song!” Roy flaps his hand at Dick and turns away.
“Dick, c’mon. Roy’s a big fan. Like you wouldn’t believe” Wally leans across Bart, Conner and Tim to whisper.
“Of this stuff?” Dick gestures at the stage.
“You wait ‘til the Ironettes come out. There’s no stopping him” Wally nods seriously.
“I don’t believe this” Dick mutters as the lights go down and the screaming resumes.
“This is it. You sure you don’t want earplugs?” Tim asks, holding his hand open.
“Got them in” Dick admits with a smirk in the low light.
“Cool” Tim laughs as the beat of a drum starts. “Oh cool!” his eyes light up. “They’re opening with ‘Dumpster Diving’, I love this track!” he jumps up, Dick forgotten, who is suddenly surrounded by standing, screaming people again.
What a nightmare.
“‘You toss me in, then you toss me out, you jump in and we move all about. Can’t wait to see you, can’t wait to be with you, put me in the dumpster, and dive right in!’” Roy warbles as they stroll out of the theatre.
He is joined by several other stragglers who take up the song: “‘Not seen you in forever, this is what I want, takin’ out the trash, divin’, dump-ster divin’ …’”
“I cannot believe I sat through that and not one villain came in” Dick says with a disbelieving shake of his head.
“Dick, they’re bands who love our line of work” Wally explains while Bart, Conner and Tim sing along with Roy.
“Wally, they’re bands that don’t have a clue about the danger they’re inviting” Dick says in agitation.
“You’re not kidding me. I saw you singing along, how fast you picked up those lyrics. Admit it man” Wally puts his arm around Dick’s shoulder and punches his arm.
“Alright, I was going to get Tim to loan me his copy. I’m curious” Dick admits with a grin.
“That’s my boy!” Wally whoops, and trails after the others, joining in with their singing.
As they approach his building, Dick looks around. Something wasn’t right. The singing was affecting his hearing, but he was sure he could hear...
Dick unlocks the door and ushers them in, glancing outside at the sky for a moment. He was sure he just saw something streaking by. Hoping it wasn’t a crazy villains who’d been wound up by the gig, he steps into the foyer.
“You guys, come on, I’ve got neighbours you know” Dick says, shutting and locking the door behind him.
“The walls are soundproofed” Tim points out.
“Ugh” Dick shakes his head and then turns as there is a knock on the door.
“Who’s that?” Roy asks, pushing his way forward. “They think the after party’s here?” he adds with a smirk.
“Wait a minute, I’m getting a visual up” Dick says, tapping at the small screen mounted by the side of the door for security purposes.
“Buddy, you don’t need a visual for late night revellers” Roy scoffs, and yanks open the door.
“R-” Dick begins, but it’s too late, the door is open.
Roy steps back, his mouth dropping open. “H-hey” he stammers.
“Hello Roy, hello boys” Donna Troy’s mouth curls into a smile, dark eyes glittering with intent.
“Did you enjoy the gig?” Kory, Starfire, runs a hand through her long red locks and steps forward.
“It’s amazing what they stream live on the internet” Stephanie Brown, Spoiler, ducks in, pushing her hood back, her blonde hair spilling forward as she focuses on Tim.
“Shots of the crowd, rich patrons…” Cassie Sandsmark, Wondergirl, ducks in from the other side of the door, staring at Conner and Bart.
The girls were in their civilian gear, but the look in their eyes spoke of battles.
Realising it was them he’d seen and heard just moments earlier, Dick sighs and steps away, hoping that, by the time the girls took their revenge, he’d still have a home to live in.
“Get out... NOW!!” One of the masked men calls out as he scampers towards the docks, where their boat awaits.
His allies look at him, bewildered before looking through the roof window to see a shadowy figure peering through.
“It’s him!! It’s the Bat!!” One cried out, before grabbing as many bags he could carry.
“Come on” He yells back to the younger, less wise to the underground world of armed robbery and murder, who was struggling with the heavy loads.
All of a sudden an eerie silence entered the room, the young man left behind felt the chilling air move suddenly behind him... he could sense some one was there. He froze leaning over the ammunition that they so desperately tried to steal.
“Need some help with those sir?” A tall dark figure said from behind him.
The man cautiously looked around to see where the others had gone, to realize that he was the only one left.
“Don’t worry, they haven’t left you” The shadowy figure said as he pointed over to the corner.
The man hesitantly followed the muscular arm in the direction he was pointing, to see the men slouched on the floor, not a move was made between them.
“Yyyou… you’ve killed them?” He stuttered, terrified “But the … the Bat don’t kill!!”
“No he doesn’t does he... but then again, I’m not Batman am I?”
The man watches his every move as the figure slowly comes from out of the shadows towards him, he curls up, shaking in fear as he braces himself for the end... He listens until there are no foot steps to be heard before raising his head to look into the eyes of his killer, there, towering above him was a black outline of a man, like although he was staring into the shadows, he had a mask covering only his eyes, leaving a white glare from where his pupils would be.
“Wwho… what are you?”
“You’re worst nightmare” The figure menacingly replies.
“No! st-stay back!” The man screams as he stumbles across the ground and grabs a gun, which fell from out of one of the bags. “I’ll- I’ll shoot!” He desperately warns the figure who was still standing in front of him, not hesitating at the thought that the man might shoot.
“Oh sweet…” The figure sarcastically remarks as he watches the trembling mans hands trying to take aim, before suddenly smashing it out of his weak grip in a blink of an eye.
The fallen man was then lifted up off the ground, leaving only the unknown figure holding him, staring right into his eyes.
“You know what, out of all the crooks and low lives of this city, you lot I hate the most… that and un-funny clowns!” The figure furiously says.
“Please don’t, don’t kill me, I’ll change, I’ve never done anything like this before, I wont again, I promise I won’t ple…”
The mans words were cut short as he was thrown to the floor, he struggled to get to his feet but before he could he was pushed back down, overpowered by the figure leaning over him.
“Just you make sure you don’t, coz next time I have to chase after you, your pathetic pleads for mercy won’t help you… Kapeashe?”
“Yeah you got it sir, neva again”
“Oh… and just in case we do run into each other again, don’t ever call me Batman… the names Nightwing”
The dark figure then stands up, just as a flash of lightning strikes the sky, lighting up an electric blue symbol of a bird across his dark chest before majestically swinging onto the railings and onto the roof disappearing from sight. The man slouches against the wall, relive across his face shines through as he takes a long sigh, he soon clambers to his feet and slowly walks towards the two motionless men lying on the floor, he reluctantly moves the bigger of the two onto his back, so that he could see what might have been his fate also, as he does, a slight groan is heard, as the two men begin to awake from being instantly knocked out, he quickly lifts both the men to there feet.
“What the hell was that” The largest of the three men said.
“I- I don’t know” He looks towards the roof window to where the figure made his clear exit.
Later on Nightwing takes solitude high above one of the many skyscrapers towering over Gotham city, gazing at the lights shining through the darkness and listening to the gentle whistling of the wind.
“Why did you give the kid such a hard time?” Nightwing hears a woman’s voice from behind, surprised, he stands from his crouched position to face the person talking to him.
‘Huntress’ He sighs to himself as he looks at her proudly standing behind him, the moon light shining on her beautiful face and her black, glistening hair waving in the midnight breeze.
“Checking up on me are you? Or are you just writing notes on how to be the greatest crime fighter Gotham has ever seen huh?” He folds his arms, mocking a hero pose.
“Well if that was the case, I wouldn’t be following you now would I” She sarcastically quips “You gonna answer my question then… oh great one!”
“Why shouldn’t I have?”
“Well you knocked the other two out instantly, why did you go all out to terrify the kid?”
Nightwing smiles at her comments and looks out into the night sky “The other two are criminal through and through, there was hope for them, but that kid still has a chance in life, he didn’t want to be there, probably forced into it I’d guess, I thought maybe if I scared him enough he wouldn’t get involved again”
Huntress looks at him, astounded at his response “Well there is a heart in there somewhere after all… ‘Nightie’!” She quips as she puts her hand on her hip.
“There just might be” He turns to face Huntress as he raises an eyebrow.
“Id sure love to feel its effects one of these days” The Huntress flirtatiously comments.
“Maybe… if your lucky” He replies with a similar gesture before taking hold of her waists and bringing her closer into him.
“You just have to ask nicely first” He smiles down at her.
The Huntress gazes longingly into Nightwings dark eyes and strokes the side of his face, admiring his perfect features “Am I asking nicely now?”
Nightwing smiles before kissing her passionately, His hands move down the length of her body. She responded immediately, losing herself, she leans into him and wraps her arms around his broad, muscular shoulders.
“I love it when we have these kind of conversations!” She sighs after there passionate embrace.
“Yeah… well, till next time then” He then releases Huntress and walks towards the ledge of the skyscraper.
“It’s always next time with you” she pouts
“You know me too well… ‘Hunty’” Nightwing replies before taking a firing rope from his utility belt.
“Hey… wait… you just cant…”
“Sorry gorge… one of us gotta catch the crooks, you should try it some time” He sarcastically adds as he shoots a jump rope at the next building and checking that it’s secure.
“Hey!” She shouts with a wide grin on her face.
“Next time” He calls back before jumping off the side of the building.
“Yeah… next time!” She replies as she watches him jump off the side before spotting him again swinging away from her at high speed. She watches him disappear into the night, before disappearing herself.
“The usual please Trix, going to need a strong one this morning” He says to the girl behind the counter as he entered his local cafe on the corner from his apartment, attempting to cover his dark circles from the night before.
“Well, if it’s not the man himself, your ears burning Dickie?” She flirtatiously asks him. “I was telling my friend here that you come here every morning and order the same extra strong coffee, extra shot and although we talk, I never seem to get any closer to finding out who the real Dick Grayson is bar knowing your name”
“Well, you know me better than you think Trix” He glances at her briefly before being interrupted by a new voice that he hasn’t heard before.
“So you’re a mystery man then I see, nothing special, you see them every day in my line of work Trixie”
Dick looks towards the direction from where the voice came from, to see a woman sat at one of the stools by the counter holding a mug of coffee in her long slender hands, he looks closer towards the face to which these beautiful hand are joined to see an identically beautiful woman with fiery sleek red hair glowing from the light through the cafes window, her beautiful green eyes felt although they were piercing through Dick as she looked at him.
“Oh Dick, this is my good friend Barbra, we shared a dorm together at uni, noticeably she’s done a little better for herself than me “ She says pointing towards Barbra’s black suit and briefcase.
“It’s nice to meet you Barbra” Dick gets up and walks towards Barbra and holds her small, slender hand in his .
“Yes, I know, your Bruce Wayne’s ward “
Dick looks at her in disbelief, already this girl that he has never met before, knows more than he wishes most people to know, as he tries to hide the fact that it was the millionaire Bruce Wayne who raised him.
“You are!?” Trixie asks in astonishment.
“Yes” He briefly answers, leaving no time for another question “How do you know that?” He asks, baffled.
“Let’s just say…. Richard Grayson! I can be mysterious too” She says with a smirk across her face as she gets up from her seat.
“I’ll see you soon Trixie, thanks for the drink” She goes to leave, but before she does she turns to give Dick a quick wave of her hand before walking out of the door.
“Well, that was interesting” She looks towards Dick who has already left what he owes on the table and halfway out of the door.
“Yes, I little too interesting I think…. Thanks Trix” He shouts as he walks out, leaving his change on the table but unfortunately had lost the myserious woman the moment she walked out of the door.
As he arrives at the main doors to the police Annual Ball, something which he had attended since he became Bruce’s ward, he stepped out of his car and notices the distinctive Aston whom is owned by Bruce, he also notices that sat inside is none other than Alfred, his once trusted butler and dear friend who had always cared for Dick since living at the Manor, but since leaving he has had little or no contact with his friend, bar when they once met, unaware to Bruce, when Alfred gave Dick his infamous Nightwing suit. Although ecstatic to see his friend, he maintains his composure and nods his head towards Alfred, who replies with a similar gesture.
Knowing now that Bruce is inside he has a slight turn in his stomach, as this would be the first time that he has seen Bruce since he threw his Robin suit at Batman’s beaten body that night.
He walks into the main hall, unaware of the many wives and daughters of police workers whom looked at him with desire and the many husbands and fathers glaring at him with jealousy.
He opted for the complimentary orange juice as opposed to the room temperature champagne before being warmly greeted by Commissioner Gordon.
“Ah, my friend, so glad that you could make it, it has been a while”
“Yes, about two years as I recall”
“It has really been that long, well we must have a lot to talk about”
“Yes I know” Dick smiles at Commissioner Gordon.
“Oh my daughter is around here somewhere, I told her I have to bring her out with me sometimes otherwise people will start to forget that we are not family wont they!” They both laugh.
“I’ll try and keep her entertained if I can find her Gordon” Thinking to himself, would he even really recognise her if she stood right in front of him as the last time they saw each other he was Robin and she was being held hostage by the Clock King when she was sixteen, and that was four years ago now.
“Make sure you do” Commissioner Gordon replies as he shakes Dicks hand goodbye.
Dick remembers being younger and coming to these balls with Bruce, he remembers how jealous he was of Bruce then, watching Bruce charm his way round all the women, smiling, dancing, laughing with them, yet then he also saw what the women didn’t, Dick saw the tired man left behind when they all left, the man sat in the car, exhausted with it all, wanting his own space and would snap at the littlest of things, he know realizes how he must have felt, years later as he has grown up, more and more women began to notice the once shy teenage boy who was reluctantly dragged to these sort of occasions, is now this tall, handsome young man and now that Bruce is no longer available, after finally admitting his love for Salina Kyle, they became engaged although Bruce wont set a date yet, they have found a newer model to get their hands on.
He looks around the hall, assessing every escape route, although he was on one of his missions, but knowing that he could not swing himself out of the top window and run out on the roof and away like he would do as Nightwing, he knows that he has to face what is coming to him, a night of parse the parcel, him being the present.
After a round of dancing he manages to break free as a tray of appetisers comes around by him and the women are distracted by the mushroom vulvae’s, he slowly slides down one of the halls which he has had his eye on for quite some time and was just waiting for the right opportunity to get down there.
He slouches against the hall wall once he was inside and in the comfort of the shadows he takes a deep breath and stares towards the ball room checking that they haven’t seen which way he went, when he feels a tap on his back.
“So where is that dance I was promised then?”
He flinches, thinking that one of the women spotted him making his escape and followed him, he slowly turns around to see, a tall beautiful woman in a slim black dress, he is drawn towards those large green eyes.
“Barbra” He says in dismay “What are you doing here?”
“I saw you sneak off, thought I might now be in with a chance for a dance, after all, I was promised?”
“You were?” a bemused look swam across his face
“Yes, I was told by my father that I was to be… ‘entertained’ by you?” She smiles at him flirtatiously.
“Your father… Commissioner Gordon is ‘your’ father?!”
“Yes that so hard to believe, I know I haven’t got his moustache, but I think I have a few of his genes”
“Sorry I just didn’t know that you are Barbra Gordon”
“Well I am, okay, now where’s that dance!”
Dick and Barbra danced and talked for the entire night, Dick was already feeling comfortable in her company, more than he has with any one else, in the few hours he has known Barbra, he had already told her so much and wanting to tell he so much more,
Dick takes hold of her hands and rests it on his, she looks up towards Dick and peers into his caring eyes, she looks at the way his hair has fallen through the dancing and admires his reassuring smile as she gets a gilt in her stomach, the sort that you get when your first ever crush talks to you, desperately wanting to kiss him, she slowly leans towards him and closes her eyes as Dick tenderly rest his hand on the side of her face to bring her closer to him, but knowing that she cannot have these feelings for him, not yet, not this early in their friendship, although she feels she has known him for years, she removes his hand from around her, breaking the closeness that they until then felt.
“Barbra, what’s wrong?”
“Im sorry Dick, but, there are parts of my life that you would never understand.”
“You’d be surprised.” He smiled at her reassuringly.
“I think this conversastion would be better suited another time, would you like to go for coffee, together this time?”
Dick laughed at her attempt to joke to lighten the situation. “Of course I would.” If anything he wanted to meet again so that he could find out more about her, there was definitely something that intrigued him about her, but he couldn’t oinpoint what that was, something familiar.
“Ah, there she is, I see you found her and you seem to be getting on rather well if I may” Commissioner Gordon breaks his train of thought.
“She’s a fine woman Commissioner, you should be proud of her”
“Oh I am, I am” Barbra hugs her father, who puts his arm round her.
“Well, it was nice to see you again sir, Barbra… it was… nice to meet you.”
“And you Dick” As they shake hands, although they both wish it was a bit less of a formal goodbye.
Well no sign of the Big Bad Bat tonight. He thinks to himself as he is nearing the exit, but no sooner had that thought gone through his mind, he could hear the deep voice which he hoped that he would not have to hear.
Dick stops in his tracks, he hated being called Richard yet wanting to just carry on and pretend that he did not hear that thunderous voice call his name, he knows that he cannot, he turns around to look at the man he did not want to see.
“Bruce” He replies, with little emotion.
“You’re back in Gotham I hear”
“Good news does travel fast”
But before Bruce could respond, Dick was already walking out of the door, yet he cold feel the cold, hard glare on his back as he was walking down the stairs, knowing he was being watched by Bruce, he did not turn back around.
As he swings through Gotham, he can think only of Barbra, of what could have been, until he reaches his destination, Gotham Docks, the place he can really feel at home and be alone to think. He sits high above, well out of site, assessing the area, nothing; he waits patiently there for many hours on the chance that something will happen, which is usually the case. Then, he hears a car near the front of the docks, he moves un-heard towards where the car has quietly pulled up, he watches as three men come from out of the car, another car pulls up and then another and three more men come from each of them. Nightwing’s adrenalin is pumping, thinking that this could be something big, he rarely sees men with so much of a reputation in the underworld of Gotham come to the docks and in such mass, he waits, trying to lip read what is being said as he cannot get closer without being spotted. Nightwing is in deep concentration, he is not as good as the Great Dark Night is at lip reading, but has a good idea of what is being said, but is drawn from what he is doing, as he could hear light footsteps coming from behind him, he quickly stands up and looks around, not seeing any thing he walks towards where the footsteps were coming from, keeping a watchful eye of everything that moved, stopping in his tracks, he clenches his fists as he could hear the foot steps now coming from behind him, he waits until he knows that who ever is following is right behind him, he then quickly swings around, ready to come into combat with the unknown figure, but is almost instantly grabbed by the arm and slammed to the floor, shocked by the force he was thrown to the ground by, he stumbles to get back to his feet, but quickly regaining his composure, he looks towards the figure lurking in the shadows.
“Was that really necessary!” He shouts towards the shadows
“You need to practice on your stealth skills” The thundering voice echoed towards him, which Nightwing knows all too well.
“What’s it to you?” He sharply replies.
“Nothing, but it’s a matter of life and death to you”
“Thanks for your concern” Nightwing sarcastically mutters to himself.
“And your reaction time needs to be quicker, if I had a gun you would be...”
“Hey if I wanted training, I would go to Yung okay… I don’t need you’re help any more!!” Nightwings aggression grows inside him, he hates to be told what he can and can’t do by any one, let alone him.
“What are doing here anyway, taken care of all the villains in Bludahaven have you?”
“I seem to of done a better job there than you have here… but that’s not why I’m here… and any way, I can come back whenever I want, this is not your city Bats, and it’s not your concern what I do!” Nightwing turns round to look at Batman, but looks into the dark obis instead.
‘Yeah probably better that you do go’ He utters to himself before resuming his position on the men.
‘Gunrunners’ He thinks to himself as the men shake hands and leave to get in the cars, but he is again interrupted by he sound of footsteps, heavier this time, right behind him.
“I told you, I don’t need your…” As he turns round, Nightwing is hit with considerable force across his face and falls to the floor, he tries to get up, but is again knocked to the ground, he stumbles onto his feet but they buckle underneath him, he looks up and tries to focus on the figure in front of him, but every thing is disorientated, and a feeling of nausea overwhelms him.
“B…atman…?!” He weakly manages to whisper as the figure again walks towards him, he knows Batman is still angry but this is taking it to the extreme, he takes one last blast across the face which instantly knocks him, unconscious...
RING, RING, RING, RING
“Hello, Wayne Manor”
“Hello, it’s Barbra Gordon, is Mr. Wayne around please?”
“Certainly Ms Gordon, I will get him for you now” Alfred replies before putting the phone down and entering the Bat cave.
“Sir, pardon me interrupting your training but Ms Gordon is on the phone for you, seems rather eager to speak to you”
“Thank you Alfred” He replies as he wipes the beads of sweat from his forehead, Alfred nods his head in notification and returns upstairs.
“What’s wrong? Is your father alright?”
“Yes, yes, he’s fine, it’s Dick, well I haven’t seen him for days now, and we were meant to meet up the day after the police ball, well I was waiting and he didn’t show, I was just wondering if you had seen him?”
“No Barbra I haven’t, the last time I saw him was that night also, I don’t have that much contact with him any more since he moved away. Look I will try to get in contact with him and let you know as soon as I know any thing, I’m sure there’s nothing to be worried about okay Barbra”
“Thank you Bruce”
After putting the phone down to Barbra, Bruce sits down at the chair, it’s true, the last time he did see Dick was the night of the Police ball, but not there, the last time he saw him was by the docks as Nightwing, maybe, something happened to him down there, Batman noticed the cars pulled up by the docks and thought it to be smugglers and knew that Nightwing could handle them, but what if there was something more to it, what if the people heard the pair quarrelling and went to investigate and found only Nightwing there. The thoughts ran round and round in his head, although they are not on speaking terms no more, Dick is still family and Bruce cares a great deal about him, he would hate to think any thing would have happened to him, he could never live with himself.
“Is something wrong sir?” Alfred could see Bruce’s concern.
“Yes I think there might be… Alfred, will you get the bat suit ready, I need to find some thing out, I think I know the reason that brought Nightwing back here”
“Uhhhnnn…” He groans as he tries lifting himself off the floor onto his knees. Nightwing finds himself in unfamiliar surroundings, he tries focusing, but is disorientated and his vision is vague. He looks down, assessing his body, he decides it’s safe to stand, but as he tries to move, his arms are restricted, he turns to look at them…
“Shackled, terrific” He sighs to himself, he looks towards where his utility belt should be, and was amazed to see that it was still there.
“Hey, there not so bad after all” With that he manages to gain access to his belt and finds his skeleton key.
“Never leave home without one” He adds as he un-locks the shackles.
“Amateurs” With a grin on his face he throws the cuffs to the ground.
He looks around at what now is a far more clear room, to try and find his escape route.
“Now all they need to do is leave a neon exit sign and they’ll be the worst villains in history… Uhhhnnn… and some pain killers” He adds as he holds his fore head.
He is stopped by the sound of quick pacing footsteps becoming louder as they reach the door, he instantaneously hides behind a wall of crates as the men out side access the room he is being held in, he waits until he works out how many there are and there location in the room.
“Hey, he’s not here… quick, inform the commander the prisoner has… urg!” He is unable to finish his sentence as Nightwing throws one of the crates he was hiding behind at a guard with pin point accuracy.
The other guards look in shock before finally opening fire.
“Catch!!” Nightwing calls as he throws another crate which hits the second guard, rearing him unconscious.
The third guard looks as the second guard falls to the floor, he stumbles, fearing what the prisoner will do next, but then manically begins to open fire again at Nightwing who is now no where to be seen, the guard stops firing, not seeing any movement, he moves towards the wall of now hollow crates, he goes towards the still figure lying on the floor, but as he does, Nightwing quickly jumps up and smashes the guard to the ground.
“Great… and this was a new suit” He groans, holding onto his bloodied arm, which had been clipped by one of the many bullets fired around him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get the door” He quip’s as he mocks a salute to the three guards who are lying on the floor and makes his exit through the doors.
He looks down the long, gloomy corridor; he lurks in every shadow he can find, in case any other guards decide to check on him. He begins to make his way down the corridor, with caution as he is unsure of what is waiting at the end, but is then disturbed by the loud ringing of warning signals, warning the other guards that the prisoner has escaped, he now has no choice but to run into the unknown, he is quickly disorientated by the flashing of the red warning lights which are situated along the corridor, he tries to focus on the floor before spotting four guards running down the corridor towards him.
“Great, thanks a lot” He gets into his defensive position and waits until the guards are close enough for him to take action.
“Come on guys, you’re almost there, just a little bit more” He looks up towards the ceiling and notices a gas pipe which he can use to lift himself into the air.
As soon as they reach Nightwings desired spot, he launched himself at the pipe and swings onto it, executing four somersaults in midair, a carry-over from his days in the circus, knocking two of the guards out instantly. Landing in a tight tuck, Nightwing rolled, coming up smoothly with three Batarangs and throwing them with force knocking both the guns out of the guard’s hands; he dives again towards the two remaining guards and kicks them both to the floor.
“It’s true what they say these days… you can never find good help” He replies to the four unconscious victims on the floor as he brushes any remaining dust off his suit.
“Oh now, I don’t think that is entirely true” A voice from behind him responds, he turns around but before he could do any thing he his struck in the back of the head with a rifle butt, already dazed from the beating before, he falls to his knees before being kicked down by the man behind him, whom was one of the three which he had attacked first off. He groans, unable to move.
“Take him to the Commander” He could faintly hear the guard say before losing consciousness again.
The guards dragged the bound and barely conscious Nightwing towards the Commander. Nightwing had to be held up in order to remain on his feet. He could just make out the oversized man walking towards him.
“G-ood to see you again Bane… I’d r-recognise that smell any w-where” He weakly laughs.
“You think it’s good for you, well it must be marvellous for me then no?” He replies in his strong German accent before viciously punching him, once in the jaw and several times in the abdomen, his heavily reinforced gloves adding power to each punch.
Gathering the last vestige of strength, Nightwing rallied back, managing to use the two guards who were propping him up as leverage to vault him into the air, he manages to kick the large man in the face, he felt the sickeningly satisfying ~crunch~ of bones breaking.
“Ahhhh!” The man cries as he arches over in pain and takes holds of his face.
The two soldiers immediately turn on Nightwing, pummelling him mercilessly.
“Let him go!” He roared. He was breathing heavily, his face set in a pain-filled snarl. Wiping the blood from his face with his arm, Bane grinned in grim anticipation.
The guards released Nightwing who immediately fell to his knees. One grabbed a handful of Nightwings hair and used it to hold his head up, Nightwing reluctantly looks up, at the man towering above him.
“Well, that wasn’t a very nice way to greet an old friend now was it” He looks down at Nightwing, aware of how enraged he was that he was unable to do anything.
Bane leans down to Nightwing level so that they were face to face and smirks at him.
“I have been waiting for this day for a while now, but not as long as I would have been if you did your job properly kid!” He laughs, Nightwing tries to break free from the guards but is unable, not because the soldiers were stronger than him but he could feel his ribs grazing against each other causing searing pain, Bane continues to look at him straight in the eyes, not flinching a bit as he watches Nightwing trying to fight back, struggling to get to him, enjoying every moment before he again punches him and watches Nightwing buckle over in pain before he grabs him by the neck and smashes him against the wall so he was pinned.
“What right do you think you have, to interfere with my business?”
“I… make it my… right” Nightwing manages to gasp out as Bane tightens his grip around his neck
He smirks at Nightwing and drops him to the floor; the guards then take hold of him again, before Bane rears back and kicks him in the face and watches Nightwing fall backwards from the force. All three men then immediately set on him, planting several malicious kicks on the helplessly bound Nightwing, he losses track of where the blows were landing--ribs, kidneys, temple- before losing consciousness.
When Batman reaches the docks, he immediately sets to work, thoroughly assessing all the area, not leaving a corner unchecked, he finds nothing for hours, but he still carries on, hoping that there is something to be found… but nothing, he sighs in disappointment, he returns to where he last saw Nightwing, high above the docks, he looks over to where Nightwing was watching the gunrunners organizing there next shipment, putting himself in his position.
“What happened Nightwing” He sighs to himself.
Then, from behind him he hears a rustle of feet, he quickly turns around and spots a man, lurking, terrified in the shadows, when the man sees that Batman has spotted him, he flees in terror, Batman immediately sets on him and it wasn’t long until the chase was over.
“AHHH! Please don’t hurt me, I work here, that’s all”
“Why were you watching me!” Batman thunders, with an expression which strikes fear into even the worst villains across his face.
“I- I- I just wanted to see what you were doing here, it’s very rare we see you down here”
“But you have seen some one else?”
“Yes, Similar to you, no cape and no ears, hangs around here a lot”
“When did you see him last”
“I- I- I, can’t remember”
“Tell me!” He shouts as he slams the man against the wall.
“I… I don’t know, a couple of nights ago, he was with a large man”
“No, bigger than you, much bigger”
“Did he look like this?” Showing a photo of who Batman thought he was trying to describe.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s the guy, big fella, you know him?”
“Know of him” Batman murmurs to himself, dropping the man to the floor.
The man picks himself off the ground, but before he could see which direction the Batman left, he had already gone.
"Uhhhnnn..." Nightwing moaned. He swallowed, his eyes fluttering as he struggled to wake up.
“He’s coming round sir” Nightwing could vaguely make out the echoing voices.
“Good, bring him to me”
Nightwing cries out in pain as the two guards grab hold of him, he could feel the extent of his injuries as he was being dragged across the floor towards Bane, he tries to shut out the pain, but it is unbearable, although trying not to, beads of tears roll down his face.
Bane smirks at the beaten and bloodied Nightwing with pleasure “Have you had enough yet?”
Nightwing, too weak and in too much pain is unable to respond.
“I’ll take that as a no then” He grabs holds of Nightwings already torn costume and slams him against the wall with great force, Nightwing lands as a heap by Banes feet.
“Yes, fall to my feet, as you see, Bat wanna be… The Great Dark night himself will be unable to stop me, let alone one of his messengers, and I’m going to make you realize this… I will use you as an example to all those who thinks they can stop me, they will then see that they too will end with a similar fate to your own”
Nightwing looks up at Bane in disbelief, unable to utter a word, weak and helpless; knowing full well he is now powerless to him. He lowers his head to the floor and curls into the fetal position, clenching his arms round his stomach and chest, which helps to ease the pain.
He wishes he was home, wishes that he never set foot down the docks that night, never shouted at Batman, but where is he now? He’s alone, just like he wanted to be, to stand on his own two feet, to prove to Batman that he is worthy to be a hero, but he has failed, instead he has met his fate to Bane.
Then he thinks of Barbra… Beautiful Barbra, he wishes he could be with her now, not here, she will never realize what ever happened to Dick Grayson, she’ll probably think that he decided that she wasn’t worth it and he just took off, but no, instead Nightwing lies here, his beaten body left for some one to stumble across and be buried in a un-named grave.
“Bruce, sorry to come up here and trouble you again” Bruce could see Barbra’s distress across her face.
“No trouble, come in Barbra” Bruce’s soft voice gives her some comfort.
“Have you heard any thing from him?” She desperately asks.
“No Barbra, I’m sorry, I am trying, I will let you know as soon as I know anything” He turns around to face Barbra and is taken aback to see a tear roll down her face
“You really care about him… don’t you?”
“More than you can imagine”
Bruce looks deeply at Barbra and thinks of his next action very carefully.
Barbara follows Bruce down the many dark and winding corridors and stairwells until they reach a door at the end of one of the corridor, which leads into a large study; she looks around at the many awards Bruce has won over the years… awards for being the largest donor to the children’s hospital, awards for first place in martial arts and so on. She looks around to see where Bruce has gone and notices a small door in the far corner, she warily walks down the cold stone steps, and she can smell the dampness in the air.
“Oh my god!! I don’t believe it… it’s the… I never imagined it” She says in amazement as she looks around the Batcave “But why do you trust me with such a secret?”
“For Dick’s sake…. And besides, i’m not the only one here with a secret, am I… Batgirl”
“How did you?... You have known all this time, how?”
“I make it my business to know”
“Wait a minute… if you’re Batman then Robin must be… Dick!?”
“Was, but after he left me. He set himself up in a new city, Bludahaven as Nightwing”
Barbra is left speechless, kind loving Dick is actually one of the toughened vigilantes.
“I think that he has got himself in trouble with a man called Bane, heard of him?”
Barbra thinks for a moment, trying to picture her father’s computer that she secretly logs into at night, so that she can find out what new in the underground world.
“Yes I have heard of him… ex body builder, after he lost his title in the last world championships he resorted to a new experiment, tested out by Professor Long, who specialized in using venom from reptiles to make humans ten times stronger that what they already were. Bane was Longs first and last test subject, as his lab was inexplicably burned to the ground with him inside, but his experiment was a success for Bane, he then found a job in Bludahaven as a hit man, making big money by killing off many of the mob leaders of different gangs. But when Nightwing managed to link him with the killings, Bane was found guilty and imprisoned, but after the evidence wouldn’t stick, as many of the witnesses disappeared into the woodwork, he was released. He has lay low for quite some time, found a business in gun smuggling in Gotham I now heard”
“That’s why he must have been down the docks, organizing his latest shipment, he didn’t suspect Nightwing to be there, but when he saw that he was watching him, he grew concerned that he was on his tail, ready to again ruin his plans, but knowing that Nightwing hadn’t yet spotted him, that just put the icing on the cake, he knew that then would be his best chance to get his revenge by catching and stopping him from continuing his mission”
“So you think that Bane has got him then?”
“I don’t think… I know he has, and if his record is any thing to go by, I need to move fast”
“Don’t you mean we?”
Batman turns around to see Barbra already changed into her Bat suit and standing beside the Bat mobile”
“No… it too dangerous, I’m not risking it”
“You can’t stop me, I’ll go by myself if I have to, I need to help, for Dick’s sake, please let me Bruce”
They shortly arrive at their destination, Clark’s old factory, the place where Harvey Dent had the accident which turned him into two- face. Bruce will never forget that day when he lost his good friend and swore that he will never loose someone he cares for in this place again.
They both stared at the run down factory, which hung open like an open wound. Both hesitating to move towards the building, at the thought of what might be waiting for them when they get there.
Batman gives Batgirl the usual debriefing that he use to always give Robin before they started one of their mission and they quickly set on the rescue mission.
They manage to gain access into the factory with great ease, firing a rope into one of the broken higher level windows, once inside, they simultaneously hide in the shadows until they were certain that they were alone. Batman uses the old hand signals as he quickly runs across the old stair well down to the ground floor with Batgirl quickly behind him, they check the many rooms of the abandon factory, which have been left undisturbed for which looks like centuries except for the odd graffiti and the signs that the homeless have been using it as a shelter from stormy nights like this.
They continue there search for quite some time until they are both drawn to a door which has a dull light piercing through the bottom of the door, they both study it for quite some time before Batman opens it.
“Nightwing!” Batman felt an all-encompassing cold rage consume him. When he and Batgirl had entered the room, the first thing they saw was Nightwing, bound and gagged, slumped in the furthest corner of the room. Batgirl closed her fingers around Batman's arm with a surprisingly firm grip.
Batman whirled on her, ready to throw her off, but was stopped by her calm presence. Batgirl’s eyes held compassion for his pain. In the next instant, they hardened to the icy glint. He knew at that moment that his own eyes mirrored hers. Without another word, they parted company as they heard someone entering, both hiding in separate dark corners of the room.
“Well, well, looks to me like as if out little ‘guest’ has made him self quite at home here, don’t you think so boys” Bane laughs to the others in the room whilst looking at Nightwings battered and oblivious form.
“But we don’t want him to get too comfortable do we?”
“No sir” Reply the group.
“What’s the matter Nightwing, no sarcastic comments to fall back on?” Bane laughs deeply.
“Take him to the firing room, where we can show our ‘guest’ the many incredible machines we have managed to get into his city that he has so desperately tried to stop, and if he’s lucky we may just test them out on him!”
“No!” Barbra quietly whispers to herself, looking towards Batman who gives the hand signal to wait.
The two guards then take hold of Nightwings arms and drag him out of the door.
After the guards and Bane left the room, Batgirl turns to Batman.
“Why didn’t you stop them!!?” She shouts at him in anger.
“We need to find out exactly what Bane is up to”
“We need to act now or it will be too late”
Batgirls words echoed through Batman’s mind, he thinks back to the all too clear past, replaying that fateful night, he hears Robin’s voice echoing the same words. Batman tenses up, trying to protect himself from the painful past, but soon regains his composure, and he firmly sets his jaw and carry’s on with the task at hand.
“Not yet” Batman deep and un-emotional voice echoes through the room.
“He’s injured Batman, can’t you see!”
“Of course I can see and it hurts me as much as it hurts you, believe me!“
Batman asks himself the same question… why did he not act, why is he again waiting to see what will happen, why does he want to know so bad what Bane is up to that he is willing to risk Nightwing's life that he cares so much about. He desperately tries to find the answer he is looking for but is unable to, knowing that his decisions could result in a life saved and a life lost.
“Follow me” His deep voice soon breaks the silence, leaving Batgirl's question unanswered.
They quickly run towards the door, which Nightwing was dragged out of, Batgirl suddenly halts and stares at the blood on the floor, which has come from one of Nightwing’s many wounds, Batman turns around to see Batgirl staring at the pool of blood, although in a trance.
“Batgirl, come on!” Batman shouts, trying not to empathize with her
“And if you see here, this is the B420, can hit a target over two hundred miles away” Bane explains to Nightwing as he holds up the many guns and explosives at his face.
“But that is not what I want to show you Nightwing, oh no… what I want to show you will blow Gotham off the map… quite literately!”
Nightwing manages to focus on a large metal contraption in the middle of the room.
“Let me explain to you exactly what this will do, after all, you won’t be telling any one will you” Bane smirks.
“This is the one thing that all of Gotham will fear when I decide to set this little thing off, as it will cause a major eruption from beneath the ground surface, unable to be stopped by any man… not even you”
“But how about me?” An intimidating voice is heard as a black shadow swings from the ceiling and smacks him to the ground.
“Hugh!” Bane thunders to the ground like a hundred bricks.
“Nightwing” Batgirl quickly runs towards where Nightwing was lying.
“Dick…” She whispers, ensuring that she was un-heard.
“Shhhh, don’t try to talk, were going to get you out of here”
“Ah, if it’s not the infamous ‘Batman’! I have been expecting you” Bane quips as he lifts himself up, wiping the trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth.
“Hope you have not been waiting too long”
Bane quickly charges himself towards Batman who quickly moves out of the way, leaving Bane to demolish a wall behind him.
“You… stop!” One of the guards shouts at Batgirl before a rain of blazing automatic fire came from all sides of her.
“Oh great” She sighs to herself as she leaps out of the way and hides behind an overturned table.
“This isn’t going to hold forever!”
“You are very fast Batman, but lets see how well you are at hand to hand combat shall we… I have heard a lot about you detective, I have to say, you trained your partner rather well, he’s has been one of the better men I’ve had to kill and so I knew I had to come prepared when dealing The Batman, I have been saving this for you” Saying that Bane turns to his left arm, there, was a small dial cuffed onto his wrist and when turned, the venom which had been stored there pumped through the tube connected straight to his brain, giving him extra strength when he wishes. Batman watches amazed at what he is seeing, a man, doubling in size right before his eyes, every vein in his body was filled so much so that they could clearly be seen, pushing right beneath the surface of his skin.
“What do you think... Batman?”
“Aaarrrggg!! I will crush you!!” In saying so he quickly leaps towards Batman, and quickly grasps hold of Batman in a tight lock, Batman tries to struggle, but as he does, Banes grip becomes tighter, like a giant python squeezing every last bit of air out of his body.
“No! Batman!” Batgirl shouts when she catches sight of Batman struggling for his life. She then quickly summersaults into the air, over the table and into the aim of the firing gun, she throws herself towards the guard, kicking the gun out of his hand before rearing him unconscious.
“Get off him!” Batgirl screams as the leaps onto Bane, but Bane takes hold of her and swings her off his back with great ease.
“You are pathetic!” Bane laughs looking at Batgirl “… all of you heroes are!”
Batgirl groans as she sits up, rubbing her head before looking up at Bane and noticing the tube filled with venom on his back.
“What would he do now if he didn’t have his venom I wonder?” She quietly says to herself.
“Ha… you see Batman, I said you couldn’t beat me, and know I will kill you first before making Nightwing’s pleads come true”
“Don’t bet on it gruesome!” Bane could hear a voice shout from behind him.
Bane turns around too see Batgirl standing there.
“Oh and what is one like you going to do huh?” Bane laughs with Batman still tight in his grip, almost losing consciousness.
“This!” With saying that, Batgirl again quickly jumps onto Banes back and with a batarang; she manages to slice right through the tube.
“Nooooo!” Bane screams as he watches the muscle rapidly decrease around him and a pool of venom increases around him. “You cannot do this to me! I am Bane!!”
"Oh, my goodness," She said in a little-girls voice. "I done a baaa-aaad thing!" She tapped his prostrate form with her toes. He was out cold.
"Good work… thank you," Batman says as he gasps for air.
"What are friends for?" she said with a smile. "Besides, you might've killed him. I couldn't let you have that on your conscience."
Batman nodded, but he'd already forgotten about Bane. He was looking at Nightwing's unconscious, battered form. His costume was rent and bloodied.
Batman went down to his knees and gently lifted Nightwing by the shoulders.
"Uhhhnnn..." Nightwing moaned. His eyes fluttering as he struggled to wake up. "Bru--Batman?"
"Don't try to talk," Batman said quietly.
Nightwing weakly shook his head, 'no.'
"We'll have you out of here in no time."
"F-Failed" He whispered.
Batman held him a little closer. "The situation's under control, you haven’t failed"
Ashamed, Nightwing weakly turned away. “T-took me by s-surprise...t-too many...s-stupid moves on my p-part." His voice was growing fainter as he slipped back into unconsciousness. "F-Failed you...again."
"No! Nightwing, you could never fail me. Do you understand? Never!"
But Nightwing was already out. Batman felt a light touch on his arm. He flinched at the touch.
“Bane’s gone, but he managed to activate the bomb before he made his exit, we need to shut it down quickly”
Batman nods his head and gently lies Nightwing on the floor.
“How?” Batman’s stern expression glares at the control panel on the device.
“Don't worry," She rushed on. "I’ve studies something similar to this at Uni; the control panel looks pretty much the same…”
“Pretty much?” Batman asks, looking concerned.
“Yes… the self-destruct sequence is automatically set for thirty minutes. You'll need to give me twenty of those minutes. That should give me plenty of time to reset the timing on the warhead, deactivating it." She shrugged as if it were an everyday occurrence.
“We don’t have that sort of time” Looking towards Nightwing was breathing heavily.
“You don’t… but I do”
“No, I’m not leaving you here, it’s too dangerous!”
“Look, you don’t have much of a choice here do you, Nightwing’s injuries are serious and he’s too heavy for me to get him out in time and one of us has got to stay back here to deactivate the bomb, you know what I’m saying is true, please, just get him out of here.” She stares at Batman pleadingly.
Knowing that what Batgirl is saying is right, even if Nightwing did regain consciousness, he’d never make it out of the complex on his own.
Batman relentlessly stands and lifts Nightwing onto his shoulders, he turns around to look at Batgirl who had already began working on the control panel.
“Go!” Batgirl shouts at Batman as she watches him run out of the room and down the corridor.
“Now come on wonder woman, let’s see what you can do… I hope” Batgirl muttered under her breath. ________________________________________
Batman makes quick pace as he runs down the corridors, but after the fight with Bane, the strain of carrying Nightwing began to take its toll...
Batman was forced to stop and take a short breather, he paused for a moment and crouched next to one of the corridor walls, Nightwing lay next to him, who had been slipping in and out of consciousness for the last few minutes. Batman's features momentarily softened.
He thought back to the seemingly endless miles of corridor and stairwells through which he'd carried his solidly built protégé. At this point, as luck would have it, Nightwing stirred awake at that moment.
"Wha-What's going on...?" Nightwing whispered.
"Taking a breather. We're almost out."
"Y-You? N-Need a b-breather?" Eyes unfocused, Nightwing's pain-filled expression registered disbelief. "...must still be unconscious..." He mumbled.
Giving him a half-smile, Batman bent down to pick him up. "You're not as light as you once were."
"N-Never had problems p-picking me up...when I was nine."
"You didn’t weigh this much when you were nine."
"S-Sometimes...w-wish I was still nine..." Nightwing murmured, slipping back into darkness.
Batman blinked rapidly at the words. After all these years, Dick could still utter words that pierced the Bat's well-shielded heart. Firmly setting his jaw, Batman lifted Nightwing in his arms; Batman looked down at Nightwing and whispered,
"You'll always be nine in my eyes." ________________________________________
When Batman was outside the factory, He spoke quietly into his wrist COM link. Within moments, a black shadow descended towards them. Picking Nightwing up in a fireman's lift, Batman quickly hauled him onboard the Batwing. In an instant, they were safely airborne.
Batman checked the time, three minutes twenty-five seconds left before the self-destruct went off and released Armageddon.
“Come on Batgirl” He was un-patiently saying to himself, knowing that he could not stay for much longer and, to make matters worse, Nightwing's condition showed signs of deterioration. The beating they'd given him had broken several ribs and caused internal injuries. He needed medical attention.
“Barbra” He sighs as he starts up the engine, ready to take off, but is stopped by a figure running towards them. Batman smiles with relief as Batgirl quickly jumps onboard.
“I hope you weren’t going to leave without me Bats” She sarcastically quips as she climbs on board.
“Wouldn’t dream of it” His stern expression softening.
“How is he?” Barbara looked at Nightwing, who was sleeping restlessly, his breathing labored. Batman had given him a heavy sedative to make the trip back home easier.
“He needs medical attention; I’ve had Alfred call Dr Leslie for when we arrive back”
Barbra turns to sit next to Dick and takes hold of his limber hand in hers and wraps his fingers around her hand before gently kissing it.
“Uhhhnnn...” He softly groans as he stirs from his slumber.
“Hi you” Barbra softly says to him.
With Nightwing's vision still blurred, he closes his eyes tightly to try and clear them and tries focusing on the face in front of him.
“Wh-who are you?” Nightwing whispers looking at his hand that Barbra has taken hold of
“I… haven’t seen you around the cave…, wo-would have remembered if I had” Nightwing smirks weakly.
“Dick it’s me…”
“….?” Nightwing stares confused.
“It’s Barbra” She replies as she removes her mask, leaving Nightwing to see her beautiful green eyes and that wonderful smile that he longs to kiss.
Nightwing stares in disbelief. “Now… I know I must still be unconscious!” They both laugh until he grimaced in sudden pain, gritting his teeth to keep him from crying out, Barbra quickly stands up, feeling hopeless as she cannot do anything to help soothe the pain he is suffering.
“I’m sorry” Barbra panics.
“Don’t be… I haven’t had this much fun in ages” Nightwing smirked weakly, taking hold of her other hand also before losing consciousness again.
Barbra watches him, sleeping heavily for quite some time, admiring how brave he has been and wonders what he was put through, if she’ll ever know. She looks at him and remembers the first time she ever saw him… that morning in the coffee shop, she knew from then she was instantly attracted to him, although trying to hide it, but she couldn’t the night of the police ball, she had butterflies in her stomach when they were standing in the corridor and she surprised him, he turned around and looked at her with his deep brown eyes, she felt although they were the only two in the room, she knew then at that moment that there was no one else for her.
“Come on Nightwing… were both going to get through this… together, I’m going to take good care of you from now on. And when you’re better, were going to go dancing and the movies, just the two of us, … I… love you Richard Grayson” She leans over and gently kisses him on the forehead and gently rests her head on his arm.
Nightwing opens his eyes and looks down at the now sleeping Barbra and weakly whispers.
“I love you too”
Non-Contest Fan Fiction
The Way Back
Bruce took a half-step toward her before his smile fell away. “Selina,” he said quietly.
Selina turned to the other two women. “Go on ahead. I’ll catch up.” She turned back to Bruce. “We were just going to grab something to eat at Lanning’s,” she said, with a vague gesture down the hallway. “Beats spending another forty-five minutes or so in rush hour traffic trying to get downtown.”
Bruce nodded. “Don’t let me keep you, then.”
She flinched. “Alright,” she said slowly. “Fine.” She took a deep breath. “I’d like to come by later, though. I’ll bring Helena. You haven’t seen her since before the fire.”
He almost nodded again, but he caught himself in time. Read more HERE
“Get out... NOW!!” One of the masked men calls out as he scampers towards the docks, where their boat awaits.
His allies look at him, bewildered before looking through the roof window to see a shadowy figure peering through.
“It’s him!! It’s the Bat!!” One cried out, before grabbing as many bags he could carry.
“Come on” He yells back to the younger, less wise to the underground world of armed robbery and murder, who was struggling with the heavy loads.
All of a sudden...
Read more HERE
A Season For Second Chances
Warning: Arachnophobes might want to skip the first four paragaraphs.
A/N: Thanks to Kathy for the beta! Thanks to the little_details community on Livejournal for helping me find out about the Showmen's League!
References: Batman 457, New Teen Titans 55
A Season for Second Chances
It wasn't real. Batman kept repeating the phrase to himself even as he felt dozens of tiny feet and small soft bodies crawling over him, walking on his face, worming their way under his cowl, the neckline of the bat-suit, the edges of his gloves. It wasn't real. "Real" was hanging upside-down, hands bound behind his back, a badly-wrenched shoulder, at least one cracked rib, and a deep cut on his left arm. "Real" was Scarecrow gloating over capturing him so easily and boasting about spending the rest of the night "unwrapping" him.
Read more HERE
The Way Back
There's things that I can't leave alone
'Cause they won't leave me alone
What I want ain't what I need
Still I reach for the things I crave
Then try to run away
Am I afraid of being free
'Cause when I'm not chasing demons
There's demons chasing me
Bill Anderson and Jon Randall, "Demons"
Thanks to Kathy, Debbie, Juliet, and Aiyokusama for the beta!
"Demons" written by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall. Recorded by Kenny Chesney on his Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates album (BNA, 2007).
Chapter 6--Chasing Demons
Once the car stopped, Dodge waited for Vera to get out and lock the door behind her before he cautiously lifted his head. He was in a parking lot, outside a nondescript three-story box of a building. A loud roar made him duck once more, and he caught a glimpse of an airplane flying so low it seemed to be only a few feet overhead. He counted to ten slowly, and then teleported out of the car.
There were two other cars in the lot, as well as a large van. The building itself appeared to be dark and deserted.
Despite himself, he tensed and flattened himself against the side of the car as he heard another roar. This time, the plane was coming from the other direction and gaining altitude rapidly. He had to be on the mainland, and practically right next door to the airport. He smiled. At least, if he could get to a phone, he could tell the Bats where he was. The smile faded. He could, if they'd given him a number! Or a bat-signal. Or something. Well, he could still call the cops...
Read all the chapters so far HERE
A Puppet Alone
Characters/Pairings: Arnold Wesker (Ventriloquist I)
Word Count: 200
Summary: Not everyone made it out of Arkham when it caught fire…
Disclaimer: DC owns the character. I’ve resurrected him for this ficlet.
Thanks to Devin and Kathy for the beta!
A Puppet Alone
He’d been in the shower room when the alarm went off. That was why Mr. Scarface hadn’t been with him. Mr. Scarface didn’t like the shower room. So much hot steam was bad for his complexion and it usually required a trip to the arts-and-crafts room for repainting and varnish. It also wrinkled his Zoot suit. So, when the order to evacuate was given, Mr. Scarface wasn’t with him.
They’d assembled the inmates on the lawn, as far from the blaze as was possible, but the yard was small, and Wesker was close enough to the front of the crowd that, when the wind shifted, he could feel the heat of the conflagration on his face. The smoke and soot made his eyes water; he squeezed them shut.
Suddenly his blood ran cold. Mr. Scarface… was still trapped inside the burning asylum. Alone. His eyes began to tear in earnest. Wesker scanned the crowd frantically, hoping against hope that someone had taken his companion from the cell, or that the rescue team was bringing him out, even now. But there was nobody.
Wesker broke out in an icy sweat as hot tears ran down his cheeks. His master was gone.
Titan of the Future
Note: Now, we head into the “Titans East” arc of OYL Teen Titans. How will things change now that Nightwing (the one from the future) is a member of the Titans? Or will things change at all? And if they do change, will they be for the better . . . or the worse?
Disclaimer: Teen Titans belongs to DC Comics, and I make no money whatsoever from this story.
“Titan of the Future”
Chapter 3: “To Fight”
“What do you mean, you can’t bring back Kon?” Robin asked.
“I cannot,” Raven answered ruefully, not looking at Robin or Wonder Girl, but instead at the screen that depicted Robin’s efforts to re-clone his lost friend.
“You brought back Jericho!” Wonder Girl yelled almost accusingly. “Why can’t you bring back Kon?!”
“Jericho’s soul was still bound to this world,” Raven replied. “That is why I could restore his body. I cannot do the same for Conner, because his soul has already passed on from this world.”
“It’s . . . it’s not fair . . .” Robin muttered bitterly.
“Lotta things aren’t fair, man,” a familiar voice remarked, just before a blur of yellow and red took down all three Titans. Wonder Girl was able to get up and look for their attacker, who’d stopped to reveal Kid Flash . . . only blond. “Kid Flash is back.”
“You’re not Kid Flash!” Wonder Girl exclaimed. “Who are you?”
Read More HERE
The Way Back
Time is a healer but we can't see how
When you're caught in the moment
And the hurting is now
We don't want to see that maybe some things
Weren't meant to figure out
--Jo Dee Messina, "It Gets Better"
Thanks to Kathy, Debbie and Aiyokusama for the beta. Thanks to Sara for brainstorming. "It Gets Better" written by Jo Dee Messina. Recorded by Jo Dee Messina on her Delicious Surprise album (Curb, 2005).
Batman took a quick angry step toward the newcomer. "Who are you?" he demanded. "What are you doing here?"
The slightly-built boy blinked. "I... I want to help you fight crime."
Beneath the cowl, Dick rolled his eyes--although he wasn't sure whether it was in response to the stranger's reply, or to his own stupidity in asking the question. What other answer had he expected? When he spoke again, his tone was harsh. "Out of the question. What I do is way too dangerous to risk anyone else's safety."
The boy stood his ground. "You haven't had a Robin in almost a year. I could be him." There was a plaintive note in his voice.
Batman appeared to consider. "A couple of nights ago, some punk-kid got taken out by a boy half his size, or so he told the cops. Your doing?"
The blond youth's eyes crinkled at the corners as he nodded. "Uh-huh. He never even knew what hit him!"
Read More HERE
Titan of the Future
Chapter 1: “To Fly”
20 years later . . .
Two male figures stood facing each other in front of an impossibly large computer screen. One was an imposing man in a black cape and pointy-eared cowl over a dark gray body armor suit with a black bat symbol plastered over his chest. The other was a slightly smaller young man with mussed blond hair and dressed in a black suit with a stylized blue-on-black symbol on his chest and a blue-lined black cape around his shoulders.
The Batman stared at the younger man before him. “There’s something I need your help with.” He turned to the screen and brought up some images, specifically of a character named Warp.
“Warp?” the younger man, barely a man at that, asked.
“Yeah,” Batman confirmed. “He’s stolen some dimensional refraction technology from S.T.A.R. Labs. If I didn’t know better – and frankly, I don’t – I’d swear he wanted to use it to go backwards or forwards in time or other dimensions.”
“And you want me to stop him.”
Batman smiled good-naturedly. “That would be nice.”
The young man turned to leave, but Batman stopped him. “It’d ease my mind if you’d wear something to conceal your identity from Warp.”
“Warp’s fought you enough times that he knows his way around your abilities. If you disguised yourself, you might be able to surprise him, especially if you don’t use the more . . . obvious of your abilities.”
Read more HERE
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Titan of the Future
Chapter 2: “To Light”
Morning came and the Titans, including Nightwing, were eating breakfast. Kid Devil looked at Nightwing and asked, “So do you get to drive the Batmobile?”
“No,” Nightwing answered. “I fly the Batmobile.”
Robin looked at Nightwing. “The Batmobile flies?”
“Yeah,” Nightwing confirmed. “Uncle Damian came up with that. Guy might be a tad wrong in the head, but it works for him. And occasionally us.”
“So the little psycho sticks around,” Robin murmured.
“Flying Batmobile,” Ravager commented. “You must get a lot of good mileage out of that.”
“Yeah,” Nightwing answered. “Unless the mileage I’m thinking about isn’t the mileage you’re talking about.”
Ravager chuckled, as Wonder Girl scowled.
“Enjoying breakfast?” Raven asked.
“Always,” Nightwing replied. “Particularly when you do it.”
“Me?” Raven questioned.
“Yeah,” Nightwing confirmed. “You’re like my second mother.”
“Who’s your first?” Cyborg asked.
“Can’t tell you, trying not to change the future too much,” Nightwing replied.
Read more HERE
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Tea in Gotham: Prologue
The story so far:
The Secret Six, an assemblage of mercenaries (numbering five at the story’s outset: Deadshot, Catman, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll and newest member Bane), were hired by an unknown benefactor to break an offender named Catalina Flores out of the Alcatraz metahuman correctional facility, then escort her to Gotham City after locating a mysterious card only she knows the whereabouts of.
Catalina, formerly Blüdhaven vigilante The Tarantula from the Nightwing series, originally stole the card from a vicious west coast crime boss going by the name “Junior”. Junior has only recently became aware of the loss, and has sworn bloody revenge, not only on her, but on the Six mercenaries escorting her. In that interest, “he” recruits “his” own army of mercenaries and supervillains to capture the Six...
Interested in reading more? Check it out HERE
Tea in Gotham: 1 of 3
The day was going badly.
This novel thought occurred to Jervis Tetch as he was partway through his plummet into the Gotham River from the Vincefinkel Bridge in pursuit of his hat, carelessly and callously tossed from its heights by that twisted creature Ragdoll bare seconds before. That he would dive after such a beloved item was not surprising, and for that he had no regrets, but the next few seconds of his life were going to prove a bit tricky, to say nothing of the minutes following: even if he were to actually survive the fall, he couldn’t swim.
As with all things traumatic, the perception of the seconds lengthened astoundingly as the water closed in. With startling clarity, he noted the hat striking the surface some dozens of feet away, the wind whistling in a scream past his large ears, and the enormous pane of... Interested in reading more? Check it out HERE
Tea in Gotham: 2 of 3
Thirty minutes later, and The Hatter’s limousine was finally in sight, the time intervening spent traveling towards the nearest rendezvous point. Given the traffic snarls caused by the now-closed Vincefinkel Bridge, this turned out to be a half mile away. They darted across streets, weaved through alleyways, and had to stop for a few minutes in the shelter of a truck dock when The Tarantula’s symptoms set in once more. When her strength did return, it was slower than the last time, her signs clearly worsening. Head throbbing painfully, teeth noisily chattering, she noticed Tetch off to one side, making another phone call, his voice pitched low. Nothing she cared about, she decided.
“Hail, Travis!” the Hatter greeted his man as the lengthy sedan pulled up to the curb at last. “Phone please!” The Limo driver, a uniformed man... Interested in reading more? Check it out HERE
Tea in Gotham: 3 of 3
Above Gotham City, the clouds are a roiling cauldron.
In and amongst this nightmare topography, a huge figure nimbly dances. Eight-legged and agile, she places her web precisely and meticulously, weaving together the streets and blocks of the metropolis, it’s inhabitants oblivious.
But not all: the costumed ones watch with gathering frustration as their city is taken from them, helpless to take action against the phantom in the clouds. Their unhappiness is palpable, for when all is complete, when the final strand has found its place, the city and its occupants will no longer be theirs to lord over.
In her sleep, The Tarantula smiles, recognizing a plan. Interested in reading more? Check it out HERE
The Way Back: Chapter 2
How long will it last
Till it feels like my whole world's not torn in half
If [I] remember what [I was]
Remember what [I] had
It won't be that hard to get it back
Amanda Wilkinson, Steve Wilkinson and Shaye Smith, "The Art of Letting Go"
Chapter 2: Torn In Half
By Ellen Fleischer
When Jim woke up the next morning, he still wasn't sure how well the previous night had gone. True, Bruce hadn't lost his temper, tried to order him off the property, or threatened to contest the lease agreement. But to say that Bruce had been delighted by the turn of events was pushing things. Bruce disliked being manipulated, and he didn't always take kindly to the assistance of others. No, Jim reflected, this could go either way. And should Bruce opt to ignore his new tenant, Jim admitted to himself that it would be difficult for him to keep his word not to interfere.
Interested in Reading More? Check it out HERE
A scene from "Shock & Awe" to remind you what's going on in the world of Centurion:
By John Westcott
He sat across the rickety wooden table feeling empathy for animals
locked in a cage at the zoo for the yokels to feed or perhaps fish
reduced to swimming lazily back and forth in a tank while others
watched every nuance of their short lives, rather than across vast
rivers and oceans. Every eye in the place was glued to their every
movement and for Nuclear Inferno’s part, it unnerved him greatly.
Whatever Mr. Magus’ thoughts on the matter, he kept his own council
and refused to display any anxiety whatsoever.
It wasn’t long after their near disastrous encounter with the beasts
known as the Ucumar and the local armies on the island of Tierra del
Muerte Lenta that Magus and Inferno took to the jungle in hopes or
fomenting revolution among the populace that had been under the boot
heels of the rich and powerful criminals that had lived here for so
Needless to say, it wasn’t going to be an easy task.
For countless generations, the locals had been oppressed by people
from strange lands...
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Another Day's Knight
Ch.5: Bat Hunt Pt.2
The dark figure strode forward confidentally. His bright glowing eyes locked straight ahead. "I've been expecting you, Nightwing." The silohuette's mechanical voice said "welcome to my humble lair." He spread his arms in a theatrical motion "Sure, it's no Batcave, but it suits my needs." Nightwing, still on guard was jolted in surprise when he realized he recognized the voice. "That voice, it's Batman's when he uses the scrambler," he said. It had the same gravelly tone Bruce's did. Changed only by the slight distortion of manipulation. "How did you get that?" he asked.
"That's none of your concern, Nightwing. Now," the mystery man said as he stepped into the light of the window, "Do what you came here for."
As the man spoke, the window illuminated his figure. He was tall, no shorter than 2 meters and covered in armor. His suit was completely black aside from a red bat on his chest and his glowing eyes, now clearly part of a mask. None of his face showed, that which was not covered by the cowl was masked by a steel plate.
"Who are you?" Nightwing asked, subtly recording the encounter with a camera hidden in his mask.
"I'm Batman, of course." the usurper responded with a chuckle...
Interested in Reading More?
Batman Beyond Batman Legacy
The Way Back
Prologue: In the Middle of the Night
Dick Grayson didn’t know what he had missed most regarding his life as Nightwing. The wind calling to him? The night’s energy flowing through him? Maybe it was even the smell of the constant Bludhaven sewage back up. Either way he was glad to be back in black, roof walking. The demands of the Bludhaven police department’s newest recruit, Richard Grayson, have left little room for his evening pursuits of late. It was Barbara’s request to test out a few new field gadgets she had designed that gave Dick the excuse he needed to get out and kick a little ass.
Dick sat at the far end of the bar, a half empty bottle of beer in his hand. Roy came through the door, saw his friend and sat down next to him. He waved the bartender for a beer.
As long as I'd known him, Bruce has had this ring on his finger.It was not flashy. It was not...gaudy. It was just about the most tasteful thing there was to the whole Playboy persona. It just...was. Because I'd never seen him without it.
Nightwing swung a leg over the gargoyle head he had been sitting on looking out over the city and stood up. This was the tallest point in Bludhaven, the east building of Bradley Towers and gave the greatest vantage point of the entire city. He usually ended his nightly patrols here.