Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chapter Seventeen: A Fallen Knight

Part Four: On My Own?

Chapter Seventeen: A Fallen Knight

The crisp cold wind brushed past Dick's collar and ruffled it slightly. It was very quiet, save for a few birds calling and leaves gently falling in the surrounding area. There was hardly any movement. But Dick knew what was coming. The silence was interrupted by the sound of footsteps in a march, slow and direct. Dick couldn't look up. He could only look down at the ground. But he knew that all the heads were turning either in two directions. One was at the maple colored casket that was slowly making its way down the aisle and the other was at him. But he couldn't move. He couldn't look. Beside him, Alfred stood to his left and Clark to his right. Diana stood next to Clark at the end of the aisle. It was unbearable.

Dick's memory was a blur. He couldn't quite think straight. In some ways, he didn't want to. The past few days had been chaos in his mind. So many people. So many events. So many... His head hurt. The casket's head came to the front and Diana gulped down a reaction. Dick felt Clark put a hand on his left shoulder and give him a tight squeeze of a hug. But Dick was numb and while Clark had meant to be helpful, Dick really couldn't even register anything at the moment. Alfred looked down at him sadly, wishing he could say something. But... What could you say? What could you say to a teenager in this situation... again?

The casket was placed down on the raised table where flowers filled the surrounding area. Clark nodded over to Diana who walked up to the pulpit that had been erected outside for the procession.

"Friends, guests, I want on behalf of the Wayne Family to thank you all for coming today. It's a hard..." She stopped mid-sentence, something caught in her throat, "A hard time for all of us, I'm... I'm sure..."

Dick's mind was elsewhere. He couldn't pay attention to what was happening. He had to make sense of things. Because at the moment, nothing made sense. His mind drifted off to three days ago. To the night of the fire. He didn't remember everything. He had... passed out a couple times, but the others had told him what had happened. Whatever had happened, he was sure of only one thing. The past few days had been the worst days of his life. And somehow, the events were ending. Wrapping up here. But he had never in his life, never... Never, had he ever felt so entirely lost.


Catwoman kept her head down low. The heat was unbearable and she could feel her suit beginning to stick to her skin even more so then usual. It had been easy to get up to the top. But right now, where she was, it looked like a war zone. She could smell burning flesh and that was the worst part. Bruce had to be up here. There had been no sign of him coming down. Not one. She hoped that the odor of burning flesh was not his. Catwoman gagged at the smoke. She couldn't stay long. She had to find him.

It was then that she heard someone whispering through the crackles of the flames. Something incoherent, but they were talking. That meant they were alive. She quickly made her way over to the sound, but was surprised to find not Bruce, but his ward on the ground barely conscious. Catwoman looked around. There was no sign of Bruce and as much as she sometimes detested this kid, she was by no means just going to leave him here to die.

"Hey, Dick, come on, get up!" She urged as she put her hands to his face and tried to shake him to get him up, but it was then that she realized that the kid was out of it.

Grunting, Catwoman heaved Dick's limp arm over her shoulder. Standing fully upright, she then noticed something. A form, someone under a large pile of rubble that was lit ablaze.

"Bruce..." She whispered, then instincts kicked in and she yelled as she tried to move towards him, "BRUCE! BRU...!"

Catwoman screamed as a large pile of rubble from the ceiling fell in front of her, cutting her off from Bruce. The smell was horrible in here. She looked at Dick her side, then where Bruce would have been, then back at Dick, and where Bruce was again. She couldn't save them both. If she stayed to get Bruce, they could all die. She had to move quickly. Heaving Dick up over her shoulders, Catwoman made her way over to the elevator shaft and kicked open the doors which fell down several flights.

She tied her whip around Dick and herself tightly; she'd need both hands for this. Jumping down, Catwoman went into a free fall. As neared the sides of the shaft, she'd kick away lightly and so on and so forth. The ground came into sight just as Catwoman noticed burning debris falling around her, too. Quickly grabbing onto the elevator's wires, Catwoman felt the jolt and shock that took all of her strength and the heat from the friction that instantly went through to her hands. She kicked off to the side and grabbed a beam, feeling her arms almost being pulled out of their sockets. But they had stopped and Dick was safe. All of this happened within ten seconds. She had to do better than that. She fell the last two flights on her feet and heaved Dick towards the exit.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Clark yawned while Lois continued to type on the computer. A smile and bright eyes lit up her face while Clark and Jimmy were about to call it quits and leave for the night. Their eyes yearned to close.

"Ah ha!" Lois yelled, shaking Jimmy and Clark from their slumberous thoughts.

"Ah! Ah! Where's Luthor!? Where?" Jimmy yelled at no one in particular, the bags under his eyes heavy.

"What is it, Lois?" Clark asked.

"I just finished this section of the editorial. Now all I have to do is the editing," She told him happily, "We'll be out of here in no time!"

"No time?" Jimmy exclaimed, "Lois, it takes you more time to edit a paper then to write it!"

"Lois," Clark began to agree with Jimmy, put decided to put it more nicely, "Do you really need Jimmy and I for this?"

"Of course I do," Lois said smartly, "I need Jimmy to place his photos and it is partly your article, too."

Clark rubbed the back of his neck, "Lois, I just helped do the research; you wrote the whole thing."

"But Clark, you were the spelling champ of Smallville High," Lois said, batting her eyes his way.

Jimmy knew that they lost their argument when she did that. Clark was so in love with that woman, he was surprised that Lois didn't realize it. He half wondered how Clark felt about having Superman for competition, but clued into the conversation when Lois added to her response.

"Why don't you and Jimmy turn on the TV? I'm sure ESPN has something on; they always do," she said.

Clark shrugged and took her advice, grabbing a remote and clicking the on button. The news stations were always the first things on the screens in the Daily Planet's offices, but still, nothing could have prepared Clark for what he was about to see.

"...Reports that there are still several people inside including billionaire Bruce Wayne and his ward. Witnesses say that the fire erupted from a loud explosion that shook the area..." A woman with red hair reported.

Clark's eyes went wide as they enlarged the sight of Wayne Tower's top burning. Lois and Jimmy stopped what they were doing to watch as well, shocked at the reports. Clark's hand dropped to it's side, as the reporter continued.

"...The fire has been blazing for nearly fifteen minutes and still the firefighters have not been able to reach the top of tall skyscraper. The most that they have been able to do is go in to rescue the few that may be missing, but there has been little success..."

Clark finally snapped back to reality and backed away from the TV screen, while Lois and Jimmy continued to stare at the screen, hypnotized.

"... Commissioner Gordon has blocked off the area from civilians, but has yet to comment. We'll be back with more information in a moment..."

Lois looked at the ground and thought for a moment... Wayne. Wayne was Clark's... "Clark...?"

She spun around to find the area empty and the doors wide open. Her mouth barely dropped before Clark had ripped off his shirt and flew out of the Daily Planet beyond Metropolis. He was in Gotham in seconds and the burning flames were right in plain sight. Superman's heart sped up as he lowered himself to the ground and towards the firefighters.

"What do I need to know?" He yelled over to them, looking up at the building using X-Ray vision, hoping to find something.

A stunned firefighter approached him and began to explain, "It's highly unstable. If it's not put out right, the whole building could come down. Several floors are smoking now and..."

"Over there!" Someone yelled from the swarm of news reporters.

Superman turned to see a stressed Catwoman dragging someone out. He flew over as she dropped the kid to the ground and began to cough, the smoke still permeating her lungs. As he got close, he recognized Dick's limp form. This wasn't good. Clark felt his chest tighten. If this is what happened to Dick, then what...

He picked Dick up and flew him quickly over to the Commissioner, who he spotted talking to several people at once. "Get him a medic, please."

Gordon looked up at the Man of Steel and nodded replying, "Help them."

Superman nodded and looked over to see Catwoman fleeing as best she could back into the shadows. Before he did anything else, he flew over to her, but she wasn't at all pleased to see him and attempted to hit him. He easily held her wrist.

"Go!" She yelled.

"Where's Wayne?" He asked.

"Top floor, under rubble... Go!" She yelled again, her breathing labored and unnatural.

Superman let go of her and turned to go when he said looked back at her and replied, "Thank you."

She watched him with narrowed eyes as he flew up into the air when another loud blast rocketed the building and more debris fell. Across town, Raven pulled herself up from her pillow and looked at the curtains to the window and then at Starfire.

"That's... that's the second blast... Starfire...?" She looked over at Starfire who was worried herself. At the first blast, she had thought nothing of it. It was Halloween after all. But that... that sounded bad.

"Turn on the TV," Raven told her.

Starfire nodded and grabbed the remote and flipped to a news channel, when she gasped and dropped it to the floor.

"What?" Raven asked, looking at the screen a brow raised, "Isn't that, that buil..."

"Robin!" Starfire yelled.

"What?" Raven questioned again.

"Robin! He is in there! Oh... Raven, Raven, friend Robin is in there!" She screamed.

"What? What do you..."

Starfire grabbed her friend by the shoulders, "He is the ward of Bruce Wayne! He is in there!"

Raven's eyes went wide and she quickly went to get the boys. Phasing through the wall, she found the three boys each on a bed (or in Red X's case, the couch). Astounded that they weren't shaken in the slightest, she walked over and pushed Cyborg off of the bed, making a loud thump and waking the other two in the process.

"Wha! What's goin'..." Cyborg began when he saw Raven standing above him, but she didn't give him the chance to finish.

"Robin's in trouble! Get dressed as civilians, we're going hidden first," Raven told them.

"Why?" Beast Boy asked, confused and suddenly embarrassed because he was only wearing his underwear.

"Because we might not be able to get close enough as superheroes," Raven responded.

"How the heck am I supposed to do..." Red X started.

"I never said you were going!" Raven glared at him and then phased back through the wall and into the girls' room.

The three looked at each other when Cyborg asked, "Does it bother any of you that she can do that whenever she wants?"

The other two nodded and they then set to work. Well, Beast Boy and Cyborg did. Red X wasn't about to pull off his mask for Robin of all people, so he decided to just chill in the room and actually sleep. In Midtown Gotham, nothing was getting any better. Superman quickly scanned the area for signs of life using his X-Ray vision and was able to quickly rescue those that he saw. But what worried him the most was that Bruce hadn't bothered to contact him all. Probably, because he couldn't. And worse yet, the mess above was so bad that he couldn't tell what had been the top floor and what hadn't.

But even as the last signs of life dwindled, Superman wasn't about to stop searching for Bruce. Finally landing in the rubble, he began to blow a thin layer of ice to put out the flames, careful not to make things more fragile than they already were. His cape billowed in the smoke as he walked through, moving rubble where he could. Finally he found a large room that seemed to have fallen through to another. He couldn't make heads of tails of it. Yet somehow, he felt close.

"Bruce!" He called out, "Bruce!"

This was like looking for a needle in a haystack (which he had done before, but it didn't mean that he actually liked doing it). He continued his search. Outside, on the ground below, Dick's eyes flickered open and he felt a breathing mask placed over his mouth and nose.

"He's coming to!" Someone yelled.

The sounds of flames and falling debris were close by. People were yelling, shouting. His head hurt. He attempted to sit up, but was rewarded by a pain in his head and he laid back down on the pavement. What... what going on? Where was he? Where was Bru... Dick's eyes widened and he automatically sat up, despite his migraine. He looked around and saw several people around him, also with breathing masks on.

A nurse looked down at him and said, "No, you need to rest, don't..."

Dick shook his head and batted her away, slowly climbing to his feet as he looked up. The fire. He had to go back in. Dick began to walk towards the building, the nurse yelling after him. He was finally about to run back in when someone grabbed his arm.

"Oh, no, you're not going back in there," A woman said.

"Let go!" He yelled back, when he realized he was talking to Detective Ellen Yin.

"I'll pin you to the ground if I have to because you're sorely mistaken if you think I'm going to let you go into that death trap," Yin told him, "Besides, the Man of Steel is up there. He'll get Bruce out."

Dick looked up and then at Yin. Then he nodded and followed her back to the medics. Up ahead, he saw several employees, some badly burned who he supposed Clark had saved. Some were in better shape than others. Some without scratches. It was then that he spotted Ms. Kyle, using a breathing mask. Their eyes locked for a moment, but that moment barely lasted as he continued to walk towards the doctors. But he never quite got there when he heard screaming and arguing near the police cars. He stopped and looked directly at Commissioner Gordon and saw him talking quickly with the security woman.

At that moment, he wanted answers. He turned directly towards the Commissioner and walked in the opposite direction that Yin had been leading him. As he walked up, the Commissioner noticed him and stopped talking. The woman looked at him and then looked at the ground too. She then looked up at Gordon and nodded, but Dick didn't even bother watching as she left. Instead, his eyes focused on Gordon, who looked down at him.

"You doing alright kid?" He asked.

Dick couldn't move his head, but heard himself whispering, "He... he shot him..."

Gordon's eyes went wide, "Who?"

"Rav... Ravager..." Dick muttered, looking at the ground.

"Ravager?" Gordon asked, "He shot..."

Dick looked up at the Commissioner and forcefully put out the rest, "Bruce... He shot Bruce... twice."

The Commissioner looked up at the now dwindling inferno and then back down at Dick, "Superman's up there. He'll find him. We can still get him, son."

Dick nodded his head... but slowly. Somehow, he didn't think that was true. But... Superman... If anyone could find him, he could. Up above though, Superman had found nothing so far. Nothing, just rubble among smoldering flames. He blew again and the flames dwindled. He soon saw an area in which rubble filled the area as Catwoman had said. He began to pick up the pieces with ease, calling, ever calling.

"Bruce! Come on, Bruce! Help me out here!" He called.

But suddenly, he heard a loud creak and looked up where the roof above him began to tumble down towards him and he yelled. Dick whirled up from looking at the ground as a loud crunching sound came from above. The crowd gasped and for a moment, everyone held their breath. Dick watched uncertainly. They waited. And waited. And waited. Then in an instant the remaining flames seemed to vanish and something moved at the top of the wreck of the building's top. A figure emerged and the crowd cheered.

But they couldn't see the figure's face or what was in his hand as his red cape whipped his sides.

Superman flew down slowly towards the ground where Sawyer and Yin stood nearby. They were the first to see his face so... stone like. So firm. He walked past them and over towards the Commissioner and Dick, who stood with bated breath. Dick's thoughts went wild. No one was with him. He wasn't carrying anyone. Anyone. Superman put a knee down and had a hard time even looking at him. But he took Dick's hand and placed something in it and then he shook his head. The Bat Insignia. He could feel it. He didn't even have to look.

"I'm sorry. I... I couldn't... I couldn't save him," He whispered.

Gordon looked at him startled and then down at Dick. Superman swallowed hard while Gordon watched Dick's eyes go glassy with memories and unstrung thoughts. They had to get him out of here.

"Sawyer!" He called over, "Take Mr. Grayson to the station. Call Mr. Pennyworth at Wayne Manor to come and pick him up."

"Yes sir!" She said, and took Dick by the arm carefully, and yelled ahead, "Help me get him to my car!"

Several officers made a brigade from all of the newscasters who yelled things at him. He never heard any of them. He only saw Superman nod at him as he got into the car and left. The ride was seamlessly nothing to him. His mind kept going over and over again the details. The gunshots. The sound of the fabric ripping... And Bruce's contorting. He shivered. He didn't realize that the ride was over at all when they got there until the flashes of light bulbs brightened up the inside of the police cruiser. Dick looked out to see flashbulbs going off as well as people shouting at his window. They dispersed as two people came around, one of which was Sawyer.

"Get back, people!" She yelled, as she pulled Dick out of the car and kept him away from the photographer's flashing cameras.

Harvey Bullock yelled, "Don't forget that we have weapons on us!"

"Harv!" She yelled.

"I'm tellin' 'em the truth!" He yelled back as he cleared a path for Dick and her to pass through to the station.

They made their way down the hallways, people following them the whole time, until Sawyer brought Dick into the office room and angrily slammed the door shut.

"Disgusting," She muttered, "Bullock, watch after the kid for me. I need to call Gordon. And I want those reporters out of here!"

Dick didn't hear much. He heard people yelling through the glass trying to get him to look their way or to comment. But Dick couldn't move. It was like he was in a surreal world that didn't exist. Like it was all a bad dream. Right? He didn't know. It didn't stop, though. None of it did. Time kept moving by. Soon, Yin came in and Gordon, too. The scene was a mess, but with Dick here at the station, it had become more of a mad house than Wayne Tower. While in some ways that was beneficial to the medics and firefighters, it was in no way beneficial to Dick's state of mind. Gordon opened the door and looked around only to find Dick sitting on the side by the windows.

Gordon thought back to a scene that had unfolded years earlier. Another young man had sat there. His face dirty. His eyes boring a hole into the ground, haunted, replaying what he had seen over and over again. He had been wrapped up in his father's jacket that was still caked with his father's blood. But this time, the kid who was sitting here now had no jacket. But the scene kept replaying over and over again.

'Why is it that two bullets can do so much damage?' Gordon wondered.

He walked over and knelt down in front of Dick who finally looked up. Gordon had known Dick years before he had gone off to school. In fact, his daughter Barbara had even been his friend when he was just a kid.

"Hey, Dick," He said and Dick bit his lip.

"You all right?" He asked.

Dick didn't say anything. His eyes were dull. Gordon had only seen them like that once before, when he had first met him. When his parents... Gordon put his hand up to his forehead. His parents. The boy's parents were dead. This was the second time he had seen a parent, or a parental figure die. The poor kid. He sighed; how was he supposed to do this? He hoped that Alfred would get here soon. He looked back up at Dick.

"Hey, it's okay. It'll be okay," He repeated and suddenly he realized something.

He realized how much Dick really did look like Bruce. How his eyes were so pained. So lost. Dick looked back at the ground and nodded. He breathed for a couple minutes as Gordon watched him. He looked at his head and brushed his hand against his forehead and felt traces of dried blood on his face. He brought his hand down and looked at the dried blood. His face hardened. Gordon raised a brow. As Dick looked back up at him, he stood up, much to the Commissioner's surprise, with a look of determination.

"Where's Ravager?" He asked.

Gordon looked at Dick startled, "We haven't looked. We've been too busy..."

"Why!" Dick asked, "He killed him!"

Everyone in the office looked at the black haired teenager, who stood still until he said softer, but all the more firmly, "He could kill someone else..."

Gordon sighed, "We have to sort out this mess. Then we'll get right on after him. I'm sure the Batman's already on it."

Dick's eyes widened at that. The Batman... There was no more... How... No... It was completely incomprehensible to think of. Bruce was human. Batman was... human? Really? No, he never seemed to be... But he was. And this all hit him hard, like someone else had been killed, too. No more. He was gone... Suddenly Gordon's phone rang and he answered.

"Hello?" He said, "Barbara, I can't talk right now I'm..."

"What on earth is going on there!? What do they mean that Bruce Wayne is being reported dead!?" An angry voice screamed over the phone.

Dick looked up. Gordon began to talk to his daughter about the case as Dick watched him. He couldn't just sit here. He couldn't. If Batman wasn't going to solve this, that meant his partner would have. Dick had to know everything and to do that, his best chance was to follow Gordon. The flashbulbs quit making shadows for him as he followed Gordon off and further into the office halls.

When Gordon noticed him, he turned in question and Dick answered, "I'm not sitting around, Commissioner. I want to help. However I can."

Gordon sighed and looked around as though searching for a better suggestion. But then again, at least Dick wouldn't be in such a trance. He nodded and Dick nodded back. Outside, the four Titans found the GCPD easily. It wasn't too hard when every news crew seemed to be either here or at Wayne Tower. It must be a busy night for them-the reporters, that is.

They had taken measures to not draw attention to themselves. Cyborg was dressed in what were basically gym clothes and a hologram. Raven and Beast Boy dressed in similar outfits to those of their night at Zenith's, just toned down in extremity. Starfire was perhaps the least put together as she only had on a purple T-shirt, jeans, white shoes and a jacket. Totally normal in all respects save for the fact that they were four teenagers in a bad part of town in the middle of the night. Oh well, so much for not looking out of the ordinary.

After what was the twelfth try making his way through the reporters, Cyborg landed on the ground and yelled, "Why I oughta...!"

"Forget it, we can't get in without doing collateral damage," Raven said.

"But we must get in there, friend Rob... Dick is in there," She insisted.

"What do you want us to do, Star?" Cyborg asked, about ready to call it quits.

Raven looked to her side, where a wall stood unguarded. Walking over, Raven breathed in and moved her hands in a circular motion while her friends watched as she made a portal. Stepping in, Raven disappeared into the building. Once inside, she found herself being shoved to the side by the crowd. Certainly in no mood for being pushed to the ground or having her foot being stepped on, Raven pushed people out of the way and made her way to the center of the crowd.

She kept brushing up against people, finding it hard to even move. All of them, all of their frantic emotions gave her a head ache. Until she brushed up against someone else. Another hand, another type of hand, but the feelings were human all the same. It was like Starfire's emotions, but not... She turned and saw a tall man, about six-four with glasses and black hair, his countenance a mess. He looked down at her and she saw his piercing crystal blue eyes.

She was the first to speak, "Are you..."

Clark looked at her and then noticed her chakra, "Do you know Dick?"

Raven nodded, "Uh, Rachel Roth."

"Clark Kent."

"The reporter?" Raven asked.

"Among other things, come on," Clark told her, "You from around here?"

"Live in Jump, normally," Raven told him.

"Where are the others?" Clark asked, making the connection

"Outside," Raven answered.

Somehow, superheroes seemed to see right through each other – at least in times like these. The two made their way close to the glass doors. Outside, a black car drove up and Alfred stepped out along with another woman, Leslie Thompkins, only to need assistance in getting inside. Starfire recognized him and called out.

"Alfred!" She yelled, "Alfred!"

Alfred looked over and motioned for two of the officers to help the three teenagers follow in as well. They came up to the office when Alfred heard another familiar voice.

"Let me through, I'm practically the boy's uncle, let me through!" Clark barked, Raven following him closely.

"Mr. Kent, it's good to see you," Alfred called.

Clark smiled, but barely and somehow managed to meet up with the rest of the group with Raven right behind him.

"Where is he?" Clark asked.

"We're going in to see him right now," Alfred told him.

"Rave..." Raven hit Beast Boy before he could say anything stupid and he continued, "Rachel, thanks a lot for ditching us!"

"Trying to get in and pull other's in isn't exactly cake, Gar," She told him as they were all hurried into the office.

It was much quieter in the office, but still chaotic. Police officers were running from room to room while they also entered and left as soon as they could get past the reporters. It was a mad house, but they were instantly greeted by Bullock, who ran to Alfred immediately.

He panted out of breath and told him, "Finally, you're here. The kid's not taking it easy at all."

Alfred answered, "Where is he?"

He pointed over to Yin who had taken over helping out with Dick as Gordon had to talk to several other officers and Dick was willing to stay with Yin as she and Bennett had been overseeing the Wayne Industries for the past couple weeks. When Dick finally looked up and saw them, it was clear that he wasn't all right. Starfire gasped and walked over to him and Alfred and Clark were next.

"Friend, what... are you...?" Starfire began.

"I..." Dick started, surprised to see his friends like this, "I'm fine... I'm, I've been with Yin for the past two... hours..."

He seemed to be slipping in and out of his mainstream of thoughts and Alfred answered him saying, "Please, Master Dick sit down. I'm sure there's nothing to..."

Dick shook his head at Alfred and Alfred clenched his jaw. He knew what was going on. He had seen it all too well before. And he still didn't know what to say to help. He didn't even know how he was doing all of this. Perhaps it was because it had already been his role before.

"You sit down and let me help you, Dick," Leslie told him, beginning to reach for her bag in which she kept basic first aid.

"Yeah, dude, come on, sit down, you're a wreck," Cyborg started.

"I don't need to sit down!" Dick yelled.

His friends backed off, but Clark wouldn't, "Dick..."

Dick shook his head, "We've got to find Ravager, Clark. We've got to find him..."

"Dick... You can't. You know what state you're in?" Clark asked.

"I'm fine!" Dick yelled again as he turned away from them all and towards Ellen who looked at him in shock, "I'm... I'm..."

Suddenly all the stress and weight gave way and Dick felt himself losing consciousness for the second time that night. Clark moved forward and caught Dick in his arms. The kid had to go home. And it would be horrible getting home with this mess. There were people everywhere, trying to get a piece of the story. Gordon watched from the roof for a long while, coming up every so often. Around 4:30, he came up one last time to check. He looked up into the sky, where the Bat Signal illuminated the sky, had illuminated the sky for hours. Where was he? Gordon shook his head and walked over to the switch. Probably already on it. Probably. He could only hope.


"Bruce Wayne was always marked by tragedy. At a young age, his parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne, whose graves you see next to his own, were taken from him. To the public eye, the prying eye of every gossip columnist in Gotham, he was a figure to gawk at and spread untrue rumors about," Diana continued, "But to those who saw the real Bruce Wayne, knew him, we knew that he was above all of that. He was a man dedicated to serving others and providing new sources to help this city. Bruce was a hero. He was a friend and a mentor."

Princess Diana looked out at the crowd and spotted the front row again and finished, "And his life, his life had many joys too. He loved many people. And there were many who loved him... I turn the time over to Mr. Alfred Pennyworth. Thank you."

Diana stepped down and Alfred walked up to the stand now to conclude the ceremony, "Thank you, Princess Diana. On behalf of the Wayne Family, I thank you for your attendance. I wish to say for everyone, that Bruce... That Bruce would only have one thing to say. To keep up the good fight. To remember. And know that he is watching."

Alfred looked over at Dick one more time before concluding, "I know that he loved his family. He was a good man. I ask that you make form a queue to place any flowers and make your way to manor before the sky begins to rain. Thank you."

Dick's row was first. Diana went first, on behalf of the rest. Somehow, she was strong enough to do so. Clark went next and placed another flower. Dick was next. He held a white rose in his hand. He paused and looked at the casket. It was so refined. So elegant. And yet, it held something that now gone made so many people feel so… lost.

He slowly put his flower on the casket and felt the wood touch his fingers. He recoiled as he saw his parents' graves again in his mind. His head hurt. Clark looked back and went back for him. Dick shook his head and continued to walk, but he looked back. He looked back. Once inside the Manor, Dick took off his coat. Slowly, others came in as well. Others in reverent respect. Many he recognized and many that he didn't.

He saw the now six core of Justice League of America members: Wonder Woman, now as Princess Diana; Superman, now as Clark Kent; The Flash II, now as Barry Allen; Martian Manhunter, now as John Jones; Green Lantern, now as Hal Jordan; and Green Arrow, now as Oliver Queen; and Aquaman, now as Arthur Curry. He saw his friends, the Teen Titans. Starfire as Kory Anders, Beast Boy as Gar Logan, Cyborg as Victor Stone, and Raven as Rachel Roth. And there were others as civilians. He saw fellow sidekicks, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Aqualad. He saw Black Canary , Captain Atom, Adam Strange, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The Atom, Vixen, Animal Man, Green Lantern John Stewart, Ralph and Sue Dibny, and others... They had all looked up to Bruce. All of them. And still, others without masks were present too.

Barbara Gordon had flown out for the funeral and was standing by Leslie Thompkins. Ellen Yin had made it even though it was a mere day after Ethan's own funeral. Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane were there to support Clark. Iris West was with her husband, Barry. Lucius Fox stood by Alfred for a long while, muttering memories to him. Vicki Vale, an ex-lover of Bruce's was there as well. And still others. The last person Dick saw was Selina Kyle at the grave site, placing the last flower. Maybe... maybe she was hurting too.

There were no press members today. It was private and even then, people hid their faces, no one could make the connection. Many left right after. Some stayed and talked. Some, like Barbara, went up to tell Dick they were sorry. That they'd talk later if he wanted to. By the end of it, a few remained. His friends stayed. The core JLA and their family members stayed. The first to really approach him was Starfire. She and the other Titans had been talk to the currently Fab Four sidekicks, but she sensed that Dick needed someone to talk to.

"Dick?" She asked.

He looked at her and attempted to smile, but failed. His face had a small bandage over his right eyebrow. She knew their were other bandages from that Halloween. And she had seen him beat up before too. But something was different. There was... He was hurting inside as well.

She went up to him closer and put a hand to his cheek, "Robin?"

Dick felt her wrap her arms around him and for a moment, he let her. It felt good. But he couldn't let it last for some reason.

He turned his head and body away from her and replied slowly, "Star... I... I'm sorry. I think I... I think I just need time alone."

Dick walked up the marble staircase as Starfire watched him. Once he was out of sight, Alfred went up to her, "I am sorry, madam. I thank you for trying, though."

"Oh, I am worried for him, Alfred. He has not had the sleep, nor is he letting himself relax," She told him.

Alfred nodded, "Losing someone so important is always traumatic. I believe that this is affecting Master Dick incredibly hard because this is now his second time losing a parent."

"Dick... never called Bruce a parent," Starfire finished, uncertainly.

"Dick would never admit it now, Ms. Anders," Alfred told her, "But I assure you, if you had seen them while Dick was growing up, you would have seen how much Dick looked up to Master Bruce."

She nodded and sighed. She wondered what was running through his mind. But no one could know. No one knew that when Dick had gotten to his room and shut the door, he had walked over to his bed and had knelt by it's side. His arms on the bed as he tried beyond hope to relinquish the anguish he was feeling.

So stupid. How could he have been arguing? Arguing? And how he had utterly refused what Bruce had told him, when after what Ravager had done, it was clear that to him that he did care. Never listening to him. Thinking he knew better. Idiot. So stupid. So stupid... No wonder Bruce was always so angry with him. He could have been better for Bruce. A better sidekick. But he wasn't. He left. He ditched him for two years. And Bruce... Bruce was...

Dick put his head in his arms and covered his face. It was so wrong. He shouldn't have died for him. He shouldn't have died as Bruce Wayne to begin with. He should have been trying to save someone else. Not him. And he should have been the Dark Knight, as he had always wanted to be. Not Wayne. He could take his mentor being gone. Maybe. But not Wayne. Wayne, Bruce, he was... Dick felt himself shudder and try to suppress it all. He pulled his head above to look out at the clouds covering Gotham City.

His astounding city without him.

Without protection.

Dick looked down at his own hands. He had to do something. Like Bruce would have wanted. He couldn't... he couldn't sit and feel sorry for himself. Yeah, that was it. Do something. Do what Bruce would have wanted him to do. Go to the Cave. No one would notice. Dick got onto his shaky feet and slowly made his way towards his door heading the back way to Bruce's office.

Two stories below, some of the guests were slipping into the dining room. Alfred stood by the door as though it was nothing. Finally, Clark came by and Alfred nodded. He gestured over to Fox to eye the door and went in himself. Now only a few remained. He saw Dick's friends talking in hushed tones and Commissioner Gordon enter, probably to pick Barbara up. That was the thing about being a Commissioner. You never go home from work because it just follows you.

Inside the dining hall, Clark looked down at the seats that were taken. Diana, Barry, John, Hal, Arthur and Ollie... Normally, Bruce would have been to his right. Clark sighed and finally sat down at the head of the table.

"I'm assuming that you know why we're all here," Clark said.

"For the Dark Knight's funeral?" Ollie said in sarcastic bitterness.

Diana answered, "We have to sort this all out. So we as a league know where we stand."

"What do you want us to do, Diana?" Barry asked, "We can't really do anything. We're not miracle workers. We can't bring him back to life."

"No one's asking anyone to do that," John said.

"No, we're just putting it upon ourselves as to whether or not we should keep up the Dark Knight's charade," Hal pointed out.

"I never said that," Clark said.

"But that's what you're getting at?" Arthur asked.

"No, I'm not..."

"Well, I don't see how this even applies to us," Barry said, "Isn't that up to Dick?"

"Dick? He's just sixteen!" Arthur exclaimed.

"My sidekick works alone now," Barry said, "And Dick runs an entire team."

"You're not suggesting that he take up the mantle?" Diana asked.

Barry looked at them like he was crazy, "Uh, no. I'm just saying, isn't that all up to him how it's done?"

"Dick can't take up that mantle now; he's too young," John said.

"Why are you so worried about that?" Hal asked.

Ollie answered, "Because the kid's not thinking right; you see him earlier? He's not thinking straight. Keeps staring off into space."

Clark sighed and told them flat out, "He's not going to take up the mantle. Dick might not be thinking right, but he knows that. I think we have other things to worry about that are more important."

"What, like Bruce's financial resources?" Ollie asked.

Diana answered, "Kinda, Ollie, kinda."

"Now wait..." Clark started, but was interrupted.

"What exactly happens now, Alfred, with Bruce's estate and all?" Hal asked.

Alfred sighed, "Well, Wayne Industries is taken over by Mr. Earle at the head and Fox at his second hand until Dick becomes of age. All of Master Bruce's assets will be frozen, save for charity donations and JLA funding; Dick won't be able to touch it till he turns eighteen."

"Alfred..." Clark started, ignoring the previous conversation, "What happens to Dick in all of this?"

Alfred looked surprised at the question, but was about to answer him when he was interrupted again, this time by John, "Do you think he'll continue being Robin?"

"There's no doubt about it in my mind..." Alfred continued.

They kept talking. And talking and talking. No one interrupted them (despite Beast Boy's and Cyborg's severe temptation to do so). They talked on and on about how they were going to function. What was going to happen to Gotham. Who would watch it. The ideas and plans went on and on. It was giving Clark a headache. But away from the meeting, in the far edge of the manor, Dick had reached the old grandfather clock. He had somehow made his way over to it. He was finally beginning to understand what it was about the place that had always seemed so... comfortable for Bruce. He remembered the quiet, cool air. The solitude. It seemed... so welcoming. He turned the clock hands to 10:47 PM and waited.

But nothing changed.

Dick stood back in shock, "No."

He tried again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Dick got frantic, "No... No, no, no, no!"

He banged his fists against the glass framework, "Come on! Come on!"

Dick kept at it. He had to get in there. Why wasn't it opening? Why? He saw the glass begin to crack, but he didn't stop. He screamed in frustration and yelled. He had to get in there. Why wouldn't it open? Did Bruce... Dick shook his head. That couldn't be. Bruce would want him to have access, right? Right? He yelled out again and continued to hit the glass of the old grandfather clock. Back downstairs, Clark's migraine was getting to him. The other members kept coming back to the same topics. The ones Clark was the least concerned about. Another sound though, broke through to his sensitive ears.

Someone... in the south... no, east wing? Around there?

Clark got up and left the room. All of his colleagues looked after him, but only Alfred followed him. He didn't know where Clark was going and he didn't know the reason for his sudden departure. At least, he didn't until they got to Bruce's study, where the door was cracked open and he heard someone crying. He watched as Clark entered the room and saw Dick kneeling on the ground, his hands on the shattered glass door of the old grandfather clock. His knuckles were bleeding and his shoulders were heaved and kept jumping up and down with muffled sounds.

Somehow, Clark managed to speak, "Dick?"

Dick looked up at him, his eyes finally reflecting all the hurt. Clark got down next to him and brought Dick into a tight hug. Dick let go of the glass and sobbed into Clark's shirt, the blue and red slowly manifesting itself through his button down shirt.

"I... I can't... I can't get in..." Dick sobbed.

Clark looked up at Alfred, who went to get a first aid kit, while Dick continued his silent tears. Clark held onto him tightly. He'd never seen Dick in such a state. He was so tired. So out of breath. Ready to collapse. Clark was surprised that he'd made it this far. He'd met him after his emergence as Robin and had never seen him when his parents died. But now he saw it and he let him cry into his chest and let out all of the pain. Because somehow, no matter the situation, Clark could be the leader. He was there to help. And right now, he knew that Dick needed someone, an adult, so that he could just cry.

He thought about all that Dick had to carry. He was the leader of the Titans. Was always trying to live up to high expectations. He had no one. Not a single living family member to turn to. Just friends. And even then, somehow, he saw Dick shutting them out, as he had done with Starfire just an hour or so ago. Alfred came in shortly and helped Dick bandage up his hands. There were still glass chips in his flesh. Clark winced, but then, the question hit him. Why couldn't Dick get in?

"Alfred... Do you know of any security measures that Bruce might have taken if he were to die?" Clark asked.

"I am not aware of any, but it's certainly possible. Master Bruce was not one to trust just anyone," Alfred responded.

"Hm, we'll have to look into it more later," Clark said, as he glanced down at Dick, "Come on, kid. I bet Alfred knows some good pizza we can order."

Dick got up with a nod, but didn't say anything. Pizza, Clark somehow knew, wasn't what Dick wanted right then, but maybe it would get his mind off things. The three of them walked towards the entry hall, where the rest of the League had moved to with the Titans. Dick was about to leave when he saw Commissioner Gordon come up to him with Maggie Sawyer behind him and another woman.

"Mr. Pennyworth?" He asked.

"Yes?" Alfred asked back.

"I, uh, they've put this on me to tell you because I had to pick up my daughter here and I know that this must be bad timing, but..." Gordon started, but at the sight of Dick, he stopped.

"But what?" Clark asked.

Being nearby, Starfire and the others looked up at the sound of Clark's voice. Gordon knew this was not the best timing and he hated that above all else. Worst yet, he didn't even think that this was going to go over well either.

"Mr. Pennyworth, down at the office, well, you know what happens. When a person passes away, their wills are read over and they're property is distributed..."

"I'm well aware of that, Commissioner, and I assure you, it has been taken care of," Alfred replied evenly.

But for Gordon, that wasn't it, "I trust in that Mr. Pennyworth. It's Dick that I'm here to talk about."

"What about him?" Clark asked.

Gordon raised a brow at Clark, unaware of who he was, and continued, "The matter of his custody is what I'm talking about, Mr Pennyworth."

At that, Dick finally looked up and half of those nearby looked over as well as Alfred continued, "Master Dick is to remain in my custody, Commissioner, as I recall."

But Gordon shook his head sympathetically and continued a little less on professionally, "When it comes to matters such as this, the city state looks into them, Alfred. In the matter of Dick's custody, Wayne's will doesn't state that he would be left to you."

"Then who? Me?" Clark spoke up, but seeing the confusion, clarified, "I'm Clark Kent; I was a good friend of Wayne's."

"No, Mr. Kent, I'm afraid not," Gordon told him, "Dick is to go into the care of Mr. Wayne's cousin from his mother's side, who I was relieved to find here."

It was at this point that Dick looked around the Commissioner's side at the woman behind him. She had slightly curly brown hair, that reached a bit farther than her shoulders. Her expression, while thoroughly confused at the moment, held remnants of sadness and traces of tears that had been recently released from her green eyes. She wore a black professional-like outfit in light of the funeral. She could have been Bruce's same age, sure, but... Bruce had a cousin? Since when? Who was she? Why had he never met her before? Dick could see that for her, this was almost as much as a shock as it was for them. He felt like he was speechless. And indeed he was.

"Mr. Pennyworth, Mr. Kent, Dick, I'd like you to meet Bruce's cousin," Gordon said as they all turned to look at the woman behind him, "This is Ms. Adeline Kane."

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