Saturday, June 10, 2017

Chapter Sixteen: All Hallow's Eve

Interlude: October 31st

Chapter Sixteen: All Hallow's Eve

"Evening, Mademoiselle," Alfred said, opening the door for her.

"Evening... um..." Kory started, uncertainly

"Kory, this is Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred, this is Kory Anders," Dick introduced them.

"It is my pleasure," Alfred said and Kory could hear the older man's refined British tone.

As Alfred drove off with the two teens in the back, someone in the hotel called the local paper. This would fit perfectly under the gossip column. "Dick Grayson dates visiting Princess". Turning out to be just like Wayne, probably, but who knew? Didn't care how the papers saw that, but at least the boy looked like his head was still on his shoulders. Wish they could remember what this Kory was the princess of, though...

The drive was slow in the traffic so Dick prodded his mind for topics, but Kory was the first to break the silence, "So... Dick, you have really been..."

"Yeah, kinda," Dick laughed, "Couldn't tell you guys before 'cause of Bruce."

She nodded, "Is, um, is Mr. Wayne... him?"

Dick nodded back with a warm smile, "Well, kind of, guess I can't keep that from you anymore either, can I? But, yeah, he's not my dad, though. When I was about nine or eight I guess, I, well..."

Dick added a laugh into the mix to dull the pain, "I was um, in a circus. Haly's Circus. And my parents and I were, uh, high-wire and trapeze artists. One day, though, my parents were killed by performing by a guy named Anthony Zucco..."

Kory sucked in a breath quietly as Dick continued, "He put acid on their performance wires and they always performed without a net. So they, yeah, they died. But Bruce, he was in the crowd that night and in short, I went to live with him and he taught me how to be Robin."

There was a pause for a moment, in which Dick couldn't make heads or tales of what Kory thought, "Kory?"

"Hm? Oh, I am sorry. I just, I did not expect that, but it does make the sense now," Kory told him, hoping this had not been too painful to bring up.

Then again, Dick didn't seem like in bothered him much. Maybe at one point it really had bothered him. Or maybe he was just putting it all lightly and that way he could ignore any pain that came with it. To think though, it was almost incredible, that their leader had been born out of such a tragedy and still be so positive. And from what she had seen, he was so much so the opposite in tone in comparison to the Batman... Mr. Wayne.

She looked up at him, "Dick, does... Does Mr. Wayne mind that you have, well, told me about him?"

Dick thought for a moment and decided to ignore his actual honest answer, "Don't worry about that. He's doesn't even know about this date; he has some meeting that he has to go to. And besides, he should trust me on things like this."

At least that last part was true. Kory nodded when the car began to pull over and they both looked up. Outside was a elegant restaurant in Midtown Gotham, one that Dick had often heard Bruce talk about: The Constellation. Alfred came around and opened up the limo's door where Dick got out and helped Kory out as well.

Dinner was excellent. Their conversations were lively and yet relaxed. The best thing was that it was private. Dick told her about growing up with Bruce while she would tell him stories about Tamaran. They shared inside jokes and those little embarrassing moments that they hadn't told anyone else about before. They ate casually, catching glances of each other's eyes and then quickly looking away, embarrassed. Dick chose the safe choices, the pastas, while Kory dared to try the oriental originals, such as spark cooked squid and eel, making Dick gape at her as she ate it greedily. And all the while, they would catch glances of the other looking at them with a glint of spark in their eyes and a smile on the corner of their lips. Then the other would blush and they'd continue on with their dinner. Their dessert was their filler, a chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake.

Kory wiped her lips with one of the soft napkins while Dick paid for the dinner and tipped the waiter. Dick looked down at their hands and gently touched her fingers as they went for the door. Feeling his fingers, Kory smiled and finished the action by lacing them together. It had been quiet up till then. He expected to meet Alfred outside, but instead, a throng of flashes met his eyes. Star held onto his arm tightly as people pushed recorders into their faces and blinded them with their cameras, surprising her. The press, great. Just Great! Dick hadn't expected this, but come to think of it, he should have.

"Grayson! Grayson! A photo!"

"Princess! Give us a..."

"Care to comment...!"

"Just one photo!"

"Who is she?!"

"How long have you been dating?!"

Dick looked over and between flashes he saw an alleyway to their right, "Come on."

Using a bit more than what one would call average strength, Dick and Kory forced their way through the crowd and ran for it. Dick held her hand and led her to the alleyway as the crowd of paparazzi attempted to follow them. They turned the corner and he nodded upward. When the camera men and writers got to the alleyway, they found it empty. Some rushed ahead, believing a woman really couldn't be that fast in heels while others left defeated. Above them, Kory hovered in the air, Dick holding onto her. Once the paparazzi were gone, he laughed, to Kory's surprise.

She landed on a nearby roof. Her hair was almost straight now and he was getting out a mask to put on as she asked him, "Dick... does your... connection to Mr. Wayne make you the celebrity?"

Dick looked at her in surprise, "Well, sort of, I guess. Never thought of it that way. But that's the first time they did that. Guess it's 'cause I'm getting older now."

Kory nodded and commented, "He is the Knight and you, the Squire?"

Dick was taken back a bit, but told her, "Yeah, I guess. Hope that's okay with you."

Kory giggled, "I would want a Squire over a Knight any day. The Knights as some would say are 'way too dull'."

Dick smiled and went up to her, "I'm glad, Princess."

Kory smiled, "Shall we continue as Kory and Dick or..."

"Let's show off a little," Dick said, putting on the black mask.

He loosened his shirt and jacket while she waited. Once he was ready, she walked over to him and he put his arm over her shoulder and she her arm under his. Flying up into the air, Robin felt the breeze softly hit his face. For about an hour, he directed her over Gotham, showing her the areas he had called home since he was a kid. As they approached the uptown island of Gotham, Dick noticed a small carnival nearby, no doubt for the Halloween festivities. Funny, it didn't feel like Halloween to him. He directed Starfire to land near a man with some colorful cones. Robin told Starfire to wait and ran over to the man, handed him something and went back to Starfire.

"Why is it that we have landed here?" She asked.

"Just watch Star, you'll like this," Robin told her.

Suddenly, a whirl of sound seemed to shoot out of the air and a loud blast rocketed through the skies, followed by a blast of color. Starfire gasped, "The fireworks of your world!"

"Yeah, thought you'd like 'em," Robin told her.

Starfire looked at him, "Robin, do you want to see them?"


Starfire held out her hand and Robin finally got what she was asking. He looked at her quizzically, "You're not going to kill me for a horrible date, are you?"

Starfire shook her head. Robin smiled. They both kicked off their shoes and got ready for another flight. Robin took her hand and felt himself being lifted into the air once again that night, straight for the fireworks. The blasts were incredible (and loud), but between them, he could hear the bands playing below. He looked up at Starfire who's eyes were dancing with the lights. She brought him gracefully up to her eye level. Then again, she was always graceful. The rockets fired away, but Starfire kept it so that they were never hit, sometimes dodging at the last moment to give Robin something to laugh at after the narrow miss. For a moment, the rockets had a pause and Starfire looked over to see Robin looking at the ground.

"Robin, what is wrong?" She asked.

"I... I just wish I could be the one flying," He said, smiling off-handily, "I wanted to carry you."

Starfire smiled sweetly at him, "Robin, in more ways than the one, you already have."

Robin looked up at her. Wow. He looked harder. She... She was so beautiful. So lovely. So perfect. So patient. So cute. So loving and considerate and kind and passionate and joyful. He felt his heart racing. It was at this moment that he realized how close they were. Him depending on her for the moment to keep him up in the air. She being steadfast and steady for him. More than anything, he wanted to stay with her. Right now. Forever. Right then, all he could see was her. He held onto her, their hands and arms locked together. Their faces, inches if not centimeters away from the others'. Their eyes never wavered. Were they even breathing? Were they alive? Were they in heaven? He didn't know.



Robin felt his heart aching and Starfire felt her own racing. Somehow, they both knew how the other felt. So right. So wonderful. So out of this world. So... so... was there even a word for it? Starfire looked into his masked eyes. How amazing, dazzling... enchanting... they... were... She felt her heart stop for a moment as everything slowed. Robin inched towards her and she reciprocated the action. She was so angelic and he was so protective. He was so incredible and she was so loyal. They didn't want to let go. This had to be what people sought after in life. This had to... They were so close to feeling the other's lips on their own...

Beep. Beep. Beep.

They pulled apart as Robin blushed and picked his cell phone from his pocket to open it for a text, 'Master Dick, if you could land... Master Bruce...'

Robin looked down to see Alfred and the limo parked below. A loud boom sounded behind them and the last firework erupted. Blushing awkwardly again, Robin nodded towards the ground and they landed and put on their shoes. They were very quiet, but they held one another's hand as they walked toward the car where Robin had told Alfred to meet them. Before walking over, Starfire put her hair in a bun and Robin took off the mask. Alfred smiled as he saw the tired couple walking towards them. He opened the car door and Kory got in, but before Dick could follow, Alfred held Dick back for a moment.

"You're presence is requested by Master Bruce," The butler told him

Dick's eyes shot up, "Huh?"

"Do not ask me why," Alfred told him.

"Well, just... now?" Dick asked.

"I believe so," Alfred answered, "I would not have called you down if I did not believe that he was serious about it."

Dick thought for a moment and sighed, "Well, just drop me off at Wayne Tower. That's where he is, right?"

"Indeed," Alfred answered.

"You'd give Kory a ride back to the hotel, right?"

Alfred answered, "You would think I that wouldn't?"

Dick smiled at the butler and got into the car. As they took off, Dick sat next to Kory and she rested her head on his shoulder. She didn't ask why they had to end it; she was content and happy none the less by just being with him. And despite Dick's sense of foreboding, he still felt a huge amount of joy in his bones.

"Sorry 'bout this, Star," He told her.

"It is quite alright, Robin," She told him.

"Thank you, for tonight," He said.

"I thank you too," She replied.

Wayne Tower came into their presence all too soon. As Dick stepped out, he looked back at Kory one more time. She was so beautiful, inside and out, and all that. Way better looking than any other girl. 'Cause she was his star. His star. Wow. He felt a shiver run down his back.

"Bye, Star," He said in a whisper.

"Farewell, Robin," She answered, her emerald eyes sparkling.

He smiled at her. Carefully, Dick shut the car door and watched as Alfred drove off. Dick felt his heart swell. Wow... So this is what it felt like to be love sick? He'd gladly be that any day. Running up the steps, taking them two at a time, Dick approached the near deserted Wayne Tower. Wow. Just, wow. How cool was that? He'd just gone out on the best date of his life. Wow!

He passed the front entrance with ease. Dick was so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he nearly bumped into a brown haired woman who seemed to be in charge of security and was angrily talking to two men. If it hadn't been for his inside knowledge and frequent visits he would have never made it up to the top floor of the Tower. Dick walked up to the silver, diamond encrusted elevators. The ride went fairly quick, but Dick didn't notice. When the doors opened to the empty waiting area and he stepped out, the biggest, most stupid grin remained on his face right up until he opened the modern stained glass doors to Bruce's office and saw Bruce leaning against the front of his desk, arms crossed and a perturbed look on his face.

That's when the grin left.

Dick felt himself tense up. He looked down at the ground while his posture automatically shifted into a soldier stance and waited for whatever lecture that was coming. Because, of course, there was always a lecture. A senseless lecture. A pointless lecture. A reprimanding lecture. A 'don't get yourself killed' lecture. A 'you messed up' lecture. Which one would it be this time? Which ever one it was, Dick knew he wasn't going to like it. Bruce stood up straight, bringing himself to his full height and making Dick feel all that smaller. He walked to the side of his desk, but neglected any sigh of regret.

"Where were you tonight?"

Dick felt his chest tighten as he answered, "You know where I was."

"Where were you tonight?" Bruce asked again, anger this time lacing his tone.

The man wasn't in the mood, but then again, Dick wasn't either. He was actually suddenly angry, "I was on a date! What? That actually matters to you?"

"I thought I told you to be out on patrol early tonight," Bruce demanded, "It's near twelve and you still haven't even put on a suit."

"Then what's this tux?" Dick spat, smart-mouthing him.

Bruce finally turned to him with a sneer, "Don't play dumb with me, Dick. You know very well what happens in this town on Halloween. Men die on the streets. Woman go missing. Children get kidnapped. Barbara once got kidnapped and she was only one of the lucky ones."

"Then why are you lecturing me and not out there right now yourself?" Dick yelled, snapping his head up at Bruce.

"Watch your tone," Bruce scolded.

Their eyes locked furiously, neither looking anywhere else, as though it was a battle of will power. Dick couldn't believe this guy. Honestly, what had he done? He was a teenager. Most teenagers were partying tonight. He was having an innocent date. Bruce on the other hand, wouldn't take this kind of irritable costly behavior. Not telling him that he wouldn't be out. He would have tried to get out sooner and who knows what could have happened thus far tonight to some unsuspecting civilian. Irresponsible. Irrational. Tonight, people mattered. That didn't give anyone in this room leeway. A date could have been any night but tonight. Dick kept his eyes on Bruce and then he noticed a change in Bruce's look.

Finally, Bruce sighed and walked back around his desk, "Who did you go with?"

"Kory Anders," Dick answered surprised; it was a fair enough question.

"Who?" Bruce asked, unaware of Dick telling him about anyone by name.

"Starfire," Dick clarified.

Bruce's eyes went momentarily wide, then returned to their normal state only more alert and actually, maybe a bit thinner, "Starfire? Your team member?"

"Yes," Dick answered again.

Bruce looked at him in shock, dumbfounded. The man looked off to the side. Dick didn't know where this was going. He watched as Bruce put a hand to his face and his expression scrunched up in thought. Somehow, Dick didn't like this.

And when Bruce finally repeated the name, it was in no way that Dick wanted to hear, "Kory Anders? Kory Anders!?"

Dick stepped back defensively, "What?"

Bruce walked to the front again and threw out his arm in frustration, "Do you... please do not tell me that you did what I think you did..."

Dick opened his mouth, barely able to get the words out thanks to Bruce's reaction, but then a rage from deep inside him erupted and he dared to step forward again, "You mean tell her I was Dick Grayson? The poor kid that Bruce Wayne felt sorry for? Yeah! I told her. Kind of hard to go out on a date with her otherwise, don't you think?"

Bruce's wrath flared, "Oh my..."

But he paused, as though unable to finish his sentence. Dick watched as Bruce looked from side to side as though trying to look at anything but him. The man's expression was now frustrated and he was deep in thought. All this in one night. Bruce didn't want to have to deal with it. But their identities...

He turned towards his desk and brought a hand to his face again, "Dick, what have you done?"

What had he done? No. No way was this... No!

"I've told my best friend who I am! I don't see where that's a problem!" Dick screamed, demanding attention to the fact that he was human; perhaps Bruce didn't like that.

"And in doing so, you realize that you've just compromised half of the Justice League's identities, not to mention, my own?" Bruce asked lividly, "You realize that, Dick!?"

"She's not going to kill anyone!" Dick yelled.

"She's an alien," Bruce pointed out, "She's not from Earth and her galaxy shows little signs of weakness. They've been warring each other for nearly a century. How do you know that she hasn't just been playing you all along?"

Dick looked at Bruce in disbelief, but answered firmly, "Because I know her and I know what it's like to be betrayed and I know she'd never do that!"

"Don't start that, Dick," Bruce said, trying to avoid the subject of Dick's departure when in reality, Dick was referencing Terra's betrayal of the Titans.

"Fine, but how come I'm not allowed to date and have a friend that's an alien when you're friends with Superman, the most powerful alien of them all? Xenophobic about him too, Bruce?" Dick accused.

"Kryptonite is an easy tool to disable him," Bruce answered coldly.

"Mr. Wayne, Ms. Kyle was hoping that you were in and able to attend a party..."

"Not Now!" Bruce yelled and turned off the connection from receptionist at the front entrance.

On the bottom level below, Selina tapped her foot while on the roof, someone found the windows to Bruce's office just like the map had said.

"Nice, Bruce, really. What about Selina, Bruce? Huh? What about the fact that you're dating a wanted thief? What's that about? I think Superhero Alien is a much better taste in women," Dick added sarcastically.

"Do you even..."

There were so many other people at the moment living other lives. Everywhere else, people continued on with their lives. Across town in the boys' room, Cyborg hit Red X over the head with the remote. In Metropolis, Clark filed some final papers, having to work late with Lois and Jimmy that night. Oliver Queen was laughing at the morons whose butts he was kicking while being the Robin Hood of Star City. Commissioner Gordon relaxed in his office, waiting for midnight so that he could leave. Princess Diana sparred with a fellow Amazon for training. Starfire entered her room, love-struck while Raven attempted to sleep with all of the noise coming from the other room. But the fight in Wayne Tower raged and would soon effect everyone.

"No! Do you even know what I've been through! I've paid attention to your stupid rules! I've tried to be cold and heartless! And I don't want to be! I like being able to love someone!"

"And you realize that if it weren't for your team, you could have gotten shot the other day. Your concern for that alien nearly cost you your life."

The figure on the roof got ready: this would be cake.

"Oh, so we're incapable, is that it!?"

"Actually, considering their performance and interference the past couple days, I'd guess that Ethan could still be alive if it weren't for them!"

"Oh, so that's why you're so bitter about Ethan's death to me? It's my fault?! Sorry for my team helping then!"

"They shouldn't be here; they create too many additional factors," Bruce countered.

"Is that what the Clark and Diana do to you Bruce? Create more 'additional factors'?" Dick threw back, his hands clenched tight into fists.

"They're adults and can handle themselves," Bruce told him, "Your team is learning. You're no where near the level of the JLA."

Dick sneered, "Thanks a lot Bruce. Really, I'm glad that I'm no where near your level of coldness!"

Ravager loaded the gun and hooked up the tanks to his back.

"This argument is over, Dick," Bruce said, about to go around to his desk, when Dick continued.

"No! I'm so sick of you putting me down all the time! I'm sick of you treating me like a little kid! I'm capable of more than just creating those old catchy lines, Bruce! That's why I left! 'Cause I could handle myself and you would never listen to me about that!"

"Handle yourself?" Bruce asked, "How can you say that when you nearly got shot?"

"I'm always nearly getting shot! It's part of the job description; but I don't see how my well being even interests you anyway!" Dick told him.

That got him, "You don't think your well being concerns me?"

There was no one left in the world that he was even remotely concerned with at the moment. Not the JLA. Not the Teen Titans. Not the JSA or the Outsiders. No one. Not a single soul. Just his ward. There was silence, eerily so and Dick sensed that Bruce was about to let it all out on him.

"You think I don't care about you?"

Dick didn't move as he glared at Bruce, who slowly walked towards him from the wooden desk. He couldn't wait to hear this.

"You think I don't care, when every hour before we go out, I am planning the safest possible routes to keep you safe? When I'm training you, being sure that you're ready to go out so that maniacs like Two-Face will never beat you again? When I'd lay down my own life if you would be alive and healthy?"

Dick wouldn't back down. Why? He didn't believe it. Bruce took the easy way, not the safest. He trained him looking for perfection, which he clearly was not. He'd hold his incapability's over his head for the rest of his life and Dick had let him. Ravager smiled.

"You think I don't care about your well being?" Bruce whispered and looked down at Dick.


"And why would that be?" Bruce asked, leaning in and challenging the statement.

"How about 'you'd take everything I ever had away'?" Dick asked, finding a silent road blocker.

Bruce returned to his natural stance, silent, unreadable.

"See, you don't care and you sure don't act like it," Dick told him.

There wasn't another chance for Bruce to respond when the windows shattered and a man laughed, a blowtorch in one hand and a gun in the other, lighting the sides of the building on fire. A couple bullets were shot. The man's red and brown suit blazed as he laughed from under his mask as the alarm system sounded.

"BRUCE WAYNE! Bwhahaha," The intruder yelled, "Meet your doom!"

At one point in time, Dick might have laughed at the statement. Not today though. Both he and Bruce got into a position in which they could fight back if they had to, only with the palms of their hands up and facing this maniac. They had to keep him calm as they weren't exactly the Dynamic Duo from the front page of paper at the moment. Once at least one of them got their chance to leave, they'd strike.

"Who are you?" Bruce said steadily.

"Who am I? Who am I?" The man asked, indignantly, "Name's 'The Ravager' and trust me, I can cause just as much havoc as my name implies."

He was a talker. He could be talked down... possibly. Just not as Wayne and Grayson, that's all.

"What do you want?" Wayne asked as Dick looked between Bruce and Ravager, tense and ready to do something if needed.

"Simple, I take joy in spilling blood, so what does that mean?" Ravager lied, yet at the same time, it was quite entertaining for him.

Dick eyed Ravager's equipment. A blowtorch. A gun. He had been killing all of those people. This was their guy! And he was just a random killer? Bruce noticed the similarities, too. They couldn't let him get away.

"Ravager, there's no point in killing me," Bruce reasoned.

Ravager laughed, "Of course there is, you realize the bounty that's on your head? I was already in the neighborhood, thought, why not? Now how shall it be?"

Bruce raised a brow, hoping to stall as Ravager continued, "I could burn ya alive or I could shoot ya, strangle ya, beat the livin' daylights out of ya."

"You can't think that I'm going to go along with this," Bruce asked calmly.

Ravager was taken aback by this and then his eyes caught Dick. Walking over, he let the blowtorch fall to the side and grabbed Dick by the shirt, bringing the gun up to the boy's head, "Maybe I'll just blow the kid's brains out instead, then you'd have blood on your hands."

Dick didn't struggle, but he held his breath and tried not to think about the hot barrel that was being pushed against his skull. He hated having to pretend like he couldn't do anything. He held onto Ravager's arm, hoping that the man would let go, but he wouldn't. There wasn't a chance of that. Bruce's startled expression got Ravager's attention.

"Don't you dare harm him," Bruce seethed.

"Oh, why not? What you going to do?" Ravager taunted.

Bruce stood still and tensed.

"I've never killed anyone so young, but I wouldn't mind givin' it a try," Ravager said continuing, looking down at Dick, who had beads of sweat forming on his face. From somewhere, Dick heard liquid move and swish around.

"You don't want him, Ravager. You came here to get me. Not him. Please, let him go," Bruce asked, calmly but tensely all the same.

Ravager chuckled and threw Dick to the ground to the right. Dick quickly got up. Again, if he were younger, he would have snapped something witty at the murderer, but he wasn't ten. He was sixteen. This guy worried him. He tried to fight off the fresh memory of the barrel's feeling. Dick then noticed that the fire's smoke began to drift outside as the fire slowly spread around the edges of the room.

"So, then, tell me, what does the famous Bruce Wayne want his final words to be?" Ravager threw at him.

Bruce held his fists, "You're not going to get away with this, Ravager."

Dick finally added to the conversation trying to keep Ravager talking, "You're a coward with a gun!"

Ravager then turned, actually interested in Dick, "You think a coward could carry a gun, kid?"

He pointed the gun at Dick again between his eyes, but Bruce redirected his attention, "You're forgetting me, Ravager. I'm over here; is your eyesight really that bad?"

Infuriated, he turned to Wayne, and Ravager yelled at the insult, "You know what? When I'm done with you, I'm gonna burn down this Tower and let it look like the end of the world had swallowed it up and spit it back out. This place will be nothing but a pile of rubble with your sad excuse of a corpse at the top of the pile."

Slade watched the scene from a spy camera. The three vigilantes all facing each other. He wasn't pleased so far. His dear half-brother could get so easily distracted. Perhaps the man needed a little reminder of what he was here to do.

"Ravager, you don't have to do this. I could pay you triple the bounty. Just put the gun down and let's talk. I can write you a check right now. I wouldn't even try to trace it. Just leave Dick and I alone," Bruce offered.

They had to get out, now. This was taking way too long. Ravager looked intrigued, but something sounded in his ear. Bruce and Dick watched tensely, not knowing why the man had stopped mid-interest.

"Your brother will get there first, upping you. How humiliating."

Ravager's eyes flared with anger, "No, you know what?"

Bruce and Dick kept their hands up still, not to startle the man who was obviously enraged, but that was the last thing they should have done.

"This is taking way too long!" Ravager announced and pulled his gun out to face Bruce.

If Dick was Superman, he would have seen Ravager pull the trigger. If he was Superman, he would have been able to see through Ravager's mask and the smile plastered onto his face. If he was Superman, he would have seen the two bullets being released in slow-mode thanks to super-speed. If he was Superman, he would have been able to reflect the bullets against his chest in an instant. But Dick was just Dick Grayson. And what he saw was far more... human... and fatal.


And all he saw was Ravager pull the trigger twice. He heard two loud gun shots sound through the air. He saw Bruce attempt to dodge, but Bruce was only human and even a near perfected human body couldn't dodge what the Flash could. He saw the impacts of the bullets hit Bruce in the chest and he heard the sound of fabric tearing as the bullets went out the other way.

Bruce could survive anything. Underneath, he always wore a part of his Batsuit. Especially the chest and that was designed to survive anything. Anything!

Anything but a straight shot.

Like those.

Dick saw Bruce's face contort. Then blood began to seep down onto his suit, one directly by the heart. Dick was frozen in horror. No. This couldn't be happening. He wasn't shot. His eyes and his ears were fooling him. No, this couldn't... Now his eyesight was giving way to the water filling up on the rims of his eyes. He was able to see Bruce fall backwards towards the ground. And as he watched, Dick was able to catch a small glimpse of Bruce's eyes looking directly at him, giving him all the terror, panic, and sorrow he needed.

Bruce's eyes were calm, but strong, ready, telling him to do the same. To take care of them, all of them, himself. Saying everything, in one look, it was a look that both haunted and paralyzed Dick at that moment with fear. Bruce then closed his eyes, seeing Dick had seen him, seen that look. That's all he needed to do. That's all.


The Dark Knight fell to the ground and hit hard... He couldn't... This couldn't be happening. Bruce couldn't... He just... No! NO! Dick shook his head finally and felt the tears beginning to fall without his say so. Then it all came out as the shock left him and instinct boiled through his body.

"NO! BRUCE! BRUCE!" Dick screamed, desperately wanting his yells to do something, anything, anything!

But Bruce didn't move. He was a motionless figure lying on the floor of his office. Too much like six years ago. Too much like the last two. Too much like Mom and Dad. Too much... Dick tried to run, to make his way over to him, to help him, he had to, all the while knowing that he could very well find more blood to stain his helpless hands.

But he found mid yell that someone was still in the room and kept him back, "BRUC..."

"Shut up, kid!" Ravager told him, throwing him across the room and into a pillar.

He hit his head hard, yelped, and fell to the ground, dizzy. Stupid, he should have... Where... As he got to his knees, he looked over at Bruce's form and saw Ravager pouring a tank of liquid that had been in his backpack onto Bruce and the area around him, cutting him off completely. He began to feel the heat from the flames.

Ravager took out the blowtorch and walked over to the broken windows.

Oh no.

Ravager pulled one more trigger.


Dick screamed as the floor rumbled and shook angrily.

On the streets a loud blast rocketed through the sky and people looked up at the center building. The pride and joy of Gotham: Wayne Tower, in smoke and engulfed in a heavy inferno of flames. Dick laid in the smoking room on the ground that threatened him with instability, while whispering...

"Bruce... Bruce..."

It was so hot. Wooden beams began to crackle and fall. He could feel his own blood leaking from cuts in his skin and sweat mingling with it to accommodate him in this heat. He heard something moving debris, someone...

"I.. I'm... sorry..."

Someone saw him, as they moved away from the hottest of the flames.

"Bruce... bruce... please... I... please..."

The flames began to eat the place away. He had been so happy up until that point that night. His wonderful evening, gone, but that was the least of his worries. The charred office he was in no longer resembled its former glory, surely not the place where he and Bruce were arguing mere minutes before. Arguing, stupid... He hated himself for it. One last tear fell as that night, as the Gotham Clock sounded off the end of all Hallow's Eve. Dick's blurred vision picked up a figure, thin, dark purple. He felt their gentle leathered hands on his face, but he couldn't take it anymore. In seconds, Dick succumbed to the pain in his lungs that burned from the smoke and slipped into unconsciousness.

Inside the office, off to the side, a paper burned. A newspaper on what was once a chair, Bruce's chair.

"Dynamic Duo Back!" screamed across its front page.

It didn't last long as the flames slowly, bit by bit, ate it. Ate it all away. Meanwhile, across town, Slade let a rare moment of sick laughter escape him as he smiled at the scene on the news as Wayne Tower's inferno roared.

End Of Part Three

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