Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chapter Twenty-Two: Adeline's Will

Chapter Twenty-Two: Adeline's Will

For the next hour, Dick sat in the kitchen while police officers came in and out of Ms. Kane's house. He kept his ears open, his eyes wide for any detail. He doubted that he'd get the chance to look over the house till much later. But what bothered him the most was the circumstances. This wasn't right. The idea that Ms. Kane, that she could have been taken without a fight, it seemed almost absurd to even consider. She had been in the Army. She must have known how to defend herself. And how could he have not have heard anything, anyway?

As Dick pondered the possibilities, he watched Yin direct the officers around the house. Gordon, on the other hand, remained at her side, also thinking. He looked over at Dick and then back at his own shoes. Yin had told him her suspicions. She guessed that Ms. Kane might have been another target in the recent murders, due to her connection to the security network at Wayne Tower. And he had to admit, that was probably the most likely. However, the fact that Dick was now close to, if not present to these... murders and disappearances, bothered him.

This was why he was eager to get Dick out of the house and back to the police department, "Yin, I'm taking Dick with me to the station. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not, Commissioner," She said, slightly distracted by the other officers.

Commissioner Gordon walked over to Dick and tried to offer a small smile of comfort, "Dick, do you want to get your stuff?"

Dick looked up at him and nodded. Getting up, Dick went to his room and quickly shut the door. He'd only have a few minutes. Unlocking the toy box, Dick got his Robin stuff out and began to pack everything else afterwards. It took him only a few minutes, but as he looked under his bed for the last case for his laptop, Dick noticed something by the leg of the bed. Reaching for the small object, Dick pulled out a thin tube. It definitely wasn't there before and it certainly wasn't children's toy. A small opening was at either side at the top.

Raising an eyebrow, Dick took a shirt of his and wrapped the object inside of it. With that, he zipped the last suitcase and locked up his computer. Coming down the steps, he met Gordon who again tried to offer up a faint smile. He helped Dick with a suitcase and put them in the back of the car. Dick got in the passenger's seat as Gordon got in and started the car for Gotham's center. They rode in silence for a while, neither knowing exactly how to start a conversation or if they even wanted to. Was it just going to be pointless, anyway? Gordon looked over at Dick, whose face was void of any expression.

"Dick..." Gordon started, "I know that this has got to be hard, but I'm going to tell you what we think is going on."

Dick looked over passively and then nodded as Gordon continued, "Yin believes that Kane must have known something about the murders, which is viable because of her position at the Enterprises..."

"She did know," Dick said.

Gordon looked over at Dick who finally spoke, "She suspected that it wasn't just Ravager. You didn't listen to her."

Gordon gripped the steering wheel hard as his mouth went dry, "Dick, I didn't know about any of that. Do you know who she thought could be involved?"

Dick shook his head, "She didn't know who. But she said that they were smarter than Ravager, and cleaner."

"Oh my... Dick..." Gordon shook his head, "I..."

There was more than one person involved. And even then, that made sense. Joker's scheme and Ethan's death happening at the same time, even then, that should have been a clear sign. These were more than just vigilante villains. They knew how to run a crime scheme as complicated as murder and keep their identity a mystery.

"Dick, I'm... Right now, we have only a slight clue as to what exactly we're dealing with and I'm not going to treat you like a child and pretend we do," Gordon told him, "The fact that you've been close to both Ms. Kane's and Bruce's... incidences, worries me. There is also a possibility in my mind that the Wayne family fortune might be the target."

Dick nodded as Gordon concluded, "What I'm most concerned about, though, is your safety, so I need you to trust me right now."

"Okay," Dick said as they pulled up to the station and Gordon parked.

"Come on," He said, pulling out two of Dick's suitcases and walking towards the entrance.

Dick grabbed the last bag and followed him inside. Outside, one news reporter was already on the scene. He wondered if anyone else would consider this news. Once inside, Gordon brought him into his office. Sitting inside, Dick held his laptop case and kept his suitcase with his Robin supplies close by. He heard Gordon yelling at Sawyer and Bullock, but his mind was wrapped up in other things.

He kept considering the two theories. Somehow, he leaned more towards Yin's idea. It's easy to steal a fortune. If they had wanted a fortune, well, whoever they were, they could have stolen it with ease, considering how well they've handled all of these murders. But... what had Ms. Kane found? She had never mentioned anything. And if his own suspicions were correct, he had been knocked out by whatever had been inside of that thin tube.

Outside, Gordon and the others worked through a massive pile of paperwork. Sawyer looked outside at the press woman. She normally wouldn't have minded, but at six in the morning? Didn't these people have anything better to do with their lives? She couldn't believe that anyone was ever even naturally up at this unkind hour of the morning. However, downtown, one person was working tirelessly in the public clinic.

Leslie Thompkins, a long time friend of the Waynes, wiped sweat from her forehead. She'd been up all night helping a child who seemed to be suffering from an unruly and upset stomach. At the moment, the child had taken some medicine to stop him from vomiting again, giving Leslie the chance to take a breather.

"Oh, Ms. Thompkins, thank you so much, thank you," The woman, Ms. Reeves, told her, "I don't know what I would have done..."

Leslie nodded. She was used to this sort of thing, "It's no problem, but, I don't think I can handle this here. You need to take him to a hospital."

"I don't know how I'd pay for that though!" Ms. Reeves explained, distraught, "After the boy's father left..."

"Apply for help at Wayne Enterprises," Leslie told her, "They have a program started up by Thomas Wayne when he was a doctor that was aimed at helping those who couldn't afford expensive surgeries and treatments."

"They do that?" Ms. Reeves asked.

"I believe so," Leslie said, "Bruce Wayne kept it up and running, so I don't see why it wouldn't be."

"That Bruce Wayne was always such a kind heart," Ms. Reeves said, "I know that he was a playboy, but with all of the charity functions that he did - not everybody does that and there certainly are not that many playboys even thinking of that sort of thing."

Leslie's movements slowed, "Yeah, he was a great man... He paid for and sponsored this clinic."

"He did?" Ms. Reeves asked, "Well, I can't say that I'm surprised. It's quite sad about what happened to him, though."

"Yeah," Leslie said, "He didn't deserve that."

"Oh, he didn't deserve any of it!" Ms. Reeves exclaimed, "That grizzly murder or what happened to his parents. It's almost like he was cursed."

"I couldn't deny that," Leslie said as they entered the waiting room.

The TV had the news on low, but it was the images that caught Leslie's eyes, "We have reason to believe that there was another murder, one Ms. Adeline Kane, went missing this evening. Ms. Kane was working with Wayne Enterprises in the security department. The police have yet to confirm or deny any of the rumors that have been circulating."

Leslie bit her lip, "Um, excuse me, Ms. Reeves. I, uh, need to call someone..."

Racing out of the waiting room, Leslie went to her office and grabbed her cell phone, muttering, "Come on, Alfred, come on, pick up!"

Finally she heard an answer, "Hello? Leslie?"

"Alfred, have you seen the morning news?" She asked him.

"I... I'm afraid not. I've still been sleeping, why?" Alfred answered.

"It's that Ms. Kane that Dick was staying with. She's gone missing," Leslie told him.

Alfred got up from his bed as he quickly replied, "Did they say where Dick is now?"

"No, I don't think the press even knows," Leslie told him, "Listen, I can't leave now, I've got patients here, but I'd say that you'd better get down there and find out what's going on."

Alfred nodded, "All right, I will be down there as soon as possible."

Racing to get dressed and to the car, Alfred didn't bother with looking formal. Igniting the engine, he raced down to the station, not much bothering to drive very safely, but then again there weren't that many people on the road. When he got there, he was relieved to find that there were not many people there. Just the cops and that one reporter. Parking the car and running inside, Alfred came up to the front desk.

"I'm sorry to be a bother, but I need to speak with Commissioner James Gordon," Alfred told the receptionist.

She said, "I'm sorry, but he's very busy at the moment, working with a few..."

"This is about Mr. Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne's former ward!" Alfred exclaimed, "It's urgent, I must speak with him!"

"I..." The woman looked at Alfred's pleading face and then nodded, "I'll see what I can do."

Alfred breathed a sigh of relief and answered, "Thank you ma'am. My name is Alfred Pennyworth, he should know me."

Inside the Police Department, Gordon came back into his office with Bullock. Dick looked up as Gordon went to his desk and threw a phone up at Bullock.

"You'll call him?" He asked.

"That or I'll get Maggie to," Bullock answered.

"Fine, just, do it," Gordon said, his exhaustion apparent.

Dick sat up and looked over at him, "Call who, Commissioner?"

Gordon looked over at Dick and was about to answer when the phone rang. Picking it up, Gordon answered, "Yes?"

"Commissioner, there's a Mr. Alfred Pennyworth here to see you," The receptionist said.

Gordon bit his lip and sighed, "All right, send him up to my office."

As he hung up Dick stood up, "Alfred's here?"

"Dick..." Gordon started, "Listen, this is going to much easier for all of us if you and Alfred cooperate."

"Huh?" Dick asked, but he didn't get an answer as at that moment, Alfred came up to the office, as though he had just sprinted.

"Master Dick!" He exclaimed.

"Hi, Alfred," Dick answered.

"Mr. Pennyworth," Gordon said, "As I just finished telling Dick, I would greatly appreciate it if both of you cooperated with us today."

"Well, certainly," Alfred answered.

Gordon raised a brow, but decided to forget about it for the moment as he wasn't sure if he was ready for the argument that would break out.

Almost on cue, Bullock ran back in, followed shortly by Sawyer, "He's on his way, Commissioner."

"Thank you Sawyer," Gordon said, "Would you both stay for a few minutes?"

The two officers nodded and closed the door, making Dick nervous. Who were they talking about anyway?

"Dick, in light of what has happened to both Ms. Kane and Mr. Wayne, we have a responsibility to place you in the proper care of an appointed guardian," Gordon explained.

Dick understood and let Gordon continue, "As it was, Ms. Kane had been officially appointed as your guardian when Bruce died. That being said, her will is what we are to follow, as stated in Bruce's will..."

"What?" Dick asked, "But he..."

The three police officers looked away. They knew what this was. Sawyer was silently fuming that Gordon had kept them in here while Bullock was just sick of the whole thing in general. He could only imagine what was running through Dick's head at this point.

"You mean..." Dick started, but he couldn't finish that, "I... I don't know anyone that was related to Ms. Kane! I only know about her sons and I haven't even seen a picture of them. That's not fair!"

"I'm afraid that I must agree," Alfred said, indignantly, "All of this, actually, seems competely wrong to me. I was nearly certain that I was within the will of Master Wayne as were others – Mr. Kent, even you, Commissioner."

Gordon sighed, "I know. You don't think I like this, do you?"

Dick cast his gaze down and away. Of course, he knew that Gordon didn't want to do this. He knew that. But at this point, he sort of wished that none of them had to deal with that.

"According to Ms. Kane's will, those under her care and responsibility were to go into the custody of a Mr. Grant Wilson, a close associate that used to serve with her in the US Army. That means, inclusively, you, Dick," Gordon said, "Alfred, Dick, please understand that this is not a decision I've made lightly, nor would any court."

"But why can't I live with Alfred?" Dick asked, "I'm sixteen! Can't I choose?"

"Not really, kid," Sawyer stepped in, "After the recent events, the judge would be more concerned for your safety than your preference."

"And Mr. Wilson's profile with the law is outstanding," Bullock added, "You'd really have a tough time convincing the judge that you'd be safe in Wayne Manor, no offense, Mr. Pennyworth."

"I take none," Alfred said, "But, still, this will nonsense is preposterous. I'd like to read the will myself, at this point."

"Mr. Pennyworth, I'm sorry, truly. If there was anything I could do, I would have done it," Gordon explained.

He looked over at Dick who had sat down and was refusing to look at him. With a sigh, he added, "Dick, I don't like any of this, but I promise you, nothing else is going to happen."

None of them thought that Dick really heard him. But he did. And the idea that nothing else was going to happen seemed more like a lie. Yeah, sure, nothing else was going to happen. Bruce was dead. Ms. Kane was missing, probably dead too. All that didn't mean anything. Yeah, sure. Ms. Kane was a professional fighter, a soldier. And Bruce... he was Batman! And Batman, the Dark Knight... He was gone. That meant everything was going to happen. Gotham was going to get worse and nothing would ever get better. He couldn't save Ms. Kane. And right now, he couldn't do anything about this either.

Sawyer and Bullock slowly left the room. It was a bit of a relief for both of them, to get out of such a tense situation. However, they didn't get very far down the hall when Sawyer stopped, causing Harvey to bump into her.

"What?" He asked.

That's when he saw who she was looking at. A man in a business suit and trench coat came walking down the hall, looking from door to door. While certainly not very young, the man wasn't old either. His hair was blonde, slightly gray, and it covered part of his right eye. He looked tired and despite the slouch, he was still quite tall and well built. At the site of Maggie's gaze, the man smiled and walked over to her.

"Um, I'm sorry to bother you, but, my name's Grant Wilson, and I got a call about a friend, Adeline?" He asked.

Maggie blushed slightly, "Uh, um, yes, Commissioner Gordon would like to speak with you."

"Yeah," Bullock said, "He's down two doors on the left."

Wilson smiled and nodded, "Thank you."

As Wilson walked past them, Bullock looked between Wilson and Sawyer and asked, "What's the goo-goo eyes for?"

That snapped her out of it in a second's notice, "Huh? What? I, I didn't say anything."

"Yeah, yeah, your eyes spoke volumes, Maggie," Bullock told her as they continued to walk down the hall.

Gordon and Alfred looked up at the knock on the door. Gordon got up and answered it, letting the newcomer in.

"Mr. Wilson, I'm assuming?" Gordon asked.

"Yes, I'm Grant Wilson, it's good to meet you," Wilson said with a small smile, "And you're Commissioner Gordon?"

"Yes, I am," Gordon answered, "I'm sorry for this abruptness, Mr. Wilson, but with everything going on..."

"It's fine, I was nearby, anyway," Mr. Wilson told them, "So what is this all about. The person I spoke to said something about Adeline Kane?"

"Yes, well, Ms. Kane has recently gone missing... likely dead, considering everything..." Gordon told him.

"Dead?" Wilson asked, "Are you serious?"

"Very, Mr. Wilson," Gordon answered.

Wilson took a step back, "That... What?"

Gordon shook his head, "I'm sorry that you have to hear about it this way, but the reason we called you is because of Ms. Kane's will and the urgency of the matter."

"Her will?" Wilson asked.

"Yes, you are aware that you were listed in her will as the caretaker of her sons, are you not?" Gordon asked.

"Well, yes, but, to my knowledge, her boys have left the house, so why..." Wilson began, but Gordon nodded over to the side where Dick sat.

For a moment, the facade was dropped from Slade's face and a small ironic smile came to his face. But no one noticed. Dick finally looked up at the man. At the site of him, Dick locked on with the visible eye that wasn't hidden by the man's, Wilson's, hair. Almost instantaneously, Dick felt himself tense and he gulped down a bit of... fear? Wilson broke the gaze when he turned back to Gordon for an explanation.

"Ms. Kane recently was given recent custody of Dick Grayson, former ward of Bruce Wayne," Gordon explained, "Our two options now are we can give custody either to the state or to you."

"Me?" Wilson asked.

"Yes, Mr. Wilson, you see, our ideal position would be to place Dick in the care of someone with a respectable record and not to someone randomly picked out of a filing cabinet," Gordon continued.

"Well, Commissioner, I'd hardly go as far as calling my record respectable – I just served in the Army," Wilson told him, "But I can understand the situation..."

Slade looked over at Alfred, who was still not entirely happy with the situation, "Am I missing something?"

Alfred finally spoke up, "I'm sorry, Mr. Wilson, I'm sure you've got a good record and are a good person and all of that, but, let me explain. I used to work for Mr. Wayne as his butler and all of this bother with Dick's welfare has been quite troublesome as it's been a messy situation ever since Master Wayne's death. Originally, I and others believed that someone... closer to Master Wayne than Ms. Kane would end up taking care of Dick. That has yet to happen."

"Oh, I see," Wilson stated, sympathetically, "Well, eh..."

"Alfred Pennyworth," Alfred filled in.

"Mr. Pennyworth," Wilson included, "I'm deeply sorry about all of this."

"We're sorry that we have to bring you into all of this, actually," Gordon added to Wilson, "But here's our real question, would you be willing to take care of Dick for the time being?"

Slade looked over at Dick, finally noticing that the boy hadn't taken his eyes off of him. His answer was obvious.

"I wouldn't mind at all," Wilson stated, "I've got a couple guest bedrooms available."

Looking over at Alfred, he insisted, "I promise, Mr. Pennyworth, I'll take the best of care of Dick. You can visit whenever you'd like, as long as I'm not on a business trip, of course. That would be quite difficult."

Alfred eyed Wilson, but nodded. What else could he really ask for? Slade smiled and then looked back at Dick. The boy's eyes were still on him. They weren't... angry or suspicious, though. The boy looked more so confused and maybe even a little hurt. He could understand why. There wasn't much thought given to any of this, now, was there? Well, actually, there was quite a lot of time and money and energy planned into this on his end, but not on everyone else's part.

"Well, then," Gordon said, pulling at the collar of his shirt, "On behalf of the city officials, thank you."

"No problem," Wilson again told them, "Do you want me to take him now or later or...?"

Gordon looked over at Dick in question. Dick gulped and glanced over at Alfred, whose face was grim in defeat. After a moment of consideration, Dick got to his feet, a bag in his hand and shrugged. Gordon took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.

"I suppose now, if that's possible. We've already got all Grayson's belongs," Gordon responded.

Wilson nodded and walked over to Dick, "Can I help you with your stuff, Dick?"

Dick glanced up at Wilson for a moment. His voice was firm, but calm, almost gently nudging him to get his things. Dick handed him a suitcase, before turning to Alfred. Alfred gave him a small look of regret, but welcomed the hug that Dick gave him quickly.

"Do not worry, Master Dick, I'm sure you're in good hands – I will see you soon," Alfred told him comfortingly.

Dick nodded and walked over to the door where Wilson was, following the man out the door and down the halls of the police department. There was an awkward silence between them. It wasn't like being with Ms. Kane, where they'd just start with some small talk and work their way up to a normal conversation. This was more like they just didn't talk. Getting to the car, Wilson brought Dick's stuff around to the trunk and unlocked the car. Dick got in the passenger's seat and Wilson got in the driver's seat seconds after. Taking his phone out of his pocket, Wilson dialed a number.

"Hello? Hi, Sherry, it's Grant," Slade said, faking the phone call, "Could you do me a favor and tell them I'm going to be a bit late today? I've had to deal with a family emergency… You can? Thank you. I'll see you in a couple hours then, all right? All right, bye."

Dick didn't look up at Wilson. Slade tried to keep his attention focused on the road, but it was becoming very difficult to do so. Finally, after all of this time, here he was, sitting in the car, driving a compliant Dick Grayson, the boy under the mask, to his house under the legal confines of the system. How he loved democracy. The boy's face was sullen and he remained quiet, his attention on his shoes. He'd have to work on that. He couldn't have the boy unhappy. Or at least, remain unhappy for the time being and under these circumstances.

In general, Adeline seemed to have done a good job in keeping the boy healthy. Despite the baggy pants and the loose shirt, Slade could tell that Dick was still very fit, perhaps a bit skinny, but overall, he was in good shape. The one thing that Slade had to keep in mind often times was that Dick was naturally thin thanks to his heritage, which he had now confirmed as a fact. Still though, some of that couldn't be natural – the boy wasn't eating that much, was he? Adeline couldn't watch him all the time, with her job that is, so he couldn't blame her for it. Dick had a… tendency, both as Robin and as Dick, to not eat as much as he should. He'd work on that with the boy.

In terms of countenance, Dick's face was still pretty hard to read at this point. Slade knew that the boy was still in a bit of shock after what had happened with Adeline, but he could still pull out some things that were more from the effects of time than what had just happened. The boy's eyes sagged, he was tired, like he hadn't slept well in ages, and he was quiet, not saying a word or even bothering to notice everything. It was like he was just going with it. That… was something Slade couldn't quite tell as to whether or not he liked that yet.

But still, out of all the things that Slade took note of was the boy's true face. For the past two years, he had known the masked face of Robin the Boy Wonder to be his enemy. Now, seeing who was under that mask, it was almost surprising – he couldn't look away without forcibly reminding himself that he had to. The boy's blue eyes were stunning with emotion, it was evidently obvious, and yet they were all closed off.

Slade gripped the wheel of the car. He had to say something at this point, so it wasn't so awkward, "Dick… I'm sorry about all this."

Dick shrugged slightly, "I… No, I'm sorry. It's not your fault that you've been dragged into this."

Wilson smiled slightly before continuing, "It's not really a problem for me…. Dick, the one thing I'm really confused about… what's the story behind all of this?"

Dick's eyes were glued to his shoes, "When Wayne died, something happened with his will or I guess it was a mistake made a long time ago, but somehow, I was supposed to go into the care of his cousin, Ms. Kane. So now that she's…. gone, I don't know. I guess they follow her will now…"

Wilson shook his head, "The law's odd like that."

"Yeah, I guess…" Dick commented.

Dick eyed Wilson. He hadn't taken much time to really look at him before. He was older – probably around Bruce's age. He had a goatee that was roughly trimmed and a few of his bangs fell in his face. The man looked like he had been the army, especially with the way he held himself. His jaw line was very defined and he also had broad shoulders. Somehow, that didn't come as a surprise either. For some reason, Dick felt a slight eerie sensation. He felt almost out of place, like he shouldn't be there. Then again, he didn't really want to be there, anyway…

They headed into uptown Gotham where Slade got off the main roads and started heading down the rows of townhouses, eventually pulling up to a light brown one a few stories tall. Parking the car, Wilson got out and opened the trunk to get out Dick's things. Dick got out and looked up at the townhouse. It wasn't very different from the ones surrounding it, but it looked well kept from what he could tell. Wilson handed him a suitcase and walked up the small flight of steps.

"Do you share this house?" Dick asked.

"Nope, it's all one place," Wilson told him, taking out a key and opening the front door.

Upon walking inside, Dick had to stop and marvel and the inside. It was much wider than it had appeared to be outside. The place held a modern grandeur, but at the same time, a very classic appeal to it. The kitchen was mostly silver plated while the front room held a fireplace, apparently an entertainment room or something – it was built for leisure. Farther back was another room that he could see, but he'd have to check that out later, as Wilson was carrying his things up the stairs. Hurrying up after him, Dick found a long hallway with six doors.

Wilson walked up to one door and opened it, "You've got your choice, this one or…"

He opened another door, "This one."

Dick looked inside both of them. One was a single bed with a deep red paint and the other had another single bed, but it held a bit more of a old fashioned feel to it. Dick nudged his was over to the red room again and Wilson took that as a sign of decision. He had a feeling he would like this room more. After all, he had designed it to fit Dick's preferences. Dick put his things down and walked to the window.

"I'm sorry it's a little dusty," Wilson admitted, "I don't get too many visitors anymore."

"No, it's fine, thanks," Dick said, turning to him.

"All right then, well, you look like you could use a rest," Wilson told him, "I need to go to the office."

"You're leaving?" Dick asked, surprised, "But, we just got here."

Wilson nodded and with a small chuckle answered, "Unfortunately I do, I have to explain to my boss as to why the one time I need to go into work I come in late. Don't worry. I'll be back as soon as I can."

Slade walked down the hallway and to the steps. Dick watched as Wilson's figure walked out of site as the steps hid him. He heard the door open and close shut. Dick raised a brow. What was that? Come on! What, the guy was just going to drop him off and go to work? Did people just think that he was some problem? Some annoying sheet of paper to be tossed around from owner to owner? Probably. He was supposedly the heir to Bruce's fortune, but really. That was just… Dick growled despite himself. Slamming the door to his new 'new' room shut, Dick walked over to the window, gripping the sides of it tightly.

Was he really this pathetic? Bruce had trusted him. Taught him everything. And he couldn't keep some murderer or some psychotic maniac from getting rid of his own guardian? Twice for that matter! Twice! Dick felt anger at himself begin to burn in his chest. And now he couldn't even figure out why he was now living with some stranger that even Alfred didn't know. No one knew him in fact. They just met the guy and just because he was in the army at one point they trusted him. Dick turned away from the window. To be fair, Wilson seemed like a nice enough guy. But he hardly knew him. All he really knew was that his name was Grant Wilson. Yeah, that helped out a ton. And just because the guy took him in, it didn't give him a good enough reason to like him.

He wanted to go out – the feeling of thrill sounding quite comforting at the moment. But he couldn't do that. Not with Wilson out. He didn't know when the man would come back. Alfred had told him that often times, before Dick came along, he thought that Bruce would go out, not to fight, but to get rid of pain. And to do that, he'd numb himself nearly to the core, become a monster to criminals. Dick could see now why Bruce would do that. As much as it sounded self-destructive, Dick found himself wanting to be something else. Robin. Robin could do so much more than Dick could. Dick was confined, but Robin could be free.

Dick held his head. Now he was separating himself into two people. He couldn't do that. He mustn't do that. He knew how wrong it was. He knew what it would put his associates through. His friends and his family… What family? Dick nearly choked as he caught himself thinking that and wrapped his arms around his chest. He wouldn't think about it. And no matter what, he still couldn't split himself up. He shouldn't do that. It was too unhealthy to do and he needed his health right now. Somehow, he knew deep down, he knew he wasn't convinced.

Dick collapsed on his bed. Bruce was gone. Ms. Kane was gone. He knew there had to be a connection. He'd start searching for it the chance he got out and maybe, just maybe, the connection would lead him to something much greater. Like the person who was responsible for their deaths and or disappearance.

A strong sense of compulsive lust for vengeance suddenly overcame Dick's mind. He thought of Bruce. Of everything. Of being a kid kneeling in the small pools of blood from his parents' dead bodies and seeing Bruce watching him from a distance. Of taking the oath, becoming Robin. Of running through the city, stopping criminals. To a great extent, he had fun doing it, especially on those rare occasions when he could get Batman to let a smile slip. And finally, finally to the day he left, unable to satisfy Batman's standards and qualifications. In the long run, he had failed him. He couldn't do that again. He wouldn't do that again.

Perhaps it was the headache that came from thinking over everything, but Dick found his eyes dropping till they closed shut. A cool wind swept past his window. Outside, about a mile away, Slade sat in the car rubbing his fake eye, careful to keep the make up in place. It was at least a ten minute job to redo it. The one thing that was probably the creepiest thing though, throughout it all, was that he was smiling. Like, actually smiling without stopping after the first two seconds.

It didn't leave and Slade chuckled at how easy this all was. He'd really have to drop Luthor a thank you note or a gift basket for all of this. Glancing at the clock, Slade decided to go get what he'd need for dinner. He drove off down the road, along with other cars. He was hidden in the mass of cars and trucks, a traffic jam, no doubt, but really, he liked Gotham. Once this was all over, he'd have to visit a lot more often. A lot more.

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