Part Six: Family
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Reaching for Safety
struggled in a thick darkness, the cold creeping and slowly attempting
to latch onto his fingers and around his neck. His face stung as though
he had been slapped. In flashes that came and went, he could see a
bright orange mass and glowing red dots. His ears were ringing. He
squirmed against the ooze that seemed to surround him like a huge amount
The light hit his eyes and he squinted. Maybe he
should just let them close. He could hear blurred sounds in the
background. He just wanted to sleep... Wow, he was sore. What hit him?
He squinted again and saw purple and tan skin... His thoughts stopped.
He turned his head upwards. A face caught his eyes, which widened as
clarity came to him.
"Star...?" He began.
He saw her
surprised face turn to a smiling one. He felt her hand on the top of his
head and realized that he was lying on a few chairs with his head on
her lap. A blanket covered him. There was a clicking sound in the
"Where... where am... I?" He asked.
"We are in
the Department of Police of the City of Gotham," She replied, and for
the first time in a long time, he smiled at her version of the English
"What... what happened?" He asked her this time, still tense.
police arrived after the explosion," Starfire explained, "The out was
knocked from you, but Superman and Wonder Woman were unharmed and soon
found you before the police did..."
That's when Robin noticed, the mask was gone from his face, "They, no one... knows then?"
"I do not believe so," Starfire told him, "Superman and Wonder Woman insisted on staying here until the work of paper is done."
"Then... Slade is..." Robin started.
Starfire nodded, "I searched with Wonder Woman for an hour and could not find him."
nodded, but felt slightly disoriented. He decided to try and sit up,
hoping that Starfire couldn't detect his apparent shaken exterior. With
some help from Starfire, he managed to do so, but his head still ached.
Across the room, Gordon noticed that Dick was waking up and briskly came
"Dick?" He asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Little dizzy... and sore... but I'm okay," Dick said, not really registering everything.
Gordon nodded in understanding, "Are you up for answering any questions?"
Dick shook his head slightly, hoping to avoid any more discomfort, "Not... not really... but I will if you need me to..."
alright, we can ask you later," Gordon said, "I need to deal with the
photographers and news crew, but I'll be back soon, son."
nodded for him as Dick felt that doing so himself would force him to
lie back down. Photographers... How in the world? Oh, of course, it was
because of Superman and Wonder Woman, wasn't it? How often do
superheroes other than Batman hang out at the G.C.P.D.? He then
noticed that he was still wearing the torn uniform underneath the
blanket. What a great front page that would be... He pulled the blanket
over him more tightly. He shivered.
"Um, Dick?" Starfire said, "I called the others; they're on the roof to avoid... the photographers."
thank you," Dick said, then let out what he hoped was a loose laugh, "I
can't tell you guys how much I missed you... Who... who are they
handing me off to this time?"
"Mr. Pennyworth; he is in the other
room with a Ms. Leslie talking to Mr. Bullock. Everything can go back to
the normal..." Starfire answered carefully, noticing Robin's rather hidden, but clearly despairing and sarcastic tone.
Dick smiled thinking back to
how things were before this whole mess and then he frowned slightly. He
attempted to block out the fear that tried to arise from the back of his
mind, "Well, not everything... but enough."
There was silence for a minute before he thought to speak again, "Um, Starfire? What happened to Ms. Kane?"
Starfire furrowed her brows, "Ms. Kane was in the vicinity?"
He looked at her, immediately alert, "Yes, she, yeah, she was. You didn't find her?"
Starfire shook her head no and Dick continued, "Then where..."
yet there wasn't an answer for him to receive. She could be anywhere...
Outside the offices of the G.C.P.D., news crew continued to snap away
and record everything that they could while Wonder Woman and Superman
stood firmly rooted in the doorway.
"At this rate," Wonder Woman stated, "He'll be here any minute to blow this place up to the watchtower."
Woman," Superman began, "It's not my fault that a squad of police cars
had the sirens wailing behind us when we got here, so if we could focus
on the situation at hand..."
It was amazing how persistent these
people could be. Superman recalled that there was a code of ethics that
they supposedly were to follow, but it seemed that those often were lost
in the heat of the moment.
"Excuse me, but if you could back up," He called, trying to create some space, "The photos that you have will
not do you any good because of the windows' coatings..."
"Like that will help," Wonder Woman muttered.
"Well, if you have any... suggest...ions..." Superman stuttered to a stop.
eyes focused on an area of the crowd where people were parting. A tall
man came into view and Superman's jaw dropped. He scanned him to make
sure it wasn't a trick. Wonder Woman elbowed him in the side.
"Superman, could you help me for just a moment..."
"Diana!" He shot and then eyed the newcomer.
Woman looked over instantly at the sound of her name and then felt
herself freeze. The man walked up to them both, looking at them
"May I?" He asked.
Superman nodded and
looked at Wonder Woman as though asking if he could go in as well. She
nodded and they both went inside. The man found Sawyer talking on the
phone to the hospital.
"How much of an emergency is this, officer?" Sawyer asked, "We're kind of strained here right now."
"Ms. Sawyer, listen, Ms. Kane, she was delivered here tonight! She's in the emergency room in critical condition, but..."
The man taped Sawyer on the shoulder.
"What, what is it?" She asked, irritated and then she instantly gasped, "You... you..."
"Where's Dick?" He asked.
around the corner," She knew that her eyes were twice their regular
size, but at this point, she felt that she deserved some slack.
"Thank you," He said and continued.
in the office began to stop and look. Silence came over the room. The
man rounded the corner and saw Dick sitting next to Starfire in silence.
He looked worn out and tired, and for once his spiky hair was down and
flat. He noticed that the two held each others' hands out of immediate
sight. He paused in his footsteps and felt guilt for not... doing
anything. He couldn't wait any longer. It wasn't fair or just...
He finally spoke, "Dick."
whole room froze. Dick tensed and felt Starfire's gaze look up and over
him. He heard her gasp and very slowly, he turned his head and looked
up as well. His eyes, he felt were deceiving him. This couldn't... How?
He stood up, confused and hesitant to believe anything. The man felt
himself smile upon seeing the obvious distrust, but also the earnest
hope in Dick's face, something that would never leave his personality.
The man sighed and spoke, "Alright, I always wanted a husky when I was a kid."
The quirky secret that only they knew. Dick smiled, "Bruce."
wasn't sure how, but he felt his feet move and he ran into Bruce's arms
and buried his face in the man's chest. And for the first time, in a
long time, Bruce returned the hug and held Dick tightly. Alfred and
Leslie came out to see and Gordon watched in disbelief. The unbelievable
had happened. Superman and Starfire smiled and watched the reunited
father and son share a moment, a much-needed moment, in which they were
only aware of one another.
Shock, regret, relief. A mixture of
emotions, but neither minded. Bruce was alive. Dick was okay. That was
what was important right then. That and nothing else. For an instant,
Dick was free from fear. Nothing could harm him. Nothing. He felt...
Finally, they parted and Dick questioned, "How... how are you?"
rescued me," He said, winking (code for 'I'll explain later'), "He
kept me down in the Batcave for the last few months. Said he was
tracking a lead and wanted me out of the picture for a while."
Bruce looked Dick over, "You look like a mess."
Dick laughed, and eyed Bruce's hair, which was not quite as long as it use to be, "I'm not the only one."
Bruce smiled, a rare occurrence and turned to face Gordon, "Commissioner, you look flustered."
Gordon slowly nodded, "A bit, a bit, it's uh, good to see you alive, Mr. Wayne."
"Ha, good to be alive," Bruce said.
I, I'd think so," Gordon shook his head trying to regain a sense of
normalcy, though considering everything, that didn't seem likely, "So,
did I hear right? Batman kept you locked up for the past few months?"
it was fine on my part," Bruce said, making sure to keep Gordon from
thinking that Batman had kidnapped him, "He finally let me out after
learning about Dick's condition."
"Well, that's uh, that's good to
hear. We were planning on taking him to the hospital as soon as the
papers were written up..." Gordon started when Alfred and Leslie came
"Master Bruce!" Alfred exclaimed, astonished.
"Hi Alfred," Bruce said, "Leslie."
Leslie brought her hands to her face, "Oh, Bruce, I can't believe it!"
shrugged as she ran over and hugged him. She pulled away back to Alfred
and Bruce turned to Gordon again, "Commissioner, would it be alright if
I took Dick home to Wayne Manor? Leslie is a highly capable doctor and I
trust her that she can take care of him better than any hospital can."
looked between the four people surrounding him. From Alfred, to Leslie,
to Dick, to Bruce. He sighed, "Well, I believe legally that shouldn't
be a problem. And it's up to you whether he goes to the hospital, but we
will need him to come in for questioning at another time."
fine with that, right Dick?" Bruce said, putting a hand lightly on
Dick's shoulder, just in case there might be a bruise there. Dick
"I'd check with the capes, too," Gordon said, "They've
been like hawks since the incident and frankly, it might just be best to
keep him here after what happened..."
Bruce looked over at Clark, who nodded, "It's alright on our end as long as we can tag along for a bit, just for security."
"I appreciate it... Dick, you ready to go home?" Bruce said.
Dick smiled and nodded, "Yeah."
"Alfred, would you bring the car around?" Bruce asked.
"Of course sir," Alfred said.
stood up and followed the four remaining to the front. Somehow, despite
the photographers and news crew, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Starfire
managed to make a path for Bruce, Dick, and Leslie, while simultaneously
keeping people back. It was like they had become security against the
papparazzi. Gordon already had men outside, however, keeping people back
as they got to the car. The three entered while the three capes flew up
into the sky. The four Titans on the roof met up with them.
"What's going on?" Cyborg asked.
"We are heading to the Manor of the Wayne's," Starfire informed them.
"So Alfred got the all clear?" Beast Boy asked, emerging from his hawk form to be caught by Starfire.
"No, Mr. Wayne did," Starfire smiled.
Raven hid her own, "I wondered why Dick suddenly felt so... positive, I guess."
snapped away, hoping for the shot that would be on tomorrow's front
page. They already knew what the headlines would read. But strangely,
that wasn't what made Dick feel... uncomfortable. It was being out in
the open... Once they had entered the car though, Dick found himself
unaware of the paparazzi and a bit more secure. Alfred drove the car
like before. Leslie was in the front with him and Bruce in the back. No
one asked any questions. They just let things be. Dick leaned against
Bruce's arm, fatigue plaguing him. His eyes closed. Bruce watched him
out of the corner of his eye.
It was... unexpected, Dick's
behavior. After everything he had done... it could be deemed an
incredibly self-centered action. And he should have realized what was
happening sooner, but he didn't. In the past, he had realized that his
work cost him relationships, friends... and yet there were always a few
that stayed. How Dick managed to be one of them... he wasn't quite sure.
arrived at Wayne Manor and Dick lifted his head up. They got out and
were accompanied inside by the JLA and the Titans, all of which said
something to their respective teammate from Gotham, before stopping in
the main room. Bruce turned to Leslie.
"Could you take Dick up to his room and bandage him up?" Bruce asked.
"Wait a second," Diana demanded, "We deserve some explanations, Bruce. Right, Clark?"
Bruce looked over at Clark who gave a brief nod of agreement, "It would be rather nice..."
"Yeah, at least explain to us how you're not dead," Cyborg challenged.
enough, Bruce didn't glare down at Dick's teammate and sighed. "Very
well, but considering Dick's condition, he needs to get some rest, so
I'll make this short."
Despite hearing the word 'short', everyone present slouched a bit for the story. That's what explanations did sometimes...
"How, how did you live?" Dick asked, "I saw you... get shot... and then the fire..."
Bruce looked down at his ward and answered, "With some preparation and with Fox's help."
"Fox knew you were alive?" Alfred asked.
he didn't, but he is responsible for how I survived the bullets," Bruce
replied, "Military and police personnel already have bullet proof
vests, but it's not a perfect design. It can still shatter and the
shattering metal can kill for the bullet if you're really unlucky. Fox
designed a light electric vest that when on, remedies this problem,
"Magnetics?" Diana asked.
repels the bullet so that it slows down enough so that by the time it
hits your chest, it doesn't have enough momentum to injure you," Bruce
explained, "It does this at almost the speed of sound and starts to slow
the bullets about a foot away from you. Once they hit you they're
magnetically stuck to the vest. No harm done."
"But what about the
blood? And I saw those things come... out... of your chest..." Dick
said, resisting the urge to remember the images.
"That's the other
part of the design," Bruce stated, "Fox knew that even if the design
could save your heart or lungs, it couldn't save the rest of you. You
can still die from a bullet in your thigh or arm and if your opponent
doesn't see you bleeding, he's likely to keep shooting until he does."
"So you created... a fake out?" Raven supplemented.
Bruce said, "Inside the chest are compartments that release red fluid
through a thin grate once the bullet is stuck to the plate. It's
accurate thanks to sensors that detect the highest concentration of
electrical magnetic energy. Each sensor has a corresponding side on the
other side. It also releases the liquid, but in addition, it shoots out
what could be mistaken as a bullet, creating the illusion that the
bullet passed through the person's chest."
"And you were wearing this the whole time?" Clark asked, dumbfounded by how Bruce could call that a 'short' explanation.
"Yes, it's still too expensive for the military and... as always... I requested a personal prototype," Bruce stated.
"And you didn't get one for Robin?" Beast Boy asked.
take a while to make," Bruce told them, "I figured the most dangerous
criminals would shoot at me to get me out of the way. If that happened,
it would give Dick time to retreat. However, one was in the process of
being made for you and should have been done by the end of that week."
Dick nodded, "And then the... fire?"
"Simple," Bruce said, "Vaseline. Or rather, a very dense thin concentration of Vaseline."
"Care to explain that one?" Diana asked.
a little known fact that Vaseline will keep your skin from burning for
one minute, two, max when next to a fire; it creates a barrier between
you and the flames. I knew that we were dealing with a pyromaniac, so
for a while, I'd been coating my face and hands in a very thin layer of
it, just as a precaution, considering my social standing. Alfred noticed
how it was affecting my skin negatively at one point, actually," Bruce
"Oh, yes, I remember that," Alfred trailed off.
you didn't go to public events with me, Dick, I didn't give you any
either," Bruce told him, "I used it only for work and public
events...didn't save all of my hair, though."
The group glanced at
his black hair which, as Dick had noted earlier, wasn't particularly
straight and at some points incredibly short. It earned a few smiles
before Bruce turned the conversation back to a more serious tone.
"Now, Leslie, will you take Dick up to his room and fix him up? I'll send someone up later," Bruce told her.
Dick turned to him instantly, "Wait, you still..."
"You'll get your answers, Dick," Bruce said, hoping to calm him down, "What I'd like you to do now is go up and get your rest."
Boy Wonder glared at him for a moment, slightly agitated that he hadn't
heard the whole story, but mainly it was the pit in his stomach that
was bothering him. Leslie walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Come on, dear," She said.
Dick nodded and began to walk up the steps towards his room. His
room... it was... comforting, to say the least. The rest watched before
Bruce immediately turned and headed for his study. The remaining heroes
"You think it's safe to leave him up there?" Diana asked.
the security system in this house, we have a few minutes of warning
time before anyone can get to Dick's room," Bruce told her, "I have
someone I'll send up within that amount of time."
"Who?" Beast Boy asked.
followed Bruce down the staircase, Clark being slightly cautious after
his and Diana's last visit there. The Titans' eyes scanned the place,
this being their first time in the Batcave. They didn't have much time
to look around, however, as footsteps alerted them to the presence of
another person there.
"Well, did you get your kid back?"
eyes turned to the newcomer who was dressed in a recognizable black
skin tight cat suit. Half of those mouths dropped. The women kept their
"He's upstairs. I'd like you to go up to his room and guard
him for a few hours or so. I'll send someone to relieve you," Bruce
said, loosening his shirt to reveal part of the Batsuit underneath.
"Fine," Catwoman said, "Have fun with the dead guy, everyone."
With that, she sulkily left leaving the JLA members and the Titans extremely shocked. Clark was the first to say anything.
"You let HER know before the rest of us that you were okay?" He asked, "Why did you even stay hidden in the first place?"
I became a target, I realized that these arson attacks were far from
random. I started searching and found many of the victims had links to
the Wayne family through financial means. Some were through charities,
others contracts, but they all led to points of power in Wayne
Enterprises, many of which were probably forgotten to most. Anyone who
didn't have a business relation was in the way, so to speak," Bruce told
"So... it was about Wayne Enterprises?" Diana finished.
that's what I originally guessed, anyway," Bruce stated. "On that lead,
I figured that whoever was behind this was likely a business competitor
who had been refused some sort of deal. Top of the list for that was
Lex Luthor. That being said, it was to my advantage to let him think
that I was dead as he'd be more likely to slip up."
started, "Excuse me for a moment, but did Luthor want something from
you that would have been necessary to create that machine Superman and I
fought in Metropolis?"
"That's exactly what it was," Bruce said,
pulling up on the computer screens a design with the label 'Project
Xenomineral', "This machine would take radioactive pieces of foreign
matter and reconfigure it as solar energy. Luthor must have figured out
how to instead increase the output of the mineral's energy instead of
convert it to solar energy. In this case, it was kryptonite."
resisted the urge to fume as Bruce finished, "I monitored who Robin's
guardian was the entire time. Originally, I had planned that Alfred was
to be his guardian, but when Adeline received guardianship, I wasn't too
concerned, since we were cousins. I noted when his guardianship was
given to Wilson as well, but I didn't see any signs of a Grant Wilson
being any trouble. It wasn't until after Luthor's attacks on Metropolis
that I realized that something wasn't right."
"Such as?" Beast Boy said sarcastically.
couldn't contact Robin when I tried to," Bruce said, pulling the mask
on, "That never happens. He always has his communicator with him. I
tried several times with no response. In the meantime, I searched up
Wilson's history. His company records turned up fake, his name forged,
and finally, Adeline's and my own will had been tampered with. When I
checked those who had been killed, almost all of them had a link to my
will or my parents' will regarding custody or guardianship of minors."
will was changed only in terms of Wilson's first name change to keep
everything straight so that he could still claim custody of Dick,"
Batman continued, "Based on that and Adeline's disappearance, I searched
for property records of Wilson's. He had more than you'd expect, to say
the least. It looked like he owned a business himself."
"That's what Ollie found odd about him, too," Clark said.
found their location around the same time," Batman finished, "Slade had
stored mass amounts of weapons below and I set a bomb up to blow it sky
high. I got Adeline to safety and once you were present, I let the bomb
run out of time. It wouldn't be enough to obliterate anyone, but it
would provide a chance to separate everyone. I would have gone and
gotten Robin, but you got there before I did. That being said, I took
Adeline to the hospital and went straight for the Police Department."
"You don't mind that Slade knows you're alive now?" Raven questioned.
"No, I want him to know I don't die easily," Batman stated.
if I'm following you, we couldn't know you were alive because it would
have given that information away then to whoever was behind the
murders?" Cyborg asked.
Batman gave a brief nod.
"Oh come on!" Cyborg yelled, "This is... This is, really... I hate these ninja-like tactics!"
used to it," Batman said, "I had Catwoman begin to help me a few weeks
into December so that I could avoid the spotlight if I ever needed to go
"But the Catwoman was fine because she was on neither side?" Starfire asked.
"Yes," Batman answered.
"Do you think Slade will come after him again?" Superman asked.
"Probably, but as for when, I'm not sure," Batman stated, "I'd say sometime when Dick is still incredibly weakened."
"So... soon?" Raven filled in.
"I have set the estate on high alert, sir," Alfred said.
"Speaking of which," Wonder Woman interrupted, "Thanks for locking us out of the Batcave."
should know I have defenses like that," Batman told her, "But I do
apologize, I was at another base of mine in the city, and thus those
defenses were on a higher level than normal."
"Bruce," Clark said, "Please, never do that again."
luck with making me do that," Batman said, and Clark could swear that
if it wasn't for his demeanor, Batman would have been smiling.
quiet monitor beeped away, telling her that her heart was still
beating. In some ways, she wished that it wouldn't. Her body ached and
her stomach seemed to have been lost at some point. At least the bed was
soft. She was in a hospital, Gotham General Hospital to be precise...
It was warm in the room, or rather, a good temperature. Not too cold,
not too hot. She hoped that she could somehow just doze and slumber...
breeze hit her face and she tightened her eyes. Did the vent just turn
on? She heard footsteps, but something was wrong. There was no sign of a
light being turned on. And the shoes.. had metal rims? A hand came to
her face and suddenly she heard the monitor speed up a bit. Before she
could open her eyes, though, she felt lips against her own. She wanted
to panic, but was too tired to do so. Her eyes opened and she saw a
figure, the outline was fuzzy, but she knew who it was.
the kiss, "I promise, I'll fix this. I'll make up for tearing up our
family. I'll give you one that you can finally have. I promise, Addie."
She wanted to tell him, 'no', but she could only groan. He moved a few strands of hair away from her face.
"Get better," Slade told her.
barely caught a glimpse of him as he climbed out of the window and into
the night, off to do who knew what. She had to warn them. She had to
get a hold of Batman. But she physically couldn't and it made her want