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Old 01-01-2016, 06:47 PM   #1
Herba Mystica
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...I started writing Batman fanfiction.

Lord help me.

Some of these have actually been completed for quite a while, but I've been nervous to post them for a number of reasons. Finally decided to go ahead and add a couple for now - namely because one of them ties into the holiday.

Oh, and in case you couldn't guess: They're all related to Return of the Joker (although not necessarily to each other). If you haven't seen the movie, spoilers beware.

I'll be compiling all one-shots within this thread so as not to spam. Read them at your own risk, I guess.

All characters © Batman: The Animated Series

Table of Contents

Clean Break
For Old Times' Sake
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:48 PM   #2
Herba Mystica
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Clean Break

Tim learned to clean.

When he was lucid enough to comprehend his surroundings and walk around the mansion without assistance, he began to follow Alfred around like a shadow, clinging to his every movement. He was still far from ready to face going back to school, and with nothing to do between waiting for sessions with Dr. Thompkins he found himself growing increasingly bored and restless. Trying to watch T.V. or play games gave him a headache, and more often than not the bright colors and graphic violence triggered a relapse episode. Cartoons no longer amused but abused his fragile psyche.

He rarely saw Bruce anymore either. Whenever the old man wasn’t out making public appearances as billionaire Wayne, upon return he disappeared straight into that section of the manor underground Tim would sooner forget existed. Treating each other as ghosts, one retreated into darkness while the other struggled towards the light.

Barbara came to visit sometimes, but she always regarded him with little sideways glances and nervous smiles of apology. It made him queasy, uneasy to be around. It felt like she needed therapy and constant reassurance more than he did. Dick would also call to check in on a regular basis, but they both avoided talking to Bruce. None of them spoke to each other ever since that fight after the first month Dick came back to Gotham. The tension mounting between them only made Tim more agitated. Even though he gleaned the vague unsavory details of what happened (at least as much as his addled adolescent brain could grasp: betrayal, a baby lost in the alley, dead and broken hearts – his “brother” in everything but blood striking to sanctuary in Blüdhaven and never looking back), he couldn’t help attributing fault to himself. The reason he was out on patrol alone that night was because Batman and Batgirl were “busy” after all…

So that left him alone in a large empty house most of the day, with no one but the butler for company. It wasn’t all bad though, since Alfred never showed him pity or penance, merely went about his business as usual. The clockwork consistency was a comfort, a grounded counterforce to the rest of the world crumbling around him, his sanity and “family” falling apart. The fact there was one thing he could count on always staying constant when everything else had changed made the circumstances bearable – if barely.

For the most part, the elderly gentleman didn’t let on to being studied so intently by a silent spectator. Whether he consciously realized it or not, Tim’s coaching still endured in terms of stealth as he tiptoed after Alfred from coverage of one furnishing to the next, as if a bird tracking its prey. Something in him sensed his target was well aware of the ruse, but the charade continued until one day Alfred spoke up without shifting disposition:

“If you are going to stand behind that statue indefinitely, Master Timothy, may I suggest you lend a hand in giving it a good shine?”

He offered out a cloth, never taking his eyes off his task before him. He only detected, after a moment, the damp weight being lifted shakily from his gloved fingers. With slow, careful movements the boy eagerly set to work, appreciative to finally have something to contribute again. As they completed the daily chores together without exchanging words (except for when Alfred had to teach him how to handle particular items or correct Tim’s technique), Alfred could see the young man glowing in a way he had not witnessed in a long time. It felt good to be useful, needed – even if it was in such small measures. Maintaining steady pace with a mentor – a partner. At the end Alfred would proclaim, “I believe that’ll do. Well done, lad,” and gradually the soft pat on Tim’s back, shoulder, and ultimately head was permitted without receiving a cringe of involuntary terror.

Having a routine in Tim’s life aided his recovery, an added structure of support. The repeated motions helped keep his mind off things: clowns and capes, killer smiles – his own leering back at him whenever he looked in the mirror – all clamoring for attention inside his skull. In a way, perhaps, it was a form of self-punishment as well. Sometimes he’d scrub until his knuckles were numb and white (like paint crawling over his skin), and he’d watch them bleed raw until they remind him of a bared grin. Alfred would come by to check on his progress only to find him huddled and shuddering on the floor. He’d gently pick the boy up and bandage his wounds, attending with the same care and focus as when he’d come back from a night on the town with Batman, covered in cuts and bruises but boasting with triumph over defeating the bad guy. He’d recommend Tim take off for the evening, but the youth would stubbornly shake his head, determined to finish the job.

No matter how much he tried to wash away his sins, he felt unclean, impure. Tainted by the Joker’s touch even though according to multiple blood tests the toxin had at last cleared his system. To be declared physically “cured” only augmented the guilt that he could not move past the memory of what he’d done. A part of him was afraid, that he didn’t just break under a madman’s will, but let loose demons that came from deep within. The shocks and serums were merely a placebo that opened up a gate to the blackest pit of his soul.

“People like us, we don’t got no choice.”

His dad was right: He was always worthless, doomed to be a failure. This was what he was meant to be. Not just a petty thief, but a murderer. The son of scum who was simply showing his true colors.

“You’ll be okay, kid. You’ve got something special. Something I never had.”

He wasn’t special; just some kid pretending to play a hero, who paid the price in a man’s life and his family’s pride. He was the bad guy.

The first shot had been aimed for Batman’s head.

He didn’t know it would take two.

On these occasions, Alfred would insist he have a seat in the den and spot a cup with tea with him. He’d regale the boy with stories of his past, secrets of his own. Tim gawked in awe as the modest servant’s yarns unraveled before him, revealing his history of service for the British Intelligence before the Waynes.

“No way. You were a spy?”

“Indeed I was. Mind, my duties consisted mostly of desk work and maintaining diplomatic relations, but I experienced my fair share of dangerous run-ins with terrorists.”

He showed Tim the scars from interrogation attempts. Although they couldn’t compare, the empathy was there.

“Following my leave of Her Majesty’s Government, I took up my childhood passion of acting for a long period. Although I admit I was not very good at it.”

“But… Why would you give it all up just to be a butler?”

“It was my father’s dying will. To follow in his footsteps was not something I had dreamed of, initially, but I have grown accustomed to this lifestyle. It may not be as glamorous as the stage or defending one’s nation, but it is a peaceful and comfortable one. Whilst a healthy dose of adventure is all well and good once in a while, there is no shame in wishing to lead an ordinary life.”

Alfred surveyed the giant portrait commanding over the fireplace, describing a smiling man and woman who Tim knew from name only, yet their haunting presence dominated the entire room.

“Plus, I have had the pleasure and privilege to know some of Gotham’s finest. The former Master Wayne was a doctor, and a good man. Mistress Martha was a philanthropist and devoted mother. Their son grew to be incredibly brave and strong-willed… As have his successors.”

Tim swirled the liquid in his cup.

“I told Master Richard once, when he was considering quitting university to pursue his… ‘other life’ full-time… Even though I knew the theatre was not my calling, I found it quite difficult to leave behind.”

The voice of Nightwing echoed in his mind. Distant, dissonant:

“Seems to me you’ve still got some choosing to do.”

“We all make our choices in life, Master Timothy. Some of us choose to dress as a bat and defend the night. Others choose to support their loved ones during the day. No path one chooses is perfect, and may lead to mistakes that cost us something precious. Though we may heavily regret them, what matters most is the direction those mistakes drive us in.” He took a sip before carrying on. “It is not my place to say what is right, but I am confident of this: Every person who has resided under this roof in this old valet’s lifetime has more than deserved to be called a ‘hero’.”

Tim lingered on the porcelain rim before lifting his gaze to meet Alfred’s.

“Every one,” he agreed solemnly.

A slight beam parted through the cracks of the caretaker’s lips, and he raised his drink to the compliment.

“Cheers, my boy.”


With Leslie’s reluctant approval – and Master Bruce’s tacit acknowledgment – Tim was eventually allowed to accompany Alfred outside on shopping trips (provided he remain under constant supervision). So as not to draw notice, and out of Tim’s personal preference, they often forewent the limo and instead walked to their destination. Although the short excursions always left Tim exhausted afterwards, he enjoyed the fresh air and exercise, getting to see the city of Gotham again. It looked a lot more beautiful bathed in sunlight than he remembered. While he couldn’t stand to be in a crowd or talk to anyone, sitting in the park and watching people go by became one of his favorite pastimes. Alfred always kept proximate, reclining against the resting with a pipe and bowler hat, clearly on his break. They’d buy extra bread along with the groceries to feed the pigeons while Alfred read the newspaper. (Tim tried his best to ignore the headlines; bold type broadcasts bewailing armed robbery and murder, another Arkham and/or Stonegate breakout, rumors and whispers wondering whatever happened to the Joker? Or for that matter, the Batman’s sidekicks? Where were they to help clean up the crime infesting the streets?) Occasionally smaller birds would join the flock, including one with a red breast whose name Tim couldn’t seem to remember off the bat but the sight of it made him sick and he was going to scream he was going to scream don’t you’ll make a scene oh God don’t come closer shoot it shoot it shoot it BANG HAHAHA

A wrinkled hand soothed his, and Tim clutched it tightly until the breathing hysterics ceased. Folks stopped and stared at the sobbing mess on the bench, but Alfred draped his coat around Tim and waved them off, waiting for the hiccups to subside before hailing a taxi to take them home.

As weeks went on, Tim became better at controlling himself in communal spaces, conditioning himself to the everyday sights and sounds that all seemed so overwhelming now. There was one instance though, when they were crossing the sidewalk intersection (Tim striving to concentrate on counting each pallid line of pavement rather than the congestion), and a woman’s shriek erupted as a purse snatcher suddenly shot by. Tim froze in complete shock, eyes wild with conflicted panic. Alfred held him close, quickly steering away to safety on the opposite bank. No one brought up the incident afterward, although Tim knew at that point he could never directly confront a situation like that again – with or without a costume.

A year passed, of making persistent progress until he was deemed “fully fit” to reenter society. Owing to Alfred’s private tutelage and encouragement, he’d managed to catch up on the mountain of homework that he’d missed, and kept on top of the current curriculum so he wouldn’t have to repeat.

There remained another issue, however.

No matter how much semblance of “normalcy” he regained, there was no going back to the way things were before: to swinging from rooftops, taking down villains, all the thrill and surge of satisfaction rescuing citizens of Gotham from impending doom. More than the adrenaline rush and excitement though, he missed teamwork and trust. There would be no more friendly sparring matches, clever jibes and high-fives… sharing pancakes on the patio. As much as Alfred assured him he was always welcome as a member of the household, Tim realized there was nothing left for him here. No reason for him to stay and be a burden anymore, when his inhabitance only forced strained interaction between the people he cared about.

Case in point: When he gathered the courage to inform Bruce of his decision, he had to arrange a meeting through Alfred, circumventing the walls of stone and silence that separated them. They were practically strangers to each other now, and from the way the sleepless husk treaded cautiously upstairs it was like he was an alien in his own home. The cave had become his true habitat. Upon hearing what his ward had to say he simply responded with “I see,” and agreed to make the sufficient arrangements. Before Tim left the room though, Bruce cleared his throat.

“Alfred tells me you’ve been helping him tidy up around here.”

He must have observed the compulsive coping mechanism from the start (there were security camera feeds in the Batcave after all), but no mention had been made about it before now. Tim couldn’t remember the last time they’d actually had a real conversation, face-to-face.

“You didn’t need to take on that responsibility. …I shouldn’t have let you.”

Tim turned, taking in the withered sight of his once-seemingly invincible idol. Minus the mask, there belied a side more human and humble at this moment than Tim had thought possible. It wasn’t much, but he discerned what it meant.

“I volunteered.” He swallowed pretense. “It… It made me feel better about myself. Helping others out, I mean.”

Bruce nodded absently, although he appeared unconvinced. He scanned the spotless interior before concluding:

“…The place looks nice. Thank you.”

It was enough, and all he – both of them – needed to hear.


“He’s really not coming to say goodbye, is he?”

As Alfred finished loading the last of Tim’s luggage in the car, he closed the trunk and answered without hesitation.

“I’m sure Master Bruce wishes you all the best, Master Tim. As do I.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“He did ask to give you this.”

Alfred approached, subtly extending a small case. Tim opened it to glimpse a familiar object, sleek and black and shaped like a bat. Although a reflex in him urged to recoil, he ran his digits along the sharp edge, caressing the recollection of stumbling upon the Batarang for the first time. It had been his “buddy”, a companion – champion symbol of faith and justice long before he met the owner in flesh. A sign that storm and stress would come to pass, that things could be better someday. He could be better, by believing in someone who was.

He used to sleep with it beside his pillow, to keep bad dreams and desires at bay. Now it was a source of nightmares.

The monster was awake and laughing, hiding inside his head, not under the bed.

Yet, he didn’t have the will to deny the gift. He shut the lid, and could feel tears burning behind his.

“Thanks, Alfred.” He embraced without warning, burying his face in his old friend’s jacket. “And tell Bruce ‘thank you’ too. For everything.”

Alfred warmly reciprocated the gesture, promising he would do so. Before his ride departed, Tim craned his neck and waved with a faintly awkward smile through the rear window. It reminded Alfred of his first encounter with the scrappy stowaway, sans an unconscious Batman in the passenger seat. Like magic, an abandoned urchin washed up from the sea one night, as if to fill a lonely void in Master Dick’s absence. Just as before, Master Bruce took him under his wing, polishing to reveal the precious pearl underneath (despite deriving from a “bad oyster”). He may have lacked the grace and natural talent of his predecessor, but possessed a grit and wit and eager willingness to learn, to perform. The brighter he shone, the easier it became to forget the darkness.

…Alas, all too soon, a child’s fairytale had turned to pure horror. Pages of potential were ripped – wings clipped – from the rising star’s spine, poisoned by an evil clown prince’s pen. His spell of sabotage left stains that could never be erased or undone, a curse that would continue to menace from beyond the grave.

The play would go on, but as a solo act.

He was on his own now. As it should be.

Bruce leaned back in his chair, tracking the mobile’s image on the screen until it receded from view. He stood up and slouched towards the glass coffins where skeletons loomed on display, serving as sordid testament and tribute – souvenirs of a war those soldiers should have never fought. Hopefully, they would remain locked away in the closet for good.

This was his cross to bear, and no one else’s.


It takes a while for Tim to adjust to independence. He’s handled himself on his own before (not to mention housekeeping knowledge is no longer a concern), but the solitude is much more acute this time. The difference at least is that he wouldn’t have to rely on certain survival tactics he swore he’d never resort to again. Bruce – Mr. Wayne took care of everything as he said. While Tim refused to accept any more, there’s just enough to cover his starting expenses, and Grayson had graciously offered him use of the loft as a temporary place to crash until he figured out his next step. (Not like the previous tenant was coming back to it anyway. Why he didn’t just sell the place if he was so staunch in burying bygones over the hatchet seemed a mystery to Tim. But then, he supposed it was the same reason he couldn’t bring himself to dispose of the Batarang, though there were many times he came close to tossing it away. …As by design, one way or another it kept doubling back to his hands – if not the other way around.)

Eventually he settles into the rhythm of regularity. He diligently attends classes, graduates, goes to college. Studies technology and engineering (because as much as he wouldn’t admit it to himself, the gadgets were always one of his favorite parts of the job). He finds meaning in the mundane and makes the most of it.

Looking towards the future but not where he’s going, he bumps into a pretty blonde girl whose sunniness matches her hair, which smells sweetly of hope and lavender. Love instantly hits him like a brick, destroying his defenses. She’s a whirlwind of energy and optimism, shining through the tempest and making him feel safe. Bit by bit, he opens his wounded chest to her, spilling emotions everywhere in a jumbled wreck. She helps pick up the shattered pieces, understanding because she’s seen and suffered – survived – painful sacrifices of her own, hiding shame and insecurity behind tenacity. Her stubbornness becomes his strength, and even though the voices are still there they sound smaller in her company. She spoils him tremendously, and he doesn’t mind to be saved by her smothering kindness.

“It’s called ‘happiness’.”

It’s not the first time he’s felt this way, or something akin to it. There was a girl once he… hard to say “liked” at an age when he barely knew what to do with a member of the opposite sex – let alone himself around one. Perhaps it was more accurate to say he was “attracted” to her because he could identify with her plight: born from filth, unable to escape her father’s shadow… All too literally in her case. She died trying to protect him, even though he was supposed to be the “hero”...

The marriage proposal comes as no surprise, but Tim shocks Barbara by begging her to teach him how to slow dance for the wedding. Dick readily agrees to be best man, and even attempts to somewhat reconcile with Barb at the reception, congratulating the new Commissioner and her husband on promotion to District Attorney. As for Bruce, well… He doesn’t show or bother replying to the invitation (although Alfred sends his sincerest regards), but something tells Tim he’s watching somewhere. …That old training never does go away.

Years later, when he’s formally acquainted with McGinnis (beyond locking fists through fits of madness), Tim quietly recognizes in him another kindred spirit: a troubled teen trying to make amends for his past misdeeds. He’s more than grateful to Terry for everything he’s done, and maybe a little envious that the lad accomplished what he could not. While it’s too late for regrets, he doesn’t begrudge another achieving fulfillment through the fantasy he once entertained, a dream he himself failed to live up to. Even though his own life had been a nightmare in many ways, it’s over now thanks to the true heir and honor to the cowl.

Besides, when he finally coaxes the old bat to come out of the cave so he can introduce his new family, it’s worth it to behold the dumbfounded look on Bruce’s face when his youngest daughter Annie greets “grandpa” with a hug. Though there was never any doubt, seeing the brightness reflected in both their expressions is enough to convince Tim that he made the right choice. He wouldn’t trade this outcome for the world.

A man in a mask once told him: “Sometimes there are no happy endings.”

Sometimes you just have to make your own.

Last edited by lilboocorsola; 06-25-2016 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:48 PM   #3
Herba Mystica
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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For Old Times' Sake

Arkham. Once a grave monument to madness, now stripped bare to its bones. The shattered gate stood wide open like a gaping maw, bent steel and chain littering the earth – a testament to its lack of security and the tracks of a raging fender that broke through last night, screeching like a bat out of hell. The Commissioner parked his own car outside the wreck and stepped carefully over its teeth, trudging up the long driveway towards the impending fortress itself.

He was getting too old for this.

James Gordon never thought he’d set foot in this condemned place again, a sore reminder of when the asylum housed as much corruption as crazies. Perhaps, none of them wanted to dwell on its ancestor’s existence; acknowledge the number of failures at rehabilitation, blatant ineptitude in staff hiring policy and sheer inability to keep inmates restrained. The whole facility was a joke, and the one who had made the most mockery of it had ironically claimed its remains, converting the ruins into his very own palace right under their noses.

Every one of them had missed the obvious. And it came back to bite them in the ass.

His daughter was anticipating him at the entrance. He could tell from a glance it was just Barbara present – not Batgirl, the proud persona she once thought she could fool her father with. (As if he really wouldn’t recognize her mother’s cardinal mane and robin egg eyes and indomitable spirit underneath the guise.) Her “partner” was nowhere to be seen either.


She flung her arms around him; her makeup was a mess, clearly she’d been crying before he got here. Surely she hadn’t slept. At the moment she wasn’t Batgirl, or even the strong woman she always tried to seem. Right now she was daddy’s little girl, and she needed him to be her pillar. He held her close and soothed her hair, waiting for her to work out the courage and words to speak.

“It’s Tim- Robin. We found him. He’s- he’s… Joker made him… He’s dead – JJ shot him – and Harley-”

“Slow down, sweetheart. Start from the beginning.”

She nodded, taking a deep breath and wiping dry her face. Leading over puddles and rubble, she walked him through the sequence of events that occurred after they received an “invitation” in the form of (straight)jack(et)-in-a-box. To the operating theatre, where Joker and Harley had staged a play of happy husband and wife in their humble abode. To the table behind the curtain, where their “son” lay sleeping. She showed him the projector that, according to Batman, had rolled for him a private video: a “family home movie” of sorts. …Outside, past the cliff where Quinn fell. And finally, the carcass belonging to the Clown Prince himself.

Even though the pale white skin was already cold to the touch when he turned it over, Jim checked for a pulse anyway. He had to confirm it for himself, with his own eyes: the Joker was well and truly dead. Those laughing lips were still stretched into a manic rictus, smeared blood dribbling from the corner. Even expired, the madman’s greatest jest had left a foul mark on them all.

“…What’s going to happen to Tim?”

Barbara asked, staring at the flag wound sticking out of the cadaver’s chest.

Jim shook his head. “From what you’ve told me, it doesn’t sound like he’s in any shape for questioning right now. He’s old enough to be tried as an adult, but even if he were fit to take the stand, I doubt any court would convict him. Given the circumstances, if not for the temporary insanity plea, should he face a jury they’d rule in self-defense.”

“What about Bruce? Are you going to arrest him?”

The Commissioner raised an eyebrow.

“You realize if I do that, I’d have to arrest you too.”

“I know.” Barbara declined on one of the toy blocks and hung her head. “Dad, it was my fault. Bruce and I were together when it happened. We let Robin go on patrol by himself. He- he said he could handle it. And he always has. Come back safe and sound. But this time he…” She buried her face in her hands. “He’s just a kid. I was so stupid to forget that. I shouldn’t have left him alone. Shouldn’t have let him out of my sight.”

Jim rested a hand on his daughter’s shoulder.

“You can’t blame yourself, honey.”

If anything, there was more than enough blame to go around. As a responsible party – both a police officer and a parent – he should have put a stop to it sooner. He’d been skeptical from the beginning of course, back when Batman first brought the boy from the circus to his department, dressed head-to-toe in that ridiculous traffic light get-up and wearing an eager grin from ear-to-ear. But they’d proven to be such a stellar team, and the world’s greatest detective was always two steps ahead, successfully keeping the kid out of danger’s clutches time and time again. In turn, the dark knight’s page kept them all in high spirits with his endless abundance of energy and wisecracks. A light opposed to vengeance, brightening the night.

It hardly escaped the Commissioner’s notice that when his morning bird matured and left the nest, the bat seemed much more morose and sullen than usual. Brooding without his brood. So it came as little surprise when he suddenly showed up one day with yet another young associate by his side. This one was even smaller than the first, but just as full of fight and enthusiasm. So ready and willing to please, to impress, to fill his predecessor’s boots. Follow in his idols’ footsteps, joyfully tracing flight patterns through the sky.

Gordon had looked into the lad’s history as soon as he was able. Richard Grayson’s identity wasn’t hard to figure out (neither was Bruce Wayne’s for that matter, but he kept that information to himself), but this new ward was a bit of a mystery. A contrast from the colored tents and spotlights of the carnival, he grew up instead on the gray and grimy streets of Crime Alley. A John Doe recently fished out of the Metropolis river was identified as the boy’s only relative, which explained how he came to be under custody of Gotham’s most famous orphaned billionaire. ...Timothy Drake, son of Steven “Shifty” Drake. Jim was familiar with the name; he’d taken the father in on multiple occasions, starting from when he was a teen. His junior had a record of his own, serving a short stint in juvenile hall. Mostly for mild misdemeanors – shoplifting and aggravating authority. Still, if he kept on the same track Jim had no doubt he’d be showing the boy his own cell one day.

So despite his reservations, he let the new recruitment slide on a trial basis. If the alternative was to toss the youth into an unforgiving system when he was already skirting the edge of the law, Jim would rather he remain on their side. And the boy was more than grateful for a chance to demonstrate his worth. A part of Jim didn’t want to deny the child his dream, a fanboy’s fantasy – nor did he deny projecting some of his own envious desire to be young and green again, to join the ranks of the remarkable, watching over the city from high above rooftops rather than blindly running around bureaucracy like a foot soldier. He admitted to Batman once, when he’d been shot in the line of duty and his old friend was doubting himself as a result: he always wanted to be a hero. …Perhaps, if he could turn back the clock, he could’ve been more like the man he himself looked up to.

Plus, after all these years, he trusted in Batman’s judgment. …No, the truth was he’d become complacent, relying on a lone vigilante –nay, a god – for everything. He too forgot that heroes – and villains – were merely human, and humans made mistakes. He wasn’t the only one acutely aware of accumulating age; even a lunatic like the Joker, for all his stubborn invulnerability, eventually would fall prey to Father Time. So he devised the most terrible scheme, to cultivate his own “kin” to carry on his legacy, and this was the tragic outcome. The piper had come to collect, and posterity paid the price for their collective confidence.

As he looked upon his own progeny, Jim felt a fear, a pang that it could just as well have been his precious baby girl to be targeted by Joker’s insane devices. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t constantly worried for her safety, not to mention thankful that at the very least she was all right. None of them deserved this though, and to further punish all persons involved seemed like even more cruel and unnecessary torture, regulations be damned. In his current fragile state, the prospect of exposing Tim’s actions to the public and stripping away all his familiar – familial support when he needed it most gave Gordon more than enough pause. Sometimes, there were matters – people more important than justice.

Barbara was having none of reassurance though.

“I couldn’t even save Harley… Despite everything she did, we- we might’ve still been able to help her…”

Jim reeled her in towards him, letting her use his jacket as a handkerchief.

“I’m just glad you’re okay.” He brushed her bangs aside, kissing her forehead. “We’ll search for Quinn later. For now we should deal with Joker. We need to dispose of the body before anyone finds out.”

“You’re not going to report this?”

“It would only cause a commotion, and Tim doesn’t need that right now. The best we can do is give him some peace. He needs time to recover.”

“…What if he doesn’t get better?”

“He’s a strong lad. He’ll pull through.”

He said with as much faith as he could muster.

Barbara chewed her lip, but nodded in agreement. After a moment, she spoke again with conviction.

“I’m going to give up being Batgirl. And I’m breaking it off with Bruce.”

Jim met his daughter’s firm gaze, gauging her decision.

“As your father, I’m certainly relieved to hear that.” A beat, as he tacitly acknowledged the first statement but skipped to the second. “…Honestly, he’s much too old for you. Personally I always thought you got along well with that Grayson boy.”

“Dick’s coming back to Gotham. I called him right after you.”

“Perhaps you two will hit it off again.”


Jim gave Barbara’s hand a slight squeeze, and smiled gently.

“I want you to know: No matter what, I’m proud of you. Whatever choice you make, I just want you to be happy.”

Barbara softly returned the gesture.

“Thanks, Dad.”

He patted her cheek before pulling away.

“Wait here. I’ll go fetch a shovel.”

Just then, a gruff voice interjected-

“That won’t be necessary.”

Both turned in surprise to see Bruce Wayne standing in the doorway – no cape or cowl, but carrying two spades in hand.

“Bruce? What are you doing here? Is Tim-?”

“Leslie’s examining him. She insisted on being alone during the procedure.”

“Is that safe?”

“He’s sedated, for now. Alfred’s keeping a close eye on the situation, he’ll call right away if anything comes up. Besides, we’ve business to take care of.”

His tone was brisk, austere as always. The absence of emotion made Barbara bristle, but Bruce cut her off again before she could open her mouth.

“You don’t need to be here for this. Go home, Barbara, get some rest.”

“You’re one to talk,” she snapped. “You look like hell.”

It was Jim’s turn to reprimand.

“He’s right. You’ve had a long night. We’ll take care of this, you go take care of yourself first.”

“But-” her plea was nearly desperate, whining, that of a petulant child. “I want to stay and help.”

This time both men spoke in unison:

Go home, young lady. That’s an order.”

There was an uncomfortable exchange between the two, during which Barbara seemed to debate protesting more but bit her tongue. Instead she clenched her fists and conceded:

“Fine. But I’m letting you know now, Bruce: I’m done with all this. Once this is settled, you and I are through. Completely.”

She walked purposefully past him out the exit, never looking back.

Once her presence was gone, Bruce’s stance lowered. He swallowed, barely managing to look the Commissioner in the eye.

“Jim, I… I’m sorry.”

Gordon regarded his sincerity with a conflicted mix of sternness and sympathy. At the moment the figure standing before him wasn’t Batman, a hero, or a god. Right now he was a father who lost his son, an ashamed failure of a foster parent who couldn’t protect the ones closest, people he cared about – who cared about him. Despite whatever disapproval or anger Jim held towards him right now, he could empathize with that.

“I never meant for any of this to happen.”

This was not the “Plan”.

Deep down, he’d always had a better understanding of the man behind the mask than most, the boy beneath the bat costume who witnessed his parents’ brutal murder at a young age and vowed vengeance. Jim could recall the face streamed with tears and hooded rage when he first arrived on the bloody scene outside the theater. To lose another family like this must be a shocking blow, taking a toll no matter how hard he tried not to let it show.

“The full responsibility is mine, so please leave the others out of this. I know I have no right to ask any favors, but…”

He was begging, trying to buy pardon for his patrons. Baring emotions that had undoubtedly built up to a breaking point over the past few weeks. Call it an investigator’s intuition (perhaps “fatherly instinct” was more accurate in this case), but Jim could tell something was wrong as soon as Robin went missing, in the same way he knew when the lad tried to trick him with an imposter when his own boss disappeared. For weeks the two had to defend the city by themselves while Batgirl and Nightwing went off to search, and his respect for the second Boy Wonder grew immensely during that time. Inexperienced though he was, the fledgling never faltered. Jim soon recognized this Robin was a force to be reckoned with.

“Whatever penalty for the charges, I’ll accept it.”

…But, for all his bravado, he was still just a boy. To allow things to go this far under a false sense of security was inexcusable, if not unforgivable. For all of them.

“Save it, Wayne.” No need to ask how pure his intent to sacrifice for their sins truly was when he bothered bringing equipment to hide the evidence. “I’m not the one you should be apologizing to. Let’s just focus on the task at hand.”

They worked together in silence. Digging, dragging, dumping, deserting to the dirt and worms. There was no eulogy or prayer. Lord knows the devil didn’t deserve it.

The two parted just as unceremoniously, reconvening the next morning with an adamant Barbara to comb the canyon for signs of the comic duo’s other half. ...Despite all their efforts, they came up empty.

The good news was that within a few days, Tim seemed to be responding effectively to treatment. By the end of the week, Dick also managed to make it back to be by his brother’s side. As predicted, he and Barbara started dating again, easily picking up right where they left off. …For a while, things went smoothly. (At least as well as they all could have hoped for, considering.)

Then, the next bombshell landed out of nowhere. Hitting far closer to home.

His daughter was pregnant. …And according to the calendar, it wasn’t by her current boyfriend.

Before he could even process that revelation, he found out the grandchild was lost. Grayson gave up, ran away once again to Blüdhaven, hurt and betrayed by the very ones he had returned to be with. Wanted to be with, in sickness and in health. Jim stayed up all night with a heartbroken Barbara weeping onto his breast, consoling as best he could.

For him too, it’s the final straw.

If things weren’t awkward between him and Bruce before, they certainly are now. Relations among all of them run from tepid to tense. But the city still needs – demands a Batman. So the signal goes up night after night, and the caped crusader dutifully responds. Whenever they meet – whether in or out of uniform – it’s strictly professional. No mention of sidekicks or Jokers. No more jokes between them. …Not that there were many previous pleasantries to dispense with. (However, he does observe that the Batman has ceased the infuriating habit of vanishing in the middle of his sentences, perhaps as some form of pacification. Or at least an unconscious attempt at one.)

Months pass. Barbara keeps him posted on Tim’s progress. Despite the gradual improvements in the lad’s condition, he still doesn’t dare to go visit himself. He doesn’t wish to overwhelm or cause undue anxiety. …More precisely, he has no idea what he would even say to the kid directly.

Christmas comes and goes. Before he realizes, it’s New Year’s Eve. He’s working late again, as usual. Bullock already left (he’d been avoiding overtime ever since Montoya transferred and his new partner didn’t work out), the station is still. Calm. Stationary.

He looks up from his desk. It seems like only yesterday that on this same night Robin was sitting on the edge of it, swinging his legs carefree while they discussed Joker’s latest plot to kill hundreds of victims. Just another typical day at the office in Gotham. The boy was often distractible, as adolescents his age were. Jim had even caught him staring idly out the window once, pining after his very first crush (and subsequently from heartache). Yet despite whatever disruption to his mind, he always bounced back and came through when it counted.

He’d come through this time too.

Jim rubs the bridge between his brows and glances at the clock. Half past one. Missed the countdown, not that it matters much to him. More importantly, he remembers another custom he always shared with a comrade around this time, a quiet tradition to celebrate another year of success and solidarity.

Twenty minutes to two.

Surely he won’t show up.

Quarter ‘till.

That fool can’t be expecting him to.

Ten minutes remaining.

He seriously didn’t think anyone would be there.


With a sigh, he grabs his coat and rushes out the door into the frigid air.

Drawing up before the tavern, it’s already long vacant when he steps inside, save for the owner who greets him with a welcoming smile.

“Good to see you, Comish. Almost thought you weren’t coming, was just about to lock up.”

“He hasn’t been by, has he?”

“No sign of him, I’m afraid. Held up somewhere saving the day, I bet. Should I get you some coffee in the meantime?”

“Sure. …Make it two.”

He takes a seat at their regular booth, sips his beverage, and waits.

By the time the hour strikes three, it becomes clear that the other untouched cup isn’t the only vessel gone cold. Gordon finishes his drink and places payment for both on the table.

“Guess I finally beat him to the check this year.”

His host picks up the money, but then passes the bills back. “Forget it, Comish. It’s on the house. Shame though, first time in years he hasn’t made an appearance. Must be a busy night.”

“Must be.”

“Careful on your way home, Commissioner. Lots of snow out there.”

“Will do. You take care now.”

“Happy New Year, Comish.”

“To you too. Have a good night.”

As he departs onto the street, he nearly bumps into a drunken choir, belting out the year end’s refrain.

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Bowing his head through the quickening blizzard, he makes his way to the vehicle and drives off before the sleet can swallow his tires, unaware of a shadow watching on from overhead.

When he gets home, he finds Barbara curled up asleep on the couch, and an unexpected dinner is waiting for him on the table. Draping a blanket over his beloved thoughtful offspring, he tucks her in and gives her a doting peck just like when she was little. Pouring himself another glass, he reclines on the sofa next to her and raises a toast to the air.

“Here’s to survival.”

As the storm braves on outside, he reflects on family, friends, and retirement.

He’s really getting too old for this.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?

Last edited by lilboocorsola; 04-14-2017 at 03:49 PM.
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