All He Could Do
Pain jerked the new Batman's shoulders tight as Bruce Wayne stitched the wounds closed across his back and wrapped them with bandages. Long ago, he had been in the same position as a trusted figure in his life took care of him. Though it was never stated aloud, Alfred was like a father to him.
Much like the unspoken father son relationship between Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis.
This was all he as a father, a mentor, and the first Batman could do for this young man who had pushed his way into the shadows despite all of Bruce's attempts to dissuade him.
Terry was capable of winning and thriving so far beyond what he had accomplished and yet the teenager never seemed to see that strength he possessed. Only once had Bruce had tried to force him to quit and failed. The attempt failed and Terry pushed ahead driven by his desire to do what he thought was right. Bringing him to now, needing medical attention but only here could he be treated without raising suspicion.
Like his own early days as the Batman everyone questioned the validity of Terry's actions for the name and held him to standards that were seemingly above him. In further parallel, the young man suffered the death of his father, the burden only heavier with harsh words being the last they shared.
Terry never revealed the subject of that final argument, but it became the force that urged him on. It pushed him to move past his juvenile delinquency, urging him to build his self-worth every time he put on the mask. This was how the legacy of Batman started, birthed in blood and despair; it was created to save others from the evil of humanity.
What good was a legacy that hurt its inheritor?
Terry rolled his shoulders as the final piece of bandage settled over his left shoulder; Bruce stepped back as the young man turned to look at him. Having learned of his desire to become a physician Bruce had begun work in sneaking Terry a scholarship through old friends.
"You got that look again, Wayne," Terry asked.
Bruce was definitely not a young man and the kind of work they did took its toll on anyone who dared even attempt it. There were few days like today when the exhaustion and pain ate into even his strength. "What's up?"
"Why do you keep going as Batman, McGinnis? You've cornered ever villain and criminal in the city into Arkham and the police dislike your interference." He asked, compelled to get another answer.
His insatiable curiosity drove him beyond considering the effect his words usually had on someone and Terry hated answering.
"I never told you what I said to my dad, did I?" Terry answered. "He was a good man; everything he did for us was just that. For us. Most of the time my brother and I got along with dad but that last time I really put him down. He worked so hard for us. Dad did everything and I wasn't able to see that. If, just by chance, we were to meet again I would want him to be proud of me."
Terry's face drew tight with old emotions, something that the kid just needed to say began to spill out as he spoke in the soft words of someone who remembered good times with their parents. "When I was a kid he often told me stories of the good you and your sidekicks did for Gotham. I don't know how many stories he just made up or how many actually happened, but he was a huge fan of Batman. I guess you could say I wanted to carry a bit of that with me."
Bruce tilted his head as Terry continued on. "I wasn't a very good son, Bruce. If I had just done things a little differently I could have been a much better person but I had to have things my way. I couldn't stop their divorce and I couldn't stop myself from acting out. I just try and set a better example for Matt now because that is what dad would have wanted."
Was Terry trying to punish himself or redeem himself as Batman? That was the secret though. Guilt embodied every facet of the mask and drove the man who wore the name into near suicide just trying to keep attain atonement.
"You should get some rest. There is a case waiting for your attention tomorrow night." Bruce drawled.
Bruce had not been a good father to Dick. Nor had he been able to truly embrace another living soul as a partner, a son, or a father. He had even failed the mercurial Selena Kyle. In every aspect that mirrored the other, both Batmen were almost exactly alike.
"I should go back out. There were some rumors of a possible robbery at a jewelry store near the theater." He commented.
….and damn was he just as addicted to work as Bruce. Even with afternoon classes and computer courses to make up his college credits Terry was just as driven to push himself into an early grave as Bruce had been.
"You should get some milk for your mother." Bruce's way of telling Terry to go home.
Terry grinned at him. "Max got it on the way to babysit Matt." He countered, his own way of telling Bruce he wasn't ready to quit for the night.
"You have errands to run for me in the morning."
"Dana is driving. We're planning to go to a movie before lunch and we'll do the errands then."
"Can't you just take the rest of the night off?"
Terry grimaced as soon as Bruce tightened his grip on his cane. "I would but I know you won't take the rest of the night off."
Releasing a breath of air, the old man sighed. And that was why Terry had won every right to become Batman. He was everything Bruce had wanted as an heir and everything he feared would happen. "If I go back upstairs, you go home."
"I'll stay the night and meet Dana at the theater at ten," Terry conceded. It was an offer for Bruce to win, Terry to give him what he wanted, but on Terry's terms. Sometimes, he wondered just how this young man had managed to sneak in the way he did and remembered that Terry rarely asked permission and almost never apologized for his actions. When he did something, he did it with a purpose that exceeded everything except his own moral code.
Terry didn't fight to hurt people or even straighten them out. He did it for one purpose only.
To make his father (both of them) proud.