©December 2003
Rating: PG
Characters: Dick Grayson (Robin); Bruce Wayne (Batman)
Time Frame: Dick is 14
Disclaimer: Characters herein are owned by DC Comics/Time Warner/AOL. No profit is realized from creation of stories based on these trademarked characters. Not to be archived without permission.
Comments and feedback are welcome to SKHwrite@cranky-dog.com

Dark December


Part Five, Conclusion

Once again, Dick came to, slowly becoming aware of his surroundings. He was still in the main room of the cabin, on the couch. Groaning more for effect than out of genuine discomfort, he sat up and looked around, immediately beginning to test his bonds. His feet were unbound, and his hands were secured behind his back with — and here, Dick almost smiled — handcuffs.

"Stay put, little boy," Mercy warned. Any monkey-business and I'll put you out again."

"I need to use the bathroom," Dick complained. "Real bad."

Mercy narrowed her eyes at the boy. It *had* been several hours since they had taken him off the mountain. "Evans! Take the kid to the bathroom. Leave the cuffs on him."

The man stepped away from the cabin window and pulled Dick up off the couch by the arms. Walking the boy out of the room, he asked Mercy, "How's he gonna piss? You want me to hold his pud for him?"

"Yeah, why don't you add child molestation to kidnapping and assault?" Dick asked loudly.

Mercy drew her gun and held it on the boy. "Cuff him in front and he can handle his own merchandise."

Dick held still while Evans unhooked one of the cuffs and refastened them in front of his body. The man pushed him down the short hall and into the bathroom.

"I can't do it while you're *watching*," Dick whined over his shoulder.

Certain the boy was secure enough in the handcuffs, Evans closed the bathroom door, leaving the boy inside the small room.

Five seconds after the door shut, Dick had the cuffs off. He turned on the lavatory tap, adding a buffer of noise while he looked around the bathroom. He really did have to go, and did so quickly, then carefully pulled aside the shower curtain. There was a small window for ventilation in the shower/tub stall. Dick quietly stepped into the tub and tested the window. It went up smoothly. Dick very carefully locked the bathroom door.

Mercy's phone beeped, and she flipped it open to answer it. "Go ahead," she said. Mercy listened for a few seconds, then she looked toward the bathroom. "He's supposed to be in Japan. We had confirmation that he was in— Carson? Carson!" Mercy slapped the phone shut, grasping the phone so hard she nearly broke it. "Damn! Evans! What's taking that kid so long?" she asked sharply.

Dick was halfway out the window when Evans began pounding on the bathroom door. "Hurry it up, kid!"

Dick hollered back, "I'm going number two!"

Evans turned the door knob, finding it locked.

"Little creep locked the door," Evans called to Mercy. Without a word, Mercy went out the door, headed for the side of the cabin.

In the waning light of day, Gonzo raced his Jeep up the snow-covered road, headed for Dyson Drive. Bruce Wayne insisted they leave immediately and not wait for the authorities. The way the big man had pounded that other guy, Gonzo figured he could hold his own with anything short of an army. Bruce Wayne wasn't just some candy-ass rich guy. The dude was freakin' Rambo! Gonzo was pretty stoked.

As Dick dropped to the ground, gunfire sounded and wood splintered above his head. Mercy wasn't using darts this time. Dick ducked around the back of the cabin. The snow was knee high and hard to run through, making a dash for the woods a losing proposition. Dick shinnied up the back porch post and flipped onto the roof of the cabin. Another bullet shattered the corner of the roof close to Dick's foot. Dick scooped up a double handful of snow, formed a snowball, and pitched it at Mercy, hitting her right between the eyes. Dick heard a thump on the other side of the roof. He climbed up the pitch and looked over the top to see Evans coming up on a ladder.

Dick leaped for the man, catching him square in the chin with his boots. Evans went back, and Dick went with him over the edge of the roof. They both landed in the soft snow — Evans on his back, knocking the wind out of him, and Dick on his feet. The second man jumped for Dick and was tossed head over heels into the snow.

Dick grabbed the axe from the wood chopping pile and ran for the corner of the cabin. When Mercy came around it, Dick swung the axe up, striking Mercy's gun hand with the back of the axe head and sending the gun flying into the snow. Dick spun the axe around and drove the heel of the handle up into Mercy's chin, knocking her backwards with a grunt.

The second man recovered and came at Dick, picking up a porch chair to shove at the boy like a lion tamer at the circus. Dick swung and brought the axe down, driving it into the seat of the chair as the man held it above his head. Dick kicked out, catching the man hard in the crotch, sending him howling to his knees. Dick's next kick connected with the man's head, and he sailed backward across the porch.

Dick yanked the axed back, leaped off the porch, and ran for the truck. When he pulled on the door handle, it didn't budge. It was locked. Dick swung the axe and smashed the window, then reached inside to unlock the door. Before Dick could open it, however, Evans grabbed him from behind.

The man pulled Dick back by the hair and smashed his head into the doorframe of the truck. Blinded by pain, Dick sank to his knees. Not down for the count, though, Dick drove the heel of his hand into the inside of Evans' knee, making a satisfyingly painful popping noise. As Evans fell screaming, Dick came up, driving his elbow up into Evans' gut. Dick spun and belted the man in the jaw, felling him like a tree.

Mercy looked through the snow for her gun. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as a fourteen year old kid took down two of her security force with surprising skill and ingenuity. Luthor could fire her, Wayne could have her jailed, but no kid was going to get the best of her. Locating her pistol, she chambered a bullet and aimed.

Dick wiped the streaming blood away from his face with his sleeve and opened the truck door. He heard gunfire and the shot ricocheted off the roof of the truck. Dick froze, knowing that was his warning shot and that the next one could hit him. He shut the door and turned around, holding his arms out to the side as Mercy plodded through the snow toward him.

Gonzo shifted gears, climbing up the snowy, unpaved access road called Dyson Drive as fast as the Jeep would go. As soon as the Jeep hit the clearing, Bruce saw a woman aiming a gun at Dick, who was leaning against a pickup truck.

"Gun it! Aim for the woman!" Bruce ordered.

The Jeep jumped a drift of snow and came down right at Mercy. She dove out of its way. Mercy was on her feet just as Bruce Wayne launched himself out of the Jeep. Mercy coolly pointed the gun at Dick.

"Not so fast, Mr. Wayne. Take one more step and I'll put a bullet through the boy's head."

Bruce halted, his eyes darting between Mercy's gun and Dick's bloodied face.

"Kid!" Mercy yelled. "Get over there, next to Wayne. Move it!" Mercy kept the gun on Dick as the boy crossed the yard to his guardian. As Dick moved toward Bruce and the Jeep, Mercy moved to the truck. She reached the truck and got inside, still pointing the gun at Dick. Mercy reached into her pocket for the truck keys, put them into the ignition, and started it.

Dick looked at Mercy, scowling angrily at the woman who had outwitted him. He was also angry that she was using him to immobilize Bruce, and that Bruce had to hold back because of the danger Dick was in.

Mercy knew that law enforcement was probably not far behind Bruce Wayne and that she needed an effective diversion to make good her escape. Shifting the truck into reverse, Mercy aimed skillfully and fired.

Dick sailed backward with a yelp. Bruce rushed for his ward, spotting the bright blood on his leg. Mercy spun the truck around, shoved it into gear, and hit the gas.

"Oh, that's just wack!" Gonzo shouted. He reached into his Jeep, grabbed a ski pole and hurled it at the truck, hitting it expertly in the rear tire. Despite the blowout, the truck continued down the drive, disappearing into the dusk.

Bruce took off his heavy jacket and wrapped it around Dick, wiping some of the blood away from Dick's face with the coat sleeve. He carefully lowered Dick back to the ground. "Hold on, Dick. Let me take a look."

Gonzo whistled. "Yo! Pocket knife on my key chain, man!" He tossed the keys to Bruce.

Bruce sliced open Dick's pant leg up to his hip. At mid thigh, he saw the entry wound. Lifting Dick's leg up a bit, Bruce felt the exit wound. "It went right through, chum. I don't think it hit bone." Bruce pressed his pocket handkerchief to one of the wounds and wadded up Dick's pant leg to hold on the second wound.

Dick hissed through the pain. "I-I'm sorry, Bruce. There were only three of them... I shoulda been able to get — Owww!" Bruce grabbed Dick's hand and squeezed. He gave the boy a half-hearted half-smile, which Dick returned. No other words became necessary.

Gonzo dug through his backseat floorboard and grabbed a box. He rushed to Bruce and Dick. "Here's my first-aid kit. First time I've used it since my folks made me take it." Gonzo opened the kit and handed compresses to Bruce.

As they dressed Dick's wounds, Gonzo asked him, "So what happened to these other two guys, Dickster? They're out of it!"

Dick gave Bruce a quick look before answering Gonzo. "Musta been that blonde. She was pretty moody. H-hey, Gonz, you're p-pretty lethal with that ski pole."

"Track and field in high school, dude," Gonzo grinned. "It was a way to meet girls."

Bruce carefully lifted Dick and carried him to the Jeep, settling him into the back seat. As Gonzo drove down the access road, Bruce called Alfred, filling him in about Dick's condition and giving him instructions for the sheriff about the man in the hotel room, the perps at the cabin, and the escaped woman.

Bruce and Gonzo saw the abandoned pickup truck where Dyson Drive intersected with the main road. There were no signs of the driver. Bruce silently vowed to find the woman, but first, his boy needed medical treatment. Bruce reached into the back seat and tucked the jacket tighter around Dick.

"M'okay, Bruce," Dick said weakly. "Don' make me look wimpy in front of my friend."

Bruce raised his eyebrows and pointed silently at the driver.

Dick nodded, giving his guardian a warning scowl before closing his eyes to doze.

While Alfred and the hotel nurse attended to Dick, Bruce met with the resort manager. "We'll be transporting Dick back to Gotham City, where our family physician can treat him," said Bruce. "But we wouldn't have gotten Dick back so quickly without the help of your employee... Gonzo."

"Gonzo? Oh, yes, Pierce," the manager said. "Bright young man. Enthusiastic."

"Yes. A company should value and reward employees so dedicated and quick-thinking," Bruce nodded.

"Eh, yes," said the manager. "In fact, we could use a new instructor for snowboarding. Growing sport, you know. We just put in the half-pipe this past summer. That's where Pierce belongs... with a raise of course. A generous raise!"

Bruce smiled his socialite smile and shook the manager's hand before going back into the hotel's infirmary. Inside the waiting room, Bruce found the bellman of the hour reading a ski magazine. Bruce sat down beside him.

"I don't think I've had a chance to thank you, Gonzo," said Bruce.

Gonzo put down the magazine and sat up straight. "Oh, no prob, Dick's-Dad," he grinned. "Your little dude in there is pretty awesome, and he's got an awesome old man."

Alfred stepped out from behind the curtain surrounding Dick's bed. "Master Dick is stable for transport, Master Bruce. Dr. Thompkins will meet us at Wayne Manor. Hotel staff have packed Master Dick's belongings and put them on the helicopter."

Gonzo got up and headed for the door. He looked back at the two men, and at the boy lying asleep in the bed beyond them. "The snow has stopped," he said. With a grin, he added, "My day off is tomorrow. Looks like I'll have a tonar day on the powder! Ciao, dudes, and Merry Christmas."

It was Christmas Eve, and the hour was late. Lex Luthor had abandoned the banality of his customary social gatherings to retreat to his penthouse duplex high atop the tallest building in Metropolis. He had given his personal staff the night and next day off, save for one. In fact, Lex believed Mercy should be grateful to still have a job after the deplorable results of her most recent task. Lex had lost the Guiana project and the chance to reap billions in oil and gold.

"Mercy, I'm back," Lex called out, draping his overcoat across a chair.

"Mercy is a little tied up at the moment, Lex."

Lex wheeled about at the sound of the voice. Bruce Wayne stepped out from behind Lex's bar, holding a freshly-made drink in each hand.

"How did you get in here?" Lex demanded.

"Why, I telephoned Superman and asked him to fly me up here," Bruce smiled. "Actually, my security people are better than your security people." Bruce looked around the penthouse with a look of arrogant disdain on his face. "And so is my interior designer. Lex, remind me to give you his name. You need it desperately."

"Before you even get started, Wayne, you'll never be able to prove anything. I have dozens of witnesses that will swear that Mercy was in Metropolis all along," Lex gloated, his voice dripping with oil.

"Is that so?" Bruce stepped closer, and appeared to hand Lex a drink. The Gotham billionaire smashed both glasses against Lex's temples, soaking the megalomaniac with liquor and blood. Bruce slammed his fist into Lex's stomach, then bashed him in the face with a left-right combination. Lex dropped to the floor, spitting blood and teeth.

"Don't ever come near my family again, Lex," Bruce said coolly. He brushed a few drops of bourbon from his suit coat, stepped over Lex, and walked out the door.


"Wake up, Bruce! It's Christmas! Ho-ho-ho!!" Dick pounded a crutch on Bruce's bedroom door with every "Ho."

"Master Dick! It's six o'clock in the morning! Please show some decorum!" Alfred came hastily down the hallway, tying the sash of his robe.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALFRED!!" Dick shouted. He thumped on his crutches over to Alfred and gave the stunned major-domo a big hug before continuing on to the stair case.

"Can someone turn down the volume out here?" Bruce asked, emerging from his room. He scratched at his stubbly beard and yawned. Bruce turned to Alfred with a bewildered look on his face. "It's still dark outside, Alfred," he complained.

"As I recall, sir, you are quite fond of the dark," Alfred replied. "I suggest we continue this conversation downstairs over hot cocoa."

"Will you guys get a move-on?" Dick griped. He swung his bad leg over the massive banister, and grasping his crutches in one hand, slid down to the ground floor of Wayne Manor.

Bruce watched Dick thump away in the direction of the family room, his smile dimming to an expression of guilt and worry.

"This was too close, Alfred. I thought he'd be safe on that outing, but he wasn't. I couldn't protect him."

Alfred looked at his eldest charge, and resting a hand on Bruce's arm, he counseled, "At some point, Bruce, we must trust that what we have taught our children will be enough to get them through this world. And then we must trust our children to use that knowledge wisely."

Bruce sighed heavily. "I suppose you're right, Alfred. Dick is one bird that can't be kept in a gilded cage."

Alfred smiled and tugged at the cuffs of his robe. "Nor could you, Master Bruce. Now, I believe we have the important business of Christmas to attend to."

Alfred and Bruce descended the stairs to the sound of Dick's favorite holiday music from the family room stereo. To Bruce's surprise, he began to feel a flicker of anticipation, and he smiled.

The End, and Happy Holidays