Title: Wake of Sorrow
Disclaimer: I don't own Dick or Bruce or any of the DC characters. I'm just borrowing them for a moment.
Spoilers: None really. This is set right after 91 but it doesn't really reference anything that happened in there, as far as I think anyway.
Author's notes: First off, I didn't have this beta'd so I'm sorry if it's not as smooth as it could be or in character. I tried my best. I'm still new to writing in this fandom but I'm finding these little vignettes come easier for me here. At any rate, your thoughts and comments would be most appreciated. Thanks for reading.
The rain had gone from steady to torrential down pour. Most rational people would have found cover already but he just didn't care. The problem with depression and overwhelming guilt is that there is no desire to be anything else but miserable. So there he sat, crouched in an alley no more than a building or two away from where he once lived. The building he owned now reduced to rubble. All his possessions lost amidst the debris. The friends he cared for gone forever. That's what hurt the most. So many innocent lives destroyed for nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Just not for any good reason he could come up with.
Roland Desmond, aka Blockbuster, on the other hand had a very good reason. They were repayment for the mother he lost. A mother who had died from complications brought about by a heartattack. A heartattack resulting from a traffic jam. A traffic jam unwittingly caused by Nightwing. How Blockbuster knew Nightwing and Dick Grayson were the same, he didn't know. Nor did it matter now. Twenty-one innocent lives were abruptly ended to settle the debt owed. Along with the dead and injured from the fire at Haly's Circus. And it wasn't going to stop there. Dick Grayson knew that for a fact. This was still only the beginning. But for all this he was certain of one thing, there was going to be an end. He would see to it personally.
He had already seen to it that Blockbuster's lackeys had been removed as a threat. Most were in hospitals the rest in jail. They would pay for their involvement but not nearly the price that they should. Now all that was left to collect was the man who started it all. They had been pitted together from the instant Dick Grayson stepped off the bus from Gotham and made the 'Haven his home. It was Blockbuster's methods of usurping the previous crime boss that made Batman send him here. From that point on, Nightwing became the corrupted city's protector, which initiated the rivalry between them.
Despite their odds, it had been professional. Rolly would set up operations and Nightwing would take them down. The cycle would repeat over and over and over again. But this was a new game that they were playing. It was personal. Desmond no longer kept to the rules of engagement and set out on a vendetta to make Nightwing and Dick Grayson suffer.
And suffer the young man did. So much in his life had been painful. He had lost so many loved ones over the course of his life that effected him deeply. With each loss he found it harder and harder to accept the pain and move on. He doubted after the recent traumas he would ever fully recover. Not that he felt he should recover, since they lost their lives as a result of who he was. They never knew of his alternate identity as Nightwing but they did know of their good friend and neighbor Dick. And since Dick and Nightwing were the same they were made pawns in this vendetta.
Red hot rage and black despair waged war in his mind. He wanted to grieve but couldn't. Guilt would prevent that until he saw the end of this feud. Once it was over, could he even consider the thought of releasing his penned up emotions. The anger that raged in his soul began to dissipate though and he was succumbing to a lapse in that belief. The "funeral" was only a few hours ago. In a way it was his funeral too.
Perhaps that was the reason he was here. Dick's senses had been on alert since the explosion and even in the midst of his misery he could always sense the brooding man's approach. Without bothering to look up at the man, he demanded, "What do you want?"
Bruce Wayne was never good at talking, which could make attempts to comfort very difficult. But when Alfred had returned with an expression of such sorrow, he knew he just couldn't stay away. Of course he had no idea what he would say once he found his son but he had to try. Before Bruce could say anything though, Dick stood and glared at him, "I told you not to come here. Why can't you ever listen?"
"No," he held up a hand to stop the man, "no. I don't want to hear it. Go back to your precious Gotham and leave me alone."
But the Dark Knight would not be dismissed so easily. Now that he saw the young man with his own eyes, Bruce became even more worried. His appearance was haggard, days worth of growth hiding some of the battles he'd fought. Yet even through that and the soaking rain, he could see the gash on his son's cheek along with some bruises. Dark circles under reddened blue eyes spoke of restless nights. It broke his heart to see the pain and desolation in his son's face. Taking a deep breath, Bruce knew this would be a contest of wills and gently appealed to the younger man's sense of reasoning, "You're exhausted, Dick. You need to come home."
Pointing an accusing finger at his long time guardian, Dick bound up to the man. "Don't pretend to be the concerned parent now. It never suited you. Just leave me be."
"You need rest."
"I need you to leave." Exasperated, Dick began pacing heatedly. "What is it with you? Don't you get it? Can't you see? Blockbuster knows who I am. He might even know who you are now. You're in danger here. Hell, you're even in danger in Gotham. And I don't want to hear that you can take care of yourself. I know damn well what you can do. But this isn't about you, it's about me. And the further you are from his grasp the better I'll feel. Is that so hard to understand??"
"No." Bruce's short reply only fueled the fury in the younger man.
"Then why don't you listen to me? Why can't you just leave?"
"Because you are my son. And you're hurting. I want to help you."
Dick had to laugh at that. The man who embodied self-recrimination and an emphatic sense of bottling up his emotions was here to help him through his pain. "Like you're one to talk."
"I know. But like you said, this isn't about me. It's about you. I love you, son. And I want to help you." Watching the turmoil was tearing him apart. He could see some of the fight slip away with his honest pleas, but he feared it would not help.
Dick ran a hand through his rain soaked locks, pushing them back in an unconscious display of frustration. So long he had wanted the man he looked up to as father and mentor to openly share his feelings. To come running to his aid when he needed it most. And now that it was here, all he wanted was to be left alone. He needed to protect those left worth protecting. And if he had to deny one of his life long wishes he would do it. In as calm and steady a voice as he could muster, he said, "Go away." Wearily, he turned his back to his surrogate father.
Taking a step closer, Bruce laid a hand on a taut shoulder. "Everyone's worried about you. The phone in the manor keeps ringing. They all want to help. They all care about you." Alfred had told him of the numerous calls from Wally, Roy, and so many of his other friends asking about how Dick was doing. And every night, Babs seemed to be struggling more and more with her duties as Oracle and her worry for Dick.
"And that's why they have to stay away." Dick just couldn't bare the thought of watching more of his family taken from him. This was the only way.
He loved his son, wanted to protect and care for him but with each passing breath Bruce knew he had raised the boy too well in his likeness. He realized that he was fighting a loosing battle. But he just couldn't quit. "Son, please come home."
"I can't. Not yet. Blockbuster's still out there. And I have to stop him before he can strike again."
"You can come back. I'll help you. We'll all help you take him down. But you can't take him out unless you've taken some time to recover. Have you even eaten since the explosion?" The silence that followed was all the answer he needed. "You're emotionally and physically drained, son. How do you expect to defeat Blockbuster in your condition?"
"I'll find a way. And I can't allow any of you to get involved." The edge in his tone returning and quickly disappearing again to give way to tired grief. "Too many good people are gone. I just couldn't take it if I lost any more."
Bruce tried to reassure the young man even if he knew his words were falling on deaf ears. "Their deaths weren't your fault." But he knew his son too well. Guilt was as much a part of him as was the need to fly.
"Does that even matter anymore?" Only the continuing sound of rain pattering was heard for some long minutes. "I've got to go," he muttered at last, "I need to find Blockbuster."
So it had come to this, as he knew it would. Dick's mind was made up and there was no changing it. Bruce offered the only thing left he could, "Dick, just remember that I'm here for you. All you have to do is call."
"I'll… come home… when I'm done." Dick walked away, leaving Bruce Wayne alone in the alley.
As Bruce watched his son fade into the grey haze of rain he fought his own battle with rage and grief. He mourned the loss of the bright spot in his life. A spark of life that had dimmed significantly over the past few days. He had lost his son. He knew Dick would never be the same again. Bruce could only hope and pray that somehow he would recover enough to survive this. But there had been so much pain in that crystal blue gaze, enough to stagger even the mighty Batman. And he damned all the fates that caused his son's agony. How could they allow such cruelty to befall such a bright spirit?
They had taken his parents. They had taken his friends. They had taken his job. They had systematically taken everything from him. Almost. Dick still had his surrogate family; the Bat-clan and the Titans. And it was obvious he was taking extra strides to see that they were safe. But his efforts did not alleviate the worry that surrounded those he protected. It only made it worse. They could see Dick was teetering dangerously close to the edge and they could do nothing. Prayer and hope was all they had left.
Bruce continued to stare off after his son. Softly, he prayed, "Please bring him home." Turning, he headed back toward his car. With his hand on the door, he lingered for a moment to reign in his emotions. He knew that once inside the rain could no longer hide the tears. Collapsing in to the seat, he started the engine. That was when he made a silent vow. I hope you're ready for a fight Blockbuster, because if anything happens to Dick, you'll have the wrath of me and every other hero out there on you in a heartbeat. Shifting gears, Bruce Wayne headed home to wait for his son's return.
Just remember a review or two would be awfully nice. :D Thanks for reading!!!!