A young boy bounced out of the movie theater between his parents. It was obvious by their clothing that they were all well off individuals. The boy was a ball of energy, explaining to his parents his favorite scenes from Zorro, the movie all three of them had just seen.
"I know, Bruce, we just saw it," the boy's mother smiled lovingly down at her raven-haired son.
"If you're a good boy," the boy's father said, ruffling his son's hair, "We might come back later this week and see it again."
"Thomas!" the boy's mother scolded, "Don't spoil the boy more than you already have!"
"What, Martha? I happened to enjoy the movie as well," the boy's father smiled mischievously.
"You're both incorrigible," Martha rolled her eyes, and Bruce and Thomas laughed.
A man bumped right into Thomas, sending him stepping backwards, "Hey, could you help me?" the rough-looking man with a sinister smiled said to the family. "I was just hungry, Mac. Could you give me some money, just enough for some food?"
"Thomas …" Martha said warily, holding Bruce close.
"Don't worry, Martha, no harm in helping a fellow Gothamite out," Thomas said, pulling out his billfold.
"Yup no harm at all," the man said, pulling the billfold from Thomas' hand then tearing Martha's pearl necklace off her.
"Now see here!" Thomas called, reaching for the man.
What happened next would forever repeat in young Bruce's mind.
Bruce's blue eyes widened in terror as his parents fell down to the ground on either side of him, neither of them breathing or showing any signs of life as a puddle of red fluid began to gather around them. He glanced up at the man's wide toothy grin, "Tell me, Kid," he asked Bruce, "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
The man cocked his pistol and placed it at the frozen in fear child's forehead, but quickly looked back at the sound of sirens, "See ya around, Kid," the man laughed before disappearing into the shadows.
Bruce looked down at his parents, "mom … dad …" He whimpered, shaking his mother and father, but they didn't stir. Realization struck him, and he dropped to his knees. He wanted to make that man pay. He wanted to hurt him. Stop him from doing this again, to stop this from ever happening again. Bruce Wayne would have his revenge …KNIGHTS
Chapter 1: Forever ChangedPresent Day, Middleton, California
"SHEGO!" The blue-skinned mad scientist, Dr. Drakken, barked, "Don't just let her hit you! Stop her!" He barked from the wall of his current lair.
"Hey! If you think you can do better, I'd be more than happy to let you jump right in!" Shego, his pale, green-skinned partner and lackey, yelled back as she dodged a kick.
"What's the matter, Shego?" Kim Possible, the redheaded teen hero asked, quirking an eyebrow at her long-time arch foe, "You're not getting slow in your old age, are you?"
Shego growled angrily before diving at Kim.
Kim ducked, and Shego flew over her. She glanced back at Kim as she landed and suddenly felt something hard hit her in the back of the head.
"Never underestimate sidekicks," Ron Stoppable smirked down at the laid out Shego. He then brought his hand up and ran it through his blonde hair, "Yup, we bad, huh KP?"
Drakken ran up and grabbed Shego, "Kim Possible! You think you're all that, but you're not!" He hissed before running with his proverbal tail between his legs.
"Is it just me, or are they getting to be less and less trouble," Kim said, dusting her hands together.
"Either that, or we're getting really, really good," Ron said, patting Kim on the shoulder.
"You're probably right, Ron," Kim nodded, smiling at her best friend, "Nothing can stand up to Team Possible." She said with a wink.
Ron smiled and then gasped, "Kim, you're late!"
"Josh! I was supposed to meet him at the movies!" Kim all but screamed.
"You better move it; meet you two at Bueno Nacho afterwards?" Ron asked, pushing Kim toward the door.
"Have we ever missed it?" Kim winked before running out the door.
"See ya, Kim," Ron waved before walking back toward his home.
"Kim Possible, always Kim Possible," Drakken complained, marching back and forth in his and Shego's backup hideout. "No matter what I do, she's always one step ahead!"
"Would you stop talking so loud …" Shego groaned, holding an ice pack to the back of her head.
"Having troubles, Drewby?" a light-hearted voice chimed from the shadows that caused Drakken to freeze in fright.
"Jack, heh, how you doing, big brother?" Drakken greeted nervously, looking around for any signs of how he entered.
"Oh, can't complain, can't complain," He stated in a calm, almost demonic voice, "Least I can't say I've been having my butt cheeks blistered by a cheerleader and a nerd."
"Jack?" Shego asked, cocking an eyebrow at her boss. "Dr. D, you never told me you had a brother."
"Oh, I came before your time, green jeans," 'Jack' stated, "I've set up shop on the east coast these days."
"Yeah, having your butt cheeks blistered by a grown man in a Halloween costume!" Drakken shot defiantly.
"Batsy is no ordinary mortal, little bro," the voice said threateningly. "But I'd rather be taken down time and again by a living urban legend than by a couple of teenagers and a hamster."
"That's naked mole rat," Shego chimed.
"Whatever," Jack groaned, "The point is, I saw you could use some help, so I thought I'd come over and help my baby bro out a little." The man chuckled as he stepped out of the shadows, showing snow-white, bleached skin, bright green hair, and a really broad toothy grin. He was wearing a purple and yellow suit and a stringy tie, with a yellow flower over his front pocket. "We might even get a good laugh!"
Shego got a glimpse of the stranger. "YOU!" she half screamed, stumbling out of the chair before crawling backwards toward Drakken in fear.
"Your brother is … your brother is … your brother is …" Shego stuttered, repeating that phrase over and over.
"Yes, Shego," Drakken rolled his eyes, "He's a real Joker, huh?"
"You're crazy, nacho brain!" Josh hissed, raising an arm to emphasize his statement.
"I've been called worse, jock boy," Ron replied just as angrily, pounding his fist on the table from across the booth at the Bueno Nacho. "I'm right about this, though, AND you KNOW IT!"
"No, Mick Foley walking out was scripted," Josh restated his theory, "It was all a show to publicize the next Pay-Per-View!"
"Would you two hold it down? I'm trying to call my parents," Kim scolded her best friend and boyfriend, who both bluntly ignored her.
"I'm telling you, he got mad because Stone Cold got his job back and they gave him the boot," Ron continued, "Nothing to do with any scripting except for the return of the great Texas Rattlesnake!"
"Right!" Ron chimed then realization hit him, "Oh damn you …" he growled as Josh sat back triumphantly.
"I'm getting worried …" Kim stated as she put down her Kimmunicator.
"Don't worry, KP," Ron smiled, "I'm sure Foley will come back."
"No, he won't," Josh corrected.
"I'm not worried about that," Kim rolled her eyes, "My parents aren't answering the phone. They told me to call as soon as we met up with you, Ron."
"I'm sure they're fine, KP," Ron smiled.
"I guess …" Kim said, sounding unconvinced.
Before Ron and Josh could go about reassuring her, her Kimmunicator went off. "What's the sitch, Wade?" Kim asked, looking at the youth on the monitor.
"Found Drakken and Shego's hideout!" Wade smiled, "Sorry to interrupt your date."
"No big, Wade, where are they hiding?" Kim asked, nodding toward Ron.
"A warehouse down by the port," Wade said, "Here's the address. Be careful, Kim!" Wade said as the screen blinked out.
"We're on, Ron," Kim said looking up at the boys. "Sorry to have to cut and run, Josh," she said, kissing her boyfriend's cheek.
"As you say, Kim, no big," Josh nodded, "I knew what I was getting into when I started dating a hero." He then looked to their mutual friend, "Take care of our girl, Ronnie."
Ron nodded and the duo ran out of the Bueno Nacho.
"This the place, KP?" Ron asked, easing into the seemingly abandoned warehouse.
"According to Wade it is," She said, turning on her flashlight as they walked through the maze-like set of up crates and boxes.
The pair walked out of the maze and into a large, dark central area of the warehouse. Suddenly, a blinding spotlight came down on them followed shortly by the rest of the lights in the warehouse.
"Trap!" Kim gasped, as she and Ron took fighting stances.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of all ages, Mole Rats clothed and unclothed! Do you know what time it is? It's time for everyone's favorite game show! Judge! Jury! And Executioner!" The Joker announced overly dramatic as he stepped out on a massive stage in the center of the warehouse beside two covered tanks on his left and right.
"I am your host, The Joker, and this is my lovely assistant," The Joker said, making a hand gesture toward a woman to the side in a skintight black and red jester suit and her face marked with white and black clown make up, "The lovely Ms. Harley Quinn!"
"Who … what do you want?" Kim asked, forcing down the nervousness. 'This was just another wacko criminal,' she thought, 'Ron and I can handle this …'
"I just want to have a few laughs, my dear Kimberly Anne!" The Joker chuckled, "Now, without further ado, let's get on with the show! The rules are quite simple really, Kimmie-cub. You and your little idiot sidekick will play the roles of Judge and Jury while I, the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker, will be playing the role of Executioner!"
"What?" Kim gulped, her insides clenching in fear.
"What the heck are you talking about, Clown boy?" Ron said, stepping before Kim protectively.
"Ain't this sweet, the sidekick trying to protect the frightened heroine!" Joker squealed, and then grew serious again, "Let me make it clearer: we have two couples behind curtains #1 and #2 respectively. One lucky couple will get the chance of a lifetime! The chance to have had an encounter with The Joker and lived to tell about it, while the other will be getting a one-way ticket to that lovely resort called The Afterlife!"
Kim and Ron looked at each other, then back at the Joker, both working hard at figuring a game plan, when the situation got worse.
"Harley, introduce our contestants!" Joker chimed, and Harley Quinn pranced over to Curtain #1 and pulled it. The two faces Kim saw made her heart shatter and her lungs fill with panic.
"Behind this curtain are the brilliant rocket scientist and loving father, Dr. James T. Possible, and his lovely wife, esteemed brain surgeon, and working mom, Dr. Andrea Possible!"
"Oh no …" Kim gripped Ron's arm mostly to keep her steady as the insane woman slinked over to the second curtain.
"Behind this curtain is the jack of all trades and respectable father, Donald Stoppable, and his lovely, banker wife and loving mother, Barbara Jo Stoppable!"
"Let them go!" Ron growled, locking eyes with his terrified parents.
"Oh, I will, Ronnie, I will, but only one couple," Joker laughed, "One of you is leaving an orphan, but which will it be? Kim or Ron?"
"KP, now would be the time for one of your grand, heroic plans …" Ron said, glancing back at his redheaded best friend, but his heart dropped at the sight he saw. Kim's face was pale and contorted in panic while her head shook back and forth in denial. Her breath came in short hicks as she began to hyperventilate.
Ron's mind raced. Maybe, just maybe he could pull it off. 'Let's see, I can make it on my own if need be, won't like it, but still … then there's Kim, Jim, and Tim, there's more at stake there …' Ron glanced up at the still horrified Kim. "It's going to be ok, Kim, don't worry."
Ron dashed forward past the clown and shoved Harley Quinn out of the way throwing open the hatch on Mr. and Mrs. Possible's tank, locking down his own parents' tank and activating gas pumps in with them in the process.
"MOM! DAD!" Ron called, trying to pull open the hatch to his parents' tank, his adrenaline going higher from hearing their screams mixed with strange laughter.
"Death by Smilex!" Joker laughed, "Best way to go is... with a smile!"
"You … you bastard …" Ron growled when the clouded tank grew silent.
"Oh, that's not a very nice thing to say," Joker grinned, "I mean, I think I did them a favor! They could have died in a car wreck, or a plane crash, or one of your other little friends could have got them and disfigured them horribly, but I, out of my great mercy and sense of humanism, am going to make you remember them with a nice, big, happy smile!"
Joker then turned to Kim, who was with her parents and the trembling with rage Ron. "You know how I said the rest of you were leaving here alive?" he asked, pulling a pistol from his jacket, "I lied."
The madman pointed the gun directly at Kim and squeezed the trigger. Just before the gun went off, Ron leapt in between the gun and his best friend. He was surprised that despite the sound of the gun going off, he felt no pain. He opened one of his eyes and was stunned to see a flag with the word 'BANG' on it sticking out of the gun. Joker laughed insanely, pointing his finger at the four, "OH IF YOU COULD SEE YOUR FACES!"
"You're … what's wrong with you?" Kim growled, getting ready to pounce, but the sound of shattering glass above them stopped her attack.
Joker looked down at the floor and saw the large, bat-shaped shadow growing around him, "Oh pooh."
The pale skinned freak was knocked to the ground by a towering man, well over six foot, wearing gray and black tights, a long batwing-like cloak, and a pointy eared cowl covering the upper part of his face.
"Batman! Nice of you to join the fun!" Joker laughed, rolling over to look up at the Dark Knight, "Get em, Harley!"
"Right, Mr. J!" the clown girl chimed and ran toward the intimidating Detective. Harley dove to tackle the man, but only made contact with the Batman's gloved fist right across the bridge of her nose.
The girl stumbled backwards, but quickly steadied herself before she was hit with a roundhouse kick, sending her flying through the air and hitting the ground near the Possibles and lone Stoppable with a sickening thud.
While Batman was laying to waste Joker's partner, the self-proclaimed Clown Prince of Crime was sneaking out the exit. "See ya around, Batsy!" Joker called, before running out.
The Bat let his cloak drape over his arms and started to stalk behind him, when Ron called behind him, "Help, please help my parents!"
The Batman turned toward the teenager, and the angry, pained look in Ron's eyes caused him to involuntarily step back. His face showing no emotions whatsoever, he stepped toward the gas-filled tank, "Stay back." his growling voice ordered before he threw a batarang into the glass. He then pressed a button on his belt causing the blinking bat-shaped boomerang to explode. "Wait for the gas to clear."
Ron and Kim waited 'til the gas was safely out of the vent.
"Bruce, could they have …" Mrs. Possible said quietly, approaching the Dark Knight.
"No." The Batman stated icily just before Ron's cries echoed through the room.
"Oh no …" Mrs. Possible gasped before Kim called for them. Mrs. Possible turned to her husband, "I'll see what I can do. You and … Batman … Batman?" she asked, looking around finding herself only with her husband, "Damn that man …"
She then turned sharply to Mr. Possible, "Don't just stand there! Call the police!" She called before running into the tank.
The sight inside the tank broke her heart. Ron sat on the floor between his two smiling, yet no longer breathing parents, with Kim holding him tightly.The blonde boy Mrs. Possible had thought of as her own was sobbing into her daughter's chest. Ronald's parents had the biggest, most ghastly looking smiles on their frozen faces.Their teethhad been turneda smoker's shade of yellow,while their eyes held a final, bloodshot andfearful expression.There was nothing she could do for his parents, but maybe, she could do something for him …
A few days after the Stoppables' funeral, Mrs. Possible and her husband quietly eased downstairs and found, with little surprise, their daughter and their choice-potential-son-in-law tangled together, asleepon the couch.
"Ronald, Kimmie Cub," Mr. Possible sounded, causing them both to jump and tumble together onto the floor.
"IT'S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!" The both cried in unison.
"Ahuh, Ahuh!" Rufus chimed from the coffee table.
"Ronald,James and I have been talking about this since … it happened, and …" Mrs. Possible started nervously.
"And we've decided, if you're ok with it, we'd liketo adopt you," Mr. Possible breathed, taking his wife's hand in his own worriedly.
"You mean … you … me... live here... permanently?" Ron blinked, hope growing in his eyes.
"That usually comes with being adopted, Ron," Kim chuckled.
"So, are you ok with that?" Mrs. Possible asked hopefully.
"Ok with it? When can we get it done?" Ron cheered, grabbing Mr. and Mrs. Possible in a fierce hug. "You've always been like my second parents anyway."
"In that case, let's all go to the court house now, and get it done," Mr. Possible smiled, and the group quickly migrated to the family car.
"WHAT?" They all cried in unison at the clerk.
"I'm sorry, but you can't adopt Mr. Stoppable," the Courthouse clerk repeated.
"Why can't they adopt me?" Ron asked with a mix of heartbrokenness and anger in his voice.
"Because you've already been adopted," the Clerk nodded, pulling out a folder and handing it to the teen. "filed two hours ago."
"Who?" Mrs. Possible growled.
The Possible clan all turned to see a tall man with dark, neatly combed hair, and deep blue eyes. He was wearing an expensive three-piece suit, "It's been some time, Andrea. I hope your doing all right. A reallybeautiful family you have here." The man then turned to Mr. Possible, "You must be James, let me introduce myself. The name's Wayne, Bruce Wayne."
He then turned to the twins, "Twin boys. Bless you, Andy. Heaven knows what Alfred would have done if there was two of me." he then turned to the angry Kim. "And the lovely, legendary Kim Possible, word is you can do anything. Keep up the goodwork and you'll be to Middleton what The Batman is to Gotham."
Bruce then turned to Ron, "Now, Ron, I wonder if I could talk to you privately?"
Ron blinked, but nodded dumbly and let Bruce lead him away.
"You can't let this happen, Dad, Mom," Kim said worriedly, watching Ron walk into an empty room.
"Nothing we can do, Kimmie …"
"Why?" Ron asked, looking at Bruce's back, "I've never met you before in my life!"
"Yes, you have," Bruce said in a deeper voice, "We meet a few nights ago. The night your parents were murdered by the Joker."
"I … you're … you're … Him?" Ron blanched as Bruce turned, and stared in shock at Bruce's much colder looking eyes.
"You feel it, don't you," Bruce asked, his gaze never wavering, "The hunger. You want Joker to pay. You want topay him backthe same pain he caused you. Don't you?"
"Yes or no, Ronald."
"… Yes." Ron said, glancing away from the man.
"What do you feel?" Bruce pressed.
"Fear, I'm afraid he'll come back and hurt KP or her family or someone else I care about. And also hate, I feel a lot of hate…and pain…"
"Good, that's expected," Bruce nodded, "You can harness that pain, that hate, that fear, you can use it to make you stronger. I can teach you to. If you'll let me."
"Why are you doing this?" Ron asked, tears brimming his eyes.
"The Possibles love you, couldn't love you more if you were of their own flesh, but they can't help you with this," Bruce continued, "The hatred will fester, it will continue unchecked until you push them away. Make them hate you, you'll make anyone who could care for you loathe you. I know. First hand."
"I've been where you are, Ron," Bruce pressed onward, "When I was even younger then you, a monster took my parents from me. Killed them before my very eyes. I let the hatred go too long, and lost everything before I even had it. You can master it before it consumes you, Ron. I can teach you what you need to know. I can teach you to use your hatred and anger and not let it use you."
Bruce's cold expression quickly melted back to the carefree man he met in the hall way, "So what do you say? Want to give it a shot?"
"But …" Ron started.
"Give it a shot," Bruce offered again, "If you don't like it after a few months, I'll hand your custody over to the Possibles, no questions asked."
"Let's do it."
Later that evening, The Possibles, Josh, and Monique stood with Ron before Bruce's private jet.
"You're welcome to come and visit anytime, Ron," Mrs. Possible said, tears already running down her cheek.
"I know Mrs. P, Mr. P," Ron said, hugging them both, "Thanks for at least trying to be adopt me. But official or not, I like thinking I'm a part of your family anyway."
"You know you are, Son," Mr. Possible cried, clamping Ron in a death grip.
Ron finally pried the man off him and turned to Monique, "Keep Bueno Nacho in business for me, Mon," Ron smiled, giving the girl a hug.
"I'll send you some Nacos if Gotham doesn't have any Bueno Nachos," Monique smiled, brushing a tear from her eye.
Ron was then surprised by Josh giving him a quick hug, but pulled back. Josh then whispered where only he and Ron could hear, "I know, Ron. But you can't blame me for enjoying it till you both figure it out. Until then, I'll keep our girl safe, ok?"
"Umm … care to explain that?" Ron blinked, pulling the sobbing Rufus from his pocket, "For the little guy?"
Josh laughed and glanced at Kim who was avoiding looking at her best friend; her shoulders were trembling with silent sobs. "You'll figure it out sooner or later, Ron."
Two identical sobbing boys then tackled Ron to the ground, "Don't go, Ron!" They cried in unison.
"Hey, you guys, I'm not gonna be gone forever," Ron said hugging the boys, "I'll be back, right?"
"You better," they again said in unison, helping the teen to his feet.
'You can do this …' Ron thought to himself as he turned to the last remaining person.
"Guess this is it, huh, KP?" Ron said, scratching the back of his head nervously.
"Yeah, guess so …" Kim said, still avoiding eye contact.
"Kim, look at me," Ron said, feeling his own tears forming when he locked with Kim's teary eyes. "I wasn't lying to the boys. I'm coming back. We're partners, right? Might have to become more part-time, but I'll never abandon you like that."
"Ron!" Kim cried, diving into his chest and wrapping her arms around him.
"Hey, hey, no tears, I'm gonna be rich now," Ron said trying to lighten the mood, "I'll buy you lots of shiny stuff."
"I don't want shiny stuff," Kim sobbed into his chest, "You can keep it all if my best friend won't leave me … ever …"
"Listen, KP, I'm not leaving you, got that?" Ron said sternly, pushing her back, but not out of their embrace. He quickly leaned forward and kissed her forehead, "I'll be back as soon as I can, ok? This is for the best. Trust me on that."
"I still don't want you to go …"
"Do you trust me?" He asked, making her look at him by cupping both her cheeks in his hands.
"With my life." She answered without a beat.
"Then stop being sad. I'm never saying goodbye to you because I'm coming back," Ron said before hugging her again fiercely.
"Master Ronald," an older English man said stepping out of the jet, "It's time, sir."
"Dude … I'm a sir …" Ron grinned, before coming back to reality. He glanced around at the sad faces of his friends and unofficial family, "Well, I'm gone, take it easy and be careful out there, KP, give Shego a good knock in the head for me next time you run into her."
"Will do, Ron," Kim smiled sadly, "Call when you get to your … n-new home …"
Ron smiled sadly at his best friend and gave a small wave before climbing up the steps and entered the private jet.
Ron glanced out the window of the jet and saw Kim on the ground sobbing into Josh's arms. He felt a pang of jealousy at the scene but also a more than a bit of guilt at causing his best friend pain. His muses were short-lived as he jumped from the sharp electric shock that coursed through him.
"OUCH!" He cried, glaring at Bruce who was holdingan electronic device, "What ya do that for?"
"Short circuiting the tracking chip you have inside you," Bruce explained, "I suggest you rest up."he said, as the plane started to take off. "When we get to Gotham, rest will not come easily."
"Ok …" Ron said, glancing around before a package landed in his lap.
"What's this?" Ron asked glancing at Bruce.
"I want you to try it on," Bruce smiled strangely, "Alfred made it just in your size."
Ron blinked in confusion before starting to unwrap the package. Ron pulled out a strange costume, and held up a red armored tunic with a sharp 'R' symbol on the corner of the chest area.
"You mean … you want me to be …" Ron gasped.
"When you're ready, and if you wish," Bruce nodded, "Yes."
To Be Continued …
Disclaimer: Batman and all characters related are owned by DC Comics, and Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, and all related characters are owned by Disney.