Per request of TribeKitten, I have posted this in the Teen Titans section of Fanfiction.net as well as in the Batman section!
By Amos Whirly
They call me Nightwing.
I think it fits me. I wear black, only highlighted with blue. My hair is black and long. My mask, which only covers the bridge of my nose and my eyes, is black.
And I'm alone. I'm no one's partner. I'm no one's superior.
I'm just me.
Dick Grayson by day. Nightwing in shadows.
As I sit in the reclining chair in my loft, I stare blankly at the ceiling. It is not the first time I've let my thoughts wander.
I can still remember the horror of watching my parents fall to their death. It was needless, a stunt executed only for a small-time crook to collect insurance money from our circus. I was eleven years old.
I was alone then too, until he showed up.
Bruce Wayne, multi-billionaire and all-around klutz. I had no idea what he saw in me. I guess, in a way, I still don't. He took me in. He raised me. He dried my tears and made me forget my nightmares. He took care of me. Well, him and Alfred, Bruce's loyal butler. It was a good life. And it got even better once I discovered Bruce's dark secret.
Bruce Wayne was Batman, the caped crusader who protected Gotham City from the evils of marauding psychopaths.
The Batman, with a cool car and a cool jet and a secret cave full of awesome gadgets. At first, I couldn't believe it. Clumsy Bruce Wayne was responsible for the capture and arrest of countless villains.
But it was true.
After many long months, I finally convinced him to let me help him. He started training me. He taught me everything. Everything. Martial arts. Mathematics. Computers. Weapons. Warfare. He taught me how to think, how to act, how to move, and how to live.
He taught me how to be a hero.
We worked the night together. Batman and Robin.
What a stupid name. It seems so innocent now. So much like the stupid little boy I used to be.
Then, life got rocky.
I was so tired of living in his shadow, so tired of listening to him all the time, so frustrated with obeying his every command just because he thought he knew better than I did.
I was fifteen.
I hooked up with a group of misfit superheroes, and we started living together, protecting another hapless city. And before I knew it, we became friends. The five of us made an unstoppable team.
Cyborg, a mechanically altered teenager, was the closest thing to a best friend I'd ever had. We shared many of the same hobbies, as well as the same sense of humor.
Beast Boy, a metamorph who could change into any kind of animal, was a dork. He was so stupid, but he was probably the most loyal person I had ever met in my life. Aside from Alfred, that is.
Raven—oh, Raven. I never understood her. I never really connected with her. Dark, distant, and cynical—I guess she just reminded me way too much of Bruce for me to ever really like her.
And then there was Starfire.
Wow. Just the thought of her fills me with a warmth I can't explain.
Starfire was an alien. She was kind, sweet, compassionate, beautiful, and innocent. So innocent that she had no idea what she was getting herself into. Earth, along with all its customs and traditions, was totally foreign to her. I caught her once drinking mustard.
A tangy yellow beverage, she called it.
She made me laugh. She made me happy. Something I hadn't felt in a very very long time.
We called ourselves the Teen Titans.
Another stupid name for another bunch of stupid kids who thought they could actually make a difference in the world.
Eventually, while I was working with the Titans, Bruce and I started talking again. We stayed in contact, and he even pulled us out of a few jams. Surreptitiously, of course. If he had actually shown his face, he knew I would have been angry. Mostly all the help he provided us with came in the form of financial support.
After all, it takes a lot of money to protect a city. And it takes even more to keep five teenagers in clothing that actually fits, not to mention the amount of food that had to be stored in the fridge.
But, like all good things do, the Titans eventually faded. We stopped Slade once and for all, and the city no longer needed us. We thought about staying together—even relocating to another city—but we finally concluded that it would be best to go our separate ways.
I admit it freely.
It hurt to watch Raven and Beast Boy and Cyborg walk away, and I felt like my heart had been ripped out as I watched Starfire flying into the heavens, returning to her home planet.
I was eighteen years old, and I was alone.
So I did the only thing I could do.
I went back to Gotham.
I went back to Bruce.
For a few months, we barely spoke to each other. The tension between us was so thick that the sharpest batarang couldn't have penetrated it.
At last, Alfred couldn't take it any more. He demanded that we make peace.
And we did.
The one thing Bruce and I always agreed on was Alfred. We would have done anything for him.
We made up, and life returned to abnormal. I went to college. I dated, although I never really forgot Starfire. I found myself drawn to a certain girl at school, mostly because the fact that she had red hair.
Her name was Barbara Gordon, the commissioner's daughter. Imagine my surprise when Barb revealed a secret of her own.
Geez, and I thought Robin was a stupid name. Not hard to see who she idolized.
I finally finished college, and I came up with a crazy idea. I wanted to see the world. So I talked Bruce into it. He agreed. He thought it was a good idea.
So I left. I went everywhere. Saw everything. Talked to every person I could find.
I looked for Cyborg. No luck. Beast Boy and Raven were nowhere to be found. I was truly disappointed, but I hadn't really planned on ever seeing them again anyway. I guess.
After a while I came back to Gotham, and—imagine my surprise—when I found that Bruce had taken in yet another orphan with a score to settle.
I admit it even now.
Tim Drake is a good kid. He's good at what he does, too. I liked him right away, if not just for the fact that Tim would give Bruce another protégé to dote on.
I passed the torch to him. Tim became Robin, which was fine with me. But I wasn't ready to stop fighting crime yet.
Bruce had taught me too well for me to just turn my back on Gotham.
So I made another suit. I bought my own loft. I built my own gadgets.
I became Nightwing.
I worked alone.
Bruce and I are still on speaking terms, but I don't think he's ever really forgiven me for leaving.
The clock on my mantelpiece chimes midnight.
Time for my rounds.
I slip into my costume quickly and mount my bike, and in an instant I am flying through the air, the humid evening wind beating against my face.
This is the life.
This is my life.
I stop my bike on the roof of one of the downtown buildings and start scanning the city. I hear a slight thud behind me, and I smile vaguely.
Barb would never get those silent landings right.
"Nice night for a spin," I say aloud.
"Very funny," she snaps coming up beside me, her yellow cape flapping in the wind and her feminine form very obvious in her skin-tight costume. "I know very well that I'm not as quiet as Batman without you rubbing it in. I'm still new at this, if you'll remember."
"Where are you patrolling?"
"I don't know."
"Fine, then, don't tell me. Batman thinks something may be going down north of the city."
"Then, I'll go south."
I climb onto my bike and gun the engine. Batgirl sighs frustratedly, the wind catching in her red locks.
For a moment I look at her.
Her posture, the expression on her partially masked face, the confused feeling I sense from her – it reminds me so much of Starfire that I just want to scream.
"What are you waiting for?" I snarl instead. "Go north."
I gun the engine again and drive off the edge of the building, leaving her staring at my back.
I race down a deserted Gotham street, eyes open and alert for anything out of the ordinary, but my mind is far away. I'm a teenager again, sitting on top of the Titan Tower, watching the wind in Starfire's flaming hair.
I've never forgotten her, I realize as I drive down the street. I don't think I ever will.
Above me, a green star flashes against the ebony backdrop of the night.