Bruce Wayne/Batman, Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Kathy Kane/Batwoman, Barbara and James Gordon, the Joker, and all other important characters belong to DC Comics/Time Warner.
I am using them without permission, however I have not and don't expect to make money from this.

Rated PG-13 : violence, language, sexuality, some mature concepts.

Author's notes: Many thanks as always to my beta, Cecilia, and to Rach for betaing the action sequences, especially chapter 8. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed, the encouragement means a lot to me!

To a large extent this AU series has been my effort to blend the older and newer versions of Batman and Robin/Nightwing in a coherent and believable way, especially the story of how the team broke up and later reconciled. The canon version of that breakup from Batman 408 just made no sense at all. Why would Bruce suddenly decide that being Robin was too dangerous for Dick to do anymore? Why would he do it when Dick was at least nineteen, and after he had come close to death many times before? Most of all, why would he barely wait for Dick to be out the door before taking on a younger, less qualified Robin? Then, Jason Todd was killed. You'd think Batman would be through with partners at that point, but no, he very soon had another teenager as the new Robin. Now the pattern has repeated: Tim Drake left, Stephanie Brown took over and promptly got herself killed too. Lots of dramatics, no logic.

I realize this version has now been revised (and probably will be again!) but the new one doesn't seem much better, with Bruce now 'firing' Dick for not being around enough. Anyway, I thought such a drastic break between two people who obviously care for each other very much had to have more motivation behind it, so I made my own version. I hope you like the results.

Reviews are greatly appreciated.

Silent Night

Curtain Call

- - -

For the second time in two days he had a sense of déjà vu, as he stood in the same small apartment he had first visited almost a year ago. He had come this time as Bruce Wayne, knocked on the door instead of forcing a window; when there was no answer he had let himself in with the key Dick had given him, intending to wait. But waiting would do no good this time. The furniture was still there. But the closets and drawers were empty, the personal items had disappeared. The apartment was empty and abandoned. Dick Grayson was gone.

After his showdown with the Joker was over and the police had come and relieved him of his prisoners, he had headed home, changed clothes in the silence of the Batcave, tended to a few cuts and scrapes, and finally climbed the stairs to his house. He had gone to the room Dick was using, intending to explain, to make another attempt to persuade him, this time using reason instead of orders, guilt, and violence. Even more, he had wanted to apologize and try to make amends. But the door had been standing open, the room empty, Dick's things gone. He hadn't needed Alfred's accusing eyes or the set of house keys left on the night table to tell him what had happened. So in the morning he had come here, with the same intentions, and the same result.

For a moment Bruce was angry, his mind filling again with thoughts of ingratitude. Dick had abandoned him, run out when he needed him most... Need? When did I start needing anyone? But try as he might, he couldn't quite find it in his heart to blame Dick. Instead he found himself wondering how he would have felt if someone tried to force him to stop being Batman, to give up the thing that gave his life meaning and had become such an ingrained part of him that he couldn't imagine separating himself from it.

No wonder Dick had fought back. No wonder he had left. He wasn't a quitter; he would go on doing what he thought was right, whether or not he had to do it alone. And he had been right that it was his decision to make. He had an iron core of strength that didn't always show on the surface, but was always there to carry him through. A surge of pride lifted Bruce's spirits momentarily - the kind of pride a father would feel for his son.

Too little, too late. Too little understanding of Dick's character; too late to tell Kathy how he felt, or even to say goodbye. He had lost both of them, in different ways. Kathy was gone forever. Now Dick was too. Nothing left but this empty, silent room.

Where would the kid go? Bruce knew instinctively that Dick would have too much pride to stay in Gotham after being told to get out. What would he do, with no home, no job, and not much money? Not my problem, he tried to tell himself. But it didn't work, the bright, sharp knife of guilt entered his heart anyway. What could he do about it? Search, find him, make sure he was all right. But if Dick really didn't want to be found, it could take a long time and a great deal of effort and might result in nothing. If he didn't want to be found - maybe it would be better to leave things this way. Dick was a survivor. He'd always land on his feet.

For a moment Bruce thought he could almost see them before him, the three of them: Batman, Nightwing, and Batwoman, together. They had been quite a team, he could see that now. He let the vision dim and disappear. It was over. Heavily, he turned to the door, walked through it, and closed it behind him with a final click.

Batman had begun his career alone. He would end it the same way. Alone.

- End -

The series will be continued in Chilled.