The Boogie Man
Alexnandru Van Gordon
Quite frankly, I think all things innocent children say are worth listening to. Whether it is the utter nonsense you have to ask them to repeat as you laugh your head off, or the simple tale that there is something lurking in their closest. Sometimes you should listen—I told my parents there was something big and hairy thing in my closet and they listened to me—what's more was that I was right. It was a huge wolf spider…I still don't like that memory even though I don't hate spiders…quite fascinating creatures, actually.
Well, I always thought it was neat that Robin, being this smart tiny kid, became a hero. I'm sixteen, and although many people think others my age speak too quickly, I think children aren't given as much credit as they deserve. The only ever lie because their afraid of the punishment you always give them even if you promise not too, and they won't tell you something unless it's important to them. If you have kids, I hope you listen to them—and always check for wolf spiders. My sister got a nasty bit from that little bugger in my closet…
QUICK NOTE: Robin is Richard Grayson; only nine years old, and that's pretty tiny when you consider it. My little cousin is quite little when I go to visit him, and he's nine—still can't understand what he says over the phone…
SUMMARY: Adopting the orphaned, acrobatic Richard Grayson was a big change in Batman's life. He likes the kid—and wants to be a good father, but you should listen to children when they speak of oddities and monsters…
DISCLAIMER: Don't own them—but I love hero stuff!
CHAPTER ONE: The shadows
It was the summer and, as he promised, Richard was allowed to stay up later now that he didn't have to worry about waking up early for school. When he said late, he sure as heck didn't mean as late as they had stayed up this night. It was five o-clock and the time practically flew by as they stopped at least eight different robbery attempts. With the help of his young ward, the job was done rather quickly, but five a.m.?...Someone was going to be cranky in the morning—and Alfred wasn't going to be there to help. He was off to visit a funeral in England, having a close relative die. Bruce didn't hesitate in allowing the man to go and reassured him that he and Dick could hold the fort alright on their own for a couple of days.
Why did Alfred look so worried when he left? It couldn't be that hard to take care of Dick.
Boy was he wrong.
Richard wasn't the type of kid who jumped at his shadow or whined and screamed whenever something happened to his displeasure, but he was hyper when he had nothing on his hands to do and trouble was seemingly fond of the boy. Bruce only left him in the den for a second before he heard a crashing noise and saw Dick catching an expensive vase. The small table it stood on was tipped over on the floor and a small pile of books had been scattered here and there. How or why it had fallen was beyond his understanding, but he passed it aside as a first time crime and didn't mention it to Dick besides telling him to be careful.
Nothing else came close to breaking in his house after that, but Richard went missing a considerably large amount of times. It was creepy in that first day the two of them were alone in the mansion. One moment Bruce would be staring at case files, Dick sitting next to him while he read a book—and then, without even noticing it, Dick was gone. It must have taken him an hour to find the boy before he went outside the house and saw Richard sitting up in a tree. He was watching a bird in it nest at the branch across from him, not scared in the least from the tremendous height he was sitting at. He didn't even notice Bruce until his surrogate father cleared his throat, arms crossed.
"Hi." The boy said curiously with the small wave of a hand. "Something wrong?"
"You've been out here the entire time?"
"No…" The boy stared up at the mansion. "I was on the roof a little while back."
The roof? What the heck was he doing on the roof?
He really didn't want to know, telling Robin to get out of the tree and to never climb back onto the roof again. He couldn't see how the boy would get up there in the first place…but Dick was an acrobat. There wasn't much that he couldn't do already—some things Bruce wouldn't want to try in a lifetime.
It was quiet after that and night fell rather fast after he interested Richard in another book. When it was time for the night patrol, Bruce swore he had never seen Dick as haywire before. The boy was ready and set to go in the Batmobile before Bruce had even changed into his suit, turning from the secretive billionaire Mr. Wayne into the Dark Knight, Batman. Robin…he had no idea why the boy preferred wearing a traffic light coloured suit. How did he ever sneak around at night?
Well, he could do it well enough at day. Why not during the night with happy colours on?
He was slipping on his gloves, opening the car side door when the a little voice startled him.
"Can I drive?"
He wasn't easy to scare, but he hadn't seen Robin slip into the driver's seat while he changed. "Do you have a license?" He asked; an eyebrow arched behind the cowl.
Robin made a face and moved to his seat, muttering a small No in bitter defeat. "But do you know where I can get one?"
He shivered internally at the thought. "Ummm…Canada?"
"How do I get there?"
"I drive…Hey! I can't drive!"
He smiled. "My point exactly."
Robin fumed quietly for a while longer as they drove off into Gotham, but his temper died quickly. He was rather excited to get outside the house again—staring out the window at everything while Batman drove on. Then he began to fiddle around with his seatbelt.
"What happens if I take this off?"
"You'll fly through the window if we're hit or I step on the brakes too fast." He replied quickly, glancing sideways at Robin in worry. The boy no longer teased the subject and ignored his seatbelt. Perhaps something was on the boy's mind…He was talking about a lot of odd things lately.
The night went through rather quickly—eight robberies stopped as said before. It was when Batman and Robin split up one last time in the night that she came along.
"Hey there." She said, standing just at the ledge of one of Gotham's tallest buildings. She was staring at the street below before she turned around to face him. "Up late, I see. Don't you usually go home early to put the baby bird to sleep?"
He frowned. "Why? What time is it?"
There was a pause and she arched an eyebrow as she stepped off the ledge toward him and smiled slyly. "Five a.m. What happened—lost your watch?"
Five a.m…That wasn't good—and how could he have lost track over time. More importantly, where the heck was Robin? The kid couldn't have gotten that far by now…
He turned to leave, but a laugh from the neutral enemy made him pause. She always had something to say that he usually ended up needing to know.
"He's fine, you know. I saw him head back to your wheels looking pretty tired…" She slowly walked up behind and around him to stand in his way. Grinning still, she eyed his lips with a lick of her own. "I'm sure he's fast asleep in your car."
"I've got to—"
She silenced him rather abruptly and he actually hesitated to pull away from the kiss. He knew he should have arrested her…but he should have done that a lot of other times too. It was late and he was tired—he wasn't exactly thinking straight.
Both adults jumped at the sound and the burglar almost fell as she stumbled away from him a few feet. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, both she and Batman turned to see Robin sitting near the ledge with his legs crossed. Rubbing a sore masked eye, the child yawned.
"What are you doing?"
Catwoman and Batman tried to find the right words, but neither could think of a plausible explanation.
"We were…" Catwoman rubbed the back of her head. "…Socializing."
"Socializing?...That's what they say to do at school, but I've never seen it done that way before."
Batman tried hard not to laugh. Catwoman, blushing slightly from either being caught off guard or embarrassed by a small boy, turned around and began to walk away. Batman had half a mind to arrest her…but he couldn't think of any reason to right now. Besides, he wasn't going to chase her until the break of dawn and leave Robin waiting.
"You should stop socializing." Robin stated, more as though he was ordering it than suggesting it. "If the cops see that they won't be too happy."
Batman allowed himself to laugh freely this time. Kids said the darnest things, and Robin was even right. That wouldn't look too good for his reputation if someone saw that happen. He was lucky it was only his son; even if Robin was too young to get into that sort of stuff—all little kids were like that.
"Come on, let's go home."
Robin shrugged and stood. Batman could tell that the child didn't want to admit he was tired, but he was—especially when he almost fell on the way back to the car from simply walking…
By time they came back, Robin was fast asleep. Batman took his cape, gloves, mask and boots, carrying him up from the cave to put him to bed. His mind was still on the event with Catwoman—not to mention he was slightly embarrassed about his son seeing the little meeting with the thief. He would have to explain it later to the boy when he was less tired.
He strolled into the kitchen, wanting to grab a glass of water for bed after putting Dick away and getting dressed—and saw Richard sitting at the table. The child had cleaned himself up and was sitting in shorts and a t-shirt for bed, hot in the large house since summer finally made its way to Gotham. He yawned, rubbing his eye, and drank some of his own water from a small glass on the table.
"Something wrong?" His father asked, eyeing the boy as he grabbed his own glass from the cabinet. "You should be in bed."
The boy shifted uncomfortably in his seat and drank more of his water, frowning with a little scowl at the far window. "Don't need to sleep."
Should have known.
Bruce took a seat at the table and eyed Richard. He was a little pale, shaking ever-so-slightly as though there was a chilly breeze at his back. He looked scared…but highly annoyed, almost as though he was reflecting over a bitter defeat.
Watching the oblivious child, he waved a hand in front of his son's face and was answered by a small jump. The boy drank more water, shivering again.
"What happened to you?"
He paused and thought that over for a moment. "To whom exactly did you lose?"
That was…helpful… "And who are they?"
He shifted again. "The monsters in my room."
That answered a lot. All children had nightmares and believed there was something haunting them while they slept—it had to happen sooner or later to Dick, and he'd get over it in the end. Probably even sooner. Richard fought men more terrifying than any nightmare Bruce could recall having in his own childhood.
"They should be gone by now."
Robin shook his head quickly, looking more frightened now. "No, no—they're there."
He laughed and stood; his glass of water in hand. "Come on, kid. Time for bed."
The boy shook his head again and shrunk down a little into his seat. "I can sleep downstairs."
"But that's darker."
The boy paused in consideration, but he was bent on staying out of his room. "It's safer."
As true as that was Bruce shook his head and pointed toward to the hall by the kitchen. Richard, in a disobedient response, lay his head down on the table and closed his eyes, pretending he was asleep. When Bruce grabbed his hand and threatened to drag him down the hall, Dick didn't move. He went so far as allowed himself to fall from his chair before he sat up on the floor and frowned.
Bruce ignored the child's plea and picked him up, carrying the sleepy child back up to his room. Tossing him down gently onto the bed, he watched as Dick scrambled toward the head board and leaned against it with his back, knees held close to his chest. His eyes were scanning the room cautiously, ignoring Bruce as he studied his young ward. Honestly, he had never seen the boy this frightened before. Even up against the Joker he failed to show this true fright.
"I'll check the closet if it makes you feel better." Bruce offered, but Richard quickly shook his head just like he had in the kitchen. "Under the bed then?"
"They aren't there."
"Then where do you think they're hiding?"
I think that's a suitable place to leave you off. Eager to find out who this fiend is—or if there is really even a monster at all? Well, read on. I might be late with updates since I'm working on four other stories at a time, but if you guys really like this one I will make sure that I update at least once a week. I hope you enjoyed what I left you with so far—and keep in mind that this is my first Batman and Robin fic. I'm used to writing Teen Titans…
Alexnandru Van Gordon