Title: Pain (1/?)
Continuity: Comic book.
"The ally secure?"
Batman clenched his fists tightly; the firm weave in his gloves could be heard crackling against itself.
The young men present tried with all that was in them to keep
a stone straight face, staring straight out into the Gotham night skyline.
Robin let a small snort escape, which caused Nightwing to bite
on his own lips in a futile attempt to suppress a smile.
Batman gave a weary sigh.
They'd been teasing him all night.
He'd been in Gotham that day visiting his favourite girl, a
certain red headed on-line goddess.
As a joke, he thought that Batman needed a small dose of his own medicine.
The game had been going on for nearly three hours, in-between
the muggings, robberies and car jackings.
But it was obvious now that they were.
"Don't you have your own city to look after, Brat?"
"Yeah…" Nightwing replied calming down, a wide grin still
plastered across his face.
"Go ahead, Oracle." Batman replied.
"My dad's under fire!
"We're on our way, Babs!" Nightwing responded as the three
went over the side of the building.
"Montoya, Report!" Gordon barked into his radio.
"I'm pinned behind the south wall!" Renee Montoya responded
when she could.
"Had to abandon the car!
Commissioner Gordon, squatting behind the engine block of his own car, started as a bullet passed through the car door just inches from his face.
"Tell me about it." He muttered to himself.
"He was around back when – *DIOS!* – when the shooting started!"
"That last one ricocheted a little close!"
"Back up's on the way!"
The side mirror near his head exploded, a shard of it cutting him in the temple.
I've gotta get outta here, he thought.
There was an explosion from within the warehouse where most of the gunfire was hailing.
This warehouse was *supposed* to be empty.
The gunfire seemed to cease momentarily following the
He was about to try contacting the Lieutenant when the gunfire started up again.
On the north side of the warehouse, Lieutenant Bullock clicked
off his radio.
Damn, damn, dammit, Det. Allen swore to himself.
They hadn't seen him yet, but they were getting closed.
There were several thuds accompanied by several grunts and
Someone touched Allen on his shoulder and he bolted forward into a roll, coming up in a crouch, his gun poised towards his previous position.
The young boy who stood there held his hands up defensively.
"Are you alright, sir?"
"I'm fine." He replied standing.
"Yessir." Robin replied.
Allen looked up and around, but he found that aside from the perps, he was now alone.
Officer Montoya peeked around the side of the wall, staying as
close to the ground as she possibly could.
"Oh, mamma…" she muttered.
A loud 'clang' noise caught her attention and she could just
barely make out a line that had clamped onto the side of the truck and extended
to somewhere on the top of the warehouse.
Montoya checked her clip.
They'd seen him.
Lieutenant Bullock wasn't exactly the kind of man that was easy to hide.
The two gunmen opened fire, their bullets sawing through the
oil barrels like so much paper.
He stood and cocking his weapon, emerged from the stacked
That's why he'd aimed for their heads.
These two wouldn't be a burden to the legal system anymore.
And Bullock wouldn't loose any sleep over it.
Suddenly the wind was knocked out of the officer as he felt
himself being tackled to the ground from behind.
The gunfire picked up once more, but surprisingly it didn't seem to be in her direction.
Steeling another look around the corner again, Renee saw the would-be assailants, firing wildly and falling to the ground as a dark figure enveloped them, two and three and four at a time.
It was over in seconds.
All eleven lay sprawled around the truck in various stages of
Montoya approached and immediately began cuffing one of the men.
"All clear?" She questioned.
Batman was securing the other criminals with plastic
As she finished, Batman fully opened the doors at the back of
Hundreds dollar bills.
"Madre Dios…This is Treasury Level."
"There haven't been any bank hits in the area, separate or
total to produce that amount of money." Commented a voice from behind
"They're not bank robbers.
"For what?" Renee questioned.
"We'll hopefully get some answers once the fire department gets done with this building."
Allen found Robin kneeling on the back of an assailant, securing him with plastic ties.
"You know, one of these days you guys are gonna have to teach me how to do that disappearing thing." He said.
Robin looked up and him and smiled.
"So I've noticed.
"That's where Nightwing was going." Robin replied.
Flattened out on his stomach, the air began to return to
Bullock sighed and closed his eyes.
Nightwing's eyes were closed tight.
"Hey kid?" Bullock said, lightly nudging him in the
He stopped when the flickering light from the warehouse fire drew his attention to dark spot growing into the blue stylized wing that crossed the young man's chest.
"Aw, jeez…" he swore and fished his radio out of the pocket of his trench coat.
Robin and Allen were almost to the north side when the call
came out over the short range.
"Nightwing!" Robin exclaimed a moment before skidding to a
halt beside his fallen brother.
Nightwing didn't respond, nor did he open his eyes.
"You're gonna be okay, Wing."
A moment later a shadow fell over the group as Batman
descended on them.
"Damn kid saved my life." Bullock muttered before the
Commissioner could ask.
Gordon watched as Batman disconnected his long cape and placed
it over the boy.
Sirens could be heard in the near distance and were becoming louder.
Jim stepped forward.
"Batman, there's an ambulance coming.
"But, Batman…!" Robin implored.
"The Doctor is closer."
There was a screech of tires as the Batmobile skidded around the corner and came to a stop.
Batman gingerly picked up his fallen son and the care with which he did it was not lost on the officers gathered there.
"Take the cycle." He said to Robin as the boy opened the
passenger door for him.
Once Nightwing was secure and the door closed, Batman looked to the police officers, gave a curt nod and slid into the driver's seat.
The Batmobile peeled away, the sound of sirens singing in the
Commissioner James Gordon jutted his chin out authoritatively.
"This never happened."
"What?" Montoya questioned.
"This never happened." He repeated.
"You want us to falsify our reports?" Allen asked in surprise.
The Commissioner stood nose to nose with the Detective, his eyes flaring.
"You heard what I said, Detective.
Montoya grabbed her new partner's arm and pulled him back
slightly from their angry superior.
Two police cruisers pulled up.
The Commissioner carefully looked the Detective in his
Jim nodded and the officers went about their business of organizing a cleanup of the mess.
It was the longest drive to the Gotham Medical Centre that Batman had ever taken.
From the Midtown Warehouse district to the nearest hospital
was a fifteen-minute drive in the Batmobile.
Batman made it in six.
In the car, Nightwing's ragged breathing cut into his very soul.
Dr. Leslie Thompkins was waiting for them at the secret
entrance when they arrived.
Two hours passed, sometime during which, Barbara Gordon arrived.
She was surprised and pained to see Batman there.
The Bat, in civilian garb, stood silently staring at the doors to the medical bay, his gaze intense as though he were *willing* his son to survive.
The medics emerged, their faces downcast.
Nightwing… Dick Grayson was very weak.
They weren't certain he would survive the night.
Each member of the sad party took time sitting with the hero.
It was near dawn when Bruce took his turn.
The drowning sound of the ventilator and heart monitor echoed
quietly in the tiny room.
Dick had just had three bullets pass through his chest and he was apologizing to Batman.
He apologized for messing up.
The very life was bleeding out of him, and he was still apologizing.
Batman had told him not to talk, to save his strength.
He was proud of him.
Nightwing gave the beginnings of a weak smile.
Then he lost consciousness.
Sitting at his bedside Batman would have sold his soul to the Joker to see Dick open his eyes right then.
But the only movement in the room was the blip on the heart monitor, the pump of the assisting ventilator and the rise and fall of the young man's chest…
…which slowed with every breath…
Clark Kent adjusted his tie nervously.
Full Disclosure day.
A month ago, his long-time 'friend' Bruce Wayne, known by some as Batman, had been unceremoniously booted out of the JLA amongst feelings of betrayal.
Not two weeks later, Batman and his followers had saved not
only the JLA, but the entire world as well.
But there needed to be more.
There needed to be trust.
So Clark, sometimes known as Kal-El or as Superman and the Bat, decided to reveal their identities to the JLA.
Only Wonder Woman was aware of the subject of today's
The meeting was scheduled for 18:30hrs at the Watchtower.
It was 7:30 am and he was already a wreck.
Of course, that could be because he was about to have somewhat of a dry run of the evening's event.
Batman had given him permission to tell his wife, reporter Lois Lane, that he was really Bruce Wayne.
"Marriage is a subject I'm not too familiar with." He'd
He couldn't argue with that.
But how to go about it?
Lois was currently in their kitchen.
He figured he would casually walk in, pour himself a glass of juice and say:
"I'll be heading to Gotham first tonight to pick up
And she'd say:
And he'd say:
And that's where she would cut him off, putting the two together.
He just hoped the kitchen would sustain any possible damage that was inflicted after that.
Clark walked into the kitchen to find his wife in front of the
small counter-top television set holding a cup of coffee.
"What a shame." She said to no one in particular.
"What's wrong?" Clark asked.
"Do you remember Richard Grayson?
Clark began to pour a cup of coffee and smiled to
Lois looked at her startled husband who (obviously) didn't seem to be bothered by the broken coffee pot or the hot liquid, which had splashed all over him when the pot hit the floor.
"Dick Grayson? Are you *sure*?"
"Clark…" Lois picked up the remote and began flipping through
"Police are keeping details of the incident quiet at this time
and Bruce Wayne has yet to be reached for comment.
Lois clicked off the set.
Lois helped him into a chair and knelt down beside him.
"Honey, what is it?"
"…I—I can't believe he's… gone…" he said just above a whisper.
Lois shook her head.
Clark, who had been resting his face in his hands, began to shake his head.
"No… Lois… I *did* know him.
"Lois…" He took his wife's hands and looked her in the
"…Nightwing…?" she whispered in disbelief.
She has always known the young vigilante was important to
Clark and always felt somewhat slighted that she was forced to be excluded from
such an important part of her husband's life.
Dick Grayson was Nightwing?
Dick Grayson was dead…
"Honey, I…" she breathed, trying to find a way to consol her
Dick Grayson was Nightwing…
…Bruce Wayne was…
Her eyes grew wide again.
"Bruce Wayne…" she whispered.
Clark nodded sadly.
"The meeting tonight… we were planning to reveal our
identities to the rest of the JLA.
"Honey, I'm fine."
"The hell you are.
"I can't just sit here all day."
"*Yes*, you can." She said standing.
"Lois, you don't have to…"
She silenced him with a kiss.
"When are you gonna learn to shuddap and just listen to your
"Yes, dear." He replied and quirked a partial smile.
"I'd better call Diana; let her know I won't be there."
Lois had an odd look on her face.
"Do you think… I mean, will HE still be there?
Clark shook his head.
Clark remained where he was for nearly ten minutes.
Returning to the living room, he dialled Diana Prince's number.
A teary voice answered the phone.
"Oh, Clark, did you hear?"
"I can't believe it!
"You don't buy that mugging story do you?"
"I didn't hear all of what happened, but a simple mugging is doubtful."
"Have you contacted Bruce?"
"I'm debating whether or not I should do that.
"You don't give yourself enough credit." Wonder Woman said
"Bruce won't be there, and I… Lois… I won't be there
"I'll tell them.
"Thank you, Diana."
"Take care, Clark."
The long-time friends and teammates disconnected.
Clark leaned back in his sofa and stared silently into dead space for several long minutes.
PAIN IS JUST BEGINNING…