Barbara listened, distractedly, as the Internal Affairs officer finished his report and laid the problem out before her. She gazed with unseeing eyes at the files spread before her and tried to focus on the meeting. But it was impossible.
Barbara snapped her head up, "What? Oh. Yes. Full co-operation. Definitely."
The officer nodded, unconvinced, but packed up his evidence and wandered out of the office. Barbara watched him leave and tried to think back over what he had been telling her, praying that she had caught all the important parts.
With a sigh, Barbara opened the files he had left with her and scanned through the witness statements. She groaned and closed her eyes, feeling the mother of a headache lurking behind her eyes. This would have to happen now.
The young doctor smiled thinly as she wandered into the hall outside the intensive care unit and saw the man that was waiting for her. She quickened her stride and held out her hand in greeting. "Mr Grayson?"
Dick stood and shook the doctor's hand, sure that she could feel his body trembling.
"Please. Come this way."
Dick followed her into a small, cosy room inside the ward and sat down with her. His heart was pounding in his ears and he was sure he was going to throw up as she moved straight into telling him the bare facts.
The doctor had paused to allow her words time to sink in. She watched Dick in concern and placed a gentle hand on his arm. "I'm very sorry."
Dick nodded slowly.
"Your father hadn't written any advanced directives regarding his care in the event of a condition such as this but … I would urge you to seriously consider withdrawing treatment. For your benefit as much as his."
Her words washed over Dick and he felt as if theroom was spinning around him. She was already referring to Bruce in the past tense and it just didn't sound right.
"Would you like to see your father now?"
Dick felt his heart sink. There was that word again. So rarely used before.
Dick nodded and stood slowly. He followed her from the room and out into the main ward. But he reached the private room where Bruce was waiting and he couldn't move.
"Dick." Terry was suddenly at his side and reaching up to lay an arm around the older man's shoulders. "Don't let this become another regret."
Dick looked down at Terry and saw in the boy's eyes a reflection of someone he once was. He gave him a brief smile and headed for the door.
It wasn't Bruce. It couldn't be. Dick felt his legs buckling as he looked down at the sleeping figure in the bed. The man was pale and old, so very old, and seemed so fragile despite his large frame.
Dick sat down in the chair Terry had quietly slid behind him and stared at the unconscious form. Suddenly he wanted to shout, scream, and yell at Bruce. Why didn't you call? Why didn't you come after me? Why didn't you make me stay?
And suddenly Dick was crying, sobbing. Unaware of Terry's arm around his shaking shoulders and the doctor quietly closing the door.
It was a while before he calmed. And he was grateful for the presence of someone who understood that this was not the time to be alone. He leaned back into Terry's embrace and took a deep breath. And with the same quiet understanding, Terry slipped from the room.
With trembling fingers, Dick reached out and took hold of Bruce's hand. The huge, arthritic fingers were warm and he gently stroked the rough skin.
"Thank you." Dick husked quietly. He reached up and stroked the white-grey hair back from Bruce's forehead, a smile finding it's way through Dick's tears. "Thank you for all that you taught me, all that you gave me."
Dick squeezed Bruce's fingers gently, still hoping the lined face would show some kind of response. That Bruce would sit up and tell him he was dreaming.
Dick let out a heavy sigh and stood slowly. With a sob catching in his throat, he leaned down and pressed his lips into Bruce's forehead. He stayed there for a moment, resting his head against Bruce's, taking the chance to share a closeness that they had rarely had.
And then he stood back up and could see through the partially closed blinds that the doctor was waiting patiently outside. He nodded and she stepped in through the door.
His chest heavy and his voice tight, Dick turned back to look at Bruce and let out a heavy sigh. "Okay, doc … turn it off."
The thrill of gliding down through the buildings was like nothing else on earth. He could feel the wind roaring against the streamlined suit, the warm updraft from the city streets tugging at the narrow wings. He no longer felt the need to howl in excitement as he soared through the air, he just glided and let the adrenaline rush through him.
It was awesome. He felt invincible. Untouchable. He felt like Batman.
"Don't get carried away – we've got work to do."
The voice in the small transmitter beside his ear pulled Terry from his thoughts and he smiled to himself. "D'you think Superman gets this rush?"
"I've never asked him." Dick chuckled, "Now flap on over to the rendezvous."
Terry sighed, "Yes, sir!" The rockets at his heels gave a short burst of power and he turned sharply, gliding easily between the tall skyscrapers.
Terry made a perfect landing on a ledge at the roof of the department store and surveyed the scene. Revellers were convening around the various clubs and the nightlife beginning to get going.
"They've got some nerve to be doing this so openly." Dick sighed.
Terry watched the patrol car idle into view, aware that his colleague back in the cave could see the same image being fed back to the monitors. "Well …" Terry mused, "Who's gonna arrest 'em? And I guess they have a point."
"There'll always be drugs out here as long as people want them." Terry jumped off of the building and soared down towards the car. "But then they haven't tried this! Woo-hoo!"
Dick watched the scene through Terry's eyes as the bust was completed. The anonymous tip they had intercepted through the small recording device in the commissioner's office had paid off.
Barbara would be mad if she knew it was there. And it was something that Dick would not usually have condoned but then – as Terry had pointed out – this was a different time. Besides, if he knew Barbara then she probably did know that it was there. She knew what she was up against in this city and – protest as she might – he had a feeling she was grateful to have Batman on her side.
Dick looked around the cave and smiled. This wasn't his place any longer. He knew that now. It belonged to Terry. Dick had not thought it possible when he had first met the boy but he had worked with him for a few nights now and saw the potential. And besides, who was he to argue with Bruce?
Dick's eyes then rested on the line of cabinets on the other side of the cave. The familiar blue and black uniform was hanging there almost expectantly behind the glass. For a moment he wondered if maybe –
"It's the same batch!" Terry announced in a whisper.
Dick spun back to the screen and watched Terry's gloved hands tearing open the package. He glanced over at the small pile of identical white tablets on the desk beside him that Terry had purchased the night before. Disguised as 'himself' he had managed to score a pack from one of the vendors and together they had analysed the drugs, only to discover that they were not the harmless tabs the police thought they were.
"Have you any idea what you've done?" Terry's voice had lowered an octave or two as he confronted the two police officers he had captured.
Dick smiled. Was it Bruce or simply the black suit that made him do that?
On the screen, Ralph Akers shook his head sadly. "Desperate times." He offered.
"That's a poor excuse in your line of work." Terry snarled. He used the patrol car's radio to call in his find and, as the sirens fired up from somewhere in the city, he began to walk away.
Suddenly Terry turned back and addressed the forlorn officers once more. "When you put on that uniform, you are making a promise to the people of this city." He grated, "And to me."
Dick listened with pride and nodded slowly. Terry really was Batman.
"Sh'way!" Terry hissed under his breath and rocketed back up into the night sky.
Paul could not believe his misfortune. After such a prosperous few weeks, an angry Batman had now swooped onto his car from nowhere and was glaring at him menacingly.
His plan had been faultless. The overworked, underpaid GCPD had believed his story about some crazed mob boss and had been shipping out Paul's supplies effortlessly. It was so much easier than selling the stuff himself and he had been raking in the profits. Of course, he had not counted on the fighting within the police ranks and that desperate colleagues would shoot the more moral of the force. But that was down to a problem that already existed; his little scheme was a catalyst, not a cause.
Somehow, as Paul stared up at the ominous black figure above him, he was sure that he was the only person who would see things his way.
"Please! Don't hurt me!" Paul was suddenly shaking, "I heard about what you do! Please! No!"
Terry paused for a moment, bile gathering in his throat as he recalled his outburst the previous week. Something he was keen to forget. But Dick had been kind when he had told him what had happened and suggested that his guilt was a good sign but he needed to move past it now. He had then grinned and added that, in this game, to be feared was always an advantage.
With a sigh, Terry secured the bonds that trapped Paul within the car and called in the cavalry. He then arched his back, spread his arms and shot into the air.
"You know, you could always have taken the plane." Dick suggested lightly.
"Nah." Terry smiled, "I felt the need for this tonight." He replied, his upper arms just beginning to ache now. He looked down at the streets that passed below him and listened to the sounds from the city. His city.
"Isn't she beautiful …" Terry muttered.
"I don't think you need me." Dick said softly and switched off the link.
It was cold and grey but the winter rain had ceased just long enough to spare the small crowd who had gathered. Even the wind had died down sufficiently to allow the old priest to read aloud the soothing words from his open book. Only the odd sniff and tight cough disturbed the peaceful scene as the coffin was gently lowered into the ground.
Dick looked around at the many tear-stained faces. Some he didn't recognise and some he had longed to see again. He could not help but think of the many friends who had long since passed away that should be here now. He squeezed Amanda's hand and felt her reassuring response as tears filled his eyes.
Terry matched Dick's long stride and they headed back across the graveyard together in silence. They nodded their thanks to the many who joined them briefly to offer their condolences and then branched off again to find their ride among the fleet of waiting limousines.
Dick stopped suddenly as a tall man then stepped into his path. They held each other's gaze for a moment and then moved into a quick embrace.
"If there's anything I can do …"
Dick nodded, "Thanks, Clark."
Clark turned to Terry. "That goes for you, too."
Terry managed a thin smile back at the kind man. His face was familiar and Terry was sure he was an old business partner of Bruce's from way back when. He watched the man make his farewell and then Terry slipped an arm around Dana's waist and continued on towards the car.
Terry's mother was stunned. She spun round to take in the immense hall of the old house and then turned back to her son. "He left all this to you?"
"And a 'trust fund' …?" His mother felt dizzy as she again scanned through the copy of the will she clutched in her trembling hands.
"This is so sh'way!" Matt came tearing down the vast staircase and skidded across the smooth timbered floor. "When can we move in?" He urged, breathless.
Terry smiled as his little brother's enthusiasm and then turned back to his mother, who was still stunned. "Mom …" He began carefully, deciding that there was no time like the present and shrugging something of an apology, "There's something I need to tell you."
Dick stood at the window of the huge office and looked out at the view. He was barely listening as the lawyer rambled on about investments and shares and all manner of business jargon.
A quiet then fell over the boardroom and Dick turned to see the small group watching him in interest.
"Mr Wayne was going to sell his remaining share of WayneCorp." The greying lawyer held up a thick document, "But he never signed."
Dick shrugged slightly, his eyes then resting on the man who sat opposite the lawyer at the immense table. "What do you think, Tim?"
"Then we don't sell." Tim answered firmly.
Dick met Amanda's inquisitive gaze. "He must have changed his mind for a reason." He offered quietly.
"Well," The lawyer stood slowly, "Then, according to the will, you two are now the major shareholders. Congratulations."
Tim smiled thinly and got to his feet, his tired, red eyes meeting Dick's. "I'll meet you back at the house."
Dick nodded and turned to look back out at the city.
"All that is left," The lawyer concluded, "Is this parcel that I was asked to pass on." He placed the package on the desk and followed Tim from the room.
Amanda rose and strode across to her husband. She slipped her arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. "Does all this mean that you want to stay …?"
Dick looked down at her and shook his head slowly. "I really don't know what I'm thinking right now."
Amanda gave him a brief squeeze and nodded in understanding.
Dick then caught sight of the parcel and he frowned in intrigue. He stepped over to the table and looked down at the packing envelope. Picking up the package, he reached inside and pulled out a large, worn leather bound book. A note slipped from the envelope and Dick retrieved it from the table.
I think this belongs to you. Come visit often. Terry.
Dick's frown grew and he opened the cover of the book, his heart racing as he saw the dark ink and familiar script.
"What is it, darling?" Amanda queried, leaning over his shoulder. "Oh. He kept a diary."
Dick read the first few lines of the rough handwriting. The entry was decades old. Bruce was writing about his parents and how much he missed them. But now he had something to fill the void. And was immensely proud of his son.
Dick closed the book, blinking away tears as he glanced out at the city.
"Regrets?" Amanda asked softly.
Dick closed his eyes and clutched the diary to his chest. "None."