Set in post-Bloodstorm and Blood Mist, both part of the Elseworld trilogy.
With the blood fest, I understand why Dick Grayson wasn't included. I'm still sad at the potential that therefore was not harnessed.

Also based on the idea given to me by Rachel, of a dark Batman who did not have a Robin. I apologize if this was not what you had in mind; the idea is great, but I'm still pretty green. I'll try to do this idea more justice in the future.


Take 4: A Kindred Spirit

He remembered, many years ago, the earliest memory he ever had: A little, helpless, frightened boy in a red and green leotard and a short yellow cape, kneeling by the remains of his young life. Above, hanging by a lone swaying pole was the almost shredded banner of Haley Brother's Circus, all that was left of the tent, the grounds, the cages, the grounds. It was all gone; nothing but dust, debris, and a lone pole with a ruined banner.

Then the kindly figure of an old English butler came up to him, and the memory ended in faded black.

The butler's name was Alfred Pennyworth, claiming to have just been dismissed from the service of the late Bruce Wayne. That name had a familiar ring; Wayne was the billionaire who sponsored the circus several nights in Gotham City. The boy supposed he might have seen the man on special nights, but he could never remember a face, or even if this assumption was true.

Memories seemed so fake, sometimes.

Alfred, despite questions and talk in the streets, had taken the boy into the now empty mansion and raised him there, in place of the home's true master. "Master Bruce would have wished for this," he would often say, and the boy would equally as often wonder what kind of person this specter truly was.

He remembered, when he was a little older, the day he stumbled upon the old grandfather's clock and discovered the secret passageway behind it, and the cave the passageway led to. Alfred had not been angry - he did not look like he was angry, and had instead introduced him to the legendary hero who now was the costumed covered corpse that lay at the cave's center with a stake driven through the heart.

The boy learnt about the Batman, and he took his inspiration from the tales of his heroism, his courage, and his self-sacrifice. If anything, he wanted to become like the Batman.

That was when the boy grew up and started his own anti-vampire squad of fellow brave souls. Leading them to defend the city, he wanted to prove that even humanity could make a difference against the supernatural.

He failed terribly, and Gotham City was nearly lost.

That was, until this night, at exactly half an hour ago when Alfred Pennyworth had gone behind his back and ripped the stake from the Batman's heart.

A mistake to solve all mistakes; a double edged sword to a festering wound. Alfred had begged for forgiveness for his choice, but he could not stop the grown boy from pursuing his heroic figure into the night.

So there they were now, one chasing after the other. One a demonic bat, the other a soaring young robin with a horse-healthy supply of de-cel lines.

Finally, the bat stopped and turned hundred-eighty, the suddenness so great it knocked the wind out of the young man and sent them both hurtling back onto the roof.

"Stay away from me," the creature growled, unearthly eyes glowing red.

The boy figured he was supposed to be afraid, but he wasn't. He was just downright pissed.

After all, he had modeled himself after a great dark knight with the goal of defending the civilians and making a difference. He had modeled himself after the legendary Batman.

Not this...thing.

"Not even if you ate me, rat-face."

A mistake. The youth barely got away before the monster attempted to take a pound of meat from him. Then the bat stopped, growling, trying to regain a hold on sanity, then moved to leave again.

"Wait."

At least the bat was listening, now.

The boy moved carefully now; he'd learnt his lesson from earlier.
"...look, I know we started out on the wrong foot...uh...what I'm trying to say is-"

"You're not helping me."

"But-"

"I don't need help from you, human."

"Damn it, listen to yourself!" the boy snapped at this point; to hell with diplomacy. "You don't even see yourself as human anymore?"

"You ignorant, blind fool, look at me."

"Who cares what you look like, you obnoxious old leather-covered-" the boy stopped himself and took a calming breath. "It's not what's in your blood that I'm talking about; it's your spirit.

"I know you don't look anything like you did in the past, but you're still the Batman. You're still the man who gave up his life for the city he cared about. That's who you really are. That's the man inside you, no matter the blood and-

"Are you listening to me?"

"I am. And I still say you are an ignorant, blind fool."

The younger's face reddened in anger before he let all hell break loose again. "You're a real piece of work, you know that Bruce Wayne!"

The Batman stopped moving at this point. For a second, those red orbs seemed to hold some miniscule degree of surprise to hear his own birth name.

The youth did not care as he started walking away. "I don't need to take this; give me a ring if you finally decide to pull that stick out of your leather butt and join the rest of civilization. I'm outta here."

"... Fine."

The youth stopped. "... Say that again."

"... I said, 'fine'. I'll take your help...but stay out of my way."

The young man turned back and looked the other in the eye. He was still pissed, but he was willing to forgive...maybe just a little...maybe just for tonight.

He stuck out a gauntlet-covered hand. "Richard Grayson; you can call me Dick."

The bat was silent for what seemed like forever before he changed into something more...human-like. His own gloved hand came forward and grasped his in a firm handshake.

"Bruce Wayne; you will call me Batman."

The hand was an icy, inhumanly cold, but deep down, the boy liked to think he could still feel a specter of warmth there.

The warmth that was the legendary hero's reawakening.