Batman slipped silently through the heavy oak doors of the church

Best read accompanied by Mediaeval Baebes music

References to Alfred (*cheers*) but no actual appearances (*sigh*)

Note: I don't think the abused little bat ever actually happened, but it's got potential…

For The Sake of the

Children

by Threnody

Batman slipped silently through the heavy oak doors of the church.

They immediately clacked shut behind him, and he hit the floor, afraid that the gangsters had been alerted to his presence.

After several minutes, he decided that perhaps they had not noticed. It was silent still, eerily so. The only sound Batman could hear was the beating of his own heart (he had long since learned to control his breathing), and it seemed to echo around the ancient stone walls.

Batman stood unmoving, taking in the scene around him. The hall was how many hundreds of years old? It was Catholic, so could not have dated back to the time of the pilgrims…

Above the door there was a beautiful, ornate rose window. The light from the full moon outside streamed through onto him, bathing him in the ghost of the vibrant colours.

He stood, almost paralysed to the spot by the scene straight out of a Buffy episode, but so much more real…

He had to actually shake his head to remind himself why he was there. He had handed to the police all the gang involved in the heroin deal but two, who he followed in their frantic moonlit flight from the scene. He was unsure of how they managed to escape and they had got a good head start, making him unable to see them properly. He was also unsure of why they came to the church, before he realised that several other members of the gang had been deeply Catholic Italians. He had never liked the Godfather films- they gave him an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu.

He walked slowly along the aisle. How long had he been here? Surely long enough for them to escape out a back way. His soft footsteps were like thunder; he felt there was no way he would still be unnoticed.

Stopping at the altar, Batman took time to appreciate the ornate candlesticks made of silver and gold, the soft red cloth over the mahogany, and the cross, covered in amazing patterns that seemed to move as you looked; mirrored, expanded and looked over by the massive crucifix hanging on the wall behind it.

Suddenly, he noticed a sound that he had not noticed before; it had been there since he had arrived and it was so soft and steady that it could easily be mistaken for the silence.

Accompanied by the gentle hiss of a candle, there was somebody mumbling rapidly, quietly, fervently, behind the curtain to the side of the hall. The doorway was so small in comparison to the high, sweeping, gothic walls and ceiling of the building, he was suddenly taken back to his childhood evenings when Alfred had read him the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and she had found the tiny door leading to the beautiful garden…

He looked through the slight gap between the scarlet velvet and the cold stone and saw, knelt on the floor, praying for all they were worth, the fierce members of the dreaded Bluejay mob. The ones that had escaped even Batman's grasp, the ones that had grabbed half of the valuable heroin stash. One clutching a rosary so hard her fingers had turned white, the other with his head almost touching his knees it was so low, neither of them could have been over twelve years old.

The children were turned over to the authorities, along with the heroin. The girl refused to let go of the rosary. On them was found a kitchen knife, three mint imperials, a rizla packet, a stiletto, six ecstasy tablets, one half-empty packet of cigarettes, one small packet of soap powder, and four 6-mm bullets.

It seemed that as soon as the police arrived, the children were instructed to grab everything they could and run. They refused to give their names, and no files or information could be got from previous experiences or the gangsters in custody.

Batman watched the children being wrapped in blankets and bundled into police vans. They would be taken to a foster home as soon as a psychological evaluation was completed, he suspected. He would check on their progress personally; he knew that this was the best that could be done for them.

Probably. He remembered how Richard had described his brief time in a children's home and shuddered. But that was over a decade ago, things had improved now. Probably.

He thought back to his own time in "care" as it had inaccurately been described, just after his parents had been murdered and a background check was being done on Alfred to make sure he could safely look after the small, frightened child that was being "comforted" by clueless social workers around the clock…

They had had some… novel ideas about discipline. Novel for the twentieth century, anyway. He had never talked about what happened to him there, a lot of it he had not understood at the time, but he knew it hurt. He had never told Alfred about some of it; the poor man was so worried about him anyway. It would only upset him further.

Batman sat in his classic brooding pose atop his classic brooding gargoyle and hoped against hope that these children would become more than just a silent statistic.

Note: Whoever sent me the bad review- that's OK, it was a good argument & you're allowed to sign it (unfortunately, most of my stuff ends up like that…) 8^) psychobabble all round, people!