THE MANTLE OF THE BAT
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Chapter 1 Death of a Father
None of them had expected to be summoned to Wayne Manor. They had never expected to be there all at once. Bruce wasn't big on family meetings. He didn't do things like that and who knows what he felt about the three of them at the current moment.
Dick Grayson drove up the manor his stomach slightly queasy. He had not spoken to his former mentor in two months. It had started out as a simple disagreement that had escalated. Bruce had offered some criticism on Dick's decisions.
"You need to keep a closer eye on your friends."
"What do you mean by that?"
"You never know who you can trust. You trusted Indigo and she could've killed you all."
"You think that's my fault?"
"Trust no one but yourself. You have to abide by that rule or—"
"You'll be backstabbed."
Jason Todd lit his cigarette as he approached the manor. He didn't care if Bruce told him to put the damn thing out. He didn't care what Bruce thought anymore. Their last conversation had ended in a fight. He wasn't some punk sixteen year old kid anymore.
"Jason, I'll never understand you."
"You think I should be so forgiving when you let my killer roam free? Spare me the bullshit Bruce."
Bruce frowned slightly. "Jason—"
"I'm not Robin anymore. I don't have to listen to you."
Tim Drake had been sent away from the manor two weeks ago. Bruce had let him go visit the newly resurrected Superboy and Kid Flash. Kon was happy to be alive and Bart hadn't shut up since he had come back. Neither one could remember what had happened in the afterlife. But Tim didn't care. It was just good to be one of the guys again. Now if only he could mend bridges with Cass then life would be perfect.
He moved slowly towards the doorstep where a worried Alfred stood waiting. Tim had missed home. He had missed Bruce who he was beginning to consider as his father.
Three pairs of blue eyes openly avoided gazing at each other. It wasn't that big of a surprise. Brothers—that's what the adoptions made them. But they weren't really brothers.
There was no blood ties.
That was obvious when you looked at the subtle differences in the faces. Dick's face was more round. Jason's face looked older than it should cut up with angles. Tim had a open face.
No family ties.
Bruce had never raised them all at once. Dick had grown up with Bruce. Jason had come after Dick had left. Tim was just starting to live with Bruce.
They had all turned their backs on each other. Brothers were supposed to stand together but instead they had turned away.
Dick trusted Tim but Tim found being in Dick's shadow difficult. The two were close with Tim leaning on Dick and having him to turn to. But Dick didn't trust Jason. Jason had pulled through for him a few times but Jason had crossed the line. He had killed and Dick couldn't support that. Murder was unforgivable and Dick who had killed knew that.
Jason despised his two "brothers." He was the fuck-up, the mistake, the Robin who never should have existed and they were the golden boys. There was Dick whose shadow he could never step out of. Dick, the perfect Robin and the perfect son, how could someone like Jason compete with him? And then there was little Timmy. Little Timmy who was a nothing, an obedient little birdie. Sure Timmy argued with Bruce and he had lost people but he was the good Robin.
Dick hadn't been a brother to Tim in months. Dick was focused on Dick. He didn'thave time for Tim. Tim who had needed his brother had been left out to dry. He had been abandoned. And Jason…Jason had been the reason he became Robin. Jason who Tim had always wanted to know. Jason who had laid into him leaving him a bloody mess but not killing him. He trusted Jason like he trusted Deathstroke.
They glared at each other on the stairs of the manor. Alfred just stood silent watching the dark looks shared between the brothers.
"Why the fuck are we here?" Jason demanded.
"Just calm down Jason," Dick said.
"Don't tell me to calm down Dickie. Why the hell am I here with you and the kid?"
"I'm not a kid!" Tim shouted.
They were acting like he wasn't even there.
"Excuse me the imposter."
"Jason, Tim, I'm sure Bruce didn't summon us here for no reason."
"No, we just needed to have a fucking family reunion on the old man's bloody doorstep," Jason yelled.
"Why would anyone want to have a family reunion with you?" Tim demanded.
"I don't remember inviting you into this family. But then again Bruce was always a softie."
"At least I earned my way here. How stupid does someone have to be to steal the batmobile's tires?"
"You think you're some master detective."
"Would you two knock it off?" Dick shouted.
"Oh now you can play big brother," Tim muttered.
"Stay out of this Dickie," Jason sneered.
"What's that supposed to mean, Tim?"
"You've been around so much," Tim replied.
"Get used to it kid in this family no on ever sticks around."
"Bruce doesn't kill Jason. You know that."
"Yeah, but when he thought you were dead he was going to avenge you. I guess we know who the favorite is."
It didn't stop when their fists began to fly. The shouts and the fists blended into a pattern. There was no distinction between actions and words. Raw emotions lay bare on the ground. Anger from the past came out.
"Master Jason, Master Dick, Master Tim, would you please stop this ceaseless arguing. I would like you to follow me."
Alfred's voice dragged them from the fight, effectively bringing them out of their haze of anger. Alfred had been a grandfather to all of them and only he had the power to stop their fights. Not Bruce but Alfred.
They were too absorbed in their own past angers to notice that Alfred was shaking slightly. His eyes were dazed and he was an autopilot. What would become of these boys? What would become of them now?
Silence prevailed as Alfred led them down to the depths of the cave. Bruce would be at the computer searching through the files. It was probably a case that he had called him for there.
No one expected Superman and Wonder Woman to be in the cave.
"Clark, Diana, what—"
"Dick, Jason, Tim, would you please sit down," Superman said his voice shaking slightly.
Wonder Woman's eyes were red-rimmed and her hands shook. She leaned closer to Superman using him as a pillar.
"The League was on a mission. We were unprepared for the onslaught that we encountered. Bruce—" the words choked in Superman's throat.
Wonder Woman sobbed and instinctively the man of steel wrapped his arms around her allowing her to burry her face in his neck.
"Where is he?"
Jason's voice echoed throughout the cave.
"Where is he damn it?"
"Bruce, he wanted us to give you all—" Wonder Woman's voice shook as she handed Dick a disc.
Dick turned it over. Nothing was written on the disc. They wouldn't know what was on it until they watched it. But Dick knew. The sinking feeling in his stomach wouldn't go away. He glanced at his little brothers.
The truth was written in Jason's eyes. Jason knew but he wouldn't believe it until the proof was in front of him. Tim didn't know. He was confused his analytical mind not fitting the pieces together.
He didn't want to do this. Because then it would be true. Then he would have to face it. Dick moved slowly. He didn't want to. But he had to. He forced the disc into the computer.
Bruce's face popped up on the monitor and his voice rang through the cave.
"I didn't want to make this tape but Clark and Diana persuaded me. They said I should make it just in case. Of course, I wanted to deny it but there has always been a possibility that this day would come. In fact I've always expected it. I know I wasn't the perfect father or mentor. I tried my best with each of you. I'm proud of all of you and I'm sorry. I didn't intend for this to happen. I love you three and you are my sons. Remember that."
"What happened?" Tim asked.
"We're not exactly sure. Bruce went off on his own and when we found him he was already dead," Superman said.
"He didn't say what he wanted us to do," Dick said.
"What the hell does that matter? We already know that we can't let this go. We should find whoever did this and—"
"Bruce wouldn't want you to do that Jason," Superman said.
"Like I give a damn!"
"Jason, Dick, Tim, I know this hard but—"
"Clark, I would like you and Diana to leave," Dick barely spoke but his intention was evident.
"Dick, I know this is hard and Diana and I can help."
"Clark, I need to talk to my brothers alone."
There was no room for argument.
Superman wanted to say something but Wonder Woman grabbed his arm softly pulling him away.
"There are things we need to take care of," Dick said.
"I'm sure Alfred has arranged the funeral," Tim said. He was shaking. Why did he keep loosing people?
Jason was beating at the wall.
"Fucking old man, you had to go and get yourself killed. You couldn't just hang on. What the hell do you want us to take care of Dick?"
"I think we've forgotten the important thing."
"The funeral is taken care of. Bruce made a will. What could we be forgetting?" Tim said barely looking up.
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Just spell it out for us Dick," Jason said. He didn't have time for this. The wall needed him to beat it into shape.
"Who's going to be the next Batman?"
To be continued….
A/N: From here the story branches out into three different one-shots. Each one-shot will focus on each one of the boys inheriting the mantle.