A/N: Here is is, the epilogue! And this POV is sort-of a mystery until the very end, but I won't be surprised if some of you guess it before then :) Story now, A/N and sappy thank-yous later.
It was easier than I thought it would be to break into Wayne Manor. All it required was some low-tech acrobatics and a good old-fashioned lock pick. Getting onto the grounds undetected - there was the real challenge challenge. Rumor had it the security system was custom-made by the top scientists in Wayne's company, with personal input from Wayne himself. It didn't help that the security system also included a huge ornate iron fence with spikes tipping every post.
It took some quick talking and even quicker reflexes to get even close enough to the building. Wayne had buffed up security (or at least made it more obvious) after he had revealed himself to be Batman. I had to pull in a lot of favors I had with the New York and Chicago crime rings. Fortunately, all my hard work paid off. I was able to creep past the top-notch security system with only a few close calls, and the rest was just old-fashioned burglary.
The house was dark, but moonlight streamed in through the open windows and allowed just enough light to navigate by. I snuck past yet another door, desperately trying to remember the instructions. A left, past three doorways and up the stairs, down the far right hallway just after a quick left-right turn... Why did rich people's houses always have such confusing floor plans?
I finally ended up in what I thought was the right room, and waited. If my timing was right, he would be coming in right about… I wish I had a watch. Wayne was supposed to arrive soon, but with no way to tell time, I couldn't tell whether I had missed his entrance or if I had just gotten into place earlier than expected.
I move further into the room, and hold back a curse as I bump into something. It falls to the ground with a dull thump, and I quickly pick it up with as little noise as possible. I hold my breath as I gently replace the object (possibly a hand weight of some sort?), which turns out to be a lucky break for me. The door opens with the barest swoosh of noise, and if I had not been paying attention to every noise, I would have missed it. Luckily, burglary tends to attune you to even the smallest noises.
I pause for a minute, and then let out a silent sigh as nobody appears. I step away from the table, clothes rustling slightly. Something flashes in the moonlight, and I grunt as something hits me smack on the chest. I bring a hand up and touch the smooth metallic contours of a bat-shaped throwing star lodged in my body armor. Aw, crap…
I only have room for that small thought before the former Batman launches a bone-crushing punch at my face. It sends me stumbling back, and I manage to kick out one leg out as I fell. It connected with Wayne's leg, but he simply used some sort of hop-step combination to regain his balance.
I rolled onto my back then used my legs to propel myself to my feet (a move I had spent weeks trying to perfect) and steeled myself for a fight that would inevitably end with me losing. His dark looming form comes at me, and I'm really thankful I didn't have to face him in his intimidating Batman gear.
He launches a flurry of punches at me, and it's all I can do to simply try and keep up blocking. He moves fluidly from one attack to the other, always managing to find a flaw in my defense and land a jarring blow. Strangely, after the first few rounds, he seems to pull back. The strength and the speed are still there, but he's pulling back his blows and skipping over obvious gaps.
At first, I think it's because he's tired. After all, he hasn't been on the streets for a while. Then I realize what he's really doing. A man like Batman doesn't get out of practice, he doesn't slow down. He does play with the burglar in his house and test his abilities. I don't know why, but that makes me offended. I should be beating him! I'm better than the man that left Gotham to rot after everything he'd done to get the people's hopes up.
I stop defending and start attacking, dredging up every last bit of martial arts knowledge. I throw caution to the winds and use up every last bit of energy I have. It's still not enough. I manage to land a few blows, but that is because he's purposely only defending himself. I throw punches and kicks and combinations of the two until I'm completely worn out.
It is only then that he moves in a flurry of movement. Before I can understand what's happening, he's pinned me to the wall. One of his forearms in pressed against my throat. I can still breath, but its there as a warning. Don't screw around, it says. I just hang there as try to suck in as much air as I can into my burning lungs.
He gives me a minute or two to catch my breath, and we both look at each other in the meantime. I can just barely make out the glare on his face, deep scowl accented by the hard lines on his face. His eyes bore into mine, and they make me want to sob for my parents or the police or anybody to help me. It's scary, that's what it is. The legends and stories of how much fear Batman put into the hardened criminals seem just a little more realistic.
"Who are you?" He phrases it as a question, but it sounds like a demand. His voice is low and gravelly, and he's practically the personification of intimidation. My mouth dries up and suddenly my oh-so-brilliant plan doesn't seem so sane anymore. I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.
His glare became impossibly darker, and he demanded again, "Who are you?"
Well, here goes nothing. "Teach me," I say. My plan hadn't exactly included him discovering me beforehand and attacking me, but I was determined to go through with it. Why else would I have abandoned Gotham to work as a low-scale criminal? I had learned everything I could from the inside of the beast. Now, I needed someone who could tell me how to slay it. I needed help from someone who had done the same thing before me, who had fought against the mob and the world's worst criminal this century and won
His face his hard and unchanged, and for a second I worry that I hadn't actually said anything. Had I just imagined myself speaking? I open my mouth and try to regain my ebbing courage, when he finally speaks. "What did you say?"
Why oh why oh why did I have to insist on doing this? I could have chickened out any number of times before this, but I had to be stubborn and insist on it. His question was more rhetorical than literal, but I answer it anyways. Maybe if I said it enough times I'd actually regain the illusion that it was a good idea. "I said," I gasp, "Teach me." Maybe I should be more specific… "Teach me how to fight like that." The only way I will get as good as Batman is to learn from him.
"Why?" he barks at me.
Yeah, that might be a good idea to explain. "So I can fight criminals. Like Batman did." Before you abandoned us to the filth still crawling around after the Joker had left. He says nothing, so I take a fortifying breath and continue on with the speech I had worked on since the far-fetched idea had popped into my head. "People are becoming complacent again. Crime is rising. The new DA is doing what he can but it's not enough. They need someone like Batman-" They need Batman, but if he won't do it I'll become the second-best option- "out on the streets again, showing the scum that the streets don't belong to them."
Wayne must have seen the papers, read the headlines. Crime was rising, the mob was crawling back into the slums. The prisons were emptying, cops tentatively accepting bribes again. Gordon couldn't watch everyone in the police department, and some police were better than none. The new DA was tentative, and wouldn't take the bold moves that Dent had been unafraid to pursue. The mold of crime was slowly seeping back into Gotham City.
Batman slowly removed his arm from my neck, and stepped away. For a minute, I was confused, until there was a flick and the room was bathed with artificial light. I squinted in the sudden brightness. He simply stood by the lamp and looked at me, taking in everything from the black domino mask covering part of my face to my scruffy second-hand combat boots. He looked at my clothes – dark wine red pants and shirt with swirling black lines- and at the design I had made for myself displayed proudly on my heavy-duty gloves.
I looked down at my chest, and nearly fainted as I saw where the batarang had lodged itself – right above my heart in the police-issue vest I wore for protection. Despite the battle, it had stayed firmly lodged in the Kevlar.
The former vigilante's face is impassive, and I try not to fidget as he seems to weigh me on some sort of scale. Finally, after what seems like forever, he speaks. It isn't in the low intimidating voice, but something between that and Wayne's normal pitch. "If you choose to do this, you won't be able to turn back. You'll have to do it every day, through illness, injury, and the curses of the public."
I lift my chin up, daring him to think me incompetent. I had taught myself matial arts, I had gotten myself accepted into one of the most notoriously closed mobs in New York, I had stayed dedicated to my goal despite hardship and the lure of limitless money. I had abandoned the city I loved and abandoned my dreams to be a police officer, just to take up the mantle that he had dumped unceremoniously at Gotham's feet. "I want to do this."
He's still weighing me, still trying to find something. He inclines his head in acknowledgement, but he's still looking. I don't know what it is, so I just silently will him to find whatever he's looking for.
"What's your name?"
At this, a grin slowly begins to inch across my face. My name had been one of the most difficult things to choose. The public had given Batman his name, but he had already had a symbol. I needed both, and I spent endless days trying to find just the right one for both. Smirk now firmly on my face, I raise up one hand and clench it into a fist. I turn my palm towards me, and let Wayne see the design embroidered on the back of my glove. "You can call me the Robin."
A/N: Tada! The End! Done! Finite! Seriously, that's all folks. And I'd like to thank a few people right here. First, for Destined Jedi who gave me ideas and was generally friendly and very helpful. Second, to gab4eva24 who gave me a metaphorical kick in the you-know-where when I got sloppy with updates and just kinda posted up whatever I had. And to every other person who has reviewed (or will review) this story, a huge thanks. If it hadn't been for you guys, this story would have probably ended up being a twoshot. I'm sure all you fellow writers out there know how motivating reviews can be. So basically, kudos to everyone and hugs all around. Give yourself a pat on the back for being a positive person and reviewing. And to all you silent readers out there, I hope you enjoyed.