Standard Disclaimers Apply. This is for Brendan who is a pest and a plot bunny pimp. It figures since he's the pimp daddy of all bunnies.

Incase you've not noticed, I stopped numbering temporarily. I'm going to put them in chronological order soon. I swear.

Legends of the Dark Knight

**

Mara Grayson sat at the coffee table, her long, thin eight year old legs tucked under it. She had a bag of gumdrops. Segregating red from the rest of the gum drops, she pushed them off to the side, then started vigorously licking the bottoms of the orange, yellow and green drops and then stuck them together, making a square. That being done, she began building upward. As she worked, she popped the red candies into her mouth.

Across the room, on the love seat, Tim lay sleeping. Mara wondered if he ever got bed sores.

"You're going to make a mess," her grandfather warned. He sat on the sofa behind her, reading the news paper. It was all.. normal and stuff right now.

"Nuh uh," she promised, licking another one. "Homework," she assured him. She sniffed the air. Mom was making something good for dinner. She wished mom'd hurry up. She was way hungry, and the faster they ate, the faster she could go out with Grandpa.

"Homework?" Grandpa Bruce asked skeptically. He wasn't exactly sure what they were teaching them in the public schools these days.

"Totally. Stupid ginger bread house for science. About how tall we can make it before it falls over."

"And where is the gingerbread?" he asked with something resembling patience.

"If ya use gingerbread, you can get two stories with only one layer of gingerbread. And that's all you're allowed to use. No support beams or nothing. But we were allowed to use all the gumdrops we wanted for decoration, so I'm gonna see how much further I get with something that sticks by itself and doesn't rely on icing." She licked two more and stuck them on. It wasn't exactly sticking to the assignment, but the assignment was stupid. It was. childish.

Jimmy came trundling into the living room, his blanket in hand. His bushy redish-brown hair bounced as he moved. Reaching the coffee table, he lifted his blanket part way on to it. "Gimme one," he said, reaching for the red ones.

"NO," Mara snipped. "MINE." She pulled the pile of reds closer to her.

"Mara, share with your brother," Bruce warned.

She hesitated, scowled at her brother, and then handed him exactly two gumdrops.

"MORE," Bruce instructed in his Bat-voice.

With her back to Bruce, Mara made another face, then gave her brother a handful of red gumdrops.

Bruce put down the paper and looked at Jimmy. Perhaps the boy would see it as a gesture of good will that Bruce had been able to effect something nice for him. Bruce held a hand out to the toddler. "Do you want to sit up here? I may have more candy in my pocket."

Jimmy shook his head. His mouth was now oozing red candy. "Mara's stupid," he said, then walked back out of the room, his blue blanket in tow.

Bruce's shoulders sagged unnoticeably. He'd tried.

"Mara, be nice to your brother."

Dick poked his head into the room. "What's she doing now?"

The girl scowled at her father. "Jimmy ate my science project!"

Her dad's head ducked out of the door way. "Jimmy! Don't eat your sister's science project. Mara! Be nice to him."

"Mara be nice to your brother!" Barbara called from the kitchen. Her voice echoed off the walls, and Mara slumped a little further down.

Bruce watched the back of his partner's head as she continued to lick and stick the candy. Perhaps he should ask her if the assignment had had a weight requirement. Probably not in fourth grade, he suspected. "Behave yourself," he warned. If only she didn't have so much energy, or distain for her brother.

He rose and exited the room, looking for the boy. Not finding him in the kitchen with Barbara, he briefly wondered how much effort he would be expected to put into this. thing. This relationship. It was hard enough with people who wanted him around, much less a boy who could care less if he lived or died.

He found Jimmy sitting on his father's lap on the steps. The boy was rubbing his eye, candy slime dribbling out the corner of his mouth. He looked very much like Dick as a child after a bad night.

Stopping in front of the two, he reached into his pocket, producing a sucker. A red one even. "I found this in my pocket," Bruce said nonchalantly, holding it out to the boy.

Jimmy instantly pulled his arms up to his chest, turned around and buried his head into Dick's shoulder. This was not working.

"Come on, buddy. Take the lolly from Grandpa." Bruce hated that Dick had taught the kids to call him that, but it certainly wasn't meriting him any special treatment from this young man.

The boy shook his head and started crying.

He was doing everything those stupid books said to build a relationship with the child-he had been since the boy's birth, and nothing seemed to be working. He sighed, prepared to give up until Dick gave him his own version of 'the look', and followed it up with a glare of disappointment. Dick had been pushing him on this front for years.

Bruce shook his head and handed the lolly pop to Dick. The boy saw it in his father's hand and reached out, grabbing it quickly and holding it to his chest.

"Say thank you to Grandpa."

Jimmy shook his head 'no' again.

Dick rubbed the boy's head and looked up at his father. It wasn't going to work this time either. "You're too intimidating," he said.

"Too intimidating?" Bruce asked, obviously put out. "I gave him CANDY! I made Mara give him CANDY. What do I have to do?"

"Bruce! Are you giving him candy?" an angry voice asked from the kitchen.

"Didn't I just say that?" You'd think he hadn't trained her or something.

"Before dinner!"

"Before dinner, after lunch and twice before he went to bed last night!" he answered angrily. Or at least he'd tried to. The boy was a fish who wasn't biting. They expected him to do this impossible task, and they gave him NO help or support.

Barbara wheeled herself into the hall. "You WANT him to be up all night, don't you?" she scowled up at him. "Never mind. What do you care? You're not going to be trying to put him to bed. And let's just forget that he won't eat dinner." Her eyes narrowed as she moved her gaze to her husband. "Richard, take that off of him. I can't believe you let him have it. You're another one who isn't going to be here tonight."

"Daddy gived me the lolly," Jimmy said pitifully. "I not keep it?"

"You already had gumdrops. Save it for tomorrow," Barbara said gently to him. "Give to daddy."

Reluctantly, the boy sacrificed the still-wrapped candy. "I have tomorrow. After breakfast."

"After breakfast," Dick promised. "Sorry, Bruce. You can see who runs the joint." He gestured over his shoulder to his wife.

Barbara started back for the kitchen. "I have a pot boiling. Behave yourselves. And Bruce, if you want to make friends, why don't you spend some time with him."

Which would be all well and good, Bruce thought, but the boy keeps running away. Maybe he needed to spend time with him on his own territory. "Dick, do you think he'd like to. spend the weekend at my house?" Was he asking this?

Dick looked down at the boy. "What about it, Sport? Want to spend the weekend with Grandpa? It'll be like sleeping over Grampy Jim's." Only in a mausoleum, Dick added silently.

The boy looked up at his father with wide, horrified eyes and began screaming. It was a loud, high-pitched scream that rang in Bruce's ears like an explosion or gun shot. What the hell had he done? Mara didn't have any problem spending the night. In fact, she never wanted to go home. He couldn't get one to even visit, and he couldn't get the other to leave. WHY?

"Jimmy! Jimmy calm down," Dick urged. "JIMMY!"

The boy closed his mouth, then started sobbing immediately. "Don't make me, Daddy!"

Bruce looked away. Was he really that frightening to children?

"He'll make me eat bugs!"

There were times when Bruce wondered if he took the Bat reputation too far. This was one of those times. The next thing he knew, Barbara was in the door way to the kitchen, reaching her arms out to comfort her son, and Tim was standing in the doorway to the living room, rubbing his eyes. Was it possible for a human being to sleep TOO MUCH?

"WOH, SPORT! Grandpa's not going to make you eat bugs! You're gonna go over his house and eat cookies and stuff!"

"COOKIES MADE WITH BUGS!" the boy howled. "AND WORMS! IN HIS CAVE WHERE HE PADDLES BAD KIDS!"

Barbara wheeled herself past Bruce, forcing him back towards the door. He could open it and leave, right now, and no one'd notice.

"Oh baby. Grandpa doesn't paddle! And you won't have to eat bugs," Barbara told her son sympathetically. "Even if Grandpa did eat bugs, and he doesn't, Alfred would protect you. How did you get THAT idea?"

Bruce and Dick both looked at everyone in the hall. There was one person missing.

"MARA!" they both hollered in unison.

"GET IN HERE!" Dick finished. "Did your sister tell you Grandpa would make you eat bugs?"

The boy nodded vigorously, sniffing as he did so. "She say Bruce hang you upside down in the cave like a bat and make you eat bugs and worms."

Mara was standing beside Tim, looking rather innocent. "I didn't say that! I said bats eat bugs and robins eat worms! He's all confolooting it!"

Jimmy scowled at his sister. "She say Bruce paddle bad kids and make 'em eat worms and bugs in the dark cave and like it! And she eated a worm and everyfing." Tears started flowing freely from the boy's eyes again.

Mara looked both ways, then took off running. Tim just shrugged his shoulders, not even attempting to go after her. "You're useless," Dick told his brother. Dick gave a sigh of disgust, dumped Jimmy into his mother's waiting arms, then chased after his daughter. The girl had gone out onto the second floor patio, flown off the railing, down to the lawn. He followed.

Fortunately, he was bigger, he was stronger, and she'd lost a lot of her wiggliness in the last few years. He snatched her as she tried to grab hold of the wooden fence that quartered off their small yard. Plucking her around the waist, he swung her around.

"Maybe you thought we'd just never NOTICE you're filling his head with crap?" Turning her around, he gave her behind one swift, firm smack. Usually Barbara was the spanking parent, but just this once, he'd make an exception. He was ready to get out the wooden spoon on this one.

"You're going to go in there, and you're going to take it back, do you hear me? Or you will be flying with me, over Bludhaven, until you're an old, decrepit woman without a driver's license."

"He's making it up!" Mara pleaded. "Dad! I wouldn't say anything like that! He's just dumb, and he doesn't--"

She was silenced by another smack on the backside.

"All right! FINE! But not 'cause I'm sorry! It's cause you're EVIL!" Dick's hand connected with her fleshy behind one more time. He needed a wooden spoon badly. His hand was getting tired. "FINE! I'm SORRY!" Dick wasn't sure that she was, but a lack of back-talking was a good place for her to start. What the hell was his child's problem?

After having Mara, having Jimmy was like having a kid who raised himself. The boy listened, he behaved, and most of his childhood traumas came from Mara, as opposed to any outside source.

There'd been no death-defying stunts, no missing screws, demolished credit cards, mixed household chemicals, and his eight-year old was determined to make sure her brother grew up a stuttering wreck who believed his grandfather ate bugs and forced bad little children to do the same.

He carried her back into the house and put her down in the hall, in front of her mother and Jimmy. Bruce stood behind them. Tim had already returned to the couch. "You have something to say, don't you?" he prompted.

She folded her arms over her chest. "Sorry I told Jimmy grandpa eats bugs and worms."

"AND?" Dick urged.

"And Grandpa doesn't eat bugs and worms and he doesn't hang kids upside down in the cave and paddle them for being bad, and he doesn't make kids eat bugs and worms and like it, but that was a real worm I ate, so I should get sumpthing for it." It had been a great trick, she decided. He'd been so scared he left her alone for a week. Maybe if she ate something even grosser, he'd leave her alone ALL the time.

"THANK YOU," her mother said firmly. "BRUCE?" she asked.

Bruce scowled down at her. "I think you need to spend some time with your father in Bludhaven."

She stomped her foot. "NO!"

"If you can't be trusted to tell the truth--"

She started crying, and Jimmy had a big grin on his face. Sometimes, Barbara wanted to kill both of her children, she realized. Now was one of those times. "Mara. You buttered your bread. You did something really mean to your brother AND your Grandfather, and if he doesn't want you around, then you're just going to have to live with that."

Mara stopped crying and stared at her mother wide-eyed and hurt. "I-I'll be good. I'll be good forever."

"There are consequences for all of our actions," her Grandfather told her sternly.

Her lip trembled, and she went running up the steps. They could hear her feet padding against the floor as she hurried to her room. The door opened and closed with a rush of air and a hefty slam.

Bruce continued to scowl darkly. "See? I am NOT a bad guy," he told Jimmy, who was still grinning like he'd just gotten a new toy.

"Not ALL bad," Jimmy replied, still hugging onto his mother's neck. He liked it very much when Mara got yelled at. She was mean, and she was awful, and she was mean.

"And I seem to have a vacancy in my house at night," Bruce added. "Would you like to come over?"

Jimmy shook his head 'no' and buried it against his mother's chest.

"Why now?" Barbara asked gently.

There came a muffled reply. "I don't want him to suck my blood!"

THE END.

Shameless self promotion:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/battybeyond

after the 1st of the year, Mara, Jimmy, Jordy and the gang'll be over there.