Chapter 1: The Boy at the Window
The controversial ward of Bruce Wayne sat on a windowsill in a darkened room, looking out. He didn't know what time it was, but it was well into the middle of the night. He didn't know how long he had been sitting there, but he knew no one would come looking for him again that night. He was free to relax, at least for a few hours. Nothing further would be expected of him until morning.
The expansive grounds isolated the Manor from the rest of Gotham city. The lawns and gardens were a rolling black sea tossing trees like driftwood, crashing against the house where the ivy climbed like foam up a cliff as the waves broke. The city was distant, sparkling, casting a glow even on the sky above it. Dick might as well have been on a desert island, and he knew it.
The wind pulled at the dark shapes of the trees, bending their tips and hauling on their branches, but Dick couldn't feel a thing from inside. The glass of the window wasn't even cold, protected by the vacuum layer of double glazing between the two panes. The inside kept separate from the outside.
Dick was tense with an anger he'd had for so long he barely even realised it was there anymore. He didn't pay as much attention to it as it warranted because he knew from experience that if he did, he wouldn't be able to function. He'd break down. He'd scream and cry. He'd probably end up hurting himself, and he'd be kept home as a result. But right now it was making his upper body turn to stone, and his face contort into a grimace that should, by all rights, be too old to find a place on someone his age. He was just another gargoyle decorating the building.
He had the urge to put his fist through the glass, to make some kind of mark on the place, some outward evidence of the damage he felt. It would be pointless, he could see the city, but he knew the city couldn't see him. He was too small. No one would notice one broken window. That's what his mind told him, but what was left of his hope insisted that maybe someone, some kind someone, would notice that one broken pane and think for a moment about Wayne Manor and the people that lived there.
But that was ridiculous. He knew what would happen. He'd hurt his hand, gets some cuts, maybe even break a few of the finer bones… and Alfred would have it all cleaned up by morning, with a new sheet of glass so nobody would be able to tell the difference. Bruce would tell him not to do it again, maybe bring in his "feelings," and end it, as always, with a concern for his safety. Above all, Bruce didn't want him to hurt himself. But Dick still felt like doing it. The blood would add some much needed colour to the night, and the pain in his hand would distract him for a while. And there was always the slight possibility that he'd tell the kids at school the truth.
He wondered if Bruce was asleep, upstairs, in his big bed. He wanted to know if he could sleep. He wondered if Alfred was asleep. The capable butler seemed to be always available, ready to clean up, erase every trace, always so professional. Alfred, at least, would know that Dick was awake. He seemed to have a sixth sense for everything that went on in the mansion, as if he was more of an extension of it than a person.
It was times like these that Dick felt like he was still somehow a part of the human race, when he sat alone staring out into the night in the silence of the vast Manor. He could feel that their rules and conventions still applied to him. They told him that this was wrong, that it couldn't be allowed to continue. He felt supported, justified, in his solution. Nobody could blame him for what he was going to do, and just imagine the looks on their faces. Imagine the headlines. He would be famous, some kind of hero.
He could see it now. There would be a media frenzy, a legal battle, for a few months, but he could endure it in order to be free from Wayne Manor and leave it to rot without a master. The house was intimidating enough now, but by the time he was done, children would walk past its gates with a shudder and say "That's where Bruce Wayne lived."
But even if he didn't have their support, he would do it anyway. In so many ways, it was the only thing to do. He had it coming to him. Every time Alfred had carried him to bed, Dick had been paying deposits on his revenge and it would soon be his to own. He had no plan, no realistic idea of how he would commit the act, all he had was conviction. He knew, the same way he knew the exact second to jump if he was going to be caught flawlessly on the trapeze, he knew it the same way he knew he was a Grayson. It was instinctive, unquestionable. He knew it was coming. He would be a hero.
The boy who killed Bruce Wayne.