A/N This deleted scene from chapter 22 of Night Falling picks up during Alex and Rick's drive to Dr. Marquez's compound from the airport. I hope you enjoy it!
It was a three hour drive, but they were nearly there before Alex spoke again. "I think you'll like Dr. Marquez. He's an eccentric but generous man, and I'm almost certain he won't mind an unexpected house guest. Especially since he's asked a lot of questions about you. He says you remind him of himself as a young man."
Richard didn't even try to look interested, but only continued to stare out the windows at the passing greenery. Alex rambled on, helplessly uneasy in the presence of this boy he had thought he knew so well. "The animal life is incredible. This morning there was a monkey that stole an apple right off our breakfast table on the patio. And you can catch piranhas in the river."
Cringing at the sound of his own senseless chatter, Alex was relieved when the chain link fence of the compound came into view. Stopping the car in front of the gate, he hopped out to use his key on the padlock and then drove the Land Cruiser inside the compound to park beneath the carport.
Richard climbed out and glanced around. Alex followed his gaze, the familiar sight seeming strange again with the presence of someone from home. Palm and oak trees shaded a sunken swimming pool, while hammocks were slung in the shade. The white walls of the main house gleamed in sharp contrast to the red tile roof, and plumeria trees ran riot against the near wall. Next to the house was the shed that housed the generator, and on the other side of the compound clustered the thatched wooden houses of the caretaker's extended family.
Two boys raced out from behind one of the buildings, dueling over a tattered soccer ball. Alex wondered whether they would invite Richard to play with them, and if the favored ward of Bruce Wayne would feel comfortable playing with kids who may or may not own a second pair of shoes.
Richard's eyes weren't on the boys, but on the perimeter of the compound. "Not much of a fence."
Alex remembered the miles long stone wall that ringed Wayne Manor, fortified with electrified wire and panned by surveillance cameras. "Not really," he agreed.
* * *
Late that night, Alex slipped into the chair in front of the compound's only computer. It was also in the only air conditioned room, and he settled back and enjoyed the chill as he waited for the machine to boot up.
To Alex's relief, Dr. Marquez hadn't been the least bit phased by Richard's arrival. In fact, he had seemed pleased to meet the student Alex had bragged so much about, and had promptly suggested a chess game. Before he could remember where he had put the board, however, he had been struck by a sudden insight and hurried off to write it down. He hadn't reappeared until dinner time. Alex smiled to himself and shook his head. The elderly mathematician was possibly the most brilliant person he had ever met, but he was undoubtedly the most eccentric.
The satellite Internet connection finally online, Alex opened Google and typed in "Bailey shooting Gotham." The next moment, his jaw dropped as he stared at the list of blue links: "School Shooter Targets Wayne Ward," "Richard Grayson witnesses classmate's suicide," "'I thought Rick was dead,' one student's eyewitness account." And the list went on.
Numb with shock, Alex clicked on a feature article from the Gotham Globe.
…one eyewitness reports that Bruce Wayne arrived at the school while Grayson was being held hostage, in response to a cell phone call from his ward. No member of the Wayne family was available for comment.
Even though he was done reading, Alex continued to stare at the computer screen, his mind reeling. A shooting at Bailey, that was all he said. Not, I was taken hostage. Not, I saw my classmate blow his brains out. He understood now why Wayne had wanted the kid out of Gotham. The media is all over this. As if he hadn't been traumatized enough.
But he was still confused about why Richard had come to Colombia alone. If he wants him safe, why send him here, alias or not? And then he realized, He wasn't sending him to Colombia. He was sending him to me. For a moment, a feeling of honor overwhelmed him, but then he pushed it aside. How I feel about it isn't important. But I still don't understand why he's here alone. Wayne was both a flake and an idiot, but he took his parenting duties, as Alex knew from firsthand experience, very seriously. If I had a son who'd gone through something like that, I wouldn't let him out of my sight.
His eye caught on the article's final sentences again: Bruce Wayne arrived at the school …
Maybe, Alex thought cautiously, an idea evolving, maybe he couldn't handle it. If he saw Richard, covered in that other boy's blood, it could have reminded him too much of himself. He had long suspected that Wayne had never truly dealt with the long ago murders of his parents. And it was Alfred who made the call. Maybe Wayne didn't send him away from Gotham. Maybe Alfred sent him away from Wayne.
As an explanation, it wasn't entirely satisfactory, but it was the only one he could think of.
Over the next week and a half, Alex watched his student carefully. On the surface, Richard seemed fine. He spent hours playing soccer with the caretaker's sons and nephews, his Spanish improved, and he was unfailingly polite in the face of Dr. Marquez's absent-mindedness. He and Alex talked over everything he'd been studying with Dr. Ray back in Gotham, and he seemed eager to discuss Marquez's work whenever they managed to pin the mathematician's mind onto a conversation in the present. But he never talked about home. When directly questioned, he answered as briefly as possible and then changed the subject.
Alex desperately wished he could talk the whole thing over with Alfred.