Bruce Wayne entered the room quietly. His nine year old son lying in his bed, sleeping peacefully. Bruce smiled as he watched little Jason sleep.
The boy had received that name to remind Bruce of his greatest failing and not to make the same mistakes with his son. It was a morbid thought but one that had had the desired effect. It had also led to an unfortunate circumstance.
A Gotham without Batman. Bruce looked out of his son's bedroom window at the night sky. Years ago, he would sit in that very room watching for any sign of the call for the Dark Knight to venture out into the night once again. Then had came his death, a time during which Dick Grayson had stepped up, albeit with some coaxing from those around him, followed around a year later by his resurrection.
He remembered the day. He had felt slightly guilty upon his revival, not only knowing how he had been used by the Black Lantern corps but knowing how he had deprived Dick of what, contrary to the knowledge of others, Bruce had always believed was Dick's eventual right.
Now, ten years on, the slightly greying Bruce was no more the Dark Knight than he was hard up for money; on the contrary, his business had thrived more than he could have thought possible, and he found himself with more wealth than he had believed possible.
"Dad?" The voice said from the door way.
Bruce turned to see his elder son, Damian, stood in the doorway. The young man walked up beside his father and looked at the sky with him.
"Ever miss it?" He asked.
"No." Bruce replied coolly "I chose to give it up when he was born and I stick by my choices. All of them."
Damian didn't need telling what Bruce had meant. After Miranda, Bruce's wife and Jason's mother, had given birth to Jason, Bruce had given up the mantle of the bat. Not only that, but he had forbidden Dick, Tim Drake or the at the time teen aged Damian from becoming the new Batman for fear of them having to live the life he had up until that point.
He knew there were days when his father regretted it, and knew he still felt guilty for it, for taking it away from them, especially Dick, but he also knew Bruce was glad that he hadn't lost anyone else the same way he had lost Jason's namesake, Jason Todd, the second Robin, someone Damian had been compared to when Dick had asked him to be his Robin.
"Right..." Damian said, breaking the silence "And I don't think he's ever going to ask about how you spent your younger years."
"He will." Bruce said "And he'll get the truth, or at least, part of it."
"And that is?" Damian asked.
"That I was a business man." Bruce said "He doesn't need to know about any of it."
"And what about when he finds the cave?" The younger man asked, this time more forcefully "Dad, you don't have a right to keep this from him. To keep Batman from him, it's in his blood."
"But it doesn't have to be his life like it was mine." Bruce said "I won't let it be."
"What if he asks about his adoptive brother?" Damian asked, getting further more aggressive.
"Then I'll tell him what happened to Tim." Bruce said, his tone darker "That he was murdered by a mad man."
"Dad, I never understood, how could you not go out to try and avenge him?" Damian said "I mean, I know he and I didn't see eye to eye all the time, but even I was furious after what Crane did to him. Even the Red Hood did something about it, regardless of how we felt about his methods."
"That's enough, Damian!" Bruce said angrily "Yes, okay? If he ever finds the cave, I'll tell Jason about it all, but until then, he doesn't need to know."
"Fine." Damian said "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have something to do."
And with that, Damian walked out, grumbling quietly to himself. It wasn't that he didn't respect his father; quite the contrary, his father was one of the men he held in the highest regard. He just didn't like how Bruce planned to keep Jason in the dark about his heritage. It seemed like the boy was being robbed of something.
Damian walked into the study and walked up to an old grandfather clock. He reached to the book case beside it and pulled a book out slightly. The clock swung open, revealing a secret passage. Damian stepped inside and began walking down the stairs into the caverns below...