AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Hey guys! This is my first fanfic, so I hope you'll cut me some slack on whatever errors you can find. I'm sorry if I'm a little off on the characterizations. I'm a little new to the Bat-verse and I'm just learning my way around this wonderful dimension. I plan to have about 5 chapters to this thing, each taken from a different perspective. Hope you guys enjoy! Feedback is always appreciated!!! Umm… please? Feedback? (

DISCLAIMER: I make no money from writing about characters I neither own nor create. Don't sue me!!!

CHAPTER 1: Nightwing

Bludhaven, 10:00 pm

The line stretched taut in his grasp as he swung off from his perch atop Bludhaven city hall. The crisp, winter air sliced into his face as he passed, the icy crystals of snow forming little cuts on his cheeks and forehead. His fingers grew numb in the freezing cold, threatening to break his grip on the grapnel. He landed with a soft thud on the opposite building's window ledge and retracted the line. Unfortunately, he had overestimated the distance he had to travel and his knees rang with the pain of having to absorb the impact.

He was a hunter; a finely tuned weapon against crime clad in blue and black. He was freezing. He was tired. He was numb. He was hurting. He was cold.

And at that point, Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Nightwing, couldn't care less.

"Damn it Babs," he shouted into his comm.-link. "What do you WANT from me?!?"

He made his way along the snow encrusted stone outcropping, being unconsciously careful not to lose his step.

"I'm trying, ok? I do not… WHAT? No… how dare YOU!"

As he reached the ledge's sharp corner, he let loose with another line, this time latching onto a lamp post overlooking the Bludhaven harbor.

"Look… you're not being…"

He swung off into the night air once again.

"Babs… I… WILL YOU SHUT UP AND LISTEN FOR ONCE!!!"

This time, he landed with a silent grace atop the harbor warehouse.

"Why do you always…" he lowered his voice to a whisper.

He crept silently to the edge of the roof. Below him stood four men dressed all in white, shivering slightly even while buried in their heavy, fur-lined coats. He could just make out the small handguns each carried.

"Look, I can't do this now. I'm busy… God, I can't stand it when you're like this… Look, I know I…"

His eyes narrowed as he watched a small, red speedboat pull up to the dock. The two men inside stepped out, bringing with them four small briefcases. Together, the six men made their way into the warehouse. He knew he had to make his move soon.

"Babs, let's do this later ok?" He whispered as he crouched down by the skylight. Below him, the six men sat around a large table, suitcases and handguns displayed prominently. Reaching into the wrist compartments on his glove, he withdrew two small throwing disks.

"Yeah… I know… but… hey… you can't… but…"

He slapped the rooftop angrily.

"GODDAMMIT! WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???"

Angry shouts rose up from beneath him. He swore as bullets crashed through the skylight and flew past him.

"NOW LOOK WHAT YOU DID!!!" He shouted. "YOU JUST SCREWED UP TWO MONTHS DETECTIVE WORK!!! GOODBYE!!!"

He angrily cut off the link as he leapt through the skylight.

"Who the hell does she think she is?" He muttered as he smashed through the table. He whirled around in a tight circle as he unleashed a sharp kick which connected smartly with thug#1's jaw.

"Always trying to push me around…"

He ducked to avoid more flying bullets. Rising to his feet, he threw one disk to disarm thug#2, following up with a well-placed fist to the gut.

"Never wants to listen to reason…"

He backhanded thug#3 across the face.

"Always thinks she knows better…"

He threw himself at thug#4, wrapping well-muscled arms around his midsection.

"I don't know WHY…"

They crashed into the steel wall.

"I…"

He broke the thug's nose.

"EVEN…"

He turned and leapt at thug#5.

"TRY!!!"

He landed feet first into the thug's face.

"RRRAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!" He yelled as he threw the second disc behind him, at where he knew the last thug was going to be. He turned perplexedly as he heard the disk embed itself into a crate. He crouched and warily looked around, his chest heaving with the anger which he still felt.

Suspended above him was the last thug, wrapped in a tensile steel bat-line, his mouth gagged and his eyes murky.

"What the…"

He turned and scanned the shadows. Warehouse lights were never helpful when you needed them.

"Batman," he asked, "is that you?"

One of the shadows moved and a clear, feminine voice rang out.

"…No…"

He watched as a slender figure disentangled itself from the darkness. She strode toward him, her cape trailing behind her and her head cocked to one side.

Cassandra Cain.

"Batgirl." He muttered through gritted teeth.

She pulled up just short of him, cocked her head to the other side, and peered intently into his narrowed eyes.

"Are you… angry?" She asked.

He closed his eyes and took long, cleansing breaths.

"Just… wanted… to help." She said with a hint of petulance.

He took one last breath and opened his eyes. He forced himself to give the young woman a smile.

"No. I'm not angry. Not at you anyway. See? I'm smiling."

She pursed her lips.

"You're smile… not reach your… eyes."

He sighed and turned on the Grayson charm full throttle. Slowly, his lips turned up in a full-blown, genuine killer smile.

"Better?"

He could see a small smile begin to form beneath her mask.

"…Nope!"

He rolled his eyes at her.

"At least ONE Batgirl has a sense of humor tonight." He sighed again and gently massaged the back of his neck. "So Cass, what's a nice, sweet, grim avenger for justice like you doing in a run-down town like this?"

He was surprised when, in an instant, the confident young crime-fighter shifted her weight and self-consciously clasped her hands behind her back. She bowed her head, scuffed the floor with the toe of her boot, and seemed to become intently interested in the mark it left.

"… Help." She said quietly.

"Oh," he said, "well, thanks for your help Cass. I couldn't have taken the last guy down without ya!"

"No… help!" She said again.

"Um… well, I'm actually calling it a night. So, thanks for the offer, but… hey, maybe next tomorrow you could come by and help me again!"

She violently shook her head and looked into his eyes.

"No," she pounded one fist into her open palm. "You help!"



"Oh I see," he exclaimed. "You want MY help?"

She nodded eagerly.

"Well," he said uncertainly. "Cass, I, uh, I'm having a kinda rough night. I don't know if I'm gonna be much help…"

She cut him off with a frantic wave.

"NO! You help… or I…" she turned away. "Or I… hurt." She wrapped her arms around herself.

Dick stared at her. Was she actually being vulnerable?

"Aw hell Grayson," he thought. "At least it will distract you for a bit."

He placed his hand on her shoulder and gave it a small squeeze.

"Alright Cass. Let's head over to my place."

His heart lightened at the smile which spread across her face.

10 mins. later.

"Here we are! Welcome to Casa Grayson."

The two figures dropped lightly through the open window and onto the hardwood floor. It was a relatively small apartment. It had one bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom, and one living room. Dick looked around self- consciously at the multitude of clothes strewn carelessly around the living room floor.

"Sorry about the mess," he said to her. "I wasn't expecting any company." He shoved aside a half-full pizza box, clearing a space for her on the couch. "So what do you think?" He asked with a smile.

She handed him a pair of Superman boxer shorts she peeled off of the television.

"You're… pig. Stinks!" She wrinkled her nose and smiled.

"Thanks a lot," he said sardonically as he stuffed the shorts under the cushions. "So. What do you need?"

He sat down, removed his little domino mask, and looked up at her expectantly.

She stared at him for a second before slowly lowering herself onto the couch. She turned to him, opened her mouth as if to say something, closed it, and removed her black nomex gloves.

"I... uh..." she managed to get out. She quickly removed her horned mask and shook her raven black hair free. Earnest almond-shaped brown eyes stared pierced into his blue ones, speaking of a quiet intensity and a hint of insecurity.

"Hey," he said with a smile. "It's ok. You can tell me. I'm your friend."

She turned her gaze to her hands, which were nervously tying her gloves into a knot.

"Do you need help with learning to speak?" He asked, knowing that spoken language was something that Batgirl was still unsure about.

She shook her head.

"Do you want help with reading?" Another problem of hers.

She shook her head again.

"Then what do you need Cass? I can't help you unless you tell me what's wro-"

"What... happened tonight?" she cut in.

Dick was a little taken aback by the question.

"Um... Drug bust. Someone's been importing grade A heroin from Metropol-"

"Are you hurt?" she cut in again.

"Wha- no, I'm fine. Cass, wha-"

"No crime in... Gotham. I... ended my... patrol early."

"Well, that's good Cass. But I still don-"

"Do you have... pizza? I'm... hungry."

"Um, yeah, but I think I'm sitting on it. I can get you anoth-"

"Batman out of... town."

"Um, yeah, I know. Is that why you need hel-"

"Why you angry?"

He stopped and stared at her for a second. He knew she really did not mean to pry, so he tried not to lose his temper.

"It's... Complicated. You wouldn't understan-"

"Need help with boy." She said softly.

"Wh-what's that?" He could have sworn she asked for help about...

"Boy. Need help with... Boy." At this point she wasn't even looking at him anymore.

"You need help with a boy?"

She nodded slowly, her eyes turned down.

"Oh! Well, um, I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask about relationships. WHy don't you ask Barbara?"

"NO," she exclaimed. "Barbara, girl. Me, girl. You boy. Need boy help."

"Oh ok." He gave her a wry smile. "I guess you can't really talk to Batman about these things, can you?"

She smiled.

"What about Robin? Why don't you ask him? He's closer to your age..."

Her smile faded.

"No. No ask... Robin."

"Why not? He may not be King Cool, but he's had his fair share of experience."

Her lips tightened and... Could it be? Were her cheeks starting to color?

"I... Don't want."

"You don't want to ask Robin? But why... oh. OH!" He slapped his forehead. "Grayson, you're an idiot."

He grasped her shoulder.

"This is about Robin, isn't it?"

She nodded.

"You like him, don't you."

She hesitated, then nodded her head once. Abruptly, she turned and pointed an accusing finger at his nose.

"Don't tell! Don't tell Batman. Oracle. Robin!!!" She looked almost scared.

Dick had to laugh a little. Before him sat one of the greatest martial artists the world has ever known, capable of overcoming 99.99% of the world's human population in unarmed combat. And she was scared of him.

"Don't worry, I won't say a word." He gave her one of his trademark smiles.

"Good," she said. "I trust." With a sigh, she lay back on the couch and looked up at him expectantly.

He studied her for a while, noticing her muscles which were still drawn taut, her eyes which shifted every two seconds, and her shoulders which were hunched in anxiety.

"Well," he said lightly," if we're going to do this, you better learn to relax first."

He glanced at her utility belt.

"Do you have civvies?" He asked.

She cocked her head inquiringly.

"Y'know, do you have normal clothes?"

Comprehension dawned on her Asian features. She shook her head.

"Ok. Head down the hall. There's a bathroom at the end. Go take a shower and soothe those muscles of yours. I'll put out some clothes for you."

She looked at him.

"Go on!" He urged. "I'm just gonna order for some cheesesteaks. We'll talk when you're done, ok?"

Shrugging, she walked down the hall.

30 minutes later

"Thanks a lot!" Dick handed a twenty to the man, receiving a bag of steaming cheesesteaks in return. He turned a placed the four sandwiches on the table, fetched a bottle of zesti from the fridge, and sat down to wait for his guest.

"Even when they're crime-fighters, girls take long in the shower." He said with a wry smile.

"Already here."

He started and turned in his seat.

"How do you do that? You actually snuck up on me!"

She shrugged and sat down, the oversized t-shirt making her look even smaller than she really was.. "You good. Me... Better." She said with a grin.

"Oh it's gonna be like that, is it?" He said with a laugh. "Well, just for that, you don't get any cheesesteaks!"

"NO! Barbara... Make me eat... Health junk. Need... junk food!" She grinned.

"Ok, ok." He mussed up her hair. "I'm just an old softie at heart.

They both lapsed into silence as they each picked up a cheesesteak to munch.

"So," he said finally. "How do you want me to help."

"She slowly lowered her half-eaten sandwich and looked up at him.

"Robin." She said quietly.

"Yeah, I know it's about Robin. But wha-"

"I like."

"Yeah, I know you do. You told m-"

"Make him like."

"What?"

"Make him like... me."

He smiled at her and cupped her chin.

"You want him to like you." He said softly.

"Yes."

"Why?"

She looked up at him.

"I... Alone." She turned away. "Sometimes, in my... Cave, I feel... Lonely. No one to talk. When I... Hurt, no one to... Care."

She broke free from his grasp and stood looked out of the window.

"Batman, scary. Oracle… busy. You… far. Robin..."

She sighed and wrapped her arms around herself. Dick stood up and walked toward her.

"I'm sorry Cass. I wish you didn't have to be alo-"

"Robin... Care." She turned and gave him a small smile. "One night, Batman... Scold me. Said I too... Impul... Impuls..."

"Impulsive." He finished for her.

"Yes. Shouted at me. I shouted at him. He send me... Home. To cave. Said didn't... Need me if I didn't follow orders. Said I bad."

She smiled sadly. "I... Hurt. Bad."

Dick silently swore at Bruce. "It's okay Cass. He's like that."

She nodded. "I know. Robin... Told me."

She turned to stare out of the window again.

"That night," she said softly. "Robin come to cave. He saw me... Hurting. He bring... Flower."

She reached into her belt which lay on the table. She fished around for a bit and brought out a small red rose.

"He said it make me... Happy." She cupped the rose in her small hands. "He said I am like rose. Beautiful and strong."

She smiled again as she replaced the rose in her belt. "He talk to me about Batman. He said he has... Temp... Temp... Temper. But he understands. Robin said that Robin there for me."

She sat down on the couch and looked up at Dick.

"Everytime I... Feel sad.... Feel alone... Robin there. At cave. Waiting. He bring… food. Flower. Book to help me... Learn."

She looked down again.

"I... like. I... Dream him. I... Care."

Dick sat down and smiled at her. "It's sounds to me, Cass, that he does like you already."

"NO!" She shouted, suddenly angry. "He... Can't! He not... Like."

He reached over and wiped at the tear which crept down her cheek.

"Of course he does. Just look at the way he's actin-"

"NO!" She angrily pushed his hand away. "No..."

She buried her face in her hands. "Robin... Good. Smart. Kind. Nice. Caring. Robin small here," she touched her muscles, "But bigger than... World here." She touched her heart.

She stood up and walked over to the mirror hanging above the television.

"I... I am... Monster." she whispered.

"Don't say that Cass! You're not a-"

"MONSTER!" She screamed in anguish. She dropped to her knees and stared at her hands. "My father... Killer. Monster. He raise me... Killer. Monster."

She raised a fist at him and slowly extended two fingers.

"All my... Life, I know hurt. I know kick. I know... Punch. I know... Pain. I..." She stared at her fingers. "I... killed."

She craned her neck to look at him.

"I... empty inside. I don't know... frie... frien... friendship. Caring. Family."

She wiped at a tear.

"Love. I don't know... Love."

Dick's heart ached for her as he watched her struggle to control her emotions.

"I... Empty. I... Monster."

She stared up at him with watery eyes.

"Robin... Tim... Perfect. He... Good. He know care. He not... Kill. How can he... Like me?"

She bowed her head.

"Nightwing…"

"Dick." He corrected softly.

"Dick… what should I… say? How to… speak so Robin like me?"

He studied her as she sat on the floor looking forlorn and lost as a fawn.

"Cass…"

He crouched down beside her.

"Cass… have you tried talking to him? Telling him how you feel? You might be surp-"

"NO! NO talk! He will… laugh at me because he smart and talk well! I… stupid! Can't talk!"

She smashed a fist into the wall beside her.

"All my life, I know… hurt. Don't know… smart. Stupid."

She withdrew her fist and found it covered with splinters and blood.

"Batman right. I'm… bad."

She covered her face with her bloody hands and quietly sobbed.

"I am weak. I am bad. Bad monster…"

"Cass… stand up. Please." Dick stood up and held out his hand.

"No! I want to… die…"

"No you don't!" His icy words sliced through her and forced her to look up. He bent down, cupped her chin, and locked his eyes with hers.

"No you do not."

With a gentle pull, he brought her to her feet and wrapped his arms around her.

"It's okay to feel empty Cass. I understand what you're going through. You're father IS evil. But that doesn't mean you have to be too."

He held her out at arms length and looked at her.

"A parent's legacy is a tough burden to carry. Each night I go out… each crime I stop… each life I save… I do it for them. My parents died when I was very young, Cass, and it hurt. A lot. For a while, I was lost. I was angry. I lashed out at the people around me. I almost killed somebody too. But I got over it. I had too. If I had stayed angry, my life would have just spiraled out of control LONG ago. I might have ended up like Two- Face. Or the Joker. But I stopped. You wanna know why?"

She sniffled.

"Because I knew what I had to do. Batman helped me see that. No good would come out of dwelling too much on the past. If I stayed that way, I would end up hurting so many people… not the least of which is myself!"

He led her back to the couch.

"And it wouldn't stop with me. Every evil I would do would just end up hurting my parents as well. Not physically, but I would hurt the very things they stood for. Their values. Do you… understand what I'm trying to tell you?

She shook her head. "Your parents… good. My father… bad. Not same."

He sighed. "No, not same. But close enough. I'm trying to tell you that we all make our own choices. After my parents died, I could have easily gone down the wrong path. I didn't. You don't have to."

He smiled.

"You in fact have a head start. You're already on the right path, with regards to doing good anyway. What you need to do is realize how important you are. You have to realize how much value you have. Not just as a soldier… but as a person."

She looked up at him.

"I understand how scared you may be to talk to Robin. I really do. You feel that he won't accept you because of the evil you grew up with. Am I right?"

"Yes."

"Show him who you really are."

He took her hand and squeezed it.

"I know that you think that you have a taint of evil hanging over your head. I know you think you'll never be rid of it."

He placed her hand on her chest.

"But I know that right here beats the heart of a good person. You would never have joined Batman's crusade if you weren't."

He smiled.

"But if you want Robin to know it… heck, if you want ANYONE to know it, you have to believe it yourself. You have to KNOW that you are good no matter what happened in your past. If you can do this, if you can believe in yourself, then you have taken your first step in establishing a good relationship."

She cocked her head, still doubtful, but happier.

"But Robin and I… different." She said with a tinge of uncertainty.

Dick laughed.

"Of course you're different! We all are! That's what makes two people perfect for one another!"

His smile faltered as he remembered the argument he had earlier that night.

"Cass… when two people love each other, it doesn't matter how different you are. Our differences compliment each other. Do you understand?"

He sighed. Barbara must be even more furious by now…

"We must never lose sight of our beliefs. But if we… clash with our partner, we should learn to compromise. That's what you should do with Robin."

He suddenly felt very tired. If only he could follow his own advice…

"You and Robin are two very different individuals. But I'm sure you could find a middle ground. Once you do… well, you'll figure it out."

He fell silent as Batgirl studied him intently.

"You… you understand, don't you Cass?" He warily covered his eyes.

Slowly, gently, she grasped his hand in hers and kissed his forehead.

"You… troubled. Worried. It will be… alright. You… strong." She said with a smile.

He smiled back.

"You know more about caring than you let on Cass."

She pinched his cheek.

"Learn from you. Thank you. I.. und… under…"

"Understand."

"I… understand."

She stared at him for a few more seconds before quickly jumping to her feet.

"I think about what you said. I try."

He gave her an encouraging grin.

"You'll do fine Cass."

She winked, grabbed her costume and bolted toward the bathroom. He heard the bathroom window open, the sharp hiss of her grapnel, and the soft fluttering of her cape. Then, she was gone.

Dick Grayson stood in the middle of his empty apartment and suddenly felt very alone. He sank down onto the couch and gave a long sigh. The cold seeped in, penetrating the rather thin bathrobe he hastily threw on to protect his identity from the delivery boy. His breath came in cloudy puffs, made visible by the harsh winter weather.

"Time to take your own advice Grayson."

Locking his chin in determination, he picked up the phone and began to dial.