Bruce Wayne never wanted for anything in his early years. As the only son of Thomas and Martha Wayne and sole heir to the Wayne family fortune, he could always have what he wanted. He never really had anything to worry about either.
Until the day. It was August 12th, 1994. Bruce had been eight years old when he was out playing with his friend, Rachel. It was your usual kids game, hide and seek, and he had got the perfect spot; there was a boarded up well on the grounds of his home, Wayne Manor. He'd climbed into it, crouching so his eyes were just level with the top of the well. It wasn't until he moved that he heard it; the boards creaking under his weight.
He moved to climb out, but it was too late. The boards gave way underneath him, causing him to fall through into the well. Fortunately, the drop hadn't been a huge one, about seven or eight feet. Not enough to cause lasting damage since he'd been crouched, but enough to twist his ankle. As he moved his leg round to try and see it, the bats came, flying at him, circling but not attacking.
He cried out in a mixture of fear and pain before beginning to call for help. It was about ten minutes before Rachel found him and then another five before a rope ladder was thrown down. A moment later, his father descended down the ladder. He felt Bruce's leg, checking for any kind of break or fracture. Then, he picked Bruce up and climbed back up the rope ladder, Bruce hanging onto his neck.
That was the day Bruce Wayne's father also became his hero.
Four months later, on his mother's 40th birthday, December 8th, they went to the theatre, to see a production of the Mark of Zorro, which Bruce knew was more for him than her. Despite it being one of his favourites, Bruce ended up falling asleep. That was when he had the nightmare.
He was running down a corridor of some kind of hospital. The walls all had crumbling paintwork and there were a number of cells with people with a number of different deformities; some had only one eye, others had terrible scarring and others had missing limbs.
He realised then by the sound of foot steps behind him that he was being chased. He turned his head to look back and saw the thing chasing him.
It was an almost Human figure, only things were wrong with it that made it not Human. In fact, it made it terrifying, especially to him.
The figure had pointed ears on top of it's head and a leathery scalloped cloak, giving it the appearance of a humanoid bat. Bruce found himself screaming as he woke up.
"Bruce, what's wrong?" His mother said.
"N-nothing." Bruce said "Bad dream, that's all."
"Do you want to go home?" She asked him.
"No, I don't want to ruin your birthday." He replied.
"Don't be silly." She said "I've got my family and they're healthy, that's all I need. Come on Thomas, we're going."
"Okay." Thomas replied "Come on Bruce."
The three of them walked out of the theatre. They walked down a back alley, not paying attention to the tall, thin young man leant against the wall having a cigarette. He had a thin face and slicked back dark hair. He was wearing a black suit with white shirt and bowtie. There was a green flower on the jacket lapel.
As Bruce and his parents walked down the alleyway, he heard the sound of someone walking behind them. As he turned, he saw the young man was stood there. The man quickly moved around the three of them and stood in front of them, grinning maniacally.
"Why hello." He said, his voice slightly higher than Bruce would have expected "I see you're out enjoying this fine evening. How was the show?"
Before they could answer, he pulled a revolver out from inside his jacket, pointing it at the three of them.
"You all seem to be a little lost for words." He said, noticing the look of fear on Bruce's mother's face "My dear, don't worry. As long as you and your husband hand over your money, jewellery, watches and other valuables, this will all be over soon."
"Okay, just take it easy." Thomas said, pulling his wallet out from his inside pocket "There, now take it and go."
"Okay, but first, I have a question." The man said "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
"What?" Thomas said, right before the man shot him with a maniacal laugh.
"Thomas!" Bruce's mother screamed before being shot as well.
The man pointed the gun at Bruce. As he did, there was the sound of sirens; the police had turned up. The man put the gun in his pocket and waved in a comedic manner.
"See you around, kid." He said before running off down the alley.
Bruce crouched beside his parents, sobbing. He looked at his mother, who had stopped breathing, and at his father, whose eyes were wide open, his breathing shallow.
"Bruce…" He said "Don't ever be afraid… of people like that…"
As he said that, his body fell limp. Bruce was left alone, beside his parent's lifeless bodies, crying. When the man with the moustache and greying red hair came and tried helping him up, he didn't want to go. He didn't want to leave them.
But there was no one there to leave. Bruce Wayne's parents were dead. And a part of him had died with them. That was the night that Bruce Wayne stopped being a kid in any sense other than biologically.
He spent the next 16 years being raised by his butler, Alfred, going to school, until he was 16, when he left Gotham on an eight year sabbatical.
He'd made himself a silent promise on the day of his parent's funeral; he'd never let what had happened to him happen to anyone else. He would avenge his parent's death. He'd never be scared like he had been the night his parents had died. He'd never tell anyone, aside from Alfred, about the nightmare he'd had on the night of his parent's murder, the one that had caused them to get killed. He'd never tell anyone about the guilt he felt for his parent's deaths.
Or about the laughter of his parent's killer becoming a constant sound throughout his nightmare when it came back a month later. He'd lost something the night his parents died, and he'd never get it back. But he would spend his entire adult life trying to ensure no one else lost it.