Summary: My thoughts on the aftermath of the events covered in Batman 600. One can only hope that the situation turns out a little happier.

Warning: Spoilers to Batman 600! Read at your own risk.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to DC and Time/Warner; this is an original story that doesn't intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome.

Copyright March 2002

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Torn

By Syl Francis

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"So, where does that leave us, then?" Dick demanded.

"You have your jobs, do them." The dark figure spoke with his back turned. Dick felt the rage building inside him, reaching critical mass.

"No. Us! You and me...if there is no Bruce Wayne, then who is Dick Grayson the adopted son of? Who raised me? Can you answer that?"

In the end, the answer Dick received was one that didn't surprise him. At least, not any more.

Long after Batman left, Dick stood, staring at the shattered display case, 'Jason Todd--a good soldier.' Funny how Jason's memory had always stood between them, a subject neither one dared broach because of the pain and hurt it always wrought.

Only it didn't matter any more. The display case that housed Jason's memorial lay in shattered ruins. Like Dick's relationship with Bruce. But then, their relationship had always been fragile, so shaky that more often than not it seemed to have been built on a house of cards, teetering on the verge of collapse. And now, it had been toppled completely.

"...There is no Bruce Wayne."

Without another word to Tim, Barbara, or Cassie who'd witnessed the Titanic battle between father and son, Dick turned to go. As he melted into the shadows, Barbara called out, her voice echoing eerily throughout the deep caverns.

"Dick! He didn't mean it! It's not over."

Dick kept going. Barbara's words faded, but Batman's still hung in the air.

"It's over." The dark recesses of the Batcave whispered them back to him, tauntingly. "...There is no Bruce Wayne."

Dick closed his eyes against the underlying pain that threatened to re-emerge.

"...a mask..."

Dick pulled off his own Nightwing mask--the one that he'd designed specifically to honor the man who'd raised him--and tossed it aside in hurt anger.

"...a liability..."

Unable to help himself, Dick leaned against the tunnel wall, his warring emotions winning their struggle against his iron control. No one else, not even Barbara, could bring him so close to the brink as Batman could. Why now, he asked? When things were just beginning to be right again? After being wrong for so long?

"After he finally admitted--" Dick whispered and stopped. Then, silently, in his heart finished...'that he loved me.'

Albeit through the adoption papers. Never out loud. Never in words. But when such a gesture was no longer even necessary, when Dick had long since come to terms with his unconventional relationship with the man who'd raised him since that terrible night when his parents fell to their deaths. A night that he'd relieved every night since in his dreams.

That is until that day he and Bruce walked out of the Gotham City Hall of Records together, the signed adoption papers in hand. Since that day, Dick had felt like he'd finally belonged. He'd always felt an unconditional loyalty to Bruce, willing to lay down his life for him. And in his heart he'd loved him as a father, but like Bruce, he'd never vocalized it.

That day, for the first time since his parents' death, he'd felt as if he were a part of something whole--a family. Bruce's son.

But now?

There was no Bruce Wayne. And if there were no Bruce Wayne, then whose son was he?

"I'm nobody's son."

Dick thought for a long time about Bruce's erratic behavior since Jim Gordon's shooting. Of his arrest for Vesper's murder. Of his subsequent escape from prison. Of his unwillingness to say he didn't kill her.

"My father's dead."

His shoulders slumping, Dick started on the long, lonely trek out of the Batcave.

"He died a long time ago."

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The End