Disclaimer: Sadly, Dick Grayson isn't owned by me. DC has that privilege. DC owns all of the characters in this story. All I own is the distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations. (g) No money is being made from this. Please don't sue. It wouldn't be worth your while.
Thank you: All who have supported me in the past. Special thanks to Beth for betaing and for her honest and sometimes challenging comments. I'm very much in your debt, Beth. And also Teri H, for not letting me give up on my writing.
Please note: I do write with an Aussie accent. wink
Author note: Dick Grayson Genesis Series.
I want to tell Dick's origins... the beginning of his journey with Bruce. I want to stress from the beginning, this is my interpretation. It is not cannon. The story has been told and revised a dozen times officially in comics. Every time there is a Crisis series things change. Originally Dick was eight when Bruce took him in. I think this is essential to the establishment of their relationship. He grew to view Bruce as a father... not just his mentor and guardian. One of DC's versions had Dick as old as fourteen when his parents die. It changes everything. A fourteen year old child doesn't bond with others in the same way an eight year old does. I was really pleased to see the new "Young Justice" cartoon uses the original version stating that Dick was about eight... but I digress. My Dick Grayson Genesis Series is my interpretation of what happened and why. It is how I see the characters. You may agree, or disagree. It may follow what you know as cannon or deviate from it. That is the fun of fanficiton. From what I've been able to find, Mary and John Grayson are pretty much just names in the comics. We know so little about them. Just that they died. Often they occupy one panel in a comic book... a single image showing them falling. That's it. (Or maybe I just haven't read enough and missed a comic that gives them more time) I want to flesh them out so we know who Dick is. Pop Haly is another name that is little more than mentioned in the comics I've read. I've tried to make him a real person. The other characters are well represented in comics - Alfred, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon etc.
My Dick Grayson Genesis Series is my interpretation of what happened and why. It is how I see the characters. You may agree, or disagree. It may follow what you know as cannon or deviate from it. That is the fun of fanficiton.
From what I've been able to find, Mary and John Grayson are pretty much just names in the comics. We know so little about them. Just that they died. Often they occupy one panel in a comic book... a single image showing them falling. That's it. (Or maybe I just haven't read enough and missed a comic that gives them more time) I want to flesh them out so we know who Dick is. Pop Haly is another name that is little more than mentioned in the comics I've read. I've tried to make him a real person. The other characters are well represented in comics - Alfred, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon etc.
Dick Grayson Genesis Series
The Last Moments of Innocence
Alfred checked his immaculate appearance in the mirror. With annoyance, he noted a little more grey at his temples. Time respected no man. Then again, he'd every one of those grey hairs.
The tall, finely built but active fifty-year-old straightened his tie, ran his fastidious eye across his dresser before slipping his watch on and heading out the door of his fourth floor room. There wouldn't be too many men in his position with 'digs' like his.
His 'room' was not unlike a $10 000 suite found at the top hotels in the world. Unusual for a butler, but then, there weren't too many houses in the world like Wayne Manor. Built five centuries earlier when Gotham City was a fledging community of pioneers, the mansion was four storeys high with a total of two hundred and forty-four rooms, including a ballroom, library, music room, cinema and conservatory to name just a few. Almost every President of the United States and many international leaders, film stars and celebrities had stayed here for at one time or other.
There had been a time when the Manor grounds had been two hundred acres of manicured gardens. Now, only the house yard was maintained, the rest left to nature... a little like the house itself. The four wings extending from the central part of the home had been locked up for thirteen years. Still, the central section of the mansion was quite enough to look after.
Alfred started down the grand staircase – grand was the only adjective to do it justice. It swept from the fourth to first floor, each stair wide enough for fifteen people to stand shoulder to shoulder. The staircase was visible from the huge entry and enormous family room and had landings off it on each floor leading to all wings of the house as well as the rooms located centrally.
The central part of the third floor housed the eight grandest bedrooms which a few centuries ago had once been fully occupied by the Wayne family... before the dreadful plague had practically wiped out the entire line. Most Gotham families had suffered the same fate during that period.
Before the plague, the large Wayne family had housed their invited guests in one or more of the wings. When parties had been held all two hundred of the guests would stay. In those days, there had been a staff of sixty. Now there was just Alfred.
Now...one lone bedroom on the third floor was occupied by the only surviving member of the direct family. Despite dashing good looks, high intelligence, athletic prowess and a billion dollar bank account, twenty-five year old Bruce Waybe was a man who never truly smiled. But then, that was understandable. The young man had witnessed his parent's callous murder at the tender age of twelve. With no other family, he'd ended up a ward of the state. 'The poor little rich boy who everyone wanted to be nice to because he was heir to the largest family fortune in the country but who nobody truly gave a damn about'. That was how Bruce described his childhood after the death of his parents.
On the day of Bruce's eighteen birthday, the moment he was legally an adult, he had moved back into his family home and employed Alfred as butler... maid, cook, gardener, personal assistant, medic, confidant and so much more. A one man jack-of-all-trades. It wasn't easy, but Alfred had never enjoyed a job more. It was a privilege to serve Bruce Wayne.
Alfred paused to study the painting of Bruce's parents, Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne. It stood a full twelve feet high, the figures painted in an overwhelming 2:1 scale. The bottom of the frame was ten foot off the ground forcing those on the first floor to tip their head back a full forty-five degrees to view the top of it.
The commanding piece was the focal point of the entire home. Bruce's mother had had it painted for their tenth wedding anniversary but she had made the ornate and somewhat ostentatious frame herself. Sadly, woodwork clearly hadn't been one of her gifts. The glue on the frame was dissolving causing the rosewood timber to bow and separate and the painting itself was in desperate need of maintenance.
Alfred had made the mistake of suggesting professional cleaning and reframing in the first weeks he'd worked for Bruce. His employer wouldn't even entertain the suggestion and had become uncharacteristically hostile when Alfred and gently pushed the point.
Alfred shook his head sadly. In many ways, it would probably be better for Bruce if the painting was taken down. It hung there as a constant reminder of the worst night of Bruce's life... when his beloved parents had been gunned down. The larger than life painting looked down on everyone who entered the house. Or more correctly, anyone who entered the house was forced to look up to them.
While Alfred understood why Bruce had elevated his mum and dad onto an insurmountable pedestal, the butler worried about the way Bruce revered the painting itself.
Six years earlier, Alfred had brought painters in to repaint the badly neglected internal walls. One of the workers had made the mistake of laying his fingers on the painting to take it down so the walls could be painted. Bruce had launched himself at the ladder, causing the tradesman to lose his balance and fall. The result – a broken arm and two broken legs. Thankfully the painter was happy to take Alfred's offer of $100 000 compensation and didn't press charges.
Two years earlier, the fire alarm had gone off in the house due to a small fire in the kitchen. Bruce had actually knocked Alfred out of the way in a frantic panic to save the panting. It was clear to Alfred his employer would have taken the painting outside and allowed Alfred to burn to a crisp. Thankfully, the sprinkler in the kitchen put the fire out with no damage to any other room.
Alfred shook his head again. He hated the painting, which was ridiculous because hate was a waste of energy and the painting was in an inanimate object. But this object was crippling the young man Alfred was very fond of.
'My parents are not to be touched by anyone.' That was what Bruce had once said to Alfred. 'His parents'. For some unfathomable reason this painting had become sacred to Bruce... a sacrosanct shine and representation of his father and mother that was large, bold and impossible to compete with.
It simply wasn't healthy.
Vicki Vale checked her digital recorder as Bruce Wayne's secretary let the head of Wayne Enterprises know she had arrived for her appointment.
The Gotham Mail reporter knew she had been fortunate to score this interview. Bruce Wayne was the single most popular topic in Gotham City. One of the top five Tweets, in the country. It wasn't difficult to understand why. Bruce Thomas Wayne was young, handsome, unattached and richer than some countries. Not that Vicki was in the market for a relationship, but this interview could be a stepping stone in her career.
She'd met Bruce Wayne once at a fundraising function and they'd spoken briefly. Vicki had found Wayne intriguing. On one hand he handled the crowds and the attention with the ease of a Hollywood star and on the other, when the cameras were off him, he'd been quiet, accomplished at making small talk but distracted. If Vicki hadn't known' better she'd have said he was totally disinterested in all of the women unashamedly throwing themselves at him. There had been a moment when she'd considered he may be gay and had in fact published an article hinting at it, but she'd never truly believed it herself. Her woman's intuition told her he was straight.
"Ms Vale. Mr Wayne will see you now."
Vicki nodded politely and entered the large office. Her first impression was mild surprise. She had expected something more lavish and decadent, but the room, while spacious, was functional.
6'2 of handsome was already standing. He smiled... white teeth, incredible blue eyes, perfect dark hair. Down Vicki, girl. You're writing an article on his company not doing research for a cheap romance novel. "Mr. Wayne."
"Ms Vale. And it is Bruce, please."
Vicki accepted his handshake... strong, firm, authoritative. Her father had always told her you could tell a lot about a man from his handshake. "Alright, and it is Vicki."
He released her hand and directed her to one of two chairs on either side of a small magazine table. "Tea, coffee or water?"
Her expression must have showed surprise because he winked. "A bit early for something stronger."
Vicki smiled. She liked him. She liked him very much.
Immediately she checked her reaction. To get anywhere in this business you had to be cold, hard and leave personal feelings at the door. Her father had taught her that. Following his advice had got her this far. She had learned quickly that there was no place for a conscience in her line of work. Everyone and everything was fair game because the public had a right to know. "I'm fine for now."
"So you want to know about the Wayne Foundation we launched last week?"
"Yes. You don't mind if I record this interview?"
Bruce waved his hand casually. "No problem."
"The Wayne Foundation. There was no press release about it. Normally a company would be clamouring to tell the world of their charity work, but there hasn't been a peep in the press about this new organisation. Why?"
Bruce sat back in his chair. "The point of the Wayne Foundation isn't to impress people, it is to help those in need... and those in need don't care about my company reputation."
"So give me a little information about it," Vicki prompted.
"Wayne Enterprises has always been involved in the community but we wanted to formalize and expand what we're doing. The Wayne Foundation is our way of doing that."
"So what exactly..."
"What are we working on?" Bruce smiled. "There are a couple of things. First, we're building a home for misplaced children. One that doesn't look like it came out of the novel 'Oliver Twist', which of course was how it was when I spent time in an orphanage."
He worked his angles well, Vicki mused. Very accomplished. Bruce Wayne truly knew how to manage an interview.
"This project is close to my heart. The children need their own space and they need people working with them who actually give a damn."
Vicki was taken back. The passion in his voice was genuine.
"With the current economic crisis, families are hurting and there simply aren't enough foster families around. So, this new facility will provide a home... rather than a prison... for one hundred orphans and other misplaced children."
"And what will this place be called?"
"The Martha Wayne Home for Children... in honour of my mother. The facility should be completed by March. Wayne Enterprises has employed builders, carpenters and other tradesman who have been out of work."
"That's incredible. So many building projects are going to foreign companies and they are bringing in cheap labour."
"It is a drop in the bucket in light of what Gotham needs. Wayne Enterprises, like all large corporations, has a responsibility to employ Gothamites. We've done the same thing with our Re-homing project. The Foundation has purchased a number of derelict buildings filled with squatters. We've temporarily placed the squatters into motels while the buildings are made habitable, again employing out-of- work tradesman. Once complete, the squatters will be moved back and asked to pay what they can in rent."
"What they can? You mean it is up to them to decide how much they pay?"
"That is very generous but surely people will simply take advantage."
Bruce pursed his lips. "Some might, but most homeless people have a strong sense of dignity. They don't want charity. They just need a helping hand to get back on their feet. As they do, they can pay more."
Vicki exhaled. "I hope it works."
"Sometimes you have to have faith in human nature. By the way, I'm not saying my faith is any stronger than anyone else's, but I have the money to give it a go." He smiled again.
Vick was impressed and she didn't impress easily. "So two major projects."
"There are several others. We are opening two free medical clinics so that those in need can receive free treatment or contribute what they can. Also four soup kitchens, two drug rehabilitation clinics and a training programme to re-skill those out of work."
"That's.. that's quite incredible."
"It's a start. Do you have any questions?"
"Are you personally running the Foundation?"
Bruce winked at her. "I'd like to say yes, but no. However, I'm on the board and I admit I've taken a particular interest in the orphanage."
"Of course. Mr. Wayne..."
He pointed at her in a playful scolding manner.
"... Bruce," she corrected. "According to my sources you have been seeing Antoinette Nobel, the daughter of millionaire Ashton Nobel who owns the Speedy Cash Supermarket chain."
"Yes, Net and I have been spending some time together. She's witty, intelligent, not hard on the eye," he chuckled. "And we share a number of things in common. A love of sailing and flying and a common dislike of the media."
Vicki smirked. "Are you baiting me or flirting with me?"
"Both," Bruce laughed.
"So, will we be seeing you and Ms Nobel on the social circuit?"
Bruce shrugged. "Perhaps. At the moment, we are just friends. We both grew up in the media spotlight and actually enjoy time away from it."
"Fair enough. I have one more question."
"About the Wayne Foundation?"
"Okay, now I'm worried." Bruce crossed his arms across his chest. "What do you want to know, Vicki?"
"Well, you are the most eligible bachelor on the planet and..."
"And no one has snared me which means I must be gay." Vicki froze.
Bruce laughed easily. "My butler read your article and told me that is now the latest rumour."
"I didn't actually say..."
Bruce held up his hand, showing he wasn't in the least bit concerned. "Ms Vale, the reason no one has 'snared' me is because I'm not an animal to be captured, nor a prize to be won. As for being gay, I have many male and female friends but I assure you, when the time comes I will be looking for a Miss Right... not a Mr. Right."
"Actually, that wasn't my question. I was wondering why we rarely see you out on the town after dark? You're not a vampire are you?" She watched as his expression changed. He broke eye contact, sat for another heartbeat, then rose abruptly and strode toward the window where he stopped, staring out over the gardens.
Vicki sat totally still. Her reporter's instincts were screaming. She'd really hit a nerve. There was definitely a story here. And yet, quite out of character, her personal feelings were encroaching and she found herself feeling terrified she'd put her foot in it. "Bruce, I didn't mean to...I'm sorry. Did I say something to offend you?"
He didn't respond, but continued to stare out the window.
Vicki rose awkwardly. "I should probably go."
"I suffer from panic attacks." The admission was very soft.
"Triggered by being outside at night. My parents... the night they died, we'd been to the movies to see 'Zorro'... my choice. It finished at 8:27pm. The street lamp on the corner was smashed. Because it was raining we decided to take a short cut to the car by cutting through the alley. It was so dark and..." His voice was barely above a whisper by the time he finished. Bruce licked his lips and then dropped his gaze to the carpet.
Vicki approached him and gently placed her hand on his arm. Her heart bled for him - her reporter's instincts and the rules she prided herself on, defeated by her attraction to him. "Bruce, I'm so very sorry. I shouldn't have..."
He lifted his gaze. "No. It's okay. The panic attacks are irrational. I'm fine while I'm at a function but then I have to walk to the car and usually that involves entering the darkness of a parking lot or street. It all closes in on me. I start shaking and... So, I avoid evening functions as much as possible. It's fine in summer because the sun doesn't go down until quite late. But in winter..."
"I had no idea."
Bruce reached up and patted her hand before moving away from her. "At the moment I'm working on attending one evening event a week. My therapist says it is important for me to face my fears."
Vicki watched as he moved to the middle of the room and turned to face her. He seemed to be back in control, the vulnerability gone.
"I hope what we've just discussed won't appear on the front page of the Gotham Mail tomorrow. I haven't actually told anyone else before."
Vicki shook her head vigorously. "No. No of course not. I..." She stopped the digital recorder. "I would never print that, Bruce."
"Thank you. I appreciate that. I..." He was interrupted by the buzzer on his desk. "Excuse me." He reached over and pushed a button. "Yes, Sally?"
"Captain Gordon of the Gotham City Police is here to speak with you, Sir. Do you have a few moments?"
"Yes, of course." Surprise blanketed his face. "Just give me a moment." Bruce glanced at Vicki. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid we'll have to continue this at another time. May I suggest lunch tomorrow at Alexanders? Say, 12:30?"
Vicki felt her face flush. "Y...yes," she stuttered. "That would be lovely."
He smiled and ushered her toward the door. "I look forward to it, but no voice recorder this time."
She nodded, stepped outside and felt such a fool. She'd acted like a giddy school girl. She never did that. Never! She had worked hard to get her position on the paper and had never allowed anyone to get below her defences. A story about Bruce Wayne suffering panic attacks would probably get her on the front page of every paper and magazine in the country. It was her big break.
Vicki's heart pounded in her chest. It was her way to get out of a small paper like the Gotham Mail and into one of the large Gotham papers... or even one of the national papers.
Her dream ended mid thought as she remembered how vulnerable he'd looked... and how he'd asked her to lunch. Besides, she'd told him she wouldn't print it.
"Damn," she muttered. "I've gone and grown a conscience."
Bruce closed the door behind the reporter and exhaled long and slowly, the smile falling from his face. His entire demure changed. His brow furrowed deeply and he cursed under his breath.
Only fast thinking had saved him. Vicki Vale was a smart woman and she'd almost caught him off-guard. He had no excuse either. Alfred had raised concerns about the fact Batman was only seen at night and Bruce never was. Bruce had responded with something like, 'no one will notice'. But someone had. Someone with the means to make things very difficult.
"I really need to take more notice of Alfred," Bruce muttered.
He took another breath to prepare himself, consciously switched back on his happy billionaire's personality and opened the door to greet Captain Gordon.