Summary: Batman's children prepare to move on without him.
Author's Note: This is based, somewhat, on the movie 'Under the Red Hood'.
For the purpose of this story: Instead of Talia giving birth to Bruce's son (Damian, in the comics) Rash cloned Jason Todd—instead of trying to resurrect him. The original Jason Todd is very much dead. Due to the fact that the clone was an exact replica of Jason when he died, he had all of his memories as well—including those of being tortured by the Joker and dying—which is why he woke up insane (as seen in the movie). He's the one that became 'Red Hood'. Rash, always prepared, made another clone—this one an infant. It is the second clone, now ten years old, who appears in this story. Also, Bruce never officially adopted Cassie—she and Tim have taken timid steps toward romance. 'Huntress' and 'Azrael' have also begun a romance (in this story, anyway, he isn't dead). And, finally, Barbara underwent experimental surgery to get the use of her legs back. She is no longer 'Oracle'.
Warning: None in this story.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun.
The day was somber, cloudy, and overcast—threatening rain. It was the perfect day for a funeral.
A throng of mourners gathered around a black coffin.
Inside this coffin was a man who had done more good than anyone would ever truly know.
He was Bruce Wayne—also known as 'The Batman'.
He had died while saving the world—for about the billionth time.
Officially, for the public, he had died in an assignation style bombing—much like his second adopted son had ten years before (that story had also been a needed fabrication).
For those mourners who were among the superhero community, they knew the truth and that was he had died as he had lived—a hero.
That was all that mattered to them—and to those he had called 'family'.
The minister finished the ceremony, nodded to Bruce's family, and then turned to walk away.
As everyone began to move away and separate, the six remained. Even as a light mist began to rain, they did not move.
"Farewell, my boy," the older gentleman, Alfred Pennyworth, spoke in a hoarse whisper. "God grant you peace at last…"
The two young men standing beside him, each placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Time to go, Al," the older of the two, at thirty, said.
"Yeah," the younger, at twenty-five, added. "He wouldn't want us to linger."
Alfred nodded, and putting on his round-top hat, turned to head for the waiting limo parked nearby.
Unlike most other times, today, he wouldn't be driving it himself…
"Will he be all right, do you think?" the red haired young woman asked the eldest of the dark haired young men.
"I don't know if any of us will be," was his answer, as he placed a hand on the shoulder of the ten year old boy in their midst. "C'mon, kiddo, let's go home."
"Dick," the younger young man said. "Look." He pointed to the hill off to their left.
They all looked to see a lone figure standing there. He wore a red leather biker jacket and a red mask.
They all knew who it was.
"What's he doing here?" the dark haired young woman besides the younger young man growled, angrily.
"The same reason we are," the eldest among them told said. "Paying respect to the man we all loved and admired. Even he loved him once upon a time…"
The others all nodded and followed him to the limo. Getting in, they headed for home—Wayne Manor.
Some hours later, they all gathered in the underground cavern below the Manor.
The Batcave had changed a great deal over the years since a much younger Bruce had hued it from the original naturally formed cavern it had been, but they could still practically fill Batman's presence within it even now.
This was, and always would be, his true home. Just as the black cowl and cape had been his true self.
Along the wall, hanging in glass cylinders, were their costumes: Nightwing's and the adult-Robin's to the left, Batgirl's and kid-Robin's to the right, and Batman's trademark cape and cowl in the middle.
"Master Bruce wished this to be played," Alfred told all of them, "should anything ever happen to him. It is, in essence, his unofficial will."
"Yeah," Richard Grayson-Wayne said, "his lawyer called after we got home to remind us about the reading of the official one."
"As if we could forget," Cassandra Cain snorted, shaking her long raven black hair.
"It's fitting that he had two wills," Timothy Drake-Wayne added, quietly. "One for Bruce and one for Batman..."
"Even in death," Barbara Gordon said, staring at the 'Batman' costume, "he is still two different men."
"No," Dick spoke up, firmly. "He's the same man—just two parts of a whole."
"Well said, young sir," Alfred told him, nodding. "Shall I begin?"
"Go for it, Alfred," Dick said, smiling a little bit.
Alfred nodded and punched a button on the bat computer. Immediately, an image of Batman appeared.
"If you are all watching this," he told them, "it means I have fallen…"
He reached up and removed his cowl, showing the face of Bruce Wayne.
"I can only hope I died well," he told them, seriously. "In any event, there will be an official will, of course, which mostly has to do with the family fortune and business—I'll give you all a heads up—you each get a share of both. Dick, though, is primary inheritor as my successor as CEO of Wayne Enterprises…"
Dick swallowed, though he wasn't surprised by this.
He had always known he would be Bruce's successor—in both his official and unofficial roles.
He may have rebelled against it in the past, even almost hated his adopted father for putting him in that position, but he knew now it was the right thing for him to do.
He owed it to Bruce, after all.
He had all but raised him after his parents had died, given him a purpose in life, and taught him what it truly meant to be a hero.
"I have decided to do this in order from youngest to oldest," Bruce continued, "except for you, Alfred. You shall be first."
The 'kids' all glanced at the older man, who had tears in his eyes as he listened to the man he had all but raised speak to him from beyond the grave.
"What can I say, ole man?" Bruce said, speaking to Alfred. "You were my Merlin—my guardian, my advisor, my conscious, and my friend. Above all those, though, you were my father. Thomas Wayne may have sired and raised me for the first ten years of my life, old friend, and I love him greatly for it, but his memory is the idealized vision of a grief-stricken child. You were the one that picked me up when I fell, stayed on me to eat the right foods, study harder, and yes—and I did need it from time to time, kids, even as all of you did—kicked my butt when I needed it."
Everyone present smiled at that, especially Alfred.
"I don't know if I ever told you this, ole man, I can only hope I did," Bruce said, "but I loved you. Thank you for everything. I know wherever I am I am missing you."
Tears rolling down his cheeks, Alfred had to sit down. After all, no father should ever have to out live his son…
"Now for you kids," Bruce said, obviously speaking to the five young people. "I want to start with Jason…"
The ten year old boy, who had not spoken very much at all, glanced up at the screen with wide blue eyes.
"I know you have only just come into my life," Bruce told him, "and that you aren't the Jason I adopted twelve years ago, but you are him to a certain extinct and so it is to you I am saying this. I'm sorry…"
Everyone gasped at this. Bruce, in life, had rarely apologized for anything he did.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be a better father to you," Bruce said, "and that I couldn't protect you better. I failed you, not once but twice, and to my great shame I now can't be there for at all. But do not worry…you will be well cared for. I know you have been wondering where you will fit in with us and so I will tell you. Officially, you are my grandson—the result of a teenage romance the original Jason had before he died—and I only just discovered. Dick shall be your legal guardian now, as your uncle. He will be much better father for you, then I ever could."
The boy turned to look at Dick, who nodded. He had figured this much as well.
Dick reached out and put hand on his shoulder, gently.
He didn't know whether what Bruce said was going to be true or not, but he would try.
He would try very hard to be what this boy needed him to be.
"Now, for the girls," Bruce said, quietly. "Barbara and Cassie, you both have been wonderful 'Batgirls'. You both came to me in a different way than each of my boys, and yet despite the fact you were never 'mine' I couldn't be more prouder of both of you. Barbara, I know since your surgery you have been regaining the strength in your legs and training your body hard. I can only assume it is so you can put on a mask once more. I know also that you and Dick still love each other very much and I am happy for that. Dick will need you now, your love and support will be his strength in the days to come. The same can be said of you, Cassie, as I know you and Tim care for each other greatly. I, sadly, could never give my heart to one woman for any length of time, but I am glad my sons can. Take care of them for me, please."
At almost the exact same moment, Barbara and Cassie reached out and took the hand of one of the two 'sons' mentioned.
"Tim, you're next," Bruce said, and Tim stood a bit taller. "You came into my life when I was still grieving over the loss of Jason. I was almost to the edge, but you pulled me back from it. When your father died, I took you in because I felt it was an obligation I owed an old friend—and because you were my sidekick—but as time went by you became a son to me, as well, and that is why I officially adopted you. I hope you will wear the 'Wayne' name proudly, son. I am very proud of the man you have become and I know that whatever course you take, you will soar on strong wings and fly high."
Tim wiped at his eyes, trying desperately not to let them fall.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced over to see his older brother.
He nodded to him, grateful.
"And finally," Bruce said, showing a rare smile, "to you, my little chum…"
His eldest son stood straighter, taller, waiting.
"In a way, it seems I was always letting you down the most," Bruce told him, quietly. "For that, you will never know how sorry I am. You were the first person I ever willingly allowed into my heart—the first person, other than Alfred, I ever gave a damn about. I guess, in my own way, that was why I pushed you as hard as did…because I was afraid of losing you. We have always had our differences, and we've barely gotten along at times, but there was never a moment—not once—that I wasn't proud to call you 'mine'. You are my son, Dick, no matter what bullshit I spouted when you first came to me. My officially adopting you only cemented that. I am proud of the man you have become, and I know you are the right one to take my place as both head of Wayne Enterprises and as Batman…"
He held up the famous—and infamous—cowl.
"I have worn this for thirty years now," the fallen hero went on. "For twenty of those years, you have been apart of my life. I know I never told you this, though I always hoped you knew. I love you, son. You were and always will be first in my heart."
Dick swallowed, blinking back tears.
Bruce had never actually said them, he had always shown him through actions and whatnot, but to hear those four little words out loud…
Barbara gripped his hand a bit more tightly. He smiled at her, glad for her support.
He had been trying to be strong for all of them, as the eldest and 'heir apparent'.
"It is said a man is only truly known by the legacy he leaves behind," Bruce said, obviously speaking to everyone once more. "Well, you all are my legacy—and it is a legacy any man, especially Batman, can be proud of. For I have managed to build, from the ashes of a broken one, a new family. You are a family—my family—and I hope you all never forget that, and take care of each other. I trust you all will remember me, in one form or fashion, and for that I can only say thank you. A remembered man, no matter what he is remembered for, can truly say he 'lived'. Goodbye and take care."
With that, the tape ended and the screen went black.
The cave was silent, as no one spoke, moved, or even breathed...
Finally, Jason glanced at his two 'uncles'.
"What happens now?" he asked them, curiously.
"Now," Dick told him, seriously, "we continue his legacy…"
"You mean you're really going to do it?" Tim asked his older brother, wide-eyed. "You're going to become Batman?"
Dick nodded his face serious and resolved.
"Yes," he told him. "I was resistant to the idea at first, as all of you know, but now I see it's necessary. Wayne Enterprises needs a CEO and Gotham need a Batman."
"You'll need a Robin," Tim told him, smiling. "I'd—"
Dick shook his head, stopping him.
"I'd like you to take my place, little brother, in Bludhaven," he told him. "As Nightwing."
Tim blinked at him. "Are you serious?" he asked him, stunned.
"As a heart attack," Dick told him, seriously. "Bludhaven is still a mess, after all. Somebody's got to clean it up."
Tim swallowed, glancing at the blue-n-black costume, but then nodded. "You got it, big bro," he told him, smiling.
"And he won't have to do it alone," Cassie spoke up. "I'll be there, too."
"As Batgirl?" Barbara asked her, curiously.
The assassin's daughter shook her head.
"Since they married, Jean-Paul and Helena have decided to retire," she explained. "She's asked me to take over as 'Huntress' and I've decided to do it—in Bludhaven."
"Nightwing and Huntress," Dick said, smiling. "The bad guys won't know what hit them."
"What about you, Babs?" Tim asked the red haired former crime fighter. "Will you be hitting the streets again now that you have your legs back?"
"Yes/No!" Barbara and Dick answered at the same time.
The former turned a menacing glare at the latter; who looked a little sheepish at that moment.
"Yes, I will," Barbara stated, more firmly, glaring at Dick. "Somebody's gotta be out there watching your butt."
"Somebody will," Dick said, smiling down at Jason. "You are going to be my Robin. Think your for it, kiddo?"
Young Jason smiled. "Heck yeah!" he said, smiling. "Thanks, Uncle Dick!"
"Uncle Dick, huh?" Dick said, smiling. "I like the sound of that."
"Are you sure, bro?" Tim asked him, hesitantly. "He is only ten years old…"
"He's a ten year old trained by the League of Assassins," Dick reminded him, smirking. "Besides, I was only a couple of years old than he was when I became 'Robin'."
"True," Tim said, grinning, "but you're still going to need back up out there…"
"Which is where I come in," Barbara stated, firmly.
"You plannin' on being 'Batgirl' again, Sweetheart?" Dick asked her, curiously.
"No," Barbara said, smirking. "Batwoman—I'll just tweak the costume again."
"Again?" Jason asked, frowning. "What do you mean?"
"That's how Batgirl got started," Dick explained to him. "Barbara 'tweaked' a Batman costume to make the original 'Batgirl' one. Cassie just added her own flare."
"Batman, Batwoman, and Robin," Cassie said, smiling. "Sounds right to me."
"Me, too," Tim said, smiling. "Are you sure you don't want us to stick around, though?"
"I'm sure," Dick told them. "Like the old man said, you need to spread your wings and fly solo, little bro. Just—remember to come home on the weekends, okay?"
"What? And miss the family barbeques?" Tim joked, smiling.
"Hey, we can have those, you know," Dick told him. "I love barbeques!"
"After all, that's what families do," Barbara said, "and as Bruce pointed out his greatest legacy is his family."
"Yeah," Dick and Tim said at the same time. "We know…"
Alfred smiled, watching them. Master Bruce would have been so proud of them…
"Oh, son," he spoke quietly to his deceased 'son'. "You truly did leave a marvelous legacy."
A familiar voice seemed to echo through the cave, causing the bats to stir and take wing.
Everyone grew quiet then and simply smiled, knowing that even in death the Batman was still watching over them…
Author's Note: There may be more stories in this 'universe', I haven't decided yet, it mostly depends on how well this one is recieved. Also, I know I haven't updated much (at all...) lately and I apologize for that. The creative juices really haven't been flowing lately, although I do have several new stories started. I'm trying not to post anything anymore unless it is completely done and as for the stories I do have posted...well, once my juices start flowing again, I'll resume them. Thank you all for being just great readers. You're reviews for my stories really boost me up when I've had a hard day in the R.W. (real world...) So, thanks. Please, review. Catch ya'll later :)