AN: So this is how I would imagine Battle for the Cowl would go down in YJ universe as Dick Grayson becomes the Dark Knight and how he depends on Artemis and the rest of the Batfamily to get through the news of Bruces' death and the transition to becoming Batman.
Chapter Three: New Personas
The weather outside Wayne Manor was an accurate reflection of the mood of the entire city of Gotham, dreary and turbulent, however the weather reflected on one man more fittingly than any other, his name was Dick Grayson. Most Gothamites were grieving the death of Bruce Wayne due to a tragic car accident, or so the story had been told. However it was much more than that, not only had the citizens lost their tabloid icon, but had unknowingly lost their Dark Knight as well to the hands of Darkseid and his Omega Sanction, but not before Bruce had killed the evil son of a bitch. It wasn't just the family though, everyone missed Bruce, Clark wasn't his chipper Kansas farm boy self, while J'onn wasn't as open as he once was, Diana hadn't returned from Themiscyra since the funeral even though Dick was adamant the Wayne Manor would always be her home, just the way she and Bruce had imagined it to be. Hal had been on more missions than Dick had ever remembered him taking for the Corp. as long as he'd known the brave Green Lantern. Dick was thankful for the support from his friends, especially Wally and Conner who had been by on numerous occasions to help clean up Gotham while he and Tim patrolled as Nightwing and Robin. Kaldur had patrolled Gotham Bay many times as well and it was always good to know that Atlantis had his back. Sitting in the chair in the Batcave his mentor had once used, Dick Grayson was clutching the cowl of the newly designed Batsuit Alfred had created in his fists, like the harder he held on the more likely it would be that Bruce was still out there somewhere. The young man also couldn't but have slight hesitations after the invasion by the Black Lantern Corp. when Dick saw the reanimated corpse of Bruce Wayne come to life, and the image of him sending his father-figure back to the grave for good was one he wished he could forget, such things tended to have traumatic effects on most people, Dick was no exception to the rule, the only person he could imagine being so cold was Damian Wayne. Bruces' own biological son, brought to Bruce by his mother Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the Devil himself Ra's al Ghul. Leaning back and resting against the chairs back, the older and wiser Dick Grayson couldn't help but to think of the events that led to him receiving the mantle of Batman, 'The Battle for the Cowl', Tim had called it, if Dick remembered correctly. Once news had spread around Gotham City of Batmans' demise there were many impostors to come out of the woodwork, one more dangerous than the others, Jason Todd, one of the former Robins, and Dick frowned at the thought. Jason had been taking the crime fighting to a frightening new extreme ever since he returned as the Red Hood, but even more so as "Batman" even shooting the Joker at point blank range, as well as injuring Tim. After bringing his younger brother back to the Cave for treatment, Dick left Stephanie in the infirmary room to look after Tim, while he went out in the new Batsuit Alfred had originally designed for Bruce, to stop Jasons' current antics, said imposter eventually fell off the side of a building during their fight, but Dick truly believed he was still out there, after all no body was found and it wasn't like Jason Todd to stay dead for long. That had been merely four short hours ago, and to say the former Boy Wonder was exhausted was an understatement, but he wanted to be there when Tim woke up so he could talk to the younger man about where he found Jasons' hideout, and to baby his younger brother about being more careful.
If there was one thing Dick knew, it was that Tim was much smarter than him. He'd found Jasons' 'Cave' in just about an hour and a half while it would have taken Dick at least three or four to pin-point its location. However Dick would have to wait as Stephanie had come to tell him Tim was stable but would be out for quite a while more, thanking the young woman, Dick watched her go back into the infirmary room. With a smile the talented acrobat noted the love the young woman still had for Tim, even when Stephanie hadn't been Spoiler for a few short months she had helped around the Cave, and he'd notice her gaze land on the Batgirl suit Cass had left behind more than a few times. He knew Tim wouldn't like it, but Dick knew how hard Stephanie had been working with Barbara and in her training with himself, Tim, and even Damian, and she would be an excellent member to the Bat-Family, but that decision would have to wait for another time as Dick heard footsteps behind him, a smile came across the ne Batmans' face hoping Artemis would be home from taking over patrol duties. Turning in the chair Dick was instead met with the young Damian Wayne, still looking as arrogant and abrasive as ever while the light from the Caves' computer added a look of darkness to the boy, it also didn't help that the the hero was in no mood to deal with him, however the young boy thought otherwise.
"So Drake got himself beaten up, I wouldn't let that happen if I was Robin you know." 'Not this again' thought Dick as he watched the young boy lean against the case with his old Robin costume, a cocky grin on his face. If he didn't know otherwise Dick would swear that Damian was the son of Ra's al Ghul and not Bruce Wayne by the way the kid acted, like he was entitled to everything he wanted and could take what he wasn't given. Getting up from his seat he ruffled Damians' hair as he started towards the stairs to go to bed, until the young boys' words stopped him in his tracks. "I could just take the mantle of Batman if you're not up to it Grayson." Damians' eyes bore into the back of Dicks head, and the older man could feel the distaste for the youngsters attitude return to the surface. Turning to face the petulant boy, Dick let his eyes turn to cold ice as he stared into the dark brown orbs of the young man, allowing himself to use the gift of intimidation Bruce had taught him in his youth.
"Let me make something very clear Damian, Tim Drake has risked his life and come closer to death than just about anyone I know. He's strong, smart and gifted, and he is my equal. That is the only reason he won't be Robin under me, I respect him too much to ask him to work under me." Damian seemed to become perturbed by the words that Dick was saying to him, he wasn't used to being spoken to this way, like a child. "You are just a child Damian, but if you think you can defeat me, Tim, or even Stephanie for that matter say so because we'll let you give it your best shot." When the young boy didn't say anything Dick continued on. "Exactly as I thought, all bark and no bite. I remember the beating you took from Roy when you made fun of Barbaras' wheelchair, maybe when she gets home I'll tell the lady of the house how you've been acting." This made Damian go as wide eyed as a deer caught in the headlights.
"Whatever, but this conversation isn't over. I still think you should think about it Grayson. I would make an excellent partner." With that Damian made his way to the steps and up into the main house, watching him leave Dick was still staring intently at the door the young man had just exited, letting himself breathe and relax just a little Dick settled back into the chair like an uncoiling spring. After a few more minutes of waiting Dick figured it would be best to rest and talk to Tim in the morning, he was very tired himself after all. Dragging himself up into the main house Dick had all the intent of sleeping as soundly as possible right now, but as he entered the foyer he saw Alfred sweeping up the remains of one of the more expensive vases in the house and he wished the kind old man would have waited until the next day to clean it up, it was far to late for Alfred to be out of bed.
"Damian?" Dick almost felt silly for asking.
"Why yes Master Dick, he seemed even more testy than usual if that is at all possible." The old butler sounded just as regal as always, but Dick could still see the smile on Alfreds' face at the joke, or maybe it was just true enough to be a statement, the hero really wasn't sure.
"Yea, I gave him a talking to. After all he needs to learn he just can't be given everything anymore. He's going to be a hard one to raise." Dick saw Alfred smile at that, and he couldn't help but to smile as well. The regal older gentleman placed his hand on the shoulder of the young man he considered his own grandson, as he spoke words of encouragement.
"It takes a village Master Dick, we will all be here to help the boy along, but you and Miss Artemis need to be the most important. You two need to show him how to be a hero, after all I think Master Tim would kill him if alone with the boy for over half an hour." Letting himself enjoy a laugh with Alfred, Dick slumped towards the stairs looking completely drained. "I've left some cloths for you to sleep in on the bed in the master bedroom Master Dick." Waving to the older gentleman, Dick made his way up the stairs and eventually into the bedroom and changing into the white athletic shorts, leaving the black t-shirt for his expected visitor. Settling into the sheets, the young man drifted off to sleep with thoughts of long bushy blonde hair and the color green.
Making her way home through the storm, finishing up the patrol of Gotham for Dick and Tim, the lean young woman cursed agreeing to such a thing in this weather when she drove a motorcycle. 'Oh yea, and that I also wear a costume with no sleeves and very exposed mid-rift' Artemis thought as she reminded herself to kill Dick when she returned to the mansion. Pulling into the garage of Wayne Manor, Artemis walked into the foyer from the door that connected the two parts of the mansion, seeing Alfred the young blonde held her hand up in a sign that she wished to be left alone, her attitude was worsened when she saw the sweet old man cleaning up shards of porcelain at four-thirty in the morning. 'If that was Damian I swear I'll kill the kid, his life will be over' was the thought of the angry archer as she softened her posture and went to place a kiss on the kind old mans' cheek before she turned towards the stairwell. Climbing up the stairs all she could think about was the tongue lashing her stupid boyfriend was in store for, Artemis Queen was not to be trifled with and Dick forgetting about her in middle of this storm mixed with seeing her favorite butler cleaning so early in the morning wasn't making her any calmer and the former Nightwing needed to be prepared for a trial by fire from her before he thinks he can be the new Batman. Peeling off her mask before she was even in the master bedroom, Artemis opened the door wide about to yell her head off, but that was until she saw Dick fast asleep and she couldn't help but hold back. Letting her face soften into a smile at the look of peace on the love of her life's face, a look that she hadn't seen him wear that often since Bruce died. It also still amazed her how innocent he could still look after all this time in the superhero business. Artemis finally got the soaked leather off her body and stripped down to her underwear, as she slid on the t-shirt Dick left laying out for her. 'Always leaves me the top, he's so thoughtful, but so dumb. I say we should just sleep naked.' the young archer thought to herself as she slipped into the bed snuggling beside Dick, besides she could always kill him in the morning. Laying a kiss on his lips before drifting off to sleep, she whispered in his ear. "Goodnight, my Dark Knight."
Dick had been sleeping soundly, even more so when he felt someone join him later during the night, even in his sleep he knew it was Artemis, he could tell from the feel of her, that was how well he was in tune with her, lucky for him she was his spitfire and not Wallys', Dick wasn't sure what he'd do without her. However Dick didn't stay fast asleep for long, there was a light hitting his eyelids now, a very bright light, much brighter than should be allowed so early. Throwing his arm over his eyes the new Dark Knight groaned and moaned at being interrupted from his state of dreaming, allowing himself enough energy to mumble a complaint.
"Alfred let me sleep, bats are nocturnal after all." Yet Dick wasn't expecting there to be a feminine giggle or the touch of soft lips on the base of his neck. Opening his eyes he came face to face with the love of his life. Dick couldn't quite understand how Artemis could look even more beautiful every time he saw her, but it seemed the archer had never looked more stunning than with her hair even bushier from sleep, chin rested in her hand as she propped herself up on her elbow and a sly smirk on her supple lips. Dicks admiring was cut short as Artemis' other hand made contact with the side of his face. With wide eyes, slack jaw, and a hand covering the reddening cheek Dick found himself flabbergasted, Artemis had hauled off and slapped him.
"Nice going idiot, way to leave your girlfriend out in the rain doing your job. I understand you were worried about Tim, but once we all knew he would be okay you could have at least come out and picked me up in the Batmobile or something after you beat that son of a bitch Todd. Jerk!" Doing everything in his power not to laugh at how cute she was when she was mad Dick simply held her closer, while Artemis looked up at him with a scowl on her face, but while she continued to try and look angry she couldn't help but to curl closer into her loves chest. Realizing she could have it worse than a boyfriend who trusts her enough to do his job, Artemis remembered she could have been stuck with Wally complaining she didn't do his job well enough or saying something stupid about he could do it better than her. Sure she and Wally were good friends now, but god did they still argue. 'Thank God for Richard Grayson.' she thought, letting her scowl turn into a satisfied smile as she laid another kiss to his neck. "I don't know what's worse, you leaving me in the rain or wondering if I should be worried about Alfred being the first person you think about in the morning." All she could think about was the disgusted look on his face and laugh, some moments were absolutely priceless even when you have all the wealth of Wayne Enterprises at your fingertips. Dick wasn't one to be shocked or flabbergasted for long, recovering the gymnast ran his hands through her hair as one stayed at the nape of Artemis' neck while the other traveled to her waist as he brought her closer to himself.
"No worries to be had, you are the only one that I think about before I go to bed at night and when I wake up." Cupping her face with his hand Dick brought her lips to his in a sweet yet passionate kiss, one that he really needed after the events of the previous night. Letting himself relax his muscles just a bit he laid back down, bringing Artemis with him. Soon everything would be different and Dick didn't want to lose the connection they shared because he was Batman now, but he knew things would have to change somehow. Artemis sensed his discomfort and knew he was thinking to hard about something, he always had, it was perhaps his one flaw in her opinion. Remembering their time in Young Justice she could name hundreds of times, and thousands after they officially got together after that fateful Bruce Wayne fundraiser as they formed another new team under Bruces' command, the Outsiders and up to now. The archer knew with the typically sunny acrobat it was best to hit his brooding head on and nip it in the bud before it got to worse, that's how he'd ended up leaving her and Young Justice.
"What's wrong Dick, you can tell me." 'Simple enough question to ask I'm sure he'll answer, but better safe than sorry.' Artemis thought, normally Dick would tell her anyway, but he seemed a lot more closed off lately with some of his personal things, mostly Bruce and the idea of taking over the family business. She knew it was never the path he wanted to take in his career as a hero. Nightwing was his path not Batman, but it had all changed now Bruce was gone and there was no other choice to take over the cowl.
"I'm worried that we'll grow apart now that I'm Batman, Arty. I have a huge responsibility not just to Gotham, but the world as a whole. Nightwing was set to Bludhaven, Gotham, and covert world missions, but Batman is global. Batman is a symbol to crime everywhere that it won't be tolerated and I don't know if I can live up to the standard Bruce set, and if I can I'm worried it'll drive you away from me." To say that Artemis was upset was an understatement, who did Dick think he was to assume she would run away so easily because he had to put on the cape and cowl.
"Hey buddy just so you know I plan to be with you until we die, and just because you're the Dark Knight doesn't mean we are going to be any different." Running her hand over his, Artemis curled into Dick even more with her cheek resting against his. "I've known you since you were a thirteen year old twerp whose name was Robin the Boy Wonder, then he grew up and into the strong and confident Nightwing, and you may have been out of my life for awhile after you took that name I found you again. This is just another change for you and I plan on being here for you full time as you become something else, when you become Batman." Dick just smiled as he felt her move her head under his chin, he really had been stupid when he left her behind all those years ago, she would have been great to have around in Bludhaven in the beginning. This was it, he had to face the fact that he couldn't run from this. There were too many people to stop him this time, Wally and Conner were her on an almost constant basis so no escaping them, Kaldur took out the water route, Donna would use her ability to make him feel bad as his best female friend, and Alfred and Tim would track him down with Artemis leading the charge.
"Alright, no running and no excuses this time around. It's you and me in this together, with Tim and Steph, Damian, Alfred, Babs and Roy, and Cass if I can get her to come back home. We're a family now more than ever, because we need each other more than ever now that Bruce is gone." Standing up from the bed the newly cowled hero looked out the window to the distant horizon of Gotham City, his kingdom now, one that he had inherited from his father, one it was his responsibility to protect. Continuing his survey of the far off cityscape Dick realized something important, Selina Kyle had called the other day to tell him that she was leaving to find herself after the news of Bruces' death. That meant one thing, no more Catwoman, one of the Batfamilys' greatest allies wasn't here anymore. Looking back at the beautiful woman that was now sitting upright on the bed Dick realized something very important, Artemis would look great in a catsuit and goggles. "Say babe, you know Selina left town and there's kind of a hole missing in the family now so if I'm taking on a new persona maybe…"
"Catwoman? You want me to take up the mantle of a slinky, sexy catburgler who was one o the most intense relationships in the Batmans life? You want me to slip into a leather catsuit and wear goggles and crack a whip at criminals, is that right Dick?" Artemis was curious to way this conversation was leading, not that she was upset but that she mostly just liked to see her acrobat sweat. Putting on her best face of shock and outrage, she saw Dick take a small gulp, she knew she had him.
"Well if you don't want to."
"Sounds kinky, I like it. So do we go out tonight on patrol as Batman and Catwoman, or will we wait it out for awhile to get used to the idea?" To say Dick was relieved was an understatement, before he gave her anymore time to make him sweat he took hold of her waist and pulled her onto the bed with him.
"Arty, you can be my Catwoman tonight and all you want after that, but first let's see what you look like with nothing on before we put the leather one-piece on you." Not that he didn't already know about her body, he knew extensively what Artemis looked like naked, but it never hurt to do some more research and it didn't hurt that he wasn't very good at memorization. It just meant it was as amazing every time as the first time. The rest of the day there was nothing but moans and hushed conversation coming from the master bedroom. Later during the black of the Gotham City night there were two figures perched on the top of Wayne Enterprises, a new Dark Knight and a new femme fatale in a cat suit, this one with a long bushy blonde ponytail, both looking for the scum of Gotham to clean up.