Batman hovered around the spot like well, a giant bat. Most of what he did made him resemble a giant bat. There was a chalk drawing to look at, bullets, blood, other things papering the ground and a witness who had seen everything, but Batman kept returning to this one spot.
I perched on a trash bin just above the spot, about level with him, watching him work. "This doesn't make any sense", he muttered softly to himself.
"What doesn't boss?" I asked. He ignored me. I gave a sigh. What I really wanted to do was go around and investigate myself, maybe do some playing detective for a bit, but I stuck close to Batman. The hostile looks the police were giving me convinced me that this course of action would be the best.
Batman had warned me that the police might resent my presence. Another vigilante, they would say. Some of them even resented Batman's presence. Others, he said, would just be mad that I was a kid. Even now I got several disgruntled glances and some snide side comments about a kid on the crime scene messing up the evidence.
I wanted to shout that I was trying not to, that I was not crouching on a trashcan because I liked the smell, but I stayed quiet. No one really liked to interrupt Batman when he was thinking.
Batman suddenly straightened up and strode purposefully over to the commissioner. I back flipped down and hopped after him. "Commissioner", he said, "I'm going to try and pick up a lead I think I may have found." The commissioner nodded and then glanced down at me. I wished they wouldn't all stare at me. Here I was, minding my own business, trying to act older, and they had to keep making me feel uncomfortable.
Batman noticed his glance and without another word, swept away. The commissioner stared at me for a moment, almost as if he wanted to say something. "Robin!"
"Coming boss", I called, and bounced after him. "You gona tell me what's up?" I asked, coming up next to him. Batman again ignored me. I heaved another sigh. At least he didn't say no. When he ignored me, I usually could expect to be informed of whatever it was later.
I hopped in the car next to him and off we drove. I was surprised at how long it actually took us to get to our destination, mostly because it didn't take very long at all. "Why didn't we just swing across the city boss?" I asked. He didn't reply, again. I was really getting annoyed at how close mouthed he was on patrol.
I had been with him on patrol only a few times now since he had actually started liking me and had sort of expected he would treat me the same way he treated me at home. That was not to be the case however, which I should have expected. Sometimes, I think Batman has the dual personality disease. It would make sense I suppose.
We hopped out of the car and I followed him quickly to where we were going. "Whoever killed that man has a hideout here", Batman said suddenly, breaking the silence. I was surprised that he had answered my question this early in the night. Sometimes, he made me wait hours for the answer to a question. He would answer and leave me trying to remember what I had asked in the first place. I wondered if maybe he was trying to teach me patience.
Batman brought us over the side of one of the buildings in the area where we were. It was a frightening sort of area and I was getting bad vibes about the place. It was dank and dirty and it smelt of must, more then usual of Gotham though because all of Gotham is sort of like that to a certain extent.
The building was dilapidated and old. It might have been a thriving store at one time, but now it was just creepy and sent shivers down my spine. I wondered who would want to live there. I wrinkled my nose. "We going in there boss?" I asked. He nodded, but instead of bringing us up to the door, he brought us around to the wall. Then, he shot a cable up. "We climbing boss?" I asked.
"Yes", he said, and he swung me onto his back. I wasn't quite strong enough to scale a whole building on my own, though I was working on it. We got to the top I hopped off him and we walked over to a window on the roof. Looking down, I could see several men with guns walking around. I knew if there were men with guns, there must be a boss.
I looked up at Batman questioningly, wondering if he already knew whom the boss was. I couldn't read his face though so I continued watching. "It must be Thorne", Batman said quietly to no one in particular. I nodded, pretending like I understood his logic.
"Alright", Batman said, "we jump in on three. "One." I quivered in place, getting excited and ready to leap. "Two", he whispered, and I tensed my muscles. He was about to say three when we saw a flash of green and a pale white-faced man jump down from a box above the thugs with guns.
"Shit", Batman cursed, grabbing me by my collar and hauling me back. He hadn't quite figured out that one wasn't supposed to cuss in front of nine year olds, but hey, he was only twenty. There were a lot of things he hadn't figured out.
"What is it boss?" I asked questioningly, rubbing my throat after he had released me.
"It can't be him", Batman said quietly to himself, "it has to be Thorne, this just isn't his style."
"Who?" I asked.
"The Joker", he replied, "he's down there, but that doesn't make any sense." I nodded, pretending that it didn't make sense to me either, which was easy because nothing had made sense to me tonight. Batman looked around for a moment as if contemplating his options. "Alright", he said, turning to face me, "you need to stay here."
"Aww", I whined, "but I wanna help you fight."
"No", Batman said to me, "I don't want you anywhere near that man, do you understand, he's too dangerous. Please Robin, please stay here." I could see he was desperate to keep me away now and decided that whatever his reasons were for not wanting me in that battle, they must be good.
"Alright", I said.
"Go over there behind that air conditioning unit", he said. I went obediently over. He put a hand across my shoulders, pushing them down until I was in a crouching position with my belly almost scraping the ground, like a cat stalking. "Now stay there", he commanded, emphasizing the words as much as he could. I nodded. "I'll call if I need you", he said and down he swung. I heard the crash of glass the rounds of ammo going off.
I closed my eyes tightly, willing my brain to focus on anything other then those bullets ripping through him. But, I knew he was good and that he could take care of himself. He was smart too. He must have really not wanted me in that battle. I knew he would probably never call me down to help him, but if I was close enough to here him if he did, I would be less likely to disobey him and go in after him with worry of not knowing what had happened to him.
I listened to the grunts of the men and the hits for a few moments and then a particularly large grunt followed swiftly by silence. I waited for him to summon me down to help him tie up the men, but got nothing. I strained my ears for close to a minute and a half of that ominous silence and still nothing.
Then, though I thought perhaps this might be a test to see how well I followed orders, I crept to the edge of the building and peered down through the broken glass. What I saw almost made me gasp. There was Batman on his knees, in front of the Joker, blood trickling from his slightly parted jaws.
His head drooped and he spat up some more blood while a shudder went through his entire being. I was so wide eyed with terror, I was frozen in place. Then, the Joker started to laugh, a terrifying laugh that would give me nightmares for days afterwards. "I finally bested the Bat", he said, "I finally got him." He started to dance around Batman, tugging at his clothes and pulling on him. Then, he kicked him.
Rather then taking the kick like I had seen him do so many times, he simply toppled to one side. He tried to pick himself up, but the Joker again kicked him, causing him to hiss sharply in pain. I couldn't stop the flow of tears coming from my eyes at seeing him whom I loved so much being beaten by that horrible white-faced man.
"Well Batman", the Joker droned, suddenly sounding serious, "I suppose you're interested in why you thought it was old Thorne that pulled that murder and not little me. Well, its because I wanted you to think that of course, to see if you would play my little game. But you didn't." At this point, he suddenly looked savage, all of the wicked playfulness gone from him, all of the twittering laughter dead.
"I knew you would never bring the birdie you have running around with you to come visit his dear old uncle Joker but then I thought to myself, perhaps if he thought it was Thorne. So, I did old Rupert a favor and took out someone he had been holding a grudge against for a long time, hoping you would snap up the bait and take your little brat with you on a wild goose chase. But, you didn't because the brat's not here. Where is he, damn you?"
He grabbed Batman's head in one gruesome white hand and roughly lifted it to face his own angled white one. His face reminded me of a fox's. It was kind of arrow shaped and it had that sly, wicked look about it. Batman returned the Joker's gaze coldly and more blood trickled out of his mouth.
The Joker was not amused and slammed Batman's head to the ground. "It was supposed to be just you and me", he screamed suddenly, "just to two of us playing this never ending little game of ours. But, you brought in another player and that's not fair. Two to one is just not fair. But, if I get rid of one of the players on the bat team, there'll only be one left. Only one."
He turned to Batman again, giggling violently. "Just two again, just two." He danced around Batman again, singing to himself in a creaking voice like wind through dead branches. Then, he got up real close to Batman and hissed into his ear so I could just barely hear, "If I can't bench the boy, it'll just have to be you that gets the red card."
"Kill him", the Joker said with a sudden sharp, serious quality to his voice, "and make it messy." He turned around to walk away as one of the thugs lifted a machete and lined it with the back of Batman's neck. I felt my blood freeze in sheer horror and just as it was coming down, without thinking, I screamed.
"Daddy!" Everyone looked up to see me there on the roof, including Batman, whose face darkened with a look of anguish at the sight of me. But, an instant later, I wasn't there. I jumped down from the roof and landed lightly next to Batman. I threw my arms around his neck.
I knew instantly it had been the wrong thing to do. I should have taken out the henchmen before they knew I was there, I shouldn't have screamed, but I hadn't been thinking. All that had gone through my mind was the terror that I was about to lose another parent.
I faced the Joker, arms still around Batman, trying my best to protect him. "Robin", he said in a gruff, rasping voice (though this time I could tell it wasn't an act) "go, get out of here"
"No", I said, tears streaming down my cheeks, "I'm not gona leave you."
"Robin", he said urgently, "you need to go. Don't worry about me, leave this place quickly."
"No", I said again, holding him tightly.
"Robin please." he pleaded, "You're in a lot of danger here. I can't watch you die Robin go now."
"No", I said. I had never disobeyed a direct order of his, but I knew if I left, he would be slaughtered and I couldn't let that happen. I might be all that was standing between him and death, not that I was very much protection at all.
"Aww", the Joker crooned, "I guess you did fall for my little trick. And here he is, standing between the Joker and his daddy. I didn't know you spawned any children Batman. You didn't seem the type. Who's his mother?"
Batman glared at the Joker and I simply stayed where I was, silent and trembling with fear. Batman tried to pick himself up again, I suppose to shield me with his own body, but the Joker kicked him down. "Batman!" I yelped. Batman crashed to the ground again with a grunt.
I tried to pull him up, but I was too little and he was too beaten. I ended up his head on my lap. I was crying more now. I was so scared and I hated seeing Batman so weak. My tears trickled down and hit him on his cheeks and chin. His breath was harsh and labored now and every time he inhaled, a shudder went through his broken form.
"What", the Joker asked in a high, mocking voice, "No more daddy? A slip of the tongue perhaps. I wonder whelp, does Batman really care about you. It seems to me you care rather deeply for him, but does he care at all for you? Lets find out." And with that, he grabbed me by the collar, hauling me upward.
"Stop it", I screamed, "leave me alone." Upon hearing my terrified cries, Batman roused. His slowly pulled himself up until he was propped on his elbows. He was trembling and his voice held a steely quality, the kind someone would get when filled with helpless rage.
"Put him down Joker, its me you want."
"Ohh but Batman", Joker said, "it would be so much more fun for you to watch me peel the skin from your little baby's bones. That'll tell us if you really care about him. We'll see if we can invoke some kind of emotion from the emotionless dark knight. What do you say brat, you wanna see how much Batman cares about his little baby? Are you Batman's little baby, brat?" He put his foxy face an inch from mine, sneering into it. I didn't reply, I just sobbed with fear.
"Say it Batman", Joker said, turning his attention to Batman now, "tell me he's your little baby and maybe I'll let him go. I want to hear Batman say it, that Robin's his baby. Say it."
"Robin's my baby", Batman said through teeth clinched with rage.
"Louder", Joker said laughingly, "scream to the world how much he means to you."
"Robin's my baby", Batman said loudly, angrily, "Now let him go free."
"Hmm", the Joker said, "no, I don't think so, I don't think I've had enough fun with you two yet." I looked at Batman pleadingly, willing him to get up and save me and himself. He again tried to rise, but Joker didn't even need to kick him this time. Without the strength to gain his feet, he toppled to the ground.
The Joker laughed wickedly. "You should have known Batman, when you brought the boy out to play with all us crazies, he would have run into me one of these days. Ohh, the Riddler wouldn't have had the guts to torture a kid, much less kill one, the penguin neither. Croc wouldn't have tortured him, but he would have eaten him. Lets see, Hatter wouldn't have killed him and neither would Clayface. No, it was just your luck that you had to run into me."
Batman lay still now. He wasn't quite unconscious, but he couldn't move either. "You failed Batsy," the Joker said, whispering into Batman's ear. "You couldn't keep the brat safe and now, it'll just be the two of us again, all alone, fighting our battle."
Then, something flashed through Batman's eyes that I had never seen before, despair. He felt he had failed too. Strangely though, that didn't fill me with desolation as well. It filled me with rage. Batman never failed, not ever.
Without really thinking, I twisted out of the Joker's grasp and leapt upward. "Get away from him", I screamed, and leapt at the first henchman. They all opened fire, but I moved quickly. I used every ounce of my training and though a few of the bullets still nicked me, I didn't notice. I was too busy attacking to notice.
Then, the police flooded in the doors. At first, the Joker had been laughing happily from a corner of the room, pleased that he could take me down slowly. Now however, with the police involved, he didn't like the odds. Collecting his boys, he retreated, the police in his wake. Soon, I was left alone on the ground, panting at the energy I had used.
I picked myself up slowly and looked around the room. Most of the policemen were gone now, the only ones left being Detective Bullock and the Commissioner. Batman was gradually trying to pick himself up. Gordon, upon seeing Batman struggling, rushed over to help. Bullock stayed where he was, staring daggers at me. I didn't care though. I rushed over to Batman. "Are you ok?" I asked. Batman nodded to me and grunted a thank you to Gordon.
"No problem", Gordon said, "do you need help getting somewhere?"
"No", Batman replied.
"Gordon", Bullock said sharply, "you're aiding a vigilante."
"Ohh, be quiet Bullock", Gordon snapped, "can't you see how injured he is?"
"Can you help me get to my car?" Batman asked reluctantly. I knew he hated asking for assistance from anyone, but he needed it now. Of course Batman, Gordon said. "Robin", Batman called to me gruffly. I immediately came to his side. Gordon helped Batman hobble out the door. I grasped Batman's hand, holding on tightly to it.
"You're a pretty good fighter Robin", Gordon said. I nodded my thanks to him, but I felt no pride. I was still too shocked. Batman pressed a button on his belt and leaned heavily against Gordon. "Are you sure you're alright?" Gordon asked, "I could get you to a doctor I trusted. I'd make sure they kept your mask on."
"I'm fine", Batman said, "I'm ok." The car came a few moments later and stopped in front of us. Gordon helped Batman sit down before the doors closed and I hopped in. "Cave", Batman said wearily, and the car sped off in the direction of home. Batman leaned back with an enormous sigh and pulled off his mask.
"You did well Robin", he said softly, "very well." Any other day, I would have glowed with pride and bounced with barely controlled excitement, but today I was quiet. I was still frightened, but of something completely different this time.
I was thinking about what I had called him. I had called him daddy. Was he angry that I had called him that, would he expect me to call him that from now one? Would this change anything between us? But, foremost on my mind was what would my own father think? Would he be angry that I now loved someone else like a father?
When we got back, Alfred helped Bruce into bed and cleaned him up, all the while chiding him about being careless with both himself and me. After cleaning a few bullet wounds of mine, he sent me up to bed.
I was exhausted, but lying in bed, I couldn't fall asleep. I just kept tossing and turning, wondering about Bruce and my father. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.
Wondering if Bruce was asleep yet, I crept to his room. His lights were still on and I could see him inside, propped heavily against the backboard of his bed, working. I pushed open the door and peered at him. He looked up at me.
"Dick", he asked, "what's wrong?" He looked so exhausted, I was tempted to go back to bed, but I knew he wasn't going to sleep anytime soon anyway so I walked up to him.
"Are you angry with me?" I asked.
"For what", he replied blankly.
"For me calling you daddy", I murmured.
"No", he said softly. Then, an awkward silence fell between us like a veil. I gazed down at my toes. "Do you want to call me daddy?" he asked. I looked at him. "You can if you'd like."
"Do you want me to?" I asked. He shrugged.
"It doesn't really matter to me."
"Do you think my dad would be angry, my real dad I mean, do you think he'd be mad that I called you daddy?" Bruce looked thoughtful for a moment.
"I'm not sure", he said. "I didn't know my parents for very long either if you remember, I don't pretend to have a great deal of knowledge about parents. I don't think so though."
"But", I said, "I love you like I loved my dad. Do you think dad would be mad about that? Sometimes I feel bad about loving you because its like I'm replacing him."
"Well", said Bruce, "I don't think its so much that you're replacing him as you are just loving someone else. I think you have enough love for us all. like you know, loving a dog or something and also loving your, Ohh I don't know, guinea pig I guess."
"Hmm", I said to myself. I thought about what he had said. "I guess you're right", I replied after a few minutes, "I don't think he'd be mad." I climbed up on the bed and sat next to him, looking at him happily. He smiled back and me and lifted an arm to put it around my shoulders. I snuggled into him.
"You have to be the guinea pig though", I murmured. He laughed and gave me a cuddle. "I think though", I said slowly, "I might just keep calling you Bruce. Not because I don't love you, but, you know, just because."
"I understand", Bruce said, "it's all right. You only had one father and unfortunately, I'm a rather poor stand in for one."
"No", I retorted, "You're perfect." I put my arms around him as far as I could, which wasn't very far because he was so big. He smiled and stroked my hair gently with one bandaged hand.
"Am I your baby?" I asked softly, though more contented then before.
"Hmm", he said, "yes, I suppose you are, although you're not much of a baby. You're pretty big."
"Would you want me as a son?" I asked.
"Yes", he said without hesitation, "I would be so proud to have you as my son. I was really proud of you tonight too. You did very well. You saved my life you know."
"I did?" I asked. He nodded.
"The Joker would have killed me if you hadn't intervened."
"The Joker's scary", said, giving a shudder.
"Yes he is", Bruce said, pulling me closer, "but you certainly showed him what you're made of tonight. He'll think twice before taking on my little colorful tornado again." I grinned at him. "I think we showed the Commissioner too", Bruce continued. "He seemed pretty impressed." I smiled sleepily and closed my eyes, leaning up against him. "You know, if you fall asleep here, I'm taking you back to your bed when I'm done working."
"Ok", I said wearily, "I'm exhausted"
"Me too", Bruce said, rubbing my back, "me too." Then, I fell asleep.
I'm sorry this ending is so cliché but you know, what're you gona do. This is my first time writing the Joker too if I'm not mistaken, so tell me how I did.