The Darkest Day
A/N: I wrote this as a birthday gift for my very close friend Viet Devil.
WARNING: this is an Elseworlds story.
The dark was only illuminated by the beating of the urban drums.
Dick Grayson could see the world in motion through the small holes in his mask and the wind on his side blowing his yellow cape back behind him. Even though his body was still small, he knew more than most people could even discover. He shared the fate that sometimes, he believed, with all the other children that were circling alone in fear of the unknown.
There will always be two kinds of darkness in the world. But he knew that he was part of that darkness, to cancel out that bad darkness with some good.
Sitting on the ledge of a towering building, he looked down at the cars and people that lurked in the darkness, which projected their deepest and most desperate secrets and intentions in the open. He felt the excitement, watching them that something would happen at any moment.
Suddenly, he heard a thump and a crash behind him, he turned suddenly, as he saw the very face of God emerge towards him in the darkness. A god he called Batman.
Batman stood on the edge of the building, looking out to the streets, but he wasn't just looking. After all the time he knew him, he knew it was a deeper process. Examining every person passing, every truck, every car, every moment he could analyze. Like a tree in the wind, only his cape moved, as the wind blew, like a leaf would. Still and immoveable, it was just the same.
Suddenly, he could see Batman's eyes divert like a cat, quickly and intense, towards the other side of the street. Dick looked down to the street, where a man was rushing through the normally calm crowd. He looked, Batman's eyes were looking straight towards him, and he knew it was time.
He looked after Batman, as he leaped from the building top, floating down to the streets, he jumped after him, the breeze hit his face, the separation from that firm base left him weary, he could feel his body shaking until finally his feet hit the ground running.
Rushing through the crowd, feeling the pressure with each step, he rushed after his mentor, tracking left and rushing right, pushing people away, one, two, three, a man, a woman, rushing over and under, he pressed his way through.
His environment darkened, as he turned into a dark alley, following Batman. Dick held back, his shoulders forward, his hands flat, held out to each side, as slowly, he saw Batman's fist slide into the face of a rugged man dressed in full black. Fighting darkness with darkness, Dick looked down to the man's feet, sliding his leg underneath the man, the man fell down to the darkness of unconsciousness on the wet, paved street.
He could now feel the pounding, the beating of the urban drums, as the rain fell desperately to the polluted city, then to the streets below. Moving swiftly that heart pounding grew louder and louder in the machinery of his mind, his suit was soaked in the sorrowful rain.
Suddenly, Dick was ravaged by glowing green eyes, falling to the ground, he shuddered. The range of images he saw with his mind was blurred, as he pushed himself off the ground to standing. He could barely see anything, as he barely balanced. Like a black smudge on his eye-lenses, moving rapidly, he could see his mentor, only differentiating him from his aggressor, black to green, black to green- to black to green and purple. He heard a struggle, but he could not focus his eyes to crystal clarity like they had been. He pushed forward, trying to see, only to be pushed back to the hard, wet ground.
Suddenly, as he sat on the ground, his reality was shifting, wobbling, he brought himself to standing, colors phasing, in and out- and then suddenly- a long maniacal laugh broke the silence. Green eyes merged towards him, and he realized a firm hand around his neck, he could see a distorted picture of insanity- a man with a bleach white face, eyes green and glowing, a purple shirt and a green vest, and a big red smile. All Dick could hear was the piercing laughing that overwhelmed everything else- an abnormal sound to hear.
"See here, Bat boy?" the man smiled his big red smile, "He's in the ropes!"
His laugh went on and on. Dick could feel his eyes falling back into his head, trying to see anything, trying to say anything. His mouth fell wide open, he couldn't find any air. Something was wrong.
He heard a growl from the darkness, arms reaching out, and pulling him away from the laughter. A black shadow filled in his sight, a black flag waving in the space, and he saw salvation.
As he saw through that black flag, as he was risen up from the streets, and up the side of the illuminated building, the man he saw once was no more. All he could small flat items falling from the skies. It wasn't rain, no, not this time. All he saw was small white cards falling, and as his vision became clearer and clearer, he saw the pictures on these. He remembered it well from his early childhood in the flying circus. It was the symbol of the joker.
Falling from the sky, a small child cries out for his mother.
Unsympathetically, Bruce Wayne looks out the window, he is calm, but his mind is throbbing. His hands behind his back, he turns to his guests. They were all beautiful; they were pampered, pretty, just and unjust alike, but over everything else- they were shallow and numb to reality. He projected his smile out to them, but he never meant it.
"How have you been?" Bruce smiled at an elderly man, who Bruce knew was rich as he was stupid. The elderly man smiled, nodded, and moved on.
Bruce suddenly, as he turned away from everyone, his face grew grim and intense, headed for the doors.
Alfred, His butler, a skinny Englishman with a residing hairline, caught his eye in the moments before he left. He watched Bruce leave, his face was saddened with concern and curiosity, holding a silver platter with glasses full of alcoholic drinks. As the glass doors closed, Bruce had done what he had expected him to do. He knew who Bruce Wayne really was. But everyone else only knew who he pretended to be.
Bruce rushed down the stairs, which twisted down under the famous Wayne Mansion. They were moist and the air was humid. As he moved swiftly down, further and further, he stripped off his suit jacket, unbuttoning his white shirt, and slinging off his tie.
Standing on the edge, he could see the entire city. Dark urban drums came from his heart, louder and louder each night- for all the right reasons. He knew it had to be true.
He diverted his eyes down to the streets, those same cries of a child- he knew, he recognized. Leaping from the edge of darkness, falling through the diversions of that small blanket of light, he carried that with him, as he landed, rushing towards the screams of a little boy. Violently, he pushed and ravaged his way through the crowd. His eyes contacted with the boy's face, and the boy saw him. But he didn't see him at all for his appearance, not for what people feared. His teeth gritting, he jabbed the obese thug with his elbow, catching the boy as he floated, for not even a second, in the air.
Dick looked up at his mentor.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Bruce yelled, pacing back and forth, in a rage.
"I knew who that was." He explained, "I was trying-"
Bruce stopped walking, and looked at his side-kick.
"That man is dangerous." Bruce said, firmly, "He is something you don't understand. He isn't a thug on the street, he isn't a common criminal."
Dick frowned, upset.
"He almost killed you." Bruce said, "I won't make that mistake twice. You're suspended from your duty as Robin."
Dick didn't have time to say another word, he just watched Bruce disappear up the stairs to the mansion. He felt the frustration build up inside him; his mind was throbbing- trying to understand something he didn't have any idea about, he sulked.
Arkham Asylum was quiet, all but the laughter of one man- a pasty man sitting in the corner of his padded cell, wearing a straightjacket.
"I'll get you." He laughed manically, "I'll get your boy!" he shouted.
Suddenly, it grew quiet in his thoughts, quiet in his cell. A deeply disturbing giant red smile grew slowly across his face.
Footsteps were unusual for this time of night for Alfred Pennyworth. He didn't know about Master Bruce, but he needed sleep every once and a while. He turned his gaze to the west, slowly, and then he jerked backwards, as a rock flew through the giant glass window by the front doors.
He turned, and forcefully, he fell to the ground, into the pile of sharp glass. A pair of black shoes walked by Alfred- crunching the glass harshly.
"OHH, BRUCE-IE!" a voice's laugh pierced through the walls of the Wayne Mansion.
A red smile grew big, and machine gun shots were heard, and now shown in the ceiling.
"Come out, come out wherever you are…" his voice grew to whispers, smiling and laughing, "OH COME OUT AND PLAY BIG BOY!" his voice boomed in the mansion.
Bruce Wayne's eyes were serious and grim, as he walked down, seeing his intruder in his view.
"Joker, get out of my house." Bruce said, not with any hint of hostility in his voice.
The Joker stood still, just smiling devilishly.
"Not today, Bruce-ie." He said, "Today I've come for my prize."
Bruce stood on the bottom step, slowly turning his head up to the top of the stairs, were he saw small Dick Grayson.
"No." Bruce turned back to the Joker, "You- are gonna leave right now."
The Joker laughed, as he raised his gun to Bruce.
"I'm not going anywhere." The Joker smiled, "I like it here!" He franticly shot bullets to the ceiling above.
Bruce looked directly at Dick, who looked fearfully back at him.
"Run." Bruce said, "Dick, RUN!"
Bruce turned his head to back to the lunatic that was in his house, who was standing still- just smiling.
"He's leaving, Joker." Bruce mocked him, "You won't be able to catch him."
The Joker let out a short chuckle.
"And then your reputation will be gone, and you'll shroud into hiding." Bruce finished.
The Joker's smile got bigger, his wrinkled face stretched beyond repair.
"When he's gone, it will just be me and you." The Joker explained, "Without you, there could be no you. We complete each other."
"You're a damn lunatic." He said, "Now get out of my house."
Bruce turned, and walked back upstairs. The Joker titled his head slightly, turning back to the door.
Rain fell down from the sky, as the orange, red, and pink glowing lights peaked over the horizon. Dick stood alone in the rain, as it fell down on his short black hair. The tall man stood before him, his red smile dipped in the blood of the innocent, his white pasty face pale with the numbness of violence he unleashed. His black shoes soaked in water, his machine gun lying silently on the ground, his purple shirt and green vest knew no shame, his hands rugged and masculine, reaching out to the young boy.
Dick couldn't move, as he looked into the insane green eyes of this man, silent, the man wrapped his hands around the boy's neck, tightly. He opened his mouth, trying to breathe, trying to scream trying to yell, reaching out for that security of that black flag and embrace, he couldn't find it. Only the sound of piercing laughter, residing now in the barriers of his mind, his thoughts, he couldn't escape the insanity.
Dick fell to his knees, gasping for air, he looked down at the puddles of dirty water all around him- he couldn't get his air back. His head fell backwards, then his whole body, stomach up on the ground, coughing up blood, one time, two, three, four…
Bruce rushed out of the house, his eyes franticly looking, and then suddenly settling on the young boy in his front driveway. Bruce's eyes turned hateful, as he looked at the Joker, who only stood there, his teeth gritting as he continued to kick the boy, with a smile on his face.
Bruce rushed over to Dick, who was motionless on the ground.
The Joker looked down at Bruce, as he turned over the small body, Dick's eyes were wide open, looking at Bruce, and his face was covered in the sins of his own blood. The Joker did nothing but smile widely, grimly, his eyes silently mocking the words Bruce had spoken before.
The Joker threw his elbow towards Bruce's body, Bruce falling to the ground. He desperately crawled for the weapon he spotted out of the corner of his eye. Laughter rung out softly at first, but then more and more violently into the open, now morning air. Feeling the water sink in, his clothes growing damp, he felt the gun, and the trigger around his fingers. Suddenly, there was a piercing sting in the middle of his back, and then there was nothing, a tingling numbing feeling, breathing harder, a metallic taste in his mouth, as he could feel a slow flow of blood trickle out into the puddle of water beneath him.
The maniacal man looked down at the short dagger that was extending from Bruce's back; a smile emerged over his face again, slowly chuckling louder and louder. He yanked his dagger back.
"I win." The Joker said, in-between laughs.
Bruce gritted his teeth, trying to force his legs across the ground. They weren't moving.
"Bruce-ie." The Joker squatted down to his level, whispering in his ear, "I got my prize."
Bruce reached out to him, only feeling the cold ground. The light was fading.
"Master Dick." Alfred walked in a suit behind him, as Dick sat silently in thought in a chair at the huge computer screen, "Where will Batman go from here?"
Dick didn't turn to face the butler and friend; he didn't show an inch of emotion in his face.
"Batman didn't die today." Dick said, "Bruce Wayne died, that's what the world must know."
Alfred's eyes grew wide.
"But sir-" Alfred protested.
Dick threw his fist on the keyboard, angrily.
"I can't let that maniac kill every inch of hope Gotham has left!" he yelled, "He will pay for Bruce's death."
He looked up at the screen.
"He won't get away with it this time." Dick said, "Because this time it was different, this time he went too far."
Alfred tilted his head upwards, looking at his young master.
On the darkest day, villainy created a vengeful God. A vengeful God known to the world as Batman.