I throw thanks and bat-shaped cookies, made by Alfred, in the way of you nine people that reviewed. Heck, I'll even give the other people who have reviewed before, but did not review the last chapter, a cookie because I so happy about how nice you guys have been. Sadly, I do believe that this is the last chapter of this greatly loved story...But, I shall return shortly after the completion of this story to bring you all more Batman fanfics! So look out for my name!
Disclaimer: Does my pen name read Bob Kane or does it say Agent Moonlight? ...There's your answer...
"Damian!" Dick called out to Damian, who was already in his room while Dick was still just emerging from the cave. Dick resisted the urge to flinch when he heard Damian's bedroom door slam so hard, Dick was almost completely sure that it would be in pieces by the time he made it to Damian's room.
"Stay out of my room, Grayson!" Damian spoke the last word with venom, as Dick placed a hand on the door knob that would lead to Damian's bedroom. Dick was only half surprised when he realized that it was open, though he was sure Damian only left it open due to the fact that no mere lock would keep Dick out of his brother's room.
"Damian, you know he didn't mean it like that!" Dick immediately tried to argue with Damian as he stepped inside the room, only to face Damian glaring daggers at him.
"Of course you would think that since you are his favorite!" Damian shouted back, breathing harshly in a currently rising anger.
"I am not his favorite; he thinks of all equally!" Dick replied, with the disheartening feeling that he was not only lying to Damian, but he was in denial himself. Dick could only hope that he was wrong and that Bruce had another intention than what it seemed.
"He said so himself! He said he choose you!" Damian contradicted, his anger at it's very peak along with his hidden agony that came from how Bruce would pick Dick over him in a heartbeat.
The only thing worst would be if he had chosen Tim over me! Damian stormed to himself, within the confines of his mind.
"Damian, you're wrong. Bruce doesn't like one of us better than the other. I know Bruce; he would never do something like that to his own sons." Dick whispered, attempting to get something through to Damian, who seemed so sure about who their dad favored.
"Then explain to me why he chose to assure that you would live over me!" Damian challenged, his hands curled so tightly at his sides, that Damian wouldn't have been surprised to find nail markings on his hands if he checked.
"That's because he was just trying to be logical! Bruce probably knew that I had less of a chance of surviving since the Joker has been attempting to kill me much longer than he's even known you. He knew that you had more of a chance of surviving than I did and to give us both a fair chance, Bruce chose to assure that I would live." Dick concluded, honestly hoping that was true and he actually sort of believed himself when the words spilled out.
"...You're lying!" Damian shouted, giving Dick no chance to react as his foot connected with Dick's face. This caught Dick off guard and Dick was immediately sent tumbling to the ground.
"Damian-" Dick didn't get a chance to finish before a fist was directed his way. This time Dick saw it coming and he easily dodged it by moving to the side.
"I am telling the truth, Damian. Think about it!" Dick shouted, only to receive a warning growl in response as Damian attempted to attack him again. Dick really didn't want to fight his own brother so he decided to remain on the defense as the fist began soaring towards him.
"Shut up!" Damian shouted, when his fist was suddenly caught by Dick, who as gently as he could, pushed Damian back with his own momentum. Damian quickly got back to his feet only to suddenly be caught in Dick's firm grasp.
"Get the hell off of me!" Damian shouted, struggling violently in the hold which was loosened just a tiny bit in reply. It didn't take long for Damian to figure out that Dick was hugging him and that only caused Damian to fight back even more.
"I'm not letting you go, Damian. Not until you listen." Dick calmly responded, on his knees so he was face to face with the still squirming Damian.
"I don't want to hear any more lies, Grayson!" Damian shouted his strength not waning as he attempted to escape the hug. Dick though, refused to let go and with a soft, but sure hold, he continued to hug his brother.
"Damian, honestly ask yourself. What seems more like something Bruce would do? Bruce actually getting emotional from something and picking out his "favorite" son or Bruce using his head and finding a way to save both of his children?" Dick questioned, glad to feel that Damian had stopped his struggling for the moment.
"My Father would use his head." Damian replied still unsure sounding and Dick loosened his grip just a tad bit more.
"That's right, Damian. Bruce cares about us equally; the same goes for Tim and even Jason." Dick replied, stroking Damian's head in a calming manner with one of his hands, while holding on to Damian with the other arm.
"...I believe you, Grayson...but I want to hear my Father say it, with his own words." Damian replied and Dick let him out of his hold. Dick then got back up to his feet, knowing Damian wouldn't run away.
"Then let's go talk to him." Dick replied, as he let Damian take the lead towards the entrance of the cave.
Batman walked up the stair case leading to the highest floor in the entire building and mentally he steeled himself for what was going to happen next. Batman's mind was focused solely on every crime the Joker had ever committed, especially the ones that affected him, causing Batman's teeth to clench tightly as he approached his destination. Batman was broken out of his hate filled thoughts when he identified the sound of harsh sobbing, obviously from children and the laughter that could only belong to one madman.
"Joker." Batman whispered to himself, with rage filled adrenaline running through his entire body as he strode through the hallway on the last floor. It was easy to recognize which room they were in since the silence made all sounds louder than they really were. Batman didn't even have to open the door for the minute he approached, it automatically creaked open.
"Gosh, you're slow these days. Guess your age really is getting to you. Of course, it's hard to tell how old you are with that cowl on all the time." The Joker taunted standing at the back of the room. He was next to the two girls Katy and Suzan, who were sitting on the ground, with a bomb strapped to them and Batman realized that they were identical twins.
"Let them go, Joker." Batman ordered, even though he knew that there was very low chance that the Joker would actually listen. Batman's prediction came true when the Joker merely burst into a fit of laughter, seeing a joke that only he could understand at such a tense moment.
"I go through all the trouble of taking over an entire orphanage and you really expect me to give up that easily? No, I think I'd rather have a little fun first before you lock back in one of those padded cells at Arkham. Though the padding is very comfy." The Joker mused, while Batman let out a low warning growl as his anger increased.
"You're wrong, Joker. Since the last time I checked, dead bodies were sent to graves not asylums." The Batman threatened, mildly surprised by what he just said, though he didn't show a trace of the shock on his face. The Joker didn't feel any fear from the statement, only amusement, which was shown by the way his grin just grew wider at the response.
"I'm guessing you're still a bit sore over our last encounter. So, how are my favorite children of the bat doing? Have you finally told them how you love one more than the other? Or even better, you didn't have the courage to tell them and you've been wallowing in self-pity for the past two days...How pathetic." The Joker sneered at the end, beginning to laugh insanely as Batman's eyes narrowed down and his vision turned red.
Batman barely paid any notice to the fact that the two whimpering twins were still in danger and Batman was so blinded by his inner demons that he felt no worry at the fact that the bombs had a timer. Instead, Batman's mind was filled with the flashbacks of all the agony the Joker had put him through a few nights ago and Batman could no longer hold back as his fist flew straight for the Joker. The Joker's laughter was cut off when Batman hit the Joker right in the stomach, causing the Joker to collapse to the ground.
"I wasn't kidding about earlier, Joker. You may think the world is just some game for your own private entertainment, but I doubt even you would find death funny." Batman spoke in a low growl, holding the still recovering Joker off of the ground before throwing him into the wall behind him. The Joker, now regaining his voice, just continued to laugh even though he knew Batman was serious.
"Who knows? I've never been dead before so I can't say if I would find my own death funny. Though I have sent a lot of people to their death and that's always been hilarious. Hm, how about we ask that one Robin I killed a few years ago, I bet he knows the answer." The Joker cackled and Batman quickly approached him, wearing the bat glare full force. The Joker was still laughing, not even bothering to get up, when Batman rammed his fist against the Joker's jaw with such force that the Joker went through the wall he had been next to.
"There's not going to be any need to ask anyone if their death was funny, Joker...because you're about to get an answer." Batman growled, walking through the hole the Joker had unwillingly created in the wall only to have his vision obscured by a dust cloud, which was caused by the wall chunk that feel apart. Batman could already feel the Joker's neck snapping in two when two Joker bombs landed right next to his feet. Batman instinctively used his leg to sweep them away from himself and Batman also brought his cape up for protection. Batman brought the cape back down when he heard nothing explode and Batman was enraged further to know that the Joker had tricked him and was laughing about it too.
"You know that extreme paranoia can also be seen as a mental issue. Have you tried entering yourself into Arkham? I bet we could be roommates." The Joker teased, standing the corner of the room with a smile, which currently had blood falling from the side of it.
"It's never going to end, is it? You're always going to be trying to kill innocent people and I'm always going try to stop you...Unless I end it now!" Batman announced, taking a quick step forward. With lightning quick moves, Batman had one hand lifting up the Joker by his throat and that hand clenched slowly around the Joker's neck.
Stop! Batman heard a voice in his head tell him, not that he was really listening since his attention was engrossed on the Joker's wheezing laugh. The voice in his head continued to talk, but Batman was only receiving parts of whatever the voice had to say.
Don't do this! The voice ordered and pleaded with Batman, who figured it was his conscious attempting to make him see the side of reason. Yet, as the Joker's movements became sluggish and his laugh became a barely audible chuckle, Batman could only view this as an act of reason. It wasn't until a fist slammed straight into Batman's face, knocking the Joker from his grip, that Batman realized how he sort of recognized that voice.
"What were you thinking, Batman?" Nightwing practically shouted, his face showing how horrified and desperate he felt. Batman could also observe Robin, in the background, aiding the two girls to the direction of the door, now that they were free from the bombs.
"Nightwing?" Batman questioned in slight disbelief, as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place within his mind.
Nightwing must have realized where I had gone and that voice must have been him trying to contact me through my comlink. Batman could feel his common sense returning as the hate began to fade away.
"Batman...you nearly...Are you okay?" Nightwing finally decided to say, placing a calming hand on his father's shoulder for a moment, before he allowed his arm to drop back at his side.
"I..." Batman was speechless as the true nature of his actions hit him full force and all of his anger rushed away from him completely. Nightwing continued to gaze at Batman with concern when he didn't immediately answer, yet when Robin walked over, Robin's face remained neutral. Batman glanced over at his youngest son and he appeared ready to actually speak up, when suddenly his entire form tensed.
"Happy birthday!" The Joker's voice cackled from another part of the room.
"What-" Nightwing began his question only to observe multiple ticking Joker bombs land next to them all. Nightwing knew they were ready to blow within the next second, so instead of attempting to knock them away, he instinctively back flipped away as far as he could.
Wait, Robin! Nightwing thought with alarm, twisting back in the hope that he would glimpse Robin moving out of the way. Yet, Nightwing only came face to face with smoke as the entire ground shook and Nightwing felt nothing beneath his feet.
Nightwing thus automatically shot his grappling hook in random direction and knew it hooked onto something when he felt himself suspended above the ground. Nightwing had to blink a couple of times when he viewed rosy colored flames and destruction surrounding him. With the knowledge that he had family in that inferno, Nightwing was prepared to stay and search for them. Or that was what Nightwing had planned just before another explosion rocked the unsteady structure, sending Nightwing flying back, causing his body to crumble the wall behind him and throwing him towards the safety of the outside.
Robin knew he wasn't going to be fast enough as he caught sight of the bombs, but the impact he expected was not as he thought it would feel. Which Robin quickly noted was thanks to the fact that the large black cape, which could only be his Father's cape, was draped around him.
"Batman?" Robin questioned for confirmation, since the cape was blocking his view of the area. Robing received a pain filled grunt for an answer and the cape was not removed from his view even though he could feel Batman shifting.
Is he carrying me? Robin wondered in his mind, confused on the reason that his feet were not touching solid ground or why the cape was still tightly held against him. Normally, Robin would never like to be carried, but he figured that if his father was holding him then it was for a good reason.
"I'm not going to fail you again." Batman's voice sounded muffled through the cape, along with a sound that Robin could have sworn was something breaking apart.
Is that smoke? Robin wondered, picking up the scent of burning wood along with the rise of temperature.
"Hold on." Batman ordered him, when a noise that sounded like snap trailed after those words were spoken and Robin felt air rushing past himself. Robin was griped tighter as the glass shattering noise came from apparently nowhere and the cape left his sight when he roughly landed on the ground. Robin scrambled back to a standing position, beside his father, turning his head behind him when he noticed the red glow. Robin silently acknowledged the fact that he was shocked to see the orphanage that they had been in, was completely covered in flames which greedily ate at the orphanage's structure.
"We were in-" Robin was cut off when he heard someone approach him silently.
"Did you guys get out of there okay?" Nightwing asked, appearing unharmed by the explosion which recently occurred beside them. Batman mumbled a yes for himself before turning his eyes towards Robin, as if asking him the same question.
"I'm fine." Robin answered both of the concerned looks he was receiving, slightly annoyed at the kindness directed at him. Concern was usually saved for the weak, in his mind and Robin wasn't weak.
"Well, some orphanage will be getting a check later this week, from a certain playboy." Nightwing muttered, noticing with relief that all the kids in the building were standing outside in front of their burning home. The Bat family though, was on a side of what used to be an orphanage; unconsciously they were blending in with the shadows of the night.
"About earlier..." Batman brought their attention back to himself, hesitation barely noticeable.
Nightwing speedily attempted to save Batman from a guilt trip by saying, "Batman, it's okay...We-"
"We forgive you." Robin interrupted understanding and believing what his brother had said earlier. Robin no longer needed to hear it with words because Batman had already showed it with his actions. Batman appeared relived and nodded in acceptance of what had been said. There was then a tense silence for a split second, when Nightwing let out a sigh to allow all of his exhaustion to leave him.
"Let's go home..." Nightwing began and Robin took the lead in heading towards the Bat mobile, which they had spotted on their way to the orphanage. Nobody asked about the Joker though, since they had long since given up the hope that he would ever die. They all knew how every time they hoped; the Joker would always find a way to show up again.
As they headed towards the card, Nightwing broke the silence by muttering, "You did the right thing...Dad." Nightwing whispered the last part as he and Batman trailed behind Robin. Batman gave no indication that he heard the last part of the sentence as he walked ahead of Nightwing, yet Nightwing knew he had definitely seen a smile on Batman's face right before he walked past and Nightwing smiled too.
Whoa, what a ride! I'm going to miss this story because I really enjoyed writing it, more than I have enjoyed writing something in a while. You can thank my English teacher for sucking the fun out of things. :P
Anyway, please review, I would really appreciate it! If you did, depending on your age, I'll send you a kiss from Nightwing! Though I doubt you guys will mind if I meant the Hershey kisses, right? Well, review and you might get the real deal! Goodbye, until later! :D
Agent Moonlight (AKA Mystery Agent) Out!