This story is set after Batman dismantles the Batclan in response to the Joker's kidnapping and torture of Tim Drake as seen in Batman Beyond. It also takes place after the Apocalypse '09 when Batman last encountered Ra's Al Ghul before Terry and Bruce battle him again fifty years later. Basically the Apocalypse of '09 in my story is the DCAU version of the Tower of Babel arc where Ra's uses Batman's own countermeasures against the JLA. Batman as of now just works in Gotham by himself. Once again I do not own Batman or any other DC Comics characters used here.
The moon rose in Gotham on a cloudless night. Even though it was summer, it did not mean the city was immune to an occasional chill from a stray wind. Tonight though, it was a pretty powerful wind for the summer, which in turn lowered the usually warm temperatures common on the summer nights. Many people had their windows shut due to the lack of heat brought on by the wind. But on one rooftop stood one man, ignoring the slight cold, waiting impatiently. He was having difficulty with lighting his cigar because of the wind. He was standing next to a big spotlight, waiting for someone. The man didn't want to be standing out there all night but someone had to break the news to the Dark Knight. None of the other cops and detectives were comfortable doing it. Usually the Commissioner would be doing this job. But Gordon was unable to do this job anymore and so the burden had fallen on Detective Harvey Bullock, who had started to chew on his cigar in frustration while trying to ignore the wind picking up.
"Why does it have to be so fucking cold tonight?" Harvey complained to himself. "What's taking him so long?"
Harvey had half his mind to turn off the signal and go back inside but not before he felt a presence behind him.
"Hello Harvey," a hoarse baritone voice whispered behind him.
Harvey didn't jump but was still a little unnerved by the sudden appearance behind him. Nonetheless, he acted like he was not fazed at all.
"Took you long enough," Bullock muttered angrily and turned around to face Batman. Batman was always a little taller than him so Bullock was used to having to look up slightly. This time though Batman seemed older, as if hunched over. When was the last time he had seen Batman up close and personal? Two, maybe three years?
"What do you want?" Batman hissed, acting like his time was being wasted.
Bullock scowled at him angrily before dropping his cigar and rubbing his shoe against it.
"Gordon's dead. The cancer finally got him," Bullock explained while trying to mask the overall sadness in his voice.
Batman didn't reply but just stared coldly at Bullock with the soulless white eyes in the cowl. Bullock laughed and went to light up another cigar.
"I guess you're like me pal," he said while he attempted to shield the flame from the wind.
"I'm not the one laughing at his death," Batman pointed out while keeping the stone cold glare.
"I'm not! He was my friend too you know! Where were you when he died? Did you visit him at all?" Bullock snapped back angrily. He didn't like it when people questioned his loyalty to Gordon.
After finally igniting his second cigar, Bullock took a puff and continued on.
"I'm merely laughing at how both of us are too stubborn to grieve over his death. It's pathetic when you think about it. Jim was more than our colleague; he was our friend. And yet we're too busy with our work to show grief over it."
Silence was the only response Batman gave. Bullock sighed sadly and began to walk around to warm himself up.
"How is his family?" Batman finally asked. He had not kept much contact with Barbara since his final battle with the Joker. She at first did not even speak to him for a few years because he had taken away her costume after the tragedy.
"His wife's alright. Gordon's pension should take care of her. Babs just got in last week. She was at his side in the hospital when he finally...well you know."
Batman felt some relief although he didn't show it. At least Jim had someone to be with before he died. Jim didn't deserve to end up like Batman, all alone in his time of dying.
"You didn't bring me up here to talk about Gordon though did you?" Batman asked crisply. That was how he always was, business first.
Bullock scowled again.
"Try to show some respect," he muttered angrily.
Batman just glared and Bullock sighed before clearing his throat.
"You're right though. I do want to talk to you about some other stuff. I don't know if you heard, but I've been made acting Commissioner as of last night by the mayor."
"Congratulations," Batman muttered. Bullock could not tell if he was being sarcastic but decided it was not worth fretting over.
"I'm going to warn you right now Batfreak, although I'm still willing to work with you, I'm a different man than Jim. Some changes are being made."
Batman did not respond but remained cold and stoic as ever. Bullock was frustrated by the lack of reaction from him.
"First off, no more going solo, I want you to keep us in the loop more when you're working on the case," Bullock stated. It was not a request.
Still Batman gave no reaction. That didn't deter Bullock though.
"Secondly, no more underage sidekicks. It's becoming enough of a liability keeping up after you alone. We don't need you getting any more kids hurt!"
Batman still remained silent. Little did Bullock know that Gordon had helped cover up what had happened to Tim Drake, the last Robin.
"You got that? No more Robins running around. You know there's still a bunch of rumors about what happened to the last one and Batgirl. The new mayor himself doesn't like the idea of you putting kids' lives in danger."
Batman still remained silent. Bullock remembered a few years ago, he and the rest of the police noticed that Robin and Batgirl had been suspiciously absent in Gotham. Finally out of curiosity Bullock confronted Gordon about it. Gordon however responded that Batman had forced Batgirl and Robin to retire so their lives wouldn't be in danger anymore. Bullock however was suspicious. He felt there was something else that Gordon knew but wasn't telling him, but he nonetheless trusted Gordon. If Gordon didn't want to tell Bullock more, there was a reason behind it.
"Third, no more of this personal rivalry you have with these supervillains or whatever you call 'em these days. When you come into conflict with one, you'll call us for help."
"That sounds like the first request," Batman noted dryly.
"These aren't requests!" Bullock warned.
Batman still remained calm and undisturbed much to Bullock's annoyance.
"Fourthly, we want you to stop kicking the Justice League out of Gotham. There was a big fire downtown last week during the same time there was an Arkham prison riot. We could've used the extra manpower," Bullock angrily pointed out. He was frustrated that Batman seemed to give no emotional response to his demands. However this time, Batman had finally showed some reaction, albeit an unexpected one. Batman had snorted out a laugh, or at least you could call it laugh. It sounded more like a hoarse cough to Bullock.
"You think they don't come here because I tell them not too?"
"Come on! We know you aren't the friendliest to anyone who tries to help out in Gotham, let alone if they have superpowers!"
Batman shook his head. That angered Bullock who was tempted to punch him because of the patronizing attitude.
"They don't come here because they want nothing to do with me anymore. The Justice League and I have parted ways two years ago."
"I wonder why?" Bullock replied sarcastically. It was a miracle that anyone would even bother working with him.
Bullock turned around and took another puff to his cigar.
"Lastly no more of these disappearing acts," he said before turning around to find out he spoke too late. He was on the roof alone again.
"That son of a bitch!" Bullock swore angrily.
Batman crouched on the rooftop overlooking the streets. He was furious that Bullock thought just because Gordon died, he was going to change how Batman did things. Gotham was Batman's city. His way of doing things had been working for the past twenty something years. Batman wouldn't be stopping until he died. Feeling the wind against his suit, Batman had let his thoughts drift. It had been a while since he actually allowed him some time to reflect. Just over four years ago, he was with the Justice League celebrating the downfall of Darkseid. He remembered being hopeful that maybe it was a sign of a new world order. A world of peace. A world that didn't need a Batman, Superman, or Justice League anymore. And if the world didn't need a Justice League, maybe Gotham wouldn't need a Batman either.
But it had been a fool's hope. A year later, the Joker had kidnapped and nearly brainwashed Tim to insanity. He had lost his edge that night. He would've snapped the clown's neck if he had not hesitated. The Joker was lucky that his body was now rotting in the remains of old Arkham, otherwise Batman would've dealt a special punishment for him. In response to the tragedy, Batman immediately took Tim to Leslie Thompkins to help him recover. Gordon had helped him cover up the Joker's death, understanding Tim didn't deserve to go to prison for killing the mad clown. However, the deal was that Batman in exchange had to make Barbara retire the Batgirl mantle. Batman probably would not have been able to do it without Gordon's help. Barbara and Tim were too young to waste their lives like him in fighting a hopeless crusade. Wearing the Bat mantle was an almost guaranteed death sentence in these times.
Dick meanwhile was in Bludhaven, operating on his own without any contact or support from Batman. When Tim was under Leslie's care, Dick had tried to come to Gotham again to help out but Batman forced him out. Despite the fact that Dick and he were now estranged, Batman knew it was for the best. Batman worked better in Gotham alone. Still though, the pain of their last conversation never went away. It had hurt Batman greatly when his first adopted son that he had raised and loved, told him that he would end up alone. And how true that was.
For a whole year, Batman had worked in Gotham alone while simultaneously helping Leslie taking care of Tim. He still had worked in the Justice League but sparingly. For a while it seemed he had found a perfect balance between not getting too close to people to put them in danger without completely cutting himself off from everyone. But once again, fate had other plans. Two years after the fall of Darkseid, Ra's Al Ghul had put his latest eco-terrorist scheme to action. That time, Ra's almost succeeded because he had crippled the Justice League. And it was all because of Batman. Ra's had managed to get a hold of countermeasures that Batman had collected on many members of the League as well as on the Watchtower and Metro Tower. The intent of those countermeasures was to protect the world if the League ever was compromised. Batman never intended for them to fall into the wrong hands.
But they did and when Ra's implemented them, it was almost a disaster. Some members of the League were almost killed because of it. The second Watchtower almost had met a similar fate to its predecessor had Mister Terrific not been able to override the security protocols that Batman had put in place. But that wasn't the end of the League's troubles. After Batman had managed to stop Ra's once and for all, the founders decided to have meeting to discuss whether Batman should be expelled. Batman remembered most of them were giving him looks of shock and betrayal, especially Clark and Diana, during the meeting. They were all idiots. They didn't understand that it was necessary to have some checks and balances against the most powerful organization in the world. What would happen if the League had become mind controlled or possessed again? Worse, what if they followed the road of the Justice Lords and take over the world themselves?
They may have thought after Cadmus that they would never become the Justice Lords, but they were fools. One of them going rogue was still possible. Everyone had a breaking point; the Joker had found Batman's after all before Tim killed him. That was why Batman had put those measures in. He didn't intend for them to be weapons but safeguards. But the founders did not see it like him. They only saw it as only one thing; betrayal. They wouldn't hear any of his arguments or justifications. In their eyes it was worse than what Shayera had done when she betrayed Earth to her home planet because Shayera had apologized for her mistakes and repented. Batman however had refused to show remorse. He was sorry that his countermeasures had fallen into the wrong hands, but he didn't regret having them. He knew he did the right thing. At least that is what he had been telling himself the past two years.
Knowing he had lost the favor of the majority of the founders, he decided to quit on the spot before they could vote to expel him out. He didn't need to suffer anymore humiliation. On his way out he had a confrontation with a few but he brushed them off. He didn't care anymore for them. They wanted nothing to do with him anymore. He did warn them that he would not get in their way if they stayed out of his. Gotham was his jurisdiction; they could have the rest of the world for all he cared. Unfortunately, his parting of the League was not the end of his isolation. About a few months after he quit the League, Alfred had gone on a holiday to England only to have contracted pneumonia. Bruce had to fly all the way out to London to be with Alfred as he died. He then flew the body home and had it buried next to his parents.
For a while it was just Bruce and Tim living in the manor after Tim had recovered. But Tim, like the others, soon left. When he turned eighteen last year, he decided since he was not allowed to be Robin anymore, there was no need for him to stick around in Gotham. He had left and got accepted into some engineering school on the West Coast. So now it was just Batman to himself now. Continuing the vigil in Gotham until he died. He did not regret it. It was for the best. It allowed him to complete his mission without any distractions. It was better for him to be alone. His mission came first while his own happiness, a distant last. That was why his heart needed to be close off to everyone. Otherwise, his enemies would use it to distract him.
The sound of a scream caught his attention. A woman was getting mugged by some hoodlums. Batman descended from the rooftops and within seconds had handled the punks with ease. Maybe he was a little too aggressive, but he needed to blow off a little steam. When finished, he ignored the woman he had just rescued and grappled back onto a roof, intending to find somewhere else to patrol. The lower East End had been slow lately. Or so he thought.
In an alleyway not too far away in the shadows stood a mysterious figure. The figure was wearing a heavy blue cloak and a hood. His face was hidden by the shadows that the hood cast. The only visible part of his face in the perpetual blackness were two glowing yellow eyes and gleaming teeth.
"Yes, Batman, keep patrolling the city. You won't be able to do it again when I have my revenge," the man grinned wickedly as the Dark Knight had disappeared into the darkness.