I own nothing but an over-active imagination.

I will be using a mixture of comic-books, cartoons and movies for background.

This is a stand-alone, and will not be expanded upon.

Wrote it because it was a plot-bunny that would keep still.

Shades of Grey

Silence filled the cave, the air heavy with dark anticipation. Only a few isolated lights broke the darkness, mainly to indicate where the maze of walkways and platforms ended and the seemingly endless abyss began. It was not the sort of place one would venture uninvited, least of all out of fear of encountering its master.

The man known as either Bruce Wayne, or Batman, depending on who you asked, sat at the large commute that sat in an island of light. His eyes were scanning an ever changing series of images, allowing his subconscious mind to take them in and make connections, a trick he had picked up after meeting a very strange man who called himself Orion. To an outsider, he may have seemed engrossed, but the truth was that his conscious mind was paying very close attention to the empty seat across the small coffee table next to his throne-like chair.

"I assume you have something to say." His voice was as cold as liquid helium and as deep as the cave itself.

"Nice try." A softer, but no less menacing voice came from just behind him, "You're getting better."

There was a rustle of fabric and a female figure dressed in a long black trench-coat and cloak seemed to appear from thin air. A red scarf covered their face, while a black fedora sat atop their head, leaving only a pair of dark blue eyes visible. The cape swung open for a moment, and a pair of highly customized highly customized Colt M1911 pistols were visible in a shoulder holster, before vanishing again.

"You always did have a flair for the dramatic." Batman glanced at them out of the corner of his eyes, "Coffee?"

"I'd love a cup." The mysterious stranger pulled off her hat and mask, reviling a woman in her mid twenties, and a mane of thick, shoulder-length blond hair spinning three, "The traffic between here and New York can be absolute murder at times."

"Interesting choice of words." Batman grunted as he poured two cups of hot, black coffee from a silver coffee pot, "From a woman with a three-figure body-count."

"Are we going to talk ethics again? Because I thought you went through all that with my father?" The woman rubbed her eyes with one gloved hand, "The Shadow only kills when it is absolutely necessary; when all other options have been considered."

"No one is beyond redemption." Came the curt, hostile reply.

"I hate to be the one to tell you this, Bruce, but some people just are." The woman moved her hand, and the cave seemingly growing darker, leaving only her eyes, which seemed to peer into his very soul, "Or are you going to try and tell me you know what evil lurks in the hearts of men better than one of the most powerful psychics on the planet?"

There was a moment of silence, as if the universe was holding its breath.

"A discussion for another time." Batman nodded, "I take it that, as your visit was unannounced, that you have something important to discuss?"

"Yes, I have a message for you to pass on to your friends." The woman regained her composure as she lifted her coffee to her lips, "And if your son puts down that shuriken before he hurts himself, I might just tell you."

"Damian." Batman hissed, mentally kicking himself for being so distracted by his visitor that he had not noticed his son's arrival.

"Father." The latest youth to bare the mantel of Robin stepped out of the darkness, weapon lowered, but still in hand, "She has invaded our home, uninvited and unannounced..."

"Her name is Chloe Allard, and she is an old friend." His father held up a hand, "Her father helped me when I was not that much older than you are now."

"Allard?" Damian blinked, his mind racing, "Then you are a descendent of the legendary Yin-Ko..."

"Please." The woman looked visibly pained, "I would prefer not to speak of that part of my great-grandfather life."

"You are the one they call The Shadow?" Damian looked at her again with fresh eyes, "I thought you'd be taller."

"And I thought you'd be shorter." Allard responded, deadpan, "Please, give my regards to your mother the next time you see her."

"You said there was a reason you were here." Batman interrupted, "I assume it has something to do with recent events in Century City?"

"Yes; I received a letter from Kato." Allard nodded, pulling a single sheet of paper covered in a complex cypher, "It appears that, while headstrong and undisciplined, the son is ready to take his father's place."

"And you want me to keep the Justice League out of the way." Batman looked at her carefully, "What if he needs, assistance?"

"Kit is flying in tomorrow: we're going to meet up with Denny, then go pay our respects." Allard explained, "Should he need any further help, we will deal with it."

"The Agreement was..." Batman started, but never had a chance to finish, as a large, ornately carved knife flew out of his guests cloak and burred itself in the table. The face on the hilt came to life, needle like teeth bared in anticipation of drawing blood.

"The Phurba..." Damian hissed, recognising the almost mythical weapon from a drawing he had seen while still with the League of Assassins.

"The Agreement still stands." The darkness seemed to close in, surrounding Allard, her eyes growing cold and hard as the light around her seemed to die, "We keep our respective territories clear, and in return we are left alone. We respect your work, and the work of those you have chosen to ally yourselves with, but their ways are not our ways. We wish to remain, hidden, unseen." She shook herself, the light returning to the room, "You're the only one who knows how to walk in both worlds, even if I think you'd be better suited to ours."

"I've told you to stay out of my head." It was a statement of fact, not a threat, but the words were spoken with an unshakable finality.

"A request I have always honoured." Allard donned her hat and refastened her scarf, "I've promised to help Kit deal with a nest of the Singh Brotherhood in Roanapur, so I'll be out of the country for a while. Can I trust you to keep an eye on New York while I'm gone?"

"We would consider it an honour, Shadow." Damian spoke before his father had a chance.

"My thanks, Master Wayne." Allard looked at the knife in the table, "Phurba."

The metal face growled at Batman one last time, then flung itself back to the secret hiding place from which it had come.

There was a rustle of silk, a flash of red, and then the Shadow was gone.

"You have much more interesting friends than I had been led to believe, father." Damian smiled, "I would be fascinated to hear more."

"A story for another time." Batman promised, "Tonight, you better read up on criminal activity in New York, as you've volunteered us to keep it safe."

The End