Warnings: Timey whimey shenanigans; Spoilers for Justice League #006 (New 52) and Batman: Son of the Demon
It's late. The hot summer day has faded into a cool, starless night. The local multiplex glows bright in the night, giant marquees for the latest reboot of the much beloved Grey Ghost franchise pulsing through their automated trailers and lighting the streets in bursts of color. Slowly, the building disgorges wave after wave of patrons in every direction, young and old, rich and poor alike, from within. An air of palpable delight and excitement suffuses the area, now thick with conversation and cheering as this horde of humanity spills outwards and lauds a newfound hit.
If there is anything so astounding about the amount of people that had been there, it is the speed in which they rapidly disperse themselves among the nearest public transit and parking garages of Gotham. Soon, there are only handfuls of people left – the customers who lingered for the facilities, the occasional exhausted employee – and these stragglers show no more mind to each other than if they themselves did not exist. It is, after all, late and it has been a long night.
Beneath the pale yellow glow of the streetlamps, a happy family turns from the beaten path and starts down the back alley, taking a shortcut to the train station. The boy, just a child really, is happy and mimes his favorite moves with uncoordinated enthusiasm to the amusement of his parents. The woman is beautiful, a bejeweled necklace around her slender throat, and the man at her side is dark-haired and handsome, with a face that is eerily reminiscent of one long since grown old and wizened. They continue walking this ill-lit path, their footsteps echoing in the silence, completely unaware that they are being observed.
A shadow detaches from the darkness and the man raises his eyes, startled. He pushes the child behind him and the woman gasps, reeling back.
Then, there is a flash of light and the sound of crunching bone as something large and black descends from above, tearing the threat back into the consuming shadows. In the dull yellow circle of the streetlights, the family stands; they are untouched but stunned.
Something darker than shadows stands, slowly revealing the sprawling crimson shape of a bat.
In his earpiece, Terry can hear the soft exhalation of a breath, but whether it is his own or that of his mentor's, he cannot tell.
"Go, now," he growls and the family obeys. Only the man turns to look back, a silent look of gratitude on his face, a face that is far too much like one from all those years ago to be coincidence.
For a moment, Terry wonders. A thousand possibilities flutter through his mind. Then he turns his attention to his prisoner and thinks of it no further.
Gotham is a place of echoes. One more is only natural.
A woman hooded in shadows examines the threads of a thousand worlds. Her fingers, glowing red and swirling with light, skim the surface of countless possibilities. A decisive flick pares away those she is uninterested in. She dips her fingers deeper into the whirling threads and pulls up three.
These are her goal. Woven together, they will be stronger, perhaps just strong enough. And yet, she pauses again, regarding some of the threads she has shuffled to the side.
Perhaps, it would do to have a backup.
Pandora smiles and leans back to wait.
In her hands, the threads of possibility pulse.
Damian, Robin, takes a breath, his death nothing more than a ruse perpetrated by his father. His parents, in their war of attrition, are as titans racing to outwit each other.
He closes his eyes and dreams.
Someday, maybe, he will be Batman.
And someday, maybe, he will cede it to a brother, if not in body, than in spirit.
For now, the future beyond his door remains uncertain.
A world and time far away, Terry looks up at the portrait of his mentor's parents.
AN: And here be the end.
Yes, the unnamed man in the first part is Damian. In Son of the Demon, Talia leaves her infant son at an orphanage with only a necklace. He is last shown being adopted by a couple. Unwitting of his heritage, it is very possible Damian could have grown up to be a relatively normal, happy adult, and have a family of his own. Also, deliberate echo of both the murder of Martha and Thomas Wayne and the failed attempt on Warren and Mary McGinnis is completely and utterly intentional.
Pandora is a character that has appeared in several of the new 52 books. She is tied in to the events of Flashpoint and the merging of DC's New Earth with the Wildstorm and Vertigo universes. Your continuities are blending? Blame her.