Chapter 1: New Gang in Town
Winter in Gotham meant one thing: the rise of the already atrocious crime rate. With the temperature dropping; the less fortunate got more desperate. Tonight was no exception. There had been many complaints of a new gang haunting Old Gotham who were the culprits of a string of robberies. The stores targeted seemed to be typical; the descriptions of the criminals, however, were not. No one took the store owners seriously until they were caught on tape. The new 'gang' in Old Gotham was composed of children. Batman's eyes narrow as he watches the tape again.
"Was another store hit, Sir?" The grey haired butler asks the Bat, who was still sitting in front of the large computer, rewinding the security footage for the fifth time.
"Yes. It was a Convenient Store this time. However, I think I found their leader. Look at this." Batman plays the tape, which showed children ranging from the ages of ten up through seventeen dressed in dark hoodies, ransacking the store. They pulled out garbage bags, loading them up with food and bottles of water. One person in particular caught the butler's attention. Instead of wearing a black, dirty, tattered, hoodie; this one was wearing a worn black leather jacket with a deep red hood sewn on haphazardly. He looked to be about fifteen, and was resting a crowbar lazily against his right shoulder. Occasionally, the boy would point out things for the others to take, which was instantly obeyed.
"The one in the red?" The butler asks curiously.
"Not quite, Alfred. Keep watching." The Bat answers, drawing Alfred's attention back towards the large monitor in front of them.
One of the employees tries to stop one of the children from taking some of the digital cameras from behind the 'Print Center', only to be instantly ganged up on by more of the kids, and beaten. The children suddenly stop, their heads snapping towards the entrance. A young boy, who seemed to be about only thirteen years old, stood in the doorway with his arms crossed. Like the others, he made sure that his face was hidden from the camera's view. He was wearing a worn, royal blue hoodie. Upon the new boy's arrival, the children instantly step away from the beaten employee, their heads dropping in shame. The boy in blue points to the pharmacy section; particularly at the medicine and first aid materials.
"That is the leader." The Bat frowns, pausing the video and zooming in on the security mirror. The boy was wearing what appeared to be a make-shift black domino mask. "He's in a mask. He knows what he's doing."
"They're just children, Master Bruce. You can't honestly count them as a gang." Alfred states, glancing over at the billionaire, who seemed deep in thought.
"This is their tenth heist. I can't just ignore them anymore." With that, Bruce stands up from the Batcomputer and heads towards the Batmobile; his cowl already on. Before Alfred could say another word; he jumps into the notorious vehicle and zooms off.
The Dark Knight reaches the aged, dilapidated section of Gotham and hops out of the Batmobile. He would have to search on foot if he wanted to gather any useful information. Seeing a street vendor, he approaches the middle aged man. Instead of mock-handbags and watches, he was selling fruit. He seemed like an easy enough target for the gang and had probably been held up before. The man sees the Bat approaching and his grey eyes widen in horror.
"I haven't done anything wrong!" The man shouts, taking a step back from the vigilante.
"I know." Bruce growls, his eyes narrowing. "I want information on this new gang." The man seems to relax slightly, but his gaze still shifts around anxiously before answering.
"You mean the 'Outsiders'?" Bruce raises an eyebrow. They had a name now. That meant that they would start claiming territory next.
"Yes." Batman growls, already losing patience with the apprehensive man.
"They come by every once and a while. Don't know much else. The leader goes by Robin. Smart kid and seems nice enough, but his second in command is scary! His name's Red Hood. Kid is incredibly violent."
"Any known hangouts?"
"No one knows. They keep hidden." The man responds, eyes shifting around the area once again. Batman nods, his eyes narrowing in suspicion at the fact that the vender in front of him suddenly stiffened.
"It's not nice to spread rumors, Charlie." A small voice from behind the Bat chimes, causing the man to cringe. Bruce turns to face the new-comer only to pause. In front of him stood the teen from the surveillance tape. Sure enough, he was in the same royal blue hoodie, and black domino mask. This time, however, he was alone, standing fearlessly in front of the Bat, and smirking.
"R-Robin! What are you doing here?" Charlie stutters, looking between the Bat and the boy.
"I came for what you owe me."
"Is Hood with you?"
"Nope." Robin chirps happily. Charlie seems to relax slightly at the news. Bruce's eyes narrow, not liking the fact that the boy was ignoring his presence. "Don't get your tights in a twist, Bats. I'll get to you once my business is finished."
"This is no time for a business transaction." Batman hisses as the boy's smirk seems to widen in amusement.
"It's a good of time as any. I'm on a tight schedule." With that, Robin suddenly flips around the Bat, snatches a bag that Charlie was holding out to him before sprinting off. Bruce growls in annoyance, chasing after him.
Just as the Bat thought he had the elusive bird, Robin grabs onto a light pole and swings, launching himself around a corner. Batman curses under his breath, quickly changing direction to continue his pursuit. Robin then jumps, effortlessly flipping on top of a dumpster before leaping into the air and grabs onto a fire escape. He flips over the railing before sliding between the boards of a boarded up window. Batman jumps onto the fire escape as well and bursts through the window. His head whips around, looking for the boy as he switches to night vision. There was no sign of Robin anywhere. Bruce curses again. Just who was this kid?
"I looked all over that warehouse. There was nowhere for him to escape." Bruce grumbles the next morning as Alfred drives him to Wayne Enterprises.
"He was smaller than you, Master Bruce. Perhaps you overlooked a smaller opening?" Alfred states, raising an eyebrow. Bruce merely glares at the butler briefly before deciding to stare out the window, deep in thought. Had he overlooked something? He had never been outsmarted by a mere child. The car stops, signaling that they had arrived at their destination. "Try not to let it distract you, Sir."
"Easier said than done. I'm going to comb that area tonight and try to find any evidence of a hideout." Bruce mumbles as he steps out of the car with his briefcase. Alfred drives off as the billionaire sighs, starting to head towards his office building.
The wind howled as snow started to fall. Bruce pulls his jacket closer to his body, as he starts to pick up the pace. He was about to place his hand on the front door of the office building, when a small cry caught his attention. A young boy with short, disheveled raven hair and sky blue eyes, was sprawled out his back on the wet sidewalk, with his messenger bag open and papers scattered all over the ground. The boy gets up to his knees and quickly tries to pick up the papers, but the people on the sidewalk step all over them, as well as his fingers without a care in the world. Bruce frowns at the adult's behavior as another one bumps into the child again, causing him to fall back on his bottom. The billionaire walks over to the boy and starts picking up the papers. He holds them out to the boy, once the two of them had all of the scattered items collected, causing the child to blink, staring up at him as if he had grown a second head.
"Are you alright?" Bruce asks softly as the boy takes the papers and stuffs them back into his bag. He nods, looking up at him again.
"Yes. Thanks, Mister." The boy states softly, still looking up at the billionaire with a confused expression.
"Do you need some help?" Bruce asks, not liking the fact that the child was now soaking wet in the frosty weather. The boy shakes his head, squeezing out his jacket, trying to get out the water that had soaked through from his fall. Bruce frowns, having a better look at him. The child was covered in dirt and his clothes were tattered and worn. "Do you live around here?" The boy smirks, getting to his feet as the billionaire follows suit.
"Guess you could say that. Though, I'm only in this part of the city to run an errand for a friend."
"What's your name?" Bruce asks.
"Richard, but everyone just calls me Dick." Dick mumbles as he drapes his messenger bag over his shoulder again.
"My name is Bruce. Nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too. Guess I'll see you around then." Dick spins around about to walk off when an apple topples out of his bag. The boy huffs in annoyance, about to reach down and grab it, when he blinks, seeing a hand holding it out to him. Bruce smiles softly, offering him the apple. Dick smiles as well, reaching out to take it when a flash causes him to jump.
"Bruce Wayne even gives food to homeless children! Does he get anymore wonderful?" The female reporter coos, taking another picture. Dick glares up at Bruce, snatching the apple from him.
"You're just like the rest of them." He hisses before running off. Bruce frowns, narrowing his eyes at the reporter. Sometimes, he hated being the most recognized man in Gotham.
A bell on the door rings, signaling that someone was entering the small clinic. A grey haired woman with deep blue eyes makes her way to the counter. She removes her surgical gloves, and places her stethoscope in the pocket of her white lab coat.
"Can I help you?" She asks, smiling warmly when she sees a familiar little boy with sky blue eyes beaming up at her. "That was fast, Dick."
"I always make your favors a priority, Ms. Leslie." Dick chimes, setting his messenger bag on the table and opening it up. "But some of the documents got wet. I'm sorry!" She ruffles his hair, looking through the papers.
"Don't worry about it, Sweetheart. You did a wonderful job!" His smile brightens as she leads him to the back of her clinic. "I have something special for you today. Since it's going to start getting cold; I got you some heated blankets, and battery-operated heaters." She spins around to face the boy. "You boys have a roof over your heads, right?" He nods happily.
"We found an abandoned warehouse and set up camp there. We stay in the centermost area of the building to stay warm." Dick confirms.
"Good. And if you need anything at all; don't hesitate to come." Leslie states, wishing that she could do more for the boy. Dick smiles gratefully, nodding.
"Thank you so much for everything!"
"Not a problem, Sweetheart." The bell rings again, catching her attention. The two walk back out front to greet the newcomer, only to see none other than Bruce Wayne. Dick huffs, crossing his arms as Leslie's eyes widen.
"Is something wrong, Bruce?" She asks nervously, hoping that she didn't have to make up an excuse to make Dick leave.
"No. I just came by to drop off the Wayne Foundation Donation check for your free clinic." His eyes fall on the small boy, who looks away irritatedly. "I'm sorry. I didn't know you had a patient."
"It's quite alright. Dick is a friend." She places a hand on Dick's shoulder. "Dick, Sweetheart, say hello." Dick waves lazily, glaring up at the billionaire.
"Hi." The boy mumbles, causing Leslie to frown.
"That wasn't very polite."
"We actually met earlier today." Bruce explains. "A reporter caught sight of me and he got the wrong idea."
"I'm not a charity case." Dick grumbles, turning to Leslie. "I have to get going." The doctor sighs, nodding.
"Excuse me for one minute, Bruce." Bruce nods as Leslie and Dick head to the back of the clinic and into one of the unused patient rooms. Leslie packs the supplies into a backpack and hands it to Dick. "Now, be careful out there. I heard that there was a new gang in the area."
"Don't worry, Ms. Leslie. We will look out for each other." Dick beams up at her before scampering out the back door. Leslie makes her way back to the front and Bruce raises an eyebrow.
"Are you taking in orphaned children that I don't know about?" He asks, amused.
"No." She sighs, crossing her arms, leaning against the counter. "He's had a rough past and I'm helping him out. He and a few other children are living on the streets because the Orphanage is just not an option." Bruce frowns.
"Some of them. The others just had an abusive home life and ran away. I offered to help them get adopted, but they are rather untrusting of adults. Dick is the only one that comes around. He helps me out with a few things and in return, I give him supplies. I wanted to give them to him for free, but he refused."
"What happened to make them distrust adults so much?"
"It varies, but it's not my story to tell. Maybe Dick will tell you one day. His last name is Grayson." She pushes off from the counter, smirking. "I'm sure you can figure the rest out for yourself." Bruce nods, handing her the check. "And thank you so much for the donation."
"You know it's not a problem." With that, Bruce heads out the door. The first thing he was going to do when he got back to the manor was do a background check on this 'Richard Grayson'.