Where Loyalty Lies

Sequel to Memories: This is my take on what happened after the Court of Owls and is a continuation of my story Memories.

By AJ

Part 1

What went before . . .

"I WILL NOT! LET ME GO!" Dick's voice was filled with rage. He was fighting something in his dreams, a nightmare.

"Dick!" Bruce grabbed Dick's arms to try to restrain him.

Dick lashed out, socking Bruce in the jaw, thinking he was fighting the enemy in his dreams. Damian and Tim rushed in, each grabbing an arm to assist in restraining their brother.

"Let me go! I won't be your Talon!"

"Talon?" Damian questioned.

Bruce moved in at that moment to place a hand on Dick's cheek. "Dick, Dick. Snap out of it. Your home."

Dick's eyes snapped open. "Bruce?" His eyes narrowed. "How . . . what?"

"What do you remember?" Bruce asked.

Dick hesitated for a moment, thinking. "Everything," he answered.

"I guess those eight little words worked," Bruce said quietly with relief.

Then all hell broke loose as the doors to Dick's private balcony shattered as something large came through. It knocked Bruce aside where he flew across the room, falling against a bookcase. Tim and Damian both launched themselves at the large imposing figure, but it brushed them aside like paper. Dick's eyes became wide and filled with terror as he tried to scramble out of the way, but in his weakened state from being tortured and starved he wasn't fast enough. The large imposing figure grabbed him, pulling Dick into his arms then launching out the broken balcony doors and into the night.

"NO!" Bruce scrambled up from the floor, rushing toward the balcony and watched helpless as his son was taken from him for the second time.

In the course of the struggle, when Bruce fell against the bookcase, a small leather bound book was dislodged off the top, hidden from view. It was covered in dust. It fell open to a page that had been constantly turned to at one time. Tim saw the book fall and his eyes fell on the passage and he could not help but shudder when he read it.

"Beware The Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadow perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them or they'll send The Talon for your head."

/

"Let me go!" Dick screamed. "Who are you?"

The mask and armored man continues to carry Dick upward into the night refusing to answer, more attentive to reaching his destination than keeping an eye on his prisoner.

Dick twisted his body, bringing his legs up against the man's chest. Using what leverage he could achieve Dick gave a sudden push, forcing the man to let go. Dick found himself freefalling toward the trees. Twisting his body like a cat, he prepared to grab ahold of any branches to break his fall, but he didn't make it. Once again he was grabbed by the waist and jerked upward.

"You just won't take no for an answer," Dick quips, pushing against the man's arm as he saw the earth fall away from him.

"No, gray son of Gotham," then the man plunged a needle into Dick's neck. Within moments Dick's thoughts also plunged into darkness. His body goes limp and the man continues to cling onto his prize. He tugs on a rope and is pulled skyward into the body of a hovering ancient looking aircraft in the shape of a giant owl.

Bruce raced from Dick's room down to the study, opened the secret panel and slid down the pole and into the batcave. Tim and Damian follow after him taking the secret stairs.

The two boys watched as Bruce disappeared down the next level into the lab. Damian and Tim had not been allowed to go to that level. Bruce insisting on privacy. Both knew that Bruce had been hiding something, something dangerous.

"Keeping secrets, Father?" Damian had confronted his father weeks before. "If anything I should have a right to know. I am your true son."

"This has nothing to do with you or Tim," Bruce had said.

"But it has to do with Grayson," Damian surmised.

Bruce did not deny it, but said instead, "The lab is off limits."

Damian tried to change the subject. "Where were you? You were gone for a week."

"We will discuss this later," Bruce stated.

Tim didn't say anything. The look on Bruce's face had been enough. Tim could tell that Bruce was more than worried. He was terrified that what might happen would once again tear them apart.

"ARRRGGH!" The primal roar that came from the lab was out of character and brought both boys back to the present. It frightened Tim more than the icy stare that would often cross Bruce's face. When Bruce emerged they knew something that he had been keeping in the lab had escaped.

"Father, what is Talon?" Damian asked.

Bruce turned to his son with a stone cold stare of determination causing Damian to take a step back.

"They have him," Tim said, his voice nearly a whisper.

"Yes," Bruce answered, understanding what Tim was saying without the need to state it further.

Tim's face paled. As a child, he had also heard the stories, the unsolved countless murders that even Batman could not solve, until two months ago.

"Who has Grayson?" Damian asked.

Without saying another word Bruce handed Damian a small metal symbol with a bird carved on it imbedded in a tooth. Tim handed Damian the open book.

"Read it," Tim said.

"Is this for real?"

"Yes," Bruce replied. "They tried to murder me and were responsible for the death of Alan Wayne and possibly my parents."

"Why did they take Dick?" Damian asked, using his brother's first name.

Bruce didn't answer at first, knowing full well why instead he said. "I do know one thing. I intend to get him back."

Continues with Part 2