A/n: I apologize for the one week delay in updates. School's started, projects are coming in and being whipped out, and I shockingly have a social life...that consists of movie-going, cosplay-making, and being a complete goofball with friends. Somewhere in the middle of all that is work. And, like I said, school. Yay me? My aim is to update twice weekly from here-on out. A day of the week will not be defined. Every time I update, expect a new chapter within the following three days. So for example, after today, expect the next chapter to be out Saturday.
Guys. Episode 12. The team has no Mt. Justice. No Hall of Justice. What's next, no Watchtower?!
...Wait...wait. Oh, fuck no. NO. I TAKE THAT BACK. DON'T DESTROY THE WATCHTOWER.
(Unless that means everyone gets to operate from the Bat-cave.)
(Wait, that's still bad.)
(Can they all go to the Bat-cave next?)
(No brain, don't root for the Watchtower to be destroyed just so we can get some Bat-cave action. Go watch some Batman animated series for that.)
Ten — Define Hero
(Robin's Big Debut)
Tonight was the night. And what a glorious night it would be.
Today was young Dick Grayson-Wayne's ninth birthday. One would think that, given it was his birthday, and given that his new father could quite literally give him whatever his heart desired, that the young acrobat would be all over spoiling himself silly. Yet no; Dick didn't grow up with spoils, and quite honestly it never mattered to him. His humble upbringing in the circus taught him great morals: one of which material items have no value no matter what the price tag may say. If it's not important in your heart, it's not important at all.
That was why this morning, when a very sleepy Dick stumbled his way down to breakfast and slurped his cereal up lazily, he nearly choked on the colorfully shaped grains. Bruce was running late for work, and it was to personally give the boy his birthday gift: a domino mask. This was it. This was finally it. He'd "graduated;" passed; deemed himself worthy enough to run alongside the infamously famous dark knight.
Bruce was so shocked and horrified he had to give Dick the Heimlich maneuver, almost reconsidering his choice of letting the boy go out patrolling with him that evening. Alfred chortled to himself as the galaxy-blue eyed boy made a scene, imploring that Bruce still let him go. He was so caught up in his pleading that he practically swallowed down the rest of his cereal in one go, racing upstairs to change and finish all his homework before noon. That way, he could get in a workout warm-up before Bruce came home.
"I'm glad you've finally allowed Master Dick to join your nightly crusades. I don't think I could handle another day of rock music and gunfire blaring through this house on surround sound." Alfred mentioned as Dick ran off, handing his charge his routine morning mug of coffee. The billionaire raised a questioning eyebrow. "You mean he hasn't told you? Ever since the night he saved you from Lady Shiva and you consequently allowing him to train with you, he's been immersing himself into the hero role in a very…well, a manner which I believe you would've done if you'd taken up the cowl earlier in life."
"…Which would be…?"
"Aside from the numerous archives you have on the known heroes in the world down in the Bat-cave, he's been reading quite a lot of comic books, Master Bruce. He's been watching superhero movies as well. I can't tell you how many times he's watched Iron Man." The butler sighed in a way that said that Dick had watched the movie too many times. "He watches quite a lot of anime as well. Last month it took me a week to explain to him that the lesson on chi and concentration was not the same as the chakra in something called Naruto. Apparently, the show convinced him that he could walk on water if he focused his chi to the bottom of his feet. Master Dick also believes that Superman is the long-lost cousin of someone called…Goku."
Bruce couldn't help but smirk. "What makes you say that I would be inspired by cartoons and comics?"
"Shall I begin with the costume or with your secret hideout, Sir?" Alfred quipped in amusement, making Bruce scowl the closest thing the man ever came to a pout. "All jokes aside, Master Bruce, I think you should have a serious talk with the boy before leaving. These movies and TV shows have had quite an impact on him and I wouldn't want that to compromise his well-being or your own. Not to mention that some of Master Dick's viewing choices were…perhaps a bit past his age and maturity level."
Bruce waved the elder man off dismissively as he left. "Sure, I'll take care of it. I've got to head out; I'm running late as is and I've got a meeting. Have a good day, Alfred."
"Good day, Master Bruce." Alfred called back, mumbling to himself, "He's going to forget about it…"
"A bank robbery?! Yes! I've always wanted to do a bank robbery!"
"Robin, what part of radio silence did you not understand?"
"Master Bruce, should I be concerned that a nine-year-old is excited over a bank robbery?" Alfred inquired over the comm link. From his perch high-up on the building, the dark knight rolled his eyes behind the cowl. His low, humming growl was carried away by the wind, nearly impossible to hear. He gazed down to the street below, tapping the side of his right temple so that the lens in his cowl could zoom in on the activity below and assess the situation. It was the Gotham City East-Side bank building. The street was cleared, and the entire block was surrounded with GCPD courtesy of Commissioner Gordon. Inside were hostages and the criminals behind the job. The hostages were bankers that, for the past week, were dropping of the radar like flies. After some effortless research, the caped crusader discovered it was because they all held entry access to the bank vaults. A little more digging and he found that the money these people were after was the latest trust fund billionaire Bruce Wayne deposited for the medical departments of Gotham.
Switching to thermal vision, Batman peered into the building and starting counting. One dozen…two-dozen hostages…one, two, three…another dozen or so of goons…and—he paused. "Bane." He murmured to himself. He'd recognize that huge, hulking mass of a criminal anywhere. The guy was likely looking to steal the money to invest in a higher-grade formula of his venom. He looked back outside, switching back to the eagle-eye cam when his wire-tap to the police department's radio caught his attention. For some reason, Commissioner Gordon went inside.
"Commissioner!" Robin stage-whispered, audibly voicing Batman's frustration. "What does he think he's doing?" He asked. The little bird was on the same building as his mentor, a story below him on a gargoyle. "I've got this!" He remarked with confidence, diving off he gargoyle as if there were a pool below him.
"Robin!" Batman said through the link, but it was no use. In the blink of an eye, the boy had broken through a window of the bank and disappeared inside. Even if he shouted Robin wouldn't have heard. He was blasting AC/DC on the built-in speakers of his domino mask.
"I warned you about the Iron Man movies." Alfred said in an I-told-you-so tone of voice. This time, the butler did hear Batman growl in disdain.
Commissioner Gordon didn't admit to making mistakes easily. He was stubborn as a mule. He liked to call it perseverance. When his daughter, Barbara, pulled the stubborn act on him, he called it annoying. Like father, like daughter, he supposed. Yet tonight, he admitted to himself that he made a pretty stupid choice that landed him as a hostage as well. Come morning the press was going to eat this up.
The man was tied up with the other hostages; they sat in a circle, grouped together at the center of the gleaming tile floor of the bank. With the exception of the sparse lights that remained on a constant twenty-four hours, the building was dark. The men and women around him were terrified. He could sense it, no matter how well some of them hid it. These people needed a beacon of hope to latch onto. This was why the man sat with his back straight and chest high. He'd shoulder their fears, for he knew he always had someone to rely on in the city. He just hoped that someone wasn't too reoccupied in some other part of Gotham, dealing with a worse criminal. Or, for that matter, off with the Justice League.
If that were the case, they were doomed.
"Mira, ese," One of the thugs said with his thick Spanish accent. He dragged a young child behind him, tied up, that to the Commissioner looked to be no older than seven. The hostages watched on in silence as the thug that watched them conversed. "I found this one out back trying to get to Bane."
The second thug stitched his brows together, picking up the boy by the nape of his cape. His tobacco-scented breath made the boy's nose shrivel. He smirked, revealing aluminum and yellowed teeth through his ski-mask. "You telling me this little kid got past Julio? Ha!"
"Considering Julio's security was sub-par, si, ese, and it was very easy." The black-haired boy retorted with a mocking grin of his own. Thug two was not impressed.
"Oh really? And just what do you think you're doing here, Peter Pan?" The man laughed with his partner in crime. The other thugs, with their weapons trained on the hostages, shared the laugh as well.
"I came for the party." The boy grinned as he was lifted higher in the air. The men gazed at him curiously. He wore something they'd never seen anywhere before. A scarlet-red tunic-vest, red and green-black pants, and a black cape with a canary-yellow lining. His gauntlets and shoes (steel-toed) looked like they could pack quite a punch. Yet he was so tiny. Fit, yes, they could see that, but tiny nonetheless. On his face, beneath a messy mop of black hair and bangs, there was a green-black domino mask concealing his eyes. The child seemed undeterred by the criminals that were scaring the hell out of the hostages. "Say, can I ask you something personal? If this was the last birthday party you were going to have, what would you do?"
The man sneered, "If this some sort of joke, kid?" The boy shook his head no. The man wasn't convinced. "Who are you working for?"
"Er, by the end of the night? Probably no one. I think I'm already fired, just not technically."
Roughly grabbing the child from his friend, the second thug tossed him with the rest of the hostages. "Well, Pan, since you were so keen to join us, how about you spend the party as another hostage?" He cackled. The child in costume sat up with ease, a big smile on his face.
"Yes! I've always wanted to be a damsel in distress!" He piped up, contorting so that he flipped through his arms and his bound wrists were now in front of him, not behind him. A click went off in his gauntlets, causing three sharp blades to shoot out from the sides of the gloves and cut through the ropes like butter. He pulled off the ropes from his ankles with just as much ease. "Unfortunately, I have no time to waste with that , I kind of jumped the gun to be here and if I waste any more time talking with you guys—."
The gunmen trained their weapons on the boy. "Don't move, kid!"
"—I'm going to be grounded for twice as long as I'm going to be grounded. Which is forever. Which means I'll be grounded forever-ever. Wait…can a double-positive be a negative? Like, instead of forever, it's fornever? Cause if it is—."
"Hands on your head, or we'll shoot!"
"—that would be so cool, cause then I wouldn't be grounded!"
Impatience reaching its limit, one of the gunmen sticks the barrel of his weapon on a woman's head, making her whimper loudly. "Alright, hijo, I don't know who you think you are, but you're about to make this lady very unhappy, comprende?" The boy's eyes narrowed in a bone-chilling glare that made this new gunman, who until this that moment hadn't talked, flinch. His smirk was almost as terrifying as the Joker's on a good day. A little kid shouldn't look that...devious.
"Who are you?" A new, warped voice asked as he stepped out from the hall that led towards the vaults. It was Bane. Beside the child, Commissioner Gordon, scared for his citizens' well-being, tugged on the boy's cape to get him to be quiet. He was trying to think of the quickest way out of this situation, and right now this kid was on the fast-track to getting them all killed.
"Who? Who is but the form following the function of what, and what I am in a man in a mask."
"Yes. I can see that." The masked man drawled in an obvious tone. The child giggled again. It was a strange giggle, almost like it was mocking and had the undertone of a cackle.
"I know you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation. I'm merely pointing out the paradox of asking a masked stranger who he is. That is the point of the mask, is it not? Why else would you be wearing one?" The ebony-haired boy smartly retorted. "But I suppose that since I know who you are, Bane, that it's only that you know who I am before I sent you back to Blackgate Prison." With a flourish of a cart-wheel, the acrobat somersaulted forward to land in the middle of all the criminals present. He bowed theatrically, his voice loud and clear.
"Regards!" He began. "In view: a reserved, reliable young hero, regardlessly rendered the rank of 'reprobate refugee' by the media in lieu of an event I'm really reluctant to speak of—and would rather restrain from memory—resolutely rescued by a knight in both black and white despite the risks of ruining his reputation. Reports of this remarkably rueful tale roused the relentlessly regardful society of Gotham and the rest of the world, rendering the ruined, remorseful acrobat to feel an awful lot like rubbish. Ransacked of true inner peace, a realization rested itself upon the boy's new guardian. This riffraff, the back-and-forth rifling of rumors with no regards to the raw pain the boy felt and he could relate with, was restricting any real recuperation from him, and thus the child needed a release: revenge.
"Revenge upon the rotten, repulsive, repugnant man that removed the only riches boy ever retained. Readily, the revelation came, and with it the relief that the knight recognized these racking repines of misery the boy felt for far too long. With the revelation rose the opportunity of a lifetime to regain control, to rise and run alongside the ranks of Batman, and a resounding ratification for the reborn resolve of a newborn hero. Regardless of relations and remoteness of the residents of this ridiculously roomy rock we reside on, upon donning the mask and cape he refused—no, rejected— to relent against villains lest should he remain the last man standing. For he, that is I, is a revolutionary of revenge, a radical rebel for reform, and a revisionary rioter. Because I can relate to the recreancy of rejection, and I want people to realize as I did that they can relinquish that remorse and that retreating is never the only response."
The boy pulled out a set of disc-shaped shuriken from his canary-yellow utility belt, spinning them around his fingers idly. He gave the speechless audience an adorably crooked smile and another of his cackle-infused giggles. "Hehe, whoops, I just realized I remitted my name...Sorry. Rewind and restart: you may call me Robin."
"...What?" Another thug finally asked in the dead silence. Robin rolled his eyes behind the mask, letting out an impatient scowl.
"Robin, ese." He retorted mockingly. "My name is Robin, and after tonight I'm sure you'll never forget it."
Commissioner Gordon had dozens of questions floating around in his mind, but the first he spat out was "Were you spoon-fed a dictionary or something?"
Robin chuckled to himself, "You could say that."
Bane was not impressed. He was frustrated. "What the...the hell did you just say to me?"
"Rounding the really important facts, the brief but bewildering becoming of my persona." He grinned. "Playing with the alliteration of the letter R. I can recite it in almost every letter of the alphabet, take your pick. For example," His grin turned evil. He pulled out a pair of collapsible eskrima sticks from his utility belt as the lights went out. " Have you heard the rhyme of big, bad Bane? The broad and brute bully who can't spell his own name? For how can a belligerent so boastful and boding be so brainless that he plans to 'borrow' from the banks and cannot even beguile such a simple security system? Was it too bamboozling for your itty-bitty brain, bozo?"
From the rafters above, a large shadow swooped down on Bane and his compadres and a smoke screen filled the room. Robin used his mentors distraction to spring all the hostages free and safely guide them to the nearest exit. He kept the other thugs away as he helped the people reach the GCPD outside. One ten-minute fight and fifteen tied-up criminals later, the bank was liberated once again and the money recovered.
Batman grilled Robin the entire car ride back to the cave for his excited and impulsive behavior. He still had to see Commissioner Gordon about tonights events. Breaking the news that the infamous Batman now had a very enthusiastic nine-year-old sidekick suddenly became a much more daunting task. However, despite the slight hiccup, the patrol had gone relatively well. And neither Batman or Bruce could stay angry at the little boy for long.
"It's all over the news," Alfred greeted them at the computers in the cave. Dick's smile stretched from ear to ear when he saw what was on the news. The bank and Bane and Gordon and Batman and him. Alfred patted his shoulder in approval. "They're calling you the boy wonder. Not even a full nights worth of work and it seems as though you've already earned yourself a small fanbase, Master Dick."
"Awesooome." He breathed, elated.
"I also heard your monologuing, sir. I wouldn't say that catchphrases are your style, but if you're going to attempt it they should be short, simple, and straight to the point. Preferably, its best that you don't talk at all, but seeing as how that's never going to hate to happen..."
"Short, simple, straight to the point. Got it." Dick nodded, hugging Alfred and Bruce goodnight. He ran up the manor shouting about being the boy wonder. "I'm a hero!"
The following night, Batman let Robin go patrol again. He couldn't bear to turn down the kid. This time around, the robbery involved the Penguin and his men. There was a car chase that, if Robin were in the Bat-mobile he would've described, was of epic proportions. However, the caped crusader was an intelligent man and predicted Penguins moves, so he sent his new young protégé to where the action would take place to lay out their trap. Before reaching the docks, Batman glanced at the dashboard of his vehicle, and decided on a whim to gift-wrap the villains for Robin.
He had some new toys to test, so why not?
This was how all five of Penguin's goons wound up rolling into the open hangar of the warehouse due to the explosion of their escape truck. They rolled right up to young Robin's feet. "Welcome, gents! So glad you could make it!" The five men looked up wearily. Penguin gave sarcastically amused grin.
"Let me guess. You're the Bats new little brat everyone's talking about. The boy Wonder, Robin."
"Yup, that's my name!"
One of the men snorted, "I heard you're a freak that spits out vocabulary words for fun. Why don't you go home and practice for your spelling bee, kid? I don't want to have to kick your ass."
Robin narrowed his eyes into his own bat-glare. It was one thing to insult him, but insulting his grammar (his English in general) was like insulting Alfred. And NOBODY insulted Alfred on his watch. Especially since his grandfather figure butler did such a good job of teaching him English, among dozens of other things. He crouched down so he was eye level with the robbers. "You don't enjoy smart talk and eloquent english? Fine, then allow me to make this very clear and very simple. If you talk crap one more time, your head is going up his ass, his head is going up that dude's ass," He pointed with calm, "Both their heads are going up each others ass yin-yang style, and Penguin's head with that huge pointy nose will go up your ass. OK pumpkin?" Penguin was shaking his head no and raising his hands up in surrender, but his henchman was stupid.
"If that supposed to scare me, birdy?"
Robin's smile was almost sadistic. "It is." He grabbed the guy by the collar as well as his friend, proceeding to punch the daylights out of them.
Back at the cave, an hour later...
"Master Richard! I am appalled! We do not use that sort of language under any circumstances in this household, do you hear me?" Alfred scolded as soon as the Bat and Bird pulled into the cave and killed the engine of the Bat-mobile. Batman had been surprisingly quiet about Dick's use of foul language, which scared the little acrobat. He didn't know how angry his foster father was, and that scared him. "Where did you learn to say such a thing? Certainly not in this household, I'm sure."
"I, er, saw it in a superhero movie...?" Robin meekly offered, playing with his gauntlets as he slowly took them off. He took his time on purpose; he didn't want to make eye contact with the butler that was spitting hot coals.
Now Alfred turned his disapproval to Bruce. "What did I tell you, Master Bruce? I warned you to speak to him about his movie choices, did I not? They've been a bad influence." He stopped, saw that his charge wasn't making eye contact with him either. Except he saw why. "Mas...Are you smiling?"
Dick's head snapped up in surprise, trying to get a better look at the dark knight's face. He wasn't smiling, per se, but he most definitely was grinning. Now the boy was really confused. Batman cleared his throat, "I have to agree with Alfred, Dick. Cursing is not allowed in this household, ever." Alfred narrowed his eyes in a glare, demanding an explanation. "You have to admit, though, that it's a little amusing."
"A little amusing?" Alfred repeated, "You think the boy tying those men up face-to-buttocks and forcing them to fart in each other's face is amusing?"
"Well, that too, but I was referring to how Dick chose to talk intelligently to Bane▬who's not so intelligent▬and then dumbed it down for Penguin▬who's fairly clever."
"You should thank your stars he did, otherwise the clues Dick left in his little speech might've actually tipped off your enemies to your real identities." Alfred pointed out, stomping back upstairs. "Since you boys found tonight's events amusing, I'll be putting away the cookies I made for you. Good evening Master Bruce, Master Dick."
Up until that moment, Dick had been stifling giggles, relieved that his father wasn't mad at him, and Bruce had been biting back his grin as much as he could. When Alfred mentioned the cookies, their amusement vanished. Dick's face fell, as if he'd been deeply betrayed, and Bruce looked peeved.
"Richard, you're grounded."
On the third night, Batman had a heart-to-heart with Robin on their way to work...work being, of course, hunting down criminals and making them wet themselves. Best part of the job.
"Robin, Batman and Robin do not have catch-phrases."
"Why not?! Flash has one! And Superman! And Superman is the greatest!"
Batman's brow twitched beneath his cowl and his frown deepened. As if he didn't have enough reasons to find Clark Kent annoying already, his adopted son turns out to be the guy's biggest fanboy. "Because catchphrases are mundane, unnecessary, and don't make it look like you're taking the job seriously."
"Yes. 'Be back in a Flash'? Would you trust someone in a ridiculous red costume who told you that?"
Robin crossed his arms, pouting, and sulked in the passenger seat. "Look who's talking." He mumbled under his breath, but Batman heard it. That's why he purposefully made the next left turn a hard one, making Dick hit his head on the window. "Ow!" He yelped, rubbing the sore spot on his head. "Why does it matter if I come up with a catchphrase for myself or not? It's not you saying it."
"One, you truely aren't taken as seriously as you must be. Two, this is Gotham City. Not Metropolis, not Happy Harbor. You wouldn't have time to finish a catchphrase before they kill you, and I will not allow for such a thing. Three, imagine if I said 'be back in a flash' or anything akin to it."
Robin did, and shuddered. "Yeesh. I feel bad for the poor guy Flash teaches...but Batman, we're heroes."
"No we're not. We are vigilantes."
The boy wonder pouted in determination. "A hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds or noble qualities. Deny it all you want, but that's what you are."
Batman ignored him. "Catchphrases do not define a hero."
"Then what does?" Robin asked. He got no answer. Batman was adamant about it, and his word was final. If he didn't want Robin to have a catchphrase, then the acrobat could kiss that dream farewell. Unfortunately for Batman, Robin was just as stubborn. "I'm going to make a catchphrase."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am!"
"No, and that's final!"
"Because I'm the goddamn Batman, that's why!" The dark knight shouted, slamming on his breaks before they could run through a four-way intersection. The whiplash caused them the slam back into their seats, stunned for a moment, until Robin started laughing. Batman raised a brow at his protégé until he realized what he'd said. Robin was pointing accusingly at him, a wide smile on his face. "Don't▬."
"You have a catchphrase!" He howled in laughter, falling over his own lap in fits of giggles. "The goddamn Batman! It's so catchy! It's...it's like...you can even sing to it! Da na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na BATMAN! GODDAMN BATMAN!"
Batman suppressed the urge to slam his head against the steering wheel.
A/n: Aside from the obvious Iron Man reference, can anyone else identify other movies/anime/comics I referenced from in this chapter?
And even though Robin was never allowed to make himself a catchphrase, he eventually came up with the hobby of making up new words. Win/win situation?
As always, thanks for reading!
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