Knock, knock, knock. Richard answered the door. Standing there was Bruce Wayne. This was not an uncommon occurrence; the Pennington's and Bruce were good friends.
"How are you doing?"
"Horrible. I am trying to be strong for Jenn and Cass but…"
"Don't do that," Bruce interrupted his grieving friend. "Be upset, cry with your girls. Keeping it in will only hurt later." How's Cassidy?" They had moved into the living room. Richard sank on to the couch in a slumped position. The Pennington's were rich, but they lived in a modest house.
"She hasn't cried since…We are worried." Rich was very worried. His daughter wasn't the same; she was distant, silent and never cried. Even at the funeral.
"She is probably overwhelmed. It was a traumatic experience." Bruce put his hand on Rich's shoulder. "Where is Jenn?"
"Do you know if the police got the Joker?"
"No, Batman got him," Bruce was surprised at the bitterness in Rich's voice.
"You don't like Batman." A statement, not a question.
Rich sighed. "I shouldn't blame him, this was a freak accident. Cassie hates him though. And herself."
Bruce was surprised that an 11 year old girl could hold so much anger. Then again, he was angry at that point in his life too. "She will take time to recover."
"Yeah, I hope she stops blaming herself soon."
Cassidy stopped talking after that. Black Canary stood up and sat beside her. "Don't blame yourself, Cassidy. You did nothing wrong."
"If I hadn't wanted ice cream…"
"Don't start that. Continue with your parents passing."
"I know. I didn't want to upset you."
2 years after Bryan's death the family had pretty much recovered, as much as you can from such a horror. Cassidy still hated her birthday but the family cried together and remembered all the good things about Bryan. They were eating dinner in early February.
"Cassidy, um, well your mother and I have to go to Africa."
"Why!? How long?"
"Well, our charity efforts have come to a halt and we think if we go to help more people will be inspired to as well. We will be gone 2 months."
"Where will I stay?" Cassidy had been hoping they were only going for a few weeks; she could have gone with them.
"Bruce offered to take care of you." The 13 year old laughed.
"Bruce Wayne? He couldn't take care of a kid to save his life."
"That's not true; he recently started taking care of a young boy, Richard Grayson. That is the only reason we said yes."
"Okay, you guys know best." Cassidy got up to take her dishes to the kitchen. "Wait, Grayson? As in the Flying Grayson's?"
"Yes," Cassidy parent's faces grew sympathetic.
"Oh wow," Everyone knew of the Grayson's death few months before.
"Bruce thought having someone who understands what he is going through, who is a little closer to his age, might help."
"Yeah, I will do my best. You will be back in time for my birthday right?" Cassidy voice was laced with fear at the thought of spending her birthday alone. Bryan's birthday alone It was these moments you could see she was still not truly who she had been. Her mask fell off.
"We promise we will Cassie."
"Hello, Miss Pennington. How are you?" Alfred greeted Cassidy at the door.
"Good. How are you, Alfred?" Cassidy returned the polite greeting.
"Very well Miss. Please come in." Alfred stepped back so Cassidy could enter the manor. "Shall I show you to your room?"
"That would be great,"
Alfred showed Cassidy to one of the guest rooms at the front of the house, near Bruce's and across from Dick's. "I hope this is satisfactory, Miss Pennington,"
"It is perfect,"
Bruce walked into the room. "Hey, Cassidy,"
"Hey Bruce Thanks for letting me stay. I really appreciate it."
"No problem I…oof," Bruce gasped as something hit him from behind. It was a person. "Oh Cassidy, this is Dick Grayson." A small boy of about 9 peeked out from behind the legs he had just run into. His eyes were wide and a beautiful blue but held a sadness that Cassidy recognized from her own. This boy had lost a lot.
"Hi Dick, I am Cassidy." She knelt down and offered her hand. He said a weak "hello" and ignored her hand. Bruce put his hand on Dick's head, a comforting gesture.
"Master Dick, shall we go to the kitchen for some cookies?" The boy's face lit up as he nodded, grabbed Alfred's hand and left.
"He is still missing his parents," Bruce watched the boy go. Cassidy nodded. Bruce turned to her. "How are you?"
"Alright, first time away from my parents for a long time though."
"Yeah, where did that bruise come from?" Cassidy, despite the freezing Gotham February, was weeing shorts. On Cassidy's leg was a big purple bruise, it looked fresh and new.
"Becoming a black belt at 13 is not without its bumps and bruises." Cassidy was lying but Bruce let it slide.
"Alright, if you need anything just ask. I will let you unpack."
"'Kay thanks." Cassidy smiled and closed the door behind him.
A/N- Okay so this is a bit shorter then usual but it was a good place to stop. The last chapter of Cassidy's past with take a little longer because I have not finished writing yet. I will get it up as soon as possible.