Nightwing stepped off of his motorcycle, placing the helmet on the seat. The blue bird insignia flashing in the light as the non-caped-caped crusader took off, almost flying over ground. His ears whistled with the wind as he ran, almost soaring over the murky muddy ground. His rough and tumble town of Bludhaven certainly a protector, a hero, much more than Gotham who had Batman. Correction, who had had Batman. The Dark Knight was dead, leaving not only his city without a protector but his family without the father of the grandson. The Wayne manor was home to a broken family now, missing the member who was the reason for the family's very existence.

Tears stormed down pale cheeks as the truly lonesome hero tore across the dank, muddy fields of lower Gotham. He had a choice to make. Nightwing was the hero of Bludhaven, a dark city with no savior before the black hero came along and put hope back into the lives of the people. Gotham had had one of the greatest single, non-superpowered heroes of all time. Batman had been the strongest, bravest, most stubborn and smartest human alive. Nightwing still didn't understand how his father, the best detective and most amazing fighter he'd ever known had been murdered. And now Gotham had no protector. That left a bitter taste in Nightwing's mouth. When he had been brought into the hero world he had promised to protect Gotham and the world. He had a city all his own now, but his first city was in danger. Without the light that Batman brought to the darkened streets of Gotham, largest crime central in the world, the people would fall to despair and once again be swallowed by the fear that came with the darkness.

Nightwing was sworn to protect the people of Earth from darkness and despair, the cruelties of the crime world and all the evil that may come to haunt them. But along the way of becoming his own hero, Nightwing had brought upon himself the burden of divided loyalties. Which city should he protect? Bludhaven or Gotham? Should he continue being the hero he fashioned for himself as a cross between his mentor the Bat and the bird he was born to be, or the Bat that taught him how to serve and protect the people to save him from the darkness?

Here I am, this is me
There is no where else on Earth I'd rather be
Here I am, it's just me and you
Tonight we'll make our dreams come true

A giddy young boy bounced around an immense lavish room, fists pumping the air as he hollered in joy. Twinkling pools of blue settled on the neat, colorful pile laying on the enormous bed. With uncontrolled and clumsy steps the boy hopped over and eyed the pile with eager joy. A hand shot out to the pile, grabbing part of it and wrenching it off of the bed. He pulled on the tight kelvar suit and strapped on the heavy boots before attaching the yellow and black cape. The petit boy reached for the large box that sat on his enormous bed. He opened it and smiled to find gloves, a mask and a his utility belt. He straped it to his hip before reaching inside a pouch, pulling out a compact red disc that expanded into a modified batarang.

"Birdararangs." The young voice chirped into the discussion.

The two adults looked at the young boy with confused expressions.

"I want birdarangs in my utility belt."

The two still bore confused expressions as they shared a look.

"Batman has his batarangs, I want birdarangs since I'm Robin, a bird not a bat."

The adults laughed slightly, but they took into account that it was a valid point to be made by the youngster. Richard heard them talk quietly to each other, ending upon reaching an agreement. They turned to face the boy, who's face was carefully neutral, and Fox gave him a thumbs up. The pale blue eyes of the young boy exploded with happiness as he started jumping around the room.

Richard laughed at himself. He would have to work harder on controlling his emotions if he wanted Bruce to take him seriously. The youth lifted his masked eyes to the mirror beside him. He turned to look at the costume from the back, using his natural flexibility. He smiled before walking out of his room, a very happy smile on his small face.

It's a new World, it's a new start
It's alive, with the beating of Young hearts
It's a new day, it's a new plan
I've be waiting for you, here I am

Robin looked at Batman defiantly. The young hero's costume was torn and his body was littered with small cuts and bruises, though he looked no better then the three other young men beside him. Robin's mask was torn, allowing his mentor and to see just how much the bird themed protege wasn't going to back down.

"End results aside, we are not happy. You hacked Justice League systems, disobeyed direct orders, endangered lives. You will not do this again."
"I'm sorry, but we will."
"Aqualad, stand down." Aquaman ordered his protege sternly.
"Apologies, my king, but no. We did good work here, tonight. Work you trained us to do. Together, on our own, we forged something powerful, important," the Atlantean said as he stepped forward confidently.
"If this is about your treatment at the Hall, the three of yo-"
"The four of us. And it's not." Kid Flash corrected, his eyes glaring at his mentor dangerously.
"Batman, we're ready to use what you taught us. Or, why teach us at all?" Robin asked as he stepped towards his mentor.
"Why let them tell us what to do?" Superboy growled.

The young heroes all let the clone walk forward, finding that they didn't particularly want to be in the kryptonian's way with that look on his face.

"It's simple, get on board or get out of the way."

The heroes all turned to face their mentors, looks of defiance and stubborn will clear on their faces. Neither line of heroes moved, whether seasoned or not. They were identical, each looking as determined as the other. A silent battle of wills ensued between all the mentors and proteges, none wanting to admit defeat to the other. No superpowers could stop the youths from fighting this fight, it was what they were trained to do.

Robin's gaze wavered from Batman's to look at the other mentors. The heroes, sensing another gaze on them, broke away from their protege's and met Robin's unyielding gaze. With a look of harsh, unmoving stone that the bird must have learned from Batman, Robin began to make a definite name for himself among the mentors.

Here we are, we've just begun
And after all this time my time has come
Yeah, here we are, still going strong
Wright here in the place were we belong

Robin drove his R-cycle through Gotham at an almost blinding speed. He didn't care about the fact that he could get hurt or that Batman would probably ground him for life if he saw the speedometer, the hero really didn't care. He was going to spend an entire weekend at the Cave with his friends, his teammates, and was looking forward to M'Gann's attempts at cooking, so long as I don't have eat much off it, he thought. He forgot all about the fact that he hday assign amounts of homework; he forgot about how he hadn't phoned or contacted Bruce all weekend. He didn't care. He would be at the Cave with his team, right where he belonged. And that was enough to make all his thoughts and worries about his civilian life fly out the window.

Ignoring the call from Batman that flashed on his updated bike helmet, Robin turned his bike towards the dumpster and carefully stashed the bike behind it, making sure to turn on all camouflage and safety precautions befor turning to rrthe disused phone booth. A joyous grispawns spread across his face, for once reaching tmas blue eyes hidden I behind the domino mask. With a quick and steady hand the youthful hero opened the booth and stopped at the doorway.

"Recognize Robin, B-01."

"Access denied. Unauthorized zeta-port."

"Authorization, Batman A-02. Override protocol eta-alpha-nu. Recognize, system protocol sigma-tau-lambda."

"Protocol recognized, deauthorization overriden."

"Recognize Robin B-01."

The interior of the booth lit up and with a triumphant, "Ha! Take that Batman! Nothing stops Robin!", disappeared in the zeta-beam on is way to Mount Justice for a weekend of fun.

"Why did I let a child prodigy learn how to hack computer systems?"
"Because, sir, you deemed it a more acceptable pass-time then hanging around with the Flash's protege that one week-end." Alfred answered, a chuckle clear in his tone.
"And why did you let me do that?"
"Because you needed to be taught a lesson, sir. You cannot control that boy anymore than I could control you."

A dangerous look passed across Bruce's face as he look back at the butler, who wore an unfamiliar smirk upon his kind wrinkled features. They shared a small laugh before silence enveloped them again.

"That boy is rubbing off on you."
"On you as well, Master Bruce."

It's a new World, it's a new start

It's alive, with the beating of Young hearts
It's a new day, it's a new plan
I've be waiting for you, here I am

Here I am, this is me

Richard stood at the side of the coffin, his tear stained eyes looking at the face of the man he'd called father. It had taken a week for the League to track down Dick in Bludhaven. No one knew that the newest hero in the forbidden and forgotten city was the colorful acrobat that they had known. No one knew that the Boy Wonder they had loved had turned from what they thought was going to be his mantle and become a new hero, the dark wing that covers the night and brings with it the warmth of justice. When they had found the solo-hero it had been a tearful night in deed. Fresh tears gathered in Dick's eyes, like the Gotham rain that had pelted him, as he thought about when he found out his mentor had died.

The League had sent Nightwing's false secret identity a message, asking him to return to Wayne manor for a meeting of the utmost importance. Dick hadn't understood why they contacted him then, why the letter had been so vague, so non-descript as to why the League wanted Nightwing to meet with them. That should have been the first warning to trouble. Dick hadn't spoken to Bruce in a few years, estranged and all that after a huge falling out over Dick becoming a solo-hero.

The black garbed hero snuck silently onto the Wayne grounds, remembering faultlessly all the security protocols and where each security trap was hidden. It wasn't surprising that he made it to the door without setting off a single alarm. After all, he had help to set-up the security system. With a quick, distinct knock Dick let Alfred know that he was back, but when Dick closed his eyes and opened his mouth to greet Alfred in his usual way the home-coming-hero was struck down with the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman, a broken half-sob. Piercing blue eyes snapped open as he looked at the heart-stopping sight in front of him. The old man before him was not the Alfred that he remembered. No, the man in his memory was a strong, happy and always-cheerful man with a permanent smile on his face, even when he was mad. The broken man standing in front of Dick was just that, broken. The light in the eyes behind the glasses was gone, wrinkles had appeared behind the smile lines and frown lines had come to join them as well.

Dick couldn't think of anything that would upset the strong englishman this way. He had been strong for Bruce when his parents were taken, he had helped the man conquer his fears, his losses, his... everything! Alfred had even helped Dick through his depression and the scaring that came from watching his parents die. There was nothing that could possibly shake Alfred. He had helped his master's son grow up, Bruce practically becoming the englishman's son in pro-

"No. He can't be." Tears began to pour down Dick's face, melding with the almost black rain of Gotham city cascading down from the skies onto his cheeks.

The feeling of his heart breaking into a million pieces was almost mind shattering to Dick. He had repeated over and over that Bruce was not dead- could not be dead. And yet, there he was in the coffin. His family with Bruce had been strange at best and despite the loss of contact between the two, Dick still loved his adoptive father. But over the last two years of not speaking, recently, he had died. Dick couldn't bear the thought of neer saying "Hello", "I'm sorry, I was such a dick. Don't laugh like that!", "I love you, Dad", "Can you help me with my split-kick?", "I missed you"... Never would Dick be able to say those things to Bruce, well he could but they would fall on dead ears.

There is no where else on Earth I'd rather be

Here I am, just me and you
Tonight we'll make our dreams come true

Richard looked at the black costume that was spread out on the table before him, remembering all the experiences that he had had beside the black gigantesque auit in his own colorful kelvar. So many memories of so many moments. A hand extended to touch the once familiar material as tears started dripping down his face. At twenty five years old the man had promised himself that he wouldn't cry. The cave all around him echoed with so many memories of days passed, days that passed so long ago. Sad blue eyes roamed over the Batcave, unhidden by any mask or glasses. He had to deal with this, Batman- no, Bruce, would have wanted him to.

The responsability of becoming the Batman would be a hard one to shoulder, but he had to. It may not be a part of him now, but the black cowl had been promised to him once and was expecting him now. Richard may or may not be ready to don it, but there was no one else who could. It had to be him, it had to be. Too long had he been denying the cape and it had claimed the person he cared for most. Batman had to be who he was, it always was and always would be.