Summary: The night the Grayson's fell, their little boy disappeared. Batman has been searching for him, and suddenly he's in front of him, but he is no longer a little boy. Talon!Dick. Part 2 of Sound of applause.
Disclaimer: Do not own.
His eyes didn't follow the bodies that plummeted toward that ground that day. Nor did he hear the crunch of bones or the loud terrified gasps of the audience that surrounded him. Instead his eyes had been trained on the little boy. His face buried in his hands as his scream pierced through the night. It was a scene all too familiar with Bruce and he knew that that boy needed him more than anything else.
That night had been one of the longest nights of his life, the death shrouded in mystery and unanswered cries, Batman had work to do and he had left with every intention of coming back to the circus the next day to take the boy away. But when he had stepped on the ground again Richard was gone.
Run-away they explained, after experiencing that, who wouldn't want to leave? But Bruce knew better. The way the grandfatherly man Haley would not look at him in the eyes. The way the other circus performers stood rigid when asked about the little boy, how they would avoid him and scurry their children off. No one could tell him anything, or they were too afraid. Something much more powerful was behind this, but what?
The case fell on Batman after the police gave up a week later. No one wanted to bother with an outsider especially since the boys' family was dead and everyone else had left, the case of the missing circus boy was left cold.
With all the witnesses gone, evidence picked up and hidden, and the parents buried; Batman was left to chase after a ghost. Richard Grayson was gone and all Batman was left with was a picture of the colorful clad little boy in his arms with the boys parents flanked on each of his side; along with the memory of his last expression. The face of a boy that mirrored him from a long time ago.
Months passed. Years. He counted them slowly.
Ten years of no answers and Bruce thought maybe he had imagined it all up. The only thing keeping him sane were the articles hidden in his drawers and the worn photo that hung in the bat-cave. Ten years...he would be eighteen now. His thoughts turning to the computer generated face of what the little boy would look like now.
The picture of the aged boy had glowed from the screen of his computer. The boy would have lost his baby fat by now, replaced by the strong jaws that reflected his father, his large blue eyes would have narrowed with age. His face now a man, yet still so youthful.
That was what left him speechless as he stared at the face now. The face no longer on his computer screen but on the teen in front of him. He dropped the mask of the talon and heard the crack as it broke apart. The wind carrying some of the shattered dust into to the air. The roof of the building that overlooked the whole city of Gotham became quiet and Bruce felt himself grow cold. It had been a long time since he'd felt surprised.
The handsome young visage stared back, his face lined with blue veins akin to roots that sucked out the life of the boy it attached itself to. Staring back at him were two pools of blank blue, so different from the one so full of life in his memories.
"Richard?" He whispered breaking the silence and suddenly the sound of the city came rushing back as well as the air that had left his lungs. The young mans eyes held no recognition in the name and Batman was left to dodge as another knife flew by his head.
The boy had grown, and with another dodge Bruce realized so did his skills. The way he maneuvered himself, the fluidity of his movements, the finesse in which he slipped through the air was acquired only by rigorous hours of training. Batman prided himself on his skills, knew that because he didn't have powers, that he'd always had to make up for it with his brains and discipline. But the way the boy carried himself, he admit, was far superior to his own. It was probably because Dick had been trained since birth for it, the moves were second nature, every leap, and every attack was filled with grace and accuracy. Batman struggled in trying to catch the boy, dodging his hits as best as he could. The boy was like wind, every time he thought he had caught him he disappeared.
He tried to calm himself, getting angry at not landing any hits wouldn't make things better, if anything he'd lose the fight. Richard had experience, he was probably trained for days without rest, and his moves showed that.
That thought however, did nothing but boil his blood at what Richard must have gone through. After watching his parents die he was taken away and treated like an animal, he had no time to grieve and no time to heal.
"Dick." He tried once again, raising his voice, hoping to catch the others attention. It was no use of course. It's been ten years since they had ripped out his humanity and Bruce wondered if they had left any shred of Dick Grayson left.
In a swift move the talon had spun out of his punch and landed on his hands, twisting his body in one fluid move that used his momentum to propel his legs out and catch Batman on his chest.
Batman stepped back to steady himself, his only advantage now was his strength and size, no matter how good Dick Grayson was he was still very much a child. He had not yet filled out to his body's true form and would probably never be as big as Bruce.
Another hit, Bruce held himself; he could hold his own with what he had. Like a tree, his foundation was strong; he rooted himself on the ground, not like Dick. Dick who barely touched it, who almost looked like he could harness the wind to help him fly through air.
And then it hit him. A long ago memory of the little boy who jumped out of his arms after the picture had finished, who had turned to him with a boyish smile and ran off excited to show him what he would do.
He remembered how the woman beside him had laughed and called him back, except...she didn't use his name. She called him...
It was a minuscule pause, a misstep that was easily amended by a twist of the body, but Bruce had seen it. And with an opportunity like that he took it. Putting all his strength in his speed he was able to grab hold of the boys ankle, twisting the body at an odd angle where the talon wouldn't be able to stop himself as Batman slammed the body down.
For a moment Dick laid there, almost too stunned to do anything else. The training he had endured for ten years however took over his body. He rolled out of the way and stepped back to face the man who should be dead by now. He was the best they had, why was this man not dead? What had distracted him?
The name had stumbled him. Like a strong current, it pulled at him trying to drown him in memories he had long ago buried. Buried so deep that the pain should have disappeared, should have disintegrated like his soul had after his first kill.
"Robin." He stepped back, but Batman didn't step forward; instead he called out the name again.
Bruce could see it now. The boys' eyes held a flicker of confusion, like someone had woken up a small part of him that had been in a coma for years.
The boy he had been searching for ten years was in front of him. The one he had researched so thoroughly and fervently as if he was his own son and all he could do was call out to him.
"I know you're in there somewhere." Batman continued on, his voice as calm and clear as he tried blindly to reach out to the lost child. "Let me help you." Let me help you this time. Let me make amends, I failed you all those years ago. The words were left unsaid and Bruce grew angry at himself for it. He was being selfish. Was the fact that the guilt at not having been able to help Dick all those years ago that drove him to look for him?
The talon stepped back, his stance unsure of the stranger who called out to him and Bruce knew it wouldn't be enough.
"Dick." Bruce stepped forward but that was all it took for the teen to pull back. The talon turned, unknown to Bruce of the screams that echoed through his head and the whispers of the court that pulled and tore through the remnants of his memories.
Batman stood away, knowing that chasing the boy down would not be the best for now.
So he watched as the thin form slip through the cover of the shadows, his eyes following the figure as it disappeared and Bruce knew this wouldn't be the last time he'd see him.