Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Dick, Alfred, Clark
Warning: Major character death.
Summary: Spring is bright, but buried beneath winter’s snows.
Date Of Completion: January 3, 2008
Date Of Posting: January 4, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1122
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The entire series can be found here..
Snow blew across the grounds, stinging and sharp on a clear, cold winter’s day.
The leafless trees’ branches were dark against the sky, silent sentinels in this silent place. Stone angels watched with calm eyes, their wings folded as they knelt in the snow.
Splashes of color decorated the graves: greenery, flowers of red, yellow, or pink, tiny shrubs or trees decorated with sparkling garland and ornaments as Christmas was a week past.
Bruce was the lone soul in the cemetery on this day after the storm.
The sky was the startling blue that always happened after a storm. His red woolen scarf, a gift from Dick, kept his neck warm as he stood in front of the polished black stone, dressed in an expensive black coat and fleece-lined gloves.
THOMAS AND MARTHA WAYNE
RICHARD ‘DICK’ GRAYSON
Snow drifted on top of the headstone, forming crowns upon the heads of the angels, glittering on their wings.
He had felt compelled to visit after months away.
He was staying at the penthouse in town, Wayne Manor closed up, dark and cold. Without Dick, the light had gone out. Bruce loved the old place, but he could no longer bear it.
& & & & & &
The funeral had been yesterday.
Bruce sat on the lawn chair, staring out at the sea as warm sunshine caressed his face. Spring breezes blew gently across the lawn. He sensed Alfred approaching.
“It’s funny,” he said, knowing that Alfred would listen. “When my parents died, it started me on my Mission, pushing me into years of training, even traveling away from home to learn. And the Batman was born.” He watched as a seagull swooped down into the water, coming up with a fish. “Now that Dick is gone, it’s time to retire him.”
Bruce continued to watch the roll of the waves. “A beginning, and an ending.” Bruce sighed quietly, his calmness ruthlessly clamping down on the raw pain. “What good is having money if you can’t use it to see the world? Please make arrangements to close up the Manor, Alfred. I hear that Europe is lovely this time of year.”
A beat, then, “Very good, Master Bruce.”
Alfred walked away as Bruce continued to watch the sea.
& & & & & &
Bruce Wayne had stayed for a month after the funeral of his husband. There had been the public funeral for Robin, the Batman’s partner, too. Bruce had not wanted to leave town at the same time that the Batman disappeared.
Even in the depths of hell, he was still protecting, though there was only his family name and Alfred to protect now.
During that month visitors had come to the Manor, and he had welcomed them, appreciating their concern, but he felt nothing. Oh, he especially enjoyed Clark’s visits, which were on a daily basis, just talking, never trying to persuade him to change his mind about hanging up the cape and cowl, just small talk, occasionally superhero talk, even reminiscing about Dick and Robin.
Which was okay, but after the first wave of pain after the numbness, the numbness had returned. Maybe it was because the pain had been so sharp and excruciating that his system would have shut down if the numbness had not come back.
So he was polite, and even smiled a little, and talked with shreds of interest. Clark was a good friend. So were Diana, Barbara, Jim, and, of course, Alfred. Dinah and Ollie would stop by, and Roy was lost and saddened.
After his parents had died, there had been a huge, jagged hole inside of him, filled with throbbing pain that had driven him every minute, every day, every year.
Pain that grew less as the years passed, but could flare out again with no warning.
And light and joy replaced much of the pain, given to him by a small boy who grew into a beautiful man.
Now that Dick was gone, giving his life on the battlefield, Bruce felt nothing.
He was hollow inside, simply going through the motions, a master at concealment. People sympathized for the widower, and Bruce Wayne attended few public events now, pretending with the pretty people, preferring to remain isolated at his villa in Tuscany or cottage in the south of France. And Clark would drop in now and then, and he would keep up with some of the JLA missions via television and the computer. His money still funded the League.
He never looked for news from Gotham.
Bruce stood before the grave, laying a spray of red and yellow roses on the snow. The dark green of the leaves were almost stark in their simplicity, spring colorful on winter’s snows.
A cardinal hopped across the grounds, a scarlet slash of color against pristine white.
Memories tended to drift through his dreams and waking days. Good memories, bad memories, they no longer held any power over him as to evoking tears or joy.
When you were a hollowed-out husk, it didn’t matter one way or the other.
Had Dick been so bright and shining that he had burned Bruce out when he had left him? Bruce needed that fire and warmth, and now there were just embers buried in ashes.
Selina had stopped by before he and Alfred had left on the Grand Tour. He had not felt the pull of her sexuality, the first time ever in his memory. She had smiled sadly and had given him a kiss on the cheek, and had wished him well.
Bruce reached out a gloved hand and traced the letters of Dick’s name. The nightmares that had plagued him for years had finally faded, his parents crumpling to the dirty ground of the alley while pearls and blood seeped around them no longer visited him in the night.
Instead he now saw blood on a red tunic, streaking a yellow cape, and he woke up screaming, but no Beloved was there beside him to comfort him.
He wasn’t quite sure what had compelled him to return to Gotham at the brink of the New Year. He had planned to come back on the first anniversary, but something had driven him to return. He would wander the grounds of the Manor when he left here, but it was a mausoleum now.
No bright childish chatter, no silvery teenaged laughter, no comfortable companionship in the library or in the Batcave.
No love beneath black silk sheets.
Waiting to die.
Waiting to rejoin loved ones long-lost.
And one loved one newly-taken.
Bruce turned and walked away, the only sound that of his boots crunching on fresh snow.