Pairings/Characters: Bruce, Alfred, The Joker, Clark
Genres: Drama, Deathfic
Warnings: References to violence.
Spoilers: Earth-51 continuity.
Summary: Batman is as dead as his Robin.
Date Of Completion: February 7, 2008
Date Of Posting: February 7, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1262
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Inspired by the Batman of Earth-51, who became an assassin after the death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker.
I haven’t read the issue but have seen scans and learned about details, so if anything is not quite right, I take the blame. :)
Batman pulled the cape around his shoulders even tighter. The Bunker was a cold place, and it usually didn’t affect him. He shrugged it off. The Cave had been damper and colder at times, but that was abandoned, just as the Manor up above it was now boarded up and empty, like a mausoleum.
If he sometimes heard a whisper (Bruce) or saw a ghostly, saddened face reflected off a glass display case, he never acknowledged it.
He was no longer Bruce Wayne in his mind. Bruce Wayne still existed in the outside world to keep his money flowing, courtesy of a very clever double hired and paid astronomical sums to live in seclusion in Europe. In the beginning, when none of the superheroes had guessed his true intent, he could still play Bruce. Now, of course, he could not be so easily accessible.
At first it had been so easy. People generally left him alone after the funeral. Losing a Robin to the Joker, beaten to death, was rightly considered a shattering trauma, and the heroes murmured that he needed time to heal. Even Alfred and Clark gave him a wide berth until he was ready to slide back into old ways.
Except that he didn’t.
When he had held the broken body of his Robin in his arms, the smell of blood cloyingly sweet, the shattered bones and dangling limbs under his touch, something had snapped, like a light blowing out. He no longer felt anything: no grief nor anger nor regret. Simply…nothing.
And that had made his job easier. Pretending to feel was easy. He had always been good at concealing his real feelings, and now it was ridiculously easy to conceal no feelings.
He hadn’t gone after the Joker first. That would have been a dead giveaway, ha, ha. Instead he went after non-Gotham criminals, and had not dispatched them each time, either. Never establish a pattern. Never leave a clue.
First he had gone to Star City and had made Deathstroke his first kill. That had given him a measure of satisfaction, the only feeling he had since the Murder. Or perhaps it wasn’t a feeling, but it was satisfaction.
Slade Wilson had been after Dick since the boy had been a Teen Titan. It gave Batman the perfect reason to dispatch him first and cross him off his long list. And there had been a flicker of something deep inside him, under the layers of cold and dead emptiness, when Wilson had realized that Batman was not going to merely defeat him and bring him to jail.
Instead, Batman was going to kill him.
To Wilson’s credit, he had fought even harder and dirtier and Batman had not been able to dispatch him with ease, but in the end, he was the victor.
After that it was ridiculously easy.
There were Gotham criminals mixed in with the ones outside of Gotham. There was Riddler and Penguin and Catwoman, the latter no longer attracting him with her sensuality and he had thought about sparing her, but once he saw the knowledge in her eyes that she recognized him for what he was, he had to rid himself of her.
The legend of a shadowy assassin taking down the bad guys spread like wildfire. Still no one suspected the Bat with his façade of ethics and refrain from killing. Arkham Asylum was filled with murderous criminals whom the Batman had caught and caught again after they murdered, and still he didn’t kill them.
The perfect cover.
The night he killed the Joker, the madman had looked into his eyes…
& & & & & &
“So, Bats, this is the way it is, eh?”
“That’s right, Joker.”
The Clown Prince nodded. “I wondered what took you so long to get to me.”
Well, the Joker was insane. No one ever said that he was stupid.
Batman carefully tapped the tire iron in his gloved palm. “Time to pay, Joker.”
The Joker grinned and cackled his wild laugh.
& & & & & &
It had been a gloriously bloody fight, but the Bat had prevailed.
When he had returned to the Cave bloodied and carrying his trophy (the Joker’s squirting carnation was a good choice), Alfred was waiting. His white face told Batman everything.
It was soon after this victory that some of his colleagues in the Justice League began to suspect something. Specifically, Clark.
It never ceased to amaze him that the most powerful being on the planet could be so easily fooled. Not that he was a fool, mind you, but when it came to his colleagues and loved ones, he wanted to believe. Very badly.
So Batman still posed as Bruce and had invited him to the Cave to explain away Clark’s suspicions…
& & & & & &
“So, Bruce, what’s going on?”
Batman had his cowl off. Clark was always disarmed when he had the cowl off.
“Just the usual, Clark. Fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.”
“That’s my line.” Clark’s tone was grim, however. “Bruce, some of the cleverest villains out there have turned up dead. No clues, just the fear that’s been spread through the criminal community.” His eyes narrowed. “A superstitious and cowardly lot.”
Batman smiled. “I know. That fear is working for whoever this killer is. Do you have any ideas?”
Clark looked warily at him. “I wasn’t sure, until the Joker…”
“That psychopath? The world’s better off without him, don’t you think?”
“Bruce…” Clark said softly, putting his hand on his friend’s arm. “Please…”
Batman calmly took out the object from his inner cape pocket that he had prepared. Clark’s eyes widened and he took a step back.
“Sorry, Clark.” There might even had been a trace of regret in his voice as the green glowing rock touched Clark’s chest, a gasp of pain and disbelief echoing in the Cave.
There was a thump and the bats stirred, flying in a whirl.
& & & & & &
By the time the superheroes had figured it all out, Batman had closed up the Manor and the Cave and had gone to ground in his Bunker, only emerging to target the latest villain worthy of dispatch or any hero that dared get in his way. A note from Alfred had been found in the Manor saying that he had left for England.
Now Batman sat in his bunker, surrounded by the trophies of his conquests. The scarlet cape with the yellow ‘S’ was not among the displays. That was carefully folded and put away in a cedar chest that he had brought with him.
The display case that held the most prominence showcased the Robin costume, an unmarred red-yellow-and-green, the yellow cape cascading like sunlight. A small spotlight shone on it night and day.
The Batman never looked at it.
The rest of the cases were in darkness unless he flipped a switch and lights shone down upon each one.
He sat at the computer monitor, collecting the news that he needed for his Mission.
There had always been a Mission.
It had merely changed.
Once his dreams had been haunted by blood and bone and a yellow cape streaked in scarlet.
He didn’t dream anymore.
Surrounded by the trophies from the dead, the Batman continued his Mission, the only sounds that of the computer keys clicking. There were no living bats here.
Just the dead one.
& & & & & &
This wasn’t Earth-51.
And that Robin hadn’t been Jason Todd.