Title: The Age Of Heroes (1/4) (Unbearable)
Pairings/Characters: Superman/Batman/Robin (See Notes)
Warnings: Character deaths, violence
Summary: What happens to heroes, like the Old Gods and Goddesses, when they begin to
Date Of Completion: December 13, 2006
Date Of Posting: January 11, 2007
Word Count: 1603
Notes: The ménage a trois in the pairings is not necessarily so. The
love spoken of in this story is ambiguous, and the slash pairings (if
any), can be Superman/Batman, Batman/Robin, Superman/Robin, or all
three. I had originally intended some specific pairing info but the
characters, perhaps still protecting their secrets, insisted on doing
it this way. J
All chapters can be found here.
THE AGE OF HEROES
Note: there are two versions of this manuscript. This first version contains secret
identities and other details that are not in the second version. This first version
will be encased in a special vault deep in (whited out) which may or may not be
revealed a thousand years in the future, when everyone who might be affected by these
revelations are long gone, and their descendents hundreds of generations removed. The
second version will be opened in a century, to pay tribute to the brave heroes who were
here for such little time on this Earth.
My mother said it was not surprising that the end of the Age of Heroes began with
Dick Grayson, of the Flying Graysons’ circus act, was the ward of billionaire Bruce
Wayne. Taken in after his parents’ murder, he became Robin to Bruce’s Batman. He was
the smiling, cheerful boy-teen-man who was the light to Batman’s dark. Mom said he kept
As Batgirl, she had many opportunities to observe them up close. She knew of their
strong bond, and she watched the third man in their World’s Finest trio, Superman, also
add that cheerful light. Often she saw Superman and Robin wink behind the Batman’s back,
teasing the grim Bat who pretended to consider it all nonsense but secretly enjoying it.
My mother has a good intuition about people, and she was also one of the finest
superheroes in the Age of Heroes.
She remembers that day like it was yesterday. Batman and Robin were tracking the Joker
and his men after a showy robbery at the Gotham Art Museum. She joined them in the
warehouse district and they split up, agreeing to radio each other when they found the
gang. Mom grew concerned with no chatter at all after an hour. She contacted Batman
who was concerned as well since Robin had not answered his inquiry. She heard the panic
underneath the calm voice of the Batman. Here is her story in her own words:
“Batman and I rendezvoused at a certain warehouse. We had searched several others when
we were split up, and Batman said we should continue our search together. I agreed, as
my feelings of uneasiness were increasing.
“When we reached our third warehouse, the smell of blood hit me as we walked in.
“Ordinarily you get a smell of mustiness in an old warehouse, along with some less
pleasant smells as homeless souls make the structures their shelter. It’s rare that
you’re hit with such an overwhelming smell of blood. It was cloying, a sickly sweet
smell that made my stomach turn. I looked over at Batman and saw that he was affected
“We quietly entered the main room in the building…and that’s when we saw Robin.
“I can barely describe to you his condition.”
Mom paused here, twisting her hands in her lap. After several minutes she lifted her
head and continued.
“His body was broken, as if he had fallen from a hundred stories up, but the catwalks
were not that high up, and he’s an acrobat, after all. Close to retching, I approached
with Batman to see how his limbs were splayed awkwardly, the body beaten to a pulp.
Robin was not breathing, not surprisingly.
“Oddly, his face was untouched. It was as if his attacker wanted that considerable
beauty to be in contrast to the mutilated body. His mask hadn’t even been removed.
In fact, if one ignored the condition of his body, it simply looked as if he was asleep.
“I could feel my chest tighten, and my fear overrode my grief. I looked at Batman.
“He was stone. For several seconds, he didn’t move, then he fell to his knees. He
picked up that broken body, knowing it wouldn’t hurt Robin anymore, and cradled him to
his chest, staining his costume with his partner’s blood. He rocked slightly, back and
forth, back and forth, then lifted his head and the most inhuman howl I’d ever heard
tore out of him.
“I felt dizzy with grief. How had this happened? A lucky break for the Joker, no
doubt, catching Robin off-guard enough to attack him. It was luckier still that he
hadn’t had thought to apply his trademark ghoulish smile on Robin’s face. I noticed a
tire iron tossed carelessly by a crate. The Joker hadn’t cared about evidence. He
wanted Batman to know.
“A sound attracted my attention. Several feet away, Superman was watching Batman. My
shock turned to the realization that he must have heard his friend’s cry and flown at the
speed of light, just about. My god, the look on his face.”
My mother paused here again. She had told the story more than once, but this would be
her final time, for the record. Her librarian’s calling insisted that she leave a
written record, and she had already told Grandfather, the JLA, and now me.
“I called Commissioner Gordon. I was afraid to even touch Batman. My own grief was
tearing me up. I can’t imagine what it was doing to Batman.
“Superman approached very slowly. He touched Batman’s shoulder. The Dark Knight turned
to him, tears streaming down his face, matching those on my face and on Superman’s.
“He’s gone, Clark. He’s gone.”
“That was all he said. I had visions of a wild, avenging Batman. Instead all that was
left was this broken man, which scared me even more than the avenger would have.
“When the Commissioner and the police arrived, their shock was as strong as my own.
Superman gently tried to separate Batman from Robin but he would have none of it. He
became savage, the reaction I had expected earlier. He wrapped Robin even tighter
against him, folding his longer cape around his partner. Superman went to his knees
and spoke quietly, gently.
“Batman, please. Robin needs to be taken care of.”
“The look on Batman’s face said that he, Batman, should have taken care of Robin when
it mattered. He looked down at Robin for several long moments, then shook his head as
Superman reached out his arms to take the body. Instead the Bat stood with his broken
bird in his arms, and walked away.”
Mom paused for a third time, then finished with, “Batman insisted upon staying with
Robin’s body all the way to the morgue, and Superman insisted upon staying with him.
Only when an autopsy was to be performed did Batman permit his friend to lead him away.
After that Batman remained calm throughout Robin’s public funeral and through Dick
Grayson’s funeral. A cover story had been cooked up to explain Dick’s death, a
mountain-climbing accident. I thought Alfred was going to die of his own grief. As
soon as Dick’s funeral was over, Batman disappeared.”
Final pause. Then Mom said in a dead, flat tone, “When Superman found him again, the
Joker was dead and Batman was quite insane.”
That was all my mother would say, closing out her narrative. What the world knew was
that the Batman had disappeared and the Joker had never been heard of again. Bruce
Wayne succumbed to grief-induced madness and was shut up in an asylum, not Arkham
because he wasn’t criminally insane, though Bruce might have found the irony in it if
he had been committed there.
Clark was devastated. He continued on with his career, saving those who needed him.
As Clark Kent, he continued writing his articles but became more withdrawn, and as
Superman he shut himself up more and more in his Fortress of Solitude until one day
Diana went to check on him and discovered his body. It was another shock, particularly
since it was the same day that Bruce had died in the asylum. Diana and J’onn and others
from the JLA tried to discover the cause of death for the most invulnerable being on the
planet but found nothing: no Kryptonite, no magical means, no alien virus or attack or
anything else. Bruce had also died without any discernible causes. It had been a year
to the day since Dick had been murdered.
There was a flurry of activity as there had to be cover stories invented and funerals
attended. The Earth was colder and emptier after the burial of two of the greatest
heroes, though Batman never received a funeral. He would probably like the mystique
surrounding his death, and criminals wondering if he would ever appear again, and the
rumor had spread like wildfire throughout the underworld that he had killed the Joker.
That fact was never officially acknowledged. The Joker had been found dead, but there
was no proof that Batman had done it. He had not been found with the body. The heir to
his mantle had preceded him into death, and so there would be no more Batman, though some
criminals swore that they had seen him since his disappearance.
Batgirl continued for several months, but she was shot in the back during one of her
battles and it appeared she might be paralyzed forever, but an operation removed the
bullet that was perilously close to her spine and after months of rehab, she walked
again. That was when my mother decided to retire as Batgirl. She continued her library
work, then ran for Congress and won. After that career she became a computer expert,
becoming the mysterious Oracle helping out the superhero community.
That job was shorter in time spent than Batgirl or Congresswoman Gordon had existed.
Because, you see, the Age of Heroes was ending.
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