“BATMAN-THE KILLING JOKE: AFTERMATH!” CHAPTER 7 (A FAN FICTION STORY)

(I do not own the rights to these characters. Batman and all related characters are property of DC/WB. I do claim ownership of the story!) 

Nightwing stood there. The blood and gore that was Edward Nigma, drenched his hands and suit. The torrential rain fails to wash it away. His hands began to shake as he played back what just happened. He clenched his eyes tight, as if in hopes of sqeezing the memory out of his mind. Then, sense rushed back to him in an instant. 

Far off, Deadshot has Nightwing in his crosshairs. “Night, night birdie.” he smiled, and with that he pulled the trigger. 

If Nightwing had not turned the slightest bit to his left. The bullet would have done its evil deed. But Nightwing did move, ever so slightly to the left, in that milisecond between the pull of the trigger and the bullet zooming out of the barrel. 

The bullet slammed into his shoulder, knocking him on his back. “Ahg!” He groaned. 

“Son of a bitch!” Deadshot cursed as he set up for his next shot. 

Nightwing quickly rolled out of postion and scanned the rooftops. Pushing a small button on his mask, activated the state of the art lenses in his mask. “Track” he stated. The buildings around him pushed away from him, becoming a three dimensional model right before his eyes. A bright line appeared before him. “Pinpoint” he said as he darted for the nearby cover of a chimney. 

“Bricks aint gonna protect you, birdie.” Deadshot smirked. 

BLAM! A bullet blasted through the brick near Nightwings ear. “Damn it!” he cursed as he moved more to his left. “Hold. Re-track.” he said, The 3D display highlighted a new bright yellow track.”Bingo.” he said. “Pinpoint and locate.” The display panned out into a full map and a bright red dot appeared. “Got you” 

As another bullet blasted through another brick next to him, Nightwing jumped to his feet and ran toward the gunfire. “Oh yeah, come at me bro.” Deadshot smirked and just then, Nightwing suddenly tossed down some smoke pellets. 

Deadshot glared through his periscope. Waiting for Nightwing to emerge from the smoke. “Shit!” He cursed, after a moment. He quickly shouldered his rifle and rushed away. 

Deadshot leapt over to the next rooftop and raced for the fire escape, then suddenly, a pair of Batarangs knocked the rifle out of his hands. Nightwing swooped out of the sky tackeling Deadshot to the ground. 

Deadshot kicked Nightwing off of him pulled out a side arm and fired. Nightwing dodged and kicked the weapon out of his hand. He then pulled out his Escrema Sticks and began to pummel Deadshot with them. “You killed him! You freaking killed him!!” Nightwing spat as he beat on Deadshot. Suddenly, Deadshot produced a dagger and stabbed Nightwing in the thigh. 

“Argh!” Nightwing staggered back and dropped to his knee. Deadshot stumbles to his feet and draws another pistol. “Look! A jobs a job kid. Nygma was an annoying prick that stuck his nose where it shouldnt have been. Aint nobody gonna a shed a tear for that dumbass. And please, Forgive me for not giving a shit about how you feel about it. Now.. You weren’t on the payroll.. But im sure Black Mask would pay a couple more millions for a dead former Bat-Boy.” Deadshot Pulled back the safety and his finger started to tighten on the trigger. 

A great rage boiled up in Nightwings body. He lunges forward as Deadshot pulls the trigger, pushing the gun up. BLAM! The gun fires in the air. Nightwing pulls his fist back and deliveres a massive right hand, knocking Deadshots mask clean off. 

Deadshot flew a clear foot off the ground and crashed hard. Nightwing dragged himself up and mounted Deadshot. Seething, he raised his fist up and began beat Deadshot. 

Bop! Bop! Bop! Bam! Bam! Crick! Crick! Crack! 

Suddenly, a whipping sound cracked the air and something grasped his wrist. Stopping his fist. 

Nightwing turned and found Catwoman and her whip stopping his fist. Her face in a state of shock.. “I think.I think He’s had.. Enough.”

[LATER: THE BATCAVE] 

“You know, Master Dick. If You are to continue down this course of activity.. Might i suggest a full suit of Armor? Perhaps titanium?” Alfred joked dryly as he stitched Nightwings thigh. 

Catwoman sat a ways off, gingerly turning in the arm chair. 

Nightwing smirked, “I think titanium would be a little heavy for this line of work Al.” “Perhaps sir. Or maybe you can call your friend?.. The Robotic gentleman. Maybe he can set up replacement parts for you in the future.” Said Alfred cutting the last stitch.

The door upstairs could be heard opening and heavy footfalls coming down the stairs. Bruce had the most severe, stern look on his face. “We need a moment.” he said flatly, walking past everyone without looking at them. He walked up to the batcomputer and paused. 

Selina and Alfred exchanged looks. Alfred packed up the first aid kit, passing Dick a freash bandage and patted his shoulder gently with a reassuring smile. Selina helped Alfred with the kit and they left Bruce and Dick alone. 

Bruce sighed and turned on the Main Moniter. Deadshot’s beaten and bruised face filled the screen. “What is this?” Bruce said after a moment. 

“What?” Dick said as he wrapped his leg, “Its not like you havent lost your temper before.” 

“Fractured Eye Socket. Crushed cheek-bone. Jaw.. Broken in two places. A Fractured Skull! If Selina hadn’t stopped you. You would have killed Lawton!.. You call THAT losing your temper?” 

“Oh come on! Your being a major Hypocrite!” Dick shot back. 

“A Hypocrite!?  Damn it, Dick. Have you learned nothing.” 

“If I Did Kill Deadshot. What great loss would that be, huh?! One less murdering pyscho on the loose.” 

“NO! Not one less..”

“Oh, spare me the old, Kill one become one bull crap! Please. I honsetly dont see just what the big deal is, anymore… You did it and the world didn’t stop.” 

“You dont know what your talking about..” Bruce turned away.

“What Happened to you Bruce? Why are you letting him effect you?” 

“Its not him..” Bruce sighed.

“You sure? Bruce.. The Joker, was a murdering. Homicidal. Lunatic. Brought nothing but death and destruction wherever he went.” 

“Its not about the Joker..” Bruce said. 

“He.. He could have killed.. My wife! Barbara. He crippled her! Left her to bleed out.. You did.. What needed to be done.” 

“It’s Not. About. The Joker.” Bruce said through clenched teeth. His hands shaking.

“Then, DAMN IT. WHAT IS IT?!?” Dick yelled.

“I. KILLED. A. MAN!!” Bruce wheeled around, his face red and his eyes wet. 

Dick froze. 

“I.. I took.. A LIFE! It doesn’t matter if it was the Joker. Or penguin. Or or whoever.. I killed a man. With my hands. I.. Am supposed to be better. The Batman.. Was supposed to be better. And I failed. I failed everything that I stand for.. What THEY stood for. In my eyes.. The Batman.. I.. Am no better then the Joker..” Bruce turned away and rubbed his eyes. 

Dick stood there. No words were said. For long minutes.

“You know..” Dick started after a moment, “When i was.. 5. I was still learning how to swing on the trapeze. My dad, had built a small set for me. So i can learn and practice you know. Anyway.. I was swinging and i wanted to try something i saw my parents do one time. I fell.. Hard. Skinned my knee and hurt my ankle. Hurt like hell. Man.. I cried so hard. Dont remember crying so much, like, ever. My dad came running. I told him what happened, through the sobbing. He laughed.  And then he picked me up in to his arms and said.. ‘Son. Do you know, Why We Fall?’ he said, ‘So We Can Learn To Pick Ourselves Up. And Keep Moving Forward.’ I was 5.. Never really grasped it at the time. Then, years later.. A man I looked up to.. I nearly got him killed during my first time out. I beat myself up for weeks. Didn’t want to leave the cave. And then, that man pulled me to the side after a very rough, forced, training session and he asked me.. ‘Why Do We Fall Down, Grayson?’ I get it now.. But now. I ask you, Bruce.. Why Do We Fall Down?” 

And with that, Dick turned away and left.

Bruce stood there. Quiet. His mind drifted for a moment. And then.. “The kid has a point you know.” Selina said, appearing out of the corner. She slowly walked toward him and grasped his hand. She propped her chin on his shoulder and ran her fingers through his hair. They stood there in silence. After a moment, she slaps his butt and says, “Come upstairs and lets work out that pent up aggression you got there big boy..”

[THAT NIGHT] 

Bruce and Selina cuddled in bed. She layed in his arms, sound asleep. He stared deeply at the cieling. The moonlight shined dully through the window. His eyes, he could feel them getting heavy. He didnt really want to sleep. His mind echoing with those words. “Why do we fall down.”  Bruce sighed deeply and closed his eyes. 

BUMP! A sound came from down stairs. His head shot up. He looked at the clock on the night stand. ‘its too late for Alfred to be up.’ he thought. BUMP! BUMP! The sound again. He quickly got out of bed, but made sure not to wake Selina. 

The noise was coming from the living room. Light was blazing from the door way. ‘The Fire Place?’ He crept to the door way and peeked inside. A man was tossing firewood into the fire place. “The Hell? Excuse me?!” he said demandingly. The man turned around with a big smile on his face. “Hey there son.” 

Bruce’s Eyes widened in total shock and horror. “D..D, Dad?” he gasped. “You ok son? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Thomas smiled. “H-How are you.. Here?” He stammered. Thomas chuckled, “I dont believe i have ever left son. WE, never left you.” A soft hand gentley grasped his shoulder. He turned and met his mothers gaze. “Mom?” he breathed. “Hello Bruce.” she smiled, kissing his cheek. 

He closed his eyes at the warmth of her touch. He opened them and they were both gone. The room was dark. He wheeled around, looking for any trace of them. A cold breeze hit his neck. He turned and saw the front door wide open. A shadow passed the window. He chased it outside. 

He suddenly found himself running down a hill side. Suddenly, he slipt and fell. He began rolling down the hill. He came to the base of the hill and landed on top of something soft. Dizzy, he shook his head and looked. He was a top Jokers body. He gasped, jumping to his feet. He found himself surrounded by police officers. Gordon looked at him with saddness and disapointment. Behind him, Thomas and Martha Wayne stood. “Mom. Dad.” they turned away. “Wait!” 

“You’ve been a bad boy brucie!” Joker laughed as his head dangled grossly off his neck. Bruce gasped and Ran after his parents. Joker’s laugh echoed around him. Soon everyone was laughing. 

“Stop it. Stop!.. Stop Laughing!!” he yelled. 

Silence. He was alone. Darkness. He turned around and met Jokers sick twisted gaze. His head dangled off center. “Hiya Brucie!” he smiled. “Look who finally had that One. Bad. Day! Now, you and me.. Are one, and the same! We all are..” 

Bruce found himself surrounded by all of his enemies. They all laughed at him.  “No. No! Im nothing like you! I cant.. I wont! Im not! I’M NOT!!” He buried his head in his hands.

“No.” a cold voice said. Bruce looked up. He found himself in the street. That fateful street. He looked to his left. The Alley Way. Crime Alley. “No” he trembled, as foot steps echoed around him. He turned, There was the man. There was Joe Chill. He lifted the gun and pulled the trigger. 

BLAM! BLAM! 

“Maybe. Maybe, your more like me?” Joe Chill lifeted his head in to the light, he had the face of Bruce Wayne. 

Bruce looked down at his parents lifeless bodies. “NNNNOOOOOOOO!!” He screamed. grasping at them. His hands becoming more and more drenched with blood. Dark and crimson. He cried. 

“Bruce.” a calm voice said. “Bruce.” He opened his eyes. He was outside the mansion. He looked for who called his name. He gazed over at the family cemetery. A bright light flashed from withing and he raced for it.

“Hello?!” he called, “Who’s there?!” He searched all around for the source of the light. And then he saw them. The gravestones. “HERE LIES: THOMAS AND MARTHA WAYNE” it read. He fell to his knees.

“You remember that promise we made?” a dark voice said. He stood up, turned and standing before him was The Batman. “We swore we would never let anything like what happened to us, happen to anyone else.. Do you remember?” He asked, his eyes glowing red. 

“I.. I remember. And we broke that promise. We failed them! We took a Life!” Bruce said. 

“Bruce.. You must stop blaming yourself.” His Fathers voice said. He stepped out from behind Batman. “You made a mistake. We all do. Dont you remember what i taught you son? Why do we fall down Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.. And learn from our mistakes.” “Our Work is not done.” said Batman. “We have much to do.” Bruce shook his head, “You were supposed to be better then them. We were.. I, was supposed to be better.” 

“You put too much pressure on your shoulders, sweetheart.” His Mother said from behind him. He turned to her. She glowed with a white light. She stood there, her bright white dress flowed like silk. A warmth came from her. “I know what this is.. I know im dreaming. My subconscious. Thats all that all of you are.” He said rubbing his eyes. She grasped his hands gently and pulled them from his eyes. Her hands were so warm. “Do i truly feel like a dream?” she said. A sensation came over him. A chill. A warming chill. She touched his face and he gasped. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He pulled her close and held her.”Mom..” he sobbed, “I am so sorry..  I failed you.” “My sweet boy. We have watched you grow in to such an inspiring man. A man of true passion and purity. We are so very proud of you.” she lifted his head to look into his eyes. “You have changed the world for the better. But you carry so much weight on your shoulders. Too much for one man. You are not perfect. You never had to be. No ever is. We all make mistakes Bruce. But its how we come back from those mistakes. How we better ourselves. How we overcome. That, is how we can truly LIVE with ourselves. Rise my son. Face yourself.” she turned him around to face Batman. 

“You created something that gives people hope. Gives people strength. In a world that takes those very things away from them. You dont have to be perfect. No one is. Your only human. But you are strong. You have the potential to do.. Great things. But i can not make you choose to take back that responsibility. All i can do.. All i really want to do.. Is look at you.. And tell you.. We love you. We are so very proud of you. And we will Always. Always, be with you.” 

“Bruce?” Thomas asked, “Yes, father?” Said Bruce. “Why do we fall down?”

Bruce’s face went serious and stern. He walked up to Batman and looked deep into his eyes. 

“So we can learn to pick ourselves up.. And Keep Moving Forward.” He said. 

His eyes suddenly opened. He found himself standing in the Batcave. The display case for his Batsuit stood empty before him.. 

[THE BOWERY: Downtown Gotham.]
A Gang War was underway. Machine gunfire was coming from both sides of the street. In the middle of all the carnage, was a lone police car. 

“I REPEAT! This is car 2187! We are under heavy fire. I NEED BACK UP DAMN IT! NOW!” The officer called from under his car. Bullets bouncing and pierceing his car above him. “Hang In the 2187. We’re sending units your way now.” the operator called back. “UNITS?! DAMN IT I NEED THE NATIONAL GUARD HERE!” 

Screams erupted over the gunfire. Smoke began to bellow around outside. Then the gunfire began to scatter. Heavy at first.. Then.. Light.. Then.. Silence. 

“The Hell?!” the officer breathed. Gingerly, he crawled out from under the car. The streets were silent. The smoke began to thin out. He coughed and waved his hat around to clear the air. Something heavy landed on the roof of the car behind him. He wheeled around, drawing his gun. Then. Through the smoke. He saw Him. He felt his eyes on him. He lowered his gun. The Radio cracked on, “officer Brent? Are you still there?!” he turned to grab the radio, breathing heavily he said, “Scrap that back up.” he turned back. He was gone.  “Send a clean up crew.” he said with a smile, “He’s Back!”  “Can You repeat that?” said the operator. “BATMAN IS BACK!” Brent cheered! 

TO BE CONTINUED!…

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