by Grey Bard
"Commissioner." I hear in a voice grown uncomfortably familiar. I spin and of course he is there. Sitting on the window sill, face cloaked by the amazing robo-cowl. I force myself to relax and seem unimpressed. It comes out irritated. Bruce, why did you do this to me?
"The Royal Flush Gang is out." I say, although I know you've probably told him already.
"I know." he says gravely. I shrug. Why do you keep at this? The day that Batman went to his rest was one of the happiest of my life. Now you could finally get on with living. It did change you. True, the irascible old reprobate with the sharp tongue is less universally charming than the vain billionaire Gotham had known for so long, but he actually was you for a change. Why couldn't you let it go?
"I'm going to need backup." he says. I snort. Some surprise. Never thought I'd be blasé about being able to give Batman back up. The day they gave me this office, I felt so proud. I wasn't just stepping into my father's place, but yours as well. Then you send out some kid in a remote-control suit as your new set of hands. Don't you trust me?
"Where?" I ask, hoping to catch him off guard, but knowing you're feeding him information. Maybe I am a little irritable, but so what. It's not that I'm not grateful for the life of my husband or a thousand other people, but how do you know my men couldn't have handled it eventually? Lots of cities survive without vigilantes.
"Warehouse off fourth street. You'll get the map." he states, obviously subsumed by whatever it is that makes up the Bat. Batman was you, Bruce. He was what you made him. This one won't be, not completely.
"How do you know this?" I ask, already knowing the answer. It is a formality, I just want this over. Something about this one makes me uneasy. Like something that flashes by the corner of your eye and you can't quite make out, but you're sure you could if only it would slow down. I don't know what to make of this one. If you had to pick one, why couldn't it have been more like a Robin? A Drake or a Gordon or even an early Grayson? This one isn't like them, Bruce. This is a street-fighter, a kid with a record, and I don't care how good a cop his father was. This one is worse than Jason Todd all over again, because this one is a survivor.
"I have my sources." he answers and almost smiles. It is not a young expression. The Robins didn't have the kind of mind that lurks behind smiles like that. This one is strong, Bruce, stronger than any of your helpers ever have been. He won't just play Batman, he'll be it and he's got his own agenda. Someday you won't be there and he'll be the Bat entirely. Why do you trust him, Bruce, how can you?
"All right. We'll be there." I say. What else can I do? I turn away in disgust at my own weakness. But I wonder, Bruce, I really wonder. What is there about this one? What makes you so sure?
"Thanks for the help," breathes his voice in my ear, but when I turn again, the voice is gone and the window open. That's really irritating; he reminds me of someone. A lot. Why can't I see who?