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Thread: Boy (JLU, C)

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    klammed's Avatar
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    Boy (JLU, C)

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    summary: The Justice League's senior members (excluding Hawkgirl and MM) arrive in a vault under Gotham Museum to thwart Morgan le Fey's apparent plans to steal a magic gem. They fail, and Batman has to pay for the consequences of a mother's untimely wrath.

    I will, (I think) be posting rather short segments. I'm still not sure how it's going to work out yet (which is bad), so I'm trying to go slow to prevent a muse burnout.

    here goes nothing.

    edits:
    Changed the title from 'Batboy' to merely 'Boy'.
    Ages of Alfred and Bruce mentioned in Chapter 4.

    It goes without saying that this takes place somewhere before the ROTJ flashback (y’know, the first time I saw that acronym I thought it meant Return of the Jedi… but, uh, never mind that) since Tim’s already been mentioned, and is still pretty much healthy mentally. Due to various episodes that have screened after I began this little piece, continuity places this within the 3rd season of JLU. The original 7 have patched up reasonably with Hawkgirl, the Flash Museum exists, and so on.
    Last edited by klammed; 12-06-2009 at 08:12 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

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    Introduction.

    Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in the Justice League. All rights go to the big Muckity muks over on DC, Warner Bros., and Cartoon Network. My knowledge on all things magical and mystic should also no be trusted.

    This is all for fun.



    Introduction.



    It was a dark, stormy night in Gotham, only we wouldn’t know that because that’s not where our story begins, exactly. In fact, it begins in a dark, sterile room, but let’s get on with the story.

    ---

    He woke up.

    He woke up panting, bewildered, and, though he’d never dare to admit it, rather scared. But “big boys didn’t cry”, so he was left to staring blankly into the darkness. He felt odd, and the darkness seemed to be spinning, which wasn’t really possible, and, and…

    He was seeing stars. Literally. Eyes widening slightly, he glanced about the now discernable surroundings. If the smell of disinfectant weren’t enough to convince him, the little machines going ‘beep-beep-beep’ and the bed he was lying in would confirm any doubts that this was indeed the infirmary of the Justice League Watchtower.

    He got off the bed, wobbling a bit. Strange, everything looked a bit funny, like everything was bigger, or… was that… in the corner? ‘Can’t think,’ images and questions buzzed in his mind, boggling his already confused self. His throat felt like sandpaper, and he needed to pee. ‘Who installs a door knob so high up? What’s the big idea? It’s just a bathroom…’

    After wasting a minute finding the light switch (which was, again, placed unreasonably high up the wall, ‘Must speak to Jonn about this’, he noted), he turned towards the water closet, glancing at the mirror above the sink. He stopped suddenly, started once, twice, and finally just stared. It wasn’t just the fact that it was much higher up than usual (though now he knew that it wasn’t that he’d somehow landed in a ward intended for the larger species of the known galaxy by accident), or the fact that he was in this horribly box shaped hospital gown. No, it was that, that…

    It would be five minutes later that the butler of one Bruce Wayne would find a young boy kneeling on the tiles of a Watchtower bathroom, frozen by his reflection in the Mirror.

    “By, George…”

    A high pitched squeak forced its way out of the boy’s throat.

    “--Alfred?”
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:18 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

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    Prologue.

    Prologue.



    Gotham: The night before. I lied. It does begin here.

    Ever the magnet for trouble in all its weird and not wonderful ways, it should be no surprise that something of the magical realm would occur sooner or later.

    Morgaine le Faye had come to steal a jewel hidden in the Vaults below Gotham Museum. Reputedly more powerful than that of which her son had wielded during his embarrassingly short reign of kiddy terror, it would serve her purposes well. For all her evil schemes to take over the world, she was really just an overprotective mother hen who wanted the best for her kid.

    Of course, her son had recently broken the enchantment that had kept him eternally youthful, the silly child. With this stone, however, she would not only be able to ‘cure’ him of the horrors that befell him after his… miscalculated deeds, but finally, finally, would she be able to conquer the earth for her son, her dear, dear Mordred. Never mind the stories that have been told of its users going insane, or worse. It was all, unimportant.

    Having most of the Justice League’s upper echelon pounce on her halfway through operation ‘Gem retrieval’ was an annoyance to say the least, and potentially disastrous. Couldn't have that now, could we?

    “Fools,” she muttered. Having now pocketed the stone, she turned to face them. “What do you think you will gain from this encounter, heroes? This is a lost cause. You will fail," she spoke coldly, "I am already able to harness powers from all the earth’s elements, yes, even astatine. You may not have the knowledge of what magicks they might posses, but do you really want a demonstrat-”

    A batarang interrupted her, bouncing of the force field that she had created about her.

    “Fool!” she screeched, sending a powerful blast of, as Flash later described it, icky looking purplish ray of magic, that pinned Batman to the vault’s door. The heroes’ momentary distraction allowed her to summon the powers, simultaneously restoring her son’s youth and bringing him to her side.

    “Mother? Mother what’s go-”

    “Not now Mordred. Remember the Justice League? Well, I think you’ll like this…” with that, the purplish icky stuff turned into a hot white icky stuff, enveloping Batman.

    “Head back to when you were most weak
    This I say, so le Faye speaks!”

    A groan of agony could be heard from the Batman, even as Wonder Woman turned on Morgaine, “You evil, vile, witch! You’ll PAY for whatever you did to him, undo your curse NOW!” A swish could be heard, then a loud ‘thunk’, as Wonder Woman’s tiara cut through the sorceress’s robes and whacking the rock out of reach. It flickered dangerously, then turned grey.

    “Curses!”

    Royally peeved, le Faye retrieved the rock and teleported away with her son before any of the other heroes could get their hands on her. Some would say that she was able to do so because she’d absorbed enough mystic energy from the rock, others that the heroes were in too much shock from the spectacle of magic. Batman would’ve replayed the scene over and over again, carefully analysing everyone’s moves and actions, and finally brood over how much he hated magic. If he were conscious, that was.

    “Some anti-climax that was,” murmured Flash, “I didn’t even get to do anything.” He had run to Batman’s side as soon as the light disappeared around him, visibly shaken by the turn of events.

    “Diana, Diana it’s okay. Diana, he’s fine, really, look,” Superman placed a hand on Wonder Woman’s shoulder, guiding her tense frame over to the fallen body of their comrade. Indeed, the Batman was fine, if knocked out. There seemed to be no bleeding, and if Superman’s x-ray vision were anything, there was no internal bleeding either. Still…

    “It was magic Kal, it’s different when it’s magic. Remember when Mordred took over that Funseyland place? Or when Circe turned me into a pig?” she replied, exasperated. Eyes trained on Batman, she barely heard John speak through the communicator.

    “J'onn, we have a situation, sending up our coordinates now. Batman is down. I repeat, Batman is down.”
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:19 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

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    Interesting start, and that battle with Morgan was short, but to the point

    I look forward to more

    Rae
    From the next room came the sound of someone trying to blow a whistle quietly.
    Susan glanced at her grandfather.
    “I don’t remember them asking for anything that made a noise,” she said.
    OH, THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING IN THE STOCKING THAT MAKES A NOISE, said Death. OTHERWISE WHAT IS 4:30 AM FOR?

    Hogfather, Terry Pratchett


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    JAG
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    Pretty good, so far. The spell turned Batman into a kid? I have a feeling le Fey is gonna get the tar beat out of her for that....

    I'm still not sure how it's going to work out yet (which is bad),
    Probably not a good idea to post it yet, then. I know, because I've made that mistake twice now.
    "Of course, all this magic business is just so much bull dust. Isn't it? We civilized people know that such goings on are ridiculous gibber, don't we? Sure we do: we don't trust anything but our good, reliable horoscope."
    -Peter Hathaway Capstick

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    Good story so far. It's nice to see another JLU fic on an otherwise TT board. I like the idea, so keep writing, it's great so far.
    “It’s a beautiful day for the end of the world.” -Slade
    "What, are you going to beat me with your Jesus stick?" -Charlie, "Lost"

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    Chapter 1.

    A/n:



    Rae: Thanks! Here’s more. (and hopefully I’ll have the guts to write a nice action scene later on).



    JAG:
    Probably not a good idea to post it yet, then. I know, because I've made that mistake twice now.
    Yeah, I know, I’ve got this Phantom phic that’s been on hiatus since like forever over on ff.net *scrunches up face* bah, that.



    Arrakhat: Glad yer liking it. *grins*



    Disclaimer: You know the drill. Don’t own the characters of DCU, all rights to DC, Warner Bros and Cartoon Network blah blah blah.



    Copyrights of crappy plot goes to me. whee~!



    Chapter 1.



    “Hey, Diana!” Flash whizzed into view. Five minutes ago, J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter had completed his medical check up of Batman, declared him healthy, and left the infirmary with a slightly worried look. Superman had been called to oversee certain new instalments in the Watchtower, and excused himself. Green Lantern was already answering a distress signal somewhere of in the Pacific, taking with him Hawkgirl and some other Leaguers.

    That left Diana, and Wally West.

    “Mocha? It’s iced.”

    “Thanks Wally, but no. I’m just, just very worried about him this time,” replied Wonder Woman distantly.

    “‘Cos it’s magic? Yeah you’ve said that before. Hey, didn’t you, Big blue, Bats and GL come across her once before? That time when we were all stuck on huge rocks in some weird dimension thing? I mean, everything went back to normal, didn’t it? How bad could it be?”

    Diana didn’t reply, mostly being that by this time Flash had somehow manipulated the drink into her hands. She gave the cup an offended glance, plucked the straw out of her mouth, and sighed. What were her fears exactly? It wasn’t as if he’d broken nearly all his bones again, nor was it that the world was in danger of another take over on the witch’s part. From what she saw, that stone wouldn’t be usable for a good long time.

    Hopefully a millennium or so, not that she’d count on that happening.

    They were in the Monitor Womb, but the images flickering off the screens didn’t seem to calm her thoughts any. Why did she have this, what did they call it, ‘gut’ feeling, that something was about to happen? Something bad.

    “We should call Alfred.”

    “Alfred? Who’s--- oh, right, right, ‘Jeeves’, hmm. Want me to go? You look like you need sleep Wonds. Really, I’m sure he’ll be fine, I mean, he’s Bats! Look at what happened with Doomsday! Or what about that time when he turned the watchtowerintohisownhulkingmassofbatarangishdoom-evenbeingallnobleandlayingdownhislifeandallthoughiguesssupessavedhim and-”

    “… yeah, I guess I’m worried too,” Wally flashed a rueful smile. Come to think of it, he looked like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Diana understood completely, and then some.

    “It’s alright Flash, with his bottomless egotism and methods of intimidation, I’m sure all of us seem to forget at some point or the other that, he’s the most vulnerable, physically, of the lot of us.”

    A moment of silence passed between the two, broken by the Flash.

    “Vulnerable, now that’s a word I’d never connect with him. Heh, shows how much I know, huh?” he shrugged, “Either way, I’m off now. The butler’s got to be told. I mean, what with him being around ‘since the master was in diapers’ and all. G’night Wonds,” and with that, a red blur followed in the wake of the Flash.

    Diana shook her head at the image that had come up unbidden with Wally’s last statement. Batman, in diapers? Even though she had seen Bruce as a child before, that was just… just…

    Something that you wouldn’t want to think about, especially since any person nearby would start wondering if the Joker had blown a laughing gas bomb in your face.

    She smiled, tension slightly released from her face.

    Wally, you sly, sly, man. I never knew you had it in you.

    Somehow, he’d managed to manoeuvre her down the corridors to her quarters during their chat.

    Silly guy.
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:20 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

  8. #8
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    Cool, and funny!

    Rae
    From the next room came the sound of someone trying to blow a whistle quietly.
    Susan glanced at her grandfather.
    “I don’t remember them asking for anything that made a noise,” she said.
    OH, THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING IN THE STOCKING THAT MAKES A NOISE, said Death. OTHERWISE WHAT IS 4:30 AM FOR?

    Hogfather, Terry Pratchett


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    JAG
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    Yes, it was.
    "Of course, all this magic business is just so much bull dust. Isn't it? We civilized people know that such goings on are ridiculous gibber, don't we? Sure we do: we don't trust anything but our good, reliable horoscope."
    -Peter Hathaway Capstick

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    a/n: Rae and JAG, thanks to ya both. Here’s more!



    Disclaimer: Plot goes to me, and the rest DC. Well, DC, Warner Bros, and Cartoon Network really.



    Chapter 2



    The rat-tat-tatatatatatatata-tat that could be clearly heard even from the back kitchens drove Alfred to the front door. He checked a nearby clock. Who in blazes knocks at the ungodly hour of three in the morning? He turned to peer at the Upper floors of the house. Surely Master Tim hadn’t decided to order pizza as a midnight snack? It wouldn’t be the first time, he mused.

    The pains of a butler, indeed.

    “Mister West, I trust this visit isn’t a social one.”

    “How’d you? Oh, never mind…” the Scarlet Speedster shuffled his feet, “Say, uh… uh…”

    “Is something the matter? Surely there is, something of importance?” A tinge of concern seemed to gloss over the butler’s stoic face. Such subtle expressions were usually lost on the majority of the people he’d met. The Flash was one of them.

    Is he angry at me? Yeah, go shoot the messenger. Sheesh, gimme a break! Count to ten Flash… ten… nine… he still there? Flash sneaked a peek from his study of his shoes. Ah… shoot:

    Bang.

    Biff.

    “We, that is, the Justice League, have reason to believe that Batman has been, uh…”

    Injured? Damaged? Disabled?

    “…hurt.”

    Pow.

    “Hurt? How bad is this… hurt?” Alfred’s spine went rigid as he stared at his master’s colleague.

    “Well, uh, physically, nothing, at least compared to what he usually…” he floundered, searching for a word that just seemed to elude him.

    Gets? Acquires? Faces?

    “Sustains, sir?”

    “Yeah, that, but uh, we had a run in with Morgaine le Faye, and she cursed him.”

    “And I thought she only existed in the Arthurian legends of old.”

    “Really? He didn’t tell you about the time—well, I suppose he wouldn’t. Anyway, she said something about “back to when you were most weak” or some sort of hocus pocus. Wonder Woman thought it’d be good to let you know…”

    By now Wally had got steadily more uncomfortable under the valet’s stare. Alfred himself had got steadily more concerned for his ward ‘Master or no.’ It was not customary for the League to inform him of Master Bruce’s injuries, no matter how badly mangled the stubborn man had managed to get himself.

    Of course, the Flash’s choice of words weren’t helping in the slightest.

    “I wonder… Mister West, would it be possible for me to visit Master Bruce?”

    A relieved grin finally spread across the Flash’s face.

    “Yeah, I was hoping you’d say that.”

    “Very well, if you would care to come in, I will pack a few items and be with you shortly.”

    It took a minute for Alfred to walk to his quarters, another to pack a carpet bag suitcase, and yet a third to ponder over a dusty cardboard box that lay atop his cupboard.

    “I wonder…”

    There was nothing of great value in the box, personally anyway, and the box itself had definitely seen better days. He began to wonder exactly why he was thinking over its contents, except for the fact that something Mister West had said seemed to nag at him.

    Hopefully, he’ll at least find some satirical element in my efforts.

    It took him thirty seconds to fish through the box’s contents, place a few additional items in his bag, and hurry back out to the hallway.

    “Shall we proceed?”

    Flash spun around in surprise. Man, he’s as silent as Black, Dark and Moody! Why am I even surprised, eh?

    “Hold on old man, bumpy ride ahead. First we run, or rather, I run us, to some weird obscure location, and then our molecules get diced and rejoined as we’re teleported up to the big shiny thi-- uh, Watchtower!”

    The butler responded with an audible gulp. Flash grinned.

    "I knew there was a reason I'd loathed espionage."
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:22 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

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    Arrakhat's Avatar
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    That was great. I love Alfred and Flash talking to each other. Flash's last comment about the "big shiny thing in the sky" seemed a bit off character. I mean, who talks to Alfred like he's a kid? But anyway, good job.
    “It’s a beautiful day for the end of the world.” -Slade
    "What, are you going to beat me with your Jesus stick?" -Charlie, "Lost"

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    JAG
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    What he said.
    "Of course, all this magic business is just so much bull dust. Isn't it? We civilized people know that such goings on are ridiculous gibber, don't we? Sure we do: we don't trust anything but our good, reliable horoscope."
    -Peter Hathaway Capstick

  13. #13
    klammed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arrakhat
    That was great. I love Alfred and Flash talking to each other. Flash's last comment about the "big shiny thing in the sky" seemed a bit off character. I mean, who talks to Alfred like he's a kid? But anyway, good job.
    You mean as if the speaker is a kid, or as if Alfred is a kid...

    cos I was leaning more towards the 'speaker is a kid' part. (yes, I know, Wally acting immature gets old.)
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

  14. #14
    Arrakhat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klammed
    You mean as if the speaker is a kid, or as if Alfred is a kid...

    cos I was leaning more towards the 'speaker is a kid' part. (yes, I know, Wally acting immature gets old.)
    I meant the opposite, but I see what you mean. And while it does get old, that's the way Wally is. What a goofball.
    “It’s a beautiful day for the end of the world.” -Slade
    "What, are you going to beat me with your Jesus stick?" -Charlie, "Lost"

  15. #15
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    Intersting

    You wrote both characters well in my opinion, and i am intrigued as to what is in the box

    Rae
    From the next room came the sound of someone trying to blow a whistle quietly.
    Susan glanced at her grandfather.
    “I don’t remember them asking for anything that made a noise,” she said.
    OH, THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING IN THE STOCKING THAT MAKES A NOISE, said Death. OTHERWISE WHAT IS 4:30 AM FOR?

    Hogfather, Terry Pratchett


  16. #16
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    Chapter 3.

    a/n: To Rae, JAG, and Arrakhat, thanks. =) To the rest of you people who’re reading this, if any, could you please review? Please? Please? PLEASE?



    *ahem* right, grovelling done, here’s the next chapt.



    Disclaimer: I do NOT own the JLA, Batman, Alfred, or even Alfred’s balding head, as they are ALL the property of DC, Cartoon Network, and Warner Bros. Pity, really.



    Chapter 3.



    “Master Bruce, do get up sir, please.”

    The boy remained rooted to the floor. ‘This isn’t happening,’ he thought. ‘There must be some mistake, some sort of trickery involved, some hallucination inducing toxin.’ Eyes wide, he ran through the various possibilities of what might have happened. The only name he could think of was Jonathan Crane, and he had been locked up Arkham for months now, and he’d know because he’d checked it, yesterd—or what ever day it was before THIS happened.

    He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the impossibility. Purple danced before him, shifting in a myriad of shapes; drowning him… enveloping him… ‘NO!’

    His eyes flew open, eyebrows pulled towards his hairline, mouth agape as images rushed through his mind. Gotham Museum, a tip off… Morgaine le Faye, being slammed into granite… a bright hot light that burned at his retinas.

    Morgaine le Faye: Alternatively known as Morgan, Morgain or Morgana and a slew of related name variants, a powerful sorceress and sometime antagonist of Arthur and Guinevere (courtesy of wiki). That was the 6th century. Now she was just a powerful sorceress with a really weird mother hen complex.

    Either way, anything with her in it spelled trouble, no pun intended. One word: magic. He Hated magic. Absently he wondered if it was magic that was causing him to remain paralysed in a manner most unbefitting of a guy meant to scare the pants off the superstitious and cowardly lot of criminals he faced every night. Maybe the Joker had just snuck in and thrown some sort of concoction in his face.

    Yes, he was still in shock.

    The face in the mirror grew larger and larger, saucer eyed, matching his own. Above, a voice began to speak. He realised he was floating off the floor and began to claw at the air. Something was squeezing him, lifting him, he couldn’t escape. He felt trapped, weak, where was Alfred? Now the face seemed to grow smaller and smaller, till it wasn’t much larger than the size of a penny.

    Then darkness.

    “Master Bruce! Oh dear, you seem to have decided to shroud us in darkness sir, pardon me for saying so.”

    “Alfred! Alfred, there was this thing, and it grabbed me and I couldn’t get down and--” Bruce started slightly as he noticed the close proximity he was with Alfred’s shirt. A very rumpled shirt…

    …Oops.

    “Well sir, I must admit that I’m still trying to decide whether referring to me as a ‘thing’ could possibly be a compliment. Apart from that I would say that Mister J'onzz assessment of your physical well being has been accurate, judging from what, just, went, on,” He could practically imagine Alfred wagging his finger at him in the dark, when lo and behold, one tapped him sharply on the nose, “You’ve never been one for catatonia, I must say.”

    He swallowed. “Alfred?”

    “Yes sir?”

    “This isn’t a dream, is it, Alfred.”

    “No sir, it is not.”

    “And this isn’t a hallucination either, is it.”

    “Quite right, sir.”

    “It’s real.”

    “Indeed.” The slight quiver in the butler’s normally cool baritone was all it took to finally, finally, confirm his fears. After all, denial in the face of cold, hard, facts was never a strong trait of his.

    Pale light shone through the east windows of the Watchtower as it orbited past the moon. It passed through the infirmary, illuminating a mirror which held the reflection of a small boy. His head was bowed, and his shoulders were rigid, very much reminiscent of a portrait that had been painted in Alfred Pennyworth’s mind one night, long ago, in Wayne Manor.

    “I’m sorry, Master Bruce.”

    Only this time, he feared his words were meaningless.

    *********

    edit: Changed the title from 'Batboy' to merely 'Boy', mostly to prevent it from seeming too comic/humourous/funny/whateverfloatsyourboat. If you have any comments on the change, or even the old title, do share.
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:23 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
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    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

  17. #17
    Arrakhat's Avatar
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    Interesting. I'd have liked to see a bit more emotion between the two, but it was a good installment."Bruce started slightly as he noticed the close proximity he was with Alfred’s shirt. A very rumpled shirt…"

    That was great. Oh, and your change to the title of the fic insults my honor. (Kidding). But seriously, I liked the original title. It misled me and surprised me to learn just who the "Batboy" is.
    “It’s a beautiful day for the end of the world.” -Slade
    "What, are you going to beat me with your Jesus stick?" -Charlie, "Lost"

  18. #18
    klammed's Avatar
    klammed is offline the fool.
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    Oh you'll see more emotion later, lol, but I'm keeping Alfred rather unflappable for now.

    Title-wise, 'Batboy' doesn't seem to fit in with my 'vision' of this story. Or maybe it might, in the end, who knows? (Guess there'll probably be another change once the story's done.)

    You've basically got a kid in shock here, with the story mainly from his POV. To other readers out there, if you think that was brought feasibly 'okay' across, do tell.

    And Arrakhat? Thanks.

    (sidenote: will be away for about a week, so no updates)
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
    -----
    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

  19. #19
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    Arrakhat is offline Trust me, I'm a doctor
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    Any time Klammed, it's fun to read the fics here and give my input. If I wasn't so lazy I'd start one of my own, but maybe I'll get around to it some day in the distant future.
    “It’s a beautiful day for the end of the world.” -Slade
    "What, are you going to beat me with your Jesus stick?" -Charlie, "Lost"

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    Chapter 4

    a/n: Bah. Batboy. Boy, Batboy, Batkid, Nightboy, BLAH. We’ll find out when this is done. *grins*. Never was good at titles. Arrakhat, I hope I’ve delivered what ye had requested. Prithee tell.



    Sidenote: Listened to ‘Crash and Burn’, ‘Two Beds and a Coffee Machine’ by Savage Garden, ‘Iris’, ‘Think about me’ by Goo Goo Dolls, ‘Vindicated’ by Dashboard Confessional, ‘Numb’ by Linkin Park and ‘Bad Day’ by Daniel Powter while writing this. Whether they had any bearing on this piece is.. uh, unconfirmed.



    Sure makes for a long(er) chapter though.



    Disclaimer: blahblahblah, you know the rest.



    Chapter 4






    Youth- noun: the freshness and vitality characteristic of a young person.

    Most certainly not found in the individual before Alfred Pennyworth.

    Bruce Wayne sat perched on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall, as he had been for the past three hours. No amount of coaxing on the part of his butler had managed to get him to consume even one morsel of the blasted cafeteria food.

    “This is not good for you, sir, being like this.”

    “Leave me alone Alfred.”

    The dull syllables seized the old man’s heart. It had always pained him to see his young master fall down the dark path to the murky pits of his mind. Heaven only knew what thoughts constantly returned to torture him, mostly in his dreams, always in his darkest hours. He had always been too introspective, too independent for his own good, only relenting miles past the brink of exhaustion. But this, this was something completely different.

    To see him as he once was twenty, thirty odd years ago, so fragile, so small, defeated, it bore down heavily on Alfred's shoulders. Suddenly, he felt all of his fifty-seven years and eight months. His muscles grew heavy, chest tightening, supporting a weight science would say were merely mental, though at times like this he would disagree.

    Indeed, he would disagree. Matters of the heart categorised by science were merely excuses for those who did not wish to come to terms with their humanity, such as his ward.

    He knelt before the prone boy, beseeching him to initiate eye contact. Bruce’s chin quivered, but his eyes refused to waver. Alfred placed a gentle hand on his knee, “Master Bru—”

    “I said, leave me ALONE!” Bruce’s vision blurred as tears pricked the corners of his eyes, slowly growing into a pool that threatened to spill over. He blinked at them angrily, willing them away. They did not.

    “I know h-,” a rasp cut through the room, breaking the butler’s speech once again.

    “Know what Alfred? You think you know everything there is to know about me, don’t you? You’ve even said so yourself,” Kicking away Alfred’s arm, he jumped and ran to the far end of the room, spinning around to meet his guardian’s stunned face.

    “You know NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!” He screamed. How would, how could he know? He wasn’t tormented by his parents’ murder near every night; he wasn’t rife with thoughts of the safety of his teammates even as he sat in his office at Wayne Enterprises. He hadn’t been turned into a kid, twice, by the same person. His largest failure wasn’t manifested in the flesh, in person, after twenty-nine years.

    He raged on.

    “This was, and is, my greatest weakness. You heard about what Morgaine had said. This was my crime, my murder, my responsibility. I killed them Alfred, I killed them! Just like every other innocent that I could not save, that I will not save because of this accursed state!”

    Pain was etched into every fibre of his being as memories long past, suddenly afresh, washed over him, dancing before his eyes, taunting him.

    The shadowy man, the barrel of a pistol, the finger triggering the gun, the bullet spinning, spinning, spinning into his father’s jacket, dark red spotting his tie… then his mother’s hat falling into the grime and filth, the pearls of her necklace bouncing one by one into gutters, under dumpsters, off her still form. Blood, blood everywhere, the acrid smell of gunpowder in wisps about his head.

    He drew his arms around himself, pouring out as much self loathing as was possible, hunching over as if to prevent the world from seeing his now wet cheeks. Like a cornered animal, he watched once again as the images played before him, swallowing, enveloping him once more.

    Alfred himself was having difficulty maintaining his composure as he watched his long time friend tear himself apart emotionally. He had never known how to comfort the man he had long begun to think of as his son. Perhaps that dreadful night was his failure also, along with all the years that would follow. Why else would Bruce Wayne decide to don a cape and cowl in the likeness of a rat with wings every night to fight against the psychopaths, murderers, and other scum of the earth?

    Surely, if he had managed to be a good surrogate father, he would’ve been able to ensure the emotional and mental security that his ward had required at that time. He would have been able to prevent the lad from constantly throwing himself into the line of fire… through the most unconventional of means.

    He would’ve been able to fulfill his duty to the late Thomas and Martha Wayne in bringing up their son with the greatest of care, devotion, and love, provide all forms of nourishment that a scarred child would require. Most children who had gone through such ordeals were able to get on with life with the right support and care, he’d read about them, hoping in vain that the Master too, would heal.

    Alas, he had not, merely channeling the grief and suffering into an unholy terror of the night, stalking through the shadows to mete out justice to poor fools who had strayed from the law.

    Surely, Bruce’s forsaking of himself too was his failure. True happiness would never again be attained, savoured, allowed. It was too late for that, far too late. Never again.

    He had failed the Wayne family.

    Alfred Pennyworth closed his eyes as the melancholy thought swept through him.

    How does one comfort a person who mourns the loss of age?

    Slowly he arose, arm outstretched to the wrecked boy before him. Bruce watched the man, his tears forming a crooked kaleidoscope view of the man who had been there, just there for him through the years, fixing broken bones, wiping silent tears, waiting for him night after night of backbreaking work.

    But what could he do now?

    “You can’t I help me… can’t, can’t, help them… someone…”

    As the Butler neared him slowly, he continued his litany, becoming more and more incoherent as sobs mixed with words in a wretched symphony of sounds. Again, Alfred knelt before the boy, his eyes mirroring his own grief.

    “I couldn’t save them… I didn’t… I could’ve… if I’d have been old enough…”

    “Come now sir, please don’t shoulder a blame you play no part in.”

    “…strong enough, quick enough, oh Alfred!” he cried, his tears now streaming past his cheeks and staining the butler’s waistcoat as he fell into the old man’s embrace, crying into the shoulder of the arm he had so viciously pushed away moments earlier. “I murdered them Alfred. Don’t you understand? Can’t you see? I did play a part… if I hadn’t gone… if I hadn’t wanted to take the shortcut… if…”

    Alfred remained silent. What was there to say? What words could comfort the lad now? He tightened his grip on the boy, whose knees now buckled, scooping him fully into his arms. As he cradled him, Alfred wondered what would have happened if he had been able to do this all those years back.

    Would his Master’s pain have dissipated? Would he have been able to overcome his grief?

    So many ‘if’s… but maybe now there would be an answer. Perhaps this ‘curse’ was a ‘blessing’ in disguise. Perhaps now he would be able to right all the wrongs he had committed during the upbringing of this child.

    “You know Alfred, Mordred said ‘You don’t know what it’s like to be stuck, as a kid!’ I… I guess I do now, huh? And by his own mother too… Alf…”

    “Hush, child, rest now. I will prepare a bath, some food, and then we’ll see what we can do.”

    As the boy’s eyelids fluttered shut, pulling him into a slumber that with hope would not turn fitful, Alfred pondered. He pondered on a boy who never had a proper chance at childhood, a boy who had grown up too fast, a man who had never truly grown up…

    …Perhaps.

    ----------

    edit: changed their ages and references to timeline. Batman is now 'thirty-seven', as I view him to be within the present JLU timeline.
    Last edited by klammed; 03-19-2006 at 09:25 AM.
    "My brain is not a nice place to be"
    -----
    WFWC:
    A Lonely Place (BB)
    Boy (JLU)! [complete]

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