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Author's Note

Summary: Two boys lose their parents. Each is touched in some way by someone who

Disclaimer: All characters belong to DC and Time/Warner; this is an original
story that doesn't intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome.

Copyright March 2000


by Syl Francis

The cold air whispers with hushed voices.

"--Both dead..."

"--The boy? Saw it all, poor kid..."

It starts to rain again. A soft drizzle falls on the covered bodies.

He sees her white-gloved hand, still clutching the single red rose. A tiny
shiver begins in the pit of his stomach. It grows until his very soul shudders
at what he's witnessed. The world reels. He teeters on the brink of a black

The hushed voices grow dimmer.

Suddenly, his small hand is enclosed by a larger, gentle one. "Bruce, let me
take you home, sweetheart."

He looks up into Dr. Leslie's warm, caring eyes. He nods solemnly. He looks at
her strong hands, a surgeon's hands. A friend's hands.

"Let's go, Bruce..."


A warm hand stays on his shoulder through the whole ordeal. He can't remember
the words of the priest. He draws no comfort from the solemn ceremony. He stares
at the twin caskets. Closed.

Daddy is on the left. Mommy is on the right. He knows because of the pictures.
They wouldn't let him kiss them goodbye. He holds two white roses in his small

A signal passes through the crowd, and it parts to let him through. The steady,
reassuring pressure on his shoulder gives comfort. Together, they walk up the
aisle. Still too small to reach the top of the caskets, he pauses uncertainly.

Suddenly, two strong hands lift him up. Solemnly, he reaches across, first to
Daddy and then to Mommy, and lays a single rose on each casket. His duty
completed, he's gently returned to the ground.

Before his benefactor can move away, he hugs him fiercely about the neck. "Thank
you, Alfred," he whispers.

"You are most welcome, Master Bruce."

As Alfred straightens, he holds out his hand for his young charge. Bruce
hesitates for an instant, then slowly, trustingly holds his own hand up and
feels a warm sensation as it's embraced in Alfred's strong, steady grip.

"Let's go, Master Bruce..."


"Let's go, little Robin!" Mom calls gaily.

"We're on next, son!" Dad says. The family hugs briefly and recites a small
prayer before going up. This is a ritual they've performed every day of his

Together they run out into the limelight.

"La-deeeees and Gentlemennnnnn! Children of all ages! For your entertainment
pleasurrrrrre...the Haly Circus is proud to present--the Flying Graysons!"

The crowd cheers, the band strikes up a tune, the clowns pose in mock horror.

As one, the trio grabs onto their respective ropes and climb in time to the

He flies trustingly out into space knowing that Dad's sure, strong hands will be
waiting for him. He performs his famous quadruple somersault, stunning and
delighting the crowd below. He and his Mom pass one another, she above, he

He grasps the trapeze Mom has just left, and swings out to the platform. It's
time for his Mom and Dad to showcase *their* stuff. He looks back in time to see
Dad's sure hands reach for Mom.

As Mom's weight is added to the trapeze, the ropes break. He watches stunned, as
Mom and Dad plunge to their deaths. As the crowd sits in total silence, he
quickly climbs down and runs to where his parents lie broken in center ring.

Through his blurring vision he sees Mom's hand clasped around Dad's.


He is quickly shunted aside. He sits quietly on a lower bleacher. His tears have
long since dried. Someone thought to wrap him in a blanket. He can't remember
who. Someone brought him a hot cup of tea. It has long since grown cold in his
hands, forgotten.

The air rings in hushed whispers.

"Both dead--!"

"Extortion! Zucco *said* someone would be hurt--!"

"Dicky...He's only nine! What will become of him?"

His mind's eye sees his parents falling, reaching out to each other. Their last
act that of grasping each other's hands, thus going together.

He closes his eyes. Setting the teacup aside, he huddles in his seat, his small
hands covering his eyes. The tears start again.

A shadow descends on him, a huge looming shadow. He looks up, startled. A
*monster* stands in front of him, a man-sized bat! He gasps in fear.

"Don't be afraid, son." The monster speaks in a deep voice, which is more of a
growl. Yet, as frightening as it sounds, the voice resonates with compassion.
"I'm here to help." The man-sized bat holds out a large, heavily gauntleted

He stands up slowly. Still gazing up at the strange creature, he hesitates
slightly. Finally, seeing the steady, patiently waiting open hand, he trustingly
places his own, much smaller one, in it.

He feels a warm sensation as the larger, gloved hand gently envelopes his own.


He stands in the freezing rain, surrounded by his beloved, fellow circus
performers. Before them sit two closed caskets. Dad's on the left, Mom's on the
right. He feels the hot tears start again.

They wouldn't even let him kiss them goodbye!

He feels a warm pressure on his shoulder, which hasn't left him since the
beginning. The minister's words are a blur. He's sure that the pastor said all
the right words, but he can't remember any of the sermon.

A electric charge seems to suddenly go through the small gathering. All eyes are
on him. It's time.

The crowd parts and he begins his long, torturous walk up the newly formed aisle
of friends and fellow performers. The two caskets loom before him. He looks at
the two white roses in his hands.

He can't do it. He can't say goodbye. It's too soon, too final. About to turn
away, he again feels that self-same reassuring pressure on his shoulder. He
realizes that it's been there all along. All through the questions following the
accident, all through his ordeal with Children's Welfare Services, all through
his hunt for Zucco.

He looks up. A pair of dark, brooding eyes meet his. The intense eyes telegraph
a thousand words without a single sound being uttered. But he understands. He
must do this. This is his duty. There is no one else left who can perform it.

Swallowing back the tears, he stands on his tiptoes and reaches up, first to his
dad's casket, then to his mom's, and lays a single white rose on each. His
solemn duty done, he stands back and whispers his final goodbyes.

As he's about to turn and walk back up the aisle, he sees a large, open hand
held out to him. He looks up slowly until his head is tilted as far back as it
will go.

Dark blue eyes that at times burn with the fires of smoldering embers soften
slightly as they gaze into his.

Slowly at first, then with growing trust, he reaches out with his own hand, and
feels it warmly encased by the much larger, calloused one of his new guardian.
Feeling his shattered heart begin to heal, he smiles tentatively.

"Thank you, Bruce."

Bruce's mouth quirks up slightly in a half-smile.

"You're welcome, Dick," he replies. Looking up, Bruce spots Alfred waiting
patiently with the limo. "Let's go home, son."

Hand in hand, they turn and start on their new journey.

The End

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