BATMAN AND ALL CHARACTERS AND SETTINGS ARE THE PROPERTY OF DC COMICS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, I THOUGHT OF THE STORY BUT THESE AREN'T MY PEOPLE.
“—in other news, Gotham Bank was saved from Clayface today when Batgirl came to the rescue. Clayface has been taken into custody. “
“Woah! Did you hear that Alex! Oh my God!” Max was going hysterical, “Batgirl! Batgirl was there! Do you think Batman was too?”
I look up from my bowl of Cap’n Crunch and stare at the TV. Then turned to my younger brother, Max.
“I don’t know Max. Batman’s busy with the Joker and I heard Falcone’s son is back in town.” Max just sighed and finished his breakfast.
I knew everything about Batman. Except, of course, who he really is underneath the cowl. Max and I watch the news every morning waiting for any bat related story.
I’ve had an interest in Gotham’s costumed heroes ever since the day some gangs came into my high school during the huge Gotham gang war a few years back. They were looking for this girl named Darla Aquista. Her dad was a Mafioso. Anyway, some of my classmates and I were hiding in the cafeteria when some gang came in looking for her. Then Nightwing showed up out of nowhere and took them down! It was amazing! He was graceful and he fit those tights well, if you get what I’m saying.
Since then, both Max and I have been reading every bat story we could get our hands on. I’ve also been taking karate lessons. I want to learn to move like them, and in a place like Gotham, knowing self- defense wouldn’t hurt. I get my black belt in two weeks.
“Alex!” my father yelled coming down the stairs, “you’re going to be late for l’escuela!” he warned.
“Yes, papi. I’m just about done my cereal.”
“Bueno. Don’t forget, I have a client coming in at 3 o’clock and your mother has to take an extra shift at the hospital. That means you have to pick up your hermano from school.”
My dad likes to mix English with Spanish all the time. Hermano means brother.
“Si, papi.” I smiled showing my straight white teeth. I have just recently got my braces off. “And Max,” I turned to my brother quickly whipping my naturally wavy brown hair, ”don’t keep me waiting! We’re catching a movie once I pick you up.” I sternly looked at him just to give him a scare then pulled a quick smile.
“Don’t worry, Alex! Get to school!” Max joked.
“’Bye, bye!” I cheerfully walked out the door.
In Gotham, the best way to travel is by walking. Others would probably call me crazy and send me to Arkham but I know that Gotham isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’d be a great city if we didn’t have the kinds of Joker and Two-face. Others would take the bus or metro. I enjoy walking. Breathing in Gotham’s polluted air but feeling the city, understanding her.
I get to school in time, constantly looking at the clock as the day passes.
“Alex! Alex! Are you listening to me?” I look up to see Zoanne, my best friend.
I zoned out. “Yeah Zo, I heard you.” I replied.
She was talking about Tim Drake/ Wayne, her ex- boyfriend. He broke up with her one night on the phone and didn’t show up to school after that. Nobody’s heard from him since. But the other day, Tim showed his face again. He became the new CEO of Wayne Enterprises. The multi-billion dollar company belonged to his adoptive father, Bruce Wayne.
“Well? Do you think I should call him? Apparently he’s engaged to Tam Fox.” She asked.
“I don’t know Zo. I mean he did break up with you over the phone. Do you still want to get together with him?”
“That’s a good point. I’ll think about it.” She said with uncertainty.
The final bell rang. I quickly got up. School in general was a complete bore to me. I already knew everything we were studying. After the gang war, my dad took me out of school and home-schooled me. Last year, I finally convinced my dad and he re-entered me into Gotham High School.
“I gotta go, Zo! I have to pick up Max from school. See you later!”
“Bye Alex! Thanks for the help.” She smiled.
I rushed down the halls when I heard my name being called. I turned around to see Jake running towards me.
“Hey, Alex!” he panted, “I was wondering if maybe, you know, you wanted to go out sometime, you know, with me?” He was nervous, which was odd considering he’s the hottest guy in school. His bright blue eyes sparkled.
I smiled. “Sure, Jake. That sounds good.”
“Really? Uhh, okay. I’ll pick you up at 8?”
“Yeah. Sounds like a date.” I smiled and pushed my hair behind my ear. “I’ll see you tonight Jake. But I really have to go.”
I walked outside towards Max’s school. He was only in the fifth grade but he was smarter than all the kids at his school since papi home-schooled him too.
As I walked up to the school I started to hear some sirens. What is going on? I thought. Ten police cars were in front of my brother’s elementary school along with fifteen ambulances and a fire truck. My stomach began to ache and my heart jerked. I had a horrible feeling that Max was hurt.
I quickly ran towards the police tape that was used to make a perimeter.
“Ma’am, we’re going to have to ask you to step back.” The officer cautioned.
“Where’s my brother?” I could feel the panic in my voice. “Please, officer! My brother! Is he hurt?”
The officer turned to the officer beside him. “Call the detective over here.”
Oh God. My heart sank.
“Ma’am, we will help you in a minute. Please step to the side.”
I moved over a little and waited for the detective to come.
I saw a well-dressed man come in my direction. I felt a rock in my throat. I couldn’t breath.
“Miss?” I looked up at the detective.
I cleared my throat, and whispered, “yes?” I couldn’t look at him.
“What is your brother’s name?”
“His- his name is Max. Max Gonzales.”
He looked at the sheet of paper in front of him. His eyes dropped automatically. Something’s wrong.
“Officer! Officer! Is my brother hurt? Is he alright?” I kept praying under my breath.
“Miss Gonzales. I’m very sorry to say-“
“NO! NO!” I was screaming. Everyone’s eyes were on me. I tried holding in the tears but I couldn’t help it. I was sobbing. I couldn’t breath.
“Miss Gonzales?” The detective put his hand on my shoulder.
I shrugged his hand off. “What happened?” I said in between sobs.
The detective didn’t look me in the eyes, “Two armed men entered the school. We believe they were looking for a teacher. We believe her name is Helena Bertinelli.”
“Yes,” I whispered. “I know her. She is, I mean, was my brother’s teacher.” Saying ‘was’ killed me. I was dying. My hermano was dead.
“It turned out she wasn’t at school today. She was home sick. We believe in a fit of rage, the gunmen opened fire on your brother’s class.”
“Did you catch them?” I had revenge in my voice.
“We only caught one. The other snuck away. We’re still searching the school for him.”
“What are their names?” My grief was quickly turning into anger.
The detective noticed my tone changing.
“We cannot disclose that information at this time. I’m sorry for your loss.”
I lowered my gaze. “Where is he?”
“I’m sorry?” The detective asked confused.
“Where is my brother’s body?” I clarified.
“Oh, he’s in that ambulance there.” He pointed.
I walked towards it slowly. Tears running down my cheeks. No paramedics were blocking it so I went into the back of the ambulance. My brother. My Max. My hermano was in a body bag. I couldn’t let him leave me like this. I unzipped the bag and saw his body. I clasped my mouth with my hands so I wouldn’t scream. What have they done to my beautiful Max! He didn’t have a single bullet wound. No, he had possibly hundreds. His body was ripped apart. I brought myself closer to him. I zipped the body bag back up and hugged it. Then a thought crossed my mind, where was Gotham’s so-called caped crusader? Where was Batman? Robin? Red Robin? Batgirl? Nightwing has been out of the picture for a while. Little children were massacred and they didn’t even show up to help?
I sat in the ambulance in tears. Sobbing. Holding the body bag, that contained my dead brother, in my arms. Mami and papi are going to be heartbroken.
“Miss? Miss?” I looked up from my dead brother and saw two paramedics outside the ambulance.
I cleared my throat and sniffed the snot coming out my nose.
“Yes?” I replied. My voice was shattered.
“We’re sorry but we have to take him to the morgue. We will contact you and your family as soon as we have run an autopsy.” The paramedic reassured me.
I held tight to Max and then let go. I walked out of the ambulance towards the benches in front of the school. I sat there for God knows how long and was thinking. The men that did this to my baby brother are going to pay. No justice the police or Batman can serve will be enough. They have to pay!
I looked at the sky and it was getting dark. What time is it? I start walking home. I find Jake standing outside my door.
“Alex? Hey! What’s up? Its 8:30. Do you still want to go out?”
“Not now Jake. I-“ I was on the brink of tears, “I can’t. Please.”
I walk into my home and slam the door behind me. I find my parents sitting in the family room. Crying. I have never, in my seventeen years of life, seen my father cry. Trust me, when you do see daddy cry it means so much more. Because your dad is the rock, he doesn’t show too much emotion and he’s the strongest one. But I looked at my papi and I didn’t know what to do. When you see the strongest man you have ever met with tears in his eyes, you have no reaction; you can’t help but stare.
I run to my padres (parents) and I hug them and I just cry. We sit in silence and tears running down our cheeks for over half an hour. I know what I have to do. I stand up and turn to my padres: “I need to get some air. I’ll be home before 11.”
My parents don’t react. I take their silence as permission. I have to get answers.
GCPD (Gotham City Police Department) headquarters is two blocks away from my house. I walk into the building and I see officers running around. On the wall to my right I see the pictures of past commissioners of Gotham and at the end of the hallway I see the present commissioner: Commissioner James Gordon. Possibly the best we’ve ever had. From across the room I see the detective I talked to earlier.
“Detective!” I yelled.
He didn’t answer. I turn to the lady sitting at the desk to my left. She looks like the secretary or something.
“Excuse me,” I get her attention. “What is the name of that detective, there?” I point towards him.
“Oh, St. Nick?” she answers my question with a question.
“I’m sorry?” I asked in confusion.
“That’s Detective Nick. We call him St. Nick.”
“Oh. Thank you.”
I walked towards “St. Nick.”
“Detective! Detective Nick!” I finally get his attention.
“Miss Gonzales? What are you doing here?” He questioned.
Shit. What is my cover story? I need to get into his office. I need access to a GCPD computer.
“I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute? About today?”
“Uhh sure. Here my desk is right around the corner.” Replies the detective.
We walk to his desk. I see the infamous Sgt. Harvey Bullock snacking away on donuts but no sign of the commissioner. He’s probably on the rooftop with Batman. Once I find the information I need from the Detective’s computer I’m going to go up there. I need to have a chat with the caped crusader. If only Max was here. Sneaking around the GCPD would have made him so happy.
“Would you like coffee or water? A donut?” The detective kindly asks me.
He won’t make too much eye contact with me. I’ve learned enough about human psychology to know what’s going on through his head. Detective Nick feels guilty. Typical feeling for cops when they witness a major crime and then have to tell the victim’s family what happened.
“Sure. I’ll have some coffee please.” Hopefully that takes him time to get me so I can access his computer.
“Alright,” he faintly smiles. “I’ll be back in a minute, knowing Harvey Bullock, the coffee’s probably done so I’ll brew us both some.” He smirked. I smiled.
I watch him as he walks away. I shift my eyes around to see if anyone’s watching. Everyone’s running around not paying attention to me. Good. I move the mouse and I find the Detective has already started a police report on the school shooting today. I just need the names. I scroll down the document and find two names: “Marcus Wright was taken into custody and his partner, Darin Blake has not been found yet.” I see the Detective making his way back with two cups of coffee. I quickly turn the monitor off.
“Here ‘ya go.” He passed me the cup of coffee. “So, Miss Gonzales-”
“Please call me Alex,” I interrupted him.
“Okay, Alex. What did you want to talk about?”
Good question, detective. What did I want to talk to you about? I quickly make something up.
“I- uh- I wanted to apologize. For today, I mean. I lost it and I yelled at you and it wasn’t your fault and-“ I was on the brink of tears when the detective stopped me.
“Alex, don’t apologize. The- the news I shared with you wasn’t pleasant, especially for you. He was your brother.”
The detective stopped talking and looked at his coffee. He then looked at me straight in the eyes, and said in a whisper,
“I should apologize to you. I’m- I’m sorry, Alex.”
I had tears running down my cheeks; I was crying. Without realizing, I walked closer to the detective and hugged him. I could feel the detective’s hands hesitating to wrap around me.
“Don’t worry, we’ll catch who did this.” He said as he finally wrapped his arms around me.
I let go.
“Listen, why don’t you sit down for a few minutes; let the tears run.” The detective advised.
I silently sat down in his seat. He walked away slowly. The names Marcus Wright and Darin Blake kept running through my head. They have to pay. No, don’t cry I told myself. I looked up at the clock. It was 10 o’clock. I still have one more thing to do before I go home.
From the detective’s seat, I searched around the police department with my eyes looking for the door that leads to the rooftop. I spot a door that says “Exit” on it. I’m guessing that will lead me to the roof. I sneak away from the detective’s desk towards that door. I make sure no one sees me. I reach the door and quickly, without making a sound, enter it. My adrenaline is still rushing. I run up the stairs and quietly open the door to the roof. Its dark and I can barely see a thing. No one is up here either. Good.
To my right I see a tarp on the ground. It is huge and looks like it hasn’t been moved in a long time. Right next to the tarp is the device the commissioner uses to call Batman: The Bat-signal. The communicator between Bats and the GCPD is about five- no, six times by size. I wonder how long it’s been on this roof. How long has Commissioner Gordon been Commissioner? Nonetheless, I turn the signal on.
I wait a minute but it feels like a day. Waiting for Batman to show up so I could give him a piece of my mind.
“What do you think you’re doing?” says a raspy voice coming from behind me. The rasp sounds forced.
I freeze. Oh God. His voice sounds like someone in his early 20s, maybe even a little younger. Could it be Robin? I don’t turn around. I close my eyes wondering exactly what he asked me: ‘what am I doing?’
I turn around. It’s not Batman. It’s Red Robin. The costume and name is pretty new to Gotham but Max and I theorized that Red Robin used to actually be Robin. He looks a little familiar. Although, I only see his mouth and chin but it’s not that that’s familiar, it’s his built.
“I’m- umm- I’m looking for Batman.” I can barely speak.
He walks towards the signal and turns it off.
He hesitates. “You do realize that this signal isn’t a play-toy, right? You can’t just turn it on so you could talk to Batman. And only the commissioner can touch that switch.” He points to the bat-signal.
I lower my gaze. He’s right. Who am I to think that I could come up here and turn on the forbidden signal?
“Alex!” the voice belongs to Detective Nick. “What are you doing up her?”
“Just one second, detective.” I snap back at him.
“Miss Gonzales,” Red Robin flinches. “I need you to come back into the building. You’re not supposed to be out here.”
“Wait,” says Red Robin. “Alex Gonzales?”
I stare blankly at him. “Yeah?”
“I want you to know, we are looking for all the killers of your brother.”
How did he know? Well, of course he knows, he has to know!
“What do you mean ‘all’ the killers? One of them is already in custody and the other snuck past the incredible GCPD.” I said sarcastically. I don’t even bother looking at Detective Nick.
“Alex, if you don’t come with me I will have to arrest you.” Detective Nick sternly warned.
I turn to Red Robin. I felt like I was going to explode with anger.
“AND WHERE WERE YOU? HUH? NOW YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THE KILLERS OF MY BROTHER? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THOSE BASTARDS SNUCK INTO HIS SCHOOL AND SHOT HIM TO BITS? AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE GOTHAM’S PROTECTORS?” I yelled.
“IT’S- IT’S YOUR FAULT! YOURS!” I was throwing fists at his chest.
I could feel the Kevlar of his costume. I collapsed in tears. Sobbing.
Nobody touched me. Red Robin and the detective let me cry it all out. I felt like I was going to pass out.
“Detective, I’ll take her home.” I heard Red Robin say.
I felt my body being lifted of the rooftop of the GCPD. I didn’t open my eyes. I think I fell asleep.
I wake up the next morning with the sun shining through my bedroom window.
I look at my alarm clock; it’s 7:30am. I’m going to be late for school! Why didn’t Max wake—oh no. I- I forgot. How could I forget?
My brother is dead.
I walk downstairs to the kitchen to turn on the news. My parents are still in their room. My mom’s friend is taking her shifts at the hospital and my father called work early this morning to take the week off. I don’t even bother getting ready for school.
“—School is out for the next week at Gotham Elementary as students recover from yesterday’s shooting. Three children were killed and five others suffered minor wounds. However, all the children are suffering from the emotional scars and the loss of their classmates.”
I skip breakfast completely and go up to my parents’ bedroom.
“Mami. Papi. We have to go. The funeral is today.” I remind them.
My mother is still lying in bed and my father is sitting in the chair beside his dresser looking at the photo album of Max’s short life.
“Alex,” my father looks up from the album at me. “We—“ he stops.
He looks back at the photo album in his hands then at my mother. In the past nine hours, my father looks like he has aged 25 years. His eyes look tired and his face looks like it hasn’t seen sunlight in over five years.
“Your mother and I will be down in a bit.” He forces a faint smile.
I jump in the shower. I need to think. Marcus Wright and Darin Blake. Those names keep running through my head. Wright has been taken in, now I need to find Blake. But how do I find him? I need supplies. I’ll go after the funeral.
I climb out of the shower and wipe the steam off of the mirror. I tie my long brown hair in a messy bun. My olive tone skin has become pale and my hazelnut eyes are bloodshot from the crying. Any other day I’d fix this up with some concealer and mascara, but not today. I don’t even feel like eating and I’m surprised I was even able to get into the shower, in the first place. I put on my black funeral dress. Yes, in Gotham, everyone has special clothing reserved for funerals.
I start making my way to the main floor. I hear the shower on in my parents’ bedroom. The phone by the kitchen keeps beeping. I check the voicemail. Over 100 messages and that’s not including missed calls. I erase all of them.
My parents are finally ready to leave the house at a quarter to twelve. The funeral doesn’t start until 12:30 so we make it in time.
None of us say a word in the car ride to the funeral home.
I enter the building that represents death. I see my brother’s casket near the podium for the priest. I sit in the first row with my parents. The priest speaks but I barely hear him. I just kept thinking:
What did Red Robin mean by “all your brother’s killers.”
I guess if I’m going to find out who is really behind it, I need to know who Helena Bertinelli is. I mean, who she really is. Why were Marcus and Darin after her?
“Alex. Alex,” I look up to see Father Michael calling my name.
“Y-yes, father?” I stutter.
“Would you like to say anything, my dear child?” he asks me with kindness and gentleness in his voice.
I feel everyone’s stares burning into my back. I stand up and walk to the podium. I look at the people who have come to pay their respects and then at Max’s casket. I clear my throat,
“I-“ it feels as if something is jammed in my throat. I can’t speak. I can’t breathe. I stare at the crowd. I see my friends in the crowd as well. I see Zoanne and Jake.
I try again. This time, looking at the casket beside me. “I’m so sorry, Max.” I turn back to the crowd, “I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”
I run down the aisle towards the exit. I have to get out of here. I feel the tears running down my cheeks. I have to stop crying! My tears aren’t going to bring Max back! I decide to take the bus home. I don’t feel like walking today.
I grab a notepad and pen from my room and go into Max’s room. I sit on his neatly made bed. What will I need, I think.
I’m going to need rope, a ski mask, black track pants with a black shirt. I jot all this down on my notepad. I’m probably going to need some weapons that I used during my karate training: nunchakus (nunchucks), ninja stars, and that’s about it.
I grab all the money in my savings jar and leave a note for my parents in the kitchen: “Need to clear my mind. Be home later.”
I walk to my sensei’s dojo two blocks over and I buy three nunchakus and about 50 ninja stars. My sensei gives me his condolences but then asks me what I need all these supplies for. I lie, I tell him I’m practicing at home more so I can get my black belt faster. He gives me a good discount so I still have more than enough to buy the other things that are on my list. I walk another block to the Camping Supply store. I find all the things I need and I found hooks on sale that I could attach to the rope to make it into a grapple. I also get a special belt that lets me carry everything with me.
Across the street from the Camping Supply store is the library with a Gotham Gazette archive computer. I search the names “Marcus Wright” and I find some stories of bank robberies, breaking and entering, and it shows that he’s been arrested for aggravated assault. The first time he’s ever killed anyone was two days ago. The same goes for Darin Blake. Both murderers have no affiliations with any big time crooks like Two-Face, Penguin, and the Joker. But from the looks of these articles, they’re not smart; and shooting up a school looking for a teacher doesn’t seem to be their M.O. either. They’d probably just break into her home and kidnap her. Someone else is behind this.
If I’m going to learn anything else, I’m going to have to find Ms. Bertinelli and ask her what those men wanted her for. She’s not going to speak to a 17 year-old girl…unless, she doesn’t know I’m a 17 year-old girl. I’ll go tonight in my new gear.
I go home to find my parents sleeping in the beds. My note in the kitchen sits on the counter untouched. They didn’t even realize I was gone. My parents and I haven’t spoken about Max yet. Other than me waking them up this morning for the funeral, we haven’t even talked. Do they blame me? How could they? I- I couldn’t have possibly saved him, right? Maybe if I didn’t stop to talk to Jake after school?
I put all the supplies in my room and grab something to eat from the kitchen. I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday afternoon, that’s well over 24 hours. I heat up a breakfast burrito and snuff it down. I put on my black track pants with black long-sleeve shirt. I put my “utility belt” around my waist with a nunchakus attached to it and some pieces of rope and a few hooks in one of the pockets. In my left pocket, I place about 20 ninja stars. I can feel my heart beating. I have butterflies in my stomach. I know that no girl should be on the streets of Gotham past 11 o’clock. If any girl is, God help her, because the men on the streets will either rape her or kill her. Sometimes both. And if she’s really lucky, Batman or one of his allies will save her. But I’ve learned that Bats is never there when you need him the most.
Gotham Elementary’s website has the full name and address of all their staff. So, finding where Ms. Bertinelli lives wasn’t hard. I walk on the streets of Gotham towards her apartment. I don’t pull down my ski mask; don’t want to look like I’m about to rob a bank. I climb up the fire escape to the window of her apartment. It’s open.
“Hello!” I yell.
I hear movement in another room. She is home.
“Ms. Bertinelli? We need to talk.” I pull down my ski mask.
Worst-case scenario? She thinks I’m a robber and kills me.
I see her run out of the other room towards me. She looks like she’s about to kick my ass.
I see her foot fly up and she kicks me in the face. Holy shit! I get in a defensive position like my sensei taught me and I focus. I see her every move and I block every single one.
“Ms. Bertinelli,” I say as I block a punch to my face. “I’m not here to hurt you. I need to ask you some questions about yesterday.”
She keeps kicking.
“I know those men were looking for you! And I know that when they couldn’t find you, they killed three of your students.” I try to reason with her.
“Ms. Bertinelli!” I’m losing my patience. “They killed my brother!”
She stops. She looks at me and she’s sweating like crazy. I’m pretty good.
“What’s your name?” she asks. She has a slight Italian accent and even I have to admit, she’s beautiful. Her black hair is flying in the wind coming from the open window I snuck through.
“I can’t say. But, I’m going to find who killed my brother. And I’m going to make them pay.” She flinches from the anger in my voice.
“Sweety, I’m so so sorry that your brother and all those students were killed or hurt. I wish I were there, maybe they would have spared the children. But, maybe you should let… the police handle this.”
She hesitated before she said police. She’s hiding something.
“Ms. Bertinelli, what did Marcus Wright and Darin Blake want from you? Who are they working for? And why you?” I’m running out of time. I need information now.
Her face. Her eyebrows furrow. She looks really angry. If looks could kill, I’d be dead.
“I. Do. Not. Know!” she replies. She’s hiding something for sure. But, what?
I play it cool.
“Okay. But if you think of anything or anyone that could lead me to who killed my brother please let me know. “
I walk out her window and climb down the fire escape. I feel her eyes burning into me. I walk down the street through some alleys but quickly sneak back towards her apartment building and I wait.
I start thinking: why was her window open in the first place? Her fire escape seemed like its been used a lot too. She was sneaking out? Why? By the looks of her apartment, she lives alone.
I keep watch on her window and wait for her to crawl out. I didn’t wait too long before someone crawled out. But the silhouette didn’t fit Ms. Bertinelli’s hour-glass figure. It looked like a man. With a cape! And pointy ears! Batman just crawled out her window! Was he trying to find information on the shooting? So Red Robin was telling the truth, they are looking for the killers.
Wait, I didn’t see Batman go into her apartment. Was that why the window was open when I showed up? Because Batman was already in there?
I take off my ski mask and I’m about to walk away when I see another silhouette coming out of my late-brother’s teacher’s apartment. This time, it belonged to a woman. But she’s also wearing a cape. Could it be Batgirl? But, why would Batgirl leave after Batman? Is Ms. Bertinelli one of Gotham’s vigilantes? That could explain why she was actually able to fight me.
I decide to follow her. She gets on a motorcycle. I finally see her under a street lamp. She has black hair. And her costume is more purple than black. She could be Huntress. I try to keep up behind her but she speeds away.
I start making my way home. I avoid taking alleys because I know what will happen to me if I do. I walk straight home. I avoid eye contact with any strangers but at one point I heard a whistle and footsteps behind me. I turned around to find three men walking close behind me.
Oh God. Am I going to die tonight? I don’t think my parents could live with my death too.
I keep walking. Increasing my pace. I feel one of their hands grab my shoulder and turn me around to look at him.
“Heyya girlie.” He slurs. I can smell the stench of alcohol in his breath. I’m going to puke.
I keep my grip on my nunchuck. The man wraps his hand around my arm and walks me into an alley. Don’t cry, I tell myself. The men ambush me and one starts taking off his belt. Before I could pull my nunchuck out of my belt, the other two hold me against the wall. I close my eyes and wait. There’s nothing I can do now except pray.
“What was that? Di-did you guys see that? There’s something up there!” I hear one of the men holding me slur.
I open my eyes and see Red Robin glide down. The two men let go of me and I collapse to the ground. I look up to see Red Robin kicking their drunken asses.
“It’s not very nice to pick on little girls, you know.” He quips.
He lets them run away and helps me up.
“Alex, what are you doing on this side of town?” He’s legitimately worried.
I don’t answer him. His voice sounds familiar.
“You’re lucky I was following you. You do realize what those men were going to do, right?” He’s trying to help me.
“I’m sorry.” I finally say in response.
“We need to talk.” He says.
I’m still a little shocked from what just happened but I manage to reply,
“Yeah, we do.”
“Do you mind if I carry you?” he asks.
“Wrap your arms around my neck.” He instructs.
I did as I was told. He pulls out something shaped like a gun from his, umm, utility belt, I guess. And shoots it towards the roof of the adjacent building. And I feel myself being lifted off of the ground. Its like we’re defying gravity. I rest my chin on his shoulder and watch the city as we are lifted on to the roof. The city looks dirty to me now. Maybe because I’ve seen what it really is? Red Robin’s body is warm and although I can’t see anything through his Kevlar costume, it’s tight enough that I can feel his 6-pack abs and muscles. As I hug my body tight to his, I feel a familiarity. I know Red Robin. I mean I know him outside of costume. And not just someone I’ve seen on the street. This is someone I know well, well enough to have hugged. But, who?
He sits me down beside him on some small crates on the roof. Yes, in Gotham there will always be crates on a roof, usually empty, from an illegal shipment of some sort.
“Alex,” He looks me in the eye, although I can’t see his. “You need to let us deal with this. It’s dangerous. Your brother’s killers, they’re not even close to the evil of those guys that tried to hurt you a few seconds ago.”
I can tell he’s trying hard to protect me.
“Is it the Joker?” I ask.
“No. Joker would have gone into the school himself. Its someone… different.”
“Can I call you Robin, for short?”
“No!” he startles me. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. Don’t call me Robin. R.R is fine.”
“umm, okay R.R. listen, I start talking with confidence. You cannot just block me out like this! This is my brother! I- I can’t help but feel responsible. I should’ve picked him up earlier from school.” My voice sounds like I’m crying but I have no tears. I think I’m all cried up.
“Alex, you don’t understand!”
“NO! You don’t understand!” I yell back at him.
“I’ve done a lot of research on you guys. I’ve read a lot of books on the human psyche and criminology. One of the topics I’ve read extensively on? Cops. What makes some people want to become enforcers of the law? All psychologists agreed that someone’s will to become a police officer, of any sort, even costumed heroes that act outside the law,“ I add. “Usually originates from a tragedy in their life. For example, the tragic death of a family member or close friend; like, a mother, a father, a sister, even a brother.”
“What are you getting at?” R.R asks.
“I’m saying, you didn’t become this,” I hold out his cape. “Because you wanted to! Someone close to you was murdered. Possibly right before your eyes. And that is what motivates you, what pushes you to go out every night to fight crime. And it all started out when you were looking for the killer of whoever it was that was murdered.”
I look up to the sky. In Gotham, we rarely see any stars in the night sky, but this time I saw one star. Shining bright into the distance and I think of Max.
“R.R, please. What would you have done if people tried to stop you from finding the killer of your brother, sister, mother…father?” I asked in a quiet voice.
He looks down at the cement of the rooftop. I hit a nerve.
“I’ll talk to Batman. See what he says. I can’t guarantee anything, though.”
“Okay. Thank you.” I faintly smile.
“Let me take you home.” He offers with a smile as well.
I know who Red Robin is! I’d recognize that smile anywhere! Last time I saw it was at my birthday party a few months ago. I haven’t seen that face since then. He left the next week and didn’t come back to school.
R.R picks me up and swings me home.
He drops me off in my backyard. Should I tell him I know? No. Not yet. I might freak him out and he won’t talk to Batman. But telling him that I know who Ms. Bertinelli is won’t hurt.
“I went to talk to Helena Bertinelli earlier.” I told him.
“I know.” He says with a smile.
“How did I know? I told you, I’ve been following you. And Batman told me.” He admits.
“Well, I know that Helena Bertinelli isn’t a regular school teacher either.” I close my eyes, scared for his reaction when he hears what I say next, “Whoever was looking for her at the school knew she was actually Huntress.” I feel like a detective.
I open my eyes but Red Robin is gone. Damn.
I walk back into the house through the back door. I look at the time. It’s a quarter past midnight. I crawl into bed and connect the dots:
A few months ago, Tim Drake/ Wayne disappeared from the face of the earth. After he broke up with Zoanne over the phone. We haven’t seen him since. Until about two weeks ago. He was in the news. Reporters claimed that he was engaged to Tam Fox, the daughter of Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox.
At the same time Tim disappeared so did Robin. But a week after, there was footage of a new Robin. Shorter than the previous one and he looked younger. His fighting style seemed different too.
Then, when Tim reappeared two weeks ago so did Red Robin.
That means, Tim Drake/ Wayne is Red Robin and he was Robin.
Tim was adopted by Bruce Wayne a few years ago. How could Mr. Wayne allow him to go out at night and do all those things? If he lied to him about the late nights, how did he cover up his injuries? Unless… Bruce Wayne was a part of it as well. Maybe….maybe! BRUCE WAYNE WAS BATMAN! It would make sense, Batman would need a lot of money to finance his crusade. I’ve seen that Batmobile up close and it’s at least a 5 million dollar car.
I figured out who Batman is! If only Max were here. Max and I have been trying to figure that out forever.
I doze off. I sleep until the next afternoon. I wake up and find a note on my bedroom window.
I’ll pick you up in your backyard at 9 o’clock. Sharp.
Early this morning in the bat-bunker beneath Wayne Tower.
“Dick! This was her brother!” Tim yells.
“Tim, you can’t possibly think this is the right thing to do. She’s going to get hurt.” Dick tries to reason with his adoptive brother, Tim Drake/ Wayne.
“Dick, when Bruce took you in all those years ago after Boss Zucco killed your parents, what did you do? Did you sit there and let Batman and the corrupt GCPD handle it? Or did you sneak into the bat-cave but on a costume Alfred made for you and sneak out?” Tim got him there. “Alex wants to find the people that did this to her brother.”
“What if she dies, Tim? I don’t want you to live with the burden that Bruce has carried with him when Jason* died.” Dick had a point.
“Dick. I know! I know she could die. I know it’s not safe. But Dick, she’s going to go out there no matter what. She’ll be better off with my guidance. Let me help her.”
“Hey! Grayson!” Damian says from the bat-computers. “Let Drake do what he wants, who cares! We have better things to do.”
*Jason Todd was the ward of Bruce Wayne. He was the second Robin. The Joker killed him years ago. However, Jason came back to life with the help of the Lazarus Pit and Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul. He’s no longer a hero, but an anti-hero.
** Damian Wayne is the illegitimate child of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. He is Robin. He is a pompous brat who is in constant battle with Tim Drake/ Wayne.
“Man, Bruce is going to kill me when he gets back. Fine! Tim, be careful. Watch out for her. We don’t need another Spoiler.” Dick finally gives in.
“Remember Dick, Spoiler is now Batgirl and even Bruce says that she’s been doing a great job.” Tim adds. “Plus, I saw this girl sneak into Huntress’ apartment. Huntress! And guess what? She fought Huntress to a stand still.”
“No way!” replies Dick in disbelief.
“Trust me, Dick. With the right training she could even be my sidekick.” Tim laughs.
Back at the Gonzales Residence.
I brush my teeth and shower then run down to the kitchen. The whole house seems to have been untouched since Max died three days ago. My parents have only left their room on one occasion during that time and that was to go to the funeral. I don’t think they’ve eaten anything since then, either.
I decide to make them brunch. I scramble some eggs. Toast some bread and pour them each a glass of orange juice. I put all the food on a tray and carry it to their room. I open the door without knocking and place the tray on their bed. My father is on the chair beside his bed, again, reading a short story Max wrote last year for a school project. My mother is lying in her bed, still.
I clear my throat. “Mami? Papi? You need to eat.”
I get no reaction from either of them.
“Please.” I have never seen my parents in this state before. It’s a nightmare.
My father finally looks up at me, “Si, mi angelita.” Yes, my little angel. He says in a gentle and calm voice.
A faint smile shows on my face, “I’m going out for a little. I’ll be back before dinner.”
“Bueno. Can you bring dinner with you? There’s two 20 dollar bills on the kitchen counter.”
“Okay, papi.” I turn to my mother, “Mami? Please eat. Get some fresh air too.”
She doesn’t reply.
I grab the money from the kitchen and walk to the cemetery. I find Max’s tombstone and kneel in front of it.
It reads, “Max Alejandro Gonzales. Son. Brother. And beautiful angel.”
I place the flowers I bought on my way here on the ground before me.
“Hey, Max.” I whisper. “We miss you.” I faint smile appears on my face. Tears fall down my cheeks.
“Mom and dad are taking your death pretty hard. Then again, who am I to speak, right? I’m going to find out who did this Max. And guess what? You know who I met the other night? Red Robin. I know, I know. I wish you were there too.” I talk to the tombstone, believing it holds Max’s spirit and he can hear me.
“Yeah, he’s a good guy. He said he’d talk to Batman and help me find out who killed you. I’m meeting with him tonight.”
I look down at my watch and see that it’s 5:30. I’ve been out here for over two hours.
“Alright, Max. I gotta go now. Mom and Dad are finally eating so I’m going to grab them dinner. I’ll come back soon.”
I pick up dinner from the Olive Garden a block away from my house. I make my parents sit in the kitchen with me and we eat. None of us say a word.
My parents go back to their room and I clean up. Its almost 9 by the time I clean the house up so I get ready and put on my gear.
About 5 minutes to 9 I sit on the ground in my backyard and wait for R.R to show up. It’s a Thursday night, I should probably go to school tomorrow and grab my homework so I can catch up on all of it over the weekend.
“I’m parked in the alley two streets over, come on!” Red Robin says as he enters my backyard.
He grabs on to me and we swing. I love the wind in my hair and I can almost see the whole city too. We land in an alley and a really cool car is parked in front of me. I can’t see it very well but I think it’s the Bat-mobile.
I just stand in front of it and stare at its tinted windows.
“You can get in, you know.” R.R says in between chuckles.
I sit in the passenger seat and he gets into the driver’s.
“Alright, I have to follow ‘protocol’.” He says protocol in between air quotes. “So you’re going to have to put on this blindfold.” He ties the blindfold over my eyes.
“Sorry. Nothing personal.” He apologizes.
“No worries.” I reply.
As he drives, he makes conversation with me.
“So, how are your parents dealing?”
“They finally left their room today. And they finally ate something too. Even though I had to almost force-feed them. But, you know, they’re grieving.” I update him.
“Don’t worry. It’s going to take them time but we all have different ways of grieving.” He advises.
“How do you grieve?” I ask.
“About the same way you do.” He smiles. “I go out on the streets and try to beat up as many scumbags I can. And I try to find who’s responsible for my grief.”
I can feel him grinning, I can’t see through my blindfold but I can tell. The truth is though, Red Robin is a sad person. I can see that he’s been in constant grief since, well, forever. And if Red Robin really is Tim Drake/ Wayne, then I know that he has grieved over his mother’s death and a few years after that, his father’s.
The car stops.
“And where is here, exactly?” I ask curiously.
R.R takes off my blindfold and we both get out of the car.
It was amazing! I saw about five other cars on one side with some motorcycles, a boat, even a mini helicopter. On the other side was the biggest computer I have ever seen in my life. I feel my jaw- drop when I see the dojo.
“Yeah, it’s pretty overwhelming.” Jokes R.R
I nod my head in silence. Damn.
“Let’s walk.” Says R.R
I follow his lead as we walk he talks.
“This is the deal. Batman and I talked about this. Extensively. We both know how you feel so we’re going to help you out. We usually don’t do anything like this but I saw how you fought Helena Bertinelli last night so we’re going to give you a chance.”
**Note to reader: at this point, both the thoughts of R.R and Alex will be described. I’ll make it clear. **
“Tonight is our first training session.”
What! I yell in my head.
“You and I will be doing detective work together as well as train. Then, when the time is right we will go and find the killers of your brother. If at any point you disobey any of my orders. I will drop you off to Detective Nick and I have no doubt in my mind that he will throw you in a cell at county.”
I sound like Bruce, thinks R.R.
“Woah. Are you serious?” Asks Alex. The shock is all over her face.
“Yes. But you have to understand something: there’s a risk that you may die out there.”
I was not expecting that, thinks Alex.
“Of course, “ I reply. “I’ve lived in Gotham my whole life. I know how the city feeds. But I have to do this… for Max. I’ll follow your lead because I trust you. But I will find Max’s killers.” Alex says with complete sincerity.
“Alright then. Lets start training.” He grins.
The two walk into the dojo. There’s a place set for sparring and all over the room there are other training machines. Some gymnastics equipment and other stuff Alex never seen before.
“There’s a training uniform ready for you in that room. You can go change.” He points to a door to Alex’s right.
“Alright, I’ll be out in a minute.” I smile.
I really hope I’m right about this, R.R wonders. And I hope Alfred didn’t just put Cassandra’s* old clothes in there.
*Cassandra Cain was the previous Batgirl.
Alex sees a set of clothes folded beside the sink. She’s in the “bat-washroom” she snickers at the name she has called the restroom. She puts on the clothes that are all black. The materials thicker and heavier than the gear she had before and a little tighter too. The clothes fit around her curves nicely and she even thought she was sexy in the mirror.
She walks back out into the dojo and finds R.R changed his clothes too. He got rid of the cape and cowl. He’s just wearing a domino mask with an outfit similar to Alex’s but instead of black, his are red and black.
“You ready?” R.R asks her.
Damn, she’s hot. He thinks.
Alex smiles and replies, “Oh yeah!”
“Alright, lesson #1. We’re going to spar. I want to see what level you’re at.”
R.R and Alex step onto the main arena in the dojo and begin.
Alex begins in defense and Red Robin kicks. She blocks it.
“So, Red Robin.” Alex tries to distract him so she can get a punch in.
Alex strikes a kick and misses on purpose.
“I was wondering, if its not too personal. Why did you become Robin in the first place?”
“Robin is outside with Batman right now. I’m RED Robin, remember?” R.R tries to evade the question.
“R.R, I’m not stupid. My brother and I, we used to watch every news story and read every article Bat-related and we’ve done our research. We know that there have been five Robins. One of which was a girl and the fifth is outside right now. You became Red Robin, for whatever reason, and so now there’s a new guy. You do realize that people notice the size difference.” Alex was clever.
She’s smart and beautiful, notices Red Robin.
“Heh,” R.R laughs, “you’re pretty smart.” He compliments her before he drops to the floor and swings his leg and trips her.
Alex falls on her butt.
“Alex, I have to admit. You’re good. You’ve perfected many different martial arts, you can talk while you fight, and you’re a good detective.” R.R continues to compliment Alex.
“You’re making me blush.” She jokes.
“Red Robin,” she adds. “Can I be completely honest with you?”
R.R looks her straight in the eyes, “Yeah, of course.” He replies.
“I know for a fact that Helena Bertinelli is The Huntress. I also know for a fact that we know each other really well. I mean I think I know you under the mask. Right, Tim?” Alex finally confesses.
“Oh man. Batman’s going to kill me.” Red Robin admits.
He removes his domino mask. “Man, Alex. You really are good.”
Lo and behold, Tim Drake/ Wayne is Red Robin. Alex was right.
Alex runs to Tim and hugs him.
“I missed you! We all missed you!”
Tim just laughs and smiles.
“I missed you guys, too. How’s everyone doing? Ives? Zoanne?”
“Ives is, well, being Ives. He misses you a lot. He doesn’t have many other friends. And Zo is, umm, mad?” I giggled.
“Yeah, I don’t blame her.” Tim pushes his hair out of his face.
“Tim, I understand things were…getting chaotic considering what you do, but really? Over the phone?”
“You’re right. I feel like a dick. I’ll explain later what happened, exactly.” Tim confessed.
“And one more question, who is Tam Fox?” I smiled.
Tim laughed and opened his mouth ready to answer but stopped when someone else came into the room. He sensed the movement and turned around to see who it was.
“Uh, hey Batman!” said Tim.
Batman looked from Tim to Alex and you could see the puzzled look under his cowl.
“Hey R.R, can I talk to you for a minute?” Batman replied.
“Umm, sure.” Tim, without a mask, walked to Batman.
“And Robin,” he was speaking to the boy walking towards Alex in the dojo. “Don’t spar with her! Got it?”
Tim’s voice was angry. Anyone could sense the tension between the two.
Batman and Tim began to speak as Alex continued practicing with batarangs and Robin left her alone.
“Tim, what the hell is going on?” Batman, who is actually Dick Grayson, whispered in anger.
“I know, Dick. She figured it out!” Tim admits.
“What do you mean she figured it out?”
“Well, she said ‘I know Helena Bertinelli is Huntress and that’s why those men are after her. Right, Tim?’ I’m just as surprised as you are! She figured it out before she even got here, Dick!”
“Hahah.” Dick laughed. “She’s like you when you first showed up on Bruce’s doorsteps.” Dick joked. Tim laughed at the irony.
“Tim, is she reliable? I mean is she going to spill the beans? Vicki Vale is already on our butts and you have to pretend you got shot and can’t walk properly. What I’m saying is, is this a risk?” Dick asked.
“Don’t worry, Dick. I’ve known Alex for a really long time. She’s the closest thing person to a best friend I had in my civvies. I trust her.”
“Good job, Drake! You’ve already managed to compromise our identities.” Robin said as he walked towards them.
“Shut up, Damian!” Tim yelled.
“Tsk. Tsk.” Damian walked away towards the elevators that lead to their penthouse in Wayne Tower.
“I hate that kid.” Said Tim.
“Haha! I know you do, but for Bruce’s sake.” Dick winked. “Now, go help that girl seek vengeance.” Dick joked.
Tim went back to Alex. “Hey, sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry. I understand.” Alex smiled.
“Alright. Session two. Detective skills. Now, who’s M.O is it to send some amateur goons into a school to find a target?” Tim asked.
“Well, we can strike Joker off the list. Like you said, he would go into the school himself. And he’d probably kill everyone. Then there’s Two-Face. It’s not him for sure. There’s no double meaning to any of this. And three kids were killed. Not two.”
“Very good.” Tim applauded.
“But, I could go through the list of Gotham’s villains and more than one would have the same type of M.O. The question we should ask is this: who wants Helena Bertinelli dead? Or better yet, who wants Huntress dead that knows her secret identity?”
“I’m impressed.” The voice wasn’t Tim’s. Nor was it Dick Grayson or Damian.
“Oh my God.” Alex’s jaw-dropped. “It’s you. T-the original. Batman!”
This Batman was different. The symbol on his chest is different than the other one’s. He looked older and not as lean. He had broader shoulders and he was taller. Alex also knew that this Batman is Bruce Wayne. But she had no intention of telling him she knew, yet.
“Alex Gonzales, I presume. And Red Robin, where’s your mask?”
“She knows Batman. She figured it out pretty fast.” Tim was happy to see Bruce.
There was a father/ son bond between the two that even Alex could sense.
“Alex, I’m very impressed. You figured out the identity of Red Robin. Now, do you know who I am?”
Alex nodded. “You’re Bruce Wayne, right?”
Batman removed his cowl. “This secret stays between us, right?” he grinned.
Batman just grinned! Alex was shocked.
Batman walked away in the same direction as Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne.
“I thought Batman didn’t smile.” Alex whispered.
“He didn’t. But since he got back, he’s been happy.”
“Got back from where?” Alex asked in confusion.
Tim sighed. “It’s a long story.”
“Alright, now. Who has beef with Huntress?”
“Well, she’s part of the Birds of Prey, right? So maybe someone from their Rogues’ gallery?”
“Good. You’re making connections.” Tim starts pressing some buttons on the computer and pulls up a list. “These are all their enemies. See anyone who would have the resources to figure out who she is and get others to do his or her dirty work?”
Alex’s eyes scan the names and faces on the screen. She finally points at someone.
“Him. Noah Kuttler. Aka The Calculator.”
Tim smirks. “Why him?”
“His file says that he’s been in battle with the Birds of Prey for a while. He’s the most unpredictable and he’s smart. If I can find out the real identity of Huntress than so could he.”
“Good detective work.” Tim high-fives Alex. “Listen, it’s getting late. I’ll take you home so your parents don’t worry and we’ll meet up tomorrow, same time. Same place.”
Tim drops Alex home at around four in the morning. Her parents don’t notice. She showers and tries to go to sleep. How could she sleep knowing that the man who killed her brother is still out there. She twists and turns in her bed but eventually decides to get up.
Alex heats up a cup of milk in the kitchen and goes back upstairs. But goes into Max’s room instead of her own.
She sits on his bed and whispers to a picture of him sitting on the dresser.
“Hey, Max. You won’t believe it. Your old teacher, Ms. Bertinelli, she’s a super-hero. She’s actually Huntress. And you know who I met today? Batman. Both of them.” Alex smiled at the photo of her late- brother. And I figured out that the first one, the one that started it all is actually Bruce Wayne. I wish you were here Max. And remember my friend Tim Drake? He’s Red Robin and he’s training me so I can find who killed you. I love you, Max.” Alex falls asleep on his old bed.
Alex wakes up the next morning feeling sore from the night before. She jumps into the shower and as she’s washing her body she sees bruises all over her arms, legs and torso. She finishes washing up and walks to the kitchen. Its noon but her parents decided to go to work today. They left her a note:
Buenos dias, mi angelita. [Good morning, my little angel]
Your mother and I have decided to go to work today. Thank you for taking care of us over the past few days. Your hermano would be proud of you. We’ll bring dinner tonight.
-Papi and Mami.
Alex folds up the note and puts it in her pocket. She’s filled with joy that her parents finally left the house. She decides to go to school to get her homework from her teachers. She tries to avoid her friends and conversation with her teachers, but she knew that they’d ask her how the family is doing.
“I’m sorry to hear about your brother, sweetie. This truly is tragic.” Commented Alex’s English teacher.
Alex nodded in silence.
“I’ve assigned an essay assignment to the class, you must compare the novel you’ve been reading in class, I believe you’re reading Crime and Punishment, correct?”
“Yes, Mr. Sharp.”
“Excellent novel. Are you enjoying it?”
“Yes, Mr. Sharp.” Alex replies.
Little did her English teacher know, she read the book, that most adults have trouble understanding, when she was ten. Her papi always praises her for her intelligent and analytical mind.
“So Alex, what you’ll have to do is compare the theme within Crime and Punishment to the theme of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You can hand it in whenever you can.” He smiled.
“Thank you, Mr. Sharp.”
“I hope to see you back at school soon, Alex.” He said as she walked out the door.
Alex managed to get all her homework assignments without bumping into any of her friends. She was afraid that if she saw Zoanne she might mention something about Tim. Alex finally admitted that she can’t stop thinking about Tim. She’s always had a thing for lean guys. But she knew he was off-limits. She couldn’t do that to Zoanne.
Alex makes her way home and begins working on her homework. She can’t concentrate. She keeps looking at the clock waiting for 9 o’clock. She begins her essay. Alex wants to do well on this assignment. Mr. Sharp is her favourite teacher and she wouldn’t want him to be disappointed.
“Alex! It’s dinner time!” Alex heard her father call for her.
After dinner, Alex ran back to her room and got ready for her night with Red Robin.
She went through the front door, “Mami! Papi! I’m sleeping over at Zoanne’s house tonight. She’s helping me catch- up on my homework.” Alex lied.
“Okay, mi angelita.” Her father replied. He’s been calling her that a lot lately.
Alex met Red Robin in the backyard. And they left on his motorcycle that was parked behind her house. He’s not wearing his regular costume though. But his motorcycle helmet hides his identity from others. She wears the extra helmet and they drive off to the Bat-bunker.
Tonight, Tim taught Alex where the nerve clusters are and how to hit them to finish a fight and case scenarios of how to get out of a tight spot.
“You should only use this trick as a last resort. It causes temporary paralysis and if done incorrectly, it could seriously hurt someone.”
After what seems like hours of training, they have a break.
A man known as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler brings sandwiches and fruit smoothies.
“Hello Ms. Gonzales,” he has a wonderful British accent. “It’s an honour finally meeting you. Master Timothy and Master Bruce have spoken highly of you.”
“Thank you, Mr… ?” she was not sure what the butler’s name is.
“Alfred Pennyworth at your service.” He replied nonchalant.
“You know, Miss Gonzales, it is quiet unordinary to have a young person discover the true identity of The Batman. Why, the last young person that figured it out was Master Timothy himself.” Claimed the British man.
Tim blushed. “Where’s Bruce, Alfie?” Tim asked.
“I believe he has a meeting with Miss. District Attorney Spencer.” Replied Alfred.
“Thanks, Al.” Tim said, then turned to Alex. “Ready to continue young grasshopper?” He joked.
“Yes, master.” Alex played along.
Alfred left as the two began their next session.
“Here’s a special obstacle course made my Batman. That means it’s tough. It requires agility, concentration, and accuracy to pass. You have targets around the course and walls you must get over to reach those targets, hence: “obstacle.” When the targets are hit they will fall. We’re going to keep doing this until you hit all the targets in 60 seconds.”
“60 seconds?!” screamed Alex in awe. “That’s impossible!”
Tim smirked, “I’ll go first.”
Gracefully, Tim kicked s target down and hit another with a batarang at the same time. He flew through the obstacle, barely touching the floor, he finished it in 30 seconds.
“HOLY CRAP!” yelled Alex in shock. “That- that was amazing!”
Tim grinned. “Why, thank you.” He bowed.
“Now Tim, no showing off.” The voice belonged to Bruce Wayne. “Alex, with enough practice and training you could probably beat him.” Bruce encouraged.
“You think so?” Alex asked, unsure.
“You can give it a try in a bit. We need to talk.” Bruce said.
“Uh, sure? What’s up?” asked Alex.
“I can’t stress it enough that this job, even if you’re only doing it for a few nights to find your brother’s killer, this job is dangerous. Its more dangerous that being a cop because the crazies out there, like Joker and Two-Face, they see that you’re in costume and they will attack you.”
“I understand.” Alex nodded.
“There’s someone I want you to meet.” He said solemnly. “But, he’s not here. Do you mind coming with me somewhere else?” he kindly asked.
“No, not at all.” Alex replied.
Bruce put on his cowl and he and Alex drove off to the Bat-cave below Wayne Manor in the Bat-mobile. Tim did not join them. He knew who Bruce was going to introduce Alex too. And he knew from when Bruce did the same to him, it’s something between Batman and Alex.
Bruce and Alex arrived at the Bat-cave.
“Woah. This is…” Alex could not even finish the sentence.
“Over-whelming?” suggested Bruce.
“Very.” Added Alex.
“The cave has been transformed into Batgirl’s headquarters. However, it’s still my cave. Most of us work out of the Bat-bunker because it’s in the heart of Gotham.”
Bruce walked ahead towards a set of doors and Alex followed.
They entered through the doors that led to a staircase that only goes down. Once they reached the bottom, Bruce walked Alex towards a glass case. In the case was a Robin costume. It was an old one, before Tim. Alex could tell because this costume did not consist of pants, but underwear.
“Alex, this is Jason. He was the second Robin but he was killed in action. The Joker killed him. This boy was an orphan and I took him in hoping I could give his life meaning. He was angry, impulsive and vengeful. He took this job as a game.”
Alex could hear the sadness in Bruce’s voice.
“He disobeyed my orders. He didn’t listen to me. He went after the Joker alone when I told him to wait for me and it got him killed.”
“A few years ago something happened, that I can’t really explain to you, and Jason was brought back to life.”
Alex looked at him in confusion. “Why have you kept his costume in this case if he’s alive?
“His ‘reborn’ doesn’t change anything, he still died. And his death presents that same meaning even if he has been brought back to life: this job is dangerous. Jason may have been brought back to life but he’s not the same, he’s become a killer. If you don’t put in your all and more, you have a smaller chance of surviving. Don’t take this as a game. You will mostly be joining Tim on patrol. If you don’t listen to him, then you could get killed or he could.”
Alex nodded in silence. It was a lot to take in.
Alex finally asked, “How come you didn’t kill Joker? He’s caused so much pain to everyone. The graveyards he’s filled with people he has killed for no reason.”
“You have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to kill him. I’ve wanted to put him through all the torture he’s inflicted on others and then, end him.”
Bruce’s voice was growly and filled with anger. It sent shivers down Alex’s spine.
“But you have to understand, Alex. That’s how you let them win. There’s a fine line between what we do and what people like Joker do. We can’t let that line blur, we have to always have a clear sight on it and I know out of experience, it’s difficult to remember where that line is. And when you decide to take someone’s life, no matter what they’ve done, you cross that line and you won’t be able to come back from, and that is when they win. When you lose yourself. It’s not about morals, Alex, it’s about identity.”
Bruce’s answer inspired Alex. She understood exactly what he was saying and agreed with it, all of it.
Alex nodded. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“This leads us to the rules.” Added Bruce. “There are three main rules that we do not break, no matter what. Rule number one: No guns. Even if you’re using rubber bullets or shooting to hurt not kill. It makes crossing the line that much easier. Rule number two: No killing. Never. We deliver the scumbags to the police and they receive a fair trial. Rule number three: you disobey an order and that’s it. You’re out. No second chance. And the last rule: you give it your all and more. You keep fighting, even if you have a broken rib and two broken arms. You keep going.” Alex nodded. “So I guess the final question is, do you still want to do this?” Bruce asked.
“Mr. Wayne, the other day I sat in the ambulance that carried my dead brother. He was in a body bag and against my better judgement I unzipped the bag. His body was torn apart from the bullets. It looked like they took a machine gun and fired it at him. As I held my dead brother in my arms, I knew that I wanted to do this. To rid Gotham of scum so that no one would have to go through the same pain. So, yes, I still want to do this.” Replied Alex with sorrow in her voice.
“Very well,” replied Bruce. “Let’s head back to the bunker, there are some tricks I want to show you.”
Although his voice was gruff and sent shivers down Alex’s spine, Alex felt safe with Bruce. He had sincerity in his voice and he did not sugar-coat anything. He told her what she was getting into before he let her make her decision.
Back at the bunker Alex and Bruce began their own training. She first went through the obstacle course. It took her two minutes.
“Not bad, Tim’s first time was two and a half.” Bruce commented.
“Where is Tim?” Alex asked.
“Master Timothy is currently pursuing Scarab, the high-paid assassin. He said that he will be back once he finishes.”
“Thank you Mr. Pennyworth.”
“Dear, please call me Alfred.”
Bruce taught Alex how to control her breathing. He said that it will help her slow down bleeding in case that is something she’ll have to do to survive. He showed her how to use other gadgets such as the grapple gun, baton, and other “toys.”
“Is there a certain name you’d like to go by on the field?” Bruce asked her.
“Oh wow,” she replied. “I have no idea.”
“Let me know when you think of something.” He said. “Fighting isn’t just about throwing punches, it’s more about the mind than anything else. You need to train your mind to think effectively and one of the most important things to keep in mind is this, never fight angry. Fight smart, don’t let the opponent get a punch in. Don’t be emotional. It makes you careless and that will get you hurt. Or worse, dead.”
Bruce continued lessons with Alex until Tim came back. He taught her different methods of getting information.
“Sometimes, you have to take a few hits to get the information you need.” He told her.
He also taught her how to tie ropes and then, how to get out of the ropes if she ever gets tied up.
“In this job, it happens. You make a slip or sometimes to save civilians you get caught by the bad guy and they tie you up. You have to know how to get out of those ties, no matter how tight.”
Alfred walks towards Bruce.
“Master Bruce, the signal has been shined. I believe Commissioner Gordon is waiting for you. And Miss Alex, Master Timothy will be down shortly.”
“Thank you Alfred.”
“Okay, Alex. You keep practicing everything I’ve shown you. And think of a name.” Said Bruce with a wink.
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne.”
“Please, call me Bruce.” He said as he walked away.
Alex attempted at the obstacle course again.
“90 seconds. Good job, Ms. Gonzales. That’s a new record.” Applauded Tim.
Alex smiled and bowed.
“What time is it?” she asked.
Tim looked at his wristwatch, “it’s almost 2 am. You ready to call it a night?”
“Are you serious!? I just trained with THE BATMAN! My heart won’t stop beating. My adrenaline is going whack.” She exclaimed.
“Want to go beat up some bad guys?” Tim asked.
Alex squeeled. “Yes!”
Tim gave her a domino mask and showed her to work the communicator, night vision, zoom, and camera on it. She put on some new gear that was reinforced with Kevlar and had a utility belt and gloves.
Alex put her hair up in a ponytail and sat behind Tim on his motorcycle.
“You ready?” he asked her as he revved up the engine.
“Hell yeah!” she yelled.
“And remember, in the field we go by our code-names.”
“Of course. Bru-I mean Batman asked me earlier about a name for me, do you have any suggestions?”
“Good catch,” he joked. “How about Bat-chick? Or Knightbat? Or Black Robin?”
“Hmm…I’m liking the sound of Knightbat.” She replied.
“Alright, Knightbat it is, you have until later on tonight to change your mind. We need to introduce you soon to the rest of the bat-family.” He smirked.
“You guys have special Sunday dinners?” Alex joked.
Tim and Alex reach an alley in downtown Gotham.
“Let’s swing.” Says Red Robin.
Knightbat and R.R take out their grapple guns and aim at the rooftops of one of the buildings surround the alley. Alex gracefully reaches the top.
“Nice, K.B.” says Red Robin.
“HELP! HELP! SOMEBODY PLEASE! GET AWAY FROM ME!”
“What was that?” asked Knightbat.
“It’s coming from there!” Red Robin points towards an alley across the street.
Just as trained, Alex uses the grapple to swing towards the screaming woman.
“Alright K.B, swing in and kick the guy attacking.” Red Robin advises.
Knightbat swings down and uses both legs as she’s swinging and kicks the man right in the chest. She doesn’t do it to strong to break a rib. She controls it and the man goes flying into the garbage cans on the north end of the alley. Knightbat lands on her feet and helps the woman up.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“Thank you! Thank you!” the woman says as she cries.
Red Robin was still perched on the rooftop watching Knightbat.
“Alright, Knightbat. First thing’s first. ‘Cuff the scumbag. I’m on my way down.”
“Do we take him to GCPD?” asked K.B
“Nah, he’ll be too scared to pull a stunt like this again. But remember the face. If you see him do something stupid again, then you take him in.”
“Did he hurt you, ma’am?” asks K.B
“N-no,” the lady stutters. “You came just in time.”
“Would you like us to take you to a doctor?”
“No, but,” the lady looked up at Knightbat,” do you mind walking me home?”
Knightbat looked at R.R for an answer. He nodded.
“Of course.” K.B replied.
K.B and R.R stopped a robbery at a grocery store, a bar fight and stopped little kids from vandalizing their school. They talked them out of it. The kids will probably never do it again.
Knightbat and Red Robin get back to the Bat-bunker by 4am.
“How many lives do you think we saved today, Tim?” asked Alex.
Tim grinned. “Alex, thinking about the answer to that question will motivate you to keep going. Always think that way. Don’t ever think other wise.” He said.
“What did you tell your parents? That you were going home late?” Tim asked.
“I was going to, but I figured if I said that then I’d have to explain where I was going. I just lied. Told them I was sleeping over at Zoanne’s house.” Alex admitted.
“Oh okay. There’s an extra room in the penthouse upstairs, if that’s okay with you?”
“Yeah that’s fine. Hope I’m not intruding.” She said apologetically.
“Fat chance.” Tim smirked. “Tomorrow I’ll introduce you to Damian and Dick. And when I do, ignore Damian. He’s a brat.”
“Take it from someone who has been there, don’t…lie to your parents too much. Only when really needed, or you know, sugar-coat the truth.” Tim advised.
“Of course, Tim.” She smiled. “I’ll try my best.”
They rode up the special elevator that could only be accessed from the bat-bunker or the penthouse. That means no “unwanted” visitors could use it. Alfred met them at the top and showed Alex her room for the night.
“Miss Alex, you’ll find clothing ready for you in the closet including pajamas, and a change of clothes for tomorrow. There are towels and other toiletries in the washroom. You may wash up and join us in the kitchen. I am serving a, what we like to call, ‘midnight snack.’” Alfred said.
Alex’s eyes blew wide-open. “Woah, thank you Alfred.”
“It is my pleasure, Miss Alex.” He replied in his British accent.