Acknowledgment: Based on Nightwing #80, "Venn Diagram: Close Encounters," [Part 1 or 3]; some of the dialogue is borrowed directly from this issue.
Disclaimer: All the characters are owned by DC Comics and Time/Warner; this is an original story that does not intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome!
Copyright: April 2003
By Syl Francis
The call everyone dreaded the most came suddenly.
"Adam-19 to dispatch! Officer down! We need help here!"
Capt. Amy Rohrbach heard it. Adam-19 was her old call sign. She hurried over to the dispatcher's station. Before she or the dispatcher could react, her ex-partner's voice came over the radio.
"Adam-19. Cancel the Code Eight. We're okay here. We'll come report in person." He sounded a little tired, but to Amy's ears Dick Grayson's voice was the most wonderful sound she'd heard in a long time. She closed her eyes in relief.
The dispatcher, a normally cool and dispassionate officer, smiled up her and squeezed her arm in support. "Copy that, Nineteen," he said. "Recording you enroute for a Code Thirteen."
Amy shook her head. "I'm gonna kill that rookie one day," she said flippantly. Then sighing added, "That is, if he doesn't kill me first." The dispatcher nodded and waved, already busy handling another incoming call, a domestic disturbance. About to return to her desk, Amy was stopped cold by the desperate sound of Adam-19 again calling in.
"This is Adam-19! Officer down! We need an ambulance--ASAP--at the Devin Downs Apartments! I repeat--!" It was Dick's new partner, Officer Gannon.
"The Devin Downs?" Amy repeated, grabbing her hat. "That's just across the street!" Halfway out the door, she called over her shoulder. "Acknowledge the ambulance! And tell them I'm on my way! Jennings, with me!" She didn't wait for his reply; instead, she raced across the street, Sgt. Jennings at her heels.
Their guns drawn, Amy and Jennings made their way across the Devin Downs' impressive entrance foyer. Residents and employees alike were running for cover in a state of panic. Amy pointed at the doorway marked 'stairs,' and both officers took positions on either side of the doors. About to push it open, they were startled when it was suddenly opened from the other side.
Gannon appeared, half-carrying/half-assisting his partner to safety.
"Dick!" Amy cried out, hurrying to help to her ex-partner. "What happened, Gannon? Where's he hurt?" They gently helped Dick to the floor where they could better examine him. There was blood everywhere!
"He was shot in the arm, Captain," Gannon reported, gasping from the effort. "The perp--" He paused for air. "I've never seen anything like it, Captain. He was armed to the teeth--" He sat back as Amy and Jennings applied pressure to Dick's wound. "Grayson here...he saved my life." He shook his head. "You should've seen him, Captain."
"Who? The perp?" she asked distractedly.
"No...my partner!" Gannon looked on his half-unconscious partner with admiration. "I've never seen anyone move the way he did. Man...I never knew anyone could!"
At this instant, the emergency medical team arrived, and they quickly started working on Dick. Amy took the moment to pull Gannon aside.
"Gannon..." she whispered fiercely. "Whatever you saw Grayson do. Forget it, y'hear? You didn't see anything."
"What? But, Captain!" Gannon protested. "Dick saved my life and in the process got himself shot. That's a Medal of Valor for sure!"
"Listen to me, Gannon," Amy insisted. "If you really want to thank your partner for saving your life, then you won't mention his part in this. The perp out-gunned you, and in the heat of battle, Dick was shot. Period. You got it?"
"I don't understand, Captain," Gannon said a bit dazedly. He looked over at his partner, his mind in a jumble. When Gannon first started working with Dick, he'd assessed him instantly as little more than just another snot-nosed kid he had to train, a real wet-behind-the-ears rookie. And yet, Dick had handled himself better than most of the veteran cops on the Force. And the way he'd jumped over the fence--like he was some kind of circus acrobat.
Gannon swallowed. Apparently, there was more to his new partner than met the eye. He faced his division commander, an officer whom he'd known for a number of years, one of the few that hadn't been on the take all those years under Chief Redhorn. Even better, Captain Rohrback was one of the few officers who didn't treat him like pond scum just because he was openly Gay.
"Okay, Captain," he said. "If it's what Dick would want, I'll play along. We were in a heavy firefight, and it wasn't until the smoke cleared that we even realized that he was injured. And that's the truth, by the way." Amy nodded, her eyes grateful. As the EMTs signaled that they were ready to transport Dick to the hospital, Gannon and Amy followed.
"Gannon, Jennings--you two go on to the hospital," Amy ordered. "I have to make a few phone calls." Nodding, the two officers walked outside to Gannon's waiting squad car. Waving at Amy, Gannon turned on the emergency lights and siren, and escorted Dick's ambulance to the hospital.
The dulcet, 'veddy British' voice was not what Amy had expected. Her ex-partner had always been rather closed-mouthed about his family. It was only when she and her own family had been targeted by some of 'Bludhaven's Finest,' and they'd lost their home along with everything else they owned, that Dick had opened up enough to tell her that his own parents had been killed in front of him.
Dick had further alluded to having been adopted and raised by someone else, but had never given this 'someone' a name, nor had Dick ever mentioned him or her again. Just today, she'd learned that Dick had a girlfriend.
Very mysterious is our Officer Grayson, she thought. Of course, if what she suspected of her young friend were true, then his aura of mystery was something that he had quite deliberately engineered. Did she have any right to try to shed further light on it than he himself let in?
"Wayne residence," the British voice repeated, abruptly reminding Amy of her duty. "How may I help you?"
"Good morning. I'm Captain Amelia Rohrbach. Is this the residence of Officer Richard Grayson?" There was a brief silence on the other end, a silence that Amy recognized all too well from the numerous such phone calls she'd been forced to make through the years.
The call that all families dreaded, the call that their loved one might be hurt--or worse. Before the voice on the other end could speak again, Amy knew she had the right number.
"I-Is Master Richard all right?" The speaker had lost some of his former urbane coolness. "Has he been hurt?"
"Please, I must know with whom I am speaking," Amy said with regret. "Are you a family member?" Again, the slight hesitation. She heard what sounded like a throat being cleared, then the voice came back stronger, filled with more resolve.
"Yes...I am most certainly a family member. I'm the boy's...grandfather." Amy thought she heard him say something else, but wasn't sure. It sounded a little like, "Practically." Another mystery, Amy thought with a smile.
"Sir, may I have your name? And also I need to know if there is anyone else that needs to be contacted. I'm afraid that Officer Grayson's emergency contact sheet only listed this number, but no names."
"My name is Alfred Pennyworth. Master Dick's father is Mr. Bruce Wayne. And please do not concern yourself. I assure you that it is best that I inform him of his son's hospitalization. Thank you for taking the time to call personally, Capt. Rohrbach. Master Dick has spoken highly of you. I can see why. Now, if you will excuse me, I must contact Mr. Wayne."
"No, wait! Mr. Pennyworth! Please, don't hang up, sir. It's my responsibility to inform our officers' next-of-kin--!"
"And you have done so already, Captain. Good day."
The line went dead. Amy stared at the phone in her hand. "You're welcome," she muttered. Grabbing her hat, Amy headed for the back entrance where her police cruiser was parked. As she hurried outside, she mulled over the odd conversation with Dick's 'grandfather.'
Why wouldn't he let her make the necessary phone call? she wondered. Admittedly, some family members tended to take bad news harder than others--especially over the phone. Perhaps this Alfred Pennyworth knew Dick's father well enough to know that he needed to receive this type of news in person.
"Curiouser and curiouser," she muttered. As she pulled out of the BPD parking lot, Amy hit her lights and siren, and with a screech of tires, sped off. Dick's injuries didn't appear to be life threatening, but she wanted to be there just in case.
As she drove she considered the new information she had just learned about her ex-partner. Apparently, Dick's heretofore unnamed adoptive father was finally unmasked. But Bruce Wayne? She shook her head in disbelief. It's so hard to believe. Dick's adoptive father is none other than Gotham City's favorite gazillionaire playboy. Amy let out a long breath. Well, that's one mystery solved, but it sure opened up a whole new Pandora's Box of mysteries.
"And number one on the list is: Why would the heir to the Wayne millions become a 30-thousand dollar a year cop?" Amy thought about her own suspicions regarding her ex-partner. She thought of the countless mornings when he'd dragged himself into work, apparently having pulled yet another all-nighter.
That in itself meant nothing, of course. Dick could just be a night owl who loved to party all night long. And if he'd been raised by Gotham City's most infamous playboy, Bruce Wayne, then--
"But Dick isn't the partying type," she murmured. "Of that, I'll bet my life on." Reluctantly, Any's mind went back to that terrible night when she and her family were attacked, their home blown up. She remembered how reckless the young vigilante, Nightwing, had seemed at first, when he'd announced that he was there to save their lives.
More importantly, Amy remembered how quickly he'd gained her family's trust: He's exhibited a surprisingly gentle side with her two kids and successfully won them over; he'd exerted just the right amount of macho-insistence with her husband in order to make him listen; and he'd been extremely respectful when he'd spoken to her.
In the end, what had appeared as recklessness on first look had proven to be a quiet self-confidence in the young vigilante's own abilities.
Additionally, Amy remembered how familiar he'd seemed to her: She recalled the way he tilted his head just so when he made an especially important point; the way his forelock seemed to have a mind of its own and kept falling over his eyes; the way his face lit up when he smiled.
"Plus, same height, same hair color, same build as Dick Grayson," Amy added to herself as she pulled into the hospital emergency parking lot. Putting all the puzzle pieces together, Amy finally admitted, "Nightwing and Dick Grayson are the same person." She stepped out into the cool April morning, and stood for a moment, looking pensive.
Amy had added two and two weeks ago; however, she had not allowed herself to articulate her suspicions. At the time, she'd realized that if her partner were Nightwing, then he had joined the Force in order to find a way to clean up its corruption from the inside. At first, she'd been insulted that a lone, costumed vigilante could hope to do what she and her inner circle of honest cops had failed to accomplish in the ten years since her father's death.
Luckily for her and the BPD, she quickly changed her mind and accepted Nightwing's presence for what it was--much-needed help.
Because of Nightwing, Chief Redhorn's reign of police corruption was over. Because of Nightwing, Blockbuster's reign of terror over the city of Bludhaven was coming to close. Because of Nightwing...
"Because of Nightwing, Bludhaven's Finest are finally able to hold their heads up again," she murmured. Feeling her eyes tear up, Amy jogged to the emergency entrance and hurried to the admissions desk.
The quiet of the intensive care unit was broken suddenly by loud, angry voices. At the sounds, Amy noticed that Dick's monitors took a sudden jump and then started acting crazy.
"Dick!" she cried out. She ran to the door and called out. "I need help here! Stat!"
Immediately, the commotion in the hallway broke up as nurses, doctors, and uniformed officers moved in different directions. To the untrained eye, their actions seemed chaotic. To someone who had been through this before, Amy saw it for it actually was, a well-orchestrated team effort.
Holding open the door, Amy finally saw the cause of the earlier commotion. Two men were being blocked by several of her uniformed officers. A tall, dark, stunningly handsome man glared at the officers and spoke curtly to them. The second gentleman, on the other hand, spoke quietly and insistently in the first man's ear. At last, the younger man nodded curtly.
As the medical team rushed into the ICU, Amy caught the stranger's eye. A sudden shiver shot through her spine. Never in her life had Amy ever been subjected to such a coldly furious glare.
The monitors had settled down and Dick appeared to be sleeping quietly. The attending doctor checked him over carefully, and satisfied that Dick was all right signaled the others to clear the room.
"I don't understand it, Captain Rohrbach," he said with a slight shake of his head. "Officer Grayson appears to be sleeping pretty soundly." He shrugged. "Maybe the equipment had a power surge or something. I'll have the techs check it out."
"Thank you, doctor," Amy said gratefully. After the doctor left, there was a quiet knock at the door. Gannon stuck his head in.
"Captain? There're two men here claiming to be Dick's next-of-kin." He smiled wickedly. "And you won't believe who his 'dad' claims to be."
"Bruce Wayne?" Amy asked airily. Gannon's face fell, then changed to one of bemusement.
"You...you mean...Dick's father really is--?" He left the question unfinished. Amy nodded.
"'Fraid so." She pulled him inside. "Gannon, remember what I said earlier about--if you really want to help our young friend here, you won't remember how he was shot?"
Gannon nodded. "Yeah, Cap'n. I remember."
"Well...You don't know his father's name, either, okay?" They both turned and looked down at the still form on the bed. "I have a feeling that when Officer Grayson wants everyone on the Force to know who his father is, he'll tell them. Until then..."
"Don't worry, Cap'n," Gannon assured her. "When it comes to remembering facts and figures, I'm not the greatest. Why do you think I haven't passed the Sergeant's Test yet?"
Amy smiled. "Thanks, Gannon. I knew that you were the right man for the job when I picked you to take my place." Nodding, Gannon opened the door and stepped aside. The two men that Amy had spotted earlier walked in.
Tall, Dark, and Handsome ignored Amy, making his way immediately to Dick's side. Oblivious to their presence, he took Dick's hand in his and spoke quietly to him. Immediately, the monitors again jumped. Amy gasped. Not again!
"Gannon, get that emergency team in here! Stat!"
"No! Wait!" The elderly gentleman who'd stood respectfully back was suddenly blocking the door. "Please...everything's all right. Look!" He pointed at the bed where Dick lay. "Mr. Wayne is only talking to the young Master. It sometimes takes a while before..." As he spoke the monitors stopped their wild pinging and crazy readings, settling down again. "Before the young Master settles down. Look, everything's all right now."
"What the--?" Gannon muttered.
"Please, sir. Would you mind if Mr. Wayne and I spoke in private with Master Richard?"
"What? Hey, that's my partner!" Gannon protested. "He saved my life--!"
"Gannon!" Amy said sharply. Gannon gave her contrite look. She jerked her head at the door. "Go on. I'll stay here."
"Yes, Cap'n," he murmured.
"You must be Mr. Pennyworth," Amy said after Gannon left. The proper English gentleman nodded. "I'm Captain Rohrbach. Officer Grayson was my partner until recently. I'm very pleased to meet you."
"Yes, of course," Alfred said. "Captain, if you wouldn't mind--?" But Amy had moved next to Bruce Wayne. The millionaire sat quietly on the side of the bed, holding his son's hand. Gently, he reached over and brushed Dick's forelock out of his eyes. Inexplicably, Amy felt her eyes well up.
"Never could make that stay in place," Wayne murmured. "Ever since he was a little boy. No amount of brushing, no haircut, no gel could ever make it stay." He looked up her, his dark blue eyes--so like Dick's she realized--boring into hers.
"I didn't want him to join the Force," he said.
"I'm sorry," Amy said helplessly. This was the part of the job she hated the most.
"I was afraid that this very thing would happen--that one day I'd get a call, informing me my son had been shot." His voice dropped to a whisper. "Or killed."
The monitors started acting up again, their incessantly beeping noise growing in volume. Amy looked around nervously. What was going on?
Wayne shook his head. "Don't be sorry, Capt. Rohrbach. Don't ever be sorry for doing what you believe in." He ran the back of his hand down Dick's cheek. "I was wrong, son. I want you to know that. You were right, and I was wrong. Joining the Force was the right thing to do." His brooding eyes looked infinitely sad.
Unexpectedly, his eyes seemed to light from within--again, so like Dick's, Amy saw--and his expression softened into an almost-smile.
"I'm very proud of you, Dick," he murmured. "I want you to know that. I know that I don't say it often..." He grinned ruefully. "Okay, more like almost never...but I've always been proud of you. And I'm prouder still that you gave me the honor of being your father."
By this time, the monitors had settled back down again, and soon the only sound in the room was the steady 'beep...beep...beep' of the heart monitors.
"Does this mean that you won't get all psycho on me if I'm shot again?" They all looked down at the sleepily grinning face.
"I'll do my best," Bruce said. "But you have to promise me to always wear your vest--"
"He will," Amy interjected sharply. "Or I'll have his badge!"
"Thanks, Mom," Dick muttered sarcastically.
"Master Richard, that is no way to address a lady, and a superior officer," Alfred said scandalized. "I taught you better manners than that, young sir." He looked first at Amy and then at Bruce. "If this young man forgets himself again, it will be my pleasure to take him over my knee and give him a good spanking."
"Now you're all ganging up on me," Dick protested. "That's not fair! I'm injured, remember?" He looked up at them entreatingly. "I'm supposed to get cocoa, that's the house rule."
Smiling, Alfred leaned down and smoothed Dick's hair out of his eyes. "Oh, but Master Dick, don't you remember? You're not in Kansas anymore--?"
"Huh?" Dick said perplexed.
"Or, should I say Gotham City?" Alfred and Bruce both sat down on either side of Dick.
"What Alfred's trying to say, son," Bruce said, "is that you're not our little boy anymore. You're all grown up now. And we've both finally grown to accept that."
"I guess that means no cocoa." Dick felt strangely sad.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Alfred said, taking out a silver Thermos. Soon, he had poured each of them a steaming cup of the sweet drink. With Alfred's patient instruction, Bruce figured out how to raise the bed to a sitting position, but not before raising the wrong end first.
Dick gave Amy a rueful grin. "That's my dad." When Dick was finally comfortably sitting up, Alfred handed them each a cup.
"I propose a toast," Amy said. "To Officer Richard John Grayson--Bludhaven's Finest!"