Prologue/Funeral For A Friend
Bruce Wayne, former Batman and personal mentor to Terry McGinnis, is now dead. Having been plagued by continuing strokes and heart problems; Wayne finally succumbed to his failing health. Before his death, Bruce urged McGinnis to take time to put down the costume life and finish his education. For a while, young Terry didn't heed to Bruce's advice and continued to battle the crime of Gotham City. But this life became destructive to Terry on a personal level, his mother met a new man and planned to marry, his brother was rebelling from the new union by constantly running away, his girlfriend Dana broke up with him as he neglected her and Bruce was slowly deteriorating before his very eyes. The burden was too much for the young man and with one last tour of the city as Batman; he hung up the suit and finally gave in to Wayne's suggestion. He was tired of watching everyone else live their lives way they wanted and having nothing of his own.
Terry traveled the world, studied and was taught by all the masters that Bruce had learned from. Wayne was only too happy to send him to his former schools and give Terry the chance to learn and not live in vengeance all of his life. Wayne was afraid the boy would become as alone and isolated as he had become, all those years of fighting crime gave him no family, no children...no life. Terry's life had been a rocky one, just as Wayne's was when he was a child. Both had to witness the horror of loved ones being murdered, Bruce had both parents killed in front of his eyes and McGinnis's father was slain upon his return home.
Terry took the mantle of being Batman only to avenge his father's death, much as Bruce had for his parents. Now the young man was beginning to see why Bruce was so alone, the sleepless nights of patrolling the city, the constant bruises and broken bones and the strain of keeping relationships in his daily life took their toll on him. Dana had waited for him for years; she never understood his devotion to Wayne, nor his constant routine of breaking dates with her on spur of the moments. She blasted him for never being there and told him that she was dating another man, one that was always around and cared for her in time of need. McGinnis was crushed; the reason for being this dark knight no longer appealed to him and swore he'd never be that 'thing' ever again. To him, Batman was dead. Gotham City had no appeal to him anymore and voyaged beyond it with no intent on returning ever again. As Bruce and Terry kept in touch during his education, it was decided that McGinnis would become the rightful heir to the Wayne fortune and the legal owner of the company he fought so hard to get back.
Terry was hesitant to say no to his old mentor, he knew that meant he'd have to return one day to that city of sin he swore off years ago, but how could he refuse this great man who changed his life forever. Then, the day finally came as Bruce Wayne died in his home a few months after the documents we're signed. In a chair, by the fireplace, he sat all by himself where the portrait of his mother and father hung, Terry's last email message was still clasped in his hand.
On the small touch pad-like device, which the letter was kept on, was a final thought of Terry's that Bruce had been reading:
Forgive me but I've changed my mind...I no longer wish to be the rightful heir. I want to live my own life and not live in the shadow of yours anymore. If you are angry I'm sorry, but I never want to come back to Gotham City ever again. We've talked about this time and time again, but having seen and learned so much, it's opened my eyes to better possibilities and new ideas. You have been like a father to me and I thank you for your kindness, your wisdom and even being part of your special 'family'. But I want to have no part of becoming the empty shadow to you anymore. Bruce, you are Batman, but I now know I will never be anything but a kid who borrowed you're suit for a short time. I'm not Batman...I am myself. Please send me your thoughts on this soon.Take care and remember to take your meds.
Funeral For A Friend –
The sound of organ music filled the huge gothic looking cathedral, the inside was full of large pillars that stretched for many feet. Stain glass windows adorned the Christian religious icons and the center window that nearly took up an entire wall was that of the Son of God himself. The music was haunting as the place was packed with mourning attendants, dressed in black suits and black dresses, the pews were filled with famous faces of the day and that of ordinary people coming to pay their respects.On the large alter, sat a casket in deep black polished wood, the brass rims and side handles shone from the many lights and candles lit the cathedral as much as it could. The organ continued to play its somber tune and soon the voices of children's choir joined in as they sang their hearts out in praise. In the front pew sat an old Caucasian woman dressed in black with her arm around a man looking very dapper in his suit and tie of black. The man couldn't take his eyes off the casket, blinking lightly a few times; he stared away at the wooden coffin and kept a blank look on his face. The music and chorus came to a finish and a robed priest came to the podium beside the casket, his arms lifted up and began talking loud enough for all to hear his voice.
"We are gathered here today my brothers and sisters, to pray for the soul of the greatest individual whoever lived. Generous and caring to all those he knew or didn't know. His legacy will live on in all those who remember him fondly; Bruce Wayne was a man of principles and of integrity, a man who showed his respect for the community and to business industry itself. Money did not concern him when there was a just cause to be served, when Gotham was ravaged by the great Earthquake years ago, he was there to help rebuild it to a bold new glory. When the poor or underprivileged needed donations or help in their needs, Wayne was always there to give them his charity."
In the crowd watching the sermon, the many faces of old friends of his previous life looked on with tears and nodding of agreement to the priest's words. There were many sitting together a few rows down including his old rival Clark Kent, looking grey but yet still youthful in appearance. As he tilted his glasses looking at the front row with the young man sitting there, he sighed a bit and lifted his head back to continue listening to the speech.
"We must never forget Bruce Wayne for all he has done for this City and to each of us." The priest continued to say. "As I look at the sea of people filling this sacred place today, I see that he was a man who was not only rich in life, but rich in friendships. For that will be his greatest achievement, not wealth, or power, or trying to keep a good image...no, his friendship, his love for all of you here today is what made him the richest man in Gotham."
The young man in the front row sighed and stroked his back tie as if to straighten it. The older woman holding her arm around his shoulder looked at him with curious eyes and leaned in to whisper as the priest babbled on about the dead man.
"What is it Terry?" She said softly to him. "Are you alright?"
"It's...it's ok Barbara." He turned his head to her and gave a light smirk, "I'm fine. I'm the one who should be asking you that."
"I'm ok too Terry." She said to him with a small arm hug. "I've been ready for this day longer then you'll ever know. But deep down, I'm still sad he's gone from the world...just as you are feeling right now."
On Terry's other side was his mother, she still looked good for her age and was holding his hand in comfort as she eavesdropped on their conversation. She took her other hand and stroked his cheek like a loving mother would to her son with a sad look. Terry gave her a nod in thanks and continued to look at the coffin sitting there before his eyes. As he phased out the sounds around him of all the people weeping and the priest giving his long-winded sermon, he could hear Bruce in his mind speaking to him as if he was right there. All those years of knowing the man behind the cowl gave him insight on what Bruce would have responded to him.
"I should have been here for you." Terry thought to himself."It wouldn't have made a difference kid."
"You did what you needed to do...never have regrets." Bruce's voice echoed inside his mind.
"My whole life has been nothing but regrets, Bruce. I get the feeling I should have turned left instead of going on those rights...I'm even sad to say I should have never even met you. Maybe all this wouldn't be the way it is."
"That's nonsense." Bruce replied sternly to him. "We all have choices to make and you made the ones right ones that took you from being some low life punk to the man you are today. I'm proud of you Terry. And so is your mother...and I'm sure your father would have been as well."
"That's all well and good, Bruce. But this doesn't help at all...cause I know your not really talking to me and that you'll never be coming back to show me the way ever again."
"True, but this is what you'd think I say to you isn't it?" Wayne's voice snickered to him. "I may be gone, but you are all that is left of me now. You'll have to make some hard choices soon enough...and you'll have to decide on what path you'll want to be on next. Just remember that whatever way you go...you alone made the choice, it's just a question of...can you live with it for the rest of your life?"
"I don't know..." Terry muttered silently to himself.
"Did you say something dear?" His mother asked.
"No...uh..." The young man snapped to attention as he heard her and shook his head. " I was just thinking to myself, sorry."
The priest finally finished his speech and motioned everyone to stand on their feet. Together they all stood up and listened to the final score of music being played on the organ again. The choir sang the hymn that was being played as the mourners sang along with the lyrics. Terry raised his head up as he chose not to sing along and stared out blankly as he listened to the many voices becoming one in harmony.
As the funeral came to a close, the long line of limos and cars drove to the cemetery and came to place where Bruce would now lay. It was mid- afternoon outside, the sun was obscured by the dark rainy storm clouds slowly building towards the huddled group around the casket as it slowly came to a rest at the bottom of it's grave. As the others turned and walked away, Terry stood still as he looked at the hole in the ground where his former friend now finally came to rest. A tap on his shoulder made him glance around, and saw a middle-aged man with strong looking features and graying dark hair.
"Barbara is tired so I'm going to take her back." The man said.
"Ok Dick." Terry nodded. "Thanks for coming...I know you two never got along much in the end, but I know he'd be grateful that you came to see him one last time."
"Yeah..." Dick snickered. "Batman and Robin together again, huh? If it hadn't been for that one argument in the cave, maybe I'd be still be with him - or laying next to him."
Terry took offense to that and gave him a stern look.
"Easy kid." Dick Grayson smiled patting him on the back. "It was just a small joke. Hell even Bruce would have laughed at that one. But then...in all the years he and I spent together, it seems you got to know him better then I ever would. Take care Terry..."
Dick shook the young man's hand and walked over to Barbara waiting for him. The thunder in the sky now sounded out as the rain began to drip down on Terry; the only one left standing at Bruce's grave. As the rain soaked his head, he crouched down to the edge and dropped down two long stem red roses he took out from his inside jacket pocket. The roses fall into the darkness of the pit and finally hit the casket.
Suddenly another single white rose dropped down and laid overtop of the other two. Terry looked up and saw a young woman wearing a dark blue raincoat and holding a black umbrella. Her long black hair draped over her shoulders like a waterfall and her deep brown eyes gave an intense gaze of sympathy; Terry realized who she was.
"Dana..." He quietly gasped.
"Hello Terry, sorry to hear about Mr. Wayne."
He walked around the grave and came face to face with her; his smile is only for a moment as he remembered that she is no longer with him. The quick retraction from embrace he gave to the woman was too clear a message that she didn't want to be close to him anymore. A simple handshake is all she allowed and looked at him with concern.
"What...uh...what are you doing here?" He asked sheepishly from the awkward moment.
"I heard you came back to pay your respects and I thought I'd come to say mine. Mr. Wayne did a lot for Gotham and even helped you turn your life around."
"That still doesn't explain why you came here, you could have gone to the church to do that."
She fluttered her eyes slightly as she tried to explain and quickly remarked with a serious tone.
"I wanted to know if you were alright, that's all. Don't read too much into this Terr - I'm just a friend checking on someone who doesn't even bother to write to me in all the years he's been away."
"Look -" Terry sighed and rolled his eyes at her comment, "What did you want me to say? Hi Dana, how are things? Thanks for telling me I'm a thoughtless creep on our final meeting and ...oh...good to hear your getting married to a guy I don't even know the name of?"
She became frustrated at him and shook her head in disbelief at his answer.
"Just like you told me you were leaving and never coming back, huh? Even if we did break up, we were still good friends...you could have at least let me know!"
"Oh come on!" McGinnis paced back and forth in anger and pointed at her bitterly, "That's such total crap Dana! You expected me to be all chummy with you after we split? That was the most painful memory of my whole life, not to mention a huge future I had envisioned with you shot down the drain! You broke my heart!"
"You broke mine first!" She screamed back with tears. "I waited for you Terry! I watched girlfriends get married and going out with their boyfriends who always had the time to be with the ones that they loved. And where were you? Off on some stupid errand for old Wayne and never telling him you'd rather be with the woman you love instead. Now I really don't know why I came here anymore...I hated Mr. Wayne! But most of all Terry...I hated...still hate you!"
The woman ran off crying as she said her peace at him. The young man looked on as she ran back to her car and drove off out of the cemetery. Terry grasped his face with emotion and wept as the argument once again overpowered him completely. Turning to the grave he saw Wayne's tombstone sitting there and kicked it with his foot. The stone wasn't really fixed on the ground and the strong hit Terry gave it made the headstone fall down. As it came crashing down, a bolt of lightening streaked across the sky and Terry screamed into the pouring rain.
"I hate you Wayne!! I hate you!! You ruined my life!!"
As he collapsed onto the ground, still sobbing away, the voice of Bruce once again came into his head as he answered him.
"I didn't ruin your life Terry...you did. Vengeance has its price and its sacrifices."
Those cursed words echoed over and over in his brain, as he shed his final tears and walked away from the open grave. As the young man shivered from being wet, he took one last look at the site and gave a scowl at it.
"Damn you Bruce...you should have stopped me long ago. You should have stopped me before it was too late."
Lightening once again lit up the sky as he said those final words and walked away with his hands in his pockets and his black suit collar turned up to protect him from the cold.