Edward Nashton heaved open the doors to the Monarch Theatre, stepping out of the rain and shivering. Bright neon lights assailed his eyes, and he squeezed them shut for a moment before looking around in awe. Movie posters hung like tapestries on the wall, framed by blinking orange lights. Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Spy Who Loved Me...aha! There it was: Star Wars. Eddie giggled, peeling off his too-big windbreaker and shaking it out before tying it around his waist. Worming his way through the throng of eager movie-goers, he found his way to the ticket counter. Unfortunately, his eyes barely peaked over the top of it, and the man behind the counter didn’t notice him until he tapped impatiently on the glass.
“One ticket for Star Wars,” he said, pulling out a ten dollar bill and laying it on the counter. “Please.” The man regarded him suspiciously, scratching his second chin.
“Where’re your parents at, kid?” he asked. Eddie smirked a little bit; his parents were at home, thinking that he was sound asleep upstairs. Without a word, he scrounged a hundred-dollar bill out of his father’s wallet and slipped it over the counter. The man didn’t even give it a second glance before snatching it up and shoving it in his pocket.
“Theatre 12, on the right.” he huffed, ripping off a ticket and placing it on the counter. “Enjoy the movie.” Eddie stood on his tiptoes and snatched it in greedy hands, skittering out of the lobby and down the hall. Knuckle-head, he thought as he bounced into theatre 12. He was early; the previews hadn’t even started yet, but the theatre was already packed. He scanned the darkened room from the bottom of the steep stairs. Finally, he spotted an empty seat in the middle of the seventh row. Clutching his ticket stub to his chest, he flew up the stairs and pushed his way through the early arrivees, muttering insincere apologies along the way. He plopped down into his seat with an excited giggle, staring at the blank screen with bated breath.
“It’s not going to start for another fifteen minutes.” the boy next to him said.
“Really?” Eddie asked, looking at him. The other boy nodded, and Eddie groaned and fell back in his chair.
“I had to get here really early,” the other boy explained. “My parents’ movie started half an hour ago.”
“I thought I was gonna be late.” Eddie replied. “I had to walk from Midtown.”
“Why?” the boy asked. Eddie looked around to make sure no-one else was listening, then leaned conspiratorially towards his companion. The other boy leaned in, eager to hear.
“My parents think I’m asleep.” he whispered, breaking into a huge grin. The other boy gasped.
“No.” he breathed. “Really?” Eddie nodded, giggling.
“I took my dad’s wallet earlier and snuck out the window.” he admitted, grinning mischievously.
“That’s so cool!” the other boy whispered. “I tried to do that once, but our butler caught me.”
“You have a butler?” Eddie asked. The other boy nodded. “Yes, he can be quite...vigilant, I’m afraid. Do you have a butler?”
“We have a rat that lives in the wall by the front door.” Eddie answered. “My father set a trap for him, but he took the bait and ran away. I named him Steve.” The other boy chuckled, and Eddie laughed too.
“My name’s Bruce.” the other boy said after a long pause, holding out his hand.
“Edward.” Eddie said, shaking it. “But people us’ally call me Eddie.” The previews had started by now, but they were just as bland and boring as Eddie had expected.
“Hey Bruce, do you like riddles?” he asked, leaning back in his seat.
“Sure. Do you know any good ones?” Bruce asked.
“‘I go away when you say my name. What am I?’” Eddie asked, hiding a smile when his companion’s brow furrowed.
“Is it a cat?” Bruce asked after a moment. Eddie laughed, covering his mouth so that everyone in the theatre wouldn’t notice them.
“No, it’s not a cat!” he hissed, giggling. “Try again.” Bruce leaned back in his chair, thinking hard. He snapped his fingers after a second, sitting up and looking at him.
“It’s silence.” he answered.
“Yeah!” Eddie affirmed, pleased. “Now you gotta tell one.”
“Hmm...” Bruce thought, leaning back in his chair. “Ooh, I’ve got it: ‘Black within, red without, four corners, roundabout. What am I?’”
“A chimney.” Eddie answered without hesitation.
“Wow, you’re pretty good at these, aren’t you?” Bruce asked, impressed. “I thought I had a hard one.”
“I do a lot of puzzles.” Eddie replied. “Okay, I’ve got another one for you: “The poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you die. What is it?” Bruce thought for a moment, then shrugged in defeat.
“I don’t know.” he admitted. “What is it?”
“Nothing.” Eddie whispered.
“Aww, that’s no fair!” Bruce complained, laughing and punching him in the arm. “It has to be something!”
“Sure it is!” Eddie objected, forcing a smile as he rubbed the sore spot on his arm. “The poor have nothing, the rich have everything, so they need nothing, and if you don’t eat anything you’ll die.”
“I suppose, when you put it like that...” Bruce trailed off.
“C’mon, just admit that I won.” Eddie teased.
“Alright, you win.” Bruce said, laughing. Eddie began to giggle, and the woman in the row below them turned around.
“Would you two be quiet?” she hissed. “The movie’s going to start soon.” Bruce was startled into silence as she turned back towards the screen, but Eddie stuck his tongue out at the back of her head. Both boys clamped their hands over their mouths to muffle the laughter that followed, looking over at each other mischievously.
“You ever seen any superheroes?” Bruce whispered after a moment. Eddie shook his head.
“Have you?” he asked, keeping his voice low.
“I saw Green Lantern in Metropolis last week.” Bruce breathed, smiling.
“Really?” Eddie gasped. “That’s so cool! What was he doing?”
“He was fighting this snow-themed villain named Icicle.” Bruce embellished. “I didn’t get to see who won, though. My dad caught us before we could.”
“Us?” Eddie asked. Bruce nodded.
“Yeah, me and my friend Tommy.” he explained.
“Lucky!” Eddie whispered in awe. “I’ve never even been to Metropolis.”
“It’s not that far,” Bruce said, then elbowed him playfully. “Hey, maybe you could sneak out and go there.” Eddie laughed, toying with the thought before pushing it aside.
“Nah, my dad would kill me.” he dismissed with a wave of his hand. “Besides, it’d still be a really long way to walk.”
“Maybe we could-” Bruce began, but was cut off by a sudden cacophony of music. Both boys looked to the mammoth screen as a triumphant fanfare announced the beginning of the movie. Eddie leaned back in his chair and drew his knees up to his chest, slack-jawed and wide-eyed as the gargantuan letters approached.
“Episode four?” Bruce muttered in confusion. “Did we miss the first three?” Eddie ignored him, eyes glued to the screen with the wonder and excitement only a child could possess.
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...”
“Oh my god that was awesome!” Eddie exclaimed, wriggling in his chair. Bruce laughed, launching out of his seat.
“Help us, Obi-Wan, you’re our only hope!” he fawned, clasping his hands together. Both boys laughed, and Eddie jumped to his feet.
“Y’know, I betcha I could build a lightsaber.” he said.
“Could not!” Bruce argued.
“Oh yeah I could!” Eddie laughed. “How much you wanna bet?”
“Fifty bucks you can’t!” Bruce offered, holding out his hand.
“I’ll take you up on that!” Eddie agreed, shaking on it. He then launched himself backwards, holding his hands as if gripping a sword and making a bwussh sound with his mouth. “You’ll never beat me, Vader!” Bruce laughed and mimicked him, breathing dramatically in and out.
“We’ll KSHH see about PSHH that, Kenobi!” he challenged. The two boys pretended to duel all the way out of the theatre, mimicking the lightsabers’ sounds with their mouths all the while. Eddie pushed the doors open with his back, launching himself backwards...straight into two adults waiting. Horrified, he quickly scrambled to stand by the door, stiff as a rod. Bruce emerged a second later, looking around for his friend to spot the two guardians.
“Oh hi!” he said, dropping his hands and turning to Eddie. “Ed, these are my mom and dad.”
“I’m real sorry,” Eddie apologized quickly. “I didn’t mean to run into you.” Bruce’s parents smiled kindly down at him.
“That’s alright sweetie.” Bruce’s mother said, then looked to her son. “Who’s your new friend, Bruce?”
“Oh! This is Eddie.” Bruce introduced, as Eddie waved nervously. “We sat next to each other.”
“Well, it looks like you two enjoyed yourselves.” his father said with a laugh. “Eddie, are your parents here? Do you need a ride home?”
“No, they’re in another movie right now.” Eddie lied. “I’ll just wait for them.”
“If you’re sure...” Bruce’s father said. Bruce winked at him and held a finger to his lips, and Eddie smiled. The Waynes turned to leave, and Eddie watched them.
“See you around, Eddie!” Bruce called over his shoulder, waving.
“Yeah.” Eddie murmured to himself. “See ya.”
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a boy.” the Riddler announced, his face looming over them on the Batcomputer’s giant screen. “And his name was Edward Nygma.”
“Well, this settles it.” Tim Drake said, turning to Bruce. “Our rogues are all massive nerds.”
“Edward snuck out one day to see a movie.” the Riddler continued, adjusting his forest-green Jedi robes. “But this wasn’t just any movie. Oh no, children, this was a movie full of thrilling space fights and galactic war, (albeit questionable science, but that’s beside the point.) Everyone in Edward’s class was going to see it. But Edward wasn’t allowed to see it. ‘It’s far too expensive,’ his parents said. ‘Besides, you didn't do anything to earn it.’ Well, Edward didn’t like that answer very much, so he went to bed very early that night, telling his parents that he would be a very good little boy. What his parents didn’t know, however, was that he snuck out the window and went to see the late night showing. And at that show, there was another little boy named Bruce.”
“Uh oh.” Tim said, crossing his arms. Bruce just scowled at the screen.
“Now, Bruce and Edward made a bet,” the Riddler said, grinning now. “For fifty dollars. Edward was sure that he could build a lightsaber, but Bruce said he couldn’t.” Tim looked over at Bruce with one eyebrow raised.
“I was seven when Star Wars came out.” he said, just a little bit defensively. Tim chuckled.
“Edward went home late that night and, try as he might, couldn’t get to sleep.” the Riddler interrupted. “He wanted to build that lightsaber. He, of course, realized that that would take a bit more than he had stored in his little piggy bank, and so satisfied himself with making blueprints. His father took his blueprints away the next day and beat him senseless after discovering that Edward had taken his money to see the movie. Edward was angry; he had worked hard on those blueprints. But no matter, he was patient. A few years later, Edward was an adult. And he certainly hadn’t forgotten about his plans. It took him much longer than he thought,” he said, pulling something out of his robes. “But he finally made his lightsaber.” With an exaggerated motion, he drew what looked to be a flashlight into view and pressed a button on the side. A beam of blinding light sprang from the end, slicing through the air with a buzzing noise. Tim and Bruce jumped back, and the Riddler cackled with pure excitement.
“Oh course it’s green.” Tim muttered. “Why wouldn’t it be green?”
“Bruce Wayne,” the Riddler, looking at the camera with a fiendish grin. “I believe you owe me fifty dollars.”