Author's Note: Since they're taking forever to deal with Dick Grayson in Forever Evil, and we may not even like the result, I'm doing my own version. This is strictly my own AU, but based on my own canon version of the New-52. Lets me be even eviller if I want to :)
FOREVER EVIL, CHAPTER 1
Dick sat upright in the hard chair they'd chained him to. His ribs hurt from where Superwoman had punched them, but the rest of his body felt worse. Ultraman enjoyed working over his prisoners. Rumor said that Dick was the image of Owlman's lost partner, his own Richard Grayson, Talon.
Listening to the barely restrained arguments between Owlman and Ultraman made it clear that there was no love lost between the two. In fact, there seemed to be a thinly disguised rivalry. Maybe something that could be exploited. He sighed and let himself sink back into a drowse to preserve his energy. He hadn't been fed since they captured him, or given water. Thirst would kill him faster, but he be damned if he'd beg. He had to get out of here.
He woke to the familiar feel of a heavy hand on his shoulder. Bruce? He raised his head and the reality of it all came back like a ton of bricks.
"Don't worry, Richard. I'm here for you," a resonant baritone voice said. "You must be thirsty."
Almost Bruce...almost...Dick glared him in the eye, but his own voice trembled. "Who the hell are you?"
"You should drink," Owlman said, holding a cup of water in one hand. He was Bruce's height and wore a cape and cowl, but it was different.
"I want to know who I'm talking to," Dick insisted, licking his lips, seeing his own reflection in Owlman's eyepieces, the stripe on the Nightwing uniform looking blue. Dick's eyes narrowed.
In a very familiar gesture, Owlman pulled back his cowl. A tall man with Bruce's eyes smiled warmly at him. "My name is Thomas Wayne, Junior," he said, emotion on his face. Love? " In another world, you called me the brother you never had. And you were the brother I always hoped for, " Wayne said.
Dick blinked. This was clearly not Bruce. Bruce couldn't begin to express himself this well. This guy thinks I'm his brother? "You're out of your mind!" Dick gritted.
"Many have thought that of me before. When I first came to this earth, I thought I was mad myself. I know you're not the same Richard Grayson I knew. That Richard Grayson is dead, along with most of the world I came from. It was nearly incinerated. Gotham is all but gone. But this is my chance to do it right." He reached behind and unlocked the chains that bound Nightwing to the chair. "And for that...I need your help, Richard."
Owlman stepped away from Dick, turning his back on him. "I don't want what the rest of the syndicate wants. I want something different."
The unfastened chain clanged against the floor. Owlman had only unlocked one cuff. The other still hung from his wrist, along with the length of chain. Nightwing was on his feet. Owlman spun as Dick charged him. "And I want out of here!"
"Why?" Owlman countered Nightwing's strike. "After removing your mask in front of the world, everyone knows your real name, Richard! The Society has already leveled your apartment building in Chicago. You friends have been hunted!" Owlman pulled Nightwing's arm into an arm lock. "Batman is dead," he whispered into his right ear. "The world you knew, both personally and globally is forever gone. Like me, Richard, you need to start over. I'm offering you that chance!"
Dick struggled out of the embrace. "To destroy the world, alongside you?" he spat and swung the chain at his opponent. "No thanks!" He pulled it into a chokehold across Owlman's throat.
"I don't want your help destroying your world, Richard," Owlman grunted. "I need your help saving it from the crime syndicate." Owlman sprang to his feet and flipped Dick over his shoulder. "Your world is a mess! Your Justice League should have cleaned it up and taken control long ago. Ultraman is right about that at least." Dick landed at Owlman's feet. "But he's wrong about everything else," Owlman panted. "His goal is nothing less than to enslave your earth and amass its power for himself, driven by his paranoia and fear." Owlman grabbed the back of Nightwing's neck and threw him against the wall. "But on this world, his supply of kryptonite is limited. Ultraman is vulnerable for the very first time." His fingers closed around Dick's throat, face thrust close to his. "This world is either taken over by him or it's taken over by me."
Owlman moved his forearm against Dick's throat. "These are your only options, Richard. Will you help me stop the crime syndicate?"
Dick looked into Thomas Wayne's eyes, so like Bruce's and knew that his options were limited. He had to use what he had. "Yes."
Thomas backed away. "Until we're ready, I have to chain you back up."
"No!" Dick protested.
Thomas shook his head. "You're in no shape to fight me any further, Richard. And if the Syndicate finds you free, they'll kill you."
Dick reluctantly sank back into the chair. Owlman was right. He wasn't in any shape to defy him. He had to wait, to hope that there would be a chance to get away. The expression on Owlman's face puzzled him, an expression that he'd longed for from Bruce for years. Acceptance and...affection. Dick pulled himself up short. Wait a minute. THIS man was a criminal and a murderer, part of a vicious criminal syndicate. He wasn't a friend and he wasn't family, no matter who he looked and sounded like.
Owlman gave him a friendly smile and retrieved the water glass. With care, he held it to Dick's lips and gave him a long drink. As far as he could tell, there were no chemicals in it. He watched Owlman leave the room and began to meditate on his options. It went without saying that he would use every trick he'd ever been taught to bring down the crime syndicate. He'd also been given valuable intel that he had to get to whatever resistance had formed. Some of the League must have survived. Or if not the League, his lip twisted, he could try Ra's al Ghul or maybe even Lex Luthor hadn't sold out yet.
"I've told him that you aren't his Richard Grayson, but he won't believe me," a familiar British voice said crisply. Dick startled and saw a pale-faced, elderly man in a suit and bowler hat.
"Alfred?" he said wonderingly, then realized that this couldn't be his Alfred. This Alfred Pennyworth had the pasty white skin and red lips of someone exposed to Joker poison.
'Alfred' saw Dick's changes of expression and smiled. "Just so. I am Alfred Pennyworth, Owlman's second in command and trusted servant. He asked me to check on you, see if you required food."
Eyes wide, Dick just examined the man and slowly shook his head at the uncanny resemblance. "Unless you make the same chocolate chip cookies that my Alfred does, I think I'm fine for now..."
'Alfred' snorted. "As a matter of fact, I imagine that I do. Young Master Richard enjoyed my baking before he was...uh...taken from us...so abruptly."
"What happened to your Dick Grayson?" Dick asked, suddenly curious.
'Alfred' frowned. "Thomas made a tactical error and told the boy more truth than he could accept. Richard left us and was murdered by the Joker." 'Alfred's' eyes gleamed. "He was left dismembered, decapitated and...ahem...gift-wrapped for Thomas to find."
"I see," Dick said. "So, your Joker is just as wacko as ours is."
"Perhaps. And the correct tense is 'was'. Thomas disposed of the Joker shortly after Talon was killed." The butler approached Dick, eyeing him closely. "Talon was a weak spot in Thomas' armor. It's just as well he was disposed of before I had to take action."
Dick refused to be cowed, even though this duplicate Alfred gave him the shivers. "What was it that drove Talon away?" he asked.
The old man shrugged. "Merely that Thomas had murdered the Graysons. He'd been contemplating adding a partner and the Grayson boy was both intelligent and talented. The Graysons were petty extortionists themselves, but their payoffs to our gang had been dropping off. Action was needed. Thomas decided to become the boy's mentor and guardian as a way to cultivate an emotional bond." 'Alfred' shook his head. "Thomas shouldn't have allowed himself to become so captivated with the child, regarding him as the sibling his own brother couldn't be. We had lied to Richard all of his life until Thomas decided to" Alfred sniffed. "Come clean and tell him the truth. Master Richard stormed out of the manor and into the Joker's hands."
"Bruce Wayne." Dick asked. "What happened to him?" Maybe an ally if he was still alive...
"Bruce Wayne and his parents were all killed that night in Crime Alley. I made sure of that," Alfred said. "Thomas and I planned it that way. And Thomas knows why they had to go. Do you wonder why I am telling you all this?" He bent over Nightwing, voice a low hiss. "I am Thomas' ally and have dedicated my life to his cause. I will not tolerate anyone or anything that puts him in danger, do you understand? If you betray his trust, I will know and I will kill you." He smiled, teeth yellow against the too-bright lips and too-white skin. "And your death will be longer and more painful than Talon's was." With that, the old man stalked away into the darkness, leaving Nightwing alone.