A/N: I do not own anything that involves any Batman or Bleach in this story or any of my other ones. Now that is taken care of, a little info on the story. This story takes place after the events of Arkham Knight. So if you haven't completed the game, you might want to wait on reading this one until you completed it because of the spoilers that will be in the story. Spoilers ahead: Two things that I've changed from the game: Ivy is still alive, and the Joker infected, are still alive. Thanks for reading and if you have the time please review.
Gotham, on the outside was a beautiful city. But for the longest time, on the inside it was like a rotting corpse. That all changed when the Clown Prince of Crime, also known as the Joker died. When a calm fell over the city, all rejoiced. Well all except for those who knew better. Commissioner Gordon knew it was just the calm before the storm. And all he had to do, was wait.
He wasn't the only one. A certain caped crusader was ever vigilant. The Joker may have been gone, but there were many left. Many who held a grudge. Whether it was a personal vendetta against the city of Gotham, or maybe it ran a little deeper. Maybe the grudge had nothing to do with the city. Maybe it had everything to do with the city's guardian. The Batman.
The calm ended when Scarecrow decided to shower the entire city with his fear toxin. Batman may have saved the city with Ivy, but in the end, Scarecrow would have the last laugh. Everyone knew his identity. Bruce Wayne's life as Batman was over. He needed to be separate from everyone else to do his job. But now it was over. Gone was the mystique, the myth that once was the Batman. Now he was just Bruce Wayne.
A billionaire whose childhood was scarred. There was no way he could rectify the situation. It was over. Finality sinks in and one usually looks back on their choices and what led them down their respective path. Not Bruce Wayne. It wasn't destiny that brought him to this point, it was necessity. It was something that Gotham needed. Were there regrets? Of course. Barbara's condition. His fault. Jason Todd's torture. His fault. Talia's death. His fault. Those among many others, were things he would have to live and die with.
"This is how the Batman dies."
Perhaps. Maybe this Batman had to die to open the door for another to take his place. A man can die, but a legend…a legend remains.
While Batman stood on top of Wayne Enterprises, he leaned his head forward with a finger placed on his ear and spoke.
"Master Bruce? Thank heaven. I saw everything. I don't have the words…"
"Neither do I. Are you alright?"
"Well sir, as you can expect things have become quite hectic here. It seems you've acquired some new fans. It must be dozens outside the house."
"The media no doubt. Is everything in place?"
"Of course sir. I just…never in a thousand years…"
"We knew the risks Alfred."
"I take it that you will be going to see Master Ichigo?"
"Yes. This responsibility unfortunately falls to him."
Ichigo Kurosaki. A teenager, who Bruce had found years ago, beaten and bloodied. He didn't know why, but Bruce took him to an alternate Batcave, one that even Tim, Dick, and Barbara weren't aware about.
He nursed the boy back to health but to his disappointment Ichigo refused to speak. Months went by and when Bruce had nearly given up hope of connecting with the strange teenager, Ichigo finally began conversing with him. He told Bruce about himself and what his name meant and a smile formed on the caped crusader's face.
Ichigo, then proceeded to tell the masked vigilante about the situation that he was found in. Turns out he was intervening a mugging. He had handled himself fairly well amongst the hoodlums but when a crowbar entered the fray, Ichigo found himself on the receiving end of being battered.
"He who protects."
One hell of a name. A fitting name.
The boy had showed a resolve that few his age would. It was then Bruce Wayne made a decision that would effect Gotham forever. He took another apprentice. Not just a sidekick, no this boy would become his heir.
Now it didn't escape Bruce's mind about what the reaction would be. From Tim, Dick, or even Barbara. Resentment from Dick more then likely. Tim and Barbara probably would come around in time. That's why he kept Ichigo's training and presence a secret.
Years of intense training kept Ichigo in peaked form. Now at the ripe age of 20, Ichigo began to grow restless. Bruce couldn't blame him. He didn't get to live the normal life of someone his age, but the same could be said for his other students.
"Master Bruce?" Alfred said interrupting Bruce's thoughts.
I'm on my way to talk to Ichigo. It's time. Afterwards I'll be headed home."
"Very well sir."
Batman ended the connection and looked over his city one last time. He was going to miss this place. He was leaving it in capable hands. He raised his hand and shot the Batclaw and began his way toward Ichigo.
Ichigo Kurosaki wasn't always a patient person. Especially a few years ago. That all changed when he met Bruce. Imagine his shock when he discovered that Bruce Wayne was in fact, the feared Batman. Yes, it was because of Bruce Wayne that he learned patience was indeed a virtue, specifically with the training he was put through. If he had to describe it in one word, intense is what he would go with.
He still remember the body aches that he once went through. It took years, and many beatings from his teacher, but he finally defeated the famed Batman in one of his combat sessions. There were no congratulations from Batman, as if he expected one. The Dark Knight just nodded to him and that was the end.
That nod was all Ichigo needed. That simple gesture, was a sign of respect. Ichigo was now confident that he would take his place beside Nightwing, Robin, and Oracle even if he hadn't met any of them yet. Hopefully they would be tolerant of another sidekick joining the fray.
It wasn't just the physical part of the game Bruce taught him. Ichigo quickly learned that the mental aspect of crime fighting was just as important. He was then taught about all the villains and psychopaths that Batman had encountered. Their strengths and weaknesses. It was a never-ending cycle. Physical training, then mental training. Rinse and repeat. Until Today.
Everything changed today. He and the entire city of Gotham watched the unmasking of his mentor. And now he waited. He knew Bruce had some sort of exit strategy, but there wasn't anything he could do for now.
He leaned back into the chair and closed his eyes for what seemed an eternity until he heard the heavy steel door that guarded the cave begin to open.
It wasn't long before Bruce entered the cave, with Ichigo meeting him halfway.
"Bruce, are you alright." He asked.
"What are you going to do? This city needs Batman."
The billionaire chuckled. "This isn't about me anymore. This is about you."
Ichigo nodded. "Okay, so what do you want me to do."
"It's time Ichigo."
Ichigo nearly choked on his own spit. He watched as Bruce walked to the large monitor and typed a series of codes. After the last code a noise from the center of the room caused Ichigo to turn towards it.
A large container raised up. Ichigo knew what it was. That was where his suit was. He and the veteran hero walked towards it together.
"So what am I going to be called? You already got Robin and Nightwing. It better not be something soft like The Sparrow. Who the hell would that scare?"
For the first time Bruce smiled. Sometimes he forgot that Ichigo was still young.
"Ichigo I didn't train you to be a sidekick."
The orange-haired man look confused. "Then what was the training for?"
Bruce press the button on the container and it slowly began to open while Ichigo's eyes nearly bulged out. It wasn't just a suit. It was the suit. It may have been different then the one Bruce wore but it was no doubt the bat suit.
The differences were glaring. There wasn't a cape, and the bat symbol on the chest was red in color. It was a combat suit. (Arkham Knight's Batman Beyond Skin)
"It's a lot lighter then it looks. Very mobile and flexible." Bruce said.
Bruce Wayne raised his brow at that response. He turned to see Ichigo slowy backing away, with his hands in the air.
"Nope. Nah. I don't want it."
Bruce expected the response. He would have been a little disappointed if Ichigo complied too quickly.
"Ichigo, what you want has nothing to do with it. It's what Gotham needs."
"I'd rather be the goddamn Sparrow."
Bruce shook his head. "I know it's a lot to ask. But I trust you with this."
"Why not the other two? Robin and Nightwing. They know Gotham. They'd be better suited to take over."
Bruce frowned. "While both are good candidates, I chose you."
Ichigo sat down and stared back at the older man. "How am I going to live up to your reputation Bruce. The people of Gotham trust you."
"You think that's how it always been? No Ichigo the city hated me. At one time they thought of me no better then the rest of the criminals. Blamed me for most of the problems that it had even though I was the one fixing the problems. It took years to build that trust. It'll be same for you."
"I don't know Bruce…"
"Ichigo, even though your wearing that suit, I am not asking you to carry on my legacy. I want you to create your own. I want you to be better then I ever was. A Batman dies tonight so another can take its place. You can kill a man, but you can't kill a symbol. Gotham needs that symbol, it needs you."
Ichigo nodded at his one time mentor. "How the hell am I suppose to say no after hearing that."
He stood up and put his hand out, Bruce smiled and returned the gesture with a firm handshake.
"There will be hardships Ichigo, I wont lie. But if you are good to this city, it will be good to you."
He released Ichigo's hand and began to walk toward the exit.
"Where will you and Alfred go?"
"Somewhere warm." Bruce said as he continued walking.
Ichigo panicked. "That's it? You ride off into the sunset?"
"That was the plan."
Ichigo chuckled. "How am I suppose to know when to go out there? How am I supposed to do this on my own."
"You'll know when its time to start. I did. Everything you need is in this cave. The car, the jet, the tools, everything needed to succeed. In addition I had Alfred set you up a personal account that allows you to draw funds when you need them."
Ichigo nodded in appreciation. He had known about the account for sometime.
"And you will not have to do it on your own. Not always. You'll find those you trust. Those who you let in." Answered the former Batman
"What about Oracle and my other fellow students? They don't know me, and I highly doubt their going to have a positive reaction when a new Batman starts patrolling Gotham."
Bruce chuckled. "They might surprise you."
"I hate surprises."
Bruce laughed as he took one last look at the cave and gave his last farewell to his student. Ichigo watched as his greatest teacher and friend left for the last time.
Ichigo stood in silence. It was lonelier then he thought it would be. But that was part of the job. At least until he found someone he trusted enough to help.
"Well…now all I need is a butler and I might just survive." Ichigo said to himself.
One year later…
"I'm Jack Ryder and welcome to the show. Today marks the anniversary of the death of Bruce Wayne. A man, who turned out to be much more then what we thought. He had a dark side, as do most of us, but he felt that he had to act on his dark impulses and he became the vigilante known as Batman. Now while I mourn the man's death, we can't let the fact that he took justice into his own hands."
"Are you quite done yet?" A female voice said interrupting the show's host.
Ryder frowned. "Allow me to introduce our guest for today, Miss Vicki Vale."
Vicki Vale, an attractive blonde, was Gotham's most popular reporter.
'Thanks for the intro Jack."
The aggressive host nodded. "I take it from your tone, Ms. Vale, you disagree with me on the subject of vigilante justice."
"Don't twist my words Ryder."
"Then please Ms. Vale explain your stance on the issue, enlighten us all." Ryder said with an obvious condescending tone.
"Statistics show that since Bruce Wayne…Batman's death, crime is at an all time high."
"So your saying that the Gotham Police Department is incompetent?" Ryder asked.
"Those words never came out of my mouth Jack."
Jack threw his hands up in defense. "I apologize. I just though you were implying…"
"When Wayne was still alive his effort helped the Gotham officer's a great deal." She replied.
Ryder nodded. "So the Gotham Police Department isn't incompetent, it has grown complacent instead."
"No what I meant is-"
"What you meant Ms. Vale is that the Courageous Police of this city, relied on Batman for so long they can no longer do their job without said help."
Vicki was silent. She knew Ryder was reveling in this attempted assassination of her character, if the smug look on his face was anything to go by. She regained her composure and made one last statement.
"What I am saying Jack. Gotham needs help. Help that the police on their own, cannot give her. Thanks for the interview." She answered and quickly got up and left, wanting to put as much space between her and that asshat Ryder as possible.
She let out a deep breath as the night's cold wind hit her face. She took out her recorder and pressed a button. "Jack Ryder, biggest jackass ever."
It wasn't long before a taxi stopped for her and she climbed into it.
She never notice a shadowy figure watching her from the rooftops.
"She's right. Gotham does need help."
A few short hours later at a dock's warehouse…
"Hurry up you guys. Penguin wants this shipment out on the streets within the next two days. We got a lot of work to do."
The leader of the small five-man group watched as the other four made their way to them.
"What's the deal Frankie? The boss has been acting strange lately. Likes he anxious."
The leader, Frankie, nodded. "Penguin thinks that he is really close to getting the edge over Two-Face."
He was never able to finish his statement because the roof of the warehouse exploded with a figure coming down within the debris.
They were to stunned to move. The one who stood before them…it was impossible. The Bat was dead, so how?
Before they could regain their senses, Batman landed a crushing uppercut to Frankie that sent him straight to the floor unconscious. That was enough for the rest of the crew to scatter.
"That can't be him!"
"Of course not you idiot! Wayne is dead! Nobody comes back from an explosion like that."
"Then how in the hell do you explain what just happened."
"Its obvious. Some dumbass, decided he wanted to play hero."
"Did you see what he did to Frank? Sure as hell didn't look like he was playing."
The four's conversation ended when they came to an opened crate and each grabbed a automatic rifle.
"Okay. Next time the freak pops up, we blow him away. Everybody keep close so he can't pick us off one by one."
They heard a whistle coming from a dark section of the warehouse and on instinct they all began firing their weapons, and after what seemed an endless array of bullets the firing finally came to a halt.
"Think we got him?"
"Speaking from past experience…no." replied one of the thugs.
Unfortunately, one of the remaining four was pushed forward by his comrades.
"Go check it out young blood."
"I don't want to check it out." He growled back.
"No one ever wants to. But tonight since you're the youngest of the group you're going to do it. Think of it as an initiation of sorts. We've all been through it. Just ask Carl over there."
Carl nodded. "I've already been hung up on the Gargoyles three different times."
"That gives me a ton of confidence."
Seeing no way out of his current predicament the guy just snarled in defeat and slowly made his way down their shooting lane.
"No. Just a lot of bullet holes."
Seeing nothing out of the ordinary he began to back away until he heard a sound.
Click followed then by a whizzing sound.
He felt something hit him in the chest and as he looked down, he saw what looked to be a claw."
He was then forcibly snatched off his feet, toward his captor while letting out a scream. He traveled a few feet in the air before being met with a powerful clothesline type of maneuver quickly followed by a stomp sending him away from the land of consciousness.
The remaining three heard the scream and were instantly on guard. One went to fire before Carl stopped him.
"No save your ammo. Besides you might hit our guy by mistake."
Batman watched the three armed men go from nervous to horrified as he slid their fallen compatriot back to them from where he was standing.
"Two down. Three to go." He said in an almost whisper. His opponents heard it though.
Carl looked down at the unconscious man and then turned to the other two and without any shame said. "I don't like this shit."
He looked back toward the voice's presence and felt a whish of air go by both sides of his face and then heard dual groans.
He peered down to see the last two remaining thugs lying motionless on the ground with Batarangs on the ground near them. And then he heard it. Footsteps. Footsteps coming his way. That was when he got his first clear look at the new Batman.
His appearance was in short, terrifying. There was no cape, instead this suit seemed similar to the Arkham Knights in a way. But this wasn't the Knight, no…the red bat symbol on the chest plate made it clear. On top of that, now that he got a closer look he felt confident that it wasn't Bruce Wayne either. The person in the suit was slightly smaller then Wayne, and looked to depend more on speed and finesse then brute strength.
"And then there was one."
Carl quickly brought his rifle up in firing motion. It wasn't quick enough. Batman was already upon him, throwing his rifle aside and delivered a right straight that snapped Carl's head back.
The longtime thug staggered back before throwing a kick at the Bat. Bad idea. His leg was caught in what could be described as an iron grip.
Batman quickly brought his elbow down on his opponent's leg and heard a scream of pain come from Carl's mouth.
The vigilante then used his right leg to sweep Carl's other leg resulting in a takedown with Carl landing on his back.
Batman ended the struggle with a downward haymaker that sent his opponent into a blissful sleep.
The hero then turned to look at his handiwork All five men down. No deaths. It was a good first night. He didn't get a chance to give himself a pat on the back as he heard police sirens in the distance.
"Must've been the gunshots."
He quickly tied up the goons and place them just outside the entrance of the warehouse.
The young hero stopped and thought for moment.
"Need a way to show them, that hope has return to this city. A small sign of some sort…"
"What do we got Cash?"
The officer turned to see the commissioner closing his car door and lighting up a cigarette. The past year had been difficult for the GCPD but they were making due. The same could be said for James Gordon, The Commissioner of Gotham. First his daughter almost being killed, then the whole Bruce Wayne/Batman fiasco reared its ugly head.
No, Aaron Cash did not envy James Gordon's situation one bit. In fact he felt sympathetic towards the older man.
James Gordon nodded toward the man and came upon Penguin's men gift tied.
"Nice work Aaron."
"Um sir. They were like this when we arrived."
James Gordon's cigarette fell out his mouth. "You don't mean…"
He turned to see Vicki Vale standing outside the yellow tape.
"Ms. Vale. That was quick even for your standards." He responded.
"Flatterer. Would you mind given me a statement. I heard Officer Cash say that those brutes were found tied up when the he arrived."
"Well Ms. Vale, when I find out what actually happened here, you'll be the first to get that statement."
Whoosh. The sound of fluid igniting caused Aaron Cash to jump backwards.
All eyes were now on the warehouse. There in the fire was a symbol. A symbol known to many. The symbol of the Batman.
There was silence between the officer, commissioner, and reporter.
"It looks like we're going to need to get that light repaired, eh Gordon?" Cash chuckled out.
Gordon shook his head. "It's not possible. Wayne is dead."
Vicki Vale smiled. "But his legacy lives own."
Cash and Gordon nodded.
"So Commissioner Gordon, ready for that statement?"
Finally back at his HQ, Batman relaxed. He took his mask off, revealing a mop of orange hair. Ichigo Kurosaki smiled for the first time in ages. It felt good to finally get out in the city, but he knew that this was just the first night, it was going to be a long year.
Bruce was right. There was going to be hardships. There were going to be twists and turns and Ichigo expected it. There was evil in Gotham and he was going to stop it.
He may not be the hero the city wanted, but he was the one they needed.
He wasn't Bruce Wayne…He is Ichigo Kurosaki.
He is Gotham's new hope.
He is Batman.