Bruce Wayne had heard many sounds in his life.
He'd heard the sounds of crying. Of a mother shouting and screaming for her baby. Of a man yelling at his wife. Of a child calling for his parents.
He'd heard the sounds of the broken. Of sisters who learn that a sibling isn't coming back. Of parents who find out that their kids have been taken to jail. Of sons and daughters who know their parents aren't coming back.
He'd heard the sounds of the joyful. Of siblings who find a long lost sister. Of parents who get to take their sons home. Of a child who rides in the ambulance with a mother who's going to be fine.
He's head the sounds of the fearful. Those who've been hit with Joker's laughing gas and can't stop laughing and are afraid because they know what this means and please help me Batman. Those who've been hit with Scarecrow's Fear Serum and go through their worst fears again and again and please make it stop, I'll do anything. Those who are held hostage by Penguin and his stupid robots and are three heartbeats away from falling into a cage of killer birds.
He's heard the sounds of breaking bones and cars crashing and people screaming and crying and yelling and knew he could do something about it so he went on and he saved the day because that's what he did and that's how he worked.
Bruce knows the sounds of a gun being fired and the bullet whistling through the air. He's heard the sounds of bodies hitting the grey concrete walkway. He's heard the sound of jewels being taken, clinking and clanging against each other. He's heard the sound of a killer getting away, feet slapping against the street as the killer runs.
He knows what a last breath sounds like and the sound of choking on blood. He knows what the sound of desperation is and how it feels when it crowds your chest.
Bruce knows what a bullet tearing through a body sounds like. He knows how a long time friend sounds when he's trying to comfort Bruce that no, sir, I'm fine, go save the city, I'll still be here when you get back. He knows what the sound of heavy breathing is and the cries of pain when a wound is pressed too hard.
He knows what it sounds like to be in the worst condition you can possibly be in, but still have the strength to drag yourself to a hospital.
Bruce knows what a desperate parent sounds like when their child is missing. He knows what true loss is. Bruce knows too many sounds to count.
He knows the sound of a throwing knife. A scream. A bullet. A gun. He knows what the Joker sounds like when he thinks he's triumphant. He knows what Catwoman sounds like when she's trying to tell him she's not a bad girl. Bruce knows how it sounds to be choking on water and coughing harshly to get it out of your lungs.
But there is only one person who can make the sounds that Bruce Wayne wishes he could never hear again. Sounds he wishes he'd never heard.
He's rushing. He's scared. He doesn't know why he let the child join him.
He's terrified. He's running. He's unsure as to why he can't find him.
Batman looks through room after room, trying to find the place they'd put him.
His motivation plays over the speakers even as he finds the room he's looking for.
Batman rushes over, swinging a fist and hitting one man square in the jaw. He drops the other two with combinations of kicks and solid punches.
He hits them all once more just to be sure they're down for the count before he turns to retrieve the precious item.
The boy sits on a chair with his arms and legs bound with ropes. His wrists are rubbed raw and tears stain his cheeks.
As Batman slowly comes forwards with a knife in hand to cut away the bonds holding the child, he speaks in a soft, gentle voice reserved for this child, and this child alone. He speaks softly because he knows the only things this boy has heard over his own begging are the loud cackling and laughing of his captor. He speaks gently because he knows that when they weren't laughing and cackling at the expense of the child, they were throwing harsh words and rude things in his face, telling lies and half truths that aren't true in the least.
When the bonds are cut away, Batman's arms are full of red and black. The boy holds him tightly with tears streaming down his face and his body trembling and shivering and shaking. "I thought you'd never get here in time. I thought they'd kill me before you had the chance." He whispers and Bruce feels his heart breaking over again.
"I'll always find you. Doesn't matter how much they try to hide you or how good they cover their tracks. I'm always going to safe you. That will never change." Bruce tells the child as he hugs him back. "Let's get you home." He murmurs and the young boy clings to his cape in a way that tells Bruce he was vulnerable and scared and Batman needed to avoid the news people.
Batman had heard many sounds in his life, but he knows that there are several sounds he wishes he'd never heard and only one person who can make them.
As he feels the warmth from his son, who'd fallen asleep while they watched Moana, on his side he adds another sound to his list.
He never wanted to hear Dick sound so desperate and hurt.
Bruce sighed as he turned down the television and prepared for a night on the couch.
He never wants to hear the sound of Dick being tortured again.