Sirens screeched through the city's streets. Faded red, blue, and white lights splashed across the horizon's ink towers. Thunder. Lightning. A slow steady rain showered over Bludhaven. A mist fogged blocks and blocks ahead, eerie to the eyes.
The storm's thunder quaked, and the metallic can of paint brushes beside the cash register trembled. The art store's owner returned with his customer's change and a large gift bag and tucked the purchased paint set inside, "Four eighty-five." the coins jingled as they left his palm, "She really oughta like this, Moriah." the gray haired main glanced toward his business' windows, and lightning ran jagged across the muggy night, "Ee. That's a pretty rough storm." he looked back over the counter, "You sure you don't want to wait it out?"
"Nah, I'll be alright. My place isn't too far." she smiled as the owner placed a bow on her purchased gift and wrapped it carefully with additional plastic bags, "Thanks, Jerry."
The front door chimed as she went out into the storm.
She tugged her hood over her head and ventured deeper into the rain. Her bag from the art store was hooked between her folded right arm. She flinched when she turned onto a new corner and was startled by sudden white streaks and thunder. To keep her calm, she kept her head down, picturing happy thoughts as she focused on the pouring rain that hammered over the concrete for the next block.
A gruff utter pulled her from her trance, "What you got there, sweetheart?" a man perched in an alley's corner darkly glanced, causing her to jump.
She kept silent, about to walk on, but two other men, slick with water, blocked her way. They both grinned and the teeth as blood-thirsted cats.
The woman avoided every man's gaze, "I only have a pain set-for my sister. Let me through." a grunt blew out her mouth as she bumped into the left man's burly arm.
He refused to let her by.
"What about the purse, sweetheart?" the figure in the alleyway entreated; his silver eyes traced the violet bag at her shoulder, "Is that for your sister, too?" he dared to remark then smirked. A low chuckle mimicked the storm's roars.
The young woman was outnumbered, but she was fast. Maybe she could hurry back to the art store for help. Her shoe barely broke from the sidewalk's shallow puddle when a powerful hand, with a steel grip, seized her arm.
"No. Please, let me go!" she pleaded and thrashed.
But the men were too strong.
"We only want the purse, sweetheart. I know a Louis when I see 'em." the gruff man growled.
"At first, that's what I wanted." the blocking man on her right spoke; his grin was dark and a red lust glossed his eyes as they traveled the woman's wet blonde hair, revealed after her fallen hood, "You boys take the bag; I'll take the girl."
"Bring her over." said the one in the alley.
"No-" the thugs slipped her purse off her arm, as well as her sister's gift, and roughly dragged her into the pitch, away from the eyes of the flashing sky, "No! Help! Help! Hel-" she shrieked, and her hefty captor clasped his palm around her mouth. It tasted bitter, like rust and dirt.
"Ow!" he howled then shook his large hand as it throbbed. He threw her onto the alley's wet surface; the hard impact ached her bones, "You bitch!"
"Help me!" faster rain dripped past the gloomy clouds and thunder mixed with her tears.
The bleeding man balled his tainted fist, "I'm gonna make you pay for that, darlin'!" lightning flickered in the sky behind his terrorizing silhouette, and he rose his scarlet fist high as the two other men held her squirming body still.
The woman's eyes circled wide, and she braced herself for the incoming hit. A new figure leaped down into the alley, tackling her leading oppressor. Violent punches were thrown, and the stranger's elbow jabbed the first thug unconscious. At that moment, she realized her rescuer was masked, and her arms were soon freed when the two other thugs abandoned her sides to subdue their unexpected threat. The men pulled knives from their jackets and started to swing, inaudible shouts carried over the alley in effort to intimidate their masked opponent.
The hero was tall and well-toned, but the thugs were of equal height and portly. It was a fair match. She scrambled to her feet as the three piled and wrestled; a knife tumbled and buried within the rain, the other soon broken. The masked vigilante chucked another punch and kick, and its power earned a loud groan as one thug slammed into the alley's brick wall. The toned figure, cloaked in black and blue, dodged the final man's vicious hooks, slinging his neck and form, right and left, up and down, right and-
THWACK! He kicked the other man's gut and drove his palm into his chin, drawing fluid in the pitch, presumably thick blood. The mugger fell to his hands and knees and tasted the blood that flowed over his tongue. With a thick spit and dazed eyes, he looked up as rich blue boots approached his weakened form. Fresh lightning colored the masked man's features, and the groggy thug identified him. It sent his tired body into a surge, hotter than the storm that drenched his back. The aching thug shouted and punched the vigilante, producing his feet to slip. But that didn't stop the woman's protector for long. He punched the thug's cheek then his jaw and directed a swift kick at his calves.
The final thug fell onto the ground and was driven unconscious as the hero knelt and punched the man square in the nose. The fight's winner looked across his shoulder and saw the shivering blonde, hiding at the dumpster, "It's alright. You're safe now." his voice was so gentle compared to the combat he'd just delivered.
It certainly wasn't expected. She slowly began to emerge, resembling a frightened golden puppy, approaching someone she could finally trust.
"Where do you live?" he then inquired, "Is it far?" the poor woman was still in too much shock to answer; he reached onto the ground and handed her the purse and gift bag. Her hands trembled as she grabbed them, "May I?" he pointed at the violet purse, damp with rain. When he saw her nod, he unzipped her purse and grabbed her wallet, finding her identification and address, "I can take you there." he comforted and spoke into a device encoded with his glove, delivering a message about the fallen thugs at the front of the alley.
The compassionate vigilante lifted the woman into his arms as though she weighed nothing, "Thank you." she was finally able to say.
He found her quite attractive once they reached the rooftop overlooking the alley and the rain began to slow. It wasn't wise for her to be out on her own that time of night.
She was now able to see her protector in a better light, too, immediately determining who he was, "I've seen you before...You're Bludhaven's new vigilante. You're-"
"Nightwing." he answered and took the woman home.
FIVE YEARS LATER
Policeman barricaded a downtown bar in a sea of white cars and rotating lights.
"Put down your weapons and come out with your hands up! We know you're in there!" the town's chief ordered with a megaphone. He and his team knelt by their cars with their weapons ready.
"Boss," one masked man shut the closed bar's blinds, rattled, "they've got the bar surrounded! What do we do?" his boss' face was fully shielded in red and black leather, split straight down his cast; he could never read his expressions until he spoke.
Their partners, who owned the bar, looked toward the imposing criminal near the door. The disguised figure was a major threat in Bludhaven and Gotham's streets and played by few rules; he cared little for the law. The unidentified man didn't speak.
Instead, he acted.
He sparked the group's solution then soberly said, "Boys, I'm sorry about your bar."
"Police!" some of the chief's men built around the business' wooden entrance, "Open up!"
When the doors remained untouched, the armed officers nodded and kicked down the door.
The set alarm clock jerked heavily on the bedroom's nightstand. The bright morning was far too vibrant for his tired eyes. The young man, who clenched dearly to his covers, freed a fist and beat the loud clock into silence. He dove back into his pillow. A slow groan muttered from his lips as a ringtone rippled to his ears.
Richard Grayson reluctantly greeted the morning's light. His hand staggered over the nightstand's quiet clock and gripped his phone, a pestered silence cuing his caller.
"Good morning, sunshine."
Who else would call him then besides the prominent man who knew his secret world like the back of his own hand, as well as he was acquainted with the amount of zeros currently listed to his bank account?
"What do you want?" the adopted son whined and ran his fingers through his tousled midnight hair.
"That's exactly why I called. Get up and turn on the television. Something happened downtown in Bludhaven last night. I wanted to make sure you weren't involved."
The part-time bartender rolled out his bed and gracelessly stumbled toward his apartment's den.
"Today, Dick?" his father anticipated, annoyed with the slow bare feet that patterned down the younger man's hall.
Dick scoffed and plopped his dazed form in a seat. He reached for his remote and accessed the local news. A well-known bar, not far from where he worked, was shown, blazing with fire and smoke.
"Six cops are dead. Another ten are injured-including your old chief. " Dick worked for Bludhaven's police department last year, but was privately advised to leave by a co-worker who discovered he was Nightwing, "There was a bomb planted. It went off last night after nine when the killed officers knocked down the doors. Someone trapped the bar for police when they decided to come inside."
"Who did it?"
"That's the investigation." Bruce Wayne answered, drinking coffee while remaining vigilant toward the television screen, "I'm just giving you a head's up. A few men at Bludhaven's station went back to the bar this morning and found the remnants of a top of the line grenade. But that wasn't on the news: Batman did some early morning digging." a smirk crossed the millionaire's mug, and he sipped his hot coffee.
"Were the bar owners killed in the explosion? I worked with them at a gig a while back."
"Funny thing-the only bodies found were the officers'."
Dick subconsciously wavered, "There's no way they closed up early and left. They never do."
"Sounds like they were in on the crime."
"What crime? Arson?" the bartenders had too much business to be in over their heads.
"No." Bruce scowled as the disintegrating bar's flames consumed their screens, "Gun smuggling."
A/N: This is my first Nightwing fanfic. Please let me know what I need to work on and what you guys think. Don't hold back. Thanks for reading. I'll post the next chapter soon.