A couple are arguing in an alleyway.
Derek: Listen, Brenda, you should calm down.
Brenda: Calm down!? Do you know how much you embarrassed me?!
Tad: *off panel* Hey!
They turn to see a slightly shorter than average, but very muscular, young man approach them. He has short blond hair and blue eyes. He carries a pool cue in his hand.
Tad: Are you harassing the lady?
Derek: None of your business!
Tad: Seems you're trying to rape her.
Tad tilts his head and looks at Brenda
Brenda: *nervous* You're wrong sweetie, we was just talkin'.
Tad: Then why all shaky?
Derek: Piss off, runt!
Tad's face gets a very nasty look on it
Tad: Well that wasn't very nice
Tad brandishes his cue
Tad: Gonna have to teach you a lesson for raping on Tad's turf
Derek: Oh I'm really scared.
Tad: YOU MAKING FUN OF ME!?
Tad hits Derek with the cue, hard.
Tad: Not so funny now, huh!?!
He keeps hitting Derek over and over as Brenda screams. He then stops and looks up at her.
Tad: What no thank you?!
He sees she's dropped her purse.
Tad: I still deserve a reward.
He rummages through her bag, finds her wallet, and takes some money. He then heads out of the alley in the other direction.
Tad: Someone's gotta clean up the scum around here. Guess it's my job. At least I got rent money now....
We cut to the next morning. As the sun comes up over Wayne Manor, a lone figure on a motorcycle approaches it.
Dick: *narrating* With as much as I do in Chicago, I still spend a lot of time here in Gotham. Even so, my landlord sold my old apartment in Old Town; Alfred managed to get everyone to move ALL my stuff out in time. But I do need a place to stay when I'm in Gotham, and I'd rather it be my own place than at the manor. So, Joseph's going to help me find a place. He sounded a bit haggard on the phone...wonder what he's done now.
Dick pulls up to Wayne Manor, Alfred stands by the door.
Alfred: Master Richard, always good to see you.
Dick: Hey Alfred, where's Joseph.
Alfred looks flustered...for him.
Alfred: This way.
Moments later, we see Joseph is on a makeshift bed in the living room. Dick is a bit shocked as Alfred explains.
Alfred: ...tried to do Master Bruce's full body workout on top of a three days straight shift at the computer on top of all the other work he does in yet another vain attempt to prove himself. I think he's shocked his nervous system.
Dick: I'm surprised he's not dead from attempting Bruce's workouts...never ceases to amaze me the simple-minded foolhardy nature of some people...but then we were all young once...well maybe not you Alfred
Alfred: Au contraire I had my moments
Alfred: Well in my acting days....
Joseph wakes up and groans
Joseph: Not now, Alfred...right now I feel like my body is both lead and elastic!
Dick: Well it's your own fault, what were you thinking?
Alfred: If he were thinking he wouldn't be in this position
Joseph: Oh sure, laugh at me. Just wanted to show Bruce that I'm more than capable
Dick: And what have you proved?
Joseph: That I'm a stubborn ass.
Dick: At least you admit it. So I take it you're gonna need a time out?
Joseph: Ha ha. Unfortunately for you, I need to rest another day before Alfred will let me even go outside.
Sam comes down at this point, rubbing sleep from his eyes. A sleepy Barkley follows him. Sam seems to be clutching a stuffed bird in his hand.
Dick: ...Where'd you get that?
Sam seems to snap awake when he hears Dick's voice. He turns and smiles at the man he considers to be his honorary big brother to both him and his actual big brother.
Sam: Oh, hi Dick. Joey and I went in the city the other day, and I saw this in a toy store window.
Sam holds it up. It's a plump stuffed robin, but with Nightwing's colors
Sam: It's a Nightwing robin!
Dick: ...You know if it weren't for my pride and sense of discretion I could make a killing in merchandising...oh man I sound like Booster Gold, someone slap me.
Joseph: Alfred, could you do that? I don't think I have the coordination at the moment.
Sam: *hugging the toy* It's so squishy!
Dick: Please tell me they have one of Damian....
Joseph: He looked mad enough to spit fire.
Dick: That's his X-mas present sorted out.
Joseph: So, unless I make a recovery in the next few hours, house hunting might be delayed.
Dick: Okay, sport.
Joseph gives him a withering glare for that, but it doesn't work.
Joseph: Maybe take Sam and Damian somewhere...so I can get some rest.
Dick: Can't go to your room and do that?
Alfred: Poor lad practically collapsed on that spot, had to rig up the bed under him.
Dick: Okay my sympathies, but really?...No really?! *To Sam* Let's go see if we can find anymore plush robins eh?
Alfred: Not without breakfast, Master Sam.
Dick: And then maybe we could see if there's a plush Batman
Sam giggles at that as he and Dick head towards the kitchen
Alfred: I'll get you a meal replacement shake, Master Joseph
Dick turns and grins at Joseph
Dick: Oh poor you.
Joseph: *grumpily* Yeah yeah
Dick: Feel better.
Joseph: Oh, we are SO sparring when I get out of this bed
Dick: A hero versus the tech geek, should be interesting
Alfred slaps the back of Dick's head
Dick: You're quite right, *courteously* I look forward to it Joey, bring your best game
Alfred: Now you're just egging him on...
Joseph: Oh when I kick your butt, Circus Boy...!
Sam giggles as he watches this.
Dick: Get well soon, catch you later Joey, come on Sam get some brekkie.
Sam: You're just annoying him by calling him Joey. I'm the only one who can get away with it.
Dick: I know. Just giving him some motivation.
Dick: He'll want to get better faster so he can try to knock me to the mat.
Dick: See, I know how to motivate people. With Damian, for example, I'll use the plushie.
A little while later, Dick, acting "in loco frater", is pulled along by Sam through the streets of Gotham. Dick doesn't mind in the least.
Sam: It's this way!
Dick:*narrating* Note to self, if you think Babs is watching this don't look like your enjoying it
Sam: Come on!
Dick: *narrating* Gotta admit, Sam is a lot like the little brother I dreamed of having as a kid. I mean, I love Damian and all; but he's so...Damian. Note to self...never tell him that.
Sam: Here we are!
They stop in front of a giant toy and comic book shop.
Dick: Did you find the plush robin here?
Dick: Show me!
They go in and Sam takes him to where the plush Robins were. There are 4 bird versions of the four Boy Wonders
Dick: Hehehehe, eat this Booster Gold
Sam: Booster Gold is stupid.
A kid wearing a Booster Gold t-shirt looks up.
Booster Kid: Is not!
Sam: IS TOO!
Dick: Now now, let's not allow a clash of opinions turn into violence...both heroes have their merits, so let's leave it at that
The Booster Gold kid sticks his tongue out at Sam and as soon as he's out of earshot...
Dick: You were totally right
Sam: Of course I am...I know real heroes!
Dick smiles, but then both turn at the sound of a disturbance.
Tad: *off panel* This is a *%&ing
They see Tad arguing with the sales clerk, a small middle aged man in a sweater vest (think Woody Allen).
Dick: Language, kids are present.
Tad: &#$% You! He's overcharging me for a comic!
Clerk: It's the retail price!
Tad: Not at the newsstand at Third and Port!
Clerk: But those are old comics.....
Dick: *whispers to Sam* Learn from this, young one
Dick: *whispers* This is what not to do
Sam: *whispers* Who do you think I am, Damian?
Tad: %&#* you, and your overpriced comics. I'm out of here!
Tad storms out.
Clerk: Oh thank heavens....
Dick: Get all sorts here eh?
Clerk: Normally kids and their parents. But this guy...I heard of him from a few comic sellers. Intense guy, looks like he's a squatter. Buys comics constantly for some reason. No one knows who he is really.
Dick: ...Really? Interesting.
Clerk: Usually he's in the East End or the docks.
Dick: I see, anything you want then kiddo?
Sam heads off to look at the toys and Dick follows.
Sam: Cool! The new hero figures from Okamura's here! Now, what do I want?
Dick: My treat.
A short while later, Sam is the new owner of a Okamura Batman figure with bonus Nightwing and Robin. He and Dick walk down the street.
Dick: I feel strangely proud and honored
Sam: Thanks again, Dick.
Dick: Anytime, Sam.
Sam: Hey, isn't that the guy from the store
Dick notices and is automatically wary. Tad is walking down the street, looking around. Dick keeps a hold of Sam's hand and keeps him close. Tad then bumps into a couple of thugs.
Dick: *narrating* Uh oh, those guys work for Penguin on the less legitimate side of his business
Thug: Watch it kid
Tad: You're human garbage who works for a midget. Out of MY way.
Dick: I'll say this, he's brave.
Sam: And stupid.
Dick: So you know who those are.
Sam: *watching the argument* I do read the files sometimes
Dick: Better help him
Dick takes Sam by the hand and goes into an alley.
Sam: Lemme guess, you got your costume under your clothes.
Dick: Duh, this is Gotham. Never leave the Cave without it.
Soon, Dick is in his Nightwing gear.
Nightwing: Now you stay here, and watch my stuff.
Sam: Kick some ass
Nightwing noogies Sam
Nightwing: Language, young man. And stay put.
Nightwing grapples up onto a nearby roof and flips onto a low wall to observes. Meanwhile, Tad and the thugs argue, oblivious to Nightwing.
Tad: Get out of my way.
Thug: Make me, shrimp!
Tad: Shrimp?! *flexes* I'm almost 200lbs of muscle
Thug 2: Don't care, short stuff
He punches the first thug in the groin.
The first thug went down.
Thug: Kill him!
Nightwing: Not here, chump! *leaps down*
The second thug grabs Tad and sticks him head down into a trash can before extending a knife.
Tad: *from the can* Oh, a wiseguy, huh?!
Nightwing promptly draws an ekrisma stick and disarms the thug and smacks him in the gut. The other thug whistles and more thugs come rushing in. Nightwing turns toward Tad, who is struggling to get out of the trash can
Nightwing: Hope you got some moves, buddy.
Tad manages to get out of the trashcan
Tad: I don't need help! *punches thug in the face*
Nightwing: Doesn't look like it
Nightwing hits one thug in the face with an eskrima stick, kicks off of him and flips into the face of another. Tad pounds a thug in the small of the back with his fists (think "Kirk-Fu")
Nightwing: You don't have any form do you?
Tad: I'm tougher than these goons!
Tad gets kicked in the face by a thug
Nightwing: Being tough isn't enough
The thug then takes Tad and stuffs him into a trashcan, head down, again.
Nightwing: Oy vey
Sam: *poking his head out of the alley* Tell me about it
Nightwing delivers a kick and a punch to two thugs simultaneously. Nightwing sees Tad struggling in the trashcan
Nightwing: *sighs, narrates* Why did I even bother?
Nightwing delivers two blows to end the fight; then goes to the trashcan. He pulls a struggling Tad out.
Nightwing: You...are a moron.
Tad: Not my fault I didn't go to school.
Nightwing: No I mean what kind of idiot picks a fight he has no chance of winning, you have no form, no style and no defense...what the hell were you thinking?
Tad: Well nobody trained me, so I had to learn myself
Nightwing: Well you're not learning, clearly...so take my advice, stop this and go home
Nightwing launches a line and swings off, landing softly behind Sam.
Nightwing: You okay, little one?
Sam: That was awesome! Feel kinda sorry for that guy, whoever he is.
Nightwing starts changing
Nightwing: Don't; he made things worse for himself and started the fight.
Sam: So is he a thug or a tool?
Dick turns, back in his civilian clothes
Dick: He's an idiot
Dick: Look, Sam; I know that came off as too harsh. But even your brother, with his lack of experience, would know better.
Sam: Maybe he'll learn
Dick: Everyone starts somewhere...even the big man
Sam: For some reason, I don't see him making big mistakes
Dick: Well his first night on the job he nearly died and got caught
Dick: He doesn't like to talk about it. Come on, let's head back and go tease your brother.
Meanwhile, Tad storms into the apartment building he is squatting in.
Landlord: Ryerstad, you owe rent!
Tad just opens his door and slams it.
Tad: Stupid hero! What does he know!
He starts wrecking the place in anger. But suddenly, he sees a comic.
Tad: What's this, don't remember this one...
The cover says The Tarantula, its a comic featuring a "costumed hero" in WW2 fighting Nazis, etc.
Tad: "The Tarantula"
He sits down and starts reading
Tad: This guy's right; someone's gotta take on Nazis, thugs, mafia, fifth co-colu-columnists, and the other thugs. And he can't let them live like that masked guy.
Tad puts down the book
Tad: That masked guy is right though; I need to be better. I need to take them all down, and I need to be a better fighter. *thinks* Need to learn somehow.
He looks in his messy apartment for a phone book
Tad: Better start now.
Later, Tad has an almost illegible list.
Tad: *narrating* So that's the martial arts schools and the army surplus stores taken care of. Now, I'm going to need a name eventually. But what....
He looks out the window and sees the cheap bar across the way. Its neon signs advertise drinks, pool and ALL-NITE WINGS. Tad grins.
Tad: *narrating* That's it. *grabs his pool cue* But not until I'm ready. Now its time to beat some punks for rent and training money.
He heads out as it starts to storm.
At Wayne Manor, everyone is eating on the floor as Joseph still can't move.
Dick: You sure you'll be alright to spar AND help me look for a place tomorrow.
Joseph: Sure I'll be alright. Pass the potatoes
Damian: Why can't we eat at the table....
Alfred: It's called "Sympathy for the Sick," Master Damian
Sam: He's just angry because he didn't go to the store with us today.
Damian: I'm surprised you aren't ducking for cover every time it thunders.
Dick: Now boys, be nice.
Joseph: Something wrong?
Dick: Just a chill, I'm fine. *narrating* Got an odd feeling, don't know why....
Meanwhile, at the Iceberg Lounge, Penguin is pacing
Penguin: You let Nightwing, and a random street punk, beat you?!
Thug: To be fair, Mister Cobblepott, the punk didn't do much....
BANG! Penguin shoots him with an umbrella gun.
Penguin: The quantity is irrelevant, the fact is he beat you...and from this can improve
Thug 2: The punk? He was trapped in a garbage can for most of the...
Penguin sticks the umbrella in the man's face
Penguin: I doubt the punk will be discouraged. See unless you kill these people, they will come back and hit you harder...I know
Penguin puts the umbrella on his desk
Penguin: It wasn't too long ago that one of my lieutenants got too big for his britches and forced me out. I needed Batman's help just to get back on top; Oglivy, having turned himself into a freak, is rotting in Blackgate. And we have a weapons shipment to collect. In short gentlemen, if there's a problem we nip it in the bud.
Thug 2: Yes sir
Penguin: So if anyone crosses us again be it hero, punk or freaking girl scout kill them
Penguin: What are you standing around for? DO YOUR JOB!
They nod and head out to get to work
Penguin just sits at his desk and plots
Penguin: Time to start moving some chess pieces.
Voice: *off panel* This is only phase one, Oswald. You want to own Gotham, take it away from Bruce Wayne.
Penguin: And that's why I hired you, Riddler.
Riddler: And I've no real love for Bruce Wayne either; we had a run in just after he got back to Gotham. He ruined some long ranging plans. So, Oswald, Riddle Me This: What is sweeter than long awaited revenge?
Riddler: There's hope for you yet.