As dusk crept into Gotham City and embraced the sprawling metropolis like a lover after many years apart, a dense fog rolled in from the surrounding harbor along with it. It swirled through the slick streets, curling its elongated fingers around the stacks of skyscrapers that permeated the city skyline. Not that there was much of a skyline to begin with. The gray haze that shrouded it seemed to be permanent.
Cars lined the roads below the archaic-style skyscrapers, honking their horns as traffic crawled to an inch. It was the end of the workday, and everyone was impatient to get home before nightfall. That was when Gotham became truly dangerous, for it belonged to the creeps and criminals that lurked in the shadows.
This was their city, and they knew it.
As the fog continued to advance, a lone figure emerged, breaking through the dense layer of white. He darted across the tightly packed road on a motorcycle, maneuvering through each gap with ease, careful not to lose the precious cargo strapped to his back. Around him, cars continued to honk, furious that he could move while their drivers remained stuck.
Passing the endless array of skyscrapers, he lifted his helmeted head and looked up. Despite the modern year, the architecture was still as dark and dreary since the day it was first built. Gargoyles adorned rooftops and the corners of buildings. Sharp curves and edges jutted out from the sides of towers. Shades of blue and gray colored the evening sky, matching the skyscrapers that were painted against it. The only semblance of warmth came from the good people of Gotham and the pallid glow of lights emitting from their windows.
Nothing had changed in the last ten years. Gotham was a city frozen in time.
A bright neon glow caught the rider's eye as it passed over him like a ray from a lighthouse. Atop one of the tallest towers was the most radiant light in all of Gotham. Taking the shape of a W, each point of the glowing letter was as sharp as the tips of a pitchfork.
Shifting his gaze back to the road, the rider sped past the tower and continued for his destination. Although the building belonged to the man he was looking for, he knew he would not find him there. Not at this hour of the evening.
So as the city became nothing more than a dismal speck in his rearview mirror, he pressed on across the bridge that connected Gotham, not bothering to look back at the grime he left behind.
Buildings soon gave way to pine trees as the road once filled with cars became scarce with them. It wasn't long before his motorcycle was the only vehicle on the street. Around him, the piney forest only grew thicker as the night drew nearer.
In the distance, the colossal outline of the manor started to come into view, looking just as sinister as he remembered. With its massive structure and Georgian design, it resembled more of a castle than an estate.
As enticing as it might be to drop in for a visit, there was something he needed to do instead. So he continued down the winding road, driving past the manor and making his way towards the field surrounding it. The rider came to a halt, skidding his bike across the dirt before hopping off the seat and trudging through the blades of dry yellow grass.
As he walked along the rows of graves sticking out of the ground, he read each name and date engraved onto them. Some went back centuries as evidenced by the cracks in the marble, while others were as recent as only a few decades--like those of the Wayne family.
Thomas Wayne. Martha Wayne. Bruce Wayne.
It was this last tombstone that gave him pause.
So it was true then. Bruce was dead. And had been for at least four years if the date on the grave was correct.
Scanning the text from underneath the narrow slits of his helmet, he remained as still as the angelic statues around him. From beneath him, wisps of white fog crept over his boots, covering them completely. But if he noticed, he gave no indication of it as he stood there.
Instead, he unfolded a piece of crinkled paper from inside his leather jacket and began to smooth the wrinkles out with a gloved hand. Though the years had washed out the ink, he could still make out the once bold red letters that spelled 'MISSING' at the top. Just as he could still make out the image of the smiling young woman as his fingers brushed against her faded orange hair.
Her hair had always been her most striking feature.
Tucking the poster back inside his jacket, he waited there until the last drop of sunlight was swallowed up by the darkness. From somewhere in the distance, the howl from a wolf rang out.
Night had finally arrived.
No, the man he had come here for would not be found at Wayne Tower, but rather inside the building behind him. Probably just got home after a long day at work and was ready to lounge by the fireplace. The rider could just picture it. His embroidered fleece robe and matching slippers. His neatly groomed hair with not a strand out of place. His pale, elongated face that never blemished or aged.
But it was his eyes he remembered most vividly. Eyes as blue as the ocean during a storm and just as dangerous. They were the same eyes that had drawn him in and haunted him every waking moment afterwards.
No, the man he sought was not at Wayne Tower. Nor was he six feet under in the grave beneath him like the headstone wanted him to believe.
With one last glance at the manor, the rider adjusted his bag before turning on his heel and starting for his bike.
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