A cold night wind whipped through the wind-tunnel of Gotham's streets, threatening to tear Nightwing from his perch between two gargoyles. His practised gymnast's grip on the ledge below held him firm, fingers hard and calloused by years of training, his forearms knotted like thick ropes on some ancient sailing ship.
Below him stretched West Brewery Street- a favourite haunt of his during days as Robin. The neighbourhood had been dangerous and seedy, which seemed a requirement for any part of Gotham, but underneath Dick had found a neighbourhood with wonderful characters, friendships, and sense of community. It had become a kind of haven for the wayward, the strange, the weird, and the broken denizens of Gotham's underworld. The people of West Brewery Street had not been saints- more than a few were murderers and worse- but they found a certain stoic pride in their home, and did what they could to contribute to it. Many of Dick's preconceptions about street life had been turned on their head, and his concept of right and wrong had been blurred. The street kids and hookers, the bottom-rung dealers and homeless veterans, the mentally ill and scarred products of abusive homes; they all called the West Brewery home, and they had all taught the young Boy Wonder lessons he would never forget.
Now West Brewery was unrecognizable- gentrified in the years since Dick had left. Its streets once dank and clogged with broken syringes and human detritus, were now brightly lit boulevards around massive condo buildings, patrolled by private security companies rather than police. The young and wealthy now called the area home. The streets were clogged with coffee houses and tapas bars, sushi restaurants, nightclubs and social clubs and health clubs.
It was an outcome that Batman had foreseen in his projections for the future of his city. Not a goal, but a foreseeable outcome of his work.
So now we can stamp this part of the map and say "Mission Accomplished!" and move on he thought bitterly. He wondered what had happened to the people who had lived here. He doubted any of them lived in these condominiums or worked at the high-priced bars and restaurants lining the street. We've just forced them back into another part of town. And then we'll take that back and they'll have to move again. Until we force them into the smallest corner possible, where there won't be anywhere to hide from monsters like the Falconis or Black Mask or Penguin. And while they kill each other over the scraps we've left them, we'll pat ourselves on the back and say how proud we are.
Dick had gradually become aware that his internal voice was beginning to sound more like Bruce all the time- at least in tone, if not in content. It had been one of their points of contention- Bruce continuing to see it as a war, a "never-ending-battle", while Dick would have rather spent his time trying the help the people on the bottom who were merely cannon fodder for the Police Chiefs and Politicians and Crime Families, as they fought their perpetual turf wars.
The car Dick had been waiting for turned the corner and started down West Brewery Street. Dick was pleased, but the nature of the night's work didn't allow him to smile. The black SUV made its way through traffic, and Dick pressed his micro-binoculars to his eyes. Standard plates, no official markings- but windows tinted a shade so dark only government cars could get away with. Its the little things. Dick thought, as he leaped into the gaping emptiness of an alleyway. He let himself fall for four stories, before he angled into a fire escape, catching a steel ladder at it's last rung and flipping into a graceful dive. He danced his way across the girders and drain pipes, a creature entirely in his element.
Nightwing's pace matched the car below as it drove toward the tallest of the buildings, a golden monument to excess. His movements were aggressive to the point of folly. A select few flirted with danger, but Dick Grayson made her his lover.
His athleticism was unmatched. His judgement was not. He was the prodigal son. And he had returned.
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