Gotham is getting used to her new Batman.

Dad was the first to notice.

"He's ... different ... somehow," he told me over dinner, shortly after Jean-Paul Valley was convicted of murder and sent to Arkham. "More relaxed, more ... I don't know ... more at peace with himself." He tried to smile, but I didn't miss the sadness in his eyes when he said it.

I'm pretty sure he knows. He may even have figured out that it was Bruce in the suit before this. He's a smart man. He didn't get to be Police Commishioner of Gotham City on just his good looks. We've never talked about it. He misses his old friend, I think. But he's having a busy time getting to know his new friend and that's helping. "This isn't over, yet," Jean-Paul threatened Dick at his sentencing. I remember Dick's lifted eyebrow.

"Oh, I think it is, pal." Dick was terse. "You've made some bad enemies."

They found him dead in his cell at Arkham one morning less than a week after they transferred him there. There wasn't a mark on him. The only clues were flowers covering Jean-Paul's eyes. The Police were completely baffled. Dick had to explain it to them.

"The 'iris Germanica florintina'," Batman said, "better known as the 'fluer de lis', or, 'bedding flower', was often used in medieval times to lay the dead to rest. Today its best known as the floral symbol of France, chosen so by Charles V. It's also one of the symbols of the Order of St. Dumas." Dick looked speculative. "I wonder where they found their new Azrael? I don't *think* Jean-Paul had any children."

And Alfred has Dick and Tim to look after. Wayne Manor is beginning to be a happy place again and Alfred's smile and droll sense of humor is back. Tim is a tough kid. It's been hard for him and, in the beginning, neither Dick nor I were much help. He may be Robin, but he's not Dick. He's his own person, more rebellious. He's never going to hero-woship Dick the way Dick did Bruce. And that's good. Because Dick isn't Bruce. He may wear the suit, but he doesn't *live* in it. Not the way Bruce did. The Batman was all that Bruce ever had, other than Dick. It was all he ever left himself. Dick doesn't need the same things from his Robin that Bruce did. Bruce needed light and laughter and sanity, a beacon in the darkness of his life. Dick is his own beacon. He needs companionship and someone to share the joy he feels when he flys over the City. I can't do that anymore. But Tim can.

Oracle has taken up cautious residence in the Batcave. And Babs Gordon has taken up cautious residence in Wayne Manor and Dick Grayson's life once more. Frankly, I'm scared spitless. I have no idea what's going to happen. But I do know one thing: I love him. That never changed from all those years ago. Oh, life isn't perfect by any means. No. We fight. Dick just spent last weekend in his own bedroom because we argued. He tells me that, at times, I'm worse than Bruce for needing to be in control.

I know it. But, when you're as physically limited as I am, it's hard not to reach out for control of your life in any way you can. And when you're as touchy about that sort of thing as Dick still is it's hard not to lash out against that control. We're working on it.

With a little help, of course ...

"Miss Barbara," Alfred Pennyworth inquired of me archly, the morning after Dick moved back into his own bedroom, "shall I spread the practice mats in The Batcave or will you and Master Dick be settling this matter in a more civilized manner? Must I order Doctor Markham's book, 'The Control Freak And How To Avoid Them', after all?

I finally stopped laughing long enough to go and talk with Dick. It was nice to have him back. A queen-sized four poster brass bed is big and lonely with only one person to fill it. Dick grinned.

"Hey," he accused, "*you're* the one who just had to have this giant monstrosity. You gotta work on this shiny metal fetish thing, Babs!"

"More like a feather fetish, kiddo," I joked, nibbling his earlobe. "And *you* should talk."

We call Dick's bed, in the Master Bedroom he's inherited from Bruce, "Grayson Acres" ...

Like I said, we're working on it. We may not succeed, I don't know. But it won't be because we didn't try.

Wayne Manor is beginning to be a happy place again.

Alfred swears Bruce is still here. Maybe he's right. Sometimes, on my way down into the Batcave in my special elevator, I can feel him so strongly I have to smile. He is free now. Free of the darkness and the pain. He can love and be loved. And he does.

Alfred's smile and droll sense of humor are back. He tends Bruce's grave with fresh flowers and fresh news almost every day, and faithfully relates all the details of our lives. Alfred never talks to Bruce of important things when they visit. Instead they talk of the small things. Not the battles or the villainous plots thwarted by the new Dynamic Duo. These aren't important.

Instead he tells Bruce about Tim's on going struggle with calculus, and about Dick's own struggle to live up to the Mantle of the Bat.

Dick seldom visits Bruce's grave.

"Roy told me once that the Navajo say no one ever truly dies as long as someone remembers them," he told me when I asked him why. Dick squeezed my hand, smiling.

"Bruce will never die," he said.


To those of ya'll (if any!) who are wondering about the song referred to, here it is in it's entirety:):) Ah adapted it from the song "Hello, Remember Us?" by Leslie Fish from off her "Firebird" album. Which Ah highly recommend to one and all! It is used without permission but Ah think The Fish would approve:):)


Remember me?
The one you left behind
When half of my soul diedM
Hay pal,, you were so kind
Oh, Angel now of hate and lies
Who piles the bodies high
Remember how you laughed at me
And left me alone to cry?

Hello! Hello! Hello!


Remember me? I'll bet you shed a tear
When you cast me into hell And left me dying there
Hey, aren't you glad to see me?
Yeah, I am still alive
Or did you hope to make a world
Where I could not survive?

Hello! Hello! Hello!


Remember me?
I *do* remember you
See how good my world was
And what you forced me to?
And when my heart was buried
The mourning cleared away
I set myself to hunt for you
And waited for this day ...

Hello! Hello! Hello!


Remember me?
I swear that this is trueM
Whatever life remains to me
It will not include you
I know what dreams you've harbored
Come kiss them all goodbye
Come out and claim your Heaven now
Come out, stand up and die!

Hello! Hello! Hello!