Confidence Lost

(a Batman/White Collar crossover) Everything about Neal Caffrey's past prior to his 18th birthday is a mystery, even to him. However, when someone unexpectedly recognizes him by a name that he has never used as an alias before, he learns that the biggest con of his life is quite literally his life.

Gotham City… Seven years ago…

“Really, Grandfather?  Ninja?”  The distaste in Robin’s voice was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  “I’m insulted.”  If the ten-year old Damian Wayne said anything more over the radio, Batman didn’t hear it.  As soon as the last assassin had been put down, he’d taken a running leap off the rooftop and was flying through the cityscape as fast as was humanly possible.  He wasn’t worried about his partner.  Dick Grayson, the man behind the cowl, knew all too well that the boy could look after himself.  No, Batman was worried about another young man; someone who was quite possibly in well over his head.

He was right to be worried.

On the other side of the business district, Red Robin may have won the deadly serious, real life chess game between himself and Ra’s Al Ghul, but he had no time to savor his victory.  Timothy Drake was currently locked in sword-to-staff combat with the practically immortal man, and in this contest of physical prowess, there was no contest.  Red Robin was losing, and losing badly.  As he leaned against the glass window of the high rise building they were fighting in, the young man took a quick mental stock of his situation.

“Fractured cheekbone… Dislocated shoulder… Mid-grade concussion… Gash across my abdomen that would probably be more serious if it weren’t for the armor in my uniform…” 

He swallowed hard as he struggled to stay upright, forcing a smug grin onto his lips, trying to buy himself a little more time.  Just another minute or two and Batman was sure to be there.  His eldest brother would always be there for him.

“Even if you kill me now,” Red Robin said with as much confidence as he had the strength to exude.  “I’ve made sure you’ve lost, Ra’s.  I saved the people he loved.  I saved everything he worked so hard to build.  No compromises.”

Ra’s glared at his young opponent with all the venom of an angry cobra.  “Well done, Detective,” he finally spat out, the rare praise sounding like a vile curse on his lips.  “Although, technically speaking, you have not saved everyone he loved.”  The corners of his mouth pulled into a grim sneer.

Before he could come back with any sort of retort, Red Robin felt a sudden sharp pain his neck.  A blinding panic rose up as he felt his body going numb, but his mind remained acutely aware.  He tried lunge for Ra’s, but the old man just casually stepped out of the way, letting his defeated opponent fall limply to the floor.   Ra’s loomed over Red Robin with confidence. 

“Timothy, Timothy, Timothy,” he chided as he sheathed his sword.  “You may have saved his other loved ones, but you, more than most, know how deeply it wounds your father whenever he loses one of his sons.”

Less than a minute later, a bat-like form shattered the blood stained window that Red Robin had been leaning against earlier. 

“Robin!” Batman shouted, looking around the room and expecting an attack from every shadow it possessed.  However, no assault came.  His instincts told him no one was there, but that knowledge was no comfort.  “Robin?!  Robin, where are you?!”  He quickly took in the appearance of the room.  All signs pointed to the fact that a violent duel involving bladed weapons had just taken place here. There was so much blood on the floor.  Too much blood, and Batman had a sinking suspicion that it all belonged to just one person. 

He quickly noticed a distinct trail leading to a pitch black corner of the otherwise barren room.  Dread roiled in the pit of his stomach as he rushed into the shadows, silent prayers flooding his thoughts.  Time seemed to freeze when his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he clearly saw what the shadows had been hiding.  Above a stack of explosives set to go off in less than twenty seconds, Red Robin’s cape, cowl, and bandoliers were impaled to the wall with Ra’s Al Ghul’s blood-stained scimitar.

Gritting his teeth against the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him, Batman hesitated just long enough to grab the sword and uniform.  Then he escaped the doomed building scant seconds before it imploded within itself.

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Author Notes:

Being both a huge fan of the USA original series "White Collar" and of DC Comic's Batman serials (before their most recent "reboot"), I ended up with an idea for crossing these two fandoms together.  This story essentially re-writes the ending of the comic book Red Robin #12 and takes place right after the end of season 1 of White Collar.

Back when I first wrote this, I looked upon it as an experimental story.  When I started it, I had no clear direction for it at that point in time.  This ended up being one of those pieces where I’m let the characters do what they want to do and basically went along for the ride.

This is a completed story, consisting of this prologue plus thirty-two official chapters.  To those of you brave enough to enjoy the ride on this unconventional crossover, thank you for reading.

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