The mystery man comes to Wayne Manor. Who is he? What does he have to do with Dick? I think this is going to be the conclusion. Warning these chapters will have sexual situations and some violence.
Bruce and Alfred just stare at the young man for what seems to be forever, with their mouths stretched wide.
“My word!" Alfred finally says.
“May I come in?” the stranger asks.
“Yes, you may, so we can get to the bottom of this.” Bruce asks, “WHO ARE YOU?!”
“Don’t you recognize me Dad? Of course you don’t, I don’t look anything like I did the last time you saw me, over a year ago," the guy says. "It’s me Dick!”
Both men’s mouths fly open again. Bruce looks him up and down. The only features that resemble Dick’s are his dark hair and blue eyes. His nose, mouth and general face shape are different, and something else that was intangible doesn’t seem right.
“So, Dick what happened to you? Why did you stay away for so long?”
“Well, after the crash I wondered around, until I lost consciousness. This woman saw me and called an ambulance. She stayed with me till it came, I’m told. I was burned badly on my face and hands. I went through months painful treatments for my burns, debrising, the removing of burned skin, and several reconstructive surgeries.”
“The doctor said I was lucky I didn’t lose a few fingers. At least I was out of it from my head injury and the drugs they gave me most of the time, so I wasn’t in constant pain. When I finally woke up I didn’t know who I was or how I got in that condition,” the young man claiming to be Dick explains.
“I’ve only been well enough to leave the hospital a few weeks. Not long after I was released I started regaining my memory. It took me a while to get up the courage to come home. I was afraid of how you’d all react to the surgical changes to my appearance.”
“What was the doctor’s name,” Bruce asks.
“I don’t remember, I was out of it,” Dick says.
Bruce says, “OK”, with a touch of doubt in his voice. “That doesn’t seem like you Dick; you’ve always had a good memory, even under the worst of circumstances. Dick, would you like to stay in your old room, here, while you get your barring?” Bruce asks.
“Yes I would, I could use some familiar surroundings,” the young man says.
“Please, excuse us while we go and see if the room’s in shape for guests,” Bruce says. With that Bruce and Alfred go up stairs.
Alone in Dick’s old bedroom, the two older men talk.
“Alfred as much as I’d like to think that young man on our couch down stairs is Dick, something doesn’t seem right. I can’t put my finger on it, but if he stays with us a little while I’m sure I will figure it out”, Bruce says.
“I felt it too, when he first arrived and called you “dad” and me “Al”. You’ve never encouraged him to call you, father, Dad or anything of the sort out respect for his birth father; even though you’ve cared for him a like a father since he was a child. Those who really know me know I hate to be called Al or Freddie, anything but Alfred,” he says.
“It’s not just that Alfred, but this uneasy feeling I have deep inside. I hope I’m wrong and that he is Dick,” Bruce says. “If he is I’ll welcome him home with open arms.”
“Master Bruce, what will you do if this young man turns out to be an imposter?”
“Well, old friend it may depend on his reasons for the impersonation and if he has anything to do with the REAL Richard John Grayson’s disappearance.”
“Dick, everything’s ready for you. It’s the room at the end of the hall.” Bruce says.
“I remember,” Dick says almost convincingly.
“There’s a bathroom next to your room. You can shower and change clothes. You can wear the some of the clothes you keep here for emergency use,” Alfred tells him. “I’m sure you're tired.”
“Yes, I am, I think I’ll go to bed. It’s nice to be home,” he says.
The next day after they have Dick’s favorite breakfast of blueberry pancakes.
Bruce says, “I have some surprise visitors for you. They’ll be here at 1:00 p.m.”
At one Alfred opens the door to let Tim and I in. Dick greets us with a polite, "Hello.”
Tim says, ”Hey, remember us it’s Tim and your girlfriend Melody!?”
Dick suddenly looks relieved. He says, “Sorry Tim, I’m tired. How are you, my dear Melody?”
“Fine,” I say.
He asks where the beautiful ring I’m wearing came from. I’m devastated that he doesn’t seem to remember that we are engaged. He covers, by saying he’s still having memory problems. The five of us make awkward small talk for the next hour. Then Tim and I go home. Over the next couple of weeks things don’t improve between Dick and Tim, or Dick and me.
One Day when Dick is out on the town. Bruce, Tim, and I talk about what’s been happening since the young man claiming to be Dick came to Wayne Manor.
Tim tells Bruce how cold he’s been to him since his “return.”
I tell them how HOT he’s been toward me. He won’t keep his hands off of me. He tried everything he can to get me in bed with him, despite the fact we’d agreed not to have sex till we were married. I ALMOST changed my mind, but I thought about how every time we kissed it felt like I was kissing a stranger NOT the love of my life, since he came back.
Bruce tells me about the holes in the story he told him about his whereabouts after the crash and his behavior since he arrived at Wayne manor. Bruce asked him about Eleanor, the stuffed elephant Dick had as a kid.
“He thought I thought was talking about the fat lady from the circus,” Bruce says. “He hasn’t even mentioned Nightwing, the other Titans or Batman. I didn’t bring them up for obvious reasons. I didn’t tell them about his return because I’m not convinced he HAS returned, Melody.”
“I’m not either,” I say. “Why did you tell Tim or me?” I ask.
“I was hoping you could help me prove his identity, one way or the other,” Bruce replies.
“Do you have a plan?” I ask. ‘Of course he does’ I think.
“Yes, I do, a workout, “Bruce says. I see the slightest smile on his face.
A little while after Dick comes home, Bruce suggests they work out in the private gym. They lift weights, jump rope. Then Bruce says, “Let’s get in the pool.”
Bruce looks directly at Dick’s lower shoulder as they swim. He’s checking for the scar the Joker’s bullet left. Then sees if he can do a quadruple summersault on the trapeze. He claims his timings are just off because his leg was injured in the crash.
The next day Bruce decides to confront the young man with his suspicions. He tells him about of the things he’s noticed over the last month. Then he asks him if he had such extensive reconstructive surgery, why are there no scars? He can’t answer Bruce’s questions. Then Bruce asks him to take a DNA test. This causes the man to run out the door. Bruce tries to stop him from leaving but can’t; somehow he managed to slip a listening/tracking device in the man’s jacket pocket. He sped out of the drive way in the car he came in. Bruce follows him in his car.
Bruce turns on receiver in his car. Then he calls me on his car phone. He told me that he planned to confront him today, and stay close by in case he needed me. I’m at a friend’s house close to Wayne Manor. I excuse myself and catch up with Bruce’s car. The suspected imposter stops at a pay phone about two miles later. I park my car and Bruce helps me into his. We listen intently.
He is talking to woman named Sherry.
“He seems to be coming out of the coma,” she says.
“Then we have to go with plan B, sweetheart. I hate do it, we WERE friends. During the shift change in an hour and a half, give him a STRONG dose of the medicine. It’ll look like natural causes.” Bruce has heard all he needs to.
Bruce grabs him by the collar, and says softly but menacingly, “WHO are you, really, DICK?”
“I AM your son Dick,” he says sounding scared out of his mind.
“Stop lying scum!”
“OK, I’m Robert Gates. I was Dick’s roommate in collage.”
“You know Mr. Gates, you really shouldn’t have tried to impersonate someone you haven’t seen in such a long time. He’s changed since you knew him. WHY did you do it?”
“It was for money at first,” Robert says in trembling voice. “Then I fell in love with Melody.”
I cringe at his words.
“She told me how you treat a woman you love, Robert,” Bruce says angrily.” Do you even know where the real Dick Grayson is?”
“A friend and I were driving just outside of Metropolis. We saw the wreckage, and got Dick out. The flight crew was already dead. It’s a good thing we did because it exploded right after that. I called an ambulance. It was then I came up with the plan to take over Dick’s life. I told the EMS I was his brother, and his name was John.”
“How did you think you could pull that off Robert?” Bruce demands to know.
“For one thing I didn’t think he’d live long enough to tell anyone the truth. He’s face was all bloody, with cuts and bruises and swollen. No one else could recognize him. I work as an orderly at St. Johns where they took him, and the staff believed my story about Dick being my brother. My girlfriend, Sherry Braddock is a nurse there. Together we tough of a way to keep him from waking up and spoiling our plans.”
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY SON, TELL ME!” BRUCE grabs Robert’s neck and squeezes hard.
“We started giving him a drug called, Nightopilos. It’s an organic drug out of Asia. We only wanted to keep him unconscious while I worked on my plan. I originally planned to tell you what happened to Dick after I got what I came for. My plan changed when I met HER! Now he has to die!”
Suddenly I feel whatever has happened to Dick is my fault.
“You really think she could love you, after everything you’ve done?” Bruce asks. “She’s in my car listening to everything we say,” Bruce tells him. “You are going to lead us to the hospital, NOW! If you get “lost,” I can track you down!”
With that Bruce punches him, knocking him to the ground. After that Robert comes along, ”nicely.” I get back in my car and follow them. Bruce types a message to Oracle to get him all of the information she can on Nightopilos.
“It is a deadly poison derived from the flower Nightshade and the liver of the poisonous Puffer fish. In low doses it can be used as anesthetic. In higher doses it causes high fevers, sweating, body aches, swelling of the limbs, muscle rigidity, convulsions and/or seizures, erratic heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing. It can impede natural blood clotting. In the worst cases it causes coma, and death by cardiac or respiratory arrest.” Bruce shutters as he reads the symptoms. “How could you do this to another human being, much less someone who thought of you as a friend?” Bruce asks him angrily.
We finally reach St. Johns, almost an hour outside Metropolis. Bruce and I pray we’re not too late. Robert leads us to Dick’s hospital room, 416. We see a blonde nurse sticking a needle into a man’s IV line. Bruce takes action tackling her to the ground. For the first time, we can tell for sure that the man laying in the hospital IS Dick. He looks frail and thin. He’s hooked up to all sorts of machines, besides the IV. His hair is tousled but clean. There are no signs of the injuries Robert described but he’s still in a coma. Bruce grabs Sherry Braddock, by her wrist, never letting go of Robert with his other.
“What did you just put in this man’s IV?” he demands to know, twisting her wrist.
She admits she started putting Nighoplios in his IV right before we came in. She was stopped from finishing by Bruce. Nurses hear the noise and run into the room. Bruce said, “Call the police, this woman just tried to poison my son!”
Sherry admits it’s true. Robert admits he was working with her.
Bruce tells one nurse the entire story and shows her the print out Oracle sent him while the other takes Robert and Sherry to a large storage closet that locks. Before she goes Sherry claims she has the antidote in her locker. We all follow her to check out her story. We see the bottle in her locker just as she claimed. Bruce says we’ll have to take a chance that she’s telling the truth and that this IS the cure and not more Nightoplios. Then one of the nurses insists they perform a blood test to check for the poison. Even thought they’ve never seen a case of Nighoplios poisoning, they will still be able spot abnormalities in Dick’s blood. His chart indicates that there have been abnormalities other times they’ve taken it. At least now they’re have some idea what they are dealing with now.
Suddenly Dick starts shaking violently and sweating heavily, his blood pressure begins dropping. His heart monitor starts going crazy. He’s going into cardiac arrest! The nurse pushes us back and orders a crash cart. They work on him furiously for three minutes until they get his heart started again. I pray the test results get here soon; Dick’s running out of time!
Finally the lab tech returns with results. They compared what was still in the needle with Dick’s blood, and concluded he was injected with whatever’s in the needle. The nurse proceeds with injecting Dick with the antidote. Now all we can do is wait and hope it takes effect soon.
While we wait the nurse tells us the real story of Dick’s injuries after the crash. He had a sever concussion and broken bones in his right leg, his left arm, and a fractured skull and internal injuries. In addition he had lots of cuts, bruises, and minor burns.
She tells us that they all believed Gate’s story because they trusted him. When they saw reports about Dick’s crash they started doubting him, but he always came up with what they thought were reasonable answers to their questions. They pushed misgivings aside. All of the female nurses fell in love with Dick. This doesn’t surprise me.
A couple of hour’s later Dick’s vitals start improving. We start to feel a little more comfortable with leaving the room to eat and rest.
The next morning we get a huge surprise Dick has opened his eyes!
He says hoarsely, “Where have you been?”
We both smile and hug him gentle. He tells us both he loves us. I tell Dick I love him and I missed him terribly. Bruce does the same; after that I lose my battle with the tears building up in my eyes, so does Bruce. Dick asks what happened. I say time enough for that later.
Thanks Syl for trying to help me with this story, and thanks for the use of the Braddock family. The poison Nightoplios is my own creation so to speak ,but the ingredients are real. I’d like to thank my REAL fiancée James for his patience. I love you sweetheart. I’d also like to thank my friend Jeri AKA Sweet rose 47 for being my beta reading and one of my biggest supporters.