|Taking the Blame
Author: Kinsey Adelaide PM
Bruce has a new ward not an OC but not important either who is trouble, but Dick's taking the blame. Bruce is upset, but it's cuddles by the end. Based on a 1960s comic, so Bruce has emotion and isn't afraid to show it.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family - Bruce W./Batman & Richard G./Nightwing - Words: 2,738 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-25-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8151406
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
So this is based on a few of the early pages in The Brave and the Bold #83 from May-June 1969 (you can read it in Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Volume 2). A teenager named Lance Bruner, recently orphaned, becomes Bruce Wayne's new ward because Lance's parents were close friends with Bruce's parents. Anyway, Lance is bad news; he keeps misbehaving and Dick covers for him. And Bruce, the great detective, believes that Dick is the one being bad! I thought that seemed kind of ridiculous (since Bruce is a detective and all), so I wrote this bit.
"Master Bruce?" Bruce looked up to see Alfred standing in the doorway of his study. "There's a policeman here to see you, sir."
Bruce jumped to his feet, heart racing with worry. "Is Dick here? Is he okay?"
"Yes, Master Bruce, here's fine. Both young masters are safely at home. They returned from running errands about half an hour ago."
Bruce let out a sigh of relief. "Lance is here, too, you say?" Lance Bruner was Bruce's new ward, the recently-orphaned son of some close friends of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Lance was a bit rough around the edges, but Bruce had taken him in out of respect for the ties between Thomas Wayne and Professor Bruner. Although Lance was about the same age as Dick, the two had wildly different temperaments. Nevertheless, Dick had taken Lance under his wing and was doing his best to acclimate Lance to both Wayne Manor and Gotham City.
"Indeed, sir. Master Dick was reading and Master Lance was watching television, last I checked."
"That's a relief." Bruce sat back down. "Show the officer in, Alfred."
"Sir, I believe he wants you to come outside. Something about his motorcycle."
"Oh. Alright." Bruce rose and strode purposefully to the front door.
"Good afternoon, officer." Bruce walked down the Manor's front steps and shook hands with a policeman who was standing next to a department motorcycle. "How can I help one of Gotham's Finest?"
"This might seem a little silly, Mr. Wayne, but I was hoping your ward might be able to help me."
"Yes, see," the officer gestured at the front of his cycle, "someone tagged my motorcycle this afternoon at Barnes & Noble. I happened to see your ward there, and I thought maybe he might know who would have done such a thing."
Bruce walked around to the front of the motorcycle. Someone had spray painted "Fuzz" on the front in giant orange letters. Bruce took a mental photograph the graffiti.
"Well, you're welcome to ask him, Officer-?"
"Smith, but Dick doesn't hang out with kids like that." Bruce frowned. "And how do you even know he was at the bookstore?" Had Dick been hanging out with the wrong crowd? Bruce momentarily wondered.
"Not to worry, Mr. Wayne. Like you, your ward's pretty recognizable. Not to mention you have the nicest cars in Gotham. Can't say I'd be allowing my teenager to drive a Porsche."
Bruce smiled. "Well, just a moment, Officer Smith. I'll go get Dick."
A few minutes later, Dick was standing next to Bruce, talking to Officer Smith.
Dick didn't understand why the officer would need his help until he was shown the graffiti. With one glance, he knew Lance had done it. It was just the kind of trick he would pull.
"Uhhhh," Dick hesitated, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Should he rat Lance out? He was kind of afraid of what might happen to the guy if he did. Would Bruce send Lance off to military school? That was what rich people did with their kids when they misbehaved, wasn't it? Dick didn't want to be responsible for Lance getting sent to military school – he wouldn't be able to withstand the guilt!
"Yes, Dick?" Bruce asked. "Just tell Officer Smith what you know," he encouraged.
Dick closed his eyes for a moment to gather his courage. Bruce was going to be so disappointed and he hated to disappoint Bruce. But he just couldn't bear the thought of being responsible for Lance being sent away.
"I… I…" Dick gulped. "I did it."
Bruce looked shocked. "You admit to writing 'Fuzz' on Officer Smith's motorcycle?"
Dick looked at his feet. He couldn't look at Bruce. "It was just some crazy idea I had. I don't know what I was thinking. But I promise, Officer, that it won't happen again." He looked at Officer Smith. "Ever."
Officer Smith considered for a moment. This was a surprise. From what he knew, Wayne's ward was a good kid. Friendly, considerate, straight-As - the whole she-bang. He certainly hadn't come here expecting the kid to confess.
"Well, I'll overlook it just this once." He looked at Bruce. "For you, Mr. Wayne."
"I appreciate that."
Officer Smith turned to Dick. Before he could say anything, the boy was talking. "I'm really sorry, Officer. I could clean your motorcycle if you like. You know, to make it up to you."
Officer Smith just grinned. "Thanks, kid, but I gotta get going. My shift's almost over. Besides, there are some rookies back at the station who could use a little project to occupy their time."
Office Smith hopped back on his motorcycle and put on his helmet. "Goodbye, Mr. Wayne." Then he slammed down his visor, started the engine, and was gone.
Bruce and Dick stood on the steps in silence for a few moments after the officer had left. Dick really hoped that Bruce wouldn't be too terribly mad at him. He wanted to keep Lance out of military school, but he also didn't want to be grounded for the rest of his life for something he didn't do!
Bruce folded his arms across his chest and looked at Dick. "Young man, what has gotten into you lately?" he asked sternly. "First you 'borrow' some of Alfred's house money without asking. And just yesterday you took the Ferrari out without asking and damaged the fender."
Dick looked at his shoes and gulped. Whoops. He had forgotten about those other infractions of Lance's, for which he had also taken the blame.
"I just don't know what's gotten into you," Bruce repeated. "You're setting a terrible example for Lance."
"I'm sorry," Dick said quietly.
"Well, sorry just isn't going to cut it this time. That was serious what you did. You could have gotten into real trouble. I'm rather ashamed that it's only because I'm Bruce Wayne that you got off. You just can't do things like that, Richard."
Oh, boy, Dick thought. He called me Richard. "I know," Dick said contritely. "And I'm sorry."
Bruce just sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Just… just go to your room. We'll talk about this later." And to further emphasize that the discussion was closed, Bruce turned and stalked back inside, leaving Dick alone on the front steps.
Hours later, Dick lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling. It had been hours, and Bruce still hadn't come up to talk to him and/or punish him further. He was starting to get a little worried. Bruce must have been really mad – he hadn't even been allowed any dinner, although Alfred had sent a little something up.
When Dick looked over at his alarm clock and saw it was approaching his bedtime, he actually felt relieved. He had checked and re-checked his homework a dozen times, and probably thought up at least two dozen terrible punishments that Bruce might inflict on him (although, when thinking logically, he doubted Bruce would use any of them. He really wasn't that kind of guy). Still, sleep would be a welcome distraction.
With a groan, Dick rolled off his bed and padded to his bathroom. He showered, brushed and flossed his teeth, went to the bathroom, and put on his pajamas. When he noticed it wasn't quite officially bedtime yet, he took a few minutes to put away his dirty clothes and to unpack and repack his backpack for school tomorrow. As he worked, he kept glancing at the door, waiting for a knock. Someone should be coming. They had a routine, from which they rarely deviated, even after all these years.
But time passed and Dick couldn't find anything else to do. So he just stood there looking at his bed. He hesitated to turn back the covers because that was something he and Bruce always did together (at least on nights when he went to bed at a fairly normal time). His heart sank, thinking he would have to tuck himself in tonight.
Get a grip, Grayson, he mentally scolded. You just have to turn back your comforter; it's not that difficult.
Dick reached out towards the bed, then stopped. Maybe if he waited a little while longer….
Come on, Dick, you're being punished, he thought. Bruce isn't coming.
As Dick made another abortive attempt to turn back his own bedclothes, there was a knock at the door.
"Dick, may I come in?" Bruce asked, his voice muffled by the door.
"Of course!" Dick exclaimed with undue glee, jumping away from the bed and towards the door.
Bruce poked his head around the door to examine the bed. With a look of relief, he entered the room, gently closing the door behind him. "You didn't think I'd forget to tuck you in, did you?" he asked, noting Dick's pajamas.
Dick looked embarrassed. "Umm, well… I am being punished."
Bruce gave a small smile. "Not that harshly. I know how much this ritual means to you."
"So… I'm forgiven then?"
"Yes." Bruce reached over and turned down the bedclothes. Dick came over and sat down on the bed. Before he could slide under the covers, Bruce put a hand on his shoulder.
"Just a sec, Dick. We do still need to talk."
"Okay." Dick looked up, meeting Bruce's eyes. He really hoped he wouldn't get scolded too badly. He really didn't want to go through that – especially for something he didn't do.
Bruce fixed Dick with a "you're-going-to-get-it-now" look. After watching Dick squirm for a few moments, he smiled slightly and leaned over, putting his arm around Dick's shoulders.
Leaning in close to Dick, Bruce asked softly, "Why did you lie to me?"
Bruce leaned away so that he could talk more loudly. "Come off it, Dick. I know Lance stole that money, wrecked the car, and tagged the police motorcycle."
"When did you figure it out?"
"This evening at dinner, after I'd already sent you to your room."
Dick snorted. "Took you long enough."
Bruce rubbed his face with his hand. "I know. Some detective I am. At first I thought you were just acting out because you had a new sibling, so to speak. But the more I really thought about it, the more I realized how completely out of character this was for you." Bruce paused, then gave Dick a friendly punch in the shoulder. "Plus, that graffiti on the motorcycle was definitely not your handwriting."
Dick threw his hands in the air. "Oh, so that was it! Not my sterling moral character, but the hard evidence of a handwriting analysis."
Bruce nudged Dick. "No, the handwriting just made me realize I was overlooking the obvious."
"And that would be…?"
"Your sterling moral character, of course."
Dick grinned and leaned his head on Bruce's shoulder, delighted that his virtue had been recognized. After a moment's reflection, though, he thought of something that made him a tad upset.
"If you knew I didn't do it, why did I have to stay in my room this whole time?" he pouted.
"You did lie to me," Bruce pointed out.
"Oh." Dick looked at his feet. "I guess so."
"Plus it was helpful not to have you around, possibly trying to take the blame, when I dealt with Lance."
Dick nodded. "I see. So, is he…?" He couldn't get the words out.
"Grounded for two weeks? Yes. And don't try to get him out of his punishment either." Bruce looked severely at Dick.
"Yes, sir," Dick responded crisply, although he felt relieved that Lance wasn't being sent away.
Bruce sighed. "I understand that you were trying to smooth Lance's transition into our family, but he has to take responsibility for his own actions. You aren't doing him any favors by letting him get away with things."
"I know. I just didn't want you to send him to military school."
"Military school!" Bruce exclaimed. "Where'd you get that idea?"
"Isn't that what rich people do when their kids are bad?"
Bruce actually chuckled! "That's a stereotype, Dick."
"Oh," Dick said quietly, feeling a bit silly.
Bruce smiled an amused half-smile. "And, Mr. Grayson, if you really thought I'd send a naughty boy to military school, why weren't you worried I'd send you?"
Dick grinned impertinently. "Well, I know you love me. I figured you'd just be exasperated with my behavior and move on. I wasn't sure how you'd react to Lance."
"That was noble of you, but I'm hardly going to kick him out because of some misbehavior."
Dick looked down, feeling a bit guilty for even momentarily entertaining the notion that Bruce might kick Lance out. "Yeah, but…" he traced his finger along the edge of his bedspread, "… it seems different when you're a kid."
Bruce rubbed Dick's back to let him know that he wasn't upset with him. "I'm sure it does, chum, but loving parents don't just write their children off – no matter how they behave."
Dick grinned devilishly. "So does that -?"
"No," Bruce interrupted quickly. "That most certainly does not give you license to act up."
"Darn," Dick replied with a laugh. "It'd make life so much more interesting, though."
"Life's interesting enough as it is," Bruce exclaimed, as visions of Selina (and Vicky and Linda and Silver and Talia and various other ladies) flashed before his eyes. "Besides, you're the perfect kid just the way you are."
"Awww," Dick teased.
In retaliation, Bruce reached over and tried to give Dick a noogie.
"Ahhh," Dick light-heartedly screamed, jumping off the bed to get away.
"Alright, truce." Bruce held up his hands in surrender. "Come back here." He patted the spot Dick had recently vacated. "It's getting late."
Dick plopped back down on the bed. "But can't I go out on patrol with you?"
Dick looked offended. "I'm not still being punished, am I?"
Bruce reached over and ruffled Dick's hair. "No. But cold and flu season is here, and I don't want you getting sick."
"A little extra rest never hurt anyone. Besides, you're already in your pajamas."
"Well, that can be changed."
"Richard," Bruce said with just the slightest hint of irritation in his voice.
"Okay, okay, I'll go to bed," Dick said quickly, sliding under the covers.
"Good." Bruce leaned down so Dick could hug him in that awkward way that children hug their parents at bedtime, when the little ones can really only throw their arms around their elders' necks. Straightening from his stooped position, Bruce reached down and pulled up Dick's sheet, blanket, and comforter to just under the teen's chin, tucking it around him just the way Dick liked it. Dick grinned up at him.
"Good night, Bruce."
Bruce smiled back, simultaneously brushing Dick's unruly locks from his forehead. He leaned down and brushed a quick kiss where Dick's hairline and forehead met.
"Good night, Dick."
*Sorry if Dick acted a little childish for 16 (or thereabouts). It's just cuter that way!
**And Lance never appears outside of this comic and we don't really hear about him again. Apparently, nonessential characters were completely expendable in the Silver (Copper?) Age!