Bruce was a very busy man who had very many faces to uphold in the Gotham world.
To be able to balance all these he uses multiple handheld devices for communication.
As a business man he has a phone specifically for anything Wayne Incorporated related. Luckily this phone has gotten less use over the years as he passed the business on to Lucius to care for.
However, he still liked to be kept updated and make any huge final decisions as he still has a strong connection to the company his Father raised.
He also has his phone in his office at Wayne Corp. which he uses even less than the cell phone. He still likes to visit to give some face value to his decisions. Nothing was more dramatic than showing up on a conference call that everyone wasn't expecting you to attend. He would mostly waltz into his office while passing a shocked secretary to catch up on all the missed messages.
He also had his communicator which had become his most useful and most used phone in his collection. He uses it to connect with the main interface on the watchtower or most predominately his Bat Cave computer. It was how Oracle contacted him with any new information on cases or disturbances.
His work phone usually was forgotten behind most days and the communicator followed everywhere he went. He remembers coming home late one night to find Alfred turning the business phone around in his hand as he stood silent by the vehicles. He had set it on the table as he looked closely at the Batman Suit.
"Remember the other things in your life."
The comment had left Bruce frowning until the next morning when he had strode into Wayne Corp and sat through a corporate meeting. He kept up the face of Bruce Wayne billionaire with also an undertone of businessman. Swinging his chair a little too much but also working ideas into the conversation without appearing out of character.
He tries to remember to take his business phone out on leisurely evenings. Well he tries taking some leisurely nights so he could take the phone out more.
His final phone he has had with him on every business meeting, leisure night, and night watch. The number has never changed and he always double checks it before going to bed. Making sure he's missed nothing and it's fully charged in case of a late night (or usually morning) call.
It has the least amount of contacts on it and is the phone that usually rings the least but has him answering the fastest. Whenever he receives an incoming call from it his stomach drops and he has to remind himself to stay calm and tackle it like any other case.
It's been quiet for years though and he's not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. But he continues to keep it activated and charged.
The first time it rings in years is when he's at a charity ball as Bruce Wayne and he's got one of the benefactors crooning on his arm. He excuses himself quickly and answers the phone before the woman can comment.
"Hello." He speaks it softly as he finds himself an empty room to close the door and concentrate.
"Uh…Hey." Dick's voice and it's hesitant.
"Are you okay?"
There's a strained chuckle that is so unlike his usual carefree son that his stomach immediately drops. And he prides himself on having great control in any situation but moments like this cause an uncontrollable fear to appear.
"Bad day at work." And Bruce knows that it's his day job because Nightwing would have called the main communicator or Oracle for anything of their night expeditions. But a part of Bruce wishes that it was about their cape adventures because he honestly hasn't dealt with other problems in so long. But Dick is in some sort of emotional pain and he would try and help if he can.
"What happened?" He pulls the phone closer as he can still hear music floating past the walls.
And there's a long pause that Bruce wonders if he will have to convince his eldest to actually tell him. He wonders if he actually would or if he would just tell him to keep his head up and end the call. But thankfully Dick is better with these kinds of things and decides to help him out.
"Do you ever feel like your actions aren't helping enough? That no matter what you do there is too much corruption to stop."
He's never heard Dick's usually full of life and joy voice sink to such an unsure whisper. Bruce has to strain the phone even closer to make it all out. He kind of wishes he hadn't heard it all because these kinds of questions have answers found within one's self. But Bruce isn't teaching a lesson on their cowl identities, he's giving his son advice on his policing career.
"Without you there would be so much more. I know sometimes that it seems so dark and even you feel like you aren't helping enough…but you are. It would be so much worse. Even if it's saving one person, one piece of corrupted soul, then it's enough. And there is always tomorrow."
There is silence for so long that it causes Bruce to sweat a little. He can stay stoned face when facing one of his many archenemies but when faced with being an actual Father figure then he turns into a nervous wreck. He tries calculating other statements that could offer some sort of support to his eldest.
"I saw a little girl get shot today by an officer I thought I could trust. I don't…I think he's going to get away with it."
The sentence is said so slowly and Bruce can actually hear the fragility in the boy's voice. He has to be careful here and try to patch the pieces back together. Something he should have done for all of his boys when he first brought them to the manor all those years ago.
"I know it's hard. The hardest part of our job is when we feel like we have failed. But this is also the reason we must keep fighting."
"It must be nice to be the greatest and to not face losing." The tone was probably meant to come off with more malice but Dick didn't have it in him and it still sounded defeated. Bruce knows how easy it is to turn to anger when faced with failure. He remembers an explosion and holding a cold boy in his arms battered, young and too energetic to now be so still all because he put him in the Robin suit.
It takes him a moment but he realizes this is the moment he is supposed to change. This is when he is supposed to step up and be the Father.
"Let me tell you about a time that still haunts me. That we all have that moment. It all started with the Batmobile tires being stolen…"
He wasn't really expecting much to change because he really hasn't been very good for his boys. But Dick was quick to forgive and was always seeking more people in his life. In that Bruce is glad as he is getting older and the thought of losing them shakes him to his core.
Dick drops by for every Sunday dinner and calls more to talk about cases at work. It isn't exactly personal but Bruce is still new at this and it's hard to turn off the crusader in him. But his eldest seems to enjoy Alfred's cooking and having someone else to discuss everything with.
He doesn't think it would affect the other boys.
He's working out in the large set up of fitness equipment that he has put up in the Bat Cave. The silence still unsettles him when he remembers this place use to have others wrestling and flipping about. Bruce had taken those moments for granted because now everything is quiet except for his grunts and the shifting of his machine.
His phone rings. He knows it's the certain one because he's left everything near the computer as to not be interrupted. The whole system would have an alarm going off if there was an emergency for Batman. The only device he has on him is the phone.
"Hello Mr. Wayne. This is Miss Ashley. Uh…Damian's teacher. We've had an issue where he has gotten into a fight at school. I'm sorry if I've bothered you…I tried his two contacts and received no answer so he gave me this number."
Bruce has to take this information in for a moment because he's realized he doesn't even know Damian's primary contact for school. It must be Alfred but the man has never missed a call from any of the boys since the first day Dick was put into school.
"Is he okay?" He's not sure what to say in this kind of situation but he knows a regular father would not ask about the other boys first. He knows Damian can hold a fight against the harshest of enemies so a few boys at school are nothing.
A voice in his head that sounds a lot like Dick reminds him there is more than just physical pain in a fight.
"He only has a few scrapes. He beat up four boys in his grade and they were sent home earlier. They should be fine. I think we need to discuss some sort of reprimand for the situation."
Damian had started the fight? His boys were usually so careful and knew to keep their identity and power a secret from others.
Well except for one of his boys.
Another voice fills his head and reminds him that sometimes something sets us off and we have to start a fight. It sounds a lot like Jason.
"Can I speak to him?"
"Oh. Yes of course."
There's the sound of movement and muttering until the phone finally reaches the other.
"Hello Father." Bruce has never heard this tone from his youngest before. There was doubt there and something akin to fear. Perhaps he feared Bruce's reaction.
"What happened?" He has to say it as softly as possible because he knows he always sounds gruff.
"I made a mistake. It won't happen again." It's snappy and Bruce has to look closely to understand it as a defense mechanism.
"Damian. Find a spot alone then tell me what happened."
There's a surprise sound and he would have actually liked to see the look on his boy's face since he's usually wearing a complicated mask. Something he has probably copied from him.
"There were these boys and they were talking bad about us. I was able to ignore it for awhile but… I did try. I know the rules. But it got too bad and I couldn't take it."
"You know I don't care about what they say about me."
"Not just you. All of them."
And finally he gets it. Damian means all the boys. He can't imagine what the kids in his class would say about the other Robins but apparently they know enough from the tabloids to set off the youngest.
He takes a moment to admire his youngest boy. Even though what he did was wrong it gives Bruce a nice feeling to know this proud boy cares enough about his family to protect them.
"They don't know anything about our family. It's good to know you have your brothers' backs but I don't think they need to have their pride protected against eleven year old boys."
Damian snorts in reply and Bruce is shocked when no comment about the other Robins' incompetence comes.
The word 'Brother' must be throwing the boy for a loop.
But he needs him to see because even though it is never said there is a bond between all of them. Talia was wrong to leave this boy after training him so long as a weapon. He's much more powerful with this protectiveness of his family.
"I'll come pick you up. We can discuss a light punishment but I don't think this needs any big repercussions."
When he gets to the school he finds the main office with the teacher he had previously spoken to.
"Mr. Wayne! There was no need to come all the way here. You must be a very busy man."
He makes a mental note to start showing up to parent teacher night as he does not recognize this woman at all. Not that Damian has any problems in academics but perhaps he should go just to see what he is learning.
"I'm not too busy to pick up my son."
He sees Damian still pouting in a seat in a corner and he motions to the boy.
"Oh…Of course." She replies.
When the snarky boy is standing beside him Bruce looks back at the woman.
"Please add my number as primary contact."
The car ride home Bruce sneaks a look at the boy and notices the smile in the reflection of the window.
He improves with Damian as well. Slowly but surely he starts to see the surly boy smile more and it helps that Dick is now visiting more. Alfred and Dick who were apparently primary contacts for Damian's school both used ridiculous lies as to why they couldn't get the message but Bruce didn't call them out on it.
It takes many more months for him to get a call from any of his other boys. This time he is in one of those rare business meetings he attends to when the phone goes off.
All of the professional members of this meeting turn their attention on him and give different versions of a glare.
"I've got to take this."
He exits the room with flair to make sure they keep that image of Bruce Wayne in their minds.
"Uh…Hi." He hasn't heard Tim's voice in a very long time that a feeling shakes through him. He thinks it's something close to thankfulness.
"Coffee, Mr. Wayne?" His secretary asks as he walks back to his private office.
He shakes his head and carries on.
"Oh. You're at work. I will call back."
"No!" He surprises even himself with how quickly he shouts that.
Typical of Tim though. Always conscience of what duties everyone has. It made him a very good Robin especially when Bruce was an emotional wreck after….after the explosion. It what makes him such a great leader and an immaculate caseworker. But it also makes it so difficult to communicate with him about emotional business.
"I'm not busy. Do you need me?" Bruce hopes Tim understands that he means need him and not Batman. But if he's using this number then he must be calling as his son and not as a fellow crusader.
"Not really…" And he knew Tim was going to be the difficult one. He was always use to never causing issues and handling everything on his own.
Well, almost the most difficult. He still has a son that's never called.
"How is everything at the Tower?" He means the Teen Titans but anyone overhearing could easily think it as some sort of internship the boy is working at. He does go around to many different businesses on a regular basis.
Bruce is terrible at keeping conversations going mostly because he never cares for the small talk. The only time he manages is when he's playing Bruce Wayne Playboy Billionaire and falls into an acting trance. But still those times the boredom is excruciating.
But this is his son and he must have some reason for calling him.
"I heard you got promoted to leader."
There was a large sigh on the other side and Bruce had a hard time deciphering the reason behind it. Thankfully Tim finally decided to help out in this conversation.
"I don't think they made the right choice."
"Of course they made the right choice. You've been training towards this. They all respect you and you constantly keep them improving. I don't know anyone else that could keep those kids in order like you do."
There's a long pause that Bruce has become acquainted with the speechlessness of his praise. He really messed up if his boys are constantly surprised by this.
Time to change.
He realizes again that he has steered the conversation to the topic of their caped personas instead of Tim Drake his son.
"I want to know how you are doing."
"Yes Tim. How's school?"
"Oh. I'm managing. I…feel like that part of my life is kind of on the back burner. There's so much to do at the tower right now."
And Bruce knows this road because he has been down it so many times. He can already hear Alfred's voice.
'Remember the other things in your life.'
How many times has he spent his hours down in the Bat Cave pooling over casework and forgetting about his sons who were upstairs or just a phone call away?
"You should come to Wayne Corp. and visit."
There's an even longer pause and what sounds like a coffee mug being placed a little too roughly back onto a counter.
And he can picture Tim trying to puzzle over this like he does everything. It must be quite confusing to suddenly have his Father trying to spend time with him. Bruce winces at that.
"Yes. You haven't been here in awhile. I'm working on a new project and it would be nice to have a second head look at it. They also added a new expansion in the lower levels and I want you to come tour it with me."
"I don't know…I'm pretty busy here."
And Bruce knows he must be busy just as he was with all those cases years ago but there is always time for spending time with family. There must be. Bruce should have made time. He won't let Tim go down that road either.
"Come. I just put on that fancy brand of coffee that Alfred bought."
Tim visits the Wayne Tower more and Bruce finds that he has a real knack for the business world. Bruce is quite proud of him and he has to remind himself to actually vocalize that to the boy.
The staff enjoys having him around as he has a quick mind and represents himself much better than Bruce Wayne ever has. This doesn't bother Bruce at all because he has a cover and hiding in plain sight is much simpler. Tim doesn't have as many enemies and Bruce tries to allow them to live as normally as possible.
Bruce finds his days full of life and finds he actually enjoys spending time eating dinner with the family, going on school trips, and working on projects at Wayne Corp.
He wishes he had listened to Alfred all those years ago.
It surprises him when Thanksgiving arrives without him noticing. Though he never spent much time on holidays before as he had others handle them. His secretary and Alfred dealt with any of the social meetings he would need to partake in or gifts that needed to be handed out.
But thanksgiving was more a family holiday and Bruce hasn't invited anyone over to the meal since the boys were very young. He knows Alfred must have continued cooking it anyway and probably even getting it to the others somehow. Bruce remembers eating it alone last year.
Now he's seated at the large dining room and he's dedicated a whole night to just this. He's concentrated on this and he isn't going to be Batman tonight.
He's surrounded by the whole family.
He has Dick, Barbara, Tim, Damian, and of course Alfred seated around the giant wooden table.
Tim and Damian are bickering over something and Bruce has a hard time telling who is winning.
Barbara is laughing at Dick as he tries to figure out how to fit all the food on his ridiculously full plate.
Alfred is giving him a hard stare as if to warn the boy to eat it like a proper gentleman.
He's very thankful this year and he promises to himself that he will continue this.
He's finally made it to bed after sorting out everyone's sleeping arrangements. He hasn't had the manor this full since…well ever. It's comforting to hear the sounds of the other boys. It calms him in a way that he usually would use training or meditation to reach.
He's trying to get to sleep when his phone goes off.
He's drowsy as he awakens from the confines of sleep but when he does realize the reason he jumps and snatches for the phone. Only one of his boys isn't here with him now.
He must sound frantic because he feels it.
There's no sound from the other side but he can sense the other one and can hear the faint sound of rustling.
Bruce covers his face with his hand for a brief moment to compose himself. It's been much too long since he's heard from his lost boy.
"Are you okay?"
"Ha. Never better." It's said so sarcastically and there's movement again with a wince.
It's now that a piece of Batman kicks in and Bruce realizes he should be trying to trace the call in case the boy is in any kind of trouble.
"If you need us we can all come. I have all the others here with me right now."
"They're all at the manor?"
"Yes. It's Thanksgiving. Well it was." He says as he realizes the time.
There's a harsh laughter. "Are we suddenly celebrating that? Had some change of heart old man?"
Bruce knows this is the real test. Dick is always forgiving, Damian is young and still had time to accept the change, and Tim is logical to a point. Jason will hold a grudge and knows the whole world as unforgiving.
All those quiet therapy sessions and constant pushes from Alfred have led him to this moment.
"You should come. There are plenty of leftovers and Alfred could make you a turkey sandwich."
That brings back such innocent memories of keeping the fridge stacked for a midnight sandwich raid from his adopted street boy.
There's a weak snort that sounds a little indecisive to Bruce.
Bruce is stunned with wondering if he should push harder or leave the rebel to the decision on his own.
"Come." He whispers and he's not sure if the other even hears it. He didn't mean it to come out.
"I think I've got just under a minute left." The second Robin says casually.
Bruce panics for a second as if there is a timer counting down and he could lose the boy again. Time with Jason has always been an issue. Never enough of it.
But he realizes that his system has about a minute left to pinpointing the location of the lost bird.
"I've travelled a lot these past few years and nothing compares to Alfred's cooking. So it's tempting Big Man but I've got things to do."
There's a muffled groan and he can hear the phone being shifted.
His eyes flash to the estimated time for the tracking and his insides tangle with worry. He hates imagining his boy out on the streets again. Beaten and hungry just like those many years ago. But now he has a family and could come home. No matter their differences on solving the issues of crime.
"Maybe next year…" He has to strain the phone to his ear to hear the muffled statement.
Then the line goes dead and the trace loses its signal.
Bruce tries to sleep after that but he finds himself tossing and turning or running his hand through his hair too many times.
He repeatedly checks his phone for any missed calls even though he knows he has it charged fully and on the highest volume.
He gives up many hours later and makes his way down to the cave he had promised himself to avoid that entire day.
He spends the rest of the night creating a care package and a delivery system. Something for emergency situations that he can get out as quickly as possible.
When the other boys wake up they are a little surprised to not find their Father asleep or drinking his morning coffee.
It's even more surprising that they now expect him to be doing this.
All three make their way into the Bat Cave without a word to each other. Nothing needs to be spoken to determine where their mentor is. They all have a bad taste in their mouth as if they picture a terrible relapse.
They find him bent over some sort of drone with multiple sets of software up on the large computer screen behind him.
There are large bags under his eyes that haven't been there these past few months. Since things were progressing.
"Bruce?" Dick speaks up.
He snaps his head up and it's even more frightening because this man could sense anything but they had snuck up on him with their ridiculously large bunny slippers.
Bruce runs a hand through his hair again and they know he is trying to work something out in his head. Trying to open up to them and let them in instead of hiding away by himself.
"Jason called last night…he…he was hurt."
There's a tremble that goes through the strong frame.
It doesn't scare the boys though that this powerful being is shaking before them. It actually makes them all stand a little taller. The feeling when a teammate needs you and you step in beside them on the battlefield.
Tim makes his way over to the computer and finds the algorithm is for their tracking system. It looks like Bruce is trying to improve it and stretch it to their handhelds instead of just their main hub.
He takes a seat in the oversized chair and is quickly joined by Damian who begins to criticize as he offers advice as well.
Dick joins his adoptive father with the tinkering. He takes the screwdriver from the shaking hand.
"We will help."
It's right after Christmas when Jason finds himself in a cold alleyway with a large gash in his side.
He usually ignores the holidays as he never really celebrated them in his youth and even now he doesn't do anything.
But the lights are hard to ignore hanging from the bleakness of the surrounding apartments. He's beginning to feel cold and he's probably lost too much blood but he's also imagining the large fireplace that's in the main sitting room in Wayne Manor.
He shakes his head because that is heading down a bad road. It doesn't help that his stomach gives a grumble as well.
He's trying to save some energy and motivate himself for the trek back to his shack of an apartment where he can find some sort of supplies to stitch and keep his insides…well inside.
He fumbles for the phone that's shoved deep into his pocket.
He must be getting weak.
The phone hardly rings once before it is answered.
"Jason? Are you okay?"
Bruce sounds as if he has jumped for the phone but that is probably just his imagination.
He reminds himself that he is being ridiculous.
It has only been a few months since the last time he had called the old Bat. He must be getting too soft. Or losing way too much blood. Yes that.
But hearing the man's voice does give Jason more strength. It puts a fire into his veins and his mind begins pushing him to survive.
He tells himself it's because the rebel in him still needs to get revenge. That he isn't done yet. He can't die from this small mission when there is a much bigger one.
"Jason?!" The voice is more frantic now.
"Yeah yeah. I'm here."
There's a shaky sigh in reply.
"Not dead yet. You can't get rid of me that easily Old Man."
"Jason its Christmas…you should-"
Jason hangs up before anything else could sway his already weakened mind.
What is wrong with him?
He sits for a few more moments to get his focus back and then begins sliding himself back up the grimy wall.
It's then that something catches his attention. Something hovering down towards him and for a moment he's feared he was sitting too long and someone has found him. Someone's decided to drop a bomb down onto him.
But it comes into view and Jason relaxes back against the wall.
A little drone lands and steers over the pavement towards him.
It opens up before him and there's a variety of medication and bandages. In another pocket he sees a warmed turkey sandwich.