DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters. Nightwing and all of his friends belongs to DC comics. I'd be a happy woman if Dick belonged to me...but no such luck. I have not made any profit out of writing this, so please don't sue me. It would not be worth your while.
Author Comment: I've only been writing about Dick for a few weeks. WARNING: As I am new here, I don't know anyone to run their eye over my story so please forgive all and any errors. There are a number of spelling, grammar and punctuation differences between Australia and the USA... please forgive me for writing with an accent. (g)
Special Thanks: Thank you to all those people who have left such wonderful feedback. Some of you haven't left your e-mail addresses so I haven't been able to thank you. I just want you to know that your kind words mean so much.
The Titanic and General Custer
Someone wrote once, there is nothing in the world like seeing a boy and his dog playing together. Bruce sighed and then shook his head. Alfred smirked beside him. On the lawn of Wayne Manor not ten feet from them was such a scene. Dick was rolling around on the ground with a small ball of fluff in his arms.
Again, Bruce shook his head reflecting on how this had happened. It had all started five days earlier when Dick had discovered a stray dog in the grounds of his school. Naturally, he rolled up to chauffer driven limo with the dog under his arm. Had Bruce been present, the animal would have got no further but...
"Master Dick, what is that?" Alfred asked taking boy's school bag.
"She's lost," Dick stated simply as if that was an adequate explanation.
"I see. No collar?"
"The hair is all flat around her neck like she usually wears one and she's well groomed so she must belong to someone," Dick offered, opening the door and climbing into the front seat of the car with the dog. Alfred had explained to the child a dozen times that he was supposed to sit in the back, but the little boy insisted on sitting beside the butler.
"We shall drop it at the pound on the way home," Alfred stated.
"What?! We can't do that. Alfred, they'll put her to sleep."
Alfred frowned and stared down at the small terrier as he slipped into the driver's seat. It was pure white with erect ears and a shiny black nose. "A West Highland Terrier," he commented.
"Is that what she is?"
"Yes. They aren't particularly common in the United States. You are right. She is unlikely to be a stray. We shall place an advertisement in the paper to find her owner."
"So, we can take her home and look after her until someone comes for her?" Wide blue eyes flashed...
Bruce glanced across at Alfred. "This is your fault."
"My fault? I simply brought the child home. The rest is your doing."
... Five days after the advertisement had been placed, no one had come to collect the newest addition to the Manor family. The Westie had to sleep in the garage and had proved well-behaved and quiet. Dick spent all his spare time playing with the little dog and neither of the adults could deny that he had been much happier since the terrier had joined them.
"Still no calls about the dog?" Bruce asked Alfred as he walked through the door and tossed his briefcase onto the sofa.
Alfred shook his head. "No. He wants to keep it."
"I'll talk to him and make him understand that..."
Dick flew into the room with a wide smile plastered across his face. "Bruce it's been five days. You said that we'd leave the advert. in for five days and it's been five days. No one must want her, hey?"
Alfred flicked his eyes to Bruce and struggled to suppress a smile. This was going to be the battle of all battles.
Bruce sat down and beckoned the child over. "Dick, we can't have a dog."
The smile on Dick's face crashed and his wide eyes became moist. "Why?"
"Because of the lifestyle we lead. Son, I'm never home and you're at school and in the evenings, we have our other work to do."
"But Alfred's always here."
To this, there was a snort across the room. "Exactly. Alfred doesn't have a life," the butler muttered. "Alfred never goes anywhere."
Bruce shot a drowning look at the grey-haired man who had taken to unpacking his briefcase. You want to help me here?
Alfred stood up, looked across at the sagging cheeks and pitiful look on Dick's face, glanced back at Bruce and muttered, "Good luck."
Bruce's eyes flashed with annoyance and then he returned his attention to Dick. "Look, son. How about a goldfish?" The exuberance the millionaire displayed at the suggestion left Alfred rolling his eyes.
Dick just stared at him.
"I used to have a goldfish," Wayne stated in an animated fashion. "His name was Henry," Bruce picked Dick up and placed him on his lap. "Henry and I used to play together. I could get him to come to the top of the bowl. I even tried to teach him tricks."
Alfred stared at Bruce shaking his head slowly. Bruce was really was missing the boat on this one.
"I want a dog," Dick whispered.
"I know you would like a dog but it's just too hard. You'd have to look after him. That's a lot of work."
"I used to help look after three elephants, four tigers, six dogs and a monkey." The huge blue eyes looked directly in Bruce's soul. "I'd look after her, Bruce. I promise. And..." The telephone rang at that moment, all three freezing. Somehow each knew that this was related to the terrier.
Alfred collected the call in the hall and returned to the quiet room a couple of moments later. "That was the dog's owner. She went missing from a pet beauty shop around the corner form the school after having a bath, which is why she has no collar. Her owner is on the way over now."
Dick climbed down off Bruce's lap. "I'll get her ready." His voice was so soft and pained.
"Dick..." The little boy turned. "We'll go tomorrow and get you a goldfish, okay?"
The child nodded, his bottom lip trembling as he left the room.
Alfred shot Bruce a look of utter disgust. "A goldfish!"
The young woman had arrived ten minutes earlier with her two children and a car full of identical Westies. Dick had handed over the adult terrier that yapped happily at being reunited with its family. The woman had thanked Bruce and Alfred and then turned her attention to Dick. It was clear to her that the child was grieving the loss of 'Blossom'...
"I want to thank you, young man. You have taken good care of Blossom. Now we need to discuss your reward."
"I don't want a reward, Ma'am. I was just looking after her for a while." Tears welled in his eyes as he watched the children in the car hugging 'his' dog.
"You haven't heard what the reward is yet, though." She smiled, rose to her feet, walked across to the car and took out a small, plump pup. "If your parents don't mind, I'd like to give you this little one. We haven't been able to find a home for her."...
Someone wrote once that a man should quit while he was ahead... Bruce hadn't been ahead at any stage in the last five days. He watched as Dick and the puppy raced across the grass. The woman smiled and moved toward her car. She had just offered the drowning millionaire a rope - with an anchor on the end.
Dick scooped the bundle of fluff up into his arms and raced across to Alfred and the scowling Bruce.
"Can I keep her? Please, Bruce. Pleeeeaaaaassse?" The pout was back, the eyes flashing and the cheeks sagging. Dick really knew how to turn it on.
"You are doomed," Alfred whispered with a grin.
"I'll look after her. I'll do everything she needs. I'll pay for her food out of my pocket money."
"Look, Bruce. She loves me," Dick pointed out, lifting the puppy to his face. Instantly, it began to lick his nose. "Please, Bruce. Pleasssssee?"
Bruce drew in a deep breath and released it slowly watching as the child took off again, the small pup chasing him.
"You are as doomed as the Titanic."
Bruce glared at Alfred, set his shoulders and walked across to his young ward. "Dick, we really..." The child stopped running and picked the puppy up. It began snuggling into his chest, the child giggling uncontrollably. Bruce's heart melted.
"The Titanic hits the iceberg," Alfred commented to himself.
"Dick, we really need to..." Big blue eyes cut Bruce to the quick..." pick a name for this little lady."
"I CAN KEEP HER?!"
Bruce smiled. "Of course."
"And the Titanic sinks."
Dick raced across to his guardian and leapt into his arms, puppy and all. Alfred quickly thanked the young woman who had made his day and watched as she pulled away.
"I know what I'm going to call her," Alfred heard Dick say as Bruce lowered him to the ground.
"And what would that be, Master Dick? Iceberg?"
Bruce shot Alfred another glare.
"Noooooo, don't be silly, Alf. I'm going to call her Batdog."
"Batdog?" Alfred and Bruce cried together.
"Yeah, we could train her to help us. She'd be real good at it and Alfred could make her a mask and cape and..."
Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth burst out laughing.
"I think perhaps we should think of another name. How about Hailey? After Haly's Circus."
"YESSSS! That's perfect, Bruce." Dick darted off calling out to the pup, which promptly chased after him, nipping at his heels.
"I told you, you were doomed," Alfred chuckled.
"I don't know what you're smiling about. While you were seeing that 'nice, kind lady' off, he told me he intends sleeping with it."
"What? Oh, no. No dogs in the house, let alone on the bed linen."
Bruce Wayne grinned widely. "Uh-huh. We should have called the pup, Little Big Horn."
"Alfred, look. Watch," Dick cried, flipping over the top of the pup. "Can I keep her in the house? She's only tiny."
Alfred frowned and started walking toward the child. There was no way on God's Earth a dog was going to enter the house. "Master Dick, a dog's place is outside."
Bruce Wayne's grin spread to a wide smile and he winked at Alfred. "Good luck, General Custer."
© June 2004 Aussie Nightwriter. : This relates only to the creative property in this story. The distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations are mine. I acknowledge that some of the characters and settings belong to DC comics. (g) No infrigement of copyright was intended and no profit has been made from this story... so, please don't sue me. It wouldn't be worth your while.