AN: Okay this fic has been done for a while and its just been moldering on my HD - I have to admit I wasn't too sure of how it would go over. See I do both, read the comics and watch the toons - and certain characters just don't mesh between the two. So even though I borrowed a bit from the comics to round out one character, make no mistake that its not the same character. Ok, 'nuff said, remember feedback is what feeds the muses and makes the writing flow for us insane fanfic authors. ;-)
Disclaimer: You know the drill...
Description: Time has passed, new friends are made, and relationships have been mended all except for one. Terry intends to fix that.
By Marns AKA Bumpkin
Late Spring, 2048
Bruce sat at his desk in the dim study at the manor. He was looking at the legal papers spread out on its top pensively. The papers spread out comprised what there was of his last will and testament. Bruce had decided to drag the depressing documents out after his last stint in the hospital for his heart. It had been thirty years since he had revised his will, and it had been just about as long since he had last seen the main beneficiary named in it. Now with Terry, and everything that had happened in the time since he had become Bruce's personal assistant, it seemed like the document needed revision again.
With a sigh, Bruce sat back in his leather desk chair. He really hated thinking about stuff like this – it only made him more aware of his mortality and the issues still unresolved of his lifetime. Thankfully there were not as many of those anymore, and Bruce owed that set of circumstances all to Terry. The brash youngster had woken Bruce up from his version of living death when he crashed his stolen motorbike so spectacularly into the front gates of the manor that night when he was followed by that troupe of Joker wannabes. Fighting with Terry by his side, even with such a rabble had brought back memories of better days. Even when his heart had started to act up afterwards, it had still been a straightforward fight – almost cleansing from the last time that he had gone out in the suit and had to resort to using that gun. It had seemed almost fated for Terry to end up in the Batsuit after that.
Directing Terry, and watching as he doggedly made both mistakes and strides – both in and out of the suit – Bruce had discovered a new lease on life. He was again fighting the battle he had devoted his life to, and in the process was reacquainted with first, Barbara, and then a few years later, Tim. He also, through Terry, had the mixed joy of meeting Max Gibson and after the whole fiasco with the Joker, Dana Tan. Two girls that his young assistant was very close to but in different ways and trusted implicitly, which was a good thing since they both knew the secret. That was something else that was different nowadays, Bruce mused, the number of non-participants in the know. Back in his day, you knew if you flew and that was it, but he guessed that times changed, and either you changed with them or you broke.
Times changed... sometimes you could do your best to ignore it, but it always caught up to you in the end, didn't it? Bruce smiled his faint little smile as he thought of the new little tradition Terry had set up behind his back after the mess with the Joker returning. The 'family' dinners once a month for the whole extended 'Bat'-family and friends.
For the first one Terry had set Bruce up, he had known that the older man never would have agreed to attend – so he hadn't given him the option. 'The sneak,' Bruce thought with some pride. It had been late Saturday afternoon and they had just finished running a bunch of errands that they had put off for a while. Terry had swung the car around, heading to Max's instead of back to the manor like Bruce had expected. After putting the car into park, Terry had slung an arm along the backrest of the seat and faced his mentor's questioning look.
He had said flippantly, "Listen Bruce, you might as well come up with me for a minute – if you don't you know that Max is just going to come down here and harass you anyway." Bruce had just grunted sourly and got out of the car. He knew Terry was telling the truth. The girl was a pest. No doubt born that way and she had only gotten worse as the years had gone by.
The first inkling that Bruce had that he had been set up by his young assistant was when they had gotten near Max's door and Bruce had heard a distinctive voice that really shouldn't have been there – Barbara Gordon's.
"What's going on McGinnis?" He had growled.
Terry had just grinned and opened the door letting Bruce see that there were more people in the room than just Barbara. Her husband, Sam Young was with his wife and Mary and Matt McGinnis were there too. Tim Drake and his entire family were present as well, and then there were Max and Dana. The entire lot had started calling out welcoming greetings as soon as they saw Terry and Bruce, ushering them into the very crowded apartment.
"McGinnis, you realize of course that you are going to pay dearly for this." Bruce said almost inaudibly into his young protég's ear.
Terry didn't seem fazed in the least, he just leaned over and said in an equally quiet voice, "Get over it old man – odd as you may find this – there are people in this world that care about you. And all they want to do is spend time with you in a relaxed and homey atmosphere."
Bruce had just blinked. He hadn't known how to react to Terry's little speech. Numb, he had let himself be steered towards a seat at the head of the table that had been set up in the middle of Max's living room. After he had been seated the rest of the table followed suit, migrating into very interesting little clumps Bruce noted. The kids of course all managed to sit together, mostly, with their parents flanking them on both side and Tim's two separated by his wife. Barb sat beside Tim with Sam beside her. Dana sat between Mary McGinnis and Terry. Max had taken the other seat beside Bruce. It was almost as if the two teens were buffering him from the rest of the people – or maybe it was the other way around Bruce thought with some amusement.
It had been a rough start to the evening – no question of that – but Bruce had soon begun to relax and to his surprise also actually have fun. The varied intelligent conversations floating around the table had caught his interest and he hadn't been able to stay silent for long. 'At least not when he knew what they were talking about and could correct them,' he remembered with a smirk.
The rest of the night had passed surprisingly quickly, dinner and then dessert had been consumed amidst so many topics that most of the adults had barely been aware of what they were eating. The kids, of course, had run off to play vid-games in Max's room as soon as the dessert plates were cleared. The older set had sat and conversed with each other quietly while the three younger adults had cleaned up. The three were quickly included back into the conversation with their elders when they finished, their alternate views of the topics made an interesting contrast.
It had turned into the most pleasant time that Bruce had spent in the company of a gathering of people that he could ever remember having, and when it started to break up shortly after nine, he had felt vaguely disappointed to his own astonishment. Terry effectively nipped that upset in the bud though when he turned to Barbara and asked casually, "So, next month your place? Same time?"
Bruce guessed that the surprise he had felt at hearing that had been more than displayed on his face in some kind of dumbfounded expression, because Barb and Tim had taken one look at him and started to laugh. Bruce had managed to regain his equilibrium in fairly short order and shot Terry a look that promised dire things were to come. Terry had just laughed and let the dark look roll off his back like water would off a duck's.
"C'mon Bruce, I'll take you straight home now – for real this time." He gave Dana a kiss goodbye before he had followed the hollowly grumbling old man out the door.
And that had been the start of a very pleasant tradition they still followed to this day. Every month they had an extended family dinner gathering with each smaller part of the family hosting it in rotation. After Max and Dana had taken the first, as it was the perfect place to surprise Bruce with the idea, Barb and Sam had volunteered for the second. Tim and his family asked to be after them and Mary said she would take the last, but that is where they ran into their first snag.
Bruce had wondered at Mary's why they were talking about going back to Max's the next month again, "What's wrong with the manor?" he had wanted to know. Everyone – except the kids – had turned to him in shock.
"You want to host a dinner Bruce?" Terry had asked.
"Seeing as everybody else here has and that I am something of the patriarchal figure of this group, don't you all think that I should at least get a chance?"
There was a lot of hemming and hawing going on in the air around him that faded into an uncomfortable silence. Nobody knew what to say – this was a twist they hadn't expected, after all, they all knew how Bruce valued his privacy. So he had thrown in,
"Besides, I am starting to feel like a mooch, and that just doesn't sit right with me. You know, that being a billionaire thing and all..."
Bruce actually grinned as he remembered how that statement had broken the stunned silence into welcome laughter. Everyone had relaxed and they all had agreed then that next month was Bruce's turn to play host and teasing him. Saying that seeing as he was some kind of 'billionaire' they expected something out of this world.
His meandering recollections of the past were broken when the present version of Terry burst into the study on his way to the clock. He stopped in his tracks though when he saw Bruce sitting at the desk in the twilight.
"Bruce? What are you doing there?" he asked ingenuously, his mind obviously on other matters.
"Going over my will. Thinking that I am going to have to make some changes to the stupid thing again." Bruce said tiredly.
"Why? Are you not feeling well? Should I call the doctor?" Panicked, Terry was already reaching for the phone as he spoke. Bruce hurriedly slammed his hand down on top of the instrument before Terry could pick it up as he said,
"No. It was that last heart attack – got me thinking of a few things, that's all."
"Oh." Terry calmed down. "What were you thinking of changing?"
"The main beneficiary."
Terry looked at Bruce blankly. "Has something happened to Dick?" and then he asked before Bruce even had a chance to answer his first question, "Well who would you change it too? Tim?"
"No, nothing has happened to Dick, as far as I know he is still doing fine – just still not speaking to me. And no, I wasn't going to name Tim, not as my main beneficiary anyway." Bruce said dryly. "Actually, I was thinking of you."
"Me?" Terry squeaked. "Why me?" His shock was more than apparent.
"Who else? Terry, you are carrying on the legacy of Batman – when are you going to realize that part of that legacy is Wayne Enterprises? Why do you think that I've fought so hard to stop any and all takeovers since I regained power?" Bruce said exasperated, sometimes he really wondered about McGinnis. The kid could be so bloody thick at times.
Terry stuttered, obviously flustered, "I – uh – well... Slaggit Bruce! I just thought that you didn't want another dreg like Powers to get into control and use the company for dirty dealings. I never guessed that it was because of Batman."
Bruce fought an urge to roll his eyes. He knew that Terry wasn't as dumb as he sounded at the moment; it was just that the young man didn't think that he had what it took to run a large corporation like Wayne Enterprises. He didn't realize that between him and his friend Max, the pair of them had already been doing just that for close to two years now.
"But Bruce, what about Dick? He's your son."
Bruce sighed. Yes, Dick was his son, but one that he hadn't seen in almost thirty years. How could he entrust his legacy – either one – to someone who couldn't stand to be in the same city as him, let alone the same room? He saw how much of a mistake it had been letting someone he didn't know like Powers get a hold of and run Wayne Enterprises – he couldn't let something like that happen again. The thought hurt, but Bruce didn't know who Dick was anymore, not really. Thirty years was a very long time.
"Terry... "Bruce started as he looked up into the younger man's eyes. He didn't know it, but Terry could clearly see the pain the older man was feeling in that gaze that matched with his own. 'Curse you Dick Grayson, Bruce doesn't need this.' Terry thought savagely. Dick was Bruce's son, and they both needed to fix what was keeping them apart – before it was too late.
"No Bruce, not now. Please." Terry started sharply but then softened, "I know that you've tried before, but would you try again to contact Dick? I just can't accept anything from you unless I know that I won't be getting in between a father and son. That's just something I can't do – you know that."
Bruce nodded, what else could he do? He knew what was preying on his young friend's mind, the way that things had ended between him and his own father. Terry had always regretted that the last words he and Warren McGinnis had exchanged had been in anger. He just didn't want to see Bruce and Dick have to live with the same thing, either of them.
Terry just stared at him for a moment more, then abruptly turned and went through the clock. Bruce could hear the bats rustling and squeaking as Terry's entrance disturbed them. He didn't hear anything after that until he heard the whine of the Batmobile's turbines start up, loud at first and then fading as Terry accelerated out of the cave.
Neither of the two men had seen Barbara Gordon where she stood in the shadows just outside the door as they spoke with each other. She had come in shortly after Terry and had heard most of it. Then she just had to wait for a chance to make her presence known, which was given when Terry left so hastily.
"Bruce," She called softly as she moved into the lighted doorway, "what are you going to do?"
"Barb?" Bruce frowned. "How long were you standing there?"
"Long enough to get the gist." She replied wryly.
"Harrumph, surrounded by meddlers I am." Bruce groused. Barbara just chuckled, knowing his bark was just his way of letting off steam. Plus it sounded like he had been trying to make a joke, maybe – this was Bruce after all.
"That was the worst Yoda imitation that I have ever heard Bruce." Barbara said with a wince. Then she sobered, "Seriously, what are you going to do though?" she asked with concern.
Bruce sighed heavily before he replied. "What can I do Barb? Since I've managed to mend my fences with you and Tim, I've tried to contact Dick numerous times, in numerous ways – he refuses me every way I try. There's nothing more I can do." He looked almost defeated. "Did you know that he never even bothered to call when Terry started up in the suit? I'd thought for sure that I was going to get a call then with him frothing at the mouth."
Barbara nodded empathically before she turned and walked out. She understood. There was nothing really that she could add to what her older friend had said, unless you counted name-calling as valid conversation. Driving back to the city in her car from Wayne manor gave her plenty of time to think over things.
She had been able to talk to Dick over the years, unlike Bruce, but never had any luck in trying to convince him to come home either. He was still obsessed with not wanting to live in his adoptive father's shadow to a point that she found ridiculous. The man was a success in his chosen field; he had no call to be so bitter. Not now, not after they had both hung up the capes and masks that had been the major bone of contention between the two of them. Bruce's firing of Dick as Robin had been a major boneheaded move on Bruce's part, granted – but at least his heart had been in the right place. Even if Dick hadn't ever been able to see it that way. Bruce had just felt responsible when Dick had gotten shot; he'd thought that he'd put the boy into an unnecessarily risky position – so he corrected it. Simple enough as he saw it, too bad that wasn't how Dick saw things.
Dick had always acted like Bruce's firing him meant that he was the one to blame for getting hurt. Like Bruce somehow blamed him. That he should have known how to avoid the bullet when that wasn't the case at all. Things had only gotten worse when Bruce's back had been broken by Bane and he hadn't asked Dick to replace him in the Batsuit, but Azreal instead. 'Guess that when they say a doctor shouldn't work on those that they know, they know what they are talking about,' Barbara thought. There was no way someone as smart as Dick, who had a degree in psychology could be so blind otherwise.
'At least Tim and I didn't have to worry about second guessing our educations or anything like that when Terry's unwitting presence as the new Batman helped us patch things up with Bruce...' Wait, could that be it? Could it really be that simple? Barbara's brows furrowed as she mused, everyone that Bruce interacted with nowadays – voluntarily anyway, not through business – was somehow due to Terry. She smiled. Now she knew what she had to do – all she had to do was set it in motion.
Even after almost ten years had passed, Terry still got a thrill when he was able to push the Batmobile to its ultimate limits, which is what he was in the process of doing at the moment. Describing wild loop-de-loops in the air and seeing exactly how fast he could make the sleek black vehicle go. He had known that if he went onto the streets in the condition that he had left the cave in, things could – and probably would – have gotten messy fairly quickly. Not a good idea, not when loss of focus could easily cost him his life, or a criminal theirs. So to keep things safe, he was out over the middle of Gotham harbor blowing off some steam. It wasn't the most productive use of his time, but that was okay, everyone needed some time to goof off. Even Batman.
He straightened out his wild looping and slowed down to a more sedate cruising pace when the dash com-link beeped, letting him know that someone was trying to call him. Flicking on the vid-screen Terry was surprised to see the face of Barbara Gordon. She rarely called him on the 'Bat' channels if she could help it, relying on the times that she interacted with him as Terry to talk to him.
"Something I can help you with Commish?" He asked curiously. Barbara looked a bit guilty, which peaked Terry's interest even higher. He cocked his head questioningly.
"Terry, I have a confession to make – I overheard you and Bruce tonight in the study." Ouch, he didn't want to talk about that, it was still too raw. But before he could make a move to hang up on her, Barbara forestalled him by saying. "Please, hear me out." Terry nodded once curtly, letting her know that it wasn't something that he wanted to prolong.
The older woman smiled slightly at his prickly manner, 'so much like Bruce in some ways its remarkable' she thought. "I know it was a private discussion and I wasn't supposed to hear it, but I did – and I think that you should know that Bruce has tried to get into contact with Dick – it's just that Dick isn't letting himself be contacted, not by Bruce at any rate."
"Not by Bruce?" It didn't take Terry long to figure out, "you mean that you and Tim have talked to him since the rest of you guys have patched things up and he still won't come back?" he asked incredulously. "Damn, and I thought the old man was stubborn."
"Got it right on the first try McGinnis." Barbara smiled. She knew Terry wasn't really a slouch in the deductive reasoning department, contrary to the show he had put on for Bruce earlier. It reassured her that her plan just might work. "He and Bruce have some... er... issues spanning decades kid. I thought I should let you know, especially if you are set on this course of yours and trying to get them to reconcile. It just might be a bit more than you can handle."
"Issues," Terry snorted, "that's a mild way of saying it isn't it? From the little that I have managed to pry out of Bruce over the years and the stuff that you and Tim have inadvertently mentioned in passing conversations we've had over the years, I think I have a vague idea of at least some of the problems I'll be running headlong into. Solid brick walls could be considered cushier." His tone was beyond sardonic and Barbara couldn't help but laugh.
"Yeah well, here's the irony of it all as far as I am concerned – Dick is a psychologist for troubled youths in Bludhaven now. He deals mostly with the ones who tend to have anger problems." Terry laughed openly.
That did seem rather ironic. A man who used to dress up in long underwear to go out and beat the living tar out of criminals every night with father 'issues' as a counselor for troubled youths with aggression problems – but then again, he would have an inside track on the evils the kids were faced with wouldn't he? From both sides of the fence. Terry sobered as he remembered something else that he had overheard in various conversations and asked a bit confused, "But – I thought that he was a cop like you?"
"Well, when he wasn't needed anymore as Nightwing, he quit the police force at the same time and started to work out of Bludhaven Juvenile Hall. He is quite the success story for a late career change." She smiled. "He has the highest success rate in stopping repeat offenders in the city. Actually, that is usually part of his excuse that he can't come back here – he says that if he came here he would feel like he had abandoned his 'kids'." She rolled her eyes to show what she thought of that excuse.
"God, would that I had such a devoted psychologist when I was in juvvie." Terry muttered.
It was Barbara's turn to snort this time. "You never needed one of Dick's caliber McGinnis. You were never really a bad kid, just confused and misguided. You fell into a better crowd soon enough, didn't you?" she indicated herself with a grin.
Terry's lips quirked with amusement, she had a point – going from juvvie to hanging out with the police commissioner and her husband the D.A. as well as the reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne... Yeah, he guessed that could be considered a step up the social ladder. But how the situation had come about... "Hanging out with an old man, wearing tights and skulking around until the wee hours of the night punching people out is a better crowd?" Terry joked.
Barbara choked. "McGinnis!"
He just grinned saucily at her and winked. Then he said softly, "Thanks for letting me know about the situation with Grayson Barbara, I appreciate it. Who knows how long I would've had to wait until Bruce told me." Barbara smiled kindly at his soft thanks, winked in return and signed off.
Thoughtfully Terry stared at the now dark screen. Then he made up his mind. "Computer give me a listing for Grayson, R. Dr. residential in Bludhaven please."
'Even if Dick didn't want to listen, he's going to get an earful tonight.' Terry thought as he pushed the Batmobile full throttle ahead, aiming for a certain residence in Bludhaven.
# # # Tbc...