Part Nine


Me: Yay, last part!! After this story, I might possibly (key words here) go on a super-brief hiatus from Bat-stuff--I'm working on a Star Trek fic at the moment, too, along with about a zillion others that need to get done. I just wanted you to know that I may be pokey, but I'll get my stuff up eventually.

Hmmmm... I think I forgot something...


Me: Oh, yeah! Thank you! Okay, I don't own 'em, now READ. ;)

Bruce knocked on the door to the room that Dick had been occupying for the past few months.

"Come in," was the choked response.

Bruce opened the door and was surprised to find that Dick was placing his belongings in his suitcase.

"What in the world are you doing?" asked Bruce, placing his hands on his hips.

"Packing," Dick answered simply. He stopped momentarily to wipe his eyes and then continued to pack.

"Why?" Bruce said.

"Because you're going to send me to the orphanage, aren't you? For opening my big mouth?"

"Of course not!"

Dick stopped and stared. Of all the responses he had braced himself for, 'of course not' wasn't one of them.

"Well, why not? I deserve it for talking too much and for getting into fights and for snooping and—"

"Dick," Bruce interrupted gently. "There is nothing you could ever do that would make me send you away."

If Dick had been stunned before, he was on the verge of heart failure now. What did this mean? That Bruce actually cared, that he had all along? Dick wasn't sure, and he couldn't make himself say anything, although his jaw worked silently for a minute, forming inaudible words.

"Dick... I think you and I need to talk."

Dick watched as his guardian walked over to the window seat and sat down. Dick sat next to him, not looking up until he felt Bruce's strong fingers under his chin, gently forcing his head upward. Dick, to his private astonishment, saw something in his guardian's eyes that he sometimes thought he'd never see again—love.

Bruce began, "I didn't tell you how... proud... very proud... of you I was when I learned how you'd stuck up for yourself and your parents against two boys who were twice your size, did I?"

Dick could feel his heart singing joyously, but he was still too upset to smile.

"No," he replied. "You never told me anything."

"I know, Dick." Bruce turned away from the boy and looked across the room. "I knew I should have said something sooner, but I just..."

"It's okay. I understand," Dick quickly assured him.

"No, Dick. It's not okay. It was very wrong of me. After..." Bruce took a deep breath and continued what he knew he must say, hard as it was. "After my parents died and after my fiancée turned out to be nothing but a criminal after my money, well... I didn't think I could ever care about anyone again."

He looked back at Dick.

"Then you came along. Pretty much right from the start you had me wrapped around your little finger, whether I knew it or not."

Dick grinned weakly.

"But I want you to know that I did care about you. Ever since the first day you moved in, I've cared about you. And the proof's right here."

Bruce handed Dick the item he had carried with him upstairs. Dick took it and stared for a minute, then smiled as tears slowly filled his happy eyes.

"An American in Paris," he choked out, his voice catching. Looking at Bruce, he asked, "How did you know? The only one who knows why I love this movie so much is Alfred."

"Who do you think sent Alfred up here to learn more about you?" Bruce answered, a sly grin appearing on his normally solemn face.

A tear slid down Dick's small cheek as his gaze returned to the all-important movie.

"Of course, Alfred put up a good fight about it first. He said that I should be the one to represent myself, not him," Bruce explained. Dick giggled before he added, "Now I know why he said it."

Dick couldn't resist. He threw his arms around Bruce's waist and cried contently.

Bruce, stunned at first, reacted hesitantly. Then, ever so slowly, Bruce's strong arms wrapped themselves around Dick's frame in the first hug he had given since his fiancée's departure.

And, for the first time in months, Dick knew everything was going to be alright.

The End

Reviewer Replies

What, only two reviews? Oh well. That just makes my job easier.

Bumpkin--'Chickie'...? Hmmm, new one on me. Not that I care or anything, but what am I blabbing for?! Thanks for being so supportive of Panamint throughout the story!! :)

Jenn11--Thank you for all the kind words! 8D I hope 'the talk' was worth the wait (and all the complaints I had to endure from Panamint as she wrote the dang thing!!!).

Did anybody notice the similarities in all the bullies' names??! Like 'Billy West' and Dylan 'Anderson', for example? Well, as some of you might know, the guy who played Batman in the sixties Batman television series was named Adam West. There's your West. Where does the rest come in, you ask? Well, Adam West's birth name was William West Anderson. There's your Billy and your Anderson.

I never mentioned Peter's last name, did I? Well, if you guessed Adams, you're right. Hee.

P.S. Anybody also notice that most of the other characters have something to do with Star Trek? Here ya go:

Nichelle Applegate--Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura

James the Pride Patrol Officer--James T. Kirk, Captain of U.S.S. Enterprise (or James Doohan, who played Scotty. I don't really care which.)

Grace Winslow--Grace Lee Whitney, who played Lieutenant Rand

Nurse Takei--George Takei, who played Helmsman Sulu

Tina Kelley--Deforest Kelley, who played Doctor McCoy (A.K.A. Bones)

Okay, so I'm an idiot. Go ahead and call the cops. 0:-)