Title: Man on the Bench-part ten/conclusion

Author: Simon

Characters: Dick Grayson and Manor crew, plus OC

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Conclusion

Warnings: none

Disclaimers: These guys aren't mine, they don't belong to me, worst luck, so don't bother me.

Archive: Fine, but if you want it, please ask first.

Feedback: Hell, yes. I'm neither a lawyer nor a tax attorney, so bear with me, please. And I did check; Cell phones would have been available around this time period.

The Man on the Bench

Part Ten

The funeral was four days later. Dick sat in the front row between his grandmother and his aunt. Uncle James was at the end of the pew, and the three cousins were between their parents. Bruce was a couple of pews back and Alfred wasn't there at all.

The morning Bruce had broken the news of his grandfather's death to Dick was among the most difficult of Bruce's life, which was saying something. It wasn't seven yet when he had gone to the boy's room and quietly sat on the edge of the bed, waking Dick.

"…Bruce…Did I oversleep?" Dick sat up, still not completely awake. And why was Bruce here? Alfred was the one to get him up if he was late coming down to breakfast.

"No, it's still early. Something's happened you need to know about." Looking at Dick's face, hair tousled from sleep, eyes not completely opened, Bruce just quietly said what had to be said. "The police found a car in the canyon near your cousin's house; that one in the park the road overlooks. The car is your grandfather's."

Dick went pale. "Bruce…?"

Bruce just nodded; there was no need to actually say it. He put his hand on Dick's neck, rubbing slightly and trying to give the boy some contact or grounding. There was no response.

Dick gave little reaction at all, just sitting there in his bed; the covers still half covering him, his chest bare. Apropos of nothing, Bruce wondered when Dick stopped wearing any kind of shirt to bed; the boy was growing up and some part of Bruce's mind registered that it always seemed to sneak up on parents when they least expected it to happen. He wasn't a little kid anymore and it was a shock. The first time Dick had dealt with major deaths in his life he'd been a child; now he was a young man.

They sat there for several long seconds before Dick suddenly looked panicked. "I'm gonna…" He scrambled from the bed to the bathroom, violently retching into the toilet over and over again. When he seemed to have stopped, Bruce handed him a glass of cool water and, kneeling, rubbed a damp washcloth over his face and the back of his neck as Dick still sat there on the floor.

Without warning Dick crumbled, his arms went around Bruce, and he cried convulsively for long minutes, his body shaking and his hands clutching around Bruce's back with bruising strength. When Alfred appeared silently in the doorframe, Bruce shook his head to leave them alone. It was more then two hours before Bruce made his way downstairs alone.

"Please call Dick's school, if you haven't already done so, and inform them of a death in his family. Also, please call my office and let them know I don't expect to be in for the next few days."

"Is Master Dick…" He seemed at a loss for words. "Is there anything I might do for him?"

"He spoke to his cousin Peter a few minutes ago and I think he wants to go to their house and possibly stay over until after the service. Perhaps you might make sure he has whatever he'll need for that."

"Of course, sir." Alfred turned to his work then hesitated again. "Even if Mister Lloyd wasn't all we might have wished, he was still the young master's grandfather and to lose him like this after only just finding him—I can only hope, do you think he'll be all right, sir?"

"He's strong." Bruce seemed to almost be trying to convince himself.

"Yes, but he's so young, sir."

"He still has the rest of them, and his grandmother. And he still has us, Alfred."

"The special bond between a child and a grandparent is…"

Bruce put his hand on the man's shoulder. "Alfred, he still has you and you've been more to him than Philip Lloyd could ever have been." Bruce was pleased at the effect his words had on the old man. "I'm going downstairs to learn what I can about this accident."

"Do you think it might have been something else?"

Bruce didn't want to assume, but… "He was upset, may have been drinking and the roads were bad so it could have been a simple accident, but with the people he worked with, I wouldn't rule out anything until I know more facts."

"Of course, sir. And Master Dick?"

"See what you can do for him, will you?"

"Yes, sir, that goes without saying."

The ninety-minute ride to the Simpson's' was the only time Alfred could remember driving with Master Richard when he hadn't spoken a single word other than a simple and subdued 'Thank you' as he lifted the bag containing his clothes out of the back seat.

Peter came out of the front door, nodded at Alfred, took the bag from his cousin and carried it into the house.

"Alfred? Do you want to come in or anything?"

"No, thank you, Master Peter. Master Dick, should you need anything or find you've changed your mind, you know…"

"I know. I'll call you when we know what's going on with the funeral and stuff." That was all Dick said before following his cousin inside and closing the door. Climbing back into the driver's seat, Alfred started the engine and backed the car out of the driveway for the ride home.

Upstairs, Dick sat on Peter's bed; they'd pull the trundle out later like they did every time he stayed here. "So, how's everybody handling this?"

Peter, who had never experienced the death of someone close to him, had trouble stopping himself from crying again. He'd loved his grandfather and to lose him in something as dumb as a car accident…it was stupid and he was angry and hurt and didn't begin to know how to make any sense or peace out of this. "You've been through this before; how do you do it?"

Dick was looking out the window. It was a sunny day and warmish. The snow was melting. "You just do it, there're no special tricks." He looked at Peter. "You just do it; one hour at a time. It's not like you have a choice."

Peter nodded. "Mom's a mess, you'll see. I think Grandma is handling it all right; she's doing what she always does when something goes wrong, just kind of takes a deep breath and deals."

"She's smart, that's what you have to do, at least at first, and then you take time and it sorts itself out. It did for me, anyway. Eventually."

Dick was the only kid his age who'd been through funerals, and Peter was counting on his cousin to show him how.

The next three days were better than any of the cousin's thought they'd be, which isn't to say they were good. Dick's being there helped a lot, though. He was matter-of-fact about things without being cold or standoffish, and when someone had to go into the other room to cry, he would follow but usually not bother to say anything, knowing that the words didn't really matter. Sometimes he'd just be there with whoever it was and sometimes he'd put a hand on a shoulder or give Chip or his aunt a hug. He was quiet and strong, and it really helped.

The boys, the cousins all gravitated to Dick during the lead-up to the funeral. One by one they would find him out in the yard or quietly watching a movie by himself, and start talking out their confusion to him. He always listened and asked the right questions in return. It helped them all.

At some point in the blur, Pat thought that this was probably how he'd handled the deaths of his parents and was lucky that she didn't know the reality of what he'd really gone through in the weeks following his being orphaned. When she said something to him about how well he was coping, he let her think that he'd always been able to handle things this well. In fact, those weeks were burned into his memory, where they would remain all his life.

He did know what it was like to lose someone for no good reason and he knew there were no easy answers. What mattered was just knowing that someone cared. He knew that because he hadn't had it, and he knew how desperately he'd needed it.

The funeral mass was on Thursday at St. Ignatius. It was a full high mass and a good chunk of it was in Latin, which his grandmother preferred. The church was about half filled and no one got up to speak personally about Philip Lloyd. Dick went up to the rail with his cousins to take communion, something he hadn't done in years and when he walked back to his seat, he saw the surprised look on Bruce's face, but he didn't care. This didn't really involve him because, while it was nice of him to be there for Dick, it wasn't Bruce's family. There had been a time in Dick's life when mass and communion were important. Alfred had told him, early in his time at the Manor, that 'the Master doesn't generally do that sort of thing'. That was fine, Bruce didn't even have to really understand, but this was important to Dick at that moment.

While Dick was coping with the immediacy of his grandfather's death and his cousin's emotional leaning on him, Batman was accessing the initial accident reports. That evening, as soon as darkness fell, he materialized in James Simpson's home office. The man was on the phone, door closed for privacy when he became aware that he wasn't alone.

The voice was low; James had to strain to hear the words. "I'm going to tie you to this and it's going to stick. Do you understand me?"

"But, but, it wasn't, I didn't…"

The Bat gave him the smallest, coldest smile he'd ever seen.

James knew with certainty that this time he wouldn't get away with it.

From that moment, it was just a matter of time before the house of cards collapsed.

It occurred to Dick, over the days he was staying with the cousins, that the funerals must have been something like this when his parents had died, when he hadn't been allowed to attend, when he'd been locked in a cell at Juvie. There would have been the same shock and the same anger and railing against fate. The difference, of course, was that today the family had each other, while the last time he'd been cut out, ignored.

He kept his feelings about that to himself. There was no point.

After the funeral was finished and the reception at Aunt Pat and Uncle James' house was over, after everyone had left and the food was put, away John Penn, Philip's law partner, asked the adults to please join him in the living room for the reading of the will. The kids went upstairs to change out of their suits, pretend to play computer games and eavesdrop.

Settled on various couches and chairs, John began. "I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news at a time like this, but as you may have been aware, Philip has been having some financial problems recently."

"No, I wasn't fully aware, John. You know that he would never discuss something like that with me. I picked up some hints here and there, but…what sort of problems, how bad are they?" Carolyn wasn't one to pussy foot around.

"He's in trouble with he IRS, serious trouble, I'm afraid, and I know he was close to filing for bankruptcy protection. You may lose most of your property, Carolyn, and I doubt if there will be anything left for any of his bequests."

There was a short silence. Suspecting was one thing; hearing it said out loud was something different. "Yes, I thought as much. He would never tell me anything about this sort of thing; he just refused to discuss it, but for years now he's kept our finances separate to try to protect me if something happened." A small pause. "Am I liable for his debts?"

"I doubt it, but you won't have much left; Philip used everything he could get his hands on to try to pay things off, but…. I think, since I know you filed taxes separately for over a decade, that you may be considered an innocent spouse."

This wasn't what Pat and James expected to hear. They'd assumed a pretty good inheritance would be headed their way. Well, eventually, anyway. In fact, they'd been sort of counting on it for the college bills that would be coming in a few years.

"He'd put the main house in my name to protect it in case he was sued, so that should help, but the condos at Butternut are jointly owned. I guess they'll have to go."

John nodded. Yes, they would. "And he's in arrears with the property taxes on the main house as well."

"How much?"

"He owes almost fifty thousand and another four thousand is due on the first of the month. The town has a lien against the property and may well take the house for non-payment. The back taxes on the condos come to another twenty-seven thousand."

She looked slightly stunned; this was all coming within hours of her husband's funeral as well. "What about the cars?"

"Payments are past due with them as well, Carolyn. I expect that they'll be repossessed soon. There are also some outstanding homeowner's loans, which haven't been repaid and he took out a second mortgage on the main house. Those total another hundred and fifty thousand."

"God, Mom; how could this have happened? Daddy made good money for years and years; where did it all go?"

Carolyn shrugged. She'd known, of course, but it hadn't been any of Pat's business. Well, there was no reason to keep it secret now; besides, she was angry. "Darling, you may as well know. There was your father's pregnant mistress and child support and silence money for ten years to her, and then there had been the gifts to his other girlfriends from Tiffany's and Harry Winston. There were the trips to Paris, Tokyo and the Serengeti we treated the whole family to, including the grandchildren, and all of those hotels and meals were five star, if you'll recall."

Pat looked stunned—well, yes, but her parents had plenty of money. They all knew that.

Carolyn went on. "There were the dinners at the Four Seasons and the cruises across the Atlantic on the QE2 every year. Philip encouraged my shopping at Saks and Bendel's and Neiman's and there had been the occasional Dior or St. Laurent for special occasions. You know he always insisted that I make a good appearance."

Philip liked to live well, but even his salary couldn't keep up.

"Oh, my God, Mom. If we'd known…"

"You'd have what? Stopped him? Don't be silly; you know no one could when he wanted to do something."

And Carolyn knew he had borrowed money from Zucco over the years, as well. He'd borrowed a lot of money from Zucco.

Stupid man. She'd tried to tell him that was a stupid thing to do, but he was insistent that he could take care of it. She'd known something would happen, not that he would believe her—or maybe he did and was just too stubborn to admit that he'd made a bad mistake. Either way, he was dead and everything was a mess. And she was alone.

"All right, John, just tell me how much money I need to come up with and how long I have to get it."

The poor man looked so uncomfortable. "All in all, it looks to me that you can stave off repossession and keep one of your cars and the house and contents with about a hundred and fifty thousand, and you'll need it as soon as you can get it. You'll still owe another two hundred after that, but if you come up with the first chunk we should be able to structure reasonable payments that would come to about three thousand a month. That would also assume you're willing to return the major pieces of jewelry that are still outstanding. You'll have his death benefits, of course and I think he had a life insurance policy that should give you some income. You may have to go back to work." John looked like he was about to cry, she knew how he felt. "I know he was hoping to somehow access some of Dick's inheritance, though I can't think it's enough for any of this; maybe he was hoping to get a loan from Bruce Wayne. I don't really know. I'm so sorry, Carolyn…If I could spare the money myself, you know I would, but the twins started Stanford last year, the two younger ones are in private schools and we just put in the pool; I'm tapped out."

She nodded. She knew. "Is this owed to the IRS or to Zucco?"

"Both, it's about an even split."

Three hundred and fifty thousand; it might as well be three hundred and fifty million.

Up in Steve's bedroom the four boys were listening at the heating vent. They'd discovered this handy trick when they were each about three, and it was used more than the parents would have thought, if they'd known.

"Shit, Grandma may lose her house. And what was that about Grandpa messing up their money?"

"And screwing around?" Steve looked over at Peter. Chip might be too young to really understand, but the older brothers weren't and it was obviously that Dick wasn't missing anything, either.

Dick didn't say anything. His grandfather, his long-lost grandfather was not only screwing around on his wife and had some illegitimate kid he'd been paying for, but he'd screwed around so much that he'd been blackmailed to keep it quiet. And if that weren't enough, he had some connection with Tony Zucco—the bastard who'd killed Dick's parents and Grandpa Phil's own daughter.


But it sounded like Grandma had nothing to do with it. In fact, it sounded like she'd gotten the short end of this for a long time now. Okay, maybe she was dumb to stay with the old prick, but, well, that was her decision. Did she even know he'd worked for Zucco?

Of course she did; she'd asked about Zucco so she knew.


This was all too much for Dick to deal with right now. Getting up, ignoring his cousins' questions, he used the back way to get out of the house and be alone for a while. Walking down the street, he pulled out his cell phone. "Bruce?"

"Dick, is everything all right up there? Are you all right?"

"When the fuck were you going to tell me that my Grandfather was involved in my parents' murders?"

Dick could hear Bruce inhale. It wasn't easy to shake the Bat but this seemed to have done it. "…It, he was only involved after the fact. He was Zucco's lawyer."

"Bruce…Bullshit. Zucco killed his daughter and son-in-law—and would have killed me, too, and he defended the bastard?"

"I checked him out and I'm convinced that he wasn't any danger to you. He, I think he really did want to get to know you and make you an actual part of the family…"

"And he wanted my money, too. Right? What money? I don't have anything except my Dad's broken Harley, and he should have known that better than anyone, so he was going to ask you for money, is that it? He cut off my mother when she and Dad got married. Don't even try to deny that one. I overheard the lawyer reading the will. He was in debt and since he couldn't get mine—all twenty dollars of it—he was going to ask you or Zucco to loan him what he needed." Dick stopped, then, "He killed my parents. He fucking killed my parents—his own daughter, Bruce."

Bruce could hear Dick's voice, knew he was crying.

"Dick, listen to me." He heard the labored, thick breaths coming through the line. "Are you listening? He didn't kill them; Zucco did. Your grandfather was Zucco's lawyer." This shouldn't be done over the phone. Dick needed to hear this face to face.

"C'mon, Bruce. He helped Zucco. He defended him." There was a pause for a moment. "I don't want to be here anymore, okay? Could someone get me? Tonight?"

"I'll leave right now; I'll be there in about ninety minutes."

Dick went back to the house slowly. This was worse than anything he'd imagined. He'd thought that he'd finally been welcomed into his family, that they wanted him because of his mother and because he was a cousin and a grandchild, and all Grandpa wanted was an easy way to Bruce's money.

On the ride back to the Manor they talked, Bruce telling Dick what he knew about Philip Lloyd. He told the truth, but tried as much as he could to not make the man sound like a monster. It wasn't easy.

"It wasn't as cut and dried as you think, Dick. He wasn't that black and white." The boy was looking out the window, listening. "I think he did want to get to know you, bring you back to your family and I believe that he genuinely wanted to make amends. I'm convinced of it."

"He helped Zucco."

That was the big one. "It was a two way street with them. He did help him, yes, but…" God, how to say this? "I believe that he never wanted, never had anything to do with your mother's death. From what I've been able to find out, that was a genuine accident."

"And my father?"

"Zucco picked your father as his example because he was the show's headliner and his death would hurt Haley the most. Your grandfather didn't like your Dad and…"

"…Saw it was a way to kill two birds with one stone?"

"Philip had nothing to do with the planning, Dick; he did his job after the fact."

Dick made a sound halfway between a snort and a laugh. "Big difference."

"Dick, he made bad choices, he tried to make up for them." No response. "And he was caught up with the mob; the only way out for him was a witness protection program and even that might not have worked. He had his wife and surviving daughter to think about."

"And the reason he couldn't take me in was…what was that, Bruce? I was a reminder, an inconvenience? I ate too much food? Explain that away, why don't you."

"Dick…I don't know."

"So why did you allow him to try to get close to me? After you knew all of this, why didn't you just cut him off? Why didn't you tell me what happened?"

"Because—I could contain and stop him from actually getting custody of you and I thought that you should have a chance to know your real family. It was so important to you." It sounded lame. "I thought I could control any problems…"

"So it's my fault? Christ, Bruce." Dick was confused, unsure what to accept in all of this. "What about my grandmother? Did she know what was going on? Did she know he'd been responsible for my parents' getting killed?—okay, that the man her husband worked for killed them?"

"I don't know, but she may not have. It's possible, even probable that he kept that from her. It's common not to let family members get involved in the business end of things."

They drove in silence the rest of the way, Dick not saying anything when they got home but instead heading straight to the gym where he spent the next four hours working out, hard.

"How is the young master, sir?"

"Angry, hurt, about what you'd expect."

Alfred nodded; yes, he knew. "I believe that there's some information about the crash you will want to see, sir. It's downstairs."

The first report he read confirmed what Bruce has suspected; the brakes had been tampered with and Philip Lloyd's death was murder. The question was, who'd damaged the lines? Zucco's men, afraid that Lloyd would talk or someone else; one of the many other's Lloyd had made enemies of over the years?

Bruce's gut feeling was that James Simpson was responsible, either directly or by ordering the job done. It made sense; Zucco wanted Lloyd to pay him back. If he were dead he'd never see the money he'd lent. James, on the other hand, was known to resent his father-in-law and to be jealous of the amount of money his wife's parents had lavished on the Simpson's over the years.

In addition to that, Simpson stood to gain, indirectly, if Philip was killed, through his wife's eventual inheritance. Plus, he'd gain a degree of independence he'd been lacking by acting at Philip's flunky. Add to that, if he and his wife gained custody of Dick, they could reasonably expect to also be granted trusteeship of Dick's money.

The hard part would be to prove it.

Starting tonight, Bruce would see what he could find about the details of the wreck and how, specifically, the brakes were damaged.

The second report he pulled up seemed to confirm that Carolyn Lloyd was an innocent victim of her husband's stupidity, greed and appetites. She was, from all sources, a genuinely kind woman, intelligent and educated who stayed in a bad marriage for her own reasons, whatever they may have been. Maybe it was for her daughter, maybe she simply liked the life-style. It didn't matter now.

Pat Simpson seemed equally blameless but there was evidence that James Simpson was working with his father-in-law to transfer custody of Dick to his blood family and then gain access to Dick's trust fund. Fortunately Lucius had detected activity at the brokerage house where it was invested and took care of closing down the leaks. The Wayne intern who'd run the checks was fired and charges were going to be filed against her.

So, what to do now?

Dick, upset as he understandably was, would calm down sooner or later and then he could decide whether or not he wanted to continue a relationship with his cousins; he'd probably choose to stay close to them as well as to the two women in the family. As for his uncle, well, that might be a different story. Bruce would support his decision.

There was still no reason for Dick to know about his trust fund and it's immense growth. He'd find out in due course.

Shutting down the computer, Bruce made his way to the gym. Dick was still on the high bar, doing a seemingly endless series of giant swings and Bruce could see that his hands were starting to bleed as they would when he worked too long. He'd end up tearing the calluses and need weeks for them to heal.

As he watched, Dick's swings became faster and faster, building up speed until he released at the apogee, tucked and spun almost too fast to count. The quad.

He stuck the landing, standing in place, sweaty, breathing hard.

Slowly he lowered his arms, his shoulders slumping, his head down. His voice was low. "I thought that families were, I don't know, different than that."

"No one is the Walton's, Dick. They're just people. Your grandfather made some big mistakes, like I told you—like you know, but he tried to…"

"No. He tried to use me to solve the mess he made."

Dick was right. "But he also introduced you to your cousins and your grandmother, your aunt. They didn't do anything other than accept you and make you feel welcomed." Bruce crossed over to the boy, handing him a clean towel for his hands. Alfred would attend to them soon enough.

"He defended the man who killed my parents."

"And now he's dead."

Dick sniffed, whether from emotion or the workout, Bruce wasn't sure. "I've been thinking while I was on the bar. I don't want to lose my cousins." Bruce nodded; that was no surprise. "But I'm not sure about my grandmother or Aunt Pat. Do you know if they knew anything about any of this?"

"As far as I know, they didn't."

Dick nodded, making a decision. "All right, but I won't see James again. He helped my grandfather and I know that there was more going on than you're telling me." He looked up. "I'm not stupid, Bruce. I know you were talking to Lucius about some money my parents left me that they were trying to get their hands on and I know you stopped them somehow." He took a step off the mat, pulling up the hem of his shirt to wipe his face. "Good." He even managed a half smile at that. "I knew you two wouldn't let them get near anything you didn't want them to." Suddenly Dick started quietly laughing. "I guess it's true."

Bemused by the unexpected reaction, Bruce raised an eyebrow in question. "What is?"

"That you can chose your friends but you can't pick your relatives."

"Dick…So, you're all right with all of this?"

Dick threw the towel on the floor like he always did to Alfred's annoyance. "Hell, no, but what can you do, right?"

He started towards the steps then paused. "Okay, so my grandfather was a stupid man who screwed up, ruined his own life, made life hell for me and his wife. Okay, and now he's dead and I have some family back."

"And…?" This was too fast an about face for Bruce after everything that had happened today. This was a relatively new trait he'd noticed in Dick whenever something horrible happened. The boy would pretend to shrug it off, and then would spend months brooding about whatever had upset him. This was sounding like another bout of Dick not wanting to have to deal with something that desperately needed dealing with. Alfred said the boy got it from Bruce; well, he probably did.

"And so you play the cards you're dealt. I know now why my parents were targeted, I have cousins and an aunt I actually like and a grandmother who seems like she's a pretty good one—even if she was screwed over by my grandfather." Maybe Dick was back, the eternal optimist, the one who always saw the glass as half full. "Families—amazing."

The problem, of course, was that Bruce knew that Dick was locking it all up inside and a rueful internal voice asked him where on earth the youngster might have learned that. 'Look in the mirror, old boy. He learned it from the master.'

Dick started up the stairs but stopped again after a few steps. "And Bruce? I might like to take up Burton Boards on their offer to tour South America this summer; could we maybe talk about that sometime this week? I was thinking that maybe you could take a week or two off and go along on a few of the tour stops. It would be a vacation for us. You think?"

"It might not be a bad idea, but we'll have to work out covering Robin being missing for a good part of the summer."

Dick gave him a look. "C'mon, Bruce. You know J'onn will help out—just like he did when we were in the Bahamas and 'Batman' dropped in on my grandfather."

"You knew about that?"

" 'World's second greatest detective', remember?" Dick's smile broke out. "I'm not completely stupid, you know. Like I know that wasn't an accident that killed my grandfather." This was a long way from over, but Dick wasn't out of the game.

"I was 'going out' in a while, you think you'd like to join me?"

"Busting my uncle?" Dick's face went quiet. "I think I'd rather skip it, if that's okay with you. I think I know what happened and I'd rather just not deal with it right now, okay?"

Bruce nodded. "Sure, chum."

That night Batman delivered his findings linking Dick's uncle to the murder of Philip Lloyd to the local police department in the Simpson's town.

The next day, while his sons were in school and couldn't see their father led away, James Simpson was arrested for murder. He had his passport in his pocket and a small bag packed to go. It contained one thousand dollars in cash along with a change of clothes. The plane ticket the police discovered waiting for him was for Frankfurt, one of the largest hubs in Europe. From there he could have connected to anywhere in the world. Evidence linking tools found in his basement matched up with cut marks on Lloyd's brake lines and a fingerprint was found tying him to the car's undercarriage.

The trial quickly became a media circus once the sex and money aspect of the case came out, and Dick stayed as far away from it as he could. Shielded by Wayne security, he succeeded fairly well. The Simpson boys spent several weekends at the Manor. It seemed to help.

Dick saw his cousins as often as he could, though there was some resentment on their part that he had distanced himself from their father's problems. The second trip to the Bahamas helped by giving the four boys time to reconnect and talk things out. Pat also went again, needing a break from her broken marriage and her still powerful grief about her father's death—and the revelations about the parts of his life and mind she hadn't known about.

One day while on the one of Bruce's private beaches, she thanked him for what he'd done to help. "I know you paid off the outstanding bills for Mom, Bruce. I, she would have lost the house if you hadn't. And—thank you."

Bruce was uncomfortable with the praise. It really was a small matter to him, and Dick had asked him to do it. "It was a loan, Pat. She'll pay me back."

"Yes, she will, but you still saved her house—and let her stay in touch with Dick. You don't know how much that means to her, to all of us. He's so much like Mary…"

Bruce looked over at her. "She must have been something."

"Yes. And Dick is her son; and he's yours as well." Pat looked out to the boys swimming off shore. "She'd be proud of him."

The End