Just the Way You Are
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the song. I do not own any of the characters, except Principal McNeilson and Grace Winslow, although I do own the story itself, so don't go borrowing it without my permission!! As if anyone would actually want it… oh, and I also own the 'stuff' (don't ask, just read).
"Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I may not seem to care."
From the song 'Just the Way You Are',
composed and sung by Billy Joel
(Which is murder to play on the piano, btw... DON'T TRY IT!!)
Dick sighed heavily. He hated these late-night parties… well, not so much the 'late-night' part. Alfred rarely let him stay up past nine o'clock, and these parties were an excuse to stay awake until eleven because Bruce had to show him around to everyone.
The 'party' was a different story. All the guests would always laugh (a lot) and talk (even more than laugh) and drink (sometimes even more than the first two put together) until it almost drove Dick up the wall. And all those women would always pinch his cheek or pat him on the head as if he were a dog and say how cute he was or how much he had grown since the last party (which was usually about a week ago). In fact, Dick wasn't sure whether he'd rather go to bed at the usual time instead of suffer through these parties.
At least it was already ten-thirty. Another half-hour and the guests would all be gone. Then Alfred would escort him up to his bedroom and make sure he was safe in bed before going back downstairs and cleaning up the party mess.
"Good-bye, Mr. Wayne, and thank you—it was such a lovely party," some senator's wife gushed with a huge smile.
"The pleasure was all mine," Bruce assured her, even while he was thinking how lucky he would be if he never saw her again. She really was quite annoying. How did that senator put up with her? That was probably how he got elected to the senate—extreme resistance to annoying women.
"And are sure this little imp isn't your son? You two look so much alike!" she jested.
Trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice, Bruce replied in what he hoped was a joking tone, "Yes, I'm very sure he's not… my son."
Dick rolled his eyes. How many times would he be put through this agonizing routine?! He himself didn't mind, of course, but it must be torture for Bruce, being told a hundred times over that some orphan looked exactly like you.
"Well, good-bye, and thank you so very much for inviting us."
The next day was Sunday, so Dick could—fortunately—sleep as late as he wanted to make up for going to bed two hours later than usual. And by Monday morning, Dick was back to his normal, wake-up-at-five-o'clock-in-the-morning self.
Once, back when he didn't know better than to ask such dumb questions, Bruce had asked Dick why he bothered to wake up so early when it wasn't Christmas, to which the boy had replied, "Force of habit—I always got up at five so I could help the animal trainers clean out the animal cages before anyone else got up."
After that, as long as they weren't hurting anyone, Bruce never again questioned Dick's somewhat-odd habits.
At school that day, several boring things happened, but only one of these events actually pertain to what will happen later, so that is the only one that will be mentioned in this story.
Dick and a friend of his, Grace Winslow, were walking down the hall to their class after lunch when they met up with the Miss McNeilson. The pretty, brown-haired principal had been heading back to her office after suspending somebody.
"Oh, hello!" she greeted as cheerfully as one can after being put through the agony of listening to some enraged mother insisting that her darling couldn't possibly be guilty.
"Good morning, Miss McNeilson," Dick and Grace responded in unison.
McNeilson glanced down at the newspaper in her hands. It was opened and folded to the society page. Specifically, it was on the article about Bruce Wayne's latest social gathering.
"You know, Dick, I don't know if anyone has ever told you this, but… you look an awful lot like Mr. Wayne," Miss McNeilson observed. "In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you were father and son!"
"Really?" Dick said, trying to sound interested.
"Yes. Haven't you ever noticed?"
'Noticed'? Are you kidding? How can I forget when everybody keeps reminding Bruce and annoying him about it? Dick thought irritably.
"Now that you mention it…"
"Oh, if you don't mind Miss McNeilson," interrupted Grace. "We'll be late for class if we don't go now."
"Yes, of course, I'm sorry. Have a good day!"
"You, too, Miss McNeilson!"
Dick continued to think: There has got to be some way to stop people from saying that Bruce and I look alike. Come on, think! Umm… ah-ha! Yes, that's what I'll do.
Inspiration had struck.
Dick told Grace to go on to class without him and scurried off to the Teachers' Lounge before she could ask any prying questions. Nobody was in the Lounge at that moment, since class was already starting and the teachers were now at their respective classrooms. So it was with no witnesses that Dick dialed the number.
"Hello, Alfred... no, I haven't set the school on fire… ha, ha, very funny… listen, Grace invited me over after school, so could you pick me up around six-thirty instead?... Great, thanks, bye!"
As soon as school was out for the day, however, Dick didn't go to Grace's house. Instead, he hurried off in the opposite direction towards the drug store.
The annoying little bell tinkled as Dick entered the small shop.
"Hello, sir, I was wondering if you could help me…"
Later that same evening, Dick sat in front of the mirror in his private bathroom. When he had first arrived, Dick had been shocked at the size of stately Wayne Manor. In fact, his closet was bigger than the trailer in which had lived in while with the Haly Circus! Then, of course, when he had seen the bathroom, he had been even more surprised. It seemed that the entire circus could put on a performance in it, with room for the audience!
But now, Dick could see everything in their correct proportions—his trailer had been extremely small, Wayne Manor was extremely large, and the rest of America lived in houses somewhere between the two.
Dick picked up the bottle he had gotten from the drug store that afternoon. He had fully intended on reading the directions carefully, but after hearing footsteps come dangerously close to his bedroom one too many times, Dick's paranoia had taken over. He merely skimmed through the instructions and then began.
An hour later, Dick rinsed one last time and checked the mirror.
The only reason he didn't scream was because, if Alfred ever found out, he would probably scream even louder.
To Be Continued...
Me: Oh, boy, what has Dick done now? Come back next week to find out--same Bat-Time, same--
Dick: You say Bat-Channel and I'll tear you to pieces!!
Me: You wouldn't do that!
Dick: Give me one good reason why I shouldn't!
Me: Because I said so!
Dick: That ain't a good reason!
Me: Too bad. Oh, and you people out there just ignore us and review, would you please?
Dick: You still haven't given me a good reason!
Me: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.
Dick: Try me!!
Me: Okay. Would you believe me if I told you that you and everybody you know are fictional characters, and that you live in a fictional city, and that your life is completely controlled by nutzos like me?
Dick: Heck NO!
Me: I didn't think so.