Part One:

Your Cheatin' Heart

DISCLAIMER: DC Comics owns them (sadly). Maybe if I asked them nicely, they'd give them to me as a Christmas gift, but I highly doubt that… OY! But Tracie, June and the horsies are MINE!

(as if she suddenly thought of it) And Dick is mine, too!… okay, DC Comics, okay. Don't have a cow, I was joking. (police arrive and take her away) HEY, I SAID I WAS JOKING! (police ignore her) WALLY IF THIS IS ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR PRANKS, I'LL MURDER YA! (Wally just snickers and wanders off)

"I hate being sick."

"I know, Master Dick. Open wide, please."

As Alfred stuck the thermometer in my mouth, I couldn't help but think that this was a lousy way to start a vacation. See, school had just let out for the summer, and we always spend the summer months down at Bruce's beach house in Florida. But unfortunately, somebody 'up there' (if you know what I mean) had decided to get my holiday off to a rotten start.

Alfred took the thermometer back and announced that my temperature was about three degrees higher than it should have been.

Well, the afternoon of surfing I had planned was out. Isn't it wonderful to be sick on your first week of summer vacation? And I was finally going to be able to go surfing without Bruce looking over my shoulder every ten seconds, too. Took him long enough. We've been coming here for five years—since I was ten—and he FINALLY trusted me enough to let me go surfing by myself. And then I had to get the flu, for crying out loud!

I started to complain about this, but was interrupted by a rather violent coughing fit.

The front door to the house opened and closed. Bruce was back.

"You tell him," I said to Alfred, just before ducking under the covers. Actually, it was kind of steamy and hard to breathe under there, but at least I couldn't see the light flooding in through the windows. That would not only keep me awake, but it would also remind me of all the fun I was missing.

I could hear voices, and then somebody knocked on my blankets. And, incidentally, my head. Which just made the growing headache grow faster.

"Nobody's home!" I grumped.

A hand pulled the covers back. Bruce stood there, holding my blanket, actually looking amused. Well, okay, just a little, but that was a start.

"What's so funny?"


I growled and took my blanket back, promptly replacing it over my head. Just before I began coughing again.

The next thing I knew, it was Alfred who had pulled the covers back. And he was trying to shove some of that practically-deadly cherry-flavored cough medicine down my throat.

"Yuck! Alfred!" I protested, trying to shove that vile stuff away. "I'd rather be shot!"

"That can be arranged," Alfred said dryly.


"Master Dick…"

I made a face, but swallowed the poison anyway. Once it was all down, I made an even bigger face.

"That stuff tastes worse than Bruce's coffee. Or whatever he calls it. Because that's not what I call it!"

Another coughing fit saved me from the very long lecture Bruce was undoubtedly going to give me about how I had never actually tasted his (so-called) coffee, respecting your elders and 'when I was your age…'.

Alfred handed me a glass of water, which I took gratefully.

"Just remember—that medicine is going to help you feel better faster," Bruce reminded me. He sat down on the bed as I gave him a ferocious glare over the rim of the glass.

He continued, "And if you don't get better soon, who's going to be my best man?"

It was right around then that the water in my mouth had been sprayed all over the blankets. Then I spent the next five seconds or so coughing and gasping for breath.

"Bruce, I've already got the flu. The last thing I need is a heart attack on top of it!" I fairly yelled, examining the soaked bed coverings. "Now let's take this from the top—I could have sworn you said 'best man'…"

"I did."

"And when you say 'best man', you mean…?"

"That's right, Dick." Bruce gave me one of those weird half-smiles of his. "I'm getting married."

All I could do was stare. Married! What kind of world did he just come back from, the Twilight Zone? He had to be kidding about this… wait… this is Bruce… he never kids.

"You're… you're getting—"

Once again, I was interrupted by that darned cough. Apparently, the medicine hadn't exactly kicked in yet.

Bruce placed a hand on my shoulder and waited for me to get over it. Then he started to talk again, in a slightly gentler tone: "Look, Dick, I know this must come as a bit of a surprise to you—"

"'Surprise'! Bruce, I'm way passed just 'surprise'!" I exclaimed, fighting the urge to cough again. "You never told me you were getting serious about someone. You didn't even tell me you were seeing anyone, for Pete's sake!"

"I know, Dick, but—"

"The least you could have done was told me!" I insisted.

Actually, I was kind of hurt to learn that Bruce hadn't confided in me about this thing. He knew I would have understood, and I felt rather insulted to be left out of such an important matter.

Don't get me wrong, though. I know he has to have his privacy or whatever. But still, when you've been someone's ward for almost six years, you kind of get the feeling that you should be informed when you will be getting a new mother of sorts…

Wait a minute.

A new mother?

I wasn't ready for that!

I turned to Alfred and asked if he had known. My only response was a nod accompanied by the customary, "Yes, Master Dick."

That did it. Now I was mad. How come everybody in the house was aware of what was going on except me? Didn't I count for anything anymore? Or maybe it was because Bruce's fiancée didn't like children—or teenagers, whichever term you want to use—and I was about to be turned over to somebody else? After six years, they were throwing me out like an old shoe?

No, Alfred wouldn't allow that, and neither would Bruce… right?

Before I could say anything about this, someone knocked on my still-open bedroom door. A sweet-sounding feminine voice asked: "May I come in?"

And that was my first glimpse of her—tall, blonde and wearing a riding outfit that looked as if she had been sewn into it. I just hoped she wasn't like all those other empty-headed ding-dongs Bruce had dated in the past.

Perhaps seeing a chance to escape being chewed out by yours truly, Bruce stood up and walked over to the young woman. Then, putting an arm around her shoulders, he introduced her as Tracie Silvers, the future Mrs. Bruce Wayne.

"And Tracie," he continued. "This is my ward, Richard Grayson. But we just call him 'Dick'. Unless he's in trouble, that is…"

"Bruce!" I groaned, embarrassed.

Tracie came forward as if to shake hands, but I told her to keep back unless she liked having the flu. And besides that, I still wasn't overly fond of this marriage idea and didn't want her coming any closer the first time.

"Well, it's been nice meeting you anyway," she said pleasantly. "Are we still going riding, Bruce, or are you going to stay here with Dick?"

"Go ahead," I told him, still not feeling very hospitable towards either of them. "I'll be fine."

Bruce nodded his head reluctantly and followed Tracie out of the room. However, just before he left, he turned around said to me, "We'll be talking some more about this later."

The tone left no room for argument.

However, as things turned out, we never got the chance to talk. Bruce and Tracie were out riding (or something like that) for ages. And by the time they got back, I was already asleep.

The next day, I felt even lousier and was in no mood for talking about anything. But I had long since convinced myself that I was to be turned out as soon as the marriage was over.

Me: There you have it, folks. Another lame attempt at drama by yours truly. (rolls eyes) I'll probably be kicking myself in the pants inside a week for posting this, but there you have it. After I post this, I think I'll watch some Mary Tyler Moore, so I'll post this quick...