A/N This little plot bunny 'twas born, unsurprisingly, upon the viewing of Batman Begins. Although I have had some exposure to the old shows, this story is based primarily upon BB.
Rated for two scenes of moderate violence.
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman (or Bruce Wayne), or any technology thereby associated. I do not own Robin (or Dick Grayson), or any boy wonderfulness thereby achieved. I do not own Alfred (or a British accent), or any excellent service thereby rendered. I do not own Christian Bale. (Sigh…)
Bat-Chapter 1: Hatching
"He's my what?" Bruce stared in disbelief at the furious face of Rachel Dawes.
"Your ward, Bruce, your legal responsibility. And you've ignored him, abandoned him to the lawyers, who dumped him in foster care. You know how I found him?" He figured it was a rhetorical question since she plunged on without waiting for an answer. "In a drug bust. A drug bust. Apparently a little sideline of the couple who ran the distribution center was milking social services. They had seven children crammed into a filthy hole of a room, while they collected support money and got free labor. They had the kids rolling coke into cigars."
The story was terrible, but hardly shocking. "Typical Gotham," Bruce remarked quietly.
"Is that all you can say?" Rachel hissed in disgust. "You think the only time you have any responsibility for people is when you're wearing a mask and a…"
She broke off as Bruce's hand grabbed her shoulder in an iron grip. Realizing what she had almost said, Rachel flushed and glanced around the empty conference room. But she knew too well that in Gotham, just looking like you were alone was no indication that you were. "Sorry," she muttered, "but you do have a responsibility to the boy."
"Yes, and that's the part I don't quite understand. The only relatives I ever remember having are an elderly aunt and a second cousin, neither of whom is named…what was it again?"
"Grayson, Richard Grayson," Rachel replied stiffly, and looked pointedly at the hand that still rested on her shoulder.
"How can Richard possibly be my responsibility?" Bruce quietly dropped his hand to his side.
Now a look of puzzlement entered her eyes. "You mean you don't know?"
"No," he said patiently. "That's what I've been trying to tell you for the past five minutes."
Rachel turned a brilliant red and muttered, "Well excuse me for thinking you know what goes on in your own company."
"It's a big company."
Realizing she no longer had the advantage, Rachel switched to brisk and businesslike. "The boy was willed to you."
Bruce frowned. "Impossible…I never consented to such a thing."
"Well, not to you exactly," Rachel conceded. "To the Wayne Corporation. Charles Grayson, Richard's father, was hired the year after you disappeared. His contract contained a clause to the effect that should anything happen to him while he was in the employ of the Wayne Corporation, the company would take responsibility for his family. Charles was killed two years after he signed the contract. His wife received support checks until, well…" She trailed off, compassion written across her lovely face.
"How did she die?" Bruce inquired.
"She was killed in the chaos caused by Crane's nerve gas. Ran into some of the Arkham inmates." She couldn't repress a slight shudder as she remembered her own horrifying experiences under the influence of the hallucinogen.
"I see." Bruce's mouth was hard. "Where is the boy?"
"I left him with your secretary."
Without another word he scooped up his briefcase and strode out the room, pulling a cell phone from his suit coat pocket. Rachel scurried after him. "What are you going to do?"
"It's what I usually do when I'm expecting a house guest."
"Wait…you mean you're taking him home with you? That is not a good idea."
He stopped, thumb poised above 'dial.' "Isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted you to pull some strings and find him a nice home with a nice family."
"I have a nice home."
"It's not about having a mansion!" Glancing at some passing executives, Rachel stepped closer and lowered her voice. "You are not exactly a father figure. Richard needs someone to spend time with him, to keep him safe." Bruce slowly raised one dark eyebrow, and Rachel realized that 'keep him safe' might not have been the greatest phrase to discourage a crime fighter. "He needs an authority figure to be a good example he can copy," she said coldly.
"Ah, you think I'll be a bad influence on him," Bruce accused.
"Yes! No…I don't know." Rachel's shoulders slumped. She hadn't had a full night's sleep in a week, and this confrontation was more complicated than she had bargained for.
"Maybe you're right," Bruce said, and dropped the phone back into his pocket.
Rachel's head flew up at the quiet admission, but he was already striding down the hallway, and she had to run to catch up. "So what are you going to do?" she again demanded, panting slightly.
"I don't know," he admitted. He pushed through the door and froze. There, swallowed by a brown leather chair, was a slight, blonde-headed boy. The same little boy that Rachel had sheltered on Crane's night of horrors. The same little boy who defied his friends and believed in Batman…
Richard Grayson's face was young, but his eyes were ancient. The grief and loneliness of loss did not give children time to grow up. Bruce knew that all too well. An unexpected surge of fierce protectiveness washed over him, a burning desire to protect this child and seek justice for the evil he had suffered. The Batman instinct, Bruce thought wryly.
Batman. Rachel had refused to love him because she believed he had nothing left to give to a relationship, a family. Maybe she was right. But if he had unconsciously neglected this child once, there was no way he could knowingly abandon him now.
Pulling the phone from his pocket, he hit the buttons without taking his eyes from that still, small figure. "Alfred?"
"Yes, Master Wayne."
"We're going to have a guest."
Will Bruce succeed in claiming his ward, or will Rachel's mistrust prevail?
Don't forget to join us for the exciting continuation – same bat-time, same bat-channel.
All bat-reviewers will be given an authentic souvenir piece of the Batmobile.1
1Supplies are limited.