"You didn't tell me."
Robin turned, startled, to the black spot from where Batman was emerging.
"Hello, Bruce, I'm also delighted to see you. Nice of you to come to the Nest by surprise."
"Don't change subject, Robin."
"I'm afraid I must, because I don't fucking know what you are talking about."
"Aw. Lucky I have you to remind me of what I know and what I don't."
The boy walked past Batman while he undid the cape, folding it and leaving it over a chair.
He heard Bruce grunt and knew he was pissing him off.
Tim turned to him, angry.
"Ok, I didn't tell you. Now what?"
"Because Dick is old enough to mind his own bussiness and I'm not here to watch over him."
He saw Bruce's frown hardening dangerously.
"Nightwing bussiness are our bussiness."
"I'm not talking about Nightwing here, Bruce, I'm talking about Dick. Because if we are not talking about a father worried because of his misled son, then the talk is over."
The boy held the gaze of the adult for a few seconds before realizing he was not going to even acknowlege his concern.
He snorted, turning and unbuttoning his costume.
Batman's hand caught him by the shoulder, making him turn around and face him again.
"We are not over yet, Robin."
"Tim! Tim, for God's sake, Bruce!" The boy took of the mask, setting it on a table with a punch. "I'm Tim and you are Bruce and we are worried about Dick. Because if you dare tell me you are worried about Nighwing, with all his secrets and training, being one of the bad guys, Batman or not, I'm going to kick you out of the Nest and ban you for life."
Bruce looked at him for a really long time without letting him go. Finally, the man sighed and took of his mask.
Tim relaxed. It was easier to talk to Bruce than to talk to Batman. The man listened better than the myth would ever do.
"Still... you should have told me."
The boy sat down, signaling another chair for the adult to do the same.
"Don't take it badly, ok? But... you have enough of your own deal, with everything happening in Gotham lately and the JLA..."
"What do you know about any of this?"
"Do you think the Titans live in bliss or something? We know the JLA is shaterring into pieces, and..."
"I'm worried, because even you need your friends, Bruce, as much as any of us do", he thought, but he didn't tell, because there were things you didn't say to Bruce Wayne.
"You thought I couldn't deal."
"No! But I thought you would go, look for him, and...don't know, do something stupid."
"Yes, stupid. You are capable of stupidity, Bruce, belive it or not. And, besides, he needs to deal with it all alone, realize by himself that one mistake does not make a bad man. If it was so, we all be locked in Blackgate by now."
"Like your clone friend should be?"
"Don't you step into it, Bruce. That's been uncalled for. I'm not attacking you. You don't want me to start attacking you." The teenager stood up, giving his back to the Batman (for this had been Batman's words) while he composed himself again. "And I would really apreciate you called him by his name when talking to me."
"You know wich one, his real one."
"Conner Kent is not his real name."
"It's as real a name as Tim Drake or Bruce Wayne. It's the name someone who loves him gave him, the name his friends and family give him when they think of him. And you should know better than anyone that sometimes this kind of tie is stronger than blood or genes."
The adult stay silent again, pondering, thinking. He did so when things were not turning out as he had planned them in his head.
"Look, Bruce." The boy sat, putting a tactful hand in the man's arm, "I know your worries, because I'm worried too. Deathstroke is not someone to play with, and Dick may be into very deep shit... But right know he does not need you, or even me, to go and talk him senseless. You don't have the tact, and I'm not important enough to him to make a diference. And asking Alfred would be just mean."
"I was not thinking about it."
"Just in case." Tim smiled to Bruce.
The adult sighed again.
"And what do you suggest?"
"To have an eye on him, just in case he needs us... but to let him be. He is smart enough to realize all by himself who he is and what's his rightfull place."
"Don't worry. Deathstroke won't be a better father than you, his records so far are disastrous."
Tim bit his lip too late. He couldn't see Bruce's eyes in the half-light of the Nest, but he could tell his big mouth should have hit harder than he intended.
"This was suposed to be a joke?"
"Sorry. I have to work on them."
"And I'm the tactless one, uh?" There was a bit of humor in his voice.
The boy reddened.
Bruce put on his mask again, standing up.
"What if he discovers he likes the evil path?"
"It would never happen, not to Dick. He is your son, after all."
"What if he gets too deep to come out?"
"We will be there to pull him out, then."
Silence again while the Batman nodded.
"What if he discovers he hates me even if he does not like the evil path?"
"Then you would have to deal with it" added the younger vigilante with a shrug.
Bruce finally smiled.
"You are growing up too fast for me to follow, Tim."
"No, it's you who is getting old and slow."
Now he chuckled softly.
"You are too witty for your own good."
"I'll tell the Titans you and them agree about something."
Batman was not so scary when he was not scowling or posing. He was just a lonely man in a dark suit, sick worried about those he loved and could not protect, needed of love and protection himself, but unable to ask for it.
So he just squeezed his arm, telling the man he was there, just in case he was needed.
Bruce squeezed his back before turning and jumping through the window, getting lost in the cold Blüdhaven night.
When he was sure the Bat was out of reach, Tim allowed himself to sigh. He hoped he was right. For Bruce's sake, for Dick's... for his own...
His surrogate family was going rapidily down the sink, and he felt useless and hopeless, not to mention saturated.
"What you didn't ask, Bruce, is what are we going to do if he discovers he hates us and we can't deal with it." Murmured the boy, the cold night air making him shiver. "Lucky me. I didn't have an answer for that one."