The Long and Winding Road

Chapter Nine

DISCLAIMER: Last chapter. Still don't own them. Aaaaalllllll DC Comics property.

A couple of quick notes before we start the story here... this is the LAST CHAPTER! YAHOO, FINALLY! I'm hoping it's sufficiently satisfying for all of you wonderful fans. And thanks to not just the people who reviewed, but to all of those other silent readers who enjoyed this fic as well.

Also, I am so sorry if some of the characterizations seem a little inaccurate or mushy or even completely out-of-character. But this chapter had to be an emotional one (you'll see why), and it IS a little alternate-universeish, when you think about it... thank you!


"So that's how it happened," I finish up.

There's no reply from Wally. I think he's still in shock from all that I've just told him. And I can't really say that I blame him, even if it is quite unusual for Wally West to be speechless.

Sensing that Wally isn't going to say anything, I continue, "So what happened downstairs with Bruce? I couldn't really hear anything from here."

Wally is still silent. I wish I could figure out what he's thinking.

"It must've been pretty bad," I murmur, not liking my friend's severe lack of chatter.

"Well, he was far from happy, I know that much. But then again, it was hard to tell because he's never really happy about anything, not even Christmas, especially when we pulled those pranks on him three years ago…"

Finally, I get a word from the guy.

"I'd kind of like details, here," I prompt. Although I try to keep the irritation out of my tone, I know I've failed miserably. I've been hiding my true feelings long enough and realize it's impossible to do it any longer.

"Actually, nothing much happened," Wally answers, perfectly serious for once. "He came in, we all said 'hi', and then we had to explain everything to him before he came upstairs and saw… Well, when we were done, he just kinda looked up the stairs for a minute. Like he was staring at something we couldn't see. Then he just… left."

"That was it?"

"Yeah…"

Someone opens the door to my room. I don't know Wally's reaction, but I can feel my whole body tense with uneasiness. There is something very familiar about our visitor—just the way he entered the room is enough of a clue to tell me who it is.

Bruce.

"Um… hello?" I hear Wally say.

Yup, it's definitely Bruce. He is just about the only person on the face of the earth who can scare Wally. Except for maybe Barry after he knows Wally's done something bad.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to be alone with my ward for a moment."

Wally pushes his chair back from the desk, gets up, and shuts the door almost silently behind him. Now I'm completely alone with angry Bruce. Not a promising position to be in, especially when you're the one who's made him angry. Believe me, I know.

I slowly get off the desk that I've been sitting on for the past few hours, telling Wally my story. Crossing my arms over my chest, I say, "Wally tells me that they informed you downstairs of everything you need to know."

"Yes," Bruce answers in his usually-reserved-for-Batman tone. "But I would have preferred hearing it from you. About six weeks ago."

"How could I?" I retort, becoming irate. "Everybody was so excited for you and how you were going to get your sight back… so was I. But they all thought everything was going to be perfect, like before—Batman and Robin, back in action and all that. I couldn't tell them!"

"So you went through the toughest time of your life alone just to delay telling everyone the news that you'd eventually have to break anyway."

Boy do I hate it when Bruce phrases things like that. It makes me sound like an idiot. But isn't that just what I had been doing?

"I handled it, didn't I?" I say darkly.

"Yes, you handled it alright." From the tone of his voice, I can tell he's slowly getting more and more furious. "But I'm sure everyone would have appreciated it if you had let them help you instead of just surprising them with it all of a sudden. It wouldn't have been easy no matter what you did, but at least you could have had someone to help you out a little!"

Pause. I refuse to get involved in yet another argument. Besides, I have nothing to say. What's done is done—I wouldn't go back and change it, even if I could.

"How?" Bruce asks in a calmer voice. Well, that's good…

"How what?"

"How did you manage to hide it for so long? It couldn't have been an easy thing to do, especially when Alfred was around."

At least he can appreciate that.

"It wasn't," I confirm. "So many times, I just wanted to throw the towel in. So many times, I was ready to just forget it, to give up. So many times…"

Another pause.

"So why didn't you?"

"I tried! I must have tried a million times! But when I'd see them so excited about you regaining your sight, I… well, I just couldn't tell them that I was losing mine. Call me whatever you want to, Bruce, but I couldn't do it."

Yet another pause. Usually, Bruce answers so quickly (and so bluntly). So why is he taking so long now? It's not like this is any different—well, maybe it is a little different. This time, I can't see the look in his eyes, and therefore can't tell what he's thinking.

I hear footsteps getting closer, and then the quiet rustling of papers.

"Dick, I want you to promise that you will do whatever I ask you to, no matter how crazy it sounds. Alright?"

I don't really like the sound of that. But hey, what the heck? I doubt Bruce is going to ask me to stab myself or anything. I trust him enough to promise.

"What do you want me to do?" I ask.

"Promise first."

"Okay, I promise," I agree with a slight shrug. "Now what is it?"

A strong yet gentle hand takes me by the wrist and places several papers in it. Without thinking, I instinctively grab the papers to keep them from falling to the floor.

"What do I do now?"

"Tell me everything you can about these papers."

"I hardly think this is the time for an investigation, Bruce," I say, exasperated. Can't he get his mind off crime-fighting for a second?

Of course not. That's what makes him Bruce.

"You promised," he answers.

Still miffed, I proceed to do as he says. The past six years of training as Robin certainly helps.

I feel the papers carefully to see what I can figure out.

"Well…" I begin slowly. "This is thicker than ordinary paper—it almost feels like the kind big businesses use, or the government."

"Good. Go on."

I feel like I'm down in the Batcave, analyzing a clue for our latest case. Oftentimes, Bruce would figure something out and then have me re-figure it to give me experience. Too bad we won't be doing that ever again… or are we?

"I think there's some sort of seal at the bottom right-hand corner on the last page here," I continue. "Like the kind they put on contracts and stuff. Is this some sort of legal document, Bruce?"

"Yes. Very good."

Once again, my emotions refuse to stay hidden, and I can't resist a little smile at the praise. Then I ask exactly what they are.

More papers rustling. I feel the papers being removed from my grasp, despite my attempts to keep hold of them and find out what they are and why Bruce is making me go through this process outside the Batcave.

The papers are replaced. Wait… these aren't the same documents… these are in Braille!

"Go ahead," Bruce urges. "Read them."

First I reach out a hand. I need to find the desk again—it'll be a lot easier to read if I can put the papers on a solid surface.

Ha, got it. I place the papers down and begin to run my fingers over the many rows of Braille. To the average person, it would just look like a bunch of confusing bumps. That's what it seemed like to me at first, but—

What the—

This is—

This is impossible!

"I-I don't understand," I say shakily, turning my head back towards where I assume Bruce is still standing. Confusion is evident in my tone, and I'm sure my facial expression shows it as well.

"What, didn't they teach you to read well enough, or am I going to have to go over everything with you again?"

Now I'm really messed up. He actually sounds like he's kidding around with me, like he's… almost laughing? Very strange!

"Th-That's not what I meant. I know what it says but… but these are adoption papers. With our names on them."

"I know."

"But—!"

"Dick."

I stop. There's something in his voice that I've never heard before. I can't quite identify what it is, but it makes him sound so much less formidable than a few seconds ago. I don't dare interrupt him now.

"These past few months, what with everything that's happened… it really got me thinking about our relationship. You've been living here for six years already. Seems like forever sometimes… you were always there when I needed you, and you've always done everything I've asked of you—of both you and Robin. You're a good kid, Dick, and I…" Pause. "…and I love you."

Six years. I've been waiting to hear those words for six long years, and now that I've finally heard them, I don't know what to say in return.

Suddenly feeling tears form, I lower my unseeing gaze to the floor, only to have Bruce cup my chin in his hand and bring my head upwards again.

"What do you say?" he asks softly.

"What do I say?" I manage to choke out. Feeling the tears beginning to escape down my cheeks, I know I'd better hurry up and say yes before I get so choked up that I can't even talk anymore. So I say with a little laugh, "What do you think I say! It's about time, you old goat!"

He chuckles quietly and replies, "Watch it, chum—you're talking to your father."

"I know," I whisper.

Two strong arms pull me in for a warm hug.

And I hug back.

We just stay like that for a minute, enjoying each other's company. I don't even bother trying to stop crying anymore. I have a family again—a family!

I can feel him giving me an extra little squeeze just before pushing away again. He takes his thumbs and wipes the tearstains away from my face. Then, quite suddenly, he pulls back and says briskly, somewhat embarrassed, "Well, I'm certainly glad that's taken care of…"

I grin a little to myself. Whether I call him Bruce or Batman or even Dad, he'll always be the same. And that's just fine with me.

"Care to find out what Alfred has to say about this?" he says.

"I'd rather find out what Wally says," I reply with a smile.

"I'd rather not."

I manage to laugh through the tears as he says this. Now Bruce—no, Dad—puts an arm around my shoulders and gently leads me downstairs to the kitchen.

And we all live happily ever after.

The End


Me: Did I actually write that? I am so sorry... I don't know what got into me... all I know is that I LOVE adoption fics and that I didn't thinkthere were enough. So I decided to write one myself.

Dick (stunned): You... you blinded me?

Me: Uh, yeah... hehe... I hope that's okay with you...

Dick (even more stunned): And then you... you had me adopted?

Me (a wee bit nervous): Um, yeah. And I'm not really 100-percent sure if Wally's uncle is named Barry. I'm PRETTY sure... but now I can't remember his last name. The name 'Gibb' keeps coming to mind, but I know THAT'S not right... Allen! Barry Allen, that's it... I think...

(is suddenly tackled to the ground by Dick)

Dick: Yippee! Thank you thank you thank you!

Me (mightily confused): Uh... so I guess being adopted overrules being blinded, huh? Hehe... (mutters) Looks like I'll be 'Stayin' Alive' a little longer... I know, bad pun... (louder) Well, nice way to end the fic, huh?

Reviewer Replies

Robin Knight-Sorry about the chapter not showing up right away. She really did update, but the site wouldn't show it. Even TAP couldn't see it. But it's visible now! Enjoy!

kokomocalifornia-Thank you! 8) I hope this chapter satisfied your need for 'more'.

Selene-Well, they knew Bruce was coming home; that's why they were there. I was the only one who knew I was sick, though. And you're right about the party pooper thing, but I guess that just served the plot better (if there is a plot). She's glad to hear you liked it though!

perfectdisaster-It was a little vague, huh? I only knew it because I peeked before she posted it (cheating, cheating...). Maybe this will take away the rest of the horrible suspense now. ;-)

60's-bat-fan-Here's the update! Right on time! I hope it was worth the wait.