A/N: Sorry this chapter took so long. Happy Thanksgiving!
"So what do you think, Old Friend?" Leslie asked as Alfred escorted her up to Diana's room.
"I believe Master Bruce has grown accustomed to her face."
Leslie smiled at the 'My Fair Lady' reference. "I think it's time to see how 'accustomed'. I'm going to let them knew she's well enough to leave the Manor and finish her recovery on Paradise Island."
"Not the Embassy?"
"No. It would be too easy for either Bruce or Batman to get in to see her there. I'll say that if she's at the Embassy there's too much chance she'll end up doing things again before she's ready. He's gotten used to having her as a part of his daily life. I want him to have to face the idea of losing that. I want Bruce thinking she'll be beyond his reach for a while."
"And Paradise Island is perhaps the only place on this world truly beyond the reach of Batman or Bruce Wayne."
"Exactly. My guess is he'll come up with at least half a dozen reasons for her not to leave."
"Why does she need to go anywhere else to finish her recovery?" Bruce asked moments later, his tone taking on an edge that was much more typical for Batman than Bruce Wayne.
"Why do I need more time to recover at all? I feel fine." Diana said.
"Yes, dear. But I don't want to risk a relapse of symptoms."
Bruce's eyes narrowed. "Last night I ran her blood tests myself, Leslie. There's no trace of the poison left in her at all, which means no chance of her having a relapse unless she's poisoned again. What are you up to?"
Anyone but Bruce might have missed the guilt that flashed through Leslie's eyes.
Things fell together in Bruce's mind. Dick taking the patrols so he could stay at the Manor with Diana. Leslie refusing to say how long Diana would need to stay at the Manor and recover. Alfred subtly encouraging him to spend time with her. He turned and looked at Diana. "I believe these two, and my son, have been playing matchmaker for us."
"Speaking of Master Richard I believe I hear him arriving now," Alfred said, leading Leslie from the room.
Bruce and Diana remained silent for several seconds and the sound of Dick's motorcycle could be heard through the open window.
Since the silences between then had always been comfortable, the awkwardness of this silence seemed even worse.
"I suppose this means you're free to return to the Embassy or Paradise Island any time you like. Of course, you're welcome to stay here as long as you like," Bruce offered gallantly, in full Bruce-Wayne-Billionaire-Playboy mode.
Before she could respond he walked out the door.
Having been warned by Alfred that Bruce had discovered what they'd been up to Dick joined him in the Cave.
"When I was younger, there where times you wanted to send me away, weren't there?"
Unable to hide his sock, Bruce looked up from the computer, and met blue eyes the same shade as his own. "NO! I've never wanted to lose you. Not since the night I brought you home." Could Dick really believe he'd wanted him to leave?
"Okay. Wrong word," Dick admitted. "You didn't want to send me away, but you thought about it. You considered it. Thought it might be best for me. Safest for me." While they'd certainly had their disagreements, and even fights, Dick didn't doubt that Bruce always wanted what he thought was best for his son. They just disagreed on what was best for him.
"Yes," Bruce admitted.
"But you didn't send me away. Why?"
"You're my son," Bruce answered. It was as close to saying 'I love you' as he could get, and he hoped Dick understood.
He did. "I love you too, Dad. You wanted to protect me. Keep me safe. Somewhere along the line you figured you could do a better job of keeping me safe by keeping me close; by protecting me and teaching me how to protect myself than by sending me away."
"And you were right. When I went after Zucco you were there to save me. I think that was the first time you saved my life, and you've saved it many times since then. Being around you wasn't a death sentence. It kept me alive."
"And how many of those times I saved you was I the one who'd put your life in danger?" He'd never told Dick of the fights he'd had with Alfred, Leslie and Clark over his letting Dick join him in on his Crusade while the boy had been so young.
Despite never having been told about the fights, Dick knew about them. Some of the them had been loud enough Dick had heard them, without even having to try very hard or sneak too close. "I'd have gone after Zucco no matter what. We both know it, even if the others don't. Despite what you, and the others, might think, this life was my choice. All I'm saying is that by keeping me close, instead of pushing me away, you made sure you could protect me - - even when I didn't want you to. You might want to consider the same approach with Diana."
"How'd you get to be so smart,." Bruce asked, flashing one of his rare smiles. The ones Dick had always been able to get out of him.
"Ask my Dad," Dick said with an impudent grin, before heading off to change into his Robin outfit.
Bruce stayed in front of the computer, thinking. Despite his fears, being near him hadn't been a death sentence for Dick. Or for Alfred or Leslie. He wasn't that helpless 8 year old who'd watched his parents die and not been able to do anything to stop it. And Diana, like Dick, was more than capable of taking care of herself. The only real question left was whether or not she'd want to stay. He was under no illusion that he was an easy man to live with. But Diana, more than any other woman he'd ever cared about, would be able to understand, and even share, his Crusade and double life.
Alittlesummerwine: Glad you're enjoying the pairing. We'll get Wonder Woman's reaction to the matchmaking next chapter. . . .
AnotherChance: I've actually read that story and liked it! Mine WOULDN'T involve Lois or Lex. . . Just Trecebo sending Plot Bunnies at me. I swear Trec does it just so I have to write more stories. . . Grins over at Trecebo Very happy to hear you think I've captured Bruce. And I'm not saying I hate this story, just it's not my best. But that's okay. Every story can't be our best. . . .
Trecebo: Down you vicious plot bunnies! Down I say! BG No worries about overdose on fuzz. Bats would glare at me if I even thought about it. . . He doesn't do warm and fuzzy. . . ;-) He's let me push the line a little in 'Unexpected Love', but only 'cause he isn't actually Batman yet in that story. . . ;-)