AN: I've never written Batman fanfic before or really any comic book genre, so bear with me. I tried to research the characters before I starts but between the old comics and the new comics and the movies and the TV shows both animated and real people – well, it was a mess. So I borrowed from a lot and ignored what I couldn't use. Please don't judge on canon, because the story morphs each time someone invents a new medium for it.
I'm experimenting with POV as well. For those of you who read my Uncle Bobby story, you will recall how much fun I had with his voice. For this story, I wrote in Dick Grayson's voice, and again I had fun. I tried to make a clear distinction between Dick's dialogue and Bruce's, so tell me what you think and if it works.
I wanted this to be a short story, but I enjoyed it so much it might turn into a series. For those of you who keep up with my other stuff, I promise I will write more on older stories, especially the Supernatural one. But tell me if you would like this to turn into a longer series or if you're happy with it as it is.
Warning: does contain spanking of a young teenager. (You were expecting that, yes?)
Disclaimer: I do not own this or make a single penny.
I'm not the smartest guy at my school. Heck, I'm not the smartest guy in my class. In fact, I'm say there are some ten year-olds that are a lot smarter than me. I'm not that smart, but I know better than anyone when Bruce is ticked off. I might say pissed off, but since it's my temper that got me into trouble in the first place, I'll just say ticked. Really ticked off. So ticked off that his usual calm look has become a frown, which became a scowl, which became a glare, which morphed into the most angry, frightening face I have ever seen. And believe me, I have seen some scary faces. You don't know fear until you've lived in Gotham City, and you don't know true terror until you've lived with Bruce Wayne.
I've lived with him for five years now, ever since my parents died, and I know he would never make me leave, but sometimes I get worried he'll get fed up with me and send me back to the foster care people for a while. This was one of those times.
I'm not really sure how it happened. One minute I was waiting in his study with my homework. I admit I've slacked off a little in the whole school area, but it's hard to care about studies when the greatest crime fighter in the world is training you to be his sidekick. No, more than a sidekick, he makes it sound like I'll be his partner. He's already let me ride with him in the Batmobile (which is so awesome I can barely stand it!), and he's talking about getting me an outfit so I can fight along side him without giving away my identity as Dick Grayson. So I blame all that for my poor grades. How can I be expected to pay attention in history when I know that night I will be prowling the streets of Gotham in that sleek, black car?
Of course, I don't dare bring that up or he'll consider stopping my training. I can just picture his face as he says, "Richard –" (I hate it when he calls me Richard in that slow, disapproving way) –"your studies come first. Always . . . no excuses." I always want to argue that crime-fighting should come first. Who cares about stupid English and spelling when you could be hunting down criminals and saving people? But if I point that out, he's all "You're only thirteen," and the whole I'm-your-guardian-and-I-know-best lecture starts. So, I stay quiet.
Anyway – where was I? Yeah, I'm in his study with my homework, waiting for him to come help me. And by "help me," I mean he sits behind his desk and I sit in front of it working, and ever few minutes he glances over to see my progress. And correct the mistakes. And tell me to think the problems through. And frown when I start fidgeting as the time to go on street patrol draws closer. Usually after these little study sessions, he tells me I'm making progress. But my grades seem to stay the same.
He had taken off work early today, leaving around two so he could get some work done at home, or so he had told the people he works with, I guess. What he really wanted to do was pick me up from school himself and lecture me on the way home about my grades because this was my last year of junior high, and he wanted to get me in a good preparatory school so I would be ready for college. I wanted to go Gotham High with my friends, but he wasn't really interested in my opinion. And then he asked about my last English test, and I told him what I got, and he got real quiet and drove without saying anything. And once we got home, he marched me into his study and sat me down and told me to get to work and said he would be in shortly to help me.
So, I was waiting there, putting off opening my books until I heard his footsteps in the hall and then I would throw the books open and pretend to be studying very hard. I was sitting there and then I notice he has this little box on his desk, all painted red and gold with an intricate lock on the front. I know I'm old enough to know not to touch other people's things. I know he's really respectful of my stuff, always knocking on my bedroom door before he comes in and never touching my schoolbooks without me there even though he owns the house and bought me the books. But this little box was begging "Touch me! Play with me! Try to open me!"
I picked it up and tried to open it. There were little knobs and latches and a number dial, and I couldn't get it open. I must have worked on it for ten minutes straight (which Bruce said was a miracle that I could pay attention to something for that long. A week ago, I heard him tell Alfred he wanted to have me tested for ADD, which is ridiculous because I can pay attention when I want to.) So – where was I? Oh, yeah, the stupid little box.
I could not get it open. I tried everything, turning the knobs, and twisting the dials – nothing! I got more and more frustrating, and then I jerked back in my seat, and my right knee hit the side of Bruce's desk. I don't think I'm whiny or a baby or anything, but I swear my knees are so sensitive. My dad used to tickle me when I was little, and it was all fun and games until he squeezed my knees and I would go crazy, howling with laughter. When I was seven, I tried to do two flips in the air, and I ended up falling down straight on my kneecaps. I terrified the whole circus troupe with my insane screams.
So when I hit the desk, I didn't even think. I just threw the box at the wall with a yell of angry frustration and pain.
I remember seeing the box hurl through the wall, and I remember having enough time to think "Hey! Bruce probably won't like me throwing his stuff at walls," when the wall exploded.
One minute, a little red and gold box was whirling through the air, and the next minute the wall blew itself up. I felt the heat and tumbled out of my chair to the floor, to curl up and cover my head like Bruce had taught me when I see or hear an explosion. Pieces of the wall rained down around me as smoke, dust, ask, and plaster filled the air. Through the haze I thought I could see into the room on the other side of the study, a sitting room that we never use. As the debris kept floating down, I stood up and marveled at the hole in the wall – at least seven feet high and eight feet wide, big enough to drive the Batmobile through.
The door to the study banged open, and Bruce came running through, looking frantic and panicky, very different the Bruce I know.
"What happened?" he demanded. "The wall – Dick, are you all right? What happened? Dick?"
He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away from the mess before I could speak. He ran his hands over my arms, pushing my head back and forth to examine my neck, and then spun me around to examine my back to make sure I wasn't sporting gapping wounds or burn marks. As he searched, I saw Alfred hurry in, also very concerned. He looked horrified at the sight of Bruce's study, but before Alfred could say anything, Bruce spun me around again and demanded,
"I didn't mean to," I stammered, my heart still pounding madly. Now that everything was settling down in piles of filthy ashes, I realized how scared I had been. "It just . . . I didn't know –"
"Richard Grayson," Bruce's voice went down to his Batman growl, the voice that usually terrifies criminals, and I wasn't feeling too safe at the moment either, "what happened?"
"I was looking at the box," I confessed, wishing I could shake his hands off my shoulders. I never minded when Bruce touched me – in fact, I liked it when he put his hand on my arm or ran a hand over my messy hair. But this was his you-look-at-me-when-I-talk-to-you grip, and I kept stammering, "I hit my knee, and I dropped the box."
"You dropped it?" Bruce questioned sternly.
"Okay, I threw it," I admitted. "I thought it would just bounce off the wall and land on the carpet, but then the wall exploded."
Bruce looked torn between tearing my head off and hugging me. I could see the debate play on his face as he tightened his fingers on my shoulder and drew me a little closer.
"You threw a box that you did not know what was inside? You threw a box that your found on my desk in my study and you threw it at my wall because you couldn't control your temper?"
"My knee really hurt," I protested, knowing how whiny I sounded.
"Then you should have put the box down and gone to get some ice," Bruce's tone was like ice itself.
I looked back at the broken wall. I could see the room from the other side, the picture that had hung on the other side of the wall now laying in broken pieces on the floor.
"What was in the box?" I whispered.
"Some kind of bomb, I guess," Bruce glanced to Alfred.
Alfred looked very worried as he confessed, "I found the box in the backseat of the Batmobile. It had a handwritten note addressed To Batman, With all my love, Yours Truly. I guessed that it was some female admirer of Batman, especially with the drawn hearts on the edge of the card. I put it in here, thinking you would want to have a look at it, sir."
"Obviously, I was meant to open it and have a rather nasty surprise," Bruce said quietly
A horrified thrill ran through me as I thought of Bruce finding a way to open the little box, pulling up the lid slowly and then –
I felt tears prick the corners of my eyes, and I didn't want Bruce to see me cry. "I'm sorry," I said in a rush. "I didn't know."
"I apologize as well, sir," Alfred hurried to add. "Most careless of me, especially with a child in the house."
Any other time, I would have bristled at being called a child when I was thirteen, only five months from fourteen in fact! But then I could only think about how scared I was and how I could have been hurt and how Bruce could have been killed.
I tried to pull away from Bruce. Maybe to run up to my room, maybe to run right out the front door and off the property. But Bruce wouldn't let go of me.
"Calm down, Dick," he said, still calm and collected. "I would never try to open a box like that, not with the long list of enemies I have. I would have taken it to the cave and probably x-rayed it first to see what was inside. I wouldn't have been in any danger. But you –"
He looked down at me, and my insides flip-flopped. I had seen that look before, knew what I meant. He had given it to me only three times in the last four years: once when I tried to run away after living at the Manor for two months and he searched all night to find me, once when I refused to apologize after I called him a mean name in a fit of anger, and once when I received my half-year grades for the sixth grade and there were two Ds and an F on the sheet. All those times had him giving me the look, and each time ended the same way, him all stern and lecturing and me with my eyes full of tears and my rear aching. I had a very bad feeling this was going to be one of those times.
"Bruce, I'm sorry," I said in a rush. "I was bored with waiting for you, and I just grabbed the box without thinking. And then I got mad and threw it again without thinking about it. I never meant to throw it, and I would never have thrown it if I knew it was a bomb – I wouldn't have touched it ever!"
"I know, Dick," Bruce said in a quiet, sad voice. "But the fact remains you did throw it. If we were different, if we were just a millionaire and his ward, I would be upset that you were touching and throwing my things, but I would just have you do some extra chores to make up for replacing the items. But we aren't just a millionaire and his ward. You know who I am, and you know who I want you to be in the future. I can't just let this go."
I pressed my lips together, trying to stop them from trembling. I can take anything except Bruce being disappointed in me. Bruce yelling, Bruce upset, Bruce ready to take my head off – fine. But Bruce all solemn and quietly disappointed, as if I had broken his trust in me – well, it just tore me to shreds. I felt my eyes fill with tears, and I sniffed without meaning to. His study was a mess, his desk chair had been broken into three jagged pieces, and his papers on the desk were dirty and covered with ash, including my homework. Everything was a wreck, and I was about to be, too, and I wished Alfred and Bruce would look away so they wouldn't see me crying.
"Dick," Bruce's gentle voice nearly ripped right through me – I couldn't stand for him to be nice to me after I had been such a pain, "Dick, why don't you go upstairs and take a shower? Then get dressed for supper, but wait for me in your room. I'll be up in a little while."
I nodded, seeing his head blur through a haze of tears, and stumbled for the door. I made it into the hallway, and almost up three steps of the huge marble staircase, when I felt so dizzy I had to grab for the banister. It felt like all the blood drained from my head, and I wanted to be sick, and my hands were shaking, and I was unbelievably hot and cold, and my legs wouldn't work as I stood there trembling.
"Ah, now, Master Grayson," I heard Alfred's voice at my side. He usually called me Master Richard or Master Dick when Bruce was away and he was watching out for me until Bruce came home. But in times of worry or concern, he reverted back to the name he gave me when I first moved in. "It's quite all right, young sir. Just a bit frightened from the accident, but we all were. Sometimes I forget how dangerous Master Bruce's life can be, and how careful we must all act."
As he spoke in that soothing tone, he reached under my left arm and put both his hands on my torso to steady me. He began walking me up the stairs, still talking to me in that soft voice. Any other time, I would have jerked away in anger, mad that he was treating me like a little kid. But I was so happy to have him supporting me all the way up those long stairs and then down the hallway to my room. Once we reached my bathroom, he sat me down on the closed toilet lid, and I sat dumbly as I watched him fill up my tub with hot water. I've never taken a bath in it, always taking a shower instead, but a hot bath seemed better than anything at the moment, and I gazed at the rising water, ready to lay back in it and try to calm down.
Alfred helped me get my shirt and shoes off. Bruce likes me to wear ironed, button-down shirts instead of cotton tee shirts, so I compromise, wearing the nice shirts on the weekdays and my comfortable tee shirts on the weekends. This was Tuesday afternoon, so I had on the buttoned shirt, and I was glad for Alfred's help or I might have never gotten the stupid thing off.
He turned away, and I managed to get my pants and boxers off without help. I slid into the tub, sighing as the hot water closed over my body all the way up my neck. I lay there for a few minutes, pushing back tears and trying to relax. Alfred moved about the room, pretending to clean up though I knew he was really staying to make sure I didn't drown in the water. But he respected my privacy, staying far enough back to let me calm down and then start to wash.
Except for the soot and ash, I wasn't that dirty. I'm never really dirty, what with living the great life at the manor, and the only time I really need to shower is after a long night out with Batman, but I washed anyway. No reason to make Bruce any more upset.
Once I was finished washing, Alfred handed me a towel. I wrapped it around me, almost like a huge cape, and headed to my room. I dressed in a nice shirt and nice pants, even tucking my shirt in and wearing the shiny leather shoes Bruce brought me from Europe. I even parted my wet hair and combed it straight, looking completely stupid and dorky, but he likes me looking that way, like I really belong in the Manor.
All dressed up, I sat down on my big bed and waited. When Bruce tells me to wait in my room, he means to sit still on my bed and think about what I did wrong that he's about to yell at me for. He doesn't mean goof around or read a book or play with my Gameboy – he means sit and wait.
So there I sat, waiting.
Time moves really slow when I'm in class, crawls by when I'm in English and ready to go to lunch. But I swear, when I'm in my room waiting for Bruce, it stops altogether. The long hand does not move on the clock by my bed and I want to check it to see if it's broken, but I don't dare get off the bed.
And I've waited for things. I've waited with Batman in the Batmobile for criminals. I've waited at the parties Bruce has, shaking hands and listening to boring people until Bruce says I can leave. Last Christmas, I laid in bed and waited for the sun to come up before I could wake Bruce to open presents even though I knew he was getting me a Playstation3 though he said it was a waste of money and time and I would go blind watching it. And he made me wait until after breakfast to play it though I wanted to start right there in the middle of all the wrapping paper.
So I know about waiting. But this was hardly good waiting.
I heard footsteps in the hall. I held my breath, wondering if it was Alfred, and I hoped it was and I hoped it wasn't because that would mean I would have to wait longer.
A tap sounded on the door. It was Bruce.
I wanted to holler "Go away!" But instead, I said softly, "Come in."
Bruce came in and shut the door behind him very quietly. I squirmed a little on the bed.
"Bruce –" I began.
"No, Dick," he shook his head, "no excuses. I hope that this time has given you time to think about what you did."
"I'm sorry about the study," I confessed in a rush.
"This isn't about the study," Bruce replied gravely. "What is this about?"
Oh, the questions! I hate the questions, especially the ones where I have to think about what I did to displease him. I could brace myself for yelling, but thinking . . . I'm not so good at that.
"Touching your stuff?" I hazarded another guess. That was a big deal, especially five years ago when I ended up breaking everything of his I touched include his watches, computers, and expensive vases.
"Yes, but what else?"
"Not starting my homework?"
He sighed, so I knew I wasn't any good at coming up with the right answer any more than I was at staying out of trouble. "More than that, Dick. It's your whole attitude. You don't listen to me, you disobey me, and you keep acting out just to get attention."
"I do not!" I declared hotly.
"I know I didn't set down that many rules when you came to live here," Bruce continued as if I had not interrupted. "I didn't have to – apart from that one time you ran away, you were a good child, doing whatever I told you and listening to Alfred. But now," he shook his head, "you've changed."
"Yeah," I crossed my arms. "I'm not eight anymore. I'm thirteen. I'm a teenager. I shouldn't have to do everything you say – I can take care of myself."
"No, you can't," Bruce replied. "You could have been killed in there, just because you were bored and decided to play around instead of doing your homework."
"That's not fair," I countered. "Most people who play around don't end up blowing up walls because they don't do their homework, but I get blamed for it!" That probably made no sense, but I admit I don't make a lot of sense when I get upset, especially upset at Bruce. He's so calm and rational that it makes me feel confused and I blurt out about anything. "You blame me for everything. Anything goes wrong – 'Where's Dick?' Because I'm the only kid, everyone yells at me. You're just mean and unfair, and I hate it!"
"Richard," Bruce's eyes held a warning.
"Well, I do," I said, but in a much lower tone. I felt the tears stinging my eyes again, and I wanted to stomp my foot and keep yelling.
"You do not raise your voice to me," Bruce said in the same stern voice. "You do not throw things. You do not ignore what I tell you. You DO NOT disobey me. Ever."
Bruce sat down on the bed (my bed!) and motioned for me to come to him.
I knew what was about to happen. I knew from the moment he sent me upstairs, but I hated for it to happen, and I almost hated him for doing it, and I hated myself for almost hating him.
"Bru-u-uce!" I protested, making his name three syllables long.
"Come here," he held out an insistent hand.
I took two steps towards him. "I'm too old," I whined. "No one gets . . . you know. Not at thirteen! No body!"
"Grounding or lost privileges hardly seems appropriate for all you've done," Bruce decided.
I saw the resolve in his eyes, the same resolve that makes him chase down criminals through the darkest night, that makes him such a good warrior, that makes my stomach churn when he looks like that at me. I tried one last desperate attempt.
"I'll run away. And I won't come back ever!"
A look of surprised fear came over his face. Quicker than I could see, he lunged forward and caught my wrist. He yanked me forward, over his knees, and held me tight against his side. "You just earned yourself a longer punishment," he growled. "I was going to spank you for a short while and then ground you for two weeks, but I'll double that spanking and take away your Playstation as long as you're grounded."
"Aw," I complained, but not too loudly. I hated laying over his lap, his hard knees holding up my torso while my legs hung loosely down, not long enough to touch the floor. His left arm felt like a vise around my stomach, but I knew wiggling would only make him madder.
"You never threaten me with running away," Bruce brought his hand down on my rear without warning, the sound of the slap cracking through the room. I gasped – I had forgotten how hard he could spank, even over my pants. But he didn't care, and he kept spanking as he lectured me.
"You don't blackmail me, Dick. You don't try to force me into doing or not doing something because of your own selfish reasons. I don't do that to you."
"You're spanking me!" I wailed, twisting as he rained down sharp slaps on my behind.
"Because you disobeyed me," he answered, not missing a beat or rather a smack. "This is a punishment, not blackmail. Do I threaten to send you away if you don't do your homework or get to bed on time?"
"No," I felt the tears gathering up, stronger and more painful than ever.
"What if I did?" Bruce challenged, making his spanks slow and hard to get his point across. "Or even worse, what if I used that to serve my own selfishness? 'You have to like me or I'm kicking you out'? 'Make me look good or I'm sending you back to foster care'? 'Call me Dad or out you go'?"
The last one shocked me. I was just his ward. I never expected him to think about it that way, much less want me to call him that. But the whacks continued, driving everything out of my head but my stinging rear and Bruce's stern voice.
"This attitude ends now. I mean it. You are going to do better in school. You are going to apply yourself, both as a student and as Batman's future partner. You're going to act your age. I'm not having you grow up to be some spoiled brat thanks to a thoughtless millionaire who gave you too much and never expected you to behave. Yes, you have a nice home and expensive toys which I probably shouldn't have given you, but I did, and you are going to shape up, or out they go! You are going to obey me, and don't you ever scare me like that again, or you'll be the sorriest boy in Gotham, and I mean it!"
I was writing on his lap. Man, how could he spank me so long and hard? Didn't his hand hurt? But I didn't dare ask him, or he might start smacking me with something else. "I'm sorry," I blurted out.
"For what?" Bruce demanded.
"For playing around," I replied. I had my hands twisted in the comforter, holding on for dear life. "For not obeying you. For scaring you. For – for – for being such a bother."
And then I pretty much lost it. I burst into tears, just letting them all come pouring out as I screwed my eyes up tight and lifted my face to wail. "I'm sorry!" I cried. "I'm sorry, Br-Bruce! I didn't mean to!"
I felt him pull me up, his hands around my waist. I couldn't see through the tears, but I expected him to make me stand in front of him while he lectured for a while. I just wanted to get away from him, to find somewhere to hide while I fought my embarrassment at bawling like a baby in front of him. I could hardly breathe through the tears and my heavy gasps for air.
He was pulling me somewhere, I couldn't begin to guess where. And then I felt his knee under my stinging bottom. Strong arms wrapped around my shoulders, and I was pulled into a warm, solid chest.
I didn't even think; I pulled my arms free and wrapped them around that firm chest and buried my face into his expensive shirt, still sobbing.
"Shh," Bruce hushed me. "It's okay, calm down. You understand why I had to do that, but it's behind us now."
"I'm sorry," my muffled protest came from the middle of his chest.
"I know you are," I felt him nod. "But you scared me so bad. I know that bomb wasn't your fault, but what if something had happened to you, Dick? What would I do then? The same goes for your attitude. What if I let you keep acting so careless and you start disobeying me all the time, and suddenly you won't do anything I ask? How could I ever trust you then?"
I guess he was trying to comfort me, but these words hurt almost as much as the spanking. I started crying harder. He just tightened his grip around me. We sat like that for a few minutes as I cried out everything I had, everything I felt, everything I was. Then I felt one of his hands rub my back. He used his knuckles, rubbing them over my tight shoulders and down my back to help me calm down and relax. He ran his other hand over my hair, messing up the neat combing I had done earlier.
I took another few minutes, selfishly enjoying his attention (and I thought it was fair that he hold me after spanking me so long and hard!). However, eventually, I sniffed and sat up, rubbing a hand over my wet face.
"Okay," Bruce helped me stand, but still kept a hand on my arm. "You're a good boy, and I know you're going to try harder, aren't you?"
"Yes, sir," I nodded.
"We'll talk about what happened next a little later," Bruce promised. "For now, I want you to go wash your face and hands and get ready for supper. We're having a guest tonight."
I stared at him, horrified. He lectured me and spanked me and held me while I cried, and now he expected me to join him and a guest for supper? I wanted to curl up on my bed for the rest of the night, not try to remember my manners and sit still on the hard dining room chair while making small talk to some guest.
"Bruce," I began, but he held up a warning finger.
"No, Dick, you're joining us for supper. You'll be polite and well-mannered, or I'm dragging you up here for a second dose. All right?"
"Fine," I huffed, frowning but taking care not to pout. Bruce did not like pouting or sulking or mean looks, especially from me. "Who's coming?"
"I don't like her," I sniffed back the last of my tears.
Bruce raised his eyebrows, amazed at my insolence towards the sophisticated businesswoman.
"What? I don't have to like everyone! You don't like everyone – I heard you telling Alfred that sometimes you don't like the way Commissioner Gordon runs the city."
"That's different," Bruce said, a small frown on his own face. "And you know it. Miss Kyle is a very nice woman, and I like seeing her every now and then when Batman finally has a night off. And you better behave for tonight."
"I will," I agreed glumly. I went to turn to go back to the bathroom, but he caught my hand and held me back while he stood. He put both hands on my shoulders and looked down at me, straight in the eye. "I meant what I said, Dick. I couldn't lose you. You know that, right? You understand how much you mean to me, how much you're part of my life and Alfred's?"
I nodded, feeling peace settle down on my heavy emotions. I meant to appear all cool and grown-up, but then I impulsively reached forward and hugged him. I only come up to his shoulders, but I squeezed my arms around his stomach to show him I wasn't mad and that he meant a lot to me too.
He put his hand on the back of my neck, squeezed once, and then I felt him straighten.
"Good boy, now go get ready."
"Fine," I muttered as I walked away towards the bathroom. "I'll go get ready for old Selina. I don't like her, though. She always giving me sideways looks, like she's a cat and I'm some dumb little bird she'd like to eat."
"Dick," Bruce warned, but he sounded more exasperated than really mad.
"I'll behave," I called to him. And I shut the bathroom door just hard enough to let him know that I still didn't like her, but I would behave, if only for him.