'Christmas Without you.
By Marcie Gore
This is an addendum to 'Son is that you?' If you haven't read Son. It's in The Bludhaven Library. This part is set during the Christmas Dick was missing. This is from Bruce's Point of View. / indicates characters private thoughts. Heavy angst warning

It's two weeks till Christmas, and I'm really starting to dread .it. It's never been my favorite holiday, at least since my parents died when I was 8, but this year it's worse. Other years at least I had Dick to keep me company and to give me a dose of Christmas spirit.

Dick has been missing, the authorizes say probably dead since September 14 of this year, when his plane crashed near Metropolis. I've spent every available moment searching for my boy. It seems like everyone else, except his fiancée Melody has given up on him. They keep telling us we have to face reality, that Dick isn't coming home for the holidays, or ever again.

I wish I could forget Christmas this year. Dick was my Christmas spirit. I want to bury myself in my work as Batman, Alfred insists it'd be good for me to have Tim over for Christmas, his father and step mother will be in Switzerland, supposedly on business. Can't he at least, see his son needs him right now?

Melody's record label started pressuring her to continue work on a Christmas CD she had started before the plane crash, only two weeks after his memorial service. She's busied herself by halfhearted going about the business of making videos for it. Next week she'll do her best to appear perky on the morning and late night talk show circuit. I can see in her eyes she's not enjoying any of it.

We're both just going through the motions of a normal life. It's been just barely two months since he disappeared. People outside of the family seem to think it's time we started going on with our lives though. They don't understand that Dick holds the key to my humanity.

If I weren't going to host a party for Gotham's Open-door Children's Homes, there will be 50 children, boys and girls, age 3 to 16, I wouldn't even bother with decorations this year, but the kids will expect there to at least be a Christmas tree. Melody has offered to co-host it. She says it will help her take her mind off the pain she's feeling being with the children. Maybe it will help us both.

Everything this time of year reminds me of Dick, of the Christmases we spent together when he was a kid. I think the first time I really saw him smile after he moved in with us was when he helped decorate the tree. Every year after that we had handmade ornaments that had to go on the tree no matter what other ornaments we put on. I insisted.

Alfred and I finally get through decorating the tree. It's harder than I thought it would be going through the cloth candy canes, and pine cone Christmas trees. It reminds me that Dick most likely won't be home for Christmas this year, or ever again to see it.

I can't give up; there is still hope he's still alive. His body hasn't been found. There is no proof he's dead, no matter what the FFA and police say.

Christmas day is the party for the children. I put on my Bruce Wayne face along with a suit and tie and get ready to greet the children downstairs. I think about how Dick and I both could've ended up in such a home if circumstances had been different. Dick did have to spend time in a juvenile facility before I could gain custody of him. .
Alfred is working on the dinner for this afternoon. Tim volunteered to help. Although it's supposed to be just the three of us, they're cooking more than usual. I invited Jim Gordon but he has other plans.

Melody comes in wearing a green velvet dress and gold Santa necklace with matching earrings and white shoes with Christmas trees on them. Her long black hair is up in a French Twist. She looks so beautiful. Unfortunately the person who'd appreciate her beauty the most isn't here.

After they have refreshments they sing Christmas carols which Melody leads. It's bitter sweet to hear children's voices singing Christmas carols again. Silent Night and White Christmas have always been Dick's favorites.

Then the Santa I hired comes and the kids open presents. Shiny paper, red and green bows fly in every direction. This brings back so many memories too. How am I going to get through this afternoon? They all thank Santa then the housemother, Ms. Grant reminds them to thank me too. They show each other their gifts and let each other play with them.

While they're playing a tall and muscular, for his age red haired boy with freckles, who looks about 12 tries to take a small boy, about 8 or 9's toy Batmobile. The argument gets physical, and I wonder if I should step in. The little dark headed boy seems to be holding his own against the big boy who's at least twice his size. He looks like he's had some Karate. Melody and I are both impressed. I'm just about to intervene when the bigger boy amazingly gives up and gives the boy back his toy.

Just before it's time for them to go, the little boy with black hair and blue eyes comes up to me and says, "Hi my name is Cody, I'm 9. You're so nice to us, Mr. Wayne. Why do you look so sad? You have a big beautiful house. Are we bugging you? Who are the two boys in all those pictures? Are they your kids? Where are they?"
"Yes, I have two sons, I was just thinking about them."

"Why does it make you sad? Did someone take them away from you?" Cody asks.

At this point I almost start to cry. Why did the only child to talk to me for any length of time have to be a 9-year-old boy with black hair and big blue eyes? "Yes, in a way. The younger boy Jason died a couple of years ago. My older son, Dick is missing. He was in a plane crash. They couldn't find him for some reason. I keep hoping he'll come home someday soon. I've been looking for him.
"Oh, by the way Cody I was very impressed with how you handled that bully a few minutes ago,"tell the young man. Cody gives me a huge smile, with the smallest hint of embarrassment.

Ms. Grant tells the children it's time to leave. Before he goes Cody reaches up to give me a huge hug. I lift him up and allow him to squeeze my neck. He says he'll ask Jesus to find Dick for me. I tell him thank you, then say good bye and Merry Christmas to the rest.

I say, "Please wait just a moment, Ms. Grant, I want to talk to you. I understand that funds are low at the home. Christmas dinner will be government surplus turkey and stovetop stuffing, which they don't deliver until afternoon. These kids deserve so much more. My butler Alfred always makes more than we can eat. I'd love for the children to have dinner at the Manor today. There is more than enough room at the table so I insist."

"That's very kind of you Mr. Wayne. I hope we won't be too much trouble for Mr. Pennyworth? Do you have enough room at your table?" Ms. Grant asks. Having just entered the room from the kitchen Tim answers her.

"Yes, Ma'am, we have plenty of room at the dinning room table. Alfred and I planed ahead hoping you and the children would join us. This large house can get so lonely, especially during the holidays. You're really helping us too."

"Thank you, Mr. Wayne. I'll tell the children. Children, we're eating dinner here today, at Mr. Wayne's, invitation.' "YAAAY!' the children scream

At dinner my new friend Cody begs to sit next to me. I smile and pull a seat for him. The table is set with our finest bone china and crystal drinking glasses, over a white lace tablecloth. In the center are a porcelain Santa and his sleigh. It hasn't been out of the box since Dick was 11.

Alfred and Tim bring in the turkeys. The rest of the food is laid out on a long buffet table. They fixed turkey, stuffing, yams, and green beans with potatoes, fruit salad, apple pie, and fudge nut cake for desert. The children have milk to drink but the adults have iced tea, with lemon and sugar, Alfred thinks iced tea is uncivilized but he fixes
It for us.

I promise myself; tomorrow I'm going to check on Cody's legal status. Is he eligible for adoption? I don't even know the boy's last name. I'll ask Ms. Grant before they leave.

The next day I go to the Gotham Open-door Home about Cody. Before I go I call Melody and ask her to come to the Manor to discuss an important matter. I ask how she'd feel about my possibly adopting a boy who looks so much like Dick. "I've arranged to meet with the director of the home Mr. Evans and Ms. Grant this afternoon, I tell her.

"I can see how happy Cody made you in just the short time you were with him I hadn't seen you that happy since Dick and I were that age. He looks so muck like Dick did at that age it is amazing. . I like Cody too. Dick would want you to be happy. When Dick comes home the three of you would make a great family. If you're looking for my blessing to try to adopt Cody, you have it," Melody says with a smile.
/ If life had been kinder the youngest boy in the Wayne/ Grayson family might've been our son, Dick. Could we still have a son or daughter together? Are you gone forever like just about everyone says? Melody wonders to herself./

"His name is Cody Lee McElroy, his birth date is September 12, 1991 His parent's names were Jean Smith McElroy and Jordan Lee McElroy. They died of the Clinch in June of last year. When he first came here he was terribly withdrawn, Mr. Evans tells me. He seemed to improve for a while until the quake struck. It effected all of the children but he seemed to be even more so. He thought he was going to lose what little security he had here."

Ms. Grant says " He was the happiest I've seen him in months at your house yesterday. You're all he's talked about since the children came back. It wasn't just your big house or the food, but he seemed to think you needed a little boy in your life. He wants to be your little boy, and Dick's little brother when he comes home, whatever that means."

" Does Cody have any known relatives? If he does why did they send him here?" I
ask.

Mr. Evans looks down at Cody's file and says "Most of his family died of the clinch. He has an elderly grandmother, an aunt and uncle and some cousins in Metropolis, but none of them are in position to take care of him They signed the consent forms to put him up for adoption. Frankly, it's extremely hard to place an older child and most grow up in state homes like this or a series of foster home."

"Yes, I understand that Mr. Evans. I was orphaned at age 8 myself. I was lucky a family friend was able to step in and raise me in the family home. I had love. Then later two special little boys entered my life that I adopted. Dick is my older son. He disappeared a few months ago in a plane crash," I tell him.

"Yes, I remember hearing about that Mr. Wayne, his name was Richard Grayson. Are all of these questions about Cody because you are interested in taking him in or curiosity? If it's curiosity please don't waste my time. This boy has been through too much for me to give him false hope now,"

"Yes, I am interested in adopting Cody. When he left yesterday evening I couldn't get Cody off of my mind. He reminds me so much of Dick at that age I do know they are two separate boys. I am not trying replace my older son with Cody. As I said I am well aware of the joys and heartaches of raising an older child. I'm willing to take on the responsibility again. If I can't adopt Cody I will do whatever it takes to make sure he finds a good adoptive home."

Mr. Evans hands me the preliminary paper work. I fill it out and hand it back to him. Now all I can do is wait. I hope with all of my heart the four of us can be a family, someday, Cody, Alfred, Dick and me.

Ten months later it looks like my dream is coming true. My boy came home on September 30th. We were able to put the people who kept him from us for so long bars for 40 years, with no chance of parole.

I was able to get legal custody of Cody in October, I introduced Dick to him a week before that. He seems to be comfortable with prospect of having a little brother. Cody will NOT be joining the family business anytime soon. The adoption should be final in time for this Christmas. I think this strange feeling I'm experiencing is happiness. .