Title: Father's Day

Author: DC Luder

Summary: Father's Day is always a special day in the Bat Family. Especially now.

Rating: T

Infringements: All recognizable characters belong to DC Comics, not DC Luder.

Author's Note: Wow. It has been far too long since I've worn my authoring cap. Here is a morsel while I try and catch up and everything else!

^V^

Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other.

Joseph Joubert

^V^

Children are supposed to bury their fathers.

Fathers aren't supposed to bury their children.

Why couldn't it be that no one was supposed to bury anyone else and we would all live happily ever after?

Because, I reluctantly reminded myself, this is reality and not a fairy tale. There was no Land far, far away with a princess trapped in a tower waiting for her true love to rescue her so they could live happily ever after. The good guys didn't always win and the bad guys didn't always get caught. Allies turned their backs on you and foes stepped forward to give you a hand. People changed, not always for the best, and the constants in your life shifted, leaving you off kilter.

And in your darkest hour there was no one to put a hand on your shoulder and tell you everything was going to be all right…

"Master Dick?"

But there were exceptions to the rules.

"Sir… he's coming to…"

Some people never changed, despite all that they endured over the years. Somehow, they remained just as they were the day you met them.

"Master Dick, can you hear me?"

Alfred, he was certainly one…

"Alfred, hand me that penlight."

Leslie as well. Always offering themselves for the benefit of others, never giving up hope on any one no matter what. They would have made some kid the best grandparents had they ever indulged in their own well being as opposed to every one else's.

"Ms. Barbara… No… he's starting to regain consciousness… please alert him at once to return to the Clinic."

Babs may have changed physically but on the inside she was just as vivacious and unyielding as before the Joker had gunned her down. Back when I had been making juvenile attempts to look at her backside when her cape flapped in the breeze.

"Very good, Ms. Barbara… we will be waiting."

We loved each other but it would never work, no matter how much I wanted it to and how much I didn't want to admit it. No matter what, we were best friends, something that was a rare commodity in my lifestyle.

"Vitals are on the rise, let's push Lorazepam… try and bring him up slow."

"Consider it- Master Timothy, I'll have to ask you to wait outside."

"How is? Is he awake? Why is that beeping?"

My parents had joked when I was little that they were afraid to have another child in case it turned out to be as energetic and mischievous as I had been. If they only knew that I was meant to be a big brother…

"Dick? It's Tim, I'm here, man…"

"Sir, I must insist…"

My knuckles were designed to give ultimate noogies and I was a natural at instigating arguments that would only end after a good-natured brawl. Banter rolled off my tongue just as quickly as I was able to laugh whenever his awkward teenager surfaced.

"Okay… I just… hang on, Dick."

Hang on.

Dad used to say that when I first went up on the trapeze. I always said something that I didn't need to because I could fly…

Seemed so long ago… only because it was. Somehow, that horrible night was nearly fifteen years ago, still so fresh in my mind. The lights, the cheers, the sweet sticky smell from the vendors. The way my mother had fussed with my hair before leaving our dressing room and how my father had only mused it up before we had climbed up the ladder.

"John…"

"Mary, it's only going to get messed up when he's soaring through the air…"

"Spotlight hits your son and you want him to look like he just rolled out of bed…"

God, I missed them.

It was always hard for me to wonder what life I would have had if they hadn't died. Fulfilling, exciting and full of love, but I would have never had the chance to meet let alone belong to the Family I was in.

Grandparents. A number one girl. Little brother…. I didn't have a mother figure but…

"How is he?"

"Vitals are stable, blood pressure is nearly back to normal after the second transfusion… He was starting to wake up, but given how it was aggravating his vitals, I decided to sedate him.

From day one, I had vowed that no one would replace my father, especially not some strange rich guy who had offered to take me in as his ward. For years Bruce had been my mentor, my teacher and my leader but never had I seen him as a father.

"And the bullet?"

"Came out clean along with a few fragments that shot up into his spleen."

I was never able to pinpoint when our relationship had evolved into that of a father and son, but then again, evolution was a gradual process yielding a result over time. Flying squirrels didn't just grow flaps and leap from up high, it took generations to undergo that change.

"How long since he started moving?"

"Not ten minutes, sir."

Regrettably, by the time I had realized he was like a father to me, I had been a teenager and was ready to treat him like one. Acting out, disobeying his rules and arguing near constantly.

"Sir, might one inquire as to-."

"Two-Face is on his way to Arkham."

"A relief to us all… Master Timothy…"

"Sorry, Alfred… hard to hide in this room."

"No need to hide, young sir…"

When I had left the second place I had ever called home, I had convinced myself it was to be my own man and live my own life. It worked for a while, but whenever I found doubt coming over me I was quick to realize I was running away… from nothing.

"Dick… Can you hear me?"

All sons went through the stage of wanting to rebel but it was only naturally to come back to what was familiar.

"Dick?"

To their Family. After so many years, I was closer than ever to Bruce. We still fought and disagreed and became angry with one another but we always reconciled. More often than not, it was after one of his awkward apologies or possibly worse, my acceptance of them.

"Dick?"

My eyes fluttered open and Bruce was quick to pull the cowl back, revealing anxious but exhausted blue eyes.

I smirked and coughed hoarsely.

Although Alfred and Leslie would only tell me to relax and not talk, I had to say something, or at least try.

Bruce shook his head, concern making his face seem unfamiliar, "Don't say anything…"

"Sorry…" I managed, "Wanted… surprise you."

"Congratulations. I was surprised. As was Two-Face and his twelve henchmen."

I coughed again, "Best gift… ever. Decoy…"

"Gift?" he asked, "For what?"

Smiling, I whispered before letting the sedative take over again, "Father's Day."

^V^