A/N: This is where it is made obvious that these are not going in chronological order.
This is set right after the first-second episodes of YJ. It's part of the Batman-Robin aftermath that so obviously and awesomely (yet so sadly) occurs off-screen. I say part because I'm going with my personal theory that, since Robin didn't find out about the Watchtower until now...I'd guess Bats didn't tell him about the Justice League either until one year before this (when he was twelve) or so...ish... Which makes this part a lot juicier than it should be since it focuses on Robin's pent-up feelings of why not knowing about the JLA was so hard on him instead of the Watchtower thing or Cadmus... Still, I thought this would be good for them (and for me, since I've never really written them fighting before...)! XD
That said, before I forget, this chapter isn't exactly something Robin was taught for combat so much as it is for Dick learning ever more about who Bruce is behind the mask.
So sorry this took so long to get out! The last entire week has been testing, and my classes have been rather weird in trying to recuperate from that and prepare for the end of the year. XP So...tired... *falls asleep in her computer chair*
Lesson 4: I will tell you everything I feel you need to know. Nothing more, nothing less.
This night in the Batcave is one of the (admittedly, graciously few) unpleasant ones.
"Why didn't you tell me about the Watchtower? I'm your partner! I should know these things!" Dick shouts, sounding accusing while fighting his feelings of betrayal and anger. "You told me when I was just starting out," after a particularly painful lesson on both their parts, truth be told, "that partners don't keep secrets!" His unmasked blue eyes narrow and his frown deepens as he marches toward his adoptive Father. A disgusted, disbelieving arm diagonally slices the air in front of him. "So I'm supposed to abide by that rule, but you're not?"
Bruce narrows his eyes sternly, and even in his enraged state Dick can read the affronted crinkles about the man's forehead, the concern and confusion amassing near his eyes and the bridge of his nose.
This is about much more than just the Watchtower.
"There was no reason for you to know, Dick. What good—?"
Dick can't even bring himself to care that his voice has just cracked for the first time—that his heart has leaped into his throat and his stomach has plummeted, that his vision is blurry with tears, likewise realizing that the crack probably isn't puberty kicking in after all.
He…he can't believe Bruce is saying this!
Bruce—the one person who knows him better than anyone, who has trained him and raised him and been his world's Sun for the last four years of his life! He swallows thickly and blinks rapidly, striving to get another good look at the secret-Batman. Since when is the World's Greatest Detective this thick about his son?
"What about the fact that your butler has to lie for you? What about the fact that your son worries when you run late for patrol?" He blinks away a second wave of tears and must bite his tongue harshly to keep his chin from quivering. He's kept these emotions inside for a few years now, and it seems they're picking this opportunity to come out. "And what about when you don't come home at all, when you call from some undisclosed location to tell me you won't be home for so-many-days, and I have to hear the pain in your voice that you're trying so hard to hide?"
His voice cracks many more times during this, but as the tears begin to slide down his cheeks as the memories of such hard days come to his mind he can't bring himself to care.
"Batman, biologically or not, I'm your son! You feed me, clothe me, shelter me, you've taken me under your wing—you make me who I am!"
He trembles and lets his head drop a bit as his blue eyes and red face are awash with ever-feeling tears. Sometimes, in this exhilarating life he leads, he forgets that he's only thirteen, that it's only been a few short years since his parents died, that he's someone besides a superhero.
But if there's one thing he's never forgotten and will never forget it's the fact that he loves this man before him in a way no one else but the Big Bat himself (aside from maybe Alfred) will ever fully understand. He supposes that's the reason for this long-belated breakdown now.
"And I am grateful for that, I love you for it—" Dick's voice breaks as his eyes bear into the matching blues of his blessed adoptive Father, "—but I need to know that you trust me as much as I do you! That's all." An uneven breath escapes him here, eyes pleading all the more as he shakes his head. "I don't think that's too much to ask."
Throughout all of this, Bruce has been listening attentively, observing him and feeling him out while stunned and slightly on the glossy-eyed side of things himself.
In a way, this makes Dick feel a little better. But only just. Bruce has always been good about listening to his protégé. Now comes the more difficult part of explaining himself in a way that reconciles them both.
So when the man finally crosses the small distance between them and raises gentle, warm hands to wipe the boy's tears away before setting both appendages on his shoulders, the secret-Boy Wonder can't help but let crumble what little is left of his walls.
Because this is the wonderful man who opened his arms and his life and his heart in Dick's hour of need.
Because this is the beautiful man who's given him wings and instilled in him the confidence and skills needed to survive this righteous War they wage in honor of those they've lost.
Because Bruce is his Father, and Dick is his son.
"I've contemplated all of those things more than you can imagine, Dick," Bruce admits slowly, softly, and there is the smallest squeeze to the boy's shoulder. "I do trust you, Dick: with everything that I am, everything that I've ever been and will ever hope to be. I never meant to hurt you by not telling you about the League." Because that is the heart of this matter, they know. "I thought if you knew and something happened, you'd want to help," Dick's eyes narrow protectively—of course he would!—at the same moment as Bruce's, "and I knew if you ended up hurt because of it…" A dark, dangerous shadow passes over Bruce's eyes just before he closes them tightly, and Dick has to fight to keep from shivering. "I couldn't risk it, Dick. Knowing I might not be there to protect you…" Bruce shakes his head vehemently, and Dick can swear there is the slightest shake to his voice and shining droplets on his eyelashes. "I will never risk you."
"I can take care of myself, old man," the thirteen-year-old whispers reassuringly, a small smile-smirk coming to his face. "In fact, the teacher might want to watch his back or the student will end up showing him who's really the King of this Batcave."
Ruffling the boy's black hair Bruce chuckles softly. They both know that the child's acrobatic skills have long-surpassed Bruce's; the man's merely been channeling and honing them for the past three years of their training together.
"I know your capabilities, Dick. I do. But that doesn't stop me from worrying all the same."
A caress of his child's cheek, one Dick can't help but lean into and proceed to mischievously steal a feather-light kiss on the back of the beloved man's fingers.
"Devotion is a two-way street, Bruce," Dick quirks, grinning cryptically enough to make his adoptive Father raise an amused eyebrow.
Using this to his advantage, he lunges forward to wrap his arms around Bruce tightly, burrowing into the man's chest. He can literally feel the smile on Bruce's face when he leans down to kiss the teen's head through his hair and complete the embrace one hundredfold.
"All I needed to hear." His hold tightens, and he whispers, "I forgive you…" and because it makes his heart swell just thinking about it, "…Dad."
A/N: I tried to get across the fact that Dick has already lost one Father and can't bear to lose another without actually saying it... Did I succeed? XP I really hope so! That was my entire point with Dick's rant, for the most part... XP
If you see any lapses in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or characterization, please tell me! I'm so tired, so I'm sure I missed something... XP Thanks so much!
Thanks so much for reading, as always! Rock on!