Title: Proof in the Parenting
Author: Takebuo Ishimatsu
Summary: The League is amused to realize that little Dick Grayson isn't the only one learning things from his new family. For yj_anon_meme.
Disclaimer: Ido not own Young Justice.
So, I was rewatching some B:TAS, and I was struck by the little things that Bats lets Robin get away with...putting his feet up on the dash of the Batmobile, playing video games on the Batcomputer. And Dick is even more a kid in YJ-verse, so...
5 times Batman's different JL colleagues noticed little things that he lets Robin get away with, especially if he used to be such a hardass about those things before he got Robin.
Dick, Age 8
There were certain habits one developed as a nighttime vigilante that other "normal" people weren't prone to developing. (Though, really, what was "normal," but a word?)
Such as the flat-out refusal to believe in friends, sugar (not that he could argue with that), useless conversation, and sunlight.
And yet, the butler supposed there were certain other habits one developed as a nighttime vigilante...with a son.
He forced himself to give the only teensiest hint of a smirk as he silently poured Master Bruce a bit more coffee.
The young man barely acknowledged his efforts as his eyes, usually so sharp and clear, blurrily shifted from Master Richard, to Mr. Kent, to the pancakes, to the sun, back to Mr. Kent, to his coffee, and then, finally, to him.
He got the distinct impression the poor boy was silently asking him, "How did THIS happen?"
Well, technically, the answer to the unspoken question was: Mr. Kent told Richard to call him anytime he wanted to "hang out," Richard did so and set up a breakfast meeting, the child then scurried to Alfred and begged him to wake Master Bruce up early the next morning (poor thing had been frightened his new parent would be angry with him), Alfred had unceremoniously dragged Bruce out of bed fifteen minutes before Mr. Kent's arrival (because he'd find some way to squirrel out of it if given any planning time) and thus there they all were.
However, Alfred felt it was more a rhetorical silent question, so he answered by simply plopping another pancake on his would-be son's plate.
Bruce looked ready to protest the pancake, Mr. Kent, the sun and life in general when little Richard giggled at one of Mr. Kent's terrible jokes.
And then, for the first time in a long, long time, Master Bruce simply...relaxed.
Then tensed again when Richard innocently asked if he could invite "Mr. Clark" over again the next morning.
Dick, Age 9
He understood Batman's insistence on being the only hero in Gotham. He understood why he required others to ask his permission before operating in his city. He also understood why said permission was rarely given.
He knew what it was like to try to keep outsiders from your precious homeland. What it was like to have a set plan of action, trained allies, and advanced weapons in order to protect that homeland and not wanting anyone to accidentally screw it all up. As a warrior, he also knew that it often felt like failure when you required the help of those stronger than yourself, or you allowed others to show that they could perhaps (just perhaps) do your job better than you could.
Really, he did.
He did not fault the Dark Knight for not wanting metas (or even other human heroes) in his area, where they may either mess things up or accidentally make the city's protector look weak in comparison. (Because, let's face it, people like Superman had the ability to make everyone look like children when they got involved, regardless of one's skill level or individual powers.)
So, all-in-all, that was not what he and Bruce fought over every time their duties clashed.
It was much more simple than that: it was an ongoing territory battle.
Bruce refused to accept that Gotham Harbor was part of his domain. It connected to the Atlantic, did it not?
Bruce could have the land of Gotham; Orin would never protest that. But the water...now that belonged to him.
Needless to say, as he called up the man on his personal JLA monitor, he was expecting a fight.
And he got one.
" Absolutely not. I'll check it out tomorrow. You stay out of my city," Bruce growled once he was done explaining his side of the argument.
" I'll check it out today. Because it is my water!" Orin yelled, glaring at the man.
" You will not. I'll go in first and I'll call you if I have need of your expertise." Batman's voice clearly told him he wouldn't be calling.
" Even if that was acceptable, tomorrow is too late! The men who kidnapped two of my people could be there now!"
A small voice called out through the cave before Bruce had a chance to answer, "Are we not going anymore?"
The man on screen froze and Orin could just barely see the child he was glancing at out of the corner of his eye.
There was a pause, in which Batman gritted his teeth to the point that Orin was afraid of them cracking, (not that the stubborn land-dweller wouldn't deserve it) before the other let out a harsh breath.
"We still are," Bruce said softly. His voice turned rougher as he glared at Orin, "You may go in this once. If you run into trouble call," he glanced at the child again, "Call Black Canary. I have a grave to visit."
The connection went dead, and his screen turned to static.
He shook his head in amazement, not entirely certain that had actually happened.
Dick, Age 9
"Did you see? Did you see?" the boy asked excitedly as he completed his flip and landed on one hand atop the gargoyle.
The Amazon once again eyed the boy's bright costume, which was so completely not up to Dark Knight standards, wondering if it was some sort of secret tactic of Bruce's to keep track of the hyper child.
"I did," he growled, "Your aim was off and that man almost grabbed you before your kick could land. You were too noisy in the warehouse and alerted those guards to our position. You forgot which side your smoke pellets were on and almost threw down plastique instead. And that was all in just the first two hours."
The boy sprung himself back onto his feet, a dejected look on his face. Diana noticed he didn't say anything about the remarks. Clearly the boy had learned, as all of Bruce's allies eventually did, that the man had nothing good to say about anybody and little progress came from arguing about it.
She opened her mouth to comfort the boy (he hadn't done everything wrong), when Bruce continued, "Otherwise, yes, I saw you take down the Riddler. Good job."
She quickly snapped her jaw shut as the man turned towards her, "Thank you."
She nodded slowly, "No problem. I understand how important it is to give young warriors real-life training. And," she gave the boy's back a smile, amused by him doing what she could only describe as a victory dance, "I understand how important it is to have safety precautions in place, just in cause that training takes a wrong turn."
She gave her old friend a smug look as she continued, "Though, I must say, I was quite surprised when you asked me to help you with your son's first outing. If I didn't know you better, I'd almost say-"
"Robin. Time to go," Bruce growled, gently pushing the boy towards the edge of the rooftop before they both swung away.
Well then. So much for that talk.
She shook her head in exasperation, though she supposed it was nice of him to at least acknowledge his leaving for once.
She dreaded the day the boy mastered his father's fine art of ninja stealth.
Dick, Age 9
Ollie sighed, leaning back in his chair and plopping his feet up on a different one. It'd been a long day.
" Queen, get your feet off the furniture," Bruce snapped in a tone that was harsher than usual. Apparently someone was in a pissy(er) mood!
Scowling at his fellow billionaire, he pointed an accusing finger at the man's son, "I don't see you Batglaring at him."
"He is only nine, Queen. You are a grown man. Do I need to elaborate?" Bruce deadpanned, giving him a look that clearly said he thought the other was lacking a few dozen points in the IQ department.
"Feet are feet!" he squawked back. If he was getting the furniture dirty, than the boy damn well was too!
" Keep your voice down!" Bruce hissed darkly, "He's sleeping."
Ollie gave the man a disbelieving look. Had the goddamn Batman just...just..."Mama beared" at him?
A slow smirk crept onto his face as he casually removed his feet.
He added suddenly, as a rather valid point came to him, "You know, this isn't even your furniture. We're in Kent's apartment."
Just then, the Kryptonian himself appeared in the doorway with a plate of cookies, only to be met with Bruce's Batglare of Doom and Ollie's amused smirk.
"I think I hear Lois calling. She must be falling off of something again. Be right back," he said quickly, before taking off at a speed that would have made Flash jealous.
Ollie noted that he'd apparently had time to leave the cookies nearby before flying off to "save his woman" (yeah, right) so he figured Clark wouldn't be back soon. Making himself at home, he took a handful of the chocolate-chip goodies, popping a couple into his mouth before grabbing some more to replace them.
And then a few more.
Another couldn't hurt.
"Queen, stop eating all the damn cookies. Leave some for Dick," Bruce hissed.
Oh God, why hadn't they gotten the broody Bat a kid before then?
He was hilarious.
Maybe they could find him another one?
Ollie chuckled as the image of Bruce scowling in the middle of a bunch of little Robins came to mind. Oh, and a girl too! A little...Batgirl!
He snickered some more, refusing to be frightened by the other man's silent promise to do horrible, unspeakable things to him next time they were alone. (And not the good kind of "horrible, unspeakable," like he'd done with Dinah the other night.)
He figured, if push came to shove, and he truly feared for his family jewels, his bow and arrow, his finely-trimmed mustache, or anything else he dearly loved that the Bat might go after, he could just hide out at Kent's apartment.
And eat the man's cookies.
Damn, that alien could bake!
Dick, Age 10
"Wow, you're still here?" Hal asked, pausing in the doorway of the power room.
Batman gave him a look that would have been a "duh" on anyone else, but just came out more as "Why am I surrounded by idiots?" on his face.
Hal winced internally, but tried to continue being friendly anyway, "I mean, that's just the back-up generator. It's not like we need it right at the moment."
"And when we do need it?" Bruce growled, his tone telling Hal everything he needed to know of what the man thought of him due to that comment.
"I'm just saying," he gave the other a concerned look, "You've been up here working on that thing for the past six hours. Maybe you could go rest and come back to finish it later?"
"I like to make sure that what I start gets finished," Bruce answered, sounding more bland than annoyed that time, so Hal figured he had to be making some progress.
The other held up one hand to him and put the other to his ear.
"Robin? What's the matter?"
There was silence for a moment before Bruce responded, "You need to take the circumference divided by the diameter, placing that equal to Pi."
There was another pause before, "Recite the entire problem to me."
After some more silence on Bruce's end, the man frowned, "Are you certain you looked up the right answer in the back of the book?"
Finally Bruce said, "I'm coming home." He brushed past the Lantern as he slipped out the door, not even pausing to give the man a curtsey good-bye nod. (Then again, Batman didn't do curtsey, did he?)
"Have you already finished your English homework?" he heard Bruce ask as he rounded the corner down the hall.
He supposed that was one way to do it.
Dick, Age 11
"Hey! Watch where you're going, Kid Clutz!" Robin growled as he slowly got back to his feet.
Wally groaned, "Oh man, my head."
"Don't run it into Kevlar. You'd be amazed at what it does for migraines," Boy Wonder snarked.
Batman growled, "Robin, are you all right?"
The man sounded as if he dearly wanted the other to say no, most likely looking for an excuse to toss Wally off a building. A very tall building.
Robin shrugged, which Barry figured must be an "I'm fine" in Batlanguage since Bruce didn't drop kick his nephew back to Central City.
Barry rubbed his eyes with his hand, suddenly tired. Or maybe he just didn't want to look at the social mess Wally had created all of two seconds after meeting Robin. He wasn't certain.
He sighed mentally. This was not how he'd imagined it would go.
"Sorry man, I don't quite have the stopping part down."
Robin snorted, "And they let you out of the house?"
Batman gave Barry a look that asked about the same thing.
The older speedster shrugged, "We can't all be perfect right out of the gate."
Batman didn't respond to that, though he did indicate for Barry to follow him.
"You stay," he ordered to the sidekicks.
"And do what?" Robin asked, sounding rather indignant at being left behind. Barry just barely caught the scowl pointed in his direction before it disappeared behind a wall of nothingness. Kid totally had the Batface down to a T.
He had the feeling that being the one of only a handful of people that had Bruce's love was probably making the boy possessive of the Bat. (And here he'd thought regular "only childs" were bad.)
"Work on your socializing skills. Be at Checkpoint Seven in three hours," Batman ordered, smirking as usual.
" You're one to talk. Socializing," Robin muttered.
Bruce gave his son the Look.
Robin quickly grabbed Wally's hand and dragged him into the shadows of a side alley.
Barry gave Bruce an odd look, "I thought we were just introducing them? Do you have something else you need from me?"
"No," Bruce said, starting to walk away.
"So, what exactly is your plan then?" Barry asked, keeping up with him.
"Do you want some coffee?"
Barry blinked before smiling, "Wow, B, you're being almost downright friendly. Wait, you're not actually a robot or something, are you?"
"He needs friends," Bruce answered. Barry tilted his head in question.
Then the goddamn Batman actually hesitated. (Barry was fairly positive the world was ending, but he'd go with it if it meant Bruce might actually show some humanity for once.)
Finally, "He needs to see me with friends. More than just Clark, whom he's certain has some sort of Kryptonian defect that makes him stick around for his daily dose of verbal abuse."
Barry chuckled, "So, what you're saying is, that you're going to use me as some sort of example so that the kid doesn't try to grow up to be all grouchy like you. That's kind of messed up, B."
"It was Alfred's idea...Sort of," Batman said. Barry wasn't entirely certain he believed his eyes at the sight of something that wasn't quite a smile but was definitely not one of his customary Batsmirks.
Well, wasn't he the honored one? He'd have to rub it in Clark's face later on, during Superhero Poker Night. (Which Bruce was banned from participating in...if he ever wanted to come to one.)
Barry chuckled again, "Let's go get that coffee."
Three hours later, when Wally and Dick arrived at the checkpoint babbling something about man-eating cats and strawberry milkshakes and the upcoming zombie apocalypse (Barry was so hiding the sugar when they came over to his house later), the speedster still wasn't certain how the "being used" was sitting with him. But, glancing into wide green eyes as his nephew excitedly explained how some hooker-chick named Roxy had saved them, he figured he might approve of the reason behind the other's actions.
And, really, it was totally worth it to see Bruce downright uncomfortable, as the man tried to build up his barely-there friendship with the speedster while maintaining his "I hate everyone" aura.
Well, "everyone" but Dick, anyway. Or were tiny birds some sort of weird loophole in the mind of a Bat?
Dick, Age 12
" KF! A little help would be greatly appreciated!"
"I'm trying! I'm trying! There's dudes everywhere!"
"Well, there's dudes over here too! I need back-up ASAP! I- Shit! I mean..." Robin gave his adopted father an innocent smile over his shoulder, "Shoot?"
Bruce raised an eyebrow, to which Robin muttered, "Sorry," before turning his gaze back to the screen. He stuck out his tongue and scrunched his eyebrows as he jerked the joystick back and forth with one hand while typing in commands with the other.
"I have cameras located here, here, and here," Batman pointed to several buildings on the map and J'onn quickly shifted his attention away from the boy and back to the topic at hand.
Though, he did glance in young Robin's general direction every now and then.
The entire situation – the boy, in his hero costume, sitting at the revered Batcomputer, playing war games – was just too...fascinating to ignore entirely.
" KF! You idiot! You just hit me!" Robin yelled into the comlink in his ear as his avatar on the screen let out a cry of pain. Batman's JLA comlink, if he wasn't mistaken.
" No, no, the shield is the other button," J'onn heard through the boy's hearing device.
"Oh, sorry," a familiar voice responded.
" Dude! Is your uncle playing?" Robin asked incredulously.
"Dude! Not like I can stop him. It's his computer."
"And my comlink. Now, show me how to do that flippy-thing you just did."
Robin groaned, "I'm so dead."
"A problem?" Bruce asked, following J'onn's gaze towards his ward.
J'onn shook himself from the sight, "No. Not at all. I was just wondering why the boy doesn't use the Batcomputer's microphone system to speak?"
"He says it makes it feel more authentic."
J'onn looked at the violent game uncertainly, "And that is a good thing?"
Bruce deadpanned, "Teamwork training."
Dick, Age 13
"Finally," she muttered, catching the black blur coming up the path to Mount Justice.
...Coming up fast. And not appearing to be slowing.
A sense of dread slowly crept over her as she nonchalantly took a few steps to the right. And then a few more.
The car was still attempting to break the sound barrier three seconds later, when it was only about twenty feet away.
Her eyes widened at the sound of squealing breaks and the sight of the car sliding.
Sliding towards her.
She tensed, not wanting to look like a spazzy fool by jumping out of the way.
Batman could control the Batmobile. He'd been speeding through Gotham for years. It wasn't as if he'd actually hit her.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
And then opened them with a gasp as she realized the car had stopped its skid all of three inches from where she was standing.
Dark shadow-lurker, her ass! Bruce was a Grade-A showoff, and she'd slash his tires if he denied it.
"Cutting that one a little close, weren't you?" she asked the tinted window on the driver's side.
The door opened and a red blur jumped past her, landed on its hands, and then did a few flips towards the entrance. All while giggling.
"Don't worry, BC, I wasn't gonna hit you. I got my highest score on the drift-racing part of Batman's driving simulator," Robin said, giving her a thumbs-up.
Dinah's mouth dropped open as the boy giggled some more and darted into Mount Justice, yelling down the hallway, "Hey KF! You're never gonna believe this!"
Slowly, she turned back towards the car, just as Batman was pulling himself out of the passenger seat. She was almost comforted by the obvious stress in his pinched face.
"Batman!" she hissed, "I can't believe- He's only-"
Bruce gave her a Look and she remembered who she was dealing with.
Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly. Bruce wouldn't let the boy out on the street if he didn't believe he could handle it. Ok then.
She said instead, "You let him drive your car?"
She felt the silent, "Your super-tech, super-awesome, super-Batman car. Which the rest of us lowly mortals aren't allowed to even sit in," was communicated properly by her tone, since Bruce just started walking towards the door while refusing to look at her.
She smiled and shook her head. She couldn't wait until she told Ollie.
He always got a kick out of hearing about Batman's "Daddy!Bat" moments.
Dick, Age 13
He never let Bruce get any work done. Because he talked too much.
He messed up Batman's image when he was around. Because he was too bright, too cheerful, too happy.
He rushed into things and had to have Batman save him. Because he lacked proper thinking skills. (And, really, it was only those few times.)
He was annoying, bothersome, intrusive, clingy, noisy, overly friendly, in the way and flat out unwelcome.
Because he was Superman. Clark Kent. Bruce's best friend. (At least, he liked to think so.)
And then there was the child.
The boy that talked too much, was too clingy, was too loud. Was too cheerful and too in-love-with-life in general.
He had to have Batman save him and he messed up the Bat's image when he was around.
In short, he exhibited all the traits Bruce hated.
...In everyone else.
Across the Batcave, Clark watched on as father and son trained. He didn't say anything, despite his coming there for a very important reason. (He didn't want to Bruce to complain that he always interrupted him, after all.)
Instead, the Kryptonian just stood back and smiled.
AN: Woot! Hope you like it! (OMG, I just love Daddy!Bats sooooooooooo much!)