Note: I just posted a new FanFic called "I loved Him First". This is about Bruce realising how much Dick's growing up. I have to warn you though it contains: KF/Robin, meaning slash, so for those who don't like such, I don't recommend reading it. For those who find it interesting, please read and review it! ;D

On with the story!


5 – Dick, 16 Years Old

It happened occasionally. Bruce Wayne had long since concluded that it brought his adoptive son some unique kind of comfort. It had become quite apparent how much it meant to his young ward through the years, but after the boy reached thirteen, where he apparently had hit a rebellious phase, it had not happened. Not even once.

Not even after a mission gone terribly wrong with his team. Not after his fights with his best friend. Not on stormy nights. Not even after the big Christmas party Wayne Tech had held when the boy was fourteen and three women, all at once, had flung themselves at his dear father. Heck, Dick Grayson had barely even blinked when it happened.

Supposedly, one would think Bruce (the goddamn Batman!) would not think much of it. Consider the fact that he had often questioned whether it was good for Dick to attach himself to his bed like that, he should have been pleased when the boy stopped crawling in with him at night, snuggled up to his chest.

So why did he care?

Quite frankly, Bruce had pondered and weighted every reason for it and yet, even after three years; Dick now was well into his sophomore year, he had no answer. It simply did not make any sense to him.

However, when it came to musing and seeking for answers, Batman was not only extremely talented, but also a bit on the lucky side. Sometimes, difficult questions came to him like a slap in the face. Hard and unexpected.

It had just been a brisk stroll through the manor, honestly. The door to one of the many bathrooms had been left completely open, perking Bruce's curiosity. Casually, he had glanced inside and found his son looking at himself in the mirror, hands massaging hair-gel into the coal black hair. It was such a ordinary gesture, Dick did it the same way every morning to make his hair look good, and yet, when seeing his son in that particular situation, it went up for Bruce what had happened right before his eyes.

His little partner, his adoptive son, was no 'little robin' anymore. In fact, that bird was going to leave the nest soon.

True, Richard was still just a sophomore, but two short years and he would, most likely, go to college. Two short years and maybe, just maybe, Robin would decide to try out the crime fighting on his own.

It physically ached in his chest when he thought it over. After all, that little runt had, for reasons Bruce Wayne could simply not understand, crawled under his skin. They had by all means had their ups and downs through their relationship as Robin and Batman, as well as Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne, but nothing could change the fact that Dick had easily been qualified as his son.

Blood relations didn't matter and though Bruce was very much aware that he could never replace John Grayson, he knew that Dick cared for him the same way a son would for a father. To think that time had passed so quickly and that the boy was ready to spread his wings on his own, it was… overwhelming.

While the new feeling of realisation settled in his stomach, Bruce, undetectably by Dick, made his way to the living room of Wayne Manor. There he sat down, a frown on his face as his dark eyes stared out in the air. The need to reminisce had taken him over and suddenly old memories were floating back to him. Good ones, involving Dick and his growth.

Suddenly, Bruce Wayne felt old, which was highly ridiculous. He was thirty fives years old for crying out loud, meaning that he still had five years before he even reached forty. If one took into account that he also looked younger than he actually was then feeling old was simply laughable.

However, Bruce Wayne had become a single parent for a child when the boy was eight and Bruce twenty-seven. Since Dick had been eight years of age when he was accepted into Wayne manor it was understandable that Bruce felt time passed a bit too quickly. After all, when a child was eight it was really just five years and then the kid was a teen and six more years and the child had grown into a young man.

Two more years and the young man would be eighteen where college and… other activities, that Bruce really didn't want to even consider his ward could be wising to do, was a fact. Truthfully, he knew what had been desired himself in that age, but such he would absolutely not think about. Some things were better left forgotten.

Bruce's thoughts were interrupted as Alfred came up, a tray with teacups, a teakettle and cookies in his hands. Of course, the butler always knew when his cookies were most appreciated.

"Reminiscing are we, Master Bruce?" asked Alfred as he put the tray down on the coffee table in front of Bruce. Really, the billionaire felt it was more like a statement then a question, but answered it anyway.

"Yeah, it suddenly dawned on me that time is practically slipping between my fingertips," sighed the younger man as he accepted the teacup, his dark eyes staring down in the brown tea.

Alfred's face softened. Bruce probably didn't realise that what he was going through right now was also something the butler himself had experienced. Albeit Alfred and Bruce had never bonded the same way Dick and the Dark Knight had, it still had been quite solemn to see how Bruce evolved and grew up from the grieving eight-year-old child with a fright for bats, to the fierce, strong, powerful and wise crime-fighter of Gotham, as well as a father for the young Dick Grayson.

The transformation was almost unbelievable, but it had happened. Bruce was a grown up man with his own son who he now watched slip away from his fatherly grasp. It wasn't that Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne would ever stop caring deeply for one another in a father-son way, but the Boy Wonder was now growing rapidly.

Sooner or later, Alfred knew Dick would leave them to explore the world. Explore his options, make memories and go through various experiences that were necessary for him.

"You're quite correct Master Bruce," Alfred spoke as he seated himself in the couch opposite of the Wayne heir. "Time has this rather irritating trait of passing fast when we want to freeze it and move slow when one wants it to move rapidly." A small smile formed on the butler's lips. "But in the end, I suppose it passes just as it should."

Bruce always found it comforting that Alfred was so wise. True, the Caped Crusader was not an ignorant, young lad himself anymore. His knowledge was expanded and without many limits, but when all was said and done Alfred's wisdom could surpass his own at certain aspects. The butler was just awesome like that. Always knew what to say and what to do in any situation; something Bruce (and Batman) shamelessly had to admit was not always the case with him.

"He's grown up," Bruce finally said, his voice quiet and empty. "And I hardly realised it."

"Well, he is a teenage boy. They tend to grow quite fast, though I'm sure you mean more in years than on the outside. Master Richard, although he does not like me saying so, is not of the lot that hit puberty first, if you know what I mean. However, he has gotten a lot taller recently."

Bruce was about to reply, but was interrupted by the voice of said teen they were discussing. Apparently, the youngster of Wayne Manor was on the phone.

"Seriously, KF, relax. I'm sure it won't be that bad," the dark haired teen said as he entered the living room. He served his elders a slight, absentminded wave, before his blue eyes turned to the ceiling, obviously focusing on whatever the speedster was saying on the other line. "So what if your aunt has planned a family gathering after graduation? I doubt it's the end of the world."

There was silence for a couple of moments as Dick fumbled around in the kitchen that was linked to the living room.

"You know, I feel insulted when you talk about your family like that," said Dick with a sigh, his voice lower now, but clear enough for Bruce and Alfred to hear. "You should be happy you have them around with you. Sure, you're dad's an asshole and your mother's been put in the mental hospital, so of course I understand that this is hard for you, but your uncle and aunt is doing their very best so that you can be with the rest of the family like normal. They still care about you. Barry and Iris loves you like you were their own."

There was a long moment of silence. Bruce exchanged brief looks with Alfred.

"Yeah, I'll come by tomorrow, 'kay? We can talk more then and yes, of course I'll be there when you graduate," Dick finally said, before he hung up and placed his cell-phone back in his pocket.

Realising that he had audience (which he was pretty much aware of in the first place but he had no idea they were actually staring at him), Dick turned to meet his mentor's eyes. They didn't need to say anything to each other, because Bruce knew what it had been all about. Short said, Dick was trying to help Wally through some pretty hard times. The way he was handling it made Bruce sort of proud actually.

Dick was just what Wally needed, he was sure.

"KF's graduating soon, three weeks to be exact," Dick informed them. "You'll be there, right?"

When Dick said 'right' it was really a clear warning that if they weren't there he would not talk to them for months. Luckily, Bruce knew Alfred would be writing this down so he would most likely not forget.

Sure, Batman was tough enough to handle an outraged Robin, but Bruce Wayne did not like handling an outraged Dick Grayson. It was, believe it or not, somewhat different.

"We'll be there."

The beaming smile that was sent their way made Bruce's mood darken somewhat. He watched solemnly as his son (who was far too grown up for his own liking) exited and then turned to Alfred. "I still believe time passes far to quickly."

Later that night, Batman returned from patrol. Robin had been out with his team and therefore had not accompanied him. To be honest, the crime-fighter of Gotham had not expected Robin to be home before him. Mostly, because the mission did not come into the 'easy' category. However, he found no other than his adoptive son lying on his bed (which had not occurred in years) when he was showered and ready to sleep.

"Dick? What are you doing here?" asked Bruce, frowning. Had he not been Batman he would probably expressed shock.

The sixteen-year-old boy was dressed in a black T-shirt and red boxer shorts. He was lying up against one of his bat-shaped pillows (Dick had bought them in a Batman fan-store, mostly to annoy him, Bruce was sure) with a book in his hand.

Blue eyes turned to look at him and Dick let go of a smirk. "Lying in your bed."

"So I can see. May I ask why?"

His protégé shrugged his shoulders, eyes absentmindedly going back to the book for a second, before he put it on the nightstand. Then, out of nowhere, Dick's blue eyes lost all spark and was replaced by pure solemn and hurt. It caught Bruce off guard to be honest and he also was quite impressed how his ward had kept up such a happy outlook. He had even fooled the Batman with that one.

"It's the day," whispered Dick. "You've been busy, so I concluded you didn't remember."

The day. Bruce hated that day with passion and yet, the feeling of it was sort of bittersweet. The plus with it was that Dick become his - his son, his responsibility) - the down points were the loss the poor boy had gone through. Bruce could simply not understand he'd forgotten all about this date.

"I'm sorry I didn't-"

"It's all right. I didn't expect you too and honestly, I've tried to just… to just ignore it, but…" Dick looked up at his father, big blue eyes a bit glossy. "Can I… do you mind if I sleep here? Just… one last time."

One last time… never again, Bruce. Never again, but today…

It hurt. It ached deep within him, but Bruce Wayne didn't let it show. With a small smile, something that had become rarer as Dick had grown, Bruce nodded his head quietly. The billionaire settled down in his bed, eyes closed and breath going steady. He heard shifting from the sidelines and knew Dick was settling in as well.

Bruce didn't know how long he had laid there, but he knew that when he felt some arms wrap around his torso and a face pressing itself against his ribs, the pain he, himself, felt eased somewhat.

Time passed too quickly. Dick grew too fast. But, some things never changed.

Or, at least not the safety of having each other changed. Having a twenty-year-old Dick in his bed was not an option. Bruce just wished he could get one last day where his hyperactive, talented, wonderful son would be back to being nine.

So dependent of him, so helpless and with a burning adoration for his bat-suited mentor.

So ready to take on the world.

So ready to show his worth, his talents.

Bruce loved that kid. Loved this teen. Would love the young man and the adult to come.

Always.


-o-

Of all the things I still remember
Summer's never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly by
But the memories remain…

~ Daughtry, September

-o-

THE END