Batman is often written so dark, he pushes away even his Robins. But, I don't really see this as being true because I don't think Dick Grayson would have turned out the bouncy happy guy he is when he grows up if he hadn't had some support from the Dark Knight. He's so playful and in high spirits all the time, I think Bruce must have, at very least, played with him and things like that. I think it lines up fine with even the darkest interpretations of Batman because this is pretty much the first person he loves since the death of his parents. I think he would have loved little Dickie like crazy. So, here's a fluffy little piece about that.
It was so dark in that sewer, I couldn't see a thing without my night vision goggles, which had gotten broken in my latest fight. "Batman," I heard a small voice say questioningly.
"I'm here Robin", I replied. He came up near me. I could feel him trembling against my leg. I reached down at touched his shoulder, trying to reassure him. I heard the heavy breathing of the animal in the tunnel with us, but I couldn't pin point him. I felt like kicking myself for bringing the boy with me into this fray.
"Batman", the creature breathed. Robin trembled even more. I could tell how frightened he was, but I was proud of him for not crying out so. "I can find you any time I want", Croc hissed, "I can smell the boy's fear scent. I can smell your own."
"Robin", I whispered softly to him, "go up top now."
"You need me", he murmured, "I wanna help you." I was pleased that he pushed past his fear, trying to help, but I thought that he would be more harm then good at this point.
"Go", I said, "get me some backup." Robin nodded at this, understanding that the police would be more helpful then he would right now and moved as silently as he could towards the man hole at the top of the tunnel we were in. I only hoped he would be able to lift it alone.
He made not a sound, but he could not stop his smell and Killer Croc, scenting a movement in his position, flew at him. Robin, I called out in warning. Robin twisted away and narrowly avoided Croc's enormous jaws. However, the back lash from his tail caught him, smashing the boy to the wall of the tunnel.
Robin gave a grunt of pain and I leapt at Croc. Finding me infinitely more dangerous then Robin, Croc turned his attention from the boy to me, which was exactly what I wanted. Robin again tried to make his way towards the manhole but Croc, sensing his intentions, lunged again.
I tried to get between Robin and Croc, but found myself pushed aside by five hundred pounds of rippling muscle beneath heavy scales. Croc snapped at Robin with a feral snarl but the boy again twisted away. Then, Croc's fangs snagged Robin's costume, dragging him from his position. Now, he let out a cry.
"Batman", he screamed, and my blood ran cold.
"Robin", I yelled, "keep calling."
"Batman", he shrieked again and I could hear Croc's heavy paw steps descending deeper into the darkness, the water splashing against the walls of the tunnels, churned by his swinging tail. Robin's cries were getting fainter as Croc carried him away, but I pursued as swiftly as I could.
I pushed myself harder, faster, images of Robin and what Killer Croc could do to him flashing through my mind. I had to get there before anything happened to the boy.
I rushed into a larger chamber. The only reason I knew it was larger however, was the fact that noises sounded differently. It was till too dark to see a thing. Robin, I called, but I got no answer.
I lit a flare and illuminated, in one corner of the room Robin, frozen in terror with Croc looming over him, his intention obviously to devour my boy. I tossed as many baterangs as I could get out of my belt in half a second. Though only a few embedded themselves in Croc's flesh, they distracted him and he again advanced on me.
I tossed the flare as high as I could and dove at Croc. I fought as quickly as possible so I could finish while the flare still hung in the air and though it seemed like an eternity, it was really only two seconds and I had him on the ground unconscious.
The flare splashed into the water and I knew I only had a few moments of light left before it sunk. I wadded through the deep water to Robin and knelt in front of him. "Are you ok Robin?" I asked him.
"Batman", he said plaintively and leapt into my arms, spraying me with the filthy water. He burrowed into my chest, trembling violently.
"Ok", I soothed quietly, smoothing his wet hair, "its ok, you're safe. Did he hurt you?" Robin gave me no answer and the flare had sense been extinguished so I scooped him up and shot my grapple hook, hoping to catch something.
It seemed I snagged a pipeline, judging by the clang of metal against metal. I gave an experimental tug and, deciding it would hold our combined weight, retracted it to pull us up. We made it up as high as we could get and I ran a gloved hand over the roof, searching for an opening.
Finding a man hole cover, I pushed on it and took a deep breath of the crisp, clear night air. Immediately, police officers swarmed around our location. Gordon came up to us first and foremost. "Are you two ok?" he asked. I nodded. I was fairly sure Robin wasn't too badly injured and I was no worse for wear.
"Croc's down there", I said, my voice just barely betraying my fatigue. Gordon had worked with me so often though, he could detect the exhaustion there.
"Go home", he said softly to me, "we'll get Croc." I nodded my head gratefully to him and shifted Robin to one hip. Gordon glanced at him, but I didn't stop to talk. I dragged myself out of the hole and limped over to the car.
My leg was aching from where Croc had smacked it against the side of the tunnel. I felt like moaning out loud, but I had to be grateful that it wasn't broken, just very bruised. There was always something to be grateful for. Robin wasn't dead. That was another thing to be grateful for.
As I was trekking to the car, I saw a flash of bright light, momentarily blinding me. I swing around towards the source and found myself glaring down at a photographer. "I got a shot of the Batman", he shrieked at the top of his lungs. I, without really thinking about it, kicked his feet out from under him. He toppled to the ground.
"Go away", I said in a soft deadly voice. The photographer took one look at me and then skittered off, obviously frightened. "Good', I growled to myself, he should be. I got in my car and sat down with Robin still clinging to me. His grip was tight so I knew he hadn't fallen asleep quite yet, but he was obviously tired. If I was exhausted, he had to be.
I put the car in auto, giving it the voice command to make its way back to the cave without me driving. It did so. While it drove, I decided I would check Robin over. "Robin", I said gently to him, "you need to let go now, I have to check you over. Robin remained fixed tightly to me. I gently ran my fingers over him, prodding those places I knew would force him to let go.
He did so, but reluctantly. I pulled him back a little so he was on my knees and started to look him over. At one point, my eyes caught his. They were so bright and blue, so trusting that I felt a surge of affection for him. I hugged him close for a moment. I loved him so much. I couldn't believe how much I loved him. I had thought I had forgotten how to love after my parents died. Robin taught me how again.
I didn't want to love, it made me vulnerable loving him like that, but I had to, I couldn't help myself. It had been so long since I had loved anyone like I loved this little boy. I finally drew him back to continue my examination. "What was that for?" Robin asked.
"I was just worried about you", I replied, "I'm glad you're safe." He gave me one of his dazzling smiles and I felt my heart melt. "Where did he hurt you?" I asked. Robin's face screwed in concentration as he was obviously trying to focus on a specific point of pain. He wrinkled his nose.
"My back especially I guess", he said to me. I turned him around to look at his back. The entire back of his costume was shredded, mere strips of cloth. There were a few scratches where Croc's teeth had grazed his skin and broken it open, but none too deep or too long. I was relived at least for that.
"And you think that's the worst of it?" I asked him. He nodded, craning his head to look back at me. "I'll clean those up when we get home."
"Ok", he said. I put him down on the seat next to me. We still had a ways to go before we got home and I knew he was tired, so I hoped he might just curl up on the seat and take a little nap while we drove back. He did. He leaned up against me, dozing quietly while I drove. We got home after a little while, but he was already fast asleep.
"Time to get up Robin", I murmured to him, doing my best to rouse him. He opened his eyes a little and then started to get up. But, his movements were sluggish and awkward. He was obviously exhausted and I could tell now that there was something wrong with his arm. He hadn't told me about it, but perhaps it had already numbed by the time I examined him. I would have to look into that.
I debated for a moment, whether or not to carry him inside. Making a decision, I scooped him up. "Come on chum", I said to him softly. My leg was killing me and more then anything else in the world at that moment, I wanted to sit down and fall asleep, maybe pop a few aspirin, but I would tend to Robin first. He was top priority.
Looking at the scratches on his back when I put him down on a table, I again regretted my decision to take him out that night, but how was I to know we would end up in the sewers with that cannibal?
I got out my first aid kit and pulled him out of his tunic. He gave a little mewl of pain as the ripped fabric came free of his wounds, but I soothed him as best I could. I rinsed out each of his wounds and put antibiotics on. I had to make sure nothing got infected. I was considering even taking him to get shots the next day. He would hate me for it, but I wasn't sure what sort of bacteria Croc was packing in that slathering mouth of his. I would take a culture one of these days.
"Alright Dick", I said, lifting his chin so he would make eye contact with me, "listen to me now."
"Yea, Dick," mumbled.
"Go upstairs and take a bath ok", I said to him, "then I'll bind your wounds and you can go to bed."
"Ok", Dick muttered sleepily and slowly started to drag himself up the stairs. I rolled my eyes and then picked him up again.
"Come on", I said, "lets go." I dropped him off at his bathroom and went to mine. I was so tired, I was ready to just go straight to bed, but I decided going to bed smelling and covered in sewer water did not really appeal to me so I got in the shower. The warm water eased my leg. The fact that it felt better now assured me it wasn't fractured or broken, which was really good. I couldn't afford an injury like a broken leg. It was still difficult to move though. Well, it would be better by the morning hopefully.
I showered quickly, dried off and lay down in my bed. I was about to let myself fall asleep when I thought about Dick. I groaned and grunted, rolled around for a few minutes, and debated whether or not I should get out of my nice comfortable bed. Only Dick could have roused me.
I dragged myself out of bed and limped over to his bathroom. The lights were still on in there. "Dick", I questioningly, knocking on the door, "you almost done son?" I got no answer. I opened the door. There was Dick, still dressed, leaning heavily against the wall, fast asleep. I shook my head with a smile and picked him up. "Dick", I said softly to him, "come on, you have to take a bath. You're filthy and you smell horrible."
"Wash me", he said softly. I shook my head. I loved him and all, but I felt that might be a little too much of an invasion of privacy. No, no Dick, I said, you need to wash yourself. He shook his head.
"Please", he pleaded, "I'm tired."
I sighed, battled with myself for a moment and then asked, "Would your parents?" He nodded and then fell back asleep, leaning against me. I shrugged. "You win I guess", I said to him. I ran a bath, stripped him down, and put him in. I had to support his back to keep him from slumping down in into the water and drowning himself.
I scrubbed the dirt off him as gently as possible, knowing he was sore from the beating he'd received at the paws and tail of Croc. I supposed I didn't mind washing him; it wasn't like it was all that difficult. He was so little, he barely weighed anything at all. I was just surprised he didn't mind. I would have minded being washed by someone, regardless of how tired I was. I supposed when you were younger, your mind worked differently.
Funny, I couldn't remember being like this. Perhaps I had just been robbed of it too young. I had been younger then Dick after all. I pushed those thought away though and gently pulled him out of the tub. He dripped water on me a little, but I didn't mind. I dried him off and then bound the wounds on his back. I ran my fingers over his arm, trying to ascertain the problem. It wasn't dislocated or broken.
Perhaps it was fractured, but I didn't think so. I supposed it was just severely bruised, like my leg. I'd think up an excuse to get him X-rayed the next day. Perhaps he fell off his bike at high speed. Yea, that would probably work. Those people at that doctor's office must have thought Dick was the most accident-prone child ever. I chuckled softly to myself and then carried him to his room.
"Can you get yourself dressed?" I asked, "or do I have to do it for you?" He opened his eyes and gazed at me droopily. "I'll take that as a yes I do", I said softly. I grabbed his pajamas and pulled them on him, minding his arm. "There you go", I said, "time for bed." I put him gently on his bed and pulled the covers over him. "Night", I said to him softly and then left the room.
"No wait", he yelped, his voice suddenly full of panicked vigor.
"What is it?" I asked urgently.
"Please don't leave me alone in the dark", he whimpered, "its scary."
"Dick", I said, "I'm exhausted. Please go to sleep. I can't sit up with you tonight."
"Can I sleep with you?" he asked.
"No", I replied, "you're better off in your own bed."
"Please", he pleaded desperately, "the dark is scary. Croc's gona come and get me."
"Croc's in jail now little one", I said to him soothingly, "he won't break out for at least a week yet."
"Please", he said.
"No", I replied, "go to bed." I closed the door to his room.
"No", he shrieked, "its too dark." He sounded so terrified and alone at that moment, I opened the door again. He was crying softly and quickly wearing me down. I sat down on his bed and he immediately crawled over and curled up, pushing against me forcefully and trembling.
"You're really frightened", I asked him gently. He nodded, still weeping quietly.
"It's really scary", he sobbed, "its so dark."
"Alright", I said, "but just for tonight."
"Thank you", he murmured and I picked him up to carry him to my room. I laid him on my bed and lowered myself down next to him with barely a rustle of sheets. He moved over next to me. "Sing me a song", he said quietly, "to chase away the dark, sing me a song."
"I can't sing Dick", I said.
"I don't care", he replied.
"I only know one song", I tried again, "please lets go to sleep. I'll sing for you in the morning."
"Please", he said, "just one song. Dad used to sing my songs sometimes when I got scared." Dick definitely knew how to finagle just about anything out of me, if nothing else I'd give him that.
"Alright", I said, pushing a yawn away. I propped myself up on my elbow as he stretched himself out, gazing up at me expectantly. "I only know one song", I warned, "and my singing is atrocious. Batman doesn't sing." He continued to gaze up at me and I knew my objections were falling on deaf ears. "You will never tell anyone that Batman sang for you, deal", I said seriously. He nodded, so I opened my mouth and sang the one lullaby I knew.
"Hush little baby don't say a word, daddy's gona buy you a mocking bird…" by the first words of my gruff, softly sung melody, his eyelids began to droop and soon I found I was just singing to myself. I finished the song nonetheless. Obviously, despite the fact that I had a very low opinion of my own voice, it soothed Dick enough to make him finally go to sleep.
"…and if that cart and bull fall down, you'll still be the sweetest little boy in town." I gazed down at him, now fast asleep, his face so innocent, so young and felt something inside me click. I knew that with all my heart, there was nothing I wanted to do more then protect this boy. I wanted to lock him away so the world could never hurt him, so nothing could ever hurt him.
I smoothed his hair back from his sweet face and whispered softly to him, "I love you Richard Grayson." It was the first time I had ever said it too him. It was the first time I had said it to anyone in so long, but it felt so right to whisper it to my sleeping child just then. I kissed his forehead gently and lay down next to him, eyes falling shut.
But, right before I fell asleep, I heard a tiny voice whisper in the dark, "I love you too Bruce Wayne," and felt a soft pair of lips brush my forehead. I thought my heart might burst.