"Look, I'm my own person now. You don't have the authority to boss me around anymore Bruce"


"Geez, I try to call you to have a nice, normal talk. We haven't talked for AGES. First thing you do is assume that something is the matter, like I need to crawl back to you for help. Then you nag me again. I know how to look after myself Bruce! I'm not a little kid anymore, alright?"

I remain silent.

"Yeah, that's right, don't talk, see if I care! You haven't changed a bit" the vid-phone clicks off. Then it clicks back on again.

"Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas" he snaps and it clicks off again. Slowly, I press a button. The screen flashes and the speakers turn off. I slump into my chair, tired. I feel warmth beneath my fingers. I rub Ace's head fondly and sigh. The dog whines. I sigh again. That dog always knows when I'm in a good mood and when I'm not. I spin in my large chair and turn on the huge computer in front of me. I tap a few buttons. Pictures flash past at the click of a key, pictures of myself, a younger Barbara Gordon, Talia, Zatanna, myself standing next to a young, smiling Harvey Dent, hm, that must have been taken a LONG time ago… then I stop at a picture of a little boy, waving with one hand and clutching a toy robot in the other. I feel a pang at my heart. I can still remember that day. How could I forget?


Dick sat in front of the fire.

"Why so quiet Master Richard? It's Christmas. Shouldn't you be playing with your friends?" Alfred inquired politely with his rich British accent. The little boy sighed and brushed some hair out of his eyes, irritated.

"Didn't I tell ya already not to call me Master Richard? My name's Dick, please call me by that name" the boy said, crossing his arms and frowning. The hair fell back into place, hanging stubbornly, lying in between his eyes. Alfred chuckled.

"My, quite a face you're pulling there Master Richard. It'll stick like that someday if you're not careful"

The boy jerked and stared at him with big round baby-blue eyes.

"Really?" he asked, awed. The butler smiled.

"Why aren't you out with your friends? It's a beautiful Christmas morning," Alfred repeated, smiling. Dick sat back into the large chair, almost buried himself in the plush cushions.

"Don't want to play. Not feeling happy," he said, crossing his arms again. Alfred set down the tray he was carrying.

"Well please say you're happy enough to have a few cookies?" he asked. The boy looked at the tray with interest. Mm. Cookies. He wavered.

"If you don't want them, I know a few children who may-"

Dick didn't let Alfred finish. As the man bent down to pick up the tray he leapt out from the chair and pounced on the cookies. He stuffed three large ones in his mouth and choked.

"Goodness Master Richard, mind your table manners!" Alfred tutted and patted the boy on the back. He left and returned with a cup of hot chocolate. He gave it to Dick, who eagerly took a long sip.

"Now, why are you so angry that you don't want to play with your friends?" Alfred asked. Dick grinned.

"Bruce says it's not good to bribe people," he said. Alfred smiled.

"Master Bruce is a smart man," he said. Dick sat back on the chair, pulled his feet up and cuddled his knees to his chest.

"This isn't Christmas," he said.


"It's not Christmas. It's not right. Before, when-" he gulped "When my mom and dad were here, they were ALWAYS with me for Christmas"

"Ah, yes. But Master Bruce is busy with his work today"

"I know. But I wish he wasn't. I know he's not my real dad, but… I've never had nobody with me for Christmas. It's so lonely"

"But you could-"

"Friends are different Alfie!" Dick jumped off the chair and sat on the red carpet, staring at the flickering flames in the fireplace.

"Friends are people to have fun with, not to spend Christmas with. Christmas is when your whole family gets together and has fun," he murmured. He looked at Alfred, eyes brimming with tears.

"Bruce hates me, doesn't he?" he asked.

"Of course not! Master Bruce loves you more than anything in the world. What on earth made you think he hated you?" Alfred asked, shocked.

"Then why does he keep leaving? He never spends time with me. He prefers his work to me" the boy brushed a tear from his eye. Alfred's heart nearly broke as he remembered a little boy, only slightly older than Dick was now, sitting in exactly the same place, struggling to hold tears from his eyes. He put his arm around the boy.

"Master Bruce doesn't hate you. He's only a very busy man," he said. Seeing the boy was unconvinced, he sighed. He sat down on the sofa.

"Has Master Bruce told you? About his childhood?" he asked. Dick shook his head.

"As a child, Master Bruce always enjoyed his Christmases with his parents, who thought the world of him. Then one day, they were shot dead." Dick's eyes went wide. "Only a week later it was Christmas. He had no one to spend his Christmas with. The house was quiet, empty of all laughter and joy. And dark. It was very dark. I went to see him, and he was sitting right where you are sitting now. And he was crying. He was sad because his mother and father weren't there anymore"

Dick wiped his sleeve across his eyes.

"Poor Bruce" he said. Alfred nodded.

"Yes, and I was the only one that was there for him. But from then on, Christmas hasn't been the same for him anymore. He's lost the spirit"

Dick looked sad then perked up at the sound of the doorbell.

"That's him!" he shouted, excited. "He took time off work!"

"For you" Alfred smiled. Dick smiled back.

"Yeah… for me…" he murmured. He shook his head and ran for the door.

"Maybe I can get his Christmas spirit back!" he shouted. He opened the door and leapt at Bruce.

"Whoof! Who's this human cannonball?" Bruce joked. Alfred appeared at the door, a wry smile on his face.

"Master Richard, I think Master Bruce is already carrying enough goods," he said, gently removing the boy from Bruce's arms. Bruce dumped the parcels on the table.

"Wow! Did you actually take time off for me?" Dick jumped up and down, excited. Bruce suppressed a smile at the easily excited little boy. He rubbed Dick's hair.

"That's right," he said, grinning. He glanced at Alfred, who smiled warmly back and nodded.

"You're the best!" Dick leapt into Bruce's arms and hugged him tightly. Bruce choked.

"Could you loosen your grip, I'm suffocating…"

Dick hastily let go and dropped out of Bruce's arms. He looked at the huge pile of brightly wrapped parcels on the table.

"Are those for me?" he asked eagerly. Bruce frowned.

"Don't be selfish, these are for the children at the adoption center. They need it more," he said coldly. Dick's face dropped. Bruce grinned.

"Of course they're for you" he said. Dick squealed and dived into the pile, sending boxes scattering. Alfred moved closer to Bruce.

"That's a good thing you did for him Master Bruce," he said softly. Bruce smiled.

"I don't think I could have taken it if I hadn't. The boy's been through a lot recently" he replied.

"If I recall, there was once another little boy in just the same position?"

Bruce grinned as Dick exclaimed "Omigosh! A cyber-robot 14! How'd you know I wanted one?"

Bruce shrugged. "How could I not know what my own son would want?"

Dick's eyes shimmered with tears.

"Thanks Bruce" he said and hugged Bruce's feet.


Heh. Our relationship now definitely wasn't as good as it used to be. At least this time wasn't as bad as the last; if I recall correctly, it ended with 'I hate you' and he slammed the phone down on me again. The kid always had a fiery temper. I sigh. Christmas today. Hunh. I hadn't even noticed. The phone rings. I frown. Who would be calling me today? I pick up the mobile phone and flick it open.


"Hey, wanted to say thanks again for letting me off today" a familiar voice calls cheerily. I grunt. McGinnis. No wonder he was asking for the day off. I just thought he was feeling lazy. And since the city seemed fairly quiet, I let him off.

"You're welcome"

"I was wondering how everything was over there"


"On Christmas?" I can almost see the kid shaking his head. "Don't you have any family to spend Christmas with?"

Ouch. That hurt.

"Some people are lucky," I snap. Maybe I meant to sound cold. Maybe I didn't. I can hear a female voice.

"McGinnis! This is MY time!"

I hear Terry's muffled, apologetic, "Sorry Danes" then back to me: "Well, have a nice Christmas. Gotta go"

I can't help it. "Batman, bossed around by a female. What is this world coming to".

I hear Terry snort softly. "Speak for yourself, I recall hearing you had a thing for CATWOMAN"

Touché. The phone clicks off. I put the phone down slowly. Catwoman? Where'd he hear that from?

I walk upstairs, to the manor. It's quiet, and lonely. A typical home, for Batman. I wave my hand to get rid of the dust; I never did get another person to clean up. And I don't want to remember the incident with the vacuum cleaner. It was too embarrassing. I walk up to the attic. Dust has settled on everything, and a few corners have become cobwebby. I look around. This used to be my favorite place to play in, when I was a child. Suddenly I notice something that I had never noticed had been there. I walk to a large chest lying in the corner of the room. I kneel down and open it. Slowly, I take out a book on top of the pile of stuff inside. It's a photo album. I open it carefully and blow away the dust on the pages. It has pictures of me. Me as a child. There's a picture of me as a baby, being held in someone's arms. Was my forehead really that big? I turn the page. There's a picture of me, at around the age of three, hiding behind Alfred's legs, peeking at the camera. I flick through the pages, enjoying the pictures and remembering the past. I stop at a page. It has a picture of me… and my parents. I stare at the picture. My mother is smiling at me loving, holding me in her arms as I stare, wide-eyed and frightened at my father dressed in a Santa suit. I smile, then put the album down on the floor. Sitting down, I pull out the next item. It's the Santa suit, still in almost perfect condition excepting for a few holes here and there. I set it down carefully on the floor. I take out item after item, reliving memories. I was surprised to find a few of Alfred's possessions: a hideously drawn and colored picture of him (it looked more like Godzilla to me) with my name scrawled messily on the bottom, a small delicate gold wristwatch, apparently passed down to him by his father and numerous other items. I was even more surprised to find that most of his stuff was made by me. Made, not bought. They looked horrible. Finally, there are only three more items left. I take out the first one. It's… a robot? I frown. I don't remember this. I turn it to its back. Cyber-robot 14? I feel another pang at my heart and I put it down quickly. I feel around and pick out the next object. This one brings tears to my eyes.


"Glad you liked it" Bruce smiled. Dick grinned then ran off. Bruce looked at Alfred, puzzled. The butler shrugged back, his lips slightly upturned. Bruce suspected that he did know. The boy soon returned with a brightly colored… mess of paper.

"Merry Christmas!" thee boy chirped and shoved the paper into Bruce's hands. It was surprisingly heavy for a wad of scrunched paper. Even if it was a HUGE wad of scrunched up paper. He stared at it then looked at the boy's eager face.

"Thanks, uh… what is it?"

Dick giggled. "You haven't opened it yet!"

Bruce sighed in relief to himself then set to the difficult task of unwrapping the present. After five minutes of trying to unwrap the paper without ripping it, he looked at the boy helplessly.

"Uh… I think you used a bit too much sellotape"

"You can always rip it"

"Oh yes, why didn't I think of that…"

Bruce ripped and tore. Finally he managed to open it, to reveal a colorful, yet sloppily painted clay… thing.

"You like it?" the boy asked eagerly. "I made it myself"

"Oh Dick, it's… great. I always wanted a… uh…" Bruce glanced at Alfred, who edged closer.

"Bowl" he whispered.

"Bowl!" Bruce exclaimed. Dick beamed.

"And look, I even painted your name underneath!" he said happily. Bruce turned the bowl over. On the back were the words: Jo Bruoo, Morry X'mas. The man blinked.

Bruoo? He wondered. He looked again at Dick, watching him expectantly. He set the bowl down.

"Thanks pal" he said, and for the first time in a long time, gave someone a warm hug.


I read the same words again: Jo Bruoo, Morry X'mas. I later found out from Alfred that it read: To Bruce, Merry X'mas. Ironic, how I was supposed to be the World's greatest detective, how I could read and decipher almost any code or language but I couldn't read a small child's. I smile, remembering Alfred. That man's gotten me out of trouble more times than I could count. If it wasn't for him, I would probably be dead by now.

"And…" I chuckle, "he WAS the one who told me it was a bowl. And I was about to say paperweight."

I reach down and grope around for the last object. My fingers run over something crinkly. I take it out gently. It's a piece of paper. I take it downstairs to the cave with me to read along with the trunk and all the objects; it's too dark to read in the attic. I turn on the lights in the cave. Bats swarm out of it. Tough, my turn to use the cave now. I open out the paper. It's obviously quite old though well kept, the writing in perfect italic, the page yellowing. I read the writing, trembling. I had recognized it at first glance as Alfred's. I could almost hear his strong British accent, reading to me.

Dear Bruce,

Knowing you and how unobservant you are in your own home, I suppose by the time you find this letter I will have 'left'.

Yes, I have been collecting all these little items over time, of memorable moments. Some I have treasured as mine, some I have kept for you. I kept all the items I thought you might treasure the most, from your childhood onwards.

I suppose you will have wondered what my possessions are doing in the chest, and why most of them are made by you, not bought or given to me by another person. It is because out of everything I have ever owned, yours was the most valuable. Not valuable in the sense that it would ever be able to sell for a lot of money, or because it was a masterpiece, it was valuable in the sense that you made it by yourself with love and care, and that was what mattered the most to me. A person can buy anything he or she wishes to have with money, diamonds, jewels. But they cannot compare to something made with love by a child.

And now, I pass all these down to you. Over the years, I have felt that our relationship had become more of a guardian-ward relationship. It had blossomed into a father-son relationship. I watched you grow up with pride, and although I didn't always approve of your actions and activities (such as risking your life every night dressed in a Halloween costume) I didn't stop you, only helped you along. And so, now, I pass every priceless possession I ever owned, and every one you ever owned, down to you.

My son.

Alfred Pennyworth

I feel hot tears trickling down my face, the salt in my mouth. I hold the letter to my heart for a moment. It feels like it's about to burst. I stare at the letter again. My son. My son. The words spring out at me. After all those years, he thought of me as a son. And I never knew. I had feelings for Alfred too, of course, but I never thought…

My son. Alfred was always with me, supporting me, as I grew up. And he thought of everything I ever made for him as invaluable treasure. I wipe the tears from my face. My son.

I stand up.

I ring on the bell. I hear some clicking, the sound of someone pressed up against the door, probably looking through the eyehole. Then the door opens.

"Hello Bruce" a silver-haired man stands in front of me, arms crossed. Dick. I take a while to look at him. I haven't seen him for years; every time we talked he kept the screen off. He's kept the same hairstyle, though his hair has lost it's vibrant, energetic black and been replaced by mature silver and gray. His face is old, yet young. Wrinkles have formed around his mouth, probably from smiling, and a few on his cheeks and forehead. His eyes, though the same sky blue have lost the old flame. I can see his cheekbones; he's lost weight. He obviously notices my gaze, because he shifts uncomfortably.

"Did you come here to just look at me or talk? Because if you just want to look, take a picture" he snaps irritably. I take a deep breath and do what I've hardly ever done before: bite back my words.

"It's Christmas" I state simply. He stares at me in wonderment then shakes his head quickly.

"So?" he asks. I hold out something wrapped in dark and light blues, his favorite colors as a child. He takes it with trembling fingers, unwraps it. Well, tries to unwrap it.

"I think you used a bit too much sellotape," he says apologetically. I feel like grinning but keep my face blank.

"Wrapping was never my strong point. But you could always rip the paper"

Dick grins, lighting up his face and shakes his head. "No. It's too nice to rip"

After a while he gets the paper off, amazingly, in one piece. He takes out his present, with trembling hands, tears springing to his eyes.

"A cyber-robot 14." He takes its left hand and looks at the palm.

"Heh. 'Hands off, or suffer the consequences. You have been warned. Dick Grayson'" he reads out the inscription. His eyes fill with tears.

"Oh Bruce, where did you find this?"

I shrug. "To be honest, if it weren't for Alfred, I wouldn't have found it at all. He kept it in a chest in the attic"

Dick brushes his arm across his eyes.

"Darned dust, always getting in my eyes" he mutters. I grin. He stares at me in amazement.


"You're… smiling?" he says in disbelief. He looks up at the sky. "It is a miracle"

"Idiot" I say. My grin gets wider, so wide it starts to hurt. I can't help it. Dick suddenly slams the door and I hear footsteps running away. I feel shocked. I hadn't expected him to react that way.

"Things have changed" I remind myself then start to walk away slowly when the door slams back open again.

"Bruce! Where do you think you're going?" Dick calls, running after me. He takes two steps then falls face first into the soft snow. Snow? I hadn't even noticed it had been snowing. Dick gets up and it takes all my willpower to stifle a laugh. His cheeks flush a pale pink.

"Clumsy" he mutters, brushing himself off.

"Good thing I wasn't still standing on the doorstep, or my face would have been flatter than a pancake" I say, looking at the still hanging open door. He walks up to me and hands me a present.

"Merry Christmas" he says. I stare at it.

"Open it" he encourages. I open it easily; his wrapping skills have gotten better. Out of the present falls a lump of glass.

"I made it myself, earlier on the year. I meant to give it to you for your birthday, but…" he shrugs. "Do you like it?" he asks. I could laugh, he reminds me so much of the same eager little boy so many Christmases back.

"Of course, I always needed a paperweight" I say. His face drops.

"Bruce, that's a glass cup."

"Is it? It looks like a paperweight"

"Well, if you need a paperweight then I guess you could always use it as one…" he says, obviously disappointed. I laugh, startling Dick.

"Of it's a glass cup! Would I not recognize something my own son has made me?" I ask, smiling so hard it hurts. Dick looks at me.

"Son?" he asks, eyes shimmering with tears.

"Well yes, you're stuck with me for life. Sorry about that" I apologize. He flings his arms around me suddenly.

"That's not a problem with me," he says, squeezing the air out of me.

"Dick…" I wheeze. He lets go instantly then grins.

"Sorry about the present. I know it looks… hideous, and I know I should've gotten you something better, but-"

I wrap an arm around his shoulders, shocking him to silence. I'm full of surprises today.

"Dick, the most precious thing for a father is something his own son made by hand, with love and care. No jewel, or watch or…" I grimace "Tie, will ever be able to replace that. Besides" I take out something else "It'll go well with this"

Dick stares at it.

"Bruce, what is that thing? It's… horrifying"

"It's a bowl"

"A bowl?" Dick looks stupefied. He stares at the thing long and hard.

"If I recall, it was made by you"


I tip the bowl so he can see the bottom. He reads the scrawl at the bottom.

"Jo Bruoo, Morry X'mas". He looks at me. "Morry X'mas?"

"Look closer. There's something at the bottom I missed at first glance" I say. He takes the bowl from my hands and squints.

"L…Love… D…ick…" he reads slowly. He hands the bowl back.

"Wow. I made that ages ago" he says. I nod. He smiles, his eyes with a far away look.

"That was the bestest Christmas ever, wasn't it?" he murmurs.

"Best" I correct.

"So you thought it was great too huh?" he grins. I scowl and he smiles cheesily.

"Geez Bruce, it was a joke…" he mutters. I suddenly smile.

"We can still have a good Christmas this year" I say. He smiles and follows me to my car.

"Y'know, at a time like this, it's almost expected for you to give me a big warm hug" he says, getting into the car. I throw a snowball at his head.

"One thing at a time, alright? I'm not Batman" I grin.

Jake: OK, sorry you all had to read that trash, when I planned it out it ended so sweetly, but then it all went awry… Thanks to Opalgirlz and Dark_devillz for letting me borrow their account to put this fic on ff.net. And thanks again to Opalgirlz for beta-ing for me!

Opalgirlz: *blows nose, sniffles* Oh man, that was so touching… I would have just died to see Dick's face when Bruce said he needed a paperweight. But one thing: Morry X'mas? Jo Bruoo?

Jake: You know when you're little, your hand's not very steady? And when you botch up on something, you try to go over it to make it look normal? Some of the letters got turned into blotches, and Jo instead of To because his hands slipped on the T.

Opalgirlz: Ohh…