It wasn't often that Bruce Wayne allowed himself to get what was considered a good night's rest. Normally, he ran off of three to four hours of sleep, just enough in his mind. If he happened to pull an all-nighter out in the city, he'd stroll into work looking rather exhausted, most of his employees blaming his heavy yawns to a night of too much partying or maybe a late business meeting. Sometimes he didn't even sleep; he just mediated or read a book in his office to regain his energies.
He'd been doing this for some time now, so a slight disturbance in his regularly active nights made catching a few extra hours of sleep seem almost unbearable.
But, tonight was one of those rare nights where Gotham City was relatively quiet and could spend a night with out her Dark Knight scurrying over rooftops. Green Lantern had volunteered to patrol the infamous city so Bruce could spend the majority of his evening attending his ward's special honor roll student dinner. And though the dinner had only lasted until nine o'clock, Alfred insisted that Bruce and Dick hang up their capes for one night and enjoy some well deserved rest. He even scolded Bruce when he had tried to sneak down to the cave to do some mild work to his suit.
Dick, however, had taken the offer with what seemed like pure excitement, running to his room going on about some video game he'd be dying to try out with a few friends from school (though Bruce had a feeling it was with Wally). This left the billionaire alone in the living room, unable to retreat to his precious cave and forced to find other means to occupy himself. His dark hues scanned over his vast library collection and after a few moments of careful selection, he picked up an old favorite and headed towards his chair near the fire place.
At first the idea seemed great, until thirty agonizing minutes dragged by and he found himself bored. He set down his book, his attention torn away from the reading and refocused on the slight rumble of thunder traveling around the manor followed by the bright flash of lighting dancing outside the windows.
Bruce turned his head towards the window, a few specks of rain being thrown upon the large glass, and found himself lightly strolling over to see the growing storm. A few more louder and larger crashes of thunder echoed around the vast building. The rain grew heavier, and with in seconds, Bruce found it difficult to see past the rapidly pouring water.
The rain had always been something that stirred up memories inside the man, both good and bad. He narrowed his hues at his reflection, his thoughts trailing back to one particular rain storm involving a scared little boy. So frightened and alone as the rain fell down his emerald uniform... as the police kept him from seeing the crumpled bodies of his fallen parents... as Bruce stood outside that colorful tent wishing he could do something—
"Enjoying the peace and quiet, Master Bruce?" came Alfred's humble voice as he walked into the large sitting room, a tray in hand, and smiled at his employer. "Well, excusing the recent storm."
Slightly startled (but would never admit it), Bruce turned around giving a half smile towards his butler. "You didn't have to do all this, Alfred." Bruce took a few large strides across the grand room to help his friend with the drinks and snacks he was bringing in. It was only after he cleared off a near by side table for Alfred to rest his tray upon, that he answered the English man's previous question. "Slightly bored," he admitted quietly running a hand through his slicked back hair.
Alfred shook his head placing the silver tray upon the side table and began opening up the small jars of sugar and sweets surrounded by a pair of tea cups. "Bored, sir?"
Bruce gave a slow nod as he eyed the tea. "I must have read through these books a dozen times, Alfred. I may just call it a night."
"Ah," the older man smiled. "Get some well deserved sleep. You've certainly earn it, Master Bruce."
Delicately picking up one of the tea cups, a set Bruce's mother had received as a wedding gift from his father, the billionaire exhaled sharply looking back at the steaming cup of tea listening to the rhythm of the rain bounce off the manor. Slowly, he took a sip, uncomfortable that Batman would be retiring at such an early hour. Alfred, as always, sensed the disapproval in the man and began to make light conversation. Bruce, as always, appreciated Alfred's impeccable way of making any situation seem bearable.
Instead of reading or dwelling on unpleasant thoughts of the rain, Bruce and Alfred exchanged stories from Bruce's youth between sips of tea and cookies. It wasn't until one particularly loud crack of thunder disrupted their talk that Bruce caught a glance at the grandfather clock from across the room. It was two o'clock now. Time had certainly flown.
"I think I'll be heading to bed now," Bruce decided as Alfred glanced out the window at the howling storm. "Have you seen, Dick?" he asked wondering where his ward had been all night.
Already cleaning up, Alfred replied: "Last I saw, he was in his room, sir. He said something about going out with Miss. Gordon I believe."
Bruce turned his gaze towards the window. "In this weather?" the billionaire frowned. "I'll go find him. See you in the morning, Alfred."
When Bruce had reached his ward's room, he was slightly surprised to find Dick absent from his room. He stepped in curiously, the sounds of thunder surrounding the house, as he checked Dick's bathroom which was also vacant.
"Dick!" Bruce called out, eying the unopened bottle of water and bag of chips curled up near his gaming console and television as he lightly closed the bathroom door behind him. The kid had intended for this scene to look like he been here recently, but, being the World's Greatest Detective, Bruce knew that this was for show. Where had he slipped off to? Had Dick really gone off to see his red headed crush in this weather? The detective briefly wondered if the acrobat had slipped past him and Alfred earlier in the evening to use the cave's vast gym instead, using Barbara as a cover story. Bruce knew his ward well enough to know how much the boy loved his acrobatics and often felt cramped or trapped when in a room for too long. Bruce often felt the same.
"Dick?" he called out again, unsure why he had knowing there was no one to be found in the room. It wasn't often that someone eluded the Batman, but if anyone did, Dick did it well.
Sighing, Bruce pulled out his phone and gave in, simply deciding to call his young charge and see what troublesome activity he was getting himself into this time. The older man let out unheard sign of relief when Dick answered on the other end, which Bruce noted, was on the last possible ring. But there was a sheepish rush to his boy's voice. Raising a brow to his ward's embarrassed tone, Bruce already registered that Dick had indeed gone out for the night with Barbara Gordon. He heard the older girl whispering in the background.
"I know you're with Barbara," Bruce said in his usual monotone cutting off Dick before some strange excuse could be made. He could heard fumbling on the other end, from both Dick and Barbara, his parental instincts kicking into high gear. "You weren't planning on staying out all night, were you?"
"N-No." Bruce could hear the guilt in his boy's voice. "I was going to come home when the rain stopped."
"And if it didn't?" the older man coolly asked.
There was a stumbling silence as Dick tried to answer. "Well, I... didn't really think that far ahead."
"Right. I'll be there in fifteen."
"No, it's okay. Babs said she can drive me home," Dick returned confidently. "So I'll be home in fifteen."
Bruce gave a thinned grimace, ending the conversation as he retreated back to his own room. He liked to think of himself as a semi-decent parent. He was strict with Dick when he needed to be, but also understanding. Although lately it seemed like Dick's teenage rebellion had been kicking in. Or maybe that was influence from Wally West since him and Dick were now working together more frequently. Bruce made a mental note to talk to Barry about Wally. Or maybe he'd just talk to Wally himself...
Right on time, as Bruce relaxed in the vast sheets and pillows that made up his bed, he heard Dick unlock the large front door downstairs and quietly close it behind him. There was no pause or lingering at the door confirming to the Bat that Dick had said his good byes to Barbara in the car
The older man sighed. What was he going to do with that boy? It seemed like only yesterday Dick was just talking about making tree forts and complaining about how dumb and annoying all the girls at school were. And now he was... well Bruce didn't know what his ward was doing, but he sure knew Dick wasn't complaining about the girls anymore. Bruce idly wondered if these types of concerns would be different if he had gone through this early phase himself. He had been so bitter and wrapped up in the idea of revenge and training to care about things like these when he was Dick's age.
He'd talk to Dick about it in the morning. Right now his body was calling out for a bit of rest.
Bruce rolled over hearing Dick's voice followed by a shy knock on his door. He hadn't even heard Dick come down his hallway. "Come in," he called out.
Slowly, his large mahogany door creaked open, revealing his ward standing there looking rather afraid, timid and, to Bruce's concern, completely drenched. Bruce immediately sat up, his dark hues glancing back at the teenager with worry. It had been a few years since Dick had knocked on his door so late looking so discouraged. "Dick?" the billionaire inquired with concern. "Are you alright?"
Hesitantly, Dick rubbed his arm sheepishly, some of the water on his jacket dripping onto the carpet, his cerulean hues glued towards the floor. "I... I'm sorry I left with out really telling you," he confessed in a mumbled whisper.
Instantly, Bruce felt his heart melt watching the boy nervously linger in the door frame. Bruce motioned for Dick to come closer. The acrobat carefully took a few more steps into the master bedroom, his dark and dripping bangs shielding his pale features. Bruce's face tightened watching his young charge apprehensively stop at the end of Bruce's bed.
"I thought Barbara drove you home? You're soaked."
Dick nodded. "She did but... I told her to stop at the gate," the teenager. "I... I wanted some time to think by myself."
Bruce was by Dick's side in what seemed like an instant, his large hands peeling off the smaller's soaking wet jacket. He tossed it aside with out a second thought, uncaring that the expensive carpet could end up ruined. 'What were you thinking about?" the detective asked carefully as he retreated towards his private bathroom and grabbed a fist full of freshly washed, fluffy bath towels from the nearest rack.
"The... the rain."
When it came to the traditional way of raising children, Bruce definitely wasn't like other parents. For one, most parents wouldn't ever want their child to dress up and be a super hero. And most parents hadn't introduced their children to some of the terrors that Dick had seen. Bruce had always felt that by showing Dick the reality of things and taking a direct approach, that it'd help the kid understand, help him over come any fear. But Bruce was no stranger to his boy. He knew what memories the rain brought for Dick.
Bruce gave a understanding smile, wrapping the towel around Dick tightly. There was a brief flash of relief in the teenager's features, he took a step closer towards his guardian.
"Let's get you into something warm, alright?" Bruce nudged for his ward to follow him. Nodding in agreement, Dick trailed after Bruce, his bottom lip trembling as he worried off into the distance of the hallway.
Bruce was much more relived as soon as Dick had changed into his pair of pajamas and wasn't shivering. Dick was drying his hair in a towel, slowly grabbing at his hair while Bruce watched protectively. "Are you mad at me?" the teenager asked, his eyes darting over his shoulder as he watched Bruce sit like a gargoyle on top of his bed.
It took a while for Bruce to even register that question. Mad? No, not at all. Slightly disappointed in his ward's judgment of semi-sneaking out of the manor to spend time with a girl? Yes, but mostly because Bruce was starting to realize that Dick was growing up and he was quite used to that, not yet anyway. Giving a gentle smile, one that no one could ever think the infamous Batman could even produce, the older man patted the free side of the bed next to him encouraging his boy to come closer. Shaking his head free of any remaining water, Dick followed the gesture, his tiny frame hardly making a dent on the bed like his mentor's was. Bruce watched with mild amusement as the teenager brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them; a habit Dick often did when he was younger and usually when he was in trouble.
Bruce finally answered the question as Dick nervously fiddled with a lose string at the bottom of his pants. "I'm not mad, Dick. I was just slightly worried. You could have just told me instead of discreetly hinting to Alfred that you were leaving," Bruce rumbled out knowingly, a slight ring and smile in his voice.
Dick buried his face into his knees, restlessly avoiding Bruce's eyes. "I didn't discreetly tell him... I... well..."
Bruce clapped a hand on his shoulder. "You were afraid I'd say no."
Oh, the look that Dick made let Bruce know he hit the nail on the head with that one. It took the acrobat a few moments to find his voice.
"I... it... yes... but, I had to get out of the house, Bruce," Dick acknowledged, his eyes now meeting with his guardian's as he dropped his legs and allowed his feet to sink into the carpet. "I knew it was going to rain tonight, and usually it doesn't bother me. I can forget about it. But, tonight I just felt... alone," Dick disclosed, his head slowly tilting and resting upon Bruce's strong shoulder, uncaring how little he felt anymore. "At the dinner tonight, everyone was with their parents. It... hurts sometimes, seeing families together. The rain just made me... remember. It's stupid. I know— "
"It's not stupid at all," Bruce comforted, shifting him and his boy back against the array of pillows to make sure Dick was comfortable. He firmly made sure that Dick's head remained on top of his shoulder. "The rain made me remember tonight too."
Dick's cerulean hues blinked back up at Bruce softly. The billionaire kept a straight face glancing back down at Dick, carefully shielding him from any invisible demons that Dick's eyes kept darting around the room looking for.
"You have nothing to be embarrassed by," Bruce reassured him.
"I'm not... embarrassed. At least I don't think I am," Dick began, struggling for a moment to form his thoughts into words. "I guess tonight I realized something. I take Robin for granted," the acrobat confessed, causing his mentor to tilt his head in curiosity. "I use that costume to hide my fears. I... I like to pretend sometimes that I'm not Dick Grayson, that I'm just Robin. It makes things better... sometimes. I don't have to think... think about them."
Bruce knew that feeling too well. That feeling of hiding from yourself. It was a heavy burden he carried on his shoulders day and night and to see this child, no, his child with this weight, Bruce felt guilty and ashamed. He often questioned if bringing Dick into this life was a smart decision. The boy has been so insistent, told him why he deserved it. But now, seeing that boy turning into a young man, Bruce knew he hadn't just deserved it; Dick had earned that mantle, earned the right to help others escape the same fate they shared. But Bruce feared that the acrobat was losing himself in this persona, like Bruce had done years ago.
No, Bruce would not watch his child stumble down that long road. There was one thing Dick needed to get clear about Robin, something he needed to remind his son of: "Robin wasn't created to forget Mary and John Grayson, he was made to embrace them. To make sure that the world knew that despite their tragedy, they still left a gift to this world. Robin was created to inspire hope, Dick. To create memories, not to forget them."
He heard the hitch in Dick's breathing, felt the shiver down the boy's spin, heard the muffled sob he tried to hide.
Bringing his arm underneath Dick, Bruce pulled his boy into a small embrace, allowing Dick the chance to relinquish his fears, his anguish, his sorrow. Dick returned the hug, his face pushing right into Bruce's stone hard chest, uncaring that he now felt embarrassed. "I hate the rain..." he mumbled out as his mentor brought his hand up onto his back, massaging gentle circles in an up and down motion.
"I hate the rain too."
It was in those few minutes as Bruce Wayne narrowed his hues up towards the ceiling, that his thoughts trailed back to one particular rain storm involving a scared little boy. So frightened and alone as the rain fell down his expensive suit... as the mugger ran off and out of sight leaving behind the unmoving bodies of his parents... as Bruce cried besides the spilled pearls of his mother's necklace wishing he done something—
Dick's voice, barely above the octave of a whisper, snapped the man back into the present, his arms still wrapped protectively around his young charge. The teenager gave an encouraging hug, his dark hair brushing underneath Bruce's chin. "Make sure you don't forget."
"What Batman stands for."
Bruce smiled. "You're always there to remind me."
Author's Note: I love Bruce and Dick fluff. Hopefully, it wasn't too much. I know it was kind of a slower paced story, but it's been stuck in my head ever since it started raining this morning. Rumor has it (it is just a rumor) that Batgirl may make an appearance in the show, so I'm looking forward to that hence my little added Babs cameo. Drop a review and let me know what you think! Love to hear from you!