Thank you all SO much for your lovely reviews! It really warms my heart.
TheGrayson – I am thinking about doing a 'birds and bees' chapter, just thinking about how to incorporate it into the story.
This little plot bunny was actually thought up before the first chapter, but that one had a clearer vision in my head, so…
Anyway, Robin is a mere 8 ½ in this chapter, although it is a continuation of the last chapter…it makes sense in context.
To be perfectly honest, in the back of his mind, Bruce felt that he should really have seen that coming. As horrifying as it was to even think about.
Because Dick has made no secret of the fact that he wants to make Bruce, or rather, his man, happy. That he appreciates everything that Bruce has given him; the world that he's opened up for him.
Dick adores him, and Bruce can proudly say that he feels the same.
But dammit, that boy's going to be the death of him one day.
Assuming he's not arrested first.
A year and a half ago…
Bruce leaned back in his seat and stared out through the window to his right, not-quite-pointedly ignoring the bespectacled reporter sitting across from him. But he wasn't simply pretending to drift off; his mind truly was somewhere else. At home, in fact.
He hated leaving Richard home alone.
It wasn't nearly as bad when Alfred was at home with the young boy, but he had several errands to run throughout the day today, many of which he couldn't bring a child along to. Both men trusted Dick to manage himself for the few hours that he would be alone, but…
It was leaving him that was the problem, for Bruce anyway.
It was days like this, where Alfred made their breakfasts and was out the door before either of his masters had finished eating, that Bruce hated.
On those days, as he left, Dick would walk him to the door. He would hold Bruce's hand and chatter on excitedly about whatever currently held his fancy as he padded along quietly in his tiny bat-symbol slippers and silk pajamas. As they neared the door, Dick would release his hand and hang back, watching as Bruce exchanged his black slippers for shinned shoes and pulled on his coat. And when Bruce faced his new child again, the boy would smile and wish him a good day.
But on these days, the smiles didn't seem to completely reach his eyes. Dick would stare at him with those wide and slowly blinking blue eyes with an expression that reminded him of that of a young kitten.
Where are you going? Why are you going away? You're coming back, right?...right?
And it freaked him right the hell out.
It made him want to gather to boy in his arms and tell him that they were moving to Disney World…or something equally implausible, but he knew better. So he would simply pat Dick on the head and force himself to turn away from the stare.
Bruce blinked, only slightly surprised, and turned his attention back to the Daily Planet reporter. Clark tilted his head slightly, a small smile appearing on his face. "Wanna move this to your place, then? Doesn't look like you're going to be of any use to me here." He said with a chuckle.
Bruce frowned slightly, the thought of going home being the only thing keeping him from scowling outright. He scoffed softly, feigning indifference. "Suit yourself." He vaguely remembered that Alfred would have stopped home by now, if only to prepare a lunch, so at least Dick would have returned to his normally happy self.
They arrived at the manor not long after, Clark regaling him with the details of his rescue of a woman he personally thought must be a little suicidal, if not outright crazy, for all the times she needed rescuing.
They had entered the manor and were removing their coats and shoes when they were greeted by a happy sounding, "Welcome home, Bruce!"
Bruce smiled to himself as he removed his second shoe and looked up to greet his son, smiling more happily than he liked for Clark to see.
Only for his smile to freeze on his face. His mind had quickly shut down and he twitched slightly.
His son, his eight-year-old very-much-a-minor son, was wearing a short black and white maid apron while holding a small tray with tea, the newspaper and a pastry on it.
And nothing else.
The boy closed the distance between them, actually sashaying as he did so. Stopping just a few feet away, his eyes narrowed and he smiled warmly up as his father, clearly happy with himself. "Welcome back! You must be tired. Would you like a massage?" he cooed.
He was not hyperventilating. Nope. Bruce – Batman – did not hyperventilate. He was simply breathing deeply as a lung exercise. That's all.
Clark stared down at the boy with wide eyes. He turned slightly to Bruce to ask what the hell this was all about, but…while the man was sort of smiling, Clark could feel the panic coming off him in waves. In fact, he seemed more shocked by this whole thing than Clark did. Though whether that was out of innocence or the fear of being found out, he didn't know.
Noticing that his sometimes friend didn't seem like he would be capable of speech anytime soon, Clark chose to break the silence. "Um…hello, Dick. That's…that's a pretty apron. Why are you wearing that?" he asked conversationally, his inner reporter kicking in.
Dick turned to him, as if only now registering his presence (which, to be honest, was slightly insulting. He was Superman, after all, and Dick knew that), and smiled widely up at Clark, unintentionally absolving himself of all crimes. He spun around lightly, managing not to spill so much as a drop or crumb, while also showing the men that, yes, he was indeed totally naked.
No shame at all.
"It's how great men should be greeted upon returning home." He chirped.
Clark nodded, keeping his smile warm. "Oh? And who told you that?" he asked.
Dick blinked up at him and tilted his head. "No one did. I read it in a magazine. 'The Top 10 Ways to Make Your Man the Happiest Man in the World.'" He said, as if this was something Clark should know already.
Clark stood up straight and laughed loud. That was actually pretty cute. He was just happy that Lois hadn't been with that today. His laughter died immediately at that gut-wrenching thought.
But it was enough to shock Bruce's mind awake. He blinked slowly and looked down at his son, instantly remembering what had made him black out in the first place. Dick met his gaze and gave him a wide, though somewhat uncertain smile. "Um…you don't like it?" the boy asked.
Bruce's heart clenched and he opened his mouth to tell the boy that that wasn't true, that he looked adorable in whatever he chose to wear…but realized that that really wasn't the point.
"Where did you get it?" he asked instead.
"From the same place Alfred gets his uniforms. I got it over the phone." He said.
As if hearing his name being called, Alfred entered the foyer, greeting his master and his guest with a smile before his eyes landed on Dick. The man blinked slowly, seeming to take in the entire situation within seconds.
In a flash, his swallow tailed coat jacket was off him and falling gently over Dick's shoulders like a blanket, the top hole being buttoned by Alfred from behind as he bent over the little Robin.
"I've been thinking that it is about time for Master Richard to begin his schooling. I've already set up appointments with several quite renown scholars, all of whom would be honored to tutor the son of Bruce Wayne." He said conversationally.
He hadn't. All three adults knew he hadn't. But the message was clear. We cannot leave this boy alone. He is freaking resourceful.
How had he even gotten a hold of that number? Let alone convinced someone that it would be okay to deliver a maid apron to a male child?
"Excellent. I've been thinking the same." Bruce said, finally managing to calm himself down enough to smile normally. He knelt down to look at his son at eye level. He reached out a hand and placed it gently on Dick's head.
"And you look adorable."
He could feel Clark's knowing smirk burning a hole into his back; he knew he would never hear the end of this, heaven forbid he told someone in the League; he knew that this boy was going to give him a heart attack one day. But he also knew that he loved the way that his son's face lit up with complete and utter joy; he knew he loved the way those tiny arms felt around his neck as the boy hugged him, up on his toes with his forehead pressed against Bruce's, wide blue eyes narrowed in mirth.
And as he smiled – grinned – back at Dick, Bruce also knew one thing:
Happiness had a name.
I was listening to Undiscovered by James Morrison at the end of this and it really affected my writing. This actually ended up much longer and sweeter than I had imagined initially, but I'm pretty happy with it. I hope you all enjoyed it!
Also, I only read these things over once (if at all), so let me know if there are a bunch of mistakes. I could use a beta.