A/N: There are two pieces to this, but since they're so dissimilar, they're separate one-shots. I kind of meant to write the other one first, but I forgot it and wrote this instead so… whoops…?
Inspired by Ivee Waterlilly's incredible story "Erasing Everything and Rewriting It". Seriously. Read it. Greatest FanFic I've ever read.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything at all.
There were moments when Bruce would find his son just lying there, feet kicked up in the air, fingers linked behind his head, blue eyes hidden behind pale lids. And those were the dangerous times.
The boy had a habit of reminiscing each year around the holidays or near the anniversary or on his birthday. Any significant time of the year was generally the most dangerous. No one would know it unless they'd lived with him throughout all those periods of time to see how he'd grow quiet and gentle and closed. He'd shut off of the charm and the arrogance and just be Dick. The quiet kid who had lost his parents.
The billionaire had lingered in the doorway a bit too long, a nanosecond too long, and had been spotted. He didn't cringe nor flinch, but he could already see a question on the horizon. Something insightful, something painful, something sad, tragic, terrible. "Yes?"
There was a pause. Dick kept his feet up in the air, eyes tracing the outline of his sneakers against the white ceiling. His hands remained laced behind his head, black hair brushing his palms. "Do you think..." He seemed to wince a bit but continued strongly. "That there could be another dimension out there? One where... One where they aren't dead?" And Richard's irresistible baby blue eyes found his foster father standing in that doorway a bit like a deer in headlights.
Bruce wasn't afraid. Far from it. He was just stunned that his ward was capable of coming up with such thoughts. It was just out of nowhere, almost pulled out of a hat at random. This was what Dick did in his spare time and that was what scared Bruce more.
The topic... was a touchy one. There was always the right thing to say and the wrong thing to say. He would know; he'd seen both in all of his orphaned years. You don't say stupid things like "It'll get better." because it really doesn't get better. You always say "They'd be proud." That's what you're supposed to say. And you never, never speak their names aloud. It only makes it worse.
"I'm sure there is." Bruce stayed in the doorway, just outside the room. Stepping in would mean committing to this conversation. He didn't want to do that.
There was another pause, but Wayne could tell this wasn't over. He continued to linger just outside the door, watching his ward's cheeks for tears, listening for the next question.
"Do you think that they're... we're..." He wasn't sure how to word this right. Mathlete, sure, public speaker, no thanks. Wording things properly was the key to everything. "...happy?" Why ask? Because he needed reassurance that his life would've turned out fine if the other path had been an option. His heart held a bit of hurt at that moment, his mind pondering the thought of what would've happened had something else controlled his life. Not Zucco's actions, but his own choices.
"I'm sure you are." Reassurance. Reassurance would make the kid's world go 'round. That was the way these games were played, with a careful mind and constant vigilance. "You'd still be traveling the country, I'd assume."
Dick mulled over this thought for a moment before expounding some more. "But I wouldn't be Robin. And I wouldn't have met you." He pulled one hand out from under his head to scratch his neck for a moment before replacing his hand once more. "And I wouldn't be able to live in Gotham."
Bruce gave a little smirk, happy his son wouldn't see it. Not like living in Gotham was the highlight of his life. It was a crime-infested war zone with the stench of sewers and the rot of trash.
Still, he answered, "You wouldn't find any of this life appealing in that dimension. You wouldn't know any of this existed. Robin wouldn't exist, you wouldn't need me, and Gotham would remain just another stop on the map."
Quiet. Then another question. "What if I'd died instead?"
This was deeply troubling for Bruce. Deeply. He'd heard this topic come up once or twice before. "What if it was me instead of them?" He'd played with the thought a few times himself, thinking of his own parents and the mugging that had gotten them killed. He hated having that thought himself, but a child, an innocent child, his son, with the same line of thinking...
"Dick." He waited until those precious cerulean eyes were on him before continuing. "Everything will always happen for a reason. This dimension is for this Richard. If this Richard hadn't been destined for Robin, you would have died too. But you needed to be here." There was no other logic. That was what Alfred had told him all those years ago, the loyal butler always making the world so much simpler over tea and scones like the miracle worker that he was. "You have to put faith in that."
"And what if, in another dimension, your parents hadn't died?"
Bruce didn't want to talk anymore. Now he could feel that the kid was just prying, practically pleading for a chance to go to another universe where he existed, where he could see how his life could've gone had his parents lived. Bruce gave his simple answer. "Batman wouldn't exist."
"What if my parents had died and yours hadn't?"
Now he was going too far. "Dick-"
"You never would've taken me in, would you? There would be no need to. No connection." His blue eyes closed again, a bit angry at himself for thinking all these ridiculous thoughts. None of this even existed within this realm so what was the difference? "I'd still be at that orphanage with-"
"It shapes our futures, our destinies, all these little things." He moved one hand and ran it through his locks of pure ebony. "Just look at all the different ways I could've turned out." Dick shook his head sadly, eyes still closed, mind still dark. "I could be Robin, I could be an orphan, or I could be a Flying Grayson." He took a deep breath and let it out, a heavy sigh being purged from his lungs. "I just wonder, that's all. All those other dimensions, all those possibilities..."
A/N: Just needed to put it all down. I mean, this is only a small spectrum of Richard Grayson's possibilities, but… Just the slight change…
P.S. Huge thanks to Ivee Waterlilly for being such an amazing writer. Go read her story.