Chapter 2

Dick was too tired to cry or scream or hit something. He hadn't slept in days and although he wanted to lash out, he simply did not have the energy. He had nearly relocated to Gotham when he heard that Connie had died, but Babs and Alfred had convinced him to stay with his family.

So, in order to appease everybody, and therefore nobody, he had been commuting back and forth between Gotham and Bludhaven. Alfred was beside himself, though he would never admit it, and Tim had gone nearly as mute as Cassandra. Bruce had yet to leave the hospital and Clark had called him twice, expressing his concern for Bruce.

Dick wondered when he had become the go-to guy of the Bat family. He had thought that was his wife's job, but she had been more coordinator of street level efforts than soother of emotional wounds, lately. Apparently, he reflected, he had been elected peacemaker.

On this morning, though, he hoped his services would be minimally required. Dressed in a simple black suit, he looked towards his wife. She was dressed as conservatively, in black, as were the children. This was their first encounter with death and he had floundered when trying to explain to them exactly what had happened to Connie. Thank God for Alfred, he thought, who had stepped in and taken charge of that potential powder keg.

The funeral had been postponed a few days so her friends in Boston could make arrangements to be there. Connie had only been gone five days, but her absence had left an ever growing vacuum in the family. Sighing, he helped his wife usher their children down the grand staircase of Wayne Manor.

They had all arrived the previous night, so they would be there the morning of the funeral. Bruce hadn't made an appearance yet and Dick hadn't sought him out. Tim and Cass seemed to have taken to wearing all black even before the funeral and they had been rather taciturn, so he had stayed with his children most of their visit so far.

Alfred, dressed in a somber black suit sans tails, was waiting at the base of the stairs. For the first time in a long time, he actually looked his age.

"The kids are ready, Al. Where's Bruce?"

"He has yet to materialize, Master Richard," Alfred said as took one little hand in each of his. "I believe these little ones would be best served by helping me in the kitchen."

With that, he was gone with the children. Dick didn't particularly care what diversion Alfred had planned, so he didn't ask. Sighing dramatically, he turned to see his wife wheeling towards him from the elevator.

Her smile was thin. "Daddy said he wanted to come and support Bruce. They share grandkids, after all. And Clark and Lois are coming."

Dick groaned and covered his face with his hands. "This is going to be disastrous. Bruce is going to be pissed."

"He has friends," she said, her arms held palms up in a position of grudging acceptance, "what can we do?"

"About what?"

Dick turned to see Tim darken the doorway from the Great Hall. "Has Bruce shown up yet?"

Shaking his head, Dick put his hands in his pockets. "Is he even here? Maybe he's coming from the hospital."

"With all the press?" Tim asked, "Doubtful."

Cass was the last to come down the stairs, in a staid black pants suit and black button down. Saying nothing, she motioned towards the Green Library.

They followed, single file, towards the rarely used room. Dick forgot, sometimes, how many rooms there were in the Manor. They rarely occupied even a third of the great structures' many rooms. Beside the family suites, the kitchen, informal dining room and Bruce's study, most of the house sat empty and quiet.

The Green Library was not green, as its' name suggested. The carpet was a deep burgundy and Dick swore the stone columns along the walls were original with the house, though he knew that to impossible. Books lined the walls on all sides, broken up only by the columns and windows.

There were large tables along one wall and a sitting area with adequate reading light on one side. A small spiral staircase led to the open second story where the more obscure volumes were hidden.

The quartet sat in a group of leather armchairs, all save for Babs, who parked herself nearest her husband. Dick automatically took her hand and gave it a slight squeeze.

Cass reclined and crossed her knees, looking the picture of studied calm. "People will want to come here afterwards. Alfred said so."

"That's the general tradition. A luncheon after the services for close family and friends," Barbara sounded none to happy as she spoke.

"Bruce will not like it."

"Bruce doesn't like much," she retorted.

Shaking her head, Cass started to become frustrated with their lack of understanding. "He needs to be alone. He cannot…host."

"He doesn't have much of a choice. Connie's friends from Boston are coming in and it seems a lot of Bruce's friends are going to be there. People will want to show their support for him by being near him. It doesn't matter that he needs the exact opposite. And we can't very well ask the people that flew here to get back on a plane right after the service." Dick had sat forward in his chair, trying to explain to Cass the necessities of hosting a funeral.

Her scowl deepened. "They must not stay long."

Sighing, Dick gave up. "We can make sure Bruce slips away as quickly as possible. We'll be left to tell stories about a woman we barely knew and answer questions about a child we've never seen. Just relax, Cass, there's nothing we can do about today."

Tim winced at Dick's words. None of them had been to the Gotham General NICU, at Bruce's insistence. He had stated, unequivocally, that he wanted to be alone with the baby. He didn't know how they would explain to their guests that they hadn't even seen the child Connie had left behind.

Before Cass could mount another argument, Alfred appeared in the doorway. "We must be away, young Sirs and Madams."

When they arrived back in the foyer, Bruce was tugging Mary's coat on and explaining to James how long the entire procession would take. Dick couldn't suppress a small smile at seeing his adopted father be so gentle and patient with his children.

With few words said between the odd assemblage of family members, they started towards the limousine sitting in the driveway. Bruce had insisted that Alfred ride with the family instead of acting chauffer, and they all piled into the massive and opulent transportation.

After inserting themselves into the car, they stayed silent, save for the children, as they headed towards the grave site.