We Move In Reverse

Dick had grown alarmingly over the course of the last few days, and so had the rest of the Cave. Dinah had offered to sit down with each of the kids individually to talk them through the trauma, and it was a logical choice for multiple, reasons since she's close enough to them that she knows their ways and that they trust her, but far enough where she can approach them more effectively.

But Bruce can't deny how much he had wanted to talk to Dick himself about everything, especially since the artificial reality had been his suggestion.

He feels terrible for thinking of it in the first place.

Sure, he knew at the time that it was necessary, that it was only preparing them for the future. He just hadn't predicted that the entire thing would grow as intense as it did. None of them had.

Dick had left Dinah a while ago (he saw it on the monitors) and made his way into his room at the Cave, closing the door behind him. He knows Dick likes to have the time to process everything alone, and normally Bruce would give it to him, but there are also times where Dick needed him without realizing it.

This would be one of those times.

He tells Captain Marvel to keep an eye on the monitors and leaves before the man has a chance to form a response.

The door is only opened an inch when he gets there, and Bruce knows to walk in. Dick used to do it all the time after missions and patrols when he wanted Bruce to come in and close the door behind him, so that's exactly what he does. Dick is lying on his back with his shades on the pillow beside his head, and Bruce sits on the edge of the bed and peels back his cowl.

They sit in silence for a few minutes when Dick finally mumbles, "None of us are mad at you or anything, for what… happened. We know it was an exercise and that you… We're not mad."

Bruce nods. "You have the right to be, though. Especially you, after I promised that I would never…"

"I'm not mad, though." Dick's eyes are watery when he opens them. "I know you didn't mean for it to get so out of control."

He shifts a little, sitting up and wiping his eyes with the heel of his hand, and Bruce runs his fingers through his hair like he did when Dick was nine. "I just… When you were telling us about it, I tried to prepare myself for the worst-case scenarios, out of habit, I guess. I tried to keep my cool and stay focused and do my best to get through the situation, and it actually worked for the most part."

Dick lets out this uneasy breath and Bruce drops a hand on his shoulder and squeezes.

"But the thing is now I don't… I didn't… I could never…"

He never usually has trouble finding his words, and really, that's what breaks Bruce, what makes him pull Dick to his chest and wrap his arms around him. Dick cries a little harder.

"You can tell me," he says, and Dick has always known this, but Bruce knows he needs to hear it again to get this all out. "You can always tell me."

"I don't want to go through that again," he finally yells through his own tears, hugging Bruce back tightly and curling his fingers around the material of his cape. "It was like some sort of switch in me that I could just turn off… that made my friends become like… like pieces in some twisted chess game for me to use and I can't… I never want it to be that easy to not feel again. I'm never switching it off again, Dad."

"I'm not going to make you, Richard," Bruce whispers. "That's something you don't have to learn to do again."

"But you… you make it seem so easy and I… I mean," he shakes his head, "I'm not trying to say that you're cold or heartless or anything, because you're not—I know you're not—but…"

"The last thing I wanted was for you to become like me, son." Dick blinks in surprise, looking up at him. "I feel everything, but I can turn it off just as easily when I need to because that's how I survived. It took a lot of pain to get to where I am. If you have come to the point where you have to feel like that, Richard, then I've failed you as a father."

"You haven't, Dad. Not at all—"

"Never turn it off," he whispers. "I don't want you to bring yourself to become me, son. I want to be proud of what you become. I am proud."

Dick nods and hugs him tighter, burying his head into his father's shoulder.

A/n: Sorry it's so raw and quickly written. I just needed to get this out of my system because Dick's confession to Black Canary shattered my heart. All I wanted to do was hug him; actually, all of them.

"Disordered" was several steps down from "Failsafe" (which was ultimately relief, honestly, because my heart won't be able to take another episode like that for a while), just enough to make me laugh but still make me emotional. I'll probably be writing a quick one of Wally/Artemis because the shipper in me just needs to, and maybe one with all of them, within the next two days. It really just depends.

So you read it. Love it? Hate it? Please review it!