~2 nights ago~
"So you just let him wander off again despite his punishment," Bruce growled as he stood in front of his elderly friend. It hadn't been long ago since he came home just to discover that Dick had sneaked out again. More than that, Alfred had actually assisted him in his rebellion. He was the last of people Bruce would expect to help his ward contradict discipline.
"What would you have me do sir," the butler questioned unphased by Bruce's anger. "Hold him at a gun point to stay put?"
"No," he mumbled as he slid his mask over his tightened face that held the night's weariness all over. "I'm sure the criminals can take care of that for you."
"Dare I ask where you're going?"
"Where do you think," growled Bruce as he stormed off to his Batmobile. "I'm finding Dick before another gunsman has a bullet through his thick skull."
"No need for that, Master Bruce. Master Dick has already returned to his bed with his thick skull in perfect condition."
The Dark Knight stopped in his tracks and turned around to Alfred. His brown eyes held the attention of the butler's blue challenging the situation of the boy. "You're hiding something too, aren't you?"
"Indeed, sir. Alas, as Master Dick had requested, it will remain a secret."
"Alfred," his acrimony echoed slowly in a growl. "I need to know what's going on-"
"I do not believe you do," argued the butler. "If the lad had been normal then I would full-heartedly agree. However, if you give the boy the obligation to fight for justice, then there is nothing wrong with him proceeding to do so."
"But, I don't even know what he's doing, where he is-"
"Do you trust him?"
"Don't go there; he's done things before."
"Yes; he must absolutely not be trusted due to his previous activities," Alfred concurred in sarcasm. "Saving innocent lives and honest businesses is doubtlessly the most reckless habit a boy his age could possess. He is absolutely unworthy of such trust."
"Behind my back," Bruce finished for him. "As partners, we made a deal to work in TRUST! If he can't do that, perhaps he has misunderstood his priorities as Robin."
"Trust doesn't work for just one person, sir."
"What are you trying to say..?," he asked as he withdrew his long cape from his broad, sore shoulders.
"How many times has Master Dick not been given the honor of knowing where you were going?"
Bruce hit him with a herd glare announcing his bitter attitude for a 'lecture'.
"What do you suggest I do then? Let him wander around Gotham unamare of where he is? Alfred, if I hadn't been there the very second the gun was aimed at him last night-," he stopped unable to continue with emotion of worry.
"As is the case on practically every other night. I do believe that was a comitment you two agreed upon when your crusades were created."
A hard glare was thrown at Alfred for his logic that the elderly man used as a weapon. It was difficult to argue with the man because he was so skilled in his knowledge. Still, there were always flaws in his arguments. Not knowing what Dick was doing probably wasn't the most parently attribute to have. But then, parenthood limits had different meaning for the Dynamic Duo. Hardly any parents would allow their kid to swing around on buildings with only a grappling hook to keep them from falling. The real problem was debating weather or not to allow him to fight alone. The biggest hope Bruce had for keeping Robin alive each night was knowing that he could always be there to catch him, or fight by his amature side. The real question was: could he trust Dick enough to fight all on his own?
"I have to know what's going on if I can intend to allow him a solo mission." Apparently, he couldn't.
"Then you should talk to the boy instead of pressuring me to inform you of his actions."
He had a point. But, Dick was less likely to discuss it than Alfred. At least Alfred could see Bruce's point of view. Dick was far too stubborn to open his eyes to anything more than his own reasoning.
"...I suppose I have no choice," grumbled Bruce as defeat slithered into his mind. Clearly the best way to figure out the best way to settle this was by communication. Something that Batman and Robin lacked strongly .
"Five more minutes," an exasperated Boy Wonder slurred out to his disturbance of sleep. The warm bed's company pleaded him to stay, and who was he to deny the offer? Especially after such a cold and cruel night on the hateful streets of Gotham.
"Dick," Bruce began announcing to Robin that it wasn't Alfred whom was calling.
"Mind if I have a few words?"
Dick stayed lying down but had removed his face from smearing all over his pillow. He lay on his back staring at the ceiling and cogitating allowance for Bruce's ennterence. Then again, there wasn't exactly a question toned in his asking. It was pretty common anyways for Bruce to ask a question with a tone of a direct order. One might say he had a way with words.
"Sure," he yawned as he swirved onto his side refusing to sit up. The door creeked open as a man in a T-shirt and $500 jeans walked into the room. Funny how one person's aura mixes into the mode of attitude in the room. Bruce was good at that too. In fact, the feeling of seriousness almost tempted Dick to sit up...almost.
Bruce found his way to the edge of the bed and seated himself upon the layers of thick, heavy blankets that buried half of Dick's body. It had actually been a while since Bruce had sat there. He wasn't exactly always the best conversationalist...unless it was serious. And, based upon the purple blended bruise on his ward's left cheek, it was serious. "Look," he began trying to sound somewhat caring. "I know that I've been somewhat ...harsh...during the last few days..."
Dick interrupted Bruce's understatement for 'harsh' with a raise of an eyebrow.
"Anyways," an irritated Batman continued. "I think all I need to know is that you could stay in contact with me on your ...mission. I doubt I wouldn't let you go. So does Alfred. But, I do need to know what you're doing. If something wrong happens, if I could help, I'd need to know at leat where you are and what you're doing."
"I told you; I can't," Dick replied in purely exhausted voice that didn't even have the energy to look him in the eye.
"So Alfred agrees," Bruce whispered to himself holding his frustration as well as he could. "I'll tell you what," he decided as he bent down to make Dick look him in the eye. Dick, though resistant at first, couldn't help but be swallowed up in his stern brown-eyed gaze that could hold a gorrila in it's place. Once the boy's attention was firmly held, Bruce continued. "You don't have to tell me where you are,or what you're doing...just where the suit. I won't track you- I promise. The suite monitors your heart-rate. If it becomes too slow, then I'm coming in. But, if you think you can handle yourself, I won't stop you."
Finally, Dick somehow came across the energy to shoot him in a sitting position with interest. "You mean it? You won't check in?"
Bruce looked down at the floor considering if what he said was something that he could hold his word to. It took a while. It was a lot to promise, but if Alfred AND Dick believed what he was doing was right, he should probably agree. "...Yes." His head rose again to Dick's wide-opened crystal-blue eyes. "As long as I know that you're alive,...I trust you."
Dick's expression was just that of a child coming down to behold a moutain of presents on Christmas morning: priceless. A large smile flew across his face as he hugged Bruce's neck in joy of his hard-earned trust.
"Thank you," he whispered winning his mentor's approval.
"Isn't this great Alfred," Dick proclaimed as he spoke to the butler washing dishes in the kitchen. "I mean, I don't have to worry about his intrusion, and I can actually work with his approval in mind!"
"It is absolutely incredible, Master Dick," Alfred responded with his natural dull tone. "Don't touch those cookies."
"Yes, sir," Dick laughed as he removed his hand from hovering over the plate full of Christmas cookies. "Still, I mean, this is probably the only present I could get that would actually like come close in competition to all of the things for me."
"Although I believe that this 'present' is absolutely wonderful, I doubt it is the only gift you've given Bruce worth wild."
"Pffft," Dick laughed as he leaned against the counter. "Yeah, right. I've given a billionare an incredible present that he couldn't possibly get for himself."
"You're here are you not?"
Dick's eyes spread in shock at the consideration that he could actually be considered something worth wild. For a long time, when he had just moved into Gotham, self-esteem felt impossible to gain when he was considered a worthless charity case. For a while, he found it difficult to live with Bruce and not 'earn' his right for shelter, food, and education. After all, he had grown up working for his right for such things. And, that was when he had parents that cared for him. Then, he was suddenly shifted into a situation where a man, who appeared to never be able to love him the way his parents did, gave him more than his parents coud afford for doing-nothing! It was imbearable at times-feeling worthless. If it hadn't been for Robin assisting his crusade, and earning his right to stay, he was sure he would have run away by now!
But, hearing Alfred refer to him as an actual gift, an actual blessing, was a sweet taste that he had never before heard in words. He tried to act humble and shrug off the compliment, but it was just so sweet to hear. "Yeah well," Dick began as if it was no big deal. "I try."
"And, just as every other thing you try, you accomplish it above the limits," Alfred smiled turning to Dick and noticing the smile the boy struggled desperately to hide with twichering cheeks.
"'kay, well, uh- I better go y'know get back to his present," Dick replied exiting the room.
"Very well, Master Dick," Alfred answered washing a big pot. "And, on your way out, you may return the cookie in your pocket back on the plate."
~1 night ago~
Bruce sat at the Bat-computer completing the title of a typical worried parent. His permission for Dick to go out solo was beginning to throw back regrets to the Dark Knight on the decission.
"What if he needs help," he asked Alfred who was calmly dusting the gigantic penny casting it's shadow over Bruce's dark figure. One might believe that the question was somewhat random. But, not for the two men in the cave. Both had the subject of Dick's mission on their minds. It dwindled in the air unspoken of until this point.
"I believe Master Dick has a communicator he may use in the need of danger," reminded Alfred helpfully.
"A bullet takes less than a second to go off," Bruce mumbled aloud.
Alfred replied with his classic eye rollings. Bruce had a way for creating a moody setting- even around Christmas. "You have trained the young man for the past five years. I imagine that your mind may be eased if you would share the confidence I have in him."
"I guess..." A wind whispered it's echoes across the broad cave replacing the laughter that filled the walls by Robin. It was odd having such silence in the cave. It only worried Bruce more...especially if one click of a trigger caused the silence to remain permanent. It took such a small amount of time for death to hit his ward. That small amount of time could not be reached by the mortal Batman. "You're not worried at all about him?"
"Master Bruce, I tend to relieve myself of worries better when the matter is not mentioned so many times."
Bruce chuckled to himself as he returned typing in new model ideas for the Batarangs. "You have an interesting way of asking me to shut up, Alfred."
"Dare I ask if your vocabulary has been adapted by Master Dick's?"
"Maybe," Bruce smiled. The two gentlemen continued their night in tranquil silence...that is, until Dick came home. The only problem was..he wasn't alone.
"Mr. Kent," Alfred announced at the sight of his far away presence. "What unexpected pleasure do we owe-"
Then, the image became more clear to both of the men. Superman's cape was wrapped around a small figure whom he tenderly held as he walked into the scene.
"Bruce, I-," Superman began until Batman shot off of his chair and to the figure he knew was under the bleeding cape. He hesitantly uncovered a layer of the cloth to reveal his boy with blood splattered on his small face. Slowly (so very slowly) the figure was placed into Bruce's strong and protective arms. Silence roared it's sorrow through the cave as bitter reality bit at Bruce's mind.
"What..happened," Batman asked his voice low between the tone of pain and anger like a lion being shot in the chest.
"I-I'm not sur," Superman admitted. "I was flying around looking for a last minute gift-" (Last minute meaning that he had finally gotten the nerve to get Louis a Christmas present.) "When my super-hearing picked up an abandoned storehouse crashing near the docks...Dick was in it..."
"You're faster than a speeding bullet, yet you can't get Dick in time to save his life," Bruce asked in growling manner of anger centered towards the man of steel.
"Bruce, I'm sorry," he apologized sympathetically looking at the bleeding boy. "I tried to rush-"
"Apologies won't save his life," Batman roared letting out the rare amount of emotion that he expressed. "You either help me stop his bleeding or go back to your Metropolis!"
The three men dashed towards the medical table and lied Dick on quickly. Bleeding was clogged (mostly in the small chest) with ace bandages to stop the leak of blood dripping across the floor. As his back was elevated by a pillow, it felt as though they were wrapping a (hopefully) live mummy. Hot water was swabbed onto his tender skin mixing in with the sticky, wet blood. When the wash rag slammed back into the bucket of warm water, the colors of red and grayish-blue swerved together into whirlpool of a gruesom mix. The same basic steps were repeated on the boy. Washing off blood, strapping him with bandages, checking for the pulse, washing off bandages, strapping him with bandages, checking for a pulse, washing, strapping, checking, washing, strapping, checking, wasing, strapping,-blue eyes gaping open.
"Master Dick," Alfred rejoiced as washing his cloth was put on pause.
"Alfred...? " Dick's voice was raspy and weak as it broke through his blue lips. His eyes unconciously scanned the cave to identify the figures aiding him. "Superman...? Bru-?"
Reality shot him harder than a bullet as scattered pieces of reality were mentally fit together like pieces of a puzzle revealing the danger of the current situation. "Bruce!"
"Save your energy," Bruce warned gently pushing him down in amorous care.(something that Bruce normally burried under his tough figure) "You had a pretty hard fall.."
"Fall...FALL! Bruce, I'm not done yet! I have to finish-"
"You're not finishing anything! You were just on the very edge of losing your life so don't you dare think that you're going anywhere!"
Dick bolted up off of his pillow and onto his knees. "But, Bruce I just need one more night! All of the hard work is done-one more night and I'll-!"
"NO! Not even one second more! Yoy've proven that whatever you're doing is far too dangerous to-
"I sad NO!"
"I have t-"
"I can't t-"
Clark and Alfred stood baffled trying to keep up with the words cut off in an argument of half sentences blurred together and being shot loudly at each partner of Gotham.
"You're going to bed. NOW!"
"Bruce, you have to let me go tomorrow! You just have to-!"
"Look at yourself and even try to imagine me allowing you to do that! You look like you've been through a thrasher!"
"But, Bruce, you said that I could!"
"BEfore you come back needing to be aided for life! How can you expect me to let you go out again after tonight? What even happened in the storehouse?"
As always in defeat, Dick's answer was acerbic silence to dawn in the oppression of such a position as this.
"That's what I thought," Bruce responded to the obvious voiceless admit of the boy's loss.
To continue the wordless end of the argument, Dick had no choice but to follow Bruce to his room.
"Can I ask what's going on here," Clark requested once the cave was cleared of the bitter two.
"Mastr Dick is finishing Master Bruce's Christmas present," was Alfred's simple answer.
"Christmas present?" Clark retorded. "Dick was almost killed- Bruce looked just about ready to blow a fuse- what kind of present is that kid getting him?"
Alfred turned to Clark with a stare of solemn seriousness. "Peculiar gifts for peculiar people. Yet, I can assure you- the gift that the young master wishes to prepare may be the best gift anyone could ever give."
As we left off in the beginning, Bruce was looking desperately for Dick. Of coarse Bruce didn't leave the boy's room unlocked. In fact, he had just about smeared the whole room in cameras,alarms, and locks. But, then out of all of the security hidden in the room, there was one thing Bruce had forgotten...
Dick was a classic ninja.
"Master Bruce," Alfred called in to the communicator on the car.
"I'm here, Alfred."
"I thought you should be relieved to be informed that Master Dick has just returned safe and sound."
The Batmobile screeched to a sudden stop. "(sigh) I'm on my way home." This kid seriously liked to pull his nerves like a boy would do on a puppet. He had checked on the cameras in his room to see how he was doing. When he noticed he was gone, worry consumed his frantic mind into scanning Gotham from the inside out. Christmas Eve was a peaceful time for most on the streets, but then again...this was Gotham. For hours he had searched every corner every door in the screaming, icy wind with no clue where Dick would go. When he tried to convince Alfred into telling him what the boy was up to and where he would find him, the butler refused with dignity. Typical of Alfred.
Now, he recieves a call back that Dick is just fine and dandy. He really should be thankful for such news...there was just something agrivating about working so hard to keep an eye on the boy when he always slips away and back to the mansion without so much of a notice from Bruce.
Shadows of the Christmas chill twisted into absurd shapes lingering over Gotham's Guardian. The elevator leading up to the mansion seemed unbearaly slow for Bruce as he awaited to see Dick's safety for himself.
As the door opened, Alfred awaited for the master outside of the elevator.
"Where's Dick," Bruce rushed to the point.
"Right on the couch, sir. Peacefully asleep as usual."
Bruce zoomed to the couch near the Christmas tree (that Dick had demanded on getting several weeks ago) and checked on the boy still wrapped in bandages from the previous night.
He really did look peaceful- the absolute definition. A soft smile spread on his tan skin that had the fire's flames reflecting on his body. A thick, festive blanket lied on his tiny body that looked hardly touched at all. His ebony hair, darker than the night, tousled all over his face. A small lock found it's way down to Dick's ski lift nose. His nose responded by twiching off the hair as a small sneeze escaped his nostrils.
Bruce couldn't help but smile. Although the boy drove him crazy at times, it was difficult to stay mad at him. Even though he didn't know what was so important that he had to sneak off all of these nights. But, it didn't matter. Dick promised that this would be his last night and Bruce trusted the boy with his life.
The boy slowly turned over onto his back as something slipped out of his hands and onto Bruce's lap. It was a brown folder splattered with a small amount of blood. It had a green glossy bow tied to the cover with an eleven year-old's hand writing printed with:
An astonishment spread in his eyes at the curiosity.
"Master Dick found it absolutely essential to gain only the best gift for you," Alfred smiled in the corner of the room.
"This is what he was after," Bruce asked raising the folder to signify it as 'this'.
He looked at it for a minute and then back at looked at it once more...then at Dick again. "He risked his life for a present?"
"I do believe that 'it's the thought that counts' fits perfectly into the situation."
He looked at it once more and then once again at the Dick. "What is it?"
Alfred rolled his eyes at the stupidity of Bruce's knowledge of Christmas. "I'm certain that is the point of opening it, sir."
Oh so carefully, he pulled off the string curious on what was so special about this gift to Bruce.
Once the folder was opened, Bruce felt as though his eyes would remain glued to the picture printed on the paper. That picture- that face...that face he was sure he'd never forget. That face of-
A loud shriek of the old Grandfather clock announced the arrival of Christmas
He felt he would tremble out of his skin by the reminder of Bruce's parent's murderer. He couldn't believe it. He just couldn't believe it. He had battled aliens, monstors, robots, and his own clone, but this- this felt impossible to grasp on reality. After all these years of hunting down this man- on his thirsty desire for vengence on this man- Dick- his son- had done it for him? To say this was merely a Christmas present was like saying Joker was just a clown. It was a miracle!
He read further on the file proving his capture.
Name: Joe Chill
Blood Type: 0+
Date Apprehended: December twenty-fourth
He looked back at at Dick and couldn't believe it. A gift of justice. That kid knew him better than most anyone...and after risking so much. His life, trust...Bruce fought back a tear threatening to slide down his cheek.
"Bruce," mumbled half-awake. "Merry Christmas..."
/` /` ! Finaly done in time 4 Christmas! K' so I had this idea stuck in my head 4 a while and
/ ` / ` !
/ ` ` !_ now it's written! :D Reviews are appreciated and have a merry Christmas, Quanza, Hannakah 'n
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/ ` ! all that jazz! (prbly didn't spell most of those holidays right)
/ ` erry Christmas, !_ veryone! :)