Disclaimer: The awesome of Batman and Robin is amazing. Unfortunately I have no claim to either of them. DC comics does.
*sigh* after a month or so working on this, it's almost a shame to see it end. Yes this is the last of the 'Meeting Robin' series. And though Alfred's known Robin all his career, there's one thing he hasn't really done.
It was nearing five years since the arrival of Richard Grayson to the Wayne household. Over four since Alfred found he had two boys to patch up nightly from their adventures. He knew all about Robin. He helped design and make the boy's costume, nearly every version of it. He watched him train day and night. He fed him and held him when he needed it. He did his best to make sure the child hero survived.
He just never approved of Master Richard going out every night, risking his life when he should be sleeping soundly in his bed.
Though Alfred knew very well making the child stop was impossible, he had hoped the boy would calm down, maybe even quit the business, after a few months. Instead, the first few months seemed to solidify the child's need to bring justice to Gotham. It didn't help that Bruce brought his work home with him and trained the boy constantly. Everything from martial arts to languages to the sciences was covered in the manor, and the two were very apt students.
But it was that same training, that same boy, which made the Batman a more cautious in his nightly endeavors.
Over the years, Alfred had feared his surrogate son would suffer the fate of his parents and die a senseless and violent death as a vigilante. The broken bones, the lacerations, the burns, the bullets, all the scars the man came home with broke the old man's heart. He kept himself composed and did his best to patch the grown boy up, but the pain and worry never lessened.
And when the young lad decided he wanted this life as well, proving to the both of them he couldn't be stopped, the fear doubled. He did not want to lose his son and grandchild to this world.
But then the miraculous happened. There were nights, many nights, where the only injuries either suffered were bruises and small cuts. Batman was becoming careful, methodical. He didn't rush into fights near as quickly as he used to, thinking first of Robin and what he could endure. He plotted out routs and safety zones so the boy could find help when needed. Emergency protocols were implemented. More and more armor was added to their uniforms, Robin's especially. And only if a particularly frustrating villain was on the loose did the two come home after one am. And in those cases, Batman typically put Robin to bed earlier to keep him safe before going back into the field to take the psychopath down.
Yes, Robin was saving the Batman from a painful and lonely death. All he had to do was be there.
Then there was the other benefit of having Richard in the house. He was always smiling. A light in their otherwise dreary lives of death and self destruction. Dick would smile, laugh, say silly jokes and play silly games. As he grew older, he started doing childish pranks, but none to drive them away. He gave them both random hugs and run away laughing. It was one of his many games, one he'd never out grow.
The effect he had on Bruce was amazing.
At first the Billionaire didn't know what to do, but once the Batman secret was out and Bruce was able to relax in his home again, his over all kindness peaked through the dark wall he built around himself the night of his parents' murder. He struggled as a new parent would, but Richard's forgiving and loving nature made it easier on them both. Until the boy was nearly eleven, he occasionally slept in Bruce's bed, an act the man would never do himself when he was grieving. Dick kept asking questions, telling stories, and over all demanded his new father figure's attention in small childish ways.
The manor no longer felt like a tomb, but a home. A home where a boy ran through the doors to show his new family excitedly his latest test scores. A home where displayed on the mantel were art projects and handmade gifts were displayed. A home friends of all sorts would visit and discuss matters of both business and pleasure. Yes, Richard made this place a home, and even brought light into the deepest regions of the bat-cave.
Yes, with this boy around, Batman became a lighter figure, one the Justice League listened to and obeyed when needed. He became patient, thought of others more, and most of all, he thought of what would happen after the mission was completed. He trusted the League more and allowed for their inexperience when they did something deemed foolish. He became their trusted ally instead of a scary resource. Batman was even their friend.
Robin's presence did much for the dark knight, lighting his way down the right road to justice.
That's not to say their life together was an easy one. Robin was beaten within an inch of his life almost a dozen times in Alfred's opinion. Well, once in truth, but once as enough. Alfred could almost see it again, the night a broken Batman brought home a beaten bloody boy. His voice nearly broke Alfred's heart. "I think I killed him."
Batman wasn't the boy's assailant, but rather Two-Face. Judging from the wounds, Alfred surmised they were made by a baseball bat. The boy had been tied up, and so was Batman. Both were beaten badly, and the man emotionally more so than the boy. He had no choice but to watch helplessly. Some of the man's wounds came from breaking the bindings on him to save the boy. It was up to Alfred to really save the boy's life. Bruce refused to be treated until he knew Dick would be alright. He didn't leave the boy's side until he woke up.
Most of all, he wouldn't let Robin fly again until Two-Face was behind bars and the boy made a full recovery, plus more training. Alfred approved of benching the young lad, but the boy could not be stopped. He even ran out again with his suit to prove it. Batman and Robin seemed to never stop working.
Even now, while watching the thirteen year old practice in the gym with Bruce near by, Alfred could see the impish loving child inside him. After every few twists and turns on the bars, he'd glance at Bruce lifting his weights. They were just taking a break from sparing, but mostly they were just wasting time.
Today was the day. Alfred had to remind himself again and again it wasn't a bad thing. Richard was growing up. Time could not stop. And knowing how stubborn the boy was, if he wasn't guided by the League, he'd probably run off and make his own team. He'd include his friends of course, then maybe add a few others he'd run across on his way. Yes, today was the day the boy would start being acknowledged by the world at large he was going to be his own man. Batman couldn't stop him, he could only make sure the boy was safe when they were together.
But the boy was growing up. In another five short years the lad would be an adult. Three years after that and there would be little they could keep him home with. Emotional ties would be the only bindings left between them all. Alfred only hoped they were strong enough.
Bruce rested the weights he was using and sat up, wiping his brow free of sweat. He watched Dick from the corner of his eye, making certain the boy didn't lose his grip and fall. Alfred knew he gave the boy as much freedom as he could, but always made certain the boy was safe. Bruce was just as scared of losing Dick as he was of losing his parents. And Alfred knew Dick felt the same towards Bruce. It was hard to believe he hadn't yet adopted the boy officially when it was clear they thought of each other as parent and child.
Still, no one pushed a relationship between them. Everything was a choice. Bruce chose to be Batman and fight crime. He gave Richard the option of living with him. Dick chose to be Robin on his own. They worked together because they wanted to, they enjoyed it. And yet they hadn't chosen to make their emotional relationship official. Twas sad indeed.
'Hmmm….' The butler thought. 'I believe it's time to bring up adoption again.' Alfred had mentioned it a few times to the two, and both seemed hesitant to comply. Bruce didn't want to take the place of Dick's real father, and Dick didn't want to force Bruce into a position that made him feel uncomfortable with the title. Neither seemed to admit they already were father and son.
This is what pleased Alfred the most. Despite Batman being the scariest and bigger-than-life hero in the League, he was always first and foremost a father. When the other Leaguers had children to care for, he was the one they turned to for advice. Strange really since he struggled so much trying to raise Richard. He'd abandon the League in a heartbeat if Robin was in danger. He'd enlist their help should Richard be taken from him. Both had happened, and each moment terrified the man.
Yes, Bruce would always be a father to the child. And it pleased Alfred to no ends.
Silently he slipped beside his employer, talking quietly to make sure the boy couldn't hear him. This was for Bruce Wayne's ears alone. "Master Richard has grown quite well these past few years don't you say?"
Bruce nodded, taking a drink from his bottle. Alfred continued. "He's brave, noble and quite ingenious. Any man would be proud to have him as a son.
"You've done well on Mr. and Mrs. Grayson's behalf," he added quickly before Bruce could object for the couple's sake. The butler gave him a slight knowing smile before continuing. "And he has done well for your own parent's behalf."
"Alfred?" Seeing the confusion coming to the man's face was quite amusing, but the gentleman wasn't trying to tease him at the moment.
"I still cannot quite approve of the two of you running around on rooftops, exposing yourselves to such dangers Gotham provides." Alfred could tell Bruce felt guilty from the reproval, but the man hid it well. The young man always wanted the butler to be proud of him.
And he was, always. "But never will I say having Master Richard at your side is a bad thing. Never was I prouder of you than the day you took him in and a family once again resided in his house. I can only pray some day a lady may find permanent residence here in the future."
Slowly Bruce smiled, turning his gaze back to the ground. These were the words he had longed to hear from his parental figure. Batman was one of few words and even fewer complements, and that he learned from Alfred. He smirked at the thought of a woman staying with them. "We'll see."
Bruce stood up, signaling to Dick training was over and it was time to head out to DC. Quickly the boy leapt off the bars and to the floor, just a yard away from the two men, grinning as always. "It's time?"
"Almost," Bruce answered. "Hit the showers and get changed. I'll meet you in the cave."
Dick giggled in anticipation and practically ran out the door to get ready. Alfred watched after the boy. No, not a boy. Not anymore. The child he'd come to love was growing up, becoming a fine young man and even greater hero. Silently the butler wondered how the young teen's future would progress. He still didn't like the two going off to get shot every night, but so long as they were together he learned to worry less.
After all, they were Batman and Robin. The dynamic duo. Father and son.
A/N: yeah, Alfred never quite approved of Robin, nor told Bruce it was alright to take Dick out there into the field with him. I bet he still wishes they'd pick a safer life style, but being the man he is, Alfred will just do everything he can to help them anyway.
Thank you all so much for reading 'Meeting Robin'! To see how he first met Kaldur, read 'Get Back Up' ch. 7 traitor. And I'm going to put his first time with Hal in 'Worst Days Ever!' when I get to writing it. I love writing about him growing up I guess, and YJ's Dick is just so much fun to play with, so look forward to my other works! YAY FLUFF!