Chapter 10: Back Through the Rabbit Hole
AN: Holy crap! Last chapter! . I hope this lives up to all of your expectations and ties everything up nicely! ^.^ Just wanted to thank everyone so much for the support throughout these 10 chapters! Every time I would get an email from FF saying that someone alerted/favorited/reviewed, it completely brightened my day! XD
Dick smirks as Damian quietly stuffs his face with freshly baked honey oatmeal cookies. "I take it that they're acceptable?" The teen ignores him, reaching for the hot chocolate that had just been placed in front of him.
"Though I am happy to see you, Master Dick, this visit was quite unexpected." The elderly butler states, setting a steaming mug of coffee in front of the twenty-five-year-old acrobat.
"Sorry to just turn up on your doorstep, Alfred. You're cooking is the only thing I could think of that Damian would actually eat…and you really outdid yourself this time with the pot pies!" Dick beams, leaning back in the chair.
"You're always welcome here, Master Dick. No matter what universe you are from. Never let Master Bruce tell you otherwise." The alternate Batman chuckles, smirking deviously.
"Since we both know who really runs the manor."
"I have no idea to whom you are referring." Alfred states professionally, a familiar glint in his eye before walking off. Damian glances over to his older brother from his plate and frowns.
"You're still in pain." Dick pouts.
"You're a terrible liar, Grayson. Go lay down. I'm certain Pennyworth already has rooms ready for us. I would much rather stay here than that dreary cave those teenagers call a base." The acrobat rolls his eyes, taking a sip of coffee.
"I'm sure we're staying here…no doubt Alfred snuck some painkillers into my food. He knows how I am."
"Tt. Good. Then you're dismissed." Dick snorts, ruffling Damian's hair.
"How many times do I have to tell everyone I'm fine?"
"I looked at your chart. The bullet punctured your lung. Not to mention the fractured ribs, concussion, and fractured ankle. Don't do anything so idiotic again, Dick. I won't forgive you." The first Robin blinks, his eyes widening before a huge grin spreads across his face.
"You called me by my first name!" Pink lightly dusts Damian's cheeks as he looks away.
"Don't get used to it, Grayson. It was a slip of the tongue." Dick chuckles, pulling his younger brother into a bear hug.
"I think you like me~!"
"Shut up! I do not! You're merely tolerable as a partner!" Damian squirms in the hold, desperately trying to break free.
"I can tell you're lying! Just admit it! You love me~!"
"Where the hell would you get that moronic idea? Release me this instant!"
"Not until you admit it~!" The two jump at the sound of someone clearing their throat. They look up at the original Dark Knight, who was towering over them, his eyebrow raised.
"Am I interrupting something?" Damian shoves Dick away, huffing.
"Not at all, Father. I assume you have news for us?" Bruce nods, leaning against the counter next to his first adoptive son.
"Yes. I managed to get the necessary information from Warp to send you two home." Dick smirks, taking another sip of his coffee.
"I hope you didn't scare him too much." A dark glint flashes in the billionaire's eyes.
"Let's just say, he'll be enjoying his stay in Arkham…we won't be hearing from him for a long while." Dick rolls his eyes, setting his now empty mug down.
"Figures you would scare the piss out of him." His attention focuses on the doorway, where the current Robin was approaching tentatively.
"Um…can I please speak with Dick? Alone?" The alternate Bat eyes him and nods, gracefully sliding out of his seat, and walks up to his younger self.
"Well…this is a bit awkward…" The thirteen-year-old nods, leading the older acrobat to the study. He closes the door behind him, sitting over by the lit fireplace. The twenty-five-year-old follows suit, sitting across from him, making himself comfortable. "So…what did you want to talk about?"
"You're-…we're Batman…" The older Dick nods. Robin looks down, playing with a stray string on his pants. "I see…" Dick sighs heavily, running a hand through his shoulder length ebony locks.
"It's not what you think…you're worried that we become like him, right?" Robin nods, still not looking back up. "Well, don't worry about that. Yes, the mantle of the Bat is a heavy burden. More than we ever realize. It's juggling looking after Gotham, taking over leadership of the League, trying to piece what's left of our dysfunctional family back together, all while trying to make sure Damian doesn't wind up killing anyone. But, we manage…you see, we're not like Bruce. Nor will we ever be. The mission never comes before your comrades." Robin looks up at him skeptically.
"But, when I lead the team in the simulation-" Dick holds up a hand, stopping the teens' rant.
"You've never lead a team yet…you didn't know how to act, so you resorted to the way you only knew. To act like the leader you know so well. You became Bruce as a failsafe. Now that you know what it's like, you won't resort to that again. Take the time to think through the plans, and all possible options before making a decision."
"I did! The plan I came up with was the only one that worked!"
"No, you didn't."
"You weren't there! You don't know!" Robin gets up, his eyes watering frustratedly. Dick smiles softly, getting up as well, and walks over to the teen.
"No, but I know you. You're still young…yes, you have lots of experience as Robin, but not on a team. You've only ever worked with Bruce. Don't let the pressure of being the best get to you. Yes, we fail sometimes, but it happens. We're human."
"But we're leading metas! They expect us to be perfect! If I mess up, someone could die!"
"And sometimes, the unfortunate happens. They know you're human. People, even metas, make mistakes. The only thing you need to focus on, is being the hero we both know you are. No matter what, even through the hard times, remember who you are, Richard. Remember what we're fighting for. We're fighting so that no one ever has to suffer like we have again." Robin looks up at him sadly as Dick steps forward, wrapping an arm around his shoulder comfortingly. The alternate Bat pulls him into a side-hug, and turns so that they were both facing the portrait above the fireplace. He smiles up at the picture of their parents sadly. "They would be so proud of us…I know, you don't want the mantle of Batman…but we're our own hero. We're not Bruce's Batman. We're the Bat Gotham needs at the time." Dick ruffles the teens' dark hair before. Robin sniffles, leaning into his embrace.
"Remember. Don't lose yourself to the darkness. No matter how hopeless things seem, it will get better. You have people all around you who love you. They will always be there to help you up if you fall." Robin hugs him tightly, burring his face into his chest as he breaks down. Dick smiles softly, rubbing the teens' back comfortingly. "Shall we go prove to Bruce that I haven't murdered you?" The young bird laughs, pulling back, and wipes his eyes.
"I think some of Alfie's cookies are in order."
"You know it!" Dick chuckles, throwing an arm over the bird's shoulder, and leads him back to the kitchen where Bruce and Damian were seemingly having a stare-down. "As much as you want to, Little D, you don't have heat vision." Damian snaps out of it and glowers over at his partner.
"Don't be so childish, Grayson." He grumbles, hopping out of the chair. "Are we leaving now?"
"Tt. You and your bloody cookies." Dick rolls his eyes, leading the younger version of himself over to the plate of cookies that Alfred had conveniently refilled while they were away.
"Oh! Do you guys want to say good-bye to the team before you leave?" Robin beams excitedly, taking a cookie.
"Of course!" Dick cuts off Damian, smiling warmly. "They did manage to put up with this one for a few days without any causalities." He nudges his partner, who grumbles something in Arabic. "They deserve a metal!" Bruce coughs, trying to hide his chuckle as Robin nods enthusiastically.
"Ugh. Too many Grayson's." Damian grumbles, walking out.
Wally paces around the living room of the cave at Mount Justice as the others sit around on the sofa, waiting for the return of their bird. "Calm down, Baywatch. Ro-…Dick said he would be right back." Artimis sighs, crossing her arms. "I can't believe Robin is Dick Grayson!"
"He didn't want you to know because he didn't want you guys to treat him differently." Wally states softly, causing the archer to frown.
"Wait…you knew? For how long?" Wally looks away guiltily.
"A couple years…I was on a mission with him, and we ran into Zucco…he kind of lost it, and wound up breaking down after we caught him and explained everything….it was the first time I ever saw him cry…" The clone crosses his arms, his eyebrows knitting in confusion.
"He's the one who murdered Dick's parents…he was only nine-years-old and had to watch them die…that's why he became Robin." Wally answers as Megan looks over at him sadly. "He didn't want pity…Bruce really saved his life…I saw the orphanage they had him in…it looked worse than Arkham…it's a miracle he's still sane after spending a month in there…the stupid higher-ups at the orphanage took longer than they should have to get the paperwork together so that Bruce could adopt him…"
"Why didn't he say anything?" The martian's eyes water. "After we so carelessly talked about family in the past in front of him!"
"It's alright…you guys are part of my family now." They all jump, hearing the familiar voice of their bird.
"W-when did you get here?" Megan asks nervously, having not heard the computer announce his arrival.
"When Wally started to talk about Zucco." Robin sighs.
"He had no right to explain your life to them if you didn't want them to know. It's none of their business." Damian states, appearing behind him from the shadows. The speedster pales, taking a step back.
"Leave him alone, Little D…they were bound to find out anyway." The alternate Bat states, smirking as he steps out of the darkness as well. He slips his cowl down, beaming at the five teens. "Just wanted to thank you all for taking care of my little brother. I know, he can be a little bit of a brat, so thank you for tolerating him!" Kaldur smiles warmly, getting up from the couch, and walks over to the heroes of Gotham.
"I am glad you are doing well, Batman." Dick waves his hand dismissively.
"Please, call me Dick. Batman is way too formal." The Atlantian nods. "Well, we just wanted to say bye! Bats found a way to send us back home."
"Speak for yourself, Grayson. I didn't want to come back to this damp hell hole." Dick frowns.
"Be nice, Damian. They gave you food and shelter while I was MIA. Plus, they helped you find me!" He blinks, then spins back towards the darkness, suddenly remembering something. "Oh! What about the boys who helped me out?" Bruce emerges from the shadows.
"The Wayne Foundation found them a very nice foster family." Dick beams.
"Thank you! They really are good boys. They just need a home with someone to love them." Megan floats forward, giving the alternate Bat a hug.
"I'm so glad you're alright! We were all so worried about you! Especially Damian!"
"I was not, Green Woman! I always knew he was fully capable of handling himself. He's Batman." Dick sighs, smacking the back of his partners' head.
"Her name is Megan. And don't forget that she was the one who fed you." Damian glares, looking up at his mentor irritatedly.
"Are you quite done reminiscing with these incompetent teens?" Dick sighs heavily.
"Well, we should get going. I'm sure we've worried our friends back home for long enough." The others nod, stepping forward and give the alternate Dark Knight a hug.
"Nice to meet you, Damian…try not to give the other me too many problems." Robin states, ruffling the other bird's hair. Damian glowers, swatting his hand away.
"I never give Batman any problems. Any errors that occur during patrol is his doing." Dick sighs, grabbing Damian's cape and starts dragging him towards the cave entrance.
"Bye~! Nice to meet you!" Megan giggles at the other Bats' antics, waving at the two as the zeta beam transporter activates. The remaining Bat nods to the other teens.
"I expect a full mission report by tomorrow morning." With that, he heads off to the transporter with his bird as the reaming five teens groan in dread.
Dick and Damian glance over to the transporter as Batman and Robin arrive. "I just had to reconfigure the zeta transporter, and that will be able to send you two home. This trip will be far less painful than your arrival." Dick smiles brightly.
"Thank God for that! Being torn apart isn't very pleasant in the least." Bruce stiffens, suddenly wanting to go back and torture Warp further. He walks over to the Batcomputer and starts typing rapidly. Once the coordinates were set, he turns back to the alternate dynamic duo and nods towards the transporter.
"It's ready whenever you are." Dick hugs Bruce tightly.
"Thank you for everything…and it was so good to see you again, Dad." Bruce hesitantly returns the hug.
"Take care of yourself."
"Don't I always?" Dick smirks, stepping away from him. He squeezes Robin's shoulder comfortingly. "And don't forget what we talked about."
"I won't." He smiles warmly, heading towards the zeta beam transporter as Damian nods at the current dynamic duo before meeting up with his partner. The two get engulfed in a bright white light, disappearing.
"Oh my! Masters Dick and Damian! I was so worried!" The two look over as the aging butler quickly makes his way to the zeta beam transporter. "What ever happened to you? I contacted the League, and they didn't have any explanation for your disappearance!" Dick smiles sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.
"Sorry, Alfie…we ran into Warp, and he kind of transported us to another universe."
"You two have been missing for a week!"
"He was shot in the chest, Pennyworth. It's probably time to redress his wound." Damian states as he squeezes past the butler to head up the hidden staircase.
"Good heavens, Master Dick! What have I told you about being careful?" Dick glares after his younger brother as Alfred escorts him towards the infirmary.
"Traitor! Alfred, I'm fine!" Damian ignores him, disappearing upstairs. Yes, things were back to normal. Just as they should be. One Grayson was more than enough.
FN: Well, that's it! God this took FOREVER to write . kept staring at the screen, wondering what to write. Hopefully you all enjoyed~! ^.^ Thanks for reading!