A/N: Wow! Over 200 reviews! Thank you everyone SO much! you don't know how much it means to me. Also: for anyone who has reviewed or sent me a PM, I'm really sorry I haven't replied. I forget to check my fanfiction messages so I'm sorry about that!
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I'd like to thank the wonderful KKCopper for betaing this for me! Go read her newest story! Its filled with adorable Robins and Daddy!Bats.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Dick didn't like silence. It was too quiet. Without any noise it was almost impossible to tell what was going on – and that scared him.
He glanced sideways at the man sitting next to him. Batman's face was unreadable, but his hands were clenched around the steering wheel in a death grip. He was leaning forward and his shoulders were tense. Batman hadn't said a word since he'd gotten into the car.
Dick opened his mouth then closed it. He was scared to break the silence. He didn't know what Batman would do. He would probably be furious with him. Dick had disobeyed him so many times tonight. He hadn't listened to him at all. That wasn't what a partner would have done. Dick doubted he would ever get to be Batman's partner now.
In fact, he'd probably be lucky if he even got to stay there! Bruce probably wouldn't want him now. He'd send him back to the orphanage. Maybe he'd lock him in the Batcave and never let him out again!
Dick began to sob. He covered his head and buried his face into his knees as he curled up. He was too confused right now. He should be happy. He'd taken down Zucco and saved Bruce from the Joker, but at the same time Bruce had also gotten hurt because of him… Heck, if Bruce hadn't been able to stop the Joker because of him the entire city could have been destroyed! Not only that but he'd disobeyed him and Alfred. Dick didn't know how upset Bruce was with him. He was almost scared to find out.
Bruce glanced over at the crying child in the seat beside him. He wanted to say something. He knew he probably should try to comfort the boy, but he wasn't sure how. He was fairly sure that however he acted towards the boy right now would be wrong. He wasn't sure what he would do – weather it would be yelling or crying or anything else - so he pretended to ignore him and just looked straight ahead, his hands clenched tightly against the steering wheel as he tried to ignore the pain in his back.
They pulled into the Batcave without any more words being said. As soon as the car stopped, Dick jumped out, rushing away from the angry bat.
"Master Richard! Oh thank heavens!" Alfred cried in relief as the six year old ran into his arms with a sob. The butler wrapped his arms around Dick tightly. "Don't you scare us like that again!"
All the tears Dick had been holding in during the car ride bubbled up at the man's words. "Imi pare rau!" He sobbed. I'm sorry.
His hands gripped at Alfred's suit and he pressed his face against the fabric. "Imi pare rau! I'm sorry! I couldn't let Zucco get away though. He couldn't. I'm sorry I disobeyed you! Please don't make me leave!" His sobs dissolved into mumbled Romanian, "Îmi pare rău. E vina mea. Îmi pare aşa de rău. Va rugam sa nu ma face sa plece. Îmi pare rău." I'm sorry. It's my fault. I'm so sorry. Please don't make me leave. I'm sorry.
"Make you leave?" Alfred asked incredulously. He pulled away from the child and took out a handkerchief to wipe his face with. "Where in the world did you get such an idea?"
Dick took a gasping breath to calm himself. "I-I was bad." Dick whispered. "I was really bad. Please don't send me back to the orphanage or lock me in the dungeons! I'll be good!"
Alfred gave a large sigh and glared at his employer who was slowly getting out of the car. "I hope it wasn't you who was putting these ideas into his head." He scolded. Then he turned back to Dick with a gentle smile. "Don't you worry, my boy, we won't ever be giving you up. However, if you try something like that again, you will be grounded for life."
A smile brightened up Dick's face and he threw himself back into Alfred's arms. "Thank you! Vă mulţumim!" He squealed. A weight lifted from his chest. Suddenly he felt like running around the Batcave and jumping and dancing.
He'd done it! He'd put Zucco in jail and made sure that he didn't get away with murdering his parents! He'd even helped Batman stop the Joker! Bruce would be angry with him, but maybe he'd also realize what a good partner Dick could be.
"Alfred." Bruce grunted from his seat on the medical table. "I need some help."
"Oh dear." The butler's smile faded as Bruce pulled off his suit, revealing blood trickling down his back. "Master Richard, go upstairs and change." He pushed the boy up towards the elevator before rushing to Bruce's side.
Dick hesitated a moment, looking back. Bruce's eyes were clenched tightly and Alfred was tutting in a worried manner. "Richard, go upstairs." Bruce said. His words were hissed out through clenched teeth.
The child backed up and slowly made his way upstairs again. He got to his room and paused in front of the mirror, beaming at himself. "I did it." He whispered as he looked at his reflection. He spun around to look at the poster of his family. "Mami, tati, am facut-o! L-am oprit!" Mommy, Daddy, I did it! I stopped him!
Dick took a flying leap onto his bed. "Am făcut-o!" he repeated excitedly. "Am făcut-o!" I did it! I did it!
He lay there for a long moment in his costume, giggling to himself in delight. Now that Alfred had assured him he wouldn't be sent away, things didn't look so bleak. Sure, Bruce was angry with him, but Dick had proved himself! He'd taken down Zucco - with Batman's help of course - but then he'd also saved him from Joker! Surely Bruce would understand why he'd done it. He couldn't stay mad at Dick for that, could he?
Dick hoped he wouldn't. He hopped off the bed and quickly changed into his night clothes. He laid his circus costume on the dresser. Then, with one last look at his family, he crept back downstairs. He wanted to go see Bruce. He needed to. He needed to make sure that Bruce was ok and that he wasn't upset with him.
He crept down into the Batcave. When he got there, Bruce was laying on his side, staring off into space. He didn't seem as angry anymore, nor in as much pain.
"Master Richard, you should be in bed." Alfred scolded lightly, not looking up from his cleaning work.
"I can't sleep." Dick whispered. He crept towards Bruce and stood in front of him, waiting. The elder's eyes scanned over him.
"I told you not to go after Zucco." Bruce said. His voice came out in Batman's deep growl, yet the words were not harsh.
"I didn't want him to get away."
"You could have been killed."
"I'm sorry." Dick paused a moment, then beamed up at him. "But I stopped him! I stopped him and Joker!"
At this Bruce smiled softly. "Yes you did." He murmured proudly, reaching out to ruffle Dick's hair.
"Master Bruce!" Alfred scolded, "Don't encourage him."
"Can I?" Dick asked excitedly as he climbed up onto the bed beside Bruce. There was a huge smile on his face now.
"Can you what?" Bruce asked as the child cuddled up against him. His arm wrapped around the boy, keeping him close. He pressed his face against the boy's hair, sighing softly.
"Can I be your partner now?"
"Hmm… we'll see." Bruce murmured. Gently, he stroked the boy's face. "You are never to do that again though, understand?"
"Good." Bruce closed his eyes now. The pain medicine that Alfred had given him was making him tired.
"It is time for both of you to sleep, I would say." Alfred murmured. He picked up a blanket to lay over his charges.
Dick snuggled in closer to Bruce's chest. "Noapte bună, Bruce. Te iubesc."
Bruce's eyes flew open at the words. Then he smiled softly and relaxed once more against the child. "Noapte bună, Dick. Eu te iubesc."
Goodnight, Dick. I love you too.
It wasn't a big celebration. They'd had a small party with just the three of them. Alfred had made Dick's favorite foods and a three layer chocolate cake. Bruce had completely spoiled him with the amount of presents he'd bestowed on the boy.
But that wasn't the end of the party yet. Bruce had one final present for the boy. In precisely one hour, Dick would officially be seven. Bruce had his special present- one that he'd been asking about for months- ready for that time.
Right now he watched in amusement as Dick flew from the new trapeze set Bruce had put up in the gym. It was by far the biggest present he'd given the boy. He couldn't help but smile as he watched Richard play.
Dick flew like a bird. No wonder Mary Grayson had nicknamed him her little Robin.
"Bruce!" Dick yelled, waving from his perch. "Look, I'm you!" He grabbed onto a rope and swung across to the other platform, pretending to throw some batarangs in the process.
Bruce smiled at the sight. Dick had recently been even more obsessed with being his partner. Before he'd begged on a weekly basis to become his partner – now it was daily. Every time Bruce had refused, however that didn't mean Dick didn't try.
Bruce had shown him a few moves to entertain the boy. He'd shown him how to throw a batarang too and how to use the grappling gun. Dick had been a quick learner, a natural. Dick had insisted afterwards that he would be a great partner. Bruce was starting to believe it too. He was just so young….
Then, two weeks ago, Dick had gone after Zucco. It had scared Bruce half to death… but the child had done well. He could have done a lot better, but even without training or equiptment he'd managed to defeat the mob boss almost on his own, and he'd managed to take down the Joker. That was no small feat.
Suddenly Dick landed in front of him, a wide smile on his face. His arms wrapped around Bruce's waist. "Thank you!" he squealed in delight.
Alfred and Bruce watched for the next hour as Dick flipped and spun and flew through the air. Then it was time for Dick's final gift.
"Dick, come down for a second!" Bruce called. The boy complied and hurried to his side. Bruce pointed to the clock. "That's it, Dick. You are officially seven now."
A smile lit up the child's face. "I'm seven." He announced to Alfred as if the butler hadn't heard it. He held up seven fingers to prove it and rocked back and forth on his heels happily.
Bruce put a hand on his shoulder, bringing his attention back to Bruce. "I have one last present for you."
"Another one?" Dick asked, surprised.
Bruce nodded. "What's the thing you keep asking me for?"
The child's face scrunched up as he tried to think. "Learning to swallow swords?"
He chuckled. "No, the other thing." Dick couldn't seem to answer. So, smiling, Bruce took out the mask.
"Really?" Dick understood instantly. He stared at the mask reverently.
Dick let out a whoop. He put the mask on then jumped to hug Bruce. "Thank you!"
"It's going to be hard, and scary, and I'll understand if you want to quit later. However, I think you're ready." Bruce said, hugging him back. He looked down at the boy. "What should we call you?"
Dick thought for a moment. He glanced back at the trapeze set. A hesitant smile spread across his face. "How about Robin?"
Bruce frowned as he read the morning paper. The headline read: Gotham City Spelling Bee. He glanced from the paper and then across the table at the seven year old child sitting there. His brow furrowed. How had he forgotten about something as important as that?
"Alfred?" He said slowly, "Should we enroll Dick in Gotham Academy?"
The butler clucked his tongue, as if wondering how long it would take before Bruce figured it out. "I have all of the paperwork ready." Alfred said simply. "It has been on your desk for three weeks… just in case."
"Oh." Bruce murmured.
"School?" Dick questioned.
For many months after Dick had come to live with them Bruce had allowed Dick to get away with basically anything. Of course, that was also because he'd been ignoring the child and because the boy had still been in such a state of grief.
Soon, though, Alfred had been to home school the child. Bruce hadn't thought anything of it until just now. The boy should be in school. He could make some new friends. Maybe join a sport. Maybe that would help him get over some of the affects from the trauma.
The child was smart, Bruce knew. Alfred said he was a genius in math and was doing well in science. The biggest problem was that Dick still had troubles with English. He'd learned to speak it almost fluently. Whenever he would get nervous or excited though, he'd start speaking in Romanian. Reading was also a bit of a problem for him though. His other tendency to not sit still was another issue.
"Why?" Dick questioned.
"You could learn with a lot of other kids your age." Bruce said.
Dick frowned. "I've never done that."
"Then it'll be a new experience."
"I've always been homeschooled. Mami said it was just as good."
"I'm sure it was, but I'm sure going to school would be much more fun."
Dick nodded slowly, frowning at Bruce as if he wasn't quite sure if he was telling the truth. "Really?"
"I'm sure." Bruce promised. He glanced at Alfred for confirmation.
The butler smiled at Dick. "I can call up the school soon. We can go on a tour of the place before you go. And then you can be going there within a week. You'll make many friends, I'm sure."
"Ok." Dick agreed softly. He smiled hesitantly. "I've never gone to school before."
Dick's face scrunched up in confusion as he held the fabric in front of him. His mouth turned downward and he held it up. "Do I have to?" He whined.
"You aren't going out in that." Bruce said firmly.
"But this is…dark." The boy said it like it was a swear word.
Bruce just raised an eyebrow. "Batman has to be able to blend into the shadows."
"Yea, but who said Robin does too?"
Dick made a face again. "Can I keep the cape?"
Bruce sighed and nodded. "Yes."
This concession didn't seem to really help Dick though. He frowned deeply and looked longingly at his make-shift Robin outfit. The green leotard was covered by his red vest from his days in the Flying Graysons. The "R" on the chest now stood for Robin instead of Richard though. Green gloves and pixie boots lay beside it that Alfred had made him. A utility belt lay beside it, along with his mask, and a yellow cape.
Dick's eyes trailed back to the new costume he had in his hands which Bruce had designed. It was basically a bodysuit, completely black. The only bit of color was the yellow circle with an "r" in it.
"Do I have to wear the pants?" He whined.
Bruce groaned. "Yes. Pants are needed." He'd been arguing with the boy for hours about his costume. There was no way Bruce was going to let his partner go running around Gotham in that outfit. He was probably already going to get in trouble for child endangerment. He didn't want to be listed as a pedophile too.
"But pants give you wedgies." Dick argued. "I'm doing flips. It'd be much easier with a leotard."
"Pants." Bruce repeated. He never knew kids could be so difficult to deal with.
Dick looked upset though. "It's all black."
"I said you had to blend in."
"No." Dick crossed his arms now, pouting. Bruce glared. "No."
"If I may, sir." Alfred spoke up now. Gently he pried the costume from Dick's grasp. "I believe Dick could use a bit more color, yes? Maybe a red tunic like his old costume and a new cape. That should be nice, right Master Dick?"
Dick shrugged and mumbled, "I guess."
"Come now, Master Richard. We'll go draw up some designs." Alfred steered him off.
Bruce sighed as he watched them go. This was going to be a challenge.
"Do I have to wear pants?"
"Is this part of training?" Robin asked curiously. His head poked up around Batman's side, gazing at the computer screen. Batman had been working with him daily on fighting techniques and with all sorts of different gadgets. He didn't know how the computer was going to help him learn to fight though.
"I'm also a detective." Bruce said. He'd pulled off his cowl to work today. Dick liked when he did that. It always made him seem less formidable.
"What does the computer have to do with it?"
"I'm using the computer to link the sample from the crime with the type and then what is made with it." Bruce explained.
Dick nodded as if this made sense. "Ok." He agreed.
Bruce smirked. "Come here." He gestured for Robin to come closer. He picked up a sliver of metal. "See this? This is from what they stole. If we can figure out what it is then we can figure out what they are making."
"Just from a piece of metal?"
"It's a special type of metal." Bruce said. He put the chip down and brought some photos onto the screen. "These are all other things that they've stolen. We can use the computer to figure out what you can build with all those parts that they stole."
"Oh!" Finally it seemed to click with Richard. He grinned brightly at Bruce.
Bruce gave him a small smile back and settled back into his chair. It would be a bit of a wait. He glanced to the side again, looking at Richard. The child was staring at the screen, waiting for something to pop up.
Bruce was pleased with the new costume. They had settled, finally, on a black and red costume. Bruce was so glad that Alfred had finally managed to get the child to agree to pants. Now the costume had a red top with short black sleeves and black tights. They'd gotten him a yellow cape, some black shoes, and black gloves. He'd gotten a yellow utility belt too.
Robin still wasn't completely pleased with his outfit. He wanted more color. That however never stopped him from wearing the costume. As soon as he'd go into the Batcave he'd change into his uniform. It didn't matter if they were doing homework or training. Sometimes Alfred had even let him wear it around the house too. Alfred insisted that it was only to allow the boy to get used to it. Bruce knew better. After all, they gave Dick practically anything he wanted.
Soon Dick had begun to fidget. "How long does this take?" He asked.
"It's going to be awhile." Bruce said.
"How long is that?"
Bruce smirked. "Make yourself comfortable." He said instead. His eyes trailed back to the screen. His mind began to wonder back to the case, trying to figure out what to do. Now that Dick would be busy maybe he could start looking over the files and…
A hand fell onto his leg, pushing it down. Then, a moment later, Dick hoisted himself onto Bruce's lap. He pulled Bruce's arms away and curled into his chest.
"What are you doing?" Bruce asked, frowning.
Dick smiled at him though. "Making myself comfortable."
Bruce opened his mouth to protest but quickly gave up. He was getting used to this form of affection. Dick adored behind held and carried and generally just being touched. He was always climbing over him and Alfred. He'd sit in Bruce's lap whenever the man would let him. He asked for hugs all the time. Whenever he'd get a nightmare he'd climb into bed with Bruce and sleep on his stomach.
Before, Bruce hated when other people touched him. He felt like they were invading his space. It was more of his 'Brucie' act than who he really was. But he didn't mind when Dick did it. And, although he was still a bit uncomfortable with such shows of affection, he was learning.
So he did the required thing and wrapped his arms back around Dick, tugging him in close. Dick smiled brightly at him and cuddled up, waiting.
Three hours later Alfred came down to the Batcave, only to find the two boys sound asleep in the chair. He smiled softly and gently shook Bruce's shoulder. "Your search is complete sir." He said softly.
Bruce blinked wearily. "Thanks." He mumbled.
"May I ask what happened?"
Bruce looked down at the sleeping seven year old in his arms and smiled. "We were comfortable."
Up next: Robin's training continues and soon the little bird gets his first flight through Gotham!
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