Summary: Dick decides to bring some Christmas cheer to a group of orphans.
Disclaimer: All the characters are owned by DC Comics and Time/Warner; this is an original story that does not intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome!
Copyright: December 1999
A Christmas Wish
by Syl Francis
The poignant images pierced at Dick's heart. The six boys ranged in age from four years to nine. All recently orphaned, all living in the Holy Child's parish-run orphanage, now all homeless. Again.
They'd each lost their parents within the last three months. They'd each had no other living relative. They'd each been left with no one in the world, that is, until the Powers that be somehow brought them to Holy Child's orphanage and Sister Mary Agnes.
Dick remembered her. She'd been real nice and beautiful. In the short time he'd spent at Holy Child, she'd made him feel loved. Not like the people at the Juvenile Detention Center. Now, the orphanage was gone, destroyed by the fire.
"Arson." The fire inspector spoke tersely to the cameras. Suddenly looking tired, he held out a singed statue of the Baby Jesus. "Merry Christmas," he uttered ironically...
"The children will be taken care of," Dr. Cunningham of Child Welfare Services vowed. "No child will spend Christmas homeless. We've already procured a temporary shelter--a group home run by the City--in order to keep them together over the holidays. Afterwards..." she left the rest unfinished.
"Yeah, you're a real Christmas Angel, lady," Dick said. She was the one who fought to keep Pop Haly from adopting Dick. She was also responsible for removing him from Holy Child orphanage and placing him in the JDC. If Dr. Cunningham had anything to do with it, the kids would probably end up there, too.
Dick watched the evening news as Jack Ryder, GNN News reporter, interviewed the children about their situation.
"And how do you feel about losing everything you own?" he asked callously. The small boy he was interviewing looked no older than four. His tiny face scrunched up and large tears began spilling.
"I want my mommmmmeeee!" he wailed.
The child was quickly enveloped in a pair of strong arms.
"Kevin...Kevin, dear. None of that, love. Surely the Wee Child whose birth we await was watching over us all tonight. None of the boys was hurt in the fire. We still have each other." She hugged the boy to her, shushing him in a quiet, comforting voice. "Davey!" An older boy turned and ran towards her. He was about Dick's age. "Take the wee lad, Davey dear. I'll be right over."
"Yes, Sister," Davey said, taking Kevin. Sister Mary Agnes turned to face Ryder, her face a mixture of anger tinged with barely concealed outrage.
"Mister Ryder, little Kevin lost both his poor mother and father in a terrible car accident less than a month ago. Now, he's lost the only stability he's known since. How would you feel? That is, if you have feelings?"
"I'm sorry, Sister, but the public has a right to know--"
"Oh, bother the public!" Sister Mary Agnes snorted. "These children are homeless now. The few personal possessions they owned are gone. Even the Christmas presents that a kind benefactor so generously provided are gone. Tell that to your precious public!"
She turned to go, but immediately came back. "And another thing. When you're informing your 'public' about the plight of these children, and increasing your 'ratings' at the boys' expense, why don't you take the time to ask the 'public' if they plan to do anything about it!"
With that, the young nun stalked away, trailed by a line of despondent boys.
Hours later, while lying in bed, Sister Mary Agnes' words continued to haunt Dick...
"...if they plan to do anything about it!"
"Yeah, Grayson," he muttered. "What are you planning to do about it?"
Dick himself had only recently lost everything that he had known. In only a few short weeks, he'd gone from being the star of a family of circus aerialists, known as the Flying Graysons, to being an orphan that apparently nobody wanted, to being the ward of Bruce Wayne, multi-billionaire.
As he stared up at the vaulted ceiling in his bedroom, memories of his Mom and Dad came back. He remembered the happy days spent at the circus, flying high up on the trapeze. His mother's musical laugh. His father's strong, sure grip.
Most of all, he remembered his mother's nightly kiss and soft embrace, accompanied by a reassuring, "Sleep tight, little Robin."
Unbidden, the tears started, and soon after, the quiet sobs he couldn't seem able to hold back. Before he knew it, he was being enveloped in strong arms. Not the soft embrace that had brought him comfort since the day he was born, but a new, strong grasp that, though somewhat awkward, nonetheless brought warmth and comfort.
Much later, Dick lay back on his bed, looking up at his new guardian.
"It isn't fair, Bruce. They lost their Mom and Dad, and now they've lost the orphanage. Even their Christmas presents are gone! Sister Mary Agnes said that we need to do something."
Bruce reached up and brushed Dick's hair back.
"We will, Dick. I promise. First thing tomorrow, I'll call Lucius and--"
"But, Bruce! It's Christmas Eve! We have to do something tonight! Those kids are gonna wake up tomorrow morning, and-and, well--" Dick felt the tears welling up again. "Some of the little ones still believe in Santa, and some of the older ones...they don't have anything left to believe in. Bruce, they can't wake up to a cold, empty place...with no tree, no presents...it's not right!"
"Dick, I'd like us to be able to do something tonight, son, but--"
"Bruce, we have so much, and they don't have anything. Please, Bruce! You've already given me much more than I ever thought I'd have. I don't need anything else. Please...may I give them my Christmas presents?"
"Your gifts? But, Dick--" Bruce stopped. His new ward was staring up him, his blue eyes pleading. Bruce felt his throat catch.
When he'd decided to give the boy a home, the decision had been made almost as an academic exercise, something from which he'd remain emotionally detached. Holding Dick's intent gaze, Bruce realized that his ward had somehow breached the stonewalls he'd built around his heart.
His eyes softening, Bruce asked, "Are you sure, chum? This is your first Christmas here. Alfred and I wanted to make it extra special for you."
Dick dropped his eyes, momentarily unsure. Straightening his chin with renewed determination, he looked up again.
"I'm gonna have lots more Christmases here with you and Alfred, Bruce. But those little kids don't have anything right now. Maybe some day, they'll each be lucky enough to be adopted, too. But for now...Bruce, it sure would mean a lot to me, if I could give those kids a special Christmas, just like the one you and Alfred were gonna give me."
Bruce allowed a small smile to flit across his eyes. "If that's what you want for Christmas, Dick, well, who am I to deny you your Christmas Wish?"
"Really? You mean it? Oh, boy!" Dick threw his arms around his guardian's neck and they both toppled over, laughing.
"My word, young Masters. If we're to do jolly ol' Saint Nick's work for him tonight, then we'd best hurry. It's almost midnight." Bruce and Dick whirled around to find Alfred by the door looking staid. He was already dressed. "I'll start packing the gifts. Master Dick, Master Bruce, might I suggest you dress warmly? It's quite cold outside. Well, what are you waiting for? March!"
Nonplussed, both Bruce and Dick hurried to do as told.
As they worked swiftly and silently, Bruce remembered a comedian who once stated that Santa's Christmas Eve activities could be described as little more than home invasion on a world-wide scale.
He grinned. Maybe Batman wasn't Santa Claus, but his skills had definitely come in quite handy tonight. From running a computer check to obtain all of the boys' names, to breaking and entering. Not from the chimney, of course, but rather from much more conventional means--the front door.
Stepping back, he and Dick admired their work. They'd taken down their own tree, and brought it here along with the decorations, and the gifts.
There was one thing still missing, though, the star! Dick held it in his hand. Smiling, Dick took hold of Bruce's right forearm and suddenly leaped straight up! He landed lightly on Bruce's shoulders, easily balancing himself.
"Hey! At least warn a guy, willya?" Bruce asked. Dick giggled.
"Sorry," Dick apologized. "Can you move a little closer, please?" Bruce complied, and Dick gently placed the finishing touch on the treetop. "There...all done!" he whispered. Holding his arms out, Dick pushed off, gracefully flipped twice in midair, straightened, and landed.
"Whadaya think?" he asked.
"I think--" Bruce began.
"Shh-hh!" Dick interrupted. "I thought I heard someone!" Both Dick and Bruce quickly hid behind a sagging sofa. They waited tensely.
Suddenly, they heard hurried whispers in the hallway.
"See! I told you I heard Santa Claus, Davey."
Dick risked a furtive peek. It was the same little boy who'd cried for his mommy earlier that night. The boy's glowing eyes were practically drinking in the miraculous sight before him.
"I can't believe it, Kevin!" Davey said, awed. "I guess you're right. There really is a Santa Claus."
"Davey! Look here!" Kevin called excitedly. "That's my name, right? That says 'Kevin,' right? K-E-V-I-N! 'Kevin'!"
"It sure does, kid. That's your name, all right," Davey assured him.
"Can I open it, Davey? Can I? Please?" Kevin was beside himself with excitement.
"Sure! Why not? Santa gave it to you."
Kevin didn't need a second invitation. He immediately sat down next to the tree and began tearing into the gift. Pausing after the bright paper was removed, he carefully opened the gift box.
The boy's shining eyes said it all. But Bruce wasn't watching little Kevin. Instead, he had eyes only for his young ward. For the gift that Kevin had just opened was the one, which Bruce had spent days searching for, until he'd found it in an exclusive antique store.
As Kevin wound the key, Bruce took in Dick's look of utter happiness at Kevin's delight. That should be Dick winding the key, he thought, experiencing a momentary stab of disappointment. However, Dick's bright smile soon squelched that feeling.
Bruce turned to watch as little Kevin played, mesmerized, with the brightly colored, miniature antique circus carousel. It was comprised of prancing horses, lions, tigers, and elephants. A hand-turned key was used to set the carousel in motion. As the miniature circus parade went round and round, the carousel played an appropriate circus march.
The two boys were captivated by the magical toy. Bruce signaled Dick that it was time to go. Quietly, stealthily, man and boy made their way unnoticed to the exit.
Once outside, they hurried to where Alfred waited patiently with the limousine. As the two slid into their seat, Alfred conjured two hot steaming mugs of cocoa seemingly out of thin air.
"I trust all went well, sir?"
"It was the best Christmas ever, Alfred!" Dick declared. Becoming serious, he addressed his guardian.
"Bruce?" Dick began tentatively. Bruce's eyebrows went up questioningly over the rim of his mug. "Thanks for the circus carousel. It was a super gift. I really appreciate it."
Bruce smiled at his ward, and held his mug out. Smiling, Dick tapped his own against Bruce's. They both took a sip of their hot drink.
"And, Bruce, thanks again for letting me do this. I'll never forget it."
"My pleasure, chum," Bruce smiled. "Like I said...who am I to deny you your Christmas Wish?"