Unraveling


When it came to fighting crime, some missions were just harder than others. Gotham City was a place filled with crime and corruption; muggings and robberies took place practically every night, but they were simple tasks compared to other times. Fighting Mr. Freeze on Independence Day had even been a very relaxed situation.

Robin had encountered many villains during his four year run as the sidekick and protégé to the Batman. Criminals varied tremendously. While the Penguin tended to hide behind hoards of goons, he was relatively easy to take out once isolated, but when it came to a silly white-faced, giggling maniac and his destructive toys, things got a bit more complicated. Even though things had been harder during his new position on the Justice League's covert team, nothing compared to what he had gone through.

Itwas the ultimate of missions. Earth was being taken over by aliens that disintegrated whoever came into its path. Robin and the Team was forced to witness their mentors being, one by one, zapped away forever, never to be seen again. The heavy burden of saving the world had been pitted onto them, a group of teenagers who were still trying to learn how to fully work together. It all seemed so horrible, but the worst part? Robin hadn't felt an ounce of emotion for his losses. He had watched Batman – the Batman – be taken down within a fraction of a second. The man that had taken him in, had mentored him, had become his number one figure of authority, was gone without a trace, and he felt next to nothing.

It hadn't been a real mission, of course. Everyone; civilians, heroes, the Team – they were all fine, but that didn't erase what Robin had witnessed or the feelings that had rushed over him after he had been simulatively blown to his death. Nothing they had experienced had been real, but the emotions of the aftermath were, and he didn't know how to deal with it.

Robin remembered the night he had lost his parents. It had seemed so long ago and to him, it was. Four years was a lengthy amount of time to a thirteen year old. The feelings and the memories, however, had a way of making themselves appear as if they had just happened. Robin, who was simply known by the one and only name of Richard Grayson then, had witnessed his parents fall to their deaths. A tall, well-dressed man had approached the small and fragile boy with an offer. He had taken in young Dick with a sort of silent kindness and understanding. The man was Bruce Wayne, and he knew firsthand what it felt like to be a child watching your loved ones die. He hadn't really tried to force Dick to feel better and at the time, the 9 year-old was glad for that. Instead, Bruce had unwittingly formed a bond with him that made some of his cold exterior dissolve, even if only for a while.

Richard Grayson had, in many ways, become like a son to the man who had eventually revealed himself, only after being caught, to be the silent protector of Gotham, the Batman. He had even offered the young boy a chance to gain justice for his murdered parents. Bruce trained him, provided for him, and gave him the company that only he could supply. True, Dick very much enjoyed spending time with Alfred, the Wayne butler, but there was something about his very silent and very observant guardian that made him feel a little more whole again. It had crossed Richard's mind a few times; Bruce Wayne was like his father.

Maybe that was the problem. Maybe that was why the disastrous simulation bothered Robin so much. He hadn't just watched his mentor vanish, but he had also watched a father be taken away yet again. That was something even the Boy Wonder, the protégé of the ever-stoic Batman, just couldn't handle.

Robin was glad that everyone was okay and at first he was relieved that he hadn't felt anything, but then he saw the way M'gann cried against Captain Marvel, and the way that Wally, Artemis, and Kaldur tried their hardest not to let anything show, and at that point he couldn't even fully understand why Superboy looked more void than usual. The feelings began to creep up onto him while the images flashed behind his closed eyes; the Justice League taken down, innocent lives lost, his teammates and friends disappearing, his Batman… gone. And then there was him, being blown up alongside his best friend, on his own orders. He, the leader of the team after Aqulad's sacrifice, had led them all to fail. The feelings were there. Was he wrong? Was he the only one?

He hadn't hugged Batman like the lurching urge in him wanted. He hadn't spoken either, not even on the ride home. The Batmobile had been as silent as ever. Robin hadn't spoken a word for the rest of the night and he had even gone to bed early, eventually drifting into an uneasy sleep.

Alfred had woken him up early one morning and Robin found that the pictures in his brain were still so vivid. He had gotten dressed slowly, pushing his sunglasses onto his nose to hide the darkness of his usual bright blue eyes. He had gone down to the Batcave as ordered, being met by Bruce who was already clad in his Batman attire, minus the cowl. As usual, there was no hug, no 'good morning,' and definitely no smile.

Batman had informed Robin that Black Canary was at the cave, waiting for the rest of the Team to arrive. He didn't tell him why and Robin didn't ask, he simply nodded his head, pushed his hands into his large sweatshirt pockets, and headed towards the zeta tubes. When he had gotten there, the place seemed deserted. He drug himself towards the back of the cave where the kitchen and living room resided, and that was where he found M'gann, Conner, and Kaldur. They were sitting on the couch, obviously waiting for him, Wally, and Artemis to show. Sitting in a chair close by was Black Canary. She, at least, greeted Robin with a small smile, one he didn't bother returning.

It didn't take long for the other two members to arrive. That's when Black Canary disappeared into a room, leaving the teens to sit in a dark silence. M'gann had decided to move into the kitchen. Robin could hear her rummaging around in the cabinets and the refrigerator, but he didn't look up. He let himself zone out instead, wondering for the thousandth time how something so unreal could be so traumatizing.

Black Canary had started calling names. Superboy was first, but his visit was short-lived. He had stormed out of the cave within minutes, leaving Artemis to be called upon. Robin had by then gathered that this was some sort of attempt at therapy, but he said nothing to the others. Artemis had been gone longer – Robin had subconsciously counted off thirty minutes – and then Wally was called in. Artemis didn't look at him as she passed. She didn't look at anyone. She sat herself onto the couch in front of the turned-off TV, pulled her knees up to her chest, and zoned out to her own little world, much like Robin had done. He vaguely hoped hers was less cynical.

Wally came out close to thirty minutes later, too, and he at least looked a little more upbeat than before he had gone in. He chose a spot at the end of the couch that Robin occupied, bringing with him his almost empty bowl of popcorn.

"Robin…"

He was next. Robin slowly stood onto his feet and moved himself in the right direction, slipping into a room that sat only Black Canary. He took the seat in front of her, keeping his slouched body closer to the edge of the chair. He tried not to look up at her as she spoke. He tried not to even answer, but those feelings were there, bubbling over until finally, they began to form words and spill from his mouth.

He talked to the woman about his thoughts on what the Team had gone through. He explained how he understood that he did what he had to as leader, but the consequences were just too great. He had started off wanting to be like Batman, but now… now he knew that he never could; he didn't want to. He was okay with fighting the evils of the world, but he couldn't lose himself to whatever drove Batman to sacrifice everything for the sake of a mission. Whatever was inside of that man… Robin knew he wouldn't ever allow it to take him over, too.

Robin didn't really feel any different when he exited the room. He was a little relieved to know that his emotions could be described, but he didn't feel satisfied. The dread still rested inside of him, aching from the pit of his stomach all the way up to depths his strong heart. There would be no mission that day and for once, he wasn't upset about it. He managed to slip passed his teammates without being noticed, but Batman was another story. He could feel the eyes of his guardian on him, but the man did nothing to stop him from zeta-ing home.

Robin had bypassed Alfred and the kitchen to go up to his room. He threw his jacket and sunglasses off, and plopped onto his bed, eying the ceiling with no interest. His thoughts were deep and distracting, much like they had been since the day of the simulation. He had tried to seem normal, but his talk with Black Canary only solidified his thoughts and emotions. He could do this hero thing, he knew he could, but how could he tell Batman what he had revealed to Black Canary? Did he even want to? He still looked up to the man that meant so much to him, but how long could he pretend to be unaffected? So far, he had been doing a rotten job of appearing to be normal and he knew it.

Robin, who was simply Dick now, hadn't realized how long he had been locked away in his room until a rather soft knock on his door made him peer at the clock. The door was pushed open before he could answer, forcing him to sit up. His deep blue eyes landed on Bruce's tall figure. Dick allowed his eyes to linger on his guardian for a few seconds, taking in his normal serious expression before turning away to face the silent pictures flashing across his television screen. He watched the boring cartoons with disinterest, keeping his peripheral vision on the man standing by his door frame. He sat still when he noticed Bruce shut the door behind him before taking a few steps closer.

Dick wasn't naïve and he was most definitely not stupid, so he had a pretty good idea why Bruce had decided to pay him a visit. It wasn't odd that he hadn't spoken yet, deciding to observe his young ward instead. In all honesty, Bruce wasn't quite sure what to say to the poor boy. He had hoped that Dick and the team would've pulled together by now. He hoped that their emotions would have finally died down so they could return to being normal, sometimes annoying, teenagers. Unusually, however, Bruce was wrong. He had once again underestimated the Boy Wonder, but it wasn't a good thing this time.

"You visited with Dinah?"

Dick didn't find it odd that Bruce had chosen to use Black Canary's real name because the two trusted each other. What he did find odd, though, was the question itself. It seemed so… vague for the usually direct Batman. What did he care if he spoke with Black Canary or not?

"Yeah," Dick answered in a low voice, keeping his eyes trained on the television. Was that what he wanted to know? To make sure that Robin had taken advantage at the therapy attempt? Well, he had, so Bruce could leave his room now and continue to ignore everything but his duties.

To Dick's surprise, Bruce stayed standing still in his spot.

"Superboy fled and I have a hunch that Artemis wasted her time with silence." Dick's eyebrows pulled together involuntarily. Small talk? "Did you speak with her?" Ah, there it was. Straight to the point.

Dick sat himself up a little more, moving his back away from the hard headboard. He allowed his eyes to trail over to his guardian.

"We… spoke, yeah."

As always, Bruce seemed unaffected by the sudden bitterness in the young boy's voice. He continued to stare at Dick until it made him squirm, and then he dropped his arms to his sides. After another beat of silence, he turned around and slowly headed for the door. Dick felt something like desperation well up inside of him and it forced him to speak.

"What, no prying?" he called out with something of a scoff. "You're not gonna' ask what we talked about? I guess you don't really need to. There was probably a spy-cam in there, anyway."

Bruce's eyebrow twitched. He hadn't seen any emotion on the boy for the past week and now he was resorting to a mild form of hostility.

"Your meetings were confidential," Bruce answered in an unaffected voice. "I won't demand that you repeat anything to me."

Dick wanted to snort. The one thing Batman didn't demand was the one thing that Robin wished he would.

There was a moment of silence. Slowly, Bruce withdrew his hand from the door and turned back around, once again observing the slouched boy on the bed. Silently, he allowed a sigh to escape his nose.

"If you… want to talk," he said lowly, grabbing Dick's attention. "I'm here."

Dick's eyes darted over towards Bruce, his lips parting ever so slightly. Had he really just heard those words? Staring up at the man who only stood a few feet away now, he could see that ever-present seriousness there. Did Dick want to talk to him about this, really? Did he want to tell him how he felt? Sure, it sounded like a fine idea in his head, but now that the offer was out, he wasn't so sure.

Bruce could see his reluctance.

"Richard," he said rather lightly. "I understand that you're still struggling with the effects of the simulation. It's been a week and the Team hasn't pulled together like I initially thought."

Dick wasn't quite sure what to say, but his brain had already decided that his mouth wanted to move.

"I just… don't get it," he whispered. "Why do I still feel so…?" He couldn't think of the right words. Bruce, however, often understood what wasn't spoken. This was no exception.

The man stepped towards the bed until he deemed his position to be close enough. He kept his eyes on the young teenager.

Dick shook his head. "I watched everyone die, Bruce. I saw the Justice League get taken down. I saw innocent people vanish. I led my team to die." His small voice was suddenly a little shakier. "And at first I felt nothing, and I wasn't even afraid when I knew I was gonna to die, but – but after…" He swallowed what as a recognizable lump in his throat.

"It wasn't real, Richard," Bruce said in that same low voice, but Dick shook his head.

"It could've been. That's why we did it, right? To prepare for the unthinkable? To try and work through something we can't win?"

Dick looked up at Bruce, but there was nothing comforting in his expression. Bruce could see those sad, hopeless eyes, and it made him feel like a failure.

He knew he couldn't tell Bruce everything. He couldn't tell him that he no longer wanted to be the leader, to be like Batman. He couldn't bring himself to say it, but at the same time, he knew he wanted – needed – some sort of comfort from the man he had come to love like a father.

"I don't even remember feeling relieved when I woke up because all I could think about was how it could've happened. How… how I could've lost everything and everyone I cared about again." He tried not to, but his eyes couldn't help but landing on the man that stared down at him. "How I could've lost you."

Bruce was never one to show what he was really feeling. His face stayed blank, but the sudden ache in his heart was not ignored. He knew that he wasn't the father type. He was a mentor to his sidekick, a guardian to his ward, and he tried to be a positive figure whenever he could, but father was not on that list.

He cared for Richard more than he had initially intended. The messy black hair and those bright blue puppy-dog eyes had silently won him over the first few months they had spent together, and even as the boy grew older, there was a soft spot in his unreachable heart for the young Dick Grayson. Bruce had never thought of himself as a father, but he hadn't realized until that moment how often he subconsciously thought of the boy as a son.

Dick felt so stupid saying these things out loud. Bruce – Batman – didn't do feelings. He knew that the man cared for him and he was grateful for that, but they never really had time to bond the way Richard wanted. They had done quite a few things when he had been first adopted at the age of 9, and the following two years seemed almost the same, but now he was older – a real teenager – and Bruce wasn't as aware of what he needed to do. Dick didn't bother him about watching some stupid cartoon movie on the big screen when he had time off from work. He no longer snuck into his bed at night because he felt scared or lonely. He stopped talking to Bruce about his parents or what he wanted to be when he grew up or what new toy he thought was cool, unaware that he would actually receive it only a few days later. Dick was becoming more and more of a mystery, and now Bruce was starting to understand how Alfred felt all those years ago.

It didn't matter that Richard was thirteen, though; he was still young and vulnerable, and it was starting to click that now was probably the start of the most important years for his Boy Wonder. Now was when he really needed a father.

"I know I should just forget about it," Dick whispered, seemingly unaware of the sudden battle going on inside his guardian's mind and heart. "It's stupid to feel this terrible over something that didn't really happen –"

"No, Richard," Bruce interrupted firmly, catching him off guard. "You have every right to have feelings about the situation we put you in. I'm sorry that it tore open old wounds."

Dick understood what he meant. Telling Bruce that he was afraid of losing everyone again made it so obvious. No matter how many years passed, no one could ever forget the night they lost what was most important to them. They both knew that too well.

Bruce was never one for acting on impulse, but he felt that this sudden urge was a fairly good one. He took one last step closer and kneeled down, becoming lower than the boy that sat on the bed. When he used to do this Bruce had always still been inches taller than Richard, but for once, with Dick on the bed, he was able to look down at Bruce. It was an odd thought, but he seemed more human this way.

"Healing is a slow process to start with, but the situation makes all the difference. I know what it's like to bottle up feelings until you want to explode. I've learned to control myself until I'm able to push such thoughts away, but you're young and no matter what, it isn't healthy. There are always people you can talk to, Richard. Your teammates, Black Canary, Alfred, even Red Tornado." There was a twitch of amusement on both of their lips, one dry and one sullen. "And then, there's me."

Dick's look of apprehension only furthered his guilt. This time, Bruce's sigh was audible.

"Dick." His hand sat gently on top of the boy's small knee. "You need to remember that you aren't me. The way I conduct myself may seem cold –"

"Sometimes I wonder if Tornado's heart is more human than yours," Dick offered lowly.

Bruce's usually blank expression softened. "It may appear that way, but I do care. I know that's partially why you've been unable to clear your head this week."

Dick wasn't exactly surprised that Bruce knew how he felt; after all, he was the world's greatest detective. However, he couldn't help feeling a tad bit annoyed.

"If you knew, why didn't you try to talk to me? Why the feigned ignorance?"

"Trying to force your feelings out would do neither of us any good," Bruce answered easily. Then he paused for a moment, something that resembled hesitance swirling in his dark eyes. "I guess I should've informed you sooner that I'm always here to listen. I assumed you knew."

Dick laughed a little, surprising himself by how good it actually felt. Bruce even produced a teensy smile.

It was silent for a few moments afterward. Bruce kept his hand on Richard's knee, deciding that the comfort it was giving the boy outweighed the awkwardness he felt from his position. He didn't' want to force Dick to say anything, but he knew that he was far from finished. So, he waited in silence, watching his face change back into its sullen state. It was unusual to see him like this. Bruce never wanted to see him so down again.

"I guess you can go now," he said with a quiet breath. He picked up Bruce's wrist with his small hand and dropped it off of his knee, but he didn't move from his kneeling position. "I'll be okay," he tried in his best brave voice, but his guardian simply saw right through him.

"I don't need to know what you told Dinah," he told his young ward. "But I do need to know that this issue with the Team will be solved. When you receive your next mission, your head needs to be there fully." Richard stared down at his lap, allowing his messy black hair to spill forward.

"If you think you can get through this on your own, that's your decision, but I expect you to be back on track by next week." Dick looked at Bruce with a fierce glare, unable to process how he could expect this. The older man seemed unfazed. He wasn't finished. "If you decide that your issues need to be spoken, I'll be in the living room, waiting to listen."

The expression on Robin's face softened considerably as Bruce placed his hand on the small shoulder and gave a slight squeeze before turning to disappear out of the room.

Hours had passed and his attempts to finish his calculus homework were failed. His thoughts seemed to keep creeping towards the front of his brain. Talk to him, the thoughts said. It's what you wanted. He offered to listen! With an irritated groan, Richard flung his pencil against the wall and jumped out of his chair. It was already 5:45; Alfred's impeccable timing meant that dinner was read at 6 to 6:20 at every night. If he didn't do it now, he would just chicken out later. Quite literally, it was now or never.

Dick forced his feet down the stairs and into the living room. For a brief moment he thought that Bruce had decided to go to the Batcave instead, most likely to tackle a mission without his moody protégé. But his worries were silenced when he spotted the dark hair of his keeper. He was sitting on the couch. Upon closer inspection, Dick could see that he had a few letters in his lap, most likely the day's mail that he was only now getting a chance to look at. The paper in his hand was light blue and very familiar.

Without turning around or looking up, Bruce spoke to the person he knew was there.

"You have a B minus in Language Arts," he said idly. Dick wanted to roll his eyes. "There's a request for a conference. Have you been causing harm to the English language again?"

It was a joke, Dick knew, and even though it was very dry, he found himself smiling and stepping closer. He pushed his hands into his tight jean pockets and shrugged. He knew Bruce could predict the action without having to see it, but he decided to speak anyway.

"She's not one to feel the aster."

Bruce wanted to shake his head and possibly even snort, but the latter was something very in characteristic of him. He settled on a topic change.

"You have an A in Calculus, but there's another conference request." He turned to face the boy this time, one eyebrow carefully arched. "Are you intentionally causing mischief?"

Dick rolled his eyes. "He probably wants to talk about his theory of how I cheat. I'll tell you now, he has no supporting evidence. I'm a mathlete."

Bruce's eyes narrowed. "I'll be speaking to Mrs. Anderson again, then." It wasn't a question. "Do I have to demand you stop butchering words on purpose?"

This was quite unusual. Dick wondered if Bruce was going for small talk for real this time.

With a sigh, Dick decided that it was better to get to the point. He moved himself past the front of the coffee table to sit on the couch next to Bruce. He still had the report card clutched in his hand. He gazed at it again briefly before turning to face Dick.

"I'm impressed." Comments like these always made Dick feel a small rush of excitement. "You're keeping your grades high and your training has been more than adequate." He knew there was a 'but' coming. "But I expect you to bring that B up. Using your strange slang is… tolerable." Dick smirked. "School is the exception. I know what you're capable of."

Of course he knew. Dick often received straight A's, he had skipped a grade, and he was the top mathlete of Gotham Academy. Of course, he had to tone down his technological skill, otherwise there might be suspicion – especially from Artemis who was is his computers class.

"You know why I came down here," he said quietly after a moment.

"I do."

"I'm not so sure what to say."

Silence.

He glanced at the large clock. It was getting closer to their routine dinnertime. He sighed.

"I told you that losing everyone really messed me up. I get that I have to have time to heal and everything, but…"

Bruce understood where Dick was going with his trailing thought. Richard had outright told him that he didn't want to lose Bruce. For a moment, he thought about letting him finish his sentence no matter how long he had to wait to hear it. However, he decided against it, and not just because it would wear his patience thin. Taking one look at the boy to his side –who, if he thought about it, wasn't really a boy anymore – he decided on the rare idea of letting his personal thoughts be heard.

"Dick, I'm not going anywhere."

It was such a simple idea, but it meant so much more than Dick could explain. He knew he could believe Bruce because… when had he ever lied to him before? Okay, he had hidden a few things from him while he was Batman, but it was always for a reason and then Robin would find out anyway. This – this was different. Bruce wasn't lying about this and he wasn't hiding anything. The words he said were true; he wasn't going anywhere.

Dick looked at his guardian, light eyes meeting dark, and it became one of those rare moments where he could see his father. Not John Grayson, but Bruce Wayne. They were truly opposite men. John was so light and carefree, unafraid to show his emotions and joke around. Bruce was so serious, so intelligent and so protective, and in his own way, just as caring as John had been. Sitting there, looking at Bruce, he was reminded that he was no longer just Richard Grayson and that he hadn't been for four years now. He, too, was also a Wayne.

Without having to say anything more, Dick felt much more lifted than before. His mischievous smile made its way onto his lips and his blue eyes marked the return of their usual spark. Bruce didn't know how one simple sentence could restore the hope of his child like that, but he was thankful that it could.

"Good," he said finally. "Because the world needs a few thick-headed heroes to save the day now and then, right?" This was a question that did not go unnoticed.

A smirk twitched at Bruce's lips. "As long as your thick head continues to do well in school, I suppose a few minor missions might do you some good… if you think you can handle it."

Dick's eyes lit up a little more. "Well, now that my head's clear, I won't have to wait for the Team mission next week, right?" Too much hope; the boy had too much hope. But maybe that was a good thing.

"I'll let you know."

Dick rolled his eyes. "I know you're going out after dinner. Can I come?"

Bruce shook his head. "Maybe tomorrow afternoon."

"But tomorrow's Sunday!"

"We'll go early enough for you to get back in time for bed."

Dick groaned.

The two could hear Alfred shuffling into the dining room and sat waiting for their call to dinner. Dick couldn't deny that he felt a sense of relief over him, but that reluctance would always be in the back of his mind. He was fine with being Robin and, for now, he was okay with going along with Batman's plans. Eventually, though, he'd have to tell the Dark Knight how he really felt. He wouldn't be taking up the mantle of his mentor any time in the near future, or even the late one, for that matter. But that didn't change the way he saw the man. He was more than just a teacher and a provider. Bruce was his father.

"Hey," Dick said idly after another few ticks of the clock. Bruce turned his head to look down at him. "Do you ever think about… what it would've been like if you never lost your parents?"

This was a question that Dick hadn't ever remembered asking, but his recent thoughts had made him curious. If Bruce was surprised, he didn't show it.

"I used to," he admitted in an even tone. "I went through the stages that you're familiar with; Shock, confusion, and mourning. I also felt guilt, but my anger outweighed it."

Dick pushed some hair away from his face. "And you're still angry? After all these years?"

Bruce understood the question for what it really was and not for the way it sounded. He knew Richard didn't expect anyone to truly get over the deaths of people you loved, but he was starting to wise up and understand that you couldn't let the negative feelings overwhelm you. Not like Bruce had.

He hesitated for only a short moment before deciding to answer. "If you let it, anger will control you. It's the same for any emotion."

Dick shook his head. "Anger doesn't control you, though. It doesn't defineBatman."

Bruce nodded with agreement. "It's lack of emotion." Dick looked away. "You know that I care, Richard, that's why we're here. I've defined myself by this lifestyle, but as I said, you are not me. You're not weak for expressing the way you feel."

Tonight was turning out to be one of those very rare nights of open conversation.

"So… can I tell you something, then?"

He was aware of how childish he sounded, but at the moment, he didn't need to care.

Bruce nodded.

"I think about what my life would be like if my parents never died. It's one of those things that makes me happy for a while, but then my feelings start to go south and I start to question everything my life has been so far."

"You miss them. That's more than understandable."

"It's not just that, though." Robin shook his head slowly, reconnecting his eyes with Bruce's somber ones. "Yeah, it'd be so great if that night never happened, if I had my family and I was still in the circus, but then I think about… how… I never would've met you. And it makes those stupid life questions disappear again for a while." He heaved a sigh. "Is that… wrong?"

Dick felt like a 9 year old child once again, questioning all the horrible events of life and why they had to happen. But no matter what, Bruce was always – and had always – been good with understanding.

"No, Dick," Bruce said quietly. "It just means that you're alright."

A smile took over Dick's lips and he knew that he really was alright, and he would be for a while.

"Dinner is served, Master Bruce and Master Richard," Alfred's formal voice sounded from the doorway. Dick twisted in his spot on the couch to grin at the butler.

"Good. I think I know how KF feels. I'm starving."

Bruce stood from his spot and set the report car onto the table with the envelope it came in, mentally reminding him to have Alfred make an appointment while he was at work. He ran through his schedule in his head, not quite sure if he was free on Thursday or not. He and Dick had already reached the doorway by the time the teen's elbow jabbing lightly against his arm brought him out of his thoughts. He glanced down at Dick as they walked. The boy was smiling softly.

"Thanks, Dad."

Bruce was never one for showing surprise, but even he was unsure of his face suddenly betrayed him. Dick had called him that three letter word a few times in the past (exactly 10 times in four years, if he was counting), but each time felt a little like the first. It burned a hole in the ice shield around his heart that just so happened to be big enough for Richard to crawl through.

Dad. Bruce wasn't sure when it happened, but he was smiling, and he didn't really care that Dick could see. Not when it made the blue eyes of his son shine just a little brighter.


First story on here. First YJ fanfiction that I've written. Obviously, it's set after Failsafe, during Disorder.

Thoughts? :)