My Father Is WHO?
That night, Dick's temperature rose to 103.4 despite the fact that he had been given the Ibuprofen twice. It was as if his body was determined on burning out the affliction all at once. Bruce bathed his ward using a wet cloth. Leslie has said that putting him in a cool bath would be dangerous while Dick's temperature was too high.
It was three days before Dick's temperature broke enough where it stayed down below 102. Though it would hover around 101 at night, it would go down in the morning to 99 and stay there until nighttime came again.
"When can I get out of bed, Bruce," Dick asked, though his throat was still feeling raw and his voice was not quite returned.
"Not until your temperature reaches normal and stays at normal for two days," Bruce replied. "Plus, your voice still isn't quite back."
"Aw, Bruce. I want to help catch . . . criminals," Dick complained as he swallowed from the rawness of his throat.
"I know Dick, but you don't want a relapse and lengthening your recovery time."
"You're right," Dick said sulking.
"You could help me by going over some files," Bruce said, "You might see something that I may have missed."
"Sure, Bruce." Dick had to settle with helping Batman another way.
"Now that's enough talking young man," Aunt Harriet came in carrying a tray containing some hot tea. "I came home to find you sick in bed, and Bruce sleeping by your side. What happened Bruce?"
"It's just one of those summer illnesses, when the temperature soars well above hundred and going in and out of the air conditioning . . ." Bruce tried to explain.
"Well, Dick needs as much rest as he can get. Not helping you go over Wayne Foundation paperwork. Here Dick, I brought you some hot tea for your throat. Now no more talking, you are still getting over laryngitis."
"Uh yes, Aunt Harriet," Dick responded.
Another day later, Dr. Leslie Thompkins came in to check on Dick Grayson's progress. She also was also carrying a large brown envelope. Bruce moved to the study to look at the paperwork that Leslie gave him. He opened the envelope and saw the results. Tears brimmed his eyes, not so much for the results as remembering how Mary Grayson died. He wished he had gone to the circus earlier that day and spoken with her, even meeting Dick before hand. His parents' deaths though brought Dick to him in such a way that they would never know. If he had learned sooner, though, he could not imagine how their lives would be different.
Bruce pulled out the folder that contained the letters from Mary and now the returned photograph. He placed the envelope containing the results inside the folder. It was time to reveal what he had learned. He didn't know how Dick would react. He hoped he would not be angry with him, though he probably wouldn't blame Dick if he would. It had been his decision to withhold such knowledge. Early on in his life, Dick was raised by two wonderful parents. His ward had a right to know, otherwise why had he found the photograph and why was it on his desk. Dick had a right to learn the answers to those questions.
Bruce stepped into Dick's room to find him sitting up in bed reading. The book was one of his favorites.
'We need to talk," Bruce said, then tossed the photo onto Dick's lap.
Dick's eyes became wide at seeing the photo. He put the book down and lifted the photo to stare at the two people holding each other and smiling for the camera. "I found it in the attic, I wanted to ask you about it before I got sick and before Catwoman kidnapped me." Dick looked over toward Bruce, trying to judge whether he was angry with him or not.
"Ask," was all Bruce said.
"Did you know my Mother?"
"I met your Mother when I was younger, and trying to find out what would be the best training I could get to become a crime fighter. I knew that the Haley Circus had one of the best acrobats in their employ. I knew her as Mary Rousten before she became Mary Grayson."
"Did you love her?"
"I did, but she loved someone else more," Bruce said, giving Dick a sideways grin. "That photo was taken on my last day with the circus. I stayed with the Haley circus for six months. Before she became your Mother, she was helping me on the high wire."
"So, what happened?" Dick asked.
"It was time to move on, but we did keep in touch. She wrote me telling me about the circus, her relationship with John Grayson and then your birth. I didn't hear from her for a long time, until a few days before . . . Before they were killed. She invited me to see the show, especially to show you off."
"Me?" Dick was surprised at that.
"She was pretty proud of you," Bruce said. "She wanted me to come earlier, but . . . I couldn't. If I had . . . I might have spotted . . ." Bruce didn't finish his words. He felt guilty just as much as when his parents had been killed and he was left alive.
"It's not your fault, Bruce," Dick said, coaxing, this time giving his guardian comfort.
"I need to continue. Anyway, her description of you . . . Back then I didn't think about it. But seeing this photo again . . . and seeing your face . . . I started to put two and two together. Do you remember when Leslie came back and took a second swab?"
"Uh, not very well, I guess I was pretty out of it."
"She took a swab from me as well."
Dick's eyes narrowed. "A DNA test?"
"Yeah," Bruce sighed. He then pulled out the envelope. I wanted you to see the results, but before you do, I have to say something. Your Mother meant the world to me, even though she loved your father. Your father, before he married your mother, could be . . . well let's just say he broke a few hearts, and almost your Mothers. On that last day, she came to me, very upset. And things just got way out of hand. I should have stopped it, but I didn't. Then your mother was married and later you were born. By then I was with the League of Shadows and immersed in their training. I didn't hear from her that often then the letters stopped until five years ago . . ."
"Bruce . . . Are you trying to say that John Grayson isn't my father?"
"No, I'm not saying that. He was your father in every way, but one."
Bruce handed Dick the envelope and Dick pulled out the pages that were inside. His eyes became wide when he read what was there. 99.99%. He turned to Bruce. "You're . . . you're . . ." He couldn't get out the words.
"Yes, the results are true. If I had known, I would have gone back to the circus and married your mother. But I don't think she even knew it at the time. She married John Grayson almost a month after I left."
Dick remained silent; listening to what Bruce had to say.
"I didn't know either, even as I took you for my ward. I didn't know I was taking in my own son. Don't get me wrong. I know how much you loved your parents, and I do mean parents. John Grayson was a father to you in every way, but one. I certainly did and don't want you thinking anything less of him, or me. As far as he was concerned, you were his child, and I believe Mary believed it, too. Or maybe she started to suspect, but didn't say anything because . . . I'm rambling I know. The thing is, he raised you and loved you when you needed a father. I don't want you to ever forget that."
Dick suddenly grabbed Bruce by the neck and held him. He hadn't done that for a long time. "I loved my father. I'll never forget him, but to think now . . . I have two fathers. You may not have known at the time, but I'm glad it was you who took me in. I don't know if I could have bared it if someone else had taken me in. And if I learned this from someone else . . . I'm glad it was you. It just feels right."
"I want to acknowledge you as my son," Bruce went on. "But I don't want you to ever forget about John Grayson. If you want, we can add the name of Wayne to your name."
"Richard John Grayson-Wayne," Dick tried it on for size. "I like it. I think Mom and Dad would have been honored. My dad probably would have been angry at first because I wasn't his kid, but . , , I'm glad I didn't know back then. Maybe it was supposed to happen like this. Oh I don't mean them being killed. I mean . . . finding out about this. It just means, I've now had two great dads . . . and one of them is Batman."
Bruce smiled at that and lowered his head, trying to hide the tears of joy and pride. They were really father and son, and he was even more proud of having Dick as his partner as Batman. They were a team, and they would stay that way. No father could be more proud than he was at that moment.