Dick's words until "Always" comes from Superman/Batman #76, and the poem is by Mary Elizabeth Frye.


"Batman is not dead. I mean, the world cannot know he's dead. All we have left of him is the fear he instilled. That is his legacy, and we need to honor that. We need to honor him. We should remember who he was. All of us. Remember."

Clark could hear the strength in the man's voice, the steely, convincing edge in his words. But that didn't reach his eyes. Dick was pushing through. He wasn't stopping, pausing, allowing himself grief. They gave him that. He feared that if he fell apart now, he would never put himself back together.

It wouldn't have been so hard to stand there, before Bruce's parent's graves, listening to the man who knew Bruce best in the world hide away his pain, if it weren't for the boy. Tim Drake stood there, and his eyes were red and tired. He didn't cry, but he covered his face, unable to bear the weight of the moment.

"To acknowledge his passing spits in the face of everything he fought for. Everything he was. Batman lives. Always."

Silently, Dick stood there before them. He didn't move and he didn't look up at them, either. Clark saw Oliver turn his face away, his head slightly bowed as if in prayer, and Dinah gently reached out to Tim, cradling the boy in her arms. Diana looked up at the sky, her eyes closed, no doubt silently invoking her own gods to bless Bruce's spirit and his family. J'onn hovered above them, invisible, but Clark could hear him. Arthur lingered behind the rest of them, never looking completely up. Zatanna, whom Clark had almost been surprised to see there, only watched the patch of dirt under which Bruce's parents were laid hauntingly.

In the distance, Clark could hear another body. A boy – a man – hid in the shadows on the outskirts of the graveyard. He carried weapons. Guns. How dare this man bring a gun to Bruce's-

Clark peered out again, and the protest within him fell silent as he recognized the body. It seemed all of Bruce's adopted sons had come home to say goodbye.

"Before we go," Dick continued, his voice weaker now, his eyes dropping down to the wet ground, "I…I would like to read a poem for him. To…reflect on what he might wish to say to us. All of us."

He paused and took a breath. The silence was broken only by the clicking of cicadas, emerging as the sun began to set.

When Dick began again, every word, every syllable, every sound was filled with emotion, as if it would brim over and flood them all at any moment. Clark heard every heartbeat in the graveyard, all slowly beginning to beat in tune.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep," recited Dick.

A breeze of gentle wind across the grass.

"I am not there. I do not sleep."

Zatanna raised a hand to cover her mouth, eyes pressed tightly shut.

"I am a thousand winds that blow."

Ollie's shuddering breath betrayed him.

"I am the diamond glints on snow."

Dick stopped abruptly, overcome with emotion. Frozen, he clenched his jaw. After a few long moments, he continued, his voice slowly breaking apart.

"I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain."

Tim's sob broke the silence. Dick was shaking now, but he continued resolutely.

"When you awaken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight."

Dick raised a hand to his face, wiping away tears from his cheeks, his words coming in choked, broken breaths.

"I am the soft stars that shine at night."

Diana reached out to Clark. He looked at her. Glittering diamond tear tracks trailed down her face, dripping from her chin. There was a beautiful, bittersweet smile on her face.

Dick muttered, "Do not stand at my grave and cry."

His hand went out to trail against the names carved in stone on the monument.

"I am not there," he whispered. "I did not die."

A moment of intense, permeating sorrow. It snuck around their ankles like a fog, creeping under their skin, enveloping them until they were suddenly, powerfully hit with the full force of it, and lungs constricted and hands shook and tears fell and the grief, the grief was overwhelming, it was all-encompassing, and for a moment all hope and light had gone from life.

And then Dick Grayson stood up straight, and turned, gaze on the ground, to gently take Tim from Dinah's embrace. He held him tightly, then let go for a moment to wrap strong arms around the old man who stood behind them all. The old man who had spent decades raising the man they mourned. The old man who had kept Bruce alive all these years, even when the rest of them abandoned him.

Clark felt his pain dwarfed in comparison to this old man's, and just as much as he had ever felt for Bruce, awe and respect swelled up within him.

Dick turned around to face them, unashamed of the tears in his eyes. "Thank you all for coming," he said. "He respected you all deeply. He would have been honored to see you here today."

He turned to Tim and said something quietly, inaudible to all except Clark. Tim nodded and Alfred laid a gentle hand on the boy's back, leading him away, out of the big cemetery.

J'onn, Arthur and Zatanna left without a word to the others. While Oliver and Dinah paused to speak to Dick, Clark glanced at Diana. That same sad smile was on her face.

"Why are you smiling?" he asked her.

She met his gaze, then looked away, shaking her head slightly. "Bruce is still getting his way," she murmured. "Even in death."

He looked at her.

"I would have brought flowers," she continued, "or herbs to burn. Or I would have come to his funeral dressed as a mourner, wailing in our shared anguish, singing to the gods to carry his spirit safely from this world into the next. But I was asked to avoid drawing attention to the ceremony. So I grieve silently." She paused. She looked up at the winged monument to Bruce's mother and father. "I would have brought coins," she said, just over a whisper. "To help him pay the toll across the River Styx." She looked back at Clark and that smile returned. "But he doesn't need me to pay for him."

Clark just looked at her.

"So he got his way," she sighed. "He respected my mythology, but he never believed in it. He would have scorned my attempts to honor him on the behalf of the gods."

"He would have appreciated it," Clark said quietly. "He…he always knew that you cared for him, Diana."

She nodded. "Yes," she said. "I know he did." She looked at the earth beneath their feet. "I only wish I had…expressed…to him…"

"I know," said Clark gently, painfully. "He was so good at staying in the shadows, it was easy to forget the man of flesh and blood beneath the cowl."

"It's not right. The people of Gotham have just lost their greatest savior, and they don't even know."

"He never did this for acknowledgement. He didn't anticipate or want the fame that clung to his name."

"They should be crying in the streets."

"You heard Dick. Batman never dies."

"No," said Diana. "Batman remains."

She folded her arms across her chest.

"But our friend is dead," she said, almost resentfully. "And they can say what they like about him, but he was the noblest of us all. Our loss runs deep. We will move forward without him, but not a single day will pass where I don't think of his strength, and let it inspire my convictions."

Clark let out a little sigh. "I'll miss him too, Diana," he murmured. "I miss him too."

Dick spared an embrace for both Superman and Wonder Woman and they stood there together for just one moment, a woeful emptiness wedged between them, their Trinity torn from its holy place, buried symbolically under their feet.

"He was a good man," said Clark.

"He was strong," said Diana soothingly. "Stronger than anyone ever credited him for." She paused, then added, "Except for you, Dick."

He nodded. "Thank you," he said. "If he had to go, then I think this is the way he'd have wanted it."

"Goodnight, Dick."

Dick couldn't quite look at him as he replied. "Goodnight, Mister Kent," he mumbled, then, nodding at Diana, "Princess."

He took both their hands, and then turned and left, following Tim and Alfred's path back to the Manor.

The Kryptonian and the Amazon stood there in silence for a moment.

Then he said, "I sometimes forget how young he was when this all began."

"Bruce raised him well."

Silence.

"I should go," said Diana. She embraced him, then said, "Goodbye, Clark."

She left, disappearing into the darkening night sky, and Clark was alone.

...

It took a while for Damian to leave, but eventually he got the idea and headed up to his room, Alfred in tow, complaining all the way.

And Dick was left alone with Bruce.

They looked at each other. The Bunker was humming slightly, lit up brightly despite the time. They both wore civilian clothes. No Batmen. There was only Dick, and Bruce.

Dick took an unsteady step towards him but the embrace they shared was strong and firm. The younger man let out a gasp, a short, shuddering breath.

"I can't believe it," he breathed. "I thought you were…I actually thought…"

"I know," replied Bruce lowly.

"Even when I figured it out – I still thought – I couldn't believe-"

"It's okay, Dick. I never trained you to entertain the impossible."

Dick retreated slightly, but still held onto Bruce's arms, as if afraid to let him go. "I guess I owe Tim a huge apology," he said regretfully. "That kid believed in you the whole time, you know."

"Yes. I already spoke to him."

"Is he okay? He was in a really bad place last time I saw him. I was a jerk to him, I don't know, I was just really stressed and wasn't thinking right, what with trying to be Batman and trying to handle Damian – Tim hates him, by the way, absolutely hates him-"

"Understandably," answered Bruce. "I promised him that Damian wouldn't take his place."

Dick made a face. "But Damian needed this."

"I know he did. And he works well with you. You've done a lot for him." He paused, then said, "But Tim deserves better than that. Especially from you."

Dick finally let go of Bruce, and ran a hand through his hair. "I know," he admitted. "But I panicked. You know? I didn't know what to do and I thought Tim – I just forgot how much he's lost in the past few years. I just forgot about it. It's unacceptable and I am so, so sorry for it."

Bruce nodded. There was a short silence. And then Bruce glanced at Dick's head and said, "You cut your hair."

Dick blinked, slightly taken aback by the comment. "Um," he began uncertainly, "yeah, I guess I did. Cowl fits better this way."

He looked at Bruce, who didn't say anything more.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "I mean, I know you just got back – you probably saw, like, everything – so you're probably not – I mean…" he shook he head, then repeated, "Are you okay?"

Bruce looked at Dick for a long, long time.

And then he said, "Yes, Dick. I'm okay." He paused, then, "You just look different. Older."

Suddenly, Dick couldn't keep a stupid grin off his face. "Yeah, well," he said, shrugging, "I've heard being Batman can get kind of stressful." He tugged at his hair above his ear and muttered, "I mean, look at this, I've got gray hairs already!"

A low rumbling in Bruce's throat. A laugh. Dick's grin only widened; he felt like a kid again, like a dumb teenager unable to hide his delight.

He reached out and pulled Bruce close again, hugging him tightly.

"I missed you," whispered Dick, almost desperately, as if words alone could not convey what he needed to explain. "You should've seen me. In the beginning, I…I almost couldn't do it. I just wasn't ready for you to go."

"If our loved ones had to wait until we were ready before they died," Bruce replied gently, "we would all live forever."

Dick almost laughed, but it came out more like a sob. "We made you proud," he continued lowly, earnestly. "Damian and I. It was like the good old days. I was around him so much, I mean, he doesn't really have anybody else. I'm his best friend, and his brother, and-"

"His father?"

Dick pulled away slightly, meeting Bruce's gaze, almost visibly nervous about the parallel. "I don't mean to-"

"It's all right," Bruce replied, bowing his head slightly. "You don't have to be blood to make that bond. Believe me. I know."

Dick couldn't say anything for a moment, then pulled Bruce in again for another embrace. "I love you," he said, holding the older man tightly. "Don't scare me like that again. Don't die again unless one of us is watching to confirm, okay?"

Another chuckle. "Drop the dark humor, Dick. It's unbecoming."

"Hey, side effect of the suit. If you wanted to avoid that, you could've, hmm, let's see – not have gotten killed."

"I wasn't-"

"Yeah, sure, too good for that, blah, blah, blah. One day somebody's gonna shoot you. Right in the face. And then what?"

"And then you will fill my place," said Bruce, before Dick could continue. "And you will do a damn fine job of it."

Dick paused again, this time almost suspiciously. "Drop the excess praise," he said, echoing Bruce's comment. "It's weird."

"You're a disappointment."

"Much better."

This time, Bruce initiated the embrace, holding Dick tightly.

"It scares me sometimes, you know."

Dick blinked. "What does?"

A pause. "You."

"Me? Why?"

Bruce pulled away, shaking his head. "You were so young when this began," he said. "And now…look at you."

Dick grinned. "Yeah," he said. "All grown up."

Bruce just looked at him searchingly. "You've done so much," he said. "And you did it all without me."

"That's not true," said Dick. "You were…never really gone, Bruce. I don't think you ever will be. Not as long as the symbol exists."

There was a silence. And then Bruce dropped his gaze, and nodded towards the stairs, which they began to climb.

"Your funeral was really lame, by the way," said Dick, grinning, falling into step behind Bruce. "In case you wanted to know."

"No funeral. No memorial. For future reference."

"Ah, it wasn't big. Clark, Diana, Ollie and Dinah. You know what was weird, though? Aquaman was there. I thought that was weird. Oh yeah, Zatanna was there too. Are you two still, like, doing it?"

"Excuse me?"

"You totally are."

Bruce almost laughed, but it was out of incredulity. "I almost forgot. You never stop talking."

"Never. You know, I read something at the funeral."

"Did you."

"Yep. The lyrics to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Clark got mad at me. I told him Gaga was your favorite artist."

"You never change, Dick."

"It was so touching. Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, you and me could write a bad romance. Pretty sure Ollie was in tears."

"Deeply moving, I'm sure. Now go to your room."

Dick gaped at him indignantly. "I'm twenty-eight years old," he said. "You can't send me to my room. I'm Batman!"

"I have seniority."

"Is that how it's gonna work from now on? Should I rename myself Batman, Junior?"

"Dick," said Bruce. "Go to your room."

Dick didn't move, raising an eyebrow at the older man.

Bruce relented. "Please."

A smile broke out across Dick's face. "Yeah," he said. "Been a long night. A long couple of months, to be honest. A long year."

He met Bruce's gaze, unflinching, unwavering, open and honest.

"A long time without you," he said.

Bruce returned the gaze.

And then Dick turned away. "Goodnight, Boss," he called, heading away. "Glad to have you back."

Bruce stood there, even as Dick disappeared, and something deep in his heart – something that had been gone and cold and missing for too long – turned warm again.

"Goodnight, Dick," he murmured, and he was not alone.


Just a little bit of sadness and fluff because I love Dick and Bruce's relationship so much, oh my goodness.