FIC: The Hardest Part (4/4)
Title: The Hardest Part
Pairing: Wally/Dick/Artemis (Museum Heist)
Genre: Slice of life (?)
Warnings: Sexually suggestive and an established poly-relationship.
Summary: It just made perfect sense. He loved her and he loved her. She loved them. And of course they loved each other. What was so difficult about explaining that? Well, apparently it was.
A/N: So this is the final part. It was, forgive the pun, the hardest part to write. It really was. I hope it is a satisfying end. I'll edit any typos when I can, so please forgive me. Please let me know what you think. Reviews always make me feel so much better about myself. ^_^
Today is the day, Wally West thought as he nervously prepared himself. And I'm on.
All were sat in a semi circle of chairs, awkwardly staring at him, Dick and Artemis. Taking advantage of the nervous silence, his aunt Iris once more attempted a conversation stroke impromptu interview with The Caped Crusader. Fortunately, her husband, also dressed in superhero slacks, managed to intervene. Batman remained as taciturn as ever. Wally's parents were immersed in a hushed conversation which Paula Crock who sat next to them in her wheelchair awkwardly pretended not to be listening to. Dick, sitting on Wally's right, gave a small cough and the whispering by the married couples slowly began to die down.
The room quickly refilled with an air of discomfort similar to that at the start of the gathering.
"Uhm, more beverages or snacks?" Artemis asked hoping the question came out cheerful, calm and casual instead of a desperate plea for one's life. Snacks really had eased the tension earlier but as her eyes nervously darted around the room it was clear to her that no one came for friendly chitchat and drinks.
No one came for crab cakes, the ones she had joked about making but ended up slaving over all morning following a less than simple recipe from M'gann.
Instead, they eagerly awaited some answers.
"You're up West." Dick muttered under his breath elbowing Wally to do his part. He came as Nightwing and Wally's parents had been uncomfortably eying him for the past half hour.
Wally grumbled under his breath about the injustice of it all and how he had been set-up. He wondered if it was too late to return to a less complicated bachelor lifestyle and vowed that after today, there would a full-blown Wally West investigation into concept of drawing straws. There had to be a reason why he always ended up with the short one.
Cursing Artemis and Dick, he drew a deep breath and began his poorly rehearsed speech.
"So friends, family and uhm...Batman." Wally swallowed hard but the Dark Knight remained still, a formidable looking statue. "By now you must all be wondering what you are doing here. Besides snacking on Chicken Whizees, crabcakes and OJ! Hahaha! How are we all doing for snacks by the way, care for more?" He tried one time, his voice cracking under the stress.
"No thank you. Please continue." Paula Crock whispered, speaking for the first time since her arrival. "I think we all just want to know what is wrong."
"Nothing! I mean, there is nothing wrong" An awkwardly loud laugh from the red-head was hardly convincing anyone and Wally knew this too. But Artemis's mother and her certain tone had caught him off-guard. He was pretty sure the others felt the same way; this was supposed to be good news they were about to share. So why did it feel like someone had died?
"We gathered you all here for an important reason." Wally started again trying to speak slower. "You are our teachers and our loved ones. We owe so much to you and that is why we have to share some important news with you. Of the 'not bad variety'."
He could feel Dick and Artemis grimace beside him.
And now for the hardest part.
"When in love, there comes a time when...uhm...those...in love... feel the need to make certain commitments. To each other. These commitments are important enough to require them to share the news with the rest of the world...starting with their famili-"
"Well I'll be damned!" Mr. West exclaimed interrupting his son. Next to him, his wife gave out a delighted shriek.
"Wallace West, are you trying to tell us you are getting married?" She asked failing to contain her excitement long enough to hear the answer.
"Eh what now?" Wally replied with a baffled look on his face.
"Oh that is wonderful news Wally!" Iris jumped up to embrace her nephew but she was beaten there by his mother. Mrs. West, in an instant raced over to smother her son with kisses and in between continued her high-pitched wails of wonder. "OH MY BOY, WHEN DID YOU BECOME A MAN?"
"Yes, Wally's all grown up!" Iris giggled pushing to get in on what she expected would slowly be turning into a group hug.
Suddenly under attack by two women; who at that point moved faster than the super powered men in their family, Wally froze to ground like he'd just been hit by Captain Cold's freeze gun. What was happening, he groaned, how could they have misunderstood so much?
And worse, how was he going to make this right?
"Oh dear, you sure you want to be tied down by this scoundrel?" Mr. West chuckled slowly moving to give a congratulatory bear hug to person he assumed would be his new daughter-in-law. Over his shoulder Artemis could see her mother's eyes glisten with unshed tears.
"I love you." Paula mouthed as the corners of her mouth creased. There was an unfamiliar look on her face as she smiled. It was happiness, the kind her daughter never knew the former villainess had left in that tired broken body of hers.
Artemis felt herself slowly be overcome with panic.
This was wrong. All wrong.
Dick Grayson sat in the same position, tense and uneasily examining Batman's reaction to the celebration. He could tell Bruce knew better than to prematurely congratulate Artemis and Wally. Dick could tell simply by the way Bruce scowled at that look of obvious pain on his former ward's face.
Dick had to breathe deeply to stop himself from choking up.
There were no such things as simple happy endings and Dick knew he would be responsible for destroying this scene of jubilation. It was a thought made him feel sick and heartbroken.
Barry Allen had his own doubts – he wanted to be happy for his nephew, he truly did. But something didn't quite sit well with him. The choice of venue, the lack of ring, the expression of fear of Wally's face as he took to floor to make his speech and mostly what confused him was the darkly dressed and masked guest that sat with his arms folded.
Why on earth would Wally invite Batman to break the news of his engagement?
Barry eyes widened as he finally figured out why.
"Mom, dad, aunt Iris...please no...enough with the kissing...please. Sit down." Wally West groaned gently trying to free himself from the two women who were unknowingly going to suffocate him. It took some effort, but the sisters finally managed to calm down and return to their seats. Mr. West gave his son a firm pat on the shoulder before taking his seat too.
"Wally. Does this good news you have somehow concern the team? I mean is Artemis...is she...are you..." Barry wasn't quite sure how to tell his nephew that he felt uncomfortable at the thought of becoming a great-uncle at this age. After all, that was the only explanation as to why they were all here instead of at home, why Bruce and Dick were here in their costumes. Artemis and Wally had not officially returned to the team, but had been on a casual basis partaking in a few missions recently. And all this speak of commitments and love – at such a young age – Barry was no fool, he knew guys Wally's age didn't jump to marry their girlfriends.
No matter how much they loved them.
This was more than just an engagement announcement.
"How far along are you?" He finally managed to ask turning to Artemis. Barry loved his nephew but to be to be perfectly honest Wally wasn't exactly prime father material. So young, so inexperienced. Barry rubbed his face hoping to hide any sign that may betray the feelings he had.
However, one glance at the others' in the room and Barry knew they all shared his worries. Now how were they going to phrase it, the clear issue they had with this news? How, Barry wondered, without upsetting their children.
The mood went from celebration to quiet concern in an instant.
It took Wally a moment to catch on. "Dude! No! Just no." He cried frantically waving his hands in denial. How did this get so messy so quickly?
Dick asked himself the same question quietly from his seat. He was beginning to wonder if there was a place for him at all here.
"I'm not pregnant." Artemis spoke calmly, correcting the mistake. "Mom? I'm not, honestly." She repeated for her mother's sake, realising the dark-haired woman in the wheelchair needed to hear this more than anyone else in the room.
"Oh...that's" Good, Paula Crock wanted to so desperately finish off. One grandchild for the moment was enough to deal with. No, her youngest daughter had her whole future ahead of her – college and a career. Things she never had. Children and marriage could wait for now.
Slowly, puzzled looks began to form once more on everyone's faces.
No one was getting married and thankfully no one was pregnant, so why were they all here?
"I think I should sit down." And keep my mouth shut, Wally thought to himself. Let the others take over because his speech had caused enough damage.
"Spit it out." Batman growled surprising everyone in the room. But the superhero paid no attention to the stares he got; his eyes were firmly on his adopted son.
Dick felt his heart drop. He could tell that his mentor didn't appreciate the spectacle, the crowd and the constant beating around the bush. I should have told him privately. But it wasn't his secret to tell. They were in this together. This, no matter how excruciatingly painful, was how they had to do it.
Sensing his best friend of years tense beside him, Wally instinctively reached for Dick's hand and squeezed it in support.
There was a clear intake of air at that moment. All eyes' on that small gesture. There was no mistaking the soft smile that played on Wally's lips for anything other than what it was – love.
And not the platonic type.
The people in the room, except for Batman, began to fidget uncomfortably. But Wally ignored it, the stares could wait because right now Dick was all he cared about.
Wally knew how hard his lover was on himself, trying to be something he could never be, judging his every move by Batman's impossible standards. Recently their relationship had brought Dick Grayson that relief he needed as he took another step out of the shadow of the Bat to build a life of his own.
He knew Bruce Wayne loved his children, his Robins, but sometimes Wally hated the man for being so hard on them. He could feel Batman's eyes slightly narrow underneath the cowl.
"You are our loved ones and we want you to understand that this is how we choose to live our lives." Wally sternly responded to small gasps of shock coming from all around the room when he kissed Dick softly on the mouth. Dick turned to look at him, grateful for the strength and confidence with which Wally spoke the words.
"But..." A small voice began, tragic eyes slowly turning towards Artemis. All eyes were now on the blonde, looks of pity, confusion and worst of all awkwardness. Paula Crock looked like she was about to cry for her daughter.
"I'm okay, mom." Artemis smiled as she took hold of Dick's other hand provoking frowns from the Wests. "This is how we choose to live our lives. Surrounded by all those who love us." Borrowing Wally's words was all she could manage. She spoke slow and purposefully but still afraid. She held on tighter not daring to let go.
No one spoke for what felt like an eternity.
"Right...How does this...uhm...this arrangement...exactly work?" Barry Allen finally managed to put into words the questions that raced through his mind.
"We love each other. All three of us. It is as simple as that." Dick responded immediately taking lead feeling Artemis and Wally's hands allowed a renewed sense of assurance surge through him. "This is how it works. We wake up every day knowing we are there for each other."
"Just like you and Aunt Iris. Or you mom and dad." Wally pointed out. "It really is no different."
His father scoffed at the words. "But it is, isn't it." He shook his head fiercely "Son, This isn't normal." Mr. West's voice was like a small plea – for reason.
"How will it work if you decide to have children?" Mrs. West cried horrified at the idea, her voice quivered. She was hysterical and almost in tears.
"Don't say that!" A sudden yell caused Mrs. West to jump out of her skin and finally burst into tears. Her husband's voice was loud and full of rage; he was on his feet now shaking his head furiously at the mere mention of children being born into such a situation.
"This is just a phase, Mary. Please don't give the children stupid ideas." Barry whispered placing a calming hand on the shoulder of his brother-in-law. "Really, there is no need to get worked up, buddy."
"We are not children and if the day comes where we want to discuss the possibility of having children of our own then-." Wally began to explain as calmly as he could, but trying to keep a lid of his own anger was proving to be difficult. "We will discuss it the same way other people would."
"Don't be ridiculous, boy! My grandchildren can't have a mom and two dads! I always wondered about you Wally but when you brought home Artemis, I just thought I was wrong." A disappointed sigh came from the man that raised him. Wally's face reddened. His father's words felt like a super powered punch to the gut.
"I never took you for a judgemental hateful homophobic sorta guy, dad." Wally hissed his chest aching with hurt and anger.
"Don't you dare call me that!" Pleas came from around the room, begging Rudolph West to calm down, despite it all Wally was still his son. But that is not what Mr. West meant. "I am not, nor will I ever be a homophobe Wallace." Wally was shocked to see the hurt on his father's face at the accusation. "But this...Wally...please..." Voice shaking with emotion, Mr. West paused less than second.
"Wally...it's not the same." Like a dam breaking, tears began to fall down the large man's face. Not proud of showing such weakness Mr. West turned away whilst he tried to pull himself together. Wally felt himself want to comfort his father but in the end couldn't bring himself to move from his spot. Instead he squeezed Dick Grayson's hand even harder and stared fiercely at his mother who looked ready to take over from her husband and try to talk 'some sense' into him.
"For one," She began her voice also shaking. "How on earth can we accept someone who won't even take his mask off in front of us?"
Dick sighed; this was his moment to do what he knew he had to do. He could feel Bruce begin to stir from his seat.
"Nightwing." The one word was supposed to sound like a gruff command from a man he both respected and slightly feared but in truth it was as powerless as prayer.
Dick paused for a moment to look at Batman who now stood – he was hardly near him but some reason Dick felt like the man towered over him. Dick took a deep breath and also rose from his seat, Artemis and Wally with him.
"Don't." The Dark Knight growled, short and to the point and Dick felt his own hands curl into fists. Barry Allen, The Flash, shook his head with disapproval.
"Kid, you don't want to do it like this. You know that." He deserve more respect that this, Barry couldn't bring himself to say it out loud fearing it would antagonise Dick Grayson further. He stood next to his friend in support. "Nightwing, come on. Don't do this." Barry repeated, desperately wanted to spare his fellow Justice Leaguer and friend the humiliation and feeling of betrayal. Opposing Bruce like this will hurt your relationship more than whatever this is Dick, he thought.
What am I worth if I take this off, Bruce? Dick wasn't sure, but he knew what his relationship with Artemis and Wally was worth - everything.
"There is nothing I can do about this, I'm sorry but this isn't about you, Batman. Or the League or the team. This is about us."And with that apology Dick Grayson removed the mask that protected his identity.
Clear blue unflinching eyes met everyone in the room.
"Mr. and Mrs. West. Iris, Mrs. Crock. My name is Richard Grayson and I love Wally West and Artemis Crock with all my heart." Dick spoke clearly. "I won't, can't change that anymore than I can change the years, the blood, sweat and tears I have given to protecting the people as Robin and as Nightwing."
Dick's eyes were firmly fixed on the man who took him in all those years ago, the man who gave him a purpose and a new identity. "I just can't." He pleaded his voice strained with emotion. For a moment he thought the dark figure would march right past him and out of the room or worse. But he was surprised to see Bruce fall back into his seat without a word.
Artemis had remained uncharacteristically quiet for most of the gathering, but watching the men she loved immersed in a staring contest with their parents gave her the courage to finally address her own.
"Mom..." Was all she managed to whisper before sinking back into her seat and hanging her head low with shame. "Oh God," she muttered not daring to look back at the woman who gave up so much for her sake.
Wally and Dick approached to comfort her but she shook them off. Artemis needed a moment to herself and they understood. Uproar from the Wests and Wally had his hands full.
She could hear Wally's aunt Iris asking perfectly reasonable questions about the nature of their relationship which provoked her sister and sister's husband to snap at her for 'legitimising an abnormal thing'. Iris West began to defend herself against the accusation by claiming to do no such thing, however, things quickly escalated with Wally turning to attack her for being as judgemental as the people she was arguing with. Stuck in the middle, Barry joined the argument to calm things down but his only contribution was to add to noise.
Artemis sighed and shook her head. How did this happen, she thought both her heart and head ached. Eyes shut, hugging herself; she suddenly felt a hand on her knee.
She raised her head only to find herself looking into the watery eyes dark eyes of her mother who had wheeled over to her. Ignoring the chaos surrounding them she spoke in a soft whisper.
"All I want is for you to be happy. I don't understand how it works. But all I want is for you to be happy." Paula Crock stuttered, fighting back the emotions that were swelling up inside her. She wasn't sure what to think, she wasn't sure if she was in fact okay with the path her daughter had chosen. All she knew was that she loved her daughter and because of that Paula Crock knew she just had to learn how to deal with this. The tears began to leak.
"Mom don't cry." Artemis felt like a child, helpless and scared. "I am so sorry I disappointed you." Her face too began to wet.
"I just..." Paula felt herself choke on the words she wanted to so desperately be able to say.
"Wanted me to have a traditional boring life?" Artemis helpfully interjected.
Paula didn't respond. She didn't have to.
They paused for a moment and laughed hysterically at how ridiculous it sounded.
"Yes, Artemis." Paula's tears didn't stop and yet she was laughing. "A traditional, safe and happy life."
The laughter stopped and both women were breathing heavily trying to stop the tears.
"I know." Artemis began to speak but soon enough gave up and began to sob uncontrollably into her mother's lap. "Mom, I am so so sorry." She muttered, her tears were like an apology trying to say all that she couldn't. You deserved better than this, mom. Better than that monster of a husband, better than this wheelchair, better than this life.
Better than me.
And so Artemis Crock cried, she cried until she felt her exhausted eyes could cry no more.
"Be happy still, huh?" Paula Crock murmured into her daughter's golden hair, holding her close as she shed her last few tears. "You can still do that. Hush now and just be happy." She lifted her daughter's head and kissed her on her eyelids. Artemis nodded as her mother held her face in her worn out, weary hands.
"I am mom. So happy." She breathed, finally managing to stop the tears. "Happier than I have ever been." Her mother nodded slowly.
"Good." She whispered and she meant it. Artemis is happy, that had to be enough for Paula Crock, it just somehow had to be.
Whilst the two women sat in a comfortable closeness and silence, Wally was caught up in a full-fledged fight with his loved ones.
"Are you gay Wally? Or are you confused? I mean what is it sweety, I'm honestly trying to understand here." Iris Allen was frustrated, all this noise but no answers.
"I want them both! This is not about being labelled or sex or anything!" Wally waved his arms furiously, he so desperately was trying to get it through to them but instead of making things any better he received a hard slap in the face.
"Mom!" Wally was surprised by the blow; his parents had never laid a finger on him before. His cheek stung painfully and slowly turned a deep crimson but what hurt the most was his heart. Mary West, showed no remorse and moved to slap him again, however before she could she was restrained by both her sister and husband.
"Calm down Mar!" Mr. West cried trying to hold onto his wife. "He's not worth it!"
"You are such a greedy little attention-seeker sometimes Wally. Can't pick a desert, can't pick a damn lover!" She cried angrily. "A greedy, messed up little boy!"
"He is just confused," Barry tried to explain. "Please calm down everyone, it's going to be okay."
"Hey now! It is his life." Iris snapped at her husband. "Let him tell us what he is."
Hurt, Wally thought, I'm hurt. He silently turned into the arms of Dick and Artemis who ran to shelter him as soon as Mrs. West attacked her son.
"The team...They won't understand this." Barry tried to reach Wally calmly.
"This has nothing to do with the team!" Wally broke free from the protective embrace Dick and Artemis held him in and marched up to his stunned uncle. "You are uncomfortable. You are. So just say what you have to say Uncle Barry instead of hiding behind B.S.! I'm not confused and I won't pick just because you say so. I mean, who says we have to live like this?" Wally screamed daring someone to challenge him; Barry, embarrassed, just avoided looking him in the eyes. "WHO? Because I have had it!"
"ENOUGH!" A booming voice spoke. "Enough." It repeated but this time it was no more than a whisper. Satisfied with the peace he ordered, Batman got up and calmly headed for the exit.
After a moment Dick ran after him leaving his lovers to deal with the renewed conflict that erupted as soon as the door shut behind him.
"Aren't you going to say something?" He stuttered, grabbing Bruce by the shoulder and turning the taller man to face him.
"All the lines for this soap opera were taken." Bruce said dryly, his voice low and calm.
"What does that even mean?" Dick yelled. "What!" He shook his head in disbelief, how could he act like this. Did Bruce Wayne care so little about him? Not enough to slap him like Mary West had her own son, not enough to be moved to tears like Paula Crock?
Why did I think he would act any different than usual, Dick thought, this is who Bruce was now – distant and indifferent. Maybe when he was young, Dick could have relied on more from the man but now this is all there was – Batman.
"Why?" A brief pause from Bruce, because despite Dick's misgivings, he too was finding it harder to choose his words this moment. "Why, did you call me for this Dick?"
"Because I needed to tell you." Without a mask to hide under, Dick Grayson had never looked so vulnerable before in his life.
"This isn't any of my concern." Bruce replied, once more finding that steady dismissive voice Dick was so used to. "It isn't."
"Typical." Dick snorted angrily. "Sure, it isn't. No joker venom or explosions, no interest."
Bruce's only response was to turn and walk away from the younger man.
"I'll see you later." He whispered as he made for the exit.
"Sure Batman." Dick said with such bitterness he had never used before. He shouldn't have expected anymore from the man who'd rather wear a mask and chase insane men every night instead of facing his own demons. But for some reason, Dick couldn't let it go this time.
"Actually no." They needed to talk even though Batman wasn't a big talker it wasn't him the young man wanted to talk to. Dick Grayson deserved a conversation with his adopted father and he was going to get it. "This concerns you Bruce, not Batman." Dick shouted after him.
Bruce stood still and Dick continued to talk to him.
"I called you because whether you remember or not you are my family. You have been since that day I lost my parents. You chose to take me in and you can't take it back now." Dick spoke in a calm and determined tone. "So, whether you like it or not you are the same as those people sitting in that room screaming at each other."
Bruce sighed and turned around. They stood for a moment, facing each other and Dick wasn't sure where to begin. But Bruce waited; he waited patiently for Dick to say what he needed to say. It was the best he could do and Dick knew that.
"I love them Bruce." He finally whispered "I need you to believe that."
"It could be difficult, messy, it will be inconvenient-"
"I know!" Dick interrupted him loudly. He then sighed, an apologetic look formed on his face."Look, I know," This time Dick's voice was no more than a whisper. "I am not an idiot. You didn't raise me to think things would be easy. And you're right, it will be difficult, messy and inconvenient. But aren't all relationships with this superhero gig?"
"I know that." Bruce said in return, there was a small smile on his face, one that surprised Dick. "Just – just don't let it affect your work, Nightwing."
"Is that all?" Dick asked, confused by how the scene was playing out.
"That is all." Bruce replied, indicating he was done talking.
And before Dick could resume the conversation, the door behind them opened, revealing a red-faced and furious Wally West storming out of the room followed a frantic looking Artemis Crock chasing him.
"Fuck them, seriously fuck them." Wally growled under his breath.
"Wally, babe you don't mean that!" Artemis begged, trying her best to keep up with the speedster who despite walking at human speed was still faster than her.
Wally only stopped to shrug his girlfriend's hand off his shoulder then continued to march toward the exit, trying to escape a mess of emotion he could not deal with.
Artemis paused to turn to Dick, an anxious expression on her face, she awkwardly looked at Batman. "Dick..." She whispered, not sure what else to say she continued her pursuit of Wally.
"I..." Dick watched as she disappeared feeling torn between wanting to sprint after her or staying here with Bruce.
Making the decision easier on him, Bruce turned to walk away.
"You should go be with them." He said without turning back to face Dick.
For a moment unsure as to whether or not the conversation was truly over, Dick remained in his place. However, he quickly made up his mind to join Artemis in making sure the distraught redhead they both loved didn't do something they'd all regret later.
It was going to be hard for them, Bruce thought as he materialised out of the Mountain. Bruce thought he knew love but always chose duty over it. But now he wondered if he ever did. All these years, neither as Bruce Wayne or Batman, was he able to truly find that one person he was willing to do for what Dick Grayson did for Wally West and Artemis Crock today. Not one person. And yet here his son, protégée was with two people who he'd gladly give his world to.
It made no sense.
Batman wasn't the world's greatest detective for no reason. No, he knew about it. He knew everything. At first he began to speculate that his former junior crime fighting partner was having an affair with his best friend's girl. And it disappointed Bruce, deeply. Friendships were rare to come by and he didn't think Dick was the sort to betray such a thing. Honestly, some part of him thought he was raised better – Bruce had raised him to be better than that. Then, when he discovered the hotel stays and West boy's involvement it became complicated. And Bruce had tried his best not to think about it.
He had the talk with Dick as a child. That talk about sexual maturity, experiences and safety. It was agonizingly uncomfortable but necessary. But he never prepared either of them for this.
At first, he put it down to young people experimenting and that prevented Bruce from acting upon his new founded knowledge about Dick Grayson's love life. Let them be and nothing changes, Bruce had told himself. Besides, having intimate conversations never were his strong suit so why turn it into another awkward experience, especially when it was much easier to just pretend not to know when the kids themselves tried their bests to hide their relationship.
But now? Now he was supposed to know what was he supposed to do? This arrangement, to be perfectly honest, confused him. Bruce Wayne, the father, more than anything was struggling to understand it. But what about Batman?
Batman was unfazed by the nature of Dick's relationship with his former team-mates.
Raising Dick, Bruce worried that being Batman would prevent him from being an acceptable guardian to the young boy. But in this case, it was Batman who helped Bruce Wayne keep his emotions under control in such a difficult situation. Batman knew better than to let something as trivial as judgement to get in the way of something greater and more important. Batman also knew what loss of love did to a man, understood how rare it was to find happiness and the strength it took to commit to a person whilst living such a perilous life.
There were other paths to happiness Bruce Wayne may not understand but as far as he was concerned any path to happiness was better than the dangerous and lonely road the Batman had set a young and orphaned Richard Grayson on.
He knew about the relationship, but still for some reason Dick had surprised him today. The invite and the way he handled the situation. The way they all did. He didn't expect the three of them to come out and face the situation head on. He didn't expect Dick to make the choice to unmask despite of his protests.
Maybe Batman was angry but only because the Detective wasn't used to being caught off guard. Or being defied. The last time, Dick chose something else over him and failed to follow his commands; Bruce fired Dick from being Robin. And like last time, he was angry but was left with no choice but to in some way also be proud of Dick Grayson's stand.
However, Bruce refused to clash with his son over this. Not this time, because in the end the sincerity and love he saw in Dick's eyes –all of their eyes –had moved him. Bruce couldn't stop thinking about that painful look on Wally West's face as he struggled to make the people he loved understand how he felt. Bruce Wayne knew he had hurt or let down Dick Grayson many times over the years, both as mentor and as a father, but today, he hoped, wasn't one of those times.
Dick thought Bruce was being apathetic, but Bruce wasn't.
He just had time to work out that nothing had changed in their relationship.
That is all.