A dark shadow dropped to a window ledge and sat, staring inward. No, he negated. Don't. Please don't. Don't do it, Dick, don't- His mouth tightened as the young man seated at the table on the far side of the room drew a thin knife across his wrist, red following in the wake of the steel. He looked at it for a minute, wiped some of the blood away as it ran down onto the towel under his arm, and then positioned the blade for another slice. Unable to watch him do it again, a gauntleted hand rose to tap at the glass. I'd rather just break in and stop you, but I don't think you'd take that very well. The last thing I want to do is alienate you even further than I already have.

Dick looked up, saw the figure outside, and started. I was so into it I didn't even notice he was there, he thought slowly. Wow. No wonder he's disappointed in me. Considering the weapon in his hand, he tried to imagine what would happen if he slipped it between his ribs and into his heart rather than getting up to unlock the panes. Would he even react? Well, probably. He'd have to. I mean, if anyone saw him outside of a suicide's window, but he didn't do anything…he'd have a tough time explaining that away, even if he is out of his usual range. It didn't matter; he wasn't quite ready for that final twist, in any case.

He pulled the bolt up, then returned to his seat, not waiting to see if the man would actually come in. Regaining the dagger, he resumed his activity, a second line coming halfway to life before his hand was dragged away. "Back off," he hissed.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"What the hell do you care?" he asked, glaring up at the blank lenses.

"I want you to stop this, Dick," came a plea in a tone that the seated figure had heard come from under the cowl only a few times. Interesting, he thought. Batman's clothes, Bruce's voice. That always throws me off guard. His wariness grew when one hand released him to clear the eye slits, revealing a pained gaze that drilled straight to his core. "I want to talk."

"You said your piece last week. You know," he sniped. "On Christmas." Ripping his arm free, he turned his attention back downward and finished tracing the second path.

Bruce watched him, rocked to the core. He doesn't even care that I'm standing here watching him do this to himself, he sobbed internally. Oh, god, baby, what's happened to make you so unhappy? It can't all be you and I, it can't be. Who else has hurt you? Striding back to the window, he yanked the curtains shut, then sat heavily across from his son, now picking out a spot to start another slash, and removed his cowl.

That got his attention. "Have you lost your mind? The window…" he turned to look at it, and saw that the drapes had been closed. "Oh." Returning his eyes to the man on the other side of the table, he felt something twist in his stomach. "You're crying," he noted the tears. "So what happened to who? It better not be Tim," he warned.

"I don't know what happened," he answered simply. "You tell me."

"Goddamn it, Bruce! Could you try not being a cryptic bastard for once?" He threw the knife down on the table. "Haven't you done that to me enough lately?" They stared at each other for several long, tense seconds, and then Dick dropped his head to the crook of his elbow and began to sob silently. He felt large, square fingers encase his hand, gripping it tightly.

"I'm sorry," the billionaire breathed. Catharsis. Thank Christ, I thought it was going to be much more difficult to drag out of him than this…he's so stubborn. Like I am…

A tiny gasp. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Yeah, well, maybe I don't believe it."

And why should you? he concurred. I haven't given you a whole lot of reasons recently to think I'm serious about making amends. "Dick. Look at me." He waited until watery eyes met his. "I'm sorry."

He gulped, still looking wary. "No, Bruce. I just…after everything…I want to believe you, you have no idea how much I want what you just said to be the truth, but…I can't accept it. I'm sorry, but I can't live like this anymore."

His fingers tightened desperately. "Don't say that," he begged. "I'm sorry about last week, I've been thinking about it ever since. I regretted it immediately. It wasn't me talking, it was the cowl."

"The cowl is just another side of you, Bruce!" He pulled away roughly and stood up. "Can't you see that? How can I settle things with you if they aren't settled with Batman? Oh, right; I can't, because you're one and the same, at the deepest level of your being. No matter how hard you try to deny that, Bruce, you know it's the truth. You use Batman as a manifestation of your anger, and that's fine, but it means that if you're mad at me, even subconsciously, it will come out when you put on that cowl."

"…You're wrong."

"I'm not wrong, and you know it."

Damn it. "Can't you just take what I'm offering? I'm trying, can't you see that? Isn't this enough? Why does every side of me have to be completely happy with you?"

"Because that's how it was when things were good, Bruce," he spat. "That's how it was when…" his voice dropped, his eyes falling to the floor. "…when you still loved me."

"…Why would you ever think I had stopped loving you? You're my son, I will never stop loving you."

"You don't need me anymore," he explained with a shrug, leaning heavily against the back of his chair, almost doubling over as his stomach twisted. The open wounds on his arm bled in small rivulets, dripping onto the carpet below. "And there's no room for the unnecessary in Batman's life. I was the prototype, but now…you've got better models now. What do you need the grainy original for when you've got sharper copies? Don't get me wrong, I love Tim, and Jason, despite what he's done recently, but…they're your children now. I understand that, I really do, but…it still hurts. That's not your fault, and I don't expect you to do anything about it. It's just the way it is."

Bruce gaped at him. Better models? Sharper copies? Dick…how can you feel like that? I know I said some awful things – we both did, to be fair – but I would never tell you that they're better or more important than you, because it would be a lie. "…Is this because I adopted Jason?" he asked, trying to find a reason, any reason, for the words he'd just heard.

"You adopted Tim, too," the younger man reminded him. "Well, you're working on it."

"So he told you." Shit.

"Yeah. He tells me a lot of things. But that's not why, Bruce. It hurts, but like I said, I was the guinea pig. You figured it would work better if you adopted them, so you did. No hard feelings. You were still…working out the formula with me."

"You are not a guinea pig," he snapped. "And you never were."

"Look, you want the full run down?" his voice tightened, angry. "Fine. We had disagreements, we said terrible things to each other – I never meant it when I said I hated you, by the way, but I think you already knew that – but that's what teenagers do with their parents. And I know you knew that, too, because you never kicked Jason out of Gotham for yelling at you. It got to the point where all you said was 'you can do better,' never 'you did a good job.' The last time you told me that I –me, myself, not the whole team – did well on a mission was six days after my sixteenth birthday. Over a year before our last fight, Bruce. Before that, you used to praise me regularly. Batman's not exactly a compliment machine with the current Robin, but I know you give him more blatant encouragement than you were giving me that last year. I see it on his face. He stopped telling me the specifics because he knows it hurts me, but I still see it.

"I was about to transition out of Young Justice when we fought last. Did you know that?" Seeing a shake of Bruce's head, he smirked. "Yeah, I didn't figure Superman had told you. I wanted it to be a surprise. I would have been the youngest ever. Barely seventeen. Even Wally waited until he was eighteen, and I know he still had doubts about his place for six months. I thought you'd be so proud. That last night, when you said that if I kept up the way I was going I'd never make it into the full League? The others had taken a vote that afternoon, and it was damn near unanimous to let me in. They didn't ask your opinion because no one could imagine you saying no. So much for that thought. And that's why I said I'd prove you wrong, Bruce, that's why I said the thing that finally pushed you over the edge; because I'd already done it. I wasn't being cocky, I was trying to tell you that I'd managed something that might finally earn me an approving look again.

"And that was it. After what you said that night, I didn't want to move up. I knew what you'd think; I schmoozed my way in, or charmed everyone without really deserving to be there, or Uncle Clark paved the way. Even putting that aside, I was afraid of what would happen. Eventually we'd be assigned to a mission together, and all of the old problems would come up, and it would all go to hell. I very seriously considered even leaving Young Justice, not for the JLA but just entirely, and disappearing. I thought maybe I could get over your rejection by removing myself from the places and people that would remind me of it. I was packed and everything before Superman talked me out of it. He told me Tim was joining Young Justice – I didn't know that yet, even though I was leading them – and asked me to at least stay long enough that he wouldn't think I'd left because of him. I guess he really knew which buttons to push, because it worked. I stayed for Tim.

"And I see it, Bruce. He's a better detective than I'll ever be. He's controlled, like you are when you're not screaming at me to get out of your house and your city, but he manages to have control without being so goddamn cold. His fighting is getting better, too. The others respect him. When I'm gone, I'm sure he'll lead the team. Three's a lucky number, and Tim is the third. He'll be the best of us, I think. I don't hold that against him, but I don't see much point in sticking around, either. I'm just a…a reminder of things past, old, broken versions that no one really has a use for anymore. I was my best when we were together, and that time has passed. You made that very clear last week. I was a fool for going to Gotham; I should have known. I did know, but I hoped I was wrong. I dunno. Mom always said Christmas was magical; I guess I thought maybe my wish would come true if I went on the right day.

"Now…now I'm just taking up space on the roster. Tim deserves to move up, so I'll make way for him. I don't mind, if it's for him. Superman can stop fielding questions about why I'm still with Young Justice at my age, and he can stop worrying about what will happen the next time the JLA and the team have to work together. Jason resents me anyway, so he won't mind if I'm gone. And you…you'll have one less failed experiment cluttering up your current endeavors. Everybody wins."

"…Everyone but you." Oh, god, Dicky, that's…that's so you.

"I don't have to live feeling useless and unwanted anymore. That's my reward."

"But you aren't those things, damn it!" he protested, slamming his fist down on the table. "I never said those things!"

"You told me I wasn't fit to serve and then kicked me out of Gotham, out of my home, out of the home that you gave me," he said hollowly. "The home you said I would have forever. All of that after a year during which you barely looked at me except to criticize. What part of that series of events did you think would leave me feeling able and loved?"

Hell…I didn't mean…you…goddamn it. "The entire rest of the JLA was contradicting me, so why didn't you listen to them?!"

"Because they were never the ones I was trying to impress, Bruce."

They both fell silent at that, Dick turning away as he repressed his renewed sobs. Only when Bruce came up noiselessly behind him and wrapped him in his arms, burying his face against his hair, did he voice his wails. They stood like that for several minutes, the billionaire rocking them back and forth in an attempt to both comfort and apologize. "I'm sorry," he whispered, the words carrying far more meaning now that he understood how much pain his words and actions had caused the figure trembling in his grasp. "I'm so, so sorry." Please, please forgive me. Stop this stupidity, stop hurting yourself. Come home with me, let Alfred feed you for a few days at least. Please.

"I j-just don't understand why," he cried. "You were so distant that last year, not just as Batman but as Bruce, too. We used to have so much fun together, and then one day it just stopped. I tried to ask you why, to find out what I'd done, but you never answered my questions. I mean, I knew you were busy getting Jason up to speed – that was fine, I didn't mind that – but you couldn't have taken two hours to see if I wanted to go grab lunch or something, or even just to talk? You couldn't have thrown a look that wasn't a glare or a critical evaluation my way when we were on patrol? Would that…would that have cost you so much, Bruce?"

"I was scared, Dick," he confessed quietly. "I was so scared, and I took it out on you when you were the very thing I was afraid for. I didn't see it until we took Jason in, and I had something in my face to compare you to, but…you had gotten so good. I looked at Jason, and it was a reminder of where you'd started all those years before. That was what really made me realize just how far you'd come, how amazing you were. And you were still getting better, every day. I could see it happening. It made me think about how much time had passed, and face the fact that you were all but grown up. I felt like I'd missed it, Dick, even though I was right there. And even though, looking back, we were as close as we'd ever been right before I started, well, being a jackass - I can admit that now, I think – I was so certain that there would be some awful breach coming, and I-"

"You wanted to control it," Dick filled in for him, sniffling, when he sputtered to a stop. "You couldn't stand not knowing when things would begin to fall apart, so you just went ahead and kick-started it. That way it wouldn't be a surprise. At least, not to you."

"Yeah…" As he'd spoken, he'd fathomed the truth of his own words, and the full extent of his mistakes had crashed into view. His arms tightened. I'm so sorry. I know I can never make up for it, but I am so, so sorry…I've been a selfish goddamn idiot… "I didn't know the JLA had taken a vote on you, but I knew it had to be coming soon. You were already gone so frequently, out with Young Justice, but at least there you had a team you could count on. We don't give solo missions to YJ, that was decided when the group was formed. I insisted on it," he disclosed. "But in the League I couldn't have prevented it. You would have had dangerous missions by yourself, and more time away from home because the newer members always get stuck with the longer jobs…and I could just sense you slipping away from me, becoming something, someone, of your own. I loved it, Dick, I loved it because you were changing into this absolutely incredible being, and I knew I'd had a hand in it, and I was so proud…I am so proud…but I couldn't stand the thought that once you'd finished fledging you'd fly away. You'd leave me, and I'd be alone again. The shadows would come back out of the corners, and you wouldn't be there to chase them off with a smile or a joke.

"I loved Jason, but he wasn't you. I tried to make him you, attempted to buy myself a few more years, but it failed miserably, as I should have known it would. By the time I could see what I was doing, I'd ruined things with both of you. I pushed you away so I wouldn't have to watch you leave on your own, and I alienated Jason by trying to shove him into a mold he never had a chance of fitting. Things got better between he and I once I saw that, but…well, there wasn't much time left for healing. And in a way that made it so much worse; just when things were starting to improve, I lost him. I wanted you so badly after that, so badly, just to have you near and know that you were okay…but by then I was afraid of repeating the cycle. I patched things with Jason, and he was killed, and it was awful; if I tried to fix things with you, I thought – it's so irrational, but I just couldn't help it – I thought the same thing would happen. So I kept ignoring you. I kept you distant because I hoped it might keep you safe.

"And then Clark showed me this," he pulled the photo out of his belt and handed it around to him. "And I realized I'd made a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was holding you away from me to keep you alive, but that distance was what was killing you. I remember what you said Christmas night, about letting yourself fall, and seeing those marks…I know you, Dicky, and you would never do this to yourself unless you were working up to something. You've always been one to train, and practice, and redo, and modify, until you get what you're working on perfect. Until it's ready, you won't show anyone. You wouldn't have been a failed suicide; you'd have gotten it right the first time, because you wouldn't have really tried until you knew you could do it successfully."

"…He must have taken this at breakfast," the younger man murmured. "I thought it was kind of weird that he was staring at his phone like that after he answered his text, but…it was Uncle Clark, so I wrote it off. Bruce-"

"Wait," he stopped him, his eyes falling from the wince-inducing picture to the fresh cuts above the hand holding it. "Come sit down. Let me bandage those."

He gulped. "…Okay." An arm stayed across his shoulders as they covered the few feet back to the table, but he didn't protest. I don't know if I'm ready to completely forgive you yet, he mused, looking up at the billionaire as he dropped back into his seat. Because it still hurts. But…it's so nice to see that worried look on your face, and know that it's for me. "Bathroom's down the hall on the left," he said, realizing that Bruce had never been in the apartment before. "There's stuff in the medicine cabinet."

"I'll be right back." His fingers lingered on his son's shoulder for just a second before he left. When he returned a minute later, he found him playing with the knife, chipping away at the now-dried sheen of blood along the edge of the blade. "…Dick?" he asked cautiously.

"Just cleaning it," he answered the tone in his voice. Setting the weapon down, he offered his lacerated arm. "I owe you an apology, too," he whispered as antiseptic washed over and into the lines he'd drawn.

"…You said some harsh things, but you were responding to my cruelty," Bruce tempered, his eyes not leaving his work. "I'd call it self-defense." A hand closed over his as he reached for a swab, and he looked up.

"I'm still sorry I said them," Dick told him honestly. "Especially if they contributed to how long this has gone on."

"…It's okay, chum. I know you didn't really mean them." He squeezed his hand before pulling away, and would have sworn he saw the vague ghost of a smile. Neither of them spoke again until he'd scrubbed out the fresh slices as well as a few of the older, half-healed ones and covered the entire area under gauze and a securely wrapped bandage. "There."

"…Thanks." An awkward moment passed. "So…now that we're all confessioned out…"

"Not quite," Bruce interjected. "I have something else I'd like to ask you."

"Ask away. I'm not guaranteeing I'll answer, though, depending on the question," he warned.

"Did you even think about how everyone would feel if you killed yourself?"

He laughed, a short, miserable sound that was so unlike his trademark happy cackle that it hurt to hear it. "They'd move on. In two weeks I'd be fading memory."

"That's a lie."

"No. It isn't. Everyone's gone on with their lives, Bruce. I'm the only one still trying to live in the past. You know that ridiculous guy at every high school reunion whose best days were when he was leading the football team, the one who never managed to do anything with his life after graduation? That's me."

"Don't say that." Please, he begged. It's not true.

"It's the truth."

"Okay, then, let's break this down. You'd clearly written off Tim, Jason, myself, and Superman, found ways that you being gone would be better for us."


"What about Wally?"

"…I haven't spoken to Wally in over a month," he relayed sadly. "He's…busy with other things."

"I know he's not too busy for you, Dick. He'll always make time for you."

"He's getting married, Bruce. His fiancee's pregnant. And…" he trailed off.


"Look, he hasn't actually talked to Superman about this yet, or at least he hadn't as of our last conversation, but he's quitting. He's going full civilian."

"…Huh." Bruce sat back in his chair, a little stunned. "…And you don't get that, do you?"

"No. Not in the least. We argued about it. He was really upset that I didn't understand…he said that he shouldn't be surprised, though, considering who raised me. Then he…he hung up on me, Bruce. Wally's never hung up on me. I tried to text him the next day, and he never answered. So…yeah. There's that."

"…Well, what about Barbara? Tim said you two were…not dating, but…I don't know, Dick, what's going on there? She's always been another one you could talk to."

"She was, yeah, until I apparently professed my undying love one too many times." There was a bitter, aching note in the words as he turned his head away. "That happened about a week before the thing with Wally. I was just screwing around, too, teasing her because she never says yes no many how many times I…anyway, she just turned on me, saying maybe she never said yes because she didn't want to be with me and that I really needed to…to get a hobby that didn't involve making sure she never had an evening to herself…" He fell quiet for a minute. "She sent me a message a few days later and said she was sorry for snapping and that she needed some time. I told it was okay, but…we haven't really talked since."

Oh, god, no wonder you felt so alone. "…And you didn't feel like you could talk to anyone else? You had the ears of the entire JLA at your disposal, and you couldn't talk to anyone?"

"Everyone else has either moved on or has enough of their own stuff to deal with," Dick shrugged. "I didn't see the point in dragging people who are happy with where they are back into the past. And half of the JLA would hesitate to even offer advice, you know, because Batman's all tangled up in it and there aren't many who will risk riling the Bat. Civilians…hell, when have I ever had civilian friends? I thought about Leslie, but she would have run to you with anything I said. You know her, her first response to try and fix what's broken, and between her and Alfred they would have strong armed you. Deny it all you want, Bruce, they would have."

"And that would have been a bad thing?" he asked. "I thought you wanted to make up."

"I do. And I did. But if they forced you, it wouldn't have been real. The problems still would have been there, and they would have come back, because if you felt forced you wouldn't have talked about them. You sure as hell wouldn't have unleashed the admissions you did tonight."

He was right, and Bruce knew it. His description of a coerced apology, however, had reminded the billionaire of a trump card he still held. "You want to tell me how you think Alfred would have felt?" he queried slowly. "Because I'm having a difficult time believing that you honestly thought he would be better off with you dead, and it's even harder to imagine you two having a fight like you did with Wally and Barbara."

Dick sighed heavily at that. "…I felt bad about Alfred. Every time I thought about doing it, went through my justifications…I regretted him. He still sends me care packages, every month…Look, it's not like I thought people wouldn't be hurt, Bruce. I just know that once they get over it they'll be better off without me. I don't want to drag anyone down, and I feel like that's all I do these days, is give people extra things to worry or stress about. Even Alfred…I know he worries about me, Bruce, and all he feels able to do is send those packages, because his first loyalty is still and always will be to you. Without some extreme reason, like the one Leslie would have been able to give him if I'd talked to her, told her how I felt and that I wanted out, he'd never go against your wishes. He's never interfered when it came to punishing me, he always left that up to you in the end. That's…that's why he didn't just fix this to begin with, I think. I thought he might step in, given the extreme nature of it all – to be honest, I was kind of relying on him to fix things at first - but…he didn't."

"That doesn't mean he didn't try. He's still trying. I haven't had a perfect steak since you left. It's always just a little bit too over or under done from what I prefer, and I know he knows, because at first I would tell him. Now I just keep my mouth shut and eat it, because I know what he's doing. He's still punishing me for not fixing this, and he'll keep doing it as long as he has to. He stopped actually trying to talk about it, but his displeasure is no secret. And I had no idea he was sending you care packages. I'm not surprised, but he's done that completely under the radar."

The younger man just nodded. "Yeah. I…I felt bad about Alfred, like I said. But what good was it? Even weighing that in, the good that would come from my being gone was still way more than the bad."

"That's wrong," he insisted. "I don't know how to make you see that, but it's wrong." He took a deep breath, steeling himself for what he knew needed to be said. "Even when I was mad, before I realized that I've really been mad at myself and was just throwing it at you – and that's what it was, I get that now – do you have any idea what finding you like that would have done to me? And it would have been me that found you, chum, because that's the kind of twisted luck I have. And that would have killed me. I guarantee it." Reaching over, he levered his chin upwards, forcing their eyes to meet. "You are not a prototype, or an inferior precursor model," he whispered fiercely. "You've got it backwards. You're the original; they're copies of you. An imitation painting can be beautiful and valuable in its own right, of course, and they are, but no imitation can ever replace the true masterwork. I've done many great things in my life, Richard, but you are by far the best."

He didn't have to ask if he meant it; it wasn't the kind of thing Bruce would be able to say if he had even the slightest doubt about its veracity. Tears came as they stared at one another, a million apologies and understandings flying between them without words, their personal language of silence re-establishing itself as if it had never fallen into disuse. Then Bruce was pulling him over and into his arms, and for the first time in several weeks it seemed like there might be something to look forward to in the coming year, after all. If we can get over a three year fight, Dick thought, a glimmer of his old optimism igniting as he rose on his toes to bury his face against the skin above the dark Kevlar, maybe I can manage something with Wally. I could give him a call tomorrow…

They separated slowly, and even then neither one stepped back. Bruce dropped his forehead softly against his son's, a meeting of minds that they indulged in with no one else. "Dick," he said quietly.


"Please don't ever do this again."

"…I'll try, Bruce. I really will."

"Do you…" he swallowed. "Do you feel a little better, at least? Now that-"

"Now that we've made up?" he finished for him. "I…yeah. I do. The other things were contributing factors, don't get me wrong, and I'm still pretty unhappy about them, but…this was always the worst part of it. Always. I only made it this long because the others were holding me up; but I almost feel like even if nothing else got fixed, I could survive just with this."

"It's not just me," he whispered. "Tim's going to be glad to see you. And Alfred…"

"Alfred will appreciate not having to try and ship a pot roast," Dick laughed.

"Clark's worried about you, too." As soon as he said it, he regretted it; hadn't Dick just said he was stressing too many people by still being alive?

He took it in stride though, something having shifted with Bruce's words over the last hour. "…Yeah. I really should send him an email tonight. I guess I would have felt guilty about him, too. Almost as much as about Alfred." He frowned. Uncle Clark was the one who was there for me the most through all of this. But all I thought about was how it would be easier on him to not have to dodge questions about me…

"Hey," Bruce said sharply, seeing the dark turn in his expression. "He'll understand. Trust me, he'll just be glad that you're better."

"...You're right," he nodded. "Sorry, I just-"

"It's okay. Listen…" He hesitated, unsure how Dick would take what he wanted to propose. "Would you be willing to come home for a few days?"

"…I dunno," he answered slowly. I want to, I really do, but I'm afraid it will just start all over again. "What if it just kicks all the old problems back to the surface?"

"It won't," he promised. "Now that we know what the problems were, we can make sure that they don't. I'm afraid to leave you here alone right now, do you understand?"

"Yeah," he sighed. "I do. And I don't really want to be alone for a little while." I've felt alone forever, it seems like. I want to be somewhere I feel wanted. "But I'm still scared it'll all fall apart again, and I can't take that, Bruce. I know I can't take that."

"Knowing that is just all that much more incentive for us-" for me, he didn't add, "-to make sure it doesn't go bad. It won't, Dick. Please, you need to come home. Not necessarily forever, but at least for a little while. You're too thin, and Alfred will fix that. And you're still depressed, no matter how much better you feel right now. You can keep working in Bludhaven, even, just take one of the cars and commute."

You make it sound so good, Bruce. "And I don't work tomorrow," he disclosed. "I, uh…I actually took the next week off. I thought…well, if I was going to do it, I didn't want anyone to get suspicious for a little while. So I used all my vacation time."

You were that close, he warbled to himself, stricken. That close. You'd have gone to Detroit, because you wouldn't leave your team hanging on a dangerous mission, and then you…you were actually going to do it. "Oh, Dicky," he breathed, closing his eyes and pulling him back in. "Oh, god…no, baby, you've got to come home with me. Please. I know I can't force you, but please…"

"Okay," he nodded tearfully. "Okay. I'll come home, at least until I have to go back to work. Is that…is that okay?"

"Of course it is." He squeezed him hard. "Go get changed and pack a bag. I drove here, the car's a few blocks away." No way you're swinging, not until I know that you won't just…let go.

"…Do you want to see the room?" Dick ventured, a tiny glint of hope in his voice. "I mean, it's no Batcave, but…it's kind of cool."

Bruce smiled. "Show me," he answered. Following him towards what looked like a regular wall but no doubt hid a well-executed nest from which to base his evening activities, the billionaire heard a bell toll somewhere outside. In front of him, Dick came to a stop, then laughed amusedly. "…What?" he asked, delighted to hear him sounding somewhat normal but curious as to what he'd found so funny.

"It's midnight. Ironic, huh?" He turned around to face him, crossing his arms and grinning in a way so close to his old smirk that the older man's breath caught. "Happy New Year, Bruce."

"Happy New Year, son," he replied, raising a hand to his cheek and biting his lip when Dick leaned into it slightly. "It will be a good one," he said fiercely. "I promise."

Author's Note: I hope you all enjoyed the flufftastic ending, and the story as a whole. Thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year!