So, I don't wish to alarm anyone but I think this is the last chapter. I'm happy (and sad 'cause I really enjoyed writing it) with it as it is now. Of course, I thought it was over after the first chapter, so I guess there's some wiggle from if anyone has any genius ideas where to take it next. If not... thank you everyone because you have all been way greater than this story deserves.
Whatever Alfred put in that IV drip, it was more than just fluids because Dick spent the next unmeasurable amount of time staring up at the ceiling and wondering which colour it actually was. Alfred stayed with him the whole time.
He really wanted to ask Alfred what was going on, he really wanted to ask if Tim and Damian were okay, he really wanted to ask what had brought Bruce home but the words were as difficult to nail down as the colour of the ceiling. A few times he got close to phrasing a question but Alfred kept putting a hand on his shoulder. "Hush Master Richard," he repeated. "They'll be back shortly."
After his fifth attempt, Alfred said firmly, "Master Richard, if you don't stop, I will give you a stronger dose." He grunted and flopped his face into his pillow has hard as he could. "Just rest Dick," Alfred repeated quietly.
Dick might have dozed off, because the next thing he was aware of was Bruce's voice.
"Yes Master Bruce he's fine," Alfred said softly.
"He didn't look fine Alfred," Bruce said breathlessly. "He didn't."
"I know," Alfred said very patiently. "But it looked much worse than it was. The blood in his hair was from a few stitches that came out which was going to happen in the next few days regardless. He was sick either from pain or dizziness, both common and completely expected side effects of brain surgery. He may not seem that way right now, but he is in better shape now than when he left. Most of what's wrong with him now is exhaustion."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely," Alfred said. "How are the others?"
"All right," Bruce said. "Pretty beaten up though. Would you mind checking on them?"
"Of course not," Alfred answered. "If you will stay with him. He's been very restless. I believe he's still very worried for Masters Timothy and Damian."
"Yeah, yeah of course," Bruce agreed.
They moved, Dick couldn't quite see them, but he could hear them shuffling around. "Is there anything I should do?" Bruce asked. He was very close to Dick, Dick could feel the heat from his body and instinctively tried to shift himself towards it.
"Well if you can keep him calm that certainly would help," Alfred said. "And convincing him to sleep would be a ideal, but I suspect that's unrealistic."
"Should we give him more meds?"
"I'd rather not," Alfred answered. "He's at the point where we should be starting to shift him to weaker painkillers. Of course, if he becomes completely unmanageable I will reconsider that. Is that everything?"
Bruce didn't answer but Dick heard Alfred leave. They were all right, just a little banged up, But Bruce's idea of pretty banged up was only a few inches away from a coma and he wanted they both to be okay so badly it made his chest hurt. Damian had hit that roof top really hard. There was no way he didn't have something fractured. Alfred could bandaged him up but Damian needed him.
"Dick," Bruce said. His voice was shaky, which was weird. "Settled down son. You're going to make it worse." It wasn't the words that stopped Dick from thrashing around in frusteration. It was that quiver in Bruce's voice.
Bruce was brushing the hair out of his eyes. He was probably going to gripe about how much Dick needed a hair cut and ask him where he'd been keeping it all in the cowl. Dick wasn't going to mind though, he decided, sleepily, through the weird twisting thoughts in his brain. He was just going to be happy to have Bruce back.
"Dick?" he asked very quietly into the dark. Dick tried to move his face towards Bruce, only to find that it was pressed against something, a pillow or possibly Bruce's leg. Answering with his voice was just way too much effort so he didn't respond at all. "I forgot what I came back for, Dick," he said softly. "I fought so hard to get back, I forgot that I was trying to get back to you. And Tim and Alfred and all the others. I'm sorry."
Even if he'd been able to get his tongue to work, there really wasn't anything to say.
Time wasn't passing right for Dick, he didn't know how much had passed, he couldn't have even guessed. His heart was still pounding much too hard and every sound made him jump a little but Bruce was sitting next to him. Nothing bad could happen to him, not if Bruce was there with him. It became a chant in the back of his head. Nothing bad could happen if Bruce was there. Nothing bad could happen.
The light from the hall felt too bright. It hurt his eyes, he tried to shove his face into whatever it was that his head was leaning against. Darkness was safer, gentler.
"Grayson!" Damian demanded hoarsely from the light.
"Hey Damian," Dick answered. Or tried to, but it mostly came out as a shapeless mumble. He wasn't too worried about because, with the the possible exception of Alfred, Damian was the most qualified Dick-Grayson-barely-conscious interpreter alive.
"Are you all right?" Damian asked. Dick mumbled his answer. "You don't look good." Mumble. "Well, you insist on doing everything the hardest way possible." Mutter. "Drake is also fine."
"Dick," Tim said from somewhere above him. "I'm all right too. Thanks to you." Mutter.
"Now that everyone has been reassured of everyone else's continued life and relative health I suggest that everyone get some rest," Alfred said gently.
Dick mumbled something very quietly. Without saying anything, Damian glared around the room slowly, making sure everyone met his eye and daring them to say something about it and climbed onto the bed next to Dick. He curled up with his head on the pillow beside Dick;s so his back was up against Dick's side. No one was foolish enough to even acknowledge what Damian had done, other than Dick, who managed a tired smile.
Brice didn't move from the well worn and very comfortable chair he was sitting in and Tim took a few steps into the bedroom.
"I don't know," Tim said quietly. "I think we're all okay in here tonight Alfred."
"Very well," he agreed. "I think we can find a few more arm chairs."