I don't own Young Justice.
It takes a while before Dick can see his Uncle Rick again. Legal issues regarding guardianship have to be sorted out, and for a few weeks, the doctors aren't even sure if there's a chance that Uncle Rick will survive. They place the man in a medical coma at first to make sure no life-threatening brain damage has occurred, but it soon becomes clear that he won't be waking up on his own for a long time (if ever).
About a month into his stay with Bruce, Dick gets a phone call from his uncle's doctors informing him that he can now visit Uncle Rick freely. He wants to go, but he doesn't want to be a burden on Bruce, who has already given him so much. It's useless trying to hide anything from the man, though, because when Bruce (surprisingly) joins Dick at the dinner table that evening, he asks him right away what's wrong.
"Is there something going on that I should be aware of?" the man asks as he cuts into his steak. "You're being awfully quiet." Dick looks down, idly smushing his mashed potatoes around with a fork as he tries to phrase his answer.
"I got a phone call today," he says eventually, avoiding Bruce's eyes. "It was my uncle's doctors." He can hear the slight, yet sharp intake of breath coming from Bruce. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Dick wonders if Bruce forgot about Uncle Rick still being alive.
"And what did they say?" There's a note of apprehension in his voice, though Dick isn't sure why. It's not his last living relative's life on the line.
"I can visit him in the hospital now," Dick responds, "but he's still in a coma. They told me he might not ever wake up." For a brief second, something dark passes over Bruce's face, so fast Dick almost misses it. For a man who the media portrays as a brainless and drunk oaf, Bruce Wayne is far from cheery. This isn't the first time Dick's caught the man with strange, depressed looks on his face, and he ponders the supposed need for duplicity. From what he understands, Bruce's parents were killed when he was very young too, and it doesn't seem like he's gotten over it. Dick hopes that he won't end up that way when he's grown up.
"That's good to hear," Bruce says, then pauses, makes a face as he realizes how that sounds, and rushes, "that you can visit him, I mean. Not the part about the coma." Dick almost laughs because as suave and smooth as Bruce appears on television and in magazines, he's painfully awkward in real life, especially when it comes to thinks like feelings and family. He hums in agreement as he finally takes a bite of his potatoes (delicious as always). "Would you…would you like to visit him? Tomorrow? I can take a day off and bring you to the hospital if you want…" Bruce trails off, and the uncertainty in his voice makes it clear that he doesn't know if his suggestion is an appropriate response.
"Oh, no, you don't have to take off work for me; I don't want to be a burden –" Dick protests, because Bruce is a CEO and for him to take a day off work so Dick can visit his uncle seems preposterous and unnecessary.
"No, don't worry, it won't be a problem – I don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow, so you're not being a burden. I promise." Dick is shocked, but doesn't want to argue. Wordlessly, he nods in agreement, and goes back to eating.
Dinner is mostly silent after that, and once he's done eating he retreats to the room he's using (a month of living in the manor and he still can't come to call it "his" room). He knows Bruce won't come to talk to him because the man is always mysteriously gone by the time the sun sets. Taking advantage of the solitude, Dick curls up in a tight ball under the blankets, head buried under his pillow, and tries to prepare himself for tomorrow.
He hasn't seen his Uncle Rick since the man was rushed away in an ambulance. At the time, Dick had been more concerned with the fact that his parents were sprawled out on the ground before him, eyes wide and unseeing as a warm pool of sticky red blood slowly spread out from under their bodies and sank into the dusty ground. His body shakes with tears of remembrance as memories overtake him. Tomorrow is going to be taxing and he's not sure he'll be able to handle it.
Dick cries himself to a deep and viscous sleep. The next thing he's aware of is the kind butler, Alfred, opening the curtains to his room and gently rousing him from unconsciousness. His body feels sticky and hot, and there's a lingering sense of terror that, combined with the wetness on his pillow and cheeks, indicates he had a nightmare while sleeping. Nothing new, then. Alfred smiles at him, helping him out of the enormous bed and placing a plush robe around his shoulders. The elderly man kneels down so he can tie the sash around Dick's waist, then looks into the boy's watery blue eyes and pulls him into a tight hug.
Dick is startled for moment, but grabs onto the physical comfort like it's a lifeline. Squeezing Alfred tightly, he beings sobbing into the man's shoulder. He feels horrible getting his tears and snot all over the butler's impeccable suit so early in the morning, but he can't help it. Alfred doesn't say a word, but rubs the child's back soothingly and holds him close. The sobs die away quickly enough (evidently, the young master had already cried himself out in his sleep if the wet pillow and tearstains on his cheeks are anything to go by), but the butler doesn't pull away until Dick does.
"Let's clean you up, Master Dick, then head downstairs for breakfast. How does that sound?" Dick sniffles, rubbing at his eyes, then clears his throat and tries to pretend like he hadn't just been crying moments earlier.
"Is there sausage?" Alfred smiles as he gently wipes the tears off Dick's face.
"Of course, sir. I would not send you off on a day such as this without your favorites." Dick grins bashfully, then takes Alfred's hand in his own and accompanies the elderly gentleman down to the kitchen where Bruce, more asleep than awake, is waiting for his coffee to finish brewing.
"Morning, Bruce!" Dick says cheerfully, though he receives a moan/grumble worthy of a zombie in response. Giggling, he sits down at his place (breakfast already laid out on the table), and eagerly digs in. The food is a welcome distraction from his thoughts, and he digs into it with vigor. Bruce joins him at the table a few minutes later looking remarkably more awake with coffee in his system. He reads over the business section of the paper while Dick reads the comics.
Normally, Alfred would scold both of them for reading while eating, but today will be trying enough as it is and he doesn't want to aggravate the situation. Once he's eaten his breakfast, Dick runs upstairs to where Alfred has laid out an outfit for him to wear today. It's nothing fancy, just a simple pair of jeans and a clean white sweater. Dick appreciates this; it would feel so wrong for him to visit his uncle in clothes that cost more than their car in the circus train had.
All that's left to do now is wait for Bruce. Sighing, Dick begins to doodle on a spare sheet of paper. Before he knows it, he's become fully engrossed in the details of an elephant's trunk, focusing on its joyful curve at it squirts water into the imagined air. A knock on his bedroom door jerks him back to reality and he finds a hesitant-looking Bruce standing at his door. The man sticks his hands in the pockets of his pants (khakis, Dick notices; not exactly casual but much better than the extravagant suits Bruce normally wears), then walks over to stand behind Dick. He peers at the drawing for an awkward moment while Dick waits for him to say something.
"This is very good," Bruce says, sounding surprised. "Is this the elephant from your circus? Ah, Ziva?" Dick's lips twitch at Bruce's guess.
"It wasn't supposed to be any particular elephant," he explains, "But she does kinda look like Zitka with that hat…" If Bruce is embarrassed about messing up Zitka's name, he doesn't show it, instead staring for a moment longer at the drawing.
"Why don't you bring it with you, chum?" Bruce asks, using the weird nickname he has for the boy. Dick isn't sure where he got 'chum,' but he's not about to complain and make Bruce think he's ungrateful. "I'm sure the doctors will let you hang it up in your uncle's room." Dick's face brightens at that thought.
Bruce nods. "Really. If they don't, then, well…they'll just have to make an exception." Because really, starving puppies aren't nearly as effective at begging as Dick is, and Bruce has no doubts that the doctors will cave to his ward's wishes.
"Come on," he says, placing an arm around Dick's slim shoulders and leading him out to the hall. Mentally, he makes a note to make sure Dick is eating enough.
Alfred is already waiting in the car. Bruce opts to slide in the back seat with Dick, who suddenly looks like he's regretting eating breakfast. "Everything okay?" Bruce asks when Dick places an arm around his stomach.
"Just nervous," Dick says in a small voice.
"Close your eyes," Bruce advises, "staring out the window will only make you sicker." The young acrobat squeezes his eyes shut, trying to sit back and relax his nerves. Bruce tentatively places his hand on the boy's shoulder and is surprised when his young ward leans into the touch. He can slowly feel the tension draining out of the child's shoulders as they drive, and eventually Dick's stomach has calmed enough that he can open his eyes again. By that time they're not far from the hospital.
Bruce kneels before Dick outside Richard Grayson Sr.'s room in the coma ward with a hand on the young boy's shoulder. "I'm going to wait out here, okay?" he says, trying to be gentle. "Come and get me when you're ready to leave, or I'll come and get you in…" he checks his watch, "about an hour and a half. Does that sound okay?" Dick nods solemnly, then steps out from under Bruce's grasp and into the room. The door shuts almost soundlessly behind him, and Bruce finds himself standing alone in an empty white hallway.
Sighing, he takes a seat in one of the uncomfortable chairs lining the walls and pulls out his phone. It's connected to the Batcave, so he gets to work on trying to find more leads on the location of Tony Zucco. He owes that much to Dick, at least.
Inside the hospital room is just as quiet as the hallway is, save for the steady quiet beeping of machinery. Dick stands just inside the door for a long moment, not breathing as he stares at his uncle's prone form. If he ignores the wires, Uncle Rick could easily just be asleep. He steps forward cautiously, hyper-aware of the way his new sneakers squeak against the linoleum floor. He stands next to his uncle's bedside, silent, before resting his drawing of the elephant on the bedside table and unrepentantly kicking of his shoes and climbing into the hospital bed with him, careful not to disturb the wires.
He nuzzles his face into the cheap material of Uncle Rick's hospital gown, listening close and feeling the steady rise and fall of the man's chest as he breathes. It's soothing in a way Dick never imagined to hear the breathing of his last living relative. Closing his eyes tightly, he carefully ignores the beeping of the heart monitor and the scratchy feel of the hospital gown. Without these stimuli, Uncle Rick is simply asleep. Dick's not sure how long he lays there like that, but the next thing he knows he's waking up to a large, warm hand resting exceedingly gently on shoulder.
His blue eyes blink open, and all he sees is the sleep-blurred face of his uncle. Still dazed and mostly asleep, Dick reaches up towards the hand on his shoulder, thinking it's his father. He hears a sharp inhale of breath – that's odd, he notes distantly – but as his eyes drift shut again he feels large, strong arms carefully lift him up and draw him close. Sighing, Dick turns his head into his father's broad chest, breathing in the vaguely different but still familiar smell of hard work and sweat and sliding back to unconsciousness.
Bruce looks down at his sleeping ward in his arms. For a man of his stature and strength, holding the small child is a piece of cake. What the billionaire is really struggling with is the sudden familiarity that Dick just expressed with him. For the entire month or so that Dick has lived in his manor, the young acrobat has been guarded and shy around Bruce, not yet fully adjusted to the sudden one-eighty in environment. The only other times Dick has been so trusting so far were the nights that Bruce had comforted the sobbing child after nightmares.
There's a pang in his chest as Bruce realizes that Dick must've mistaken him for his father. Gently readjusting his arms so Dick can rest more comfortably, Bruce gathers up Dick's sneakers and exits the room, sparing one last glance at his ward's last living family member. Pushing aside dark thoughts, he shuts the door behind him and walks down the hallway.
Alfred is waiting patiently in the car, and when he sees that Bruce has his hands full, he opens the door for him and allows Bruce to slide in somewhat gracefully. Once inside the car Bruce gently lays Dick's form out on the seat beside him, allowing his lap to pillow the slumbering child's head. As Alfred starts the car and begins driving, he glances in the rearview mirror where he sees Bruce absentmindedly carding a hand through Dick's hair.
A small smile spreads discretely across Alfred's face.
A/N: OOPS I FORGOT TO REMOVE MY NOTES I'M SORRY