The Batman Who Cuddles

It was a fairly normal night for Gordon. Batman and Robin take down drug dealer. Batman and Robin come over to the GCPD to discuss the case. Batman and Robin argue extensively in another language…

The old Bat would never have done that. How the new one thought no-one would realise there was a change in power was a mystery. How all Gotham hadn't realised yet was an even bigger mystery.

What wasn't a mystery was what the Dynamic Duo were arguing over. Robin had, once again, taken things a little too far. The guy would probably recover completely, but the paperwork for the hospital admission to repair his intestinal tract would be nightmare.

"Oh, please. Those guys never learn." The new voice cut across the arguing, and Gordon turned to see a red and black figure on the edge of the roof, arms folded. "Seriously, I must have taken on that gang at least three times; they just never get the message. Might have sunk in this time."

"That's not the point- Wait, when did you get here?" Batman said, spinning round to see the new arrival.

"Here as in the roof; here as in Gotham; or here as in existence?" the boy replied quizzically.

"You know what I mean, Red Robin," Batman answered, lunging. Red Robin side-stepped; Batman span on the ball of his foot to keep facing him. "Moving's not fair," he griped, smiling nonetheless.

"My ribs are bruised quite enough already, thank you very much," Red retorted. Batman moved again, and the younger failed to dodge in time, getting swept into Batman's embrace.

"You've been gone for a month. Stay put so I can hug you," Batman ordered. Robin had an expression half bemused, half disgusted. Red Robin just looked irritated.

"Leggo. Can't breathe," he gasped. "And you're ignoring Robin."

"Think I can solve that," Batman smirked, releasing Red just enough to pull him over to the somewhat skittish-looking Robin. Before the child could pull away, Batman pulled him into the hug, seemingly not noticing how irritated they both were. "You two don't let me do this enough, babybirds," he griped.

"I'm thirteen, not three," Red Robin moaned. "Would you stop with the whole 'babybird' thing?"

"You were such a cute three-year-old, though," Batman answered mischievously. "But I suppose we do have a new babybird, don't we, little bird?"

Robin now gave Red a distinctly grumpy look, and Red responded by mouthing something. The two boys twisted, flipped Batman and slid out of his grasp.

"Has anyone ever told you just how much you resemble an affection starved octopus?" Red asked Batman. "I only dropped by to see what you're up to. Now, if you don't mind, I have an appointment with a roll of bandages and a bottle of painkillers. Robin, I'm borrowing the Batmobile, so if you want a ride…"

"I can start on the report," Robin grunted. "Very well."

"Hey, what about me?" Batman said, pouting.

"You can explain to Gordon the exact reason for your sudden loss of decorum while still in the cowl," Red smirked, before jumping off the roof, swiftly followed by Robin.

Batman looked back over to Gordon, realising he'd seen the whole thing. "Uh, Commissioner…"

"Drop it, Nightwing," Gordon said gruffly. Batman twitched. "You're not covering it up that well. I've heard you talking about your little brother before."

Batman smiled sheepishly. "He's really not happy right now, is he?"

"I don't think so, no," Gordon replied, feeling more comfortable addressing the young man before him as Nightwing, rather than Batman, regardless of the pointy ears. "Why isn't he still Robin?"

Batman – Nightwing - shrugged. "He doesn't need it as much. Time for him to spread his wings."

"Then don't pull him back," Gordon suggested. "I remember when you first appeared, little kid in the shadow of the big, bad Bat. Always leaping before looking, as I recall; you got told off numerous times for that. But you had space to breathe, didn't you?"

"Well, yeah, but I never took off for a month."

"That boy - Red Robin, was it?" Batman nodded, and Gordon continued. "He's not going to want to get too close to you unless you start acting the part. Batman doesn't cuddle. Save it for when you get home."

"Yeah, alright. Thanks."

"Don't mention it. This new system just takes some getting used to."

He chuckled wryly. "Tell me about it." There was no humour in his voice or face, which would be normal for the Bat, but not for Nightwing.

Gordon reached out, and rested a hand on his shoulder. "I miss him, too, son," he said softly, speaking not to the fearsome vigilante, or the happy-go-lucky crime fighter he had so recently been, but the playful sidekick he once was.

He smiled, a thin, painful ghost of a smile. "We all do," he whispered.

"I used to worry about who got the Bat through the dark nights when it all went wrong," Gordon told him. "I stopped when you came along. It was clear, when he let his guard down just a fraction, that you were everything to him. And then your successor. And his. And the Batgirls. You hid it from the world, but relaxed just enough around me to show it. You're family. Now, I believe you have two brothers to go and apologise to for embarrassing them."

Batman grinned, and there was Nightwing, the first Robin, plain as daylight. "Sure, boss," he said, flipping backwards off the roof and into the night.

AN: Originally, this was going to end after the boys take off, but then the end just wrote itself. It's set in my Wayne's Boys-verse, not that it really matters, but that's why the costumes and ages may seem a little off. This was inspired by numerous mentions of Dick being somewhat overly-affectionate, and the realisation that he must have had difficulty adapting to the stern, cold facade of the Bat.

Thanks for reading.