Disclaimer: This fanfiction is based in the era of the Roman Empire to give you all some context. Some practices from this empire may be present in this story. I created a new Empire for this story. The Gotham Empire, totally original right? Wrong! I can't claim DC Universe, or the Known World like many have done before *cough* Alexander the Great *cough* Napoleon *cough* Your face :B
Rated T: Because I said so
The Changing of a Heart
Sorry this took forever to write. This chapter is kind of like a 'calm before the storm' chapter. It will get more intense in more ways than one, I promise. I say this because even as I am writing, my mind is being blown by this story. It has taken a life of it's own and coming up with plots and twists that come out of nowhere, but make this story just that much more awesome.
So without further adieu, on with the show.
Wally trained in the large garden as he ran around the perimeter to see how long he could keep his momentum at the speed he currently held. Meanwhile Bruce stood nearby, wearing a plain white tunic. He was watching and keeping notes of his successes and failures. He added a flip every now and then, while his mind trailed.
It had been a few days since he ended his training and was walking the halls, when he suddenly heard crying. Peeking into Bruce's private thinking room, he noticed the man holding his friend in his arms. Wally smiled brightly when he saw that the boy finally woke up, but he figured the two needed some bonding time. So he continued down the hall with a bounce in his step, he'd see Robin later. Instead, he was going to see if Alfred needed some help in the kitchen, and maybe snatch a few treats.
Suddenly the boy tripped over a rock, he hadn't noticed it until he started to fall. He hit the ground with an "oomf", staying in his awkward position. "Your from was terrible! Do it again!" Bruce instructed stoiclly while watching Wally's prone form.
"Yeah! Yeah! I know...nothing ever satisfies you!" Wally mumbled the last part, before shrinking under the man's glare. 'Sheesh, you're so cold!' He thought while getting to his knees. Just as he looked up, a huge smiled spread across face when he saw Robin standing by the doorway. He hid in the shadows while watching the scene in the garden. Jumping up, Wally ran as fast he could causing a gust of wind to brush against Bruce when he ran past.
"Robin! You're up!" He ignored the squeak he got from the boy as he glomped his friend, gently. Robin stiffened in his hold at first, but then slowly relaxed. He noticed Bruce had an irritated look on his face. "Wally! His wounds aren't completely healed yet!" He said a little harshly, causing Robin to tense a little bit. He felt a little awkward standing here with Wally hugging him and talking so fast he couldn't understand a single word, and the looks he got from the man standing outside. He was glad when an inturruption came in the form of the old man.
"Excuse me Masters Bruce, Wallace, and Robin, but dinner is almost ready. If you would please wash up, and then come to the dining room." Alfred said, motioning towards Bruce and Wally. He then turned and gave a quick smile to Robin before he left without another word. Wally hugged Robin tightly as he dragged the boy towards the dining hall, the boy's feet slid across the marble floor. Entering the room, Robin noticed 3 long bed-type things, with tables in front of each one. They were situated so that they looked like a square horseshoe.*
Wally dragged Robin up to one of the beds and lifted him up before gently setting him down on one. Robin's stomach wound stung, but he hid his grimace from the boy. "You just stay here and I'll be back in a flash!" Wally laughed slightly as he used his uncle's catchphrase. He still missed his uncle greatly, and wanted to know what happened to him. But he could worry about that later. So he ran in the direction of the bathroom or W.C., leaving Robin to sit awkwardly on the furniture. His legs swung slightly as they dangled, while he twiddled his thumbs and looked around the room. It was large, like every room seemed to be in this house. He smelt something amazing coming from the kitchen. Suddenly his stomach growled, causing him to blush. He hadn't eaten anything since he first woke up a week ago. He would gladly accept water, but food didn't seem to appeal to him...at least until now. Maybe. He knew he should try to eat something to show his appreciation, but how did he know that these people wouldn't turn their backs on him after he grew more accustomed to them. Just like Rekoj and Yelrah had done.
Robin was broken from his thoughts when Wally returned in a yellow tunic with a red belt. His hair hung over his eyes slightly, causing him to brush them to the side where they stayed. Robin remained silent as he watched the boy jog up to him and jump on the bed beside him. "Fast huh? It's a gift!" Wally grinned toothily making Robin chuckle softly.
"On the way back, I snuck into the kitchen and...mmmhmmmmm! We're having my favorite tonight!" Wally scrunched his body up in a motion showing his excitement. Robin just looked at him curiously, still not speaking. "You'll find out soon enough!" The red head laughed while repositioning himself on the second bed so he could lay down, while motioning for Robin to do the same. The ebony just looked confused, but tried to lay down like Wally had on the bed he was currently on. He did well until his stomach muscles pulled in his attempt, causing him to release a sharp gasp and squeeze his eyes shut. His body curled into a ball as his hands cupped his stab wound. Wally was at his side in an instant, trying to help the boy relax his uneven breaths.
At that exact moment, Bruce came into the room. He stopped immediately when he heard the boy gasp and saw a flinch. He quickly strode over to Robin and placed his hand on the boy's head, stroking his fingers through ebony locks. The other hand rested on Robin's smaller hands, gently trying to remove them from his stomach. However, Robin didn't want to let them see his wound. He felt exposed and vulnerable with peoples hands all over him, touching his scars.
"I need to look at your wound, to make sure it didn't reopen." Robin looked Bruce in the eyes. He didn't want to trust this man, yet, there was just something about his eyes...was it sincerity? Understanding? Robin wasn't sure what that look meant. He remembered the events of yesterday in the room with the tapestry, how safe he felt in the strong arms.
"Robin!" He felt a firm hand shake his shoulder, snapping him out of his thoughts. He hadn't realized that he lost focus. Looking back up at Bruce, he noticed a worried Wally beside him. "Can I see your wound?" Robin was shocked, this man was asking him? He thought the man would just force his way to the wound. Robin felt the strong hand tighten over his own.
Slowly, Robin relaxed his hands, the strong hand lifted allowing him to remove his hands as he uncurled his body. Suddenly he noticed the old man come into the room, carrying a platter of food. He put it down on one of the tables before joining the others in front of him. Robin felt even more awkward with three pairs of eyes staring at him. Bruce noticed the boy's discomfort, understanding crossing his features.
"Alfred. Wally. Could you finish getting dinner ready, please." Bruce stated while maintaining eye contact with Robin. Alfred nodded before walking behind Bruce and placed his hand on Wally's shoulder. "Come Master Wallace!" Wally looked hurt, but followed the older man's lead. When they were alone, Bruce sat on the edge of the bed beside Robin's legs. "Ready?" He asked Robin, his hands resting on his own lap. Waiting for the boy to be ready. Robin lifted his hands to rest against his face, the backs covering his eyes before slowly nodding. His body stiffened when he felt the pair of hands begin to unbutton the tunic above his belt. The hands continued until they reached the center of his chest. The cool air in the house tickled his exposed skin as the man grabbed the right side of his tunic and pulled it to the side until his wound appeared. Robin squeaked when callosed fingers gently pressed around the stitches.
"How bad does it hurt?" The man asked as he continued to prodd the sensitive skin. "S-Stings" Robin cried, his hands fisted through the pain. "That's good. Your healing well! You might able to get these removed in a few days." Bruce said, touching the horse hair stitching. "Your other wound should be healed by now. May I?" Robin shuddered at his request, but nodded nonetheless. The callosed fingers left the stab wound, they then continued to unbotton the rest of the tunic.
"Does this hurt at all?" Bruce asked as he gently pushed his fingers against the cut across his chest. Robin shook his head, feeling awkward. "Not much!"
"Good! Then we can take the stitches out later!" Bruce said while bringing the fabric back together before buttoning it back up. When he finished, he placed his hand on Robin's shoulder. Said boy lifted his hands from his eyes and looked at the man curiously. The sudden rumble of his stomach caused him to blush.
"It's a good thing it's time for dinner!" Bruce laughed as he ruffled Robin's hair, ignoring the slight flinch before getting up. Just then, Wally and Alfred walked into the room carrying plates and bowls of delicious smelling food. After placing his cargo down on one of the tables, Wally ran over to Robin, placing his hands the boy's shoulders. "Are you alright?" He asked, looking into Robin's blue eyes. Robin nodded his head. "Yes" he said quietly before carefully lifting himself with his elbows and looked at all the food laid about the table, a few feet away closest to the kitchen, in wooden and clay bowls and plates as well as platters. His stopped on a strange sight. A small plate held little mice dipped in something and then rolled in some sort of seed. Robin almost gagged, instead he turned his attention to the rest of the food. A large platter held large slices of fish, bread, green and black olives. Multiple smells wafted up his nose, but the most noticeable were ginger, cinnamon, cardomom, and black pepper.**
Robin didn't realize his eyes were popping out of his head until Wally shook his shoulder. "Hey, what's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost." "It's just a lot of food" Robin mumbled. Bruce sat on the edge of the bed closest to the kitchen, watching the two boys talk. "Perhaps the young master needs some assistance to switch beds, Master Bruce." Alfred spoke quietly beside the man as Wally tried to help Robin off the bed. Understanding the older man's gentle command, Bruce stood up and walked over to the boy's. Robin froze when large arms circled around his waist and hooked beneath his knees, he found himself being pulled into a large chest. When his shock wore off, he pouted as he tried to cross his arms. "I don't need your help!" Wally laughed at his friend's pout. "You would have caused yourself more pain." Bruce said calmly as he set Robin down on the bed beside Alfred.
As they ate their dinner as Bruce, Alfred, and Wally shared stories while Robin listened. He wanted to throw up when Wally, Bruce, and Alfred all ate the mice that Alfred had expained as force-fed door mice, a Roman delicacy. At the end of the meal, Bruce released a belch that made Robin's eyes pop. Wally's belch soon followed, then Alfred's small yet polite one.
"You see Robin, here in Gotham, if you enjoyed your meal and wanted to compliment the cook then you burp to show your appreciaiton." Bruce said, reaching for his cup of wine. Robin nodded in understanding before a concentrated look covered his features. He released a tiny burp that made Wally roll off the bed laughing while clutching his stomach. "You'll get the hang of it!" Bruce said with a smile, before getting up and helping Alfred clear the table. He stepped over the still giggling Wally on the floor. Roibn just sat on the bed, a small smirk on his face, this had been a good evening.
A few days later, It was just Alfred, Bruce, and Robin in the house. Wally wanted to spend the day shopping, eating, and looking for his uncle all over Gotham. Meanwhile in the house, Robin laid on his bed, his shoulders rested on Bruce's lap as the man sat behind him. His tunic was opened just enough to see the length of the cut across his chest. His body tensed as soon as he saw what Alfred was holding as he sat on the bed beside the boy. A pair of sheers that were heated over flame to sterilize them. Said man noticed the fearful look on the boy's face. "I heated them to prevent infection. It would be most disatrous if you were to get an infection just above your heart." Robin nodded, but still couldn't shake the fear that he might get stabbed.
"Robin, Calm, easy breaths." Bruce instructed as he brushed his fingers through ebony hair. The boy hadn't realized he was on the verge of hyperventalating, his eyes remaining on the sheers. His body didn't seem to listen though, because his breathing became more labored the closer Alfred leaned in. Suddenly Bruce held his hand up to stop the older man, then leaning down he slid his hands beneath Robin's armpits and gently pulled him up and onto his lap. Robin, though, looked up at Bruce with a confused look, his body visibly shaking with each breath. Bruce just pulled him into his body until Robin's back was firmly pressed against the man's chest. Then Bruce laced left arm around Robin's shoulders while his other hand was pressed against the boy's left breast, keeping track of the little heartbeat.
"Follow my movements. Breathe in. Now out. In. Out. In again. And out. Good." Bruce instructed softly, purposely breathing deep each time while getting Robin to do the same. The little heartbeat soon went from beating rapidly to the normal steady beat that it should have been all along. Bruce silently cursed the men who did this the to child. If they ever came near this boy again, he honestly didn't know what he might do. As soon as Robin's breathing was undercontrol again, Bruce continued to hold the boy, but removed his hand from his chest. He nodded for Alfred to continue, before placing his hand under the boy's chin and tilted his head up until it rested against the man's shoulder. Bright blue eyes looked into brown ones.
"It might be better if you look away. I'll make sure nothing bad happens." Bruce said while watching the sheers come within several inches of the stiches. He knew nothing bad was going to happen, but said it anyway to calm the boy. He felt the little body tense again when the sheers lightly touched the pale skin, sliding beneath the horse hair. Robin squeezed his eyes shut and gripped the silk sheet as the stitches were cut. Before he knew it, all the stitches were sliced open followed by the strange feeling the horse hair made when it was pulled from his skin.
"All done Master Robin!" Alfred stated with a smile, placing the sheers and horse hair in a small dish beside him. Robin forced his head down and looked at Alfred with big eyes, blinking several times. "That's it?" He asked innocently, making Alfred and Bruce chuckle. "Yes! That is it. Do you wish me to remove the other stitches now as they are also ready?" Alfred watched the boy's expression go from distrust to a small smile. The boy before unbuttoning the rest of the tunic. He wanted to be independent and do it himself instead of everyone else always doing it. The procedure was quick and Robin felt good to have the stitches gone.
"Looks like you'll be graduating to a new tunic. Alfred?" Bruce instructed the older man as he helped the boy off his lap to sit on the bed beside him. Alfred came back with another red tunic. He laid it on the bed before both he and Bruce left the room to allow the boy his privacy. Robin was happy to slip out of the already unbottoned tunic, he felt so exposed with it constantly being opened up. When the new tunic took it's place, he felt so much more comfortable. More covered.
Walking down the hall he ran into Bruce in the dining area, the man was headed towards the garden. "Now Robin, even though your stitches are removed, I want you to continue resting. No crazy stunts until you don't feel anymore pain. Got it?" The man ordered as they reached the doorway to the enormous garden. Robin smiled sheepishly, but stopped when Bruce held out his arm, allowing the boy to enter the garden first. Robin felt nervous. He had always been hurt in the garden of the different homes he was previously in, whose to say it won't happen again. The boy thought as he backed up into the house, shaking his head.
"Robin, did something happen to you in a garden?" Bruce asked, suspicious of the boy's behaviour. He frowned when Robin slowly nodded his head, looking at the floor. He jumped when a firm hand landed on his shoulder, looking up saw Bruce kneeling before him. "It's alright. I won't force you! Don't come out until you feel ready." Bruce stood up, ruffled the boy's hair and then made his way into the garden. Robin slowly walked to the edge of the doorway, peeking around the corner. His jaw dropped at the expanse of the place. It was huge! A large fountain stood in the middle of what looked like a massive courtyard. Fruit trees littered the place. A large stone wall marked the boundary as it surrounded the house. A large flower garden sat off to the left. Something in there caught his eye, causing his breath to leave him.
Slowly walking towards the flowers, he fear seemed to leave him as he only focused on the item before him. Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes when he stood infront of a large, beautiful blue rose. In the middle of it buzzed a fluffy bee collecting the pollen. The memory of when he was eight, playing the garden and seeing the bee played in his mind as a single tear rolled down his cheek. He gently brushed a petal to make sure he wasn't dreaming.
"That flower was a gift from many years ago." Bruce's voice said behind Robin, causing the boy to spin around and look at the man with curious eyes. "I bought a woven rug from a woman in Ainamor during my travels throughout the empire. She gave me a seed as a side gift, saying it was her flower and she wanted it to spread throughout the empire. I planted it here and it's come back ever since. Each year it seems more beautiful. Just like her." Bruce said in a dream like state, remembering her lovely smile. He stopped though when he noticed Robin's face. A large smile spread as more tears fell.
"Sh-She was my...my m-mother! I-It's her f-favorite flower." Bruce seemed stunned to hear the news. "Wow. It must have been about 14 years since I saw her. She certainly wasn't married when I met her. How old are you Robin?"
"13. C-can I see the rug?" Robin asked, looking into the man's mind-blown eyes. Bruce hadn't realized how much time had passed by already. "Y-Yes! This way." Bruce instructed as he walked back to the house, Robin followed close behind turning back to look at the rose quickly before entering the house. He followed the man to a room he had never seen before. It was spacious with tall marble walls. A large bed in the corner, with a nightstand. A large candlestick on the stand. At the foot of the bed, on the floor lay a colorful hand woven rug.
Just one glance at it and Robin knew it was his mothers. She had a certain style when weaving, her own little twist. Robin knelt down beside it and ran his fingers along the material, remembering when he would help her to weave. More tears came to his eyes as he gently grabbed the rug and hugged it to his chest. He missed his mom and dad so much as he sobbed into the rug. Bruce wanted to put his hand on the boy's shaking shoulder, do something to comfort him. He quietly knelt down beside Robin, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Would you like to keep it in your room?" He asked softly, smiling slightly when the boy's head nodded, the small face was buried in the material.
That night, Robin slept peacefully. Dreaming of his parents, weaving, dancing, all that jazz as he slept beside his mother's rug.
Y'all like it?
* I found a picture on Google showing Romans eat. There were three tables with three beds beside each table. Roman really did lay down as they ate. I'm not sure why, but that's just what they did. Not to mention the belching to show appreciation for the meal and the cook, though that is a custom in many cultures, not just Romans.
Historical nerdy fact: Force-fed door mouse really was a Roman delicacy, along with other things that normal people wouldn't eat, like fish guts, and what not. In fact, if you want to know more about what they ate...Google it! Hahaha! I love Google. It takes me places I could only dream of XD
Does Wally finally find his uncle Barry?
What? Robin meets the non-existent Justice League? How will they be portrayed in an ancient Roman context? I can't wait to find out, though reviews are helpful too! YAYZ!