Click here to return to "Nigthwing Fanfiction Index"
Disclaimer: Sadly, Dick Grayson isn't owned by me. DC has that privilege. DC owns most of the characters in this story. All I own is the distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations. (g) No money is being made from this. Please don't sue. It wouldn't be worth your while.
WARNING: There are a number of spelling, grammar and punctuation differences between Australia and the USA... please forgive me for writing with an accent. (g)
A Father’s Day to Remember
Sequel to "Lake of Lost Souls"
Father’s Day was not an occasion Bruce could recall with any fondness. He knew that for the first twelve years of his life it had been a happy time, but too many years had washed away those memories. Too many years spent visiting a monolith of rock standing over a grave inscribed with the words ’Thomas Wayne - Loving father - Now in the arms of God.‘ Since the tender age of twelve, Father’s Day had been one for grieving and for reflecting on what might have been. That had not changed for Bruce when he had taken in eight year old orphan, Dick Grayson. Rather, Father’s Day had become a day divided between two graves.
Bruce peered out the window at the white world of mystery and wonder beyond. On the tiny island of Havico, there was a solitary beauty and a strange calmness that Bruce felt could be shattered at any moment. He felt a long way from anywhere... a long way from anything familiar or comfortable and yet, despite some underlying anxiety, he was happier than he had been for a long time. For the first time in years, Bruce would not be spending Father’s Day mourning his dad. Rather, he was going to spend the weekend away skiing with his son.
A smile of pride spread across Wayne’s face… his son. He glanced over his shoulder at the young man sitting in front of the fire finishing his breakfast. One week earlier, Bruce had adopted the twenty-two year old who was, and always would be, not only Batman’s partner, but Bruce’s best friend. Almost losing Dick had prompted Bruce to examine his life. It had only been three months since Dick had been on life support after using his own body to shield his former guardian from a hail of bullets. Grayson had actually died in hospital, but by some miracle, he and Bruce had been given a second chance. Dick had come back from the brink and in that instant…that moment when his heart had started beating again, Bruce Wayne’s outlook on life had changed completely.
Grayson flicked his eyes over to the older man, sensing he was the object of inspection. In the blue orbs looking at him so intently he saw something he had seen a lot of when he was young. It was something he had seen disappear in his teenage years, but it was back and Dick kept pinching himself to confirm it wasn’t his imagination. “What time do you have to go?”
Bruce glanced at his watch. “About now. What are your plans for the morning?”
Dick smiled, picked up his cup of coffee and toasted Bruce. “I’m going to sit right here in front of the fire where it‘s warm. Do we have the entire place to ourselves?”
“Apart from the cook and maid. This place belonged to the previous owner of the island. Not sure I like his taste,” Bruce commented, indicating the Boar’s head mounted over the mantle. “Alfred‘ll have a fit when he sees it.”
“It’ll be the first thing to go,“ Dick agreed. “The maid said there’s bad weather moving in. Apparently, we’re about to be cut off from the outside world.”
“Could be cut off for up to two weeks. They‘ll close the roads and airport.”
“You okay with that?” Dick asked curiously, sweeping his hair off his forehead. Batman rarely took extended holidays.
“Nothing I can do about the weather. Besides, as you keep telling me, Tim and Cassie are more than capable and if they aren‘t, Barbara will know how to handle whatever comes up.“
Dick nodded, reflecting on the fact that he’d never seen Bruce so laid-back. The big black bat’s faith in Robin, Batgirl and Oracle was at an all time high and his resolve to obtain balance in his life was succeeding for the first time.
Wayne checked his watch, again. “I better get going. I don’t want to be late. Why don’t you come too? It’ll save time. I won’t be long. Just have to sign on the dotted line. All of the documents have been prepared by both sets of lawyers. As soon as I‘m done, we‘ll grab some skis.”
“Okay. You never did tell me why Wayne Enterprises is buying this ice cube,” Dick inquired, draining his coffee. The ‘ice cube’ Dick was referring to was a small island off the coast of Alaska. The island had been privately owned for over six hundred years and thus was technically a country in its own right. It had been auctioned following the death of the previous owner.
“Wayne Enterprises didn’t buy it. I did. An island without political jurisdiction has major possibilities,” Bruce pointed out, pulling his coat on.
“In other words, you’re stopping it falling into the hands of anyone wanting to abuse that quirk.”
“Let’s just say I don’t like the idea of just anyone gaining ownership of land so close to our borders. A missile base on our doorstep, for example. Besides, it‘s got something. So… I don‘t know. The weather makes it so isolated. So far from anywhere.”
Dick’s brow furrowed as he rose to his feet. “Far enough away to forget when you need to?”
“Maybe. It‘s only a couple of hours flight from Gotham so I thought I’d use it as a retreat.” The previous owner had spent millions creating a private playground for the rich. “Thought it may be a good place for the two of us to… just to hang out.”
Dick smirked. “Hang out?“
“Look, don’t give me a hard time. I‘m a bit out of practise when it comes to free time.“ The mirth masked his bubbling anxiety. His conversion with Alfred two days earlier, rushed back…
“Do you think that is wise, Sir?”
“Sorry? You think there’s something wrong with me asking Dick to join me for the weekend? Don‘t worry, Alfred, I won‘t let him overexert himself. Besides, Leslie says some gentle exercise will be good for him and Dick is just about going out of his mind being cooped up in the house.”
Alfred was frowning. “That isn’t what I meant, Master Bruce.” Alfred licked his lips. He often walked a tight line. On one hand he was an employee, but on the other, he was family. Right now, he felt he needed to comment. “I think you have made a number of dubious decisions of late, son.”
Bruce rose slowly from his chair, staring at Alfred like he was from Mars. “I… what do you mean?” He couldn’t possibly be talking about adopting Dick… and yet, Bruce knew he was. “I thought you were happy that I adopted Dick.”
“Of course, Sir, but your timing for such an important event was abysmal.”
“Timing? I don’t understand.”
Alfred sighed. “You gave it no thought at all.”
“No thought!” Bruce yelled. “I promise you, Alfred, I thought long and hard about it. I haven’t thought about anything else since…” His voice faded as an image of Dick laying so deathly still in hospital was dredged from his memories. “Three months ago I promised myself that when Dick was fully recovered, I’d make things right. Adopting him was a start. Hell, I should have done it years ago.”
Alfred shook his head. “Son, I’m not questioning your sincerity, nor the action, but I just think you should have waited a few weeks.”
“Why?” Bruce was at a loss.
It was only then Alfred realized Bruce had completely forgotten the significance of the coming weekend. “My apologies, Sir. I assumed that you had intentionally timed Master Dick’s adoption one week from Father’s Day.”
It took some moments for Bruce to process the words. His eyes grew wide and before he knew it, he was falling back down into his chair. “Father’s Day! I… Oh, no.”
Alfred turned to the drinks table, poured Bruce a scotch and handed it to him, saying, “I think a drink may be in order.”
Father’s Day hadn’t entered Bruce’s mind. The fact that he’d forgotten and had planned to be away was bad enough, but adopting Dick only a week before a day Dick would be focusing on his memories of his father was indefensible. Bruce had placed his boy in a dreadful position. Dick was still coming to terms with his decision to accept Bruce’s offer to ‘formalize things for legal reasons’… and now Father’s Day would arrive thrusting his ‘real’ father in the forefront of his thinking.
“Oh, God,” Bruce muttered. “I didn’t think.” He hadn’t thought beyond his own personal need to let Dick know how much he cared. “Dick didn’t say anything when I asked him to join me for the weekend.”
“No, to his credit, he said nothing.”
“Why didn’t he say something?”
“I can only assume he believed you had asked him away so you could spend Father’s Day together.”
Wayne‘s face twisted with anguish as he whispered, “Alfred, how could I have stuffed this up so badly?”
Alfred smiled gently. “Welcome to fatherhood, son.”
“I don’t want to replace his father.“
“He knows that.“
“But what the hell must he be thinking?… that I purposely wanted to take him away so he couldn’t pay his respects to his real father?!“
“I doubt that.”
“I can’t undo the adoption… why didn’t ‘you’ say something?” Bruce exploded.
Alfred calmly poured himself a scotch. “Because I only found out you had made the decision to adopt Master Dick after you had already asked him, otherwise I would have advised you to wait a few weeks and let Father’s Day pass as it always does.”
“I’ll put off the signing a week so we can be home.”
“I’m not sure that is wise, Sir. While you may not have been aware of the significance of the weekend in question, I am sure Master Dick was.”
“So what the hell do I do?”
“Go, but be aware of how difficult this weekend may be for him.”….
Tomorrow was Father’s Day. Despite the fact that his relationship with Dick had been rocky for a long time, his love for his son had never wavered. Finally being able to let Dick know how he felt by formally adopting him had been one of the happiest days of Bruce’s life. However, he’d acted without thinking things through… something that was very out of character. Bruce berated himself again for his lack of forethought. He should have waited until after Father’s Day before setting the adoption in motion.
“The island is 100 km across at the widest part,” Bruce explained to Dick as the pair stepped out of the warmth of the private lodge. Grayson stopped after taking a couple of steps. The air lashing his face burned his ruddy cheeks. Bruce turned and laughed at the look of surprise the younger man displayed. “You’ll get used to it. It’s mild today.”
“Mild?” Dick exclaimed, pulling his brightly coloured parka around himself. “Hey, I forgot my Bat thermal underwear.”
“We’re in the Arctic Circle, remember. Just wait until a blizzard hits. Then, it’s cold. This way. And be careful. It’s slippery.”
“I get the feeling you’ve been here before.”
“I spent some time here just after…” his voice faded. Dick eyed him and then looked away. The time when Bruce had broken his back had not been a good period in their relationship.
“This way,“ Bruce coaxed, leading along an icy path through the courtyard. The gardens were extensive but covered in snow, the branches hanging low with the weight. In summer, the grounds were bright and colourful Dick guessed. Now, everything was enveloped in ice. There were deck chairs around the courtyard, though they too were enshrouded with frost.
“There are no beaches. The entire island is 250 metres above sea level so access from the mainland is only by air.“
“Pretty mountainous too, by the look of it.“
“Uh-huh. We’re on the highest. Great rock climbing in the summer, I’m told. The island has three small villages - one at the base of each of the larger mountains.”
Dick surveyed the land as far as he could see. Mowee Retreat, where he and Bruce were staying, was on a wide plateau at the top of Mt Mowee.
“We’re completely isolated up here. To ski or do anything else we have to take the helicopter or sky rail down to one of the villages. Anyone who wants to leave the island has to take a plane from Pine Village… and that isn‘t easy at this time of year. The weather dictates everything.” Bruce stopped walking once he arrived at the edge of the plateau. “This is why I bought the island,” he whispered.
Dick followed Wayne’s gaze and was stunned by the breathtaking view. It truly was beautiful. They were perched in the sky and directly in front of them and below, everything was white as far as the eye could see. In the distance Grayson could the see the dark ocean.
“Worth every cent?” Bruce asked Dick, passionately.
Grayson stared out over the world, or at least, that was what it felt like. The icy air and strong winds buffeted him as he stood at the end of the plateau. It was freezing, but deep down inside, he felt overwhelming warmth. Everything in his life was finally going right. Barbara loved him. He and Bruce had worked out their problems and were as close as they had ever been and his Nightwing activities were finally making a difference in Bludhaven, or had been before he’d shot three months earlier. Tomorrow… well, tomorrow wouldn’t be easy, but it was something he needed to face.
Bruce slipped his arm across his son’s shoulders. He had wanted to share this with Dick. So far there hadn’t been any awkwardness. As a matter of fact, Bruce was surprised by how easy it was being around Dick. It wasn’t that long ago that such time in each other’s company had been uncomfortable, neither knowing what to say… both grieving what they had lost. Now, all of that was long forgotten.
“You‘re right. It is beautiful. So, will you be closing the island to others or keeping it the way it is?”
“I’ll leave everything as it is. Mowee Retreat will be for our private use. The resort and shop owners in the villages below lease everything so I don’t see any reason to make any other changes. The resident population is only about one hundred. During the tourist season it goes as high as five hundred. Did I mention, best skiing anywhere in the world?“ Wayne added, bouncing his eyebrows.
“We’ll test that claim this afternoon when I show you how it‘s done, old man,” Dick chuckled.
“This morning, if I can get the signing done quickly... And we‘ll see who shows who.”
The trip down the mountain on the sky rail was cosy in the air-conditioned cabin. Bruce and Dick travelled the thirty minutes in comfortable silence. They were greeted by a small group of curious locals wanting to get a look at the new island owner. Bruce immediately swung into form, handling the ‘audience’ with ease. He also successfully kept all attention from Dick… something the younger man was grateful of.
“Sorry about that. I didn’t realize my arrival was known,” Bruce apologised as he and Dick set off down the street, leaving the welcoming committee behind them. Nathan Village consisted of two main streets crisscrossed by small lanes that contained tourist lodges, chalets and local residences. The snow fields were at the south end of the village which was were 95% of the people were collected.
Bruce and Dick headed away from the tourist strip. “Do you know where we’re going?” Dick asked, shivering.
“Yeah, the Dear Head Tavern. Are you cold?”
“I guess it’s taking me a little while to acclimatise,” Dick murmured. This was the first time he’d been out of the house since leaving hospital. Alfred had been the nurse from hell and Barbara, who had visited daily, hadn’t been much better. However, their collective efforts hadn’t been in vain. Dick’s recovery had been far more swift than any of them could have hoped for. Early physio had helped, but so far, anything more than a stroll around the Manor, was out of the question.
Bruce stopped walking, dug into his pocket and handed Dick a wad of bills. “Go down to the shops and buy yourself a decent coat and then meet me at the Tavern. It’s the brown place at the end of the street,” Bruce stated, pointing.
The handful of notes hung between them for an uncomfortable number of seconds.
“I have my own money, Bruce.”
“My money is your money,” Bruce insisted, thrusting the bundle at Dick.
“No, it isn’t,” Grayson muttered, pushing Wayne’s hand away.
They stared at each other for some time.
“Bruce, I work. I don‘t need your money.”
“It isn’t charity,” Bruce growled in frustration.
“I didn’t say it was,” Dick snapped, seeing red. “I many not earn a lot, but it’s enough.“
“That’s immaterial now,“ Wayne stated, gently. “I can’t run Wayne Enterprises on my own anymore and its important you know and understand how everything works in case anything happens to me. As soon as you‘re up to it, you can come in and between us, Lucas and I‘ll show you the ropes.“
Dick’s face twisted with shock and abrupt rage. “Oh, so you’ve got my life all planned out for me, have you?“
“Huh? I just thought that it was a given that you‘d…“
“A given?! I’m a cop, Bruce. I enjoy being a cop. I know you don’t approve but…”
“I never said I didn’t approve. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“When have you ever needed ‘words’ to let me know you don’t approve of my decisions?!” Dick growled, spinning on his heals and heading back the way he’d come.
“Dick, wait. Dick!“
Bruce watched his son disappear and shook his head in confusion. What the hell had just happened?
© January 2006 Aussie Nightwriter : This relates only to the creative property in this story. The distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations are mine. I acknowledge that some of the characters and settings belong to DC comics and thank them sincerely for turning a blind eye so I can borrow them. (g) No infrigement of copyright was intended and no profit has been made from this story... so, please don't sue me. It wouldn't be worth your while.
Click here to return to "Nigthwing Fanfiction Index"