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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"
The old-fashioned bell above the little ski shop tinkled as Dick entered. He’d chosen this shop specifically because it was small and looked deserted. Grayson wasn’t in the mood for conversation or crowds. He knew he’d over-reacted to Bruce’s innocent offer of money. He would apologise for that later. However, Bruce’s assumption that he would just throw away all he’d worked for to wear a stuffy penguin suit and copy Bruce's façade of a brainless socialite, was infuriating.
The youth behind the counter looked up and smiled. “Hi. Can I… Hey, you’re the one who was with Bruce Wayne… the guy who’s just bought the island!”
“Yeah,” Dick acknowledged, quietly.
“So you his son or his lover?”
Dick’s eyes grew wide. “What?”
The youth smiled broadly. “Hey, I’ve got an open mind.” Dick’s reaction had answered his question, though. “Sorry, just trying to settle a bet I had with a friend… and I lost,” he laughed. “So, your old man must be loaded? How can I help?”
“He’s not my… I mean… I need a warmer coat,” Dick fumbled.
“Sure, this way. We don‘t carry a lot of the more expensive brands, but a coat‘s a coat, I always say. Rumour is, he‘s going to leave everything on the island as it is. That true?”
“Bruce doesn’t see any reason to change anything,” Dick murmured.
“Bruce? You call your father by his first name? Cool. If I called my dad, Tom, he’d horse whip me. My dad’s incredibly old-fashioned. Wants me to go to college and better myself. Me, I just want to be ski instructor, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Dick mumbled. “I know what you mean.”
Bruce stared down at the bills in his hand. Dick was officially his heir, now. Damn it, he’d always been his heir, but now that stubborn young man was legally his son, surely he could give him a few dollars?
Bruce cursed as he reviewed Dick’s parting statements. Never at any point had he 'directly admitted' he disapproved of the boy’s decision to become a cop -- or, maybe he had. Of course, it was all immaterial. Dick read him like a book. Bruce had still intended going to Dick's graduation though. He was proud of what the young man had achieved. Not that he'd ever told him, but Dick knew. Didn’t he?
Unfortunately, on the evening of the graduation ceremony, Poison Ivy had escaped and catching her had been more… Bruce froze as he processed the end of the thought -- because catching her had been more important? The skin around the billionaire’s eyes creased and his brow furrowed. At every turn, the tangled mess he had made of his relationship with his boy revealed itself.
“Mr. Wayne?” The muffled voice jolted him back to the present. A middle aged man wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around his face, stood in front of him bouncing from one foot to the other.
“Yes?” Wayne’s breath materialized in front of him in a white cloud.
“I’m Peter MacIntosh. We spoke on the phone.”
Bruce shoved the money into his pocket and then shook the lawyer’s hand.
“Let’s get out of this cold,” MacIntosh encouraged, setting off toward the Deer Head Tavern. “So, have you settled in at Mowee Resort?”
Bruce‘s gaze lingered in the direction Dick had taken and then he turned and joined MacIntosh. The sooner he got the signing out of the way, the sooner he could go after Dick and fix things. “Yes. We arrived by helicopter last night.”
“Mr and Mrs Rogers help you to settle in?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
“Will you be keeping the Rogers on?”
“Yes. I’ll need someone to maintain the place while I’m in Gotham.” Bruce’s mind drifted. All he’d wanted was to make things right between himself and his boy. Adopting Dick, inviting him for the weekend so they could spend some time together -- hell, buying this island -- was all part of Bruce‘s plan to correct the mistakes he'd made over the years.
“They will be relieved. They’ve lived on the island all their lives. Started working up on Mowee about…” MacIntosh’s voice faded in Bruce’s ears, replaced by recollections of the moment he had realized he needed to make changes…
Gotham General Hospital -- 12 weeks earlier
Bruce held his boy with great care. Unconsciously, he counted each reassuring breath Dick took, feeling the rise and fall of the young man’s chest against his own.
Despite the three gaping holes in his body and the fact that Leslie had officially pronounced him dead only an hour earlier, Dick was alive. Bruce didn’t remember scooping his boy up into his arms only moments after Dick had returned from his brief visit to the next world. ‘I swear, I’ll make changes. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ The solemn pledge came directly from his soul.
Bruce looked down on Dick’s deathly pale face. Dark shadows hung beneath his eyes. The blue of his lips, slightly parted due to the tube coming from his throat, seemed to glow against the translucent pallor of his skin. “It’ll be okay, chum,” Bruce promised. The word 'chum' stung in his ears. For so many years he'd used 'chum' instead of the word that shouted in his heart.
The pounding of boots in the hall invaded Bruce’s private world.
Out of nowhere, a hyped Tim appeared. For a split second the teenager froze, staggered by the scene in front of him.
Bruce was cradling Dick in his arms.
Bruce was actually holding Dick!
In the last year, Tim hadn’t seen Bruce stand close to anyone, let alone hug them. Wayne had become so insular and clinical, even with Alfred. As for the relationship between Bruce and Dick, Tim had realized that relationship was the wrong word. There was no relationship to speak of. They simply avoided each other unless their ‘masks’ were in place.
Pulling his hanging jaw closed, the teenager eyed the nurse seated across the room, exchanged a glance with Alfred and Leslie who were standing quietly to one side, and then moved closer to the bed. Lowering his voice, he whispered, “Bruce, I’ve just heard on the radio that Two-Face...”
“Stuff Two-Face,” Bruce interrupted.
Alfred and Leslie exchanged a startled glance. Alfred Pennyworth shut his eyes and gave thanks. Bruce was putting Dick first. It was everything he had hoped and prayed for.
“Huh?” Tim stuttered, his eyes popping at the response.
“I said, stuff Two-Face. I‘m needed here.” Gently, Bruce adjusted his hold of Dick. Grayson’s head wobbled against Wayne’s shoulder, Bruce steadying it before sweeping Dick’s damp hair from his forehead.
Tim blinked. Was Batman saying no? Had Bruce really used the word ‘stuff‘? “Oooookkkaaaayyyyyy. I’ll... yeah. Well... okay.” Wide-eyed, he backed out of the room.
Aware of his audience for the first time, Bruce lowered Dick onto the pillow, careful not to upset the dozen wires attached to him. The doctor walked forward, adjusted her patient’s head, checked the tubes coming from his nose and mouth, and then examined the wires, drip and bandages. Bruce hovered, determined to stay close. He needed Dick to know he was there -- would always be there.
“Bruce, you‘re in the way. Sit down.” Leslie strode across to the supervision area and checked the machines monitoring Dick’s vitals. After giving the nurse some instructions, she returned to the bed. “No significant change." She laid her hand over Bruce's. "He isn’t out of the woods, yet. The next few days are going to be critical.” With a nod to Alfred, Leslie left the room.
Bruce felt the brush of an arm settling across his shoulders. “He’s going to be alright.” It was a declaration. Alfred’s gentle squeeze caused Bruce’s muscles to ripple. “Everything’s going to be fine,” Wayne promised, his voice crumbling with emotion. He believed that. He couldn't accept anything else.
“I do believe you are right, son.” Alfred drew in a shuddered breath and released it slowly. If Dick pulled through, Alfred knew that Bruce would make every effort to ensure things were made right, but would he be given the chance? Leslie’s parting comments weren't as positive as those she'd made before checking the monitors. No 'significant' change. The word 'significant' had taken on a significance of its own.
Bruce glanced up at the man who had the title of butler in name alone. “I don’t know how… when… God, Alfred, we almost lost him.“
“We did loose him, Master Bruce. Twice.”
“I know.” Bruce acknowledged. Emotionally, he’d lost Dick years ago. He honestly didn’t know why they’d drifted apart. It had started before the events of the dreadful night when, for the second time in Bruce's life, a gun had rocked his existence. As a result, Bruce had made the painful decision to sack Robin. A rift had opened between them, and Dick had walked out of his life. The pain and feeling of loss had been as bad as when he’d lost his parents, but Bruce stood by the decision. He'd done what he needed to, to protect Dick... even though it had meant losing him.
In the years since that fateful night, the rift had become a chasm. Bruce no longer knew the boy he’d raised, but he still cared… loved him. The revelation hurt beyond belief.
Tonight was the second time he’d lost Dick; again as the result of a gun. Bruce began to tremble as the full weight of what could have happened hit him. He’d come within seconds of losing his ‘son’ forever and he’d have lost him without ever having said the words imprinted on his soul.
“Alfred, was it pride? Fear?" Was I just too weak to admit how much I needed him? Bruce silently questioned himself. He shook his head attempting to blink away the haze veiling his eyes.
“It isn’t important. The four of you have provided a second chance. You must not waste it.”
“Four of us?” Bruce asked, puzzled.
“You and Dick, Leslie…” Alfred paused and lowered his voice. “And the Almighty.”
Bruce sighed and despite the caustic emotions reverberating through him, he smirked.
Alfred‘s gaze became scathing. “You can wipe that smile off your face, young man. This Sunday we will be in church giving thanks.” There were few times Alfred's voice held such a tone... the tone of a father providing an instruction that wasn't negotiable.
Wayne’s head bobbed in defeat. Noting how tired the elderly man appeared, Bruce rose, indicated for the butler to take the chair, and then sat himself on the edge of Dick’s bed. He picked up his boy’s hand and squeezed it. “He feels cold. Do you think…”
“The nurses know what they’re doing, Master Bruce,” Alfred assured, nodding to the intensive care specialist who was seated at her station. The plump woman glanced up, smiled and then returned to unobtrusively doing her job.
Apart from the beeping of the dozen monitors surrounding the bed, the room became silent.
“Dick never gave up on me,” Bruce whispered.
“He couldn’t." Alfred's hushed voice echoed in the room. "I don’t doubt there were times he wished to. I know I have wanted to on several occasions, but fortunately, it is impossible to give up on those you love."
Bruce’s Adam’s apple jumped. He lifted his gaze to the man who had been the stable force in his life and then returned to looking at his boy. “Don’t worry, Alfred. The three of us are going to make it.”…
Pine Village, Havico - The present
“… but I don’t think they see her very often. She lives on the mainland these days. Here we are,” MacIntosh announced, holding the door open for Bruce. Wayne stepped into the tavern and balked at the temperature.
“Warm, isn’t it,” the lawyer chuckled. “That’s why I chose it. This is the warmest place on the island. I've booked the conference room for us. By the way…” Once again, MacIntosh’s babble faded into the memories the billionaire was recalling.
Gotham General Hospital -- 11 weeks 2 days earlier
Bruce could hear most of the whispered conversation taking place in the corridor just outside the room.
Alfred: But you said he was going to be okay.
Leslie: You know I didn't say that. I said that he appeared to be out of danger. I also said that the next few days would be critical.
Alfred: When Master Bruce came into the room, Master Dick woke up.
A long pause.
Leslie: I can’t explain that. I wish I could.
Alfred: He’s going to be alright, though? With a lot of rest and... Leslie?
Leslie: I can't perform the miracle you want... and neither can he. He's human, Alfred. Humans are basically frail creatures. When a human stops breathing, we have the ability to resuscitate them. When a human heart stops beating, we can start it again with an electrical charge. When all electrical impulses cease in a human brain though, there's nothing medicine can do. We can keep the body 'alive' with machines, but the individual is dead. Five days ago, Dick died.
Alfred: He's alive, Leslie. His brain started again. I see no need for a documented thesis to explain why. Miracles happen. Heaven knows, I have seen enough in this life to know that. He just needs more time and maybe a little bit of help.
Leslie: If I could do something, I would. Dr. Anderson is the best in the field.
Leslie: Alfred, Dick’s in a coma. There is very little cognitive activity. It’s time we started to prepare ourselves.
Alfred: Prepare ourselves? Oh, no.
Leslie: I’m sorry, Alfred. I… I don’t think Dick will come out of the coma.
© 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.
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