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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"
Pine Village, Havico - The present
Dick flexed his shoulders, testing the coat for size. “Feels good.”
The shop assistant nodded, eyeing Dick up and down. “Good fit and even better price.”
Dick smirked. “I‘ll take it.”
“Excellent. So what’s he like?
“Bruce?" Dick shrugged. "I don’t’ know.”
“Ohhhhhh," the youth commented with a grin. "You two just had a fight? Hey, I understand. My dad and I argue all the time. Let me guess. He wants you to do one thing and thinks he can order you to do it for no other reason than ‘I’m your father, boy’ and you want to do something else and you've just told him you’re old enough to make your own decisions. “
Dick grinned. He liked this boy. The youth was hyper and reminded him a little of Tim. “I am old enough to make my own decisions, kid. How old are you?” The pair walked back across to the counter.
“Seventeen. So, I guess you went to college. What’s it like?”
“Only went for a while.”
“You drop out?” The teenager looked surprised.
“Something like that.”
“Wow. I’ll bet the shit flew.”
“That’s one way of putting it… actually, come to think of it, ‘the shit flew’ is the perfect way of putting it,” Dick chuckled, digging his wallet out of his knapsack.
The youth grinned. “My favourite phrase. Needless to say, my dad hates it.“
“Needless to say, that’s why you use it. You and your dad don’t get on?“ Dick asked absentmindedly, handing over the money.
“My dad’s a good bloke, I guess,” the youth murmured, ringing up the sale on the cash register. “A bit old-fashioned. I've tried to talk to him about 'stuff' but he ain’t much of a talker. You know?”
“Oh, yeah. I know.”
“Yeah? I guess most dads are like that. Most days I want him to just butt out of my life.”
Dick frowned. “Don’t wish too hard, kid.” Dick remembered feeling the same way until Bruce had completely withdrawn and that had been worse than any parental ‘interference’.
“Yeah, I know. He found a melanoma on his arm two years back and it scared the shit out of me. Kinda made me realize I do need the old bastard.” He laughed handing Dick his change and Grayson realized that the term 'old bastard' was one of endearment to the teenager. “Well, best of luck with it all and drop in any time.”
“Thanks and if I were you, I’d consider college. You read people well.”
“I’d say a career in psychology or sociology… or a politician.”
The youth burst our laughing and offered his hand. “I’m Mickey -- not as in mouse. Mickey as in Michael Anderson Jnr.
“Grayson? But I thought…“
“Bruce isn’t my biological father.“
“Huh? Ohhhhhh. So your mother played around?“ Mickey’s eyebrows bounced up and down.
“Definitely a politician or lawyer. Bruce became my guardian when my parents died.“
“Sorry. Well, I guess you could have had worse than a multi-billionaire.“
"I guess. " Dick smiled. Mickey seemed to have permanent positive outlook on life. Dick remembered the days when he had too. “Well, Michael Anderson Jnr, thanks for the coat and the conversation. I better get going.”
As Dick stuffed his wallet back into the knapsack, he spotted ‘it’ sitting down the bottom. He reached for it and fingered it for several moments. He’d had it for five days and he still didn’t know what to... later. He’d worry about it later.
Bruce's fingers rapped against the table impatiently, the sound wafting across the room and attracting the attention of those at the bar.
What was taking MacIntosh so long? Wayne's eyes darted to his watch.
Worse still, what was taking Dick so long? He was only buying a coat. What if he'd had another seizure? Bruce’s stomach folded in on itself as adrenaline exploded through him, resulting in his rapping fingers curling into a clenched fist.
Realizing his emotions were out of control... something he’d rarely experienced... Bruce took a deep breath and the pounding in his temples increased.
"Dick's fine," he murmured aloud. Dick was one of the most capable men Bruce knew. He could look after himself. Hell, he'd proved that on more occasions than Bruce cared to think about.
Wayne’s mind floated back...
Gotham General Hospital -- 10 weeks 5 day earlier
Bruce stuffed the final part of his costume into the bag and shoved it in the concealed compartment in the limo. Glancing in the mirror, he hastily ran his fingers through his hair, noting the weariness clinging to his face. It had taken him three days to track Two-Face down -- seventy-two hours since he'd seen Dick. He'd been so distracted during that period, he'd been unable think straight. That hadn’t happened before. Bruce had always been able to turn off his private life, but he couldn’t this time… and honestly hadn’t tried.
Alfred had kept Bruce informed of Dick’s progress and in many ways, that had hindered his ability to focus. When told that Dick had had two more seizures, it had taken every ounce of his self-control not to drop the investigation and rush back to the hospital. The only thing that had prevented Bruce from doing so was the calm assurance from Alfred. The elderly man had promised that Dick was being well cared for and that Nightwing had 'expressed a wish' for Batman to bring Two-Face in. Now that Batman had accomplished that, Bruce just wanted to see his boy.
Wayne stepped from the limo and scanned the area, checking for reporters. He had parked on the construction site among the builders' vehicles. There was very little activity outside. The building itself was complete and only cosmetic touches were taking place inside.
Bruce strode toward the side entrance, passing several carpenters. Each looked at the expensively dressed but strangely ruffled man curiously, though no one challenged his presence.
Despite being focused on other things, something caught Bruce's eye. He slowed his stride and turned back to the car park, watching a stranger get into a pale coloured truck. Wayne's eyes narrowed. The man was dressed in tatty coveralls and carried tools, yet something about him had attracted Bruce’s attention. Wayne honed in on the almost unnaturally square jaw and his eyes widened.
“The photo!“ Bruce ran toward the car. The stranger spotted him, hit the gas and shot out of the parking lot, missed Bruce by less than an inch and almost collided with a car on the main road.
Bruce stopped when he reached the sidewalk and mentally recorded the plates.
There had been a photo of that man amongst Two-Face's things. But who was he? And why was he here?
Two-Face's final comment rung in Wayne's ears, "You think you have saved Bruce Wayne, Batman? Every coin has a second side."
"A second assassin," Bruce murmured. But if the stranger was a second assassin, why hadn't he... "DICK!"
Bruce had no conscious thought.
He was running.
He knocked a hapless builder out of his way as he stormed the bottom floor of the new wing. The communicator in Bruce's watch sprang to life with Tim's urgent voice. "Bruce! I've got a name on the man in the photo. Donald Redland. Ex-army. Specialist in explosives. I've alerted the hospital. They're evacuating."
Bruce's heart skipped a beat. A bomb!
"Where are you?"
Before Bruce could answer, the alarms started squealing in the next building, but not in the Wayne Wing... alarms had yet to be installed.
"EVACUATE," Bruce shouted to the workers. "There's a bomb."
Hearing the muffled alarms, the men heeded the warning and rushed toward the exits, shouting to others to do the same.
Bruce headed for the stairs and raced up them two at a time. He entered the empty corridor that weaved around to the section that housed Dick's room, his shoes thundering on the polished floors and pounding out his frantic need to reach his family.
Alfred and Barbara had seen Bruce arrive from the window of Dick's room and had followed the hall to the very end to wait for him. Both were keen to find out the details of the latest developments but didn’t want Dick disturbed following a restless morning.
As Bruce darted around the corner, he almost knocked the pair over.
"What on earth..." Alfred spluttered, righting himself.
Bruce peered down the fifty feet to the open door of Dick's room.
"What is it?" Barbara demanded, noting the look of undiluted terror on Bruce's face.
"Get out of here!"
"A bomb. Go! I'll get..."
The explosion threw all three to the ground. Four more blasts went off in quick succession, rocking the Wayne Wing to its foundations. The wall on the trio's left shattered inward. A wave of heat swamped them. The roof above groaned. Plaster dust and smoke rushed at them from all directions. Fire broke out everywhere. The only clear exit appeared to be the direction Bruce had come from, but the flames were spreading quickly.
Bruce forced himself up onto all fours and reached out to Alfred who was struggling to sit up. "Alfred!" he yelled over the top of the ringing in his ears and the roaring of the blaze. Leaping up, he pulled the stunned man to his feet, righted the wheelchair, scooped a dazed Barbara off the floor and deposited her back into it. "Get Barbara out of here."
"Master Dick!" Alfred choked out, pointing down the hall that was now alight.
"I'll get him. Go!"
Bruce started down the corridor. Without thought or so much as a pause, Bruce crashed straight through the flames blocking his path and continued running. He could barely see, but his training told him the open door he could make out was the entrance to Dick's room.
“DICK!” The ward was filled with thick, choking smoke, but the flames had yet to reach it. “Dick?!” No reply. Bruce stumbled forward. He tripped over something on the ground and ended up on his knees. “Dick?!”
Nothing but the roaring of the flames from the corridor answered his desperate cries.
Bruce was oblivious to the excruciating heat. He was barely aware of the gagging smoke. His mind was set on one task. "Dick!"
Wayne reached for what he had tripped over. It was hard -- a chair.
Bruce clambered to his feet. His lungs were just starting to ache. His eyes were watering profusely. Wayne floundered forward, his legs striking the bed.
He grasped desperately for his boy, but the bed was empty. “No?!” Had he made a mistake? Was he in the wrong room? "Dick?!"
There was a gasp to his left. In amongst the thundering and roaring of the fire, Bruce heard his name choked out.
“Wall. Your left,” came the wheezed reply.
Bruce made his way around the bed, straining his weeping eyes to see through the impenetrable smoke. He moved left as instructed, found the wall and began patting his way toward the muffled coughing and gasps. Bruce's knees struck something soft.
“Dick?!” Bruce reached down. Dick was on his knees. Somehow he’d ripped the wires and tubes out of himself, climbed from the bed and had been making his way to the window. Bruce located Dick’s arm and dragged the injured man upright. An involuntary scream was wrenched from him. Bruce felt it to his core, but he had no time to be gentle. He had only seconds to get Dick out before they would be cut off or would succumb to the smoke.
“I’ve got you.” Bruce threaded Dick’s arm across his shoulders and then, following the wall, he dragged his half-conscious burden toward the door. Using the window to escape was out of the question. It didn't open and even if Bruce could smash it, they were a storey up with no rope and Dick wasn’t in any condition to be doing any acrobatics.
Dick’s coughing became more intense, each breath accompanied by a gasp of pain. Grayson collapsed against Bruce, too weak to support his own weight. Wayne strengthened his hold. Dick's body was raked with convulsions as his lungs desperately tried to rid themselves of the intrusive smoke. However, every agony-laced cough was reassuring, for it proved he was still alive.
Using his free hand, he followed the wall and found the door. Turning in the opposite direction to the way he‘d come, Bruce made his way toward the fire escape he knew was a few feet down the corridor.
A fifth explosion rocked the building and part of the roof gave away. Bruce curled Dick into him, using his own body to protect his child as debris rained down on them.
© 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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