Three hours later, a drowsy Dick Grayson emerged and headed for the bathroom. He hadn't really been tired when he made that excuse to Bruce. But after half an hour of thinking and unwanted tears, he decided to sleep anyway just to buy him some time. It wasn't a good sleep, but he's had worse. There were a few times when he would, not completely intentionally, wake himself up. During those times, he carefully snuck out of his room and peeked around to see if Bruce was still here. And to Dick's surprise, he was. He would then turn around, careful not to make a sound, and crawl back into bed, secretly feeling safe enough to sleep until he awoke again.
In the bathroom, Dick turned on the faucet to the tub and put it into shower mode. He let the water heat up as he slowly stripped out of the annoyingly too skinny black jeans. How the hell had he managed to sleep in those things? Being unconscious as Nightwing or just too exhausted after patrol to take his costume off must have as some pretty good practice. He entered the shower and instantly started to think a bit more clearly. The soothing warm water felt good as he stood there just soaking, taking it all in. As he showered he tried to strategize and formulate a plan for the situation he was currently in. But after a while, he found it depressing to think about any future conversations he might have with Bruce, and decided to just enjoy the shower for now.
It had been three hours and Bruce was growing frantic. Why is it that I am getting so worked up about this? Bruce got off the couch and started pacing for the hundredth time that evening. Well maybe because your son is a suicidal wreck who refuses to talk to you and could he doing anything to himself right now. He started pacing even faster. It was more like a psychological thing that he had, without thought, just picked up from Dick after watching him do it for so many years whenever he was nervous or in an uncomfortable situation and was trying to calm down. What am I saying? He's sleep. I just checked four minutes ago.
When Dick left for his room, a thousand and one thoughts had entered Bruce's mind that he just didn't have the time, patience, or want to deal with them all at once. Bruce was reluctant to let it show, but he was pretty close to a break down while he was talking to Dick. He was just lucking chose the right moments to shake. Bruce had waited 45 minutes of head throbbing strategization until something kicked him in his gut and told him to check up on Dick. He was asleep. Since then, Bruce had been checking regularly every seven to twelve minutes. He tried to stop and just let the boy rest in peace, but even he couldn't control his demanding side. Wait a minute, boy? Am I ever going to let him grow up?
A couple of times, Bruce could have sworn he felt Dick get out of bed and…do what? Search for him? He has grown up. He's an adult now. But that doesn't mean I still can't be protective of him. No, he couldn't possibly have felt Dick's eyes on him for a few seconds every now and then before disappearing. But whenever he did get that feeling, he would immediately tiptoe down to Dick's room and make the most of he could from looking underneath the door. Just a fingertip or lock of hair was enough to tell Bruce that he was still in there. Then he would wait for the slightest of movement to let him know that his son was okay.
It was just then Bruce heard the shower start and lost all train of thought. Alright, so Dick is awake now. He could come out any minute, wanting to talk with me. Damnit, Bruce, what have you been doing this whole time? I was supposed to be thinking about my responses to any conversations we might have. Since when am I this unprepared? I actually feel almost vulnerable. Hell, with Dick I am vulnerable. I need to buy some time…
Dick hadn't meant to be in the shower for so long. When he got out, it was already 7:42. I can't believe I spent an entire hour and a half in the shower. I didn't even get that clean! He thought as he checked the time on his cell phone. Years ago, Dick had learned that it is always a good thing to keep a phone when you go to the bathroom. Not as long ago, he learned that it is a bad thing to keep a phone a little too close when you go to the bathroom.
Dick wrapped a towel around his waist and headed for his room, not thinking about closing the door behind him. With hair and chest still dripping wet, he pulled on another pair of black jeans. They weren't nearly as tight as the first ones, be still showed off all of his lower features. When Tim had once questioned him about them, he seemed like he had no idea how much cleavage the things showed. Dick didn't even bother with drying his hair off or putting on a shirt. It was his place anyway.
He walked around his apartment wondering where Bruce was until he wandered into the kitchen.
"Oh. Uh…hey." He managed to get out around the shock.
"Oh, hi, Dick. Um-sleep well?" Bruce tried for a smile-he really, really did-but just couldn't pull one off.
"Yeah, I slept fine. What-what's all of this?"
"I just figured that you might be hungry when you woke up, so I went to a Chinese restaurant-because I know you like Chinese food a lot- and picked up some food. I wasn't exactly sure on what you liked, but…"
An hour and a half ago, Bruce had left out to buy some food at a nearby local restaurant. Unfortunately, it was shut down the previous night due to its sixth failed help inspection. Bludhaven. I can't believe Dick eats at these places. So Bruce had to travel all the way across town just to find a decent restaurant. But right when he was about to walk through the door, an ambulance showed up and it was closed for the night. Luckily Bruce remembered that there was a Chinese place he had passed on his way to Dick's apartment that was just barely inside Bludhaven. And Dick just so happened to like Chinese-a lot. So an hour later Bruce was on his way back, but there was a huge wreck and Bruce had to drive all the way back through the highway and find a different route. He didn't even know the city well enough to know not to get off exit 47 or else get trapped in a vicious circle that could even make him swear.
When he finally made it back to Dick's place, he was worried that Dick would be wondering where he was and might think that he really didn't care enough to actually stay. But much to Bruce's surprise, he was still in the shower. So he started to warm everything up and set it out on the table when he heard the shower stop.
"Wow, Bruce. This is really nice. You didn't have to do all this, though."
"I wanted to. I heated some of it up, but some might still be cold, if you're ready to eat."
"Why would it be cold? Have you been out for a while?"
"Yes, actually. An hour and a half. Which kind of surprises me. Not me being out so long-it would have been longer if I wasn't ignoring the speed limit the entire time. But I mean you. How long you spent in the shower. I left right after you got in and returned right before you got out, meaning you spent an entire 90 minutes in there. I suppose I probably shouldn't be that surprised you spent so much time in there, though. You know, seeing how when you were 15 you started this phase about taking really long showers that you grew out of after a few weeks. But you always took extremely long showers whenever something was wrong-even as a kid. So, I guess that's just a thing with you and…and, I am…I'm rambling, aren't I?"
"No. No, it's cool." An awkward moment passed between them.
"So, uh…are you ready to eat?" Just when he thought he had a clear vocabulary again.
"Good. I actually may have gotten too much food here."
"No, its fine, Bruce. Thank you."
The two sat down trying not to look at each other. For a moment, they were silent as they set food on their plates. Finally Bruce couldn't take the tension and decided to be the first to say something-there really is a first time for everything.
"So…are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Bruce." Dick knew this was going to happen eventually. The awkward conversation that he just wished didn't have to happen.
"Really? Well is there anything that you would like to maybe talk about?" Bruce's eye twitched a bit, but luckily, Dick was too busy helping his plate to an eggroll to notice.
"No." Bruce raised an eyebrow and scooped out some rice, not taking his eyes off Dick for a second. Dick just looked away.
"Dick, you know one way or another we are going to at some point talk about this. Better now, right?"
"There's nothing to talk about, really." Again with the eyebrow.
"I mean, we already kinda talked about some stuff. And no matter what you do, Bruce, I'm not going to tell you why or why I won't tell you. So, yeah, there is nothing for us to talk about." Dick was fidgeting a bit and Bruce just kept staring at him. No, the Bat just kept staring at him. There was silence for several minutes as Dick played around with his food like a little boy who got in trouble at school and was just waiting for the punishment.
"Okay. Just forget all of your self-pride for a second and answer me this honestly. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
"I…I-I" It wasn't usual for Dick to be hesitant. He bit his bottom lip-something that had become a habit when he was 12-and looked down at his plate held no interest to him anymore.
"Well, um. I…maybe."
"So then why don't you talk about it?"
"I, I just don't, Bruce."
"Dick, all I want to do is help you, but you're not making that easy in any way." He bit his lip harder this time.
"I don't mean to make this hard on you. I never wanted anyone else to have to be bothered by this."
"And that's just the problem! You've always been so selfless and worrying about other people first, which is a great quality to have. But even so, you still have to sometimes think about what's best for yourself, Dick. You've never wanted to be a bother to anyone about anything, but when it comes to things like this, there is no way anyone could consider helping you bothersome. Because that all we'd try to do is help you. That's why people have therapists and such. To talk to someone who can help them when they feel that no one else can."
"Dick, you told me that you wanted to get better, but just wasn't sure if you could or even cared. I am telling you right now that you can get better and it starts with trusting someone-anyone enough to talk to them. But if you care or not depends on if you want a better life or not."
"I want a better life. I've always wanted one."
"Well, before you can see the light, you must first face the darkness."
"I don't know if I can, Bruce. I'm just not strong enough."
"You are one of the bravest, smartest, and just plain greatest people I've ever known."
"No, I'm really not…"
"Yes, you are. Stop doubting yourself all the time and believe in yourself every once and a while."
"Bruce, I…I'm sorry." A stream of tears suddenly rolled down his face and Dick began to softly sob. Damnit, crying was always the last thing he wanted to do in front of Bruce.
"It's not your fault, Dick." Bruce place a comforting hand on his adopted son's shoulder-something that had always been quite rare between them.
"Yes, it is. Everything's my fault."
"No, no. That's not true. Shh…shh. It's okay. Let it out." And for a minute or two, he did. By the time he had gained control, he found himself rocking back and forth on Bruce's shoulder as he held him. It reminded him of the times when he was younger and would have nightmares about his parents during his first few weeks at the manor. Usually t was Alfred, but on a few occasions, Bruce would be the one to come to Dick's side and bring him comfort to the best of his ability. And that was enough.
"I'm sorry." Dick said one last time before giving Bruce a tight squeeze and then freeing himself from his grip. Bruce gave him a few moments to recapture himself before saying anything.
"It's getting kinda late. I should head out for patrol."
"Dick, I don't think you're in the position to-"
"I'm fine, Bruce. I just need to get ready for patrol and so do you. Look, if it'll clear your conscious, I guess you could come back after we're done, alright?"
"Alright." Dick hopped up and started getting ready for the night, food gone to complete waste. When he was fully costumed and about to climb out the window, Bruce stopped him with one last statement for the night.
"Just be careful and don't try anything dangerously stupid."
"Sure, Bruce. Just don't worry so much while I'm gone."
And with that, he was on his way.
*Chapter 3 coming Soon. I promise ;)*