Greetings! As promised, the last chapter of this fic...possibly. Thank you to all who read this and commented! Hope you all like and review!
Bruce stayed up all night making phone calls to banks, his investors, and his company's branches around the world. He stayed up to collect all of the four million for Dick.
Lack of sleep and lots of coffee didn't help his nerves. Usually, he was a calm and collected person, but with Dick gone he was a downright mess.
Dick bolted upright, gasping as he was aroused by the slamming of a door. He momentarily forgot where he was and panicked a little before he remembered what had happened the night before.
AJ walked in the room, holding donuts, water bottles, and coffee. Dick assumed he had driven somewhere early that morning to find a place even near where they were.
Ray took the coffee from AJ and set it on the table, then walked over to Dick. The boy blinked up at him, sleep still evident on young face.
"You hungry, kid?" he asked. In answer, Dick's stomach growled. The boy blushed and held his hands to his belly, as if that would quiet it.
"I'll take that as a yes," Ray said. He reached down slowly like he did the night before, helping the boy sit upright, then handed him a donut. It was more than a little awkward to eat it with his hands forced together, but Dick managed to devour it anyway. Ray handed him another one, which he devoured as well. He felt better. He didn't feel so nauseatingly hungry as he did last night, since he had skipped dinner, and he was more awake now.
Ray then helped Dick to the bathroom to relive himself and wash the stickiness from his hands, then back to Dick's spot on the couch.
Dick eyed the duct tape that was left on the floor from the night before. "You don't have to do that again, do you?" he asked trepidatiously. "It hurts my mouth. And...I'll... I'll be good. I promise."
Ray debated it for a moment. "No, I don't have to, as long as you be quiet."
Dick nodded earnestly. "I can be quiet. I can be really quiet. I will," he said.
Ray nodded and left Dick on the couch. The two men sat at the table, eating and drinking and talking. Dick wasn't interested in their conversation about trucks.
What was he supposed to do now? Just sit there? Dick sighed. He supposed it wasn't all bad, but he still didn't like these men at all. Ray was nicer than AJ, though. He just wished Ray would let him go.
AJ got up from the table after half an hour of Dick sitting there bored, bringing over a bottle of water. "Here, brat."
He handed it to Dick, smirking when the boy flinched. Dick took cautiously the bottle and tried to open it, but his wrists didn't want to work what with all the tape around them. AJ sighed and held out his hand impatiently. Dick gave it to him. The man twisted off the cap and held it to Dick's mouth, not caring when he spilled a good portion of it down the boy's shirt. Dick drank greedily, letting the cool water soothe his mouth and dry throat. It felt so good.
AJ pulled the bottle away too soon, and Dick almost didn't catch the whine built in his throat. He was still thirsty. But at least his mouth didn't taste funny anymore, and his throat wasn't so dry. Dick sank back into the couch.
It was going to be a long day.
Bruce got the call a little after three pm. He had been waiting all day, worried senseless over his young ward.
His phone rang, and his head jerked up to the sound. He eyed the phone for a moment, glancing at Gordon. The detective nodded encouragingly. Bruce answered the device and put it on speaker.
Bruce inhaled sharply.
"You have the money? All of it?" the voice asked.
"Yes. Four million. Like you said," Bruce answered with gritted teeth.
"Good. At five o'clock, take the West Bridge out of Gotham, and travel thirty minutes straight in that direction. Stop when you get to the fork in the road. No cops, no bugs in your car, no cameras, no nothin'. We'll meet you there."
"Wait. How do I know this isn't a trick? That you won't just get the money and keep Dick?" Bruce asked, suspicious and accusatory.
"You don't. You'll just have to trust us," the voice said, amused.
The call ended.
Bruce grabbed his keys, coat, and the briefcase full of money, and headed out the door. He was going to get Dick back.
Dick fell asleep at some point, snuggled into the blanket Ray gave him to cushion the lumpy couch. He felt a hand shaking his shoulder sometime later.
The boy moaned something about Alfred, and Ray shook the kid's shoulder harder. "Wake up, kid. Time to go."
Dick blinked open his bright eyes. "What?"
"Time to go, kid. C'mon," Ray repeated.
"Go where?" Dick asked sleepily, still not getting it.
"We're gonna meet your dad."
Dick was fully awake now. Ray lifted the kid into his arms and walked outside. AJ was finishing putting the last of the blankets in the back. "Throw him in back, and make sure he can't do anything. I don't want him jumpin' outta the truck or anything," he drawled. "An' gag 'im, too. He don't need to be screamin' the whole way there."
Dick glared at him.
Ray sighed and set the kid in the truck, then pulled out the tape for the umpteenth time. "Sorry, kid," he apologized.
Dick just held out his hands tiredly. Ray sighed a second time and cut off the old tape, then pulled Dick's hands behind his back and taped them together. The poor boy's arms were already starting to ache.
Ray wrapped an extra layer on Dick's ankles, then mummified his knees. Before he gagged the hostage, he held a bottle of water for the boy to drink. Thirst sufficiently quenched, Dick was silenced once more, then gently pushed the rest of the way into the car. Ray buckled the child's seatbelt, and climbed into the back with him.
Dick leaned his head back against the seat and took a deep breath, closing his blue eyes. He was almost there. Just a car ride away from getting back home.
Bruce made it to the bridge just as the clock turned 5:30. He increased his speed a little bit, conscious of the fact that he was over the speed limit, but he didn't care.
He crossed the bridge and drove the agonizingly long road, which turned from asphalt to gravel after a while. At 5:56, he arrived at the fork in the road.
No one was there.
He waited five minutes. No one arrived.
He waited ten minutes more. No one came.
As Bruce was on the verge of calling Detective Gordon, he saw a black pickup in the distance.
Bruce watched the truck roll closer and closer, until it came to a stop next to him. Bruce nonchalantly checked for a license plate, but there wasn't one. They had removed them. Smart.
A buff man in a blue shirt stepped out of the driver's seat and slammed the door. A black ski mask covered his face.
"Where's Dick?" Bruce asked.
"First things first," the man chided. Bruce recognized the man's voice from when he negotiated the ransom over the phone. "You have the money?"
Bruce gestured to his car. "In there. In a briefcase."
Bruce raised a dark eyebrow. "No. I want to see Dick first. You've given me no reason to trust you."
The man smirked. "All right." He turned and knocked on the back window of his truck. "Hey! Bring 'im out."
The door on the other side opened and another man stepped out. Bruce saw his ski mask over the top of the vehicle. It went out of sight as the man ducked back into the truck, then straightened again. He walked around to the front with something -someone- in his arms.
Bruce's stomach flipped. Dick was overly restrained, tape keeping his legs and arms from moving, and a strip of silver tape prevented him from speaking.
But it didn't prevent the excited "Brmph!" that came from the boy. Bruce's stomach flipped again.
Bruce saw the dark bruises that littered the boy's body and the dried blood under his nose, and he clenched his fists. These men were going to pay.
The other man cleared his throat.
"Let's have it, then."
Dick struggled to get to Bruce in the man's arms. He twisted and turned and wriggled, trying to shimmy his way out of the arms around him. Ray squeezed Dick tighter.
"Be still, kid, and this'll all be over soon. It'll go faster if you're still," he whispered through the mask.
Dick stopped moving and huffed at Ray. Why didn't he understand? Bruce was right there! All the man had to do was untie him and let him walk over there!
"Let's see the money, Wayne," AJ said greedily.
Bruce produced the sleek black case from his car and showed it to the man.
"Four mil?" AJ asked, suspicious.
"Yes," Bruce confirmed.
"I'm gonna count it, just to be sure."
"What? No! That'll take hours," Bruce exclaimed. "I promise, none of those bills are fake or have trackers in them. Just let Dick go."
"You haven't given me any reason to trust you," AJ said.
Dick's heart sank. When was he getting out of here?! Bruce glanced over at him and gave a reassuring look. Dick latched onto his mentor's dark eyes and drank in the sight. He couldn't believe he had missed the man he barely knew so much.
"I'm going to check the stacks, then you can take your brat back to your fancy mansion or whatever," AJ commanded. "No tricks, no nothin'"
Bruce reluctantly handed over the case, eyeing Dick the entire time. Dick looked sharply from AJ to the case, then to Bruce. AJ opened the case, and Dick caught a glimpse of the stacks of green.
Did Bruce really bring all that money to buy him back? He never imagined that the man would do that for him. I mean, four million dollars. That was a lot of money to Dick. Being from a traveling circus, his parents didn't make very much financially. But they didn't mind. They loved what they did and Dick never wanted for anything. He learned from a young age to be frugal and to save money.
AJ examined each stack individually, flipping through the bills and moving onto the next ones. Dick waited for a few minutes, then gave up and slumped in Ray's arms in exasperation. Couldn't the guy hurry at all?
Dick shifted uncomfortably, trying to move his arms and shake the pins and needles out of them.
He watched Bruce, noticing his dark slacks and white shirt and picking out all of the wrinkles in the clothing out of sheer boredom. Bruce kept checking his watch and glancing at Dick.
Eventually, AJ had deemed the money to be legitimate, and nodded to Ray. Dick perked up as Ray leaned down and cut the tape off of his knees and ankles. Ray set him on the ground and let him get his balance before backing away and climbing into the pickup.
They were gone within seconds.
And Dick...Dick finally, finally made it to Bruce.
"Hey, buddy," Bruce whispered softly.
Dick was pulled into a tight hug and then picked up and held against the man's chest. He relaxed in the strong, soft arms that carried him. These arms were completely different than the ones that had hurt him, pushed him, tied him up, grabbed him. Relief flowed through him like a river. He was safe.
Bruce set Dick gently in the passenger seat and worked on getting the tape off of the boy's wrists. The last it of was peeled off, and Dick brought his hands around to his front, moaning at the aching pain. His mentor grabbed his wrists and examined them. They were sticky and irritated and Dick rubbed them.
Bruce raised his hand to get the tape off of Dick's mouth too quickly, and Dick flinched.
Bruce didn't miss it. "They hurt you, didn't they?" he asked with a touch of anger in his voice.
Dick ducked his head and nodded. Why did he flinch? It was just Bruce. Bruce wasn't going to hurt him.
This time, his mentor slowly raised his hand, showing it to Dick before touching the boy's face. He tore the tape steadily, trying to be gentle with the boy's chapped lips. The tape came off and Dick inhaled clean air into his mouth, working his jaw clean of stiffness. Dick decided he hated gags.
Bruce gave the boy another once-over, examining the bruises and the child's nose. They would heal, since they were merely external wounds, but Bruce's anger wasn't abated at the men.
"Dick, did they hit you?" he asked.
"Just the man in red," the boy replied in a small voice. "The other man protected me from him after he got really mad last night."
"Mad? Why was he mad?"
Dick hesitated. "I-I...I had a nightmare...About my parents. And I woke him up whe-when I screamed."
"He got mad an-and he was gonna hit me, I think, but Ray stopped him."
"Ray?" Bruce asked.
"He's the one who was holding me. AJ was the one counting the money," Dick explained. "Ray didn't hurt me. H-he helped me with my nightmare and then...he let me sleep next to him so AJ wouldn't get me again."
Bruce was taken aback by this revelation. The man was...nice? He'd never heard of kidnappers being nice.
"He- Ray- didn't...touch you, right?" Bruce asked warily.
"No," Dick answered. "He said he didn't want to hurt me. He was just trying to get money to pay his daughter's doctor bills."
Bruce pulled the little boy into his arms and just held him. Dick's limbs felt like jello and he snuggled deeper into the man's chest. He let out a contented sigh. They stayed like that for a few minutes, simply relishing in each other's warmth. Bruce finally pulled away.
"Let's get you home."