Author's note: I have about five story ideas I wanted to work on, but what was it that was calling to me?! This one. I fought it for a week, then gave in.


The L Word: Partnership

Chapter 1: Christmas!


File coded: RJG-R-JNL

Quadruple Encrypted

This is Robin's Journel, so stay out!

Would you believe it? Today is Christmas, my first in the manor. Ever since Bruce adopted me, I've been so busy I had lost track of time. Bruce said that I should keep a journel so I don't forget stuff. He also says that journelling (sp?) will make it easier to write reports after patrol. OK, I'll try, but I don't think I want to use all the big words that Bruce does because it slows me down trying to figure out how to spell them. And Bruce says I absolutly, positively can't write like I text. I gotta use whole words and not abbreev...abreev...oh heck...abbreveations.

Anyway, the pile of presents under the Christmas tree has been growing all week and my stack is the tallest! When I lived with Mom and Dad, they usually only gave me one present and maybe some clothes (but those didn't count). Now it looks like Bruce (or probably Alfie) bought out the store for me.

I really hope Bruce likes what I made for him. Bruce has been showing me how to make batarangs, but Alfred taught me to finish them so that they're sharp and to coat them with non-reflective paint. I did a set of three for Bruce. And I made a set of wooden bookends for Alfred in shop class at school. I did another pair for Superman; Bruce helped me mail the package to Clark in Metropolis along with the silk tie that Bruce and Alfred were giving him.

Oh, that's Alfred. It's time to open presents now.

(Later)

I didn't get back right away to the journal, so I might as well fill it all in. Bruce got me a complete Robin uniform set. Now I have a summer outfit (with the pixie boots and short pants) and a winter one with long pants. He's right, though, the long pants are a lot warmer and I don't get the scrapes and cuts on my knees that I did in the short pants.

I went upstairs and found Bruce and Alfred waiting for me by the tree. The stack of presents for me was truly huge by now. Bruce looked a little embarrassed by the size of the pile but I didn't mind. Sitting right in front were two really big flat presents that Bruce wanted me to open first. Who was I to argue? I opened them and almost fell over. Bruce had found not one, but two Flying Graysons posters and had them framed. Alfred, Bruce and I went right to my bedroom and I watched as Bruce and Alfred hung them both up for me. It's kind of funny watching Alfred giving Bruce orders about where to put the picture hangers. When Alfred gives an orders, Bruce moves about as fast as I do when Batman tells me to do something.

I won't list everything I got but let's say I have enough new clothes for the entire circus, some new books I've been wanting and some really cool Robin things. And Superman's gift is that he's gonna take me flying! All day! Bruce looked a little mad about that until Alfred elbowed him in the ribs.

Bruce really liked the batarangs and says he'll bring one along the next time we're on patrol. Alfred says he loves the bookends. I helped him put them on his book shelf and arrange the books. He says that the craftsmanship is so good, only the Shakespeare deserves to be held by them. Wow.

So now Bruce and I are back to training. I asked him when will we ever finish all this training. He just smiled back at me and said, "Never. There is always something new to learn."

I guess he's right because he stays up late even after I go to bed. He's usually reading forensics journals or designing equipment. That's another thing he told me. We don't buy our equipment off the shelf because our needs are to spacif...specific. Darn. Bruce won't let me use spell-check because he says I should learn to spell the words right myself, even if it's only in my journal. He also gave me a dictionary for Christmas and it sits on my computer desk in the cave. It's already looking pretty worn. Sometimes I think life was easier in the circus.

We've started on some new training in memory and attention. Since I started, Batman has been training my memory. First it was playing games of Concentration. First we shuffle the deck, then deal the deck out face down. You pull two cards and try to make matched pairs by remembering cards that were pulled before. When I got pretty good at this, he taught me to memorize the details of a room or a set up of objects. First with unlimited time, then less and less time and finally I only got to glance at it and had to recite back everything I saw, including colors and placement.

Now, Batman is having me sit on buildings in Gotham while he patrols and give him a complete list of everything that happens when he's gone. Thing is, it isn't much and I get really bored. I totally spaced out the first couple of times he left me there and the next night I didn't get a dessert at dinner. Bruce just said that he thinks all the carbohydrates are making me sleepy and I should do better tonight. Yeah, right. So after that, I had it down to the number and colors of birds that landed on my rooftop, the name of the pizza parlor that delivered to the house down the street (and address) and the color of socks the beat cop wore when he patrolled the street from 9:15 to 9:20 p.m. Batman just smiled and Alfred left a piece of chocolate cake for me in the batcave that night.

But Batman really is a tough taskmaster. He's tougher than my Dad, and that's saying something. Dad would make me repeat a move or a flip three or four times, then let me sit out and watch. Batman isn't like that. He isn't even like Bruce when he's training me. Bruce has a sense of humor and smiles. Batman is...grim. Tall and dark and grim. He only has three words in his vocabulary when I'm training: "Again" or "Unacceptable" or "Acceptable". Nowhere in his vocabulary are the words "Great!" or "Better than last time!" or "I'm proud of you!"

Yesterday I practiced throwing the grapple and free climbing the cave until I was covered with sweat and I could barely move. Batman just looked at me through those white eyelets and said "Again". So, I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, adjusted my gloves and did it again. And again. And again. I was about to fall off the wall and into the net when he finally called a halt. I don't remember how I got upstairs but the next thing I knew, Bruce was tucking me into bed. Sometimes he really makes me mad!


BATMAN'S JOURNAL

Alfred says I'm working the boy too hard. Last night I had Robin non the climbing wall well after midnight on a school night. The kid was exhausted, could barely grip the handholds where he's scampered up like a monkey the first few times. I could see that he was about to drop when I finally stopped him and climbed up to get him down. We do have a net, but his falling techniques aren't as instinctive as I want them to be, so I fished him down.

Unbeknownst to me, Alfred was standing in the stairwell watching. He followed me up the steps as I was carrying Robin up to bed.

"Sir, you forget that Master Dick is just a child," he said in the patient voice he reserves for my major screwups.

"He's a professional athlete, Alfred. He's been working out since he was two," I said in a soft rumble to avoid waking Dick, passed out in my arms.

"He is exhausted. You have set a punishing pace for him, even though you have cleared him to partner you on the streets," Alfred said, opening the door to Dick's bedroom before me.

"He has to have training in endurance, Alfred," I said as I pulled off Dick's pixie boots. Still his favorites, alas. "It could save his life some day. He has to know how to work past his limits."

Alfred and I both worked to remove the rest of Dick's costume. Alfred took it away to be laundered separately from the family laundry while I dressed Dick in his pajamas. I had hoped that the argument was over but Alfred reappeared after I had tucked Dick into his bed with Zitka under his arm. I turned off the room light and Alfred shut the door behind us.

"Should I discuss this with Dr. Thompkins?" he asked.

I stopped short. "You're pulling rank on me?"

Arms folded, Alfred was the very picture of British disapproval. "If necessary, sir. It is now," he looked at his watch. "Two a.m. on a school night." He looked up at me challengingly.

"Okay, no training past one a.m.," I said.

"Midnight, sir," Alfred said. "And no patrol on those nights until the child is older."

I felt myself squirming under his icy gaze but gave in. I had to. I knew what choice words Leslie would have for me if she heard about the punishing schedule I had set up for Dick. He desperately needed the training, though. If I weren't there to save him, he might have to save himself. I sighed to myself. I'd just have to find a way to fit the training in somehow. He needed it all: endurance, concentration, memory, resistance to pain.

"All right, Alfred. Midnight it is," I replied. "I'll reserve his patrol nights for the weekends when there's no school and he can sleep late."

Alfred brightened. "Very well, sir," he replied crisply and went downstairs.

Nagging butlers.