A/N: Hey guys, back at it again. The story is slowly coming to an end, so it won't take much longer and I might be uploading the next chapters in a short time.
Thank you all for your support! You're all awesome :)
"We're almost home again, young sir. I expect to arrive there within ten minutes or less." Alfred announced while using the rearview mirror to look at Dick who was sitting in the back seat in silence.
Dick looked out the window at the bustle on the street and the people who were passing by in a hurry. He sighed deeply and watched how a man with an irritated look was calling on his phone while walking with quick steps over the pavement without looking up. Dick couldn't imagine that he would grow up to be just like that man. He had always expected him to build a career with his parents in the circus and he would be the best trapeze artist in whole wide world. But everything's different now and all his dreams seemed to be unreachable and to belong to the past. Dick always have had a goal in life, but now that his parents were no longer alive he felt like he was trapped on a rudderless ship that was aimlessly sailing on the ocean with no land in sight.
"Master Dick, I wanted to briefly indicate that I am very satisfied with the small behavioral changes that I have observed with Master Bruce. I have the impression that he had a good weekend and that all thanks to you." Alfred said as he drove onto the driveway. Dick looked in the rearview mirror to look at Alfred with a small smile, but it disappeared once again as his gaze slid to the empty passenger seat next to the older man. Bruce had to stop by his office to get some paperwork which he had to catch up with and they had dropped him off at Wayne Enterprise. He also hadn't said anything to Dick or hadn't even looked at him for just a second since the phone call that he had received after Clark's departure.
"Master Bruce might probably join you tonight for dinner." Alfred continued to speak while he drove the car into the garage. Dick didn't quite believe it so he just unbuckled his seatbelt and stepped out of the car as soon as the butler had parked the car. He just wanted to get to his room to wrap himself in his blankets shutting himself completely off from the world.
"He is your son."
Bruce knew that it was a statement rather than a question. Clark had closed the door behind him before he had said it and he was now striding through the big office towards the desk where Bruce was bent over collecting his paperwork. When he looked up he saw that it was not the cheerful and somewhat naive journalist who had come to see him, it was Superman who had spoken completely seriously and with controlled calmness.
"That took you longer to figure that one out than I had expected..." Bruce muttered sarcastically, without looking up as he sorted the papers.
Without a single warning Clark pushed aside Bruce's desk a meter with just one hand which made most of the papers fall of his desk and onto the floor. "What the-" Bruce shouted angrily, but he was cut off by Clark who raised a hand as he watched with a reproachful look at Bruce. "Shut up, I do not want your apology. You will not get out of this one, Bruce." He spoke firmly as he lightly poked into Bruce's chest with his finger.
Bruce slapped the hand away and he clenched his jaw hard. Where did Clark suddenly got the nerve to impose his will on him in his own office?
"We are having a conversation about the kid if you like it or not because I'm not leaving before we did. Let's start with the question that I've just asked." Clark spoke with a determined tone as he folded his arms implying he wasn't going to move an inch. Bruce just rolled his eyes, "First of all, it was not exactly a question but rather a conclusion that you had already drawn before coming here. But to answer your so called question, yes, seen from a biological aspect he is my son."
Clark's facial expression changed from stunned to furious "From a biological aspect ..." he mockingly said copying and exaggerating the way that Bruce had said it. "God damn it Bruce, wake up! Did you hear yourself? How are you even able to talk this way about this very nice child? It sounds like you are just describing an object, as if he means nothing to you."
Bruce sniffed hard as he clenched his fists "Where do you get the nerve to say that?" he hissed. Clark's eyes narrowed to slits ignoring Bruce's angry comment "The authorities should never have left Dick in your care. You are not capable enough to bring up a child. As Batman people are genuinely afraid of you and you're the most cold-blooded man in the field during missions. You don't even flinch in dangerous situations and nothing seems to frighten you. You have everything under control and you're a born leader. I admire that you seem untouchable, even if you're just a mortal but when you come home you stay in that same mindset when you don't have to be 'Brucie'. You will ensure that nothing becomes too personally and that nothing can penetrate these thick walls that you've built over the years... sometimes I think you're not even capable of letting someone in even if you wanted to. Luckily, Dick has been fortunate that Alfred took care of him and cared for him, for we can't expect you to do so."
Bruce squeezed his hands together so hard that his knuckles turned white and he had to tighten his muscles in order to not hit him hard in the face and Clark did not stop the cascade of allegations and he went on. "I may not have spend much time together with Dick, but I have enjoyed all the time that we had. He's smart, brave and he clearly has a big heart and I just feel that he has brought some light into your cold manor. I have seen how Alfred seems to be happier with some more life in the household. And you? you take him for granted. Alfred even told me that you're going to give him away. "
Bruce tried to keep a calm tone in his voice but he managed just barely "You know nothing Clark. From the moment that you had met Dick you already were making sure that he took a liking to you which was most of the time at the expense of me, do not think that I didn't notice it. I'm his father and I decide about his upbringing and you have no right to come here and tell me how I should raise my son."
Bruce took a deep breath and he continued almost in a whisper "And you know what? You didn't need to go through all the trouble to come here to lecture me, because I'm not going to change my mind anyway. Dick will be going to the orphanage shortly after he has testified in court and-" Bruce's voice and demeanor broke for a second and he had to swallow before he could speak further, "and then he gets everything that I can not offer him. A fine family. A normal life. Being a crime fighter is not exactly a good combination with raising children."
Clark sighed and his glare turned into a look of despair "Is that what you are telling yourself? You and I both know what happens to those kids and that they get far less opportunities for a better life."
Bruce put his fists in his pockets and he ignored what Clark just had said knowing that it was mostly the truth in most cases. "Commissioner Gordon called me just after you left yesterday. One of the accomplices of the murderer of Dick's parents is already arrested and they are are close to Zucco's whereabouts. Soon they'll all end up in jail, which is something that is will happen for sure because I am going to personally take care of that. After that, Dick will be able to live in all safety again, making is possible for me to find a suitable couple who can take care of him. "
"And why can't you do that yourself?" Clark asked with a raised eyebrow, "With some help from Alfred, of course," he added quickly. Bruce smiled briefly and it sounded like a tad desperate "You said it yourself Clark. I'm not really the right person to raise a child."
There was a silence and Bruce began to pick up the right papers back together from the ground. Clark didn't stop him and after a deep sigh he walked towards the door, but he stopped and turned around just before leaving.
"Do you love him?"
Bruce stopped abruptly and remained silent before he answered, "Does it matter?"
"It's what matters the most." and without waiting for an answer Clark turned around and he shut the door behind him. Bruce took his seat and he sat down while he supported his head with his hands. He stared at the portrait of his father while the streets of Gotham could be heard in the background.
His father looked down at him with his warm smile. The professional yet friendly atmosphere that always radiated from the man was one of the things Bruce always tried to match with. He missed his parents every day and right now he feeled like he could use some advice, an advice from father to son.
Bruce knew nothing about raising children and he was also aware of the fact that he wasn't exactly the type of dad that fit within the picture of an average family. Was there any place for a child in the dangerous life that he lived? It would cost a lot of effort in any case to make things work. He could not assure Dick that he could be present at all his milestones and he would be away from home for his work often for his job. The nights would be mostly filled up with his patrols or he would be called away on a mission. Emotionally he was not sure if he really could be there for the little acrobat too, though he had already noticed that Dick dangerously came close to his 'real self'.
Even though his cocky brain has been too stubborn to recognize and to acknowledge it yet, Dick had already quite managed to break down a small part of its wall, even though it happens brick by brick. And that tiny hole that has been created could be dangerous. If Dick would use it and and if he would crawl in and if he gets underneath that mask...
Bruce shook his head and sighed deeply before he grabbed the necessary papers together and he walked out of his office. It was already getting dark and he had some things to double check before he would go on patrol. He cast one last glance towards his father's portrait. This decision that he had to make, had to be made with his brains. He would and could trust his knowledge and he could use arguments based on facts to support his final decision. It works for him as Batman, so it had to work for him as Bruce Wayne too. Even though Clark kind of told him to listen to his heart, he knew that would only make things difficult. No, he had to hold on to the best and most objective way to decide what was best for Dick. Emotions might only make him doubt and he couldn't doubt himself, not about this…
Dick had his blanket folded around him like a cocoon while he was staring at the window from a small hole by his face. It was already getting dark and he started to get hungry. His gaze slid from the window at the clock which was standing on his bedside table. It was late and to his surprise it was already past dinner time. He frowned as he thought about the fact that it was very strange that Alfred apparently hadn't called him for dinner while the butler always came to his room to announce that dinner was ready to be served. If Dick had no desire to eat at the incredibly overly large table that had only been set for one, then Alfred would bring a tray of food to his room which he then left behind on a table.
Dick felt a strange and uncomfortable feeling rising in his stomach. His mother had often made jokes that he had a gift because he could feel emotions and other things very well. And presently that unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling was become worse. Something was wrong…
Slowly, he crept out of his self-made cocoon and he ran to his bedroom door. With slow movements he opened the door a crack so he could look down the hall. He opened the door further when he was certain that there was nobody around. The hallways seemed to be even quieter than usual and the house seemed to be much colder than before. Dick shuddered and he got goose bumps while he walked towards the kitchen. He folded his arms around himself firmly which served as an improvised hug in an effort to provide some support. To his surprise, he saw that some light which shone from the kitchen and he heard a rattling lid of a pan. Step by step, he walked to the doorway and with bated breath, he looked around the corner
The kitchen was empty and the only sound came from the stove where a pan with potatoes was boiling over. Dick walked quickly to it to turn it off while he briefly looked around. Where was Alfred? It was nothing for the butler to leave the stove unattended. He had warned him so often about the dangers of the stove when he was sitting at the kitchen island to draw something and now Alfred didn't follow up his own advice. He felt like he was getting sick and the bad feeling now began to spread throughout his body. He trembled and stared around him as he walked out of the kitchen. The rest of the hall was dark and Dick swallowed.
Should he search further or should he stay where he was until Alfred came back? Who knows, Alfred may have become unwell in which case he would be needing his assistance. With that in mind, Dick got a little more determination and he collect some extra courage.
He walked out of the kitchen slowly and into the hallway toward the living room (at least for Dick it was what he called the living room because it was the only place where he was most often besides his bedroom and the kitchen). But he stopped halfway abruptly at a sound that resembled the sound of footsteps. Had Bruce already arrived home without his notice? With small steps and as quiet as possible, he walked toward the doorway where some light illuminated a small part of the hallway.
Dick cautiously poked his head around the corner. He could see how someone bent was rummaging in one of the drawers of a cupboard. There seemed be another person present even though he was out of his sight, but Dick thought he heard someone mutter something so it could be that there was more than one person in the room. Could it be possible that Alfred had been distracted by unexpected guests which had caused him to forget to get dinner ready on time?
With a frown Dick looked at the dark shape and his eyes widened when he realized it was not Bruce and Alfred. The person didn't look as strong as Bruce and he wasn't as tall as Alfred. The stranger turned around without looking in his direction, but Dick could catch a glimpse of his face. It seemed as if the world stood still and he felt how the air was sucked out of his lungs as if he had gotten a huge blow against his chest. Dick pulled his head back as soon as possible and he pressed himself tightly against the wall. His heart was beating so fast that it seemed as if it might explode at any moment. Desperately he tried to think of ways to get help and to keep his breathing under control. He had recognized the man.
Dick closed his eyes as he counted to ten, and after that he would surely wake up and then Alfred would be there again right beside him. Bruce would come home and he would turn into Batman and of course every villain was afraid of the hero of the night, so chasing away these men would be a piece of cake. He would protect him and everything would be all right.
After he had slowly counted to ten, Dick opened his eyes and to his horror, it was not a nightmare. In a blind panic, he began to run, he had to get out of here! But he didn't get really far because he wasn't even around the corner yet before he bumped against a hard wall of which he knew that it did not belong there. Dick fell back on the hard cold floor as he heard a heavy short laugh. To his horror he had bumped into another stranger which he quickly recognized too. He felt how the man tightly grabbed him by his upper arm with a force that would leave some bruises. The man pulled him to his feet and Dick was very desperate to get out of the hard grip. His survival instinct was kicking in and he wasn't going to give in without a fight. He began to beat him, to kick around and he even attempted to bite his attacker. But sadly his courageous resistance was short-lived. He heard the man curse before he received a blow on his head with a hard object.
Dick still heard how the man appeared to say something nasty to him with a disdainful tone, but he felt how his body went limp. He allowed himself to be swallowed up by the darkness and he was met by an anxious last thought before he lost consciousness. They had found him and they would not let him get out of this house alive…
I'm sorry for all of the errors in this chapter. English isn't my native language after all...