Author's Note: "We've switched DarkRiver's regular Muse with Folger's Crystals, let's see is he notices!" I bloody well do notice! Eroticus seems to be on vacation, so I'm stuck writing real stories. Sorry, I know this'll ruin my rep, but what can ya do? This one should be viewable by all audiences... any slashy themes you notice are just your own sick minds at work.

This is a D.C. fic about Young Justice. If you're reading that book, I think you'll get a kick out of this little story. If you're not... why the heck aren't you? It's only in ish 27 and it's written by the most awesome Peter David so what's your excuse? Seriously, I've tried to fit in a little exposition to help along those who don't know the kids, but you'll get more out of it if you read the book. (There, Mr. David, I've given you your props, can I start now?)


Family Values: Part 4
By DarkRiver

Wonder Woman seethed impotently, glaring at the Flash with such venom that he was almost--*almost*--tempted to back away. He had never seen her quite this furious.

"So, if I go in there--"

"Judge declares a mistrial, and who knows how much longer this will go on," Wally told her.

She went back to her pacing. It was absurd that she should be obstructed in this manner. She was needed in the courtroom; needed to set the record straight. Only the attorneys involved disagreed. Her requests to be allowed to speak had been denied.

And so she was helpless, which was making her want to break things. "Fine," she grated.


"Fine," she assured the Flash. "You're keeping an eye on things here?"

"Yeah, I've already intercepted Bart three times. I know it's a rotten situation, but we have to let the legal experts hash it out."

She sighed in a way that was more a growl. "Fine."

Flash stared at her. "You're staying?"

"Of course I'm staying," she hissed.

He nodded, absorbing that calmly. "Wanna get a pizza?"

"A pizza?" she demanded.

"I'm starved," he whined.

"You always say that," she retorted. Her glower faltered and she rolled her eyes heavenward. "Fine, by Hera, but no olives."

"No..? Man, between you and Aquaman it's just plain impossible to get a good pizza."

"Are you surprised he does not like anchovies?"

"Not really. Okay, I'll go pick it up. If you see Bart, hog-tie him with your lasso."

"Will do," Diana agreed and watched him vanish. It was going to a long vigil, and if all she could do was wait, then at least she would do so nearby.

"Defense calls Bonnie Jones to the stand," Noonz said, looking a little frayed around the edges. His case was definitely not working the way he had intended.

Arrowette's mom took the stand and took her oaths perfunctorily, already stiff and tensed like a cornered animal.

"Ms. Jones, you were once a costumed adventurer yourself, weren't you?"

"Yes, but only for a short time. I was Miss Arrowette the Archer." She grinned tightly at the Judge. "Sent my share of thugs to the pen."

"So, you know the dangers your daughter faces when she goes out."

"Well, the world's changed, but bad guys are basically the same--slow, stupid and predictable. Cissie knows what to watch out for, and what's more, she knows not to bite off more than she can chew."

"Which brings up the point of the arrow-wound brought up during Dr. Lee's testimony. Can you tell us about that?"

"She was fighting some loser named Harm. He threw one of her arrows back at her and she got hit. If she didn't know what she was doing, he would have killed her then, but my daughter obviously did know what she was doing and she avoided a fatal injury--and she immediately retreated."

"So, her training saved her life."


"I would like to bring your attention at this time to Defense Exhibit A12--the notarized document you presented to the Court at the beginning of the trial," he said, retrieving a hefty folder. "This document--though voided by this court--was to serve what purpose?"

"To avoid something like this trial," she replied. "I had a judge friend of mine and a lawyer hash out a document declaring as legally as possible that Cissie could operate as Arrowette. The judge involved required rigorous physical and mental exams before he sealed it."

"In fact, those exams were the inspiration for the exams given to the whole team for this trial, yes?"


"So you were trying--without divulging your daughter's secret--to work within the boundaries of the law."


"Now, Ms. Jones, you have had charges of child endangerment leveled against you before, haven't you?"


"And what was the outcome of that?"

"The judge in that case completely ignored the documents I had prepared to validate my daughter's ability to handle her costumed identity. She was made a ward of the state and taken from me until I was able to meet certain criteria--which I have. The matter, I thought, was closed."

"One last question, Ms. Jones; do you ever worry about your daughter when she's out in costume?"

Bonnie and her daughter locked eyes for a moment and something inexplicable past between them.

"All the time," she said sincerely. "But I always knew she could take care of herself."

"I have nothing further," Noonz said and returned to the Defense table.

Maxine rose, her notepad in one hand and a well-worn pencil in the other. Her posture and demeanor were those of a coach whose team had a clear lead in the last minutes of a crucial game. The arrogance annoyed Winfried a bit, but he could not punish her for that. If he were to make a judgment based on feeling, he would have summarily ruled against her long before this point.

"Ms. Jones, why exactly was your daughter not sent to the hospital after her encounter with Harm?"

Bonnie shrugged and lit up a cigarette. Winfried blinked and paused a moment in sheer astonishment, not sure he believed what he was seeing. He shook off the amazement quickly and cleared his throat rather noisily. "Ms. Jones, smoking is not permitted in the Courtroom."

Bonnie glared at the judge as she took a long drag. "You've dragged me into court, questioned my competence as a parent and threatened to take my child from me. You can damn well deal with it for a minute."

Winfried felt a moment of pity for Cissie. If this was the sort of attitude she was constantly confronted with than growing up normal had to have been all but impossible.

"Ms. Jones..."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine, whatever," she snapped and crushed out the cigarette.

"Prosecutor, please restate the ques--"

"You don't have to bother," Bonnie growled. "Cissie didn't see the doctor because she did not need to--you'll note she healed fine."

"Yes, but--"

"But what? If she'd gone to the hospital, her identity would likely have been compromised--something your thugs nearly did coming to our house, by the way."

Maxine's eyes glittered dangerously. "So, you decided that despite blood loss and possible nerve damage, your daughter did not need a physician?"

"Jesus, were you raised in a bubble? Kids fall down, they get hurt, they get better. They're not pieces of glass that need to be packed in styrofoam."

Maxine maintained the semblance of patience with difficulty. "So, you equate an arrow wound to a skinned knee?"

"Objection, argumentative," Noonz argued.

"Agreed. Move on, Ms. Delricci."

"Ms. Jones, you recently spent time in a mental institution, did you not?"

"Yes," was the unabashed reply.

"What were you seeking treatment for?"

Bonnie laughed at her before Noonz could even raise his objection. "You can't think I'm dumb enough to believe I have to answer that."

"Counselor..." Winfried warned.

Faced with the formidable and defiant Bonnie Jones, even Maxine Delricci was left at a loss. She turned the page on her notepad and rallied for one more assault.

"Whose idea was it for Cissie to become Arrowette?"

"Mine, but--"

"And who signed her up for the U.S. Olympics?"

"I did, but that--"

"So, her notoriety is due mostly to you."

"You could say that." Bonnie's tone indicated that while you could say it, you probably should opt not to.

"In fact, the only major decision that was ever Cissie's was to give up her costumed identity, correct?"

"That is hardly a fair--"

"Yes or no, Ms. Jones?"

"Yes." The word was packed with venom and hatred.

"No more questions."

"We'll recess and come back in one hour for Mr. Drake's testimony."

" then, Mr. Drake, let us make this a matter of record; were you aware that Tim was operating under the guise of Robin?" Noonz asked once they were reconvened.

"Absolutely not."

"Since the question has been brought up, can you explain how he was not only able to master the skills needed to become Robin but to operate for months without your being aware?"

Jack looked at his son, but Tim stared resolutely at the floor. "It is a question of trust. I relied on the rapport I thought I had with my son. I do not believe that raising a child under a constant cloud of suspicion is healthy for them."

"Even when your son broke his restriction... even when he showed up in the ruins of Gotham?"

Jack sighed heavily. "In retrospect, it was stupid of me, I'll admit. I'm man enough to admit I make mistakes, but allow me to make something very clear: I wanted *Tim* to tell me what was going on with him, not hire some private investigator to follow him. I tried grounding, I tried moving to a new city--and when that all failed, I sent him to a private school. I was attempting to discipline him and give him the chance to come to me with the secret he was harboring."

"So, you were aware something was wrong."

"Yes--I'm not blind," Jack said pointedly.

"And you made every attempt to find out what it was?"

"No." Winfried's brow furrowed. Jack Drake's expression was hard. "I didn't lock him in his room or put him on a restricted diet of bread crumbs and tap water. I didn't beat him black and blue. I didn't throw him out on his ear until he told me. I will be curious to see if having not done these things will make me a bad parent in the eyes of the law."

The Judge had to suppress a smile. Noonz had obviously saved his best and most savvy client for the last.

"Thank you, Mr. Drake. Your witness, Counselor," Noonz murmured.

Maxine stood and smoothed down her blazer. She was obviously aware of the mettle of the foe she faced and was fully prepared. Or so she believed.

"Mr. Drake, you say you were not aware of your son's activities because you trusted him to tell you if anything were wrong."


"Did the fact that you were often away on business not contribute to his unparalleled freedom?"



"No," he reiterated. "My housekeeper was home, keeping tabs on him. Her eyes are twice as sharp as mine, so anything I would have noticed, she would."

"A stunning endorsement, I'm sure. Mr. Drake, you are going to be getting remarried soon, yes?"

"Yes," he affirmed with narrow eyes.

"Did your pursuit of this relationship serve as a distraction for you?"

"Obviously, but Tim isn't four years old, Madame Prosecutor. I had no reason to feel he needed me hovering over him."

"His habitual disappearances didn't give you enough of a reason?"

"As I said, I was dealing with that in the best manner I saw fit."

"And, in retrospect, do you feel those measures were adequate?"

Jack glared at her. "I suppose not."

"You suppose not," Maxine repeated. "Did you ever once check his room for drugs?"




"Did you take any measures to determine if your child was endangering the public health other than patiently waiting for him to tell you?"

Jack's face flushed. "Do you have kids? Do you know the enormity of the responsibility?"

"You are not answering the question."

"Damn the question, I've already given you the answer."

"Then you may step down."

"Not yet."

"The witness is excused," Judge Winfried informed him.

"No, wait a minute--"

"The witness will step down."

"No, damn it!" Jack had finally had it. "If you want to take our kids from us you're damn well going to give me a moment to speak."

Judge Winfried would normally have rejected the demand, but this was a special case and a certain leeway had to be granted. He nodded briefly to the witness.

"I am not going to sit here and tell you I am the best father in the world. I've made my share of mistakes--but remember the old saying: kids don't come with instructions. I raised Tim to be good and honest and kind, and I haven't seen anything yet to tell me I failed. He didn't tell me he was Robin, sure, but I know he would have if he could.

"What's more, how dare you cast aspersions on women like Bonnie Jones and Helena Sandsmark? They have raised their daughters alone with few advantages to help them. I have not heard anyone mention with respect the hard work they--and all single parents--go through. It is easy to find fault, to look at things in hindsight and say how we should have or could have done things, but try being in the situation. You have your choices, you make your decision you move on.

"But for you to come along at this point and say we're not doing good enough for you, well, that's just insulting."

There was silence for a long moment.

Ismael Noonz broke it with a polite request. "Your honor, I would like to redirect."

Judge Winfried saw no reason to deny the request, but he failed to see what else could be gleaned at this point. Slowly he came to realize that this last must have been pre-planned, a coup de grace of sorts to close the defendants' case.

"Very well."

Noonz did not rise, artfully allowing the spotlight to focus entirely on his client. This was definitely rehearsed, but Winfried was curious. Noonz and Farnsworth were not given to dramatic conclusions to their cases.

"Mr. Drake, I was waiting for the Prosecution to ask this, but since she did not, I will. If you had been consulted, if you had known that your son wanted to be Robin, what would you have done?"

Jack's face was grave. "Tim has always been extremely bright. In fact, when he was in pre-school, his teachers told his mother and I that he was gifted. We were proud, of course, and we thought long and hard on what we should do. We considered private schools, tutors--even sending him to Europe to study. We finally decided that it was more wrong for us to pick a mold for him to fit into than to risk letting his talents go to waste. We chose to let him choose what he wanted to be."

Tim Drake, for the first time, lifted his head to look at his father, pain and pride vying with confusion and shame in his eyes. He did not speak, but his attention was utterly focused.

"We encouraged him to excel, but he needed little encouragement. When my wife passed, I suppose I did not do so well with pushing him, but Tim continued to grow into an astonishingly mature and responsible young man. That was why I did not check his room; that is why I had so much faith in him. I could not believe he was doing anything wrong--and it turns out I was right.

"He chose, for whatever reasons, to use his gifts to forge himself into this figure from urban legend. If I had known he wanted to go out nightly to face danger so others would not have to, that he was moved by some sense of moral certainty to dedicate his life to making the world safer... how could I have said no? My son has chosen to make a difference for the better, and what more could any father ask? Even keeping the secret from me does not change the fact that I am deeply proud of my son."

"Thank you, Mr. Drake," Noonz told him. "The defense rests, your Honor."


"The U.S. Government has nothing further, your Honor."

"Then we stand in recess. We will reconvene tomorrow for closing statements."

"Your Honor, there are obviously a lot of emotional issues and concerns in a case like this," Maxine began the next morning. "Any time the State has to intervene in family matters, we find ourselves questioning the law's right to do so.

"In this case in particular, we are confronted with a group of young people with exceptional powers who seem to be doing good for our society. The inclination is to simply let them be; to assume that since they are so different from anything in our experience that we have no right to govern them.

"But that simply is not true. They are all children of our great nation, and they deserve the same protections and guidance all children do.

"If this was a normal case, it would have easily been decided. Kon is an orphan, for all intents and purposes, living with people who are not his guardians by law or by biology. Mr. Drake, Mrs. Sandsmark and Ms. Jones are single parents whose children go without supervision for long periods of time, plunge into trouble, endanger their lives and often times destroy public property.

"If this was a normal case, they would all be in State custody.

"So we must face the question; do we treat them like we treat all kids or should we give them special consideration? The answer in fairly simple. We do not. Cissie has been brow-beaten into a life she did not want by a mother who is clearly unstable. The poor girl quite nearly died from a wound that her mother--by her own words--was unconcerned about.

"Cassie's in even more danger. Her powers force her to go toe-to-toe with her enemies. One unlucky moment and her neck could get snapped. Her mother knows this and yet she allows her daughter to go into these situations when she should be forbidding her.

"Tim's father claims that since his son turned out well, he should not have his parenting questioned. Tim has grown into a remarkable young man, but he had little to do with it and should certainly not be allowed to take credit for it. We can only be grateful that Tim fell in with Batman and not the Joker, or he could easily have wound up doing as much damage as he has done good.

"The case is simple, your Honor, emotional considerations aside. These young people need real supervision, and it is obvious their parents cannot provide that."

Maxine swept her steely gaze over the defendants and then resumed her seat.

"Mr. Noonz?"

The defense attorney rose calmly and folded his hands behind his back. "Your honor, many things have been brought up during the course of this trial, but in the end it boils down to a simple question; have my clients failed as parents?

"The only gauge of that is the young people they have raised." Noonz looked over at the bench where Young Justice sat. "These teenagers, these heroes, are the best evidence I can offer you that my clients have been good parents. They are moral, they are good... they are just. The Prosecution wants to claim this is by accident--but good parenting is no accident.

"If we were dealing with menaces to society, I would agree that something needs to be done. But the law is not meant to punish people like my clients.

"Could they have been better parents? Possibly. Could they have been worse? Most definitely. I think if the law is going to hold parents to a specific standard, then that standard should be a reasonable one."

Mr. Noonz sat down again.

"Well then, if there is nothing further, I declare a recess until next week," Winfried told them. "I will have a decision for you then."

Judge Winfried looked out at his courtroom for a moment, taking in each face as they settled in and prepared to hear his decision. It was obvious the week had worn on them, worried them and wrung them out with many hard, conflicting feelings. The members of Young Justice were all gathered now--even Impulse was here, pensive and uneasy as they prepared to meet their fate.

Bart had reached an uneasy truce with the law. The Flash had explained to him that if Young Justice was still intact after the trial and he wanted to be part of them, he was going to have to agree to undergo the same tests the others had. The Prosecution had objected loudly when informed they would be denied the opportunity to crucify Impulse's parent or guardian, but the Judge was more interested in finding an equitable solution than burning people at the stake.

The parents were all chipped around the edges. They had obviously spent the whole week wondering if the State would take their kids away. He felt sympathy for all of them, as most any man of compassion would, for this was a terrible thing for a parent to face.

The lawyers, of course, seemed calm and reposed. It was one of the first things you learned in law school: never let them see you flinch.

"Very well then, I would appreciate the defendants and their charges to please rise so I can get on with this--I'm sure your nerves have endured all they can," he said without preamble.

The requested parties rose, straight-backed and stone-faced.

"Let me start with my statement on Impulse. The boy, known only to this court as Bart, tested at exceptional aptitude and so it is the judgment of this court that all pending charges against his parent or guardian be dropped and that he be allowed to continue to operate in his costumed identity.

"Now we have the harder points to cover. Kon-El, while I am suitable impressed with your respect for authority, your maturity and your courage, I am alarmed by the gaps in your education. The law may not yet have clearly mapped out the appropriate treatment of clones, but in this case I think you should be viewed legally as an orphan with Cadmus as your guardians. In that light, they have fallen far short of the standards the State must set.

"Therefore, it is the judgment of this court that you be made a ward of the State and placed into foster care for a duration to be decided upon by your case-worker. Out of respect to Cadmus' interest in you, I authorize visitations for the purpose of training."

Kon-El looked plainly stunned. There was no fear or hurt in his eyes, just an utter lack of acceptance of what he had heard.

"Cissie Smith, your situation gave me much to consider. Your former case-worker highly recommends you be returned to foster care, but my instincts say no. It is apparent that you and your mother are at a critical juncture in the repair of your relationship and that for the law to interfere now would truly be a travesty. My judgment then is that you are to remain with your mother."

He took a sip of water and glanced over his notes. He really should not have to, as many times as he had gone over this in his mind. This was a very emotional case, though, and he did not want to forget to mention anything.

"Cassie Sandsmark," he began, looking directly at the fretting girl. "Your maturity is refreshing and I think if all teenagers were as level-headed as you, we would not need family court. Mrs. Sandsmark, you have raised your child wonderfully, and I want you to walk away from these hearings with your head held high. You have met tremendous challenges and can be proud at the results. Cassie will stay with you."

Helena blinked a few times and then broke down crying, weeks of terror pouring out of her.

"I would also request--and this in no way carries with it the implication this Court is ordering you--that you speak with Social Services about Kon-El."

"Now wait a sec--" Kon started to protest, but the Judge easily cut him off.

"I believe you can see to it he gets the education he needs, and I think Cassie will have the positive influence on him he needs. A normal homelife would, I think, have positive impact on him. But, as I said, that is just a suggestion."

"I'll... I'll consider it," Helena promised, still sobbing.

"Good," the Judge said with a faint smile. His brief humor faded as he reached the last pages of his notes and his gaze was drawn inexorably towards Tim's father. "Mr. Drake, I am impressed by the son you have raised. The values and ethics Tim displays are truly impeccable.

"However, I agree with the Prosecution. I think his character is the result of luck more than good parenting, and that worries me... worries me deeply. Tim's test scores are extraordinary. He could easily be in Yale or Harvard right now. I agree with you that a child should choose his own path, but I fail to see how you helped him at all. Your rationalizations as to how you never noticed him missing, why you took such mild action when he vanished for days on end... they are simply absurd. If you had been there, if you had given him the attention he needed, he never would have turned to Batman as a father figure."

Both Drakes' eyes widened.

"Yes, Mr. Drake, that is exactly what has happened. You fear this court taking your son from you, but you've already lost him. You were not there to help him find his place in the world, so Batman showed him instead. You did not teach your son as a father should, so he turned to Batman to learn. You failed to take an interest in your child, Mr. Drake, and when Batman offered, Tim leaped at the chance.

"How lucky we all are that Tim did not find one of the many nefarious misanthropes infesting Gotham--imagine the challenge to the police force trying to counter the wit and guile of your son. Your negligence is deplorable, and I am ending it here. Timothy Drake is hereby made a ward of the State--"

"No!" Jack protested.

"--for the period of at least twelve months, at which time his case worker will make recommendations about his future."

"No!" It was Tim now. "My Dad is a good man! He didn't fail me. How can you say that? You don't know, you weren't there!"

"Young man, sit down," the Judge warned.

"No, I won't let you do this!"


The quiet guards who stood against the walls moved forward to restrain the hysterical youth, but they were only men and he was the Boy Wonder.

Tim leaped off the bench, landed, somersaulted to avoid capture and rolled out of the way of the next lunging attack. With instinctive grace, he launched himself into the air, feigning one way and then ricocheting off the Prosecution's table.

The Bailiffs all thought his intent was escape, so they were fanning out to block all exits. They did not suspect for a moment that he had no intention of fleeing.

Tim leaped into his father's arms and held him so tight he couldn't breathe. "Dad, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

"It's okay, son... It's okay," Jack murmured.

Tim's cheeks were wet. He didn't care. His whole life was one great show for everyone; pretending to be the fearless Boy Wonder or pretending to be a normal teen. Let the world see if it wanted that this was tearing him apart.

"It's not okay... I wanted to tell you so many times. I almost did, but I was so afraid you'd hate me or something..."

"Hate you?" Jack was stunned.

"Bailiffs!" Winfried ordered.

"Hate me for lying to you all those time, for not trusting you to tell you in the first place..."


Strong hands gripped his shoulders, prying him off his father. "No!"

"Tim, go with them... we'll find a way to fix this..."

"Dad... no..."

He was ripped free and dragged backwards, flailing uselessly. Through blurred vision he saw his father reaching out to him, his own eyes red. Over and over again his Dad kept telling him to be strong, to hold on and have faith.

Then he was out of the courtroom and into the holding area. The other members of Young Justice were there, staring at their unflappable leader in alarm. They had never seen anything faze him and it left them nonplussed now. For a moment, they seemed afraid to approach him, as if he were suddenly made of glass, but the moment past when Cissie nervously stepped forward and took his hand.

And then Tim Drake let it all go and cried brokenly on her shoulder.

Drawn to him by bonds deeper than they were previously aware they even shared, his friends sidled forward and wrapped their arms around their leader, giving him strength as he had done so often for them in so many ways.

Kon was the last, and his eyes were filled with a kind of wonder as he wrapped the huddled group into his strong arms and told them, "We'll be okay, guys."


Batman paced agitatedly, chafing at the waiting game he now had to play. The plan, though not his, had been a good one. Every step had gone flawlessly so far. Now, though, he had to let the plan work and be ready to move when the last piece snapped into place.

There were a great many ironies in life, and he was a man to appreciate them. Diana had demanded he take action, but he had refused. She had gone in his place, and been thwarted. Now he was here, in the darkened courthouse, trying to make things right.

His whole frame was tenser than he liked. Even on patrol, he was never this pensive. Thinking of the gargoyle-spattered heights of Gotham filled him with a sincere desire to slip away home to his world of shadows and underworld figures.

Even taking on the Joker was less difficult than this operation.

p>"Mr. Wayne?"

Bruce blinked, the shadows receding from his vision as he shined his best smile on the Judge's secretary who now stood before him. "Yes?"

"His Honor will see you now."

"Thank you," he said with another winning smile.

He had forbidden Tim from revealing his identity to anyone because he had always feared that Tim's name would lead back to him. The case had proceeded and concluded, though, without a single crack in his secrets. Tim was owed a great deal for that.

The problem had come when he had received the call from Jack. He and Tim's father had been reasonably good friends for a while--which made getting the news of losing custody of Tim that much worse. Being a man haunted by the destruction of his own family, it was hard for him to handle having ruined someone else's.

Jack's request had been simple enough--and complicated at the same time. Bruce had successfully raised one ward, certainly he could raise another. Jack had confided how much better he would feel knowing that Tim was in good hands. Bruce was a good enough friend that he knew he could trust him, but not so good that the Court would suspect a trick was being pulled.

By all appearances, Bruce would simply be taking on another ward. However, with Tim operating as Robin, surely someone would figure out the secret.

But Tim had the Court's permission to continue his crime-fighting career. In fact, that activity was a contingency his guardian was going to have to accept.

It was all perfect, which was why Bruce was terribly uneasy about it. In point of fact, despite his feelings of guilt over Tim's situation and his friendship to Jack, he had been inclined to refuse. There were some risks that were simply too much.

Alfred, though, had threatened to resign unless he did it. Bruce did not think Alfred would have really resigned, but the threat was certainly an indication of how serious the aged gentleman was taking Tim's plight.

So now Bruce was here, walking into Judge Winfried's office and terrified of two distinct possibilities:

That Judge Winfried was going to inform him that he was not stupid and the whole game was quite obvious and that Bruce's secret was undone.

The other thing that terrified him was that the Judge would deny his request to take custody of Tim.

Judge Winfried smiled at him and offered him a seat. The personal assistant brought them coffee and then quietly left.

"I must say, it was impressive how quickly your request came in, Mr. Wayne."

Bruce tried not to look too serious. "Well, Jack and I used to be neighbors, so we still keep in touch. I was anxious to hear the results of his legal trouble, and when I did, I wanted to help. I know his son is a good boy, and I want to help keep him that way."

The Judge flipped through a folder. "Well, you are certainly qualified. Financially, legally... and of course, you did an excellent job with Dick Grayson. I understand he's a policeman now."

"Yes sir."

Winfried closed the folder. "Mr. Wayne, Tim is going to require a lot more work than your previous ward--you are aware he has a night-job, of sorts?" Bruce nodded. "You will have to see to it he does not neglect his classwork and social life. Do you think you can handle that?"

Bruce nodded. "Dick was high-strung himself. We had our contests of will, but in the end, we came away with mutual respect. I would like this opportunity."

The Judge nodded and smiled tiredly. "Then I'll put my stamp of approval on it. Social services will be contacting you, once we get it worked out how they can do their jobs without further compromising the young peoples' secrets."

Bruce breathed a very real sigh of relief. "Thank you, your Honor."

Winfried smiled at him. "Don't thank me yet."

Bruce laughed and shook the man's hand. It was done now, and he just had to hope that he had done the right thing. Dick had turned out all right in the end, but Bruce still wondered if he had given the boy a proper homelife.

Only time would tell, he decided.


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