Disclaimer: Officer Grayson, Bruce Wayne and related characters are the properties of DC COMICS. This is an original fan fiction story, not written for profit, and not intended to infringe on their copyright. Rebecca Sandler and the Righteous Raiders are a figment of this author's imagination.
Authors Note: Special thanks to Syl Francis, the creator of Elinore the stuffed elephant, for letting me use her in this story! :O)
Dick sat on the couch next to his foster father, his mind racing. He had invited Bruce over for a 'talk' but never considered that Bruce would arrive at his apartment so soon. Without much needed time to prepare, Dick found himself starring into the questioning blue eyes of his friend, mentor, and above all else, his dad.
"Take a deep breath son, I don't think turning blue is going to help-whatever it is you asked me here for." Bruce put a reassuring hand on Dick's shoulder, encouraging him with a gentle smile.
"I'm starved... do you want something?" Dick jumped up heading for the kitchen, the closeness between them to uncomfortable to bear.
"Well someone's stressed tonight. You always go on a food binge when you're nervous..."
Dick sighed audibly and sat back on the couch. He couldn't get his way out of this one. Bruce knew him far to well. "I'm not sure I'm ready for this" Dick mumbled as his hands fidgeted. He was trying desperately not to look into those piercing blue eyes of the man he had hurt so deeply.
"Bruce... I" Dick stopped abruptly as the ringing of the phone desecrated his last nerve. "I'll get it..." Dick wasted no time getting the phone, knowing only 'family' would be calling him this late at night.
"Yes Alfred he's here. Oh, okay... Channel 2... got it. Thanks" Dick clicked off the cordless phone while turning on his television. Bruce sat attentively, making Dick all the more uncomfortable.
"Alfred says there's something on Channel 2 you should see..."
The two watched as Rebecca Sandler the leading anchorwoman for Channel 2 News out of Gotham City, gave her recount of the events of the last few minutes. A madman, she explained had taken over the West Gotham bus station and was holding somewhere between 13 to 17 hostages. They couldn't be sure at this time of the exact count. Police Commissioner James Gordon had this to say...
Dick hit the mute button and glanced over to Bruce. He expected him to jump up and be three-fourths of the way to Gotham by now, but Bruce just sat there starring at Dick. Watching his every move with those steel blue eyes.
"You better go Bruce... sounds like a job for..." Dick tried to laugh off his uneasiness but realized he failed miserably. Bruce, for the first time Dick could remember seemed unsure if he should rush off to collide head on with the dangers of Gotham's nightlife.
"I thought you wanted to talk."
"We can do that later."
"Yeah, get going. I would go with you but I'm pretty beat."
"What are you doing tomorrow? Say around lunch time?" Bruce's eyes told him this conversation was going to happen one way or another. Dick had peaked Bruce's curiosity and now he wouldn't rest until he knew what it was all about. One of the dangers of having a detective for a father, Dick mused.
"Meet you at WayneTech at about 1:00. Deal?"
"Deal, and son... don't even think about not showing up!"
Bruce was out the door and to his car before Dick could reply. Sitting back in the recliner with his feet up and his work shirt unbuttoned, Dick pondered his situation. He clicked on his cordless, hitting the speed dial for Bab's number. Thinking better of it, Dick hung up after only the first ring. He entertained the idea of calling Tim, but the kid had school tomorrow and probably would be fast asleep by now. Alfred, well he wasn't very objective when it came to Bruce. He needed someone he could talk to that wouldn't tell him who was wrong or right, someone to just listen and give unbiased advice. Hmm, Dick thought, sounds like a job for...
"Clark, did I wake you?"
"Uh, no." Clark Kent's sleepy voice mumbled. "...Is this Dick?"
"Yeah. I hate to bother you so late, but I need some advice and well... you're the closest thing I have to an uncle..."
Clark carefully got out of bed trying hard not to wake his slumbering wife Lois. Stumbling to the kitchen he turned on the coffee pot and sat down at the kitchen table. "And you are the closest thing I have to a nephew... spill it kiddo."
"Well... it's about Bruce..."
Dick locked up his car in the WayneTech parking lot at around 1:20. He yawned as he straightened up his uniform. He realized that he wouldn't have time to go home and change before work so he came prepared. Oh Well he thought Bruce will get a kick out of it. Bruce still hadn't gotten used to seeing his son in black trousers and white police shirt, complete with a big shiny badge. Bruce had insisted on a huge assortment of pictures when Bludhaven's Police Department accepted Dick. Everything from riot gear to street wear to dress uniform. They all hung proudly at the newly rebuilt Wayne Manor. He still didn't understand why Bruce hadn't made it to his graduation of the Police Academy. Bruce never offered an explanation. Nothing new or surprising there.. Dick thought to himself sarcastically.
Approaching the downstairs front lobby of WayneTech, Dick was caught off guard as screaming secretary's flew past him as if the building were on fire. As he reached the front desk two security guards ran up to him, obviously relieved to see him.
"Thank God you're here! That was fast, we just put the call into the police..."
The security team hadn't recognized Dick as a toting card member of the Wayne clan. They simply reacted to what they saw-Officer Grayson.
"Calm down and tell me what's going on..." Even as Dick tried to get details from the pair of anxious guards his eyes were darting back and forth checking out the room, looking for anything that could be causing such a panic.
"Officer they've got Mr. Wayne!"
Dick's blood ran cold. "Who? Who has Mr. Wayne and where?"
"Terrorists!" One guard reported.
"Yeah and they talk funny too, think they might be from L.A. or something..."
If the situation had been so critical Dick might have actually laughed at the incredulous statement.
"Where are they?"
"Last report has them dragging poor Mr. Wayne to the roof. I think he's unconscious!"
Dick didn't waste valuable time listening to anymore. If they, whoever they were, were headed for the roof then there was a real danger of them escaping with Bruce. They were headed for the helipad; Dick only prayed that Bruce was only 'acting' unconscious. Hitting the elevator button furiously, Dick noticed the power blinking on and off. He opted for the stairwell to the left of the elevators. Knowing it was going to be close if he got to the roof in time. Damn it! Why did I have to be late! Taking the steps three and four at a time and running at top speed, Dick knew it was still taking to long. After he reached the fifth floor he jumped into an elevator, deciding if the power went out, he would deal with it then.
His luck held as he reached the top floor without incident. Running as soon as the doors opened Dick didn't slow down except when he seen the nameplate on Bruce's office door, Bruce Wayne C.E.O.. Dick felt a lump in his throat and threw all of his fear and anger into a burst of energy. Running through the deserted office he managed to make it to the roof access in record-breaking time. Once the fireproof door flew open wide, Dick scoped the scene taking in the number of armed terrorists and the fact that the helicopter was about to lift off. Reacting quickly, the police officer forgot that he was in uniform.. Police uniform. A double flip followed by a swooping kick and two of the terrorist landed hard on the concrete roof. They never knew what hit them. Dick dodged an explosive line of bullets and managed to grab the bottom rung of the helicopter just as it was lifting off.
Still dodging bullets and hanging on by only one hand, Dick was unwillingly lifted up and found himself flying over Gotham City's industrial section. Grabbing the rung with both hands, Dick swung himself forward, back and then forward again so that his feet caught the rungs on the other side. Once that was accomplished, Dick let go with his hands, giving the terrorist the illusion that he had fallen. With surprise on his side, he swung up hard grabbing the door with his hands but having to let go with his feet. It was all or nothing and Dick put all his strength into a knock out punch to the terrorist closest to him. The genius on the other side started firing inside the helicopter. As Dick lunged at him, there was a spray of bullets and the pilot slumped forward. Dick realizing the helicopter was going down, jabbed the man hard in his face with his knee followed by a hard right hook. To Dick's horror the man fell backwards, falling out the door. Dick watched as he fell, relieved to see that they were now over Gotham Harbor. With the terrorists in the back taken care of, Dick worked his way to the pilot, only to see that the instruments had been extensively damaged by the gunfire. Checking quickly for a pulse and finding none, Dick left the pilot and threw the remaining, now waking up, terrorist out the door. Reaching for Bruce with care and speed Dick sprung out the helicopter door, making a huge splash, just before the helicopter impacted with the water.
Dick had no time to check for Bruce's pulse before the jump, but was rewarded with a loud gasp as the two hit the frigid waters. Clinging to him protectively, Dick managed to keep them both afloat. Reaching around Bruce to his wrist watchDick activated a distress signal that would go directly to the Batcave, Oracle and Tim's laptop computer. The watch had a built in homing device. Now if they can just get to us in time...
"Hey there Kemosabe. I know I was late but you didn't have to think up this elaborate plan to get even with me!" Dick tried to tease Bruce but it lost some of its effect through chattering teeth.
"Dick? Wha... what happened?"
"Not much... just some terrorist wannabee's tried to snatch you."
"Who? Who were they?"
"I don't know... they talked funny though, might have been from L.A."
"Figures..." Bruce gave Dick a half smile.
"Hey you wouldn't happen to have a tuna sandwich on you would you? I'm starved..."
"Starved huh? Are you stressed again?" Bruce teased by making a reference to the night before in Dick's apartment. Now that seemed like so long ago.
"Yeah, I might be... I get that way when I get shot..."
"Oh it's nothing Bruce, don't get upset... I just hope there's no sharks in this water..." Dick's chattering and shivering were becoming more pronounced and Bruce couldn't believe he hadn't noticed before how pale he was getting.
"Hang on son." Bruce making sure he had a good hold on Dick, started swimming for the part of the helicopter that wasn't totally submerged. The helicopter laid on its side completely underwater, while the other side stuck up several feet in the air.
"Can you keep yourself up for a minute?" With Dick's nod, Bruce proceeded to jump upwards several times until he caught the rung of the helicopter. Once he did, he pulled himself up, and then bending his knees over the rung, he held himself upside down while he grabbed Dick and pulled him up.
"Let me see what we've got here." Bruce reached for the bloody spot on Dick's otherwise sparkling white uniform shirt.
"Don't worry about that! Are you hurt big guy?" Dick's concerned eyes spoke volumes.
"I'm fine. You saved me-again. How many times is that I owe you now?"
"To... too many to count..." Dick chattered.
Bruce reached over and took Dick's pulse. He didn't like the reading. Reaching inside Dick's shirt he saw that the bullet had entered on the right side just below the rib cage. Fear swept over Bruce as he saw that Dick wasn't just bleeding, he was gushing blood. Searching but finding no exit wound, Bruce placed a hand over the injury and applied pressure. With his other arm he pulled Dick close, holding him tight, offering whatever warmth his body would give.
"I gotcha. You're going to be okay son."
"Sur... sur... sure could use that sandwich..."
"I'll get you one-soon. Promise."
Dick placed his head on Bruce's shoulder. It had simply gotten to heavy to hold up any longer. He felt everything blurring around the edges. He fought to stay conscience, afraid that if he didn't, he might never see Bruce again.
"I... I need to tell you something..." Dick lifted his head only to have Bruce gently push it back down.
"You don't have to say anything son. You just hang on. Help will be here soon. You're going to be okay." Please, Dear God, let him be okay...
"No, I have to... tell... tell you..."
Bruce found himself torn about whether or not to encourage Dick to talk. It was becoming increasingly difficult for him but on the other hand it might just keep him awake and fighting until help could arrive.
"Need... to say... sorry... soo sorry."
Bruce's reaction was surprise and it was noticeable in his voice.
"Sorry? What on earth for?"
"For being... well... a brat."
Bruce continued to brush his hand up and down Dick's arm in an effort to warm him.
"Don't be ridiculous! When I call you Brat, it's a term of affection."
"No... not... not what I mean..." Dick's voice was getting so soft that Bruce had to strain to hear him.
"You took me in. ME, a gypsy circus boy and... and you a wealthy socialite. I was never considered good enough by high society, but... but you didn't... didn't care what anybody said."
Bruce hugged Dick even tighter. "You are the best in my book kid, that's all that matters to me. So what is all this about you being sorry?"
"Tried, Bruce, tried... so hard." Dick suddenly stopped, groaning as he reached for his wound. He placed his hand on top of Bruce's as Bruce continued holding pressure to the injury.
"Nobody ever tried harder or worked harder than you Dick. You have nothing to be sorry for."
"NO! Lis... listen! Wanted to please you... wanted to make you proud."
"I am proud. I know I'm not very good at telling you but I couldn't be any prouder."
"Bruce... I... I..."
"Ssshh, I've got you." Bruce gently kissed Dick on his forehead. "Son, no Father has ever been happier with their son than me."
"I was jealous." Dick's shivering made the words almost incomprehensible.
"Wayne Enterprises... Blonde bimbo's... Batman... and finally Batgirl..."
"I don't understand."
"I was jealous of anyone or anything that kept me and you from being together. I know it sounds stu... stupid... but... but other kids, they only have their siblings taking away time from them and their parents... I had all of Gotham coming between us..."
"I, oh son, I never realized..."
"It got to where I HATED Batman, because Batman meant no time with my Dad-Bruce..."
Tears welled up in Bruce's eyes. How could he have been so blind he wondered? Running his fingers through Dick's wet curly locks, he thanked God again for the miracle his son was.
"Your Dad is a total fool..." Bruce whispered, trying desperately not to let Dick see his tears.
"My Dad's the best and I'll kick anybody's... You know what... if they say different!" Dick lifted his head and seeing the clouds in Bruce's eyes and the tears as they fell softly down his face, Dick reached and wiped them with his free hand. His other hand he kept firm on top of Bruce's hand, drawing comfort from it being there.
"Oh God, I love you so much kiddo... You... you hang on... you hear me?! You hang on... I'll find a way to make it up to you. Don't you dare leave me! Oh God please don't let him leave me..." Bruce's voice cracked as he choked on his emotions.
"I've got you baby."
"I... I... never meant to hurt you, never... meant... to hit you that... that night..." Dick sobbed; he couldn't seem to control it any longer.
"Ssshh, I know son, I know. It's my fault, I should have seen... I'm sorry Dick."
"NO! NOT your fault... mine... my fault..."
Dick's head dropped back down onto Bruce's shoulder, he was losing his fight, and he knew he had to say what was in his heart and quickly.
"I love... you." Dick managed to whisper just as everything went black.
"Officer Grayson is in critical but stable condition tonight at Wayne Memorial Hospital after rescuing his foster father yesterday, Billionaire Industrialist Bruce Wayne, from the terrorist organization calling themselves the Righteous Raiders. The Raiders are believed to be based in L.A. Police Commissioner James Gordon had this to say..."
"Yeah, Dick, you said they talked funny." Tim chided as he clicked off the television in the hospital room.
Dick returned his surrogate brother's smile as much as he was able.
"Okay, everybody out. I told you five minutes and that was twenty minutes ago." Dr. Leslie Thompkins glared at Dick's room full of visitors. Besides the usually clan she had to put up with whenever Dick was hurt, she now had added to the list several Titans and JLA members. All dressed down of course. Also there was one man, claiming to be a reporter. He struck her as very polite and very handsome. He watched Bruce intently, through his black-rimmed glasses, with blue eyes that rivaled Bruce's own.
"You heard me! OUT!" Leslie started physically grabbing arms and pulling them toward the door. Everyone quickly got the hint that Leslie meant business this time and Dick was bombarded with well wishes from his concerned friends. Babs blew her blue-eyed hero a kiss and Dick, despite his injury, blushed at his friends ribbing about it.
"I'll be back tomorrow, or sooner if you need me." Tim squeezed Dick's hand, his reluctance to go evident in his eyes.
"Thanks little bro."
The reporter took his turn at Dick's side as he too reached for Dick's hand and held it.
"I'm glad you're okay. You scared me."
"Thanks for coming. Uncle Clark..." Dick smiled and then almost laughed when he saw Bruce's expression.
"Anytime you need me Dick, just call." Clark smiled reassuringly at his surrogate nephew and then grinned outright as he passed a confused Bruce on his way out.
"Yeah. He's the closest thing you have to a brother or a best friend... so I nominated him."
Bruce moved in close to the bed, settling down in a chair, pulling it up to the railing.
"I said EVERYBODY OUT. That means you too Bruce."
Bruce never looked at Leslie, pretending not to hear her. Dick, alone in the room now with just Bruce and Leslie's iron wills tried to stifle a groan as the battle continued. What's a guy got to do to get some sleep around here?
"...Besides Bruce, have you looked out the window? The signal's lit."
"I'm not leaving." The growl in Bruce's voice forced both Leslie and Dick to look at him.
"He's my son... he... almost..." Fighting to regain control of his emotions, Bruce didn't trust himself to add much more. "I'm NOT leaving him."
Leslie walked around to the other side of the bed and kissed Bruce on his head. He smiled his thank you up at her.
"I'll be back in a few minutes to check on you Dick. Oh and Bruce I'll bring you a blanket."
"Can he have a tuna sandwich?"
Dick smiled at the thoughtful request.
"NO! However, I might be able to arrange some Jell-o."
"It'll have to do. Bring him a red one, he likes the red kind..."
Leslie left shaking her head at her boys.
"You... you don't have to stay Bruce. I'm okay."
"I know, but I want to, do you mind?"
"No, but what about the signal?"
"You said it yourself, he's the closest thing I have to a brother or best friend and he's going to fill in for me until you're better."
Dick's eyes lighted up with surprise.
"You mean you don't have to go?"
"I'm not leaving... and neither is she."
"Yeah, I brought you something from the house... she wanted to be here with you too."
Dick's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the gift offered. Bruce had brought Elinore, Dick's colorful stuffed elephant. One of the few things left from his days before his biological parents had been killed when he was a child. After their murders, he had clung to that stuffed animal for his sanity. Even after he had reached adulthood and moved out of Wayne Manor, he still couldn't bear to part with it. It had remained in his room at the Manor until now.
"ELINORE!" Dick reached for her with care.
"Bruce... I... I don't know what to say..."
"Don't thank me, it was Elinore's idea, I just went in your room to see if there was anything you might need and she jumped right into my pocket."
"Yeah." Dick laughed. "She was always good at jumping in your pocket and finding her way to me whenever I needed her. I don't think I ever thanked her for that." Dick's voice trembled and his eyes became glassy with unshed tears.
"She knows son. She knows..."
Alfred choked back tears as he walked quietly away from the hospital room door. His eavesdropping had proved to be most rewarding indeed. Alfred left the pair alone, confident that was exactly how they needed to be.
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