Disclaimer and credits can be found in the Notes or by emailing me. Part five turned out long, so it has been separated into three subparts for easier reading.

BIG thanks to Chicago for beta-ing and for putting up with me when I was kicking and screaming about this part. Hey partner--what does blue mean? :)

Coming Home, 5a
by Smitty

Filb blinked. This was not possible. He scrubbed his fists across his eyelids and looked at the desks pushed head-to-head in the middle of the squadroom. His desk was right—a little paper, a little clutter, picture of Marina, taken the summer before she died, picture of his niece and her brats out in Montana, his stapler, his paper clip jar and his pencil cup. It was the other desk that worried him.

Dick Grayson was already in his chair, the surrounding area neat as a pin. He was poring over some papers.

"Morning," he mumbled distractedly, his eyes never leaving the documents. "Are we off traffic duty, yet?"

"Far's I know," Filb told him carefully. He checked the clock again. Quarter of. Could it be that Officer Dick Grayson was actually... early? No. "M'I late?" Filb finally asked his suddenly studious partner.

"No, why?" Dick asked, looking up at last and glancing at the clock.

"'Cause you ain't flying in two seconds 'fore Amy shows up at your desk," Filb reminded him. Grayson was always on time—but he was never early.

"Hey, if you had a wife that looked like mine—" Dick started. Then he remembered the photo of Marina sitting less than a foot away from him and stopped. "Oh, man, I'm—"

"Nah." Filb waved a beefy hand to cut off Dick's words. "I was late a few times myself, back in my day. Heh."

The two men were quiet for a moment, then Dick broke the silence with, "Hey. Babs said to tell you that she's making ribs for dinner and she's setting a place for you."

"Guess I don't have much choice but t'show up," Filb grumbled, secretly touched that the Graysons included him in their family.

"Not unless you want to tangle with Babs," Dick warned.

Filb shook his head decisively. "Not no way, not no how," he declared. "I'll just suck it up and force down them ribs." He took his seat opposite Dick. "So what's in that pile of dead tree that's more interesting than your gorgeous wife?"

"It's the gun list. Somewhere in here, I have the make, model and owner of the gun that killed Scorch."

"Don't give them names, Grayson," Filb said tiredly. It was something he'd told his younger partner time and again with the exactly same results every time—none. "And," he couldn’t help adding. "Amy's gonna have my hide for letting you be stupid."

"He's Spud's brother," Dick responded, never lifting his eyes from the paper. "And I'll take care of Amy."

Filb eyed him and sighed.

"Where we going first?"

"Where did you get that cable?"

Spud was calmly tying up a bottle of dish soap with a printer cord. The Evil Spoon was leaning against the couch near his knee. The horse sat in his lap.

"The big room with the heavy door," he told Babs, looking up at her.

Babs tried not to sigh too audibly. Apparently Dick hadn't set the locking device when he came in the night before.

"All right, sweetie," she told him. "But that's my special work room, ok? It's probably going to be locked up most of the time."

Spud shrugged. "Ok."

Babs sighed and watched him play. "I'm going to take a shower and then we're going back into Gotham."

"Again?" Spud's nose wrinkled. "Do we have to buy more stupid clothes?"

"No, we're going to see an old friend of ours, Dr. Thompkins. She's a very nice lady and I think you'll like her."

"A doctor?"

Babs froze. She hadn't thought of his reaction to being dragged to a doctor. What if he refused? Would she have to call Dick? Cancel the appointment? Surely she couldn't drag him along herself? Maybe once upon a time, but now...

Spud shrugged. "You guys are lousy parents. You're supposed to take me the second you get me so you can see if I'm diseased or something."

Babs almost shouted with relieved laughter. "No, Spud," she grinned instead. "We don't think you're diseased, we just want to know what we're supposed to feed you."

The reference was lost on Spud, but his eyes lit up. "I liked the noodle stuff. You can feed me that."

"Oh yeah?" Babs asked, recalling the mess he'd made with lasagna. "In that case, you're gonna love what we're having tonight."

"Amy is going to—" Filb started with an almost gleeful undertone to his rough voice as he trudged up the stairs of a dilapidated brownstone.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Dick agreed, leaning across him to punch the doorbell. "But if you don't tell her—"

"Yes?" A small woman with limp hair and a thin, haggard face was peering out at them from the crack the chain allowed her.

"Blüdhaven PD, ma'am," Dick said crisply. "We have a few questions."

"I—" Her eyes filled with tears. "Please come in. I'll get my husband." She shut the door and Dick could hear the clink of the chain being unlatched. The door opened again, swinging inward to show a drab, shabby living room with a few small bouquets of flowers grouped on a table. Dick crossed the room to them and looked at the card. Sympathy arrangements.

"You aren't the guys who were here yesterday."

Dick dropped the card and turned to see the meek little woman leading a tall, beefy man into the room. He wore a white undershirt and ratty blue jeans and sported a bushy mustache on a weathered face.

"I'm Officer Grayson," he introduced himself. "This is Officer Filbert." Filb nodded to the man. "We wanted to ask you a few questions."

"Fellas here yesterday asked us questions," the man rumbled. "You want more?"

"Just a few," Dick assured him.

"Siddown," the man told him, heaving himself onto the couch. The woman sat next to him, folding her hands in her lap.

"I wanted to offer my condolences about your son," Dick started. The little woman started to weep. The beefy man put an arm around her. "Uh, do you mind if I ask a few questions about him?"

"Get it over with," the man commanded.

"Had he been acting up before this week?"

"Acting up?" The man looked at Dick as if he were crazy. "Kid ignored me, talked back to his mother, was never home. He was out of control. I told the last bunch of cops that. None of those kids he ran with were any good. Half of them didn't have homes anyway."

"I see. Did you try to enforce discipline?"

"What is this? My kid gets... you guys are gonna come give me shit about my parenting skills?"

"We're just trying to find some motivation, maybe some common link that would give us a little more information," Dick said soothingly.

"I'll give you a link. Damn kid gangs. We work for a living, y'know? Kids run off when we leave, get themselves in trouble. Kids are dumb and you guys just ignore them 'til they shoot themselves up," the man blustered. He removed his arm from his wife' shoulders and leaned forward, hands on his knees. His wife ran to the kitchen.

Dick tried not to watch her retreat. "I'm mostly concerned about where he got the gun. The one we think he was using was unregistered and the serial number was rubbed out—"

"The last guys asked that, too," the man snarled. "I told them and I'm telling you. I don't know where he got the gun. I got a gun and it's locked up next to my bed. I keep it loaded and I keep the key on me.It's still there. The other guys checked. You wanna check, too?"

"No, sir," Dick replied, trying to keep his frustration in check. "That'll be all."

"Good," the man spat back.

The woman reappeared to lead Dick and Filb to the door as the husband stormed back to the bedrooms. Her face was tearstained but composed. Dick wanted to offer her something; some kind of hope, but he was coming up empty. So he just wished her a good day and followed Filb down to where they had parked the cruiser.

"I feel like crud," Filb announced when they'd settled in the car and closed the doors. "You?"

Dick leaned his head briefly against the headrest, then reached out and started the car. "I'll feel like crud later," he said. "We've got work to do."

Spud looked around the waiting room. In the corner, a pregnant woman with a small boy beside her looked at her watch. A girl slightly older than Spud with a runny nose curled miserably in a seat, all alone. A boy with his arm hanging at an angle was pacing. There was a pile of battered magazines and books in a basket and a few durable plastic toys under a chair. Spud stuck close to Babs, who seemed quite comfortable there.

"Don't you guys have rich-people doctors or something?" he asked, hunkering down next to her chair.

Babs smiled at his perception of the Graysons' lifestyle.

"Dr. Leslie is the best," she told him quietly. "And she's an old family friend."

Spud cast a look at the pregnant woman.

"I bet her kids don't have a daddy," he stated.

"Spud, hush! You shouldn't go around saying things like that!"

Across the room, the woman stood up and hustled her boy into the bathroom.

"Spud!" Barbara cried in embarrassment. "Look at what—" She trailed off when she realized Spud's attention was elsewhere.

The far door had opened and Dr. Leslie Thompkins emerged in her white coat, stethoscope slung around her neck. She surveyed the room quickly.

"Jeff, again?" she asked the boy with the broken arm.At his nod, she continued, "When that heals, I'm going to take you out and teach you how to catch yourself *correctly* when you fall while rollerblading."

"You have rollerblades, Doc?" Jeff asked excitedly.

"Of course I do. Had to see what all the fuss was about. Now, run along with Carol and get me some pictures of that arm, ok?" Jeff obediently followed the nurse who was waiting to take X-rays of his broken limb. "Barbara, darling, it's wonderful to see you again. And this must be Spud?"

"Sure is," Babs smiled, nudging Spud forward.

Stubborn for the sake of being stubborn, Spud resisted, preferring instead to hang near the back of Babs' chair.

"Spud, I'm Doctor Leslie, and if you don't mind holding on for a few minutes," Leslie peeked over at Barbara as she thought of their earlier phone conversation. "I'll tell you all about Bruce, Dick's second daddy, when you come in, ok?"

"He's not a real daddy," Spud informed her, face darkening.

Leslie shrugged. "Try telling that to them," she suggested. "In fact," she continued, her eyes sliding to the door, "speak of the devil..."

"Was someone talking about me?" Bruce Wayne asked with his best heartbreaker smile.

Barbara wished for a hole to crawl into.

Spud just looked at him curiously.

Leslie smiled.

"Barbara!" Bruce's direct stare let her know that her attempt to blend into the wall had failed. Miserably. "What are you—oh." Bruce cut himself off when he saw Spud peering out from behind Babs' chair.

"Are these my supplies?" Leslie asked, swooping down on the package in Bruce's arms.

"Yes," Bruce said, not taking his eyes from Spud's freckled face. "Alfred said—" Suddenly his gaze was pinning Leslie to the wall. "Alfred said that you needed them before lunch and that I should drop them by around eleven."

Leslie beamed.

"That Alfred," she said, shaking her head. "He's certainly dependable, isn't he?"

"That's one word for it."

Leslie smiled brightly at her glowering surrogate son. "You ready to come on back, Spud?" she asked cheerfully, taking the boy by the hand. The boy followed her reluctantly, his eyes fixed on Bruce as Leslie steered him toward the exam room.

Bruce's eyes tracked them through the doorway as he waited for the door to close. Once they were gone, he fixed his glare on Barbara.

"You want to tell me what's going on here?" Bruce asked Barbara evenly.

Barbara sighed. "Honestly?" she said, peering up at him, "you're asking the wrong person."

"I take it this..." Bruce's eyes followed the sniffly little girl as she was being led away by a sympathetic nurse, "boy... has been living with you and Dick?"

"Don't say it like he's a dog we dragged off the street," Barbara snapped.

Bruce blinked, slightly taken aback, but didn't apologize. "How long?" he asked instead.

"Three days."

"Three days? You've been housing a... what is he? Six years old? You've been housing this boy for three days and no one saw fit to tell me?"

"He's eight, and someone must have seen fit to tell you," Barbara snapped back, "since you're here right now!"

"You know as well as I do that Alfred and Leslie set this up," Bruce growled.

"How did Alfred—oh no."

"Your partner, no doubt."

"The one you're not sleeping with?"

The corner of Bruce's mouth quirked upward.

"Yeah, that one."

Barbara offered a conciliatory smile of her own.

Bruce sat down in the seat next to her chair. He slumped marginally against the wall and tilted his head back.

"This was Dick's idea, wasn't it?" he sighed.

"Says the man who brought home an orphaned circus boy to his *butler*," Babs chided back.

Bruce shrugged. "I needed a sidekick," he muttered under his breath. Hearing those words issue from his lips made Bruce sit up and fasten his gaze on Barbara. "Is that what he thinks he's doing?" he asked. "Picking up a sidekick? In *that* scrawny kid?"

"No, Bruce," Babs interrupted, fixing him with a stare of her own. "He thinks he's picking up a son."

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