Pairing: Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson
Fandom: DC Comics
Theme: 2. news; letter
Disclaimer: Characters and other such trademarked things still aren't mine.
Author's Note: Based on Dick's letter to Bruce from 'Gotham Knights #14,' found transcribed here.
"Yeah. I can only be late so many times before they start re-thinking whether or not they need me on the force. And, as much as it wounds my pride to say so, I think you've got things under control and will survive without me."
"You'll be quitting soon, right?"
"No, no need to flatter me to spare my feelings. I know when I'm not needed."
The grin Dick flashed Bruce was teasing, but Bruce also knew that the younger man was avoiding the subject. And he let him. For now.
There was a soft pat on Bruce's shoulder, almost unfelt through the body armor, followed by the sounds of Dick gathering his things. Uniform swiftly folded and tucked into the knapsack he brought along then weighted down and covered by a few books before the whole thing was swung onto his back.
"Any complaints if I swing by and check up on you in a couple days?" Dick asked as he moved to stand astride his motorcycle.
"Only that I don't need to be checked up on."
"Hate to break it to you, but sometimes people do these things for their own reassurance." One more grin before the helmet hid Dick's face. "Talk to you in a couple days."
Then there was the sound of the motorcycle's engine roaring to life and peeling out of the cave, fast but careful not to lay any rubber on the floors.
And finally, silence.
The latter continued, only broken up by the sound of fingers moving over a keyboard smoothly and expediently. It was only when Bruce's fingers faltered that he stopped for the evening. Mistakes weren't acceptable and that was his sign that his quality of work would begin to go down.
Which meant it was time for him to go upstairs.
It wasn't until he had stood and turned around that he noticed the envelope on the ground. Bruce's first assumption was that Dick had just accidentally dropped something. His phone bill, maybe. But upon picking it up he saw that there wasn't an address on the front, return or otherwise. Just one word in Dick unmistakable script.
So, maybe Dick hadn't dropped it on accident. Careful not to crease it as he shrugged on a robe, he started upstairs, curiosity having plucked the envelope open before he reached the top step.
By the time he reached his bedroom he'd read through it.
The curtains were already drawn in his room and the lights out. Usually he simply made his way through the dark and dropped into bed, but today he flicked the light switch as he passed, filling the room with the unfamiliar sensation of light.
He didn't need to reread the letter. He could probably quote it word for word after the one reading he'd given it. None the less, he read it again. And again.
As he went through it he could practically hear Dick's voice in his ear. Some parts screamed at him from the page ("...I don't think you ever really GOT how much it HURT me..."), while others were hardly whispers, but no less potent ("...I don't want you to WONDER about me. I want you to be SURE...
And then there were the guilty admissions he was never meant to read...
Dick had long since earned his right to say what he wanted to Bruce, to speak to him without fear, but he could see why he was never meant to read the letter he held.
The accusations in it were... exact. He never really understood how much choosing Azrael to take his place had hurt Dick. He knew, but knowledge and understanding were two entirely different things.
The implications were pretty dead on as well.
Bruce sighed and turned the light out once more before lying back in bed. An arm reached out blindly and set the letter and envelope on the bedside table. His head was still swimming with the letter's contents and every time he tried to think, it just resulted in one line or another floating to the forefront of his mind.
...You're not an easy man to be close to...
...I can't BELIEVE you'd have the GALL...
...I don't think I'm ready to see your face if I TOLD you that...
...What AM I, Bruce?...
Sleep came difficultly for the next few days.
Batman rationalized it with stress and being over-worked.
Bruce knew better.
It was Nightwing, not Dick, who drove into the cave four days later. Though Batman didn't know why he made the distinction. Except for clothing there was none, unlike the differences between Batman and Bruce.
"So what's going on?" Dick asked as he pulled off his helmet, the echoes of the motorcycle's engine not even given a chance to die out before he jumped into conversation.
"Babs said you've been acting kinda weird since I popped in. Is it about the force? Because, I swear, I'm gonna quit. Just not yet. There’re some things I have to do before I'll feel right just up and quitting. Things I need to follow through with. I know you can understand that, even if you can't understand why I joined in the first place. So just trust me and give me some time, all right?"
The letter was back in its envelope as Batman held it out to Dick.
It was rather curious to watch the play of emotions over his face at the sight of it. Confusion dawning on understanding, then shock and mortification, and finally a faint glimmer of hope. Amazing, really, that in spite of all the turmoil no doubt churning in the younger man's head, he was still able to be hopeful.
"You didn't read it, did you?"
"You did," he repeated. Not a question, not even accusing. It was just the only thing he could think of to do.
A deep breath.
"Look... I don't expect you to understand, but it was kind of hectic when I wrote that. You'd just gotten over your amnesia and there were those files on the computer about me, about all of us, and... I mostly wrote it to sort out my own thoughts about all that. I know I didn't paint you in a very good light, but like I said, there was so much on my mind I had to just get some of it out so I could just--"
"You were wrong."
That caused Dick to stop, naturally, which was the desired effect. As it was, he was just rambling and trying to explain things that didn't need to be explained.
"You were wrong."
A soft rustle of paper as Batman opened the envelope that Nightwing had never taken from him and pulled the letter out and recited in his most neutral, unaffected voice.
"'As much as you may care about any of us, any of THIS, I know you'd trade it all in a heartbeat if you could have your parents back.'"
"I was wrong about that?"
He nodded once before folding the letter once more and tucking it in its envelope. This time Nightwing took it when it was held out to him, although he just laid it down on the nearest flat surface absentmindedly.
Looking somewhat dazed and confused, Dick simply said, "Explain."
"You said that I would--"
Stepping forward, Dick reached up and pushed Batman's cowl back with an ease and care that could only come from wearing it. ("...The only thing I hate more than WEARING that cape and cowl...")
"Bruce." He wasn't addressing him so much as requesting him. Bruce, not Batman.
Although it was unnecessary, a gauntlet clad hand raised and touched the edge of Nightwing's mask before gently tugging it off.
An eye for an eye.
"I wouldn't trade it. I'm not saying I wouldn't consider it, that I wouldn't want it. I do want it. But I wouldn't trade it."
"It doesn't just affect me anymore. For better or worse, it's not just me anymore."
For a few moments there was silence and Bruce imagined he could actually hear his words sinking in. Then, laughter.
"Very sweet of you, Bruce," said Dick as he moved forward, first seemingly intent upon taking his mask from the other man, but then stopping and just letting himself lean against Bruce. He was strong and warm, even through both suits and sets of body armor. And, what was more, he was lying. Which was nice, even though he didn't seem quite at ease with the way Dick was leaning against him. "You don't have to lie to spare my feelings."
"I'm not--" Dick's lips muffled the last bit of the statement as he brushed them over Bruce's lightly, which the man seemed less keen on than the leaning.
"If I remember, I said you're not an easy man to be close to. But I also said I wouldn't give it up for anything. So you don't need to lie."
Batman not lying... Now there was a thought bizarre enough to make the corner of Bruce's quirk upwards, nearly imperceptible as he repeated, "You were wrong."
This time Dick's response was a light smack upside the head. He could have easily stopped it but the look of surprise on Dick's face when his lazy blow connected was more satisfying. Until he did it again.
"Upstairs." Bruce raised an eyebrow at the command. "I know your schedule. You've already finished your rounds. Tomorrow's my day off in the 'Haven. If I have to spell things out any more clearly, I might as well just leave."
"Figured that'd do it."
With a grin Dick nabbed his mask from Bruce's hand.
Crossposted at favyan