Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Alfred
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark try and adjust to being lovers as well as Master and slave, on a warm spring night a new member of the Wayne Household is added: a little boy whom Bruce sadly identifies with. Dick Grayson further pushes Bruce along the path of Abolitionism as the child brings further Light into the Manor. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: The Little Bird gets his plumage.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): February 15, 2008
Date Of Posting: November 18, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 950
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Than a graceful bird’s bright plumage."
Dr. Henry McTavish
"The Complete Handbook Of Birds"
“It’s time to design a costume, Dick.”
Dick jumped off the balance beam and nodded eagerly. “Let me, Bruce!”
“Very well. Alfred can help you in the actual making. I look forward to what you come up with.”
Dick nodded and ran off to find paper and stylus and start designing.
Bruce slowly clenched and unclenched his fist. He had wanted to give Dick more weeks of training, but he was going to have to accelerate things.
The net was slowly beginning to tighten around Tony Zucco. If Dick was to be part of the collar, he needed to be up and running as the Batman’s partner.
He still had no idea about a name. Well, maybe the costume would help.
Bruce wandered to the backyard, Clark finishing a bag of leaves. He looked up at Bruce with a smile.
Bruce stood close to him, arms folded. “I told Dick to design a costume.”
“Ah.” Clark leaned on his rake. “Isn’t it a little soon?”
“Zucco could be caught soon. Jim’s got a good case building against him.” Bruce stared out at the ocean. “I want Dick in on it.”
Clark nodded. “I understand.” He sighed. “I’m glad you’re going to have a partner, Bruce. I just…worry about him.”
“I know.” Bruce looked at Clark with a small smile. “I do, too.”
“I worry about you, too.”
Bruce gathered Clark into an embrace.
Dick kept his costume design a secret. He and Alfred were co-conspirators, whispering and laughing together. Bruce was amused, glad to see that Dick was so enthusiastic.
He understood how important it was for Dick to focus on this. His grief was still fresh, even six months old.
The little boy was coping better than he ever had, his natural brightness overcoming his grief, but Bruce knew it was still there. It could never leave him completely, but a crimefighting career would help very much.
Bruce watched Dick somersault across the lawn, sparkling in the sun. He felt an overwhelming rush of love.
“Hey!” he called.
“Hey!” Dick somersaulted over. He laughed as a cardinal flew over their heads, bright-red in the sun. “I miss our robins.”
Bruce glanced at the abandoned nest over the kitchen door. “They’ll be back in the spring.” He lifted Dick’s chin, incredibly happy at the shining face. “Alfred says you’re ready to show us your costume tonight?”
Dick nodded eagerly. His whole body vibrated with excitement.
Laughing, Bruce pulled him into a hug. Why was it so easy to lavish affection on this child? He kissed the top of Dick’s head.
When they broke apart, Bruce winked at Dick. “Go help Alfred with lunch.”
Bruce watched Dick go with affection.
He was looking forward to seeing Dick’s costume. He was going to enjoy having a little shadow by his side.
Dick’s smile grew even brighter. “Exactly!”
He was holding up a gaudy red-green-and-yellow costume.
Bruce and Clark were standing in front of Dick, whose pride was obvious. Alfred stood a little further back, hands clasped behind his back, a slight smile on his face.
The bats squeaked overhead, a gust of air blowing through the Cave. Bruce was…nonplussed. This…costume…was not what he had expected.
“Um, Dick, do you think the colors are…practical?”
“Oh, yes.” Dick ran his hand down the red tunic. “It’s all part of the show.”
“How so?” asked Clark.
“Well, the first rule of the show is distraction. You glitter, you sparkle, you dazzle the audience so they don’t see the trick. I didn’t put sequins on this, but the colors will work. Oh, I did put spangles on the pants.”
“For the show?” Clark asked, exchanging amused looks with Alfred.
Dick nodded. “See, Bruce? With this, I can go in and razzle-dazzle the crooks, and then you melt out of the shadows and scare them silly.”
Bruce’s eyebrows raised. “Well, maybe…”
“And see? I designed the collar of my cape to hide my slave collar.” Dick held out the yellow cape for Bruce’s inspection. “And the gloves will hide my slave bracelets.”
Bruce was still dubious, however. Pixie boots?
“Well, I like the colors,” Clark declared. “They fit you,” He smiled at Dick, who smiled back shyly. Clark touched the tunic, laughing. “It’s like a robin’s redbreast.”
Dick’s eyes lit up. “Yes! Robin!” He hugged Clark fiercely. “That’s my name!”
“Robin, eh?” Bruce asked in amusement.
“Yeah, just like our robins! ‘Sides, it’s better than Batboy!”
They all laughed, then Bruce said, “It fits, but, Dick, this costume can’t possibly blend into the shadows.”
Dick grinned. “You’d be surprised.” His smile trembled slightly as he continued, “Mom and Dad…always said…to dazzle the audience, but to melt into the shadows so that the burst into the spotlight would be even greater. Mom...made all our costumes.”
Bruce’s heart nearly broke as he realized how much this costume held associations for Dick of his parents and the circus. He didn’t have the heart to forbid it.
He gave persuasion once last try.
“You’re too much of a target in this.”
“I move fast, Bruce.”
Bruce sighed. Smart kid.
“All right, we’ll see how it works out.”
Dick’s grin grew more incandescent. “Cool!”
Clark laughed. “You’re going to keep Bruce on his toes, my friend.” He ruffled Dick’s hair, the boy joining in his laughter.
Bruce felt that laughter warm him.
It was time for Robin to make his debut.