Pairings/Characters: Wee!Dick, Bruce, Alfred
Series Notes: While I love my slashy boys, I do love to write them early in their careers, when Dick is just Wee!Dick and even more adorable, if that’s possible! :) Also, Bruce teaches Dick a lot, but learns some things himself. Stories of their first year together will be gathered under this series title. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Angst, Drama
Summary: A still-grieving Dick feels insecure during his early days at the Manor.
Date Of Completion: January 18, 2011
Date Of Posting: January 18, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1875
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Happy Birthday, northern_star! :) Character: Wee!Dick. Prompt: I would totally love something that centered around wee!Dick - perhaps about something he thinks he did wrong, but really hasn't.
Dick rattled around the Manor, still a little intimidated by the sheer size of the place. He could have put a dozen of the trailers he’d shared with his parents in this place. Probably two or three dozen!
He sighed. He still felt all jumbled inside. When the…when it happened two weeks ago at the circus, he’d felt mostly numb, but he didn’t think that was why he hadn’t felt afraid when Batman had spoken to him and assured him that he had a friend who would take him in.
And Bruce Wayne had made good on that promise, taking him home that very night. Dick learned later that the man’s money and influence had allowed him to do so instead of having Dick stuck in a Social Services foster home until the paperwork got straightened out. He was still dressed in his circus costume when Bruce had brought him home, Alfred greeting them at the door and giving him hot chocolate and gingerbread before he went to bed. Alfred wasn’t a touchy-feely type of person, but Dick felt that he cared from the first moment they’d met.
And when he had awakened screaming with his first nightmare, Bruce had been there to soothe him, understanding what he was suffering. The more Dick had learned about what had happened to Bruce’s parents, the more connected to him he felt.
Still, he was a little nervous about things. He was a circus brat! Why would a big-shot businessman want him around? He was the Prince of Gotham! Sure, their parents’ deaths were similar: both killed right in front of their eyes. Dick shuddered. He wished that he could forget the sight of his parents falling. He was sure that Bruce wished that he could forget the sight of his parents being shot.
He would have loved to explore the huge Manor but wasn’t sure if that would be appreciated. Both Bruce and Alfred seemed to put a lot of stock in being ‘proper’, and Dick knew that his background was probably the farthest thing from ‘proper’ that you could get.
He wished that Bruce wasn’t so busy. He was in the city during the day and out doing who-knew-what at night. Playboy stuff, probably. Dick had barely seen him the last three days.
He wandered into the library, pausing before the portrait of Bruce and his parents.
Bruce was about eight years old (his age), so this had probably been painted just before the tragedy. He was dressed in a dark-blue sweater over a white shirt, and dark-gray pants. His mother sat in the overstuffed chair in a cobalt-blue dress with a string of pearls, her arm around Bruce’s shoulders, and standing behind the chair, resting his arms on the back, was Bruce’s father, dressed in a tweed jacket and holding a pipe as he smiled. Everyone was smiling, a happy family, at least for awhile longer.
Dick wished that he could shake off his sadness. He liked to be happy and upbeat, but he wasn’t sure if he ever could be again. He hadn’t cried since that night, and even then, the tears hadn’t been a lot, because he’d felt frozen inside. Even at the funeral, he’d had wet eyes and a throat all swollen up, but he hadn’t really cried.
He moved forward to get a closer look at the portrait when he brushed up against the Ming vase set on a small table underneath the painting. With a sense of horror he watched it wobble and he grabbed for it, but the vase eluded his grasp and crashed on the floor, shattering into a million pieces.
Panic set in. Bruce will send me away! He ran out of the library and into the study, opening the French doors and running outside into the warm spring air.
He passed through the formal gardens, barely registering the sweet perfume of the flowers and the nearby sound of the ocean beyond the seawall. His sneakered feet flew over the soft earth and pebbled walkways, and he burst forth from the gardens to open ground.
He followed the seawall until he reached the very end at the edge of the woods. He scrambled up onto the wall and sat Indian-style, arms around his stomach as he rocked lightly back-and-forth.
He could hear the seagulls out over the ocean, and he felt very, very small. The Manor loomed large behind him. He wished that he could hear the calliope and the shouts of the carnies as they lured people in on the midway, and smell peanuts and fried dough and hot dogs on the grill. He wished that he could wake up in his own small bed instead of the enormous bed he had now, and hear his mother and father as they lingered over breakfast before practice. And he was terrified that Bruce and Alfred were going to send him away, because why would they want a circus brat who didn’t know enough not to break valuable stuff?
He watched a gull wheel over the sea, its piercing cry mournful and lonely, or at least that’s the way it sounded to Dick. His lip trembled as he thought of being sent to some strange house. He really liked Bruce and Alfred! The Manor had all sorts of interesting possibilities, and he’d have all summer to explore it before starting school in the fall. He wanted to stay, but he was so afraid…
Tears began to fall, his throat closing up as his chest constricted. What had been bottled up for two weeks broke open…
Bruce came home, sighing as he put his briefcase on the hall table. It had been a bear of a day, wrestling with the Board and trying to work out a knotty technical problem with Lucius. He still had patrol tonight, but maybe he could grab a quick nap before dinner.
“Alfred, where’s Dick?”
The butler appeared at the entrance to the kitchen, wiping a teacup with a dishtowel. “I’m not sure, sir.”
“Dick!” Bruce called, but there was no answer. That wasn’t unusual. He could be upstairs in his room. “I’ll check upstairs.”
Alfred nodded and returned to the kitchen.
Bruce took the stairs two at a time, buoyed by the prospect of seeing Dick. He’d grown accustomed to having him around even in this short time.
He checked Dick’s room but found it empty. A quick check of other rooms on this floor didn’t reveal the boy. Well, no cause for alarm. Dick liked to wander around the house. He’d show up once it was the dinner hour.
Bruce went downstairs and entered the library, going through the mail on his desk blotter. He glanced down and saw the shards of the ceramic vase. He came out from behind the desk and crouched down, realizing that the vase was a lost cause.
The butler appeared in less than a minute. “Yes, sir?”
“What happened with the vase?”
Alfred looked surprised as he entered the room. “I don’t know, sir.” Realization dawned. “Master Dick?”
Bruce nodded, straightening up. “We’d better look for him.” Alfred nodded.
As both men moved out into the hall, Bruce frowned. “Do you feel a draft?”
“I most certainly do.”
Bruce looked into the study. “The French doors are open.” He strode over to the doors, grasping the knobs. “I think I know where Dick went.”
“Go see to him, sir.”
Bruce nodded, heading outside as Alfred closed the doors behind him.
A warm breeze ruffled his hair as he walked through the gardens, a bee buzzing around a yellow rose while a robin trilled from an arborvitae bush. He left the gardens and headed for the seawall across the meticulously-kept lawn, his gaze on the brightly-colored figure far down the wall.
He smiled slightly. Even in mourning, Dick unconsciously chose bright colors to wear. He was wearing dark-blue pants and a yellow shirt, and probably would have worn a green or red sweater if the season was autumn instead of spring. It was one of the things that Bruce already knew about Dick in two short weeks.
He slowed his pace as he approached the huddled figure on the wall. He felt a little nervous about the boy sitting on that wall, with such a sheer drop to the rocks below, but Dick was a trained acrobat. He had no fear of heights and routinely sat or stood places where other children would avoid.
He was concerned that Dick had run rather than come to him or Alfred with a confession of his accident. He was certain that it hadn’t been malicious. He didn’t think the boy had a malicious bone in his body. He might not be intuitive about non-criminals, often missing clues right in front of his face about motivations, but he knew that Dick was a good person. He knew that deep in his bones.
And despite the lack of perception that Alfred often accused him of (not without good reason, he was honest enough to admit), he knew that there something more going on here than a broken vase.
Dick’s shoulders were shaking, his head buried in his arms as his body language screamed that he was trying to curl up and make himself invisible to the world. Bruce understood that very well. Swallowing a sharp pain, he hesitantly reached out his hand and lightly touched Dick’s shoulder.
The boy stiffened for a second, then looked up, his face ravaged with tears. Bruce’s heart went out to him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to break that vase! Please don’t send me away!”
Shocked, Bruce asked, “Why would you think I’d send you away?”
Dick scrubbed his eyes with a small fist. “I broke a…a hair…heirloom, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but, accidents happen.” He gently squeezed Dick’s shoulder. “Why did you run? Why didn’t you come and tell Alfred or me?”
Dick sniffled. “I…I guess I got afraid that you’d send me away.”
“What makes you think that, Dick?”
“I…” He sniffled again. “Do you really want me around, Bruce?”
Still puzzled, Bruce asked, “Why wouldn’t I want you around?”
“I’m just a circus kid. And I never really see you.”
Bruce felt a pang of regret. He had been so busy with Wayne Enterprises and the Foundation, not to mention his other ‘job’. He hadn’t seen Dick in days.
“I’m sorry, I guess I’m just not used to having a boy around the place.”
Dick smiled briefly, then looked out at the ocean as Bruce sat down next to him on the wall. For several minutes they watched the seagulls wheel and screech, diving down for fish. Off in the distance a yellow-and-white striped sailboat bobbed on the water, and the lighthouse down on the jetty gleamed in the sun.
“Does it ever go away?” Dick asked so softly that Bruce almost missed it. He knew right away what Dick was asking.
“Not completely, but it will get better.”
Dick nodded slowly. Pain and grief had no timetable, but if Bruce said that it would get better, he would know.
Bruce put his arm around Dick’s shoulders as they watched the sailboat on the sparkling sea.
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