Dick slowly opened his eyes at the light and noise coming from the foot of his bed and groaned, “What are you doing, Timmy? It’s pretty late. You should be sleeping by now.” In all the years he’d known Tim, Dick had never seen his little brother have trouble falling asleep. Their mom had considered it a miracle after all the trouble Dick had put them through as a toddler.
Not turning away from the tv screen and face level with the controler almost too big for his hands, Tim explained, “No one knows how long we stay up. We don’t ever have to go to sleep.”
Still mostly asleep, Dick took a minute to understand what his brother meant before countering, “You don’t want to be tired later, Tim.”
“I won’t be tired, Dick.” Tim said easily.
“How could you know that?” Dick asked annoyed. “You’ve never stayed up this late before”
“I don’t care, Dick,” Tim said dismissively. “I like this game and I’m going to keep playing.”
Dick knew he wouldn’t be able to get much sleep with the noise and against his better judgement he slid down beside his little brother. He took a minute to watch Tim die a few times before saying, “I’ll go tell, Bruce. He won’t like that you’re still awake.”
Sharply turning to look at Dick, Tim whispered, “You can’t do that, Dick.”
“If you can stay up, I can go across the hall and talk to B,” Dick said smugly. He knew Tim would hate making Bruce angry, especially when they didn’t even know what he was like when he was upset. So far they hadn’t had any trouble and Tim would hate for their relationship to fall apart now. Just to push the point home Dick stood up and added, “He might be a little upset with you ruining his sleep”
“Please don’t tell him, Dick,” Tim begged frantically. He’d lost all focus on the video and instead pressed onto Dick hoping to get some compassion out of his older brother. “I don’t want him to hate me and be upset. Please, Dick, don’t tell him anything. I’ll do anything.”
“Are you sure, Tim?” Dick said just to be contrary. “Maybe he won’t be upset. He’s famous and famous people are always doing something. He probably never goes to sleep.”
“Please don’t say anything, Dick. I promise I’ll do anything.” Tim reiterated, “I promise I’ll do anything.”
A part of Dick felt proud at having his plan work out so perfectly even when he was mostly asleep, but another part felt guilty at making Tim panic. As a solution he offered, “If you go to sleep right now I promise I won’t tell Bruce.”
“No problem, Dick,” Tim said easily. He rushed to the television to turn off the game and as the room was shrouded in darkness Dick just could make out Tim’s figure as he tried to walk to his side of the bed. Dick could imagine that staring at the screen so long meant it would take his eyes some time to adjust and the many times Tim almost fell over in the short walk only made it more obvious. Soon enough Tim was settled in the bed and seeing Dick staring at him he asked, “Is there anything else you want me to do, Dick. I’ll do anything you want if you don’t tell.”
Smiling at the determination, Dick crawled in beside Tim and considered his options. He decided the only thing he cared about right now was knowing, “Why did you really want to stay up? I know it wasn’t because you liked the game, you weren’t even winning.”
Desperately wanting to recant his previous promise, Tim mumbled, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You made a promise,” Dick stressed. “If you don’t keep yours I don’t have to keep mine.”
Although he still felt conflicted, Tim knew it was in his best interest to be honest. After all Dick had a particular skill for knowing anytime he was lying. Still he didn’t know how to properly phrase his thoughts and they came out a jumbled mess. “I thought that…You know how when you go to sleep you wake up. Like, as soon as you fall asleep you wake up in the morning and sometimes you have a dream, but most of the time you wake up and it’s so fast. Like you just fell asleep and it’s morning now?” Taking a deep breath as he tried to reorganize his thoughts, Tim said, “I didn’t want that to happen this time too. I didn’t want to go to sleep and then just wake up like ‘oh it’s morning now and we have to do all this stuff.’ I wanted to stay up so it could feel like it’s longer and things aren’t happening so fast.” He didn’t know if anything he said made sense to Dick, he could barely figure it all out himself, but Tim hoped it was a sufficient enough to satisfy Dick.
Dick felt a little bad for not noticing that Tim was feeling so stressed, but he couldn’t think of anything to say that would make him feel better. Tim’s plan made a lot of sense and it almost made Dick wish he could have thought of it himself. Instead, he avoided looking at Dick and said, “We should go to sleep, Tim. We don’t want to be tired in the morning.”
Driving into the BatCave a few minutes before the sun was set to rise, Bruce parked the BatMobile in the garage before making a beeline towards the computer to begin working on his report for the night. He usually left them until after getting some rest, Alfred had convinced him that it would be more efficient to work after sleep instead of lazing around trying to find the right work, but today he needed an immediate distraction. He wasn’t ready to go upstairs and live his real life again. Already expecting him, Alfred was ready as soon as he took his seat before the monitor and offered some cucumber sandwiches to recover from the tougher than average patrol.
Alfred raised an eyebrow when Bruce ignored the plate and said, “It would be good to eat something before going to bed, Master Bruce.”
“I don’t plan on sleeping, Alfred,” Bruce said bluntly. He knew Alfred was waiting for an explanation, but he ignored the old man’s looming figure to focus on the blank document before him.
Alfred sighed as he placed the plate beside Bruce and said, “You want to look well rested throughout the entirety of the day. Masters Dick and Tim would certainly appreciate the consideration.”
“I don’t need sleep to look well rested, Alfred. After all these years I think that’s been proven.” Looking at the time on the clock just to be sure of the time, Bruce added, “I would have to get up in a few hours anyway. A few hours of sleep aren’t going to make a difference.”
“I’m sure you’ll have the same opinion when it’s the young masters asking to stay up past their bedtime,” Alfred scoffed sure there was no way he could convince Bruce now.
Trying to put the image out of his mind Bruce mumbled, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Tim stood on top of the chair and shifted as Bruce tried to tie a proper knot around his small neck. Tim had already made a few attempts to get a perfect knot, but after he almost started choking himself Bruce knew to take over.
He glanced to the other end of Bruce’s room and watched Dick look himself over in the mirror. Tim thought suit looked weird on Dick, he wasn’t used to seeing him in anything other than his acrobatics uniform or regular going about clothes, but the weirdest was the hair. Dick’s hardly ever focused on his hair, it grew out well enough that their mom never had to fuss at him about brushing it, but now it was combed, properly parted, and looked liked something from a magazine. Usually Tim would have given his brother a compliment, but consider how solemn everyone looked he didn’t think it was the proper situation.
Once the tie was in place and Bruce was sure Tim’s jacket fit properly, he looked between the boys and asked, “Is there anything you boys need? Don’t be afraid to ask if you need anything at all.”
When Dick didn’t say anything, Tim took the initiative and asked, “How long is the funeral going to be?”
Bruce assured him, “As long as you want, Tim. If you want to leave soon we can do that and if you want to spend all day outside we can do that too.”
Looking back between his brother and his reflection in the mirror, Dick said quietly, “We should go soon. The others might be here soon.”
“You boys can get settled in the living room,” Bruce said instead. He didn’t know why he felt more nervous about the funeral than the boys, but he needed a moment to catch his breath and offered, “I’ll be finished soon and can walk out with you.”
Not really concerned with what Bruce possibly have to do, Tim stepped off the chair and waited by the door for Dick to follow before asking his brother, “How many people are going to be there? Is it going to be everyone?”
“I don’t know for sure,” Dick said softly, “but I don’t think most everyone from Haley’s are going to be here. They have to move today so they’re probably busy packing everything up.”
“Who are the people outside right now?” Tim followed up. He had caught a glance of a pair of men standing in the back yard in the morning and from what he could tell they weren’t planning on moving anytime soon. “They’ve been here all day and I don’t know who they are.”
“Their job is to work on funerals,” Dick said quickly before changing the direction of the funeral. He knew his brother wouldn’t be satisfied with the answer, but it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about. Instead he said, “We should probably get you something to eat soon in case you have to wait a while later.”
As soon as he couldn’t hear the boys anymore, Bruce walked to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. He didn’t know if it was because of the sleep he had forgone or the intense feeling of anxiety, but he felt horrible. It wasn’t that he had never done this before, he’d had more experiences with funerals than most people his age, but it was the first time he had the responsibility to look after someone else. He tried to think back to the encouragement Alfred and Jim had shown him at his own parents’ funeral but looking at the person he had become he didn’t know if it would be the best idea. The last thing the world needed was two more Bruce Waynes.
A knock from Alfred on the door forced him to get back on track and he quickly followed the boys into the living room. Tim was eating away at a small sandwich, Bruce imagined he still didn’t understand the full implications of the day, while Dick simply stared at the ground with momentary breaks to clean the crumbs off Tim’s cheek. Bruce considered giving them a word of advice, he could sympathize with their situation after all, but he didn’t think it was what the boys wanted right now. It would be best to give them some privacy if they desperately needed it.
Seeing that he was the only one doing something and the others were waiting for him, Tim quickly finished the remainder of the sandwich, stood up, and announced, “We can leave now. I’m ready.”
Dick slowly stood up beside him, but didn’t do anything until Bruce first made the way out of the room. It wasn’t a long trip outside and by now Tim knew enough of the house layout not to get lost, but when Dick reached down to hold his hand and lead him away he allowed it. He knew it was more for his older brother than for himself and after all Dick had done for him Tim didn’t mind.
When the door to the back porch finally opened the cold stopped them in their tracks, Tim huddled closer to Dick for warmth. Bruce contemplated giving Tim his jacket, the four year old looked like he needed it, but he understood the protectiveness in Dick’s stance and thought against it. Even if none of them knew it, this was Dick’s unconscious attempt to make up for not helping his brother the night before.
They walked in silence to through the well manicured lawn until they came to the gravesite and found their seats. Dick and Tim got to sit in the front and Bruce beside Tim as they silently stared in front of them waiting for something to happen.
Tim was still holding on closely to Dick, the perpetual cold weather was not something he was used to just yet, and Dick was glad to have a distraction. He thought he might actually be able to forget the worst parts of the day until Tim asked, “Are they in the boxes? I don’t see them anywhere else. Why are they in the boxes?”
When Dick stiffened up at the question, Bruce took the initiative to explain, “Yes they are, Timothy. They are called casket and it’s where people are laid to rest in. It protects them from the environment around them.”
Only paying attention to the beginning of the response, the four year old tried to sit up straighter and get a better view of the casket as he said, “When Ms. Casent was in her box they had a flap that was open so we could see her. Why don’t they have one?” A sudden realization coming across him, Tim leaned down closer to Bruce and Dick to keep any of the funeral workers from overhearing in case they were in on the conspiracy and asked, “What if it’s not really them and people are lying? What if it’s someone else in the boxes? We should look in and make sure.”
“We can’t look at them, Babybird.” Dick said in a tired voice that confused Tim. “When they fell they got very hurt and they don’t look normal. It wasn’t like when Ms. Casent died. She didn’t get hurt so she didn’t look…bad…when she died.”
Tim’s lip thinned as he considered what his older brother said and decided to stand his ground. “What if it’s not them, Dick? It could be anyone else in the boxes. It could be anything.”
“I’m sure it’s your parents in the casket,” Bruce said softly. “The police officers have been looking over their bodies since they died and they made extra sure not to mess anything up. It’s definitely them in the caskets so you don’t have to worry about that.”
Still not fully comfortable arguing with Bruce, Tim decided it would be best to confirm for himself. “Can I look at them? I could make sure.”
“No,” Dick said sternly. “Tim, you have to stop this. It’s them in the casket and I know you might not like it because you don’t understand them, but you have to believe me, Tim. It’s them.” Forgetting that he’d been spending the last few hours trying to make up for ignoring Tim’s concerns the night before, Dick almost yelled, “What’s your problem, Tim? You’re making this a lot harder than it has to be.”
“Okay,” Tim mumbled quietly before realizing Dick had asked a question and rambling an answer. “It’s just…I…I can’t remember a lot of them, Dick. It’s only been a few days and I…I can’t remember what they look like a lot. I was trying to think about them yesterday when you said we were going to have a funeral and I couldn’t remember who was taller or how long Mom’s hair was or if Dad’s eyes were light blue or dark blue or if his eyebrows are bushy like Bruce’s or what Mom’s perfume smelled like and…I don’t know…I want to see them again.” He was practically out of breath by the time he was finished, the cold might have had something to do with it, but he liked admitting everything to Dick. Staring directly at the caskets as he tried to imagine what his parents must look like in there, Tim whispered, “It hasn’t even been that long, Dick. It’s only been like a few days and I can’t remember anything. What if…maybe…what if I won’t ever remember anything ever again.”
Not sure if he should cling onto Tim or give him some space, Dick decided to keep his arms to himself as he sighed, “I’m sorry, Timbo. I didn’t know you were worried about not remembering Mom and Dad, but you don’t have to worry. I promise I won’t let you forget them, Timmy.” He could tell Tim didn’t believe him, Dick couldn’t blame him all things considered, and through a desperate look in Bruce’s direction for some help.
Bringing Tim’s attention onto himself, Bruce lifted him closer to his lap and asked, “Do you remember that your parents loved you?”
“Yes,” Tim said easily but slightly confused at the question.
“Do you remember how much you love your parents?”
“Yes,” Tim said easily but even more confused than before.
“Then that’s all you need to remember, Tim,” Bruce said calmly. “That’s all they would want you to remember.”
“Is that what you remember about your parents?” Tim asked curiously. He could see that the question confused Bruce and Dick, but considering how they were doing their best to confuse him he thought it was fitting. “That was like a hundred years ago so you must not remember a lot.”
It caught him off guard, but knowing how important it must have been to Tim Bruce answered honestly. “You’re right. I don’t remember a lot about my parents, but I do remember how they look. The painting in the library helps not forget.” At the small smile at the light joke, Bruce went on, “Other than that I have a some pictures that I keep in my bedroom that I look back to when I remember them, but I don’t remember things like how they smelled or a lot of what they liked to do. By now it’s mostly snippets of things we did together when I was older, but I can promise you I’m never going to forget how much we loved each other. That’s just something you don’t forget.”
Seemingly satisfied with the response, Tim settled into his seat and decided he was comfortable quietly waiting for the rest of his friends to show up. Dick stared at Bruce for a few moments until following Tim’s lead leaving Bruce to think over what the look meant. He didn’t look upset at all, Bruce knew what Dick looked like when he was upset, and Bruce wished that he would be brave enough to address it later.
“What happens after?” Dick asked after nothing happened for a while. “Later today what happens?”
Although he definitely understood more about funerals than his younger brother, their argument a few moments ago making it obvious, Dick didn’t have a lot of experience with them. The only funeral he’d ever been to had been for Ms. Casent, a woman he hardly knew and one his parents had forced him to go to, and he’d left before it was even over to get Tim in bed before his bedtime. His knowledge of funerals didn’t go past knowing that the dead body was kept in a casket, a lot of people cried, and from tv he knew the casket was buried in the ground that a tombstone marked a person’s grave. If there was anything else to know, he didn’t want to be caught off guard when it finally happened.
Bruce softly explained, “The funeral’s going to happen here and afterwards the three of us can go home by ourselves or we can have people over. It all depends on what you want.”
“Hmm,” Dick said in acknowledgment. “I think I’d like to be alone after. I don’t want too many people around. What about you, Timmy?”
Considering how hard of a time he was having even without the funeral having started and the cold that was probably going to freeze his ears, Tim decided, “I don’t want people here after. I want to go in after.”
“Okay,” Bruce said easily. “We’ll feed everyone after the burial and then ask them to leave so you two can spend time with yourselves.”
The trio sat in silence once again until they heard the back doors to the Manor open and Alfred lead the crew from the circus through the lawn. The burial site was close enough to the main property that one could see it from the Manor, but it was discrete enough to not impose on the rest of the view. The large number of lawn chairs and group of people made it more distinctive, but most of the performers were still in awe of the large amount of land that made up the Wayne property. They couldn’t hide their amazement as they walked through the lawn, but returned to their solemn expression as they drew closer to the burial sight.
Dick had been right with the whole circus not being here, even with the Flying Graysons being the most popular performers there were some who didn’t know them well and some who just didn’t like them, but the ones closest to the boys made sure to be here.
Dick stood up first and watched as they walked over. He actually wanted to run out to his lifelong friends and leap into their arms, but he knew better and kept his anticipation to himself. Tim wasn’t as concerned with his image and he immediately held up his arms for Sebastian to hug.
Kelly knew Dick would never admit he needed the same kind of support and instead of waiting for the signal she leaned down and held him in a tight embrace. Dick didn’t do a lot to reciprocate, but she’d babysitted him enough to know he was on the verge of tears and she would pull away before they dropped and he felt like he’d embarrassed himself. Instead, she whispered, “Everything’s going to be all right, Dick. You know you can call us for anything and we’ll be back in Gotham the moment you ask.”
Pulling away and looking down at the ground hoping his eyes would dry up on their own, Dick muttered, “Yeah, I know that. Thanks.”
Hands firmly on his shoulder as she forced him to look her in the eyes, Kelly promised, “If you ever need anything we’ll be there for you, Bigbird. Don’t ever forget that.”
“I know, Kelly,” Dick said dismissively as he moved back to his seat. “You’ve told me that a thousand times. I know that by now.”
She took the seat the seat beside him while she watched Sebastian takes Bruce’s and whispered to Tim, “Even if your brother doesn’t call, you will won’t you, Timmy?”
He was a little confused about the change in direction from the conversation he was having with Sebastian, but Tim said, “I don’t know your number. I remember Haley’s number because Dad made me if I ever got lost so I could call him and get him to get you.”
“Sounds like a good plan, Timmy,” Sebastian said encouragingly. “We’ll leave Mr. Wayne our numbers too in case you forget.”
Preening around the crowd to get a better view, Dick asked, “Where’s Bruce? He was here a second ago.”
“He said he had to talk to the those people,” Tim explained pointing to Bruce in deep conversation with the grave diggers. The hole was already dug, but Dick imagined they were going to be the ones who lowered their bodies into the ground and irrationally hated them for it.
Haley came up to them next, giving the same promise Bash and Kelly had given, and many others followed after. They all offered their condolences and promised they’d never forget them or their parents. By the end of the line Dick was sure some of them were reading from a script, some doing pretty poorly considering they couldn’t properly remember their parents’ name, but Tim seemed to appreciate the support. He knew Tim needed it considering just how little he still understood, he seemed to treat the whole situation like it was a vacation in a mansion with someone who’d buy them the world if they asked, but Dick hated the phoniness of most of the people around them. He could see that some of them were paying more attention to Bruce than anything else, but he forced himself to calm when he saw the cautious expression Tim through him. By now the thing he wanted more than anything was for the day to be over and forcing have the guests to leave was only going to draw it out longer. Instead he focused on the people on either side of him, Bash, Kelly, Tim, Haley, and a few others, while they waited for the funeral to get going.
It took a few more minutes until Bruce was finished, most people talked among themselves while others looked over the speeches they had prepared, but when he finally did return he found his seat on the other side of Tim occupied by Sebastian. For his part he didn’t seem bothered and he quickly moved to an empty seat directly behind them that Dick had made sure no one took over.
As soon as Bruce took his seat, Haley stood up and walked up behind the podium and prepared to address the crowd before him. As the employer for most everyone in the room and the one who knew John and Mary the best, it seemed logical that he be the first one to speak.
The murmurings around the lawn quickly quieted down as he began to clear his throat and as soon as he had everyone’s attention he began speaking. “Today is a solemn day, one I never imagined having to live through, but it’s heartwarming to see that so many of you were able to come and show your support for the boys. I know they appreciate it and I know John and Mary would too.” Even from feet away Dick could tell Haley’s eyes were starting to glaze over as he said, “I’d known them since they were kids, they grew up in my circus, and I never imagined having to speak at their funeral. It honestly never crossed my mind.” After a short pause to catch his breath Haley smiled as he remembered, “There was nothing like watching them fly. I’d seen them perform separately, but when they decided to perform together there was nothing like it. I can honestly say there was nothing like them and there probably won’t be again.” Looking directly at Dick, he added, “It was just as impressive to see the boys they’d raised. They have the best part of their dad and mom in them, definitely all of their talent, and even though I won’t be here to see it I know they are going to grow into amazing men just like I know their parents are going to watch over them and will love just as much as they did when they were alive.” Glancing down before turning to the caskets to his side, Haley finished, “They died too young. This was a tragedy I couldn’t have imagined in my darkest nightmare, especially not when they were just starting their family, but it won’t change anything now. The only thing we can do now is live the life they would have wanted for us, become the people they would have wanted us to be, and hope we can see them again when it’s our turn.” Haley took a moment not to say anything until finally looking back at the crowd and saying, “Thank you all very much.”
A long clap followed his departure from the podium and there was a pause that followed as the next person in the line up walked up with her speech. Dick looked back around the crowd and finally realized why so many people had papers with them. He quickly turned around to face Bruce and used the few seconds before the next speaker started to explain, “They all shouldn’t get a chance to speak, Bruce. A lot of them didn’t even know them and they’re only here to get closer to you. I don’t want them to all get up.”
That was all he had the time to explain before the second speech started and he had to turn back around and be polite. Bruce hadn’t paid much attention to the crowd around them, he was more focused on the boys and didn’t care too much about the company, but looking around now he could see Dick’s point. More than a few people were entranced with him and seemed to be whispering about him amongst themselves. It wasn’t a new sensation for Bruce, he was used to the treatment at funerals, birthdays, and weddings, but he’d expected the supposed friends of newly orphaned children to have more manners. In the end he remembered his parent’s funeral had been a quiet occasion for just the same reason.
As soon as the woman giving the speech stepped away from the podium, he leaned into Dick ear and asked, “Who else should give a speech? You can give me their names and I’ll finish up from there.”
Taking note of exactly who had speeches and who didn’t, Dick decided, “Peter, Casey, and Sophie should get a chance but no one else. They actually knew them.”
Bruce nodded in acknowledgement and after he had an understanding of the people the names corresponded to he informed all of them of the speaking order. They weren’t too surprised, if anything a little perplexed to be speaking to Bruce Wayne, and within 15 minutes all of the speeches were finished. It seemed to have worked out wonderfully because Tim was getting restless with all of the talking and didn’t look like he could last much longer. To him it was a lot of people repeating the things he already knew, that his parents were great and everyone would miss them.
Before anyone else could approach the podium, Haley walked up again and asked, “Can everyone please stand as we bury John and Mary? Afterwards we can go inside for the wake and get lunch before we leave.”
People tried to stand up and complain about not being given a chance to speak, but once they saw Bruce lead the boys to the casket knew they didn’t have a chance. There was no way he’d allow them to make the day even worse for the boys by putting their own feelings before the boys’.
As they stood over the graves Tim appreciated the tight hold Dick had on his arm. He didn’t want to accidentally fall into the hole, but he wondered just how his brother always knew just what to do. Tim knocked it up to Dick just knowing everything, but quickly turned his attention back to the strangers carefully moving the caskets into the corresponding grave. Dick’s hand on his shoulder only got tighter as they slowly lowered their bodies and Tim had to break out of hold before his entire shoulder was crushed under the tight grip.
When the gravediggers looked up at Bruce and stepped back from the graves, he looked down at Tim and Dick as he pulled something out of his jacket pocket. There was a crinkle of plastic as he unwrapped the delicate flowers and handed them to the boys as he explained, “You can put the flower on our parents.”
Tim didn’t know what the flowers could possibly do, but he decided to follow Bruce’s instruction. He carefully crouched down beside the holes, threw the flowers down before he could accidentally fall in, and rushed back to his position beside Bruce and Dick. Dick did the same, taking his time in placing the flowers and wearing a look Tim didn’t entire understand, before stepping to the side as the gravediggers began moving again.
The gravediggers began starting throwing the extra dirt on the caskets as the crowd silently watched. Tim didn’t want to stay behind and wait for both of the holes to be filled, but with one glance to Dick he knew his older brother wasn’t going to move any time soon. Instead he risked reaching out for Dick’s hand and slowly entwined it with his own hoping it would help his older brother.
They stood still for just under half an hour, long enough that the remainder of the crowd had gone to the main house to get something to eat, and Bruce was willing to stand behind them as long as they needed.
There were more tears from each of the boys, but this time they had the privacy to be as loud as they wanted to be. No strangers were watching them only pretending to care so they could hope to gain more favor with Bruce.
When they were finished, Dick turned to look at the crowd in the Manor and said, “I don’t want to talk to anyone right now. I want to go to bed and just…I don’t want to deal with anyone right now.”
“We can go watch something,” Tim offered in hopes that it would appeal to the optimistic side of Dick. “Or we could play with all of our new toys. A lot of them are still in their boxes.”
Dick didn’t want to start pretending to be happy so soon, but found himself nodding just to make his little brother happy. He went as far as to promise, “We can do whatever you want Babybird.”
Bruce asked, “Do you know how to use the side entrance?” At the nod from the boys he explained, “If you can find your way up to your rooms I’ll have everyone go home. They shouldn’t be too upset considering they’ll be leaving tomorrow and might still have some work to do.”
Nodding at the instruction, Tim realized just how tired he was growing. He found himself leaning into Bruce’s leg hoping he’d pick him up without him having to ask. It took longer than he had expected, Bruce had given Dick a confused look hoping he’d have an explanation, until he finally lifted Tim into his arms and let him get comfortable.
As they made their way through the lawn, Dick found himself smiling as he taunted, “You see, Tim? This is why I’m always right.”
“Dick,” Tim pleaded with a panic Bruce didn’t understand…at first. It didn’t take him long to figure out, it felt fitting considering the argument he’d had with Alfred a few hours ago, but Bruce decided to ignore it. He still didn’t quite know how he was going to deal with the boys acting out and he was fine with not addressing the issue until years from now.
Bruce looked up from the tablet on his lap to stare at the shadows dancing from underneath his door. He could tell there was someone pacing in front of the room, from the relative silence in the steps he assumed it was a kid and that left Dick and Tim. Before he could use his detective skills to narrow down to one kid, Dick slowely opened the door to peek inside and make sure Bruce was still awake.
Remembering back to the last time Dick had come to see him alone and tense, Bruce immediately pushed his work to the side and made room for the eight year old to sit. Bruce could tell Dick had been thinking about the discussion they had had a few nights ago, the furrowed brows and anxious steps made it obvious, and he was hoping Dick had come to a conclusion on what he wanted to do from here on. Just to calm any fears he might have still had, Bruce informed him, “I talked to Haley about what happened that night, Dick.” At the anxious look, Bruce assured Dick, “I didn’t tell him about anything you told me, but I asked him about what he knew and if he was willing to go to the police. What you heard was right. There were two local gang members who had found him before the show and they tried to shake him down for some money, but he refused to give them anything. They were the first people he thought of after the accident too and he’s already talked to the police about what happened.”
“That’s good,” Dick said relieved that this wasn’t entirely his burden to bare. “I guess I don’t have to say anything if Haley already told them, right?”
“That’s not how it works, Dick,” Bruce said sympathetically. “They can’t just go with Haley’s word on it, they need corroborating evidence. They might find some more evidence on sight, but it’s going to be hard to narrow all of their suspects down to two people. It would really help if you could talk to the police too, give them some information Haley might not have been able to.”
Keeping his attention on the bedding to avoid having to look at Bruce, Dick asked, “Do you think I could get in trouble for not telling them before? If I’d told them…I know you said not to think like that, but if I’d told they would still be alive. I just can’t stop thinking about it.”
Bruce promised, “You aren’t going to get into any trouble, Dick. I can personally vouch for Officer Gordon.”
“If you say so,” Dick mumbled. “What happens if I tell?”
Bruce explained, “You’ll have to go to the police station and find the officer in charge of the case, it will Officer Gordon who also worked on my parents’ murder, and get a personal meeting. He’ll lead you to his office where you’ll explain everything that you told me and he’ll probably bring in another officer to make sure there’s a witness. Then they’ll use the information to figure out who it could possibly be. When they figure it out the police will arrest the suspects and go to trial to see if the person is guilty or not.”
“Would I have to go to court with them?” Dick asked cautiously. The little he had seen of courtrooms on tv made it seem like there was a lot of work that and stress went into cases.
“Yes,” Bruce said honestly. “The prosecution would need your eye witness account to as evidence against the suspect. It would make the case against them stronger, especially if you can identify them.”
Dick laid down on the bed beside Bruce in deep contemplation. He knew what he should do, his parents would have wanted him to do the right thing and talk to the police, but Dick didn’t know if he was capable of it. He had barely confessed everything to Bruce, how could he tell a police officer or court room full of people who didn’t know him?
Watching closely to the wave of emotions pass Dick’s easily readable face, Bruce realized, “There’s something else. There’s something you don’t want to tell me.”
Rolling to his side so that his back faced Bruce, Dick tried to figure out just how Bruce was able to tell what he was thinking. Nevertheless, Dick had to admit, “Yeah…I guess so.”
“We can talk about it, Dick. It doesn’t have to leave this room if you don’t want it to.”
It took Dick a few moments to say anything, but with his face buried in in of Bruce’s extra pillows he said, “I don’t want Tim to hate me.”
“What do you mean?” Bruce asked astounded. From what he’d seen over the past week, he didn’t think Tim was capable of hating his older brother.
“I could have stopped it,” Dick explained with labored breaths. “I could have stopped them from dying if I’d told someone about what I’d heard, but I didn’t and they’re dead now. I’d get it if he hated me. I’d understand, but I don’t want to see if he will.”
Although Bruce couldn’t know how the four year old could react, he knew that Dick needed assurance and he was the only one ready to give him some. “Tim is going to love you no matter what, Dick. If you can explain everything to him just like you did to me, there’s no way he’s going to hate you. If anything, he’s going to want to want to help you with this guilt you can’t get rid of just yet.”
“How could you possibly know that?” Dick asked skeptically. “You can’t know for sure. He might never want to talk to me again.”
Bruce knew this was a fragile moment and if he said something that was less than perfect he’d break the boy, possibly beyond repair. He took his time to form his argument and soften his voice as he asked Dick, “Is there anything Tim could do to make you hate him? Can you think of anything that would make you never want to talk to him again?”
“No,” Dick said easily, but upon realizing Bruce’s point he added, “but that’s different.”
“Not to Tim,” Bruce countered. “To him standing beside you is as easy as it is for you to stand beside him.”
“Are you sure?” Dick asked weakly. It felt like his entire life was riding on this. “If I lose Timmy too…I just…”
Dick couldn’t see it, but Bruce debated patting his shoulder before deciding Dick might not appreciate the contact. Bruce certainly didn’t want to force the boy to feel better when he wasn’t ready for it. Instead he moved closer and thought of what might be the most comforting. In the end he decided, “I’d bet my life on it, Dick. Tim might be confused or upset, but there is no doubt in my mind that he’s going to love you just as much as he does now. The boy isn’t capable of hating you yet, Dick, that’ll come when he’s a teenager.”
The joke at the end had been a risky one, but it was worth hearing Dick chuckle slightly after such a hard conversation and an even harder day. “I guess I should tell the police. It could help.”
“I’ll be there with you, Dick. I’ll be your legal guardian now and I’ll be there through everything,” Bruce said with an absolute guarantee. “If you want a lawyer, I have hundreds who can be in the courthouse as soon as I want.”
“Fine…okay. I’ll do it,” Dick said with little to no conviction in his voice.
Leaning closer so Dick could just barely feel him against his back, Bruce promised, “You won’t regret it, Dick. I’ll make sure of it.”
Both of them were quiet for a few minutes, unable to think of anything to say, until Dick asked, “Can I sleep here?” He knew he needed the company and he still felt too guilty to be with Tim. If he wasn’t careful he might accidentally blurt out a confession before he was ready for it.
Bruce debated whether or not to agree, but seeing the desperation in the boy he knew it would be best to help him. Alfred wouldn’t allow for him go on patrol after not sleeping for so long anyway. “You can go get changed and crawl back in as soon as you want, Dick.”
Slowly sitting up and trying to press his hair back in place, Dick felt just how tired he was. The only thing willing him to move was the fact he hadn’t changed out of his suit yet and he knew he’d hate himself if he had to wake up in it. After watching Bruce disappear into his bathroom, Dick cracked the door open to glance out into the hallway and make sure Tim wasn’t near. He wasn’t used to having to sneak behind his brother, but Dick didn’t think he was ready to face him either. The door was closed in Tim’s room, having so privacy and space was new to him so every now and then he liked having some time to himself every now and then, but Dick could tell he was moving around. Every now and then Dick felt like Tim was getting ready to open the door and see what was taking him so long, but great for him as the fact that it never came to be. When he was sure Tim wasn’t by the door, Dick rushed to his own room and swiftly closed the door behind him. Dick felt pathetic waiting behind the door and hoping to hear where or not Tim opened his door out to the hallway to see if he could catch his older brother, but he felt like it was the only thing he could do to keep his sanity. He quickly changed into his pjs, keeping the mess that became of his suit on his chair for him to deal with in the morning, and prepared to sneak back out again.
Sure of the fact Tim wasn’t going to be in the hallway, Dick rushed out to Bruce bedroom this not not as careful to not slam the door behind him. He cringed as he heard Tim open his own door to try and see him, but Dick stood still not wanting to make a sound. He felt he could just barely hear a small sigh, but he was sure Tim didn’t close the door this time. His little brother had probably left it open hoping for Dick to join him that night, Tim probably needed the same contact Dick was finding with Bruce, but all Dick could do was pull the covers to Bruce’s bed and crawl in. He felt frozen in his place until the bed dipped beside him and Bruce took his place. The bed seemed a lot larger without Tim here to share it with them and Dick wondered whether or not he should take up the same position he had the previous time they all slept together. He decided it would have made things too awkward and instead he wrapped his arms around on the many extra pillows on the bed and lulled himself to sleep.