Bat Snapshots 3: Answers

(based off a Code Geass fic by DnKS-giRLs)

Bruce Wayne’s first memory of his boys was eerily depressing. Dick’s face when he saw his parents fall to their deaths will forever be etched in his brain as the face of disbelief, pain, and fear. It reminded him far too much of his own experience decades ago.

Tim was a little different. He was asleep, practically passed out, in his bed and all Bruce could think was he was too small. Too small to be an orphan, too small to have to deal with this kind of sorrow, too small to have to make some of the hardest decisions of his life. Hearing Dick try to explain their situation and Tim’s inability to comprehend death was almost too much for Bruce, a grilling reminder that he was still human and couldn’t always fix everything.

Although he still doesn’t completely understand how, pretty soon the pain gave way and he was shown two of the most amazing people he even had the liberty of meeting. When the time for mourning had come to pass, the two were almost unrecognizable, the embodiment of hyperactivity and innocence.

Every time he walked into the manor he was greeted with bright blue eyes and giant smiles. As soon as he sat down the two would demand his full attention, not leaving out any details of their day and wanting to know everything about his. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest periods of Bruce’s life.

And then they joined his mission.

Their curiosity lead them into the BatCave, exposing Bruce’s most cherished secret and introducing the two to their favorite hero.

Bruce did not quite understand why the two seemed so eager to take part in his mission. Dick one day joined his workout, he sneaked up behind him and tried to recreate his movements and poses. Acting like the good father he so much wanted to be, Bruce tried to push him away, keep him out of the battle that would surely cost them so much. He changed the security code to the cave, denied the two any attention when they asked about his night job, refused to let them join in what was meant to be one of the greatest mistakes of their lives. No matter how hard he tried, Bruce couldn’t miss their determination and drive and the only thing holding him back was the fact that eight was far too young to join the war.

History was doomed to repeat itself as Dick snuck in more and more, trying his hardest to emulate Batman while at the same time not letting the darkness consume his own jovial spirit. Tim was not yet ready to undergo the same training, too young to even try some of the tricks his older brother was happy to show off, so instead he focused on the questions that came with cases.

Leaning over on the worktable, Tim asked with strained eyes why there were bullet shells scattered everywhere. Although at first he tried to ignore the questions, Bruce couldn’t help but explain to the three year old exactly how the design could be traced to certain manufacturers and if they had that information they could see exactly who bought the bullets and who probably fired them. Bruce didn’t miss those deep blue eyes seeping in all of the information, probably hiding it away somewhere never to forget it. Sometimes Dick would join in the explanations, but he much more preferred flying around the cave and teaching his little brother everything he’d learned from their parents.

Despite his best efforts, it became a tradition for their little family. The two would join him in the cave after dinner almost everyday, even when there was no case to work on or route to patrol. And he did not mind that, not at all. It was nothing but endearing to have those big eyes directed at him, to see those smiles given to him, to notice how that smooth foreheads wrinkle at some difficult term he mentioned.

“How come you never miss when you take down a criminal?” asked a nine year old Dick while they were looking over a tape of the previous night’s patrol. Bruce sighed and showed him the scars that came from his training, the mark where Ra’s Al Ghul had stabbed him with his sword or the wound left by a piece of shrapnel from one of Joker’s bombs. The mark on his arm where one of Penguin’s goons had gotten a lucky shot in or the burn around his ankle from Poison Ivy’s vines. Looking at the scars, Bruce saw a flood of sympathy in Dick’s eyes, how he was trying to comprehend how someone as seemingly perfect as Batman was able to be wounded. Bruce knew that if they wanted to be involved they had to know everything that came with the mission, especially the failures.

“Why are the police in Gotham so incompetent?” The last word came out strained, laced with malice as they watched a police officer make a deal with one of Two-Face’s gangs. Bruce explained to Tim exactly how the police had become an institution riddled with corruption, the same as most of the city. He explained how there were city officials dedicated to helping Gotham, but most of the time it was the worst of the worst shone through. Bruce stressed that it was their job to be an example of the best of Gotham, everything that resonated justice and gave the people hope. Hope that their futures wouldn’t be dictated by the lives of the crooked, that there was good in Gotham.

There was no one way to describe the time the three spent together. The questions and explanations ranged from everything Bruce had been taught in his training. He described how to identify the many different fighting styles and later just how to master them, working until they could switch between any of the techniques with the flinch of their opponent’s muscle. He explained the many ways someone can show that he or she is lying and exactly how to hide it on their own faces. He sketched out the most popular architectural styles all over the world and the best ways to dismantle them, the weakness that would guarantee the them structural failure.

No matter how much time went on, Bruce was still ambushed with their curious questions daily. Even when the boys had to go to the many galas held for charity, he was pulled aside and asked about the lives of the socialites: who was a criminal, who had foreign bank accounts, who was here to genuinely help the needy, and who just wanted to get on Bruce’s good side. It always surprised Bruce how the boys were able to juggle the intense training, school, and a social life. Even before he knew they would take up their own mantles, they stuck to him daily and at the very least tried to keep him entertained with their questions.

Sometimes he was sure that there was nothing keeping him from suffocating in the darkness more than the genuine smiles that came from the boys.

One question in particular caught him off guard.

“Why do you always answer our question? Doesn’t it ever get annoying?”

Upon being asked, Bruce wrapped his sons into an embrace and said in perfect honesty declared multiple times, “Because I love you more than anything else.”

The blush that warmed their cheeks was the only thing Bruce needed to see to know the feeling was mutual. Although they never said anything in return, he could tell from the way their faces never stopped changing color that they appreciated his declaration. It was the one question they asked repeatedly and his answer never changed. There was never any hesitation in his voice, never any need to question whether his feelings were genuine.

Years passed by and nothing changed. The two grew up beautifully, earning Bruce’s complete trust. Bruce watched his little children’s progress with a pride that was only a father could understand. They were going to surpass even him in due time, but not before their own roadblocks.

In the end, no amount of experience could prevent the battles and injuries and tears and trauma that Gotham always brought with her.

Having to carry an injured Robin into the cave was a rude awakening for Bruce. He remembered how guilty he felt watching Alfred hook the boy up to the medical gear, looking a lot smaller than he ever had before. Tim rushed out to his brother, sitting by him for hours at a time. Bruce watched him cement his place next to his brother, still holding onto his hand when he woke up the next day. He wasted no time going through every step they had made on patrol, examining every mistake he had made so it never happened again.

Approaching the boy later that first night, Bruce did the only thing that could help. He gathered Tim into his embrace, making sure not to break his hold of his brother, and let the boy’s sobs shake his chest as he tried to coax him into sleep. His boys were far too talented, far too gentle to be tainted by the fear of death. His youngest son was far too precious to him to leave him crying alone in the dark like that.

“Tim,” he called softly, “it’s going to be okay.”

“They…they really hurt him. He must be so scared,” Tim choked. Looking up to Bruce with unshed tears glazing his eyes, he asked, “Do you think I go out with you next time? Just so I can be there. I don’t have to be fighting, just being there and watching.”

“The world can be a horrible place with horrible people in it, Tim, and they will do whatever it takes to get to you. I can’t risk letting even more people get hurt when even Dick can get injured like this. It’s still going to be some time before Dick and I are convinced you won’t get hurt. That you won’t die. Because you could, Tim, and if that ever happened to either one of you, I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know if I could ever be the same person again.” he answered. He knew this wasn’t the answer Tim wanted, he wanted to be able to protect his older brother the same way he protected him, but it was the best way to keep him safe. With a kiss to Tim’s messy hair, Bruce rubbed circles into his back and held him until he started to feel drowsy.

He wanted to stop, to let the boy fall asleep with a happier thought, but once he began the words just poured out of his mouth. With a sarcastic chuckle he added, “I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to feel happy again, to smile, if you two were killed. I mean, it’s been almost thirty years since my parents died and I’ve felt my happiest around you two. It’s you who’s keeping me human, Tim. You and Dick. I might be a little selfish, but I can’t stand the thought of you two getting hurt. I mean, it’s not like I could ever find someone else to pull me out of the hell I would fall in if I had to live knowing you died.”

It was somber and it was brutal, but what surprised Bruce was that it was true. There was absolutely nothing that could bring him out of the darkness if the two boys in front of him died.

“Why Dick?” Tim murmured almost asleep. “Why him?”

“Dick wants to help people, Tim, and sometimes that will put him at risk.”

Tim whimpered in his arms before falling silent and Bruce almost thought his son had finally surrendered to exhaustion. Yet his suspicion was proven false when those too blue eyes looked up at him from within his embrace. With a serious look on his face, Tim asked, “Why do you always answer my questions?”

And as always, Bruce wrapped his arms around Tim, so very tight as if he would never let him go, and answered with the utmost honesty he could find in him, “Because I love you, Tim. I love you both.”

Bruce took his role as a father much more seriously after that. He made sure to be invested in everything in their lives, letting them know that no matter what he would support them. When he went to their school activities he was the loudest one in the room. When Dick decided to take up football, Bruce was at every single game and when Tim was able to come he face painted Dick’s number on his cheek. When Tim wanted to learn how to play the piano, Bruce spent hours finding the perfect one for him and had one of the rooms of the manor converted into a studio.

Even then there were times when the two just needed someone to hold them, time when they were as human as anyone else. There was the occasional argument, the occasional mood swing, but Bruce took it all gracefully. Parenting was sticking through the bad parts and he would be there for them no matter how many times were upset with him.

Sometimes they were too afraid to approach him with their problems and sometimes they threw themselves into his arms as soon as they saw him. Sometimes they held onto the batsuit and sometimes they refused to talk to him until he took the cowl off. Sometimes their eyes were the brightest things in their world and sometimes they were glossed with pain he never wanted to see again. Sometimes his room was the source of the loudest noises the two were capable of, the screams and laughs as they chased each other around the bed and begged for his company before they fell asleep and sometimes it felt like the loneliest place in the world knowing they were across the hall but still so far away.

Maybe they felt something similar. Maybe they had made a similar oath to protect Bruce and that was why they stuck with him through everything. Why they comforted him when he was dosed with fear toxin and hearing his father berate him for taking two small boys into his mission. Why they agreed when he locked them out of the cave for a full week because sometimes there were cases he didn’t want them seeing. Why they joined in when he invited them into his room for the night because sometimes he just needed them there to know they were real, that they weren’t too good to be true.

One of the worst nightmares he’d ever had nothing to do with his mission, it was him never meeting the boys that meant the world to him. He woke up thinking about what could have happened to them if he hadn’t taken them in. What if it had been either of them on the line, just practicing or joking around when it finally gave way? What if they were actually better off without him, without the emotional constipation and mission? What if they grew to resent him for not trying harder to push them away from Batman?

So sometimes he invited them to sleep with him because he needed them as much as they needed him and if he had to wake up to the occasional wet sheet or so be it.

When Tim first went out, Bruce and Dick followed him out everywhere. The last thing they wanted was for the boy to end up hurt, the same hurt they’d grown accustomed to after the many times they had to spend nights in the cave recovering from patrol. So they followed him. They made sure he was never more than a few yards away from them and had a tracker in his cloths. When he left Gotham to join his own team, they made sure Tim contacted them at least once a day and reported everything that was going on and any injury he might have received from missions.

To be honest, Bruce didn’t know how Tim didn’t feel suffocated, didn’t feel like his brother and his father were over protective. He took their treatment gracefully, not fighting just smiling along and letting them know what the limits were. Bruce didn’t find his answer until he overheard a conversation between Tim and Alfred.

“I must say, Master Timothy, you don’t seem to be disturbed by Master Bruce and Master Dick’s constant need for attention.”

His youngest son let out a small laugh before explaining, “They love me, Alfred, and this is their best way of showing it. They know what the boundaries are and they never test them. It’s almost like how you ship out food and fresh cloths because you want to be sure we’re taking care of ourselves.”

Apparently he played his cards well. The boys stuck with him for years.

The night they first called him ‘Dad’ would forever live in his memory. It’s one of the reasons he put in cameras into his room, so he could capture moments like these and watch them forever. He’d never forget how the two crawled into his room and demanded that he let them sleep with him, taking their respective places at his side and curling into his embrace.

Laying his head on Bruce’s chest, his favorite spot to hear his heartbeat, Tim couldn’t help but ask with a chuckle in his voice, “Why are you two protective?”

Tim already knew the answer, but he just wanted to hear it again and it was far too easy for Bruce to cave into the silent demand.

“Because you two are the most important people in my life and I can’t help but want to prevent you from getting hurt.”

Dick joined in with an identical smile, “Is that why you always keep track of us?”

“Well, of course.” Bruce said. “I want to keep you as safe as possible.”

“Why?” his youngest asked with his soft voice.

Bruce smiled. “Because I want to protect you and Dick forever.”

“Why did you want to protect us?”

“Because you two are my children whom I cherish very much.”

Looking down at the two on his chest, Bruce could easily read how relieved they were to hear that.

“Why do you always answer our questions, Dad?”

For the first time in far too long, Bruce was stunned into silence before he laid a kiss to their hair and firmly announced, “Because I love you.”

Surprisingly enough, he wasn’t alone in his caring for the two boys. The Justice League took a firm liking to the only people able to break Bruce’s cold shell. Slowly, they became the aunts and uncles Bruce never wanted around his children but couldn’t keep away.

Clark came around twice a month, updating the boys on the happenings of Metropolis and never forgetting to drop that he was Superman. Even when Bruce would’ve thought they’d outgrown such things, the boys went on piggie back rides around Gotham; Kent always dropped them off with a goofy grin on their faces and wind blown hair that stuck out every which way. Afterwards, Superman couldn’t help but gloat about how he was the favorite (only) uncle, practically asking for the others to join in and try to take his place.

Diana took the opportunity to show the two her invisible jet, even letting them join her for a ride. She showed them some fighting moves she’d learned with the Amazons and let them use her lasso, pleasantly surprised when it worked.

Barry and Hal tag teamed, showing off just how much they knew about science and jets. They also got them into pranks, giving them ideas of the best ways to surprise Bruce. He wanted to feel sorry for the two, they were far too afraid to pull off the pranks themselves and hid behind the fact that he could never be angry at his sons, but it was hard when his car was redecorated to look like a tribute to Flash and Green Lantern. Looking back, Dick might have been more interest in Wally than the two heroes, but that was still not enough of a reason to let him visit Central City.

Oliver introduced himself during a charity function, getting just tipsy enough to have the boys laughing throughout the entire night. Bruce was sure there were some jokes that went over Tim’s head, but nonetheless the boy giggles along.

Arthur told them stories about Atlantis and his job as the king, never forgetting to mention just how strong he was or the scary creatures that lurked beneath the sea. There were some parts that didn’t seem to plausible for Bruce, but he wasn’t able to prove any lies.

With Dick at twenty and Tim at fifteen, he couldn’t help but lean back and marvel at how beautifully the two had grown. The questions had stopped for the most part, but the long nights in the cave were something Bruce couldn’t imagine living without.

Even with his night job, Dick was a respected officer, one of the few good ones in Gotham. People trusted him in his uniform and as Nightwing, something very few heroes are able to accomplish. He and Wally had been dating for three years and if he was half as good of a detective as he thought, the two were about to be more than boyfriends soon. Bruce knew he should have come up with some reasons to keep the speedster away from his little boy.

Dick had a charm that rubbed off on everyone who had the honor of meeting him and he remained as committed to his friends and family as ever.

Tim was one of the smartest people Bruce had ever meet, going toe to toe with some of the biggest villains in Gotham. He had taken an interest in Wayne Enterprises, helping Bruce forge some paperwork and ‘interning’ to make sure there wasn’t anything he was missing when he went out of town for a mission. There were many people who saw him as one of Gotham’s future leaders, someone who was going to be a hero at all times of the day. Despite everything Bruce had learned dealing with Wally and Dick, Bruce couldn’t keep the Kent boy far from Tim for too long. There was some romance blooming at only Alfred’s cold stares broke him away from his ideas of stopping it before it got too serious.

Tim was still growing, but if his current self was any indication, he was going to be a dedicated hero with one of the largest hearts Bruce had ever seen.

Finished peeling off the kevlar armor and smell of Gotham’s underground, Bruce looked up to see two identical eyes staring back at him. Their cobalt blue irises shone with enough amusement and liveliness to envy anything Bruce had ever seen. Sparing a small look to the other and then forming almost identical smirks, the two asked, “Did we do well?”

He shifted in his seat smiled a little unsure about the question. He wouldn’t put it past them to be using this as a diversion for a prank. “You did very well. You always do”

Fingering the mask in his hands with a serene smile on his face, Dick asked, “Do you remember how we used to ask you a ton of questions, anything that could cross our minds.” Bruce smiled at the memories, wishing the boys were still dependent on him and quickly washing away the thought with guilt. “I remember being amazed with just how much you knew, how you could answer everything that came to our attention. You were never impatient, always the kindest person in the world. And every time we asked why you did all this, you answered because you loved us.”

Taking over for his brother, Tim leaned closer and with his far too blue eyes lock onto his, asked, “Why do you love us?”

Sitting in the silence, many possibilities ran through his head. He could say it was because they were his sons, he could say it was impossible to find someone who didn’t love them, and he could say it was because they reminded him of the person he wanted to be. It wouldn’t be hard to tell them any of this, but they were all lies.

He loved the two for absolutely no reason.

For the first time in his life, Bruce admitted, “I don’t know.”

The answer caught both of them off guard, but not before Dick could chuckle, “Well, I guess we finally found a question you don’t know the answer to.”

Bruce agreed, but added, “I guess so, but I hope I didn’t disappoint you. It wouldn’t do well for a father to disappoint his sons.”

Not skipping a beat, Tim sincerely added, “You could never disappoint us. It’s never happened and it never will.”

Not trying to hide the slight confusion on his face, Bruce practically blurted out, “Why?”

And Bruce’s heart practically stood still while the two leaned in to kiss a side of his cheek and declare, “Because we love you, Dad.”

There was nothing Bruce could do to hide the heat rising to his cheeks or forget the satisfied expression of the boys faces, as if they were proud of the reaction they had extracted out of him. As soon as he was alone again, almost a full day later as the boys decided they once again wanted to sleep with their dad, he rushed to the cave and reviewed the moment. He must have heard those five words a thousand times, memorized how it looked to have boys kissing his cheeks, before he saved the recording in a dozen different places. There was a flash card he burned the file on, one he promised himself to never lose.

Falling asleep in his bed, Bruce couldn’t stop the smile forming at the edges of his lips.

Because his sons loved him.


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