Disclaimer: The characters in this story belong to DC Comics and Time Warner. I am making no money from them. I'm not even following their current characterizations and I've never seen this in the comics, but I thought it would be cute. No toys were harmed in the production of this fanfiction.
The Most Toys
Bruce Wayne was out of his element. This in itself was unusual. As Bruce Wayne he was well-educated, powerful, handsome, and quite at home in a boardroom, party, restaurant, museum, theatre or even, it has been whispered, the boudoirs of several of Gotham's prettiest socialites. As Batman, he was dark, dangerous, righteous, and equally at home in police stations, dark alleys, seedy dives, and, of course, in his own dark cave.
But today, he was in none of those places. He was walking through O.A.F. Weiss, picking up toys as he wandered, talking on a hi-tech cell phone to Lucius Fox. That may have been his first mistake.
“Bruce? Are you even listening to me?” Lucius asked, only slightly annoyed with the CEO. He knew it was young Dick Grayson's first birthday since his parents had fallen to their deaths, and he knew Bruce was worried about making it special.
“No, not really,” Bruce admitted airily, and he was lying. He'd heard every word Lucius had said and filed them away in his photographic memory for later concern. “Do you think we should make toys, Lucius? We don't make any toys.”
“We make plenty of toys, Bruce,” Lucius told him. “Walk through the R&D department one day. We make lots of toys…expensive toys.”
“We make grown-up toys,” Bruce complained. “We don't make kid toys. I think we should make kid toys.”
“We'll talk about it later, Bruce,” Lucius suggested, knowing the wealthy executive would either forget about the idea by the next day or have an intricately devised plan that would increase Wayne profits by a ludicrous amount.
“Ok, Lucius,” Bruce agreed readily.
“Tell Dick I wished him a happy birthday.”
“I will…thanks, Lucius.”
“You're welcome, Bruce. Bye.”
Lucius cut the connection before Bruce had said goodbye, since he knew it would take the millionaire a while to actually get around to saying the words.
That was fine with Bruce, who simply pressed the speed dial number for the mansion.
“Hi, uh Alfred,” Bruce said, tripping over an inflatable clown punching bag which wobbled cheerfully from the contact.
“Alfred, I'm in O.A.F. Weiss and I'm trying to figure out what to get Dick for his birthday. So, um…has he told you what he wants?”
“I believe he mentioned a desire for you to get home in time for dinner tonight.”
“No, I mean for his birthday!”
“Ahhh. I see.”
“Yeah…it's his first birthday since his parents died, and I want to get him something special.” A discordant jumble of notes punctuated Bruce's last words. He looked down to find himself standing on a giant floor piano. He vaguely remembered a movie in which the hero played Chopsticks on such a toy with his boss, but after firing the shrill old piano teacher immediately after his parents' deaths he was quite sure he wouldn't be up to such a performance. Bruce looked hastily around for any WayneCorps employees who might be hanging around, and then backed away from the piano. “Hey, you don't think Dick would want a great big floor piano, do you?” he asked the older man on the other end of the phone.
“I'm sure Master Dick would enjoy such a thing a great deal,” Alfred said dryly. “Unfortunately, I do not believe Wayne Manor is a suitable place for such a thing.”
“He can keep it in his room,” Bruce suggested, rounding the corner of the thing in search of a price tag.
“Let me rephrase, sir.” Alfred cleared his throat. “There is no possibility of my allowing such a thing to enter the mansion.”
“Got it,” Bruce sighed, walking away from the piano.
“Perhaps if you took some time off. Spent the day with him. He does seem rather lonely, and I am afraid that I'm not as young as I used to be.”
“A whole day?” Bruce asked, reluctant to be away from the office for so long. He rounded a tower of plastic bugs that transformed into robots and was nearly decapitated by a small child swinging a huge plastic sword. “Whoa, there, cowboy,” he protested, fending the blade off with one forearm.
“I'm not a cowboy, I'm a Space Ranger!” the small, freckled child announced loudly, before running off.
“I'm glad Dick's not a brat,” Bruce sighed into the phone. He saw a sturdy-looking plastic box and gratefully sat down.
“Master Dick is admirably well behaved,” Alfred agreed. “Except for a few habits I suspect he picked up from his surrogate father.”
“Huh? Me?” The box lurched under Bruce and he looked down, only to realize that he had sat down on the engine of an oversized train set, which had begun to travel around its track.
“I'd suggest, sir,” Alfred continued, oblivious to Bruce's plight, “that the best present you could possibly bestow upon young Master Dick is your presence at dinner tonight. When you do not show, he tends to…brood.” He said the last as if it was enclosed in nearly visible quotation marks.
“You say that like he learned it from me,” Bruce protested, lifting his feet to avoid getting run over by the train on the opposing track. Dick had been a natural brooder, though his association with the last surviving Wayne had perfected his technique, Bruce thought smugly. “I'll be home for dinner. Don't worry.” With that, he cut the connection and looked up at all the tiny faces staring in amazement at the grownup riding the plastic train. Bruce stood up, straightened his tie, and strode regally out the door and into his waiting Jaguar.
“You're home!” Newly-ten-year-old Dick Grayson slid down the banister, scampered across the foyer, and threw himself into Bruce's arms.
“Hey, chum,” Bruce greeted him, lifting the boy onto his shoulders. “How was your day?”
“It was ok,” Dick said, obviously not enraptured with the daily routine of Gotham Prep and Wayne Manor. “What'd you do?”
“Oh, the usual,” Bruce replied, depositing his briefcase in the main hallway and invading the kitchen, Dick hanging onto his head. “Sat in a bunch of boring meetings, made a whole bunch of phone calls…what's for dinner, Alfred?”
“Well, for Master Dick's tenth birthday, I thought I would make his favorite--frankfurters.”
“Wieners,” Dick corrected, as only a true circus boy can.
“In this house,” Alfred informed him, “they are referred to as frankfurters.”
“Wieners,” Dick said once more, for effect.
“Tenth birthday?” Bruce echoed, diffusing the building tensions. “You're ten already?”
“Yup.” Dick nodded, his face carefully guarded. Had Bruce forgotten his birthday?
“Good Lord, you're in the double digits, man!” Bruce exclaimed. “You'd better start looking for gray hairs!”
“Or no hair,” Alfred put in, “which is what happens when one is not allowed to properly complete the preparation of a meal.”
“I think that's a hint for us to go wash up and get changed into dinner clothes, chum” Bruce suggested, exiting the kitchen with his head ornament, and starting up the stairs. He carried Dick to the top of the stairs and then lifted him off his shoulders and down to the ground, reminding him to scrub behind his ears, because Alfred would check. Then, he went to confirm some plans.
Normally the possessor of an unparalleled appetite, Dick Grayson was still picking at his frankfurter when Bruce set down his fork and leaned back in his chair. He allowed Alfred to take his plate, then feigned a yawn and patted his stomach, manners Alfred would certainly frown upon were he able to observe them.
“Better eat up, chum,” he suggested. “We're going to be late.”
“Late?” Dick looked up at him questioningly. “What are we going to be late for?”
“Your birthday surprise, of course,” Bruce said, smiling. “You didn't think I'd forgotten, did you?” He leaned forward, suddenly, and ruffled Dick's hair. “Clark will be here in a few minutes, and you'll want to wear jeans,” he suggested. “Eat up.”
Dick finished his frankfurter in record time and was upstairs before Alfred even removed the plate from the table. The elderly gentleman started to admonish him, but Bruce stopped him.
“Give him a break for tonight,” he suggested. “I've been teasing him.”
“Very well, sir,” Alfred acquiesced. “You know best,” he added in a tone that implied Bruce certainly had no idea what he was doing. The doorbell saved Bruce from any further embarrassment. “I'll be getting that,” Alfred informed him.
“It's Clark,” Bruce told Alfred's back. Then, he followed Dick upstairs to find a pair of jeans and a sweater.
“Uncle Clark!” Dick bellowed, as he slid down the banister for the second time that night.
“Well, if it isn't Dick Grayson!” Clark picked up his small 'nephew' and hugged him gently. “How've you been, kiddo?”
“Great! And Bruce put up a trapeze in the you-know-where and I've been teaching him how to do all kinds of stuff! And he taught me how to throw someone over my head, and I've grown two more inches, and Alfred had to make me a new you-know-what, and…”
Clark listened to Dick talk at superspeed until Bruce came downstairs.
“Clark, thanks for coming!” he said, clapping the other man on the shoulder. “I had a favor to ask.”
“Anything Bruce,” Clark said easily, already knowing what that favor was.
“Well, you see,” Bruce explained, “I heard Haly's Circus was in Metropolis and I thought maybe Dick would like to go see Pop Haly and all his old friends, since today is his birthday.” He tried to hide a smile as Dick eyes grew to saucer size. “But Metropolis is pretty far away and I didn't want Dick to miss anything, so I was wondering if you'd fly him to Metropolis and I'll meet you both there.”
“Sure thing,” Clark agreed, taking the tickets Bruce handed him. “I hear the Big Top show is so good, you shouldn't miss a second of it. Ready to go, Dick? We don't want to be late.”
“Wow! We're going to fly!” Dick was beside himself with excitement. “This is so cool! Bruce! Did you hear that?” he questioned anxiously, as if Bruce hadn't just set the whole thing up. “I'm going to fly to Metropolis with Uncle Clark!”
“I heard,” Bruce answered, smiling, although deep inside, he was slightly envious at the boy's attachment to the other superhero. Superman pajamas were one thing, he thought jealously, but do you have to like his alter-ego better, too? “Better get a move on,” he told him instead.
“Ok!” Dick and Clark were nearly out the door when Dick paused and turned back to Bruce. “Aren't you coming, too?”
“I'm going to follow in the car,” Bruce told him. “So we can drive home. You go on with Clark and I'll meet you there.”
“Ok.” Dick looked at him for a moment and then waved. “See ya there.”
Bruce waved back and with a slight sigh, went to look for his keys.
The time crunch was a bluff to allow Dick the treat of flying with Clark and Bruce was able to meet them before the show actually started.
“Did I miss anything?” he asked as he found his seat beside Dick.
“Pop Haly let me ride Elinore in the parade!” Dick told him excitedly. “And we got to see Miranda and her parents, and Jacques, and Harry the Clown, and--oh, look Bruce, cotton candy! Can we get some? I haven't had ANY since I was back here, please?”
Bruce laughed and reached for his wallet. “I think we can manage that,” he agreed, flagging the vendor. “Clark? You want some?” He paused when he realized Clark was listening to something much further away.
“I'm sorry, Bruce, I've got to get going,” he said hurriedly. “Dick, it was great flying with you! I'll come by and visit you soon, ok?”
“Do you want a hand?” Bruce asked in a low voice.
“No,” Clark said, already focused on his Superman duties. “I can handle it and it's Dick's birthday.”
“All right,” Bruce agreed, albeit somewhat grudgingly. He let Clark by him, then paid for two cotton candies and handed one to Dick. “I…I'm sorry Clark had to go,” Bruce said, looking at the pink froth before him and wondered how to eat it without making a complete mess of himself.
“That's ok,” Dick replied, already covered with spun sugar. “You're here, now.”
And Bruce had to smile.
Dick had a grand time watching the show from the stands, playing with all his old friends afterward, and eating more junk food than Alfred would allow all week. Bruce knew he was spoiling him and decided that it would be ok, just for one night.
“So did you have fun tonight, chum?” he asked Dick as they walked back to where Bruce had parked the car. Well, Bruce was walking. Dick, once again, rode on Bruce's shoulders.
“It was great, Bruce,” Dick answered with a yawn. “I got to fly and I got to see my friends…and…”
“And what, kiddo?” Bruce asked, tucking Dick into his seat in the convertible Jaguar.
“I'm glad you got to come, too,” he said sleepily. “Since Mom and Dad couldn't.”
“Yeah.” Bruce was silent as the car sped them back to Gotham. “About that…”
“Hi Mom, hi Dad.” Dick Grayson carefully placed the roses Bruce had given him at the foot of his parents' grave. “Bruce says that you're watching over me and that you can hear me. He said to give you the flowers. Um…I'm ten today. I'm a big boy, now. I don't cry anymore. Well…” Dick thought back to a few nights alone in his huge, dark room. “…almost never. You'd be proud of me. I'm going to be a superhero. Just like Bruce and Uncle Clark. Living with Bruce is ok. I wish he were around like you guys were, but he has a big company and lots of boring work to do there. I got to go, once. It was big and noisy, but his secretary was nice. She gave me cookies. He calls me son sometimes, but mostly he calls me chum. Um…Dad? You wouldn't mind if I called him Dad sometimes, do you? Just every once in a while? I mean, you'll always be my dad…but I want Bruce to be my family, too.” A warm spring breeze blew around him, pushing that stubborn cowlick away from his forehead and hugging him, just like his mother had once done. “Does that mean it's ok?” Dick asked the cold, gray stone. “I think you'd like him if you could meet him.” He cast a look over his shoulder to where the topic of the conversation was waiting patiently, several yards away. “I gotta go, now,” Dick whispered. “But I love you. I love you lots and lots, and I wish you were still alive.” He cast one look back at the stone and then walked over to Bruce.
“All set, chum?” he asked.
“Yup,” Dick nodded, taking Bruce's hand. “Bruce?”
“What's up, chum?”
“Can I sleep late tomorrow?”
“How about we both sleep late?” Bruce suggested. “And then we'll get Alfred to make us a big pile of buckwheat pancakes for breakfast and pack a picnic lunch and we'll go to the park for the day.”
“The whole day?” Dick asked.
“The whole day,” Bruce assured him. “A bunch of boring meetings or spending the day with you? That's no choice. No choice at all.”