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New Suits, Old Patterns

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“So, what do you think?” he asked, raising his arms to do a little twirl.

Bruce sighed at his antics as if fun was banned from the cave once again. After just a few weeks as Batman, the weight of the world seemed to crush him more than ever. Dick kept the smile on his lips instead of offering help or asking if he was alright. He would not get honest responses to either. 

This was the Bruce he knew. Even though Dick had tried to be happy that he could live a normal life, he had never taken to the idea like Alfred had. Bruce was Batman, Bruce was not normal.

But perhaps he had been able to preserve some of the happiness and ease he had felt in the months, free of his own curse. Dick hoped he had. 

“It’s good,” Bruce said slowly, taking a small step forward before finally sliding closer to touch his shoulder, following the stylized wing for a short moment “Why blue?”

Just one small question and Dick went from a forced smile to soft. He touched the bird head on his chest, proud of the little detail.

“When I stepped out into the world as Nightwing for the first time the colour gave me strength, made me feel independent.”

“Then why did you choose red afterwards?”

The tone was too harsh as if speaking out the word independent was still hurtful after all those years. Dick ignored it.

“Because we all tried to be red and after my tenure as Batman I felt obliged to wear it,” Dick admitted, “But this is a new start and I want to be the purest me I can be.”

Bruce hummed, still looking a bit grumpy and took one of the gloved hands in his to analyse the material, stroking over the sensors and spreading the black-clad fingers. Dick shook his head at the throughout examination, his smile softening to tenderness.

“More sensors than in the old one, do you even have some in the lenses?”

“Yeah,” Dick confirmed and answered in one, biting his lip to keep a smile at bay, “Tiger and Helena helped me get access to the technology Spyral preserved. I integrated some of it into the suit. While I might not like to manipulate one's mind, the technology is good for a lot of other things.”

He grinned cheekily.

“And it’s miles above yours.”

Bruce huffed in offence.

“But only because it’s alien in nature.”

“Suck-Up” Bruce retorted but his lips twitched and he squeezed his hand before letting go. Dick only grinned wider while Bruce walked back to the console of the Bat-computer to activate standby.

“You know,” he begun, pulling his gloves off again, “the Lumberjack style you adopted had something.”

“It leaves DNA evidence,” was the immolate answer and Dick raised his eyebrows in amusement, laughing.

“You are unbelievable. There are enough heroes with beards. Last I heard even Clark has one now and Oliver Queen as well.”

Bruce grunted, “I will let Superman slide but don’t compare me to the green menace.”

“Come on. Ollie Queeny is not that bad,” Dick said and then frowned, “well, except when Roy is talking about him.”

“I won’t discuss that with you.”

And he grows defensive again,” he sighed dramatically, falling back against the glass case with a hand on his chest. 

Bruce glared at him but did not argue, starting to slip out of the costume as well.

“You staying?” Bruce asked when he made no move back or forth, watching the familiar body and another grin built on his face when Bruce stepped out with his GL boxers on. If only Hal knew, oh if only he knew.

“Still don’t have money.”

“You know my money is yours.”

Dick snorted, pushing away from the glass case.

“Bruce. You are a billionaire, I get that but how many of us are currently depending on you? We are not stray cats you have to feed forever.”

Bruce pressed his lips together but nodded, slipping into casual wear.

“Technically most of them have their own money. It’s really just you who is a total slob.”

“Hey!”

“Master Bruce is quite right,” greeted Alfred, handing him his own set of clothes.

“That’s just not fair. It’s not as if I chose to be caught and send onto an undercover mission.”

“You didn’t protest when I sent you.”

“Excuse me?” Dick asked, brows drawing together while he stripped out of his perfect new costume.

Bruce hesitated in his motion, betraying his guilt but the emotion vanished the second he turned around, staring at Dick’s crotch with a short glare, “Doesn’t this go a bit too far?”

He looked down at his Batman boxer briefs and shrugged. Midnighter had given them to him after he had supposedly moaned Batman in his sleep during their shared room in Russia – which was totally a lie but he hated arguing with his Nemesister, he always lost. He also really liked them but he had to be careful, otherwise, Bruce would realize that they were see-through on his backside.  

“You even say that when I wear Superman boxers, so stop complaining,” he shot back and quirked an eyebrow, “or do you want me to call Hal so desperately?”

Bruce sent him another glare and crossed his arms over his chest while he waited.

Dick grabbed the shirt in satisfaction, jeans already fitting smug to his skin.

“You have a date or time for me?” he asked, walking towards his mentor with a lightness he had not felt for a while.  

“Both, ” Bruce said and Dick looked at him dubiously a joke on the tip of his tongue but Bruce beat him to it, “How about scotch to loosen your tongue?”

“Treating me like your everyday girl, that’s not nice.”

Bruce smiled, their hands brushing when his former mentor slipped past him and Dick sighed, following him upstairs. Sometimes their joking took awkward turns and that was time to step back to gather up new strings. Dick was growing tired of it but he did not want to lose what they had so he sunk down onto the couch while Bruce poured them scotch.

“Is Duke doing alright?” he asked when he saw the red sweater with a still proud yellow R on it.

“Apart from his parents still being affected by the gas, yes,” Bruce responded and Dick could see that he was still struggling with the events, “He is helping a lot but like all of you, he thinks he already knows everything so I’m keeping him in the cave for now.”

Dick hummed, taking the alcohol from Bruce’s hand. His legs were pushed to the side when his former mentor settled down onto the couch as well.

“Bringing him into this fight was a good choice. He is smart; gets people to listen,” he delicately took the glass from Bruce, “Could turn out to be a great leader someday.”

Bruce smiled, taking another sip from his scotch and Dick placed his feet into his lap.

“I love it when you tell me I make the right choice.”

“God,” Dick scoffed, “Here I thought I was praising Duke and not stroking your ego.”

“You did both.”

Dick slapped him lightly and Bruce smiled at him, hand squeezing Dick’s knee. It made him nearly giddy to see him like this. After Damian had died he had never thought Bruce would ever smile again and then he had been gone. But here he was, despite all the problems he was enjoying life instead of sinking into his own shadow.

“You already gave him a costume didn’t you?”

“I can’t let him sneak out in that awfully non-protective Robin sweater.” 

“You’re such a dad.”

Some things never changed.