It was Batman's monthly day off, and Bruce was, for once, not being pissy about it, probably due to the fact that he got to play with baby Terry for the whole day while his kids sweated it out on the field.
Bruce loved being a grandfather. It meant that he could finally wear the oversized jumpers that Clark always makes him for Christmas, and sit in the rocking chair by the fire without Jason guffawing about his old age and rickety joints, and Damian becoming paranoid and asking if he should reserve the Lazarus Pit, just in case.
Bruce was only forty-five. Sometimes, he wondered whether it was too soon, or hillbilly, to be a grandfather so young. But then one look at a warbling Terry would chase all of those insecurites away, and Bruce would become the ultimate grandpa that he was born to be.
Now, Bruce found himself reclining on the plush sofa by the crackling fire, Terry balanced on his tummy like an otter pup. Bruce hummed contentedly, the rumbling disturbing little Terry from his sleep. Instead of crying, however, the baby looked up and gave Bruce a gummy smile, channeling his fathers' everpresent happy dispositions.
Bruce quickly looked around, and seeing that he was alone, cooed at Terry, who cooed back. Bruce's batty little heart warmed up, and he bounced Terry on his stomach by flexing it rapidly. Terry burst into giggles and flailed happily. Bruce placed a large hand over his grandson and hummed.
"You know, Terrykins, your father likes hugs too," Bruce rumbled. "Sometimes, its annoying," he confided, "but on the whole, I'd rather have the hugs than not. Hugs are magical, you know, especially Dick's. It's as though he absorbs all of your stress and hurt, and it just diffuses out of his pores."
"Hmm, yes, pores," Bruce enunciated. "We'll have you soliloquizing Shakespeare in no time, my little smartie."
Bruce lapsed into a happy, contented, silence and flicked on the television to see a breaking news report on Nightwing and Robin tackling and tranquilizing Bane and his henchmen, while Red Hood and Red Robin - little pyromaniacs that they were - exploded the villain's hideout. In the shadow cast by a spectacular fireball, they giggled and high-fived each other like the delinquients that they were.
Just then, Comissioner Gordon and his forces arrived on the scene, and spotted the boys. "Bats! The GCPD has arrived! Cease your vigilante activities-"
Dick waved cheerfully at Gordon.
"Nightwing, hello. Could you please report to the GCPD-"
Suddenly, Black Bat and Batgirl popped up, and threw a series of smoke pellets, forming a barrier between the GCPD and the Bats.
"The coppers are here!" Jason cried. "Cheese it!" He hefted Dick into a shoulder carry and ran off, while Tim hefted Damian up.
"His little legs are useless!" Tim screamed, even as Damian flailed. Cassandra swooped down on them, and carried Tim and Damian off. By the time the smoke had cleared, there was only a group of feebly stirring villains and some very confused GCPD officers left.
Comissioner Gordon, fully intending to bring up Jason's delinquiency over Saturday lunch, shook his head tiredly.
"...and the Bats have saved Gotham once more," the reporter was saying. "We now aproach Comissioner Gordon for an exclusive report. Mr Gordon, what are your feelings towards this generation of vigilantes?"
Gordon sighed, and willed his retirement to just kick in, already.
Back in the warmth of his sofa crease, Bruce snickered. Another generation, and no Bat would give Gordon the time of the day whilst on duty. Even Barbara held true to this unspoken rule, when Gordon once tried to speak to the Oracle. A proud tradition to carry forward.
Bruce hadn't realized when his eyes started to droop, but was gently roused by Alfred with a tap to the top of his head.
"It is the height of impropriety to sleep on the sofa, Master Bruce. To the bedroom with you and Terrence."
"Jason often dozes on the rug," Bruce tattled.
Bruce waddled upstairs, and put a dozing Terrence down beside him. "You're a lucky little boy, Terry Berry," Bruce hummed as he changed into his nightclothes. "You have the best parents, and a bunch of kooky uncles and aunts. Yes, that includes Stephanie," Bruce whispered conspiratorially. "But don't tell her, it'll just make her head big."
Terry gave an adorable yawn, and snuggled deeper into his swaddle. Bruce lay down next to the baby and patted him gently. "You're so small," Bruce marvelled. "You're just as big as both of my hands. I wonder how tall you'll get. Will you be as big as Uncle Jason, or as small as your Uncle Damian? Wait, no, that's unfair, Damian hasn't had a growth spurt yet." Bruce celared his throat and tried again. "Will you be as big as Uncle Jason or as small as Uncle Timmy?"
Terry opened one eye and peered at Bruce questioningly. Bruce was enraptured by the bright blue shade, so reminiscent of his own mother's. Huh. Maybe Tim was right about that genetic drift thing, about no one wanting to move to Gotham because it was a miserable place, and thus isolating their gene pool.
Bruce had brought up that Dick was not a native Gothamite, but was plently happy, so Gotham couldn't be quite so sad. Tim pointed out that Dick was a ridiculous person, and would probably be happy in a puddle. Bruce had remembered a tiny Dick, still a boy, happily splashing in a puddle during a rainstorm, and smiled goofily. This, of course, led Tim to theorize loudly that perhaps the gene for early onset senilty was present in high amounts in the restrictive the Gotham genepool.
This, of course, led to Damian descending into hysterical tears that 'father was losing his mind'.
Tim was grounded for a week.
Bruce grinned as he remembered barring Tim from seeing Kon for a week, and Tim staring thirstily out of the window while Kon danced around fruitlessly outside the kyrptonite infused electric fence surrounding the manor. Bruce had indulged himself, and gone to the terrace, where he stared down at Kon-El with great stoicism, and just a hint of glee.
No horny Kryptonians around his Timmy Boy today, no sir.
But back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Bruce snuggled in next to Teddy, and shared a warm smile with his grandson. This was all that he ever wanted, he mused sleepily. Peace, quiet, and his family safe and happy around him. He could now die a happy man, Bruce thought slightly morbidly.
Except no, Dick was going to give him more grandkids, and he had to stick around for that.
Jason would not be far behind, and Tim...no, he would spare his sanity this once.
Bruce had to live to see Damian become a master sorcerer and a veterinarian and Batman, because he was the only one of his kids that actually wanted the role.
Cass was going to dance as prima ballerina, and make Gotham hold its breath as she flowed across the stage. She would make Bruce cry tears of joy and pride, and Bruce was going to live for it.
Bruce was going to live for Terry, who was going to grow up and have Dick's kindness, his smile, Wally's weirdness, Damian's ruthlessness, and Bruce's eyes.
The world stopped.
Bruce looked down at the baby gnawing the blanket, completely unknowing that his grandpa was having the worst kind of epiphany.
Terry had Bruce's eyes. He had Martha Wayne's eyes. Bruce gulped and gently picked the baby up. He peered closely at Terry and saw - yes, there it was - the Wayne chin. Bruce registered his hands shaking, his fingers cold and clammy.
Could it be? What would he do? Did it matter?
Terry, as though sensing his turmoil, turned and decisively grabbed Bruce's nose. It was a big one, difficult to miss, but still a great feat of precision and dexterity for a five month old baby.
Bruce smiled, his worries melting away. "Oh, look Terrykins," he smiled, "you've got grandpa's big ol' nose."
Terry giggled, and drew Bruce into laughter as well. And just like that, everything was fine again.
Bruce woke up the next morning to greet his children returning from patrol in the wee hours. Bruce stared imperiously at his kids, holding Terry snug in his arms. "You're late," Bruce said archly.
"Lae," Terry piped up.
"Baby Terry judges you," Bruce added, bouncing his grandchild seriously.
Dick swaned over and relieved Bruce of the baby. "We spotted the penguin and followed him," Dick explained in between blowing rasperries onto Terry's tiny tummy. "Good thing we did too."
"That cow's taint was going to detonate a building full of people to claim insurance," Jason said. "Dick threw him into the sewer."
"I let Killer Croc know that there was fresh meat," Tim said proudly.
"He didn't try to eat you?" Bruce asked.
"No, he says I'd be too gamey. But what're you doing down here so early?"
Bruce thought fast. "I'm updating the kryptonite barriers."
"Bruce, no! I haven't seen Kon in two weeks!"
"Don't think that I am unaware about your twilight abductions to the Kent Farm, young man," Bruce rumbled.
Tim gasped. "B-but how did you know?"
Bruce smirked. "You may be smart, Tim, but I am your father."
Tim wailed and flung himself into a startled Jason's arms, who lugged him upstairs exasperatedly. Damian bounced. "Father, may I help you update the barriers?"
Bruce smiled indulgently. "Perhaps later, Damian. You did good work tonight. Why don't you help Dick put Terry down for a nap?"
His uncle-instincts stirred, Damian strode off to find 'the superior cashmere blanket' to swaddle Terry, while Dick went along good naturedly. "Don't stay down here too long Bruce," Dick said. "It'll be breakfast time in a few hours. Make sure that you get your sleep."
Bruce accepted a small smoochie to his cheek and grunted. "Goodnight, Dick. Get some sleep." And then Bruce got down to work.
So engrossed was he, running Terry's little wispy hair for DNA extraction, then that DNA through the machine, that he failed to notice Jason behind him, watching the process with a horrified and disgusted look in his flint like eyes.
"Paternity matched," Jason's voice rang out hoarsely, making Bruce jump, and then quail in horror. Jason had seen. Jason knew. "Bruce. What the hell?"
"Jason, its not what it looks like," Bruce tried.
Jason shook his head. "You ran Terry's DNA against yours?" He asked, disbelieving. "Are you really that deranged in your need to take children for your batty little empire that you'd claim Terry?"
"Bruce, I swear to god," Jason said, sounding steadily more hysterical, "that if you do anything, say anything, then I'll kill you."
That gave Bruce pause. "What?"
In response, Jason drew out a concealed firearm. "I'll shoot you, I swear to god. Don't you dare try and take Terry away from Dick, it'll ruin him. And I won't stand by and see Dick fall apart over this, I don't care about anything else." Jason leveled his gun at Bruce's leg, and Bruce, taking the hint, ran like a rabbit and jumped behind the Batmobile.
"Jason Peter, you put that gun away right now!" Bruce yelled.
"Swear it first," Jason said, coming around the side of the car. "Swear that you won't take Terry away from Dick."
"Jason Wayne, you are in so much trouble-"
"It'll kill him, Bruce," Jason said brusquely. "And I won't sit by and watch when Dick finally lets the grief kill him, I won't do it!" He screamed. "He already lost Damian to you, I won't let you take Terry from him as well!"
"Jason, for the love of god!" Bruce yelled, now distinctly panicked. "I wasn't going to do it!"
Jason stopped. Considered. Then lowered the gun. "Really?"
Bruce poked his head out from behind the Batcomputer. "Of course not, don't be daft! I just..." Bruce hesitated. "I needed to know."
"Who cares?" Jason yelled. "Who cares about who Terry is-"
"Not who, you imbecile, how!" Bruce yelled. "Terry can't be mine! I haven't-"
Jason stared. "You haven't what?"
Bruce cleared his throat. "Put that infernal gun away."
Jason shrugged and holstered the firearm. "Eh. It wasn't loaded anyway."
Bruce's eyes bugged out of his skull. "Jason Peter Wayne, you are grounded so much-"
"Why can't Terry be yours? The DNA is pretty indicative that he is, in fact, the baby of your loins."
Bruce shifted. "It's just...he can't."
He as going to regret this so much. "I've been having a bit of a dry spell," Bruce said quickly, unable to stop blushing.
Jason goggled. "Pardon you?"
Bruce sighed. "Terry is five months old, right? And it's April now. That means that he woud have had to be conceived in early March last year. And I wasn't...you know...active. Haven't been, for some time."
Jason was having the time of his life. "Excuse you, I musn't have heard right. You haven't had sex in fourteen months?"
Bruce groaned. "Well, I'd just come back from the time warp, and then things were wierd, and I wasn't exactly thinking about it-"
"Wait, wait, wait. Selina stayed the night last week. And the week before that! I heard you throught he walls, remember? I hammered on the wall with a broomstick because you were making randy old man noises!"
Bruce hadn't thought that his life would come to this. "We didn't have...that kind of sex."
"It wasn't penetrative sex?"
"N-no, it was," Bruce muttered, blushing.
There was silence. Then, "She pegged you?" Jason breathed.
Bruce groaned and collapsed into the chair. "She pegged you," Jason whispered again, and Bruce was sure that those words would haunt his nightmares forevermore. "But that still doesn't explain how Terry-"
"That's just it," Bruce grumbled. "There's no way that I, and Selina, exchanged fluids. It's not possible."
"But then, baby."
"Exactly. Baby," Bruce said somberly. "And I'm monogamous. It's only ever been her, at least for the past few years."
Jason whistled. "Damn, Bruce, you're a romantic."
"No, just not a fan of gonorrhea."
They contemplated the situation in silence for a while, as the printer spat out the genetic test report. Quick as a flash, Jason grabbed it and held it out to Bruce. "Do the honours, old man."
Bruce grunted and reached for the lighter and watched with satisfaction as he set the paper on fire, effectively burning away the only proof of Terry's blood parentage. Dick and Wally were Terry's parents, as far as he was concerned, and it would stay that way. Jason nodded, grinned, and then slapped Bruce jovially on the shoulder. "Good on ya, old mold," he said, before turning around and going back upstairs. Then, he stopped. Bruce tensed, ready to jump behind the Batcomputer again. Jason turned. "Hey Bruce?"
"Ye-es?" Bruce asked hesitantly.
Jason rolled his eyes. "Unclench, dude, I wouldn't kill you," he reassured his father. "Just...I had an idea."
Bruce stilled. "About Terry?"
"No, about a ham sandwich. Of course Terry."
Bruce stood. "What are you thinking?"
Jason shifted. "Well, remember a while ago, we ran into that lady at C.A.D.M.U.S.? She was pretty impressed by you."
"I've never slept with Amanda Waller."
Jason shuddered. "Oh god, no, she would absolutely crush your balls in her bare hands. But I was talking about how we met her. It was after a battle, remember? And you were bleeding. And logically, only C.A.D.M.U.S. really has the technology to re-engineer blood DNA back into stem cell DNA-"
"That's not true, I saw Tim's schematics for a stem cell lab-"
"Yeah, but Tim didn't make Terry, did he?"
Bruce fell silent. "Jason."
"Pull up Amanda Waller's files."
Jason grinned, as Bruce smiled back dourly.
"Ms Waller is going to have a sudden houseguest or two."
Honestly, Amanda Waller had expected the Batman to show up at her house sooner rather than later. Only, she would have thought that he would have had the decency to do it when she wasn't in her hairnet and nightgown.
Still, she was a good hostess.
"I'll put the tea on, shall I?" She asked laconically, as Bruce loomed over her, with the Red Hood happily brandishing what appeared to be six guns at once. "Young man, how on earth are you doing that?"
"Gun within a gun within a gun," Jason replied proudly. "My hubby made it for me for Valentine's Day. I love him so much."
"Waller," Batman rumbled threateningly. "How dare you," he said, barely holding back his full rage. "How dare you violate my free will, my family's feelings like this! What gave you the right, you harridan!"
Walled sighed. "When I had started project Baby Bat," she said, "Bruce Wayne was dead. And the world needed another Batman."
"He was," Waller agreed, "and so was Mr. Todd-Wayne, here. They did an admirable job in the aftermath of losing you. But there needed to be a successor."
"-was too volatile at the time," Waller said. "I couldn't have predicted that he would become the hero he is today. So I took steps."
"You made Terry."
"Yes," she said simply.
"You put him in an orphanage."
"When you came back, it was unprecedented," Waller said. "But I had already started the project. It couldn't be stopped." She took a deep breath. "For a while, I thought to keep him, raise him as my own. And then, as luck would have it, Richard Wayne and his carrot top husband were loing to adopt."
Waller smiled widely. "It was really very simple after that. I sent Terry to live with his family."
Bruce was reeling. Internally, that is. The Batman does not reel.
"Who's his mom?" Jason asked. "Is it you?"
"Egads, no," Waller said. "It was a trusted agent. She perished in the line of fire some time ago. A good woman."
Bruce sagged visibly. Waller sighed heavliy and stood as the kettle screamed, and served up some tea. "Drink up, Wayne. You'll need your strength. Babies aren't easy, you know."
"My grandson," Bruce said. "Your twisted dreams of me raising the next Batman will never come to fruition."
"Oh, they will," Waller said lightly. "I have faith in Dick Grayson. Any child of his will be just fine. I misjudged him the first time, and I'm not fool enough to do it again."
"Damian is going to be Batman. Or so he says."
"Batman needs a Robin."
They sipped their tea in peace. Finally Bruce stood up to leave, taking the teacup with him. Waller started. "Bruce Wayne, that was my mother's good teaset, you put that back down."
"Like I'd leave any more DNA with you," Bruce huffed. "I'll sterilize it and then send it back."
"Good lord, man."
"No, I'm Batman."
And with that horrible pun, Batman and the Red Hood took to the skies.
When they got home, Dick was sitting on the sofa, feeding a sleepy Terry his bottle. He was leaning into Wally, who was already snoozing, tuckered out from patrol in Central City. "Fools," Bruce muttered affectionately, and draped a blanket over the little family.
Dick looked up and smiled at Jason, who had just followed Bruce in. "Little Wing, did you and Bruce just get back in? I'm so glad that you're spending time together!"
"Barf," Jason replied, and immediately snagged Terry, who squaled happily to go to his warm, hairy, happy Uncle Jay. "See you, Terry-pie and I are going to go and pump some iron. C'mon baby, let's go get swole."
"'Wole!" Terry echoed happily.
Now alone with only a sleeping Wally, Bruce watched Dick smooth his husband's hair back and then fold Terry's little socks and onesies that had come fresh out of the laundry, humming an old lullaby that was no doubt one that Dick's mother had once sung to him.
In a fit of emotion, Bruce leaned down and pressed a kiss to Dick's cheek. For his part, Dick looked a trifle shocked. Then, a smile the size of Canada bloomed on his face. "I love you, Bruce."
"And I love you, my little Robin."
"Did someone call for me?"
To Bruce's surprise, Damian's head popped out of the blankets, where he had been smushed into a small lump near Wally. Dick smiled at Bruce's surprise and petted Damian's head. "Nothing, Dami, you can go back to sleep."
"Hmm. Where is Terrence? I shall put him to bed."
"Jaybird took him down to the gym."
"Todd, that rogue," Damian grumbled. He poked Wally. "Wake up, Wallace."
Damian rolled his eyes. "Come, let us retire for the night. Sleeping on the sofa is so very unseemly."
"Alfred's been preaching to him," Bruce observed, as Damian waddled away with Wally.
Dick smiled. "Alfred is training Dami to be the perfect gentleman. Damian has been a very willing student. Where did you go tonight, Bruce?"
Bruce dithered. "Um. Intelligence gathering."
"Good," Dick said stoutly. "I'm glad that you and Little Wing are spending quality time together."
"Right," Bruce groused, still sore from being chased around his own cave under the threat of death. "Jason really loves you, you know."
Dick brightened. "And I love him to the moon and back!"
Down in the gym, Jason got a cramp as waves of love assailed him.
Upstairs, Bruce just stared at Dick and wondered if he had ever deserved him. In lieu of an emotional speech, Bruce said, "I brought a new onesie for Teddy."
"Ooh!" Dick clapped his hands, "let's see it!"
Bruce and Dick went upstairs, Where Wally was changing Terry's diaper while Damian offered critique on his technique.
"No, Wallace, powder his arse thoroughly, lest he be beset by diaper rash! Honestly, this sub-standard powder is no good - I shall ask mother to send me some of her most exclusive baby powder for the bum."
"Why," Wally asked, "would Talia still have your baby powder?"
"Mother is something of a nostalgic hoarder," Damian informed them. "Where did you think those gift onesies came from?"
"Those were yours?"
"Indeed," Damian confirmed.
"Aw, that's sweet, Dames."
Dick smiled indulgently and went to join the trio, leaving Bruce to observe the little family. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he had made the right decision. After all, what did blood matter in the face of love?
Jason had used the moment of reflection to sneak up behind Bruce and tickle his thick side. "I'm not ticklish," Bruce grunted.
"Oh my god, why did I think otherwise?" Jason grumbled, but quickly brightened. "Hey B-man."
"I'm really proud of you, y'know."
"Thank you," Bruce sniffed. "I have bought a porcelain 'World's Best Grandpa' mug in three different shades. I cannot risk that investment."
"Good on you. You know that Slade is also vying for the grandpa spot, right?"
"Grandpa Slade my foot," Bruce seethed. "Why is that man after my son?"
"Why is any middle aged man after Dick?"
Bruce paused. "Jason."
"Pull up Slade Wilson's files."
Bruce smirked at Jason's gleeful grin.
"We're going to pay Mr. Wilson a little visit."