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Batman's Sidekick, Bruce's Son

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Letting gravity pull him down into the chair, Batman pushed the cowl back from his forehead and sank down into the expensive cushion. The day had been unexpectedly disastrous, which coming from a man who was beat to a bloody pulp nightly was saying something. The simple training exercise had gone so wrong. He knew that it should not bother him, he really should be used to it by now everything that could go wrong would and did often. But he was a father and parental instincts didn't just evaporate when he put on the suit.

Robin was a veteran crime fighter. The boy could handle his own. Bruce had never asked Richard to join him; in fact he would have had to beat the boy off with a stick to keep him away. He excelled in being a masked vigilante, not that he didn't excel every where else, but this was his passion just as much as it was his adopted father's. He'd learned how to throw a batarang when most kids were learning to ride their bikes without training wheels. He had fought his first major criminal before he had lost all his baby teeth. Robin was making his nightly rounds as Batman's sidekick when most kids still had nightlights and bedtime stories. He trained more than he studied or hung out with other people his age. Batman pushed Robin harder so that one day when he wasn't around anymore, Robin could push himself to be faster, stronger, harder so he would always be one step ahead and safe.

So why had today bothered the Dark Knight so bad? What was it about the simulation that had struck him so deep? They were safe inside Mount Justice, surrounded by other League members with no threat from the outside or some crazed villain. Nothing there could have hurt Robin, could have hurt Richard, could have hurt his son. He had spent many hours ensuring that fact. That is what stung the most in the middle of what had been thought a safe haven, Robin's exercise could have turned toxic. When his brain activity had declined so quickly, Batman had feared the worst. He had heard of virtual simulations turning fatal before. The Matrix movie had gotten one thing right, if the mind believed the body dead then the body would die.

The single most frightening aspect of the entire thing was that Batman was completely helpless to do anything. He could only watch as Martian Manhunter fought for psychic dominance to save the Young Justice. His son's life hung in the balance and he couldn't punch some lowlife in the face to save him or blow something up or swoop in and rescue him. Running his hands through his hair, Bruce knew that sitting in the cave brooding would do him no good. It was over, everyone was safe. Richard was in his room, he was safe.

Slipping out of the suit and into some more comfortable clothes, the Dark Knight shut down the cave for the night. He was not in the mood to spend all night scouring the city, Arkham was full and secure for now. Coming back to the main level of the house, Bruce noted that Alfred had already retired for the evening. The house was dark, lonely. The Wayne heir could only imagine if his parents would have been proud of their son for doing what he did night after night, for dragging their grandson into the fight at so young an age. The silent walls seemed only to echo a negative response.

He found himself standing before Richard's door. Listening, Bruce could not hear anything, so he quietly stepped inside the darkened room. Richard's room was so much more colorful than the rest of the house. Lots of red, green and yellow decorated the furnishings and the walls were sky blue. It was a robin's nest. The boy himself was spread out in the middle of the bed trying to make his small frame fill the California king. Scattered around him were different electronic devices casting an eerie blue hue over his young face.

Quietly as if he were chasing down a criminal, Bruce made his way over to his son's side. It amazed him every time he saw Robin – really saw him. He was so small, yet fierce, but in his sleep he looked like an angel. And this angel had been sent to save Bruce from himself. It was easy to forget that Richard was only thirteen, but when Bruce watched him sleep the transformation was fascinating. He was a young boy who had the world at his feet. Tugging the comforter up around the sleeping teen, Bruce swept his wild ebony hair out of his eyes.

"You should be sleeping as well, sir." A quiet voice beseeched him from the door.

Smiling softly, Bruce kept his eyes on his ward. "Isn't it amazing how innocent he looks when he's sleeping?" The father took the gadgets off the bed and placed them on the desk before turning back to face Alfred.

With eyes that always had a knowing sparkle, Alfred nodded. "He is quite an amazing boy."

With fear in his eyes, Bruce looked at his mentor in the dim light. "The training exercise did not go as planned." He wanted to explain it to Alfred, to have the older man tell him everything was alright.

Alfred raised an eyebrow. "I have learned that not many things in life go according to plan and that what matters the most is how we adapt to the new plan." He watched the man he raised for a moment before taking his leave.

Before he could talk himself out of it, Bruce climbed into the bed taking his ward into his arms and held him tight. Batman's planned changed daily, but Robin knew how to adapt. Bruce had no plan that was until he met Richard. "I love you." Kissing the raven crown, Bruce whispered. Bruce wanted to lock Richard in his room until he was thirty, protect him from the outside world. He wanted to tuck Robin under his cape and keep him safe forever. But he couldn't do that, his son had started to spread his wings. It would not be long before he left the nest and he would not stop him. Everyone had to become their own person, but he would always be there for Richard when ever, where ever.

He held his son for a few more precious moments before he laid the boy back down and tucked him in once more. Feeling slightly more at ease, Bruce stood from the bed and turned to leave. "I love you too, Bruce." A sleepy voice murmured from under the covers before soft snores filled the room.

Smiling, which on Bruce was just a wide smirk, the Dark Knight left the youngster's room. Tonight he would sleep peacefully. Tomorrow would come and the Dynamic Duo would adapt to face it.