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Author's note: This story is set in the Hypertime stream of Batman Year Three.

DEAR POP HALY…


Dear Pop Haly,

Hi! How are you? How's everyone there at the circus? I'm sorry that I haven't written you before now, but I've been really busy. A whole lot has happened to me. I wish I could tell you all of it but I can't, because then this letter would get too long. So I'll just tell you some of it.

You told me when they took me to St. Jude's that if I didn't like it there to write you a letter and you'd come get me and find some way to take me back to live with you. Even if you had to sic Gunther on the dumb old social workers. Sister Mary Elizabeth and everybody there were real nice, but I missed you guys so much that I had just about decided I was going to write you. But then they told me that this really rich guy wanted me to come live with him. I didn't understand why, at first, but the all the other kids said I was really lucky so I went.

They took me to this big house named Wayne Manor. I didn't even know houses had names except for the White House. The man who lives there is Bruce Wayne but he told me to call him Bruce. It turns out he was at the circus that night when Mom and Dad died. Plus his parents got killed when he was a little boy. They got shot by a robber coming home from a movie. Bruce was there too and saw it happen but he couldn't stop the robber. That's why he said he knew how I felt. I like Bruce a lot!

So I've been living here for a couple of months. It's a real big house. My room is almost as big as our whole trailer was. And there's a big library with about a million books in it and a whole gym right inside the house and it even has a pool! Bruce has been teaching me to swim better. He's also teaching me karate and fencing and all sorts of other stuff. I can't tell you all the other stuff because then this letter would get too long. But he set up a whole rig for me in the gym so I could keep practicing my flying. He even wanted me to teach him how! So far he's not great like Mom and Dad but he's gotten OK at catching. I made the triple last week with him and now we're working on the quad! Don't worry, we use a net, at least until Bruce gets better.

He's also got a butler named Alfred! I didn't think people really had butlers except on TV. Alfred's real nice too, though it's weird because he calls me "Master Dick." But he takes care of the whole house which is a real big job because it's a real big house. And he makes good cookies. I have bad dreams sometimes but when I do Alfred brings cookies and hot cocoa to my room. I like him too!

Bruce says I have to talk about what happened. I didn't want to at first because it still makes me cry but Bruce makes me. He's not mean about it though. He tells me stuff about his mom and dad too so that makes it easier. Also I have to go see this doctor every week and tell her what I've been doing and how I'm feeling. Her name's Dr. Leslie. I like her because she says I can tell her anything and not get in trouble for it. Even all the stuff I can't tell you right now because then this letter would get too long.

I still miss Mom and Dad and you and the circus lots. Dr. Leslie says that's normal but it's still real hard. Like last week when I was watching the news with Bruce. Actually Bruce was watching it and I was doing my homework on the floor. I guess you heard about the new law some people want them to make, didn't you? The one that says all flyers have to use nets. Some people even came here and wanted me to go to the capitol and testify for it but I didn't want to and Bruce said I didn't have to. But they went anyway and it came on the news. When they started to talk about it I started feeling sick like I was going to throw up even though I didn't. But the lady said something really stupid. She said, "This legislation is in response to a tragedy in Gotham City earlier this year where performers John and Mary Grayson fell to their deaths." They didn't fall! That crook guy cut the rope! I got real mad then. Bruce told me it was OK, but it wasn't! They had their pictures up there and everything so everybody would think Mom and Dad died because they made a dumb mistake when they didn't! I yelled that it wasn't OK and it wasn't fair and that she was a big liar for saying that and then I threw the remote at the TV! It cracked the screen clear across! Bruce got up and grabbed my arm and I thought he was going to yell at me but he just said real quiet, "Settle down, son." He'd never called me son before, just Dick. That made me even madder.

I kind of freaked out then, I guess. I yelled at Bruce not to call me son, because he wasn't my dad and I didn't want him to be my dad and that I hated him and his house and everything else! And I pushed him away and tried to hit him in the face! He told me to stop and grabbed my arms again, both of them this time, but I wouldn't stop fighting him. So he picked me up. I was kicking and yelling but Bruce's real strong so I couldn't get away. He carried me all the way through four different rooms to the study and shut the door.

I knew I was going to be in big trouble but I was so mad I didn't care anymore. Bruce had his arms around me so I couldn't hit him but I kicked and yelled and said a lot of those words Mom used to get mad at me for saying. I was yelling so loud I couldn't even hear what Bruce was saying at first. I thought he was telling me to be quiet but when I finally heard him he wasn't. He was telling me to yell! That I should scream as loud and long as I wanted to. To let it all out. So I did. I yelled and yelled until my throat was sore and my feet hurt from kicking on the floor. Bruce didn't let go of me, that whole time. Then I started crying and couldn't stop. At first I was crying just because of Mom and Dad and what the dumb newslady said but then I started to think about what I just did to the TV and I the mean things I said to Bruce and I got scared about that too. I didn't know what he would do to me. He's never given me a whipping or anything like that but I figured he'd at least yell at me good. And that he'd probably send me back to the orphanage. And then I really cried hard because I really didn't want to go back.

So I Iay there and I waited for him to get mad at me but he didn't. He just sat there on the floor and kept holding on to me. Then he turned me around and pushed my face against his shirt and started rubbing the back of my head. It reminded me of how Dad used to hold me and so then I cried even more.

I don't remember why I stopped but I did. Then Bruce carried me over to the sofa and sat down next to me and gave me his handkerchief to wipe my face. Alfred came in with cookies and a pot of cocoa. He acted just like nothing had happened which was weird because I'm fairly sure he heard. I mean it's a big house and everything but I was pretty loud. And Alfred notices almost everything. But all he said was "I'll see that you're not disturbed, sir" and he left.

Bruce gave me a cup of cocoa. It felt good on my throat but he didn't say anything. Finally I decided to just get it over with. I asked him if he was going to send me back to St. Jude's. He said no, not unless I wanted to go. I asked what was he going to do to me then and he said nothing, we'd just talk when I was ready. I felt even worse and almost started to cry again but I didn't. I told Bruce I was sorry. Then he pushed up his shirt sleeve and showed me this scar on his arm. He said when he was my age he put his fist through the stained glass window in the west wing drawing room and it cut his arm and he might have bled to death if Alfred hadn't been there! So a cracked TV screen really didn't matter much. That it was more important that I didn't hurt myself. He said sometimes things like this would hit me, when I wasn't expecting it, but I'd learn to handle it better when I got bigger. And until then he'd help me. But I had a home there now and he'd never send me away, no matter what.

I asked if that meant he was my new dad now. He said he knew he couldn't take my dad's place and he wasn't going to try to. But he could be my friend and my guardian, if I wanted him to be. I asked what a guardian was, really. I sort of knew but I was a little confused. He said it meant that I'd live with him, and and he'd take care of me. And that he would always be there if I needed someone to be like a father, even if it was just sometimes.

I asked if that meant I should call him Dad. He said that was up to me, that if I wanted to, he'd be honored, but he'd understand if I didn't. I didn't know quite what to say then, because I thought maybe I should. After all the things he's given me and the cool stuff he's taught me and everything. I can't even tell you all of the really cool stuff because then this letter would get too long. But then I thought of my real Dad and how I didn't really want another one and I wasn't sure what to do.

Then Bruce told me that when his parents died Dr. Leslie was his guardian. I hadn't known that before. He didn't move in with her or anything because he had Alfred here to take care of him, but even if he had, he didn't think he would have called her mother. And that he knew he could never have called any other man father. No matter how good a friend he was.

I thought about it a second and told him I didn't think I could either. He said that was fine. He said he wouldn't call me son again, either, if it was going to upset me. And that he hadn't been trying be my father when he said that, it was just something men sometimes called boys they cared about, even if they weren't their real sons. I said I knew that, that you used call me son sometimes, and so did the police when they were asking me all those questions about the man who cut the ropes. But it sounded different when he said it. Bruce said he understood that, too. So ever since then he's called me "chum" instead. I didn't even know what chum meant at first, but Alfred said it means friend. That's pretty neat, I guess.

Anyway, we have to go back to court in a few weeks to ask the judge to make me Bruce's ward, permanently. I don't think it's quite like being adopted but it's close. Bruce said his lawyers are going to contact you soon to testify because since you're the closest thing to family I have the judge is more likely to say yes if you think it's a good idea. I hope you do. I still miss the circus a lot and I hope I can come back and visit sometime, but I don't think I could ever go back to flying without my parents, at least not in the show. It's kind of like not being able to call anyone else Mom and Dad. But if I can't be back with them, I'd rather be here with Bruce than anywhere else. He and Alfred are real nice and I get to do all sorts of neat new things now. I can't tell you all of them because then this letter would get too long. But I stay really busy here which is good because it keeps me from missing everything quite as much.

So I hope I'll get to see you again soon, if you come to court with us. Tell everyone there I said hello and please give Elinore a big bag of peanuts and tell her they're from me. And scrub her back real good because she really likes that.

Love,      

Dick   

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Louise Freeman Davis.

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