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DISCLAIMER: The following story is a non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe on the rights of DC, Warner Bros, Kid's WB, Bob Kane, Bruce Wayne, the Wayne Foundation or any other copyright holders that I might be unaware of. I make no claims on said copyrights, I merely put my fingers on a keyboard and posted the results. The universe continues to revolve.

Changes
by The Brat Queen

Characters: Dick and Barbara (trust me)
Rated: PG


Dick locked the door to his apartment, tossed his keys onto a nearby table then sat down noisily in a chair. In a moment he was on his feet again, pacing.

Dinner with Barbara hadn't gone as well as he had hoped.

He wasn't sure why he had bothered, only that he felt he had to. Not that he didn't want to, just that, well, it had worked better in his imagination than in reality.

Barbara was a great girl. Incredible. She had beauty enough to make the guys back in college drop their jaws and she had brains to match. And that, Dick felt, is what was really important in a woman. In a partner, for that matter. Men should be with good, intelligent women. Women who could be just as strong and capable as they. Not sniveling little bimbos like…

Well, enough to say Dick had had his fill of sniveling little bimbos running through the last place he'd lived in.

So, Barbara. Dick had liked her back when they first met - back when he was just a ward and she the Commissioner's daughter - and now… well Dick still felt the whole "Batgirl" thing was one of the stupider things she'd ever done but at least it saved him a lot of explanation about what he did with his free time. And she was good in a fight, if smug.

It was the latter part that was really getting on his nerves.

"You don't really want to be here," she'd said to him over dinner. She tapped her glass with her fork in idle boredom. "You haven't heard a word I said." She shook her head. "Dick sometimes I don't even know why I try talking with you."

"Look, Barbara -" he'd tried to respond but she cut him off with a raised hand.

"Dick, please. We both know how this is going. It's been like this ever since you came back. I never see you for weeks at a time, then you suddenly show up, want to be all friendly, I agree to go out with you and you spend the whole evening being quiet or moody."

Dick felt his teeth grit at that. Quiet and moody were two words he'd learned to truly dislike.

Barbara shook her head again. "To be honest, Dick, I think we need to stop kidding ourselves. You're a great friend and a good fighter but I don't think you and I are going to be having little costumed babies anytime soon." She rolled her eyes. "Not that we really had a chance with that anyway."

Dick felt his temper get worse but tried to keep in control. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She shrugged, with that calm know-it-all expression coming into her eyes. "You know. Dick, it's really not such a big thing. I mean I know you two aren't the greatest of partners when you're together now but - "

Dick had left not long after that.

Two years, he thought. He hadn't been gone much more than two years and now Barbara acted like she owned the place - waltzing into the Batcave whenever she felt like it, fixing things on the computers that he'd always meant to get around to and, always, defending Bruce.

That was what truly set his teeth on edge.

She didn't know him, but she sure as Hell loved to act like she did. And she certainly thought she did.

Bruce by himself was bad enough. Having Barbara, of all people, standing behind him and chirping his cause in his ear whenever she had a chance was downright sickening.

And he wasn't even going to think about that "Baby Robin" who was running around with them these days as well.

Dick paused in his pacing long enough to grab something heavy and handy and throw it across the room. He enjoyed the satisfying thunk as his bike helmet hit the far wall.

He didn't want to be with Bruce. He didn't want to be like Bruce. And Barbara, he knew, would never understand that.

Bruce… Bruce was never going to change. If anything, he was just going to get worse. He was going to stay down in that cave and behind that mask until Hell froze over. That's what he did. That's who he was. And it would always be those rigid rules and his stubborn ways and him never being anything but the "Dark Knight of Gotham" who never so much cracked a smile anymore because God knows smiling doesn't do a damned thing to fight crime.

Some partner.

Dick sat down, burying his face in his hands. It was going on three years now since he'd left and it still didn't feel any better.

Couldn't Barbara see this? Couldn't she understand? If Dick stayed on he'd be just like him. Just like that God damned fool who couldn't relate to anyone except as "Batman" and who had always - always - cared for Robin far more than he had for Dick.

Dick wasn't going to do that. He wasn't going to turn into another Bruce Wayne and spread the illness on to yet another generation. He couldn't speak for the new Baby Robin but for himself, at least, it stopped here.

Even if it killed him.

 
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