title: Incidentals: Changed Guard by Chicago
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick, Terry, Bruce, Angel, Tim
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Bruce takes care of Dick for a night.
notes: Chicago wrote this for me over an IM, and i couldn't be happier. please shower her with love and affection so she will continue to play with my toys! ^_^

It took all his will not to rush forward to help when Terry looped an arm under Nightwing's to support him as he left the Batmobile.

He managed it, though, remaining calm and expressionless as Terry led Dick to the med table.

Dick was protesting that he should go home, that Tim could take care of him.

Terry reminded Dick firmly that Tim was on rotation, sparing Bruce from making that protest.

On the whole, Bruce thought he did well. He made himself supervise, not giving in to the desire to shoulder Terry aside to deal with a third degree ankle sprain.

He didn't demand an explanation of the injury; he could only imagine the circumstances which would create an ankle sprain of that severity through Nightwing's boots. He suspected it would involve train tracks and a switching station or a fall from great heights, and neither image would help him sleep.

Not that he was sleeping now, anyway.

He paced the Manor restlessly, as he had all night, as he had all morning.

He had sent Terry home. He had demanded Dick stay. He had dutifully called Tim at the hospital. Then, at Tim's insistence, he had called Barbara, volunteering to take Angel for the day, since Dick was in no condition to come pick her up according to their schedule.

Barbara had arrived in the predawn and seemed surprised to see Bruce answering the door. She gave him a look he couldn't read and suspected he didn't want to read, but she had handed off her sleeping toddler and the bag of supplies that always came with Angel.

Bruce paced with Angel in his arms until she stirred and said, "Where's my dad?"

It was an excuse he could take. Shifting Angel in his arms, Bruce mounted the stairs to Dick's room and toed open the door.

Dick was dead asleep. Bruce moved slowly and quietly, and Dick did not wake up. Bruce wanted to believe it was trust that kept him from being a split-second from wakefulness under Bruce's roof. He knew it was probably more the painkillers Tim had insisted Dick take.

Bruce turned to kiss Angel's forehead. "Here he is, sweetheart," he murmured.

Angel lifted her head and rubbed her eyes sleepily.

"Down," she insisted.

Bruce almost protested, but he nodded instead. "Okay." He settled her down on the bed and stepped back.

Without hesitation, she rolled against her father, pressing against his side. As soon as their bodies touched, Dick shifted in his sleep, curling his arm protectively over her.

Bruce watched them, listened to the steady, even breathing of their sleep. He reached out a hand tentatively then pulled it back, resisting the urge to stroke Dick's hair.

He balled his fists at his side, watching a moment more. Then, with every ounce of will he could muster, he turned and left the room.

Bruce still hadn't slept when Tim arrived at two that afternoon.

Angel abandoned her quiet play to squeal and jump into "Timmy's" arms, and Dick accepted Tim's lecture with amused good grace.

Bruce took charge of loading Angel into her car seat, letting Tim be the one to offer Dick a supporting arm. He accepted Dick's thanks with a silent nod and gave Angel a farewell kiss to her forehead. He wished the family well, congratulating himself for all the things he hadn't said or done.

Then he went back to the empty Manor alone.