24) Internal Struggles

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Dick began to slowly drift off into a peaceful sleep when he was awoken by the creaking sound of his door open and heavy footsteps approaching him.

"Don't fall asleep just yet." Bruce gently suggested.

Dick scrunched his eyebrows and groaned with his eyes closed. "Leave me alone." It was too late to try to comfort him. He didn't feel like playing this game of pretend anymore. He just wanted to acquire the peace that one can only get through sleep.

Bruce said nothing as he watched Dick bury his face further into his pillow. Bruce sighed. He needed to talk to the boy but he didn't want to rush or force it. He had to do it when Dick was ready. Preferably when he was in a better mood, too.

"I can't let you go to bed without eating. You're already as skinny as it is." Bruce informed. "Let's go downstairs and have dinner."

Dick didn't move.

"Please?" Bruce pleaded. He knew should be more strict considering he was the adult, but he couldn't find it in himself after hearing all the shaky cries that come from Dick's room. In fact, it had taken all of Bruce's willpower to not burst into the room and comfort him. Alfred had advised Bruce to wait until Dick had calmed down a bit until doing that, though, since they didn't know how he would feel about being interrupted in the middle of a session, and Bruce followed that advice.

Dick reluctantly pushed himself up onto his butt. He groggily rubbed his face and looked up at Bruce with red, puffy eyes. His gaze wavered self consciously.

"It's okay. I'm not going to ask you about anything you don't want to talk about." Bruce assured. "Of course, you can talk to me when you're ready."

Dick only looked at the floor in response. He didn't want to talk about his feelings. He would only ridiculed for his confusing emotions and thoughts that he, himself, didn't understand. Dick began to grip slightly at the bed sheets before getting up and following Bruce downstairs.

Alfred was sitting patiently in a seat at the dining table with his plate in front of him, but had not touched his food yet. He perked up when he saw Bruce with Dick.

"I'm glad you could join us, Master Richard." The butler stated.

"Alfred, I told you not to wait for us." Bruce reminded with a hint of exasperation in his voice. He made sure Dick sat down before doing so himself.

"There is no harm in waiting for everyone to be at the table." Alfred responded calmly. He glanced at Dick, unsure of what to say to him.

Dick picked up his spoon and poked the mash potatoes dully. He really didn't want to eat despite the emptiness in his stomach. But he also didn't want to waste food, so he forced the spoonful into his mouth and swallowed.

The only sounds that could be heard were the sounds of eating utensils hitting the plates. It was extremely awkward.

Dick couldn't help but feel annoyed as he pretended not to notice Bruce's and Alfred's stares. He didn't want their pity. He had cried, okay? It wasn't that big of a deal. They didn't need to hover over him like he was a baby.

The target of his anger changed. Why was he angry at them? Wasn't he complaining just a few minutes ago that he wanted to feel cared for? Now that it was happening, he was whining about it! No wonder he was so unlikable! He wouldn't make up his freaking mind!!

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