A stilted silence fell over the cave as Dick glared towards Bruce, an outstretched arm pointing towards the image of a younger boy on the screen. It had only been a week since Amanda Waller had approached him regarding an opportunity to work with S.H.I.E.L.D., he had still been mulling it over. Foolishly he had hoped he could talk to Bruce about; in hindsight, Dick had no idea why he thought Bruce would even entertain the conversation.
"Who is he, Bruce?" Dick yelled, anger practically seething from every ounce of his being while he continued to raise an accusatory finger towards the figure on the screen wearing his former costume. "Did I truly let you down so badly that you found a replacement? Were you just going to take me out in the Batmobile and dump me on the side of the road like some stray puppy who had finally grown into an ugly dog?"
The dark and stoic knight remained completely unphased in the face of Dick's outburst whilst he carefully manufactured an inoculation against Crane's newest fear toxin. Perhaps it was Bruce's nonchalance towards Dick's anger or the fact he always hated when Bruce ignored him. Instead of displaying a single emotion, Bruce brushed it off with a scowl, a narrowing of his eyes or just silence. It drove Dick insane when he was thirteen, and it still did so at twenty-two.
"I haven't even accepted the offer that you no doubt already know about? We could have talked about this; I could have still worked with you, just in a different capacity. S.H.I.E.L.D. is an opportunity for me to become my own man, you have absolutely no idea what it's like being your Robin, living in the shadow of your cape."
Dick placed his hands on either side of his head in frustration.
"I'm not a thirteen-year-old boy who's happy to play dress-up anymore, Bruce. Between my studies, training and patrol, you were smothering me. All I'm looking for is my own identity; I never had any intention of quitting. But no, instead of treating me as an equal, instead of talking to me, you go behind my back and replace me? It's no wonder you've never had a lasting relationship with your adult life beyond the man you pay to care for you!"
Dick began to pace back and forth as Alfred stood quietly to the side, his ever unflappable demeanour never changing nor reflecting his true emotions as the most loyal member of the Wayne estate played Switzerland. Though Dick could have sworn, he almost saw the elderly man wince with his last comment.
"Or wait, is this because I was shot and gassed? Even criminals can be prepared, Bruce! They knew we were coming. Alfred said that I'd make a full recovery. You worked alone for years. Surely a week would have been fine while I healed. Instead, what did you do? You found another naive teenager to bring aboard! What did you do, hold tryouts? What were the merits, capable of doing a backflip and take orders? Or did you just find the first dark-hair kid that fit the costume, so Gordon didn't ask questions?"
"We are at war, Dick." Bruce answered flatly. "You're a soldier, Tim's a soldier." He spoke while continuing to pour the inoculation serum into a syringe before loading it into a jet injector.
"I looked up to you as a father!" Dick roared.
"You weren't my commander, you weren't a general. You were my guardian, my protector and mentor." Without warning, Bruce unexpectedly turned and placed the injector against Dick's arm before pulling the trigger. A sharp pain shot through Dick as surprise and outrage overwhelmed his sense of reason. Dick's face curled into an expression of sheer rage before he suddenly turned and let loose a sucker punch, striking the older man across the jaw. From the nearby corner, Alfred flinched as Bruce dropped the administration instrument, the syringe breaking open on the floor while Dick stood over the fallen man. His chest heavily heaving up and down, his nostrils flaring before he spat venom towards his former mentor.
"You're nothing but that same scared boy from the alley Bruce, hiding beneath your armour, so you don't have to feel emotion. But what you fail to realize is that if you truly wanted to help Gotham, you would have hung up your cape years ago. Bruce Wayne can do ten times more for Gotham than what Batman can."
"Get out of my cave." Bruce growled as he finally turned to look at Dick. "And don't come back."
"I was already gone." Dick retorted from halfway up the stairs. Silence once again descended over the cave as the elevator departed, leaving Alfred to hang his head as Bruce resumed his work.