Salt & Pepper
“See you’re getting pretty ‘distinguished,’ Wayne,” Jim motioned at his own hair to clarify.
“Ha, I can’t deny it.” Bruce ran a hand over his hair. It was more salt than pepper now. He didn’t mind the remark from Jim, who’d been snowy white from a young age.
“Bet you can pin each one of those on us,” Dick challenged as he strolled up in his tuxedo. Damian trailed along behind him, bored by the function.
“Please, you and Jay account for the entire sides, those started to go first.” He turned to Jim with the posture of a parent about to really relish embarrassing his kids.
“The temples,” he gestures with two fingers, the rest were holding his glass, “The first time I noticed grays there was after Dick came to us. I couldn’t find him one afternoon, spent two hours panicking before he popped up, covered in dust and yawning. He’d climbed on the stacks in the library and fallen asleep, up where I couldn’t see him.”
Dick smiles, not really embarrassed at all. The story was true, but it’s not why Bruce is grey.
Bruce could go on and on with public-approved stories about the kids causing his grey hairs. The time Jason ran away (he’d really wanted a book they didn’t have at home and it didn’t occur to him to wait until they were free to take him). The only fight Tim had ever gotten into at school. When Cass had donated a shocking amount of her trust fund to an aged ballerina with no support network. Damian and nearly every time he’d brought an animal home.
The truth is he had only noticed one or two grey hairs as young adult. Until Dick had struck out on his own. That year there had been a definite upswing in silvery strands at his temples.
The truth is the real turning point had been Jason’s death. Several months later Diana had been shocked on a rare day when he’d taken his cowl off on the Watchtower – his hair was noticeably grayer than she’d seen it last. Immortals had the irritating habit of noticing things like that.
The truth is the revelation of Damian’s existence had shocked and angered Bruce and it was months before he’d been able to see the boy for himself and not as an extension of his mother’s betrayal. And in those months the lower half of his hair had given up on producing melanin.
And Bruce knew that there was no scientific evidence that stress could cause premature achromotrichia, but there was no denying that periods of worry and regret over Stephanie, Tim, and Cassandra had seen similar decreases in the ink black hair on his head.
Dick suspected all this. But he was glad Bruce had never said it. Not to him, or any of the kids.
The truth is they all knew it anyway.
Partly inspired by a comment @batwayneman left on a fic of mine, except I made it depressing. As one does.