Marked for life
By Marcie Gore
Story Synopsis: Beth finds out a humorous family secret.
Beth and Lian have been playing together all day at Wayne Manor on her 7th birthday. They've played house; they've played with Barbies. They take turns pushing each other on swings that have been there since Beth's Daddy first came to the manor. The two girls try to beat Dick's summersault record on the rings in the gym. Beth comes the closest she does three. Then again she's been training since she was two on bars of varying heights. Dick watches his daughter proudly as he acts their spotter.
Barbara comes in the gym in her swimsuit, a towel around her neck and asks the girls "Ready to go swimming yet? Remember you brought your suit, Lian? Beth yours is in your Dad's old bedroom. Everyone else is ready', her Mom says.
"YAY," both girls scream. They hurry off to Dick's old room to get dressed. As they're dressing Lian leans in and whispers in Beth's ear.
"Did you know your Daddy has a tattoo on his bottom? It's a combination of the Bat symbol and the Nightwing symbol. He got it when I was four. When he was out with Dad one night. I saw it myself the morning after he got it. Dad said Uncle Dick had a little bit too much to drink before he got it. I don't really remember seeing it too well, but Dad won't let him forget it when he's at the tower."
"I hear your Grand-pa was real mad when he found out. Something about identifying marks. My Dad has one too; his is on his arm, a Native American symbol. Your Daddy's is on his butt," she laughs loudly.
"He does NOT! My Daddy hates needles. He makes Mom go when I have to get my shots for school. He doesn't even take Snowflake to the vet to get her shots. He doesn't like me to draw on myself either. He'd never get a tattoo, he's never been drunk either I'm sure. Grandpa Bruce taught him to keep a clear head at all times,' Beth insists.
"He does Beth, Daddy says he even has the pictures to prove it! He won't let me see the pictures cause they're on his butt. I did see the real thing though. If you don't believe me ask your Mom. I'm sure she's seen it. He only needs a clear head when he's on duty. Dad says he'd gone off duty that night. If it makes you feel better, Daddy said he had to drag yours out of bed to make him go, he said Uncle Dick didn't get enough fun in his life. If he wasn't careful he'd become like old Batsy.'
"I wonder if he'll let me have one when I get older?' Beth asks.
"I want one like my Dad's when I get older.' Lian says.
"He probably won't. He knows how your Grand Pa Bruce feels about tattoos. If you want to go into the family business, he probably has a no tattoo rule. Like my Dad says secret Ids can be such a pain,' Lian laughs.
"Ok, Lian, I'll ask Mom but it still doesn't sound like my Daddy to have a tattoo! If he DOES have one I'm going to ask them if I can get one when I'm old enough. I'll get it somewhere it won't show. I'll know it's there though. Maybe I'll get one like you said Dad has.'
The girls go to the side of the pool. Each tries to top the other's dive. First on the low dive then the high dive, which is Olympic quality height. They swim around peacefully for awhile then start a breath holding contest.
Beth grabs a Super soaker on the side of the pool and drenches Lian then the adults including her own Mom and Dad. This results in swift retaliation from her Dad. He grabs her from behind, by the waist. He lifts her high above the pool then drops her in the water, she goes under swimming blindly, and thrashing about, groping for something to grab on to. She grabs the sides of her Dad's blue swim trunks pulling them down, just a bit. She can see the edge of what looks like a Bat symbol on his rear. It seems to be true he has a tattoo!
Unfortunately she doesn't have time to ask him about it; Lian squirts Beth just as she comes up for air. Dick says " WE'LL get you back Miss Harper' with a laugh.
He and Beth chase Lian around the pool till they corner her near the pool wall. Beth grabs the soaker from her friend while her Dad stands guard. She blasts Lian twice. Then Dick grabs Lian and carries her to the middle of the pool. He drops her like he did Beth a few moments ago. Then Roy grabs a beach pail and goes to defend his daughter. He dumps a bucket full of water on both father and daughter Babs swims over to try to break up the fight between the 4 'children."
When Dick squirts Barbara, she grabs the Super soaker and retaliates. Pretty soon everyone is splashing or squirting everyone else. The whole time "Grandpa" Bruce watches from a lawn chair poolside. He's wearing swim shorts, a casual dark blue shirt and dark sunglasses. He wears what passes for a smile for him on his face. He loves watching his son play with his family, especially his adorable granddaughter.
He's still not fond of Roy but tolerates him because he's one of Dick's best friends, Lian is one of Beth's, and he likes Lian a lot more than her Daddy. How could such a sweet kid have Roy for a dad?
"Now calm down children, would you behave this way if Alfred weren't on vacation? He'd want you all to be proper gentlemen and ladies. Drop your weapons and declare a cease-fire! ' Bruce demands. This earns him a major soaking from Roy, Dick, and two more unseen shooters. He walks closer to the pool.
Then they hear Tim and Cassandra laugh from behind. Dick, Roy, Lian, and Beth get out of the pool to greet the newcomers. They huddle together, whispering. This should make Bruce very nervous but it doesn't.
Suddenly a pair of strong arms throw an unsuspecting Bruce into the pool. Everyone laughs. He goes under just a second then starts swimming to the person he believes to be the guilty party. He grabs his son by the ankles and throws him in the pool. Bruce and Dick take turns dunking each other, then tossing each other like plastic rings across the water. Bruce seems to be winning this battle, and then Beth jumps in to defend her Daddy. This causes the two men to stop.
They all get out very tired not long after that. It's time for Beth's cake. It's smaller than the one she'll have at her official party on Saturday. It's chocolate with chocolate frosting, and tiny shavings of white chocolate. Barbara baked both cakes herself for her little princess. They have her favorite ice cream, Moose Tracks. They plan to give her their gifts for her at her party on Sat.; this was a last minute thing.
As they're cleaning up Beth asks what seems to be a strange question to her parents. "Mom, Dad, can I get a tattoo, like Dad's when I get older?'
This causes them to both drop their plates. Luckily, they're paper. "What makes you think Dad has a tattoo?' Barbara asks.
"I found out about it when Dad dunked me. I grabbed onto his shorts and saw the top of a Bat shaped tattoo with the symbol on Dad's costume on top of that, Lian told me about it but I didn't believe her at first.' Beth says with a smile.
" Lian told you? We need to talk to that girl and her Daddy." They both say.
"Yes, I do have a tattoo, princess but I'm not proud of it. Your Uncle Roy and I had too many beers one night, that's another thing you shouldn't do. While we were drunk, he talked me into getting one." he says. "You're Granddad wasn't very happy with me or Uncle Roy when he found out. He doesn't like his family to have anything that might cause people to connect our costumed identities with us out of the suits, like tattoos I was grown up but he still cares about my safety.'
"You're too young to have one without your parent's permission. I'm not even sure they'd give a person your age one with our permission. We wouldn't give you permission, I'm sorry."
"I didn't mean right now, when I'm older," Beth says.
"You want to be Batgirl someday didn't you say? It might be a good idea to not have a tattoo then.'
"Ok, I guess I'll have think about this for a while', Beth smiles. " I just wanted to be like you Daddy."
"Wanta know a secret? I think your Grandpa Bruce got one when he was younger but had it removed," Dick continues.
Barbara breaks in and says, "I think that last part was just encouraging her. You can not have a tattoo young lady! You know how much you hate needles, well, getting tattoos hurts a lot more than shots, just ask your Dad.'
"It hurts real bad, that's one of the reasons I wish I'd never gotten one.' What he doesn't tell her is that the alcohol numbed the pain considerably and erased the memory of getting it. "You should stick to the ones you get in Popping Pastries and bubble gum machines sweetie', Dick says.
"OK, I will, I will I love you.' Beth says.
"Happy Birthday Baby', They say together.