This is for Brendan. It's not a cuddle, but it'll have to do.
I own the people I own, I don't own the people I don't own.
Hot Cocoa and Puppies
Jimmy sat at the kitchen table at Wayne Manor, staring into his hot cocoa.
Alfred made it with whipped cream, just the way he liked it. Marshmallows
were so dumb. "It's not fair," he moaned again to Alfred.
Alfred pulled opened the oven and inspected the cookie sheet and it's
contents. They were a warm honey colored brown and smelled quite nice, in
Jimmy's point of view. "There is very little in life that IS fair, young
"I'm ten. I can watch the whole city all by myself."
"Not very likely. I can count all the months you've been doing this on one
Why did his parents have to go away for their anniversary? Two whole days
was more than anyone should ever have to spend with Bruce. The only solace
he took was in knowing Mara was miserable too. Mara was watching Bludhaven
all by herself, except for regular check-ins with Uncle Clark and Uncle
Roy. She'd been furious when they'd told her about the arrangements.
And Jimmy knew she was getting the better version of the deal. Originally,
dad had asked Lian if she wanted to come and 'hang out' with Mara and keep
her company. They both loved Lian, but Mara woulda popped a blood vessel if
he knew dad was doing that.
Then dad went and decided that they couldn't be trusted to not kill each
other, so Jimmy had to go to Gotham, cause his sister was going to be home
SO he'd run an electrical current through the door knob to his room. So it
had shocked her and ruined her precious hair-do. Firstly, girls were too
fickle. Secondly, if she'd been at work with the Bat, then she'd be all
masochistic and say how she'd taken the shock and it didn't even affect
her, she beat up a hundred guys after that. But since it happened at home,
he hears shock, thud, and then "Daaaaaaaadddddd Jimmy's trying to kill me!"
And thirdly-he hated her and she was dumb. That was no reason to send him
to stay with the Bat.
Sticking his face over the mug, he licked up the whipped cream.
"A proper young gentleman uses the spoon," Alfred reminded him.
"If I don't get the spoon dirty, then you won't have to wash it?" Jimmy
asked hopefully. Alfred should hurry up with the cookies already. Chocolate
chips didn't need to be cool or anything. They were even better when they
were all mashed together like melted crayons.
Alfred left the tray of cookies on the counter and walked over to him,
picking up the spoon. "If it will make you feel better, Master James, YOU
can wash the spoon when you are done."
Jimmy wagged his head and took the spoon, scraping the last vestiges of
whipped cream off the top of the milky chocolate. "That's ok. Don't wanna.
knock you out of a job or anything."
Alfred looked down at him skeptically. "I doubt I am in danger of that,
Picking up his mug and drinking like he should, Jimmy smiled. Maybe forty-
eight hours with the scariest guy in the known universe wouldn't be so bad
with Alfred here to protect him. Maybe if he just hung out with Alfie the
whole time, Mr. Scary would forget Jimmy was even here, and he'd live.
Dad was his pal, right? So why did dad do this? He could have stayed with
Grandpa Jim. Grandpa Jim was cool, even if he did treat Mara like a little
princess. Grandpa Jim wasn't scary. Why did his parents have to leave town?
What if the whole world came to an end and the Justice League was needed.
Then where would mom be? Mom wouldn't be there to help them.
And even worse, if the Justice League got called up, there was a
frightening and terrible chance he'd have to go with Batman. He thought his
dad liked him better than that.
Jimmy was a good kid. He got straight A's in school. He built good stuff,
except for the stuff he used to torture his sister with, but most of that
dad didn't know about. He was a good side-kick. He learned all the stuff
dad taught him and then some. If the world was going to end, he wanted to
be with dad, not Bats.
It was way cooler hanging around with the Titans anyways. Uncle Roy was
funny, and one of Jimmy's all-time heroes. Aunt Donna filled him up with
cookies and pinched his cheeks and said he was getting so big. And
everyone else thought he was the cutest coolest sidekick in the whole
world. Unlike when you hung out with the Justice League and they just
ignored you. Mara liked being ignored. She was masochistic like that.
Bla bla bla, My name is Robin. I'm the leader of Young Justice and I spend
all my time with the Justice League and Batman, and I have my head so far
up my butt I coughed myself up last week. That was Mara.
"I wanna be a stand-up comic, Alfie. A real funny one," Jimmy said
spontaneously. Chuckling at the thought of his sister coughing herself
"I'm sure you'll find respectable employment, sir," Alfred said as he set
the cookies on the table.
Jimmy had a feeling that Alfred didn't think standup was acceptable.
* * *
Nighthawk sat in The Car next to The Bat. His foot twitched nervously in
his boot as the car sped out of the Cave and into the night.
"I could stay home," he said again for the fifty-thousandth time. "I could
play Oracle. I mean. what if the world comes to an end? Then what're we
going to do."
"The world isn't coming to an end," The Bat said patiently.
"Someone will call us."
"What if they don't?"
"They'll call," The Bat replied with confidence.
It was freaky. He never took his eyes off the road when he drove. He never
looked at Nighthawk or even gestured his head toward him. Dad would at
least glance at him from time to time to make sure he was behaving.
Maybe, when Bruce was young, and he was studying in the Far East, he met
some crazy guy who was really an agent of the devil and Bruce sold his soul
and he really WAS a bat now, or even worse yet, a vampire.
Cautiously, Nighthawk scratched his neck. Please, God, he prayed. Let the
world come to an end.
* * *
Batman felt the boy fidgeting beside him. It was the young man's first time
in The Car, and he was not even interested in the displays on the dash.
From the time his sister could walk, she'd been trying to climb into the
car and have a look. And this one-the one with the interest in electronics-
stared intermittently at his boots and the door handle.
"I was going to upgrade the displays on the passenger's side tomorrow," he
said casually. "You are welcome to help."
The young man fidgeted so badly he almost trembled. "Th-that's ok.
Robin'll kill me. If I start doing her jobs."
"She has no say in the matter. If you'd like to help--"
"NO!" The young man said forcefully. "That's ok! I mean. Alfie wants to
take me clothes shopping."
He never saw anyone want to get out of his sight this badly before. Not
even a frightened criminal. The boy tolerated him at family gatherings and
only visited his house to see Alfred. Bruce didn't know what more he could
do. He'd even persuaded Dick to leave the boy with him for their
That in itself had been amusing. The look on his son's face when he offered
to take the boy and the subsequent sputtering had been worth the price of
"You know, your sister comes out with me every night and she manages to
"I know-sir," Jimmy said dejectedly.
Was it accurate at this point to declare himself a failure at family
matters? He had conducted things horribly with Dick, had been the driving
force behind Tim's burn out and subsequent 'melt down', he had one
grandchild who was unaffectionate but overly attached and another who
couldn't stand to be in his presence.
It shouldn't bother him, really. Nighthawk didn't 'belong' to him, per say.
And yet. it did.
"I have a few cases of Robin's that you might be interested in. We can take
a look in on her pet project. That should be all. It should be a relatively
uneventful--" So much for that.
An alarm sounded in front of Robin's seat. "The left button'll let you
scroll through the message." But when he looked, he realized he didn't have
to tell him, the boy was already on it.
"Arkham escapee. Got out during transport to another facility," Nighthawk
informed him. "Not a name I'm familiar with." The boy shifted in his seat
uncomfortably. He wasn't used to dealing with the type of trouble that
Batman glanced at the display. "Grinkoldt. Minor to say the least. Usually
I let Robin handle these on her own."
The boy went pale. "Tha-that's ok. Dad said I should learn stuff from you.
So. um. I'll do what you say. Sir."
This was going SO well, Bruce thought.
* * *
In general, Nighthawk liked heights. He wasn't afraid of them. He never had
been. The family had appointed him the official Christmas Light Technician
for the roof and the back lawn. That was even better than just heights. It
was electricity AND heights.
He once scaled the inside of a cave in South America with dad and Uncle Roy-
just because they could. It had been dark, rocky, musty smelling, and oh-so-
cool. He'd parachuted into rocky hills in Japan once on a Titans thing,
he'd taken multiple swan dives off buildings in the 'Haven-without a jump
So why was he so scared right now?
Oh yeah, right. He was on top of a bridge. On the TOP. Having cement
beneath you was one thing. Water was something else. Not only would you be
crushed when you hit the top of the water, but then they'd never recover
your body because your squashed squashness would get washed away in the
And how had he ended up there? Oh yeah. His non-partner told him to get up
here with him, and get the psychopath off the top of the bridge.
So. He was on one side of the light, the Bat was on the other side of the
light, and clutching the light was a psychopath in standard issue green
Arkham uniform, threatening to throw himself and two puppies over. PUPPIES.
Nighthawk watched their long, hushpuppy ears flapping in the wind, just to
keep himself from looking down. If he didn't go splat on this one, he
wanted a puppy, and he'd bug dad till he got one.
"Can we do this over land so they can find my body?" Nighhawk asked
Both Batman and Grinkoldt looked at him. Maybe he shouldn't have said that.
Like what were they doing? They had no discernable plan. He and dad always
just knew what to do. But he wasn't with dad. Shouldn't the Bat have a
plan? Gotham people ALWAYS had a plan. SO where was the plan? Hello?
Puppies in danger, Batman.
"You're not Robin," the guy said.
"And I thank God for that every day." Even as Nighthawk started talking,
the Bat reached out with both hands, grabbing the puppies with one hand and
the psycho-guy with the other. Briefly, Nighthawk wondered what the Bat was
holding on with, if both of his hands were grabbing people and puppies.
That was, until Batman and his bundle began falling towards the water.
For half a second, he wished he WAS Robin. That was, until he caught sight
of a line flying lose behind the Dark Knight. Suddenly it snapped taught,
and the group landed safely on the bridge below. When Nighthawk looked
down, the Bat had the man tied up, and the puppies were scampering on the
He took a deep breath of relief, and before he realized what happened,
vomit was spraying out of his mouth. Thank God, Batman hadn't seen him do
Nighthawk looked below him just in time to see the wind pick up and slap
his falling spew against the Dark Knight's cape. Jimmy smacked his
* * *
"So, uh, yeah. Totally. That's what happened," Nighthawk explained to his
Grampy Jim uncomfortably. He left the part about the puke out. He leaned
back into the shadow of the iron pillar of the bridge a little more.
"And where's your Bat?" Jim Gordon asked skeptically.
"Car." Nighthawk looked both ways. "Said it'd be a good learning
experience?" the boy chirped.
"Right." James Gordon sighed. "At least the Animal Rights people'll be
happy. The dogs're ok." He continued to look out at the police officers
securing the man and putting him in the van. Nighthawk kind of wished he'd
look at him, at least once.
"CANIHAVEONE?" Jimmy blurted out before he realized what he was saying.
"Ask Nightwing, kid. They're going to the Animal Rescue shelter. They'll be
on the news tomorrow morning and half the city'll be wanting to adopt 'em,
so I wouldn't hold your breath, though. And you don't need a dog."
Nighthawk's shoulder sagged. He might not need a dog, but he sure wanted
one. And dad wasn't going to be back for another day and a half, and by
then the dogs would be with people who wouldn't love 'em half as much as he
* * *
When Nighthawk got into The Car, it wreaked of pine cleaner. He wondered if
Alfred knew Batman was stock-piling kitchen cleaners in the Batmobile.
Batman did not look at him, speak to him, nothing. He just started the car.
Well, Jimmy thought silently, at least he's not giving you 'the look' or
yelling or being mean or anything-but still-Jimmy wished Batman would do
something. Just to let him know he wasn't on ignore.
Jimmy wanted to smack himself again. That's what he'd always wanted wasn't
it? For the Bat to just. forget he existed?
"Uh. sorry for. um. You know." Puking on the Bat. You just puked on the
scariest guy in the known universe and now he's going to put you through
some hideous torture that'll probably involve disembowelment and eating
your own intestines.
"There's something under the seat you might be interested in," the Bat said
Slowly, Jimmy looked between his legs. Under the seat was a floppy-eared,
hushpuppy mommy of the two puppies from the bridge. "We. we have to return
her?" he asked suddenly. "How'd she get here?"
"There is no one looking for her. The two small ones were the only ones
that turned up in the police report." He still never looked at Jimmy. He
never took his eyes off the road.
"What do I do with her?" Jimmy asked cautiously. If he was like Mara, he'd
offer the dog, then snatch it away.
"Well, if she's given to the shelter with the other dogs, she probably
won't find a home."
That's usually what happened to the 'uncute' dogs, Jimmy thought. And this
one was just uncute enough to be cute. "What if dad won't let me keep
"He will," The Bat informed him with finality.
Nighthawk pulled the floppy-eared, fleshy, round pooch into his lap. If The
Bat could scare dad into making dad let him keep the dog? Well, maybe that
was ok. He needed to puke on Batman more often. "Wow. Thanks."