TITLE: Five Years Later
AUTHOR: Gaeriel Mallory
DISCLAIMER: Batman and Superman both belong to DC Comics. The concept of Superman Returns belongs to Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris. I own nothing.
NOTES: I wrote this after seeing Superman Returns in the theaters. There was one particular point that bothered me and I needed to address it. Hence, this story. I haven't poked around the fanfiction in this fandom enough to know if it's been done or not, so if it has, I apologize.

Five years and the Boy Scout still hasn't changed. I sighed and waited for him to finish smiling and waving at the cameras as the police loaded up the armed bank robbers into the waiting van. I wasn't surprised when he looked directly at me and nodded. I nodded back, knowing that he would see despite the dark.

He gave one last smile at the reporter, who swooned just a little bit. Lifting up one arm in the classic pose that graced newspapers and magazine covers across the globe, he floated into the air and disappeared into the night sky. I waited and counted in my head.



"Hello, Bruce." He had dropped the voice, at least. The one which was authoritative and commanding, but all part of the façade.

I held my position for just a second, to prove that he hadn't scared me. Slowly, I turned. "Kent."

"It's good to see you again." He held out a hand and I just stared at it. His mouth wrinkled and he slowly lowered his arm back to his side. "I wasn't expecting you to leap with joy, you know. But I thought I at least merited a 'hello'."

I frowned. "Five years, and you think you can come waltzing back without a word?" I gathered my cape around me and turned back to the edge of the roof, one gloved hand already reaching for the grappler at my belt.

"I thought you of all people would understand. You're an orphan too."

I paused and looked over my shoulder. "I would never abandon my home. You left Earth as soon as the scientists gave you the news. Despite growing up here, despite making a life on this planet – you left." I faced him full on again and glared at him. "We were never good enough for you, were we, Kryptonian?"

He flinched. "It's not like that, Bruce."

I jabbed a finger into his chest and ignored how it hurt. "Really? It sure looked that way."

He looked down, the distinctive curl of hair blowing gently in the breeze. "I just wanted to know – know where I came from."

"You're an idiot, Clark."

He glanced up, surprised at the use of his name. His mouth gaped open in shock. "What?"

"How do you think Martha felt when you told her you were leaving to find your home? How do you think she felt when she learned that her son didn't think of her house, or Smallville, or even Earth as home?" I gritted my teeth, remembering the one phone call I had made to her as Batman after Superman had disappeared from Earth, after the banks threatened to foreclose on the farm. "You lost parents you never even knew and you chased after their ghosts without even thinking about what you were doing to your mother here." I paused to let my words sink in. "Five years. Five. She didn't know if you were still alive, if you had found what you were looking for, if you were ever coming back. If this is the way that Superman will behave, then maybe Lois Lane was right. We don't need a Superman."

He looked like I had struck him. "I-I," he stammered. "I didn't even think…"

"You don't know how lucky you are, Kent. You still have a mother who loves you despite everything." I pulled out the grappler and fired it at a neighboring building.

I left Superman standing on that rooftop. If he hadn't wanted a lecture he shouldn't have come into my city uninvited. If anyone should know better, it was him. I still have the kryptonite ring stashed in the Cave, just in case. Maybe one day, Batman will forgive him, as much as the Bat can forgive anyone. But the memory of Martha Kent crying over the phone to a perfect stranger, with whom there was only the knowledge of a secret in common, rankled him. The hero's return that the world gave Kent annoyed him. And the way he expected to step right back into his old life – that was just angering.

The world had Superman back, and Martha Kent had her son again. But Clark Kent no longer had Bruce Wayne's trust.