Brothers in Arms - Beginnings

By

Tracey Claybon

-~-

A note from the Author - this story - and the series name - has absolutely NO relationship to Syl Francis's wonderful Twitchy and Jack series story "Brothers in Arms".

I'd thought up the name months ago, and I guess we can chalk up the story name/series name similarity to "cosmic thought pollution."



This is a new series I'm beginning that will run at the same time as my Trinity series. I'd been thinking for a while about how complicated the relationship is between Batman and Aquaman - attitude-wise, they are somewhat similar, and along with J'onn, they've been a part of the Justice League almost from the beginning. This story is partly a Trinity, by the way.

So, what do these two really think about each other? Is Orin the arrogant jerk everyone has been making him seem to be lately for real, or is it a mask much like Bruce Wayne is for the Bat?

My influences here will be drawn from the Peter David series of Aquaman, and from the Silver Age books I dimly remember. I'd like to think that there is more to Orin then the tough guy image we've been seeing lately.

Now that I've said that mouthful, it begins with an argument over a funeral.

--

Bruce Wayne - known in superhero circles officially as the Batman and unofficially (a lot more often) as "that grouchy @!$*^# with the 3-foot- long icicle shoved where the sun doesn't shine", except to those who knew him best - was sitting in the Batcave about a day after he'd aided the Red Tornado in retrieving the members of Young Justice from their adventures on Apokolips at the end of the Imperiex Wars and the private memorial service for Aquaman held by the surviving members of the Justice League.

He was writing a daily journal he kept to log his activities - he'd begun doing a personal journal right after Bane broke his back 4 years earlier, then integrated it with his criminology files and kept the habit going. The Batman's journal was as heavily encrypted as Superman's own. Oracle integrated a lot of the same mix of alien and the very best human technologies into his electronic journal as well, and upon his confirmed death, it would be distributed to his surviving heirs. At the moment, he was discussing the missing and presumed deceased Aquaman.

=*=*=*=

October 31, 2001

I had another reason for not attending Orin's wake with the other members of the JLA right after the galaxy war with Imperiex. The relationship I have had over the years with Orin is not that simple, and he would be the first to understand why I wouldn't come to his wake. Our kind of friendship was - and is - complex.

Any expressions of grief where he was concerned - even if I were convinced that he were gone forever right now - would be something I did privately, or just with J'onn, Diana, Clark, and especially his protege Tempest and Gypsy, from the Justice League Task Force days. Those two in particular are to him what Dick Grayson is to me, children of the heart. Even though they, like Dick, are now full-fledged heroes in their own right, those two are more than family for him.

He and I - like Clark and I - are like "twin sons of different mothers*" - so very alike in so many ways that we might have been brothers - but Orin had more volatile temperament and, frankly, a hotter temper than I. He also had the libido of a satyr, and the joke telling abilities of any sailor I've ever heard of - in my years as Batman, I've heard some very risque and ribald jokes on the street. Orin's best would have blistered the ears of the joke tellers I heard on the street.

Behind our backs (or so they thought, I can't help almost smiling), so many times over the years - especially in the last year - a lot of the superhero set would compare the two of us, and not favorably, either. The most common statement made about both of us would be that we were similarly arrogant.

And, at times, I suppose we were. Our backgrounds are sort of similar in places - we are both of aristocratic (in his case, truly royal) blood; we were both, in some ways abandoned - I was orphaned as a young boy and he was abandoned as a baby. We were both loners, unlike Clark and Diana - although all four of us were "different" in some way in childhood.

During the time we - and J'onn - were the mentors to a very inexperienced Justice League back in the JLTF days, Orin and I became close friends. At first, it was out of necessity - it made it easier to coordinate activities if we were on a friendly basis. Later, though, the emotional support was invaluable for supporting each other when some of our fledgling heroes didn't survive.

Over the last year or two, our individual responsibilities - mine to Gotham and his to Atlantis - have required that we both become more . . . hard and isolated. I enforce that because I want no one else that I care for hurt because they got close to me; Orin's, I believe, occurred because of the weight of the responsibilities of the Crown of Atlantis - and those who become close to a ruler could prevent his judgment from being impartial when impartiality is needed most of all. Unfortunately, that armoring has pushed away a lot of people that we care for and that care for us; after the Tower of Babel incident, and No Man's Land, I realized that the armoring may NOT have been the wisest of actions for either of us.

Most of the superhero community seem to have gotten the impression that Orin and I despise each other, especially over the last year. He was furious with me - and with much justification - after the Tower of Babel disaster, but I think he felt even more betrayed and hurt then angry with me.

Toward the time of his disappearance, he and I were beginning to come to terms again, and I would have explained my actions to him this week - we had planned a neutral get-together, in Gateway City, to try and settle our differences. Diana suggested it - she's ever the peacemaker for our tight- knit group, and I think we'd have long since throttled each other if not for her - and Orin agreed with the statement that "you seem to be more reasonable outside that mausoleum of a city you live in - and the water tastes rather less like toxic waste near Gateway City, anyway", so I agreed to it.

So, we'd planned a talk over dinner and drinks at the Brasilia grill (Diana especially recommended the steaks here) and then afterward, we could settle the issues and problems we'd really had with each other since before the earthquake that had leveled Gotham made the argument even more acerbic.

We were to have had that detente over dinner today. . .

But, instead of dinner, I'm eating the wonderful steak dinner I was recommended, holding a wineglass of Orin's favorite rotgut (though I don't normally drink, except on the VERY rarest of occasion) and drinking a quiet toast in his honor. The chair opposite me has a wineglass, also full, and a plate, filled to the brim with the foods I know he liked - after I've finished, I will take it, package it carefully, go incognito, and give it away to a homeless person, so the food is not wasted, and I will return to the Batcave.

And wonder what we might have said to each other to close the gulf that had grown in our friendship because of our pride.

Since I'm not able to talk to him directly, I guess I'll just have to set the record straight by recording what our friendship was REALLY like - I can admit that much to myself, and no one outside of the few . . . friends I have will ever know that it existed.

I have to keep SOME mystery in my life, after all, and image - especially the image of the untouchable, unapproachable Bat - is everything.

And, it amuses me to keep them guessing.





Author's notes:

* "Twin Sons of Different Mothers" is the title of a Dan Fogelberg/Tim Weisman (sp?) album from the 70's. I loved the title, and a song from it, "The Power of Gold".