A/N: Well…hello there shiny new fandom. It really was only a matter of time before I ended up writing for you. Le sigh. Anyway, I don't really know what this is or where it's going. I was looking at the "WHUMP the mentors" and "Uncle Clark" challenges over in the forums and this little diddy just sort of birthed itself. Should be done in no more than three parts. Enjoy.
P.S. Also could use a beta if anyone's interested.
Clark was certain that he was breaking the sound barrier as he cut through the air space between Gotham and Metropolis, just as he was certain he still wasn't flying fast enough. It was times like this that Clark cursed Bruce's stubborn paranoia; his bullheaded decision to limit those with access to his cave. Of course it made sense, logically, but logic had nothing to do with the panic Clark was feeling as Dick's desperate voice echoed in his ears.
("Clark! We're at the cave. It's Bruce! He's—" The young voice is cut off by crashing and shouting before the line goes dead)
He was the only one outside of the family who knew how to get in to the Batcave; the only one who could get past security measures without question, and he was glad to see that someone had the presence of mind to open the flight hanger door as he approached the sea cliff that housed the Dark Knight's secret sanctum.
The sight that greeted him when he entered was enough to freeze his blood. Alfred was on the ground, dazed, but moving. Bruce was a bloody mess, still in full uniform but cowl askew and mostly off his face. The look in his eyes was not that of a sane man, and his hands...his hands were wrapped around Robin's neck, squeezing and squeezing as the boy struggled to get free.
"Bruce!" the name was a battle cry, a warning meant to startle and distract as he descended at speed to knock the man from the boy, whose struggles were slowly ceasing. Robin crumpled to the ground gasping for breath, and Bruce screamed, a sound that was barely even human. What had happened to his friend? Bruce's eyes didn't even seem to be seeing him.
"Bruce!" he tried again, wrapping the man in a bear hug from behind, pinning his arms to keep him from lashing out. "Bruce, it's me. It's Clark," he spoke in steady tones. "I need you to calm down, alright?" Bruce continued his thrashing and screaming. "Bruce!" he hissed, giving his best friend a good shake, attempting to snap him out of this...fit...whatever it was.
"It's the Scarecrow's fear toxin, I'm afraid."
Clark looked to the side. Alfred had recovered his feet and was kneeling beside Robin who was still on the ground where he'd fallen.
"He managed to contact the cave and inform us he'd been hit with a particularly high dose. We've dealt with the toxin before, but it's never affected him like this."
"New...formula..."Bruce suddenly ground out, gasping and panting and tossing his head as he did. "Trying to...fight...have to..." pant "have to..." he fell back into thrashing and moaning as Clark held him in place.
"Mr. Kent, if you could get him into the infirmary and attach the restraints, I believe I can take him from here."
Clark nodded, hovering himself and Bruce through the air until he got to the room with its hospital bed and specially made restraints that could keep even Bruce in place when he needed to be. Bruce fought him every moment, but fortunately, Clark was the strongest man on Earth. He could handle one mostly out of commission Batman. He left his friend howling on the bed, fighting his restraints. It was not an easy thing to see or an easy thing to hear, even for someone as experienced as the man of steel. When he returned to the others, it was to find Dick clutching his hands over his ears, visibly shaking as the older man attempted to offer comfort.
Alfred looked up as he approached. "He shouldn't be here while master Bruce is so...indisposed."
This immediately caught Dick's attention, his head snapping up, eyes wide with panic. "No. I wanna stay here. I have to make sure he's ok." The boy flinched as Bruce gave a particularly loud cry, and Clark knelt next to him.
"Alfred will stay with Bruce," he said firmly. "You're coming home with me."
"I'll contact you as soon as Master Bruce is himself again, Master Richard. It think it best if you go with Mr. Kent."
Dick looked across the cave toward the room where his father was bound, sounding as if he'd lost his mind, and nodded without saying another word.
"Alright then," Clark said brightly, in a futile attempt to lighten the mood. "If you've got things covered from here, Alfred." He knelt, offering his back to Robin. "Shall we?"
He felt tiny hands grab his shoulders and the slight pressure of a body pressed against his back. Dick was still trembling slightly. He hoped a flight to Metropolis might help sooth that some.
"Good evening Master Richard, Mr. Kent." Alfred called as Clark took to the air.
"Bye Alfred," Dick offered, voice subdued, as Clark felt the boy's arms lock around his neck. Clark shared a significant look with Alfred, then he was making his way back out through the hanger, into the Gotham night.
It was a quiet, and much less hectic, flight back to Metropolis. The shaking in Robin's body stopped over time, but he didn't speak. Probably lost in thought as much as Clark was. He'd never seen Bruce like that before. There had been times in the past when he'd lost control, sure, but he'd never attacked Alfred; never attacked Richard. It was...unsettling. As unsettling as the sounds that echoed through the cave as they exited. He thought back on Alfred's words, on the look they shared before he took to the sky.
Clark wasn't foolish, and neither was Dick. All parties involved were fully aware that there was a possibility that Bruce would not be himself again for a long while. If ever. This was a new formula of fear toxin, there was no telling what it had done to Bruce's brain. But he tried not to think about this as he scanned the area around the building where he lived for prying eyes, then made his way to the balcony of his apartment. Normally he wouldn't have taken the risk of being seen, but right now his first priority was Dick. The boy was being entirely too quiet for his taste.
Robin slid off of his shoulders quietly. No flipping, no vaulting, none of the energy the young acrobat would usually show after a flight with Superman. Instead, he opened the glass sliding door and headed inside without a word.
"Dick," Clark called after him, moving to follow.
"Don't bother, Clark," Robin threw over his shoulder without looking back. "We both know that this could turn into a permanent arrangement. That's always been plan B, right? So just..."
"He's going to be fine,"
"YOU DON'T KNOW THAT!" The full fury of the thirteen-year-old vigilante was flung at him with the considerable force trained into him by the master intimidator himself. "Don't stand there and lie to me like I'm some naive little kid! We all know the risks of the job! He knew the risk! It was gonna catch up to him one of these days, so don't stand there and pretend like everything is sunshine and daisies!"
The shaking was back. Clark could hear it in the boy's voice, see it in the tension of his small frame. Clark was wary as he stepped forward to place a supportive hand on the boy's shoulder. Dick didn't pull away.
"He's never attacked me like that before, Clark." His voice was small and breaking. "The look in his eyes... It was like he didn't know me. Bruce would gouge his own eye out before raising a threatening finger to me, but tonight he tried to..." his voice hitched and Clark tightened his grip. "He almost..."
That was enough. Clark swept Dick up in his arms and carried him to the guest room that was set aside for him while the boy struggled to come to grips with what had happened that night. It was a testament to how lost he was that Dick didn't protest the action at all. Bruce really had almost killed him, and if Bruce was that far gone, was there hope for the man coming back? Was Bruce really even in there anymore?
Clark settled Dick on his bed and pulled out some of the boy's nightclothes from the dresser. "Get out of your gear," he instructed gently. "I'll be right back."
Clark took the time to change out of his own uniform before heading into the kitchen to heat some milk. He pulled cinnamon, coco powder, and marshmallows from the cupboards. All the ingredients needed for Uncle Clark's world famous hot chocolate. A couple of controlled bursts of heat vision sped the heating process for the milk so Dick was just pulling on his night shirt when Clark returned with two steaming mugs. He paused in the doorway, wincing at the dark, hand-shaped bruises that stood out against the pale skin of Dick's neck.
He didn't comment on them as he stepped forward and handed one of the mugs to his charge. Dick accepted the mug but didn't move to sip from it yet. It was probably still too hot. Clark, having no problems with the heat, lifted his mug to his lips and took a sip. It was the only sound to break the silence of the room. He glanced over at the boy beside him, taking in the bowed head, fallen shoulders. Defeat was everywhere in Dick's posture.
"We'll get through this." Clark offered, carefully wrapping an arm around the boy. No empty promises, no comforting lies. Just honesty as gently as he could word it. "No matter what happens. We'll get through."
Clark's heart nearly broke when Dick leaned fully into the half embrace and allowed himself to cry.