Ok, so this is kind of a little bit of a side track from the 'brotherly-Wally-Dick-Roy' stories that I've been doing, but I've had this idea for CENTURIES in my head (ok, only after the episode 'Schooled'…). So, this was prompted due to the little meeting Bruce had with Clark about Superboy and I thought I would do another meeting where Bruce tries to demonstrate to Clark how to be a fatherly figure, instead of just telling him.
! I DON'T CLAIM TO OWN ANYTHING !
Clark watched through narrow eyes as Bruce Wayne and his young ward Richard Grayson approached him. At the moment the Man of Steel was sitting on a mall bench wonder what the heck he was doing here; and then he would go over the conversation the night before he had shared with the Dark Knight after a particularly hard fight against Clayface.
Batman stood off to the side glaring at the Man of Steel. They had just defeated Clayface and now Superman was eagerly watching the villain being brought to Arkham Asylum. Superman finally turned to Batman.
"What?" Superman asked innocently.
The Dark Knight's eyes narrowed and he stepped forward. "We need to talk."
Superman shook his head. "Oh, no! The last time you said that, you wanted to touch on…a touchy subject. I'm not falling for that again…"
Batman glared but turned toward the Batmobile. He threw over his shoulder, "Just meet me and Robin at the mall on Stein Street. Robin just wants to see you; it's been awhile, he said…"
And, of course, no one could resist Richard Gryaon's child-like character. So, Clark had given in. And that is why he now found himself sitting on the mall bench watching as Bruce Wayne and Richard Grayson neared. Sighing, the Man of Steel stood, only to be embraced by a hyper Dick.
"Clark! Man, it's been a long time…" Dick nearly yelled in his excitement.
Clark smiled, returning the embrace. "Yes it has, Dick. Have you been keeping up your grades?"
Dick stepped back and grinned. "You know it! I won my last Mathelete competition, too."
Bruce appeared besides his son and smiled at Clark. "Hello, Clark."
Clark just nodded at the other; he still was unsure if he should have accepted. Batman tended to be sneaky and a really good liar…
Dick frowned at the tension in the air, so he tugged on Bruce's sleeve. "Hey, Bruce?"
The older man's face softened as he looked down at his ward. "Yes?"
"Can I run ahead?" Dick questioned with a quirky grin on his face.
Bruce smiled. "Let me guess: you want to be there when Radio Shack puts the new Wayne Tech Ipad version 3-4 on display. Am I right?" The boy nodded excitedly and Bruce laughed. "Alright, but stay within sight."
And with that, the acrobat was off, followed slowly by Bruce and Clark. An uneasy silence drifted between the two superheroes and Bruce tried several different times to think of a way to break the ice. When nothing came to mind, he decided to not bring about the topic, but wait for an opportune time. So, instead, Bruce allowed the conversation to go casually.
"So, Clark, we haven't heard much from you; been busy?" Bruce tried to act casual.
Clark wearily eyed the man, but answered pleasantly, "Yes, I have been busy. You know the streets of Metropolis don't stay safe by themselves…" Sarcasm dripped from the words and he sent Bruce a glare.
The playboy frowned. "Come on, Clark; don't be like that. Let's be friends today; I don't want to ruin the day for Dick. He finally gets some free time and asks to spend it with you." They had reached the store and Dick had his face plastered against the glass, watching as the super-sleek technological advancement was placed on display.
Clark also frowned as he stopped walking where he was; Bruce continued toward the teenager, placing both hands on the thin shoulders also, watching the display being setup. The worker gave a wave in recognition to the duo, and the returned it cheerily.
Dick walked on, sending a grin over his shoulder, and Bruce watched his friend. Clark breathed out. "Alright, I will enjoy today; but I still say you have an ulterior motive…"
By noon, Dick had bought some items for the Mountain, muttering the needs of his comrades: Megan needed some more cooking utensils so he bought he a spatula and mixer; for Kaldur and Superboy, Dick bought new controllers for the Xbox (since Superboy kept destroying the others in frustration at the games) – and he decided that present would also cover Wally.
Clark had winced when Bruce pitched in ten dollars for the controllers, and Bruce shot him a quick glare. Clark had been stunned by that look of hostility and immediately shrunk back into his watchful manner. But now they were in the cafeteria eating tacos from Wambo-Tacos. Dick was chatting endlessly, filling the void between the two superheroes; but even he eventually shut up, slinking behind his dark shades.
Clark felt a little guilty, but quickly extinguished the feeling when Bruce sent him another glare. Bruce, sensing this was probably as good a time as any to bring up 'THE' conversation, patted Dick on the shoulder. The boy's head perked up as Bruce drew some money from his wallet.
"Here you go, Dick. Go get yourself some ice cream from Miss Walton and then spend some time in the arcade, ok?" Bruce handed the eager boy ten dollars: plenty for a cone from Miss Walton and a few games in the arcade.
Dick took the money with some hesitation before giving his father a hug and replying, "Thanks, Bruce! I'll pay you back for it, I promise!"
Bruce smiled at his ward. "Don't worry about it, Dick. Have fun today; go on, now…" Clark frowned.
Dick scampered off.
Bruce turned a death-glare on Clark; said reporter swallowed thickly. Bruce relaxed from his glare to swirling his straw around in his drink, trying to figure out how to approach the Man of Steel. Clark decided to speak up, interrupting the billionaire's thoughts.
"You sure you should have given Richard twenty dollars today?" Clark questioned. "You'll spoil him."
Bruce glared. "Should you really be judging my parental skills when you seem to lack any at all?"
Clark tipped his head to the side. "What's that supposed to mean?" Hoping against hope that the billionaire was not talking about what he thought the Bats was talking about.
Bruce pushed the tray aside and leaned forward. "Being a parent means listening to your kid; like I do with Dick. It also means that you spend quality time with them, such as going to the mall. It also means sometimes you spoil the kid, like helping out with twenty measly dollars!"
Heat flared up the back of Clark's neck; he gripped the table in anger.
Bruce sighed. "It also means that sometimes you have to acknowledge them… You can't ignore Superboy forever, Clark. One of these days, you will have to speak to him on a more personal level: like when he gets his first crush, when his friends from school are mean, so forth…"
Clark sneered. "Just like you helped Dick through his first crush?"
"Yeah, I remember who he went to: he went to Diana (aka, Wonder Woman)! He came to me for help; you didn't help him…" Dents and cracks started to appear on the table, blossoming from where the Man of Steel's hands were.
Bruce's face darkened and he stood up, sending a signature Bat-glare at Clark.
"I never said I was a perfect father-" Dick scampered over towards Bruce from the arcade, and the older man placed a hand on Dick's shoulder. "-but don't judge my parenting when you haven't even started yet." He turned to Dick. "Come on, let's go…"
Dick frowned at the shocked reporter, but nodded to his father anyway. "Yes, sir; 'bye, Clark!"
Clark released the table and nodded dumbly in Dick's direction. "Yeah, see ya around, kid…"
The Duos' retreating backs slowly disappeared outside, leaving a stunned and thoughtful hero behind…
Bruce slid into the front seat and Dick took the passenger. He watched as his father gripped the steering wheel and turned the key in anger. Dick winced as the engine turned over and Bruce slammed the car in reverse; Dick quickly slammed it back into park. Bruce looked down at the shift and calmly pulled it back in reverse. When he looked away, Dick once again pushed it into park. Now Bruce seemed irritated, but as he caught sight of Dick's hand resting on the shift he softened and released the steering wheel. He turned to give Dick his full attention.
Dick grinned and removed his hand from the shift, before becoming serious again. "I take it the Man of Steel is still in denial?"
Bruce looked quizzical and Dick laughed. "You knew? All this time, you knew I planned this meeting?"
Dick grinned. "Yup! I liked participating; you should bring me along more often. I think we struck something in him by demonstrating, not just ordering; I notice both Supeys have trouble taking orders..."
Bruce smiled before sighing. "Yes, Dick, the Man of Steel is still in denial; maybe someday someone will breakthrough to him. Let's just hope it won't be too late."
Dick nodded as Bruce reversed the car once again. "You know, Conner may be a clone, but he's still a person and still a part of Superman…"
Bruce backed out and placed the car in drive, before the name registered. He raised an eyebrow and glanced at Dick who was absently twiddling with the end of his sweater. "Conner, Dick?"
Dick grinned. "Yeah! We finally got him a civilian name! Isn't it great? It really fits him too! And I think it's starting to grow on him; he even corrects us when we call him Superboy." Dick puffed out his chest, lowered and deepened his voice, trying to mimic the clone. "It's Conner…" Dick giggled and looked at Bruce for support.
The Caped Crusader held a quirky smile on his face. "Good job, Richard. You're doing great on the team."
Now if only the Man of Steel weren't so thick headed, everything would be perfect…
Sooo, what'd you guys think? Please review! I may extend this from a one-shot to a mini series of 'Daddy-Bats & Denial-Supey' chats… Let me know if you guys want more or not!