Disclaimer: Let's look at this logically shall we? If I owned Batman or any characters from DC comics, you would not be reading these stories in this medium. and I'd be getting paid. Neither are happening. So i own nothing. This is the only time I'll be saying so here, mostly because it's a pain in the rear saying so on every freakin' chapter and/or short story. *diez*
As a review, please read 'A Father's Request' first, as this is a continuation of that world. s/8024980/1/A_Fathers_Request Yes, this is AU. many details will be explained later, some at the bottom of this short. Just know, ages of the kids are important as it dictates part of their personalities and actions. So are birthdays. Other than Dick's, all my birthdate referencing comes from . I'll try to put their ages at the top of each chapter/short, but other times you really should just read the story and see for yourselves. Also I'll be adding a time line among other things here to help readers when I start jumping around. heh, can't always get inspiration chronologically.
Enough rambling. Enjoy the 'Daddy, not Bats' verse!
Dick-12 Jason-9 Cass-7 Tim-5
The Evening Everything Changed
"Are you sure we should be doing this?"
"We've talked this over a hundred times by now Flash. We need his support."
"I know Diana," Flash started, looking up to the ominous building before them. A large private residence sure, but it still intimidated the speedster. "But wouldn't it be better to talk to Mr. Wayne at his office or something? His home just seems…"
"He'll have to hide that he's supporting us," their leader interjected, looking around the grounds for a moment. "How can he hide that if we're always at his office?"
"I could have supported us just fine Superman. There's plenty of gold at the bottom of the ocean."
"And I have artifacts and gold galore on Themiscara," Wonder Woman added. "But in man's world, the surface world, they will want someone more financially stable. I have learned this much Aquaman. I assumed you had as well."
The king of Atlantis rolled his eyes and looked away in slight defeat. They all knew they needed this man's resources. His price for giving them to their League was very reasonable too. Protect his city, protect his family. Wayne was just trying to save what mattered most to him, but couldn't do it with just money. He needed them. Gotham was a really dangerous place.
"Well I for one am looking forward to meeting the billionaire. Maybe he'll let me take a spin in one of his fancy cars."
Flash laughed at his friend. "I'm surprised you aren't gonna ask for a fighter jet from him Hal."
This Green Lantern grinned. "Who knows, I might. May even get him to hire me as a test pilot on their next model. Wayne Tech can't fire a thing worth crap but they fly really well.
"What about you J'onn," he turned to their Martian. "What are you hoping to gain from this arrangement? A life time supply of Oreos?"
Manhunter shrugged. "Thought that would be most satisfying, I would just be satisfied with having a place to call my own. I have yet to integrate with your world's people and it's quite unnerving."
Superman smiled kindly at his fellow alien before looking over his newly made team. They were just associates before, but with Bruce Wayne's backing, they could become a real team, a real force to be reckoned with. One that could protect the Earth again and again. They had two aliens, two royals of hidden lands, and two average Joes who gained powers through accidents. Now they were going to talk to someone completely different to them all. The man who once was Batman.
Course he hadn't told this friends there that part. He was going to pretend he didn't hear the end of that conversation the last time he saw the Waynes. He didn't think it was his place to tell them either. This was, after all, the Batman. No powers, at all, and for five years put the fear of God into the hearts of criminals in his city. One mere mortal man. He would have gone on longer, but something happened four years ago. Something that changed his life forever.
He adopted a kid.
From the conversation he had with the man last time, Superman pieced it together. Wayne took in one kid who needed help after a crime, solved the case, then made a choice between raising the kid and being a good dad to him, or being Batman and not really being a dad at all. He chose fatherhood. And for the most part, that was the end of Batman.
And about three weeks ago, Bruce Wayne made an offer to him, and practically all this friends, that was too tempting to pass up. He would have come by earlier, but there were complications. Aliens tried to invade for one, and getting hold of Aquaman was another. This was their first chance to talk to the billionaire since then. He just hoped it wasn't too late or too inconvenient.
"I'm certain he'll help you with that," Superman concluded, his mind returning to the task at hand. They were just outside the doorway of Wayne Manor now. "He said he could secure a job for me in case I needed it. So I'm sure he'll do what he can to help us."
"Secure you a job?" Aquaman raised an eyebrow. "Does this man know who you are?"
The man of steel shrugged. "Possibly? I don't know."
"Well, here's how we find out." Hal pressed the doorbell, letting everyone hear the musical ringing that followed. They did not account for the yelling that came with it.
"I GOT IT!" "NO ME!" "MY TURN! MY TURN!" "YOU'RE TOO LITTLE!" "YOU'RE A MEANIE FACE!" "RACE YA!" "CHEATER!" "I'M GONNA TELL!" "TATTLETALE!" "WHEEE!"
The adults all looked at each other, then to Superman. He gave a helpless shrug. "I did say he had kids, right?"
Thankfully the door opened revealing a proper British butler instead of one of the screaming boys. Perfectly composed, he looked over each of them before smiling politely. "Ah. Mr. Superman, Miss Wonder Woman, Mr. Flash, Mr. Lantern, Mr. Aquaman, and Mr. Manhunter. I see you have taken Master Bruce's open invitation to visit us. Please, come in."
The butler stepped aside to let them in and they took it, slightly surprised at the formality of the man when they already heard more screaming and running further in the building. The older man shut the door behind them, as polite as ever. "I am afraid Master Bruce is currently at a business meeting, but he informed us he will be arriving home shortly."
There was a crash somewhere further in the building, alerting all their attentions. "NOT MY FAULT!" "YOU BREAK IT, YOU FIX IT!" "HOW?" "I DUNNO."
"Not soon enough," GL muttered, a smirk coming to his face.
The butler took a breath before speaking again, almost begging for patience. "Please excuse the inevitable fights and messes. The three boys who reside here are quite rambunctious. May I take your… capes?"
Almost on cue, the twelve year old of the family slid to a halt before them, ready to charge to the door. It was clear he ran as fast as he could to get to the door, because his face fell when he saw people were already inside and the butler was already there.
"Alfie…" he whined, not realizing yet who had come in. "I wanted to get it!"
"Running through hallways, shouting at the top of your lungs, all to open the door first, is not proper decorum Master Richard." The older man's chiding made the boy shrink back slightly. "I certainly hope you did not swing off the chandelier to arrive first."
The young man looked away, biting his lip in guilt. The older man gave an exasperated sigh. "Whatever will we do with you"
"Sorry Alfred," Dick murmured, looking at his socks.
Alfred sighed again before giving the guests an apologetic look. He turned back to the boy, approaching him slowly. "Just what was the crash I heard a moment ago?"
"Umm…" The kid looked back the way he came, thinking out loud. "I think Jason crashed into an end table. Or a wall. Maybe both? I think a picture fell. One with some dogs on it. No glass, so I don't think they got hurt."
The butler rubbed his eyes. "Go back upstairs and help them patch it up before Master Timothy takes out the glue again."
Dick smirked, laughing a little at the memory. "You have to admit, that was kinda funny."
Quickly he threw up his hands and backed off. "Okay okay. I'm going." Before leaving, he looked back to the guests, probably to give an apology for his actions. Instead his eyes grew wide in recognition. "Oh my gosh…"
"You can entertain Master Bruce's guests after you and the others have cleaned up the mess you've made." Alfred stated plainly.
"But…" It was clear he wanted to talk to them over anything else.
"The sooner it's taken care of, the sooner you can play. I will be taking them to the parlor," he assured the boy. This brought a huge grin to the kid's face, his eyes sparkling with mischief as he darted back towards where he came. Disgruntled, the butler called after him, "Walk, don't run! Do not add a Ming Vase to the casualty list!"
"NO PROMISES!" Though the kid had said that, his footsteps became less intense, as if he was walking very fast instead of sprinting.
Alfred shook his head, offering his arm toward Superman for the cape once more. "I knew that boy would be the death of us when he first came here," he said lowly, a drop of humor in his voice. "Then came three others with just as many challenges. Your cape sir?"
Superman smiled kindly. "I think Dick and the others would prefer I kept it on. Thanks for offering."
"Indeed sir." The butler put his arm down, smiling pleasantly. "But do know the children's whims tend to… at times… make us uneasy. I'd advise against any flights, indoors or out, until Master Bruce is home. And please, try to keep them off of the chandeliers and other breakables when they display their skills. And know, that despite their ages, they are rather bright young fellows. Do not just humor them, and do not underestimate them. You will feel silly if you do.
"This way, if you would." As any proper gentleman's gentleman, Alfred guided them through the manor towards an open parlor, not far from the stairs or dining room. They could even hear the boys' faint talking upstairs, coming up with some solution for the problem they made while trying to fix it.
As they came in, they spotted the seven year old Asian girl listening to her ipod while reading a decent sized book. She saw them seconds after they arrived, gasping slightly as she hid behind her book. Superman gave her a slight smile, remembering how shy she was last time. Wonder Woman smiled warmly towards her, approaching her quickly as a fellow sister. "Hello there little—"
The girl was instantly on her feet, flipping over the back of the couch she was sitting on, before running around them all to hide behind Alfred. Hal and Flash bit back laughs as Diana's face grew to shock. Superman rubbed the back of his head awkwardly while Aquaman and Manhunter just watched the interaction bemused. Alfred gave a soft sigh.
"Please forgive Miss Cassandra. She does not easily associate with strangers." The kind butler looked down to the girl hiding behind his legs. "It's alright dear. This is the Justice League, associates of Master Bruce. As you can see, here's Aquaman, the king of Atlantis, Martian Manhunter, the last survivor of Mars, The Flash, fastest man alive, Green Lantern of said Corps, and Wonder Woman, Princess of Themiscara and the Amazons. I believe you've met Superman before, when Master Bruce proposed a solution for both Gotham and the League. There is nothing to be frightened of."
The man's reassurances didn't seem to help the young girl gain any courage to talk to them. Rather, it seemed Cassandra hid even further behind him, barely poking her eyes out to keep an eye on them cautiously. Her apparent fear of people in general saddened the Amazon greatly, especially since she was the one the girl ran from first. Superman decided to break the tension. "Well, if it's just strangers you're scared of missy, then we'd better start being friends. You like to read?"
Cassandra just stared at him, making no indication that she understood what he was saying. The Kryptonian tried not to get disgruntled. He heard the girl talk before. Just one word then, but she could speak. He wanted to hear her voice again. "I saw you were reading Harry Potter. I like Harry too. What's your favorite part?"
Again she said nothing, merely hid her face in Alfred's pants. Her book and ipod laid on the couch where she abandoned them moments ago. Hal came over to them and stopped the playlist as a courtesy, then blinked. "Hey, is it normal to read and listen to a book at the same time?"
The butler gave a heavy sigh, giving up on something. "Miss Cassandra has difficulty speaking," he explained, laying a hand on her head. "Her birth parents neglected teaching her to speak or read. This is one of her personal studies, to help her catch up to her class."
"Her birth parents?" Flash asked quizitively.
"How could anyone not teach such an important skill?" Wonder Woman asked with concern.
"They were not very good people," Alfred said shortly, sparing anymore explanation at the girl's expense. "She considers Master Bruce her father now, as do the boys. Now if you would pass me her possessions so she can continue her book elsewhere."
As the space cop passed over the ipod and book to the butler, they heard several sets of feet rushing down the stairs nearby. Before they knew it, three very excited boys came crashing into the room, broad grins on their faces.
"Oh my gosh! It's really them!" the green eyed one shouted excitedly. "You really weren't kidding Dickybird."
"Of course I wasn't kidding!" Dick retorted, boldly charging in to get close to Superman. "Why would I lie about them? We've been waiting three weeks to hear back from Superman, remember?"
"Is Blue Beetle here?" The third and smallest of them tottled in last, his breathing harsher than his brothers.
The middle one rolled his eyes. "Of course not Timmy. He's off in Hub doing his own thing. He's not really League material anyway."
"Yes he is!" Timmy insisted, pouting while he glared. "He's really good! He saves people, fights bad guys and is really smart!"
"Hello!" Dick interrupted, waving over to the manor's guests. "We have the League here! Pay attention peoples!"
"Fanboys." The one who had to be Jason shook his head, trying not to laugh. Must not look cool for a nine year old to go crazy when famous superheroes were in the room. He looked over to Cassandra in curiosity. "Hey, what you hiding for? They aren't Shadows, and they certainly aren't assassins. Not with those outfits on."
He thumbed over to the Leaguers all beginning to settle down around the room, some with more caution than others. Dick was already asking Superman a million questions, plus kept asking if he'd take him flying soon. Timmy also courageously came up to Flash and Martian Manhunter, asking them about their powers and how their costumes worked. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman kept their eyes on the last two while Aquaman was perfectly content lounging in his high back chair to watch the whole event unfold.
"I mean, we've got a green flashlight, a bathing suit, the jolly green giant, red long johns, captain underpants, and orange fish dude." Jason's rude remarks on the whole League's individual uniforms earned quick glares from nearly everyone, and a very disappointed scowl from Alfred. It did put a slight smile on the girl's face though. "There's no way they'd get away with killing anyone, and we've heard Dick praise Superman enough to know he doesn't hurt kids. So stop hiding like that."
"Jolly green giant?" Timmy asked curiously, looking up to the Martian owlishly. Everyone had to smirk a little as the rude little kid successfully pulled Cassandra out from behind her human shield. She still stayed close to Jason, but wasn't as skittish as before. And he was tugging her closer to the League.
"Hey, flashlight!" the kid started, grinning up at Hal. "Got any stories about space alien bad guys?"
Hal couldn't help but to roll his eyes at the boy. "Kid, don't call me that. Only one guy's gotten away with it and you're not him."
"And who was that?"
He groaned internally. He really didn't want to remember, especially in Gotham. "Batman. That guy who ditched the world four years back."
To that all the kids looked at him, raising their eyebrows. Dick was the one who answered. "He didn't ditch us. He just changed tactics. Didn't you tell them?"
He and the others turned their eyes to Superman, who nodded guiltily. "I told them. You told me Batman had kids now and had to take care of them. He still works behind the scenes though right?"
"Duh," Jason piped in. "Who'd want to give that up?" His sister nodded emphatically, shortly followed by broad smiles from the rest.
"Batman's saved each of us at one time or another," Dick explained to the rest of the League. "He's just being a lot more cautious when he is out and minimizing his activities. Officially he's 'retired' but I don't think anyone in this business can retire."
A few Leaguers exchanged glances, then shrugged. There were a few who had tried, but very few were successful at it. They knew different members of the Justice Society, and they didn't stay down for very long. Diana's mother might qualify as retired, but she wasn't really.
"So," Jason edged on, grinning impishly at Hal, "would you say Batman ditched us if he were in the room right now? He's a pretty tough guy ya know."
"Would anyone care for a cup of tea before dinner?" Half the room jolted as Alfred brought in a tray with enough cups for everyone and a hot kettle of Earl Grey Tea. There was also a specially prepared chocolate pot for the children.
"Uhhh… Sure." Quickly the cups were passed around as the butler worked his way around the room serving them tea. He gave an odd look to the nine year old as he came near him, one no one could quite describe. Jason looked away with a guilty smirk after taking some chocolate, making his siblings snicker knowingly.
"What? No scones?" Dick objected as he served himself a cup of his favorite beverage.
"Dinner will be within the hour," Alfred informed them. The eldest seemed to roll his eyes at that reasoning, causing his siblings to snicker again. "I anticipate Master Bruce will wish you to stay for the meal so you may discuss matters in detail."
"Need any help?" Timmy offered, looking up at him inquiringly. Cassandra seemed to be asking the same thing with her eyes, eager to follow him out of the room and where she felt more comfortable.
"I could use some assistance in setting the table for our guests." Before the words finished leaving his mouth the two younger kids were racing out the door towards the dining room, ready to help. The old man raised his eyebrows for a moment, sighing slightly before looking to the elder ones. "Pleases keep our guests entertained until your father arrives. And do not start any fights."
"Don't you trust us?" Jason joked, faking offence.
Dick joined in, mocking shock. "Really Alfred! Just what did we do to earn your distrust!"
"I would give you both a list of previous actions if I were not worried for the china at the moment. If you'll excuse me." With that, the kindly butler excused himself from the room to ensure the smallest two members of this mishmash family did not destroy any of the flatware in an attempt to be helpful. Alfred's actions along with the kids' joking demeanor brought smiles to each of the heroes' faces. Especially when the boys continued playing off of it.
"You'd thing after all this time he'd trust us a little more."
"Just what did we do? I thought we were little angels."
"Well you're the one who broke the chandeliers."
"Oh shut up." Dick returned his attention to their guests, shaking his head in slight frustration. Apparently he really didn't want to start a fight. He returned his attention to Superman setting his cup aside. "So, how about that flight?"
"Well…" The man of steel wasn't so sure. The rest of his friends seemed content to sip their tea and watch their interactions.
"Is that all you ever think about?" Jason walked around the room, checking out each Leaguer rather than focusing on a single one. "Flying?"
"That's all I think about," Hal piped in, smirking at the boys.
"It's actually lots of fun," Superman said in the older boy's defense.
"Yeah!" Dick answered with a grin. "Who wants to keep their feet on the ground?"
"Uh, those who don't like falling?"
"Oh come on!" the older one tried again. "You've flown!"
"That was falling with style," Jason pointed out, "and you made me do it."
"Do what?" Wonder Woman asked out loud. The others were starting to wonder as well. They looked over to Dick for answers. And he just shrugged.
"Been teaching them how to use a trapeze and do gymnastics and stuff. It kinda feels like flying if you do it right." He grinned at the man of steel again. "So, after dinner can we go flying? Really flying?"
It seemed every fiber of this kid's being wanted to do exactly this. Those there who could fly couldn't blame the kid for wanting to as well. His brother didn't seem near as impressed by the idea but didn't seem to object further. Maybe he secretly wanted to fly too.
"Only if your father agrees," Superman stated evenly.
"YES!" Dick jumped around excitedly, grinning from ear to ear at the possibility of flight. It was almost heartwarming to watch him.
"Sweet." Jason did a quick flip over the back of the couch and landed next to Wonder Woman, grinning. "That'd'll be so cool. So, they say you're an Amazon. What's the story behind that?"
"Hey! Can you tell us about how you guys all met?" The older brother, not to be out done, did a quick back flip before landing on an end table and propping himself up on it with his hands, doing splits in the air. "I bet that was so cool! Wasn't it like some kind of alien invasion or something?"
"Dick…" The younger one tried in annoyance.
"What?" he raised his eyebrows at him. "You wanna know too. I mean, you can only get so much intel from news reports and random eyewitnesses. It's always better to get the story from the source."
"But don't you think Cass and Timmy would like to hear it too?"
"They won't take long." Jason grinned back to the princess again. "So, what's your story?"
The boy's eagerness to hear their tales, both individually and collectively, made them smile. It was good to know they really wanted to hear what they had to say and were more than content to listen. It was becoming clearer why Mr. Wayne had asked for their help to protect them; they were just too lovable and impish for their own good.
As Diana opened her mouth and told them her tale, Dick seemed to settle down (still sitting on the table instead of a chair) and Jason became enthralled by what she had to say. About ten minutes later, Timmy and Cassandra rejoined them, both settling on the ground to hear the heroes tell them about their many adventures. All four of them were very good listeners and occasionally asked questions. Timmy in particular kept asking why certain things had happened and how other things worked. Dick just asked about the other people involved or why the other side did what they did. Jason kept edging on the story after the interruptions and Cass kept quiet, watching them all in her shy way. The visitors found themselves sharing more than they intended because of their captive audience.
It was Aquaman's turn to tell them about their adventures when the girl jerked up straight and turned around with a snap. A smile grew on her face as she nearly leapt to her feet. Her sudden actions drew everyone's attention. "What's up Cass?"
She was already out of the parlor before Timmy also jumped up and ran after her. Dick was grinning as he flipped off the end table. "Alright! Bruce's home! Dinner time!"
Different leaguers chuckled at the kids' actions. The oldest of them stopped short of the door before looking back to Jason. "You coming?"
"Nah, I'll let the cute ones test the waters first." This brought a thinking glare to the older boy's face before the trouble maker brushed it off. "Besides, someone's gotta stay with our guests, right?"
Dick seemed to think it over for a moment before shrugging and heading towards where the others went. "Your loss."
The heroes exchanged looks as they stood up. Hal looked over to Jason curiously. "Test the waters?"
The kid grinned impishly, shrugging slightly as he came closer to the doorway. "Dad gets a little grumpy and really broody from time to time. He can't stay mad with Timmy and Cass though. Even Dickybird gets him happy in minutes. I'm usually a reason why he's mad."
"DADDY!" they could hear through the halls, followed by a dull thump. Superman decided to look through the walls to see what was going on, something the rest of his friends wished they could do as well.
Bruce Wayne, haggard from a day of work at the office, was just coming into the more populated parts of the manor when his youngests slammed into his legs, giving very tight hugs. His briefcase had fallen out of his hands at impact and he quickly put his hands on both their heads in an attempt to keep balance. Timmy had immediately started talking to him about his day, grinning all the while before some confusion came to the man's face. Dick finally came into view as the other two's grips loosened from the man's legs and started explaining what had happened recently. Confusion became surprise and for a moment it seemed like the man was looking straight at the man of steel.
"Oh, so you're the trouble maker around here are you?" Flash joked.
"I have my moments." Jason was still grinning. "Dick used to get Dad called to the principal's office too, but then he threatened to take away his trapeze set or not let him go out with friends if he didn't behave. Alfred said both of us are just going through a phase or something. I just think its nature versus nurture."
"Where'd you hear a phrase like that?" Aquaman asked, intrigued by this child and the others. He and his wife were trying for a child of their own. Were all children like these four?
The kid shrugged. "School? TV? Maybe somewhere around Dad's office? Dunno. I pick up a lot of weird things everywhere."
"I bet you do." Hal ruffled the kid's hair playfully. He was beginning to like this boy, even if he did call him a flashlight. "So, what's the best prank you've pulled?"
Jason's grin only grew. "If I told you that, I'd still be grounded." He peaked out the doorway and waved his hand. "Hey Dad! Welcome back."
Bruce Wayne came into everyone's view a moment later, closely followed by Timmy and Dick. The youngest was trying to carry their father's brief case and the older was trying to kindly take it from him; the thing was too heavy and awkward for the little guy. Wayne ruffled the resident trouble maker's hair for a moment before looking over to the visitors.
He still seemed to be in a bit of a foul mood. Or maybe a slight glare was his natural state. They didn't know, but the boys didn't seem to be disturbed by it. The billionaire's eyes locked on the man of steel. "I thought you were going to come to my office. Two weeks ago."
"I told you!" Flash immediately interjected, jerking around to their leader. The two older kids laughed, quickly followed by their younger brother. Even their father looked over to the scarlet speedster and smirked a little. He continued to razz on the kryptonian. "You two met at his office when he made the offer, it's only implied you do the same if you're going to accept it!"
"I just thought…" Superman's mind went blank, realizing now he should have done this on his own at Wayne's office after all.
"Oh Hera." Wonder Woman shook her head at the two men, and the Lantern starting to laugh at them as well. She looked over to the owner of the house, offering an apology. "Please excuse our intrusion. If this is a bad time or place, we can come back at a later date."
"It's not that." Bruce waved off her offer, giving a heavy sigh. "It's just been a long couple of weeks. And what I keep finding about my Ex…"
"Told ya she was evil," Dick murmured behind him. He finally managed to get the case from the younger boy and stop laughing.
"And did you really want that demon for a father-in-law?" Jason piped it. Their dad gave them both shrewd glares before both wisely clamped their mouths shut.
Wayne shook his head slightly before looking back to the heroes before him. "So, you're the Justice League. Welcome to Wayne Manor. I see the kids haven't scared you off yet." The boys snickered impishly at the statement. "So I can only assume you wish to discuss my proposition further. Over dinner?"
"You have dinner really early don't you." Green Lantern looked over to one of the clocks in the room and stopped when he realized it was nearly seven. They'd been in the place for nearly an hour. How time flew. "Or not…"
The billionaire raised an eyebrow at him. "It takes a while to get them to bed."
A polite cough brought their attention back around to the butler that seemed to appear and disappear at a moment's notice. Behind Alfred was Cassandra, biting her lip and shifting nervously. She wasn't as shy as before, but was clearly eager to move on. "Dinner is served."
"YEAH!" All three boys darted behind the gentleman and took their sister with them to the dining room for the meal they'd been waiting for. They must have been starving.
"Walk!" Both their father and butler projected in unison. They were answered with giggling. Bruce gave a heavy sigh, shaking his head as he and the old man guided their guests to the large dining room. "Really, they have too much energy some times. This way please."
The six exchanged amused glances as they followed the two men and were soon greeted yet again by excited children. Dick grabbed Superman's hand and started pulling him to a particular seat. "Sit with me! This is gonna be so cool!"
"Dick…" the warning in his father's voice was ignored as Jason made a similar grab for Wonder Woman.
"Hey! Sit here! Dad'll love it."
"Well you will." The one woman in the room was pulled toward the chair to the left hand side of head of the table. Superman was guided to it's right. Both boys situated themselves on their opposite side while Cassandra took Jason's left and Timmy Dick's right. The youngest had pulled Flash to his side and Green Lantern sat next to him. Martian Manhunter situated himself next to the young girl and Aquaman next to him, pouting slightly. He was a king and wasn't used to being so far away from the head of the table. Bruce gave him an apologetic look and motioned to the children as an explanation. At least he knew what proper seating was, but for the kids' sakes, the king let it slide.
Everyone seated, the head of the household took his seat and looked towards Alfred. "Shall we?"
"Wow," Jason stated probably for the fifth time that night as he stared at Flash, "you eat a lot."
"No kidding." Dick watched as the seventh express delivery pizza box was handed back over to Alfred behind the speedster. They had called for ten boxes after he had cleaned his plate three times within the first ten minutes of the meal. And he swore he was eating slowly.
"How come you're not fat?"
"Timmy." Bruce's chiding only made the rest of the people there look away awkwardly and laugh to themselves. They all wondered the same thing.
But Flash laughed. It was a normal thing little kids asked him. "It's alright. I've got a hyper-accelerated metabolism. Its how my body supplies the energy I need to move as fast as I do. So I constantly need refueling, and I eat a lot."
"Whoa." Jason's eyes were as wide as saucers, his mind churning at the thought. Watching the man eat had ruined Cass' appetite about half way through the meal and she had pushed her plate away from her with half of its contents still there. Dick and Timmy had broken off other conversations to watch the show in sick fascination. "How's the plumbing at your house?"
But the boy's comment started a series of snickers and choked laughs around the table. Even the speedster gave a short snort. His father though still glared at him. "Rule six."
"Ooo… Broke it again."
"Oh shut it Dick." The boy glared at his older brother across the table. "You were thinking it too."
"Pft, I'm not the one who said it." The eldest there threw up his hands, grinning impishly.
Hal down the way laughed. "You know, I've always wondered what happened to all the—"
"Don't encourage them," Wayne ordered quickly, rubbing away the tension growing in his head. The meal was pretty much over and they had switched subjects several times because of the kids there, but they still managed to conclude their deal during the course of it. He looked to the clock for a moment then to his guests. "I'm afraid we need to end this visit shortly. Timothy and Cassandra need to start heading for bed."
"Awww… but I wanna stay up more!" Timmy whined loudly. Cassandra was pouting in her chair but as always said nothing.
"Everyone has school tomorrow," he reminded them quickly, "and your bedtime is at eight. Eight thirty at the latest. Jason should probably be heading up there too."
"Ah come on!" Jason objected loudly. "I don't have to go to bed 'til nine!"
"And judging by how long it takes you to actually get in there you may as well start now." It was a very logical statement, and everyone there had to agree.
The boy scowled at him for a moment before speaking. "If I have to go, then so should Dick."
"I don't take near as long as you do!" the preteen objected. "Why should I—"
"Enough." Superman covered his mouth in amusement, exchanging looks with Wonder Woman across the way as the head of the household ended the argument entirely. "All of you get ready for bed. If you can manage to get it done in the next fifteen minutes, you can see the League off. Clear?"
He didn't get a verbal answer. Instead each of them exchanged wide eyed looks before leaping out of their seats and racing up stairs to their rooms to do just that. Many of the Leaguers watched them leave with smiles on their faces.
"I'm taking that as a 'crystal'," Hal joked.
Bruce grunted in response, taking one last sip of his glass. "My apologies for their behaviors. They are all very… willful to say the least."
"Sounds like a good place to recruit," the space cop commented again. This time though he received a hard glare.
"No. They stay out of this." Wayne shook his head ruefully. "They're in enough danger as is, I don't want them running headlong into bullets and monsters. And they've seen enough already."
"I was just kidding." The man did not expect that look coming his way. "Besides, I think the Core has an age requirement. Your kids are plenty safe."
"I certainly hope so." He gave them all a pointed look. "I'm counting on all of you to do what I can't."
"Just remember," Aquaman reminded him, "we have our duties in our homelands and cities as well. The fate of the universe will be a priority to them."
"Understandable." The CEO interlaced his fingers as he leaned onto the table. "And my children aren't entirely helpless. But in the case that the world isn't being invaded or threatened by disasters, I do want them and Gotham to be a priority. This is my only requirement for my services."
"And you're really prepared to supply us with the most updated technology and resources, plus provide each of us covers when we need them." The man nodded to Wonder Woman's statement.
"Man, do you really understand the risks you're taking?" Flash wasn't so sure he wanted to bring in this man, especially the kids. His girlfriend had a nephew and he wanted to make sure both of them stayed safe at all times. "You'll have to hide the fact you're supporting us. That'll include cooking the books and playing with your finances just to keep the IRS from looking in on you. This could bring down your company."
Bruce smirked knowingly. "Let me worry about that."
"And the technology?" Flash continued. "Someone is bound to notice in your R&D department all the missing tech."
"Like I said, I'll deal with it."
"How exactly are you going to deal with that?" Hal demanded. The knowing smile on the man's face was beginning to creep him out. "Okay, scratch that. Really your problem. I'm actually more curious about that whole information thing you also promised. How are you going to manage that?"
He raised an amused eyebrow at the space cop before looking around to the others. Superman was neatly keeping his mouth shut while looking elsewhere while Manhunter was seemingly more interested in the cookies left on the table. Everyone else was looking at him in bafflement. Still the man smirked. "Still haven't figured it out yet."
"Figured out what?" Each of the human Leaguers exchanged looks of pure confusion.
"He's done this before." For the more part of the evening, J'onn had kept his mouth shut. He knew something was up when he did a slight mental probe of the house hold and found every mind shielded to a certain extent. So he had to use his acquired detective skills, plus Superman's thoughts which never were shielded.
"What?" "Why?" "How?" "Really? He's done this before? When?"
"Take a moment and think, Hal." His smirk was scaring the space cop, along with hearing his real name from the man's lips. How did he… "Barry, Arthur, Diana, John, Clark."
This brought all their eyes on him, shocked and somewhat horrified that he knew each and every one of their civilian first names. Though some of them didn't really hide it, the fact he would quickly reveal it without any hesitation. Superman in particular was upset. "What are you doing?"
"Leveling the playing field." He looked the kryptonian straight into the eye now. "You know what I'm talking about."
"You know… that I know…"
"You dropped ten feet in the air mere seconds after we said it."
The alien looked away in frustration. "I haven't told them!"
"Told us what?" It was getting frustrating the way the two were talking. All the others were both offended and scared by how they talked about some crucial detail they didn't know, without being specific. "What are you two hiding? What's the big secret here?"
"He is Batman."
Everyone froze and slowly turned to the Martian for a moment. He only raised a preverbal eyebrow. "Superman needs to learn how to shield his mind from stray thoughts."
"Hm. We can work on that."
They all stared at the amused detective now, definitely laughing at them deep inside. The League just gaped at him, each remembering rumors and brief encounters with the urban legend little over four years ago. Most of them didn't want to meet him again under any circumstances. Besides being scary and difficult to deal with, he insulted most of them on a personal level. And how he was offering, or perhaps blackmailing them, into working for him. They knew this was too good to be true.
"Seriously. You're Batman?" Flash demanded, remembering the one time their paths crossed about five years ago. He made a jab at his disguise, said it was useless in Gotham and that he should have stayed in Central.
"Was." Bruce leaned back into his chair. "I retired officially four years ago after closing the Zucco/Grayson case."
"Why?" GL demanded. Being called a bright green flashlight without anything in his head was just one of the things that ticked him off about the man. "Why did you—"
"You met why."
They all stopped for a moment as they remembered the kids who minutes ago ran out of that room in a frenzy just so they could see their heroes off before bed. Then they remembered the offer. It all started to click in their heads. Before coming there, each of them had looked up Bruce Wayne's history. They knew about his parents' murder. They knew about his time abroad. They knew he had quite the reputation as a playboy philanthropist. Then four years ago, just months before anyone had heard of Batman again, he adopted one Richard Grayson.
"I couldn't risk Dick losing his parents twice," he stated evenly. "So I retired. One became two, then three and four. And I wouldn't trade them for the world."
Wayne crossed his utensils on his plate before taking another sip of his glass. Alfred had returned to the room with some evening coffee, silently pouring cups for each of them there. Each cup was placed within easy reach of the Leaguers as the head of the household continued, taking his coffee.
"Which is why I made the offer. I've kept my skills up and still believe in my mission, but I can't go out on patrol like I used to. Gotham is still a cesspool of crime and corruption, but my support of the police and particularly good officers like Jim Gordon, has changed it over the years. You can trust him and his crew if no one else. I've kept my ear to the ground here, and abroad. My skills and resources are open to you still, on the same conditions I presented to you. Make Gotham a priority, and protect my family. That's all I ask in return.
"So," he looked them all in the eye, reminding each of them of their small moments with the Bat, "are you still interested?"
The six heroes exchanged looks, not speaking to each other with words or with thoughts. None of them were entirely certain if this was going to work, but the offer was too good to pass up. And, he had 'leveled the playing field', as he put it. They had his greatest secret, and he had theirs. In a way, he was asking to join the League, and making it clear that they needed him just as much as he needed them.
After a minute or two of silence, each of them nodded. Superman turned to Bruce, smiling confidently. "How could we refuse."
"You have a deal Mr. Wayne," Wonder Woman stated evenly.
"Yeah Bats," Hal decided, grinning. "Can't wait to start working with you. And can I get a jet while I'm at it?"
"Everything within reason." Bruce pushed himself out of his chair. "You do have covers to keep after all."
"Does that mean J'onn doesn't get his Oreos?" Flash joked as he and the others also stood up.
This caused the CEO to raise an eyebrow. "Oreos?"
"What?" Flash and GL jokingly gasped. "The great Batman knows each of our names but doesn't know Martian Manhunter's favorite food?"
A few of the others laughed at the confused scowl on the businessman's face. Superman tried to make it kinder. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure you'll get to know each of us better as time goes on."
The Bat grunted. He led them out of the dining room and to the front entrance as he told them a few more immediate details. "I've already sent a private communications satellite in space for future use. The range covers the entire globe and even our moon. Communicators will be sent to your homes and apartments in the next few days by carrier. Other useful supplies for your cave hideout will be placed at the East Metropolis warehouse district at noon tomorrow. You'll want to install them immediately."
"That was fast," Diana murmured.
"When I want something done, I make sure it happens now," he informed them.
"How do you know about the cave?" Aquaman demanded, not really happy the man knew so much.
That smirk appeared again. "I've kept tabs on each of you, and quite a few others over the years. There's little I don't know going on in the crime fighting community. Professionally that is." He gave them a quick knowing look. "Even knocked a few people off your scents. Particularly yours Kent."
"Really?" High above the confused alien he heard rushing feet coming towards them again.
Bruce nodded. "Luthor is a headache I wish I could remove permanently, but I haven't been able to find a legitimate reason to put him behind bars that isn't circumstantial."
"Wait," Superman started in surprise. "You've dealt with Lex Luthor?"
"Yes." The way it came out made them think he talked to the man on a daily basis, and wanted to really be rid of him. "He and I have met on several occasions, and he's tried to buy me out on certain projects. And he still pretends we were friends back at that boarding school when we're in the same room. He really is a headache to deal with."
"You went to the same school." The billionaire gave the farm boy a tired look. Clearly he didn't want to be reminded of it.
"For about two years. My grandmother had to send me somewhere after my parents' deaths, and it was before Alfred was given full custody."
"What?" The man of steel blinked in surprise while the others exchanged confused glances. Only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter seemed uninterested in this information. A person who dons a cape and cowl at one point or another usually had very interesting childhoods they rather not talk about.
"Another time perhaps," Bruce brushed off the questions about his personal early life quickly as the sounds of rushing feet came closer. Soon four children dressed in very different pajamas were darting towards them. Each set was uniquely different, but very endearing to them. Dick's was the only unmodified one there, the only one who boldly wore Superman pajamas to bed. Both Jason and Cass wore black sets, but each had a bat sewn into the center of their shirts. Jason's was red while Cassandra's was gold. Not to be outdone, Timmy's were blue with a black beetle sewn into his shirt, much like his hero's uniform. Each of them were grinning up at the League excitedly.
"Great! We didn't miss it!" Jason boldly exclaimed. He punched Dick lightly in the arm. "Told ya we'd make it in time."
"Well excuse me for worrying." Dick looked between Superman and Bruce for a moment before pouting a bit. "We aren't going flying tonight are we."
The alien laughed. "I guess not. Maybe next time."
"They can come by any time now right?" The preteen looked desperately over to their dad, begging with his eyes. The others also gave wanting looks to their father, the younger two coming right up to him with their pleading puppy eyes.
The man gave a weak huff before crouching down and picking up both of them in his arms, a smirk playing on his face. "Maybe. It'll be up to them in the future." He looked over to the man of steel, a gentler look in his eyes now than earlier that evening. "You seem to have won their hearts tonight. I hope you don't disappoint them."
"Don't indent to." He and the others nodded, each grinning as they came into the entryway. As each of them came out the door, they said their goodbyes to the kids.
"Take care of yourselves sport."
"Be well little sister."
"Until next time."
"Hey," Jason asked Flash, "did you leave any left over pizza?"
"Darn it!" The kid scowled to the side. "We never get takeout."
"With good reason Master Jason," Alfred chided off to the side.
A few of them laughed as they finished their goodbyes. Now staying still in their father's arms, both Cassandra and Timmy were rubbing their eyes and yawning. Truth be told it was past their bed times. It was high time they left. Hal readied his ring to take Aquaman back to the sea as the others started taking off. Superman lingered a minute longer.
"Well, until next time Mr. Wayne."
"Hey," Dick interrupted them, glaring slightly to make sure he had the hero's attention, "come back soon okay? Don't make us wait three weeks again."
But the alien just laughed. "Alright alright, I'll come by soon. Since you know who I really am, Batman," the reporter inside him grinned, "I can assume you know what I do for a living?"
"No exclusives Kent," Bruce bit back with a scowl. "Unless Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne officially meet in the public's eye, we're strangers outside these grounds."
"Meaning he can come over and play as himself anytime?" Dick tried, fishing for a particular answer. Jason was right next to him, the workings of a smile on his lips.
"If he wishes," the man answered tiredly.
"YES!" The boys clapped their hands together, grinning broadly before turning on the man of steel. "This Saturday, eleven a.m.. Be here!"
"What?" Superman couldn't help but to gape at them. Were they serious?
"We'll show you the cave and the grounds and mansion and the cove and the—"
"Dick," Bruce interrupted, "that's enough. I'm certain Superman has other things he needs to do tonight besides hear what you two will show him in a few days."
"Ah come on!"
"Say goodnight and start marching to your bedrooms you two. Lights out at nine."
"Now." Both boys rolled their eyes before looking up at the kryptonian again.
"Well, goodnight Superman." "Later Mr. Kent." Both were ushered back inside by their faithful butler, leaving their adoptive father and two younger siblings dozing in his arms as he finished up with the legendary Superman.
"Just how much do they know?" he asked, quite curious now. The way the kids acted around them earlier and then right now made him think they knew more than they should.
"Everything." Bruce looked over the man for a moment. "Dick found out the truth on his own not long after he came here. Like I said before, I had a choice back then. Stay Batman and risk him being an orphan forever, or retire and be the father he needed. Dick wanted to join me in the field believe it or not. Fully retiring I believe has saved his life just as much as mine."
He looked him in the eye, a firm confidence in them hardly seen in anyone else. "I need to put these two to bed. I'll contact you with the supply details tomorrow."
"Alright then. Goodnight Mr. Wayne. Timmy, Cassandra." Superman gave them all a warm smile before flying off into the night like the others had. Somehow the stars seemed to shine a little brighter right then. That night's meeting was going to be a game changer, for all of them.
Wayne, the legendary Batman, was going to help them now from the shadows. Not as a fellow soldier in the field like he once would have, but as a mortal man in the security of a secret base. The man was no longer as intolerable as the others remembered the dark knight being four years ago. And all because he chose to be a Daddy, not a Bat.
Looked like things were just getting started, for all of them.
A/N: W00T! First installment done! Like i said before, this takes place almost immediately after 'A Father's Request' which is why you had to read that first. This little dinner scene took longer to write than I initially intended. But it covered all the important things. So how'd you like it? =D Please review.
As for the future, I'd like some suggestions for once in my life. If there's a Batman/Nightwing/Teen Titans/Justice League/DC world arch you think would be great to see in this world, suggest it. If there are family scenarios or kid/parent events you want to see happen, suggest it. Pairings... not in your life. Sorry, Bruce isn't going to have a romance with Diana. I already figured out the love life themes he'll be having so there. =P Some things will be out of order time wise with stories, but oh well, I'm trying to make everything work out here. I already have Damian's introduction to the family fully written out, and his is pretty far from cannon at the moment. other events have already been plotted as well. Any arcs you want, please give me a way to read them/read about them so I can do them justice. As for which ones I will do, you'll just have to wait and see. I am all ears, but I will choose which ones I'll do. And as for where you get these arcs, it can be from anywhere: TV, comics, video games, movies, seriously anywhere. I just have to be able to read/see them online for it to work. As for other things, like headcannons or silly scenarios, just give me ideas. I'll pick and choose. May not always give credit (who knows when I'll get them done or how many people will suggest the same thing) but I'll try. Extras will also be posted throughout this fun series.
Now that I'm done rambling, review and suggest away! I'll update when I feel like I have enough of them. Yes, I evil. =P