Sons of El
Standard Disclaimer - I do not own Young Justice, Batman: Son of the Demon or any of the characters therein. I do not do this for profit, but rather for fun and skills building.
NB: originally posted on the YJ Anon Meme, de-anoning because I've already admitted it was me; for a prompt in which Clark is really hesitant about letting Superboy into his life because he and Lois are in a relationship and, when they discovered they couldn't have kids, they went ahead and adopted a son, Damian.
Warnings: AU, spoilers for Batman: Son of the Demon and YJ season 1
Day 4 (part 2)
Wayne Manor rolled slowly into view, looming on the cliffs just outside of Gotham like a castle straight out of the ghost stories Clark used to be terrified of as a kid. It honestly looked haunted and, to this day, he couldn't understand how Bruce had managed to live there all his life without going crazy.
Well, crazier than normal, at any rate, Clark amended mentally.
Gently, he nudged Damian, who had fallen asleep. "Hey, kiddo, time to wake up."
Damian scowled, balling his hands into fists as he squeezed his eyes tightly and stubbornly shut, and curled his tiny body tighter against Clark's side. Fortunately, Clark was well-versed in unfurling stubborn toddlers (and troublesome Pulitzer-Prize reporters) who just didn't want to get up. There was a certain trick to it.
He very carefully tickled his son right under the armpit and, like a shot, the boy sat up, reflexively swatting at him.
"Dad," Damian whined, sulkily. "No tickling! I'm not a baby."
"Sorry, champ," Clark said, smiling, "We're almost there."
Damian's eyes widened as he crawled into Clark's lap and he immediately locked on to the manor growing steadily larger as the car drew closer. "That's Batman's house?"
"Yep," Clark affirmed.
"It's big," Damian said in awe. "Bigger than the President's House!"
And with slightly more insane security, Clark mentally noted. "I heard he has a rocket ship in there somewhere."
His son's eyes widened even further.
"And he's got a giant robot dinosaur in the Batcave," Clark added.
"Wow," Damian breathed, pressing his hands against the glass as he leaned forward. "Can I have–"
"No," Clark replied firmly. "You'll just have to settle for the kid-size robot dinosaur."
Damian pouted at him for a record fifteenth of a second and then turned back to the window. "It's okay. Mommy doesn't like robot dinosaurs anyway."
A fact which had nothing to do with toys and everything to do with how Professor Ivo was kind enough to unleash robotic velociraptors on the fundraiser for Metropolis Central Hospital. That had been a painful night in Clark's recollection and Lois still twitched whenever dinosaur toys were advertised during Damian's cartoons.
"I see someone! Is that him?" Damian asked, sitting up straighter, his face practically pressed to the glass. "Daddy, daddy, daddy!"
The last 'daddy' was intoned so insistently that Clark winced reflexively. "Yep, I see. That's Robin."
"How come he's not wearing his costume?" Damian asked, wrinkling his nose.
"It's like how daddy doesn't wear his costume when we're home," Clark explained. "So you can't tell anyone other than mommy, okay? It's a Big Superhero Secret."
His son nodded solemnly and wrapped his tiny pinkie finger around Clark's in an unspoken promise as the car finally rolled to a stop.
To be fair, Clark didn't really expect a four-year-old to understand quite how serious keeping secret identities secret was, but he and Lois had tried to be up front about it with him. It was really the only secret kept in their house and it impacted only people outside the family. There were times he could tell Damian was positively squirming with the desire to tell other kids that his daddy was cooler because he's Superman, but so far, he'd managed to keep admirably quiet for a kid his age – even if Damian did have to put both his hands over his mouth to keep from blurting it out sometimes.
Today would actually be the first time Damian would meet a kid outside the family from the superhero community and, while Clark was sure Damian didn't fully comprehend what that meant, he supposed on some level that the lack of having to keep a big secret from a new acquaintance would be a huge relief to his son. And, lord knew, it would be good for Damian to have someone he could relate to that was a little closer to his age.
The door opened, Alfred standing by patiently for his charges to exit.
Damian slid off Clark's lap and onto the gravel driveway, his head craning back almost comically as he tried to look up at the huge manor. Clark followed, gently guiding him away from the car and towards the smirking slight figure of Dick Grayson that lingered on the manor steps.
"Damian," Clark said, distracting his son from the huge house, "This is Dick."
"Also known as Robin, the Boy Wonder," Dick added, bowing with a flourish and dropping into a spectacular tumble and flip combo that elicited pure awe from Damian. Clark was noticeably less impressed, having both seen much more impressive from Dick before and getting the all-too familiar sense that by the time the sun set Damian would want to an acrobat, too. On the other hand, at least it would be a slightly more feasible goal than Damian's current desire to be Batman.
"How'd you do that?" Damian asked.
"I can show you if you'd like," Dick replied, grinning and holding out his hand.
And so it starts. Clark mentally sighed, making a note to talk to Lois about signing Damian up for gymnastics lessons, and gave Damian a reassuring smile.
The four-year-old, seeing he wasn't going anywhere, hesitantly took Dick's hand. "Is it true Batman's got a rocket ship in his house?"
Dick laughed brightly and gave him a mischievous smile, "You betcha. Batman's got all kinds of cool stuff! "
"Like a giant dinosaur?" Damian asked.
"Yeah," Dick answered, starting to guide him inside, "And the Batmobile!"
Damian dug his heels in, looking over his shoulder at Clark.
"It's okay, Damian," Clark said. "You can go play with Dick. I'm just going to talk to Mister Wayne for a little while."
Damian's lip slipped into full-on pout. Tears and sniffling were inevitably to follow. A massive separation anxiety-fueled tantrum loomed just beyond that on the horizon.
Clark should have known: nothing about introducing new people, even if they are respected superheroes, to his son would be easy.
"Hey, Little D," Dick dropped into a crouch, plopping himself right in front of Damian. "You're adopted, right?"
Damian, startled right out of his sniffling, gave a bewildered nod. "An' dad. Dad's adopted."
"Me too," Dick said kindly. "And so is Batman."
Clark could practically hear Alfred rolling his eyes skyward at the embellishment, but he was more intent on the subtle relaxation of his son's muscles as the information sunk in that not only was Robin adopted just like him, so was the very superhero Damian had spent the last few days aspiring to be. Even though Damian was far too young to understand that Bruce and Dick's respective situations were nowhere near the same as either of the Kent boys, Clark knew for a fact that it didn't matter: in Damian's eyes, they understood.
Idly, Clark wished he'd known other adopted kids when he was Damian's age. It certainly would have made some aspects of growing up and coping with all that came with his situation a little easier. Certain things he'd just accepted he'd never quite completely come to terms with, but Damian didn't have to have that experience, not if Clark could help it.
"Do you remember your mommy?" Damian asked quietly. "I dream about mine sometimes."
Clark looked away. In the back of his mind, he could see his own birth parents as his ship had recorded them while Krypton died.
"You never forget," Dick told him with a hand over his heart. It sounded more like a promise. Maybe it was.
Damian sniffled. "Is that normal?"
"Yeah," Dick said, standing up. He held out his hand again. "Come on, Little D. The grown-ups have got to talk about boring stuff."
This time, Damian took the older boy's hand easily and allowed Dick to lead him inside, listening to the older boy prattle on about all the cool things Bruce had amassed in the Manor.
Clark watched them go before turning to Alfred and quirking an eyebrow. The older man had such a strange, almost pained look on his face, but the second he noticed Clark looking, it disappeared behind a distant, professional veneer.
"Master Wayne is in his office," Alfred stated simply. "He's been expecting you."
"Of course," Clark noted, unsurprised.
After all, nothing escaped Batman's notice for long.
The secret door leading down the Cave was unlocked and, slowly, Clark made his way downstairs. As much as Bruce was his friend and the fact that Dick summoned him here out of concern for Bruce, he wasn't so sure he really wanted to know what was going on. There was this steadily growing ball of dread forming in his gut that this had to do with Damian's birth parents. Could Bruce have uncovered something awful about their pasts? Or perhaps, he fervently hoped, it was something else entirely that had triggered this latest bleak episode in his friend.
At the bottom of the stairs, he hesitated. One of the viewscreens was shattered, a fist-sized hole through it. Bruce, wearing the Batsuit with his face uncovered, was slumped in a chair, a file dangling from his fingertips and his back to Clark. And yet, he had no doubts that the Bat knew he was there, a fact confirmed when Bruce broke the silence: "You came."
"Yeah, well, your son was worried about you," Clark said, stepping closer.
Bruce let out a strained, funny noise at that.
"I, um, brought you a sample," he said, digging into his pocket and pulling out a plastic baggy with a Flash-Logo bandaid in it. "Damian scraped his knee yesterday, pretending he was you, and you know how little kids are with band-aids…"
Bruce didn't respond, but the muscles in his neck and shoulders contracted in a subtle concealed flinch.
"The analyzer's over here, right?" Clark asked, pulling the bandaid out as he moved towards one of the computers.
"It's not necessary," Bruce said flatly, standing.
A dozen emotions shot through Clark in the space of a heartbeat. Oh god, he'd found them. Bruce had found them. He'd had a list of questions ready for Bruce, too, but he couldn't even think of which one to ask first.
Bruce drifted away, his back still to Clark, and idly flipped the pages of the file with a finger. For a moment he didn't say anything, and then he spoke: "Tell me, why did you want to know?"
There was no easy answer to that. Clark sighed heavily and answered honestly, "Because Damian will want to. Maybe not today, but someday he'll want to understand the parts of himself that come from his blood. And I want to be able to tell Damian the truth when he asks for it. You probably wouldn't understand. You at least remember your parents. You had them for years before they were taken from you. But for me and Damian, it's different. We never got to know them."
Again, Bruce's entire frame stiffened and Clark found himself almost instinctively pausing, an apology about bringing up the taboo subject of his friend's parents on the tip of his tongue.
Instead, words that felt like they had been stacking up forever tumbled out of his mouth: "I've spent most of my whole life wondering if my parents were like me, if they had the same powers, and dreaming that if I found them, they would tell me why. It's like having this hole in your heart you can never fill or like you're a puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit and you just want to find the rest of the puzzle, but you're terrified of losing the one you have."
Turning back, he finished, "You have no idea what it took for me to work up the courage to go and look for them and I don't want him to have to go through what I did."
Bruce was quiet.
"Look, Bruce," Clark sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Could you just tell me what's going on? You did find them, right?"
The sardonic snort that came from Bruce wasn't reassuring at all. "Oh yes," he said bitterly, "I know who his parents are, all right. The necklace was a wedding gift to his mother."
Clark barely had time to wonder what he meant by that before his friend tossed the file at him.
"Her name is Talia. She's the daughter of Ra's al Ghul," Bruce stated, finally turning to look at him, and – god, had he been crying? Bruce's face hardened, a bitter scowl on his lips as he finished, "And my wife."
AN: Oh shit.
Also somehow this is the chapter where adoptee feels exploded all over the place.
Still no Superboy yet, but give me time. Supes still has to warm up to the idea of allowing them to meet.