A rare visit from Clark Kent/Superman to the new Dynamic Duo at a late breakfast reminded him of just how the smallest act can be a breaking point to the delicate balance of the 'bat-life'
Clark knew what the initial breakfast meeting was about.
Dick Grayson-Wayne. The 'Wayne" had been doused with so much emphasis that the glow from Lois' eyes was enough to make him want to step back outside the building when the woman he loved had come running towards him with the news of the message. The Wayne name had once again set every reporter there grumbling once again. None of them understood why Clark Kent always got the 'Wayne' interviews.
So, he grudgingly found himself in a high society Gotham restaurant that towered 50 stories above the ground at 9:00amthe next morning. He had met with Bruce for plenty of similar interviews before but-
At the thought of his friend he had to shake away the delicate feel of smoking skeleton bones in his hands. He'd been trying to avoid it for the longest time. Superman hadn't actually been seen in Metropolis for two weeks or even on a mission with the Justice League.
Strike that. The NEW Justice League.
He hadn't been that surprised when Donna and Dick had taken immediate action to restart the League. It was the nature of the young to bounce back up in the face of tragedy. Even he, a kryptonian (his life expectancy was much greater than a human's) could almost feel the years tangibly passing him by.
Between the Justice League and Metropolis, he had expected his cousin to be tired, but Kara was resilient. Patrolling Metropolis, completing League missions and even standing in as the 'Super' of the new Trilogy. He was proud of her.
"Do you mind if I interrupt your inner monologue Mr. Kent?"
Clark's head snapped up, his eyes had lowered with his head to stare at the floor, and he was met by a familiar face with one of the brightest smiles he had ever seen.
He forced his own smile onto his face and rose to his feet but was engulfed by a hug before he could reach out for a handshake.
Right. Dick wasn't much of a 'handshake' kind of person. That was Bruce.
"It's nice to see you again, Dick."
The hugger backed away and his smile grew brighter still. (How was that even possible?)
"Nice to see you too, Clark."
"You could have just called-"
"Not after you code-locked every possible way to communicate with you."
Oh yeah, that was-heh!
"Grayson, why are we here? We ate breakfast four hours ago."
Clark's eyes widened in surprise at the sudden voice. Dick smiled and moved to the side to reveal the small boy behind him. Blue locked with blue and the Kryptonian could swear that the boy in front of him COULD have been Bruce himself. Those eyes were-
"Clark, this is Damian. Damian, this is Clark Kent."
"What are you doing here, Superman?"
Somehow, Clark found his voice again after some mental debate, "I came for an interview and-"
The boy's eyes suddenly started burning, "If my father didn't allow Metas in his city, what makes you think that I'll allow it? Grayson, make him leave."
Dick was holding his hand over his mouth, trying not to laugh too hard before finding his own voice again, "Damian, Clark Kent is here for an interview with me. Not to track down any villains in our city."
The boy glared at his guardian, "Then why did you drag me here?"
"I couldn't leave you home alone," he offered as the explanation.
Damian huffed and crossed his arms over his chest, "I can take care of myself Grayson."
Dick's smile was so doused with affection that Clark couldn't even force himself to keep looking, he felt like he shouldn't be part of this moment, so he glanced off to the side at the new wallpaper the restaurant staff had put up since his last visit. He had heard plenty about Bruce's son but he hadn't met him until now.
"I know you can Dami, but with Alfred out of town with Lucius we can't give the public reason to believe I'm being irresponsible by leaving you home alone. Unless you want to spend months battling the court systems."
The child uncrossed his arms and released an annoyed breath, "Fine."
Clark glanced back at the two just in time to catch, and smile at, Dick ruffling his younger brother's hair. He was able to forget his dark thoughts for a few minutes.
"Now," Dick said, gesturing to the booth next to them that Clark had been sitting at before he had risen to greet them, "I'm going to assume that it is in our best interests to finish this up ASAP."
The reporter slipped back into his previously claimed seat while Dick let Damian sit first. When the elder brother sat down though, he reached into his pocket, pulled out some MP3 player and handed it to his younger brother. In turn, the boy only stared in shock for a few moments before taking it.
"I thought you said that I should leave this home when we left for-"
Dick broke into the middle of the sentence, "I figured you should have it this time to secure your sanity during a boring interview such as this."
"Thank you," Damian muttered quickly before putting in his ear buds and letting himself get lost in his music while the adults discussed boring topics.
The tapping sound of heels on the polished wood floors made the two men turn towards a waitress with her order-pad and a whole pocket of pens ready, "May I take your order, Mr. Wayne?" she said as she fluttered her eyelashes a bit more than strictly necessary.
It was only when the waitress had left to get their orders and perhaps flipped her hair unnecessarily that Dick allowed himself to scowl in displeasure.
"You're getting that a lot I assume?" Clark asked.
Dick ran a hand down his face and breathed deeply, "You have no idea."
"So, what did you really ask me here for?" even though he already knew.
The acrobat glanced sideways at his younger brother, who had taken a napkin from the table's laid out dishware and started doodling himself throwing the woman out the open window to his left, with a red pen he had somehow taken from the waitress' pocket without her noticing.
Dick smiled tiredly before narrowing his eyes and face into the most serious expression that Clark had ever seen, "I want to know why you've stopped being Superman."
The almost-glare being directed at him made Clark shiver. Maybe he could avoid it with some small talk?
"How's the League?"
The hero's eyes only narrowed further, "Fine. Why have you stopped being Superman?"
Here, the older man released a tired breath, "Dick, ever since Bruce-"
"Stop," Dick said, holding out his hand to metaphorically halt the words from entering his personal space.
The acrobat leaned back before his serious frown became sad, "You blame yourself for not being 'good enough' to stop Darkseid. You're angry at yourself for that and the fact that you couldn't keep the League together in the end. You miss your best friend. You feel guilty that Kara has taken responsibility for both your place in the League and in Metropolis, when you believe it's supposed to be yours alone. Most importantly though, you're depressed that for once in your life-you can't find a way to pick yourself back up again."
The Kryptonian could only blink back, flabbergasted before smiling sadly, "You sound just like him."
Dick rolled his eyes, reopened his mouth to speak-but shut it again when the waitress returned with their orders. It took some obvious flirting back before the waitress left again, but eventually they were left with the only background noise being the music blasting out of Damian's earphones. On a side note, the waitress hadn't noticed the drawing the boy had made, although the stick figure of the woman now had knives sticking out of her head. When the tapping of the too high heels finally faded, Dick ran a hand through his hair, a sure sign of stress. Sure, psychologically analyzing seemed like second nature to every Gotham City 'Bat' but Clark was still glancing out the window beside their booth, wishing he could just fly out of it.
In response to the sideways look, the acrobat glanced down at the table, looking like he was asking it for an answer while his right hand curled into the cloth of his left sleeve before muttering, "If anything, you're the one 'acting' like him."
Clark let his eyes realign themselves with his surrogate nephew's dark hair hanging in front of his eyes. It was shorter now. Probably a necessity for the cowl he now wore to fit comfortably. In fact, he did look different than he used to. Seeing the younger man in a t-shirt, jeans and heavily worked down tennis shoes was the norm-before Bruce's death anyways. The acrobat still wasn't a 'suit' guy unless it was absolutely necessary for something important. He was now sporting a short sleeved, light blue collared shirt, with professionally pressed (Alfred's work Clark was sure) black pants and black shoes shined to the point that they reflected everything in a three foot radius.
Blue met blue and Dick bit his lip, "Look, if I was like Bruce I would have poured and mixed Kryptonite dust into your coffee and then punched you senseless with a kryptonite knuckle duster until you came to your senses."
The elder released a sort-of half chuckle, "Yes, that's true."
It was silent for a long minute before Dick spoke up again, "The League's having an important meeting in three weeks about recovering those that left after the 'crisis' and a lot of us would be very grateful if Superman showed up and officially returned."
Clark shook his head, "You've got Kara."
"You know the planet's asking where 'The World's Finest' are."
"Like I said, you have Kara. It's enough."
"Clark, this has nothing to do with her! I'm talking about you, only you. You're falling apart. When Bruce got like that I usually only had to throw a few punches at him then accept profound apologies afterwards from when he punched me back."
"I was supposed to yell at him for that," the Kryptonian muttered.
The new 'Bat' blinked and then raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Tim told me."
The acrobat sighed and bit his lip again, "Before you go write up a report about that: one, it was a cape-related case, two-it was completely necessary and three-I punched him first."
"That never made it right Dick."
Dick huffed, "Clark, your attempts at distracting me are continually failing, I suggest you give up. Wow, I sounded like Damian there. This isn't about Bruce or me. I'm not here to cheer you up. Nightwing might have, but as Batman I'm here to tear into you with the truth until you reach your senses."
"For all your differences, you two are so alike, you know?"
The alien got an eye roll for that one but a slight smile too, "So people keep telling me."
At this moment, Damian reached over and stole Clark's napkin that he had failed to use and the man didn't protest in the slightest.
The acrobat leaned forward a bit, his eyes shining, "I'm not asking for a miracle. I'm just asking for a hero to show up, even if it's only for a few minutes."
Those dang eyes hadn't changed since Dick was eight and the pressure of a childhood's hope started crushing Clark's heart.
"It's just showing up?"
The shining eyes freaking lit up like stars as a true small smile stretched over Dick's face, "Yeah. That's all I need."
Clark suddenly frowned before smirking, "You have a double motive."
It was something so 'Bruce-like' the man couldn't help but smile. In response the new 'Bat' chuckled under his breath before raising his own cup of coffee, already half gone, and smiled larger than before.
"Who do you think you are?"
They both laughed until they heard a small sounding, "Tt!"
Dick ignored the obvious interest his younger brother had lost himself in and choose to finish consuming his breakfast, which was just a stack of pancakes. Clark however, just HAD to find out what had gotten the boy to speak up since he had lost his senses in the loud music at the start of their breakfast. The scene didn't shock him so much as it interested him.
There was a ladybug on the napkin Damian had stolen from him. The boy had his red pen posed over the insect and his headphones were still blasting out loud music. He was just staring at it though. Clark looked back to his coffee for just a few seconds before he heard the sound of plastic hitting the table. He glanced back over to find that Damian had taken out his ear buds and set the MP3 down on the table.
The Kryptonian was more surprised that the insect hadn't moved to fly away.
As for this insect, it was a rich orange color. It was not yet full grown and bright red, but neither was it young and bright yellow. The boy scowled at the insect, put down his red pen and quickly slapped his hand down on the insect. Clark gulped and almost looked away but then regained his curiosity when he noticed that the boy's hand was 'cupped' over the insect, not flat. He was trapping it-but why?
He considered it nothing and afterwards just turned back to his free coffee. He still watched though, and noticed that Dick turned to watch as well, as the boy cupped both of his hands and brought them together around the insect before turning towards the open window.
Clark wondered why both of the Dynamic Duo were holding their breaths and why now, all of a sudden, Damian was either shaking or shivering?
When Damian opened his hands and released the insect, Clark took a long drink of his coffee but then nearly spit it back out when his eyes turned to Dick just as the man smiled brighter than ever before reached over and pulled the child into a big hug.
"Damian, I am so proud of you!"
The boy just huffed, crossed his arms over his chest but relaxed into the hug he was trapped in.
Clark Kent was confused.
Eh, hope you liked this one. Just taking a break from all of my DA projects.