Title: Dimensions of Feeling I: Etched in Stone
Warnings: Character death
Summary: From a bleak present, is there a glimmer of hope for the future?
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Date Of Completion: March 5, 2007
Date Of Posting: March 5, 2007
Word Count: 831
The wind cut with a cruel sting as Batman stood before the massive gravestone, his cape billowing out behind him as
he stared down at the granite marker. The stark trees had given up their leaves long ago, the November cold making the ground hard and unforgiving. A blackbird winged its way through the leaden sky and alighted on a branch, yellow eyes watching the human.
No emotion registered on the portion of the face not concealed by the cowl. Only the clenching and unclenching of his gloved right fist betrayed any feelings at all. Dead leaves swirled up in the next gust of wind, whispering softly as they scraped the ground and snagged on branches.
The pale sun was blocked for a brief moment, the shadow growing bigger as Superman settled down behind Batman, paying his respects to the souls of the stone as he waited silently.
Batman’s fingers reached out and touched the name carved on the gray surface. Fresh carving.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
Superman’s starbright eyes were dimmed. The grief was tearing at him, too. “I know,” he said softly. “It doesn’t get easier.”
Batman lifted the clenched hand and placed it over his heart. “I’ve had a hole inside me since the night my parents died. I thought it would never be filled again.” He closed his eyes, a single tear running down his cheek. “Dick filled it in ways I could never have imagined.” His voice was as whisper-soft as the leaves swirling by as he said, “He made me so happy.”
Superman looked at the grave, the words, Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson, Beloved Husband of Bruce Wayne in stark relief against the unyielding granite. Not a very warm image for a young man who loved warmth and light, and had brought both to Bruce. Dick had been his friend, too, and it hurt worse than Kryptonite to have lost him. He carefully did not think of that moment in which Dick had fallen in battle. That would be reserved for his nightmares, which were piling up over the years. How did Bruce endure it?
He switched to ‘Bruce’ from ‘Batman’ without conscious thought as he rested a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. The Batman would use the grief to further his Mission, but even a part of him would grieve. And Bruce? Maybe this was the final straw.
“I’ve been monitoring Earth-Obsidian at the Fortress.” An interesting code name, but it was a darker Earth than the one they called home. “That dimension…Dick is no longer Robin.”
Bruce turned his head, opening his eyes. Clark braced himself for the ravaging of pain he saw there, but it still shocked him.
“Is he…was he hurt?”
Clark shook his head. “The Batman of that Earth…fired him.”
“Fired him?” Incredulous tone. “Why?”
Clark sighed. “The Joker put a bullet in Robin and nearly killed him. I think that Batman’s fear drove him to push Robin away. But Dick’s drifting, unsure of what to do, and heartbroken.” He took a deep breath. “When you’re ready, if you wish, I’ll bring you to the Fortress.”
“He’s not my Robin.”
The pain in that whisper nearly broke Clark, but he said carefully, “No, he’s not. He and his Batman have grown far apart, more than the squabbles of teenager and mentor.” A smile ghosted Bruce’s lips and Clark felt a tiny ray of hope. “I know it’s…I know you need time, Bruce. And you don’t ever have to take me up on my offer. I just thought you might like to know…” …that there’s another Dick out there who might welcome your love someday, because he’s not likely to get it from his Bruce.
Bruce turned back to face the grave. Clark squeezed his shoulder.
He looked guiltily at the grave. Maybe it was too soon to mention this possibility to Bruce. The earth beneath their boots was still bare. No grass had time to grow over it yet, but he was afraid. How much could a man take in one lifetime? Perhaps if he had a glimmer of hope…
“He won’t replace your Robin. All of us are unique, Bruce, even if we have counterparts in the many dimensions we have become aware of over the years. And, for now, it’s enough to know that there is a brightness out there. Brightness like Dick’s can’t be extinguished completely, no matter what universe.”
Bruce’s muscles were rigid under his touch, but then he moved away and knelt in front of the stone. He traced the name with his finger. The flowers piled up before the grave were fading, their dying petals carried away by the wind. Bruce rested his forehead against the cold stone, then stood.
He turned to Clark, his voice rasping, “Not yet. Maybe, someday…the Fortress…”
Clark nodded, putting his arm around Bruce and leading him away from the stone that held the names of beloved parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, and beloved husband, Dick Grayson.