Characters (this chapter): Dick, Clark/Bruce, Socrates, Alfred
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Spoilers: For Superman/Batman Annual #2
General Summary: The mysterious Socrates will test the mettle of the World’s Finest while Dick observes the possibility of a Clark/Bruce romance. This story takes place during the events of the Superman/Batman Annual #2 and begins after Clark has lost his powers during the first confrontation with Socrates. He has come to Bruce to ask for help in being trained as a human crimefighter.
Chapter Summary: Bruce and Dick meet Socrates. It doesn’t go well. Where’s a Superman when you need him?
Date Of Completion: May 28, 2008
Dates Of Posting: June 9, 2008/July 11, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 899
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for the S/B Big Ass Contest over on wfslash hosted by tmelange . The story won for Best Use Of Dick (LOL!), Best Use Of Source Material, and Best Overall Story!
All chapters can be found here.
Also, check out the fantastic story illo by labuenaventura ! :)
THE EXAMINED LIFE
Socrates was one scary dude. He took a person’s inner core and made them face it, along with their fears, and it usually destroyed them.
I didn’t like Bruce going for this meet with Socrates. It just felt bad to me.
I stayed in the shadows on high alert. I was Bruce’s back-up, on my own, because Clark was still struggling with his own mortality. That’s okay, because Clark really has to get a handle on that, and I’ve been Bruce’s only back-up on a nightly basis for awhile now.
It all happened so fast. First there was a guy in trenchcoat and fedora named Plato taking Bruce’s briefcase full of money, then the disguise was off and the skeletal Socrates put the whammy on him, asking, “Who do you think you are, Bruce Wayne?” and it all fell to hell.
Bruce was crying things like, “Crazy!” and writhing like he was battling demons.
“Mr. Wayne!” I was at his side in seconds. “What did you do to him?” I spat at Socrates.
“What do you think I did?”
“Make it stop!”
“Didn’t he ask to face himself?”
I hated that oily voice. “I…”
“Do you think his truth may only be found within?”
I snarled, “Help him or I’ll…!”
“You’ll what?” Amusement laced the deadly voice. “Who do you think you are, Robin?”
Fear clutched my heart as his bony hand reached for me.
That simple word lit up my world as Superman was there!
The battle would have been cool to watch if I wasn’t so busy with Bruce. He was thrashing and moaning, “All for nothing,” and I had to think fast.
“Superman! He…I think he’s having a stroke!”
Superman was getting the worst of the battle but I saw the look in his eyes when he saw Bruce writhing in my grasp. He straightened, a terrible look on his face…terrible for Socrates.
Man or Superman, he was going to win.
With one titanic punch, it was all over.
He’d dispatched Socrates, but the bigger battle was for Bruce. I injected him with what we called ‘stroke juice’ and hoped for the best.
“It all for nothing…it’s all for nothing…” he kept repeating, my blood running cold. Clark heard him as he knelt beside us. I pleaded, “Bruce…Bruce…!” I grabbed his hand. “Please, you’re worth everything! Don’t fall into the darkness!” He was teetering on the edge, and it wouldn’t take much to push him over.
Clark said, “Batman!” He touched Bruce’s hair. “Batman, listen to me.”
Bruce moaned, “People are broken. They don’t want to be helped.” Tears streamed down his face. He thrashed, nearly throwing my hand off. “I can’t make a difference.”
Bruce sounded so desolate and broken that I felt the fear curl up in my gut even harder.
Clark’s voice was gentle but firm. “The work you do…the war…” Clark’s eyes were as fearful as mine now.
“It’s won every time you save a life. One life.”
Bruce stilled. “Win…I can win?”
“A life like mine.” Clark reached out his hand. “I thought…I was finished, that I had lost my purpose, but…because of you, I know a man can anything he wants to be.” Even in his delirium, Bruce took Clark’s hand. “You gave me hope, like you do so many others. Please…let that count for something. Come back.”
We held our breath for what seemed like forever, then Bruce opened his eyes and looked right at Clark. I helped him to stand, and he was still holding onto Clark’s hand. I had Bruce’s arm around me and was grinning like an idiot.
It was all he said but it was enough. I hugged him and he hugged back, and we’d beaten the odds again.
This time with help from Superman.
I think we’re going to be teaming up a lot more in the future.
& & & & & &
Clark stayed for dinner, and on the surface nothing had changed: Bruce was still snarky, mostly about the new Justice League idea, Clark arguing for it but I could hear an increased warmth and affection underneath the voices. He seemed more amused than offended now by Bruce’s sharp tongue.
I couldn’t stop smiling, and Alfred seemed very happy, too.
When Clark showed off his powers for us, I could barely contain myself. I loved the ringside seat we got for feats of strength, vision, and other abilities.
Flying was the best.
We’d seen him at his most vulnerable, and he’d still come through.
Bruce said that Clark would be a better hero for this experience, and I agree. Clark knows what it’s like to be human now, and I know he’ll never forget it.
Tonight, Clark joined us on patrol, and he came home with us for Alfred’s famous chocolate chip cookies.
Sitting around in the kitchen, still in costume, was pretty surreal, but my life was never what you’d call normal, anyway. We were a team now, having survived the worst, trusting each other out there.
And as for him and Bruce?
Definitely interest there, and for now that’s enough.
Eventually, though, it’ll become more.
Alfred ordered red silk sheets for the guest room next to Bruce’s.
And if they don’t take the next steps themselves to get those silk sheets into Bruce’s room, well, Alfred and I have plans.