Title: Wings Of Angels Trilogy Book I: Epidemic (4/14)
Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Dick, Clark, Allie, Jim Gordon
Series Notes: When Gotham falls to an epidemic, Batman and Robin need help to protect the city. All chapters can be found here.
Categories: Drama, Angst
Rating (this chapter): G
Summary: Clark visits the ICU and remembers happier times.
Date of Completion: April 9, 2007
Date of Posting: April 26, 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 1588
Author's Note: Once in awhile an original character will slip into the group up there in the Pairings/Characters line, so if you don't recognize the name, that' s probably why. :)
LITTLE BIRD FLYING
It was quiet in the ICU, monitors beeping and muted voices at the nurses’ desk.
Superman strode down the corridor, sadness on his handsome face. Eyes widened at the sight but no one approached him. They knew whom he was here to see.
The room at the end of the hall was dark, the blinds drawn and the lights dimmed. The rhythmic hissing of a ventilator partially obscured the bed’s occupant. Superman could hear the labored heartbeat as the machine breathed for the patient.
He entered the room, a bright splash of color in the grayness.
Here in the shadows was where the Batman dwelt. He melted out of the gloom, carved in stone.
“I’m sorry, Batman.”
The Dark Knight was silent, then said softly, “Thank you for coming, Clark.”
Clark relaxed. He had been afraid of an impenetrable wall but instead he was going to be allowed in.
“I’ll always be here for you, Bruce. And for Dick.”
Bruce looked down at the unmoving figure in the bed. “We were pursuing the Joker. Dick was out ahead of Barbara and me, and he started to throw a batarang from the edge of a rooftop.
“He lost his balance and began to fall.”
Clark could hear the underlying shock. Dick did not lose his balance, and he certainly never fell, or at least not because of a fault of his own. It was always the result of some external action.
“It was a miracle that she and I got to that rooftop in time. We both threw our ropes and managed to catch him. I braced as she reached down and pulled him up.
“He was already unconscious.”
Clark nodded. “This strain of flu is pretty virulent, hitting people quickly.”
“It’s bird flu.”
“They’ve discovered it’s a strain of bird flu.”
The irony was not lost on either man. Clark reached out and picked up Dick’s hand. Of course his costume had been removed except for his mask, so the hand was ungloved.
It was also too warm. Clark was insulated from extremes of temperature but he could tell the difference in the degrees.
It disturbed him greatly that the young man whose hand he was holding was so still. Usually vivacious and full of life, this stillness was unnatural. Clark gave Dick’s hand a squeeze.
“He’s young and strong.” Clark carefully did not mention that the flu was claiming the young and the strong, not just children, the elderly, and the already-ill.
Bruce’s silence spoke volumes. He was clenching and unclenching his fist, his eyes directed toward the bed.
“You needn’t worry about patrol tonight. Barbara and I will be on it, and Ollie and Dinah are coming in from Star City.” He could see the tensing of Bruce’s muscles. “I know you like to handle things yourself, but…”
“No, it’s fine.” Bruce was still looking at Dick, every muscle in his body screaming to come closer to the bed. “Thank you.”
“You’re more than welcome.”
Clark wondered if he should offer Dick’s hand for Bruce to hold. He knew the nature of their relationship. He had guessed it before they had given him the honor of telling him.
How do humans do it? So fragile, yet they still love with all the risks of loss.
He worried about his parents. When the day finally came when he lost them, he knew that the pain would be deep and permanent.
Bruce and Dick survived their parents’ loss, but their pain is there. It never leaves them.
Once again he was impressed by the humans he had sworn to protect . Growing up in a small town had been a perfect living laboratory to study human behavior. He well knew the pettiness, cruelty, and selfishness of the human heart, but he also knew the grace, compassion, and love that dwelled there as well. They were his people more than the Kryptonians were in many ways, as he had learned to love and respect them as he had grown up among them.
The heroes’ voices were low as there was no door, just a curtain separating them from the corridor. Bruce had requested that the curtain be drawn, as he had no desire to entertain the curious as they walked by. Clark could hear the presence of someone right outside the curtain. He gently put Dick’s hand back down on the bed.
The voice was soft and hesitant. Bruce looked over at the entryway and said, “Come in.”
A woman with wheat-colored hair entered, clutching a plastic bag. Her eyes widened a little at the sight of Superman, then went to the bed and finally, Batman’s face.
“I’m sorry. I heard about Robin.” She took a deep breath. “I wanted to thank you for bringing my daughter to the hospital the other night, and I also wanted to stop by and bring this.” She held out the bag with a little smile, and Clark saw that it was full of brightly-colored hard candies. He smiled, too. Dick’s sweet tooth was well-known among his family and friends.
“Thank you.” Bruce took the bag. “How’s Alicia?”
A shadow crossed the woman’s face. “About the same as Robin.”
“I’m sorry.” He gently took her arm and turned her toward Clark. “My manners are wanting. Allie, this is Superman. Superman, this is Allie.”
“Hello, Allie.” Clark offered his hand and Allie took it, her eyes slightly wide again. A small smile lit her face.
“Alicia will never believe that I’ve met Superman now in addition to Batman and Robin.”
Clark gently laid his other hand over Allie’s. “You’ll be able to tell her soon.”
Allie nodded, and when Clark released her she went over to the bed, looking down with a mother’s eyes. She took Dick’s hand and leaned down, kissing the dark hair as she caressed it. Then she was gone, Clark feeling his chest ache.
His mind drifted back to happier times…
& & & & & &
Clark flew toward his friends, Dick waving from the Batmobile. It really was a cool car.
Clark alighted next to the car, Bruce gifting him with a smile. “Thanks for the assist, Superman.”
“My pleasure, Batman.” His eyes sparkled.
Bruce stepped out of the car and headed over to Commissioner Gordon, who was supervising the transfer of the Penguin to custody.
Clark took a deep breath of fresh air. He was glad to get this opportunity to be out in the country around Gotham. He had been stuck in Metropolis for too long as of late.
Dick tapped his arm and he looked at his young friend. “Yes?”
“You’re coming to Bruce’s birthday party, right?”
“Of course.” Clark glanced over at Bruce, deep in conversation with Jim Gordon. “Are you sure you can pull this off?”
Dick’s smile was smug. “Sure I can! Bruce may be the World’s Greatest Detective, but when it comes to surprise parties, he’s clueless.”
Clark looked at Dick, whose smile was blinding. “Do you think it’s a wise idea to surprise him like this?” Bruce wasn’t exactly the party type unless it was a charity event he had to attend. Clark held out his hand as he recognized the signs from Dick.
Dick leaped up, one hand on Clark’s palm as he did a perfect handstand. “Yes! I know Bruce can be grumpy and he really likes squirreling himself away in his Cave with his bats, but believe me, he’ll be okay with this.” Clark put out another hand and Dick balanced on both palms, his weight as light as a bird to Clark. “I mean, he’ll huff and he’ll puff and threaten to blow the Manor down, but he’ll be fine in the end.”
Dick hopped down and stood, military-style before Clark, legs apart and hands behind his back as he grinned.
Clark suspected that Bruce would be fine with it in order to indulge his little bird. Despite Bruce’s firmness in their training and while they were out on patrol, Dick could usually charm Bruce into doing just about anything he wanted. Bruce liked nothing better than indulging his sparkling partner.
Ah, the optimism of ten-year-old boys!
Dick was looking up at him now with an expression that Clark recognized as well. He grinned to match Dick’s smile.
“Yes, we can go for a flight.”
Dick squealed with joy, jumping into Clark’s arms and putting his arms around his neck. The Kryptonian laughed as he took off, high, high, up in the sky, then suddenly dove as Dick shrieked with laughter. Clark stretched Dick into a flying stance, holding his arm around the boy as he did a quick loop-de-loop, then slipped his arm away and grasped Dick’s hand instead, giving him a full sense of flight as his small body rode the air currents.
Clark felt joy as he gently twirled them around…
& & & & & &
Clark was abruptly brought back to the present by the arrival of a nurse checking on Dick’s vital signs. He stayed a short while longer, wishing desperately that he could do something, but perhaps his presence helped Bruce a little. When it was time to start patrol he said, “I’ll be back afterwards.”
Bruce nodded, still clutching the plastic bag. As Clark started to leave, he said, “Clark.” Clark turned back. “Thank you. We appreciate it.”
Clark’s eyes misted and he nodded, pulling aside the curtain while he exited, letting it drop to leave Bruce to his darkness and light.