batman, after either one (1) person he cares about gets a little shot one (1) time or one (1) personal failure or when confronted with one (1) emotional dilemma:
total nervous breakdown, locks himself in a cave for a week, debates putting down the cowl and/or making some other incredibly badly thought-out life change, ices his interpersonal relationships, probably plans to move to guatemala because nothing in life matters and death is inevitable
batman's always so reliable, nothing ever gets to him. he's like a rock. i wonder if he even has feelings
I'm going through a real rough patch and if you want to write something cheerful you have no idea how grateful I'd be.
Flash sidled up to Superman on one of the Watchtower’s mezzanines, leaning against a rail. They looked at each other sidelong, then away.
“Wanna hear my new time?” Flash asked sideways, swaying as he alternated which foot held his weight, hands on his hips.
“There’s no way you beat my time,” Superman muttered, his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes were in the other direction, and both men went silent as the Lanterns walked too close. Superman and Flash gave them a nod of acknowledgment, then waited for them to be at a safe distance.
“What!” Superman dropped his arms, whipped his head around to where Flash was grinning and bouncing on his heels. “No way.”
“Flat,” Flash said.
“There’s no way.”
“Check my heartbeat if you don’t believe me,” Flash said, tapping his insignia with his thumb. Then he frowned. “Actually, don’t, I’m pretty excited about this so my pulse is probably crazy.”
His heart always sounded like an angry hummingbird trapped between his lungs, but Barry was also a notoriously terrible liar, so it wasn’t as relevant as it could have been.
“Dangit,” Superman said, crossing his arms again. He leaned back to scope out the area around them. No one seemed to be paying them much mind. “What time?”
“Eleven on a Saturday,” Flash said, looking even more smug. “You know I don’t mess around.”
“Tch!” Superman made an irritated sound, licking his canines. Then he snapped his fingers. “You forgot about–”
“Nnnope,” Flash interrupted. “I’m including the new ones in that, that’s the whole reason we had to reset our times, otherwise I’d still be at seven-point-four.”
“Tch.” Superman drummed his fingers against his bicep. “Nine seconds,” he repeated, torn between irritation and awe.
“You know what that means,” Flash said, waggling his eyebrows.
Superman sighed. “Alright, where are we going?”
“I want soup.”
“Uh-huh.” Superman waited. Flash was waiting for him to ask. Superman was not going to give him the satisfaction.
“… in Saigon.”
“You’ve been watching Bourdain again,” Superman accused.
“It looked like really good soup!” Flash said, defensive.
“Fine,” Superman said, “but I am going to beat your time, and when I do–”
“Beat what, now?” Wonder Woman asked, having managed to approach them while they were distracted by negotiations.
“Nothing!” Flash and Superman said at once.
“We were just talking,” Superman said.
“About stuff,” Flash added unnecessarily. “Private, personal, man stuff.”
Wonder Woman’s eyebrows shot up. She was close enough for her lariat to hum on her hip. She looked Flash over. Flash started to turn red.
“Okay bye!” Flash said, and he was gone in a streak of red.
“Superman?” Wonder Woman asked.
“I should, uh. Hal…”
He wasn’t actually making any definitive statements, just stringing words together, and yet somehow it still managed to ring false. She watched him go, putting her hands on her hips.
She could practically sense it when Batman came up beside her, even quiet as he was.
“Do you want to know what they were talking about.”
“Do you know?” she wondered. He said nothing, so she turned to look at his face. It was as expressionless as ever, but she got the impression that he did not consider the question worthy of dignifying with a response.
He was Batman. He would never be so rude as to say ‘of course’ – but of course he knew.
“I wouldn’t want to invade his privacy,” Wonder Woman said cautiously.
“He’d tell you if you really asked,” Batman said. “They just like feeling like they have a special thing.”
“I see.” She tapped on her lower lip as she watched Superman talk to one of the Green Lanterns. “So what’s the special thing?”
“Pick me up in the plane on Saturday and I can show you.”
She froze. Slowly, she turned to look at him. As always, being able to see him helped not at all. “Like a date?” she asked.
The corner of his mouth twitched. “More like a stakeout.”
“That could be like a date.” She was mostly saying it to tease him. Sometimes if she did it right, he turned pink and had to find a shadow to hide in.
“It’s usually not.”
“I’m usually with the kids.”
“Oh!” Her eyes widened. “I didn’t mean–”
She put her hand out to rest on his shoulder. “I would never imply–”
She took her hand back. “I’ll behave,” she assured him.
“You don’t have to,” he said, and she grinned.
“I’ll pick you up at ten,” she said, and she gave him an exaggerated wink as she walked away.
“It’s a date,” he murmured.
“Why,” Wonder Woman asked, “are we in Florida?”
Batman was sitting beside her, and the plane was in a low hover. “Because as far as anyone can tell, this is the single biggest and busiest Walmart in the world.”
“I don’t think that explains as much as you think it does,” she said.
Batman held up a phone. A clock took up most of the screen. 10:59. “Watch,” he said, and he pointed out to the parking lot, vast and terrifying and teeming with people. She watched, and she had no idea how she was supposed to see anything in the crowd.
Finally, she spotted it. The motion too quick to be anything mortal. Would anyone on the ground notice anything more than a strong breeze?
“Oh! It’s the–” She snapped her fingers, couldn’t remember the word.
“Carts,” Batman supplied.
In almost no time at all, every cart in the parking lot had been returned to one of the designated corrals. Batman pointed to something that he must have been using technology in his mask to see, because otherwise his eyes should not have been good enough. Wonder Woman was much better equipped to see Superman, standing beneath a tree and checking a stopwatch and scowling. He did some kind of motion with his arms and one leg that suggested he’d have thrown his hat to the ground, if he’d been wearing one.
“They introduced new carts,” Batman explained. “They don’t fit with the other ones, so it slows them down. Ruined their whole system.”
“They had a system?” she asked, giggling.
“No, here,” he said, tapping her arm to point again. “This is the best part. He’s frustrated.”
“That’s the best part?”
“Watch what he does.”
She watched. Superman was gone again, more impossible-to-follow motion through the crowd. Things were moving. Large things.
“He’s fixing the cars!” she said, clapping her hands together.
“He’s fixing bad parking jobs,” Batman confirmed. “Because he’s mad.” There was a brief crooked curve to his mouth.
“He moved that one to a different space!”
“Illegally parked in a handicapped spot.”
“How fun.” Wonder Woman watched the people wandering through the lot, wondered how many of them had noticed what was happening and how many had disregarded it as nothing worth noticing. “Flash is the winner of this contest, then?”
“Is there a prize?”
“Clark buys him lunch. Usually somewhere he saw on a food show, since he can’t normally do that.”
“Barry can run anywhere, can’t he?” she asked. “I see no reason he couldn’t run to these places on his own.”
“He doesn’t like being alone in foreign countries,” Batman explained. “It makes him anxious.”
“Oh.” She returned her gaze to the parking lot. “How nice, then, that it all works out.” She frowned. “Is this weird?” she asked. “Spying on our friends like this.”
“I don’t think I’m the right person to ask.”
“Do you do this often?” she wondered. “Watch people have fun without you?”
Wonder Woman held up a finger in warning. “Zatanna taught me a trick.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“She says that if you ask me to define the parameters, it means the answer is bad.”
Before he could respond, there was a thump.
Superman was standing on the nose of the invisible jet.
He tapped a knuckle on the glass, until Diana opened the hatch. “Hello!” she said cheerfully.
“What are you two doing here?” Clark asked.
“We’re on a date!” Diana said.
“We’re not on a date,” Batman said.
“If you’re not on a date, can you give me a ride?”
“You’re out of our way,” Batman said.
“Nah, just drop me off in Gotham,” Clark said, slipping inside the plane, awkwardly floating between the two front seats into the back.
“You don’t even need a ride,” Bruce said, having to fit himself as far as possible into the edge of his seat so that Clark would have room to get by. “You can fly.”
“Yeah, and you can walk, but I don’t see you giving up the Batmobile.” Clark made himself comfortable in the back seat as Diana closed up the plane. “I’m craving Dimitri’s.”
“You’re too sober for Dimitri’s,” Bruce said.
“I’m always sober. You’re lucky I can tell this wasn’t a real date, or I would be really creeped out by the whole spying on me thing.”
“Don’t tell Barry we know about your special thing,” Diana said, pulling the plane out of its hover to ascend. “I don’t want to ruin it for him.”
“I won’t,” Clark assured her. “Hey, you know where we should go while we’re here?”
“No,” said Bruce.
“Where?” asked Diana.
“No,” said Bruce.
Clark put a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. “You can’t have come all the way to Florida just to see me,” he coaxed.
“I’m banned from Walmart, strongly discouraged from visiting Disney parks, and my parents are dead. I have no other reason to visit Florida.”
i find it kinda interesting that bruce is almost never portrayed as 'evil' in any dark future or parallel universe. even in earth-3 owlman isn't bruce and now in batwoman (in the future) the evil batman is revealed to be tim. the closest one to being evil is in the justice lords universe and even then he defected in the end. even dick is getting the same treatment as tim currently in nightwing: new order. then again,metal is coming, i hear the green lantern one is actually a bruce
well, there are evil versions of batman - my favorite is the alternate universe batman and superman who were Evil Collaborative Brothers, and when batman was killed superman mcfreakin lost it, and it was beautiful. fantastic. phenomenal. there’s even seven new evil batmans involved in dark nights metal, but i’d hesitate to call them truly evil batmans because - in my opinion - this dark multiverse sounds like something that corrupts everything it touches, almost like a sickness, but we don’t know yet, so i won’t count them. but yes, you are right that bruce doesn’t have a new order, or an injustice, or an evil future self that reminds me of that one danny phantom episode. i do, actually, have a theory on this. incidentally, there are two.
my doylist explanation is that i think it’s because batman’s already a dark character. there is nothing, really, to be gained from exploring an evil batman - i mean, look at TDKR, tell me something truly sinister isn’t just a skip to the left. a tug on the moral rug beneath batman’s boots is all it’d take, there. and i’m only mentioning TDKR because it’s the only DK installment anywhere close to a reasonable batman characterization, ASBAR……. ASBAR does not fucking count, man. it’s not going to have the same effect, to take batman and do unsettling things to his personality, as it is with characters who are much brighter like nightwing or superman. the most interesting space for a character like batman to inhabit is the one between angry, violent crusader and eight-year-old kid who really just wants to make sure no one hurts ever again. that’s the money spot. that’s the reason we can publish comics that are literally just batman talking to himself, or having a nightmare, and they’ll still be gripping. Evil Batman intentionally leaves the money spot. Evil Batman is a very, very hard batman to make as dynamic as his heroic counterpart.
my watsonian explanation is that bruce is really, really, really fucking stubborn. in order to make him change his worldview, you’re going to have to rock his world, and there have been two (2) times i really think bruce’s world was truly rocked; one, when dear old ma and pop died, two, when jason died. my thing is, i don’t think you will ever manage to do something to bruce again that hurts him as bad as losing jason did - he lost his world, and so he resolved to make his world smaller. he got colder. he got meaner. he built himself a wall, and this time, it was that much harder to get past it - and as horrible as this is going to sound, i don’t think losing another robin would hurt quite as much as losing jason did, because he never expected to lose jason, and now he wakes up every day knowing that it’s likely someone could die, even probable. i’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt, because it does, and it’s awful, but it won’t carve him into someone different, like losing jason did.
so what i’m saying is, if you wanted to pull the aforementioned moral rug out from under bruce’s feet, you got two chances, and you won’t get any more, because bruce’s stubborness is one of his most universal personality traits. but i’m also saying that people don’t pull that rug, because there’s nothing under it that we haven’t already come to understand. also i make no fucking sense guys why do you pay attention to me
For the Batfam content war that @camsthisky has been so gracious to put on for us. This fic ended up MUCH longer than I expected it to be, so much so that I broke it up into two parts (both are posted and the fic is complete, don’t worry I won’t make you guys wait all day for the whole thing). It’s a little exploration of the first, and then later times when Damian or Dick needed each other after a nightmare.
Let me toss out a quick thank you to @audreycritter for helping me with this, @laquilasse for accidentally inspiring part of it and waiting so patiently on it, and @camsthisky for also helping with it. I asked you all questions about it and somehow all the pieces ended up in this fic.
Words: 7,974 Rating: General Audiences Warnings: There is some late night self hate that shows up in this fic, which is a little out of my norm, so please be aware of that. It’s nothing that warrants a rating change, but a general warning for you guys.
Dick Grayson likes to ward off nightmares by holding the person closest to him. Damian Wayne believes nightmares should be suffered in silence. This is how Dick managed to convince Damian that comfort is okay. Or two times Dick comforted Damian, and two times Damian returned the favor.