The question comes out of nowhere, but you’re not really surprised. You expected it to come eventually. “How did you meet Dad?”
Your eyes meet Tim’s, before they slide to Bruce. He’s still pretending to read the paper, but you can see the smirk from where you’re sitting.
Then, almost as if by magic, your other kids appear. You smile as they all plop down around you and Bruce and just stare. You’ve never told them this story. It had just never been the right time.
“Ask your father.”
Mouths drop open and Jason says, “You’re finally going to tell us?”
You just smile and say, “It’s up to your dad.”
Bruce lowers his paper as Damian snuggles into one of your sides, and Tim takes the other. Jason plops down on one side of your legs, while Dick takes the other. Helena and Cass immediately snuggle up next to Bruce, Daddy’s girls to the core the both of them. Your husband just smiles, “Well, since the entire family is all here …”
“Not quite.” You say as Alfred comes into the room, Terry in his arms. He passes the baby to you as Dick and Jason go to sit next to the old butler. Bruce looks a bit surprised, but Alfred just smiles and says, “This is perhaps my favorite story of all time. I’m certainly not going to miss it.”
Bruce simply sets his paper to the side and starts in on the story. “We were ten, and we went to school together. Your mother was a scholarship student; she was living with her grandmother. Alfred had forced me back to school after two years of homeschooling. He was worried about my socialization skills.”
Jason scoffs, “I can’t imagine why.”
Bruce ignores him and continues, “At that point the importance of contacts had been fully stressed to our peers.”
You smile, “They were trying to get in good with the Wayne heir.”
Bruce nods, “Everyone but your mother. Her nose was always in a book. It was always a new book too. And she usually had several more in her bag. But I noticed her because she never once approached me. Despite being in a position where contacts would come in handy. She just kept to herself.”
“Scholarship students weren’t exactly welcomed.”
Bruce nods, “We got paired for a project one day, and instead of doing it here, she insisted we do it at her apartment. This was strange as well, because everyone wanted to come to the manor. It gave their parents a chance to pick them up, and try and put their faces in my mind. Your grandmother, however, invited me to this tiny little apartment. It was decorated with bright colors, and the smell of baked goods was always in the air. I smiled there, and that was the amazing thing. I smiled freely, I hadn’t done that since my parents died.
“I found out that we had a lot in common, and I was sad when the project was over. I was immediately absorbed by my peers again. Your mother went back to reading.”
You shrug, “I liked my books, and I didn’t exactly fit in with his crowd.”
Bruce just scoffs, “They weren’t my crowd.”
“They certainly thought they were,” you tease. The boys are laughing by this point. Bruce had never been one for socialization, especially now that he had a family. As far he was concerned, you guys were all he needed.
“All right, on with the story.” Tim says with a smile as the laughter dies down.
Bruce clears his throat, “About two weeks after the project ended I stumbled across some kids talking about my parents… and me. Not nice things either. I knew that most of it had been fake, I’d figured that out when my parents were still alive. But it still hurt. Anyways, one of them said something about your mother. They called her a love sick puppy before they started talking about how she wasn’t worthy, and something in me snapped. I couldn’t protect my parents, but I could protect her.”
You smile at that before saying: “Of course, he was a scrawny, outnumbered ten-year-old boy at the time, without any skills for fighting.”
Bruce just smiles, “You mother saved my butt. She threw some rocks, and nailed the boys, she hit another one with a book, the Odyssey I believe.”
The boys all turn to look at you, and you just smile and say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
“So I’m covered in bruises, and we still have three periods left, and your mother decides to drag me home instead of to the nurse’s office. We took the bus all the way across town. My clothes were torn, I had a black eye, and split lip. We get to her apartment, her grandmother takes one look at me and breaks open the first aid kit. She never asked what happened, and she didn’t send us back to school.”
You smile at the memory. “My grandmother was unusually perceptive. She had been a nurse during World War Two. She always knew what a person was about to do before they did it.”
“She was the first one to teach me how to observe. To notice the little details a lot of people let slip by.”
A moment of silence passes while you and Bruce get lost in the memory of the woman. Damian shifting brings you back and you clear your throat before looking at Bruce, “She always said you would do great things. Said you’d be the one to save Gotham.”
Bruce just smiles, “Strange, she said you’d be the one to save me. She said you’d keep me from getting lost. She said that you’d save me. I miss her, wish she could have seen all of you.”
You laugh, “She never would have believed it, and she would have killed the both of us for graduating early and going off to travel the world.”
Bruce nods, “That woman scared the dickens out me at times.”
Alfred just laughs, “The two of you were mischief makers. Thick as thieves from that moment on. They had every class together, and were constantly competing for the top spot!”
“So you left after Gran died?” Helena asks.
Bruce gives her a one armed hug, “Almost immediately after it happened. Your mother got herself emancipated, and then we left. We both needed a change. It was while we were gone that the idea of Batman was born.”
“You got married overseas? Right?” Dick asks
You nod, “In Tibet. I wore a pair of three-year-old jeans, that were falling apart, and this blue shirt. It was right after your father had finished his major training. We were nineteen. We came home after that. Alfred thought we were crazy.”
Alfred just scoffs, “I still think you’re crazy.”
You smirk, “You got your grandkids, be happy.”
Alfred smiles, “You, Mrs. Wayne, made an honest man out of my boy. You helped him overcome. You gave him a wonderful set of children. I honestly believe you made all the difference.”
Bruce smiles before leaning over and grabbing your hand, “I do too.”
You can feel yourself on the verge of tears, when you sniff them back and turn to the girls, “I still have that shirt if either one of you would like to wear it on your wedding day.”
There’s a round of laughter, before you hear the entrance to the cave open. Bruce, Dick, and Jason are on their feet in a matter of seconds before Clark appears. The look on his face tells you that something has happened. “Bruce, we have a problem.”
Bruce raises an eyebrow and asks, “What sort of problem?”
Then a voice that you’d know anywhere say, “Us.” And several different versions of your husband and children step into the light. From the corner of your eye you watch as Cass signs, “This is not good.”
Adorable baby artwork of Charles the Third, Hulk Davidson and Gran Bruce with their favourite toys.
Screen capped from Viewtiful Joe Red Hot Rumble PAL Gamecube version.
I could go into detail about the tools involved but I can’t be bothered right now. I own nothing and all that legal stuff, Capcom and Clover Studios (yeah I know they are dead LONG LIVE PLATINUMGAMES) do.