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Fic: Wrong Answer; Bruce/Clark; PG

Title: Wrong Answer
Author: Aravis Tarkheena
Pairing: Bruce/Clark
Rating: PG
Warnings: Angst
Disclaimer: Not mine, everyone's legal. Um, except Dick who, for the sake of this story, isn't SUPPOSED to be.
Word Count: 2,000ish
Author's Notes: Self indulgent what now? :D Anyway, in my head, this takes place in the DCAU just after Bruce takes Dick in.
Summary: Bruce is having some second thoughts...

Wrong Answer

The Cave was dead quiet when Clark arrived, and warmer than usual. The lights were lit, but there were no sounds of training, no intent voices discussing cases, no solitary tapping at a keyboard. Even the bats seemed silent and subdued, content to roost peacefully as night slowly gave way to dawn in the world outside.

It had been several weeks since Clark's last visit to either the Cave or the Manor. Bruce had been busy with a case, and getting Dick settled into the Manor. He had been distracted and somewhat stressed. Subsequently, Clark had decided that giving Bruce some time and space to adjust with Dick was probably for the best. Additionally, Clark had been called off world, shortly after Dick had arrived. Time for phone calls, or anything even remotely longer, was scarce on all sides.

Clark furrowed his brow in mild confusion as he touched down on the cave floor. He glanced briefly around the 'Cave, and, indeed, found no one. Focusing briefly on his hearing, it took only a matter of seconds for Clark to locate Alfred asleep in his corner of the house. Dick was similarly tucked up in bed, sleeping deeply.

Bruce was closer to hand, in the area of the of the 'Cave where the weight equipment was set up. Clark glided over to the sound of Bruce's soft, even breathing. Sitting on the edge of a weight bench, Bruce was dressed only in a pair of lose work out pants, and a white undershirt. Elbow's resting on his knees, Bruce looked off into the middle distance as his hands dangled between this spread thighs.

As Clark approached, Bruce didn't look up in his direction. His gaze seemed to be fixed on the far wall of the cave, vacant and a little lost.

Clark pursed his lips.

“Bruce,” Clark called quietly. “Long time no see.” Clark dropped down into a crouch beside the weight bench.

Bruce shifted his eyes to Clark's face, but didn't quite seem to register his presence. His eyes were blank, and far away, slightly red and rimmed with exhaustion. The purple circles around them were dark as bruises.

“Bruce,” Clark tried again, reaching out a hand to cup Bruce's shoulder. It was stiff, the muscles tight with palpable tension.

Bruce blinked several times at the physical contact, and his eyes finally focused on Clark. He opened his mouth to speak, but he didn't say a word. After a few pregnant seconds, he shook his head, and closed his mouth.

“Bruce are you alright?” Clark's worry was growing by the moment. He was starting to wonder how much, exactly, he had missed over the past few weeks. Bruce had seemed fine on the phone, Dick had as well, clearly Clark had missed something.

Clark wanted desperately for Bruce to speak. Clark needed for Bruce to say something. This silence was terrifyingly difficult to read.


Bruce just shook his head again and swallowed hard. Closing his eyes, Bruce tilted his head back slightly. The muscles of Bruce's neck and shoulders were so tense that Clark could easily see his tendons.

“Bruce you look exhausted,” Clark said. “Maybe you should just head up to bed...”

“I can't,” Bruce rasped out in a voice that sounded rough and desperate. It was terrible to hear.

“You... You can't what, Bruce?” Clark asked, feeling a little desperate himself.

“I can't go up. I just can't...” Bruce repeated, thick voiced and almost frantic.

“What?” Clark asked, confused. “Why can't you go to bed? Bruce, I think--”

“He has nightmares,” Bruce cut him off roughly. “He has nightmares every night. I hear him scream, and I--” Bruce broke off then. He shook his head violently as if trying to expel whatever memories were flooding into his mind. Bruce closed his eyes, and bit his lip, before he pressed a hand hard to his mouth.

Bruce was staring off into the distance again, eyes wild and face tight. His posture spoke of tension and misery.


Bruce didn't look like this. Bruce didn't sound like this. He didn't talk like this. At all. Ever.

Bruce was stoic.

Bruce was poised.

Clark had seen the man with more composure while actively disarming a bomb.

Seeing him like this was more than a little terrifying.

Clark wasn't sure what to say to him. He didn't have a frame of reference for situations like this. At least not situations like this involving Bruce.

When Bruce had decided to take Dick in several months ago, he had seemed so confident. Bruce always seemed to have everything under control. Clark figured that if Bruce could handle an endless crusade for justice, he could handle an eight year old.

It made sense for Bruce to take in Dick. It made sense to Clark. It made sense to Dick. It made sense to the state of New Jersey, and, in Clark's mind, that had been the end of it.

Bruce was the type of person who always seemed to have his life under pretty tight control.

This was not controlled. At all.

Clark reached out a hand and cupped Bruce's knee, comfortingly.

“He asked me...” Bruce went on in a choked voice, “the other night he asked me how to make them stop.”

Clark swallowed hard, and shut his eyes, trying hard not to picture that particular exchange. It made his chest physically ache to think about. He didn't even want to consider what it had done to Bruce.

“I didn't know what to say,” Bruce said, barely controlled panic in his voice. “I just didn't know what to say.”

“So, what did you tell him?” Clark asked quietly.

“I told him it didn't matter. I told him that he should just remember that either Alfred or I would always there for him when he woke up from them,” Bruce said, but he didn't sound like he thought that had been the right answer to the question.

“That sounds pretty good to me,” Clark ventured.

Bruce shook his head roughly. “It wasn't enough. I couldn't lie to him, but what I said wasn't enough. I know it wasn't enough. It wasn't the right answer.”

“Why isn't it the right answer?” Clark asked.

“Because it wasn't the answer he needed to hear,” Bruce spat.

“Then... What is the right answer?”

“There isn't one,” Bruce burst out. “There was nothing else I could have said to him, but that doesn't make it the right thing.”

“Bruce I'm not sure--” Clark began again, but Bruce cut him off.

“What if I make a mistake?” Bruce asked and there was something in his voice that sounded a lot like desperation with a tinge of panic.

“Bruce it's not fair to call it a mistake if there is no right answer,” Clark pointed out.

“Not that,” Bruce snapped. “I mean taking him in, in the first place. I figured that I had to be better than nothing. At least I could feed him. I could give him a place to sleep. I could give him a better future than anyone else in the whole damn city. But it's not just that, is it? I have to raise him. Not just raise him! I have to raise him to be happy and healthy and well adjusted.”

Bruce shook his head and sighed. He ran a hand restlessly through his hair.

“How am I supposed to teach him that when I clearly haven't figured it out?” Bruce asked desperately.

Bruce's hair was mussed. His shirt was wrinkled and twisted a little crookedly on his shoudlers. His stoic face was lined with self doubt and worry, and there was a smudge of dirt on his left cheek.

Bruce looked beautiful and Clark wasn't sure he had ever loved the man more.

Clark smiled and leaned in to wrap his arms around Bruce's waist. Titling his head back, Clark looked up into Bruce's face.

“I have an answer for you, Bruce, but I'm pretty sure it isn't the right one,” Clark said with a gentle smile.

Bruce's mouth quirked wryly back at him.

“Then here's my advice to you: Don't adopt,” Bruce instructed. “Learn from my mistake.”

Clark locked eyes with Bruce, and shook his head.

“I don't think it was a mistake, Bruce,” Clark told him seriously. “I just think it's going to be really difficult for you.”

Bruce sighed deeply and gave Clark an arch look. “Difficult? You don't say... I would never have guessed...”

“The good news is that you've never actually shied away from hard work ever in your life. So I think you and Dick are set,” Clark teased.

Bruce's mouth tightened, and the little wrinkles that were starting to form at the corners of his eyes became more pronounced. Clark reached up a hand and played his index finger against them.

“And when it gets to be too much,” Clark said, giving Bruce's knee a comforting squeeze, “I'll be here to help. Just like everything else. We're a team, Bruce.”

Bruce's face smoothed out for a moment, before his eyes took on a worried hue.

“Do you really think it'll be enough? Do you think I'll be enough?” Bruce asked thickly.

“Probably not,” Clark said slowly. “But I'm pretty sure we'll be enough. You, me and Alfred, anyway, since the two of us can't really cook . And then there will be anyone else Dick decides he needs in his life. It's not like he's shy about making what he needs known.”

Bruce took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“Well, at the very least, I didn't send him to boarding school,” Bruce said. “I know I got that part right.”

“See,” Clark said with a smile, hugging Bruce close, “just take it one step at a time.”

“As it turns out, that's a lot of days,” Bruce sighed.

“He has to spend a few of them at the farm every month,” Clark put in sensibly. “At least one weekend.”

Bruce lifted an incredulous eyebrow. “You think he can get his entire recommenced dose of sunlight in one weekend.”

“He's a pretty motivated kid,” Clark mused. “I'm also hoping you will use those designated weekends to get your recommended dose of rest.”

Bruce hummed noncommittally.

“I mean it Bruce,” Clark said. “I really do want to help.”

“I believe you,” Bruce answered softly. “For now at least. I'm pretty sure we're both going to seriously reconsider this when he hits puberty.”

Clark smiled at Bruce, and pressed a kiss to the corner of his jaw bone.

“How about this?” Clark coaxed. “We go upstairs, try to forget the word 'puberty' exists, and get some sleep.”

The worry came back into Bruce's eyes. Clark rocked up onto his knees and kissed Bruce again. Clark hugged him close.

“If Dick wakes up, I'll be there for him,” Clark promised. “That way you can get some real sleep.”

Bruce sort of melted, tiredly, into the hug.

“What if he wants me? If he asks for me, you'll wake me, right?” Bruce mumbled tiredly. “You'll wake me up?”

“Absolutely,” Clark lied with alacrity.

Bruce looked like he wanted to be skeptical, but was too tired to manage it completely. He let Clark lead him upstairs with little effort, pausing only briefly outside of Dick's half opened door.

After they settled into bed, Bruce fell asleep within moments, his head pillowed on Clark's shoulder. Clark pressed a soft kiss to Bruce's temple.

Clark dozed, but kept part of his attention on Dick's room, but the boy slept through the entire night. And so did Bruce.


Oh, and the next part of Poaching is at the beta. ETA is Sunday. I figured this will tide you over. A bit, at any rate.

Incidentally, I'm sitting on a pretty little piece of porny femslash. I am willing to trade it for porn of equal or lesser value. Who wants to take me up on my offer? It's Kara/Cassie. And there's biting. ~<3333



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC)
Aw! I really liked this. I want more angsty daddy Bruce. It's the best kind, I say. :D

...Also, I must free the Cassie/Kara! There is not enough in the world! I will work on something porny when I get the time. Be warned, the porniness will probably not be NC-17, but I'll try.
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. I'm SO fond of Daddy Bruce I can't even tell you. He's so CUTE when he's being all awkwardly fatherly.

I'll type it up for you when I get home from Philly, tomorrow. Just 'cause I like so you much. Kara gets all possessive and bitey. ~<3 I've been CRAVING girl-kisses lately. :D
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
I am such a sucker for Family Man Bruce. XD

Yay! *claps happily*
Mar. 26th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
Awww!! Poor Bruce, so out of his element. I always love it when Clark is there for him during this time, and your Clark is such a wonderful sweetheart here, soft little lies and all. ^_~


(OT: I got your card yesterday, sweetie. Thank you so much! *smishes* ^___^)
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
I maintain that B had to have had at least ONE freak out about adopting Dick. They never really SHOW that in the comics. But poor Bruce must have had quite a few 'omg what the fuck have I done?D:'

I'm glad that you liked the story. It was just a bit of schmoop. I needed some in my life. <33

I'm glad you liked your card btw! <3333333333
Mar. 26th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
Aww family man Bruce is fabulously sweet and Clark is wonderful at helping him settle down. I love the idea of Clark taking Dick out to the farm once a month.
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
Familyman Bruce is my favorite kind of Bruce. <3333

He and Clark are good Daddies. <333

Dickie needs Grandparents to spoil him. :D
Mar. 28th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
You should NEVER apologize for angst. Especially angsty Bruce! And father-Bruce at that!

This was truly wonderful, truly. I adored Bruce fretting and worrying over the responsibilities of fatherhood. And Clark was perfectly supportive as a partner. This was really terrific and a great display of the ways in which Bruce and Clark compliment one another.

Great job, my dear! Such a joy to read!
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
Angst: Lauren's not so secret weakness. :DDDDD

I love Daddy Bruce so much. He makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. <33333333333

I'm glad that you liked it. I just wanted to do something short and sweet to cleanse my pallet.
Apr. 1st, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. My not so secret weakness. I'd admit I have a problem...but I don't see it as one! I just love stories that make my heart hurt. Don't get me wrong, I love fluff and schmoop as well. But there's something about angst. It's like a siren call saying "you will hurt for these characters, because you love them so, but perhaps there'll be resolution and happiness. And if not, you are a masochist and love the pain." (yeah, that siren is long winded.)

Daddy Bruce is always wonderful, because you just KNOW he would be no good at things. Not at first, that's for sure. Batman is so much about honed perfection of an ordinary human. Bruce can master that...but emotion? Being an emotional support for someone? That he would struggle with, and would need help because he'd want to be perfect and right. Clark is the perfect partner and friend to show him that it's not about perfection, but about caring. About trying.

Anyways, wonderful job again. Bruce melt-downs are always a fun little romp!
Apr. 9th, 2011 11:00 am (UTC)
Eeek! *melts* Angsty uncertain daddy Bruce is the best kind. It's so like him to panic and be unsure if maybe he's made a terrible mistake--not for his life, but for Dick's.

Clark figured that if Bruce could handle an endless crusade for justice, he could handle an eight year old.

I love this sentence just because it sums up what's so wonderful about stories of Bruce raising Dick--that tension between his total competence and his lack of faith in himself. Clark is a great POV for witnessing Bruce's freak-out, too, because I'm not sure he'd confess about it to anyone else but Alfred...
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
Oh man, he so is. It's really just adorable. <333 I know it's totally self indulgent, but I love writing Daddy-Bruce. :D

I'm glad you liked it. :D
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
*wibbles* God, so bittersweet. When Bruce said "He has nightmares", my heart kind of clenched for him. Poor Bruce. I'm so glad he has Clark to be there for him!
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
KIRA ARE YOU HOME NOW? HOW WAS YOUR TRIP!? I hope you had lots of fun. <333

I'm glad that you liked the fic. Poor Bruce totally needs a co-daddy. :D
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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