Friday, October 26, 2007

Wings in the Night

Dick Grayson, Clark/ Chlois
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

"Have you seen him anywhere, Dick?"

Clad in his black-and-blue costume, Dick Grayson smiled as reassuringly as he could at the woman in front of him. "I'm afraid not, Lois," he said. "I'll keep looking. But if he doesn't want to be found..."

"Yes, I know." She sighed, running her fingers through her slightly silvered brown hair in a habitual gesture. Dick knew she wasn't the original "Lois Lane," but he thought of her as Lois without any difficulty, and the rest of the world did likewise.

Dick Grayson had once been known as Robin, but now the world knew him as Nightwing, and there was another kid running around under the name Robin. So the fact that Lois had changed her name along the way didn't confuse him, not at all.

Names didn't matter all that much anyway, in his opinion. What really mattered was the person behind the name.

And Lois Lane-- this Lois Lane; he'd never met the first one-- was quite a person, a really impressive human being. Over the course of her career, her articles in the Daily Planet had exposed more bad guys than most superheroes could ever dream of taking down.

He liked Lois a lot. In fact, he had a bit of a crush on her, despite the fact that she was old enough to be his mother. With her intensity and dedication, as well as her ability to use a computer to find out just about anything, she kind of reminded him of... well, a girl he was really, really fond of.

"I'll keep an eye out for him," he assured her. He could tell she was worried, because the TV was tuned to CNN, even though she'd muted it when he entered the apartment. Or maybe Lois Lane just watched CNN compulsively anyway. It kind of figured.

She frowned. "There's no need for you to go out of your way, Dick. I know you have work to do..."

"I can watch out for him while I'm on patrol. Don't worry." He smiled at her, then headed out the window.

Jumping out the same window that Supes flew in and out of all the time gave him a ridiculous little rush of hero-worship, which he tried to ignore. But he couldn't, because he knew as well as anyone that Superman wasn't just a superhero. He was the superhero.

Nightwing flipped his way down to Sullivan Place, leaping from level to level of the fire escape-- because unlike Big Blue, he was just an ordinary human beneath the spandex, and he couldn't fly-- and took off at a run, his dark suit and hair blending into the shadows.


"Your wife is looking for you, you know."

Nightwing found Supes standing on the Daily Planet roof three hours later. He'd been by this way a few times already, and Blue hadn't been here then. But then again, the man could appear and disappear faster than anyone on Earth, save maybe the Flash.

Dick knew he was lucky the big guy hadn't taken off when he heard him coming. Because as silently as he moved through the dark, he figured he sounded like an elephant blundering through a china shop to Supes.

But the fact that the Boy Scout hadn't left was a good sign. Maybe he actually wanted to talk.

Yeah, right, he scoffed at himself. He wants to talk to you. The junior wannabe superhero. Suuuure he does.

Supes didn't turn his head at the sound of Dick's voice. He stood staring into the night. The golden light from the lit globe gleamed on his dark hair, and his crimson cape rippled behind him like the wings of some enormous, brilliantly hued bird. His chin was tilted upward, his shoulders squared, and he looked so much like a king or an emperor that Nightwing had to fight not to bow as he approached.

It was, he thought, a damn lucky thing that Blue didn't want to take over the world. Because the big guy had a natural air of authority and power that was really hard not to defer to.

"Yes." Supes' voice was deep and resonant. He spoke softly, but that same sense of authority flowed through his voice. "I know."

"You haven't been home in two days--" Dick almost called him Supes, the way he usually did in his head, but the sheer presence of the man demanded respect. "Superman. She's worried about you."

"I've been thinking."

Dick paused next to the older man. He straightened his spine and squared his shoulders, but he still wasn't quite as tall, or quite as broad. Damn it.

Then again, he'd always known Superman was larger than life. And he himself definitely wasn't.

He was just a kid in a costume.

Well, a young man in a costume, now. Still, he wasn't a superhero. He was just a guy in black and blue spandex.

"Beautiful city," he said, following Superman's gaze. "I've only been here a year, but I like it. I guess that's mostly due to you, though. You've kept the crime rate pretty low."

Supes shrugged a big shoulder. "This is a city of good people," he said, sounding very sincere. The love he felt for his city shone clearly through his tone. "They just need a little help."

Dick knew Supes had given them more than a little help over the years. He'd invested his entire adult life in this city. He'd been a fixture of Metropolis for over twenty years.

"So," he said. "Why are you standing here staring at it?"

Supes turned his head and looked at him, and suddenly a small smile quirked up one of the corners of his mouth.

"Because I got tired of flying over it and staring at it," he said.

Dick couldn't help his answering grin. "Any particular reason you're staring at Metropolis instead of going home and hanging out with your wife and kid?"

Supes sighed heavily, creating a breeze that almost knocked Nightwing off his feet. "Midlife crisis, I guess."

Dick lifted an eyebrow. "Are you really at the middle of your life?"

"I don't know." Supes smiled, a little wryly. "That's the crisis."

"Yeah." Dick thought of the silver strands that glinted in Lois' hair, and nodded. "I can see how that could be a problem."

"Well, you're what, twenty-five?"


Supes gave a soft laugh that held no hint of malice. "You're immortal, then. As far as you know, anyway. You won't really begin to worry about your mortality till later."

Dick shrugged a shoulder. He'd watched his parents die at an early age, so he was probably more conscious of his own mortality than most guys his age. Still, Supes was right, for the most part. He didn't worry much about dying, despite the extremely hazardous nature of his chosen profession.

"I guess," he said. "But you're really immortal. Or are you?"

"I'm not certain, actually. I've been told I am. But I don't know for sure."

Dick looked out across the city. "It can't be easy to think you're probably going to outlive Lois and your kids."

"No." Abruptly, Supes sounded grim. "It's not."

"But you know, you have a while before you have to worry about it."

"I know." The Big Blue Boy Scout shrugged a massive shoulder. "But worrying is something I do well. It's always been one of my strong points."

Dick stared out into the darkness. For a long moment he was silent. Then he blurted out his own concerns.

"Bruce is getting older, too."

"Yes. I've noticed."

"We were sparring the other day, and I-- I took him down. That's never happened before."

"Maybe you're just getting better, Dick."

"Or maybe he's just getting slower."

"Hard to believe. Bruce seems like one of the fixtures of our world."

"Everyone gets older, Superman. Even you."

Superman turned his head and looked at him for a long moment. At last he smiled slightly.

"We're alone up here, Dick. You can call me Clark."

"I-- I--" To his embarrassment, Dick found himself stammering. "No. I-- I can't."

"Yes, you can. You're not a little kid any more, Dick. It's time we old guys quit treating you like one. Call me Clark."

"Uhhhh..." Dick took a deep breath and got himself under control. "Okay, Clark. Thanks."

"You're the future of this world, Dick. Not us oldtimers. You."

"Um... you're only forty-five, Sup-- Clark."

"Forty-seven. But the point is, as we get older, we have to count on you to pick up the slack. Even when we aren't around any more, you're going to take over and keep things going the right way." He looked thoughtful. "Maybe in a way... we're all immortal."

"Uh, yeah." Dick wasn't sure what the hell Supes was talking about, but he wasn't going to stand here and contradict the man. Superman was Superman, even when he was rambling. "Maybe."

At the dubious note in his voice, Supes flashed a rueful grin. "I'm not getting senile, Dick. I'm serious. I mean, I have my daughter. Bruce has you. Most of us have proteges of one sort or another. And even those who don't leave their mark on the world somehow."

"Yeah." Dick nodded. "I guess I do see what you mean."

Supes looked out over the city again. "It's what we do in the world that makes us immortal. It's the footprint we leave behind us."

"In that case," Dick said, "you're definitely immortal. And so is Lois."

A smile curved Supes' lips at the thought of Lois. "She's made a hell of a mark on the world, all right," he agreed, his voice soft but full of pride. "But I always knew she would."

"Plus you've got your daughter."

"True." Supes nodded. "And Bruce has you."

"And Tim."

"Yes. And all of Gotham City. Bruce has made his mark in the world, too, Dick. As much of a mark as any man could hope for. Don't worry about him."

"I just hate to think of a day when he isn't there any more." To his horror, Dick heard his voice wobble a bit. "Some people really ought to be exempt from death, you know?"

"Yes," Supes agreed, his voice soft, and Dick knew he wasn't thinking of Bruce. "They should be. But they aren't, Dick. I doubt even I'll live forever. And to be perfectly honest, I don't want to. Not without Lois."

Dick heard the stark love and adoration in Supes' voice, and wondered if he'd ever feel that way about anyone himself. At the thought, an image floated through his mind. A serious face, a head of red hair, and a pair of glasses.

Barbara, he thought, and then shoved the image away impatiently.

Give that up, Grayson. It's not gonna happen.

"Well," he said, deliberately turning his thoughts away from a love affair that hadn't ended quite as he'd hoped, "you might not have to. You really don't know what's going to happen, Clark."

"True. No one does."

Dick thought of his redhead again, and hoped that Supes was right. Maybe things between him and Barbara would work out sooner or later. After all, things had a way of working out for the best, eventually. He knew from things he'd heard that Clark and Lois had known each other for years and years before they finally admitted they loved each other. Maybe he and Barbara would be the same way.

Could happen, he thought. You just never know.

The two of them stood in silence for a long while, while the cool night breeze whipped across their faces. At last Supes-- Clark-- turned his head and smiled.

"Thanks for stopping to talk with me, Dick. I appreciate it."

Dick instantly went back into stammering mode. "I, uh, well, you know, Lois..."

"I know Lois sent you out here," Clark said. "But you didn't have to really listen. Thanks."

Dick managed to get his tongue under control. Mostly. "Uh, you're welcome. Clark."

Clark grinned at him, and then he bent his knees a little and shot upward, his cape flowing behind him like wings in the night, a cool wind blowing wildly in his wake. Dick looked up, a bit wistfully, and watched as the red cape disappeared, heading for the apartment he shared with Lois.

He imagined Clark in the apartment on Sullivan Place, wearing the black-rimmed glasses he wore as a disguise, imagined him sitting on the sofa watching CNN with his arm around Lois, or playing cards with his daughter. For the first time, he realized he was able to think of the guy as a person rather than an icon.

As many times as he'd met the man, he'd never really managed to see him as anything other than a superhero. But for the first time, he thought of him as Clark Kent, not Superman. Just a man, with the same concerns as any other man. Only magnified, because he wasn't human, but superhuman. Clark Kent didn't want to outlive the people he loved, and he wanted to leave an impression on the world.

Just like Dick.

Dick stood staring at the stars for a long time, thinking about that. Coming to grips with the fact that he and Superman weren't really that different after all.

At last he shook himself, realizing he was still supposed to be on patrol. There were bad guys running around the streets, and he was standing here daydreaming. He headed for the edge of the roof and dropped down to the fire escape, flipping his way down to the street. He dropped lightly onto the sidewalk and faded into the shadows.

He was just an ordinary man, and despite the name he'd chosen for himself, his wings were metaphorical rather than literal, and he'd never be able to fly. He wasn't invulnerable, or superfast, or superstrong. He couldn't shoot fire out of his eyes, or freeze things with his breath.

But even though he was just a regular guy, he wanted to leave his own mark on the world. Maybe one day he'd marry Bar-- well, someone. Someday he'd marry, and have kids, and leave a mark that way.

But in the meantime, he had work to do. And maybe if he did it well, one day he'd be worthy of the term superhero, and he could leave his mark on the world that way, too.

He'd never be Superman. But that was okay.

He was Nightwing, and that was enough for him.

-The End-


Anne Crabtree said...

Thanks for writing this. It was really cool to see other superheros and watch them see Superman as we want to see him. Just an ordinary guy with superhuman abilities worrying about the same things that we all worry about.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Dick! I was so happy when I saw the picture, and the story was cool. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

This is a very good story. I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the two super heroes discussion and how you went to the topic of Clark not being able to "Grow Old" with anyone as far as we know.

Amazing story and keep on writting you are ver talented.

BkWurm1 said...

There is something terribly wonderful and grandiose in seeing Superman/Clark through Dick's eyes. Makes me oddly proud. Nicely poignant.

Anonymous said...

*squeals and pinches Dick's cheeks* Oh, Richard. Richard, Richard, Richard.

Anonymous said...

Original. I like very much.
I love the conversation between the two heroes.
I love the chlark's relationship through the eyes of someone else. It's always interesting.
Very good story!!

I find the new design for Christmas absolutely sweet and beautiful, great!!!!


blackheart_me said...

AWW ELLY THIS PIECE WAS BEAUTIFUL!!! I love the third character added in and the fact that it was in his POV. I loved the Chlois here and I was a bit surprised to know that Clark hadn't been home in two days, but I'm glad he got to talk to someone.
This was awesome :)

Inked said...

Chlark/Chlois with a touch of Dick/Babs? Thoughtful and excellent as always, thanks :)