Scowling, Bruce looked directly at Dick and hoped the cold look would resonate to the boy just how angry he was. The small group of boys had always had a propensity to ignore orders from their mentors, but this was a step in a whole other direction.
To his left Bruce could see Oliver and Barry giving similar looks to their proteges, crossed arms and brooding frown, but none of it seemed to register with the boys as they stood up straight and waited for someone to speak up first.
Bruce decided he was tired of waiting for them to offer him an explanation on their own and instead he demanded to know, “What were you thinking? You could have gotten seriously hurt.”
“We had to help,” Dick shot back. He didn’t want to come off as too emotional, but at the same time he needed Bruce to stop looking at him like he was a child. The bat already trusted him enough to keep him on board as Robin and that meant he should have some trust in his judgement.
“We did not expect the situation to escalate as much as it did,” Kaldur’ahm added in their defense. He was much more diplomatic, not wanting to force any unneeded strain between them, but at the same time he wanted the adults to understand their thinking. “At first it just looked like a simple fire and we felt that it was our duty to-”
“What are you hiding?” Clark cut off. He didn’t think they would be making a lot of progress just standing around and it wasn’t like they could do anything about the boys’ rashness this far into the mess. It wasn’t hard for him to see that the boys weren’t being fully forward and he wanted to save them from as much trouble as he could.
When the boys looked around among themselves instead of saying anything, Barry sighed before following Clark’s eyes and speeding behind the boys to see exactly what they were keeping from the adults. Most of the mentors wanted to get the teenagers home as soon as possible so they could begin working on their punishments.
The league members watched as Barry’s eyes widened and the boys tried to come between him and whatever he had found. Quick enough to intercept before the boys could move far enough, Clark flew in and decided to take matters in his own hands.
Despite the teenagers’ best efforts, the adults watched as Clark lifted a small boy into the air and held him out at a distance. The two ignored the protests from the group and simply stared at each other before taking notice of the similar symbols on their chests.
The boy turned his head and slowly voiced out, “Su-per-man?” Superboy had been taught everything there was to know about Superman from his time at Cadmus, but he never imagined that he would get to meet the hero anytime soon. When Wally had promised to introduce him to the hero he had thought it would take weeks for it to ever happen, but here he was only seconds after being freed from Cadmus
When Clark nodded, the boy perked up and announced, “I’m Superboy. They made me to be like you.”
Not knowing what to expect as Clark simply stared at the boy with wide eyes, Wally stepped up beside him and took Superboy in his own arms. Superboy looked back at the adult confused, but relented and turned his attention to his new friends and wondered what they were going to show him next.
Wally explained, “We found him down in the underground parts of the lab. He was in an incubator sleeping and we broke him out before any of the workers at the lab could catch up to us.” Turning his attention to Clark, he added, “He was made to replace you.”
Dick found the silence that followed the revelation a little too daunting and in hopes to break some of the tension he said, “Congratulations Supes. You’re a father.”
Bruce knew he should have never promised to take the boys to the Kent’s farm. The trip had been organized a few weeks in advance, Clark wanting to introduce the boys to his parents and show them how fireworks looked from Smallville instead of a city like Gotham, but a lot had happened in their active lives.
In this case, Clark became a father in the span of a month and a half.
Superboy was apparently a clone that had been created and raised in Cadmus with little to no contact with anything outside of the scientists hired to study him. He had been starved of contact and immediately grew attached to the boys who had saved him and spent most of his time with them around Mount Justice. At first the League hadn’t been able to find a proper place to keep him, Clark still confused about whether or not to take him in, and Young Justice decided to induct him in as an honorary member and came back the mountain as much as they could to keep him from getting lonely.
In turn, Bruce spent most of his free time studying the clone to gauge how much of a danger he was. For all they knew this could have just been a plan from Luthor. He wouldn’t put it past Luthor to use a child as a weapon, especially if it meant getting Clark to lower his guard even for a little while.
Most of the League had opened up to the kid, even giving him a name and inviting him along to their bonding events. That in particular didn’t bother Bruce, it was probably good for him to be watched over by as many heroes as possible, but he would prefer it if the boy didn’t grow so close to Tim.
After watching over the boy for a few weeks, Bruce was willing to admit Connor might not be an enemy, but he most definitely wasn’t safe for kids. At the very least he wasn’t safe enough for Bruce to consider ever leaving him alone with Tim. The others might think it endearing whenever the boy accidentally broke something or wasn’t able to control his powers, but Bruce saw it as a liability. He knew from first hand experience just how dangerous a Kryptonian could be and he wasn’t going to gamble his son’s safety with a still emotional superhuman unable to control his super strength.
Bruce didn’t act any differently towards the boy, he was sharp and curt with everyone outside of his family, but Bruce still prefered to keep him at an arm’s length.
Tim was of a different opinion. He had almost immediately made Connor his best friend and spent any moment he could following him around the mountain. Every night Tim would come home and inform Bruce about everything he had learned about Connor, his favorite shows, his favorite colors, his favorite foods, and his favorite heroes, before asking if they would be able to visit him the next day. For the past few days Bruce had been able to avoid any meetings with the two by explaining that he would be moving in with Clark and they would probably want to spend sometime alone, but now there no excuse. Clark had invited them to spend Independence Day in Smallville a few months ago and it was too late for Bruce to find an excuse for them to drop out.
Now Clark was giving the three a tour of the barn and introducing them to all of the animals the family kept on the farm. Connor had already been given the tour a few days ago, but he wanted to accompany Tim ‘just because.’
Bruce scowled at the barn from his seat on the back porch of the Kent household. Almost sensing the negative energy from Bruce, Dick stepped out from the barn and sat down in the empty chair beside him. For a while neither did anything about the silence, Bruce staring at the barn and Dick looking back between the two of them and laughing to himself as if he knew everything in the world.
“You look too upset to be on a vacation,” Dick finally remarked. Although Bruce’s natural state was brooding, he usually made an effort to look happy around the Kents.
“This isn’t a vacation.”
“Vacations are supposed to be relaxing.” Bruce knew he was using circular reasoning, but he also knew Dick wouldn’t notice it.
“Tim seems to think this is pretty relaxing, but to be fair he’s just happy to spend time around his best friend.”
Deciding to ignore the boy, Bruce continued to watch the barn from the distance and wait for indications that his son was okay. It felt like every second he couldn’t hear him laughing was a possibility something had gone wrong and Tim was hurt. The only thing that kept him from stepping into the barn and watching over the tour was the fact he knew Clark wouldn’t let anything happen.
When the boys finally came out and began chasing eachother around the field as Clark’s dog followed, Bruce let out a sigh of relief and ignored Dick’s raised eyebrow. With Clark coming up to the porch to sit beside them with his regular annoying boy scout smile, the three watched as the boys simply went about their time doing nothing on the back yard before it became dark outside and they were called in for dinner.
Around the dinner table Bruce watched the two snicker among themselves as the adults talked about other things. Bruce discussed the sports with Martha and Jonathan while Clark and Dick talked about the newest video games Clark had in his apartment. From the side of his eye Bruce watched as Connor took his spoon and began bending it for Tim’s amusement. Soon enough it escalated to other things and Connor reshaped his cup into broken shards of glass when he used a little too much of his super strength.
All too suddenly the cup exploded in his hand and glass and water showered the two. To his benefit, Connor seemed worried for Tim, but Bruce was faster in lifting Tim onto the table and making sure nothing pierced the skin. The others were quick to clean up the mess, Connor doing his best to make up for causing it, but Bruce took Tim for a bath just to be sure. The ten year old was frustrated at him for ruining the fun and was quick to run out back to the others as soon as he was clean and safe from the mess.
From their room Bruce could hear the boys laughing around the house as they waited for Clark to take them to the best vantage point for seeing the fireworks, but Bruce decided he’d rather stay back and keep John and Martha company. They were getting too old to go out this late and Bruce wasn’t too fond of fireworks anyway.
It was late in the night when the others finally made their way back home. The Kents had already gone to bed, but Bruce stayed up to wait for the boys and finish working on some reports. Seeing that the lights had been turned off, they made sure not to make too much noise as they snuck in and traded goodbyes. Bruce listened in from his room as they planned out who would be with whom and tried to act too relieved when Tim looked in the door to see if he was already in bed.
Not wanting to make too much noise, Tim slowly closed the door behind him and whispered, “Can I sleep with you?”
Clearing off the bed to make room, Bruce assured him, “Of course, sport. You know I always sleep better when you are there to give me some company.”
Smiling, Tim promised, “I’d tell you about everything we did, but I’m a little tired right now. I’ll tell you in the morning.”
As they got in bed, Bruce remarked, “I thought you might decide to spend the night with Connor.” He didn’t like the fact he was starting to feel jealous about a boy mentally a third of his age, but if there was one thing Bruce had a lot of it was pride.
Tim gave him a confused look back at the door in the direction Bruce imagined Connor was before turning back to him and asking, “You want me to sleep with Connor? I think he likes spending more time with Uncle Clark. They are starting to get to know each other very well.”
“No, I was just saying that you two are getting really close,” Bruce quickly cleared up. The last thing he wanted was Tim spending more time with the clone.
Crawling up on the bed, Tim found room and said, “Yeah he’s my best friend.” He thought Bruce would have figured out enough by now, he was usually that smart.
“You like spending time around him?” Bruce asked already knowing the answer.
Smiling a little to himself as he found a comfortable position, Tim answered, “He’s a lot of fun. He’s so strong, Dad. He can fly, hold his breath forever, and listen from very far away. Connor can do anything.”
Not wanting to say anything that Tim would take the wrong way, Bruce turned on the nightlight and switched off the lights before settling in beside the boy. If he had to admit it, the boy was nice enough, an almost carbon copy of what he imagined a childhood Clark would have been like, and he could see why Tim was so drawn to him.
Before he could say anything, Tim asked, “You want to know a secret, Dad?”
“Sure, what is it?” It had to be important for Tim’s cheeks to flush so brightly.
Unable to look Bruce in the eye, Tim began playing with the fringes of the pillow as he said, “I’m going to marry Connor someday. Uncle Clark says we’re not old enough to get married right now, but Dick says we can do it when we’re older. We’re going to get married and live together forever.”
From across the house Bruce was sure he could hear Clark chuckling underneath his breath, but he tried to keep his attention on Tim. Bruce almost felt sorry for Clark, he had only been a father for a month before he had to deal with relationship problems, but in the end this was all his fault. If he’d only listened one of the many times everyone tried to warn him about how dangerous Luthor could be they wouldn’t be in this mess.
“You didn’t say anything.”
“I’m sorry, Tim it’s just you caught me off guard.”
Tim considered the explanation before remembering, “Uncle Clark said that too. He also said that we’re very mature for our age and he can’t wait for our wedding.” Unsure, Tim peeked up at Bruce and asked, “Do you want to come too? It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“Of course I’ll come, Timothy. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Tim gave him a small smile before looking down at his pillow. The smile left his face for a moment as he added, “Connor said you would be upset. He said you don’t like him and you wouldn’t like us getting married later.”
Taking Tim into his arms, Bruce let them sit in silence for a while before assuring him, “I like Connor. He’s a good boy and you two get along well, but it’s a little dangerous with him being this young. He just doesn’t know how to control himself just yet and I just want to make sure he doesn’t accidentally hurt you.”
Tim could see Bruce’s argument, but he still warned, “You make Connor feel bad and he’s going to be my husband so you have to start being nice to him.”
“I promise, Tim. I’ll make sure to be nicer from now on.”
While he had Bruce in the position, Tim added, “You have to say sorry too. He feels bad and if you said sorry he’ll feel better.”
Turning on his back so they could get some sleep, Bruce promised, “I’ll do anything you want, Timmy.”