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World's Finest Writer's Corner Midnight Sun (BB) [J]

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by The_NewCatwoman, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. The_NewCatwoman

    The_NewCatwoman Oh you've got to be kidding me

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    **Disclaimer: The opening quote is taken, verbatim, from this article in the Guardian, an English newspaper. I had actually prepared this chapter a few weeks ago but felt quite underwhelmed by the--to me--frivolity of it all. I rewrote ninety-five percent of it and this is the--hopefully better--result. The business with Terry and Melanie on the floor was inspired by events in Mad Men's season two, episode ten, "The Inheritance." As for the second part, I've been toying with this idea regarding Kick for a long, long time and finally got it down. A bit of forewarning, there is some mild-grade incest. If it can be such. Rest assured he was, and continues(d) to be, unawares. It is not, in any way, graphic but if you're as squeamish as I usually am, I would skip everything after the first Hughes' stanza and just wait for the next update. That said, the excerpts are from Langston Hughes' poem "Cross," and I'm fairly certain his short story "Father and Son" had an effect too though this is noticeably less violent. So, references to adult situations lie therein.**

    ***
    "Twenty years ago he was extremely dangerous," Blier says, recalling the young Depardieu. ‘We literally had to follow him at night to stop him getting into punch-ups. He would deliberately go into the most dangerous areas, looking for trouble. Even now when he arrives at the door, I think, Chr*st, where are the valuables?’"

    ***


    The low thunk fell heavy in the bottom of the wastepaper basket, softened by last Easter’s sawdust.
    Melanie reached into the elaborate heart-shaped box at the end table in her sitting room and grasped a few more chocolates between delicate fingertips.

    Where once they’d nimbly snatched baubles and diamonds, they now lazily tossed candies, not exactly savoring the way dust kicked up in the corner.


    Terrence had sent her candy and flowers Valentine’s Day and every day that followed for a week.
    She’d ignored him, even when she went to the manor to see Ms. Selina about building up the land surrounding the farmhouse. She was considering purchasing the house outright and hosting the Bristol Hunt Club.

    Ms. Selina wasn’t exactly thrilled with what she considered “blood-thirsty pursuits,” but Melanie had ridden steadily since girlhood and was eager to introduce June to the sporting set as soon as possible.
    The small girl was already having her lessons but wasn’t yet old enough to compete in her mother’s eyes.

    Mr. Bruce was indulgent as always merely advising Melanie to submit the receipts to the downtown office; he would take care of the rest.
    Mrs. Wayne had, after all, been an avid horsewoman and while Bruce did not often ride in his day, he was more than capable as a field polo player at Columbia though he’d given it up when it interfered with his…studies. He’d even gone so far as to suggest Foxcroft over Westover once June reached the designated age to go away to school, but only if she showed…passion.

    Melanie finished out one box of candy and after tasting the choice pieces, she began to smash the centers out of each, squeezing them between her thumb and index fingers and shutting the box back.


    Kitty and June were on the rug before the hearth coloring, or at least in Kitty’s case, attempting to color.
    Melanie smiled, seeing that everything on the paper was an orange scribble of varying size. June was drawing a picture of the farmhouse.

    Melanie craned her neck outward and cocked her head, “Darling, why don’t you color the ground?”


    “Because snow is white Mama,” her daughter answered perfunctorily.


    “I see.”


    “What time is Daddy coming?”


    Melanie glanced at the clock on the wall, “Not for another three hours.
    That means you’ll be coloring for a little while longer, then you’ll have your nap and your bath and you’ll dress for dinner.”

    “Mama?
    What does daddy do in the city?”

    Melanie smirked though she did not mean it, “He works for Grandfather.”


    “At Grandfather’s building?”


    “Yes.”


    She lay down the purple crayon she’d been using to outline the cobblestones leading up to the front door, “I miss daddy.
    I wish he would stay here.”

    Melanie sighed, “I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up my heart.
    Daddy is quite…dedicated to his job. But he loves you. Don’t lose sight of that.”

    “Yes Mama.”


    Kitty gurgled and took up a green crayon and held it out to her mother, “Da!”


    Melanie got down to join them, “You want to draw daddy?”


    Kitty merely exclaimed once more, “Da!
    Da!”

    “Alright, let’s draw him.”


    “Won’t be necessary, he’s here in the flesh.”


    Melanie gave a start and turned, watching as June, squealing with delight, scrambled into her father’s arms there at the door and Kitty toddled toward him as fast as she could.
    He scooped them both up and hugged them.

    Melanie dropped the crayon and stood, “I didn’t expect you so soon.”


    Terrence, wary of their daughters’ presence, nodded, “I know you usually like to go out to the stables when I get in.
    I wanted to make sure I caught you. We…need to talk.”

    She watched him survey the room, taking in the wastepaper basket of discarded roses and candies.
    His jaw hitched and he turned his attention to the girls, bouncing them in his arms and kissing their necks, eliciting giggles.

    “I’ve brought presents from grandpa,” he forced a smile, “they’re in the nursery.”


    Melanie made a face, “Not the…”


    Terrence shook his head, “No.
    I took those back, I brought the Steiff, just one little one each.”

    June got down and took her sister in her arms, “Come on Kitty!”


    He watched them off, “Be careful Junie, walk slowly and let Kitty down.”


    Qui papa,” she called back and they were gone.

    Terrence slung his bag down and took up the top flap, “I’ve something for you too.”
    He pulled out a Steiff novelty Fozzie Bear, “I know you loved the Muppet Show as a kid, if only because you only saw it three or four times.”

    She sucked in her breath and took it gingerly in her hands, “I love it.”


    “Maybe it won’t end up in the trash then.”


    She hugged it for good measure, honestly liking it very much but not necessarily him.
    Not right now, “Where shall we talk?”

    He scratched behind his ear and she gave him a once-over.
    Hers and Mr. Bruce’s combined efforts to get him to dress “as a gentleman should” had mostly paid off. His hair was neatly shorn, there was no stubble at his chin and though he disliked neckties most of the time, he did find sweaters an acceptable alternative. While Mr. Bruce did require his executives to dress for the boardroom, his own son rarely stepped foot inside of one, happy to leave those duties to Andy and to a greater extent, the Yes Men. However, as a sort of birthday present to his father, Terrence had managed to lure Lucius Fox’s youngest grandson Anthony back from Foxtech. This too had the advantage of freeing up more daytime for his nightly duties.

    Terrence sat down on her sofa and rested his chin atop his fist, “Max wrote, she’s coming home from Asia finally.
    Maybe we can have dinner, introduce her to Tony.”

    Melanie shrugged, “
    He’s black, she’s black, so naturally…”

    “That’s not what I mean at all.
    They’re both crazy about the latest technological advancements. And he’s looking for new R and D technicians. Max, aside from her sojourn, would be a perfect candidate. And if they…hit it off, what harm could it do?”

    “She’s been out of the country for nearly eight years.
    I thought merely a year outside of engineering was enough to render someone obsolete.”

    “Outside of studying Buddhism she’s actually been integral to introducing modern water irrigation and utilitarian techniques to the outlying Asian public.
    Some of those villages she saw still used ground wells for goodness’ sake. She’s on her proverbial game.”

    “Then I take it the war has given her incentive to come home?”


    He nodded, “The monastery was bombed, she wrote they’d built a shelter in the vegetable garden but not everyone made it in.
    She said…there were arms and legs strewn about the cabbage. She wrote she’ll need to talk to someone when she gets back, take a load off.”

    Melanie made a face, “You’re so…how can you be so…calm?”


    “She’s alive.”


    Melanie didn’t press the issue, “I think I’ll have my bath while the girls are preoccupied.”


    He shifted in his seat, “Oh yea?”


    “What is it?
    Do you want to join me?”

    “I thought we were talking?”


    “All I hear is small talk…I’m a bit impatient so this waiting for the big talk bores me.”


    He frowned and followed her insistent form out and next door to her bedroom.
    He sat in the chair in her bathroom and didn’t leave when she summoned her maid. She looked perturbed, “What? Are you staying?”

    “Yes.”


    Melanie dismissed her girl in French and Terrence didn’t enjoy the wary look the girl gave him as she left.


    He got up and started the water for her and stood waiting, watching as she undressed.
    He ignored the faint arousal that reddened his neck and tried to concentrate, “When I was outside, I almost knocked. And I asked myself ‘are you really knocking on your own door McGinnis?’”

    Melanie didn’t respond, she busied herself with adding the bath soap and he let his eyes roam her curves.
    She was naturally of the French mind where exercise was concerned and preferred meaningful pursuits over “torturing” herself aboard a machine. Thus she was slim and still petite but no longer particularly toned. The contrasted form in his memory stuck out momentarily but he forgot it as she stepped into the footed tub and her breasts swayed with the effort.

    He sank onto the toilet lid and stared at the tiled floor,
    blinking bloodshot, exhausted. The worst possible administrative decision he could name was instituting that citywide blackout and curfew. In Gotham City that was like standing on a street corner with a sign announcing what time you’re liable to go to bed as well as your address, just in case any thieves might want to stop by.

    He flattened his hand against his forehead, cold and sweated out and not having really slept for what felt like the past two and a half years.
    But that hadn’t stopped him from boarding the commercial train and riding two hours out. He’d promised to spend the day with his girls and that was what he fully intended to do.

    Melanie watched him, noting the fatigue and feeling…tenderness for him.
    She sighed, already regretting the decision, “Take off your clothes and get in.”

    He looked at her, startled.


    “Yes,
    quickly, quickly.”

    He stood wearily, the gentle, happy façade he’d worn for their daughters having completely melted away.
    He looked skeptical, coolly aware of the lack of intimacy between them for the better part of the last year or more. They carried on amicably enough in front of their daughters, celebrating holidays and birthdays together. If and when he stayed at the house, they shared her bedroom but he slept on the floor.

    One previous weekend, however, he’d grasped her hand in the dark and coaxed her down into his arms.
    One or two merciless carpet burns and several hours later, he awoke to find the spot next to him empty and Melanie dressed for the day at the breakfast table. And true to form they did not talk about it.

    Now he shed his clothing and stepped into the hot water, wincing but enjoying the warmth nonetheless.
    Melanie scooted forward so that he could sit behind and after he was settled, she lay back into his arms. There was a fresh long scar encircling his elbow and she traced the red skin with her forefinger.

    They soaped and then reclined and he smelled lavender at the nape of her neck.
    He shut his eyes and let his head rest on her shoulder, “How long can this go on?”

    Melanie was massaging his right calve, “I suppose I ought to tell you, I’m not leaving you.”


    “No?
    You crossed the county line to get away from me.”

    “If I wanted to be away from you I would go to some dreadfully cliché little island.
    I’m sure Mr. Bruce knows plenty of places for me to get into trouble and lose myself in drink.”

    “That’s not funny.
    And don’t…don’t talk about him. Not when we’re…naked.”

    She laughed to herself, “Alright,” and started up his other leg.


    He watched her hands moving.
    Theirs was an unusually large bathtub and, as such, he could see everything she was doing if he simply leaned from one side to the other. In the dear, dim past he’d watched her bring herself satisfaction here and the thought now encouraged his manhood.

    He blushed and coughed, “So, that’s all you have to say.
    That you’re not leaving me?”

    “You are a very good man, in a general sense.
    You’ve not been whoring around without me. You’ve provided for me and our babies and you—in the words of my brother—tried to make me decent. And so, these last few months or so, I’ve had reason to wonder whether these faults lay with me instead.”

    He waited to see where she was going with this.
    That first part was certainly true, he’d waited patiently for her anger to lessen and in the meantime, as a precaution, he’d avoided any and all dinner invitations where Chelsea Cunningham might be expected to make an appearance. Not that there were no women in his periphery but certainly none who’d made such an overt overture. Chelsea had been ladylike but she had indeed anticipated climbing into his bed at some point and had even admitted as much to Melanie.

    He personally found this European frankness unnerving and chose to ignore it altogether.
    Melanie had been kind enough not to mention it since.

    She picked a piece of sock fuzz from beneath his toe and released it into the water, very much aware of what was going on in his nether regions but determined to say her piece, “You’ve got to understand something.
    I love you Terry. That isn’t going to change. But I…the Batman has never been of much use to me. To be honest, I rather wish you’d never told me.”

    “How can you say that?” his voice was small.


    Melanie sighed and leaned back fully once more, “I hate him.
    I have hated him for years. I thought I’d matured, that the feeling had lessened. I was able to understand that my father, and even my mother, were the ones who’d been wrong, not Batman. But when you revealed yourself to me…well, I may have been a thief but I’ll be damned if I was ever dishonest. Not to you.

    “To find out that…that you were the Batman all along, and that you knew and had the gall to sleep with me, to impregnate me, to not give a damn…now I’m just not sure whether the love I have for you will…survive.”


    He folded his hands together atop his head and felt his eyes stinging, felt the fatigue sinking back into his bones.
    He’d been a fool to imagine that she’d ever be for him what Selina had been for Bruce. After all, Selina’s family had destroyed itself; Terry had personally corralled Pieter Walker and tossed him into the paddy wagon, “I’m…I’m…you’re right Mel. I’m sorry. You don’t know what being Batman’s meant to me. It’s allowed me to help people, to try to redeem myself.”

    He took a deep breath, “I’ve had to learn a lot about class since I’ve…since I took the name Wayne.
    And I do still get the whispers, the haughty stares. I could give less than a damn now. And though I’ve resented it like hell, my old man’s done more for this city in and out of the cowl then I could ever hope to. I was a low punk. A gutless, sniveling wimp who could’ve sworn the world had it out for me. I was beneath contempt and I’ll have to live with the consequences my whole life.”

    Melanie’s voice softened, “I know.
    I do know Terry, that’s…the part I love. That’s the only thing that’s made putting this all together bearable. I know it wasn’t malice on your part, but we were dirt poor for a moment there. Now Jacky…”

    Terrence’s brow flattened, “I don’t like thinking about what your brother does, it bothers me.”


    Melanie took up her washcloth and began to rinse the soap off, shaking her head, “You don’t understand.
    In some ways Jacky’s, shall we say, of a feminine mind, and I don’t mean because he’s gay. I mean that, for women, sometimes you just have to do things to take care of yourself. In that respect he’s very practical and lucky. He’s with a man who adores him and he feels the same way. If he can live with it, so can I. And…what Queenie doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

    He waited a long beat before asking, “But…Isn’t the guy married?”

    “I don’t concern myself with what isn’t my business,” she said in such a way as to let him know the matter was closed.


    “I see.
    Well, then, when will you know? I mean, about whether or not you love me anymore?”

    She sighed, saddened, “I didn’t mean it that way; I don’t know what I mean to say.
    Only that I’ve got to get through it once more and it’s…difficult. But, if I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t be in your house and I wouldn’t have carried your children. And they are your children, not the Batman’s. If this is going to work then you can’t bring him home to me, he will not darken any of our doorsteps. You can do what you need to do but I don’t want to hear or see him.”

    “I…I don’t know what to say.”


    She shushed him, turning around to kiss the corner of his mouth, “Then don’t say anything.”


    ***

    My old man’s a white old man
    And my old mother’s black.
    If ever I cursed my white old man
    I take my curses back


    ***

    *1981*


    The old man paced and smoked and Kick thought of smoking too, feeling the outline of a baggy in his back pocket.
    Grandfather was agitated, debating silently to himself.

    Kick just wished he’d get the yelling or the berating or even the beating over with, whatever was the matter.
    He knew Mrs. Coleman, the housekeeper, had written some emotional little letter concerning his conduct with her daughter. He knew Phillip had received said letter Wednesday and had his old friend Teddy Eubanks drag the boy from his dormitory the previous night.

    He knew he was going to get the proverbial
    it, be it a tongue lashing or worse. He might have guessed as much.

    Her name was Delilah Coleman, a Spellman graduate, eleven years older than he and home to Chicago to visit her mother.


    She was interviewing for a position at Johnsons Publishing this coming Tuesday.
    She was smart and charming and beautiful and, maybe regrettably, a colored girl, thus any designs or long term plans wouldn’t be a consideration. She’d babysat him as a little boy and now he was tall and striking and had lost that stutter.

    He was home for the weekend, ostensibly to rotate his laundry.
    In reality he’d wanted to see how she turned out and wasn’t surprised. She was…positively graceful, a halo of hair about her head arranged in an afro, comfortable in mohair and silk, always skirted. He hated women in pantsuits.

    He wasn’t trying to be vulgar nor was he trying to lead her on.
    When he’d tried to kiss her in the den she’d laughed at him outright. This did not deter him in the least and she’d called him, not unaffectionate, little boy blue.

    Sunday night he’d gone to her room and locked the door.
    He was standing in his shorts and a tee shirt, raised like a flag. She seemed reluctant at first, then beckoned him close. They smoked a joint and she asked how old he was now.

    Nineteen.


    Just a kid.


    Maybe.


    There was no one in the house but her mother, asleep and unaware in the attic bedroom.
    He made her and she gave in. In the morning he caught his flight back to Connecticut, she took the train back into the city.

    Phillip stopped and leaned, casually for him, against his desk, “You don’t know what you’ve done boy.”


    Kick slouched into the couch cushions, “Okay.”


    “Sit up.”


    He sat up.
    Frowning, maybe curious, he saw his grandfather’s hands trembling. Grandfather wasn’t the easily…unsettled sort. What could he have done?

    Phillip brought a cigaretted hand to his brow, smoke trailing from his nostrils, reddened and coarse cheeked.
    He hadn’t eaten, bathed, dressed or shaved yet. It was seven in the morning, late for the old man, and the boy had barely slept himself.

    Phillip took a deep breath, “I don’t want you to see Delilah Coleman again.”


    “Oh,” the young man’s shoulders fell, amused, maybe disappointed, “You got me up to tell me how
    low Negroes are?”

    Phillip didn’t react, not sharply, not as Kick may have expected him to, “She’s…she’s too old for you.”


    “I didn’t have anything like
    carrying on in mind.”

    Now Phillip scowled, “Then perhaps,
    and this may not be a stretch, she’s too good for you.”

    Kick’s brow curled, “Come again?”


    Phillip’s thoughts were hidden completely behind that hand, “She’s a good girl.
    You don’t seduce the help, not in your mother’s house. That should be…common sense.”

    “Why?
    Too close to home?”

    Phillip stared at him, trying to figure whether that flippant, defiant attitude was a product of Anne’s family, the Van Ransts.
    But he knew better, he himself had been a dedicated thorn in Solomon’s side.

    He did not want to be too honest; his own…affairs…were just that.
    And true, Kirk couldn’t have known that Delilah was…is, Phillip corrected himself, his half-cousin. He could guess why the boy was taken with her; she’d inherited Cake’s beauty as well as her father’s intelligence. But she oughtn’t to trifle with young Kirk’s feelings, whatever they were; she was far too old for silly nonsense like this.

    Phillip had kept abreast of her activities, provided for her education, and supplied her with contacts once she’d decided to go the
    liberated woman route instead of marrying. He’d visited the Coleman household every year at Good Friday when she was a little girl, showering her with presents and dresses.

    He’d done the same for Jack as a boy, encouraging him to rise within the Negro social sphere.
    Jack had been every bit as capable as Philly or Kirky were but for that small racial handicap. Phillip had offered to put him through Yale, reminding him of Levi Jackson, but Cake had refused to let him go, worried he might be tempted to pass for white given his complexion and all the advantages that came with the Eastern establishment. She did not want her son to get any ideas about being more than he was, her history with Phillip notwithstanding. He thought she was ridiculous but was not in any position to argue. The boy went to Howard instead.

    When Jack had been killed…Phillip had hidden his grief well enough to attend to Judith, carrying on as he had been.
    He winced at the memory and put it away.

    But Delilah didn’t know who
    uncle Phillip was to her and he’d always intended to let it stay that way. Now, things were complicated.

    Phillip lit a fresh cigarette and sat down behind his desk, “Perhaps you ought to spend the summer here.
    You’re too…lacking in supervision. And you clearly don’t feel much compulsion to respect the bounds of your household.”

    “I’ve told you, I’m going to St. Louis to stay with Peter Farnsworth’s family till July.”


    Phillip didn’t seem to be listening, “This is my fault.
    I’ve let you get too out of hand. You don’t see Bruce running around, throwing himself at every girl as though he was a Bonobo chimp.”

    This time Kick scowled and muttered something under his breath that sounded quite near to an obscenity.


    “Speak up boy.”


    “I didn’t say anything.”


    “That’s what I thought…I anticipated your feeling shall we say
    reluctant to join me here, so I took the liberty of writing your father’s good friend Mr. Faraday.”

    Kick’s eyebrows perked, “King?”


    Phillip nodded, “You’ll have the weekend after the semester ends to yourself, then you’ll spend a week here before flying out to London to join Mr. Faraday.
    I’ve arranged for you to visit Cambridge for the summer, you’ll take a few courses and stay with Mr. Faraday and his wife. I’ve already informed Mr. and Mrs. Farnsworth. It goes without saying Kirk that I expect a good report. If I’ve any inkling you’ve looked at Mrs. Faraday one second too long, you’ll be on the first flight back here.”

    Kick’s voice was light, stunned…maybe delighted, “I…I would never do that to him.
    He’s…”

    Phillip waved his hand, “I know, I know.”


    Kick seemed to waver, unable to project his usual aura of imperturbability.


    “You may go.
    But I won’t say it again, don’t look at or speak to Delilah. Otherwise, I’ll have something for which you’re long overdue.”

    The young man stood, “Yes…sir.”


    ***

    My old man died in a fine big house.
    My ma died in a shack.
    I wonder where I’m gonna die,
    Being neither white nor black?
     
  2. klammed

    klammed the fool.

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    Interesting, does this mean Max will start featuring a bit more within this fic? Also wondering if Bruce's favoritism is going to come bite him any time soon. I do like that Matt is feeling what everyone else feels under Bruce's shadow. Will Bruce ever stop imposing his expectations on his children? Will any parent?
     
  3. The_NewCatwoman

    The_NewCatwoman Oh you've got to be kidding me

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    *crickets*

    So I might go on and on about how reading and writing for fun has turned into an unfortunate chore and how I spent months trying to wring words out of my fingers, not wanting to leave my story to catch dust.

    And lo and behold, I stumbled upon a short, beautiful post at blog theselvedgeyard (the link is not too appropriate for forwarding I'm afraid) tonight that set my mind turning. I didn't intend to write this little piece at all and it does not even begin to address any of the questions you asked klammed.

    But I had to start again somewhere. Ironically, I've been working on an update that featured Phillip and Kirk that may or may not ever see the light of day but by the time I finished this, I just found myself answering a question I didn't know I'd asked: Why did Bruce nurture his loss into the Mission and Kick merely spend his life licking his wounds? And what about Andy, who was raised by Bruce? And Matty, who wasn't? If you'd asked me two or three years ago how I thought those two would turn out so far, the more honorable of the duo would have been Matthew by far...

    Now that I'm thoroughly disgusted with the DCnU but still wholly dedicated to the general idea of the DC pantheon, I've no choice but to snatch time to continue to pursue this story. Whatever comes of it. So much of my understanding of Batman and Catwoman and Co. was inspired by the DCAU but matured with the mainstream books. Now they've left me and a lot of other lifelong fans behind. I'll not do that here if I can help it. Now enough babbling.

    Thanks for sticking around,

    tNC
     
  4. The_NewCatwoman

    The_NewCatwoman Oh you've got to be kidding me

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    **Disclaimer: Please do forgive the hiatus and now the formatting. I didn't have access to Word when I wrote this and rather than go through hoops just to swirl my quotation marks the way I like, I figured I'd exude a little bare-bones necessity and just post as is. In the closing, I thought about Kirk, Sr. consoling Brucie and there being no adequate (and I don't disparage King, he's merely out of his element) effort to help Kick by that point as no one was left who was up to the task. There will be more.**

    **May 1969**

    A tiny metal flick in darkness and he was shook, rolled to the floor, blurred, slurred and grasping instantly for the trigger and the switch. The bedsheets were tangled, taut round his frame. Heaving, breathing, the lamp knocked against the wall. But for the grace of God he hadn't managed to let one off.

    "Jesus," he let his arm down, wincing at his hand not quite ready to put the gun away, his breath too ragged with sleep, "Jesus Chr*st Kicky. What the hell times it?"

    The kid, it was just the kid, standing in damned footed pajamas.

    Kick gulped and looked as though he couldn't decide whether or not to cry.

    King disentangled himself and slipped the gun back into its holster, then he stood and held up both hands, "What's wrong Kick? Bad dreams?"

    He walked slowly, deliberately, ignoring the spread of wetness at the child's middle, "Heya kid, I uh...I...you can't just bust in on a man, not a man who's been in country." He ran a hand over the child's hair, "You scared me tiger."

    Kick swallowed a whimper, "Daddy's, it's..."

    King placed his palm on the boy's head and steered him out of the den, through the living room and upstairs. He didn't worry about waking Annette, she had a stone sleep after the barbiturates and the maids knew he was a regular guest for now. In the bathroom he stripped the kid and ran a bath, mostly talking to himself, "Yea, I dream bad dreams too."

    He moved to put the boy into the tub and saw his hands clenched together, "What'cha got there?"

    Kick unfolded his fingers, showing the Zippo he'd sneaked off King's nightstand, "Daddy's."

    King held it up between two fingers, glanced at the inscription of the woman undressing and read aloud, "Eat your heart out." On the other side were the wings and seal of Air America.

    He looked at the kid and slipped the lighter into his pocket, "This isn't your dad's. His uh...his went with him."

    Kick dropped wordlessly into the tub and King stood still, not quite sure what to do. He'd known Kirk had a son and since he'd been visiting the kid had taken to following him around the house, usually wordlessly. It'd been unnerving at first and more than once he'd had to catch himself. The damned kid wasn't Charlie but he could certainly give any of them a run for their money.

    Now was...too much, "I didn't mean to draw a bead on you kid. For what it's worth, not that you know one way or another but it's not loaded. I don't sleep in civilian houses with a loaded gun," he smirked humorlessly and winked at the boy, "That's our secret huh? If word got out that old King was light on the hip..." He stopped and started a cigarette, "I uh. I don't have any children, or not any that I know of. I don't know what kids like to talk about or uh...aren't you supposed to wash up or something?"

    Kick stared at him momentarily before picking up the yellow Dial bar and rolling it between his hands to create a big lather. Letting the soap fall into the water, he rubbed the lather into his hair and over his face and body.

    King began to pace back and forth, "I know you don't talk much, your father didn't seem too worried but your mother..." he yawned despite himself, "What the hell do you care right? Do you like that uh," he snapped his fingers twice, "Uh, hm. That uh, Howdy...Howdy Doody Show?"

    Kick was rubbing the bar of soap on the bottom of his foot but stopped momentarily to stare again.

    King smirked, "I guess that's a no right?"

    Kick frowned and pursed his lips, "Dead? Is he?"

    King gave a full grin, "Who? Howdy Doody?"

    Kick's frown deepened with concentration and he spit it out, "Fah-ther, my...f-fa-ther."

    King's jaw slacked for a moment and he caught himself, "Yes. I know you know that."

    Kick shook his head, "Mom-Mommy said. He was onna trip."

    "She lied."

    Kick shook his head again, his face reddening, "She said. On the phooone."

    King finished the cigarette and let the toilet lid up to drop it into the bowl, then put it back down, "You don't believe me."

    Kick shrugged and tried to wipe his eyes with wet hands, "I wa...I wa-nt him home."

    "I don't doubt it."

    He stood and watched the boy cry and didn't move to console him. He wasn't Kirk, nor did he feel any fatherly concerns about shielding the kid from the truth. That wouldn't do any good anyhow, "Are you ready to get out?"

    He got a couple of towels from the linen cabinet and let the boy step out onto the bathmat. Wrapping them around the little frame he thought about Annette and her recounting how that young cousin of Kirk's, Bruce, had seemed almost suicidal the previous year.

    He picked the boy up and carried him to his bedroom. "Your father and I, we were very good friends. Like Willie and Joe. He even saved my life once, all very saccharine. We came from a similar place in life, I'd merely come along a lot sooner. That's all. The only thing I could ever hold against him was that damned Bulldog pride. Yale my *ss. And he wanted to get to know you, but he won't be able to now so you've got to go on. That's all you can do."

    Kick sat on the bed and didn't move to dress or even dry off.

    King tsked, "I don't miss this nonsense at all. I'll never forget my father needing Roger to dress him for God's sake. And you, you need your nurse to tell you to put on new pajamas?" he became stern and pointed to the dresser, "Get up boy and put your clothes on."

    Kick jumped up and grabbed whatever was on top in the bottom drawer before darting back behind the bed.

    King started a new cigarette and rest his hand on the doorknob for a moment and thought of another etching on another lighter, "All right buddy, you're going to sleep. Go on, get in."

    The boy pulled a tee shirt on backwards and mismatched pants with no underwear before diving into the covers. King shook his head, bemused and tired, "And I hate to break it to you Kicky, but, 'there is no gravity. The world sucks.' I'll see you tomorrow."
     
  5. The_NewCatwoman

    The_NewCatwoman Oh you've got to be kidding me

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    **Disclaimer: I don't own anything Batman related. I've been gone for some time though this board never left my mind. Death is horrible & somehow, recent events led to this update. I can't say whether I'll continue (though I always hope to) but I needed to write this. Best wishes to all my old mates. This, naturally, takes place after Martha's miscarriage of Christopher. I tried to write this without referencing any of my past material, hope it's true to the story. And God rest a particular person's soul. Otherwise, no worries, all is as well as it can be.**

    **1962**

    It’d been a long time since he’d really been, well, bad. Or some semblance of it. The war made sinners out of everyone. Or so he guessed.

    He tipped the decanter and inwardly giggled as the bronze liquid fell over the desk. Alfred would see about cleaning it up tomorrow. He’d go to bed and his friend would make sure everything appeared as it should be when he awoke.

    He was home now. His remaining boy was upstairs unassuming and asleep.

    Martha was still in the hospital.

    He’d sat there on the stool in the pharmacy phone booth and listened to nothing at all for a long while after the line fell dead and he’d hung up and the pharmacist who talked maybe a bit too much had even come over and asked if he needed anything else.

    Now he was back in Gotham where he belonged. Where anonymity could be had for a moment or two. There was probably some party he could find if he felt liked it, but he didn’t.

    He was sitting in his family’s house, in the study but not studying anything in particular. Unless one counted the scotch label. He closed his eyes and let out a low, macabre laugh.

    How long had it been since those days in Italy? When the shelling let up and the town or what have you was won and he and Cleggs or Johnson would try to stake out a watering hole. The people were always generous with the wine and he had to admit, the ladies were sometimes generous with their affection.

    After he’d fallen quite in with Elizabeth, the Scottish nurse he’d met in Bristol, and again after she’d been killed… He blinked through the sodden, wavering feeling of drunkenness. She’d had a true lilt and the agitator in him had liked her, but he’d put all of that proud Scottish stuff away ages ago.

    His father, the Judge, Solomon, had always stressed that they were Americans first. They could be romantic as all hell if they liked, but they mustn’t let themselves be caught up in a furor. After all. Scotland wasn’t going anywhere.

    He laughed mirthlessly despite himself. He missed his father.

    On nights, rare as they were, like this, he felt like calling his brother up. But Phil was probably already quite loaded.

    Loaded.

    There was a term he hadn’t used in some time. Being married had civilized him so much. Not because his wife was so delicate or anything, Martha was wonderful and brassy in her own way. But she never swore, never drank, and always seemed to worship him.

    She was quiet about it, but…

    He blinked again. Sitting there, ostensibly responsible for the well-being of that remaining child upstairs, he felt foolish.

    He’d fell her for her hard after Elizabeth. And even after the sting of that death, and the joy of coming home, he was always surprised that the feeling had lasted.

    He’d tried to confess to Martha the morning of their wedding. When they’d shunned convention and had a good long talk before the ceremony.

    He’d tried to explain that his brother’s marriage seemed so very ridiculous. After all, yes Phillip and Judith loved one another, quite madly at times, but they were both so uniquely unsuited to convention as to render the whole thing useless. Too bad they’d had to go and bring children into it. But Martha had beat him to it and he felt…foolish, bringing it up. Why bring on any bad luck they didn’t need?

    Now he paused and cleared his throat. Philly. They were best pals always and his friend had died a noble death. But in his darkest thoughts, during the low points in the war, lying in muck and filth and trying not to get picked off by a sniper, he’d cursed the whole set up.

    He’d even cursed God a few times though he quickly stole it back with a mumbled prayer.

    It seemed sometimes that God had forgotten them all sometimes, like someone who muddled and wandered along and suddenly remembered, Oh Yes, You!

    He coughed deliberately and apologized in his head. He didn’t mean to offend the Lord but, well…

    Godd*mn noble deaths.

    This baby, this almost son of theirs, had died without much fanfare. There was no announcement to the press as there had been with Brucie. Nothing but mutely received condolences, in person or by letter. A fruit basket of all things from the Womens’ Coalition of Bristol for some reason.

    Martha was safe and sound and whole at the hospital. He could thank God for that, though everything seemed to hang endlessly in the balance.

    She hadn’t let the doctor take out her womb. He reminded himself that it’s a uterus, but womb felt so much more…real.

    He sat forward in his chair and let his brow be furrowed. He was the one that took sorrow and loss and carried on. Tomorrow morning, Martha would be fragile and discouraged when they released her and she’d need him to hold her and reassure her.

    But tonight.

    God d*mn tonight.

    He poured another shot and downed it eagerly. He wasn’t trying to race his brother to drunkenness. God knew somewhere in Roslyn his brother was most assuredly already there.

    But how could he blame him? Thomas had only lost a friend and comrade in Philly. His brother had lost a flesh and blood and everything else son.

    He looked up at the ceiling. Thought of that little boy six doorways to the right. Right now, their baby was in the nursery, sound asleep and completely unawares.

    He spoke to no one just to hear it said, “I love you Bruce.”
     

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