Chapter 1: Georgian Nights
Sun beat down on Bruce's neck as he slipped off his sunglasses, staring up at the dilapidated manor house that looked as if one good gust of wind would knock it aside. Men and women surrounded the house, each doing their level best to keep such an event from happening, the sound of drills and hammers competing with the summer insects that were starting to awaken for their nightly chorus.
"Welcome...ya don't look like yer from around here," A middle-aged man called, leaning against the top rung of a scaffolding, looking down at Bruce, chewing around a toothpick, eyes roaming over Bruce's form.
"I'm down from Gotham City...looking for someone," Bruce called with an easy smile, sticking his hands into his pockets as she studied the man. Alarm bells rang in the back of Bruce's head, something in the man's eyes telling him that this man wasn't someone to be messed with. Bruce's eyes drifted to the other man on the scaffold, unconsciously licking his lips as he took in the lithe form dotted with steaks of white paint.
Thin, almost dangerously so considering Bruce could count every rib in the man's chest, outline with the hardened muscles that only came from hard work over time in a gym. Long, paint splattered torso vanishing into pants that were close to falling off slender hips (and awfully close to falling apart, resembling something closer to denim rags stitched together rather then actual jeans).
"Excuse me?" Bruce asked, jerking his eyes back to the older man, realizing that he had kept speaking while Bruce had been...distracted.
A crooked smile curled over the man's lips. "I asked who yer lookin' for, we know everyone in this town...and most of those that aren't."
"Crane, Dr. Jonathan Crane," Bruce said and had the feeling that he had said the wrong thing as the sounds of work faded out around them.
The older man continued to stare at Bruce, chewing on the end of his of his toothpick until it looked as if it splintered in the man's mouth, poking him. "Yeah, doc's in the house," He said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder in reference to the large house behind him before spitting out the toothpick he had broken, placing a fresh one between his lips, beginning the chewing process over again.
"Thanks," Bruce said, casting a look around at those staring at him before circling around the house towards the only door that wasn't blocked off.
Tom watched Bruce leave before turning to the man next to him on the scaffold. "How ya wanna play this, Johnny?"
Jonathan sighed, setting down the dilapidated paintbrush he had been holding, glancing at his oldest friend. "Might as well go see what Bruce Wayne wants with a country doctor...take Jeremiah, no need to add to the hassles,"
Tom nodded, heading for the ladder to go collect the teenager while Jonathan slipped into the house via the large picture window next to him, wincing as he got fresh paint on his bed, before heading downstairs to find the errant playboy who was probably roaming about his house.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Wayne?" Jonathan asked, leaning against the doorjamb, a smirk curling over his lips as the billionaire jumped, almost spilling the lemon-aide Susan had forced upon the young man before returning to her duties as day cook for Jonathan.
"Just checking up on a fellow Gothamite...rather strange to find you of all people out here in the Georgian countryside."
"Not really, the Crane family helped found this town," Jonathan pulled the t-shirt that had been shoved through a belt-loop free, moping his face before accepting a glass of Sweet Tea from Susan, draining most of it in a long drink, eying Bruce of the rim, raising an eyebrow as the older man's eyes latched onto his working throat.
"Yes, however last I heard you had been arrested," Bruce said easily, leaning back slightly in his chair.
"Three years ago, and I was found not guilty," He kicked out, forcing Bruce's chair back to all four legs.
"For murder?" Bruce asked, sipping the lemon-aide, looking confused.
"Attempted murder and yes. Diminished capacity and all that...but then, you would know that, wouldn't you?"
"Dr. Crane is not in right now.." Bruce recited and the pair stared at each other, silence stretching out between them before Jonathan took a seat, sighing.
"What, exactly do you want, Mr. Wayne?"
"Do I specifically need something?" Bruce asked, raising an eyebrow, noting the tension gathering in Jonathan's shoulders and arms before the younger man forcibly relaxed.
"You always need something," Jonathan hissed, fury racing through his eyes before his head jerked up at the sound of a slamming screen door. "Marjorie?" He asked the brunette teen who had just stumbled into the room, standing.
"Tractor...Marcus...blood..." The girl panted and Jonathan was a blur of motion, all but vaulting the table as he ran into the kitchen, re-appearing a moment later clutching a battered black leather bag and a pair of shoes.
Bruce stood, confused, joining Susan near the teenager only to be latched onto by Jonathan as the man pushed past them, the doctor dragging him out the door.
"Do you have a car?" Jonathan asked, shoving his feet into the overly abused trainers, giving a weird hop to his steps as he tried to run down the porch stairs at the same time.
"Car?" Bruce asked rather blankly, mind struggling to switch from threatening Jonathan to remember where he parked his car...if he had one, at that moment, he couldn't remember.
"Car, vehicle, transportation...I only have the truck and since it runs only on days that end in 'e', it would be advisable to use another vehicle before Marcus bleeds to death,"
"Barn," Bruce said stupidly, finally remembering where he parked the rented SUV, gesturing before yelping as he was dragged off balance by Jonathan.
The pair climbed into the SUV, Jonathan not bothering with a seat belt as he twisted around, searching the back seats of the SUV, finally coming up with a rope and cotton blanket that he started to shred. "Just head towards the fields, there's a lane in the center that we need," he ordered.
Bruce followed the directions, gripping the steering wheel tightly as the SUV bounced over ruts and wheat, eyebrow twitching with each rip of the far too expensive blanket. "What, exactly, are you doing?"
"Ran out of bandages, turn left, and anytime the word 'bloody' is muttered, that generally implies one needs those,"
"I could have you arrested for practicing medicine without a license," Bruce growled, a bit of his alter-ego slipping into the words.
Jonathan rolled his eyes, reaching over and jerking the wheel onto the tracks in the potato field so that the SUV didn't ruin the plants anymore then it already had. "I have a license, idiot," In the distance the pair could see a group gathered around a large harvester, staring at something just out of sight. The SUV slid to a stop a few paces away and Jonathan was out of the vehicle before it stopped rolling, already running.
"In what world? It was revoked when you were arrested for illegal experimentation on humans!" Bruce yelled after him, slightly tangled in the seat belt.
Jonathan didn't answer, kneeling next to the young man whose leg was mangled in the harvester's blades, bone and muscle showing along with a great quantity of blood. "Who tied it off?" Jonathan snapped, fingering the tourniquet wrapped around the injured leg's knee before dismissing it, already examining the wound itself, snapping latex gloves on that he pulled from the bag next to him.
"I did, Doctor Crane, we couldn't stop the...er...bleeding?" answered an older woman who looked rather green as she glanced at the wound before hurriedly turning away, vomiting.
"Thank you, Michelle," Jonathan muttered, glancing up at Bruce as the billionaire knelt in the dirt and blood next to Crane. "Can you help?" he asked softly, turning his attention back towards the injured man who was gasping in a manner somewhere between panicked and calm acceptance.
"Just ask," Bruce said, focusing purely on the task at hand, accepting the gloves Jonathan held out, pulling them on.
"I need you to re-tourniquet his leg, not much higher then the current one. Do not release the other until yours is secure."
Bruce nodded and pulled the rather happy smiley face tourniquet from the medical bag affixing it around the knee and tightening it to the point of killing what was left of the limb, before cutting off the bloody cloth that had been halting blood flow originally.
As Bruce worked, Jonathan pulled a pair of surgical scissors and a scalpel from the bag, laying both on a sterile pad he had placed over Bruce's thigh, using the scalpel to cut way muscle and flesh, revealing the extent of the damage. "I'm sorry, Marcus..." he whispered.
"How bad is it, doc?" Marcus gasped, voice calm, ready for whatever was to come.
"Your going to loose the leg," Jonathan whispered, usually cold blue eyes reaching up, a liquid warmth flooding them as he looked at the man's pained face.
Marcus nodded, swallowing thickly. "Just don't let me die, doc...can't leave Sarah just yet,"
Jonathan nodded, clearing away more flesh and tissue, trying to dismiss the images of delivering Marcus' baby daughter not three months before. "We'll get you home, promise," Jonathan muttered softly, bloody hands searching blindly for the bone saw, only to have it handed to him by Bruce who turned away quickly, taking Marcus' hand in his as he slid a tongue guard in the man's mouth, just in-case Jonathan hit a live nerve before getting Marcus to breath from an ether canister.
Jonathan's world narrowed down to the mangled leg in-front of him, carefully cutting Marcus free of the trapped bone, each movement of the saw sounding louder then a jet's engine in his ear as he started stripping the farmer of pieces of his livelihood.
Halfway through the amputation the paramedics appeared, taking over the monitoring of Marcus' respiration, heart rate and blood pressure, thus freeing Bruce up to simply sit next to the man, still holding Marcus' hand as he watched Jonathan worked.
There was a final snap of bone and Jonathan sat back on his legs, ignoring the screaming pain from his thighs as he, along with the paramedics, got a carry sling under Marcus, cutting away the last bits of skin, muscle and cloth keeping the farmer attached to the harvester before standing, stumbling as blood flow returned to his lower limbs, almost dropping his side of the sling.
Bruce pulled Jonathan away, reaching around the smaller man to grab the handle of the sling, nodding to the paramedics as they carried the un-concious farmer towards the ambulance. Jonathan collapsed back onto the blood soaked earth, cursing as he tried to get feeling back into his legs, pulling the surgical scissors out from under him and frowning at the cut on his calf.
Bruce returned as the ambulance went screaming off into the coming night, reaching out to help Jonathan stand, accepting the trash bag of used medical tools and equipment that Marjorie had gathered for the doctor.
"And I have a license in Georgia," Jonathan said, closing up his medical kit, standing with a popping sound from his back as he bent it out.
"Do I want to know how you acquired it?" Bruce muttered, some of the fire gone from his voice as he looked off to where Marcus had been taken, not really sure if he wanted to continue the conversation after what had happened. If Jonathan hadn't been there...if the make shift tourniquet hadn't held for so long...
"Legally, Mr. Wayne. Not all licensing boards see the same events as failures." Jonathan sighed, rubbing a hand across his sweat soaked, sunburned forehead. "Let's just go back,"
Bruce nodded and tossed the bloody bag in the back of the SUV, before climbing into the driver's side, a million thoughts and emotions clouding his thoughts.
The yell startled Jonathan and he dropped he medical bag on his foot, spinning from a sniping comment at Bruce's driving only to find his arms full of teenage boy. Jonathan bit back a curse, wrapping his arms around the younger man, praying to a god he didn't believe in that Bruce had stayed on the porch long enough not to hear what Jeremiah had said, but the voice next to him killed that prayer.
"Papa?" Bruce questioned, eying the teenager, who turned his light blue eyes up towards Bruce, smiling.
Recognition punched Bruce in the stomach, mind flashing back almost four years to a rain soaked fire escape where those same blue eyes looked up at him from under wet bangs as his parents raged in the apartment behind him.
"Dr. Crane, why do you have a boy from the Narrows in your house? One who has been missing for two years."
Chapter 2: Of Friendships, Relationships and Other Worthless Things
Chapter Two: Of friendships, Relationships and Other Worthless Things
Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important. ~Carl Reiner
Jonathan took a deep breath, slowly releasing Jeremiah. "Why don't you go grab Teddy and see what Susan is cooking for dinner, alright?" he asked the boy gently, giving Jeremiah a smile that was a touch strained, trying not to let on how dangerous a situation they could be in.
"Alright, papa!" Jeremiah agreed easily, dashing upstairs to grab the overly large teddy bear before dragging it downstairs and into the kitchen where Susan was waiting, fingering a large butcher's knife in case Jonathan needed her help.
Jonathan watched him go before turning, taking a large step backwards, putting space between himself and Bruce, resiting on the balls of his feet. "He is my son," Jonathan said simply, watching Bruce's eyes, waiting for a clue as to where he might have to dive to avoid any grabbing.
"You have no children," Bruce said firmly, taking a step towards Jonathan, a smirk curling over his lips as the younger man stepped away and to the side. "You've never been married, never had a long-term relationship, not to mention gayer then a fruit bat."
Jonathan raised an eyebrow at Bruce's choice of wording, not bothering to deny what the other man thought of his sexuality. It wasn't a secret, he just didn't bother with caring who knew or what they thought. "Except for the fact I have had one long term female relationship, you are correct. And no, Jeremiah is not my biological son, but he's still mine."
Bruce frowned, more at his information being inaccurate then Jonathan's words, before his brain caught on to the last half of the statement. "No, he is not. Tucker Mathews went missing two years after the event in the Narrows, kidnapped."
"Event...cute word," Jonathan crossed the front hall towards the dining room, kneeling next to a small side table, rooting around in a locked drawer until he came up with a green folder, all but throwing it at Bruce, watching as the papers rained down around the billionaire. "Jeremiah Crane was adopted two years ago out of the New York State child services to myself, with the support of Susan and Tom Williams. He is, by all legal and personal means, my son."
"His grandmother reported him missing," Bruce said, gathering the papers, studying them.
"She would, woman didn't give a damn about him until she discovered a rich doctor was looking after him," Jonathan muttered, an obviously bitter story behind his words. "Look, not that it's your concern considering, but I don't relish what happened, Mr. Wayne. The...event...was not my intention nor desire. I can't take back what happened, nor can I fix everyone that was effected, but I can help one child, that child. I can take him away from the pain and abuse he suffered at his family's hands, I can give him a home, stability, I can do my best to repair the damage my drug had on his mind...and most of all, I can give him my love. Is there a crime in that?"
"I will be checking into this, Crane," Bruce said, waving the papers.
"I count on it,"
The pair stared at each other over the dining table, a deep gulf of things and words between them. Jonathan licked his lips, wondering if Bruce was still going to attack him, vault over the table and forcibly drag Jonathan and Jeremiah back to Gotham to settle this there...or even just settle it by beating the ever loving shit out of the good doctor.
"So, you'll be stayin' for supper then?" Susan asked from the kitchen, carelessly holding the butcher knife, a touch of warning in her eyes as she looked at Bruce. She vanished into the kitchen before Bruce could answer and Jonathan snorted, causing Bruce to look at him in question.
"It wasn't a question," he advised, heading towards the stairs. "There's a shower downstairs, I would advise you to use it before she remembers we're covered in blood."
Bruce followed Susan's directions down into the basement of the house, weaving his way through cloth covered items, pausing at some of the more unusual shapes before curiosity got the better of him, wondering just what Crane was hiding.
The first cloth fell away to reveal what appeared to be a stack of boxes marked 'syringes', and with a flick of the wrist, the tape parted, the dim light exposing just what was marked on the box, neatly packaged, sterile wrapped syringes, needles and boxes of blood collection vials. Another cloth and an out of date EKG machine was uncovered.
There were more cloths, more boxes and even, stashed in a corner, a handful of hospital beds that had obviously seen better days. It seemed that Jonathan Crane was gathering supplies, enough for a make-shift clinic. Though, judging by the dust and the age of the equipment, he had been gathering it for a while...and most of it second hand.
Bruce shook his head, making a note of the equipment and manufacture's to check out later, before heading into the small shower stall, eager to get the blood off of him.
"Are you supposed to mix alcohol with your medication?" Bruce asked, looking up at Jonathan as the other man replaced the cap on the pill bottle, tossing the small handful of pills into his mouth to be followed by a swallow of beer.
"Nope," Jonathan said with a popping sound, taking another long swallow, trying to dislodge the pill that had gotten stuck in his throat. The pair looked at each other, sharing the smile of those that often did what was ill-advised. "Look, Mr. Wayne..."
Jonathan bit his tongue, before looking up at the stars. "Look, Bruce,"
Jonathan was interrupted again by the screen door opening behind them. "You staying 'round here, Mr. Wayne?" Susan asked, coming onto the porch and leaning against the rail, sipping from a small glass of whiskey.
"I'm renting out a farmhouse up the road for the summer, a vacation." he added, before she could ask.
Susan studied him for a moment, much in the manner her husband had when Bruce first appeared. "It's late," she said after a moment, taking another sip of her whiskey. "You'll be offering him a room, Jonathan."
"Yes, mother," Jonathan muttered sarcastically, ducking under the swipe Susan took at his head, leaning next to her against the porch railing.
"No, it's alright really..."
Jonathan shook his head. "Don't argue with her, safer for all in the long run." He sipped his beer, rubbing he back of his neck, wincing at the sunburn. "We have the room anyway, at least for a night." The tone in Jonathan's voice indicated that Bruce had best be gone by the morning.
"Breakfast is at five, don't be late." Susan said, finishing off her glass of whiskey before setting it on the railing, kissing Jonathan's temple. "I'm going to head home, Johnny, be safe."
"Night," Jonathan asked, giving her hand a squeeze before watching Susan head down the stairs to the battered blue truck parked on his front lawn.
"She doesn't live here?" Bruce asked, stretching his legs out in front of him.
"Na, her and Tom live up the road a bit, keep a small farm that's been trying to die on them for a few years now."
Bruce nodded, a small smile curling his lips. He wondered if Jonathan noticed his speech habits and accent mutated the later it got...or maybe it was the drunker they got, this wasn't their first beer after all.
"I'm going to check on Jeremiah, you can find a room upstairs at the end of the hall for you to use...mind the paint."
It was three am when Bruce stumbled downstairs, trying to work the kink out of his back from laying in a too small bed, stumbling into the kitchen for a drink of water. A light flared on the back porch and Bruce set down his empty glass, silently creeping through the back door to check it out, finding Jonathan sprawled on a porch swing, cigarette lazily dangling from his fingers as the doctor tried to get comfortable.
"You're going to be eaten alive," Bruce said casually, forgoing the water and stealing the large glass of tea Jonathan had left next to him, taking a sip.
"Yes, but as there is a billionaire hogging my bed and Jeremiah doesn't share well, I have no other place to sleep,"
Bruce paused mid swallow, almost choking as his throat stumbled. "Why am I in your bed?"
Jonathan tilted his head back, blinking at Bruce through the haze of smoke and not having his contacts in. "We only have two beds right now," he answered after a moment, before remembering his lit cigarette and taking a long drag.
"That's going to kill you," Bruce said, taking another drink of tea.
"So will life," Jonathan answered, going to take another puff before finding it missing. "Hey!" He rolled to his feet in order to chase after the red glow of the cigarette as Bruce threw it aside, grabbing it and dusting the dirt off the filter, taking the drag.
"I don't like smoke,"
"I don't like you, we're even." Jonathan muttered, spitting out a piece of grass that had gotten stuck to the end. He was silent for a long moment, before sighing, throwing the half spent cigarette in the dirt, watching it burn itself out. "I don't need this crap in my life, Bruce."
"You. And whatever you came to Georgia for. The man your looking for, he died several years ago. I'm just trying to get by, take care of my son, and possibly make one damn good thing out of my life. So there's the answer to whatever you were looking for. You can go home, relax and feel good about your self, because you kept Gotham safe from the Scarecrow. You can get the fuck out of my life."
Bruce turned his own attention to the stars, biting back a snort at Jonathan's words, knowing that the other man had to understand there was no way in hell that was happening.
Jonathan pushed up the sleeves of his long shirt before reaching out, grabbing the glass of tea Bruce had stolen and heading for the back door. "I don't need an enemy, Mr. Wayne, I've had more then my fill of them."
"And just what do you need, Doctor Crane?" Bruce asked, turning to watch the other man head inside.
"A friend." Came the answer, followed by the slamming of the screen door.
Chapter 3: Love Song From a Different Point of View
Graphic Depiction of Animal Testing
Chapter Three: Love Song From a Different Point of View
"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you."
- Elbert Hubard
Jonathan groaned deeply as he was shoved roughly against the wall, his head bouncing off the hard wood before being forced back against it as warm, wet lips slid over his, the taste of strawberries and menthol tingling against his tongue. He opened his mouth in a gasp, legs spreading for the thigh pressing between them as he sucked on the tongue invading him.
The talented mouth pulled away from his, Bruce's breath spilling over his face as the taller man shifted, drawing a moan from Jonathan as he was raised against the wall, feet leaving the floor, Bruce's mouth latching onto a spot midway down his neck. As the billionaire sucked at Jonathan's flesh, the doctor lifted a leg, wrapping it around Bruce's hip, the other snaking around Bruce's leg, grinding down against the hard thigh, gasping as Bruce bit him harshly, almost tearing into Jonathan's skin.
Bruce raised his head, staring down at Jonathan who was panting heavily, a smirk curling over his lips as Bruce reach up, pulling Jonathan's glasses off of his face, tossing them vaguely towards the clothes hamper so they wouldn't break, before leaning in, drawing the tip of his tongue up Jonathan's neck to his ear, drawing the other man's earlobe between his teeth before biting down, sending a shock of pain and pleasure straight down Jonathan's spine.
"I'm going to fuck you," Bruce whispered, grinding up against Jonathan.
"Ow, fuck." Jonathan held his nose, rolling onto his back to blink up at the foggy water stained ceiling above him, groaning. He had rolled over in his sleep, and slammed into the wall, waking him from the rather...interesting dream his brain had decided to indulge in before the rude awakening.
Arms flopping to the sides, Jonathan grunted. "Good morning hormones, you can go back to sleep now." he muttered before dragging the blanket over his head as he rolled to lay face down, feet searching for the pillow at the other end of the bed before vaguely kicking it towards his head, curling close against it. "Don't get laid for a couple years and suddenly your body lures you into a dark alley and mug you," He sighed, inhaling the scent of his own sweat from the pillow, debating over wither or not he really wanted to get up and face reality before reaching under the bed and fishing out his alarm clock, staring at the numbers with another groan.
He pushed himself to a sitting position and ran a hand through his hair, snatching his glasses off the bedside table just as muffled screams started to be audible through the baby monitor next to his lamp. Standing and kicking aside his pants and t-shirt that had somehow tangled around his feet in less then a moment, he made his way to Jeremiah's room, intent to sooth the boy from the nightly terrors that plagued his son's sleep.
"Get any sleep, Mr. Wayne?" Susan asked as she stood on the front porch, the sun rising behind her.
Bruce grunted and tried to roll over on the porch swing (Jonathan had stolen back his bed when he returned into the house after their discussion, leaving Bruce the swing), only to fall on it, hitting his nose and cheeks on the glass of mostly finished tea.
"Breakfast will be ready soon, I hope you like pork," She held up a piece of freshly cut meat that could have been anything from a side cut of bacon to the pig's entire ham cuts for all Bruce could identify it.
Bruce stood, watching as the twelve-year-old raced out he front door and down the stairs, shaking his head at the eagerness at such and early hour before heading inside himself, scratching absently at the mosquito bites he had earned.
Breakfast had been over for an hour when the screen door slammed again, causing Jonathan and Bruce to look up from their 'friendly' game of 'Who can glare longer over the last bit of coffee cake'. Tom walked in, carrying two plucked turkeys, waving them at Jonathan in greeting. "I seem to have found a lost chicken on the road," he said, jerking a thumb behind him before heading into the kitchen to greet his wife and present her with the turkey.
A few steps behind him appeared a young, black haired youth who was plucking turkey feathers from his hair and clothing, giving off the air of being highly disgruntled for having to ride in the back of a truck next to the poultry.
"Dick? I told you to stay home," Bruce said, rising from his chair to help his ward remove feathers.
"You also said you'd be home by sunset," Dick muttered, standing still while Bruce removed a stubborn feather that lodged itself in a nasty tangle of hair. "I was...worried."
"I was fine,"
"Yes, you've said that before," Dick said, a hint of long suffering around his tone. "Alfred and I tend to worry when you do." Once free of feathers, Dick looked around curiously before spotting Jonathan (whom had snatched the piece of coffee cake when Bruce took his attention away, and currently resembled a squirrel with too many nuts). "I can see why you stayed the night."
Bruce resisted the urge to cuff his ward about the head, nodding towards Jonathan and Jeremiah who had just crept in carrying a tray of lemon-aide and cookies. "Dick, meet Doctor Jonathan Crane and his son, Jeremiah. Crane, meet my ward, Richard Greyson,"
"A pleasure, Sir," Richard said, offering a hand to Jonathan whom shook it warmly.
"Ward?" Jonathan asked, snatching the plate of cookies before Jeremiah deemed them all his, setting them on the table behind him and handing his son two.
"It's just until we can find his family," Bruce muttered, watching as Dick took a seat next to Jeremiah, the boys sharing the two cookies Jonathan had given his son. It wasn't until the boys were side by side, heads bent in quiet conversation that something about Jeremiah struck Bruce as...off. Jeremiah should have been twelve or thirteen by then, a far cry from the younger age he both resembled and acted.
Dick was not only taller then Jeremiah (a feat Bruce almost called a miracle considering Dick was small for his age), but had mannerisms and speech that indicated being years older, rather then a year younger.
Jonathan was also watching the boys, a small,albeit sad smile on his face as he noticed Bruce's expression. He stood, sipping his coffee as he moved closer to Bruce. "It's the toxin," he said in a gentle undertone, not wanting the boys to hear. "It had a larger then intended effect on his developing brain and body."
"Nine, on a good day, five on his worst, though there have been other signs of even younger regression. He's far below his age group in speech, height, weight, rational thought and action...his impulse control is often shot to hell," Jonathan took a sip of the coffee, watching his son. "He's getting better, but each day is a struggle. He remembers what should be...what was, and that sometimes is the hardest part, because he's not that boy anymore."
"Why were not other children effected like this," Bruce asked, wondering if maybe they had been and he just never took notice...let more victims fall through the cracks as he became too busy with Joker and later...Bane.
"Most of the adults and children effected by the toxin received the antidote within a week or so of being effected. Jeremiah didn't." Jonathan said with an easy shrug. "Ms. Dawes was quite capable while taking care of him, but it was chaos, it must have slipped her mind that he wasn't inoculated and by the time they found out his parents were dead and he was in foster-care...it was months later. Perhaps if his parents hadn't died, or he had been found with the others, but who knows, maybe he had a pre-exisiting condition no one noticed and the toxin aggravated it. I never knew the boy before that night so I couldn't tell you."
Bruce wanted to punch Jonathan just for mentioning Rachel, but considering the man hadn't said anything insulting, he figured it would be pointless, and instead stared at his coffee, wishing the kids weren't in the room so he could punch Jonathan anyway.
"Well, it's been a pleasure, mind the door." Jonathan said with an easy smile, dismissing Bruce before returning to table, starting to gather dishes. "Jeremiah, it's time for chores, you can visit Richard later."
"Alright, papa!" Jeremiah said with a grin, giving Jonathan a hug around his waist before dashing off outside again, returning after a moment to put on his shoes before vanishing again, a shout of joy ringing from the front yard.
Jonathan moved around Bruce as if the other man was a particularly decorative statue to be ignored, stacking the dishes in the sink, intending to head to the basement when he ran into a young red-headed woman who was setting a basket of eggs on the counter.
"Sarah!" Jonathan's arms wrapped around the woman, placing a gentle, loving kiss on her temple. "How is Marcus?"
"Healing," Sarah said, hugging Jonathan tightly, before moving back a pace, still connected by Jonathan's arm around her waist, but an appropriate space between them.
Susan turned her back on the ham she was preparing for the Crane's lunch, giving Sarah's free side a hug. "How is Abby?"
"Driving me nuts," Sarah said with a fond smile of her three month old baby. "I cannot wait until she sleeps through the night."
Susan laughed, pouring a glass of milk for the young woman, offering it to her as she stepped aside to let Jeremiah through as the teenager started to unload the rest of the groceries that Susan had brought over, sitting on the pantry floor to stack the sacks for flour and corn meal...though it appeared he was mostly just poking at the bags, prolonging how long he would have before he had to go outside again.
"So, who is your house guest and where is he?" Sarah asked, poking Jonathan's stomach with a long fingernail, causing Jonathan to swat at her hand as she hit the one of his few ticklish spots.
"Bruce Wayne and hopefully far away," Jonathan muttered, grabbing the hand that was poking him again, interlacing their fingers as he released her waist to hold her hand instead.
"The Bruce Wayne?" Sarah asked, and while the emphasis was the same as one would find anywhere in Gotham when one mentioned their prince's name, the tone was colder, a history behind the worlds that was lacking when it rolled off a socialite's lips.
Jonathan nodded, sighing. He leaned against Sarah as she wrapped her own arm around the doctor's waist, resting his head against hers. "I don't want him here," he said softly to the two women, all of his defenses falling away in front of the two most important people in his life next to his son (who was very obviously listening in). "Every time I see him I want to rip his eyeballs out with a spoon...I hate him."
Sarah carded her fingers through Jonathan's hair, giving him a gentle squeeze. "It's been a while, Johnny, maybe he's changed. You have."
"He destroyed me, Sarah...I can't...I can't feel anymore, I can't feel the fear or the joy or the hate or him."
"That's a good thing, Johnny, no one wants him around anymore. You don't need him." Susan said sternly, waving a pastry brush at her presudo-son. "The days when you needed a mask to hid behind are over, you're safe now."
"Not with him here." Jonathan muttered, pushing his glasses up his nose. He turned his head, burying his face in Sarah's hair, taking a deep breath of the scent of her shampoo, perfume and beneath it, Sarah herself. Years ago, in another life, the scent would warm him, the comforting feel of his best friend in his arms, her scent around him...the feeling of protection and safety.
But it had been long time since the scent was anything more then a list of chemical compounds in his head, as empty and cold as his head was starting to become thanks to an overdose of his toxin.
Logically, Jonathan knew he couldn't blame Bruce for the side effects to his own drug, Jonathan had been losing his connection to the part of his brain that controlled emotions long before the other man had shoved enough of his toxin up his nose to permanently damage him, however Bruce was the last person to dose him (excluding Ra's lovely vapor across the Narrows) and that made the other man an easy target to place the blame on.
And it sounded far better then Jonathan spraying himself in the face by accident and screwing his life over.
"How long will he be staying around?" Sarah asked gently, rubbing small circles across Jonathan's lower back with her hand, her heart breaking for her oldest friend.
"Any minute is a moment too long," Jonathan said, wrapping his other arm around the smaller woman, only to step on her foot as he jumped from the voice behind him.
"Jonath..." Bruce trailed off at the sight of Jonathan Crane practically wrapped around a red-headed woman, the pair of them as well as Susan suddenly looking extremely guilty. "Dick wanted to know if Jeremiah could come over after his chores," Bruce finished, looking between the three.
"Of course, if he wants." Jonathan said, unwrapping his arms from Sarah, wondering why he suddenly felt as if he had done something wrong by hugging her.
Bruce nodded and turned to collect his ward and leave, only to be stopped by a hand on his sleeve. He turned, looking down at the woman who had stopped him, giving her one of his "Playboy Idiot" grins. "Yes?"
"Thank you, for your assistance with Marcus." Sarah said softly, before giving Bruce a hug, startling both him and Jonathan. "You helped save my husband's life,"
"Husband?" Bruce said, hugging Sarah back, looking in confusion over her shoulder at Jonathan. From the way the pair had been wrapped around each other just moments ago, Bruce certainly didn't see Sarah as a married woman...at least, not happily.
"Bruce Wayne, meet Sarah Mitchells, wife of Marcus and my fiancee, Sarah, Bruce Wayne."
Bruce mouthed the word fiancee in even deeper confusion, causing Sarah to giggle, pulling away from Bruce. "Jonathan, don't do that."
"Hey, my offer still stands if things don't work out with Marcus," he said, taking her hand and pulling her close, placing a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose before releasing her.
"Okay, I'm extremely confused," Bruce admitted, leaning against the counter. "Is this some weird Georgian thing?"
Susan snorted, using the pastry brush to smooth the glaze over the ham. "Na, it's some weird Jonathan and Sarah thing," the older woman said, and ignoring Jonathan's glare she continued, turning towards Bruce so the other two couldn't see her smirk. "Back when these two were the size of grasshoppers, they decided, in the wisdom that came to every five-year-old, that they were gonna get married. Granted, they were youngins and this was before Jonathan realized he preferred...a different sort of partner so it was cute then."
"Susan..." Jonathan said, but knew he couldn't stop her from spilling a rather embarrassing part of his life to what he counted as his worst enemy.
"Somewhere between high school and college, Jonathan discovered his own sex and we broke up," Sarah added, causing Jonathan to blush.
"We weren't dating! I had a crush on Sherry." Jonathan protested.
"You never officially called off our engagement, Jonathan," Sarah pointed out with a giggle, before coughing. "Anyway, Johnny discovered he liked men, but was far too embarrassed to peruse it and I had a nasty string of bad relationships so we decided, after a night of drinking far, far too much, to start dating again..."
"Casually of course, made no sense for Sarah to tie herself down to someone who couldn't really be happy with her," Susan added, giving the pair a glare that indicated she had a hand in the 'casual' decision. "And somewhere between medical school and Gotham, the pair off and got engaged, thinking they would 'never find anyone else who understood me'," She quoted, in a high pitched voice that caused Jonathan to turn even brighter red, a good sign those had been his words.
"It made sense at the time...granted I was high as a kite," Jonathan muttered.
"And we never broke it off officially," Sarah said with a shrug. "I married Marcus, Jonathan threatened him a lot when he found out and then he headed back to Gotham after giving his blessing and that's the way things are."
The three of them acted as if this was a perfectly normal situation, for feelings and actions to still be between a couple while the pair had split off from each other. Granted, Bruce had ever loved one person in his life...still loved her in fact, but Rachel and he had never really moved on to another relationship while still being with each other.
Excluding Harvey, but Bruce knew that hadn't been anything serious.
"Anyway, enough of our bizarre sex lives, what about you, Mr. Wayne? Anyone waiting for you back in Gotham?" Sarah asked brightly and Jonathan winced. He hadn't been in town for most of the incident with the two DA's and Joker, but he had heard about it. Granted he had tried to kill Rachael Dawes himself, but he had nothing against the woman...for Bruce to lose her in such a manner, Jonathan couldn't imagine surviving it.
"One or two, Ms. Mitchells, nothing serious. I never really have time for a relationship these days."
"Please, Mr. Wayne, call me Sarah," Sarah said with a smile before giving Jonathan another hug, pushing away after a moment. "I should go, Marcus has therapy later today and I want to be there."
"Give him our love, sweety," Susan said, hugging Sarah again.
"Tell him I'll stop by tomorrow to talk with his doctors, I have something to do today that can't wait," Jonathan said, kissing her cheek again before walking her out to her car, leaving Susan alone with Bruce.
Susan set the ham in the ancient kitchen oven, turning it on before turning her attention to the young man left behind, studying him for a moment. "If you hurt him I will kill you," she said suddenly, meeting Bruce's dark eyes. "I don't care who you think you may be up north, or what power your money can buy you, one hair out of place, one word wrong and your young ward will be burying you in pieces, got it, Mr. Wayne?"
"Really now..." Bruce started, only to find himself backing up as Susan advanced on him.
"I've seen what that boy had to go through in his life, Mr. Wayne. I watched as he tore himself apart over his obsession. I'm the one who has fought tooth and nail to help put him and Jeremiah back together after what you did to him in Gotham. And I will do everything I have to to protect him now. He may just be some crazy freak to you, but he is my son in all but blood and trust me, Mr. Wayne, death will be a pleasurable release when I am done with you if you screw him up any further...we clear?"
Bruce nodded, swallowing thickly, wondering how such a small woman could scare the shit out of him after what he had already seen and endured...then again...he had Alfred. "I have no intentions of hurting him, I just...need to know, what's going on, what he's doing. He's the last question mark in my files and I cannot leave him free to continue to hurt people. I will not. Yes, he is some sick, crazy little freak to me. He tried to kill me, my best friend, the whole town of Gotham itself. But I didn't take two months off of my life just to drag him back hogtied to Arkham. It's been almost four years and so far, he hasn't done anything to cause attention to himself...I just want to make sure."
"So long as we're clear," Susan said, turning back to making the lunch as Jonathan came back inside.
Jonathan watched the bubbles in the glass beaker in front of him, the thick white liquid merrily boiling, the steam curving up a long pipe mixing with the thick yellow serum in another beaker before repeating the process into a vial waiting to collect the liquified version of his newest toxin.
Nightmare Serum, a liquified version of the Fear Toxin, interacting with the lipid levels in a person's body to trigger a long lasting effect, essentially giving the recipient Dream Anxiety Disorder. A perfect, if uncontrollable weapon for long term damage to the psyche.
He turned away from the serum, picking up an aerosol can of the original Fear Toxin, running his finger over the cold metal canister before standing and crossing the small lab to his test subjects, reaching a gloved hand into the cage and chasing one of the white rats around before he managed to grab it. He turned the rat over in his hand, checking the number on it's paw before placing the rat in a separate cage, marking down the number on a notepad with his free hand before placing the lid over the new plastic cage, sticking the nozzle of the can through a small air hole, spraying the air above the rat with the Fear Toxin. He watched for a moment, ignoring the curl of pleasure in his stomach as the rat started to panic, before pushing his glasses up his nose, returning to the previous cage, snatching another rat and noting it's number before picking up a small syringe filled with the first batch of serum, carefully injecting the rat with the liquid, sliding him into a third cage as the effects started, hissing as he was bit, dropping the lid on the cage.
He stripped off his glove and sucked on the wound, eyes locked onto the latest test subject, raising an eyebrow as the rat skipped 'frenzied panic' and directly into 'uncontrollable seizures and rapid breathing'. Glancing at his watch he made a note, eyes drifting over to the first rat, watching it race in frenzied circles for a few moments before it to, started to shake and seize, it's brother already dead. He reached into the serum rat's cage, carrying the deceased rodent over to a counter, grabbing a scalpel on his way, eager to dive in.
Subject Two metabolized the serum faster then previous records with the toxin and expired from heart failure three minutes before Subject One. Serum has not yet proven to be non-lethal, though quite effective in aggravating adrenaline receptors to the point of a manic, panicked state.
Subject Three had no reaction to serum and indicates that lipid balance is even more crucial then expected previously.
...I wonder what Mr. Wayne's cholesterol level is...
Chapter 4: Independence Day
Chapter Four: Independence Day
"Here's to the nights where the sand is your seat, the waves kiss your feet, your friends outnumber the stars, and even the chilliest of nights are still warmer than the cold one in your hand." - Unkown
Bruce had originally come to collect his ward who was spending time with Jeremiah, but had gotten distracted as he stepped out of the rented SUV, watching as a midnight black horse raced across one of the recently mowed back fields, his rider leaning forward as the horse approached a fence, clearing the obstacle easily, rearing slightly as Jonathan (for now Bruce could identify the smaller man easily) carefully turned him towards the drive and Bruce, rather then the house where they had been approaching.
Bruce had seen many horses and riders in his day, one did not get out of races and shows often when one had an image to maintain (no matter how many times Bruce tried), but very few of those events had a very attractive doctor wearing riding leathers as if they were a second skin. Bruce smiled as leaned against the weather worn fence, figuring there was no harm in simply admiring the way Jonathan's body moved under the black fabric, though a part of him was sympathetically suffering heat stroke considering the other man's long sleeves under the black leather vest and long pants in the eighty degree heat.
Jonathan and Nightmare approached at a slow trot, Jonathan pulling the horse up a bit short of the fence, turning so that he could pull alongside Bruce's location, looking down at him over the rim of his glasses with a delicately raised eyebrow. "Jeremiah and Richard are in the house," he said casually, leaning slightly over Nighmare's neck to stroke the horses neck, causing the horse to snort at the petting.
"I know, I was just...enjoying the sun for a moment," Bruce said, lightly scratching Nightmare's nose as the horse nuzzled him, curious if the stranger had any treats.
Jonathan snorted, and made a clicking sound with his tongue, turning Nightmare towards the stables. "Do you ride, Mr. Wayne?"
"It's been a while, but I'm sure I remember how," Bruce said casually, wondering if Jonathan was really going to ask the man to join him.
Jonathan gave Bruce a wicked grin before tapping Nightmare's sides with his calves, starting the horse into a light trot. "If you can figure out how to saddle Bats, feel free to join me," he called over his shoulder.
"Bats?" Bruce muttered, heading into the stable to find a dappled gray horse staring at him from a stall, chewing on a few strands of hay. The plaque on the door read "Bats", with a small, weather worn note of Not funny, Jeremiah – Dad. "Cute..." Bruce muttered as he grabbed a saddle from the rack, approaching the stall, staring down the horse who didn't look amused.
"Whoah, other direction you incompetent piece of..."
"Having fun, Bruce?" Jonathan called from astride Nightmare, his pleasure at watching Bruce try to manage the temperamental horse evident.
"I'm going to take that scythe and shove it up your...whoa!" Bats had reared back slightly, intent on removing the annoyance from her back before she gave up, trotting over to Nightmare, accepting the head scratch from Jonathan.
"Be rather hard to do, considering it's attached to my vest," Jonathan said, referring to the scythe strapped to his riding vest, before shifting Nightmare away from Bats. "Now, let's see if you're any good, or if those more then ungodly expensive lessons were wasted," Jonathan clicked again, and both Nightmare and Bats took off at the command, seemingly intent on racing each other with or without their rider's approval, causing Bruce to yelp while Jonathan laughed, a bright sound that almost made up for Bruce being un-seated...almost.
"Your horse is a demon," Bruce muttered, picking a thorny vine from his hair, glaring at Jonathan as the man snickered.
"Most riders do not aim their mounts at a blackberry bramble, Mr. Wayne." Jonathan said, smirking as he reached up to pull a clump of berries free of Bruce's back, wincing at the stain left behind. "I did warn you,"
"Yes, while I was already airborne," Bruce countered, wincing at a particularly large and stubborn thorn, before sighing, un-buttoning his shirt and pulling it off, dropping it in the basket Susan provided. He heard a zipper and froze in his removal of his undershirt, turning his head to watch as Jonathan pulled off his leather vest, followed by the dark purple long sleeved t-shirt, muscles flexing as the younger man pulled it over his head.
Bruce guessed that an inadvertent strip show was worth the pain of pulling blackberry thorns out of uncomfortable places.
Jonathan tossed the shirt towards the hamper, hitting Bruce's head as he did, before he un-buttoned and un-zipped his leather pants, pulling them off and folding them before sliding on a pair of denim pants that he left open while taking a seat, pulling off his riding boots. "You need to take off your pants as well," he said, looking up at Bruce through his lashes before nodding towards a pile of clothes. "There should be something there you can wear,"
"Any reason why?" Bruce asked as he sorted through the clothing, finding a pair of shorts that weren't entirely hideous...though the bright Hawaiian shirt, the only one in his size, was something he could certainly do without.
"Jeremiah is terrified of horses, and I don't want you disrupting him." Jonathan said with a shrug, standing and zipping up his pants before pulling on a tank top, sliding his glasses back on.
"You could just send Richard out," Bruce pointed out, but pulled on the black shorts anyway, grabbing one of Jonathan's tank tops instead of the shirt of tropical fish and flowers, pulling it on.
"My son, my home, my rules," Jonathan said. "Besides, do you really think that Richard is going to go happily, considering I'm sure Jeremiah's already invited him to tonight's festivities?"
Bruce silently agreed with that thought, having already resigned himself to another dinner spent in Jonathan's company. Bruce normally didn't do much for the fourth of July, not really caring for the holiday beyond a general sense of pride in his country and an enjoyment of fireworks, but that some how changed, once Richard had come into the picture. Apparently the holiday was more important when you were younger and got to spend the day running around, enjoying celebrations.
The pair left the stable together, passing the back yard where Tom was poking at the smoker, adjusting something in the racks before he closed it, turning his attention to the small grill he was working with for the vegetables, examining the coals.
Richard and Jeremiah had apparently gotten bored of hanging around inside, and were instead running around in a bizarre game of tag that probably only made sense to the pair of them, though Bruce noticed that it caused Richard to draw on some of his more Robin-esque evasion techniques, something Bruce would have put a stop to if they had been in any other company...and Bruce had to wonder when he had been comfortable with Jonathan and his friends knowing about his other life, even if he hadn't been the one to reveal it.
Bruce accepted a seat next to Marcus, freshly home from the hospital, new wheelchair and all, pouring himself a glass of sweet tea from the picture in the center of the table, reaching over and removing the cigarette from Jonathan's hand before the other man could light it.
"Bruce..." Jonathan said warningly, glaring.
"Twenty feet from me and Richard or I'm going to go toss these in the pond," Bruce said, meeting Jonathan's glare. The group was silent, watching the pair before Jonathan growled, snatching the cigarette and hopping down the porch stairs, standing the required distance before lighting the cigarette with a viciousness that indicated he wished he was lighting something else on fire.
Bruce smirked and took a sip of his tea, ignoring the looks from those around him.
"Jeremiah if you don't stop instigating corn cob wars I will be forced to take away your desert," Jonathan called down the table and Jeremiah quickly put down his 'sword', blushing as he dug his fork into the mashed potatoes.
The teenager eyed the fork for a moment before the sound of a clearing throat caused him to meet his father's eyes guiltily, stuffing the mass into his mouth rather then sending it flying down the table like he had been thinking of doing.
"Richard Greyson do not even think of it," Bruce warned and Dick jumped, sheepish as he put his own corn cob sword down. He had been certain that Bruce wasn't even paying attention to them when he tapped Jeremiah in retaliation for the previous 'hit'.
"Father's are scary," Jeremiah muttered around his mashed potatoes, smiling innocently as Jonathan glanced at his son curiously.
"Seriously," Dick agreed, before snagging a roll from the center of the table, ignoring Bruce's glare for reaching across someone's plate.
Susan snickered as she added a second steak onto Jonathan's plate, smiling sweetly. "At least they're keeping themselves entertained, imagine if they had been bored," she said cheerily.
"I love and cherish him," Jonathan muttered to his beer. "I love and...Jeremiah William Crane! The peas are not projectile weapons!"
"I'm wondering if we should be worried they're running around with lit objects or hoping they trip," Jonathan said casually, sipping his beer as he watched his son dance around with a sparkler as the daylight faded.
"Richard won't let anything happen," Bruce said, before shaking his head as his ward started showing off, juggling sparklers. "Circus child..." Bruce muttered before yelling for Richard to knock it off before Jeremiah followed his example.
"They eventually do grow out of this, right?" Sarah asked, holding baby Abygail, bouncing the sleeping child gently.
"Nope, they just play with bigger explosives," Susan said, watching as her husband chase the boys, sparklers shining out from under his baseball cap and tied into his beard. "Thomas Williams put that boy down right now! He's turning purple already!"
Tom made a face at his wife put restored Richard to his feet, the teenager giggling as he fell back into the grass, his red face returning to his normal color slowly. Jeremiah collapsed onto his friend, resting his head on Richard's stomach as they started making up stories about the stars above them, dying sparklers forgotten in their hands.
"I think my hip fell asleep," Bruce muttered, reaching down to run his fingers through Richard's hair as the boy rested against him, shivering slightly in the chilly night air, snuggling closer to Bruce's side. Not getting an answer, Bruce turned, just in time to catch Jonathan as the other man slid sidewise, weighed down by a sleeping Jeremiah in his lap.
Bruce shook his head, gently laying Jonathan's head on his shoulder, turning slightly to support the three. He removed Jonathan's glasses before wrapping an arm loosely around the smaller man, shifting his attention to the fireworks still exploding above them.
He was jostled from his impromptu sleep a moment later as a warm blanket settled around them, Susan putting a finger to her lips, smiling. She walked away, gathering up the plates that had been used for desert, the fine ash from the near-by fireworks still floating from the air from the finale.
Bruce yawned, wanting to check the time, before realizing both arms were pinned by Richard and Jonathan, giving up on the idea, allowing his eyes to close again, comfortably warm and comforted by the weight of the bodies around him.
"I smell marshmallows," Jeremiah muttered and raised his head, pulling the blanket off Bruce and Jonathan as he peeked out, spying the fire pit that had been set up around midnight. He grinned and crawled towards it, accepting a stick from Richard along with a marshmallow, happily burning the sugary treat, resting against Richard's arm as he did.
Richard smiled at his new friend, pulling Jeremiah closer under the blanket he had wrapped around his shoulders, one arm holding Jeremiah close, the other blowing out the flame on his marshmallow before turning the stick around to char the other side, giving it a moment of burning before happily pulling it off with his teeth, ending up with more around his mouth then in it.
Sarah reached over, offering Richard a wet cloth to wipe his mouth with as she glanced back at Bruce and Jonathan's slumbering forms, smirking as Bruce shifted in his sleep, curled more around the sleeping doctor now that Jeremiah was separating the pair. She nudged her husband's ribs and tilted her head towards the pair.
Marcus took a look, rolling his eyes as he returned his attention to her, snickering as he caught sight of the flash of light in the dark, indicating Tom had found the two 'friends' and recorded the scene for later blackmail.
Susan took a seat next to Jeremiah, wiping the marshmallow and chocolate from the boy's mouth before spearing a hot dog on her stick, gently roasting it. "You boys having a good night?"
"Yes ma'am," Richard said politely, offering Jeremiah his latest burnt creation, accepting the one Jeremiah offered him.
"Please, Dick, it's Susan," She said, before groaning as Tom appeared with a pastry wrapped around his stick. "Tom..."
"What, campfire eclair are gods food, woman!" Tom said, using his stick to cook the pastry wrap.
"I married a barbarian," she muttered, causing the boys to laugh and Tom to burn his 'eclair'.
Chapter 5: Keep Calm and Freak Out
Chapter Five: Keep Calm and Freak Out
"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." - Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), founder of analytical psychology
"And this was supposed to be my new clinic," Jonathan muttered, pushing the sleeves of his shirt up nervously, before finally shoving his hands into his pockets to keep the um-conscious movements still. It had been two weeks since Bruce had first shown up at Jonathan's house and he was finally giving both Bruce and Dick a tour of the still rather run-down house.
"Supposed to be?" Dick asked, blowing a bubble with his gum, ignoring the disgusted look Bruce gave him at the action.
"We ran out of money," Jonathan said with a shrug. "The house was in worse shape then I expected and ended up costing quite a bit more. He took a seat on one of the hospital beds, drawing his knees up to his chest, arms loosely wrapped around them.
Bruce noticed the way Jonathan's long legs kept twitching, eyes darting around the room before settling on them again, apparently, the other man still had problems with his nerves. "What were you planning to do with the clinic?"
"Normal stuff, urgent care, general check ups..." Jonathan trailed off for a moment, head tilted, staring past Bruce before shaking his head violently, almost twitching as he pressed the heel of his hands to his eyes. "Uh...what was I...oh, some emergency care," he added, answering Bruce's question.
"Doctor Crane?" Dick asked softly, standing. When Jonathan didn't answer, he looked at Bruce before moving towards Jonathan.
"Get away from me!" Jonathan screamed, lashing out, sending Dick flying towards the wall. The teenager bounced off of it, landing in a crouch, confused as to what was going on.
Bruce stood, glaring at Jonathan. "Don't touch him," he growled.
Jonathan laughed, a broken, harsh sound. "So protective of your little bird, I bet he tastes so sweet, with all the care you give him." Jonathan stood, movements awkward and broken, as if he were a puppet whose strings were tangled.
"Dick, get out of here," Bruce said softly, moving in front of his ward, blocking Jonathan.
"Yes, little Robin, go fly away, shoo," Jonathan said, waving a hand at Dick. "Daddy Bat is too busy to play with you."
Dick hissed through his teeth in frustration, but seeing Jeremiah out of the corner of his eye he conceded, heading for the door, pulling Jeremiah upstairs, just as Bruce kicked Jonathan's feet out from under him.
Jonathan's instincts kicked in, and as Bruce kicked, he leapt, screaming as his flipping twisted his wrist oddly, before landing on his feet, crouching as he stared at Bruce, a wide grin on his face before he raised, body shifting to kick out at the larger man.
Bruce blocked the kick, grabbing Jonathan's ankle, driving his shoulder into the other man's knee, intending to break it. Jonathan caught on a moment before Bruce connected and kicked up his other leg, throwing off the balance so that Bruce missed, the momentum turning the pair. Bruce released Jonathan's ankle, sending the man flying. Jonathan turned, hitting the wall with his back instead of his head, before leaping at Bruce again, jabbing out with his hand, landing a nice hit into Bruce's stomach.
Bruce doubled over at the pain, only to find a knee in his face, blood coating his nose and mouth. He stepped back, and just missed the foot to the groin, spitting out the blood that had filled his mouth, before grabbing for Jonathan, managing to snag the man's shirt, only to have the smaller man squirm out of it, ducking the punch to his own face.
Jonathan used the duck to shove Bruce back away from him, shifting to the side to avoid the kick to his own stomach. He was tempted to grab Bruce's leg himself, but dismissed it considering his own recent escape from such a hold. Instead, he turned into Bruce's kick, elbowing the other man in the sternum, following with the kick to the groin Bruce had avoided earlier.
As Bruce went down in pain, Jonathan straddled the man's chest, still grinning. He licked his lips before reaching down, wrapping his hands tightly around Bruce's neck, squeezing hard.
Bruce gagged, scratching at Jonathan's hands, praying that the last sight he saw wouldn't be Jonathan's dilated eyes and flushed skin. As darkness closed in on his vision, Jonathan suddenly toppled sidewise, crumpling like a broken rag doll.
Bruce coughed violently, pulling himself into a sitting position, staring at his ward who stood there with a heavy metal pot from the kitchen.
It was Jeremiah who had noticed the problems first, calling an ambulance before Bruce could even stand, clutching at his father's wrist, counting the beats under the skin. Now, Bruce sat in the too cold hospital room a day later, wondering how he had missed the fact that something was very wrong with Jonathan, rather then simply reverting to his default of beating first and asking questions never.
"Mr. Wayne?" a doctor said, poking her head into the room, gesturing for Bruce to step outside.
He stood, taking a look at the nu-conscious man before following the woman down the hall, leaning against a doorjamb as she joined him. "How is he?" Bruce asked, wondering how badly he had screwed up.
"Stable, for the moment." the doctor said, flipping a few pages in the chart she held, frowning. "His serotonin levels are dropping and the seizures have completely stopped, the tranquilizers should wear off soon and we should be able to get a clearer idea of what we're left with. I just don't understand how any reasonable or sane doctor could think of prescribing so many conflicting medications..."
Bruce fought the urge to snort, having a good idea that the prescribing doctor was neither sane nor reasonable...though it still didn't explain why Jonathan would poison himself either, considering psycopharamacology was his specialty. "It would be nice to find out," Bruce muttered.
The doctor shook her head, clearing it. "Anyway, we've cleared out most of the drugs from his system, though some traces remain, not enough to do any harm, so once he wakes I will have a psychiatrist down here to evaluate him."
"Of course, thank you, doctor."
"I'm just glad we got to him in-time, serotonin toxicity isn't something to play around with. Please keep an eye on him after this, another case of it and Mr. Crane might just not recover,"
"Doctor," Bruce corrected automatically, before biting his tongue.
"It's Doctor Crane, he's very...specific about that,"
"Quite," the doctor said with a smile, knowing the type herself. "I'll check in on him in a couple hours if he doesn't wake sooner,".
"Thank you again," Bruce said, shaking the doctor's hand before returning to Jonathan's room.
Ice blue eyes slowly opened, blinking at the world around him for a moment, before closing again, body shifting as it tried to work out the kinks of being in the same position for too long. Bruce looked up from his book at the sound of flesh against the sheets, marking his place with a batarang before setting the book aside. "Jonathan?"
Jonathan's eyes opened again, taking in Bruce, before Jonathan sat up, a stiff movement that reminded Bruce of all the creepy zombie movies he had watched as a kid. Jonathan raised his hands, staring at them, before suddenly reaching over and ripping the IV from his wrist, blood speckling the wall as the overly hydrated blood found a new path. He started pulling the EKG leads from his chest, ignoring the blood dripping over him.
"Stop that!" Bruce yelled, slamming his hand against the nurse call button, grabbing Jonathan's wrists.
Jonathan let out a broken, gasping cackle, fighting against Bruce's hold, causing the other man to fall into the bed. Jonathan started kicking and Bruce used his knees on Jonathan's thighs to try to hold him still.
"Always knew you would want to be on top," Jonathan panted. He bucked up against Bruce's hold, loud, keening cry spilling from his lips.
Two nurses appeared in the door, one running to help Bruce, while the other called for a restraint board before helping Bruce and her fellow nurse hold Jonathan down, trying to keep him from hurting himself or Bruce.
Security arrived within moments, carrying a large black board between them. Two of the security guards helped hold and lift Jonathan, while another slid the plastic board under him, the five holding Jonathan fighting to get his arms, legs and torso into the straps.
"Jonathan, stop!" Bruce hissed, fighting against Jonathan's struggles, trying not to instinctively break the man's wrist to get him under control.
"Jonathan's gone away," Scarecrow sung, before giggling manically.
The doctor finally appeared, reaching around the nurses and security to jab Jonathan's thigh with a syringe, holding the flailing limb until the sedative took effect, body going limp and allowing them to finally get him strapped to the board. "What the hell just happened, Mr Wayne?" she hissed, glaring at the billionaire over Jonathan's prone body.
"I will have his full records transferred from Arkham," Bruce muttered, grabbing his coat and fleeing the room.
"You can stop staring at me," Jonathan hissed, glaring at Bruce over the rim of his glasses before reaching up and pushing them further up his nose. He winced and reached down, rubbing his sore wrist, trying to hide the action from Bruce.
"Your doctor asked me to keep an eye on you, thus staring." Bruce said, wrapping an arm around the other man's waist as Jonathan started lilting to the side.
Jonathan jerked out of Bruce's grasp, almost falling over before Bruce grabbed his upper arm, steadying him. "You don't need to stare, I'm not going to suddenly leap on you," Jonathan muttered.
"You'd be surprised," Bruce said with a sigh, steering Jonathan towards the bench in the small garden they were walking around, forcing the man to sit. "How do you feel?"
"Why do you fucking care?" Jonathan snapped, before clamping a hand over his mouth. "That wasn't what I meant to say," he said, looking slightly fearful.
Bruce took a seat next to Jonathan, fishing in his coat pocket for something. "Your medication is still leveling out, agitation is normal." He glanced around before offering Jonathan a slightly squashed pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
"You're trusting me with something flammable?" Jonathan asked, but accepted the offer, even being polite enough to move over to the furthest end of the bench before lighting the cigarette, a moan of satisfaction spilling from him as the first rush of nicotine hit his system.
"You haven't tried to kill me in a week, figured you deserved a treat," That, and perhaps the drug would keep Jonathan from scratching his arms all to hell every time he had a craving. He watched the pale gray smoke as it spiraled out over Jonathan's lips, taking perverse pleasure in watching as Jonathan lifted the brown filter to his lips again, tongue flashing out to wet them before he took another drag, cheek bones standing out as he sucked.
He waited until the cigarette was almost finished before leaning over, plucking it from Jonathan's lax fingers, taking the final drag, holding the smoke in his lungs for a long moment before blowing out, the smoke passing over Jonathan's lips as the other man inhaled the second hand drag.
"I thought you hated smoke," Jonathan whispered.
"I do," Bruce's lips were just a hair from touching Jonathan's lips when a cry ran out from behind them.
"Papa!" Jeremiah yelled, and Bruce moved back just in time for the boy to throw himself into Jonathan's lap.
Bruce went to flick the cigarette away, only to find it missing. He glanced up and watched as Richard pointedly ground it into the cement until it was nothing but a smear, glaring at his guardian. Bruce raised an eyebrow at the teenager's attitude, before leaning back against the bench, one arm behind Jonathan to tug at his shirt when he leaned too far to the side. He smiled as he watched Jonathan listen to Jeremiah's ramblings about how his week with Susan and Richard had been, before turning his attention to the sky above them, watching the clouds.
"I never did say thank you," Jonathan said softly, leaning against the doorjamb to the guest room that Bruce had stolen when they brought Jonathan home from the hospital. It would still be another month before he could fully be trusted alone for longer then a few minutes and it had just seemed easier for Bruce and Richard to move into his house, rather then spending that month in a nursing home.
"You don't have to," Bruce said, dropping his keys and wallet on the dresser, before moving closer to Jonathan. He reached out, brushing his fingers through the long bangs that fell into Jonathan's eyes, wishing he could remove the pain that shadowed them more often then not these days.
And then he wondered why he even cared.
Jonathan turned his head slightly, following the touch of Bruce's hand, before blinking up at the other man. He licked his lips, debating for a moment, before surging up, pressing his lips against Bruce's, fingers clenched in the taller man's shirt for balance.
Chapter 6: Athazagoraphobia
Chapter Six: Athazagoraphobia
Me, I'm scared of everything, I'm scared of who I am, what I saw, what I did, but most of all I am scared of walking out of this room and never feeling for the rest of my life, the way I feel when I'm with you. - Unknown
"Have you ever given thought to the fact that maybe the reason Richard is so distant, is the fact that you are?" Jonathan asked, raising up on his elbow to look down at Bruce as they lay side-by-side on Bruce's bed. They had been discussing Richard's relationship with his ward for the better part of half an hour and Jonathan could no longer bite his tongue against his observations.
"Are," Jonathan interrupted. "You keep him at arms length, Bruce. You still refer to him as your ward even when everyone knows there's not a chance of family coming to claim him, you rarely touch him outside of sparring practice, you limit your affections to the same gestures and words you give Jeremiah, hell, even his costume is based on the one he wore in the circus, rather then something that has meaning to his life now," Jonathan said, ticking off the points on his fingers.
"I'm not going to take away his past, Jonathan."
"I'm not asking you to. I'm asking you to accept the past that it's been three years since his parents died and that he's moved on."
"Of course he hasn't, I never..."
Jonathan reached out, gently taking Bruce's hand. "No, you haven't, and that's the problem isn't it?"
"And what do you mean by that?"
"You've never moved on from your parent's death, you're still grieving them even after all these years and it's destroying you bit by bit until you can't even relate to a scared teenage boy you're charged with raising. You couldn't save them and now everyone who crosses Batman's path has to pay, even those that don't deserve it."
"What would you know about it, Crane?"
"It's my job, to know about it, Bruce," Jonathan said softly, calmly, not letting Bruce's anger get to him. "Sort of comes with being a psychiatrist, not to mention, I've read your files."
"What files? And why the hell were you reading them?"
"Police files, psychologist files, Ra's files...if there's a file on you, I have a copy of it in storage," Jonathan said with a shrug, promptly falling onto the bed from the action. "As for why...there was more to the plot to ransom Gotham then just sticking the emitter on the train and riding it across town, well, more to my plan," Jonathan said, still bitter over being betrayed. He had such grand ideas...
"Such as?" Bruce asked and Jonathan shivered at Batman's growl slipping through the words, ideas and thoughts shifting in his head.
"Kidnapping Gotham's elite and gassing them," Jonathan said, sitting up a bit. "Would have been such a grand party, the best of the best all gathered around, trembling and shaking, terrified out of their little mink coats before I even got to them with the gas." He gave a giggle at the images in his mind, head titled back a bit. "I couldn't wait to see what fears motivated those who ruled over us...what truly terrified the brave and the beautiful."
Jonathan turned, studying Bruce, licking his lips. "What terrified you. Would you scream for Mummy and Daddy?" He reached out, tracing a finger down Bruce's chest before sliding onto the other man, straddling Bruce's hips. He leaned forward, his lips brushing over Bruce's. "What does terrify you, Mr. Wayne? What did you see as you breathed in that choking white powder?"
"Bats," Bruce said after a moment, reaching up and grabbing Jonathan's hands, entwining their fingers and drawing their hands over his head, forcing Jonathan down even further. "I'm scared of bats,"
"...bats?" Jonathan blinked, thrown off by that. "I had...no idea. That was not in any of my analysis, it would have changed everything," he pouted slightly, before leaning down, kissing Bruce deeply, his hips rocking against Bruce's. "How long did the toxin last before Fox found the antidote? How much did you scream? Did it feel as if your heart would explode? Tell me everything." he growled, hips moving faster with each word, a groan spilling from his lips.
Bruce sat up, pushing Jonathan back, his grip switching to hold tightly to Jonathan's wrist, studying the other man's face. "We are not doing this right now," he murmured, dodging another kiss, hands sliding down to Jonathan's hips to keep them still.
"Why not?" Jonathan asked with a pout, trying to break free of Bruce's hold, before giving up and pulling his shirt over his head.
"Because if I'm going to have sex with my boyfriend, he's going to be in his own body to enjoy it, Scarecrow," Bruce answered, though his mouth had a mind of it's own and latched on the long column of Scarecrow's neck, biting and sucking.
Scarecrow moaned deeply, clutching at Bruce's shoulders, hips once more pressing against Bruce's as the other man's grip lessened, hissing as Bruce bit him again. "It's not like it's cheating...oh god...two sides of the same dented coin and all that..."
Bruce hissed as Scarecrow pressed down harder, one hand sliding down to rest on the man's lower back, forcing their hips tighter together, jerking up against Scarecrow as he ran his sharp nails down Bruce's back. "It's still wrong," he groaned, moving his mouth up to kiss hungrily at Scarecrow's lips. He could excuse it away, Jonathan pushing him aside just as they started getting into anything further then light touching, the fact he had an eager, willing, if overly so, body in his lap...a body that did, in all technicality belong to Jonathan...even his high sex drive could excuse it, but the fact remained that Bruce's reasoning was nothing of the sort.
Scarecrow tasted of blood and fear...neither a taste belonging to the body in question, and Bruce wanted it, though, it also helped that Scarecrow was far easier to
There had to be something sick and twisted about wanting the voice in your boyfriend's head more then you wanted your boyfriend, but Bruce wasn't going to pause in his taste test long enough to ask and risk Jonathan beating the shit out of him.
Scarecrow took advantage of ?Bruce's mental distraction to un-button the other man's shirt, pushing it open as he pulled away from the hungry kiss, mouth latching eagerly onto Bruce's nipple as he un-buttoned and un-zipped his own jeans, pulling his erection free, groaning as he stroked himself before working on Bruce's pants. Once he got Bruce's length free, he grinned at the other man, a wicked quick of his lips that set Bruce's blood boiling, before Scarecrow dove in for another hungry kiss full of teeth and tongue, reaching down between their bodies to stroke both of them, manic giggles escaping them each time they broke for air.
"I thought I said I wasn't going to have sex with you," Bruce asked, gasping between the words, struggling to think...or not think, or something as Scarecrow's too expert touch slid over him, hands pushing the man's jeans down further so he could grip Scarecrow's upper thighs, pressing their hips harder together, trapping the man's hand, though it didn't stop the movement.
"You're not...you're...playing," Scarecrow gasped out, giggling again, before whimpering, hips jerking as he drew closer to release.
"Playing? What, house?" Bruce muttered, latching onto Scarecrow's neck, his own hand reaching down to touch...feel his lover.
"Playing at being the big, strong man who has everything under control...even as everything crashes down around him," Scarecrow said, before leaning in, kissing Bruce's ear. "You're scared, Brucey," he whispered, tongue flicking out over Bruce's ear. "You're so afraid of failing you can't even have sex without being terrified of what comes after. Each moment, each second I can taste it over my tongue, it's so delicious,"
Bruce pulled back, thrusting up into Scarecrow's hand, moaning deeply. "I'm not scared of sex, 'Crow,"
"No, you're scared of who you're fucking," Scarecrow said, biting at Bruce's lips, swallowing another moan.
Bruce let out a choked laugh, reaching up to pinch one of Scarecrow's nipples hard, giving it a twist, enjoying the way the other man jerked and gasped at the feeling, hips shifting eagerly from the pain. "I'm not scared of you,"
"You're not," Scarecrow agreed, tightening his hand around their erections, running the very tips of his nails over Bruce's length. "You're scared of how we make you feel. You're scared you might actually give a damn about poor, broken Jonathan," Scarecrow said before leaning into Bruce's ear again. "Your scared we will break you...and you're eager for it,"
Bruce bit down on Scarecrow's neck as he climaxed, stiffing the cry in the man's tender flesh, arms wrapping around Scarecrow's body as the other man started to tremble, his own climax following. They sat there for a moment, riding out the aftershocks of their orgasms, enjoying simply a moment of being in their own skins.
Scarecrow started un-tangling himself from Bruce, sliding off the bed and grinning, sucking his fingers clean as he stood. "I'm going to go shower, thanks for the ride."
"I know what scares you," Bruce said easily, laying back and watching Scarecrow, enjoying the view.
Scarecrow laughed, running a hand through his hair. "And just what could that be, Brucey?"
Bruce smirked, very little humor in the expression. "You're scared of not existing. That one day Jonathan won't need or want you anymore and you'll simply...fade away."
Scarecrow stared at Bruce, fingers gently brushing his lips before he jerked down, turning on his heel. He didn't say anything, as he slipped into the bathroom and Bruce snorted, rolling on his side, back towards the bathroom, feeling disgusted with himself.
"You didn't have to be so cruel,"
Scarecrow looked up from where he was bent over the sink, rubbing his eyes. "It's my nature to be cruel, Jonathan," he muttered, raising his eyes to meet those of his other half, reflected back to him through the mirror.
Jonathan crossed his arms over his chest, raising an eyebrow at Scarecrow until the man turned his back onto the mirror, refusing to be rebuked by his weaker half. Instead, he started stripping, grimacing at the fluids covering his body. "It's not like it matters anyway, he's your boyfriend, your toy to play with, I just got you what you wanted...broke the ice so to speak."
"Like you didn't want it just as much as I did," Jonathan muttered, tossing the jeans over towards the hamper, turning on the shower. "If not more, you slut."
"Hey, you created me, I cannot help but to be as you wish," Scarecrow said, buffing his nails on the white tank top he wore in the mirror.
"You're supposed to be what I can't be, not a hedonistic little whore who gets off every time someone whimpers over a spider,"
"Unless that's what you secretly want to be," Scarecrow said with a giggle before hopping up onto the sink, grabbing Bruce's tooth brush and the toothpaste. "What does it matter anyway? A few more weeks and I'll be nothing but a happy memory again, locked away under layers of medication and self-control,"
"That is disgusting," Jonathan muttered, referring to Scarecrow both using Bruce's toothbrush and talking around it. He stepped into the shower, rinsing off his stomach and hips with the spray. "Is that why you came out today? Trying to have some fun before you vanish again?"
Scarecrow was silent, watching Jonathan shower in the mirror as he brushed his teeth, not wanting to answer the question, to actually think about the thoughts that had been flowing through his half of the brain while the medication was low enough to allow him to exist.
He didn't want to tell Jonathan that he wasn't scared of existing...so much as losing his head mate. Scarecrow had spent too many years watching over, caring for, protectinglovingdesiringwanting Jonathan to give him up again.
"Are you mad?" Scarecrow asked instead, rinsing out his mouth before turning so he could fully watch the other man.
"Of what? Screwing with Bruce?" Jonathan shrugged, soaping up. "You are me, whatever those idiot doctors at Arkham say, it's not to far of a stretch to think a little slut like you would jump on him," Jonathan smirked at Scarecrow's outraged sound before smiling over his shoulder at him. "It's actually nice to know there's more in your head then how many people's minds you can tear apart,"
Bruce listened to Jonathan talk to himself in the bathroom, shaking his head as he rooted through his drawers, having already cleaned up down the hall. He started to dress, wondering if he should confront the doctor about the conversation he was having before dismissing it, sure Jonathan wouldn't appreciate the fact Bruce was listening in on what was apparently a private conversation with the voice in his head. He looked up as the shower shut off and the door opened, Jonathan standing there, still dripping, towel slung low on his hips.
They had never discussed what was going on between them, what this...relationship, if any really was, and Bruce wondered if the moments from half an hour ago would change that...force them to define what they were doing.
Jonathan smiled at Bruce, grabbing his glasses of the night table and sliding them on before raising on tiptoes for a gentle kiss before heading out of Bruce's room to get changed, ignoring the way Bruce opened his mouth to say something. Bruce watched him go before closing his mouth, shrugging.
Apparently, it didn't change a thing.
Chapter 7: Boys Will Be...
Chapter Seven: Boys Will Be...
"It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons." ~Friedrich von Schiller
Jonathan sat at the kitchen table, slowly and methodically banging his head against the stack of paperwork covering it. Bruce watched him for a moment, before pulling a file free as he straddled one of the kitchen chairs, ignoring his boyfriend lowering his intelligence level as he studied the tax form. "I don't see what the problem is, making money is usually a good thing,"
Jonathan paused, forehead imprinted with his earnings for the past year as he turned his head to glare at Bruce. "Rich people," he muttered before returning to banging his head.
"Oh look, Jeremiah's stripping naked," Bruce said, hiding his smirk behind Jonathan's household deductions as the doctor's head shot up, staring out the windows frantically, finally finding his son and Richard carrying a ladder across the yard along with a stack of buckets, heading for the peach trees.
"Not funny," Jonathan muttered, gathering up his scattered paperwork. "Just because you have someone to do your taxes and don't actually pay attention to things," Jonathan sighed, resting his head on his hand. "I'll sell you Jeremiah for two hundred dollars, he's only slightly damaged..."
"I'm not buying your son off of you," Bruce said, leaning over to kissing Jonathan's pouting lips before sipping his coffee. "It's only August, why are you so worried about this?"
"Better to know how screwed I am now then later," Jonathan muttered, resuming banging his head.
"Look, I'll call my accountants and the bank, we'll figure this out," Bruce said, holding Jonathan's head back from banging. "Relax, deep breaths and all that,"
"I'm not borrowing money from you," Jonathan muttered, but accepted the plan, gathering up his paperwork, eyes darting to the side as he followed his son's progress through the small orchard. He darted away as Bruce leaned in for another kiss, knocking some papers onto the floor. "M'not in the mood," he muttered, standing. "I'm going to put this away,"
Bruce watched Jonathan all but run up the stairs in an effort to get away from him and he lowered his head to the table, giving it a little bounce. Ever since that night with Scarecrow, Jonathan had pulled away anymore, barely tolerating Bruce being in the same space as him, let alone touching or anything else. It was slowly driving the man insane.
And Jonathan didn't seem to be fairing much better.
"So why do you call Uncle Bruce, Bruce?" Jeremiah asked, setting his ladder next to a tree and climbing halfway up it, snagging a peach and inspecting it before dropping it into the bucket Richard held, reaching for another.
"Because that's his name?" Richard said questioningly, ducking the peach Jeremiah tossed over his shoulder with the word wormy, catching the next one Jeremiah deemed good enough to eat.
"I mean, why don't you call him dad? That's what he is, isn't he? Well, like Dad's my dad, not your actual dad,"
Richard shrugged, and almost missed catching the next two peaches, causing Jeremiah to snicker. "It's never come up...I don't think Bruce cares that much," Richard said softly, staring vacantly at the tree, not really seeing it. "I'm just some kid he picked up at a circus, not like you and Doctor Crane."
Jeremiah paused in his examination of a peach, blinking down at his friend. "Do you miss them? Your mom and dad I mean,"
"Yeah, of course. I miss my dad's laugh most though...some nights, I can still hear it...don't you miss your parents?"
Jeremiah shrugged, dropping the peach. "Not really, they weren't...dad yelled a lot and mom cried and screamed all the time. It's...quieter now, and papa's gentler then they were. He doesn't hit or trip me,"
Richard winced, just imagining the life Jeremiah had before the "Event". "I'm sorry,"
Jeremiah shrugged again, dropping another peach into the bucket. "It's okay, not like we can change it...and if I hadn't had mom and dad for parents, I wouldn't have met Uncle Bruce." Jeremiah smiled at that, a hand going down to the night vision viewer he had strapped to his shorts.
Richard snickered, setting down the full bucket and grabbing another, this time climbing the tree to sit in the crook of the trunk, making the loading easier. "He is kinda cool, isn't he?"
"So are you! I've seen the news reports on the internet! All those flips and the flying, it's amazing to watch you,"
Richard colored faintly, hiding behind the bucket. "S'just what I do," he muttered, embarrassed. He had never really met a Robin fan (though, he knew they existed...some of those girls online were creepy), and thus, was ill-equipped to handle praise...although it felt rather good. "I could teach you some of it, if you wanted, it's not that hard."
"Really?" Jeremiah asked, bouncing so much he almost fell off of the ladder.
"Sure, though we might want to try it on the ground, first," Richard said with a laugh, holding the ladder steady.
"This isn't funny anymore, Jonathan."
Bruce raised an eyebrow as he tilted his chair back, looking into the living room to see Sarah, tears staining her face, jabbing a finger into Jonathan's chest.
"You want to know why I gave up and married Marcus? It's because of this bullshit! You kept fucking around like this and I couldn't take it. Do you know how many nights I sat by my phone, waiting for Arkham to call and tell me you ended up killing yourself? Every time it rang I was sure it was them, or the Gotham police, or even a hospital asking me to go identify a drug overdose who had my name in their pocket. I couldn't...I can't keep watching you destroy yourself! I love you, dammit, and you don't care!"
Bruce stood, intending on breaking up the fight, even if Sarah had a point, a few seconds too late to stop Scarecrow from shoving the smaller woman against the wall, slamming her wrists against the wall with an almost sickening crunch, keeping her sharp nails away from his face.
"You married him because you were too pathetic to actually care when it came down to it," Scarecrow hissed, leaning in so close his nose brushed Sarah's. "You were too scared that the man you claimed to love actually had something wrong that you couldn't solve with milk and cookies. Hell, I'm surprised you didn't run the second Marcus was conscious, it seems to be your track record."
"Let go of me!" Sarah yelled, struggling.
"Let her go, 'Crow," Bruce said in warning, grabbing the other man's arm, only to be shoved back as Scarecrow moved, glaring at both of them. "Pathetic little fools! Pretending to care about him only to flee the first chance you get. You can't have him! He only needs me anyway,"
Bruce moved closer to Sarah, edging around Scarecrow, ignoring the rambling spilling from his lips as he checked her wrists. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine...nothing new," she muttered, rubbing her wrists, glaring at Scarecrow. "He never actually tries to hurt me, just shake me up," She moved closer to Scarecrow, only to be stopped by Bruce's hand on her upper arm. She turned to say something to him, not seeing the front door open.
"Papa, something's wrong with Di-" Jeremiah's sentence was cut off by a hand wrapped around his throat, squeezing the life out of him.
"Wormy little piece of shit, Papa doesn't care! Hate you, hate her, too possessive, thinking he belongs to you." Scarecrow threw Jeremiah to the side and promptly collapsed face first on the floor. "Not touching my son," he muttered to the hard wood.
Sarah ran to check on the boy who had thankfully landed on the couch while Bruce grabbed Scarecrow's arms, holding him against the floor, ignoring the blood spreading around his head from he man's nose. "Is he alright?"
"Fine, shaken," Sarah said, gently stroking Jeremiah's hair. "It's alright, honey,"
Jeremiah blinked, staring at Bruce and his father, repeating silently to himself that the straw man Bruce was shoving into the floor wasn't real, that it was his father and that his father loved him. The bugs crawling u and down the walls weren't real either...he hoped."Dick," Jeremiah whimpered, drawing his knees up to his chest, rocking back and forth slightly.
"Get. Off. Me." Jonathan gasped, trying to buck Bruce off his back, failing miserably. "I need to see him!"
"I'm not quite comfort-" Bruce was interrupted by a pained scream from outside and four heads jerked around, remembering Jeremiah's words before Scarecrow had cut him off. "Richard!" Bruce abandoned Jonathan to race outside, finding his ward curled up at the bottom of the porch, left wrist twisted oddly and his ankle visibly broken.
"Took you long enough," Richard gasped, rolling onto his back, biting a scream back as the movement disrupted his ankle. "What's going on?"
"Nothing to worry about, what happened?" Bruce asked, kneeling next to his ward.
"Fell out of a tree," Richard muttered, blushing faintly.
Bruce looked around, confused. "There are no trees near here,"
"Was over there," Richard said, gesturing with his good hand towards the peach trees. "I heard noises,"
"So you thought it appropriate to drag yourself over here?" Bruce said, gaping at his ward.
"I was worried," Richard said softly, whimpering as cool hands touched his ankle. He glanced down at Jonathan, relaxing slightly at the sight of the other man, something that worried Bruce himself. Richard should not trust the other man.
"How, exactly, did you fall out of a tree?" Bruce asked, distracting Richard from what Jonathan was doing, holding the boy's hand.
"I was teaching Jeremiah some tumbling and went to show him an easy falling trick from the small grapple," Richard said, panting softly as Jonathan wrapped his sprained wrist. "It was going great until I hit the retracter by accident and ended up at the top of the tree, it jerked, I slipped and landed wrong,"
"This is why you wear gloves with it, idiot," Bruce said, gently brushing his fingers through Richard's hair.
"Yeah, yeah, lesson learned, ow fuck!" Richard fought the urge to kick Jonathan who was touching his ankle again.
"Language, Richard. Where did you pick up a word like that anyway?"
"Roy," Richard muttered, yelling as Jonathan started wrapping a sock around his leg.
"We need to take him inside so I can cast this...and preferably knock him un-concious," Jonathan muttered.
Bruce nodded, easily scooping up his ward and carrying the boy after Jonathan. He placed Richard in one of the dusty hospital beds in the downstairs clinic, returning to holding his hand as Jonathan filled a syringe with sedative, slipping it easily into Richard's arm, watching as the boy's eyelids started to flutter.
"M'sorry for getting hurt, dad," Richard whispered as the sedative took effect, curling up on his side.
"It's alright, son," Bruce whispered, placing a gentle kiss on Richard's temple.
Jonathan ignored the pair's touching family moment, getting the plaster bandages ready, a small smile on his face. He turned to get a pair of scissors and paused, looking at his own son who was standing nervously in the doorway, red bruising ringing his neck.
"Can I help?" Jeremiah asked softly, looking up at his father.
Jonathan swallowed thickly and nodded, offering the scissors to his son, who accepted them and all but threw himself onto Jonathan, holding him tightly. "It's alright, papa," he whispered, and Jonathan collapsed to his knees, clutching tightly at the boy, face buried into Jeremiah's neck as he cried.
Chapter 8: Harvest
Chapter Eight: Harvest
Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace. - Kent Nerburn
Bruce grinned as he leaned back in his chair, watching the lower wheat field over the rim of his glass as he sipped the sweet tea, sweat rolling down his cheek. He hadn't the slightest clue what the group of people were doing downstairs in the field, but anything that involved Jonathan running around sweaty and without a shirt was a good thing in his book.
He was distracted from watching his boyfriend's muscles flexing in the later summer sun by a thumping coming from behind him and he turned, almost standing to assist Richard before sitting again, remembering his ward's independent spirit. "Take a seat, join me as we watch others work,"
Richard grinned, sitting next to his guardian, pouring himself a glass from the lemonade pitcher. "What are they doing down there?" he asked, glancing down at Jeremiah who seemed to be dancing around with a pair of hand-held sickles rather then actually working.
"Harvesting...I think it involves cutting down all of that wheat and then doing something else with it, but I wasn't exactly paying attention when Jonathan explained it," Bruce said with a shrug.
Richard snickered, sipping his drink, the silence falling between them like a heavy blanket in the Georgian heat. Richard swallowed thickly before opening his mouth. "Look, Bruce I..."
Bruce turned to look at his ward, curiously. "You...?"
"Damn, was hoping someone would interrupt me." Richard muttered before taking the plunge. "I'm sorry I called you dad last night. It was just a spur of the moment..."
"Richard, breath," Bruce advised as his ward started to run off in a sentence that mashed together. "It's alright, I understand how in such a situation you would want your father, I'm just sorry he could be there for you, but you know he would have been."
"I wasn't talking to my dad, I was talking to you," Richard clarified, finally looking up at Bruce. "I mean yeah, it would have been nice to have him around, but he's gone and I know that, even when half out of it. I've got you now, and that's okay. I know you don't want to be my dad or father figure or whatever and it's cool..."
"I never said that," Bruce muttered, before sighing, rubbing at his forehead. "Richard, I would be honored to have you for a son, you have to know that. You're a great kid the sort any man wishes his son could or will be...I would just never presume to take the place of your father, I can't be him, nor would I want to be."
"I wouldn't ask that of you," Richard said before leaning forward, towards Bruce. "But...can't we be our own family?" he asked softly, childlike curiosity peeking through. "I know it wouldn't really change anything and I'm not asking for it if it puts you in an odd position, but...it would be nice, to have a family again,"
Bruce reached out, gently taking Richard's hand. "We are a family, and if it really means that much to you...I can call my lawyers tonight and see what needs to be done. I guess we can't wait forever to send you home,"
Richard squeezed Bruce's hand gently, before leaping up and tackling Bruce. "I am home," he whispered, hugging his adoptive father tightly.
"Jeremiah, if you fling those around one more time I'm going to send you to go butcher pigs with Tom!" Jonathan called out as he leaned on his scythe, watching his son trying to juggle the sickles he was carrying.
"Sorry Papa!" Jeremiah called and slid the sickles into the straps on his shorts, running up after Jonathan, gathering armfuls of wheat as he went. He gathered them into several bushels, quickly writing out the tags for who they belonged to, before chasing after his father for more, using the small sickles to cut free any stalks that Jonathan had missed.
Around noon he collapsed face first into a pile of wheat, groaning melodramatically about dying and Jonathan was forced to stop long enough to drag his son out of the way of the scythe before returning to work. Jeremiah took advantage of his father's distraction long enough to tackle the taller man into the field of wheat before taking off as fast as he could, hearing the roar of his father after him.
Almost tripping up the porch steps, he slid into the kitchen, dancing around Susan. "Lunch? Is it lunch time yet? I'm starving, can we have lunch?" he recited at hyper speed, yelping as his father grabbed him around the waist, dangling him upside down.
"Sooo, is there lunch?" Jonathan asked innocently, laughing as he was swatted by a kitchen towel, carrying his son upstairs to wash up for the meal.
"And to think, you're dating him," Richard muttered from the dining table where he was resting his leg, smirking at Bruce. "I hope weirdness isn't sexually transmitted,"
"So you take a handful, stand over the barrel, and beat the shit out of it," Jeremiah explained to Richard, demonstrating how to free wheat berries from the stalks in-order to prepare it for milling.
"Jeremiah, stop abusing the wheat!" Jonathan called from where he was standing with Marcus and Sarah, discussing how they were going to harvest the last two fields without Marcus being able to drive the combine harvester and thus receive the payment they needed for the work (Jonathan was more then willing to pay them anyway, but Marcus wouldn't hear of it).
Jeremiah made a face at his father. "Okay, so gently beat the stalks against the sides of the barrel," he muttered, before promptly beating the stalks so hard Richard started getting pelted with the wheat berries.
"You know, you could just...buy flour in the store," Richard muttered as he sat on a stool, beating his own stalks of wheat into the barrel, making sure not to fling the berries around.
"It's cheaper, since we're already growing it for market," Jeremiah said with an easy shrug, tossing the empty stalks into a pile to make dolls out of later. "Half of the wheat, most of the corn, all but a small bit of the tobacco and some of the pumpkins get sold either to wholesalers, big companies or Susan takes it to the farmers market for us. The rest we give to neighbors in exchange for what they grow or we donate to the shared harvest...or we eat it."
"Food bank, feeds poor people," Jeremiah said, remembering cold mornings in Gotham with his mother, standing in line for hours in hopes of getting bread that wasn't green and milk that wasn't chunky.
"Oh, that's kinda cool, I guess...I mean if you have it, might as well share, right?"
"Right," Jeremiah said, nodding. "Anyway, since we already grow it, dad sees no reason to not use it for ourselves, though I wish he'd sell more of the tobacco." he made a face at that, more viciously abusing the wheat in his hands.
"I think...dad...is working on him about it," Richard said, marveling at calling Bruce 'dad' for the first time intentionally.
Jeremiah smiled at Richard, before gathering up the used stalks. "Come on, I'll show you how to make straw dolls, they're kinda cool, plus girls like them for some reason."
"Right, so that's two Source-ray SR-130D/55C, two Voluson E8 Expert BT08 and four Hill-Rom 850 Centra's. Yes, the account is Wayne Enterprises, yes, however I need those shipped to Greensboro, Georgia. Just have it delivered to the local post office in care of Bruce Wayne..yes I'm aware of the size of what I'm ordering, but trust me, you will never find the place. No, really, the road is unnamed and there are three identical roads in the area. Yes, thank you." Bruce hung up his cellphone, shaking his head. "Had to pick the most backwater town he could find to set up shop,"
He took a seat on the couch, grabbing a weathered phone book, flipping through the pages before finally spotting the moving companies, hoping he would have an easier time with local drivers then he did trying to explain to various companies how to find an unnamed road in the middle of nowhere Georgia.
"I feel like an over cooked turkey," Jonathan muttered as he collapsed face first into Bruce's bed, hair still dripping from his shower. He hissed as the front of his body made contact with the cotton sheets, rolling over and promptly whimpering in pain.
Bruce rolled his eyes, grabbing the aloe vera gel he had set aside earlier and sitting up, squeezing a large quantity over Jonathan's chest before gently rubbing the thick gel into his skin, smiling as the other man moaned in pleasured relief. "I would have thought a doctor would know better then to spend twelve hours in the sun," Bruce said, re-coating his fingers before rubbing them across Jonathan's shoulders.
"Work had to be finished," Jonathan murmured sleepily, rolling over onto his chest once it was coated so that Bruce could work on his back."
"You could have worn a shirt like everyone else, idiot," Bruce said, using both hands to gently massage the tired and over baked muscles.
Bruce shook his head again, simply massaging his boyfriend's skin, smiling as Jonathan hummed contently, his eyes drifting closed. Bruce trailed the cool lotion down over Jonathan's arms, before reaching up and sliding the man's glasses from his face, placing a gentle kiss on the skin just behind Jonathan's ear. "Sleep well," he murmured, setting the glasses aside and climbing into the bed, snuggling down with a book.
"Thank you," Jonathan whispered softly, opening an eye to look at Bruce before wrapping an arm around Bruce's hips, closing his eyes again and letting sleep claim him.
Bruce watched him for a long moment before returning to his book, only looking up as something shifted in the doorway. He glanced up, looking at Jeremiah who was standing there, clutching a teddy bear almost as large as he was, before he reached over, patting the bed.
Jeremiah bit his lip, shaking his head for a moment before glancing back behind him and running into the room, almost diving into the bed. He snuggled towards the foot of the bed between Bruce and Jonathan, curling close to his father as Jonathan shifted to make room for his son in his sleep.
Bruce smiled at them, turning back to his book again before being interrupted a few minutes later by a fake cough at the door. Looking up, he raised an eyebrow at Richard who gave him a grin.
"I had a nightmare," Richard said dryly, before jumping on the bed, almost hitting Jeremiah with his casted foot. He curled up close to the other teen, sandwiched between Bruce's thigh and Jeremiah's arm, wrapping an arm around his father before yawning. "What are your reading?"
"How to kill your son and hide the body if he won't shut up," Jonathan muttered, glaring at Richard over Jeremiah's head. "This isn't a big bed, how the hell are you two fitting in?"
"You're tiny," Jeremiah muttered. "And loud. Slee-eepy time," he sang before shoving a pillow over his father's head.
Bruce snickered and reached out, turning out the lamp before shoving the other three over so he could properly lay down, yelping as they shoved back and he fell out of the bed. Richard snickered as he scooted over to take Bruce's place, dragging Jeremiah with him, who dragged Jonathan more onto the bed.
Chapter 9: Someone Else's Story
Chapter Nine: Someone Else's Story
In someone else's lifetime
Someone with my name
Who looked a lot like me
"Someone Else's Story" Chess the Musical
"Be careful with that!"
"Are you sure that goes there?"
"I don't think the handrails attach to the foot! Yes I'm sure they're handrails! It's written on the side, idiot. Right there, Hand. Rail."
"Stop waving that around you'll break it."
"I'm not explaining to him why that doesn't work if you keep banging it into a wall!"
Jonathan blinked, standing on the other side of the door to his make-shift clinic, debating between wondering what the hell was going on inside or just running up the stairs, fleeing from the chaos. He took a deep breath and shoved the door open, startling the group inside.
"Papa!" Jeremiah yelled cheerily from where he was helping Richard put together a hospital bed, holding the handrail (despite what Richard thought it might be), waving it.
"What. Are. You. Doing?" Jonathan asked, angry in-spite of himself at the people in his personal space.
"Setting up your clinic," Bruce said from where he was fitting the attachments for one of the portable x-ray machines into their slots. He attached the last wand before standing, brushing off his hands. "What do you think?"
Jonathan looked around at all of the bright and shiny new equipment, beds, linens, supplies...everything he could have ever wanted for his clinic before looking up at Bruce, knowing damn well who footed the bill for the top of the line equipment. "Send it back," he hissed, turning on his foot and storming out of the clinic, leaving the others confused behind him.
Bruce chased after Jonathan, grabbing the man's arm, trying to stop him, only to find himself thrown against the wall, teary blue eyes looking at him in rage. "How dare you!"
"Excuse me?" Bruce asked.
"How dare you do this to me! Treat me like some fucking whore. Did you think if you spent enough that I would give you whatever you wanted in return? That I would appreciate you reminding me how pathetic I am, that I can't even afford to open the clinic because I can't buy a few dozen bandages?" Jonathan sniffed, angrily wiping his eyes before running up the stairs, eager to escape Bruce.
"The hell?" Bruce muttered before chasing his boyfriend, finally finding him in Jonathan's bedroom, sitting on the bed, his head in his hands. "What is going on with you?"
There was a long, startled gasp before the man on the bed raised his head, eyes glittering in amusement as he looked up at Bruce before he leaned back on his hands. "What do you even care?"
"Scarecrow," Bruce said, threateningly.
"Bruce," Scarecrow countered before shrugging. "Ever think that none of this is worth it?"
"What do you mean, 'Crow?"
"I mean, excluding shoving a spray nozzle up Jonathan's nose, you don't know him. It's only been what? A month? And yet you're trying to buy your way into his bed or his heart, both of which are disgusting by the way, and for what? Jonathan's never going to love you or care about you. He hates you."
"He doesn't..." Bruce trailed off as Scarecrow started to laugh.
"Right, of course he doesn't. And just when, Brucey, did he ever give you the impression he cared for you? When he kissed you? When he held you in bed as you talked about Richard? Or what about when you two...oh wait, that was me. And just think, Bruce, each of those times occurred after Jonathan had been taken off his proper medications and was still adjusting to the new ones...when I was free,"
"Spit it out," Bruce growled and Scarecrow all but cackled in delight, sitting up.
"You don't get it! This is delicious, so much for the world's greatest detective!" Scarecrow stood, body loose limbed and relaxed compared to Jonathan's normal stiff, precise movements. He leaned close to Bruce, pushing the other man against the wall. "You're falling for a figment, idiot," Scarecrow said softly, his lips brushing Bruce's. "I'm the one who kisses you, not him. You're trying to seduce an enemy,"
"You're lying," Bruce said, feeling his heart clench in pain for reasons he couldn't figure out, nor wished to.
"He. Can't. Stand. You," Scarecrow said, before pressing his lips fully to Bruce's, groaning softly. "You are not worthy," he whispered in between kisses, using what little remained of his unclouded mind to shove Jonathan further under him. "You are MINE," And for once...Scarecrow wasn't sure who he meant.
"Thank you, for the equipment," Scarecrow said with a grin as he pulled away from the kiss, licking his lips. "I appreciate it..." he trailed his fingers down Bruce's shirt, fingers slowly flicking the small plastic circles free of their holes, baring Bruce's chest. "May I thank you?"
Bruce groaned at the casual innocence Scarecrow forced into the words as they slipped out of ever wicked lips, an arm wrapping around the smaller man to pull him close. He had no idea what he was doing, why he was giving into the younger man's game, but something about Scarecrow had Bruce twisted around the lunatic's pinkie and Scarecrow knew it.
Scarecrow grinned, licking his lips before pushing open Bruce's shirt, running his blunt nails over the man's tanned flesh, moaning softly as he drunk in the sight of the fiery red lines bursting into life on Bruce's flesh. Bruce reached down, gripping Scarecrow's jaw tightly as he tilted the man's head up, capturing his mouth in a hungry kiss, walking the other man back towards the bed. Scarecrow giggled as he fell back amongst the pillows and blankets, pulling Bruce down over him, groaning at the feel of Bruce's heavy weight pressing him down.
"I want you," Scarecrow whispered, kissing Bruce again, hooking a leg around the other man to roll them over before sitting up, straddling Bruce's hips, staring down at him as he gently started rocking their thighs together. Scarecrow wanted to tear into Bruce, to bury himself in the other man's flesh, bathing in the warmth of Bruce's blood as it coated his naked body.
Bruce gently stroked Scarecrow's thighs, allowing his fingers to slide under the other man's short to caress bare flesh, holding tightly as he dragged their groins harder together. "Then have me, 'Crow," Bruce said, watching as something flashed in Scarecrow's eyes at his words.
Scarecrow moaned, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment before he stilled his body, laying down to kiss Bruce, mouth working from the man's lips, to his neck, to the hardening nipples that Scarecrow had been day dreaming about. He wrapped his lips around the tender flesh, gently working at them with his teeth while Bruce writhed and moaned under him.
A smirk curled over his lips as he pulled back, reaching up go twist Bruce's nipples rather violently, giggling as Bruce's body jerked, hips bucking. "I see you like a bit of pain, Mr. Wayne," Scarecrow said, their hips grinding together, Scarecrow aroused by the thought of how much fun he could have with such a kink.
Dismissing it for now, he dove back in, licking a long line down Bruce's chest and stomach, pausing at Bruce's navel to circle his tongue around the area, yelping as he was almost unseated by Bruce's squirming as the other man tried to get away from the tickling sensation. His fingers pulled down Bruce's pants as he moved his mouth, gently stroking Bruce's length, before wrapping his mouth around the head, sucking softly, slowly, teasing Bruce as he looked up the man's body to Bruce's face.
Bruce groaned, raising a hand to run through Scarecrow's hair, gently pulling on it in punishment for the slow pace, before shifting against the pillows so that he could sit up slightly, watching his lover's work. The sight was something he had been daydreaming about since he had first seen Jonathan's lips. "Fuck," Bruce groaned, trying to thrust up into that perfectly hot mouth only to be held down by Scarecrow whom chuckled.
"Not yet, but maybe after," Scarecrow said, before licking a long line up Bruce's length, wrapping his mouth around him again as he slowly took Bruce deeper. There was a pause, a moment of hesitation before Jonathan swallowed, eyes rolling up to watch Bruce as he sunk lower, taking as much in as he could, hand stroking the rest.
Bruce gave an aborted whimper at the feeling of those ice blue eyes staring at him as Jonathan worked his length, gently running his fingers over Jonathan's scalp, encouraging the other man who started humming, causing Bruce to jerk again.
Jonathan smirked as Bruce reacted, switching his humming to a popular song he had heard from Jonathan's radio, pulling away fro a moment to rotate his jaw before diving back in, lapping at Bruce as the hand in his hair started to tighten, Bruce's hips fighting against Jonathan's hold.
As Bruce got closer, there was another hesitation from Jonathan, causing Bruce to growl in warning before Scarecrow giggled against Bruce's flesh, forcing Bruce deeper into his throat, gagging slightly before swallowing, sucking hungrily.
Bruce came, clutching at Scarecrow, bending over with the force of his climax, before falling back, watching lazily as Scarecrow climbed up his body, kissing Bruce hungrily. Bruce groaned contently, rolling them over and reaching down to stroke the other man.
Jonathan sat up, pulling Bruce's shirt around his nude body and setting his glasses on his nose before signing, gently brushing a finger down Bruce's cheek. "I could fall in love with you," he whispered softly. Standing, Jonathan started buttoning the shirt, trying desperately not to look like he was fleeing the bedroom as he headed downstairs for a cup of coffee, ignoring the snickering in the back of his head.
"You realize you just fled your own bedroom?"
"Shut up," Jonathan muttered, pouring himself a cup of day old coffee and sticking it in the microwave, watching as the blue ceramic cup spun in circles on the turntable. "What the hell are you playing at, anyway?"
"No idea what you mean,"
Jonathan snorted at the attempt at innocence in Scarecrow's tone, wrapping his arms around himself. "You're trying to push him away," Jonathan muttered, leaning back against the sink. "You're willing to fuck him, but not let him near me,"
"He's dangerous to you, angel. There's no reason for him to be near you. It's better he thinks it's me trying to get close to him, that way he can't hurt you,"
"And this doesn't hurt me?" Jonathan asked softly, listening in the silence that followed for some snappy reply before pulling his coffee from the microwave and heading out onto the porch, curling up on the swing, using one of his long legs to push against the worn wood before tucking the leg up under him, listening to the night as he sipped his coffee. It was an hour later when Scarecrow's reply finally came, startling Jonathan with it's suddenness.
Jonathan smiled, sipping the last of his coffee, not bothering to reply, instead leaning against the in-distinct figure curled on the swing with him, gently swinging as both he and Scarecrow simply relaxed with each other, content.
"I'm sorry about yesterday," Jonathan said softly as he stood next to Bruce, washing the breakfast dishes.
"Don't be, I should have asked instead of assuming," Bruce said, mind going back over Scarecrow's words, a sigh escaping him.
"It's not that I don't appropriate it, it's just...we've only known each other a month, Bruce, not counting what happened three years ago. I'm not sure what you want from me, especially when you do things like buy me something equal to the budget of a small hospital,"
"I don't want anything, Jonathan. I just thought it would be a nice gesture," He set down his dish towel, turning towards the other man, leaning his hip against the counter. "You said you read my files, that you know everything about me, I've done the same to you and I know what medicine meant to you. I didn't want to see you waste your skills just because you couldn't afford something I could easily give you,"
Jonathan opened his mouth to reply before closing it, thinking over what Bruce said, without for once looking for hidden traps or pitfalls. "Thank you," he whispered, before suddenly hugging Bruce, burring his face in Bruce's shoulder.
Bruce hesitated for a moment, before wrapping his arms around Jonathan's waist, burring his own face in Jonathan's neck, fighting the impulse to kiss the smaller man. "Just make sure you make it worth it," Bruce muttered, gently rubbing Jonathan's back. "There better never be another sick person in Greensboro,"
Jonathan laughed, pulling away from the hug slightly, looking up at Bruce, biting his lip before standing on his tiptoes, his lips mere meters from Bruce's before he was suddenly knocked out of Bruce's arms and onto the floor by two whirlwinds known as Jeremiah and Richard who had gone running through the kitchen shouting something about a potato canon.
Jonathan blinked from his place on the floor before getting to his legs and dashing after the pair, unsure wither it was to stop them or help.
Chapter 10: Family Matters
Chapter Ten: Family Matters
"It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea." -Dylan Thomas
It was odd, Jonathan thought as he grabbed his jeans and tip-toed out of Bruce's room, intending to get a shower before Jeremiah's nightmares woke him, for his body to be getting this much sex (not that Scarecrow and Bruce had actually had sex yet) and for him not to enjoy a single moment of it.
Ever since the shared blowjob two weeks ago, Scarecrow had been keeping a tighter hold on how much Jonathan was allowed to participate in his own life, and it was starting to chafe. It was after all, his life, and while he enjoyed Scarecrow's concern and protection, he would in fact, like to live it.
Sighing, he pulled on his jeans as Jeremiah's screams started, dismissing the idea of actually getting that shower, hurrying across the hall to his son's room and climbing into the small bed, pulling Jeremiah close, whispering gentle words as he tried to sooth the boy's fears.
He had only been in there a moment when the bedroom door opened again and a zombie appeared, dragging itself across the room and managing to fold it's smaller body by Jeremiah's feet, curling around them, holding his legs like a teddy bear.
Jonathan watched, amused as Richard gently stroked Jeremiah's thighs in comfort, and Jonathan leaned back, releasing his son as Jeremiah shifted, scooting down the bed so he could curl around Richard, the two boys holding each other in their sleep.
Jonathan reached down, running his fingers through Richard's hair as the boy used his legs as a pillow, smiling softly. He wished he could give himself so easily to his relationship with Bruce as the two almost brothers had, easily putting the past and present behind them as they simply enjoyed being with each other.
Then again, he wasn't eleven and the biggest obstacle between them wasn't wither or not his boyfriend was going to kill him.
As Jeremiah settled against his almost brother, Jonathan slipped his legs out from under Richard, replacing them with an actual pillow before giving both boy a kiss on the cheek, tossing a light blanket over their bodies before slipping from the room, yawning as he headed downstairs.
He ended up almost running smack into Sarah, who was heading upstairs to wake him and grinned, wrapping an arm around her waist. "Come on, we need to talk," he said, steering her to the back porch, accepting the plate of breakfast she had been carrying to him.
"So, let me get this straight," Sarah said, curled up on the porch lounge with Jonathan, leaning against him. As she sipped her coffee. "You're other half, whom by the way is not a multiple personality, I didn't actually sleep through psych 101, is keeping you from dating Bruce, whom you are attracted to and interested in, because he's trying to protect you?"
"When you put it that way, it sounds more insane then it is, but yes," Jonathan said, keeping an arm around her waist as they sat together, thumb gently rubbing circles across her stomach. "Thought I don't really see how it protects me," he added.
"Because it keeps you from being hurt, but...Jonathan, have you ever thought it might not be for you that he's doing that?"
"What, so he can get more sex out of the deal?"
Sarah swatted at him before sighing. "How much do you remember when he takes control?" she asked softly, placing her hand over Jonathan's, entwining their fingers.
"Some...it depends on how far down I'm pushed under him...sometimes I don't remember anything but blurs, why?"
"Do you remember what happened when you had you're little freak out?" She asked softly, looking down at him.
"Not really, I remember talking with you about Marcus' leg, we got into a fight over something...and then, nothing, why?"
Sarah sighed, leaning back against Jonathan. "We got into a fight over your toxin, idiot. You told me about the 'mace' concept,"
"Oh yeah...I still think that it's a viable business venture," he said with a huff. "But, go on."
"Well after your idiot half decided to insult me and try to break my wrist, he went off on a tirade about how you only needed him and about how you belonged to him," She said, looking behind her into Jonathan's face. "I don't think he's protecting you so much as trying to keep you to himself,"
"How the hell would that even work?" Jonathan asked, raising an eyebrow at her. "He is a figment after all,"
"Don't ask me, I'm not the one renting out head space to a mental patient," Sarah said with a shrug, laying back and stretching out on the lounge with Jonathan, noticing that it seemed to have shrunk since they were in their twenties.
Either that or the pair had gotten larger, but that was impossible.
Jonathan tightened the hold he had around her waist, both to keep her close and to keep her from falling off the edge. "My other half has no reason to be possessive anyway, it's not like I can get rid of him," he said, burring his nose in her hair, inhaling the familiar scent of her strawberry shampoo.
"No, but you can bury him under so many layers of medication his shouts wouldn't even be a whisper," she pointed out. She started giggling, squeezing his fingers. "Honestly, Jonathan, only you could be so narcissistic as to fall in love with yourself,"
Jonathan made an affronted noise before releasing her hand, promptly tickling her sides. Sarah screamed with laughter, struggling to get away from his fingers, half hanging off the lounge.
"Hey, stop molesting my wife," a voice called and the pair froze, looking over the railing to Marcus.
"Hey honey," Sarah called, face red from the blood rushing to it as she dangled upside down. "What's up?"
"Making sure he's not stealing you away again," Marcus said cheerfully, too used to the pair's behavior to be bothered, he had grown up with them after all. "A little help?"
Jonathan nodded, pulling Sarah back onto the lounge before crawling over her, helping Marcus and his wheelchair up the steps, wheeling him close to the lounge before crawling over his best friend again, intentionally elbowing her as he did, smirking.
"You will pay for that," Sarah muttered, rubbing her side, before promptly beating Jonathan with a pillow, much to her husband's laughter.
Jeremiah cursed as the sewing machine needle snapped off again, metal flying across the room. He retracted the foot, pulling the broken needle free of the machine and tossing it aside before digging a fresh one out of his sewing supplies, re-adjusting the Lycra and Kevlar over the thick padding, trying to line them up so that the pants didn't end up with lumps in odd places as he attached the layers together.
As the final stitches fell into place, Jeremiah almost ruined two months worth of work as he pulled the pants free, slicing the strings before holding the cloth up, examining the black bodysuit, eying it for flaws before dashing over to the manikin in the closet, dressing it in the skintight outfit.
Pulling the bright red tunic from it's hanger, he added it to the manikin, followed by the black cloak over it, grinning. "It's perfect,"
Jeremiah screamed, slamming his closet door behind him, clutching at his chest for a moment before peeking out, looking at Richard who was staring at him with a raised eyebrow. "Uh...nothing,"
"Didn't seem like nothing," Richard said, standing on his tip toes, trying to see over Jeremiah's head, only getting a glimpse of something black and red behind the other boy.
"You're going to take it the wrong way," Jeremiah muttered. "It's really nothing, I was just goofing off..."
"Jeremiah..." Richard said before giving up trying to convince the other teen and simply picking him up, carrying Jeremiah over to the bed and dropping him before turning and finally getting a good look into the closet.
"I told you, it's nothing, just a hobby.." Jeremiah started, ready to jump up and slam the closet door shut.
"You design Robin costumes in your spare time?" Richard muttered, reaching out and tracing the symbol on the left side of the tunic before dragging the manikin out of the closet to fully examine it, making a face at the cloak, but otherwise showing no expression about the outfit.
"I design a lot of costumes in my spare time," Jeremiah muttered, chewing on his fingernails, watching Richard. "And anything is better then that traffic light get-up you run around in," he muttered.
Richard paused in his examination, looking at Jeremiah over the manikin. "Does it fit?"
Jeremiah blinked, before nodding. "It's your size, judging by your clothes, though the padding and armor might make it a bit tight,"
"You designed me a new uniform, in my size, with armor and never intended to show it to me?" Richard said, confused, dismantling the costume, tossing the pieces on the bed before pulling his tank top over his head.
"I told you, it's a hobby," Jeremiah muttered, helping Richard by actually unzipping and unbuttoning the pieces, handing Richard the compression shorts he had also designed specifically for Richard's talents.
"Oo-kay, you're a bit too thorough," Richard muttered, sliding on the shorts, adjusting himself as he did so nothing important to him got squashed. "Not even Bruce went that far,"
Jeremiah rolled his eyes, kneeling in front of Richard to adjust the short's hip pads, using a piece of tailor's chalk to mark the sides where he needed to adjust a seam that went weird. "It makes no sense to make the body suit and not pay attention to what's going on under it," he said before grabbing said bodysuit off the bed, helping Richard get his feet into the tight fabric.
"True, still weird," Richard said, wiggling his body into the suit, wishing he had thought to grab some powder before trying to get the outfit on. "Wait, grab my knee,"
Jeremiah grabbed the knee part of the material, helping yank it up Richard's calves before standing, hands skimming Richard's thighs, pulling the fabric up as he moved. "How the hell do you get these on in a rush?" he muttered, moving around Richard's back, holding the back of the suit as Richard jumped to get the legs fully on.
"I usually have baby powder or something to help it glide," Richard muttered, yelping as the suit pinched wrong. "Ow, crotch, needs loosening," he muttered, pulling to give himself some more room before getting his arms in the sleeves, allowing Jeremiah to adjust how it fit across his stomach and chest, the stick of chalk flashing as Jeremiah made notations on the fabric that only made sense to the boy.
"Here," Jeremiah said, handing Richard the robin red tunic, turning to dig through his sewing desk for something allowing Richard to pull on the thick cotton and Kevlar shirt himself. He turned back, grinning as he held out the leather boots and gauntlets.
"Please tell me you didn't make the shoes," Richard muttered, sitting on the bed and grabbing the boots, pulling them on, wiggling his bare toes against the soft inner lining before strapping on the gauntlets.
"Nope, I'm not that good yet," Jeremiah said before helping Richard stand in the boots, moving around the other teen as he examined the outfit. He grabbed the cloak off of the bed, moving Richard towards the mirror before swinging the fabric around Richard's shoulders.
"I hate capes," Richard muttered, already anticipating the pull at his throat.
"It's a cloak, not a cape," Jeremiah said, and started hooking the cloak, smiling as he smoothed it over Richard's shoulders. "Capes are too dangerous, you could choke," he slid a finger between Richard's throat and the cloak, giving a slight tug. "This is designed to break open if you get caught,"
"There's a plus," Richard muttered before finally looking at his appearance, turning a bit to the sides to get a fully view. "This..."
Jeremiah was biting his nails again, watching Richard, nervous about the other boy's reaction now that he was fully dressed (well, mostly, there was still the mask hiding in Richard's desk).
"Can I keep it?" Richard asked softly, blue eyes meeting Jeremiah's, an almost pleading look in them.
Jeremiah froze for a moment before nodding so fast Richard was surprised the boy didn't give himself a concision. "I would be honored...er, you are going to wear it, right?"
"If I can convince dad," Richard muttered, frowning as he realized how big of a problem that would be, seeing as how Bruce didn't do well with change.
"Don't tell him," Jeremiah said with a shrug. "Wear it sometime when you appear after him and surprise him,"
"He doesn't like surprises," Richard muttered, a bit of a grin curling his lips.
Jeremiah laughed, reaching into his desk to pull out the new mask, offering it to Richard. "You wouldn't be doing your job as a son if you didn't shake him up," he said, standing next to Richard as he held up the mask to Richard's face.
"Maybe I can convince him the teenage street walker look only worked when I was nine," Richard said, accepting the mask.
"That or the fact you made the world's largest target? You really, really looked like a giant neon sign,"
Richard laughed, wrapping an arm around Jeremiah's waist and pulling him close in a friendly hug. "So, what other costumes have you done?"
"I made one for dad, one for me...just for fun, stop looking at me like that, and I made a few replica ones to sell online to fans. "
"You have a costume, let me see!" Richard said, tossing the mask over his shoulder and jumping into the closet. "Oh god, I hope it's not this purple leather thing!"
"Get out of there!" Jeremiah yelled, chasing Richard into the small walk in closet, intent on killing the boy.
"Oh my god, it's the dress, isn't it!"
"I can't believe you have a Batman replica! You freak!"
"Richard Greyson if you don't put that down right now I'm going to kill you! Do you know how much that costs?"
Bruce raised his head as two blurs went past him, one carrying what appeared to be a miniture version of his suit, the other apparently intent on murdering the first blur. He followed said blurs to the back porch, watching as Richard danced around the backyard with the replica costume, avoiding Jeremiah's swipes to get it back, laughign.
"Do I want to know?" Jonathan asked, not looking up from the braids he was creating in Sarah's hair, cursing as his figners slipped, twisting the braid.
"I don't...wait, are you braiding?"
"Not really," he trailed off as there was a shout of pain and his attention was jerked back to the yard, where he found Jeremiah straddling Richard's stomach, fist raised, intent on punching Richard in the stomach again.
"Jeremiah Richard Crane!"
The shout had come from both of their fathers, the words blending together until you could barely tell them apart, freezing the pair in the yard. "Shit, we've become one person," Richard muttered.
"Think we should run?" Jeremiah asked, anger fleeing him in sight of their father's anger.
The two boys jumped up to their feet, taking back off into the house, going the long way around to the front to avoid their parents, pushing each other as they tried to go up the stairs together.
Jonathan sighed, rubbing his forehead, a migraine starting behind his eyes. He sat back down, squeezing the bridge of his nose under his glasses as he tried to calm his temper.
"Relax, Jonathan, they're boys, boys rough house," Sarah said, rubbing his back lightly before grinning. "And brothers more so,"
"They're not brothers," Jonathan muttered, pushing his glasses up his nose.
"Could have fooled me," Sarah said with a smile, kissing his cheek. She then leaned in, cupping his ear in a childish fashion. "And if you keep it up with Bruce, they might as well be," she teased in a whisper, causing Jonathan to blush and Bruce to ask if he was okay.
Chapter 11: Now Panic and Carry On
Chapter Eleven: Now Panic and Carry On
Note: I forgot to mention this before, but the title for this chapter, and "Keep Calm and Freak Out" come from Ickaimp and her Detective Conan/Magic Kaito story of the same name, used blatantly without permission.
"I don't remember what was going through my mind, but what was going through my body was fear and terror." - John Abercrombie
Jonathan didn't know how long they'd been kissing, or even when they'd started. He remembered baking cookies, putting the tray in the oven and sitting next to Bruce on the couch to watch the television and talk, but somewhere between "Oh, the cookies are done" and "Are you stealing the chocolate chips" Bruce had leaned over and next thing Jonathan knew, his jaw was hurting and he was in Bruce's lap, groaning softly as Bruce's tongue ran over his.
He pulled away, panting softly as he looked up at Bruce, smiling softly. "We really should stop, the boys could walk in," he whispered, before leaning in, placing another soft kiss against Bruce's lips, ignoring his own words as he pulled the other man closer.
"Don't care," Bruce said softly between kisses, gently running his hands over Jonathan's lower back, enjoying the warmth of the man's skin though his thin shirt as their lips moved against one another.
"I need to finish the rest of the cookies," Jonathan murmured, tilting his head more to get better access to Bruce's lips, enjoying he simple pleasures of kissing the other man, despite the ache in his jaw.
"Don't care," Bruce repeated, before sighing and pulling away, releasing Jonathan. "We do need to talk," he said, brushing Jonathan's bangs from his face.
"Don't want to," Jonathan muttered, knowing what Bruce wanted to talk about, before sighing. He leaned against Bruce, staring at the pop psychologist they had been watching (and in Jonathan's case, mocking) before taking Bruce's hand, holding it. "This is about what Scarecrow said a few weeks ago, isn't it?" he asked, pouting slightly.
"A bit, yes," Bruce said, holding Jonathan's hand. "You have to understand, I don't want to push you if you don't want it, Jonathan, but I need to know where I stand here,"
"I obviously like you, so what do we need to discuss?" Jonathan asked, reaching out to turn off the television.
"Do you? Or is this some bizarre bleed over from your other half?"
Jonathan pulled away slightly, so he could better look at Bruce, pushing his glasses up his nose. "I do like you, Bruce. I don't know why or even agree that I should, but I do. And I want to pursue this relationship in spite what Scarecrow may want, but you have to understand, he's scared, you scare him,"
"How do I scare him?" Bruce asked, confused.
"You can hurt me easily, have hurt me easily. His only real...purpose in life is to protect me and he can't do that if I willingly throw myself into danger."
Bruce tucked a lock of hair over Jonathan's ear, before pulling him close. "I won't hurt you intentionally, Jonathan,"
"I know, but it doesn't mean you won't do it anyway,"
"I don't want you to go," Jeremiah whispered as he leaned on Richard, the pair alternating who pushed the porch swing.
"I'm not leaving for a week,"
"Don't care, don't want you to go,"
Richard smiled, pulling the older boy closer, leaning his head on Jeremiah's. "You have my email, you have my mailing address, you even have my cellphone number, it's not like you'll never talk to me again."
"Why can't you stay here?" Jeremiah whined, pouting.
"Because I live in Gotham?" Richard said, smiling still, amused by Jeremiah's antics.
"So move down here, I did!"
"Bruce has to get back to work, and besides, if we moved down here there wouldn't be a Batman,"
"Batman's not that important..." Jeremiah said, trying to stick his lower lip out more.
"I cannot believe you just said that," Richard said, laughing before ruffling Jeremiah's hair. "I'm sure you can come visit me, it's not like your father's just going to let Bruce run away,"
"Still won't be the same," Jeremiah said, giving up on pouting, sighing and kicking the porch swing again. "You'll answer if I call, right?"
"No, Jeremiah, I'm going to ignore your phone calls despite giving you my number to both mine and Robin's phones,"
"You could go back to Gotham and get back with your friends, realize what a loser I am and decide not to be friends anymore," Jeremiah said softly.
"Hey," Richard said, tilting Jeremiah's head up so the other boy was forced to look at him. "You're not a loser, so don't talk like that.
"Yes I am," Jeremiah whispered, staring at his hands. "I'm not like the other kids...I'm different."
"Yeah, but that doesn't make you a loser, it makes you cool," Richard said, giving Jeremiah's shoulders a squeeze.
Jeremiah blushed, before huffing. "Well, you could go against some crazy villain, hit your head and forget all about me!"
Richard laughed. "I'm sure Bruce and Alfred would remind me about you if that happened, so stop worrying."
"Promise not to forget me?" Jeremiah asked and Richard nodded.
"Ow!" Jonathan hissed as his back hit the wall, the light switch digging into his back. "Watch where you're banging me," he muttered before latching hungrily onto Bruce's lips, legs wrapping around the other man's hips.
"Sorry," Bruce murmured, hands gripping Jonathan's thighs as he ground against the smaller man, moaning deeply. He moved Jonathan away from the wall, carrying him towards the bed, promptly tripping over a shoe Jeremiah had left on the floor, dropping Jonathan.
"The hell?" Jonathan muttered, rubbing his hip before throwing the shoe across the room and knocking over the lamp. He winced, blinking at it only to yelp as Bruce picked him back up, tossing him over his shoulder before carrying him the rest of the way to the bed, dropping Jonathan onto it. He smirked down at the other man, pulling his shirt over his head.
Jonathan scooted back on the bed, unbuttoning his shirt and pulling it off, as Bruce climbed onto the bed, kissing him again. Jonathan wrapped his arms around Bruce's neck, spreading his legs so that Bruce could settle between them, moaning as Bruce's hand brushed over his erection.
"Papa, can Richard and I go to the store..." Jeremiah's question trailed off and Jonathan groaned, releasing Bruce and falling back against the pillows.
Bruce's head hung before he glanced over his shoulder at the two teens in the doorway. "Do you not know how to knock?"
"The door was open," Richard said, pointing to the open door, smirking. "Sooo, can we go to the store?"
Bruce reached into his pants pocket, fishing out his wallet before throwing it at is adopted son's head. "Get lost, and stay away,"
"How long? Five minutes?"
"Get out, Richard!"
"Aye aye," Richard saluted before dragging Jeremiah out of the room, heading down the hall.
"Close the door!"
"Sorry!" Richard came back, his hand covering his eyes dramatically, waving blindly for the door only to run into the wall. He snickered, grabbing the doorknob and shutting the door, his footsteps running down the hall.
Bruce turned back to Jonathan, only to find himself tackled backwards, Jonathan straddling his hips, the younger man smirking down at him. "Now, where were we?" Jonathan asked, tracing a finger down Bruce's chest before kissing him again, grinding their hips together.
Bruce moaned as Jonathan bit at his lips, reaching up to unbutton Jonathan's shorts, pulling the zipper down slowly teasing the other man before pushing his hand into Jonathan's boxers. He jumped as a knock came at the door, squeezing down in shock, wincing as Jonathan grabbed his wrist to try to pull him off.
"What?" Jonathan snapped at the door, before he glared at Bruce. "Let go!"
"Marcus wants to talk to you," Sarah called through the door.
"I'm kind of busy right now," Jonathan said, giving another whimper as Bruce's hand loosened, slowly stroking him.
"Sarah, not right now!" Jonathan said, his voice catching as Bruce ran his thumb over the tip of Jonathan's erection.
There was silence for a few minutes and Jonathan glared at his boyfriend, hips thrusting into Bruce's hand. "You're evil," he murmured, groaning deeply, eyes fluttering closed as Bruce stroked him.
"I do try," Bruce said with a grin, watching the pleasure crossing over Jonathan's face. "You're so beautiful."
Jonathan blushed and leaned down to kiss Bruce again, a growl slipping from him as the door opened, Susan poking her head around the door. "You have a patient on the phone wanting to come in," She said, and Jonathan whimpered at the very idea.
"Is it an emergency?" Jonathan asked, looking up, pushing his glasses up his nose and trying to ignore the blush high on his cheeks.
"It's Marta and she's having spotting,"
"Fuck, fickity, fuckity, fuc...stop that!" Jonathan murmured, trying to get Bruce's hand off of him again in between moans, highly embarrassed. "Yeah, tell her to come in,"
"Oh come on!" Bruce muttered.
"She's pregnant," Jonathan said apologetically, finally getting himself free of Bruce, but not sitting up, looking up at Susan again. "Could you prepare the exam room for me?"
"I'm assuming you want the gynecological table?" Susan asked, not carrying about the position the boys were in, though taking great delight in Jonathan's embarrassment.
"Please," Jonathan said, and waited until she had left (and closed the door behind her) before pulling away from Bruce, trying to get his zipper back up without losing anything important.
Bruce sighed, leaning up for a small kiss. "Let me know how it goes?"
"Mm, you could come down with me, keep me company," Jonathan said into the kiss, buttoning his shorts.
"I doubt she would appreciate some strange guy watching as she was examined," Bruce said, holding Jonathan's hips.
"You don't have to watch, idiot, we do have curtains."
Bruce laughed, stealing another kiss before releasing Jonathan. "No thanks, I think I'll go find the boys and make sure they don't run out my amex,"
"Do you actually have a limit on your credit cards?" Jonathan asked, standing and grabbing his medical bag that had the keys to the medicine cabinet downstairs.
"They're not supposed to, but do you trust our sons not to find it?"
"True, have fun." Jonathan leaned in for another kiss, sighing as Bruce licked at his lips. "Don't, I have to go,"
"Then go," Bruce murmured, pulling Jonathan close again.
"Well, it's good news," Jonathan said, drying his hand on a stack of paper towels, turning to the young woman who was nervously sitting on the exam table, kicking her feet, a hand resting on her very pregnant belly.
"What is it?" She asked, biting at her lip before forcibly stopping, causing Jonathan to smile.
"You're preparing for labor," he said, taking a seat at the small desk he had set up next to the bed, making a note on his calender. "It could be anywhere from a few days from now to a few weeks, so you should relax, but keep an eye out for any contractions, alright?" He wrote a note and handed it to her. "I want you to come back in a week for another exam and call if you feel anything,"
"Alright, thank you Dr. Crane!" Marta said, excited. She accepted Jonathan's assistance off the table, heading for the stairs out of the clinic, calling out happily to her husband.
Jonathan smiled as she left, capping his pen before leaning back in his chair, content with how things were going. He blinked as he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye, turning to look at his other half who was sitting on a counter in between jars of cotton balls, watching him with an unreadable expression.
" 'Crow?" Jonathan asked, sitting forward, trying to figure out what was going on with Scarecrow.
"Hey," Scarecrow said softly, looking away from Jonathan slightly, examining the clinic for a moment before sighing.
"What's wrong?" Jonathan asked, alarmed, sitting up.
"The medication's kicking in," Scarecrow said softly, sliding off of the counter and crossing the room to Jonathan, reaching out to brush his fingers over Jonathan's cheek, wincing as his hand went straight through Jonathan's cheek, not that he really expected anything different.
"Oh," Jonathan said softly, closing his eyes.
"I wish I could stay with you," Scarecrow said softly, clutching his hand tightly. "I hate not being here,"
"I know you do, 'Crow." Jonathan whispered, a tear slipping down his cheeks. Scarecrow had been his best friend, the person that could understand and accept him no matter what he did or what he thought. His true soul-mate.
And now he was leaving, buried under the medications Jonathan had to take or face a world neither of them could survive in.
"I love you," Scarecrow breathed, his lips brushing the air next to Jonathan's, wishing he could close that distance and finally have what was his.
Jonathan didn't reply, tears flowing faster, his arms longing to reach out and clasp Scarecrow, to draw the figment close, bury himself in Scarecrow's warmth. His eyes opened and he looked up at the other man's face, sniffling slightly.
"Don't lose yourself to him," Scarecrow said softly, tears slipping down his own cheeks, his pain mixing with the echo of Jonathan's. "But be happy, alright?"
Jonathan was crying in earnest now, his face buried in his hands. He nodded, sniffling loudly before breaking down completely.
Jonathan moaned as he rose above Bruce, drawing the other man's hand up to his mouth, sucking on Bruce's fingers as he moved over his boyfriend, eyes watching Bruce's face, smirking as the other man moaned.
Bruce pulled his fingers free of Jonathan's mouth, reaching down to grasp Jonathan's hips, thrusting harder into the other man, hissing in pleasure. "Fuck, Jonathan..."
"Yes, you are," Jonathan taunted, giving a whimper as Bruce pulled him down hard in retaliation, grasping at Bruce's shoulders, thighs hurting as he pushed himself up, before slamming back down onto Bruce's length, groaning deeply. He tilted Bruce's head up, kissing him hungrily as they moved together.
Bruce's tongue danced over Jonathan's, matching the movements he made in the other man's body as he thrust into him, hissing as Jonathan tightened teasingly around him, taunting him.
Even in bed Jonathan had to be a little bitch, intent to drive Bruce insane.
Bruce pulled back from the kiss, breathing heavily as he fell back onto the bed, squeezing Jonathan's hips, using the force to pull Jonathan harder against him, pushing himself deeper. He smirked as Jonathan whimpered again, the man's head falling back in pleasure. Bruce struggled up again, mouth latching onto the long line of throat Jonathan exposed to him, sucking hard.
"Fuck, Bruce, I..." Jonathan was cut off, giving another deep groan, yelping as Bruce's finger found his nipple, twisting it.
Jonathan's body trembled as he came, mouth latching onto Bruce's, body squeezing down around Bruce and sending the older man over the edge, Bruce's nails digging into Jonathan's hips, cutting into his flesh with the force.
Bruce groaned as he lay back, allowing Jonathan to collapse onto him, gently rubbing the other man's sweaty back. He tilted his head as Jonathan moved, their lips meeting in a slow, lazy kiss, bodies still entangled together as they came down from their high, hearts beating in sync.
Jonathan sighed as he stared at the long line of syringes in front of him, each filled with a glistening, thick yellow liquid. Each filled with the culmination of his years of research and effort.
And he couldn't do a damn thing with them.
It wasn't that he wanted to run around stabbing people with his serum and watching their minds collapse...much. He just...he wanted to see the effects, to watch his creation as it did exactly what he designed it to do.
He wanted to enjoy the rush, of knowing he was the one in control of wither or not someone lost themselves to the madness fear created.
He wanted the rush of watching someone break apart completely under him from sheer and utter terror.
And he couldn't have any of it, because he was supposed to be good and law abiding. Which included not running around in a burlap mask stabbing people for the sheer pleasure of it.
He pouted, shoving himself angrily away from the work bench, grabbing one of the lower concentration Fear Toxin canisters, giving it a shake, wheeling his chair across the basement lab to his notes, intent on working on the 'personal protection' version of the toxin that he was trying to develop to sell to the military, the only entity in the world that wouldn't dismiss him outright.
In fact, they had been rather intrigued with the idea, already forwarding him a nice advance to further develop the prototype.
He set the file down on the table, standing and bending over his rats, trying to decide which one to test the first dose when a sound from behind him startled him, causing him to jerk around, finger already pressing down on the canister's trigger, eyes widening as he caught sight of Richard, Jeremiah and Susan. He dropped the canister, already reaching Richard's side when the boy started screaming in panic.
Chapter 12: Running Away From Yourself
Chapter Twelve: Running Away From Yourself
Someone should sue Disney for planting the ideas in little kids' heads that every girl has a prince and everything ends up happily ever after. - Unknown
"It's alright, you're going to be alright, I promise," Jonathan whispered to Richard as he clung to the boy, grabbing the slender wrists in his hand, trying to keep Richard from harming himself. "Jeremiah!" he yelled, trying to be heard over Richard's screams for Bruce. "Get me the propofol from the cabinet,"
The boy nodded, shaking as he ran to the clinic to go get what his father needed, fighting through his own hallucinations and fears to accomplish the task. His hands shook so badly he almost dropped the vial, hurrying back and handing it to his father along with a syringe.
Jonathan measured out a dose of the anesthetic, injecting Richard with it as he tried to calm the boy, re-assuring him against the visions of death he was seeing. He looked up as Bruce ran in, wincing at the look in his boyfriends eyes. This was not going to go over well.
"We need to move him to the clinic," Jonathan said, reaching down to pick up Richard, only to find himself slammed against a wall, Bruce's hand around his throat.
"You are not touching him, Crane," Bruce rasped out and Jonathan wheezed, staring at Bruce, wondering if he had finally pushed Bruce too far, forcing him over that precious little line he swore to never cross.
He opened his mouth to speak and realized he couldn't, mouth moving, choking, breaking off as Jeremiah started screaming, clutching at Richard whose body was convulsing. Bruce suddenly dropped him, turning to his son while Jonathan leapt over the group in his dash to the clinic, ripping open the medicine cabinet and throwing boxes around, finally finding the epinephrine shots.
He returned in a rush, shoving Bruce out of the way and stabbing Richard's thigh with the syringe, free hand grabbing the boy's wrist to check his pulse while he rested his cheek over Richard's mouth, praying.
As Richard's breath stirred over his cheek, free of wheezing and stuttering, Jonathan released a breath, picking up the boy in-spite of Bruce's demands to release his son. He carried Richard to the clinic, laying him in a hospital bed and strapping him into it before rounding on his boyfriend, arm shooting out to keep Bruce from touching Richard. "Don't even, Bruce. You cannot remove him from this clinic unless you want to explain to whatever doctors you take him to why he can't walk,"
"As soon as the anesthetic has worn off,"
"He still won't be able to walk, Bruce. He had an allergic reaction to the medication, it's effected his muscle control,"
"Are you trying to tell me you fucking paralyzed my son?" Bruce roared, wanting nothing more then to rip Jonathan's head off and use it for a soccer ball.
"No, Bruce, I'm telling you there are side eff, JEREMIAH!" Jonathan shoved Bruce again, grabbing his son who was clawing at his face. "God dammit," He glanced at the distance to the medicine cabinet, shoving Jeremiah at Bruce. "Keep him still," he ordered, grabbing another vial of propofol since he had left the first one in the lab, struggling to get the medication into his son's vein as Jeremiah struggled. "Hold him still, please," Jonathan begged Bruce, feeling utterly miserable as he jabbed his son again, finally getting the vein and injecting the medication.
"Papa," Jeremiah whispered as he started to collapse, dragging Bruce down to the ground with him.
Jonathan knelt next to the pair, pulling Jeremiah into his arms, holding him tightly. "It's alright, Jeremiah, you're safe," Jonathan whispered, stroking a hand through Jeremiah's blond hair. "You're safe,"
"I thought he had the antidote," Bruce said, taking Jeremiah back as Jonathan made to stand, Bruce's words reminding him Richard still needed it.
"He has, but he still suffers hallucinations under stress, it's part of the brain damage," Jonathan said, head jerking for a moment, ducking the bat that had flown past before he could remember it wasn't real. "We both do," he added in a whisper. "Just lay him in one of the other beds, he'll be...well, he'll never be fine, but better when he awakes,"
Jonathan focused himself on the task of preparing the antidote for Richard, ignoring the bats flying around the room, or the way Bruce's breathing suddenly got deeper, a shadow floating around Bruce's body that had pointed ears and a long cape. He turned finally, holding up the needle. "May I give this to Richard or will you rip my arms off?"
"What is it?" Bruce growled, standing protectively in front of his son.
"The antidote, same chemicals that Wayne Enterprises uses, I swear,"
Bruce stared at Jonathan for a long, hard moment before moving away from Richard, allowing Jonathan to inject the antidote, and check the boy's vitals. Jonathan stepped away immediately after, not wanting to provoke Bruce, instead checking on his son.
"Tell me about this side effect, Crane. Now."
Jonathan ran a hand through his hair, sitting on Jeremiah's bed. "It's a rare allergic reaction to the Toxin, only three of my patients ever suffered from it. It's a form of ataxia, much like tick paralysis it effects the lower limbs first, moving up, thankfully or else we would have had bigger problems such as Richard not breathing,"
"Why was he convulsing then?" Bruce demanded.
"The toxin is a neuro-toxin, it effects the brain, and in those allergic to it, it effects muscle coordination before it paralyzes them, hence convulsing, his brain lost control,"
Bruce was silent for a moment, watching over his son. "Why did you gas my son?" he finally asked, his voice broken with the hurt he felt.
"It wasn't intentional, Bruce," Jonathan said softly, looking up at the other man. "I was in the lab, they startled me, I turned and accidentally released the gas. I would never hurt Richard, you know that,"
"No, Jonathan, I don't." Bruce said, looking at Jonathan over Richard's bed. "I really don't and that bothers me."
Jonathan blinked at his boyfriend before turning away, fighting against the urge to break down and cry. He desperately wanted to escape, to hide in the back of his mind and let Scarecrow handle this, too hurt and heartbroken to handle it himself.
But Scarecrow was gone, faded away under medication and couldn't protect Jonathan no matter how much either half wanted.
"When Richard recovers, we're returning to Gotham," Bruce said, taking his son's hand, holding it tightly.
That had already been the plan, to return in week due to Richard's schooling and the fact Bruce had a company to go home to, but with the tone, the carry of the words, Jonathan felt his heart break even more, feeling the loss of Bruce before the man had already left.
Because he knew, Bruce wasn't going to come back.
"He'll fully recover in a week," Jonathan said before standing and jerking the curtain around Jeremiah's bed, blocking himself off from Bruce, climbing into the bed next to his son and holding him close, tears sliding down his cheeks and onto Jeremiah's shoulder as he silently cried.
"That's good Richard, now turn slowly and walk back to me," Jonathan said tonelessly, watching the teenager's progress as he worked at walking after staying in bed for almost a week.
Richard bit his lip, pain shooting up and down his legs as he forced them to move under him, stumbling slightly and catching himself on the parallel bars next to him, breathing hard. He squeezed his eyes shut in pain, shoving one foot in front of the other before panting, trying to force his other leg forward. He stumbled again and hands reached out, grabbing him.
"It's alright, you're doing fine," Jonathan said, steadying the teenager. "Do you want to stop?" he asked softly, gently rubbing Richard's back, willing some of the boy's pain away.
Richard shook his head, forcing himself to take the step, and another, before he collapsed, clinging to Jonathan tightly. "I'm sorry," he whispered, ashamed of himself.
"It's alright, Richard, I know it's hard." He lifted the boy up, carrying him back to the walker and helping him into the seat of it. "You really are doing well," Jonathan said with a smile, inspecting Richard's legs, gently massaging the muscles that were shaking even with Richard sitting, trying to relax them. "A few more days and you won't even tremble, I promise,"
"Still wish I could walk alone," Richard muttered, angrily kicking the walker before wincing at the pain that shot up his thigh.
"Soon," Jonathan said, ruffling the teen's hair before offering him a cup with a few aspirin, watching as the boy took the pills before pushing the walker as one would a wheel chair into the room he had been moved into near the clinic. "Get some res for me, alright?"
"Yes, Doctor Crane," Richard said with a yawn, exhausted from his therapy. He watched Jonathan as the older man helped him into bed, tucking him in. He reached out, grabbing Jonathan's hand as the man turned to go. "Thank you," he whispered softly.
Jonathan shook his head, gently taking Richard's hand. "Don't thank me, Richard. It's my fault you're in this mess,"
Richard shook his head, frowning up at Jonathan. "It's not your fault, we should have warned you we were coming in, Susan said you were working with the toxin,"
"It's still my fault, Richard," Jonathan said, giving Richard's hand a squeeze. "But thank you, for trying to make it better." He ducked down, impulsively placing a kiss on Richard's cheek like he would Jeremiah before leaving the room.
Richard watched him go sadly, wishing he could change what happened, take away the pain Jonathan and Bruce were now going through.
Bruce looked up from where he had been staring out the window before standing, offering the two men in front of him a seat in the chairs before his desk. "Please, sit, General," Bruce said, forcing a smile onto his face.
Bruce had been back in Gotham for two weeks now, and he still couldn't drag his mind away from the events in Georgia. Richard had completely recovered with no side effects, and from the mentions from his son, even Jeremiah was healing from the break down the boy had suffered...yet something still seemed unfinished to him.
"What I can I do four our military?" Bruce asked as he took a seat, eyes darting between the two across from him.
"We were informed by one of our arms suppliers that your company is the only laboratory in the country that can manufacture this compound on a large scale," the general said, sliding an envelope across Bruce's desk.
Bruce raised an eyebrow, slitting open the envelope and pulling out the file inside, flipping through the pages before his other eyebrow matched the first and he raised his eyes, looking at the men again. "You want the antidote to the Fear Toxin created by Doctor Crane?"
"Quite a bit of it, enough to inoculate all branches of the military as well as most of the high ranking government, on a continuous basis, as well as extra doses for it's victims,"
"Might I ask why?"
"That is classified information, Mr. Wayne,"
"And you're asking my company to prepare for large scale chemical warfare, General," Bruce countered, setting the file on the desk.
The two men shared a look, silently communicating before the older one nodded. The General turned back to Bruce. "Doctor Crane is currently creating a low grade weapon for us, an arolized version of his Fear Toxin that can be used to subdue subjects,"
"You're planning to poison them, to contain them?" Bruce asked, intrigued and disgusted at the same time.
"Would you rather we shoot them, Mr. Wayne? The toxin is non-lethal when properly administered as and easily reversed with the antidote if given within the proper time frame. "
"It's also one use only," Bruce pointed out, jotting some notes on a post-it, mind churning.
"Not anymore," the older man said. "It has been discovered that the current inoculations wear off, three years of immunity and then the toxin will effect the brain again, yet still can be cured by the same antidote, a genius design really, insuring Wayne Enterprises never has to re-create the chemical, yet has a constant supply of those needing it,"
"It wasn't our design," Bruce muttered.
"No, it was Doctor Crane's, though I doubt he did it intentionally when he first created the toxin. So, will you be willing to contract with us?"
"I will have to discuss it with the bored and CEO, may I get back to you?"
"Of course, Mr. Wayne. Your secretary has our number." The men stood, shaking Bruce's hand before heading for the door. The older man allowed the General to leave ahead of him before turning back to Bruce. "No matter your decision, we will be following this plan, Mr. Wayne, so don't think that your decision will sway us. I am aware of your recent problems with Doctor Crane, do not let your personal life spill into your professional one,"
"How would you know what is going on with Doctor Crane and myself?"
The man smiled, though there was little humor in it. "I'm CIA, I know what color underwear you're wearing, Mr. Wayne," he said before stepping from Bruce's office.
Bruce shook his head, taking a seat, turning the information over in his head. Jonathan was working with the military, creating a new version of Fear Toxin.
Jonathan had not been working on the toxin for his own personal (or rather, Scarecrow's personal) use, though he had never denied it when Bruce accused him of it.
Bruce sighed, running a hand through his hair, having a suspicion that he had screwed up royally and not sure how to fix it.
"Greensboro Medical, Doctor Crane speaking," Jonathan muttered around a French fry, trying to grab a bite of food between patients, slapping Jeremiah's hand away from his milkshake. There was silence on the other end of the line, long enough for Jonathan to pull the phone away from his hear, double checking that it was still connected. "Hello?"
"I miss you," the voice was so soft that it took Jonathan a moment to realize it was Bruce and he pulled he phone away from his ear again, staring at it in disbelief.
"Bruce?" Jonathan asked, and mentally kicked himself for the hopeful note in his voice.
"There is a plane waiting for your at the Greene County Airport, it's leaving in half an hour...please, Jonathan, I need to see you." Bruce hung up and Jonathan blinked at the phone, sighing as he set it down.
"Jeremiah, go pack for the weekend, be quick," he muttered, angry at himself but unable to stop himself from standing and heading upstairs to get his own bag ready, his heart skipping a beat at the thought of going to Bruce...to returning to what they might have had.
Chapter Thirteen: Halloween
When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
"I can't believe you dragged us to Georgia for a night," Richard said with a yawn, a bit worn out from school, packing, flying three hours and knowing he had to do it again in the morning. He was never going to get any sleep.
"You wanted to see Jeremiah," Bruce muttered, frowning at Richard's costume. "How did you get me to agree to let you wear that?"
"I promised to distract Jeremiah so you could have sex," Richard said, straightening his new Robin mask, smirking. He grinned as the door answered, revealing Frankenstein. "Trick or Treat!"
"Don't you look adorable!" Sarah said from behind Tom (who was dropping a handful of candy into the bag Richard held, ruffling the boy's hair). "I certainly like that costume better then your other uniform,"
"Thank you ma'am," Richard said with a low bow, Robin's softer (and politer) tones slipping into his voice.
"Bruce!" a voice called and Bruce suddenly found his arms full of a young brunette woman.
Bruce blinked, unsure what he was supposed to do, before he looked down at laughing blue eyes and suddenly realized the 'woman' in his arms was his boyfriend. "Jonathan?"
Jonathan took a step back from Bruce, holding his skirt up so it didn't drag on the floor, giving a curtsey. Jonathan was dressed head to toe as an Antebellum southern lady, parasol included (though he had closed it so he didn't hit Bruce with it), Right down to the faint lines across his neck and shoulders indicating he was wearing breast forms (and Bruce did not want to know where Jonathan got them).
"I...you...why is your costume a woman?" Bruce asked, confused. When he had last spoken to Jonathan, the other man had been planning to dress up as a mummy.
"I had a bet, I lost," Jonathan said, pointing a gloved hand towards his son who was obviously (at least to Richard who had seen the dress in Jeremiah's costume closet) responsible.
Bruce turned to look at Jeremiah and snorted, unable to resist. He had no idea how Jeremiah had managed it, but considering the detail on the sized down replica of his Batsuit, he had to admit that he was impressed, then again, this was the same teen who had re-designed Richard's entire uniform and still made it functional. "Batman," he said, nodding in greeting.
Jeremiah grinned, ruining the effect of the suit, before he hugged Bruce around the waist, moving on to tackle Richard and steal some of the other boy's candy.
"And what are you supposed to be, Mr. Wayne?" Susan asked from where she was putting the final touches on Marcus' zombie make-up.
"A very rich man," Bruce said, adjusting the cuffs of his leather jacket.
"He didn't have time to change," Richard said from the floor where he was trying to keep Jeremiah from his candy.
"We have extra costumes upstairs if you want," Marcus called, waving his prosthetic leg in the air. "I'm sure Jeremiah's made something your size by now,"
The group almost as one looked at boy and Jeremiah blushed, but nodded, bouncing off Richard and up the stairs. He returned with a handful of fabric, dragging Bruce into another room, intent on dressing the last member of their party.
Jonathan started sneaking towards the door closed door, only to be stopped by Sarah who smirked at him. "Leave him alone or we'll never get to the party, Jonathan,"
"It's been a month!" Jonathan protested, pouting.
"And you can wait a few minutes, now stop that or I'll have to re-do your make up,"
"Your son is the devil," Bruce said, grumbling.
"I find it rather amusing," Jonathan said, patting Bruce's arm gently as they walked down the street, lazily following their sons as the boys trick or treated their way to the costume party the town was hosting.
Some how, and Bruce fully blamed Jeremiah's bright blue eyes and too large pout, the manipulative teenager had managed to get Bruce into a costume straight out of a fairytale...literally, as Bruce was dressed as Prince Charming from Cinderella.
"Come on, guys!" Jeremiah called over his shoulder, heading to the next house, trying to keep up with Richard who was doing back flips instead of actually walking, keeping baby Abygail (a pumpkin) entertained as they walked.
"And at least this way you're certain no one else will be dressed the same," Jonathan pointed out, hiding his grin behind his lace fan.
"Still calling a priest tomorrow to exorcise whatever is possessing him," Bruce said cheerily, offering his arm to his 'lady' as any gentleman should.
Jonathan suddenly hiccuped, before giggling manically, leaning heavily on Bruce. "I should not have had that many drinks," he said, a few giggles escaping as he spoke before he sighed, staring up at the stars.
"Did you take your pills tonight?" Bruce asked, concerned, wrapping an arm around Jonathan's waist to keep him upright.
Jonathan shook his head, wig curls bouncing. "Too much alcohol...relax, my Prince." Jonathan gave him a smile and noticed something over Bruce's shoulder, eyes narrowing as he took in the two expensive black cars that were parked on the sides of the street, out of place in the small town.
"Jonathan?" Bruce asked, glancing over his shoulder and Jonathan distracted him with a smile, before he casually turned to Richard who was next to them.
"Richard, why don't you and Jeremiah go on ahead with Sarah...I need to talk to Bruce," he said and there was something in his tone that made Richard's body still, understanding more then the words were saying.
"Of course, Doctor Crane," Richard said, looking at the cars himself out of the corner of his eye before gently grabbing Jeremiah's arm, handing the other teen his bag of sweets so he could have a hand free for his eskrima sticks should he need to grab one.
"Papa," Jeremiah asked, looking up at his father who smiled softly down at him. "Run," Jonathan whispered softly and the pair of boys took off, dragging Sarah and baby Abygail with them.
Jonathan watched them turn, reaching into the small handbag he carried, pulling out a fear toxin canister just as the cars opened, spilling out their contents of hired hugs in black suits. He turned to the thugs, can ready, watching them.
"You shouldn't have done that, Crane," one of the thugs said, a thirty something Latino who took a look at the group before dismissing them, focused purely on the doctor in front of him. "Grisdelda wants him back,"
"Yes, and she can't have him, the courts already informed her of that," Jonathan said, taking a step away from Bruce, drawing more attention to himself and less off the other four. Thomas moved around his wife, standing behind Jonathan while Susan stepped back with Marcus, keeping an eye on the rest of the darkened street while everyone focused forward.
"You think it matters what the courts say?" the man said with such disgust that Jonathan shivered, fingers tightening on the canister in his hand.
There was some silent signal and the group from the cars surged, forgoing simply shooting the group for a bit of fun beating the shit out of them. Jonathan pressed down on the canister, hitting Carlos with a full dose of the toxin, covering his mouth with a gloved hand as he reached out a slippered foot and kicked the screaming man into several of his friends, knocking them over.
Bruce had gotten rid of the costume's constraining jacket while Jonathan had been taunting the men, and could now move freely as he punched a rather large set thug who had through he would be an easy target. He swept out with his foot, knocking the large man down, following this with another punch to his face to knock him out before flipping over the man to where Marcus was beating on a guy with his golf club.
"Never...wearing...a...dress...again," Jonathan panted as he tried to fight off two other thugs, yelping as one of them got smart and stepped down on his skirts, causing him to trip. A knife flashed and Jonathan was able to get back to his feet in a suddenly shorter dress.
He looked at Susan who punched one of the thugs who had tripped him, kicking out with her leg towards the other, catching him about the face. She turned to Jonathan, sheathing the knife before smirking. "It's not that hard to fight in," she said,gesturing to her matching Southern Belle costume.
A thug grabbed her around the waist and she screamed in surprise before throwing her head back, headbutting the man, turning and kneeing him in the groin. "Off, grabby hands," she said, stomping on his chest. "Didn't yer mama teach you better?"
"God I love that woman," Thomas said before pulling his wife off the unconscious man.
Jonathan took the calm to look around him, watching for a second as Bruce clotheslined another thug and Marcus, who went to kick a thug with the wrong foot and there was a moment when everyone stopped to watch the fake limb sail through the air. Bruce was at the man's side in an instant, catching him as he fell, while Thomas backed him up to protect both with his fists.
Jonathan turned back to the fight, just as a jingling tone came from Bruce's waist. The man reached down, pressing the Bat-com, leaving Marcus with Thomas as he moved towards Jonathan's side.
"We've got problems, Bruce,"
Jonathan jumped at Richard's voice, looking down at his boyfriend's waist, ducking a wild punch from Carlos and kicking the man in the side, turning as one of Carlos' friends tried to sneak up behind him and watched the pair crash into each other.
"There's more men waiting for us...I'm good, but not this good,"
Jonathan's head jerked towards the house at that and he took off running before he even thought about it, ignoring the shouts behind him, fear for Jeremiah and Richard driving him. He stumbled up the driveway, almost head on into group waiting for them to show up, before being grabbed and dragged into the darkness of the tobacco barn by Richard who covered his mouth as Jonathan screamed, startled.
"Relax," Richard said from behind him, slowly releasing Jonathan. "I called the cops, figured it was the best course since they don't' seem eager to draw attention,"
Jonathan knelt next to his son who looked up at him with wide, terrified eyes. "Grandma..." Jeremiah whispered, drawing his knees up to his chest, hugging them.
"I won't let her get you, I promise," Jonathan whispered, removing the cowl from Jeremiah before hugging his son tightly, slowly rocking him as he had done for many nights after the adoption first went through. Sarah used the cape from the costume to wrap around the air as she bounced her daughter, thankful for the pacifier keeping Abygail from crying out.
"Bruce!" Richard hissed out the door, waving the other three over. Thomas and Susan carried Marcus in and got him settled on a table before Thomas joined Bruce and Richard while Susan checked on Jonathan and Jeremiah, sitting next to the pair and holding both tightly.
"They're ransacking the house," Richard told Bruce and Thomas softly. "I have no idea what they're looking for, but whatever it is, they're not finding it. The big guy keeps storming outside and saying something on the phone before heading back inside,"
Bruce nodded and glanced over at Jonathan, wishing he could question the other man as to what was going on. The name Griselda reminded him of something, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember what.
There was a sudden flurry of movement outside and Bruce turned towards the windows, looking out. "They're leaving," he said and Richard checked something on his phone, smirking.
"The police are almost here," Richard said, sliding his phone back into his utility belt, before kneeling next to Jeremiah, talking to him quietly.
It was mere minutes before the farm was flooded with the familiar blue and red of the police cars, the sheriff himself taking statements from the group, pissed off that not only had his small town been invaded by New York mobsters, but that they had gone after the well respected doctor.
As Jonathan told the man what he knew, Richard took Jeremiah upstairs to head to bed, both having already given their statements, as well as being dosed by Jonathan with a mild sedative to help them sleep. Richard crawled into Jeremiahs' bed rather then the one he usually borrowed when he was at the farm, allowing Jeremiah to cling to him like a limpet. Considering Jeremiah had nightmares on the best of nights, Richard didn't think they would be getting a very restful night of sleep after the attack.
Bruce looked up as Jonathan returned from the shower, lifting an arm to wrap around the man as Jonathan joined him on the couch, curling around him. Jonathan buried his face into Bruce's chest for a moment, taking a deep breath of the smell of his lover before sighing, running a hand through his hair.
"What's going on, Jonathan?" Bruce asked softly, looking down at his boyfriend, wanting answers to the night events. He had already tried asking the other four, none of whom would say anything. "Who is Griselda?"
"You know her," Jonathan muttered, accepting the glass of coffee Susan offered him before the older woman took a seat next to her husband. He sat up, pushing his glasses up his nose. "Griselda Blanco, Falcone's right hand."
The name suddenly struck Bruce, and he pictured the small, heavy-set woman he had run across once or twice in his work. Griselda was the sort of woman you never wanted to meet, let alone cross. He had no idea how she had escaped Joker's attack on the mob, but she had made use of the man's chaos, taking over not only the Falcone family, but most of the other loose ends of those whom didn't survive Harvey or Joker. She was the untouchable, someone not even Batman could get to and it irked Bruce, that he couldn't put her away along with every other mobster and freak he ran across.
"Wait," Bruce said, mind whirling, bits and pieces coming together in his brain. Jonathan watched as the puzzle started to form a picture in his boyfriend's head and he simply sipped his coffee, waiting.
"Blanco was the name listed on the kidnapping report of Tuck...er, Jeremiah."
"She's his grandmother," Jonathan said softly, not looking at Bruce. "Her daughter is his mother,"
"You..he..." Bruce blinked. That was not something he had ever thought of. Granted, he hadn't paid close attention to Jeremiah's reported kidnapping, just enough to notice that someone had the money to throw at the case, trying to get the boy back considering the television ads and billboards, but it had just been yet another child missing after the event in the Narrows.
Though it did explain why Jonathan had run to Georgia of all places, if he was trying to escape Griselda's reach. It also explained just why the courts had given the mad doctor custody over the boy's grandmother. They may not have been able to make legal charges stick against her, but everyone knew what she was up to.
"She won't stop coming after you," Bruce pointed out.
"I know," Jonathan said with a sigh, leaning against Bruce. "But she won't get him, not unless she kills me first."
Note: Griselda Blanco is based on (and named for) the real life woman who became known as the "Female Scarface", not a woman you ever want to meet or know. You can find out more about her at http://panachereport.com/channels/more%20short%20stories/FemaleScarface.htm
Chapter 14: Kick in the Teeth
Chapter Fourteen: Kick in the Teeth
We live in a cold dark world with venom in it's fangs. You can spit it in my face but I know I'll be ok - "Kick in the Teeth"
Jonathan leaned over Nightmare's neck, sighing heavily as he rested his chin against his hand, the other stroking the horse's neck. Bruce had only been gone a few days, and already he was missing his boyfriend terribly.
He knew Bruce couldn't stay, it was impossible when Gotham still needed Batman, but the selfish part of him wanted to rewind back to the summer when there was nothing more important then sitting on the back porch, watching their sons running around as they lay entangled in each other on the lounge.
He raised up as he heard a nose, turning his head. A gunshot sounded in the bushes near where he was and he cried out, startled as Nightmare reared back, knocking Jonathan from her back. The man tumbled through the air, landing hard on the ground, his head smashing against a rock, leaving a blood smear behind as he fell to the side, darkness claiming him.
It had been three weeks since Bruce last spoke to Jonathan, distracted by work, Richard and the holiday season suddenly kicking into full gear when he wasn't looking. He sighed, massaging his face, trying again to call Jonathan's cellphone before finally giving up and hanging up the phone, standing and grabbing his jacket, heading to track down his ward as they headed to out to attend yet another holiday party full of people he detested, in particular, one Gresham Blanco
He probably should have read the invitation closer was his main thought as they pulled up to the large house, sharing a look with Richard at the armed guards manning the front door. Bruce stepped out, smiling for the cameras, making his way to Gordon's side, gently placing a hand on the man's shoulder as he leaned in. "This is unusual for a bit of merry making,"
"Blanco has a special guest," Gordon said, not looking at Bruce, staring ahead at the guards. "Her grandson has returned home,"
Bruce froze up, staring at the door, almost unseeing. "Her grandson?" he asked, forcing his voice to stay level.
"Quite," Gordon said and finally looked at Bruce, studying the man he considered a son to him.
"Gordon..." Bruce started and Gordon leaned in, keeping his head ducked against the glare of the reporter's cameras.
"We can't get close to her, Bruce. We're hoping for...leverage,"
Bruce swallowed thickly and turned to speak with his son, only to find Richard had vanished into the crowd, already heading inside once he heard that Jeremiah was in the house. Bruce sighed and followed, forcing an easy smile on his face, mind already a whirl as he tried to think of how to get them out of this mess.
"Mr. Wayne, so glad you could join us,"
Bruce winced at the shrill voice, before smiling, clasping Griselda's outstretched hands, kissing her cheek. "I wouldn't turn down the invitation," he said, smiling. The pair stared at each other, silent messages passing between them. Griselda knew Bruce had been at the farm on Halloween night, Carlos had told her that much before the woman had killed him, and Bruce of course, knew who she was...everyone in Gotham did.
"I would like to introduce my grandson, Tucker," She said and swept her arm out, revealing Jeremiah who looked up at Bruce, a dazed, vacant look in his eyes. This was not the boy Bruce had gotten to know for the previous summer.
"Tucker," Bruce said, nodding his head.
"Mr. Wayne," Jeremiah said, and his voice as as flat as a dolls.
Bruce blinked, before looking up at the woman, raising an eyebrow. Griselda smiled, a shark's grin.
"He went through so much these past years, we've had to have him sedated, such horrible memories that plague him, it's all very tragic, but he's working hard to get through the problems,"
"Father, I'm bored," Richard said, suddenly appearing at Bruce's side, a pout on his lips. "There isn't anything fun to do,"
"Perhaps the boys could go off, Ms. Blanco? It would be a bit distracting to have them running around,"
"Quite," Griselda said and nodded to Tucker's security detail. "Keep an eye on them," she snapped before smiling up at Bruce again. "Drinks?"
Richard took Jeremiah's hand, ignoring the two armed guards at their back, giving it a gentle squeeze. There was a long moment where Richard feared he wouldn't get a response, only to have Jeremiah give him the smallest squeeze back, before his fingers curled against Richard's palm, twitching.
Bruce was raising a glass of champagne to his lips just as the far doors of the ballroom burst open, women screaming as they darted out of the way of the two thugs that entered, their automatic weapons scanning the room, as three more followed, rolling in several large tanks.
Bruce swallowed thickly as he caught sight of who was behind them, feeling Richard tense next to him.
Jonathan stormed into the ballroom, torn brown leather jacket swirling around his legs as he moved, blue eyes staring at the crowd through the burlap mask. His eyes rested on Griselda. "Where is my son?" he asked.
Bruce could feel a jolt in his stomach as he watched the man across the room from him. It had been a while since he had heard Scarecrow's voice, several months in fact, and to hear it, with Jonathan's own echoing caused a visceral reaction in his body.
This was the first time both personalities had overlaid each other and Bruce could almost see Scarecrow standing behind Jonathan, eyes glowing in rage as they focused purely on the Colombian woman before them.
"How should I know?" Griselda asked, cocking an eyebrow at Jonathan, snorting as she took in the patchwork pants and fading orange doublet. "Really, it's Thanksgiving, not Halloween, nino,"
Jonathan's hand clenched into a fist, rage consuming him as he stared down at the woman that made his life miserable since the moment he had met her. "Give him back, Griselda," he demanded, making a motion with his hand so that the man with guns surrounded her.
Her guards moved and Jonathan's arm shot out, spraying them with powdered toxin, watching as they fell to the floor before approaching Griselda.
He rested a needle gauntleted hand under her chin, tilting her head up as he stared down at her, wanting nothing more then to slip the needles into her flesh, watching as they pierced her muscles and destroyed her mind. "You have two seconds, bitch,"
Griselda spat at him, a laugh spilling from her lips even as she tried to move so as not to impale herself on the needles against her chin. "You'll never get him back," she said and jerked back, ignoring the flesh that came with the needles. She pulled a gun from her small clutch back, firing at Jonathan who dived to the floor.
Bruce jerked Richard down in time as the hired goons on either side of the little war started firing, screaming filling the air. "Where is Jeremiah?" he asked his son, moving them behind an over turned table to better protect them.
"I don't know, I haven't seen him since dinner." Richard reached out, clutching at Bruce's jacket sleeve. "Bruce, he's aware under the medication. He managed to sign to me,"
"He knows what's going on, he needs our help,"
"right now, everyone needs our help," Bruce muttered.
"Stop!" Jonathan's voice rang out and Bruce peered over the table, rising a peek.
Jonathan stood, surrounded by the bodies of party goers. He was staring at a trembling figure in the only clear space before him, reaching out towards his son.
Jeremiah looked down the end of the handgun he had taken from his guards, staring at his grandmother, fingers clenching tighter around the handle of the weapon. Griselda opened her mouth to speak and Jeremiah's fingers tightened around the trigger, body jerking with the recoil. He hissed as the flesh of his hand was caught in the slide's motion but shifted his hand, firing again...and again, stopping the motion only when the gun started to click, bullets spent.
"Jeremiah, stop," Jonathan called out, grabbing his son, pushing the gun aside as he pulled him into his arms.
Jeremiah broke down, sobbing, clinging to his father. It would have been a touching moment, if not for the guards who were raising their weapons again, bullets already firing. Jonathan curled over his son, trying to protect the teen's smaller form, hissing as a large force slammed into them.
"Run, you idiot," Bruce hissed, rolling away from the pair, sliding behind a couch, pulling a batarang from his cummerbund, throwing it at the gunmen.
Jonathan rolled to his feet, grabbing Jeremiah's arm and all but dragging his son out of the ballroom, keeping low and using the guests as shields as they fled into the night, trying to hide from the police cars screaming up the large circular driveway.
Glancing around, Jonathan realized his truck was sort of...blocked in and he ran a hand through his hair before replacing the floppy hat. The sound of glass shattering caught his attention and he looked at Jeremiah who had his hand in the window of a BMW, unlocking it.
"That works," he said, joining his son to hot wire the car, ignoring the flashlights chasing over them from the police who heard the sound. He got the car started and shoved Jeremiah in, joining him and throwing the car into reverse, almost backing over one of Gotham's finest before slamming the car into drive, fishtailing as he peeled out.
"Car's here," Richard said, looking up at Bruce who was trying to hot tie one of Griselda's men.
Bruce nodded, finishing off the knot before joining Richard as they moved for the tumbler that was waiting outside, on the far side of the house. He nodded to Alfred before popping the trunk, examining the bat suit before jerking off his jacket, not looking forward to having to chase down his boyfriend and boyfriend's son even if they had just committed mass murder.
Chapter 15: Separation
Tear after tear, mile after mile, I wish you were here so I could see your smile – Unknown
"They're still behind us, Papa," Jeremiah said, grabbing onto Jonathan's seat-belt as they took a sharp corner, trying not to go flying against the door.
Jonathan cursed, blue eyes glancing at the flashing red and blue lights in his rear view mirror before he reached down, grabbing the emergency break and jerking it up at the same time he turned the wheel, spinning the BMW neatly around, slamming the break back into the down position as he hit the gas, flying back past the patrol cars chasing them, weaving in and out of them, making another sharp turn just as he saw the Tumbler before him, wining as he lost a handful of Gotham's finest, but instead was rewarded with a giant black tank.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck..." he muttered, twisting around another corner, nearly knocking off a prostitute who had been plying her trade.
"Sorry!" Jeremiah yelled out the window at her, snickering as he got cursed at in return, ducking his head back in the window. He looked up at his father, before suddenly hugging the man, nearly forcing them off the road as Jonathan jerked.
Jonathan shook his head, wrapping and arm around Jeremiah, holding him tightly as he tried to drive one handed, kissing the top of his son's head. "You're safe now, I swear it."
Just as he finished speaking, a set of spike strips popped up, sending the BMW spinning, and both men grabbed onto the car's interior tightly, Jonathan struggling to gain control of the car. He slowed it to a stop, sighing as he pulled a small handgun from his coat, checking the clip before stepping out of the car and turning to look at his boyfriend who was waiting for him.
"Why can't you just let us go?" Jonathan asked, his voice slightly desperate. There was a thunk behind him and he turned to look at Dick who was checking on Jeremiah in the car. Turning back towards Bruce, he realized that the Kevlar covered man had gotten closer and he tilted his head up, staring into those dark eyes.
The four of them were alone on the bridge out of Gotham, but the sounds of sirens were getting closer, a helicopter's blades whirling near-by. Bruce scanned the dark sky, before turning back to Jonathan, raising an eyebrow under the mask at the gun now aimed at him. He reached out, grabbing it and twisting it so that Jonathan had to give it up or have his wrist broken. With a cry, Jonathan did give it up, glaring at Bruce as he rubbed his wrist.
Bruce reached out, placing his hand over Jonathan's cheek and jaw, leaning in towards the man, before the whirling of the helicopter got far too close, the wind sending Bruce's cape, dirty and debris flying. Both men looked up, Jonathan grabbing his had as a ladder fell from the helicopter in front of him. Inside, Susan glared down at them, mouthing something that Jonathan was quite sure he was thankful not to actually hear.
"Looks like my ride is here," he said, grabbing the rope and helping Jeremiah up it. He started up after his son, before turning to look back at the cowled man, opening his mouth to say something, only to have his words stolen from him as the helicopter started to rise into the air, forcing him to scramble up the ladder or dangle from it and possibly end up killing himself.
"Hello?" Jonathan asked sleepily into the cellphone that had woken him, turning slightly to check on Jeremiah who was happily curled up next to his father.
"Any idea why a Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter was stolen from the Gotham City PD?"
"Bruce," Jonathan said with a grin, laying back against his pillows, gently brushing his fingers through Jeremiah's hair. "Nope, no idea." He thought of the vehicle currently stored in one of his barns, smiling. They would have to get rid of it eventually, but right now it just amused him to have it.
"Gordon is not perusing either Scarecrow or Jeremiah Crane at this time. He claims he has bigger fish to chase down at the moment. Especially as most of the witnesses claim that Griselda simply lost her mind and went off on a shooting spree before shooting herself in the head."
"What..." Jonathan questioned, sitting up.
"Apparently, Griselda had very few friends, in Gotham, with her dead, most of them are happy to turn their backs and was their hands clean of her. Two families who lost people are calling for your head, but they are the line outcasts. Take advantage of your good fortune, Jonathan, it's the last chance you'll get." Bruce said sternly, Batman's tones slipping into his voice.
"Thank you," Jonathan breathed, clutching his son.
"Only if you come down here. I will not return to Gotham, ever."
"I know. I'll see what I can do. Good bye, Jonathan."
Continued in "Georgian Nights: In-betweens" and "Georgian Nights: A Family Affair"