The 24-hour news cycle won’t shut up about it, playing the footage on a near-constant loop while clueless pundits try to explain what happened. About the only thing they get right is that Superman gave everything he had to save the world. They have no idea exactly how much it cost.
Bruce turns off the television and goes out onto the terrace. Old habits die hard and Clark is standing out there, face turned up to the sun. Bruce aches for him, and would turn the world upside down to fix this if he could.
“I still think there should be a press conference," Clark says.
Bruce joins him, reaches for his hand. The knuckles are skinned; the index and middle finger are taped together while broken bones heal. There are other injuries; cuts and burns and bruises, and when they heal this time there will be scars.
“Let it be a mystery,” he says. “Let the world believe Superman has gone off to heal his wounds and could return at any time. It will give criminals something to think about, a reason to hesitate.”
“But it won’t be true.”
“Legends seldom are; that doesn’t diminish their power.”
Clark doesn’t look convinced but Bruce will win him over.
“And what about Clark Kent? What’s he good for now?”
Bruce ignores the trace of bitterness behind the words. It’s only been a couple of days, a little bitterness is allowed. “He’s good for me.” Bruce looks at him directly. “You always have been.” He almost wishes he could offer false hope. Remind him they don’t know everything about gold kryptonite and maybe there is a way to reverse its effects. Even if that’s true, it’s too nebulous to hang their hopes on, so he offers what he can, what can be real now. “It was never your powers that made you soar higher than us all. It was this,” he lays a hand over Clark’s heart, “and that hasn’t changed. You can still make a difference. You can put on a costume to do it. With me. If you want.” He’s faltering a bit now because that speech sounded so much better when he rehearsed it in his head.
Clark looks more like…Clark than he has in days, though, so maybe the speech went over all right after all. “You’d train me?”
He nods; he’s got it all planned out already. They will argue over what he’ll call himself, and he will have to take pains to make sure Dick has no input on the costume, but there are possibilities, and he watches them blossom in Clark’s eyes.
He kisses the scraped knuckles, each fingertip. No, these fingers can’t hold a jet airplane aloft as though it’s made of cotton candy anymore, or tear open a mountain, or support the weight of a 10-year-old showing off—but they still ignite a fire in him with every touch.
Their fingers twine together and he asks, “Deal?”
“Deal,” Clark says, and kisses his mouth.