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Skipped a Few Steps

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The first time Jon Kent shows up at the door, it hasn’t even been two weeks since the Night of the Owls. He doesn’t show up at the gate, either. No, he shows up the front door, grinning up at Alfred, and asks if Damian’s free.

Alfred goes and gets Bruce.

Bruce calls Jon’s parents.

He gets dragged off by a very annoyed Lois giving him a lecture about how foolish it was to fly across the Bay--and in broad daylight, no less!--and does not end up spending any time with Damian.

The second time Jon Kent shows up, it’s in a car, at the gate, with his father in toe.

Jon sulks about the fact that flying would be so much faster, and that the car ride is a giant pain, and is delighted when Damian agrees that he should be allowed to simply fly over.

Clark points out that there are inherent risks to flying over the bay, but does promise to show him how to fly safely.

They end up going to a restaurant with open air seating, and Damian and Jon run off to the play area in the park beside the patio to get into trouble.

Bruce is just happy no one’s going to end up with a broken arm this time. Damian’s still adjusting to civilian life, and having a friend who he doesn’t have to hide his identity around--and who is indestructible as a bonus--is a nice option to have.

“I never did thank you for calling us first,” Clark says. “If Lois had gotten home and he wasn’t there...”

“Hopefully you didn’t punish him too hard,” Bruce says. “I think he was just excited to see Damian again.”

Clark smiles at that.

“This is the first time he’s had a friend he could... ah, be himself around. So he seems to really like it.”

“Damian complains constantly, but when I gave him the option of coming or not, he came up with an elaborate reason why, really, he just had to go,” Bruce says, unable to keep his own smile off his face.

But he’s not just here to let Damian have a play-date. No, he’s got business to get to.

“Did they contact you?”

Clark frowns, his expression darkening, but doesn’t answer right away as the waitress arrives to the mostly patio to deliver their food. She definitely recognizes who Bruce is, but she’s also making a point to not stare too openly, which Bruce appreciates.

“Yes,” Clark says when they’ve left. “No offense meant to them, but I’m being a bit wary with this. I know you probably want Damian involved, but I don’t think Jon’s ready, and I’m not sure I’m ready for him to be ready.”

“Understandable,” Bruce says. “Given the choice they wouldn’t know my identity either, but I didn’t get that option. I’m lucky they’re willing to keep it to themselves.”

He doesn’t want to think about how things would have played out if he’d been outed as Batman to the whole world.

“Have you met any of the others yet?” Clark asks.

“Not yet,” Bruce says. “Trevor says he’ll arrange something. They’re all over the place though, and luring them out of their cities to come visit is a task in itself.”

He knows them, at least in general terms. Knows their areas, the places they patrol. He’s not sure if Clark does, so he keeps it to himself.

“I was actually wondering which of you was joining,” Clark says.

“We discussed,” Bruce says, sipping his drink. “I made it clear that it’s an all or nothing situation, and they’ve said they’re wanting one or two at most from each group. Some of the recruits are solos, but lots of them have their own... extended families.”

He takes a bite of his lunch and watches Clark mull it over.

“It makes sense,” Clark says. “If we’re intended to be a way to reach out to each other, you don’t want one city getting overruled by the fact that you brought thirty people to the meeting.”

“We’re not quite at thirty,” Bruce points out. “Now it’s just a matter of figuring out who’s going to take the slot. Jason doesn’t have much interest in it, if I’m being honest, and he was my first choice.”

“Not your husband?”

Bruce chokes on his food.

He takes a second to recover, coughing and spluttering, as he wonders if he’s going to die via pasta noodle before he finally manages to recover. He grabs is water, downing half the glass in one shot, and exhales.

Clark looks mortified.

“My what?” Bruce says.

Clark looks even more mortified.

“Sorry,” he says. “I know you don’t wear a ring, but I kind of thought that was just for privacy reasons.”

Bruce feels like he’s just been slapped in the face. Several times. By Clark.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “Do you think that Slade and I are... together?”

Clark looks confused.

“Are you not?”

Bruce is trying to figure out how the hell he made that mistake. Was is something they did? Was it something Slade did?

“No,” he says. “We’re not. We’re just... co-parents.”

Clark looks deeply skeptical, nodding his head with a faint mhm.

Bruce realizes, to his intense horror, that he’s blushing.

Goddammit.

He gives his food all his attention and tells himself it’s so he doesn’t choke again. Mercifully, Clark doesn’t bring it up again, but when Jon and Damian join them for their own food, Bruce can’t help but wonder what Jon thinks. Did his dad tell him...?