Nurse Vasquez had seen Bruce Wayne before. He’d made plenty of donations to the hospital over the years. He’d come to charity events hosted there. He’d visited friends and colleagues who were being treated. He usually didn’t have to wait, or at least, wait long.
That day, he was waiting for over an hour, by what she’s seen. He appeared calm for the most part, but the way he kept checking the time, the way he stood every time he heard a doctor or nurse approaching, the way he kept checking his phone… It all gave away his nerves. One of the other nurses said they heard he was there because one of his kids had been admitted to urgent care. It fit. He looked like a worried father.
She kept checking on him inconspicuously whenever she had to go to the nurses station that faced the waiting room. The poor man kept showing those telltale signs of concern and more the longer he waited.
Finally, a little boy was trying to reach a children’s book in one of the magazine racks near Mr Wayne, and the man noticed. He took the book out for the child and gave it to them. The boy thanked him, clearly having no idea who he was, and proceeded to sit down and read it on the floor right beside the man.
After he’d finished the book. The boy started talking to Mr Wayne. First, he asked about his thoughts on Superman.
Mr Wayne thought for a brief moment and then answered in a honest tone. “I think we’re lucky to have him.”
The boy smiled at that and spoke at length on what was apparently his favorite hero. Then, he explained why he was there.
“I’m waiting to meet my little brother. Daddy said it can take a while to get him, so we might have to be patient. Thing I don’t get is, where is he? Where are they getting him from?” The boy looked excited but confused.
Finally, he looked at Mr Wayne with sincerity and bafflement. “Do you have kids, mister? Where do they come from?”
Mr Wayne paused for a moment, looking calculating. Nurse Vasquez didn’t blame him. Answering that question for your own children could be tricky. Answering it for someone else’s child was nearly impossible. Especially when you didn’t know them.
Instead of fending off the question by telling the child he should ask his parents, Mr Wayne pulled out his phone. “That’s a little tricky to answer. Here, let me show you what I mean.” He opened something on his phone and held it down for the boy to see.
The boy’s eyes widened in awe at whatever he was seeing. “Wow! Is he flying? Like Superman?”
Mr Wayne smiled. His body still held the tension of a worried parent, but his mind was clearly on the child he was discussing and the one he was discussing him with. “No. Well, sort of. He’s flipping from one trapeze bar to another. See?” He indicated something on the image and the boy nodded.
“Ooh.” The boy’s awe hadn’t dwindled much. “He’s still awesome.”
“He certainly is.” Mr Wayne’s smile turned warmer, loving, as his mind focused further onto his words and the boy that was apparently in the photo he was showing. “That’s my oldest son, Dick. He came from the circus. He needed a new home and I was fortunate enough to be the one that got to take him in.”
He leaned over and swiped to another image on his phone.
“Whoa.” The boy looked impressed. “He’s lifting way more than my daddy does. He’s really strong.”
“Yes, he is. In many ways.” Mr Wayne sounded proud. “That’s my second son, Jason. He came from the streets. He needed a new home, too, and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.”
He swiped again. The child looked at the image with wonder. “Ooo. She looks like a sugarplum fairy. She’s so pretty.”
“That she is.” Mr Wayne looked at the image with a touch of awe himself. “That’s my daughter, Cassandra. She came from a dark place. She wasn’t being taken care of properly, and I was given the opportunity to take care of her. I’m grateful that she let me.”
He swiped again. The boy’s mouth fell open. “Is he building that? All by himself?” The boy looked amazed when Mr Wayne nodded. “Is he some kind of genius?”
“He’s all kinds of genius.” Mr Wayne answered, looking equally impressed. “That’s my second youngest son, Tim. He came from need. We were both sad and needed someone to help us learn to be happy…or happy again, in my case. Fortunately, he found me.”
He swiped again. The boy frowned. “He looks cranky.” Mr Wayne simply nodded and swiped again.
The boy suddenly looked delighted. “That’s the biggest dog ever! How’d he learn to walk him? He must be really determined.”
“That’s one way to put it.” Mr Wayne looked pleased. “That’s my youngest son, Damian. He came from someone I love. She wasn’t able to stay with me, but she gave me him. Sometimes, I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
The boy continued to look through the photos. “Your family’s cool, mister.”
“Thank you. I think so too.” He indicated the phone; the images the boy was looking through. “But now you can see why your question isn’t an easy one to answer. Children can come from so many places. What matters is that you love them, and that they love you.”
The boy nodded slowly, taking that in and partially distracted by the images he was perusing. Then he grinned and indicated a picture. “Is he teaching him to fly…sort of…too?”
“Yes. Dick teaches each of his little brothers and sister all kinds of things. He says getting to show them so much is one of the perks of being the big brother.” Mr Wayne’s smile brightened a little. “And he’s a wonderful big brother.”
“I’m gonna be a wonderful big brother, too.” The boy spoke with excitement and determination. “I’m gonna teach my little brother all kinds of things! Like how to ride a bike -I can do it without training wheels now. Or how to hold your breath under water. Oh! Or how to make a fort out of the linen closet!”
“Well, those certainly sound like useful skills to pass on.” Mr Wayne agreed. “I’m sure you’ll be a great big brother.”
The boy’s father came out to get him then. The boy gave Mr Wayne his phone back and thanked him. Then he excitedly ran to his father, eager to tell him about all the things he was going to do with his little brother once they got him. The man was smiling as he carried his son toward the maternity ward.
Mr Wayne continued waiting. He still looked nervous, but he also looked proud and pleased as he continued looking through the photos he’d showed the boy. He stood and put the phone away as soon as a doctor began approaching him. He looked focused, determined, and commanding as he spoke with the doctor. Finally, he looked relieved.
“Thank you, Doctor. May I see him, now?” His tone made it clear that Mr Wayne expected the answer to be ‘yes’.
And it was. He followed the doctor toward the recovery rooms, listening as he was given instructions for what to expect when he saw his son.
Nurse Vasquez was pleased that it sounded like everything was going to be okay with Mr Wayne’s son. Not only did she never want to see anyone hurt badly, but the man was clearly a very devoted and caring father. She was happy he was going to be bringing his child home after such a scare. Happy that he was going to be able to make more memories with his children. That they were going to take more photos together and continue to be a family in the future.
So many terrible things happened in Gotham, like the recent Arkham breakout. In fact, it appeared that was what led to Jason Todd-Wayne being admitted to the hospital to begin with. He’d apparently been location scouting for something for the Wayne Foundation and was unfortunate enough to be parked outside of a building Two-Face rigged to explode. He’d been knocked back by the blast wind and needed to be checked over for any sign of TBI, fractures, or ear damage. Rumor was that one of the city’s heroes -known as the Urban Legend or Red Robin or Crimson Angel or Red Ghost, assuming they were one and the same- had saved him and prevented the explosion from spreading as planned. In any case, no one had been killed or seriously injured, despite the lunatic’s efforts.
As a nurse, Vasquez saw that side of the city quite often. It was nice when she was able to see another side as well. It was nice to see a loving family get a happy ending. Or a new beginning. Or just a pleasant reprieve from the dangers and stresses of living in Gotham City.
She was glad the Waynes were going to be getting that.