It had been a long night. Batman was trying to check on gang activity in crime alley, but every news outlet was screaming that Bruce Wayne had nearly been blown up by a pair of pipe bombs at the benefit he had been attending. That wasn’t new intel to him. Batman was appalled with himself for missing it, but he had found two chemical bombs that evening, and Harvey Dent loved to work things in pairs. Unfortunately this time that meant two chemical bombs and two regular explosives. It wasn’t a mistake Batman was going to make again.
"I need a stand in for the next party, or Bruce Wayne does..." Batman mused.
"Master Richard," Alfred suggested.
"Too short, it would look suspicious if Bruce Wayne were always being rescued by Tiny Batman." He rejected the idea.
"Tiny Batman? Please tell me that isn't my codename now." Dick's voice was far closer to the chair than he should have been, Batman should have heard him skulking around, but the blast earlier was still ringing in his ears.
"Dick, what are you doing here?" The question lacked tact, but Batman had a reputation for tactics, not tact.
"You're hurt. I'm here to help." Batman spun the chair lazily to look up at Nightwing. His first son had always been more human than Batman, or even Bruce Wayne.
“I’m fine, I just--”
“Nearly got blown up on national television because you didn’t think to tell the league or your FAMILY what happened.” Robin’s voice came in on the encrypted frequency. “Penny-One, can you send me GPS coordinates for the deal Red Robin told us about?” he added, almost as an afterthought.
“Master Bruce if you could find it in yourself to move from the primary controls,” Alfred crowded Batman, reaching to the controls to comply.
“What are you doing? I am fine!” Batman sprang away from the chair, forcing his body to move naturally, to not limp or slink.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my bleeding, ruptured ear drums. Oh wait, that’s your eardrums, right. How’re the ribs doing? I figure having two cracked ribs on your right side would affect your breathing a bit. Probably affect your posture if you didn’t have so much Kevlar literally forcing you upright.” Nightwing sniped. Great. The talking thing.
“Dick I don’t have time for--”
“For what? To heal? To sleep?” Nightwing took off his mask, rubbing his eyes while they adjusted to the natural light instead of the HUD. “ You were just injured on League business and now this? There isn’t even a threat, Bruce, you’re running yourself ragged over drug dealers and street punks.” They were definitely doing the talking thing.
“It’s three ribs, by the way, and swelling in his left knee.” Batgirl sauntered from one of the cave’s convenient shadows with an encrypted frequency smartphone in her hand.
“I haven’t x-rayed them so I’ll have to take your word for it,” Batman glared, a gesture made mostly pointless since he had changed the clear eye covers for white to make the heads up display less conspicuous.
“Someone has,” Dick countered. Batman was about to ask how or who when his HUD pinged:
-All WayneCorp Appointments cancelled, out of office email set.
-New Appointment created: Sleep, Bruce.
-Appointment set for 3 minutes from now.
“What the hell is this?” Did you do this?” He asked Dick, furious.
Dick, without his display, clearly had no idea what Batman meant. His confused face was nearly comical but Batman didn’t feel like laughing.
“I did it.” Robin answered over the channel.
“Don’t punish the kid, I told him to,” Batgirl shrugged, walking toward Dick.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Batman growled. He turned suspiciously to follow her movement as she rounded behind him.
She paused a second, clearly pleased, “I’m the goddamned Batgirl.” The tranq dart struck the side of his throat nearest to Alfred, sticking just above where the suit would have repelled it.
Bruce thought some not very tactful thoughts as his vision swam, Batgirl and Dick catching him before he could hit the ground and jostle his ribs any farther. The last thing he saw was Babs leaning in with a cheshire grin to plant a kiss on his cheek.
When he had heard that Bruce Wayne had been blown up, Clark Kent had nearly leapt from the nearest window to fly to Gotham himself. He had more presence of mind, and his panicked search revealed he could hear Bruce’s heartbeat. Steady, regular, only slightly elevated, a heartbeat he could pick out in a whole planet of hearts. Thankfully when Bruce had been lost in time, none of the league had questioned that ability of his. When he was sure that Bruce was okay, and he was headed back to the manor, undoubtedly planning on going out to patrol that night, Clark picked up his phone, dialing a number from memory.
“Clark Kent, to what do I owe the pleasure?” A warm voice chirped from the other end after exactly two rings.
“Dick, it’s great to hear your voice. Say, did you hear that Bruce ruptured his eardrums at that charity event he went to with Mr. Dent?” Clark had heard the EMTs as they explained the damage to the seemingly unruffled billionaire.
“You know, I hadn’t heard that yet, anything else I should know about?” Dick sounded aggravated. Clark knew that despite it being his words, the younger man wasn’t angry with him.
“Couple of broken ribs, his bad knee’s a little wrenched, and between you and me, this is closer to that league activity than I think he had expected.” Clark was careful to keep his speech guarded, but he knew Dick would understand: Batman was wearing himself thin. Superman peered around and found Dick in Bludhaven, packing his suit and escrima sticks into a duffle bag.
“I’m on it.” Dick said, hanging up and shoving the phone into his jacket pocket. “Don’t you worry about a thing.” he mumbled to himself.
A few short hours later, Clark fiddled with a pen at his desk at the Daily Planet. He had already done his writeup of the bomb attack and now he was watching what was undoubtedly a very personal drama unfold (Through a bit of the Earth’s upper mantle, with x-ray vision, extraordinary concentration, and skill). Dick accused the glowering Bat of having two broken ribs, so Clark texted a very secret number to tell Batgirl that it was, in fact, three ribs and his knee. Clark had heard her conspiring with the butler earlier that evening, but watching the events were somehow even more satisfying than he could have hoped. As Alfred helped Dick and Barbara strip the vigilante’s armor for bed, Clark hit send on the writeup and checked out for the night, fully expecting a visitor the next morning. No one pulls a plan like this on the Batman without him finding out.