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High Dive

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Clark Kent did not know what to expect when he was invited to go swimming at Wayne Manor for Jason Todd’s birthday. He had known for a long time that they had a pool, but they never used it while he was around and he'd started to think of it as a decorative detail like the trimmed hedges or stone lions at the end of the lane.


Still, he agreed to come and let Lois drag him to Old Navy in a outlet mall to find swim trunks that were not twelve years old. She had taken one look at his old ones, pulled from the back of a sock drawer, and just said: “No.” She’d thrown them in the kitchen trash and poured olive oil from the cabinet over them so he couldn't rescue them later.


He'd flown there, of course, and changed in the Cave into trunks and a t-shirt with an American flag they'd found on clearance and that Lois called tacky but Clark thought was sort of ironic and lovely.


Then he'd gone up the elevator and out the back of the dim house, all the curtains drawn against the August sun, and out the back door to the patio without seeing a single soul.


And then he'd reached the corner before the pool.


What he had been expecting he never was sure, maybe some standing around the pool and awkward chatting before giving up and going inside to work.


But there were shrieks of laughter and he rounded the corner to see Dick Grayson and Jason Todd standing at the edge of the water in dripping trunks, holding Damian Wayne between them while the boy attempted to protest amidst his childish squeals.


Then they threw him in.


Clark turned to survey the rest of the area around the pool.


Alfred Pennyworth was in trim, vintage swim shorts and what looked like a white linen buttoned shirt, dozing on a lounge chair under a beach umbrella.


Cassandra Cain was sitting in an inflatable kayak in the shallow end of the pool.


Stephanie Brown and Barbara Gordon were tanning in bikinis and sharing a pair of earbuds while they picked grapes and strawberries out of a bowl. Stephanie had glass of tea, dripping with condensation.


Tim Drake was sitting on the lip of the diving board filming the other boys with an phone tucked into what looked like a waterproof case.


And Bruce Wayne was standing in front of a grill turning steaks. In dark red trunks and a sleeveless shirt with The Clash on it in bold white letters.


“Clark!” he called across the pool when he turned and saw him.


Clark felt a bit like he had maybe accidentally fallen into an alternate universe. There were even garden speakers playing music. Playing pop music.


“Is that...Lady Gaga?” Clark asked, walking around to the grill. He set a gift bag with a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inside on a table as he walked by. He hoped Jason would appreciate the humor.


“I don't know,” Bruce replied off-handedly. “It's Dick’s music.”


“Everything is so...casual,” Clark said, still bewildered.


“It's a birthday party,” Bruce shrugged like this explained everything. He looked around. “Did you bring Lois?”


“No,” Clark said. “She’s covering a city hall conference today.”


The boys were underwater trying to see who could hold their breath the longest. Damian came up sputtering and yelling, “Grayson, it is CHEATING to tickle! I demand that we start over!”


Bruce closed the lid on grill and turned to face the pool.


The sound of a sliding door opening caught Clark's attention and he looked back at the house. Kiran Devabhaktuni stepped out onto the patio in slacks and blue button-up rolled to the elbows.


“Dev,” Bruce said, nodding. “Didn't think you were coming.”


“Finished a consultation early,” Dev answered. “It went quite well, thought I'd swing by.”


NOW,” Jason roared as he sprinted past Clark and launched himself onto Bruce's back.


“No!” Bruce yelled back but it was too late. There were four Wayne boys upon him at once. Clark took a step back to give them space and didn't even bother trying to hide his grin.


“Clark!” Bruce snapped and Clark shrugged.


Bruce put up a good fight but they were still managing to inch him closer and closer to the water. Damian had climbed onto his shoulders and was covering Bruce’s eyes and Dick and Jason had each grabbed a leg. Tim had tossed his phone down somewhere and was swinging wildly from the end of one arm.


Just as Clark thought he'd actually manage to shake them all off, there was a low, dark blur when Cass hurled herself against the back of Bruce’s knees and all six of them went in together with a splash.


“Are you going to get in, then?” Dev asked Clark as they stood and watched.


“Absolutely not,” Clark said. “I am enjoying this way too much.”


Jason and Tim climbed out of the pool while Bruce and Dick tossed Damian back and forth like he was a rag doll. He giggled helplessly every time he slammed into one of them.


Clark turned to say something else to Dev just in time to see the other man dragged off his feet by Jason and Tim and thrown into the water, yelling.


Dev came up sputtering and yelped, “shite, Tim, I can't swi-” and went under again. Clark took a step forward but Tim was already in the water grabbing for the older man’s arm.


In exchange, Tim got his head shoved under. Dev climbed out of the pool, muttering, “of course I can swim, you little wanker.”


He slogged over to Clark, water running off his clothes, and sat down at the end of a lounge chair to tug his sneakers off.


“Bloody hell,” he grumbled.


Bruce got out and dried his hair off with a towel from a stack at the side of the pool, then walked over to check the steaks. Dick went to a cooler by one of the tables and pulled out three glass bottles of beer.


He walked over to the grill and wordlessly offered them to Dev and Bruce.


“Want one, Clark?” Dick offered, twisting the cap off of his own.


“Nah,” Clark declined.


“Jason!” Bruce snapped and the boy froze, a beer lifted halfway out of the cooler. “Next year,” Bruce said and Jason swore and slammed the cooler shut.


Clark hasn't moved for the past several minutes, but the other men stepped closer to him, forming a semi-circle while they watched Tim and Damian try to hold each other under water until Cass intervened with bright pool weights to hunt for. The game involved a blindfold, which Clark found reassuring-- a small reminder that he was still actually with the Waynes and that they were not usual people.


Bruce and Dick took sips of their beers in unison and Bruce said quietly to Clark,


“I'll give you a thousand dollars to take Jay fifteen feet up and drop him.”


Clark’s eyes widened and he looked at him in surprise.


“I could throw him in myself, but he won't be expecting you,” Bruce said, completely serious.


“I'll give you the same for Timothy,” Dev said, draining a third of his beer. “Because I bloody well couldn't toss him in myself and these are sodding new trainers.”


“Without the suit?” Clark asked to confirm, looking around the pool.


“Without the suit,” Bruce said grimly. “It’s secure enough here.”


And then he turned to Clark and grinned wickedly.


Clark felt a pang of fear and of joy at the same time. And then he remembered summers at the Neilson Run State Park public pool in Smallville, letting other kids dunk him and being careful to always come up for air before they did. One year of high school, he had wanted desperately to throw one of his friends across the pool just because Pete was the sort of kid who'd enjoy the thrill of it and he'd never been able to.


Within seconds, his grin matched Bruce’s.


“You're on,” he said. “But I'll do it for free.”


Dev apparently saw the look they shared and muttered, “bloody hell,” into his beer.


“I'll keep an eye on the steaks,” Dick offered.


Clark scanned the area around the pool. Jason was sitting in a deck chair with his eyes closed, looking already half asleep in the sunshine.


“Should I wait?” Clark asked, hesitating.


“No,” Bruce answered. “Right now.”


Clark liked a lot of normal life. He liked pouring a cup of coffee, typing articles in the bullpen, walking down the sidewalk in the early morning. But he also loved being fast. And he was very fast.


He was fifteen feet above the pool before Jason could react. He had one hand firmly around the boy's ankle while Jason dangled in the air, screaming,


“Fuck you! Fuck you!”


But Jason was also laughing.


Clark double-checked to make sure they were above the deep end before he let him go. Jason curled himself into a ball before he hit and the splash sprayed Stephanie and Barbara, who yelled at the both of them.


He hovered in the air, waiting to see what would happen next. Jason swam to the surface and hauled himself over the edge of the pool and glared at Bruce. Then he looked up at Clark and said:




“Hold on,” Clark replied, sweeping down for Tim.


“No, no!” Tim shrieked as Clark hauled him up slowly, playing for time like a rollercoaster. “Damn it, Dev, I said I was sorry about your shoes!”


Clark let him go.


Tim hit the water in a dive and swam across the pool before resurfacing. He pulled Dev back in when the man offered him a hand.


When he looked for Jason again, Damian was sitting on the older boy’s shoulders.


“Kent,” the younger boy said when he approached them, “I believe it is not beyond your abilities to carry both of us at once.”


“I can do that,” Clark grinned again.


When they dropped toward the water, Damian laughed until he went under and he came up snorting and coughing.


Cass was waiting at the edge of the pool when Clark flew back down.


“Me,” she said softly, eyes bright.


She was quiet all the way up, and right before he dropped her, she said, “Next, Bruce.”


By this point, Clark had no reserves.


Bruce was standing at the grill and the tongs clattered to the ground when Clark snatched him from behind, moving even faster than he had with Jason because even half a second would give Bruce too much time to fight.


“Clar-” was all Bruce got out before Clark swept him above the pool and with an arm wrapped around Bruce's chest he slammed them both into the water as fast as he thought would be reasonably safe. The instant they were under Clark let go.


Bruce came up coughing and laughing.


“Never,” he said, “again.”


“That's what you think,” Clark retorted, floating on his back.


“Those steaks are going to burn,” Bruce said, ignoring him and climbing out to check the grill, “and it will be your fault.”


Clark got out to look for a towel and Dick tossed him one.


“After we eat,” Dick said, while Clark shook water out of his hair, “it’s my turn.”


“You got it,” Clark answered. “We’ll go really high.”


“Perfect,” Dick said, and it kind of was.