Foreign Soil

Moderators: Chaosmob, Isis, DaisyJane
User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Foreign Soil

Sun May 03, 2020 10:45 pm

He didn’t have a contingency plan for this.



A fact that was only slightly less disturbing than the infant currently lying on the Batcave floor. They were tightly swaddled in something red and asleep, so thank heaven for small mercies.



“And they just appeared?” The Batman; he hadn’t had time to don the suit but it was all in the demeanour turned to his butler, who was hovering nervously. Obviously loath to leave a baby on the floor of a cave but also well aware that anything that appeared from seemingly nowhere shouldn’t be picked up.

“Yes exactly as I said Sir there was a wall of black and yellow light and then they were just there. I’ve reviewed the incident on the computer yet I still can’t make heads or tails of it”
Alfred had obviously had to find something to do in the time it took Bruce to receive his emergency message and make his excuses at Wayne Enterprises; in the Batmobile he could make it from Gotham to the Manor in minutes, in civilian traffic he was lucky to make it within an hour. That was a long time to leave a baby on a cave floor. Which Alfred proved handing Bruce a tablet littered with various stats.
“I ran as many tests as I could Sir, no doubt you’ll wish to run them again but they seem to be an ordinary infant”



He would run the tests again, not that he didn’t trust Alfred. But first; Bruce approached the Bat computer. The relevant security footage was queued up ready to be played. It was exactly as Alfred said; a wall of black interspersed with a repeating band of yellow light blunk into existence in the middle of the cave, the child came through it and then it vanished as though it had never been there.
Not a Boom Tube but certainly a portal of some kind. Where had he seen a portal of black and yellow light before? Bruce’s brain slammed to an abrupt halt as he remembered.



Them.



He plucked the infant from the floor in as close to a panic as he ever allowed himself to be; they didn’t so much as stir and he knew they’d been drugged.
Knew because if he were going to send a baby to another dimension he would knock them out for the goodbyes too.



It wasn’t a blanket they’d been swaddled in but something thicker and woollen; a coat he realised as he began hastily unwrapping them.
“Master Bruce, what...?” He tossed the coat to Alfred, who expertly caught it.
“This is; this was your Mother’s. Chanel if I remember, it’s packed away upstairs, how...?”
Out of the coat the baby was still well bundled but he could make out more now. A round face; unremarkable at first glance but he could see hints of the structure it would come to have with age and it was familiar, as was the nose. And neither was his. A sprinkling of freckles like the ones he’d grown out of interrupted porcelain skin; he’d always been fair, long before his lifestyle kept him away from the sunlight. Hair was little more than dark tufts with noticeable curls but then it would be wouldn’t it? And though the eyes remained closed he knew that when they finally did open they would be blue.



After four layers of random clothing and other remnants of fabric Bruce came upon two things; a final layer of a tattered pink onesie and resting on top of that a small hard-drive. Still not allowing himself to panic Bruce placed the, if the onesie was anything to go by girl, in an evidence bin and set about connecting the hard-drive.
“I really must protest...” Alfred began, he stopped when Bruce’s image came up on the main screen.



However many years it had been for his interdimensional counterpart they hadn’t been kind. His face was gaunt and scarred where the cowl had been unable to protect it; the wrinkles Bruce had begun to notice on his own face were pronounced and harsh. He was in the cave, or the cave were it ever to cave in. Shafts of light shone down upon rubble and butchered electronics. Snow appeared to be drifting down from somewhere above.



“Bet you didn’t think you’d be hearing from me again” Lord Batman said; then pleasantries over,
“Her name is Martha, she responds only to ‘Essie’. Age nine months, two weeks, three days. In case our timelines don’t quite add up, birthday April 18. I’ve included her medical records and the results to every test you’ll think to run. There’s a video for her when she’s older, if she remembers us. Show it to her, or don’t.” He broke off with a heavy defeated sigh.
“When she asks, if she asks tell her we made a mistake and we paid for it but children shouldn’t pay for their parents sins. If you can’t raise her yourself give her to the Amazons, perhaps in your dimension they’ll accept her. I’ve destroyed the portal at this end. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but there’s nothing for her here. She’s all we had left and she deserves better. You’d do the same”



“My word was that...?”
Bruce didn’t wait for his butler to finish he put a finger to his ear and activated his comm link on two specific channels.
“Come to the cave. Now”
He hung up and had only just transferred what were looking to be the results to every test he could think to run to the tablet Alfred had handed him with it’s own list of results when Superman touched down.
“I thought bats were nocturnal, what’s going o...is that a baby?”
“What does it look like?”
When his host didn’t so much as glance away from the screen he held Clark turned to Alfred who merely blinked and decided now would be the best time to fetch some tea and see about digging Master Bruce’s baby things out of storage.



Diana materialised moments later.
“I came as soon as I could what’s the emergency?”
“Shhh you’ll wake the baby” Clark told her
“No you won’t she’s been sedated” Bruce said
Diana wasn’t sure what she should be more confused over; the fact that there was a baby or that it was sedated. In the end she settled on the sedation. Many people had babies, very few sedated them.
“You drugged a baby?”
“Not me per se”
She opened her mouth to ask then who per se when Clark held up a hand to stop her.
“Maybe you should tell us everything from the beginning Bruce”



So he did. Starting with the emergency call from Alfred, the man himself appeared at this point to distribute refreshments and inform his employer he was not lugging an antique crib down into a cave so if he would please be the first to know when the child was clear to leave the evidence bin. He’d vanished by the time Lord Batman’s image once again filled the main screen. Clark and Diana remained silent throughout his message only speaking once the video had ended.



“The Amazons, why the Amazons?” Diana asked
“Because according to this she’s your daughter too Princess” Bruce indicated the results of the DNA test his counterpart had provided on the tablet.
“That’s impossible”
“It’s unlikely. I’ll run the test again”
“Don’t bother, she’s a match” Clark interrupted looking intently at the baby; Essie Bruce supposed he’d better get used to calling her.
“Congratulations I guess?” The Kryptonian offered with a shrug of his massive shoulders.
“That’s impossible” Diana repeated
“She’s a match Diana, I’m looking at her DNA right now. She’s on the right frequency for their universe” Clark turned to Bruce
“Frequency?”
“It’s hard to explain. All things vibrate; have a rhythm of sorts. Different dimensions have different rhythms. I can see it when I know what to look for. She matches the frequency of the Lords dimension”
“That’s impossible” Diana said yet again
“It’s true Wally can see it too, well in his case I guess it’s more of a feeling thing”
“No you don’t understand she can’t be my daughter”
“The results don’t lie Princess. She’s your child, our child. Their child.”
“She can’t be”
“Why not?”
“Because I can’t have children!” Diana cried.



She flinched at the looks Bruce and Clark threw at her outburst. Concern featured on each of their faces. Clark’s held a touch of pity while Bruce seemed annoyed he didn’t already know that. Perhaps of he had allowed their flirtation to go anywhere he would.
“My Mother sculpted me from clay” She said when she couldn’t stand it any more.
“That doesn’t mean...”
“All of me Bruce, down to my bones. She never bothered sculpting me a womb, she never expected me to need one”
“Well?”Bruce turned to Clark
“Well what?”
“Is she telling the truth?”
“I’m not going to use my X-ray vision to...”
“You doubt me!” Diana was before Bruce in what barely qualified as the blink of an eye fists clenched. It was at this inopportune moment Essie decided to rouse.



She didn’t cry and flail so much as struggle to move her limbs and when they clumsily met with the plastic of the evidence bin a low whine began in the back of her throat. Eyes, blue as Bruce had predicted but closer to Diana’s sky like shade than his own icy one opened. They drifted shut moments later as she wasn't quite up to full consciousness yet. But the whine continued punctured now with little hiccupy gasps as she kept trying to get her arms and legs to work.



Clark, boyscout that he was cracked first. Plucking Essie from the evidence bin and cradling her expertly.
“Hey now, hey now. You’re safe here” He all but cooed. Whatever the desired effect it wasn’t achieved as upon hearing his voice Essie began to struggle as much as she was able to. Her whine likewise escalated to a piercing cry. Clark tried rocking, bouncing and shushing all to no avail. In the end he stood there holding Essie like a bewildered statue until Diana took pity on him. Surprisingly her cries died down the moment she was in the Amazons considerably less than expert arms, returning to a gurgling whine as she overcame her sedation.



“I don’t understand that always quietened Van down...” Clark stopped speaking abruptly and closed his eyes like he was trying to shut something unpleasant out. Bruce decided not to pry. Instead he called Alfred to inform him Essie was clear to leave the evidence bin. Her whine had turned into displeased huffs by the time the manservant made it back down.
“I’ve yet to finish airing out the nursery but I’ve set the crib up in Master Dick’s room, should he come to stay I’m afraid he’ll have to make do with the guest suite” He explained. Diana didn’t need to ask why Essie couldn’t simply sleep in the guest suite herself; that was where she had stayed after the watchtower was destroyed in the Thanagarian invasion, she knew it was in a completely different wing to the families rooms. Instead she held the child she was desperately trying to tell herself did not have her nose to Alfred who took her primly.



The minute she left Diana’s arms however Essie once again began crying and her attempts at flailing were getting better. Frowning Bruce approached.
“Give her to me” He ordered. Alfred obliged and just as she had for Diana Essie calmed down.
“Fussy little thing isn’t she? Gets that from you I’m afraid” He commented.
“I think she did. Diana take her” Bruce handed the once more snuffling with displeasure infant to her ‘mother’ and noted that she remained at her sedation induced level of discomfort.
“Now give her to Clark” He instructed
“Oh I really don’t think that’s...”
“Take the baby Kent”
He did and as predicted the instant she was in his arms she began screaming blue murder. Fortunately Clark being Superman meant none of her now actual flailing did any damage.
“I told you!” Clark yelled over the noise. But Bruce just watched calculating and probably would have remained that way for a further few minutes if Essie hadn’t regained the ability to keep her eyes open.
“Da!” She cried spotting him stretching her arms out desperately.
“Da! Da! Da!” Fat tears rolled down chubby cheeks from terrified blue eyes and just like his teammates before him Bruce reached his breaking point. He scooped Essie out of Clark’s arms.



“I don’t think she likes you” Diana said mildly once Essie had quietened down again.
“I’m just out of practise. I haven’t held any babies in a while” Clark’s tone was almost light but it didn’t fool Bruce or Diana. Whatever he was thinking about had nothing to do with the many children parents would thrust into Superman’s arms for photo’s.
“It’s more likely she hasn’t been exposed to anyone other than myself and Diana” Bruce said. Essie was still crying but her tears were somehow an altogether more heartbreaking silent. Despite being in her ‘father’s’ arms she was scared.
“No one else? Not even the other Lords or Alfred?” Diana asked
“I believe our counterparts found themselves alone, possibly even hunted by the others; he did betray them after all” Bruce took a deep breath
“And I believe he disposed of Alfred long before they ever made contact with us”
“Well I should bloody well hope so” All eyes snapped to the Butler
“Allow me to assure you Master Bruce that should you desire to go down the path of your interdimensional self you would do so over my dead body”
Neither Diana nor Clark could quite decipher the smile servant and master shared at that.



“In any case it leaves us with a problem” Bruce glanced down at the no longer crying but clearly no less afraid in the presence of strangers child he held. Wordlessly he held her out to Diana who merely raised a regal eyebrow at him.
“Why should I take her?”
“We’re the only ones she feels safe with and I have to go over her files. You didn’t have any issues mothering Etrigan”
“We were seven and Etrigan wasn’t my alleged daughter. Why don’t you hold her and I’ll go over the files”
“I’ll get through it quicker” Bruce gave a smirk and adjusted Essie so he could bring the list of test results up on the main screen. Not that Diana or Clark would be able to tell that’s what they were, only members of the Batclan would be able to decipher the shorthand they were written in. Rolling her eyes and muttering something about paranoid bats Diana took Essie and held her awkwardly. Aware all of a sudden of just how hard and sharp several parts of her armour were and how they all seemed to be exactly where a baby would be most comfortable being held. Alfred seemed to realise this dilemma too
“Do follow me Your Highness I believe I can find something upstairs for you to change into” He offered.



Diana followed him upstairs leaving Bruce and Clark in the cave. The former had begun making, as promised short work of the files his counterpart had provided; the latter watched him for several moments before saying;
“Now what?”
Bruce paused his reading to regard the Man of Steel blankly.
“What do you mean now what?”
“Well what’s in the protocols for this?”
“There are no protocols for this. Why would I have protocols for this?”
“I thought you had protocols for everything”
“Why would I even dream of an alternate version of myself having a child with Diana, rebuilding the portal that connects our dimensions and sending her through it? Please enlighten me as to the steps I could have possibly taken to prepare for this!”
Realising he was witnessing what amounted to a breakdown Clark took a deep breath
“It’s going to be OK Bruce”
“Oh it is is it? You finally add future sight to your collection? Well thanks for the heads up Clark. Can you tell me where Poison Ivy’s going to strike next while you’re at it? Or is this newfound ability of yours only good for vague reassurance?” Bruce snapped.
“You need to calm down”
Bruce laughed, not his careless playboy giggle or the low chuckle he would sometimes employ as Batman but a strung out, eerie and disjointed sound.
“Well thank you Dr Kent for that grand insight I’ll be sure to get right on that. Right after I get done drafting the protocols for having interdimensional daughters dumped on me. You want me to draw up a set for you while I’m at it? Maybe your other self finally let Lois out of that apartment.” Bruce’s tone was acid and Clark wasn’t as immune to it as he was the real thing. Still he drew on his years of experience dealing with the Dark Knights thornier side before he spoke again.
“I mean it. You’re no good to anyone like this and you know it”



Bruce glared and Clark swore he could see a thousand acerbic remarks flying like bats through his mind ready to be unleashed.
But they weren’t; Bruce kept his mouth firmly closed and Clark heard his heartbeat forcibly return to it’s usual rhythm. Though he suspected if he were to take a close enough peek at his bloodstream he’d see the adrenaline running through it.
“So now what?” He asked again
“I have no idea” Bruce said all the bite had trickled out of the bat leaving him sounding tired.
“I don’t have a single plan for this. Would you believe I don’t even have a plan regarding any non interdimensional children?”
“Not after reading what your playboy act gets up to”
Bruce gave a shaky though not entirely un sardonic smile at that
“Says something about our lives that this happened before that doesn’t it?”
“I think the fact we’re discussing this like it’s sane says more”
Bruce allowed himself a proper smile at that and then just when Clark thought they had finally reached their daily quota of unexpected for the day Bruce asked a question
“What do you think I should do?”
“You’re asking me for my advice?”
“Well you’re the one with experience here”
“Experience? How do you figure?”
“Supergirl”



The name bought back memories; happy but poignant of a time when Superman hadn’t been alone in the universe, when Krypton had had a last daughter as well as son. It wasn’t that Clark tried to avoid remembering the years he had been able to spend with his cousin, he just found that memories tended to lead into thinking about where Kara was now and that was the hard part. The knowledge that whatever happened in her life he would never know. He liked to think she was happy in the future even if it was with a version of Brainiac. Maybe they even had children of their own by now. That wasn’t such a bad thought; the idea that there were Kryptonians somewhere in the future instead of just the past. He snuck a glance at the evidence bin that had held Essie with just a touch of superspeed to ensure Bruce wouldn’t be able to notice before he spoke again.



“It wasn’t the same with Kara, she was already a teenager when I found her. It was easy for her to fit into Clark Kent’s life; a crash course in English and Ma and Pa telling everyone they’d been looking into becoming foster parents and that was that. And Smallville folks aren’t nearly as nosy as the gossip writers who tail Bruce Wayne. I should know”
“Not as bloodthirsty either”
“All I know is you can’t decide anything by yourself here Bruce, she’s Diana’s daughter too”
“She’s neither of ours daughter. She’s the child of tyrants” The iron was back in Bruce’s voice
“That’s not her fault.”



Bruce was silent at that. His own gaze drifted to the empty evidence bin, then to the discarded clothing he had unwrapped Essie from. It was designer, he could tell that without having to check labels; off the rack though, no Alfred to tailor his mind supplied without prompting and absolutely ragged. Shirts, tuxedo jackets, dresses. Bruce recognised one scrap that wasn’t clothing at all but instead matched his bedroom curtains. He remembered the snow in the video drifting down to cover the remains of the cave and knew the only way the cave would ever be open to the elements like that was if there were no manor above it. His and Diana’s other selves had gone to whatever lengths they could to keep their daughter warm. They had gone even further to keep her safe
.

And now he was forced to consider if he really would do the same.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


I didn't know you could post fanfic here as well as the dedicated fanfiction portion of the site! (I mean I hope you can, I'm seeing others doing it)
Story notes
What’s in a name: Now some of you may be wondering just how you get the nickname ‘Essie’ from Martha. It’s no secret that members of the Batclan refer to eachother with codenames beyond their alter ego’s their most common one is to call eachother by their initials so Batman becomes ‘B’. Essie is derived from the initials ‘S.C’ which in turn stand for ‘Sara Crewe’ who the more literary minded among you will recognise as the main character from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel ‘A Little Princess’.

Never forgetting: In the episode ‘For the Man who has Everything’ Superman spends a day in his own ideal world where he has a son ‘Van El’ and is forced to give it all up to return to reality. But I imagine that’s the sort of thing that stays with a person and he still remembers being a father.

Home is where the heart is: When Batman used the Watchtower to destroy the Thanagarian generator in ‘Starcrossed’ he rendered both Diana and J’onn homeless. Where they actually stayed until the new Watchtower was built we may never know and while I personally like to believe J’onn got to spend more time with the Kents I know all us Wonderbat shippers like to think Diana stayed at Wayne Manor.

All around to the Kents: In the Superman episode ‘Little Girl Lost’ Clark finds his cousin Kara in stasis on the Kryponian colony of Argo and takes her to earth where she proceeds to become Supergirl and get sick of all the time she’s forced to spend down on the farm. In another episode ‘Unity’ Martha and Jonathan are referred to as her foster parents.

That’s all for now. Please let me know what you thought, I accept criticism of my work but ask that it be constructive
Ari Out!
0 x

User avatar
DaisyJane
Justice League
Posts: 6415
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:52 pm
Justice League Membership: Donna Troy
Location: Los Angeles
x 255
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Sun May 03, 2020 11:37 pm

Saw this on AO3 and was intrigued. I don't know why you used them at the beginning instead of it. I was confused thinking there was more than one baby or being. Otherwise good start and can't wait to read more.
0 x
FU DC

User avatar
MTVCCVC
Justice League
Posts: 4659
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:03 pm
Justice League Membership: Tim Drake [Red Robin]
Location: Sisak, Croatia
x 93

Re: Foreign Soil

Mon May 04, 2020 4:08 pm

You definitely have a good hook there. I'm interested in where this is going.

You have an interesting writing style in places. Very descriptive. You can paint an image with words quite well.

It was a little hard to follow what's going on and who is speaking at times. I feel like quite a few sebtences are missing commas in appropriate places.

Using 'they' instead of 'it' in reference to the child was somewhat confusing, like DJ said.

Batman's little freakout felt a little ooc, imo.


Other than that, i like it. I was invested before the halfway point, which is a good omen in my view.
0 x

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Mon May 04, 2020 10:34 pm

DaisyJane wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 11:37 pm
Saw this on AO3 and was intrigued. I don't know why you used them at the beginning instead of it. I was confused thinking there was more than one baby or being. Otherwise good start and can't wait to read more.
I'm glad you liked it

I've always preferred 'they' over 'it' as a gender neutral pronoun, 'it' for me leans more towards objects so I try to avoid it in relation to people
0 x

User avatar
DaisyJane
Justice League
Posts: 6415
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:52 pm
Justice League Membership: Donna Troy
Location: Los Angeles
x 255
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Mon May 04, 2020 11:16 pm

While you may prefer it is has not become standard English and can be confusing to your reader as it implies more than one and not gender neutrality. If you don't like it in reference to a person I would recommend using generalizations like the child, the infant, the baby until you establish sex. Even he/she would be better and less confusing. And of course posting here is fine, we often use it when we are working on a story and want input/feedback before publishing. Or to bounce ideas off other writers/fans. We have also used to do round robins for fun (they often turned out a mess and are mostly unfinished LOL).
0 x
FU DC

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Mon May 04, 2020 11:45 pm

DaisyJane wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 11:16 pm
While you may prefer it is has not become standard English and can be confusing to your reader as it implies more than one and not gender neutrality. If you don't like it in reference to a person I would recommend using generalizations like the child, the infant, the baby until you establish sex. Even he/she would be better and less confusing. And of course posting here is fine, we often use it when we are working on a story and want input/feedback before publishing. Or to bounce ideas off other writers/fans. We have also used to do round robins for fun (they often turned out a mess and are mostly unfinished LOL).
I've found in the current gender climate it's use as a gender neutral pronoun is becoming more widespread and accepted. I am inclined to stick with it but of course now that Essie has a defined gender it probably won't pop up again ^_^ He/She feels clumsy and clunky to me and I thought it would throw off the prose, seems like my choice of 'they' did anyway (whoops) As a writer yourself I'm sure you know that there's only so often you can switch up things like 'the child' 'the baby' 'the infant' in a paragraph before it starts to tangle on you and you're forced to find something new for the sake of the flow. It's an eternal struggle

So is this space meant only for works in progress? I was going to post the second chapter here but if it's intended for pre published works I'll stick to posting in the appropriate area
0 x

User avatar
DaisyJane
Justice League
Posts: 6415
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:52 pm
Justice League Membership: Donna Troy
Location: Los Angeles
x 255
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Tue May 05, 2020 3:10 am

No you can post here as well. It is pretty freeform around here and whatever you want (as long as it isn't rude and mean) to post is fine. But if you would also like feedback and constructive criticism let us know.

I am pretty old school when it comes to grammar and I always strive for clarity in my writing so I wouldn't use a plural pronoun to describe an individual. People might be using it but I have yet to see it in a published book so I personally would not use it in a story but that is just my opinion. Otherwise I am enjoying the story and look forward to reading more. I taught my oldest daughter baby sign language but ironically she starting talking at the same time she mastered the signs. She was an early talker. But I did know that sign for milk (as well as please and thank you). Looks like Essie is a smart one and her infancy was quite harrowing.
0 x
FU DC

User avatar
MTVCCVC
Justice League
Posts: 4659
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:03 pm
Justice League Membership: Tim Drake [Red Robin]
Location: Sisak, Croatia
x 93

Re: Foreign Soil

Tue May 05, 2020 5:55 am

Ari wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 11:45 pm
I've found in the current gender climate it's use as a gender neutral pronoun is becoming more widespread and accepted. I am inclined to stick with it but of course now that Essie has a defined gender it probably won't pop up again ^_^ He/She feels clumsy and clunky to me and I thought it would throw off the prose, seems like my choice of 'they' did anyway (whoops) As a writer yourself I'm sure you know that there's only so often you can switch up things like 'the child' 'the baby' 'the infant' in a paragraph before it starts to tangle on you and you're forced to find something new for the sake of the flow. It's an eternal struggle
As a fluent, but not native english speaker who is fairly well informed with regards to the controversial discussions surrounding pronouns, I can tell you that if I was confused, most every other non-native english speaker will definitely be confused.
The discussion you mention is not very wide spread. The vast majority do not know there is even a discussion.
0 x

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Tue May 05, 2020 6:30 am

MTVCCVC wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 5:55 am
Ari wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 11:45 pm
I've found in the current gender climate it's use as a gender neutral pronoun is becoming more widespread and accepted. I am inclined to stick with it but of course now that Essie has a defined gender it probably won't pop up again ^_^ He/She feels clumsy and clunky to me and I thought it would throw off the prose, seems like my choice of 'they' did anyway (whoops) As a writer yourself I'm sure you know that there's only so often you can switch up things like 'the child' 'the baby' 'the infant' in a paragraph before it starts to tangle on you and you're forced to find something new for the sake of the flow. It's an eternal struggle
As a fluent, but not native english speaker who is fairly well informed with regards to the controversial discussions surrounding pronouns, I can tell you that if I was confused, most every other non-native english speaker will definitely be confused.
The discussion you mention is not very wide spread. The vast majority do not know there is even a discussion.
Maybe we're moving in different spheres either online, irl or both. It might even be cultural but like I said my own experience places 'they' not just as an up and coming but established and acceptable (though maybe not widely *accepted*) personal pronoun. We could all probably go round and round in circles forever over this lol
😂
0 x

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Tue May 12, 2020 12:40 am

DaisyJane wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 3:10 am
No you can post here as well. It is pretty freeform around here and whatever you want (as long as it isn't rude and mean) to post is fine. But if you would also like feedback and constructive criticism let us know.

I am pretty old school when it comes to grammar and I always strive for clarity in my writing so I wouldn't use a plural pronoun to describe an individual. People might be using it but I have yet to see it in a published book so I personally would not use it in a story but that is just my opinion. Otherwise I am enjoying the story and look forward to reading more. I taught my oldest daughter baby sign language but ironically she starting talking at the same time she mastered the signs. She was an early talker. But I did know that sign for milk (as well as please and thank you). Looks like Essie is a smart one and her infancy was quite harrowing.
I was hoping someone would catch on to the Baby sign language ^_^ I was originally going to have her be completely non verbal with the Lord versions only communicating with her in signs to try and keep her as quiet as possible. But while I think Bruce would be fluent in Sign language I doubt Diana would be up to par and if they were speaking to eachother they wouldn't be able to stop Essie from picking up speech . I'm still not sure how much of her early years I'll have stay with her as she grows.
0 x

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Tue May 12, 2020 12:41 am

Diana of Themyscira was used to the unexpected.



As a superhero it was an occupational hazard; there was never any telling just where any given day might end up. In her career as Wonder Woman she had been to Hell, several alien worlds and more alternate timelines and dimensions than she cared to count; turned into a pig, turned into an ape and on one memorable occasion a 7 year old.



This however was something completely new. This went beyond unexpected and into ludicrous territory. This was quite frankly unbelievable.



This also didn’t want to be put down so she could change into the matching sweatshirt and pants Alfred had provided.



They sat neatly folded on the bed before her, Dick’s bed. The exquisitely carved crib that now sat beside it had let Diana in immediately as to who’s room she had been shown to. Along with a few Haly’s circus posters still stuck to the walls. While she hadn’t seen Alfred procure her borrowed clothing directly from the dresser she suspected they were Dick’s too; the closest match to her own physique the Manor could provide. Not that they were doing her much good as she was unable to put them on. She stood before the bed holding Essie in a fashion she was certain was in no way comfortable yet any movement she made that might so much as suggest she was going to relinquish her hold would set her off.



Diana made to sit on the bed and at the movement Essie’s eyes snapped to hers bewilderedly as she tried to determine whether she was about to be let go. Seeing her own eyes play host to Bruce’s calculating gaze was downright unnerving.
“You have to let me change” She told her. Essie couldn’t say anything to that but her eyes clearly stated she intended to do no such thing. They held a stubborn glint that could have been procured from either of her parents. Diana met the mirror of her eyes and steeled herself no less than she would for battle.



The second she moved to lower Essie into the waiting crib she began to shriek and twist as much as Diana’s hold would allow but the Amazon princess remained undeterred in her mission. She placed Essie firmly in the crib and though she winced as the infant somehow found a new level of volume to cry at and began to flail; tiny hands beating with all the coordination her age could provide against antique oak, Diana remained set on her course. She removed the armour from her uniform with the exception of her bracers and took off her boots before pulling on the borrowed sweatsuit as quickly as she could. There were some things that just couldn’t be spun into.



She scooped Essie up as soon as she was done and as always her cries ceased almost the instant she was held. It made Diana frown. She couldn’t claim to know much or anything really about children but she was certain it wasn’t normal for a baby to cry whenever not being held. It also made her wonder; had Essie been held constantly by her and Bruce’s counterparts? Her behaviour approached what could be considered conditioning, had that been the case? Had she been trained to distrust anything and anyone unfamiliar, to feel safe only in her parents arms. What sort of circumstances had led that other Bruce and Diana to raise their daughter so? Whatever they had been had clearly been enough for them to eventually decide she would be better off among strangers than with them.



Diana couldn’t imagine sending her child away to another dimension, even if she knew another version of herself waited there. But then she couldn’t imagine having a child at all.



It wasn’t the sort of thing it did for an Amazon to linger on. They had had children once Diana knew. Before they had been granted immortality and hidden from the world of Man. But from all the accounts Diana had heard they had been rather Spartan about the whole affair, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the Spartans had been rather Amazonian. There was little time or tolerance for sentimentality with boy children returned to their fathers and girls put into training as soon as they could hold a wooden sword. Their time without children since Themyscira’s removal from the world to Diana’s ‘birth’ had mellowed many enough to regret the wasted time with their own daughters allowing her own childhood to be filled with a level of doting no other Amazon had experienced but others had still scoffed at their Queen’s decision to bring her little clay doll to life.



She had had a paradoxically lonely childhood. Surrounded and adored by hundreds of ‘sisters’ yet with no age mates or anyone else in the world like her. Adults aplenty to care and coddle but no one to play and share with. Diana glanced down at the child she held
“Perhaps you understand that” She said.
Essie’s only response was to raise a tiny hand, clench a fist and release it.
“Maybe not”
That gained little more than a repeat of the same motion and then another one accompanied by a little huff. Diana tilted her head in confusion as Essie continued to open and close her fist with growing frustration. Her confusion evaporated when Essie began to whine and nudged her face firmly against her breast as a little hand stretched out to tug unsuccessfully at her sweatshirt. Diana didn’t know much about babies but she certainly knew how they were fed.
“I’m sorry Little Sister I have nothing to give you” She said and realising she wasn’t getting anywhere Essie once again began to cry



Diana envied her.



Being entitled to a free reign of your emotions was an attractive position at the moment. Scared? Confused? Frustrated? Or even just hungry? No one could blame a baby for crying over any of those things. Adults however were expected to show composure even if they felt the exact same. Princesses even more so. Summoning a mask of serenity and settling her shoulders with poise like she had been trained since childhood, lest no one ever suspect she was envious of a baby (Bruce would know the moment he saw her, he always seemed to know exactly what she was thinking and it never failed to both impress and infuriate her) Diana left Dick’s room and made her way to the kitchen where she knew Alfred would be. She took the servants passages where she could as she had when she lived at the Manor, saving herself a trip though the grand halls and reception rooms Diana knew barely saw any use. Essie seemed to prefer the narrow servants hallways herself, shrinking into Diana’s chest when presented with anything wider than a meter with wary eyes and a noticeable dip in the volume of her cries.



By the time Diana had made it to the kitchen the time in unfamiliar and open surroundings had led Essie to lower her cries to a sulky grizzle as she continued to alternately try tugging at her sweatshirt and make the same clenching motion with her fist.
“Alfred....”Diana began as she entered the kitchen she stopped short at the sight that greeted her. The kitchen was the heart of Wayne Manor, a title that lost some significance when the fact it was the only space that received continual and consistent use from all it’s residents was considered. A long and broad room that had not forgotten it was meant to house a full staff serving a full household it was Alfred’s domain no less than the cave below was Batman’s and it was to his eternal credit that he had reined the space into a welcoming sanctuary rather than allowing it to be a lonely testament to what no longer was. The fittings and appliances were original where it counted, modern where Alfred insisted and all completely spotless. Or at least they had been the last time Diana had seen them. Now every surface from the antique wooden island to the table in the dining nook; Bruce’s preferred dining spot on the rare occasion he could be made to eat anywhere that wasn’t in front of a screen and even the black and white tiled floor were piled high with boxes and shopping bags.
“Do excuse the mess Your Highness” Said an Alfred shaped shadow from behind a wall of cardboard.
“What is all this?”
“The bags are courtesy of Mr Kent, while you were indisposed he was kind enough to undertake a supply run. Everything else is out of storage”



Diana peeked into the bag nearest her and was greeted by a stack of neatly folded baby clothes; a glance at Essie’s ragged attire assured they hadn’t come a moment too soon.
“How far did he go?” The receipt on top wasn’t in English and the prices were given in Euros.
“I didn’t ask no doubt the bank will inform us when they call to report the suspicious card activity” Alfred stepped primly out from behind the wall holding a silver rattle.
“Fortunately Master Bruce is well versed in writing off unusual purchases by now”
The tinkling sound the rattle gave at the motion drew Essie’s eyes to it with considerably less suspicion than they usually held, in fact she almost looked interested. But it wasn’t enough to distract her for long and she quickly returned to whining and making the same strange hand movement.
“Someone’s disposition has not improved I see”
“She’s hungry Alfred I don’t know what to do” Diana couldn’t keep a note of panic from entering her voice. She briefly considered shoving Essie into the manservant's arms and running. To where she wasn’t quite sure, yesterday perhaps before any of the strange events of today had taken place and the world still made it’s usual brand of sense.



Hera she felt like she was drowning.



Fortunately Alfred had many years of experience as a lighthouse to those cast adrift in the vast sea of circumstance.
“Feed her I should think” He said unflappable as ever as he manoeuvred his way through the maze of boxes that had taken over the kitchen. He procured a tea kettle and filled it setting it on the gas hob to boil.
“I believe the formula is in the bag on the table if you would be so kind Your Highness”
Grateful to be given any form of direction Diana took to the air and floated over numerous bags to the dining nook, the motion silenced Essie for a brief moment as she seemed to weigh up the safe familiarity of her mother’s arms against her well trained terror of the unknown. Diana’s feet were back on the ground before she could decide whether she was scared or not. Diana almost started down the path of wondering why she would find flight unfamiliar before she remembered her other self had been stripped of her abilities. The bag contained 3 large cheerfully coloured tins all bragging about their nutritional completeness and that they were products of New Zealand.
“He went all the way to New Zealand for baby formula?” Diana floated across to Alfred with a tin taking care to land before Essie had a chance to make her mind up about the unfamiliarity of flight.
“Mr Kent made mention of them possessing the best dairy. I find myself inclined to believe him given his background; he seemed rather pained to admit it” Alfred sported a wry smile as he took the offered tin and read the instructions with a careful eye, long used to skimming the maximum amount of information in the shortest amount of time.



Batman had sought out and been trained by the best in the world in disciplines ranging from the martial arts and gymnastics to escape artistry and slight of hand but whatever he had pursued Diana had come to believe that being raised by Alfred had given him a head start with an invaluable knowledge of how to move. Watching the butler preform even the most basic of tasks was like watching a carefully choreographed ballet. Preparing baby formula was no different. He removed the kettle to a waiting pot rest the second it began to boil before rolling his sleeves up and scrubbing his hands as a surgeon would. Drying them with a clean tea towel he opened the tin of formula and scooped out a cup of powder which was expertly levelled with a pristine knife and set down on an equally pristine cutting board. The kettle was retrieved as was a baby bottle. Water was poured, the perfectly level scoop of formula was added and then swirled until it dissolved. Finally a lid was screwed on, three drops were squeezed onto an exposed wrist and with a nod of satisfaction Alfred held the bottle out to Diana.
“Here we are”



Diana took the bottle from him and stared hardly believing it was her own hand she saw holding it. She registered the bottle and that it was in a hand. She saw that that hand extended into a silver clad wrist, her wrist. But something prevented her from adding the two together correctly. She stood amidst the boxes and bags that had taken over Wayne Manor’s kitchen as though the prayer that had given her life had never been uttered. The full width and breadth of the days events settled across her shoulders as the heavens did across Atlas’s no less weighty or salient. She had received Bruce’s transmission over an hours ago and had been cradling the child all available evidence said was her daughter for most of that time. She had carried her, spoken to her, comforted her simply through the act of being there but none of that was the same as what she was now expected to do.



Made of dishwasher safe plastic and decorated with cartoon lambs and ducklings the bottle was a linchpin. So long as it was held and nothing else in that hand that couldn’t possibly be hers the world would remain in equilibrium. The baby would be held, the bottle would be held, Bruce would emerge from the cave with a solution as he always did and then no more bottle, no more baby. Dry land. But if the bottle was not just held in that hand that couldn’t possibly be hers, if it were pressed to a hungry little mouth, if it were drunk from that would be it. Open water.



If there was one thing her religion had taught her it was that what was eaten could not be uneaten, what was drunk could not be undrunk.



What was cared for could not be uncared for.



But if caring were the key then Diana knew her fate was sealed six seeds short of a pomegranate. Because the simple, undeniable truth was she could never not care. She could pretend not to for all the good it ever did as no one ever believed she was as unaffected as she said and the fact that of the whole League hers was the heart that saw the most sleeve time was well known. But even then there was always only so long she could keep it up, she was and always had been a truly terrible liar especially to herself. And now holding a bottle in what was definitely her hand Diana realised that after hours worth of internal denial she had arrived at the truth. The truth was it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter where the child she held came from, it didn’t matter who her parents were or what they had done. What did matter she was here now and she needed someone to care for her. Diana looked down at Essie, her hunger was starting to outweigh her desire to remain as silent as possible in her new surroundings and she was still opening and closing her fist with clear frustration. Well it would hardly be the first time her incapacity for indifference had changed her life irreversibly. She lowered the bottle to that angry little mouth and the world tilted under her feet as it latched on and Essie began to suckle greedily.



The world righted itself again and in the aftermath Diana found she had not been cast adrift but rather had landed sure footed on an unknown shore. And as she had all the other times she arrived on such a frontier she discovered that the unknown and unfamiliar wasn’t all that frightening

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Story Notes



How even: Diana gets turned into other things way more than any other Justice League member but one thing that always confused me was how in 'Dead Reckoning' Superman got turned into an Ape too after Grodd had specifically said the beam would rewrite Human DNA. He should've been fine!

Hands on: The motion Essie keeps repeating is 'milk' in american baby sign language.

How even part 2: In 'A Better World' the Justice Lords are defeated by a depower ray built by Lex Luthor and just....how? They all have completely different abilities stemming from completely different places, how can one ray render them all inert at once? Even for a cartoon based on a comic book that's pushing it.

New Zealand dairy is best dairy: You might think I'm shamelessly plugging my countries baby formula and wondering why that would even be a thing but you don't even know the half of it! You can buy it duty free from stores in our international airports, supermarkets put limits on how much you can buy at once because tourists were just buying shelves worth to send back home. What i'm saying is when it comes to baby formula NZ's got the good shit.

Atlas shrugged just not what you think: Despite the common and widespread misconception Atlas was not punished by holding the earth on his shoulders. Instead according to Greek mythology he was made to hold up the sky.
Six seeds: I think we're all familiar with the Greek Myth of Persephone, a certain fruit and the eating thereof

Anyway that's chapter 2! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!
I'd love to hear what you thought as always I accept criticism of my work but ask that it be constructive
Ari out!
0 x

User avatar
MTVCCVC
Justice League
Posts: 4659
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:03 pm
Justice League Membership: Tim Drake [Red Robin]
Location: Sisak, Croatia
x 93

Re: Foreign Soil

Fri May 15, 2020 10:27 am

Good continuation.

I'll wait for chapter three for any critique regarding the setup, setting and plot.

It reads well, but there are some sentences that are oddly formed or (un)punctuated that prevent me from quicjly reading through.
A beta would fix this quickly and easily.

Keep it up.
0 x

User avatar
Ari
Sidekick Trainee
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:00 am
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Foreign Soil

Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:45 pm

Bruce knew he was used to entering and exiting the cave under the cover of darkness but as he emerged with Essie’s well gone over and translated files he couldn’t help but notice the library seemed brighter somehow. Maybe it was the hour; afternoon sunlight crept over the shelves and books and watery though winter made it it was still strong enough to cast a golden glow. Maybe Alfred had been through dusting and polishing recently, the curio cabinets did seem to have more of a taken care of aura than usual. Maybe this was what his house always looked like at godly hours and he had just forgotten.



He doubted it.



It had to be a trick of the light.



But that didn’t explain how the sunless hallway outside the library felt brighter too and how the yawning emptiness that made up most of the manor didn’t seem to stretch as far as usual. Bruce was as aware of that emptiness as he was the physical brick and mortar. Having it filled even partially threw off his spacial awareness and left him feeling unbalanced. Although he might just be shifting blame for the days events in general.



He had gone through and over everything, from the results to the tests Alfred had run to every file his other self had provided twice. The stats sat in the shelves of his mind carefully labelled and ordered, ready as was every other piece of information stored there to be grasped and bought forth at a moments notice.



He was used to holding all the facts, stats and information like a gambler held a winning hand and in his line of work, which was always a gamble, that’s what facts, stats and information were. But it was different this time. This time while he held the facts, stats and information in his mind what they came from was being physically held somewhere in his house. It was making compartmentalisation tough and created a gap in his thinking that he didn’t know how to fill



He didn’t know what to do. There were plenty of things he could do. A slightly lesser amount of things he should. A very set list of things he absolutely wouldn’t. And over everything were Clark’s words that no matter what it wasn’t his decision alone to make.



Well he certainly couldn’t do anything standing in a hallway. So as the lost and scattered members of Wayne Manor often did Bruce made his way to the kitchen.



It wasn’t just the library or the hallway, every room he passed through seemed brighter and more open but instead of lifting his spirits any all it did was add to his disorientation. A feeling that culminated when he entered the kitchen to find both Diana and Alfred sitting at the dining nook sharing a cup of tea.



That in and of itself was nothing strange. They had often done the same when Diana had stayed at the Manor. On more than one occasion he had returned from patrol to find Diana had joined Alfred in waiting up for him. Other times would simply find the pair seeking companionship in the once place in the Manor it could always be found.



But there were some key differences in the scene that was laid out before him now. The half unpacked boxes and shopping bags that had taken over every available space were one. How much had Clark bought? Bruce had explicitly told him essentials only yet it looked like he had purchased half a baby store. Next there was Essie sitting on Diana’s lap and engrossed in shaking a silver rattle that chimed across the room. Finally there was the panda.



Moth-eaten from the tips of his well chewed ears to his threadbare feet with a faded blue ribbon around his neck, he sat on the table next to a plate of biscuits. A well loved companion of yesteryear who’s sorry state was due only to Bruce’s childhood refusal to be parted from him. He had been chewed and drooled on, dragged through early unsteady steps and carted everywhere once he found the trick and was able to walk on his own. Up and down the Manor’s hallways and staircases. Through the gardens rain, snow or shine. He’d been outgrown eventually of course and kept tucked away in his room to be cuddled only at night until not even he, his earliest most beloved friend could keep the nightmares away.



“Ah Master Bruce, I was just telling Her Highness about Winston here’s remarkable recovery” Alfred said spotting him lingering in the doorway.
“I was under the impression childhood toys had cutesy names, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised yours was so formal” There was amusement in both Diana’s eyes and tone. They seemed to be unaware of both Essie’s presence and the soft tinkling that resounded from the rattle; or more likely and frightening had made their peace with her existence. Neither Dick nor Tim had made a habit of dragging animals home so Bruce had no clue how he was supposed to give the ‘We can’t keep it’ speech to his butler. But he also didn’t know if he wanted to give that speech at all. He didn’t like not knowing.
“I didn’t name him, Alfred did” He said to say something.
That caused Diana to turn her attention back to the butler with interest.
“So why Winston?” She asked
“Because” Bruce made his way to the table and effected Alfred’s accent and cadence as he mimicked an oft heard phrase of his childhood
“That bear has been in the wars”
Diana clearly knew enough of the history of Man’s World’s to understand the reference because she laughed. Bruce didn’t even try to stop the smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth at the sound.



“And this remarkable recovery?” She put her teacup down and reached a hand out to the bear to inspect it for any damage beyond it’s obvious thread-bareness.
“Here” Bruce knew she wouldn’t find any without being told where to look. He hooked a thumb under the ribbon and pulled it back. It took a moment to spot what he was looking for but when he did he pointed to an almost invisible knot of thread.
“When I was 4 I somehow got his head wedged in the third floor’s banister”
“And rather than get an adult he tried to pry him loose himself and ripped poor Winston’s head clean off” Alfred said picking the story up
“No!” Diana looked between the two men looking appropriately shocked though still not entirely unamused
“You never heard such a racket! Mr and Mrs Wayne were beside themselves; we all thought he must have fallen down the stairs or was trapped under a bookcase somewhere grievously injured. Well we eventually found Master Bruce completely unharmed yet utterly inconsolable on the third floor with a decapitated bear.”
“Poor Winston”
“Poor Winston indeed” Bruce took a biscuit to do something.
“I take it you repaired him Alfred?”
“No, not I” Alfred shook his head
“My Father did”
The humour that had thus far carried Diana, keeping her mouth quirked and her eyes sparkling faltered as she realised she was now treading on sacred ground. For a moment the only sound was the chiming of the silver rattle as Essie shook it.
“He was a surgeon, good with a needle” Bruce explained.



His memory of the incident was incomplete and muddied by what over the years had become a favourite story of his parents, broken out whenever they had cause to tell about the time he had given them ‘the fright of their lives’. He couldn’t separate what he actually remembered from what he had been told had happened. But all the same there was an autumn afternoon spent in his Father’s study, kneeling on a Victorian chair so he could see over his behemoth of a desk and watch him work sewing a bear back together that was forever treasured in the vault of his memory.



“Afterwards my Mother wrapped him in bandages and told me he had to spend a week in the conservatory recovering. I think she just wanted to get him away from me long enough to wash him”
That was another memory influenced by an outside narrative. The story of Winston’s decapitation always ended with him trudging to the conservatory each day to check on him until he was deemed well enough to be released back into his care. Bruce had no personal recollection of making the trip even though he could remember a bandaged panda propped up on a wicker chair.



“I wish I had a story of my own to share” Diana said offering up a tidbit of her youth in exchange for his, aware before she had spoken that the scales could not be balanced even if she had a hundred tales of similar childhood antics
“But the only stuffed animals I had were for throwing spears at”
“Oh my” Alfred looked taken aback but Bruce couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled out of him as he pictured Diana as a child; as he had known her for one strange afternoon viciously attacking a line of plush animals with a spear.
“Well I do hope the young Miss will be gentler on her toys.” Alfred sniffed “I’m afraid my own needlework doesn’t hold a candle to your Father’s”
Still slightly disorientated and now buoyed by the atmosphere of the kitchen Bruce said
“That’s alright Alfred, we’ll call Leslie if any more bears lose their heads” Before he could stop himself



He wanted to snatch the words out of the air and shove them back under his tongue the second they left his mouth. But they wouldn’t be corralled and danced away down paths he had never considered taking.



That ‘we’ and everything it could ever come to mean unfolded before him. He watched as the empty spaces that made up the Manor were filled in bit by bit as it became lived in rather than simply occupied. The bags and boxes that surrounded him now were unpacked and their contents put away in the nursery. Then more boxes, containing Diana’s belongings from the Watchtower likewise unpacked and put away in his bedroom. He saw a cobbled together patchwork family of six. Almost Mommy and Almost Daddy with Almost Daughter. Plus two sort of brothers and a Grandfather in everything but blood and name.



He saw child locks on doors, gates across stairways and suits of armour without spears. There were toys on the kitchen table, children's books in the library and little shoes left at the backdoor fresh from the gardens with warnings from Alfred that they’d better not travel any further than the mudroom. He saw school bags, books and uniforms, scattered where they shouldn’t be and sat in the front row for ballet and piano recitals.



He saw himself at his Father’s desk, no longer so large and imposing carefully repairing a broken doll while a dark haired little girl watched on.



But there were other paths, paths Bruce knew well and was used to treading. Paths that sounded like three reasons given on rooftops and looked like gargoyles with crushed heads.



He saw a portal in the middle of the cave, he had no doubt that if his other self could build one so could he. He held Essie, a little older perhaps but otherwise exactly as he had found her; sedated and rewrapped in his mother’s coat. There was no hard drive this time though, instead under all her layers was a note.
It read ‘We’re not the same’.

He saw himself 20 years from now. Older, slower, nearly the bitter old man he and Green Lantern had met; staring from the shadows as a resplendent young woman in full Amazonian armour introduced herself to the League. Her name was appropriately Greek, her origins close enough to Aresia’s to placate any questions and if anyone thought she looked a little too much like Diana or acted a little too much like him they kept it to themselves.
He shrugged off Clark’s knowing glares.

He saw Diana aboard the Watchtower Essie clutched to her chest telling everyone of the child she had found abandoned; or had been charged with caring for by the higher powers that took a more hands on approach in her life than they did anyone else's. Not the truth but not a lie. She was bought up in the halls of the Watch and Metro Towers and beloved by countless heroes. He was nothing more than one of many ‘Uncles’ and worth no more than a polite ‘hello’ when they ran into each other.
Which they didn’t, he saw to that.



Three winding paths through the familiar mire of self denial and one golden, shining road he had turned his back on at every given opportunity.



Bruce looked at Essie. She had stopped shaking the rattle and was now invested in trying to shove as much of it as she could in her mouth, fortunately she wasn’t getting far. Unprompted his mind bought forth her notes and reviewed how many teeth she possessed. Four; upper and lower central incisors. More information followed in the same fashion. Weight; 6.8kg. Length; 64.77cm. Blood type; O Positive. Bruce forced his mind to stop the recall. Everything was returned to it’s shelf as he reminded himself he had more than numbers and figures this time.



He had a daughter. He and Diana had a daughter, the road ahead was not his alone to choose. Nor his alone to walk.



“Da” Essie removed the rattle from her mouth and held it out to him. Aware of both Alfred and Diana watching him Bruce crouched before her and took it. He gave the rattle a shake and watched as Essie’s mouth stretched into a smile of pure delight at the chiming sound. Her hands came together in a clumsy clap.
“I guess we know who the favourite was, she wouldn’t let me touch that rattle” Diana said
“She took it from you at least. She didn’t so much as look when I offered” Alfred sniffed
“Who’s a clever girl then?” Bruce gave the rattle another shake and without removing his gaze from Essie smirked at the mutinous glares he knew he was receiving from Alfred and Diana.
“Straight to his head” Alfred muttered
“I’m sure it’s a new experience, being someone's favourite” It was amazing how Diana could still manage to look down her nose at him from a seated position.
“You mean I’m not yours?” Bruce said. He kept his voice purposefully light and imbued it with a hint of teasing to match the atmosphere of humour that still permeated the room. But there was an unmistakable edge under it and he watched from the corner of his eye as Diana’s face coloured and she stumbled over a few abortive responses before she managed to compose herself and lowering her gaze, yet purposefully avoiding his eyes she replied
“I thought that option was off the table”



“Oh dear is that the time? I’m afraid I have pressing duties I must attend to. Excuse me Your Highness” Alfred stood smoothly and catching Bruce’s eyes with a clear warning to behave he left the room just as silently as any member of his household. Bruce slid into his vacated seat across from Diana. Her eyes remained fixed solidly on the teacup before her, her hand ran itself absently through Essie’s curls. A gesture of comfort who’s familiarity did not go unnoticed by Bruce.



“Diana”
Her gaze finally rose to meet his, wary and worn.
“I’m in no mood for lists Bruce” She said
“I don’t have any”
An eyebrow was arched at him and he faltered.
“Alright there’s a list”
Diana’s lips pulled into a thin line and she nodded, mainly he knew, to herself.
“But I don’t want to do anything on it” He added quickly and realised as he said it that he truly didn’t.
He didn’t want to send Essie back to where she came from. Nor did he want to know that radiant young Amazon or watch from the walls as a young girl grew up in the Watchtower.
“What do you want then?”
That was the question and now Bruce felt sure he knew the answer.
“For Essie to stay here”
Diana seemed shocked by that and he tried not to feel hurt. It was expected really.
“I want Essie to stay here. Live here. With us. We can give her the life her parents couldn’t, the one they wanted her to have. We can be the parents she deserves. You and me, I know we can.”
He was floundering, he knew he was. All the smooth, easy words he usually had tucked away in his arsenal dangled just beyond his reach. This was why he avoided being earnest. He met Diana’s eyes once more and begged her to save him. Kind Goddess that she was she granted him absolution and safe passage back into familiar waters.
“What’s your plan?”



He didn’t have one but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t. Already his mind was formulating. Diana could stay in Dick’s room until the nursery was ready. Or if she would prefer her own space Alfred could have the guest suite she’d stayed in before made up within the hour. She could have the whole wing if that wasn’t enough; he couldn’t think of any reason it wouldn’t be, she made do with a single room on the Watchtower. Speaking of; she would have to transport there directly from the cave to avoid being seen entering or leaving the grounds as Wonder Woman. It would be a hassle to enter and wipe the coordinates manually for an extra person but not as much of a hassle as a member of the Watchtower staff finding them logged in the system and putting two together. He wasn’t hiring morons to work his billion dollar space station. But maybe it would be more prudent to come up with a reason for Diana to be excused from her League duties for the foreseeable future rather than machinate on how she would continue them. Until Essie could be comfortably left in Alfred’s or anyone else's care she would require one of them on hand and between him and Diana her schedule was the more forgiving. His schedule could be made more forgiving though; at least Bruce Wayne’s half could. He could call on a half a dozen well used excuses to take time away from Wayne Enterprises and his social calendar. The time of year leant itself to skiing holidays, he could claim to have gone abroad and broken a leg. That would buy him a few months before he had to return to work with sob stories of being confined to the couch in his Swiss chalet.



However Bruce knew these plans were all short term; removing himself and Diana from the public until Essie was no longer quite so dependant and could be kept tucked away in the manor without them. But if Essie truly were to stay she couldn’t remain hidden, she’d need to be fully integrated into Bruce Wayne’s life. Diana would need to be as well, it was clear she had no intention of giving the infant up.



It was as he was theorising on the many ways both of them could be plausibly introduced into the ongoing theatre production that was his civilian identity that Clark’s words once again found themselves in the forefront of Bruce’s mind. This wasn’t his decision alone to make.



He looked at Diana and Essie across from him and at a precipice. Diana was still stroking Essie’s dark hair in a nervous tick that she didn’t dare let reach her steady gaze. Essie was quiet, calmed and soothed by the touch of the woman she thought was her Mother and the presence of the man she thought was her Father. And just as he did every night on the rooftops of Gotham Bruce approached the edge and with the words
“We’ll figure something out”
He jumped.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story Notes

How many secret passages is too many?: Ok we all know the way to the Batcave is behind the Grandfather clock, the problem is the clock doesn't stay in one place. Throughout the DCAU it's location changes from a library/study to just sitting in a hallway. I've gone ahead and put it in a library.

Time Travel troubles: The name Winston obviously refers to Winston Churchill. While Diana every original League member but Batman fought in an alternate version of WW2 in the episode 'The Savage Time' she would still likely have had to go out of her way to educate herself on the history of the world outside of Themyscira arriving so late in it as she did.

Needlework: I'm not sure if Thomas Wayne has ever been confirmed as an actual surgeon in the DCAU over just a doctor but he was one in the comics so I've gone with it. However proficient he may of been Alfred's probably matched him by now but would never boast. In the Batman episode 'Paging the Crime Doctor' Leslie Thompkins is shown to be both a general practitioner and a surgeon.



This chapter was a bitch to write I kept slipping way to deep into a stream of consciousness style narrative and had to drag myself out back into the world of legibility. Let me know if I succeeded.
0 x

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests