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10 December 2006 @ 10:51 pm
Fic: Claim #104  
Title: Facing Fears
Author: kayim
Claim No.: 104
Prompt: Movieverse - Young Bruce runs away to Metropolis a few months after his parent's deaths and meets Clark, who is visiting the city for the first time with his parents. A good bit of Martha and Jonathan interraction with a happy Alfred reunion.
Rating: General
Word Count: 2112

:-:

Bruce Wayne, twelve-year-old heir to the Wayne Empire that included more wealth and power than he could ever dream of, was lost.

He was sure the man at the bus station had told him to go left when he reached the first set of lights, but he couldn't see the museum anywhere. Biting back the tears, he sat himself down on the roadside and tried to remember exactly what the man had said. He was a long way from home, that was for sure, but he was amazed at how far a few hundred dollars could get him. He didn't see it as stealing, not really, as surely all the money in the mansion now belonged to him. Since his parents had ... gone ... he was suffering from those nightmares again - the same ones as before where the bats were swooping down around him, screeching and flapping. There was always so much noise and it was always so dark. Alfred was always there, of course, but that wasn't the point. Bruce wanted to be rid of the dreams and he remembered what his father had told him before he... before.

"The only way to overcome your fear, Bruce, is to face it head on."

So when he'd seen the advertisement in Alfred's newspaper about the new nocturnal creatures display at the Metropolis Museum of Natural History, he decided he needed to go. He knew that Alfred would have taken him if he'd asked, but he wasn't sure he even wanted to tell him. Finding the money had been easy enough - his father had never been all that good at hiding things. Sneaking away from the mansion without Alfred noticing would be harder.

He decided that it would be easier to slip away from school, rather than the mansion, especially as his school was closer to Metropolis than Gotham was. He waited patiently for the end of the vacation and, four weeks later, he was back at Excelsior. Bruce had never enjoyed being at the boarding school, but his parents believed strongly in the benefit of a good education, so he was stuck with it. He waited some more, looking for the perfect opportunity. He wanted to go as soon as possible, but he understood that having the patience to wait for the right moment would save him a lot of trouble in the long run.

Sure enough, just before the midterms, an opening came up that was too good to miss. One of the other students, Duncan something-or-other, had run in front of a car and been killed. The school was in a panic, teachers and students running all over the grounds. It didn't take much for one small boy to slip out of the gates with a bag thrown over his shoulder. It was a few miles to the bus station but that didn't bother him. He was on his way to stand-up to his fears.

A car sped past him, horn blaring, and Bruce jumped up from the side of the road.

"Stupid," he chided himself, brushing the dirt from his pants. "Could have gotten killed. Need to be more careful."

He looked around but still had no idea where he was. This area of Metropolis was pretty deserted, so he opted to just turn around and head back the way he came.

"It's this way, I'm sure. Come on."

The man's voice sounded so much like his father for a moment that Bruce couldn't help but turn to look, half expecting to see his parents behind him. Instead, he saw a man and woman walking towards him. Looking thoroughly bored behind them, shuffling his feet, was a boy of about Bruce's age. The man was holding a large map in his hands and Bruce wanted to warn him that looking so obviously like a tourist in Metropolis wasn't safe. But, unlike Bruce, he seemed to know where he was going.

"Excuse me." Bruce hated giving in and having to ask for help, but if he didn't, he suspected he might never reach his destination.

The couple stopped, the boy, who wasn't quite so attentive, didn't and bumped into the man. The woman stepped towards Bruce. She was older than his mother, and not nearly as pretty or as well-dressed, but she seemed friendly enough.

"Are you alright, dear?" she asked, reaching a hand out towards him, as if instinctively. He withdrew from her touch, but only barely.

"I'm trying to find the museum. The natural history museum," he added as an afterthought.

"Oh, that's where we're going," she exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "You can come along with us."

This time the man spoke. "I'm Jonathan Kent and this is my wife Martha. This unenthusiastic straggler is our boy, Clark."

Automatically, Bruce reached out his hand. "I'm Bruce," he replied, hesitant to give out his surname for fear they would send him home. "I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance."

:-:

During the walk to the museum, Bruce and Clark began talking. The two boys, despite coming from very different backgrounds, found that they had a lot in common. Both boys enjoyed reading whatever books they could get their hands on and they were both at a far advanced educational level to most of their peers. Martha and Jonathan exchanged a small smile as they listened to them debating whether Ares and Mars were direct equivalents of each other, or two different interpretations of the same aspect of human psyche. The adults had agreed almost from the start that Bruce had obviously run away from home - he was far too young to be wandering around the streets of Metropolis by himself. They decided to confront him about it, but not until they got to the museum - they were not willing to risk him fleeing from them in such an open area. Instead, they allowed the boys to continue their conversation, occasionally shaking their heads at the level of conversation between two young children.

There was a queue for the museum and, by the time they got inside, the identity of the Kent's guest was fairly obvious. Most of the clues came from the boy himself, when he mentioned his father. The murder of a prominent surgeon and his wife would not usually have made the Smallville newspapers, but when that surgeon was also the billionaire and entrepreneur Thomas Wayne, the news tends to reach slightly further afield. By the time Bruce mentioned he had a butler and the fact that he lived in Gotham, Martha and Jonathan were fairly certain of his identity.

"I just need to phone home and check on Bessie," said Jonathan, referring to his favorite Fresian cow, just after they got inside the museum. The boys were staring in awe at the huge dinosaur skeleton that took up most of the entrance hall to even notice he had spoken. Martha simply smiled at him and moved slightly closer to the boys.

:-:

"Wayne Manor," came the rather English sounding voice on the other end of the line.

"Erm, hello," stammered Jonathan. He suddenly had a fear that he was going to be making a huge fool of himself. "My name is Jonathan Kent. My wife and I brought our son to the Museum of Natural History in Metropolis and came across a young boy I believe is Bruce Wayne."

"Master Bruce? But he's away at school."

"We think he may have run away," Jonathan explained.

The voice on the other end of the line gave a heavy sigh. "I shall check with the school," he said. "Do you have a number I can contact you on?"

"I'm afraid not," he replied. "But we'll be here all day. I should think the museum would be able to put a call out for us."

"I agree. If Master Bruce has indeed left his school without permission, I shall be there in an hour."

"I'll listen out for a call," replied Jonathan, hoping he was right about this.

:-:

Just over an hour later and they had just arrived at the nocturnal creatures display. Bruce stood silently outside the darkened room, suddenly unwilling to go inside. Clark asked him what the problem was, but Bruce's answer was swallowed up by an announcement that came over the tannoy. "Could Mr Jonathan Kent and his party please return to the main information booth in the entrance hall?"

The two adults looked at each other.

Clark and Bruce both tried to argue that they were old enough to stay at the display by themselves, Bruce even using the excuse that he wasn't really one of their party, but Martha and Jonathan were having none of it. Amid loud protests, the four of them headed back to the entrance hall.

Martha noticed the man first. About their age, he was dressed simply in a plain, light blue shirt and black trousers, but there was an aura of formality about him. He watched everyone who walked past closely, searching for that first glimpse of the boy who had become his ward. As Martha watched, she saw him notice Bruce trailing behind her. He breathed a visible sigh of relief and began walking towards them.

"Master Bruce." His voice was strong, and Bruce looked up instantly, his whole body tensing.

"Shit," muttered the boy quietly. He looked at Clark, wondering if it was his new friend who had figured out his identity, but Clark was simply staring at the rather tall and imposing man, wondering why he was calling Bruce 'Master'.

"We will have none of that language, son," admonished Jonathan before the other man could speak.

Bruce looked back at Jonathan and apologized, his head hung low.

The man held his hand out to Jonathan. "Alfred Pennyworth," he introduced himself. "I am very grateful to you for your telephone call." He shook hands with both of the Kents and then turned back to Bruce.

"Would you care to explain what on earth you are doing here?" he asked.

"I wanted to see the display," came the answer, succinct and to the point.

Martha gave a small, discreet cough. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr Pennyworth. But I think we'll leave you and Bruce to discuss things alone." She hated to feel like she was interrupting on something private. The boy was obviously in good hands now.

After a polite goodbye, Martha ushered her husband and son away.

"Bye, Bruce," called out Clark as he was being tugged out of the entrance hall.

Bruce simply gave a small wave. He wanted to run after his new friend and beg him to come stay in the holidays. Or just to write to him at school. But all he could do was watch as the three of them walked away from him.

"So, Master Bruce, what is so important about this display that you had to leave school in such a hurry?"

Back to the point. No rest for the wicked, Bruce thought to himself.

He was still reluctant to tell Alfred why he had come here, but he knew from experience that trying to hide anything from the butler was impossible.

"The bats," he started. "There is a display about bats and the nightmares have come back again and I thought if I could face my fears like my father taught me then they would go away and I wouldn't be scared anymore." As soon as he started talking, it was like opening the floodgates. The words and the fear came spilling forth.

Alfred, who had been planning the most effective way of punishing the boy - probably by making him clean all the bedrooms in the mansion on his weekend - softened. He knew about the nightmares, of course, had even moved into a room closer to Bruce in order to be there quicker when the boy needed him, but he hadn't realized quite how deep the fear went. And now the boy was trying to face up to what scared him.

Truly his father's son, thought Alfred. And growing up much faster than he had given him credit for.

He reached out to Bruce, feeling a small warm hand slide itself into his.

"How about we visit these bats together?" he asked, offering a smile as a peace offering. No matter what the boy had managed to do, he was never able to stay angry with him for long, especially not when he did something like this, reminding him far too much of Thomas Wayne - a man he had been proud to call his friend.

Bruce looked up and smiled back.

"I'd like that, Alfred."

 
 
Current Mood: crazycrazy
 
 
 
jij on December 19th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC)
Oooh! I like the motivation for Bruce's running away--not just depression or pique but an actual Batmanesque desire to face and understand his fears. Nice touch, that.

The boys were staring in awe at the huge dinosaur skeleton that took up most of the entrance hall to even notice he had spoken.

I can totally see the two little guys with their heads tilted up in amazement. :)

had even moved into a room closer to Bruce in order to be there quicker when the boy needed him

Oh, this detail killed me somehow. Alfred! He's such a sweetheart.

"How about we visit these bats together?"

Yay! Go Alfred! Oh, how he rocks, I love the way you portray him here.

Great story!

scotchsour on December 19th, 2006 03:55 am (UTC)
Wahhh. This was so lovely, I would've been hugging him. How could anybody punish Bruce for trying to deal with his grief.
carolandtom on December 19th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC)
That was very good!

I wish I could have seen a little more interaction Clark-Bruce, but it's nice to imagine them together when they were so young. And I always love to see a young Clark with his parents! Bruce was very much in character too.

Great job!
samibee on December 21st, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Aw, this was sweet, I love the image of little Bruce and Clark as friends. Great job and like Jen said, a really unique take on why Bruce runs away. And I love Alfred's last line *hugs him* :D Lovely!!
vespa331 on December 23rd, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
This was sweet, I really like the early hints of Batman, how Bruce is scared like a normal little boy but very brave about it, and of course incredibly smart.
tmelange on December 26th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
I loved everything about this story, but especially the Smallville flavor, and the Kents and Alfred. Plus, I loved the internal rationalization of the young master Bruce. Just so insightful. Bravo on this.
starsandsea on December 30th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
I loved this. Little Clark and Bruce were so cute!

I really liked the inclusion that Jonathan Kent sounded like Bruce's father.

The boys were staring in awe at the huge dinosaur skeleton that took up most of the entrance hall to even notice he had spoken.
This scene was so vivid in my mind, just these two little boys staring at this huge dinosaur.

I loved how Bruce was so... Bat like even at this age. *Hugs Bruce*

Alfred, as always, is awesome. I loved how he moved closer to Bruce's room to help with the nightmares.

Lovely Story.

damos on January 4th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this story a great deal.

The young boys nature comes through well as does the Kent's sense of propriety.

I particularly liked the idea at the end that Alfred was a friend of Thomas' and that Bruce reminds him, even at this age, of Thomas.
summonercat on April 7th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
Lovely story. :) The boys clicked immediately. Alfred = teh awesomeness.