Being Bart

Feb. 10th, 2013 06:44 pm
bungakertas: (batfic)
[personal profile] bungakertas
Title: Being Bart
Rating: PG
Summary: Bart Allen muses on what he is and what he isn’t. And does some schoolwork, but that doesn’t come into the story much.
Characters/Pairings: Bart Allen, Tim Drake, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson
Warnings: so much fluff it could drown you
Disclaimer: “Impulse,” “Batman”, and all related characters and situations are the property of DC Comics, Warner Brothers, or both. No money changed hands and no copyright infringement is intended or implied.
Author’s Notes: This is in the same continuity as “World’s Finest?” and “Crimefighting’s For The Birds.” Also, I am apparently allergic to writing Batman stories that actually feature Batman as a main character. What the heck, brain?

The AU is not very AU-y, BTW. I’m just meshing comics with the DCAU. DCAU takes precedence, though if I get this series written very far it will be a DCAU that goes towards Batman Beyond with a less lonely and unhappy Bruce than canon!Bruce.


*~*~*


Bart is a lot of things. Like impulsive. Duh. And weird. Also he drives Max crazy. But that’s fine. He’s not entirely out-of-touch anymore and he totally rescues people from criminals and falling buildings and stuff. Bart Allen, general all-purpose weirdo, is a bona fide, 100%, not-actually-a-joke superhero.

And that’s awesome.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean he has everything figured out. Like Gotham City. He completely does not get Gotham City.

Because he’s a superhero. So that means he deals with some Very Bad People all the time. And some of them are totally scary. Like The Shade. That guy’s freaking creepy. You’re tracking him down some dark space and suddenly all the shadows are coming out to attack you? Yeah, people have nightmares like that. Weather Wizard could be scary if he bothered to use his powers properly. Not that Bart was cluing him in on the whole he-could-make-a-hurricane-composed-entirely-of-tornadoes thing if he was too dumb to work it out on his own.

But anyway, he knew from scary people, and even those guys were scared of Gotham. Which was dumb. ‘Cause, like, the Joker couldn’t move at superspeed and the Sewer King was in jail and Two Face had that wacky numbers obsession that was easy to exploit. Poison Ivy was a meta, but who’s afraid of plants, anyway?

Plus, Bart was friends with Tim and Tim worked in Gotham and was fine. So it made no sense to be afraid of Gotham. Still, if the scary people were scared, Bart had just enough of a survival instinct to not entirely want to find out why.

So he was in Gotham, chasing Inertia down, and that was kind of annoying. Because while Bart wasn’t scared of Gotham in general, he had managed to absorb one rule that every one of the costumed good-guys agreed on. Gotham belongs to the Bats.

Yup, the Bats. With capitals and everything.

And Bart was a lot of things. Like smart (he was, he just moved faster than he thought sometimes, but he was getting better okay?), and fearless, and impulsive, and a superhero. But he was also not other things. Like he was not part of the Bat-Clan.

Batman was like the superhero. Him and Superman and Wonder Woman. They were it. They were the guys. (People? Guys-and-gal? Gal-and-guys? Things? Whatever.) When you saw Batman on the JLA watchtower (admittedly not a place Bart went very often, but still), you gave him a clear path. He was scary even when he was being nice and he was dark even in the sunshine. He probably wouldn’t be afraid of his own shadow for a week after fighting The Shade.

Tim was nice. Bart and Tim were friends. But Tim was also Robin and that meant Certain Things. Like how Tim could be completely terrifying even when he was being nice and dark even in the sunshine, too. He wasn’t like Batman in that he sometimes turned his Bat-ness off, but he could always turn it back on whenever he wanted.

Nightwing was another Batly person, and Bart didn’t know that much about him. Except that he was apparently super bendy or something. (Only not super-bendy because he didn’t have superpowers.)

Anyway, so here he was, in Gotham, which belonged to the Bats, and he was not in the Bat-Clan. That was bad. But Inertia was here and so he couldn’t just leave. Right, so he needed a plan. Something would get Inertia to leave and then Bart could chase him and they could fight somewhere else. Anywhere else.

They were still zooming around downtown as Bart thought about it. Inertia didn’t seem to be going anyplace specific. Just occasionally snagging things from street vendors or shop windows. They were going fast enough that he could just phase his hand straight through the window to snag a diamond necklace or whatever and leave the window totally intact. Maybe he was just here because he knew it would annoy Bart. Hey, waitaminnit…

“Hey, Lead-foot!” Bart shouted. “Are you really so scared of me that you’ve got to hide behind Gotham City?”

Okay, so maybe not the smoothest taunt in the universe, but that didn’t matter as long as it got Inertia’s attention.

Inertia turned around to run backwards. (Success! Target engaged.) “What?”

“Come on! Everybody knows this is a Bat-only city! You’re too scared to deal with me yourself, so you’re trying to make them mad at me so I’ll have to deal with them instead of you!” Bart replied, trying not to let it show on his face how amazed he was that Inertia didn’t run backwards straight into a street light or a fire hydrant or a road sign or a parked car or any of the thousand other things he should have gone smashing into and didn’t. Then again, they’d run down this street before, so maybe he’d memorized it the first time.

Inertia’s face did a weird thing behind his goggles. “That makes absolutely no sense at all!”

Which, Bart had to admit, it didn’t. But he was going for making Inertia mad here, not making sense. “No, it doesn’t, but it’s one of your plans, so that’s about normal!”

Now that was a smooth taunt. Make something totally nonsensical up, blame it on Inertia, and call him an idiot for the thing that you did all at once. Nice.

“It’s not my plan!” Inertia yelled back.

He was still running backwards, which meant Bart had gained ground on him. And he was still angry, so he didn’t notice. So when Bart saw the river coming up, he just poured on a little extra speed. Inertia’s eyes went wide, and he turned around. Then he saw the river too and tried to turn left. But he tried too late, lost control and went tumbling sideways into the water with Bart charging in straight behind him.

One watery fight later and Bart managed to knock Inertia unconscious. He zip-tied his hands and feet and took him to the closest police station where he explained to the officer at the desk (who was apparently trying not to laugh) that this was the speedster who’d stolen all that stuff downtown and most of the stuff was probably in his pockets but the food was probably ruined since they’d been in the river and Impulse was sorry about that but at least nobody was hurt and so that was good right?

He turned and ran for the front doors and was about to race out of them when two dark shapes dropped down from above the lintel outside.

One of the shapes didn’t have a cape. The Nightwing Guy!

Bart came to a halt on the inside of the doors. The two dark shapes loomed at him on the outside.

Bart thought things over, decided he hadn’t done anything wrong, squared his shoulders, and opened the door.

“Impulse.” It was not a growl. Batman had no call to growl anyway. It was relatively pleasant, all Batmans considered.

“Hi, Batman! Hi, Nightwing!” Impulse replied brightly. Maybe too brightly? Whatever. He hadn’t done anything wrong and so he was not going to act like he felt like he had. Not at all. Not a bit.

“New protégé?” asked the officer at the desk.

“Nope,” Bart replied before Batman could say anything. “I’m not Bat-clan. I don’t really have a team. Inertia’s just usually my collar is all.”

Batman’s mouth did a weird twitch. Nightwing almost looked surprised. That was weird.

The officer simply shrugged and said, “Okay, well, thanks for the help.”

Bart nodded and ran for the city limits. Just because Batman hadn’t gotten angry yet didn’t mean there wasn’t still time for him to get that way. And Bart was not in the Bat-Clan. He had no idea what to do with an angry Batman.

*~*~*


Four days went by with no ill-effects. Bart was just beginning to assume Batman had not done some secret, terrifying, Bat-thing to him and was getting back onto working his way through the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth grade. He was supposed to start at Walker High School in August and it was already March and he was still only just finishing out school work for the first eight grades! Anyway, apparently photographic memory was handy for getting through elementary and middle school quickly after growing up in VR. Yes, his life was bizarre.

Anyway, so, just getting comfy and believing he’d escaped the Bats.

And then his phone beeped. It was a text message.

Message received, 1:12 PM
Gotham City. Batcave. Five minutes.


Bart stared at his phone in surprise. He checked the sender information and found the number blocked. But his phone was still letting him reply (not sure how that worked, but whatever), so he texted back.

Message sent, 1:13 PM
I don’t know where that is.


It was another minute before his phone beeped again. This time the message contained a set of GPS coordinates, so Bart shrugged and started running.

He made it to the specified location in two-and-a-half minutes, and it took him forty-three seconds to figure out how to get in. Eventually he just vibrated through the wall and then had to run down it and across a subterranean (cold!) river when he started to fall as soon as he reached the other side. But then he zoomed up the cliff on the other side and saw Batman seated before a big computer. He’d never seen a computer that big before. It was absolutely massive.

And there was a giant penny and a dinosaur and about a zillion Batmobiles.

This place was the coolest place he had ever been. Except for maybe the Flash Museum. Maybe. But it was close.

Batman turned to look at him. Bart didn’t see anyone else there. So, deciding to meet things head on, he said, “Can I help you?”

“You never wrote a report on your capture of Inertia,” Batman said.

Bart blinked. “I didn’t know you needed one.”

“My city,” Batman replied as if that explained everything. Which, Bart supposed, it probably did.

“You have until the end of the day,” Batman said, indicating a workstation nearby.

Bart tried not to look insulted. The end of the day was ages away.

He sat down at the computer, feeling that the keys beneath his fingers had been reinforced and were stiffer than most keyboard keys. He tried typing at speed for two seconds and felt everything respond the way it should. He glanced at Batman. Batman had turned back to his enormous computer though, and didn’t spare Bart one glance.

Whatever.

So Bart typed up a report. Then he zoomed around the cave—taking care to stay within sight of Batman at all times—examining the cars, the giant penny, the dinosaur, and other stuff. He didn’t touch any of it, though he was really tempted by the exploding batarangs. But no. Tim would get mad at him. He raced back to the computer, edited his report (because Max had drilled it into his head that you should never edit right after you finish a first draft), saved it, printed it out, and tossed it onto Batman’s desk. Then he left.

That was weird.

*~*~*


Bart was not part of the Bat-Clan. Except that now, sometimes, it kind of felt like he was. He was in Birmingham chasing down a mugger when he heard a thud and rounded the corner to see Nightwing tying the guy up.

“What are you doing here?” Bart asked.

“Just lending a hand,” Nightwing replied with a grin. Then he ran off and vanished. Bart couldn’t follow him. Probably because the Bat-Clan was actually ninjas.

A week or so later, a communicator arrived in the mail. When Bart wore it, he could hear the Bat-Clan talking to one another at night. There were four of them, which surprised Bart. But he remembered that there had been a Batgirl who had disappeared a little while back. He supposed the fourth voice, that they all called O, was hers. She wasn’t in the field, though. Sometimes there was a fifth voice. He was British. They never referred to him by name and he never stayed on very long.

They sounded a lot like police. Sometimes Bart went to sleep listening. Sometimes he stayed up. Sometimes he didn’t listen at all. But the communicator was always there if he wanted it, and that was nice.

Robin got into trouble one night. He’d gotten surrounded and badly outnumbered. After a few seconds of increasingly desperate back and forth, they realized that nobody else could get to him in time to do any good. Batman’s instructions for Robin to hold out for as long as he could sounded anguished.

“Wait, guys,” said O’s voice, sounding triumphant. “Comm 6 is active tonight.”

“Impulse, are you listening?” Batman snapped at him. At him! “Can you get to Robin?”

“On my way,” Bart answered, already dashing out of Max’s house and switching into his costume at the same time. “ETA, two minutes maximum. What’s your exact location?” Only then he had to repeat it, ‘cause he’d forgotten to touch the tiny button on the comm so that it would broadcast what he said.

Robin bit out the address. Bart ran faster than he had in a long time. He made it in time to take out a set of guys about to swamp Robin and knock them all over like bowling pins. It took less than five seconds to zip tie the crew. As soon as he’d done that, he raced over to Robin and came to a halt in front of him, practically vibrating. “Are you okay? Was that fast enough? Did I do it right?”

“You did fine,” Robin told him with an easy grin. He raised a hand to his ear and said, “This is R. IM got here in plenty of time. We’re both all right.”

Bart furrowed his brow. Who was IM?

“Good work, Impulse,” said Batman, and he sounded like he really meant that. And...oh! “IM” was Bart. That was weird.

“R, take fifteen, assess for injuries and join up with me on the SunTrust building,” Batman continued.

Robin made a face. “He just wants to let his heart stop racing."

“Do you need me for anything else?” Impulse asked, unsure what to do now. Batman had already said “good work” and Bart didn’t want to do anything that would change that.

“We’ll let you know,” Robin said. He clasped Bart on the shoulder. “Good to see you tonight. And thanks.”

Still a little unsure what to do, Bart nodded, gave Robin a quick hug (because he liked hugging people), and ran back to Manchester. He emailed Batman an “After Action Report,” as Tim later called it.

Every so often, Tim would give him martial arts and stealth tips. Nightwing periodically showed up to help him collar bad guys. Batman and Oracle (since that was what O stood for) emailed him advice on his cases. (Which was weird because he totally did not have “cases.” Bad people showed up and he stopped them. That was it. Some of them were harder to stop than others. But that wasn’t “cases.” Or was it?)

He was called into Gotham again. This time Batman was about to be overwhelmed. Bart didn’t hug him.

Bart was a lot of things and was not other things. But he couldn’t tell if he was or wasn’t in the Bat-Clan anymore. And that was weird.

*~*~*


He finished eighth grade by the beginning of May. He had the whole summer off! Sort of, anyway, because, as he discovered, criminals don’t actually take the summers off. In fact, according to Tim, crime actually went up in the summer! That was so monumentally unfair.

It was also totally unfair that Batman had scheduled him training days and Max was making him actually go! He’d heard how Batman trained people. Bart was much smarter than to wish that on himself. Only now he didn’t have a choice, so he just ran to Gotham as slowly as possible.

It wasn’t so bad. For a lot of reasons. The first being that everybody was training that day, so Bart didn’t feel singled out. The second, which was much more surprising, was that Bart had a locker in the Batcave now. It was huge, and had nothing in it but a sweatshirt and running pants in Impulse colors. Bart had no idea where those came from and decided not to ask. He just put them on and started in on his first exercise: a timed scavenger hunt across the cave.

That was the third reason the training days weren’t so bad. The exercises weren’t all boring. Though the one where he had to solve a logic puzzle to get through a door was really hard. That plus the fact that Batman ended the day just as worn out and sweaty as the rest of them made Bart keep coming back.

*~*~*


He’d known Inertia would never stay in jail, and he supposed that late-winter-to-mid-summer was a fairly decent stint for him. And since he’d been in jail in Gotham awaiting a trail date, he of course escaped into Gotham and began doing exactly what he’d done before. Honestly, Bart didn’t know why he bothered. Because they both knew that he was going to catch him again. Which he did. On the roof of the Police Headquarter Building. Right next to the Batsignal.

And even in the middle of tying a struggling Inertia, Bart had to admire the simplicity of the name. Gotham was a big city, and they could’ve named it something big and important sounding like The John F. Law Memorial Law Enforcement Plaza or something. But no, Gotham went with the nice, easy to remember Police Headquarter Building.

Anyway, so when an officer came barreling onto the roof and saw them, Bart was more than prepared to hand Inertia over to her. And explain his presence on the roof. And this officer looked like she was on the verge of the giggles, too! And yes, maybe in the grand scheme Inertia hadn’t done anything that bad this time. But he had been stealing and stealing was against the law so here he was actually saying all this out loud to this officer who was now trying very hard to look serious and failing miserably.

Whatever. Good luck with Inertia.

He turned to find three people regarding him. One was Batman, the second was Robin, and the third was an older man with white hair, suspenders, a nice suit, and a long brown trench coat slung over one arm.

“New teammate?” the man asked. He had the too-thin look of someone who’d survived a bad illness, but his voice was strong, though a little rough.

The deja vu was just about killing him. Last time he’d had his answer ready at once. But this time, Bart didn’t know what to say. He didn’t think he was part of the Bat-Clan. He only knew Tim’s first name, and they didn’t ask him for help much. He didn’t ask them for help at all. But they kept giving it and Bart didn’t think he could say no.

His pause for thought gave Batman time to speak, though. “An auxiliary member. When necessary.”

Bart blinked, utterly at a loss for words. Batman didn’t seem to notice. Robin did, but he only winked and said, “Come on, twinkle-toes. These two will talk all night.”

Bart followed him to the edge of the roof saying, “My toes don’t twinkle and since when does Batman talk at all let alone all night and if he does I want to be there to see it because I bet that would be interesting and smart and stuff.”

Robin just let out a laugh and launched himself backwards off the roof. Impulse went running down the side of the building, following him half-heartedly.

Bart was a lot of things and he was not other things. He was an auxiliary member of the Bat-Clan.

That was weird.

*~*~*


Author’s Notes: I have no idea why I wrote this. It just seemed interesting, so I wrote it. It’s kind of cheesy. I don’t think I care.

Crime actually does go up during warmer weather. Violent crimes in particular. There are two major theories as to why and they are not mutually exclusive. Theory the first, that heat makes for shorter tempers. Theory the second, that warm weather leads to more social activity in general thus increasing the opportunity for criminal activity. Whatever the cause, be sure to lock your doors in the summers.

I’m not sure how much older Tim is than Bart, but I’m figuring about a year-and-a-half to two years. Not a whole lot, but enough that you’d notice it if Bart is late-13, early-14.

Date: 2013-02-11 05:46 am (UTC)
elf: Tim as Robin, with text, "Robin--I could write a book about Robin." (Robin)
From: [personal profile] elf
Oh, charming! I love the idea of Bart being a semi-clueless Bat-auxiliary member. And Nightwing popping by occasionally to help, and maybe check up on him. (Which I'm sure Tim does too, but Tim may not report to Bruce everything he wants to know.)

And dammit, now I want Dick/Bart fic, and I don't think I've ever seen that pairing.

Date: 2013-02-12 05:32 am (UTC)
klose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] klose
This was awesome! I love your Bart voice, and it was touching and funny to see him slowly enveloped as an auxiliary member of the Bat-clan. Very nicely done!

Date: 2013-02-14 03:16 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This was actually quite a fun read. I enjoyed how you got into this young Bart Allen's head, and how you chose to represent his relationship with the batfamily. Awesome work!

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. :)

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