Comforts
Summary: Set after Nightwing 93. Clark tries to help the best way he knows how.
Rating: PG
Comments: Dick needs a little loving right now, even if it’s just the PG variety. Thanks go to Charles for the beta.

*****

Hindsight being twenty-twenty, Clark thought he really should have killed Roland Desmond when he had the chance. He had been so sure, with the heart condition, that the monster would have been dead in a matter of months. So sure. If he had known...

After hearing what had happened in Bludhaven, Clark's immediate thought was to get there as fast as possible. Dick needed to be comforted. Blockbuster needed to be crushed. It was that simple. He stuck a post-it on the refrigerator for Lois, and then he was out the window.

Minutes later he hovered over the dreary city. Usually the view from a mile in the air made any city look inviting. You could see lights, but no statistics. But, not Bludhaven. Even from the sky it looked like hell.

It was hell. Nightwing's hell.

It took half an hour to get home. He meandered a bit. There was a cat stuck in a tree, some cows in the road, a noisy frat party filled with college students who would probably never drink again. All in all it was a quiet night in the counties around Metropolis.

When he got back to the apartment, Lois still hadn't gotten home yet. Clark pulled the note off the fridge and threw it into the trash. He changed into some sweats, made some coffee, and sat down to wait.

******

A week and a half after the explosion Superman was flying low, heading home from helping extinguish to a five alarm blaze near the harbor, when he caught a glimpse of a black and blue clad figure doing handstands on a nearby rooftop. Clark smiled in spite of himself and the situation.

As he gently landed on the tar and gravel, Nightwing executed a seemingly complex move that ended with him standing upright, a large, cocksure grin on his face.

"Nice form." Clark said.

Nightwing shrugged. "Basic stuff, but I have to keep my skills sharp."

Clark shook his head, clearly amused. "I seriously doubt anything you do could ever be considered dull, Nightwing. So, you want to take a spin around town, see if we can find any ne’er-do-wells for you to beat the crap out of?"

Nightwing gasped and put a hand to his chest. "Superman said crap!" He snickered. "Nah, I figure you've had enough heroics for one night. I just wanted to let you know that I was going to be around for a bit, probably no more than three or four days. Professional courtesy, you know?"

"Professional courtesy?" Clark's eyes narrowed.

"Yeah."

"I see. And which hotel are you staying at?"

"Well, actually, I've got a room at the Y - eep!" Nightwing squeaked as he suddenly found himself floating several hundred feet above the city, with one of Superman's large hands on his waist, and the other on the back of his head, holding onto his scruff like he was an errant puppy. "Uh... Clark?"

"Dick, do you know what a guest room is?"

"A room for guests?"

"Very good. Do you know what you are?"

"Clark, I'm not going to impose on you and Lois."

"You're right, you're not. You are, however, going to stay with us while you're in Metropolis."

And with that final proclamation, Clark shifted the younger hero until he was in a better position for carrying, and headed for home once again.

*****

Clark was a tad worried about what Lois might say about their impromptu houseguest, but over the years his wife had developed an odd immunity to most of her husband's actions. If you married an alien, you had to learn to be flexible. Besides, the lovely Ms. Lane was so busy working on a piece about the latest incarnation of Intergang, when she was home it was usually just for a shower and a power nap, and then she was back out the door.

Clark was glad he didn't have to worry about Lois, so he could devote the full measure of his concern to Dick. Nightwing hadn’t been broken, but the kid had been pretty much beaten with a flaming bag of bricks. He was hurting. Bad. Unfortunately, being a member of the Bat clan, he steadfastly refused to show it. Instead, he joked, bantered, grinned, and laughed. He tried so very hard to act like he used to. Tried so desperately to be the person he used to be.

It made Clark's heart hurt.

So, what did one do with a battered, beleaguered, former boy wonder? Clark came up with several plans, all of which he summarily dismissed for being impractical, lame, or just plain bad. This wasn't a little boy who needed ice cream because of a boo-boo, this was a young man who had seen part of his world burn. Clark was at a loss.

*****

It took two days for Dick's facade to start to crack. He and Clark were sitting at the kitchen table, the morning paper divided between them, when Lois breezed into the room. She looked at the empty coffee pot, glared at the two guilty men and their nearly full mugs, then proceeded to the refrigerator for juice, all the while extrapolating on her latest discoveries about the seedy underbelly of their fair city. She never sat down, only paused during swallows, and with a flurry of black hair, expensive perfume and a Hermes scarf, she was once again out the door.

"Um. Wow." Dick stared wide-eyed at the still reverberating door. "She do that a lot?"

Clark sighed. "Just whenever she's on a hot story, so, yeah."

"Hmmp." Dick suddenly rubbed his hands together. "Okay, do you want to take care of this now, or do you want to wait until tonight?"

"Take care of what?"

"The new Intergang."

"Oh, that." Clark slowly got up and began to clear their breakfast dishes. "I'm not taking care of it."

Dick blinked. "You did hear what Lois was saying, right? I mean, I know she was talking pretty fast, but you are used to dealing with Wally, so-"

"I heard her. And, yes, it sounds pretty bad. But, it's not something I can get involved in." Clark smiled grimly. "No matter how much I may want to scour the streets, it's impractical of me to try to handle everything. Intergang is the police's problem, not mine."

"Not yet." Dick retorted.

"They're nothing without Luthor."

"How do you know there isn't a new Luthor coming up in the ranks?"

"Lex was one of a kind, thank God."

Color rose in Dick's cheeks. "So, you're just willing to write off this potential threat to your city because it’s what, beneath you?"

Clark frowned. "It's not beneath me, there are just other things I need to concentrate on."

"What, like your next novel?"

"Hey!" Clark stared at the suddenly hostile young man. "What's this-"

"What's going to happen when they get too big for the police?"

"*If* that happens, I'll step in."

"How noble. And, tell me, what about all the people who get killed between now and then?"

Realization dawned with the force of a thousand suns. "You can't save everyone, Dick." Clark said softly.

Chair legs scraped angrily against linoleum as Dick rose from his seat. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes bright. "You think I don't know that? I know that."

"I know you do."

"It's just- How can you-" A choked off laugh escaped from Dick's mouth. He rubbed a hand over his face. "Oh, God. I'm sorry, I..." He turned abruptly and retreated to his room.

Clark leaned against the counter, a dishtowel hanging limply in his hand. “Well, hell.”

*****

Dick had packed his bag and was sitting cross-legged on the bed staring out the room’s lone window. He honestly didn’t know which was worst, that he had yelled at Superman, or that he had yelled at Clark. And, he was fairly certain that, even after his outburst, Clark wouldn’t just let him leave without a fight. No, he was one of those people who believed in talking things through instead of storming off into the night, cape flapping behind him.

Just when making his escape out the window was looking like a really good idea, there was a knock on the door.

“Uh, come in.”

It was Clark, of course. “Hey, you okay?” He opened the door, and Dick could see he was balancing a plate of cookies and a glass of milk in his other hand. At Dick’s questioning gaze, he blushed. “Well, whenever I was really upset, Ma would, you know. . .” He trailed off, looking rather embarrassed.

“Alfred always made cocoa.”

“Oh! I think we’ve got some mix if you’d-“

“No, no.” Dick motioned for him to set down his sugary burden. “I just mean, food, comfort, I know how that goes.”

”Right.” Clark set the plate and glass on the nightstand, and joined the younger man on the bed. “To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t mind some of Alfred’s cocoa right now, myself.”

“It’s the best, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah.”

The two friends sat in silence for a moment, two sets of fingers idly picking at the bedspread.
“Look, I-“

“Clark-“

They both looked sheepishly at each other.

“I’m sorry.” Dick said. “I shouldn’t have blown up at you like that.”

“Please,” Clark scoffed. “I’ve lived with Lois. That was hardly a blow up, that was more of a slight rumble. Besides, I should have explained my reasoning better.”

Dick reached over and grabbed one of the cookies. “I’m listening now.”

“Yeah? Okay.” Clark smiled wryly and leaned back onto the mattress. “I’ve allowed myself to be stretched too thin before, always with disastrous results. I’m not a detective, or a criminalist. Hell, I can’t even watch C.S.I. without getting a little queasy.”

“Neither can Tim.”

“Somehow, I doubt that.”

“No, really.” Dick took a moment to lick chocolate off his fingers. “He does much better with the real thing.”

Clark shook his head. “And, once again a member of the Batclan has managed to disturb me.”

Dick laid back and propped his head up on one hand. “Bruce used to let me watch an extra hour of T.V. for every time I said something that made you shudder.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“’Cause you know Bruce.” Dick studied the man in front of him. “What you said, about disastrous results. . . Donna’s death wasn’t your fault.”

Clark blinked a few times. “I should have been more thorough. I should have made sure they were all destroyed.”

“You can’t blame yourself for something someone else. . . ah. . . something someone else did.”

Clark nodded. “Even if I did have the power to stop it.”

Dick sighed and rolled onto his back, his left arm not quite touching Clark’s right. “So, tell me, oh wise one, when is this going to stop hurting?”

“You know the answer to that one, Dick.”

“Oh, right. Never.”

“It’ll become more managable. You’ll learn to live with it.”

“There were kids in that building, Clark. They used to draw me pictures. I put them on my refrigerator.”

Clark felt his heart twist. His fingers itched to wrap around Blockbuster’s throat. Instead, he pulled the younger man towards him. Dick was trembling. Rage, anger, sorrow, weeks of pent up frustration and hopelessness were at the surface of his face, laid bare for the world to see. This was not something he could have done at home. This was not something Bruce should have seen.

Clark used one hand to pet that soft raven black hair, and the other to rub Dick’s back, and he held on tight.

*****

Clark wasn’t sure what time it was when he woke, he hadn’t bothered to put on a watch that morning, but the long shadows on the floor told him it was sometime in the late afternoon. He was warm, he was always warm. But, he was also content, and Clark thought that had more to do with the young man in his arms, than a lengthy nap. He gazed at the head nestled in the crook of his shoulder. This felt right. Very right. And, it was wrong. Very wrong.

He sighed and gently extracted himself from the bed. He was loathe to leave as he was almost certain that this was the first good sleep Dick had had in a while, but there were things he needed to do. Clark couldn’t help but smile to himself as he walked down the hallway. He’d rather save the world from alien invaders then brave the grocery store after five.

As he entered the kitchen his smile disappeared. “Lois! I didn’t realize you were home.”

“I gathered as much.” One perfectly groomed eyebrow arched. “So, should I be worried?”

“About?” Clark grabbed his jacket from a hook by the door.

“Don’t play coy, Smallville. You thinking about trading me in for a younger model?”

Clark rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on!”

“Well, what am I supposed to think?”

“I was just offering. . . comfort. Have you seen my keys?”

“I just bet you were. Try the catch-all drawer.”

“Ah, thanks. Are you really going to make a deal out of this?” Keys in hand, Clark once again faced his wife.

Lois lifted her head up defiantly. “I don’t know. Should I?”

“You know what happened. Dick is hurting now. He needs someone.”

“A good shrink?”

“Not funny, Lois.”

“It wasn’t meant to be, Clark.”

Clark scrubbed his hands through his hair and put on his glasses. “I can’t believe we’re having his argument.”

“I can’t believe I came home and found my husband in bed with another man.”

“Not another man, Dick! A person I’ve known since he was eleven years old! Do you really think I would take advantage of him like that? Look, I’m headed to the store, can you think of anything we need?”

“Orange juice, cheddar cheese, apples.” Lois replied absently.

“Fine.” Clark walked up to Lois and placed a light kiss on her forehead. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Right.” Lois watched her husband leave the apartment. “Dick being taken advantage of isn’t what I’m worried about.” She sighed and looked around her kitchen. “The least they could have done was fix some more coffee before they started the snugglefest.”

She set about busing herself with the coffee maker. Her mamma definitely never told her there’d be days like this. And, maybe she was overreacting. Maybe it was all innocent. Yeah, and maybe pigs would come flying out of her ass.

Clark had a good heart, a good soul, and regardless of the fact that he’d been around the universe a few times, he was still naive about certain things. Like the general effect he had on almost everyone who came within a two hundred foot radius. And, for someone who had been emotionally neglected for most of his life, Clark must shine like a beacon.

“Stupid Batpeople with their stupid problems.” She muttered. “Should just put Prozac in their drinking water and be done with it.”

“Prozac’s too puny for our problems, we’d need something heavy duty.”

Lois jumped about a foot in the air. She spun around to find Dick leaning against the doorway.

“Sorry.” He said, and she was hard-pressed to tell if he meant it.

She cleared her throat. “That’s okay. Um, Clark isn’t here right now.”

“I know.” His eyes shifted towards something on the floor. It was his bag. “Tell him... thanks. I’m gonna be okay.”

“You should tell him yourself.”

“I think I’ve stayed long enough, don’t you?”

“Dick-“

“I don’t know what you think has gone on here, but I can guess, and you’d be wrong.” Dick picked up his bag and hoisted it over his shoulder. “You know Clark better than that.” And then he was gone.

Lois pulled a chair out from the table and slowly sat down. It wasn’t often that she felt like a complete heel. “Well, if he would just make noise when he walked, like normal people...” She rested her head in her hands. “Damn.”



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