“This is your room for now,” Batman said, “If you need anything, simply press that button and one of the Justice League members should come running to help you,” he paused as if what he said made him slightly sick, “Any questions?”
The man radiated an aura of sheer confusion and worry. Batman knew that he had questions, many of which Batman knew the answers to. The other, he had no idea and that lack of understanding between them was apparent to see.
‘Kal-el’ was kind though, “Yes, I understand.”
Kal-el didn’t understand. Batman knew those questions, could even see them hovering above the man’s head like harpies. Yet, the man chose not to. Kal-el wasn’t intimidated of Batman which in itself was unusual. Batman knew why. They both exuded an aura of authority. People will also listen to Kal-el out of fear. Batman hadn’t asked him what his human name was. Bringing up those memories when the deaths were so recent was something Batman was not prepared to take the burden of. He killed the Joker, he killed his wards…he didn’t want to bury this man along the way no matter how dangerous he appeared to be.
Jimmy, you fool, Batman thought, you simplistic bitter fool.
Batman hates everybody, they say, and that’s why he protects us because no one hates the Batman as much as himself. How many people believe that particular saying…
“What is your name?” Kal-el asked.
“Batman,” he said, preparing to leave.
“No, not that name,” and Kal-el points to his mask, “The name hidden under that face.”
So brutally honest…maybe he would be a better addition to the team than I thought, Batman thought, taking in the variables of his sentence. Analyze and analyze further. During the Kryptonian crisis, he shouldn’t have dismissed the claims of an organized plot so easily.
“Bruce Wayne,” Batman said finally.
Kal-el’s eyes widened, “That man?”
That man. It bothered him that Kal-el has been rather too isolated from the real world. Of course, Batman was being rather presumptuous by saying ‘real world’. He was no better when he started out, albeit a little more focused. He knew his goals. Kal-el was dropped here because he (no, he should say they) weren’t safe with leaving a super powered Kryptonian out on an Amish hillside.
“That man,” Batman echoed.
“Why do you do this?” and Kal-el again gestured vaguely at the cape. He’s afraid of it, Batman thought with a hollow laugh, the strongest man among us and he’s afraid of my cape!
“The same reason as you,” and Batman wondered why he never felt guilty about leading Jimmy to the farm. He, again, was responsible for the loss of Kal-el’s family. He was responsible for Jimmy’s bitterness, his wards’ death at the hands of the Joker and finally, the murder of the Joker at his own hands. The cycle continues, plunging onwards into a repetition he could not escape from.
Kal-el looks at him deeply as if searching for signs of some humanity, where is your humanity, where did you lose it Bruce? – and said, “Not the same reasons, but similar.”
Batman inwardly flinched, “I hope not.”
“So you say,” Kal-el hummed slightly, taking in his new room, “Will I save people like you?”
“When you’re better than me,” Batman said, “You will do more than that.”
They will look up to you, because you will shine so brightly that none will look away. You will be their saviour, their hope in this fearful age.
You are their Superman.
“You will be much more than that.”
And Kal-el smiled.
The idea of a new, totally unfamiliar Superman joining the JL actually sounds pretty damn fascinating. Expect more later...much later...