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Billy Bat Son

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Justice League War AU: Cyborg is the only one that knows Shazam is Billy Batson, not even Batman knows, because of this he stubbornly refuses to tell the magic user which becomes a problem when he receives a letter that tells him about his son, one William Joseph Batson

Billy Bat Son

Chapter 1: The Letter

Ebenezer had been cleaning out the attic, finding things to throw away from his sentimental half brother and his wife that had been left to him at their death, when he found the letter. Normally, he wouldn’t have given it a second glance, but the name on it promised to be very important, and after reading it, he couldn’t help but grin.

This proved to be very promising, far more than that lowly inheritance he had gotten from the brat, but now, he proved useful.

All he had to do was get him back from whatever foster home he was staying in now and as dimwitted as that kid was, he probably would believe any lie that Ebenezer came up with.

Cackling a little to himself, he placed the letter in a larger envelope and mailed it to the one it was addressed to twelve years ago. Why his stupid sister in-law couldn’t do it, he’d never know, she’d have been rich .

 


 

“My,” Alfred said as he looked at the day’s letter. “We haven’t received a letter from Marilyn Ordway in a long time. I wonder what this is for,” he said blinking at the sight, but like a good butler, he brought it to the master of the house and didn’t even give it a second glance.

“Who’s Marilyn Ordway?” Damian asked after his task was finished and he returned to his chores.

“An old acquaintance of your fathers,” he said.

“The same way mother was an ‘acquaintance’?” Damian asked in a way that made the old butler wished he was more like a normal child, who knew less about adult activities (of all kind, really) then he did.

“He met her while he was traveling the world,” he informed the young master.

 


 

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Bruce closed his eyes as he hunched over the letter in his hands before opening it again and rereading the parts that mattered. Not the more recent letter from a greedy man that most likely only found this because it was addressed to him , anyone else and they’d have ignored it entirely no doubt, callously informing him to the death of the writer of the older letter, of the person who was the only reason he’d ever opened it in the first place.

Dear Bruce,

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve written to you again after that pregnancy scare we had. It turns out there was a mix up and my son, now two years old as I write this letter to you, is yours. I’ve already included the results in the letter, in case you don’t believe me (don’t think I’ve forgotten who asked me to get that paternity test in the first place, Mr. Wayne). They’re better labeled this time, with that pseudonym you used at the time in case you forgot, but I still think that pseudonym you used was completely ridiculous you paranoid mess of a man.

I’ve considered not telling you this for two years already, Bruce, but C.C convinced me that you deserve to know. Even though I honestly want Billy to have nothing to do with you, you deserve to know that you have a son, a family, and it’s wrong of me to keep that from you, I know that, but the man I met traveling the world...the rich playboy that returned to Gotham, he’s not a father figure.

C.C and I are going to raise this child as our own, and we’re already so happy Bruce. I know that you’re a family man deep down, I saw it in Nepal when you let down your guard. You want to spoil someone and shower them with affection to alleviate some of that strange guilt you carry around on you. A son would be the easiest choice, wouldn’t it? It’s practically obligatory.

But no, I don’t want that, Bruce. I don’t want you in my life, as cruel as it sounds. I don’t want Billy to doubt himself years in the future, wondering if his father truly loves him. I can’t put him through that, Bruce, and I hope you understand. By God, do I hope you understand.

Because, you frighten me, sometimes, with how intense you get. I know if you put your mind to it, you can get anything you want. You could even take Billy from us with the amount of lawyers you possess. It’s why I’m so reluctant to write this letter. I don’t think it’ll make it out the door at this rate, but, if somehow, years down the road maybe, I manage to work up the courage to bring this you or something happens to me and C.C, even though I feel it will never happen to us but if there is one thing you taught me, Bruce, it’s that no one is invulnerable, no one is ever truly safe.

I hope I’m still not as unbearably naïve as you thought I was, Bruce, because even though I feel safe with C.C, I am aware that accidents happen, that bad things happen to people. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, could happen in so many ways that it’s frightening, actually. I don’t know how you live like it Bruce, pessimist that you are, always thinking of the bad things that could happen.

His name is William Joseph Batson, he is currently two years old and the happiest child I have ever met. He was born on January 24, 1998

Even though I want you out of our life, Bruce, if something happens to us I can’t be selfish any longer. He’ll need someone to take care of him.

You may hate me for what I’ve done, the secret I’ve kept from you for however long I keep it. I wouldn’t blame you. But please, Bruce, don’t hate Billy. I don’t ever plan on telling him, so he’ll never know about you. None of this is his fault and the last thing I want is for him to be punished for something I did.

It’s him I fear for the most after all and I can only imagine how difficult it’ll be for him to find this out.

               Marilyn Ordway-Batson

The looping handwriting was just as he remembered it too, he could just see her speaking to him, looking at him with earnest eyes, could see where she had paused to gather strength or figure out the proper way to word it, the hesitation she must’ve felt before coming to her decision as she wrote the letter to never really send it to him because he would have. He would have read that letter and tried to barge into her life anyway he could have, fought her for him even, before the work consumed him. He didn’t blame her for thinking he wasn’t father material, he really wasn’t. Even after all this time, he still wasn’t.

“Father?” Damian asked knocking on the door. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” he said gruffly.

“Does this have to do with that letter from Ordway?” he asked, sharp as always.

“She’s dead, apparently,” he said leaning back in his seat, gathering himself. “Her brother-in-law sent her last letter when he found it,” he said looking at the test results, at the chemical analysis.

“Hoping to get into your good graces?” Damian asked with an amused smirk as he leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest.

“Yeah, the usual, really,” he said looking at Ebenezer’s letter with the scratchy writing, saying he had a hard time raising his nephew with how weak his body was, asking for help to raise him, money to be sent over. He wasn’t outright demanding money for his son, but he wasn’t very subtle either. “But Marilyn never cared about that, really,” he said and removed the picture that had been included. “She wanted to tell me about her son, gushing over him, really,” he lied as he showed his son an image of his grinning brother, who had Bruce’s blue eyes.

“I take it she died before she could send it?” Damian asked as he accepted it.

“No, she decided not to. Twelve years ago, I had her take a paternity test when she first contacted me. She told me it was negative and I backed out of her life entirely so she could marry her fiance,” he said, looking at his son carefully. “Turns out, it was actually positive,” he said and green eyes widened in shock and Damian was looking at the picture more carefully now that he knew it wasn’t just some random kid.

“Why would she lie to you?” Damian asked, confused.

“It wasn’t originally a lie, apparently, the results somehow got all swapped. She sent me a copy of the results so I’d know she wasn’t lying. I used a pseudonym at the time to prevent it from reaching the news,” he said sliding the paper over to him. Paranoid mess of a man, he mentally scoffed. She had no idea what it was like being as famous as him, as this was before becoming Batman. If his name was involved in a paternity test, everyone would’ve heard about it as it would’ve leaked from somewhere .

“So, I have an actual brother?” Damian asked him.

“You have plenty of brothers,” Bruce argued like he usually did. “But yes, you have one more older brother,” he said.

“What do you plan on doing?” Damian asked.

“I plan on having showing Alfred the letters while I do some research,” he said standing up, placing the papers away, including the result.

“You're keeping me out of this?” he demanded.

“I’m not keeping you out of this, Damian. Currently, there’s not a lot to do. When I figure out my next plan of action, I’ll tell you,” he said and Damian could tell Bruce was telling the truth, for one, as he could’ve easily kept it hidden from him with ease. He certainly wouldn’t have pried too much, but Bruce chose to tell him. Most likely because they would be gaining a new guest in their rooms soon, if Damian was judging things correctly.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Everything Changes

“Psst, Billy,” Cyborg whispered in his ears through his comm as Shazam was finishing up a job. “Warning for you, social services is at your house. Something about your uncle?” he said and Billy closed his his eyes, trying to pretend he couldn’t hear Cyborg as wind was on his face from his flight.

“Got it,” he answered, because he did appreciate how Victor warned him about this. He didn’t have to look out for Billy, keeping an eye out for his name in the system because he had a bad habit of going quiet, he only had to look out for Shazam really. Shazam was his co-worker, but Billy was his friend, and that was his choice. “Thanks,” he said, turning back a few blocks away from his foster home, slipping his comm device into his shoe so if any thugs or bullies lifted him upside down to steal his money, it wouldn’t fall out, and it was unlikely anyone would steal his shoes.

When he started to approach from the backyard by sheer habit, he could see Darla and Freddy making abort mission gestures at him from his room and slipped back into the front yard, wondering why they would ever watch his back like that. But again, if Social Workers had shown up, they probably wouldn’t like to find out that Billy likes to climb in and out from the window, so he opened the front door.

“Hey, I’m back,” he said putting on his best innocent smile. “What’s going on?” he asked when he saw the social workers and the Vasquez's were looking away, biting their lips. For one brief moment, he wondered if it was happening now, if they finally got fed up with him, realized he was more trouble then he was worth.

“Billy,” Sandra, the social worker, said gently. “We have some...interesting news. Your uncle contacted us, apparently his health has improved enough for him to take you in again,” she said.

“So...I’m being moved, again?” he asked, unable to help himself as he looked at her with hurt blue eyes. He liked the Vasquez’s, even if he didn’t admit it. Darla and Freddy were family, they knew about him being Shazam and only Victor knew about that. Just because he was a jerk to them didn’t change any of that.

“Oh, Billy,” she said cupping his face with her hand as she knelt down so they were eye to eye level. “I’m sure the Vasquez’s will be more than happy enough to let you come back if your uncle’s health takes a turn for the worse again,” she said trying to make him feel better.

As the social worker assigned to his case, Sandra knew how Billy worked, she knew how he thought. She knew that each time he was moved, it took a chunk from the armor he had built up, making him angrier and angrier.

“Of course,” Mrs. Vasquez said.

“Yeah,” Darla said looking at him with hopeful eyes. “You’re family, Billy, and besides, it’s not like we won’t see each other again,” she said.

“Yeah, okay,” he said. “I’ll go grab my things, Ms. Wilson,” he said.

“You go do that, Billy. We’ll wait down here,” she said and Darla and Freddy followed him upstairs.

“I didn’t even knew you had an uncle,” Darla said, helping him fold up his clothes knowing he would’ve just shoved it in there, Freddy had to sit down at his desk’s chair to do it, but he offered his help just the same.

“Yeah, the old man kicked me out not even a day after my parents died,” Billy said. “He’s lying, though,” he said gripping a red hoodie in a firm grip.

“About what?” Darla asked concerned.

“He’s always been able to take care of me. He’s never had a single health problem at all,” Billy told them and the two looked at each other in concern at the dark tone of his voice. “The second he was given access to my inheritance that was it, goodbye Billy,” he said with a scowl.

“Maybe he feels bad about that,” Darla suggested. “I mean, you are family after all. An actual blood related family,” she said.

“Oh please, Uncle E? Feel bad?” he scoffed, raising a brow as he lifted a loose board in the floor he had discovered his second night here. “He only feels greed,” he said quickly sliding his suitcase over to him to slip the items, souvenirs from the Justice League and such, underneath the clothes.

 

“Like father like son, apparently,” Dick said lowering his binoculars to address Bruce. “Hiding things all over the room he’s in, even money,” he said as he had seen him slip it out from the last drawer of both the desk and dresser. “Kid even found a loose board. Couldn’t see what it was from the angle, but he definitely hid something in the suitcase,” he told him.

“And how is he outside of an adult presence?” he asked.

“I don’t know. He kind of reminds me of Jason, to tell the truth,” he said and back in the batcave, Bruce closed his eyes. Jason still was his greatest failure, even if he had come back to life. Him killing had nothing to do with it, either, because he had failed him . “Bit of a jerk, actually, but he seems like a nice kid,” he said watching as when Freddy’s crutch got caught on the button of one of his clothes, Billy stopped what he was doing and helped him untangle it even if it was with a rude comment (but not an ableist comment he noted). “He’s just a bit rough around the edges,” he said with a small smile as he watched Bruce’s son (which wasn’t that weird after Damian showed up) toss his head back with a laugh at something Darla said to him, too quiet for Dick to pick up.

 

“Don’t worry, Darla,” he said handing her a green jewel he had gotten from Envy, causing her to curl her hand around it as she had understood his signal that they were being watched. He wasn’t sure where , but he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. It wasn’t obvious, so it might be someone that figured out who Shazam was.  Maybe one of the Gods? No, he’d never be able to tell if it was them, and they weren’t much for subtlety if they wanted to talk to him.

She knew not to look at it too deeply, or let others look at it, as she slipped it into her pocket without a glimpse of the green being seen.

“We have a way of keeping in contact,” he said tapping the front of his ipad even though that’s not what he meant. Pride liked to talk to all of them and would help them spread messages in secret that no one could overhear.

“Yeah, you’re right,” she said. “I just can’t but worry, Billy,” she said.

“You do have a bad tendency for sneaking off,” Freddy added.

“I do not,” he muttered sullenly.

“You so do. Last time it was a football game, what’s it going to be next? Baseball?” Darla snarked at him and Billy bit back a grin at that. She rarely snarked.

“Baseball’s boring to watch,” he said simply, starting to zip up the suitcase when it was full. There were more clothes of course, because the Vasquez's bought him more clothes, but those could easily be sent to him later if the thing with Uncle E became permanent. He highly doubted that though, and kept the larger league items in the room, knowing he couldn’t slip those away so easily. He had a hard enough time hiding them, actually.

Walking downstairs, he was brought into a nice car and as they were driving, he took a deep breath, curling his fists in, as he tried to calm himself. Everything was going to be fine.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: A Real Life Ebenezer Scrooge

“Mr. Batson?” Sandra said approaching the door and she hadn’t been able to knock before the door swung open, causing her to hastily step back and would’ve almost tripped if Billy hadn’t placed his hands very firmly on her back to prevent that.

“Oh, Billy!” the bony old man said with a large grin that unnerved the thirteen year old who was more focused on helping Sandra straighten up. “I’ve missed you so much!” he cried out, pulling the preteen in for a hug that felt more like a bear trap in the child’s mind. “Thank you so much for bringing my nephew back to me, Mister Smith, miss Wilson,” he said to the two and Billy thought that was rude, because Sandra did most of the work but got so little of the credit

The old man ushered the three in, giving them drinks and offering them snacks.

“Oh no, we can’t stay long,” Sanda said, idly looking around the room but Billy knew from experience she was assessing and inspecting. If she thought for one second that his uncle couldn’t, or wouldn’t, take care of him properly he would be taken right back to the Vasquez’s. Unfortunately for Billy, she was too trusting in his opinion. How else would he have been placed in abusive homes? Than again, they had very convincing masks in place as much as he hated to admit it.

All too soon though, they had to leave as Billy not wanting to be here was not a factor in him staying here and even though he expected the smile to lessen and for uncle Ebenezer to tell him his plans with Billy, but his attitude hadn’t changed as he showed Billy his room.

It was small, smaller than his room at the Vasquez’s, but certainly large enough to live in comfortably. That small part of Billy he had never been able to squash down was saying that maybe he really did change his mind, really did regret it, but that was the part of him that got hurt every time. It was the stupid part of him that had far too much faith in people and caused him way too much pain

Making himself comfortable in the room, he tested the window and found he could easily slip onto the roof and sat up there for hours, basking in the warmth from the sun before slipping back in when it started to get dark.

Uncle E might be making food and he wouldn’t react well to Billy sitting on the roof. Whatever he had planned for him, he needed Billy alive.

Waiting until his uncle went to sleep, he slipped out of the house and into a far enough location to call out the name, turning on his communicator.


 

“You seem distracted. Is something going on in Gotham?” Clark asked Bruce in the Watchtower, noticing how he wasn’t performing monitor duty the way he usually did. He was usually far more focused than this and if he’d been Hal, Barry, or Shazam, he’d think the other man was bored but no, this was Bruce . Bruce didn’t bore easily. The man did stakeout for over 24 hours without moving from his perch.

“No, it’s...personal,” he said deciding his words carefully.

“Does it have to do with Damian?” he asked concerned as that was usually what that phrasing meant.

“No,” he answered and the door slip open, giving them a tail end of a conversation.

“...I swear man, he’s planning something,” Shazam was saying.

“I don’t know man, he’s your uncle. Maybe he’s just trying to apologize,” Victor said.

“You don’t know my uncle,” he said shaking his head. “I’m pretty sure he would’ve sold me into child enslavement if he thought he could get away with it,” he said and Victor stared at him for a long moment.

“So this is where you get your trust issues from,” he finally said, making Shazam scowl.

“I don’t have trust issues,” he said.

“You do, you have some serious trust issues man,” he said.

“Mind if I ask what you two are talking about?” Clark asked and Shazam looked at Batman, reminding them of the strange competition between the two. Since he wouldn’t Batman who he really was, Bruce refused to tell him like he did with others. When members joined, he would tell them after he made it clear he knew everything about them, putting himself at an advantage and making it very clear that he could ruin them, that he knew their weaknesses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any weakness in Shazam yet, but so far he was counting on Superman and Wonder Woman to take him down if he ever went rogue (the lasso of truth might help them).

“My uncle decided to contact me again years after he kicked me onto the streets when I was a child. I think he’s planning something, Vic thinks he feels bad about it,” he finally answered, giving nothing away while describing the situation.

“Does he know about you being Shazam?” Bruce asked him.

“I don’t tell people,” he answered, reciting the reason he gave Batman when he asked to know who he was (or even just a clue, really). “I especially don’t tell people I don’t trust and I don’t trust my uncle,” he said.

“See? Trust issues,” Victor said.

“Just because I don’t trust a member of my family doesn’t mean I have trust issues. My uncle is the living embodiment of Scrooge and if the ghosts of Christmas Past ever did visit him it certainly didn’t do anything,” he said decidedly.

“Ghosts of Christmas past? I do not understand. Why are their ghosts visiting people on one of your holidays?” Diana asked confused.

“Well, I know what we’re watching in December,” Hal said.

“He’s referencing a movie. Well, a movie and a book, really,” Barry said.


 

“Something wrong, Billy?” he asked at breakfast, smiling that sickeningly sweet smile.

“Yeah, you don’t honestly think I’m being fooled by this act, do you?” he asked, making the smile falter.

“Ah, so you’ve actually gained some intelligence in your time away,” he said and Billy had to bite back the urge to bare his teeth at the older man. “See, the thing is, I found an old letter from your mother. Why, it was the most interesting thing,” he said blinking falsely innocent eyes and Billy was starting to feel sick. “It had to do with your father,” he said.

“What about him?” he asked.

“Turns out, that old bastard C.C wasn’t your real father,” he said with a grin that made cold seep into Billy’s bones.

“No, no you're wrong,” he said, not wanting to believe it.

“Do you want to see the letter? I have a copy of it. She wrote it herself, even included the results to a paternity test in it,” he offered and Billy took a shaky breath.

“I doubt you brought me here for some regular old man you could steal money from,” Billy said, eyes closed.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t have even noticed the letter if it was a regular guy,” he admitted. “The name was what caught my attention, I’m sure you know it too, a certain...Bruce Wayne?” he asked and Billy felt like he was part of some sick joke right now.

“So that’s it? You want to get his money?” he asked already standing up

“Seeing as you’re his son, that gives you—us really, seeing as I raised you—access to his money,” he said.

“Raised me?” Billy demanded. “I’ve stayed under your roof for an exact week total! I’ve stayed at Foster Homes longer than you!” he spat out angrily.

“Be that as it may, but as his son, it’s a very good chance you’ll get all of his money when he croaks and considering his lifestyle, that’s not long from now, and you can do whatever it is you do,” he said with a smile but Billy was glaring at him.

“First off, he barely even knows me. I wouldn’t put it past him to give one of his other children his money and for him to ignore me like some dirty little secret which, really, I probably am considering mom never told me this little tidbit,” he said, turning on his heel and stalking toward the door before he could punch his uncle.

“And where do you think you’re going?” he demanded. “I’ve already written Wayne, he’s already coming down here!” he yelled, starting to stand on his spindly little legs

“To be with people that actually care about me,” he responded, door slamming shut behind him. “ God , I can’t believe I ever let myself think that he actually changed,” he said to himself as he walked down the streets. This is what happens when you give some people second chances, Billy knew, to give the benefit of the doubt. Almost every time, you got burned.

One day, he was going to learn his lesson and stop having so much faith. But, a small secretive part of him couldn’t help but think, that’s probably also the day that he’ll lose his faith in humanity and become like Black Adam.

 

Dick winced as he watched the kid storm away, taking a picture with the high end binoculars and sent it to Bruce with the message ‘he just found out about you’, that was a face he knew well, it was the same face Bruce made when he was angry.

He really does take after him, he thought, watching as he stalked toward the Vasquez’s radiating such anger that people started to avoid him.

 

“So, I’m guessing it wasn’t good,” Darla said when she saw him and before the Vasquez’s could see him, they guided him into the backyard where he sat on the swing set.

“Turns out my dad wasn’t really my dad,” he said with a scowl. “I have a biological father I didn’t know about,” he said.

“That’s...good?” Darla said unsure.

“No, no it’s not good. Mom took a paternity test a long time ago. She cheated on my dad and he probably even knew it too!” he said jumping to his feet, beginning to pace. “He probably hated me, because I probably reminded him of that fact. I’ve seen it in plenty of other homes,” he said recalling a few foster homes. “So much for the memory of my parents love,” he said with a scowl.

“Billy, that’s not true and you know it,” Darla said putting her hand on his shoulder.

“No, no, even though I was a little kid at the time I have no doubt that eventually he would’ve shown that hatred, he wouldn’t have been able to force himself to smile when he looked at me, and their marriage would’ve been ruined. All because mom slept with Bruce Wayne,” he said.

“Bruce Wayne? The billionaire?” Freddy asked curious.

“Yeah. Mom slept with a rich guy and wound up pregnant. I don’t need to read her letter to the guy to know that much,” he said with a dark scowl but back at the batcave, where he was listening in, Bruce closed his eyes. Marilyn had been right in her letter, that Billy would doubt his father’s love in him if he had known. The memory he had of a loving family was being tainted by a greedy old man.

“Don’t be so crude, man,” Freddy said.

“Still, it would be interesting if I moved to Gotham,” he said.

“Don’t joke around like that,” Darla said and he shot her a grin.

“I could never be some billionaire’s kid anyway. He probably doesn’t even care really, maybe he’ll just toss some money around and hope I go away,” he said leaning the pole to the swing.

“Billy,” Darla said warningly.

“Relax, it’s a joke,” he said rolling his eyes. “I mean, the Vasquez’s are gonna get tired of me anyway, at least with Wayne, if he got tired of me, he could send to some far away fancy school,” he said and shit, this kid had some severe trust issues, didn’t he.

“Billy, don’t talk like that,” Darla said looking hurt.

“They’re idiots who like helping too many people. No reason for my room to get dusty while they want to bring in another kid,” he said and though gruff, they knew it was an offer of kindness from him. Help another kid who might need it more, he was really saying.

“You’re still our family,” Darla told him.

“Foster family,” he corrected, but not cruelly, as he was smiling as he said it, like it was some kind of inside joke, making her smile at him. “And I’ve had worse foster families,” he told her, more softly, letting out the kindness in his eyes that he usually hid away, a rare sight that always made her smile.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: The Night Before

“You know, for someone connected to every computer in the world, I’m surprised that you didn’t know,” Billy said, tossing a football up and down as he and Victor were at their usual meet up in a stadium no one went to (which Billy thought was ridiculous, really, because it had running water and the lights still worked. More than that, the generators could handle the power from his transformation, so what if the ground was uneven? They could’ve easily fixed that instead of abandoning it to build another in a ‘better’ location).

“I try not to delve too deeply in the information network, there are some things a guy doesn’t want to know about a person,” he said and Billy glanced at him a little. “I know too much about everyone,” he said. “And not even the good stuff either,” he muttered. “So when it comes down to medical records, I only look for more recent information, or I’d be overwhelmed entirely,” he said.

“Well, turns out my dad isn’t my dad,” he said making Victor pause.

“Okay, I can see where this is going,” he said cringing. “Do you know the guy’s name yet?” he asked.

“His name is Bruce Wayne. According to Uncle Ebenezer, he’ll be coming by tomorrow. It’ll probably reach the press after that,” he said and Vic was staring at him with his mouth open. “What?” he demanded.

“No, no, it’s nothing,” he said quickly because he was neutral in their little fight and would give away neither identity to the other. But Billy being Batman’s son? Yeah, bit of a surprise their and ironic, all things considered considering Billy’s last name.

“Okay,” he said, muttering ‘weirdo’ under his breath, knowing Cyborg could pick up on it.

“So, what are you going to do?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. “Does it really matter? I’m not the one making the decision,” he said looking away angrily. He could fight aliens and monsters but wasn’t allowed to decide where he lived, how sad was that?

“If Bruce Wayne get custody of you though, what will you do?” he asked, because he doubted Bruce would stand back and let Billy live in the toxic environment that was his uncle’s home. No, if anything, he was 96% certain that the preteen would wind up living with his biological father.

“Well, you’d keep me up to date if stuff happens in Fawcett, wouldn’t you?” he asked.

“Course I would,” he said. “But you have a bad habit of turning off your communicator,” he told him.

“Don’t call me on the comms, you dork,” he said rolling his eyes. “Use a phone or tablet, or something,” he told him. “I can fly back to Fawcett under a minute and if Batman asks, I’ll tell him I was forced to move to Gotham,” he said.

“You won’t tell him?” he asked.

“What? That I’m a kid, or that I’d be moving to Gotham?” he asked raising a brow.

“Both, really,” he said.

“When he tells me who I am, I’ll tell him,” Billy said and he gave a small huff because it was the most annoying thing in the world really, but so utterly Billy that he couldn’t help but smile really. “And if I told him I was moving to Gotham, if I actually was that is, than he’d go looking into everything about me and trying to find out who I am,” he said and it made sense really, if Batman knew he was that much closer, he would not stop until he knew.

“Okay, makes sense,” he agreed. “Any idea what’s going to happen?” he asked.

“Not really. Either Uncle E doesn’t know, or he doesn’t want to tell me,” he responded.

“You should get some sleep tonight then. You might need it to make your great escape,” he told him, leaning forward to whisper conspiratorially in his ear and just making the thirteen year old smile.

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “One more round anyway?” he asked.

“You know I can’t say no to you, kid,” he said and Billy jumped up and walked further away so Vic wouldn’t get caught in the blast as he transformed and Victor was positive that if not for the computer filtering his vision it would’ve blinded him for a few seconds, but his father saw Shazam’s power and immediately added that modification as soon as he could. It didn’t mess with his actual human eye, it was more like contacts really.

“Okay, I’m ready,” he said with a grin as he pulled the white hood down and the rumbling from the stadium were ignored as they always were, people from the city far too used to it to investigate. If they ever had, the two would be bombarded by the news in minutes.

Oh well, the teenage heroes were more than glad for others mistakes in this regard, as it was hard to find a place isolated enough to play a game of football but close to the city that Billy could just walk here. It was the only time either of them truly enjoyed themselves. Billy with someone he didn’t have to hold back with, verbally or otherwise, and Victor to be a kid as no one else in the league would do this with him.

 


 

As Billy approached the window, he grabbed onto the drain pipe, crawling up in with practiced ease, placing his foot on the windowsill to lessen his weight as he opened the window, careful to keep weight on it as it swung back to prevent it from making any noise as it closed.

Suddenly, without any warning, the lights flicked on as someone, his uncle, cleared their throat and Billy bit back a flinch.

“And just where have you been, young man?” he asked.

“Out,” he answered, walking past him to the bed.

“Out where?” he demanded, hands on his hips as he glared at his charge who barely paid him any attention as he sat on the mattress.

“I was out with some friends. We played football,” he said slipping off his shoes.

“And what if you got run over by a car? Huh? Or are you trying to make a fool of me in front of Wayne?” he demanded angrily, grabbing Billy’s arm and tugging him forward. “Get your head out of the clouds before it winds up split open on the streets!” he yelled and so caught off guard by being pulled by his Uncle (who possessed a fair amount of strength his bony body belied) and with his body at an awkward angle, the thirteen year old fell off the bed and hit his wrist at an odd angle.

“I wasn’t playing in the streets, you dumb old coot!” Billy yelled, turning pain into anger as he surged onto his feet. “We go to a lot where there’s no chance of being hurt,” he said, Not unlike here, he didn’t say as he glared at his uncle.

Ebenezer lifted his hand like he was going to strike Billy, causing the thirteen year old to flinch and duck his head but he heard the sigh.

“Just go to bed,” he said and as Billy looked up from under his bangs, he could see the old man was holding himself back. “We have a long day tomorrow,” he said, leaving the room and Billy rubbed at his wrist. It was probably sprained and tomorrow there would be bruises. He idly contemplated getting some ice for it, so it wouldn’t swell, but he heard Uncle E lock the door behind him, trapping the child in the room.

He could hardly climb out the window with a sore wrist, he wasn’t dumb, he would be at far too much risk to fall and break a bone if he did that and he didn't really feel the risk was worth it. Not right now at least.

Slipping under the blanket, he cradled his sprained wrist to his chest, trying to ignore the faint throbbing from the limb.

Billy had gone to bed with worst injuries though, had lived in worse homes, so he didn’t shed a single tear over the unfair situation (unfair was his life, really) and merely closed his eyes, turning the pain into background noise and falling asleep. If he could do it with a cracked rib and a screaming match in the next room, a little girl whimpering curled up in his arms, than he could do it here.

He wondered how Mary was doing, was one of the last thoughts he had before he fell asleep, lulled into oblivion.

 

From where Nightwing was sitting across the street, he grit his teeth as he stood up, clenching a fist. He would not let his little brother stay in such an abusive home, where he was basically a prisoner.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Bruce Wayne

When they heard a knock at the door, Billy looked up from his breakfast and Ebenezer looked up from his oatmeal with a grin that showed off crooked teeth, still seemingly not noticing how the child was cradling his hurt wrist to his chest as he rushed to the front door.

“Ah, Mr. Wayne, come in, come in. I’m sorry about the mess,” he said, voice a little muffled as he started to lead him into the living room. “It’s difficult to get around in my age,” he said and Billy rolled his eyes. If only they had seen the way he sprinted to the door than they’d know how full of it he was.

“Is William here?” a shockingly young voice asked and with furrowed brows, Billy finally abandoned the rest of his meal (he was already done anyway) and entering the room, he saw three men, one of whom looked older than his uncle and wearing an impeccable suit, face showing no real expression.

“I prefer Billy, actually,” he said plastering a smile on his face. The same smile he wore at appointments, when he was meeting new potential foster parents.

“Hi, Billy. I’m Bruce Wayne, this is my ward Dick,” he said gesturing to the young adult, not a teenager and not that far into adulthood, with black hair and blue eyes. And honestly, if he hadn’t said ward, he’d have thought Dick was his biological son. “And Alfred, my butler,” he said gesturing the old man who nodded to him

“You have a butler? That is so cool!” he said unable to help himself before he ducked his head down with a blush, embarrassed by his action. But if anything, Dick was glad to see that mask disappear for a moment. It was far too eerie seeing a kid wear the same polite mask that Bruce wore at parties. He was far too similar to his father, really.

“Now, I assume your uncle has shown you your mother’s letter?” he asked gently.

“Sorry, no, I haven’t,” he said shaking his head. “I’ve only been here for two days since he took me from my foster family to meet you, sir,” he said. “We just haven’t had the time,” he told him.

“And that’s perfectly fine,” Bruce said, kneeling down and placing his hands on Billy’s scrawny shoulder. “But see, even though I believe you’re my son, I still need to perform a paternity test,” he said gently, like Billy was some scared little kid.

“I’m guessing it’s like, a protocol, or something for you?” Billy asked, trying to keep up the innocent act.

“Well, yes, that and there had already been a mix up beforehand and it could’ve happened a second time,” he said making Billy blink at him.

“A mix up?” he asked, curiously.

“Yes, your mother and I met when she and C.C, your father, had a terrible fight were taking a break from each other as she was in Nepu, and when she discovered her pregnancy, she informed me,” he said and Billy felt something in him relax at knowing his mom didn’t completely cheat on his dad and part of him wondered why Mr. Wayne was telling him this when he certainly didn’t have to. “To be sure, I had her take a paternity test back then and it came back negative. She found out two years later the results had gotten swapped and it was positive. That was when she wrote the letter, but she decided not to send it so she could raise you with C.C,” he said.

“Okay,” Billy said nodding his head. “I can see why you want another test then,” he said.

“I’m glad you think so. We’re going to a trusted doctor of mine and she’s very kind,” he said with a gentle smile, squeezing his shoulder once before standing up. “And if you don’t mind my asking, did something happen to your wrist?” he asked making Billy blink a little in surprise that he even noticed, so he looked at his wrist, where he could see some bruising showing under the sleeve of his sweater.

“Oh, this? I like to climb onto the roof to think and uncle E caught me slipping back inside and freaked out. When he pulled me in, I wound up falling on my wrist,” he explained simply and if Dick hadn’t seen what happened first hand, he’d have believed it because as close to the truth as that was, that was not what happened. “I don’t think he noticed in his worry because it didn’t look hurt, but I guess I must’ve sprained it or something,” he said.

“Then, we’ll have Dr. Thomson treat that as well,” Bruce said with a worried smile, worried because he knew his son would lie to his face and spin a tale of a concerned uncle who accidentally hurt him. A tale he didn’t pause one second to spin, showing far too much practice at this that it was almost sad, really, how easy he could lie about his injuries.

“Okay,” Billy said nodding his head and they all got into a shiny black limo, heading to a hotel instead of a hospital like Billy had thought they would.

“I wanted some discretion for the test,” Bruce explained to him when Billy looked at him curiously at this.

“Makes perfect sense,” Ebenezer said nodding his head in a way that said it was obvious and why didn’t Billy know this already?

Ebenezer didn’t see the way Bruce glared at him for this as they were getting out of the car, but Billy did and it made him feel better that he wasn’t the only one that noticed that tone and did not appreciate it.


 

The first thing Billy noticed about the hotel room was how nice it was, far nicer than anywhere he had been. The second was the kind looking woman standing in the middle of the room, smiling at them.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Thomson,” she said holding out her hand.

“I’m Billy Batson,” he said returning the gesture. “It’s nice to meet you Dr. Thompson,” he said making her smile at him at how polite this kid was.

“Did Mr. Wayne tell you why we needed to do this?” she asked him.

“Because there was already a mix up with previous results and he wants to be thorough,” he recited making her blink. That was more than she knew, that was for sure. “But I don’t know how it’s done,” he said hesitantly and of course Bruce would forget to mention it, as part of his life growing up as it was.

“It’s really easy,” she told him reassuringly. “It’s just a painless cheek swab,” she told him and he felt tense muscles start to relax.

“Before that, Dr. Thomson, could you look at his wrist?” Bruce asked her, making her blink. “He hurt it in an accident yesterday,” he informed her.

“Oh, of course,” she said. “May I look at it?” she asked.

“Okay,” he said hesitantly, pulling the sleeve of his arm up to reveal a slightly swollen and bruised wrist.

“Fortunately for you, Bruce is very accident prone so I carry some bandages with me,” she said, going off to retrieve them. “Can you pull your sleeve up further?” she asked and he looked hesitant for a moment before doing so and she sucked in a breath at the sight of a scar branching out. “How did this happen?” she asked him.

“I got hit by lightning a year ago,” he admitted. While transforming didn’t cause him more scars to appear (that is, as long as he gave his body proper time to rest between transformations and didn’t transform back right away) the first one left scars on his body. The mark of the wizard. “It’s fine. It didn’t even hurt that bad, really,” he said, afraid of her reaction as he looked away. He knew from experience that some adults didn’t react well to scars on a child.

“You were probably in shock if it didn’t hurt,” she muttered, wrapping his wrist up and knowing that he was just like his father, not seeing the danger. “I hope you still went to the hospital,” she said.

“I did,” he agreed. Freddy had insisted when he saw the scars the first time when he transformed back, slipping a lie in that Billy had lost consciousness and he had just found him to excuse why they didn’t look fresh.

She felt herself relax hearing that, at knowing Bruce’s son wasn’t as reckless as his father, that he knew when to admit he needed medical attention.

“Okay, now, I’m going to put a cotton swab in your mouth, get as much saliva as I can. Is that okay with you?” she asked.

“Uhuh,” he said nodding his head, opening his mouth and letting her move the swab around, moving his mouth around afterward because now it felt all cotton-y

“Here,” Dick said, handing him a cup of water, noticing his mild discomfort.

“Oh, thank you,” he said blinking a little at the kindness, but figured that maybe he was only being nice because of Mr. Wayne, who was watching both of them right now, observing how they interacted. Adults didn’t like it when they brought in a kid who couldn’t get along with the other kids, he remembered, accepting the water and sipping at it.

Dick just gave him a grin in return as it was Mr. Wayne's turn.

While waiting for the results, he sat in the chair that his feet didn’t touch the ground from, idly swinging his legs back and forth. He looked up as Dr. Thomson reentered the room, pieces of papers in her hand.

“Well, I suppose congratulations are in order. You are indeed Bruce’s biological son,” she said but none of them were really surprised. “With that, I guess are things you need to discuss,” she said and squeezed Billy’s shoulder in silent reassurance before she left the room, Bruce and his uncle walking off ‘to talk business’.

“So, what do you think would be the best thing for you?” Dick asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. He’d like to go back to the Vasquez’s but he knew uncle Ebenezer wouldn’t let him go that easy, would cling to him until he wrung all the money from Billy and subsequently, all the good in him. His rough edges started to form after the man abandoned him after all. “I like Fawcett, really, I do,” he said.

“But you don’t like your uncle, do you?” he asked in a knowing tone.

“You’ve heard how he talks to me,” he responded, making him remember how he treated Billy like an idiot. “I know how to handle him though,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have to,” Dick said with soft eyes as they started to hear Ebenezer raise his voice. “Doesn’t sound so weak to me,” he scoffed.

“He isn’t, he’s perfectly healthy,” Billy told him. “He always has been. He just doesn’t like me,” he said and Dick closed his eyes, hating that this little kid had to live with a relative he knew hated him, that only wanted him around for money.

“You owe me, Wayne! I have been raising that brat since his deadbeat parents died!” Ebenezer screeched and Billy couldn’t help but flinch because that tone of voice always followed the strikes, the tirades where he would whip Billy.

Bruce’s voice wasn’t loud enough for them to hear, but the two had moved closer to the door and listened in as Bruce spoke in soft tones, “But have you really been raising him, Ebenezer? As soon as you were given access to Billy’s inheritance, you were suddenly unable to care for him. He’s been in Foster Care longer than he’s been with you,” he said calmly and Billy felt a little impressed by his calm demeanor.

“I could sue you, you know! Go to the news! Talk all about your street rat kid! Billionaire Bruce Wayne let his son live on the streets, I can see it now!” he yelled.

“You could,” Bruce agreed, a strange tone entering his voice. “But think about it, think about it long and hard because if you try anything, I will get my lawyers and I can promise you that things will not turn out the way you want them to. The neglect and abuse of children is a crime, Mr. Batson, and if you so much as make another peep, I will make sure you’re arrested for it, that the charges will stick. And that news article...it’ll be on how I removed my biological son from a toxic, abusive household the moment I learned about him,” he said and Billy’s eyes widened, impressed at Bruce’s words, at how easily he was handling his uncle. “This, right now, is your only chance to quit while you’re ahead,” he said and Billy was scrambling back as the door opened, hopping back onto the chair and looking like he hadn’t been listening in, looking up at him with curiosity instead of awe for handling his uncle the way he did, who looked pale and terrified right now.

Dick looked mildly impressed by this before he looked at his adoptive father.

“So, I take it everything’s settled?” he asked.

“Yes,” he said. “We’ll be getting Billy’s things,” he told his uncle.

“Just get that child out of my sight!” he said angrily and they walked out of the hotel room, Bruce’s hand a steady weight on his shoulders.

“So, I take it I’ll be coming to stay with you?” he asked, just to confirm.

“Of course,” he said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Tying up loose ends

Despite how Ebenezer did not accompany them, Billy still had a key so he unlocked the front door for them and let them in, directing them to the bedroom where his bags were as he walked off in another direction.

Dick contemplated going after him but figured it couldn’t be that bad, maybe his school books were in another room, and entered the small room. His room at the Vasquez’s might not have had much, but the posters on the wall made it looked lived in but here...it looked more like a prison cell.

HIs backpack and suitcase weren’t even unpacked at all, placed out of sight of his uncle in two different areas so if he needed to make a quick escape, one would always be available to him to take with him.

“Okay,” Billy said walking toward them with a picture frame in his hands that he was taking the picture from. “I have everything I need,” he said folding the picture up and placing it in his pocket.

“What’s the picture of?” Dick asked, making him pause before he took it out and showed him a picture of a happy, smiling family.

“It’s my family,” he said.

“Who’s the little girl?” Dick asked as, next to a smiling Billy, was a young girl who looked remarkably like him with brown eyes instead.

“She’s my little sister, Mary,” he said looking at it. “She was with mom and dad when they went to Egypt. I only stayed behind because I had a fever at the time,” he said fingers trailing along the image of their smiling faces with reverence as he looked at the images intensely. “This picture spends most of the time in the attic, so he won’t miss it,” he said putting it away

“Is there anywhere you’d like to go before we leave for Gotham, young master William?” Alfred asked.

“You call just call me Billy,” he protested.

“Perish the thought, Master William,” he said. “I could never be so informal,” he said.

“Just give up, man, Alfred loves his formalities,” Dick told him in amusement when it looked like the thirteen year old would keep fighting him on this.

“Okay then, I’d like to stop by the Vasquez’s. They were a good Foster Family,” he said.

“Of course,” Bruce said and they got into the mercedes, driving to his former abode and watched as Darla and Freddy hugged him.

“They were a good one,” Dick murmured as Mrs. Vasquez noticed Billy’s wrist and got concerned, asking if he needed some ice on it and generally fussing over him, kneeling to get a better look at it.

“This is from that bad habit of yours, isn’t it, Billy? Climbing onto the roof is dangerous ,” she said making him blink in surprise.

“You knew I did that?” he asked, making her huff.

“Did you honestly think only Freddy and Darla knew about that bad habit of yours? We know you do it when you need time to yourself so we never said anything even though we worried,” she said. “We even set you up in the second floor because your social worker informed us of this, so we made it easier for you because you couldn’t hurt yourself badly climbing in and out of the window,” she said and he offered her a small smile.

“And I appreciate that,” he said

“Promise you won’t hurt yourself again?” she asked him.

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “This was because my uncle didn’t give me the same space and tried to pull me back in,” he said. “I only came here to tell you that I won’t be living with him anymore,” he said looking at her wide eyes. “It turns out I have a biological dad I didn’t know about, so I’ll be living with him from now on,” he said and Bruce exited the car with a smile in her direction, watching her eyes widen further and Billy nodded his head in his father’s direction. “I’ll be living in Gotham,” he said.

“Thank you for taking care of my son though, I appreciate it,” he said holding out his hand.

“I would’ve done it whether I knew he was yours or not anyway,” she informed him, returning the gesture as she rolled to her feet. “You take care of Billy, you hear me?” she told him firmly.

“Rosa!” her husband said scandalized.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Vasquez. I plan on taking great care of him,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to ask you some questions,” he said leading her away into the house.

“So we’re never gonna see each other again?” Darla asked with a hurt expression.

“I’ll sneak back into Fawcett whenever I can,” he told her, patting her hand.

Or you could take the private plane here on the weekends. Bruce won’t mind,” Dick told him, reminding him he was there and Billy just shot him a cheeky grin.

“True, but that would be a waste of a test,” he said.

“A test?” he asked and Billy nodded his head.

“A test on how well he reacts to me running back to Fawcett,” he said with mock innocent eyes and Darla elbowed his side.

“Don’t be a jerk to Mr. Wayne,” she warned him, making the preteen laugh.

“Okay, okay,” he said with a smile. “So, did Mr. Wayne adopt any other kids? Or are you just it?” he asked.

“Billy likes to know how many are in the household he’s brought into,” Darla informed him, remembering how he didn’t appreciate not knowing they were there as well.

“Makes sense,” Dick said nodding his head. “He adopted Jason, but he’s not around much after a certain...accident,” he said wording it carefully. He could hardly say one of his brothers died and came back to life, now could he? “And Tim isn’t around much either, he works in another city, but you might see him from time to time. I think he forgets that he doesn’t live with us sometimes when he doesn’t get enough sleep. If you do see him, don’t let him drink coffee and try to put him in bed,” he said and Billy rose a brow at that, but didn’t say much. “But there is Damian,” he allowed. “Like you, he’s Bruce’s biological son, not adopted like the rest of us, and he is rough around the edges, I’ll warn you about that now. He’s actually a few years younger than you, actually,” he said.

“So, the only ones at home I’ll really spend time with is Damian?” he asked and Dick nodded his head. “Okay, sounds easy enough,” he said nodding his head. “Thanks for telling me,” he said and went off with Darla and Freddy to the backyard, so Dick gave them the illusion of privacy.

“What are you going to do?” Darla asked. “How are you going to be able to help now?” she hissed at him.

“Shh,” he hushed her. “I’ll talk with Vic later, set something up,” he told her. “For now,” he said ducking his head close and whispering something into her ears. “Got it?” he asked pulling away and she nodded her head. “Good,” he said standing up, seeing Bruce walk in their direction. “And don’t worry so much Darla, I’ll be fine,” he told her with a smirk before bounding toward his biological father seemingly without a care but Darla and Freddy knew him well enough to know that wasn’t true, it was never true.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: A new Home

“Don’t worry, Billy, you’ll like Gotham,” Bruce told him with a reassuring smile as he was looking hesitantly up at the dark skyline, placing a hand on his shoulder and making worried blue eyes look up at him. It was obvious the child was scared about leaving his hometown, it was probably the first time he’d left the city. It was natural.

It didn’t stop Bruce from feeling horrible for causing that expression, for taking him from what he considered his home. But biological father trumped not biological uncle every time, and his uncle would never have allowed him to return to that foster home, no matter how nicely they treated him. Bruce still made a mental note to donate some money to them because they did deserve compensation for taking care of Billy for the past year and a half.

With that money they could better support their children and bring in even more children that needed a home.

“While we get you settled in, we’re going to have to schedule a press conference later this week before people start to make up assumptions,” Bruce told him. He wasn’t like Damian, he couldn’t hide him away. “After that, you’ll be enrolled in a nearby school. Gotham Elementary,” he said and Billy was nodding his head in understanding, even as he felt uneasy.

“Don’t worry. I attended that school, so if you have any problems you can turn to me. I don’t plan on returning to Bludhaven for three months,” Dick said, seeing this. When Bruce had told him about his son, he’d informed his boss he was going to be gone awhile and with as many vacation days as he’d racked up it was no problem for him to be gone this long.

“Thanks,” he said.

“Well, here we are. Home sweet home,” Bruce said with a smile and Billy felt his eyes go large as he took in the mansion.

“Don’t worry, you get used to it,” Dick assured him, wondering if that was how he looked when he was brought here. “It’s Damian you’ll need to worry about, really,” he murmured into his ear as the other were getting out and Billy shot him a worried look. “Like I said, rough around the edges,” he said with a shrug. “Respect his personal space and he’ll leave you alone, really,” he told his little brother.

Billy nodded his head and got out, shouldering his backpack and letting Alfred drag the suitcase into the large manor as he took a deep, reassuring breath before stepping into the house that only made him feel worse, reminding him of how bad he had it.

“Ah, Pennyworth. I see you’ve returned,” a cool voice said and Billy looked up the stairs to find a boy, around ten, standing there with his back straight and hands clasped loosely behind his back, wearing a tailored black turtleneck and slacks he looked like he fit right in here. Far better than Billy in his baggy worn out red sweater and faded jeans. “And this must be William,” he said looking at him with disinterested green eyes. Disinterested was far better than hateful, in Billy's experience though

“It’s Billy actually, Billy Batson,” he said seeing him quirk a brow at Bruce.

“We decided to take him in, Damian. Isn’t that nice, to have another brother?” Bruce asked brightly but it was a warning to Damian and Billy glanced at the two, wondering what Mr. Wayne was keeping Damian from saying to him. Maybe something mean? It would hardly be anything new to Billy, but Mr. Wayne hardly knew anything about Billy, that his son was used to hurtful words.

“I suppose,” Damian allowed, dropping the previous matter without much problem or any fear, Billy noted. That was good, that was always good. “Pennyworth already prepared a room for you before they even left to meet you,” he said walking the rest of the way down the stairs and starting to walk away. “Alfred the Cat and Titus are my pets, leave them be,” he told Billy before leaving the room, a Great Dane following after him that he assumed was Titus. Well, not unless Alfred the Cat was really a dog, but Billy doubted that. Damian seemed like a straightforward kind of guy, not into the ironic jokes that Billy enjoyed. He'd put a different animal's name into another animal's name if he thought it would be funny. He'd never tell anyone that name, of course, but he'd call them that in his mind. But Billy, more often than not, used their real technical names as a means of naming them, like Hannah from the snake exhibit at Fawcett, seeing as a King Cobra's official name was Ophiophagus Hannah. Most people just thought he was giving her a human name for fun and thought he was weird, but a few people understood the pun for what it was.

 

After putting his things away in a large luxurious room, far larger than anywhere else he had stayed at for sure, Billy was given a tour of the mansion where they took a break for lunch before continuing.

Billy knew he would still get lost without a doubt, the long twisting hallways would confuse him but he knew enough to get to his room from most directions and that was all that mattered to him. Well, that and finding the kitchen (his room had a bathroom so he didn’t need to worry so much about that).

Dick was nice he quickly learned, he didn’t pretend to be nice the way Billy did, he was genuinely nice. He was stupid, he couldn’t help but think. Doesn’t he know being nice got you hurt? It still got Billy hurt, even today, and he knew better . He distanced himself from his foster families, but it still hurt every time he was moved.

Stepping out onto the balcony, he lifted his face toward the rain, uncaring of the weather as he looked around and quickly found his way onto the roof, sitting back against the wet tiles and closing his eyes, pretending he was on the roof back at the Vasquez’s, Darla and Freddy under the roof concerned. Pretending he was back home, with a loving mom and dad wondering where he was, a little sister for him to dote on. He pretended the water on his face was only rain and not the tears he was shedding, pretended that the tears weren’t there, that a gaping wound hadn’t been ripped open by his uncle just two days ago, pretended that he wasn’t a hero, that he wasn’t above shedding tears for his long dead parents.

“It would appear Master William has found his way to the roof,” Alfred reported as he was in the Bat Cave with Bruce and the others.

“Should we force him down?” Damian asked looking at the camera image of the thirteen year old just laying on the roof tiles like it was his bed, head tilted up to the rain.

“No, according to the Vasquez’s, he’s always done this. Trying to force him down only makes the problem worse, so you have to give him space,” Bruce said and Damian rose a brow.

“He came back with a sprained wrist,” he reminded them.

“From his stay with Ebenezer Batson, not from the Vasquez’s,” Bruce informed him. “Billy goes onto the roof of whatever home he stays at to think, supposedly it makes him feel better,” he said.

“You can go up there if you're worried though,” Dick said making his little brother click his tongue and storm away.

“I will inform him when I believe he’s been out in the rain too long,” Alfred commented.

“Of course,” Bruce said in agreement. He wouldn’t risk his newest son getting a cold.


 

After what felt like hours, but was probably twenty to thirty minutes, he slowly climbed down and changed into warm clothes, drying himself off properly so he wouldn’t get pneumonia. He wasn’t stupid, he knows he shouldn’t be out in the rain so long.

Quietly walking down the halls, he found his way to the kitchen, where he blinked as he found a cup of still warm hot cocoa resting on the counter. Apparently they’d known he was on the roof and left him alone.

Smiling, he pulled it closer to him as he took a seat at the table, sipping at the warm drink and letting it warm his body up from the inside as he kicked his legs.

From around the corner, out of sight, Dick smiled to himself as he and Alfred left the room. The moment he spotted the kid leaving the roof, he knew he’d be coming down for a warm drink and if he hadn’t come down to the kitchen, he’d have left it outside his room.

They knew he still needed his space, so they gave it to him while still helping him. So far, that’s all they can do for him. And seeing the soft smile on his face, Dick knew he would continue to do so.


 

“Oh, hey Titus,” he said when he heard the soft padding of paws on the tile and spotted the Great Dane, scratching him behind the ears as he finished off his drink and cleaned the cup, placing it up, before starting to make his way back to his room. “Shouldn’t you be with Damian?” he asked when the dog began to follow him, but figured maybe the dog liked to explore the area when everyone was asleep. It was past midnight after all, he’d only gotten up because he wanted a snack.

For now though, it was the perfect opportunity to find hiding places to put his souvenirs. He wouldn’t put it past Alfred to empty out his suitcase in an attempt to be helpful.

As he entered his room, Titus followed him inside, hopping onto the mattress as Alfred the cat joined him but Billy just shrugged and let the animals do what they wanted, checking the room for security cameras, finding only one at the balcony that was easy to hide from on the inside of the room, as it was pointed out and not in. From there, he looked for little hidey holes.

Rolling under the bed, he grinned when he found a loose board (they were usually under beds or next to dressers as no one would ever notice it there) and ripping it open, he pulled his open suitcase under with him, pulling out a large horn of a magic beast said to burn anyone that touched it, wrapped in a sheet to prevent it from hurting anyone (and also, why he couldn’t just leave it. It was too dangerous to leave behind) that he placed away along with other small items. Some were small trinkets, gems, others were about as large as his fist. And on top of them, he placed some random magazines so if anyone did discover it, they would think that was all he was trying to hide. It was surprisingly effective at keeping people away.

Placing the board back on top, he rolled back out and placed the rest of the clothes away in the dresser, leaving his backpack full in case this placed proved to be worse than Uncle E’s.

Sure, he doubted Bruce Wayne would hurt his kids, but he got that vibe from a lot of people he’d wound up having to run from. Just because he thought the man was kind didn’t always mean he really was kind.


 

After getting back from patrol, Bruce checked on Billy and found him curled up on the bed with Titus, nothing looking out of place but still making him smile. At least his son was comfortable enough to sleep in his home.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: News

Billionaire Bruce Wayne brings in new son!

That was the headline on the newspaper Hal slapped onto the table in front of Batman, making him glance up at him.

“Is there something you needed?” he asked, sounding bored.

“Yeah, I need to know if this is true,” he said jabbing a finger at the newspaper.

“It’s true,” he confirmed.

“And you’re only now telling us about this?” Hal demanded angrily.

“You truly do have a new son? I thought that was mere rumour,” Diana said blinking her eyes and as the others moved in, Victor knew what they didn’t, that his son was Shazam. That the constant reporters around Wayne Manor was keeping the magic user from reporting in. Batman almost couldn’t himself, but he had teleporters in the Batcave to get here.

“No, his name is Billy,” he said simply, hoping to end it there.

“Billy Batson, right?” Victor asked, earning a glare from the dark knight but he just gave him a cheeky grin (the same cheeky grin that Billy often gave him) as Hal burst out laughing.

“Oh, please tell me you're kidding,” he said amused.

“No, completely serious. His full name is William Joseph Batson, thirteen years old,” he said with a smile

“And how did you know about that?” Clark asked him with a curious frown.

“I’m connected to everything. The second Bats here got the test results on the paternity test, so did I,” he said and they nodded their heads in understanding.

“Which means you’ve been holding out on us, buddy,” Hal said pointing at Cyborg. It was one thing for Bruce to keep a secret from them, he was Batman so it was pretty much expected, but this was Victor , who was very much not Batman.

“Nah, I’ve just been distracted,” he admitted with a shrug.

“Distracted with what?” Bruce asked harshly.

“With Shazam,” he said honestly. It wasn’t a good idea to lie to Batman, and keep as close to the truth as possible. Something he had learned from Billy actually.

“Speaking of that crazy bastard, where is he?” Hal asked looking around as if he would suddenly appear out of nowhere.

“Busy with family problems. I doubt he’ll be able to come in for a few weeks,” Victor said honestly. It would take time for him to figure out how to slip away from both the reporters and from Batman after all.

“This has to do with the thing with the uncle he doesn’t trust?” Clark asked, reminding him of his sharp memory that he remembered a few off hand comments. That was probably why Billy was always so careful about how he chooses his words around both him and Bruce.  

“Yeah, it has to do with that,” he admitted, because it really did. His uncle was the whole reason he was dealing with the whole ‘moving to Gotham and living with a billionaire’ situation after all.

“Give him our regards, will you?” he said

“I’ll be sure to tell him,” he said with a nod of his head.

“By the way, Bruce. As a reporter, I’m offended you didn’t tell me about this,” he told him with mock offended eyes.

“You were dealing with something at the time of the press conference and it would be suspicious if I contacted you for every interview,” he said easily.

“For who?” Hal muttered, but Bruce was distracted by his buzzing phone.

“I thought you turned it off when you're in uniform?” Clark asked curiously.

“I have a son that doesn’t know I’m Batman. I need to have it on, especially with him just moving in,” he said bringing it up to his ear as he pulled the cowl off. “This is Bruce,” he answered.

“I know you told me to give him space, but he brought a picnic basket onto the roof,” Damian said without hesitation, making Bruce furrow his brows in confusion.

Why would he be on the roof with a picnic basket?” he couldn't help but ask, getting odd looks from the others.

“I don't know,” he scoffed, probably rolling his eyes. “He just had Alfred prepare him some food in a basket and climbed onto the roof. I normally wouldn't be concerned, but his wrist is still sprained,” he said idly.

“How long ago did he climb up there?” Bruce asked.

Ten minutes ago,” he said unconcerned.

“It's not like it would be the first time you climbed onto a roof, Damian,” he said casually, hearing his youngest scoff and hang up on him

“I'm worried about your parenting style,” Hal declared.

“Should you not be more concerned about your son being on the roof?” Clark asked him concerned, more so because he heard both sides of the conversation, including the fact that his son was injured and should not be climbing onto the roof to begin with.

“I was warned by his foster parents and his case worker both that he likes to climb onto the roof of whatever home he’s staying in. They informed me that if I gave him his space, he would stop doing it so often,” he said making them blink.

“Foster Parents?” Diana asked confused.

“Oh, that’s right. No one’s ever explained the Foster care system to you, have they?” Hal asked her and she shook her head, confused.

“When parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children for whatever reason and other relatives are also unable to care for the child, they wind up in Foster Care, where a caseworker is assigned to them to place them into a forever home. Foster Homes are temporary homes for the children,” Bruce said.

“And foster parents are these temporary parents?” she asked and they nodded their heads in agreement. “That is a most wonderful system,” she said.

“True, but like all government organizations, it has it's faults. Most of the Foster Parents only apply to the system to gain extra money and don’t properly care for the children. Some children even slip through the cracks in the system entirely,” Bruce said.

“That is horrible. Surely they are working to fix this?” she said and they all glanced at each other and tried to explain it further to Diana without working her into a frenzy.

 

Wayne Manor-

 

“Is something wrong, Damian?” Billy asked as his younger brother (and that was a weird thought for him still, that he had a little brother) who was climbing up the roof without any hesitation or fear. He probably climbed up here a lot as well, Billy couldn’t help but think (and privately, he wondered if he was invading his space, a place he went to think like Billy did)

“I was wondering about the picnic basket,” he answered curtly, making Billy look at the item in question. “After all, you still have a sprained wrist. It couldn’t have been easy to bring that up here,” he said sitting next to him.

“The view up here is nice,” Billy said looking over the grounds. You couldn’t even see the reporters, too. “And it’s a nice day today, so I couldn’t help but think it would be a shame to spend it inside,” he answered with a smile. “What? Is something on my face?” he asked when Damian stared at him long and hard, as if searching for something.

“Just trying to see if this is an honest response, or another lie, ” he answered curtly, making Billy flinch a little.

“What?” he asked.

“When you smile, it's usually a lie. A mask you wear,” he answered. “This time, it wasn’t a lie, it seems,” he said.

“Not all of my smiles are some mask,” Billy said, maybe with a bit more of an attitude than necessary, but he was still reeling from the fact that someone had seen through it. “It makes dealing with Foster Parents easier if they think you're some naive little kid who’s so grateful to be given a new home,” he said with a start of a sneer on his face. “It makes them feel better about themselves,” he said, anger started to appear in his voice before he quickly looked away, before the bitterness started to show.

“That’s certainly one way to think about it,” Damian said, humming. “But you still didn’t explain the picnic basket, ” he said making Billy smile.

“I like picnics,” he said. “My old family had them all the time, we’d have one big picnic before they went to their dig sites and another while we were at the dig site. The first was just with us, the second was with everyone at the dig site,” he said starting to pull out food, recalling the sound of laughter. He had never minded with everyone else, because they were also like his family. “We didn’t have the picnic when they left for Egypt. I was too sick,” he said, a hint of sadness in his eyes

“I don’t eat meat,” he told him, bringing a can of juice over to him.

“I have an apple if you’re hungry?” Billy said, holding out the fruit.

“It’s satisfactory,” he responded accepting the fruit. “Next time you want to have a picnic, don’t have it on the roof though,” he told him. “There’s a section in the backyard where you can have one,” he said.

“Maybe, but it doesn’t have this view,” Billy admitted, taking a bite from the sandwich as he looked out across the grounds.

It didn’t beat the view from the watchtower, but it was a close second in his mind.

"By the way, I haven't seen Mr. Wayne in awhile and I'm pretty sure I would have noticed him leave, especially from up here," Billy said looking at Damian curiously, who was already making a mental note to inform their father that Billy got curious when he disappeared during the day. He didn't want Billy to know about him being Batman after all and, if nothing else, he would suffer with them.

"I believe he's in one of the studies working on something for the company," he said without giving away anything and Billy hummed, taking another bite of the sandwich.  "Was there something you wanted to speak to him about?" he asked.

"Nah. I'm just curious," he said with a shrug.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: The Zoo

“Shazam still can’t come in?” Clark asked Cyborg during a meeting.

“Bruce can’t show up either because of the media nightmare,” Barry said slightly concerned that two of their members were no shows for over a week

Victor was just silently amused that the speedster just unknowingly stated why the magic user wasn’t showing up.

“Nah,” he said shaking his head in response. “I doubt he’ll be able to show up for awhile,” he said.

After all, avoiding the media was one thing, but somehow keeping it from Batman? Yeah, he wouldn’t look forward to trying that.


 

“Master William is testing the security again,” Alfred informed Bruce as he was bringing him lunch in the Cave.

“He’s probably feeling caged by now,” Bruce responded, taking the cup of coffee and glancing to see the end of a red sweater in the corner of a camera. He was picking it apart as fast as Damian had, slowly but surely. “I’m starting to feel caged, myself. Can’t go anywhere without reporters dogging our steps,” he said stirring the cup.

“Might I make a suggestion, sir?” he asked.

“Go ahead,” he said sipping at his drink.

“Perhaps you can make an event of it,” he said and when Bruce looked at him in confusion, he elaborated. “Staying inside to avoid the reporters will only make things harder on him in the long run. Perhaps you should go to the zoo, I heard he likes that,” he said.

“Gotham Zoo is under the control of the Penguin,” Bruce reminded him.

“We know that, he doesn’t,” he said. “I do not believe young master Damian has had the pleasure of going to Gotham zoo yet, either,” he said.

“Fine, prepare the car,” he said drinking the rest of his coffee and standing up.

“Of course, Master Bruce,” he said, leaving with a smile to do as he was told and Bruce glanced to the cameras, finding a flash of red in the corner of one near the gardens and started to head in that direction.


 

The moment Billy saw the large structure, with it’s metal gates, his entire face lit up and even though it meant that Bruce would be giving more money to Penguin for his schemes, it was worth it.

While Damian didn’t run off eagerly like Billy did, he did look at each animal with a small hint of joy in his eyes, the corner of his lips twitching upwards just enough that Bruce could see he was enjoying himself as well.

“Have you seen Billy?” he asked when he couldn’t see the red sweater for ten minutes.

“He ran off to get some food five minutes ago,” Damian replied, looking around now but spotting him speaking to one of the officials made his tense shoulders relax. “There. He seems to be speaking to someone,” he said and Bruce followed his line of sight and felt himself relax. “I’d blame you for being paranoid, but we both know the risks of being out in public like this,” he said glancing off to the side where a reporter was hidden, taking pictures of them.

“Sorry if I took awhile,” Billy apologized when he returned to their sides.

“It’s fine. What were you two talking about?” Bruce asked.

“I asked him about the feeding habits of the animals!” he proudly declared with a grin. “Like, did you know that the Brown Bears are Omnivores?” he asked.

“I did not,” Bruce said, quietly amused and listened as his son told him what he’d learned from the worker.


 

“You seem upset,” Victor said as Billy was tossing a football up and down, lying in the grass of the stadium they usually met up in. “So, judging by how you're here and not with your dad you’ve managed to slip away from him?” he asked.

“It took me three days to clock his security system,” he said with an annoyed huff. “And longer still for all the reporters to start to lose interest. Sneaking out was impossible with them always hanging around,” he complained. “How are the others?” he asked glancing at him.

“They’re a little concerned why you haven’t been able to show up for two weeks, at the same time Batman’s been dealing with some personal issues,” he said easily.

“What kind of personal issues?” Billy asked him curiously, getting an amused smile from Cyborg at this.

“You know I’m not gonna give you any hints to his secret identity. I refuse to participate in your dumb contest,” he said, as he usually did and Billy shot him a cheeky grin.

“Not even a small hint?” he asked.

“Not even that much. I’m neutral on this, you know that,” Vic said with a hint of amusement in his voice as he looked at the thirteen year old.

“Fine, so I take it you told Bats what I’ve been dealing with?” he asked.

Neutral, ” he said pointedly. “And no, I’ve told them that you’ve been dealing with some family issues. They don’t know it’s dad issues, Clark suggested it had to do with your uncle and I’ve just gone along with it,” he said and Billy nodded his head. As it as, it was the best cover for what was really going on as it had a hint of truth in it. The best lies always had some partial truth’s in it and when it was supplied by someone else, it was always easier to believe than if you did it yourself.

“I’ll try to head up later. You’ve been keeping an eye on Wayne Manor’s security system, right?” Billy asked glancing at him

“You asking me to help you sneak out every night?” he asked, raising a brow as he looked at Billy.

“I just need to know if the coast is clear,” he said simply and was handed an alarm clock. “Uh, I already have one?” he said unsure as he looked to the object to Vic, wondering what this was about.

“It’s a camera , doofus. Point it toward the door and I can tell you if someone is in the room when you're sneaking back in,” he said and Billy turned it over in his hands, not seeing the camera in it, but he supposed that was the point. It wouldn’t do if people could tell it was a camera after all. “So long as you remember to ask me of course. I can’t remember everything for you,” he said and Billy offered him a grin.

“Sure, sure,” he said amused. “Did you know Gotham Zoo is run by the Penguin?” he asked curiously, like they were talking about something mundane and not a criminal using a zoo of all places as a front for illegal activities.

“How do you figure that?” he asked blinking, unable to see the trail even as he was simultaneously triple checking everything. So far, it seemed like any other zoo in the world.

“The penguins receive special treatment,” he huffed. “The lion isn’t fed enough, nor do they give them bones to clean their teeth with, but the bear barely has enough room, same with the tiger too,” he said. “Most of the money he doesn’t put in for his operations go to his favorite animal,” he said, having seen it, and it brought up a righteous anger in him. Animals didn’t know better and they certainly didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. Sure, they were still healthy, just barely underweight but Billy could see that they weren’t happy.

“Please tell me you're going to leave this alone,” Victor pleaded with him, even knowing he wouldn’t. Billy was stubborn like that, being in Batman’s turf wouldn’t change that one bit.

“If it makes you feel better, I only plan on investigating right now,” he said as he knew talking to the boss of the zoo wouldn’t do right now, he had to go straight for the source if he wanted to do any good. And to do that, he needed to make a plan first.

“It doesn’t, but thanks for letting me know anyway,” he said with a small smile on his face, huffing in amusement.

“No prob, man,” he said with his usual smirk when he was amused that most people assumed was him being a jerk but Vic knew better.

“Join me in one more game before you head out for patrol?” he asked and the smirk turned into a grin.

“Oh, you know it,” he said before rushing off the fake grass to a nearby blackened spot to transform. When he transformed on the field, he quickly learned that fake grass could both melt and catch fire (but only a little, really) when struck by magic lightning.

Still, no one looked twice as lightning hit the abandoned football stadium. If anything, the people of Fawcett heard it and relaxed, somehow knowing that everything was starting to go back to normal after their heroes long absence.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Normalcy?

“I’m glad to see you cleared up the family problems,” Clark said as he walked along side Shazam in the Watchtower’s hallway.

“Yeah. I just needed to work out a different approach, really, to sneaking away,” he said easily as they entered the monitor room (or as Hal and Shazam liked to call it, the Room of Boredom as this was where they monitored the world for crimes and natural disasters. Neither of the two were allowed to be on monitor duty at the same time after a certain... incident ).

“Your family doesn’t know?” he asked curiously. Clark had always assumed his family, outside of his uncle that is, knew about his second job as a hero.

“Two members of my family know, but only because they saw me transform, like Vic did,” he said flippantly.

“Really? I thought you trusted them with it,” Victor said curiously from where he was sitting at the monitor, turning to face them and anyone else Clark would’ve lectured but Vic was still capable of doing his job even gossiping and not even looking at the monitor itself. They all knew he only really did it for a sense of normalcy.

“I don’t trust,” he replied with a small smile that suggested a story behind it. A story Vic knew if his own amused smile was to go by.

“And it took you two weeks to learn how to sneak away?” Hal asked curiously from his seat next to Vic, very glad for the distraction right now.

“Like sneaking away from Batman, I swear,” Shazam grumbled and Vic just looked even more amused before turning back to the monitor before they could notice and question him about it. Of course sneaking away from Bruce was like sneaking away from Batman, he was Batman.

Being the only one that knew the truth made it difficult at times like these to keep a straight face.

“You still managed it though,” Vic said once he was sure his amusement was more neutral based and not too obvious.

“Yeah, because sneaking away from him isn’t that difficult,” Shazam said with a raised brow like it should have been obvious, making all of them pause and look at him at this because no one ever said sneaking away from Batman was easy. He was Batman .

“I’m sorry, what?” Hal asked and Shazam looked around for a quick moment, as if afraid that Batman would suddenly appear out of nowhere. Not an unfounded fear, to be sure. “It sounded like you said sneaking away from Batman isn’t that difficult,” he said using his pinky to dislodge the word altering ear wax because there was no way he said what he thought he said.

“Because I did,” he said.

“Okay, now I’m curious. How do you sneak away from Batman?” Vic asked, turning to face him and giving him his full attention.

“Easy. Tell him where you’re going,” he said with a shrug. “He’ll check in five minutes, see you there and not think it’s worth his time, in ten minutes you can slip away to your real destination and he won’t even realize,” he said like it was the easiest thing to come up with, like everyone did it.

No wonder it worked on Batman, Hal couldn’t help but think as he looked at Shazam with wide eyes.

“What?” he asked at how they were staring at him.

“I just want to take a peek into that brain of yours, Sparky, because that idea would not appear in anyone’s head but would totally work,” he said and Shazam fondly rolled his eyes at the pilot’s antics.

“I grew up in Foster Care, man, I needed to get creative if I even wanted a minute to myself,” he told them and Clark blinked at the admission. Shazam did not easily share about his life outside the cape, well, to anyone that wasn’t Victor Stone that is.

“Do you think you can take monitor duty today?” Clark asked him.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said rubbing the back of his neck. “I don’t think I can manage anything up here for more than an hour before people get suspicious,” he said.

“Stop trying to get out of monitor duty,” Clark told him, because he had obviously been exaggerating in an attempt to get out of it.

“Aw,” he said with a mock pout.

“We’ll still let you leave in an hour. Come on, I’ll catch you up on what’s been going on,” Vic said and Hal moved out of the way for him to sit in the chair, more than happy for an excuse to leave early.

Shazam’s pleading look was easily ignored as Hal moved over to the door, Clark give him an amused, if sympathetic, look before he followed suit.

As Vic droned on with some boring facts (that he knew were important but couldn’t quite bring himself to care) Billy couldn’t help but wish that he was back to being trapped inside Wayne Manor because at least there he could find ways of entertaining himself.

Thinking about it, he should start a garden to grow some of the herbs he would need later. He doubted they would mind too much. No one ever seemed to mind when Billy did this, because it was a sign that he was comfortable enough to start to make plans to make the place he was staying for comfortable and home-y.

Those were usually the times he would get kicked out of some of the homes, because they didn’t want Billy, didn’t like him. He didn’t overly mind too much though, as he could just make a garden in a park after dark to grow these herbs. No one ever noticed as long as he planted them behind some bushes or a tree far enough in the park.

He actually had a small area of the park that he always went to to restock his supply as the plants were left unattended there for some reason, forgotten by the park caretakers.

Curious as he was about that, Billy found he didn’t care as it made things easy for him. No one ever noticed if someone planted some magic herbs there.

But making a trip back to Fawcett for some plants was too much, even for him, and he wouldn't be able to properly keep an eye on the plants progress. No, it needed to be close...

“Are you even listening to me?” Vic asked.

“You were talking about making protocols for some countries,” he said boredom laced in his voice. He had long since developed the ability to get lost in thought while someone was talking and somehow retain the information they were spouting.

Vic gave him a slightly suspicious look, as if he wanted to call him out for not listening but didn’t know how after he just repeated what he last said. It was a look Billy was very used to.

“Yeah, because some of them have closed borders and don’t want us entering and we don’t want to create an international incident…” he said voice getting distance.

“Uhuh. International incidents are bad,” he said in bored agreement.

He was going to need to restock on wolfsbane, now that he thought about it. Some Thyme too. Actually, he was pretty sure he saw that on the grounds of Wayne Manor and would need to check.

He shifted on the chair so his legs were folded as he found it more comfortable, but barely even noticed the shift in posture himself.

Although, if he used their stock of Thyme, they were bound to notice and get curious as it disappeared without notice. They’d probably also be curious as one of them was bound to notice that he had Thyme in his garden.

Once Vic heard Billy let out a small subconscious hum, he stopped talking because he knew that sound. That was the sound he made when he was lost in thought and glancing at him, he knew it was true because his legs were folded as he floated a few inches above the chair, arms crossed over his chest, a thoughtful little frown pulling at his face as his body sparked with restless energy.

He wondered how long it would take Billy to realize he had stopped talking and was looking at him.

Watching over the state of the world, he idly set a timer and stared at Billy. He hoped this had nothing to do with the Penguin thing he was planning, but knowing Billy, it was a very strong chance.


 

After a while, Billy realized the room was quiet and that he was being stared at expectantly and lifted his gaze to see Vic staring at him with a slight hint of boredom and amusement, face leaning against one of his hands similar to how Billy had been sitting earlier.

“This is a whole new record for you. It took you one hour and ten minutes,” he said with that hint of amusement and Billy felt himself start to break out into a nervous sweat from habit, knowing that being caught not paying attention usually resulted in punishment from his experience. He also knew that Vic would never hurt him like that, that not everyone would fly into a mindless rage.

“I’m not angry or anything,” he said and Billy knew he had been able to read him, pick up the way his heartbeat started to speed up as his entire body tensed as he readied himself to move.  He had picked all this up and assured him as best as he could without ruffling Billy’s feathers like others have done in the past.

“Oh, poor darling. I would never hurt you. It’s okay, you don’t have to be scared,”  a woman’s voice rang in the back of his mind. All that had done was make him angry, because he didn’t need pity, for someone to call him out on someone else’s screw ups, for some stranger to pull him in for a hug when he was still thinking about running, when he was still coming to the realization that he was safe. All that did was make his hackles raise, make him freak out worse and give a very obvious flinch he could never quite help. 

“I know,” he said with a sheepish smile. Vic never did that though when Billy slipped up like that, patiently waiting for him to pay attention again and never once getting angry at him but it was only a matter of time before Billy did something wrong and ruin their friendship, before Vic got tired of him like everyone else . Vic would even assure him that he wasn’t angry with usually a joke and never once tried to touch him when Billy was like this.

Most things that kids found comforting: hugs, stroking of the hair...it set Billy’s teeth on edge. He preferred companionable silence.

Vic was the only person to give him that, to let Billy control the pace, to let Billy initiate all contact or barring that, to leave an open invitation (holding up a hand for a high five, holding out his fist for a fist bump…) that Billy could refuse whenever he wanted. He never wanted to refuse.

“So, what exactly were you thinking about?” Vic asked curiously.

“I’m thinking of starting a garden,” he said with a grin.

“I didn’t realize you had a green thumb,” Vic said raising a brow in amusement and that small still panicking part of his brain finally calmed down because everything was starting to feel normal again between them, because this was their usual.

“Yeah, well, I happen to find it relaxing,” he defended himself, letting his eyes slip close as he lifted his chin as he spoke, something he usually wouldn’t do with other people. “Besides, these are herbs with magical leaning, so they’re pretty darn important, but I can’t use the park anymore,” he said and Vic opened his mouth before closing it, brows furrowing in confusion.

“You used the park for magic plants?” he asked.

“Park maintenance pretty much forgot about this one corner so the plants grow pretty wild there,” he said simply. “I used it when I was between places and couldn’t make my own garden,” he said and to anyone overhearing they would assume that he meant when he was moving apartments or if his apartment wouldn’t let him have a garden for himself, not when he was being shuffled home to home by social services


 

Smiling to himself as he walked home, Billy was actually pretty proud of himself for being able to convince Alfred (because Billy knew who was really in charge) to let him have a garden on the balcony, and not only that, but also to let Billy pick up the plants himself.

He was pretty stubborn on that last point, actually, because a lot of them you’d have to go to “special” shops only seen to those that have magic flowing through their blood.

Gotham didn’t have many of those shops, as even magic users respected Batman’s “no metas in Gotham” rule. However, the plants he needed were those of a peaceful nature and necessary for most potions and elixirs.

Fortunately, the money Alfred had given him combined with his own savings were more than enough to buy the plants.

Usually, he’d turn into Shazam and fly over to where they naturally grew but that took about a week or longer and he didn’t have that much time to search for a plant he could buy in a local shop (albeit for about a thousand dollars. Rare plants weren’t cheap afterall).

He heard a buzzing from his pocket and knew it was from Alfred (again) but Billy knew the limo would give them away in this part of town so he hadn’t really told him he was going to get the plants, just that he was going for a walk (which, technically, it was. Halfway across town, sure, but he was walking). His hands were full at the moment so he couldn’t just send a text back to him either.

Suddenly, he heard a strange sound behind him and dropped the bags, ready to move, as the bags disappeared before they could hit the ground (Mugging Guarantees were worth the extra hundred dollars, as the bags would harmlessly return to the store for the buyer to return for it or a prearranged drop off point).

Before he could turn around, a cloth went over his mouth and he recognized the damp, sweet scent presented before him and struggled before an arm (broad. Brown coat. Hands covered in black leather gloves. Male) wrapped around his middle, pressing him against a broad back (further proving his assailant was a male. Worked out, but not enough to be completely ripped) and managed to pull his hand away to possibly claw at the hand holding the rag and maybe make it pull away before his wrist was grabbed (multiple assailants. Unknown number) and he went limp as everything went black.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Trouble

Billy had to keep himself from yawning as he was surrounded by some no name thugs who thought it was a good idea to hold Bruce Wayne’s newest son for ransom.

The only reason Billy was currently tied up in an abandoned building, GCPD outside with their sirens blaring, was because they had gotten the drop on him and had chloroform. God, he hated Chloroform. It gave him a headache above his left eye and left an odd taste in his mouth.

He could’ve easily turned into Shazam and dealt with this whole mess as they didn’t even think to gag him, but that seemed like overkill right now. Right now he was just bored.

Watching the thug behind him move over to the window as Commissioner Gordon was using a bullhorn to address them he began to tug at the ropes, loosening the knots around his wrist.

“Let the kid go!” Commissioner Gordon was saying

“And we will, once we get the million bucks from Wayne!” one of the crooks called down to them, ready to open fire at them at a moment’s notice. He was far too trigger happy in Billy’s opinion so Billy kept a wary eye on him as he worked. He seemed like the kind of guy who might decide to get violent with Billy and he had enough injuries.

Okay, this is taking too long, he thought starting to get frustrated with how long it was taking as his wrist throbbed in pain from his movement, almost drawing a hiss of pain out of his teeth. If this kept up, he would miss the Series Finale to Bones and he was really looking forward to that. Also, his wrist would probably take longer to heal because he’d make it worse. “Αφαιρέστε τους δεσμούς γύρω μου,” he whispered under his breath and as the rope fell to the ground, he grabbed it in his hands, tugging the rope that was once wrapped around his middle so it looked like it was still tied around him as the thug glanced back at him.

Billy kept himself from looking smug, and kept up the bored expression that he’d adopted since he came too and realized he’d been caught by what amounted to a bunch of amateurs, which really did make this entire ordeal kind of humiliating but Billy refused to focus on that as it was his fault. He really should’ve taken into consideration that most of Gotham knew his face before going out and he gave a small sigh as he knew that after today probably all of Gotham would know his face. He was going to need to be more careful when he snuck out next time, as there was no doubt in his mind he’d be sneaking out again.

“Did you say something, kid?” he asked, looking ready to strike at a moment’s notice if Billy said something wrong.

“Ever watch Bones?” he asked them plainly. Good thing for him that Billy just didn’t care if he said the wrong thing or not.

“Yeah?” he said unsure.

“I just realized I’m going to miss the new episode,” he said. “So, you probably heard that,” he said with an easy shrug.

“What is wrong with your priorities, kid? You were kidnapped, you're being held for ransom! You should be more worried about that, not some show that you can watch on DVR!” he yelled angry, fed up with the kid.

“Not the first time I was kidnapped,” he answered with a shrug. “I grew up in Fawcett, stuff like this happens all the time there,” he said easily. “I mean, yeah, I’m new to the whole ransom thing you’ve got going on, but honestly, not that different,” he said. It was a total lie of course, but Billy wasn’t going to tell him that. He was never actually kidnapped, not technically, at least and he’d rather not remember the occasions that he’d been tied up, gagged, and tossed into a room. There had been far too many of those for his comfort.

At least when the Gods tried to kidnap him, they were polite about it. Sorta. They usually just showed up and took him and as long as Billy kept his wits about him, he could get himself returned back home. Especially with Persephone. She was the one who taught him about gardening after all. As long as he didn’t eat the food of the Underworld he was fine and the Queen of the dead was actually really good company past the whole kidnapping thing.

“And here I thought Gotham was bad,” the guy muttered and Billy offered him a shrug before he went to guard another window and Billy ducked his head to hide a smile because his exit point was still very much clear.


 

“So, he’s gotten himself kidnapped less than a week after arriving with us,” Damian said as he lowered the binoculars . “We should give him self-defense lessons at the very least. I’d rather not be forced to save him every other week,” he said. It would be very irritating for him to direct resources to rescue him so often.

“Robin, be nice,” Batman said looking through his own binoculars, at the face of his son who was tied up. “He’s reacting very well,” he said, as Billy looked more bored than scared right now. He wasn’t sure if he was glad about that though, as it made him a little concerned that his son didn’t think being held for ransom was that frightening.

When he ducked his head after his captor had spoken to him, they figured he was scared but when he turned his head to check the room and saw that none of his captors were looking at him, he let the ropes around him drop and Bruce was a little impressed. He ducked his head to hide his smile, he realized, not because he was scared.

“So, he’s free, but how’s he going to get away?” Damian asked, eyes flickering to the other windows. He wouldn’t exactly know if one of them led to a fire escape and not many of the windows were left unguarded and there was no knowing if the door was even unlocked at all. Trying to open it might get him caught.

Billy answered that question by going over to the door, opening it without a sound, and walking straight out without a problem as the thugs were too focused on watching for outside problems than inside and Damian rose a brow.

It was really that easy for him? Perhaps they wouldn’t need to divert any resources for his half-brother after all. Or perhaps these kidnappers were just fools, leaving such a large gap in their security, severely underestimating William to the point he could just waltz right out without a problem.

“Looks like we aren’t really needed then,” Batman responded with a smirk. Looked like his son could handle himself just fine, he thought with pride.

The two disappeared into the darkness with no one even realizing that Batman and Robin had even been there at all.


 

“If we plant snipers here and here, and slip in from this door,” Gordon said pointing at points on the blueprints he had laid out on the roof of a squad car.

“Commissioner!” one of his men, Ramirez, called out and he lifted his head watching a child bounding toward them and undoing the last of the rope tied around his wrists seemingly without a care in the world.

“Commissioner Gordon, right?” he asked with a crooked grin. “I’m Billy Batson,” he said holding out his hand.

“How did you get out?” he asked flabbergasted. It couldn’t have been Batman, they’d have heard the criminals if that was the case, heard gunfire.

“I grew up in Fawcett,” he replied, like it made all the difference and Gordon noticed that he was positioned just so so that his kidnappers couldn’t see him. “I know how to untie a rope by now. There are three men,” he said carefully taking a step forward, blue eyes watching the 6th floor window where the criminals were no doubt located.

Detective Bullock noticed this and moved so his large body covered the ten year old and though he didn’t relax, he stopped tracking the window and moved over to the car, looking at the blueprints.

“On the six floor, two are always looking out the front window here,” he said tapping it. “The third guy is always moving around, from the front window to the back window here,” he said tracing the pathway he took. “They didn’t really pay a lot of attention to me,” he said with a small smile. “I know there’s a fourth guy, though, on the upper floors. The others didn’t ever touch a phone to make their demands and every once in awhile, I could hear him walking around,” he said.

“Probably the guy in charge,” Gordon agreed. “But first, let’s get you to your father. He’s worried about you,” he said gently, placing a hand on the child’s shoulder.

“Okay,” he said nodding his head and Gordon began to lead the child to the back of an ambulance waiting around.

“Billy!” Bruce said rushing over to pull him into a hug and the Commissioner didn’t fail to notice the way the thirteen year old child tensed up. “I was so worried, are you okay?” he asked pulling back and there was no faking the love in his eyes, the way the child started to relax into the touch, leaning into it a bit more.

“I’m fine,” he said tugging at his left wrist that the Billionaire gently grasped, lifting it up to reveal a wrapped hand. “Okay, I might have hurt it more,” he admitted.

“Might I ask how that happened?” Gordon asked and he and Bruce shared a look, him silently warning him of what he suspected.

“My uncle accidentally hurt me before Mr. Wayne showed up to take me away. It was an accident though,” he said looking at it and the way the man was looking at Gordon said it wasn’t an accident, and that’s the very reason he took him away from his uncle.

Good, Gordon thought viciously. At least Bruce Wayne would take care of this kid and actually care about him. He might not have been a perfect father (no father ever really was. Gordon included) but Wayne loved each and every one of his kids for better or worse.

“The criminals are still inside though. We’ll be sending in a SWAT team in a few minutes now that it’s no longer a hostage situation,” Gordon told him and Wayne nodded his head. “You got a good head on your shoulders kid,” he told the preteen, who offered him a grin.

“You handled yourself well,” Damian told him coolly, hands clasped lightly behind his back. “I’m impressed,” he said and the grin started to grow from the praise. He knew Damian did not give praise lightly from the short amount of time he had spent inside the household.

“Thanks,” he said. “All I did was undo the wrap around my wrist, my hand slipped right out after that and I undid the rest of the knots that way,” he said, because if he had not gotten frustrated, he really would have done that, but magic was quicker, though it did leave him feeling sleepy.

“Let’s go home Billy,” he said, seeing that his child was tired.

“Okay,” he said in agreement.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: The Start of an Investigation

After waking up from his magic induced nap, Billy did a quick check and when he didn’t spot Mr. Wayne, figured that he was caught up in police work and momentarily contemplated going back to sleep but figured that Vic was probably worried about him, for now though, he was going to get himself a snack. Vic was a huge worry wort and Billy was hungry.

Silently padding down the halls, he bit back a yawn knowing it was just the late hour combined with the magic usage. Slipping inside the kitchen, he walked to the fridge and opened it, looking for something to eat.

“And just what do you think you are doing, Master William?” Alfred asked, the lights of the kitchen turning on and startling the thirteen year old who was staring at the butler with a deer caught in headlight expression, in the middle of pulling down a plate of carrot cake. “You should not be eating something like that at this time, you won’t be able to go back to sleep,” he said waving him away and gathering some ingredients.

“You don’t have to do that,” Billy protested, because Alfred probably came down here for some tea or a small snack, not to take care of Billy who should be in bed like a good little boy.

“Parish the thought,” he said. “Master Bruce is still awake himself, dealing with the police reports,” he said. “I was already going to make him a snack and a warm cup of tea,” he said, not mentioning that he was going to bring it down to the Bat Cave because it was still far too soon for this child to know his father was Batman. It hadn’t even been a week since he moved to Gotham, and he still wasn’t comfortable with them, the same way Master Jason hadn’t been comfortable with them for the longest time.

“Just don’t trouble yourself on my account,” Billy said pulling himself onto a tall stool to watch Alfred cook. He probably wouldn’t be able to see Vic for a while, but it wouldn’t take long to contact him through the League communicator. The two had long made a way of communicating that they needed to use the private line in case Billy couldn’t transform.

“It is no trouble at all, Master William,” Alfred said. “But are you sure you would rather not be asleep right now?” he asked, as Billy was resting his head on the counter looking as though he could fall asleep at any moment.

“I’m fine,” he said. “If I don’t eat now, I’ll just wake up even more hungrier later,” he said with a yawn. It was a lesson he had learned the hard way in the past when he tried to ignore it due to the exhaustion, waking up half an hour later with his stomach feeling like it was eating itself and a terrible headache. Suffice to say, he did not want that happening again.

“Can you wait 10 minutes for it to be done cooking?” he asked, whisking the eggs and glancing at the thirteen year old in concern.

“10 minutes? Yeah, yeah I can wait that long,” he said with a nod, lifting his head up in an attempt to keep himself awake.


 

After eating his snack, he returned to his room (though it took him a minute to remember which door was his in his exhaustion, that he stood standing in the hall feeling like an idiot and grateful that no one came to investigate why he was standing there. So much for memorizing which door was his, he’d need to leave something on the door to remember) and turned on his communicator and turned it back off before turning it back on in quick concession, repeating the process three times. 

“Hey Billy,” Vic responded after a minute, probably getting away from anyone who could hear and if he remembered right, he wasn’t on monitor duty but he might’ve been in the rec room with the others. Oh well, it really wasn’t that unusual for Vic to leave for a call and as long as it wasn’t Superman with his super hearing it should be fine.

“Hey Vic,” he said laying on the bed and looking at the ceiling. “Think you can cover for me? Pretty sure after today they won’t be letting me out of their sight for awhile,” he said.

“Sure. I can cover for you,” he said. “How are you anyway?” he asked gently.

“Just tired. I used a spell to undo the rope instead of doing it myself. My sleep schedule is going to be a mess for a few days,” he said with a yawn.

“You're way too calm for someone that was kidnapped,” he said, no doubt shaking his head at how strange Billy was to him.

“It’s not like they really could’ve hurt me, all things considered. They didn’t even have me gagged, they were total amateurs,” he said, glad he could talk to someone truthfully about the event. “No one’s talking to me about it, either, so I don’t know if they all got arrested or not,” he said looking at a comic he pulled off from the top of the dresser.

“The guy in charge got away so you should keep an eye out just in case,” he said after a small pause, likely looking into the reports right now.

“Any leads on him?” he asked as he turned a page.

“Not yet, ” he said with a sigh as Bruce was having him look into it as well as he was currently dealing with the Media nightmare which left him too busy for the investigation for now.

“Something wrong?” he asked, noticing the exhausted tone of his voice.

“Nothing much. Bats is having me look into some things,” he said.

“I suppose the kidnapping of a child would be important to him, especially if they’re in Gotham,” he said and Vic couldn’t help but smile to himself that Billy knew him so well. “Have other kids been kidnapped?” he asked.

“All the kids of billionaires. None of them come back alive whether the parents pay or not. That’s why Bats is so worried about this case,” he said and Billy hummed in thought, rolling out of bed to walk across the room to the laptop Mr. Wayne gave him, activating it and letting the light hit his face, turning down the brightness before it could blind him.

“Send me the information?” he asked and images were popping up alongside the police reports as Vic made it so Bruce couldn’t tell what his son was really looking at, knowing he had bugged the computer to tell what Billy would look at on the internet.

“You really should get some sleep,” he said when Billy gave another yawn.

“I’m fine,” he said. “I’ve slept for four hours already,” he said.

“You and I both know that still isn’t a healthy amount of sleep,” he said because Billy seemed to operate under the belief that four hours of sleep was more than enough sleep for a still growing boy.

“I don’t have school tomorrow, Wayne is pulling it off for a few days, so I can sleep later and still be okay,” he responded and Vic pulled up the video chat option so he could see how disappointed he looked at Billy but he ignored it with practiced ease and brought up another piece of information.

"Be that as it may, you won’t be able to help anyone if you collapse in exhaustion,” he said making Billy frown at him at how stubborn he was being, knowing he wouldn't drop the issue.

“Fine,” he said. “Hide it will ya?” he asked but Vic was already prepared and Billy watched everything disappear into what looked like a gaming app. “Talk to you tomorrow,” he said shutting everything else down and starting to slide back into bed. “Make the alarm blare at seven though. I still haven’t figured out how it works,” he said.

“Fine,” he said and Billy noticed a red dot appear on the clock’s face.

“Night,” he said, raising his hand to his ear.

“Good night, Billy,” he said sounding fed up and Billy started to tug out his communicator, slipping it underneath his pillowcase, right under his head so if there was an emergency, he would still hear it.

He slept in till noon and as much as he wanted to get angry at Vic for that, he knew he had walked into it. Never trust Cyborg to set an alarm, he thought to himself, he’ll just let you sleep in.


 

“My, aren’t you a pinnacle of grace?” Damian said when he found him eating cereal on the couch, watching the final minutes of Bones, with a building exploding. “What are you watching?” he asked, hoping over the back of the couch to join Billy, who continued to eat.

“Series finale of Bones. It probably won’t mean that much to you, since it’s the end,” he said with his cheeks puffed out from cereal and when it officially ended, leaving Billy satisfied, he allowed Damian to take the remote and switch it to the news.

“And in local news, Billy Batson, newly discovered son of playboy Bruce Wayne, was held for ransom downtown yesterday. Three of the men were arrested, but police speculate that the true perpetrator remains at large…” the news anchor was saying before Damian changed the channel and Billy gave him a curious glance.

“I’m fine talking about it, you know,” he informed him and when green eyes glanced at his half brother, he saw that it was true. Batson was perfectly fine speaking about it and did not need to have the issue avoided like Grayson had told him.

“I apologize,” Damian said simply. “Grayson told me you might not want to talk about it and that we shouldn’t bring it up around you in case it brought back bad memories,” he said.

“Nah. It’s cool,” he said, appreciating how blunt and honest Damian was as he stood up. “To be honest, it wasn’t the first time I was kidnapped. It...happens a lot in Fawcett,” he admitted, heading to put the bowl away as he drank the milk in the bowl.

“The Commissioner will be by later to take a statement from you,” Damian informed him, quickly catching up. “Will you be fine with that as well?” he asked.

“It’s cool,” Billy said with a shrug.