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Fanfic / Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts

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Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts is a DC Universe fan fiction series/setting by Unpretty.

It began with stories focusing on the two Marthas — Superman's mother Martha Kent and Batman's mother Martha Wayne — and later expanded to include stories exploring the personalities of their respective sons and other related characters.

The initial stories are "Wayne Manor", in which Alfred Pennyworth becomes butler to the Wayne family and learns that there's much more to Martha Wayne than meets the eye, and "Empty Graves", in which time-traveling assassins who aim to kill Clark Kent when he's little and defenseless discover that he is in fact very well defended. Other stories include "Gotham High", in which teenaged Bruce Wayne finds himself accidentally acquiring friends and a social life, "Third Wheel", in which Bruce Wayne visits Metropolis for the first time and makes the acquaintance of its two finest newshounds, "Christmas in Kansas", in which Clark Kent invites his friends Bruce and Diana home for Christmas, and "Arm Candy", an exploration of Bruce Wayne and the women who surround him at parties, along with numerous shorter works.

Rather than being set in any particular version of the DC Universe, the stories are set in a continuity of their own, which draws elements from the comics as well as adaptations such as the DC Animated Universe, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Gotham, Suicide Squad (2016), and the Arrowverse.

Stories, scene fragments, and author's notes appear first on Unpretty's tumblr blog, with sufficiently story-shaped bits subsequently archived on AO3.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Thomas Wayne's father was physically and emotionally abusive, according to what Thomas lets slip in "Wayne Manor".
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • When Alfred first meets Martha Wayne, she calls him "Shillingsweight" and "Pennywork". An invoked instance, because she's not nearly as bubble-brained as she chooses to appear, and once she decides to let him know it, she gets his name right whenever she's having a serious private conversation with him — though she keeps on calling him "Quartercup" and "Manpennies" whenever there's anyone else around (including her husband).
    • The titular "Karen from HR" is actually named Corinne, but got stuck with Karen after enough people misheard her name, and never bothered to correct them due to low self-esteem.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Martha Kent shamelessly telling Bruce and Diana embarrassing stories about Clark's childhood in "Christmas in Kansas".
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In "Unpaid Internship":
    Flash: Do you think if I asked J'onn he'd read Batman's mind to find out where it came from?
    J'onn: I would not... Ethical issues aside, exploring Batman's mind is extremely unpleasant. I would prefer to be able to enjoy the rest of my day.
  • Anachronic Order: "Arm Candy". The second chapter is set about a year after the first, but after that each chapter is set earlier than the ones preceding it.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Catwoman can see through the eyes of cats and influence their behavior (but only one cat at a time and only while her own body is unconscious).
  • Animal Motifs: In "Wayne Manor", Betsy Strazds claims she can look at a person and tell what animal symbolizes their spirit and destiny. In this continuity, that's the origin of Fish Mooney's nickname. She also tells Alfred that he's a wolf, and that lone wolves don't thrive, foreshadowing that he will align himself with the Wayne family.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing:
    • Batman is his usual bat-themed but not actually bat-powered self.
    • This version of Catwoman has some kind of supernatural affinity with cats, in a package deal that includes enhanced night vision and discreet fangs.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Bruce's outlook on life, touched on briefly in "Christmas In Kansas":
    He was a very particular kind of cynic. He did not think, but knew, that true love was a real and tangible thing. True love looked like bloodless hands trapped together by rigor mortis, true love sounded like a man's will to live escaping through his throat, true love tasted like copper and bile. Anything less was a pale imitation settled for by people who didn't know any better.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Wayne Manor", eight-year-old Bruce starts outlining an enthusiastic vision of his next birthday party, then starts considering likely consequences and concludes that it would probably end with guests seriously injured, the entire Wayne family in jail, "and all the food would be ruined."
  • Ascended Fanboy: Kyle Rayner. Notably, the fact that he was a fanboy at all is something he is loath to admit, largely because it involved a DeviantArt account and lots of embarrassing fanart of Superman.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Martha Wayne's fifties-chic outfits.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Diana is a centuries-old magical warrior who is charmingly conscientious about learning the ins and outs of the world of men and unironically enthusiastic about cute baby animals, emojis and animal-ear hoodies.
    • Bruce can be adorable on the very rare occasions he lets his guard down. The scene in "Stolen Moments" where it's just him and the cat is an example.
  • Badass and Baby: In "Unpaid Internship", Batman saves the world while looking after a toddler.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Discussed in "Third Wheel".
    The trick to being in places where she didn't belong was to look as if she belonged there. Lois was very good at looking like she belonged places. At least once someone she had never met assumed she was their boss. She was still a bit smug about that.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Discussed during a Seinfeldian Conversation in "Gone Fishing". Clark claims that they're ghosts who have become trapped under bedsheets because bedlinen is the only thing a ghost can't pass through, which is why (as any child knows) you're safe in bed with the blankets pulled up over your head.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Bruce and Diana's First Kiss in "Christmas in Kansas".
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Bruce has a pretend one with a cat in "Stolen Moments".
    "I know, I know. I should have realized there'd be onions."
    "You think I don't know?"
    "I saw him eat a whole onion, once. Raw. Like an apple."
  • Blasphemous Boast: In "Arm Candy", when one of Bruce's girl friends makes a comment about not wanting to cause unnecessary expense:
    Bruce: I have more money than God.
    Tara: Does God have a lot of money?
    Bruce: No. He's not a capitalist. That's the other guy.
    Tara: Do you have more money than the devil?
    Bruce: Not yet, but I'm working on it.
  • Blatant Lies: Everything Bruce tells himself in "Give and Take" about how he absolutely isn't paying special attention to Selina Kyle.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • How Bruce views the hypervigilance that makes him The World's Greatest Detective, since it stems directly from his mental trauma and near-death experiences. It's #5 on his "Reasons I am Sad" list in "Nominal".
    • From "Karen from HR", Corinne's Resurrective Immortality. Setting aside the whole mountain of emotional baggage that would probably make her suicidal if it ever stuck, it causes awful hangovers the day after (especially if she died from poison, which is "puke city"), it confers no other benefits besides bringing her back to life minus whatever killed her (non-fatal injuries stick), and she lives in Gotham. She has apparently been joker-gassed while taking the subway more than once. She doesn't even fully understand how her own powers work; she's mostly just figured it out from trial-and-error because she doesn't want to get turned into an experiment somewhere.
  • Boyfriend Bluff: Low-key version in "Perfect Alibi", where Bruce rescues a woman at a party from a guy who's creeping on her by butting in to share made-up-on-the-spot reminiscences about the last party they were both at.
  • Boys Like Creepy Critters: Young Bruce in "Wayne Manor" has had a succession of pet critters including a toad and a tarantula, and is on first-name terms with the owner of a Gotham pet shop specializing in reptiles and other creepy critters.
  • Brainless Beauty: Martha Wayne's public persona.
  • Busman's Holiday: In "Gone Fishing", Clark and Bruce go on a weekend camping trip that just happens to be in an area where a supernatural serial killer is operating.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Tim Drake describes being adopted by Bruce as "i actually met him before so it's not like i just showed up like HELLO MISTER WAYNE MEET UR NEW SON but also that is what i did".
  • Call-Forward: In "Wayne Manor":
    "Happy people can't be murderers?"
    "Only if they're fake happy." Bruce sounded very sure of himself. "Like clowns."
  • The Casanova: Alfred is implied to have been one in his secret agent days (and possibly to still be one on his own time, judging by a scene in "Arm Candy").
  • Catapult Nightmare: Mentioned, and averted. Bruce has been having the exact same nightmare ever since the night his parents died, and now waking up from it is no more eventful than waking up for any other reason.
  • Catchphrase: Bruce Wayne is very prone to calling things he isn't fond of "a menace to society".
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Discussed during a Seinfeldian Conversation in "Gone Fishing". Clark and Bruce start discussing Clark's flying ability, and he says it's like breathing, he mostly does it automatically and it goes weird when he starts consciously paying attention to how he's doing it.
  • Character Witness: In "Perfect Alibi", Bruce rescues a woman from being creeped on at a party; later on, when he needs an alibi, she immediately volunteers herself. She doesn't even know that what he was really doing was fighting crime as Batman, just that Bruce Wayne is a thoroughly decent human being who once helped her out of an unpleasant situation, and that's enough reason to return the favor.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: "Gone Fishing" begins with Bruce having a run-in with an unfriendly gas station attendant, who initially seems to be just a one-scene character to establish the tone of the story but ends up being quite significant to the plot.
  • Chick Magnet: Bruce, naturally, whether he wants to be or not. This causes problems for him because it also applies to supervillains (even when he is Batman) and in one case a baby duckling that he can't simply ditch because she could literally die of loneliness.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas In Kansas", where Clark invites Diana and Bruce to his mother's for Christmas.
  • Cleavage Window: Discussed. During a conversation about costume design in "Christmas in Kansas", Diana jokingly suggests that what Batman's (bullet-proof, heavily armored) suit is lacking is a bat-shaped cleavage window.
  • Clothing Damage: Nightwing has a tendency to end up with his outfit "strategically torn" after fights.
  • Collective Identity: In "Christmas in Kansas", Clark writes a report on a thinktank who have come to "the completely plausible, unassailable conclusion" that Batman is really five sewer mutants collaborating.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The author's notes on "Wayne Manor" specify that she sees Martha Wayne as played by Paget Brewster in the same mode as Sadie Doyle, and Alfred Pennyworth as late-'80s Cary Elwes.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: To Bruce's intense annoyance, in "Office Meeting", one of the scientists in charge of selecting a site for a research station believes a schlocky book proclaiming a shipping freighter was sunk by the Loch Ness Monster because it was carrying its eggs, leading him to put the site on a protected area and invoking Ivy's wrath.
  • Cool Old Lady: Martha Kent, former road-tripping hippy. If you can make friends with the notably nonsocial Bruce, you must be cool.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears:
    • In "Wayne Manor", when Bruce's parents start getting flirtatious:
      Bruce made another face of disgust, sticking out his tongue and scrunching up his nose. Half as a joke, Alfred put a hand in front of Bruce's eyes. He seemed to appreciate it.
    • In "No Whammies", Robin's response to a discussion of Ivy's sex pollen:
      Robin, frustrated, grabbed Batman's hands and pressed them against his ears. "There is an impressionable child present!"
      Ivy squinted. "Is he serious?"
      "I don't know." Batman attempted to reclaim his hands, and lifted Robin off the ground. Robin continued to hold Batman's hands like earmuffs, and kicked furiously at vines with both legs. "I think it's some kind of ironic meme thing."
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • It's not that Bruce Wayne carries a small camera with a powerful zoom lens around with him, or even that he has a story about birdwatching ready in case he's asked what he needs it for. It's that the camera is loaded with genuine birdwatching photos in case someone calls his bluff. He also wrapped Clark's christmas presents in lead foil to prevent Present Peeking. And finally, as revealed in "Let's Dance", he wears a smaller domino-style mask under his cowl that also has special glass eyes to obscure his features.
    • Though in a curious twist, whenever Bruce Wayne pulls off some vaguely Batman-ish feat, such as catching a basketball without looking or lassoing and subduing a flying lawnmower drone that has gone rogue, he seems to think that a suitable explanation for how he can do this is "I did go to college". (He may have picked it up from Alfred, who in "Wayne Manor" uses "I took a lot of extracurriculars unrelated to my chosen vocation" as an excuse for an un-butler-like skill.)
    • The Kents had assumed that sooner or later somebody would come along asking about their alien baby, and took steps to ensure Clark's safety. This included keeping cyanide in the kitchen cupboard right next to the sugar for anyone who showed up to have a "friendly" chat about Clark's potential and was dumb enough to drink the coffee. Martha was also in the habit of squirreling away the weapons of various time-traveling assassins "just in case", though these had a habit of vanishing right along with the bodies of the time-travelers and any memory thereof.
  • Dating Catwoman: Batman and Catwoman.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Clark Kent, under cover of being such an obvious goody-two-shoes that most people write it off as him not having realized how what he just said would sound. Lois is the one person in his regular social circle who's certain he's doing it deliberately, and it drives her up a wall. Bruce also catches on very quickly once they meet.
  • Death Is Cheap: Corinne, in "Karen from HR", has died so many times and gotten better that her concerns lie more in the minutiae surrounding death than the actual "dying" part; she's mortified when she realizes that she was shot dead in front of Bruce Wayne, a man who is defined by his parents being shot dead in front of him, and not only is that the worst possible way she's reminded a man of his mother, but he'd also given her his jacket and now it's got blood all over it and so has her nice outfit and both are now in police custody as evidence. As she explains to Batman, either she comes back and has to deal with the fallout of being killed- especially if there were witnesses- or she doesn't and it's not her problem ever again. She gets out of a mugging by headbutting the criminal's gun and blowing her own brains out, and even briefly considers jumping over the balcony of a skyscraper just to get out of an awkward company party, before deciding not to on the basis of not wanting to die slowly because she landed wrong.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Bruce is a lowkey example, gently but firmly deflecting anyone who asks if he's okay. He never shouts at anyone, because getting worked up about it would be a sign that he wasn't okay, and he is okay. Of course he's okay. He's a rich white single male, what reason could he possibly have for not being okay? Everything is fine.
  • Dork Knight: Thomas Wayne.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Arm Candy" is obviously about the young women who hang off Bruce Wayne's arms at parties, and has a less obvious meaning that doesn't become apparent until the last chapter.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • "Third Wheel", the story of Superman and Batman's first team-up, is told from the viewpoint of Lois Lane, who at this point is ignorant of both their secret identities, and as a result there's a lot of subtext that she misses but which is apparent to the reader.
    • "Karen from HR" sees Bruce Wayne bringing home leftover empanadas in a reused Superman ice cream container. Narration mentions that only he recognizes the punchline.
  • Dumb Is Good: Discussed in "Wayne Manor". Martha describes Thomas as "straightforward", given to doing the Right Thing without stopping to worry about whether it might have unfortunate consequences. She admires him for it, and does not consider it a slight on his intelligence, but also considers it a good thing that he has more "complicated" people like herself watching his back.
  • Early Personality Signs: Bruce Wayne was never going to be an ordinary child, even setting aside the whole "billionaire" thing.
    • Snippets from "Wayne Manor" and other various stories from his young childhood show him displaying very focused interest in whatever his latest project was, making deductions and putting together clues to notice things that aren't immediately obvious, and when Thomas attempts to teach Bruce how to write in cursive, he accidentally teaches him how to forge signatures. At one point Bruce circumvents the many obstacles that Mr. and Mrs. Wayne put in place to have some alone time (with Alfred) by climbing along the side of the building and through their window.
    • From "Gotham High" onward a teenage Bruce- who has not yet solidified his Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy- is shown dealing with bullies and other swaggering creeps with his fists, allowing others to shelter themselves in the influence he exudes on the Popularity Food Chain, having a ridiculous amount of activities to occupy his time, climbs a mobile home to fix the roofing because he wanted to help the mother of a friend he was waiting on, and more darkly going into mugger territory with an expensive watch on so that he could "defend himself", again with his fists.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Batman at one point gets caught up in what amounts to a relationship argument between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy because, for all of Joker's lingering influence, Harley vehemently disapproves of Ivy's willingness to kill all humans for Earth's benefit.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Corinne from "Karen from HR" is thoroughly disappointed to discover that Batman is "just some guy" in a "gimp fursuit" as opposed to the supernatural horror that everyone thinks he is.
  • Extreme Doormat: Corinne suffers from terrible self-esteem issues, to the point that people at work mistaken started calling her "Karen from HR", and the name stuck, and Corinne just went along with it because she didn't want to kick up a fuss.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Martha Wayne's mother has "those same green eyes" as Martha; the resemblance is as much in the piercing expression as in the color.
  • Family Theme Naming: In-universe, Dick names a litter of puppies Harley, Selina, and Kay (short for "Kryptonite"), and then has to come up with alternate explanations for the names suitable for sharing with people who don't know his secret identity.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Diana's anecdote in "Christmas in Kansas".
    Diana: When I was young, I had a bird — some kind of parrot, I think. I doted on it at first, but as other things caught my interest I paid it less attention. Which is why I think it was revenge that it began repeating all the words I didn't want my mother to know I'd been saying. You might be interested to know that 'I'm not mad, just disappointed' is a phrase that exists on Themyscira as well.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: Played with in "Empty Graves". After a time traveler attempts to assassinate two-year-old Clark, Martha goes to check on him in the middle of the night, and he wakes up. Remembering what it means when he goes to his parents' bedside in the middle of the night, he asks her if she's had a nightmare and if she'd like to sleep in his bed.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: A half-joking use in "Arm Candy":
    "Coretta Lee, you are being very melodramatic today."
    "Oooooh," Anita said with a wince. "You got full-named."
  • Futureshadowing: Several times in "Arm Candy", which is told in Anachronic Order. Most dramatically, the chronologically-final scene (which appears early in the story) has a character remark on another's new tattoo, which memorializes something that happened years earlier (in the last scene of the story).
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Tim has his moments, such as turning an ordinary lawnmower into a remote controlled, flying lawnmower drone (though the "remote controlled" part still needs work and the "flying" part was an accident), and in "Anti-Social" it's hinted that he stumbled onto the Bat-Cave's signal with just a smartphone in the course of trying to find "the Good Wifi". Bruce even laments in "Gone Fishing" that despite the burner phones he gives Tim being locked, he can somehow still manage to install Snapchat on them (which becomes a problem because he takes his phone on missions and forgets to turn location off).
  • Gender-Blender Name: In "Arm Candy", Dick insists on calling the dog they've rescued Steve. When Bruce points out that the dog is female, Dick amends it to "Stevette — Steve for short". And Steve she remains.
  • Ghostly Chill: The ghostly ballerinas in "Let's Dance". After Batman helps them pass on, he's practically shivering from spending so much time in contact with them.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Wayne Manor", young Bruce's father offers to take him on a special excursion, as long as he keeps it a secret. Bruce confidently announces that he's the best at keeping secrets. Immediate cut to him telling his mother all about it afterward.
  • Good Behavior Points: As a child, Bruce and his father had a system where his father would award him gold stars for good behavior. In keeping with the general extra-ness of the Wayne Family, they weren't just stickers but little tokens made of actual gold, and Bruce kept them in a treasure chest buried in the manor grounds.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Discussed during a Seinfeldian Conversation in "Gone Fishing". Clark says he isn't usually conscious of how his flying ability operates, and describes it with the words "I just don't fall", and Bruce responds by accusing of being a cartoon character who doesn't fall until he learns about gravity.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Apparently Selina uses Bruce's sweatshirt so much he offered to buy her one. (She said no.)
  • Hippie Parents: Jonathan and Martha Kent are a downplayed example, having gotten their hippie days mostly behind them by the time Clark showed up.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: In "Christmas in Kansas", Martha Kent gives everyone tacky Christmas-themed sweaters she found on sale. Diana loves hers, which has a sloth in a santa hat; Bruce hates his, but grudgingly accepts it when she cheerfully guilt-trips him about how difficult it is to find a sweater that will fit a man his size.
  • Hometown Nickname: Lois calls Clark "Smallville".
  • The Internet Is for Cats: In "Making a Mountain", during Diana's first visit to Man's World in the 21st century, Batman introduces her to the internet to help her research the modern world and Superman immediately shows her how to view cat videos.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: In "Wayne Manor":
    [Thomas Wayne] tossed [the pig's head] up enough to catch it by the neck, holding it out to look at its face. "Alas, poor Yoroink."
    Despite himself, Alfred groaned.
    "That's how I know it's a good one," Thomas said.
  • Language Equals Thought: The speech of the Amazons in "Making A Mountain" makes no use of male pronouns; men are referred to as "it" rather than "he" or "him". No clarification is given for whether this is due to the absence of men, contempt for men, or both. Tellingly, when Diana discusses the approaching planet-eating monster with Superman in english, she briefly trips over the he/it conflation, but holds no animosity towards Superman, Batman, or a briefly seen Aquaman.
  • Late to the Punchline: In "AUX", Wonder Woman is bemused when Flash and Green Lantern make a double entendre about balls. Four pages and several changes of topic later, she suddenly announces, "Testicles! They were making a joke about testicles. I always forget about those."
  • Legacy Character: Discussed in "Making a Mountain", when Superman and Batman meet Wonder Woman for the first time. They initially assume that she must be a successor to the Wonder Woman who was active during World War II, until she explains that that was also her and she's older than she looks.
  • Love Floats: During Bruce and Diana's Big Damn Kiss in "Christmas in Kansas", Diana is so caught up in the moment that she levitates them both.
  • Mama Bear: In "Empty Graves", Martha Kent has a shotgun and will use it on anything that could be a threat to Clark, no matter if they are someone with a name so horrible they go back in time to murder babies or Brainiac.
    Martha had not always considered herself a shoot first, ask questions later sort of a person. But that was before she found a baby in a spaceship where her corn was supposed to be.
  • MRS Degree: Thomas and Martha met while they were both at college, and the general public assumes that she was only at college to meet someone: "Another girl who'd gone to the Ivy League to get an Ivy League husband." In this, as in many things, the general public underestimates her, which is exactly how she wants it.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • In "Gone Fishing", Clark has a chance to be himself, and so uses his powers in a pretty casual manner: When he catches a fish, he kills it with a flick of his wrist to minimize its suffering. After he and Bruce have caught their fill and Bruce takes a nap, Clark skirts the whole issue of landing the boat gently on shore by just picking the whole thing up and flying with it. He cooks up lunch over a campfire without using any utensils other than a skillet (which he holds barehanded,) because why bother with a spatula or an oven mitt if the heat can't hurt you? Bruce speculates to himself on how Clark even started the fire to begin with; did he use one of his various superpowers, or did he just use a match? With Clark it could go either way.
    • "Let's Dance" concludes with Zatanna warming Batman up with a spell.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Martha Wayne's comment to Alfred about leaving his genetic material all over the place.
    • Martha Wayne's comment, while planning an elaborately candlelit dinner party, that the fire marshal is convinced that it's only a matter of time before Wayne Manor burns down during one of her parties.
    • Martha Wayne's preferred source for flowers is Alec Holland.
    • One of eight-year-old Bruce's friends is Andrea Beaumont.
    • In contrast to her partial inspiration Sadie Doyle, Martha Wayne can't hold her liquor and prefers not to drink alcohol if she can avoid it.
    • In the Scrapbook Story "Bad Publicity", a photograph identified in-universe as "the mansion from that made-for-tv movie [about the Wayne family]" is Wikipedia's photo of the mansion that represented Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • In "Christmas in Kansas", there's a scene where Bruce reflects on the way re-enactments of his parents' murder have settled on a standard narrative that is actually inaccurate in several important respects; as described, it's the version established by Frank Miller and copied by most subsequent retellings, complete with the evocative detail of Martha's necklace breaking.
    • In "Arm Candy", Clark goes gooey over one of Dick's puppies, and Dick decides they should name the puppy Kryptonite — or maybe shorten it a bit...
    • In "Let's Dance", when it looks like Batman may have to remove his cowl:
      Flash: Do we finally get to learn his secret identity?
      Zatanna: That's assuming you recognize him.
      Black Canary: Yeah, if you took your mask off you'd just be some guy, I wouldn't know who you were.
    • In "Gone Fishing", Lex Luthor has started a new large-scale charitable project which Clark knows has to be a cover for something and suspects is also a genuine charitable project, a trick to lure Superman into "impulsively smashing something designed to look smashworthy" and then being made to look bad. "It wasn't the first time." Luthor successfully pulled off such a trick in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Clash".
  • Non-Indicative Name: In "Christmas in Kansas", Jonathan tells an anecdote about a guy who was called One-Eyed Danny even though he had both eyes. "Ought to have called him No-Legs Danny, but there's no accounting for nicknames."
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The chapters of "Wayne Manor" concerning Bruce's schooling include several instances of Thomas and Martha recalling past incidents, including The Thing With the Taxidermied Bird and That Time at the Wax Museum ("That was a good museum").
    • In "Let's Dance", Batman saves the day with his knowledge of ballet, and cuts his Justice League colleagues off when they start to make fun of him by listing the embarrassing things he knows about them: "Volleyball in Cabo, the library at Gotham Academy, the Eggplant Debacle, Joe's missing sweater, the Iguana Talk." Some of these are explained in other stories (the Iguana Talk is a callback to one of Martha Kent's embarrassing stories about Clark's childhood in "Christmas in Kansas", the Gotham Academy library incident occurs in "Gotham High"), while others remain noodly.
    • "Christmas In Kansas" sees Jonathan alluding to a man named One-Eyed Danny who died years ago "after that thing with the cats". The man's name is also an example, since Jonathan can't recall how a man with both eyes but no legs got the nickname "One-Eyed Danny".
    • Corinne considers getting shot in front of Bruce Wayne "the worst way she's ever reminded a man of his mother", implying there were others; less humorously, while explaining her powers as best she can to Batman, she gives some detailed descriptions of recovering after various forms of death, from drowning to poison to gunshot.
  • Not a Morning Person: Bruce, on account of all the late nights he pulls.
    Amy: You don't look dead. Just grumpy.
    Bruce: That's because no one should be taking selfies this early.
    Amy: It's 10:30.
    Bruce: Yes.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: In "Third Wheel", Bruce Wayne and Lois Lane go out on a date, but Lois gets distracted because a crooked politician she's currently investigating is having a dinner meeting in the same restaurant. The outlandish statement Bruce uses to test Lois's attention is that he thinks he's seen Superman on Grindr.
  • Not My Driver: Discussed in "Third Wheel". When Bruce Wayne picks Lois up for their interview/date, she comments on the fact that he's driving himself instead of being chauffeured, and he explains that because he's a big kidnap target he never lets himself get driven by anyone he doesn't know personally.
    Bruce: I take limos in Gotham, where I know the limo service, and I know the chauffeur. If I start visiting Metropolis more often, I might vet a driver. For now, it's easier to drive. Even if it looks like I'm overcompensating.
  • One-Steve Limit: In "Christmas in Kansas", everyone is careful to address Clark's mother as "Mrs. Kent" instead of "Martha"; the in-story reason is that nobody wants to ruin Bruce's holiday by repeatedly reminding him of his mother, but it also helps avoid confusion for the reader. Jonathan gets around it by calling her "Marty".
  • Patchwork Fic: Rather than being set in any particular version of the DC Universe, the stories are set in a continuity of their own, which draws elements from the comics as well as adaptations such as the DC Animated Universe, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Gotham, Suicide Squad (2016), and the Arrowverse.
  • Present Peeking: In "Christmas in Kansas":
    Clark: Did you put lead foil around these boxes?
    Bruce: The fact that you can tell means I was justified.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Diana's native language, that of the all-female island of Themiscyra, has no word for "he". In "Making a Mountain", when she speaks to another Themiscyran about one of the American heroes, the pronoun she uses is translated as "it". When she first meets Superman, and is speaking English for the first time in decades, she initially has a bit of trouble using English's pronouns appropriately.
  • Quieting the Unquiet Dead: "Let's Dance" features a ghostly ballet that performs on a loop, with fatal results for its captive audience, until someone steps in to fill the one missing role. As it happens, Batman knows his Swan Lake.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The various re-enactments of the night the Waynes were murdered all get several details wrong (Thomas was shot first, Martha screamed, both died instantly, etc.) and Bruce has never once bothered to correct them; Bad enough he sees it in his nightmares. In "Christmas In Kansas" we the readers get to see both the commonly-believed retelling of that night, and Bruce's own first-hand account.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Diana is centuries old, but everyone has trouble remembering it because she doesn't look her age, nor act it (her enthusiasm about discovering new things they didn't have on Themiscyra makes her seem a lot younger). The first indication that she's honest about her age in "Making A Mountain" is that she counts on her fingers like an ancient Sumerian i.e. base 60, the standard for both measuring time and directions.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In "Hostile Work Environment" Clark and Lois get caught snooping around in LexCorp's offices. Clark very subtly goads Lois into insinuating that they were sneaking into that office for "other reasons", much to Lois's chagrin. And the more she insists it's Not What It Looks Like, the more that's exactly what it looks like. The guard buys it and lets them off with little more than a warning, meanwhile Lois swears bloody vengeance on Clark.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: "Empty Graves" has a downplayed example where, once Martha has taken steps to prevent a Bad Future coming about, she no longer consciously remembers the old timeline (so that, for instance, she remembers having decided that Clark needs to take acting lessons even though she no longer recalls that she decided this after catching a glimpse of a future in which he never had a secret identity). However, some subconscious traces of memory linger, such that when something seems off she goes for the shotgun without really knowing why.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Third Wheel", Lois is venting to Clark about how she thinks her time is wasted on an assignment to write about Bruce Wayne's visit to Gotham:
    Lois: I'll shake his hand, I'll ask him some questions, I'll extrapolate into an article about how he's well-meaning but naive, or a shallow manwhore, or a spoiled prettyboy, or—
    [realizes Clark is very carefully not looking at something behind her]
    Lois: —a really nice, kind, forgiving person who's really very interesting—
    Bruce: I liked the other ones better.
  • Rubber-Band History: In "Empty Graves", the efforts of the various time travelers result in the familiar timeline in which Clark Kent grows up to be Superman.
  • Rule of Pool: "Arm Candy" opens with a party taking place around a pool. In the fourth paragraph, someone gets pushed into the pool fully-clothed after making an egocentric remark.
  • Running Gag: In "Christmas in Kansas", Clark's parents considering Diana one of the youngsters and her reminding them she's actually older than they are.
  • Safe Under Blankets: Discussed during a Seinfeldian Conversation in "Gone Fishing". Clark claims that it's because ghosts can't pass through bedlinen, as evidenced by all those ghosts you see trapped under bedsheets.
  • Scrapbook Story:
    • "Bad Publicity" is told entirely in tweets.
    • "Gotham's Favorite Son" is told in Tumblr posts.
    • "Anti-Social" is told in chat logs, Tumblr posts, and transcripts of Youtube and Snapchat videos.
    • "Nominal" is told in chat logs and screenshots of Bruce Wayne's computer.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Bruce Wayne is not averse to throwing his weight around to help his friends out. Bruce even discusses the trope (without naming it) in "Third Wheel", pointing out that his ability to buck social norms for the greater good doesn't work if he were to "give all his money away".
    One of the many advantages of being Bruce Wayne was a free pass to ignore all rules of polite society.
  • Setting Update: Not so much the stories set in the modern day, since superhero comics are always set in the present day, but the backstories, as a result of the series having a firm timeline instead of going by Comic-Book Time. It's a bit weird to read about Bruce's grandmother keeping her maiden name when she married, or his mother being qualified in DNA testing.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Making a Mountain" depicts the first meeting between Wonder Woman and Superman and Batman. Wonder Woman introduces herself as "Diana of Themyscira, Princess of the Amazons" and Batman responds by introducing Superman as "Kal-El of Krypton, Superman of Metropolis". Superman, not to be outdone, introduces Batman as "Batman of Gotham, the Batman of Gotham".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Wayne Manor" contains several shout-outs to The Princess Bride in the scenes where Alfred is teaching Bruce to fence.
    • Matches Malone, the identity Batman assumes to make contacts in the seedier part of Gotham, is basically Bruce doing an impression of Peter Falk as Columbo, in-universe as well. When he's explaining to Robin how that came about (the short version is that he had to invent a cover story on the spot, and that's what came to mind), he briefly slips into the story-telling mannerisms of the grandfather in The Princess Bride, who is also played by Peter Falk.
    • Catwoman stories have a tendency to include Indiana Jones shout-outs, what with the whip and the recurring topic of things that belong in museums.
    • Clark's chat handle is "MajorTom".
    • Dick's chat handle is "FineMess"; the scene that reveals this also has him making a shout-out to Abbott and Costello.
    • Corrinne's chat handle is "LivingDeadGrrl". Bruce isn't amused.
    • Tim's chat handle is "DreadPirateDrake", for another Princess Bride reference, and his chat icon is the Pirate's Nemesis from Hark! A Vagrant.
    • In "Anti-Social", Bruce inadvertantly acquires a rat after being dumped in a dumpster by Poison Ivy. He names it Templeton.
    • Harley's pet hyaenas are named Laverne & Shirley.
    • In "No Whammies", Nightwing has a tendency to Clothing Damage that is explicitly compared to James Kirk's.
    • "Stolen Moments" reveals that Bruce has names for all the stray cats that live in the woods behind Wayne Manor. Names like "Mistoffelees" and "Jennyanydots".
    • Bruce quotes from The Lord of the Rings when he thinks nobody is around to hear him.
    • In "Arm Candy", Dib, Alex's cat, is named after an Invader Zim character.
    • In "Nominal", Bruce mentions playing Neko Atsume and complains about Tim using the monitor setup in the Batcave to watch "cartoons about gay rocks".
    • In "Gone Fishing", Clark mentions that his parents experimented with keeping rabbits for food, and Bruce appeals to him to "tell me about the rabbits", which Clark recognizes is a reference to Of Mice and Men.
  • A Simple Plan: The plan — Tim gets Bruce to give him a lift to Walmart so he can buy a surprise gift for Alfred. The result — well, put it this way: the title is "Bruce Wayne Banned From Walmart".
  • So Happy Together: "Wayne Manor" shows that not only Thomas and Martha Wayne were completely devoted to each other, they were the most understanding and supportive parents little Bruce could have. No wonder their deaths left such an impact upon him.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Diana.
  • Spotting the Thread: How Martha Wayne knows that Alfred is not really a butler when they first meet; he ties his tie how an office worker would, rather than how a butler would.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: In "Wayne Manor", eight-year-old Bruce is already good enough at this to catch out Alfred despite the latter's background as a secret agent.
  • Stealth Insult: Clark Kent's style of writing articles involves carefully arranging objective facts in such a way as to imply unflattering things about people he doesn't like. In "Third Wheel" Bruce immediately catches Clark's insinuation that the reason both Batman and Scarecrow are in Metropolis at the same time as Bruce is that they both secretly want to have sex with him, and by the time of "Christmas In Kansas" he makes a point of reading Clark's articles about Batman just to find all the new ways Clark has come up with to insult him that nobody else would notice.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In "Arm Candy", Dick names a varicolored puppy "Harley" after Harley Quinn; when one of his muggle friends asks if he named it after the motorcycle, he agrees that that's exactly what he did.
  • The Swear Jar: Martha Kent knows a lot of words you wouldn't expect to hear from Clark Kent's ma. In "Christmas in Kansas", Jonathan recalls that when Clark was little he instituted a swear jar for her — only instead of putting money in, she had to take out a slip of paper and do whatever task was written on it. (Judging by the reminiscent look they both get at this point, the tasks weren't just things like "Do the washing up" or "Take the trash out".)
  • The Talk: "Christmas in Kansas" mentions the Talk Martha gave Clark when he was a teen. It was apparently horrifyingly thorough, both because Martha had personal reasons for wanting to cover the full range on human possibilities, and because she felt obliged in Clark's case to cover the inhuman possibilities as well. "All I know's the birds and the bees, for all I knew you were an iguana."
  • Tempting Fate: "Making a Mountain" begins with the Queen of Themiscyra giving Diana permission to visit the US and help defeat an alien monster that's about to land there, with them both knowing that it's at least partly an excuse for Diana to indulge her curiosity about the development of Man's World. One of the Queen's courtiers suggests that this might be setting a bad precedent, and the Queen replies that she doesn't see how it would, because really how often is "an alien monster is about to land in the US and try to destroy the planet" going to be a situation that comes up?
  • Timmy in a Well: Played with in "Stolen Moments"; Selina gets a cat to lead Alfred to something she wants him to see by stealing his pocket square and running off with it.
  • Tomboyish Name: Jonathan Kent's nickname for his wife is "Marty" (which, among other things, helps distinguish her from the other Martha).
  • Touch Telepathy: A power shared by both Amazons and Kryptonians. It is in fact the default manner of communicating on Krypton, which explains why the alien baby that looked human wasn't crying but was so keen to grab Martha Kent's head when they first meet. Apparently Kryptonian telepathy almost works on humans, but we're just incompatable enough that it causes Clark headaches whenever he tries it, which is usually when he's making out with Lois.
  • Translation Convention: In "Making a Mountain", all the dialogue is rendered in English, but dialogue in Themiscyran is marked with angle brackets instead of regular quotation marks, and another different set of angle brackets is used in the scene where Diana converses with Aquaman in Atlantean.
  • Trans Relationship Troubles: Part of the backstory in "Christmas in Kansas". Clark and his father have a conversation about Clark's reluctance to reveal his secret identity to Lois, in which Jonathan draws on his own mixed experiences in revealing a secret aspect of his identity to the women in his life (Martha accepted it, but the woman he was with before her didn't and it led directly to the end of their relationship). He doesn't explicitly say what his secret was, but it can be inferred from other details in the story that Jonathan is trans.
  • Trans Tribulations: When Tim Drake is introduced in "Anti-Social", two things the audience learns about him almost immediately are that he's trans and that his parents don't accept his gender identity. This is contrasted with Bruce, who is immediately supportive.
  • Uncanny Valley: Mentioned by name in "Christmas In Kansas"; Bruce's "photo-op smile" looks fine enough in newspapers, but less so in person due to a combination of unnaturally perfect teeth (since they're actually veneers due to constantly having to get his teeth fixed) and the fact that he's obviously putting on an act.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Diana and Bruce in "Christmas in Kansas". Bruce points out that carrying the mistletoe in your pocket and bringing it out at an appropriate moment is cheating, but he kisses her anyway.
  • The Unsmile: Bruce Wayne, funnily enough, has two; a generically pleasant, toothy grin that doesn't quite reach his eyes which he trots out for photographers and thoroughly unnerves everyone else, and a crooked half-smirk that looks like his mouth curling at the edges which is his real smile.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: "Christmas in Kansas" has an in-universe example: Clark's favorite soda as a child was a local brand called "Tuckers Straw'berry Cream". At the end of the fic, Bruce buys the rights and recipe and puts it back into production as a gift to Clark, but insists on correcting the punctuation. "That apostrophe was a menace to society."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One of Bruce's highschool social group lays into him at the end of "Gotham High" for going "criminal hunting" in her neighborhood, where everyone is too poor to afford the hospital if Bruce felt like dealing out Batman-level injuries.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The first time-traveler that tries to kill baby Clark in "Empty Graves" is named Jeremiah Jones III. Martha's first thought is "No wonder he was going around trying to kill kids, a name like that. What kind of family inflicted that name on three kids in a row?" She calls up Jeremiah Jones I and promises to hunt him down and kick his ass if he dares give his kid the same name — which, incredibly, manages to prevent the assassination.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: For Superman it's ghosts, since anything supernatural can get past his invulnerability. Being a farmboy, he reacts to the thought of chickens leaving ghosts behind with genuine horror.