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Superhero Protection Squad

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Danny had known superhero movies would be a terrible idea.

But he’d finally given in, like an idiot, because Grace had wanted to see Wonder Woman and Steve’s eyes had lit up like he’d wanted to watch superhero movies the whole time and just hadn’t felt like he could say anything. Brandon, wisely, didn’t seem to care one way or the other – he was still making them re-watch the new “The Jungle Book” at every opportunity, and had perfected his wolf howl – and had fallen asleep about halfway through the movie.

Which was good, because the ending to “Batman Vs. Superman” stunk.

“He’s going to pop up in the middle of the funeral, right?” Danny asked incredulously, hitting the pause button more forcefully than the electronics probably would have liked before turning to Steve. “Sit up in the coffin and scare everyone else silly?”

“He shouldn’t just sit up,” Grace corrected, sounding just as upset as Danny felt as she turned around to look at them. She’d decided recently that she was too old to sprawl across their laps anymore – Danny was trying valiantly not to be upset about this – so she sat in front of them leaning back against both their legs. “Lois or Bruce should be saying goodbye to him and his eyes should slowly open.”

“I think it’s just the funeral.” Steve looked faintly apologetic at the matching horrified expressions Danny and Grace shot him. “He’ll probably come back in a later movie, if that helps.”

“No, it doesn’t help,” Danny grumbled, annoyed at the way the movie had gotten to him. It wasn’t even a good movie, damn it – it was way the hell too long, for one thing, and the plot was kind of a mess. There was no way in hell it should be upsetting him this much.

But Superman was a big, square-jawed goofy nerd who didn’t understand his own strength and just wanted to be with the people he loved, and people kept trying to hurt him for it. Literally the only differences between him and Steve were the cape and the fact that Superman had a much better mother.

Oh, hell, they were going to focus on the mother crying, too. She and Lois would probably cry together, and make Danny’s treacherous brain start thinking about the hell of being someone Superman left behind. “Damn it, there’s probably a whole scene with them staring down mournfully into the grave, isn’t there?” He flopped back on the couch, careful not to disturb Brandon spread out across both their laps. “I can’t take this.”

Grace looked stricken, clearly having gone through the same Superman=Steve mental math that Danny had. “This is a terrible movie. I’m sorry I asked us to watch this, Danno.”

“It’s okay, Monkey,” Danny soothed. “You didn’t know.” He stood, carefully shifting Brandon into his arms without waking him up. “Want to help me put Tracker to bed while Uncle Steve stays down here and finishes watching the movie?”

Steve just looked back and forth between them in fond confusion, grabbed the remote and turned off the movie. “I’d rather be with you guys,” he said, standing up to follow them.

See? Superman.

As soon as they got back downstairs, however, it was clear Steve still didn’t really understand why his husband and daughter had reacted so strongly to the death. “They kill superheroes all the time, and they always come back. It’s not that big a deal.”

Grace looked at him like he was insane. “Of course it’s a big deal.”

“What I don’t understand is why you’re not more upset about this,” Danny added, pulling the disc out of the machine and dropping it back into the Redbox case. “You basically are Superman.”

Steve just blinked at that, looking somehow even more confused than before. “What?”

Danny and Grace just looked at each other, then back at Steve. “Do you want me to give you a list?” When Steve still looked blank, he sighed. “One, he tends to break a lot of things on his way to helping people, but he doesn’t mean to.”

“Two, people think he’s scary,” Grace added. “But he really isn’t. He just wants to hang out at home with Lois and his mom.”

“Three, he’s secretly a complete dork.” Danny took the list back over. “Four, he lives under the crushing weight of feeling like he’s responsible for basically saving everyone and everything. Five, the universe gives him nothing but trouble for doing it. Six, he’s really, really bad at asking for help, even though there—“

“Okay, okay.” Steve held up his hands to cut them off, looking surprisingly flustered. “I… you guys really feel that way?”

Grace rolled her eyes. “It’s pretty obvious, Uncle Steve.”

“Which is why you need to understand that we’re going to be very protective of Superman,” Danny added. “And you should be, too.”

Steve was clearly touched, but still looked like he wasn’t sure what to say. “I guess I was just worried about Batman being okay,” he said finally, sitting back down on the couch.

Grace immediately sat down next to him. “That’s okay,” she reassured him. “Batman was good, too. Neither of them should have died.”

Danny, on the other hand, had noticed several things Batman could have handled better. He could admit, though, that there was one obvious similarity. “You bonded over the brooding, didn’t you?” Danny sighed, folding his arms across his chest. “I can see that.”

Steve’s brow furrowed as he shook his head. “It’s not because I thought he was me.” He thought about it for another moment, then smiled a little. “He kind of reminded me of you, actually.”

Danny just stared at him. “We have a new record for the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“No, hear me out.” Steve leaned forward, expression intent. “One, Batman is almost entirely fueled by his protective instincts, especially toward kids or anyone helpless. Two, he keeps trying to make the world a better place, despite the fact that he’s a huge pessimist. Three, he’s almost constantly angry, but once again he uses that to help people. Four, he actually plans things out sometimes rather than just charging in the way Superman—”

Okay, now he understood why Steve had been so flustered. He waved his husband into silence, feeling his cheeks heat. “Fine, fine, I get it.” He felt himself melt at Steve’s soft look. “You goof.”

“He’s right, Danno,” Grace said, expression making it clear that she was giving the matter some serious thought. “Which means that, if Batman and Superman had just gone on a date rather than fighting each other, it would have solved the whole problem.” She grinned. “I like that ending much better.”

Steve’s own grin was widening, clearly 100 percent approving of the idea, but Danny felt he should take one last stab at rational thought. “What about Lois?”

Grace shrugged, clearly unconcerned. “Wonder Woman didn’t look like she was dating anyone.”

Danny couldn’t stop the chuckle that slipped out, and he dropped back onto the couch on Steve’s other side. “This is insane,” he said finally. “It’s completely wrong that I’ve been forced to bond emotionally to this movie, let alone the fact that I will now smile every damn time I think about Superman.”

“And you call me a nerd,” Steve murmured affectionately, leaning in for a quick kiss. “I still like Batman better.”

“Well, I like them both.” Grace announced, getting up to head into the kitchen for something. “Which means I’m the most right out of the three of us.”

Danny couldn’t stop his smile. “She’s got a point.”

Steve smiled back. “Yeah, she does.”