You’re a psychiatrist. One day, the entire Justice League walks in. –British_Tea_Company
He’s waiting for me outside the window as I crawl out onto the fire escape. Hovering in midair, his red cape flapping in the wind that runs between the skyscrapers of Metropolis. “Going somewhere, Doctor?” he asks.
“I just wanted a bit of fresh air,” I say. I’m lying. He knows it, I know it, but it makes me feel a bit better about myself.
Superman, the world’s brightest beacon of hope, floats closer to the fire escape. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to run away,” he says. There is no accusation in his tone.
“Can you blame me? Can you look at the people sitting in my waiting room and blame me for wanting no part of it?” I ask, pointing at the door leading from my office to the room where almost half a dozen gods in the flesh wait, perusing my decades-old magazines.
“Probably not,” says Superman, alighting on the fire escape beside me. He stands heads and shoulders above me, the very image of the heroic build. Muscles bigger than my head, yet he looks so streamlined. “But isn’t it your job to help people?”
“People,” I say, wagging a finger at him. “Regular people. None of you are regular.”
“Doctor, please,” the Man of Steel asks me, his blue eyes pleading. Those eyes that could cook me alive or see straight through me. “It’s come to the League’s attention that we have more than a few mental problems that leave us vulnerable to psychic attack.”
“Psychic psychiatry isn’t my area of expertise,” I say, reentering my office. I wouldn’t be able to escape with him in the way. “If you want someone more knowledgeable on the subject of psychic effects on the brain, I can recommend you to some colleagues, but I can’t help you.”
“I think you can, Doctor,” Superman says, examining the contents of the walls and the bookshelves. “You came highly recommended.”
“By who?” I ask. I truly doubted that any of my clients would be the sort who interact with the Justice League.
“One Clark Kent,” Superman answers, his expression unreadable. “A patient of yours. He thinks the world of you.”
“Oh?” I say. “I’m surprised you know him.”
“We’re fairly close,” he says, absentmindedly adjusting a picture frame. Looking at him in profile, he seems familiar, but I can’t quite place it… “Will you do it?”
“Mister, uh, Superman, as tempting as it is to pick the brains of the Justice League, I really don’t think I’m up to the task.”
“We’ll pay four times your hourly rate.”
My jaw hangs open, attempting to form a response. “Alright then,” I say dumbly. “Will you be first?”
“Oh, I’m just dropping by to make sure the others find the place,” Superman says, halfway out the window. “Besides, I already have an appointment for next Monday at three.”
He says it with a grin, and I imagine a pair of thick-rimmed glasses hanging on his face, picturing his shoulders slump and his manner turned mild…
“Oh my god,” I say, numb.
The physical god puts a finger to his lips for silence, still grinning. “Doctor-patient confidentiality,” he reminds me, and then he’s gone.
I sit there for a few minutes, turning this new information over in my head. All my conversations with Clark take on a new, terrifying depth as I consider who he truly is. A god disguised as a man, hiding behind a pair of spectacles. A man who came to me in disguise, hoping to find an ear to reveal his problems to and a mouth to voice the questions he could never ask himself.
Finally, I steel myself, and open the door. “Mister, uh, Batman,” I say to the colorfully dressed heroes in the waiting room. Noticeably, none of them were wearing black capes. “Is he…?”
“Probably already on the couch,” says the beautiful, dark-haired woman leafing through an old People magazine. “Act surprised. It’s the only way he has fun these days.”
I turn back to my office to look, and she’s right. A man dressed all in black, swaddled by a black cape and face concealed by a black cowl with two sharp, upward-pointing ears, is lying on my couch, fingers interlaced over his stomach. I do not have to fake surprise.
As I yelp, I think I see the man grin, just slightly.
I close the door and turn on the white noise machine, despite knowing that if the other League members wanted to hear the conversation, they would have no problems. “So, Mister Batman,” I say, sitting down in the armchair at one end of the couch. I decide to start simply, with the question that I ask all of my patients. “Tell me about your parents.”
To my immense surprise, the Dark Knight of Gotham bursts out crying.