Part 1/2 is here.
Title: On the Half Shell (2/2)
Rating: Adult, NC-17
Length: 6000 words
Spoilers: no real spoilers
Warnings: slash, angst, odd humor
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to DC Comics, CW/WB and Al & Miles.
Summary: Lois breaks it off with Clark. Bruce makes his move. It's pure disaster.
Over the next few days, which becomes a week and then more, Clark's phone, of course, does not ring. Not that he sits around waiting for it. Oh no, Clark has things to do. A job, two jobs really. He keeps busy, only checking for messages every few hours or so. When he thinks about it. Because he's busy. There's a flood in Mississippi, the Two Trees article, an old communications satellite that needs to be diverted from crashing into downtown Sydney, and of course, the weekly Planet meeting. Things.
'I'll call you' becomes his new mantra.
"I'll call you," he says to the men's room mirror at the office. "I'll call you," he says to the television during a commercial break and between mouthfuls of takeout Pad Thai. "I'll call you," he says to a colony of penguins in Antarctica. "I'll call you," he says to his silent phone on the nightstand, pillow over his head. "I'll call you."
He only realizes that maybe he's overdoing it when he's hauling Impendo to the Metropolis police station.
"Really?" Impendo says. "I've heard that about you. That you're all about the rehabilitation, keeping in touch. Maybe that's why the recidivism rate is 37% lower in Metropolis than it is in Gotham."
Superman pauses in mid-air. "Is it? I hadn't heard that."
Impendo nods his head and his sonic glasses fall so that Clark has to swoop slightly to catch them. "Thanks!" he says. "You have no idea how much those cost me."
"These are evidence," Clark says in his most stern Superman voice.
"Oh yeah, I know. But as I was saying, you have that little extra touch."
They land on the sidewalk. On the way up the stairs, Impendo says. "When I was ten, I wanted to be you. Had the cape and everything."
This is not the time to tell Clark that he's old. "How old are you now?" he says. They're almost at the door.
Just a kid. "What happened?" Clark's seen too many Superman wannabes turn supervillain. He's not sure what to do about that.
Impendo looks down. "I don't know. Life, I guess." He looks up. "But, man, if I were in Gotham, I wouldn't be just setting off a light and sound show in the park. You have to be serious to play there."
"So I've heard."
"But you're friends with Batman, right?"
"Not really. We just work together."
"Huh. Word on the street is that you two are tight. Anyway, you should tell him what I said about the recidivism. He could take a page from your playbook."
See, Bruce? This is what happens when you don't call people. They get mad. They commit crime. Not that Clark's going to do anything like that. But flying off after this and pounding a ton of boulders into gravel sounds good right about now. He's already done that though. A bunch of times. The gravel works here and in three surrounding states won't take any more of his deliveries. He hasn't tried Canada yet. But they have to be Canadian boulders turned gravel. He doesn't want to cause a tariff dispute.
Clark just shrugs. "Different city, different methods." Clark opens the door and they step inside.
The League meeting rolls around again and it's not like Clark can call in sick to that. If Superman doesn't show up, people start asking questions. He can be professional. He times it so that he shows up right when it starts. He sits in his chair, smiles, looks relaxed. He should after spending three hours at the Fortress meditating. He can do this.
Bruce sits across from him and stares the entire time. It's unnerving. Or it would be if he didn't notice the too-steady heartbeat. Bruce is cheating. Or just showing off control of his autonomic reflexes. Clark just nods, acknowledges him, and then turns to answer a question.
The meeting breaks up for the dreaded coffee break. Clark can't avoid the coffee pot in the lounge now. He always sets up shop there, socializes. He makes sure he has his best Superman smile on before he gets his coffee.
"How are you, Kal?" Diana says. "We haven't talked in a while."
Clark turns, gives her a fierce hug. He holds on for a minute, then two. "I've been a bad friend," he says. "I haven't really talked to anyone." She feels good, safe. He can't break her if he squeezes. He doesn't let go.
"You know I'm always here for you," she says.
A shadow passes over them and stays.
"Could the two of you do that somewhere else?" Bruce says. "Preferably somewhere private. You have ten minutes before the meeting starts up again. Get it out of your system."
Okay, that's it. "Excuse me," Clark says to Diana. Then he and Bruce are a whoosh of air through the corridors until Clark finds one empty enough.
"You're incredibly rude, you know that?" Clark says as he sets Bruce down. Bruce leans against the wall, catches a breath that Clark's speed hadn't allowed.
But instead of the scowl and the argument he's expecting, a slow smile crawls across Bruce's face. He reaches out his gauntlet and runs it up Clark's arm. "We have ten minutes," he says.
"What?" Clark can't think of anything more to say than that. Whatever reflex control Bruce displayed in the meeting is gone now. His heartbeat's up. Clark can hear the soft whir of pupils dilating with desire behind the mask.
"We had a good time, Clark," he says. "And right now, we have nine and a half minutes."
Clark just laughs. "Who's this we?" he says. "The only one that had a good time was you. You know what? You're rude and selfish. You honestly think I'd do that again?"
Bruce steps forward, ignoring the clear sign of boundary. Too close, much too close. "I said you were the best. I meant that."
Clark backs away, holds up his hands. "I don't have time for this," he says. "You got a blowjob from Superman. Good for you. Stick it in your trophy case. I really don't care. But don't expect another one to go with it." He turns, walks up the corridor.
From behind him, he hears bootsteps following. "Clark, I can explain...I was going to call you."
"Lose my number," Clark says, not bothering to so much as look over his shoulder as he's walking farther down the corridor.
He whirls around. Bruce is standing still, just three feet behind him. "You don't get to call me that, Batman. Not anymore."
He turns, walks back to the lounge. Bruce doesn't follow.
When the meeting opens again, Bruce's chair is empty. It stays that way.
If Clark had been busy before, he keeps extra busy now. He takes on extra assignments at the Planet, staying at his desk well after hours, pounds the pavement following leads, research. He doubles his charity work. He flies the globe, reacting to any emergency, even if some of the other heroes are already covering it. Anything to stay away from his apartment, sometimes even sleeping in the Fortress.
His voicemail, which had few messages if any, is now full to capacity. All of them hangups. Sure, some of them could be telemarketers, but the ones timestamped four in the morning look suspicious.
He changes his number, gets caller id. But the hangups continue, all from "caller unknown".
So on the odd night that he happens to be home, Clark picks up the phone when it rings. He takes a deep breath, fights the adrenaline surge, before he says, "Hello?"
"Mr. Kent," the voice says in slightly accented English. "This is Ed Charles. I can assure you this isn't a sales call so if I could take a moment of your time..."
Clark pulls the phone away, slumps down on the couch. None of the lights are on. He lets out a quiet laugh before putting the phone back to his ear.
"...our area representative can contact you, set up an appointment."
"Thank you, but whatever it is, I'm afraid I'm not interested."
"But let me tell you about the details of our exciting offer--"
Clark rubs his eyes, stares at the ceiling. "What time is it in Delhi?" he says.
Ed Charles pauses for a second. "Delhi, sir?"
"I have an ear for accents," Clark says in flawless Punjabi.
Mr. Charles gets quite excited. "How long have you been in America?" he says, also in Punjabi.
They talk for another ten minutes. By the end of the conversation, Clark has a standing dinner invitation if he ever happens to be in Delhi.
"Good luck with the new baby," Clark says. "I'm sorry you didn't get the sale."
"Oh, that's quite all right. Honestly, you've made my day. You're a good man."
When Clark hangs up the phone, he stares at the ceiling again. Good man. At least someone thinks he is. He unplugs the phone and goes to bed.
The world's in crisis again. It seems like the world's in crisis at least every other Tuesday. The League is in position on the dark side of the moon, ready to meet the X'har invasion fleet.
Superman nods to Batman beside him. "Let's get to work," he says.
They do. They've always worked well together, have a rhythm. They get the job done. Or, at least, Superman almost does. Halfway through the battle, a green laser strikes him full in the chest. The last thing he sees as he's floating away are silent explosions.
The next moment, he opens his eyes to see the light strips of the Watchtower corridor as he's being pushed on a gurney. He has something on his face. Oxygen mask. He struggles to sit up.
"Lie down!" Bruce's voice, next to him. The cadence of boots, running.
"The fleet..." he murmurs.
"Turned away. Now shut up!"
Everything goes blank again.
Through a fog sometime later, he hears voices, raised, arguing.
"I'll take him." Bruce.
"He needs to stay in the medical bay, Batman. He's in no condition--" J'onn.
"And he won't be in any condition unless he gets planetside. I'm the only one with the facilities. I'm taking him so all of you can just back the hell off!"
"Calm down. You're reacting emotionally--" Diana.
"Do you people listen? Get us ready for transport. Now."
"He's not yours to--"
"The hell he isn't."
"Hey, just let Bats do his thing. He'll take care of the big guy." Wally.
Clark drifts off before he can add his own voice to the argument.
When he wakes up, he's lying on a futon in the manor's solarium. He's naked and fully exposed to the mid-morning sun. He turns his head slightly. Bad idea. Just like a hangover, or so he's heard, with none of the fun to make it worth it. The room spins until he can focus. He has pins and needles scraping under his skin, healing. Bruce leans forward in a wicker chair, cushions a fern pattern, expression intense but otherwise unreadable.
"Did you get any sleep?" Clark says. His voice is fuzzy. Something crawled in his mouth and died.
"Sleep is for the weak," Bruce says.
"Says the man who drinks coffee by the bucket." Clark attempts a smile. That's a bad idea too.
"Do you want some?" There's a thermos and two cups on the reading table next to Bruce.
"Maybe later. Water would be good."
Bruce rises, slowly. He's clearly exhausted. He's dressed for work. His other job, the day one. He crouches by a small cooler, gets a water bottle. "Don't get up," he says as he walks over to Clark, unscrews the cap and hands him the bottle.
Clark drains the whole thing in about two seconds.
"No. I'm good for now. Thank you."
Bruce smiles, just the corners of his mouth, small and real. "Always with the please and thank you," he says. "It's a good thing one of us has manners." He sits on the edge of the futon. Clark rolls to face him and the nausea rolls with him. He pushes it away. They say nothing for several minutes.
They say nothing until Clark reaches out, touches Bruce's knee. Bruce tenses, but then relaxes. A sigh escapes him, as if fifty pounds lifts from his shoulders. "Clark," he says, voice rough. "And yes, Clark. You're under my roof, I can call you whatever I damn well please. Jesus, Clark, we almost lost you."
"They always aim for me first."
Bruce lets out a small sound, for him a laugh. "You and the Lanterns. It's good strategy."
"Hal and Kyle, are they--"
"The Lanterns take care of their own," he says. The intense expression he had earlier climbs through the exhaustion. "And I take care of my own."
Clark isn't sure what to say to that. He reaches out his other hand and pulls. Bruce is too tired to resist and soon he's lying next to Clark on the futon.
"I'll rumple my suit," he says, feeble protest.
"Nothing that Bruce Wayne's reputation can't handle, I'm sure." He smiles and this time it doesn't hurt.
Bruce just looks at him. "Where are you that you don't answer your phone at four in the morning, Clark?"
"Normal people don't answer the phone then," he says. "It's always some drunk with the wrong number. I'm usually out at that time anyway now."
"I don't drink," Bruce says, edging closer. "Usually. You changed your number."
"You found the new one. You could have left a message." Clark brushes back Bruce's hair. Bruce closes his eyes briefly.
"I don't talk to machines. So answer the question, where are you?"
"Out," Clark says. "Let's not do this now."
"Then when, goddammit?" He grabs Clark's shoulder, pulls until they're face to face. "The next time some alien warlord tries to kill you?"
"Shhh, not now." Clark rubs his thumb along Bruce's temple, a small circular motion. "Close your eyes."
Bruce's eyes close and stay that way. "You and your goddamned Kryptonian pheromones," he mumbles. "You've ruined it for me...didn't mean...need to explain...Clark, listen..." And his voice trails off, breath evening out into soft snores.
Soon there's a gentle knock at the door. "Master Bruce," Alfred says, "The limousine is waiting with the investors inside."
There's a robe at the foot of the futon. Clark grabs it and hastily ties the sash before he opens the door.
"Ah, Mister Kent," Alfred says, beaming. "So good to see you up and about."
Clark puts a finger to his lips, whispers, "He's sleeping."
Alfred peers around him. "He refused to do so earlier, sir. But I'm afraid the investors won't wait."
Clark shakes his head, steps out into the hall, closing the door behind them. "You know what's best for him, Alfred," he says. "Even if he doesn't. Can you send them on ahead? Tell them to wait an hour?"
Alfred nods. "Very well, sir." He walks down the hall. "Your usual room is prepared, as always, Mister Kent. You'll find a change of clothes in there. Meet me in the kitchen when it's convenient."
Clark finds not one change of clothes, as Alfred put it, but several, a whole closet full, and exactly his size. Along with several pairs of boots, shoes. Also his size. The adjoining bathroom is stocked with toiletries. He takes a quick shower, dresses. On the bureau rests the pair of glasses that he had abandoned here that horrible night.
He makes his way down to the kitchen.
"I sent them on ahead, sir, per your suggestion. They're willing to wait." Alfred is making sandwiches. "You must be famished after your ordeal, Mister Kent."
Clark's stomach growls as the smell of roast beef, fresh baked bread and garden greens hits him. "I am a bit hungry, Alfred. Thank you."
"I took the liberty of phoning your place of work. I spoke with Ms. Lane." Alfred places a full plate in front of Clark at the kitchen table. "She was quite understanding."
Lois still covers for him, stands between himself and Perry at his most irate. Even if she is seeing someone else at the moment. A woman like Lois, she doesn't stay single long. Clark, on the other hand, only has one awful night with Bruce to show for his new bachelorhood. And here he is again when he swore up and down that he never would be. The roast beef sticks in his throat. Clark takes a gulp of milk to help swallow it down. "Thank you," he manages.
Alfred just looks at him for a moment. "I should tell you that I haven't served oysters in this house for the past month."
Clark looks up, milk dribbling down his chin. He grabs his napkin, embarrassed, and wipes his mouth.
"Master Bruce, on the other hand, is convinced that you are partaking in oysters elsewhere."
"Excuse me?" Clark puts down his sandwich, stares at his plate.
Alfred leans back in his chair, lifts his cup and sets it back down again. "I told you that he's a man of great feeling. Unfortunately for him, those feelings extend to fear and petty jealousies. He believes that you find others more suitable and that your presence is in high demand."
Clark's mouth opens. He hopes he doesn't have bits of beef stuck between his teeth. "That's insane!" he says. "Then why—?"
"Master Bruce doesn't sleep well. This affects his rationality, as well as his personal life."
Shaking his head, Clark pushes his plate away, folds his arms on the table and sinks his head into them. He groans. "What I do or don't do isn't any of his business," Clark says. "Not after..."
"So I informed him, sir. He did not welcome my opinion."
Clark stands. "I...I need to go," he says. "Thank you for the food and the hospitality."
Alfred stands as well. "You're welcome to stay, Mister Kent. Or come by again. And that's not just my invitation, but his. If you'll forgive my crudeness in repeating his words verbatim, I believe he phrased it, 'He can come by any damn time he wants. He knows where the hell I live.'"
"I need to go," Clark says again.
"What shall I tell him, sir, when he wakes?"
"Tell him he knows where I live too. He can find me if he wants."
Alfred's face breaks out into a quick grin, but then that disappears behind his professional demeanor. "I will let him know you said that, sir. Safe journey, Mister Kent."
The next day, Clark's sitting at his desk, pencil in his mouth, working through lunch to make up the lost time from the day before. Most of the desks around him are empty, including Lois's. She's off to lunch with her new boyfriend. He looks up when he hears the front desk receptionist walk toward him.
He looks up and can't look down again. All he sees are two dozen long-stemmed roses in an elaborate vase on a pair of legs. They're aimed for his desk. But these can't be for him. Since these roses don't have a pair of eyes to go with them, it's possible they're misdirected.
The vase lands on his desk.
"Phew!" Lorraine says. "They're heavier than they look." She leans down, sniffs. "Mmm, somebody sure likes you."
Clark flushes. These, well, they're certainly not manly. He's been accused of being a girl in the past, but this is ridiculous. "I'm sure these are meant for one of the ladies," he says.
She's smoothing away the water spots on her blouse. "Nope. There's a card." She picks out a small white envelope hidden in the teeming bouquet. "Here."
Clark takes it and opens it.
'Will you stay in one damn place long enough to let me explain?' is all it says. Great. No mistaking who these are from. Fine, Bruce, just telegraph to the whole world our little problem.
"They're for me," he mutters, slinking slightly down in his chair. "Thank you," he adds quickly.
Lorraine leans down to sniff again. "Somebody did something bad," she says, smirking. "People only get these if they're on stage or if a certain someone has to apologize."
Clark slinks further down in his chair. If he slinks any further, he'll be on the floor. He's a serious shade of red now. "It's personal," he mumbles.
"It always is, hon. It always is." She walks away.
Lorraine's several desks away when Clark remembers something. "Wait!" he says. He jogs toward her, hand reaching for his wallet. All delivery tips come out of petty cash and that has to be reimbursed. "How much do I owe for the tip?"
She just looks at him and laughs. "You don't tip the owner," she says.
Owner? Clark blinks. Maybe the florist had been one short today and the shopkeeper had driven these down? "The florist?" he says.
"No, silly. The owner. He brought these by himself, wouldn't go further than my desk though when I told him you were in. Nice catch, by the way. But watch yourself. You're on the rebound. If he's messing up now..."
Clark just stands there, jaw dropping. He can't think of a convenient lie. "You can't tell anyone, Lorraine. Please," he whispers.
She just snorts. "This is Metropolis, young man. No one cares about that sort of thing." She winks. "But if anyone asks, I'll say they're from your mother."
"Thank you," he says. He goes back to his desk, stares at his roses. They're not red, thank goodness. They're sort of gray. Gray? What's that supposed to mean? These would look perfectly at home in a funeral parlor. Knowing Bruce, it has to mean something. He spends the rest of his lunch hour looking up the language of flowers on the internet.
Clark does a quick patrol after work and heads home. Metropolis is relatively quiet this evening. There's a two-alarm fire on the west side, but the fire department looks like they have that under control. He showers, fixes himself a quick dinner. He turns on the television, but turns it off after fifteen minutes because he's staring at the phone and not the set. It doesn't ring.
Five minutes later, there's a knock at the door. It's Bruce, with another bunch of gray roses. Clark fidgets, palms suddenly sweaty.
"You could have called," he says as he flings open the door. He's standing there barefoot in a t-shirt and sweatpants. Bruce, on the other hand, is dressed up. "Going somewhere?" he says. It comes out petulant, like he's twelve or something.
"Yes, Clark," Bruce says, deadpan. "I'm on my way to pick up my date for the opera. How do I look?"
Bruce steps inside, slams the door behind him. "Why should I call when you never answer your phone? I had to sit at the diner across the way for two hours. What self-respecting diner serves brown coffee? It's terrible."
Clark folds his arms. "I'm sorry for your ordeal," he says.
"Here." Bruce thrusts the bouquet at Clark, quite unceremoniously.
"And what's with the gray flowers anyway?" Clark says, taking the bouquet and poking Bruce in the chest with the rose tips. "Are they supposed to mean something?"
Bruce just tilts his head, shrugs. "Hell if I know. They're sterling silver roses. Women like them."
"I'm not a girl!"
"Stop acting like one."
Clark leans back against the wall. "Did you come all this way just to insult me?" He closes his eyes. "I don't want to fight, Bruce."
"I owe you an explanation. But I'll fuck it up if I say anything," he says. "Let me just show you."
Clark opens his eyes when he hears Bruce's knees hit the floor. He's still clutching his gray roses so he can't see, not without cheating, what Bruce is doing. He gasps when he feels Bruce's hands at his waistband. They pull down. "Not here!" he hisses.
"Then where?" Bruce's voice, waist level, says.
"I hear the bedroom's pretty standard. But that's just a rumor."
Bruce laughs, head against Clark's bare thigh. "Smartass."
In the bedroom, Clark undresses, throws his clothes in the hamper. "Now you," he says, as he turns the blanket down. He lies back on the bed, leans up on his elbows. He watches, but Bruce stands at the foot of the bed in suit and trench coat, hesitant and unsure. "Look," Clark says, "If you don't want to do this--"
Hands in his pockets, Bruce says, "I haven't undressed in front of anyone for years."
Clark sits all the way up. "Seriously? Then how do you--?"
Over the years, when Clark's accidentally stumbled upon Bruce, either as Bruce at some event or as Batman, in more than a few compromising positions, Bruce has always had the maximum amount of clothing on for whatever--and it's been a lot of whatevers-- he's been doing. But Bruce has changed in front of Clark plenty of times, completely unashamed. "It's nothing I haven't seen before," Clark says.
He's up on his knees now, crawls down the bed. He rises, puts his fingers underneath the collar of the trench coat, slides it past Bruce's shoulders. "I'll help."
Bruce closes his eyes as Clark works off his tie, slips the suit jacket to the floor. Clark mouths his neck, as he undoes the shirt buttons one by one. His mouth works his way up as his hands work their way down until Bruce grabs Clark's head with both hands and pulls him in. They kiss wet and slow, Clark doing the rest of the job by feel. He even manages the cufflinks. Bruce must have toed off his shoes and socks because when Clark undoes the belt, unzips, the suit pants fall all the way to the floor.
When Clark pulls back, Bruce says, "Don't look. They're not--"
"Sexy?" Clark says as his fingers trace the three indentations on Bruce's left shoulder, bullet scars. A few inches down from that a knife wound, long slash, an inch below that the stab. Stitch lines, whip lash, claws, even bite marks. They're everywhere, not a part of his body free of them. "But Bruce," he says, "This is your book. Let me read it."
Bruce's eyes widen, and the next second he pushes Clark down on the bed, grinding on top of him and tongue in his mouth.
They could do this, but the way Bruce's breath quickens, the jerk of his hips, tells Clark that he's not going to last. Clark manages to pull away enough to say, "Nuh uh. You owe me."
Bruce pauses, head bowed, and nods. He works his way down.
It's good. More than good because it's Bruce. Clark leans back up on his elbow to watch, leans a hand forward to run through Bruce's hair. Bruce's eyes are closed, concentrating.
And then Clark gets it. He bites his lip to keep from laughing. A good laugh, freeing, but Bruce will be pissed if he does so he moans instead, whimpers, encouraging.
Sure there's technique here, tons of it. But it's as if Bruce has studied a book, watched an instructional video. There's no real experience behind it. Bruce has never done this before. He scrapes a bit with his teeth, which for Clark is fine. Too shallow and then too fast. So Clark whispers, "That's it," when Bruce gets it right, silently adjusts when he doesn't.
And it's not like Bruce isn't into it. The way his thighs are splayed, his ass flexing, Bruce is grinding into the bed. He comes right before Clark does so he's distracted, chokes a little, when Clark hits the back of his mouth. He swallows.
Bruce pulls off, breathes heavily into Clark's thigh. "So now you know," he says.
Clark does laugh then, falling back to the pillow. "I deflowered you." He keeps on laughing.
Bruce rises, falls beside him with a grunt. "Jesus, Clark, shut up. Was it that bad?"
Clark turns, wraps an arm around him, the laugh gentling down, but still going. "No," he says. "It was perfect." Oh God, so Bruce to make such a mess over something so stupid. "It was you."
Bruce rolls into him then, kisses him. Whether to shut him up or reassure him, Clark doesn't care. Whatever his reason, it's sweet and lingering. They kiss for a while. But Clark eventually says, "Why, Bruce?"
Bruce rolls onto his back, runs his hands through his hair, sighs. "Which part?"
"Pick one. Start from there."
"I just went with what I knew, what worked."
"Some of us use Earth logic. Translate."
"God, you're a smartass. Why isn't that in your brochure?"
Clark leans in, kisses his shoulder. "It's one of the things you love about me," he says. Joke. But Bruce only gives him a worried sidelong look as if it's a serious statement, true, and a horrible secret.
"Yes, well," Bruce says. He coughs. "If we're going to do the pillow talk thing, could you at least get me a glass of water? You're a terrible host."
"Notice my lack of houseplants," Clark says on his way to the bathroom. He runs the tap. Bruce sits up as Clark hands him the glass. "Generally something has to make noise to get my attention."
"I thought she just took them."
"Well, that too," Clark says as he gets back into bed.
"I thought that was going to last forever. The two of you were always a package deal."
"You managed to sleep with her," Clark says, coaxing the glass from Bruce's hand, taking a sip and handing it back. "But we weren't really together yet so it's okay."
"She told you?"
"I figured it out."
Bruce leans back on the headboard. He finishes his water, puts it on the nightstand. "I felt like crap about that for years." He doesn't say anything else for a minute. "But then she leaves. She leaves you. I had a narrow window. Two weeks, two weeks at the most."
"Two weeks for what? You're not making any sense."
Bruce just looks at him as if he's a complete idiot. "Two weeks until you were with someone else."
Clark rolls over, away, looks out the slightly open window, curtains fluttering. "She left six weeks ago. I didn't...Oh. I guess I did." He rolls back. "I guess I am?"
"You are," Bruce says, drawing up his knees and looking over. "Is that what you want?"
Bruce rubs his chin, shakes his head. "I don't know. I'm thirty-five years old and have never had a serious relationship. What does that tell you?"
"That you're a late bloomer?"
Bruce throws back his head and laughs. "Clark, what am I going to do with you?"
Clark lets his body go languid, he lazily runs a finger up Bruce's arm. "I can think of several things."
Bruce's laugh dies instantly. "Who was it?" he says, quiet and deadly.
Bruce leans over. "Who was it, Clark? Before Lois, there was Lori. Before Lori, there was Lana. Just where did you acquire your particular skill set? Because if that night had gone like I had so painstakingly planned, we would have fumbled on that couch for a while and then you would have never left my house! But no, you had to give me the best blowjob I've ever had in my life. And believe me, I've had many to compare it to."
Clark rises to meet him. "You're the one who took off! You're the one who--"
"Well, I'm an asshole, Clark! What did you expect, throwing me like that?"
"You knew I wasn't a virgin. Don't give me that. Don't--"
"The last time I looked, Lois didn't have a dick you could suck on for practice."
Clark turns at that point, sits on the edge of the bed, head in his hands. "I can't believe you just said that."
But Bruce doesn't back down. "Who was it? Hal? I can possibly see that. If you tell me Wally, I'll--"
"I haven't done this since I was seventeen." Clark says quietly. "That's when it ended."
Bruce is quiet for a moment. He puts a hand on Clark's shoulder, a silent apology. And when he speaks again, his voice is soft. "Seventeen? As in high school? I'm sorry, Clark, I didn't think back that far." He pulls Clark back and down. Clark doesn't resist. Bruce wraps an arm around him, kisses his hair. "God, I'm an ass. How can you possibly put up with me?"
Clark doesn't want to fight. He's just tired. Hopefully, Bruce will stop asking questions. He won't like the answer and Clark's not going to lie if Bruce figures it out. "I don't know," he says. "I just do."
Drop it, Bruce. Just drop it. But Bruce wouldn't be Bruce if he did. He's going to keep going.
"You said it ended when you were seventeen. When did it start?"
"Freshman year," Clark says, his voice a distant thing. "It was a long time ago, Bruce. Can't you just--"
"Pete Ross? And somehow, the two of you have stayed friends."
Clark closes his eyes. "No, not Pete. He was older."
Bruce suddenly stiffens. He's figured it out. The detective always has to know, dig up the bones of the past. He pulls away, sits on his edge of the bed, hands braced to the side--braced so hard, the veins look like they're going to pop.
"Jesus Fucking H. Christ!!"
He stands, goes to the foot of the bed, picks up his clothes. Clark doesn't try to stop him. "Where are you going?" he says. It doesn't matter. Bruce is leaving.
But when Bruce looks up, his eyes aren't filled with disgust but pain. He's looking at Clark like he's some victim of child abuse, a child that Bruce failed to save.
"To kill Lex Luthor."
And Bruce looks every inch the warrior, battle-scarred and fierce, capable of the unthinkable. "That's not what we do, Bruce. Just come back to bed. Please. It doesn't matter."
Bruce is shaking. The words come out gritted, harsh. "He touched you, Clark. He touched you.
Clark sits up, that's all he can manage. "So what? I don't regret that part." And he doesn't. Sure, he'd been angry for a while, but he's come to peace with it. "It's just everything else."
"How can he do those things to you when he--"
Clark holds out his hand. "Come back to bed. Sleep on it."
Bruce's clothes fall back to the floor. He walks to the bed. "I never said I was going to stay."
Clark just looks at him, keeps the covers pulled back, inviting. "Aren't you?"
Bruce gets into the bed, silent. He faces Clark, brings his fingers to Clark's mouth and just touches. He takes them away and kisses him, a brush.
Clark smiles, pulls the blanket back up. He drifts off before Bruce does. If Bruce ever does. He dreams of spaceships and cornfields. He's on a bridge and it's Bruce who barrels toward him behind the wheel of a car this time. Instead of falling, he flies, taking Bruce with him into the sky. Bruce never drowns, he can't.
"It doesn't matter," Clark says while they're in the clouds. They burst free, the sun above them and they're just a shadow on the landscape, flitting over fields and then cities, oceans. They have the world. "What matters is what we do now."
When he wakes up, Bruce is still there in the morning.