And I'm rude! I owe comments and I'm sorry. I'll get on that. Right now.
Scribbling darkish dysfunctional Bruce/Clark. Send help.
"Perhaps Mister Kent would care to stay for dinner," Alfred suggested from the top of the stairs leading to the cave.
Dinner, at the Wayne household, could take place at two in the morning. After all, it had been an early night for Bruce.
"I'm sure Clark has more important things to do," Bruce replied, not looking up from the case file he'd been studying. "We've taken up too much of his time already."
Superman smiled. "No, I really don't," he said. "Thank you, Alfred. I'd love to."
"We haven't done this in a while," Clark said, now changed and sitting at the formal table in the dining room. He'd graciously refused the chair at the foot of the table, choosing instead to sit near Bruce who sat at the head.
"Really? I hadn't noticed." Bruce picked at his food, appearing indifferent and far away.
"You've been avoiding me recently." Clark plucked his napkin off his lap, pushed his plate away. "I think I know why that is."
Bruce only looked up, an eyebrow raised. "Why is that?"
Clark listened for a shift in heartbeat, but didn't hear one, the rhythm slow and steady. He took a chance anyway, leaned in. After all, Bruce would have five ways to stop him, physically, even here.
Bruce didn't stop him.
There may well have been several things more beautiful than the drop of sweat that curved down Bruce's neck as he moved above Clark in the unlit master bedroom. More beautiful than the mouth dipping down to kiss him, wet and slow.
But right now, Clark couldn't think of any of them.
It was perfect.
"Where do you think you're going?" Bruce said as Clark rose to sit on the edge of the bed. Clark turned, Bruce lay languid on the bed, eyes open and watching.
"Don't you want me to go?"
"Not particularly." Bruce reached up, ran his hand up Clark's arm, pulled, a suggestion.
"It's up to you," Bruce said as Clark lay back down beside him. "I tend to be a different person in the morning."
Clark smiled. "Considering that's only a few hours away, I'll take my chances."
Bruce, for want of better words, was not a morning person. In fact, Clark could say that daylight and Bruce were at war. A war that had casualties.
"Oh Jesus Christ, just five more minutes," he mumbled as the alarm went off. Clark reached over to hit the snooze button.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, Clark? Leave the goddamn thing on."
Clark blinked and took his hand away. Bruce rolled over, pillow on his face. "Five more minutes!"
Clark took that as a rhetorical exclamation and didn't go near the alarm again.
Bruce sat up, flinging the pillow, rubbed his hands over his face. "Coffee," he said. "Clark, get the door."
Clark blinked again.
Bruce huffed. "Just get your ass up, go to the door, open it, and get the coffee."
"Just do it." Bruce swung his legs over the edge of the bed, bowed his head. "Now would be as good a time as any, Clark."
Clark stood, opened the master door tentatively. By the frame, a silver tray with a carafe of coffee and two mugs. He picked it up, closed the door. Taking the tray to the bed, he poured two cups, handed one to Bruce.
Bruce grunted, inarticulate. Clark took that as grudging gratitude. "Good morning," he offered after Bruce had taken more than a few sips.
"Don't even start."
Bruce needed more than a few sips apparently. So Clark sipped his own coffee, waited until Bruce had finished his. "You warned me," he said, but not without a soft smile. "Different person."
Bruce looked up at that, one corner of his mouth going up. "Completely."
Reaching for the carafe himself this time, Bruce poured a second cup. "You know," he said, rising and heading for the master bath, "I've always wanted to fuck you in the shower."
This time, Clark didn't blink. He followed.
Bruce didn't call. Clark didn't expect him to. Bruce had always needed space.
They both had a shift at the Watchtower, a long night at the monitors. Batman was mostly silent. Clark, used to these silences, only sat beside him and watched the Earth shift beneath him. Calm, but not eerie.
At the end of the shift, Batman rose, headed for the corridor. "Coming?" he said over his shoulder.
Batman nipped at Clark's neck in his quarters, a low growl, as soon as the door whooshed shut.
He didn't remove his mask the entire time.
Afternoons, when they could arrange them, were the best. Bruce took his time then, allowed Clark to take his.
"You're beautiful," he whispered into the crook of Clark's elbow. "I want to learn each part of you."
Four o'clock in the morning, however, was the worst.
"Just...just make it hurt. Fuck you, Clark, make it hurt. Harder...come on, harder. Don't you take your hand off my neck unless I tell you. Don't...Fuck the safe word, I'll say it when I'm dead!"
Sometimes they didn't do much of anything at all.
"I can't feel like it all the time, Clark," Bruce said. "This can be nice." And he would go back to his book, Clark at his feet with his own, Bruce with an indulgent hand in his hair. "Isn't this nice?"
Clark would murmur in agreement, fall asleep by the fire.
"Are you still here? Go home before I start making you pay rent."
"Don't look surprised. Of course I have a key. I own your lease, remember? Maybe if you came by on a regular basis, I wouldn't have to resort to breaking and entering."
There were gifts, of course, but never any apologies.
"I don't need a new computer, Bruce."
"I modified it myself, Clark. Here, let me help set it up."
"Is this the part where you leave?" Bruce said, arms crossed and leaning against the door frame to the drawing room.
"I don't know, Bruce. Is it?"
"Three months is my record. I'd say it's about time."
"Are you trying to chase me off?"
Bruce stood away from the frame then, ran a hand through his hair. "No," he said. Something in his eyes shifted, softened. "Let's just go out to dinner. We can talk."
Talking, however, consisted of rounds of flirting, poetry whispered across the entrées. By the time coffee arrived, Clark's ears rang and his body sang with want. His hands trembled as Bruce got the check.
They barely made it back to the manor in time, even with Clark's excessive speed, abandoning Bruce's car in the parking lot.
In the dim light of the bedroom, a slow tumble and limbs.
If the first time had been perfect, this was perfection.
"Better?" Bruce whispered afterward, Clark a pool of sweat and aching nerves. Clark could only nod, incapable of speech.
"Good," he said, a soft smile and so rare. He pulled away. "I have to get ready for patrol. So should you. Meet me back here."
Bruce had nightmares. Not every night, but often enough. His eyes would open, hands scrabbling at the sheets, heart hammering.
"Shhh, I'm here."
Sometimes Bruce would fight him, lashing out, the blows crippling to anyone but Clark. But more often, he would cling until the shudders subsided.
"Go back to sleep," Clark would whisper. "Go back to sleep." A soft croon, a lullaby and caress.
And Bruce would.
"I hate Metropolis," Batman said, voice concrete and oil slick, cape stark against the relief of the Daily Planet globe. The sun had yet to dip anywhere near the horizon.
"Then why are you here?" Superman said.
"I have my reasons, Clark." One reason consisted of a gauntlet, pulling.
Superman was a complete mess by the time Batman readied his grappling hook, swung away.
"I think we should make our debut tonight," Bruce said, joining Clark in the jacuzzi. "But I'd have to dress you first. God, I'd love to dress you."
"I thought we agreed to no parties," Clark said.
Bruce straddled him, one hand in Clark's hair, the other on his glass. He took a sip, slid the glass down the side of his neck. "I know," he said. "Allow me my fantasies."
Clark woke one night to find Bruce glaring at him from the armchair. He had on a robe and nothing else. A sliver of moonlight squeezed between the closed drapery, stilettoed across the floor and bedspread.
"Well," Bruce said, voice a terrible whisper. "It seems I've found the perfect codependent. Lucky me."
"Bruce, it's three-thirty in the morning. Can't this--"
"Do you even have an aggressive bone in your body, Clark? A spine?"
Clark sighed, shifted. "You're not goading me into fucking you, Bruce." The bruises had hardly faded from the last time, one scar would be permanent, a burn mark along his shoulder blade.
Bruce leapt, snarled, a blow to the chest and glancing.
"If you'd been serious," Clark said, heat rising within and eyes dangerously close, "You would have brought the kryptonite."
"My mistake." But the curl of Bruce's mouth indicated that it was anything but.
Clark rolled, pinned Bruce beneath him. "Yes. Yes, it is. The only thing you can make me do is leave."
"Go ahead." Bruce spread his legs, angled his hips.
Clark sat on Ceres for a while. A long while.
Clark returned from a press conference to find Bruce sitting on the edge of his desk.
"I happened to be in town," he said. "Thought I'd take my favorite reporter out to lunch." He picked up a minature globe, let his fingers slide gracefully along it. He had a recent manicure.
"I don't think that's such a good idea," Clark said, angling past Bruce to sit at his desk.
But apparently Bruce had a weapon in his arsenal that he had yet to use, stronger than kryptonite. "Clark," he said, voice low and urgent, "Please."
Lunch turned out to be the afternoon at the Metropolis Seasons, room service. Bruce spilled a few drops of brandy from his snifter along Clark's chest, licked those drops away. "I'm glad you called in," he said. "We should go away, somewhere with a beach."
Clark stared at the ceiling. "Another one of your fantasies?" And just as impossible.
"I'll make arrangements."
Clark emerged from the surf, a white sand beach in the South Pacific, shook the water from his hair.
"You could give Arthur a run for his money," Bruce said from underneath the umbrella, mai tai in his hand.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Bruce leaned over to where Clark now lay on the blanket next to him. "Let me rephrase that." He kissed him, alcohol and fruit, hands roaming.
"Here?" Clark said as Bruce pulled away slightly, took a breath. The glass tipped and spilled into the sand.
"It's my beach."
"You shouldn't come by for a while," Bruce said one evening as Clark emerged from the shower.
Clark let the towel fall to the floor. "All right."
"Even if I call you, don't."
"Clark, where the hell are you?"
Clark pulled the phone away from his ear, stared at it. He turned the lamp on. "You said--"
"Forget what I said! Just get your ass over here."
"Which one of you should I listen to?" Clark said, now in the darkened doorway to Bruce's room.
Bruce, on the edge of the bed, put the phone down on the nightstand. His hand trembled and he closed his eyes briefly. "You finally get it," he said.
Arms crossed and not moving, Clark said, "Get what? Your moods?"
Bruce fell back on the bed, arm dropping across his eyes. "No." He didn't say anything else.
Clark looked at him for a while, neither of them speaking, until he moved forward, took off his jacket. A sigh. "Move over," he said.
Bruce rolled, curled into him. Clark ran a hand through Bruce's hair, carded it back, kissed his forehead. "What am I going to do with you?"
One hour later, the nightmares began. It was a long night.
Superman hovered over Gotham and watched Batman work, fluid grace and predator, rooftop and alley.
"Shouldn't you be in Whoville right now?" Batman said, glancing up.
Clark touched down, whisper silent and cape furl.
"I've got an ear open if the Grinch decides to steal Christmas."
"Get off my lawn, Clark." A bootstep, the crunch of sleet and purposeful.
"And if I don't?"
Batman on his knees, his own back against the brickface, wasn't the answer he expected.
The punch bowl developed heat cracks, the white table cloth seeping red and steam. But no one noticed as they rang in the New Year, several couples embraced and kissed. Bruce and Vicki being one of them.
This was why Clark didn't want to do any of Bruce's parties, watch the charade, how far Bruce would go with the act.
"We're straight tonight, Clark," Bruce had said, adjusting his tie in front of the mirror earlier. "But there might be a solution. It'll work out."
Bruce led Vicki by the hand over to where Clark stood, forlorn and streamers falling about his shoulders.
"Why the long face, Clark? That's no way to bring in the New Year," Bruce said.
Clark said nothing but "Hello, Vicki."
"Long time, no see, Clark," she said, small smile on her face. "Chicago, wasn't it?"
Chicago, a journalism seminar, and three days in her hotel room. Clark had few indiscretions in his past, but he had them.
"Yes, Chicago," he said.
"Well," Bruce said, the infuriating grin on his face broadening. "The two of you appear to be old friends." He wrapped his arm around Vicki's shoulders, leaned down with a whisper, "Darling, do you think you have time for two old friends?"
Vicki didn't punch him. She pursed her lips together, looked from one to the other. "I might," she said.
"A solution, Clark," Bruce said, beaming brighter.
A cab ride later, Vicki rode on top of Clark while Bruce knelt beside her, tongue in her ear and hand kneading a breast.
"Tell me how he feels," he said, jacking himself slowly, "His big cock inside you."
"Jesus, Bruce, if you want to know that bad..." Her voice broke off, thrusts more urgent.
"If I swung that way, believe me, he'd be the first person I'd call," he whispered.
Clark could only stare as Bruce silently invited him to lean up, offered the breast in his hand to Clark's mouth.
A tongue swirl later, Vicki bucked and came against him.
"There's my girl," Bruce said, holding her up. And when Clark came in response, he felt Bruce's fingertips splay between his thigh and Vicki's, the first he had touched him all night.
Bruce shuddered and came on both of them.
"We should have discussed this," Clark said, a hissed whisper, straightening his jacket. Vicki had disappeared into the bathroom. "If you miss women that much--"
Bruce, fully dressed, put a hand on his shoulder. "I don't fuck them anymore, Clark, if that's what you're thinking. Not since--"
"Shut up. I've about had it with your games. You think this is fun for me?"
"You've been with her before, so tonight--"
"You got off on it."
A small desperation on his face, Bruce whispered. "I want you in my life, Clark. Some nights are going to be like this."
"So who's next? Lois? Lana? I'm not going to let you play Russian Roulette with our relationship using my old date book. You know, why don't we just troll the bars instead? Oh, but we already did that. At least, Matches and I did. It's not like I have enough bar fights in my life." Clark grabbed the glass of water that Vicki had left for him off the nightstand, downed it.
Bruce grabbed his face with both hands, kissed him, soft but chaste. If Clark didn't know any better, he'd say it was fraternal.
Anger giving way to the eternal confusion, Clark could only say, "Bruce, please, I want to get it. I..."
Vicki emerged from the bathroom and they pulled apart.
"Watch yourself, big guy," she whispered in his ear as she hugged him goodbye in her bathrobe by the door. "If he falls off the straight and narrow, he's going to be a real pain in your ass."
"He already is," he whispered back.
"Bruce, I don't need a car." He held up the Lexus keys to the light as he whispered into the phone, the freshly opened courier's envelope on his office desk.
"I've already arranged for garage space--"
"I...I just can't," Clark said, head now in his hands. "I'm sending it back."
Clark avoided the Manor, and Gotham, for two weeks.
"You haven't changed the codes," Batman said, emerging from the shadows, what few there were, in the Fortress. Krypto gave a warning growl, too late, from his bed in the corner. "Haven't I taught you anything?"
"Are you here to talk?" Clark said, harsh, but signaling Krypto to back down. He sat up, the impossibly fluid cloth and silver pooling away from him on the bed. In Metropolis, he always slept in pajamas or sweats. Here, he slept nude. "Because I don't know what there is left to say."
"No," he said, gliding, the only word Clark could think to describe it, closer, the cape as soundless as the heavy boots. "Just to give you this."
His gauntlet brought a glass box from the darkness that lined his cape, inside it a blue rose, suspended.
"Much better, truer, than the botanical engineers in Tokyo have managed," Batman said. "You're right, a car from Bruce Wayne doesn't mean anything. At least, not what it should."
"And what does this mean?" Clark said, the ice from his voice falling away.
"The impossible made possible."
Clark couldn't suppress the laugh, gentle, as he reached for the case. He turned it over in his hands before saying, "And here I thought you were going to give me that line from Beauty and the Beast about how this matches my eyes."
"That might apply."
"Did you just call me a girl?"
"No, I think I just called you beautiful."
Clark couldn't be pulling the covers back, inviting, but somehow he was. "That would make you the beast," he said as Batman pulled the mask and cowl back, crawled onto the bed as Bruce.
"In more ways than one."
"Remind me again why we're doing this," Clark said, Bruce's bedroom in shambles around them, the two of them a heap on the floor. Feathers from the comforter still floated in the air.
"Because," Bruce said, voice now calm but still hoarse from his raised voice before, "We can't do anything else."
It was four in the morning again. "I'm not leaving," Clark said, his own voice hoarse. His body ached, fading bruises. Bruce had been prepared with more than words this time.
Bruce turned, winced as he rolled on his shoulder, but pushed that away. "Clark," he said, hand reaching out, a reverent, ghosting touch. "Clark..." And his voice broke, head now bowed on Clark's chest.
"Shh," Clark said. "We'll just sleep here."
And they did.
No one seemed to notice that things had changed in the past year. A few, obviously. Alfred, Tim, maybe even Dick. But no one else. Clark still went to work. Superman still saved the day more often than not. Bruce still had his parties and antics, his secret business acumen. Batman still relentlessly roamed the streets every night. Wayne Enterprises prospered. Superman and Batman still argued over the League meeting table, only to be an inseparable unit in crisis and battle.
"Our Theban bond," Bruce called it one afternoon. They were at Robinson Park on a knoll overlooking the small lake. Toy sailboats floated across it, cheered on by boys and fathers, only a gentle breeze.
"I think you mean Theban band, Bruce," Clark said, leaning back on an elbow.
"No, bond, Clark. A Theban band consisted of pairs of warriors who..."
"You can't say it, can you? Not even in historical context."
"You haven't said it either so don't make accusations of emotional cowardice."
Clark let his head fall back, closed his eyes and let the mythical sun of Gotham soak in. "I don't know what to call it," he finally said.
But one hour later, in the slanted light of the repaired bedroom, he came close.
One day, Clark died. One minute he grappled with a magical creature, chaos and the League around him. The next, a harsh light and he stepped into it.
Peaceful and water. Soft light and floating. But no shadows. No shadows until one pierced the water, screeching and searching, broken but prismatic with a light of its own.
Clark reached with nothing but want.
"It's done," a voice said, weary. Clark had hands and limits again, unopened eyes. And breath.
"I forgot," he said, voice small and flat noise, but now couldn't remember what he'd forgotten. Something in his hand tightened, a grip, interlacing.
Clark opened his eyes. He was in the Watchtower's medical bay. Around him, candles and people, dim light. J'onn, Dr. Fate, Jason Blood, Zatanna.
"Two days," the grip in his hand tightened more, leather and accusation, the voice gravel and fog and resonating strength. "What was the last thing I said to you?"
Clark turned, muscle and memory returning. Bruce sat beside him, cowl back and eyes fierce.
"Don't you dare, you son of a bitch?"
A smile threatened on that face, but exhaustion won. "I never said you could leave."
"How long, Kal?" Diana said.
"Almost a year," he said, hands around a cup of coffee. He only stared at it. The concept of drinking hadn't fully returned, but it felt warm and familiar. They were in the lounge. Bruce in his quarters, sleeping, tranquilized by force.
"You should have seen him," she said. "He...he wasn't sane."
Clark looked up. "I should have told you," he said. "We didn't tell anyone."
"He's always been obsessed with you. Even from the beginning." She sighed. "But he didn't give up, refused to believe..."
"I started it," Clark said. "Don't blame him."
"I'm not saying..."
"Yes. Yes, you are."
She just looked at him for a while. "Are you happy?"
He wanted to say yes, but happiness implied contentment, comfort. "I don't know," he finally said. "It's bigger than that."
"Bruce?" Clark said one night, Bruce's face in the pillow, half-asleep, arm draped across him.
"If I came after you, would you come back?"
Bruce shifted, but didn't open his eyes. "No, I'd just haunt you for the rest of your natural life," he mumbled.
Clark didn't laugh. "Where I was...Bruce, you weren't welcome there."
"Of course not, I was stealing. No one likes a thief."
"Bruce..." And his voice was urgent now, the hint of loss and devastation.
Turning and eyes now open, Bruce just looked at him. "Clark, you can't talk about forever. Not when you're the one who stomps out of here every other week. And if you had any sense in that alien head of yours, you--"
"Bruce, please..." His voice faded and his face tightened, so he just looked, soft touches.
Shifting closer, Bruce put a gentle hand over Clark's mouth. "Don't say it, Clark. You can't. I won't say it back."
Clark pulled Bruce's hand away. "Then why?"
Bruce didn't answer. He rolled over, back to Clark. "If you're that worried about it," he said after a minute, still facing away, "There isn't a door in this universe or any other that can keep me out."
Bruce landed face down on the hood of the batmobile with a thump, the unforgiving surface denting. He laughed, a bark and cruel. "You call yourself a man? I hardly felt that."
"God, you asshole, I could just..." Clark pressed against him, the dent broadening. He wasn't a man, he was a machine with buttons and Bruce knew every one of them and he just pushed and pushed until Clark pushed back.
Leather and kevlar scrabbled against the enamel, gloved fingers curled but didn't form fists. Clark heard the heartbeat leap and the sound flooded his ears. "Jesus, Clark, now, goddammit."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Clark snarled in his ear. "Maybe I should just leave you here, let you crawl up those stairs by yourself."
"Oh God, you son of a bitch, keep talking."
"You think you're worth it? Do you?" But Clark felt himself hardening, a Pavlovian response. His fingers reached forward and just pulled until he felt skin beneath him. Bruce writhed against him, inarticulate and moaning, angled as much as he could against the pressure and Clark was in.
"Jesus, Clark, yes..."
"Shut. Up. You're not talking, I am. You don't do anything unless I let you." Each word a thrust and emphasis. One hand wrapped around Bruce's neck, pinning him. Clark leaned forward, a terrible whisper and unrelenting. "You know, I'm beginning to like this. I shouldn't forgive you for that."
Bruce arched and pushed, fought, but silent. His mouth opened in quick gasps and close, a keening whine.
Clark released his grip slightly, breath against Bruce's ear. "What? What do you have to say to me?"
And it came out in a scream, forced breath, Bruce writhing against it, every muscle in his body taut underneath Clark.
"Lo...love you. Love you. Love you."
Clark stilled and came, a sudden heat and rush. The shock. For over a year, Bruce had laughed at the idea of these words that now fell repeatedly against the hood, Clark's hand.
"Love you. Love you. Love you."
Clark pulled away as gently as he could, Bruce still slumped against the hood and damage. "Oh God, Bruce, I'm sorry. I--"
Elbows rising, hands splayed, Bruce pulled himself up. "Say it, Clark."
"I'm sorry, so sorry, please..."
Bruce whirled, a grimace and determined. "No," he said, "Say it.
"I...I love you."
The right words apparently, true, stuck in his throat and bitten back for too long. Bruce leaned against the car, winced, but arms opening. "Come here," he said.
Clark went forward into the embrace.
"Don't ever say sorry," Bruce said into his neck, hand in his hair and soothing. "Not for this."
Something inside Clark just broke. "I don't know if I can do this anymore, Bruce. We can't..."
"Shh," Bruce said. "It's late. Let's just go to bed."
In the morning, Bruce shut off the alarm, rolled over and fucked Clark long and slow, never saying a word, Clark's face pressed into the pillow.
Afterward, cup of coffee in hand, still nude, he slipped back into bed. "We should get a plasma TV in here," he said.
Clark, still face down, mumbled, "I don't want..."
"I said we, Clark." He sipped his coffee. "Unless you're planning on leaving again."
Clark turned, bleary-eyed. "No," he said. It was too late for that and had been for some time. If he left, he'd just come back.
"Good, then consider yourself kept."