Title: Once He Pursued, part 1
Pairing: Bruce/Clark, Bruce/Selina, Clark/Lois, Bruce/Lois, Clark/Selina, Lois/Selina implied
Rating: Adult, NC-17ish
Length: 5838 words
Spoilers: future fic for Golden Age (1958, if that makes any sense)
Warnings: slash, het, angst, melodrama, issues
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs DC Comics.
A/N: Set 1958, Earth-2, after Bruce's retirement as Batman. He's currently Gotham's police commissioner. Clark and Lois are married. Bruce and Selina are married with a baby, Helena.
Summary: Bruce settles down. But life can prove unsettling.
Late afternoon light filtered through the gauze curtains, blinds half-drawn, as Bruce rolled over to the plain nightstand. Opening it, he fumbled for the half-empty pack of post-coital cigarettes, lit one and raised himself to the headboard. He drew up one knee, the blue bedspread pooling away so only the sheet remained.
Clark emerged from the bathroom, towel around his neck and nothing else. He raised an eyebrow as Bruce blew out a smoke ring but didn't say a word. After all, Lois smoked and he had no problem kissing her. And Selina had picked it up again after she weaned the baby.
Before, Bruce would never have considered it. His rigorous training wouldn't allow for it. But the only uniform he wore these days was a dark single-breasted suit and fedora; he could allow himself small indulgences.
He picked up his bourbon glass and swallowed, let the burn work its way down.
"There's some plums in the icebox, Clark," he said. "Go get them, would you?"
Bruce had a view of that glorious backside as Clark disappeared down the hall to the kitchen. Clark returned with a small bowl of plums. Bruce gave him a playful swat as Clark crawled over him to get to his side of the bed. Clark set the bowl between them.
Leaning on one elbow, Clark picked up a plum. "You still call it an icebox, Bruce?" he said, biting down. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "We had an icebox until '32 and I've only said refrigerator for years." He smiled, took another bite. "All right, I say fridge."
"We had an icebox," Bruce said, finishing his cigarette, fragile ring in the air, and putting it out in the green glass ashtray beside the lamp. He swallowed some more bourbon, picked up a plum. He bit down, dark and delicious and cold. He almost wished he'd picked up that bottle of sloe gin along with the plums when he pulled his car over to the market earlier on the way to the apartment.
"How could you possibly remember that?" Clark shifted, all long legs and muscle, stretched and settled, plum still in hand. "The well-off switched long before us regular folk did."
"You have to remember, I was born in '15, Clark. I've got a few years on you."
"Only three, old man."
Clearly, from Clark's expression, it was a joke, but Bruce had to fight that rush of resentment that curled in his chest as he looked at Clark languid and beautiful, liquid power, on the rumpled bed. Clark might be forty, but he looked every inch the proverbial twenty-nine. Time and Bruce's body had betrayed him, the small gray hairs on his temple. Distinguished, they said at the cocktail parties, still a handsome devil. Yet below the caterers and the laughter, lay a darkened and dismantled cave, mask and suit locked away.
And here he was, a leader of men, his municipal army, shackled with budgets and reviews, politics, and the crow, that ravager, on his shoulder. Clark would tire of him soon enough, no matter how dogged Bruce's pursuit might be. Once he pursued the violent and wicked, the morally weak, over rooftops, through alleyways. Now he merely chased a cape worn by someone else.
"It's painful," Selina had said one evening, after they'd put the baby to bed, as she poured two martinis, "To watch, Bruce. How you drag him off to every convenient corner when the four of us get together. Work off your infatuation someplace other than here. Make an arrangement, get it out of your system."
She'd been right. So laughable, really, how he'd surreptitiously stare at Clark from the veranda, his drink in hand. "Clark," he'd say, "could I have a word with you?" or "Clark, I need your help with something." And Clark would rise from the lawn, leaving the women, to enter the house only to find himself pushed onto a sofa or a bed, Bruce writhing against him. Clark, who could have ground Bruce to dust and bone if he wanted, always acquiesced, pressed kisses on him in return.
"He's only doing this to please you," Lois had said, packing up her hat boxes so that Bruce could drive her to the station. "God knows why." Clark had already flown off, a tsunami in Malaysia. Bruce had merely taken her rough against the wall in response to that.
"So that's your solution for everything?" she said, a wry smile on her face as she straightened her skirt afterward. "You're so predictable."
Lighting a cigarette, she then said, "You're not going to win this one, Bruce, so stop trying."
"He belongs to the world, not to you," she said. "Welcome to the backseat, soldier."
It's not like he'd known that he was, after all, a bit light in the loafers. All his introspection over the years had never turned that aspect of himself anywhere close to the surface. He'd never so much as looked at a man in lust until that one night when, with the four of them, he'd reached out to run his hand over that broad back as Clark neared orgasm. Clark turned slightly, startled, locking eyes with Bruce as they both came, their women around them. That first kiss so hesitant in the afterglow. Experimentation, Bruce told himself, to go with the rest of the sordid arrangement. But that didn't prevent him from reopening the safehouse, a post-war apartment on the outskirts of Gotham, lease still held under a psuedonym, and pressing the key into Clark's palm on the pretense of a handshake.
And Clark had shown up, always mid-week, schedule irregular, to find the larder stocked, bathroom full of sundries, and Bruce waiting in the bedroom.
"Are you a homosexual, Bruce?" Selina asked, waking, as he quietly came in one night.
He sat down on the edge of the bed. "I don't know," he said. "You arouse me. That's always been true."
"Are you in love with him?"
He closed his eyes, half-undressed, falling back on the pillow. He'd spent months poring over his volumes of criminal and deviant psychology to answer that very question. And frustrated, had resorted to pulling down poetry books in the shadowed library. He'd shocked himself to find more answers there. It was love. It had to be. Otherwise, how could he do this to Clark? How could he do this to himself?
"Yes," he said, rolling to face her. "I'm sorry."
"Have you told him?"
She laughed. "Good God, when did Tennessee Williams start writing our lives?"
And he replied, stricken with fondness, affection, "My little cat on a hot tin roof." He pulled the blankets down then, placed a kiss on her thigh as he rolled her nightgown up. Spreading her, he worked up to the fading stretch marks and back down, the taste of her delicious as it had always been. His wife, the mother of his child. He ground his increasing hardness against the bed as she bucked against his mouth.
Three days later, he found himself back at the apartment, waiting for Clark. He'd had the phone turned on months ago, only two people with the number, unlisted, Clark and Selina. He supposed Lois had the number as well. He put the plums from the grocer's bag into a bowl from the cabinet, placed them in the icebox. Taking the bottle of bourbon to the back, he poured himself a glass, took off his coat, placed it in the closet. He undid his tie and waited, only letting out a long breath when he heard the key turn in the lock.
"We should have them up for the weekend," Selina had said, placing Helena on the floor. The baby crawled over to the wastebasket, upended it. Clark had just left, a rare visit. They'd seen each other so rarely since The Batman's retirement. Oh, he'd come for the wedding, the christening, the large social engagements, but little else.
"They're really a lovely couple," she said, leaning down to take a crumpled piece of paper away from Helena's mouth. "Don't you think? We should have some married friends, Bruce. That's what married people do."
"We have more than enough friends," Bruce had said, sipping his highball.
"Real friends, Bruce. Not hangers-on or politicians. People we know, that know us."
And by the weight of her words, Bruce panicked slightly, slopped his drink. "Selina, what are you saying?"
Her lips turned, that dangerous smile of old, the one that had lured him in the first place. "I know who he is, Bruce. Anyone with a keen eye, who's seen the two of you together over the years, could figure it out."
The low growl that should have been packed away with everything else escaped his throat. "If you tell anyone, your hairdresser, your friends at the club, I swear to God, Selina..."
She snorted, looked at him, brave and nonplussed. "Please, give me some credit, why don't you?"
Shame cascaded down his spine, the fist by his side unclenching. "I'll invite them," he said, looking away.
She picked up the baby, wandered over to the French windows. "Good," she said. "Really, in the right light, he's so much more dashing than Gregory Peck. He cuts quite the figure in that gray flannel suit of his."
What kind of weekend, exactly, was she suggesting? "Darling," he said, bemused, "Are you trying to make me jealous?" Perhaps she was. Women were known to wander after they had children, feeling themselves less desirable. "You know how beautiful I think you are. Don't I tell you enough?"
She fiddled with the drapery, looked at him sidelong. Helena, on her hip, laughed in delight. "Lois is beautiful," she said. "The two of you dated once."
He slopped his drink again, set it down upon the desk. "That was a long time ago," he said. "A kiss, maybe two, that's all."
"Really, Bruce. This is me you're talking to."
He walked over to her, placed his hands on her shoulders, gazed into the garden. He sighed. "All right," he said, "I slept with her. But that was during the war. Long before you, before she and Clark..." But not before Lois and Superman, he had to admit to himself. "He doesn't know."
"I'm sure he does," she said, not turning.
"So what is this, my little cat, revenge? Let the past be the past."
"I was thinking of something a little more equitable than that."
His eyes widened, his hands suddenly slack on her shoulders. "Good lord, you're talking about a wife swap. We're...we're not bohemians!" True, he had a colorful past, full of fast cars and loose women. Not all of that had been gossip or the smokescreen for his real work in the shadows. But he'd married in good faith, set all that behind him.
A knee-trembler, they called it. He'd pushed Lois's gown up as they kissed in a lonely hallway, away from the dance floor, the sounds of Tommy Dorsey barely audible. She had a hothouse orchid in her hair. He'd unpinned her foundation garment, worked a breast loose. He'd sucked on the nipple as he pushed in, not even asking permission. Her eyes had widened in surprise.
"I can't possibly be your first," he said, as he thrust, so wet and no resistance.
"God, you're a bastard," she hissed, one leg rising to wrap around his thigh, driving him deeper.
"And you love it," he whispered in her ear. "Does Superman know you're such a minx?"
"He...he's overseas, " she whispered back. She flung her head back as he licked his thumb, found her clitoris. "You son of a bitch," she said, the soft whine of orgasm approaching. "You goddamned son of a bitch."
They'd done the deed a few times after that. Lois always with language that could make a soldier blush. But they'd never made it to an actual bed, and they certainly didn't sleep.
"Selina," he said, "They're fine upstanding people. They'd never go for it."
"Leave that to me," she said, turning, kissing him on the cheek. Helena squirmed and complained. "I'll phone her up, take the train down, do lunch."
"You're wasting your time," he muttered as she left the room with a flounce.
Bruce's hand trembled as he set up the projector. He was a bit drunk, attacked by nerves during dinner. Selina had insisted that he show the blue movies he'd taken from a local pornographer, handing only some of them as evidence to the police after he delivered him trussed up. He'd kept these as a souvenir, something to feed his own perversions.
"We really don't have to do this," he said, finishing off his cigar. "We could just turn in." He glanced over at a tuxedoed Clark on the sofa, Lois in red evening wear side-saddle on his lap. Clark smiled at him nervously.
"Clark's never seen one," Lois said, wine glass dangling from her hand. She ruffled his hair, kissed the top of his head. "Have you, honey?"
"No," he said, blushing. "I have to admit, I'm curious."
Selina placed the needle down on a jazz album over at the stereo cabinet and got the lights.
She sat beside him, hand stroking his thigh. She'd picked the reel. Two couples, a picnic in the woods. Innocent enough until the girls kissed each other over a shared apple and crooked their fingers at the gaping men.
"Young love," Selina whispered. "Isn't it beautiful?"
Bruce raised an eyebrow. The portrayal on the screen amateurish and hardly what he'd call passionate.
"No," she said. "Look."
He turned to find Lois still on Clark's lap on the sofa next to them, the two buried in a deep kiss. Clark's eyes only once or twice flickering to the screen. He had his hand underneath her rucked up dress. And from the movement, Bruce could tell he was fingering her. She broke off the kiss, eyes shut and concentrated, to ride that hand in earnest. Clark looked up at her, adoration and wonder on his face, as the orgasm washed over her. She dove down, hands on both sides of his face, and kissed him.
Bruce stared in frank amazement, unable to look away. Clark would never...but he had, and right in front of him.
Selina giggled. "And they've been married longer than us."
And that scene of domestic bliss which, really, Bruce had no right to witness, had him harder than the film flickering in the foreground. Selina glanced down, the corners of her mouth in a sly smile. "I feel like speaking a little French," she said, slithering down to her knees, opening up his trousers. As she swallowed him down, Bruce risked another glance over.
Lois leaned against Clark, her hand in his hair, leg dangling in contentment, and frankly watching. Clark, lips wet, just stared. He reached over for Lois's hand, which took the hint and freed a very sizeable erection, uncircumcised. She moved her hand, brushing the tip and back down, forming a fist.
Bruce put his hand in Selina's hair, shifted and groaned, but didn't glance down. He couldn't take his eyes off Lois's hand. But then he looked up again at Clark's face. For Clark to see him like this, in the depths of perversity, Bruce should be ashamed, not aroused. Clark and his blue eyes, watching him, no glasses to get in the way of that. In fact, he hadn't worn them all evening, almost Superman in his finery.
"I...I'm going to..." he whispered in warning, suddenly so close. Although Selina never blanched, pulled away, he always warned out of politeness. Judging from Clark's audible breaths, he was close as well.
But Selina, uncharacteristically, pulled away, stood up. Lois, releasing Clark, stood as well. As if planned, choreographed, they passed each other, sliding fingers along the way.
"Well, hello there, sailor," Lois said, standing in front of him. "Come here often?" She reached up to her neck, released the halter clasp, let her gown slide down to the floor. Unhooking her brassiere and girdle, she sank down onto him in only garter belt and stockings. "Old times," she said, moving, arms draping about his neck.
He could only rasp out a startled "But...", certain that Clark would lunge across, throttle the very life out of him. So he glanced over to see Selina divested as well, back draped across the arm of the sofa, and Clark's head between her legs. He sat up as she arched, and in the blink of an eye, Clark completely nude, spread her legs wider and...Jesus Christ. Clark was fucking, fucking his wife, back rippling in careful control. Selina had the gall to roll her head and wink at him before turning her attention back to Clark.
"Eyes to the front, handsome," Lois said, placing a hand firmly underneath his chin and forcibly turning his head. "Are you looking at my husband?"
Was she honestly accusing him of some sort of deviancy? More deviant than this? His mouth opened and he most likely resembled some gasping fish.
"Now that I have your full attention..." She leaned down, kissed him, and rode him for all he was worth.
Selina adjusted her hat, peered in the entryway mirror. "Lois and I are off to Palm Beach for the weekend. Girls only, no boys allowed."
"Were you at least going to leave a note?" Bruce said, arms crossed, leaning in the doorframe leading to the sitting room.
"I told you last week," she said. "You must not have been listening."
"You're not taking the baby," he said. If she did, she might not come back.
"No," she said, looking back, raising her leg and checking a heel. "But she'd be fine if I did. Believe me, Bruce, I've had her for longer periods."
"I do have to work."
She smiled, all teeth. "Among other things. How many times did I put her to bed last week with no help?"
He looked down. "Only once, the way you're thinking. The other times, I've been at the office." And he was telling the truth. Crime stats were up without a certain vigilante roaming the streets to keep them down. The streets were less safe than they'd been three years ago. He'd roared at his captains, pushed for vigilance among his officers, even glared at his desk sergeant. They'd become lazy, depending on help they no longer had. How did Gordon manage all of this with only one ulcer to show for it? He'd even grudgingly asked Clark to do a quick flyover once he'd left the apartment. "These are difficult times," he said, mouth set and grim, "And you go off for a Sapphic holiday."
"Bruce, you promised," she said, voice suddenly soft, understanding more than she should. "You can't. Not with the baby."
"Then take her!"
"You're in no shape to go out there and you know it."
"Christ, woman, I'm only forty-three!"
She strode over to him. "We made a pact," she said. "I paid my debt to society, now you pay yours to me."
Yes, two years she spent in prison. She'd turned herself in at his behest, proving herself in all justice and fairness. "Just one night, Selina. Only one night."
"You think this has been easy for me? Watching those fools parade through our house decked out in a king's ransom while the children and animals of this city go without? Do you, Bruce? I think, 'Just one necklace.' But I don't because I made a promise." She glared, green eyes boring through him.
"You have your charity work," he said, glaring back.
"And it takes a month to raise what I could do in one night. You're not the only one working with a handicap, mister."
He looked down. "I never thought it would be this difficult." He leaned in, kissed her cheek. "You'll be back by Monday?"
She cupped his chin, leaned up and kissed him on the lips. "Yes," she said. "It's not like that for us. We're friends, we have a good time, that's all there is to it."
She smiled. "Of course we will. But it's not the grand affair. You got the better end of the deal on that one. You always do."
He closed his eyes briefly. "I wouldn't say that."
She flung her arms around his neck. "No, of course you wouldn't. You wouldn't be you if you did." A horn blared. "The car's here," she said. She opened the door, turned. "It won't be so bad, Clark might drop by."
She picked up her valise, her makeup bag. "I called him."
"To babysit me, you mean?"
"Someone has to keep an eye on you." She closed the door behind her before he could retort.
They were in the guest room when Helena woke in the middle of the night, wanting her mother. By the time Bruce found his robe, Clark had whizzed by him. He walked into the nursery to find Clark holding Helena on the rocker, singing the mockingbird lullaby. Bruce watched, a shadow in the doorway.
Clark had a way with children. Helena soon quieted, fell back asleep. Clark kept rocking her, a gentle, quiet croon.
Of course, he and Lois couldn't have children, considering. But this tableau forced the question out of Bruce's throat, a whisper. "Why haven't the two of you adopted?"
Clark looked up, a wistful smile on his face. "She doesn't want to," he whispered back.
Bruce nodded. He had done it, well, guardianship at least, and it wasn't easy. It wasn't for everyone. Some women just wanted their own. But Clark couldn't provide that. The epitome of manhood and he couldn't produce children. Not on this planet. He watched as Clark rocked back and forth and something inside him just broke. He knelt quietly beside the rocker, brushed that insistent curl back from Clark's forehead. In a rough whisper, he said, "Would you like me to do it?" He'd fathered a few bastards over the years through his carelessness, had quietly provided for them in one lump sum so that the mothers wouldn't bother him again. But this child wouldn't be a bastard. It would be Clark's and born in marriage.
Clark turned away, rose, and placed Helena back in her crib. He patted her back soothingly as she settled. He kissed his fingertips and placed them on her cheek, tiptoed back into the hall. He left the door ajar.
Bruce stood in the darkened hallway, uncertain. Voice still a whisper, he said, "Clark, if I've offended you..."
Clark looked down, his own voice rough and quiet. "It's not that."
"We look alike," Bruce said. "Enough to be brothers." With the few in the Justice Society who knew Bruce maskless, it had been quite the joke. Dr. Mid-Nite had taken it seriously, pondering the exact nature of convergent evolution. "No one would ever know."
Clark turned, walked into the guest room. Bruce followed. "You don't get it, Bruce," Clark said, voice and face tight. "I already asked her. She said no." He sat on the bed, face in his hands. "She said no."
Bruce sat beside him, placed a hand on his shoulder, awkward. He wanted to kiss him, kiss it all away, but that might not be appropriate.
Clark contained himself enough to speak again. "When she first suggested this, I thought that's what she meant. That's why I agreed." He laughed, quiet and bitter. "I had an ulterior motive. God, Bruce, I'm sorry."
Sorry? What did Clark have to be sorry about? Lois was damn lucky she was down in Palm Beach and not down the hall. Otherwise, Bruce would get up right this minute and choke the life out of her. "I'll burn every damn diaphragm she has and then see what she says."
Clark looked up, shocked. "Bruce! You can't force her."
"I'm not talking about rape here, Clark. Just persuasion."
"Yes," Clark said. "Yes, you are. It's not what she wants. She'd just get rid of it and I wouldn't stop her."
Bruce stood. "She'd just...How the hell do you know that?"
Clark looked up at him baldly, with a hint of accusation. "Because she's already done it."
Bruce felt the wave of shock run through him. "For God's sake, Clark! Why didn't you say anything? We could have talked to her! Hell, if she wouldn't listen to me, she'd listen to Selina. What is wrong with you?"
"It was back in '42. But yes, it was yours."
Bruce rubbed a hand over his face, unable to speak for a moment. "Jesus, Clark. I didn't know. I swear to you, I didn't know."
"I know you didn't. But I did."
"How...how long have you known?"
"Since the benefit. I saw the two of you in the hall."
"You were in Africa! Laying down supply lines!"
"I came back. Obviously at the wrong time." Clark lay back on the bed, stared at the ceiling. "You just took her, Bruce. You didn't even love her. You took her because she was mine."
He wanted to say that it was more complicated than that. But the plain truth was that it wasn't. "Yes," he said, "I did."
"We were supposed to be friends."
Bruce sat beside him, but didn't dare touch. "We were. We are."
"Then why, Bruce? Why?"
"Because you were too damn perfect, and she was there. Is that what you want to hear?"
"No." Clark rolled to the side, to the foot of the bed, curled into himself. "Go away."
Clark would never hit him, not in anger, and that was the only cure for this. Bruce stood, walked to the door. "All right," he said, "I'll sleep in the nursery." He closed the door behind him, leaving Clark a miserable ball on the bed.
Clark knew. Apparently, he'd always known. And Bruce had hurt him in the worst possible way. There was no way in hell now that Clark would ever love him or that he ever did. It was all, what, revenge? To make him look like an old lovesick fool?
Christ, he needed a drink. But he couldn't depend on Clark to get the baby again if she woke, not in his state. Bruce strode down the hall, grabbed a pillow and blanket off the master bed and placed them on the floor of the nursery. Once he guarded a whole city, now he only lay between a lonely baby and a broken man. He looked at the ceiling, the twist of the mobile in the nightlight across it, for a good long while.
He woke, some hours later, to find Clark standing by the crib holding a sobbing Helena, soothing her. "Bruce, didn't you hear her?" he hissed.
Bruce stood. "Just give her to me." He took her, wriggling, and sat in the rocker. He didn't have Clark's touch, but this was his child and he managed to get her back to sleep. He sat back in the rocker, exhausted, rubbing her back against his shoulder. Clark, still by the crib, watched.
When he finally placed her back down, Clark put a hand on his shoulder, whispered, "Bruce, come back to bed."
Silent, he followed Clark across the hall. And when they settled, Bruce noticed that they had the same sides of the bed that they did in the apartment. The bed, a double just like that one, a bit cramped with the two of them. Clark shifted, got the light. He turned, kissed Bruce soft on the lips, ran a hand through his hair. "I'm not perfect. None of us are," he said. "I'm sorry."
And suddenly, Bruce was on him, wakeful and feverish, kissing deep. "Don't you ever say that again," he said, hoarse and urgent. "You have nothing to be sorry about." He worked a hand between them, coaxing an erection from Clark, worked his way down, planting kisses along the way, took him in his mouth. So large, but he'd become adept at it, an excellent French speaker. He took himself in hand, made a mess on the bed as Clark came in his mouth.
Such a small thing to give. Too small.
"I had lunch with Evans from the Gazette today," Bruce said to Selina one night over dinner. Helena chewed a teething ring on the highchair next to them.
She glanced up from her soup. "Really? What for?"
"It seems he's stepping down as editor this year. Can you imagine?"
She put her spoon down with a clank, tapped her foot once, twice beneath the table. "And I suppose you just happened to have a suggestion for his replacement?"
Bruce continued eating, eyed her. "He'd be perfect for the job."
Helena threw the ring on the floor, laughed. "Just say it, Bruce. You mean both jobs."
"Metropolis already has the Lantern. What the hell does it need Superman for? Dick's still in New York. Gotham has no one."
"It still has you."
"Not in the way that counts."
"This isn't his city and you know it."
"It can be. He can commute back if he has to. It shouldn't be too difficult for him."
Alfred came in with the game hens then. He served them with only a few polite words. He'd always been the picture of discretion, never offering an opinion on this whole sordid mess he'd been forced to witness. Bruce was sure he had them.
Selina politely thanked him before he retreated into the kitchen, the safety of his tea. She cut up bits of her bird, placed them on the tray of the highchair. Helena gurgled and mouthed her bits happily.
"And where would he live exactly?" she said.
"Here, of course."
She let out a small, disbelieving laugh. "Bruce, you plan to move your mistress into our house? You're insane!"
A small kernel of anger blossomed inside him. He flung his napkin on the table, pushed his chair back. "Don't you ever talk about him that way." His voice a quiet, deadly thing.
"What kind of pedestal do you have him on?" she said. "He snores and stinks up the bathroom just like the rest of us."
"Don't be crude." He rose, paced over to the fireplace, drummed his fingers on the mantle. "Gotham needs a protector."
She reached over, placed her hands over Helena's ears. "How convenient that you happen to be fucking your candidate. Did you plan on luring him with sex? You think you're that good?"
His fingers stilled, gripped the mantle. "I'm better than her," he gritted out. "She doesn't even go down on him."
She gasped. "Now who's crude?" She covered up Helena's ears again. "Not everyone loves it like you do, you jealous faggot."
He merely shook his head, laughed. "Maybe I am. But I'm hardly effeminate, neither is he." He wandered over to the drink stand, poured himself a scotch, took a sip. "Besides, you like it well enough, and I married you."
She unclasped the tray, picked up the baby, stood. "I don't need to listen to this. Do you even like women, Bruce?"
"I do. I just don't like her."
She walked over to him, Helena on her hip. "Why? Besides the obvious."
He took another sip, eyed her over the glass, whispered, "I have my reasons."
"Well, I suggest you reason those away. He loves her. And if you somehow manage to strong-arm him into moving, he'll take her with him. He won't leave her, Bruce. Not for you, not for anyone."
He lowered his glass, voice suddenly tight and soft. He looked at her, pleading. "You don't understand, Selina. She's hurting him."
"Oh," she said. She placed Helena on the floor, watched her pull herself up by the arm of a chair. Her voice softened too. "And you're not? I think I know what this is about now. Come on, let's sit." She took his arm, led him over to the sofa. Helena crawled over to the coffee table, pulled herself up again, worked her way around.
"Some things just aren't meant to be, Bruce. Leave it alone."
He swirled his drink. "She's talked to you about this?"
"Yes, she has." She leaned over, caressed his arm. "She's thirty-eight years old, Bruce. It's a little late for her to start. I don't think he gets that."
"That's just an excuse. Plenty of women older than she is have babies."
"I know about the abortion, Bruce. You think that doesn't affect her chances now?"
He leaned back against the sofa, closed his eyes briefly. "I just found out about that," he said. "I would have done the right thing then if I'd known."
"How? By throwing a fistful of money at it like you did the others?"
He sighed. "You know entirely too much about me." No, he wouldn't have married her, wouldn't have given it any sort of consideration. It would have compromised the mission. Besides, he laughingly called her Mrs. Superman even then. "He would have though, given the chance."
"And what was she supposed to say? 'Hey, Superman, guess what? I two-timed you with your best friend and now I'm knocked up. Want to get hitched?'"
He polished off his scotch, not bothering to correct her that Lois hadn't known then that Bruce wore the mask, that Bruce and Clark were merely acquaintances and that only Batman had befriended Superman. "She could have asked Clark."
"With that milquetoast act he had to fool her? Not in a million years. She felt entirely on her own."
Playing with the empty glass, he looked over at her. "So you're saying she considered keeping it."
"You've seen what those places are like, Bruce. That's not an easy decision for anyone."
And indeed he had. Butcher shops, mostly. Filthy and preying on frightened women. He'd found the occasional good samaritan in his years as the Bat, but far fewer than the monsters. And she'd gone to one of those places, alone. Clark couldn't have known until afterward, that she'd made that decision.
She still had her hand on his arm. "Hate her now?" she said.
"No," he whispered. "I need another drink."
Selina patted him on the arm, took his glass, refilled it.
He downed it in two gulps. "He'll never forgive me," he said. "I don't understand why he..."
"Yes," she said, interrupting. She reached over to him, cupped his cheek, face full of affection. "What could anyone possibly see in you, you charming bastard?"
Helena let go of the coffee table, took an uncertain step, then two, and walked for the first time.