Title: All He Had To Do Was Turn
Pairing: Bruce/Clark, Clark/Lois
Rating: Adult, NC-17
Length: 4956 words
Spoilers: somewhen post Wedding Album
Warnings: slash, angst, schmangst, phone sex
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs DC Comics.
A/N: loose sequel to Say It Like You Mean It (Clark/Lois NC-17 [warning: pegging])
Summary: After Clark and Lois try something new, Bruce calls. Clark answers.
Two hours later, the phone rang. He caught it mid-ring. Lois rolled over with a muzzy "You get it."
"Hello?" he said.
Oh shit. Bruce. In less than a second, Clark found himself sitting bare-butt naked on the bath mat and the door locked, the phone pinned to his ear and his heart racing. "It's rather late to be calling, Bruce," he said.
He didn't know. He couldn't know. Clark put his head in his hand. This had to be an emergency. Any second now, Bruce would tell him to put on his suit, fly off somewhere, do his job.
"Where are you?" Clark said.
Okay. Then Clark heard the sound of a drink being poured. "Are you drinking?" Bruce didn't drink. Not really. That was just his party-show, part of the disguise.
"Yes," he said. "I don't normally indulge, but sometimes it helps me sleep." He paused. "Actually, I might be a bit drunk. Otherwise..."
"Otherwise, I wouldn't have called."
"And you called just to chat?"
Bruce laughed, a low sound, and brief. "We don't chat, Clark," he said.
"Whose fault is that?" Clark said, head still in his hand, trying to keep his voice to a whisper. And it wasn't Bruce's fault that Clark was a chatterbox and Bruce merely put up with it. He knew that. But at three in the morning, and with what he'd just done, he felt a tiny bit defensive.
"Mine," Bruce said, with no trace of irony or curt dismissal that Clark had come to expect. He just sounded...tired.
"You could say that." And Clark could hear slow, even sips on the other end of the line. He waited and Bruce said nothing else.
"Okay, if that's it..."
"Clark..." Bruce paused. "I do sleep," he said. "On missions."
"What?" And Clark's heartbeat went up to impossible and then some. "This is where we should talk about the concept of private time and what that means to most people." Oh God, he heard, he saw.
"The security system is programmed to red flag any tapes where my name is mentioned," Bruce said. "I don't sit here every night and watch you with your wife."
"We could have been talking about Bruce Springsteen!" Clark said. Yeah, like that deflection was going to work, but it was worth a shot. The silence on the other end answered that one.
"When you said my name," Bruce said, audibly polishing off his drink, "Were you just humoring her?"
How was he supposed to answer that? "Sometimes what two people do in private doesn't mean--"
Bruce cut him off. "I'm quite aware what fantasy is, Clark. So answer the question. Were you?"
Clark took a deep breath. He didn't have to answer this question in any way, shape or form. "No," he finally said. "Bruce, we really shouldn't be having this conversation."
Bruce didn't say anything for a few seconds, poured another drink. Clark heard him shift, the rustle of sheets. "No, we shouldn't," he said. "But we are."
So what was Bruce going to do now? Accuse him? Laugh at him? Clark was too embarrassed to even be all that angry. "Bruce..." he said, appealing, but for what, he didn't know.
On the other end, a small intake of breath and even smaller hiss. "If you're going to hang up, Clark, do it now." But Bruce didn't sound stern or demanding, his voice soft, a touch of fear and question. "You know what I'm about to do." The glass almost made a thud on what had to be the nightstand.
Do? What did he mean, do? Oh. Oh God. "Bruce, you're not...?" But he could hear it, the hitch of breath, elevation of heartbeat through the line, the soft scrape of nails on skin, touch. Even without the telephone, he could focus on those distant and distinct rhythms, Bruce and all his uniqueness, a man alone in his large house in Gotham.
"Yes, Clark. I...I need your voice."
He couldn't do this, but he couldn't hang up either. His embarrassment at being caught turned into embarrassment for Bruce. Bruce was strong. He didn't need anything from anyone, shook off anyone who dared to approach him, touch him. A lone figure and mysterious, that people were drawn to all the same. Maybe because of that.
"Bruce, I don't know if this is such a good idea."
"Of course not, Clark. It's a horrible idea. To confess..." The breath soft, drawn in and not expelled. And then it was. "There have been times when I've questioned my orientation around you. Until tonight, I never had any doubts as to yours." He paused when Clark didn't answer. "Clark? Say something."
Clark, eyes now open and hand fallen away from his face, stared at the sink, the tile surrounding it. "I don't know what you want me to say."
"Then just stay with me."
Clark nodded, but Bruce couldn't hear his head rattle, so he said, "Okay."
"The rumors about me...Clark, they're not true," Bruce said. "I'm mostly celibate. Not from lack of desire but...I can't explain away the scars, let anyone get that close. And those that know...well, they only want one thing." Bruce let out a small laugh, a bitter breath, that shouldn't have even been possible with what Clark couldn't deny that Bruce was doing, skin and flesh. "They'd go to bed with Batman and wake up with me."
Clark had heard that quote somewhere, but couldn't quite place it, knew that Bruce was paraphrasing for his own purposes. "That's part of who you are," Clark said.
"I can't possibly live up to my own reputation, the mystique."
Clark knew that one. Superman had this rep that had no basis in reality. People came up with these wacky ideas of what he was like, how they wanted him to be. This powerful...god. Even the ones that knew him, that should have known better. Not anything resembling the goof he really was, who giggled in bed. He knew that he was incredibly lucky to have Lois, beaten the odds, that she loved him for him, whoever that was. Bruce didn't have anyone like that.
And the thought that Bruce might be lonely, and maybe didn't want to be...Clark felt ashamed that with what he and Lois just did, that was Batman. The mystique as Bruce said, gauntlet and loom, shadow and strength. But it was Bruce too. He felt that pull, couldn't just sit here and listen, passive rejection.
"I...Bruce, I'll talk you through."
Bruce sighed, silent, but Clark could hear the relief and gratitude there. And he could hear the slight increase in pace and then the hesitation, as if Bruce was torn between getting it over with and drawing it out.
"But you wouldn't be like that," Bruce said. "It would be me."
"Yes," Clark said. He swallowed. He said he'd talk him through, and he would. "Yes, it would. All of you, Bruce."
Bruce hissed, sound through teeth, a small arch that Clark could hear, blanket and sheet moving, pushed down. "Clark...Clark, are you...?"
He hadn't moved his free hand, now draped across his knees. But he was half-hard and he wasn't going to deny that. "No, I'm not," he said. "But I want to. Bruce..." He had to discuss the elephant here. "I'm stretching my vows enough as it is." And he knew it. If he did, this would be sex for real, the two of them, even if just on the phone. Not that this wasn't, but he had to make that compromise, hold something back and give Bruce something too.
"I know...that you would never...faithful." Bruce sighed, slowed down. "Besides...probably sated."
Yes, twice tonight already. "I'm usually good for more," Clark said. "But I can be satisfied with once."
"How many is more?"
He tried to figure it out once, a lonely experiment back in college, back when he thought it wouldn't be possible for him to be with anybody, not that way. His roommate had been gone for the night, out with his girlfriend, so Clark lay back in his bed, stared at the ceiling. And counted. His hand though, even with lotion, was just as invulnerable as the rest of him so he ended up chafed, sore and depressed.
"Four," he said. "Five is pushing it."
Bruce hissed again, picked up the pace a little. "How can you possibly...?"
Be satisfied? With someone human? "It's not just the physical, it's..." This wasn't coming out right. "Bruce, I can't now, but maybe sometime...when I'm alone...I won't take the cameras out."
"I'd like that...if you say my name...like you did..."
"You can't watch any other time, Bruce. Not even if she wants to do that again. Promise me, or I will take them out. You know I'll find all of them."
"If you say my name...just you..."
Clark had to suppress a nervous giggle. I dedicate this one to...By himself, he was usually quick, silent, his thoughts his own and usually of her. And if a certain someone whose name started with B made a surprising guest appearance, he'd shake his head, take a breath and berate himself for letting his thoughts wander. And he hadn't even been able to admit to himself that maybe all of this wasn't the startling revelation it should be.
"Yes," Clark said, "Yes, I will." And that would make this sex. Reciprocal. Stretched out not only over distance, thin line of communication, but time. "Bruce..." And he put everything he had into that whisper, a name and intimate promise.
"Oh Jesus, Clark..." A scrabble of sheets, then breath and control.
And the power, thrilling and terrible, that Bruce, of all people, would be like this for him, because of him. "Bruce..." he whispered again. He couldn't help it. He couldn't help repeating it, couldn't help that he had a full erection now. He took a breath, didn't touch it.
"You belong on a beach," Bruce said. "A meadow and sunlight. So beautiful and exposed...perfect. I could just look at you and get hard. I'd spoil you, Clark. You wouldn't like it, but I would anyway. Gifts, places. You think you've been everywhere, but you haven't. I'd take you..."
Clark blinked but didn't soften. Romantic? Bruce? Wasn't that just the act? He'd be brutal, forceful, in the dark, something approaching pain and overwhelming desire. But that was the mystique, and Bruce said, maybe, that he wasn't really like that at all. Although that was a part of him, it had to be. Bruce could be vicious when he wanted, and not just from necessity. But Clark, too, had said all of Bruce, and he meant it.
"You," Clark said, "at night. Only one light on so I could see..." Clark could see perfectly well in the dark, vision beyond the small part of the spectrum available to humans, but he wanted Bruce to watch him looking.
"I have one lamp on now," Bruce said. "Just one. But Clark, I don't think you'd want..."
"To see? Bruce, you're sexy." How could he not know, doubt? "Your voice, your body, the way you move..."
"My skills, in this area, are exaggerated. I'd be awkward like an adolescent, selfish, unsatisfactory..." Bruce slowed, almost to a stop, took a breath, audible swallow.
"Bruce, you'd be passionate. You don't do anything half-way."
"You'd have to teach..."
Clark paused. Bruce should know everything he's done, and not done. "I've never...not with a man."
"She took you tonight, Clark. And you've taken her."
Something was off. Bruce didn't swear, really. The occasional hell and damn, but those didn't apply here. "Bruce, you can't say it, can you?" Not an accusation, just wonder. "You can't talk dirty."
"You don't." Almost defensive, but not quite.
"Fucking, Bruce. We're talking about fucking." And that got him a gasp that turned into a groan. Now he knew, as the grin spread on his face, how Lois felt when she made him say those words. "You want to fuck me, you want me to fuck you. Say it, Bruce."
A pause. "Fucking..." he finally said. Clark shook his head, the grin as big as it could possibly get. He was supposed to be the shy one.
"Not...just that, other things..."
"You want me to suck you? Is that it? Your cock in my mouth?" He fidgeted on the mat a bit, very aware that he was quite naked. God, what was he saying? Just listen to him. But it felt good. He could open up his own chat line, Chat with Clark, Bruce his only customer.
"Yes!" Bruce said, another scrabble of sheets, but then, "Not just that. More."
More? Handjob, rimming maybe. But he knew that's not what Bruce meant. And for some reason, this was much harder to say, so it came out hushed. "You want me to make love to you. Touch you. Kiss you. Hold you."
"Yes..." A drawn out sigh, admission. Fear and relief, pulse racing through the line. "Clark, please..."
At the please, Clark's hand twitched, almost dipped down. Bruce never said please for anything unless he was being sarcastic. He never said it like this. Clark trembled. His own fear and want. This wasn't just some Superman kink, let's have fun with Clark, some game that Bruce uncharacteristically got buzzed enough to give into. Not even just a lonely night. He meant it. All of it.
"If you came over," Bruce said, his own voice hushed. "I'd take my hand off myself, wait for you. You could be here in five minutes."
"Two," Clark said. "I could be there in two." Clark didn't move, and he knew Bruce didn't expect him to. No less real, but this was fantasy and Clark wasn't going to break it by voicing that it was or that he couldn't.
"When you get here, you'll see that my bed is already a shameful mess. I've kicked the blanket down."
"I'll stand in the doorway and look at you, how you are for me. You'll get mad because I'll take my time. I'll tell you not to touch yourself when I get undressed. I'll do it slowly, make you wait, look at you the whole time."
"I'll...obey. Excruciating. After so long..." But of course, Bruce was completely hands on now. Clark could hear it. And he raised a silent eyebrow. Was Bruce hinting that he might be a little submissive?
"I'll walk over to the side of the bed, take your hand, make you touch me."
"I will. Touch you. Everywhere."
"I'll lean down, crawl next to you, facing you, your hand still on me. I'll kiss you. Our first. Soft and then deeper. For so long that I'll worry if you can breathe."
"Breathe...just fine. Don't stop."
"I won't. I'll touch you, still kissing. You're hard for me."
"You don't say anything, but you're scared. I can feel it in your skin. You're scared that I'll take you, but you want me to."
Bruce didn't say anything, just the increased pumps, the slight slap of flesh.
"But I won't."
"What? Clark, you have to..."
"Not for our first time. Maybe the next, or the time after." Not that there was going to be any time. They both knew that.
"No, I'll slide down, my mouth everywhere but that place where you need it."
"But then I will. Take you in my mouth. I've never done this for anyone, but you'll show me, move where and how you want me to be, what you like."
Bruce didn't say anything again, breath quickening and close.
"I'll stop, ask if you have anything. You get scared again, but I tell you just one finger. Do you have anything, Bruce?"
"I tease, lick you right there, my tongue, work my finger inside. You're so tight, Bruce. I'll ask if I'm hurting you."
"No! Jesus. Clark, please..." Clark could hear Bruce shift, the nightstand drawer open, phone now pressed to Bruce's ear. One hand still on himself, and the other...
"My finger and my mouth, Bruce. Together."
"I make you move so I can do it to you...what you're doing to me. You're so big, I don't know if...but want...so much..."
Sixty-nine. It wasn't really his thing. He and Lois had tried a few times, but he'd always been uncomfortable with it, bending his back so they could both reach. He preferred to take turns. But Bruce was only two inches shorter, maybe it could work. So he only said, "Yes...I'll be careful, won't push."
"I'll take...whatever you can."
Clark swallowed back a laugh. So Bruce, wanting to be submissive but still competitive. "You're close. I move faster." He listened, to see if he could time it. "I won't pull back. I'll swallow. Will you?"
"Yes..." Bruce's teeth were clenched, he could hear the grind. So close, but he was holding back.
"It's okay, Bruce. Let go." But Bruce had said he needed more. Clark said this to people all the time, so important to say, but he'd never said it to Bruce, thinking he didn't want to hear. "I love you."
Bruce gasped, still holding back. Until, not reluctant really, not smoldering or manipulative, just raw, "I love you too." And then he came. Not the low grunt Clark might expect, but a little higher and longer. He'd held back, not just for Clark's words, but his own, so raw and real. Oh God, this was real. Not just a phone call, but real.
Bruce breathed slower, deeper. "I'm a mess," he said, and a small laugh. "Just...don't go anywhere, Clark."
"I'll stay," he said, as Bruce dropped the phone. Clark heard a faucet running, and then not, bare feet padding back to the bed.
"Yes. Are you okay?" Any second now, Bruce would hang up, maybe not even bother to say goodnight or goodbye.
"Are you?" He paused, shifted. Clark could hear Bruce's head against the pillow, the blanket pulling up and Bruce settling. "I meant what I said, so it's a serious question."
Clark couldn't say anything for a few seconds. "I don't know. This..."
"Complicates things. Yes, I'm aware." Clark could hear him reach, take a drink, long and thirsty. "Water," Bruce said. "I know my limit." Another pause, swallow and throat moving. "After tonight, we can't discuss this. So ask your questions. I'm sure you have them."
"Why?" Stupid question and open-ended, but he couldn't add anything to it.
Bruce sighed. "Do you do this at press conferences? Why anyone would choose to answer such a--"
Clark laughed, just a shudder and quiet. "Now this is the Bruce that I know."
"No one knows the one you heard just now."
Clark blinked, swallowed, and he couldn't blame that on a glass of water. "Well, I did. And now he's gone."
"What do you want me to do, Clark? Launch a campaign? Cause a rift in your marriage? You know I'm quite capable, but you wouldn't be happy. Sometimes, you don't think."
Yes, this the Bruce that he knew. He rubbed his eyes, erection flagging but not completely gone, confused. "Barn doors, Bruce. Don't blame this one on me."
When Bruce replied, his voice softened. "I know I crossed the line, Clark. And I haven't been fair. I've been blaming you since the beginning."
"It would help if you told me when that was."
"The beginning." Bruce didn't clarify, just let the word carry all the weight.
"You mean when we met? You were a jerk!"
Bruce took another drink of water. "Obviously, when an individual engenders an immediate physiological reaction in one that never considered that gender in the first place, his methods and motives are suspect. Quite logical really, and clever, and explained why the general populace took an immediate liking to you."
Clark laughed for real this time, hand over his mouth. "So I whammied you into thinking I was hot. Oh, Bruce..."
"I said nothing about thinking, Clark. Pheromones, chemical charisma, low-level hypnotic suggestion. Mild shapeshifting, perhaps. All of these are quite common, and much more likely than the supposedly sole survivor of an alien race being representative of the ideals of male earthly beauty by happenstance. And I've seen human representations of this ideal and felt nothing close to interest. So yes, suspect. Coupled with your message of peace and humility, extremely suspect. Religions have been founded on less."
Clark shook his head. "Too good to be true. Bruce, do you know how many times I've heard that one? Even from our side?"
"I'm sure I'm at the top of that list."
Yes, he was. It had hurt. And Clark had tried. And just ended up arguing, Bruce somehow coming out the victor simply by walking away. Upper hand by absence. Unless Clark managed to fly off in a snit first.
"But you're far from perfect, Clark. You find the most appalling things amusing. Sometimes you snort when you laugh. You're stubborn even when proven wrong. You're loyal to a fault. Too demanding even when you think you're not. Dress ridiculously just to confuse honey bees. You read trash and call it folk art. You like bowling, and even worse, curling. You snore so you must have a slightly deviated septum. You chew your nails."
"I do not!"
"Okay, maybe I do."
"You're probably doing it right now."
Clark, suddenly aware that his thumb was near his mouth, pulled it away. "Only when I'm nervous," he said, neither confirming nor denying.
"Anyone else, these would be disgusting." Bruce settled again, adjusting underneath the covers. "In you, they're endearing." He took a breath, let it out. "You emit no pheromones, Clark. You're just you. In other words, I'm hopelessly lost."
"Bruce, why didn't you--?"
"Say anything? I'm a man of caution, Clark. I consider the facts, ramifications. Lois, on the other hand, makes it up as she goes along. She won, Clark, long before I considered the possibility of a contest. And now you're married."
"Why do you have to use words like contest?"
"You think it's not? Why do you think she did what she did tonight, Clark? She's a smart woman. And I know what you're thinking, and the answer is no. That's not an acceptable compromise."
Thinking? Clark was just desperately trying to follow, process.
"But I will if you ask."
And then Clark got it. Why not? Wasn't it for the best? There was another couple in the League that had a similar situation and they managed to work things out. No sneaking around, no dishonesty. Even the gossip had died down. Eventually.
"The two of you dated," Clark said.
"That had everything to do with you. We flirt now, but we really have no interest in each other. We're just fighting over you. I'm not questioning your intelligence for not seeing that. You want to see the best in people. A threesome would be a disaster. You'd be miserable because we would be. But I will if you ask. Are you asking, Clark?"
But if they...couldn't they just... "No," he finally said in defeat.
"Good. I don't particularly like her, to be honest."
Clark's jaw dropped. "Bruce, I don't even know if you like me."
"How could you possibly...? Clark, you're infuriatingly likable. Of course I do. Why do you think we spend time together?"
"It sounds like you just do to try and get in my pants."
Clark heard Bruce clutch the phone closer to his ear, grind his teeth.
"Speaking of annoying things, you grind your teeth all the time. It's like listening to nails on a chalkboard."
Bruce just ground his teeth harder. "Listen," he said, "If that's all it was, I would have taken it by now and to hell with who you're with and how you'd feel about it. But yes, I care about you, Clark Kent. As for what I said earlier, I'm not going to repeat it. You heard me the first time. As for what you said, you meant it differently. Don't think I don't know that."
Clark took a breath. Bruce was talking about the implied preposition. Such a little word, in. But Bruce was right, such a big difference. So many things in this world that Clark loved, people, and that included Bruce. But there should only be one person that he felt anything resembling 'in' with. Not two. He didn't believe in that sort of thing. And he was in love with his wife. But if he wore the semblance of a human heart, he felt its imperfections too, the impossibility that such a small word could expand. Or that maybe it already had.
"I don't know, Bruce," he said, small and uncertain.
Now Bruce took a breath, sharp. "Don't," he said. "Don't lead me on, humor me. You may think you're being kind, but it's cruel."
"And your calling me with all of this isn't?"
Silent for a moment, Bruce said, "It is. Entirely selfish and a mistake." He paused. "We can't have an affair, Clark. I could live with it, but it would destroy you."
Clark drew his knees closer. "So this is it."
"It has to be. I'll avoid you for a while, but we should still be able to work together. We can be professional."
Professional. Looking at it with what he knew now, their professional relationship could only be considered odd. Sure they fought, didn't always agree, but they were a unit, almost joined at the hip when they worked with the others. And that's how he thought about it sometimes even if he said differently. Them and the others. Silly, because they weren't partners. Batman had Robin and Superman worked alone. But within the team, they were the Big Two. Sure, with Diana, it should have been the Big Three. But not always. That's what the others called them as if it were the most natural thing in the world, a name of awe and distance. And no matter how much he joked around with them, invited them to dinner and inside his home, that awe never really went away. Only Bruce treated him as a real person, an annoying person, but an equal.
No matter where he was in the Watchtower, all he had to do was turn and Bruce would be there. They were inside each other's personal space a lot. And no one seemed to question it. Clark never heard, and he could hear pretty far, "Oh, why don't they just get it over with?" or anything like that. They were Superman and Batman and above that sort of thing. But not the people inside the costumes. Not Bruce and Clark. If not for Lois, it would have happened. Even if Bruce never said anything, Clark would have made the move. There just wasn't anyone else. Not even Diana, his best friend. Not even her.
And now Clark would turn and Bruce wouldn't be there. He'd be across the room or the far end of the battlefield.
This just wasn't fair. He needed him.
"You won't be there," Clark whispered.
"Clark, I just said--"
"You know what I mean."
Bruce didn't say anything for a minute. "Clark, I can't. That's asking too much."
"I know." Clark put his head down on his knees, tried to be angry that Bruce made the call in the first place. But he couldn't manage it. It would have come out eventually. These things always did. And then it would have been the same anyway.
As far as Clark knew, Bruce could probably count on one hand, and still have fingers left over, how many times he's said this to anyone in his life. "Clark, I'm sorry."
And he said this soft, with something close to a chuckle. "Hey, that's my line."
"How does it feel to be on the receiving end?" But Bruce said this soft too.
"It sucks." Now he knew why Bruce always bridled when he said it.
Bruce was quiet for another minute. "I should go. We're just dragging this out."
Clark only nodded against his drawn up knees. Maybe Bruce could hear his head rattle. Maybe he couldn't.
Bruce put the phone down, not on the hard nightstand, but on the soft bed next to him. He didn't hang up.
Clark hesitated and didn't hang up either. He just stayed there, sitting on his fuzzy bath mat, just as bare-butt naked, and listened. Listened until he heard Bruce's breath evening out, the soft whistle between his teeth.
"I snore and you whistle," he whispered. But Bruce didn't respond. He was asleep.
Clark stood, unlocked the bathroom door, took the phone with him. He placed it on his own nightstand, but not back in the charger. He could still hear Bruce's small whistle, inaudible to anyone else, as he got back into bed beside Lois. She stirred, back to him, but didn't wake up. He looked at his clock. He'd only get three hours in if he fell asleep right now. He probably wouldn't. He'd spend too much time thinking about what he'd say to her, if anything, in the morning. And she'd want to know why the phone was off the hook.
But he couldn't bring himself to press 'end'. If he did, then it would be over.