Title: Nor the Rain
Length: 2507 words
Spoilers: early career, pre-Robin
Warnings: slash, Russian poetry, unrepentant schmoop
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to DC Comics.
Summary: Bruce decides it's time.
Superman spilled his coffee, trickles running down his tights, jaw dropping.
"You took it out."
Batman sat, crouched beside him on the stevedore's office roof, looking out over Gotham Harbor, his own cup firm in his gauntlet. One corner of his mouth twisted up.
"You peeked. Lead's bad for the pores." Looking sidelong, the eyes of Bruce Wayne now apparent beneath the mask, he said, "Besides, it was time."
"Then I should tell you—"
"I already know."
Batman, Bruce Wayne, rose, leaped down and disappeared in a sea of cargo containers.
Two days later, Clark found himself on the list of invited media to the Gotham Orphans Benefit at Wayne Manor. He also found himself fiddling with his press packet on the lawn of said manor, celebrity guests subtly steering around him in their sun hats and linen shirts.
"Have you done your homework, Mr. Kent?"
A hand, patrician and strong, manicured nails, lighted on his arm, the words a whisper, breath in his ear.
Clark could only nod, keep a not too firm hand on his virgin Mimosa.
"Have you, Mr. Wayne?"
"Oh, I have." Again, the whisper. The hand on his arm squeezing. "May I call you Clark? It suits you."
I will not call you Kal, Kal-El, or any of your other ridiculous names, Superman. This isn't Krypton.
"Call me Bruce," the whisper, melodious tenor and drawl, Gotham Brahmin accent, "Give it a try."
"Bruce." His own Kansas accent, with a hint of Mid Atlantic, horrible and flat.
A soft chuckle. "See? We're friends already, Clark."
"Are you this friendly with the others?"
"As much as I value your trade, my relationship with the fourth estate runs from adversarial to a loose alliance at best." That hand ran up his arm to his shoulder. "A man in my position, you know how it is."
"You know what I mean."
That breath and whisper closer. "You know what I mean too. You're the only one I talk to."
Talk? They argued. All the time. Even argued about the word argue. Okay, more like quibbling. Over little things. Like who should be first at the scene, jurisdiction and authority. Somehow New York was neutral ground but Milwaukee wasn't. So those weren't so little. But that had turned into the odd coffee ritual over Gotham. Books and movies, even the color teal. Details dropped without the face or name to go with them. Clark had never gone so far out of his way to argue with anyone, arranged his schedule.
"I know you worship at the altar of Kurosawa. You're one of only ten people outside of Russia to have even heard of Elena Luvasova, let alone read her. You think raspberries are overrated and Hershey should be sanctioned for ruining chocolate." Clark said this light and low as he watched a caterer open another bottle of champagne, small cliques of people shifting and regrouping. Laughter, far away from the two of them.
A chin rested on his shoulder as the hand slipped down his arm again. "One of eleven people now, am I right?"
"I was always one of the ten. She doesn't translate well, but she's exquisite in Russian."
Clark could hear the slow shut of eyelids, the steady heartbeat quicken slightly and back down again. "Prove it."
"We were walking from the station, slow feet on the ground. Sparrow Hills and Moscow below us. The sun was not kind to you that day, nor the rain which came after..."
And that heartbeat, which he would know anywhere, but hadn't pried to find it since he promised, skittered slightly, inches from his back. His own slow smile, head turning so that dark hair, hint of blue eyes, was peripherally visible. "You're a sap, Bruce." Funny, how the name, forbidden and withheld, came easily now.
"Shh, it's a secret." The grin, unthinkable three days ago. "Come on, I'll give you a tour. Let's escape these dreadful people before they notice."
Third stop was the library. A piano, Chesterfield chairs, books all the way to the ceiling. A walnut book ladder rested on one side. Bruce stopped before a grandfather clock, antique.
"It doesn't work anymore," he sighed. "Sentimental value." His fingertips glanced the casing.
And then Clark saw it, the door, and the stairs. His eyes widened, but he didn't speak. They weren't alone in the house. A few guests in the main parlor at the front of the house, complaining about the sun. Such an unnatural day for Gotham and humid.
Bruce smiled, small and real, eyebrow raised in acknowledgment. "I said I'd give you a tour." He looked down then, hands now in pocket, toeing the floor with a summer oxford. "Would you look at that? Scuff mark."
Clark looked down, the herringbone floor, the cave below that. "You weren't kidding," he said, a low whistle and wonder. The infamous lair, right beneath him, batmobile on the tarmac, the soft hum of electronics, lab and work bench.
"Yes, it's horrible." Was that a wink? "I'll have to get it buffed out."
Fourth stop was the kitchen. Old fashioned and glass cabinets, immaculate. A middle-aged man in butler uniform spoke sternly into a phone.
"We were promised a morning delivery. I don't care to hear your excuses, young man. There are other vendors, I must say, that don't rely on them. Good. Half an hour then and no later. Goodbye." He sighed and put down the phone. "Ah, Master Bruce, may I—?"
"We're just on our way through, Alfred. I'd like to introduce a friend of mine, Clark Kent. Clark, this is Alfred Pennyworth. Don't let the uniform fool you, he runs this place with an iron fist."
"A pleasure, sir." Alfred looked at him shrewdly, Bruce's hand on Clark's arm, and suddenly Clark could believe the iron fist and possible other powers.
"It's nice to meet you," Clark said, awkward and slight stammer.
"He's a shy one!" Bruce said, that hand giving his arm a reassuring squeeze. "It's all right, Clark. We don't stand on ceremony here."
Alfred's mouth twitched, conveying 'We most certainly do.' But he said, "Please, Mister Kent, make yourself at home. May I get you anything?"
"Oh no. Thank you. I'm just...you have a beautiful home."
Alfred relaxed, a soft smile. "One tries." He stood away from the counter, surety and grace and subtle power. "I'm afraid you'll have to excuse me, I have some late deliveries to attend to." On his way out, he said low, in passing, so that Clark shouldn't have been able to hear, "Be good, Master Bruce, and be a gentleman."
"He likes you," Bruce said, as if he were suddenly sixteen and Clark had met with his parents' approval. This wasn't just a kitchen, but a test. Clark didn't know what to say. Until he saw the massive espresso machine.
"I knew it!" Triumph in his voice, evidence on the counter.
"Just because some of us prefer not to drink that swill they serve in diners—"
"Snob." Clark practically bounced on his toes in glee. He managed not to float with it. He turned to call Bruce a snob again, but the word stayed in his throat when he saw the expression on his face. Part exasperation and part something else.
And he just stood there when Bruce leaned in and kissed him. Soft and no tongue until Clark kissed him back. Even then, it was slow. Bruce knew what he was doing but there was still a question behind it, and behind that, fear. Clark ran a reassuring hand down Bruce's back, pressed closer.
"Is this part of the tour?" Clark said, when they pulled away.
"You're not seeing anyone, are you?" Bruce said, leaning so their foreheads touched, shaky. "I didn't just—"
"I thought you did your homework." Clark tilted that chin, a small kiss and quick. "I lead a lonely life."
Bruce, eyes still closed, shook his head. "You're the only one I talk to. I can't—"
Putting a finger to Bruce's lips, Clark whispered, "Shh, it's okay. Show me the rest of the house."
"Well, here we are," Bruce said after Clark shut the door to the master suite behind him. The bedroom mahogany and blue. Clark wanted to laugh, drive away his own nerves, because yes, they were here.
"Here we are," he said, an echo, and small. He placed his press packet on the bureau, hands not knowing what to do and Bruce a good five feet away. Lady-killer, the tabloids said. But that's all they said. "Have you...?" Clark let the question fade. Stupid thing to ask and presumptuous.
"Yes." But Bruce didn't move. Or explain. Not that Clark needed him to. "Have...Can you?"
"Yes." And Clark did laugh then, shook his head. "Just look at us. It's like high school all over again." God, he really didn't know what to do with his hands and his feet were glued to the floor.
"High school?" Bruce's voice rose, accusation.
"No, no, college. Definitely college." His hands went up in defense, placating. "I just meant—"
Bruce's face softened then and he stepped forward. Without saying a word, he reached out, took off Clark's glasses, placed them on top of the press packet. Then he brushed part of Clark's hair forward, one finger twisting to form a curl. After that, he just looked, hands going back in his pockets. He still didn't say anything, didn't move, his heartbeat mostly steady, but not quite.
Clark took one of his hands, placed it a few inches from Bruce's face so that only the lower half was visible. Bruce frowned and Clark laughed. "There you are," he said. He took his hand away. The full face, naked and open, was much better.
"There you are," he said again, this time leaning forward, the kiss much deeper, harder than it had been in the kitchen.
Somehow, they managed to shrug out of shirts and shoes, slacks and socks, without breaking apart too much, until they were nothing but undershirts and boxers on top of the blue coverlet. And then it was just skin and the coverlet, Bruce's hand reaching down, no nervousness in his strokes and mouth on Clark's neck.
Clark hissed, arched, attempted to turn over. But Bruce's hand held him in place. "No," he said, urgent and apology, as he climbed on top of Clark, hands pinning Clark's wrists to the bed. Cock to cock now, he moved. "I'm not going to last." And that was the last of the words as they ground together, Clark's hips rising. He wasn't going to last either, eyes locking and blue and he wanted to look but he gave up, kissed Bruce above him, fast and nasty and whimper and rising. Literally. A few inches above the bed, but his wrists still pinned as Bruce ground down a final time and anything but quiet.
Just breath and a mess and fully on the bed now. Clark noticed the flutter of curtains, the summer breeze. "The window's open," he murmured, not quite ready to care about anything but the feel of Bruce collapsed on top of him.
"I'm known for disappearing from my own parties with the prettiest thing that comes along. This shocks no one," Bruce said, a mumble against his neck. "But this is the first time it's been true."
"I bet you say that to all the girls."
Bruce shifted, looked over, still partially draped on Clark. "Do I even need to explain this to you?"
"No." He reached over, his free arm, brushed the hair over Bruce's ear. "The lines were long today and the factory closed. You come to me, hands empty, and speak of art and how things were when you were a boy. We speak of the dead. There is no food in the icebox, but there is half a loaf of bread on the counter. Eat. We will share it. The body needs, but the heart does what it wants. This, they cannot take away. The sun shines over Moscow whether you are here or not."
Bruce said nothing, only let out a slow breath. He pushed forward, the kiss far from small, lingering, hand finding its way to the back of Clark's neck. "I'll be right back."
Clark looked at the curtains, listened to the clink of glasses from the lawn. Bruce came back from the bathroom, washcloth in his hand. "Here."
"Looks like rain," Clark said as the curtains fluttered more. Small shrieks and curses, umbrellas opening and dashes to the door. "Shouldn't you...?"
"Gotham in June." Bruce crawled back onto the bed, settled, eyes closing half-way and a yawn. "April in Paris." His eyes closed more. "We should go."
"I have to work." Clark shifted until he was spooning Bruce's back. Bruce didn't seem to mind. The Batman he knew would have punched him.
"White owes me a favor. Besides, you'll have to go anyway."
Clark sighed. "Business trip."
"Intergang. Part of it's your mess."
The rain fell in earnest now, the room darkening. "That's what you said last time. When you handed me a bomb."
"You distracted me. Otherwise I would have disarmed it."
"You handed me a bomb." But he mouthed the back of Bruce's neck when he said this, wrapped an arm around. Bruce gripped his hand, one squeeze.
"And you just stood there like it was the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch instead of just getting rid of the damn thing."
Clark couldn't help the chuckle. "One, two, five! Oh right, three! Hey, you told me you never saw that one."
"I saw it a few days ago. We can talk about it over crêpes in Montparnasse." Bruce yawned again. "Get the clock, would you? One hour." And his voice faded, but his hand still on Clark's.
"So that's your secret, night owl," he whispered as he let go, set the alarm. "You nap."
Bruce didn't answer, already asleep. Clark didn't know if he should rise quietly, get dressed. A few minutes wouldn't kill Bruce. He pulled up the throw from the bottom of the bed, barely big enough for the two of them. Bruce shifted, threw an arm around him, murmured something in his sleep. Clark listened to the rain, the escaping guests in limousines, the catering trucks. Downstairs, Alfred closed the door on the last of them.
"I'm amending the dinner menu," Alfred said to no one in particular as he headed into the kitchen. "If you care to stay."
Bruce had told. But Clark couldn't find any anger as Bruce nestled more against him. He listened to the rain, the world beyond that. And in this one moment, there was nothing. Peace, as much as it was possible.
He narrowed back down, the rain, this room, the man asleep beside him. He drifted off.