Title: Otherwise It Won't Come True
Length: ~4000 words
Spoilers: none really
Warnings: slash, ridiculous analogies (Alexander/Hephaistion)
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to DC Comics. Except the parts that belong to Oliver Stone
Summary: Some analogies are loose at best.
"You didn't like it," Clark said from the floor, leaning against the footboard, head tilting slightly back and looking up. Bruce sat on the soft blue comforter, an eye on the laptop beside him, one knee drawn up and feet bare. The credits rolled on the new plasma screen across from them. The ending score a soft reverberation in the master, quadraphonic, drum beat and lilt.
"There went three hours of my life." Bruce reached over for his water bottle on the nightstand, aimed the remote and the room fell silent. Now only the afternoon sounds of the manor garden drifted through the barely ajar balcony door: birds, squirrel chatter, Alfred's gardening gloves sifting through the loam.
Clark shrugged, nibbled salt from his fingers, popcorn bowl a foot away. A few stray kernels, invaders on the area rug, Persian, most likely antique and irreplaceable. "You're the one who picked it. Besides, you managed to keep busy."
And Bruce had kept himself occupied, never giving the film his full attention. He worked on his laptop, did pull-ups on the closet bar, sit-ups on the floor, stretches. Even resorted his sock drawer, toes and heels matched as he rolled, flickering his eyes to the screen occasionally. This a man that could crouch, unprecarious, on a building ledge hours at a time, focused. And he couldn't sit still through a movie. His comments and criticisms the only proof that he'd been paying any notice at all.
"Ten minutes in, I knew it wasn't worth it."
Bruce closed his laptop, drew up his other knee. "You seemed to be enjoying it. And some parts held my interest."
True, at certain points during the film, Bruce would pause, turn his head to the screen. And those scenes were all when...Clark couldn't keep in the laugh of disbelief.
"You're kidding. Bruce, you didn't find those scenes a bit flowery?"
Standing, Bruce put his laptop away. Back turned, he said, "It's a love story, Clark, set against a time in history." He zipped up the case, murmured, "I drew certain analogies."
Clark's hand fell away from his mouth then. "Loose, at best. We don't, you know, all that much." He thumped his head, gently, against the footboard. He didn't want to bring that up at all, unsure.
"When we have opportunity, we do," Bruce said, back still turned.
"You didn't exactly jump me when I got here this morning." In fact, Clark had sat at the breakfast table, Bruce still in his bathrobe, newly risen, at a quarter to eleven. Bruce handed him a section of the paper, sipped his coffee, as Alfred set a plate down in front of Clark. And Clark had said nothing when he followed Bruce into the bedroom, only to find that Bruce had put in a DVD and then dressed. Alfred arriving with a tray of popcorn and drinks, then quickly exiting.
"I wanted you to watch the movie first." Now he did turn, face impassive and arms crossed, waiting for a reaction, response.
Clark only looked back at him, reached for his glass of water, ice long melted from the early autumn heat but still cool, swallowed. "We don't have much in the way of opportunity. This—" He noticed the angle of his head, still sitting on the floor. "Do you have to loom like that?" Awkward, but he didn't feel like getting up, rising and asserting his slight difference in height.
"I'm not looming." But Bruce uncrossed his arms, leaned against the bureau, ran a hand through his hair. "You're avoiding the question."
"You didn't ask one."
"No. Maybe you're avoiding it by making these vague statements."
Pushing himself off the bureau, Bruce huffed, the breath ruffling his bangs. Normally, he didn't have any, his hair either brushed back and elegant or sweat-slick from the cowl. But here he was, t-shirt and sweats, casual. With bangs. Hair a disarray from his morning shower and a quick comb. Clark took a quick breath, unable to look away and not wanting to.
"Now who's making vague statements?"
"I think you're you right now. It's not always easy to tell."
A flash of irritation segued into a soft smile. "Precisely." He crouched in front of Clark, elbow on his knee, and peering just a foot away from Clark's face. "That's the point."
Clark couldn't lean any farther back so he leaned slightly forward. "What point?"
"I thought we were talking about why we weren't."
Crouch turning into a sitting position, their legs brushed and Bruce leaned in so now that foot of distance halved into six inches. "We are. You really want me to do that to you?"
"Make this about sex. I don't want to do that."
Clark fought the pull, the lean forward and no distance, instead he focused on Bruce's eyes. "Sex would be good."
"It hasn't been?" Bruce tilted his head slightly, a real question and whisper.
Incredible, the first word that popped into Clark's mouth, but he didn't let that go. Infrequent, but he didn't let that one out either. And he couldn't say precisely who started it three months ago, blame either himself or Bruce. All he knew, one minute they were sharing a cup of coffee on the Watchtower, literally, one cup between them, because only one had been in the cabinet. Both of them laughing, rare for Bruce but not unheard of, close. And the next minute saw them kissing and closer.
"That first time—"
Bruce only raised an eyebrow. "You expected me to push you up against the bulkhead?"
"No. I don't know. It was..." Nice. But that was a stupid word, inadequate. Slow didn't cut it either. Unexpected, maybe. How they ended up at the manor instead of racing off to available quarters on the tower. Morning sheets, the sun of Gotham creeping through the shut drapes and both of them drifting off after.
"The rest were like those too." All five times. Five times in three months. "What are we doing, Bruce? Are we having an affair? Is this just a friendly thing? What?"
Bruce shifted closer, cupped Clark's cheek, ran a thumb along his face. "We haven't exactly talked about it. I didn't want to."
Clark closed his eyes, preparing.
"No. Look at me."
"My life has been a series of brief affairs, Clark. Maybe I want to take it slow for once and not wipe my hands of it after a few tempestuous weeks."
"That's not what I—"
"Do. Yes, I know. We're friends."
Clark's mouth opened, but no words came, only the slow bubble of desolation in his chest.
Bruce kept his hand on Clark's cheek, insistent. "No, you don't get it. I have far fewer friends than people I've slept with." He shook his head, hand falling away and rising. "This isn't coming out right. Wait here." He disappeared into the bathroom, rummaged through the vanity and returned with a small black velvet case.
"Sit on the bed, the angle's better."
Rising, Clark went to the edge of the bed, sat down, but not without a question on his face. "You know, that looks like a lady's cosmetics bag to me."
"It is." Bruce opened the bag, retrieving a thin black pencil.
"Should I ask where it came from?"
"No. It's old. That's all you need to know." Pausing, Bruce closed the bag, tossed it on the comforter. "We both come with a history, Clark."
The hint of Selina's perfume hung in the air, stale. How many years and he still hadn't boxed up all of Lois's things. "I guess we do."
"Look up," Bruce said, testing the pencil on his thumb and leaving a black smudge.
"Are you going to put that on my face?"
"Eyeliner does go around the eyes, which tend to be on the face."
"What does this—? Oh, you have got to be kidding me. You want to make me look like the actor in the movie, with all the kohl or whatever that was supposed to be. You know, I don't think that was one of the more historically accurate—"
"Indulge me," Bruce said, the pencil not retreating. "There's a point here."
"Yes, and it's right by my eye."
"Even if I deliberately stabbed you with this, all I'd do is break the thing." Bruce now tilted Clark's chin, planning his mode of attack.
"Reflexes, personal space..."
The grip on his chin tightened. "Relax. I know what I'm doing."
Clark took a deep breath, not too deep, released it slowly, nodded, and then kept still. "Okay, Max Factor, do your worst."
Bruce drew the liner, long strokes and then short, across each eyelid and then underneath. Clark tried not to blink, having horrible visions of snapping the pencil in half, splinters. Somehow, he managed it. The pencil retreated and now Bruce used his thumb to rub lightly on the lids, upper and lower, mouth pursed and intent, pencil between his lips. Clark looked at the faint stitch lines, faded scar on the underside of Bruce's chin. He breathed again, now concentrating on the feel of Bruce's fingers, gentle and purposeful on his face. Almost sensual, close, and Clark wondered what Bruce would do if he fell back on the bed, pulled Bruce down with him.
But then Bruce drew back, thumb and forefinger together. "Eyelash."
It must have been loose already. Although invulnerable, Clark's body regenerated like anyone's. Skin cells and bone and hair. Bruce twirled the lash slightly, intrigued, and Clark knew that this would end up on a glass slide down in the cave along with all the other samples that Bruce had retrieved over the years.
The corner of Bruce's mouth twisted up as he held the lash out. "Make a wish," he said.
"You're in a mood," Clark said, but couldn't help the soft smile, surprise.
"Is that a problem?"
"No." Clark let out a soft breath, the lash fluttering in the air, filtered sunbeam from the garden. And his wish both great and small. Four hours he'd been here, selfish, since the world didn't make for such allowances. Please. An hour more, maybe two. Let the volcanoes sleep, the earth not rage up, flood waters hold back. Peace, for a short time, and just this place.
The lash twirled and fell on the carpet.
"So what did you wish for?"
"I'm not supposed to tell you. Otherwise, it won't come true."
Bruce raised an eyebrow, skeptical.
"All right. You."
Bruce's eyes widened slightly, imperceptible to anyone but Clark. "That's just like you, Clark Kent, to wish for something you already have." He leaned in, whisper, breath in the ear. "You look ridiculous, by the way."
Clark leaped up and dashed for the bathroom.
"I look like a cartoon!" he said to the mirror, blue eyes somehow bluer in contrast and huge. "Was that your point?"
"You're quite lovely," Bruce said, now behind him, but his own image smirking at Clark in the mirror.
"I'm glad I could amuse," Clark muttered, turning on the tap and looking for the soap. "Because you didn't have anything better to do today."
But Bruce reached around him, turned the faucet off. "Leave it on. I'm getting used to it." Arms now wrapping around Clark's waist, chin tilting to lean on Clark's shoulder, he said, "There are always things I have to do. But I made time for you."
"You are in a mood," Clark said, looking sidelong at Bruce, the image of the two of them in the mirror on the periphery. "Not that I'm complaining."
The grip around his waist tightened, the chin on his shoulder turned so that Bruce's mouth grazed his neck. "You've been gone three and a half weeks, Clark. And we lost contact with you after the first week." Yes, deep space mission. He couldn't help it if the communications device sank into a lava pit. He retrieved it, of course, but he couldn't make it work after that.
"You had that trip to Austria the two weeks before that," Clark countered, arching his neck to give Bruce better access. "If that's really where you ended up. I did look for you once or twice."
Sighing, Bruce closed his eyes briefly. "That's what I meant by opportunity. We mostly work separately. That can't change."
"So on our downtime, we watch an epic-length movie and you assault me with eyeliner?" Clark took another quick glance at himself in the mirror. "I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille."
"Are we role-playing?" Clark grinned, pulled away. "Then I should make it more authentic." He stripped off his t-shirt and grabbed Bruce's blue satin robe from the hook by the door, put it on without tying the sash to leave his chest bare. He flipped the back so that it billowed behind him. Lowering his lashes and raising them again dramatically, he said in a reasonable Irish brogue, "You once said the fear of death drives all men. Are there no other forces? Is there not love in your life, Alexander? What is it you fear?"
Standing away from the vanity, Bruce crossed his arms. "That's not...Fine." And in a better brogue, he said, "Who knows these things? When I was a child my mother thought me divine; my father, weak. Which am I, Hephaistion? Weak or divine?" He walked toward Clark, pausing just inches in front of him. "All I know is I trust only you in this world. I've missed you. I need you." He paused again, swallowed, voice now low. "It is you I love, Hephaistion. No other."
Clark's eyes widened. And with the eyeliner on, he was sure they looked impossibly big. His breath hissed between his teeth. Just a game. They were playing a game and he'd started it. Or Bruce did. One of them did. Or they were just playing off each other.
"Your line," Bruce mumbled after more than a few seconds. His expression open and expectant as if he hadn't said that word.
"Like a deer listening in the wind you strike me still, Alexander. You have eyes like no other. I sound as stupid as a school boy, but you're everything I care for. And by the—" Clark laughed, small chuckle and blush. Midwestern accent now. "I'm sorry. I can't say it. It's just..."
Bruce, still inches away, glared.
"Okay, okay." Finding the brogue again. "By the sweet breath..." Another laugh. "Okay." Breath. "By the sweet breath of Aphrodite..." Clark leaned into the vanity. He slid down to the tile, shoulders shaking and ridiculous sounds coming out of his mouth. He rubbed an eye and black smears ended up on his hand. Clark looked at it for a moment and then just howled. And couldn't stop. "I've ruined my makeup!" He collapsed on the floor in giggles.
"Are you done?"
"Give...give me a minute," Clark said, and kept giggling. Breath evening out, he said, "Okay, I'm done." He turned, still on the floor, his only view Bruce's bare feet, the hem of his sweatpants. "Don't you wear steel toes?" He reached out, couldn't help it, to the small ridge that shouldn't be there on the middle toe of Bruce's left foot, bone spur and badly knit, hairline fracture. The beginnings of osteoarthritis. "You're only thirty-six," he whispered against that toe, hand now reaching up the calf.
"Don't." Bruce pulled away, stepped back.
"I'm sorry," Clark said, now on his back and staring at the bathroom ceiling. What were they doing? They didn't have this kind of time. Clark closed his eyes, laughter gone from his voice. And finished his line. "I'm so jealous of losing you to this world you want so badly."
Bruce knelt beside him. And finished his line too. "You'll never lose me, Hephaistion. I'll be with you always. Till the end."
Clark looked into his eyes, the two of them silent for a moment. "Aren't you supposed to hug me now?" he whispered.
"Not on the bathroom floor." Bruce turned and walked back to the bedroom. By the time Clark had picked himself up, slowly, since he considered making a hasty exit through the tub drain – physics be damned - or disappearing altogether, he found Bruce rummaging through a walnut box on the bureau.
"I found it in Egypt..." Bruce said, brogue again, and a ring in his hand.
"Your prep school ring?" For that's what it was, blue stone set in silver and impossible print scrawled around.
Bruce only beckoned impatiently so Clark stepped forward.
"The man who sold it to me said it came from a time when man worshiped sun and stars. I'll always think of you as the sun, Alexander."
"Wait, are we switching?"
Bruce said nothing in his own voice, only took Clark's hand and shoved the ring on a finger, sliding it easily over the knuckle. It fit. Bruce always had large hands.
"No one in their right mind would compare me to the sun," Bruce finally said, low and annoyed, but hand still on Clark's.
"If we're switching, then shouldn't you be the one with the eyeliner?"
Instead of answering, Bruce let Clark's hand drop, stormed over to the cosmetics bag still on the bed. He grabbed the pencil from it and quickly lined both eyes, upper and lower lids, while peering in the mirror above the bureau. "Satisfied?" he finally said, turning.
"You're stunning," Clark said, but not without a low chuckle, lip quivering from the suppressed open laugh. "It brings out your eyes."
Bruce only glared, eyes narrowing.
"No, really, I mean it," Clark said, daring to come closer and arms opening. Bruce didn't back away - or down. "Next time, we'll have a Mary Kay party." But he said this with arms already wrapping around Bruce. "Let's just skip to the hugging, okay?" And when Bruce didn't flinch, his own arms going around Clark, underneath the robe and bare hands against Clark's skin, he added, "And if I'm lucky, the conquering thighs part."
"We should try it," Bruce said, murmur along Clark's collarbone, robe sliding down as far as it could, and breath.
"Most people would call this a hug," Clark said, hands sliding down. "A naughty hug." Smirk against Bruce's ear and fingertips going beyond the waistband of Bruce's sweatpants and further. "You have got the best -"
"No, I mean intercrural."
"By all means, get technical with me." Clark backed up, pulling Bruce with him, until his back hit the mattress and Bruce landed on top of him. The robe splayed behind him on the comforter. Even with it half off his shoulders, he managed not to strain the seams as he kneaded that best ass that he didn't get a chance to finish saying earlier. He hoped his fingers relayed the message. The way Bruce arched and ground into him told him message received.
"It means - "
"I know what it means." Clark lay fully back, with what he wanted to be a seductive smile but was more likely a goofy grin. "You can have my virginal thighs."
"But you'll hurt yourself if I don't get my jeans off first."
"Clark..." Bruce said again, head bowed and shoulders slumping. The wonderful grind stopped. "Why is this a joke to you?"
Closing his eyes briefly, his own hands slowing, he said, "Will you let me be serious?" A whisper and real question
"What the hell do you think I've been trying to do all afternoon? I said - " But Bruce stopped, shook his head in frustration.
Managing to get one arm out of the robe, Clark raised his free hand, the one that still had the prep school ring, just touched the side of Bruce's face. Bruce leaned into it, a small sigh escaping and eyes pleading. His lined eyes, impeccable and unsmudged. Beautiful, Clark wanted to say, and as open as he'd ever seen them. But instead, he said, "No more analogies. This is just us, okay?"
"Us," Bruce managed to repeat, face turning slightly to kiss Clark's wrist, but eyes still focused on Clark.
"I like the sound of that." But Clark didn't let Bruce respond, not in words, as he leaned up and kissed him, drew him down, hand wrapping around his neck
And if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. But sometimes wishes do come true. As yes, Clark did manage to get his jeans off and the afternoon minutes ticked off into hours, the earth turned in peace and quiet. This room the only place he needed to be or wanted. Evening would come with its sirens and screams, its horrible injustices, and two people determined to make a difference, have it make sense.
But that time was hours away.