Pairings/Characters: Jonathan/Martha, Clark/Bruce
Continuity: Batman Begins/The Man Of Steel
Genres: AU (Some change in canon), Slice-Of-Pie, er, Life ;)
Spoilers: For Man Of Steel
Summary: Martha finds Clark’s new boss at The Daily Planet to be an intriguing mystery.
Date Of Completion: July 6, 2013
Date Of Posting: August 5, 2013
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 3271
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This series will be set in Nolanverse and gradually explain how Clark and Bruce got together, but first, outsiders are asking, “Are they or aren’t they?” The series follows canon but with my own changes, so while there will be canon, there will be departures from it as well. The entire series can be found here.
A mother’s love,
Is like apple pie,
Warm and dusted
Martha took out the apple pie and set it on a wire rack on the counter to cool. It had turned out perfectly, if she did say so herself.
She had already cleaned up the mess from baking but looked around the kitchen, anyway. A splash of flour or apple rind better not dare to grace her clean counter! But everything was spotless. Satisfied, she put the dishtowel back on its rack. She could hear Jonathan’s whistling as he brought the ladder out from the barn and propped it against the house. She went into the living room and wished the furniture wasn’t quite so shabby, but there was no help for it. Money was always dear, and there always seemed to be something else it had to be spent on.
Well, it’ll just have to do.
The clink of paint cans alerted her to Jonathan’s whereabouts. She opened the screen door and saw her husband sitting on the steps as he carefully mixed paint.
Martha gave the house and porch a critical look. The porch was peeling, but that was why Jonathan had the paint out. Clark had promised to help, good boy that he was.
She looked up at the house as she came down the steps. Clark had helped Jonathan with the repairs needed after Zod’s attack and now the house looked like new except that the new wood needed to be painted.
“You sure you want to change the color?” Jonathan asked as he mixed the paint. “Clark won’t recognize the house.”
“Ha, ha, very funny. Pale yellow is not that different from white.”
“Oh, I know. Just funnin’ with you.”
Martha laughed. “Funnin’, huh? Should I tune in Hee Haw on the telly-vision and The Grand Ole Opry on the ray-de-o?”
Jonathan grinned. “Well, Ma, I’d say we should git out the rockin’ cheers and set on the porch for a spell.”
Martha’s smile was gentle as she ruffled her husband’s hair. The sound of the windchines tinkled sweetly as a light breeze sprang up.
“I had better work on that doll for the fair. Don’t get too ambitious. Remember, Clark’s going to help.”
Martha lightly punched Jonathan’s shoulder and went into the house. The homemade dolls that she was making for the Children’s Hospital booth were a fine group, she thought with pride. She had made dolls that were, respectively, a policeman, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, and a farmer. She was working on her last one, a fireman.
She took out her materials and sat in her favorite chair, setting to work. Clark had always loved going to the fair. He loved to sample all the rides, especially the Ferris wheel. When he had been little, he had always clamored to go on the merry-go-round. Jonathan had gone with him when Clark was just a toddler, keeping him from falling off the horse with an arm around his waist, but one day Clark had declared, “I’m a big boy, Daddy!” and so Jonathan had watched standing next to his wife as Clark had spun around, laughing and waving at his parents, who had waved back. Chubby little hands firmly gripped the pole, though not enough to crumple it. Even at that young age, Clark had been trained to hold back.
Ah, memories. I guess the older you get, the sweeter they become. Even with a touch of melancholy.
She wished that it could have been different for Clark, but hiding his powers, even at their low intensity when he was a child was far better than being a lab rat somewhere. She shuddered.
She steadily worked on the dolls, and a half hour later a powerful car engine could be heard turning into the driveway. She set aside the doll and jumped up to look out the window. Excited, she hurried out to the porch.
Clark waved as the young man at the wheel parked and cut the engine of the shiny red Corvette. It looked glaringly incongruous in their humble driveway.
So did the young man who exited the car. While Clark wore comfortable jeans and a red flannel shirt with scuffed sneakers, the driver wore charcoal-gray slacks, a black turtleneck sweater and polished Gucci loafers. While Clark’s hair was tousled and falling into his eyes, his companion looked as if he had stepped out of a famous Beverly Hills salon with his style of haircut.
“Mom! Dad!” Clark bounded up the steps and hugged his parents.
“You look good, son,” said Jonathan.
“Thanks, Dad. So do you and Mom.”
Martha kissed Clark’s cheek. “Flatterer.” Her son laughed. “And is this Mr. Wayne?”
“Yes, ma’am. Mom, Dad, this is Bruce Wayne, my new boss. Bruce, these are my parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.”
The handsome young man extended his hand with a smile. “Pleased to meet you.”
Martha judged the smile to be practiced but the man’s manners were impeccable. She wondered what kind of boss went on visits home with their employees.
He’s a bundle of contradictions. He got drunk enough a few years ago to burn down his mansion yet his Wayne Foundation is pouring billions into the repair of Metropolis and Smallville.
His handshake was firm and Martha decided that it was time to put on her hostess cap, as she liked to say.
“Would you like to come in for some pie and lemonade?” She laughed as Clark’s eyes lit up. Her boy would always enjoy a healthy appetite. “You, too, Jonathan. Painting can start after a mid-morning snack?”
“Who am I to argue?” Jonathan put his brush atop the paint can.
Once inside, Martha noticed how Bruce’s brown eyes registered every detail: the freshly-painted cabinets with shiny new knobs, the cookie jar shaped like a cheery pig, the old refrigerator humming along as magnets from the county fair, The Daily Planet, and a myriad of other souvenirs covered the top half, the ten-year-old stove and the old-fashioned table and chairs covered with a blue-and-white checked tablecloth. There was a hanging plant by the window and three potted plants on the windowsill.
Are we found wanting by the Prince of Gotham?
Well, even if they were, she didn’t care. People like Bruce Wayne couldn’t possibly know what it was like to scrape for a living or worry about where your next meal was coming from.
“Sit down, boys, and I’ll get the pie.”
Clark set the table with the everyday Regency set and plastic glasses for the lemonade. He also took out the ice-cold pitcher from the refrigerator and poured the lemonade as Martha cut generous slices of pie and set them at four places. She sat down and they all dug in.
Martha had to admit that it was one of her best efforts. The apples were from their own orchard and dusted with cinnamon and a little sugar. Clark and Jonathan loved her pies and Bruce was eating steadily.
“Mrs. Kent, this is absolutely delicious.” Bruce took a sip of lemonade.
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne.”
“All right, Bruce.”
“You’re doing good work with your Foundation,” said Jonathan as he speared a fat, juicy pie of apple with his fork.
“Thank you, sir. Gotham had the good fortune to be spared, so I set my sights on Metropolis and your town.”
Martha saw the flicker of pain in Clark’s eyes. “We’re certainly grateful for your help.”
Bruce looked a little embarrassed. Jonathan asked, “What made you decide to buy The Daily Planet?”
“Ah, well, I heard that it was on the market. A great paper like that that seemed like a good investment.”
“Even with the state of the news business?”
“Yes. The Daily Planet is on par with The New York Times. It’s too important to let die.”
“I agree.” Jonathan finished his pie and sat back in his chair. “Clark went to Metropolis after Zod’s rampage and saw the need for reporting of all kinds. He applied to the paper and was accepted.”
“From stringer to star reporter,” Bruce teased.
“Not quite yet,” Clark laughed. “I think Lois Lane has that position sewn up.”
Martha remembered the vivacious redhead who had certainly seemed enamoured of her son. She wondered why she hadn’t heard anything about Lois from Clark the past several months.
“You’ll get there,” Bruce said confidently.
Jonathan and Martha exchanged pleased looks. It never hurt to have the boss think so highly of you.
“Well, time to get to work.” Jonathan set his glass down and stood. “You ready, Clark?”
“Yes, sir.” Clark took his last bite of pie and joined his father.
“I’ll help, too.” Bruce laid aside his napkin.
“Oh, you needn’t do that,” Martha protested. “You’re a guest.”
“I don’t mind, Mrs. Kent. Though I might supervise.”
“Ha!” Clark said as he followed his father outside.
“Would you like some help cleaning up first?” Bruce asked.
“No, it’s not a big deal. Go play with the boys.”
Bruce smirked. “I will.” He went outside and soon all three were industriously working.
Martha loaded the dishwasher and was going to return to her dollmaking when the front door opened. “Um, Mrs. Kent?”
He looked sheepish. “I’ve been informed that my clothing isn’t conducive to painting.”
“Ah, yes.” Martha looked at the designer clothes and shoes. “I’m sure we can find something.” Bruce was approximately the same size as Clark, though perhaps an inch shorter and not quite as broad in the chest. “Clark’s clothes should fit you.”
She led him upstairs to Clark’s room and noticed his interested observation of the contents. The four-poster bed was maple and matched the dresser, nightstand and bookcase crammed with books. A hooked rug of rainbow colors made by Jonathan’s mother adorned the floor and one of her mother’s handmade quilts was draped over the rocking chair in the corner. Ironically she had used the colors red, yellow and blue. Pennants with the words Smallville Crows, Metropolis Monarchs and Metropolis Sharks were tacked to the wall.
It was a very modest room but was all Clark’s. It would always be here for him when he came home to visit, his haven in a chaotic world.
As to what Bruce Wayne saw when he looked at it, she had no idea. She had no frame of reference to what a silver spoon billionaire would think.
Martha opened the top dresser drawer and pulled out a blue flannel shirt. “This should fit you. There are jeans and work boots in the closet.”
Martha nodded and returned downstairs. She resumed working on her doll and ten minutes later, Bruce loped down the stairs. The shirt was a little big on him but the jeans fit. He didn’t seem to have any problems with the boots. He smiled as he went outside to join her son and husband.
There was a lot of joking and laughing heard through the window screens. She was glad that Clark and Jonathan were enjoying some father/son time. She was surprised that Bruce seemed to fit in with the bantering so well.
Not what I expected at all.
When Martha finished the doll an hour later, she smiled and set it with the rest of the dolls. “Well, gang, looks like you’re all here.”
The front door squeaked open and an amused voice said, “They look like a happy group.”
Martha looked at Bruce. “I hope so. They’re slated for the Children’s Hospital booth at the county fair.”
“They’re really cute.” Bruce smiled. “You made them all yourself?”
“Yes.” She noticed the paint on Bruce’s hand. “How are you boys doing?”
“The front is nearly done. We’re going to start on the porch next.”
“Did you need something?”
“Just to use the bathroom.”
“Right on upstairs, second door on the right. We have a small half-bath right down the hall on this floor.”
“I’ll take the upstairs. I need to stretch my legs.” Bruce looked down at the dolls. “Firefighters and all the rest are the real heroes, aren’t they?”
“The caped heroes do well.”
Bruce smiled again and jogged up the stairs. Martha watched him as she put the last shreds of cloth into her sewing basket.
Something’s up with that boy.
She went into the kitchen and poured four frosty glasses of lemonade, taking them outside on a tray. “Time for a break, boys?”
“Oh, Mom, you read my mind.” Clark slipped down the ladder and took a glass. Bruce came out of the house and happily accepted a glass, too.
“Looks like a good job so far,” Martha said as she surveyed the house.
“Glad you approve, honey.” Jonathan drank his lemonade. “I think the new color looks cool.”
“Cool?” Clark laughed. “What are you, Dad, some hipster?”
“Hey, I was cool way before you were born! Your mother was, too.”
Clark shook his head fondly. Martha noticed the sadness in Bruce’s eyes and remembered the terrible way he had lost his parents when still only a child. She carefully looked away so that he would not catch her looking at him but her mother’s instincts were stirring.
The four of them stood around for five more minutes drinking their lemonade and joking until Martha collected the empty glasses and the men returned to work.
Martha reached the screen door and turned back to ask if chicken sandwiches were all right for lunch when Clark pulled his shirt off. It was Indian summer so while the calendar read September the weather felt more like August. She felt proud of her son’s physique and noticed the look on Bruce’s face.
He was clearly impressed with Clark’s muscles but with more than a fellow male’s acknowledgment of a toned body. Admiration mixed with lust flickered in his eyes.
Shocked, Martha’s motherly instincts reared up again but this time against Bruce instead of feeling protective of him. Was Clark’s boss planning to sexually harass him? Is that why he had come all the way to Smallville and volunteered to paint? Trying to get in good with the peasants?
Bruce’s expression shuttered in the next minute as he climbed up the ladder.
“Clark, Jonathan, chicken sandwiches all right?”
“Sounds good to me, honey.”
Martha marched into the kitchen. She put the glasses in the dishwasher and slammed the door shut, the rattle of glass making her wince. She didn’t have that many glasses to spare to petulance.
She set out plates, bread and a knife and took a large red Spanish onion and plate of chicken out of the refrigerator. She chopped up the chicken with angry little slices and attacked the onion next. When she finished she threw in some lettuce and put mayonnaise in Jonathan and Clark’s sandwiches. Would Bruce prefer mustard?
Why should I care?
Martha sighed as she put down the knife. What if Bruce had admired her son’s body? She knew that Clark was an extremely good-looking man. How could she blame Bruce for looking?
The door opened. “Mom, I’m going to clean up and Dad says can you put tomato in his sandwich? I’d like some, too.”
“What about your boss?”
“Bruce. Does he want tomato and does he prefer mustard or mayo?”
“Tomato and mayo are fine.” Clark looked at her quizzically. “Mom, is everything all right?”
“Fine, dear, now go get cleaned up.”
He hesitated for a minute but headed upstairs.
& & & & & &
Maybe I imagined it.
She remembered Clark taking his shirt off and decided she had seen Bruce eyeing him up, but that just proved that he had good taste. She smiled to herself.
She also decided that she would keep a close watch on this situation. She knew that Clark was too shy and gentle to know how to handle an awkward situation with his boss. Maybe he could face down Zod, but when it came to sexual harassment…
Put the brakes on, Martha! Who says that Bruce Wayne is a creep? Just because he’s labelled a playboy doesn’t mean he would take advantage of an employee.
She liked Bruce despite herself and hoped that he was just a lonely gay guy who would look and not touch unless Clark wanted him to do so.
After lunch and clean-up, Martha went outside and picked up a paintbrush. She worked on the porch railing and listened to the banter flying around.
“Not bad painting for a city feller,” teased Jonathan.
“Thanks, Mr. Kent.” Bruce wiped his brow. “I’ll admit I haven’t done much painting before.”
“Kind of tough to reach the parapets on the castle, huh?”
“Dad,” Clark chided.
Bruce smiled. “Yes, and it’s a pain to keep the wood from rotting on the drawbridge.”
“Must be tough to keep the alligators fed in the moat.”
“They do run up a grocery bill.”
Martha shook her head as she and Clark shared a grin.
The painting went quickly as the day began to cool. After clean-up, including showers for the boys, Clark said his goodbyes as he and Bruce had only been able to spare a day.
“I’ve got my plane waiting at the airport to bring us back to Metropolis,” said Bruce.
Martha and Jonathan exchanged a glance but Jonathan shook Bruce’s hand firmly. “Thanks for helping out.”
“My pleasure.” Bruce looked at the house. “You have a very nice home here.”
“Thank you,” Martha said. She thought that she detected a note of wistfulness in his voice. The man was a bundle of contradictions.
“Thank you for the wonderful lunch, including the pie.”
Martha beamed. “You’re welcome. Oh, wait a minute.” She ran into the house and five minutes later returned outside with a plate wrapped in plastic wrap. “Here you go.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Kent.” Bruce took the plate with leftover pie. “Even Alfred can’t outdo your pie.”
Martha didn’t know why she was surprised. Of course the man would have a butler!
Clark grinned. “Come on, Bruce! We can eat that on the flight.”
Martha and Jonathan laughed. Their boy never turned down pie!
“Call us when you land!” Martha called as Clark got into the driver’s seat of the Corvette. Apparently he had negotiated driving rights to the airport.
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered as Bruce carefully set the pie on the floor of the backseat after wrapping it in a shopping bag. Bruce climbed into the passenger seat and Clark started the engine. The little red car turned onto the highway and soon disappeared.
Martha and Jonathan shaded their eyes as they watched the car meld into the prairie.
“Kind of a friendly boss/employee relationship, huh?” Jonathan asked casually.
“Yeah.” Martha lowered her hand. Had Jonathan seen what she had? “I suppose it’s good for Clark.”
“I’d say so.” Jonathan moved to gather up the paint cans. “Silver Spoon could have been a jerk.”
“Maybe he still is.” Martha smiled. “Though he did all right on the painting.”
“Yes, he did.” Jonathan looked at the house in satisfaction. “I worked up quite an appetite, woman!”
Martha laughed. “Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and peas okay?”
As Jonathan put away the paint cans in the barn, Martha went inside her freshly-painted house. The mystery of Bruce Wayne would have to wait for another day.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Red sky at morning,
Streaked with gold,
A glorious show,
For the brave
And the bold.
“Red Sky At Morning”