Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Ollie Queen, Hal/Steve, Lex Luthor, Madame Zee
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. The wealthy freeman Bruce Wayne acquires a highly-prized pleasure slave whom has fallen in love with him…but can the Prince of Gotham ever return that love? And will it all be moot as a weak abolitionist movement slowly gathers strength while the Galactic Empire remains in a perpetual state of Cold War? The entire series can be found here.
Categories: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: During a night of revelry, Destiny’s Mists sparkle rainbow-bright.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): May 19, 2007/June 7, 2007
Date Of Posting: October 6, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2573
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The stuff of Legends
“The Book Of Shadows”
CHOCOLATE, TAROT, AND CRYSTAL BALLS
The crowds were noisy in their excitement, costumed or beaded or both. Bruce and his party were not in costume but happily applied glittery face paint or grabbed beads from gaudily-costumed men on stilts or from the floats that paraded down Whiskey Street.
Street minstrels danced up and down the streets, lutes and guitars and tambourines playing as vendors enticed customers to their booths and tents set up in the open air. All manners of goods were available from on-planet and off: glittery Salem jewelry (including pentagrams), Rigellian fire crystals, Virillian swords, Native American dreamcatchers, Celtic crosses, Egyptian ankhs. Clothing of every hue and texture fluttered in displays outside the tents, and Bruce approved of the black silken cloaks at one tent.
As in Salem, the local Wiccan community was out in full force at Samhain, Witches’ Halloween. They were the vendors of many of the wares.
As the Wayne group strolled along the streets, the smells of fried dough, pizza, chicken, and dozens of other foods carried on the clear night air. They stopped by a booth selling sweets, the chocolate bubbling away in steel pots, the pungent aroma rich and delicious.
Bruce watched in amusement as Clark inhaled the tantalizing scent. He had discovered his slave’s fondness for chocolate and indulged him as often as he could.
“Would you like some, Clark?”
Clark’s smile lit up the world. “Yes, please.”
Bruce bought a large peanut butter-and-chocolate cup for Clark and asked his guests their preferences. Delighted, they named them and Bruce purchased each individual candies. He also bought a box of smaller hand-dipped chocolates as did Ollie and Hal, and added a box of Belgian chocolates for Alfred.
“Master, aren’t you going to have some?” Clark asked as Bruce handed him the boxes.
“I suppose I will. What do you suggest?”
Delighted to be asked his opinion, Clark carefully looked over the assortment. The middle-aged woman behind the counter looked on in amusement.
“I can recommend what I have, but also the buttercream and the lemon-filled.”
“Dark chocolate, of course.”
“Of course.” Clark’s whole demeanor suggested sparkling eyes behind his glasses. As it was, the sapphire-blue glitter on his face winked and sparkled.
I wonder what he would look like with kohl or glitter around his eyes, Bruce thought.
The notion nearly floored him. Maybe it would work with his costume tomorrow night…
“Which one would you like?”
Clark cocked his head.
Dipped in dark chocolate. Hand-dipped!
Bruce blinked and looked at Ollie’s hand on his arm. “Wha…What?”
“Hey, ol’ buddy, you okay?”
“Looks like you were in dreamland,” Lex added.
“Just lost my train of thought.” Why did he have a sudden craving for Oreos?*
“Do you want to have some of my chocolate?” Ollie asked. “Dinah wouldn’t mind a missing piece from the box.”
“Uh, no, thank you. The buttercream and the lemon-filled, please, ma’am.”
The vendor packaged the chocolates in small white paper cups and handed both to him. He thanked her and paid.
As they walked away from the booth, Bruce bit into into buttercream, the rich flavor melting on his tongue. The sweetness of the light and dark pleased him.
More walking, more revelry, the jangle of beads and the fluttering of feathers. The smell of sausage sizzling was sharp in the air, joined by the mouthwatering scents of fresh Atlantic seafood, roast pumpkin seeds and cranberry bread. Off-world exotica included Aldebaran shellmouths, Denebian roast boar and Martian sweetcakes. Bruce and his group sampled a variety of wares, including pumpkin bread warm from the oven.
Throughout their sojourn Clark stayed close to Bruce. Bruce had explained how unscrupulous thieves would steal slaves in large crowds such as this if Master and slave weren’t careful.
“Don’t get separated from me,” Bruce had warned. “Or if I’m otherwise occupied, stay close to one of our guests.”
Clark had nodded, obedient as usual. Bruce considered himself lucky. Clark was usually eager to please him, only occasionally showing flashes of rebellion. When he ‘punished’ Clark, he preferred it to be a bedroom game, not a genuine punishment for disobeying his orders.
His protective instincts were in full force. He would sometimes grasp Clark’s arm, keeping him close, or let Clark be so close that he was like a second skin.
His lips curved as he used what the tabloids would call his ‘Bat-radar’ to keep his senses alert. No way in hell would he let someone hurt Clark. The slave thieves were the worst, but ordinary people often took delight in humiliating the manacled among them.
Seems to suit some types to go after those who can’t fight back.
Clark’s dark glasses worn at night were the only giveaway that he was a slave. His manacles and collar were hidden by his clothes, and hopefully his beauty was well-hidden, too.
Bruce watched as Clark absorbed everything. So often secluded on the estate, Clark always welcomed a chance to go out into the world. His loss of memory made so many things new to him. Bruce enjoyed watching his companion’s reactions as he soaked up the atmosphere.
They walked by a black-and-gold striped tent with a sign proclaiming: ‘Madame Zee—Tarot and Palm Readings, Crystal Ball Divinations’.
“Now this is what I need…a Tarot reading,” Ollie said, tapping one green-glittered cheek.
His friends teased him but he waved them off as he entered the sparkling tent.
“Shouldn’t take long,” Steve said.
“How do you know?” Lex asked in amusement.
“Hey, I’ve had readings done before.”
“Care to share?” Bruce was as amused as Lex.
“Sure. I’m going to meet a tall, dark-haired, beautiful woman with the strength and heart of a lioness.” Blue glitter sprinkled on his face and in his hair matched his sparkling eyes.
Laughter rippled around the group.
“Oh, yeah, that is definitely your future,” Lex grinned.
Hal shook his head fondly at his friend while Bruce smirked. Steve merely grinned.
Twenty minutes later Ollie emerged from the tent with a smile on his face.
“So, what are the predictions?” Lex asked.
“Hey, I can’t tell you my reading. That’s like giving away your birthday wish.” More grins, then Ollie tapped Bruce on the shoulder. “Why don’t you try it?”
Bruce smirked. “I don’t believe in soothsayers.”
“So what have you got to lose, then?”
Bruce looked around at the amused faces and thought, What the hell! He grabbed Clark’s arm and ceremonially handed him over to Lex.
“Protect,” he said quietly, and Lex nodded as he took Clark’s arm. As soon as the ritual was completed, Bruce disappeared into the tent.
Beads jangled and the smell of incense and patchouli was strong. He allowed his eyes to adjust to the dark, a small candle flickering on a small table. The light illuminated rich hangings on the walls, woven with Celtic symbols. A tall, hand-carved staff was set in the corner, and a black-painted chair was set in front of the table.
The table itself was set with the candle, a crystal ball resting on a small pewter dragon base, a deck of Tarot cards, and a jeweled wand.
Less than thirty seconds after Bruce had entered the tent, a flap at the back was parted and a young woman stepped out.
She was dressed in traditional Gypsy garb: a full, peasant skirt; a low-cut, squash-colored bodice; dozens of gold and silver bracelets, necklaces, and rings; large gold hoop earrings; a scarf around her head, and long, blond hair tumbling over her shoulders. Tiny sprinkles of yellow glitter dusted her face around her piercing blue eyes.
He was a little surprised at the hair color. Dark tresses were the usual color.
Oh, well. It’s just a costume.
“Please, sit.” She indicated the chair. “Lord Wayne.”
He wasn’t surprised that she knew him. He was well-known on Earth and throughout the Empire. As the richest man on Earth, he was accustomed to people knowing him without benefit of introduction.
The ‘Lord’ reference fit in with her background. Certain people felt in their bones the truth of his lineage.
“Anything in particular you are seeking?” she asked as she took a seat.
“No, nothing specific.”
Zee took her pack of cards and shuffled them, then started laying them out. Bruce watched, noting the pack was designed as a Medieval royal court. Silence continued except for the sound of cards being flipped.
The soothsayer frowned. She tapped a card. “A long journey is in progress, started long ago.”
Bruce said nothing. All vague, generic sayings.
“Blood, shadows, a life of purpose…” She laid out two more cards “…a brightness dispelling the darkness…” she frowned again “…a break in the journey…a storm…”
Bruce had seen many strange things as he had journeyed through Asia, studying to become the Batman. Perhaps this woman was really a psychic.
Or perhaps a charlatan?
Bruce doubted the latter, since she would have been screened by the Gotham Witches’ Council.
Still, she was being very vague. He didn’t put much stock in what she had to say. He relaxed as he listened.
Zee laid out another card. “Ah!” Her face brightened. “A blossoming. Happiness shall be yours, m’lord.”
“Happiness as in love?” asked an amused Bruce.
“Far in the future?”
She studied the card. “Not too far in the future.”
Bruce knew then she was less than a stellar psychic. He had no potential partners on the horizon that he was aware of right now. Unless he fell in love at first sight, this prediction was going to go by the boards.
Her hand hovered over the cards, then a glow appeared in her crystal ball. The glow reflected in the dragon’s ruby eyes.
Zee pushed aside the cards, sliding the ball over between her and Bruce. She put her hand several inches above the crystal, watching the swirling mists within the sphere. Slowly she rotated her hand, bracelets jangling.
“I see…the darkness again…shadows…dark wings…”
Bruce tensed. He crossed his arms, wondering if she was really seeing his Secret or making a guess for dramatic effect. Gotham and dark wings went together, as in gargoyles. She continued to speak, punctuated by the clink of jewelry.
“…events…quiet…a great meeting, as told in the cards…sanctuary…peace…a blaze of light…a love of which Legends are made…a new light, bright and airy…child of your heart…Rainbow’s Mists…” The crystal’s mists indeed sparkled with various colors, beautiful and mesmerizing “…a great crusade…flying…wings beating…crimson, gold, and green…a great Destiny has been met, with a shattering of order…truth, justice, and…a whole new world is born…”
The rainbow light sparkled on Zee’s jewelry, her face illuminated as she concentrated.
“…Rainbow’s Freedom…” she murmured.
The patchouli and incense seemed even heavier in that moment, Bruce feeling a prickle of discomfort.
Zee’s hand slowed, the bracelets’ jangling as soft as tiny bells now. The rainbow mists gently dissipated, leaving clear crystal. The mystic blinked as if gathering her senses. She leaned back in her chair.
“Are you all right, Madame?”
She looked at Bruce, her eyes an indefinable color in the flickering candlelight. Suddenly she grabbed his hand. His first instinct was to pull away but he allowed her touch. One red-nailed finger trailed down the palm of his hand, her voice steady as she said, “Your line stretches far back, m’lord. It also portends great things. Your Destiny could change the Universe.”
Bruce smiled. “I don’t believe in Destiny, Madame Zee. I believe our choices make our Destiny.”
A small smile curved Zee’s lips. “As you wish, m’lord.” She gently released his hand. “Know this, however: you are destined to cleave unto the other half of your soul.”
“Will I know it?” Bruce asked in amusement.
“If you open your heart.”
Bruce rose and paid the mystic, admiration for her showmanship in his eyes.
Worth every penny, he thought.
When he re-emerged from the tent, he was met by expectant faces.
“I am destined for great things,” he said haughtily, running his hand through his hair, purple glitter shining through the dark tresses.
Laughter burst out.
“What, President of the United States?” Lex asked.
“Emperor of the Empire?” teased Hal.
“Lord Emperor of the Universe?” Ollie snickered.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Bruce asked, keeping up the act. He walked over to Lex, who held out Clark’s arm, transferring protection back to Bruce. Bruce’s hand closed around his slave’s arm just above the bracelet. The metal sparkled its rainbow colors.
“Come, my Prize. I think I saw a frosted pumpkin cupcake with your name on it.”
Clark’s smile was a burst of light and Bruce felt happy.
& & & & & &
It was a quick patrol that night, just enough to show the flag. He allowed the predictions to roll around in his mind, more amused than anything else.
All this talk of darkness, brightness, child of my heart, Destiny…
There were Wtiches with true clairvoyance, but Madame Zee had spoken too much in generalities.
The only Destiny I have is to protect Gotham.
A whoosh! of wind fluttered his cape. “Hello, Arrow,” he said without turning around.
“Hello, Batman.” The cheerful voice irritated the Dark Knight. “How’s things?”
“Fine.” As Green Arrow walked into his line of vision, the wavy blond hair attracted his attention. It was thick; it curled like some medieval archer; he was putting his leg up on the wall…
Batman blinked, then smiled.
& & & & & &
Ollie jogged through the woods, emerging onto the manicured lawn of Wayne Manor. He kept to the shadows, careful that no one was watching at the windows, and shimmied up a venerable old maple tree. He slipped into the window of his bedroom.
As his boots set on the polished floor, a voice came out of the darkness. “Hello, Ollie.”
Ollie nearly jumped but faced the man sitting in the chair in the dark corner, fingers steepled.
“How’d you get to Gotham?”
“By train,” Ollie said lightly as he removed his beard and mustache.
“I meant for your patrols. I’ve seen the newscasts about your visits to Gotham.”
“Really?” Ollie removed his gloves and armbands. He bent down to remove his boots. “I thought it was because…” he looked up “…you were patrolling with me.”
Shock, then irritation crossed his old friend’s face. “How?” he ground out.
Ollie let his smile remain easy. “I heard the Batmobile leave one night. I put it together: the Batman and all his gadgets needing money to back them up, the dedication to Gotham, height and weight the same, that chin…”
Bruce’s glare elicited a laugh from Ollie. “It’s okay, Bruce, all the clues wouldn’t mean diddly-squat unless it was an old friend who put them together.” He waved his hand downward. “I assume the Batcave is under the ancestral manse?”
Ollie laughed again. “Relax, your secret’s safe with me.” Green eyes suddenly grew hard as emeralds. “I assume the same for me.”
“Of course.” Bruce’s voice was laced with pride in the dark. “Honor Served.”
Ollie bowed. “Honor Served.”
Bruce’s midnight-blue eyes glittered as a small smile curved his lips. He rose from the chair.