Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Ollie Queen, Hal/Steve, Lex Luthor
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: The Harvest Ball is a glittering success on a magical night.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): June 7, 2007
Date Of Posting: October 16, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1887 + 1931 (Total: 3698)
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All Hallows’ Eve,
No time to grieve.
In the night
Masks always hide,
Prejudice and pride,
But love is strong
And doesn’t take long,
To be the heart’s guide.
“The Book Of Shadows”
NIGHT OF MAGIC
The Harvest Ball was held at the Gotham Art Museum. Tiny yellow candles glowed in the windows and the walkway was lined with grinning Jack O’Lanterns. The swish of silk on sidewalks and the clink of bangled jewelry mingled with laughter as Gotham’s elite arrived.
The press was there to cover the event, cameras whirring and clicking as professional photographers took dozens of pictures. Questions were shouted out but the partygoers simply nodded and smiled, or ignored the ‘press peons’.
The Wayne party was noticed immediately, though no one knew who they were behind the masks, Bruce smiling as he kept Clark close to him. Sharp eyes spotted the collar and manacles and more lightbulbs and solar sticks flashed. Bruce bantered with the press, sliding his hand down to the small of Clark’s back, rubbing up and down.
“So, who’s in your party?” shouted a woman.
“Now, you know I can’t reveal that,” Bruce answered, disguising his voice just enough to keep his Wayne identity a secret. Since other Masters and Mistresses had brought their slaves, Bruce was confident that he could pull it off.
The whole point of the Harvest Ball was to remain anonymous as part of the fun, and Bruce enjoyed the opportunity to be out in public and not play the Rich Boy persona.
Being a Lord of the Manor could be so wearing at times.
He guided Clark and his guests inside.
The foyer of the Art Museum was decorated in orange-and-black, the harvest theme in evidence with pumpkins and gourds set around the polished marble floor, stairs, and railing. A table with refreshments was set up for the cocktail hour.
Like everyone else, Bruce liked to try and guess who was behind the masks, but unlike everyone else, he did it as an exercise in detection.
He also felt more relaxed here than out on the street. While Clark remained close, Bruce didn’t feel as paranoid about it. He would allow his slave to leave his side, figuring that it was safe.
General topics of conversation were on the docket since masked identities prevented more personal talk. Throughout the course of the night people would correctly guess some of the partygoers’ identities and lapse into more specific conversation, but that was not everyone. Some of the guests remained mysterious all night.
Bruce didn’t care if he was found out. He had another mask that was far more important and hiding who he was took a toll on him. If someone guessed who he was tonight, what of it?
He looked fondly at Clark, who now knew the truth. He could be an invaluable ally like Alfred. He watched as Clark bent down to pick up his napkin. He also had other invaluable assets.
“Beauty and brains,” Ollie whispered in his ear.
Bruce smiled. “I can’t argue with that.” As Clark straightened up, Ollie said, “No worries about him, Bruce. If necessary, Dinah and I will take care of him.”
Ollie’s smile was infectious. His magician’s cape swirled as he moved to stand in front of Bruce. “Dinah completed the deal for a store here in Gotham.”
“Really? That’s great!”
“Yes, well, she’s originally from here as you know. Her dad was partners with Jim Gordon…” Ollie trailed off. “I’m sorry, Bruce.”
“Don’t be.” Bruce’s smile was reassuring. “I can think of Jim sometimes without thinking of that night.”
As Bruce walked away, Clark came up to Ollie. “Sir, what did he mean?”
Ollie looked at Clark. “Jim Gordon and Arthur Drake were the two beat cops who responded to the shooting that night in Crime Alley.” He didn’t need to explain what shooting. Ollie put his hand on a sad Clark’s shoulder. “It’s all right, Clark.”
“It…it pains him so.”
Ollie was saddened, too. “I know,” he said softly.
Clark heard something in his voice. “Mr. Queen?”
Ollie sighed. “I lost my parents young, too.”
Clark put his hand over Ollie’s. “I’m sorry.”
Affection swelled up in Ollie. “Thank you, Clark.”
Clark nodded and released Ollie’s hand. The blond asked, “So, how’s it feel being a farmer?”
Clark smiled. “It feels right.”
“Good!” he leaned forward conspiratorially. “Fresh off the farm should intrigue a city boy like Bruce.” Clark blushed. Ollie laughed and squeezed Clark’s arm, giving him a wink.
“Hey, hands off, Magician!”
Bruce’s voice was teasing, but Ollie thought he detected a firmness that indicated his friend’s possessiveness.
“Now, General, I wouldn’t spirit off your farmboy.”
Bruce’s eyes narrowed for a second, then he smiled. “No, of course not.” He came forward and took Clark’s hand. Clark’s entire body language spoke of adoration.
Ollie’s eyes widened slightly. That wasn’t the look of a slave grateful to his Master. That was the look of a man in love with another man.
Oh, poor Clark. He’ll never be requited.
Ollie felt sadness. Clark would be far better off falling in love with another slave. He hadn’t seen any signs of Bruce being in love with Clark. He treated him with affection and just enough respect that a Master could have for a treasured slave, but…
Ollie frowned. There were indications, though, of feelings on Bruce’s part beyond affection.
I’m not sure what to hope for here. Bruce and Clark would be happy together, but they would have to hide who they were. Bruce would lose a lot of respect if people knew he was actually in love with his pleasure slave.
He sighed. Society sure made life difficult.
& & & & & &
Bruce escorted Clark to the refreshment table. “What would you like?”
“I should be serving you, Master.”
Bruce waved his hand. “Pshaw. You just tell me what you want.”
Bemused, Clark obeyed, and Bruce scooped up the pastries Clark had requested and presented the plate to his companion with a flourish. Clark took possession of it, wondering at his Master’s mood. He saw Ollie smiling from a few feet away. Clark’s lips curved into a smile as Bruce led him to a chair to sit.
“Having a good time?” Bruce asked, caressing his slave’s neck.
“Yes, Master.” Even though his eyes were hidden, he allowed himself to give Bruce a coquettish look and he wasn’t surprised to see Bruce register his amorous body language. Enjoying the public flirting, an art a good pleasure slave should know, Clark allowed his genuine love to fuel it. His gaze of adoration was safely hidden by his mask.
Bruce did cut a dashing figure as Mad Anthony Wayne. Clark could easily see his Master as a leader of men in such a pressure-packed situation as war.
He ate a sweet chocolate pastry, his mind drifting to Bruce’s other costume. He would have to request seeing Bruce in black cape and cowl. He also wanted a tour of the Batcave.
Anticipating such pleasures, Clark relaxed and enjoyed his refreshments.
& & & & & &
The Egyptian display was opened to the partygoers as a segue into the ballroom. Some partiers merely strolled through on their way to the ballroom while others enjoyed the exhibit. There were busts, statuettes, Canopic jars, and a tall mummy’s case, the beautifully-carved and painted sarcophagus attracting attention.
Clark noticed a sleek black cat statue carved from pure ebony, its collar set with precious sapphires and rubies. The eyes winked in glittering topaz.
“Beautiful,” he murmured.
Steve appeared at his elbow, careful to keep his shield close to his body so as not to knock anything over. “I agree.” Steve’s blue eyes gazed at the statue, its imperious beauty an ancient jewel in the collection.
Clark glanced over at Steve. “So how does it feel to be the living embodiment of America?”
Steve grinned. “It feels good.” His smile faded. “People are quick to call others heroes.”
Clark tiled his head. “Are you talking about the Virillian War?”
Steve’s eyes held a faraway look. “Something like that.” He blinked and seemed to be back. “Isn’t all this great? It’s such an incredible feeling to be in the presence of objects from 4,000 years ago!”
“Are you a student of ancient civilizations?”
“I guess I am. I’ve always found societies like Egypt, Greece, and Rome to be interesting. They gave us so much.” Steve’s gloved hand caressed his shield. “The ancient warrior traditions came down to us, and we still honor them today.”
“Each civilization had its own special attributes.”
“Yes.” They moved on to the next object, a water jug with shards missing. “Egypt conquered most of Africa while building a civilization dedicated to the afterlife; Greece honored the intellectual and philosophical while celebrating what’s known as ‘Greek love’, and Rome?” Steve’s smile was almost predatory. “Rome conquered the known world and except for Alexander of Macedonia and his troops, were the greatest soldiers the Ancient World ever knew.”
Clark tilted his head. This was a side of Steve he had not seen before, yet it was not surprising. The quiet blond had racked up an impressive array of medals for heroism in wartime. Appreciation of the art of war would be part of him.
The guests moved on to the enormous ballroom, massive chandeliers glittering from the frescoed ceilings, prisms of lights dancing on the shining floor. A larger buffet was set up at one end of the room with small round tables draped in black-and-orange arranged at the edges of the dance floor. Candles of the same colors flickered on the tables for those preferring not to dance.
“Captain, care to show off your grace and style?” asked Hal, smiling as he bowed.
“I would be delighted, sir.”
Steve smiled at Clark and allowed Hal to lead him out onto the dance floor, the prisms glittering off Hal’s silver suit. They made a charming couple as they danced, Clark watching with pleasure and a touch of wistfulness. He jumped slightly as a hand rested on his shoulder.
“Care to dance?” Bruce asked, a smile on his lips.
Bruce gallantly took Clark’s hand and led him out onto the dance floor. Clark felt clumsy at first, but then relaxed enough to let his natural grace take over.
Bruce was an excellent dancer and Clark’s heart filled with happiness. If all he was fated to have was this, it would serve to be enough. He would rather spend his life with this man in the throes of unrequited love than anywhere else. The more he observed Bruce and spent time with him, the more convinced he was that he felt genuine love and not merely gratitude.
Bruce was the perfect partner: graceful, charming and considerate. Clark loved the aura of power and lineage that surrounded Bruce Wayne, Prince of Gotham. If he had been free he would have been drawn to it.
Stars twinkled through the tall windows, a full moon shining down upon the well-manicured grounds. Clark allowed himself to feel romance, forgetting for a short space of time the manacles that enclosed his wrists and neck.
Clark’s heart was happy.
& & & & & &