Genres: Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: Bruce learns a startling fact about Clark’s family.
Date Of Completion: October 1, 2015
Date Of Posting: December 17, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1470
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Said to the Peasant,
Is quite pleasant.
Perhaps we should
On plump pheasant?
Replied the Peasant,
The honor is mine,
As it is my wish
Lady Jane Lambeth
"The Prince And The Peasant"
Bruce left the A.I. chamber and walked along the crystal floor, surrounded by beautiful crystalline walls that reflected blue, white, yellow, red, pink, violet, and green, along with a few colors he had never seen before.
He wore black pants and a wine-red cable-knit sweater, his feet shod in comfortable old loafers. Despite the A.I. making the temperature comfortable here in the Fortress of Solitude for a human in this frozen Arctic waste, Bruce still felt a little chilly. He knew it was all in his head, surrounded by cold crystal and endless snows outside the windows, but for once he decided not to master it and just let it go.
His mouth quirked. What would Dick or Alfred say to that?
He walked into the living room, for want of a better word. The furniture was more Midwestern American than Kryptonian. There was a comfortable couch with a red-yellow-and-blue afghan tossed over the back (knitted by Martha). There were two overstuffed chairs, a coffee table, and stuffed bookcases, all made of durable pine. The crystalline flowers on the coffee table were a nice Kryptonian touch.
A wide picture window offered a magnificent view of the Arctic outside the crystalline walls. Bruce remembered occasions watching the Northern Lights from this couch with Clark.
“Kal-El is in the zoo right now, Bruce Wayne.”
“Thank you.” Bruce wandered into the next room, a small dining room with table and chairs and a small sideboard. A tapestry depicting an event in the history of the House of El hung on the wall.
He glanced into the kitchen but decided to wait for Clark to join him before puttering around that room. He knew better than to go into the zoo without extensive preparations. Besides, he had some thinking to do.
Bruce drifted back to the living room and sat down on the couch. The light show was no Aurora Borealis but would do.
This could be called the parlor if Clark really wanted to do the Midwestern roots thing.
He was in deep thought mode by the time Clark entered the living room. The Kryptonian smiled. “What are you thinking about?”
Clark laughed. “You never think just about ‘stuff’. You always have a topic that you can concentrate on.”
“So I don’t daydream?”
Clark’s look said it all. “Nope.” He rubbed his hands together. “Ready for some lunch?”
Bruce followed Clark into the kitchen. His companion was dressed casually in jeans and red flannel shirt, a Clark Kent Special.
It was fairly quick as Clark whipped up turkey sandwiches on wheat rolls with tomato, lettuce, and a touch of mayo with a side helping of cold dill potato salad.
“There’s some beer in the fridge,” Clark said as he cut the sandwiches.
“Beer at the Arctic, eh?” asked Bruce in amusement as he opened the refrigerator. The A.I. called it a refrigeration unit. Alfred would call it magnificent. It was not overly large but had space inside and all kinds of compartments for meat, fruit and vegetables. It resembled one of those postwar ‘50s refrigerators with all the wonders of modern design when American society still believed in a better future.
“That’s right.” Clark picked up the plates. “Could you grab the salad bowl?”
“Sure thing.” Bruce took out two bottles of beer and closed the refrigerator.
Bruce followed Clark to the dining room with the salad bowl. It always fascinated Bruce that Clark had insisted upon humanizing the private living quarters in the Fortress. He could have lived here without food and water for a very long time, and could have gone without sleeping far longer than any human, but he was determined to keep to his Earth upbringing with him in this alien place. Therefore there was a comfortable bedroom, a cheerful kitchen, and that relaxing living room. Clark could have shed his secret identity years ago and simply been Superman 24/7, but the man needed social interaction and connection to the humanity he served.
They sat at the table and began eating, Bruce glad that Clark had been the chef.
“Mmm, this is your mom’s potato salad.”
“Her recipe. I made it.”
“Well, aren’t you the fancy cook?”
Clark laughed. “I know. I’m not a Prince, just the scullery maid.”
“Speaking of that…
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were royalty?”
Clark paused in the act of bringing a scoop of potato salad to his mouth. “What?”
“You heard me.” Bruce took a swig from his bottle of beer.
“What, was I switched at birth with the Prince of Monrovia?” Clark asked with a chuckle as picked up one half of his sandwich.
“I read about the House of El.”
“Yeah?” Clark chewed thoughtfully.
“Pretty impressive. I didn’t know that your House was the most prominent one on Krypton.”
“So they tell me.”
“You’ve always said you’re just a simple farmboy next to Diana and me.”
“She’s a real Princess, and you’re the Prince of Gotham. With royal blood among your ancestors?”
“A royal chieftain all the way back before the Middle Ages.” Bruce gestured with his bottle. “Your bloodline is ancient.”
Clark put his sandwich down. “I suppose it is.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell Diana or me?”
Clark shrugged. “I didn’t think it was important.” At Bruce’s raised eyebrow, he poked his fork into his potato salad. “Look, you know me.”
Clark looked down at his plate. “I’ve always been comfortable growing up working-class. Being a farmer’s son kept me close to the land, and I appreciated Earth even more.” He looked up through long lashes. “You know what I might have done if I’d been born human?”
“No, what?” asked Bruce quietly.
“I always figured on two possible futures. Since I love writing, I might still have gone to Metropolis and joined The Daily Planet. I enjoy the journalism profession, scooping other papers and Lois, sometimes working with her…” He chuckled.
“What’s the second scenario?”
Clark took a swallow of his beer. “I would have stayed in Smallville and taken over the family farm.”
“What about your writing?”
“I’m sure I could have contributed to The Smallville Herald. I do occasionally now.” Clark’s eyes sparkled. “Who knows? I might have written the Great American Novel from the heartland.”
“You staying in the sticks? I don’t believe that.”
A hurt expression passed over Clark’s face. “Sometimes the sticks beats a crumbling old city.”
Bruce’s mouth nearly dropped his mouth open. He quickly realized that he had stepped over a line. “Listen, I…”
“Is that why you were glad you found that information about the House of El? That I wouldn’t be a hick from the sticks anymore? That I’d be more on your level with some royal bloodline?”
Bruce felt a little guilty. “Um, of course not.” It was Clark’s turn to arch an eyebrow. “All right, maybe…”
“You’re a snob,” Clark said dryly.
“Pretty much,” Bruce admitted as he took a sip of beer. He was relieved to hear Clark laugh.
You dodged a bullet with that one, Brucie.
Clark finished his sandwich. “If I’d grown up on Krypton in my family’s House, I might even have become used to always being in the spotlight, maybe gotten used to money and power…” Clark sighed. “Though biology aside, I think I’m much happier as a farmer’s son. I can’t see myself as some powerful family’s scion. It just isn’t me.” He smiled at Bruce. “I’m just better a collecting boyfriends who are the princely sort.”
“Boyfriends as in plural?”
Clark merely smiled. Bruce decided he deserved that.
“All right, I’ll call Diana and we’ll get together for lunch next week, a couple of crowned heads and a farmboy.”
Clark’s smile lit up the room like the Northern Lights. “All right, sweetheart.”
After lunch they cleaned up. With Clark in the kitchen, Bruce gazed at the tapestry in the dining room. It depicted a battlefield with armored men on horseback with a castle in the background decorated with the El crest. It could have been Medieval Earth, causing Bruce to wonder if humanoid civilizations developed in parallel ways.
He saw the lead knight with the familiar ‘S’ insignia on his chest. He wondered if Clark was right. Would Kal-El have been as shy and sweet as Clark Kent? Uncomfortable with being a Crown Prince? Preferring humbler roots?
We’ll never know, but a humble Clark Kent works for me. Bruce sauntered into the kitchen with a patrician swagger. Someone’s got to be humble around here.