Pairings/Characters: Clark/Bruce, Dick, Douglas Parker
General Summary: After recently being outed by the press, Clark and Bruce visit Smallville with Dick.
Summary: Clark and Bruce go into Smallville for the first time as an openly gay couple. Dick is treated to ice cream. :)
Date Of Completion: December 15, 2007
Date Of Posting: December 19, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2310
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for the World’s Finest Gift Exchange. When I saw Prompt F41 (Clark and Bruce’s first visit to Smallville as an open couple (your choice whether Clark’s parents know about the relationship already). Bonus points for including a range of reactions from the inhabitants of Smallville, not just happy ones. Rating: Any.), I knew that it would fit in perfectly with this series. This is a prequel to Heartland I: "Truth, Justice, And The...", and you need not have read the first story to enjoy this one, as this story was written especially for the WFGE. As this prequel takes place several years before the events of Heartland I, Dick is around 11 years old in this story.
I hope this is what the requester was looking for. I enjoyed writing it! :)
All chapters can be found here.
THE BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS
Bruce parked the Porsche in front of the general store, people openly staring at the sleek car. They would have taken the truck but Jonathan had been using it. Clark seemed unaffected by the attention, however, getting out of the passenger side and walking into the store, Bruce and Dick following along behind him.
Clark had worn jeans and a light-blue shirt with a red jacket, his smile as bright as always as he greeted everyone in the store. Bruce had changed into a pair of black pants and blazer, his dark-blue shirt expensive but not showy. Dick wore jeans and a yellow sweatshirt.
Bruce immediately sensed discomfort on the part of some people, open curiosity in others, and caught a disapproving look by a middle-aged woman who quickly picked up her purchases and walked out.
“Mr. Merckel. Glad to see you,” Clark said with a smile as he held his hand out.
The elderly man blinked, then took Clark’s hand and shook it. “Hello, Clark.” He didn’t look in Bruce’s direction.
An elderly woman clomped forward with her cane. “Bruce Wayne! Nice to see you again, young man!”
“Hello, Mrs. Abernathy.” Bruce shook her hand, careful of her fragile bones.
“Clark, so nice to see you visiting Jonathan and Martha!”
“It’s always nice to come home, Mrs. Abernathy.”
“And you are Dick Grayson, aren’t you, young man?”
Pleased that the woman remembered him, Dick nodded and shook her hand.
“Mr. Merckel, Dad said that you had some supplies in that he had ordered. He gave me this list…”
While Clark conducted business, Dick wandered around looking at old-fashioned penny candy and all kinds of merchandise. The town had a department store but this general store held items that the ‘fancy’ store didn’t usually carry. A young woman was looking over kitchenware and smiled at Bruce in a friendly manner, relaxing him.
Some awkwardness was to be expected. After all, a lot of the coverage of his and Clark’s relationship was on the tabloid side.
And he had always been known as the ‘city feller’ around here. Outsiders were always suspect to some degree, even people who had lived in the town and surrounding countryside for decades. If you weren’t born and raised here, you were from ‘away’, and Bruce was as ‘away’ as you could get.
He still wished that they hadn’t been outed. It was a harsh way for people to learn the truth.
“I’ll get that list of items put together for you, Clark.”
“Great. I’ll be back for them in a few hours. We’re going to eat over at the Bluebird.”
“Good, good. It’ll all be waiting for you when you get back.” The storekeeper looked at Bruce and smiled, more relaxed now.
Clark thanked him and he and Bruce and Dick left the store.
“Ready for some lunch?” Clark asked.
“Yeah!” Dick said and Bruce had to smile.
“So, the Bluebird Diner, eh?”
“You like that name?”
Bruce couldn’t help it. He laughed. “I’ve been there before. Pure Americana, my friend.”
“Ah, but it’s the true Americana. Not what city folk think is the real thing.”
Bruce smirked as they walked down the street, Clark happily greeting old friends and acquaintances, Bruce keeping a smile on his face but also a wary eye. Most people were being polite, some with genuine delight at seeing Clark, but Bruce noticed that one man crossed the street a block away. Had he done so deliberately to avoid them?
Clark and Dick would say you’re being paranoid, Bruce.
The Bluebird Diner was starting to get busy with the lunch crowd. A classic old diner, the legend, ‘Worcester, Mass., 1906’ was stamped into the metal structure, the New England city the headquarters of the Worcester Lunch Car Company, which had built many of the country’s diners back in the day. A handpainted sign in blue-and-white announced the name of the restaurant.
Inside, people were busy chattering in the booths and at the counter, Clark leading them to a corner booth. A local radio station was playing over the loudspeaker, and the shiny chrome was classic diner décor. The requisite pie under a clear plastic cover was set on the counter between the napkin dispensers, and working men in jeans and coveralls mixed with workers from offices and the department store. A group of old ladies giggled as they went by their booth, cheerily greeting Clark, and most of the people in the place seemed unconcerned with their presence except for a smile or wave thrown their way.
They had no sooner settled into the corner booth when the cook gestured to Clark. Around fifty, he was burly and wearing an apron, the classic look of a diner cook.
“Excuse me, I have to go talk to Sam.”
Clark slipped out of the booth, then Dick hopped up. “Bathroom,” he said, and bounced away.
Bruce watched both of his boys go: his irrepressible, energetic child and his sunshine lover. A smile played around his lips.
He idly read through the selections on the tabletop jukebox, waiting for a menu to be placed on the chrome-edged table, when he heard, “It’s a disgrace, really.”
He froze, then continued his casual perusal. The booths on either side of him were empty, but the next booth over held three people: two men and a woman, all middle-aged, the men dressed as farmers and the woman in a dress that suggested a clerk or office worker.
The hubbub of the diner covered their voices to other diners, but Bruce had very good hearing, and he half-suspected that they didn’t care if he heard them.
“Rich guy corrupted a good, decent boy,” said the woman.
One of the men scratched stubble and drawled, “Kid was always a little on the weird side.”
“Maybe so, but he dated that pretty Lana Lang when he was here, and he’s partnered with that Lois Lane, isn’t he? Why would he go all queer and start dating a man?”
Beard Stubble shrugged. “Ya never can tell with a guy sometimes. He was always a timid sort.”
The other man, stockier than his companion and with white hair, scowled. “Can you imagine? They put them on that celebrity show last night! And they’re all over the damned papers.”
“It’s not natural.” The woman sipped her coffee. “Can’t trust a city guy, ‘specially a rich one.”
“Must be breakin’ Jonathan and Martha’s hearts.”
“What breaks my heart is that kid. Can you imagine him growin’ up in that perverted household? I guess money talks even when a kid’s in danger. They’d take him away if the rich guy wasn’t so rich.”
Clark returned and slid into the booth opposite Bruce. “Sam wanted to ask me about one of the restaurants in Metropolis. Bruce, you all right?”
“Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” Bruce smiled and Dick slid in next to him.
“Hey, boys!” A ginger-haired woman hurried over, slapping down three menus. “Sorry it took me so long to come over. Crazy!”
Clark grinned. “We understand, Irma. Specials good today?”
“Aren’t they always, Clark?” She nudged his shoulder and winked.
He laughed and said, “You’re right.”
Dick was already studying the menu, his legs swinging back and forth under the table.
“Anything to drink, gents?”
“Coke, please!” Dick said.
“Me, too,” Clark added.
“Make it three,” Bruce said.
“Good, three Cokes it is.”
Bruce leaned forward. “I suppose it would have been sacrilegious to ask for Diet Coke?”
Clark’s eyes sparkled. “You could, Bruce. Contrary to your opinion, Smallville is in the 21st century, you know.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” Bruce’s tone was teasing, but he glanced at the trio in the nearby booth.
“We’ll finish this meal up at the ice cream parlor,” said Clark.
Dick loved the suggestion and this time Bruce joined in the laughter. He decided to hell with the Gang of Three with their narrow-minded opinions. Most of the people of Smallville seemed just fine with things.
& & & & & &
The ice cream parlor was from the turn-of-the-century: the last century. The gorgeously-painted ads for Coke and lemon drops and Duesenbergs were framed in dark wood, matching the impressive soda fountain with its marble countertop and rows upon rows of ingredients for every kind of ice cream soda and sundae imaginable.
Dick excitedly ordered a strawberry sundae, which consisted of French vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, strawberry sauce, and a cherry on top. Clark smilingly ordered the same, while Bruce chose French vanilla ice cream smothered in dark chocolate sauce, nuts, whipped cream, and the requisite cherry. They took seats at the round white table with old-fashioned chairs, and a pair of teenage girls giggled at a corner table, stealing glances at the hottest celebrity couple and the ‘cute kid’ with them.
“Looks like we’re the flavor of the month,” Bruce remarked dryly.
“Really?” Clark was amused, winking at Dick. “So what flavor are we?”
“Strawberry!” Dick declared firmly, and Clark laughed.
Bruce wondered if he should mention anything to Clark about what he had overheard later when Dick wasn’t around. He didn’t like to see the boy upset, and Dick would be angry if he knew people were pitying his situation.
Had Clark heard anything or noticed any coolness or outright hostility? Super-hearing didn’t guarantee that he would hear the nasty remarks, because he had to selectively tune things out or he would go mad.
Clark had grown up here and had happy memories of this town. He probably wouldn’t believe that some of the people of Smallville could be so acid-tongued and prejudiced. He believed that there was good in everyone.
Bruce believed that you still had to be careful.
The owner of the ice cream parlor, Ellen Gower, chatted with Clark as she delivered the sundaes.
“Did Martha get your place decorated yet?”
“Yes, she did. Dick helped her.”
Dick beamed at Ellen’s look of approval. “Good. She’s got talent, your mom. She makes quilts like no one I’ve ever seen, and around here that’s saying something. She knits a lot of goods for the orphanage over in Point Blessed and for our clothing drives.”
“Mom has always been generous.”
The pride in Clark’s voice was obvious, a pang going through Bruce. He took a deep breath. He had Clark and Dick and Alfred, and he was very lucky, indeed.
When they finished with their sundaes, Clark left a generous tip and they headed for the Porsche.
Bruce felt his stomach knot with irritated anticipation as he saw the group of teenagers and twentysomethings hanging around the car. They did not look as if they were just admiring it.
They looked like they wanted trouble.
His hand curled up into a fist, adrenaline kicking in. If needed, he was ready…
“Hey, Clarkie! Long time no see! How’s the big-city reporter doin’?” A freckle-faced middle-aged man in overalls emerged from the back of the pack and smiled. Unpleasantly.
“Hello, Gabe.” Clark looked very relaxed, and Bruce and Dick took their cue from him.
“I see you’re back with your fancypants…boyfriend.” The sneer was unmistakeable.
“Yes, I am.” Clark’s smile was very satisfied.
“Fancy car, too.” Gabe kicked the door on the driver’s said, Bruce barely restraining a growl. “You too good for us now, Clarkie?”
“He’s definitely too good for you, Gabriel,” Bruce snapped.
Gabe’s face turned ugly. “Look, you cocksuckin’ fag…”
“’Evenin’, boys.” The calm tones of Police Chief Douglas Parker interrupted the insult. “Clark, good to see you.”
“Hello, Chief.” Clark shook hands with the lean officer. “You remember Bruce Wayne, don’t you? And his ward, Dick Grayson.”
“Sure do.” Doug looked with interest at the gang. A few had already edged away. “Gabe Pruitt, your mama know you usin’ language like that? Boy, you’d be lucky if she don’t get the soap out.”
A few snickers made Gabe turn bright-red. “Lissen, Chief, since when do we cater to sissified city folk…”
“Since when has Smallville treated one of their own and guests so shabbily? Go on about your business, Gabe, and that goes for the rest of you, too.”
Gabe looked as if he wanted to object, then shrugged his shoulders and sauntered off, his posse following.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Clark.”
“No need to apologize, Chief. Most of the people today have been just fine.”
“Glad to hear it. I know you might be a tad embarrassed by all that tabloid stuff…”
Bruce put an arm on Dick’s shoulder and said, “We’re used to it, Chief.”
The policeman looked at Bruce and nodded. “I expect you are, Mr. Wayne.”
Doug nodded again, clapping Clark on the shoulder. “Say hi to your parents for me, will you?”
“Will do, Chief.”
The trio got into the car, and all were quiet as Bruce started the engine and drove out of town.
As they traveled the familiar road back to the farm, Clark said, “I’m sorry about that. I hope it didn’t ruin your day.”
Dick leaned over the front seat. “Not really. I mean, it bums that ol’ Gaby had to mouth off and all, but just about everyone was cool, Clark. I mean, there were some people kind of uncomfortable, but that could be they were just not sure what to say to you, y’know? And others seemed really happy for you, like that nice Mrs. Abernathy. So I guess the scales tip to the good side.”
Clark and Bruce exchanged proud glances at their boy’s insight.
Clark smiled and ruffled Dick’s hair. “Just the way I saw it, Dick.”
Bruce nearly snorted. His two optimists! He wondered if he would get overwhelmed by sunlight.
Not that sunlight was such a bad thing, really.
He smiled to himself as his family laughed and joked and began singing a silly song.