Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Alfred
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: A new day dawns at Wayne Manor.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): July 27, 2007
Date Of Posting: December 26, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1237
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“Do you love me, Master?”
“Yes, I do.
I will love you
‘Til the end of time.
You are mine.”
Ancient Rigellian Sonnet
From the 12th Century, B.C.E.
Bruce awoke, his eyes swollen. He saw Clark lying next to him, face tear-streaked as he slept, exhausted. Bruce gently stroked his slave’s face.
The slave he loved.
Clark’s heartfelt sobs had broken Bruce’s heart. His resolve, shaky at best, had melted away under the onslaught of those tears. Seeing his beloved slave sobbing his heart out, begging not to be sold despite all Bruce had done to him was the final straw.
All his carefully-crafted reasons not to love Clark, not to keep him, were still valid. Clark made him lose focus as Batman; discovery of Bruce’s love for him would tarnish his family’s name; he was now more vulnerable than ever as a slave.
Bruce couldn’t give him up.
Weak, emotional response.
Yeah, maybe, but I don’t care.
Bruce allowed himself to feel the love he had suppressed for weeks. He couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore. Even though Clark didn’t love him, loving Clark would be enough. A great wave of protectiveness washed over him. He had to keep Clark safe, more than ever now…
Clark’s eyes fluttered, red-rimmed but still beautiful. “Master…” he croaked.
“Shh, it’s all right. I’m not selling you. I swear I never will…”
Fresh tears welled in Clark’s reddened eyes and he grasped Bruce’s hand.
“I’m sorry I made you angry.”
Bruce shook his head incredulously. He stroked his slave’s face. “It wasn’t your fault.” Gods, I’d never struck a slave in anger before in my life. “Things have been building up for awhile.” Bruce sat up. He took a deep breath. “I swear I won’t ever sell you, Clark. You have my word.” He didn’t use the words ‘Honor Served’ but they hung in the air between them, a great honor, as those words were only used between gentlemen.
“Thank you,” Clark said, complete trust and belief in his eyes.
Bruce nodded with a small smile.
Light dawned in Clark’s sapphire-blue eyes. “You said you loved me.”
A little jolt went through Bruce. Clark would probably lose all respect for him, but he deserved the truth.
“Yes,” he whispered.
& & & & & &
Clark’s heart soared. From his worst nightmare came his greatest joy.
“I love you, too,” he breathed.
Rueful sadness filled Bruce’s eyes. “You don’t have to say that, Clark. I know you’re grateful to me since you have no memories and can’t make comparisons…”
Clark squeezed his hand. “No, Master, I’m grateful, but it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember my past. This I do know: I belong with you, slave or free, and I truly love you.”
Hope blossomed in Bruce’s midnight-blue eyes. “Clark…?”
Clark nodded and suddenly Bruce hugged him fiercely. He held on tight, joy singing in his veins.
When they broke apart, Bruce was smiling.
“It appears that we’re both on the same page, then.” At Clark’s nod Bruce sobered. “Clark, I have committed my society’s unpardonable sin, and we’ll have to hide this from everyone, except Alfred, of course, but he already knows…” they both grinned “…because my family’s name will be…be…”
“I understand, Master.”
“Good.” Bruce took a deep breath. “You’re at risk, too. If I lose respect, it’ll be harder to protect you.” Bruce looked grim for a moment. “From people like the Caldwells.”
Clark shuddered. “Then we must be very careful.” Sudden understanding dawned in his eyes. “Master, is that why…why you were pushing me away?”
Guilt flooded Bruce. “Yes,” he said quietly. “I’m the Master, the one who should be in control, and the one to protect you, Clark. I couldn’t protect you if what we felt for each other became public knowledge.” He swallowed. “I’m being very selfish in keeping you.”
Compassion shone in Clark’s eyes and he took Bruce’s hand. “I understand your reasons now.”
“I…I don’t have any right to ask this, but if you can someday find it in your heart to forgive me…” Shame suffused his features.
Clark kissed Bruce’s fingers. “I already have forgiven you, Master.” At Bruce’s shocked expression, he explained, “I know what this society can drive a man to do. I’ve seen it close up.” He shivered at unpleasant memories.
“I can’t…promise…I won’t hurt you again,” Bruce said miserably.
“I know.” Clark’s expression was serene. “I know that you might have to hurt me in the future because of the constraints of this society. I don’t like it, but I understand it.” He squeezed Bruce’s hand. “But you don’t have to carry all these burdens alone, Master. I know that you are the one responsible for me and Alfred and this house and your estate and family legacy, and that doesn’t even cover your duties as the Batman. The weight must crush you at times. I’m here to help you relieve some of that burden, even if only talking things over with me.”
Bruce brushed away a fresh welling of tears. “I can’t promise I can do that, either. I’m…not very good at talking about…things.”
Clark’s smile was infinitely loving. “Just know that I am here for you.”
Bruce nodded, looking a little shellshocked at being first forgiven and then offered Clark’s patience and compassion. “Clark, this new relationship of ours…I can allow you more liberties and indulge you even beyond that of a pampered and cherished pleasure slave, but I still will require obedience.” He slipped his hand out of Clark’s grasp and twisted his fingers in a nervous gesture.
Touched by that show of nervousness, Clark nodded. “I understand, Master.” He lifted his arm and tapped the manacle sparkling in the sunlight streaming through the window. The rain had stopped and the skies had cleared, a rainbow arching over the grounds, matching Clark’s manacle. “These haven’t changed, but you love me.” Life would be more complicated now but far happier, too.
Bruce kissed the top of his head, taking hold of Clark’s hand. He leaned back with a shaky smile. “One thing: if you wish to call me ‘Bruce’ while in private or in Alfred’s presence, that’s fine.”
“But Alfred doesn’t…?” His eyes asked the question of whether the butler’s feelings would be hurt.
“I’ve given him that option, but being British and a butler, he won’t hear of it!” Both men grinned. “He won’t begrudge you the privilege.”
Bruce ducked his head. “Clark, I’m sorry for everything…”
Clark touched Bruce’s chin and gently lifted it, struck by the shimmering of tears in the beautiful eyes. He said softly, “I love you, and you love me. You gave me your promise never to sell me. As long as I have those two things, I can endure anything.”
A tear slid down Bruce’s cheek and he pulled Clark into a tight hug.
A knock on the door broke them apart. Bruce wiped his eyes as Alfred poked his head in.
“Are you up to a light repast, gentlemen?”
Bruce nodded. “We’ll be right down, Alfred.”
Alfred withdrew with a serene expression. All was right with his world.
Clark looked at Bruce. The road ahead would not be easy. They were going to have to work out the new parameters of their relationship while Clark still wore the manacles and collar, but it would be a journey worth taking.
Hand-in-hand, they went downstairs to join Alfred.