Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Alfred, Kathy Kane, Jonathan Kent/Martha Kent
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: Will the Branding Bill pass or be defeated? The vote begins…
Date Of Completion (First Draft): August 3, 2007
Date Of Posting: January 12, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1589 + 697 (Total: 2286)
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“How can anyone in good conscience support this heinous bill?
Is it because they enjoy the smell of burning flesh and the sound
of the crackling fire, hearing the screams of the slaves forced to suffer?”
National Abolitionist Society
The kitchen hummed with laughter, talk, and the low sound of the radio. Alfred was in his element, supervising his two helpers as they prepared certain foods the day before Thanksgiving. The smells of pumpkin pie baking filled the room as apple pies cooled on a wire rack and Clark peeled apples for another pie. Bruce was putting the finishing touches on a mince pie.
As was Wayne tradition, Bruce had donated full Thanksgiving dinners to every food pantry and shelter in the city. That included commercially-made pies, but for a small shelter in the heart of downtown, which was the first shelter that Thomas and Martha Wayne had founded, Alfred’s home-baked pies were provided. Representatives from the shelter would be here later to pick them up, and there would be plenty left for the Wayne Household to enjoy.
Master Bruce was happy, probably truly so for the first time in years, and Clark was like a miniature sun, his happiness overflowing.
Alfred had hated to put a damper on that glow, but he had cautioned his fellow slave to be careful, as the young Master would still expect obedience.
“I know, Alfred. I know this isn’t going to be your usual romantic relationship, but I’m more than willing to accept how it will be. I believe that Bruce and I can work things out.” He smiled. “I would still have to deal with a Prince even if I was free.”
Alfred had laughed in agreement and smiled now at the memory.
He had also noticed Clark’s manner of address, and that the younger slave still used ‘Master’ even in private most of the time. Alfred approved. It would help Clark stay in the habit while in public.
Alfred checked on the turkey thawing in the refrigerator. He preferred cooking it the old-fashioned way for several hours in an oven, juices simmering, rather than a seconds-long zap in the microwave. The smell of the turkey would permeate the house, and it would remind him of happier times in this house.
Not that happy times weren’t being created now. Once the young Master decided upon a course of action, he usually went ahead on full steam. Now that he had acknowledged his love for Clark, there would be no more pushing him away, or talk of the auction block, which he had assured Alfred had never been his intention. “Private sale was my intention,” and that most likely meant Oliver Queen or Lex Luthor.
Alfred had felt relief and pride. Even in the throes of darkness, his young Master would not be so cruel as to throw Clark to the slavers and put him on public sale, or even a private auction like the one at which Master Bruce had originally purchased his pleasure slave. No, it would have been a private one-on-one sale.
“The vote on the Branding Bill is coming up now…” said the radio announcer.
“Go. I’ll get the last pie in,” Bruce said.
Clark and Alfred washed their hands, untied aprons, and headed for the living room and the TV.
& & & & & &
Bruce carefully crimped the edges of the cinnamon-dusted crust, then took out the pumpkin pies and replaced them with two apple pies. He washed his hands and dried them with a tea towel, heading for the living room.
GBS was panning the Senate galleries, packed with supporters and opponents of the bill. The abolitionists wore rainbow sashes and buttons with the slogan, Freedom Now! Supporters of the bill wore green-and-black buttons that said, Brand All Slaves!
Ambivalence threaded through Bruce. Oh, he definitely wanted the bill defeated. The pain and humiliation that its passing would cause Alfred and Clark was something Bruce wanted to avoid at all costs.
Guilt flooded over Bruce. The whole thing was so absurd! Why should anyone’s health or happiness be put to a vote?
They shouldn’t be slaves. No one should.
They would leave you if they were free.
No, they wouldn’t.
And if they did? At least they would have free choice.
Bruce was disturbed by Congress passing laws to tell him what to do as a Master. He knew how to take care of his slaves, thank you very much. Unfortunately, other Masters were abusive. Owners like the Caldwells were reprehensible sadists and could use reining in.
Again, he felt guilty as he watched Alfred and Clark on the couch. They were tense but still trying to keep things light and optimistic.
Both exceptional men, and yet they have to watch this vote and wonder if they’ll have their flesh burned if the bill passes.
Bruce folded his arms.
Like hell! I’ll bribe the branders if I have to. They are not going to be branded, end of story!
The whole situation was ironic, too. If the NAS helped stop this bill, they would be affirming a hands-off approach that would sabotage further efforts down the line.
Not that it would make any difference if they succeeded in passing laws to dictate to Masters. If they broke those laws, unless there were free witnesses willing to rat on fellow owners, what would come of it? Slaves can’t testify, even in crimes against themselves.
Bruce hoped that the bill would go down in flames.
There was a space between Alfred and Clark on the couch. Bruce slowly approached and sat down, watching the coverage.
“We’re talking to Ms. Kathy Kane, head of the Gotham chapter of the National Abolitionist Society. Ms. Kane, what is your take on the upcoming Branding Bill?”
“Well, Chet, the people opposed to such a bill are out in full force today. We’re in the galleries and are protesting outside the Capitol and all across this nation against this barbaric practice. Branding slaves has fallen out of practice in the last few generations, and we hope to keep it that way.”
“So you’ve been working on this for quite some time?”
Kathy nodded. “Yes, very much so. We’ve flooded Congress with e-mails, letters, and petitions. We have made our voices known, and we hope that our elected representatives will do the right thing. It’s so important that Congress is delaying its usual Thanksgiving recess to vote on this.”
“Thank you, Ms. Kane.”
“Thank you, Chet. I’m going to join my allies in the galleries.”
As the camera started to pan the packed galleries, Clark rose. “I need some water. Would anyone else like some?”
“Yes, please,” answered Alfred, and Bruce nodded.
Bruce watched with interest, smiling as the camera caught Martha Kent. Her husband was next to her, and there wasn’t an empty seat to be seen except on Martha’s other side. He guessed that was Kathy’s seat.
He watched with interest as the camera showed the bill’s supporters. They were as confident as the opponents, laughing and joking.
“Now we have Ms. Carol Napier, head of the American Association of Slaveowners. Ms. Napier, your thoughts?”
The bird-like little woman, glasses perched on the end of her nose, smiled prettily.
“Well, Chet, we are confident that this bill will not pass. Slaveowners don’t need to be told how to treat our slaves. We don’t need Congress sticking their noses into our business.”
“I must disagree, Ms. Napier.”
Carol and Chet turned to see the newcomer. Conroy Arnold, prominent Star City businessman, smiled unctuously as the camera widened its angle to focus on him.
“Really, Mr. Arnold?”
“Yes, Ms. Napier. This bill will help us enforce the law against runaways.”
Carol raised an eyebrow. “I wasn’t aware that we had an epidemic of runaways.”
“We need to consolidate our power as slaveowners, and this will do that. Branding reinforces our belief that slaves are property, and will combat the silly, granola-crunching notion that they deserve rights or consideration as if they were free people. The bill will pass.”
“Thank you, Mr. Arnold. Now, Reverend Bingham, what is your take on this bill?”
“Well, Chet, we of the American Council of Churches heartily support this bill. The Bible supports slavery, therefore it is divine will that makes it so. We must support this bill to ensure that our society remain as it should. It is our moral duty.”
Bruce rolled his eyes as he accepted a bottle of water from Clark. He drank from its icy-cold goodness as he watched the silvery-haired reverend expound on biblical theory.
“Thank you, Reverend.”
Bruce noticed Alfred’s tense posture. He gently laid his hand over the butler’s. Startled, Alfred looked at him, then relaxed a little. They exchanged small smiles.
“The vote is beginning.”
The 100 senators were at their desks ready to stand up and be counted. After the Civil War, North and South had divided into the United States and the Confederate States of America. Before a generation had passed, the CSA had merged back into the USA when it became evident that European powers were more than delighted to see the continent divided, trying more than once to take advantage of the situation. Once again the country was united, and the old CSA states had very few NAS chapters.
Bruce wondered if the NAS and their allies could pull this off. At the very least, it was going to be a close vote.
The roll call began.