Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Alfred
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark try and adjust to being lovers as well as Master and slave, on a warm spring night a new member of the Wayne Household is added: a little boy whom Bruce sadly identifies with. Dick Grayson further pushes Bruce along the path of Abolitionism as the child brings further Light into the Manor. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: Dick’s first day at Wayne Manor.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): August 23, 2007
Date Of Posting: April 20, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1976
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The day away,
Think of only
Sir Alan Crosby
“The Broken Looking Glass”
Dick awoke, disoriented for a moment in the unfamiliar room, then memory flooded him and he moaned, burying his face in his hands.
Several minutes later, he slowly brought his hands down, staring at the circus poster on the wall in the corner. He looked down at his wrists, seeing the brand of Haly’s Circus on the metal. His new Master would have that changed.
He put his arms around his drawn-up knees, trying to order his thoughts. Right now his pain was numbed, and he had to acclimate himself to this new place.
His new life.
Dick slipped out of bed and opened the curtains, dazzled by the ocean sparkling under the early-morning sun. He saw a beautiful garden and wished he could be out in it, exploring and performing cartwheels. He needed to move, as there would be no trapeze work-out today.
He went into the bathroom, showered quickly, and dressed in jeans, a red sweatshirt and scuffed sneakers. He was a member of the Wayne Household now and no doubt would be given new clothes that befit the Lord’s personal Squire.
Dick felt a little nervous thinking about him, but last night, when he’d awakened screaming…
Dick remembered the moment earlier when Bruce had told him about his own parents’ deaths. He had felt a connection with the man immediately, Master or not.
He combed his hair, staring at his reflection in the mirror. Could he be a proper Squire to the Prince of Gotham? He was a circus brat who had been a lot freer than most slaves. Pop Haly had insisted on performance skills first and foremost, and the circus folk were a mixture of slave and free, with clear lines between the status of the two groups but it had been very easy to forget slave status on occasion. Freemen had sat in those admiring crowds and clapped for him and his parents despite their manacles.
Dick worried that all the rules of a Royal Household would be stifling and difficult for him to learn.
He put his comb down and left the room, walking down the grand staircase. He paused at the foot of the stairs and listened.
There. Voices that way.
Dick stood in the entrance of the kitchen, observing Clark, Bruce, and Alfred at the table. Clark noticed him first and smiled. “Come on in, Dick.”
Dick walked in and sat beside Clark. “Good morning, Master Bruce, Clark, Alfred.”
“Good morning, Dick.” Bruce drank his coffee. “After breakfast, we’ll take a tour of the house and grounds.”
“When is…is the funeral?”
Dick nodded and looked down. “I can perform any duties you wish today.”
“No duties today, though Alfred and Clark will eventually tell you what you need to know. Now, what would you like, pancakes or waffles?”
Dick looked up. “Waffles, please.”
Alfred rose and expertly prepared the waffles, setting the plate in front of Dick with a bowl of fresh strawberries. Dick drizzled Vermont maple syrup over the warm waffles and took a bite.
“Oh, Alfred, this is delicious!”
“Thank you.” Alfred seemed pleased at the praise. He sipped his coffee while Bruce talked about business matters.
Dick concentrated on his waffles, soaking up the conversation. The Master had no trouble conversing with slaves, though Dick noticed he was firm when he spoke of tasks he wanted done around the house.
Dick poured himself into observation, trying to keep his pain at bay. Tomorrow was the funeral. Tomorrow! He had to say goodbye in twenty-four hours.
Alfred was a firm yet affectionate man, and probably ran the Household expertly. Dick already felt comfortable with him.
And Clark? Dick felt very comfortable with him, too, and not just because of their shared slave status. Clark cared very much about people, Dick suspected, and he was very considerate of Dick’s feelings. He held high status in this Household but he wouldn’t use that status to lord it over other slaves. Dick felt that in his bones.
Dick finished the excellent waffles and strawberries. Bruce noticed (did he miss anything?) and said, “Time for that tour.”
Alfred took his plate and Bruce and Clark rose from the table. Dick was pleased that Clark was joining them. Connection or not, he was a little nervous if left alone with Bruce. He knew that he wasn’t on top of his game and could easily make a mistake.
& & & & & &
Clark stayed close to Dick as Bruce conducted the tour, the boy’s eyes growing bigger as he saw every room: the long, spacious, living room; the formal dining room; the old-fashioned study, and the library.
“So many books,” Dick murmured.
“Can you read and write?” Bruce asked gently.
“Yes!” Pride shone in Dick’s eyes. “M…Mom and Dad…taught me how. Pop didn’t care if we knew how to read and write. In fact, he said he it was better for the circus, though we had to play dumb sometimes. I have books, too!” Anxiously he asked, “May I please have all the books from the trailer? There should only be two or three boxes’ worth.”
“Everything is being picked up today.” Bruce rested a hand on Dick’s shoulder. “It’ll all be stored here at the Manor until the day you’re ready to go through it, but I’ll make sure the books are placed here in the library.”
“In your library?!” Dick suddenly hugged Bruce. “Thank you, Master!”
Startled, Bruce smiled and caressed Dick’s hair, then as Dick pulled back he said, “I’ll engage a tutor for you.”
“But…” Dick swallowed. “…is that allowed?”
“Well, officially I’m not supposed to teach you to read and write, but that’s not always enforced, and besides, you already know how. This is furthering your knowledge. After all, Clark serves as my secretary during some of my meetings. He’s an excellent writer and reads very well. In fact, I think he could be your tutor.”
Dick looked eagerly at Clark, who laughed. “We’ll start soon, I promise.”
“You may read anything in here any time you wish,” Bruce said.
Dick beamed at Bruce. Clark was happy to see that smile, a little startled by the blazing intensity of it.
Dick’s eyes widened again as he saw the ballroom.
“So much room!” he said, running to the tall window, then skidding to a halt as he turned back, “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t be so bold…”
“It’s all right,” Bruce said with a small smile.
Clark knew that Bruce didn’t want to squelch this childish enthusiasm, slave or not. Clark felt a joy watching this energetic boy, and Bruce seemed just as captivated.
How could this joyful child have been born a slave?
Of course, no child should be, but it hurt Clark to think of all the restrictions placed on such a free spirit.
The next room was even better.
Dick’s bright blue eyes grew enormous as he saw the trapeze. His small chest heaved and indescribable joy lit up his face. He took a step forward.
“Of course you’ll be allowed to use this. I know that aerialists must practice daily. Clark and I use it on a regular basis. We look forward to any tips you can give us.”
Clark carefully observed the boy. A look of intense longing was on his face, then a sadness that made Clark want to hug him. He looked at Bruce, pain reflected in his Master’s eyes.
“Would you like to see the grounds now?”
Bruce and Clark escorted Dick outside in the warm sunshine, the profusion of colors creating a dynamic palette. Clark loved it here, the smell of rich earth and budding flowers heavy in the air. It was an exceptionally warm day for March, and Clark enjoyed the cool breeze off the ocean.
Dick was interested in seeing everything. Clark suspected that if he wasn’t subdued due to his grief and uncertainty of what to do in Bruce’s presence, he would have been cartwheeling down the green lawn.
Dick leaned over the seawall, Clark fighting the urge to grab hold of his shirt.
Dick pulled back and looked up inquiringly at Bruce.
“Is there a beach nearby?”
Bruce nodded. “The water is too cold right now, but we’ll be using it soon. In fact, after lunch we can trek our way down there.”
& & & & & &
Lunch was in the kitchen, Dick quiet but attentive. Bruce noticed how much Dick enjoyed the leftover turkey sandwich and dill pickles. He filed away this observation as he did when learning about Clark’s tastes.
After lunch he, Clark, and Dick walked down to the private beach. Bruce sensed the boy’s pent-up energy and suggested, “Take a run.”
Nodding, Dick took off, scattering a cluster of seagulls.
“Quite the bundle of energy,” Clark said in amusement.
Bruce laughed. “We’ll have to make sure he keeps burning it off.” He slipped his hand into Clark’s.
Happiness swelled in Clark’s heart. As he and Bruce walked along the beach, the waves splashing close to their feet, Clark felt a contentment that brought a smile to his face.
Bruce’s cellphone rang. « Hello? Oh, hi, Ollie!” He continued walking. “You and Dinah are coming to town for the day tomorrow? I’m sorry, Ollie, the funeral of Dick’s parents is tomorrow.” Bruce listened, then said, “Well, that’s very kind of you. Sure, I’ll look forward to seeing you and your lady.” Bruce smiled. “’Bye.” He flipped the phone shut. “As you heard, Dinah and Ollie are coming to town.”
“But the funeral…”
“Ollie wants to come to the funeral. He…remembers his own parents’ deaths when he was young. He wants to offer some support.”
“That’s kind of him.”
“Ollie’s good people.” Bruce watched Dick scramble up some rocks. “Maybe he’ll tire himself out enough so that he won’t dream.”
Clark squeezed his hand, Bruce answering with a small smile.
& & & & & &
Dinner and the evening after was quiet, Dick listening to the conversation among the three adults.
As the hour grew later, Dick’s eyelids began to droop. A gentle hand on his shoulder roused him.
“Go on up to bed,” Bruce said quietly.
Dick went upstairs and was in bed in less than twenty minutes, but he sat up, his knees drawn up and his arms hugging them. His first day at Wayne Manor had ended, and he processed his observations.
The house and grounds were absolutely beautiful. Since his wandering days were over, this was a nice place to stay, with plenty of places to explore.
Aflred was very kind and a marvelous cook. Dick would be happy to work with him.
Clark was kind, too, and seemed very gentle and caring. Getting tutored by him would not be difficult at all.
Master Bruce did not seem like a harsh Master, though Dick knew that he couldn’t take liberties. Still, he considered himself lucky. Pop Haly might have kept him, but he was too young to be a solo act. If he couldn’t have been sold to another circus to join another flying act, he might have been put on the auction block.
Shivering, Dick rocked back and forth. He kept his mind on today, not tomorrow.
The Master and his bedslave were interesting. There seemed to be a lot of affection between them, more than what could be expected of a Master and slave. He wanted to learn more about them.
Dick rubbed his eyes. Tomorrow was going to come too soon. He settled down under the covers.
& & & & & &
When the nightmares came, Master Bruce and Clark came and helped him.