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): PG-13
Summary: After the funeral, Dick truly settles in at the Manor while Bruce goes into protective mode.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): September 1, 2007
Date Of Posting: May 6, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1341
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Spring is here!
New life begins.
Spring is here!
Feel the earth
Between your fingers.
Breathe in the air
Sweet and wild,
Protect the joy
Of Spring’s Child.
Emily Adams Cutler
“Yellow Roses And Other Poems”
Dick awoke, unmoored for a second, then it slammed him: Mom! Dad!
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to squeeze out the pain, but all it did was leave him exhausted. He trembled, then resolutely forced himself out of bed, showered, and dressed.
Today he would learn his duties as the Squire of Lord Bruce Wayne.
Downstairs in the kitchen, he greeted Bruce, Alfred, and Clark. Bruce sipped his coffee and said, “Starting tomorrow I think we’ll work out a schedule for trapeze work.” Dick’s heart beat a little faster. “I might not be able to work out with you every day, but Clark will be an excellent partner.”
Clark’s eyes sparkled as he looked at Dick, who felt a little better.
“Thank you, Master.”
Bruce left for the city after breakfast, Clark helping Alfred clean up. Dick was directed to the library to wait for them.
He happily scanned the books on the shelves, wondering if any of them would be used in his tutoring sessions.
Dick glanced up at the painting over the fireplace. He slowly walked over and stood in front of it, head tilted up.
The Lord and Lady were handsome people, smiling and benevolent. And the boy? Smiling and happy.
Dick resolved to find out the details about the Waynes’ murders. He knew that Bruce had seen them killed, but not how it had happened.
“Dick.” Dick turned as Alfred and Clark walked in. “Be seated.”
Dick obeyed, sitting on the chair while his superiors settled on the couch.
“Your duties are the usual for a Squire at Master Bruce’s beck-and-call, providing him with personal comforts such as snacks and drinks, carrying his papers, fetching a footstool if he so desires it…in short, whatever he wants and needs.” Alfred adjusted his tie. “These are also the duties Clark and I perform for him, but if he takes you with him off the estate, these duties are your personal responsibility.”
Dick nodded. If the Master wasn’t nit-picky, he should be able to do all that.
“Since you can read and write, that will be a help as well. Your first tutoring lesson begins tomorrow with Clark. After morning chores, you will sit with him. Some days the lessons may be in the afternoon, if, for instance, it is wiser to work in the garden in the morning rather than the afternoon due to the weather.
“You will assist Clark and myself with household chores, and that includes the gardening. Master Bruce is also interested in trapeze work, as he mentioned this morning, so you’ll be doing that as well.”
So far everything sounded fine to Dick. He nodded and sat straight-backed, eager to look ready.
“Tomorrow the engraver is coming to brand your bracelets, and you will be measured for a new wardrobe.”
“Sir, what’s my first duty today?”
“Gardening. We need to prepare the kitchen plot for planting.”
Dick hopped off the couch. “Should I change to jeans?”
Dick raced up the stairs, missing the amused glances behind him.
& & & & & &
Dick loved gardening. In the circus, all you could have were windowboxes on your trailer. A real, honest-to-goodness garden was new to him.
He helped till the soil, the mud season thankfully over. He liked the act of working with the earth and feeling the ocean breeze on his skin. Apple blossoms blew over from the orchard, swirling like snow in a globe that someone had just shaken.
He was excited to live by the ocean. The circus had visited seaside towns and he had always loved stealing away to the beach when he could. He was hoping he would be allowed to swim when the water got warmer.
“Does Master Bruce allow you to go swimming?”
Clark paused in his raking. “Yes, he does.”
Dick beamed. “I’m a good swimmer.”
Clark laughed. “Good! You’ll fit right in.”
Delighted, Dick set back to his own task with vigor.
& & & & & &
Bruce was pleased to learn of Dick’s integration into the Household. He listened to Alfred report of all the tasks completed by his new Squire, Clark chiming in.
Bruce took Clark’s hand and they strolled out in the backyard, Bruce glad of the fresh air after being cooped up all day at Wayne Enterprises. He studied Clark’s beautiful profile.
“Do you think that Dick will really fit in?”
Clark looked at him. “I do.” His eyes were searching. “Will you be telling him about Batman?”
“Not yet.” Bruce felt in a brooding mood. “We need to know if we can trust him.”
Bruce squeezed his hand. “I know, Clark. He seems bright and dedicated, but I have to be sure.”
Clark looked stubborn but said nothing. Bruce quirked a smile. “You really love that boy, don’t you?”
Clark smiled. “He’s easy to love.”
Of course. Loving comes easily to you, my Starchild. Bruce sighed. It’s your greatest strength…and your greatest weakness.
“Clark, you do realize what’s at stake here?”
“Of course, Master,” Clark answered with a frown.
“If I was exposed as the Batman, my protection abilities would be hampered. Those I had put away for their crimes would thirst for revenge.
“And what about the Government? What if they decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up? What if they confiscated the Wayne billions, using my vigilantism as an excuse?”
“But, Master, the Government leaves the costumed heroes alone. There’s you, the Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Hawks…”
“But it could change, Clark.”
Clark looked troubled. “Confiscation of…everything?”
Bruce nodded. “Every asset I have. Any slaves I own go automatically to the public auction block. No private sales.”
“I don’t worry so much for Alfred, except for the block, of course. Wherever he ended up, he’d wind up running the place.” For a moment, they both grinned, then Bruce continued, “If a brothel owner bought him to be the majordomo of the house, overseeing the staff, he’d make friends with all the slaves. You know Alfred.”
Clark nodded, a faint smile on his face.
“He’d more likely end up in a corporate setting or great house.”
Alfred would always survive, of that I have no doubt.
“What about Dick?” Clark asked softly.
“He might end up a Squire somewhere else, or as a companion for a rich man’s son.”
And by the time that boy reaches his teen years, I’ll have to Veil him.
If Dick was of age, he’d end up the star attraction in some whorehouse for sure. The thought made Bruce’s blood run cold.
Clark was looking out over the ocean, the sunlight sparkling in his dark hair.
And that would be your fate, my love. Some brothel owners have corporate backing. They could outbid wealthy private freemen.
It nearly broke Bruce’s heart to think of Clark in some whorehouse, servicing one or a dozen men per night, his body and beauty used and broken, his spirit shattered.
Because Bruce knew that the gentle spirit of his beloved slave would never survive the constant degradation and brutality. Clark was a survivor, but he needed love before he became a numbed shell of his former self.
A fierce protectiveness rose up in Bruce. Clark’s vulnerability attracted slavering jackals like the Caldwells, and he would see them all dead before he’d let them destroy his Beloved.
“Clark, I’m sorry to upset you.”
“No, I…” Clark smiled faintly. “I needed to understand your reluctance to tell Dick, and I do now.”
“I believe we will be able to tell him, Clark. I just need to take his measure.”
Clark nodded. Bruce drew him into a kiss, holding him in a tight embrace as the wind blew with the gentle energy of spring.