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: Dick begins his lessons with Clark and learns more about the Wayne Household. Meanwhile, Clark is feeling especially vulnerable.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): September 16, 2007
Date Of Posting: June 6, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2053
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Here ye shall find solace,
In this castle-by-the-sea,
Here ye shall find love,
Just you and me.
“Song Of Scotland”
Dick looked eagerly at Clark. He was more than ready to start his lessons.
Sunlight streamed into the library through the spotless windows, the room bright on this late March morning. Clark and Dick sat at a round table by one of those windows, several books stacked up between them. The computer on Bruce’s desk was up and running, ready for use. Dick picked up his stylus and twirled it.
He was feeling better today. Sadness still clung to him, but he was happy for the distraction of lessons.
“Now, I checked the books you requested from your trailer, and while some were obviously beginners’ books, I saw that you had some for your age level, and a few higher than that. Can you read the higher-lever books?”
Clark opened one and slid it over to Dick. “Please do.”
Dick read a paragraph with ease. As he started the next one, Clark said, “That’s fine.” He smiled as he sorted through another pile of books. “I took these from the shelves. We’ll be getting regular textbooks soon, and we can also subscribe to on-line texts. What subjects have you studied?”
“Just some history and English. We didn’t have textbooks on science or math.” He blushed. “I don’t know too much math.”
“Math will be part of the curriculum, then.” Clark made some notes. “It’ll be a full curriculum, but it’s good that you have a grounding in history and English.” Clark looked at Dick. “What subjects interest you?”
Clark laughed. “An eager student! Very good.” He flipped through a few more books. “We can start with your strengths to get you into the rhythm of these lessons. I’ll also speak to Master Bruce about letting us use laptops, but for now we’ll have to use the PC on his desk for on-line work.”
Dick nodded, feeling very relaxed with Clark. The sunlight glinted off Clark’s manacles, creating lovely rainbow prisms. Dick glanced down at his own manacles. They would be receiving the Wayne brand this afternoon. He felt a little nervous about it. The only brand he had ever worn had been that of Haly’s Circus.
What if he failed as a Squire? Would he be sold?
“Y…Yes?” Dick looked up.
“I asked you to open your book to Page 20.”
“I’m sorry.” Dick quickly opened the book in front of him and concentrated on what Clark was saying.
& & & & & &
Clark poured two glasses of lemonade and opened the porcelain cookie jar shaped like a pumpkin, a painted face grinning in Halloween style. He fixed a plate of cookies and grabbed two other plates and napkins. He glanced out the window and watched Alfred putter around in the garden.
It was a beautiful day. After lessons, he would take Dick outside. The boy was a bundle of energy and needed to burn it off.
Suddenly a glass of lemonade slipped out of his fingers and smashed on the linoleum.
“Damn,” he said softly.
He flexed his hand. Occasional loss of muscle control was part of his illness, but it still bothered him.
He cleaned up the glass, hissing as a shard cut his palm. Sighing, he washed the cut and wrapped the hand with a handkerchief.
Clark returned to the library. “Here you go.”
Dick smiled and immediately took several cookies and bit into one.
“Mmm, Alfred makes the best cookies.”
“He sure does.” Clark put several on his own plate.
“What happened to your hand?”
“Ah, I dropped a glass and it broke.”
Dick looked down pensively. “Master Bruce still hurts a lot about his parents, huh?”
“Does it ever get better?” he whispered.
Sadness swept over Clark. “I think you’ll always remember and it’ll still hurt, but the pain gets better as you go along.”
“I hope so.”
Clark silently echoed the sentiment.
& & & & & &
George Fontaine unsnapped the band of metal around Dick’s iron manacles and snapped the new bands on. He picked up his laser and expertly engraved the Wayne brand. The stylized letter ‘W’ was in the center of a large five-pointed star, surrounded by five other stars set in a circle.
Dick remained motionless, watching the entire process in silence.
Clark sat next to him; Bruce standing with his arms crossed as he watched. Alfred was dusting but keeping an eye on things.
When the engraving was finished for manacles and collar, Bruce looked critically at the glittering gold bands. “Excellent job, George.”
George beamed. “Thank you, Lord Wayne.”
Bruce escorted the man out. Clark touched Dick lightly on the arm.
“You all right?”
Dick was staring at the brand. He took a deep breath. “Yes.”
Clark squeezed his arm. “Good.”
Bruce returned. “I need a work-out. Who’s with me?”
Dick bounced off the couch as Clark and Alfred smiled.
& & & & & &
As Clark prepared for bed, he remarked, “Dick seemed a little happier today.”
Bruce put his watch on the dresser. “That’s good. It’s still very soon as to a lessening of grief for him, but every little bit helps.” He frowned. “He did seem worried about blood being taken and uneasy with the physical, but that’s probably due to his illness.” He grasped Clark’s shoulder. “I appreciate you teaching him.”
Clark smiled and put his arms around Bruce. “He’s a delight to be with.” Worry crossed Clark’s features. “I haven’t been trained as a teacher, though.”
“Don’t worry.” Bruce kissed his lover’s nose. “I’m consulting with a prominent educator. She’ll give you guidelines to go by, and will be happy to help you as you go along.” Bruce suddenly frowned. “What happened to your hand?” The white bandage was stark against tanned skin.
“Just a cut.” Clark tired to pull his hand away.
“I know you own my body, but please, it’s nothing!”
Surprised at Clark’s outburst, Bruce said quietly, “I didn’t want to see because of your being a financial asset, Clark, but because I care about you.”
Shame reddened Clark’s face. “I’m…I’m sorry.”
Bruce closed Clark’s hand. “It’s all right. You’re entitled to get frustrated now and then.” He lifted Clark’s chin. “We have manuals for slaveowners and manuals for slaves, but none for those who love each other as well.”
A small smile curved Clark’s lips. “We never do things easy, do we?”
Bruce chuckled. “No.” He caressed the back of Clark’s hand. “May I see your hand?”
“Yes,” Clark whispered.
Bruce opened the hand and peeled back the bandage, frowning slightly. “How did this happen?”
“I broke a glass.”
Bruce replaced the bandage. “If it doesn’t heal correctly, let me know.”
Bruce cupped his chin again. “Not as a Master this time.”
Clark smiled and they kissed.
As Clark went into the bathroom, Bruce spread out the quilt that had been folded at the foot of the bed. When Clark came out, the slave disrobed and climbed into bed naked.
“If you get cold, you can light the fireplace.”
“I’m fine, Bruce. It’s not winter anymore.”
“Yes, but spring nights up here on the cliff and by the ocean can get cold.”
Clark laughed. “Yes, Master.”
Bruce smirked and slapped Clark’s buttocks. “Go to sleep, wiseguy. You’ll need your rest.”
“Is that a promise?” Clark’s eyes sparkled.
Bruce huffed, “Incorrigible.”
Bruce kissed his lover and left the room still smiling.
& & & & & &
Shadows swirled around, misty-cool on his skin as he stumbled around, darkness cloaking the forest. His shoes crunched on dead leaves and pine needles, wind whispering mournfully through the trees.
He shivered, moonlight sparkling on his bracelets and collar, a full moon looming large in the sky. He increased his pace, a growing sense of foreboding blossoming through him.
“Bruce,” he whispered, trying to find a way out of the woods and back to the Manor.
Murmurs of voices were borne on the wind, Clark unsure if they were voices or the wind. He felt lightheaded as he began to run, a sense of urgency pushing him onward.
He crashed through underbrush, branches tearing at his clothes and skin. Through the trees he could see the ocean, sparkling as the moon shone down.
Blood pounded in his ears as he thought he heard footsteps behind him. The voices were indistinct, then snatches were heard…
“Jewel Mountains shattered…”
“Kal-El, you’re our only hope!”
A twig snapped behind him as he reached the edge of the woods, the Manor several yards away.
As he was about to step toward the Manor, he was suddenly whirled around and he screamed as green dust sprinkled down on him, burning his skin while laughter echoed around him…
& & & & & &
Clark sat bolt upright, heart pounding as he clutched at the sheets, scraping at his arms frantically.
He heard a scream. It wasn’t him?
He stumbled out of bed, grabbing his robe. Dick’s room!
He burst into the bedroom, Dick sitting up and shaking. Tears ran down his cheeks as Clark hurried to the bed.
“It’s all right, I’m here,” Clark crooned, holding the small body as he rocked back and forth. He smoothed Dick’s hair and rubbed his back, letting the boy sob as he tried to comfort him. Eventually Dick’s sobs were reduced to sniffles and hiccups, and he pulled back, wiping his eyes. Clark gave him a tissue from the nightstand, his heart going out to Dick.
“Mom…Dad…they were falling…”
Clark swallowed. The memory of that night was burned into his brain as well.
“Dick…” he said softly.
Dick sniffled. “I’m sorry to get you up, Clark.”
“It’s okay. I was having a bad dream myself.”
Clark nodded, remnants of the dream still clinging to him. Dick reached out and took his hand.
“What was it about?”
Clark looked down. “The slavers were after me.”
Dick squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry.”
Clark looked up. “That’s over now. I’m safe here with Master Bruce.”
“Did they take you away from your parents?”
Clark took a deep breath. “I don’t remember how I fell into their hands.” At Dick’s puzzled look, Clark explained, “I had a head injury. I don’t remember anything before I woke up in the slavers’ camp.”
Dick squeezed his hand again. Clark marveled at this child who was putting aside his own grief to console him. He gently caressed Dick’s hair.
“Let’s get you back under the covers.”
Clark pulled up the blankets and quilt on this chilly night. He rubbed Dick’s back as the boy curled up on his side, Dick eventually falling asleep. Clark placed a kiss on Dick’s hair, then quietly left the room.
Alfred was out in the hall. “How is he?”
“Sleeping. It was a nightmare about his parents, poor thing.”
Alfred nodded sadly. “With Master Bruce out, it’s good that you are comforting him.”
“Go back to bed, Alfred. I think Dick will be fine the rest of the night.”
Alfred nodded, then looked at Clark keenly. “Are you all right?”
How does he always know?
Clark smiled slightly. “I’m fine, just tired. I better get some sleep before Bruce gets back.”
Alfred smiled, returning to his own room. Clark went to the master bedroom and slowly removed his robe.
That theme of being in the slavers’ hands was a recurring one, in many forms.
Clark slid into bed, the metal of his slave jewelry cold against his skin. He shivered as he pulled the covers over him.
Scenes flashed in his mind’s eye: waking up in a cage: naked, collared and manacled. Bewildered and nauseous from a raging headache, he had come to consciousness in hell.
Always thirsty, hungry, and exhausted. Dragged out of his cage and forced to his knees, later thrown back into his cage, mouth bloodied and torn, body bruised and aching, fear and shame his constant companions.
Clark burrowed further down into the covers, letting his sense of security wash over him as he breathed in the scent of his Beloved in the pillows and sheets, the Manor protecting those who dwelled within her.