Characters (this chapter): Dick, Clark/Bruce, Alfred
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Spoilers: For Superman/Batman Annual #2
General Summary: The mysterious Socrates will test the mettle of the World’s Finest while Dick observes the possibility of a Clark/Bruce romance. This story takes place during the events of the Superman/Batman Annual #2 and begins after Clark has lost his powers during the first confrontation with Socrates. He has come to Bruce to ask for help in being trained as a human crimefighter.
Chapter Summary: Clark’s training intensifies as Dick makes more sharp-eyed observations about his two mentors.
Date Of Completion: May 26, 2008
Dates Of Posting: June 5, 2008/July 9, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1277
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for the S/B Big Ass Contest over on wfslash hosted by tmelange . The story won for Best Use Of Dick (LOL!), Best Use Of Source Material, and Best Overall Story!
All chapters can be found here.
Also, check out the fantastic story illo by labuenaventura ! :)
“C’mon, two more. You can…”
“Five more. Unless Mr. Kent’s done playing ‘hero’…”
Clark strained and did another thrust with the weights while I was balancing on them. He was close to running out of steam but every dig from Bruce fueled him with new energy.
“C’mon, farmboy, you going to give up?”
Well, Bruce was good at the psychology thing.
I also noticed him watching Clark, and it wasn’t just for how much weightlifting he was doing.
Bruce taught me real well. I was still learning, of course, but I had been taught by the Master of observation.
I’m just sure Bruce didn’t realize he would be my favorite observation exercise.
I’ve seen him with Selina. I’ve seen him with his flavor-of-the-month dates to all the society stuff.
I know he likes men, too. Typical that he would catch the ‘body language’ of the two gay men in mere seconds when we viewed the observation tape.
Bruce is an equal-opportunity kind of guy. He rags on Ollie Queen but I know there’s what they call UST there. It’s just that both guys would die first before admitting it.
It’s not something that freaks me out. In the circus you learn real fast that what ‘normal’ society considers abnormal is just something they like to say because they’re the majority or whoever holds the power. Most people are straight or pretend to be because it’s a heckuva lot easier.
So Bruce checking out Clark was cool. How could you go wrong with checking out Superman? Bruce always had a taste for the best.
Clark was sweating but determined. I could feel him struggling with the final lift and sent Bruce a silent signal.
“Okay, farmboy, you’re good.”
Clark completed the lift and wiped his face with a towel. “What’s next?”
Despite himself, respect shone in Bruce’s eyes.
“Drink some water and cool down. Then we’ll do some sparring.”
Clark nodded and I handed him a water bottle.
Clark’s smile lit the gloom of the Cave. I smiled back, and out of the corner of my eye saw Bruce looking a little startled.
“I’ll get changed.”
He left pretty quickly.
“Was it something I said?” Clark asked wryly.
I looked at him in his work-out clothes, hair mussed and skin gleaming with sweat.
“No, it’s how you look.”
He glanced down, puzzled. “Isn’t this the right outfit?”
I couldn’t help but grin even more. “It’s perfect.”
I winked. “Take a look in the mirror.”
Bruce wasn’t vain. Riiight. That’s why he had this mirror to reflect the work-outs. Or adjust his cape.
Clark walked over to the mirror. He looked at himself and I saw the light in his eyes dawn.
A big smile spread across his face.
I jumped onto the chin-up bar, did a handstand, and somersaulted off.
& & & & & &
Dinner was in the formal dining room. Maybe Bruce was really feeling the Lord of the Manor tonight, trying to impress ‘the country bumpkin’. It made me laugh, because even though Clark was pretty mild-mannered, he didn’t look like the type to be easily intimidated, even by the Bat.
And he was interested in Bruce.
Bruce was being his snarky best, trying to deliberately rile Clark. I recognized the signs: he was trying to push Clark away.
Powerless or not, I don’t think you can easily push the Man of Steel.
“So, working up a sweat new to you, Clark?” Bruce asked as he cut his steak.
“Oh, sometimes I get a little sweaty when I fly through the sun.”
I nearly choked on my food, trying to stifle my laughter. For once Bruce didn’t know what to say.
“That sounds interesting, Master Clark.” Alfred brought in a refill of coffee for Bruce and then poured more into Clark’s cup.
“Nothing like it, Alfred,” Clark’s voice grew sad. “I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy a flight through the sun again.”
This time the tightness in my throat came from sadness, not choked laughter. Bruce didn’t say anything, drinking his wine.
“So, what’s tomorrow’s agenda?” Clark asked as he deliberately set aside his melancholy.
“Some roadwork after boxing.”
“Build up your stamina and endurance. You need to be able to last all night out there.”
“Or all day.”
“Most crime takes place after sundown, Clark.”
Bruce huffed, “What, the sparkling city of Metropolis only has crime in the daytime?”
“Of course not. I’m just saying in order to be a hero, you don’t have to skulk around in the dark all the time.”
“I don’t skulk.”
“Sure you do!”
“At least I don’t run around in kindergarten colors.”
“’Kindergarten’ colors give hope. Besides, that was the material of my blanket sent with me in my rocket and doesn’t shred or dissolve when I fly at super-speed.”
“Your rocket?” I asked, eyes wide. “Do you still have it?”
Clark nodded. “It’s buried in the root cellar back home.”
I saw Bruce’s eyes soften. Maybe he was finally getting it through his head that Clark wasn’t some fearsome alien, but had the same emotions we did. Bruce had told me about the Kent farm and how beautiful it was. I was going to pester him to wrangle an invitation for another visit but bring me along this time.
But the thing that had struck Bruce and me was Clark’s use of the word ‘home’. Sure, Krypton was gone and I’m sure he wants to learn more about it, but Earth is his home, Smallville in particular.
Superman would never hurt us.
& & & & & &
After dinner, Bruce had a conference call with his executives in Japan, so Clark and I went out to the gardens.
The gardens at Wayne Manor are like everything else: palatial and majestic. I’d seen the look on Clark’s face when he had been given a tour by Bruce after settling in with us. I started grinning.
Clark nudged me with a smile. “What’s so funny, Boy Wonder?”
“The look on your face when you saw this place.”
His expression grew rueful. “You could fit two of the farmhouse in that Grand Ballroom of yours.”
I snickered. “You could fit about six of the circus trailer I grew up in there.”
Clark and I shared an understanding grin.
“He sure was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
“Ha! He was born with a crown on his head and a sceptor in his hand.”
Clark laughed. “I’d say you were right.” His eyes twinkled.
The bond growing between us came from many things: our shared costumed life, our relationship with Bruce, and a common background: we knew what it was like to have to work for a living without billions of dollars at our beck-and-call.
“He’s arrogant, abrasive, demanding, stubborn…and intensely loyal, generous, and caring.” I looked out over the ocean. “He really cares a lot, Clark. He just hides it a lot under all these layers.”
I looked at Clark. He was also gazing out at the sea, a thoughtful look in his eyes.
“’Course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t act like a jerk sometimes.”
Clark burst out laughing as I grinned.
“You have him pegged, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah.” I hopped up on the seawall and did a few handstands. “Bruce can’t fool me.”
He never could.
“Good. He needs a partner like that.”
I almost said, “So do you now,” but bit my lip. Clark didn’t need to be constantly reminded of his new condition.
I just hoped he would have someone to watch his back when he returned to Metropolis.