Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Dick, Clark/Bruce, 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: Clark and Dick’s friendship grows ever stronger.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): November 18, 2007
Date Of Posting: August 5, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1829
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The clock ticks
In the silence.
The friends sit
A smile passing
They have no need
Of raucous chatter.
For these friends,
Adelaide St. Veritas Millay
(Poems Of Friendship)”
Dick flipped through the pages of his textbook. He was sitting at the round corner table in the library, his customary spot for lessons, Clark in the other chair. Sunlight streamed in, warming Dick as he found the page Clark had requested.
“Clark, why don’t the history books tell us more about the Amazons?”
“The Amazons?” Clark asked in amusement.
“Yeah.” Dick jabbed the page. “The whole thing gets only a few lines.”
“Maybe they aren’t so proud of enslaving a proud warrior race.”
Dick looked at his friend and mentor. “You don’t sound very happy about it.”
“No.” A sad little smile crossed his face. “Though it doesn’t really matter what I think, does it?”
“It matters to me.”
Clark’s smile grew brighter. “That means a lot to me.”
Dick beamed. “I learned about the Amazons on-line but mostly in the books here.” He hopped off his chair and went to the bookcases, standing on his toes as he took down a heavy, leatherbound tome. He set it before Clark. “This is really old.”
“Mmm.” Clark opened the book, The Conquered Amazon Race. “It was published in 1869, six years after they were enslaved.” Clark turned the gilt-edged pages as he looked at the engravings. “They’re very beautiful and noble.”
Dick pointed. “Look, that’s the Queen!”
The beautiful blond in full battle dress stared calmly out at the reader, a woman of grace and nobility.
“The Princess is on the next page.”
Clark turned the page. “She’s very beautiful, too.”
Dick nodded. “They show her armor, too.” He frowned. “The men from the Confederate ship tricked them.”
“They did.” Clark’s hand trembled slightly as he turned another page. “They’ve been enslaved for a very long time,” he said softly.
Dick felt a sadness wash over him as he looked at the sun sparkling off Clark’s rainbow bracelets. He took a deep breath and carefully set those feelings aside. As his parents had taught him, it did little good to dwell on their status. Until things changed (Dick had to believe they would someday), he had to keep going somehow.
Dick resettled himself in his chair. He noticed how pale Clark looked in the sunlight, or maybe it was a trick of the light. Clark had a lot of sunshine in him that Dick recognized as a kindred spirit.
“Sorry I went off in another direction.”
Clark looked at Dick and smiled. “Sorry I got distracted. Let’s get to work.”
The lesson went smoothly for the next hour, then as Dick worked on an assignment Clark asked, “Would you like a snack?”
“That’d be great!”
“Okay, you keep working. I’ll see what Alfred’s got stashed in the kitchen.”
“Cool,” Dick said with a smile.
Clark left the library, Dick concentrating on his handwriting. His mother had always said he had good handwriting, a rare skill in an electronic age.
He raised his head as he heard a noise in the hall. Some instinct propelled him out of his chair and out of the room.
Dick rushed to Clark’s side, his teacher on his knees and slumped against the wall.
“What’s wrong?” Dick clutched a trembling arm.
“Not feeling…so well…” Clark said faintly.
Frightened, Dick called, “Alfred! Please help! Clark’s sick!”
Alfred appeared in seconds, concern on his face. “Help me get him up.”
Dick assisted Alfred, Clark mumbling, “I’m sorry.”
“Hush.” Alfred gently squeezed the younger man’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault.”
Beads of sweat were on Clark’s white face, his eyes hazy.
It was slow and painful, but between the two of them, Alfred and Dick got Clark to the master bedroom and into bed.
“How’s your head?” Alfred asked.
Clark winced. “Not so great.”
“I shall get you some aspirin.”
Clark closed his eyes as Dick sat on the bed, resting a hand on his friend’s chest. A slight smile curved Clark’s lips and he closed his hand around Dick’s small one, Dick noticing how cold it felt.
Alfred returned with the aspirin and helped Clark sit up to swallow it, Dick pouring him a glass of water from the bathroom tap.
“I’ll get you a pitcher of icewater,” Alfred said.
“Thank you.” Clark lay back down and looked at Dick with a rueful smile. “Sorry to interrupt your lesson.”
“It’s okay. I’ll finish that assignment later. Can…may…I stay awhile?”
“Clark?” Alfred asked.
“Yes,” Clark said softly.
Alfred nodded at Dick, who lifted his legs up and crossed them on the bed. He put his hand on Clark’s arm.
“I’ll be right here if you need anything.”
Alfred left to get the water. Dick asked worriedly, “Do you have the flu or something?”
“No, Wertham’s Disease.”
“Wertham’s…? I don’t think I’ve heard of that.”
“It’s not the most common disease, but luckily not too obscure, either. I have a medicine that I take once a week for it.”
Dick could hear confusion in Clark’s voice. He quickly took hold of a cold hand and pulled up the quilt to join the blanket as covering for Clark. Dick made a mental note to look up the disease in one of his Master’s medical books that had belonged to Thomas Wayne.
“I…the day before my shot…when I get it…kinda woozy…nauseous…”
“Please don’t talk, Clark. Just rest.”
“All right,” Clark sighed, almost sinking into the mattress. He turned his head.
“Is the light bothering you?”
Dick heard pain in Clark’s voice and quickly went to pull the drapes shut. He resumed his place on the bed, taking Clark’s hand again.
The quiet lay in the room like soft velvet, Dick staying silent as he listened to the ticking of the grandfather clock out in the hall. He frowned slightly as he realized how warm Clark’s skin had become. Low-grade fever?
“Tell…tell me…stories about…the circus…”
Dick set aside his sadness at the memories and concentrated on the happy feelings he got when he remembered. He told some funny stories, Clark even chuckling a little.
Dick felt better while talking. His worry over Clark was still there but not as scary if he kept up cheerful patter. Happiness amidst gloom had always been a trademark of his, just as a circus act performed a signature trick.
Clark was quiet and Dick hoped he was helping him.
“…and Marge was so furious with Nate that she threw him out of their trailer and he had to go begging for a cot for the night.”
A small smile curved Clark’s lips. “I bet Nate never pulled that stunt again.”
Dick laughed. “He never did…” His voice trailed off.
“You miss the circus.”
“I…” Dick wiped away a sudden tear. “…I miss performing for an audience. I…miss all the excitement.” His voice trembled. “I miss my parents.”
Clark squeezed his hand and Dick felt bad. He was supposed to be cheering Clark up!
“I like it here, though. I like being close to the ocean, and I have my own room, and you and Alfred are great, and Master Bruce is good to me.”
“That’s good, Dick.”
Dick’s worry grew again. He didn’t like seeing Clark sick.
The door opened and Bruce strode in, gesturing for Dick to stay seated. Alfred was right behind him.
“Clark, I hear you’re a little under-the-weather.”
“A little.” Clark opened his eyes. “What time is it?”
“You’re back early.” Clark frowned. “You…cut your business…short?”
Bruce sat on the edge of the bed opposite Dick and placed his hand on Clark’s forehead.
“When my companion is ill, I get concerned.”
“Hush.” Bruce slipped his hand down to Clark’s cheek. “Are you nauseous?”
“How about some ginger ale?”
Alfred left immediately to get it.
“Glad you’re under this quilt. Dick, would you go to the closet and get the pillow there?”
Dick scrambled off the bed and retrieved the requested pillow. Alfred came back with a glass of ginger ale.
Bruce and Dick propped up Clark on the pillows, Clark trying to hide a wince.
“Headache?” Bruce asked.
Bruce held the glass while Clark drank, then handed it to Alfred.
“Do you want more?”
Alfred went to refill the glass.
Worry shone from Bruce’s eyes, and that worried Dick. Were Clark’s spells always this bad?
Clark drank the fresh ginger ale and Bruce urged him to slide down and get some sleep. Bruce brushed the curl off Clark’s brow and kissed the flushed skin.
Rising, Bruce said quietly, “Let’s leave him to sleep.”
Dick gave one final squeeze of Clark’s hand and carefully slid off the bed, following Bruce out.
In the hall Bruce put a hand on Dick’s shoulder. “Thank you for caring for Clark.”
“It’s easy, Master.” Dick was troubled. “Does he get sick like this a lot?”
They started walking down the hall, Bruce’s hand still on his shoulder. “Not all the time. The day before his weekly shot he gets confused and dizzy, sometimes nauseous. Some weeks are better than others.”
“He says he takes medicine.”
Bruce nodded as they started down the stairs. “He gets it via injection. Tomorrow morning.” He gently ruffled Dick’s hair. “Go finish your lessons.”
Back in the library, Dick headed for the table, then stopped and went to the bookcase instead. He scanned the shelves and took down an old, leatherbound book.
He set the medical book on the pier table and checked the index, careful when he turned the brittle pages. He read for several minutes, then put the book back and returned to his studying.
& & & & & &
In the morning Bruce took the vial and hypospray from Alfred. He had held Clark all night, his lover restless, cold one minute, feverishly hot the next.
“You’ll feel better by tomorrow, Clark,” Bruce said.
Dick was standing in the doorway.
“Please show me how to do this.” Dick came forward, looking very small but determined, still dressed in his pajamas. “I…when I get a shot, it’s given to me. I need to know how to give one. In case I have to.”
Bruce looked at his young Squire, then nodded. He pushed up Clark’s pajama sleeve and placed the hypospray over a vein. “Position, then push.” The hiss of the hypo was soft, Clark watching with clouded eyes.
“How do you fill it?”
Bruce demonstrated and Dick nodded. “Good morning, Clark.” Dick carefully hugged his friend, who despite his grogginess, smiled and hugged back.
“Get some sleep, Clark,” Bruce said.
Dick left to get dressed and Bruce smiled.
“I think it’s time to tell our secret, my love.”
Clark smiled as his eyes closed, Bruce kissing him tenderly on the forehead.