Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Barbara Gordon
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 gets a new tutor while Clark recovers.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): December 23, 2007
Date Of Posting: September 3, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1279
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
And good cheer
BALANCE BEAM BUDDIES
“Welcome to Wayne Manor, Miss Gordon.”
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne.”
Bruce escorted the bright young girl into the library, Dick waiting patiently by the table. Bruce nodded at Dick, who held the chair for Barbara.
“We appreciate you taking over the tutoring duties, Miss Gordon. My Prize is not feeling well, and he’s my Squire’s usual tutor.”
“Oh, I’m delighted, Mr. Wayne. Of course, Daddy doesn’t publicize it, but I am a good tutor for Masters looking to educate their slaves.”
“Yes, Jim assured me that even at twelve, you are one of the best.”
Barbara laughed. “Well, that’s a dad for you.”
“Oh, I asked around. Discreetly, of course. You’re too modest, Miss Gordon.”
Dick watched the exchange with interest. It was always a good thing to learn more about freemen behavior, but he also wanted to take the measure of this girl.
He really wanted Clark as his tutor. He felt safe with him, not needing to watch every word he said or remember all the protocols necessary in dealing with the unmanacled.
But there was no help for it. Clark was better but still needed a lot of rest.
“I have my gym bag,” Barbara said.
“Yes, Alfred stored it in the guest bedroom so you can change. Richard will show you where everything is.” Bruce smiled at Dick, who nodded.
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne. I’m very excited about using the gymnastic equipment.”
“Richard will be your partner. He’s an expert.”
Interest sparked Barbara’s green eyes. “Wonderful.”
“All right, I’ll leave you to it.” Bruce smiled encouragingly at Dick, who smiled back.
After Bruce left the room, Dick lowered his gaze. Through his lashes he could see Barbara looking over Clark’s texts.
“Richard.” He looked up. “No need to keep your eyes lowered. It makes for a better lesson without all that waiting for permission stuff.” Barbara’s smile was kind, and while Dick still felt uncertain, he also felt a little more relaxed.
Bruce was taking a chance leaving Barbara as the sole freeman in a house full of slaves. If she was cruel or capricious, his slaves were at risk, but no doubt Bruce had been very careful choosing her.
Besides, anyone willing to tutor slaves probably had a kind heart.
He loved Barbara’s red hair. One of the trick riders in the circus had orange hair, but this was really red.
Gold-rimmed glasses perched on her nose as emerald eyes scanned her notes. “Please open your history book to Page 381.”
Dick obeyed, and Barbara began the lesson.
Dick was pleased with his substitute tutor. Clark would always be best, but he felt really comfortable around Barbara Gordon. He knew enough not to be impertinent or cross the line that separated slave from free, but unless Barbara proved otherwise, she seemed to be one of the good ones.
He was in the middle of a discussion with her when a voice from the doorway asked, “May I come in?”
Astonished, Dick jumped up. “Cl…! Uh, yes, certainly. All right, Barbara?”
As the free person in the room, Barbara was in charge. “Of course.” She hurried over to Clark with Dick, helping him to the couch.
“Stretch out,” Dick commanded, and Clark obligingly complied with a fond smile.
Warmth spread through Dick as he realized why Clark had come down. If Barbara was giving him a hard time, Clark wanted to know.
Alfred had come in with milk and cookies a half hour ago, doing the same thing, Dick realized. He hid his smile, feeling loved.
Dick Grayson never turned away love.
“Very good, Richard. I think we can call it a day.” Barbara snapped her book shut. “You’ve got your homework, and tomorrow we’ll work on the computer.”
Dick nodded. He was grateful that Barbara hadn’t made him feel ignorant. Clark and Bruce had assured him that he was advanced despite lack of formal schooling. Another thing to be grateful to his parents for, tutoring him in secret despite the stiff punishment they would have received if discovered, though he doubted that Pop Haly would have cared.
He set aside his momentary pain at the memory of his parents and smiled as Barbara asked, “Ready for some gymnastics?”
“Always.” Dick went over to Clark, who had fallen asleep. He lightly touched his forehead.
“Is he okay?”
“Low-grade fever, but better than it’s been.”
“I’m sorry to see Lord Wayne’s Prize so ill.”
“Me, too.” The flare-ups worried Dick. Some Wertham’s Disease sufferers lived for years with the proper medicine, but others grew progressively worse, treatment or not. “I think we better let him sleep. He needs it.”
“The gym is this way.”
Barbara was suitably impressed with the set-up. Dick escorted her upstairs to the guest bedroom where Alfred had stored her gym bag. He went to his own room and changed, then waited for Barbara out in the hall.
She emerged in dark-purple tights, long red hair tied back in a ponytail. Dick was wearing his circus practice tights of red, green, and yellow.
Down in the gym he watched her warm up, then start her routine. Impressed, he did his own series of routines on the rings and pommel horse, then waited for his turn at the uneven bars.
“Let’s see what you’ve got,” Barbara challenged with a smile as she stuck the landing.
Dick grinned and performed a dazzling series of exercises, flipping out to perform his landing.
“Wow.” Barbara sounded impressed.
“Let’s see what you can do on the balance beam.”
Eager to perform for a new audience, Dick hopped up on the beam.
The beam was the simplest piece of equipment and yet the most difficult. Balancing and performing somersaults and other tricks on a surface no more than three inches wide was astounding to most people.
Dick was not most people.
He concentrated on his routine, of course, but his sense of balance was perfect.
Some people had sense of direction, some a sense of color or style or taste.
He had balance.
Dick somersaulted backward on the beam, then performed a one-handed handstand. He did a split and then somersaulted forward.
The sound of clapping thrilled him. He jumped off the beam and bowed, Barbara giggling with delight.
“You really are good.”
“Of course,” Dick said breezily.
Barbara jumped onto the beam, somersaulting and then performing a series of balancing exercises.
Dick watched with a professional eye, and then it was his turn to applaud.
“Wow, you are very good."
Barbara sat on the beam and swung her legs, hopping off.
Applause caused both children’s heads to turn. Clark was standing in the doorway, one shoulder leaning against the doorjamb. He was smiling despite looking ready to fall down.
“Cl…uh, you shouldn’t be up,” Dick said as he ran forward.
Clark gently caressed Dick’s hair. “I wanted to see you and Miss Gordon perform.”
Dick briefly hugged Clark, then said, “You should really be in bed. Let me call Alfred and get you upstairs.”
“No need.” Barbara came forward. “I’ll help.”
Clark accepted the children’s assistance, Dick helping him get under the covers. Barbara discreetly looked around the room but paid attention to caring for Clark. Dick liked her even more.
“Thank you, Miss Gordon.” Clark liked her, too.
“You’re welcome. Please try to rest.”
As they left the bedroom, Barbara asked, “Ready for some more gymnastics, hotshot?”
The children hurried down the staircase, Clark smiling in his room.