Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Bruce (twice!)
Genres: AU, Romance
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: Clark and Bruce meet their alternates in another universe.
Chapter Summary: While eating lunch with their counterparts, Clark and Bruce discover some startling social attitudes in this new universe.
Date Of Completion: August 28, 2008
Date Of Posting: September 15, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1325
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2008 DCU Snapshot Fic Request Meme for slvrbld747. Pairing: Clark/Bruce. Prompt: Meet Alternates. :)
This was originally going to be a short scene but it grew alarmingly! ;)
All chapters can be found here.
TEA AND SANDWICHES
Time travel and alternate universes were just a fact of life, and we’d hit the double jackpot, I thought wryly.
In the 23rd century on another Earth, Clark and I were having tea with our counterparts. My cowl was off and my counterpart had also removed his mask. Their costumes were similar, though different enough in style to tell us apart. My counterpart seemed fond of silver, using it in his utility belt, around the Bat-signal emblem on his chest, and bordering his cape. The black parts of his uniform glittered, a design feature that at first had shocked me until I saw the literally-shining city of Gotham.
I’d expected the architecture to look like The Jetsons in Metropolis. In fact, the home we were in now was all glass, the other Clark explaining that the house also contained what was called shaded glass, giving the occupants privacy. The windows were see-through, clouds the scenery as we were several hundred feet up in the air supported by slender yet incredibly strong poles.
The other Clark’s uniform bore the House of El symbol in yellow-and-red, and the rest of the outfit shimmered in ethereal white, threads of pale blue, yellow, and red appearing and disappearing as the cloth shifted.
“It’s Kryptonian shimmercloth,” he’d explained, my Clark eagerly running his hands over it.
I sipped the tea. “Darjeeling?”
Bruce nodded. “Alfred swears by it.” He smiled. “Before you go back, I’ll show you the Manor. As you saw when you arrived, Gotham is quite different. Dick would love to meet you, too.”
“The ion storm that interfered with our transporter,” Clark said. “It still rages?”
His Clark nodded. I’d decided that it was a lot easier to designate them ‘his’ and ‘my’. Less confusion.
“Once it’s done, we can send you back. Until then, enjoy your time here.” He reached out and took his Bruce’s hand, my eyebrow going up. “I’ll make us some lunch. You wouldn’t want Bruce’s offering, believe me.”
“Some things never change,” Clark smirked, ignoring my kick under the table.
His Clark leaned down and kissed Bruce on the lips. “Entertain our guests, my love.”
My shock was reflected in Clark’s eyes. I hoped I wasn’t blushing. Clark and I were just friends, though our counterparts obviously weren’t.
“I’m sorry. Is something wrong?” Bruce asked.
“Um…” My Clark (ignore the rush of emotion at ‘my’) stammered, “Obviously you have no problems with letting people know about…you two being involved.”
Puzzled, Bruce asked, “Why would we?”
“Some cultures consider it taboo,” I said.
Bruce frowned. “We’ve encountered some backward cultures who forbid same-sex relationships, but it’s rare in the galaxy.”
I blinked. “So most of the planets practice gay relationships?”
“Of course. Some cultures practice only same-sex. Procreation is scientifically arranged. It’s a mark of an advanced culture to be either only same-sex or bi. Strictly opposite-sex is a lower form of evolution on the scale.”
Clark looked as stunned as I did. Bruce’s frown increased.
“Your Earth,” my Clark said, “has evolved to this?”
“Yes. From the days of Ancient Greece’s Theban Band ‘til now, same-sex has always been honored. Alexander the Great married Hephaestion and they and the troops feasted for three days. When Hephaestion died, Alexander went mad and died soon after.” Bruce sipped his tea. “Quite a tragic love story.” At his visitors’ exchange of looks, he put his teacup down abruptly, the china clattering in the saucer. “Do you mean to say…in your world…is gay love…taboo?”
At our nods, Bruce looked as stunned as I’d felt a few minutes ago.
“My Gods,” he muttered. “How barbaric!”
“Fresh fruit and sandwiches, gentlemen,” his Clark said cheerfully, a small servobot floating behind him as he emerged from the kitchen. “I hope you like…love, what’s wrong?”
Bruce looked at his partner with horrified sorrow in his eyes. “Same-sex pairings are taboo in their universe,” he whispered.
His Clark paled and grasped his mate’s hand. “No!”
“Well, that’s not exactly right,” my Clark hastened to say. Maybe I should just call him Kent. “Gays are winning more rights and don’t have to hide as much. Two states in the U.S. allow gay marriage as do a handful of countries.”
Our hosts didn’t look reassured. In fact, his Clark said, “You can’t get married?!” with those big, Clark-like eyes that makes my heart contract every time.
“No, except in those places.”
“I’m so sorry.” His Clark looked terribly sad, then visibly shook his mood off. “I’m sorry; I’m being a remiss host. Enjoy lunch, gentlemen.”
We spoke of other topics while we ate fruit and sandwiches with slightly-exotic flavors. The drink was lemonwater, his Clark said, and was a subtle taste, just as the tang of orange were in the sandwiches, though I didn’t see any orange slices or marmalade.
“Earth is part of a Galactic Federation,” his Clark explained. “Our Justice League has other chapters on other planets, and we work closely with the Green Lantern Corps.”
“We do, too,” said his counterpart. “Is Earth peaceful or still suffering war?”
“No war, but crime still exists,” Bruce said. A predatory gleam appeared in his eyes. “Apparently we still have a superstitious and cowardly lot.”
We exchanged looks.
Some things never changed.
“Can you stay awhile?” his Clark asked.
I shook my head. “We’re preparing for a very important off-world mission. We have to get back as soon as possible.”
“Of course.” A faraway look appeared in Kryptonian eyes. “The AI says you can return in twelve hours.”
“It’ll have to be outside of Gotham for your departure point, the same place where you arrived.” Bruce finished his lemonwater. “We’ll have to change into our civilian clothes, and you’ll have to do the same. You can carry your costumes.”
His Clark cleaned up while Bruce went to get our clothes.
I looked at my Clark.
“I wish we could stay longer. There’s so much to learn!” he said.
“Maybe we can come back someday.”
I hoped I was hiding my uneasiness. All this free and easy emotion between our counterparts…I ruthlessly tamped down my own feelings.
It just wouldn’t work in our world.
Bruce poked his head out. “Come on in the bedroom, gentlemen. You can change here.”
We entered the bedroom, a brighter version of my own. I resolutely ignored the king-size bed dominating the room.
The outfits were soft velvet, mine black shot through with silver, and Clark’s cobalt-blue with gold and scarlet threads running through it.
I ran my hands over the material. It was so soft…
Abruptly, I headed for the bathroom to change.
The bathroom was bright and gleaming. Did everything shine on this Earth? Irritated, I removed my costume and slipped on the civilian clothes.
Long, wide sleeves; a high v-necked collar, and narrow pants. A bit odd, but any era’s fashion could be considered strange. Fashion rarely made sense.
I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. I wasn’t uncomfortable with this world’s gayness.
I just didn’t want to start hoping for something that could never be.
I went back out into the bedroom and stopped short.
My Clark was standing in front of a full-length mirror, Bruce smoothing the sleeves.
Touching my Clark!
Clark was smiling as he looked at his reflection. He looked breathtakingly gorgeous, shimmering in rich blue. The red and yellow accents were perfect, of course.
Bruce met my Clark’s eyes and I could see appreciation there.
“Umm, do we wear our own boots?” I asked, my tone a little snappish.
Bruce shook himself out of his reverie. “Oh, no, there are boots to match. Let me get them for you.”
Of course they fit.
The boots were soft and supple, slipping right on. I stood up from the bed, walking easily.
“Thanks so much for the clothes, Bruce,” my Clark said.
Bruce smiled. “You are most welcome. Now…” Bruce checked his chronometer “…time to go.”
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