Pairings/Characters: Clark/Bruce, Dick, Alfred
Continuity: Movieverse (Superman Returns/Batman Begins/The Dark Knight)
Summary: The boys go on a road trip.
Date Of Completion: December 13, 2008
Date Of Posting: December 13, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1802
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Happy Birthday, saavikam77! :) Your prompt of movieverse Clark/Bruce and ‘travel’ is fulfilled! Whew! I got this one in under the wire! Written by flashlight during the power outage during the Great New England Ice Storm of 2008! ;) I snuck in a few comicsverse references. I figured if you could put Dick into a movieverse fic (The Greatest Gift I Can Give You), I could, too, and the ‘giant’ line was too good to pass up! ;) Otherwise, I was thinking Brandon Routh and Christian Bale, and Michael Caine, too! Dick is probably more comicsverse. ;)
The roadside attractions are a mix of the real thing and my imagination. America can be a weird place. ;)
Bruce found himself staring at a row of Cadillacs up-ended in the ground, their tail fins pointing to the sky while the other ends were buried deeply.
“First you bring me to Perry’s Nut House in Maine, the Ether Dome in Boston, then the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, and now this piece of art. Oh, and we saw the giant milk bottles in Boston and Rhode Island, the giant pancake in Pennsylvania, and the hair museum in Missouri.”
Clark beamed. “Great material, eh?”
Bruce rolled his eyes. “What next, the giant chicken at the Kentucky Fried Chicken factory?” He didn’t know if it had one. He was just guessing.
“Hmm, not on the list, but we can stop there on the way back.” Bruce wasn’t sure if Clark was joking or not. “How about the Nutcracker Museum?”
Bruce threw up his hands and walked to the car.
When Clark had proposed a road trip across America, Bruce had thought it would be a suitably quirky thing for a madcap playboy to do. He just hadn’t realized Clark’s assignment: write about the roadside oddities across the country.
Bruce sighed. And Alfred thought he had seen and done odd things during his seven-year odyssey around the world.
Clark finished taking pictures and hopped into the ’57 Chevy that Bruce had insisted they take. The reporter started up the engine and they drove off with a squeal of tires and gravel.
Clark was so happy that he glowed. A little less bombastically than Rudolph, but shiny nonetheless. Traveling seemed to suit him.
Bruce ran a finger up and down the back of Clark’s neck and felt him shiver.
Well, maybe this trip wasn’t so bad after all.
Clark insisted that they skip chains when they could for meals, stopping instead at quirky mom-and-pop places. Mostly that meant diners, tributes to chrome and ‘50s music in a lot of places.
The latest diner was typical: a counter with pies under glass, booths with laminated menus, and a Wurlitzer at the far end. The plaque outside said the diner had been constructed by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1906.
“I suppose a hairy-armed guy named Joe is the chief cook and bottle-washer,” Bruce said wryly.
“Probably.” Clark opened the menu and scrutinized every inch. He ordered sausage, waffles, toast, and eggs from a middle-aged waitress with blue hair and a warm smile.
“Is it breakfast time?”
“Diners serve breakfast 24/7.”
“Tea and toast won’t do?” At Clark’s shake of the head, Bruce ordered a turkey club sandwich and French fries. He watched the waitress go and asked, “So where’s this Nutcracker Museum?”
“About thirty miles from here.”
“Shouldn’t this museum in Kansas be the Judy Garland Museum instead of the Nutcracker?”
Bruce wondered at his life. After years of wandering and training, he’d become Batman. He’d become the scourge of Gotham, criminals truly fearing him, and then this alien had come into his life: shy, bright, and totally unforgettable. He supposed that they could be considered an odd couple.
Bruce was fascinated by the double persona of his lover: shy and bumbling Clark Kent, confident and powerful Superman.
He liked all parts of his Kryptonian, but Clark fascinated him even more than Superman. How could such a gosh-darn, gee-whiz kind of guy also be the most powerful being on the planet?
Probably the most fascinating part of it all was that much of the Clark Kent persona was really the man himself, not just a disguise: small-town boy, farmers’ son, a sweet and gentle man who transferred those qualities to Superman.
And he genuinely liked diners.
As the waitress delivered their orders, Bruce said, “You’re just a regular piece of Americana, aren’t you?”
Clark grinned and dug into his waffles.
“So says the man who keeps giant pennies and dinosaurs,” Clark whispered.
The giant Nutcracker was six feet tall and painted in bright red, yellow, blue, and green. It was the most imposing of all the figures of varying sizes. There were other characters from the ballet, Bruce looking closely at a Clara doll.
“This ballet’s been done to death,” he said.
“Didn’t Dick dance in a production of it when he was taking ballet lessons?”
“Mmm, yes.” Bruce bent down and looked at a sugar plum fairy doll. “He could have been a great dancer,” he said softly.
“I’m sure he would have been.”
Clark took notes and pictures, suggesting, “Maybe you should stop at the gift shop.”
“And get a giant Nutcracker?”
“You could afford it.”
Bruce smirked, but he followed Clark into the gift shop, and Clark noticed two gifts bought. Smiling, he picked up a small Nutcracker for his mother.
Driving the Chevy was a fringe benefit, Bruce thought. The top down, the wind in his hair, Clark by his side…what could be better?
Bruce adjusted his sunglasses, one arm resting on the car door. There was jockeying for a radio station, Clark wanting golden oldies, Bruce jazz. They compromised, listening for one hour to the oldies, one hour to jazz.
Bruce felt happy. People didn’t seem to recognize him, Internet or not, and if they did, were keeping their distance. Surprisingly, the paparazzi and TV celebrity shows like Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition weren’t trailing him and Clark across the country. He was just a regular guy, tooling across America with his boyfriend in a ’57 Chevy.
Clark was studying a map while Bruce speeded up. Clark always stayed at the speed limit. Bruce Wayne raced cars semi-professionally. No speed limit for him!
“You’re going 75 in a 65 mile-per-hour zone,” Clark said without looking up.
“So you have a built-in speedometer?”
Clark grinned while still looking at the map.
“Once we get to Chicago we can start the old Route 66 route.”
“Just like the old TV show?”
The day ended with a motel hunt. Clark insisted on staying at them instead of fancy hotels, and tried hard to bypass chains again and go to small places run by locals. Some were rundown, but mostly they were able to find well-kept establishments.
But not tonight.
They checked into one of the rundown variety, and Bruce knew that Alfred would have had a fit if he saw the state of the bedsheets, but as long as there weren’t bedbugs, Bruce was all right with them. He’d stayed in worse places as Matches Malone or other undercover disguises.
Still, he couldn’t help but think of the nice, comfy, clean bed in Clark’s room at the Kent farm they’d stayed in last night. Or the pretty muslin curtains at the windows and Martha Kent’s cheerful presence and great cooking.
In this room, the TV was a small portable screwed down to the dresser, and a few forlorn hangers dangled from the pipe in the closet. The rug was faded and there were faded spots on the walls where pictures had once hung. The bathroom…better skip a shower until tomorrow.
Clark kicked the door shut behind him as his arms were full of junk food from the vending machine from the lobby. He balanced an ice bucket and Bruce grabbed it before it hit the dubious carpet.
“That bed is…”
Clark laughed. “No bugs. I checked.”
Bruce shook his head. “This is your idea of a fine lodging?”
“No, but there was no place else.” Even a chain would have been better, but Clark was right. This was it for now. More promising places were booked solid.
Bruce sighed. “Okay, let me strip to my undershirt and shorts. This place doesn’t deserve anything classier.”
Clark laughed again and piled the junk food on the bedside table, popped open two cans of Diet Coke and poured the soda into glasses they had picked up from the Beverages Of America Museum.
“How many kitschy souvenirs have you bought?”
“All on the expense account. Article pictures.”
Bruce propped the flat pillow against the creaky headboard and sat down, still unsure of the sheets.
“You’re hot in your skivvies.”
Bruce grinned and took a swig of soda. “What Entertainment Tonight wouldn’t give to get a snapshot of me now.”
Clark stripped down to his T-shirt and boxers, sitting next to Bruce after kicking off shoes and socks. He drank his soda and offered a bag of mini pretzels. “Cheaper than a fancy hotel’s mini bar.”
Bruce laughed and took the bag. He flicked on the TV. At least it was a color set. An ancient Western was playing on a local station. He studied it for a minute, then snapped his fingers. “3:10 To Yuma!”
“The movie. It’s 3:10 To Yuma.”
“Ah.” Clark watched Glenn Ford on the screen. “Didn’t they remake that film a few years ago?”
“I think so.”
They watched in silence for awhile, an ad for The Gunfight At the O.K. Corral flashing on-screen. Bruce said, “Burt Lancaster was hot.”
“Should I be jealous?”
“Well, Dick says that his aerialist background always made him one of the most popular movie stars in the circus community. And with that trapeze artist’s body, I say he was hot.”
Clark harrumphed and his companion’s eyes sparkled.
“Didn’t he and Kirk Douglas do a lot of films together because they were such good friends?”
A few minutes of quiet, then Clark said, “Kirk Douglas was hot.”
Clark handed Bruce his cellphone. Bruce dialed and smiled. “Hey, Dick! How’s it going?” He fished around for a pretzel. “Quiet in the city? Excellent. So did you ace that math test? I knew you could!”
Clark flipped through his notes while Bruce talked, listening with one ear as he planned the next day’s itinerary. As always, Dick’s voice was cheerful.
“We’re baking chocolate chip cookies. Sorry, none will be left by the time you get home!”
“Not surprising. Talk to you tomorrow.” His voice dropped. “Love you.” The phone was switched on the other end. “Hello, Alfred. I assume everything’s fine at the Manor? Sorry, what was I thinking?” Both men grinned at Bruce’s faux pas. “Yes, as I told Dick, we saw the Nutcracker Museum today. And we’re staying in a fine representation of American roadside lodging.” Clark could hear Alfred’s dry sarcastic rebuttal, knowing full well what Bruce really meant. “I shall keep an eye out for bedbugs, my friend. Call you tomorrow.”
Bruce signed off affectionately and put the phone on the other bedside table. “Everything’s okay back home.”
“Good.” As Bruce watched the movie, finishing the pretzels, Clark said, “Thanks.”
“For coming with me.”
Bruce smiled and the rays of the setting sun penetrated the gloom of the room.
Tomorrow was another day on the great American highway.