Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Dick, Edmund Caldwell, Harrison Caldwell, Clark/Bruce, Lex/Jamie
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark continue to juggle being lovers as well as Master and slave, Bruce continues his Abolitionist work, and a shocking Family Secret is revealed. Meanwhile, the Queen Family welcomes a new member, and Steve and Hal meet their Destinies, although neither one realizes it yet. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: There is always danger lurking around the corner for a slave.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): April 18, 2008
Date Of Posting: January 28, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1178
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The street performers juggled and danced, one performing a series of backflips, jewelry jangling. Dick loved seeing the act, his own limbs itching to do his own jumps and backflips.
The young girl performing the acrobatics flipped down the street, the crowd following. Dick hurried forward for a better look, slipping to the front of the crowd.
He was excited, the sights and sounds of the Festival reminding him of the circus. He hopped from one foot to the other, the music growing bouncier as the crowd clapped in time.
Just as the applause grew loudest, Dick realized he was far from Madame Zee’s tent. He quickly turned and weaved through the crowd, tripping and falling to his knees with a whuff! A hand grabbed him and he looked up, startled.
Cold ice spread through him as he saw the lizard-like smile of the man grasping his arm.
“So, what have we here?”
“M’lord, I beg forgiveness.”
Edmund Caldwell squeezed hard enough so that Dick winced. “A slave brat should watch where he’s going.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” His eyes darted to Harrison Caldwell, but the man was grinning. No help there.
Edmund yanked him to his feet. For an old man, he was strong. He leaned close, pale eyes boring into Dick.
Dick tried to stop shaking. He had faced murderous thugs as Robin, though the Joker hadn’t escaped from Arkham since he’d donned the cape and domino. But that was when he was a good guy catching a bad guy. Now he was just a slave facing a scary freeman.
A very scary freeman.
“Your Master lets you run wild. If you were my brat…”
Dick was very glad that Melody wasn’t with him anymore.
“You need to be taught discipline. Your Master really is lax, isn’t he?’
Anger flared in Dick. “My Master is good to me…uh!”
Dick sprawled on the ground, his jaw throbbing. Edmund towered over him with a smile, flexing his fingers while Harrison snickered.
“Discipline for a mouthy brat.” He raised his cane and brought it down hard on Dick’s thigh.
Dick strangled his cry of pain. He quickly ran through the techniques that Bruce had taught him to control pain. The Festival-goers walked past, reluctant to interfere with a Master disciplining his slave.
Dick started to stand up but was shoved back down hard. Oh, Bruce was going to be so angry! He should never have drifted away.
“If you were mine…” Edmund raised the cane again and Dick steeled himself for another blow.
The cane descended.
Suddenly, a hand stopped it.
“He’s not yours.” Bruce’s voice was cold. “He’s mine.”
Edmund smiled as he put his cane down. “Bruce, you should keep this one on a leash.”
Bruce gasped Dick’s hand, helping him up. “Thank you for your concern,” Bruce said, sarcasm dripping from the words. “Now, Edmund, I’m going to tell you this one final time: never touch my slaves again.”
Bruce’s eyes were blue ice, close to Bat-like, but Edmund’s smile merely grew more smug.
“Of course, Bruce.”
Edmund and Harrison walked away, Bruce watching them go. Then he dismissed the old man and his son from his thoughts and crouched down, Clark beside him. Dick’s body trembled.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Master, I shouldn’t have wandered off.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.” Bruce grasped Dick’s shoulders.
The misery in Dick’s face pierced Bruce’s heart. He pulled the child to him, rubbing his back as Clark stroked his hair.
“Do you…do you still trust me?” Dick whispered.
Bruce knew that Dick meant their nocturnal partnership as well.
“Always,” he breathed.
He hugged Dick tightly, trying to stem the tremors.
Finally, they broke apart, Bruce realizing that Lex was right behind him.
“Is he all right?”
“Yes,” Bruce said. “Lex…”
“I’m sorry, Bruce. I failed you.”
Bruce straightened up, holding Dick’s hand tightly. Clark gently rubbed the little boy’s back, hoping to calm him.
“Lex, your Prize was being molested by a pair of drunks. Of course you had to save him.”
Lex still looked guilty. Jamie hovered nearby, slightly disheveled but worried for his Master.
“Lex, when I next need protection for my slaves, you’ll be the person I turn to.” He added softly, "Honor Served."
Lex swallowed, his eyes bright. “Thanks, Bruce.”
Bruce smiled. He didn’t want to blame Lex or Dick. Both had a share of guilt, he supposed, as Lex had been charged to watch Dick, and his boy shouldn’t have wandered off, but sometimes a situation was a perfect storm. He was just grateful that Dick was all right.
Jamie slipped his hand into Lex’s and received a grateful smile.
The Manor was quiet as everyone had gone to bed soon after coming back from the city.
Bruce watched Dick sleep, anger rising as he thought of the ugly bruise on the boy’s thigh. He had wanted to return home immediately, but Dick had insisted upon staying.
“Pain is to be ignored, right, Master?”
Clever little one, to quote the Batman’s training words back at him.
And so he had agreed to stay, even putting Dick in a seat on the Ferris wheel, a wide-eyed Melody beside him. The wheel was close to flying, and that would settle Dick down.
It had worked, and despite his limp, Dick had enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Clark was sitting on the other side of the bed, gazing at Dick.
“He’s so special, Clark.” Bruce’s voice was soft.
Clark smiled at him. “I know. I’ve felt it in my heart since the moment I saw him.” He gently smoothed Dick’s hair back from his forehead.
“Melody is a courageous little soul. She pointed us in the right direction to go after Dick. I’m glad she didn’t meet up with Edmund.”
Clark laughed softly. “Melody ran right up to Dick when we returned to the tent, didn’t she?”
Clark grinned, then he gently stroked the damaged leg. “Will he be all right?”
“He should be, but no patrol tomorrow.”
“You’re going to allow him to trick-or-treat, right? He was so looking forward to it. He’s never been able to do it, and soon he’ll be too old.”
Bruce closed his hand over Clark’s. “Don’t worry, love. I promised him he could still go. Melody, too. She’s very excited.”
“She’s a doll.” Clark touched Dick’s hair again, wanting to lavish love on this child. “I’m so glad you got her away from that hellhole.”
“You showed me the way.”
Clark smiled. “You have a good heart, Bruce. You would have found your way eventually.”
Bruce smiled a trifle sadly. “I wish I could believe that.”
“Don’t sell yourself short.”
“I can’t lose him, Clark,” Bruce whispered.
Clark’s very blue eyes looked at Bruce. “I know.” He laid his hand on Dick’s arm. “I can’t, either.”
Bruce’s hand slipped over to Clark’s and grasped it, their joined hands resting on Dick’s arm.