Title: Rainbow's Freedom (Sanctuary Arc) (11/17)
Characters/Pairings: Clark/Bruce, Alfred
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices slavery. The wealthy freeman Bruce Wayne acquires a highly-prized bedslave whom he learns to cherish...but can he every truly love a slave? And will it all be moot as a weak abolitionist movement slowly gathers strength while the Galactic Empire remains in a perpetual state of Cold War? The entire series can be found here.
Categories: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: When a slave breaks the Code, there are severe consequences.
Date Of Completion: March 1, 2007
Date Of Posting: April 10, 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 2217
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“When a slave touches a freeman
while not in defense of his Master
or Mistress, punishment shall be
swift and severe.”
“The Slaveowners' Manual”
SWIFT AND SEVERE
It was a beautiful day for a walk. Clark was feeling better, so Bruce suggested a change of scenery. Their pace was brisk but leisurely enough to enjoy the colors of the trees as they walked along the road, Clark in his dark glasses as always outside the estate. The houses in this neighborhood were set far back from the road, hidden behind iron gates and long driveways, so they met no one until they had been out for half an hour.
“Hello, Bruce,” said a graying, distinguished, elderly gentleman as he exited one of those iron gates, cane in hand. A boy of about twelve and a girl around eight were on the driveway behind him, playing catch.
The businessman didn’t even glance at Clark. Bruce wasn’t even sure that Edmund Caldwell knew that Clark was there. Slaves were invisible to him.
“I hear those Russian imports are taking the city by storm. Funny what the latest fads are.” Edmund leaned on his cane.
“Yes, well, we have off-world goods to choose from, too.”
Edmund pounded his cane on the ground. “Our booming economy will flourish under our ordered social structure. Mankind has never been more prosperous…”
The little girl’s shriek interrupted their conversation. The boy hit her again, snarling, “You stupid bitch!” He raised his hand to strike her yet again when Clark moved quickly, grabbing the boy’s wrist and shoving him away, turning to the sobbing girl.
Bruce felt fear clutch his gut as he saw the collar and manacles on the little girl and none on the boy, who he recognized as Edmund’s grandson Sam. Sam screamed, “He laid hands on me! You fuckin’ whore!” He slammed his fist across Clark’s face, then reached down to pick up a bat that lay at his feet and aimed at Clark’s head.
Bruce was there to grab the bat, wrenching it out of Sam’s hands. “Enough!” he growled.
“That whore touched me!” Sam spat.
“Clean up your language,” Bruce snapped.
“Your slave laid hands on my grandson,” said Edmund. “You know the punishment for that offense.”
“I’ll see that he’s punished. You have my word.” Bruce lifted his chin. “Honor Served.”
Edmund’s gray eyes were like flint. “It’s my right to see the punishment carried out here.” He barked out, “Kevin! Carlos!” Two burly men came down the driveway, dressed as gardeners. Edmund Caldwell never noticed slaves…until they violated the Code.
Bruce felt panic twist his stomach. “You can’t…”
“Master?” Clark asked softly.
“Hush.” Bruce said over his shoulder gently as he remained standing in front of his slave, who was crouched down and holding the little girl. “My slave has amnesia. He doesn’t remember all the rules.”
Edmund sniffed. “Ignorance is no excuse.”
A police cruiser pulled up, two patrolmen exiting the car. The older man was craggy, a slight paunch stretching his uniform. “I’m Officer Stabler and this is Officer Benson.” The younger man nodded. “Is there a problem here?”
“This slave of Mr. Wayne’s touched my grandson. Shoved him, in fact, while he was disciplining a slave. I am exercising my right to extract punishment.”
“I can punish my slave…”
“Sorry, Mr. Wayne. Mr. Caldwell is within his rights.”
Bruce clenched and unclenched his right hand. “Very well, but I wish to be present.”
Stabler nodded. “That’s your right, Mr. Wayne.”
Clark was standing up now, holding the little girl’s hand. His eyes were hidden by the dark glasses but Bruce could read the anxiety in his body. The gardeners took hold of Clark’s arms. He smiled down at the little girl and was tugged away, the men leading him up the driveway to the impressive mansion.
“Out back, officers.” Edmund sounded almost jovial as he pointed with his cane.
Bruce grimly noted the whipping post situated so that anyone sitting on the porch would have a good view.
“Sixty lashes.” Edmund took a seat on the porch, Sam sitting beside him with a smirk. The old man turned to Bruce. “I hope you have a good supply of herbal cream. We’ll be using the bullwhip.”
Bruce’s face was a thundercloud. He crossed his arms as he watched the gardeners lead Clark to the post under the watchful eyes of the policemen.
“Strip him,” growled Edmund.
“Can’t you just remove his shirt?” Bruce ground out.
Smug in his power, Edmund waved his hand carelessly. “Shirt only.”
Kevin went to the garden shed and emerged with a bullwhip, hooks attached to the ends of the cat-o-nine tails. He flicked it expertly.
Clark’s shirt was removed by Carlos, who handed it to Officer Benson. Kevin laid the whip on the ground and helped Carlos grab the manacles suspended by rusty chains. They stretched out Clark’s arms, then his legs after locking them into ankle irons, spread-eagling him as Kevin readied the bullwhip.
The little girl crept up to a bush, her eyes wide as she clutched a branch.
Bruce’s face was set in stone as the first blow landed.
& & & & & &
Clark closed his eyes, the sting of the whip so sharp that it squeezed out his breath. He had never felt pain like this before, or at least in his limited memory.
Maybe amnesia’s a good thing this time.
Breath hissed out between his teeth as the second blow fell. He tried to concentrate on something else. The warmth of the sun, the cool breezes, anything…
The little girl. Instinct had driven him forward , despite knowing touching a freeman was forbidden. Something in him had screamed, This is wrong!
I’m sorry, Master. I’d do it again.
A cry escaped from him as jagged hooks tore flesh, pain exploding in his head and body. His muscles trembled as another blow fell, then another, then another. He lost count as his world telescoped down to savage pain and his effort to contain his reaction.
Dazedly he opened his eyes, his stomach churning as he noticed the bloodstains on the wood of the whipping post. How many of the family’s bondservants had stood here where he was standing, suffering this punishment?
He bit back a whimper, trying to take deep breaths.
& & & & & &
Bruce was stone, his muscles rigid. He was a statue in black, arms still crossed. He forced himself to watch.
If he has to suffer through it, I can watch it.
Bruce flinched inside, Clark barely moving. He was silent except for a cry torn from him like the flesh off his back.
Alfred, I hope we have a lot of that healing cream.
He would be damned if his beautiful slave was going to be disfigured for the likes of Edmund Caldwell and his demonspawn. Laughter brought his attention over to the porch. The two Caldwells were clearly enjoying the show.
All they need is popcorn, he thought savagely.
The sound of the whip smacking flesh curdled Bruce’s insides. This wasn’t some pleasure game with a whip that merely stung for the sake of pleasure. This was a full-fledged punishment with an ugly bullwhip.
He turned back to watching Clark, so grim he thought he might crack and shatter into a million pieces.
& & & & & &
Clark heard the whistle of the whip and braced for the next blow. Dizziness swept over him as the pain exploded, and he was grateful for the restraints, otherwise he might have collapsed.
Shame bubbled over like blood. He’d disgraced his Master, a man who had never abused him, been nothing but good to him.
He must be disappointed and angry.
The sun no longer warmed him. Cold spread along his limbs.
I wish I could be numb.
He gasped as the pain roared along his back like fire.
& & & & & &
Bruce wondered if he would grow roots here. Sixty lashes were a high number, but slaves could not be allowed to touch freemen without permission or while not in defense of their Masters. Touching…shoving…a freeman who was disciplining his slave was a grave crime.
But that old jackal doesn’t need to force Clark to endure sixty lashes. He could be generous and reduce the number.
But first you have to have a heart.
A movement out of the corner of his eye caught Bruce’s attention. The little girl. For a moment, he resented her, but then he realized how unfair that was and noted the bruises on her face and arms. She had suffered enough, and would suffer in the future.
Please, Gods Above, let this go quicker.
& & & & & &
Clark thought of his dream. Freedom, flying, how he would love to be in the sky and feel the wind on his face.
He cried out, the latest lash so savage and so deep that he felt nauseous. Blood thrummed in his head, threatening to fly to pieces as his body jerked with the next blow. Laughter rang in his ears and for one terrifying moment, he thought he was back in the slavers’ camp.
Pain became his existence.
For the heinous crime of defending an abused little girl, we sentence you to sixty excruciating lashes.
Your Honor, if it please the Court…
The smell of blood was cloyingly strong.
The condemned may make a statement.
How do you plead for the record?
Your Honor…I would do it again.
The world spun crazily as he screamed.
& & & & & &
The scream tore through Bruce as his fingers dug into his arms.
Clark slumped in his bonds.
The whip rose again. Bruce moved. He grabbed the whipmaster’s arm.
“Bruce!” Edmund was outraged. “Officers, the erstwhile Mr. Wayne is interfering with lawful punishment.”
Benson looked embarrassed, as if he was at fault. He ran his fingers through short brown hair and looked at his partner.
“Mr. Wayne…” Stabler began.
“The sixty lashes are done. This man was going to administer a sixty-first blow.” Bruce coiled the whip, looking darkly dangerous as he faced the policemen.
“Nonsense!” Edmund sputtered. “Kevin, how many lashes?”
“I was up to fifty-nine, sir.”
“There, you see? Finish the job.”
“Enough.” Bruce threw the whip down and strode toward the whipping post.
Stabler said, “Sorry, Mr. Caldwell.” The veteran officer adjusted his cap. “You’ve gotten your pound of flesh. Leave it be.”
Edmund scowled, Sam sulking beside him.
“Benson, assist Mr. Wayne.”
The younger officer nodded and trotted to the post.
Bruce’s fingers shook as he unfastened the left manacle. He could barely look at Clark’s back, a mass of blood and welts.
Clark’s beautiful skin!
Bruce nearly sobbed with rage and sorrow. The smell of blood sickened him.
Benson unlocked the ankle irons, then the other wrist manacle, he and Bruce grabbing Clark before he collapsed to the ground. Bruce’s face settled into a scowl again.
“Can we get a ride from you gentlemen?” Bruce asked the officers.
“Certainly, Mr. Wayne,” Stabler said. “I’ll get the car. Please wait here.”
Bruce was grateful. He wanted to get Clark away from this place as quickly as possible. Silence fell over the tableau until Edmund ambled over.
“You should have better control of your slave, Bruce. A man of your standing needs to keep perfect control. We can’t have slaves taking liberties.”
Bruce looked at the old man and his smirking grandson. “Stay away from my slave, Edmund. You and Sam both.”
Edmund’s gray eyes glinted. “Just remember you can’t apply that cream for six hours.” A tiny smile curved his lips. “He needs to remember his offense, not to mention his place.”
Bruce’s stomach dropped. He had forgotten about that six-hour rule.
The cruiser appeared and Benson helped Bruce get a semi-conscious Clark into the back seat. Clark’s moan tore at Bruce. “Put that shirt on the seat back.” Benson spread out Clark’s shirt. Bruce let Clark rest his head on his shoulder, but if Clark needed to be laid back, the shirt would soak up the blood.
Thankfully the ride was short. At the Manor, Benson helped him again with Clark. Alfred came out the front door, shock on his face.
“Master Bruce! What…?”
“Help me get Clark inside, Alfred.”
“I can help you, sir,” Benson offered.
They climbed up the stairs and half-dragged Clark down the hall. In the bedroom they gently laid him on his stomach on the bed after Alfred turned down the spread.
“Thank you, Officer,” Bruce said.
Benson nodded and left the room. “Alfred, please get some water.” The butler nodded and quickly left the room.
Bruce laid a hand on Clark’s bare shoulder. “I’m sorry, Clark.”
“It’s all right.” No, it isn’t. “I…can’t apply the healing cream for six hours.”
“It’s a damn rule.” Bruce crossed around to the other side of the bed. He could see Clark’s face. “I’m sorry.”
Clark looked at him through a haze of pain, then slipped his fingers across the silk sheets to grasp Bruce’s hand. A squeeze, then he closed his eyes.
Swallowing, Bruce squeezed back.