Title: Rainbow's Freedom (Sanctuary Arc) (12/17)
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: Bruce struggles with the aftermath of Clark's punishment.
Date Of Completion: March 5, 2007
Date Of Posting: April 12, 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 1407
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“A gentleman’s word is his bond.”
Bertram Ellison Adams
“The Gentleman’s Code”
The clouds had rolled in during the last hour, fitting Bruce’s mood. He sat in a chair by the bed, still holding Clark’s hand.
Two hours down. Four to go.
He stared out the window, unable to bear looking at Clark’s back…or his face. The grandfather clock in the hall, a twin to the one downstairs in the library, ticked in the silence. A blackbird flew across the window, wind bending the trees. A shower of gold and scarlet scattered down to the lawn.
It’s all my fault. I should have impressed upon Clark the severity of the consequences of such an action. He’s amnesiac, can’t possibly remember everything he needs to know in this harsh world…
A sharp intake of breath drew Bruce to look at Clark’s face. The hand in his crushed his grip as his slave labored to fight the pain.
He ran his free hand through Clark’s hair, leaning down to whisper, “Hold on, Clark, I won’t fail you.” This time.
Bruce slipped his hand out of Clark’s grasp, leaving the room with the certainty that he’d go mad if he sat there for another four hours listening to his slave’s suffering.
Code be damned.
He strode down the hall shouting, “Alfred!”
“Sir?” The butler called up from the foyer.
“Get the cream, a bowl of water, towels, and bandages.”
Alfred’s expression changed from apprehensive to proud. “Yes, sir!”
Alfred went on his mission. The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Bruce hurried down the stairs and yanked open the door.
Officers Stabler and Benson stood there, looking uncomfortable, while Edmund Caldwell tapped his cane on the portico floor.
“Uh, Mr. Wayne…” Stabler began.
“Mr. Caldwell has requested that we check…” the discomfort was getting worse “…to see that you’re following the Code about the wait time, as per the law.”
Bruce stared for a moment, then tilted his head up and spoke in a haughty tone. “I follow the Code, Officer.” His eyes were obsidian in their darkness as he looked at Edmund. “Honor Served.”
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne. That’s good enough for us.”
“Officer…” Edmund sputtered.
“Sir, Mr. Wayne’s word is as good as gold.”
Bruce closed the door. Stabler would take care of this. Turning, he muttered, “If you can’t go all haughty on people, what good is being the Prince of Gotham?”
He hadn’t broken his honor. He had stuck to the Code and had been truthful about it.
Now it was time to break it.
Alfred appeared with the requested items as soon as the door closed. He had been waiting until it had been safe to come out.
Alfred, you’re a gem.
Bruce took the bowl and towels while Alfred carried the cream and bandages. They hurried upstairs and laid out everything. Bruce dipped one of the smaller towels in the water and began cleaning the wounds. Clark’s breath hissed.
Bruce’s touch was gentle as he worked to clean the blood. So much blood. He forced himself to restrain his tension, guilt gnawing at him. Clark didn’t need to sense any of that right now.
Little moans escaped Clark. His fingers grabbed a fistful of sheet as Bruce worked. Alfred kept the bowl steady, his expression imperturbable.
After the wounds were cleaned, Bruce began applying the healing cream. He could feel some of the tension drain away from Clark.
It was a travesty, really, despoiling such beauty. The cream would remove the scars and leave only the faintest reminders, but it shouldn’t have happened. Guilty or not, his gentle slave didn’t deserve such severe punishment. Bruce hoped that Clark didn’t notice how his hand trembled as he applied the cream.
Clark’s cool skin was warming under his touch. It felt silky-smooth where the whip had missed.
Though that bastard Caldwell employs a master whipsman. He didn’t miss much.
When Bruce had finished, he whispered, “Try and get some sleep.”
Clark nodded and drifted away.
& & & & & &
Dark clouds boiled overhead. Wind lashed up from the ocean, cold and wild, slapping his face. He struggled to keep his glasses on as he stumbled. The wind whipped through his hair, cutting through his clothes, stinging his face.
He began to run down a deserted road past woods and iron gates and walls. The wind was harsh, pulling at his clothes like greedy fingers, shredding his shirt and scoring his skin.
The wind howled, screaming through the darkness. He ran faster, blood freezing as he heard footsteps. The cries of “Grab him!” and “Slut!” were snatched away by the wind, his heart pounding.
He was running blindly, confused as screams mingled with the wind.
He ran faster.
“You’re our only hope!”
His heart pounded.
“They’re hunting us down!”
He stumbled as sunlight suddenly burst upon him, illuminating a gate. Hands reached out beseechingly; ragged, thin people in headbands trapped behind the bars, chains trailing from their necks and wrists…
The sunlight faded and chains appeared on him, the manacles cold and harsh against his skin. He crashed into the woods, branches stinging as he ran toward…he didn’t know what.
He cried out as he fell, mocking laughter so close…
“Help me!” The pain cut through his heart. “I need…Bruce!! Help me!!”
A great shadow fell across the forest, the footsteps fading as black silk fell over him, covering him protectively…
& & & & & &
“Shh, it’s all right, I’m here.”
Clark jerked awake, shaking as he opened his eyes. Bruce was lying beside him in the bed, holding his hand. Clark coughed, licking his lips. Bruce poured him a glass of water from the pitcher on the nightstand, holding the glass as Clark drank gratefully.
“Bad dream?” Clark nodded. “That’s okay. You’ve lived through some of mine.”
That was true. Clark remembered the first time Bruce had suffered a nightmare in his presence. It had been a bad one.
“I…can I sit up?”
Bruce bit his lip. “Your back…wait.” He left the room and came back in with an armful of pillows. “These should help.”
It took a few minutes, but the pillows were arranged and Clark gently set back against them. He winced at first contact, then relaxed. Bruce sat on the edge of the bed.
“Even with the cream, it’ll take a few days to fully recover.” Bruce’s eyes darkened. “They really did a number on you.” Clark’s look of compassion rattled him. Clark had been the one whipped, not him!
“I’m sure you’ll take good care of me,” Clark said softly.
Something flickered in Bruce’s eyes he couldn’t quite identify. “Yes, well, don’t go touching a freeman without permission.”
“But that little girl…”
“…is owned by Edmund Caldwell.” Bruce saw the flicker of rebellion in Clark’s face. “I mean it, Clark. If you can’t control yourself, I’ll have to keep you under a House Veil.”
Clark looked away for a moment, then returned his gaze to Bruce. “I’ll do better, Master.”
Bruce didn’t push for more. He had only known Clark for a matter of weeks but he already knew that Clark had a big heart. Seeing that young girl beaten…
Bruce did not like to think of her, or what she might be going through right now.
“Good,” he said brusquely. “Now, I’ll go down and see if Alfred can heat up some soup for you.”
This time Clark thought he saw guilt flash across Bruce’s face, but his Master merely nodded and left the room.
Clark closed his eyes. He had an unpleasant memory to add to the time he had spent with the slavers.
At least I’m balancing the bad with the good since I came here.
He winced at a sharp twinge in his back. He supposed he should be angry at Bruce for handing him over as he had done with Harvey Dent, but that had just been a kiss. This had been a full-scale flaying.
Yet I can’t find it in me to blame him. He’s only going by the code of society that clamps down on everyone, slave or free. And I didn’t help matters by deliberately breaking a rule that slaveowners would pitch a fit over. He pulled the sheet up a little higher as he shivered. In some ways, Bruce is as chained as I am.