Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Harold Allston, Alfred
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): G
Summary: Dick’s first anniversary of his arrival into the Wayne Household approaches.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): June 5, 2008
Date Of Posting: April 6, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1240
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
There was joy.
From the Big Top,
Came the boy.
Broken and lost,
From one night,
A terrible loss,
From evil’s blight.
And he was bright,
Joy and laughter,
Love and light.
And then came
As the year turned
To the morrow.
Would the boy
Be once more bright?
Or forever lost
In blood’s ruby light?
The Freedom Chronicles
DIMMING OF THE LIGHT
Dick’s first anniversary of his arrival into the Household was coming up. Bruce was happy that this bright little boy was in his life, but the reason Dick had come to him was because of tragedy. Bruce understood that well.
Clark and Alfred helped him keep Dick busy, but Bruce could see the dimming of Dick’s light the closer it came to the anniversary of his parents’ deaths.
Yes, he understood very well.
Dick bit his lip as Dr. Harold Allston set his sprained ankle. The man’s salt-and-pepper hair gleamed in the morning sunlight as he examined his handiwork. He was as tall as Bruce and broad-shouldered like him, his hands large but gentle.
“Be careful climbing trees, young man.”
Dick smiled wanly. “I will, Doctor.”
Bruce came into the living room. “How is he, Doctor?”
“He’ll live.” Harold frowned. “You’re looking a little peaked, son.”
“I’m fine,” Dick said quickly.
“Still, I’d better take a sample of skin and blood. You’ve got some mottling here on your arm, and we have to keep track of your blood condition.”
“How’s your Prize, Bruce?”
“Fine, except for the usual.”
“Good. I’d like to do a quick examination of them both while I’m here.”
Harold took the samples, Dick stoic throughout it all, and then the doctor went over to Bruce.
“As always, I’ll run these tests personally.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Harold smiled and patted Bruce’s shoulder. “Little enough I can do for my old med school roommate’s son.”
“You were far more than that, Dr. Allston.”
Harold grinned. “Thomas and Martha and I could paint the town red in those days, that’s for sure.”
Bruce smiled. “I’ll tell Alfred and my katare to go to their rooms and wait for you.”
“How do you feel, son?”
Clark sighed. “Okay, besides the usual.”
“Have your attacks become more severe or frequent?”
Clark buttoned his shirt. “Once in awhile, but not on a regular basis.”
“Hmm.” Harold stored the vial of Clark’s blood in his doctor’s bag. “Well, unfortunately, that’s the nature of Wertham’s Disease. At least the quinium seems to be working, though I expect it’s a little rough after you receive your weekly shot.”
“Yes, and about a day before.”
“Mmm.” Harold checked his PDA for his next appointment. The Caldwell mansion. Let’s hope there aren’t any half-dead slaves laying around this time. “All right, you seem fairly healthy, young man. Keeping the Prince satisfied?”
Clark laughed. “Yes, I’ve had no complaints.”
“Excellent.” After examination, Harold could see why Bruce had no complaints. “If you do have any unusual problems, be sure to tell Bruce. He wouldn’t appreciate you keeping things like that from him.”
“Good. Now go get some sunshine.”
Clark smiled. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“I’m off to see Alfred.”
Harold walked to the butler’s room. “Hello, Alfred.”
“How are you?”
Harold examined the butler, pleased at his findings. As he wrapped things up he asked, “So, how is everyone getting along? It’s been nearly a year since Richard joined.”
“Yes, and he’s brightened things up considerably around here, just as the Master’s Prize does.”
“Yes, the Manor does seem like a sunnier place,” Harold laughed.
Alfred smiled. “Quite so.”
”And the Prize…he keeps Bruce satisfied?”
“Very much so.”
“And have you observed any more severe or frequent symptoms from him?”
“No.” A worried look crossed Alfred’s face. “Has something changed?”
“No, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on him.” Harold packed away his instruments in his bag. He liked the traditional doctor’s bag, a time-honored symbol of his profession. “Wertham’s Disease is insidious. It can lull you into thinking it’s not so bad, and then, wham! it’ll hit you worse than ever.”
“I shall certainly keep a closer eye on the Master’s Prize.”
“And he’s certainly a Prize.”
Alfred smiled. “Oh, yes. Master Bruce chose well in many ways.”
Harold grinned. “Well, you’re healthy as a horse, Alfred.”
“Should I partake of oats?”
Harold laughed. “You can eat bran cereal, how’s that?”
“Very good, sir.”
Everyone had gotten a clean bill of health, himself included, for which Bruce was grateful.
He looked out the library window and saw Dick leaning his elbows on the seawall. Despite being a perpetual motion machine, Dick could remain still.
Bruce was just worried that there was a sad reason for this lack of activity.
He put on a jacket and went outside, quietly walking across the lawn. Reaching the seawall, he put a hand on Dick’s shoulder.
After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Sea’s restless today.”
Dick nodded. His usual bounce and sparkle was subdued.
Bruce gently squeezed. “It’s tough, that first year anniversary.” He could feel the boy’s muscles tense. “And it’ll always bring back the memories, every year.” Bruce watched a steamer chug by, navigating the choppy water. “It’s okay to feel angry, sad, even resentful.”
“Every time I think of the way I was robbed of my time with them. I know people say that you should ‘get over it’, but they aren’t the ones grieving.”
“Are you still grieving?”
“Yes.” Bruce felt a small arm slip around his waist. “It doesn’t interfere with my daily life, and I can laugh and have a good time with you and Alfred and Clark, but it’s what drives me.”
Bruce nodded. “It helps.”
Dick squeezed. “I know.” A very small voice said, “It helps me, too.”
Bruce pulled Dick close and they watched the seagulls wheel around the gray sky.
“Sir, Dr. Allston is here to see you.”
Bruce looked up from the contract he was reading in the library. “Send him in, please.”
Alfred nodded and left, Bruce smiling slightly. Protocol demanded that he bow in this instance, but it was a sign of their ease with each other that in this case, Bruce did not expect it and Alfred did not think to be so formal in private.
Bruce rose as Harold entered, Alfred closing the door to give them privacy.
“Hello, Doctor. What brings you back so soon?” He indicated that Harold should take the chair in front of the desk. A worried thought hit as he sat down. “Is everyone all right?”
Harold sat and looked exasperated and perhaps...disapproving?
“You know, it’s a good thing that I run these tests personally instead of handing them off to a lab tech.” Harold shook his head as he crossed his legs. “I know you’re the Prince of Gotham and used to doing what you want, but do you really want to go up against the Govs? Risk your family legacy?” At Bruce’s astonished look Harold continued, “There is a Hunt Decree against your slave.”
“Is it really a good idea to keep a Squire who is Roma?”