Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Evangeline Halstead, Clark/Bruce, Davis Saltonstall, Edmund Caldwell, Alfred, Dick, Martha Kent, Kathy Kane, Lana Lang
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: Bruce spreads the Abolitionist message.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): June 29, 2008
Date Of Posting: May 17, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1682
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Gotham City Chapter President
The National Abolitionist Society
A DANGEROUS PATH
“Bruce, I hear you’re an Abo now.”
Evangeline Halstead’s brown eyes glittered as she smiled at Bruce, who affected a bored look. He sipped from his champagne flute and replied, “Why do you say that?”
She waved a slender hand. “I read your interview in The Gotham Gazette. You believe we should have laws that prevent slave beatings and mutilations?”
Bruce lowered his glass. “I stand by what I said.”
“Even to the point of reclassifying slave stealing as kidnapping and slave killings as murder?”
Several other people were listening, and Bruce smiled. “I do.”
Evangeline looked impressed. “Bold words, Bruce. You know that such views are considered radical.”
He looked over the rim of his glass. “Do you consider me daring?”
She laughed. “You’re wicked.”
He joined in her laughter. “You look like a person who doesn’t mind wicked.”
She drew closer, her shapely body flattered by her white silk dress. “You’re right about that, darling,” she purred, touching his jacket sleeve. “But, honestly, dear, shouldn’t you be more cautions?”
Bruce shrugged. “I’m not freeing my slaves.”
“Would you if you could?”
Bruce was very aware of the listening ears, and her carefully replied, “That’s a hypothetical, Evangeline. Any slaves freed by an owner are automatically considered runaways, and that would mean terrible suffering as punishment, followed by death. I hardly think that would be fair to my loyal servants, now would it?”
“But if you could...”
“If Emancipation was passed as the law of the land, of course I would.” Bruce put his empty flute on a passing waiter’s tray, taking a fresh one. “Until such a day, wouldn’t it reflect well on us to treat them as sentient beings instead of like furniture?”
A man in his early thirties joined the group, dark-brown hair slicked back as he fingered an old-fashioned pocketwatch on his vest.
“Interesting ideas, Bruce.”
“Thank you, Davis.”
“Do you think such a comprehensive law can be passed?”
“I think that Senator Lang and her allies in Congress are going to try.”
“Are you one of those allies?” Evangeline asked.
Davis raised an eyebrow. “So will you be working the halls of Congress?”
“Oh, I’ll leave that to Senator Lang.”
“But you wouldn’t object?”
“To a change in our culture. A pretty big change.” Davis sipped his champagne. “Freeing slaves would disrupt the foundations of our society.”
“Change always does.”
“It would affect Wayne Enterprises.”
“Not really. We don’t use slaves in our core group. Only when we merge with other companies do slaves become part of our holdings, and then there are strict company guidelines for their treatment.”
“Admirable. And you may be right. The Day Of Emancipation may be coming.”
The contemptuous voice of Edmund Caldwell cut in. Evangeline and Davis stood their ground, accustomed to Edmund’s aggressiveness.
“Do you honestly believe that freeing the manacled will do any good?”
“It would for them,” Bruce said. Chuckles greeted this statement.
Edmund waved a hand. “Do you think this little soiree would be possible without slaves? Cooking, serving, cleaning up?”
“Why not? Free servants do it all the time.”
“Slaves are meant to serve.”
“But isn’t that a Human notion?”
“It’s a divine one.” Edmund smiled. “Doesn’t the Bible and other holy books decree there shall be slave and free?”
“Yes, but they also warn against eating certain foods and sex outside of marriage, neither of which is followed today.”
“The rock-solid truths endure.”
Bruce observed the glint of fanaticism in Edmund’s pale gray eyes. He drank his champagne, giving himself time to think.
“Well, I can’t see the harm in treating slaves humanely. Isn’t it a waste of resources to maim or kill slaves at whim?”
Edmund sneered, “A typical liberal, soft-headed position. Such thinking makes us weak.”
Murmurs of assent went around the circle of listeners.
“Compassion is weak?” Bruce deliberately let his voice grew incredulous.
“Of course! Do you think the Empire was built on compassion?”
“So let the strong dictate, and grind the weak into dust?”
“Interesting views for a man whose family built their wealth on the backs of the poor hundreds of years ago.”
“Well, I can’t exactly change the past now, can I?” Bruce gestured with his glass. “But I can influence the future.”
“Not for the better if you think freeing slaves is a good idea.”
“Other civilizations have survived without slavery as the foundation.”
“And they all are as dust.”
Bruce shrugged. “History says otherwise.”
“History is dead, my young friend. The present Empire is composed completely of slave societies. Those who professed…freedom…are gone.” His pale eyes glinted.
Bruce frowned. “So we should never strive to be better? We treat animals better than our slaves! There is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but nothing for the manacled.”
Edmund snorted. “What’s better about freeing sluts to overrun society with their promiscuity?”
“Surely you jest, Edmund! Slaves are promiscuous because it’s what we force upon them!”
Edmund laughed. “They’d spread their legs if they were slave or free. It’s their nature. That’s why they were born slaves.”
“They spread their legs because if they don’t, they are severely punished.”
“You mean your prize slut doesn’t open himself wide for you on command? You allow him to refuse?”
“My relations with my Prize is my business, Edmund.” Bruce smiled but anyone observant saw the steel behind it.
Edmund was a very observant man.
“You’re a fool, Bruce. You’re going down a very dangerous path.”
“Perhaps.” Bruce’s smile was predatory. “But I’ve never backed away from danger.”
“No, I suppose not. Well, you and Senator Lang enjoy your little crusade, Bruce. No matter what laws you pass, slaves will still be stolen and used in the way God intended.”
Edmund moved away, a coterie of admirers going with him. Evangeline smirked.
“He’s really full of himself, isn’t he?”
“Yes, but it’s good to know what the other side’s thinking.”
“Truly.” People were drifting away now that the show was over. “But he is right about one thing.” At Bruce’s quirked eyebrow she added, “You are treading down a dangerous path.” She hooked at the backside of a passing slave waiter. “Pity to lose the availability of sex.”
Bruce had to smile. “True, but I’m sure the slaves would say differently.”
She laughed. “No doubt.”
Davis asked, “Do you really think that there will be Abolition in our lifetime?”
“I guess we will find out eventually.” Bruce finished his champagne. “If the Movement succeeds, then we will. A lot of very smart people are working toward that goal.”
“I thought if you advocated slave freedom you had to sell them or give them away,” Evangeline said.
“I’m not an official member of the Society, not do I go around making speeches.”
“Trying to have your cake and eat it, too?”
“Have you seen his cake?” Davis guffawed. “I’d keep it, too!”
Evangeline laughed and Bruce took the opportunity to take his leave.
He wandered out to the gardens of the Mallowan estate. He had considered turning down the invitation from Clarice and Sidney but had decided that it would be a good opportunity to continue spreading his message.
He was feeling depressed, however, over the disappearance of Hal. He was a good man, and he and Steve were decorated pilots, and close friends now. Bruce had a small enough circle of friends to feel cavalier about losing them! It was a week since both had fallen off the map, and now Steve was back in contact. Still no word on Hal, though.
Bruce inhaled a scent of Jovaran javra, the yellow flower resembling a rose but with a stronger fragrance.
Clark, Alfred, and Dick were all upset over the events of the last week. Hal and Steve had always treated them with respect, and that was always treasured by slaves.
The reactions had been characteristic all week while both men were still missing: Alfred was stoic with British stiff-upper-lip attitude, making practical suggestions for a search and baking chocolate chip cookies; Dick worrying but trying to keep things light while keeping up with news reports; and Clark, plainly showing his distress, wishing desperately that he could help while quietly performing his duties.
Bruce loved them all, and that was why he was here, trying to lay the groundwork for their eventual freedom.
As he walked, he remembered the recent meeting with Martha, Kathy, and Lana…
“Should we include classifying ‘violation of property’ as rape?” Martha asked.
“No.” Lana shook her head. “People are willing to admit the horrors of mutilation, even murder, but sexual matters are a whole different kettle of fish. It makes those who use slaves for pleasure uneasy at possible identification as rapists.”
Lana’s sharp tone brought Bruce’s eyes to hers. At one time he would have been uncomfortable with this discussion, but not anymore. Hell, just awhile ago Clark had denied him his body, and he’d let him! That was not the act of a rapist.
They continued their staredown, then Kathy said, “Lana, Bruce is one of the good guys.”
Lana nodded, and Martha interjected, “We’d better leave sexual issues out for now. Sad to say, even freemen aren’t immune to victimization in this area. And just as sadly, slaves expect to be physically used. If they haven’t lost their virginity by age eighteen, they immediately do when they reach legal age. A virgin over that age is rare indeed.”
Bruce had immediately thought of Clark, older than eighteen, at least by medical estimate, and still a virgin.
He’s never had anyone but me.
Bruce breathed in the scent of the javras.
And he never will.
He flipped open his cellphone. “Brendan, I’m ready to depart. I’ll be out in ten minutes.”
He turned and walked back into the house to say his goodbyes to his hosts.
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