Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Hal/Steve, Ollie/Dinah, Lex/Jamie, Alfred, Dick, Roy, Melody
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: The dinner party goes off well, and warmth lives in the Manor.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): July 31, 2008
Date Of Posting: June 1, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2248
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Sir Alec Newton
Bruce came out of the shower, drying his hair with a towel. Clark was taking aspirin, a towel slung around his waist.
“A mild one. I want to head it off.”
“I can have Dick and Roy do the serving tonight.”
“I can handle it.” Clark swallowed the aspirin with a swig of water.
“Well, Jamie can help you.”
“With Alfred in charge, everything will go smoothly.”
“Seriously, Clark,” Bruce touched his arm, “I don’t want you to miss out on this week. If you feel ill…”
Clark looked at him with a small smile. “I promise that I’ll come and lie down.”
Bruce squeezed his arm gently. “Good. I trust you to take care of yourself tonight.”
Pleased, Clark smiled brighter and went into the bedroom to dress.
Once Clark was dressed, he and Bruce went down into Cave, and a few minutes later,
Dinah, Ollie, and Melody followed, Roy right behind him, green eyes agog.
“The Batcave!” He looked at everything, everyone smiling. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he
asked his family accusingly.
“We wanted to see the look on your face,” Dinah laughed, and ruffled his hair.
Roy’s eyes grew even bigger. “Then you’re…you’re…” He looked at Bruce, then turned to Dick.
“That’s right, Speedy,” Dick smirked, ducking as Roy threw a playful punch.
Childish laughter drifted up to the rafters, bat wings fluttering.
Carefully exiting the clock, the Arrows went outside for a quick breath of fresh air, Clark heading for the kitchen. Bruce went with him, discussed the menu with Alfred, then returned to the library, pausing in the doorway.
Steve was standing at the windows, his air that of a brooding man.
“Everything all right?” Bruce asked softly. “Hal okay?”
“Hal’s fine.” Steve continued staring out the window, Bruce coming up beside him.
“How about you?”
Again the bitterness. Bruce studied the classic profile as dusk gathered, a tiny pinpoint of light flashing from the lighthouse on Astor Island.
“What happened in Paradise, Steve?”
Steve snorted. “Nothing but beautiful women as far as the eye could see. A once-proud warrior race reduced to whores for anyone with a fat wallet or a reward from the brass.”
Bruce winced. He had never been happy with the conquering of the Amazons.
“You felt uncomfortable.”
“Very.” Steve crossed his arms. “I was ashamed of wearing my uniform.”
“We can’t be expected to approve of everything the Government does,” Bruce said gently.
“How about approve of nearly nothing?”
The blond sighed. He rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m just in a very bad place right now.”
“You crashed, were upset by the goings-on on the Island, and came home to discover Hal missing. Then you were keeping vigil at his bedside.” Bruce squeezed his friend’s shoulder. “You have a right to be worn out.”
“I guess so,” Steve smiled wanly.
“Would you like to skip dinner and rest?”
Steve shook his head. “I’m fine.” He turned away from the window. “I have to help get Hal ready.”
“You stay right here. I’ll have Dick help.”
“It’s okay, Bruce. It’s not a lot of trouble.”
Up in their shared room, Hal was dressing. Steve smiled as he walked in. “I’d prefer you undressing.”
The brunette chuckled. “Can’t argue with that.”
With long-practiced ease, Steve helped Hal dress, their patter cheering the injured man up. Steve’s gentle touch soothed him, and despite his jaunty air, his nerves were jangled.
He hadn’t realized how much he depended on his dear friend and lover until this situation had come up. Usually sure of himself, his whole space experience had rattled him. He needed his Steve’s gentle presence.
“Okay, back in your chair…”
Hal noticed the forced joviality in Steve’s tone. He lightly grasped his companion’s arm. “Stevie, what’s the matter?”
“Just a little tired.”
“Damnit, and here I’m working you like a mule.”
“I wouldn’t mind if you rode me like one.”
Hal laughed. “That’s my Stevie.” His tone softened. “You’re my strength, Beautiful.”
Steve smiled and kissed the top of Hal’s head. “So glad to have you back, love.”
Dinner was a sparkling affair with bone china and gold silverware, Clark and Jamie serving flawlessly. Bruce was extremely pleased: Alfred’s cooking was superb, as always; Clark was serving with a touch both elegant and modest, and Dick, Roy and Melody were cheerfully helping out in the kitchen.
The dining room gleamed under the great chandelier, the ancient sideboard, table and chairs lovingly-preserved in all their nineteenth-century grandeur.
The table setting was his family’s best china and silverware, engraved with the Wayne family crest. It was an exquisite set and had been cleaned and polished by his slaves, each of them eager to help Bruce put his best foot forward.
It was a moments like these in which he allowed himself to truly be the Lord of the Manor. His heritage washed over him, the responsibilities and privileges a part of him.
The Manor had sheltered his family since before the days of the Revolution and was steeped in family history. He was extremely proud of her heritage and reveled in the moment, hosting such fine men and women. He was very proud of the quality of his friends, because he considered everyone at the table a friend.
There was Ollie and Lex, of course, childhood friends who knew him well and who had grown up in the same rarified world, and now Ollie was part of his other life, too.
Dinah was a good friend, not just Ollie’s lover. He loved her wit and intelligence and she kicked ass as Black Canary.
Steve and Hal were daring soldiers who were bright and loyal, good men to know. He’d been very upset at their disappearances and was very glad to see them back, safe and sound.
He glanced at Steve. He wondered if the blond had confided in Hal about his time on the Island.
Hal was holding court, but Bruce noticed the lines around his eyes. He was tired but willing to put up a jovial front.
It would be a good idea to keep an eye on both of them.
“Mmm, Alfred, these rolls are great.” Dick ate a piping-hot roll fresh from the oven.
“Dick, stop eating the dinner,” Alfred admonished but there was no bite to his words.
Dick grinned at Roy, who winked.
“Get the entrees ready. Clark and Jamie will be back in here before you know it.”
Dick and Roy scurried to follow Alfred’s bidding.
Clark and Jamie returned with empty soup bowls, stacking them by the sink. Every piece of sliver and chinaware had to be washed by hand, Alfred horrified at the thought of the turbowash for this heirloom set.
“Everything all right?” Alfred asked.
“Perfect, Alfred,” Clark said with a smile.
Silver trays were laden with entrees, and Clark and Jamie left the kitchen with the food.
Melody came in. “All the beds are turned down, Alfred.”
“Excellent, dear. Start on the dishes, will you?”
The kitchen hummed like a well-oiled machine, and after dinner was served, the staff enjoyed their own dinner, Clark leaving periodically to serve coffee and cake in the library.
Alfred was happy in his domain. He was surrounded by young, energetic people who paid him the proper respect as an elder statesman. He was able to show off his culinary skills, and the house party was running smoothly.
Clark was in good health, able to serve, but Alfred kept an eye on him. Dick’s illness was, of course, illusory, but Clark’s disease could overwhelm with very little notice.
Melody, Roy, and Jamie seemed healthy, eager to serve and proud of their own Houses.
Melody was chattering about the plans for the overhaul of the gardens at Queens’ Castle, Roy interjecting here and there, everyone enjoying the same food that the freemen had consumed.
Clark returned and smiled. “Your pumpkin cake is a hit, Alfred.”
“Sit down and eat, Clark. I’ll take the next round,” Jamie offered.
Clark sat next to his friend, the young Squires on the opposite side, Alfred at the head of the table.
“What’s the conversation in there, Clark?” asked Dick.
“Mostly about Halloween Week.”
Roy asked eagerly, “Is it really like a huge carnival?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dick nodded. “It’s like the midway, only bigger.”
“Melody says you come from a circus.”
“Yep,” Dick said as he took a bite of roast chicken. “The costumes here in Gotham remind me of the circus outfits.”
“We’re going to trick-or-treat?” Roy asked, excitement sparkling in his eyes.
“Yes!” Melody nearly bounced in her seat. “It’s so much fun, Roy!”
Clark, Jamie and Alfred smiled at the children’s enthusiasm.
Later, Jamie left to serve fresh coffee and returned with empty cake plates.
“As Clark said, a hit, Alfred.”
Everyone grinned, and they all enjoyed the cake, too.
As clean-up began, Clark staggered slightly when he started taking plates to the sink.
“Clark,” Alfred said quietly. “Perhaps you should go lie down.”
“I don’t want to leave everyone with the clean-up.”
“There are many hands here. No one would begrudge you a lie-down.” Alfred lifted the dark glasses and saw the pain in Clark’s eyes. “Headache?”
Alfred slipped the glasses back down. “Go.”
Clark left, still feeling guilty, Dick watching him go with a worried expression. He whispered to Alfred, “Is Clark okay?”
Jamie asked, “What’s wrong?”
Alfred gauged the other slaves in the room. “Master Bruce doesn’t publicize it, but Clark suffers from Wertham’s Disease.” Little gasps greeted this pronouncement. “It’s chronic and incurable.” Seeing the stricken looks he continued, “It does not mean that he is dying, so have no worries there. But he is frequently ill.” Alfred sighed. “Clark must rest. He would be very upset to miss this holiday week.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll take up the slack,” Dick promised.
The children speeded up their assistance, wanting to help.
Clark lay curled up under the covers. He was scared that his headache would grow to debilitating proportions and ruin the week.
The door quietly opened and he smiled, eyes still closed. “So is this Dick or Alfred or my generous Master?”
“Actually, it’s me.”
Clark opened his eyes in surprise. “Jamie.”
“That’s right.” Jamie removed his glasses. “I’m sorry about your illness.”
“Mmm.” Clark didn’t dare move his head to nod. “It’s not so bad most days.”
“Good.” Jamie smiled. “Do you need anything?”
“No, I just have to ride it out. Hopefully the headache won’t get worse and my nausea subsides.”
“Nothing helps your nausea?”
“Usually Saltine crackers and ginger ale, but not after I ate all that wonderful food of Alfred’s.” Clark’s smile was wan. “Don’t get the idea that Alfred’s cooking did this.”
Jamie grinned. “Definitely not.” He lightly touched Clark’s forehead. “You’re running a fever.”
“Low-grade.” Clark closed his eyes. “The fever comes and goes.”
“Hmm, your body fighting off the infection.”
Jamie patted Clark’s shoulder. “Rest is best, of course. If you need anything, I’d be happy to…”
Jamie turned and saw the Lord of the Manor stride into the room, worry in his eyes.
Clark smiled. “Just a headache, Master.”
Bruce laid a hand on Clark’s forehead, biting his lip. “Upset stomach?”
“Would you like ginger ale and crackers?”
Bruce caressed Clark’s silky hair. “Rest, my…Prize.”
Jaime was certain that Bruce had been going to say another word, and he suspected what it might be, but he carefully kept such thoughts to himself.
“No more duties for you tonight. Dick and Alfred will see to our guests.”
“I’m sorry, Master.”
Bruce continued stroking. “It’s all right. These things can’t be helped.” He noticed that Clark was still dressed. “Here, let’s get you into pajamas for the night.”
Jamie put his glasses back on and helped Bruce get Clark into his pajamas.
Bruce tenderly ministered to his slave, obviously worried over Clark. No matter how many times this had happened, Bruce could still be shaken.
Jamie was pleased to see that. Clark was in good hands.
“I would be more than happy to help out, m’lord.”
Bruce looked at him, then smiled. “Thank you.”
Jamie knew that Lex would not object. Bruce tugged the covers over Clark, his slave sighing, and his Master said quietly, “Sleep now.” He spoke with one last caress, then he and Jamie left the room.
“I’m sorry, m’lord, I meant no harm. I was just checking on your Prize.”
“It’s all right.” Bruce laid a hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Keep an eye on him. Usually Alfred and Dick would do so but they’ll be busy with my guests.”
Bruce squeezed Jamie’s shoulder and went downstairs, glancing back at the closed bedroom door, and Jamie headed for his own room. He would check on Clark in a little while.
Later, after Hal and Steve had turned in early and Lex had said goodnight and went upstairs to join Jamie, Ollie winked at Dick and Roy, who had come into the library.
“Ready for patrol?”
The boys grinned.
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