Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Brendan, Alfred, Dick, Clark/Bruce, Jim Gordon, Kevin, Annette, Kathy Kane
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. A Great Trial crashes down upon the House Of Wayne. Can Bruce and Clark’s relationship survive? Will the Family’s strength be enough to see them through this time of Fear and Darkness? The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Drama, Slavefic
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: The purity of snow can cover a lot of ugliness.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): September 20, 2008
Date Of Posting: August 27, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2305
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
LIKE THE SNOWS
Of men’s souls
Who are lost
Likes to call
Like the snows
It only covers
Alfred’s surprised exclamation echoed through the spacious foyer. Dick ran out of the kitchen.
“Come in, dear boy.”
“Oh, I’m heading for my apartment. I just stopped by to let you know that the trains are shut down because of the nor’easter, and I can’t get home this year.”
“Nonsense! You will come in, snow and all…Dick, get the mop…and have a good, hot supper with us. And of course you are invited to dinner tomorrow.”
Brendan grinned as he walked in with his suitcase. He had knocked off enough snow from his coat and boots not to make much of a mess, but Dick cleaned up the floor as the chauffeur followed Alfred into the kitchen.
Alfred took the suitcase and set it by the door. “Have a seat.”
Brendan took off his coat, boots, hat and gloves. “Are you sure Mr. Wayne won’t mind?”
“Of course not! He wouldn’t want you to stay alone in your apartment with all of us over here eating Thanksgiving dinner.”
“I agree,” Dick chimed in, winking at Brendan.
Brendan grinned at the boy. “I already called Mom and Dad. They’re disappointed, of course, but Mom promised to send me plenty of leftovers.” He laughed. “There’ll be plenty if the rest of the family can’t get there.”
“And there will be no shortage here, I can assure you.” Alfred handed Brendan a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
“Mmm, this hits the spot, Alfred.”
Brendan and Dick exchanged grins.
The kitchen smelled of many good things, and Brendan said, “I smell cherry pie!”
Dick giggled. “You’re right!” He sat at the table. “How is it out there?” he asked, looking out the window at the white-out conditions.
“A nightmare. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year here in the States. Loads of people are stranded at airports, train stations and Earthbound spaceports.” Brendan took the cup of hot chocolate Alfred offered him.
Dick happily accepted a cup, too, delighted to see tiny marshmallows added. “You’re lucky to get back!”
“Darned right. My cabdriver said I was his last fare. Everyone’s ticked off because they’re losing money due to this blizzard.”
“Well, as long as you’re safe, that’s all that matters,” Alfred said. “You like roast beef, eh?”
“Absolutely, especially the way you make it.”
Alfred smiled. “Very good. With all the food we shall consume tomorrow, I’m cooking a small roast tonight with roasted potatoes and broccoli.”
“Sounds good to me. Just a light repast, hmm?” Brendan winked at Dick, who giggled.
“Sounds good to me, too!” the boy piped up.
Alfred smiled at his boys-in-crime.
Bruce eventually awoke, pleased at the warm body next to him. He could hear the wind rattling the windows and felt very cozy under the covers with an armful of Clark.
Clark was sound asleep, breathing peacefully. Bruce opened his eyes and gazed on his Starchild’s beauty, gently touching the necklace with the Wayne crest that hung below his lover’s collar, the star pattern somehow fitting.
He glanced at the window, startled at the amount of snow frosting the panes of glass. He kissed Clark’s shoulder and slipped out of bed, padding over to the window.
Bruce’s eyes widened, the snow already piled high in the garden and on the lawn. The seawall was buried under a mountain of snow.
He went into the bathroom, cleaned up, and put on his black silk robe, knotting the belt. Sliding his feet into slippers, he quietly left the bedroom.
Standing at the head of the stairs, eh could hear voices in the kitchen. He recognized Alfred, Dick, and…Brendan?
The storm must have driven him back.
Alfred came out into the foyer.
“Oh, Master Bruce. Are you quite rested?”
Bruce smiled at the sparkle in his butler’s eyes. “Quite.” He put his hands in his pockets. “Brendan didn’t make it to Boston?”
“Sad to say, no, sir.”
“And you’ve already invited him to dinner tomorrow?”
“Of course, sir. And tonight as well.”
“Excellent. Clark and I will be down in a little while.”
“Very good, sir.”
Bruce nodded and went back to the bedroom. He stretched out on the bed and watched Clark sleep.
Eventually Clark opened his eyes. “Mmm…Bruce?”
“Right here, love.” Bruce brushed strands of hair out of cerulean eyes.
Clark shifted slightly. “Are you well-rested, Master?” Mischief sparkled in those eyes.
Equally amused, Bruce answered, “Oh, yes, my katare.”
Clark’s lips curved in a smile. He gently rested his hand on Bruce’s hip under the robe.
“Are you better now?”
Bruce cupped Clark’s face. “Yes.”
He leaned forward and kissed Clark tenderly.
When they separated, Bruce said, “We’d better shower and dress for dinner. We have a guest.”
“A guest?” Clark looked at the window, his eyes widening. “In this weather?”
Bruce grinned. “It’s Brendan. Didn’t quite make it to Boston. »
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Oh, he’ll get home for Christmas. In the meantime, he gets Alfred’s cooking.”
Bruce laughed. He slapped Clark’s ass. “Shower, darling.”
They wrestled for a few minutes, laughing and nearly rolling off the bed. Giggling, they headed into the bathroom.
In snowbound Gotham, crime was down, courtesy of criminals unable to get around easily. Hotels were filled to overflowing with stranded travelers, as were the airports and train stations.
There were injuries, due to accidents in the road or people slipping on ice. Jim was worried about the elderly alone in their homes and apartments and had sent out a message urging people to check on their neighbors.
The GCPD’s headquarters was buzzing with activity, phones buzzing and computers tracking the whereabouts of squad cars.
He sighed. He would probably be pulling an all-nighter here and as for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow…well, it wouldn’t be the first one he’d missed.
His phone rang. “Gordon here.” He frowned. “I’ll be right down.” He shrugged his coat and scarf on, pulling on his boots as he left his office.
Brendan happily settled into his seat in front of the fireplace, the heat a pleasant counterpoint to the bitter cold outside. Mr. Wayne had gifted him with next weekend off to make up for missing the holiday with his family, his parents delighted to hear it.
He’d changed into fresh clothes for dinner, helping Dick set the table. Mr. Wayne and his Prize had come downstairs, damp from the shower.
No doubt His Lordship’s Prize had done his part in relaxing Mr. Wayne.
Brendan hid his smile at the thought.
“I’m afraid Jim Gordon has his hands full,” Bruce said sympathetically.
“Yes, Gotham’s quite a mess.” Brendan happily accepted a cup of coffee from Alfred, who settled into an armchair after a quick trip to the kitchen to return the tray. Dick had a glass of cranberry juice garnished with mint, sitting cross-legged on the floor at Bruce’s feet. Bruce lightly ran his fingers through his hair, Dick relaxing as he listened to the adults talk.
“Jim’s a good man. He’s got a tough job but he does it well.”
“I admire him greatly.” Brendan sipped his coffee.
“He’s got anti-slavery leanings, from what I’ve been able to glean.”
“Really?” Interest flickered in hazel eyes. “He keeps his feelings close to the vest.”
“He has to, as Police Commissioner.” Bruce crossed his legs. “But he’s said some things that indicate to me his inclinations on this issue.” Midnight-blue eyes looked sharply at Brendan. “And am I correct in divining you share his sentiments?”
Bruce’s voice was neutral, though his own opinions on the subject were well-known by now. Brendan knew that most employees in his position would simply lie.
He would not do that on principle, and besides…
“You are correct, Mr. Wayne.”
Jim stomped his feet as he entered the old brownstone. Once a magnificent edifice, it had fallen into disrepair as the neighborhood around it had deteriorated.
“In here, Commissioner!”
Jim followed the direction of the voice down the hall.
In a room with bare bookshelves that probably had once been a library, two of his officers were waiting for him.
Behind them were several naked slaves huddled together.
“What’s all this?”
The officer with the name Collins answered, “We got a hot tip, sir. This is a holding place for stolen slaves.”
“Damnit,” Jim growled. “Is this city filled with slave kidnappers? Every time I turn around, there’s more stolen slaves.”
Collins exchanged an uneasy glance with his partner. “Sir, it’s true there seems to be a lot of slave stealing, but at least we got these back.”
Jim took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Of course.” He replaced his glasses and approached the miserable group. “Who is your spokesperson?” he asked gently.
A man and woman in front exchanged a look, then the man said, “We are.”
Jim noted the scars on the man’s thighs. He was in good shape, attractive enough to be a bedslave. The man’s hazel eyes were wary, just as the woman’s green eyes were. She bore an ugly scar on her left breast but was otherwise smooth-skinned. Both appeared to be in their mid-twenties.
“Kevin, m’lord.” He shivered slightly in the cold. “We were kidnapped by a small gang of slave stealers. They appear very young, trying to break into the business. When the snow started, they panicked and ran off, afraid they would be caught here with us because we couldn’t be moved due to the weather.”
Jim wondered if Kevin had been the anonymous tipster. They would have been extremely vulnerable alone, subject to any torture by anyone who found them, or worse, classified as runaways by some sadistic official.
“Can you give us your owners’ names?” Jim thought of the amnesiac drug given to stolen slaves recently.
“Yes, m’lord,” said the woman, giving a slight curtsy.
“You’ll need warm clothing and food,” Jim said. There would be no returns during this blizzard. Unfortunately, the holding cells at the station were full with the homeless since the shelters were overflowing. Besides, he wasn’t keen on putting slaves in cells with agitated freemen or criminals.
He took out his cellphone and dialed.
“National Abolitionist Society, Gotham City Chapter.”
“Hello. This is Commissioner James Gordon. We have a situation here.”
Bruce was genuinely pleased at Brendan’s anti-slavery answer. “I thought as much.” He gently caressed his Prize’s arm. “What we say here tonight is strictly confidential.”
Brendan nodded, as one freeman to another.
Sitting here in this room, he realized the weight of responsibility that Bruce Wayne carried. Protecting slaves, especially those you cared for, was serious business.
“Master, are you planning a new campaign after New Year’s?” asked Dick.
“I am. Lana Lang has a brilliant idea: sponsoring a Free Your Slave Day.”
Dick frowned. “But the Government…”
Bruce rubbed Dick’s back soothingly. “It’s only a symbolic. We certainly don’t want the Government classifying any slave as a runaway.”
“There are very few runaways,” Brendan said, carefully refraining from mentioning the gruesome torture and execution that was a runaway slave’s punishment.
“Well, every slave’s collar has a homing device planted in it. Unfortunately, slave kidnappers know how to neutralize the signal.”
Brendan noticed Bruce’s use of the word ‘kidnapper’ instead of ‘stealer’. Pleased, he said, “They’ll come up with something to foil the kidnappers, even though it’ll only be for awhile.”
Bruce grin was wolfish. “Criminals always try.”
In the brownstone, arrangements were made to send a van over for the slaves. Jim waited. He trusted his officers but not the neighborhood. He preferred keeping his presence here.
Half an hour later a van drove up and a man and woman began unloading clothes. Jim and his men went out to help.
“Ms. Kane!” he said, smiling at the red-haired woman dressed in a sable hat and faux fur-trimmed coat.
“Commissioner,” she said cheerfully.
“Why aren’t you home preparing to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?”
“I got stuck in town. Looks like I’ll be eating turkey at headquarters.”
Jim grinned at the heiress’ upbeat attitude. Good woman.
Kathy followed him into the brownstone. Compassion immediately showed on her face at the sight of the huddled slaves.
“Get dressed, my friends. We have hot chocolate for you until we get to Hawthorne Street.”
“Thank you, m’lady,” said Kevin as the slaves quickly put on underwear, shirts and pants. Socks and boots were quickly slipped on, and warm coats were gratefully received.
“We have hats and gloves here but first, some hot chocolate.”
Jim helped distribute the clothes, happily accepting a plastiform cup of rich chocolate. It went down smoothly, warming his insides.
“Thank you for calling HQ, Commissioner.”
“Thank you for all your help.” He cocked his head. “When I called, I didn’t expect the head of the chapter to come on down.”
Kathy’s green-blue eyes sparkled. “We’re a hands-on organization, Commissioner.”
Jim laughed. “Good enough.”
Half an hour later the slaves were herded into the van, and Jim shook Kathy’s hand.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to host this group for awhile. Things are just too chaotic right now.”
“No problem, Commissioner. Contact us when you can.”
With a wave, Kathy hopped in the van that slowly started its journey down the street.
“Let’s go, boys,” Jim said.
There was still a long night ahead of them.