Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Barbara Gordon, Anders Alden, Cordelia Standish
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: Bruce, Clark, and Dick go into town on a blustery February day.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): September 28, 2008
Date Of Posting: September 7, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1253
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Like a jewel of great price."
Sir Alan Dinsmore
"The Pleasure Of Reading"
The holidays were a glittering, happy time, and as the New Year dawned, life was good at Wayne Manor. Bruce was more active with the National Abolitionist Society, and Clark was feeling better for longer stretches of time. Dick was soaking up all the academic knowledge he could grab, and Barbara stopped by once a week to teach her own specialties. She and Dick had become good friends, not forgetting their status but carefully working their way around it.
Bruce approved of Barbara around. She was bright, charming and considerate of his slaves.
Jim Gordon had raised his daughter right.
Bruce’s business was thriving, Lex and Ollie were doing just as well, and Batman and Robin were keeping Gotham safe, the crime rate at its lowest in years.
Everything was going so well.
Bruce was determined not to worry about anything disastrous befalling his family.
Despite the little voice telling him to be vigilant.
“Mister Wayne, I have that book you ordered.”
Pleased, Bruce said, “Thank you, Mr. Alden. When can I pick it up?”
“Any time, sir.”
“How about tomorrow, oh, say, around one?”
Bruce shut off the speakerphone and left the study. Smiling, he observed Dick and Barbara as they worked on the equipment as he entered the gym.
“So, what routine is on the docket today?”
“A whole run-through of an Olympic routine,” Barbara said as she finished her vault. “My routine.”
“Sounds like fun.”
Clark entered the gym. “What sounds like fun?”
“Our gymnasts are going to do an Olympic routine.” Bruce smiled at Barbara. The girl had an excellent chance to be part of the Olympic team in Prague this summer.
“You’re right, Master, that could be very interesting to watch.”
Clark and Bruce exchanged grins, and the children laughed.
“You go first, Dick,” Barbara said.
Clark and Bruce settled on the bleachers.
As they watched the routine unfold, Bruce said, “I got a call from Anders Alden. He’s just received that first edition of Javras’ First Folio.”
“That’s wonderful, Bruce! He’s the Jovaran equivalent of Shakespeare.”
“It’s priceless.” Bruce ran his thumb along Clark’s jaw. “How about you come along while I pick it up?”
“I’d like that.”
Wind blew as the sun shone on a cold February day, the sky a light blue as clouds drifted by, people hurrying along their way as they hunched against the wind.
It was busy at this time of day in the business district, people hurrying to get back to the office after lunch, or meeting someone for the midday meal.
Clark and Dick were taking everything in, always eager for trips away from the Manor. They loved the estate but spent most of their time on it, so enjoyed the opportunity to see other places.
Bruce led them down a quiet side street. The venerable Alden Brothers Fine & Rare Books was located a few blocks down. The establishment, founded in 1859, had thrived for generations, surviving the early 21st century’s new Internet wave until people realized that books were still something they wanted. The imposing shop was Victorian in design but emanated quiet elegance. The Waynes had shopped there for generations.
Inside was a book lover’s dream: shelves of the old and rare or merely the special. The wine-red carpet muffled the noise of footsteps and seemed to encourage low-voiced conversation. Comfortable chairs were discreetly situated around the shop.
“Ah, Lord Wayne.”
Bruce smiled. Anders Alden was a gentleman to the core.
“Hello, Mr. Alden. You have a book for me?”
The thin man in waistcoat and cravat nodded with a smile of his own. Wispy white hair was neatly combed, pale blue eyes flicking over Clark and Dick.
Anders Alden did not object to slaves in his shop, one of the reasons Bruce patronized his establishment. Clark and Dick were free to browse, and any customer who objected would be summarily ejected.
Clark picked out a volume of poetry, turning the pages as he devoured each poem. Dick knelt and checked out the lower shelves, pulling out a book on trains. He carefully flipped through the pages, exclaiming softly over the glossy photographs.
“This is exquisite,” Bruce said as he reverently held the folio.
“Quite.” Anders allowed price to show in his face. “The Jovarans are well-known for their artistic gifts. They truly enjoy the art of words.”
“Yes,” Bruce said as he read a page. “This contains the best of his plays?”
“Yes.” Anders glanced at Clark. “They are an interesting people. One of their philosophers, Jaleel, spoke about the art of the pleasure slave.”
“Ah, yes.” Bruce caressed the vellum page he was reading. “They accord their slaves far more respect than we do.”
“Very much so. They consider a pleasure slave an artist, and while they still own them as we do, they grant them privileges unheard of here.”
“Out of respect for their gifts.”
The elderly man nodded.
Bruce closed the folio and carefully slid it into its walnut carrying case.
“Thank you. I’ll always treasure this.”
“My pleasure, Lord Wayne.”
Bruce inclined his head at the bookshop owner’s bow.
He called for his slaves, who replaced their books. As they approached, Bruce asked, “See anything you like?”
“Trains!” Dick’s eyes sparkled.
Bruce grinned. “That’s fine. Get it and it’s yours.”
Dick hugged his Master and scampered off. Clark and Bruce exchanged grins. Bruce reached out and took Clark’s hand.
“Anything you like?”
Clark nodded shyly. “Poetry.”
“Ah, sounds interesting.”
“’My love is like wings/Upon gentle air/Caressing your skin/As my heart sings.’”
Bruce smiled. “Let’s take it home.”
Clark grinned as he squeezed Bruce’s hand and went to get the book.
The temperature had fallen as the trio left the bookshop, the wind blowing harder. Bruce kept Dick close, keeping the boy warm, and Clark was on his other side as they walked back to the main street.
Bruce smiled at Cordelia Standish, the grande dame of Gotham society. She smiled back benignly.
“How nice to see you.”
“I can say the same, Cordelia.”
“Typical February day.” She was dressed in a faux fur coat, the wind playing havoc with her frosted hair.
Clark heard a sound and looked over at the alley, surprised to see a young girl trip and start to fall. He hurried to catch her just as a loud bang! rang out down the street.
Bruce pushed Cordelia and Dick down to the ground as a bullet pinged against a corner of the building.
He narrowed his eyes, searching for the gunman. He didn’t see anyone.
“It’s okay! They caught the guy!” a young man shouted as he ran down the street toward Bruce’s party.
Relieved, everyone got to their feet. Bruce helped Cordelia up.
“My God, Gotham gets crazier every day,” huffed the older woman, dusting herself off.
“It’s okay, Cordelia. The police have taken care of him.” Bruce looked around with a frown. “Richard?”
A white-faced Dick ran up to him. “Master, your Prize…”
“Is he hurt?” Bruce felt his stomach drop. He spun around. Clark was nowhere to be seen. “Katare! Katare, where are you?”
Bruce ran to the alley, swiveling his head to look up and down the street frantically. Ice clenched his heart.
Clark was gone.
frontpage hit counter