Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Hal/Steve, Melody, Dick, Alfred, Ollie/Dinah (Ollie does not appear in this chapter), Clark/Bruce (Clark does not appear in this chapter)
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: Hal discovers a heartbreaking truth while Dinah and Alfred worry over Clark, Bruce, and Dick.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): October 16, 2008
Date Of Posting: September 29, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1248
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Is the taste
Emily Adams Cutler
"Yellow Roses And Other Poems"
TEA AND GINGERBREAD
Hal wheeled himself into the hospital room, sighing as he saw Steve lying so pale in the bed.
Damned virus. They really should de-con better.
The virus brought back from Rigel had somehow gotten past the decontamination procedures. Luckily it hadn’t been a general flight but a military craft with only two people. The base here on the moon had been affected, but the virus had been contained.
Just our rotten luck to be up here.
Hal had been feeling better and had accompanied Steve to Moonbase Alpha. By a toss of the dice, Hal hadn’t fallen ill. He was getting stronger every day, and would be able to start walking again soon.
Hal listened to the beeping machines and rested a hand on Steve’s arm.
Still too cold.
He missed Steve’s golden tan and beautiful smile.
And his heart.
It’s your own damned fault.
Hal gazed out at the blank moonscape, the Earth a stunning backdrop.
“Diana…my beautiful Angel…I’m so sorry…”
Who was this ‘Diana’ Steve had called for in his delirium, and how long had Steve been in love with her?
A moan from Steve caught his attention, and Hal quickly looked over at the bed.
“Right here, Stevie.”
Blue eyes fluttered open. “H…Hal?”
“Right here, buddy.”
Steve groaned, trying to move. “Limbs…so heavy.”
“It’s all right. It’s to be expected after what you went through.” Hal brushed back the hair from Steve’s eyes. “Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine now.”
Steve stared at Hal, then smiled. “Water,” he rasped.
Hal quickly poured a glass of water from the bedside pitcher, helping Steve drink it.
“Go back to sleep, Stevie. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
Steve nodded, his eyes sliding shut.
Hal watched him sleep, sadness in his brown eyes.
Bruce fell asleep at the computer, the bats squeaking overhead. Dick looked at him sadly.
Bruce had barely slept since Clark had been taken. It didn’t look like an exactly comfortable position, but Dick hated to wake Bruce up.
Melody crept over. “He’s so tired.”
Dick nodded. He slid out of his chair and escorted his friend to the Batmobile bay so they wouldn’t disturb Bruce.
“He won’t rest until we find Clark.”
“I know.” Melody sighed. “There’s just no leads, are there?”
“None.” Dick looked frustrated. “We got nothing from Z…Zucco.”
Melody frowned. “This is not good, Dick. There has to be some leads!”
Dick felt despondent. “We have to find him, Melody.” He blinked back tears.
Melody touched his shoulder. “We will, Dick.”
Dick smiled a little.
Dinah sighed. She went into the kitchen, glad to see Alfred.
“This kitchen wouldn’t be the same without you, Alfred.”
“I should think so.”
Dinah smiled. “Mmm, that gingerbread smells heavenly.”
“Sit down, m’lady, and you shall have it warm from the oven.”
Dinah took a seat at the table and Alfred served the gingerbread, Dinah closing her eyes as she took a bite.
Alfred smiled as he took his seat. “I’m glad you enjoy it.”
“Alfred, you’re a marvel.”
“You are too generous, Mistress.”
Dinah squeezed his hand. “Not generous enough.” Her smile faded. “I’m worried about Bruce.”
“You should be.” Dinah withdrew her hand. “He hasn’t slept in nearly 48 hours.”
“No.” Alfred stared at his plate of gingerbread. “It will kill Bruce if he loses Clark.”
Dinah noticed the lack of ‘Master’ in front of Bruce’s name. Her heart contracted as she knew how worried Alfred was.
“He’s had difficult losses.”
Alfred nodded. “And this one would be just as bad.”
Dinah’s eyes met Alfred’s. The truth of that statement stretched between them.
“How is Dick holding up?” she asked softly.
“A little better, but he loves Clark dearly.” Alfred picked up his fork. “They bonded instantly that terrible night at the circus.”
“Yes, Bruce told me.” Dinah ate another piece of gingerbread. “A very sad tale, but heartwarming as Dick instantly took to Clark.”
“It was quite heartwarming as Master Bruce described it. The child was in shock, still wearing his circus costume when brought home. Poor little soul.”
“He seems quite happy now, or at least, before Clark’s kidnapping.”
Alfred nodded. “Partly due to Clark.”
“Clark is such a sweet soul, isn’t he?”
“Very” Alfred took a bite. “He is…vulnerable.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Not just because he’s a slave.”
Surprised, Dinah cocked her head.
“He’s strong, do not ‘get me wrong’, as you say. Any slave must be to survive. Did Master Bruce tell you of what Clark suffered at the hands of the slavers?”
“No, but I can guess.”
“Yes, and even those imaginings do not quite live up to the actuality.”
Alfred rose and poured out two cups of tea after a silent inquiry of Dinah, who nodded. He brought over both cups and sat down again.
“He was also humiliated by the guards at Knickerbocker Hall the night before he was sold to Master Bruce. And who knows what else he suffered before that? He can’t remember.”
Dinah took a sip of tea. “I know. It can’t be easy.” She thought of Melody’s life before coming to her and Ollie.
“The point is that Clark is strong, but vulnerable. He has a goodness in him that attracts people, and sometimes those who want to hurt him.”
Dinah put her teacup in its saucer. “Vulnerability attracts the jackals.”
Alfred nodded. “Quite. The sweetness and genuine belief in the goodness of people makes him terribly vulnerable.”
Dinah felt fear curl through her. She had observed the same thing.
“Clark is…I wouldn’t say delicate. He has survived worse things than I ever knew, or Dick ever suffered, aside from the murder of his parents, of course, but as a slave…” Alfred sighed. “Dick has seen events that are difficult, especially for one so young, but he has survived. He is a strong little boy.” They both smiled. “He understands the way of things. Clark…Clark doesn’t remember this world’s harshness, and he is hurt by it frequently.”
“Do you mean, Alfred, that his gentleness makes him so empathic that he’s hurt by and vulnerable to this world’s cruelties, even more so than Dick?”
Alfred sighed. “Dick and Clark must be shielded, though Dick has seen more.”
“But if Clark’s so strong…”
“Even the strongest of us can break, Miss Dinah.”
Dinah thought of the screams in the night from Melody and Roy, children callously abused by sadistic Masters and a system that had been in place for hundreds of years.
She had seen enough of Clark to know that what Alfred said was true.
She sipped her tea. “We will find Clark, Alfred.”
“I certainly hope so, Miss Dinah. I miss our times together like this, chatting over tea and gingerbread.”
“He’s a very good companion, isn’t he?”
“Very good.” Alfred drank his tea. “He…I fear what he may be going through.”
Dinah nodded. “I understand.”
Alfred’s gray-blue eyes looked at her. “He is so vital to this Family, Miss Dinah: to me, to Dick, and to Master Bruce. We all need him.”
Dinah rested her hand on Alfred’s. “Ollie’s coming in with Roy tonight. We’re going to keep searching until we find him. That I vow.”
Alfred looked at her with respect, and she knew that she would never give up.