Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Diana, Ollie/Dinah
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Rating (this chapter): R
Claim: For the dcu_freeforall Challenge (Clark/Bruce)
Prompt: T 14: P 27: We Never Leave A Man Behind
Prompt Count: (12/15)
Warnings: Aftermath of battlefield violence
General Summary: On an alien planet at war, the JLA suffers retreat…and an important casualty.
Chapter Summary: The small band of JLA heroes struggle to get to safety behind Allied lines.
Date Of Completion: September 10, 2009
Date Of Posting: January 25, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1292
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Author’s Note: In honor of the U.S. Army soldiers, Marines, and their Allies, who fought during the Battle of Chosin, Korea, November 27-December 13, 1950.
All chapters can be found here.
LIKE A WRAITH IN THE WIND
In the wind,
Only to return
As I knew
"The Korean Winter
Of My Soul"
Bruce awoke, stiff from cold. Clark’s body warmth had helped, but this cold was bone-chilling. He checked Clark, who was asleep but not blue-lipped anymore.
The cold was incredible. It reminded him of the Himalayas.
“Oh, Clark, we’re in a bit of a mess,” he murmured.
Bruce was startled, then smiled. He nuzzled Clark’s neck.
“Sorry conditions aren’t better.”
”I know.” Clark smiled. “But snuggling up with you is a nice perk.”
“Is that all I am to you? A perk?”
“A nice perk.”
Bruce laughed and Clark smiled, receiving a loving kiss. His last check had shown no troop movements at all, not even a small patrol, but he’d better check again.
“I’ll check around. I know the general direction we should go in.” Bruce slipped out of bed.
Clark started to sit up, gasping softly.
“Here now, lay back.” Bruce glided over and put a hand on Clark’s chest. “You’re still weak, and there’s definitely no sun out there.”
Clark rested his head back on the pillow.
Bruce gave him some chocolate bars, scooping up the clean snow from right outside the door for drinking water. Bruce sat next to Clark in bed, trying to relax.
“Let’s try the communicator again.” Bruce activated the instrument, both men smiling when Diana answered.
Bruce and Clark tried to keep warm as they waited for their JLA colleagues, a soft knock on the door and Diana’s voice bringing Bruce off the bed.
Diana, Ollie, and Dinah hurried inside, all of them wearing bulky parkas and carrying two more. Bruce didn’t ask where they had gotten them. They were delighted to see Clark.
“We have to move fast,” Dinah said. “The Northern troops are starting to make a push. I figure if we can get through the Valley of Death, we might make it.”
“Clark can’t walk,” Bruce said as he wolfed down some energy bars that Ollie had given him.
“I can carry him.” Diana examined Clark’s wounds. “Good work, Bruce.”
“Let’s saddle up!” Ollie urged.
Very quickly they left the shack, Diana carrying Clark, Bruce on point as Ollie and Dinah surrounded Diana and Clark.
Bruce wanted to stay close to Clark, but Batman understood the necessity of battlefield precision. He clamped down on his emotions as they passed over a sea of dead bodies, or pieces of them.
He could see Clark’s face peeking out from the Superman façade, pained at so many dead. Wonder Woman was cool, as befit a Warrior, and grim expressions were on the faces of Black Canary and Green Arrow.
It wasn’t snowing but still bitterly cold, the wind blowing as it cut through even the parkas.
The first day was tense, but all they saw was the dead.
They found a cave for the night, Bruce curling up around Clark, Diana on his other side. The Arrows kept the first watch, sitting cross-legged at the cave entrance, huddled against the wind.
Superheroes met disaster all the time, knowing that everything could turn on a dime. This mission was now one of survival, pure and simple.
On the second day, by late morning, it began to snow again.
Batman cursed under his breath. Hadn’t they gone through enough?
An hour later, he saw an advance scouting patrol…from the enemy.
Batman was like a wraith in the wind, black cape swirling out in the snow. He communicated the news to his friends, wishing that Clark wasn’t so vulnerable. Still, he would be well-protected.
The Bat disappeared into the snow.
The scouting patrol was distracted by odd noises and strange shadows. They headed up into the hills to investigate, veering off from the path that the Humans needed to take.
The small party struggled through the snow, Batman continuing the distractions.
As the snow reached blizzard proportions, Batman re-joined the others. He immediately went to Clark, who was worried about him.
“My Bat-wraith,” he said with a smile.
Batman cupped the side of the Kryptonian’s face, and Diana smiled.
“Diana, I could walk…”
“I will still carry you, my friend. It troubles me not, and you are still weak.”
Superman sighed but accepted the logic of the situation.
The snow swirled around, obscuring the little party.
They pushed on, hour after hour, until they were close to exhaustion.
Batman saw the enemy troops approaching from the North. He swooped down and informed his friends.
“Should we find a cave?” Black Canary asked, shouting above the howling of the wind.
“Too many of them. They’ll have patrols all over the hills. We should try to distance ourselves.”
The Arrows looked dubious, at the edge of collapse, and Batman could sympathize. He was feeling the burn of exhaustion in his own muscles.
“Diana, let me down,” Superman said.
She complied, a look of understanding passing between them.
“I will keep my eye on them. If we need a distraction, I will provide it.”
Wonder Woman ran through the snow toward the enemy.
“We have to keep pushing on,” Batman said. “She can buy us time.” He grabbed a swaying Superman. “She’s the best Warrior of us all.” He helped his lover struggle through the snowdrifts.
Wonder Woman’s boots cut through the snow, her powerful legs carrying her closer to the enemy.
Her Warrior blood called to her. Tracking an enemy required subtlety, and she was good at it.
She would make sure that her friends would be protected. With Clark still recovering from Green Kryptonite poisoning and no sun to soak up, she was the most powerful member of the group now.
The enemy troops were getting closer despite the weather. She weighed whether or not to create a distraction but decided against it for the moment. If they could get out of this without more bloodshed, she would be happy.
She wrapped the parka tighter around her. She would have preferred Steve’s arms around her, but she would enjoy his warmth soon enough. She had no intention of staying on this accursed planet longer than necessary.
Clark fell to his knees, lines of pain and exhaustion around his mouth and eyes. His limbs were trembling, Bruce falling beside him.
“I know it’s hard, Clark,” he said, trying to stop his teeth from chattering.
Dinah and Ollie huddled together.
“How much farther?” Clark asked, shivering.
“I’m not sure. We don’t know how far our lines have been pushed back.”
Clark glanced around. “Reminds me of the Arctic.”
“Pity there isn’t your Fortress around, too.”
Clark laughed, grabbing his ribs. Bruce’s arm was strong around his waist.
“Diana?” Clark asked worriedly.
“You know our Amazon. She’ll be fine.”
Wonder Woman appeared out of the swirling snow.
“Let us push onward, my friends!”
“The enemy?” Ollie asked.
Diana’s friends grinned.
When they reached their own lines, everyone was on the brink of exhaustion, even Diana. They stumbled into the war-torn town, soldiers hurrying to help bring them to the medical tent. Each one was treated, and Clark rested in one of the beds, Bruce sitting beside him.
“Thanks for looking for me.”
Bruce’s mouth quirked into a smile as he grasped his lover’s hand.
“We’re like the Marines, Clark. We never leave a man behind.”
He leaned down and kissed a smiling Clark.