Pairings/Characters: Clark/Bruce, Ace, Alfred
Continuity: The Batman (DCAU)
Genres: Fluffy Drama ;)
Summary: Clark has to take care of Ace while Bruce is deep undercover.
Date Of Completion: September 17, 2010
Date Of Posting: September 20, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1991
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Happy Birthday, hitokaji! This is my response to your request of ‘Clark & Ace’. :)
This just seemed like a story that should fit into DC’s ‘toonverse. :)
“So, can you do it?”
Clark looked at Bruce, who was sitting in front of his computer, his fingers tapping on the arm of his chair. He was already itching to get back to his research.
Clark’s gaze dropped to Ace, the sleek hound sitting up on his haunches, alert and ready for anything. He wore his Bat-mask and cape, a combination that should have looked ridiculous on the dog, but somehow looked dignified.
Clark smiled. “Of course I can look after Ace.”
“Good. Alfred’s due back from London at the end of the week, Dick’s off with the Titans, his mission pretty hush-hush, and Barbara’s off with your cousin and Krypto to some planet somewhere.”
“They’re on Rigel VII. Barb’s gonna love it.” Clark frowned. “I don’t like you going so deeply undercover that I can’t get in touch with you.”
“Clark…” Bruce’s tone was warning.
Clark smiled as he walked over to the chair, gently patting Ace on the head. “Before you disappear, how about one for the road?” He straddled the chair while Bruce’s grumping was lost in a smile.
Ace trotted behind Clark, checking out his new surroundings. The icy crystals of the Fortress glittered with blue-white intensity, totally opposite to the gloom of the Batcave. The dog’s black fur was stark against the white background.
Ace was 180 degrees the opposite of the frenetic Krypto: quiet, observant and eternally vigilant. Clark smiled.
Like Master, like dog.
“Time for some lunch, Ace.” The dog’s ears perked up and Clark grinned. Quiet and efficient dog or not, he was like any hound when it came to food. He scooped some food into Krypto’s dish and Ace happily chomped away.
Clark set to his own work, setting the AI to backing up Kryptonian text that was priceless and needed preservation. He glanced over his shoulder and smiled at Ace’s intent scrutiny of the screen displaying Kryptonian symbols. Undoubtedly he had seen the same thing on the Batcave screens as Bruce kept up his study of Clark’s ancestral language.
The day remained quiet, Ace padding up to Clark’s chair and settling (alertly!) beside him. Clark absently reached down and scratched behind Ace’s ears.
After another hour, Clark finished the back-up and smiled down at Ace. “Want to play catch, boy?”
Ace thumped his tail.
Playing catch was methodical with Ace, who timed every move and was precise in his movements, but he yipped and romped once he got going, Clark laughing as he threw a red ball toward his companion. Krypton would have been bouncing off the walls by now (and playing catch with a tree trunk or boulder instead of a ball), but each dog had his good points. Ace was sleek and graceful like his Master, and Clark found himself thoroughly enjoying himself.
Clark smiled down at Ace trotting through the alleys of Metropolis as Clark flew up over the buildings.
Ace began barking and Clark saw the mugging in progress in the shadows. He swooped down, easily disarming the mugger as the young woman being threatened gasped.
“At your service, Miss.”
Ace growled at the mugger, who flailed in Superman’s grasp, trying to kick the dog.
“Trying to kick a dog? Tsk, tsk.” Superman shook his head. “Are you all right, Miss?”
“Y…yes! Thank you so much, Superman! And your dog, too.”
Ace wagged his tail.
After depositing the mugger at the nearest police station, Clark tugged gently on Ace’s cape. “We make a good team, boy.”
Ace looked solemnly up at Clark for a moment, then thumped his tail on the sidewalk.
Clark relaxed on the couch, Ace taking a rare nap on the rug in front of the fireplace. As much as he enjoyed Krypto’s energy, there was something to be said for a dog who didn’t act as if he’d ingested a super dose of Sugar Pops.
Clark read his book at a normal pace, eschewing super-speed. He wanted to savor this novel. Good writing was a true pleasure.
He glanced over at Ace. Alfred would be due back at the Manor in two days and would take the dog back. Clark was going to miss him.
Just like your Master. I know he had to go into deep cover, but I still wish he’d managed to get word to me.
Something was niggling at the back of his mind. Something was not quite right.
Clark yawned as the crackle of the fire lulled him to sleep.
The shadows moved, elusive and tantalizing. He reached out, trying to grab them, but frustration was his only result. All the while a sense of foreshadowing built up, fear growing.
Ace nudged his hand and he petted the dog, eyes straining to see in the darkness.
Suddenly, the shadows formed into the shape of the Bat. Bruce’s face was there without his cowl.
“Help me, Clark,” he said before he dissolved into shadows.
Clark reached out.
Clark jerked awake, Ace whimpering as his nose pushed at the Kryptonian’s arm.
“I know, boy.” Clark patted the agitated dog’s head. “Let’s go to Gotham.”
Clark had learned some things from Bruce about the art of disguise, though he was pretty well-versed in it himself before he’d ever met his lover.
He took his natural inclinations and Bruce’s teachings and had crafted a shabby, grungy persona, carrying that over to Ace, who looked mangy as he shambled along beside Clark, who wore a dirty raincoat, torn jeans, and a ripped sweatshirt that was topped off by dirty sneakers and a ragged fedora. His beard was scruffy, and he kept the hat low over his eyes.
He didn’t know many details about Bruce’s undercover mission, but he did know that his lover had gone underground in the sleaziest section of Gotham.
Not that practically the whole city doesn’t fit that description.
Clark smiled slightly. Bruce would have punched him in the arm for that crack.
Ace growled low, Clark gently petting his companion. “I know, boy.” He looked around, sensing the dangers. Little wonder that people without powers could be so fearful. They had been hanging out in these alleys and bars for 24 hours. There had been no trace of Bruce.
A hulking, shabby man with a tangled beard bumped into Clark. “Watch where ya goin’,” he snarled.
“Sorry,” Clark mumbled.
Ace whined. Clark watched the big man turn around the corner.
“You’ve got something?” Clark asked softly.
Ace trotted forward, following the big man. Clark followed him, spotting their quarry easily. The giant took them on a twisting, turning tour of Gotham’s sleaziest alleys. Clark felt a little shiver as they traversed through Crime Alley, his microscopic vision seeing faint bloodstains on weathered concrete.
Finally, the man entered a crumbling old tenement, shutting the door behind him. Clark and Ace hugged the brick walls, reaching the door. Clark did a quick scan of the building. His heart beat faster.
“Upstairs,” he whispered.
Ace stuck close to Clark’s side as they entered the tenement.
Clark indicated a room at the end of the hall, filled with three men arguing.
“I say get rid of ‘em,” snarled a stringy-haired man.
The balding man leaning back in a rickety chair drawled, “He’s too out of it to identify any of us.”
The hulk stayed quiet, but his hands were clenching and unclenching.
“We’ve come too far with our operation. Once we bring in the smack, its purity will make us kings of Gotham’s drug world.”
Clark set his jaw. Silently he floated up the stairs, followed by Ace on the steps. He headed straight for the room in which he’d seen Bruce.
Bruce was lying on a single bed in a room with peeling wallpaper and broken furniture. He was unconscious. Ace whimpered, nudging his Master’s hand.
“It’s all right, Ace. We’ll get Bruce out of here.”
Clark checked Bruce’s vitals. He wasn’t completely happy with the numbers, but he had to get Bruce back home.
He hurried to the window, raising the sash. Flinching at the loud creak, he picked up Ace.
“Meet us at the Manor,” he whispered.
Ace whuffed just as softly as he jumped through the open window and took off through the streets.
Clark flew up over the grimy rooftops, keeping a tight hold on his precious burden. It wasn’t long before he flew into the Batcave, laying Bruce onto the infirmary bed with gentle care. He began an inventory on his patient.
Footsteps sounded on the stone steps leading down from the library. Alfred quickly crossed over to the infirmary.
“…has been drugged.” Clark drew a blood sample. “Hopefully it’s just a knock-out drug and not a sample of the junk the drug smugglers are bringing in.”
“Yes.” Alfred took the vial and immediately began to analyze it. “It appears to be a simple knock-out drug, sir.”
Clark sighed in relief. “Good. He should come out of it soon, then.”
Ace arrived at the Manor in record time and maintained a silent vigil by Bruce’s side. When Bruce finally came to, Clark smiled at Ace, who barked in acknowledgment.
“What the hell happened?” rasped Bruce, wincing at the examination light.
“Apparently your scruffy disguise didn’t quite do the job,” Clark said dryly.
After a robust argument, Bruce allowed no recovery time as he got off the examination cot. Shaky and pale, he insisted on going back to the drug house.
“Bruce, you’re in no shape to go after those smugglers. Let me…”
“I will not! This is my city!”
Clark rolled his eyes. “Yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve heard this song before.”
“Fine, then you know the refrain,” Bruce snapped as he headed for the showers.
Clark sighed as Ace growled. “I know, boy.” He crossed his arms. “Eternally stubborn.”
When Bruce emerged from the showers, clad in only a towel and flip-flops, he was presented with a united front. Ace was standing next to Clark, who still had his arms crossed in his Superman pose. The dog stared at his Master unrelentingly.
Bruce threw up his hands. “I’m going, but you two can come, too.”
Clark smiled while Ace thumped his tail.
The stake-out wasn’t long. The drug dealers were hurrying to get their shipment in once they’d discovered that their ‘snoopy meddler’ was missing.
Superman, Batman, and Bat-Hound followed the gang to the docks. Once the transfer of drugs began, the World’s Finest plus one swooped down, and all hell broke loose.
The fight was swift, Bathound getting in some good bites, and his human and Kryptonian partners got in their own licks. As one of the dealers tried to conk Batman, he got a legful of angry dog.
“Good boy, Bat-Hound!” Superman said with a smile.
The dealers were wrapped up, and Batman stood with his cape swirling as an eddy of wind gusted down the alley. He frowned at Superman and Bat-Hound, who was sitting on his haunches by the red boots.
“I suppose you two think you’re all that now.”
Superman smiled. “I think so. What about you, Ace?” The tail whump brought a laugh from the Kryptonian.
Batman rolled his eyes behind the white lenses. “You’ve spoiled him.”
“Oh, Ace just recognizes a good partner when he sees one.” Superman scratched behind Bat-Hound’s ears.
“He’ll be undisciplined! Probably run around the Cave chasing bats,” his companion grumbled.
“Oh, I think he’ll be his usual self. Just more relaxed.” Superman winked at Ace, who silently wagged his tail.
Batman sputtered as the three of them headed for the Batmobile.