Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick, Selina/Lois/Kathy
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. New superheroes appear on the scene as the Abolitionist Movement gathers strength. Meanwhile, Lex gets his heart’s desire while long-held secrets begin to spill out of the Manor. Nothing will ever be the same again.
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Slavefic
Challenge Category: Section E (Slavefic)
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Time is running out.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): February 14, 2010
Date Of Posting: May 20, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1532
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: Written for my 2010 DCU Fic/Art Bondage Challenge.
Of the earth,
As my fingers
I can smell
The scent of
And the sea,
And the ripe
In the garden.
Sarah Jean Vanderbilt
Summer blazed hot through Gotham, Clark grateful that he lived by the ocean. The cool breezes were soothing to his overheated body.
He looked forward to stretching out on a lounge chair but first he had to finish the weeding here in the vegetable garden. Kneeling by the tomato plants, he could smell their richness and plucked one off the vine, savoring the full, rich flavor as it squirted into his mouth.
He would pick some for dinner tonight. Alfred was making a salad and they would go perfectly with the lettuce, red onions, and cucumbers.
He winced as a pain went through his head. He hoped he was not getting another headache. He breathed heavily as he scrunched his eyes against the sunlight. Fumbling for his discarded sunglasses, he felt dizzy.
He was having trouble breathing lately. He put a hand on his chest, trying to draw air into his lungs.
Finally the tightening in his chest lessened. He would have to check his symptoms in Dr. Wayne’s medical book. If they fit with Wertham’s Disease, he would not say anything. If they did not, he would have to speak up.
He was having dreams more frequently, too. Sometimes they were the nightmares of his time with the slavers or Edmund Caldwell, but lately he had been having more frequent dreams about a farmhouse, a cozy and warm kitchen, and the faces of a man and woman that he could not quite see. He could hear their loving voices (“Who’s my beautiful baby boy?” “You’re my son, smart as a whip”) and wondered if they were his birth parents or a free couple who had bought him. He knew that in some farming communities childless couples bought children to help around the farm and sometimes raised them as their own, with the obvious differences, of course.
Clark knew that he had spent time on a farm. He had planted and weeded and been close to the earth, of that he was certain.
He breathed in the scent of the earth and the sea.
He returned to his chores.
That night, Batman and Robin patrolled as a hot breeze swept through the city. Robin was glad for his skimpy costume on a night like this. He did not know how Batman endured the heat in his costume.
Robin hoped that Clark was all right. He had not been in the best of health lately. Dr. Allston said it was all part of the disease, but Robin still worried. He knew they were lucky that the quinium helped Clark from being bedridden, but it was no guarantee against Clark’s growing worse.
Robin had studied the disease, not wanting any surprises, not when it came to this. He had learned that Wertham’s Disease gave no rest to its sufferers and loved ones. A victim could go on for years as Clark had done, suffering only periodic bouts of debilitation while still able to function very well, and then take a turn for the worse with increased headaches, heart palpitations, and exhaustion.
Robin knew that Clark was suffering headaches and taking to his bed more often. This cycle could pass, or signal a deterioration that scared Robin.
He and Batman arrived at the Clock Tower, capes rustling in the night air.
“Glad to see you, Bats.”
Robin looked up at the gargoyle. Catwoman was draped over the stone, her green eyes glittering.
“I’d heard that you’d reformed, Catwoman,” said Batman.
“All for the love of a good woman,” she purred. “Actually, two good women.”
Batman lifted an eyebrow. “Batwoman and Lois Lane.”
“Always knew you were sharp as a tack, Bats.” Catwoman slid down the gargoyle, stalking over to Batman. She smiled at Robin, and he immediately liked her. Jewel thief she may have been (and might still be), but Robin sensed goodness in her that was totally lacking in some of the other Rogues. She purred as she practically entwined herself around Batman. “I have two pretty kitties lapping my cream.”
Robin stifled a giggle while Batman huffed, removing slim arms from around his neck.
“Don’t you think you ought to remain true to them?”
She smirked. “Such an old-fashioned kind of guy.”
“I believe in loyalty.”
“I’m sure you do.” She looked at Robin. “You’ll have to Veil this boy soon.”
The Dynamic Duo stiffened. Catwoman smiled and both realized she had not known for sure that Robin was a slave, but now she did from their reaction.
Batman pulled Robin closer. “I’ll take care of Robin.”
“I'm sure you will.” She reached out and gently cupped Robin’s chin, careful to keep her claws sheathed. “You are a beautiful young man, Robin. Such beauty must be admired and allowed its freedom.”
Batman squeezed Robin’s shoulder. “Freedom is coming.”
Catwoman assessed Batman with feline intensity, then slowly nodded. Her hand went to Robin’s hair and petted it gently, then removed her hand as she stepped back.
“Ah, so the gang’s all here,” came a sardonic voice, which belonged to Lois as she was set down on the rooftop by Batwoman.
“Looks like,” Robin chirped.
Batwoman laughed. “Let’s get down to it.”
“Good idea,” said Batman. “You have information to share?”
The redhead nodded, producing a flash drive. “You’ll find the names of slave-smuggling ring members on it. The police departments in various cities are coordinating efforts to build a case. The people on this list are under surveillance and will be busted at a future date. Soon, hopefully.”
“Once they’ve got a case.”
“That’s right.” Batwoman’s cape fluttered out behind her.
“Gotham must be a major center.”
Robin grinned. Leave it to Gotham!
“Do you see a pattern?” Batman asked.
Lois spoke up. “The regular smuggling’s epicenter seems to be Star City.”
Batman frowned. “ ‘Regular’ smuggling?”
She nodded. “There’s another ring specializing in exotics.”
“A separate ring, or just a subset?” Robin asked.
Lois looked at him with admiration. “We’re not sure.”
“Exotics as in extremely beautiful slaves, or those aliens bred or captured?” Batman asked.
Lois nodded. “Other planets in the Empire don’t have such draconian rules about who is a slave and who isn’t. At least, not all of them. Here if you’re born a slave, you remain one. There is no manumission. Other cultures give those born or sold into slavery the chance to get out. That also means freeborn people can become slaves.”
Batman nodded. “It’s why slaves of other races can be freed here on Earth if the Master petitions the correct council on the slave’s homeworld and gets permission to do so.”
“If the Kryptonians weren’t under a Hunt Decree and could be kept as slaves, they could never be freed.”
“Yes, because there is no more Krypton and no council to petition.”
Robin was saddened by the walls thrown up at every turn for the Kryptonians.
“We’ll do our own surveillance on these people here in Gotham,” Batman said.
“You certainly can if you want to, but Catwoman and I have it under control. Lois digs out the information in Metropolis, and we do the rest.” Batwoman was not challenging, merely stating facts.
Batman studied the three women for a minute, then nodded.
“Good. I’ll be happy to alert you about the next shipment, Batman. We’ve heard that it might happen some time around Free Your Slaves Day.”
“Oh, the irony,” said Catwoman.
Batman raised an eyebrow. “I’ll wait for your call.”
Batwoman nodded while Lois crossed her arms. “So you’re okay with this set-up?”
“Batwoman has proven capable of doing her part as a crimefighter in Gotham.”
While Lois verbally sparred with Batman, Catwoman slipped over to Robin.
“No worries, Little Bird. Your secret is safe with me.”
Robin was not sure why he should trust a former jewel thief, but he did.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
She patted his shoulder and drifted back to Batwoman’s side.
“He’s got you wrapped around his little finger?” the redhead asked with a smile.
“He’s cute and bright, a contrast to Tall, Dark and Grim.”
Batwoman laughed. “He’s going to be a beauty when he grows up.”
They fell silent as they listened to Lois and Batman, smiling at each other over their spitfire.
“I hope you don’t consider women merely auxiliaries.” Lois frowned.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good, because women like Black Canry, Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman are the best there are.”
“I have no doubt of that, Ms. Lane.”
Catwoman leaned over and whispered, “Lois should have the red hair.”
“Don’t be concerned about my opinions of women, Ms. Lane. I can assure you that I respect my female colleagues.” Batman drew his cape closer around him. “Come, Robin.”
The Dynamic Duo leapt off the roof, capes flying out behind them.
“Well, he sure knows how to make an exit,” Lois drawled.
Batwoman and Catwoman came up to stand on either side of her.
“He’s the original Bat,” Batwoman murmured.