Title: Rainbow’s Freedom (Rainbow Prisms Arc) (25/42)
Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Alfred, Brendan, Kathy Kane, Jonathan/Martha, Dick
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. Clark finally learns about his identity and heritage. Will that knowledge tear him and Bruce apart? Meanwhile, Rebellion and Abolition twist and turn in the pageantry of events.
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Slavefic
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: Bruce returns to an empty house.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): December 18, 2010
Date Of Posting: December 9, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1348
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The magnificent story cover is by the wonderfully-talented ctbn60. Thanks so much, luv! :)
In an empty house,
Like a living thing.
Will my heart sing?
Bruce entered the grand foyer of Wayne Manor, his footsteps echoing in the vast space. Behind him, Alfred and Brendan carried in the luggage.
“Lunch will be ready at noon, sir.” Alfred said, heading for the elevator with Brendan in tow.
“Very good, Alfred.”
Bruce wandered down the hall. He entered the library and turned on the lights, settling into his chair behind his desk.
The house was so empty.
He sighed. He should really get busy checking out Wayne Enterprises business, though Lucius had been on top of things while he had been away, calling him when the need arose.
And there was patrol tonight.
Bruce took out his cellphone and punched in Batwoman’s number. She answered after the second ring.
“Hello, Batwoman. Thank you for taking care of my…the city for me.”
“Always a pleasure, Batman. After all, it’s my city, too.”
“Yes.” Bruce recognized that his female counterpart was being courteous in her deference to him. As the first superhero to appear in Gotham, he had certain privileges, but he knew better than to push it. “Just letting you know that I’m back.”
“Glad to have you back, Batman. See you soon.”
Bruce flipped the cellphone shut after echoing her sentiment. He mentally reviewed a map of the docks. He’d find her.
He stared out the window. The sea looked as restless as he felt. It didn’t help that today was a typical gloomy Gotham day of gray skies that threatened rain. Wind rattled the windows and bent the tree limbs.
He rubbed his face, remembering the hectic last day in Smallville…
“Oh, Mom, you’ve out-done yourself.”
Martha beamed at her son’s praise as she frosted the strawberry cake with pink frosting. A lemon cake with yellow frosting and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting were cooling on wire racks on the counter.
“Well, with three birthdays so close together, it only makes sense to do all three at once.” She looked at Clark. “We found you in late September, coming home from that Grange meeting. You picked a date very close, even with your memory loss.”
“I guess it was really strong in my subconscious.” Clark smiled.
Bruce paused at the bottom of the stairs. Today was the last day before returning to Gotham…without Clark.
There were festive streamers and balloons of red, yellow, green, and blue in the kitchen, and Dick came in from the barn with Jonathan, cheeks pink from the cold.
“Wow, the cakes look great, Martha!”
“Thank you, Dick.”
While Alfred maintained calling his hosts ‘Mr. and Mrs. Kent’, Dick had been given the privilege of calling them by their first names, at least in private. Alfred of course would not hear of it for himself. Bruce had smiled and explained, “It’s a British thing.”
Dick quickly set to setting the table after washing his hands. Alfred came downstairs and immediately re-joined Martha.
“I can’t take full credit,” Martha said. “Alfred baked Bruce’s cake, I baked Clark’s, and we collaborated on Dick’s.”
“Cool!” Dick said.
Clark ruffled Dick’s hair. “You like it if you get cake, period.”
Dick laughed, blue eyes sparkling.
Bruce joined in, deciding to enjoy the last day without regrets.
Bruce tended to his Wayne Enterprise business, talking to Lucius and setting up meetings. He would have to go into the city to show his CEO face at the building, and now it was time for some exercise down in the Batcave before patrol.
He finished his work and went through the grandfather clock’s opening to the Cave below.
The bats chattered high up in the ceiling, Bruce changing into work-out clothes. He stretched on the mats, then did some tai chi exercises, watching himself in front of the mirrors.
The quiet of the Cave was good for his soul, though probably not as good for his mind. He could think too much…
Bruce found himself on the front porch while the family cleared up the detritus of the wrapping paper and boxes from the presents. The air was growing colder. Jonathan had assured him that snow wasn’t on the way…yet.
Bruce had to agree with him. He knew when snow was coming. He’d grown up in Gotham, after all.
The front door opened and Dick bounced out, smiling as he hopped up on the swing. He immediately pushed off, Bruce amused at his kinetic energy.
He continued to watch his boy as Dick drank in his surroundings. A child of the noise and bright lights of the circus, he seemed to have adapted well to the peaceful environs of the Kent farm.
Dick asked very quietly, “Clark’s staying here for awhile?”
“That’s right.” Bruce noticed Dick’s look of longing as his gaze roamed the yard. “Would you like to stay, too?”
Dick jumped guiltily. “I…uh…”
Bruce smiled gently. “It’s all right to say so.”
“But…Batman needs Robin.”
“Of course I do, but if I got into trouble, I can call on Batwoman.”
Dick looked torn. “Thank you, Bruce, but…”
“How’s this? You stay a week, and even if Clark stays beyond that, you come home.”
Dick’s face lit up. “That sounds good!” He leaped off the swing and hugged Bruce tightly. “You’re the best, Bruce!”
Bruce swallowed and smoothed Dick’s hair, hugging back.
Dick pulled back after a minute and gave Bruce a dazzling smile. “I’d better go tell Clark and his parents!” He dashed inside.
Bruce couldn’t help but smile. He could never resist getting caught up in Dick’s enthusiasm even if his heart was aching.
It’s only for a week. He’ll be back home then.
And who could blame Dick? A farm was endlessly fascinating to a boy. He could run wild across the fields and enjoy the cozy warmth of the farmhouse and the people in it.
He wondered if the Manor fell short. It was huge and grand and could be considered cold and impersonal, but Clark and Dick had brought light and warmth to a house that hadn’t known either in a very long time.
The front door opened and Bruce smiled a little as he sensed who it was.
“Master Bruce, enjoying the air?”
“Yes. It’s clean and invigorating.”
Alfred stood next to his charge. “Little wonder that Dick and Clark are so enamored of the place.”
Alfred put a hand on his shoulder. “Dick told us he’s staying.” Bruce nodded. “For a week. Has Clark said he will accompany him home?”
Alfred squeezed Bruce’s shoulder, then let his hand drop. “Master Bruce, Clark will return. He just needs to spend time with his parents here in his old home.”
“I know.” Bruce jammed his hands into his coat pockets. He moved away to stare out over the fields toward the road.
Alfred’s voice was soft. “It was extremely generous of you to give Clark permission to stay.”
Bruce looked around in surprise. “How did you know that I gave him permission? He could just tell me what he wants to do now.”
”He won’t do that.” Alfred smiled slightly. “He is still your slave.”
“We both know that’s a technicality.”
“Perhaps, but it’s one that Clark wishes to live by.”
“Why, Alfred? He could be free, because with his powers, he could do whatever he wanted.”
“And hurt us?” Alfred shook his head. “He would never do that.”
“Yes. He would never hurt Dick or me by simply declaring himself free while we cannot. And he would never hurt you by just leaving, or not honoring your place in his life.”
“I’m not sure that he should be honoring anything about me, Alfred.”
“I disagree, sir.”
Bruce chuckled. “Loyal as always, Alfred.”
“That, and pragmatic, sir.”
Bruce had to smile. He clapped his hand on Alfred’s shoulder. “As always, you’re right, old friend.”
“Of course, sir.”
A trace of a smile was on Bruce’s lips as he finished his tai chi exercises.
Time to go on patrol.