Title: Rainbow’s Freedom (Rainbow Prisms Arc) (32/42)
Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce (Clark does not appear in this chapter), Dick, Barbara Gordon
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, Drama, Slavefic
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: Bruce makes an inadvertent discovery.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): January 13, 2011
Date Of Posting: January 17, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2114
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The magnificent story cover is by the wonderfully-talented ctbn60. Thanks so much, luv! :)
"The Official History Of The
National Abolitionist Society
From The Nineteenth Century
To The Present"
Bruce smiled to himself as Dick’s chatter brightened the Cave. He had definitely missed the boy, and had learned more about farming techniques than he had ever thought possible to know.
“Those big agro farms the Government set up feed the Earth, but the small organic farms that the Kents run provide the best local produce.” Dick was in costume, his domino mask lying on the table next to the computer that he was using.
Bruce’s cowl was off, his gloved fingers flying over his keyboard. Preparation for the night’s patrol was important. A pattern of burglaries had to be established so that they could predict the next target. “It was nice of Martha and Jonathan to send along all that great food,” he said.
“We’re gonna eat like kings!”
Bruce chuckled. “I wouldn’t doubt it, especially with Alfred in charge.” He finished his computations. “I think we should do quite a bit of patrol along Bradford Avenue.”
Dick nodded as he put on his mask. Bradford Avenue was the counterpart for New York’s Fifth Avenue or Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive: a conglomeration of extremely high-end businesses: jewelry, clothing, off-world imports. The burglaries had been at businesses like these, or mansions like Bruce’s own.
“How do you figure the businesses tonight?” Robin asked as he and Batman headed for the Batmobile.
“It’s the pattern: knock off a high-end store, then a mansion, then a store.” He took out this cellphone. “I’ll see if Jim Gordon can keep up police patrols in our neighborhood.”
“The Gold Coast!”
Batman laughed. “Yes, the Gold Coast. Pretty catchy nickname, huh?”
Robin grinned as the Batmobile roared out of the Cave.
Batman was very pleased to be on patrol again with his young partner. It hadn’t felt quite right without him in the past week.
When did the loner Batman become so dependent on help like Robin and Batwoman?
He probably should be disturbed by this turn of events but somehow he didn’t really care. Instead, he gloried in Robin at his side as they flew over the rooftops, keeping watch over Bradford Avenue.
There was little activity, however, which disappointed the Dynamic Duo. They wanted to catch the gang in the act, and wanted action! But the night was quiet, the stars actually clear on this crisp October evening.
Batman was silent and still, watching Cartier’s Jewelers as his cape billowed in the breeze. Beside him, Robin was just as still.
A miracle in itself!
Batman refrained from smiling. He kept his eye on a shadow, not sure if it was a person or a trick of the light. For all his extraordinary abilities enhanced by rigorous training, he was still only Human.
Which brought his thoughts to Clark: how was he doing re-learning his powers? He had the best teachers: Jonathan and Martha, his instructors the first time around. Of course, ‘instructors’ might be a loose term at that. The Kents had no more idea than Clark how to train. The Government kept all the details under a Classified stamp as to Kryptonian powers.
He was itching to observe more of those sessions. He was mightily tempted to order Clark home but would never do it. There was too much at stake.
He breathed in the air, surprisingly fresh for downtown Gotham. The shadow never moved again, so Batman concluded that it had been a trick of the light after all. He signaled Robin that patrol was over.
Bruce was not completely satisfied with what had transpired on patrol (virtually nothing), but being with Dick again had made him happy. He and Dick enjoyed their customary milk and cookies in the kitchen. They went upstairs together, and Bruce slept peacefully for the first night since coming home from Smallville.
Bruce remained chipper the next day, and Dick was sparkling all over the place. Alfred was serene, but Bruce could tell that he was happy that Dick was back. The boy’s presence helped ease his ache over Clark's absence.
Except for that horrible time when he was kidnapped, Clark and I have never been separated. He sipped his orange juice. I’m just not used to this.
“Barbara will be here at ten,” Dick said.
“Good. You should practice with her in the upstairs gym.” Dick nodded. “I have some things to do in the Cave.”
After breakfast, Bruce talked with Lucius over the phone in his study, and then went into the library just as the doorbell rang. He smiled. Barbara Gordon was always punctual: a good trait to have, in his opinion.
Bruce went through the opening in the grandfather clock and descended into the damp Cave. He did his own vigorous work-out and then sat at the computer, noticing an editorial in The Boston Lantern about Wonder Woman:
The Amazon has been becoming more strident with her Abolitionist leanings in recent days. She is proclaiming that enough time has passed with slavery as an accepted practice, and it is time for this generation to stand up and be counted.
Easy for the unmanacled to counsel patience, to say that ‘gradually’, emancipation will come, maybe a generation or two down the road, but where does that leave those suffering under the current system? Shall we tell them as they undergo the lash and the auction block, torn from friends and family on a freeman’s whim, that freedom will come, but long after they and their children are gone?
Think about that as you tuck your children into bed tonight and kiss your spouse goodnight as you sleep the sleep of the free, while others live in terror of their lives being uprooted with no warning.
It is time for this generation to stand up.
Bruce was impressed. The Boston Lantern was not a radical Abo paper or an organ of the N.A.S. It was as respected a paper as The Daily Planet or The Gotham Gazette or The New York Times. This would cause an uproar, if he was not mistaken. He checked the on-line comments.
They were a blistering mix of approval and condemnation, which was unsurprising. The issue was always a hot button. No doubt the other newspapers and services would pick it up and run with it.
Seems fitting that it’s The Boston Lantern with this. Back in the 19th century, Boston was a hotbed of Aboltionism.
It still was, the headquarters of the National Abolitionist Society located in the venerable city. They were far more low-key in their rhetoric than their ancestors, but were still allowed to exist.
Bruce found that interesting. The Government was certainly oppressive enough, but was surprisingly lax in other things.
Maybe they think letting the N.A.S. exist is a safety valve, letting those so inclined feel that they’re doing something and not feeling the need to so something in secret, though there have been rumors that there’s a modern Underground Railroad running.
As he read more comments, he wasn’t sure that he believed such a thing. An Underground Railroad in the 23rd century would have better communication than in the 19th, but the technology to ferret out and monitor such a movement was light-years better. He was doubtful of any such secret movement.
Alfred brought him a turkey sandwich, which he gratefully accepted. He ate while he was working and was just finishing up his computer work when he heard a noise. Frowning, he quickly changed to Batman after going to the locker room. If someone was down here, better to meet him or her as Batman rather than as Bruce Wayne.
He slipped into the recesses of the Cave, listening for an intruder. Maybe the noise had been just a stalactite crashing down from the cavern ceiling, but it had been loud enough for him to investigate.
Batman continued to slip through the shadows, keeping his eyes trained on the caverns and his footing, which could be treacherous in this part of the caves.
Just as he was thinking of safety, his boot slipped and he started to fall into solid rock, frantically reaching out a hand to break his fall…
Barbara flipped effortlessly as Dick applauded. “You’re doing great!”
She beamed as she dropped to the net. “Thanks! Coming from you that’s real praise.”
Dick laughed. “Yeah, I do know something about flying.”
Barbara flipped down from the net. “A little.” She bounced on her toes. “Anything else for me, Boss?”
Dick grinned. “No. You’ve done a fine job for today.”
“Okay.” She picked up a towel. “It’s nice of your Master to allow his Prize to help the Kents.”
“Yeah, the Master’s Prize can give a lot of details about his kidnapping. Even though the video is Exhibit A for the N.A.S., it doesn’t show any of what the Prize suffered.”
“Hmm.” Barbara glanced at her watch. “I have an appointment at two. I better get going.”
“Oh, can’t you stay for lunch?”
Barbara smiled. “I guess I can.”
“I’ll ask Alfred if he can serve right away.”
After they cleaned up and showered, they headed to the kitchen. Barbara was always a good companion, and had no objections to eating with slaves. The kitchen was filled with laughter as they enjoyed turkey sandwiches on wheat bread with lettuce and a light covering of cranberry sauce, washed down with cranberry juice.
Barbara thanked Alfred for “the delicious lunch” and hurried off to her appointment. Dick helped Alfred clean up.
“Is Bruce still in the Cave?”
Alfred nodded. “As far as I know. I brought him down a sandwich earlier.”
“I’ll go see if he found anything new about the robbers. I’m surprised the press hasn’t dubbed them yet.”
Dick grinned as he left the kitchen.
Once down in the Cave, he called, “Bruce?” His voice echoed, causing a ripple of disturbance among the bats high overhead. The lack of an answer did not disturb him. Sometimes Bruce liked to jump out at him and test his reflexes.
He called again, every sense alert for any surprises. He began a circuit of the Cave.
Fifteen minutes later he was frowning. Bruce had never gone this long without making his presence known. Something was wrong.
Dick wondered if he should go and get Alfred when he heard a noise. He hurried toward the sound.
A part of the main Cave branched off into darker realms. Swallowing, Dick clutched his flashlight tighter.
He went as quickly as he could, light-footed and retaining his perfect sense of balance, his heart pounding. What if Bruce had gotten a head injury and wandered off?
“Batman!” he called. Maybe some villain had broken in? He wished that he had put on his costume but even if someone saw him, they would just dismiss him as a slave. It was easy for freemen not to see slaves.
He thought he heard a groan and stopped, looking around. That was when he spotted a small aperture in the rock wall. He squeezed his way through, coming out into a large chamber, not as big as the Batcave but still sizeable.
He had little time to look as he spotted Batman only a few yards away.
“Batman! Are you all right?”
Dick checked out his mentor and was relieved to find no broken bones. However, Batman’s head could be another scenario.
“Ow,” Batman complained. “What am I doing here?”
“You tell me. Did you hit your head?”
Batman rubbed his head. “I might have. Where are we?”
“In some new cavern.” Dick helped Batman to his feet. “Let’s get back to the Batcave.”
Once back in the main Cave, Dick helped Batman to the small infirmary. Removing the cowl, he examined Bruce for signs of concussion as he had been taught by Alfred and Bruce.
“You have a mild concussion. Better stay awake.”
Bruce grimaced. “Yes, Doctor.”
Dick grinned. “I don’t remember another cavern in that area.”
“It might be on one of the old maps.”
Dick ran to the cabinet that held the ancient maps, handling them with extreme care as he took them out of their climate-controlled environment
He spread them out on a table and he and Bruce studied them. “There,” Dick said, pointing toward a spot on the parchment. “What’s that writing say? It’s all faded.”
Bruce squinted. “I think it says…” His eyes widened. “Underground Railroad Stop.”