Title: Rainbow’s Freedom (Justice Arc) (33/61)
Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Kara Zor-El, Dick, Alfred
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. Clark begins training under the Bat and secrets are uncovered as the Abolitionist Movement makes rapid progress with old and new methods. Can Freedom outrace rumors of War as the Galactic Empire rushes headlong to a new future?
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Drama, Slavefic
Rating: (this chapter): R
Warnings: Allusions to mutilation.
Summary: Everyone’s tempers are short in the aftermath of the murders.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): June 23, 2011
Date Of Posting: September 7, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1165
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The magnificent story cover is by the wonderfully-talented ctbn60. Thanks so much, luv! :)
Blood on my hands
As the rocking chair creaks
Out on the porch
And the gulls cry
While there is silence
In this house.
BLOOD ON MY HANDS
“It was just down the road!”
Clark looked miserably at an irate Bruce. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Brace paused in his pacing in the library. “Why are you sorry?”
“I should have heard it! There must have been screams.”
Bruce waved his hand. “You know how the Joker works. He probably figured out a way to paralyze their vocal cords as he tortured them, because there was torture before the killing stroke, you can bet on that.”
Clark nodded, still feeling guilty. What good were all these powers if he couldn’t save two people from being horribly murdered just down the road?
“Don’t, Clark.” Bruce’s tone was grim. “You have to tune out a lot of your surroundings or you’d go mad.” He slammed a fist into the palm of his other hand. “Now with Adele Hawkins dead, there goes our freewoman witness in the Gage case.”
Clark’s stomach sank. “Oh, not!”
“Oh, yes. Edmund will be getting out.”
Clark rose from the couch, extremely agitated. “We can’t allow that to happen!”
“Well, we have to,” Bruce snarled. “Johnny Gage’s testimony is worthless because he’s a slave.”
Clark wanted to shout and rail, too, but he contained himself. Instead he clenched and unclenched his hands, and when Bruce said nothing further to him, he left the room.
He super-speeded to the Hawkins house, the yellow police tape stretched across the front door. The investigating officers were still there, combing for forensic clues and interviewing the staff, one of whom was quietly sobbing.
The cloyingly-sweet smell of blood was strong, splashed all over the living room and bedroom. He could smell death…and fear.
Swallowing, he listened to the detectives casually discuss headless corpses as if they did this every day…which they did.
“Wonder where the heads are?”
The other detective snorted. “The crazy clown has ‘em.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. What a sick bastard.”
Clark felt sick and sped away, ending up on the Manor’s private beach. He stood by the edge of the water, floating up whenever the tide rolled in.
He was heavy of heart, and Bruce was in a foul mood, a direct consequence of the murders. It made Clark ill to think of what had happened to the Hawkins couple, and the result would be the release of Edmund Caldwell. Jim Gordon would delay it as much as possible, but without reliable witness testimony, Caldwell was no longer in violation of his parole.
Even Dick was in a prickly mood, his adolescence making itself known in moodiness for the last few days. It disconcerted Clark to see his sparkling child out-of-sorts, but Dick was growing up. He was going to undergo the dreaded teenage years, and his slavery was going to rankle even more.
“You’re upset, Kal-El.”
Clark started, looking up to see Kara floating in the cold breeze.
She floated down to touch her boots to the sand. She was dressed in the latest style, nothing to suggest that she was Kryptonian.
“I’m really not in the mood to be lectured today, Cousin.”
“Very well.” She fell into step beside him as they walked the beach.
They were silent, listening to the sounds of the waves, seagulls emitting their raucous cries as they flew overhead, a buoy’s bell clanging in the distance.
Clark appreciated the silent companionship. He let his feelings drift on the tide, not wanting to think too much.
They walked the length of the beach, coming to an outcropping of rocks, a crab scuttling in one of the tidal pools. They watched its journey through the other pools, disappearing as the tide rolled in.
Clark sat on a boulder and Kara sat next to him, the two of them silently gazing out to sea.
About a half hour later, Clark said, “Thanks, Kara.”
“You’re welcome, Kal-El.” She patted his arm. “If you need to talk, my number is 555-927-1959.”
Kara smiled. She should do more of that, Clark thought. She was so angry all the time, though not without good reason.
The voice was low, pitched so that only super-hearing could pick it up.
“I have to go.” Kara’s eyes flickered but she said nothing. “Thanks again, Cousin.”
She nodded, staying seated as Clark hurried to heed his Master’s call.
Up by the Manor, Bruce was waiting impatiently. “We’re going into town.”
“Yes, Master.” Clark sensed that Bruce was in no mood for questions. Playing his slave role would be well-advised.
“Get Dick and meet me out front in five minutes.”
Clark nodded again, a quick X-ray scan revealing Dick in the kitchen with Alfred. Bruce stalked off toward the garage.
Clark hurried into the kitchen. “C’mon, Dick! We’re going into town.”
“Huh? Since when?”
“Since Bruce just informed me outside. We have to meet him out front in five minutes.”
“Okay.” Dick began to hurry, too. “Oh! My sunglasses!”
“Go get ‘em. I don’t think Bruce is in the mood to wait.”
Dick dashed out of the kitchen and up the grand staircase to his room.
“Why all the haste?” Alfred asked as he polished the teapot.
“Bruce said five minutes, and he means it.” Clark sighed. “It thought it best not to question him.”
Alfred nodded. “I believe that is a wise decision today.”
Clark remembered how, long ago, Alfred had warned him to steer clear of Bruce’s moods when he could. Clark had always considered that sound advice.
“How’s Dick today?” he asked.
“Fractious. I believe he is feeling his adolescence today.”
“Great.” Clark groaned. “This is his first time out while Veiled, and he and Bruce have already butted heads over this.”
“Regrettably so.” Alfred put the teapot down. “I am afraid that you will have to play referee, Clark. And how are you today?”
Clark saw the shrewd eyes and knew that, of course, Alfred had missed nothing. He smiled ruefully. “I’ve been better.” His eyes clouded over. “I should have been able to save them, Alfred. What good are having these powers if I can’t save two people right down the road from the likes of the Joker?”
Alfred put a hand on Clark’s shoulder. “You can’t save everyone, my boy.”
Clark sighed. “I should be able to save two people not that far away, Alfred.”
Alfred squeezed his shoulder as Dick clattered down the stairs. “Just have patience, Clark. You have an abundance of it, as I have observed.”
Clark smiled briefly. “Thanks, Alfred. I’ll do my best."
Dick came into the kitchen, putting the dark glasses on as he pouted. Clark put his arm around the slim shoulders as he steered him out to the foyer, throwing Alfred a rueful look.
Alfred sighed as he resumed polishing.
He sensed a disaster in the making.