"They think I'm crazy"
"Who does?" Clark asked grasping the kids arm more firmly.
"Everyone. My guardian thinks it's all in my head but it isn't and if you let me help you then you can see it too." He wasn't putting up much of a fight and voluntarily followed Clark back to the manor where Bruce lived. He was seventeen and Clark had just found him in the watchtower hacking into all of the computers. As soon as he saw who it was he grabbed and hauled him back to Gotham. This wasn't the first time he had done such a thing and quite frankly Clark was sick of it.
"I don't think so. I quite like the world the way it is." He rang the doorbell and after waiting on the porch for two minutes an elderly gentleman appeared with a scowl for Bruce and another thank-you for Clark.
"Honestly I don't know how he keeps getting out." Alfred remarked as he hurried Bruce inside the manor, he made sure that he was securely in and turned back to Clark "I'm dreadfully sorry once again for how he's behaved."
"Don't worry about it," Clark waved off "Chloe's started a bet over which day he'll turn up next so if anything he's providing some entertainment for those stuck in watchtower."
Alfred was safe to talk to about these things as he had to explain in the first place why Bruce wanted to escape his comfy life in Gotham to spy in Metropolis. "I wish I could say the enjoyment was of equal value here Master Clark."
"So when's his next appointment?"
"Tomorrow," Bruce called out having eavesdropped on their conversation. With another stern glare from Alfred Bruce retreated upstairs to his room.
"Doctor Crane said that he was trying Bruce on an experimental procedure that should help him conquer his demons. If anything that means two nights of knockout drugs so one would suggest to enjoy these evenings off from Bruce watch as much as one could," He joked and reached for an umbrella in the foyer. He handed it over to Clark and when Clark declined saying that he would be out of the rain in two seconds once he set off Alfred bid Clark goodbye and showed him out.
Glancing back at the old manor Clark saw Bruce observing him carefully out of one of the windows. Clark could see his piercing blue eyes prick at his soul from where he stood and inwardly shivered away from that gaze. He always felt unnerved around Bruce and Clark concluded it was partially to do with his eyes, there was just something wrong with them. Which was further backed up with Bruce's continuous visits to Arkham. Without Alfred, Clark knew that Bruce would be a patient there twenty-four seven and just wondered how many more sleepless nights Alfred was going to put up with before he gave in to the doctors recommendations.
The first drop of rain hit him on the nose and snapped him out of the staring contest he had been having. Clark made his way back to Metropolis and watchtower in under five minutes and was pleasantly greeted by Chloe who had taken to trying to suss out what Bruce wanted with their computers.
"Nothing more than last time and the time before." She commented before angrily tapping the esc. button.
"So nothing then."
"Nope. I don't know how he does it, it's really starting to bug me," She gave up with the button smashing for the time being and gave Clark a smile "So how was the nanny, did he want his baby back or did you just drop him straight off at the asylum?"
"Alfred's fine but frustrated. Bruce managed to avoid seven alarms, half of them newly installed and put in when he was in Arkham for the day. No doubt he'll be installing more tomorrow when Bruce goes for his check up," Clark collapsed in a chair wearily. All the heroing and then the psycho in the watchtower made his day long and tiresome.
"I don't see why he coddles him so much. If you ask me he should be locked up," Chloe returned back to the monitors and tried once again to escape the programme that had been glitching all day.
"I know, but Alfred is the only person Bruce has. I think he feels sorry for him," Chloe gave him a 'really?' look. "Come on, he's creepy but you do feel somewhat sorry for him and you know it."
"Maybe a little," she relented quietly "So tomorrow?"
"He wont be here for a couple of days. Alfred guaranteed it. It turns out it's time for him to go to Arkham for another one of his check ups," Clark regurgitated.
Which was the last said of Bruce for the day. Clark helped Chloe get in touch with the rest of the league and tell them about another target they needed to focus on. This one was selling children to an underground fighting ring and with Oliver's money and connections Clark and the rest of the league managed to figure out a plan of action.
It went off without a hitch and left them in a celebratory mood. So much so that the rest of Clarks heroing good and bad couldn't affect how elated he felt to have brought down the criminals responsible for ruining those children's lives. He even managed to put up with Lois' moaning at the planet, in fact his mood was so good that he managed to get on Lois' good side. She let him write some of the juicier articles that would have been bi lined solo and always had a smile for him in the mornings when he came in. Things were starting to get good in Clarks life again.
Of course that was when Bruce put in another appearance at the watchtower. One minute Clark was preparing to spend the whole day on monitor duty whilst Chloe got some well needed rest and the next he was staring at a psychotic seventeen year old expertly handle one of watchtowers computers.
"Should have known," he muttered. Bruce looked up and frowned. He obviously wasn't expecting his hacking session to be cut short so soon. "So Bruce, care to let me know what you're doing in one of the most top secret and secure locations in Metropolis without permission?" He asked snidely while watching Bruce's hands still work the computer. It seemed he didn't even need to be paying attention to the screen to do whatever it is he was doing.
"Trying to get your number," he replied flirtatiously. It wasn't the first time he had tried flattery to get him more time on the computers. "That way we could speak to each other more often. I really do enjoy spending time with you Clark." He smiled dazzlingly at him and even fluttered his eyelashes a bit.
"Very funny," Clark snarked "Now get off." He used his speed to go over to Bruce and try and see what it was he was doing but by the time he got over it was just the desktop screen and the typing Bruce was doing was controlling the little game of minesweeper in the top corner. Clark narrowed his eyes at Bruce's innocent look. "Alright what are you up to?" he demanded.
Bruce only motioned to the current screen. "You can't honestly expect me to believe you break in here just to play games on the computers," he asked disbelievingly.
"Why not? Alfred doesn't let me near computers, it's certainly plausible,"
Clark took pause at this new information "Like none. At all?"
"No" Bruce drawled "he thinks they're corruptive. Said they would affect my recovery, but I just think he doesn't want me looking at porn."
"Yep." He popped the 'p' "So I come here and play games. It's far enough away that no one knows who I am and really the best consoles are the most expensive. And these are expensive computers," he ran his hand over the top of one.
Clark wasn't convinced and grabbed Bruce's arm, dragging him out of watchtower and into Clarks arms. Bruce knew from experience to hang on tightly as Clark looked left and right for any oncoming civilians before using his speed to get them into Gotham. It took less than five minutes for them to reach the manor and once again Clark had the chore of leading Bruce back to his house. Alfred had been keeping an eye out or just saw them arriving since he stood at the door the minute they reached the steps. Bruce gave Alfred a half wave and a guilty smile before continuing into the manor.
"Again-" Alfred started
"Think nothing of it, it's not your fault," Clark corrected with a smile for the tired old butler. Bruce came up behind Alfred when he saw that the necessary niceties were underway and ignored the glare Clark sent his way.
"Why don't you come in?" Bruce invited which received a scandalized look from Alfred.
"Erm, I don't think-" Clark began
"It's fine, Alfred will make tea. Besides you have nothing else to do," Bruce cut in
"Actually I do. I'm meant to be on monitor duty," Clark explained and started back down the steps.
"But there's nothing to monitor. You can just hear if someone is in trouble and phone them. It's completely pointless for you to be watching computers all afternoon when you could be spending it with me," Bruce had moved Alfred out of the way whilst he was talking so Clark got a full view of Bruce's self satisfied grin.
"I don't think that Alfred-"
"Would mind too much. After all he practically owes you for all the times you've brought me back from your clubhouse," Clark looked imploringly at Alfred to understand but it seemed that something Bruce said had made sense to him and instead of agreement Clark was met with a joint front. Not seeing another way out he relented and followed Bruce into the manor.
The foyer itself was big enough to house half of his farm and as Bruce led him through corridors into what looked to be some kind of living area the rooms kept getting bigger and more extravagant. There were portraits of people he didn't know but from looking at their elegant features he could tell they were of some relation to Bruce. The ornaments and other furniture that lavished Wayne manor looked as equally elegant keeping to the gothic tone that all of Gotham seemed to share but appearing just that bit more inviting than some of the features he had seen in some people's houses. Bruce naturally threw himself into a chair managing to lounge in a way that was befitting of an aristocrat. Clark took the sofa that was situated to the left of the chair and went for the middle. That way he was far enough from Bruce but still close enough to be polite.
Alfred had gone as soon as Bruce began leading Clark to the living area but soon returned a few minutes into the stifling silence that had fallen over Clark and Bruce. "Tea?"
"Please," Clark practically begged. Just to have something to say in the room felt relieving. Alfred noticing the tension and almost frowning his disapproval over Bruce's hosting abilities urged a topic onto them.
"Why don't you tell master Clark about the new friend you made."
Bruce seemed surprised that this was the topic chosen but his face soon lit up as he explained about his new friend "His name is Jack but everyone calls him joker because he keeps forgetting to take them out of the deck when we play cards."
"Oh. So where did you two meet then?" He asked genuinely curious as to how this weird boy made a friend
"Arkham. Crane said I could mingle with some of the crazies while he tried to sort my medicine out and we just hit it off. The guy tried to be comedian but he said no one found his jokes funny. I don't know why, he's hilarious." Bruce explained with a laugh at the end remembering something funny about this 'Jack' fellow.
"Yes and Bruce did have a lot of time to mingle," Alfred said with an actual glare at Bruce that time. Bruce looked scandalized and a little bit hurt at that look.
"It wasn't my fault! I don't control the medication Alfred," Bruce argued. It seemed like this was a common topic of late between them.
At Clarks confused look Alfred explained "Master Bruce's treatment had to be delayed since Doctor Crane couldn't legally get a strong enough dose that would affect Master Bruce's mind. It was a complete waste of a journey."
"Again. Not my fault!" He pouted "He thinks I sabotaged it. Lowered the doses while Crane had his back turned or something. It's not my fault that his drug didn't work." Bruce collapsed back into his chair after his little rant "Not that I need it." Was heard by Clark as Bruce muttered it under his breath.
"So you have a immunity to drugs?" Clark asked amusedly on the surface but secretly freaked out. It just made the kid that much freakier.
"Just some," Bruce agreed
"Yes, just anything that could be of any real help to him." Alfred left after that with one last warning glance at Bruce and left them in the room together.
The silence returned with a vengeance and Clark tried to silently sip his tea and looked around so he had something to do. Bruce didn't seem to mind though and started roaming his eyes over Clark with that piercing stare of his. His head gradually tipped to the arm of the chair and his feet hoisted themselves up so he was more comfortable while making Clark feel anything but. He tried to listen to the world and hoped that someone needed desperate help but it seemed that any crime that was being committed was being handled by the league. Clark sincerely regretted agreeing to monitor duty. After a while the stare on him began to draw his attention again and Clark returned the assessment with one of his own. He might as well he supposed since it was only fair that Clark get some judgement of this Bruce fellow if he wasn't going to leave him alone.
Clark let his eyes meet Bruce's and marvelled once again at their intensity. The paleness on the outside seemed to highlight the bright blues that inlaid his eyes. The rest of him was monochrome in colour. His skin a pale white that clung to his handsome cheekbones and housed his jet black hair. Clark wondered not for the first time what it was that Bruce was actually diagnosed with. He seemed so normal sometimes and others out of the ordinary, but he couldn't put a name to what it was that made it necessary for him to visit Arkham regularly.
"What do you want with the computers?" Clark asked once again bringing up that other repeated question.
"To play on them," He said playfully and arched an eyebrow.
"Come on Bruce, I don't honestly believe that Alfred would deny you a computer unless you have done something in the past that would make him reconsider," Clark pressed. Bruce only shrugged. "Fine. Be like that." He sighed "So why exactly do you want me here?" He tried down a different path.
"To talk. I feel like we have a connection." He said eying Clark up
"What connection!?" Clark asked confused
"You want to do good and I want to watch you do good." He gave him a look from under his lashes "Among other things I want to watch you do."
Clark had reached the end of his patience "Okay stop it. That thing you're doing.."
"Seducing." Bruce said underneath Clarks tone
"Whatever! It's creepy and you and I both know you're only doing it to avoid spilling any intimate secrets. So stop it." Clark was panting by the end of his outburst and immediately felt stupid for doing so. Bruce hadn't moved a muscle during it and still lazed about with his stare on Clark.
They sat in silence some more. Clark because he was feeling foolish and wondering if Bruce's silence was because he was also thinking Clark foolish. He was about to stand up and leave, having thought of an excuse that someone was dying in a fire when Bruce spoke up.
"Do I look crazy to you?"
Clark did a double take. Repeated it in his head to make sure that he did hear him correctly "Like appearance or attitude?" Clark asked, he needed more clarification.
He contemplated not answering Bruce and making his escape but then he thought back to when he was bringing Bruce back to the manor a couple of weeks ago. He said that everyone thought that he was insane, and Clark wondered about what Bruce meant when he offered to show Clark about how he thought. Maybe that was why Bruce had invited him in. He admitted that he thought they had a connection and maybe he just wanted someone to talk with that would listen honestly and unreservedly to his opinion. After all if you need an unbiased opinion you go to the alien.
"You don't look insane," Clark started "But sometimes you act unusual and it makes me think that you are."
Bruce thought on that then asked "Honest opinion. The first time I broke into the watchtower did you think I was insane. This was before you brought me back to Alfred."
"Not really. I thought you were stupid at first for thinking you could get away with breaking into watchtower. Then I thought you had to be some kind of villain or super spy from the government, someone smart at any rate to even get into watchtower. Come to think of it I didn't really question your behaviour until Alfred told me you spent most of your time at Arkham." Clark was surprised at that and started analysing things all over again. Without the knowledge that Bruce was somehow unstable he seemed well not normal but not insane. Could it be that knowing there was something wrong with Bruce made him think that he was insane. It was possible. "Don't take this the wrong way but, what exactly is wrong with you?"
Bruce only scoffed and smirked in reply. Clark made a mental note to ask Chloe later if he didn't eventually get it out of Bruce. "Okay don't tell me. So two weeks ago you offered to tell me something, somehow expand my universe so I could see things like you. What did you mean by that?"
"Are you seriously asking for me to show you?" Bruce asked coyly
"No but if you explain it then I might." Apparently this was the wrong answer because Bruce was only too happy to shut up about it. Clark sighed in annoyance "I don't see why you're being so hush hush about it now. You were more than willing to tell me a couple of weeks ago."
"That was different."
"How?" he asked exasperatedly
"I hadn't been to Doctor Crane for a while." Interesting.
"What does Doctor Crane have to do with anything?"
"What doesn't he." Bruce explained cryptically. He seemed to be about to elaborate on something but then he jerked as if he heard a noise and when he turned back he smiled that dopey smile the Clark had been subjected to on more than one occasion. "I think it's time for you to leave. Come on I'll show you to the door."
Bruce led him back down the corridors to the front door. One of the rooms caught Clarks attention though, inside it was full of medical equipment, right down to the doctors table in the middle of the room. Bruce backtracked when he realised Clark wasn't following. "That's the room Doctor Crane puts me in when he comes here for some tests." he explained "Don't worry about it this place has always been here. My father would often bring some patients to the manor if they couldn't afford medical insurance. The only difference now is that I'm the patient."
Bruce grabbed at Clarks hand to haul him back on track to the front door. Even though Clark could continue without hand held guidance Bruce didn't let go of Clarks hand. Once they got to the front door they were met again by Alfred who only quirked an eyebrow at Bruce for the hand holding. Bruce quickly explained.
"I told you he would say yes Alfred." Clark was at a loss as to what he said yes to. Alfred wasn't though and the eyebrow turned into a full on frown. "Right Clark? You agreed to be my boyfriend." Bruce said
Clark was taken aback at the suddenness of this. Boyfriend? Since when had the word even cropped up. Clark was just the person that returned Bruce to the manor. Sure Bruce flirted but it was completely one sided and for the most part Clark was sure it was just a distraction technique.
"Is this true Master Clark?" Alfred queried.
Clark was going to deny it vehemently but then he looked at Bruce's face. There was something there that stopped him from saying no and nodding at Alfred's question. Bruce beamed at him and led him outside with a word over his shoulder to Alfred that he was "Seeing him to the drive and if he thought Bruce was going to run off he could just watch out the window."
Bruce led Clark to the edge of the driveway swinging their joined hands in between them. Once they were a safe distance from the door Clark turned on him. "Boyfriend?"
Bruce smiled at his own genius "I know, brilliant right. It's the perfect cover for you. It means that you can come around whenever you like and Alfred will leave us alone. Also that it isn't suspicious when you take me out for dates and stuff."
Clark just looked at Bruce astonished. "When did the subject of boyfriend even come up in there. And what do you mean cover?"
Bruce just looked at him like he was trying to explain something to a small child "When you asked if I could show you what I meant when I said I could change your perspective on life. If we're going to figure this out together Clark then you're going to need a cover and believe me you'll be happy it's there."
"What is wrong with you? One minute you refuse to even speak to me about this stuff and now we're undercover."
"Yes." Bruce said like it was obvious. "Now give me kiss goodbye and be on your way," he said expectantly.
Clark only kept staring at him. Trying to figure him out which prompted Bruce to sigh and initiate their first kiss. It was quite chaste and different from kissing a girl but Bruce's lips were still soft and quite appealing under Clarks so even though he was still confused he didn't turn away from the kiss. Bruce had threaded his arms around Clarks neck sometime during it and pulled them back so they cradled his face. It was when he was pulling away when he heard Bruce speak quietly "The manor isn't safe, neither is the watchtower. Be careful how open you are when you speak." Before he leaned back in and gave him one last peck.
Clark stared as Bruce practically skipped back to the manor doors where Alfred was waiting with a stern look on his face. He only snapped out of it when he got back to watchtower to be greeted by Chloe on the monitors.
"So how was your day?" She asked smarmily.
"Weird." Then remembered Bruce's parting words and instead of telling Chloe about the weird day with Bruce he apologised and said that he had some emergency at the fortress to attend to.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
This one is a bit shorter than the last because the next one needs to be together and therefore longer. Sorry its taking so long and I will be updating my other story but Uni is getting in the way so it might still be a while. I do take fic requests also.
'Not again' Clark thought staring at the innocent smile on Bruce's lips. He had thought that agreeing to hear out what Bruce had to say would quell the urge for him to break into the watchtowers computers. However, looking at Bruce's pale features glowing from the bask off the monitors he knew he should have thought better.
"How do you keep getting in?" Clark wondered and hoped it would be answered from someone within the watchtower. He looked and listened confusedly, it was unheard of for someone not to be here from the team.
"He's gone out." He heard instead from Bruce.
"Oliver," He was going to sternly talked too when he returned "He was here for a while but left to get some take out for us." He explained
"So he left you here?" Clark asked incredulously
"Alone?" Another affirmative, "In a high tech facility that he owns?"
"He obviously trusts me," Bruce commented and Clark couldn't tell if he was joking or not.
'Right' Clark muttered before steeling himself to get a paper and pen, scribbling a 'gone out' note and grabbing Bruce to run him back home. Instead of taking him to the manor doors like usual Clark dropped him at the gates and turned to face him. "You can't keep doing this," Bruce just gazed back unresponsive like everything in his brain decided to go offline whilst Clark tried to lecture him. It wasn't the first time he had tried to have this conversation with him and he doubted this would be the last either. "Come on Bruce you know you can't just turn up at the watchtower, you aren't a hero or someone that we fully trust. Not to mention you worry Alfred half to death when you run off. What do you think he's thinking right now, knowing that you could be anywhere because you don't tell him."
"He does know," Bruce interrupted with a scowl on his face.
"Probability states that if an action is repeated and the result turns out the same each time then chances are that it will happen again on the next round. Alfred probably would have guessed that I would be with you because that is where I've been the last few times. Not that it's relevant to talk about probability, I told him we were on a date today," he sprung and smiled at Clark like it was fun to lie to his guardian.
"Yep. Quite clever really, I said it so that Alfred wouldn't question why I wanted to go over and see you. I was to meet you at the watchtower and then we were going to go to a movie together," he frowned at Clark "Wait. Did I do something wrong, your face is suggesting that I've made a faux pas. Do people not go to the cinema anymore? If not what do young people do for a date, I thought that the cinema was still an 'in' thing but obviously I've missed some social change. But I suppose that's what I get for gathering this information from sitcom re-runs." He paused for a moment "You don't think Alfred would have seen through it do you?"
"What." Clark was baffled by the stream of information that Bruce was sprouting. He would later find it quite amusing if not a little sad that the only social interactions outside of theirs was with his TV. "No, no wait. I didn't mean that going to the cinema was a bad idea for a date I meant 'a date' as in why would you say that to Alfred and then turn up in watchtower. If you wanted to meet me why didn't you just shout or something. I would have eventually heard you."
"But it isn't very discreet. So I went to watchtower to get in touch with you but Oliver said that you would be coming by and he said I could just wait there for you. You know, having your number would make things a lot easier between us." he commented slyly.
Clark paused for a second and considered it. Did he really want a mental patient on his call list, no. But there was always the possibility that he would do something crazy and it would be easier to find or talk to him if he had his number. It might even decrease the Bruce sightings at Watchtower. So with that thought and a bit of groaning on Clarks part he told Bruce his number, he had offered to write it down but Bruce said he could just memorise it.
"So what did you want to see me about anyway," Clark sighed.
Bruce grew attentive and glanced around giving Clark another uneasy feeling. Why would anyone feel unsafe on their own home? Bruce did Clark concluded when he asked if they could go somewhere more discreet.
The place that he decided on was an open aired patch of land that when he set Bruce down he took one look and sat on the grass below them. As soon as Clark was seated also Bruce turned his body so that he could lie back into Clarks lap and look at the sky. He could have pushed him off but Clark was looking forward to this meeting being over.
"Do you ever get the feeling that something's wrong with the world?" He eventually asked
"Well yeah," Clark said thinking back on all the times back in Smallville when he wished that he could feel normal but the universe would put one more thing on the planet to make that an impossibility.
"No, nothing like that. Like, you're in a dream or everyone else is and you are the only one that can see what's really happening." Bruce looked earnestly at Clark as if urging him to understand what he was trying to tell him.
"Like in the Matrix?" Clark asked hoping that this was the right answer. Judging by the death glare Bruce sent his way he guessed wrong. "Alright, we're in a dream."
"No we're not," Bruce sighed and looked back up to the sky, hopelessness on his handsome face.
"But you just sai-"
"No I asked if you every felt that way, not that we actually were. You're interpreting it wrong. Besides to create a machine that could have the whole world dreaming at once is more advanced technology than what's available at this time," He dismissed flippantly.
Clark tried a different method "Is that how you feel? Like everyone is seeing something and you aren't?" Bruce avoided the question.
"I wish I could see earth like you do. You know, like in outer space." he said conversationally before muttering almost too quiet for normal humans to here "I would love to see it again."
Clark was confused at that. 'Again'? so Bruce had been into outer space. There was more wrong with this kid then he originally assumed. "I've never been to outer space," Clark answered.
"Really?" he frowned "Why haven't you just flown up, I know you can."
"How-? Never mind. No I haven't been up, and it's not because I don't want to (well it kind of is) but I can't. Kara's tried to teach me but I just can't get the hang of it."
Bruce didn't ask anything after that for a while and instead busied himself with drawing equations into Clarks legs or the shape of something long and round in the sky. In the end it was Clark that broke the silence.
"I didn't think you were gay," Bruce remained silent
"So the whole dating thing really is a cover?" Clark asked intrigued
"Kind of. It is in the way that I want to have a reason to spend time with you. It isn't in the way that I really do want to kiss you," he brought his hand up to Clarks lips to trace them causing Clark to almost pull back. He was feeling awkward enough to change the conversation again.
"So Ollie doesn't seem that annoyed with you. I'm guessing you two know each other?"
"Heard of, but never really met until today." He smirked "Not here anyway."
"That's not at all ambiguous," Clark muttered
"You should watch him," was Bruce's reply. At Clarks stupefied expression he continued "All of them, you should watch them. Not Chloe or Lana I doubt they would be helpful. But definitely watch the others. Oliver, Bart, Dinah maybe Arthur."
"And why should I do this?"
"So you can see what I do. You won't notice it at first, not until I tell you what to look for but when you do..." He trailed off mysteriously and turned into Clarks stomach curling up into a ball away from the harsh winds. Clark was about to ask what it was when Bruce warned "Think hard before you ask Clark. There is not turning away from it once you notice."
Clark kept his mouth shut. This was it, the answers he had been wanting- well at least some of them- but still he hesitated. And why? Well because looking at Bruce's piercing eyes he questioned whether he truly wanted to know what he did. Sure he could just be insane but even insanity starts from somewhere. So he kept his mouth shut and thought.
The silence lasted a while, but Clark didn't really know how long until he looked down to see Bruce dozing on his lap. His watch read seven meaning that they had been out there for more than two hours and with the wind picking up and the grey world of a storm descended upon them he thought it time to take Bruce back to his comfy bed in Wayne Manor.
Alfred was there to greet them, or Clark since he was the only one conscious, and led him to one of the biggest bedrooms he had ever beheld in his life. Comfort and luxury seeped out of every pore of the room. The quilts were soft and light but warm enough to keep the harshest of winds away from its inhabitants. They lay in a deep red and welcomed Bruce happily back into their arms. The rest of the room had a fireplace that situated itself with two chairs in front near the darkest corner of the room and was lit brightly so heat emanated richly from its embers. Even the windows were luxurious, though there was only two they were floor length and opened onto a balcony. It would have been heaven when it was hot but for now the windows were barricaded shut to keep out the pattering rain.
Alfred had offered Clark a bed for the night and even though he denied he said that he would stay a while to see if the storm lets up. Alfred then left him to get some refreshments which allowed Clark to pursue the books at the end of Bruce's bed. He took one on astronomy, glad to have at least something in common with the strange boy and was about to take it to the fire when his eye caught hold of the bedposts. They were obviously amateur judging from the level of skill at the bottom but it seemed that someone had carved dozens of bats into the bedpost. It started with simple symbols that highlighted the bat form from the bottom and once they had perfected that one they moved onto more advanced drawings. The further up the post he went the more detail and skill was seen, so that when he got to his head height he was looking at the screeching face of an angry bat, talons, teeth and ears, even the fur was expertly carved. The other ones of such skill weren't all furious, some seemed sad, others neutral but mostly they were crying out to be free from the wood.
Alfred came back in and found Clark like that. Just staring at the bats on Bruce's bed, "I'm afraid that's master Bruce's work. He started drawing them shortly after his parents died and never seemed to kick the habit," He remarked angrily.
"They're rather beautiful. I didn't even know he could draw," Clark sighed before brushing one and going over to the fire.
Alfred gave him his tea and some biscuits telling him that he was just down the hall if Clark needed anything and left him once again in Bruce's room. He was mid way through Bruce's book on theoretic time travel, having moved through several books with the speed he read, when Bruce woke up again. He groaned once which was how he caught Clarks attention before realising that there was someone in the room with him and sitting up abruptly. Once he saw that it was just Clark he let out a beam and left his bed to come over to him.
"I like your bats," Clark nodded towards his bed. Bruce stopped when he got to them and gazed at them fondly.
"Would you believe it if I told you I was terrified of them when I was younger."
"You? No," Clark scoffed jokingly causing a laugh to escape Bruce.
He took the seat opposite Clark "I would have thought you would go home after dropping me off."
"The storm made it easier to accept some company before I left," He motioned to the closed windows that showed a shower of rain hitting the panes "Even if you were unconscious."
Bruce rolled his eyes "Gee thanks." He pulled his legs up and looked at Clark seriously after that. "You never asked." Clark picked up the trail of the conversation they were having before Bruce's nap "Do you want to know or not. You can say no." Clark thought this was the best time to start thinking about leaving.
He looked outside and noticed that the storm wasn't going to relent. He would have to take his chances. "I don't know," he mumbled. Then he manned up. He was going anyway "Yes, yes tell me. I may as well hear it."
Bruce looked a bit surprised which pleased Clark. It was nice to think that he had gotten some upper hand even if he was going to go back to being on the lower end after whatever weird bit of information Bruce was going to feed him.
Bruce took a breath before revealing it. "Well Clark the thing you need to look out for is the context of their conversations. You may have not noticed it but they don't make sense sometimes. They speak of people who they've never met and places they haven't been and they aren't aware themselves that they're doing it. Sometimes I even see things that shouldn't been in accordance with this world. You need to start listening, watching. The world isn't making sense Clark!" He paused to gauge Clarks reaction "I see you don't believe me. You wont until you listen. But you need to start questioning them. If they say something weird, ask them about it and you'll see I'm right."
"I need to leave," Clark announced and did just that.
The idea that everyone had been saying things like that scared him. Not because he thought that Bruce was wrong and that he was humouring and potentially damaging a mentally unstable person but because he knew that Bruce was right. Earlier in the day Bruce had mentioned that he wished he could go back into outer space, it could be the ramblings of his insanity or it could be what he described. Either way Clark was freaking out and needed to be as far away from the manor as possible.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Warnings of Superbat in the chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Clark was adamant in his mission to forget what Bruce had told him and if he was being honest with himself he was mostly succeeding. Everything for the past two days had been normal, he and Oliver teamed up for surveillance of a Luther Corp. Facility and had which was still on going but for the most it was just nice to hang out with him for a few days. He honestly missed having a guy friend. Back at Watchtower Chloe had updated the facilities claiming that the 'psycho can try all he wants but he isn't getting through here' and as for the psycho himself, well Clark hadn't seen or heard from him since he had left his manor two days ago. It seemed a bit too easy, and that was probably what set Clark on edge, the fact that Bruce was willing to leave him to his own devices. Later he would blame all of this on Bruce because it was all his fault for telling Clark and putting him on edge. And it was because of this that when it came to their next stakeout Clark happened to catch the unusualness of Oliver's parting statement.
"I gotta go, Chloe and I have a date tonight and I also want to get back early to check up on Roy," He had said slinging his bow into his quiver.
"Who's Roy?" Clark asked only half paying attention at the time.
"Roy?" Oliver shot back equally confused.
"Yeah, the guy you said you had to check up on," he explained
"I did?" Oliver frowned trying to remember
"Yeah," Clark answered while a little foreboding feeling crept up into his mind.
"Oh well," Oliver brushed it off "I'm tired and bored, I can't be in control of what I say all the time can I?" He joked
Clark didn't take it lightly though and after that he couldn't ignore it either. Oliver was the main victim for most of these slip ups but the other leaguers often joined in with him. Sometimes two of them would have full conversations with each other and only half way through realise that they hadn't a clue what they were talking about. Clark noticed after a week that the slips all seemed connected. Oliver was often calling out the names of Mia or Roy, and on one occasion he had walked in on Chloe and Oliver fighting after he has slipped Dinah's name into one of their intimate times. Bart kept mentioning Wally and Barry, sometimes mentions of a Red Robin but Clark couldn't distinguish whether this was a person or an actual bird. The most interesting thing about it all though was that Chloe and Lana weren't affected. They would come into the tower and act normally which left Clark confused. Why weren't they affected by the slips?
He needed answers.
Bruce hadn't called or came over to the watchtower for up to two weeks, ever since he had lain this bombshell on him. He was probably trying to give Clark time to come to his senses and confront him about this revelation. Which was exactly what Clark was doing.
Instead of going to the front door and going through Alfred, Clark skipped the middle man and jumped up the Bruce's balcony and tried the floor to ceiling window's handle. It was open but Bruce wasn't inside. Clark listened for his voice and found that he was downstairs eating with Alfred.
"Do I have to?" he asked Alfred resignedly and Clark pulled his hearing back. He was there for answers, not to snoop.
Clark turned his attention back to Bruce's book pile and saw that it had been changed since he was last here. He happily indulged himself while waiting for Bruce to finish his lunch, anything to keep him from barging down and shaking Bruce for answers.
The book he picked up was quite boring, even by Clarks standards to give everything a try and he soon found himself wondering if it was the bad literature or the fact he hadn't slept in three days that had his eyes closing gradually. By the first line of the third chapter Clark had succumbed to sleep.
And in that sleep he dreamt something odd. A dark cave built into rock and stone that was damp from water dripping oddly from anywhere. It would have been dark if not for the light from the computer monitors. But even that didn't help his sight, there was always going to be shadows here and he knew it and there in the middle in front of the monitors was the darkest shadow he had ever seen. It was shaped like a man but distorted by the dark and seemed to grow blacker the longer he looked at it. He couldn't see a face, couldn't tell if it was friend or foe. Then he woke up.
He had been out for half an hour if the chimes from down the hall were accurate and Clark rubbed at his tired eyes before letting them fall back to where they were before. Which was something new. He glanced down and saw blue eyes peer up at him. Bruce had crawled into his lap when he was sleeping and made himself comfortable in a sprawl that meant he was lying on top of him. Clark didn't really have the strength to push him off at that moment and sighed before becoming more alert. He remembered the reason why he was here.
"So it seems you were right," Clark started and watched at Bruce moved his arms so they were cocooning him closer to Clark
"I usually am," Bruce agreed "So who was it that gave the first clue. I bet it was Ollie, there's hardly any brain in there, he wouldn't know to think before speaking."
"Hmm. It was Oliver actually." Clark steeled himself to ask the next question "So why are they doing that? Who's Roy and Wally?"
Bruce started when the names were mentioned and even though he deflected about the names it was apparent to Clark that he knew who these people were. "They're saying it because they know them Unconsciously at least. When they speak without thinking their filters go out and they speak like they would normally, things get through and it's rather clever but you don't really notice it unless you listen properly. It's like something is making you look or in this case listen the other way."
"So these people are real?"
"Yes," Bruce agreed and got that calculating look in his eye "They're probably here to, they just don't know who we are."
"So, something is making us forget about them?" Clark concluded "Someone?" he put just in case Bruce forgot to cover that area.
"Then what!" Clark demanded and this time he did chuck Bruce off his lap. The billionaire just rolled his eyes and made his way to the seat opposite him.
"Not so loud Clark," He warned
"If you would give me a straight answer then I wouldn't have to raise my voice," He shot back and sat back in his own seat
"I can't," Bruce said pointedly looking around the room
And then Clark remembered. Bruce said it wasn't safe here. Could someone be watching him, them? It was possible, but why? He was about to ask whether they could leave and go somewhere else when Bruce's face caught his eye. He had a pointed warning in it. Listening. Who was to stop them from following them. If Bruce gave off an address they could be there before Clark, someone who could make you forget about a whole life had to be more powerful than Clark.
"So what do we do?" He asked hopelessly
"Live our daily lives in peace," Bruce answered in mock seriousness
"So am I," He growled and Clark thought back to his dream, the shadow in the computer banks. He sighed "Look, just forget about it."
"Forget about it? FORGET ABOUT IT! You spring this thing upon me and you expect me to just pretend like everything is normal. Like we aren't in potential danger. Like we aren't someone's puppets. Well I'm not going to do that, no matter what you-"
He was broken off when Bruce tackled him with a kiss. Filled with fire Clark grabbed Bruce's hips so he wouldn't fall from where he was crouching on his chest and wondered what this display was for when the door to Bruce's room opened. Bruce had his hands cupping Clarks face so even if he did open his eyes he couldn't see who was there. He guessed it was Alfred and felt ashamed for a minute that he walked in on them like that before the door closed and they were left with each other again. Bruce didn't let go though and continued nipping at Clarks lips, moving his legs down so he straddled Clarks lap. Their new position let Clark feel the warmth that he was exuding and when Bruce licked at his lips for permission he couldn't remember why it was a bad idea not to.
They made out for ten minutes, Clark having lost his shirt somewhere along the way and was currently admiring the way Bruce's lips felt running down his chest. Of course that was the moment when Bruce pressed reality back onto him.
"Are you going to be good now?" He asked with a nip at his nipple "Or are you going to go shouting again."
Clark sat up abruptly and caused Bruce into his lap as a result. "You shut me up with a kiss," he muttered angrily
"It was effective," Bruce said and tried to lean up for another one, when he saw Clark was done with him he twisted his face. "That doesn't mean I don't want to kiss you. I just thought it was better for warding Alfred off for half an hour. And if I got to indulge myself a bit then why not." He tried again and this time Clark moved him gently to the side before retrieving his shirt. Bruce in a panic exclaimed "You aren't leaving again."
"Why not? After all, the only help I'm getting here is kissing lessons. You aren't going to do anything so why stay."
"You can't leave me here," he begged causing Clark to look back at him. He looked a bit wild with his hair mussed and his eyes begging Clark not to leave.
"You have Alfred, it's not like you're going to be alone." Clark bargained. If anything though his reply made Bruce look even more unnerved.
"Take me with you then,"
"Why?" He asked confused. He was alright staying here alone for the first seventeen years of his life. "Besides I'm not taking you to watchtower, who knows what you'll do."
"Then take me to your house. Just don't leave me here," He shot back
"But what about-"
"I don't care about Alfred! He doesn't matter, just take me with you," he begged and real honest to God tears came to Bruce's eyes. He'd never seen him in such a panic and he suddenly didn't want to leave him there. Not if he was going to be like that. Clark walked back over and grabbed onto Bruce trying to calm him down.
"Okay you can come with me. But you're going to have to tell Alfred," Bruce madly shook his head "Why not?" Clark asked
"It isn't him," he whispered. He wouldn't elaborate further and Clark started having second thoughts as to whether it was a good idea to tell Alfred so he didn't. After all, Bruce was the only one who told him the truth.
Clark came around the sofa and hoisted Bruce into his arms before taking the window's way out of the manor. The run to the farm was quick and Clark soon set Bruce down on his well worn chair in the kitchen. Ma was still in DC so he wasn't worried about anyone disturbing them.
"Do you want anything to drink?" he asked, watching as Bruce peered around his kitchen.
"Just water, thanks" He answered picking up fruit and drink mats from the counter and setting them down again. "I like your home," he commented and Clark set down his drink near him. He seemed to have calmed down now that he was away from the manor.
"It's been in the family for generations." Bruce smiled at him and asked if he had anywhere else he was going for the night. Watchtower was empty save for Chloe who would be standing, vigilant as ever, in front of the monitors and unless she called Clark, he had nowhere else he needed to be. "So, what did you mean when 'it isn't him'?" he asked referring to the comment Bruce made about Alfred.
"I said that?" He panicked. Clark nodded. Bruce laughed hysterically and covered "You should just ignore it. I'm crazy remember, there's nothing wrong with Alfred."
"Then you'll have no problems with me taking you back then," Clark made as if he was going to come around to Bruce again.
"No, no. I mean I'm here now. Why take me back when we could spend some time together. Come on Clark that's what couples do and I do want to get to know you better," his replies though spoke in a serious manner held an edge of panic in them and Clark wondered if there was actually a place where he could get a straight answer out of Bruce.
"Fine," He conceded and thought to what they could do "Why don't we watch a film or something, at least until it gets dark."
Bruce perked up and slid off the stool to follow Clark into the living room. Clark went about procuring a DVD while keeping an eye on the roaming billionaire in his house. It seemed he was rather interested in the photos of Clark and his parents and laughed when he found some baby pictures of him.
"Don't mock, everyone had an awkward phase as a child," Clark called embarrassed when Bruce found the picture of him dressed in his mothers blanket pretending to be a superhero.
"Not me," Bruce cheered "I was a beautiful child, everything I did looked like a piece of art," Clark snorted out a laugh "I'm serious, ask Alfred he'll have proof of it." Bruce joined in the laughter a moment later. He seemed to have forgotten about his earlier problem with the aged butler
Clark didn't bring up the subject of Bruce's hesitance around Alfred again for the rest of the night. Instead he tried to enjoy his company and see if Bruce was also effected with the slips. He couldn't really tell though, Bruce never said a name he didn't know or a place that would seem wrong in a sentence. He didn't even blurt out something off topic, which made Clark wonder why it was the league. What made them so special?
By the end of the movie Clark took Bruce into the barn to show him some of his kryptonian things. He loved it, one glance at the books and a confirmation of what they were had Bruce bringing them back into the house with him. He also begged Clark to take him to his fortress but he declined on the basis that it was too late and that he didn't have any winter gear that would fit him. So Bruce just collapsed back onto the sofa with Clark making conversation whilst looking over the parts in English. At least that was what Clark thought until he saw that a page he was looking over had no English in it.
"The language is really something huh?" Clark tried
"Yeah, it's great. Does Kryptonite really weaken you?" Bruce answered quickly
"How did you know about that? And kryptonite? I think that's the first time someone's ever called it something other than a green meteor rock."
"It's here. Doctor Swan mentions that some parts of your old planet could be poisonous to you since that can't really mutate like you can so it stays in its pure form. See," He pointed to a paragraph that was in full Kryptonian.
"You can read that?" Bruce affirmed that he could when he read a passage out loud in fluent Kryptonian. He looked rather proud of himself "Even I can't speak the language. I only just learnt to read it." Bruce didn't look all that concerned.
This was the proof he had been looking for. So in their other lives Bruce was a part of Clarks somehow. There was no other explanation as to how he could speak and read a dead language native to his home planet otherwise. It also meant he was tied to the rest of the league. Clark wondered what Bruce was, a hero? Villain? Could he actually be Clark's boyfriend? It wouldn't be too far fetched to think. After all it was Bruce who suggested it and the ease that they fit and lost themselves together had to mean something. He could have imposed the idea of pretending to be boyfriends so he could get some familiarity back. Clark looked at Bruce and wondered if they were happy together in their other life. He was nice when he wasn't being an annoying riddle. It wouldn't be so bad to be with Bruce.
"What?" He asked as he caught the strange look Clark was giving his way. He only leaned in as a response and kissed him chastely. "Oh," Bruce murmured before leaning away. Clark thought he had overstepped a line but all Bruce did was place the journal on the table in front of them before pouncing back onto Clark. It was like a dam had burst the moment that they connected again. He figured it was his past self glad to have Bruce back in his arms and with the fever that Bruce was kissing him with it seemed he wasn't the only one feeling the rightness of what they were doing.
Like before, time seemed to slip away from them and in what seemed like a matter of seconds Clark found himself on top of an almost naked billionaire. Bruce had his legs hooked on the back of Clarks thighs and his arms around his neck so he was levitating from the sofa thoroughly exploring Clarks mouth. "Don't pull away this time," Bruce muttered before bucking wildly in Clarks hold. The surprise sent him toppling down bringing Bruce into contact with the sofa. It seemed this was what he wanted though since as soon as he touched the fabric he rolled both of them so Clark was sent to the floor with a laughing Bruce unbuttoning his pants.
He started kissing his way down Clarks chest stopping to savagely bite at one of his nipples and barely touch the other one. Needless to say Clark was a writhing mess underneath him from the different pressures he as applying. Bruce continued his varied treatment of soft and vicious down the muscles of Clarks chest and applying just as much attention to the bits of skin he was gradually exposing with each tug on Clark's pants. Once he had successfully removed them he gazed down appreciatively at the sight he was beholding making Clark preen a bit.
He gave him a smirk before Clark felt like he was in heaven. Not Lana or anyone else he had been with gave head like Bruce. It was as if he had spent years mastering every technique on the planet for the perfect blow job and then years again learning what Clark liked. There wasn't any hesitation or experimentation in the way that he took Clark down to the base and dragged his teeth on the way up. Nor in the firm grip he had on one of his hips reminding Clark that he couldn't let go or he would hurt Bruce. His other hand was busy dragging its nails over his balls and lightly tracing them again alternating patterns so that Clark could never get used to the sensations. All the while Bruce continued biting and caressing his cock. The effort it took Clark not to start thrusting meant that his mouth was an unfiltered mess. He kept moaning "Bruce," sometimes so loud he was glad they didn't have neighbours.
Quite quickly Clark felt a tightening in his stomach and tried to warn Bruce "B- Bat- Bruce, I'm gonna." and he either didn't make out what Clark was saying or completely ignored him as he kept his mouth tight over his cock as he came. He stayed on the floor panting in orgasmic bliss as Bruce pulled himself up and wiped his mouth. He looked a sight with his eyes bright and hair mussed and Clark honestly couldn't think of anything more sexy in that moment than the look he was shooting at him. "Come here," Clark pulled him on top of him and pushed down the silk black boxers he was wearing. "You'll like this," Clark promised and braced himself up. Bruce ended up in much the same position he was earlier in the day but this time Clark was encouraging him to get comfy in his lap. He braced one arm around his back so that he wouldn't fall and wrapped the other one around the cock peeking out of the silk cage Bruce was wearing.
He had only indulged himself in this trick a few times since he found out that he could move faster than the average human. It didn't really effect him that much, just made it nicer but he knew on a human it could be beyond pleasurable as seen with Lana a couple of times (though even that never fully satisfied her) he only hoped he could make it nice for Bruce. He thought for a moment and used spat on his hand before wrapping it back around Bruce and beginning to move it as fast as he could without hurting Bruce. The effect was instantaneous, Bruce let out a whine and hung onto Clark dragging his nails down his arms for some kind of leverage. Clark, loving the helplessly pleasurable look Bruce was sporting took it up a notch after a minute and loosened his hand so he could move it fractionally to the side on his way up and down. He was groaning continuously while his hands had made themselves home in Clarks hair. He bent his head down and kissed Bruce's gaping lips, loving that he could do this for him. Bruce eventually came with a sigh of Clarks name and a rather rough tug on his hair. He didn't mind though, it was nice for someone to treat him like the invulnerable being he was.
He kissed Bruce again, loving that Bruce's response after an orgasm was to collapse on the nearest surface, probably because that was him. He let him rest his head on his shoulder and enjoyed the feeling of triumph that he had. If his thoughts before about them being lovers were a bit questionable this experience showed him that he was right about it. There was no way they could know about each other this intimately and not be together. And he both loved and hated that idea. He hated the fact that he couldn't remember Bruce, that he had treated someone that had meant so much to him so hostile because some sick being decided to play with their memories. But he also loved that even if someone removed all their memories that Clark and Bruce would still find each other, no matter what anyone did to them.
"Hmm," Bruce laughed at his shoulder and continued with some more giggling.
"Is sex some kind of narcotic for you?" Clark asked jokingly trying to turn his head to see what had Bruce laughing.
"No," he said in between giggles "I just thought about what your neighbours would think if you had any,"
"Huh?" Clark let out confused.
"Two men wrapped up naked together, floating in a living room," and he descended into another round of laughter.
Clark looked down, sure enough they were floating in the middle of the living room. Clark panicked which sent them plummeting down. Luckily Bruce was still on top of him so Clark absorbed all of the impact. He really just kept on laughing, pulling away to wipe his eyes.
"Aw," He cooed seeing Clarks look "Am I your happy thought. That's so sweet."
Clark just tackled him to the ground and proceeded to wipe the smirk off his face with a kiss. Thus the night continued much like that and by morning there was nothing that the world could throw at him that would pull him down from his high. Bringing Bruce to the farm had to be one of his best idea's.
One which he agreed with when Bruce walked in the kitchen clad in only his black silk boxers. Clark asked if he wanted to help make breakfast after devouring a taste of Bruce for himself.
"Hmm, I would love to but I'm afraid my culinary skills extend to making coffee and even that I burn most of the time,"
"How can you- Never mind, I'm sure you of all people found a way." He joked and told him to set the table instead.
"So where's your mother?" Bruce asked
"DC, she's the senator so she's away a lot. But I don't really mind. There's too much madness going on around here that I'm glad she isn't here to witness it," He set the plates down and joined Bruce at the counter.
"Madness huh? It doesn't seem too bad," Bruce commented. "Now if you're looking for crazy Arkham is the place to go. We Gothamites have a unique race of crazy people, they often joke that there must be something in the water."
Clark frowned. He had completely forgotten about his friends diagnosis "Bruce, what's wrong with you?" He looked up, arched an eyebrow and made a face that suggests 'Can't you tell'. "I won't look at you any differently if that's what you're afraid of. I thought after last night you might be more open with me." he put his hand of Bruce's "You know you can trust me."
"It's nothing important Clark. And I'm not just saying that so you'll drop it, I mean it. It doesn't matter, not really." And Clark dropped it.
It seems time and reality really does get away from you when you're in love Clark thought two days later. They had set into a routine at the farm, waking up together (Clark waking up then dragging Bruce out of bed) and Bruce helping with the chores on the farm for the morning before sightseeing around Smallville or lazing about watching TV together. Being with Bruce had made Clark forget about his revelation and about his responsibilities to watchtower but every time something like that almost breached their microcosm Bruce would pull him back into their haze.
That's why two days later when Clark answered the door he felt not only immensely guilty but also a little bit scared. Chloe stood outside and soon barged in with Alfred in tow who immediately started shouting for "Master Bruce, get your stuff together,"
"You haven't answered your phone, com. link. I thought you were in a ditch! It was only when Mr Pennyworth came around asking if I'd seen Bruce that I thought about where you might be. Honestly Clark you can't just go around and do what you like. Bruce has appointments and things he has to do, you can't just take him away without telling anyone. It's called kidnapping." Chloe ranted while Clark watched numbly as Bruce changed back into the clothes he had arrived in and followed Alfred out. The old Butler was towing him with one arm and Clark could see the look of resignation that painted his features.
Looks like he wasn't the only one using their short time at the farm as an escape. Clark remembered what Bruce had said about Alfred then and the look on his face when Clark was going to leave without him. He couldn't let him go back to the manor with a mad Butler.
"Sorry Chloe," He barged past her and sped in front of Alfred "I am so sorry Mr Pennyworth. I swear I never meant to take Bruce without your permission. I honestly thought you knew where we were."
"And why would that be. I don't recall having a psychic link with you," he sniped back. Bruce shot Clark a warning look.
"No but. See, erm, Bruce and I had been planning to come here for a while. I honestly thought he told you. I thought that it would be nice for us to have some time for ourselves. You know what new couples are like," he tried and hoped to God Chloe would stay in the house.
"Three weeks ago actually. I asked Bruce when we went to the movies that time a couple of weeks ago. That's why I haven't been around lately. I was trying to get this place set up for Bruce," His lies were coming cleaner now and he was receiving an appreciative glance from Bruce for his efforts.
Alfred turned towards Bruce "And why didn't you tell me you were coming here?"
"I honestly forgot. Clark stormed out that day and I thought that the whole thing was off. When it wasn't, it was too late. I'm sorry Alfred," Bruce had the best set of puppy dog eyes Clark had ever seen. They were effortless and earnest and if Clark didn't know how much of a manipulator Bruce was he would have believed him as well.
"It's alright. Don't do it again." Alfred patted Bruce's arm and let him make his own way to the waiting car. He nodded his goodbye to Clark before following Bruce.
Chloe came out of the house then and looked at Clarks face before drawing him into a hug. "You shouldn't worry too much Clark. He isn't your responsibility. Now, come on, let's get you suited up. Ollie said something big was going down tonight and he needed his 'Boy Scout' with him."
The 'something big' turned out to be another Lex Corp. project warehouse that they managed to secure and shut down successfully in three hours. Needless to say when everyone came back they were in a celebratory mood. Bart went to scour the watchtowers kitchen for party food and Cyborg was downloading his playlist into the monitors. Dinah popped the champagne and they raised a toast to saving the world.
On the outside everything was great. But Clark knew that it was all superficial, who's to say that their big success tonight wasn't pre-planned. The almighty meddlers could be allowing them to do this so they felt safe and secure in these lies that they had made them believe. So Clark while he enjoyed the merriment refused to take tonight as a success. If he was honest with himself he wished he was back at the farm cuddled with Bruce. Not that he did much cuddling, sure he draped himself over Clark but that was because he liked invading his personal space. The act of voluntarily cuddling had him sulking while Clark held him. He enjoyed it all the same though, it was nice to rattle Bruce sometimes.
"What's got you smiling like that then?" Oliver jeered coming over to him.
"Really? So it wasn't the thought of your billionaire boyfriend?" he asked coyly. At Clark's surprised look he explained that "Bruce told me when he came here a few days ago. He's a nice kid so you have my blessing,"
"Thanks," Clark sighed feeling even more put out.
"Is everything okay? You know you can talk to me," He had dropped the joking attitude and was looking at Clark seriously. Could Clark trust him with what he knew. Oliver was a teammate and a friend who had proven himself time and time again to be trustworthy. But what if that too was just another conjuring of their doing. If he was honest the only one he trusted was Bruce.
"Everything's fine. We had this romantic week planned that was cut short by Chloe and her cavalry is all. So I'm just a little..."
"Ah," Oliver nodded in total understanding. He knew what it was like to have plans ruined because of their lifestyle "Don't let it get to you Big Blue (1), just try and find another time to hang out."
He nodded that he would and excused himself from the celebrations. The farm seemed cold without anyone else in it and not for the first time he wished his dad was back, he really needed someone to talk to right now. But since he didn't Clark did the next best thing he tried to figure out himself something to do.
The facts were that somehow someone had taken their lives from them and only he and Bruce knew about it. According to him also they may still be around and watching them. But how. Monitors or were they just omniscient. Why them. Why were they monitoring and messing with their lives. Perhaps they were a villain who wanted revenge, but if so surely they would have tried to get rid of them by now. Why wasn't anyone else noticing that things weren't right. And then Clark thought. How did Bruce know in the first place that something wasn't right. He learnt it from Bruce but how did it all originate? Did they forget to programme him, was his illness keeping them from messing with his mind. Then Clark thought back to the other week when Bruce had started their relationship. Alfred had been mad at Bruce because his treatment wouldn't work, he had blamed Bruce for contaminating or messing with it. What if he had and did it to protect what he knew. It would be an explanation as to why he confided in Clark, he needed security that he wasn't the only one who saw the world for what it was.
He couldn't think like this, there was too many possibilities. He needed Bruce, he was the only one that knew what was going on. Clark would need to go to the manor and talk to him. No, take him somewhere that they could talk freely, maybe that little hillside again. And they could make a plan, somehow they would fight this and get everything back the way it should be. But he needed Bruce.
Clark couldn't go there right now though as it was nearing two in the morning. Alfred would deny entry on the basis that he might kidnap Bruce again and if he did sneak into the manor, one Bruce was asleep it was hard to wake him up again.
So Clark sat in his living room for what seemed like the longest eight hours of his life. When it finally struck ten Clark rushed out of his house and to the manor as fast as he could. He was frantic with nerves and desperation to see those piercing eyes again. Bypassing the gate in one long jump he knocked on the door and rang the bell wishing that Alfred would hurry up. When the door was finally open Clark demanded
"Where's Bruce. I need to see him,"
"I'm afraid he isn't here at the moment. If you could come back next week I'm sure he'll be glad to see you," Clark looked at the aged Butler. He seemed as stoic as normal in fact more relaxed than he'd seen him ever.
"Where is he?" Clark listened for his heartbeat just in case Alfred was lying and found that Bruce wasn't in the house.
Alfred sighed and invited Clark in, he followed hesitantly, the manor was always a place he didn't like to be. He led Clark into the kitchen and made him some tea before sitting opposite him. "I'm afraid Master Bruce won't be coming back for some time. Hopefully next week but we just don't know yet,"
"What's happened?" Dread filled Clark up. 'Please be okay, I only just got you back'.
"I'm afraid he had a breakdown on the way back to the manor. I tried to calm him down but he wouldn't listen. Doctor Crane says that his disease has consumed him, he's working tirelessly with Doctor Quinzel to restore him to some sort of sanity but they're hesitant to be hopeful." He placed his hand over Clarks in a comforting manner "I'm sorry but until further notice Master Bruce will be in Arkham Asylum." He hesitated before adding on that "They do have visiting hours though and Doctor Crane did mention it would be good for him if I or anyone else he knew would try and visit as much as we could. Try to ground him you see. I'm sure if you have something to tell him they will let you in."
Clark was in shock, a breakdown! In any case he nodded his thanks to Alfred and took a slow walk on the roads back to Gotham city. He needed time to think. He needed Bruce. Alfred said he could visit Arkham but would it be his Bruce that he was seeing. His hands ran through his hair. He needed to see him.
Arkham was old and foreboding. The architecture belonged in some kind of horror movie and he swore there were bats instead of birds nesting in that place. He hoped the inside was comfortable, the idea that Bruce was spending his time in a shivering cold damp cell made his blood run cold. Luckily he was right about the inside being updated and it, instead of being a rusty brown colour like the outside, was a gleaming white sterile paradise. Clark moved towards the desk where an unhappy receptionist asked him what he wanted.
When he asked to see Bruce Wayne she gave him a dirty look, asked him for some identification, his relationship to the patient and even who his doctor was. Even then he wasn't allowed to see Bruce but had to wait to be seen by Doctor Crane.
"Mister Kent is it?" A gangly man asked.
"Doctor Crane I presume," he shook the mans hand.
"Normally I wouldn't allow people to visit that aren't family for our high class patients but Bruce seems to talk about you non-stop so I see in the case of his recovery it can't hurt." He started leading him down a hallway that housed men behind glass walls. One of them had tally marks cut into his own skin and stared at Clark and the doctor hungrily as they passed.
"Thank you. He's okay in here isn't he?" He was a bit worried about some of the inmates. They went past some closed doors that looked like isolation chambers. Only they had names on SCARECROW was painted bluntly across one and HARLEY on the other while the rest of them remained blank. There was screaming and manic laughter coming from all of them.
"Of course. We are the top mental institution in the world you know. The Wayne heir couldn't be more safe." He assured.
They stopped when they reached a rec. room filled with patients. A red haired girl was watering a plant nearest the window while a manic gentleman was shouting abuse about how 'You can't just say the riddle and not answer it' to a balding blonde muttering about 'ravens and writing desks'.
The person Clark was looking for was seated playing solitaire with a pale man. Bruce kept laughing every now and then at something the man said with him joining in sometimes. As long as Clark lived he hoped to never hear that laugh again. It was like insanity personified and grated on his bones. Doctor Crane told him to stay where he was as he went to go fetch Bruce and bring them both to somewhere they could talk.
He seemed perfectly normal from where Clark was standing and he could even hear the coherent remarks he made to his companion. Alfred had said he had a breakdown but Bruce was looking much the same as Clark had left him. Doctor Crane had reached Bruce and crouched down to his level talking to him in hushed tone and when he pointed at Clark Bruce burst up and ran over to him.
Doctor Crane led them to a small room with two chairs telling them he would be outside if they needed anything. Clark only had ten minutes with him though because they were keeping to a schedule. As soon as the door closed Clark started asking.
"Why are you in here?"
"Alfred knows," Was his only answer
"Alfred knows what and why would he bring you here?"
"They know too," Bruce grasped Clarks hand and started playing with it and Clark would be lying if he said that he wasn't a bit glad Bruce was touching him.
"You're going to have to be more specific Bruce,"
"Jack says that Doctor Crane takes medicine in his office to keep him from going crazy. That's one of the theories we have anyway. See, he goes to his office for like twenty minutes every night before he continues his rounds and the guards go with him. Who knew that seven was a popular time for a coffee break." He had avoided the question and Clark started to second guess why he came here.
"Are you okay?" He tried instead and was met with Bruce's icy stare.
"Fine. Although I'm a bit worried about my bats, will you feed them for me?" He answered beseeching Clark to understand what he was telling him.
"The ones in your room?" Clark asked before noticing the precise tapping on his hand. Bruce was speaking to him in Morse code. N-D-E-R
"Yeah, they get lonely as well. That's why I carve new ones." T-H-E
"Listen Bruce, I was wondering when you got out of here why don't we go away for a while. A nice romantic retreat where we can spend the whole day together doing nothing," He propositioned.
"Sure, but we'll have to go check with Oliver first. He'll get angry that we left without telling him." Bruce agreed
"Whatever you want," He gave Bruce a kiss and told him he was leaving then checked out with Doctor Crane.
He watched with his heart heavy as guards led Bruce back to his cell with the rest of the patients since socialising time was over and made his way back into the sunlight. Clark hoped that the next time he went to Arkham he would be coming out with Bruce before he set off for the manor again.
He didn't impose himself on the grounds of the manor and stopped outside of the gate. He needed to check something. Using his X-Ray vision he saw that Alfred was cleaning one of the spare rooms, moving objects around and putting things like a stuffed elephant in a closet. Clark retreated back down the roads until he came to a side path that twisted around the side of the manor. It growing weeds and flowers so thick that if you weren't looking for it the road could be easily mistaken for another part of the foliage. Luckily Clark had sharp eyes.
When he got to the top a small hole was visible. Rocks were surrounding the opening and it was only big enough for a small child to fit through. It looked like someone had caved it in. Clark moved and removed the rocks until the opening was big enough to grant him access before using his vision to make sure he was going the right way. The cave was damp with water dripping randomly from the ceiling. There was a river somewhere and the sounds of bats could be heard without super hearing from the entrance of the cave.
When it finally opened up into the cavern Clark knew that something bad had happened down here. There was glass everywhere and pieces of furniture broken or lying haphazardly on the floor. The computer bank was so extravagant and ahead of its time that Chloe would have been jealous if not for the broken screen on one of them. Suits lay here and there a child's costume of red and green and a black cowl littered the glass. As did little black metallic boomerangs in the shape of a bat. Clark picked one up to put in his pocket, trust Bruce to be consistent.
When Bruce had spelled U-N-D-E-R T-H-E M-A-N-O-R in Morse code this wasn't what Clark was expecting to find and as soon as he figured out why Bruce wanted him here he would go back and break him out of that hell hole of an asylum.
Clark explored every inch of the place before coming back to the computer bank. He was going to press the on switch to see if it still worked but it took a while to find over the unlabelled keys. "Next time something like this happens I'm making him write me a manual." Clark muttered before striking lucky.
The computers still worked. Well the ones that weren't destroyed. A password page came up straight away "Come on," he groaned and thought of anything it could be. Then he remembered that Bruce's parents were dead, something like that stays with you, especially if you're a vigilante. He knew Oliver still used the day his parents died as a password for some of his private things. So, when did Bruce's pass away. He remembered reading about it when he was younger and typed in the date. Success! Which was short lived as to access the files he needed another password "We are going to have words about paranoia what I get you out," and tried the date again already knowing it wouldn't work. He tried Alfred, Bruce's parents names and even started naming different types of bats. Nothing.
Then something caught his eye across the room. Right at the back and carved into the rock were names, Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, Stephanie, Cassandra, Barbra. It was sad to think as some point Bruce had to carve their names into the wall to try and remember them. He would have tried all of them but 'Dick' worked first time and he was in.
(1) Clark isn't superman in Smallville until season 10 right at the end and this is set before that so although Oliver calls him 'boy scout' in Smallville they don't call him 'Big Blue Boy Scout' just yet.
I would love to hear your theories about what you think is going on. Please feel free to comment.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
This was meant to be a really long chapter but I had to split it because I've went too long without updating it. If I didn't post something it would have probably never been finished so enjoy part 1 of what should be a really long chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Clark looked at the screen in confusion. They were all files on the league, way more informative than the ones Chloe had on them at watchtower. But they weren't at the same time. Sure the information was extensive and for anyone to have that level of knowledge on one person never mind the league was disconcerting to Clark. But the information was wrong. He had never heard of a Diana being on their team, nor had he known about a Green Lantern. The information he did have on the league members were wrong also. He knew that Dinah wasn't married to Ollie and that Bart wasn't born in the 31st century. Were they? Clark started to doubt himself, after all he was scouring through the files of the only person in this universe that knew what was happening. But then he checked his own file. Nothing was different to what Clark knew about his life. He checked Oliver's and the information was the same. Clark had an uneasy feeling and checked the time stamps. They were recent, Bruce had been down here recently and changed the information on his and Ollie's files. He grew curious as to what had been there before but didn't know how to retrieve the previous files. He could always take it to Chloe.
Clark started to email himself the files before he remembered that it was the hard drive they were stored on not the files and looked below for any way to remove it from the damaged computer.
Footsteps sounded behind him as someone descended into the cave. He braced himself for a fight but when he turned all he saw was Alfred.
"I see you've found it then" he muttered casting a disdainful look over the wrecked cave.
"I'm sorry," Although what he was apologising for he was uncertain of. Nevertheless the old butler nodded his forgiveness and stopped his stroll through the carnage.
"I suppose Master Bruce told you to come down here," Clark nodded shifting his feet around guiltily "The ravings of a mad man,"he picked up and fiddled with a bat boomerang "You must understand that when I found out about this place I had to destroy it. He was killing himself every night by going out, deluding himself that what he was doing was right."
"You must have hated it when I turned up," he joked but was met with silence. When he glanced up he was met with a glare that chilled him. He doubted he would ever live to see another look so full of cold hate again in his life.
"You have no idea. But I let you stay with him because he wad so agreeable when he was allowed to see you. He would have went through with his treatment without quarrel so long as he was allowed to go to watchtower."
"Wait a minute, how many times did you let him go to Metropolis," he didn't need an answer the butler's tone of voice when he was speaking was more than enough "Have you known all this time where Bruce escaped to. Worse have you been using me as a negotiation tactic?" He felt like pulling his hair, the idea that Alfred had been allowing Bruce to go to watchtower all these months and then acting the innocent when he returned Bruce to his door. It was unfamiliar, wrong. What else was he using against Bruce.
"Does it really matter? He's away now and where he belongs. The doctors will take good care of him there so there's no need to worry. Now if you could just-" He gestured to the exit but made no advances towards him.
Clark stood still, rooted to the spot from the being that had taken over Bruce's guardian. He mad a decision and in a move faster than the human eye could follow, uprooted the hard drive from the computers regardless to how many wires and things he had broken and stored it outside for later collection. When he returned he followed at a normal pace the way the butler pointed.
Alfred made sure that Clark got out of the manor and escorted him to the front door. Bruce was right there was no way anyone was trustworthy, not until he had answers to what was going on.
"You know, you never did tell me why he has to go to Arkham a lot," Alfred frowned as if confused that it wasn't the first thing he had told him.
"Well, as you know Master Bruce's parents were killed when he was young. The therapy he goes through is both to help him function in everyday society and to stop him from relapsing into his fitful state of mind."
"So he goes there to get over what some maniac did to him. It seems kind of unfair." He muttered that last to himself. He never truly thought about the victims after he saved them. After all they would live another day. To think that for some they would have to accept some extreme help to function daily because of a incident out of their control was upsetting to him.
"You must understand Clark, Bruce did this to himself," He shot the butler a surprised look.
"How on earth is that Bruce's fault?"
"Well he was the one who shot them. Now if you'll excuse me I have some cleaning to do," And promptly shut Clark out of the manor.
Bruce couldn't- wouldn't have done something like that. Clark had seen murderers and when he looked at Bruce he knew that he wasn't among them. Was he? Regardless of that thought, Clark pushed it aside and made his way back to Metropolis.
Oliver was on a stakeout having caught wind of an impending shipment of arms that were to be auctioned to a local casino. He barely glanced up when Clark appeared beside him, only spared a 'hello' before returning his attention to the scene below him. Clark hated to pull Oliver away from doing some actual good in the world but right now his need was greater than Metropolis'.
"I need to break Bruce out of Arkham," He announced.
"Figured it was something like that," Oliver sighed and turned away from the empty street below him "So how do I fit into this. I am kind of busy you know," He gestured to the alley.
"I know but if we don't break him out then we won't be able to solve what he hell is going on," He argued frustrated.
"Wow, I didn't say I wouldn't," he calmed "but do we have to do it tonight? Can't it wait until tomorrow."
"I don't think so. I can't really explain it but I don't think the doctors are there to help their patients. When I went in it was more like they were keeping them complacent than actually trying to figure out what was wrong with them. I don't want to leave Bruce in there longer than he has to be."
Oliver stood and slung his bow across his chest "Fine," he sighed "Let's go break your boyfriend out of the madhouse." He held out his arms for Clark to pick him up.
"You know about that huh?" Clark asked embarrassed.
"Bruce told me when he came around," He answered and held on as Clark sped off.
Arkham was even more foreboding in the dark and Clark saw Oliver shiver a little when he glanced at it. He said nothing so Clark continued to speed his way inside and to the monitor room. If there was one thing he had learnt when becoming a superhero it was to erase his presence when breaking in or out of anywhere. So the most logical thing to do would be to erase the speeding red, blue, green blur from the security tapes and put the rest of them on a timed loop whilst they were there.
Strangely there was no one in the small room. Oliver joked about a coffee break but Clark felt uneasy, surely it couldn't be that easy to break in here. He went over to the wide bank of monitors all displaying guards and patients safely tucked away in their night time duties. But something caught his eye.
"Strange," He muttered.
"I don't remember passing that guard on the way here," he pointed to the man on the screen who stood rigid in his position.
"Well I can't vouch for him. I don't see as fast as you do," Oliver called.
Clark chose to ignore it, after all they were moving rather fast, surely even he could have missed a guard. He checked the patients again on the search for where they were holding Bruce and found him situated in the middle of a man tossing a coin repeatedly in the air and Jack the creepy comedian.
"Oh no," they both said "What?" They questioned each other. Clark gestured for Oliver to go first.
"Okay, don't be alarmed but I think someone may have broken in ahead of us. The security feeds are already looping which is good because it means we weren't detected but bad because well, someone broke in." He explained awkwardly.
"I know, the patients cells are on a loop to," Clark agreed.
"Maybe you should just use your hearing to find Bruce and we can get out of here," Oliver suggested quickly. The situation was obviously unnerving him. Clark nodded and concentrated. The hallways were quiet and so were the cells making his heart begin to beat faster. Where was he? He began to feel the stirrings of panic when he heard what he would late think of as the best sound in the world. Bruce's heartbeat was going strong and steady not far from where they were. He listened harder.
"We need to go."
"Something wrong?" Oliver's face grew even more distraught when Clark explained that the inmates had all gathered in the gardens, unsupervised and unrestrained. "Wonderful," he muttered and let Clark speed him off to the growing banging noises.
He set Oliver down when they got inside of the greenhouse. It seemed that like the inmates the plants had become unrestrained also and had grown to sizes that Clark didn't even know was possible. It was a sea of knotting snarling green that stretched up into the ceilings and burrowed itself into the floors. They set off carefully among them not wanting to tip off the inmates to their uninvited guests.
Oliver could no doubt here the noise now and cringed every time a bang was heard echoing through the halls. They turned left and had to skirt across the narrowest path at the edges to get to the other side. The plants had seen fit to do away with most of the floor leaving a gaping hole filled with vines and one very lovely lady that Clark remembered seeing earlier. She didn't bother them as they crossed only held her hands against her ears to block out the chants and screams from the room at the end. Occasionally she would stroke the plants as if their wellbeing would soothe the insanity she was hearing.
"Are you sure," Oliver asked clutching Clarks outstretched hand. He was afraid of going in and Clark couldn't blame him, there was something just not right about these people.
"We need him."
"But why? I mean sure you love him but why don't we just come back when they've all calmed down. Come on Clark, is he really that important."
"Oliver," Clark sighed, he really wasn't feeling like having this conversation right now. "Look for weeks now I've been noticing things. Strange things. People have been mentioning names and places, things that I feel I should know about but I don't. But when I ask them about it they brush it off. You've done it Ollie, and I honestly can't live like this anymore. I need answers and so far the only person to have them is Bruce. I don't know how or why but he knows what is going on, so we need to get him out of there and sort it out. Okay?" He panted, his hype being slowly sucked away with the growing look of confusion on Oliver's face. "You don't believe me," He sighed and went to push the door open.
"I do," he muttered. "Let's get Bruce out."
He moved in close behind Clark as he slowly pushed the door open. The screams were reaching a heightened level as the excitement of the inmates increased. The scene that both of them walked in on explained why there was little resistance to their attempted escape plan.
It seemed that there had been a rebellion in the time that Clark had been away. Somehow the patients, all of them had broken free from the medicated coma's and turned on the doctors. Dragging them to the gardens to tie them up along the walls. It looked like a makeshift judicial court. Someone had brought chairs in for a doctor to sit in that was directly next to the podium that Jack resided in. The rest of the inmates were sitting cross legged on the floor, some of them crouched or kneeling waiting for another chance to cheer at the doctors expense. The man with the coin who still flipped it as he walked egged on the inmates screaming his case against the doctors and calling on a bald man who would occasionally lash out unexpectedly on the nearest person to keep the patients away from the living doctors. As for the dead ones or condemned, the patients were more than happily to mutilate them.
"Oh God," he heard Oliver whimper behind him. It snapped his attention back to why they were there.
He made sure that Oliver was safely behind him and in the end told him to get on his back so he wouldn't lose him whilst he scoured the room for Bruce. The room was full of screaming and moving bodies that it was hard to distinguish one from the other in the crowd. But eventually Clark found him next to a man who was questioning him with riddles. Bruce seemed content in the little bubble him and the riddle man had made and was enjoying the banter that was flowing between them. It seemed the other felt the same as he didn't rise to the carnal mayhem that the others revelled in when another doctor was thrown into the crowd.
Clark sped over to him. "Are you okay?" He questioned grasping Bruce's face in his hands. He x-rayed him thoroughly and found nothing more than a little scrape on one of his knuckles to be wrong with him.
"Fine. I'm fine. Hi Ollie." Oliver waved back.
"Come on let's get you out of here," Bruce said goodbye to Edward (riddle man) and stood up. He made no move towards Clark though so he reached out to take him. But Bruce held his arm out.
A skinny man was seated in the chair, Doctor Crane. The attorney was spitting abuse at him, calling him an imposter. He went into stories about how he had been experimenting on his patients, keeping them subdued so that they wouldn't embrace what they truly were.
"Bruce," Clark called trying to get his attention.
Another man ascended the makeshift ruling space, unlike the others he had taken to wearing a mask. It was merely a potato sack over his head with the eyes cut out so he could see.
"This thing has been deceiving you," He went on and Clark vaguely recalled having heard that voice before. "Believing that it could take my identity and lock me away." ("Holy shit, is that-? Oliver asked) It thought it could instil fear in me so great that I wouldn't attempt to call it on its bluff. But I know fear and very soon so shall you," He would have physically attacked the doctor if it wasn't for the fact he had gotten into the bald man's range. He narrowly missed getting his guts spilled and retreated back towards the attorney.
"Bruce," Clark tried again more urgently and this time he responded. He wrapped his arms around Clarks neck and let him hoist him up before he sped them all out of there.
Clark brought them all back to the farm. Setting Oliver down at the counter in the kitchen and setting Bruce on the table in the middle so he could get a better look at him in the light. He and Oliver were both still in shock as to what they saw and he almost didn't believe it. But he tried to get it out of his head for the moment and focus on their little victory of having gotten Bruce out.
"Are you sure you're okay," he asked running his hands over anywhere he could.
Bruce only smirked in response and pulled Clark into a kiss "Fine, they wouldn't have hurt me anyway. It wasn't part of our deal."
"Deal?" Oliver asked drawing them out of the little space they had made.
"I organised the rebellion in exchange for them not harming anyone who came in with a giant 'S' on their chest," he lazily drew his hand up Clarks chest fingering the 'El' crest.
"So that was all your idea?" Oliver asked in shock.
"If it's any consolation they weren't exactly people."
Clark got that uneasy feeling again, could he trust Bruce. Something to that effect of what they just witnessed would have taken weeks of planning. Just how long had Bruce been waiting to be sent to Arkham?
"You're upset with me?" He asked confused.
"A little," Clark mumbled before shaking off his doubt. If anything he should be applauding what Bruce did. He proved to Clark that everything he was witnessing was wrong. There was another Jonathon Crane in the world, the real one, and an imposter had taken his place and shut him away. But for what end? To keep the inmates in place obviously. But what was so special about them. What was so special about Bruce? "We need to find someplace to talk," he reasoned.
"What's wrong with here?" Oliver asked confused.
Bruce was the one that answered. "Chloe has been here and so has Alfred. I hate to be the one to break this to you but I don't remember there ever being a Chloe Sullivan. There's a good chance she's one of them."
"But I've been sleeping with her!"
"Yeah," he sighed in pity.
Oliver grumbled for a bit before asking again "It still doesn't explain what's so wrong with the farmhouse."
"If they've been here then they've probably put some kind of monitoring equipment up. They usually put them place's I've been. I know there's some at the manor and definitely in the cave so those two places are out."
"What about watchtower?" Clark asked
"I've been there. Think of somewhere that they couldn't have put anything up even if they wanted to. Or at least somewhere I haven't been before so we'll have some privacy before they arrive."
There was a heavy silence whilst Oliver and Clark thought of places that could possibly house them for a while. "Jor-El," Clark announced after a while "There's no way anyone could put something up in there, believe me Chloe's tried."
"If they're monitoring us doesn't that mean they can just listen and follow. Making it a complete waste of time us even speaking where we're going to go," Oliver asked
"Yes in a way," Bruce answered "But you're forgetting that it's a fortress. I doubt even they have the capability to break into a Kryptonian safe house."
Whilst Bruce and Oliver negotiated the actual safety of Clarks' Kryptonian safe house he went to go retrieve the key from the barn. He had to admit it was nice that the two were getting along so well for some reason he felt like the easy banter was what they needed from each other and wondered if they were like this before. He returned to find that they had settled the argument in favour of Bruce's side and Clark told them to get on him so he could run them to the cave.
"Don't even think about asking for a threesome Ollie," Bruce called from his position at Clarks front "I don't like to share." Clark could actually feel the mocking look Oliver sent Bruce from Clarks back and ran off before he could retort to Bruce's jest.
For once the fortress didn't try and kill the humans that Clark had brought in with him and he wondered if that had anything to do with his kind request last time he was here. Oliver immediately hopped down complaining about how he should have brought a coat so he set him off in the direction of what Clark thought was a bedroom last time he was here. Clark was left with Bruce in his arms who was quickly squirming to get out of his grip. Something stopped him from letting Bruce down though. A funny feeling of foreboding. It wasn't negative exactly, just a feeling of trepidation.
"Clark?" Bruce called and gestured to the firm grip he had on him.
"Right, sorry," he set Bruce down and watched as he happily sped over to the crystals in the corner. "What are you doing?" He asked after a while of waiting for Oliver to return.
"Looking through your computer. I'm seeing if the information here is the same as I remember," Bruce explained and played with another crystal. Clark didn't see how he could understand what was being shown to him. It was all a mix of Kryptonian symbols and sparse words in English.
"You've been here before then?"
"Not exactly." Which indicated the end of that conversation. They were going to talk everything out when Oliver returned.
Clark decided to clear something up which had been nagging at him while they waited. "Did you really kill your parents?" He asked quietly. Bruce turned from where he was playing with the computer and sent a disbelieving look at Clark.
"What do you think,"
It wasn't a question but Clark felt like he needed to answer "I don't think you did, but it's hard to change your beliefs so suddenly you know. After all I thought this morning that you were insane. It's hard to go from thinking there's something wrong with a person to it being a whole conspiracy. I guess I just needed to hear you say it wasn't true- I don't know," he rambled.
"There's not exactly nothing wrong," he admitted after a pause "I am still kind of traumatised from what happened and I guess it has affected how I see things. But I didn't kill them, I couldn't. I never want to sully myself with something that 'he' did because then it would make me no different. You understand right?"
"I do," He answered honestly. Bruce came over and sat next to him on the crystal chair that had emerged when he went towards the computer.
"Good, I couldn't stand it if you were mad at me over something so stupid as a misunderstanding," and he pecked him on the lips.
Oliver came back in to a comfortable silence that had descended over them. "Right then, if you don't mind I would like some answers," he announced and made himself comfortable in between Clark and Bruce. They both turned expectantly to Bruce who paused before beginning.
"I don't know all of it. Most of it is just guess work. About a year ago I heard about a red, blue blur on the streets of Metropolis and somehow I just had this revelation. Everything came running back to me like seeing you," he pointed at Clark "was a trigger in my mind. I remembered about Watchtower and the league and my cave underneath the manor. Not everything from my past life but enough. But that's also when I noticed that Alfred wasn't acting like I remembered him too. He was cold and seemed to care more about watching me than serving me, that's when I began to suspect that Alfred wasn't Alfred. But that was also when he decided that I needed to have more trips to Arkham. I don't know if it was because he had something that could erase my memories or if they just wanted another pair of eyes on me.
"Either way I knew I needed to get down to the cave somehow. I knew that it would reaffirm my memories about what happened so I snuck down there while Alfred was making his nightly rounds in the east corridors. Everything was trashed and there was equipment everywhere but I didn't really care at the time because I was so happy that I wasn't crazy. The third time I went down there I discovered the monitors in the cave, I managed to avert them but I knew that whoever was watching knew I was down there so I had to take advantage of this. I went down on days where Alfred was sure not to find me and managed to do it successfully. While I was down I tried to fi the computer but only salvaged some of it. That didn't really bother me but what did was the carvings on the wall."
"Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, Stephanie, Cassandra and Barbra," Clark recalled.
"Right, my children's names. There was no way that Alfred had done it which left me. This wasn't the first time I had remembered them and that scared me so I began to bargain with Alfred that if he let me go see you then I would willingly go see Doctor Crane. It took a while to track you down but I did and you know what happened after that," he concluded
"So every time you saw Clark you remembered all of your past life?" Oliver asked uncertainly.
"No," Bruce countered "If I had then I would have been waiting a long time until I remembered it. I think I put the trigger in there the last time I remembered but I don't know why, that part of my life is gone. The thing is some of the other inmates knew about the other lives as well. I don't know how but they did, that was why it was so easy to convince them to take over Arkham."
"It still doesn't answer who's behind this," Clark commented thoughtfully.
"Or why they did this in the first place," Oliver continued.
"I would have thought that one was obvious. We were a league of hero's, practically Gods standing in the way of people who wanted to destroy or manipulate the planet to their own ends. The why doesn't really come into this."
"So what do we do now?" Oliver asked
"We need to interrogate one of them, find out who they're working for," Clark answered and remembered about the computer hard drive he had left outside of the cave, hopefully it was still there. "But before that I need to go and get something. While I'm gone you need to contact the rest of the league and get them to come here without Chloe. I can probably pick up Arthur and Victor so have Bart run Dinah here. Make sure they meet up at the same place and tell me about it," he was mostly asking Bruce to do this since he knew how to work the computers.
When he received a stern nod from both of them he headed off on foot back to Gotham. Thankfully the hard drive was where he had left it and Clark ran back to the fortress passing it off to Bruce with a little apology for its state before getting Arthur and Victors location from Oliver and heading back out again. They were confused as to why they had been called but came nonetheless to the fortress when Clark asked them to.
Bart and Dinah were there when he got back and Oliver led them all further into the crystal palace when he said there was a room further down that would be more comfortable for them to talk in. It looked like some kind of dining area and sure enough when Clark looked in what seemed like a fridge there was some food for everyone.
"Okay either Jor-El needs to eat or someone's been doing your shopping," Oliver quipped
"It's the Al's," Bruce explained having known more about the fortress than any of them presently "They knew that Clark liked to eat and went out to get some for him. The fortress is here to cater to your every whim, no doubt its setting up guest rooms as we speak."
"I don't think I'm very comfortable sleeping in a place where Clarks dead father can wake me up at any time," he bantered back.
"Don't worry he wont hurt us. He knows we're here to help. He should only attack of call on us if Clark so wishes," Bruce reassured.
Clark proceeded to make something for everyone while they were there and listened while Bruce and Oliver filled them in on what they knew. The reactions were priceless he had to admit. Especially Dinah's defiant "There is no way I'm married to you." Bart took it rather well as his past was already shady to him, the idea that someone had taken it away seemed to help him somewhat. Or it could have been the food that he kept shovelling into his mouth as soon as Clark set a plate down.
"So tomorrow we're hoping to sort everything out which is why we need you here. The league is always stronger together," Bruce ended.
Clark was proud to say that everyone was on board his idea when he had finished.
"We should probably get some rest," Oliver suggested looking at his watch. Sure enough it was three in the morning and everyone was yawning. "Come on. We can play who can find a bedroom first," he called sauntering out with the rest of the league hot on his trail. No one wanted to spend hours looking for a spare room in this place.
"Come on Clark I'm tired," Bruce yawned and tugged on his arm slumping against him as he followed Clark on the hunt for the bedrooms.
"Shouldn't you know where they are? After all you know more about this place than I do," he joked picking Bruce up bridal style. He received a subdued glare for that, too tired to make it full on evil.
Eventually his glare turned into a smirk and he started giving off directions telling Clark to hurry before Oliver finds it. The room Bruce led them too was by far the biggest one he had even seen (not including Bruce's mini palace in Wayne manor) the crystals having made up a bed that could fit seven grown men and piled with quilts and cushions stitched with the 'El' crest on.
"So what exactly are these Als?"
"Kind of like robots, they change the fortress to suit your needs so they made up rooms into bedrooms when you announced to us that you were inviting others to stay the night," He hopped down from Clarks arms and stripped off his bloody white uniform as he walked to the bed.
"So this is a guest room?"
"No, this is your room. Always has and will be here. They've been preparing it for a long time, most likely hoping you would stay here whilst you trained. I'm really surprised you haven't been here," he crawled onto the pile of quilts sending Clark a 'why are you over there' look before journeying on towards the pillows.
"Like I said, I don't know this place as well as you," he gladly joined Bruce in the bed taking all but his boxers off on the way.
"Don't worry, you will in time."
Clark fingered the hand stitched 'Els' and felt bad for a minute. His birth parents had thought of everything to make life on earth comfortable. He was sure that if he hadn't been found by the Kent's he would have revelled in the idea of living here. But then he would have been more reserved in joining a team made up of humans, powerful though they were. He never would have met Bruce, or would he."
"You know me so well," Clark muttered gently tracing Bruce's jaw. One pale eye opened wearily.
"Of course I do we're friends," he replied.
"Just friends?" Clark teased and ran his thumb over Bruce's lip. He didn't reply and Clark grew worried. "Bruce, what are we to each other?"
He pulled himself up onto his arm "You're probably the closest person to me in the world," he said seriously.
"But what are we to each other?"
Bruce seemed to grow frustrated with the question "You're Clark to me and I'm Bruce to you, do we really need to make something out of it?"
"What aren't you telling me?" Clark interrogated with a sinking feeling. Sure Bruce was more than happy to announce they were dating and to fool around with him on the farm but what about before. Clark had always assumed that they were together but what if they weren't.
"Then why aren't you answering the question. I would have thought after everything you would be truthful to me. Though I see now that everything at the farm, the past month was just a manipula-" he silenced him with a kiss.
"You're Clark, my Clark that's all that matters. Nothing before, nothing after we do this will change that. So does it really matter?" He searched Clarks eyes, the intensity of his gaze making Clark nothing but truthful.
"No," Bruce's lips were still soft under his as he pulled him back in for another kiss. He had hoped for it to lead further but Bruce soon broke their session with a yawn and soon Clark found that instead of sensuous hands running up his chest he had those hands manipulating him into a comfortable position for Bruce to lie on. "You're impossible," he muttered as Bruce stretched out over Clarks chest, he pressed a kiss to his temple nevertheless and ran his hands over his back while Bruce drifted off. Soon enough he found himself following him.
It was noon when the league assembled themselves back into the dining area and entertained themselves with watching Clark fend off Bruce from his food. Since he had entered the kitchen Bruce had burnt two lots of bacon and Clark still didn't understand how he set bread of all things on fire. The billionaire still insisted on helping though so Clark had to repeatedly pick him up and put him in the chair at the table.
"What's that delicious smell?" Bart asked zooming towards the cooking breakfast.
"Paws off, you'll get it soon." Clark swatted earning a snort from Bruce.
Once they had all eaten they went about preparing themselves for the impending interrogation. Bruce had reluctantly told them their target last night and asked if he could stay behind at the fortress while they secured the information. Oliver made sure that he had all of his arrows with him and promised Bruce that they would bring him some stuff from his cave if he wrote it down. He agreed and wrote down/ drew the items that he wanted.
"Are you sure you want to stay behind?" Clark asked before they set off.
"Yeah, I'm going to upload the files from the hard drive into the fortress computer. I think that it might help us discover more about what we're dealing with."
"Stay safe," he pecked him "And if Jor-El gives you any problems reboot him."
Clark had given the key to Bruce for safe keeping and took Victor and Arthur promising Oliver that he would come back for him before he set off with Bart and Dinah. He dropped them off then went back and retrieved a pouting vigilante.
"Wow, Bruce lives here?" Bart asked in awe.
"Yep, now come on I want to get this done," Clark waved them in through the gates and up the porch steps.
The door was open as soon as they got near and the elderly butler was standing there. "Master Clark, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I'm sorry," was the only thing Clark could think to say. He looked confused for a moment before Bart barrelled him in the chest and dragged him outside. He stole some rope from somewhere before tying up Alfred who was trying to get up.
"What is the meaning of this?" he exclaimed pulling at his bonds. Oliver drew an arrow.
"Now I don't want to hurt you so you're going to have to answer all our questions the first time. Okay?"
"Not okay. I let you into my home and this is how you repay me. I should have called the police the second you came to my door," he ranted but the innocent act wasn't going to work.
"Who are you working for?" And so the interrogation began.
Alfred was tough, he didn't reveal anything for half an hour just sat there and shouted abuse at them. But in the end he broke. He told it slyly and in a way that if Clark wasn't listening for it he wouldn't have understood. He told how he was looking after Bruce and to anyone listening it would sound like it was his job but Clark heard the implied meaning. He was there to spy and report back to someone. Keep Bruce out of trouble so he was to make sure he wouldn't go outside and interact with anything that could bring his memory back. He said about having to check in with the Doctor every now and then to see how Bruce's progress was and check how he interacted with the patients. He never intended for the patients to be as clever as Bruce and conceal the full extent of their knowledge or even for them to rebel against everything that they had put in place. Alfred was tough.
"He didn't give a name per se but he did mention an Alias," Clark explained when they got back to the fortress.
"Who?" Bruce asked combing through the recently salvaged files.
"Owlman. Ring any bells?"
It was going to be Riddler originally but the story progressed to this. Everything will be revealed in the next chapter.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
This story has been going on for more chapters than I originally assumed. I hope you enjoy it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Owlman." Bruce went typing on the fortress computer but not before Clark noticed the pause in his response. He was uncertain how to receive the information Bruce was about to share with him "He's my brother in another universe. According to this he was the one who orchestrated my parents demise but instead of both of them dying he accidently killed me instead of my father. He's a villain in other words."
"How much of a threat is he?" Clark asked ignoring the scoff he heard from Oliver. He may have been doubtful but Clark had bore witness to the destruction Bruce's mind was capable was and didn't think anyone from his family should be taken lightly.
"Some," Was all Bruce said before he powered down the computer and walking away.
Clark grabbed his arm "Are you okay?" there was something off.
"Never better." They stood off against each other until Bruce yanked his arm from Clark and continued his way through the crystals.
"What was that about?" Dinah inquired uncomfortably behind him.
"Did you two have a spat?" Bart joked
He ignored the concern from his friends and resolved to find out what was bugging Bruce later. For now he had to concern himself with discovering where this Owlman was keeping his base of operations.
"Right we're all going on reconnaissance. Oliver you're going to Watchtower, see if you can find anything on the databases there and try to sweet talk Chloe into helping you."
"But what if she's one of them?" He asked concerned.
"Then all the more reason to get her to help. If it looks like she's going to send a distress signal tie her up and interrogate her."
Oliver gave him a concerned look "This has really messed you up huh?" Clark didn't deem him with a nod.
Turning to Dinah he continued that "You need to go back to the manor, Bart will take you and come back here to help Victor get these computers back online. Follow Alfred, I don't care if he has told us everything we can't leave anything unturned." She nodded and behind him he saw Victor head to the crystals that had became a computer. "Arthur we need to go back to Arkham and interrogate some of the inmates."
He paled at that, he had heard from Oliver just what had transpired earlier in that place. "Do we need to?" He asked.
"Yes. Two of the inmates were impersonated by whatever those things are. Not to mention the crazy people seem to know more about what's going on in this world than the rest of us."
Arthur nodded resignedly. Clark told Bart to take Dinah to the manor and headed to the bedroom that he had shared with Bruce last night.
He could hear his heartbeat calmly beat in it's peaceful rhythm before he opened the door and smiled at seeing Bruce relaxing amongst the pillows adorning the bed.
"I know you're worried," Clark started and moved towards him. He climbed next to Bruce and watched as those blue eyes scanned him "You shouldn't be, we're going to find him and set things right. He isn't going to come near you."
Bruce's eyes continued searching him and Clark couldn't help the feeling that he wasn't saying the right thing. Nevertheless his face relaxed into a small smile and although his eyes weren't in it, Clark couldn't help but melt at the sight of Bruce happy. "I know you'll protect me," he murmured and drew Clark in for a quick kiss.
"I'm heading out," Clark told him pulling back "Do you want me to get you anything?"
Bruce shook his head and hesitated "Could you leave the key here? For the fortress," He clarified "I'd feel better if we had a way out instead of freezing in the artic if something happens."
"Nothing's going to happen. You said it yourself this place is like me, bulletproof," He tapped his chest good naturedly at the joke.
Bruce didn't laugh "I know but I just don't like leaving anything to chance. You don't have to but I just thought I would ask."
He didn't see how anything bad could happen to Bruce here and therefore was confused about his motives. But a little voice at the back of his head was whispering 'contingencies' and willing him to trust Bruce. It seemed that past him didn't see Bruce doubting the fortresses security as something unsettling in fact it seemed almost normal to hand over the key to him.
They left soon afterwards with Clark carrying Arthur and Oliver over the Artic and back to their former base. He dropped Oliver off at the front door leaving him to sweet talk his way back into Chloe's good books before hurrying over to Gotham.
Arkham in daylight was something to behold. Clark knew that and couldn't help inwardly chuckling at the scared look that adorned Arthur's face when he gazed at it. He wondered how he would have handled seeing it at night.
The hallways were a mess. It seemed that the inmates weren't satisfied with piling the bodies up and instead hung them like trophies on walls and ceilings, sometimes in creative poses or surrounded by collages that the inmates had drawn.
"Who are we looking for?" Arthur peered into the cells head first before he moved past them.
"A chipper blonde woman or a man with a sack over his head," Clark answered listening for any sound of them.
"Helpful," Arthur muttered toeing a dead guard out of the way to the next room.
"Believe me you'll know them when you see them."
They journeyed further into the asylum, passing glass walls that were used for observations and laboratories where Clark shuddered to think of the experiments that were performed. For a place that was meant to help the mentally ill Arkham looked more like a torture chamber.
"Are they even still here?" Arthur asked.
Clark listened and heard the blonde giggle "Yeah. But I can't find them. There must be lead lined in the walls. We had this problem when I came for Bruce."
So they journeyed further into the pit of Arkham playing Marco polo with the blonde's voice that laughed and shrieked with delight every now and then. It took some time but Clark eventually pin pointed her down to the lower levels near the sewers. The way in was through a cavern that looked like it could collapse at any moment. They heard laughter from farther off behind the door that led to the sewers but there was a much nearer one that caught their attention to.
He was perched on top of one broken grate that leaned slightly to one side, threatening to collapse underneath him at any moment. But he wasn't perturbed and continued to paint question marks on the walls using the tilt to reach further up the wall. All the while he was muttering and laughing haughtily to himself.
They tried to walk quietly behind him but the blood-stained man heard them somehow and turned excitedly towards them. His arms were raised and face twisted in a snarl ready to defend himself. Clark began to worry, the inmates were left to fend for themselves but who was to say that they were safe from each other.
When he glanced at who was approaching him he relaxed and even pulled a sneer in their direction.
"Well, well if it isn't the heroic Superman. If you've come to rescue us I'm afraid you're far to late. Insanity has a way of spreading quicker than the average disease," And he laughed for good measure.
"'Superman?' You know who I am?" Clark asked excited.
"Know you? Everyone knows you. Who doesn't know the alien that saves kitties from trees. Though I must say I think I preferred your other outfit. Steampunk doesn't fit you," and he turned back to painting on the walls.
Clark and Arthur shared a satisfied glance. This man had confirmed what they suspected about the inmates. They knew about their past lives somehow, and because of that Owlman must have had them locked away in the asylum to keep them from talking.
Clark wondered if they should continue talking to this man instead of finding the blonde. He seemed like a safer option than the manic girl who was screaming and slashing with a knife at the guards throats last he saw her.
Clark was about to breach the subject of why they were hear when he heard the man break into a riddle "Poor people have it, rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?"
"What?" Arthur said pulling a confused face.
"Wrong!" The man shouted gleefully and turned to face them "The answer is nothing. Nothing." and laughed manically. He launched into more, every sentence punctuated with questions or answers to those questions. Clark could see his self satisfaction grow with every question they didn't answer and slowly took Arthur's arm to lead him to the sewer door. The riddle man hardly noticed they were gone and resumed his painting once again.
"That was spooky," Arthur muttered as soon as they were through the door.
"I don't understand. I thought that..." He trailed off not knowing how to explain himself.
Arthur seemed to understand though and instead of commenting on it just motioned for them to start walking down the side platform.
The smell was horrific and he saw Arthur physically sicken at the sight of so many needles and other parts (some of it the guards) littering the waters. They could hear the blonde's giggles echoing along the walls now and the nearer they got the more manic they sounded.
At one point they had to stop as the blood curdling laugh of Bruce's friend perfumed the air around them. "Who was that?" Arthur whispered.
"Someone you don't want to meet. Stay here I'm going on ahead. I'll shout if I need you," he seemed both relieved at being left and worried for Clark as he merged further into the darkness.
Clark walked on towards the scene that was waiting for him and wasn't disappointed with the level of crazy that was there. The love sick couple were curled up on a ledge that oversaw the waters below. They were throwing parts of human flesh into the water, watching as a clearly disturbed man arched up out of the water to snatch if with his mouth and submerge back into the water. He was almost sick with the thought that he might be eating it when Clark saw the pile of carcass to his left where sure enough the man flung the recently discarded flesh onto it. He turned angrily back to the couple shouting that if they didn't stop what they were doing he was going to hunt them down and crush their skulls.
It seemed it was the threats that were making them laugh as soon enough they let another one loose and then an arm back into the water. Clark retched on the side-lines before steeling himself and floating up towards them.
"I need to speak with you," he announced.
They paused in their merriment and looked at him before bursting back into laughter making impressions of him as they chortled.
"I'm being serious. We need to talk. Everyone here knows something about what's going on and I want to know what." Clark continued despite their ignorance.
"Well isn't this a twist my dear," Jack hiccupped pulling the blonde close "The mighty man of steel needing our help."
"Definitely something Mister J," she cooed and snuggled into him.
"What do you know about Owlman?" Clark interrogated.
"Who?" and in his defence he really did look confused as to who this person was.
"Owlman. I know he's behind what's going on with our memories and I also know that you remember everything so you will tell me what you know."
They took some time to consider what he said before Jack got a contemplative look on his face "Now I don't know much about an Owl but I do know a Bat. Why don't you ask him all these questions and leave me and Harley in peace."
"Bat?" Then Clark remembered the cave and the cowl he found, the files on the computer and the boomerangs. "Why do you remember everything?" he asked changing his path of questioning.
"Urgh," Harley moaned "What's with all the questions. Did ya ever stop to think that maybe we're in the dark as much as you. All we know is some lunatic comes in one day saying that we're getting some changes, straps us up to this machine and here we are. 'Course they locked me in a dark room so they could impersonate me. Which is really just rude," She childishly crossed her arms and pouted.
"There, there Harl. Everything's better now," Jack consoled and patted her head condescendingly.
"Yeah, 'cause now we're running this joint!" She agreed and they both shared a manic laugh.
Clark's mind was reeling. They strapped them up to machines and they woke up here. Something was definitely amiss. He turned back to them.
"Are you certain this is all you know. If you're lying to me..." He warned which earned him a grin from both.
"Listen pal, that's all we know. Like Mister J said if you want answers you're better off going to the bat. He always knows what's going on," She drawled and promptly dismissed him with a wave of her hand.
"But he says that he doesn't remember," Clark blurted out. Harley didn't seem that concerned and he watched as a snarl graced her features, only stopping from pouncing on him because Jack caught her by her hair and slammed her into the wall. She seemed a bit daze but took the warning for what it was.
Jack himself was grinning even more and looked to be on the verge of laughing as he turned to speak with Clark again "Then he's obviously lying to you. He always was tricky, you have to be careful," and spoke nothing more.
Clark left unsatisfied. All he had was an idea of what was going on and a cryptic riddle about Bruce's reliability. He was almost tempted to go speak to the riddle man and see what he had to say about Jack's response but instead went to go get Arthur and left the Asylum.
As soon as they were out Arthur seemed to colour more. That place had a way of draining the soul.
Clark took them back to the fortress.
Victor and Bart hadn't got the computer running when they returned so Clark sent a quick text to Oliver before searching for Bruce. He hoped that Bruce would be in a better mood than when he left him.
But he couldn't find him. Oliver checked in, it seemed that Chloe had been delighted to help and was hacking into government websites as they spoke. He also commented on how not weird Chloe was.
Clark was hopeful that she wasn't one of them but texted back for Oliver to be careful as he came back into the main room. "Have you seen Bruce?" He asked them
Bart took off quickly, no doubt doing a full tour of the place. "Not since he stormed off, why?" Victor replied.
"He's not here," Bart commented confused. "I checked everywhere twice in case I missed him but he isn't here."
Clark listened for Bruce's heart beat but couldn't hear it within the fortress. He told Victor to abandon the computer and picked him up before grabbing Arthur again. Hoping Bart would follow him he had the rest of the league at Watchtower within minutes.
Oliver and Chloe were crowded around the consoles when they arrived and looked rather haggard. It seemed that they couldn't find anything on Owlman on any of the databases they searched. Chloe mentioned that it was like he didn't exist in this universe, there was no passing CCTV footage, files or anything that could document another Wayne.
Eventually Clark asked if they had heard from Bruce.
"No, why? I thought he was sulking in the fortress," Oliver asked and Clark filled him in on Bruce's disappearing act.
"But how? I mean it's not like you have another key lying around anywhere."
As soon as Oliver mentioned it Clark remembered Bruce asking for the fortress key before he left. It looked like he found out why he was so eager to have it. He confessed to the others what he had done and watched as not even one of them turned in surprise to him.
"He wasn't exactly trustworthy," Bart spoke up and moved on the conversation to what they had found out.
Clark tuned them out. Just yesterday they were acting like a team, a full team and it had seemed normal for them to be integrating with Bruce. But now they had turned on him like nothing had happened. Clark refused to believe that Bruce had just left them, why would he? Alfred was one of them and he said it himself that the fortress was the only safe place for them to be. He had to be in trouble, Clark summarised, it was the only explanation.
"I think that Owlman might have Bruce," He told the others.
They turned looks of pity onto him. "Clark, we all know you liked him but there is no way that he could have been taken out of the fortress without one of us knowing. Bart and Victor were there the whole time," Oliver reasoned.
"I'm sorry Clark but he walked out of there on his own," Victor agreed.
"Some people just can't hack our lifestyle," Arthur put in "You said it yourself, he couldn't stand to be in the manor without you around. He probably panicked when he thought of going up against more beings like Alfred."
"Look I know I'm right. There's no way he would just leave! Not without telling me or having a good reason to at least."
They turned back to their own meeting with a last sad glance at Clark, no doubt wondering how they were going to snap him out of his emotional state before they went up against the bad guys.
But Clark didn't stick around to hear their arguments and left. He went back to the manor, waving a hello to Canary as he passed and settled himself onto Bruce's bed. Alfred was downstairs tinkering away in the kitchen and Clark wondered why he was still pretending to be a butler when his cover was blown. He knew that he had been putting it off since discovering Bruce was gone but contented himself to be surrounded by all things Bruce for the time being.
He was probably in trouble. Owlman could have gotten him as soon as he stepped into the cave and was keeping him hostage. But he could also be doing something else, hiding, like Arthur and the others thought. Or recovering information for them. Bruce had a mind like no one he had ever met, he could have remembered something and went to follow up on a lead. He knew that Bruce didn't trust Victor and Bart like he did Clark and probably didn't tell them until he had retrieved the information.
With that thought Clark relaxed further into Bruce's pillows and concentrated on the sounds of the world. Shrieks from Arkham sounded first followed by cries of help in distant cities. He concentrated further, listening for that voice he would know anywhere. No. Not him. There!
Clark was there in an instant.
The sewer systems in Gotham were dark and stank like most of city. The water was foul and tried to creep into Clarks' clothes whenever he stepped too near the edge of the small pathway. In comparison he had to admit that Arkham was marginally cleaner compared to this.
Bruce was in a little room off to the side of the left wall. He was alone and unbound, just sitting on the floor with his back to the wall. There were no lights on and Clark began to grow suspicious. He looked around for anything to hide under but only came across the dank water and darkened tunnels up ahead. But above him there were pipes that looked like they could accommodate his weight. He easily jumped up onto one of them and made himself comfortable in the darkness of the sewer. Using his x-ray vision he waited to see why Bruce was here.
He didn't have to wait long. Twenty minutes after he got himself situated, a man was heard walking down the pathway Clark had. Clark didn't move in fear that his silhouette would draw attention and reveal his presence. So he waited for the man to come into his line of vision.
He had no disguise or armour. No weapons or objects that could be used to harm. But Clark didn't trust him on sight. This was Owlman, the one behind everything going on, who had caused Bruce such heart ache and made everyone forget about their lives. Clark found himself revolted from how much he looked like Bruce as he walked into the small room his brother was in.
They didn't embrace which made Clark a bit happier, if only because it meant that Bruce wasn't there willingly. He did sit next to him though and Clark listened to what was being said.
"It was for your own good and you know it Bruce."
"No, it was a way for you to keep an eye on me. I can't believe you would have spies trained on me. Clark wouldn't hurt me and you know it. Besides it's not like you're much company, you're always out and when you're home you don't tell me anything."
"That's because I don't want you getting hurt. I have things planned for us that I don't need you to know just yet. And as for that alien, you don't know what he's capable of, you may think you know but you don't. They're just memories and even they can be misleading. Look, what I did to you was to keep you safe"
"By taking me to Arkham? How is that safe when you brought them with you!"
"You could have gotten hurt," Thomas had a firm grasp on Bruce's arms and went to kneel in front of him "I, out of everyone, knows how dangerous a man with that amount of power can be. I would rather put you in with a bunch of maniacs than someone like him."
"Clark isn't him, I would have thought you knew that with all your failed attempts in the past."
"Things are different here and they will be again once everything is finished. What you knew is gone, he's not that man anymore and could easily snap. I don't want you to face that Bruce so just stay where I put you and keep out of everything okay? I promise, everything will be fine."
Thomas pulled Bruce into a hug that he didn't return before leaving through the way he came in. Bruce stayed there for ten minutes after he was gone before getting up and making his way out of the room.
"I know you're there," he muttered when he passed Clark.
Clark jumped from his hiding spot not knowing whether to be furious or concerned for Bruce, he settled for "What the hell are you thinking. No, just what in general?"
Bruce continued walking on so Clark followed. He didn't talk to Clark which only made the confusion grow until he grabbed Bruce and hauled him back to the artic. Dropping Bruce onto their bed he started pacing, trying to figure out the mess in his head. Bruce sat himself up on the pillows and pulled his knees to his chest. He looked the very essence of guilty to Clark.
"You're mad," he muttered.
"Of course I am," Clark snapped "You're meeting with the enemy, have been for all this time. Bruce you are the enemy!"
"No I'm not," He sighed.
"Really? Then explain what I just saw," Clark begged.
Clark pulled on his hair before dropping down next to Bruce. "Why did you tell me?" Clark asked. At Bruce's confused look he elaborated "About everything. The things that were wrong in this world. Why did you tell me if you were working with the man who did this to us?"
Bruce shrugged his shoulders and pouted like a little child "I guess I missed you. You weren't really paying attention to me until I told you what was going on."
"So all of this was a way to get my attention? You are really messed up!" Clark pulled away from the bed and made his way through the fortress. One thing was for certain, he was keeping Bruce here until everything was sorted.
He pulled out his cell and told everyone to come to the fortress. After he grilled Bruce a little more he told Oliver to bring Chloe with him. He took the key from Bruce and put it back on the farm telling the others where to get it before returning back to look after his prisoner. He hated to admit that he had made Bruce into one but that's what he was. He had forced Clark into making him his prisoner.
"So you were working with Owlman this whole time," Oliver drawled coming into the bedroom. The others had entered with him and he heard Bart mutter how he should have called dibs on this room first.
"Leave it Ollie," Clark snapped "We have more important things to do than remind Bruce that he's a traitor."
"Like what? Find his brother? The guy's not here Clark we would have found him by now. And if you weren't so heartbroken over that kid then you could have grabbed him and this would all be over. Face it Clark you had the opportunity to do something but you didn't! And I don't know about the rest of you but it seems like this is exactly what he wanted you to do!" He pointed at Bruce "He's been manipulating you this whole time so that the one chance we get, we lose because the only person who was there was too betrayed to do something!"
"Ollie calm down," Chloe called sending her own cold look to Bruce. He hadn't moved from when Clark had brought him in. "He's right Clark, we can't find him. How are we meant to do something if no one's seen or heard of him?"
"Because we have him," Clark pointed at Bruce "We can use him as bait or something to get Owlman into the open and then we'll grab him." Oliver scoffed "We will and then this will all be over with."
They moved the meeting to a different part of the fortress after that to make plans before they went back and got Bruce. Clark put him up at the farm whilst the others got the preparations ready for their trap. He heard Chloe calling Dinah from outside to fill her in before he went to go join Bruce on the sofa.
"So how much do you really remember about our past lives," He asked remembering the hints that Jack had given him.
"All of it," Bruce confessed.
"So was any of the last few weeks the truth? Are we even team mates in this other life? Or are you one of the villains, that would make more sense since you're so good at manipulation."
"I do care about you Clark." Bruce grazed his hand over Clark's "The life we had that I told you about was true. I couldn't lie to you about that."
Clark turned to look at him. Despite what he knew about Bruce, there was still the ever present feeling at the back of his mind that he should trust what Bruce was saying. That Bruce wouldn't betray him like he thought he had. But the evidence against him was too strong to listen to that little voice and Clark soon turned from Bruce's hurt filled blues to the coffee table.
"I wish I could believe you," Clark sighed.
After that the only warning he had was Bart's red blur before Bruce keeled over onto Clark's shoulder. He picked him up and waited a couple of seconds before speeding to Wayne Manor. He banged on the door and shouted for Alfred, listening as the butler made his way to the door.
"He's been poisoned, I don't know what with but one minute he was fine and the next he just fell. I know that you can help him Alfred please!" Clark begged hoping that the butler would take the bait.
"And why hasn't your team been alerted?" He snapped casting a disdainful look at his charge before turning his eyes back on Clark.
"They're too far away. I don't think he has that long and I don't know poisons' that well," come on Alfred.
He was beginning to think that the butler wouldn't let him into the manor but then he seemed to straighten like a command was given and took Bruce from Clark's arms. He followed them inside to where Alfred let them into the room Clark had glanced his first day inside the manor and placed Bruce onto one of the doctor's beds. He took his pulse before leaving the room.
Clark noticed how much paler Bruce was getting and actually hoped the butler could help Bruce before he turned his attention to the rest of the manor. Thomas must have a way of contacting Bruce due to their close relationship and Chloe had guessed that he must have some kind of room in the manor where he went in case guests knocked. The problem was finding it.
They had come up with a plan that involved poisoning Bruce that according to Chloe would have one of two consequences. Either Thomas, fearing for his brother's life, would reveal himself or Clark would be able to locate the room himself once he was inside the manor. They had to make it believable and actually poison Bruce though for the situation to be dire enough.
Looking at Bruce' slowly paling features' he admitted that they had done at least one thing right. Alfred hurried back in with a needle in one hand and promptly drew Bruce's blood before making an attempt to shoo Clark off so he could save Bruce's life.
Clark refused to budge making a scene about how much Bruce meant to him which he supposed was partly true- or had been. Eventually the butler grew tired of trying to kick him out and went back out of the room with no fuss about Clark being there.
He searched the house again using his x-ray vision but saw nothing. Every room in the manor was clean of Thomas Wayne, he didn't know where he could be. Not to mention they were running out of time. He could hear Alfred insert the needle into a machine further into the house and looked into the room wondering how many times he had to use a machine like it before they got one of their own.
Clark listened as hard as he could for an extra heartbeat or voice in the manor but only heard Alfred's, the bats in the cave and Bruce's slowly weakening heart. He couldn't think of anything else that he could try and not long after he had searched again with his vision did Alfred come back in with another needle. His time was up.
"Might I suggest we leave Master Bruce here for the night rather than move him. If he takes a wrong turn in the night there'll be hell to pay if I'm not there," he spoke levelling a glare at Clark.
"Of course," Clark conceded "Can I stay with him? I promise I won't do anything to hurt him, just watch over him."
Alfred nodded having already failed to kick him out the manor and led him up to Bruce's room. Alfred set Bruce down before asking politely if Clark would like anything to eat or drink. Not wanting to be poisoned himself, he declined and watched as the butler bade him good night before collapsing on the opposite side of Bruce.
He was ultimately trapped in the manor. If Thomas was watching he would need to stay in character or risk their plan being discovered. He turned on his side and watched as Bruce's breathing evened out and some colour come back into his cheeks.
How could Bruce have done it to them? He seemed so desperate for his old life back but all along he was just there because he wanted Clark to spend some time with him. 'It doesn't make sense' a little voice sounded in his head and Clark agreed with it. Maybe there was a bigger mystery happening, but Clark couldn't see where he would even start to form a hypothesis never mind a full conspiracy.
He played with Bruce's hair watching as it changed colours in different lights. He supposed being trapped inside this house with a brother that had destroyed your old life and trapped you with him in a new one would make anyone go to extreme lengths for a bit of normalcy. It didn't exactly excuse Bruce from what he did but Clark guessed that he could see his point of view. It wasn't like he regretted anything that had happened over the last couple of months either.
Meeting with Bruce in the watchtower had been amusing and he supposed that it would have hurt when, instead of Clark instantly wanting to spend time with him, he dragged him home instead. He must have been looking forward to meeting Clark for weeks if he managed to find a weak spot in Thomas' security- he struck Clark as a cautious man.
When Clark thought about it Bruce hadn't really done anything against the league. Sure he had met with Thomas in the sewers but he hadn't ordered an attack or reported any weak spots he found in the fortress. It seemed like he was just asking permission to spend more time with Clark. He ran his fingers over Bruce's cheek feeling how soft it was.
Clark longed for them to be back on the farm, when things were simpler. He could have stayed in bed with Bruce and just revel in him. There was no nagging suspicions or major threats to take out. All he really knew back then was that there was something off.
"I really do care for you," He heard Bruce say against his fingers and peered over to see sleepy blue eyes open. They didn't look accusingly at him or even mad. Just resigned and happy to see him.
"How are you feeling?" Clark asked quietly withdrawing his fingers. Bruce latched onto them and pulled so Clark was leaning over him.
"Awful, I hope you got those bad guys," Bruce hooked his arms around Clark's neck. He realised then that Bruce wasn't giving away what had really poisoned him. He was never going to understand him.
"Yeah, I got them."
Bruce was carding his hands through Clarks hair and he instinctively leaned into it "I'm glad you stayed. I hope Alfred didn't give you too much trouble."
"Nah," Clark grinned wondering where Bruce was heading with this. If he was just biding his time before he revealed Clark to Thomas.
"Good," Bruce pulled him down and Clark went willingly.
Feeling those soft lips against his and how they opened up as he came closer. There was still that thought of betrayal at the back of his mind but Clark knew that would have to wait until he was done kissing Bruce. He doubted that he would ever be able to resist him no matter what situation they were in. From the very first time it had happened he had lost himself to Bruce and there was no coming back from it.
They pulled apart, Clark reluctantly, and regarded one another before Bruce asked Clark to help him sit up.
"Can you get me a drink please," He croaked coughing into his hands and Clark went off to the kitchens to fetch him one.
When he came back up there was a figure on the bed where Clark had been before. It was Thomas, he was checking Bruce's temperature and off to the side Clark could see that he had beaten him in his quest to get Bruce a drink.
The opportunity was upon him and Clark took it with only a seconds hesitation. Thomas had no sooner started to bring his hand off Bruce's forehead when Clark had him pinned down onto the bed. He shouted into his comm. for the others in the league to come and get them, barely hearing Bruce's pleas in the background to let Thomas go.
He felt pain lace up his side and looked down to see a green shard of rock, sharpened into a dagger digging into his stomach. The world was tilting up as he felt his powers drain from him. He felt Bruce trying to turn him over but the poison had weakened him considerably so Clark soon saw his vision fading around him.
He woke up tied to a chair and one glance around showed that the rest of the league was there with him. His wound had healed. But they looked like they had went two rounds with Doomsday and lost. He tried to get out of the chains but couldn't. There were shards of blue sticking into his skin and Clark tried but couldn't bring his heat vision to the surface. Blue Kryptonite then.
Bart was trying to knock the chair sideways using his speed but it seemed that they had thought of that too and had it welded to the ground. Arthur wasn't looking so good and Clark hoped they weren't too far from any water.
From looking around himself Clark could see bat shaped boomerangs and the carving of names not far off. They were in Bruce's cave under the manor. He searched all around for Bruce but it seemed that the young billionaire was most likely with his brother. And where they were Clark couldn't tell.
"So, we're all trapped down here," Bart commented giving up on his escape attempt.
"So this is Bruce's little cave. Not bad," Oliver said looking around.
"Don't suppose you could get us out of here Clark," Chloe asked
"Sorry," He motioned to the shards of blue. They all let out a groan at the hopelessness of their situation. "Wait a minute, how did you all get captured? There was only one of him."
"Actually it seems that he has friends," Victor explained "This big guy who looked spookily like you came into the hallway as we entered and flung us around like dolls. We woke up here not long after."
"Oh," That would explain why Thomas was so reluctant to have Bruce around Clark if he had his own psycho super man to look after.
"Anyone up for a game of eye spy?" Oliver joked but quickly became serious when glares were sent his way.
They sat in silence for a while, each of them trying to come up with an escape route but none were found. Clark couldn't get his hands free without his strength and didn't have his strength because of a stupid rock.
They were left down there long enough for Dinah to join Bart in asking God for food. By what seemed like ten hours they heard someone in the cave. The footsteps were heavy and when he came into their line of sight Clark could see that Victor wasn't wrong. He looked uncannily like Clark but it was all appearances. He could tell from his skin and hair that he was native to earth and that he wasn't actually Clark. Just a man that had chosen to style himself like him. He wore a blue spandex suit with a red crest and yellow arrow inside of it. His face was cruel and Clark immediately disliked this imposter.
He took one look around the circle before his eyes landed on Clark. He made his way over and checked the chains were securely around his wrists and ankles before striking him. It was unexpected and hurt. He could feel his jaw breaking with one powerful swipe of this mans' hand. The others came fast and hard leaving him regretful of every villain he had ever hit.
"Ultraman!" a voice warned. Clark remembered that voice being familiar and tried to open one of his eyes.
"They're prisoners," Ultraman argued.
"They're needed. Now off you go," the voice dismissed.
"You realise that I could incinerate you where you stand. It wouldn't even take much effort," He boasted.
"Go ahead. Then we'll see where that leaves you," The voice mocked.
He heard a scoff before footsteps sounded leaving the cave. There were hands on his wrists and ankles pulling the blue crystals out and soon Clark could see again as the pain faded.
Thomas stood before him with Bruce not far behind, "Make sure he doesn't leave the cave," He ordered to Bruce.
"Clark please," Bruce begged as Clark began to get up. He sat down again and was only slightly comforted by Bruce climbing into his lap even if he was only doing it so he wouldn't get up again.
Thomas busied himself with kicking shards of glass out of the way as he went towards the computer banks. Clark knew that they were broken since he stole the hard drive but watched as he pressed a button underneath the table the computers were situated on. A door, hidden behind the shattered glass case, opened and he entered it without a glance backwards.
Clark tensed in shock, all this time Thomas was in the cave. He was probably watching from that room as Clark invaded the cave, as he stole the hard drive. He probably alerted Alfred to his presence. He wondered why the butler came down to the cave when it was obvious no one had been in for months. Clark thought back further to when Bruce was in Arkham. Was he giving him a hint all this time where to go. Maybe he never was on Thomas' side.
He felt a hand on his face "How long does it take for bones to heal?" Bruce asked gazing at Clarks cheek.
It still felt a bit numb so he guessed there was still some damage to his features "I don't know, I've never really been up against someone like that before. It'll go though," he kissed Bruce's head and rested his own on top of it, suddenly weary from all the revelations of the day, he hadn't the heart to stay mad at Bruce on top of it all.
He was pretty sure that he dozed off for a while as he waited for Thomas to come back out of his room. He couldn't try and escape with his friends if that being in the manor was even half as strong as Clark. Also they were so close to rectifying everything that he didn't want to leave. Defeat wasn't an option anymore.
He jerked up into a sitting position tightening his hold on Bruce's waist as he hear Alfred come into the cave. He disappeared like Thomas before coming back out and unlocking the rest of the league. He warned them not to run or fight as Ultraman and Superwoman would soon put a stop to them before he led them all upstairs to the dining area. A feast had been laid out for the league.
Oliver and Victor were the only ones that refrained from digging in straight away on the basis that it could be poisoned. Clark reasoned with them that if it was poison then they wouldn't be letting Bruce dine with them. Arthur was looking better now that he was hydrated and Bart was overjoyed that there was enough food to satisfy a speedsters appetite for them.
Clark wanted to talk strategy with them but the manor's ears were too big to keep a conversation secretive so he refrained from calling the leagues attention.
"So who else is here then?" Chloe asked turning to Bruce. She seemed to accept that he would be joining them for the time being.
"Johnny Quick and Power Ring are busy so it's just Ultraman, Superwoman and Tommy in the manor," He replied.
"Do you know what they want with us?" Dinah asked whilst Clark was trying to assign names to the alternative versions of themselves.
Bruce hesitated before answering "No," making them all scoff at his answer.
I-S-E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G-O-K-A-Y? Clark tapped out in Morse code. Bruce glared at him and turned back to his food.
Alfred led them back down into the cave once they were finished and all of them took their previous seats unbound this time. Bruce engaged Bart in a little catching game which looked suspiciously like fetch to Clark. He threw the bat boomerang and waited for Bart to catch and bring it back to him. He was looking a little better than when he last saw him. Not up to full strength but he didn't need help staying on his feet.
Eventually Thomas emerged from his room and called for Ultraman and Superwoman to come into the cave. Clark was shocked to see Lois looking back at him with a malicious smile etched onto her face. What was worse was the fact that she seemed to stand a little too close to Thomas despite other Clark's possessive hold on her waist.
"What do we do with them?" She asked Thomas.
"Nothing," He glared at Ultraman who had been eyeing Clark from where he stood. "We don't do anything to them but offer them a place to stay for the night and well wishes for when they leave."
"We're letting them go?" Ultraman snarled grabbing Thomas from the floor.
"Yes, now put me down. You know Bruce hates these displays of aggression," he turned to his brother and smiled at him.
"Are you sure it's wise?" Superwoman asked calmly.
"What can they do?" he spoke walking towards Bruce. It seemed like it was answer enough for Lois, content in the knowledge of her brutal superiority to the league. Ultraman had other responses and after being calmed by Lois only pushed Bruce into one of the cave walls before stalking off.
Clark sped over and helped Bruce up, checking out the new bruises that were forming on his pale skin. Blood was pooling from where he had caught himself on the sharp cave walls but there were no broken bones for which Clark was glad. The colour the Bruce had gained over the last couple of hours had gone instantly though. He'd always felt tinges of bloodlust in the past but never as strong as what he felt for that thing imposter.
Thomas came over to take Bruce from him calling the league to follow him to their rooms. He yelled for Alfred and when the butler arrived casted off the league to him before bringing Bruce back into the white doctor's office in the manor. Clark followed them not wanting to leave Bruce alone without him. The others were capable of fending for themselves without him.
He watched as Thomas attended to the cuts and scrapes adorning Bruce's torso telling his younger to apply pressure in various places when necessary. He didn't spare Clark a glance having only eyes for his pained brother.
"Clark's staying in my room," Bruce mentioned to him.
"Fine," he muttered "But he's going tomorrow Bruce."
He watched as Bruce smiled over the top of Thomas' head at him. "One condition," Bruce negotiated.
"It's not up for discussion," Clark marvelled over how similar the two were. It seemed that looks weren't the only thing they had in common.
"I want the camera's in my room disabled."
"Then Clark's not leaving tomorrow. Or the next day. I think I'll send Alfred to go retrieve his things from Smallville when the others go," He pondered.
"Bruce," Thomas growled.
"Tommy," Bruce mocked.
They stared at each other for a minute before Thomas broke away with a muttered 'fine' and went back to treating Bruce's cuts. Once he checked for a concussion and took his temperature he declared a full bill of health for Bruce and told him to go to his room.
"Don't forget to disable them Tommy. I'll know if you haven't," he teased wincing when he got up before walking to Clark. Thomas glared at them "Come on, it's not like we're plotting anything. I just don't want you watching while we have sex."
Clark sputtered while Thomas growled and was glad when Bruce tugged him up the stairs away from the intimidating brother. As soon as the door closed Bruce collapsed back onto his bed stretching and wincing when his cuts opened up. Clark cautiously walked to the opposite side of the bed sitting himself down with a firm tug from Bruce.
He sat there for a while feeling drained. The clock read that it was four in the morning meaning that they had spent another whole day awake.
"What time will we be booted out then?"
"When you wake up and have breakfast. Tommy will make sure you're well rested before he puts you on the streets so don't worry about a wake up call."
He still didn't turn around. Instead he listened as Bruce made himself comfortable on his bed, heard the sound of fabric on skin and felt when his arms came around Clarks neck from behind. He began kissing up and down his neck grabbing bits of skin with his teeth as he went but was careful not to bite too hard. Despite the situation he was in and the whole lack of romance of it he couldn't help but lean back into Bruce.
Eagerly turning his head when the teasing became too much to meet Bruce's insistent mouth. He turned and grabbed Bruce moaning at the lack of clothes he was wearing and ran his hands up the smooth skin of his back. He met some indents from where Ultraman had cut him and avoided any place that made Bruce hiss or wince in pain.
Bruce got rid of Clark's shirt and started on his pants breathlessly telling him to throw his shoes anywhere. He felt blissful when Bruce's skin met his and ached again to be back on the farm in Smallville. Even at the fortress, anywhere that they could feel safe for a few hours.
Bruce climbed into his lap and grasped both of them together tugging Clark quicker towards his release. Clark ran his hands everywhere he could once again falling into an instinctive state of what Bruce would like for him to do. Bruce on the other hand was experimenting. It was the only thing he could think of to describe what he was doing. Cataloguing Clark's reactions if he pulled or twisted a certain way. The lack of consistency had Clark moaning Bruce's name and grabbing onto the quilt beneath him. He didn't care how loud he was being as Bruce dragged his nails up his cock hard enough to hurt a human. He finally lost it though when Bruce started kissing his neck in a place he didn't even know he was sensitive in. That, coupled with one hand eagerly stroking him and the other on the brink of his ass, was what pushed him over the edge.
Clark didn't bask in the afterglow just yet though and dragged Bruce further up his chest so he could finish him off too.
Clark held Bruce to him and felt a smile tug at his face when Bruce escaped the cuddle Clark held him in so he could sprawl his limbs on top of him. Bruce nuzzled into Clark's neck like that would make up for abandoning the cuddle before getting up again to pull the curtains that faced the balcony doors closed.
Clark caught the look Bruce sent to the camera's and gathered from Bruce's satisfied smile that Thomas had turned them off like he requested. Clark got up while Bruce was busy sun blocking to grab the quilt casting an apologetic look at the torn fabric and pulling it on top of him. Bruce joined him again in bliss, showering kisses onto his chest.
"I really care about you," Bruce told him.
"I love you too," Clark smirked back and watched as Bruce rolled his eyes.
"Clark," He hummed dozing under Bruce's warm weight "You know when you said you couldn't speak your home language, does that mean that when it's spoken you don't understand it either?"
"I haven't really heard anyone speak it- apart from you. Probably not, why?"
"But you can read it?" Bruce insisted.
"I should hope so. Otherwise Doctor Swans journals would be a hard read," He joked.
Bruce got up again and returned with a little note pad "Okay then..." and he proceeded to sprout off phrases in Kryptonian and translating them for Clark. Writing down their pronunciations before getting Clark to parrot them back. He loved hearing Bruce speak his native tongue for some reason. Perhaps in his past life they had made some kink out of it. Nevertheless hearing Bruce's smooth voice pronouncing nonsense was definitely arousing him.
He taught him basic phrases like how to greet someone or call for help. He also taught Clark any phrases that he asked Bruce to translate. Mostly these were 'I love you's' or 'you have beautiful eyes' which made Bruce slightly frustrated but had him laughing by their fourth attempt of speaking it. Eventually Bruce spoke the phrase for 'going home' but didn't write it on the pad instead Clark got a sentence in Kryptonian telling him to start a fight with Ultraman in the morning. He didn't draw attention to it wondering why Bruce would still need to go to such lengths when Thomas had turned the camera's off.
It wasn't discussed further on paper but there wasn't anything else written down after that either, even though Bruce continued on the oral examination of his teachings.
It was when Bruce began to yawn after a phrase when Clark pulled him back onto his chest and wrapped his arms around him despite the protests. He murmured the phrase for I love you before planting a huge kiss on Bruce's cheek which he playfully batted away and waited for Bruce to go to sleep.
He woke up fairly late in the afternoon and contented himself with drawing bats onto Bruce's thighs waiting for him to wake up. The bruises had darkened to an ugly black and there were spots of red on the linen from where the cuts had re-opened during the night. By the time they joined the others in the kitchen for some food Clark was itching for a fight with Ultraman.
He didn't see him until the rest of the league was together. Bruce was standing away from Clark near the entrance to the kitchen munching on a piece of chocolate he had stolen from Bart.
Ultraman strutted into the foyer as if he was untouchable. He shoved and shouldered his way past Oliver and Victor, sending the latter into a wall. Bracing himself Clark shouted "Hey! Leave him alone!"
The rest was history. He didn't remember what he said or if he even said more than that to get Ultraman into the fight but fists started flying not to long after he spoke. At Clarks' full strength he wasn't as vulnerable to Ultraman and although he could definitely feel the punches, they didn't break skin like they had before. Clark gave as good as he got, remembering the winces and gasps that had come from Bruce last night and this morning as he moved. All because of this pompous jerk.
He head-butted him and kneed him in the groin vaguely aware of the rest of the league following his example to keep Superwoman from killing him. Thomas had stood watch over the proceedings with a smirk on his face and actually seemed to be happy when one of Clark's punches landed in the right spot.
Clark felt a tremble under his feet but thought nothing of it, too focused on his task of knocking Ultraman unconscious. He felt it again, this time it had enough force to knock him and the rest of the manor's inhabitants to the ground.
Clark picked himself up and felt the rage that had consumed him leave. The rest of the league had picked themselves up and were looking around at what could have made the manor tremble. Ultraman and Superwoman were doing the same. The only one who looked more unnerved than them was Thomas.
Clark heard him murmur "Bruce," before Thomas was pinned to the wall by a long boa staff.
A boy came out of the kitchen with a look of pure rage on his face. His hair was black and if it weren't for the colour of his skin Clark would have thought Bruce had been de-aged.
"Robin," A voice sounded and joined him in the foyer followed by two more all in spandex before Bruce emerged.
"Wait," Thomas begged and Clark didn't know what he was going to say as it was broken off with an arrow lodging itself too close to Thomas' groin for comfort.
Oliver came out of the kitchen then followed by another Clark, this one looking almost identical to him save for the lack of a spit curl in his hair. Dinah came out also with a woman dressed in full Greek armour. They assumed a battle stance against Superwoman and Ultraman.
One of the boys spoke that had a red helmet instead of a mask on his face "Please put your claws away. We accept your surrender"
I couldn't leave Clark angry at Bruce so I had them make up. He wasn't really all that angry anyway since his little voice kept telling him that Bruce wouldn't do something like that without reason.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
A bit different but this is mostly an explanation chapter. There will be superbat next chapter though so hang in there.
Clark wasn't really sure what happened after that. He saw the other him take down Ultraman and knew later that a woman in Amazonian battle armour took down Superwoman. But he was too focused on the black haired boys to do anything. One of them, that couldn't be more than twelve, secured Thomas before returning to Bruce and Clark didn't have to see his eyes to know that they would be the exact shade of Bruce's. He was like a younger version of him. The one with the blue on his chest had clung on to Bruce since they had came up from the cave whilst the other two ignored the chaos around them and went looking around the house.
"Come on," he heard and felt a tugging on his arm. It was Bruce. He was wary to follow but again the feeling of trust wore out and he journeyed into the kitchen with Bruce.
As it turned out there had been a secret entrance to the cave hidden in the kitchen. It explained partly where the others had came from. But the portal within Thomas' room inside the cave explained it much more.
The other side was metallic in colour and seemed to be some high tech base judging from the number of heroes he spotted running around. Like the black haired boys they were mostly in spandex and Clark even recognised a few of them. He didn't have time to remember their names though, Bruce made sure that he stayed with him and where he was going wasn't among these people just yet.
They ended up outside of a door with a little bat symbol painted across it in black. It reminded Clark of Bruce's bedpost back at the manor. The room inside was sparse of furniture save for a bed and chest of drawers. There was a room off to the side which Clark knew was a bathroom since that was where Bruce headed while telling Clark to stay put.
Despite just waking up a couple of hours earlier Clark felt exhausted and when Bruce came out he gladly climbed on the bed with him. As usual Bruce manoeuvred him around so that he could sprawl across Clark but for some reason he felt that the arm he effortlessly flung on Clark's chest was there to hold him down as well as seek comfort from him.
"No more secrets or lies. I promise you this is the truth," Bruce spoke and glanced at Clark like he was seeking permission to continue. He nodded and Bruce went on to say "Well...
Bruce had woken up from another nightmare. This one had been about the crocodile again, he was mutated so that he resembled a man's figure but the rest of him was scales and teeth. He had dreamed that the monster had chased him into the sewers and had chewed into his stomach which was when he woke up.
Bruce picked himself up from the floor and ran a hand over his face to wipe the sweat away. His shirt was too tight and clung uncomfortably to his chest from the damp he was exuding. He hoped that Alfred wouldn't tell on him again, this wasn't the first time he had a bad dream this week and he didn't want Tommy worrying about him. He had other things to take care of.
Bruce started walking back to his room to hopefully catch some more sleep before the sunlight broke into the manor, meaning he had to get up. He had walked to the dining room again, it seemed that when he dreamed his sleeping self liked to move around. To escape from villains that weren't there and he usually ended up in wide open rooms like the dining room or his fathers study. But that was usually locked as Tommy had started keeping it closed after Bruce had went in there one night. He hadn't meant to go in but it seemed that Tommy needed reassurance that Bruce couldn't get into the room and had taken the key to it.
His bed was rumpled and torn down the middle when he got back to his room and he heaved a sigh for the mess he was making for Alfred. It couldn't be helped. Climbing back into the middle and pulling his quilt with him he reached into the drawer next to his bed for his pocket knife. Finding it he carved another bat into the bed post. He did it every time he had a nightmare feeling that somehow it was important to take note of them. The bat was what he was in the dreams and every time he dreamt himself as the bat he would record it. Looking at his bed post he wondered why his subconscious tried create him into this monstrous being. Bats were unnerving.
Of course he couldn't keep his nightmare from Tommy. He never had been. After breakfast alone he made his way into one of the entertainment rooms which today was set up like an artists studio. Canvas's were strewn around the room with paint of every colour available at each.
"What's all this for then?" He asked hearing Tommy behind him.
"I thought it might be good for you to paint what you dream. Or anything at all really. Art helps express the soul and the mind," He replied coming to stand in front of Bruce. He was well dressed like always in a tight suit meant to intimidate his opponents.
"It's also a therapy trick," Bruce countered hating any mention of the word therapy. He had learnt over the years when Thomas would try and slip some into their every days even if he didn't say the word itself.
Thomas scoffed "You caught me. But it might be good for you. Besides you like art," He waved off and ventured towards one of the canvases.
"So you're doing it too?" Bruce asked following him to another canvas next to his.
"Well I can't very well ask you to do something I'm not willing to do myself," He smiled and Bruce grinned back.
They got to painting and Bruce was enjoying the time they spent flinging paint about. It wasn't often these days that Thomas would stay with Bruce like this. He had important things to be doing that took his time up. So Bruce made the most of it, spending his time just chatting with his brother about day to day things, not really paying attention to what he was drawing. He told Thomas that Alfred was getting more nosy into his personal things, he had found him rummaging through his drawers the other day. Thomas waved him off saying that he was most likely tidying, it was what Butlers did after all. Still Bruce couldn't shake the feeling like Alfred was looking for specific things among his possessions.
Thomas as usual asked about his dreams and Bruce told him like he did every day he had one. Now Bruce wasn't stupid, he was actually quite observant and knew that Thomas' fascination with Bruce's dreams weren't normal. It was why he tried to keep them from him, hide away in his room and hope that he didn't hear Bruce screaming floors down. But he always knew, so Bruce always told him. He was quite fascinated himself with the reactions they pulled out of his brother.
"A human crocodile. Did he have a name?" Thomas mused.
"Killer Croc. Not very good I know but it kind of suited him."
His brother just hummed absently and pulled his phone out. It was new and state of the art from Queen Industries and different to the one he had yesterday. Meaning that Thomas had left the manor.
"Don't frown it makes you look like a child," Thomas scolded looking back at Bruce.
"Why can't I go out?" Bruce demanded.
Thomas looked affronted "You can. Alfred is more than happy to let you help him in the gardens."
"Not outside, I mean outside the manor. You go out and so does Alfred. It's unfair that I have to stay here cooped up like a prisoner!" he ranted.
Thomas raised his voice to be heard over his brother "You know why Bruce! I know you think it's unfair but that's how life works. People aren't as accepting as you seem to think they are. The press will be all over you not to mention I won't be there to help you. What if you have another episode? Do you really want to take the risk?"
Despite being seventeen he could feel his eyes filing "No."
Thomas' look softened "Bruce, you know if there was a way that I could be assured of your safety I would let you out. But there isn't."
"But what about-"
"No!" This time he really did shout. Bruce knew how his brother felt about Ultraman. He wasn't allowed anywhere near Bruce but when he was in the manor Thomas would be on edge. He guessed it had something to do with the affair Thomas was having with Superwoman but he couldn't imagine why that would make his brother look so afraid.
"I just want to go outside," Bruce murmured looking at his painting. He could feel his brush dropping from his hand as he realised what he had been painting for the last hour. Thomas taking a look at the sudden change in Bruce rushed over.
It was a picture of his parents. Dead as they had been in that alley when he was nine. He had painted himself along with them with his head caved in from a bullet. The only one that wasn't dead was his brother standing as he was now in a suit with a gun in his hand.
He could feel Thomas pulling him away from his disastrous painting but couldn't make out the words he was saying. Everything was going black and his hearing was going silent save for the sound of wings beating against the wind.
He woke up on the sofa in a different room. Alfred was dusting and making continued glances at Bruce's form but he hadn't the thought to alert him that he was awake just yet. Bruce had experienced another episode. That was what they had dubbed it. Apparently it had all started when he was a child, the night his parents died more specifically. He had blacked out and when he had came too Tommy was bleeding out from a stomach wound and there was a gun in his hands. They had managed to save Thomas but his parents were gone. He found out later that during his blackout he had taken a gun from somewhere and shot his parents, Thomas said he did it so they could be together without the corruption that their parents were accumulating.
It was also thanks to Thomas that they didn't arrest him for murder. He had ordered the officer to do a psychoanalyst test on Bruce and discovered he had a mental illness. Mild schizophrenia along with a couple more labels that explained his out of character behaviour. Thomas had then petitioned whilst he was still in his hospital bed that Bruce be allowed to stay at the manor with him. That they had the facilities thanks to his father's medical profession that would make sure Bruce got some treatment. It was all arranged and so long as Bruce continued with his medication there was no need to detain him. The press never got a hold of the real story making the only people who knew about it Thomas, Alfred and the cops that were paid off and then mysteriously disappeared.
It happened more often these days. He would see something in the manor and black out. It was like his subconscious was trying to take over his body completely. Sometimes he would wake up and have messages carved into his mirror in the en suite or even one time it was spelt out on his own arm. He'd needed stitches for that one.
Thomas seemed to think that his illness was a reason to keep him within the manor. Bruce had to agree on some level that it was but with all the blackouts he was having within the manor, Bruce couldn't help thinking that if he just went out and away from the familiar then he wouldn't black out as much.
"Master Thomas had to go to a meeting. He requests that you help me in the garden this afternoon," Alfred mutters walking past the sofa. Bruce couldn't help wondering how he knew Bruce was awake.
The rest of the day was uneventful. The gardens were a bore and Alfred only pretended to let him help. Like you would a small child by making them hold the watering can. In the end he told the butler that he was going to have a nap on the green and lounged in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. Thomas came home for dinner and told Bruce about Johnny Quick and Power Ring's stupid plan that had them both caught in a fishing net at noon. Thomas had to go get them out which was why he wasn't there when Bruce woke up. He asked about his time in the garden and Bruce answered that the green was pleasant in the hot days they were having. He also apologised for the cut he could see peeking out of Thomas' cuff, it was usually because of his blackouts that Thomas got new cuts or at least that was what he told him.
Superwoman joined their after dinner rest in the parlour room. She sauntered in and only glanced at Bruce speaking a half-hearted hello before situating herself between them. Naturally she asked where her husband was before kicking Bruce in the side on her attempt to straddle his brother. Bruce left after checking for a bruise, not really needing Thomas' dismissal that he spoke out in between kisses.
He wandered to his room but from all the sleep he had gotten during the day he wasn't really tired. Alfred had stoked the fire in his room making it almost burn when Bruce reached out to the table where his books were. He absentmindedly picked up one about time travel but didn't get into it as much as he had been when he saw it.
Banging was heard in the hallway and Bruce cringed at the moans that followed the noises. Sometimes he wished that Ultraman found them out so that he wouldn't have to endure this all the time.
The noises were getting louder and Bruce realised that instead of going back to Tommy's room they had entered the one opposite Bruce's. He made an instant decision to not stay within his own whilst this was going on and almost ran towards the kitchen.
If Alfred asked he would have to say he was getting something to eat but Alfred didn't ask. He wasn't there when Bruce entered the kitchen and he guessed that the nosy butler must have retired for the night. The thought of having Alfred make him something was still on his mind though so he went looking for something easily to make. They were all out of ice cream since Johnny Quick had came yesterday and ate it all. He looked in the cupboards but found nothing to his level of skill to make. He wandered around the kitchen hoping that another look would prove him wrong.
It didn't. Bruce shivered and pulled his arms around him as a draft blew against his skin. He checked the windows to make sure they were closed but shivered again as the draft persisted. He started by looking under the table at the far wall. There were no doors and the draft seemed to be coming from further up so Bruce continued on his hands and knees looking for where the gap in the manor was. He found it. A small seam that ended a good width across his wall. It was the same as a door and situated itself higher from the floor than his wall.
Bruce wasn't stupid, he knew that whatever was there was hidden and that Thomas would have a fit if he knew Bruce found it. He hated Bruce exploring new parts of the manor. But Bruce was curious and looked around for a way to open the door. A small button the was hidden almost flat against the underside of the bench next to the door managed to be his way of opening it.
The entrance was dark and immediately from the rocks that made up the walls descending down Bruce could conclude that this was a way to a cave. The steps were cold under his bare feet and there was no light to speak of but somehow he knew his way. When he reached level ground light exploded into the dark cavern making Bruce shield his eyes from the intensity. When he grew accustomed to it he looked around.
It was a cave, full of computers and weapons. But more importantly it had him in it. Shooting pain split across Bruce's temples and he clutched at his skull as images and sounds threatened to make him black out. It lasted momentarily but left him undoubtedly changed.
He made his way over to the glass case that contained his suit. The bat suit. He wondered why Thomas kept it. Owlman had no need for any of this since his own inventory was full. Owlman!
Bruce remembered. That psychopath had cornered him and taken Damian for hostage. Bruce had given himself up and then woke up to find himself here. All this time his dreams had been telling him what had happened, who he was, and he didn't listen. Just what kind of game was Owlman playing? Why did he need Bruce here? More importantly where were his things?
Sure this was the bat cave but it wasn't his bat cave. He noticed a door a few paces away and wondered what purpose it served. In his cave he had no such door. Bruce approached and opened it to find monitors.
Monitors of his world. The watchtower with Diana and Barry shouting into microphones. The manor with his boys pacing frantically. The farm with someone who definitely wasn't his Clark in it. He acted like it but his movements were different and his hair was too straight. He was quite similar but it had Bruce questioning what happened to his Clark for this one to replace him.
Wait. He was there, that's why they took him. He had heard Bruce in danger and although he had been helping Oliver had came nonetheless with the archer in tow to try and save him from Thomas. It was unfortunate that Ultraman was there, perhaps all this could have been avoided.
His back slammed into the wall and Bruce looked wildly into the face of Superwoman. She hadn't had time to fully dress which Bruce cringed at whilst trying to pry her hands off his throat. He wasn't as strong as he used to be, Thomas had de-aged him with a sorcerer so he could implant fake memories into his skull. It helped keep up the appearance that they really were of this world whilst stripping Bruce from all his hard earned muscle. Luckily he had been in training when he was seventeen and knew some moves that could get her off him. It wasn't needed though.
"Let him go Lois," Thomas demanded coming over to examine Bruce's throat. Bruce cringed at being so familiar with this man after what he had done. Thomas took it to be a look of pain though and immediately turned on Superwoman. Demanding that she leave the manor and shouting abuse at her as she turned a lovely shade of red.
Bruce was shocked that Thomas would throw out Superwoman for something so trivial as choking Bruce but remembered that Thomas didn't know he remembered his other life. An idea formed in Bruce's head.
"Are you okay? I swear Bruce just say the word and she'll never come here again," He cooed running his hands delicately over the forming bruises.
"It's fine. I'm sorry for coming down here," he even let himself cry a little to make his apology more believable "I won't do it again."
Thomas seemed to stop at that and looked around like he had forgotten where they were. He caught a glance at the monitors before turning his gaze back on Bruce "No, It's okay. In fact I think it's time I clued you in on what's happening. But I think we'll get you some ice first, that must be hurting."
Bruce nodded and took the chair that Thomas drew up for him. It faced the monitors and Bruce watched as Diana called a man who wasn't Oliver onto the watchtower. It seemed that he was welcome there though and Bruce wondered how they made the switch so easily.
Thomas came back "Now Bruce, I don't want you to be scared of what I'm about to tell you and keep in mind that what I'm doing I'm doing for us. You and me, because that's all that really matters." Bruce nodded and held the soothing ice to his neck "There's this thing, we call it the multiverse. It's parallel worlds living side by side but each one different to the next. This world on the screens is rife with corruption. These people are running the world like tyrants, believing that because they have been given extra-ordinary gifts it makes them able to say what's right and wrong. This world is what I'm trying to help. You've met the others on my team dedicated to doing this and we've been going to this world to try and remove these people from power. But that's not all. This world will never fully accept you Bruce and me for keeping you from it so I've been trying to mould this world into a place where both of us can be happy in it,"
"I don't follow."
"Hmm. You see their manor, these boys have been sponging off their Bruce for years and with the amount of things he owns in his city it's no wonder. He owns practically half of it. So I'm tying to remove them and that Bruce before transitioning both of us over to it. With wealth like that you can go anywhere you like and not have to worry about people turning on you."
He made it sound like it was what Bruce wanted but he could see the real reason behind all of this. He owned a lot of money and power and with Bruce being moulded in Thomas' likeness thanks to the mind wipe they would be owning two worlds as brothers. He just needed to get Bruce away from his home then put him back with a different perspective and the world wouldn't try and balance itself out like it did the last time. With no Justice League thanks to the others purging them Bruce could do evil and Thomas could do evil on his world resulting in two Gotham's under their control. It was pure genius.
He needed to contact that world immediately.
But first he needed to play along so Thomas wouldn't suspect anything out of the ordinary "I could go outside," He whispered.
"Exactly," Thomas smiled at him.
They spent the rest of the night talking about what they would do when they got onto that world. Eventually though Thomas sent Bruce to bed asking him nicely with a thinly veiled threat to never come down into the cave again without him.
Bruce used the grandfather clock to get out not wanting to reveal the hidden entrance to the cave which, he was fairly certain, Thomas didn't know about.
He retired to his room collapsing back onto his bed that had been mended earlier in the day. For once the bats that adorned his wooden posts didn't frighten him with prospects of nightmares and stood guard over the life they were protecting.
The next morning Bruce knew that he needed to find a way to make contact with the other universe. The bat cave was out question since Thomas had imposed a ban on it. Bruce needed to find somewhere else then. He would need a computer strong enough to send a signal into a parallel world but couldn't correlate the events in this world with the ones he remembered. Thomas had kept him cooped up, he didn't know how far ahead everyone was in their lives.
"Are you okay?" Thomas asked reaching over to feel Bruce's forehead.
"Fine," he murmured and returned to his meal, watching as Thomas turned back to his paper.
He almost choked when he saw the headline. It seems like there was a mysterious being in Metropolis dubbed 'the blur' that was going around saving people. Bruce knew it was Clark.
"So what are we doing today?" He asked watching his brother set the paper down again.
Thomas seemed proud of himself when he replied "We are going to Metropolis," He waited for a dramatic effect and it had it's intended effect. Bruce was shocked. Why was Thomas taking him out after all he had told Bruce. "I thought since you'll be taking over the matters in the other universe when we move that I should educate you on the etiquettes of business. So we're going to see the Luther's today."
"That's great!" Bruce enthused and asked for the time they were leaving before rushing upstairs and changing. He heard Thomas shouting for Bruce to pack an overnight bag and did just that.
It would be an opportunity for him to see what he had been missing cooped up in here. He might see Clark or Oliver and sure it would take some deception but he could evade Thomas enough that they could form a plan together. But Bruce couldn't help wondering why they were going in the first place. Sure last night had made some things clearer but it seemed odd to take Bruce out now instead of prepping him beforehand. There must be something going on at the manor that he shouldn't see. Someone must be being brought into this universe. A rebel? Diana? Jason? He hoped not.
Bruce was sad to say that he almost cried when he saw the familiar sights of Gotham flash by as Alfred drove them to Metropolis. He had been away from his true home for too long and ached to feel the wind rushing against his body as he flew above the rooftops.
In contrast Metropolis was still too bright despite it being duller than his universe. It seemed that Clark had just begun his superhero career judging by the wary glances people still cast each other on the streets.
His meeting with Luther lasted a long time. Firstly there were the introductions and it was apparent that neither Lex or Lionel wished to be there but judging by the looks they cast both of them were curious about the lost Wayne heir and his new brother. The meeting went over stocks and shares that had little consequence to Bruce since this wasn't his universe. He mostly spent it looking outside the window or watching Lex try to subtly impress his father. No matter what world they were in Lex was always a suck up.
They left at five with pleasantries and Bruce had never been so glad to see the sun before. Thomas led them both down alleys and streets that Bruce didn't care to look at. He was worried that Thomas was going to pull a gun on him but then his world domination plan wouldn't work.
"We're going to have to get changed before our next event and I need to check in on Ultraman. He promised to look after the manor but you know how he is..." Thomas explained pulling his phone out.
The event they were going to was a party in some bar. It was tough to get into but for a Wayne that meant nothing. Thomas had left him to go socialise with some girls and Bruce couldn't help but hope that he was scoping a new love interest out. Superwoman wasn't the best person to have around the manor.
He went out to get some air. The stuffy atmosphere of so many people stuck up themselves always tired him out. He lounged on the balcony that was provided for him, glancing back to track the movements of his brother. But that's when he saw him.
It was Clark. He was wearing plaid instead of his tacky suit and he looked younger. All that time away and not knowing who he was made looking at Clark like the first time he had seen him. It was exhilarating watching his alien body try and fit in with normal people and Bruce couldn't help watching places that he normally wouldn't on his best friend. He could damn his teenage hormones for it later.
He was standing with Oliver and like Clark he had aged down as well. Bruce wondered how no one had questioned these people in their lives yet. There was a blonde hovering near Clark talking animatedly about something while Oliver went to go get the drinks in.
"We're leaving," Bruce turned around to the sound of Thomas' voice. It seemed Bruce wasn't the only one to have noticed Clark's presence.
"You're uncomfortable. I knew this was a bad decision, I should have eased you into this lifestyle instead of thrusting you in head first. I'm sorry, it won't happen again," He took Bruce's arm and began towing him away.
Bruce broke free "Wait," he looked around for any excuse to stay a bit longer "I want to get someone's number," he settled on.
"Number?" Thomas looked shocked then amused "So my little brother's all grown up. Who's the lucky girl?"
"Guy," He didn't know why he said it but he did "And him," he motioned to Clark.
"Oh, I didn't know..." He looked uncomfortable.
"It's fine Tommy. I didn't exactly tell you. It's not a problem is it?" he turned his little brother eyes onto him.
Thomas broke out into a grin "Of course not. It just means more for me."
"Does that mean I can stay, I'd really like to talk to him," He watched as Clark moved with the blonde girl to a table at the back.
"I don't think so Bruce. He doesn't look like he's single. Why don't we call it a night?" It seemed that Thomas wasn't going to let him talk to Clark.
"Fine," He sighed and followed him out.
Alfred was waiting with the car outside, Thomas must have phoned him as soon as he saw Clark come in. "We need to make a stop at a grocery store on the way to the hotel," He told Alfred and at Bruce's questioning look answered with ice cream. "So is it just guys or girls as well?" He asked.
Bruce thought about Selina back home, he was attracted to her, but then he face changed to that of Superwoman and how she looked holding him up against the wall. It seemed that he wouldn't be able to shake her image so soon.
"Guys," He settled on and thought that it was at least partially true. Many a night had been thought about Superman back home and wondering about how his powers attributed to his statue in bed. Besides Clark wasn't bad looking.
The car stopped and Bruce propped his face on his hand to stare out the window. If Oliver was in Metropolis he would need a base and judging from the tech Thomas was sporting he must have a computer that can suit Bruce's needs. He would need to find a way to get to Oliver. Something was dropped into his lap.
He glanced at Thomas entering the car again before looking down at the stack of magazines he had thrown there. Each cover had pictures of men in lewd poses. He turned to Thomas but only received a wink and a smirk before telling Alfred to hurry back to the hotel.
They got to the manor the next day and everything looked like it had when they left. He tried to think of ways to sneak out of the manor remembering all the times he had told his boys to do the same thing to test the security. But sneaking out was a lot harder when it was an actual foe you were up against. He had to sneakily look for the camera's in the house and disguise it in a treasure hunting game he was playing. Things like this weren't uncommon in the other him that couldn't remember who he was. He would often spend the day playing childish games since Thomas wouldn't let him have anything that could show the outside world. TV was off limits, computers and going outside for long periods. It was a wonder that he hadn't really gone crazy.
He found the camera in his room no bother since Thomas had actually told him where it was when he asked. "But why do you have one in there?"
"To make sure you don't hurt yourself. You get quite violent at night and I need to make sure that you aren't going to harm me before I try and comfort you," he had explained.
What made sneaking out worse was the fact that the revelation a few nights ago had meant that Thomas could explain things openly with him. Meaning more brotherly bonding time. They spent hours in the library or playing games in the manor. One day he even took Bruce down into the cave to provide his own running commentary on the 'evil villains' of that universe. All Bruce really learnt was that Oliver and Clark weren't the only two that had been taken. Barry had went back onto watchtower again but this time he had brought Wally and Bart. Only it wasn't the Bart that Bruce was associated with. It seemed that the three of them weren't the only ones that were switched and got Bruce questioning whether Oliver being in peril the same time as Bruce was actually a coincidence.
Finally his moment came when Thomas declared that he had matters to attend to on the other side of their parallels. He told Bruce he would be back for dinner and that he shouldn't bother Alfred too much. Bruce hugged him goodbye as was customary and waited half an hour before making his move. Avoiding the camera's and getting out of the manor was the easy part in his escape route. The hard part was trying to navigate himself in this new universe. Things were similar but different at the same time. Buildings that didn't exist in his universe did here and it took Bruce longer than he expected to get to the bus station.
It was long and smelled of people but after two hours stuck on a coach he emerged victorious in Metropolis. He asked where the nearest library was and checked out a computer for an hour before searching about Oliver. It seemed he did have a base in Metropolis which was a penthouse not far from the library. With more digging he found associations with the other Oliver and Lois Lane and a Chloe Sullivan. It seemed that this was the blonde from the bar. He searched for their house of residence and found them both to be living in Smallville which wasn't what he wanted at all.
It was almost accidently that Bruce stumbled on Chloe's relations with Jimmy and the apartment he had bought for them. It seemed strange that she had two residences but stayed in Smallville with her cousin. Bruce could make a detour to check this place out before breaking into Queen's penthouse.
The building didn't look like much from the outside but Bruce could appreciate the value of the place. It was situated at the heart of Metropolis and had a window at the top wide enough to look out over it. He looked around the buildings next to it and found one that was tall enough to stand the same height as this one.
The doorman paid him no mind as he pressed the button for the lift. He made his way across the roof and gauged how far the jump would be. It wouldn't do to overestimate his past self's physique and end up plummeting to his doom.
It looked safe enough though and he took a running start before leaping over the gap separating this building from Chloe's apartment. The rest was fairly easy. He broke into the ventilation shafts and shimmied his way along until he overlooked what should have been a studio apartment. Instead Bruce smirked at his findings.
It seemed that the league had been set up, though lacking some of it's high tech machinery Bruce could see the similarities between this and the first base Diana, Clark and him had made all those years ago.
He scanned the room before dropping down and making his way over to the computers. Easily hacking in and disabling the security surrounding the room Bruce set to work. A computer like this would be able to do what he wanted.
He ran some programmes before slipping in a couple of tricks he had learnt over the years as a hacker to boost the signal of the computer. Finally he had a break though. He sent his bat symbol to the watchtower letting them know that he was the one contacting them and soon received a reply from Diana.
It appeared that Johnny Quick and Power Ring had set up their headquarters in the other universe. Diana was ran ragged trying to pick up after them. She asked Bruce what he could possibly need and he realised she thought he was still in the bat cave. It took some convincing before he got her to realise that the people in that universe were switched with the league of this one. Then they tried to establish how they were going to get Bruce back and get rid of the crime syndicate.
"What are you doing in here?" A deep voice asked. Bruce turned to see those familiar alien eyes glowing red as they looked at him.
"Hi," Bruce breathed, quite happy to see Clark again.
"Who are you?" Clark asked not seeming to care that he was threatening his best friend. Bruce realised that they hadn't met in this universe yet, also that Bruce had just broken into his secret base of super heroing that should have kept even the government out. "I'm not asking again." Clark warned.
"My name's Bruce," He spoke and held out his hand in a sign of friendship.
"Well Bruce, who are you and what are you doing here?"
"I'm just here to hang out," Bruce replied shutting down his chat with Diana.
"Right," Clark said disbelievingly.
Oliver walked in behind Clark and stopped shocked at the face of an intruder. It seemed though that Bruce and Oliver had met before as he quickly put a scowl on his face "How did you get in here? No, wait, what are you even doing away from your mansion in the first place. I thought you had some disease or something?" Trust Oliver to be so articulate.
"You know him?"
"Yeah he's Bruce Wayne. I had to attend charity balls with him when we were younger," Oliver growled, the memory being of some annoyance for him. "What are you doing here?" He asked Bruce.
"I came to hang out. I heard you talking at the club the other day about a watchtower and after looking it up I found it. I'm sorry if I caused some alarm," Bruce used his playboy voice making him sound as witty as a four year old.
"Club?" Clark muttered before Oliver steered him off into the adjoining kitchen.
Bruce made sure that the computer reverted back to its original state before they went on it and turned towards Clark and Oliver as they came in the room. Clark didn't look happy but Oliver had his tolerant face on and was obviously going to be sending Bruce home any minute now.
"Are you going to fly me home?" Bruce asked hoping that if they were going to run into each other from now on that they would be comfortable talking about these things in front of him. Not to mention it would be easier for them to make contact with him, even if it was just to check up on him so he didn't blab their secret.
"Fly?" Clark choked before schooling his features "What do you mean by that?"
"Well, you're the Blur right. Who else would wear a symbol like that. I also heard you talking about it at the club as well," he had the pleasure of watching their faces change to that of fright.
"So you know our secret?" Oliver squeaked.
The next half hour before Clark rushed him home was spent with them trying to stop Bruce from blabbing. The following months were spent much like that day with Bruce going to watchtower to send messages to the other universe and plot with them behind Thomas' back.
It would have worked as well had it not been for Alfred. The being that had taken over his butler's persona reported everything that Bruce did back to Thomas and Bruce knew that his associations with Clark could only be kept secret for so long. So he had to indulge in a little of his secret fantasies to try and keep Thomas from completely banning Bruce from seeing Clark.
He made him his boyfriend. Thomas was against it but it seemed that he couldn't really deny Bruce any happiness if he truly wanted it. He warned though of Bruce going anywhere without Thomas knowing about it. He also made Bruce go to Arkham so he could check for bruises or any harm that Clark could have done to him. It was there that Bruce found out the reason for his trip to Metropolis.
It seemed that the inmates were unhappy with their competition, and with the bat not there to get rid of Ultraman or Power Ring they took it upon themselves to defend their crime rings. It resulted in mass panic and revolution that was quelled when they moved them to Arkham here. They took Scarecrow since he had a formula strong enough to take out the entire syndicate and also Harley to keep Joker from getting his hands on any harmful objects. The people that replaced them took their former identities as Doctors and created a cover for why Bruce was there in Arkham. Instead of checking for any abuse he was there for treatment.
This all went sour though when Clark came to the manor. Bruce had told him on the grass about things not being right and hinted more when they got back, but that was because he had been able to disable the camera. When Clark came to confront Bruce again he completely forgot about disabling the camera, there was no time, so he had kissed him instead. Things had escalated but at least Clark was quiet.
But then he talked again and Bruce knew there was no way Thomas didn't suspect something foul so he had begged Clark to take him to the farm. He couldn't confront Thomas just yet.
But then he had violated another of Thomas' conditions. When Alfred came to get him they went back to the manor with strict instructions for Bruce to not leave his room until Thomas returned. Bruce couldn't stay there without doing something so he broke into the cave and carved his children's names into the wall.
Clark needed to get down there and accept what was happening. He needed to make a drastic move and Bruce knew that this would add incentive. He smashed the cases containing the bat suit and flung the chair into the computer hoping that it would look like something bad had happened. If the farm was any proof it was that deep down Clark knew about Batman, he had called him it when they were fooling around so Bruce knew there would be some connection between this place and the other universe for him. Bruce added one last touch and scattered the batarangs in a pattern leading to the door where Thomas went in. If he discovered this then maybe he would get the old Clark back.
Thomas had him moved to Arkham for another check up. But he hadn't known that Bruce and the Joker had been working together. When the time came Bruce would need a distraction for Thomas while Bruce escaped with Clark. He needed to be too busy to hunt Bruce down so that he could plan with Clark on how they would get back to the other universe.
Unfortunately that didn't happen. When the time came for Clark to rescue him, he wasn't Superman just the Blur. He hadn't remembered or even found any evidence of the other universe and had gotten Bruce's computer hard drive instead. If Clark wasn't invulnerable Bruce would have hit him.
As it was though he had to keep in character as the rest of the league assembled. They met up in Clark's fortress and after a brief meeting retired to their rooms in the spacious quarters the fortress drew up for them. He knew that he would need to go see Thomas soon. He would be worried that Bruce was dead in the asylum if he didn't announce himself which would make his plan useless. Who knows what would happen if Thomas abandoned his current plan.
The next morning Clark and the league went off to interrogate Alfred leaving Bruce able to confer with the other universe via Clark's much stronger computer. Between them they formed a plan. Separately this and the league computer had the strength to communicate briefly between the universes but if Bruce managed to make the signal strong enough the league could break through to this universe via the watchtower. All Bruce had to do was turn on this, the watchtower's and the bat cave's computer (which Clark destroyed) and they could defeat the syndicate.
And you know the rest of it" Bruce concluded drawing patterns on Clark's chest.
"So we weren't lovers in this universe?" Clark asked.
"Everything I've just told you and you fixate on that. But no, we weren't. But that's not saying I wouldn't have liked it if we were. It's just that we never really got around to it in this universe," Bruce tried with a shy grin at the end.
Clark didn't know what to think. So he removed Bruce and went to join the others in the main area of the space station. He hoped that he would get his memories back soon. It would probably make the mess that Bruce had just revealed that much simpler.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Bruce hadn't tried to approach him since he had left the room. Clark had taken up trying to get to know his colleagues again in this universe and found it rather difficult without his memories. The fast man in red whose name was Barry assured him that once they had everyone in their right universes they were going to restore everything that had been lost to them.
He watched the other him and his friends and could immediately see the difference between them. Clark knew that he belonged in the other universe. Despite being somewhat older he had a niceness around him that only came from naivety. The others were different too. He could see how that Oliver tread the line between criminal and hero so finely that it didn't bother him as much anymore. Then there was their camaraderie with Chloe. She had hopped over to this universe along with the others and was currently telling them off. She hadn't noticed the switch but kept commenting on how she must have been blind for the past half a year not to see that that Clark wasn't hers.
Owlman and his gang were soon transported here and through it again when they set up different co-ordinates. Barry went with them to presumably destroy their machine and Clark noticed that Thomas kept glancing around at the faces within the watchtower. Clark couldn't tell if he was looking for Bruce or just scanning the faces of those who had defeated him. Clark was glad either way that Bruce had remained within his room, there was something about Thomas' obsession with him that unnerved him and it wasn't just because of what he had done to them.
It wasn't long before Clark was watching as Zatanna in all her skimpy glory came up to the watchtower with some other people in tow to sit down each of the other's league. He watched as one by one they grew younger so the plains of Arthur's face didn't seem so stressed. Then they too were gone.
"You're turn now boy scout," Zatanna called motioning him over.
He was a tad reluctant to face her, worried in case anything went wrong. But he felt the magic work its way inside his body and felt his mind unfold while his limbs grew a bit larger and his hair fuller. He soon couldn't help his smile on his face when he saw Zatanna. All of his memories were back. About Conner, Kara, the league, how could he have forgotten. How dare his memories be taken from him.
Oliver with his beard all bushy and blonde clasped his arm in a warning. It seemed that his eyes were growing red. He murmured an apology that was met with Oliver's instant forgiveness. He wasn't the only one that suffered.
"So," Zatanna said calling their attention back "Are one of you going to get Mister Grumpy or shall I?"
Her sentence had immediate reactions. Oliver backed away pale faced saying he had catching up with Dinah to attend to whilst Barry whisked Bart out of the satellite and back home. Clark told her to get him. He didn't think he could face Bruce right now. Not with his memories.
He left watchtower to go to the fortress an inner battle raging inside of him. He remembered everything now, how Bruce wasn't his and how this universe hadn't let them be together. There had always been something. If not an end of the world battle then there was always the obstacle of Bruce's boys. Sure Clark loved them and some of them liked him. But not in a way where they would be happy for their dad to date him. Dick might get past it but Damian certainly wouldn't. He hadn't a clue as to how Tim and Jason would react.
Truth be told though Clark hadn't allowed himself to think of Bruce in that way for years. Not when his playboy image showed nothing but a heterosexual man in his prime. Was what happened in the other universe really Bruce? Or was he just using Clark to get his trust. It wouldn't have been the first time he employed such tactics on people and they too had deluded themselves into thinking there was a future with him. Clark resolved to see what they had as it was, an excuse. Bruce said and did whatever he could think of to get Thomas away from him and allow him to get back home.
But it had meant something to Clark either way. He couldn't help thinking back on those ignorant times in the fortress and on the farm (He hoped to God the other him didn't find out what happened,) and how he had hoped that when they got their lives back that him and Bruce would be together in them.
He ended up staying in the fortress for three days before paying his parents a visit. They were fine but worried and Conner was always happy to see him. The visit was short and soon Clark got ready to face Lois at the planet. He hoped he still had a job.
Metropolis wasn't what he expected to see. There were buildings burnt down and acre's of land destroyed. That was when Clark finally grasped the bigger picture. These people had been to his home. Had tried to destroy it and build it up again in their idealisms. Luthor was still in jail but he knew that there were contracts being signed up as he spoke for the replacement buildings. He couldn't tell if Luthor owning half of Metropolis was worse than Ultraman. He supposed he was going to find out though.
Lois was happy to see him and asked how his vacation went before sending him into Perry for a new article. It seemed that the other him had kept up appearances at the Planet and even put a few holiday days in, probably knowing that he would need a few days to adjust back into his life.
It became a busy month. Spending his days catching up with his more than absent cousin because of Legion buisness. He also let Conner help with the rebuilding of Metropolis, deeming him ready to be out on the field. He actually missed the boy and felt proud when he saw him veer off to take care of a bank robbery whilst Clark was busy with a fire. He supposed this is what Bruce feels when he's out with Robin. Then stops that train of thought as it led him down a miserable path. He was hoping to avoid Bruce for the time being so that things wouldn't be as awkward when they next worked together.
It seemed that was sooner rather than later though as Clark soon found himself on monitor duty with him the next Friday. He greeted him the same as he always would and treated him like the past half year hadn't happened. There was no reason for Clark to make things more weird than they had to be.
“How are the boys?” He made himself ask.
“Busy,” Bruce replied gruffly and Clark had to pause a moment to listen to the gruff voice that was addressed to him. He had forgotten how deep Bruce's voice was, it seemed that puberty had hit once again after he was seventeen as the silky tone, though was detected, was much darker and seductive than it had been last Clark had heard him.
“Oh?” he heard himself ask trying to nonchalantly peer through Bruce's suit to admire how else he had grown up. Remembering wasn't the same as seeing it again in real life.
“Gotham's been through a lot when I was gone. The boys did all they could but they're still busy with repairs,” Bruce explained and tinkered with the computer to his left.
It seemed that Metropolis wasn't the only city to have felt the effects of the syndicates wrath.
“I'm surprised they touched Gotham. I thought Owlman wanted you to take over it.”
“He only destroyed what wasn't mine,” and turned his attention back to Clark “What's Metropolis like?”
“Manageable. I've had Conner come and help with some of the repairs but it looks like Luthor's going to be taking them off our hands pretty soon. I wish sometimes that he was like the other Lex. I could have just stormed in and threw a tantrum. He probably would have still went through with it but at least most of it would be for the people. God knows what this Lex is going to do with the buildings,” He sighed.
Bruce hmmmed and went back to his computer. That was the longest conversation they had that night. Clark kept trying to peer at Bruce's older self while admonishing himself for trying to do so. It wasn't like the other universe he kept telling himself.
They left without a goodbye and Clark went back to his empty apartment to settle back into the routine he had developed. Metropolis still needed saving so his drama was going to have to wait.
And wait it did. For three months his life and the league carried on like before. Oliver and Dinah had made up after his relationship with Chloe and were stronger than ever. He often envied how easily Dinah could forgive the archer. Wally and Barry seemed overjoyed that Bart was back and causing trouble. Clark heard from time to time one of them complaining about his lack of responsibility but there was an undertone in their voices that spoke of nothing but pride. He barely saw Arthur in the next three months, he was spending most of his time in Atlantis to reconnect with his children and Meera whilst Victor went back to the Titans for a while.
He wondered if his life would ever feel as simple as theirs. They seemed to have completely forgiven what happened which was something he was having trouble with. He would go to work and see Lois and sometimes forget that they hadn't lived together when he was younger. Often he would wake up from a nightmare and phone his Pa to make sure he was alright. The other universe was haunting him and he couldn't make it stop. His two lives didn't interlink and left him torn between which memories were real or not.
In the end he spent more time in the fortress. Krypto would often come with him so that he wouldn't be lonely and they would spend hours playing fetch or Clark monologuing his woes to his lovely companion.
“How would you get over it?” He asked him and received a whine and nudge for the ball he was holding. “I guess you would probably ask for a ball. It's probably the same in any universe for you huh boy,” He ruffled Krypto's soft head.
On the beginning of his fifth month back in his life he received an unexpected invitation. He was at his desk writing an article about the new housing developments when Jimmy came over and slipped him a note.
On the cover was his name but inside was a place and time to meet. “Where'd you get this Jimmy?”
The boy turned and gave him a grin “A black haired teen on a bike. Said to give it to you CK or else he'd fire me. Can you imagine?” he laughed at the absurdity while Clark hoped the boy wouldn't actually go through with it.
The place where Bruce had asked to meet was on top of the Wayne Enterprises building in Gotham. Bruce hadn't been kidding when he said Gotham was bad as well. Clark could see constructions going on all over the town. He wondered if Thomas actually got his wish and Bruce owned the new sites. Or if not feared for whoever was living under their new Mob landlords.
“You came,” He heard and turned around to see Bruce. He wasn't wearing the bat suit which struck Clark as odd.
“You asked,” He held the note up. “So what did you want to talk about?”
“Why are you avoiding me?” Bruce began.
“I'm not,” He replied knowing he had been doing just that. “I've just been busy and so have you.”
“No, you've been avoiding me,” Bruce pressed and joined him on the ledge that overlooked the smog smoked streets. “And I want to know why.”
“Why!” Clark muttered not believing Bruce had actually asked that. “It's not like we saw each other much before Bruce,” Clark deferred.
“No but you didn't go out of your way to avoid me either.”
“How exactly have I been avoiding you?” He asked hoping to stall for time.
Bruce turned to him “You usually drop by the cave or have dinner once in a while but other than the league mandatory meetings and monitor duty I haven't seen you. I would forgive it if there was something wrong or you were busy but it's been five months and nothing,” He threw his hands up.
“I didn't know you valued my presence so much.”
“Neither did I,” Bruce bit out and slouched backwards. “Well?”
He couldn't look at him “I just though we needed some time apart. I needed some time apart, after what happened in the other universe.”
“After what happened?” Clark turned to stare at Bruce. His face was older but that look he got when he was confused still made him look adorable to Clark.
“Bruce we had sex,” he exclaimed not believing that he had to spell it out for the detective.
“And? How exactly does that equal to you avoiding me?”
“You can't be serious!” he sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “You honestly can sit there and not feel weird about it.”
“Oh,” Bruce frowned “I didn't realise you felt that way about it.”
“Well I do,” he brought his knees up closer to him.
A silence settled over both of them. Clark didn't know what to say to him, he hated that his best friend had been made into a foreign being. He couldn't even look at Bruce anymore. It was just too painful. He had awoken things that should have been left to die but Clark couldn't even bring himself to be mad at Bruce for doing it.
“So why did you do it?” Clark asked.
“Make me your boyfriend,”
“I told yo-”
“Answer it properly Bruce!” he snapped.
“Why do you have such a problem with it?” Bruce countered “So we had sex. So what? I never took you to be homophobic so I really don't understand what the problem is-”
“How dare you even insinuate-”
“Well why not! You keep asking about every little thing I did. You went along with it but only because I kept telling you bits of information.”
“So you're saying that I manipulated you?” Clark asked angrily “I manipulated you!?” he shouted and turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” Bruce demanded standing up.
“Well I'm leaving before I manipulate you again,” He snapped sarcastically “Why do you think I'm leaving? I'm not listening to you saying these things.”
“Well you started it!” Bruce barked.
“Only because I don't know what's happening to us!” He yelled back and watched as Bruce's face turned into an angry frown. “We've come back to this world and we aren't even us anymore. Can you honestly tell me that you see me the same way as before?” Bruce shook his head “Same. Bruce I can't be around you right now because I can't forget what happened. It's different for the others because they were able to look past what happened as just another consequence of the job. But Bruce, I can't do that. I look at you and I see what we were. What I thought we were in this world and to come back and it not be what I imagined... It's going to take some time before I can act normal around you again. I'm sorry.”
“Fine,” He heard Bruce spit out but he was already halfway to Metropolis when it happened.
The next day was awful. He couldn't concentrate on anything he was writing and ended up typing their parting words in his articles frequently. He didn't even answer Lois' jibes and instead tried to keep an ear on the world. But that was strangely quiet too. By the end of the day he was glad to just go back to his apartment and watch awful telly for a while.
He ordered take-out and scrubbed a hand over his face while flipping through the channels. Naturally there were mostly romantic comedies on and he ended up doing his own batman impression by growling and throwing the remote at the TV.
“Tough day?” Damn those birds.
“How long have you been here?” He countered turning to face Dick. He was in his Nightwing costume juggling a couple of wingdings where he sat.
“Not long. Timmy wanted me to find Conner with him,” He shrugged “Thought I would pop in.”
“Make yourself comfy,” Clark told him watching as the mask was removed.
“So what are we watching?” He asked nudging Clark's legs away before collapsing back onto his sofa. He reminded Clark of Bruce when he did that and wondered which of them copied off the other.
“If you can find something decent the remote's yours.” He told him fetching it from the floor “Chinese should be here soon.”
Clark fetched Dick a drink and smiled when the vigilante pulled his boots off so he could fold himself into his seat. It was nice to see that he had some manners unlike his temperamental father. He handed the glass and fell back into his seat, pulling a face at having to watch Beauty and the Beast.
“Damian doesn't allow it in the house,” Dick smirked “I have to get my fix somewhere.”
“What? You're telling me an eleven year old decides what you watch. Honestly Dick you've changed,” He joked and ruffled his hair laughing as the acrobat batted him away.
“It's not my fault,” He whined “And besides you don't live there so you don't know. He's a very scary eleven year old.”
He left Dick alone and went to get the door smiling when he heard him singing along to Gaston. He was beginning to wonder when Dick would reveal why he was really here. Tim was sixteen and more than capable of shouting for Conner to get him and although Clark liked it when he did come over it was usually because he wanted to talk about something.
“How are the other two then?” He attempted.
“Jason's staying at the manor for a while. You would think that there'd be constant arguing but Bruce and him seem to have a weird alliance going on. I'm actually scared to stay over for the night. Tim's, well Tim. He's spending his weekends at the Titans but when he is home he keeps to his room. Damian's made one to many threats I think,” He spoke swallowing instead of breathing as he ate.
“Why doesn't Bruce do something about him?” Clark wondered.
“He does and Damian's not that bad. It's Tim, he just riles him up. Honestly they're both as bad as each other,” Dick sighed inhaling more food. “Speaking of conflict. When are you and Bruce going to make up?”
Ah here we are “What makes you think we're fighting?”
“You're never at the manor anymore. I had to come here to get my Super fix.” He explained and waved his arms in a manner like Metropolis was on the other side of the world.
“That doesn't mean we're fighting,” Clark waved away.
Dick sighed “Fine. The reason I can tell is that Bruce came storming into the manor last night complaining about men in tights. Now either he's been watching too much Robin Hood or you two had a fight.”
“Like a child. Stop stalling,” He pointed.
“Fine. Look we just had a fight about something that happened in the other universe, it's no big deal, but it means that I can't come to the manor for a while,” he explained.
“Can't? I don't see anyone stopping you.” Dick took a breath before saying this next part “Is this about how you two hooked up?”
He was never happier in his life that he didn't need to breath as much as humans “How... You know about that?” he asked feeling his face redden.
“Yep,” Dick said and turned back to his food. “So is it?”
“I don't understand how you can fight about it. I would have thought you'd both be jumping for joy or something,” Dick muttered staring confused at his meal.
“Jumping for joy?”
“Well yeah. You guys got together in a different universe. One where there wasn't any Robins or Superboys. I would have thought the fact that you two getting together when there was so little complications would make it easier for you to be back in this universe.”
“I don't think I'm following you Dick. I mean I get about how it would be simple for us to get together in the other universe. But you do know that we only did as a cover. We just needed a solid excuse to see each other without Owlman prying,” He said and felt cold at hearing Bruce's previous explanation slip from his mouth.
“Really?” Dick asked not looking like he believed Clark.
“Well yeah. Why else would we get together?”
“Because you wanted to,” Dick said simply. “If you ask me pretending to be involved as a cover is a good excuse but it doesn't mean that you guys had to... you know... go all the way,” he said avoiding eye contact. He would feel pity for Dick if he wasn't just as embarrassed to be having this conversation
“Well that was just... I mean...” he stuttered “He was manipulating me,” Clark finally bit out.
Dick looked up quickly “Are you sure? Because he said the same about you when I asked.”
“He said what?!” Dick paled realising he had said the wrong thing.
“I don't think he meant it like that though,” He tried to amend “I think he meant it in the way that you were using Bruce just as much as he was using you. I mean-” He stuttered and watched with a red face as Clark stood up pulling his jacket on “Please don't fight,” he begged and sounded just like he did when Clark and Bruce had just met. Standing in the cave begging his mentor not to attack his idol, he was smaller but the way he spoke had almost broken Clark's heart. And now here he was twelve years begging the same thing but with the roles reversed.
“I'm not,” He sighed “I'm just going to talk to him. You can come and supervise if you want,” He offered and waited while Dick grabbed his mask and boots before flying them both to Gotham.
The manor was different in this universe since it had survived two earthquakes and numerous psychotic break ins.
“Are the rogues back?” He asked Dick setting him down.
“Yeah, they came through with you guys. Joker looked so weird normal. Zatanna almost kept him that way,” Dick shivered and opened the front door. “By the way those imposter things were aliens, thought you'd like to know. They're peaceful in this universe but in the syndicates they're notorious for impersonating people and stealing their wealth. All they need is a strand of DNA and they can turn themselves into anyone. It's not the same as Manhunter but still creepy,” he continued and led the way through the manor.
They passed Alfred on their way in and Clark was never more happy to see the butler. Unfortunately he only had stern words for Dick telling him to strip in the hallway and fetch his pyjamas afterwards. The acrobat complied with only little complaining and earned himself an audience and Jason throwing taunts from further down the corridor as he handed his suit to Alfred.
Clark dutifully waited while he fetched his batman pj's and even asked where he could get some before they continued up the staircase to Bruce's room. Dick knocked once and after hearing a high come in entered with Clark in tow.
Damian was seated on his fathers bed with his knee bleeding. Dick seeing the blood rushed over to pamper the little assassin. Damian tried to fend him off but in the end everyone concedes to one of Dick's hugs.
“Dick,” he heard Bruce bark from the bathroom “Stop jostling him around until I've cleaned his leg.”
“But he needs love. That makes everything better,” The acrobat joked hugging Damian closer.
“Bruce is right Dick. You're getting blood all over his bed spread,” He told him and heard Bruce's heart speed up before calming.
Dick only groaned before falling back onto the bed thankfully letting Damian go before he did so. The boy himself only scowled and glared at Clark being in his manor. Bruce came out of the bathroom with a flannel and a box of little plaster boxes.
“Try not to move Dami,” He soothed and bent down to clean the gash on Damian's leg.
“How'd he do it?” He asked keeping to a light comfortable conversation until Damian was out of the room.
“I can speak for myself,” Damian growled.
“He tried to steal one of Jason's cookies by tackling him and ended up missing and falling down the stairs. The cut is from when he made impact on the banister.”
“Aw poor little D,” Dick cooed earning him a smack and an admonishment from Bruce for making Damian move.
“Right all done. Now do you want Scooby Doo or Spiderman?” Bruce asked holding up the boxes. Damian looked at them confused.
“Always go for Scooby,” Dick whispered from behind Damian. He nodded his agreement and let Bruce put the little plaster on his leg. “Wish I still got Scooby,” Dick moaned before grabbing Damian around the waist and plonking him outside Bruce's door “We have stuff to talk about so see if you can Jason and give him a kick.”
“Don't encourage him,” Bruce sighed as Dick closed the door. He turned to Clark “What are you doing here? I thought you had to have some time away?”
“I did but then Dick mentioned that you thought I was the one manipulating you in that other universe,” Clark started.
“You said you weren't gonna fight,” Dick seethed moving to stand in the middle of them.
“I'm not. I'm just going to point out that it was you who kissed me first Bruce. You were the one that instigated everything. So don't try and make me the bad guy,” he explained in a calm voice watching as Bruce's face darkened.
“Dick get out,” Bruce growled.
“No! You're not fighting. I'm not allowing it! You guys are friends why are you making so much out of this.”
“Because Clark can't accept that we may have had something on that other universe,” Bruce bit out.
“No it's because-” Clark realised what Bruce had just said “Dick get out,” he told the young vigilante and watched as he turned betrayed eyes on him “Dick,” he warned and his eyes must have been glowing because he did as Clark asked. Making sure to stomp and slam the door as he left. “Why are you angry at me?” Clark asked Bruce when they were alone.
“Why are you angry with me?” Bruce countered.
“I'm not angry. Frustrated yes because I thought that you were using me for a cover,” He moved closer to Bruce.
“I was,” Bruce admitted and held his ground.
“I thought that since we were back here that you would want to get on with your life. That what happened would be forgotten like the others have done.”
“Obviously not,” They were close now and Clark could look into those piercing blue eyes that hadn't aged a day.
“I thought that I was the only one that felt something. You never said in that other universe and it made me wonder. I thought that you were holding back telling me about our lives because you refused to mix that and this world together. That after everything I would just return to being your best friend,” He leaned down and close almost whispering those last words. Still Bruce hadn't backed off.
“You're a moron Kent,” Bruce uttered in his low guttural voice.
“I love you too,” He spoke and went in for a kiss.
Bruce's lips were harder than they had been at seventeen and his hands were rougher as they clasped his head closer to him. Clark grabbed him around the waist and sped them over to Bruce's bed letting the bat twist around him until he was on top. Bruce was still the same but different. His kisses were the same as they knew where to go to make Clark moan and God help the little cheat because he had years of playboy experience in the other world while Clark was nothing more than a virgin in comparison. But now he had some moves of his own that made little gasps emerge from Bruce much quicker than they had five months ago.
Their clothes didn't stay on too long and ended up in a sad little heap on the floor while Bruce climbed back on top of him. He kissed and sucked all the places he had learnt Clark liked back on the farm which soon reduced him to a whimpering mess.
Clark grabbed his neck and pulled on his shoulder gently to pry him away from Clark's naval and back up to his mouth.
“It's my turn,” He muttered grinning at the confused look on Bruce's face before flipping him onto his back.
There were so many scars to memorise and lick. Knife wounds that painted his thighs received a thorough suck when Bruce gasped a bit too loudly at the light touch he previously gave them. Burn scars from villains or fixing his cars on his hands were rewarded with bites and dutiful attention if only to make him squirm.
Clark was surprised that he found scars leading down his hips and followed each line and jagged mark until he reached a one on his dick.
“How did you get this?” He asked slightly nervous about the answer.
Bruce gave him his signature 'You're an idiot Kent' look before praising his eyes skyward “Er I dunno I think it might have Talia. She always liked swiping below the belt with that stupid sword,” he grumbled before almost shoving Clark's head back to his task.
Clark complied with a little nip to the tip which made Bruce growl beneath him. He loved the sounds he made. Clark took him in his mouth and held his hips down before moving to straddle a wayward leg that had thrown itself too near Clark’s head. He'd forgotten how flexible Bruce was at this age.
The position meant that Clark's own dick was receiving attention making him moan as he moved over Bruce's.
They must have been making some noise but Clark hadn't really been paying attention until the door burst open.
“I knew it was a bad idea to leave you two alone-” Dick started before grasping the scene that was in front of him.
“Out Dick!” Bruce almost yelled and watched as the startled boy ran out the door “Door!” Bruce yelled again and Clark watched amused as Dick came back with his hands over his eyes to fumble with the door. He felt hands return to his hair “Suck!” Bruce demanded the adrenalin of being caught seeming to make him harder in Clark's mouth.
He complied and soon they were both moaning their release. Clark crawled up Bruce's body planting kisses as he went until he got to his mouth.
“I love you,” He told him.
“I love you too,” Bruce said back and pulled him down next to him.
Clark lay next to him feeling like he had in the barn. Like he could fly.
“I wouldn't have done it if I didn't,” He heard Bruce say. “Love you. I wouldn't have had sex with you if I didn't feel something for you. I guess I always felt something but seeing you again in that universe something just clicked and I knew.”
“I'm glad,” Clark muttered and said 'I love you' in Kryptonian. Another thing he was happy to have back. “So what does this make us then?”
“Don't you know. You've already agreed,” Bruce said arrogantly and continued when Clark wasn't getting it “The other universe, you, all those months ago, said you would be my boyfriend,” He grinned and pulled Clark in for another kiss.