Clark flew out of Metropolis, leaving the shining city behind him as he headed out to the surrounding countryside.
The warmth of the sun on his face was pure nirvana, power tingling along his nerves as he flew. Wisps of clouds kissed his skin and hair, clinging briefly, then dissolved like cotton candy. Birds flew in strict formation or in pairs, a few strays boldly flying alone. Trees reached up to the sky, solid oaks and sturdy maples and willowy ash. Their leaves looked silvery as the wind blew through their branches, and squirrels dashed madly about as daffodils and tulips lifted their faces to the sun.
Clark listened to the songs of robins, mockingbirds, and orioles; heard the whisper of the wind and the chatter of mice and the buzz of insects. He smelled freshly-mown grass and tasted sunshine on his tongue, the smell of recently-turned rich earth reminding him strongly of home.
He was planning to visit Smallville very soon, but he had a stop to make first.
He left the broad, flat plains of the Midwest and entered the hilly, rockier ground of the Northeast, gradually flying over countryside with similar farms (though smaller) and a multitude of trees and flowers. Mountains loomed in purple majesty, a smile quirking his mouth at the line from America, The Beautiful.
The city of Gotham was proud as her spires jutted up to the sky, the old Gothic architecture still a marvel. Raucous and edgy, her sounds were quite different from gleaming, futuristic Metropolis: more horns honked, more curses flung, and more gunshots fired, but Metropolis had her share of grit and darkness. Gotham was just more honest about it.
He left the city environs and flew on toward the sea, grand mansions beginning to appear, old and stately and quiet with Old Money, not like the nouveau riche mansions that screamed their wealth.
Clark liked the old mansions, their grounds perfectly-manicured and riotous with color. The gardens his parents tended around the farm were allowed to run wild, as they preferred the natural look, which Clark liked, too, but he could appreciate English boxwood and neatly-clipped hedges.
Wayne Manor appeared in view, the grandest of them all.
The oldest of the mansions, it was beautiful and dignified in its stone grandeur. It held secrets even beyond that of the Bat’s, stretching back centuries. It was solid and impressive and aristocratic, just like Bruce.
Clark descended into the woods surrounding the Manor and changed, adjusting his glasses as he stepped out of the shadowed forest into the sunlight. He strode with an easy gait to the front door and rang the doorbell.
It was almost immediately opened by Alfred, who smiled. “Ah, so very good to see you, Master Clark.”
“Thank you, Alfred.”
“Master Bruce is in the garden.”
Clark walked with familiarity through the foyer and kitchen and out to the backyard.
The gardens were a profusion of color, bright reds and pinks and yellows. Greenery framed it all, from the lush lawn to hedges and shrubs and trees.
Bruce was standing by the water fountain, the classic Greek nude tipping a vase, placid in his marble beauty.
Bruce rivaled that statue, a picture of beauty clad in a light-blue shirt and tan pants as he gazed out at the ocean. A light breeze ruffled his hair, and Clark felt warmth spread through him at the sight of his beautiful lover.
“Good morning, Bruce.”
“Ah, good morning, Clark.” Bruce turned with a smile, and Clark was kissing him in the next second. Bruce laughed when they separated, his midnight-blue eyes sparkling. “Would you like some tea? I know a mid-morning coffee break usually has coffee, but Alfred has brewed some really outstanding Earl Grey.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Their fingers entwined as they walked to the round, white table close to the seawall. A yellow-and-white striped umbrella shaded them from the sun.
“The view is always magnificent here,” Clark murmured. He turned to look at Bruce, who caught his look and blushed. Clark laughed. It wasn’t often that he could get the Bat to blush!
Clark felt at peace here, similar to what he felt at home on the farm in Smallville. Wildly different in their places of upbringing, somehow the homes of the two of them shared some of the same qualities.
Alfred came out with a silver pot of tea, delicate hand-painted teacups with roses and the Wayne family crest, and small gingerbread cakes.
“Mmm, these are freshly-baked,” Clark observed, mouth watering.
“Quite so, Master Clark. Do enjoy.”
“Oh, I will!”
Bruce merely shook his head at his lover’s insatiable appetite, but took a square for himself while Clark grinned.
Alfred returned to the kitchen and Clark savored the gingerbread. Alfred truly did give his mother a run for her money in the cooking and baking department. Bruce was spoiled rotten.
“What are you smirking about?”
“Oh.” Clark’s eyes sparkled like the whitecaps on the ocean. “You’re spoiled rotten.”
An eyebrow quirked, but Bruce didn’t deny it. Clark laughed again.
As the sound of the ocean washed over him, he heard a mockingbird’s call and looked up at the garden, shading his eyes.
The sun shimmered, and his imagination saw properly-dressed Victorian ladies and gentlemen playing croquet, genteel and flirting. Clark smiled. Alfred had told him about the house parties and other events of the era, and Clark liked to think of the spirits of those ancestors still loving Wayne Manor, just as generations of Kents still loved the farm.
Clark turned and saw Bruce’s fond expression. “You were off somewhere.”
Clark glanced back at the fading croquet players. “Yes, I was.” He turned back to look at Bruce. “Just enjoying the view.”
Bruce shook his head but his eyes were twinkling. “Did I tell you that Lucius had me come in yesterday for a Board showdown?”
“Really?” Clark sipped his coffee. “He usually takes care of that stuff, doesn’t he?”
“Mostly, but this time he needed the big gun of a Wayne.” Bruce’s smile was almost predatory. “We won.”
Clark laughed. “I’d expect nothing less.” He took another bite of gingerbread. “We had a pretty interesting staff meeting yesterday, come to think of it. Perry reamed out our newest reporter who’d come over from The Chicago Tribune and thought he could just run roughshod over our younger staffers. The guy learned pretty quick that Perry doesn’t suffer big-headed fools gladly.”
Bruce grinned. “I like Perry. Shoots-from-the-hip and runs that paper like a dictatorship.”
Clark laughed again. “True! But he does listen to his reporters. He’s just like Lincoln polling his Cabinet and getting a bunch of ‘No’ votes and his vote was ‘Yes’, and so ‘Yes’ carried the day.”
“Dick aced that paper on Krypton.”
“Oh, that’s great! I know it was safe for him to do since some of the details have already been published.”
“Lois has done a good job with that, and you, too, Mr. Kent.”
Clark smiled. “Well, it doesn’t hurt to talk about the Jewel Mountains or the Scarlet Jungle and other things. I don’t speak about Kandor or other things that I’d rather keep private.”
“It’s a way for Krypton to live on, though.”
Clark nodded as he watched a seagull fly backlit against the sun. “Kara is a good source for me. She never knew Krypton, either, having been born in Argo City, but she had a Kryptonian upbringing.”
“She’s adapted well to Earth.”
They continued their easy conversation, Clark relaxed and Bruce in the same frame of mind. The Manor’s resident robin swooped down low over the table, both men grinning. Clark finished his gingerbread, then glanced at his watch.
“I have a deadline on my story, so I better get back to my desk.”
“Of course.” Bruce checked his own watch. “Lucius will be calling me soon, too.”
They stood and Clark took Bruce into his arms, kissing him sweetly on the lips.
“’Til tonight,” he said softly.
“See you then,” Bruce said in a matching tone.
Clark smiled and waved to Alfred at the kitchen window, then disappeared at super-speed, changing into Superman.
A beautiful day for a coffee/tea break by the sea.