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Little Things

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It happens so casually that Clark honestly almost misses it.

He and Bruce are spending yet another sleepless night in the Batcave, poring over old casework and cataloging it for archival use.  Clark’s back is getting stiff from hunching over all the files, and when he yawns and stretches, his back pops in about five different places.

“Hmm,” Bruce says.  He stands up and wanders away from the table.  Clark has long become used to this kind of behavior, so he knows better than to ask where Bruce is going.  Instead, he squints down at his notes, flipping back a few pages to make sure he’s keeping them relatively well organized.  He would kill for a highlighter, to be honest, but Bruce won’t have any.  He takes all his notes with a keyboard because it’s “more efficient”.  

Bruce returns with two large mugs of steaming coffee, which he sets down without a word.

Clark shoots him a grateful smile (that Bruce fails to see because he’s already engrossed in his work again) and takes a sip of coffee.

“Oh,” he says, in surprise.  Bruce grunts, not looking up.  This is meant to serve as a question.  

“This is really good,” Clark says, taking a longer pull of his coffee.  Bruce grunts again, this time in a sort of “don’t talk unless it’s relevant to the casework” kind of way.

“Right,” Clark says, catching a laugh in his throat before it escapes.  “Work.  I gotcha.”

He turns back to his notes and right there, he almost misses the whole thing.  But then Bruce picks up his own mug of coffee to take a sip and the scent of it wafts in Clark’s direction and-- super senses, he can’t help it-- he realizes something.

“You’re drinking black coffee,” Clark says aloud, surprised.

Bruce actually does look up from his work this time.  He says nothing, cup frozen midway in its journey to his mouth.

“Mine’s not black,” Clark says.  “Yours is.”

Bruce stares at him, face as unreadable as ever.  

After a moment, Clark clears his throat nervously and ducks his head down to look at his work again.  Bruce sips his coffee and starts clacking away at his keyboard.

The thing is, Bruce takes his coffee black apparently, but Clark doesn’t.  And the coffee that Bruce brought for him to drink?  Isn’t black.

Clark takes another drink just to be sure, still not looking up from his notebook.  It’s perfect.  Just the right amount of milk and sugar-- which now that Clark thinks about it is awfully suspicious because he always uses one and a half packets of sugar: One isn’t enough, but two is too sweet.

Bruce knows how Clark takes his coffee.

-------

A month or so later, he makes an impromptu stop by the Cave to ask Bruce a question about a piece of tech he’s confiscated from Toyman.  He finds Bruce punching coordinates into the Batcomputer and cross-referencing them with a map of Gotham City.

“Can you take a look at this and let me know if you find anything interesting?” Clark asks, waving the item in question, a Speak ‘N Spell that seems to have been gutted and reassembled.  

Bruce nods, not missing a single keystroke.  Clark pauses, feeling slightly awkward, and ends up falling back on his midwestern smalltalk to fill the silence.

“The Cave seems colder than usual,” he offers.

“I didn’t know you were coming,” Bruce responds.  

“Oh,” Clark says.  And then, “Wait, are you saying you turn the thermostat up when you know I’m going to be here?”

“Kryptonian biology runs slightly warmer,” Bruce says, punctuating the end of his sentence with one final hit of the enter key.  “I’ll get the results of my analysis to you in the morning.”

Then he’s off, heading for the Batmobile, cape looming behind him.

--------

When the Watchtower is finished, Bruce takes the liberty of arranging the monitor duty schedule.  It ends up having to go through several drafts, with Hal requesting this day off for a date, and Diana politely informing everyone that she has that day off specifically for meditation and training purposes, and so on.

They’re on the fifth version of the schedule before Clark realizes he’s been given Saturday afternoons off every single time.

Saturday afternoons, he always flies out to see Ma and Pa.  

He’s positive he’s never mentioned that to Bruce.

--------

“Don’t you get bored, staring at all these screens for hours?” Robin chirps, turning a cartwheel here and there around the room, haphazardly and yet effortlessly dodging the equipment.

“No,” Clark says, amused.  Bruce doesn’t bring his ward up to the Satellite very often, but it’s always a treat to see him.  At the moment, Clark is watching both him and the monitors while Bruce runs a mission debriefing in the conference room.

“Hmm.”  Robin lands in a wheeled chair next to Clark.  They eye each other thoughtfully.

“Is it ever hard, living with him?” Clark asks, not quite able to stop himself from asking.  “He doesn’t seem very… warm.”

The boy purses his lips and begins to spin the chair slowly.

“It takes some getting used to,” he says, finally, letting his feet drag on the floor to bring the chair to a stop.  “He doesn’t really talk with words.”

“Then how does he talk?” Clark asks, raising one eyebrow.  Robin waves his hand dismissively.

“Oh, you know.  With little stuff.”  He spins in the chair again.  “He remembers lots of things.  My favorite food.  Sometimes he lets us end patrols on my favorite rooftop, the one where you can almost see the stars through the smog.”

“And what does that say?  In Bat-talk, I mean,” Clark says with a smile.

“Well,” Robin says, coming to a stop again.  “You have to remember.  The guy was basically raised by a butler. It’s like his way of saying he cares about you.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Clark says.  “I think that explains a lot, actually.”

Robin nods at him solemnly.

“Want to see me do a backflip off this chair?”

------------------

“You know,” Clark says, too tired and sore to bother beating around the bush, “you could just ask me out, you know.”

“Hmm,” Bruce says, pulling another sliver of kryptonite out of Clark’s hand.  His hands, delicately maneuvering the tweezers, are as steady as ever.

“Just throwing that one out there,” Clark says.  “You know.”

“I know,” Bruce says, the slightest hint of humor creeping into his voice.  He sets the piece of kryptonite into a small lidded box.

“Okay,” Clark says.  “Because I’d say yes.  For the record.”

“Duly noted,” Bruce says.  He pulls out another fragment of crystal.  

“Would you say yes?”  Clark asks, suddenly nervous that he’s gotten this all wrong.

“I’m not… proficient at relationships.”  Bruce says.  “People tend to find me ill suited to the role of romantic partner.”

He finishes pulling out the last piece and closes the small lead box.  Clark flexes his hand, feeling the pain ebb away as he heals.

“You didn’t answer the question,” he points out.  “Would you say yes?”

“Against my better judgment,” Bruce starts to say, and he looks so grumpy at having to admit that he likes Clark that Clark can’t help laughing.

“We should get coffee sometime,” Clark says.  “My treat.”

“Do you ask the barista for one and half sugar packets?” Bruce somehow manages to ask with a straight face, and well, Clark basically has to kiss him for that one.