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It is the ultimate irony.

Bruce comments on it, once, in that dry, wary way he has, that with his powers he could so easily take over the world. And they have seen what can happen when Clark wants to take over the world. It’s happened in other dimensions, in other universes. And Bruce is one of the few who’s recognised that look in Clark’s eyes when the crisis-of-the-year seems too hard to handle. When Clark lets go of his finer feelings and really thinks about ‘truth’ and ‘justice’.

The truth is that no one has the raw power or the fury of Superman. Batman is capable of pulling him down but only because he knows the man. Strip away the man, and even the Batman stands on shaky ground.

It’s a good thing that Clark doesn’t want to take over the world.

It just frustrates him.

All his strength, and he relies on words. Clark Kent in his articles, Superman in his pleas to the UN, Kal-el in his missives to inter-galactic councils – they all talk and talk and talk, and so often no one listens. Consumed by their own petty problems and natures and Clark, so strong and powerful, forces himself not to bang heads to get some attention.

He copes with it, in the way that he’s coped with things all his life. He rationalises it to himself, and when rationality whispers that less talking and more action could bring order to the world, he shoves it away to the back of his mind and ignores it.

Bruce is the one who calls him on it.

“I find it hard to believe you’ve never thought of it,” Bruce says clearly.

Clark is too tired and dispirited to flush. Just looks away, jaw tight. “You know why I wouldn’t. That isn’t what I want.”

Bruce chuckles, a rare sound given the kevlar and cowl protecting his humanity. “Oh, I know you choose not to. Yet.”

He has thought about it – he’s thought about ruling the world.

And part of the reason he doesn’t is because he knows he could conquer it, but he isn’t sure about ruling it. Words, words, words, and semantics, but he doesn’t want a ruined planet with a few feeble signs of life. He just wants people to keep the law and do the right thing. He isn’t even like Bruce, who wants to stop crime; he wants to stop evil. Pain and misery and how is he supposed to fight unemployment, or poverty, or depression?

He looks at Bruce and thinks of how different the world would be if Bruce’s parents had died in a car accident. No one to blame, no murder to solve, and yet the trauma still there. Would Bruce be what he is now, or would he be worse? Would he be like Clark, fighting evil instead of crime?

Clark likes to think that Bruce would have healed more in his childhood. Would have had his inevitable wild period in his teens, broken out of his rich boy’s cocoon to see the world, and then would have come back to rule Gotham as he does now with his money and his intellect and his iron will. But, and here Clark truly believes, Bruce would have undertaken this journey in his own skin, without a blank mask where his features shape his face.

Bruce watches him while he thinks of it, and he knows Bruce has absolutely no power to read minds but he wonders sometimes if Bruce suspects that Clark would give anything to remove a fragile human from this fight.

He doesn’t say it, of course. He doesn’t want to end the friendship they have. And sadly Bruce’s pride and arrogance will not bend to forgiveness on this subject. They rarely do on any subject.

Bruce watches him steadily, and then says, “There are other ways, of course. Outlets for frustration.”

“What?”

“And,” Bruce continues, raising binoculars to scan the building down the street, “A way to get a little taste of what you fear. Build up an immunity, so to speak.”

Clark doesn’t know why he plays these games but he lays low on a rooftop in Gotham at dead of night and waits for details.

Apparently, it’s all very simple. Bruce offers him access to an apartment, a warm body, and privacy.

Clark would love to say that he doesn’t understand what’s being offered but he does. He isn’t stupid, and Bruce does seem to fit a certain personality type, though until this moment Clark’s never believed him truly capable of acting on it.

He is furious, and a part of him wants to shake the Batman until he finds out where this apartment is so he can drag the unfortunate out and set her free.

Principles, principles, and naiveté.

“He won’t be unwilling,” Bruce says, uncannily perceptive as always.

“He won’t be willing either.”

“He doesn’t know you to care one way or the other. But if I send you, you will be the centre of his universe while you’re in that apartment.”

Clark doesn’t respond to that. “You’ve got company coming from the East.”

He takes off and leaves the Bat to his machinations.

But the words take root, and then they grow, and then they flower. Truthfully, he’s always been curious.

The use of pronouns surprises him a little. Bruce has never hinted at liking men, but Clark Kent researches the phenomenon a little and assumes the divide between sexual domination and romantic love might well occupy a gender bias in Bruce’s complex needs.

And then he wonders at the kind of man Bruce would keep. Someone quiet, certainly, and alone. Someone physically easy to overpower. But maybe someone with spirit, with a bit of fire. To train someone to subsume themselves for your pleasure would require a personality worth the challenge.

For Bruce, he qualifies, and doesn’t look too closely at the qualification.

It shifts and writhes in him, not especially painful but uncomfortable.

Before the month is out he returns to Bruce and says, “When can you arrange it?”

His rationale is that he will inspect the set-up. Have a look at this ‘warm body’ Bruce so casually provides access to, and make sure that this is not a situation in which he needs to intervene. Make sure that his knowledge of Bruce isn’t flawed.

Bruce is silent for a moment and then the address and a time are forthcoming.

“There are three rules,” Bruce says tersely, “One, he is not to be permanently marked or damaged. No decorative scars, no tattoos, and no piercings. Any broken bones or substantial injuries will be treated. Two, he is not to leave the apartment. If there’s an emergency, I will contact you. Three, his mask will not be removed.”

Clark is not prepared for the sudden bolt of heat down his spine. “Mask?”

“You don’t need to think about who he was, or what he looks like. He is exactly what I called him – a warm body to be used.”

Clark bites down and then carefully eases off the pressure. “Accepted,” he says.

Bruce hangs up first. As always.

The apartment block is old but sturdy, not pretty but obviously maintained – a benefit of housing Bruce Wayne’s dirty little secret.

He passes the building first, ears tuned to any sounds from within. He doesn’t imagine that Bruce would risk his secrecy without taking the precaution of soundproofing, and possibly buying out the neighbouring flats, but he is still surprised to hear exactly one heartbeat in that building. The entire building is emptied, he realises, and a part of him is furious that Bruce can be so cavalier about property when the homeless shelters of Gotham are packed to capacity.

It isn’t enough to simply throw money at the shelters and build a new one every five years.

He shakes his head and tightens his lips, the frustration stoked up to boiling point now.

He climbs the stairs and then stops outside the door.

He knocks, and when no one answers, he frowns and tries the handle. It twists open easily, and there is no lock on the door at all.

He pushes it open and then there he is. For a moment, his breath catches.

Clark’s thought about it a few times, yes, and admittedly he’s been curious for a few years at least. But even with his research, he isn’t prepared by the slam of confusion that hits him at the sight of the perfectly still figure kneeling in the centre of the room.

It’s covered from head to toe in black leather. He can smell the material. And everything is covered included fingers and feet and eyes and ears.

The pattern of zips, however, alerts him to the fact that he has instant access to mouth, chest, groin, and – though he can’t actually see this one – probably ass.

He need never uncover the figure at all. He could simply take his pleasure, treat it like a doll to be idly toyed with, and then leave. He wouldn’t even need to hurt it or test it or anything.

The thought revolves around his brain, and he kicks the door shut with his heel.

He can hear its heartbeat pick up, and can see it start. Just a small twitch of muscle.

He gets no vocal greeting – probably because the mask is zipped closed over the mouth – and he doesn’t offer one. He decides he just doesn’t feel like it. And here, he doesn’t even need to.

He looks around and the apartment is all bare white walls, with tinted windows and bare wooden floors. The furniture, though, is beautifully made in heavy wood and thick, soft fabric. There are metal hooks in the ceiling, he realises, and the thought of what they could be used for makes him suddenly aware of his own skin beneath his clothes.

The figure stays very still.

He can hear the breathing hitch just a little. Fear, he thinks, and the thought appals him until he realises that it’s permissible here. Probably even wanted. Fear of his control, where fear equals respect of a kind.

The darkness wells up from nowhere and he circles, hovering a little to take away the sound of his footsteps on the floorboards.

The figure stays still. On its knees, knees spread wide, hands flat on the tensed thighs, back straight, head down. Unable to see, taste, hear or feel. Smell, yes, because Bruce clearly prefers his warm bodies breathing rather than dead. Clark shares that preference.

He touches back down to the floor behind the figure and then reaches out to run a finger from the top of the head down to the base of the skull.

The figure startles but stays still, an explosive inhalation all the signs that it is affected.

Clark moves around it – walking, this time – dragging his finger around from base of the skull to the joint of the jaw beneath its ear, down the jaw to its chin, and then up to touch the zipper.

He undoes it slowly, more to hear the sound than see it, and growls softly as the revealed strip of skin shows him more than he anticipated.

The mouth is gagged beneath the now-opened zipper, the rubber ball insert bright red and pushing the lips open wide. He wonders how he didn’t notice the unnatural, painful stretch to that jaw before.

“Does this come out?” he asks, but doesn’t wait for an answer before he works a finger in alongside.

It makes a sound of reaction but holds still. Even tries to open wider in response. He blinks when the ball doesn’t feel the way it should just around the curve, but he works it out as best he can without damaging anything along the way. And he stares, as the ball brings along a long dildo with it, the whole clearly having been stuffed down an unresisting throat.

For who knew, he thought to himself, how many hours. Days? Was that possible for the human body?

It makes another sound, a pitiable little whine, and licks its lips.

Soft-looking lips, currently bruised and blanched and a little chapped. He bends down and licks them experimentally himself.

It seems surprised, and he wonders if Bruce bothers to kiss the mouth he apparently thinks he owns.

It isn’t his concern, though. Clark isn’t here to redeem anyone. He isn’t here to be a hero; he’s here to be a dictator. A conquering force. To take a taste of the poison and remember why he doesn’t want to rule the world.

In the spirit of callous disregard, he pulls himself out half hard and pushes into the open mouth. It’s sticky with saliva and clumsy from holding position for so long but the minute his dick goes in, it seems to be galvanised. He doesn’t want to consider what that says about either of them. Or the three of them, if he counts Bruce’s absent but eternally-looming shadow.

His dick is worked with technical skill, and then, when he puts a hand on its head and shoves down its throat, with sloppy enthusiasm. He prefers the enthusiasm, and uses his hold to set a pace he likes.

He doesn’t want to reach orgasm too early, however.

He pulls back on a whim, and watches those lips purse around his flesh and then try to follow to keep contact before he stops it with a warning squeeze to the back of the neck. Thick leather or not, the bones beneath are fragile and he is the World’s Strongest Man; he could snap that neck right now if he wanted.

But, he reflects, and is surprised at himself for even proceeding with the thought, he hasn’t had a chance to play with it yet. And he isn’t about to damage it before that happens.

He leaves it there, mouth open and drawing in shallow lungfuls of air while he explores the rest of the apartment.

There’s a kitchen, with a stocked fridge and a stove and obsessively organised cupboards and drawers. He thoughtfully eyes the saucepan in the cupboard and looks at the print-out of a meal plan which is the only thing stuck to the fridge with plain round black magnets.

Even the food, he realises, is controlled. What it eats, when it eats, and how it eats.

He finds the bathroom – also obsessively organised – with a toothbrush, a single tube of toothpaste, hand soap, bath soap, lubricant and a fully stocked medical kit. Burn salve, topical anaesthetic, disinfectant, bandaids, bandages, joint support, aspirin and heating and cooling pads. The white tile is spotlessly clean, and in the bath, there is a single hook near the shower head that he wonders about until he finds the enema kit.

The bedroom is... not what he has been expecting.

He was expecting black silk sheets and debauchery all over the place. He gets a standard king bed with plain linen sheets and a comforter, meticulously made – he does briefly consider checking for hospital corners – and discreetly located hooks, sliding panels and a cupboard. There is a straight-backed chair in one corner, inexplicably turned to face the wall, and a set of polished metal cuffs already attached to the headboard and hung on the posts.

It’s the other room that finally gets him what he wants.

This, he supposes, is the toy room.

Over there is the Saint Andrew’s cross, on that wall is a plethora of whips and floggers. He looks at the bullwhip and wonders what it would feel like to wield it. There are coils of rough hemp rope and thin silk cords laid neatly in bundles in a box. There is a chair that, once he’s looked at it for a couple of minutes, he realises looks like a chair in a gynaecologist’s office. There are stirrups for feet and hydraulics to raise it, though the addition of leather restraints for arms, thighs, chest and head are definitely additions.

In the middle of the room is a wooden horse made of raw, heavy wood, bolted to the floor.

The cabinet contains an organised set of smaller tools. He recognises the clamps and weights, the thin leather straps and handcuffs. He even recognises the thick black collar and the series of gags. He doesn’t quite know what to make of a roll of cloth that reveals a set of small metal probes. They’re too thin for anal insertion and he can’t imagine what else they’re to be used for.

He finds the dildos in a heavy wooden chest against the wall, once again neatly laid out in order of size, but somehow colour coordinated as if Bruce’s black humour has had fun figuring ways to make the collection aesthetically pleasing.

Clark feels a little sick, and he feels a little distant, but some part of him wants to know. He wants to use the bullwhip, and tighten the clamps, and watch the weights swing. He wants to see muscle bulge beneath the skin and black leather when the rope won’t give. He wants to smell fear and sweat and panic, and hear the scream of pain.

It isn’t who he is, but it’s close to what he is capable of.

He goes back to the find it still kneeling exactly where he’s left it and the sight annoys him just a little, because no one should be that obedient. No one should be that... controlled.

“Get up,” he says, and wonders if he should shout it for more effect. Or if he should deepen his voice and sound menacing.

The slave does what he asks – only what he asks – and it doesn’t seem to matter what voice he uses because either way, he will get what he wants. If he asks for it. If he doesn’t, well, the slave isn’t here to think about his pleasure.

He thinks possibly only Bruce Wayne could give him a method of relief that frustrates him to no end.

That night, all he does is make it walk, make it wait, and in the end use its mouth. He sits on the couch, relaxed and at peace, and watches while those lips and that tongue works him over and over. It doesn’t last as long as he’d like but it’s a taste, at least.

He leaves without a word, and then waits across the street, wondering if anyone else will follow on his heels. Perversely wondering if Bruce will turn up to check on his convenient warm body, possibly kitted out in full Bat regalia. He pictures it in his head, and can’t help wondering what Batman chooses to do in the privacy of the secure apartment.

He turns his back resolutely that night but three nights later he meets Bruce at the Watchtower, and the tilt of a smirk he gets resigns him to the inevitable conversation he will have to instigate, if only to figure out what scheme Bruce has stewing in his head.

“No scheme,” Bruce says, “No strings.” The cowl turns slightly. “I’m surprised you didn’t ‘release him into the wild’ or whatever it is boy scouts do.”

“You’d only catch him again,” Clark shrugs.

Bruce looks surprised but approving and nods. “Almost right, but yes.”

They talk around the issue for a few minutes and then Batman turns off whatever it is he’s watching and turns to Superman with a rather more intense challenge in the hard lines of his mouth.

“Indulging your darker impulses was meant to confront them and fight them,” Bruce says slowly, “If I offer you this chance, is that what you will do?”

Clark thinks about it, and then sighs. He hangs his head and says, “I can’t guarantee anything, except that I don’t want to be that person.”

He can see Bruce’s blue eyes behind the unleaded visors, and the assessing stare is formidably pessimistic.

“If I said you could never do that again, you wouldn’t care,” Bruce challenges.

Clark stiffens. “I didn’t know doing it at all was an option.”

He doesn’t want to be that person, but he does want to do it again. He just doesn’t feel like doing it in public, with the whole world at stake. Somewhere safe, behind closed doors, and with a consenting adult – yes, he would be interested. He is fully prepared for Bruce to deny him that, of course.

Bruce gives him full access.

“Inform me twenty four hours in advance,” he says, “And I’ll arrange it.”

“Twenty four hours feels like a long time ahead. What if I don’t want to wait?”

“Then try a club,” Bruce says acerbically, “Use the time to figure out how to set your scenes.”

“Scenes?” Clark blinks.

Bruce sighs. “Your... program of events, if you want. If you want mundane relaxation, I suppose that’s acceptable, but the situation involves a lot more. This is about control. Trust, if you want that too.”

“Trust.”

“He has to trust you not to kill him.”

Clark blanches. “I would never...”

Bruce holds up a hand. “You won’t, but you can. A body is easy to get rid of.”

Clark’s brow creases.

“Second thoughts, Superman?”

He shakes his head slowly. “Can I talk to him?”

“You can talk to him. He won’t answer.”

“He’s mute?”

“No,” Bruce says, and Clark can hear the frown in his voice, “I don’t let him talk.”

“When was the last time he spoke?”

Bruce shrugs. “I’ve had that apartment for a year. He’s been with me for a few years before that.”

“He hasn’t spoken for years?”

“He hasn’t been allowed to speak,” Bruce corrects, “It’s a lesson he learnt gradually. I allow any sort of vocalisation that does not contain words in any language.”

Clark imagines what it’s like, to say nothing to anyone, to be alone and locked into his own head for years on end.

“That’s insane,” he breathes.

“It’s one of my rules. He knew that going in. He consented to every major change in his life. I’m not inhuman,” Bruce adds, voice growing quieter.

Clark doesn’t know how to take that.

It takes him a month to reconcile himself to the horrifying image Bruce painted. To be that sort of person, to have that level of control. He’s not sure he can.

But in the end, he does.

Bruce is busy so he gets only a grunt of acknowledgement on the phone.

He goes to the apartment the next evening, and it’s there, where it was before, kneeling on the hard, bare floorboards covered in leather from head to toe.

The gag is still in place and Clark yanks it out with more finesse this time, throwing it carelessly to the floor before he pulls the head close to his groin and lets it mouth at him through the cloth of his trousers.

“Pull the zip down,” he orders calmly, but doesn’t expect it to use its teeth instead of its hands.

He likes that, actually, and rewards it with a deep groan as that dry, bruised mouth brushes across his rapidly hardening cock.

“Suck,” he says, voice roughened, and it swallows him down as if it’s only been waiting for permission.

There is no zip for the eyes, so he wonders briefly what colour its eyes are. He contemplates looking anyway but doesn’t. Instead he traces the trapped ears beneath the hood and pinches experimentally at the delicate ridge of cartilage.

He gets a low hum of contentment and the deep, sweet shifts of throat muscle flexing against the sensitive head of his cock.

He pulls away and, like the time before, is fascinated by how the lips purse to let him out, and how they try to follow to keep contact as long as possible.

He undresses himself because the slave clearly can’t see to do it, and walks around the kneeling figure, wondering what to do with it. He wants to do quite a bit, but he hasn’t made any plans. He hasn’t formulated any ‘scenes’, and he isn’t entirely confident in his ability to balance pleasure and pain.

Until he realises that it doesn’t matter, not truly.

So he starts by lifting it roughly by the arm. It isn’t difficult for a kryptonian who lifts sinking cruise ships out of the ocean, but the slave is surprisingly heavier than he expects. There is dense muscle beneath the thin, shiny leather.

And he stops for a minute just to trace the planes of flesh with his fingertips. He measures the height as well and finds they’re not dissimilar. The slave has its head down, but he is tall and broad-shouldered and muscular in a lithe, sleek way that doesn’t fit Clark’s impression of what Bruce would find appealing.

He hesitates a little, but then locates the hidden zip that goes all the way down the back. He pulls it down, pushes the leather aside, and then freezes.

The pattern of scars is chaotic but thick, stark white against pale, sunlight-starved skin. There are burn scars and thin, white cuts. There are what appear to be savage bites.

He bends it over a little at the waist, just to see that back exposed in the overhead light.

“What the hell does he do to you?” he murmurs.

He doesn’t expect an answer, and he doesn’t get it. There are also a few marks that are thicker than the thin, overly straight scars he considers were made by a knife. He wonders if those are from the whip, and thinks of it, imagines that in his head, the bullwhip cutting hard enough to tear skin open.

Once again it sickens and fascinates him.

Human skin is fragile, so easily bruised and torn and strained.

He pulls the suit off with less than gentle efficiency, watching sweat-sticky leather come away from skin with a kind of detached remoteness. For one thing, he is interested in the lack of hair. The male genitals – and Clark reaches around the sharp jut of a hip to check – look defenceless and odd without the pubic hair he’s expecting to find.

He rubs his fingers over the soft, flaccid penis and then reaches down to tug carefully at the sac. There’s a small start in the broad, muscular frame pressed back against his chest in the circle of his arms, and he watches with some bemusement while blood starts to fill the prominent veins.

“So you like that,” he murmurs, more to himself, than anyone else, and pumps the growing erection experimentally.  

Another twitch against his chest and he gets an idea.

He takes it into the toy room. It follows without resistance, and waits there while he opens the cabinet to find what he knows he’s seen in there. He locates it in a set, on the second shelf from the top, and the ring still manages to slide down the rapidly hardening cock with a minimum of discomfort.

He adds a collar and leash to that leather-covered neck, since he doesn’t feel like leading it around by the elbow every time he wants to move it.

It lifts its chin to help him buckle it on.

He stands there and looks over his handiwork and there’s a kind of satisfaction. What he’s got, he thinks to himself, is really just a doll. Like barbies or those paper dolls he remembers Lana used to have when they were kids. A humanoid object, really, that he needs to dress to whatever whim suits his fancy.

The expanse of pale, exposed skin is just waiting for him to make his own mark.

Bruce calls him a boy scout, but boy scouts aren’t angels, and Clark does have a competitive streak. Bruce says no permanent marks are to be made but they’ve always been competitive, and Clark indulges sometimes in the need to pull on the Batman’s pointy little graphite ears.

On impulse he takes down a pair of crocodile-teeth clips. He’s never used them before, but a quick check on the sensitive webbing between his own thumb and forefinger at superspeed tells him it’s not hard. The pair is connected by a thin metal chain between and he wastes very little time attaching them to the small, brown nipples. Again, he does it at superspeed, just to see the reaction.

The slave lets out a little groan as metal teeth bite into sensitive flesh almost at the same time. But there is very little reaction beyond that.

Clark gives a mental shrug. And reaches for yet another object.

The weight goes onto the chain smoothly, but again, there is little reaction. He raises an eyebrow and reaches for another. And another.

The fourth one he chooses is deliberately larger than the first three. It’s in aid of a decisive victory, and he is honestly not sure what he’s trying to achieve but if whatever Bruce has done makes everything he’s trying fairly ordinary, then he’s willing to put a bit more work into this. He gets it attached to the already taunt chain, but he supports the weight itself in the palm of his other hand for a few seconds, savouring the moment before he lets it go.

Its nipples already look tortured, and he can hear it breathing harder behind the mask, but he wants the reaction. He wants a groan, or a cry, or better yet a scream. He doesn’t think he’s likely to get the latter yet, but he’s determined to crack its controlled discipline.

He lets the weight drop.

He gets a cry. A hoarse, choked-off shout. But the broad chest is thrust out as if to claim more pain, and the hips give an aborted stutter of a thrust as if the pain is pleasure, and Clark is truly fascinated now.

He doesn’t understand these reactions at all.

He waits and watches while shudders ripple up the rib cage. He listens to the thrum of blood, the rapid expansion of the lungs coping with ragged inhalations and exhalations while he breathes in the sharp tang of sweat and lust.

The slave keeps his arms down at his side, never moving them.

He nods once, approvingly, though he knows it can’t see him.

He thinks about that too, unable to connect the real world except through taste, sound and the explosive sensations inflicted on its fragile human skin.

He takes the leash and leads it to the wooden horse in the centre of the room. Bends it down along the beam, and undoes the clamp on one nipple.

The slave gasps, but he is going to be a little crueller. He presses the chest down, passes the chain under the wood, and re-clamps it.

This time he gets a whimper. Then again, this time gravity’s working to add an extra twist to the weights.

He ties its wrists off to the frame, and moves to what he’s been curious about.

There are no marks on its buttocks. No whip marks, knife marks, bruises – nothing. He wonders if this part of its anatomy doesn’t interest Bruce and thinks maybe it doesn’t, given Bruce’s primary focus on ‘scenes’ and the dismissive intonation of ‘only sex’.

Maybe, he thinks, Bruce doesn’t actually fuck his slave.

He cups the curves of that pale, unmarked skin and squeezes. Then allows his control to slip just enough to set real bruises into the flesh.

He pulls away in satisfaction, wondering how long it will take to have the imprint of his hands show up, and how long those bruises will last.

He decides that he isn’t in the mood to complicate matters too far. He retrieves a bottle of lubricant from the bedside drawer and sets to work to stretch the anal ring.

The slave is unbelievably tight, and even sinking one finger in to the first knuckle causes a slew of muscular tremors across the expanse of its scarred back. The second finger gets knot-hard tension. The third finger gets a pained whisper of breathe.

He fucks it anyway, once the muscle’s stretched enough.

His conscience isn’t absent in any of it. He does try to be gentle, if unstoppable, and he makes sure he doesn’t actually injure the man. The tight heat is better than its throat, and Clark feels a little foolish at first, trying to find an angle that works, and wondering if it should even matter.

But once his desire starts to drive his hips, he reaches around from passing curiosity and is startled to find its dick swollen and dripping, clearly more involved in the sex than he has anticipated. It feeds his ego and sends a burst of adrenaline through his blood stream and he growls as he fists the hard length faster than any human can manage.

It chokes and whines and then unbelievably starts to push back to meet each thrust. A low bass rumble of need shivering out of its mouth and Clark knows – knows! – that the weights are swinging beneath its chest, and the pain is possibly increasing even as the pleasure builds.

The thought shouldn’t make him so desperate, he despairs, because now his control is starting to slip, and he can feel the frame creak alarmingly, feel how hard he’s gripping those sharp hips, digging his fingers against the bone and pushing in until he isn’t sure he can help causing injuries.

But when he unexpectedly changes the angle of his thrusts, the body beneath him spasms like he’s touched it with a live wire.

A keening wail bursts out of the throat and he shouts himself before he focuses enough to hit that spot again and again and again.

When it’s over, his conscience smacks him across the face and he almost can’t get stagger upright fast enough. His knees feel weak and his rapid pull-out of orgasm-clenched flesh gets him a short gasp. He doesn’t bother to unknot the ties before he yanks them off, and then slowly, carefully eases the clamps off.

It hisses, not that he blames it. The nipples are engorged with blood, with white dents where the teeth have cut in too hard and too deep.

He opens his mouth to ask what he can do to help but some failsafe in his head stops him before he can say the words. His help isn’t what he’s here to give. He isn’t here to redeem anyone, nor is he here to save anyone.

All he has to do is take what he wants and make sure he doesn’t break the merchandise.

His mouth twists in distaste at the bitter flood of self-hatred but he lifts the frail human body as easily in his arms as a baby. He deposits it on the bed in the next room, and briefly rests his hand on the covered top of its head.

Then he leaves.

He wants to be the kind of person who can’t stand the sight of himself after what he’s done but his dreams that night are dark and sinful, lust hidden underneath the curling flex of pale skin and scars. In the morning, he’s hard as a rock and it’s all too easy to close his eyes and imagine what else he can do in the privacy of a secure apartment.

He faces his own enjoyment easily enough. He can’t quite bring himself to face Bruce.

It’s fortunate that he doesn’t need to. Bruce goes to ground, and a week later it emerges that Gotham has reached yet another critical pressure point and the Batman’s uncanny skills are needed for emergency after emergency, crisis after crisis, shouldering the heaviest burden because he can’t truly trust the danger to any of his most trusted allies.

Clark has a few notable events in Metropolis but nothing on the same scale. Mostly, his day is cut out dealing with League business, now that the League’s chief strategist is otherwise occupied.

He isn’t as simple as people believe he is, and his discoveries at the fortress give him access to knowledge far beyond the scope of the Batman’s ‘toys’. He doesn’t have Bruce’s creativity with technology or operating systems, of course, and doesn’t come close to the technopathy some of their fellow heroes enjoy, but he does know his way around and he does understand people.

More importantly, he knows how to manipulate people without issuing a direct order.

He doesn’t think Bruce has ever truly practised how to be ‘an ordinary human’ in his life. He has, and he barely notices the strain of it anymore.

Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and the Batman finally comes back to the Watchtower, ostensibly to check the same archives he has access to from his Bat Cave.

In reality, he’s there for the same reason Clark needs to fly to outer orbit occasionally – to look down on the planet and put things in perspective.

Sometimes, it’s just to remind themselves that the world hasn’t ended. More often, it’s to consider the ways in which the latest battle signals the next fluctuation in their eternal battle against crime and evil.

“You survived,” is all Clark says about the tumult of breaking news that’s come out of Gotham in the last two weeks.

Batman looks exactly as he always does, but he moves ever so slightly awkwardly, as if favouring an injured left leg. “What’s the status report?” he asks.

And they go back to normal.

It’s at least another month before Clark is comfortable calling Bruce again.

He enters the apartment in exactly the same way, and things begin exactly as he likes, with that warm mouth sucking him as if this is the only thing in the world that matters.

Perhaps it does, he contemplates, staring sightlessly at the tinted window, perhaps this is everything the slave was put on earth to do.

The fantasy is nice. It kindles a little bit of that smoky darkness that still intoxicates his dreams on rare nights when he isn’t dreaming of bloodshed and fighting and illogical cruelty.

This is restful, just being here, indulging himself with no need to consider what he looks like, or what he says. He can say nothing at all, and no one will care. He doesn’t have to hunch and make himself look smaller; he doesn’t even have to pretend to be human.

He starts to hover, looking down to see what effect this will have on the kneeling slave.

He inches up incrementally, until the slave is kneeling upright, head lifted, neck craning up to keep the barest tip of his cock between its lips.

He laughs, a sound usually meant to reassure people and inspire friendship, and he touches back down and steps away.

“Up,” he says, and walks to the toy room.

He can hear a slightly ungainly rise behind him, and he stops, looking over his shoulders with a light frown, to see the slave get back into perfect posture.

A thought forms, and without thinking too hard about it he says, “You will have to be punished for that. Come on.”

He keeps his tone mild, unable to maintain any large presence of threat or intimidation. He already has supreme power; he doesn’t feel the need to advertise it any more than he feels the need to hold it back.

The slave walks towards the sound of his voice, and then slows down uncertainly as it approaches. He wonders how it manages without vision but dismisses that curiosity for another day.

He keeps things simple – he pulls the zip apart at the groin and arranges a simple cock and ball harness. Then he zips it up again. He undoes the zip against its chest and attaches a set of clamps. He is interested by the instant shiver he gets in reaction, and wonders if the slave remembers what they did the last time. If it does, he wonders if the memory is a pleasant one or not.

He doesn’t bother with the weights this time, and settles for closing the zip again. The tight leather pushes down on the clamps and straps and he fingers each clamped nipple while squeezing gently at the trapped genitals, just because he can.

The slave whines, low and deep in its throat, and he smiles as he lets go.

The wooden chest opens quietly, which tells him that the hinges get oiled often enough. All the equipment is bright and shiny and dust-free. He chooses what he wants and goes back to grab the leash and drag it out to the bedroom.

Once there, he pushes it gently to get onto the bed, and he takes his time arranging everything the way he wants it. The point is that he wants to see this, and he wants to be comfortable while he does it. After some consideration on the matter, he elects to sit up against the headboard with the slave straddling his thighs, head down and hips lifted.

He’s set his selection out around them, a mix of sizes and textures and colours, and he starts by smearing lube over his fingers.

Once again, the first finger clearly causes some discomfort, the second a little more, and the third actual pain, but the muscle slowly stretches and he watches with avid fascination while the flesh clenches tight around his touch. Even when he spreads his fingers wide, the flesh snaps close around him the minute he eases the pressure off.

But it does stretch, and eventually he picks up the smallest dildo he could find in the chest and presses it in.

It slides in relatively easily, as far as he can tell, and he makes sure it’s fully seated before he sits back and just looks.

It looks perfectly innocuous, until he thinks about what he’s really doing. Then the darkness starts to curl in him. He’s essentially using this body as a toy, in ways he wouldn’t dare to enact on an actual doll. But here it’s alright, because he isn’t breaking anything. He’s being gentle and careful and there’s no blood, no scream of pain. The flesh gives under his inexorable force.

When he’s looked his fill, he draws it out, and lets it go halfway out. He waits while the rhythmically spasming muscle pushes it out entirely, and then he simply picks it back up and pushes it back in.

Six times they do this, and he can hear the sound of heavy breathing, deep controlled breathes through the mouth he’s left open.

The second dildo is a little bigger, and a lot longer.

He screws this one in, just to see if he can, and he watches the body in his lap shudder. He can feel the sudden press down of its head against his shins, and then the almost immediate lift as it tries to get back into position with a panicked exhalation.

“That’s the second punishment,” he says quietly, and stills his fingers, “But I think I prefer that. Put your head down. If you need something to ground you, feel free to press. I probably won’t even feel it so it’s not like it’ll stop me.”

It’s a half-lie. He’ll feel it. His nerves are ultra-sensitive to the lightest touch but his neural system doesn’t register sensations in the same way as humans do, which makes it easy to ignore pain, or intemperate weather.

The slave actually hesitates before it rests its head down against his shins. He waits until it does, and then resumes the task of playing with its asshole as if the interruption is unimportant.

He has asked himself if this isn’t some sort of repressed homosexual desire, or distorted homosocial need, but he can’t bring himself to care either way. He’s always wondered, in that vague way of understanding the basics without feeling the desire to enact them, but he thinks there would be certain people he could learn to love doing this with.

He doesn’t feel it’s conducive to consider who – all of them present as essentially straight, and the rest of them have issues he doesn’t feel equal to deal with. At least one of them is both.

He pulls the second one out and discards it, hand hovering over the third before he bypasses it on a whim and goes straight to the fourth one.  This one is considerably thicker, and exceeds the length of the third by half an inch. It’s not anatomically impossible but it is definitely on the larger side of the scale.

He preps this one and pinches at the slightly loosened rim of flesh before pressing the column of plastic against the muscle.

This time he gets an immediate react. There’s a groan, and a sudden push of a face against his left shin, and he can see one free hand suddenly clench into the pristine sheets. The dildo doesn’t go in, and from what he can tell, the slave is clenching down against it.

He lifts a hand and covers one muscular curve before squeezing hard enough to leave a handprint bruise the way he had before. Then he uses the hold to press the flesh aside and expose the trembling, tormented hole, and he says, “I don’t want to hurt you, but this is going in. Stop fighting.”

One deep breath, two, three, and then the clenching stops. It doesn’t help it to open wider, but it doesn’t hinder either.

He pushes it through with brute strength and leverage, and the wrecked whimper as it finally slips in all the way is enough to get him hard and leaking.

He lets go of his handful and leans forward to kiss the already visible bruise. “Good,” he murmurs, “Very good.”

The face nuzzles against his shin, which brings a slight warmth to his tone as he huffs a laugh against sweat-slick flesh.

He uses this dildo the same way he uses the first – by pulling it out halfway and then watching to see what the body does. This time, the ring clenches and flutters and the dildo slides back in. Again and again, he does it, fascinated, and watches the dildo slide back in.

“You like that,” he notes.

And gets a moan as muscular thighs flex and clench under the skin-tight leather.

He rubs absently at the trapped genitals again as he continues to play with the dildo and he is startled once again by how hard it is. In spite of the humiliation, the objectification, the discomfort, the possible pain – it’s actually enjoying this.

He traces the shape of the dick through the leather and feels it shudder and clench, just at the same time as he starts to pull the dildo out.

The slave actually cries out as he shoves it back in, remembering the angle from the time before and trying to replicate it. It takes him two tries but he succeeds. And once he gets it right, he picks up the pace. In and out in hard, quick strokes, sawing it against the loosening ring of muscle as he strokes and squeezes and imagines the body starting to strain against the mixed signals.

“Can you come like this?” he wonders aloud.

The slave presses its face down against his leg and lets out something that sounds like a sob as it humps uselessly back and forth between his fingers and the dildo.

On and on it goes, until the sounds start to get truly breathless and desperate, and then he bites his fingers into the leather just that touch harder and growls, “You’ll come like this or not at all.”

And it takes only two more thrusts against the prostate to make the slave keen and buck wildly between his hands.

He waits until it goes boneless on top of him, and then he rips the dildo out callously to the obscene sucking sound of flesh and a sudden wail of discomfort.

He turns the slave over, unzips his fly, and he pushes himself into that open, panting mouth. It’s lax and wet, but the touch of its tongue seems to set off some kind of bomb because suddenly it clamps down on him, and sucks with a fierce single-mindedness.

He doesn’t take long himself, and when he’s done, he washes up in the bathroom and comes back to find the slave kneeling beside the bed, in the same position as he finds it when he walks in the front door.

“Next time,” he says, “You’ll get your punishment.”

He touches the top of its head and then leaves.

The next time only takes a week.

Bruce grunts at him over the phone and says, “Make sure you’re not followed. This is not a part of your public image.”

“I’m careful,” he says.

Bruce’s dry sarcasm is loud over the phone. “I bet you are.”

But he has the go-ahead and he gets to the apartment ahead of time. When he walks in the door, however, the slave is in position, and everything is ready.

This time he uses the rope to tie it to the frame and selects a flogger. He swings it experimentally, to make sure he doesn’t hit too hard, and then starts at the top and works his way down its back.

It starts out silent, but by the time the back of its thighs are welted and red, it’s started to jerk just a little with every stroke.

And then Clark unties it and lays it over the horse in the centre of the room again. Like before, he picks up clamps but an idea occurs to him and he lays them down in favour of a thin piece of silken cord. He wraps it around its shaven balls and holds it down as it cries out and bucks in pain. When it’s calm, he carefully attaches a weight to the rope, tests it, adds two more, and then lifts his hand to deliver a spanking.

He can hit considerably harder than the average human but he isn’t here to crush the pelvic bone nor to destroy Bruce’s furniture. He hits hard, but within limits. It’s still hard enough to draw a final whimper out of those bruised, spit-slick lips.

It’s kept its legs in the position he’s kicked them out to, which means it’s been supported mostly by the beam and the weights have been swinging and jerking on its balls with the slightest movement.

He removes the silken cord and spends a minute just prodding at the soreness between its legs. It groans but falls silent, almost soothed beneath his ministrations.

When he judges enough time has passed, he prepares its ass and pushes a vibrator in. He doesn’t turn it on, yet, choosing to slip the remote into his pocket and lead it back out of the room to the couch.

He finishes like he did the first time, sitting back and letting it suck him to completion, while he pressed buttons on the remote and listened to the buzzing rev and drop, spilling twitches and moans hot over his dick.

The next time he does stay longer, taking it back from the edge of orgasm three times before he finally lets it come, hands pressed to the tinted windows as the sun rises, ass sore and tired and immeasurably used.

He walks away from that night wondering tiredly if Bruce is right, and he has only unleashed his ability to abuse his power rather than confront it.

But he looks at a pretty young intern in the Daily Planet building, thinks of ways to drag her into the nearest semblance of private space and considers all the things he could do to her defenceless body and he feels... unclean.

She smiles at him and chats eagerly about how much she wants to be a journalist like Lois and all he can do is smile back and let the relief wash over him.

The truth, he realises, is that he enjoys what he does in that apartment, but he feels no reason to duplicate any version of it on the populace at large.

His true test comes in a League presentation to the UN, begging for sanctions against a health corporation with Intergang connections. They’ve scheduled their presentation almost forty eight hours beforehand but half the representatives haven’t even bothered to show up. Half of those who attend scoff aside their concern and the other half say they have no substantial proof.

He is so angry he can barely see straight, and he goes silent for a moment, looking at all of them with the itch of red behind his irises, wondering whether he could deal with the consequences of frying them all for their wilful blindness.

Time and again the League has warned of major crises. Time and again the League has been proved right. Yet political parties still ignore them, fight them, deny them, only to turn to them and demand assistance when everything goes wrong, as they’ve told them it will.

Superman considers making his pleas an order. He could do it. He could hold countries to ransom, just for a day while he gets the job done. He could give himself up after that, or Bruce could come up with the evidence to show the world that he was right to push so hard.

Batman and Superman watch other’s back, and he knows Bruce would fight for him tooth and nail, even if Batman doesn’t share his opinions. The Bat protects his chosen.

He backs down, and leaves the UN without another word.

He dials when he’s in mid-air.

“Right now,” he says.

“No,” Bruce answers.

“Then tonight.”

“Twenty-four hours’ notice. I told you that.”

“I can bust in that door, Bruce.”

“But you won’t,” Bruce replies, voice soft but no less dominant, “Because that isn’t what you agreed to.”

Clark shuts his ears to the sound of a car swerving, the sudden shouts of ‘are you crazy’ and ‘you almost hit me, you bastard’. How is Superman supposed to compensate for bad drivers?

A sigh on the phone. “Given the circumstances, tonight will be soon enough. It should give you time to calm down.”

“I am calm,” he snaps.

“No, you’re not. And if you go there in pretending you are, you’re likely to hurt someone without meaning to. Probably him, since you’re invulnerable.”

The matter-of-fact tone is touched with a hint of understanding, and Clark closes his eyes in the face of it.

“What do you do to him?” Clark blurts out.

“Please tell me you’re not forming an attachment to a warm body.”

Clark bites his lips and wants to say that’s not quite what’s on his mind. “I just... want him to have a face.”

“He doesn’t need one. He’s only...”

“He’s a human being.”

“Your point?”

“You can’t chain a human being up like a dog. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t leave. He doesn’t see the sun. He moves when you say, and he eats what you tell him to. It’s not right!”

“He has agreed...”

“To every major change in his life, yes, you told me, but...”

“No,” Bruce interrupts, and lances brutally through Clark’s mounting agitation, in the way only Bruce can. “You do not get to decide what’s right for everyone. This was his choice, one I shared with you. You don’t get to tell him he can’t have it.”

The call is disconnected so decisively he hovers in mid-air, staring at his phone and wishing he could throw enough of a tantrum to incinerate it.

His good sense is too insistent, however, and he simply goes back to work.

He wonders if the night’s appointment is still available, and he decides that it isn’t, but goes to the apartment around ten on an impulse.

He almost expects the lock to be engaged. It wouldn’t stop him from getting in if he wanted it, but it would be enough of a tacit sign to him that he was no longer welcome.

He finds the door open. He finds the slave kneeling where he is supposed to, in picture perfect position, waiting as if Clark is right on time and not hours late.

He unzips the mouth and winces at the sight of that mouth so cruelly strained. He slides home with a sigh and turns his brain off while he starts a slow, leisurely pace that uses the tight, warm throat with very little effort from either of them.

He comes right there, and doesn’t bother to pull out, letting the throat muscles milk every last drop out of him before he pulls back. It is still only human, and while it’s shown remarkable breath control, it still sucks in a series of deeper breathes to re-establish its oxygen supply.

He uses the bamboo cane on the insides of its thighs this time, then teases it with daubs of icyhot on sensitive points of its body. When he’s done with that, he lets curiosity get the better of him. He removes the roll of thin metal rods from the cabinet and says, “Show me what these do.”

He hands the thinnest rod over, and he watches while those hard, broad fingers turn the rod over in its hands before it takes its dick in one hand and starts to push the metal sound in. His suspicion turns out to be right.

The smallest one goes in relatively easily.

Once he’s sure it’s in deep enough not to fall out, he takes the leash and leads it to the gynaecologist’s chair in the corner. He straps it in, and gets a chair from the kitchen table. For the first time he finds a mark of less than perfect control in the streak of dust on the seat.

Clearly, he thinks, no one uses the chairs in the apartment.

He settles in between the spread legs, running his hands over the red, welted flesh along its inner thighs. He’s found a bottle of hand steriliser in the medical kit and he soaks his fingers liberally before removing the sound with one smooth, slow yank.

The next fifteen minutes are a medley of whimpers and then short gasps, a snarling satisfaction in how the human body stretches and strains and accommodates without tearing itself apart. He tries to imagine the experience, but can’t. He will never experience anything quite like it, not with Earth technology and certainly not under a yellow sun.

When he’s had his fill he leans forward curiously, and kisses up the straining underside of the cock he’s been staring at for so long now.

It’s hard and leaking, even with the sound still embedded in it, and the slave lets out a low groan of need and confused lust and he can see a shiver crawl up from abdomen to stomach to ribcage. He kisses and licks and sucks and it feels exactly as he expects it to against his tongue. It tastes the way he expects it to.

He closes his eyes and pretends, until he starts to lower his mouth down over the head and remembers the sound still in there.

He removes it before going back to what he was doing.

Semen tastes, again, fairly similar to his expectation. Which is to say that he doesn’t exactly enjoy the taste but he likes knowing he’s made it happen. He holds on to the image until he opens his eyes and then all he’s confronted with is his control over another human being, who may have enjoyed himself but won’t ask for anything more than Clark is willing to give.

There is something restful in that, but no satisfaction.

He pushes away and unties the straps.

The slave drops down to his knees and opens his mouth.

Clark just walks away.

He gets as far as the door before he stops and rubs his hands over his face. When he turns, the slave is exactly where he has left it, but surprisingly, its mouth is closed.

It’s in perfect position so it shouldn’t look... quite so remote.

He turns back and the sound of its leash unclipping bounces off the bare white walls. Completely impersonal walls, with nothing except the objects of someone else’s pleasure to mark them. A movie set, he thinks grimly to himself, and yet another man in a mask.

He slides his hands over the leather, mapping shoulders and torso underneath, and then replaces the collar with his hands.

He doesn’t squeeze, but he considers it.

The slave doesn’t move. Not to protect itself or to offer itself.

He raises an eyebrow when a sufficient number of seconds have passed and then lets go. “You’re not afraid of me.”

The slave says nothing.

“Maybe you should be.”

He gets no answer, but he doesn’t expect any.

He takes its covered hand and brings it down between his own legs. He grinds, using it for friction and pressure, paying attention to the delicate little bones he could so easily snap with carelessness. When it’s over, he lifts it and licks tentatively at the mess he’s made against black leather.

It tastes fairly similar, and he still doesn’t appreciate the taste. He unzips the mouth, and guides the hand up.

“Clean it,” he instructs, and watches while lips and tongue work in perfect harmony.

There is no hesitation, no hint of distaste. Then again, he’s used the mouth before and now is hardly the time for either of them to get squeamish.

“Do you tell him when I make an appointment?” he asks Bruce.

“I tell him to expect a visitor. I don’t need to tell him who it is.”

“So other men use him. Or- or women, I guess.”

“In a way. But not at this current time.”

Which isn’t to say that things settle into a comfortable pattern. It continues for a year. In that year, both of them almost die, the people they care about almost die, the world almost ends, hundreds are murdered, crimes are committed, evil is perpetrated, and they fight. They always fight. Against crime, evil, death, and sometimes against each other.

Once, Clark walks out of the apartment in a storm of self-doubt and he calls Bruce to say, “No more. I can’t do this.”

Bruce’s voice is hoarse when he answers, “Duly noted.”

But it doesn’t last. They don’t mention that conversation when Clark calls for the next appointment.

The slave doesn’t change from one appointment to the next. It is always eternally the same; the apartment is eternally the same.

Clark brings one thing into the apartment – a rubber dildo with hard plastic nodes. He lays it out on the bed, and hands the dildo over, and watches it work to stuff the plastic in.

For the most part, he uses what he has. That includes the ice from the freezer in the kitchen and some of the contents of the medical kit. As agreed, though, he makes no permanent marks, though he wonders about the possibilities of using his heat vision for a branding or tattoo of some sort.

He has never had much interest in tattoos but it’s the comparison of his invulnerability against this battered, scarred body. The way human skin stretches and strains and gives beneath the indignity.

He learns how to perform after-care, though, after a particularly brutal session when he almost walks out and leaves it prone on the bare floorboards of the toy room.

He can smell the wet damp of sweat and semen and the slight trace of blood from the welts on its back, but he can also smell the saline of tears.

He rescues kittens from trees; he finds he’s incapable of turning away from pain.

He doesn’t quite know what to do at first but in the end he simply strips away everything but the mask and carries the limp body into the bathroom. He washes it, dries it, and soothes what he can with what the medical kit has on hand.

The slave can barely keep his head up but Clark still isn’t prepared for the way the face presses into his neck, as if his footsteps have jostled its head out of position against his shoulder.

He fetches water, though the failsafe in his head whispers that he doesn’t need to. It isn’t expected of and possibly isn’t wanted but he winces at the sight of what he’s done, even if he can’t bring himself to regret the pleasure of doing it. He can’t ignore all responsibility.

“Here,” he says gruffly, and holds its head up so it can drink.

It asks for nothing, but does as told with absolute obedience. If it seems tense, he puts it down to the unfamiliarity of care in its life. It’s here to be used, not cuddled.

It doesn’t relax until he leaves, finally satisfied that he’s done all he can in the circumstances.

Bruce is there at the Watchtower by the time he makes it up, and Clark watches him sitting stiffly at the monitors, eyes narrowed as he watches an out-of-control bushfire in Australia. Natural disasters are not the Batman’s domain; two Green Lanterns, Fire and Ice are out there, doing what they can to aid evacuation and damage control.

“Busy night?” Clark asks ironically.

“Just started my shift,” Batman grunts.

Superman joins him wordlessly until they get a call that venom-enhanced panthers have been spotted in the densely populated bazaars of Cairo.

“I’ll coordinate from up here,” Bruce grunts, “Go.”

Clark doesn’t need persuasion.

He does what he does best and saves people. The panthers get delivered to hastily constructed cages in the zoo and blood samples are drawn for STAR Labs to analyse. Vixen soothes a little female barely more than a pup and he sits down with a translator, the American Ambassador and four senior police officers, outlining what little they know about the incident barring their immediate response to the emergency.

“Distraction,” Batman says through the comm.

And Clark lifts into the air with a quick apology, scanning the city to find the true crisis.

The day ends well, beyond injury to one of Hawkgirl’s wings. He believes it minor until he notices how difficult she finds it to walk. Shayera is stubborn and refuses to show her pain but it occurs to him that gravity is working against her, here, and he has a flash image of swinging chain and weights before he shakes his head and hides his blush.

There is no delicate way to broach the subject so he doesn’t. John has more luck, but even then Hawkgirl snaps at him until they’re in the shuttle going back.

The green light looks soft as it wraps around the injured wing, levitating it until the lines of her shoulders tense to show them where to stop.

Clark watches the silent give and take and everyone pretends to be busy with other things until it’s over, and even then, no one dares comment on it.

He thinks of holding the heavy weight of a tired head in his hands, tipping small sips of water into a lax, bruised mouth, and realises it’s not the fact that he’s done it that makes him uncomfortable, it’s the fact that he was allowed to do it at all. Pain, yes. Pleasure, if he wants it. Sex, if he needs it. But to be weak in front of someone who has showed no mercy is... brave.

And he knows. He always has.

The question is whether he should do anything with his knowledge.

Clark Kent is a reporter, Superman is a hero – they both act on knowledge received to save people. Sometimes, they save people from themselves. The analogy could fit in this case.

He does nothing.

Five of them hold an impromptu meeting in what has come to be known as the War Room, trying to figure out how the outbreak of animal mutations has been slipping their net. It leads to a heated discussion on better relations with civil and military authorities.

Clark thinks of pleading with the UN to listen for once, every single time, and he can’t deny they need a better way, but he doesn’t see how they can force the issue without antagonising half the world’s authorities. CADMUS, Green Lantern notes drily, is a case in point.

They mull that over before Batman gets up abruptly and makes for the door.

Clark’s reasonably sure they all spare a thought for the GCPD and Commissioner Gordon, who will back the Bat to hell and back, no matter what any other authority in the world says. Gotham has always defied expectations where the rest of the world is concerned.

He gives it three days, and then makes another appointment.

“No,” Bruce says, “Too soon after what you did the last time.”

Clark raises an eyebrow. “Are you watching what I do?”

“I keep watch on everything I own.”

The arrogance is unbelievable but Clark tamps down on his annoyance. “I’m not going to repeat the last time. Just a little play. That’s all.”

“No.”

It’s the only time Bruce denies him access.

Clark shrugs.

He considers trying a club, just for a change in experience, but in the end he decides against it. The thought of publically enacting private fantasies is... somewhat awkward, still.

Maybe one day, he contemplates, and pictures all the things he could do with public spectacle and humiliation.

He imagines it on its knees, bent over, holding itself open with its hands, exposed and off-balance and unable to protect itself. Then just... left there. Ignored. The conflict of shame and rejection, treated as nothing more than part of the furniture.

He imagines it leashed and crawling behind him, covered from head to toe and entirely reliant on a guiding hand to protect it.

He groans and turns fitfully beneath the covers. Unbidden, he thinks of it in bed, pressed up against him, loose and lax and unresisting, and that makes his eyes pop open. That image is a little sweeter than he’s supposed to allow for the convenience of a ‘warm body’.

Given the circumstances, he gives up sleep as a lost cause.

He puts on the uniform because it helps explain why a six foot four man is flying around without the aid of technology, simply by pushing off the ground and pushing up towards the sky.

He flies to outer orbit and hovers there, watching the swirl of fragile life below. He’s learned to step back sometimes, and remember how small he is against the surge of humanity.

He can always hear the voices if he listens. Hundreds, thousands – billions – and there are always cries for help. There are always sounds of pain; everything from papercuts to assault to soldiers on a battlefield. He isn’t fast enough to do it all, and he would go mad if he tried.

Ruling the world seems impossible on those terms. Even when conquering it is indescribably easy.

He can plan it right now. From here, he could take out the Watchtower. They wouldn’t know what he was doing until it was over. If he’s careful when he damages the shell, he’ll trap enough ‘humans’ inside to take out half the League when it explodes.

Then onwards to several nuclear power plants, the destruction of which should occupy the rest of them.

The core members will come after him, and Batman will bring the kryptonite. Luthor, CADMUS – they’ll all come after him. He wouldn’t expect anything less.

Three nights later he takes a deep breath and stands back, flexing his fingers as he drinks in the sight of it, arms straight back and tied to the ceiling, forcing it forward to ease the pressure on its shoulders. Bare skin, littered with scars and bruises, straining and stretching as he plunges his fingers back inside.

The slave groans.

He keeps watching as he exerts pressure upwards.

Hard breathing turns panicked as the body protests and then tries to obey. It’s impossible, though; Clark knows that. He just wants to see if its hole will continue to stretch.

It does, even though the slave goes up on his toes and whines in the process.

He likes the sound. He literally holds the position for a few seconds longer than he should just because his pulse jumps when sensitive flesh flutters vainly against his fingertips.

“Beautiful,” he whispers, and dips his head to taste the sweat gathering in the cup of its scapula. Bone and heavy muscle shifts against his mouth and his chest and his groin, and he curls around it, enfolds it in his arms.

He breathes, slow and steady, and waits until the slave’s head drops down, breathing falling into the pattern he sets.

When he disengages, he does it slowly, carefully, and then makes his way to the kitchen. He’s played a little rough on his terms – brute strength, x-ray vision, speed – but humans have their own ways, and there are inventive ways to use whatever happens to be lying around. He’s done a little research, and he wants to try something. This seems the opportune time.

He wonders if Bruce plans for these situations when he arranges to stock the fridge.

The stick of ginger looks innocent when he pulls it out. It’s cool and hard and knobbly; more importantly, it’s large. He selects a knife from the drawer and prepares it.

The slave is exactly where he’s left it, and the breathing pattern he’s set only fails when he touches its back. Traces down the dip of its spine, continuing until he slides one finger back inside with no resistance at all. The soft, stretched ring of muscle gapes slightly and he presses down hard on the prostate to hear that explosive whine burst out, to see the shudder, the useless thrust forward and push back and the inaudible creak of rope and metal hook and tormented shoulders.

He chuckles, warm and dark, and removes his finger only to replace it.

The peeled piece of ginger is only a little bigger than his finger, and definitely shorter, but he holds it there affably while the burning starts, and then continues to hold it while the irritation worsens, and he lets go only when it’s whimpering and groaning and its body clamps down hard on the intrusion.

“Hold it in,” he instructs.

And it does. No matter how much it hurts, no matter how much the rope creaks or its shoulders ache, it stays exactly where he’s put it and endures what he wants it to endure.

He kisses its mouth, swallowing down the sounds it makes, and strokes gently between its legs, bringing it to full hardness before letting go, smiling against its lips when its growing need forces it to clench down on the ginger.

“Hurts?” he asks, and it pants against his mouth, exhale washing hot over his chin and cheek.

Eventually he removes the ginger. Eventually he slides his dick in, and revels in the tight, swollen heat that squeezes around him.

When it’s over, he lets the limp body down and carries it to the bed. Strips it off and wipes it down with a damp towel. He’s gentle when he wipes between its legs, perhaps rubbing a little too long over its tired, stretched hole. It shifts beneath his ministrations and he kisses it again, lingering over the bitten, bruised lines of its lips.

He discards the towel halfway through and slides his fingers back inside. Uses his other hand to stroke its dick and impossibly, unbelievably, it gets hard for him again.

He’s not sure if that means its well-trained or desperate but he adds a third finger, and then a fourth, and it writhes, control fraying as he circles his grip around the base of its dick and stops stroking it.

It takes four so well and he has big hands, but he folds his thumb down against his palm and tries anyway. The choked-off cry of pain is not feigned and even he, with all his lack of experience of how sex between men works, knows better than to try this without proper lubrication.

There are four unused bottles in the bedside drawer. He doesn’t think too hard about the kind of mind that prepares so far ahead, even as he uncaps and slicks his fingers; hesitates and then lubes his whole hand.

It takes that too.

It takes a while, and he is honestly worried that this will go horribly wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. He’s seconds away from calling the whole thing off. The slave screams when the widest part of his hand stretches and stretches and pushes and then it’s through. It sinks down and he’s inside, his hand squeezed tight on all sides and his fingers rubbing sensitive inner flesh while the flutters ripple across his knuckles.

He holds absolutely still while it flops uselessly on the bed. He can hear the rapid pounding of its heart, the rush of blood in its veins. He can smell the sweat and musk and something else he doesn’t want to define just underneath.

It’s not the time to play safe.

He presses down hard on its prostate.

It’s only half-hard but it isn’t difficult to take it back to that teasing, throbbing plane of need. He forces its legs wide and slides his hand carefully back and forth in tiny motions, a simulation of what he’d like to do if only he could be sure he wouldn’t cause permanent damage.

He’s hard himself by this point, and a part of him envisions how he could arrange them both so he uses its mouth while he does this. He imagines the sight they would make, the slave twisted up with its knees against its chest so he could really drill down into its body with his fist.

The image slams hard into the smell and sound and feel of what he’s doing and he orgasms so hard he shoves his hand deeper than he intends, pounding a howl out of its raw throat that sets him off again.

He doesn’t even wait to catch his breath before he leans down to take its dick in his mouth. He sucks hard and rough and scrapes carefully with his teeth over the vein that hammers along the underside, and it goes wild.

Control, discipline, training – gone.

He knows.

He’s always known.

But he sucks and sucks and swallows every drop even as he keeps grinding his knuckles down against his prostate and when there are only sobs and hands in his hair and desperate dry thrusts against the back of his throat, he eases off and rasps, “Bruce, Bruce,” even as he brushes his nose against the soft, hairless sac.

He can feel the sluggish tension, the panic. He can hear the denial before it’s even formed in Bruce’s throat because he knows the man behind the mask – all the masks – and who else, he thinks tiredly, would trust no one to do the job and trust him not to go too far? Who else would be so damn complicated.

He starts to ease his hand out and then stops, looking up to meet the sightless mask.

“Mask off,” he says.

He uses the same voice he always uses in here, but with the spell broken he’s really not sure how ‘it’ will respond.

It doesn’t obey.

He shoves his hand back in and Bruce actually collapses against the mattress, hips tilted as if in offering.

“Stop,” he says, “Don’t.”

“Mask off,” Clark repeats firmly.

“You can see me without that.”

Bruce’s voice is hoarse, unexpected even though Clark knows, and the sound makes him groan and rub just a little against the bed.

The sheets are more rumpled right now than they’ve ever been and he decides he likes that. Prefers it. He wants to know he’s ruffled that composure and dug under the austere surface. He’s got under Bruce’s skin. He flutters his fingers and enjoys the irony of that phrase.

“Take it out,” Bruce says, command matching command.

Clark stubbornly twists his wrist, feeling the ring of muscle clench down and then relax. “Not until you take off the mask.”

“Take it out or I will.”

“You’ll hurt yourself.”

The silence says everything on that score that needs to be said. The silence isn’t pointed, because pain has never stopped a man who prides himself on endurance.

“Please,” Clark says, “Take the mask off. And I’ll pull out.”

Hands stay down for a second longer – long enough to give the impression that they won’t be swayed by coaxing – and then lift slowly. The mask unzips at the back, and it peels away with the sticky sound of leather parting from sweating flesh.

Bruce is flushed and messy and his hair is plastered to his skull where it isn’t pressed into strange tufts. His eyes, though, his eyes are stormy and black, the pupils blown so wide the ring of blue is a thin sliver.

His mouth – Clark groans quietly at the sight of that mouth, and then leans down to kiss the inside of his left thigh as he slowly starts the process of extracting his hand.

“You’ll need the towel,” Bruce says clinically.

“What?” Clark opens his eyes.

“For your hand. I... wasn’t expecting that. With your sense of smell, I’m sure this will be unpleasant for you.”

Clark stares. “You’re the one with a hand up your ass and you’re worried about me?”

“The hand up my ass,” Bruce says stiffly, “Is why I’m concerned.”

Clark ignores him and looks down, focuses on what he’s doing.

Bruce is tense now, but holding still.

Clark continues to ignore him and stares as the softened ring of muscle stretches and stretches and strains as the widest part of his hand forces it open. Without even thinking, he pushes it back in and starts again.

Bruce growls, low and feral. “Stop playing.”

“I thought that was what you wanted,” Clark observes, and then leans down to lip experimentally at the strained rim that clings to his wrist.

He gets no vocal reaction to that but he isn’t expecting one, not now the masks are off.

“You do, you know,” he says quietly.

“What?”

“Look beautiful. Like this.”

“This isn’t going to be continue,” Bruce says with finality.

“For a guy on his back with his legs spread and a hand up his ass, you’re pushy.”

“Clark.”

Clark pulls until the widest part of his hand is lodged just behind the rim and holds it there, leaning down to nip the soft, defenceless sac. He mouths it, rolling his tongue over the weight of it, and Bruce shifts uncomfortable and pulls away, inadvertently clenching down and then sliding down so Clark’s hand slips back.

“This time was your fault,” Clark murmurs, and starts again.

He waits while the silence stretches taunt and then adds, “I’ve thought about it,” he says.

Bruce says nothing.

When he looks up, those eyes are almost back to normal – clear and clinical. The blue is back, bringing ice to the storm.

“You look stressed, Bruce. Does it hurt?” he asks, tilting his head.

He blanks out any amusement, any dark glee. He puts away desire and warmth and all he gives him is guileless innocence and mild alien curiosity.

Bruce actually shudders.

He can feel it. See it ripple up from abdomen to stomach to rib cage. The whole lies bare and open and exposed to him, even now.

Bruce could control it, he thinks, and his eyes narrow at the sudden thought.

“You enjoyed it.”

“Biological imperatives keyed to the body’s erogenous zones,” Bruce says clinically, but Clark can see the lean, long flex of tendons in his inner thighs.

Out of the Bat suit, out of formal wear, Bruce is slimmer than he expects. He supposes he has to be, to bear out the flexibility and sinuous grace with which he fights.

“Is this another imperative?” he asks, and finally pulls his hand free.

Bruce arches, but his gaze is level and his face stays impassive. His hole, on the other hand, twitches beneath Clark’s intense stare.

Abused flesh tries to close and can’t, and Clark can feel the rumble of desire start again low in his belly.

But there are higher stakes here than just momentary pleasure. He’s gambled it all, and possibly the whole world will suffer if this doesn’t pay off.

“Look at you,” he whispers, and kisses the tip of Bruce’s cock.

Bruce slides out from under him.

Clark watches, trying to find the misstep when Bruce stands upright. Tries to see the flash of discomfort when he walks to the bathroom. There is none, because the Batman is always in complete control.

He follows a few minutes later, and scrubs his hands and mouth thoroughly while he listens to the sound of water snaking over flesh in the shower, hands busy and near-silent as dirt and darkness alike are sluiced down the drain.

He waits on the couch and tries not to remember fucking Bruce against the tinted window as the sun came up, lining that battered, pain-marked body with bronze and gold. Tries not to remember the first touch of that hot, wet mouth around his dick.

Bruce emerges in a suit that costs more than Clark approves of, every hair in place and glossy surfaces directing the eye away from the cracks in his eyes and his smile and the careful cloistering of flesh.

“I have a proposition,” Clark says calmly.

“No,” Bruce says, equally calm, and goes to the kitchen.

Clark watches the confident, efficient movement of limbs and muscle, the way energy becomes an exact science. Water, he notes, to combat dehydration.

“Your saucepan had dust in it,” he says aloud.

Bruce raises a skilfully groomed eyebrow at him. “Excuse me?”

“All your pans, actually.” Clark nods at the fridge. “You can’t cook without using the pans. Which meant no one cooked. You could have told a slave to kneel on the floorboards or sleep on the hard ground, which would explain the dust on the chairs and the sheets that never changed, but you can’t eat raw meat.”

Bruce looks thoughtful. “Clever.”

“Oversight on your part,” Clark shrugs, “You overcomplicated it with the meal plan on the fridge.” He tilts his head. “Does Alfred clean?”

Bruce puts down the glass. “Contrary to popular opinion, I do know how to remove dust from a surface.”

“So you’ve kept this whole place clean and tidy. The bathroom, the bedroom.”

“All the equipment, yes.”

Clark nods. “Did you choose the equipment?”

Bruce misses half a beat. “Yes.”

“So those were things you wanted me to use on you.”

“I chose standard equipment for most BDSM play,” Bruce counters.

“I’d believe you,” Clark agrees, “But you have a whole collection of dildos that are colour coordinated. That doesn’t fit.”

Bruce looks annoyed. “I simply ordered...”

“It doesn’t explain why,” Clark interrupted, “Until you can tell me the truth, don’t talk.”

His tone of voice is mild, considering, but he knows the gauntlet he’s just thrown down – possibly black, with sharpened fins and burred tips and the cracks of well-used, supple leather. He can anticipate almost anything Bruce can do but to understand the man is to understand that he is at heart a complicated human being, and to ‘expect’ something is too simplistic.

Bruce could dismiss him. Bruce could keep talking. Bruce could just walk away.

Bruce stays silent, but he sips his water, blue eyes level and wary as he watched Clark over the rim of his glass.

“Now,” Clark says, “I’m going to make you a proposition. Please don’t talk until I’m done. I’m open to negotiation but we’ll discuss that in time. If none of this interests you, we’ll consider the matter closed. I don’t want to hear excuses, I don’t want to hear lies. Nod if you understand me.”

Bruce’s mouth is a thin line but he gives a short, curt nod.

Clark raises his eyebrows. “No kryptonite? No threats?”

Bruce’s jaw tightens. But he doesn’t break his silence, and he doesn’t move.

“This started when you asked me if I ever thought about ruling the world,” Clark says, “The truth is I have. All those times when people don’t listen, when they let their egos and greed get in the way of justice. Well, I could force people to be different. I could make this world a better place; I know I could. People like Luthor – they don’t deserve so many chances. They don’t deserve to live when they cause pain and misery to so many people.”

Neither of them is shocked by this admission.

“What I want, is to take all my frustrations out on you,” he says simply.

Bruce swallows.

“That’s it, really. You can talk now.”

“What makes you think,” Bruce starts slowly, “I would let you touch me after this?”

“You let me do it in the first place.”

“You didn’t know who I was. I simply played a part.”

Clark frowns slightly. “I’d believe you. But you were turned on.”

“Biological impera...”

“Do not,” Clark snarls, “Lie to me.”

Surprisingly, Bruce’s mouth snaps closed.

“Was it the pain you enjoyed?”

The line of Bruce’s throat shifts, and he takes another sip of his water before grimacing and emptying the half-finished glass into the sink. “No.”

“What was it?”

Bruce shakes his head impatiently and doesn’t answer.

The door is halfway between the two of them, and the sun is beginning to shine in through the tinted window.

“But you did enjoy it?”

“I got off,” Bruce says shortly.

“You did.” Clark smiles. “I liked that part too.”

Bruce glares but it has no real heat in it.

“The truth,” Clark settles, tone turning sombre, “As I said, we can negotiate terms, but I want to continue.”

“We can’t.”

“Why?”

“For more reasons than I care to count. All of which you already know.”

“Yes.”

Clark stands up.

Bruce is tense and absolutely still, brows lowered and mouth grim as he stares back defiantly.

They are almost the same height, eye to eye, and the suit is beautifully cut to hide what Bruce doesn’t want the world to see.

Clark taps his shoulder. “On your knees,” he says.

Bruce startles.

“Moment of choice,” Clark whispers.

Bruce wavers.

Clark waits and watches and doesn’t interfere. At least not physically. He could force the issue, but conquering, he’s always known, is not the same as ruling.

“I’m going to leave the room,” he says calmly, “I will be gone for exactly one minute. When I return, you will be on your knees, head against the floor, pants around your ankles.”

He can hear the sudden rush of Bruce’s blood but he forces himself to turn away. He leaves the room, as he says, and returns in exactly one minute. He doesn’t need fifty of those sixty seconds but it’s a tacit sign of his self-control.

When he comes back, his breath catches.

Bruce – no longer a faceless body – on his knees, head down and hips up, uncaring of his expensive, beautifully cut suit as he presents himself the way Clark wants.

Clark takes his time with preparation.

“Such a pretty ass,” he says, and watches with amazement while Bruce jerks and moans, tight muscle clenching and rippling around his intruding fingers.

He whispers more compliments, pulling out half-formed fantasies and dark promises and watching Bruce come apart right there on the floor of a cheap apartment, clawing at the bare wooden floorboards with his fingernails.

They fuck almost gently, considering the rough sessions they’ve had in the past.

Clark palms the heavy cock as he licks Bruce’s ear. “You’re still hot inside. That ginger did a real number on you.”

“It burned,” Bruce tells him, “So badly. And then you, your cock, so hot.”

“Next time I’ll take care of you properly,” Clark promises, “Push some ice into you when it’s over.”

Bruce keens and shoves back harder and harder, hands grasping as Clark’s wrist and hair and then falling forward to slam his fists against the floorboards.

Clark comes first, and tightens his grip to almost-pain before he sits back, bringing Bruce with him so he’s fully impaled, and then fists him at superspeed.

Bruce convulses, a cry choked off in his throat as he clenches and pumps and writhes.

When it’s over, Clark gets them both to their feet. Bruce is weak-kneed for an instant before he stiffens his resolve and holds himself up by sheer force.

But Clark isn’t done.

He picks up the dildo he’s had sitting beside him since he came in to find Bruce kneeling, and he gestures. “Turn around.”

It slides in easily, and Bruce grunts as Clark seats it firmly inside him.

“Let me see,” Clark says, “Hold yourself open.”

There’s a slight touch of hesitation, but Bruce does as he’s told.

“Okay. Get dressed.”

“You expect me to go to work like this,” Bruce says, straightening his clothing.

“You can go anywhere you want,” Clark shrugs, “But that’s staying in you for the next three hours.”

Bruce stiffens. “This will not intrude on the mission, Clark. That is my limit.”

“Done. If there’s an emergency, obviously, take that thing out. Of course I’ll punish you when we’re back here but I want you alive more than fucked.”

Clark smiles at the bitten-off sound of need that almost makes it out of Bruce’s throat.

 He reaches out and pulls him close. He kisses him, and Bruce’s mouth relaxes beneath his before it opens all at once, all enthusiasm and soft, wet het.

They leave, and Clark watches with fascination while Bruce takes the first awkward step and then stops, concentrating, before taking the next and the next, back stiff and clearly working to compensate for the plastic lodged deep inside him.

“Still burns from the ginger?” he asks.

Bruce stiffens, but the whole building is theirs. Still, he only nods once and then concentrates on the stairs.

Clark stifles the urge to snatch him up and take him back to the apartment, to strip him and shove a hand between his legs and tell him to rock, keep rocking, keep grinding the dildo hard into his sore, over-sensitive body.

He stifles the urge, but he says, “Next time I plug you, I’ll fill you first. Use that enema kit until you can’t take any more. Until you’re huge with water, and then I’ll plug you.”

Bruce doesn’t stop walking but he grabs the railing.

Clark can hear his breathing pick up. He can still smell the both of them, sex and sweat and lust mingling between their bodies until the air is heady with it.

“I won’t unplug you until I’ve milked you dry.”

Bruce endures, as he always does.

And Clark breathes deep one last time before they emerge into cool, early morning sunlight. There is no one around in the alleyway, and he doesn’t wait to see how Bruce will adjust to public speculation. He takes off now, while there’s no one there to see him, and he speeds away trusting Bruce to protect himself.

From above, he looks down over Gotham, and watches while the city gives way to suburbs, which gives way to countryside, then statelines, then more of the same. Life is the same all over and humans are complicated.

He remembers Bruce’s dry, sardonic query – “Don’t you think about it?”

He is now, though not quite in the same way.