When Bruce returned from a day of work at Wayne Enterprises – he did not lounge in his office like Alfred always told him, thank you very much – he certainly didn't expect to see a party in full swing in his home.
Although he knew his birthday was close, Bruce thought that maybe this time the kids wouldn't try to organize anything. He had an ugly argument a few days ago with Jason and Stephanie, so he thought that maybe they would call everything off. Bruce shouldn't have let his guard down. His kids always tried to encourage him to relax a little, - even Damian, when he was feeling particularly magnanimous. And they did enjoy torturing him like that, he mused, scratching his chin.
So when a voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Jason told him World's Greatest Detective, my ass, Bruce didn't even wince.
He spotted Dick and Barbara dancing together, laughing and standing a bit too close to be platonic, but Bruce only smiled to himself a little, hoping that they would finally go out properly. Maybe his love life wasn't spectacular, but Bruce sure as hell wanted his kids to be happy, even if he wasn’t.
Navigating in the room, he could see that most of his acquaintances related to his... special night activities were invited to the party. Looks like the only one who wasn't was me, he thought, wondering briefly if he should have stayed in his office. But then Cass appeared at his side, hugging him and whispering "Happy Birthday" softly, and Bruce hugged her back without hesitation. When she stepped aside, Bruce caught sight of a flash of blue. He waved at Harper, standing next to with Jason and, surprisingly, Roy Harper.
"Happy Birthday, old man," Jason shouted, raising his beer in mock salute. Bruce glared half-heartedly at him, receiving a broad grin in reply. The room exploded in cheering and, if Bruce didn't know that all of this was prepared by his sons, he would have already flown the scene. But he endured it, nodding every time someone extended their regards.
Bruce distantly noted that everyone was here except for the founding members of the JL, and he knew they wouldn’t have passed up an opportunity to get him to relax somehow, which meant… He glanced up the stairs to his study and sighed, tugging at his tie and rolling his injured shoulder - a little gift Penguin had left last week - slightly, and moved closer to the little stage that was set up.
Damian and Jon were really enjoying themselves, he thought, watching how the two of them were playing their guitars and dancing to the music. Alfred, however, was the true spectacle: long gone was his legendary composure, because he was playing the drums with passion. He had even wrapped a tie around his head and closed his eyes, and Bruce watched with amusement as he played a difficult part of the song with uncharacteristic fervor.
He saw Tim and Kon chatting quietly about something, sitting close to each other with a drink in their hands, and he briefly debated figuring out whether it was alcohol, and whether he should admonish them for it. Tim caught his eye and waved, mouthing something on the lines of "about time, B". Bruce raised an unimpressed eyebrow when Kon nudged Tim’s knee with his own, wanting his attention again, but smiled at Bruce innocently.
Bruce shook his head at the unexpected and frankly surprising rush of fondness for the boy who had stolen his son's heart, but Bruce mused briefly that, by now, Kon was almost like a nephew to him. Not that he would ever know - he needed to keep Kon on his toes about Tim, after all.
Bruce shrugged off his jacket, throwing it carelessly on a chair. Dodging most other greetings - save for Stephanie, Luke and Duke of course. Bruce finally reached the doors that led to his study. He only hoped its occupants weren’t there due to an emergency, or that it was at least something that wouldn’t require his total attention, because otherwise the kids would be disappointed if he didn’t put in at least one more appearance. Nothing too important, but going on patrol tonight was off-limits - he could already hear Alfred’s sharp-tongued admonishments at his disobedience, and even his workaholic self knew when to admit defeat when it came to his family. It’s for the kids, he reminded himself with a small sigh, pushing open one of the doors that led to his study.
Bruce blinked. Well… he certainly hadn’t been expecting… this.
Oliver and Dinah were sprawled on the floor, giggling quietly, Oliver drunkenly petting Dinah’s hair. Hal was laying on the top of his desk, drooling happily on his documents. Diana and Shayera were sitting next to each other on one of the couches, laughing softly about something. Barry was at their feet, his head reclined so he could look at the two women. The stink of alcohol was almost overwhelming, bringing sharp tears to Bruce’s eyes. The only ones that seemed in their right mind were Arthur and J'onn, but Bruce didn't see Clark anywhere so maybe -
“Bruce!” a happy, familiar voice called out to him from the other sofa in the room as soon as he walked completely through the door, “Bruce, you’re here! Guys, look! He’s here!”
Bruce looked at Clark, curled up in a comforter, with his black hair ruffled and his cheeks pink. He was beaming at him like he was the best thing after apple pie. “Guys, look!” he said again, bringing his hand down and smacking Barry's shoulder. Barry winced a little and glared at him, but Clark didn't seem to notice. “Bruce’s here, guys!”
Bruce fought the urge to smack his head on the doors behind him and tried very hard to stay calm.
"Who gave him Zatanna's booze?" he asked in his quiet-and-deadly voice.
Everyone in the room mumbled something about Hal, and Bruce sighed.
"But guys!" Clark insisted when nobody leapt to their feet to greet Bruce, as if it was the saddest thing in the world, "It's Bruce! And it's his birthday!"
"Please, Clark, shut up," Hal moaned, covering his head with one of the documents on the desk, creasing it. Clark looked scandalized. “But… but it’s Bruce!” he said in confusion, looking at the others with his puppy dog eyes.
"Yes, we know, Clark,” Diana said soothingly, “and we’re all really happy he’s here, aren't we?"
There was a chorus of affirmative responses and Barry looked at Bruce like he was the answer to all of life’s problems. It was a highly troubling look that made Bruce twice as wary of the whole situation.
“Please, Bruce, just… just take Clark somewhere else!” Arthur groaned, smashing his face into one of the cushions on the other couch, and clearly demonstrating that despite his composure he was as drunk as everyone else. “He’s been whining about you for an hour now.”
"I was not!"
"Yes, you were," Shayera cooed, a mischievous glint in her eye. "You talked about his beautiful, silky black hair for about half hour and then you sobbed thinking about Bruce's hands and how you'd love to take them in yours."
"...But Bruce is so-"
"WE KNOW, CLARK!"
Bruce sighed, taking another step forward until he was within touching distance of Clark, who seemed delighted to have him this close. "Bruce," he slurred, looking at him with bright eyes, "I love you so, sooo, soooo much!"
“Did… did he just confess to Bruce… while drunk?” Barry asked, horrified. Bruce had no idea why he was so saddened by this, until he passed Diana a rumple fifty dollar bill. Ah, now it made sense, he thought, unimpressed.
Children, he thought, looking at the oversized puppy in front of him who couldn't shut up about his undying love for him, I work with children and they aren’t even my own kids. Then he hauled Clark off the couch, taking Clark’s weight easily. Clark went very willingly, plastering himself to Bruce’s side with a dopey grin.
Bruce hadn’t expected it to go this way. Of course, he hadn’t expected it to happen at all, at least before the discussion they’d had that had been so rudely interrupted by the usual futile supervillain team-up led by Luthor. Bruce hadn’t exactly prepared for a follow-up so soon, fully ready to completely ignore the situation until it lay buried again, but… this was the one eventuality he’d never considered at all.
"Bruuuuce," Clark mumbled, nosing his cheek with a sigh, "why didn't you come sooner? I missed you so much and the others were teasing me! I wanted to sing happy birthday to you and tell you I love you and, and, and that I want to date you because I don't want to wait anymore, Bruce, please..."
"Sssh, Clark." Bruce tried to soothe him, while being painfully aware he wasn’t the best at it, petting his hair with long strokes. Clark murmured something unintelligible and shifted so he could bury his face in Bruce's neck. Bruce shivered at the feeling of Clark's warm breath against his skin.
They reached the master bedroom without incidents, something Bruce was glad for, because he certainly didn’t want anyone else to see Clark in this state. He helped Clark over to his bed, sitting him down, and then attempted to retrieve a glass of water. That plan was foiled by Clark uttering a wounded cry when Bruce dared to take one step away from him, clutching at his shirt like his life depended on Bruce’s immediate presence. Bruce didn't know if he felt irritated or amused.
"Clark you need water."
Grudgingly, Clark let him go, leaning back on the cushions with a pout.
"Hurry up, I wanna cuddle."
Shaking his head and stifling a small chuckle, Bruce retrieved a bottle of water. Once he made it back to the bed Clark immediately hugged him, burying his face in Bruce's shirt with a sigh of contentment, as if even those brief moments apart had been absolute torture.
"Come on, Clark, just take some sips of water and we can lie on the bed. How this sound to you?"
"And we can cuddle?"
Bruce rolled his eyes at the hopeful look on Clark's face but smiled nonetheless.
"Only if you drink your water."
Now with something to look forward, Clark obediently drank from the bottle with careful sips, following Bruce gentle words of encouragement. When he managed to drink almost half the bottle, Bruce took it from his hands, putting it on the nightstand. Then he arranged the two of them so they could lie there comfortably, because there wasn’t exactly much point in resisting when Clark had his mind set on something.
Clark made a happy noise, lying on top of Bruce and holding him close. Even if Bruce had wanted to, he didn't think that he could manage to move Clark, fully aware that he had only managed to get Clark down the hallway because Clark had wanted to go. But with Clark close and his nose buried in his curls, Bruce didn't believe he was this happy in a long time.
"You know, you have a fantastic ass."
Bruce spluttered, but his strangled noise didn't seem to bother Clark, because he kept going. “And Rao, I’m so curious about your… your…” Clark scrunched his nose adorably, searching for the right word in his alcohol-addled brain, “your dick!”
“Please don’t call it that,” Bruce mumbled, surprised at the heat spreading over his face. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t heard that before, and it wasn’t as if he couldn’t disassociate it with his eldest son, but still… he rarely heard Clark talk so brazenly.
“I always tell myself to not peek,” Clark went on, “but I’m so curious. Can I look?”
And then his hands went to Bruce’s zipper, and, as interesting as the outcome could have been, Bruce’s hands quickly went to Clark’s, stopping him. Thankfully Clark stilled, looking at him with confusion in his bright blue eyes.
"You can't look now, Clark."
"Why?" Clark whined with a childish pout, but he went willingly when Bruce tugged him against his chest again.
“Because,” Bruce began with a sigh, “you’re drunk, Clark. I know you want it, but it’s not the right time for it. And I’d also have to stop cuddling with you,” he added with a small smile.
Clark looked properly chastised at that, and crestfallen enough that Bruce’s heart twinged at seeing him like that. He buried his face in Bruce's neck, mumbling something in the lines of "don't take cuddling away from me."
Bruce chuckled quietly, freeing one of his hands so he could comb it through Clark's hair. Clark hummed in approval, kissing his neck ever-so-softly. Bruce wasn’t sure why, but it made sense that Clark would do this softly, gently. It made Bruce feel like he was being cherished in a way he’d never really felt before.
"I love when you laugh. I wish you'd laugh more."
Unable to restrain himself anymore, Bruce kissed his forehead and his cheek, feeling Clark smiling contentedly on his neck. He was toying with his hand, intertwining their fingers.
They remained like that for a long time, just wrapped in each in the quiet of the master bedroom, the world locked outside, and when Clark's eyelids started to drop Bruce kissed his brow again.
"Sleep, Clark. We’ll talk tomorrow."
"Yes, I promise."
"'Lov’ you," Clark slurred, falling fast asleep almost immediately. Bruce stayed where he was, caressing his cheek and looking at him with open adoration. It was hard for him to express his feelings at the best of times, both by choice and by nature, but, in the quiet safety of his bedroom, Bruce allowed himself a moment to indulge, to let out what he now knew he’d been feeling for a long time.
"I love you too, Clark," he whispered, closing his eyes.
He couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present.
Clark woke up with a groan, his head pounding. Zatanna's magical booze didn't seem like such a good idea anymore; his memories of the night before were hazy, nebulous, and the last thing he remembered clearly was Diana saying to him that Bruce would be home soon. Oh god, he thought with a groan, the others were never going to let him live it down, were they? He’d been so ridiculous about Bruce, waxing lyrical about him like a lovesick fool... Why had he accepted Hal’s drinks, again? Ah, right, he was in a foul mood because Bruce wasn't at home - it was his birthday, for God’s sake, why did he have to work all the time? - and he was missing him…
Then the firm pillow where he was resting shifted, and he could hear a very loud, very close, very familiar heartbeat.
Oh. Oh, Rao.
The pillow was Bruce's chest.
Clark remained perfectly, studiously still while Bruce was waking up, panicking internally. How did they... Had they-? They couldn’t have, they were still dressed, but… something must have happened...
"Clark, stop thinking, I can hear your brain working and it’s too loud."
Clark gathered up all his considerable courage, but it was barely enough. Facing supervillains and entire alien legions was far, far less terrifying than right now. His heart was beating like crazy, but he needed to know if Bruce was upset or not. He lifted his head from the warm spot where he was buried and looked at Bruce.
What he saw took his breath away.
Bruce was gazing at him with a soft expression on his face, his hands not leaving Clark’s hair or his hip. His eyes were full of what Clark could only describe as unbridled affection, not something he’d ever seen there before, at least not directed at him, not so openly. Clark swallowed. Bruce followed the motion with his gaze and then looked up, lingering for a second on his lips, until he was looking right in his eyes.
"We- I mean, did we…?" Clark stuttered, feeling a little lost and a little lightheaded. He settled for, "what happened last night?"
Bruce smirked at him.
Oh, Rao, he was not going to like what Bruce was about to say.
"Well, you called my ass 'fantastic' and tried to take a look at what's inside my pants."
Clark wanted nothing more than to immediately fly off-planet for the next thousand years, feeling his cheeks burn.
He was so screwed.
"Bruce, I'm so sorry, I... clearly I wasn't in my right mind, please can we just forget everything that I-"
"That would be a shame," Bruce interrupted quietly, leaning in, "because you also said you loved me. And wanted to date me."
Clark’s breath hitched, and he felt like he was close to falling from the sky. But then Bruce's hand was suddenly caressing his burning cheek with unhurried, long strokes, light like a feather. He found himself unable to do something, anything, at the complete mercy of Bruce's stormy, pale blue eyes.
“We were interrupted, and… I’ll admit, Clark, I was fully prepared to pretend we’d never begun to discuss it at all. Call it… fear. But, Clark,” so much feeling in one word, in his name, “Clark, I want this. I promised you yesterday we’d talk, but I need you to say something. Were you serious when you told me you loved me?”
Clark's heart was beating so hard he was certain that Bruce could hear it even without superhearing.
"Yes! I... yes, Bruce, I don't remember exactly what I did or what I said but, yes, I'm in love with you and I want to date you."
Bruce leaned forward, and despite the strength and confidence in his hands as they held Clark still, the kiss they shared was tentative, cautious, just a gentle brush of the lips. Clark sighed, shifting his head so they could deepen it, but Bruce distanced himself a little, prompting Clark to chase his lips. Bruce chuckled and kissed him briefly a second time before shifting out of reach again. Clark couldn't have held back his noise of protest even if he’d wanted to.
"I'm not kissing you with that morning breath, Clark."
"And if we indulge ourselves you'll never get to work today."
Clark’s eyes widened. In a panic, he scrambled up onto his elbow to look at the alarm clock on the nightstand. The blood drained from his face.
"Oh, crap! Perry is gonna kill me!"
“Well, unless he keeps Kryptonite in his desk…” Bruce began, but Clark ignored him, zipping from the bed to the bathroom.
While Clark supersped his way through the rest of his morning routine, Bruce remained on the bed, his arms now behind his head as he watched - or, well, tried to watch - the blur in his room. In less than a minute Clark was standing in full Superman regalia, ready to fly to work, but in all honesty… he’d never felt less brave in the suit.
He hovered awkwardly for a moment, but he quickly steeled himself, finding his resolve. He was right in front of Bruce in a second, kissing him thoroughly and he didn't stop until he was satisfied. They were both short of breath when Clark pulled away and, with a last peck on Bruce's lips, he stood up with a cheeky grin, happy with his handiwork. He knew he was at least ruffled like Bruce, if even more, but he couldn't find it in himself to care - the wind would fix any rumples anyway.
Bruce huffed at his smug look but rose to his feet, following him to the balcony. They stared at each other, gazes locked, both unwilling to look away. Clark felt giddy, warmth swelling in his chest, and he could hear Bruce’s heartbeat, quicker, a faster rhythm than he often heard.
"So," Clark began tentatively, "I guess I'll see you soon?"
"If you want, I could be here for dinner?"
Still holding his gaze, Clark began to float backward, reluctantly distancing himself from the Manor. "I love you."
Clark rolled his eyes with a snort. "Are we really doing that?"
Bruce’s mischievous grin was captivating. "Yes."
Bruce sighed. "I love you too, Clark. Now go to work."
Clark beamed at Bruce, and even though he’d seen Bruce a thousand times, he still to a moment to commit him to memory: despite his rumpled suit, his morning stubble and his lips kissed raw, Bruce was still the most beautiful man Clark had ever seen. He knew he’d never forget how Bruce looked right now.
"You like it."
And with that Clark left, even though he wanted nothing more than to stay all day in bed with Bruce beside him. But they had time.
They had all the time in the world, now.
Clark sported the most ridiculous grin on his face all day and didn't care at all. All the teasing from Lois and Jimmy was worth it.
Bruce was worth it.