Happiness can be achieved through performing motions attributed to being happy. Act and you will feel the way you act, eventually, just as affirmations make you feel what you say. Because performance has more impact than words or thoughts, taking action is the most effective way of feeling.
Devoted men would argue there is one more thing called belief, but Bruce’s spiritual life ended when he was a child.
He is not sure which parts of his life were happiness and which were just going through motions of being happy. The latter always seemed more prevalent. Handing out gifts to women to make himself love them, pumping money to charities to make himself care, standing on the line of fire to make himself afraid, acquiring knowledge to make himself interested in something, practicing obsessively to awake a passion, fighting to feel he can make a change, that there is hope. It worked like a charm until the inevitable realization that actions form in the brain and feelings belong to the heart and that piece of him was buried right next to his parents, which is fine since pursuit of happiness was not his life goal anyway.
He remembers thinking of Clark’s body, of how useful it would be in his quest of fooling himself, once again, what is the difference between acting and feeling. The actual performance of self-defiance was impressive to say the least, so much that Bruce wanted more of it, not just sex as action taken but sex with Clark, the best distraction he has had in a long time. He did not plan to be in Metropolis that day but the insomnia got worse and he was thinking of this boy in a grown man’s body a little too much, the attraction driving him insane. It was not the first time this happened to him and yet he did not recognize the situation immediately, as if part of his brain was hiding something crucial from the rest. Hunger was prevalent and dull. Unsatisfied. The need burned him deep inside and somehow thinking turned into online stalking and before Bruce knew it, he was a guest speaker at the panel on green energy and Clark was there and all he wanted was to get lost in him, to devour and be devoured. It was almost as if something hauled him when he was not paying attention, so caught up in his own thoughts he did notice how or when his legs lead him to another city, another bed, but he needed this like water. He had no control over it.
It took so little to fall into the pleasant habit of thinking about Clark, sometimes compulsively, of his skin and hair and power, all pliable under Bruce’s gestures. Making love to Clark was not going through motions, oh no, anything but, it was opening up to the point of not knowing if he is the petal of a flower welcoming the sun or the scent that rises from the blooming calyx. Bruce did not need to take action or say the right words to fool himself into feeling happy anymore – he just feels happy, he is happy, and the feeling preludes any action or motion or thought.
That is more terrifying than any villainous trap he fell into over the years, and what finally makes him feel alive.
The first thing he sees is a glass of water and Alka-Seltzer on the nightstand – Alfred’s brand of kindness. Slowly, the events of last night come back to him. He turns to see Clark lounging on the other side of the bed with a newspaper. “Hey,” he smiles gently, so familiar and unusual at the same time. “What time is it?” Bruce rasps. “Almost noon. Alfred came in to wake you up, but we figured you could use some rest.”
“Why you’re not at work?”
“It’s Saturday, Bruce.” Saturday. So, a week has passed again. That does not seem real. Bruce gets up, gulps water from the glass and goes to the bathroom. He is a little surprised that Clark does not follow him there. Somehow, deeply, he wished for him to tag along.
That is not what he should be thinking of. The plan was different. How should he play this out? Act indifferent? Start calling him names? Give the talk? Fuck, why the dumb country boy could not just take goddamn a hint. Extraterrestrial life forms were supposed to be more intelligent than people.
The world seems a bit blurry. Old man who wants to get rid of a beautiful boy from his bed, could you get more pathetic, incompetent, weak, meaningless, inept, you can’t even get your dick up anymore, do you… “Shut up,” Bruce whispers and splashes water on his face. Words, both said and unsaid, float on the stream, drift far away from Bruce to the vast world outside his glass cage.
Clark is making the bed, light and airy like sunbeams. “Would you like some breakfast?” He asks. “Alfred left some soup on the stove but I can make something from scratch…” Bruce stands right in front of him, so close their chests almost touch, “…if you like,” Clark gasps quietly. His eyes move from Bruce’s pecs up to the ugly scar, then rest on his face. Intense bedroom eyes with a little brown spot. It is clear what they want. Bruce hums, satisfied, when their lips meet. Finally, they are on the same page. How convenient to be made of desire for a change. Clark is wearing cotton tracksuit Bruce picked out for him. Periwinkle. Seemed like the only right choice. Bruce takes it off of him with ease, keeps his eyes open when they kiss because he likes the way lashes cast shadow on Clark’s cheeks. It takes a lot of effort to stay in the moment and really drink in the details of Clark’s body, from scratchy hair on the chin to the peach fuzz on the bum, muscles straining beneath indestructible skin. Bruce’s heart starts to beat faster. He still can do this. One grip on Clark’s fully erect manhood is more exciting than the most obscene orgy. Good boy, keen boy, always eager to please. His dick stands at attention without fail, without performance issues, young, hard and taut, ready to fuck at any given moment. (She must enjoy it as much as Bruce does.)
If only he could keep up with the program. Want rises in him like a hot oil but despite his best efforts to stay focused, Bruce’s private parts remain uninterested in what is going on. He thinks of things he wants to do with this beautiful, pliant body, to slap and lick and bite it in the most intimate spots, thinks of the smell from the crotch and the lines of the jaw, he can do everything, he is allowed to take and take and take… “Hey,” Clark notices the overthinking, damn him, he notices everything, “are you with me?”
“It just feels like you’re not really here.” Clark pins him to the bed with a kiss – long, warm and sensual, making Bruce feel like he is closer to the sun than ever before. “Rain check?” He smiles gently. Humiliation cannot get any worse than this, or so Bruce thinks, so he keeps quiet. “I’ll make you breakfast,” Clark gets up and steals one final kiss on the lips, and this is the last time, it really is. It has to be.
“You should go,” Bruce growls. “Oh. Uhmm. I just thought… We haven’t seen each other in so long I thought…”
“Well, you can work all you want. I’ll just do my thing as usual…”
“You need to leave. Now.” Clark finally realizes there is more to the tone than just exhaustion. “Did I do something wrong?”
“Then why are you throwing me out?” Bruce rubs his temples. This is going to be harder than it has any right to be. “Listen. Whatever happened here, you and me, it’s done. We should stop seeing each other.” Clark stays silent but there is a flash of hurt in his blue, blue eyes with a little brown spot. “Is this about the time you’ve met Lois in my apartment?” So she does not know how to keep a secret after all. “Why, is she okay with being cheated on?”
“Cheated?…” Clark chuckles and puts on his clothes. “Is that why you’re so ruffled? We’re not together, Bruce. We were, I won’t deny it. Not anymore. I let her keep the key because she’s my closest friend. I don’t have anyone like her in Metropolis.”
“So she knows everything about you?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that. We’re friends and all…”
“And you tell her everything?”
“Not everything,” Clark cocks his head to the side as if to see better what is in front of him. “You’re worried I’m gonna tell her about Batman, are you?”
“That’s a front cover story if I’ve ever seen one.” Silence falls heavily between them. “I never told her anything about you,” Clark says slowly. “In fact, she was the one who told me you were in my apartment making dinner and then what, you just left?”
“This conversation is over,” Bruce puts on a robe, feeling a migraine incoming. “Take your things and go.”
“Oh no, you’re not gonna cut me off like that.” Bruce sees Clark angry for the first time. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, Bruce. I’m not gonna bend to your will just because you want me to.”
“So what, is there anything else you’d like to tell me?” Bruce raises his voice. “Actually, yes,” Clark clamps his fists, “why did you ask me to drop the Douglas case?”
“I’ve told you that already. Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Quite frankly, I’d like you to repeat yourself. Then you can follow up with why you didn’t want me to know about a mineral of unknown origin being smuggled through Gotham’s arms trade ring to Metropolis. After that, I’d like to hear more about Wayne Enterprises’ investments in the damaged areas of Metropolis. Specifically, how big is the piece of cake Lex Luthor is gonna cut for you in exchange for your military research facilities. By some weird coincidence, both of these cases are connected to Douglas, the very person you forbade me from investigating. You wanted to make it sound like it’s for my own good but it seems you only care about yourself. You’re not… protecting me, you’re protecting yourself. The only person in this room that should be paranoid is me.” Clark gets more intense with every word. “I should be scared of you going to the press. I should worry about my secrets. I should because you have more power than I could ever dream of. With your connections to politicians and millionaires, what chance do I have? But guess what? I’m not scared. Because I trust you. I… choose to trust you. Even when you’re not telling me everything, I believe there’s no ulterior motive, nothing other than… I don’t know.” He wavers suddenly. “Just tell me what’s going on, Bruce. I deserve to know. ”
There is his chance. Clark has already laid out a story for himself. All it takes is to make it seem like it is the truth. It makes sense, it makes sense, make him hate you, make him believe you’re after him, it makes sense, you can’t win with his power, it makes sense, he’ll end you, it makes sense, just make him angry to the point of no return, it makes sense, hurt him deeply, it makes sense, you’re the enemy, it makes sense, he’ll wipe you out, it makes sense, your star of doom has fallen from the sky, the end you were looking for is here, it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense it makes sense …
“Leave.” Bruce feels like words are being said by someone else, not him, not the real him. “I know everything I needed to know about you. Now you’re just a nuisance.” He does not look at Clark as he moves towards the elevator to the cave. “Do you have a file on me?” Question is not filled with anger but something more like remorse. “Multiple.”
At first, Clark does not want to pick up the phone. A small part of him hopes it is Bruce with some sort of apology, although he is not sure what kind of words would make this right. “Mister Kent,” Alfred’s voice on the other side of the line sounds strangely soothing. “I apologize for the late hour. I hope I’m not interrupting anything?”
“No,” Clark is eager to reassure him, a need he does not really understand, “of course not. Hi. Hello.”
“Hello.” Clark can hear the way Alfred weighs every word he wants to say. “Why you’re calling me, Alfred?”
“It’s about master Bruce. Apologies for not getting straight to the point.”
“None needed.” Clark’s throat is tight. He wonders how many times Alfred had to call Bruce’s girls to make up for his ward’s behavior. More than once, undoubtedly. Clark does not want to be a part of this crowd. “You’re too kind, sir.” Alfred sighs like a man who has suffered through too many failures. “Forgive me if my question is too forward but was there a… misunderstanding of some sort between the two of you?”
“Mhmm. Thank you. One more question if you don’t mind. Then I’ll leave you to your activities, sir.”
“Shoot, I guess.”
“Has he taken any prescription drugs in your presence? For the past two weeks, give or take?”
“Yes.” Clark realizes it is not entirely true. “Wait, no. Not recently. I do remember him taking sleeping pills though.”
“I see. Thank you for kindly accepting my intrusiveness. Have a good evening, sir.”
“Wait. Alfred.” Clark feels like a kid and not in a good way. “Just tell me… Is Bruce okay?”
“Hmmm. It is a complicated question I’m afraid.”
“Please try. I’m worried.” Admitting this out loud is like a prayer. Alfred sighs very quietly. “I dare to assume your definition of being okay doesn’t fit what master Bruce goes through. You are extraordinary, of course. Please, don’t take my words astride. However… To put things bluntly: master Bruce is never okay. He feels better or worse. The line between those states is very thin. I must assure you about one thing. Whatever happened and however you may feel right now… Master Bruce doesn’t hate you. What he hates is not being in control. He’ll destroy a good thing if it means sticking to the plan he created in his head. If he destroys something on purpose…”
“Then he won’t destroy it by accident,” Clark finishes the sentence. “Precisely, sir. You’re a good man. I’d hate to see you doubt yourself because of what master Bruce plotted in his little world that doesn’t make sense to regular folks like us.” It is been a while since Clark has been considered a regular folk. It feels pretty nice. “Yeah. If we only knew what’s going on in there.”
That night, there has been a robbery at the Lex Luthor’s laboratories. With his heart beating like a bird trapped in a cage, Clark made some research on what has been stolen. It was not easy. He had to ask Lois for help. She managed to extract the information through her underground sources she never shared with anybody.
Only one thing was lost. A mineral of unknown origin shipped from India. Bat-shaped tokens left no room for imagination on who was responsible for this.