Bruce didn’t know if he should be furious with Clark—or—
“What the fuck is this?”
“It should be fairly obvious Bruce.”
Bruce bit down on his tongue, biting so hard he tasted blood in his mouth and then took several calming breaths through his nose. They’d discussed this before. Albeit, it had been at a time when they were both fairly compromised, intellectually at least. But still, this had been discussed. And he distinctly remembered telling Clark that under no circumstances—none, not ever—would he ever be interested in all the trappings of a traditional relationship.
They were far from traditional. Weren’t they? Batman and Superman. Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. Light and Dark. By all rights, they didn’t belong anywhere near each other, let alone sharing the same bed. And yet, they did. And had, for the last year without everything crumbling down around them.
That should have quelled the ugly thoughts that liked to play in Bruce’s mind when the days were soft and the nights silent. It hadn’t. Bruce still wondered what Clark saw in him. Bruce still questioned why the hell Clark was with him, why he loved him, why they even worked so well together?
It didn’t matter that Clark had become his oxygen and without him, Bruce would suffocate. That had never mattered before. If Bruce had learned anything, it was that life was cruel and unfair and that when he was happy, when good things were happening to him, then they weren’t bound to last. He didn’t need anyone, even Clark, reminding him of the passage of time with frivolous little anecdotes or holidays meant for everyone else.
They weren’t meant for him. Them. They were meant for other people. Not Bruce.
Bruce didn’t want the trappings of the traditional. He didn’t want anniversaries, grand romantic gestures, or even profound words. He’d done all those things before and it had always ended in disaster. This was a fact that Bruce had already made, he thought, abundantly clear.
Bruce’s eyes jerked up to Clark’s and held, for a long, withering minute, communicating all sorts of irritations and condemnations.
“Arguing in your head. If you’re going to do it, do it out loud. Where I can hear it. And if needs be, defend my case.”
Bruce snorted, trying for disdain, but it came out more like a bubbling of upset, “We talked about this.”
Clark’s brows rose, “Oh, you mean, you talked about it, and I listened? Because if that’s what you mean, then yes, we talked about it.”
“Clark—I told you I wasn’t interested in this,” he waved a hand vaguely at the candles lit around their bedroom and the flower petals decorating the bed. The balcony windows were open, and it smelled like gardenia and rose. Like home. He wished it didn’t make him want to throw Clark across the bed and just pretend the flower petals and the candles and the champagne chilling on the patio didn’t exist.
He liked simple.
This—this feeling in his chest, crowding up the back of his throat, threatening to choke him—wasn’t simple. It hurt. It soothed. It did things to his heart that felt like he wanted to shred the organ bodily from his chest and offer it to Clark on bended knee. It made him feel vulnerable. Needy. Angry.
God, angry, that Clark would force him to feel like this in the first place.
Simple. Goddamn it. He needed simple. He told Clark as much when they started this. He’d all but demanded it and Clark had quietly gone along with it.
“Bruce—I didn’t do this to make you angry.”
“Really?” he snapped, folding his arms over his middle.
“Really,” Clark’s voice softened, and his posture followed suit until it reached his eyes and turned them Caribbean blue. Enchanting and bewitching to the flicker of candles that incessantly proclaimed their presence by casting everything in shades of tangerine and peach. “It’s been a year, babe. A year. Can’t we celebrate that? Even a little?”
Bruce swallowed, and it felt like he was going to suffocate on the lump there. “I don’t need it. We don’t need it.”
“I might. It’s been a challenging year. We’ve run into our fair share of—” Clark’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he smirked, “hiccups. But we made it through. And I’d like to make note of that. A small one. A tiny footnote at the end of a chapter, before beginning another. It’s not big. Or frightening. It doesn’t need to be.”
Clark had slowly been crossing the room and as distracted as Bruce was by the room itself, he didn’t notice until he was nearly eye to eye with him.
“No. Don’t do that either.”
“What?” Bruce growled now, taking a step back, only to hit a wall he hadn’t realized he’d been steadily backing up into. “Do what? Be myself?”
“No,” Clark said softly, “Run from me. Don’t do it. We’ve done it before and you know I just follow you.”
“Stalking is not the same as following.”
“I don’t—” Bruce bit his lip, letting his eyes slip closed to block out their bedroom and everything it represented, “I don’t like this.”
“Then why did you do it? We’ve been happy, haven’t we? Everything has been going good, right?” Bruce choked out the words, frightened by how close he was to tears over something so trivial. A few candles and champagne and he was a trembling child? It was pathetic. Laughable.
“Very happy,” Clark agreed, invading Bruce’s space with a steady exhalation, his warm breath tracing lines over Bruce’s cheeks. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not running away. We aren’t crumbling. And if we want to celebrate that fact, it won’t make those terrible things happen either. It’s just a day. For you and me. Just one, in this quiet space, away from prying eyes, where we get to savor and laugh and enjoy. That’s all this is.”
“We could do that any day.”
“Clark—” the word was a sigh and it must have sounded near enough to submission because Clark dipped his head and captured Bruce’s mouth in kiss as light as butterfly wings. Gentle, coaxing, and pleasant. Warmth flooded Bruce’s middle and liquified his bones, just like it always did when Clark touched him, and he found himself leaning into Clark, savoring the smells of candle wax and Clark’s Dial soap in the hollow of his throat.
Clark’s hands were tracing his face, running along the angles of his cheekbones and down his throat, pushing all the buttons he’d learned so easily and Bruce almost—almost forgot where he was. And what he was mad about. And why he felt that horrific tremble of panic when he first walked in their door and saw what Clark had done.
He stopped Clark with a hand on his chest. One hand. He wouldn’t need more. Clark always listened immediately. He was always infinitely careful with him. So, he stopped easily, peering down at Bruce with those alien blue eyes that were more pupil than color now, and quirked his mouth.
“I—” Bruce blinked a few times, tried to clear his head but couldn’t quite manage with the heat of Clark pressing in all around him. The sheer size of Clark drowning him. “I don’t know.”
“What if I spend the evening persuading you? I happen to have set up a fabulous date. Candles, champagne, dinner washed in moonlight out in the summer balm? Could be pretty romantic.”
“Dear God Clark.”
“Is that a yes?”
Bruce could keep arguing. He could keep holding onto the idea that if he let himself enjoy this, really believe that it is real and for keeps, that it would end. A year ago, he would have. A year ago, he’d been pining after his best friend, thinking that it was some sort of divine justice to suffer such a punishment. That he’d earned the torment.
But that wasn’t now. That wasn’t here.
He loved Clark. Clark loved him. If the past year, hadn’t proven that, what else could? Before he could stop himself, Bruce was leaning back into Clark, twining his fingers in that black silken hair and losing himself.
“Dinner will be cold,” Clark murmured into his mouth, nipping at his lips, as he was already wrapping Bruce’s legs around his hips in such an effortless display of strength, it made Bruce dizzy.
Clark chuckled, putting Bruce down on the mattress, soft and sure. Easy. Like he’d done countless times.
“Can I say it?”
Bruce sighed, sinking deeper into the silk, melting like butter beneath Clark’s mouth as it traveled down his neck and started in on his shirt. “I can’t put two brain cells together to care.”
Clark’s head lifted, a cheeky smile marking him the victor. Marking him his lover. His partner. His everything.
“Happy anniversary, Bruce.”
Bruce couldn’t say it back. Not with his mouth anyways. But he was certain Clark got the message.