For as long as Bruce could remember, he’d had a hard time waking up in the morning. He wasn’t an early bird gets the worm type. Nor was he really a night owl. Bruce was more like a fanatic insomniac who stayed awake for days at a time then slept for solid twenty-four-hour chunks. During those blissful portions of sleep, he was practically comatose. Impossible to rouse.
When he finally did join the land of the living, it was with a sturdy amount of coffee and a fair amount of growling for the first six hours of his being awake. That was the way it had always been, would always be, with no apologies.
So, it was a natural assumption, that when he was managing to get some sleep, he was to be left undisturbed. This was an unspoken rule in the manor that no one had bothered to break. Not Alfred, not any of the boys. No one.
But then he’d started dating Clark.
Nothing really changed in their schedules with one another. Clark was always easy to work with and was extremely respectful about Bruce’s obsessive and strict habits. After a year, Bruce had asked Clark to move in with him at the manor. Not only did it make sense, but he actually wanted to see Clark more. He wanted to wake up and see the man he loved lying next to him. All of those cozy hallmark-type emotions had gone into Bruce’s logic when he’d offered a house key to Clark. Clark had been ecstatic.
It hadn’t happened quickly.
No, change was insidious like that. It was a slow slide to just the left of Bruce’s normal.
And Bruce allowed the changes, because what else did he expect when he invited someone to move in with him? He knew things would change. So, Bruce said nothing when Clark left the toothpaste on the edge of the sink uncapped for a solid week. He didn’t pick up Clark’s dirty socks he left right beside the hamper rather than inside it. He ignored Clark’s collection of cups on his night stand and even went so far as to wave his no snacking in bed rule, because Clark always got hungry right before bed. And he wanted to be a good boyfriend, didn’t he? He wanted to be the man that Clark loved and respected and adored. The one who made Clark blush like a virgin when he even so much as flashed a knowing smile at him.
But this, this was too much.
Bruce could do the crumbs in bed—though it made him want to strangle someone. He could do the little messes that never fully went away and the invasion of his space in the cave. He could even do the way Clark would sit with his feet up on his desk when Bruce was in the middle of working.
But he didn’t do mornings. And he most certainly couldn’t do Clark’s version of them.
Clark started trying to wake Bruce up for charming little romantic breakfasts or brunches or the very best, sex, after a month. Within a couple weeks of Clark’s attempts, Bruce wanted to kill him. He wanted to string him up on the nearest tree and then slowly dismember him.
On the sixteenth day at the ass-crack of dawn, Bruce was roused by a pair of wandering hands, from a sleep that was so deep and so very much needed that he rolled over and attempted to choke the life clean out of Clark.
It was an entirely unsatisfying endeavor.
“Bruce, what are you doing?” Clark wasn’t actually suffering from Bruce’s attempts nor did he sound even the slightest bit winded, but he did look confused. And hurt.
Probably because he could tell Bruce was actually putting some effort into his ministrations.
Blinking groggily, struggling past a cloud of moisture and a gummy mouth, Bruce assessed Clark who was lying beneath him and slowly retracted his hands. He’d not really made the conscious decision to start choking. It just, sort of happened.
“I was—having a dream.”
“You’ve never done that before. Ever. And I’ve seen some of our pretty bad dreams.”
Bruce swallowed thickly, scrubbing both hands down his face. He didn’t want to do this now. Not when he was this exhausted. He would say the wrong things. He would make Clark mad or worse, hurt his feelings. And it wasn’t that he didn’t like the morning sex or the intimate breakfasts or the ridiculously corny snuggles. That wasn’t the case at all.
It was the fact that he was awake at all.
“It’s not you, it’s me.” Bruce was so sluggish the words came out a little slurred.
Clark’s brows winged up, “What? Now you’re really starting to worry me.”
“I’m not making sense. Don’t worry about it. Give me a couple hours of sleep and I’ll do better.”
Clark frowned, “You just tried to choke me. I think now might be better time to discuss this.”
“Clark,” Bruce’s agitation was ticking up slowly, headed precariously close to the danger zone, “we need to talk. But I can’t do this right now.”
“Do what? What are you talking about?” Clark said the words with just enough worry to mix a hefty dose of guilt on top of the steadily rebuilding red haze in Bruce’s vision. He was going to lose control. He might, maybe, just start trying to bodily harm Clark again if Clark didn’t let him go back to sleep in the next thirty seconds.
“It’s not a big deal.”
A beat of silence, a clear decision to ignore everything Bruce was saying, then, “Then why can’t you say it now?”
Alarms blaring. Frightened workers in his brain screaming that there was a pressure overload and he was about to explode over something he really shouldn’t. Ability to rationalize? Gone. Ability to love the man who had been heartlessly waking him up for the last two weeks? Absolutely gone.
Good choices and all those other fuzzy feelings—gone too.
Bruce ground his teeth, scooted off Clark’s lap and made for the windows. He was aware that his rational functioning brain wasn’t exactly intact. He was also aware of the fact that his hindbrain was about to do all the talking. It was going to get him into trouble.
He still did it.
“Do you see the sky Clark?”
Clark’s brow wrinkled, “Yes.”
“Do you see how the sun is barely sneaking up over the trees there?” Bruce’s voice had gone tight and saccharine. A sure sign he was so furious he could barely see straight. But Clark wasn’t even remotely frightened. He should be. He really should.
“Yes. Where is this going?”
“I’m getting there,” Bruce marched over to the clock on his nightstand and stabbed a finger at it, “do you see what time it is?”
Clark’s expression was starting to wilt but Bruce was too angry to care. He was in full-on ranting mode now. And it felt just a little bit good to know Clark was suffering. At least, in the moment. Regret would come later. It always did.
“Yes,” Bruce sneered, “And I’ve been asleep for all of five hours and thirty-eight minutes. I haven’t slept since Wednesday. I don’t know if you’ve somehow missed this tiny tidbit since we’ve only been dating for over a year, but I have trouble sleeping. I’m not a typical sleeper. I sleep once or twice a week and when I do, I have to stockpile, because if I don’t, I start to go fucking insane. Is the picture sinking in now? Are you understanding why I literally tried to kill you a moment ago?”
Bruce was breathing hard and as he’d been speaking his voice had steadily been rising in volume until he was practically yelling. Alfred could probably hear them. Maybe Tim or Damian. He didn’t care. It wasn’t like he and Clark weren’t known from some pretty spectacular fights.
Clark’s eyes were on the bedspread now, “You were actually trying to kill me.”
“For a frighteningly irrational moment, yes. Did that not come across? I can do it again. How about now?”
“No. I understand.”
Bruce’s right eye was twitching so badly he had to put a hand on it to make it stop. “You can’t do this to me Clark. You just can’t. I need my sleep.”
Clark said nothing.
So, Bruce kept talking. And circling. He didn’t realize he’d started to stray into how much he didn’t like the toothpaste left on the counter until Clark was wrapping him in those big arms, holding his back against Clark’s front.
“It’s not that I don’t love seeing your stuff everywhere, because I do. But I’m starting to freak out with it not having a good place. I need the order. I need places for things and I like my schedule and I don’t like change. You know this. You know me. And yet, you’ve been slowly dismantling me for the last six weeks you’ve been living here.”
“It wasn’t on purpose.”
Bruce shook his head, anger deflating and leaving him feeling weak and empty. Stupid. A little bit ashamed over the temper outburst. “I know that.”
Clark’s arms tightened a little around his waist.
“If you were so miserable with me being here, you should have said something.”
“I’m not miserable,” Bruce bit his lip and sucked in a sharp breath, “I’m just tired. Really very, very tired and I don’t like to get up early. Ever. For good reason. Not just because I’m an asshole.”
Their bedroom was very, very quiet for long painful minutes. Bruce could hear Clark’s steady breathing as it skated down his spine. He could feel Clark’s heart in between his shoulder blades, a steady thump, thump that matched his own. God, he loved him. He loved Clark like he loved breathing. It was natural. Easy. A given.
“I get it. And I’m sorry, Bruce.”
Bruce stilled, “Really?”
“Yes. I won’t leave the toothpaste out. I’ll put laundry in the hamper. I’ll even stop snacking in bed and leaving cups upstairs. Whatever it takes. I want to make this work. If those things bother you, then you need to tell me. If more things come up in the future, you need to tell me those too. That’s how this works. We need to talk to each other. Not bottle it up and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”
“I didn’t want,” Bruce sighed, “I didn’t want to frighten you off with requests. I’ve never lived with anyone like this before. I didn’t want to screw this up.”
“You can’t screw this up.”
“I beg to differ. My track record definitely begs to differ.”
“Bruce, we love each other. We can get through pretty much anything. Haven’t we proven that after all these years? After the last year in particular?”
He was right. They’d gotten through insurmountable odds. Over and over. Their friendship had withstood, and their love would too.
Bruce closed his eyes, letting Clark’s warmth saturate his skin and thoughts. Clark was too good for him. Always would be. But he was never more grateful that Clark didn’t care about that than these sorts of moments. They were fragile snippets of time that made Bruce feel like the luckiest bastard to walk the earth.
“I shouldn’t have started ranting at you like that.”
Clark snorted, “But trying to choke me to death for getting frisky in the morning, that’s OK?”
Bruce shook his head, struggling to hide a chuckle, “I’m sorry about that. I really am.”
“I know. You didn’t mean it.”
“I did actually.”
Clark laughed then, dipping to kiss Bruce’s ear, then the side of his neck until Bruce was leaning back into the kisses and his legs were starting to get rubbery.
“Since I’m already awake, and it is your fault, maybe you could help me get back to sleep?”
More kissing and little nibbles that made every hair on Bruce’s body stand on end. It didn’t take any effort at all, to rotate in Clark’s arms and crush their mouths together. The air shifted, the world tipped, and click, click, click—the world was right again. Everything was right. Clark gripped him harder, almost too hard and Bruce loved it. Maybe he’d fucked up, maybe he should have told Clark before getting to his breaking point, but this—this felt incredible. This part of their relationship was always good and there were almost no pitfalls or danger zones.
This was where Bruce did his best talking.
Bruce had his hands under Clark’s t-shirt, mapping out familiar skin and muscle when Clark stopped him, a laugh bubbling up from his chest.
“What?” Bruce was panting now, his gaze feverish and body aching. He needed Clark. Right now. What could possibly be more important than that?
“What would you say to me waking you up just once a month? Once a month, some hot morning monkey sex, then breakfast in bed.”
Bruce scowled. “Monkey sex?”
“Yeah? You know. Like this. Sort of. Without the fighting part first.”
“Once a month?”
Clark nodded. Waited.
It didn’t sound that unreasonable at the moment. It sounded sort of fair. All things considered. Though he was feeling a little on the wrong side of desperate and he was pretty sure that this could be called extortion. Bruce’s main concern was still making Clark happy. It would always be, no matter how many times he slipped up.
If Clark was willing to make changes, for the good of their relationship, then he was too.
“Yeah?” Clark breathed, biting at Bruce’s bottom lip, dragging it into his mouth. Bruce squirmed.
“Yeah. Whatever you want.”
“Whatever I want?” Clark murmured, pushing Bruce onto the bed, grabbing a fistful of Bruce’s hair in the way he was well aware that Bruce liked. Bruce bowed up and made an embarrassing groan.
“Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”
“Even if I said I wanted you to choke me again? Just like you did before?”
Bruce blinked, “Really? Seriously Clark?”
Clark grinned, snorting with laughter, peppering Bruce with kisses as he did so. “Oh yes. I’m serious. Furious, homicidal you, is very, very hot.”
“Kinky fucking bastard.”
Clark mouthed at his neck again, “At least I’m your kinky bastard.”
“Yeah,” Bruce grinned, dragging Clark further onto the bed, “you’re mine.”