- Singing in the Shower
Clark liked to sing in the shower.
Every morning, at five o’clock sharp, the man would stand under the shower spray and belt out anything from Cindy Lauper to Eminem. He was a paragon of music and knew the lyrics to almost any song on the radio. His eidetic memory allowed him to have perfect recall and Clark used that ability in the most—astounding ways.
Clark sang perfectly on pitch. His ability to manipulate his own vocal chords not only allowed him to mimic almost any voice, something he liked to keep to himself, but it also made it possible for him to sing really rather wonderfully. If not for the volume with which he usually chose to sing.
Over the years of their marriage, Bruce had grown to—appreciate—Clark’s morning performances for what they were. A sign of contentment and joy. A habit that made Clark happy. Bruce would never take that from him. Ever.
So, despite the hour, or the fact that he had no interest in hearing Clark’s rather impressive rendition of Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love, Bruce did what he always did. He spread out like a starfish in the bed, since Clark had kindly vacated the other side, then built a pillow fort around his head to block out most of the noise. Clark’s voice dropped to a low hum beneath the pillows and Bruce drifted pleasantly back into sleep.
Clark always stopped singing when he got to the bedroom to dress.
Bruce would rouse enough to hear the man moving around softly. Damp bare feet on plush carpeting. Strong hands rifling through drawers for rumpled button-downs and too big slacks. The soft snitch of a zipper being done up and the brush of fabric on skin. Every sound Clark made, every little nuance of his morning routine always had the indelible side effect of making Bruce want.
It always made him feel just a hair—needy. Desperate for touches and whispers and secrets beneath the comforters. Where only he and Clark existed.
When Clark was dressed, he always dabbed cologne on his wrists and neck. It was perhaps his only indulgence, as Bruce had bought him a bottle of Paco Robanne on an anniversary a few years back. Clark treated the bottle like it was precious. He never used too much, and it had become Clark’s smell as he wore it every day, without fail.
When the bottle was empty—Bruce would buy him another. And another. And another. Paco Robanne was now Clark’s smell till the end of time. Bruce would never smell it and not think of a thousand memories attached to that scent.
The bed dipped, Clark sat, pushing his feet into his shoes. Bruce stretched a little, pushing pillows off his face, blinking into the gray predawn light to see Clark smiling at him. Clark was a romantic, through and through. He wore his heart in his eyes and even if Bruce had never seen it in the beginning, he could always look there now and see what Clark was feeling. What he was thinking.
“You snored last night.”
Bruce narrowed his eyes, “My nose is stuffy.”
Clark hummed, dipped near and pressed his forehead to Bruce’s, inhaled softly like Bruce was a fine wine to be savored. “It was cute.”
Bruce wrapped his arms around Clark’s neck and trapped him close, sealed his mouth over Clark’s and lazily kissed him for a moment. Just a moment. Clark let him, though he needed to get to work. Bruce still held on. He did every morning. Bruce couldn’t even remember a morning that didn’t go like this.
“I’ll be back by six Bruce,” Clark murmured, skating those big hands down Bruce’s sides, teasing a little too much to not be aware of what he was doing to Bruce.
Bruce bit back a retort and instead buried his nose in Clark’s neck. “Stay home. Play hookie with me.”
“I can’t—I’ve got an article—Bruce,” Clark’s voice strained when Bruce held tighter, pressed more kisses into invulnerable skin, “Bruce—you aren’t being fair.”
“I own the Planet. As your boss, I could order you.”
Clark sighed, combed Bruce’s hair off his forehead, stared down at him with those wide blue eyes and then smiled sweet as pie. Bruce’s stomach curled.
“You’re a terrible influence on me.”
“After all these years, I think we’ve established that.”
Clark cocked his head, “I suppose we have.”
“Get back in bed.”
Clark considered him a moment, but Bruce knew he’d already won. It was in Clark’s eyes. The secrets to his soul. Clark tugged off his tie, pulled off those shoes he’d just put on, then laid back into the bed on the small wedge Bruce had left open. Bruce didn’t scoot over to make room, but rather sprawled over Clark, draping himself like a human blanket. Clark’s chuckle was a pleasant hum in Bruce’s ear. A lullaby.
Lips pressed to his forehead, warm and familiar. Bruce sighed into Clark, smelled that Paco Robanne on his neck and felt his eyelids drooping.
Clark’s arms tightened around him, pinning him, and Bruce welcomed it.
“When you wake up—”
“I know,” Bruce whispered, “I’ll make it up to you. Just—a few more minutes.”
It would always be a few more hours. Clark never bothered to correct him or chastise him.
- Taking Notes for Future Arguments
Clark carried around a moleskin notepad in his back pocket without fail.
He never left the house without it. He never forgot it behind in some obscure location. It was always on hand, ready for some chicken scratch idea that would be later turned into a beautifully written and well-thought out article.
But of course, that wasn’t the only thing he was jotting down.
Bruce learned back in year one of being together, before marriage, that Clark took notes. About everything. And everyone. Bruce was no exception.
What did Bruce like for breakfast? How did he like his eggs prepared? What sort of face did he make when he’d just had mind-blowing sex? If it could be recorded, Bruce became abundantly aware that Clark would write it down. He wasn’t obvious about it, nor did he do it right in front of Bruce. No, that would be foolish.
Clark kept his note taking to himself for the most part. Because of his uncanny memory, he could sit down hours later and write everything he’d witnessed to his heart’s content. When Bruce first noticed the strange habit, he’d written it off as simply being an eccentric storyteller. Clark was a man of words. He wrote for a living. And not just articles, but books. He loved literature and respected it. Journaling—was merely another extension of that passion.
Besides, Bruce was no stranger to writing down and logging almost anything he could get his hands on. He wasn’t one to judge that need.
Until curiosity won out over Bruce’s desire to be respectful of Clark’s privacy and Bruce actually read some of what Clark had been writing down.
Some of the observations were harmless. Sweet.
Best time for cuddles with B=morning.
Bruce scrunches his nose when he’s angry.
Bruce is ticklish on his sixth rib.
Those weren’t things he minded all that much. Bruce thought Clark’s silly half-baked thoughts were endearing and kind. He could see Clark smiling as he wrote them down.
But then he got to a section of the notepad distinctly marked, Arguments, and his opinion of the little notepad and its harmlessness shifted. Clark wrote down things that bothered him in the notepad about Bruce. Things he needed to bring up—for a later time and ranked by importance level.
Bruce—working too much. Needs more sleep.
Took too many risks on the Andarion mission. Speak about armor upgrades.
Date nights? Need more. Miss him.
When Clark walked in the room and caught Bruce red-handed with that notepad, Bruce almost, almost dropped it and scuttled back. Because those words were private, and he’d clearly made a mistake. Because what he’d been doing had been a gross violation Clark’s space and autonomy.
Clark’s expression was neutral—a blank mask. Which could mean a plethora of things. Bruce waited a beat, put the notepad back down on the dresser he’d found it and then stepped back.
“Don’t stop on my account.”
Clark’s voice sounded, off. Angry? Upset? Hurt? Bruce couldn’t tell. His heart was a thundering crash in his chest, pounding in the shells of his ears.
Clark lifted a brow, striding over to the dresser to pick up the notepad. “None of what’s in here is really a secret Bruce. But I—I wish you wouldn’t have thought you needed to snoop. You could’ve just asked.”
Bruce could feel the sting of a blush tingling his cheeks, “I wasn’t thinking. Forgive me.”
Clark’s face scrunched, “There’s nothing to forgive.”
“I shouldn’t have—”
Clark stuffed the notepad into his back pocket where it always went then reached for Bruce’s hand. “It’s fine. Mostly it’s just a little embarrassing having you read all of that. They are just reminders or tidbits I liked and didn’t want to forget.”
Bruce nodded, “I didn’t think you forgot anything.”
Clark smirked, forgiveness and something only for Bruce in those eyes. Affection and understanding. “I don’t. But writing it down keeps my thoughts organized. And it’s habit. I like doing it. Does it bother you?”
And that was the truth. Maybe it was a little strange that Clark wrote it all down. Maybe it made Bruce feel a little like he was a specimen to be studied. But that was alright. It wasn’t a big deal. Not really.
“How much did you read?”
Bruce lifted a brow, “How much is in there? Does it get more detailed as you go?”
It was Clark’s turn to blush, his mouth quirking into a sheepish grin. “A bit.”
“Can I read it?”
“It’s more than you probably want to see.”
Bruce laughed, “Show me.”
Clark wasn’t kidding. He wrote it all down. Some of the most embarrassing details of Bruce’s likes and dislikes, graced those pages in black and white.
At the end of the day, Bruce had only one request. The notepad got locked in the safe at night. And Clark needed to write his notes in Kryptonian. In case someone ever got a hold of it.
Clark happily agreed. Marriage was all about compromises after all.
- Snacking in Bed
It was more than the crumbs in the covers or the smell of garlic crisps that lingered in the air. It was the absolutely obnoxious noise of crunching snacks that Clark perpetually chose to eat in their bed that usually put Bruce on edge.
This was by far, one of Clark’s worst habits.
This was not a new trend. Bruce usually did his best to remain silent on the matter. Clark liked to snack in bed while they watched the evening news or read. They were the epitome of an old couple with their glasses on the end of their noses and a crossword or sudoku in hand at night. Bruce enjoyed the predictability of their ingrained schedule and even though he occasionally felt like slapping Clark upside the head for his snacking choices, he could suffer through it.
For the sake of peace and relaxation. To prevent an argument.
But this night—Clark had brought up a bag of popcorn. Extra buttery, smelling like a million fatty carbs, and was eating them ravenously. Noisily.
Bruce’s right hand began twitching on his book about a minute into the snacking. Three minutes later, his whole body was trying to convulse and he was very, very close to simply bolting from the bed to escape or prying the bag of popcorn from Clark and throwing it away.
“What the hell is in that popcorn? Rocks?” he grumbled, eyes carefully on his book. He’d reread the same line five times in a row.
Clark stopped eating, shrugged both shoulders, “It’s just popcorn. I skipped lunch and dinner feels like it was ages ago. Is it bothering you?”
Bruce swallowed, gave a curt shake of his head, then went back to reading. Clark, went back to demolishing the popcorn. It took him eight minutes exactly to finish the bag, to throw it away, to go wash his hands and brush his teeth. Bruce felt like an animal that had been having its hair pet wrong for the last hour. He was decidedly crabby and certainly not in the mood when Clark slipped back into bed and then curled into him.
The air smelled faintly of butter still.
“What are you reading?”
Bruce blinked down at Clark, who had draped an arm possessively over Bruce’s waist and was trying to scoot him further to lying down. Bruce stubbornly stayed sitting up. “Trickle Down Poverty. It’s interesting.”
“It sounds dry as hell.”
Bruce felt the corner of his mouth tip. “It can be.”
“If you’re looking to help yourself get sleepy enough for bed, I’ve got a few ideas.”
Bruce shook his head, putting the book down on his lap, “I’m tired.”
“Oh?” Clark asked softly, eyes disappointed, “Sure I can’t persuade you?”
When Bruce said nothing, because really, what was there to say when Clark gave him that look, the one that made his insides turn to liquid and his thoughts scatter. All at once, the smell of buttery popcorn lingering in the air seemed like an aphrodisiac and the irritation of listening to Clark eat his snacks in bed, definitely seemed worth it.
Especially when Clark delicately took his book and pressed Bruce down into the sheets with a mouth that was hungry and slowly devouring him. Bruce had never appreciated more the fact that Clark always, always brushed his teeth before bed. He tasted like mint and his hands were everywhere, under Bruce’s shirt, sneaking into the back of his sweats for a handful of Bruce’s ass. It was incredible how quickly Bruce could go from wanting to kill Clark, to wanting Clark to do this to him.
“You seem—a little more willing now? Am I—” Clark licked a stripe up Bruce’s neck, bit down on his earlobe, “Am I reading you wrong?”
Bruce shook his head, panted out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Don’t stop.”
“Your wish is my command.”
Cheezey. So, Clark. So good.
When they’d finished and snuggled into each other, Clark always taking his place as the big spoon, Bruce hardly even cared that he could see a piece of leftover popcorn hiding in the sheets. He hardly cared at all.
- Buying Flowers
Clark had a soft spot for flowers. He loved them.
Every color, every breed, every arrangement. There wasn’t a flower that Clark Kent met that he didn’t love.
Every Sunday afternoon, Clark would fly to the farmer’s market outside of Smallville and would buy some sort of arrangement to grace their bedroom. During the colder months, he went to the florist that was still in business next to the UPS. After seven years of marriage, Bruce would think something was absolutely wrong with Clark if he didn’t see a new vase of flowers sitting on their dresser by Sunday evening. Or the nightstand. Or the bathroom counter. Clark sometimes bought one bouquet, sometimes three. It depended on his mood. But the man was a creature of habit and always, always bought flowers on Sundays.
When Clark was feeling especially happy, he usually brought home wildflowers. Bruce imagined they reminded him of the farm. Of picking handfuls of flowering weeds out of fields for his mother to put in a vase and coo over. If wildflowers were brought home, Clark would want to make love slow and sweet. Careful touches and lots of whispered promises.
If Clark brought home roses, he was usually feeling romantic. He was old-fashioned like that and roses were the symbol of love and fidelity. Of passion. If the roses were red, they were probably going on a date. Yellow, maybe a picnic or swim out in the pool before snuggling under a blanket to stargaze. If pink, Clark might massage him into a puddle then keep him chained to the bed till morning. Clark didn’t buy pink roses often, but when he did, it was a treat.
Bruce’s birthday was almost always Lily of the Incas, Alstroemeria. The flower of friendship. In pinks and reds for affection and warmth. With a few oranges, that symbolized working towards a goal.
Daffodils were for spring and joy. For happy and positivity.
Sunflowers were always for Mother’s Day. Bruce knew Martha Kent had the same bouquet on her own dining room table, year after year.
Crocus and Ivy for Father’s day.
Mums for the fall and many of them. Their bedroom became a veritable garden of autumnal colors. Clark loved the fall. He loved harvest and pumpkins and the crush of dead leaves underfoot.
Winter usually brought holly, cranberry garlands, and mistletoe. And every anniversary of his parents’ death Dahlia with Cypress. Clark told him once that Cypress meant mourning, grief, and despair but that Dahlia meant elegance and dignity. It meant something special to Bruce that Clark took the time to pick flowers with meanings. That he researched and was careful about what he did and why he did it.
On Clark’s thirty-third birthday, Bruce filled their bedroom to bursting with every assortment known to man of flowers. There was no rhyme or reason to the kinds he’d chosen, only that they were colorful and unique. Like Clark.
Bruce waited for Clark in their bedroom, holding a bottle of Clark’s favorite craft beer, rather than the champagne he might have wanted, and got his reward the moment Clark opened the door.
The stunned look on his face was worth every penny, every headache in setting it up. The bedroom was overflowing to the brim, smelling like a greenhouse on speed, but it was worth it. So, so worth it to see Clark’s eyes wide and his mouth hanging open like that.
Clark blinked, turned in a circle to study all the vases and the overcrowding of color, then he smiled, and it was the biggest smile Bruce had ever lain eyes on. Boyish, sunny, and laughing. It was breathtaking.
“This is—it’s amazing. Thank you, Bruce.”
Bruce held out the beer, waited for Clark to take it and then shook his head with a laugh when he saw what it was. “Beer and flowers. What more could a man want?”
Clark slung an arm over Bruce’s shoulders, tipped back his head and swallowed a mouthful of the dark brew like he was about to start a battle cheer. There were years that Bruce nailed it when it came to gifts and years when it merely came close. This was probably his best.
“I love you, you know that? I love you so damn much.”
Warmth and heat flooded Bruce’s middle at Clark’s words, said with so much fervor and determination. Said like they could be the last words he ever said.
Bruce turned into Clark, wrapped both arms around his husband and held so tightly it would have hurt anyone else. Clark merely held back, nuzzled Bruce’s hair and sighed into the hold. Every day it was like this. They’d be apart, working separately, doing their part and then they’d come back together, and everything would slide comfortably back into its spot. Back to being ‘right’.
“I love you too,” Bruce whispered, feeling his throat tighten inexplicably.
Bruce could feel Clark smiling. “I don’t want to leave. Can we eat up here?”
“That’s the plan.”
“God Bruce,” Clark fisted a handful of Bruce’s hair and forced his head back, arched Bruce’s neck into a long line for sampling, “You know me too well. This is perfect.”
Bruce’s eyes fluttered closed, “You still going to buy flowers on Sunday?”
Clark lifted his head, his mouth grinning as his eyes laughed, “Absolutely. I’m a creature of habit.”
Yes, yes, he was. And god help him, Bruce loved that too.
- Never Going to Bed Angry
Clark had a rule about arguments. Well, he had a few actually, but Bruce never really had a problem with the rest of the rules. Just the one.
For Clark, one of the most dangerous things to do as a couple, was to go to sleep angry with one another. At some point in time, Ma and Pa Kent had drilled it into the man that there was a magic recipe to making a relationship last. Good communication, similar values, enough interests to share, a healthy amount of sex, and perhaps the most sacred—never going to bed angry.
The first time they’d had a really bad argument when married, Bruce had been so furious with Clark, he’d stomped out of their bedroom and locked himself in the cave. He’d stayed there half the night until he was calm enough to return and slink into bed. Or so he’d thought. But Clark was wide awake, all the lights on, waiting.
Just waiting to fix things between them so he could go to sleep.
Bruce hadn’t been in the mood to fix things. Sure, he’d calmed down and wasn’t ready for violence anymore, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He certainly didn’t want to share feelings. Not when he could barely see straight.
“We need to talk.”
“No,” Bruce snapped, going to his side of the bed, turning down the comforters, “We don’t. I’m tired. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
“No,” Clark shook his head vehemently, “We talk now. We don’t go to bed mad at each other. It’s a rule.”
“What, another one?”
Bruce growled, low and threatening when Clark grabbed his wrist and prevented him from fluffing his pillow.
“I’m serious Bruce. We need to fix this first.”
“And I’m serious about going to bed.”
Bruce lifted a brow, jerked his arm out of Clark’s hold. “Clark.”
The stalemate had lasted until Clark was forced to grab Bruce, sit him on his lap and remain in a frigid glaring contest for nearly an hour. In the end, Bruce had gone limp on Clark’s lap and Clark had started talking. Talking in circles, apologizing, saying he never liked to fight, and that Bruce should know how much he loved him.
The reality was, the argument had been stupid.
Bruce was heading a sting operation with Gordon in the narrows. It was a well-known that there were Russian connections involved and that the illegal trade of armor piercing rounds were being sold with every weapon imaginable. Some of the operation had spilled into Metropolis and right into Clark’s territory.
Clark had asked to come. As backup. As a safety net. Just in case.
“Armor piercing rounds are dangerous. I can’t stand the thought of losing you.”
Bruce had refused. This refusal set off an argument about being taken seriously as Batman, as a leader in the League, and so on. Clark hadn’t meant to make him feel like less of a man or like he was too fragile to do his fucking job. But he had.
So, Bruce accepted the apologies, offered a few of his own, and they finally went to bed when the sun was coming up. Not angry, but exhausted. Just as Clark wanted.
That night set a precedent for every argument on. They were never allowed to go to bed angry with one another.
It had happened in their marriage a few other times. Almost always in the same fashion. Clark refusing to let either of them sleep until a solution was made, Bruce always getting man-handled because Clark was well—an alien—and then they’d make up and go to bed in a somewhat peaceful fashion.
Even so, every time it happened, every time, Bruce felt outright murderous.
Maybe because he was hurting. Maybe because he’d bruised the shit out of his ribs and it was hard to take in a deep breath or because his forehead ached where Alfred had stitched him up. Or maybe it was because his muscles felt like jelly. Worse than jelly, fried jelly. He needed to sleep for a solid twelve hours before he finished this argument.
But Clark wasn’t going to let that happen. Because this was Clark and despite all the years of being together, this habit, this obsession—of making sure they never went to bed angry, had not changed.
“Bruce, please. Let’s not make a big deal out of this.”
“I’m not the one making this a big deal. You are,” Bruce groused, side-stepping Clark who’d come prepared and was standing in the doorway with determination flashing in his gaze. Bruce made it all the way to the bathroom before Clark was at his back, talking again. Bruce tuned out most of it. Hot water filled the bathroom with steam and Bruce merely lifted a brow when Clark kept talking while undressing too. Like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Which it would be, because they often showered together, except they were still fighting. Only now naked while passing shampoo and body wash back and forth. It was one of their more sedate arguments as far as not yelling or throwing things went.
“I still don’t understand why you’re mad at me, Bruce.”
“Why I’m mad?” Bruce ground out, rubbing soap out of his eyes, “Why I’m mad?”
“You know I don’t like social events. You know this and yet, you went ahead and invited a bunch of people over to our house without speaking to me.”
Clark had the decency to look chagrined, “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
“I hate surprises.”
“I know but—shouldn’t we celebrate a little? I mean, fifteen years is a long time and I just—I thought it might be nice to have a small intimate party with friends and family. It didn’t seem like,” Clark shuffled in the shower, water sluicing down his long frame in a manner that was distracting. Bruce thought it might be the bump to his head making him sway. Maybe not. He was godawful tired. “I didn’t think it would upset you this badly. It’s our anniversary and you shouldn’t be upset. I can cancel it. I can call everyone.”
That would be worse. Because then Bruce would be left feeling guilty and like the bad guy. Which he already felt enough of on a daily basis in his line of work.
“It’s not you,” Bruce’s voice sounded thick and slurred. Pain meds were kicking in. “I had a bad night. I’m tired, Clark.”
“I know,” Clark was already close, wet skin hot against Bruce’s, arms holding Bruce’s weight easily.
“I don’t like people Clark.”
“I know that too.”
They sat silent, hugging beneath the spray of water for long minutes. Bruce didn’t realize he’d started to drift off until Clark turned off the water and picked him up. Bruce would have protested any other time, especially as he hated being carried, but instead he let his head loll on Clark’s chest and said nothing.
Clark set him down on the carpet by the mirror, dried him off slowly, combed back his hair and then frowned at the fresh stitches by his scalp.
“You’ll have a shiner to go with this.”
“I’ve got makeup.”
Clark’s frown deepened, “You always do a mess of covering it up. I’ll stay a few extra minutes to help you before I go to work in the morning.”
“Thank you,” Bruce whispered, a soft smile curving his mouth, “Can we go to bed? Is this the official, ‘we aren’t mad anymore’ bit?”
Clark cocked his head, “Are you still upset about the party on Saturday.”
“But are you mad at me?”
Bruce considered Clark for a moment, using Clark’s shoulders to keep himself steady, “No. I’m not mad.”
“Alright then,” Clark’s mouth twitched, “we can go to bed.”
Clark traced lines into Bruce’s skin when they crawled beneath the covers. Bruce was wearing a t-shirt and briefs, but Clark had one hand underneath, swirling around his belly button, tickling patterns into his hipbones.
“Do you think you’ll ever grow tired of me?”
The question was a whisper in the dark, a vulnerable thin one that speared Bruce right in the chest. He reached blindly for Clark’s hand and grabbed on hard, stilling it over his ribs, “Never, Clark.”
“You mean that?” Clark sounded sleepy too, close to slipping away.
“Good,” Clark hummed, kept up the tracing again once Bruce let his hand go. They sat silent, enjoying the shared warmth and the smell of shampoo on their skin until Bruce felt Clark go slack. Then Bruce said a little prayer, just a tiny one.
It was one of thanks.