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Relinquishing Control

Chapter Text

It had been a long night.  Batman was trying to check on gang activity in crime alley, but every news outlet was screaming that Bruce Wayne had nearly been blown up by a pair of pipe bombs at the benefit he had been attending. That wasn’t new intel to him. Batman was appalled with himself for missing it, but he had found two chemical bombs that evening, and Harvey Dent loved to work things in pairs. Unfortunately this time that meant two chemical bombs and two regular explosives.  It wasn’t a mistake Batman was going to make again.

"I need a stand in for the next party, or Bruce Wayne does..." Batman mused.

"Master Richard," Alfred suggested.

"Too short, it would look suspicious if Bruce Wayne were always being rescued by Tiny Batman." He rejected the idea.

"Tiny Batman? Please tell me that isn't my codename now." Dick's voice was far closer to the chair than he should have been, Batman should have heard him skulking around, but the blast earlier was still ringing in his ears.

"Dick, what are you doing here?" The question lacked tact, but Batman had a reputation for tactics, not tact.

"You're hurt. I'm here to help." Batman spun the chair lazily to look up at Nightwing. His first son had always been more human than Batman, or even Bruce Wayne.

“I’m fine, I just--”

“Nearly got blown up on national television because you didn’t think to tell the league or your FAMILY what happened.” Robin’s voice came in on the encrypted frequency.  “Penny-One, can you send me GPS coordinates for the deal Red Robin told us about?” he added, almost as an afterthought.

“Master Bruce if you could find it in yourself to move from the primary controls,” Alfred crowded Batman, reaching to the controls to comply.

“What are you doing?  I am fine!” Batman sprang away from the chair, forcing his body to move naturally, to not limp or slink.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my bleeding, ruptured ear drums.  Oh wait, that’s your eardrums, right.  How’re the ribs doing?  I figure having two cracked ribs on your right side would affect your breathing a bit.  Probably affect your posture if you didn’t have so much Kevlar literally forcing you upright.” Nightwing sniped. Great. The talking thing.

“Dick I don’t have time for--”

“For what? To heal? To sleep?” Nightwing took off his mask, rubbing his eyes while they adjusted to the natural light instead of the HUD. “ You were just injured on League business and now this? There isn’t even a threat, Bruce, you’re running yourself ragged over drug dealers and street punks.” They were definitely doing the talking thing.

“It’s three ribs, by the way, and swelling in his left knee.” Batgirl sauntered from one of the cave’s convenient shadows with an encrypted frequency smartphone in her hand.

“I haven’t x-rayed them so I’ll have to take your word for it,” Batman glared, a gesture made mostly pointless since he had changed the clear eye covers for white to make the heads up display less conspicuous.

“Someone has,” Dick countered. Batman was about to ask how or who when his HUD pinged:

 

-All WayneCorp Appointments cancelled, out of office email set.

-New Appointment created: Sleep, Bruce.

-Appointment set for 3 minutes from now.

 

“What the hell is this?” Did you do this?” He asked Dick, furious.

Dick, without his display, clearly had no idea what Batman meant. His confused face was nearly comical but Batman didn’t feel like laughing.

“I did it.” Robin answered over the channel.

“Don’t punish the kid, I told him to,” Batgirl shrugged, walking toward Dick.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Batman growled.  He turned suspiciously to follow her movement as she rounded behind him. 

She paused a second, clearly pleased, “I’m the goddamned Batgirl.” The tranq dart struck the side of his throat nearest to Alfred, sticking just above where the suit would have repelled it.  

Bruce thought some not very tactful thoughts as his vision swam, Batgirl and Dick catching him before he could hit the ground and jostle his ribs any farther. The last thing he saw was Babs leaning in with a cheshire grin to plant a kiss on his cheek.

 

###

 

When he had heard that Bruce Wayne had been blown up, Clark Kent had nearly leapt from the nearest window to fly to Gotham himself.  He had more presence of mind, and his panicked search revealed he could hear Bruce’s heartbeat.  Steady, regular, only slightly elevated, a heartbeat he could pick out in a whole planet of hearts.  Thankfully when Bruce had been lost in time, none of the league had questioned that ability of his.  When he was sure that Bruce was okay, and he was headed back to the manor, undoubtedly planning on going out to patrol that night, Clark picked up his phone, dialing a number from memory.

“Clark Kent, to what do I owe the pleasure?” A warm voice chirped from the other end after exactly two rings.

“Dick, it’s great to hear your voice. Say, did you hear that Bruce ruptured his eardrums at that charity event he went to with Mr. Dent?”  Clark had heard the EMTs as they explained the damage to the seemingly unruffled billionaire.

“You know, I hadn’t heard that yet, anything else I should know about?”  Dick sounded aggravated.  Clark knew that despite it being his words, the younger man wasn’t angry with him.

“Couple of broken ribs, his bad knee’s a little wrenched, and between you and me, this is closer to that league activity than I think he had expected.”  Clark was careful to keep his speech guarded, but he knew Dick would understand: Batman was wearing himself thin.  Superman peered around and found Dick in Bludhaven, packing his suit and escrima sticks into a duffle bag.

“I’m on it.”  Dick said, hanging up and shoving the phone into his jacket pocket.  “Don’t you worry about a thing.” he mumbled to himself.

A few short hours later, Clark fiddled with a pen at his desk at the Daily Planet.  He had already done his writeup of the bomb attack and now he was watching what was undoubtedly a very personal drama unfold (Through a bit of the Earth’s upper mantle, with x-ray vision, extraordinary concentration, and skill).  Dick accused the glowering Bat of having two broken ribs, so Clark texted a very secret number to tell Batgirl that it was, in fact, three ribs and his knee.  Clark had heard her conspiring with the butler earlier that evening, but watching the events were somehow even more satisfying than he could have hoped.  As Alfred helped Dick and Barbara strip the vigilante’s armor for bed, Clark hit send on the writeup and checked out for the night, fully expecting a visitor the next morning.  No one pulls a plan like this on the Batman without him finding out.

Chapter Text

Bruce woke at an ungodly early 9 AM with a mouth full of cotton and a pillow still damp with drool.  He eased himself carefully up off the mattress, minding his freshly wrapped ribs--thank you, Alfred-- and headed directly into the bathroom to complete his transformation from drugged zombie to human being.  

Sometime in the middle of brushing his teeth Bruce decided against killing Batgirl, but he was still in a rather murderous mood when he stepped out of the shower. He spotted the omelet laden breakfast tray and note on his newly made bed as he wandered out of the bathroom to dress.  Alfred's note specifically did not apologize for knocking him out, it simply stated that the butler was sorry that he couldn't help rewrap Bruce's ribs after his shower, but he had an engagement planned for that morning because when it had been scheduled he hadn't expected Bruce to rise before noon.

The omelet was delicious and did nothing to lighten Bruce's mood.

Bruce mused over the conversation the night before. Dick came because someone told him about the head injury he had sustained while helping the League, and Barbara joined because she and Dick were tentatively on again in their longstanding... whatever it was. Babs had mentioned his ribs and he didn't doubt that it was three cracked, but he knew Alfred hadn't X-rayed him.

He had a drive to make.

Even the great hulking dog Titus was nowhere to be found as Bruce left the house in his most casual suit, sliding into one of his civilian cars for the drive to Metropolis. He was going to get answers.

###

Clark had just set two plates of Chinese takeout when Bruce knocked.  Clark swooped the door open, "Has anyone told you you have a cop knock?" He tried for humor, straightening his glasses. He was met with a silent glower.

Bruce Wayne was, as a rule, a loud, boisterous rich boy with a party lifestyle and a lack of gravitas. Batman was a stern, masked man with a penchant for rough justice. The man at Clark's door was something different, something between the two. Clark had seen this unpredictable middle state before in the batcave, but it wasn't often that Bruce let this man out and even rarer that he was seen in public.

"I have ginger duck and shrimp fried rice," he offered, standing aside. The man wearing Bruce Wayne's suit walked in with stiffer shoulders than could be explained with broken ribs and scanned the sparse apartment with a detective's eye. Clark had no doubt that Bruce could determine the last time he had done laundry and how many of the books on the shelf were actually read, but he was hoping that a few details eluded this Business Casual Bat.

"How long ago did Lois leave you?" Bruce sat on the side of the table with his food, looking expectantly at Clark. He took his glasses off and set them on the counter, if Bruce was going to be in between, so was he.

"Just before that last team up. She was a... It wasn't working out." Clark sat heavily across from Bruce with a huff.

"I'm sorry." Bruce didn't clarify whether he meant that she had left, or that he had brought it up.

"I'm sorry I called Dick." Clark replied after a long moment of awkward silence. Neither of them were eating, and the lack of words or distraction was getting to him.  Bruce, without his cowl was usually full of anecdotes, most of which he had stolen from the internet to make it seem like he did normal people things while he wasn't at parties. Batman could stay silent for hours while studying something seemingly insignificant, but without the white-eyed cowl or the Kevlar the effect was rather disconcerting.

"Why did she leave?" Bruce asked, his voice detective curious. Maybe Clark preferred awkward silence over having this conversation.

"I... Well... I'm very... Strong." Clark couldn't remember swallowing an egg whole, but here he was trying to talk around one without his voice breaking. Bruce raised his eyebrows in a clear message: that much was obvious and it wasn’t the full answer.  “When I lost control…” Clark tapered off

“Under the influence of red kryptonite.” Bruce stated. The sentence was presented as fact, he was neither excusing not condemning the effect the rock had had on the Kryptonian.

“She doesn’t trust that it won’t happen again. That I could lose control frightens her.”

"You didn’t hurt her." Bruce insisted, spearing a bite of duck, "You didn’t even hurt Jimmy who tried to stop you from flying out a window, you dropped him off on a nearby rooftop, not onto the concrete from 20 stories up, though it would have been easier.  You would never hurt someone you love. You barely deign to hurt those you hate." Bruce scoffed, taking the bite he had been waving around. Superman’s code of valor had strayed farther from violence as he matured into crime fighting, though Batman’s had stayed largely the same.

"Well anyway it's a possibility she had worried about previously. That's why we weren't exactly spending our nights together." Bruce stopped mid chew, his fork halfway to his mouth, staring Clark down like a lion. His eyes were very blue, Clark hadn't realized before just how bright they were.

"You and Lois never--"

"Martian Manhunter to Superman," his Justice League communicator chirped.

Superman sighed, Thank God for crime.

###


Though the call had been about a loose panel on the Watchtower which posed no immediate threat, Superman was dressed and leaping out the window at a speed which reduced him to a red and blue blur.  He was probably in space now, welding the piece back on with his heat vision- or the heat of the blush he had had before the Watchtower called.

“Make yourself at home, here’s the key to lock up if you leave, this’ll probably be a few hours. -C” proclaimed a Daily Planet memo pad with a single bronze key on top.  It had appeared next to Bruce’s plate as the Man of Steel had pulled his vanishing act.  Bruce closed and latched the window for him before finishing his lunch and packing Clark’s back into the takeout boxes and putting them in the fridge.  

Bruce was tempted to check on the status of the repair himself, but he knew he had been pushy when he found out Lois and Clark were no longer an item. Mostly he had been astonished, but the reason had pushed him straight from surprised to angry.  Honestly that was par for the course that day, Bruce was still a little groggy, whether it be side effects of the drugs or just simply exhaustion.  He drove back to Gotham, relaxing in increments as he left the futuristic sweeping buildings and glinting sunny windows, returning to the Gothic architecture and gargoyles of his childhood home.  In an uncharacteristic move, he went back to bed, pulling off the bare minimum of clothing for comfort before burying himself in his down comforter and drifting to sleep lulled by the rumbling thunder of a brewing storm.

***


The next time Batman saw Superman it had been two weeks and Lex Luthor and Scarecrow had teamed up to serve some undoubtedly dastardly purpose.  They fell into a normal pattern, Superman floating above the buildings to get a clear view, Batman melting into the shadows, the surprise attacker.  League satellites had spotted Lex at Lexcorp, so the two were searching only for Scarecrow and his new laboratory which Batman had narrowed down to this block.

“That building, on the sixth floor, the second window in,” Superman pointed.  Batman waited for the signal and swooped down, crashing through the window just in time to throw a batarang on a string, wrapping up Scarecrow neatly.  One anticlimactic punch knocked out the snarling, screaming Scarecrow as Batman took him into the hall to tie him up more securely for the police.   As Batman returned to the lab to try and get more clues as to Lex’s master plan, he saw Superman standing in the warm glow of a desk lamp, examining some papers. The lock of hair that, paired with decoy glasses, made him unidentifiable from his secret identity hung low, almost long enough to get into his eyes. Kryptonian blue flashed up at Batman as he entered.

“Find anything interesting?” Batman asked, forcing himself to look away

“Nothing yet, we should probably scan these and send them to the Watchtower.” Superman replied.  Batman could feel him following him with his eyes, probably checking him for more injuries.

“Wait, does Scarecrow usually take hostages?” Superman asked from deeper in the lab.

“What?  Superman get away from th--” A scrawny teenager burst out of a wall locker, flinging a box of suspiciously green dust onto Superman before bolting toward the door.  Batman clotheslined the kid easily, grabbing him by the front of his sweatshirt to question him until he realized the boy had fainted.  

Dropping the deadweight, he ran to Superman who was still standing completely still, terrified to move.  Batman grabbed his friend by the stretchy fabric on his arm and shoved his head into an industrial sink, rinsing off his face as well as he could, making sure to scrub around Superman’s eyes and mouth with the flowing red cape.  He was scrubbing the powder and product out of the Man of Steel’s hair when he felt the first shuddering gasp of breath since the attack.  

Moments felt like hours as Batman felt the telltale tingle of nerves in his peripheral system telling him something was terribly wrong.  He continued to scrub with one hand as he pulled a syringe of fear toxin antidote out of his belt, stabbing himself in a weak spot on his thigh where two plates met, numbing the sensation nearly instantly as the shadows in the room receded to their normal level of ominous.

“What is-- where am I?”  Superman burst into motion, flinging himself away from the sink in a cloud of glowing green dust and water droplets.  Batman followed him, holding an aerosolized version of the antidote.

“Superman it’s me, it’s Batman, I need you to breathe this in.” Batman insisted, trying to figure out how to get the kryptonite coated uniform off the half terrified hero.

“You’re not-- you’re bleeding!  Oh my god you’re bleeding everywhere!” Superman pushed Batman’s cowl off in a flash, inspecting nonexistent wounds while leaving Batman feeling entirely exposed.

“I’m fine, Superman, I’m fine!” He insisted, wriggling an arm up between them to spray the antidote into the Kryptonian’s mouth.  Superman hardly noticed, his wet hair hanging long into his face, his suit rubbing at least a hundred thousand dollar’s worth of Kryptonite dust onto the Batsuit.

“Superman we have to alert the League and the police and get out of here,” Batman insisted, trying in vain to wriggle his way out of Superman’s grip. After a long, worrisome second, Superman relented, releasing his arms.  Batman replaced his cowl and called the commissioner, giving him the barest rundown and telling him to send a hazmat team.  He took a few pictures of the documents then turned to the very lost looking Man of Steel.  “Let’s get out of here.” He sighed, shooting a grappling hook and holding out a hand to Superman.

Superman had forgotten the kryptonite coating on his clothes, apparently, and he was out the window before Batman had a chance to remind him.  With an uncharacteristic yelp, Batman leapt after his friend, catching him two stories down, nearly at the cost of his own arm.  He shot a second line with a better angle and swung them both up to the roof of a neighboring building.  “Batman I don’t--” Batman silenced him with a hand, Superman was still under the effect of something, but it didn’t seem to be reacting like normal fear toxin. Kryptonian biology. Hmph.

“We need to get to a safe house and get you out of that suit.”  

“Are you mocking me?” Batman ignored him, grabbing Superman around the waist and leaping off the side of the next building into a much more easily controlled swing. Turnabout was fair play, Superman had jumped off more than a few buildings with him without warning, and it was nice to change it up so Superman was clinging to him in panic instead of the other way around.

“One more building, there’s a safe house on the roof there. Can you jump it?” Batman pointed across to the next building. There was only an alley between the two, but they were the same height, so using the batrope wasn’t as easy as going up to a higher building or down to the ground.  Unfortunately it was also the closest safe house with a lead-lined decontamination shower.

“I jump high buildings,” Superman agreed with a ghost of a smile before fainting on the spot.  Batman caught him by the armpits, slowing his descent slightly, but not much.  His ribs had had quite enough of his hauling around this 200 plus pound dead weight.  Batman fought through the pain in his ribs and hauled Superman up into a fireman’s carry, noticing in a near panic that the Kryptonian wasn’t breathing.  He took a few steps back, gauging his weight with this new addition, took a running start, and leapt.

He missed the roof.

He grabbed for the edge with scrambling, panicked clawing, then he almost dropped Superman, causing a different scrambling panic. He was just reaching for his grappling hook when they landed on the top level of the fire escape with a loud, groaning clatter.  He didn’t take time to see how badly they had loosened the bolts, instead kicking in the door and moving to the secondary safe room entrance at the end of the hall.

“Supes?  Supes I need you to talk to me,” He crooned, pulling off one of the gauntlets with his teeth to activate the dna lock.  Once they were inside he practically threw Superman into the lead-lined shower to the left of the door.  He turned on the water with a voice command while stripping off his other glove before he turned on Superman who, though not breathing, still somehow had a pulse.  He pushed Superman’s chin up, plugged his nose, and blew into his mouth, counting out five seconds in agony before he repeated the action.  Five breaths later, Superman pulled a rattling, raspy breath of his own before rolling on his side and hacking up glowing green phlegm.  He stayed on his side in the warm water, still breathing. Batman pulled off his own chest piece and shirt before turning on Superman’s uniform.  Batman had no idea how the man dressed in it.  He managed to get the gauntlets, boots, and belt off, but he couldn’t see any zippers or buttons or release mechanisms on the stretchy fabric.  Finally he took out a batarang and sliced the uniform up the side, peeling it off the perfect, unmarked skin of the unconscious man.  He shoved all the kryptonite infected gear under a second jet of water before pausing and adding the rest of his uniform. There was no chance he hadn’t gotten any on his cowl or belt.

“Come on Clark, open your eyes,” He pleaded as he pushed the larger man up to a sitting position, washing them both down hastily with the decontamination soap.  He turned off the water and knelt down by the now slippery and mostly naked Kryptonian with chagrin; how was he going to move him to the other room without hurting one of them?

“Oh Bruce, you made one of your ribs worse.” Clark said drowsily, running a finger along the binding.

“Oh you sonofabitch,” Bruce reached a leg across Clark’s lap, grabbed a handful of hair, and kissed him, pushing his tongue into a startled Clark’s mouth. Bruce wasn’t sure if he was surprised or not when Clark kissed him back.  

Hearing his own moan in the echoey decontamination shower was all it took to bring reality crashing back down again.  Clark had just nearly died, he was sitting in a contamination shower in sopping wet whitey tighteys with both hands firmly planted on the floor. Add to that in all the time Bruce knew him as either Clark Kent or Superman, he had only dated one person- a woman who had apparently never had sex with him. Bruce pulled out of the kiss and sat frozen with his forehead pressed against Clark’s, one hand still gripping the back of his head. He half expecting to get dumped to the ground any moment.

“Don’t stop,” Clark moaned, grabbing Bruce’s ass with one hand while grinding up to meet him. Bruce hadn’t even realized he was hard until he realized Clark was, too.  Clark moaned as he ground against him before pulling his hand away like Bruce was on fire and planting it back on the ground.  Bruce grabbed the appendage in question, leaned back slightly and brought it up to his face. He grinned wickedly before licking a stripe from Clark’s palm to his fingertips.  Beneath him, Clark jackknifed, his head falling against the wall with a thud that sounded loud enough to have knocked another man out.  Bruce took advantage of the newly exposed skin on Clark’s neck, nibbling and sucking a trail at the juncture of his shoulder and neck. He smelled amazing, like sex in a field on a sunny day. Bruce grabbed Clark’s ass and ground against him, desperate for friction.

“Is this okay?” Bruce pulled back as he realized Clark’s hands were firmly planted back on the floor.

“Yesss,” Clark hissed, leaning forward to kiss him again.  

Bruce pulled back from the kiss, “You can touch me,” He reminded Clark who suddenly got a pained expression.

“I just… what if…” Bruce grabbed Clark by the ribs and rolled sideways, falling to the ground covered in worried farm boy.  He grabbed Clark by the neck again with one hand, pulling him down for a kiss as he snaked the other hand between them, tracing the outline of Clark’s hard on through his underwear. The noise he made when Bruce rolled his balls in his hand was very undignified. It drove Bruce wild; he wanted to hear that noise forever.

“Do you think we need these?” Bruce asked, pulling on the waistband of Clark’s underwear meaningfully.  A pile of ruined white briefs and black boxer briefs joined the rest of the clothing pile and Clark very tentatively rubbed his erection against the juncture of Bruce’s torso and thigh. Bruce hooked a leg around Clark’s ass, raising his hips off the air to grind against him. Clark hissed and turned to the side, hands splayed against the ground to keep himself up. Bruce’s plan was working perfectly, Clark didn’t want to use his hands and Bruce didn’t want to be distracted by a lack of touching.

“Why are we doing this?” Clark asked when he was breathing more regularly.

“If you want me to stop I will, and I’ll never try it again.” Bruce froze, completely serious.

“If you stop now I think I’ll die,” Clark laughed, clearly trying to divert with humor.

“Clark, if you don’t want this--” Bruce unhooked his leg and lowered himself back to the floor.

He was cut off as Clark went down to his elbows, kissing him and grinding down against him, “Don’t ever think that,” He whispered.

“Tell me what you need,” Bruce offered, catching an ear in his teeth and nibbling a bit more ardently than he would if his partner weren’t invulnerable.

“I don’t know, you, this, just--” Clark’s words melted as Bruce took them both in his hand, Clark was thicker than his, but they were about the same length. Clark was about to say something more when Bruce ran his thumb over his leaking glans, robbing him of the ability to speak.

“I want to taste you, roll on your back,” Bruce shoved at Clark’s shoulder to guide him.  Clark looked like he was going to say something when he slid down, but fell silent instead as Bruce teased and licked his way up the base of his cock to the head, pausing for a second before he went down on him as far as he could go without choking himself. Tears sprang to his eyes as he hit his gag reflex, but he wasn’t deterred, bobbing up momentarily before plunging back down.  Clark was holding his face in both hands, barely breathing.  “Relax,” Bruce chided, licking and nibbling up from the base again.

“You say that, but then you do that.” Bruce didn’t think he had ever been with such a tense partner, and he had done more than his fair share of deflowerings in his time.

“Look, I’ll relax too, if you promise to tell me,” He ran his tongue around the ridge of Clark’s dick, “Exactly when you don’t like something.”

“I promise, please,” Clark begged.  That was something Bruce would have to play with, the gutted sounding begging brought his flagging erection back full force.

“Please what?” He grinned wickedly, “Please this,” He took a long languorous lick up the underside of Clark’s impressive erection, “Or please this?”  He swirled his tongue over the head, bobbing a bit for friction.

“Yes,” Clark plead, rattling a few words off in Kryptonese.  Bruce smiled and hummed on his next downward bob.  He really wished that the shower had been equipped with lube, but this wasn’t really its primary goal.  He drooled on his hand, running most of the saliva over his middle finger while he pumped with his hand.

Bruce hummed his way down his erection again, slowly pushing his finger against Clark’s perineum, giving him ample time to react or speak.  When no complaints were made, he snaked his finger inside, searching for the cluster of nerves that he hoped was in the same place in Kryptonian men as it was in Earth men.  Based on the near shout and rapid influx of precome, Kryptonians did indeed have a prostate.

Clark started making tiny abortive thrusts with his hips, mumbling too quietly for Bruce to hear. Bruce was on the verge of coming, jerking himself off to the same rhythm he was using to finger Clark when Clark went completely still, pushing a hand against the lead wall of the shower hard enough to leave an imprint. He whimpered in a positively gutted way as he came, and the rush of salty sweet in Bruce’s mouth tipped him over the edge, coming on the floor of the shower with a moan.  He laid down on his back, pressed up next to Clark to bask, feeling the Kryptonian’s breathing slowing to normal through his side.  Bruce’s ribs did not appreciate this recent activity at all, burning fire down the side not pressed to Clark.

“I had just gotten you clean and now we’re all sweaty.” Bruce ventured when it didn’t seem like Clark was going to say anything.

“I guess we could… clean each other off?” Clark ventured after a pause so long that Bruce was pondering the least awkward way to ask for help up off a shower floor from the guy you’d just wrapped your throat around.

“Shower, On.” Bruce commanded with a grin.

Chapter Text

Clark Kent woke with a shout, the dream still burned into his mind.  Having an eidetic memory meant being able to recall everything that he had ever done perfectly- usually.  He remembered bits and pieces of his Kryptonite-filled evening earlier that week (Especially the way Bruce’s tongue felt sliding down the underside of his cock while he kept smirking that damn batsmirk) but other parts were… vague at best.  The last two nights had featured nightmares left over from the hallucinations the Kryptonite fear toxin had given him.  They had discovered that Luthor’s end game was to create an industrial grade fear toxin to which only he could produce a cure- for those who could pay- and he had hoped the radioactive element would bind it better to the cells of the unwitting populace.  Unfortunately that meant that Superman’s time collaborating with the World’s Greatest Detective was at an early end, unless he found another excuse to visit.  

That left Clark with an even bigger mystery than Lex and Scarecrow-- did Bruce even want to see him?

They had worked perfectly in tandem like always after the Kryptonite incident, Batman neither smiling more nor scowling less than usual, but he didn’t really seem normal, either.  Clark scrubbed his hands and looked at the clock. 4:45am.  He might as well get up and pack, he had to go to a remote site for the paper today, some overnight cruiseliner announcement party for one group or another, he really hadn’t been paying much attention when he was briefed.  As he padded to the bathroom he kicked a pair of jeans on the floor and stopped, staring down at the blue fabric.

Clark woke up in a strange place.  Cloudy outside, atmospheric pressure indicates a storm front, feels like Gotham.  There was a note on the bench at the foot of the bed, “Sorry I destroyed your suit, these should fit you, -B” The outfit might as well have been tailored for how perfectly they fit, jeans, button-down, underclothes, even boots.

Finding the manor’s entrance would have been impossible without X-ray vision.  Damian told him in passing that his father was still asleep; he seemed less than impressed that they had gotten doused in fear toxin.  Alfred brought him breakfast before he could sneak out, commenting that Master Bruce had requested that he eat.  Clark was flying back to Metropolis in the cloud cover less than two minutes after he had finished eating.  

That evening, Superman visited the batcave. “I have a lead,” Batman greeted him without looking.

Business as usual.

He kicked the jeans impotently, growling at himself.  If Bruce wanted him, he obviously knew how to find him.  On the other hand, Clark wanted Bruce and he wasn’t knocking on the door of Wayne Manor, either.  Stepping into the shower, he washed his hair and cleared his head, he had a long day of being himself to look forward to, and a night cruise to bumble about on as a clumsy reporter.  Today was going to be good and there was nothing Bruce Wayne could do about it.

***

Clark stared openly at the billionaire sitting at the bar, two women on either side of him, a drink with an umbrella in his hand.  He looked fantastic in black shorts, boat shoes, and a crisp white dress shirt untucked and open, leaving him barechested in the chilly autumn air.  Clark, not for the first time, thought he should have picked a different persona for his alter ego, something sexier than a reporter. He watched Gotham’s prince thrill the girls around him by tying a cherry stem in his mouth and had to turn away, blushing vividly at the memory of just how clever that tongue was.

“Clarkie is that you?” Bruce’s ‘playboy voice’ called out, “You ladies remember Clark Kent from the Daily Planet, don’t you?” He smiled easily, the expression strange on the Dark Knight’s face.

“I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure,” A young, woman in a bikini and a skirt the size of a postage stamp wriggled off her chair and presented her hand in an effeminate handshake.  He panicked and shook it a bit harder than she was expecting.

“Gosh it’s nice to meet you ladies, but I have an interview to do in the third ballroom, you’ll have to excuse me,” He smiled, straightened his glasses, and shuffled off, silently cursing Batman.  He had gotten enough information and enough photos to write the glorified puff piece already, so instead of going to any of the ballrooms for an imaginary interview, he went back to his room.  Not to pout, that would be ridiculous.

He had just gotten his laptop open and the wifi authenticated when he got a knock on his door.  If he had thought to look through the door first he might not have opened it.  “Clark!” Bruce Wayne cheered, smiling broader than before.  He reeked of scotch.  “However did I find you?”

“Was it a tracking beacon?” Clark muttered, standing aside to let Bruce in.

“No, the wifi login is your room number and your laptop has security issues.”  As soon as the door was closed Bruce slumped onto the bed with a huff, “I think I gave them enough runaround to escape for the night.”

“Oh?”

“They’re just well-groomed harpies, the men, the women, all of them, they’re all fighting for whatever piece of the pie they can get and they don’t care who it comes from.  It’s exhausting, give me villains over the rich any day.” Bruce pouted.

“You sound drunk.” Clark sniffed the air meaningfully.

“No, I doused my shorts earlier, I think I’ve had two fingers of scotch since I got on this boat and I’ve probably bought a liquor cabinet’s worth in decoy drinks. How about you?”

“I’m working.” Something was off about Bruce, something he hadn’t noticed until another eidetic flashback reminded him of the very fun shower that they were both pointedly not discussing, “What did you do to your chest?”

Bruce looked down at the unmarred skin of his heavily muscled torso and laughed, “You like it?  Brucie can’t explain away a bunch of katana and bullet scars, so we paint fake skin anytime I have to be shirtless in public, like a pool party on a yacht.” He stood up and pulled back the shoulder on his white shirt, “It starts to peel after a while, the shirt helps keep the peeling from being noticed, but it compounds the issue,” He pulled at a flake of fake skin, revealing part of a distinct x scar on his shoulder.

“That sounds… miserable.” Clark grabbed a trash can from nearby for the fake skin flake.

“Well we can’t all have perfect skin like you,” Bruce pretended to laugh.  It wasn’t as good as the acting he had been giving the gaggle of women earlier.

“I like your scars,” Clark blurted, flushing instantly.

Bruce did laugh then, “This from captain radio silence?” Both men froze.  The subject had been breached; they were going to talk about the shower.

“I didn’t mean--”

“I wasn’t sure--”

“Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know why I came here, maybe I am drunk, I’m sorry,” Bruce stood up and walked toward the door.

Clark stepped in front of him, stopping him close enough that their uniform emblems would have been touching. “I didn’t know you wanted me to call.”  Clark blurted. Bruce stared at him, unnervingly focused, his stormy blue eyes sharp and sober. Clark began to panic a little, “It had been a stressful night, I didn’t know if after--”

Bruce silenced him by slowly getting up on his tiptoes and kissing him. At the beginning, the only place they were touching was their lips, a very chaste, almost friendly kiss, but when Bruce opened his mouth, Clark followed.  Clark felt like he would follow Bruce to the end of the world.  Bruce leaned the few inches forward, pressing them together from chest to thigh.  Clark remembered how troubled Bruce had been at his lack of touching and mentally flailed for a second before taking hold of Bruce’s upper arms.

Bruce hissed in pain. Clark didn’t realize how long he had had his eyes closed until the harsh yellow light of the room burned into him, blinding him as tried to inspect Bruce for damage.

“You okay there?” Bruce was standing where Clark had left him, nearly four feet from the wall he was currently pressed against.  “I bruised my arm pretty badly the other day, misjudged the range of Harley’s mallet,” He slid the white shirt off and revealed a sizeable purple and green bruise covering most of his left bicep, he hadn’t bothered to cover the scars on his arms, “I had to replace all the armor on that sleeve.” Bruce added ruefully.

Clark felt his heartbeat go agonizingly slowly from hamster panic to normal as he internalized that. “When I got hit with the fear toxin, I imagined you bleeding, right?”

“More like hallucinated,” Bruce replied after a second, “You did decowl me in public.”

“It was a closed lab,” Clark protested-- he remembered that much.

Bruce focused on Clark, making him suddenly very nervous. Bruce sauntered closer, dropping the shirt on the floor. “What are we going to do with you?”  His singsong tone made Clark unsure of his underwear’s structural integrity.

“Um,” Clark replied intelligently.

“You’re convinced you’re going to hurt me, I’m convinced you’re not,” Bruce leaned in and nipped Clark’s neck. The simple gesture sent lightning bolts through his stomach.

“I’m not convinced I’m going to, I just could,” Clark could smell Bruce under the decoy alcohol, some mixture of soap and sweat that could drive anyone wild.  A scent Batman specifically tested for that reaction.  Bruce Wayne was practically bottled sex and here he was with Clark, a man in decoy glasses and a shirt two sizes too big. A man who could cut Bruce in half with a misplaced glare.

“Says who?  A woman who never touched you?  I’ve sparred with you and I’ve tasted almost every inch of you and I find myself unharmed.”  Bruce slid his hand into Clark’s to punctuate his point.  Clark’s brain was working quickly, spinning toward nothing.  He had been half hard before Bruce brought up the shower scene, and now all he could think about was getting the man in front of him more naked.

“I will warn you, no matter what you choose, it won’t only be for tonight.  Send me away forever or don’t, but I don't double down on one-night-stands.”  Bruce pushed a leg between Clark’s, grinding against him in a clothed imitation of their shower.

“Would you really just leave now? Do you think you could?” Clark asked.

Clark gasped as Bruce stepped away, smiled and sat on the bed. Bruce leaned back to display every hard-earned inch of muscle in a move that made Clark slightly light headed, “Don’t take the choice away from yourself, I would absolutely stop if you asked me. I'm not here because it's convenient, I could bed nearly anyone on this boat. If anything happens tonight it’s by choice.” It was a speech that Bruce clearly wanted him to think about, but Clark already knew his answer.

“I gave you this scar,” Clark stepped closer, pointed to an inch of seemingly unmarked skin on Bruce’s chest.

“No, I took a Kryptonite bullet meant for you, how many bullets have you blocked for me over the years?” Bruce grabbed his hand, nibbling on his fingertip.  He slid his other hand up Clark’s shirt, idly running designs that started as lightning and spread like fire over his abs. Clark wanted Bruce to touch him everywhere.

“Bullets don’t hurt me, it was nothing. Not the same.”

“Well if you’re so worried about the bullet I took, I’ve got something for you to take, if you think you’re up for it,” Bruce snaked his hand around and grabbed Clark’s ass, purposely pushing as close to his intended goal as possible through the khaki shorts.

Clark ended up in Bruce’s lap, straddling the billionaire, “I was never looking for just one night with you.” He murmured, leaning in to kiss that stupid look off Bruce’s face.

“Smooth words, farm boy,” Bruce’s wicked smile broadened as he pulled both of Clark’s shirts off in one go.  Clark gasped as Bruce leaned in to lick his nipple, his sharp teeth worrying at the impervious but nerve-rich skin followed by the smooth, soothing wet tongue. Clark realized that he had unthinkingly grabbed Bruce by the back of the head, his fingers tangled in the thick black hair.  He let go in a mix of panic and disappointment before realizing there really wasn’t a good place to put his hands in this position.  “Clark, how many times do I have to tell you that you won’t break me?” Bruce sounded disappointed, his voice more Batman than billionaire.  Clark relented, placing a hand on Bruce’s shoulder.

“TT, now we’re ready to dance at the prom,” Bruce scoffed, laughing as an afterthought.  “What if we did a test and I could prove to you that you won’t hurt me if you relinquish control?”

“What do I have to do?” Clark asked, nervous, but game.

“Relax.” Bruce unbuttoned his shorts, putting Clark solidly out of relaxation mode.  He shoved lightly at Clark’s shoulders, standing him up.  Clark tried to keep his composure, but he was unprepared for Bruce to simply push his briefs down and, after another positively wicked smile, slide his mouth as far down his cock as he could, balking only at his gag reflex.  Clark’s brain whited out for an undefined time and he came back to the warm, slippery, amazing sensation of Bruce’s tongue swirling languidly around his head.  “You weren’t in control there, were you?” He asked lightly, replacing his mouth with his hand.  When Clark didn’t answer, Bruce chuckled, “Phase one of my experiment is a success, now get up here,” He pulled Clark forward with a hand, positioning him on his knees in the middle of the bed.  “This part is easy,” He purred, teasing up Clark’s ribs with his mouth, “All I want you to do is hold onto the headboard,” Clark positioned each of his hands around a thin metal rail in the headboard while Bruce played with his ear, nibbling and soothing with his tongue, “And if you break it, I’ll be so disappointed.”  Bruce’s low, commanding growl was whispered into Clark’s ear so close that he could feel his lips moving.  

Clark almost broke the headboard and came on the spot when Bruce bit him on the ass before kissing down to the tight bundle of nerves in his perineum.  Clark wasn’t experienced, but he wasn’t an ascetic either; he had seen this act in porn a hundred times, but he hadn’t realized just how amazing and conflicting it felt.  Part his brain was yelling that it was dirty and wrong, but his entire body thrilled with the swirling, languid licking over a section of rarely used nerves.  When Bruce pushed his tongue past the tight knot of muscle, Clark thought he’d come undone.  As Clark relaxed into the new sensation, Bruce replaced his tongue with a suspiciously slick finger, searching out his prostate while relaxing the muscle ring.

“You know I’m invulnerable,” Clark panted, pushing back against Bruce’s hand as he added a second finger, scissoring them apart. The sensation was uncomfortable until the tight muscle relaxed, sending shots of pleasure up his body.

“That just means I don’t have to prepare you as much, unhurt doesn’t mean enjoying, I still need you to relax,” Bruce leaned forward and nipped Clark on the shoulder blade, rubbing his erection against Clark’s thigh.  Clark hadn’t realized he could make the noise that came out of him when Bruce pulled his hand away, this hollow sound of need.  Almost immediately the lube slick hand that had been stretching him was on Clark’s penis, teasing him with quick jerks and light fingertips.  

Bruce pushed against him and paused, either waiting for some unknown sign or waiting for Clark to protest.  Clark pushed back, the sensation of penetration thrilling up his spine as Bruce responded, pushing slowly deeper and deeper in until he was fully seated.  Clark panted at the full feeling for a moment, adjusting.

“Move,” Clark meant to speak the word normally but it came out weak and gutted, a plea instead of a command.  Bruce complied, pulling back slowly for a few inches and pushing back to full depth.  His breathing was ragged and his hand on Clark’s dick moved with less confidence.  

Clark moved to jerk himself off and Bruce smacked his hand away, "You just hold onto the headboard," he ordered, pushing down on Clark's shoulders to flatten him more against the bed.  With an economy of motion, Bruce's next thrusts all hit their mark, driving against Clark's prostate with perfectly timed jerks from Bruce's hand.  Time and place didn't exist, just the molten gold feeling of friction and inevitable orgasm. Bruce's perfect, breathy shouts nearly brought him over the edge again as the unrelenting pace Bruce had taken was interrupted with hiccuping, seizing thrusts as he came.

Bruce slid out of him carefully, bringing the condom Clark hadn't noticed him put on.  He flicked the rubber tube in a nearby trash can and languidly licked his other hand. "Baby, you taste amazing."

Clark felt himself flush with embarrassment, shoving playfully at Bruce's shoulder while remaining somehow mesmerized by his licking progress. Bruce wriggled over to Clark's pillow, pushing their bodies thrillingly close again.  "Do you see what I see?" Bruce asked, scrutinizing the headboard.

"What?" Clark was pulled from his reverie with a jolt of apprehension, rolling over to look where Bruce was pointing.

"This bed is made of really cheap wood laminate, and you didn't even dent it!" Bruce smiled, proud.

"I guess I didn't." Clark replied. He was still figuring out how to word his worries when Bruce grabbed Clark's arm, hooked his leg, and flipped him onto the other side of the bed, nearly bouncing him out of it. "What are you doing?!" Clark yelped.

"Not getting cut apart by heat vision or broken in half with super strength or speed." Bruce answered, tucking his head into the crook where Clark's chest met his armpit. "Also snuggling. I think I have 2 hours before my actual business meeting, so I don't plan on getting my solid 4 hours until afterward, that makes me yours for the time being."

"You should sleep more," Clark admonished.

"Crime doesn't sleep."

Clark rolled his eyes, adjusting so that he could use the arm under Bruce's head to hold him closer, idly running his hand over the scar textured ribs. He didn't know how long he'd have Bruce there, but he was determined to enjoy all he could get.

Chapter Text

Bruce remained firmly in control of his respiration and heart rate until he was sure that Clark had fallen asleep. Breathe in, breathe out, don’t freak out. Since he had sweat, the fake skin on his chest was itching like mad, so he focused on that sensation, peeling away as much of the fake skin as could get without a shower.

I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot who fell for another idiot and I’m going to get him killed.

Breathe.

Bruce slowly extricated himself from Clark’s grip, sneaking off the bed like he was trying to escape a clingy one-night-stand. He frowned at that image, casting around for the stationary in the room; Superman always woke up to his text alert.

“Have a meeting, see you at lunch? -B” He resisted the urge to draw a bat or a heart. Pulling on his boxer briefs he reached for his shirt, only now he remembered that the shirt he had wasn’t capable of buttoning. He had chosen it to show off his assets, not to hide his scars. He grabbed one of Clark’s work shirts out of his suitcase, promising himself that he’d return it or replace it with one just as ill-fitted. He knew that Clark used his slouch and his too-big clothes to hide his (impressive) musculature, but when the opportunity had shown itself, Bruce hadn’t been able to resist giving Alfred the proper sizes instead of his preferred ones. His ears were warm as he thought of the security footage he’d gotten of Clark in an outfit that fit his frame properly and wasn’t made out of spandex. That wasn't the only security footage that made him blush, but he firmly put that shower out of his mind before he needed a cold shower; he had a “before the night winds down” 2am meeting with a strange business opportunity and he'd need more Batman than Brucie to find out what part of the deal required they meet while in international waters.

He left his white shirt over the back of one of the chairs, buttoning down the pale blue tent with a suppressed chuckle, Clark was quietly snoring. It was a small, gurgling noise he might not have noticed if he wasn’t practically on point trying to escape with a modicum of dignity and a lack of relationship conversation. His heart rate skyrocketed again; what was he supposed to do about this? He couldn’t even really remember why he had ended up in Clark’s room in the first place, he hadn’t really had to try and avoid the drunk women much (they were very drunk and he was very stealthy) but when his phone pinged to tell him a computer infected with one of his Bat Trojans had entered the wifi network, suddenly he had been knocking on the door.

Bruce put the relationship question out of his mind and used the mirror to check out his ass in the shirt dress, giggling silently. He found his shorts under the bed and went through the minimal gear he was carrying, some steel cord, some darts-- batarangs were a dead giveaway if Bruce wasn’t in Gotham-- a mostly empty travel tube of lube, another condom, a lockpick, two transponders (specifically not the bat shaped ones), everything was there in carefully designed pockets. He glared at the place where the button was supposed to be-- he remembered specifically not destroying the shorts but there was the string showing where the button should have been. He pulled them on anyhow, folding the top over to keep them secure, mostly trusting his boxer briefs (which had miraculously survived) and giant shirt to keep covered. He wasn't actually that modest, he just valued being underestimated. Bruce fought the urge to take a picture of Clark's satisfied, sleepy grin, instead sneaking away and leaving the hero to his dreams.

Bruce wasn’t going to be late to his meeting, but he was cutting it close, too close to change clothes. He shrugged and rolled up the shirtsleeves, figuring the assembled tabloid whores would find his outfit interesting, at least. Any time Brucie Wayne: Playboy hit the tabs, Bruce Wayne: Possible Batman faded a little further from the public eye. Bruce Wayne existed in a careful balance between too dumb to be Batman and smart enough to revitalize Gotham (and not have his sons removed from his custody). Sometimes it was exhausting.

Bruce paused a few yards shy of the door, how would the press deal with his dating one of their own? He shook his head decisively, they hadn’t discussed what this… thing they were doing even was, stress relief, friends with benefits, a series of bad choices, or a relationship, no matter what it was far too early to speculate on going public.

He shoved the door open, “Jerry! Sorry to surprise you by being on time for once in my li--” Jerry the man with the business proposition was tied to a chair, bleeding slowly from a nasty looking head wound. Surprisingly, actual, legitimate pirates took up most of the room. The band of skinny, stinking men leered from every angle. “Sorry gents, I think I left my straightener on in my… room...” Bruce turned on heel and almost crashed into a sweatstained shirt. He hated surprises.

“Well it’s either your prettyboy hair toy catches this boat on fire, or if you try and escape me I’ll blow a hole the size of an iceberg in the starboard side.” Deathstroke's voice came from one of the radios.

“Is that the left or the right, I get confused?” Bruce needed a distraction. He needed to get out of this room. He needed to keep Clark away from the danger.

Bruce stopped existing and Batman took over.

Pirates everywhere became seven men, two at the door, one at either side of the balcony door, two roaming the walls, Deathstroke on the radios meant he was nearby, two cameras in this room, one largeish blind spot in the middle if they didn't swivel. The pirates were mostly unarmed, some empty holsters without matching weapons. Mercenaries but not paid in a while, probably couldn’t afford the bullets. Bruce Wayne isn’t a threat to them, act meek.

Jerry groaned, apparently he was still alive. Bruce rushed to Jerry’s side, kneeling by the chair, “Oh gosh we should get the ship’s doctor to look at his head!” Brucie’s time to shine, Bruce had spent years perfecting the dumb playboy persona for just such an occasion.

“Oh my go--” A woman began to shriek before she was seized from behind by one of the pirates with a hand clamped firmly over her mouth. She was wearing an intricate beaded silk swimsuit cover and a necklace that looked expensive enough to feed a family for a few months. Jerry hadn’t just been recruited to draw the rich Bruce Wayne to this meeting, then. As three more people arrived and were detained, Bruce stayed near Jerry, using him as a distraction as he scratched a very small message in the wood floor with one of his darts. He really didn’t want to get caught with it, but he also needed to make sure that Clark, who would stupidly follow to rescue him, had enough information to work with. Those who struggled as they entered were bound and gagged, but if there was no resistance, the pirates were more likely to just shuffle them off into the corner without restraining them. Deathstroke was talking over the radio to one of the pirates on the balcony, but Bruce had to finish his note before he could creep close enough to listen in. He had just stowed the dart back in his shoe when the pirate came back in and spotted him. He hauled Bruce up by the collar and shoved him into the corner with the rest of the hostages, ten in all, and relayed the order that all the prisoners were to be bound and gagged. Batman was interested to note that the order came in Rhelasian, a country known more for their ground mercenaries than pirates. Any gig that pays, he figured, protesting loudly that he shouldn’t be tied up.

“No you don’t get it, this one time I let a girl tie me up and I got stuck on a hotel bed for a whole weekend before the maid found me!” He squeaked and protested with big, dumb eyes. The eyes were always the hardest part, he had to fight to keep his eyebrows up and his eyes wide, otherwise the whole effect was blown.

“If you no shut up, won’t be last maid finds you,” the pirate warned in broken, accented English, a hand on his pistol butt. So the pirates spoke English.

“Oh, there’ve been other maids that found me, that was just when I was tied to a bed.” Brucie chirped back with a smile, pouting again as his hands were inexpertly bound and a gag stopped the flow of information pandering. He might as well have not been tied up for all the training this pirate had had tying knots. He filed that away, too.

“Listen all, I say this once and am understood. You are being kidnapped for ransom. Make more trouble than you’re worth, I cut you up. Little pieces for the sharks. Now you follow.” Bound and gagged, Bruce and the other hostages were loaded into a life raft. He tried to warn the woman in the beaded silk, but she fought her way out of the arms of the pirate trying to load her into the boat. She was overtaken almost immediately by a pirate with a hunting knife, the deck clattering with beads as he ripped through the silk. No one else tried to run, entranced by the pool of red pouring from her torso. When the newly terrified prisoners were all in the boat, they were lowered into the water, then moved onto a smaller boat. Bruce wondered how long the kidnappers boat had been here and if it had shown up on radar. As they pulled away from the cruise ship, Bruce slipped his hand free of his restraints. In all, it had been fewer than 10 minutes since Bruce had walked directly into the pirate trap, distracted by thinking about Clark.

I’m an idiot who fell for another idiot and I’m going to get us both killed.

He clenched his jaw until his teeth hurt. It wasn’t time to think about that, Bruce had to act Brucie and be Batman, he didn’t have time for Clark right now.

Crime doesn’t take days off.

###

Clark woke with a groan as a woman screamed, cutting through the middle of a fantastic dream. Duty called, so he dressed at super speed to investigate (as a reporter, it probably wasn't a job for Superman), reading the note on his bed and noting his newly gained white shirt on the way.

When he reached the bridge, cruise security guards (which he hadn’t even realized existed, Batman would be disappointed) had cordoned off the area. He looked through the wall and saw that the room was a wreck of destroyed instruments, blood smears, and chunks of engineers. Feeling a bit green he glanced around for Bruce, surprised that he didn’t have some sort of alert set to wake him up for emergencies on the boat. Maybe he was still in the meeting he had mentioned, but it was nearly 4am.

“I heard there was security around one of the event rooms, too!” a woman whispered, “And the starboard deck on level 1 is closed off!” Curiouser and curiouser. Clark made his way to the starboard deck as quickly as he could without raising suspicion and very casually supersped from level 4 to 1. There was a tape outline around an impressive pool of blood here, and a stretcher with a woman’s covered body on it. The door to one of the rooms on this level was open, so he snuck in there, finding more blood centered around a chair in the middle of the room, and another stretcher in this room with a male body. A suspicious smear caused him to lean by the chair, studying scratches in the hardwood floor.

_____________/\_______/\_____________
(PIRTS W/ DTHSTK- KDNPD 10- ON IT- GTFO -B)

Clark panicked, x-raying the ship. Bruce wasn’t on the cruiseliner. He listened hard, trying to find a heartbeat or a snippet of conversation, but Bruce wasn’t talking, and he couldn’t pinpoint a heartbeat in the few hundred miles around the ship.

Superman was calling Nightwing before Clark had even internalized what had happened.

“IT IS SEVEN IN THE MORNING IT HAD BETTER BE IMPORTANT.” Nightwing growled, more Batman than he would probably would care to admit.

“Bruce Wayne was kidnapped by Deathstroke and pirates, Batman is on the case but I’m having a bit of trouble finding him.” Superman summarized.

“Can’t you hear him?” Nightwing was moving in the background.

“You know he can control his heartbeat when he wants to, He isn’t talking either. He doesn’t want to be found,” Superman huffed in frustration, listening broadly across the water. He should never have told Batman how he had found him after he was lost in time.

“Have you stopped to think he doesn’t want to be found?” Nightwing asked, reasonably.

“Are you going to help me or not?” Superman huffed.

“Come get me.”

“Bludhaven is too far I need to find--”

“You’re not going to find him panicking over thousands of miles of open ocean, now get over here. We can use the computer systems on the Batsub to find him... assuming he wants to be found.”

Superman was already halfway there, “How long will it take to get the sub out here?”

“Supes. It’s been with the cruise ship the whole time. You don’t think Batman would really go on a trip without bringing a backup plan?” Nightwing was on the fire escape when Superman reached him.

“You look like hell,” Superman told him, scooping him up so he could continue typing on the phone he was holding. Nightwing punched his finger at the screen and glared at it like it owed him something. He wasn’t in his finest form, he was coated in building dust and he had blood and a few bone chips in his hair. He even had a sparse beard shadow-- as full of a beard as Superman had ever seen on him, actually. “Are you injured?” Superman hadn’t even thought to ask.

“No more than usual, the blood’s not mine.” Superman scanned him anyhow, noting two bruised ribs and a stress fracture in his left leg. “Focus on flying, not x-raying I’m fine,” Nightwing growled again. It was easy to see how he had picked up Batman’s mantle so easily.

"When was the last time you slept?"

"Don't ask questions you don't want answered." Nightwing sighed, “It's been a busy week, now tell me everything you know.” Superman landed on the uppermost roof of the cruise ship, crouching next to Nightwing. He explained what little he knew as the younger man typed.

“Rhelasian pirates? Huh.” Nightwing showed him the security footage that showed Bruce kneeling by the bound man as he scratched in the message. He was wearing Clark’s shirt. Superman’s cape wasn’t the brightest crimson he wore when Nightwing looked at him, surprise evident even through the white HUD lenses.

“Hey I’m not judging--”

“It’s not what you think--”

Nightwing looked at him steadily, the expression somewhere between batty scowl and haughty English butler. “It’s not what I think? You two have been dancing around each other since I was in short pants and pixie boots. You’re on a cruise together--”

“NotTogetherJustAtTheSameTime!” Superman interrupted.

“-- and Bruce Wayne is wearing that shirt but it’s not what I think?” Nightwing leaned in and smelled Superman’s neck. “Thought I smelled Eau D’Hadrien and brandy on the way over. That’s Brucie’s go-to.”

“I was trying something new?”

“So you went with a thousand dollars in cologne mixed with hunters soap and some decoy alcohol? Oddly specific.” Nightwing dropped off the roof, catching one of the levels with his grapple and landing neatly within feet of the bloodstain.

“Someone could have seen you,” Superman chided as he landed next to him, watching the Batsub surface.

“It’s dark, people know there have been crimes, heroes on the case will only make them feel better,” Nightwing shrugged. “You’d just better hope they don’t do a room check to see who all is missing. Might look weird if a bunch of super rich people and a re...andom guy all got kidnapped.” Superman could hear it coming, Nightwing was going to suggest he stay here and be a reporter, let him save Batman.

“I’m going with you.” Superman insisted as Nightwing neatly flipped over the bar and onto the sub.

“Because ten people have been kidnapped and one was killed, or because one person was kidnapped?” Nightwing clambered in and closed the hatch, knowing full well that Superman could still hear him, “Because if you ruin Batman’s operation you’ll lose Bruce, too, and I don’t know if either of them could handle that.”

Chapter Text

They had gone five miles when Nightwing spoke again, "I'm picking up weird chatter, get closer to the water," the sub was still skimming along the surface, so Superman aimed for a spot just above it. "Superman they-- shit!"

Green light flooded his optic nerve and pain seared through him like fire.

Superman had heard Nightwing because he had been so focused on him, but when he hit the water he could only think of surfacing again. His muscles burned, his brain felt like mush, and his vision was a wash of green.

The pirates had Kryptonite.

Suddenly the cape that had been tangling in his weakened legs and arms was being tugged up, hard. Nightwing hauled them both up over the nose of the sub, huffing around a rebreather.

"Damn you're heavy," Nightwing slid back into the water, rinsing his hair out and scrubbing the old ash off his face, treading water effortlessly despite the soaked suit. Superman felt slightly mocked.

"What are you doing?" Superman asked as Dick surfaced, peeling off his mask before climbing back into the sub and rummaging around.

"Going undercover," Dick replied, stripping off his gauntlets and gloves. He pulled out a pair of thin black slacks and a dark gray shirt out of the bag and rolled them into a plastic waterproof bag with a bat phone. He grabbed another, heavy looking bag out of the boat and shoved the first bag inside, trying them to his torso. A bandolier of uncracked glow sticks finished the setup.

"What's that bag?" Superman was feeling the effects of the Kryptonite less; the boat was moving away from them.

"Lead weave." Dick shrugged, moving to the edge of the sub.

"You can't swim down a moving pirate ship with a lead lined bag." Superman insisted.

"Maybe you can't," Dick smiled, that damn Robin grin that was a touch too cocky, too sure of himself. Superman remembered that face when Robin had first met Krypto. The dog was nervous (he could accidentally have broken all of the boy’s ribs by wagging his tail too hard) but Robin had him laying on the ground for belly rubs within minutes, and he was riding him around the fortress like a pegasus within the hour. Being a member of the Bat Family meant being fearless.

"You're going to get yourself killed." Superman insisted.

"What, you want to go? They knew you were there because the sub showed up on an old sonar scanner. I can't hack analog, you can't swim around Kryptonite. When I go, fall back a few miles, then use the computer on the sub. Right now it's running simulations to see who is the most likely to hire Deathstroke, I'll talk to you once I'm onboard."

"Be careful," Superman hadn't often felt this powerless to help.

"You're the one who almost drowned yourself over a meteor," Dick smiled and dove, swimming surely and rapidly in the direction of the radio chatter he had received. As the Kryptonite finally wore off, Superman could see the boat under the horizon. He swallowed hard. Dick knew his limits, but he liked to ignore them as much as Bruce ignored his.

###

Nestled between a crate and a rusted wall, Bruce casually drummed against his chest, wallowing in the dank corner of an equally dank ship. The entire craft seemed to be held together with rust, decaying paint, and sloppy fat welds. They had been on the boat for nearly 30 minutes at this point, but they didn’t seem to be working for speed so much as… stalling? It felt that way at least, they were probably still within ten nautical miles of the cruiseliner. Bruce could practically swim back. He kept up his drumming, making sure to hit the ribs right above his heart as he did; it was a stupid trick, but it worked to keep a certain boyscout at bay. The thought occurred to him that if he called Clark he could be back on the cruiseliner before they finished serving breakfast. He still wouldn’t know why he had been kidnapped, or why the girl had been killed.

Clark. What was he going to do about Clark?

Bruce shoved the thought away almost violently, he had been kidnapped this was hardly the time to think about that.

If I can’t stop thinking about Clark when I need to focus, then I need to nip this in the bud. Batman can’t lose focus like this.

The thought of casting Clark aside for his work made Bruce feel ill. He had given up so much for Gotham, for the world, they owed him this, didn’t they? A heavy footfall in the hall had Bruce shoving the gag back into his mouth, replacing the burlap bag (that had been immediately added to their bindings at the order of a very angry pirate captain) and hiding his hands behind his back. The pirates were talking about a boarding party when they opened the door, checking to make sure the captives were still, well, captive. One of the men near the front started practically shrieking behind his gag at the sound of the door, trying to say something through a wad of fabric and a covering of burlap in a language the kidnappers didn’t speak. Bruce couldn’t see the reaction, but he heard the kick clearly, and the screams of protest became gasping whimpers of pain before the door slammed shut again.

Based on the previous guard visits, Bruce had nearly 10 minutes before they checked back, and 5 minutes before any footfalls would be heard on the other side of the wall. He stood, shedding bindings, and worked loose the pin lock on the nearest clouded-over porthole, sliding through it neatly into the crisp morning air.

Morning always smelled different than night, even when it was still pitch dark. He crept along the gangway, heading the direction he had heard most of the foot traffic going over the last few hours. He silenced two guards, tying them both with the absurdly long rope they had used on him. He didn't need to gag them, blunt force head trauma tended to keep people pretty silent.

Surprisingly there wasn't a guard watching the bridge door, but more important was the conversation coming from inside.

A radio crackled, "Estimate arrival in one hour." Deathstroke's voice announced in Rhelasian.

"We are sitting ducks out here, you need to go faster.” The captain insisted.

"Your cargo will be returned and you will be paid when we arrive, no sooner than in one hour. the cruiseliner hasn't contacted authorities yet. Did you put out the insurance policy?"

"I do not understand what ugly unpolished gems are supposed to accomplish when we are going to be hunted!"

"Did you do it?"

"Yes."

"How is the cargo?"

"I have nine uncomfortable pretty people stinking up my hold with their piss and perfumes."

"Nine?"

"There were... complications..."

That conversation was becoming boring and Bruce had other things to do. He left a bug just inside the door and reprogrammed the smartphone he had shoved in his shoe (the pirates were really inept) to run a Bat Kernel, effectively giving him his cowl HUD on the screen. He set the bug's receiver for keyword speech recognition before he left for his next goal. Sneaking through the ship, Bruce took out a few more pirates, stowing them in some of the suspiciously empty shipping crates and even tying and bagging one up with the prisoners (where he had been seated) before finding what he was looking for: the main communications antenna. He bat-rigged a connection to the phone and set to work at a hasty sabotage of the much more advanced inbound ship’s navigation system.

“Took you long enough,” He grumbled as the familiar tread attempted to sneak up on him.

“Nice shirt.” Dick replied. Bruce felt his face warm. “The boyscout took a header over some rocks, I had to fish him out,” Dick dropped one of the lead bag prototypes onto the deck. At least Bruce wouldn’t have to buy Kryptonite for a while.

“I was getting to that.” Bruce harrumphed, “Just made sure Mad Hatter was apprehended by the coast guard.”

“How’d you know it was Mad Hatter?” Dick seemed surprised.

“Some of the pirates had earpieces, expensive bluetooth tech. I also noticed the mind control tech’s signature on the ship he was on. I rendered the ship inoperable and sent the coast guard his way. I can’t figure out why Lex used Deathstroke as a middleman, though, he wasn’t even on the ship with Hatter.”

“Voice matrix, It was never Deathstroke. Lex was giving the orders from the cruise's destination the whole time.” Dick answered, flexing his own detective skills back at Bruce. Though he wouldn’t admit it out loud, Bruce was proud.

“So Lex wanted backers for the new project he’s unveiling on this cruise and didn’t want to go to all the work of actually doing business.”

“That’s what the boyscout found out, the plan was to bring you all out here, brainwash you, then put you back in a few hours.” Dick agreed. Bruce noticed a single red drip fall from the dark shirt Dick was wearing.

“How many stitches did you pull?” Bruce lifted the shirt and Dick made noncommittal sounds. He wasn’t pulling away, but he didn’t seem happy Bruce had noticed.

“I’m fine, just a few stitches and a couple sutures.”

“TT” Bruce chided, annoyed. He counted 15 ripped stitches. “Clearly you’re a hypocrite if you think I work myself too hard.”

“Someone had to grab the Kryptonite out of the water.” Dick was defensive as Bruce ripped a chunk of shirttail off to blot away the blood.

“No, I was fine. I didn’t need you two to barge in here to save the day, there’s maybe three pirates left conscious on this entire ship and that’s because they’re hiding from whatever it is that’s taking their people out in force.” Bruce glared. “Hold that and keep the pressure. I’m going to see if this rusted shell has a first aid kit.”

"We could hail the sub, but I'm pretty sure the boyscout can hear everything we're saying anyhow" Dick pointed over his shoulder.

"Yeah, well, what'd I teach you about eavesdropping?" Bruce asked, already seeing a flash of red cape in the darkness.

"Always assume someone is doing it?" Dick shrugged.

"No, you never overhear good things about yourself."

"That's what Alfred taught me about eavesdropping,” Dick chuckled, “you taught me how."

###

“You want me to use this stapler?!” Superman winced, holding a stapler that looked almost exactly like the one Ma Kent had used to reupholster a couch once.

“Yes.” Dick and Bruce answered in unison.

“But aren’t stitches--”

“We just need to close it up.” Bruce growled, holding the sides of the gash wound together, “Staples are fastest and they come out easier later. If you had x-rayed him earlier, this whole thing could have been prevented.”

“He only ever checks bone damage, you know that.” Dick countered. Superman huffed, not having to worry about injury made it hard to even know what to check for.

“Come on, just staple the damn thing.” Bruce ordered.

“Why can’t I just use heat vision to knit the edges together?” Superman asked, still trying to determine exactly why someone would use a stapler on themselves. He glanced up and saw two sets of piercing blue eyes scrutinizing him. Until he had met Batman and his Robins, Superman hadn’t realized how many different kinds of blue eyes there were.

“That’s new.” Dick broke the silence.

“I figured out how a few months ago, I guess I didn’t mention it?” Superman shrugged.

“You did not.” Bruce's expression was carefully blank.

“Look, I just had you guys scrub seawater out of a gash on my ribs from a damn assassin’s hair knife with a scrub brush and rubbing alcohol, if you could hurry this along that would be--” Dick cut off with a hiss as Superman began knitting the two sides of the wound together as quickly and carefully as he could. Bruce didn’t jump or move at all, holding the wound completely still. “Great.” Dick whispered as he finished, leaving a neat red welt.

“It will probably scar.” Bruce ran a finger across the mark experimentally.

“Gosh, what will the ladies think?” Dick sniped.

“That you’re terrible at windsurfing.” Superman chimed in, giving Dick’s normal excuse. Bruce and Dick both laughed. “The Coast Guard is almost here, we should make this look less like Batman’s work.” Superman figured they had about seven minutes.

“I’ll suit up, Supes can untie the prisoners, Bruce should be in the room still when they get here.” Dick took the mask Superman had brought with the first aid kit and put it back on, “I have to open the bag, you might want to leave,” He said, pointing to the lead weave bag with the Nightwing suit inside.

"Isn't that suit all bloody?" Superman asked.

"They all are," Nightwing replied cryptically, pulling on the drawstrings so Superman would leave.

Chapter Text

It had been hours since the coast guard had ‘found’ the boat in American water-- Superman had only had to push it about five nautical miles. Nightwing and Superman had explained that they were leaving a meeting with Aquaman when they came across the kidnappers (one officer had wanted corroboration about that, but Nightwing pointed out that the King of Atlantis was probably a bit busy) and called the authorities. Bruce was tired, but mostly bored out of his mind. Staying awake for days on end for a case was one thing, but being awake to play Brucie for a bunch of water police? Not the same. Nightwing managed to slip out of the cruise ship’s ballroom shortly after they had transported all the kidnapped passengers back and Bruce made excuses about his frail billionaire sensibilities to escape shortly after.

“I assume this floating hotel has a bed somewhere?” Nightwing fell into stride beside him, appearing from a doorway in a move that would have startled a civilian.

“Come on,” Bruce led the way to his room, “I bet I even have a change of clothes.”

“You probably have an extra shirt at the least,” Nightwing sniped, ducking the goodnatured swat Bruce aimed at him. As soon as they entered the suite Dick peeled off his mask and encamped himself in the overlarge bathroom to shower and shave while Bruce found him a tee shirt and swim trunks that should stay on his slighter frame.

“So what’s up with you and Clark?” Dick called over the sound of water running in the sink.

“Nothing’s up, why?” Bruce called back, leaving the clothes in a stack outside the cracked door, catching a glimpse of the angry bruise and red welt on Dick’s ribs, ending just above the towel he’d wrapped around his waist.

“That’s bullshit.” Dick laughed, “I’ve watched you two dance around each other literally my entire life and now all of a sudden everything is different. You got offended when that officer questioned Supe’s story, you watch him like a damn hawk, like you expect him to disappear at any moment.” Dick came out drying his hair on a hand towel as he spoke.

“You used all the towels, didn’t you?” Bruce asked.

“You’re avoiding the question.” Dick sighed.

“I don’t know what’s up, okay? Is that what you want from me? For all I know I fucked everything up and I don’t know if it’s going to be my lack of focus or losing my best friend but I’m pretty sure I’ve signed my own death warrant.” Bruce growled, refolding the folded clothes in his suitcase for something to do other than look at Dick.

“Remember that time that Supes was shot with Kryptonite and you couldn’t get it out right away, so you dragged him through a few miles of sewer to get him to the cave so you could cut him open with a Kryptonite scalpel and get the shard out?” Bruce’s blood went cold despite Dick’s conversational tone.

“Obviously.” He was going for a light tone but the word ground out of him.

“You outwitted Deadshot, dropped him off with the police, saved Superman, then stayed in the cave infirmary with him for two days waiting for him to wake up. You had Batgirl and I patrol while you literally watched over him for forty-eight hours.”

“I was there, yes, thank you.” Bruce didn’t feel especially thankful.

“You idiot, you have been madly in love with this guy for a decade and it’s never affected your judgement before. Deadshot was arrested, you saved Superman. You saved Superman from Darkseid, twice. How can you sit there and tell me that either A) You went to Apokolips twice for a man you didn’t love, or B) that you survived Apokolips while emotionally compromised but you won’t be able to punch Gotham criminals in the face anymore because you’re finally getting a steady supply of sex?” Bruce didn’t have a good reply. He stared at the shirt in his hands, but the buttons didn’t give him any answers. When he turned back to look at Dick, he was unconscious on the couch, splayed in a boneless way that only acrobats can sleep. Bruce draped a blanket over him with a soft huff, mussing his hair like he had when Dick was little.

Maybe Dick was right.

On the other hand there was a tiny voice in the back of his mind telling him to go full Brucie and bed the first human with an Instagram and let them take pictures.

Bruce growled and grabbed a handful of clothes from the neat stacks, stalking into the bathroom to see if his oldest boy had left even a single dry towel. Megalomaniacal supervillains were nothing compared to dealing with emotions.

###

Clark stood outside the door to the room and listened. Bruce was in the shower, Dick was snoring on the couch. Earlier that day Bruce had passed him a room key and the reprogrammed batphone, so Clark decided to leave them for him and give him some space. He was pretty sure that’s what he was supposed to do, it was how he usually dealt with Batman after a case, let him figure out what went wrong and what went right, meet up for coffee in the Batcave and go over it after.

He really wanted to take a midmorning nap with the World’s Greatest Detective, but he was pretty convinced that would send Bruce running for the hills.

As soon as the door was open, an escrima stick hit him in the sternum with enough force that he was pretty convinced it would have broken bone on a normal person. He glanced at the closed bathroom door and then over to the clearly unconscious man on the couch, unable to believe that somehow a sleeping man had thrown a projectile with such accuracy and force, but the second stick jutting out from under his pillow was pretty damning evidence. He rubbed absently at the impact point, it didn’t hurt like Kryptonite did, but it wasn’t a comfortable sensation either. Clark set the key and phone on the bedside table, turning just in time to see Bruce catch the second escrima stick with a roll of his eyes and a soft TT sound.

“This is why I don’t let the boys sleep with weapons.” He explained, pulling a black tee shirt on. His heart rate had spiked when he saw Clark, but it didn’t seem to be surprise. Clark had seen him surprised before, his heart had kept the same almost lazy athlete’s pulse. Interesting.

“I never would have thought it would be a big enough issue to necessitate a rule,” Clark said, striving for conversational.

“Neither did I until I came to wake Dick from a nightmare and nearly took a batarang to the eye.” Bruce grimaced, “And Jason caught me across the ribs with a knife once, but he was sleepwalking.” Talking about the boys brought Bruce’s heartbeat back to normal, he had an almost wistful expression.

“Want to grab some breakfast?” Clark offered on a whim, “They’re still serving for another half hour.”

“I should get some work done, I can’t help but feel like the Scarecrow attack and this kidnapping have something to do with one another.” Bruce waffled.

“You have a helicopter coming in a few hours to take you to the Batcave, I’m sure the research can wait while you eat?” Clark felt his tiny hopeful grin and pushed just a little more sunshine into it, willing Bruce to accept.

“Fine, but I’m just gonna get stuck as Brucie for half the meal, explaining the ‘terrible ordeal, I mean, they didn’t even have an espresso machine!’ to every third person,” He slipped into the dead-eyed idiot persona and out again in the space of a blink.

“Well I- I guess I’ll just have to be interviewing you so maybe they’ll have to come back?” Clark tripped over the carpet and straightened his glasses; two could play that game. Bruce laughed softly, leading him into the hallway on the hunt for food.

Chapter Text

Clark had about 10 pounds of food in front of him when they got to their table from the breakfast buffet. Bruce hadn't even been aware there were that many kinds of breakfast pastry, but then, his metabolism wasn't the same as the Kryptonian's. Clark set a decoy notebook on the table with a few lines of shorthand and a pen on top.

"Shorthand?" Bruce pointed at the notebook with his fork as he cut into his egg white omelet.

"Most people can't read it, so it makes me look like I'm on official business," Clark ate an entire turnover in one bite and Bruce resolutely did not think of better uses for that mouth.

"'This is an example of shorthand. Shorthand example two is here.' That's certainly edifying." Bruce wasn't showing off. He wasn't.

"Of course you read shorthand upside down." Clark laughed, pouring an alarming amount of sugar into a mug of coffee.

"If you use a six packets of sugar in your coffee, do you think it's really coffee you want?" Bruce chided, taking a sip of his own properly black coffee.

Clark added two creamers and stirred the mug with a grin, "I like how it tastes."

"I have evidence against that statement." Bruce chuckled before he spotted the tabloid shark, "Just go with it," he hissed, grabbing one of Clark's plates of pastries and moving it to his side of the table. "And it was all so dark and dirty and did you know that pirates smell bad?!" He gestured broadly as he started a story loudly and in the middle.

“Brucie, how could I have missed you on this cruise?” The shark purred. He recognized her, but it was musty with time. She had something to do with Dick, he scoured his eidetic memory for decade-old answers.

“I was kidnapped,” He shrugged, “But I already told the Planet they had the exclusive.” He leaned back in his chair and forced an easy smile, a feat that was simpler when he glanced at Clark. He stretched out a foot and pressed the inside of his foot against the outside of Clark’s, enjoying the answering blush. “Were you invited?” Being a dumb billionaire meant asking direct questions without fear of reprisal.

“I have a press pass,” She avoided the direct answer. She wasn’t a normal newspaper reporter, he remembered that much, and everything in him screamed that she was to be distrusted.

“Whose? I didn’t think the Enquirer counted as the press.” he took a drink of coffee and kept his expression bland. Being tired made being Brucie harder, the persona had relaxed over the years-- as he raised his kids and kept his company afloat people were less inclined to believe it-- but it was still an important disguise.

“Oh Brucie, the Enquirer is so last decade, I work for TMZ now.” She smiled distractedly, glancing at Clark’s notebook every few seconds, either in an attempt to decipher it or figure out why it was just sample text. His eyes met Clark’s with a look of shared disdain, TMZ was not Bruce’s favorite ‘news’ outlet. “Speaking of, I haven’t seen you in our fine publication since you announced Damian Wayne’s existence, can I get a soundbite about these last two years?” She held out a phone, clearly having had it on record the entire time.

“No,” He smiled, tipping his chair back to rest on two legs. He knew why he remembered her now and it took a lot of self control to keep his easy smile.

“Seriously? The prince of Gotham doesn’t have a comment?”

“I’m in the middle of an interview full of comments, just read the Daily Planet,” Bruce gave her his Bruciest grin, pointing across the room, “I think someone wants you over there,” He pointed to the far side of the room by the entrance. Clark looked at the empty tables while the shark did and they both looked back, confused.

“Who wants me over there?” She asked after a second.

“Oh, I do, you can leave now.” He kept his smile, waving an imperious hand and taking a drink of coffee. He grabbed his phone and searched for the right app as she left, her steps balking and confused.

“That was…” Clark began.

“Last time I gave her a quote for a newspaper I ended up in a CPS investigation. Half of Dick’s trust fund is from the libel lawsuit.” He shrugged, remote-wiping her cell phone and corrupting the memory card with an app Barbara designed to keep the Bat Family from showing up in cell phone pictures across the internet. Bruce had just designed it to be a bit more aggressive. Glancing up at Clark, Bruce was going to make an offhanded joke, but what he saw gave him pause. “Clark?”

“I was going to say you quoted an MTV show.” Clark took a breath, the red glow around his irises fading.

“You okay?” Bruce asked, taking another bite of omelet.

“Better,” Clark nodded, “Though sometimes I have a hard time remembering that Bruce Wayne has nearly as many enemies as our mutual acquaintance.”

“She’s hardly an enemy, she--”

“Accused you of pedophilia. In print.” Clark flattened Bruce’s argument with a tone about as subtle as a steamroller.

“That was her primary mistake.” Bruce nodded.

“What?” Clark’s tone was incredulous, moreso than Bruce had expected.

“Printing the story. I had more legal standing because the accusation was printed. If it had to happen, and it probably was going to, then it’s best it happened in print and in what most people consider a rag. I was 25 when I adopted a 10 year old. I live a life very much in the public eye and I’m a man, someone was going to make the accusation.” Bruce finished his last few bites.

The silence began as pensive, then progressed to awkward. He eyed Clark over the edge of his coffee mug, watched the gears turning. Clark’s neck and jaw were tense, angry. It was a small thing, but Bruce was the king of noticing small things.

This wasn’t going to work.

He had known it wasn’t going to work, it was a stupid, sentimental thing to hope for. At least he had proven to Clark that he could be intimate without hurting anyone. Bruce knew Clark would find someone else, someone less in the public eye, someone who didn’t have to worry about keeping TMZ and the Enquirer out of his business. As Bruce’s mask needed attention and the public eye to work, Clark’s required normalcy.

At least Clark didn’t have to worry about destroying everything he touched like Bruce did.

It was almost easy once he had made the decision. It was really the only decision to be made, Bruce reasoned with himself.

He stood and smiled his patented loose grin at Clark, “I’ll see you at the meeting.” Bruce walked out of the room barely hearing Clark’s distracted agreement. The next Justice League meeting was in two weeks, Bruce just had to remember how to breathe by then.

###

“Way to screw it up, Kent,” Clark sighed. “You pretty near lost your temper and scared him off.” That didn’t taste quite right as he said it, but Bruce had left nearly five minutes before and Clark had just really heard what he’d said. The next League meeting was way too long to wait to fix this, not to mention that Batman was a master of disappearing at the end of them.

His phone chimed and he looked at the screen, “Be at the manor at 8 tonight unless you’re glad he just took an emergency teleport out.” It was from Nightwing’s number. Clark sighed, listening for either of their heartbeats on the ship. Not a bat was stirring. Even the sub had gone quiet, Bruce had probably had Arthur send someone to store it for him. He made his way back to his room, pausing when he saw the white shirt still on the back of his chair. He packed with a touch of super speed, skidding to a stop when he spotted the note on the dresser. “Have a meeting, see you at lunch? -B” it was in his neat, spare handwriting, drafter’s caps scrunched tightly but not quite crowding together.

He sat down and thought about the situation like a scary bat-cowled detective might. Clark hadn’t lost his temper earlier, he had just come within spitting distance. Superman had literally lost his temper in front of Batman before, melting stone, metal, and parademons into a burning puddle of slag when Darkseid had taken Kara. Batman had put his hand in Clark’s face, forcing him to stop (or destroy Bruce’s arm) and focus. He had then gone to Apokolips with him to retrieve his cousin, and nearly destroyed the entire planet. For Clark.

Some poorly restrained heat vision probably hadn’t spooked him, even if he was wearing boat shoes instead of Kevlar.

Option number two was that Bruce thought Clark believed the rumor about his regard for young Dick Grayson. Not worth review.

Option three. There had to be a third option. Maybe Bruce had remembered how much he hated the press? Bruce had become Clark’s friend since shortly after he had adopted Dick, you don’t hold a decade friendship with someone and suddenly decide their job makes you incompatible. Based on what had happened the night before in the bed he was sitting on, they were not incompatible. He sighed, this was why he called the World’s Greatest Detective to solve the crimes he couldn’t punch, investigative journalism isn’t the same as a frankly terrifying level of genius and intuition.

Unable to give it more thought on the amount of sleep he had gotten, Clark blurred out of his room, off the ship, and into the sky, hurtling toward Metropolis and his own bed. This had been the weirdest day and it wasn’t even noon yet. He landed on his building’s roof and set the alarm on his phone as he went down the stairs, giving himself enough time to nap, eat, and shower before his mystery appointment in Gotham. For the first time in a long time he wasn’t sure what to expect when he went to the manor.

Chapter Text

“I had to find out from The NEWS?” Damian’s small voice was loud and incredulous as Bruce and Dick materialized in the Cave.

“Not now, Damian,” Bruce rubbed the bridge of his nose, a headache forming right between his eyes.

“Yes now, Father. I could have helped you but instead you trust an alien!?” Bruce cringed at the shrieking preteen tones Damian was reaching.

“His name is Clark, Damian, and I didn’t call him for help. I didn’t need help, it was just pirates.” He mounted the stairs to the Manor, leaving the boys to follow at their choice.

“If you didn’t need help, why did the alien call Nightwing?” Damian was hot on his heels as Bruce trudged up the stairs.

“Clark needed my help for something else, Bruce took out the pirates on his own, it was over well before we got there.” Dick’s voice was close, his warm tenor bouncing off the walls of the stairway like a machine gun assault against Bruce’s brain. He pushed into the study and ignored them more firmly.

“You’re limping.” Damian accused Dick.

“I was on the bridge that blew up.” Bruce paused and turned; that was new information.

“The freeway bridge that Captain Cold and Heat Wave blew up?” Damian sounded impressed.

“Wally needed help,” Dick shrugged, favoring the side with the freshly-healed gash a bit more than the other, “And on that note, I need something from you two.” Bruce narrowed his eyes, waiting.

Dick suddenly burst into uproarious laughter, “You look like a tiny Bruce more every day, little wing!” Bruce glanced at Damian, barely fast enough to see a mirror of his own skeptical expression on the boy’s face.

“Grayson. Grayson you were…” Dick kept laughing over Damian’s protests, “Grayson. Stop this.” Damian gestured with a flailing hand at the giggling acrobat, “Talk, Grayson.” He demanded as the giggles subsided more.

“It’s movie night. At eight tonight we’re watching movies and nothing short of the Bat Signal will get anyone out of it.” Dick announced, laughing as he sauntered from the room, leaving Bruce and Damian with matching baffled expressions. “Alfred we need to buy ice cream!” Dick shouted down the hall, still chuckling.

“Well I suppose that’s settled, then,” Bruce mused.

“Grayson you had better bring those gummy things!” Damian stalked after him.

***

Clark hadn’t gotten any sleep that day. He had finished his story about the cruise (the pirate attack part, no one much cared about how Luthor’s latest project had fallen through due to lack of funding), showered, stopped a few muggings, showered again, belatedly remembered to eat, then it was time to fly to Gotham. He had thought about taking the train, but somehow the trip felt like a bandaid that needed ripped off as quickly as possible. It wasn’t until he was standing at the bottom of the porch’s long stairs that he realized he was wearing the outfit Bruce had given him. The detective would notice that immediately. He hesitated for a moment, it was 7:50, if he went at max speed he might, might make it back on time.

“Hiya Mr. Kent!” Wally West appeared from a red ball of lightning and sparks. It was a testament to how distracted he was that he hadn’t heard the speedster coming.

“Wally, hey!” Clark faked a smile, “I was just about to knock.”

Wally was already knocking, smiling broadly over his shoulder, “Have you ever had Alfred’s cocoa? It’samazingyou’llloveit.”

“Young Mr. West, I assume you remember the rule about speed force in the Manor?” Alfred smiled as he opened the door, golden light spilling onto the dark porch, ending just before Clark’s shoes.

“I’ll be good Alfred I promise,” Wally sheepishly walked into the main hall, almost pantomiming using regular speed.

“Mr. Kent?” Alfred prompted over the great distance. Of course Alfred had spotted him standing there, the butler missed less than Bruce.

“Sorry Alfred, got lost in thought.” He stepped up the stairs, “What does movie night mean at the Manor?”

“Always asking the smart questions,” Alfred mused, “Though this tradition is a bit harder to explain.” He took Clark’s jacket and hung it in the hall, “It is certainly for the watching of movies but, as you suspected, it is more. Most of the participants are the unpowered of the league, though few from outside the family make appearances. Much like a school lock in, the event is all night, barring Justice League or Bat Signal interruption.”

“Dick didn’t mention--”

“If you had brought an overnight bag you would be one of the first, mostly everyone ends up in the lounge until dawn.” Alfred reassured him as they rounded the last corner.

The dining room was a mass of movement, Tim and Damian were each trying to steal handfuls of cereal from a box that Dick was clinging to his chest like a newborn baby. Alfred chided them for spilling on the floor as he entered the large room, ordering Titus- who was greatly enjoying cleaning the cereal up- out of the room as he continued into the kitchen. The great dane slunk past Bruce out a side door. Clark nearly jumped when he saw Bruce, leaning impassively against the sideboard. He looked like a slightly rumpled million dollar bill, with circles under his eyes and a black mockneck sweater that was almost certainly cashmere hugging his muscles like a fuzzy second skin.

“Damian, you can’t just stab people to get things,” Bruce chided as Tim knocked a short blade from the youngest boy’s hand, drawing Clark’s attention back to the other side of the room. Wally supersped over in a blur of red, leapt up to grab the box, ran back around the table, and was summarily clotheslined by Bruce. Bruce caught the young man by his jacket front, preventing his head from impacting the floor by centimeters.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! IthoughtitwouldbefunnyIforgot!” Wally yelped as Bruce wordlessly hauled him back up to his feet, confiscating the cereal box and escaping to the kitchen, much to the chagrin of the gathered boys.

It was chaos.

Clark had known families with multiple kids, but he had been raised as an only child, family gatherings weren’t as hectic at the Kent house. He didn’t think he had ever seen this many of Bruce’s kids together and out of uniform before, and the vigilante streak seemed to make their familial spats a bit more... violent than even the most boisterous families he had met. Damian was yelling at Tim in Arabic that he had been trying to cut open the cereal box, not Dick. Wally was yelping apologies at speeds barely slow enough to be understood by regular humans. Dick was holding Damian by the waist to keep his argument with Tim from escalating and trying to calm Wally across the table. Titus was hiding under the table chuffing half barks at the boys, and Bruce was laughing in the kitchen. Clark snuck past the chaos and into the kitchen where Alfred was shaking his head at the giggling Caped Crusader.

“I almost dislocated my damn shoulder but it was so worth it! The look on his face!” Bruce was holding his arm as he giggled, and a quick xray peek showed Clark that the joint in question was strained but not popped out.

“Wally already thinks you’re ‘some kind of vampire ninja’--” Clark began, quoting a discussion he’d had with the young Flash a few weeks before.

“I know, when the kids were younger, Robin and I had bets going over who could take him out at speed. Dick owes me $50.” Bruce seemed to have gotten over his fit of giggles, stretching his arms down, popping his shoulders and elbows, “I don’t recommend trying to catch a person going the speed of sound, by the way.” He said, ruefully.

“Advice I shall endeavor to remember, sir,” Alfred exited the kitchen with a sigh. The tiny sound brought the arguing in the next room to an abrupt halt, Tim released Damian’s sweatshirt front, Dick put his littlest brother down, Damian flipped up his hood with a dismissive sound, Wally stopped vibrating, and Titus slunk out of the room again. “Were we thinking of watching a mystery, a comedy, or simply beating one another like drunken bar brawlers?” Alfred asked, staring down the young heroes. Clark and Bruce peered in from the kitchen door, there was a knocked over chair, but surprisingly little other detritus.

“Movie.” Tim muttered.

“I was promised milkshakes?” Wally looked hopeful.

“Since I’m banned from patrolling tonight, I may as well watch a movie.” Damian agreed.

"Oh hey Clark, you made it!" Dick smiled, vaulting over the table in a flip, barely touching the glossy surface with one hand.

"Master Richard, must I remind you of the one foot rule?” Alfred was a picture of proper British disapproval.

“Sorry Alfie,” Dick smiled righting the chair that had fallen, “How about Clark and Wally pick the first movie and Tim and I can help make milkshakes?” He polled the group.

“Why are we letting the speedster and the alien pick the movie?” Damian asked, sounding slightly appalled.

“They’re guests,” Bruce agreed. Damian shrugged and then everyone moved where assigned, mumbling consent. Dick and Tim followed Alfred into the kitchen, Damian disappeared when Clark wasn’t looking, and Wally grabbed him by the arm and dragged him toward the lounge.

“No horror movies, it kind of defeats the point,” Bruce said as they entered the corner room, gesturing to a bookcase of movies on one wall. They were sorted by genre and alphabetically.

Clark looked at Bruce again, trying to figure out how he had gone from fleeing a cruise ship to this easy interaction. Bruce noticed his scrutiny and smiled, a fake grin that had graced the covers of many tabloids in the past, "Something up, Clark?" He asked, limbs loose and smile just charming enough.

"Apparently so." Clark agreed. He didn't like when Bruce acted around him. Bruce barely remembered to playact with him at events they both attended, but in front of Wally and Damian (who Clark had just noticed was in a chair on the far side of the room, did no one in this house make noise when they walked?) it felt especially wrong.

Bruce didn't get a chance to reply about that before Wally was excitedly showing Clark multiple options for the first movie.

***

Bruce had no idea what was happening. Clark showing up had thrown him for a loop but he had been able to ignore the sharp panic he'd felt, categorized and compartmentalized for later introspection. They had been Bruce and Clark for a long time, they didn't need to be Bruce and Clark to be an effective team. They had been friends before, if Clark wanted to show up out of the blue, Bruce would never turn him out. Batman might, but those circumstances were different. Clark was giving him one of those looks, one of the Superman looks that saw through you without the need for x-ray. Bruce was rumpled and heartsick and tired, so he threw on a practiced Brucie grin, "Something up, Clark?" Did you realize you don't want to be here? Are you still upset about TMZ? He forced himself to relax.

"Apparently so." Clark glowered before Wally shoved a series of DVD cases in his face. They decided to watch Tremors first, when Damian reminded them that any Disney movie they watched ran the risk of being quoted in its entirety by "that idiot Grayson.". Damian tossed a console controller at Wally when it was decided, challenging him to a game of Street Fighter. Wally took the controller and Damian glared at Bruce as he changed the disc in the system, "Fix this." he demanded in Arabic, gesturing between Bruce and Clark.

"Fix what?" Bruce asked in Arabic on autopilot.

"I speak Arabic, you know." Clark added.

"TT, Never show your hand, Kent." Damian scoffed, "Go to your study, I'll have Grayson fetch you when I'm done demoralizing the speedster." The game began and Bruce shrugged, leading Clark down the hall, away from the noise.

“They’re conspiring, you know,” Bruce sighed as he pointed to the small tray of creamer cups and sugar packets next to the Keurig in his office.

“It’s how they show they care.” Clark agreed, sitting in a chair in front of the desk. Bruce made coffee, if only to put off the discussion a little while longer. He sat on the back of the couch, forcing Clark to turn the chair to talk to him; Bruce didn’t want to have this discussion across a desk, and he didn’t want to sit in the chair his father had had him sit in when he was in trouble, so the couch was the clear option. Clark took a sip of his coffee-- Bruce had added the inane amount of sugar and cream-- and looked at Bruce levelly.

“I’m sorry.” Bruce said, more to his own mug than to Clark’s face. It was a long twelve seconds before Clark reacted.

He was laughing.

“Don’t-- you can’t just laugh at-- Clark!” Bruce used his burst of nervous energy to set his mug on the wet bar counter. He contemplated leaving the room.

“Do you even know why you’re apologising?” Clark was still smiling but at least he had stopped laughing.

“Um…” Because they had to end the experiment, because they had to break up before they had ever even dated? Because emotions were difficult and hard to quantify.

“There have been times when you acted abysmally. You let yourself get hurt, you used me like a tool in your belt, you insulted my lifestyle and my heritage, and never once have you apologised for anything.” Clark’s tone was conversational, almost light.

“I’m an asshole.” Bruce agreed, taking another creeping step toward the door.

“Did you think I somehow didn’t realize that?” Clark chuckled again. Bruce froze.

“If we’re apologising, I’ll go first.” Clark declared magnanimously, “I’m sorry I nearly lost my temper at that bimbo who threatened your healthy relationship with your son with rumors to the contrary.”

“That’s why you were mad?” Bruce hesitated, “That was the only reason you were upset?”

“Did I need another?”

“Clark Kent can’t show up on TMZ, it’s the wrong kind of publicity for your cover.” Bruce fell onto the couch, avoiding looking at Clark, “I can’t take you anywhere.”

“Bruce, is that seriously what this is about? You think I’m going to be upset that you get to suffer through the awful parties without me? You think I need to be, what, wooed?” Clark leaned over the back of the couch, peering at Bruce with another damn smile.

“Clark...” Bruce paused, gathering himself, “I’ll still have to have dates for those ‘awful parties,’ I’ll still have to be Brucie.”

“You’re convinced you’re going to hurt me, I’m convinced you’re not,” Bruce glared as Clark quoted him.

“This is different.” He crossed his arms over his chest and glared up from the sofa.

“Is it?” Clark asked. Bruce was still trying to figure out how to explain that yes, it really was, when Clark continued, “Do you not trust me as much as I trust you?”

What!?” Bruce was sitting up now, inches from Clark’s nose.

“I trusted your judgement, I tried your experiment. You could have died if you were wrong.”

Bruce growled, “I wasn’t been at risk because I wasn’t wrong.”

“And I trusted that, I trusted you. Trust me when I say you won’t hurt me.” Bruce maintained eye contact, flailing for words. “This glare used to terrify me down to my red boots.” Clark mused, leaning into Bruce’s space even further. Bruce’s brain short circuited as he felt the heat off Clark’s skin, breathed the same air as him. He closed his eyes; Clark was too close to focus on anyhow. “You’re so protective, but you can’t protect me from you by keeping me away.” Clark whispered.

“And when I screw it up? When I do something you can’t forgive?” Bruce wished his voice was stronger than the pleading he heard.

“Never going to happen,” Clark assured him.

“You can’t promise I’m not going to screw up.” Bruce knew he should pull back, he really wanted to be able to do that.

“But I can promise to forgive you if you do,” Clark closed the gap, moving the centimeters in to brush their lips together. Bruce kept his hands planted on the back of the couch, letting Clark control the kiss. When it became clear that Bruce wasn’t going to do it, Clark opened his mouth, licking Bruce’s lips to coax his tongue out. Bruce moaned as they kissed harder, his knuckles white against the back of the couch. Clark’s hands were trailing up Bruce’s ribs, pulling his sweater up.

A knock at the door had them both scrambling back, sitting down across the room from one another in a mad dash.

“Hey Bruce, you guys coming? Wally ate all the ice cream so there’s no milkshakes left…” Dick peeked in, sharp blue eyes probably reading more than Bruce wanted him to.

“Yeah, Clark and I were just getting coffee.” Bruce nodded, grabbing his mug from the counter. Dick was gone already. “Coming, Clark?” Bruce sighed.

"Not yet,” Clark murmured into Bruce’s ear as he passed, giving a smile that was far too lascivious for a farm boy.

“I’ve ruined you already,” Bruce lamented.

Chapter Text

“No! I can be faster Barry!” Clark jerked awake as Wally rolled off the couch, tangled in his own blanket. Bruce was already moving. He stepped over Dick (who was reaching out and making placating sounds in his sleep) and freed the speedster from the blanket.

“Wally wake up. Hey it’s a dream, wake up Wally,” Bruce had Wally by the back of the head and a shoulder, not quite shaking him awake.

“No no no!” Wally swung out at but Bruce caught his arm before it got any momentum.

“Wake up, West.” Bruce was a bit firmer now.

“Oh hey Bats... sorry?” Wally mumbled, clearly trying for some semblance of his normal flippant attitude.

“Hush,” Bruce chided softly as he scooped Wally up and put him back on the couch, spreading the blanket back over him.

“Thanks Batdad.” Wally was mostly asleep again as Bruce tousled his hair. Clark stretched, careful not to kick any of the suspiciously numerous piles of blankets on the ground.

The room was a crowded motley arrangement of couches and chairs that seemed to have been moved in from various wings of the house arranged in a half circle around an absurdly large TV which was now playing Animal Planet specials on mute. On his right was Tim and Babs (who must have come in after patrol, Clark was surprised he hadn’t woken up for that) fighting for dominance on a pillow bedecked loveseat. Bruce was next to him on the first couch, next to Damian’s chair which Dick had camped out at the foot of (though Clark couldn’t tell if it was to be close to Damian, close to Bruce, or if he really was more comfortable on the floor), followed by Wally on the couch. In more or less the center of the circle was another pile of blankets that Clark was pretty certain contained a sleeping Jason, also in from patrol. Bruce did a circuit of the room, moving Barbara’s neck out of a stress position, covering Dick with a blanket, and taking the long silent headphones out of Damian’s ears.

Bruce came back to the main couch with a silent grin at Clark. He sat down on the far end of the couch, tugging at Clark’s shoulder until he put his head on Bruce’s lap, then curled so that his own cheek rested on Clark’s hip, mostly wrapped around his back upside down. Clark was pretty convinced that he wasn’t going to fall back asleep, curled on his side with Bruce’s fingers running idly through his hair, but the next time he looked around the room the sun was up, the TV was off, and Jason was gone.

Clark carefully removed himself from Bruce’s grip, ignoring his half mumbled complaint that Robin wouldn’t stop using puns, and snuck to the bathroom before he found his way to the kitchen where Alfred was already making pancakes.

“Good Morning, Master Clark, coffee?” Alfred gestured to a steaming mug on the island which looked as pale and smelled as sweet as if Clark had mixed it himself. Alfred placed two pancakes on a plate with a few slices of bacon and slid them across to sit next to the mug almost distractedly.

“Are you psychic?” Clark asked, sipping the perfect coffee and taking a bite of not-too-crisp bacon. “Or magic?”

“Neither, I’m afraid, though it might make my job easier. Instead I simply observe.” Although this wasn’t the first cup of coffee Clark had had in the Manor-- especially not if you included the Cave-- he had to admit that Alfred was good. The butler put another short stack into the oven to warm, humming a tune that Clark almost recognized.

“Clark, Alfie,” A bedraggled Batgirl pulled herself into the room with an enormous stretch, accepting her chai tea without comment.

"Will Master Tim be down in time for breakfast?" Alfred asked, handing her a plate.

"If he wants a ride to the tower he will be." Barbara nodded gravely. Clark noticed the sound of running water on the far side of the house, but the sound shouldn’t have been loud enough for normal ears.

It was easy to forget that the Bat Family moved like tamed big cats, deadly and silent but mostly unlikely to attack. Alfred had set two mugs on the counter and Dick and Damian came up from behind Clark, flanking him from a direction he was pretty certain didn’t actually enter the room.

“Master Dick, I hope you plan on returning to bed.” Alfred chided, passing a bowl of cereal and a plate of breakfast meats over the island to the exhausted looking hero.

“Yeah Alfie, just got to keep my calorie count up," Dick smiled then grimaced as he raised his arm, "I'm never agreeing to swim again."

"That's why I'm glad I can run on water," Wally commiserated, taking the seat that Babs was vacating. He got a much larger stack of pancakes and ate with zeal.

"It's like watching a human garbage disposal," Damian scowled, taking his plate and leaving the room with an almost concerned glare. Dick laughed and Wally didn't even notice, too excited for the plate of bacon Alfred presented.

Clark relaxed and listened to the sounds of the Manor waking up. Downstairs the computers were humming and bats rustled, upstairs Babs was telling Tim that his hair looked fine, Damian was listening to Chopin, and outside Bruce was jogging the perimeter of the property. According to the clock over the door it was almost 8:30, Clark was due to work at 9, and he really didn’t want to use a sick day.

“I believe we have a super suit in the cave if you would prefer to fly in uniform, unless you had planned on calling in today?” Alfred was not disproving Clark’s telepathy hypothesis.

"That would be greatly appreciated," Clark agreed, draining his coffee.

###

All of Bruce's meetings had gone long, nothing was decided properly, and in general, Bruce had had a shit day.

He wasn't sure when he had made the decision, but he hit the right floor in the Daily Planet's elevator and rode impatiently. It was after hours, but Bruce had ways of knowing where Clark was, and if the two thwarted bank robberies meant anything, Clark Kent was bound to be behind on whatever story he was writing. Two eternities later the floor chimed and the doors opened on the darkened newsroom floor. Clark's desk lamp was still on.

"You could type that on your phone later," Bruce whispered over Clark's shoulder.

The man of steel yelped and jumped, twisting his chair with a glare that might have been more effective if the chair hadn't kept turning. Bruce clamped down on his smile, holding his giggles in with ruthless control. "How did you even do that?" Clark asked after a solid minute of silence.

"You were distracted." Bruce shrugged, "Dinner?"

Clark gave Bruce a look that he couldn't read. Cold coiled in his stomach for a second; had Bruce misjudged the response he'd be given? "Starved." Clark agreed. The cold wasn't entirely gone but it was lessened. Clark saved his document and shut down the laptop, sliding it into the hideous black satchel thing he used as a briefcase. "Eating in or going out?"

"Well there's a good sushi place a few blocks away or we could get a pizza and watch that ridiculous show you like so much with the alien in a box."

"Doctor Who is not ridiculous." Clark admonished, but the look was back. Bruce hit the call button for the elevator and studied Clark right back. He had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for and it made him uneasy. "Why are you here, Bruce?"

"I had a few spare hours before patrol and I figured you'd be hungry and working," Bruce tried for a flippant shrug but he didn't think he hit it, too busy trying to mask the stung feeling the line of questioning gave him. He wasn't entirely sure why he was there, but ever since he'd seen Clark working late in his rumpled oversized shirt he'd known it was the right decision.

The elevator finally arrived and Clark hit the lobby button, "So you drove to Metropolis just to scare the hell out of me at work?"

"Well I meant it as more of a surprise..." Bruce was seriously considering replacing this elevator with a faster one; he owned the building, he shouldn't get stuck in awkward conversations on the elevator.

"Oh I was surprised," Clark assured him, "Bad day at work?" Bruce shrugged in reply. "So you had a bad day at work, watched the news, knew I was having a bad day too, and now you're offering to go out to a restaurant with me?" Had that really been it? Bruce decided to look into that idea later.

"Tabloids are a concern for your cover, but I never said I don't want to take you out." Bruce actually wanted to, if only because he knew Clark would like it, he preened with positive attention. "Besides I know the owner there and--" since Bruce hadn't been looking at Clark when he was talking, he hadn't noticed him moving until he was pushed up against the wall of the elevator with a knee between his, one hand pinned, and Clark licking his way into his mouth. Super speed was a thing he could get used to, Bruce decided with a moan.

“If we keep this up we’ll never make it to dinner,” Bruce gasped over Clark’s shoulder after several rather breathtaking minutes.

“I could pay you back for the shower here, then we can go to dinner,” Clark offered, moving his hand to pull at Bruce’s belt. The thought nearly made him come in his pants but Bruce was nothing if not obstinate.

“I didn’t do that so you’d pay me back, besides, elevators have cameras.” Bruce tried to wiggle out of Clark’s grip but the movement threatened to turn into a desperate rut against Clark’s thigh, so Bruce opted for the safer option of leaning against the wall.

“Not this one, it’s been broken for weeks, I can usually hear it humming along.” Clark rubbed his nose on the skin of Bruce’s neck, just above his collar, “Please?” He whispered, punctuating the question with a kiss behind his ear. Bruce didn’t have actual words for the scenario where the Man of Steel begged to blow him on an elevator, so he simply undid the belt Clark had been trying to figure out for the last few minutes. Clark’s smile was sunshine bright as he attacked Bruce’s mouth again, undoing his pants with just enough restraint that they remained unripped. When Clark ran his fingertips down the length of Bruce’s cock, he was pretty sure he was going to come right there like a teenager in a prom limo.

“Not yet,” Clark whispered with his forehead leaning against Bruce’s. He pressed his palm firmly against the underside of Bruce’s erection, trapping it against his own torso. After a few seconds Bruce had calmed down enough to control his responses and he looked up into Clark’s eyes. He was almost appallingly happy, the sky blue of his eyes nearly electric. Bruce grabbed him by the back of the head and kissed him again, but Clark pulled back after a few seconds, surprising Bruce.

“I want you to come with your hands in my hair, but not quite like this,” Clark grinned wickedly, dropping to his knees just fast enough that Bruce couldn’t retort before his cock was wrapped in an almost alarmingly warm velvet embrace. Bruce felt his head hit the elevator wall as Clark swirled his tongue around the head before plunging back down again, setting up a steady rhythm. Clark surprised him next by proving that Kryptonians have no gag reflex. He pulled out just enough to make an inquisitive sound when Bruce grabbed a handful of his hair with a shout.

“No, no, good, good, do.” Bruce gasped intelligently, thrusting uselessly against Clark’s restraining grip. Clark hummed happily before sliding his tongue along the underside of Bruce’s erection as he slowly engulfed him to the hilt, stretching his tongue as far toward Bruce’s balls as he could. Bruce was still fighting against Clark’s grip, wanting to feel the point where Clark’s mouth became his throat. Clark stayed still until Bruce had calmed enough to stop moving, and Bruce was both impressed and annoyed by his patience and the fact that the Kryptonian really only needed to breathe about once a week. When Bruce stopped fighting, Clark moved again, his pace faster and deeper than before.

Clark tapped his thigh and Bruce met his eyes again as Clark-- who had taken his glasses off at some point-- pulled almost completely back and Bruce got to watch his cock slowly engulfed by Superman’s kiss-swollen mouth. He came hard, pulling Clark forward with a grip in his hair that would have hurt a human. Bruce tugged up on his convenient handhold to kiss Clark, revelling in his taste in Clark’s mouth.

“Was good?” Clark asked around the kiss, tugging Bruce’s pants back into place.

“Obviously,” Bruce chuckled.

“So, sushi?” Clark put his glasses back on and hit the lobby button again, brushing his hair back with his hands.

“Sounds good to me,” Bruce agreed. He buckled his belt and helped Clark tame the spitcurl back into place before they hit the right floor. He made a mental note to check the security feeds later and make sure the elevator’s camera really was out of commission.

“Or we could just go to my apartment,” Clark smiled, waggling his eyebrows at Bruce.

“I’m still hungry,” Bruce reminded him.

“Oh I’m sure I could get you some protein.”

“Idiot.” Bruce chuffed as the floor dinged.

“I love you too,” Clark countered softly into the vacant lobby. Bruce didn’t reply, but he grabbed Clark’s hand, twining his fingers in Clark’s as they stepped out of the building. "So what do we tell the League?"

Bruce chewed on his answer for a second, his first instinct was to tell them to mind their own business. "We'll change the requisite files but I wasn't planning on throwing a party or anything."

"Alfred and your boys?"

"I've raised 4 detectives with the help of a British butler who misses absolutely nothing. We don't have to worry about them. Did you want to visit your parents to tell them?"

"Um..." Clark tripped over some conveniently solid air, buying a few seconds. Bruce knew the tactic and decided to let him have the time he needed to mull over the question.

"They don't hate me that much, do they?" Bruce joked, only half fishing for information when Clark took too long to reply.

"No, they even liked Batman, it's just that I never really told them I'm bi or anything..."

"Everyone's at least a little bi." Bruce laughed.

"Not in Kansas." Clark replied gravely.

"So you're an alien with superhuman powers but you think a boyfriend will be the final straw?" Bruce spoke quietly, making sure they were in a clear section of the business park before he did. Clark stopped, nearly knocking Bruce over when he kept walking and his hand-- caught in a velvet vice grip-- didn't go forward with him. "What the hell, Kent?"

"Really?" Clark asked. Bruce scoured the last few minutes of conversation for context while he rubbed his mock-hurt hand.

"No I don't think your parents are going to cast you out because you're not 100% Kansas farm boy." Bruce hazarded a guess.

"You want to be my boyfriend?" Clark's expression was something of a mix between stunned and hopeful.

"What conversation did you think we were having?" Bruce wasn't sure if laughter would be taken well.

"Um..." Clark looked up for inspiration; he had nothing.

Bruce decided that action was necessary. He stepped forward and lightly grabbed Clark's chin with his thumb and forefinger, tilting his skyward face back down the two inches he had over Bruce so they were looking each other in the eyes. "If you thought you were getting away you should have taken one of the outs I gave you, because now you're stuck with me. If you want to throw a stupid party for the Justice League and get all the Robins around a table for an announcement then we can.” Bruce assured him, “And we don't have to tell your parents, but we probably should tell them before the newsstands do.”

“I was going to go this weekend,” Clark half shrugged, taking his hand and intertwining their fingers again as they continued toward the restaurant.

“That’s a pretty halfassed invitation to meet your parents.” Bruce pretended to be hurt.

“You’ve met them!” Clark responded exactly how he’d wanted.

“Not as your boyfriend.” Bruce countered.

“That’s gonna be weird for a while, but I like it.”

“Me too.” Bruce agreed, tightening his grip on Clark’s hand. Stealing a few hours for themselves out of the time he could be researching or working out or upgrading systems should have felt wrong, but being here now felt right.

Bruce’s league communicator buzzed.

“Black Manta is trying to destroy an oil platform, meet you there?” Clark asked.

Bruce nodded, already hailing the watchtower to teleport him up to grab a suit. Just before he dematerialized, Superman sped into view, “I almost forgot,” He kissed Bruce, a firm but chaste kiss full of cocky smiles and promise before he sped away, flying headfirst into danger. The Neverending Battle Clark had called it once. Bruce reflected on the idea as he pulled his dress suit off, methodically putting the Batsuit on. He wouldn’t have it any other way.