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Bruce was ripped out of his for once peaceful sleep by loud knocking on the window. His mind was still foggy when he opened his eyes, and for a second he couldn't make sense of Clark Kent floating outside his window – Clark Kent, not Superman, in a plaid shirt and slacks, his hair dishevelled, his glasses missing. He'd never seen him fly while he wasn't in the blue and red suit. That alone would have been proof enough that something was wrong, even if Clark's knocking fist hadn't been this close to shattering the glass.

He jumped out of bed, didn't bother to put on a shirt while he hit the button that made the windows slide open before Clark could actually break them, watched him all but stumble into the room. His eyes were darker than usual, or maybe it was just that he stared at Bruce's bare chest with a barely disguised hunger that made the hairs on Bruce's arms stand up. Pure animal instinct warned him that something was wrong, that a smart man would start running now. There was a sheen of sweat on Clark's forehead, his skin was sickly pale in the moonlight. The only time Bruce had seen him look remotely like this was during their fight, when Clark had been choking on kryptonite gas.

“I need your help, Bruce,” Clark said once he managed to meet Bruce's eyes. His voice was hoarse, and he looked like a man who was running from something.

Bruce opened his mouth to ask him what on earth Superman could possibly need his help for, but Clark already continued, “You still have kryptonite, don't you? I know you do. You wouldn't have destroyed it, not when you might need it again some day.”

Under different circumstances Bruce might have denied it, but Clark clearly wasn't angry, wasn't accusing him of anything.

“What if I did?” Bruce asked carefully.

“I need you to … neutralise me.” Clark swallowed. His hands were curled into fists, his nostrils flared like an animal's that had caught its prey's scent, his eyes kept darting to Bruce's bare skin. He made a step closer, stopped himself. “I need you to chain me up and not let me out until this is over.”

“Care to tell me what this is?” Bruce studied him, frowning. Clark looked very definitely ill, and almost a little unhinged, so maybe restraining him would be the best course of action until he could figure out what was wrong.

“Later,” Clark snapped as if he'd had the same thought. He must have been thinking it for a while if he'd come to Bruce at all. Neither one of them was any good at asking for help. Then his voice turned to pleading. “I don't want to hurt anyone, Bruce. Please, just … just make sure I can't hurt anyone.”

There was something wrong about Clark begging him for what Bruce had almost done when he shouldn't have, but then Bruce was good at silencing inconvenient doubts at least temporarily. He still didn't exactly like having Clark in the Cave, but it wouldn't be the first time, and anyway, judging by the look on Clark's face, they had no time to lose.

Clark had only ever come to the Cave via the lake entrance, not through the house, but despite his usual curiosity about the Bat's hide-out he barely seemed to notice his surroundings while following Bruce downstairs. His movements were at the same time shaky and forceful, like he could barely restrain his strength, and Bruce was only relieved that Alfred had already retired for the night. He could deal with Clark if he didn't have to worry about Alfred getting caught in the crossfire.

After a moment's hesitation he led Clark to his workout corner in the Cave – the medical room might have been a better fit, but he'd need solid walls to chain Clark to if he had any hope of restraining him effectively. Clark waited obediently while Bruce fetched the kryptonite from its safe – the spear-tip and another chunk he'd retrieved a few months ago. Their proximity should be enough to make sure Clark couldn't simply rip through any chains.

Clark's eyes widened in fear when Bruce returned – just like when he'd first breathed in the kryptonite gas and realised that there was something in the world that made him vulnerable. It wasn't a moment Bruce cared to relive.

“Are you sure about this?” he asked. Clark looked like he was anything but, but he still nodded.

“You have to. Before it gets too bad, and even you won't be able to stop me then.”

Bruce still didn't know what on earth he'd have to stop Clark from doing, Clark who'd rather die than hurt an innocent, Clark who hadn't even killed Bruce when his mother's life had been on the line. But he stepped closer, put both pieces of kryptonite down on a bench just out of Clark's reach and picked up a length of the chains he used for his workouts.

The green glow made Clark's pale, sweaty skin look even sicklier; he let out a pained groan and sat down on the floor, offered his wrists to Bruce in a gesture that was still more pleading than surrender. Bruce fastened the chains to the wall before he stepped closer and started wrapping them around Clark's wrists. The point was merely to keep him from crawling out of the kryptonite's area of influence and regaining his strength; the chains alone would never be able to hold him.

Inevitably his fingertips brushed over Clark's arms when he fastened the chains, and the kryptonite must have had a stronger effect than expected because Clark groaned as if Bruce had hit him, pulled his knees to his chest as if to protect himself.

“What the –“

“No, it's fine,” Clark said quickly. He tried to pull on the chains – a more controlled movement than before, clearly straining his muscles.

“Can you get out of them?” Bruce asked.

“No.” Clark tried another time before he let his bound hands sink to the floor in front of him, and he sounded nothing if not relieved. Curled up on rough stone in a dark cave, away from any sunlight, chained against a wall in the green glow of kryptonite, and he sounded relieved. Bruce couldn't imagine a situation where putting himself at the mercy of a man who'd once tried to kill him would seem like the safest course of action.

“Thanks,” Clark added after a moment. He was staring at his forearms, right where Bruce's hand had touched him.

“What the hell is going on with you?” Bruce asked. Now that the immediate danger seemed over – he still felt like he had shoved a tiger into a makeshift cage it might break out of at any moment – he shivered a little. The Cave had always been cold, and Bruce usually knew better than to walk around in it barefoot and shirtless.

“I don't know.” Clark swallowed. “I've been … feverish, I think, for a few days. And I can't control my powers. I hear everything, I smell everything. And I want –“

He bit his lip, so hard and sudden that Bruce almost expected him to draw blood.

“You want to hurt people?” Bruce prompted. That was what Clark had said – that Bruce shouldn't let him hurt anyone. He thought of some of Ivy's darker concoctions, the kinds that induced rage and violence, of Scarecrow's fear toxin. But there was nothing angry in Clark's eyes or his slumped posture.

“No!” The chains rattled when Clark moved, shifted around like he couldn't get comfortable. He probably couldn't on the stone floor. “No. But I can't control my strength. I could break someone's arm or push them down the stairs without even meaning to. I can't be out there.”

“Has this happened before?” Bruce felt sick at the thought of it, all his old fears of a super-powered alien who wasn't the friendly, kind saviour everyone thought him to be rushing back.

“Twice, since I came back. Not before.” Clark's knees were still drawn up and he kept shifting around, his breathing laboured. “But it wasn't this bad. I just holed up at home for a day and waited and it got better. I thought I had something like a Kryptonian flu, I don't know.”

“But it's something else?”

Clark shrugged awkwardly. Bruce still wasn't entirely sure how kryptonite affected him, but he assumed that Clark had to be in pain, and yet he seemed calmer now than upstairs. It wasn't much of an improvement, not when he was still trembling. Bruce considered taking his pulse, but even aside from the fact that he wasn't sure what Clark's resting heart rate was, touching him didn't seem like the best idea.

“What do you want me to do then?”

“You've done what I needed you to do. Just leave me here for a day or two, I'll be fine.” Bruce found that hard to believe. Clark's sickly paleness was only interrupted by the flush on his cheeks, probably due to his fever. “And it'd be better if you … if you left me alone. Easier.”

He wanted to ask why, but Clark's eyes were on him again, that same hungry, desperate look. The chains rattled when Clark reached out with one hand, and the sound seemed to surprise Clark as much as it did Bruce, like his hand had moved of its own volition. He pulled back like he'd burnt himself, wrapped his arms around his drawn up knees.

“Please?” he said, almost begging now.

Despite common accusations to the contrary, Bruce wasn't heartless, and one thing he could understand was wanting to be left alone when being miserable.

Bruce got dressed before he moved the small cot he kept in the Cave for those nights when he was too worn out to go upstairs to where Clark was chained up, releasing his wrists and tying up his ankle instead so that Clark could make himself a more comfortable. This time Clark grabbed his wrist when Bruce touched him by accident, and even kryptonite-weakened his grip was so tight that pain shot through Bruce's arm. He yanked himself free, but he had no doubt that Clark would have broken his arm if he'd had his full strength. Clark didn't even seem to realise what he'd done, he only whimpered quietly like he was in pain and drew a blanket over himself as if to hide his misery from Bruce's eyes.

Bruce drew a blood sample from him – used a sharp edge of the kryptonite shard to cut Clark's arm and gathered the blood – but given that he still knew next to nothing about Kryptonian physiology, the sample didn't tell him anything helpful. He stored it away for future use, but he couldn't tell if anything was wrong with it, there was nothing that resembled a virus or a human disease enough that Bruce could have figured out how to help Clark.

He didn't realise the exact extent of the problem until he went to check on Clark in the early morning hours, after wasting half the night staring at his blood sample and a series of inconclusive tests, to find Clark curled up on his side, the blankets thrown back, his slacks opened and his hand wrapped around his thick, heavy cock. With his furrowed brow he didn't look like he was enjoying himself; there was something desperate in his rough, hard strokes, almost like he was trying to punish his body for inconveniencing him.

It wasn't that Bruce had never imagined him like this – hard, needy, moaning and sweating and downright human, a more comfortable fantasy than that of god-like, unsmiling Superman forcing Bruce to his knees, but it had never been quite like this. Clark would have been gentler, more held back, certainly not shameless enough to touch himself when he knew Bruce could walk in. Not if he had been able to stop himself.

Clark only noticed him when Bruce had already been staring for a second or two, his eyes opening in an expression of pure terror and shame. He yanked his hand away from his cock and tried to cover himself in the same movement, stammered something that sounded like “I'm sorry”, but his voice cracked.

Bruce left because he didn't know what to say, didn't think there was anything he could say that would make this easier rather than more awkward for both of them. He hadn't been meant to see this, Clark never would have wanted Bruce to see him like that, moaning helplessly and thrusting into his own hand … Bruce tried to banish the image from his mind and returned to the blood sample as if he could somehow stare it into giving up the answer, surprisingly to no avail. An hour later he still heard soft, downright pained moans when he checked in on Clark, this time careful not to be noticed. Another hour later Clark seemed to have quieted down, so Bruce went in and offered him a glass of water before he sat down on the bench again.

It was morning by then, and Bruce hadn't slept for more than two hours that night, but he didn't feel half as exhausted as Clark looked, pale under his sweat-slick hair, smelling of sex and desperation, his cheeks flushed with shame.

Even now Clark remembered to thank him, ever the polite farm boy, before he drank the water. A quick glance down confirmed that there was still a noticeable bulge underneath the blanket; the last two hours didn't seem to have brought him any relief at all.

“I'm sorry you had to see that,” Clark mumbled. His shame was palpable, and he looked like he wanted nothing more than to disappear into thin air. “I couldn't hold back. I tried, I tried so hard, but I couldn't.”

“You're not sick, are you?” Bruce said. It wasn't a question, not after what he'd seen. “I wasn't aware that Kryptonians had such a different reproductive system from humans.”

Clark flushed even more, but he was too exhausted for a proper glare.

“Neither was I,” he snapped. “I didn't exactly have anyone to tell me about this. And it didn't use to happen either. I was normal before. I just need to … wait it out, like last time.”

“That didn't help?” Bruce asked. He didn't need to specify what he meant, not the way Clark grimaced.

“Not much. It gets so bad I can't not do it, but it doesn't help. It's like … eating when you're thirsty. Seems like better than nothing, but it doesn't solve the problem.”

Once he'd put down the glass, Bruce handed him a wet, cool washcloth, and Clark let out a grateful sigh when he ran it over his face. Drops clang to his dark lashes, ran over the feverish flush on his cheekbones, down to the curve of his lips. He didn't look flawless right now, untouchable, but lost and vulnerable and Bruce had no right in the world to see him like this. They weren't close, they were barely even friends. They were allies who managed to work together when the situation demanded it, but other than that Bruce was still a stranger.

“You should have come to me earlier,” he said to distract himself from staring. “If you'd hurt anyone –“

“You think it was easy for me, coming to you like this?” Clark interrupted him. “Letting you see me like some animal in rut that can't control itself?”

Bruce knew for a fact that he probably would have died before letting anyone but Alfred see him in such a state, not even Dick, certainly not Clark or even Diana. He couldn't imagine the desperation Clark must have felt to come to him, begging for help.

“You'd think a species as technologically advanced as the Kryptonians would have found a way to deal with this,” Clark groaned, the washcloth still pressed to his forehead.

“Maybe they did.” Bruce shrugged. “It's not like you know half of what they knew. They probably had ways of dealing with it, although if they'd had any kind of foresight they would have thought to include that information when they sent you into space.”

Clark drew the blanket tighter around himself; he'd gone from sweating to shaking again. He reminded Bruce more of a junkie who'd gone cold turkey than of a sick man now that he knew that Clark's body was simply missing something it very clearly needed.

“I can try to figure something out when you're better,” Bruce said, although he knew it was a long shot. “But there's nothing I can do right now. I don't know enough about normal Kryptonian physiology to identify what exactly is different right now.”

“It's fine.” Bruce had to bite back a smile; he briefly wondered if this was how Alfred felt every time Bruce told him he was fine despite his broken bones and bleeding wounds. Although Bruce doubted he'd ever looked half as miserable as Clark right now. “You should go, Bruce. I meant it, it's easier when … when you're not here.”

He was looking at Bruce again with that desperate expression in his eyes, like his last thread of self-control was wearing thin, like he was this close to reaching out again and not stopping this time until he felt Bruce's skin underneath his fingers. Even now the thought of Clark wanting him made Bruce feel heady, but he fought it down before it could take clearer shape in his head. Clark wanted him the same way a stallion wanted a mare in heat, instinct and hormones and nothing else.

“It's not – it's not personal,” Clark added quickly, as if he'd read his mind. “It's just that you smell so good right now, and I want – God, I need to stop talking.” Clark ran a hand through his sweaty hair, looking for a second like he wanted to pull it out in frustration. “Just leave me be, please, I'll be fine.”

It stung more than Bruce would have liked to admit, but there was no need to let Clark know that. He couldn't have known that Bruce would have much preferred it to be personal.

“I'll stay down in the Cave, I don't have anywhere to be today. Call if you need something.”

 

Clark had no intention of calling Bruce. It had been humiliating enough to come to him at all, but Bruce was the only person he knew of with enough kryptonite in his possession to restrain him, so it hadn't been much of a choice. And right now the kryptonite was far from the worst part of this entire situation.

He'd tried to sleep after Bruce had left him alone – it would have been nice, just sleeping through the worst hours and waking up refreshed and clear-headed – but his cock was so hard it hurt, so hard he couldn't focus on anything other than his arousal. He tried to distract himself with thoughts about work, about stories he was investigating and articles he'd planned to write, but his brain didn't obey him any more than his body did. He felt like a helpless passenger in his own body, with no say about how he felt and barely a say about what he did.

The whole Cave smelt of Bruce to his hyper-sensitised senses, but this corner of it was maybe worst – the smell of his sweat clinging to the bench and the weights, and although the sheets on the cot were fresh, Clark could still smell Bruce in the mattress. Could smell his strength, his power, his fearlessness, like an airborne drug that made it impossible to think about anything other than how much he wanted him. Like the moment he'd come here his body had decided to transform all his unfocused needs into desire for this one man.

Not that Clark hadn't wanted him before, that would have been a lie, but it had been far easier to ignore, both because Bruce was the most infuriating man he'd ever met, and because he knew for certain that it could never, ever happen. But it was getting harder to remember all the reasons why instead of thinking about Bruce's bare, smooth chest, about the outline of his cock through his boxers, that low, deep voice asking Clark what he needed …

He was touching himself again before he'd even realised it, and this time he didn't stop himself, didn't stop until another useless, unsatisfying orgasm that only left him yearning for more, for something warm to bury himself in, something that wasn't the frustratingly insufficient touch of his own hand.

He wasn't sure how much time had passed when Bruce came back. He wasn't sure if he hadn't maybe called for him after all, if his foggy mind hadn't decided to make this whole situation worse by letting Bruce know that he was thinking about him. It was a small mercy that Clark actually had his hands above the blanket when Bruce arrived, in loose sweatpants and a clingy tshirt, with another glass of water Clark gulped down like it could still his other thirst as well.

“This isn't working, is it?” Bruce asked, piercing dark eyes on Clark – measured and found wanting, Superman who had turned out to be more of an animal than any human. Not for the first time that night Clark wished that he could actually die of shame, anything to spare him Bruce's disdain. Or worse, Bruce's anger if … if Bruce decided that Clark was too dangerous to be released again. Maybe Bruce would have to keep him down here, chained up in his Cave, entirely at his mercy …

Clark licked his lips nervously and tried to focus on what Bruce had said.

“I … I told you it takes time …”

“You've had time, but you're not getting better, you're getting worse. And it's not the kryptonite, is it?” Bruce's eyes narrowed. Clark wanted nothing more than to tell him that it was the kryptonite, that Bruce needed to put it away, and then nothing would stop Clark from just touching him and taking what he wanted … The thought sickened him the moment it came to him, and he withdrew so far on the cot that his back touched the stone wall. Wanting Bruce already felt like overstepping his bounds, but thinking about forcing himself on him … he wanted to reassure himself that he'd never actually do it, but in his current state, he wasn't even sure of that much. In his current state he couldn't even say with any certainty that, given half a chance, he wouldn't hold Bruce down and taste his skin and …

“No,” he said softly. “If anything, the kryptonite dulls it. I'm sorry I'm … putting you out, but there was nowhere else I could have gone.”

“I know.” Bruce sounded matter of fact now, almost like he had a plan. Even now that felt reassuring. Bruce usually knew what to do. He'd know what to do with Clark, he'd know just what Clark needed. “So, it's not going away on its own, and you said you couldn't give yourself any relief. Seems like there's a very obvious solution, though. You need to do what your biology demands. When people are hungry, they need to eat. When they're exhausted, they need to sleep. There's only so long you can deny your body its basic biological needs.”

Surely Clark hadn't heard him right. Surely he'd got distracted again by Bruce's scent in his nostrils and missed some integral part of the conversation, but the next moment Bruce was stripping off his tshirt, hands quickly moving to his waistband next.

“What are you doing?” Clark gaped at him; Bruce seemed as unfazed as ever, like he undressed in front of Clark every other day.

“I'm aware this is a suboptimal solution, but there isn't anyone else around. You'll have to make do.”

Clark hadn't misunderstood. Bruce was offering himself, really, was offering to let Clark touch him and – and fuck him, Bruce had to know that was what Clark needed, and he was offering that. How miserable, how sick did he have to look that Bruce would sacrifice himself like that, for him? Bruce had to think Clark was all but dying.

You can't do that, he wanted to say, but even in his current state he knew that argument never worked with Bruce. Logic always worked better on him.

“What makes you think I don't need to, er, with a woman? If the purpose is procreation.” It wasn't the fever now that made his face burn, nor even the sight of Bruce shirtless, but just shame, and maybe it was a good sign that despite everything he could still feel shame at being reduced to this.

“I'd rather not call Diana unless we've exhausted all other options,” Bruce said, deadpan, like that was a reasonable thing to suggest, but his grin was grim when Clark all but yelped at his words.

“And you're the other option,” he replied once he'd recovered from the horror of imagining Diana seeing him like this. She would have been kind, much kinder than Bruce, he had no doubt about that, but he had enough Kansas in him that the thought of a woman seeing him in this state was far more embarrassing.

Bruce gave him that look he reserved for questions he didn't even deign to answer with a nod. He fished something from the pocket of his sweatpants before he pulled them over his hips along with his underwear and led them slide to the floor. His cock was long and thick, and even soft it seemed more desirable to Clark right now than anything else he'd ever seen in his life; his thighs were as muscled as Clark's own, just smoother. Countless scars were strewn over his body, more than Clark had ever imagined, but to his eyes they only seemed like adornments now, like a promise that Bruce could take him.

Bruce undid the chains on Clark's ankle, then pushed the bench with the kryptonite further away from the cot. Clark bit back a protest at the last moment – it wasn't as if he'd be tempted to go anywhere with Bruce here, naked and fearless, every scar a testament to his strength and tenacity, his nipples hardened in the cold air, the hairs on his arms standing up a little. Clark wanted to touch him more than he wanted to breathe, but he didn't let himself. This wasn't for his pleasure, for his entertainment, this was Bruce trying to get him functional again because he was too self-sacrificing for his own good. It was all wrong. Clark had never thought of sex as something anyone had to do, as scratching an itch because he was horny. It was supposed to be more than that, a connection between two people who cared for each other.

“You don't have to do this, Bruce, I'll be fine. I can't … I can't ask this of you.” Clark followed Bruce with his eyes when he knelt down on the bed. His fingers were unscrewing the bottle he'd pulled from his pocket, his movements as calm as if he were assembling one of his gadgets or tinkering with his car. A neutral, barely perceptible smell Clark couldn't identify until Bruce slicked his fingers with that same detached efficiency.

“You're not asking,” Bruce said, like that was the point.

Clark had never wanted him like this, cold and hard-eyed, like Clark was just another problem to be solved. The Bruce of his fantasies was passionate and impatient, the Bruce of his fantasies wanted him.

“No,” Clark said and grabbed Bruce's wrist, realising in the same moment the mistake he'd made. Bruce's skin burnt under his touch just like it had before, hot and inviting and he couldn't bring himself to let go. He surged closer and stopped just before his nose brushed against Bruce's, close enough to breathe in the same air that left Bruce's lips, close enough to see every grey hair on his temples, every line around his eyes. The Bruce of his fantasies was experienced, certain, he knew exactly what to do. That was one thing he shared with this Bruce, the real Bruce, who didn't let Clark's hand stop him, just continued with Clark's fingers curled around his wrist. He was frowning in something akin to concentration when he first touched himself, and Clark didn't allow himself to look, just listened to the slick touch of skin on skin, long fingers wasting no time teasing before they pushed in, accompanied by the smallest hitch in Bruce's even breathing.

“You can't,” Clark all but begged, and yet his other hand had found its way to Bruce's side of its own volition. Old scars on taut skin, heat radiating from it and seeping into Clark's fingers. His cock ached under the blanket, he'd been far too sensitive to tuck himself in again, but now even the soft fabric of the blanket was too much.

Bruce growled at him like the very idea that he couldn't do something offended him, and then he shuddered, and Clark realised only a moment later that Bruce must have pushed his fingers in deeper. He let his own hand slide up from Bruce's wrist to his hand, his fingers. He hadn't meant to brush his fingertips over the rim of his hole, he hadn't, but Bruce shuddered when he did. Shuddered – and next thing his cock was hardening between his strong legs, and the whiff of arousal Clark's nostrils caught short-circuited something in his brain, drowned out the reasonable part that tried to point out that it was merely a reaction to physical stimulation, until all that remained was the suddenly iron-clad certainty that Bruce wanted him, that Bruce needed this as much as he did, that he needed Clark to fuck him as desperately as Clark needed to bury himself in him.

The kryptonite wasn't weakening him enough that he couldn't grab Bruce and push him down like he weighed nothing, though just enough, his brain still registered gratefully, that he broke neither Bruce's bones nor the cot underneath them. He wasn't sure if the sound that left Bruce's lips was a gasp or a moan, but Bruce didn't try to fight back when Clark spread his legs with more confidence he ever would have felt otherwise. It was a good thing Bruce had already slicked himself up because Clark could push into him so easily, with a hard, rough thrust that met no resistance, and then – then Bruce tightened around him like a vice, made a sound that seemed to break out of the depth of his chest like Clark had ripped it from him, and every last clear thought evaporated from Clark's mind.

His cock had felt sore when he'd been touching himself, but now it sent a storm of pleasure through his whole body, and a relieved realisation that he was finally getting what he truly needed. Bruce's hands had come to rest on his sides, lightly at first, but now he was pulling Clark closer, wrapping his legs around Clark's hips to keep him where he wanted him, as if Clark was planning on going anywhere in the next … ever.

He wanted to kiss him, kiss that scowl off his lips, the frown off his forehead, but even now he knew that wouldn't be welcome, so instead he buried his face against Bruce's neck, breathed in the smell of sweat and arousal, pressed his lips against the thin skin of his throat where he could feel Bruce's blood racing through his veins, his usually slow, steady heartbeat ramped up to a thunder. Bruce stayed mostly quiet after that first groan, lips sealed, but Clark could hear his heartbeat, his breathing, could feel the way Bruce's muscles quivered, the way his fingers dug into Clark's shoulders with every thrust, how he tensed up every time Clark thrust into him.

The first time he came inside of Bruce, he felt like a mountain was lifted off his chest, like he could finally draw a full breath again without his body convulsing in pain. Bruce was taut like a wire underneath him, but when Clark lifted his head his face looked smoother, not quite relaxed, but not so damn detached anymore, not like this was just a practical solution for an otherwise unsolvable problem. Clark mouthed along the rough stubble on his jaw, this time paying attention to every shift in Bruce's expression when Clark rocked into him.

“You smell so good,” Clark mumbled against Bruce's jaw. “Don't know how I didn't notice that before.”

He licked the sweat off Bruce's throat, a surge of possessiveness going through him when Bruce cocked his head to the side to give him easier access, offering himself up while he pushed back against Clark's cock impatiently. Clark let his teeth graze Bruce's throat before he bit down, harder than he intended, but Bruce shuddered and groaned, his head lolling back when he came between them, the scent of his come mingling with his sweat – and Clark imagined that was what being high felt like, a whole world reduced down to a fog of one sensation, one scent, one feeling.

Some of the tension had seeped out of Bruce now, the way his thighs were wrapped around Clark's hips more languid than desperate, his arms encircling him lightly when his fingertips had been digging into Clark's flesh before. A small sigh fell from his lips when Clark drew almost all the way out before he thrust back into him – he wasn't done, could barely imagine ever being done with this, with Bruce. Maybe he should have asked Bruce if he was all right, if he could take more, but kissing his throat came more easily than words, and it wasn't as if Bruce had ever been shy about complaining when he didn't like what Clark was doing.

And he didn't complain once in the next hours, didn't complain when Clark flipped him over eventually and pounded right back into him, didn't complain when Clark left more bite marks on his neck and his shoulders, or when Clark pulled his head back by his hair to see his face again. Somewhere at the edge of his consciousness Clark knew that he had to be hurting him – not as badly as he could have with his full strength, but enough to bruise, enough to mark – but every bite and every thrust only drew a languid moan from Bruce's lips like there was nothing he could have wanted more. He didn't have to stop if Bruce didn't ask him to, didn't have to be gentler when Bruce took everything Clark gave him. Bruce always told him that he didn't need Clark to worry about him, and Clark had never been more grateful for those words than now. It seemed impossible that he had resisted the temptation to touch Bruce, to take him and make him his, for all this time.

He couldn't have said how long it took until the fog started to clear from his mind, until the urgency in his thrusts ebbed, until his orgasms started feeling like they used to again rather than like his body desperately trying to relieve an unbearable pressure that was almost ripping him apart. By then Bruce had gone almost limp underneath him, his moans weakened to quiet gasps, his body sweaty and bruised, so open and wet from Clark's come. Clark could smell himself all over Bruce, and his cock twitched lightly against Bruce's thigh. They were still entangled when Clark finally closed his eyes against Bruce's shoulder, closed them for just a minute, and slept through the rest of the night.

* * *

When he woke, he felt weak. Utterly exhausted to the point where sitting up seemed like an insurmountable exertion. He could feel the proximity of the kryptonite, not close enough to make him nauseous, but close enough to make his limbs heavy.

Bruce was stretched out beside him on the cot that was far too small for the both of them, their bodies pressed together tightly, sticky with dried sweat and semen. Bruce's hair was sticking to the back of his neck, and underneath bloomed a plethora of angry bite marks that were already turning purple. Clark pulled away in shock, only for his eyes to fall on equally dark bruises on Bruce's shoulders and hips, right where Clark had grabbed him, some of them even finger-shaped.

It was only when he had stumbled to his feet that he realised that his head – despite the exhaustion and the kryptonite – felt clear. He wasn't feverish anymore, he wasn't hard, and the sight of Bruce's spread out body, covered in bruises and come, filled him only with shame and guilt, not with desire.

Running seemed like the most appealing course of action, getting out of here and pretending none of this had ever happened and hoping that Bruce would do the same, but he wasn't that much of a coward. Bruce didn't deserve that, not after letting Clark use and abuse him out of nothing but … what, selflessness? Pity? Pragmatism? None of that would have earned Bruce what Clark had put him through, the bite marks and the bruises and the – Clark tore his gaze away from Bruce's ass and pulled up the crumpled blanket to cover him with it.

He found his slacks and his phone in them on the floor – seven in the morning, and that couldn't be right, he'd only come here around two, but then he saw the date. He'd spent over a day in the Cave, and he absolutely did not want to know how much of it he'd spent waiting to get better on his own, how much he'd spent sleeping just now, and how much of it he'd spent … wrecking Bruce, there hardly seemed to be a better word for it. Bruce was breathing evenly though, so at least Clark didn't seem to have injured him.

He didn't run, but he needed to get away from the kryptonite and into the sunlight, so he tore a page out of his notebook, scrawled a brief “I'm upstairs” on it – after five attempts at something longer, something more apologetic, all of which probably would have made the situation worse – left it on the cot and went up into the lake house.

The sunlight that fell through the large windows hit him like a crushing wave; he could all but feel it seep into his cells, his skin, his bones. Powered by sunlight, Alfred had once said dryly, and Clark had never felt more like a recharged battery than in that very moment. He could hear the birds singing outside, but he could also shut them out them if he tried. He could still smell Bruce – even Alfred's obsessive cleanliness couldn't erase every trace of the man, not for Clark's heightened senses – but it was a light, comfortable scent, not the overwhelming bombardment of the previous day.

Alfred – Clark had a moment of panic until he'd checked that Alfred was nowhere to be heard in the house. He hoped to God that Alfred hadn't come by yesterday to check on Bruce – he must have, he always did, but Clark couldn't remember. Maybe Alfred was so used to Bruce Wayne's escapades that he hadn't even batted an eyelash at what had been going on in the Cave, but the idea that Alfred might have seen them … It was almost more horrifying than what had happened itself.

Clark decided to take a shower – it hardly felt presumptive, all things considered. He felt worse for borrowing a pair of slacks and a tshirt from Bruce's closet, but there was no way he was putting his sweat-soaked clothes back on. After that he made himself a cup of coffee – going into his kitchen was at this point the least of his sins against Alfred – settled down on one of the kitchen's bar stools, soaked in the sunlight, and waited.

It was ten by the time the hidden door to the Cave opened, Clark was on his third cup of coffee, and as his body was beginning to feel restored, his mind was as much in uproar as when he'd arrived. He'd sometimes had nightmares about Bruce turning on him again – if Clark accidentally hurt someone, or if his powers destroyed more lives than they saved. One thing he'd never even thought about was what Bruce would do if Clark hurt him, if Clark betrayed his trust and his generosity and used him.

Bruce stopped short when he entered the kitchen and saw Clark, just a moment's hesitation before he turned towards the espresso maker. He had cleaned up – Clark wasn't even surprised that there was a second shower in the Cave itself – the bruises were hidden under a tight black turtleneck, his hair was still wet. Clark remained quiet; this whole thing had been his fault, the least he could do was let Bruce start the conversation on his own terms.

On Bruce's own terms apparently included waiting until he'd finished what looked like a triple espresso. Then he put down his cup and leant back against the kitchen counter, pointedly keeping the table between himself and Clark, his arms folded over his chest.

“I thought you would have left by now,” he said. Clark grimaced a little.

“Would you have preferred that?” He'd been so ashamed of his own cowardice that it hadn't even occurred to him that maybe Bruce wanted to ignore this as much as Clark had. The problem was that he doubted they could simply pretend it had ever happened. At the very least he owed Bruce an apology for last night, at the very least he had to make sure that Bruce was all right. When Bruce didn't answer, Clark shrugged and pointed at himself, “I'm sorry I snooped through your closet. My clothes were …”

“It's fine, I do own more than enough shirts.”

Clark lowered his gaze and decided not to mention that he had also borrowed some of Bruce's underwear, black briefs made of the silkiest, softest fabric. After last night he didn't think he could have stood anything coarser.

He wanted to know how Bruce was feeling – he could see that he had no broken bones, at least none that hadn't already been broken when Clark had shown up, but he also knew that Bruce would simply claim he was fine even if he wasn't. Instead he said, “I shouldn't have come here. It was selfish of me to put you in danger.”

Bruce's frown deepened.

“There wasn't anywhere else you could have gone, nobody else who could have made sure you didn't do any damage.”

“But I did, didn't I. Do damage.” Clark forced himself to meet Bruce's eyes. He would have thought it'd been easier to read the man after what they'd done, but Bruce was as inscrutable as ever, his eyes dark and brooding, and although Clark had always noticed that weary sadness in them before, he felt responsible for it now. Softly, he continued, “I hurt you.”

“I've had worse.” Bruce's calm was grating. It wasn't that Bruce owed him anything, but it felt unfair that he could be so composed when Clark wanted to smash something with his bare hands.

“Don't you give me that nonsense about being fine, Bruce. I've seen the bruises I left. The bruises you let me leave.” He stood up from his stool and walked around the table, and tried not to notice the way it made Bruce tense up. “You didn't have to do that. And you shouldn't have.”

Bruce's eyes turned icy as he straightened up, and how Clark hated that one inch Bruce had on him, the way he could somehow make it feel like he was looking down at him from up high.

“I did what I had to do in absence of other options. I'm aware you didn't have much of a choice in the matter, and that you hardly would have picked me to vent your frustration on, but I'm not going to apologise for preventing you from getting worse.”

“I don't want an apology from you, Bruce, I'm trying to … I'm trying to apologise for hurting you. For behaving like the kind of monster you used to think I was.” Clark looked away, his shame too strong for him to sustain any anger. Venting his frustration on Bruce sounded about right; he hadn't been much better than someone who took out his anger on his wife or his child or his dog. He'd learnt early to control his strength, so early that it barely took him any conscious effort. He never had to worry about breaking plates because he'd been careless or hurting Ma when he hugged her. He'd never not been able to trust his body.

“Monsters don't ask someone to chain them up and contain them.” There was almost a gruff gentleness in Bruce's voice now, even if his posture was as tense as before. “You needed help. I helped. There's really no need to keep talking about this.”

Forgiveness was more than Clark had hoped for, knowing how Bruce could hold a grudge, and yet the words still stung. It had just been a favour, just pity, and everything else had been conjured up by his lust-addled brain. He swallowed.

“Yes, there is. Because I should have known better than to come to you of all people.” Clark had never been good at accepting small mercies, and his conscience was already too laden with guilt to let him lie about this, too. “It wasn't just the … this fever that made me do this. I wanted to, before. I never would have, but I should have known that going near you would make it worse, far worse than with anyone else.”

Bruce looked more astounded than when he'd realised what was going on with Clark, as if Clark genuinely wanting him was somehow more absurd than Clark behaving like a crazed animal. His brow furrowed as deeply as if he was trying to form the Bat's scowl with his face, his eyes were filled with suspicion.

“Is that what you have to tell yourself to make sense of this?” he asked, his voice hard.

“What? No. It's the truth, damn you,” Clark said. “And you have a right to know that I was enjoying that more than I had any right to. Because you weren't, you were just helping, and I was …”

Bruce let out a short, brief scoff of a laugh that stopped Clark short.

“Did that rut of yours make you blind on top of everything? In terms of inappropriate enjoyment I'd give you a run for your money.”

For a second Clark felt almost light-headed again, like when he was floating just above the ground, only this time it was a small sliver of hope carrying him rather than his powers. It didn't make any of this okay, of course, and yet if he hadn't merely imagined that Bruce had liked it, that Bruce had wanted him … it didn't make it okay, but it made it better at least. He smiled tentatively.

“I don't have any money that'd be worth breaking a sweat for,” he said, his voice soft like a peace offering. The Bat would have scoffed at it, he knew, but he'd forgotten that Bruce Wayne would take it as an invitation to flirt. The corner of his mouth quirked up in a smirk that was just a bit too wide for the Bat.

“You have a lot of other things worth breaking a sweat for,” Bruce said, and Clark couldn't help but laugh about just how terrible that line was. But then Bruce's hand was on his chest, splayed flat against it, the touch warm through the thin tshirt, but not scorching hot anymore. “It did work, didn't it?”

“Yeah,” Clark said a little breathlessly. He barely dared to move a muscle for fear of making Bruce withdraw again. He knew he looked better, too, healthy again, so there was no need for Bruce to touch him unless he wanted to, was there? “I feel like myself again. In control. But I also still …” He didn't know how to put it in a way that wouldn't make Bruce scoff or himself blush, so instead he merely covered Bruce's hand with his own, pressed it more firmly against his chest.

“Hm,” Bruce made like that was any answer at all, but his hand stayed where it was, warm and steady, the ice in his eyes melting. He shifted closer without really stepping forward, warm and solid and certain and actually fine, neither angry nor hurt. Clark couldn't hold his smile back even though he knew it'd make Bruce glower a little, but Bruce didn't pull away when Clark raised a tentative hand to his face, brushed his fingertips through Bruce's wet hair. He'd touched it often enough the night before, but never tenderly, when he'd thought a hundred times before about running his fingers through it.

“You know, most of our problems could be solved if we occasionally talked to each other before doing things, like trying to kill each other or having sex ...” he said, still grinning and grinning all the more for the look Bruce gave him.

“I think most of my problems could be solved if you generally talked less,” Bruce replied, but his voice lacked any venom now, or maybe it was just that even the Bat of Gotham had a hard time sounding irritated while clearly enjoying having his hair stroked.

“You could shut me up,” Clark suggested, a little giddy on Bruce's proximity, but in a good way – in a way that felt more like himself rather than like his mind had been hijacked by his body going haywire. “We could do this while my brain is actually participating.”

Bruce groaned downright theatrically.

“I have an entire day's work to catch up on thanks to your physiological inconveniences, you and I are not doing anything,” he said. And yet he didn't step away, didn't flinch when Clark's fingertips followed his hairline down to the collar of the turtleneck, pausing for a moment before they slipped underneath the fabric and ghosted over one of the bruises. His hand was still on Clark's chest, and it stayed there when Clark leant in to kiss him.

They hadn't kissed even once the night before. It hadn't seemed right to take that from Bruce, too, when it wasn't offered, but now Bruce's lips parted under Clark's willingly. He only let Clark initiate the kiss before he took charge of it, his teeth burrowing into Clark's bottom lip, a light nip turning into a harsher bite, and Bruce licked Clark's answering moan from his mouth like he'd been hungry for it. There was no pity in that, no pragmatic self-sacrifice, and he didn't even scoff when Clark smiled against his lips.

Clark still didn't want to think about the bruises he'd left on Bruce's skin, certainly didn't want to imagine what he could have done to him if he'd lost control like that while having his full powers, but Bruce's lips felt too good to regret that this had happened at all.

“Don't you have a job to go back to?” Bruce mumbled a minute or five later, his forehead leaning against Clark's.

“I guess, yeah.” Clark didn't want to admit that his job had been the last thing on his mind for the past 48 hours. He hadn't even called in sick. Perry would rip his head off. “I'd like to … come back some time, though. You said you could maybe figure out what exactly caused this. I'd really rather not have this happen when I'm in the middle of carrying people from a burning building.”

It wasn't a lie, even if it was far from the only reason. He half expected Bruce to tease him for it, but instead Bruce merely nodded, then kissed him again.

To Clark's disappointment Bruce still managed to make it to his second meeting that day.