mithen: (Knight)
[personal profile] mithen
Title:  The Wonder That's Keeping the Stars Apart, Chapter One
Pairing/Characters: Clark/Bruce
Notes: "Music of the Spheres" is a series set in the combined universes of "Batman Begins" and "Superman Returns." Other stories and notes on the series here.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: It's an ordinary day for Clark and Bruce, until it isn't anymore.
Word Count: 1400

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)


Clark woke up with the sound of Bruce's breathing a soft murmur in his ear.  He rolled over in his empty bed, smiling to himself, listening.  The pitch and rhythm of Bruce's respiration meant he was sleeping, and sleeping well.  Clark knew the difference in sound between restful sleep and shallow doze, knew all too well what it meant when Bruce's breathing hitched in his sleep, caught in the ragged cadences of nightmare.  At those times he tried to resist flying there in an eyeblink to be at his lover's side, to smooth the hair back from his forehead and kiss him, or just to watch over him for a little while.

Usually he succeeded.

Clark was dressed and on his way out the door when he heard Alfred enter the room, heard the curtains slither open.  Far away, Bruce groaned and Clark smiled.

"Some breakfast, sir?"

Bruce's voice mumbled something that sounded like "Mphgrrph." 

"You're welcome, sir."  There was a clink of china and glass, then footsteps leaving the room.
 
As he got on the bus that would take him to work, Clark heard Bruce take a long swallow of coffee.  A pause.  A long, slow exhalation.  "Good morning," said Bruce's voice, still a bit blurry with sleep.  "Sounds like you're on the way in already.  Have a good day at work."

By the time Clark was sitting down at his desk and starting to look at the morning's work Bruce was working out, his breathing increasingly staccato and sharp in Clark's ear.  It was always uncomfortably similar to the sound when Bruce was aroused, and Clark usually had to spend this time every morning concentrating very hard indeed on his paperwork.  It was worse those times Bruce decided to throw in some descriptions of what he was looking forward to doing to Clark later, his voice hoarse and panting.  Those mornings had an unfortunate tendency to end with Clark making an abrupt visit to the men's room while Bruce's voice growled and shivered along his ear canal, reaching down his spine.

This morning Bruce was all business, and Clark was relieved.  Mostly.

He had jokingly complained to Bruce about it, and Bruce had reminded him that he was welcome to turn off the receiver and get some peace.  He seemed to assume Clark did it off now and then, and Clark had never felt the need to disabuse him of the notion.  Bruce usually left the receiver off for hours a time, saying he couldn't focus with the distraction in his ear.  For Clark, accustomed to filtering out a constant barrage of sound from his super-hearing, it was no distraction at all.  Quite the contrary.

It wasn't as easy to turn off the microphone, but Clark was sure Bruce had figured out how to do it.  Yet he never did, letting Clark listen to his voice, his surroundings, his life without interruption.  A gift beyond measure, although Clark had never told Bruce so.

For almost two years now, the low, constant sussuration of Bruce's breath, the almost subsonic sound of his heartbeat, had been Clark's constant companion, the rhythm by which his life danced. 

He needed no other music.

Lunchtime came, and Clark shared sub sandwiches with Lois, Richard, and Jimmy.  Jimmy's woeful love life was the topic of conversation of the day:  Lois seemed unable to resist fixing Jimmy up with potential dates, with comically tragic results.  As usual, Clark took the opportunity to check on Jason, who was wildly into his Cub Scout activities this month. 

"He's crazy about this Palmwood Derby thing," said Lois around a mouthful of sandwich.

"The Pinewood Derby?"  Clark could feel his face light up.  "I did that as a Cub Scout."

"Building a car from a block of wood, crazy stuff," Lois said.  "But he and Richard are having a lot of fun working on it together."

"I wish he'd ask me for help," said a voice in Clark's ear.  "We would totally crush the competition."

Clark stifled a laugh at the image of Bruce crouched over a pine block, brow furrowed with concentration, and focused on the conversation at hand.  "My Pa and I spent hours every year working on mine.  Happy memories." 

His voice must have sounded wistful, because Richard clapped him on the back.  "Would you like to come to the Derby and cheer him on?  It's in a couple of weeks."

"I'd like that."  Clark shoved his glasses up on his nose.  He was probably grinning like an idiot.  That was okay.  "That'd be great."

In the afternoon, a detour to deal with a couple of emergencies--an earthquake in Indonesia, a break-in at the Metropolis hospital--meant Clark had to work late, which meant he couldn't make it to the fundraiser of the night.  He didn't feel too badly about that as he listened to Bruce fuss and gripe about wearing another monkey suit.

"But you're such a handsome monkey, sir," said Alfred's voice.

"A real alpha male," muttered Clark under his breath, making Bruce snort and mumble something about showing Clark who was alpha later.

Lois dropped a cup of coffee on his desk.  "Stop talking to yourself and focus, Smallville." 

"Right, right," he muttered, as Lois sat down at her own desk and started typing at a breakneck pace. 

There was a small throat-clearing behind Clark and he turned to find Jason standing there, a shy smile on his face.  "Hi Clark," the boy said.  "I was wondering..."

"Oh, sure," said Clark, digging in his desk and coming up with his superhero action figures.  Jason ran off with them to Perry's office, making whooshing noises.

The sound of the party was an echo in his ears, the clink of china and laughter of socialites a counterpoint to his story about Suicide Slum.  Bruce's light, pleasant baritone was the music that kept him working, kept his fingers moving on the keys.

Bruce started slurring his words early;  under the blurry syllables Clark could hear his impatience to be out on patrol.  "Just need some fresh air... I'll walk to my penthouse and crash there, thanks."  Cordial goodbyes, the rustle of a muffler going around Bruce's neck, and the noise of the party fell away. 

Jason ran by behind Clark's desk as Lois absently reprimanded him, his footsteps mirrored by the sound of Bruce's wingtips on cobblestones, far away.  Bruce was humming, some meaningless love song, his voice like velvet along Clark's nerves.

And then Bruce suddenly took a sharp breath.  "You!" he said, and Clark could hear his voice snapping into clarity.

"Yes, Bruce," said a cultured, calm voice.  Clark's hands hovered on the keyboard, uncertain, his eyes fixed on nothing as he listened.

"But you're--"

"Oh, far from it."
  There was a sudden sound of a scuffle, a large one although Clark had only heard the one voice.  A thud, then a silence, broken by Bruce's hoarse, labored breathing.  "Your form continues to improve.  But you're still only one man."

"Clark?" said Lois, behind him, far away.  "Are you all right?"

Clark hesitated, his every instinct screaming that he should hurry there.  But Superman couldn't just come sailing to the rescue of Bruce Wayne out of nowhere.  They'd discussed this.  They stayed out of each other's business unless--

"My Lord, he's got some kind of transmitter on him," said a heavily-accented voice.

"Does he now?"  The man sounded mildly curious.  "Where is it?"

The second man's voice grew louder, as if he were closer.  There was a hum of electronics.  "Implanted under the skin, just above his ear, sir."

"Very well then," said the first voice.  It sounded faintly regretful.  "I'm afraid you leave me no choice, Bruce, as we are rushed for time."

And then there was a horrible crunching noise, a world-ending cacophony in Clark's ear, deafening. 

The line went dead.  Silence filled Clark's ears like howling.  Silence.

He was vaguely aware of Lois's concern as he doubled over, mumbling about being sick, fleeing to the bathroom and then to the open air, cape swirling.

Silence.

He couldn't pick out Bruce's heartbeat--so familiar, more familiar than his own--from among the chaos of Gotham.  The alleys were empty.  Gone.  There was nothing in his ears but silence.

Nothing but silence.


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