mithen: (Coffee S/B)
[personal profile] mithen
Title: Body Double
Pairing/Characters: Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/Spoilers: None
Fandom: DC Comics
Summary: A very late fill for the Unconventional Courtship Fest! Prompt: Scarred inside and out by a past he can't remember, Bruce Wayne doesn't know if he's the playboy billionaire, or the hit man who killed him and assumed his identity. While he is determined to remain in the shadows, it's Clark Kent who forces him back into the light. When the gorgeous reporter is attacked, Bruce comes to his rescue…and finds it impossible to walk away. Now, with a dangerous stalker determined to get his hands on the man who got away, protecting Clark becomes Bruce's priority. But with his memories still in question, Bruce fears what will happen when the bad guy comes calling. Can he prove he's the good guy Clark is convinced he must be?
Word Count: 5500



Bruce Wayne’s body lay at the foot of a cliff, his slate-gray eyes staring into infinity. Quite dead.

The man bending over him stared into their blank depths for a long time, then reached out and closed his eyes with two shaking fingers. He looked around at the booming ocean, looked up at the top of the cliff from which they must have fallen: his scraped hands and aching head were proof of that, if Wayne’s shattered body were not enough. The thorn bush that had broken his fall had torn his suit, left welts along the backs of his hands. His head was still spinning, and jags of nausea came and went. He couldn’t remember how he had come to be at the bottom of a cliff with a dead playboy billionaire. He couldn’t seem to remember much of anything, but he was sure it would all settle down and make sense eventually.

“Call the police,” he muttered to himself, groping in his pocket for his phone. “Call--”

He blinked at the phone in his hand: matte black with the Wayne Enterprises logo on it. Why did he have Bruce Wayne’s phone?

With a sudden strange burst of adrenaline, he turned on the camera and trained it on his own face.

On the screen was a face with high cheekbones, a nose slightly too strong for beauty, slate-gray eyes. He looked from the image to the face of the dead man and felt fresh nausea pierce him.

He had Bruce Wayne’s face.

So who was that man? Or--

Who was he?

He sat down hard on the damp ground. He wasn’t Bruce Wayne. He would know if he was Bruce Wayne. Wouldn’t he? He rubbed at his forehead angrily, trying to still his spinning thoughts, trying to remember anything before waking at the foot of a cliff with a dead man who looked like him. Or a dead man he looked like. But there was nothing. Oh, he knew who Bruce Wayne was--owner of Wayne Enterprises, fervent polo-player, orphan from a young age--but the information was all intellectual, abstract, as if it were from a textbook or a Wikipedia page.

No police, then. Not until he figured out what was going on.

Staring around the area, he caught sight of a briefcase lying a few feet away, smashed open against the rocks. Grabbing it, he opened it and looked in to find three things:

First, a large quantity of nonsequential bills.

Second, a pistol: a Taurus 58HC. Italian. Serial numbers filed off.

Third, a contract for Bruce Wayne’s life, sealed with an insignia: a centipede twined into an infinity symbol.

Well now, that’s interesting, said a cold voice in the back of his mind. His knees were shaking and he still wanted to throw up, but the voice went on relentlessly: Look at the evidence. Someone planned to kill Bruce Wayne and take his place. One of the two people at the bottom of this cliff is Bruce Wayne.

The other is an assassin.

So which one are you?





At the top of the cliff was the Ritz-Carleton Hotel, overlooking the skyline of what he knew was Metropolis. Squaring his shoulders, he walked up to the front desk.

The man behind the desk took in his ripped suit and battered appearance and his eyes widened. “Good heavens, Mr. Wayne! Are you all right?”

He smiled apologetically; the motion made his head throb. “I, uh, took a wrong turn in the dark and I’m afraid I took a tumble. No, that’s fine, I don’t need to see a doctor. I just--I’m afraid I’ve lost my room key.”

His calculated gamble that Wayne had been staying here paid off; the staff quickly handed him a new key. Sixtieth floor, the Executive Suite, of course. As he got in the elevator, he tried not to think about the briefcase and the body, weighted with stones, currently sinking to the bottom of Metropolis Bay. He tried not to think about how he knew the make of that pistol just by looking at it. He tried not to think about the fact that he had known exactly how best to dispose of a body.

By the time he got to his room, he was shaking.

He stood in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at the face reflected in it. He touched it, as if searching for seams, signs of an operation. There were none. His eyes in the mirror looked cold, calculating as a stranger’s. He was filthy: blood on his face, mud matted in his hair. A shower. A hot shower and maybe everything would come back. He took off his torn suit coat, then unbuttoned his shirt.

Halfway down, he froze.

Pushing aside the edges of the shirt, he traced the jagged half-healed scar etched across his abdomen. There were more on his sides, evenly spaced deep scratches as if from a set of claws. With shaking hands he ripped off the shirt, staring at his body in horror.

So many scars: old healed ones and fresh raw ones, scars from bullets and blades and breaks. They ran across his shoulders and down his back, a murderous map.

Gripping the edge of the sink, he looked at a body no pampered playboy could ever have. The body of a killer.

His body.

No! Vehemence rose up in him like vomit, an agonized rejection of the evidence in front of his eyes. I’m no murderer! I’m not! He tore off his shredded trousers, panic shearing through him as more and more scars were revealed, along with muscles and sinew that were never gained playing polo. No!

Lurching into the shower, he turned on the water to scalding and stood under it as if he could somehow sluice the icy-cold facts from his mind. The knowledge of the pistol, the cold efficiency with which he had disposed of Wayne’s body, the brutal reality etched into his very skin.

Bruce Wayne is dead. You were sent to kill and replace him. And you’ve succeeded.




By the time he got out of the shower and dried his hair, his mind was clear again. Carefully, he took his emotional reaction to this new knowledge and pushed it to the back of his mind: collapsing in horror wouldn’t help him deal with this situation. Wrapping a robe around him, he stared out at the lights of Metropolis and took stock of the information he had.

It seemed extremely likely that he was an assassin, sent to kill and replace Bruce Wayne. Clearly something had gone wrong in the process despite his success, because he not only had no memories, he had no desire to fulfill his contract, no wish to learn about his true self. Every atom of his mind rose up in utter rejection of the idea of being a contract killer. Had they brainwashed him into being an assassin, and this was his true self re-asserting itself? Or had the blow on his head knocked his moral axis askew as well?

He rested his hands against the window, touched his aching forehead to the cool glass. It didn’t matter, and he didn’t care. If his ethics had been knocked “askew,” he had no desire to re-align them, no desire to rejoin some terrorist organization. He clearly wasn’t an innocent and fun-loving playboy, but that didn’t mean he had to be a killer. He refused.

All well and good until this shadowy organization came to see if he had been successful, he thought ruefully.

Bruce Wayne’s phone--his phone, he reminded himself; he would have to start thinking of himself as “Bruce”--made a polite little sound. He looked at its calendar: apparently he was here in Metropolis for some awards ceremony for ethical journalism.

Shrugging, he pulled a fresh suit out of the closet. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do next, but whether he wanted to try and take down the group that had killed Wayne or steal Wayne’s identity and lay low, it was a good idea to pretend to be him for now.




It was actually quite easy to pretend to be Bruce Wayne, he realized a few hours later: no one expected you to have much personality, so conversations mostly stayed vague and polite. A couple of women had given him looks which led him to believe they were previous lovers, but hadn’t seemed terribly surprised when he hadn’t seemed to remember them clearly. A man who hadn’t left much mark on the world, it seemed. A man no one would miss if he were replaced.

The thought seemed rather sad.

Suddenly uncomfortable with vapid small talk, he disentangled himself from his current conversation and went out to the veranda, where the lights of Metropolis reflected in the bay like shafts of wavering radiance. He looked out at the water and tried not to think about the body of Bruce Wayne sinking into the depths of it.

“Spring can’t come soon enough for me either,” said a voice nearby, and he realized he had shivered.

“I hate this time of year,” he muttered, knowing it was true but not knowing where the stab of sorrow that pierced him at the thought came from. “Everything gray and dreary and cold and waiting for a spring that feels like it will never come.”

“But it always does come.” The man seemed to think this was extremely profound somehow. “You must be Bruce Wayne,” he said, sticking out a hand. “I’m Clark Kent. My co-worker at the Daily Planet, Lois Lane, is being honored tonight.”

“Please to meet you,” Bruce said. Some memory sparked at the corner of his mind, a tiny beacon, and he said, “Isn’t she the one who wrote up that first interview with Superman?”

Superman! The word was a tiny firecracker of emotion in his brain: annoyance/curiosity/frustration all igniting together. He had some history with Superman: had the Man of Steel thwarted him in the past? Kept him from completing an assignment? Thank you if so, Superman.

No time to look at the emotion more closely; Clark Kent was talking about Lane’s ground-breaking interview, her coverage of Superman’s first year.

“Aren’t you jealous she scooped you?” Bruce asked when he paused to take a breath: a petty impulse that he immediately regretted.

But Kent didn’t bristle at all; instead, he threw back his head and laughed. “If I’m going to seethe every time Lois Lane scoops me, I’m in for a professional career of pain and suffering,” he said. “She’s amazing.” He opened his mouth, perhaps to expand on how amazing Lois Lane was, but was interrupted by the sudden arrival on the veranda of three men in black, small blades in their hands glittering, honing in on them with deadly focus.

No, not on them.

On Kent.

They paid Bruce Wayne no heed at all, bearing down on the reporter instead. Kent scrabbled backwards to the edge of the veranda, panic in his eyes, and Bruce found himself moving without being fully aware of it, letting the instincts of his assassin’s body take over. He got between the ninja and their prey, and took a small moment of gratification in the glint of surprise in their eyes before he disarmed and knocked them out with a fluid speed that startled even him.

Kent bent over each of them in turn, checking their pulses, then looked up at Bruce with suspicion clouding his open face. “Where did you learn to fight like that?” he said.

“Self-defence classes.” He was amazed and faintly appalled at how easily lying came to him. “You’d be surprised how often people think it’s a good idea to take a playboy billionaire hostage.”

The suspicion cleared and Kent chuckled softly. “I’m not sure I would,” he said. People had noticed the commotion and guards were running toward the veranda; he knelt and quickly rolled up the sleeves of one of his erstwhile assassins. He gave a low whistle, and Bruce felt his breath stutter in his throat as he looked down.

On the pale wrist of the unconscious man was tattooed a familiar image: a centipede twisted into an infinity symbol.




“The 100,” Kent said much later, once the police had taken the assassins away and the hubbub had died down. “That was their symbol.”

“But what are they?” said Bruce over his rye whiskey on the rocks, keeping his voice low enough that other people in the hotel bar couldn’t hear him. “And why would they be coming after you?”

“They’re an international criminal organization, currently headquartered in Metropolis. I’ve written some stories about them.” Kent shrugged. “Pretty small stuff, but it must have annoyed them.”

The 100 had wanted Bruce Wayne dead as well, but had wanted to replace him with a doppleganger. It would be hard to replace a reporter--difficult to copy the distinctive turns of phrase, the gift of words that made his work powerful. A copy of Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, only needed to be able to sign checks. A walking wallet. He felt his hand tighten almost painfully on his glass, as if the thought made him angry: had he been altered just to provide an organization like the 100 with funding?

“To hell with them,” he muttered--too low to be heard, he thought, but Clark Kent snorted with surprised laughter.

“To heck with them!” Kent agreed, clinking Bruce’s glass with his own.

Bruce flashed as charming a smile as possible. “I don’t read the papers much, Mr. Kent--”

“--Please, call me Clark. I figure if you save someone’s life you get to call them by their first name.”

“Very well, Clark. I don’t read the papers much, but I find myself with a desire to learn as much as I can about this nefarious 100.” He shifted his chair closer to Clark’s, until their knees almost touched. “Would you mind telling me everything you know about them?”




“Excuse me, gentlemen?” Bruce looked up, surprised, and the bartender shrugged. “I’m sorry, but the bar is closing.”

Bruce looked at his watch. Had they really been talking for three hours? Apparently. Clark had summarized all of his articles about the 100, and Bruce had tried not to show how his blood ran cold at the idea that he might be working for them: they had their fingers in every rotting pie on the east coast. When Clark had mentioned that they were behind an influx of extra-addictive drugs onto the streets of Gotham, Bruce had had to excuse himself for a moment and go to the restroom, where he had punched the mirror, shaking with fury.

But from the 100 the conversation had wandered. Clark had started talking about how he had wanted to write a story as a counterpoint, something that focused on the positive things people were doing. “Maybe a profile on the Manna Soup Kitchen in Suicide Slum. Or Leslie Thompkins’ clinic in Gotham. She’s a friend of yours, isn’t she? She says she’s too busy to waste time on interviews--maybe you could change her mind?”

He groped in his mind for a “Leslie Thompkins,” but came up with nothing except a faint scent of roses, which could mean anything. Or nothing. “I’ll see if I can convince her,” he had said, and steered the conversation back to volunteering, and hope, and life in the cities. It was the first time that evening, he realized, that anyone had looked at him and talked to him like this--like his opinion mattered, like they didn’t assume he’d be bored by anything weighty.

He most certainly was not bored by Clark Kent.

“I suppose I’d better be getting home,” Clark said, standing up.

Bruce felt a stab of alarm go through him. “Do you really think that’s safe? I mean, there are people who want you dead out there.”

“They won’t try again tonight.”

“You can’t be sure of that!” Bruce jumped to his feet. “Look, I’ve got a suite in this hotel. Stay here tonight.” He just wanted to thwart the 100, he told himself. If they wanted Clark dead, he would help keep him alive. “Stay with me.” That was the only reason.

Clark smiled at him then, an oddly hopeful, shy smile, and he wondered if he had been better at lying to himself before the amnesia.




“Nice view,” Clark said, staring out at the bay and the lights of Metropolis twinkling across from it. Bruce could see his reflection in the windows that stretched from ceiling to floor: in the darkened glass his face seemed more austere, less sweet.

“It’s a beautiful city,” Bruce said, coming to stand next to him. “Gotham’s better, though,” he said without thinking.

Clark chuckled. “You sound like a friend of mine,” he said. “He’s from Gotham too, and God forbid you say anything against his precious city.”

“Well, it’s true,” Bruce said, feeling a sort of fierce protectiveness sweep over him as he thought of the spires and shadows of Gotham. My own emotion, or something implanted in me? No, this was truly his, it had to be. He could feel in the roots of his soul that loving Gotham could never be a lie.

He met Clark’s reflected eyes in the glass, somehow reluctant to look directly at him. His own reflection was a dark shadow of Bruce Wayne's face, all the false cheer drained from his face, leaving it stern and gloomy: the real him?

Clark didn't seem bothered by the apparition in the glass. "Gotham clearly creates people with strong character," he said.

Bruce's laugh scraped at his throat. "Strong character? Me? In case you haven't noticed, Bruce Wayne is the definition of weak: believing in no one, standing for nothing."

"That isn't true," Clark snapped. "Stop believing your own press and look at yourself. You're smart, brave, passionate--"

"--you don't know who I am," Bruce heard himself snarl back. "I don't even know who I am." Rattled at having spoken far too much of the truth, he turned away from Clark's puzzled expression. "I'm going to get some sleep," he said. "You can use the couch."

"All right," murmured Clark, and if there was a shade of disappointment to it, Bruce resolved to ignore it.




He was drowning in icy water, his lungs searing, his tailored suit dragging him down as if someone had filled the pockets with stones, with tarnished silver dollars, with pearls and with bullets, dragging him down into the depths, he was drowning, he was dead--

“Bruce! Wake up! Bruce!”

Someone was shaking his shoulders; he reached out and clung to them without thinking, gasping as if they had hauled him out of deep water in reality and not just a dream.

“Hey.” The voice was soothing and authoritative. “It’s just a dream. You’re just having a bad dream.” Kent’s voice, but--in his half-awake state there was something familiar about it, something different--

No, it was gone again, slipping away into the dark water of his own mind.

He realized that Clark’s arms were around him and he was being patted on the back, gently and repetitively. Bruce cleared his throat and pulled away, suddenly intensely conscious of his own scarred, whipcord-tough body beneath the silk pajamas. A body, he knew with sudden utter certainty, that found bodies like Clark Kent’s attractive. That found Clark Kent--earnest, brave, passionate--attractive.

“I’m awake now,” he said, to say something, to break the silence between them. Clark Kent was lying next to him, wrapped in a hotel robe that seemed to be having a hard time meeting across his surprisingly broad chest, and his mouth was dry and he had no idea at all what to say.

“So you are,” Clark said. He reached out and cupped Bruce’s face, clearly in no hurry to be leaving Bruce’s bed. “It looked like a bad nightmare. You said--”

He broke off, frowning, and Bruce realized his gaze had drifted downward, to where Bruce’s pajamas had hiked up in his struggle, leaving his abdomen bare. The breath hissed between Clark’s teeth as he looked at the jagged, half-healed scar cutting across Bruce’s skin. “How…” His gaze jolted to Bruce’s face, and his once-trusting eyes were narrowed in a sudden suspicion that wrenched strangely at Bruce’s heart. “How did you…”

Bruce would have given much to not have to continue the conversation. However, that did not mean that he was pleased when the door burst open and a man in a dapper suit filled the door--more than filled it, as a matter of fact. He had two slightly less large and much less dapper goons looming behind him, and all three had guns in their hands.

“Tobias Whale!” Clark jumped to his feet, seemingly unrattled by the fact that he was currently in a bathrobe. “What exactly has Mr. Wayne done to attract the attention of the head of the Metropolis 100?”

“Mr. Wayne?” Whale chuckled, smiling at Bruce as if they shared a rich joke. “He’s let you continue to think that, I see.” He gestured, and one of his henchmen stepped forward with handcuffs. “Hands out, Mr. Kent.”

Clark put his hands out in front of him with evident annoyance; the man wrenched them behind his back and snapped the handcuffs on. There was a brief spark of purple, and Clark looked surprised. Bruce saw him test the handcuffs and blink, and then he said in a flat voice: “Magic-infused handcuffs. Isn’t that overkill?”

Whale shrugged. “When you have staff arcanologists, it never hurts to add a few spells to the restraints.”

Clark gritted his teeth. "And what exactly did you mean, he lets me continue to think that?" he said.

Whale patted Bruce's cheek with one huge hand. The impact rocked his head to the side. "Oh Johnny, did you not tell the pretty reporter? I suppose I can't blame you." He smiled at Clark. "This here isn't Bruce Wayne. This is Johnny Denetto, and he works for me."

Clark gaped at him. "I...was going to tell you," Bruce said, misery crushing all emotion from his words, leaving them flat and lifeless.

"My boy Johnny met with an--unfortunate accident some time ago," smirked Whale, "And we took the opportunity to have him equipped with a new face. A face that would get him into some important places, a face that could write the 100 some very nice checks. Come now, Mr. Kent! You weren't even slightly surprised that a social parasite like Bruce Wayne could take out three trained assassins?"

"I was," said Clark. "But I believed his explanation." His eyes were cold and distant, and Bruce--Johnny? The name didn't feel right--almost wished he didn't know him well enough to see that was hiding a terrible hurt.

Whale was looking at Bruce with paternal disappointment. "Everything was going so smooth. But then you didn't check in after the hit--and even worse, you stopped your brothers from eliminating this annoying Mr. Kent!" He made a tsking sound. "Did you think I wouldn't find out about that? Did you think you could just take over Wayne's life? No one escapes the 100, Johnny."

"I am not Johnny Denetto," Bruce declared with as much emphasis as he could muster, as if he could somehow make it real by asserting it. "I'm Bruce Wayne, and I want no part of your disgusting organization. I'll never work for you or your kind."

The anger in Whale's face faded as he spoke, and by the end of his speech he looked more curious and concerned than enraged. "I think I see the problem," he said musingly. "I knew that the hypotherapy was experimental, but I didn't think--something went wrong, didn't it, and now you're stuck in Bruce Wayne's personality, huh? Poor Johnny!" He pursed his lips, a mocking moue of sympathy. "Well, we have a way out of that. See, you've got a subliminal trigger that will wipe this Wayne personality out and make you right as rain. Right as rain!" he repeated with relish.

Bruce felt icy terror wash through him, rooting him to the floor. "Don't say it," he whispered. "Please."

"Let him be!" Without any warning, Clark lunged forward at Whale. The handcuffs sparked violet and he stopped cold with a groan. "You can't do that," he pleaded. "It would be murder."

"Murder?" Whale put a crushing weight of contempt into the word. "You think deleting a file is murder? That's all this is, wiping some bad data." He looked at Clark and his smile was a jagged, cruel thing. "But it's cute you think murder might bother me for a second. Real cute."

He raised his gun, and Bruce sprang at him without any conscious thought at all--but before he could reach him, Whale fired.

A shattering sound, and the window crazed outward from the impact of the bullet. As the two goons twisted Bruce's arms behind his back, Whale picked up a chair and hurled it at the window, shattering it further. "Johnny," he said to Bruce, sounding almost cheerful, "The trigger's supposed to hurt quite a bit, and I'd rather not risk brain damage for one of my better assassins, so I'll give you one last chance. Get back in control of yourself, throw Mr. Kent out this window, and we'll talk. Got it?"

"Never." Bruce was shaking, but there was a fierce exhilaration beneath his fear. If resisting meant utter obliteration, let it come. Until his last synapse was snuffed out, he would be fighting people like Whale, protecting people like Kent. "I'll never do it."

Whale shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you." He cleared his throat, and Bruce--Bruce Wayne! He would cling to that name until the end--steeled himself. He was done begging, and there would be no bargaining. It was over. But he would end existence a free man.

"No!" Clark cried.

And at the same time, Whale said with solemn intensity, "The centipede emerges unscathed."

Bruce screwed his eyes shut, hanging on with all his strength to the few memories he had: a hot shower, the taste of good whiskey, Clark Kent's laugh.

I could have loved him, was his last thought. Then he waited for oblivion.

Nothing happened. Johnny Denetto didn't re-assert himself. He felt no loyalty to Tobias Whale or the 100. He was still himself--whoever that was.

He realized suddenly that he should pretend to be Denetto, but when he opened his eyes he knew that the relief on his face had given him away.

"I gotta hire me some new hypnotherapists," Whale growled. "Well, never mind."

With shocking speed for someone so large, Whale turned and seized Clark by the throat, then tossed him contemptuously out the sixtieth-story window.

"No!" Bruce hardly recognized his own voice as he wrenched free of the thugs, charged forward and threw himself out the window after him.

He hardly had time to realize what he had done; his body reacted on sheer reflex, grabbing at a shard of twisted steel to delay his fall for fractions of a second. Looking down, he realized with a shock that Clark was dangling nearby--the magic-infused handcuffs had caught on another piece of metal and now he was twisting helplessly far above the ground.

"Hang on! I'm coming!" Bruce yelled, just as the chunk of metal he was holding on to gave way with a tortured squeal. Clark's head snapped up and he stared at him in shock as Bruce let go and lunged to grab the handcuffs as well, leaving them both hanging from the cuffs, pressed almost face to face.

The bit of metal holding up the cuffs shrieked at the extra weight and started to bend.

"Goodbye, Johnny," said Whale's voice above them, and he was gone.

Clark--impossibly, unbelievably--started to laugh.

"What the--" Bruce started to scream, but Clark started talking very quickly, the words tumbling out.

"I know you, I know you," he gasped into Bruce's ear. "I recognized your voice then. And that scar--I knew it was familiar, of course it is, I saw you get it, we were fighting Gorilla Grodd, he had a broadsword and cut you across the stomach while you were protecting the Flash."

His voice was different, lower and deeper, full of certainty, and the sound of it seemed to set off all those firecrackers in Bruce's mind once more. Things coming together, things making sense--

"You're no assassin, Bruce Wayne," Clark said to him, "You're Batman.

"Yes," said Bruce, closing his eyes against the giddy rush of memory and relief. "Yes."

The metal fragment holding them up squealed again.

"Batman! Get me out of these damn handcuffs or we're both dead anyway!" Clark yelled. He said something else, something about flying, but Bruce was already getting his lockpicks from the sleeve of his bathrobe (where he always kept a spare pair, of course) and didn't listen. With a few deft twists the handcuffs came open and with a gasp of relief Clark pulled his hands from them. Bruce wrapped his free arm more tightly around Clark, bracing himself against the sudden weight: Can I swing us to safety? Is there another handhold I can find? It was three in the morning--no one was below, all of the windows were curtained. No help to be had there. Maybe if he could--

He was thinking so furiously that it was a moment before he realized that the strain on his arms had not increased in the slightest. In fact, something seemed to be buoying him up. It was like he was floating. It was like they were--

He met Clark Kent's eyes and found them shy and slightly embarrassed. Clark's arms tightened around him.

"I'm Batman," Bruce said.

Clark nodded.

"And you're Superman."

Clark nodded again.

"And we are currently floating above Metropolis in our bathrobes."

"That we are."

"Floating above Metropolis in our bathrobes and making out."

Clark's eyebrows went up. "Not yet."

"And whose fault is that?"

Clark opened his mouth--perhaps to apologize, perhaps to defend himself--and Bruce decided that was the best possible time to kiss him. Clark seemed to agree that it was the best possible time to be kissed, and for a while they were very much in harmony.

"We should probably get inside again before someone sees us," Bruce finally said with some reluctance, and Clark sighed and lifted them up through the shattered window and into the ransacked hotel room.

"I remember it all," Bruce said as Clark looked around at the mess in dismay. “He caught me walking near the cliff. He was good. He didn’t expect me to be better. It was--we went over the edge together.” A nightmare scrap of memory: his own face before him, contorted with fear as they fell. “I didn’t kill him.” He felt a wash of vast relief go over him; he closed his eyes and sighed.

“Of course you didn’t,” Clark said, surprised.

“You never mentioned you were so vulnerable to magic,” Bruce said.

“It’s not something I like to think about too much,” Clark said. “And those handcuffs were unusual--they blocked everything. No invulnerability, no flying, no strength. It was...unpleasant.” He shuddered.

“I wonder if I can find where they fell,” Bruce said. “It might be useful to study them, see if we can find a way around that weakness. After all, we’re going to be visiting Tobias Whale again in the very near future.” He paused. “If we’re going to work together more closely in the future, that is.”

He almost, but not quite, managed to keep the question from his voice.

“I’d...I’d like that,” said Clark. He sat down on the edge of the bed as if the admission had robbed him of the ability to stand, looking around the wreckage of the room in blank amazement. Then he started to laugh, a quiet and delighted chuckle. “I’ve imagined kissing Batman quite a few times, but I never thought our first kiss would happen when I was handcuffed and we were both in bathrobes.”

Bruce sat down next to him. “And the second kiss was surrounded by broken glass and smashed furniture in the moments before hotel security finally arrived.”

Clark looked at him with a mischievous smile. “Oh was it?”

“It was indeed,” said Bruce, and proceeded to confirm that fact.
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