mithen: (Coffee S/B)
mithen ([personal profile] mithen) wrote2016-07-15 09:17 pm
Entry tags:

A Week of Rain (Chapter 3)

A Week of Rain by mithen
Chapters: 3/?
Fandom: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Characters: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne
Additional Tags: Amnesia, Resurrection, Romance, Secret Identity, Guilt
Summary:Clark Kent seeks out Bruce Wayne when he is resurrected, but he has no memory of his time as Superman and no powers. Bruce has to deal with an unexpected visitor to his lake house–and his own grief, guilt, and attraction.

Chapter Three (2200 words):

Bruce woke to the sound of silverware clattering to the stone floor and Alfred’s voice: “Good heavens--”

Bruce threw on a bathrobe and charged out into the living room to find Alfred staring in shock at Clark Kent, who was sitting up on the sofa and rubbing his eyes. “Alfred,” he said hastily, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. This is Clark. He’s--” Alfred stared at him, his face pale, and Bruce finished limply, “--He’s alive.”

Alfred arched an eloquent eyebrow at Bruce, regaining his composure within the space of a breath. “Patently, sir,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” said Clark. “I didn’t mean to startle you…” He let the sentence trail off, looking at Bruce with a clear an introduction would be nice expression.

“Clark, this is Alfred Pennyworth,” said Bruce. “He was the butler for Wayne Manor.”

Clark laughed as he stood up. “Seriously? Your butler?

“For the Manor,” said Alfred, shaking his hand. “These days I’m more of a… personal assistant.”

Clark stretched, looking out at the lake, dimpled with rain. “Why don’t you live at the Manor? This place is gorgeous but a bit small.”

After all this time, he should be more prepared, but Clark’s words hit him like a blow to the stomach, like a roaring backdraft. Bruce looked out the window, hearing Alfred say “The Manor burned down some years ago, I’m afraid. We haven’t rebuilt after the… tragedy.”

“I’m so sorry,” Clark said, sounding chagrined. “I...don’t know if I knew that.”

“I’m sorry, sir?”

Bruce swung back around at Alfred’s startled voice, saying hastily: “Clark doesn’t remember...anything,” he said.

Alfred’s eyes widened. “Ah,” he said. He paused, as if weighing his words carefully. “Nothing?”

Bruce was keenly aware of Clark looking between their faces. “He woke up in a ditch in Kansas and made his way here. That’s all he knew. Not even his own name.”

“But he knew to come to you,” said Alfred.

“I knew he was important,” said Clark, and Alfred turned to look at him.

“That he is,” Alfred said. He cleared his throat. “As I was not informed of your guest, you’ll have to split breakfast between the two of you, I’m afraid. And Master Bruce, you have a meeting at eleven--”

“--Cancel it,” said Bruce. He looked at Alfred and amended: “Please.”

“Are you certain, sir?”

“Nothing is more important than Clark,” said Bruce.

Alfred frowned. “Nothing?” he said, and Bruce could hear in his voice all the weight of black silk and kevlar and humming electronics in the caves below.

“Nothing,” said Bruce. He turned his gaze to Clark, his hair still rumpled with sleep, wearing Bruce’s pajamas. “Your mother will be landing at ten thirty,” he said. “Shall we go to the airport to meet her?”

Clark looked startled, then wary. “I’d rather--” he said, then broke off as though he wasn’t sure what to say next. “I’d rather wait here, I think. If that’s okay.”

“Of course.”

Bruce looked at Alfred, who nodded. “I’ll pick her up.”

Clark wandered to the window, looking out at the lake, and Bruce moved to stand beside him. Part of his brain was whirring with thoughts, like a mad clockwork: Clark had been shivering last night, an involuntary action. Was there some way to test him and see if his powers were truly gone without him noticing? One couldn’t exactly stab him with a fork and see if it hurt him. Maybe ask him to lift something heavy? Push him off the deck and see if he hovered? Was it possible he had expended the last of his powers to escape from-- Bruce’s thoughts glitched, stuttered, and he forced himself to finish the sentence--from his grave? And was the memory loss due to psychological or physical trauma (both of which caused by Bruce himself, a vicious little voice reminded him)? There weren’t many scientific papers out there about the effects of extended periods of not-living on memory. And it’s possible Kryptonian memory worked entirely differently than human--

“It feels safe here,” Clark said under his breath.

Bruce stopped and took a breath. The chattering clockwork of his brain slowed, steadied. Nothing is more important than Clark. “I hope it is,” he said.

Bruce stood beside Clark and watched the rain fall endlessly into the lake like sheets of silk. The silence was filled with the white hiss of it, gentle as a lullaby, and for a moment, Bruce was simply there--not planning, not preparing, simply there with Clark.

Clark sipped the mud-green shake Alfred--Bruce’s butler, the thought still made him want to laugh--had brought and grimaced. “This tastes terrible,” he said. “I would have thought you’d have caviar and foie gras for breakfast.”

Bruce chuckled and snagged the shake from him, finishing it off with a loud and very un-classy slurp. “You’d be surprised how much energy it takes to be a parasite on society,” he said.

Clark made an exasperated noise. “I did some reading on you while I was looking for your address,” he said. “You’re no parasite.”

Bruce shrugged. “Semantics.”

“You do a lot of good.”

“You...don’t remember me,” said Bruce. “Or you wouldn’t say that.” His face was closed off again, his eyes distant.

Clark whirled and started opening drawers in the tiny kitchenette at random, peering into them. As Bruce stared, he stormed out of the kitchen and went into Bruce’s bedroom. “Hey,” Bruce said with a hint of alarm as Clark started pulling open drawers there as well. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m looking for your cat o’nine tails,” Clark said. The drawers were full of silks and linens, glossy and heavy; he resisted the urge to touch them. “Or your flogger.”

“My what?

“You seem to enjoy self-flagellation, so I figure there must be something.” Another drawer thrown open, this one full of delicately embroidered handkerchiefs. “Maybe a hairshirt?”

Behind him, Bruce’s voice: “I don’t like people going through my belongings.” His voice was cold, but was there the tiniest thread of amusement beneath it? Clark wanted to think so.

“I’m not ‘people,’” Clark said. “I’m apparently your friend, and I’ve forgotten you and want to know more about you, and I don’t mean listening to you whine about how you’re a bad person.” He leveled a finger at Bruce. “So cut the crap.”

Bruce’s mouth twitched. Then he made a quick gesture, as if clearing a slate. “All right,” he said. “Consider it cut. For now. What do you want to know about me?”

“Everything,” said Clark.

Bruce smiled. It was a slow smile, gentle and wry, and it turned his face from austerely handsome into something almost boyish. I’ve never seen him smile before, the thought came to Clark, though that was absurd--if they were friends, surely he had. Surely.

Never, his mind whispered.

“We probably don’t have time for everything,” said Bruce.

“...picked up some meditation techniques and some very nice Noritake china while I was there,” Bruce said. He broke off. “Am I boring you yet?”

“Not at all,” said Clark, and indeed, he didn’t look bored. He’d changed from the bathrobe into a pair of Bruce’s jeans and a polo shirt, both of which were just slightly too big for him. He leaned forward, clasping his hands together. “I wonder if I’ve been to Japan.”

“Uh.” Bruce hadn’t gotten to tracking down Clark’s actions during the time he’d been wandering the world; he’d barely finished chronicling his childhood. There had been so many details to record, so many facts to memorialize and keep forever.

To honor the dead.

Clark was looking at him wistfully, a question in his eyes. The honored, blessed, beloved dead, sitting here, scarred and breathing and beautiful, on his sofa.

“If you did, you never mentioned it to me,” Bruce said truthfully.

Clark looked like he was about to say more, but the sound of tires on gravel cut through the rain and he went completely still, his eyes going wide. Without thinking, Bruce reached out and caught Clark’s hands up in his, squeezing them. “You’ll be fine,” he whispered.

Clark nodded as if he were reassured, but he was very pale as he stood to meet his mother.

She spotted him through the windows as she hurried down the walkway under a black umbrella; Bruce knew the moment she saw him from the way her steps faltered and her hand went to her throat. Alfred quietly took her arm and helped her down the rain-slick path and to the door.

“Clark,” she said. She raised her hands, then dropped them. After a long, helpless moment, she put her hands to her face and started to cry.

“Oh.” Clark stepped forward and gathered her into his arms, burying his face in her hair. “Oh Ma, don’t cry.” He made a sudden sobbing noise and held her closer. “Your perfume,” he said. “It always reminded me of the lilac trees around the swing. Oh Ma, don’t cry. Please don’t cry.”

Bruce watched as they clung to each other. Then Clark lifted his head and met Bruce’s gaze.

“I remember,” he said.

Bruce staggered back a step, resisted the urge to turn and flee.

“I remember all the things you told me about last night, I remember them now,” Clark said in a breathless rush, his face alight with happiness. “I remember my home, I remember my school, I remember the Daily Planet, I remember…”

His words slowed and stopped as Alfred, Martha, and Bruce looked at him.

“I still don’t remember you,” he said, looking Bruce with something like anguish in his eyes.

There was a long beat of silence, filled with the sound of rain.

“Let’s,” Bruce said, then had to swallow and start again. “Let’s try and figure out precisely what you do and don’t remember.”

Martha’s face under the black umbrella was pale and set. She walked beside Bruce along the lake, the rain a curtain all around them.

“Nothing related to his powers, then,” she said. “Nothing related to being alien, to being Superman. He’s forgotten all of that.”

“We don’t know enough about Kryptonian physiology,” said Bruce. “How is his brain different from a human brain? Who knows what effect trauma of that kind could have on it? We don’t even know how he’s here,” he finished helplessly.

“Sunlight,” Martha said slowly, gazing out at the lake. “Sunlight always healed him.”

Bruce stared at her. “And it’s been raining the whole time. So you’re saying if we can get him into sunlight--all we have to do is get him into an airplane, or even just drive north, above the storm front, and--he should get his powers back, maybe his memories?”

“It seems possible,” said Martha. “If.” She put a hand on Bruce’s arm. “But maybe there’s no hurry. Maybe we could just...wait for the weather to change naturally.”

Bruce took a breath, let it out. Martha seemed to take his silence for disapproval, because she turned toward him, her eyes blazing.

“My son gave everything to protect this world. He gave his life and I buried his body in the ground! And what has this world ever given him back? Nothing but hatred and pain--aside from his few friends,” she added hastily. “Aside from you, for example.”

Bruce felt his breath stutter and stop for a moment. Somehow there had never seemed like a good time to mention that he had spent much of the last hours of Clark Kent’s life trying to do what Doomsday had succeeded at. Lois and Diana had held their tongues as well--he wondered how much of his distress had shown to the two women, what conclusions they had drawn. And now Martha Kent was including him among her son’s friends, when he had been anything, anything but.

Accomplice to his murder, his mind whispered bleakly. If he hadn’t inhaled lungfuls of Kryptonite gas… if he hadn’t been weakened…

“Please,” Martha whispered. “Is it so much to hope for, that he have a few days free of those terrible responsibilities, Bruce? Free from the memory of the people who died despite his efforts?” She looked out across the lake again. “That he have a few days of peace and quiet in the rain?”

Clark looked out to where his mother and Bruce were standing under black umbrellas, faces veiled by rain, on the verge of the lake. His mother put a hand on Bruce’s arm as if she were arguing with him, and Clark strained his ears to catch what they were saying, then stopped, feeling foolish. How could he expect to hear a conversation through reinforced glass walls, from so far away?

Bruce bowed his head and nodded, and Clark saw his mother’s shoulders slump. With relief or despair? He didn’t know.

“I want to remember him,” he whispered.

“Do you, sir?” Clark whirled to find Alfred Pennyworth behind him. “Master Bruce is...not an easy man.”

“To be friends with?”

Alfred seemed to consider. “Not an easy man in any way.” He shot Clark an oblique glance. “Have you considered the possibility that since he appears to be the one thing in your life you do not remember, perhaps there is a good reason for that?”

“He says we fought before I went missing. Do you know what the fight was about?”

Alfred didn’t move, but somehow seemed to become more remote. “I do.”

“But you won’t tell me.”

Alfred shook his head. “I will not.”

Bruce and Martha were coming back toward the house. Bruce took Martha’s arm as they walked, helping her down the path. He looked up and saw that Clark was watching them, and his eyes warmed, though he didn’t smile.

“I want to remember him,” Clark said.

“If I were to give you any advice, sir,” said Alfred abruptly, “It would be to consider this a chance to learn about Bruce Wayne anew--as if you did not know him at all. I would advise you to consider that a gift.”

“You think he’s worth getting to know,” Clark said with certainty.

Alfred nodded.

“Then I will.”

The lake house was quiet again except for the slow hiss of rain and the crackle of the fireplace. Alfred and Martha were gone--Bruce had offered to let Martha stay, but she had shaken her head with a small smile, saying “I know he’s all right, that’s the only thing that matters. Besides, the state fair is in two days and--”

“--no way are you letting Mrs. Lopez’s peach jam beat yours,” Clark finished for her. “Mrs. Lopez beat her out for the blue ribbon last year and she’s been plotting ever since,” Clark explained to Bruce, who just shook his head and laughed.

Martha had hugged Bruce with sudden fierceness and whispered “Thank you” against his shirt, then embraced Clark and kissed his forehead. “Be well. Be at peace for a little while,” she murmured, and then went out into the rain with Alfred.

“She said that like I wasn’t often at peace,” Clark said, looking into the fire.

“You were under a lot of stress. You...poured your heart into your work,” Bruce said, pouring what looked like very expensive whisky into a glass. “Speaking of which, should we contact…”

“They all think I’m dead, don’t they?” Clark said.

A pause. “Yes.”

“Until I remember more, I think I’d rather not tell them,” Clark said. “If I don’t remember you, who knows what other important things I don’t remember?”

Bruce looked away out the window. “I wasn’t that important.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I remembered you before my own mother, my own childhood home. Obviously you’re important.”

“Obviously,” Bruce murmured, with an edge of self-mockery to it. He took a sip of his whiskey and drummed his fingers uneasily on the counter, looking restless. He hadn’t offered Clark a drink; Clark assumed that meant he knew Clark didn’t drink. That… didn’t feel wrong, but it didn’t feel right somehow, either. Clark frowned.

“Did we spend a lot of time here?” he asked to take his mind off the discomfort, gesturing around the lake house.

“No,” Bruce said, taking another sip. “Not enough, at least.” He was looking at Clark, and there was something complex and painful behind his eyes. “We didn’t have enough time together.”

“Well, now we have all the time in the world,” Clark said. “Alfred told me I should get to know you all over again.”

“He did, did he.” It wasn’t quite a question and Bruce wasn’t smiling.

“But that’s not the same as remembering,” Clark said. “I want to remember.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to remember,” Bruce said, looking into his glass. “Maybe I was horrible to you and I hope you never find out.”

Clark laughed. “Considering you’ve basically told me you were horrible and we fought, you’re doing a terrible job of hiding it from me. Instead of being gloomy and moping around, shouldn’t you be trying to be charming and give me a better impression of you?”

Bruce’s eyebrows shot up. “Maybe I am trying to be charming,” Bruce said. “Maybe this is as charming as I get.”

Clark shook his head, smiling. “It’s more charming than you know, I think.”

Bruce’s eyes went oddly wary. “Does it hurt?” he asked, and Clark boggled at the non-sequitur until he realized he’d absent-mindedly touched the scar on his cheek.

“No,” he said, running his fingers over it again, feeling the smooth new skin there. “Did I have it before I disappeared?”

Bruce took a much longer sip of his whisky and shook his head slightly. “I’m sure you got it during the disaster. When you were trying to save people.”

“I don’t remember that at all, still,” Clark said. “I hope… I hope I managed to save someone.”

Bruce reached out and touched the scar, almost as if he couldn’t help himself. “You did,” he murmured as his cold fingers traced the line across Clark’s cheek. Then he pulled his hand back. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Clark said resisting the temptation to touch it again, to feel the place where Bruce’s fingers had been.

“Well,” Bruce said, draining his glass and putting it down with a thump, “I’m going to bed.”

“All right, then,” Clark said to his back as he disappeared into the bedroom. “Good night to you too, Prince Charming.”

Clark woke from a dreamless sleep at the sound of rain being thrown against the windows. The storm had picked up in the night. He looked around the room; the lights still glowing dimly, staving off whatever fears still hid in the shadows. He rolled over on the couch, punching the austere and expensive throw pillow, but he couldn’t fall back asleep.

He lay in the half-dark, remembering Bruce’s eyes as he touched Clark’s face.

There was a long, low growl of thunder that rolled across the lake. Then a sudden flash of light and a much louder crash.

And Clark heard Bruce start screaming in the other room.

Bruce had known it was going to be a bad night before he’d even closed his eyes. Three nights now without prowling the streets of Gotham, three nights without that hot rush of satisfaction and dark joy. Three nights in which evil had gone unchecked and unstopped. Because he couldn’t tear himself away from Clark Kent’s scarred face and gentle eyes.

On nights like this, even whisky wasn’t going to help.

He dreamed.

He bends over Superman’s bright body, rending it. Bruce stomps and hears ribs crackle beneath his feet. The air smells like rust and ozone.

“Why?” Clark chokes. “We could have been--”

Bruce slaps his face. Part of him is screaming, but he can’t make the dream stop. He’s going to keep going until Clark is limp and lifeless beneath him, and nothing is going to stop him this time. There’s blood at the corner of Clark’s mouth. Bruce leans forward and licks at it, wrapping his hands around Clark’s throat, intimate as a sigh. Clark is fighting back, but he’s weak, he’s faltering. Bruce slams his head against the floor and there’s a crash like the world is ending, and he can’t make it stop, he can’t make it stop--

“Bruce! Bruce!” Clark’s voice: not choking on blood but clarion-bright. Still half-caught in the dream, Bruce lashed out, seizing Clark’s shoulders, pivoting to throw him to the bed, straddling him, holding him down.


He blinked, the last remnants of the nightmare falling away. Clark’s face was inches from his, his eyes bright and clear, locked on Bruce’s.

“I remember this,” Clark whispered, and Bruce’s breath stopped. “I remember you--I remember us--”

Clark grabbed his shoulders and Bruce braced himself for the blow, but there was no time.

No time to brace himself at all before Clark kissed him with all the desperation of a clap of thunder.