mithen: (Swan Princess)
[personal profile] mithen
A Week of Rain by mithen
Chapters: 5/?
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 Five (2500 words):

There was no formal pathway from the lake house to the Manor, but the way was easy to find: a well-trodden trail through the grass, through groves of poplar trees shivering in the moonlight. A circuit Bruce had clearly walked many times. Clark imagined him striding along, coat flapping in the breeze on winter days, his shadow falling across the masses of tangled touch-me-nots in late summer. Clark glimpsed marble walls between the trees to the right: a mausoleum of some sort. He passed that by with a respectful nod and kept walking.

The Manor loomed against the starry sky like an enchanted castle in a fairy tale, ruined ramparts touched with silver. Clark pushed his way up the hill, thistles snatching at his borrowed clothing as if to warn him off, and found himself on the threshold at last.

Cinders crunched under his feet as he stepped across it and into the Manor.

Moonlight shone down through the shattered rafters; glass crunched under his feet. He was in the ruins of a great hall, a crumbling corpse still dressed with the remnants of finery: a corner of a charred Persian rug under his feet, tapestries with scorch marks emblazoned up them, the loose threads picked by birds to make their nests now. Had there been balls here? Had Bruce’s parents waltzed together under the chandelier that now leaned drunkenly, a scattering of crystal drops under it like frozen tears? The fire had been recent, Clark remembered: had Bruce had lovers here? Had he run up this charred staircase, the marble blackened with smoke, to usher someone to his bed? Clark put his hand on the balustrade, feeling the stone cold and unyielding under his hand, as if no human touch could ever warm it. How long had it been since laughter had rung through these halls? And what immolation had left it nothing but ash and cinders?

The silence of the Manor was different from the silence of the lake house. The lake house was empty in its stillness, but the Manor’s silence was full. Full of pain, full of grief and suffering and happy memories turned to ash, full of…

The sound of wings.

Clark whirled as the silence was--not broken, but somehow completed by the whisper of dozens of near-soundless wings. A cloud of bats whirred by his head, brushing his hair with a chaos of dark motion. He stopped still, waiting, unmoving, letting them pass around him like a river and pour upward through the crumbling roof into the sky. He looked up after them, feeling something tug at him imperiously, demanding. The sky, the stars, the wind--what was it he wanted?

He turned from the sweeping, gutted staircase with a sigh, letting his hand fall from the balustrade--and with no warning at all found himself face to face with a dark figure, crouched in the shattered window, nothing but a gleam of eyes within the darkness to tell Clark it was human at all.

The silence seemed to thicken, waiting, and Clark knew with a sudden lunatic certainty that if the figure were to speak, it would be with the voice of a forgotten nightmare.

Batman stared at the sight of Clark Kent at the foot of the Manor staircase, his eyes wide and his face pale, and felt a rush of ludicrous gratitude that the mask hid the shock in his own eyes.

“Who--” Clark started to say, and fell silent again.

You’re so young, the thought came to him so strongly that for a moment he thought he’d said it out loud. How had he not seen how young this man was, how had he not seen the uncertainty and earnestness in his eyes? He’d been blinded by his own assumptions, blinded by a costume and a cape into seeing a godling instead of a man struggling to use his power wisely.

Just as the awe and fear in Clark’s eyes at this moment revealed he was seeing a figment from a nightmare rather than a paranoid fool who didn’t know hope when it stood in front of him and tried to ask him for help.

“Wait--” Clark put out a hand, but Bruce didn’t pause to see if he would dare to step towards him (of course he would, even powerless and alone, of course he would confront his demon) before he was swinging onto the roof, into the third floor ruins, sure footed and certain, knowing each broken floorboard and shattered tile as well as he knew his own heart. Fleeing.

He waited until he saw, from one of the fractured windows, Clark Kent give up his search and push his way back through the weeds toward the lake house.

Then he slipped back into the ruins and through the door in the grandfather clock into the cave complex, back to the disguise and the mask that would give him a few more hours of peace with the man he had tried to murder.

It was no good using the secret door into the lake house; Clark was unlikely to accept Bruce appearing as if by magic in his own bedroom. So he drove the Bentley from the cave around and back to the lake house, feeling foolish and false, his heart hammering at the mere prospect of seeing Clark again. Damned fool. He made his way toward the lake house, letting his steps weave and sway, the picture of a tipsy philanthropist.

Clark met him at the door, still pale, and Bruce’s heart turned over at the sight of him. “Bruce,” he said, “There was something-- Someone in the ruins of the Manor.”

“In the what?” Bruce had had time to think about his response: he let shock and some level of reproach fill his voice at this trespass.

“I’m sorry,” said Clark, his glance falling. “I-- went to the Manor. It wasn't raining, and I wanted to see-- I’m sorry.”

“That’s--that’s all right,” Bruce said, as if mustering forgiveness. “It’s just… it’s condemned, you know? It’s dangerous.”

“There was someone there.” Clark’s hands waved in the air, tracing the shape. “Some kind of…man in black. Like a shadow.”

“Someone’s living in the Manor?” Bruce narrowed his eyes, alarmed.

“I don’t think anyone’s living there, no. It felt...empty. But there was someone there, Bruce, I swear it!”

“Hey, hey. I believe you.”

“He was familiar,” Clark said, and Bruce felt the world spin to a halt. “I...remember him from somewhere.”

Bruce forced a laugh. “How is that possible?”

“I think he was there when I went missing. In that time I don’t remember. He was wearing a cape and cowl. All in black.”

“Ah.” With that much of a description, there was no denying-- “I think you’ve spotted the elusive Batman, Clark.”

For a moment, Clark’s eyes were wary and uncertain. “What?”

“I know, it’s a silly name. An urban legend. A guy who dresses up as a bat and fights crime in Gotham. Some people say they’ve spotted him, and a lot of people said he was there on the day you went missing.”

“What the hell was he doing in Wayne Manor?”

Bruce shrugged. “It did burn down under suspicious circumstances. It’s possible he’s been trying to find out more about it. It’s just the kind of random thing a freak like that would get obsessed with,” Bruce said, letting bitterness seep into his voice.

“Have you ever run into him before?”

Bruce was suddenly very glad Alfred wasn’t there to raise an eyebrow at him. “I’ve never had the honor,” he said sarcastically.

“He was…” Clark shook his head. “Terrifying. Primal. Chthonic.” Bruce felt his eyebrows go up against his will. “Like…something from the underworld.”

“I know what chthonic means, thank you.”

Clark ignored his acerbic tone, his eyes far away. “He seemed like the only real thing in the world. Everything else...faded out. Even me.”

“Hey,” Bruce said, unnerved at the look in his eyes. “Hey, you’re real. We’re both real.” He squeezed Clark’s hands--when had he reached out and taken them in his? He didn’t remember.

Clark’s eyes focused on his and Bruce wanted to take a step back, but held his ground. “You make me feel real again,” Clark said. He lifted Bruce’s hands and pressed them to his heart. “This is real.”

None of their battle had hurt like this. Nothing Superman had ever done to Batman felt as agonizing as stepping away from Clark Kent felt to Bruce Wayne at that moment. “You don’t understand what you’re saying,” Bruce said.

Clark frowned. “I might not remember it, but I wanted you from the first moment I saw you, I know it.” He shook his head as if in wonder. “Bruce. I’ve been here for three days now. I’ve talked to you. I’ve heard the passion in your voice and seen the intelligence in your eyes. I’ve met the person who cares for you more than anyone else in the world. I’ve read your books.” He lifted his hands to take in the lake house, barren and gleaming in the dark. “And I’ve felt how lonely this place is. If this place is your heart, it’s empty. If the Manor is your heart, it’s broken. And I don’t believe either of those are true. No matter what our past is, whether we were friends or lovers, whether we’d quarreled or not, I’ve come to truly know you now, and your heart isn’t empty or broken, it’s full of passion and intensity and purpose, and I--” He faltered, looking, for a moment, very young and uncertain. Then he took a breath and went on: “and I love it, Bruce. I love y--”

“--You don’t,” Bruce said, and found himself taken aback at the pain in his own voice. “Clark, you have to believe me. Whatever there was between us before you--before you were gone, please believe me that you would have been appalled to hear what you’re saying right now. You’d be horrified to know you were claiming to love someone like me. And someday you’re going to get your memory back, and when that happens…” He heard his voice stagger to a halt for a second. “When that happens you’ll look at me and all that trust and hope in your eyes will be gone, and you’ll say, ‘Why did you lie to me? And why did you let me say those lies to you?’”

Clark laughed. “You idiot,” he said. “Every time you push me away, every time you insist I don’t know what I’m doing, you only prove even more that you’re a good man who actually cares about me. If you were half as horrible as you claim, you’d have grabbed the opportunity and gotten me into bed with you while I was still deluded.”

“Maybe I don’t want you,” Bruce said.

Clark reached out and hooked his fingers into Bruce’s collar. “Go ahead,” he said. “Tell me that you don’t want me.” He tugged slightly. “Tell me you don’t want to strip the clothes right off me and do delightfully obscene things to me, you don’t want to make me scream your name, you don’t want to get off on the sounds I’d make while I came. Tell me that.”

Bruce felt his throat move against Clark’s fingers as he swallowed. He looked into Clark’s avid eyes and couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

Clark let go of his shirt with such suddenness that Bruce stumbled backwards a step. “None of that is lies and you know it,” he said. “But that’s all right. Because whatever dance you need to do, Bruce, I’ll do it. Maybe you even believe some of the lies you’re telling yourself. Maybe you even believe you’re not in love with me.”

“I was not in love with you before you disappeared,” Bruce said, putting every shred of authenticity he could into it. It was even possible this was true, he told himself. It was hard to perfectly separate out all the different contradictory things he had felt that night. It was possible love hadn’t been one of them.

“Whatever dance you need, Bruce,” said Clark, and turned away.

There was a patter against the windows, abrupt as stones being thrown, but neither of them flinched. The rain had started again.

You're an investigative journalist. Figure it out. Clark wrapped the blanket more tightly around him on the couch and picked at the information he had: the jumble of hints and clues and evidence and memories he had access to. Trying to make it all fit together, to find the truth. That was what journalists were supposed to do. Bruce Wayne, Clark had concluded, was not a fundamentally truthful man. That didn’t mean he wasn’t honest or trustworthy. But Clark could tell that Bruce and the truth had a complicated relationship. Still, there were moments when something Clark said seemed to strike the truth in Bruce, like a tuning fork suddenly resonating. It was a start.

There was something between us--probably something physical--but he didn’t think it was love. After I went missing, he realized it was, but it was too late. Until I showed up at his door and forced him to face how he felt. Obviously they had parted on bad terms. Had Clark wanted more from their relationship than the sheerly physical? Had they argued?

Clark listened to the rain beat down, a long slow shimmer of sound, and realized he wasn’t sure he wanted to remember what had happened. He thought again about the touch of Bruce’s lips on his before he left that evening--tentative, uncertain. Gentle. Maybe it was for the best that they start again anew. Because he was going to start again with Bruce. He wasn’t going to give up. There’d be no regrets this time.

His last thought as he fell asleep was that he hadn’t followed up on the strange “Batman” in the ruins of the Manor.

Another mystery.

A strange, haunting wail jolted him awake in the pale gray of a drizzling misty morning. He lay on the couch, his heart hammering, until it came again and he realized: a loon. There were other birds singing just outside the windows, taking advantage of the lessening of the rain to court their mates, mark their territory.

Clark rose, rubbing at his eyes--then froze when he realized he could hear voices from Bruce’s bedroom.

A woman’s voice.

It was vibrant and authoritative, with a lilting accent to it that he couldn’t place. He caught the words “sentiment” and “duty.”

Then Bruce snapped, loud enough that Clark could actually hear him: “Diana, don’t lecture me about duty or responsibility--mine or anyone else’s. He gave his life to--”

Without thinking, goaded by the anguish he heard running under Bruce’s words, Clark came around the corner.

To find a woman sitting on Bruce’s bed as though she belonged there.


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October 2017

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