mithen: (Hand on Shoulder S/B)
[personal profile] mithen
Sick Day (885 words) by mithen
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Batman (Movies - Nolan), Superman Returns (2006)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Characters: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth
Additional Tags: Illnesses, Fluff, Slice of Life
Series: Part 2 of Music of the Spheres (Note: wow, did I screw up the import of this series to AO3!  It should have been a series, but I made it all one story until now, ugh, and it's not fixable, ah well).
Summary:



Superman was working in the Fortress, the Northern Lights flickering above him, when his comlink chirped. “Clark,” said Bruce’s voice.

Clark dropped the crystal he was working on, hearing it ting on the floor. “What is it?” He was already in mid-air, ready to fly, his heart pounding at the distress in that one word. “Just tell me where to go, what’s the--”

“I need your help,” Bruce said plaintively.

“Of course! I’ll be right--”

“--It’s Alfred.”

Clark was over Canada by the time the first syllable of Alfred’s name was uttered, was in civilian clothes and in the Manor before the last consonant died away, bursting into the room where--thank God--he could still hear two heartbeats. “What is it?” he blurted out.

Alfred was lying in his bed, his eyes closed. Bruce was sitting by his side, holding his hand, every line of his body a taut scream of distress. He looked over as Clark came in, and Clark faltered at the panic in his eyes.

“Master Bruce,” Alfred said weakly, “It’s merely--” He coughed, and Bruce flinched. “It’s merely a cold, for heaven’s sake. A day of rest and I’ll be right as rain.”

“He’s never been this sick before,” Bruce said.

Alfred almost smiled. “My dear boy, that is simply not true. It hasn’t happened recently, I admit.”

“I’ve never seen you this sick.”

“That may well be true,” Alfred said. “But I’ve suffered the common cold before and I assure you, I will somehow manage to pull through.”

“What do you need me to do?”

Alfred patted Bruce’s hand. “Some orange juice would be welcome.”

“Right.” Bruce jumped to his feet. “Orange juice,” he blurted, and bolted from the room.

Clark sat down in the chair Bruce had just vacated. “Are you sure you’re all right? Bruce seems...worried.”

Alfred sighed. “You mean terrified.”

“Well, yes.” Clark’s own composure had been rather shaken at the sight of Bruce’s eyes, gone young and startled in that usually-stoic face. He reached out and touched Alfred’s forehead. “You are a bit hot.”

“I have a slight fever and some chest congestion,” Alfred said. “But I assure you that I will be perfectly well in no time.”

“Bruce says he’s never seen you this sick.”

Alfred actually chuckled ruefully. “That’s quite possible, I’m afraid, and my own fault. You may not have noticed, but Master Bruce...does not react well to even potential loss.”

“I had gotten that impression, yes,” Clark said, sharing a wry smile with him.

“As a result, I have worked through whatever minor illnesses and ailments have come my way rather than resting. Not the best system, perhaps, but I knew he would feel alone and afraid, and I hated to cause him distress. It was never anything beyond my endurance. But this time is different.”

Clark frowned. “Are you feeling so sick this time that you can’t--”

“--You misunderstand me,” Alfred said. “The difference is that this is the first time I’ve been ill since you entered Bruce’s life. I know you will be here for him. He will not feel alone with you here to reassure him. I trust you, and so I can rest easy.”

Clark’s vision blurred at the warmth in Alfred’s voice, the confidence and serenity. “Thank you, sir,” he managed, and wiped his eyes.

“Oh God.” Clark looked up to see Bruce standing in the door, horror on his face at the sight of Clark’s tears. The glass of orange juice slipped from his hand, and Clark jumped up to catch it before it could hit the floor. “Oh God,” Bruce repeated, “is it that bad?”

“No, no,” Clark said quickly. “Not at all.”

“I was just telling Clark that I was pleased you were in his life,” Alfred said.

Bruce did not look relieved. If anything, the thought of Alfred suddenly being so demonstrative seemed even more alarming.

“I swear, Bruce, I scanned his lungs and listened to his heart. It’s nothing severe.” Clark put the orange juice down on the nightstand and took Bruce’s hands in his. “I promise,” he said.

Bruce looked at him for a long moment, and slowly some of the lost look ebbed from his eyes. He took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said, and then again: “Okay.”

“I think the best thing to do right now would be to let Alfred get some sleep,” Clark said. Bruce grimaced, and Clark added, “I’ll listen to his heartbeat the whole time and if anything changes, I’ll let you know.”

“Stop hovering and let an old man get some sleep,” Alfred said huffily.

“Let’s go downstairs,” Clark said, steering Bruce back toward the door. “You know what we can do? I’ll teach you my mother’s famous chicken soup recipe. She makes it with egg noodles, and it has miraculous healing powers. You can chop the celery.”

Alfred listened to them go down the stairs, listened to Clark teasing Bruce about his lack of cooking skills. By the time they reached the foot of the stairs he could hear Bruce’s voice raised in protest, pointing out that he was perfectly capable of chopping celery, or anything else that might need chopping. He sounded annoyed and determined, the forlorn panic gone from his voice.

Alfred closed his eyes and relaxed, smiling.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-17 12:21 pm (UTC)
justincase: (Default)
From: [personal profile] justincase
Warm fuzzies this morning. 8-) thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-19 08:23 am (UTC)
meicdon13: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meicdon13
Why is this so cute? *clutches face*

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-23 11:35 am (UTC)
mekare: (bamboo bat)
From: [personal profile] mekare
*explodes into pink bat-shaped confetti*

This was LOVELY and exactly what I needed today. Poor Bruce, and poor Alfred trying to shield him. I am so glad Clark was there to take on some of the pressure Alfred's been shouldering alone all these years. My poor catastrophizing Bruce *pets him*.

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