mithen: (Hand on Shoulder S/B)
[personal profile] mithen
Title: His Untamed Heart
Pairing/Characters: Superman/Batman; Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/Spoilers: None
Fandom: DC Comics
Summary: When Bruce Wayne discovers that the male leads of a variety of romance novels bear an uncanny resemblance to him, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
Word Count: 3700
Note: Inspired by a prompt I saw ages ago, in which Clark uses Bruce as the main character in a novel; as things tend to do with these two, events got...a little out of hand.

“Sir? I think you might want to take a look at this.”

Bruce eyed the slender book in Alfred Pennyworth’s hand. On the cover brooded a man in a tattered shirt that revealed truly impressive abs. He was just about to sweep a raven-haired beauty into his arms. “Alfred, you’ve explained that you find reading romance novels a relaxing diversion, but I don’t think that I--”

“--I do think you’d be interested in the passage in question, sir.”

Raising an eyebrow, Bruce plucked the book out of his hands. Sleeping with Danger, by Mallory Capshaw. He glanced at the back: When debonair, handsome international spy Dale Danforth finds himself taken prisoner by a ruthless mastermind intent on taking over the world, he finds an ally in a surprising place--his enemy’s stunningly beautiful daughter! Can he trust her with his life? And can she trust him--with her heart?

“Page ten,” said Alfred.

The passage was underlined in pen: Dale paced the floor of his cell restlessly. Boredom was his greatest danger right now. The Iron Duke would let him wait here until he was going mad of it. So he needed to not be bored. Luckily, the Centre had trained him in techniques for just such an occasion. Carefully, Dale started to deconstruct one of his favorite songs in his head--backwards, from the end to the beginning, picking each note apart and labeling it. He was so lost in his reverie that he hardly realized a figure was outside his cell, gazing in at him with wide green eyes.

The story continued from there to the mutual seduction scene, but Bruce stopped and looked at Alfred. “My technique,” he said musingly.

“It’s even mentioned later that his song of choice is ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go,’ by the Clash,” said Alfred, and Bruce’s frown deepened at the name of one of his favorite bands--not Brucie Wayne’s favorite band, Brucie liked whatever was most popular at the moment, but his favorite band. Though “London Calling” was a much better song...

“Surely an odd coincidence?” he said, but Alfred shook his head.

“I wouldn’t have come to you if it were just the one thing, sir,” he said, and handed Bruce another novel--also by Mallory Capshaw, this one was titled His Only Obsession, and was about a workaholic CEO who eventually finds love in the arms of the secretary who had secretly loved him since they were children. Bruce felt his eyebrows raising as he read about “rugged, stoic, Wade Garrison” and his custom of only allowing himself ten minutes of hot water for a shower, followed by three minutes of mandatory cold.

“That’s...quite precise, isn’t it,” he said. The number of people who were aware of his showering habits was in the single digits. “Who is this Mallory Capshaw?”

“She appears to be a rising star in the romance novel world,” said Alfred. “She has published three novels this year already, and they’ve all done quite well. She garners great praise for her portrayal of the male leads especially. Her most recent novel is A League of His Own, about a steelworker who manages a Little League team of orphans.”

Bruce threw back his head and laughed. “Well, that’s unlikely to be based on me, at least.”

Alfred cleared his throat. “I think you would be surprised at not only how recognizable Ian Blake is, but at the descriptions of some of the plucky lads and lasses he is coaching to the championship.” He almost smiled at the look on Bruce’s face. “He is sometimes overly strict in his training techniques, but his rough and brusque ways hide a heart of gold that only Jessie Ross, local reporter, can truly see and appreciate.”

“Local reporter,” said Bruce, a suspicion starting to kindle in his brain. “This ‘Mallory Capshaw.’ She’s got three books published?”


“And you own all three?”

“Would you care to borrow them?” Alfred looked as if he were hiding a smile.

Bruce grimaced. “I suppose I’d better.”

They didn’t take long to read--they were, of course, utterly formulaic. And yet ‘Mallory Capshaw’ had a gift for a deft turn of phrase, a sparkling description that stayed with you. And indeed, there was no doubting that her male leads were one of her strong points--they were strong, complex, confident and capable.

They were also all some version of Bruce Wayne.

Oh, nothing that could be traced back to him in any way at all, and nothing too obvious: Wade Garrison had blazing red hair; Ian Blake was from a working-class background; Dale Danforth was British. And yet Bruce could see himself lurking in each one, like a reflection in a distorted mirror (distorted to make him look ridiculously heroic and romantic, he thought with annoyance). When Ian Blake reacted to his young star pitcher dislocating his arm, Bruce could see the echoes of his own reactions that time Dick had been hurt while on a mission with Batman and Superman. When Wade Garrison worked so hard that he fell asleep at his desk and sweet Savannah Holt tenderly covered him with a blanket against the cold, he remembered waking one time in the chilly cave covered with an afghan that he later learned was knitted by Ma Kent. And Dale Danforth’s description pretty much matched Bruce Wayne’s, albeit through a lens of ludicrousness: from his piercing wolf-blue eyes and winged eyebrows to his lean, scarred body that Scarlet cast surreptitious glances toward as she yearned to caress him, to bring her mouth to the marks of his bravery, to give him pleasure where he had only felt pain…

“Is the cave too warm, sir?” Bruce nearly jumped as Alfred’s voice came from right behind him. “I ask because you seem flushed.”

“I’m fine,” Bruce said, closing the book quickly.

“I remember Mr. Kent mentioning some time ago that he was working on a novel,” Alfred said.

“Sure, but I was thinking something a little more To Kill a Mockingbird and something a little less…”

“...To Kiss a Millionaire?” At Bruce’s helpless nod, Alfred said blandly, “That’s the next novel. It’s due out in a month. I believe it is about a mousy farm girl’s attempt to win the heart of a notorious playboy.”

Bruce scrubbed at his face with his hands. “Something’s going to have to be done.”

“By which I’m sure you mean that you’ll go speak to Mr. Kent about this tendency to write you into his torrid romance novels?”

Bruce peeked at Alfred from between his fingers and smiled like a little boy caught smuggling a frog into the classroom. “Now, what fun would that be? No, I think Bruce Wayne needs to make a little phone call to his old friend Alison Wu.”

Alfred appeared to suppress a sigh. “The Alison Wu who is currently chief editor at Columbine Romances, which used to be Harlequin Romances before they changed their name for obvious Gotham-related reasons?”

“That Alison Wu indeed,” said Bruce. “I think she owes her old friend a couple of favors--and I think ‘Mallory Capshaw’ is about to have some competition in the publishing world.”

It was easier than Bruce had expected to write a romance novel--it helped that there was a very strict formula to follow, and it helped even more than he had the best voice transcription software money could buy. He could dictate while he ran through his daily workout, or during boring stakeouts. It was oddly soothing, as a matter of fact, to structure ways to bring two lonely hearts together.

The result of his first attempt was Lynx-Eyed Lover, in which brilliant engineer Margaret Clayton met Rand Bowen, a handsome astronaut. Her brusque exterior hid a true heart, and when she found out the diffident Rand had been a lonely child who had gazed at the stars from a window in his family barn, she had been unable to resist his charms any longer. Rand’s love of the stars was utterly charming: his favorite constellation was Lynx, one of the hardest to find, and this fact became a leitmotif in the book for his elusive, shy nature.

Bruce smiled as he wrote that part up, remembering a conversation at the North Pole, watching the aurora borealis blaze and shimmer across the sky. Use me as a romantic lead, will you, Kent? Turnabout is fair play, my friend.

Clark blinked at the Amazon romance bestseller list: who exactly was this Rebecca Lennox, and why was she suddenly ranked above Mallory Capshaw? He was surprised at the twinge of possessive jealousy he felt--he had told himself when he started writing romance novels that it was “practice” for the serious novel he wanted to write, but apparently at some point he had become invested in Mallory Capshaw’s success. He glanced at the summary--then paused and blinked again, more alarmed this time. What the--

He quickly bought a digital edition and started reading.

By the time he reached the end (As she raised her lips to his, Margaret knew that now and forever, her heart would belong to her starry-eyed lover with his dreamer’s soul) he was laughing quietly to himself. Apparently a gauntlet had been thrown down.

Well, never let it be said Clark Kent backed down from a challenge.

“There appears to be a new Mallory Capshaw book out, sir.”

“Ah?” said Bruce, glancing at the slim volume in Alfred’s hand. “Have you read it yet?”

“I have skimmed it.” Alfred cleared his throat. “It is...impressive. It seems the indomitable Miss Capshaw is branching out into historical romance.”

Bruce looked at the title more closely. “The Dissolate Duke? Good grief.”

“It appears to be about the love of a humble peasant girl for the Duke of Westronia, a wastrel and rake. However, it turns out that he is actually merely pretending to be a scoundrel as a cover for the charity work that the King disapproves of. It...makes more sense within the book,” Alfred said almost apologetically, handing it over.

“Hm,” said Bruce, losing himself in the tale of the lowly Arabella and her seemingly-cruel and cold Duke Tristan without further delay. When he reached the passage where Arabella admired the sky-blue eyes of said Duke, Bruce snorted aloud; when she waxed eloquent about the kindness and generosity that were hidden beneath his careless exterior, he cleared his throat and felt uncomfortable. And when the Duke “crushed her to his heart” and Arabella “responded with all the pent-up yearning she had denied for so long,” Bruce was already planning out his next book.

Rebecca Lennox was ready to break into the Columbine Black Silk imprint.

“What are you reading, Clark?”

”Nothing!” Clark closed the tab on his reading app hastily as Lois came up behind him. “I mean, it’s about the newspaper biz. Work-related stuff. You know.”

It wasn’t exactly a lie, he reassured himself as he went back to reading Run the Risk by Rebecca Lennox. The male lead was a reporter, after all, caught in a web of intrigue revolving around wealthy young socialite Beth Winchester. But he was fairly certain most business reports about the state of the newspaper industry didn’t discuss the pros and cons of having tempestuous sex on one’s office desk after hours.

Beth traced the lean lines of Trey’s body with her eager fingers. She had always suspected that beneath the ill-fitting suits the reporter deliberately wore was the body of an Adonis, but to finally see it took her breath away. Her hands traveled over the planes and angles of his body, straying lower and lower until--

Trey took both of her wrists together in one strong hand, and Beth felt as though the breath had been wrenched from her body by desire. “It’s my turn now,” he growled, and reaching down, he--

Clark glanced around the office, feeling his cheeks burning, and put the book aside for later. “So that’s how you’re going to play it, Wayne,” he muttered. “Well, two can play that game.”

“With this one, sir, I’m afraid Miss Capshaw has lost me,” Alfred said somberly. “I have no trouble with historical romance, and greatly enjoy the Western-themed romances, but I must draw the line at supernatural themes. Call me old-fashioned, but--”

He harrumphed again as Bruce plucked the book from his hand, pivoted on his heel, and exited.

Guardian of the Shadows was--Bruce grimaced at the cover, which featured a smoldering Byronic hero and a sylphlike blonde. Did that male lead have fangs? He flipped the book over.

A vampire. Of course.

His eyebrows rose as he got to the first sex scene, which featured the lissom Alexa tied up and helpless as the enigmatic Dimitri approached her, his masterful eyes full of lustful light as they roamed up and down the sheer gown that heaved with her ragged breaths--

Good grief, we have achieved actual heaving bosoms, Bruce thought. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to groan--but he had to admit the ending, where Dimitri sacrificed himself to save Alexa and was in turn saved through the power of her love--well, it was moderately affecting.

”If ever I were to lose you,” breathed Alexa, “I would feel that my light had lost its shadow, that my day would have no tender night awaiting it. Stay with me, my love, and I will be yours for all eternity.”

“Somehow,” said Alfred from the other side of the cave, causing him to jump and wipe quickly at his eyes, “I always thought when you and Mr. Kent began your romance, you would exchange your love letters as actual letters, or perhaps as emails or something newfangled like this Snapchat that Master Tim has been telling me about.” He put a cup of tea down next to Bruce’s elbow. “That you would resort to writing entire novels about each other never crossed my mind.” He smiled slightly. “But then, you two never do anything by halves, do you?”

“Mmm,” said Bruce, whose attention had clearly wandered. “What do you think of Anya as a heroine’s name?”

Alfred tilted his head. “I think it’s lovely, sir. Strong yet vulnerable.”

“Good, good,” muttered Bruce.

There was a noticeable strain between Superman and Batman, the other members of the Justice League couldn’t help but note. It didn’t seem hostile, exactly, but there was a definite tension there.

“It’s like they’re both in on some huge joke, and they don’t want to talk about it around us,” said Flash.

(Unbeknownst to him, Silver-Edged Desire by Rebecca Lennox had come out just a week before, and Clark had read, aghast, about mortal woman Anya’s torrid love for the pale and perfect Prince of the Sidhe, Kalestin--featuring a palace made of crystal in a frozen wasteland with a layout quite familiar to Clark that very few “mortals” had ever seen).

“No, it’s more like they’re each pulling a practical joke on each other and they both think they’ve got the upper hand,” said Green Lantern.

(Even as he spoke, “Mallory Capshaw” was composing a noir thriller/romance about an austerely handsome detective with a scarred psyche--one that could only be healed by the tender love of the heroine--searching for a terrifying serial killer.)

“Well, I wish they’d just kiss and get it over with,” said Wonder Woman, causing everyone to blink at her.

“Sir, I don’t think----”

“--I just need you to read this one section, Alfred. I need to know if it works.”

Alfred’s expression suggested that he regretted ever telling Bruce that he should pick up a non-punching-evil hobby, but he sighed and looked at the screen and the file labeled Starstruck Love.

Crystal turned her head away so that Zarlin couldn’t see her tears. “I know it’s impossible,” she managed to murmur. “You must return to your planet, to serve in the Imperial Guard. What we had was beautiful--” Her voice broke at the understatement, “--but I know that we can never--never--”

She felt Zarlin’s warm fingers touch her face, turning her toward him like a flower toward the sun. “My dearest Crystal,” he said. “I could never go on without you now. There is room for two in my spaceship. Come with me and be my bond-mate forever.”

Crystal felt joy welling up within her, and as she turned her face up to meet his lips, she breathed her response in the beautiful language she was just starting to learn: Ak-narvin, Zarlin, gaoshhirin thyallt!”

“It is...not exactly Dickens, but it will do,” Alfred said. “Is Crystal’s vow of love in Kryptonian?”

Bruce snickered slightly. “It’s Kryptonian, yes. But what she actually says is--in rough translation--’Hey, you dork, maybe we should actually talk?’”

Alfred’s eyes narrowed. “Did you actually name the hero…”

“Yes, Zarlin basically means ‘dork’ in Kryptonian. I thought he’d get a kick out of that.”

“I’m surprised there’s a word for dork in Kryptonian.”

“There’s a word for dork in every language, Alfred.”

Of course, there was still the proofreading and printing to go through, but within a couple of days of Starstruck Love’s release, there was a knock at the Manor door.

“Mister Kent would like to know if you are free at the moment, or if you are busy composing your next…magnum opus.”

“Oh, I think I have time to see him,” Bruce said airily.

Minutes later, Alfred showed Clark Kent into the room. Clark was wearing a rather ill-fitting sweater and unflattering khakis. His glasses were smudged, and he seemed to be having a hard time meeting Bruce’s eyes.

“I didn’t know Alfred read romance novels,” he muttered. “He told me how you--you know,” he added, waving vaguely. “I’m sorry.”

He looked sheepish and ashamed, and Bruce realized currently he had the upper hand.

He wasn’t sure he liked the feeling, oddly enough.

“Truce?” he said.

Clark’s head came up and he met Bruce’s eyes through a shock of shaggy dark hair. “Truce,” he said after a moment’s hesitation. “I know I’ve always wanted to write a novel, and this seemed to be a good way to get practice writing. And then when I tried to create a romantic hero, well…” He broke off with a weak chuckle and rubbed at the back of his head. “The Columbine Guide said that the hero should be a powerful and wealthy alpha male with a sense of entitlement, and sometimes arrogance, but a hidden vulnerable side.” He shrugged. “Whatever I tried to write, it always ended up Secret agents and single fathers and detectives and millionaires--everyone I could imagine as a romantic lead was--” Bruce saw him swallow hard, “--they were all you.”

“Well, I believe I’ve proven you make a decent romantic lead myself,” said Bruce.

“Prince of the Faeries was kind of pushing it, don’t you think?” Clark’s smile was wry, but the chagrin was ebbing away.

“Oh come on, you actually live in a crystal palace.”

“I live in a ratty apartment.”

“Just like Trey Morris, intrepid reporter, yes. You can be both of them. You all of them.” Bruce cleared his throat, unnerved to find his voice had gotten husky.

Clark studied his face for a long moment. He started to take a step forward, then stalled. Started to reach out, then hesitated.

“These moments always go much more smoothly in a romance novel,” he said, wrinkling his nose.

Bruce took a breath and came closer, meeting him in the middle of the room. He put out a hand and rested it on Clark’s shoulder. “In a romance novel, I’d say something romantic and charming that gave closure to the whole story before kissing you. But I think I’m just going to skip to the--”

His words were cut off as Clark lurched forward with a clumsy urgency and kissed him.

Bruce had written a first kiss four times now (not counting rough drafts), and in none of them did a character’s knees give out from under them and send the couple staggering to the floor. In none of them did a character knock over an end table and send a lamp crashing to the ground. And in none of them did both characters get the giggles and end up laughing uncontrollably for a full twenty minutes, still kissing the whole time.

All things considered, Bruce decided, fiction had nothing on reality.

“I guess maybe it’s time to retire from the romance novel business,” Clark murmured later. He was lying next to Bruce on the Persian rug, idly playing with the buttons of Bruce’s shirt, slipping his fingers in between the gaps with an air of giddy exploration. “I think I’ve said my piece on the topic.”

“Maybe you just need to shift genres,” Bruce said.

“Hmm.” Clark kissed Bruce’s ear, nipping at the lobe. “Do you have any suggestions?”

As it turns out, Bruce did.

[Excerpt from a review of Portrait of an Angel on Goodreads]

The writing duo that goes by the pseudonym Jerome Malone has been making waves in the m/m erotic romance field, and their latest book will only raise their reputation higher into the stratosphere. Fans of the duo’s trademark vivid, sensual style will love this tale of a Renaissance painter and the mysterious, handsome man he asks to be his model for the archangel Michael in his latest masterpiece. The characters are engaging and charming, and the sex scenes are sizzling hot and filled with the delicious attention to detail we’ve come to expect from these writers. Malone’s output may be lower than many authors, but if the quality stays this high I don’t mind waiting six months for their next book to come out!
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