Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Take Me to the Church
So, somebody on my FB group posted that little bit of Justice League Batman...
And suggested (none too subtly) it might be time for some fanfic.
And since the world is scary, and I'm hoping everybody out there is safe and well, this will be my little gift to you, to maybe make the world not so awful for a while.
* * *
"Clark, you're going to wear a hole through the carpet."
He loved Diana, but she could be irritatingly pragmatic.
"I'll replace it," he muttered.
"At least this time you know--"
"Undercover," Clark rasped. "Yes. I know. Petty criminals, dirty bombs, idiot scumbag white supremacists. I remember the op."
Diana let out a sigh. "He's been under less than a week," she said patiently. "He's miked, remember?"
Clark remembered. He'd taken a week off of work, faked pictures of him and Selena Kyle in the Bahamas, and spent his spare time trying to take out scumbags who, if everything was good and right and just in the world, would have blown their own damned selves up without hurting any innocent people.
But if everything was good and right and just in the world, he wouldn't be working with a bunch of people who's distinguishing feature had been losing somebody they loved. Everybody, it seemed, except Clark.
Who'd almost lost Bruce about six-dozen times.
"I know he's miked," Clark muttered. He'd been on the com the night before, and had heard Bruce's sotto voce "Goodnight, Clark," whispered in a place where confessing to loving another man could get a dirty bomb shoved up your ass. "I also know we need to do this by the book. It can't be a Justice League save, or the human government will never get their shit together and stop this... this... vile bilious abomination it will gain popular momentum--"
"I don't get that," Diana interrupted. She sounded disgusted and irritated--out of character, but understandable.
"I'm at a loss," Clark agreed. "It's... " He grunted. "But then, we're all genetically enhanced humanoids who let ourselves be led by the dumbest human on planet earth."
"He's a good leader," Diana returned mildly.
"He's the best human I know." Clark slumped forward and rubbed the back of his neck.
"He's right here!" Batman growled over the intercom. "For Christ's sake, give me two hours and stop acting like I'm dead."
Hal and Barry both let out snorts behind them, like oh it was unheard of for anyone in the Justice League to have to pick up little pieces of Batman and sew him back together.
"Great," Clark snapped, out of patience. "I'll be patrolling."
"Uh-oh. Clark--uh, that's... I mean, weren't you going to take a day off when he was--"
But Clark was gone, leaving a sonic boom that shook the Eye-in-the-Sky as he flew for the heavens.
* * *
"He's where?" Bruce asked, nearly six hours later, from the BatCave.
"Patrolling," Diana told him. Her usual grim irony slipped away, and she managed to look compassionate. "He was really worried. You were sort of rough on him in front of us."
"He can't worry about me all the time!" Bruce snapped, but inside he was quailing. He felt bad. "I mean it was a simple undercover job--"
"Do you have any idea how nerve wracking it is?" she snapped back. "You're the only one of us who can really go do the whole undercover thing. You and Nightwing--and he hates us. So you disappear for weeks, the whole world, literally the world, Bruce, thinks you're getting laid, and he's... here. Listening for you to give an S.O.S., and we all know you'd have to be dead before you got to the first S." She sighed. "It's just... hard. And aren't you calling a little late?"
Bruce rubbed the back of his neck, which was raw from the scrubbing. "I, well, I sort of needed the full Silkwood," he confessed, embarrassed. "And some nuclear blood cleansing. And some other stuff Alfred had to mortgage his soul to get."
"You... you were...sick with radiation poisoning?" She stammered.
Oh God. "Not full blown," he rationalized.
"You... you asshole!"
And she shut down the com.
Bruce coughed through shredded lungs and checked his hand for blood. Nope. Thank God. That part was over with. He'd been sick as a dog by the time he'd rounded up the last of the thieves and could name the illegal activities that would get the white supremacists thrown in jail. Somebody hadn't put a lead wrapper on the bomb. As he'd laid in the infirmary, letting Alfred cleanse his blood from the inside out and hoping his hair didn't start falling in clubs, he'd consoled himself with the fact that most of the white nationalists would probably die of radiation poisoning within their first few months of prison.
No, he wasn't going to fund the same treatment for them--he was having Superman's platelets injected into his bloodstream, dammit, and nobody had Clark Kent inside them but Bruce Goddamned Wayne.
And when he'd come to, all he'd wanted was to tell Clark that he was fine. That Clark could come down now. They could have a mini-vacay in the BatCave. No sunshine, sure, but there was a lovely waterfall, an excellent view of Gotham from the ramparts, and a really amazing giant bed that took a lot of punishment and was ready for some more.
Bruce had missed him, dammit!
Missed him like he missed breathing without pain, actually. He coughed some more. Time for another injection.
Which hurt like a motherfucker, dammit.
Still, as Alfred finished pumping the concoction into his weary veins, he felt a little more human.
"Would you like me to call him, Sir?" he asked kindly.
Bruce felt absolutely wretched as he shook his head. "No, that's okay, Alfred. He'd miked. If he really cared, he'd come down."
"Well..." Alfred let out one of those sighs that told Bruce he wasn't adulting like most of the human race.
"Spit it out, Alfred." Bruce could not possibly feel any worse.
"Maybe you hurt his feelings."
Oh. Crap. Crap crap crap.
"Maybe if he knows you were sick and didn't call him, you hurt them more."
Oh no. This was so bad.
"I... uh... do you think I need, uh..."
"Yes, sir. You need to apologize." Alfred said it so gravely, Bruce wanted to smack him.
"I know how to apologize!" he snapped. Then he sighed. "But this needs to be bigger than an apology."
"Do we have a rocket to strap them to?" Bruce broke into a burst of coughing which scoured his lungs of the last of his sarcasm. "No. Something bigger."
"Very good sir."
Barry was the only one at Eye-in-the-Sky who would answer him. "We're all pissed at you now," he said cheerfully. "Radiation poisoning? And you didn't tell anyone?"
"I was embarrassed," Bruce told him grumpily. "I was afraid my hair might fall out."
"Did it?" Barry was clearly rooting for a yes on that one.
"NO!" He started to cough again. No blood this time! Many thanks for small mercies. "But I need to say I'm sorry."
"To the JL, or to your boyfriend who got his heart ripped out."
"Boyfriend first," Bruce admitted. "But if it's awesome enough, maybe the JL will forgive me too."
"Ooh... I like the way you think. What do you need me to do?"
For the first time since he'd left on the op, in the dead of night wearing hand-me-down jeans and a fuckton of prosthetics, Bruce felt some of the tension in his back lighten up.
"Just put me through to the whole station, and broadcast. Ear piece or not, he'll hear me if you do that."
Barry sounded like an orgasmic puppy. "Ooh... public humiliation. I'm a fan. Can I tape it?"
Bruce coughed some more. "Knock yourself out. Be ready in about twenty minutes--I need some narcotics, or I'm not going to get this done."
The narcotics helped. So did the slippery elm tea. Twenty minutes later, after his last treatment, some good drugs, and one more baking soda shower, he was ready. He sat at his console feeling loopy as pigeon, and began to sing...
My lover's got humor... he's the giggle at a funeral...
After the quiet beginning, Bruce began to throw himself into it. His voice was wrecked--he knew that--but he could usually hold pitch, and the roughness from being sick actually added a smoky edge to the intensely painful song.
Take me to church! He belted, clenching his fist, losing himself in the prayer, telling the entire world that he wanted his lover's absolution for being a complete dick.
He heard the whoosh at the second chorus, but knew his penance wouldn't be over if he quit now. He opened his eyes and stood up on shaky knees, his voice giving out on him as he finished the song, the grand romantic gesture, the prayer for forgiveness.
He opened his eyes after the gravel of the last note wore away, just to check Clark's expression, and Clark was there to catch him before his knees gave way.
"I'm sorry," he rasped, and in his ear he heard their friends at the JL cheering, right before Clark said, "Okay guys, he's paid enough. Coms off."
The cheering faded and Clark lifted him up so he could hold Bruce against his chest and hover.
"Radiation poisoning?" he chastised. "You didn't call me?"
"What if my hair fell out," Bruce mumbled. "God I missed you. Did I tell you I missed you? I wanted to say I missed you, but the whole goddamned world was listening in."
"I don't care if they hear," Clark told him, which was a stupid thing to say, because they both valued their privacy.
Bruce was exhausted. God, he'd so wanted to spend the next couple of days having amazing sex and making it up to Clark Kent for disappearing for a week. Instead, Clark was ghosting over most of Wayne manor, probably to take him to sleep.
"I'd marry you," he said with the last of his voice. "I'd totally take you to a church and marry you."
Clark chuckled softly in his ear. "Are you sure? I'm an immigrant, you know. Your country's not to fond--"
"Don't talk about that asshole," Bruce muttered. "He'd want to kill you because you're an immigrant, Green Lantern cause he's brown, Diana because she's a woman--"
"And an immigrant," Clark added dryly.
"And me because I'm bi. He can kiss my rich white ass."
"Not personally, I hope." Clark pulled down the covers and set him down, undressing him with care.
"Like I'd let that moron close enough to my ass to even smell my farts." Bruce buried his face in his hands. "Okay, so morphine. Really kicking in. That was not romantic. I was trying to tell you I would marry you if I could. That I loved you. That I'm sorry I hurt you by being an asshole."
"That you'll call me the next time you have so much as a hangnail," Clark warned him, swinging his legs up into bed, now that he was down to his skivvies.
"That I'd really like to see you naked!" Bruce complained. "I was gone for a week, dammit! And I practically proposed to you over the intercom to outer space! Don't I at least get to see you in your boxers?"
"Sure." Clark stripped down to his skivvies and slid into bed next to him. Bruce's skin hurt, and his joints, but the morphine was helping. He skated his hands over Clark's amazing chest and hummed.
"Thank you," he mumbled.
"For what?" Clark kissed his temple.
"For loving you?"
Bruce grunted. "You're as officious as Diana--you know that right?"
"I want you to know that I love you," Clark said stubbornly.
Bruce looked into his farm boy blue eyes, feeling suddenly lucid. "You'd marry me, right?" he asked. Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say yes.
Clark Kent--Superman--Man of Steel, Defender of Truth, Justice, and the Compassionate Way, swallowed audibly. "Of course I would. I feel like we're married already. I want to be with you for as long as I live."
Bruce sighed into his arms. "You'll have to settle. But good. I'd marry you as Bruce Wayne. You know that right? BatMan and SuperMan can't do it--but if I was just Bruce, and you were just Clark--"
"Take me to church," Clark sang softly. "I'd worship..." He hummed the song like a lullaby, and Bruce closed his eyes and found himself slipping away into a dream where it was him and Clark, in front of their friends, with flowers, and a sparkling ocean beyond the windows of a modern seaside church.
They were getting married.