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Masks, Capes, Cowls

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A shower was the right call, Bruce thinks as he swipes the towel over his hair. It was just what he needed to help wash away the feeling of being a Wayne, and a day it had been. Instead of thinking about never ending meetings he focuses inward. Meditation is something he knows will wash the last of his fake smile away. Alfred, currently cooking something that smells amazing in the kitchen, deserves the genuine him and not his public persona.

He steps from the bathroom and lazily pulls on his sweats, his towel half on his head to catch the water still dripping from his short hair. After the sweats comes a clean and pressed undershirt. He smoothes a hand over the soft fabric and decides against socks. For once there is nothing looming over his head. Gotham is quiet with the usual band of villains locked safely away in Arkham for the moment. Bruce Wayne has no evening events to embarrass himself at. For one rare evening, Bruce can just be Bruce. He can actually enjoy the meal Alfred cooks and not rush out the door for patrol.

His peaceful evening lasts until he steps from his bedroom. Alfred is frozen in place, staring at something outside with a polite frown. Bruce bristles and turns, mind already working through the possible threats that could conceivably make it past the sensors, only to realize why Alfred is motionless. A grin despite the situation fights itself onto his lips and he wipes it away with a sigh as he takes in the pitiful sight of Clark hovering above the patio in the usual Gotham drizzle of rain with a duffel bag in his hand.

“Sir?” Alfred defers to him quietly, even though they both know it is useless. Bruce feels the urge to slip back into Bruce Wayne but fights it as he moves to the front door. Without a sound it opens up, and he stands back to let Clark float inside. Instead of taking the cue, sad blue eyes meet his as Clark takes a breath Bruce is sure he doesn’t need.

“Lois broke up with me,” Clark laments from his floating position. The words fry something in Bruce’s brain. Lois? Clark? Not together? It hardly seems possible. He pushes away nightmares about Clark losing Lois and instead focuses on the sad blue eyes that seem glossy with tears. Can Clark cry? Is it the rain?

Bruce forces his questions from his mind, the most glaring of which is why Clark chose to come to him, and motions for his unintended houseguest to come inside. As the Kryptonian floats through the door he gives Alfred a puzzled look behind his back. Alfred offers a silent shrug before scowling at the water dripping from Clark all over the floor. He slowly lowers to the ground, his shoes making a pathetic squishing noise, and Bruce grimaces internally. Alfred might be restrained by etiquette to not kill Clark on the spot, but the mess will be quite the problem when they both come out of the shock of the unexpected presence.

“Here,” Bruce offers the towel he just used to dry himself. Clark somehow does not see it. He just… stands there. Dripping water like a leaky pipe. Bruce thinks of the expensive scotch in his study wistfully as he tries to pry the duffel bag from Clark’s iron grip.

“She just… said it was too much,” Clark whispers, eyes so lost and hurt. Bruce finally manages to get the bag free and sets it on top of his towel. It also makes a squishing sound.

“Did you fly through every cloud on your way here?” Bruce asks as he carefully looks over the distressed Kryptonian. He seems shell shocked but unharmed. The thought makes him bite back a snort. As if anything can harm Clark. The only substance on earth that has the capability of doing so is being meticulously collected by an eager Barry, a begrudging Arthur, and a neutral Victor.

“Master Wayne.” Alfred says nothing else but his tone Bruce knows well. That’s his stop-making-this-mess tone usually reserved for when Bruce is bleeding on the furniture. Feeling like a scolded child, Bruce grabs Clark’s arm and hauls him from the living room back towards his bedroom.

“I’ll get the water Alfred,” he calls over his shoulder. He silently thanks whatever part of Clark’s brain that is working for following his soft footfalls with stumbling steps.

They make it through the bedroom and into the attached bathroom in silence. Bruce grabs a dry towel from the hidden closet, keeping an eye on Clark who just stands there. Bruce is beyond out of his depth. Comfort is something no one seeks from him. No one in the world had ever before come to him with a personal problem like this. He is unsure of himself in a way he finds unsettling.

“Can you get a cold?” he asks softly as he approaches Clark’s side once again. Clark shakes his head. He raises a hand slowly and sets it against a rain-drenched cheek. He almost snatches his hand back from the chill, but Clark leans into the warmth. “Okay, let’s get you warmed up in the shower. Even if you can’t catch a cold you’re freezing.”

Clark nods but says nothing. Bruce’s frown deepens but he isn’t sure how to get him to open up, or even if he wants to. Emotions are… uncomfortable for him. He thinks back to holding a sobbing Mrs. Kent, how uncomfortable and uncertain he was with his every word, and decides that Clark opening up is not what he wants. Instead of trying he busies himself with starting the shower once again.

“Alright,” he sighs out as he straightens, “hop in until you’re a normal temperature for you.”

Silence greets his words. Silence and an unmoving Kryptonian. He thinks about giving a very abrupt Bruce Wayne throat clearing but dismisses the idea. The idea of being broken-hearted is foreign to him. Flings were all Bruce Wayne ever allowed to happen. There was no love. It was just a physical release for him in the form of sex. This is new territory for them both obviously, so he keeps Bruce Wayne at bay and continues to be Bruce.

“Clark,” he says the name softly. Blue eyes lock onto his and he flounders for what else to say.

“I didn’t know where else to go,” Clark whispers in a defeated voice. Bruce shrugs.

“Emotions aren’t my strong suit, but I’ve got a couch with your name on it for now until we get this sorted.” He means it to be blunt and dismissive, a sign that he doesn’t want to sit down and have a good cry about a failed relationship, but a faint hint of a smile comes to Clark’s lips. It twists something in Bruce’s chest so he decides to move away from the situation. “The shower’s hot, hop in. I’ll find you some dry clothes.”

He starts to leave but feels eyes on him. With a deep breath to steel himself he turns back to face the silent Kryptonian that is still somehow dripping on his floor. He twists his lips to not smirk and steps back into Clark’s space. With a wary breath he pulls the glasses off of the flawless face and sets them on the counter. He controls his hands enough to not shake when he takes the soft and obviously worn flannel shirt and pulls it from strong shoulders. Once that is off he swallows down the appreciative hum that wants to sound, realizing just how much he’s going to torture himself with this.

He tosses the flannel in the sink and grips the hem of the now see through white shirt, keeping his eyes and mind on his task. Clark might not need to warm up like a human would, but it’s all Bruce knows to do. He controls his breathing and his heart as he lifts the shirt up. It exposes the perfect body and he hopes the half skip of his heart at the sight goes unnoticed.

“You can manage the rest,” he says curtly as he spins on his heel and stalks back to his bedroom. He counts the seconds in his head, cursing himself for actually letting himself notice the body after everything he had done to Clark. The thought sobers him up. Even if he wants to run back in there and offer a very Bruce Wayne way to help him warm up, he is far from what Clark would want if he was even interested in men.

With that thought firmly in the front of his mind, he grabs out another pair of sweats for Clark. He flips through the drawer and finds an old sweatshirt that he had gotten at some Wayne fundraiser and adds that to the pile. He refuses to let himself think of anything other than a green glow against Clark’s cheek. He owes him this. He owes him far more than he can ever repay.

With the dry clothes set out he leaves his bedroom. Alfred gives him a curious face and he shrugs off the silent question. It earns him a look that screams this will be a conversation later and he nods once. There is a brief worry in the back of his mind that Alfred somehow knows what he holds tightly inside, but he smooths his expression and bends to grab the duffel bag.

“Is there anything in the dryer?” he asks. Alfred scoffs.

“As if I would leave anything-”

“Just checking,” he soothes as he makes his way there with the duffel. He unzips the worn out bag and frowns at the mess of clothes inside. Everything is wrinkled beyond recognition, bunched together in such a careless manner that he immediately dumps it all in the washing machine.

“Will he be alright?” Alfred asks as Bruce starts the machine.

“He better be.”

XxX

Clark sits on the floor of the shower, watching the steam rise and the water drops crash on the tile. Lois. Gone. It feels unreal. The pain in his chest is worse than what the Zod monster, aptly named Doomsday by the media, had ever done to him. He can’t think, can’t focus, and struggles to hold back his powers. The voice in his head that sounds just like Dad reminds him he needs to.

With a shake of his head he turns his thoughts inward. He’s at Bruce’s house, so he focuses. Alfred and Bruce are two steady heartbeats he can focus on. He decides which one is which by listening to how their bodies move. Alfred is slower, age and training making him audible enough to be polite. Bruce is… silent, aside from the steady heart. He focuses and can see through the wall.

Bruce is at the island in the kitchen, a towel dripping with water from his hands and into the sink. He watches Bruce knock back a glass of something amber colored and probably expensive enough to pay for his apartment for at least a month. Alfred says something and Bruce’s lips twitch into a grin, but there is no humor behind the gesture. His lips move and Clark focuses more.

“…not exactly my experience.” Bruce pours another glass, Alfred huffing about the splash that lands on the counter, and knocks it back once again.

“Sir-”

“I know. I’ve got everything under control.”

“Do you really? Or is that a lie for both of us?” Alfred asks in a wizened tone. Clark stops listening, instead letting himself focus back in on Bruce’s heartbeat. It’s a strong and steady beat, a little faster than resting, but powerful and sure. As it draws closer Clark curls in on himself to help keep his modesty in check.

“Clark?” Bruce asks carefully, opening the door slowly. Clark gulps and tries to form a sound. Those intense brown eyes find him, sitting in the shower, and trace over him. The steady heartbeat speeds up before slowing down dramatically. Bruce clears his throat and averts his gaze. “I’ve got everything that was in the duffel bag in the wash, you can borrow these until it’s all dry.”

“Thank you,” Clark manages, his taught manners pushing through his pain. Bruce waves away his words.

“Dinner’s ready, Alfred is already stressing about you liking it. Just come out when you’re dressed.” Bruce tosses the clean clothes onto the counter and immediately leaves. Clark frowns, realizing that means he needs to stand, and decides to lazily float to his feet.

Once the shower is off he dries himself and dresses slowly, aware that his borrowed pants are too long and the sweatshirt too wide. It seems odd to only notice now just how much broader than himself Bruce is, but he likes the comfort of the clothes. With that done he dries his hair, letting it fall however it wants, and steps from the bathroom without his glasses.

He isn’t sure what to expect in Bruce Wayne’s bedroom. Perhaps signs of a hastily dismissed fling? A lingering hint of something other than Bruce’s cologne in the air? All he sees is nothing. The room is picture perfect. The bed looks like it belongs on a magazine cover, like a display that no one has ever slept in. There’s nothing to even show that anyone lives there.

He steps away from the oddly picture perfect room and immediately realizes why that is. Alfred is setting the table for dinner, grumbling about the chair that Bruce has obviously brought in from another room that doesn’t match the sleek dining table with only space for two. Bruce just waves off his grumbling as he takes the odd chair and sits with perfect posture. Alfred huffs again as he pours perfectly even glasses of wine for the three of them, and gives Bruce a glare when he reaches for it.

“Ah, Master Kent,” Alfred greets him. Bruce turns and Clark would have to be robbed of all of his senses to miss the way those brown eyes sweep down his body. Odd. Why does that feel good in his heart despite the pain?

“I’m sorry I just dropped in,” he says as he approaches the table. He sits in the chair Bruce pats and immediately a plate is set before him. The smell hits him, filtering through the fog of pain, and he finds his stomach rumbling.

“It’s no trouble,” Alfred intones in a voice that somehow conveys that it usually would be. Bruce obviously picks up on it because the two share a look.

“We don’t get many visitors out here, and you’ve caught me with a rare evening off,” Bruce explains as he finally raises his wine glass. Clark watches him sip, unable to avert his gaze at all. He finds brown eyes watching him back as the wine glass is lowered. Bruce looks slightly bothered when he opens his mouth to speak. “I’m not sure why you came to me with this, I’m certainly not an expert in relationships.”

Clark twists his lips at the reminder that Bruce Wayne had given many gossip columnists material over the years. He gives a shrug and picks up his fork, twirling the pasta slowly. He is aware of the stare that Alfred levels at Bruce and wonders how many people can get away with that. He takes a bite, softly compliments the food, and Alfred beams.

“Gratitude, what a novel concept,” Alfred intones and Bruce snorts.

“I always compliment-”

“As you shovel it down your throat to go on patrol,” Alfred cuts him off and Clark chuckles. His chuckle earns him a look without heat from Bruce as the billionaire picks up his own fork.

“Well I’m not rushing tonight,” Bruce says smartly before he takes a painfully slow bite.

XxX

The rest of dinner passes in a blur of clinking forks and mumbles about how good it is. The food warms Clark’s stomach and makes him feel a little more alive. By the end of the meal he finds himself easily picking up on the silent communication between Alfred and Bruce. He can tell by a look that his presence is welcome, but that neither knows how to handle it, and they keep trying to push it on the other.

The second their plates are empty Alfred is on his feet to clear the table. It leaves Clark with the problem of wanting to help but knowing he would just get in the way, so he follows Bruce into the kitchen instead. The man stops and looks at him with those eyes that say so much he wishes he could decipher, before going to open the hidden hatch in the flooring. Clark’s eyes widen as Bruce motions for him to follow silently.

They walk down the stairs but Clark halts at the sight of the suit under glass. It is far too small to belong to Bruce, too small for the entirety of the Batman’s run. The shoulders are too narrow, nothing lines up with the broad bodied man he looks to questioningly. Bruce shuts his eyes, a somber expression overtaking his face, and Clark turns back to stare at the spray paint on the chest armor.

“His name was Dick Grayson,” Bruce says softly. Clark immediately swivels to stare at the lost look on Bruce’s face. “Son of the famous Flying Graysons, members of a traveling circus. The owner got on the wrong side of the Falcone family, so in retaliation they took out their best performers.

“I took him in,” Bruce continues with a shrug. “I… knew what that could do to a kid, and I knew he needed help to handle the pain. He took up the mantle of Robin, Batman’s sidekick. He loved it and he pushed me to be better.”

Clark stares as Bruce turns his eyes to the glass, his eyes shining with brilliant tears. This is important, a piece of history that he is certain very few people have been trusted with. He takes the last step down and Bruce scowls at a far away memory.

“Joker killed him. Dick went after him while I disarmed the bombs he set at the children’s hospital. He tortured the only son I’ve ever had.” Bruce’s voice breaks and Clark steps forward, a hand going to his shoulder. Those brown eyes lock onto his and Clark is lost on what to say. “He was my world Clark, and I got angry when he was murdered. That’s why Batman went dark. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I just saw my son’s lifeless body every time I blinked.

“When you died, I went to your mother’s home. I had no idea what to say, knowing what I had done to you-”

“Bruce-”

“But I figured it out,” Bruce says over him, “because I knew that look on her face. I told her about my son, and we mourned you. She said she didn’t know how to go on, it was like the world had ended for her, so I told her everything.”

Bruce grabs his face and Clark knows his eyes widen as the calloused hand touches his cheek. The intensity in the brown eyes is impossible to look away from, so he lets himself fall into their emotions, failing to read them and only managing to experience them washing over him. He gulps, wanting to offer thanks that someone was there for his ma, and also wanting to offer comfort. Instead of saying anything he just slides his own hand to Bruce’s cheek and lets the stubble bite into his fingers.

“I’ve never experienced a heartbreak Clark, so I can’t say what it feels like. If you feel like your world is gone though, you need to understand that you’re the best of us at finding a new world and calling it home,” Bruce whispers. It hits Clark like the nuclear weapon. He feels the sting of tears, understanding what Bruce means, and crashes them together in a hug he is careful to keep to the human understanding of bone crushing. Bruce tenses before he wraps his arms around Clark just as tightly.

XxX

It feels strange to be going to his bed at such an early time, but Bruce takes his shirt off and tosses it to the floor. There is nothing for him to do that night, no need for Batman in his city, so he pulls down the sheets and fluffs the pillow before laying down. He can feel the presence of Clark in the house as he shuts his eyes. It feels good to have someone else there, someone that is not Alfred, and he grins to himself in the dark.

“Bruce?” Clark’s voice has him sitting up. He looks at the awkwardly not making eye contact Kryptonian and wonders what he wants. Bruce thinks that perhaps he will open up now, but dismisses the thought as he sees Clark’s eyes land on the empty half of his bed.

Oh. Now that’s torture. He knows the right decision would be to dismiss him, tell him to grow up, but if anyone has mastered the art of self flagellation it’s Bruce. He lays back down and slaps the free side of his bed, trying to ignore the happy smile his gesture earns him. Clark pulls his own shirt off and lays down. Bruce tries his best to keep his heartbeat steady as the covers settle over them both.

“I just… didn’t like being alone out there,” Clark admits in the dark. Bruce shrugs it off.

“I get it.”

XxX

Alfred steps into the lake house, a confused frown on his face to see the blanket still neatly folded on the arm. Worry builds in his chest as he makes his way to Bruce’s bedroom, only to stop at the sight. His worry shifts, morphing into sympathy at the image before him. Never in his entire life has he witnessed Bruce cling to someone, and clinging he certainly is. He stares at the two men, fast asleep, hanging onto each other, and feels his sympathy for Bruce fade into hope when Clark opens his eyes and gives Bruce a faint smile.

“I’ll set out breakfast,” Alfred whispers, turning on his heel to be able to say he missed the horrified expression on Clark’s face.

XxXxXxXxX
Two months later

Clark comes back to the lake house in the evening, realizing that after rushing out to get away from the waking Bruce, and keeping himself busy every second with Superman duties to not think about how good it felt to be held by him, that he had left all of his clothes behind. He feels awkward as he lands on the patio, but the immediate smile on Alfred’s face soothes it away. He starts towards the door carefully, wondering if Bruce is home or elsewhere.

“Master Kent,” he greets as he opens the door. “Glad to see you once again, and this time quite dry. Please come in, Master Wayne is downstairs.”

“Oh I just…” he trails off as he realizes he has nowhere else to go. Lois kicked him out of their apartment the day she broke things off and he has been working day and night so he doesn’t have to think about the fact that he’s homeless. Getting his clothes seems useless. He has nowhere to put them and nowhere to stay. Alfred raises a questioning brow and he puts on a smile. “Can I go down there or-”

“He’d be delighted to see you I’m sure Master Kent,” Alfred says with a bow of his head.

“As delighted as Bruce can be?” Clark asks with a laugh. Alfred gives a hum as he steps inside. The butler leads him to the hatch and opens it, motioning for him to step down. Clark obliges and finds himself staring at Bruce, half out of his suit, glaring at the bay of monitors.

“I absolutely hate when Nygma breaks out,” Bruce growls.

“Nygma?” Clark asks. It makes Bruce whirl and he puts his hands up on reflex. “Hi.”

“I thought you were Alfred,” Bruce says, body immediately relaxing to a less attack-ready stance. Bruce’s eyes stay on his, only dropping when he shifts his feet and the cape swishes around him. Clark decides to break the remaining tension in the air between them and bows.

“What can I do for you Master Wayne?” he says in the most posh accent he can manage. Bruce snorts before losing the battle and laughing. Clark feels a rush of warmth at the sound. It feels like stepping into the sun when Bruce graces him with a genuine smile.

“You can never do that again,” the billionaire says as he turns back to the monitors. Clark takes that as an invitation to stay and steps closer.

“Nygma?” he asks as he spies the mugshot displayed in the corner of one of the monitors. Bruce grunts. “What’s his deal?”

“He’s incredibly smart and uses it for ridiculous things. Here’s his file,” Bruce growls as he pulls it up. Clark watches it jump to a spare monitor and reads the crimes committed by The Riddler. “He broke out of Arkham and I’m trying to catch him before he sets up some elaborate game for us to play.”

“Do you want me to help?” Clark asks, worried by the body count listed of known victims.

“I don’t quite understand you Clark,” Bruce says curtly. Clark frowns and looks at him. “You come here, I open up, you sleep in my bed, and then completely vanish for two months. That’s not how teams work.”

“I-” Clark starts to explain but Bruce spins to face him in the chair.

“Your mother called me, worried because she hadn’t heard from you and only knew you were okay by the damn news popping up with stories of who you’ve rescued. Don’t put me in that position, not again.”

“Ma called you?” Clark asks, an overwhelming sense of the time he lost while dead hitting him. He remembers that Bruce said he was there for her, but thinking of his ma calling the billionaire? Thinking of her, sitting in the house Bruce bought a bank to return, calling him as he walks around Wayne Industries? It hits him that so much life happened while he was dead.

“Yeah, after she called Lois and was told she doesn’t know where you are either. So,” Bruce says as he stands and Clark is momentarily caught off guard by the fact that Bruce is two inches taller than him, “I’m going to patrol and you’re going to call your mother. When you’re done Alfred will make sure you have something to eat.”

“I don’t want to impose-”

“Alfred loves guests and I never have any,” Bruce cuts him off. Clark twists his lips.

“I don’t have a phone-”

“You can use mine,” Bruce says and, surprisingly, just hands it over. “She’s under M Kent.”

Clark looks down at the sleek phone in his hand and back up at Bruce. The man gives him a pointed look before walking to the armor display. He frowns as he watches Bruce completely disappear in the batsuit. Even the way he stands changes. Once the cape and cowl are on Clark feels he is looking at someone completely different, until a small grin curls one side of the Bat’s mouth.

“Call your mother,” Batman orders and Clark nods. He watches him walk to the waiting Batmobile, amazed at the confidence in his stride. Despite the heavy boots and armor, the steps are near silent, even for his ears.

“If you need help just shout!” Clark calls out and Batman hops in the car.

“If I need help with Nygma,” Batman’s modulated voice calls out, “then it’s time to hang up the cowl.”

XxXxXx

Bruce comes up the stairs, hiding a wince at the bruise Nygma had gifted him with, not expecting to find Clark sitting on his couch in the clothes that he left behind. He stares, eyes openly moving over him, as Clark watches the fireplace crackle and pop. He thinks of everything he wants to say and ask. Did Clark call his mother? Did he eat? He pushes the questions from his mind and purposefully takes a heavy step. Clark startles on the couch, floating into the air with wide eyes, and Bruce grins.

“Hi,” he greets simply. Clark offers a shaky smile and settles back onto the couch.

“Alfred said that you wouldn’t eat when you got back, something about a shake in the fridge, and that I’m not to leave unless there’s an emergency,” Clark tells him like he’s reading off a mental list.

“Alfred’s the boss,” Bruce offers sagely. Clark chuckles with a nod. An awkward tension immediately fills the room and Bruce turns to grab his aforementioned shake from the fridge before it manifests into an emotional conversation.

“Can you… bring me back from the dead somehow?” Clark asks and Bruce chokes on his giant gulp of the nutrient packed green goop. He turns to find the Kryptonian hovering near the counter, blue eyes sad.

“I already did,” Bruce points out and Clark levels him a look.

“I mean me, not Superman.”

Oh. Now that’s a problem. He does the mental math of how long Clark has been officially dead, referencing that with known issues that a normal person could have to explain such an absence, and nods.

“I can make it work. You were trying to help people in the Doomsday fight, got injured, amnesia for awhile… I know there’s a few hospitals in Gotham that took patients in to help ease the load on Metropolis hospitals. I can easily hack their systems and put a record for you in the mix. Something triggers your memories, whatever it is has to be something that you wouldn’t have seen in the news coverage on the cleanup, and Clark Kent is back from the dead.”

“You can manage all that?” Clark asks doubtfully. Bruce snorts.

“I can manage that. You need to think of something that you can lie about triggering your memories that’ll be believable. Every person you see is going to ask, and you need to make sure that Lois is on the same page.”

“Oh,” Clark says, a frown coming to his lips. Bruce chuckles.

“That’s the problem with relationships,” he offers before draining the rest of the shake from the glass. He walks it to the sink and rinses it out, feeling blue eyes following him. “What?”

“You’ve really never been in a relationship?” Clark asks. “I mean, I’ve seen the tabloids and gossip columns but really? Never?”

“When people get too close, they see behind the mask,” Bruce explains as he dries his hands. He looks up from the slate gray towel and finds Clark frowning curiously.

“What mask?” Clark asks. Bruce lets himself smile. Clark’s eyes track over his face and he lets it slide into the practiced Bruce Wayne smile. Clark’s eyes widen and he lets the fake smile slide away.

“When the world sees you one way, it’s easier to hide what you really are. I step out of this house and I’m a vapid billionaire, more concerned about the vintage of the wine I’m being served than anything else. No one’s ever suspected me being Batman because the mask is so good.” Bruce bobs his head, forcing his eyes to move away from Clark’s, and juts his chin in the direction of the couch. “Do you want to crash there or…?”

XxXxXxXxX

Clark wakes up to the delightful aroma of bacon. It’s much less alarming to realize he’s tangled in Bruce’s arms once again, so he lets himself relax and look at the billionaire without worry. He takes in the start of fine lines around his eyes, the permanent scowl of his lips, and the touch of gray in his dark hair. Bruce is undeniably handsome. It’s not the first time Clark notices this, but it feels nice knowing that the Bruce Wayne he met all those months ago is more than what he pretended to be.

Bruce mumbles in his sleep, pulling Clark closer. Clark forces himself to stay relaxed, not wanting Bruce to wake up, and uses his new vantage point of being against the strong neck to let himself take stock of the body against his. The strength in his arms is undeniable, but he finds himself staring at an alarming amount of scars. Rough circles from bullets, long white lines of healed wounds, the man’s body tells the story of Batman’s life of crime fighting. He thinks of the models and socialites Bruce is always pictured with, wondering if they ever ask about them. How does a billionaire explain them away?

A low beep sounds and Clark feels Bruce wake up. His heartbeat jumps up, adrenaline pumping through his system, and the arms around him tighten before he is released. Clark misses the warmth immediately, but grunts as if the slight jostling woke him. Bruce slides away, their legs untangling with a lack of grace he tries not to smile at.

“Alfred?” Bruce calls, leaning over the side of the bed to grab his shirt.

“It would seem that young Mister Allen has decided to stop by. He’s currently trying to put out the fire on the deck,” Alfred calls back dryly. Bruce chuckles and Clark sits up.

“I’ll get the fire extinguisher,” Bruce says as he turns his head. Clark offers a half smile as those alarmingly perceptive brown eyes land on him. “You have about five minutes of him rambling and apologizing before he’s inside.”

“Do you want me to go?” Clark asks, oddly upset at the notion. Bruce shakes his head before sliding his shirt on.

“Absolutely not, I just don’t think you want Barry drawing the wrong conclusion.” Bruce stands from the bed and Clark feels himself blush as those brown eyes sweep over him. Bruce leaves the bedroom with a shake of his head he almost wants to call wistful and Clark super speeds grabbing his shirt and joining Alfred at the table.

“Ah Master Kent, I’m glad you stayed,” Alfred greets. Clark nods, unsure what to say to that. Bruce walks to the front door with a small fire extinguisher in his hands, throwing a look at Alfred over his shoulder. Alfred fires back with a look of his own.

“Why does that feel like you’re talking about me?” Clark asks as Alfred pushes a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice into his hand.

“Because we are Master Kent,” Alfred says with a smile playing at the corners of his lips. “I have known Master Wayne his whole life. I know every secret he thinks I am oblivious of. Watching you go from the threat in the sky to a person he wishes to protect? It’s a rare and beautiful thing.”

“I don’t need protection-” Clark starts to argue but is silenced by a look.

“Master Wayne pretends to not have emotions every waking moment of his life. He took you in when you looked like a drowned rat in the rain, has had the team scouring the Indian Ocean for those green rocks, and held you close for two nights now. Don’t mistake the obvious signs of concern and care from a man who doesn’t open himself up to anyone, lest you miss their meaning.” Alfred’s words make him want to ask for clarification, but Bruce comes back in with Barry excitedly talking at his heels.

“…fantastic! We should totally add some- Oh hi!” Barry excitedly exclaims as he sees Clark. Bruce just shakes his head and pushes the young man into a chair. “You’ve been busy! So have I! We’ve got boxes and boxes of those green rocks.”

“Eat,” Bruce commands as he sets a full plate down and Barry starts on it happily. Clark picks up a piece of bacon, watching as Bruce grabs a cup of coffee and drains it like an antidote to poison.

“Aren’t you eating?” Clark asks as Alfred sets another plate before Barry.

“Can’t,” Bruce grunts as he pours another cup of coffee into his mug. Clark frowns, a feeling of disappointment filling his chest. He watches Bruce down the second cup of coffee before heading back to the bedroom and attached bath, using his X-ray vision to keep an eye on him. Only when Bruce drops his sweatpants does he stop, hoping his blush isn’t obvious.

“He’s unusually talkative this morning,” Alfred intones with a pointed look. Clark just raises an eyebrow and pops the bacon into his mouth, wondering why the information warms his chest.

XxXxXxXxX

Bruce steps into the lake house, immediately seeing Clark at the stove with Alfred. He smiles before he can stop it from happening. Clark is stirring something on the stove as Alfred regales him with his stories from his time in the service. Clark laughs at whatever was just said, a wide smile on his lips that doesn’t fade when he sees Bruce walking towards them.

“That smells amazing Alfred,” he compliments. He tosses his phone on the counter, followed by his keys, and steps into the kitchen fully.

“It was Master Kent’s idea sir,” Alfred informs him. Bruce takes in the self conscious smile Clark ducks his head to hide and chuckles. He walks to the fridge and sets a gentle hand on Clark’s shoulder as he passes him. “How was your day sir?”

“I got the buyout of Lexcorp situated,” Bruce says as he opens the fridge and grabs the pitcher of filtered water. “When it goes through I’m combing through every file-”

“You bought Lexcorp?” Clark asks. Bruce meets his gaze as Alfred grabs the water to pour him a glass.

“Yeah,” he says with a nod. “It makes financial sense for Bruce Wayne and gives me unlimited access to all of the files, including anything in storage.”

Clark connects the dots, he can tell by the dawning look of horror. Bruce takes the glass from Alfred with a mumbled thanks and downs it. He knows better than to set it in Alfred’s busy kitchen so he moves to the counter where he tossed his phone and keys before setting it down.

“Anything we find is getting tested for safe disposal,” he continues as he catches Clark’s gaze once more, “if we can’t destroy it without releasing particles then I’m locking it away in the Wayne family vault.”

“Thank you Bruce,” Clark says softly. Bruce nods to show he heard him and turns on his heel to go shower.

XxX

When Bruce is out of the shower and in his sweats once more he finds Clark standing in his bedroom. He keeps his heartbeat steady as he watches Clark obviously struggle to word what he wants to say. Eventually he gives up and Bruce finds his space being invaded. Strong arms wrap around him and Bruce does his best not to sink into the hug. Clark buries his face in his neck and Bruce quickly goes through the mental list of toxins he’s made antidotes for to keep his body from reacting.

“I don’t know why you keep looking out for me, but thank you,” Clark mumbles against his skin and Bruce takes a steadying breath. Green glowing against sharp cheekbones. He hugs him closer before stepping back.

“I think you know. If it weren’t for me, maybe that fight wouldn’t have ended the way it did,” Bruce says, unable to let himself say that Clark died. Clark frowns and sets a hand on his cheek.

“I don’t blame you for that. Please believe me when I say that I don’t,” Clark implores. Bruce feels his breath catch and Clark tentatively steps closer. He grabs him and pulls him to his chest, crushing Clark against his body in a tight hug that only feels better when it’s returned.

They part when Alfred calls that dinner is ready, neither of them saying a word. Bruce expects an awkward tension between them, but Clark is smiling and talking with Alfred as if he’s always been there. It feels right, and while that notion would normally have Bruce running for the sanctuary of the cave, he finds himself smiling every time those blue eyes meet his.