Feb. 20th, 2008 @ 12:37 am Fic: "stricken in the arms and mouth of a god", DCU (Millerverse), Bruce/Clark, Adult

Er, I wrote Millerverse Clark/Bruce. Eep! So yeah, a reaction to DKR and sheer denial of DKSB. ASBAR, don't get me started. *g*

There's just the sun and the sky and him, like he's the only reason it's all here. Then he ruins everything by talking.

This is the text from the full-page panel where, three issues into the mini-series, we see Clark for the first time. I know that Clark is supposed to represent the failed idea of Superman, a failed ideology. But here in a meadow (with butterflies!, horses!), he's the object of Bruce's gaze. And it's quite sad really, because this is the only bright moment, pure joy in the moment, not grim satisfaction or violent drive, that Bruce has the *entire* series. And if I take into account any of Miller's subsequent Batbooks, this is the only moment of honest bliss that Bruce *ever* has. And it's sexual, in a horribly romantic (big R and little r) sense, as all get-out. To him, Clark is utterly beautiful. They're clearly on the Manor grounds or close by. Bruce can come to this exact spot, any time, and yet he can't experience it, fully, *without* Clark. This moment, the way Bruce leers at Clark as he kneels down to stroke his dog to get sensual, tactile gratification, reeks of failed courtship, unrequited and unacknowledged desire.

So the culminating fight scene, to me, gets layered with sexual frustration, the urge to crush the object of desire, as much as it is about the clash of two icons, the hero co-opted by the State and the outside revolutionary. You're finally getting it, Clark. This is the end, for both of us. It's domestic murder-suicide as well as one man's ingenuity being equal to an overwhelming force. It's preconceived rejection, as well as possible self-loathing for having the desire in the first place, turned violent.

And all I can think is, dude, you never even *asked*. Never asked Clark to join you in any sense, politically or personally. Instead Bruce piles deliberate contempt, delights in the beating as inevitable, because he's afraid of the answer. Nobody can make you do anything you don't want to do, Clark, Bruce says in the meadow. Meaning of course, his work with the American government and the threat that Clark might have to bring Bruce in. But there's the echo of 'I can't make you love me' there too. So he manipulates, kicks the snot out of him, because that's what Bruce *can* do.

Also there's the possibility that Bruce may very well be wrong about some things.

And you know, I think Miller would be completely mortified at this reading of his text. *g*

Title: stricken in the arms and mouth of a god
Author: Romany
Fandom: DCU
Pairing: Bruce/Clark
Rating: Adult, NC-17
Length: 2611 words
Spoilers: Millerverse for DKR only, takes place one year after DKR
Warnings: slash, violence, Miller's Bruce, not Miller's Clark, dark.ish
Disclaimer: Not mine, seriously. All belongs to DC Comics.

Summary: Clark visits Bruce, years too soon, but Bruce is prepared. At least he thinks he is.

Bruce is used to dreams. He's had nightmares all his life. They change as the times change, as he changes to meet the needs of his city and now the world.

He's back in the meadow, hands on the reins of the horses. Clark turns his face to the sun. This time he doesn't speak, just holds his arm out, beckoning. Bruce steps forward, the dappled light, reins forgotten.

Now they're vaulting up, the earth a distant thing. Clark finally speaks. "Isn't it beautiful?"

It is and it isn't. Dark shapes blot the landscape, the wolf at the sun, blood. "No," he says.

Clark smiles, and then a breath in his ear, wind at his feet. "It can be," he whispers. "Let's change the world, Bruce."

Despair and relief. Finally. Bruce shifts in the gentle iron grip, turns his face to the warm breath...

And he wakes in his subterranean bedroom, utilitarian. He's at war, or at least preparing for it. He hasn't seen the sun in over a year. The sheet stinks of sweat.

Fucking Clark. Always fucking Clark.

The politicians must have telepaths now, empaths, sending him false visions. He's devised empathic shielding but obviously to little effect. He'll double it in the morning. He reaches underneath the sheet and takes care of his erection, fast pumps, thinking only of the world he intends to create, the army he's gathered to enforce it.

But it's the memory of Clark's blood, the heat and smell of it on his hands, that sends him over the edge, into the stark white of bliss.

The silent alarms blink in the cave. His sons, those beautiful boys, in position along the walls to greet the threat. Bruce has been ready, but not as prepared as he should be, years too soon. They had an agreement, a silent one, but still a fragile agreement. Of course the idiot would break it.

"Robin, you know what to do," Bruce hisses. But Robin doesn't answer.

"This yours, Bruce?" Clark Kent says, dangling Robin by the scruff of her costume. He's grinning, of course, dressed in one of his dashing civilian outfits, something to make those perverted old fools in Washington drool, their beautiful god toy.

Robin writhes in his grip, tries to kick loose. "Stop before you break your foot," Bruce grumbles. Pick your battles, girl. Didn't I teach you anything?

The boys, bat-painted faces, slink from the darkened walls, ready to strike. "Don't bother," Bruce says, waving them off.

Clark puts Robin down, pats her on the head patronizingly. She dashes over to Bruce's side. "Sweet kid," he says. "Homeschooling, I hope?"

"You could say that." Bruce puts a protective arm around her, his loyal Carrie. "You're early, Clark."

That infuriating grin only widens, all the dim light of the cave bending toward his gravity, illuminating him, a false beacon of hope in the dark, siren on the rock. "Yes," he says, "I guess I am."

They walk through a secure corridor, nothing truly important behind these steel doors. "Have you been eating right?" Clark asks. He looks the same twenty-eight he always has, reeks of vitality and a hint of cologne.

"Come to check on my health, have you?" Bruce just stops, shakes his head.

Clark stops as well, the insistent curl, that imperfect perfection, hanging just so on that smooth forehead. Of course it's smooth, unlined. He should be carrying the weight of the world on those Atlas shoulders, but the deserter, the failure, doesn't. Bruce does that; he carries them all to a better world, a finer one.

"Bruce, you were dead. Your heart didn't beat for three days. The human body can only take so much oxygen deprivation. The damage--"

Bruce holds up his hand. "Is done, Clark. Obviously, I survived it."

Clark's eyes narrow, and not with concern. "Not really," he says.

"Stop scanning me. Now." His back hurts and his knee aches. Bruce feels every inch of the fifty-six he's supposed to be, but there's strength yet, if only fueled by his will.

"When's the last time you've seen the sun?" Clark folds his arms, Superman. Idiot. Blue-eyed idiot.

"I take my vitamins. I'm not a sun-worshiper like you, Clark."

"Even you need the light, Bruce."

He's had enough of the small talk, useless, and the only thing Clark's good for besides his fists. "Cut the crap, Clark. What do your masters want?"

Clark bridles at that one. "I'm here on my own," he says. "As far as anyone's concerned, you're dead."

Bruce just snorts, opens a door. "Said like the lying loyal dog you are."

Clark grabs his shoulder, spins him around, hint of heat and red in his eye. "When have I ever lied to you?"

"You're nothing but a servant," Bruce says.

He can feel the cool rock against his back as Clark leans in, hands clenched in his jacket. "And you shouldn't be anyone's master."

Bruce shakes himself free. Clark allows it. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Your vision of a better world. That's not our job, Bruce. It never has been." Fluorescent glare off those ridiculous glasses, an unnecessary charade now.

Clark couldn't have figured that one out by himself. He only preserves the flawed world order, pushes the stalemate of nuclear power to political ends not his own, the mandate of the few and their prepared bunkers. He's here on a mission no matter what he says. Reconnaissance.

"We can talk in here," Bruce says, indicating the darkened door. They step inside, Clark closing it behind him.

When Clark reaches for the light, Bruce puts his hand in his pocket, cracks the lead foil. Such a small thing and deadly, Luthor's ring, an errant gift of trust from a fool. And Clark looks betrayed, shrinks even before Bruce's now-ringed fist lands in his face.

"You shouldn't have come here, Clark. Anyone with half a brain would know how this ends."

Clark stumbles, falls back on a bed. His voice a raspy thing now. "How does this end, Bruce?"

"The only way it can." Bruce wraps his hands around Clark's neck, straddling, the sweet memory of Clark broken and bloodied merging with the present reality. But Clark's not fighting back, doesn't even struggle, just looks up at Bruce with pained eyes. He whispers something, the words caught in his throat, trapped by Bruce's sure hands.

Gritting his teeth, Bruce leans down, relaxing that choke-hold slightly. "What?"

A hoarse whisper. "It's not rape if I'm willing," he says.

Bruce recoils, releasing that throat altogether. If he had it in him to laugh at anything, he would. "How could you possibly--?"

Clark just closes his eyes, breathes. "Is this your room?"

It is. The blanket and sheet sweat-stained and unchanged. But Bruce hadn't negotiated them here, only the privacy to re-establish order, the way things stand between them.

"Just...just put that away, Bruce. Please."

Bruce pockets the ring, rewraps the foil, knees still gripping Clark's waist. The transformation is slow and no less miraculous. Clark breathes easier, face now smooth and unlined, only a whisper of pain, a shadow lifting. "Thank you," he says, a small smile, an echo of that fabled poster boy grin. Clark takes one hand, reaching, to brush the side of Bruce's face.

And to his horror, Bruce leans into that touch.

Those bastards sent him for this. A gaggle of profilers in some office building must have worked overtime to come up with this terrible and secret deduction. A deduction that Bruce, for all his years of self-contemplation, could never face on his own.

Those bastards, sinister and cowardly bitches, all of them, plucked something startling from the skies, chaining it to the earth and their agenda. His creature of sunlight, diamond and pure. His. That Clark would sully himself, willingly touch the muck, the dirt and the grime...

Bruce's hands tremble, the betrayal deep, his voice cracked and rough, disgust and need. "You're a whore," he says. "Nothing but a goddamned whore."

Clark doesn't say anything, his hand still on Bruce's face.

Bruce reaches down, takes off those glasses, folds them and puts them on the nightstand. He looks into those amazing eyes, glimmers, a smooth surface and blue, implications of something deeper and knowing, but Bruce doesn't dare crack the surface.

"A goddamned beautiful whore," he says, leaning down, juxtaposition, the earth crashing down to meet the sky. Their lips meet and Clark opens his mouth, yielding. "Whore," Bruce whispers again before Clark can suck the breath out of him. He writhes, unable to rein in his disgust, bridle it, nerves singing, hands grasping. Images of this beautiful thing on his knees, on his back, how those fools must have made him practice for this, a steel butterfly pinned to a board, iridescent wings, squeeze his brain, burst from his mouth. "How many?" he spits out. "How many?"

Clark whispers, tongue in his ear, hands stroking his back. "No one, Bruce," he says. "You know that."

Bruce wants to pause, pull back, but he can't. He finds Clark's mouth again, kisses deep. A virginal sacrifice, that's what they offer him. They wouldn't feed him scraps to sway him. No, here's Clark on a silver plate, untouched, so that the only dirt smearing that perfection would be Bruce's own.

And his boys patrol the corridors, Carrie somewhere close, only an unlocked door away.

"They...they can't see me like this," Bruce says, back bowed, forehead on Clark's chest. A plea and broken. Clark's almost recovered from the initial assault, but there's still a pallid tinge to his skin, a sheen of sweat. Strategically ridiculous, relocation an insane thing, he says, "You need sun, Clark."

Suddenly, they're a blur through the corridors, fresh air and blinding, stinging light, whirl around him, Clark grasping his waist and Bruce a clinging thing. Bruce hasn't seen the sun in over a year, his last memory of it this very meadow. Now he's on his hands and knees, desperately trying not to retch into the grass. He pushes the nausea back, the vertigo, and laughs. The sheer power and Clark's only shown him a small portion, no one human could survive the full extent of it.

He falls back, hands on his face and breathes, the desire to touch, to grasp it, hold it for his own, floods in with the oxygen and just as desperate. "Fuck you, Clark," he says. For all of it. For failing him, for making him want this, for dragging his weakness into the light.

Now lying beside him, Clark says, "You can."

Bruce is on him. He might be old and waning, but he still trains, a physical peak, his recovery time and what he can withstand still remarkable. And Clark is golden and gleaming underneath him as Bruce's hands find buttons and belt, zippers. Soon they're nothing but skin, Clark warm and radiating.

Bruce has done this with women before, the mechanics just the same. He should turn Clark over, make him get on his knees, ride him like some magnificent horse. But he doesn't. He only says, soft, "Lift your hips and bring up your knees." He has to see him, the changing expression, as he enters, kiss that mouth, be kissed in return.

They have nothing, of course, to make any of this easy. Not that he can hurt Clark, not this way, at full power and recovered. But it's fitting that this should be difficult for Bruce, almost painful, the breaching, each thrust a hardship. And he is, driving deep and sudden, Clark just as yielding, arms and legs now wrapped around his back and stroking. One of those hands leaves him, a handprint, to stroke himself through this.

Clever, Clark. It's not rape if you're willing. Willing to arch underneath Bruce, earth at his back and filth and Clark shines through it all, gasps as if it's wonderful and passion, return.

"Clark," he says. "Oh, Jesus." He shudders, gives in, sinks.

One last lick to the skin, a stolen kiss, Bruce rolls away, sunlight through the bough. "You're pathetic," he says.

Clark just turns, looks at him, a mess and ravished and yet somehow untouched by any of it, unsullied and still pure. "You shouldn't say such things about yourself." He reaches out, brushes back a strand of Bruce's hair.

Of course, Clark would ruin it all by speaking. And Bruce contributes by responding.

"You're still working for them," he says.

Clark only says, "Yes." A moment passes, a breath and then two. "But Bruce, haven't you read any of my articles, my books?"

He had. All of them, even the underground one, unpublishable, passed from hand to hand, speaking of the beauty of the earth, how the true hero is man himself, the giants only servants. How man has to solve his own problems, how true change can only come from within, not without. All pretty words, vacuous and puerile.

"I'm the socialist," Clark says. "You're the totalitarian."

Bruce rolls into him, a useless fist. "Don't kid yourself, Clark. You sold out. Someone has to be on the outside."

Clark just looks up at him, nonplussed, eyes suddenly deeply intelligent and frightening, no barriers. "Then someone has to be on the inside."

Could he...? No, impossible. We could've had the world, Clark. Two giants astride it, the only ones capable, to make them stop, to make them listen. Your masters perverted you when the only one who should have molded you, gave you purpose, should have been me.

And isn't this what this is about? To get Bruce out into the open, under scrutiny, satellite photos that the monster still exists, the god exposing him?

We could've had the world, Clark. We still can. Fly up, right now, destroy it, their surveillance. Prove it.

Instead, Clark just leans up and kisses him. "Think about it," he says.

Bruce rises, finds his clothes. "Just get the hell out of here, Clark. And don't come back." He dresses, not looking, not daring to, a man can only look into the heart of the sun for so long.

"I'll see you next week," Clark says.

And Bruce has to turn at that, his muscles still aching, an underlying want surpassing will. Clark's fully clothed now, impeccable as always, only a blade of grass in his hair to shatter the illusion. Bruce reaches out, cursing himself for a damn fool, and plucks it away.

"Let me take you back," Clark says, arms outstretched and beckoning.

"I can walk," Bruce says. He knows exactly where he is, the way back, the way it should be.

Clark just smiles. "You've always been stubborn that way." But he doesn't lower his arms.

He's an idiot. But which of them now, Bruce doesn't know, for instead of turning away, walking away, he steps forward, the dappled light of his dreams, his nightmares.

Clark just sighs, relief and tremulous smile, as if he's coaxed a child from a burning building. He scoops Bruce into his arms. They fly up, the earth below. They float.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Clark says.

"No," Bruce says, because that's what he always says.

"It can be." They hover, the landscape far away, only them above it. "Let's change the world, Bruce."

He should wake up now, underground and buried, alone, his growing army a locked door away. He shifts, willing himself to surface, but he doesn't wake.

Finally. Clark shifts too and Bruce loses himself, stricken, in the arms and mouth of a god.

cross-posted to LJ (but minus meta notes)
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