New And Different
Title: New and Different
Disclaimer: We own nothing from DC Comics or the movie Justice League
Summary: Written for the 'discipline' square in Advent Holiday Bingo. Someone takes issue with Bruce's behaviour
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for the whole of the movie Justice League; D/s relationship; mentions of wounds being treated and self-destructive behaviour in wounds being left untreated
Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz
It was...strange to be alive again when he knew he was dead. Clark had experienced a lot of the strange and unusual since landing on Earth, but nothing had been quite like this. And now that the current threat to the planet was gone, part of him wanted to go back to Lois and his mother. The rest of him?
Well, that was why Clark was walking into Wayne Enterprises, hoping he'd catch Bruce before he had any meetings.
Bruce had managed to cancel all but one of his meetings; and that one was a lunch time meeting, so he was currently holed up in his office, ostensibly looking over files. In truth, he was attempting to get enough control mentally to ignore the pain from all the bruises he still had from his fight against the end of the world.
Clark thanked the receptionist who let him into the building. He at least had a good excuse with his job at the Daily Planet. He took the elevator to Bruce's floor and walked out, heading to his office and knocking lightly.
"Come in..." Bruce called out, expecting his secretary to come in with a bunch of papers to sign. He didn't even look up.
Clark opened the door and stepped into the office. "Hello, Bruce," he said, glancing around the room. Even though he wasn't here as a journalist, Bruce Wayne was still one of the most famous men in the city, even without being known as Batman.
Bruce glanced up quickly, barely managing to hide his surprise and concern. "Clark! Is everything alright?" He hadn't heard of anything going down, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Another possibility flitted through his mind and he didn't really give it credence, but asked anyway, "Did we schedule an interview and I forget?"
"No. And everything is all right," Clark added. "Do you have time to talk?" He watched Bruce, trying to see if the man was suffering more than bruises from the fight. And from Clark attacking him.
Bruce looked at his paperwork and sighed. Part of him wanted to say no. He never really had time for anything. But that wasn't really fair to Clark. "Yeah. I'll make time. How can I help?" He smiled faintly, barely hiding a wince as he stood.
"We didn't really have a chance to talk after I was brought back," Clark said quietly. "I wasn't really me then. I hope you know that I wouldn't have fought you...I wouldn't have hurt you...in my right mind."
Bruce gave Clark a startled look. "Yes. Of course. I knew you weren't fully back to yourself..."
"And yet you didn't defend yourself," Clark said.
Bruce blinked uncertainly, a slightly amused smile briefly crossing his face. "It wouldn't have done me much good..." he pointed out reasonably. "Besides. I needed to snap you back to yourself. My fighting you wouldn't have done that."
"You acted as if you were expendable." Even during the fight, where Clark had been attacking them, his super hearing had worked. He'd heard the conversations, even if he hadn't in fact reacted to anything being said. "Even now, you're here and working despite having been hurt during the battle."
Bruce gave Clark a look of confusion. "Compared to all of the rest of you, I was. I am. I don't bring anything to the group but money. And if I die, I've left everything to Alfred so he can continue helping you all with the money, so..." He shrugged.
Clark sighed and removed his glasses. He didn't need them anyway and with them off, he could step more easily into the persona of Superman; which he suspected he was going to need to handle this situation. "That isn't acceptable. Being willing to let me hurt you isn't acceptable."
Bruce's look of confusion only grew, although a hint of irritation bloomed as well. "It was what was needed to bring you back. As long as you were focused on me, you wouldn't take off before we could get you back. I'd hoped your anger at me would be enough to bring you back to yourself without bringing in Lois to see you not yourself. But I also knew seeing her would bring you back, so maybe I should have brought her in from the beginning. I don't regret that I did it, though. Nothing was done to me I didn't deserve. " He shrugged.
"No." Clark spoke immediately and without hesitation. "You didn't deserve that. If I hadn't come back until after I killed you...standing over your body...do you think I would have been able to come back from that?"
"It wouldn't have been your fault..." Bruce said, but it was obvious when he realized that he hadn't accounted for Clark reacting negatively to killing him if it had occurred. "I'm not important..."
"You are important." Looking at Bruce, Clark made a split-second decision. This attitude worried him. If there was another threat, it sounded like the man wouldn't worry about protecting himself; and Clark didn't want to lose anyone. He moved at super speed, knowing Bruce wouldn't have a chance to react. In a split second, he was round behind the desk, tugging Bruce up and out of the seat, taking his place, and then draping the man over his lap.
Bruce was already over Clark's knee and facing the floor before he realized what was going on. "No! You can't!" he growled, as softly as he could, not wanting to draw unwanted attention from his secretary. With his reputation as a playboy, she'd make assumptions that... well... actually… those assumptions would be preferable to her knowing the truth. Staying quiet didn't preclude him fighting as hard as possible and that was the exactly what he did.
Clark didn't waste any time in wrapping his arm around Bruce's waist, drawing him close against his stomach and then quickly divesting him of his pants and underwear. "I'm not going to stand and listen to you tell me all the reasons you are not an important, valued person." Lifting his hand, he brought it down in the first hard swat, carefully holding back his strength so he only used a mere fraction of the force he could.
Even if Clark wasn't using near the strength he had available, it was still hard. And damn if it didn't hurt enough to elicit a high-pitched whine from him. Bruce increased his efforts to get loose, ignoring the pain he caused himself because of putting pressure on healing bruises and wounds, not to mention strained muscle. "I never said I wasn't valued!" he protested, in a strained voice that unfortunately told Clark what he was doing would have an effect. "Just that you and Diana and the others..." he drew in a tight breath, "...are more valuable and needed!"
"I disagree." Clark tightened his grip on Bruce, wrapping an arm around his waist so he could hold him still. He could see the healing wounds and bruises covering Bruce and his jaw tightened at the physical evidence of what he was saying. He brought his hand down in a second and third swat, settling quickly into a pattern that went all the way down to Bruce's thighs before he began again from the top. "If you expect me to take a step back and watch you run down this self-destructive path, you don't know me very well."
"I do what's needed to keep innocents safe! But I'm only a man...weak and pathetic next to the strength of you and the others. No special abilities... just money and gadgets. Those can be replaced. You can't! You were needed and if I'm lost in the process of getting you back, then it's worth it!" Bruce spoke through gritted teeth; his eyes were glassy with unshed tears.
It was so unfair! He'd done what was needed to bring Clark back! He didn't regret it at all...but the other man was mad at him for it. Only instead of beating him like he would an opponent that he viewed as an equal, he was spanking him like a naughty child... definitely not an equal. And Bryce couldn't stop him, which only proved his lower, worthless status as far as he was concerned.
"No," Clark said, again, finishing the second circuit and beginning a third, going a fraction harder and a little bit faster. "Money and gadgets? They can be replaced, yes. You can't be."
Bruce was about to argue further; about how if there was a choice of keeping Clark and the others or himself, then he was least valuable...sometimes sacrifices had to be made, but he didn't get the chance. His office door opened and Loretta, his grandmotherly administrative assistant walked in.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your interview, Mr. Wayne, but..." Her voice trailed off as the tableau in front of her registered. Bruce Wayne draped over Clark Kent's lap, bare as the day he was born, bright rosy red bottom in prime position for Mr. Kent's hand (which was raised high, and had only paused due to her entrance) to smack. The glassy, pained eyes and stubbornly tensed jaw of her employer indicated it had been going on for long enough to have been having some type of effect. Of course, the frustrated look on Clark's face also indicated that it had been going on a while; and that it might continue on a bit longer once she was gone. Swallowing hard, she straightened her shoulders. She hadn't thought her boss into this type of play, but there was a first time for everything and if it kept him safe and healthy otherwise, she'd look the other way. "I'll cancel all appointments for today and make sure you aren't interrupted," she said clearly. "Mr. Wayne has been feeling unwell the last two days. He thinks we don't notice, but we do. Will you be taking him home after? I can cancel tomorrow's appointments as well, if needed."
Bruce let his head fall in mortification. He turned away so he wasn't facing anyone. She was talking to Clark...asking him what she should do and what Bruce would be doing as if Clarke was in charge! She thought that...that...that Clark was his Dom and that he was...that he was a naughty sub who needed to be disciplined. She didn't say as much, but he could see on her face and hear in her tone that she believed that. He didn't even know where to begin to clear up the misconception. Especially when at this moment in time, that's pretty much exactly what they were, even if Bruce had never agreed to such an arrangement. Clark was spanking him because he felt Bruce needed to be disciplined or to learn something. Bruce groaned, the sound soft but audible in the room.
A bit taken aback by both the entrance and the assumption, Clark nevertheless decided not to correct the woman. It wasn't as if he could explain the full details in any case...and from the way Bruce had acted as if he meant nothing, he was beginning to think this spanking wasn't going to be a one-time thing.
Lowering his hand to rest on Bruce's lower back, Clark nodded and smiled at the woman in a warm, friendly manner. "Yes. When we're done here, I will be taking him home. I would appreciate him having at least tomorrow to rest." He thought Bruce could do with more, but he'd fight one battle at a time.
Loretta paused. "Mr. Wayne actually does not have any meetings the rest of the week after I cancel tomorrow's meetings. If you feel he needs to stay home longer..."
"Loretta!" Bruce protested. It was bad enough she'd offered to cancel his meetings without a by-your-leave to him...but to tell Clark his entire schedule, enabling the Kryptonian to take complete control, felt like rebellion of the worst kind. "You will not cancel those meetings!" he ordered attempting to regain some control. He'd fight to get off Clark's lap if he didn't know he wasn't strong enough to break free...and if he somehow did, he'd be exposing himself to Loretta.
Loretta pursed her lips. She didn't know a lot about alternative lifestyles and activities, but it seemed it was a very naughty thing to do when someone in Mr. Wayne's position refused to obey the orders of the one in charge like he'd just done to Mr. Kent. "I have a hairbrush in my desk drawer if you'd like, Mr. Kent..." she offered, with a smile to Clark. She might have laughed at the horrified and flabbergasted look on Bruce's face if she hadn't been serious in her offer.
"I don't think that's necessary," Clark replied, knowing that if he needed to be more severe, he could increase the force of his hand enough without risking lasting damage or turning the spanking into something impersonal. "But as for staying home longer...that will be necessary, I think."
"I'll take care of it then, sir. Thank you." Her smile was grateful and then she turned a fond look toward her boss. "Take the time to get better, sir. Your people are worried about you," she admonished, before quickly leaving the room and closing the door with a definitive click.
Bruce swallowed hard and stared at the door. "You know what she thinks..." he said faintly.
"It doesn't matter what she thinks," Clark stated. "And all she did was make it easier for me to make sure you take the time off to rest. Even if she might not know the details, she's clearly as worried about you as I am."
"There's no need to worry about me! I'm fine!" Bruce argued, managing to keep his voice low enough that it wouldn't carry through the closed door. He wasn't entirely certain Loretta wouldn't bring Clark the brush anyway.
Clark placed his hand on one of the bruises on Bruce's lower back; not to hurt, but to draw his attention to it. "You're still hurt from the battle. With me and with Steppenwolf. I saw you were in pain when I came up here. And I can see the evidence of those wounds. You are not 'fine'. And if I really was your Dom, I'd wash your mouth out with soap for lying to me," he added.
Bruce huffed at the reasonable tone and accurate and logical explanation, muttering, "I'd like to see you try..." under his breath, forgetting Clark would be able to hear it clearly.
Clark moved his hand lower, to Bruce's backside once more, though he didn't immediately start swatting again. "Do you understand why I'm doing this?" He could probably keep swatting and Bruce would have no choice but to take it. But if Clark wanted to actually get through to him, he had to use more than just spanking.
Bruce wanted to be disagreeable and say he had no clue, but he also wanted this whole ordeal to be over. Maybe if he played nice and answered Clark's questions with answers Clarke wanted to hear, he'd be let up. "Because I risked my life to bring you back and you don't like it..." was what he said.
Clark lifted his hand, landing a firm swat on each of Bruce's sit spots. "Because you're not expendable. There isn't an excuse or reason that would make it acceptable for you to risk your life. I'm doing this because, even if you don't care whether you live or die, I do."
"I'm fine!" Bruce ground out through clenched teeth. The spanking hurt worse after several minutes of his bottom being allowed to 'rest'. "I am expendable, if it's a choice between me and the rest of you...but it doesn't matter now because I'm fine! The bruises don't matter..."
"I wouldn't make that choice. And none of the others would either." Clark began another circuit of swats, using a bit more force. "And I won't just stand by and let you risk your life because you think you aren't as important. Or as needed. Because you are."
"Clark..." Bruce was surprised to find tears sliding down his face. Only Clark's strong, immovable grip kept him from wriggling and thrashing in an attempt to get his bottom away from the by-now very painful swats. He supposed it was better that way, though. Clark hadn't been wrong about him lying about his injuries. "...Okay fine! You win! I'm not expendable and I'm just as important! Will you please stop this nonsense now and let me up?!" He was all but begging. He could handle pain just fine, but pain mixed with emotional baggage? Not so much.
"It's not enough just to say the words," Clark said. "You're suffering from injuries you've sustained because you've chosen to believe something that isn't in fact true. I know you're only saying what you think I want to hear." He moved his hand a bit lower, focusing on Bruce's sit spots and thighs. "But here's my promise: whether I'm with you or not, the next time you treat yourself like you don't matter, there will be a repeat of this."
Bruce closed his eyes tight against the tears he couldn't stop and let out a soft moan. "That...that's not fair! If you aren't with me then it shouldn't count against me!" He attempted to argue, but it was difficult, because by this point, it hurt badly enough that he thought he'd start crying vocally.
"I care about what happens to you, Bruce," Clark said seriously. "I care about you staying safe. I care about you not putting yourself in danger or adding to the bruises and wounds I can see covering you. It isn't about counting things against you. It's about keeping you safe, so I don't lose another person I care about."
"I never did anything that you should care about me..." Bruce gasped out, before he couldn't stop himself, and let out a tiny, choked sob.
"We fought together," Clark said. "You brought me back to life. You do your best to protect people...what more do I need?"
"It was my fault you died!" Bruce couldn't keep arguing and controlling his body's responses at the same time. As soon as he'd confessed that last bit, he sobbed again...and then just continued sobbing quietly, his body tense and aching. He truly did not understand why Clark was so hung up on the fact he realized he was the least important member in the team. He would have thought it was good he realized it.
It took Clark perhaps a second to decide they weren't going to stay here. Using his senses, he found one of Bruce's hidden exits and lifted the man into his arms, replacing his clothing before leaving Wayne Enterprises at super speed, going to his apartment, where at least it was more comfortable.
Bruce glanced around the new location, feeling disoriented. It didn't help his temper at all. "You're adding kidnapping onto the assault now?" he asked acerbically, even as he wiped futilely at his face in a attempt to hide the tears.
Clark didn't let go of Bruce. "You need to rest. You need to heal. And if that's not something you can make yourself do, then you don't have to battle against your own nature, because I'm not giving you a choice," he said firmly.
"No choice. Just how do you expect to make me do anything I don't want to?" he dared.
"Considering what I've done already that you didn't want me to, I don't think you need an answer to that," Clark said. "It wasn't your responsibility that I died, Bruce," he added. "We were both manipulated into actions we wouldn't have taken otherwise."
"Whatever," Bruce huffed disrespectfully. "I think differently. You aren't changing my mind."
"We'll see," Clark replied. "What sort of treatment did you get for your wounds?" he asked, beginning to carefully probe Bruce's body, trying to find where the man was hurting.
"I washed all the cuts. Put band-aides on the worst of them..." Bruce sassed sarcastically, not giving it the serious consideration he should have.
Clark sighed. "If you're going to keep giving me attitude, Bruce, I'll have to strip you down and check every part of your body for injuries."
"I keep telling you I'm fine. You don't believe me. Not much else to say..." Bruce spoke as flippantly as possible. He was still irritated at how Clark had just bull-dozed over his own decisions.
Clark didn't bother pointing out that he'd seen Bruce was still affected by the wounds. He hadn't had nearly enough time to heal. And while Clark had been trying to avoid embarrassing Bruce more than necessary, he decided that he was going to stop trying to preserve Bruce's modesty in favour of taking care of him.
Grabbing the first aid kit he had in case Lois or his mother got hurt, Clark didn't waste any time in removing Bruce's clothes, going at super speed because he didn't want to have to fight him on this.
"What the hell!?" Bruce had to grab onto Clark to keep from falling over, then glared as he realized he was naked.
"Things are going to go a lot easier on you if you start to understand I don't say things for the sake of it." Clark didn't waste any time in beginning to treat the wounds and bruises he could see all over Bruce's body. His jaw was clenched tight with frustrated worry, but he was gentle with his actions.
Bruce swallowed hard but didn't say anything. He'd begun to realize fighting was futile...plus doing so was tiring him out. "Fine," he said in resignation. "Do what you need to..."
Clark checked over Bruce's entire body, treating every wound he encountered. And there were quite a few of them. When he was finished, he disappeared at super speed and returned with a pair of pajamas. "Do I have to physically put these on you?"
"I sleep naked..." Bruce smirked, some obstinate part of him refusing to cooperate even though he knew he'd end up doing what Clark said anyway.
"Dressing you it is, then." Clark didn't waste any time in physically putting the pajamas on Bruce.
Bruce sighed and looked down at his now pajama clad body. "You are entirely too good at that..." he snorted, amused despite himself.
"It seems I need to be." Clark put a hand on Bruce's shoulder and guided him through to the bedroom. "Keep fighting me if you must, but you will rest."
Bruce looked at the bed, then at Clark. He wanted to argue and be difficult, but he found himself so weary that he found himself nodding slowly. "I'll rest," he agreed reluctantly.
"Thank you." Clark led him to the bed and pulled back the sheets, waiting for Bruce to get in.
Bruce didn't say anything else, just crawling carefully under the sheets and lying on his stomach. His backside was extremely sore.
Clark's hand lingered for a moment on Bruce's shoulder, gently rubbing. "When you wake up, I'll get us something to eat."
It was embarrassing how right Clark had been about Bruce being worn out. He didn't even have a chance to respond before he was sound asleep.
Clark didn't leave the room, apart from to take care of some phone calls to postpone some interviews he had set up. He carried some work into the bedroom and sat with it, just in case Bruce woke up without him there.
Bruce slept for a good five hours before he began to stir. As he shifted, he couldn't help the tiny moan of pain that his bruises and wounds caused; not to mention remnants of the spanking. He groaned as his eyes fell on Clark. "Go ahead and say it..." he muttered.
"I'm not looking to get one over on you," Clark replied seriously, putting his work to one side. "Or to gloat. Are you ready to eat now?"
"If I say no, are you going to spoon-feed me like a toddler?" Bruce asked, curious as to how far Clark was willing to go to get Bruce to obey.
"If I have to," Clark answered. "But I'd prefer it if it didn't come to that. It'll be easier on both of us if you stop fighting. I might be able to force you, but it would be better if you can see things from my perspective. Maybe think about how you would feel if Barry had the same feelings you do."
Bruce frowned. He knew how he'd feel if Barry didn't take care of himself and viewed himself as expendable. It wasn't a good feeling. "I'll eat..." he said quietly, figuring agreeing to food would cause Clark to not focus on that line of thought. He'd rather eat than admit Clark had got him to think. Especially when his thoughts pointed out his own double standard.
Deciding not to push that line of reasoning until after they'd eaten, Clark stood up. "If you come through to the kitchen, you can pick what you'd prefer."
Bruce nodded and carefully got up, following Clark. It didn't take much to point out what food he thought he could stomach.
On the way through to the kitchen, Clark had picked up a cushion and he put that on one of the chairs before he started preparing the food. It didn't take long and he was soon plating it up.
Bruce blushed at the kind gesture. He kinda felt he deserved to suffer; it was his own stubbornness that caused Clark to spank as long and hard as he had, after all. He darted a grateful look toward the Kryptonian, but stayed standing in the kitchen; it felt wrong to not at least be available to help Clark if he asked, even if the reason they were here was Clark.
"You can sit down," Clark said, giving Bruce a warm smile as he put the food on the table.
Giving a quick nod, Bruce carefully sat down. He was unable to hide the hiss of discomfort sitting caused, even if time and the cushion provided some barrier to the pain, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he waited for Clark to sit and begin eating. He then followed suit. "This is good..." he said softly and with a tiny hint of surprise that Clark knew how to cook. And he realized he was famished.
If Alfred hadn't been taking care of feeding him, he would have starved by now, the pain from his injuries causing him to feel ill when he ate. Only the fact he would worry the old man enabled him to struggle through. The fact he could eat now without feeling like he'd throw up was another sign that Clark had been right. The pain killers had taken enough of the edge off to aid his stomach at least even if he still hurt.
"I might be an alien from another planet, but I still need to eat," Clark commented. With a wry smile, he added, between mouthfuls, "Thank you for not fighting me on this. I know it's hard."
"Yeah, well..." Bruce struggled a bit before deciding to concede a little. "...It's good. And this is the first time in days I haven't had problems keeping the food down, so it isn't as hard as you'd think..." He paused again before adding on, "...The pain made me feel sick, so eating was difficult. The pain meds took the edge off so I don't feel queasy." It was the closest he could come to saying Clark had been right about him not taking care of himself without actually saying he was right.
"Good," Clark said softly. "You don't deserve to be in that kind of pain." He couldn't help but feel guilty. Not about spanking Bruce - if he hadn't acted, he could see the man working himself into the grave - but about having fought him and hurt him when he'd come back.
"You're good. There are plenty of people who'd tell you I got exactly what I deserved..." Bruce shrugged. The fact he was one of those people was clear.
"Those are people who don't know you," Clark said. "You don't deserve to be in pain. You're a good man, Bruce. You've saved people. And even if you can't see your own worth, I can."
"I hurt people too..." Bruce didn't face Clark. "The pain is manageable..." He shrugged. It actually hurt worse than normal; he'd never just let himself be beaten by a Kryptonian before and in the process of trying not to fight, he hadn't protected himself very well either.
"Making mistakes doesn't make you a bad person," Clark said. "And in a little while, I'll check over those wounds again and rebandage them if needed." He hesitated, seeing that Bruce had finished his food. "But...first...I think we need to cover you lying to me repeatedly about your injuries."
"I never lied about them..." Bruce frowned. "They weren't...aren't that bad."
"Bruce, you insisted you were fine when you were barely able to move right even before I took you over my knee," Clark said. "I treated all of your wounds. I've seen how bad they are."
"They aren't that bad!" Bruce obstinately insisted. It wasn't clear if he truly believed his words or just didn't want to admit he was wrong though.
Clark sighed and stood up, gently bringing Bruce up to stand with him. "You told me the pain made you feel sick and that you couldn't eat. I'm not going to stand here and listen to you continue lying to me. I told you if I was actually your Dom, I'd wash your mouth out with soap for lying to me. I think you need to be taught not to resort to lying with someone who knows you. Knows your secrets. And cares about you."
Bruce blinked owlishly at Clark, not certain he was hearing right. Yes, he had admitted to feeling ill from pain...but it still wasn't really that bad. He'd had worse. Maybe not much worse, but still worse, and he could handle this. He didn't understand why Clark was making such a big deal about it. "I'm not lying!" he finally protested, although it was a weak protest at best.
Clark kept his hand on Bruce's shoulder, leading him into the bathroom, where he picked up the bar of soap. "I've seen the extent of your wounds. I've seen the effect they have on you. You're moving a bit easier now, but you weren't earlier at Wayne Enterprises."
"See!? I'm moving better! They weren't that bad!" Bruce smiled uncertainly and almost pathetically hopefully at Clark. If the other man decided to go through with this, there was nothing Bruce could do to stop him. In fact, it would be less humiliating to just accept it and submit. But Bruce wasn't the type to submit; even if it was in his own best interests. He supposed he could have agreed with Clark about the level of injury he had, but he couldn't. If he admitted they were that bad, then he really would be a fool not to do what Clark asked and that was just giving too much control away.
"You're moving better because the wounds were treated and I made you rest," Clark said. He didn't actually want to go through with this. But if he was making this decision to take care of Bruce, then he had to be sure the other man would stop lying to him. He voiced his next thought out loud. "If I don't know how bad they are, I can't treat them properly."
Bruce had been about to argue again, but Clark's last comment derailed him. "You do know you don't have to be responsible for me, right?" His tone was dry. "I'm not accountable to you...don't have to tell you anything... ergo you have no responsibility for what happens to me. No reason to feel bad or try and fix me." Bruce meant fix in more than just the wounds...it was becoming clear Clark felt some other things needed to change as well. Bruce wasn't about to become the alien's DIY project, even if he wasn't wrong in his assessments of the situation.
"I have a reason to do this," Clark stated. "I care about you. I asked you how you'd feel if Barry felt the same way as you. Would you accept your own attitude from him?"
"I'm not his father..." Bruce tried to deflect. He knew damn well he wouldn't like or accept such an attitude. Then again, Barry would never behave the way he was currently behaving. He felt a small twinge of guilt.
"Does that mean you wouldn't care?" Clark pushed. "That you'd accept him ignoring his injuries? Pushing himself past his limits and claiming it's acceptable because he doesn't have as much experience in battle, so he's expendable?"
"Of course not," Bruce ground out. "He'd never behave like that in the first place, though. So it's a moot point." He winced at the implication that he was behaving like that and it was wrong. Since he knew it wasn't really an implication but fact. Maybe Clark had a point.
"Maybe he wouldn't," Clark said. "But if he did...if any of the others felt like that...and ignored their injuries. Do you think you would feel any different to how I feel right now?"
Bruce looked down sullenly, unable to face Clarke as he admitted, "No, sir..." He grimaced as the term of respect just slipped out, but he was feeling decidedly childish and now that it had happened, he couldn't take it back. Hopefully, Clark wouldn't notice.
Clark noticed, but didn't comment on it. "You don't get to tell me not to care about you. Or to be unaffected by you suffering. I know you think it's deserved, but it's not. You don't deserve to be in pain. And you don't deserve to feel like you don't matter. That you're not important. Because, to me? You are."
Bruce swallowed hard at that, chagrined to feel tears pooling in his eyes. "Okay..." he said, in a tiny voice, and slumped down in a mix of resigned acceptance that Clark cared and shame at what he'd been putting the man through for daring to care.
Clark gently squeezed his shoulder. "Open your mouth," he directed, his voice gentle but serious, nearly stern.
Bruce grimaced and gave a glare that was more sorrowful and apologetic than angry. But he opened his mouth wide. He wouldn't escape this. Might as well submit with at least a little dignity. He couldn't help but close his eyes tightly, though, the tears threatening to fall.
Clark placed the bar of soap in Bruce's mouth, his other hand still gently squeezing the man's shoulder. "You don't lie to me," he said softly. "I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm trying to help you. I care about you. I know it's hard for you to believe, but I do."
Bruce closed his lips around the bar to hold it in place. He couldn't answer Clark, so he just nodded carefully, so as not to dislodge Clark's hand; it was providing more comfort than he'd expected or thought he'd needed. And the tears squeezed through his tightly closed eyelids and slid down his face. He looked and felt like a naughty child, which didn't do anything for his ego when he thought about what position that put Clark in.
Clark kept his hand on Bruce, just holding on, gently squeezing. After a minute, he gently removed the soap from the man's mouth, leading him over to the sink with his hand still on his shoulder. "You can rinse," he directed.
Bruce nodded again dejectedly. He'd lost his will to argue and fight. What he wanted to do was go and hide away till he wasn't so ashamed or embarrassed, but he knew Clark wouldn't allow that. The best he could do to keep it from being worse was obey the other man.
Clark didn't let go of Bruce, but he stayed back far enough to allow the man to rinse his mouth out. Once Bruce was finished, he retrieved the first aid kit. "I'll check over those injuries again. Did you see a doctor about any of those wounds?" he asked.
"No, sir." Bruce grimaced just as much at the realization Clark would be upset at that answer as at the fact he couldn't seem to stop the deferential address toward his friend.
Clark sighed and took out the bandages and everything else he needed. "Will you please remove the pajamas?" He thought about taking Bruce to the doctor and getting him proper treatment. "Does Alfred know the extent of your injuries?"
Bruce slumped further, even as he began to undress. He waited until he was naked before finally answering, though. "He doesn't know..." His voice was gruff and it was obvious he'd rather Alfred not know. The man was as close to a father as was possible to be without being blood. He hadn't wanted him to worry more than he already did.
Clark moved back over to Bruce, beginning to carefully check over the wounds, changing the bandages he needed to. "I'm not happy you didn't go to the doctor, Bruce. I can treat the minor wounds, but for anything more serious, going without proper medical treatment is going to leave you hurting worse and probably not healing properly."
"I can't...doctors will ask questions..." Bruce attempted to sound forceful, but he sounded more resigned than anything. "Billionaire playboys don't get wounds like this unless they're into some seriously warped behavior." Which reminded him of what Loretta had assumed. Sighing, he said, "Won't be the first time...", referring to hurting worse and not healing right. He figured the scars he had were proof enough of that.
"I don't like that," Clark said seriously. "Even if it's the first time or the hundredth." He thought about suggesting Bruce go in his persona as Batman, but that wouldn't work either. He continued to treat the wounds, as carefully as possible.
"This isn't something you can control, Clark." Bruce sounded faintly amused. "Not unless you have a doctor on retainer who won't or can't tell anyone who I am... I've looked for one, believe me. Contrary to what my behavior suggests, I'm not really fond of unnecessary pain or leaving injuries untended." He held still and didn't fight. Even he had to admit he felt much better from Clark's care. Stubbornness wasn't always the best reaction.
Clark raised his eyebrows, but didn't point out how difficult it was to believe that, considering that none of the injuries had been treated before he stepped in. "You can't think of anyone you could go to wearing your mask? Or is it really such a bad thing that a doctor makes the wrong assumption? They're bound by confidentiality, after all."
Bruce bit his lip. "I don't trust that easily...even if they likely are bound by oaths and laws. But...I get the feeling I won't be given a choice in the matter pretty soon." He sighed as he said the last. "If they think it's because of rough play instead of saving the world, I guess it really doesn't matter. As long as I get treatment..." It took a lot for him to admit that, his pride taking another hit.
He couldn't help but add, "You do realize that if they think I'm letting myself be hurt for 'fun', they'll likely assume you're the one doing the hurting, if you insist on accompanying me..." Bruce had no doubt Clark would insist, since Bruce would avoid the Doctor if he wasn't made to go.
"I will be accompanying you," Clark answered. "As for the assumptions, though...if we need to, we can let them think it was another person in the lifestyle."
"I'd prefer that. Most people already think the worst of me. I'd rather them not look at you the same way..." Bruce said quietly. "...They can think you're a good friend who is worried. Or a concerned Dom, if they assume what Loretta did..." Bruce's tone was slightly bitter. He wasn't sure if he was more upset at his secretary's assumption, or the fact he was beginning to think he needed someone to step in and keep him from just giving up. He'd been so close to letting himself die and Clark stepping in had snapped him out of that mindset, for the moment. He wasn't self-delusional enough to think he'd not fall into that mindset again.
Clark finished treating the wounds and straightened up. "I don't think the worst of you." He gently squeezed Bruce's shoulder. "If you get dressed, I'll call and make an appointment. My Mom has a doctor she trusts. We can see him."
Bruce nodded and quickly dressed. "Is the doctor in Smallville?" he asked quietly. Maybe that wouldn't be too bad. A small-town doctor might not have the same biases against him.
"Yeah," Clark replied. "I can fly us there. It would be quicker than driving and I would never let you fall." He paused to speak on the phone, making the appointment.
"After everything you've done so far to save me from myself, I believe you..." Bruce snorted softly, a tiny smile on his face.
Clark smiled at that and finished making the appointment. Since his apartment was easy to fly from, he didn't waste any time in wrapping his arms around Bruce and guiding him out onto the balcony, quickly soaring into the sky with him.
Despite trusting Clark not to drop him, instinct caused Bruce to wrap his own arms tightly around the man and hold very tightly. When they landed at Clark's mother's farm, he held on for a little longer, not entirely sure he'd stay standing if he didn't. He was suddenly aware of a few wounds he'd ignored before. Finally, he asked, "We driving to his office or is he doing house calls?"
"House call." Clark didn't let go of Bruce even after they'd landed, guiding him into the house with an arm wrapped around his shoulders for support.
"Yeah...that's...that's good..." Bruce hissed and leaned on Clark more fully. "I didn't think flying would make me dizzy..." he admitted reluctantly.
"You've been in a lot of pain," Clark said gently. "And you're not used to flying." He settled Bruce in the living room and then went to answer the door to the doctor.
Bruce didn't disagree. He was beginning to realize his stubborn insistence on not getting help and hiding his injuries was a very bad mistake. Expendable or otherwise, he didn't really want to die. Not like this anyway.
Clark returned a few moments later with the doctor following him.
"Mr. Wayne. Would you prefer that Mr. Kent leave the room while I examine you?" the doctor asked professionally.
Bruce almost said yes, but then glanced at Clark. If it weren't for the older man caring about him, he'd have left his wounds untreated. Clark deserved to know what was going on; needed to, if Bruce were honest with himself. If Clark knew exactly what was going on, Bruce wouldn't be tempted to lie and hide things. "No..." he finally answered softly. "...He needs to be here."
Clark smiled at Bruce and lightly squeezed his shoulder, then moved to one side to allow the doctor to thoroughly examine his friend.
Calmly and professionally, the doctor directed Bruce to remove his clothes so he could examine all of the wounds.
Sighing softly, but not arguing, Bruce obeyed and was soon naked again. He supposed it was good he'd never been overly shy about his body, considering how many people had got an eyeful the last day.
The doctor was completely thorough in his examination, not showing any reactions or anything he might be thinking. Finally, he was done. "The bruises and cuts, you've done as much as you can for. You have a sprained wrist and two cracked ribs. I'll strap those up." Glancing at Clark, he added, "I would suggest staying away from any 'extreme' play for a while."
Bruce flushed and couldn't face Clark or the doctor, but didn't say anything. He wasn't sure if it'd be worse to try and change the doctor's mind or let it go. The fact he was leaving Clark in charge wasn't hard to see, though. He held still while the doctor continued to wrap, strap and bandage.
While Clark could see that Bruce was embarrassed by the assumption, he didn't try to correct it, knowing there was no way he could explain the truth.
"I'm prescribing you some stronger painkillers, too." The doctor, finishing the treatment, wrote out the prescription. "Make sure you only take the prescribed dose," he continued.
"Thank you. I won't be needing those, though. I can handle the pain..." Bruce felt an obstinate need to assert a small amount of independence.
Clark cleared his throat and simply held his hand out for the prescription. He'd fight with Bruce about taking the painkillers later.
Bruce, irritated at the assumption that everyone thought Clark was in charge of him...and the fact that he'd gone along with the assumption as if Clark really was in charge... frowned then snorted. "I don't want to take them. And how do you plan to change my mind? Doc said no 'extreme play'." He smirked, figuring that his ass was safe and he could get mouthy with little repercussion. He completely ignored the fact that it hadn't taken much to convince him to let Clark be in charge; that maybe he wanted Clark in charge. That was admitting things he wasn't ready to face yet.
Clark didn't make any response until he was certain the doctor had gone and then he turned to Bruce. "Putting you over my knee and spanking you doesn't count as 'extreme play'...little one," he added, deciding to use the pet name that had been in his head.
Bruce's mouth dropped open. He'd half-expected the threat of spanking, even if he'd hoped it was off the table, but the term of affection knocked his legs out from under him. It flipped his stomach, made him confused, caused him to look at Clark differently...look at him the way Loretta had assumed he already looked at him. He found it didn't bother him. In fact, if the way warmth was flooding his chest and face was any indication, he liked it. "Damn it..." he muttered under his breath, a lost tone in his voice. He wanted Clark to dominate him.
Clark's smile was gentle and reassuring as he stepped over to Bruce, holding a hand out to him. He hadn't failed to notice Bruce's reaction to the term and he used it again as he said, "Let's go home, little one."
Bruce looked up at Clark, his confusion and unsettled feelings fully visible on his face. Swallowing, he took the Kryptonian's hand so that he could be taken home. "Yes, Sir..." he whispered.
Clark helped Bruce up, wrapping his arms around him and guiding him out of the farmhouse. Not wasting any time, he flew them both back to the apartment.
Again, Bruce held tightly to the other man, although this time it was more due to the upheaval he was feeling emotionally than because of the fact he was flying. He likely would have enjoyed the flying, if he wasn't so confused at his own reactions.
Once in the apartment, when he was expected to let go and step away, he swallowed. "I really don't need the meds..." he said in a pout. He wasn't sure if he was arguing just to argue (and put things on a familiar ground), or if he was arguing to push Clark into following through on his threat...to see if he would follow through. To see if he was hoping he did, because he couldn't tell what he wanted. He just knew he hadn't been expecting things to happen in this way or react to it in this way.
Clark kept his arms around Bruce, considering his friend's needs and what he was really saying. He reached his hand down and lightly swatted Bruce's backside. "Taking the meds is non-negotiable, little one," he replied firmly.
Bruce was sensitive enough from the prior spanking that the gentle swat was all that was needed to reignite the sting. He whimpered softly and hid his face against Clark's shoulder. "Yes, Sir..." he whispered, suddenly tired and unwilling to push any further.
Clark gently stroked the back of Bruce's head. "Good..." he whispered, before opening the blister pack and taking out the meds that were needed.
Bruce couldn't face Clark. He was too ashamed; ashamed that he'd been fighting what was only common sense and making his friend's life more difficult; and ashamed that he wanted something from Clark that the other man hadn't offered or even indicated interest in. It was one thing if everyone assumed what they saw between them, but for Bruce to fall into the trap of seeing it too and wanting it? He didn't want to face Clark. He didn't much feel like doing anything, though. Maybe he'd feel normal and more in control come morning. It had to just be the bone-tired weariness he was suffering from.
Clark gently guided Bruce towards the sofa, helping him to sit down and sitting down next to him, picking up a cup of water on the way. He handed the water and painkillers to Bruce. "We'll eat after you've taken the painkillers, little one," he said softly. "And after that, before bed, I'm going to put you in the corner for a bit."
Bruce did look up at that, his confusion clear, but also a hint of worry. "I'll take the medicine...do I have to stand in the corner?" He wasn't even aware that he'd pretty much just agreed to do what Clark said when he failed to argue. The name, on top of the whole situation, had knocked him completely sideways. He quickly took the pills and swallowed them down with the water, even going so far as to open his mouth wide so Clark could see he'd obeyed.
Clark let his hand rest gently on Bruce's shoulder, squeezing lightly. "Acting like you're expendable and that I shouldn't care about you isn't okay, little one." He kept using the name; a term of affection that he noticed had an effect on Bruce. Almost idly, his thumb stroked the man's neck. "This week is about resting and about proving how much you're worth. And about discipline. Spanking. Corner time. Even the mouth soaping." He paused and then added, "We've let the people around us believe we have this type of relationship. I care enough about you to make that a reality."
Bruce swallowed hard, then looked down, blinking. "I'm sorry I upset you..." he whispered. "I didn't think it would matter to you...to anyone. I was wrong..." He blinked back tears as he realized what he'd been doing...not just to himself, but Clark, Diana, Barry... Alfred...numerous others. He'd been oblivious to how much he was cared about and done things that were wrong because of it. And now Clark was stepping in. Offering to continue stepping in. "I... I need that..." he said in a tiny voice.
"You matter," Clark said softly. "To me and to the others. I want to take care of you like this. To keep on doing it."
Bruce cleared his throat but wasn't able to answer. Instead, he gave a rapid nod of his head to show agreement, then hid his face against Clark's shoulder again. "You'll be my Verndari..." he whispered.
Clark tightened his embrace. "I will," he agreed, gently cupping the back of Bruce's head. "And you'll be my little one," he murmured.
Bruce allowed himself to relax. It was new... unusual... to allow someone else to take care of him to this degree, but now that he'd agreed to it, he realized he'd been running on borrowed time. Had Clark not stepped in, he'd have killed himself for certain. "I'm sorry I was so difficult," he apologized.
"You were wrong in what you believed, but you still believed it strongly," Clark said softly. "I'm sorry you were failed in such a way to begin believing you were expendable and that it didn't matter if you died. It does matter. I care about you. I don't want to lose you."
"You won't...not now..." Bruce didn't promise anything...he had a feeling this 'week of healing and discipline' wouldn't end at the end of the week. He knew himself well enough that he knew he'd be over Clark's knee many times in the future. But it wouldn't be because he viewed himself as expendable. Clark would keep him safe from himself, if he couldn't. He believed that. "What now?" he asked softly.
"We eat now," Clark replied softly. "And then you'll have a bit of time to stand and think in the corner, though I won't leave you alone, and then it'll be time for bed. I'll stay in the room with you. I can easily make up a mattress on the floor."
"Yes, Sir..." He hesitated "...You don't need to sleep on the floor, though. The bed is big enough to share, if you aren't uncomfortable with that..." He remembered the size of the bed and knew what he said was true. He also knew not to say he'd sleep on the floor; Clark would never allow it while he was still injured.
"It doesn't make me uncomfortable. If it doesn't make you uncomfortable, then we can do that." Clark wondered if that would help his 'little one' to feel more settled. He hadn't noticed any nightmares when Bruce had been asleep before, but that didn't mean the man didn't have them.
"It won't bother me..." Bruce said, relieved that he wasn't kicking his friend out of his own bed among all the other things he was guilty of. He bit his lip. "What about Lois? I know you both wanted to spend time together..." He felt guilty for messing that up.
"I didn't tell her the details, but I told her I was going to be busy for a little while," Clark answered. "She's chasing a story anyway. Now she's satisfied I'm not going anywhere, she's started sniffing them out." He smiled before adding, "Besides. You're now a priority just as much as she is."
"She's a good reporter. You know she's going to find out about this...if it continues." Bruce looked uncomfortable about that for a moment. "I don't want to cause problems between you both..."
Clark sat quietly for a moment, still with his arms around Bruce. "She guessed I was coming to see you. She saw me attacking you. And she knew I wasn't happy that you'd let me come so close to killing you. She might have already figured it out," he said calmly. "Does it bother you if so?"
"With my reputation? Having you be my Dom will probably improve it..." Bruce snorted faintly. "If she doesn't mind and it doesn't cause problems...she likely needs to know."
"It won't cause problems," Clark replied reassuringly. Stroking the back of Bruce's head, he continued, "But doing this...we probably need to have a discussion about safewords. I'm much stronger than you and if you ever get scared I might lose control or if you feel like you're in danger or that I'm hurting you too much or in the wrong way, it would help."
Bruce nodded. "Kryptonite. Since you could be to me what it is to you...if you weren't so careful of me..."
"I will do everything within my power to ensure your safety with me," Clark promised. "I've made you a couple of promises already...I'll also tell you that I'll never punish you if I'm angry. I'll always make sure to take the time to calm down first."
Bruce slumped against Clark in relief. "Thank you for that," he whispered. "I know how infuriating I can be."
"You did a good job of that in the last twelve hours," Clark said wryly. "I know the huge amount of trust you're placing in me, Bruce. I won't ever do anything to abuse that."
Bruce glanced sheepishly at Clark. "I wish I could say I wouldn't behave in ways that are likely to get me in trouble, but you don't want me to lie..."
"It doesn't matter if you do get in trouble," Clark replied calmly. "I'm not going to change my mind or decide you're too much work. You're my little one now."
Bruce took a slow breath, then leaned on Clark. "And you're my Verndari. I didn't even know I needed that..."
Clark tightened his arms around Bruce. "You've got me now," he whispered reassuringly. "And I hope you'll learn to let go of the guilt over what happened between us before I died. I don't blame you. We were both manipulated by Lex Luthor."
"It wasn't hard for him to do. I'd become so focused on stopping what I viewed as evil, without help, I refused to listen when faced with the proof that I was wrong." Bruce looked up. "If I'd listened to you...or to Diana...or even to Lois... you may not blame me, but I still blame myself. I'm trying not to...I know you don't want me to...but it's difficult to let the guilt go."
"Does it help, at all, that I've forgiven you?" Clark asked softly, looking into his eyes. "I know I didn't act like it when you brought me back...in my right mind, I would never have hurt you."
"It helps..." Bruce admitted. "Also knowing you don't want me to and won't allow me to punish myself keeps it in check. But the guilt is still there."
Clark kept his hand on the back of Bruce's head. "If the guilt gets to be too much, I'll step in rather than let you punish yourself."
Bruce nodded, snuggling despite himself. Considering how irritated he'd been at Loretta's assumption that morning when she'd caught Clark spanking him, he'd adjusted to the new dynamic a lot faster than he would have thought; including the accepting of comfort and affection. Loretta had seen a need in him he hadn't realized and her putting the idea into his head had been fortuitous. "If I feel the need to punish myself for any reason..." He left unsaid his question of if he was meant to tell Clark. He wasn't sure he'd be able to admit such a thing even if he wanted to.
"If you feel the need to punish yourself, I hope you'll find some way to let me know...even if you can't tell me outright and have to word it another way." Clark tightened his embrace, stroking the back of Bruce's head and down over his back.
"I'll try, sir..." Bruce answered quietly. He fought back a yawn. It had been an eventful day. An emotional one. A physically taxing one. He knew Clark wanted him to eat and then stand in the corner before bed, but if he didn't do those two things soon, he was afraid he'd fall asleep before they could be accomplished.
"Time for food, little one," Clark said, helping Bruce to his feet. He led him through to the kitchen to make them both sandwiches.
"What can I do, Sir?" Bruce asked quietly, still fighting a yawn.
"Just eat, little one. Let me take care of you." Clark settled him in one of the chairs and finished plating up the food for them both. Sitting down, he moved so he was as close to Bruce as possible.
Bruce sat where Clarke placed him and, as soon as the food was in front of him, began to eat as instructed. As soon as he had finished, he glanced toward Clark to see if he should clean up or wait.
Clark stood up once they were both finished and gently helped Bruce to his feet, guiding his charge into one of the corners. "Stand here until I come and get you," he instructed.
Even having expected what was coming, Bruce couldn't stop the feeling of shame as he was placed in the corner. His shoulders slumped and he let his head fall forward, pressing into the corner he faced. "Yes, Sir," he whispered.
Clark gently squeezed his shoulder and then moved away to begin cleanup, watching Bruce carefully to make sure he would handle the corner time.
Bruce might be good at holding still when staking out villains, but he was horrible at holding still when he was being taught a lesson. He tried his hardest, but even so, he was squirming within a few minutes of being placed in position.
Clark could see Bruce squirming as he finished the clean-up and he spoke softly to him. "Hiding your wounds from me isn't acceptable, little one. I know you wouldn't accept that kind of behaviour from anyone you care about."
Bruce wasn't sure if he was meant to answer or not, but he knew Clark was right and guilt made him slump even further. He glanced over his shoulder, giving Clark a pathetically sorrowful look that showed all too clear he knew he'd been wrong and was sorry for it. But he waited for permission to speak.
"Do you have something to say?" Clark asked. His voice was gentle, warm with affection, even if it did contain a hint of sternness.
"I... I know you're right. It was wrong of me to hide my injuries. To lie about them." Bruce swallowed hard and faced the corner again, unable to face his friend. "I would have been very upset if any of the others had done that. I shouldn't have done it to you..."
"You shouldn't have," Clark agreed. "I know you're used to doing that, but it's not going to be acceptable anymore. If you hide injuries from me again, it will earn you a trip over my knee as soon as we've taken care of the wounds."
"Yes, Sir..." Bruce said in a small voice, then swallowed hard. The spanking he'd got had hurt a great deal and while he knew a lot of that was because he had fought, he also knew that Clark would not be lenient when it came to taking care of himself. He wasn't upset at that, though. He was grateful.
He was upset at having upset his friend and though Clark had forgiven him, he still couldn't stop tears from sliding down his face as he thought about what could have happened. He could have permanently lost Clark if his plan hadn't worked. He could have caused Clark to permanently lose him- and feel the guilt of that forever- had Clark not come back to himself in time. So many things had gone wrong or could have gone wrong because of his arrogance and inability to trust others.
That was going to change, though. Clark had him now and was taking charge, so he'd learn how to work with others and trust them. He'd better, if he didn't want a constant sore bottom...
Clark's super hearing told him that Bruce was crying and even though, for a second, he thought about leaving his charge in the corner for a bit longer, he quickly changed his mind. Moving to Bruce's side, he wasted no time in pulling the man into his arms, hugging him tight without using too much force.
"I'm sorry..." Bruce snuggled as close as Clark would allow. "So very sorry..."
"I know. I've got you, little one. I forgive you." Clark cupped the back of his head. "I love you," he said softly, because it was true; or at least, he'd just realised it was.
Bruce blinked at that, looking up at Clark. He wasn't able to say it himself. Not yet. Everyone he loved tended to be hurt and so, even if he let them know it in various ways, he seldom admitted it out loud. His paranoia had saved him on more than one occasion. He hoped Clark understood. Instead of responding, he just snuggled closer.
Clark wasn't unhappy about a lack of verbal response. He just held Bruce tightly to himself, just happy to hold onto his little one. "We'll go through to bed as soon as you're ready," he whispered to him.
Bruce held tight for a few seconds longer before whispering, "I'm ready..."
Clark didn't let go of him, keeping an arm around Bruce's shoulders as he led him through to the bedroom and got them both a pair of pajamas out.
Bruce didn't argue at all. He was too tired. Too weary. Too relieved he hadn't lost his friend. Too subdued now that he finally realized what Clark was trying to teach him. He waited for Clark to tell him what to do, not sure if Clark would dress him again or would instruct him to dress himself now that he was being obedient.
Clark smiled gently and warmly at Bruce, even as he began undressing his charge and then dressing him in the pajamas. Yes, Bruce was being obedient. But at the moment, Clark figured he'd keep hold of that control.
Bruce swallowed hard again before hesitantly returning Clark's smile. He had a hard time keeping his gaze up, though. So much had happened today...most if it out if his comfort zone... most if it things he'd normally have fought tooth and nail against. Only, he hadn't fought much beyond the first initial spanking because of guilt he felt toward his friend and now? Now he was too tired, had learned things that would make fighting more difficult than giving in and had pretty much promised to behave for now. Behaving didn't mean he could face Clark, though. Not easily or without being made to.
Clark got himself undressed at super speed and then gently guided Bruce to the bed. He settled them both in, drawing Bruce very firmly into his arms. "I've got you, little one," he murmured softly.
Bruce stiffened for a very brief second, not having expected to have Clark continue to want to touch him once they'd got ready to sleep; but he found himself relaxing quickly. In fact, being held was providing a level of security and comfort that was allowing him to relax much more quickly than he normally did when he went to bed. Normally, he lay in bed and stared at the ceiling for at least thirty minutes, if not longer, before he'd fall into a fitful sleep, even when he was bone tired. Something about Clark being next to him, holding him close in a way that didn't allow him to move, allowed the part of his brain that was always watching for danger to just shut down. He was asleep within only a few minutes.
Clark lay awake for a few more minutes, a bit awed by the day's events. He hadn't expected to end today with a charge to take care of...but now that he had Bruce, it was like a piece of him was slotting into place. He held Bruce close to himself as he let himself fall asleep.
Bruce had slept through the night without one nightmare. Something that hadn't occurred since before his parents had been murdered in front of him. He hadn't realized, until he awoke more refreshed than he could ever remember, how bad his sleep really was normally. It was a bit worrisome, really. What in the world was he going to do if he became used to this? Clark wasn't going to be sleeping next to him every night, after all. He didn't say anything, not wanting the other man to worry. Bruce's sleep issues had been present long before Clark had even met him, so he couldn't expect the other man to take them on, even if Clark had seemingly taken on responsibility for Bruce in a more hands on way. Had become his Dom. He needed to call it what it was, if he was accepting it. Clark was his Dom and he was Clark's sub and that meant he probably should tell Clark about the sleep issues and how his being there had helped. But...he just couldn't. He also didn't get out of bed upon waking, reluctant to disturb the peace of the morning.
Clark woke up only a few moments after Bruce did, but he didn't let go of him, instead cupping the back of his head. "Morning, little one." His voice was warmed through with affection as he let his hand stroke gently over Bruce's back, unwilling to immediately release his little one.
Bruce couldn't help but smile against Clark's chest at the term of affection. "Is that what you plan to call me from now on? When we are alone at least?" he asked, with fond amusement and a hint of pleased curiosity.
"Yes," Clark replied, still continuing the gentle rubbing and stroking over his back. "Because you are my little one."
Bruce thought about it a moment, then snuggled some more. "Okay..." His voice took on a more deferential, more shy tone; indicating that if he was Clark's 'little one', then he wasn't going to fight it.
Clark tightened his arms around Bruce, still cupping the back of his head. "You're due a second spanking today," he whispered to his little one, not wanting to suddenly spring it on Bruce. "Do you want to have breakfast first? Or after?"
Bruce tensed up at the words and whimpered. He may have decided that what Clark was offering was best for him; as far as the being in charge and being expected to obey and take care of himself anyway. But he did not want another spanking. Especially not after the one he'd had the day before. His backside was still sensitive (even if it didn't hurt) and he knew himself well enough to know that he'd end up being stubborn for some stupid reason (he couldn't seem to help himself; his pride just got in the way) and Clark would need to be more firm and continue to correct him till he'd given in and that meant no sitting comfortably for the rest of the day, if not longer. "Don't wanna spanking..." he mumbled into Clark's chest.
"I know, little one," Clark replied gently, not so much as loosening his hold on Bruce. "But when you hid your wounds and acted as if you weren't important or valued, that was very naughty. You need another spanking to help remind you of why you shouldn't keep your wounds from me."
Bruce groaned softly, the reasonable and gentle tone of Clark's voice making it impossible to get angry, but the words not what he wanted to hear. "I can't remember without another spanking?" he asked plaintively.
Clark stroked his hair. "If I hadn't forcibly treated you and taken you to the doctor, you would never have got the treatment you needed," he said. "You need a reminder that, from now, I am the one who's taking care of you. And acting like you're fine when you can't even move right due to pain isn't the right thing to do."
"Yes, Sir..." Bruce whispered. It wasn't like he had an excuse for what he'd done. And he had agreed to let Clark be in charge of him; that meant with everything, including reminders so that he wouldn't forget important things like taking care of himself. It was all a part of becoming disciplined. Still...
"It'll hurt..." he whined, then blushed at the fact that he was whining about a spanking. He'd been in worse pain from his wounds and acted like they didn't matter. Why did the thought of being spanked upset him so much?
"Yes," Clark agreed. "But that's not what truly bothers you, little one, is it?" His hand stroked over Bruce's shoulder, pushing the pajama sleeve to one side so he could touch and stroke bare skin.
Bruce swallowed hard, but thought about the question. "No, Sir..." he admitted in a whisper.
"Can you tell me what it is that bothers you?" Clark continued to gently probe, his hand settling in place on Bruce's bare shoulder.
"How...how easily I've fallen into this..." Bruce admitted, he eyes darting to the side, unable to face his friend. "I... I know I need it. Want it even. But it's happened so suddenly, I guess I'm having a hard time adjusting. Not fighting..."
"It's happened suddenly for me, too," Clark said honestly. "I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to say to you when I came to Wayne Enterprises, other than to apologise and make sure you were okay." With a wry smile, he continued, "And then, when you told me that you didn't matter and you were expendable, I acted on instinct. Knowing the alternative would be to step back and let you self-destruct. That's when I made my decision."
"I honestly didn't think I mattered as much..." Bruce sighed. "I... I know better now. Or, at least, I'm trying to know better..." He glanced up and smiled crookedly. "Already you've managed to do in one day what others tried and gave up on after months and months..."
Clark let his hand close around Bruce's wrist, thumb gently rubbing over the pulse point. "Maybe because I'm willing to do whatever it takes to protect you and keep you safe, even from yourself," he murmured. "I'm not going to give up on you or let you go, little one."
Bruce let his head fall forward against Clark's chest. "Thank you, Verndari..." he whispered. "...I... if I have to be spanked... I think I'd rather get it out of the way..." he finally answered Clark's original question, even if reluctantly.
Clark cupped the back of Bruce's head for a moment and held him for a few moments longer before he gently moved his charge over his knees. Stroking Bruce's back, he then eased his pajama pants down.
Bruce tried to hold still. He really did. He'd agreed to this arrangement, after all, and he knew Clark really wasn't going to harm him. It would sting- possibly a lot- but he'd live and there would be no lasting damage and after, it would be done and not hanging over his head any longer. Unfortunately, telling himself didn't help all that much and as soon as he felt the pajama pants going down and the cool air touching his backside, he began to squirm. Hard. Nearly out of control. "No! I changed my mind. Don't spank me!" he demanded, in more of a frantic, childish tone than a forceful, adult one.
"I know it's scary, little one," Clark soothed, pulling Bruce tight against his stomach so his charge couldn't squirm off his lap and risk hurting himself. "But I've got you." His other hand gently closed over Bruce's wrist once more, holding his charge steady.
"Not scared," Bruce ground out and then blushed because it was fairly obvious he was scared.
"I'm not going to let you go. I'm not going to decide you're too much work and give up on you. We're still feeling our way around each other, but I'm here now," Clark promised. "You won't lose me again."
Bruce closed his eyes. "...You won't disappear?"
"No," Clark promised. "I know you need me now. I'm not going to let myself get separated from you."
"Okay..." Bruce whispered, even as he twisted his wrist around so that he could grasp Clark's hand. "...I don't think I can hold still, though..." he admitted, with a hint of shame. His body was quivering from taut nerves.
"Don't worry about how you react," Clark replied gently. "I won't let you fall." He gripped Bruce's hand as tightly as he could without causing pain and then lifted his hand, letting it fall in a firm swat against Bruce's bare backside.
Bruce tried not to whimper, whine, or moan; so the strangled sound that escaped was truly pathetic. And he hadn't been wrong- as soon as the swat landed, he was squirming frantically in an effort to get his bare bottom out of range of Clark's hand and the painful swats. But he quickly realized that Clark had told the truth. His Verndari wasn't going to let him fall; in fact, he barely let him move at all, beyond his bottom wriggling. He was completely secure; and stuck in position to feel every single swat.
Clark kept his grip tight on his little one, making sure Bruce stayed in place. He continued the firm swats down to his charge's thighs and then began again from the top. "You're mine now, little one. I won't let anything take you away from me. Not even you."
Bruce continued to squirm with abandon, even knowing that he wasn't going anywhere, but that didn't stop him from listening closely to what his Dom was saying. He also continued to whimper and whine, with the occasional yelp as it became more and more difficult not to just give in and cry. "Wasn't trying to take m'self away!" he choked out, in a tiny sob. "...Least...didn' think was..."
Clark swatted a little bit harder and faster as he began a third circuit of swats. "But you were, little one. You decided you didn't matter and that you could let yourself suffer because you assumed you were expendable. That not having the same abilities meant you weren't as important. That was the attitude you had when you decided to let me hurt you, knowing I wasn't myself and I would never have caused you pain in my right mind."
Clark's words sunk in and cut Bruce emotionally. "I'm sorry..." he gasped out hoarsely. "So sorry...was wrong...so wrong and bad. Didn't want to hurt you...didn't want to hurt anyone... I didn't care bout me, but cared bout you and didn't mean to..." Bruce choked on the words and began crying vocally, still squirming, though the struggles were weakening as he wore himself down from the exertion.
"I care about you," Clark stated firmly. "I know you didn't want to hurt anyone, but what you did? It doesn't make you a bad person, little one. But I won't allow you to take yourself away from me. I love you. You're mine now. I'm your Verndari."
At those words, Bruce lost the will to continue fighting, even if he had a small amount of strength left. Going boneless over Clark's lap, he just cried softly. "Sorry, Sir...so sorry... can't take m'self away from you..."
Bringing the spanking to a stop, Clark wasted no time in gathering his little one into his arms on his lap, gently cupping the back of his head. "I've got you, little one," he murmured. "I've already forgiven you."
Bruce closed his eyes tightly, the words of forgiveness soothing him. His first instinct was to pull away. He had to remain strong and not give in to his weaker emotions. But then he realized; he'd accepted Clark as his Verndari...as his Dominant...as the one to take care of him. There was no reason to 'act' strong with the other man if he felt like he was breaking inside. Slumping into Clark, he let his head fall to the Kryptonian's shoulder and just sobbed. The ache in his backside was a distant worry to how his heart hurt.
Clark tightened his embrace around Bruce, though he was very careful not to exert too much strength. His hand remained gently cupping his charge's head, even as he gently grasped Bruce's wrist with his other hand, thumb gently stroking over the pulse point. "I forgive you," he repeated. "I love you, little one. I have you."
Clark holding his head while rubbing his wrist aided in calming him down, but it was the words of forgiveness and love that had the most impact. Slowly, Bruce was able to stop crying, until eventually, he lay limp in Clark's arms, sniffling. "You're the best Verndari," he whispered. He still didn't feel able to say anything back about love, but his affection and caring were clear. "Even if you make my butt sore..." The last was said in a semi-teasing tone.
Clark smiled at the semi-teasing tone. "I'd rather give you a sore butt than have you risk yourself because you feel worthless," he said, his voice serious, still stroking his charge's wrist and the back of his head.
Bruce sighed softly and allowed himself to snuggle. "I don't feel so worthless now..." he admitted quietly.
"Good. I'll keep proving it to you, though. Every time you need me to, little one," Clark said softly. "I'm yours now and you're mine. My little one. My charge."
"Thank you, Sir..." Bruce whispered. He wondered how he had ever felt worthless when Clark cold see his worth so easily. Who else had he scared unnecessarily? He promised silently that he wouldn't take his own life for granted ever again. Clark would be happy with him, not scared for him. He shifted and winced at the sting that flared up. "I won't forget for a while." He smiled. He wondered if he shouldn't fix his clothes, but until Clark told him to do so, he was happy to remain sitting on his Dom's lap, even if he was still bare.
"Good," Clark replied, smiling at Bruce. "Are you ready to have some breakfast now?" He still held his charge's head and wrist, gently stroking and rubbing.
Bruce cuddled a bit more, not moving from Clark's grip. "Yes, sir," he said quietly, still waiting for some direction.
Clark gently replaced Bruce's clothing and then helped him to stand, wrapping his arm around Bruce's waist. "After we've eaten, it'll be time to take some more painkillers."
Bruce sighed, but didn't argue this time. He obviously hated taking the medicine, but it was also just as obvious that he wanted to try and cooperate as much as he was able. "I really don't like taking medicine," he admitted softly.
"I know. But I don't like seeing you in pain, little one," Clark said softly. "Even if I hadn't been the cause of some of those injuries...it would still hurt."
Bruce nodded. "I'll take the medicine, Sir..." he quickly agreed. "I... I don't want to worry or cause you to be upset or hurt..."
"If I'm upset or hurt, it's only because of how deeply I care about you." In the kitchen, Clark got out the fruit and a knife so his charge could cut up what he wanted to have in his pancakes, stroking over Bruce's wrist before he started to make the pancakes. "Even before this last twenty-four hours and making this commitment to you, I cared. But now, you're my little one. And that makes it more intense."
Bruce slanted his head as he began to cut the fruit. "Because now you're my protector, my Verndari...I guess that would make it a little personal and upsetting if I do things that make your job more difficult and act like I don't matter." He looked toward Clark sideways, almost bashfully. "I'll try to be good for you..." he whispered.
"I know, little one." Clark gently grasped his wrist. "But it isn't about you making my job difficult. It's about me taking care of you in the best possible way."
"That can't be easy if I'm difficult, though...and I know I can be very difficult." Bruce held still so his wrist would stay in Clark's grip. "I've been compared to animals other than a bat, more than once..." His voice was rueful.
Clark's thumb gently stroked over Bruce's wrist. "We'll work on those difficulties together. You told me that other people tried to change you and gave up. I won't give up on you," he said quietly. "There's another promise, little one. No matter what happens."
Bruce smiled faintly. "To be fair, the only one who really stood a chance at changing me was Alfred; and at his age, he's been more concerned with keeping me alive than anything. He'll be grateful that he'll have help in that now."
Clark smiled, still gently stroking. "Keeping you alive is the most important thing, little one, but this is also about helping you thrive." He let go of Bruce just long enough so they could finish the food, then took his charge's wrist so he could draw him over to the table and sit on the still-cushioned chair.
Bruce gingerly sat on the cushion, blushing faintly at the fact he needed a cushion, then waited for Clark to sit and begin eating. "I... I might be able to do that now..." he said quietly. It was hard to admit that he'd needed someone to step in, but he already felt much more settled and confident since Clark had taken charge, so he obviously had needed someone to step in. "Maybe...we could explain to Alfred? He worries...I know he does...but I haven't been able to ease his worry. If he knows you've...you're... maybe he'll be able to worry less..."
Clark moved his chair so that he was sitting that much closer to Bruce, giving his wrist a gentle, reassuring squeeze. "As long as you're okay with him knowing, little one, I am too. It'll be easier the less we have to hide. Easier for me to take care of you."
"I'm okay with him knowing..." Bruce quickly said. "...And...it will be easier not to hide things from him. Especially if...if..." He hesitated uncertainly.
"If what?" Clark gently pressed.
"if maybe...you and Lois came to the mansion to stay for a few days...or more..." Bruce's voice was still hesitant and a little hopeful. "...It's big enough that you could have your own wing and have time alone where I couldn't bother you if needed..."
Clark moved his hand to cup the back of Bruce's head, gently grasping his wrist with his other hand. "And if you needed me, I'd be there already. You wouldn't have to be alone. I'd prefer that, little one."
"You would?" Bruce looked up at that, smiling faintly. "I... I'd like if you were there. For as long as you wanted to be..." He stopped short of mentioning Clark just moving in permanently. The other man might not want to give up his own place; plus, he might want to move in with Lois eventually.
Clark smiled and wrapped his arms tightly around Bruce. "I'd like to be there. Close to you. As your Dom and as your friend," he said softly
Bruce couldn't help but respond to the hug, pressing tight against Clark and hiding his head under the other man's chin. "That's a relief..." he muttered softly. "...I... I think I'll do better if I'm not apart from you too often or for too long..." he admitted.
Clark cupped the back of Bruce's head with one hand, his other gently rubbing and stroking over his charge's back. "There'll be less of a chance for you to be 'naughty'," he said, deliberately using a more juvenile term.
Bruce couldn't help but snort faintly in amusement at the term. "I'm always naughty. That's part of my charm..." he teased.
Clark tightened his embrace. "Naughty in a bad way," he said, semi-jokingly, "will get you spanked." To emphasise his point, he patted Bruce's backside.
Bruce wiggled slightly as the patting set the stinging in his bottom to return. "I guess you can head me off at the pass, then..." He smiled.
"Exactly. And I can also be there for you," Clark added. "To make sure you know how much you're worth to me."
"That'd be good, Sir..." Bruce said deferentially. "...When we're in public...how...?" He fidgeted. It was one thing to give Clark complete control over him when in private; to call him Sir, or Verndari and submit in whatever way Clark asked. In public? He knew they'd have to act like they had prior to Clark taking him in hand. Or at least similar. But Bruce wasn't sure how he was going to flip back and forth between the two. What if it became confusing and he slipped up and deferred to Clark at the wrong moment outside? Or what if he failed to show proper respect while in private? He winced at the thought that he was going to screw things up and probably sooner than later.
"When we're in public, you react to me however you need to," Clark replied reassuringly. "I know it might be difficult to go from being my sub to acting otherwise in public...if it ever comes to a point that I need to pull you back, though, I can move us somewhere private. And it won't be a problem, to me, if you accidentally slip up when we're outside. I won't tolerate outright disrespect or breaking of our rules. Other than that, we'll see how it goes."
Bruce nodded. "That seems fair...I'll do my best not to break any rules or be disrespectful outside. Even if I argued a lot, I'd hope I wasn't terribly disrespectful before..."
"I don't blame you for arguing before," Clark said reassuringly. "If things go wrong, it isn't a bad thing. We can bounce back." Stroking the back of Bruce's head, Clark continued, "You carry a lot on your shoulders, little one. I don't want our relationship to be something else you have to worry about."
"I won't worry about it, then...you've got me. If I mess up, you'll catch me and set me right and it will be okay..." Bruce sighed softly. "I guess that's the way it should be, though...You have me. My Verndari."