Batman didn't cry. Bruce Wayne did.
Bruce, the little boy who couldn't save his parents. Or his best friend. Or his lover. Bruce was the one staring down into the Gotham night, tears running down his face. Batman was the one keeping the scared little boy from sobbing. Batman was the one who kept it together. Even though he could hear Clark in the back of his mind, his strong deep voice and the husky dying whisper,
"You don't always have to be strong."
The first time they met was a blur of flashing bulbs and heated glares. If only the tall dark haired man had known it was not Lois Lane that he was looking at. The build, the eyes, the face all seemed too distinctly familiar. Even the clumsy act did not fool the world's greatest detective. Following the man home had proved it. This was the "man of steel." And then Bruce had tumbled through the window.
And remembered that 'Superman' had X-ray vision.
The first time they really met was over drinks at one of Bruce's charity galas. Batman scrutinised everything that Clark did while Bruce just padded over to make conversation. Bruce had taken him to a back room where they began to talk. About everything and nothing. Neither Bruce nor Batman could remember such a stimulating conversation. This somehow led to making out. Clark was nervous and Batman savoured every moment, especially the look on Clark's face when he asked him to come upstairs.
Three Months later.
They had gone from shy rooftop meetings at midnight, Clark speeding back to metropolis at the first cry of trouble, to weekends in Bruce's penthouse. It still made Bruce smile to think that the man of steel was a farm boy at heart, so shy and nervous when anyone even mentioned sex. Bruce loved making him smile, that perfect smile with the sweaty strands of hair falling into the flushed face. Clark was always top, because Batman (maybe Bruce too) needed it to hurt. Even when Clark was gentle, he would get excited and not control his strength, too lost in throws of ecstasy. And after a while he wouldn't stop when Bruce started to scream.
Waking up next to Clark was an incredible experience. After Rachael died Clark hardly left his side. It saved both Batman and Bruce to have those strong arms wrapped around him, that gentle breath in his ear. And he could tell that it amazed Clark to wake up in a fancy penthouse. And even though there was a butler, Clark would always make him breakfast.
Bruce knew he should have stayed that night. Batman knew duty was more important. Neither could get the look on Clark's face out of their head. Clark knew what he was going to do, what was going to happen to him. And he was going to do it anyway, because he had that over-inflated desire to do the right thing. Neither Bruce nor Batman could stop him at this point, even if he did know what was going on. He should have suspected it when Clark was the one crying when they made love, not him. And when he said his real name. Bruce had moaned 'Clark' and Clark had stopped him with a finger on his lips, whispering "my name is Kel-El."
Batman still mentally slapped Bruce for getting into an argument that night. Over three little words, too. Bruce told himself it was Clark's fault. Clark brought it up.
After they were finished, Clark had gotten up and went to the balcony to start putting on his suit. Bruce walked over and wrapped his arms around him, making up his mind to take the suit off again. Clark stiffened. And had gotten tenser as Bruce lay his lips on his neck.
"What's with you." Bruce whispered, hands ghosting across the front of Clark's strong muscular body. Clark sighed.
"It's been three months. I've told you my real name. And you still haven't said it." Clark grabbed one of Bruce's hands and ran his thumb over the knuckles.
Bruce snickered. Bad move. "Said what?"
"You know what I mean Bruce." Clark turned around, pouting. "I need to hear it."
"Why? They're just words, Clark."
Clark's pout morphed into a frown. "You know they're not just words, Bruce. I've said it to you. I've even said it to Jimmy." Batman growled slightly. "Why won't you say it to me?"
"I can't Clark. Kel-El. You know I can't." Bruce's throat began to hurt and he felt his face turn red and tingly. Clark pulled Bruce close.
"It's okay." He whispered. But they all knew it wasn't. Batman got dressed and left for patrol.
Wayne Corp. didn't sponsor Lex Corp. anymore.
When the stockholders complained because Lex Luthor's public status was rising and his commercial property was making ridiculous profits, Bruce Wayne sat stoically and ignored it. Fox tried to get his attention, tried to explain the situation to the stubborn billionaire, but Bruce would not budge. He would just play with the tie around his neck, circling it around his fingers and tightening it and loosening it. Like a noose. Alfred watched from the corner, noting the tie. He sighed, laying his head in his palm. It had been three months. And Bruce still wore Clark's favourite tie.
Bruce had been on a date that night. Not really a date, a keeping up appearances type thing. The phone had kept ringing. He hadn't recognised the number. It was only when he had dropped Candy or Vicky or whatever her name was off when he picked it up.
"Master Bruce? You finally picked up." There was no hint of Alfred's usual droll wit in his tone. Bruce swallowed a lump in his throat.
"What is it?"
At the time of the call, Alfred was watching the batcave's TV. The phone shook in the old butler's hands as he struggled to find the words to explain what he was seeing. "It's Clark." On the other end, Bruce's car slammed to a halt. "He…he's falling, Bruce. Oh my god, he's falling."
It didn't take Bruce a minute to get to the batcave.
In that minute, his best friend passed away on impact.
It was a week later. Batman looked over the tapes again and again. He hadn't believed Alfred. But the evidence was right in front of him.
He hadn't believed it either when Bruce checked his phone a week later and found 11 missed calls. Alfred claimed to have made only ten. And left no voice messages.
Now he could piece it all together.
Clark had screamed for him as he fell, the kryptonite embedded in his heart. Had screamed "I love you."
And the voice message played over and over in Bruce's mind as he broke down crying, preparing for that year's fundraiser.
"You don't always have to be strong."