A/N: So the idea for this fic came to me when I was just coming down from a few months long Star Wars high and suddenly really wanted to see Clark and Bruce deal with one of the most common tropes of the TPM fandom.
And darn it, I missed the actual holiday date again. Ah well... A very happy belated Valentine's Day to you all!
The planet Driri loomed before them, resplendent and jewel-like in the blackness of space. Kal knew he'd never get over the wonder of seeing planets like this, too fragile-looking to hold billions of lives, though the dappled blue, green and white of his adopted planet would always hold a special place in his heart.
"We've received permission to land," Bruce noted at his side.
"Thanks for agreeing to come on this mission by the way," Kal said.
Bruce shrugged. "Something this simple sounding? Something bad's bound to happen, especially with you involved. Just get me back in time for Valentine's Day, or whoever my fling of the week is is going to have my head."
Kal grinned. "The Batman, frightened by little Audrey Fontaine?"
"I don't know how you even manage to remember their names," Bruce growled good humouredly.
Kal thought about the pang that ran through him every time Bruce appeared on the tabloids with his new arm candy, whose smile was always either predatory or empty, Bruce's smile just as bland. He shrugged. "I just have a good memory."
Bruce glanced at him as the plane touched the landing pad, but obviously deciding not to push. "Come on," he said, sweeping out of the door to the waiting Dririans.
"Greetings, Superman and Batman," one of the Dririans said. "I am Ambassador Ramahi. We are honored by your presence at this day of rejoicing for us."
"Thank you for inviting us," Superman replied. "We are glad to be here."
"I am sure you are tired after your journey. Dahmi here will you show you to your rooms. There will be plenty of time to speak later after you have rested. As you know, the wedding isn't until tomorrow."
Dahmi, a quiet, reserved female, stepped forward. "Please, follow me," she said, leading them into the palace. They followed her past ornately sculpted pillars, beautiful gardens, and a delicious smelling corridor that could only lead to the kitchens. Kal eagerly anticipated the coming dinner. "Here we are," she said, as they stepped off the elevator. "Your code is 1090," she told them. One of the doors opened, revealing a luxuriously furnished sitting room with two bedrooms attached. "Please enjoy your stay. I will return in five hours to show you to tonight's feast." She bowed, leaving them in the spacious suite.
Bruce glanced at Kal and stepped out onto the balcony. Kal hesitated, and then joined him. He found him looking out over the mountains in the distance, crowned with white, at the faint salty breeze that blew in from the ocean not far away. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to put all the numerous things Superman constantly had to worry about to the back of his mind, letting himself enjoy the clean air and companionable silence. He sighed softly Bruce was looking at him when he opened his eyes again.
"What?" he asked, smiling slightly.
Bruce turned back to look at the scenery and then back to Kal. "It's just…a nice view," he said. His shoulders brushed Kal's as he headed back inside.
It was a lovely ceremony the next morning, short and private; there would be a public one in the planet's largest stadium later in the day. "That was nice," Kal commented as they returned to their rooms to rest for a few hours before the public afternoon wedding began. Bruce nodded his agreement, eyes flicking past every shadow as they walked through the halls filled with Dririans getting ready for the day's festivities.
In their room, Kal sat down on one of the comfortable couches. Bruce stretched, removed the cowl, and sat down next to him, surprisingly. Kal wasn't going to complain though. He pulled out the Drinian poetry book he had started yesterday night and began to read, the sound of Bruce's quiet breathing and steady heartbeat a soothing accompaniment to the intricately woven words.
He didn't know how much time had passed when Bruce's breathing changed. He looked up from his book to find Bruce looking at him, gaze soft and intense all at once. "I realized something," Bruce said, eyes stormy, voice low. "You—I—"
A faint sound of creaking reached his ears. "Ah—sorry," Kal said quickly and just managed to fly to the stadium in time to catch the massive canopy over the stage as it collapsed and fell towards the workers below. He obligingly held it in place as the workers got over their shock and secured it, the manager shouting apologies up at him. "I'm just glad no one got hurt," Kal replied affably. He just wished the timing wasn't so bad. Bruce had been about to say something to him, something important.
When he got back to their rooms, Bruce was cowled again. "Anyone injured?" he asked. Batman voice. The moment had passed.
Kal suppressed a sigh and answered with a shake of his head. Bruce's lips quirked up in a rare smile at the unspoken question. "We can talk after the wedding," he said.
The public wedding was just as nice as the private one, if louder and rowdier. Kal could hardly blame the people though. The prince was a popular man, kind and caring of his people. The king and queen looked on, smiling proudly as the High Priest spoke of love and compassion and togetherness. Then the newlyweds were kissing and the entire stadium erupted in cheers, echoed by the rest of the planet's citizens.
The people quieted though, when the High Priest held up a hand, signifying the start of the traditional Chant. Superman spoke the words he had memorized, hearing Batman do the same next to him, the foreign Drinian syllables rolling easily off his tongue. They were words of, like the wedding vows, love and friendship, and as the chanting grew louder, he could feel his heart beating faster and faster, as he thought of his friends and family, and especially the man who had stolen his heart, even if that man hadn't realized it yet. The chanting rose to a crescendo and then stopped. He turned to look at Batman, his heart full to bursting, ready to confess everything to him in that moment, but froze. Batman was gripping the handrails tightly, his entire frame trembling faintly. He felt a twinge of worry.
Superman barely managed to catch Batman as he collapsed onto the ground, clutching at his head.
The medical teams rushed to where Superman was holding Batman, the visible portion of his face scrunched up in a pained grimace. The pain must be staggering for him to lose control like that. He hadn't responded when Superman had called his name, just continued to grip his head. The healers took one look at Batman and paled, quickly pulling him onto a stretcher and loading him into the waiting vehicle.
"No, stop," a healer protested when Superman attempted to get to Batman. "Your presence might make things worse. Superman clenched and unclenched his fists.
"Come." Superman looked down to see the Drinian ambassador standing before him, looking shaken and apologetic. "I will show you to the healing wing."
They got into the car the ambassador called, never mind that Superman could have flown there in a second. They didn't speak on the ride over, the air heavy with the Drinian's guilt, but Superman couldn't bring himself to alleviate the tension, instead staring out the window at the partying people. He realized his hands were clenched into fists and forced himself to relax. When they arrived, Superman followed the man into the building without a word, sat down in the waiting room they directed him to, declined the offer of food and drink.
Finally, a Drinian dressed in healer's robes came out. "Batman is stable now," he said, but quickly held up a hand when Superman made to move past him. "Wait, there's something you must know."
He felt the dread begin to creep back from where the sharp tide of relief had washed it. "What's wrong?" he asked tersely.
"It seems as if he has been brainwashed."
"Okay," Superman said slowly. "What's his mental state then?"
The Drinian looked suddenly uncomfortable, but squared his shoulders and explained, "He thinks he's a pleasure slave."
There was a long moment of silence after that declaration.
Superman stared at the healer in consternation, positive that he had heard incorrectly. "Come again?" he asked politely. After all, there was no way—Batman couldn't possibly—
"Your friend has been brainwashed into thinking he's a pleasure slave," the healer said bluntly, only the slight twitching of his whiskers betraying his agitation. "Your pleasure slave, to be exact."
Superman felt horror begin creeping in on his shock. Batman was going to kill him when they got out of this mess.
"So how exactly did this happen?" Superman asked.
"We're not sure," Ramahi answered. "Our wisest Elders are deep in discussion about this unfortunate situation. Rest assured that we will find a solution or die trying."
Superman blinked at the solemn eyes that stared up into his. "Uh, I'm sure that won't be necessary," he said hastily. "But I would appreciate your Elders' help in solving this problem."
"We can do no less, seeing as it was our fault you are in this predicament. Please accept our humblest apologies for this oversight. We should have considered the possible side effects to the ceremony, rooted as they are in ancient spells, and with your alien physiologies." They stopped at the room they were keeping Batman in, his friend looking out of place on the bed, still fully armored. Believing that he was Superman's— As it had many times during the past few minutes, Superman's brain short circuited before he could finish the thought.
He sat down in the surprisingly comfortable chair someone had placed beside the bed. "We will leave you then," the ambassador said softly. "We will inform you as soon as we know anything." The door closed gently behind her and the healer.
Kal hesitantly placed a hand on Bruce's arm, taking comfort in the fact that the doctors had said he was stabilized, at least. He was unprepared when Bruce turned his head to look at him at his touch. Instantly, he stood up, leaning over his friend. "How are you feeling?"
Bruce brought an arm up to touch his head, mouth turned down in a slight grimace. "Bruce?" Kal said, worried, but feeling a stir of hope. Maybe the Drinians were wrong. Maybe there was nothing wrong with Bruce.
"Fine," Bruce said, terse as always, and that was all the warning Kal got before Bruce had him pinned to the wall, kissing him with furious abandon. When a hot tongue began probing insistently at his closed lips, Kal grasped his remaining wits and pushed Bruce gently away. Bruce relaxed in his grip, looking at him from under lowered lashes—or he would be, if he hadn't been wearing the cowl. Kal knew the look well, had seen Bruce direct it at a countless number of people. And now at himself.
"Uh," Kal said, still dazed from the kiss. He shook himself. "Bruce—"
"Yes, Master?" Bruce asked. Kal felt his heart plummet at the words, and then steeled himself. This wasn't really Bruce.
"Can you just…um. Sit on the bed please," Kal said. "And don't call me Master."
Bruce sat as requested, thankfully, and tilted his head. "What should I call you then, Master?"
Kal sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Kal. My name is Kal," wondering if Bruce had memory loss as well.
"I'm not calling you by your name," Bruce said. Kal opened his mouth to argue, but recognized the mulish set of his jaw from all the times Batman and Superman had nearly come to blows at League meetings. There was no changing the man's mind when he was like this unless he wanted it changed. He heaved a sigh. Bruce seemed to take his silence as agreement because he leaned back against the headboard with a smug smile on his face that quickly turned seductive. Kal felt a shiver run through him at the sight of a fully costumed Batman smirking at him like that.
Unfortunately, Bruce's powers of perception were still excellent as always, and Kal found himself looking down at Bruce kneeling at his feet. "Ah, that's…no, stop that," he managed as Bruce began rubbing the side of his head gently against his crotch.
"Mm," Bruce said happily. "You smell good."
Kal hauled him upright and pushed him back down onto the bed when he leaned in for a kiss.
"Not right now," he said, as firmly as he could manage. "Tell me what you remember," he said before Bruce could ask him why.
"You are my Master and I am your pleasure slave," Bruce said. At Kal's frown, he began to repeat. "You are my—"
Kal held up his hand. "No, there's really no need to repeat it. You don't remember anything else?"
Bruce thought for a little. "You're Superman!" he finally exclaimed.
Kal grinned. Finally, they were getting somewhere. "Yes I am. Do you know who you are?"
"Yes," Bruce said, and then dashed Kal's hopes by continuing with, "I am your pleasure slave."
Kal really hated magic sometimes.
The healers released Bruce into his care the next afternoon, the ambassador showing up briefly after Superman had gotten him back to the rooms to inform him of what the Elders had discovered so far. She looked harried.
"It seems that the strength of your love combined with your Kryptonian physiology caused the faint residue of magic in the chant to awaken," she said, oblivious to how Superman gaped a little at the words. Love. But he didn't— Sure, there'd been an attraction, a spark of something, a potential, but love? Was it that obvious?
"So how do we reverse the effects?" Superman asked, hoping furiously that it was possible. He could just imagine what the League would say if they found out. And Rao, Bruce's family. Not to mention his public identity. This was a disaster.
"They are not sure yet," she admitted. "But they are still searching. They do need time to rest though. It is not without reason that they are called the Elders."
"Yes, of course," Superman said, feeling a little guilty that his thoughts were consumed with Bruce's situation. "I greatly appreciate their help."
Ramahi smiled at him a little and bowed, leaving Superman alone in the rooms with Batman. Who was nowhere to be found.
Superman bit back a curse. He quickly scanned all the rooms—X-ray vision really was useful sometimes—but he was forced to conclude that Bruce had vanished. He frowned when he felt a light breeze on his face. He'd closed the curtains before he'd gone to collect Bruce. The curtains were missing. He walked out onto the balcony and looked up, eyeing the stone statues and carvings that adorned the palace exterior. Rooftops. Right.
Kal floated up to the roof and listened carefully. The sounds of the still ongoing celebration dimmed and the world narrowed to the thump thumpheartbeat of one man, a familiar, comfortable sound. Kal was there in a second, tense, wondering if Bruce was going to jump him again.
Bruce looked up, his eyes finding Kal's the instant Kal alighted next to him, then dropping back down. He still had all of Batman's instincts, judging by his reflexes and how he had managed to climb to the uppermost section of the roof. That was just what Kal needed. A possibly sex-crazed Batman on the loose. He resolved to watch him more closely in the future.
"What are you doing, Bruce?" Kal asked, eyeing the cloth spread out all around him in a black silken mass. The curtains.
"Making robes, Master," Bruce replied, not looking up from his work.
Kal blinked. "Why?"
Bruce fumbled for something next to him. A needle, glinting in the sunlight. He threaded it with infinite care, before replying. "It's what a pleasure slave is expected to wear."
"What?" Kal said.
Bruce blinked up at him, mouth set in an annoyed line, another expression Kal recognized. "I will not dishonor you by wearing this armor. I am not a bodyguard," Bruce explained, his tone a touch condescending. Then his smile took on a wicked edge. "Also the robe has easy access."
Kal blinked again and then turned red. "Can you come down from the roof at least?" Kal said, trying to steer the conversation towards something useful.
"I like it here," Bruce said, settling into a crouch, cape gathered around him like a pool of darkness. As if this were any other time Superman and Batman had chatted on a rooftop. Kal felt another leap of hope in his chest. Bruce was still in there, somewhere. Had to be. Kal just needed to jog his memory.
"Come with me. I have something to show you," Kal said, putting as much authority as he could in his voice.
Bruce looked him up and down, lingering on the places where his skintight costume left nothing to the imagination. "I'll bet you do," he said.
"Not that," Kal sighed.
Bruce stared at him, calculating. "I'll come with you for a kiss."
Kal swallowed, feeling Bruce's eyes on his throat as he did. "Fine," he said, and leaned down to brush one across his Bruce's lips, wanting to make it last but feeling a surge of guilt at the thought. Bruce didn't have a choice in the matter. The thought burned and he stepped back. Bruce licked his lips and scooped up the ragged pieces of curtain, following him back to their balcony. He was as graceful as ever as he dropped down onto it, lightly and lithe as a cat.
Kal floated in after him and found Bruce stripping off his armor. There was a flash of pale skin and a swirl of black and Bruce stood before him in the robe he had made. He looked soft and deadly, all at once, Kal thought. He hadn't been sure what to expect when Bruce had told him they were pleasure slave robes, but thank whatever gods were listening that it wasn't—wasn't what? His mind helpfully supplied an image of Bruce in Princess Leia's golden slave girl costume and he choked, hurriedly shutting down that line of thought.
He cleared his throat and Bruce looked up at him questioningly, cowl in his hand. He picked up the carelessly discarded belt and opened one of the containers, dumping out its contents. A torn piece of cloth, a lock of hair, a coin blackened on one side. A pearl. Things that reminded Bruce of why he went out night after night. The reason for Batman, who was as essential to Bruce as breathing. If anything could get Bruce to shake it off, it was this collection.
"Bruce?" Kal asked softly when Bruce didn't say anything, just stared blankly at the small pile of seemingly random objects. His eyes glimmered with something. Pain. Fear. Confusion. But no recognition.
Kal slowly put the tokens away, gently, carefully, hearing Bruce's heartbeat slow, even out to normal.
When he looked at Bruce again, he had put on a black domino mask, edges adorned with black lace. On the curtain, it had looked slightly tacky. On Bruce— his fingers reached out to brush the edge of it before he realized what he was doing. Bruce's eyes closed and he made a contented humming sound, earlier panic completely gone. Kal stroked the side of his face, wanting to hear what other sounds Bruce could make. He wasn't disappointed, and suddenly he was threading his hands through soft black hair and his lips were on Bruce's and Bruce was groaning deliciously, grinding shamelessly against him.
There was a knock on the door and Bruce peeled himself away, leaving Kal wild eyed and panting. His brain finally caught up with the rest of his body and he sat down, hard, as he dimly heard Bruce talking to someone at the door. Rao, what did I just do? He thought about what Bruce would say when he regained his mind and felt cold.
"We can't do… what we were doing, Bruce," Kal said, when Bruce reappeared.
"Why not? You seemed to enjoy it," Bruce said.
"It's not right," Kal snapped and immediately regretted it when Bruce's eyes flashed briefly with hurt.
There was an uncomfortable silence, and then Bruce offered, "I ordered some food for you earlier. Are you hungry, Master?"
Kal started to tell him he didn't need to serve him like that, but then realized he was famished. He sighed. "Thank you, Bruce," he said. "You don't have to do that though."
"It's my duty to take care of any and all appetites you may have," Bruce said blandly, and ducked out of the room. Muttering to himself, Kal followed.
It was a simple spread, but obviously carefully prepared. Candles cast a soft glow over the room. Bruce appeared, carrying a bottle of wine. Kal sat down and Bruce, with a brief moment of indecision, pulled up a chair next to him. They ate silently, Bruce's hands twitching every so often like he wanted to feed Kal pieces of the food or something, but holding back. Kal was pleased; maybe the real Bruce was getting back in control. "What is this?" Kal asked finally, biting an odd looking fruit. "It's delicious."
Bruce shrugged. "I don't know what it's called. It just looked good to me on the menu," he said. "I just had a feeling you might like it."
They cleared up the table, Bruce looking slightly disapproving of Kal helping, but just gently bumping Kal's shoulder instead of protesting. They worked side by side, washing and drying the dishes in the suite's small kitchen until all the dishes were neatly stacked.
Kal yawned as he put away the last dish. Bruce disappeared into the living room and when Kal followed, there were faint strands of notes filling the air. It reminded him faintly of Tchaikovsky and he sat down on the couch and closed his eyes a little, letting the music wash over him, exotic and comfortable at the same time, let it ease some of the stress out of him. "Thank you, Bruce," he said softly, when the song ended, and the opening notes of another began. He felt relaxed and sleepy, and didn't object when Bruce hesitantly sat next to him, his head falling on Kal's shoulder.
When Kal woke up, it was almost completely dark in the room. Bruce was curled around him, and Kal had wrapped an arm around him some time while they were sleeping. He wished for a moment that this was real, imagined that they were back home on Earth, in his Fortress, perhaps, unwinding after a difficult mission. They could lie on the sofa together as they were now, listening to music, kissing maybe.
He almost started when soft lips touched his at the thought, and he kissed back, chasing the taste of Bruce into his own mouth, enjoying how it opened for him, probing into the sinful heat. Their tongues brushed and he groaned, moving his hands over Bruce, all over the lace-lined used-to-be-their-curtain robe, and finding that Bruce had been right, there was easier access. He eyed the flat stomach covered delicately by that black lace, muscles taut with pleasure and need, realizing all of a sudden that he was hard, almost uncomfortably so, and that he was lying almost on top of Bruce, grinding down into his hips, and that they were both panting for breath, making little soft intimate noises as they moved together.
And that was when he realized how neatly he had fallen into Bruce's trap. "Stop," he gasped, furious with himself.
"Why?" Bruce growled, frustration evident in every line of his body. He looked down, his voice going soft. "Do you—am I not pleasing to you, Master?"
"No, no, it's not that," Kal assured him, trying to reorganize his thoughts. "You are very…pleasing…to me. I like you very much. That's why we can't do this." He groaned internally. How was he supposed to explain this to Bruce? Especially after—
He stood up abruptly. "I'm going to bed," he said.
"Can I come with you?" Bruce asked, almost too softly to be heard. At Kal's sharp look, he said, "I just don't want to be alone. I hate being alone." His eyes held a glimmer of the same look he'd worn earlier, looking at the contents of his belt. Haunted.
"Fine, then," Kal conceded, wondering if he was doing the right thing, even as Bruce joined him in the bed, and his breath evened out to sleep. Even as his heart was telling him that yes, this was right, this was perfect. But this wasn't real. The guilt kept him up the rest of the night.