Author: Blue Gold
Pairings: Clark/Lex, Clark/Bruce,
Summary: The world has changed; things will never be the same; or so everyone thinks. What happens when the world makes things right? Can enemies, lovers, and friends find their place again?
Disclaimer: I *sniff* do not any of the characters in this story
Spoilers: General All Episodes, Warnings: Angst,
Authors Notes: Incorporates aspects of DCU.
Mercy remained in the room as Lex smashed items in his rage. All his business dealings since Clark had reemerged in Metropolis had been on the right side of the law, though he had left bread crumbs to make them seem otherwise; but nothing was happening.
He was tempted to reveal the civilian identities of the Justice League, but it would do nothing to support his ‘greater than thou’ theory that he had been whispering in the ears of some. He was stuck; the league had even stopped their obvious tracking of Clark, or as far as he could ascertain stopped their twenty four hour tracking.
Queen’s bag of terrorist had decided to set up shop in Metropolis while Superman was “away” on top secret league business. He now had four idiots running around and more senior members of the league popping in at any random moment.
And Clark was the worst. He had yet to set up the second interview with Lex and seemed to live at the planet. It was clear that he no longer lived in Suicide Slums as he had done when he was the man of steel but where he had relocated to eluded Lex.
Taking a breath he looked at Mercy who was cowering in the corner without looking like she was. “A nine iron sir?”
“I was feeling nostalgic,” Lex said sweeping out of the room, hearing Mercy order cleaners even as she trailed behind him. “I want eyes on Clark Kent.”
“It’s difficult sir, every time we place someone on him the league returns as his shadows.”
“Track Lane and Sullivan, tap their lines if necessary. I want to force their hand. They will show their darker side, and the people will destroy the Justice League for me.”
“Where can he go?” Green Lantern asked as his ring shoved some debris in a corner.
“Well he can’t stay here, he was lucky those guys attacked the other side, if it had been a couple hours later they would have come in right under the sick bay. He would have never made it in space, us humans don’t do that well,” Flash responded.
“I would take him, but my home is not much better,” Wonder Woman said thinking of the small apartment Diana Prince rarely used.
“I will take him, even when I am absent he will be cared for,” Batman said pushing off the wall. “We should have never left him up here this long, the watchtower is constantly attacked. We were lucky this time.”
“Do you think it’s time we give up on that? Make him comfortable somewhere? He’s nothing more than a civilian, we could send him to one of those homes,” Green Lantern added.
“So you want to what; take him out back and shoot him?” Green Arrow snarled. “He’s no more use so get rid of him?”
“Look at this, he was a liability,” Green Lantern said gesturing the rubble. “It’s been six weeks, he’s not getting better, he’s not awake, and he’s completely human. He has no abilities-”
“And he will no longer be here, and no longer any of your concern,” Batman said strolling out of the room. Green Arrow followed him out dropping his broom.
“Where are you going?” Green Lantern asked.
“Us, weak humans have to stick together ring boy,” Green arrow snapped catching up to Bruce in the corridor. “So what’s the plan?”
“An obvious one,” Bruce said simply.
“Obvious? You’re not just taking him home fess up.”
“I finally have the artic coordinates,” Bruce admitted. “He never told them to me.”
“Do you think it can help him?”
“Advanced alien technology that makes the watchtower look like an abacus.”
“We have advanced alien technology,” Green Arrow pointed out.
“That can grow an entire compound, and detain the man of steel if it feels the need?”
“Hey Chloe, does C.K. seem different to you?” Jimmy asked as they sat down to lunch at an outside café.
“Are you kidding have you seen him?” Chloe asked.
“No I mean as a person, like something is missing? I don’t know, at first I thought he had been gone from the Planet so long he was trying to get back into the groove of things. But now I think it’s like…”
Chloe waited but when it seemed Jimmy wouldn’t continue she took his hand. “Like what?”
“Like he’s given up, not like suicide, but like nothing matters, his cancer is gone right?”
“Like he never had it,” Chloe said softly now more worried about her distant friend. Jimmy had the habit of being eerily perceptive when there was no romance involved.
She had spoken to Clark the day after he had returned to The Planet, after she had had herself a good cry. She had taken him out to dinner at a small Sushi place they had visited back in her budding reporter days.
“Remember this place?”
“Pouring over clues about a caped crusader in Gotham over edamame? How could I forget?” Clark said softly Chloe had been pleased to see he ordered as much as he used to, the small remnant of their past making her feel better.
It helped that the place was so private. It was safer than meeting in their homes, as they did not frequent it enough to merit bugging.
“So what happened?”
Clark looked up at her than and she had never seen her friend look so tired so beaten. “I’m human.”
“How else? Luthor,” Clark said with a roll of his eyes. “Gold Kryptonite.”
“Gold?” Chloe asked.
“As far as certain crusaders can tell it’s permanent. My body no longer, processes solar radiation the way it used to. I actually have to eat now,” Clark said with a shrug.
“So our primary colored friend…”
“Will never fly again,” Clark said.
“Is that why you’re…”
“Trying for the runway?” Clark said with a short laugh. “I’m not really human, and my body doesn’t know how to be. The human body is amazingly efficient at processing food. Mine doesn’t do so well, I have to consume a lot more to make it up. Our favorite heroes after some practice worked out a diet for me. Meals and protein shakes, but I’ll never be much bigger than I am now.”
“Oh my God Clark.”
“It’s okay, I’ve gotten used to it. You shouldn’t worry about me,” Clark said easily.
“What about the fortress?” Chloe asked.
“I haven’t tried since I woke up but it wouldn’t let Batman take me inside. Whatever was in my system scared it.”
“Don’t you think you should try?” Chloe asked.
“The cave is shut.”
“What do you mean?”
“Everything remotely Kryptonian is gone from the caves the passage is gone,” Clark explained smiling as a plate of edamame was placed between them.
“What?!” Chloe exclaimed.
“The fortress doesn’t want me coming back Chloe, I don’t know what happened really when Bruce went but he’s just not willing to take me there again. And I really don’t have the means for a secret artic trip.”
Chloe sat back pondering this biting her lip. “Clark I-”
“No,” Clark said his expression frigid. “Don’t even think about it.”
“I mean it Chloe.”
“I’ll go swimming in Crater Lake.”
“Are you sure this is the right…Sweet Jesus,” Green Arrow exclaimed looking up from where he saw the fortress shining in the light. The bright light that now seemed to be focused on them. “Uh Bats…”
“I see it,” Batman growled as the ship was enveloped in a glowing light.
A man appeared in the ship looking like an older Clark and both men stared, the third remained blissfully unconscious.
“Kal-El is beyond the aid of Krypton, you will not be allowed further.”
“You have to help him!” Green Arrow exclaimed. “We didn’t come all this way for nothing.”
“You humans are resourceful, he has chosen to defend you, now that he is weak defend him.”
“He hasn’t even woken up,” Green Arrow said in despair.
“He will, in three of your planets rotations, do not return, he will not be allowed into the fortress.”
“Fine,” Batman said shortly. The light vanished along with the ship and when the brightness cleared they were hovering over the Gotham River.
“How could you agree like that? I thought you said it was his only chance?”
“One, it couldn’t help him.”
“How do you know? It knew when he would wake up.”
“An advanced scanner of some sort; two, I am not going to fight with a technology that can incapacitate Superman when he is at full strength. And for Artificial Intelligence it can’t mask fear.”
“It feared Clark was contagious.”
“It can be affected by kryptonite?”
“Only Clark knows for sure, but as it is from the same place I would assume it is a valid explanation.”
Oliver was silent as he processed this before looking at Clark, his hand reaching to stroke the tousled hair when the plane dived suddenly and he heard water striking the plane.
“A little warning would be nice,” Oliver said with a sigh.
Batman didn’t respond as the ship powered down and the lights came up in the cave. Ollie whistled as he caught sight of the tools that put the watchtower to a bit of shame. Finally Oliver looked at Batman and smiled.
“We have a better view.”
Batman said nothing as he pressed a series of buttons on the control panel and Clark’s bed detached from the ship and carefully hovered down the stairs into the cave.
Clark rinsed out his mouth in the bathroom of the earthbound Watch Tower. Oliver’s apartment when he was in Metropolis. After slowing down for the last month his vomiting had increased. He could only guess it was because he was more active now than he had been at the farm. While he wasn’t doing half as much as he used to when running around with Lois he was overdoing it a bit.
“You said the vomiting had slowed.”
Clark didn’t bother to hide his shock, he hated the fact that Bruce could sneak up on him like that. Superman had not been any better at hearing the hero approach.
“You could knock,” Clark said looking Bruce through the mirror, and ignoring the question.
“Would you have let me in?”
“Who would have been at the door?”
Bruce pulled off the cowl, “We are one and the same.”
Clark snorted, “And I can fly.”
“The vomiting Clark,” Bruce said arms crossed and Clark finally turned pushing past the imposing man and into the main room of the apartment.
“It’s gotten a little worse since I went back to the Planet,” Clark finally admitted sitting down on the couch.
“What’s a little worse?” Bruce asked with a scowl.
“Maybe twice a day ever few days, it’s only been a couple weeks once I get used to it, it will slow down again.”
“The human body-”
“Stop right there, despite appearances and little gold rocks, I never have and never will be human, I am just a bad copy.”
“Come back to Gotham, Luthor is up to something.”
“He wants me to interview him, after the last one he can email me his next interview if he wants that joke to continue. I have better things to do with my time.”
“Like go to gay clubs?”
“One that was Lois’ idea and I haven’t even…how do you know about that?”
“Luthor tapped her phone; I’ve since blocked the connection.”
“Damn it Bruce, I told you, I need to do this with out the JLA being my shadows. I just want to have a regular life,” Clark said standing and Bruce entered into his personal space face less than an inch from his own.
“You will never have a normal life with Luthor feeling that you are his favorite experiment. He wants something from, you. If you insist on staying in Metropolis right under his thumb, I will be here.”
Clark stared into the fierce blue eyes, and couldn’t help the smile that curled the corner of his mouth moments before Bruce closed the small distance with his lips. Clark’s hands went to Bruce’s waist, touching the utility belt which brought him crashing back to reality.
Pulling back, Bruce moved with him not allowing the kiss to end, and Clark put a hand on Bruce’s chest and pushed lightly. The man quickly got the hint, his fingers coming out of Clark’s hair and taking a step back.
He pulled his cowl back on, the slight swell of his lips the only thing giving what had just happened away. A different person was standing before Clark now. The Bruce Clark knew was some hybrid of the playboy and hero, and times like this he wondered if it was yet another mask.
“We’re staying until Luthor is dealt with,” Batman said and Clark sighed adjusting his sweats. When he looked up Bruce was gone and he sighed. He supposed Lex should be happy Bruce had a no killing policy.
“I don’t need babysitters,” Clark muttered into the night air.
“Jesus Bart!” Clark exclaimed looking at the red clad teen. Bart was around the apartment in a blink before he was standing before Clark again.
“You my man are bug free,” he said slipping something into his jacket pocket. “So help a brother out.”
“What is up with this Jimmy guy?” Clark stared at Bart and shook his head as the elevator opened and Oliver stepped into the apartment.
“Hello, Clark,” he said stepping aside as A.C., Victor and a teen that was completely green and not J’onn in his true form. He saw that they were loaded down with pizza boxes and bags and figured they were here to say for a while.
“Hey guys,” Clark says eyes settling on Beast Boy. “Clark Kent.”
“Gar, code name Beast Boy,” he said with a smile.
“Beast Boy?” Clark asked confused. Gar smiled and transformed into a mouse, dog, horse and hawk in rapid succession. “Oh.”
“Yeah, I heard you got powered down, that must suck,” Gar said in sympathy.
Clark shrugged. “Our boy scout has been sadly grounded,” Bart said with a sigh.
“Yes, someone thought it was funny,” Clark said glaring at Oliver.
“Well, I had never met such a goody two shoes in my life,” Oliver said with a sigh. “Now the pizza is getting cold. And Clark has been spending all his time with women, that can’t be good for him.”
Clark watched them set up and wondered if this was Chloe’s, Bruce’s or Oliver’s idea. He knew he had been isolating himself from the group and others and had only met with the team once to discuss his regular patrol patterns minus Gar.
This was a blatant attempt to get him to socialize, and include him with the others. He knew Oliver meant well but after the third glare at Bart who was actually the only one Clark felt was acting normal towards him. Everyone else was afraid he would fall apart at the mention of a patrol.
Poor Gar was simply confused, though he clearly understood he was missing something, so much so that he followed Clark into the kitchen when he escaped to get more ice.
“I’ve noticed they care more about you loosing your powers than you do.”
Clark smiled, “Yeah never thought I would be happy to have Bart be so annoying.”
“He’s smarter than they give him credit for,” Gar said calmly. “Why aren’t you more bothered by this?”
“It isn’t the first time it happened, and as I haven’t been shot a day later I think I am doing well.”
“So you’re powers will come back?” Gar asked.
“Not likely, those circumstances don’t exist anymore,” Clark said vaguely thinking of the fortress that he could no longer access. “And not trying on dying again to see if it might work.”
“I’m not sure actually, I was shot, then my body disappeared. When I woke up I was powered up again.”
“What were your powers?”
Clark looked at Gar a moment and then decided that there was no point in keeping the secret. He wasn’t getting his powers back; his worst enemy already knew who he was. And Gar had gotten the seal of approval from the entire team.
“Well, I could fly, I was really strong, fast, could shoot fire from my eyes, x-ray vision, mostly invulnerable-”
“No way…No way! You…you…”
“Stood for Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” Clark was amused to learn that being green did not stop you from paling.
“Superman?” Clark nodded. “I…wow…wait a minute! I’ve seen Superman, he was much bigger than you! And taller,” Gar said crossing his arms.
Clark laughed, “Okay you got me.” He said leading him back into the other room.
“Can you believe this joker? He tried to get me to believe he was Superman.” Clark rolled his eyes, at the moment of silence followed by the most pathetic faked laughter he had ever heard.
“How do you guys keep a secret?” Clark asked grabbing the last slice of meat lovers’ pizza.”
“Wait! He is?” Gar said looking slightly faint as he collapsed besides Victor. “Superman is the guy who you could never get to join the team?”
Bart was at his side in an instant. “It’s okay, we knew him when he was nothing but a silly little farm boy and his biggest problem was Lex Luthor. Hmm, I guess not much has changed,” he added grinning.
Clark held out a slice of vegetarian delight to Gar as a peace offering. And with a slight shake in his hand he accepted it. “You okay?”
“Yeah…it’s just wow.”
“I’m just a regular guy.”
“No, he would have said that before too,” Oliver said with a shake of his head.
Clark smiled, feeling as if a tension of the night had been lifted and instead settled to watch the rest of the Bourne trilogy. Even as they made comments on how things could be done easier, faster, or better.
Clark laughed along throwing in comments of his own, ignoring the glances Gar was still throwing at him every now and then as if he would sprout a cape and dive off the balcony.
Clark blinked dazed, slowly coming aware to the world around him. Blinking he tried to make sense of the blurs of color he was seeing. It seemed familiar but the last time he had woken up in a place that looked like this he had been a teenager. Putting him to bed seemed low on the list of things Lex would do for him.
“You’re awake good.”
That voice Clark would recognize anywhere; Clark sat up and instantly regretted the decision. The room spun, and his stomach lurched. He felt the basin suddenly in his lap and he gratefully emptied the contents of his stomach.
Clark looked at the blurry form of Batman wiping his mouth for him before holding a glass to his lips. He gargled the first sip of water before swallowing the next. He looked over at Bruce trying to understand what was wrong.
Rubbing his eyes as the bowl was taken away the lights in the room were suddenly dimmer. “Better?”
“…” Shaking his head instead he attempted to clear his throat. There wasn’t so much as a squeak. Clark gestured for a pen. These were slipped into nerveless fingers and he realized for the first time how weak he actually was.
Eyes wide Clark began to take stock of his body. He felt a weakness he hadn’t felt since he had contracted that meteor laced spore flu.
“Just talk, I can read lips.”
“I can’t see,” Clark mouthed.
“You were tracking my movements,” Batman pointed out.
“I recognize your voice, I can’t see you clearly.”
“Corrective lenses then and the rest of you?”
“Weak, like when I had the flu,” Clark said still, not making a sound.
“You’ve had the flu?”
“Kryptonite infected strain. Where am I?”
“Gotham, Wayne Manor.”
“Oh, how long have I been out?”
“What is the last thing you remember?”
“Luthor had Kryptonite on me, he took it away and I was reaching for the teleporter when he opened another box. It felt,” Clark shut his eyes. “What did it do?”
“You’re human; you react to solar radiation like any normal person.”
Clark lowered his head thinking about this and finally looked up at Bruce not realizing he was smiling. “Really?”
“Yes, there is no indication that your body is reverting to its original state.”
“Master Bruce, I have brought some light broth, for Mr. Kent and some tea.”
“Thank you Alfred,” Bruce said accepting the tray. He placed it on a stand, similar to those you would find in a hospital and watched as Clark tracked his movements unconsciously squinting to get a better view of the tray.
Bruce watched the focus it took to grasp the spoon, silver on a silver tray, and made a note to mention that to Alfred for the next meal. Remembering the pen incident he watched as Clark’s shaking fingers dropped the spoon twice before interfering.
“Let me, you should be able to do this in a couple days, despite how long you have been out your body does not show many signs; for example you have lost little weight for someone who has been on a liquid diet.”
Clark nodded and opened his mouth when the spoon neared; now acutely aware of his hunger. The feeding seemed to go well, and Clark was attempting a vague approximation of thanks when it happened. His stomach clenched. He was doubled over and vomiting onto his place setting.
He continued to dry heave, even as the sheets and setting were taken away. With his limited vision never noticing the look of concern shared between Bruce and Alfred.