It's obvious from the first moment Clark meets Dick that the kid has a good amount of hero worship going on for Superman.
He knows before then, actually. He knows when Batman sits down next to him for monitor duty on the Watchtower and explains that Robin would like to meet Superman, if Clark is open to the possibility. The offer is made awkwardly and in stilted words in the way personal conversations always seem to make Bruce, especially when regarding the man's ward.
Clark's been wanting to meet Robin too, ever since Bruce Wayne (very publicly) took in Dick Grayson, and Robin showed up at Batman's side. But he hasn't wanted to press, because Bruce has been extremely protective of the boy. An understandable reaction, and actually very sweet. So Clark's been giving his friend time, sure that eventually Bruce would make the introduction.
Seems now is the time, and it makes Clark smile.
They meet in costume, which Clark knows is Bruce's safety net for the whole interaction. Makes it less personal, less intimate. Less area for things to go wrong. Easier to pull back when on a rooftop than in a sitting room at the Manor. If this meeting goes well, the next one (surely at least a month from now, knowing Bruce) will be as civilians.
Clark can see Batman and Robin for a long while before he actually lands on the Gotham skyscraper that Batman's chosen for this meeting. Batman is as still and quiet as ever—save the way his heart is just a bit faster than normal—but the boy with him is in constant motion; walking across the roof on his hands, doing cart wheels along the ledge that make Bruce's muscles tense, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he scans the night sky.
He's adorable, Clark can think of no other word for him. In his stoplight-colored outfit, with his face still pudgy with baby fat, with his excited energy but steady heartbeat—he's just a really cute kid. Clark's seen him sans mask in the papers and knows he's just as adorable there as he is here, even if the fancy clothes Bruce puts him in make him seem older.
Clark can tell the moment both of them spot him. Batman takes a slow, deep breath and releases it for the same count; he's nervous, Clark knows. He already loves this boy like his own son, and though he trusts Clark with his life, he doesn't yet trust Clark with his heart. That's okay; they have time.
Robin, when he spots him—three seconds later than Batman, but still impressive for human eyesight—goes still for all of one moment before his heart is a jackhammer in his chest, his fingers twitching at his sides, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet.
Clark touches down with a kind smile, offering Batman a brief, reassuring look before turning his attention to the young boy practically vibrating by his father's side.
"Hello," Clark says. "You must be Robin. It's very nice to meet you."
Robin breaks out into a blinding grin, wide enough that it must hurt his face, and bounds forward a few steps. Batman's arms twitch like he wants to reach out and keep the boy at his side, but ultimately makes no move to do so.
"It's nice to meet you too," Robin says, still grinning. "Wow, hi. It's, uh, really nice to meet you. Which...I already said, but, yeah."
Behind him, Batman snorts. It's quiet enough that Clark only picks up on it because of his superhearing, but Robin's head whirls around to glare at his partner anyway. Batman's lips twitch in a way that shows he'd be smirking if not in the cowl, and Clark marvels at it for a moment; it seems that even in such a short time, this boy had already been very good for Bruce.
"You've been doing good work," Clark says kindly, drawing Robin's attention back to himself. Any irritation on his face melts away, and he beams at Clark, straightening with pride. "I think Batman's gotten even better at his job since you came around."
Batman makes a quiet, exasperated noise, but he's relaxed now, his heartbeat normal, and it makes Clark happy to see that he's eased the man's worries about this meeting.
Robin doesn't seem to notice his mentor's response this time, instead turning red and grinning at Clark like he just made his whole week. "Thank you! That—that means a lot, coming from you. I'm—well, I think you do good work, too. Great work."
The kid is too freaking cute. No wonder he's got Batman wrapped around his finger; with time, he'll have them all.
"I appreciate that," Clark says.
"I was wondering—" Robin starts, and then stops. Takes a short breath, like steeling himself. Behind him, Batman tenses reflexively. Robin continues, "I was wondering if I could ask you a question or two? I—there are some things I'm curious about."
Clark's eyebrows go up. When he flicks a quick look to Batman, the other man doesn't seem to know what Robin's planning on asking about.
"Shoot," Clark agrees.
Robin grins. "Great!
"Are you really an alien, or is that just a cover to protect your secret identity? Because that would be a pretty cool cover; no one's looking for a secret identity if they just think you're an alien without one. And is kryptonite really your weakness, or just a front to set people at ease by showing you're not completely invulnerable? That's pretty sad if it is your weakness, that pieces of your home planet are the only things that can hurt you. And how do all your powers work? When you fly is it like walking for you, your brain sending signals to your body to respond, or do you have to consistently focus on keeping yourself in the air?"
He stops and draws in a breath, and Clark blinks at him, surprised. Behind him, Batman seems equally as flabbergasted by the outburst, though his is definitely tinged with exasperation. The kind Clark has seen on countless parents when their child starts doing something odd or embarrassing.
"I am really an alien," Clark confirms. "I come from Krypton, just like Lois Lane reported. Kryptonite really does hurt me, and...yes, I suppose it is sad." He's never really thought about that aspect before. Trust a kid living with Batman to be the one to point something like that out. "My powers work the same way anything else in my body works; the way you lift your arms or wiggle your toes, I can use heat vision or fly."
To demonstrate, he lifts off, hovering about a foot over the roof. Robin's eyes go wide like he hadn't just seen Clark arrive via flying, mouth forming a silent 'Wow'.
"That's amazing," Robin says, voice hushed and tinged with awe. "Flying's the most spectacular thing."
He was an acrobat, Clark remembers suddenly. He performed on a trapeze with his family. Everyone who saw him said he was incredibly skilled, the best in a long time. Olympics-worthy, if the kid wanted to go that route. He must love being up in the air.
"I could take you flying," Clark offers, and Robin's head snaps up to look at him, eyes growing even wider, lips beginning to curl up in a wide grin. Clark glances at Bruce, who is tense now. "If it's okay with Batman, that is."
Robin spins on his heels, looking at Batman beseechingly. "Oh, please, B? Please, can I go? Please?"
Batman purses his lips and sends Clark a flat look, but he does nod tightly. "Alright. No more than an hour."
Robin cheers, grinning, and then turns back to Clark, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Awesome! Let's go!"
Clark can't help but smile back at him, his enthusiasm contagious, and then kneels down, nodding Robin closer. "Climb aboard."
Robin scrambles onto Clark's back, legs wrapping around his waist and arms around his neck. Clark stands carefully, adjusting to the boy's weight—not that he weighs more than a feather, really—and then offers Batman a reassuring look.
"I've got him," Clark says, and it's both a reassurance and a promise rolled into one. Clark will protect Robin with his life, as long as the boy is in his care. Batman's child will be safe with him.
Batman's answering nod is just as tight as before, but the way his shoulders loosen tells Clark that Bruce hears his message and believes him. He's honored by it; he knows Bruce doesn't trust people easily, but he's allowing Clark to take his nine-year-old child flying on the first meeting. Clark refuses to do wrong by him.
Clark takes off slowly, allowing Robin to adjust, and hears the boy's breath catch as they get higher, moving away from the safety of the roof. He doesn't sound afraid, though; no, he sounds terribly excited, and it makes Clark smile.
He remembers learning to fly, and the joy it brought him once the fear had passed. He remembers the elation, the peace. He hopes Robin feels that way, too.
The boy's grip on his relaxes a tad after about five minutes, starting to trust that Clark has him and he isn't going to fall, and Clark can hear his grin through his short breaths as they fly.
Clark starts going a little faster, weaving carefully through buildings and taking quick loops that have Robin laughing and whooping from his place on Clark's back. His heart is quick in his chest and he sounds so joyfully alive that Clark finds himself smiling as well. He's always liked kids, and this one is definitely special.
When Batman's deadline of an hour begins to approach, Clark heads them back towards Gotham proper from wherever it is they've ended up. Robin is completely relaxed on top of him, practically boneless, and Clark can feel his smile against the nape of his neck where the boy rests.
"Thank you for taking me," Robin says softly as they begin to approach Batman; a different roof than before, but it wasn't hard for Clark to locate him. "I had a really good time."
He did too, Clark finds. The boy is sweet and clever and unafraid; taking him flying was not a chore.
"I'm very glad," Clark says, and they touch down. He carefully lowers the boy until his feet are steady on the roof beside him. He turns to look at him and Robin darts forward, wrapping his arms around Clark's waist in a tight hug. Clark blinks in surprise for a moment before hugging back, smiling.
"My name's Dick," Robin whispers against his stomach.
Clark pets a hand over the boy's hair. "It's nice to meet you, Dick," he says, voice gentle. "My name's Clark."
Clark claps and cheers, watching the boy on stage flush a bright red. On Clark's right, Bruce and Alfred clap in a far more dignified—but no less proud—manner, but Diana on Clark's left matches Clark's enthusiasm if not exceeds it.
On stage, Dick shakes hands with the man giving out the award and then accepts the item, briefly smiling down at it before looking back to the audience, a grin breaking out across his face despite his blush at the attention. His eyes find Bruce first and his grin widens, proud of himself, and then move to Clark. The blush gets a little more pronounced, Clark hears his heart stutter, and he holds the plaque up in front of his chest like he's looking for approval.
Clark has never been one to deny Dick anything, and grins back at him, nodding and clapping to show how proud he is.
It's not every day a twelve-year-old wins first place in an academic competition where he goes up against people all the way up to eighteen. Twenty competitors qualified for this, only three under the age of fourteen, and Dick took first place.
Clark is beyond proud of him. He's always known the kid is smart—just look at his grades or the work he accomplishes as Robin—and it's wonderful to see it acknowledged in such a big way.
When the ceremony is over, Dick finds them in the crowd easily, rushing over with a beaming smile on his face.
"Well done, my boy," Alfred says warmly. "You performed excellently."
Dick bounces on the balls of his feet, looking so excited and so proud of himself that they're all smiling back at him. Dick's had that way about him from the very beginning; his joy contagious, his sadness infectious, his fury drawing upon their own anger. Clark wonders, sometimes, if Dick realizes how much power he has over some of the most powerful beings in the world. The entire Justice League cares for him, if not loves him—many of them would do anything for him.
A lot of power for one boy to hold. But if anyone deserves it, it's him.
"I'm proud of you," Bruce says, quiet and soft in the way he reserves for very few people.
"We all are," Diana agrees. She clasps a hand on Dick's shoulder, squeezing gently. "Your success today is most impressive! Worthy of celebration."
"Thanks, Aunt Diana," Dick says, grinning at her. "I mean, it's not that big of a deal—"
"Of course it is!" Clark cuts in, and Dick's eyes snap over to him, hanging onto his every word. Clark pretends to not notice. "It is a big deal, you should be proud. You were amazing today, Dick."
Dick looks about ready to burst, cheeks red and grin splitting his face, heart just a little too quick in his chest. "Thank you, Uncle Clark," he says, voice soft.
Out of the corner of his eye, Clark sees Bruce and Diana exchange a glance, Diana looking far more amused than Bruce does.
Someone in the crowd calls out Dick's name, and he turns towards his friend, briefly calling a, "Be right back!" at them before vanishing into the crowd.
"Don't look so sour, Bruce," Diana chides, lips curled upward with humor. "This is a big day for him; do not let your attitude ruin it."
Bruce sends her a sour look, practically proving her point. "I thought he would've grown out of it by now."
Clark looks away awkwardly.
It's something they've all been aware of, Dick's...crush on Clark. It stems mostly from some hero worship, they all know, Dick looking up to Superman. But Bruce isn't wrong to assume it should've gone away by now, a few years after Dick met Clark. But no, the boy still reacts to Clark much like he had that first meeting, if a bit more comfortable than he used to be. Clark doesn't see the harm in it—Dick's a child, they have crushes all the time—but he knows it makes Bruce a little uncomfortable. And as the parent, Bruce's opinion here matters.
"He's young," Diana says gently. "You know how it is at that age, everything is a thousand times stronger. His feelings do no harm. He will grow out of it, my friend. Do not worry over such small things."
Bruce makes a noncommittal noise. "I wasn't like that at his age."
They all glance at each other. Bruce frowns.
"I do not think you are the shining example of normal childhood, Master Bruce," Alfred says dryly. "At twelve you were making plans to become a bat-themed vigilante; I doubt crushes were at the forefront of your mind."
Bruce's frown deepens, and Clark fights the urge to laugh. Diana doesn't, chuckling outright.
Dick returns soon after, the plaque clutched in his hands. "Can we go out for ice cream?" he asks hopefully.
Bruce winces, and before he even speaks, Dick's smile is dropping a little. "I'm sorry, chum, I have to get back to work. But we can celebrate tonight, okay?"
He moves forward, planting a kiss on Dick's forehead, running his hand over the boy's hair. "I'm so proud of you, Dick."
"Thanks, B," Dick says quietly, mustering up a smile for his guardian. "I'll see you later."
Then Bruce is gone, weaving through the throng of people, and Alfred offers them all a kind smile. "I'm afraid I have to drive him. I trust you two can take care of the Young Master?"
Clark and Diana both nod, and Alfred vanishes as well, following Bruce.
Dick stares after them for a long moment, lips pursed and brow furrowed. He looks dejected. It makes Clark's heart ache, and he swallows the anger that rises in him at Bruce leaving.
"I believe you said something about ice cream?" Clark prompts.
Dick looks back at him and grins.
Diana stays with them through the ice cream, enrapturing Dick with her stories of battles like she always manages to do, and then has to leave for a prior engagement. But Clark doesn't want to take Dick back to a big, empty Manor, not ever but especially not today, after what Dick's just won. The boy deserves to be surrounded and celebrated for his accomplishments, and far too often those celebrations are cut short or not had at all because of Bruce's schedule.
Clark knows Bruce is doing his best. He knows he's a great father, when he's present. It's simply the large chunks of time that he's not that get to Clark.
So Clark takes Dick to a roller rink, watches his eyes light up with joy as he takes off, just as graceful on skates as he is up in the sky. Clark moves more clumsily, but it's hard to not feel clumsy next to Dick, even with Clark's powers. Dick could give anyone a run for their money.
After the roller rink, they go for a walk through Central Park, bringing junk food along with them. Dick points out all the plants to him, rattling off facts and minute details that make Clark's head spin. Clark's compliment to Dick's knowledge is met with a blush and a shy, "It's just because of Poison Ivy, best to know your stuff when going up against her."
Dick manages to convince him to ride the carousel, though the boy does look a little queasy after they get off.
"Thanks for hanging out with me, Clark," Dick says.
They're walking again, this time back towards the car. It's getting late, the sun beginning to set, and Clark knows he has to get the boy home. He hopes Bruce isn't too upset about him filling Dick with junk food. Or, rather, he hopes Alfred isn't.
"Any time, kiddo," Clark says. He throws an arm around Dick's shoulders and Dick relaxes against his side. "I love spending time with you."
It's true; Dick is a smart, clever, engaging kid, and spending time with him is never a chore. Dick is more intelligent than a majority of the adults Clark has to deal with on a daily basis, and definitely far more captivating. Sometimes he doesn't think Bruce realizes how lucky he is to have someone like Dick in his life; anyone would be lucky to call Dick their kid.
"I love spending time with you too," Dick replies softly, snuggling up more firmly against Clark's side.
Clark crooks a smile.
The boy is asleep by the time they arrive at the Manor, having drifted off during the ride, and Clark lifts him carefully, carrying him inside and up to bed.
He's been in Dick's bedroom a couple times before, but it feels different with the boy unconscious in his arms and no Bruce around, like Clark's intruding on sacred territory. But the fact that Dick is still asleep despite all the movement, despite how light a sleeper he is, shows how much he trusts Clark. It's a special thing.
He sets Dick down on the bed, removing his shoes and jacket and making sure none of his limbs are in awkward positions. Then he brushes back the boy's hair and presses a kiss to his forehead.
"Goodnight, Dick," he whispers. "And congratulations."
"Please just shoot me dead," Bruce says flatly.
Clark laughs, entirely unsympathetic, as he slides into the chair across from his best friend. "Sorry, must've misplaced my gun. Better luck next time."
Bruce shoots him an unimpressed look and Clark holds up his hands peacefully, then turns his attention to the approaching waitress.
It turns out Bruce has already ordered for them both, which isn't surprising in the slightest; Bruce has a tendency to take control of situations, especially when he's clearly upset by something. Well, as clear as Bruce ever is about his feelings, which isn't much. But Clark's learned to read the signs, and he's also one of the lucky few Bruce lets down some of his walls around.
"So what's going on?" Clark asks once their food is in front of them both and the waitress is gone.
Clark blinks. "Who?"
"Dick," Bruce says, and forcefully stabs the meat on his plate. "Dick is dating."
Clark frowns. Dick is dating? Isn't he a little young for that? Do people date at fourteen? Clark supposes he had a girlfriend at that age. But that was really just holding hands and going to a dance together, barely considered dating by most standards now.
"You should see this boy with him," Bruce mutters. "Older. What does an older boy want with Dick? I'm trying to find a way to put a stop to it."
Clark can't help the amused smile that curves his lips. "When you say older...?"
Bruce glares at him and doesn't respond for a long time. Clark holds his gaze easily. Eventually Bruce says, "Fifteen."
Clark sends him an exasperated look. "Bruce, come on. Are you serious right now? Why are you freaking out?"
"I'm not freaking out," Bruce says calmly, and Clark almost laughs at how forced that calm is. "I am simply...concerned. Dick is young. And still innocent, in many ways. I don't know if he's ready for—dating."
It's clear what Bruce is actually talking about now, where his concerns stem from.
"Bruce," Clark says gently. "Dating doesn't mean he's going to start being...active. You said it yourself, he's young. Young people explore their feelings. You can't stop him from doing so; it'll only end up pushing him away."
Clark knows that for a fact, because he's received many texts and phone calls from Dick over the years whenever Bruce is being particularly dickish (not to be confused with Dick-ish) and interfering in Dick's life in an overbearing manner. Clark knows that if Bruce tells Dick he's not allowed to date whoever this kid is, if he tries to put restrictions on Dick's interactions with others—well, it won't end well.
It is...strange, though, to think of Dick dating. He doesn't know why it makes something uncomfortable settle under his skin, why it puts a sour taste in his mouth. If this boy makes Dick happy then Clark will be happy for him. Dick is a great kid, and Clark wants the best for him.
"Whether you like it or not, Dick's growing up," Clark says, as kindly as he can. "He's going to be dating a lot in the future. Gotta roll with it."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it," Bruce mutters. "He's starting to form a team, too. Nothing official yet, but he's been talking to some of the other teen heroes, doing small team-ups here and there...He's set to lead the group, that's obvious. I don't know if he's ready for that."
Dick told Clark about that, actually. Looking terribly excited and lively, Dick told him about Speedy and Wonder Girl and Kid-Flash and Aqualad, how well they're working together, how he feels like they could truly do some good in the world. His passion was captivating and very sweet; Dick truly just wants to help people, make the world a better place. If this team really comes to fruition, Clark has no doubt that they'll be a force to be reckoned with.
"You don't know if he's ready?" Clark echoes, mystified. "Bruce, if anyone is ready to lead a team, it's Dick. You've trained him well, and he has a lot of natural ability on top of that. Didn't you tell me you thought he could lead the Justice League one day?"
Bruce doesn't look like he appreciates having his own words thrown back at him, but Clark doesn't care overly much. Bruce is anxious for his kid, wary of him growing up, Clark understands that, but Clark won't allow that to get in the way of Dick accomplishing his goals.
"What if he fails?" Bruce asks quietly. "What if it all goes wrong? That would devastate him."
"That doesn't mean he shouldn't try," Clark says. "And frankly? I don't see any world where Dick fails at this."
Bruce exhales through his nose. "Alright," he says, and Clark smiles just picturing Dick's joy.
A bright blur swings past Clark, knocking away two of the robots crowding around him. The blur lands solidly on the chest of one of them and jabs a small EMP at its chest, making it go dead and then repeating the process with the second.
Robin stands and turns to smile at Clark, not even hesitating to leap into the fight as he says, "Hey, Blue! Looked like you could use a hand."
Clark laughs under his breath, enjoying the seamless way he and Robin fall into step together, working together effortlessly. With Robin's help, Clark wraps up the battle much faster, and once all the robots are down—a Luthor design, of course, because Lex never stops—he opens his arms to offer the boy a hug, which Robin readily steps into, relaxing against him with a sigh.
He knows Bruce isn't big on physical contact. He knows Dick craves it. And after not having seen Dick in a while, it feels really good to hold him.
"What are you doing in Metropolis, Red?" Clark asks after a minute, drawing back.
"Just passing through," Robin replies. "Spent a couple days in Star City with Speedy and Kid-Flash and thought I'd stop in and see you on my way back to Gotham. Mind if I force an unexpected houseguest onto you and spend the night?"
"You're always welcome in my home," Clark says warmly. Robin's eyes crinkle as he smiles back.
"Great," the boy says, and then turns away, walking over to some of the robots he'd taken down and then crouching to pull off the mini-EMPs he stuck onto them. And suddenly Clark's gaze is...not where it should be.
When Dick was younger, the pants-less aspect of his Robin uniform was cute, and made sense. An adaptation of the costume he'd worn in the circus. As a nine-year-old boy, it didn't seem strange at all, if a little funny when placed next to Batman.
But now Dick is sixteen, and the fact that the entirety of his legs are bare is far less cute and far more...
Well. Far more something that is making Clark's mouth go dry.
In the last year, Dick's really grown up. He finally hit that growth spurt he kept proclaiming was just around the corner, his voice finally broke, and the baby fat began receding from his face, leaving behind a sharp jawline and strong features that put him somewhere between pretty and handsome. His muscles, as well, seemed to become more defined, toning as his body chemistry began to settle, and it's—appealing.
It shouldn't be. Dick is sixteen. He's Bruce's son.
But for the last few months...
Clark can't tear his eyes away from the long, lean legs, the way the material of his shorts pulls tightly over his ass as he bends down, the—
"Alright!" Robin says cheerfully, coming back over to him. "I'm all set to go. Can we fly?"
Clark nods faintly, trying to act normal. He holds still while Robin climbs onto his back, strong limbs wrapping around him and keeping himself up effortlessly. Clark reminds himself that Robin doesn't have any enhanced senses, and probably can't feel how fast Clark's heart is beating as they lift off.
If Bruce knew he was having thoughts like this, if Bruce knew he was admiring Dick's ass—
He'd be a dead man. It's as simple as that. This is his best friend's child.
But Dick's not really a child anymore. Was he ever one, actually? Since his parents died? Since he was nine years old he's been out on the streets of Gotham, seeing the worst of the worst, coming face to face with all of the awfulness the world has to offer. He's faced death and destruction and annihilation and has never flinched, never backed down. Dick is old beyond his years, he's had to be. In body he might be sixteen but in mind—
No. No, that's always the rationalization people give when they take advantage of a child. That they were mature, were above their age range. It doesn't matter if Dick is mature. He's still only sixteen. He's sixteen.
So Clark really needs to stop thinking about his ass.
They pick up Robin's bag from where he stashed it along the way, and then they're at Clark's apartment. Dick removes his mask immediately, comfortable in this familiar setting, and begs off to take a shower.
Clark gets changed and heads into the kitchen to make something to eat. He changes his mind almost instantly, however, because he doesn't really have the ingredients to make any of Dick's favorite foods. He does have the menu for a takeout place Dick loves, though, so he dials the number and orders an array of dishes.
When Dick emerges, he's wearing a pair of green plaid pajama pants and one of Clark's shirts.
In the past, such a sight wouldn't have phased Clark at all. Dick's told him that he likes the smell of the laundry detergent Clark uses, that it smells similar to what his mom used to use, and every once in a while Dick would pull on one of Clark's shirts to surround himself with the scent.
It used to be adorable. Now it's...
Dick flops down on the couch, glancing curiously over at Clark's laptop where it's placed in his lap. "What are you working on?"
"Just some final edits for an article that's supposed to go out tomorrow," Clark says, trying not to look at the way his large shirt drapes around Dick's smaller form, the way one of the sleeves is sliding down to expose his shoulder and collarbone. He pretends like he can't smell his own shampoo and body wash wafting off of Dick, how possessive that makes him feel. He pretends he doesn't want to tug Dick closer and not let go.
Dick hums, nodding, and reaches forward to pick up the TV remote from where it sits on the coffee table. He flicks through a few channels before settling on some sitcom Clark's never seen before but heard of, and Dick delights in explaining all of the character dynamics to him.
The food arrives at some point, and Clark feels warmth spread through him at the way Dick's eyes light up with joy when he sees that Clark has ordered some of his favorites.
They settle back down onto the couch, takeout containers in hand, and Dick sits much closer than before, casually leaning against Clark's side, head on his shoulder.
Dick's sat this close countless times in the past. He likes being physically close to people, likes the casual intimacy of touch. And Clark has never been one to begrudge him that, not when he also enjoyed having Dick near him. But these last few months—this last year, maybe—it's felt...different. Having Dick pressed up against him feels different.
Dick drifts off after a little while. Clark saves the food container before it can spill onto the floor, and then doesn't move, not wanting to jostle Dick and wake him. The boy is curled up at his side, head tilted up so that his breath washes across Clark's neck. He looks so peaceful, so content, right here next to Clark. Like he belongs here. Like he was meant to be here.
Very carefully Clark wraps an arm around the boy, tilting his own head down to rest against the top of Dick's. He listens to Dick's breaths, to his heart. He lets the steady, familiar pulse lull him to sleep.
He wakes up at some point during the night. One of Dick's legs has been thrown over his lap, one arm wrapped around Clark's chest. His pink lips are parted with quiet breaths. Clark fights and fights against the urge to kiss him.
Thankfully, he wins.
Slowly, Clark shifts Dick up into his arms and then carries him to the bedroom. He sets him down gently, pulling the covers over him, and then slides into the other side. They've shared a bed before, it's not a big deal. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Clark needs to stop feeling like it's a big deal.
He focuses on Dick's heartbeat again. He lets it drown everything else out. He slides very easily back into sleep.
When Clark wakes up next, it's morning. Sunlight streams in through the cracked curtains, filling Clark with strength, helping him to wake up more firmly. He's warm and in bed, his arms wrapped around someone, a smaller body curled perfectly against his front.
Clark goes still. He pries his eyes open and is greeted with the sight of the back of Dick's head, sharing his pillow. His back is pressed to Clark's chest, his legs tangled with Clark's under the covers. One of Clark's arms is wrapped around Dick's middle, and one of Dick's arms is covering it, holding Clark in place.
And, most importantly, Dick's ass is pressed right against Clark's groin.
Simple morning wood is quickly turning into something not so simple.
Barely daring to breathe, Clark starts to shift away, trying to untangle himself before Dick wakes up and notices the really not PG situation Clark's found himself in. But Dick makes a disgruntled noise in his sleep, holding onto Clark's arm more tightly, wiggling back against Clark and succeeding in grinding his ass against Clark's more than half-hard cock.
It draws a quiet moan out of Clark, and he clamps his mouth shut in the next second, panic making his heart far too fast in his chest.
Dick's heartbeat changes, showing that he's waking up, and Clark has no idea what to do. It's not like Dick won't be able to feel it. Maybe if Clark pretends to be asleep—yes, that could work. Dick's a boy, he probably understands morning wood. Sure, Clark's much further along than what usually happens, but it's easily explained away. Clark won't have to do any explaining, actually.
Clark closes his eyes and makes an effort to relax, breathing slow and deep, forcing his body into a state of calm, slowing his racing pulse to something less noticeable.
He's managed to get himself into something resembling sleep by the time Dick wakes up. The boy yawns and shifts, and then freezes. He stops breathing for a moment. His pulse starts to pick up. Clark keeps himself still and calm. He waits for Dick to remove himself from the bed.
But Dick doesn't leave. Instead he carefully leans more firmly against Clark, hips rolling in a way that perfectly slides Clark's bulge against the fabric right over Dick's crack, right between the cheeks. Clark bites back what is sure to be a very embarrassing noise, manages to keep himself from thrusting forward. Manages to keep himself from yanking Dick back against himself and going to town.
Because oh, how he wants to.
He can hear Dick's heartbeat, quick and excited. He can hear the blood rushing south. It makes Clark's mouth go dry, the knowledge that Dick is getting hard having Clark close in this way.
Clark's always known about Dick's crush. It's never been subtle. But this last year or so, it had seemed to...die away. Dick lost some of the awe in the way he looked at Clark, comradery and comfort taking its place. It's been a good change, even if Clark hasn't understood the feeling of mourning inside of him. But the crush was supposed to have gone away.
Dick wasn't supposed to be—wasn't supposed to—
They stay like that for a little while, the pair of them in limbo. Clark doesn't know what to do now. What's Dick's plan here? He's certainly testing Clark's control. But he thinks Clark is asleep, that this is just morning wood; does he want to wake Clark up? Is he just trying to get a little enjoyment where he can? And what will Clark do if Dick keeps moving like that? Because he's close, God he's embarrassingly close—
The next roll of Dick's hips draws a noise out of Clark that he doesn't manage to bite back. It's quiet and soft, but still there, and Dick freezes, his pulse reaching new heights. Clark keeps breathing evenly. He's asleep. He's asleep. He's asleep. He still has this cover.
Damn, he has this cover. People do things when they're asleep all the time. Dick thinks he's asleep. There's no harm in this. No repercussions. Clark won't have to discuss this. He can just...
He pushes forward against Dick, tightening his arm slightly around his middle as well to keep him in place. Dick squeaks, surprised, breath hitching. He doesn't move.
Maybe Clark's made a horrible mistake. Maybe he shouldn't have done that, Dick's panicking, he doesn't want Dick to panic—
But he does it again anyway. God help him, he does it again.
He grinds forward against Dick's ass, sliding himself as firmly between those cheeks as he can manage without ripping off Dick's pajama pants. He's not wearing any underwear, Clark can feel. The urge to tear the flimsy pants off of him and leave Dick bare before him is strong. It would be easy. Clark could do it with barely a fraction of his strength.
Dick hesitantly moves back against him, meeting Clark's movements. A soft moan escapes the boy, and Clark longs to kiss him, to drink in that noise, to draw so many more out of him.
"Clark," Dick breathes out, and there's something about the way he says it that has Clark tensing, which makes Dick immediately freeze. And then the boy is pulling away, fast as anything, rushing to escape before "newly awake" Clark can "figure out what's going on".
Clark lets him go, because the alternative cannot be allowed to happen. He can't keep Dick in bed with him, can't pin Dick down and have his way with him. Dick is sixteen. Dick is sixteen. Dick is sixteen.
And Bruce will actually kill him.
Dick vanishes into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind him. Clark listens to his racing heart, to the way he works to regulate his breathing, to the slight shake in his exhales as he tries to get himself under control.
The shower turns on. Dick strips and steps inside.
And Clark—shouldn't listen. He should pull his hearing back to himself, should get up and start making breakfast, should pretend this never happened and move forward.
He should. But instead he listens to Dick wrap a hand around himself, listens to him masturbate, to the little moans and whimpers that escape him. And Clark finds himself pulling out his own cock and stroking himself, Dick's noises captivating. And when Dick comes he does it with Clark's name on his lips, and it doesn't take much for Clark to follow him right over the edge.
He allows himself a few seconds to enjoy the afterglow, and then the guilt hits, and he rushes to clean up.
He's scrambling eggs when Dick eventually emerges. He's wearing his own clothes this time, a regular pair of jeans and a Green Lantern t-shirt that Clark remembers Dick buying to mess with Bruce. Clark keeps his posture relaxed and open. He knows Dick is extremely observant, can read people like a book, and if Dick sees Clark tense or upset he'll blame himself, feel guilty.
If anyone is to blame, it is certainly not Dick.
"Hey, Red," Clark greets pleasantly, hearing Dick hover in the doorway behind him. "Mind grabbing me the bacon from the fridge?"
Dick doesn't move for a second, and Clark's heart sinks at the knowledge that he's ruined this, that Dick doesn't feel comfortable around him anymore—
But then Dick pads forward, opening the fridge and then appearing at Clark's side. He hops up on the counter like he has a thousand times before and offers Clark the package with a smile. He looks perfectly at ease, content.
Dick Grayson has always been an excellent liar.
"So," Clark says, "how long until you have to head back to Gotham? I thought maybe we could see a movie."
Dick's eyes light up, and his shoulders relax for real this time, a tension you don't even notice until it's gone. "That sounds great, Clark," he says warmly, and Clark lets out a relieved breath. Everything is okay. Nothing is ruined. They just have to move past this.
When Dick absently bits his lip, tugging it between his teeth, Clark pretends like he doesn't want to take that mouth for himself.
Clark hears Dick before he sees him.
He's sitting at his desk in the Planet, frowning at his computer as he goes over some of Lois' comments on his newest article. Of course, comments is a very generous term; it's more like he's going over all the ways Lois eviscerated his article and the few compliments she threw in. She's always been a perfectionist, always pushed him to be the best version of himself. He is simultaneously grateful for that, and really irritated.
That's when he hears the quick, anxious heartbeat.
He knows Dick's heart like he knows his own, by this point. He knows the sound of its regular beats, and this is—not it. This is far too quick, far too uneven, far too stressed. Not to mention incredibly close, instead of in Gotham where he should be.
Clark looks up, glancing around, and his eyes go wide when he sees Dick rushing across the bullpen towards Clark. His face is lined with distress, and Clark is on his feet in an instant, ready to meet him when Dick reaches his desk and throws his arms around him.
He's grown so much from that nine-year-old boy who hugged his waist and told him his name. At 5'10", he's only five inches shorter than Clark. Still a sizable difference, but he fits so perfectly against Clark now, his head fitting right into the curve of Clark's neck, arms wrapping tightly around his chest. And Clark hugs him right back.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Clark asks softly, concerned. He can see people glancing at them, but Dick is shaking in his arms, breath hitching; he's the priority. Their onlookers can be addressed in a minute. "Dick, hey. Hey, it's okay. What's going on?"
"He took Robin away," Dick whispers hoarsely. "Bruce, he—he took—he—"
And then Dick is actually crying, and Clark is stunned still. Bruce did what now? He fucking took Robin? He can't do that! Robin isn't his to take!
Clark glances over. Lois is standing near them, brow furrowed. She jerks her head to the side, indicating the empty conference room just a little way away, and Clark sends her a grateful look.
"Come on," he murmurs to Dick. "Walk with me, okay? We're gonna get some privacy. Come with me."
He adjusts his hold around Dick, pulling him against his side and leading him to the waiting room, bringing him inside. He gently sits Dick down on the sofa in the corner and then jogs back to the door where Lois stands.
'I'll keep the gawkers away, and cover for you with Perry," Lois says before Clark can get a word in, and sends him a stern look. "But after all this you better explain to me why Bruce Wayne's son just popped up out of nowhere to sob into your arms."
Clark grimaces and nods. "Thank, Lo."
"Yeah, yeah," she drawls, and then shuts the door between them.
Clark goes back to Dick, sitting down next to him. Dick immediately leans into him, an arm wrapping around his middle, and Clark pulls him closer, stroking a hand over his hair.
"It's okay, I've got you," Clark says softly. "You're safe. I've got you. What happened? What do you mean he took Robin?"
It takes Dick a few moments to calm down enough to speak, and then he tells Clark the whole story. The Joker, the bullet, the hospital, Bruce's declaration and ultimatum, the freeze-out, Dick's decision to come to Clark.
"I didn't know where else to go," Dick says hoarsely. "I didn't know—he took Robin. Clark, how can he...?"
Clark presses a kiss to Dick's forehead. "I'm so sorry, Dick. He doesn't have the right to do that. Do you want me to talk to him? I'm sure Diana and I could—"
But Dick is shaking his head. "No, I—I don't want to see him again yet. I just want—I'm just—" He tilts his head up, face so very close to Clark's. His face is red and streaked with tears. His beautiful blue eyes are shining so very bright. "Can I stay with you for a little while? Please? I can't face—I can't face my team, I don't know what to do—"
"You're always welcome here," Clark says fiercely. "Always, Dick. However long you want. My apartment isn't big, but hey, neither are you."
Dick laughs. It's wet, but it's real, and Clark glows at being able to make Dick smile during such an awful time. "Hey! I'll have you know that I am solidly average in height. Just because you have unnatural alien genes doesn't mean I'm small."
Clark puts a hand to his chest in mock offense. "Who're you calling unnatural? I should call my Ma, she'd have a few choice words for you."
Dick's still smiling, and some of the tension has faded from his body. That's an idea, actually. Dick's always liked the farm, and Clark's parents like him, too. Might be good for Dick to get away to somewhere quiet, somewhere not surrounded by people who know him and care about the Bruce Wayne name.
Then again, Ma Kent is an extremely observant person, and knows Clark like the back of her hand. If she picks up on what Clark's been feeling towards Dick, even though he's never going to do anything...
Well, she'd rip him a new one. So maybe not the best idea. His apartment will work just fine, then.
"Come on, why don't we get out of here?" Clark suggests. "Lois said she'd cover for me with my boss, but I still think it's better to sneak out before he can confront us about anything. We should pick up some food, veg out on my couch."
Dick smiles gratefully. "Yeah, that—that sounds great. Are you sure? It's okay if you want me to go, I can—"
"You're not going anywhere," Clark says firmly. He places another kiss on Dick's forehead, and the boy's eyelashes flutter. "You can stay as long as you want to, I mean it."
Dick hugs him tightly. "Thank you, Clark. Just—thank you."
"Anytime," Clark says, voice soft. "Anytime at all. Come on, let's go."
They stop by a new pizza place Clark found the month before that he knew Dick would like, and then by the ice cream parlor near his apartment. By the time they're planted on Clark's couch and surrounded by junk food, Dick looks a little more solid than he did before.
Still muted, though, and Clark will never forgive Bruce for doing this to his child. Dick shouldn't look so—brought low, so lost. Bruce did that to him. If he didn't want to stay right by Dick's side right now, he'd already be in Gotham tearing Bruce a new one. He'll have to call Diana, fill her in on what happened; she won't be too happy, either.
He doubts anyone will be, actually. Everyone cares about Dick. Bruce ripping Robin away isn't going to sit too well with anyone.
It's dark out when Dick says, "Do you have any alcohol? I feel like this situation calls for alcohol."
Clark glances over at him in amusement. He's lying on his back along the length of the couch, which also puts his feet and shins across Clark's lap. Clark has one hand resting on them, absently rubbing circles against the warm skin.
"I'm not supplying you with alcohol, Dick."
Dick pouts at him. "Why not?"
Clark huffs a laugh. "Maybe because you're seventeen? I think you've got a few years to go before you hit drinking age."
Dick rolls his eyes. "Oh come on, Clark. You really think I've spent three years on a team of teen heroes and haven't had a drink before? With Roy alone I—" He cuts off, a blush rising to the surface, and Clark blinks. "Ah, well. Anyway. The point is this wouldn't be my first time trying booze. Besides, if Bruce thinks I'm old enough to live on my own and make my own way in the world then I think I'm old enough for a shot of vodka. If you've got it."
Clark really hates that where his mind has gone is wondering, What else is he old enough for, then?
Because he's...right, in a way. Bruce has drawn a line in the sand. He's declared Dick not a child anymore. Bruce decided that, and Dick clearly doesn't disagree. Dick really isn't a child. Hasn't been for a while. And now it's just...less fuzzy. Less dangerous territory.
"You don't need a depressant right now, Dick," Clark says gently. "It'll only make you feel worse."
Dick purses his lips, clearly not in agreement, but he doesn't argue. They both go back to watching the cop procedural set in Gotham currently on TV, with Dick adding in commentary about the things they're getting spectacularly wrong.
Another hour passes, and Dick swings his legs off the couch, getting to his feet. "Can I borrow some PJs? I wanna change into something comfortable."
Clark nods, already steeling himself for the sight of Dick in his clothes. When Dick returns he's wearing Clark's red Metropolis U t-shirt that's one of the ones Clark keeps in rotation for bed because it's incredibly soft, and on his bottom half he's wearing...a pair of Clark's boxers.
As Dick sits back down, he sends Clark a shy look. "All of your pants were gigantic on me, and none of your shorts were really comfortable as PJs. But rolling the band down a few times on these made them fit okay, and they're comfortable, so...I hope that's alright."
Clark swallows, mouth dry. He's struggling to respond.
Dick's brow furrows with concern. "Clark? Are you alright? I can change—"
"No!" Clark calls out immediately, and then cringes. Christ almighty. "I—no, you don't have to change."
Dick looks at him with wide eyes, surprised and confused by the outburst. He glances down at himself, brow furrowing, and then back to Clark. Clark tries very hard to look natural, but he must fail, because Dick's lips part with a quiet breath, eyes going even wider.
"Oh," Dick breathes. "Do you—are you—" He cuts himself off, blinking, and Clark doesn't know if he really wants Dick to let it go or really wants him to keep pulling on the thread.
Dick squares his shoulders. "Do you like me wearing your clothes, Clark? Your boxers?"
Clark stares at him. There has to be a way out of this, he knows. There's some explanation—some lie—he can come up with to escape this conversation. But he can't think of one. Not with Dick hesitantly shifting closer to Clark, arm over the back of the couch.
"Do you like it?" Dick asks again, and now he looks up at Clark through his eyelashes, biting his lip, and that's—that's just—that's—Christ. Who taught Dick to look like that? Who taught Dick how to—how to—
"I like wearing your clothes," Dick says quietly, when Clark still says nothing. But there's an anxiousness to Dick now. He's fidgeting, eyes shifting. Clark's continued silence is making him doubt himself. Clark hates seeing him so unsure, hates even more that he's responsible for it.
"I like..." Clark starts, and trails off, swallowing. God, he can't do this. He can't—Dick is seventeen. He's still a kid.
Hasn't been a kid for a while, his brain whispers insidiously. And now Bruce has even acknowledged it. Dick is grown enough to leave home. Grown enough to be familiar with drinking. Grown enough to want people.
Grown enough to be wanted back.
"I like you wearing my clothes," Clark whispers.
Dick draws in a shuddering breath, relief running through the lines of his body. He inches closer again, hesitantly wrapping an arm around Clark's shoulders as he turns into him. He leans in, close enough that Clark can feel his warm breath on his cheek, on his lips.
"Were you awake?" Dick asks, barely more than a whisper, blue eyes darting between Clark's own. "When I stayed with you last year and we shared your bed and—were you awake?"
There's something almost pleading in his voice. Clark wonders how many times Dick has thought about this. How many times has Dick tried to figure it out, doubting his own mind, his own perceptions?
And how many times has Clark replayed that night in his head. Over and over again, the feeling of Dick grinding against him, how amazing it felt to have him in his arms, the beautiful sound of Dick moaning his name as he came.
"Yes," Clark says, equally as quiet, and Dick stops breathing. "Yes. I woke up first. And having you so close, it made me— And I was afraid. So I pretended."
Dick swallows. He looks so vulnerable, so afraid of rejection, so desperate. His hand is clutching tightly at Clark's shoulder. His heartbeat is steady, but fast.
"Oh," Dick says. "Oh. So you. You..."
Clark should pull away. Dick's seventeen. Despite his maturity, despite all he's lived through, Dick is still so very young, and Clark knows this is wrong. He remembers being seventeen, how he looked at his crushes like they hung the moon, how he fell for the wrong people and got taken advantage of. He doesn't want to take advantage of Dick, Dick deserves so much more. Dick deserves the entire world, the entire galaxy. He deserves more than a man in his thirties taking advantage.
But oh, how Clark wants.
Dick is holding very still, waiting for rejection, waiting for some sign that this is okay. He's just been dealt a giant rejection from the person who is supposed to be his father, and now he's waiting for Clark to reject him, too.
And Clark should. He should let him down gently. Should hug him and hold him close but make it clear that nothing more than that is going to happen.
But he doesn't.
Clark reaches up slowly, cupping Dick's cheek gently. Dick leans into the touch, eyes locked onto Clark's, waiting, barely daring to breathe. He's so beautiful. Christ, he's so beautiful.
He leans forward, pressing his forehead against Dick's. They share the shame breath for a few moments, Clark's eyes sliding shut at the peacefulness of it, the rightness that fills him.
And then he leans again, bringing his lips to Dick's.
Dick kisses back instantly, a soft noise escaping him. He pulls Clark closer and Clark goes willingly, wrapping an arm around Dick's back to haul him closer. The kiss deepens. Dick swings a leg over Clark's thighs, moving to straddle his lap. When he grinds downward, Clark moans.
"Clark," Dick breathes. "Clark, Clark, Clark."
Clark smiles, loving the way Dick says his name. Like it's something precious, like it's the most important word in the English language. Like Dick would rather be here with him than anywhere else in the world.
"You're stunning," Clark says honestly, and Dick grins at him, eyes alight with joy. He leans back in for another kiss, and Clark accepts him readily. He wraps his arms more firmly around Dick, pulling him impossibly closer. His hands drift, and Dick moans when he squeezes his ass.
"Please," Dick whines, and the sound makes Clark's cock throb. "Please, Clark."
Clark takes a deep breath and tries to think rationally. "Dick, maybe—"
"Please," Dick says again, and rolls his hips down, grinding against Clark's steadily growing bulge. "Please, I want to, I want to with you, please, Clark."
Rationality flies right out the window. Clark nods quickly, pulling Dick into another deep kiss. He steadies his grip on Dick and then lifts off, flying them to the bedroom, never breaking the kiss, and Dick laughs into his mouth.
He lays Dick out on his bed, hovering over him and drinking in the sight of him. Flushed cheeks, plump, red lips, pupils blown, cock straining against Clark's underwear. Christ, he's gorgeous. Gorgeous, and all Clark's.
He lowers himself, knees to either side of Dick's hips, hands braced by his head, and kisses him again. Dick strains up towards him, throwing an arm around Clark's neck to drag him down against him. Dick's legs spread, making room for Clark, and Clark grinds them together, breathing in the moans that fall from Dick's lips.
"Please, please, Clark—"
Clark groans at the impatience in Dick's voice, how badly the boy wants him. His own impatience rising, Clark nods and reaches down for the underwear slung low on Dick's hips.
He only means to pull them down, honest. He doesn't mean to rip them into pieces, and he freezes, an apology on the tip of his tongue.
But Dick moans, head throwing back. "Fuck, yes," he hisses. "Come on, Clark. I'm not afraid of you. Come on."
Clark blinks down at him, marveling. He gently brushes a lock of hair back from Dick's forehead, caressing his face.
And then he grabs Dick's wrists, pinning them above Dick's head. Dick yanks against the grip but Clark doesn't budge at all, like an ant trying to escape his fist. Dick pulls and pulls, but Clark doesn't budge. And Clark waits for the fear, the anxiety—
But Dick grins up at him. "I'm not afraid of you," he says again, almost like a challenge. "I'm not—I want this, okay? So just—just give it to me, come on, Clark, please. You have no idea how long I've imagined, how long I've wanted—so just—please—"
Clark flips Dick roughly onto his stomach, yanking his hips up, grinding against his ass. Dick thrashes, but the more he finds himself unable to escape the more he moans, and Clark can barely believe his own luck. This beautiful boy, this incredible boy—he will never cease to amaze Clark.
Clark strips quickly and tears the t-shirt off of Dick as well, the boy groaning when the fabric parts like tissue under Clark's grip. Tomorrow, Clark will mourn the loss of one of his favorite shirts, but right now he has far more important matters at hand.
He layers himself over Dick's body, pressing a gentle kiss against the nape of his neck as he pins him, sliding his cock between Dick's thighs and roughly fucking them, enjoying the way the boy writhes under him, cock bobbing with each thrust of Clark's hips.
"C-Clark," Dick stutters out. "Clark, please—"
Clark lifts the boy's head and kisses him deeply, stealing the air from his lungs. And he nods and whispers, "Anything for you," against his lips, a promise he intends to keep for as long as Dick wants.
Clark grabs the lube from his bedside table, and spreads a generous helping onto his fingers. Then he hesitates.
"Dick, have you ever—have you—?"
Dick pants, squeezing his eyes shut. "Not—all the way."
Clark swallows. He kisses Dick's cheek gently. "What a gift you give me," he says quietly. "Are you sure?"
Dick nods quickly. "Yes, yes, I'm sure. Please, Clark."
"Anything," Clark swears again, and carefully inserts a finger into Dick's ass.
He goes slowly, because he knows this part is important. If Dick's never had anyone inside him before, then Clark is damn well going to make his first time spectacular. And that means not actually hurting him.
After about a minute of just one finger, Dick starts trying to push back against it with an impatience that makes Clark smile.
"Trust me, Dick," Clark says softly. "I'll take care of you, okay? I've got you."
Dick twists his head back to look Clark in the eye. "I know," he says, incredibly honest, and the trust takes Clark's breath away.
Clark kisses him, a soft brush of their lips together. He pushes in a second fingers, slowly beginning to scissor them. His other hand he reaches down for Dick's cock, stroking him leisurely, enjoying the way he whines and writhes beneath him. So beautiful. All for him.
A third finger, and he curls them against Dick's prostate. Dick jolts, a moan tearing out of his throat. "Please."
"So beautiful," Clark breathes. He removes his fingers, and takes a steadying breath. He kisses Dick's temple. "Are you ready?"
Dick swallows and nods. "Yeah. Yeah, please, Clark, I'm ready, I'm ready—"
Clark pushes inside, one hand a firm grip of Dick's hip to hold him in place. Dick gasps for air, eyes wide. Clark stays still once he's all the way inside, littering kisses across Dick's shoulder blades. He feels amazing. Clark wants nothing more than to move, than to take what he wants from Dick, to bring them both pleasure—but he waits. This is Dick's first time. He needs a minute.
Dick shifts carefully beneath him, testing out the feeling. He clenches down around Clark, and a groan rips out of Clark's throat.
"Okay," Dick says, and Clark sees he's smiling. "Okay, let's—you should move. Uh, go—go slow, first."
"Of course," Clark agrees immediately. "Of course."
He pulls back slowly, and pushes back inside for the same count. It's almost like torture to hold back so thoroughly, but Clark has spent years holding back in so many ways. With his powers he could destroy a continent while barely lifting a finger—he knows how to control himself.
But Dick makes it incredibly difficult.
"Okay," Dick says again, after a little while, his hips grinding back as much as they can with the way Clark has him pinned in place. "Okay you can—please, go faster. Harder, Clark please."
Clark does as he's asked.
Dick writhes and thrashes beneath him and he keeps him contained effortlessly, fucking into the boy he's adored for so long, loving each and every sound of pleasure that escapes his perfect boy.
"I'm—Clark, I'm—I'm close, I'm—"
"Come for me, Dick," Clark breathes. "I've got you. I've always got you."
Dick moans out his name as he comes, and that sound drags Clark right over the edge, hips stuttering as he spills himself inside of Dick.
They stay there for a moment, catching their breaths, and then Dick winces beneath him, shifting. Clark pulls out immediately and lays Dick down, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. Dick grins lazily up at him, kissing back, eyes half-lidded.
"How's a shower sound?" Clark asks quietly.
"Impossible," Dick declares. "No way is my body managing to stand upright."
Clark smiles. "I can help with that."
He lifts Dick into his arms, flying them towards the bathroom. He holds Dick with one hand and turns on the shower with the other, waiting for the water to heat up before stepping inside.
He washes Dick slowly, placing kisses everywhere he can reach, enjoying the simple press of Dick's body against his own. When the shower's over he dries him off just as gently, and then sets Dick down to sit on the toilet for a moment while he quickly flashes into the bedroom to change the sheets, and then lays Dick down again, sliding in behind him, curling around the younger man.
"Thank you," Dick whispers, relaxing back against him.
Clark kisses the top of his head. "That's my line, Red."
He sees the corner of Dick's smile as they both drift off to sleep.
Clark is the first one to wake up.
Which means he is alone with his thoughts when the guilt hits.
How could he have done this? Dick was heartbroken because of Bruce firing him, in an extremely vulnerable mental state. Clark took advantage of a vulnerable—child. Dick is seventeen. Clark took advantage of a years' old crush and the vulnerable mental state of a child in order to get his rocks off. How despicable is he? Dick is supposed to be able to trust him; how can he, if Clark only hurts him?
Bruises are already forming on Dick's body, bruises that show how roughly Clark must've been treating him. God, he's a monster. He pinned Dick down and took what he wanted from this beautiful, kind boy. He should be in prison.
Clark slides out of bed, careful to not wake Dick up. He pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a random t-shirt, and creeps out into the living room. He sits down on the couch and puts his head in his hands. He shouldn't have done that. He's supposed to have better self-control than that. He hurt Dick. He can't believe he hurt Dick.
He doesn't know how long he sits there before he forces himself up, forces himself to go make breakfast. Food should be waiting, for whenever Dick wakes up. Clark should make a couple calls, too. Clearly Dick can't stay here anymore, it's not safe. Diana would take Dick in without question. Barry and Dinah, too. Dick would be good with them. They'd take care of him.
When Dick comes padding into the kitchen, he's only wearing one of Clark's shirts. It hangs down to Dick's mid-thighs, a sight that Clark has to rip his eyes away from, guilt flooding his system once more. Those thighs are covered in marks he left behind, a stain on Dick's skin.
"Hey," Dick greets with a soft smile. He leans against Clark's back, forehead pressed between his shoulder blades, arms lifting to curl loosely around Clark's middle. "Smells good."
Clark carefully disentangles himself from Dick's grasp, pushing the boy back gently. "Why don't you sit down?" he suggests, not meeting Dick's eyes. "I'll bring you a plate."
Dick hesitates. "I—okay." He sounds unsure, confused, but does as he's asked, sitting down on one of the barstools tucked against the kitchen island.
When the food is done Clark puts some on a plate and places it in front of Dick, and then moves back over to the counter to clean up. He can feel Dick watching him, and the boy hasn't started to eat, but Clark pretends to not notice. How can he face him, after what he did?
"Are you alright?" Dick asks hesitantly after a little while of Clark stalling.
Clark sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. Okay, he can do this. He can. He's Superman, Superman can do anything.
He turns back around, facing Dick. The boy's brow is furrowed, his eyes troubled, searching Cark's face, trying to understand.
"I'm going to call Diana," Clark starts with, and Dick blinks. "I'm sure she'd love to have you stay with her, and I know you like visiting DC. So, I think that's the best choice. Of course Barry and Dinah are both good choices as well, if you'd prefer either of them. I highly doubt they'd say no to housing you."
Dick stares at him. "I—what?"
Clark swallows. Christ, he doesn't want to do this. He wants to hold Dick close, wants to feel him again—but he can't. That was wrong. "You can't stay here, so I just want to know who you'd prefer to stay with."
Dick blinks. "You're—kicking me out?" He shakes his head a little. "I don't understand, you said I could stay as long as I want."
"That was before last night," Clark explains gently.
Dick flinches back like he's been slapped, and it breaks Clark's heart in two. He can't believe he hurt this boy. Christ, he deserves whatever Bruce decides to dole out.
"Are you serious?" Dick asks, voice breaking. He gets to his feet. He's shaking. "That's all you—that's all you wanted? So you—you fuck me and then you get rid of me? I thought you—I thought you cared, I thought you gave a shit about me but all you wanted was to get in my pants?"
Clark stares at him, stunned. "Of course I care about you," he says hoarsely. "I care about you more than just about anyone!"
"Then I don't understand!" Dick says desperately. "You seemed so happy last night, and now you're getting rid of me—was that all it was for you? And now you don't even want me around?"
Fuck, Clark's gone about this all wrong. He didn't explain it right, Dick thinks that all Clark was after was sex, which couldn't be farther from the truth.
"No, Dick, listen to me," Clark says. "I absolutely want you around. It was not just about sex. I—Christ, Dick, do you have any idea how important you are to me? That's why you have to leave. Last night—I shouldn't have done that. I hurt you, I took advantage of you. You shouldn't stay here after that."
Dick presses the heels of his hands against his eyes and drags in a shuddering breath.
"The only hurting you did was hurting I begged you to," he says between gritted teeth. "And you didn't take advantage. I've wanted you for a very long time, and you wanted me, too, now, and we had a really good time. At least I—I had a really good time. So don't—you can't poison that, don't poison this for me. Last night was amazing, Clark, and you can't just decide that it was a mistake. It wasn't one, not for me. It was amazing, so please don't act like you regret it, please, Clark, don't say you regret me—"
Clark is by his side in an instant, pulling him into his arms. He never wants to be responsible for making Dick feel this way.
"I could never regret you," Clark says fiercely. "Not ever. I just—don't want to hurt you. You're young, you deserve—but no, I don't regret having sex with you, not for a single moment. Last night was so special, Dick. You are so special. I'm sorry I made you feel differently. It wasn't a mistake. It was amazing."
Dick sags against him, hugging tightly. "I want to stay here with you. Please, Clark, don't make me go."
Clark closes his eyes and presses a kiss to the top of his head. "You can stay here as long as you want. I swear it."
Clark leans against the wall, arms folded across his chest, listening to the others bicker.
Hal is gesturing wildly as he attempts to make his point, but Dinah looks less than impressed, standing her ground and shouting right back. Oliver, behind her, is making an attempt to look supportive even while he's clearly hesitant. Barry is bouncing anxiously on the balls of his feet, hesitantly offering his opinion to the group. Arthur offers his as well, far less hesitantly. Diana is frowning at them all, her stance already made clear.
Close to Clark is Batman, who stands quietly and watches everyone as well. Clark wonders which secret is the one that has Bruce silent, which secret is the one he's trying to keep hidden this time. Clark knows his, has known his since the moment they were told the rules of this game. But Batman has so many—is Bruce wondering which one is good enough to qualify for the rules? Does he know already?
It's very rare that a villain manages to trap the Justice League so thoroughly. There are seven of them trapped in here, none of their powers working, the magic keeping them bound far too strong.
A test, the sorcerer told them. A game. Only one way out, only one way to escape and stop them before they continue to wreck havoc on the world.
Each of you has a secret you have been working to conceal from the others. Tell the secrets, and you all will go free.
Diana told hers right away, to no one's surprise; she's never been one to lie or conceal. She carries the Lasso of Truth with honor. Which of course meant that her secret was an absolutely tiny one, but it was the only thing she'd been purposefully keeping hidden from them.
So now they all know that she has Oliver in their Secret Santa.
The others are all arguing. Obviously they all want to escape, but secrets are fickle things. Depending on what they are, they can ruin lives, destroy friendships. Clark can understand why Hal is so adamant on them working harder to find another way.
After all, once Clark shares his secret, he's going to lose his best friend.
But they really do need to get out of here. The sorcerer is out in the world doing God knows what and they're just sitting on their asses, worrying about their own secrets and their own lives. There are so many people out there in danger. They matter more.
"Fine!" Hal shouts, and Dinah cuts off whatever she was saying. "Fine. Fuck, fine." He glances back at Oliver and winces. "Sorry, man. Okay, well, Arrow and I used to hook up. Like a lot. Once in the Watchtower monitor room."
Everyone is silent. Oliver is looking at Dinah, mouth open in preparation of an apology.
But Dinah laughs. "Did you think we didn't know that?" she asks incredulously. "Hey, show of hands; who in this room didn't know the Greens used to bump uglies?"
No one raises their hands. A hysterical little laugh escapes Oliver, and Hal just blinks incredulously. "Are you—are you serious?"
Dinah snorts, shaking her head. "Wow. And here I was, thinking you must have something interesting you're hiding from us. Oliver? Anything you'd like to say?"
"That was my secret too," Oliver says faintly. He looks like he wants to pass out. Clark barely has it in him to be amused, stomach twisted into knots. "You really—you knew?"
Dinah offers him a slightly pitying look. "Ollie, I love you, but you can't keep a secret to save your life. Of course I knew when you and Hal started sleeping together. I kept waiting for you to bring it up. Not like I would've said no if you asked to bring him into our bed."
Oliver looks like he's going to combust. Hal looks to be very taken with that mental image.
"Great, now that that's out of the way..." Dinah takes a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."
Stunned silence. Oliver's jaw drops. "I—"
"We can talk about it later," Dinah says firmly. "Once we're out of here. Who's next?"
"I'm considering leaving the League," Barry says quietly. Everyone turns to look at him. "Iris is having twins, she almost had a miscarriage last month...Nothing's set in stone yet, but. I'm considering it."
They all digest that solemnly for a moment.
"I hate being king," Arthur tells them. "I am a warrior at my core. And though being king brought Mera to me, which I am thankful for, I wish that I could abdicate. I do not wish to rule any longer. I wish to live simply with my wife. But there is no one to pass the crown to."
Diana puts a hand on Arthur's shoulder, squeezing gently.
And then the attention shifts to where Clark and Bruce stand.
"Well I get why Spooky is being so tight-lipped," Hal says. "His secrets have secrets. But what about you, Boy Scout? What secret could you possibly have? Take too many cookies from the jar?"
Clark really doesn't appreciate the example.
He keeps breathing. Slow and steady. He needs to keep calm. This is going to be so bad. Bruce is never going to speak to him again.
"I'm so sorry, B," Clark says quietly. He sees Bruce's jaw twitch, the most amount of surprise they'll ever get while he's wearing the cowl.
"What," he says flatly. Everyone else is dead silent, but Clark can feel them watching.
Clark takes a deep breath. "I slept with Nightwing."
Someone gasps. Someone says, "Oh, fuck."
Batman stares at him. His jaw ticks. "When."
Clark swallows. 'Oh, fuck' is right. "Right before he became Nightwing."
The room chills noticeably, all radiating from Batman. Because he knows what that means. It means Dick was seventeen. So not only did Clark sleep with his son, he slept with his underage son. Quite a few times, in fact. Dick stayed with him for a few weeks before he went to New York to join his team, carrying a new name honoring a Kryptonian legend and making Clark as proud as can be.
Not that that was the last time they slept together. Dick visited a lot. And invited Clark to see him, as well. It wasn't always sex though, not even close. They dated, sort of. Never made anything official, because they couldn't, really. But it was special. Dick is special. Clark loved him. Loves him. It's all very confusing.
And now Bruce knows.
"If you share your secret, we can get out of here," Clark says quietly, looking down. He can't meet Bruce's eyes.
He doesn't even hear what Bruce reveals. Barely notices the frustrated, incredulous noises from some of the others. All he can think about is the last time he and Dick were together, the way the younger man's eyes crinkled as he smiled, wind whipping through his hair as he leapt off the roof of a thirty story building without line, trusting Clark to catch him.
They get out, and they find the sorcerer, and they save the day.
And Bruce looks at him.
When Bruce heads for the door, Clark follows.
He takes them to the Fortress of Solitude.
Clark doesn't say a word during the flight, instead sitting silently in the batplane, listening to Bruce's heartbeat and trying to reassure himself that killing him is actually quite difficult. Even if Bruce has kryptonite on him, it'll still take some amount of effort to actually kill him. And bringing them to the Fortress of Solitude—this is Clark's home turf. This place will work to save the last of the House of El.
If Bruce was going to kill him, this is the last place he would bring him. Bruce is smarter than that.
Clark reminds himself of that over and over again, never saying a word. He follows Bruce out of the plane, then lets them both into the Fortress, then follows Bruce into the main room. He watches Bruce look around like the man hasn't been here countless times, and then stands very still when Bruce finally turns to look at him.
"He," Bruce says, his voice the one he uses for the worst of the worst in Gotham, "was seventeen."
When Bruce throws a punch, his fist is coated in kryptonite.
It sends Clark stumbling, unprepared. His head spins, vertigo hitting him. Fuck he hates kryptonite. One touch and he already feels weak, already wants to just collapse to the floor. He can feel it on his face, a residue left behind. Surely purposeful, knowing Bruce's mind. Probably some concoction of his to make sure the kryptonite stays.
"Bruce," Clark says, managing to keep himself on his feet. "Bruce—"
Bruce hits him again, on the other side of his face. And then again. It makes Clark's knees shake, barely keeping him up. He feels like he's going to throw up.
Clark doesn't want to fight him. Bruce is his friend, his best friend. He doesn't want to fight him. But Bruce obviously doesn't feel the same way, and he's playing to win.
"Will you just—just listen to me?" Clark manages to jerk out of the way of another hit, and Bruce lets him go, not making any moves to approach, allowing Clark to steady himself on his feet as much as he can. He rubs his arms over his face, trying to clean off some of the kryptonite, help his head stop throbbing as hard as it is now.
"Listen to you?" Bruce asks dangerously. "You want me to listen to you? He was seventeen! He was a child!"
"If he was a child why did you kick him out of your home?" Clark snaps back. Because he knows he's in the wrong, he knows Bruce has every right to be angry. But he won't allow Bruce to forget what he's done to Dick.
"This is not about my actions," Bruce hisses.
"No," Clark agrees tiredly. "No, it's about mine. But it involves you. He came to me after you'd fired him. He didn't know where else to go."
"And so in exchange for your help—"
"No!" Clark shouts, horrified. "No, that's not what happened. I didn't—I didn't leverage anything against him, he was always welcome to stay with me when he had a fight with you. This was bigger, but no different. No, it just...it just happened."
Bruce lips curl back in a sneer. "There have been many occasions when some of the younger heroes have stayed with you for some reason or another; should I tell the League to start asking their children if anything 'just happened'?"
Clark swallows back his offense at that, his outrage that Bruce could think that. He has to remain calm.
"No," Clark says. His body is complaining, and he takes a few steps over to where a table sits, and then he leans against it, letting it take his weight. "No, that's not what happened.
"Bruce, Dick is an incredibly special person. He is special to me. And he...he wasn't a child, not really. I know he was seventeen, but—"
"There is no but!" Bruce roars. He rips the cowl off, revealing the furious face of a father terrified for his son. "Yes, I made mistakes with Dick, but that does not excuse you having sex with a seventeen-year-old who worshiped the ground you walked on! Was that it, Clark? Did you like the way Dick looked at you like you hung the moon? Did it make you feel like a god?"
Clark closes his eyes. He's never wanted to be a god; it was everyone else who compared him to one. It was everyone else who said they should fear his wrath, everyone else who said he granted miracles. He's never wanted to be anything other than Clark Kent.
Dick never looked at him like he was god. He looked at him like he mattered.
Yes, there was some hero worship for a long time. Clark can acknowledge that, there's no way not to. But it wasn't about that. He and Dick aren't about that. When they had sex—that wasn't Robin looking up to Superman. That was beautiful Dick Grayson, and the lucky sucker who got to be his first.
"After it happened," Clark says, "I started making plans for him to leave. I felt—horrible, for what I'd done. Thought I'd abused him. But it wasn't—it was good, Bruce. It was something good. He needed me, and I needed him. And we were—good."
"When did you start looking at him that way?" Bruce demands, which Clark supposes is a fair question.
A fair question that Clark doesn't want to answer. Because he's...not actually sure when, and that's something that's always bothered him. He'd like to say he only started noticing Dick when he turned sixteen, but he remembers his discomfort with Dick dating others before that. He remembers how much he loved Dick turning to him before he turned to anyone else.
Clark doesn't know if he wants to pull that thread, what it might say about him if he finds out the truth. The fact that he was looking at sixteen-year-old Dick is a problem. He doesn't need to make it any worse.
"I don't know, a little before that," Clark says helplessly. "Bruce, I—" He shakes his head. "He was seventeen, Bruce, not twelve. He had the ability to make his own decisions, and know himself well enough to make a choice like that. He was mature enough to choose whether or not to follow his feelings."
"I can't believe you!" Bruce shouts. "You are perverted, and now you're trying to justify it? He was a child! And don't give me any bullshit about being mature for his age or having seen enough in the world to have grown up past his years, because it doesn't change the fact that he was seventeen.
"You know, just two days ago a teacher at Dick's old high school was arrested for having sex with a student—he said that the girl was wise beyond her years, and that made it okay. It's not okay. What you did is not okay!"
Clark doesn't know how to explain it. He doesn't know if he can. He knows Bruce will never forgive this, that this will always stay with him. That while Bruce was in Gotham, furious and afraid and wondering where his son ended up, Clark had been sharing his bed.
Clark understands how this can be seen as a betrayal. He feels like he betrayed Bruce's trust. Because eleven years ago Bruce allowed Clark to meet his child and Clark swore he'd keep him safe, and yes he's kept him safe from the world the best he could, but maybe he didn't keep him safe from himself.
Maybe Clark didn't try hard enough to dissuade Dick's crush. Maybe Clark encouraged it, or made Dick feel justified. Maybe he led Dick along to the wish to be with Clark in that way. He doesn't know, he truly doesn't. From time to time it keeps him up, wondering.
But Dick is his own man. Is now, and was three years ago. Clark knows that sounds like an excuse, but it's the best he's got. Otherwise he'd go mad.
"I know, and I'm sorry," Clark says. "I'm sorry I betrayed your trust. I'm sorry that I've made you afraid for your son. But I can't...I won't apologize for loving him."
Bruce growls. "You love the way he makes you feel, like you're oh-so-important. The great Kal-El of Krypton."
"No, I love him," Clark says softly. "He's an incredible person, Bruce. He's deserving of love."
"Don't try to preach to me," Bruce snaps. "Of course he's deserving of love, that is not the conversation at hand. We're discussing you fucking my son!"
Clark takes a few deep breaths. It's rare to see Bruce so openly angry. His anger is usually cold. Vicious and quick, furious punches and chilling silences. If anything shows his love for his kid, it's how out of control he is right now.
"I don't know what else you want me to say," Clark sighs. He still feels woozy. His face is tingling. "I can't—I don't know what else to say. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I did, and it's been years since it happened. I can't undo it...nor would I."
Bruce turns his head to the side, jaw clenched. His fists are flexing like he's itching to hit Clark again, but instead he only pulls the cowl back up into place.
"That's not good enough," he says flatly, and turns for the exit.
"Bruce," Clark calls. The other man pauses. "Are we still...are we still friends?"
Silence for a very long time, the only sound that of Clark's own labored breathing, loud in his ears.
And then the Batman says, "I'll see you at the next Justice League meeting, Superman."
Clark watches him go, something tight in his gut. He debates going after him, but right now he doesn't trust his ability to walk that far, let alone fly after the batplane if Bruce has already taken off.
In a few days, he'll go. He'll give Bruce a few days to simmer, to digest everything more fully, to maybe consider the things Clark said. And then Clark will go to the cave, and try to get Bruce to talk to him. Try to explain again. Request the absence of kryptonite while they talk.
Bruce is his best friend, one of the most important people in the world to Clark; he doesn't want to lose him.
If there was ever anything worth losing him over, though—it would be Dick.
Clark closes his eyes and focuses, extending his hearing, searching for that familiar pulse. He finds Dick at work, talking with some of his coworkers about their most recent case. His voice is excited, animated, breaths fast to match it. But his pulse is as steady as always.
Clark keeps focusing on it, lets it resonate through his entire body. Lets himself tune in to Dick. And he lets it bring him peace, just like it has countless times before.