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Fic: A Wedding Present

Title:  A Wedding Present
Characters:  Bruce/Diana, Clark
Disclaimer: The boys belong to DC and to each other, but not to me.
Notes: Written for the 2006 Secret Santa for

taro_twist...but I have to apologize because I think I did poorly by her.  This story ends sadly, I'm afraid.  Forewarned is forearmed...
Rating: PG
Summary:  taro_twist's prompt:  Movieverse Clark comes back from Krypton to discover that, not only is Lois engaged, but Bruce is, too (it's up to you who he's engaged to ... Talia, Selina, Diana ... hell, Wally ... your pick, as long as it's not an OC). To Clark's surprise, finding out about Bruce's engagement is even more painful than finding out about Lois's. Will Clark manage to be honest with himself about his feelings for Bruce? And will he fight for the man he loves, or do the "right thing" and let it go?"  The original with all the wonderful feedback people gave me can be found here.
Word Count: 2367



Clark had been surprised at how angry he'd felt when he heard of Lois's engagement, the surge of possessive fury lurching within him until he snapped the picture frame with its happy, careless faces. 

He was even more surprised at the wave of desolation that had swept over him at the news of Diana's engagement.

"Wedding of the Century!" the headlines had shrieked the day he arrived in Metropolis.  Clark stared at the engagement photo on the front page, feeling dizzy and sick and hideously alone.  He had often thought of Diana during his long trip, of course.  He had sometimes imagined her easy laugh, her understanding empathy beside him through the long silent spaces.  But he had never thought to call the emotion he felt for the Amazon "love."  Yet he realized abruptly it must have been.  It must have been love all along, because otherwise why would the realization she was getting married this very evening fill him with such icy grief? 

The man next to Diana in the photo smiled out at Clark, his aristocratic face lean and handsome, the wolfish, predatory lines softened ever so slightly.  Bruce would make her a wonderful husband if he were able to let go of his arrogance and isolation a little, Clark thought.  He should be jealous of Bruce, he supposed, but somehow he wasn't.  Jealousy would have at least warmed him a little.

Instead, he merely felt cold and forlorn.

He shouldn't go.  They didn't even know he was back yet.  They certainly didn't need him showing up on what should be the happiest day of their lives, calling on old ties.  He smoothed out the morning edition of the Planet with "The Princess and the Playboy" emblazoned above their picture.  The wedding was in four hours at Gotham Cathedral.

He shouldn't go.

: : :

Gotham Cathedral loomed into the sky in front of Clark Kent.  The evening sunset was crimson and gold behind its spires, glowering.  Diana shouldn't be getting married in Gotham, he thought.  She should be married someplace that suited her more--somewhere bright and joyous.  Not this ominous and gloomy city, as inscrutable and difficult as its most famous inhabitant.

Still, he had to admit the blood-red sky had a somber, almost mesmerizing beauty.  Clark looked up at at the Gothic black towers against the sky and felt another rush of sorrow swamp him.  He set his teeth against it.  He wasn't going to let his sadness at losing Diana keep him from enjoying the wedding of his two best friends.

At the church door, a security guard started to turn him aside.  "I'm sorry, sir, no one gets in without an invitation."  Clark opened his mouth to protest--but what exactly could he have said?  "Please, I have to get in, I have to see them one last time"?--when a voice came from inside the church.

"Clark?  Clark?  Jesus Christ, it is you!"  Dick Grayson, grown out of his gangly teens into a handsome, self-assured young man, darted forward to wrap his arms around the reporter.  "Oh God," Dick said almost tearfully, "They'll be so happy, so damn happy to see you.  Clark," he repeated as if he couldn't believe it.  He turned to the security guard.  "This is an old family friend, I'll vouch for him," he said, and led Clark into the cathedral.

Inside it was oddly hushed, considering how crowded it was.  "The rest of the League's up front and in costume--why didn't you come in costume?" Dick asked quietly.

"I haven't made a public re-appearance yet...if I came in costume it might distract from the wedding."  This older Dick looked so much like Bruce in some ways--the dark hair, the intense glance.  Clark found himself holding onto the young man's shoulder like an anchor, and forced himself to let go.

The younger man snorted.  "Might distract, yeah.  I'll go tell them you're here--"

Clark caught at his arm as he turned to go.  "No, Dick, please.  I don't want to...to be in the way.  Let them focus on each other.  I'll catch up with them after the ceremony."  Dick cast him a quizzical look, but didn't question him.  "Are they happy?" Clark asked, hating the stiffness in his voice.

Dick's face lit up like a sunrise.  "Clark, they're so good for each other.  You wouldn't believe what being in love with her has done for Bruce.  Last night--you won't believe this--last night he put his arms around me and told me he's always been proud of me.  And he hadn't even been drinking!"  Dick's chuckle elicited a laugh from Clark as well;  he tried to ignore the totally unreasonable misery welling up inside him.  Dick glanced at his watch.  "I have to get going, the best man can't be late, after all."  He wrapped Clark up in another warm hug.  "You won't leave without talking to them?  Promise?"

"I promise," said Clark, and watched the young man's tuxedo-clad form hurry away.  He slipped into the back of the church, making himself as inconspicuous as possible.  Most of the people who would know Clark Kent were in the front--and he was, after all, something of an expert at disappearing into crowds.

As he sat in the pew, listening to the murmur of people around him waiting for the ceremony to start, Clark found his mind taunting him with images of what he had lost.  He shook his head viciously, but he could still see them--Bruce's strong, capable hands sliding down her athletic body, caressing her.  That stern mouth relaxed into sweetness, kissing her lips and her hair.  The sound of Bruce's voice lowered in warmth and affection, whispering endearments...Clark shook his head again and slumped further into his pew.  He should feel anger, like he did toward Lois.  He should feel jealousy, like he did toward Richard.  Not this wasteland of sadness.

The processional music started, breaking him from his reverie.  The couple came in holding hands, to walk down the aisle together--no man would be "giving away" this bride, thought Clark affectionately.  As Bruce and Diana stood together at the altar, listening to the minister speak, Clark got his first look at both of them in five years.

Diana looked lovely as ever, nearly unchanged, in her ivory sheath dress, a silvery tiara crowning her dark hair and her veil floating behind her like mist.  But Clark found his eyes drawn irresistibly to Bruce.  Maybe it was because he had altered more in five years.  Maybe it was because it hurt too much to look at Diana.  Clark fixed his gaze on his friend's face and couldn't seem to look away.

Five years had changed Bruce.  Diana had changed Bruce.  He looked older, of course, but the lines around his eyes and lips were more those of laughter than pain.  He stood with an easy grace, clasping the Amazon's hands between his own.  He looked...centered.  Balanced.  Happy in a deeper, more meaningful sense than the word usually implied: not the facile lack of sorrow, but the heart-deep happiness that one can only find on the other side of it.  Clark could see the first few strands of silver in the night-dark hair and felt his heart turn over.  But the smile Bruce was directing toward Diana was not the fake smile of his persona, it was genuinely warm--a smile Clark had only seen a few times in his life.

Bruce was beautiful, self-assured, wholly himself. 

Clark watched him.

The couple was saying their vows now, their voices clear and strong.  At "till death do us part," Clark tried to find a bleak consolation.  In the grand scheme of things, Bruce would die long before either Clark and Diana, and Clark would finally have his chance.  He saw it with a surreal, almost mad clarity:  Bruce would die someday and leave them both alone.  He and Diana would get together to talk about him, to grieve and share their memories of him--his grace and passion, his friendship and his love.  They would laugh and cry together and inevitably they would be drawn to each other.

This should have comforted him, or at least given him a bitter, alpha-male sense of victory. 

Instead it made him want to howl.

The officiant was declaring them husband and wife, and Bruce was leaning in to kiss his new bride, a passionate kiss that lasted long enough that the audience began to laugh and applaud.  Clark discovered that his hands were clenched, the nails cutting into his palms, and he uncurled them to join in the applause.  Diana's arms were twined around Bruce's neck and they both paused to catch their breath after the kiss, laughing.

They swept out of the church together, Dick and Dinah following them.   Clark shrank down so the bride and groom wouldn't notice him, but Dick caught his eye and frowned at him.  Clark sighed and took advantage of being in the back of the building to slip out shortly after them. 

On the stairs just outside, Bruce and Diana posed for photographs, then started to greet their guests.  The current of conversation drew the two apart, and soon Clark was behind Diana, Bruce well out of earshot.  Clark had been watching Diana carefully, waiting for his opening.  He felt gripped by a strange, almost preternatural urgency.  He had to be the first--had to be.  It was his only chance.  His last chance.

He reached out and tapped the Amazon on the shoulder.  She turned and her mouth fell open, her eyes kindling with joy.  "Clark!  Oh, merciful Hera, you've come back to us...you've come back to us," she choked. 

He couldn't allow himself to be distracted.  "May I be the first to kiss the bride?" he asked with a smile, and stepped in to put his mouth to hers.

Clark felt her lips warm beneath his and knew a thrill of triumph.  It had mattered more than anything that he be the first to kiss her.  The triumph suddenly shivered close to anguish; realization hovered terrifyingly near.  He was the first to kiss Diana since her husband.  Since Bruce had put his lips to these lips.  And it mattered more than anything.

Because it was the closest he'd ever get now to--

The closest he'd ever get--

Diana pulled away from him at the sound he made then, her eyes wide.  She reached out and touched her fingers to his cheeks; they came away wet.  "Kal," she whispered.  "What's wrong?"

He flinched away from her gentle hand and stumbled through the crowd, making his way to an empty side garden near the cathedral.  Pale roses shone everywhere in the rising moonlight; a fountain splashed quietly.  Clark sank down onto a bench and tried to catch his breath.

Diana was close behind him.  She sat down next to Clark and put her arms around him.  "Clark, what's wrong?  Please tell me."

Clark swallowed hard and put his head on her shoulder.  She could feel his tears falling onto her skin.  "I didn't know what I wanted," he said shakily.  "I didn't know, and now it's too late and I've lost it forever, and I didn't even know." 

Any other woman would probably have assumed Clark was talking about her, but Diana of Themyscira is the goddess and living avatar of Truth.  Her arms tightened around him and they sat quietly for a time.  There was nothing she could say that was both truthful and comforting, so she said nothing at all, just held his shaking shoulders gently.

A desolate eternity later, Bruce's voice broke into the hush of the garden.  "Diana?  Dick told me--" He broke off when he saw Clark sitting on the bench, stopping dead in the moonlight.  "Clark," he breathed, "I could hardly believe him, but it's true.  You're back."  He stepped forward to clasp Clark's hand as he stood up, then abruptly pulled his friend into an embrace.  "Clark," he repeated wonderingly.  "And I thought this day couldn't be any happier."  He flashed a swift smile at Diana over his friend's shoulder.  "Clark's back," he said simply.

She returned the smile.  "I noticed."

Clark grinned at Bruce.  It was good to see him and hear his voice.  It was good to hold him.  For the moment, he folded his pain up tightly and put it away.  "Congratulations, Bruce," he said softly.  "You're a lucky man."

"Don't I know it."  Bruce was shaking his head, staring at Clark.  "God, man, we've missed you here."

"I've missed you too."  Clark stepped back out of the hug, but Bruce kept one arm slung around his shoulders, as if afraid he'd fly away again if he let go.  Clark looked apologetic.  "I...didn't have time to get you a present.  I just arrived late last night...didn't find out about the wedding until this morning..." 

Bruce and Diana both laughed.  "You're joking, right?" asked Bruce.  "Your return is the best wedding present we could have ever asked for."  Diana nodded silently and put a hand on Clark's arm.  They stood there a moment, a tableau in the pale light.

The stillness was suddenly broken by a siren in the distance, then two, then a multitude.  Bruce and Diana tensed, looking at each other.

"I'll deal with it," said Clark.  "You stay here and enjoy your day.  Consider it my wedding present to you both," he added.

A silent consideration between the newlyweds, the quick flash of communication that well-matched couples have, and Bruce nodded to Clark, smiling ruefully.  "Dick would never forgive me if I ditched my own wedding."

Diana reached out and touched Clark's cheek.  "We'll see you again soon?" she asked tentatively.  Clark nodded, suddenly unable to trust his voice again.

In a flash he was in costume and taking to the sky.  He heard the awed gasp of the crowd as he soared above them--He's back, Superman is back, thank God.  Clark tried to tell himself that their wonder and gratitude made him feel better.  But he had touched his lips to Truth incarnate tonight, and he was unable to lie to himself anymore.

He arrowed toward the sound of the sirens.  Whatever crisis or catastrophe it was, he knew he'd be there in time, able to save anyone who needed it, ready to right any wrong.

He was Superman, after all.

And Superman was never too late.





( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 31st, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your earlier feedback and this feedback as well! I think it's the first S/B I've ever written with a sad ending, LOL. It was rather interesting (fun?) to write for that reason alone, though Clark made my heart hurt...
Dec. 31st, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
eee! Jen! You completely ripped my heart out with this, no fair giving me both my OTPs in one fic. *bawls*

On the one hand, I love how happy Bruce is, at the same time, Clark's misery is so palpable.. *hugs the poor boy*

Kudos on a beautiful story!
Dec. 31st, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, I love how happy Bruce is, at the same time, Clark's misery is so palpable..

It was so hard to write them at such different extremes! I had to make Bruce really honestly happy to drive home the hopelessness of it all, but poor Clark...*sniffles*

Sorry to rip your heart out, I'll...uh...get you another? :) Glad you liked it. *grin*
Dec. 31st, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
LOL, my happy fannish heart loved this, even if my S/B heart hurt, because I had to make Bruce really honestly happy doing that is not small feat. Never a small feat. And he's so adorable!

His pal is back! Look Diana, he's back! Yeah, yeah, we married, but looooook! he's back, yay!

"Don't I know it." Bruce was shaking his head, staring at Clark. "God, man, we've missed you here."

"I've missed you too." Clark stepped back out of the hug, but Bruce kept one arm slung around his shoulders, as if afraid he'd fly away again if he let go.

:) Go, happy Bruce. Go be happy and bring smiles to my life!

*hugs Clark* It breaks my heart.. I love how Clark was sure he was un love with Diana until the kiss, and the truth! ah, the truth is always terrible when we don't expect it. But... your Diana is wonderful, I love her in all her Rossian beauty, and I knew you could never do wrong by her :)

Much love for Dick, too. He's so happy too! Just... silly Clark. Leaving was a crappy choice.

I loved this a lot, Jen. You fixed my het heart, and I re-read this even though I promised no more het for me for the year! Your power compells me, kitten :)
Jan. 1st, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
LOL, my happy fannish heart loved this, even if my S/B heart hurt, because I had to make Bruce really honestly happy doing that is not small feat.

LOL, I like the distinction between the fannish heart and the S/B heart here! Yes, if not being with Clark is what it takes to make Bruce happy...both Clark and I will swallow hard and wish him happiness. :)

I'm glad I managed to do right by Diana. It's always very hard to write the women who inevitably mess up are in our boys' lives.

I'm glad you made an exception to your no het rule for this one, Mina. :)
Dec. 31st, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, ow. I can only console myself with denial - they're going to have a threesome!

This was a beautiful line: But he had touched his lips to Truth incarnate tonight, and he was unable to lie to himself anymore.
Jan. 1st, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
I can only console myself with denial - they're going to have a threesome!

Far be it from me to deny anyone their denial. :) Threesome away! Glad you liked it, despite the sadness.
Jan. 1st, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
The realization of the kiss was beautifully written.
Jan. 1st, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you. That was definitely the moment that spawned the story. I'm glad you liked it!
Jan. 1st, 2007 07:27 am (UTC)
When I get time to start reading instead of just adding a link I start with yours and darn I just have my apple cider for toasting, all happy for the new year and then bam... I'm sad.

Beautiful but now I depressed. I mean I love the whole thing, Diana I love like this but I think I need to read...

*drinking more cider*

Happy New Year.
Jan. 1st, 2007 09:33 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry. This one is rather a downer for New Year's Eve, yes. Glad you liked it even though it made you sad.

*tips back some cider with you*
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 3rd, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! I usually find it hard to put movieverse Clark into the comics, but he worked fairly well here.

Much, much love for Happyverse icons!
Jan. 3rd, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
And this was just as wonderful as The Wolf and The Star, even though it was so cold and desolate and ... aie ... this was beyond angst ... not that the situation was the most awful situation you could have, but just the feelings Clark was going through were so awful and you really conveyed his emotions powerfully.

I was so convinced that Dan wrote this, though! I've somehow come to automatically associate any fic focusing on the Big Three with him. That and angst, lol. But anyway ... you write Diana really really well! I really loved her here, how she knew what Clark wanted but she didn't get mad at him or anything, she just held him. That was really beautifully sad.

And I loved how you built up to Clark realizing that he loved Bruce. How he was so convinced that he loved Diana up until he kissed her. That was a nice touch, too, him realizing his true feelings because he kissed the embodiment of truth.

And the descriptions here were amazingly poetic. Of the sunset behind Gotham Cathedral and of Bruce and Diana at the altar, and then when they went to the garden with the fountain afterwards.

And again, Clark's state of mind really came through in this. This whole fic was so bleak (in a good way!!)--gorgeous, but bleak--it was like Clark had lost so much by losing Bruce that he couldn't even feel anymore. And the contrast of Clark's feelings with Bruce and Diana being so joyful and happy to have him back made me feel his loss even stronger. Especially with Bruce being so happy and mellowed out with Diana. *sniff*

The ending was so painful, too, with the three of them standing together, and I just got this sense that things would never be the same between them ever again. It really captured the "you can never go home again" feeling. Even more than Superman Returns did, because here, you know it's final ... Clark will never ever be with Bruce. Aieeee .... and then Clark going off to keep the peace as a wedding present ... that reminded me of the scene you posted from JLA #0 where he's flying around with the birds at Donna Troy's(?) wedding. But it was so sad here, especially with him thinking about how he was never late. *tear*

This was wonderful angst though! Don't worry--you didn't do poorly at all! This was terrific!!! Gorgeously gorgeously written, and so emotional and so powerful. The whole thing was like a beautiful painting. Thank you very much.

And I can't remember whether I've wished you a happy new year yet, so--HAPPY NEW YEAR!! lol. I hope you have a wonderful 2007. :D
Jan. 4th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
I was so convinced that Dan wrote this, though! I've somehow come to automatically associate any fic focusing on the Big Three with him. That and angst, lol.

That's a reasonable mistake to make! Sad endings are not my usual thing, LOL.

it was like Clark had lost so much by losing Bruce that he couldn't even feel anymore.

"Bleak" is definitely one of the adjectives I was looking for here! Movieverse Clark is really good for being so disassociated from his own feelings that he can't even tell who it is that he loves. He fell into that role with frightening ease.

and then Clark going off to keep the peace as a wedding present ... that reminded me of the scene you posted from JLA #0 where he's flying around with the birds at Donna Troy's(?) wedding.

I was actually writing this story when I made that post! And I so wanted to talk about it at the time but I couldn't...so I'm glad you caught it! *grin*

I'm glad you liked it! I really wanted to see if I could write something that just plain ended sadly, but it went against all my natural instincts, LOL. I'm so glad I got to write two for you to balance it!

And Happy New Year to you as well! May 2007 be filled with happy geekiness for all of us.
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that Diana would look up and see Clark and being the Goddess of Truth that she is would say she couldn't marry Bruce because she knew that he didn't love her as much as he loved Clark then she'd push Bruce towards Clark.

But that's not what happened! Waaa!! You could have warned me! My poor Clarkie. Why couldn't they have waited five years?! Is that too much to ask?! Sniffle. And I've been a Clark/Diana fan longer than I've been a Clark/Bruce fan so this was doubly painful for me. Excellent work, but now I need to go read a happy Clark/Bruce fic.
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:54 am (UTC)
Re: sniffle!
Oh, you found my one really sad story! Sorry! I really set out to write something sad at this point because I was feeling like I was incapable of writing sad things. And I decided after writing this that I could do it...I just didn't want to. *grin*

I should have a few of those lying around... :)
Aug. 26th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Awe...my eye is brimming with baby tears....
That was bitter-sweet
Sep. 4th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
I'm not often in the mood for angsty endings, but I did enjoy this one, somehow. :) Glad you liked it too!
Jan. 6th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
awww! darn it, this is heartbreaking...

And Superman was never too late.

Poor Clarkie. :( *hugs him*

(ah, but how I love angst like this. beautiful, beautiful angst!)
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
Christmas gift fic seems to be where I tend to pull out the angst! The robot story this year will make it three years running I've written a sad story at Christmas time. That's...an odd record, lol... I'm glad you liked this one! It's always fun to indulge in a little angst...
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Christmas gift fic seems to be where I tend to pull out the angst!

hehehe! Christmas is the time when I most love to read angst. ;) I even sent in a prompt for the WFGE where I specifically requested a story that would make me cry -- hasn't been posted, as far as I can tell, but either way... point is: Christmas + angst = good!
Nov. 30th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
This is oh so heartbreaking! Poor Clark! I also feel a bit bad for Diana, I mean she knows her friend hurts, but can't do anything about the way she feels....
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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