Love in Orbit - Chapter 1 - SteamyEarlGray (2024)

Chapter Text

Bruce steps out onto the patio as Clark arrives, dressed more comfortably in what his kids called his signature black turtleneck and gray pants. He tucks his hands into his pockets after shutting the door behind him, seeming to enjoy the warm summer evening for a few moments as he waits for Clark to land.

“Hey,” Clark says, a rather somber expression on his face compared to the usual cheery one, a furrow between his brows. He’s not in his suit but is wearing dark colors so no one would see him fly in.

"Hey," Bruce nods towards Clark, he offers him a weak smile as he looks the other man over. "Most of the kids are out, something about sibling bonding..." He shakes his head slightly as he rolls his eyes. "It'll just be us in the cave for the next few hours."

“That’s fine. I don’t feel like acting less…well this,” Clark says and follows Bruce inside. “Do you know anything about what’s on here? Or are we going in blind?”

"I had no clue he had made it until he handed me an envelope," Bruce sighs as he fixes the hands on the clock to the correct time and after it slides open they head down into the cave. "There could be anything on it."

“Well. I guess we’ll find out then,” Clark says, heading to the computer with Bruce and having the more tech-savvy man (at least with this type of technology) help him get to the files on the flash drive. He starts to look through everything, reading it closely.

There were things ranging from text files to photos and videos, a number of them had Clark and a redhead and even more of the two men and a little girl.

"Looks like the two of you had a kid," Bruce says, leaning forward and pointing to a photo of the young couple holding a newborn, before pulling back and dragging over a chair for himself.

“I…yeah. Biologically, it looks like…I wonder how that…happened,” Clark trails off as he seems to think very hard about it for a moment before shaking his head. He flips through the pictures and kind of swallows a bit, eyes darting over the screen.

They get to a video of Clark's child sitting on Bruce's shoulders as the two men are walking around outside. The girl has her hands in Bruce's hair, laughing about something as Bruce turns to look back at the camera. The faint sound of Asher and another man talking behind the camera could be heard before the girl suddenly vanishes. Instantly Bruce turns to Clark as both men start looking around in panic. The video shakes as Asher lets the phone fall to his side, giving a clear shot of the redhead from earlier rushing over to Clark before the pair of them disappear. Moments seem to pass slowly as Bruce and Asher are left standing in the field alone waiting for the other family to return. The video cuts off a couple of minutes later after Asher curses and turns it off, leaving the first frame up on the screen.

“…what the hell?” Clark whispers, leaning closer to the screen as the mild gay panic shifts to fascination, running a finger over his lip. “…Teleportation is Gray’s ability. That’s…so interesting.”

"That is not a common meta-human power..." Bruce says, pulling over the tablet sitting off to the side, left behind by either Tim or Dick earlier in the day. He unlocks it and starts working on narrowing down the possible people. There seems to be some sort of record of Gray being involved in gang violence in his late teens, but after that, there’s just no record of him at all no matter how hard Bruce seems to look.

“Not at all. I wonder how that…happened. Is he just human? How could a human withstand that?” Clark turns to watch Bruce.

Bruce frowns, looking up from the screen, "Asher never mentioned anything about him not being human." He looks back down as he starts to broaden the search to any reports of people having similar powers.

There don’t seem to be any notable teleportation stories aside from UFO forums and other bullsh*t, but he eventually finds very handsome pay stubs that seem to be to Gray, though it takes a while of meticulous searching. While Bruce is doing that, Clark continues to sift through all the files.

Bruce glances up at Clark for a moment before looking back down at the screen. "Clark... Seems like he's working for Luthor."

“…What? That can’t be right,” Clark frowns but leans over as he looks over at Bruce’s screen, frown deepening. “Damn. Where do we go from here, then? Leave it be?”

Bruce gives a slight shrug, "It's up to you... But if Luthor picked him up sometime after he got involved with gangs then he might not be working for him by choice."

“Maybe…I wonder what kind of leverage Luthor would have over him, then,” Clark sighs, brows furrowing in thought.

"A kid trying to escape a gang? Not much of a choice there if things were going south for him," Bruce looks down as he checks for any police records. "Steady paycheck or theft. Most choose the paycheck if they're smart."

“Yeah, but…is the money enough to work for Luthor? He’s awful,” Clark sighs.

“For the desperate, yes,” Bruce sighs, reading over the few unsealed records from when Gray was in his teens before setting the tablet off to the side.

“Okay, so…f*ck.” Clark sighs raggedly. “Why does Luthor have to be involved? I’m afraid he’s too far gone, how many years has he been working there?”

“Twenty or so years, give or take,” Bruce leans back in his chair sighing. “I’m sorry Clark. The best I can offer is to skim CCTV in Metropolis for him and let you know if the program gets any hits on his face.”

“Could you? Maybe we can…see sort of how he’s doing if you catch any glimpse of him,” Clark says, then rests his head in his hands. “Damn…twenty years is a long time.”

“I will,” Bruce scoots closer to the computer to take over, quickly starting to open his facial recognition program and setting it to scan Metropolis.

It takes quite a while, but eventually, it does pick up his face. He doesn’t seem to go out much, especially recently, and it’s almost always very early morning or around dusk. He doesn’t look too well, his face a bit gaunt, paler looking, and his hair is usually in a single french braid.

Bruce is walking back from getting them cups of coffee when the program finishes, setting a cup down in front of Clark.

“…He doesn’t look so good,” Clark says quietly, taking the mug with a quiet thanks as he scans over all the pictures.

“No he doesn’t,” Bruce sits, hitting a few things so a map of Metropolis is shown, with the pins of sightings appearing seconds later, as he tries to narrow down where Gray might be living, which all seem to be around a nicer but very private apartment complex.

“…He looks like he needs help,” Clark murmurs.

Bruce hums, picking up the tablet and looking up the name of the apartment complex. “Seems like we’re headed to Metropolis soon then,” He starts to type something up on his screen.

“Are we just showing up? What are you doing, what’s the plan?” Clark asks, leaning back in his chair.

“Bruce Wayne is about due for a new apartment in Metropolis,” The billionaire starts, “Especially since one of his sons frequents the city.” He finished entering his information and hit enter, looking up at Clark with a small smile. “We do a bit of daytime recon.”

Clark swallows a bit and nods, then chews at his lip slightly. “Unheard of for Batman.”

“It’ll put Lex on edge if I’m in the city,” Bruce sets the tablet to the side. “Especially since Lexcorp wants to work with Wayne Enterprises lately.”

The reporter sighs and leans back in his chair. “Maybe I should just go alone, then.”

“It would be the needed distraction to interact with him,” Bruce shakes his head. “I’ll distract Lex. You go to the showing.”

“Are you sure that’s safe for you? I know you can take care of yourself, but this is just…kind of a shot in the dark, I don’t know if you want to risk anything for that,” Clark frowns.

“I’ll be fine,” Bruce waves the other man’s concern off as he sips his coffee. “Not the first time Lex has tried things. I’ll be fine.”

“…If you say so,” Clark eyes Bruce, then sips his coffee. “Thanks for humoring me with all this.”

“Of course,” Bruce smiles softly and nods, “What else are friends for?”

Clark smiles a little back, setting his mug down on the desk. He seems a little higher in spirits, distracted by the task at hand.

The next day, Clark is letting the real estate agent lead him into the apartment complex, only half listening as the woman walks him down the hall to an apartment on one of the upper floors. As he’s passing, he catches a glimpse of Gray at the end of the hall, his usual braid in, fumbling a bit with his keys to seemingly unlock his apartment.

Clark falters slightly, shifting as he adjusts his glasses, he offers a small hopefully friendly smile as the agent stops a few doors down and starts to unlock the door. The redhead looks up with a kind of flat expression and gives him a terse nod of acknowledgment, but in looking away from what he’s doing, he drops his keys and sighs.

Clark steps away from the agent and towards Gray, “Need some help with that?” He asks, coming to a stop a few steps away.

Gray blinks a bit in surprise and leans back slightly before stopping to pick up the keys, still looking up at Clark. “It’s uh, just a doorknob, man,” He says, then tilts his head a bit. “Shaky hands.” He holds up one to show Clark the tremor.

The dark-haired man nods, “I get that.” Clark gives a small shrug, “Nothing wrong with a bit of help.”

“f*ck it, sure, you’re kind of cute, so, unlock my apartment for me,” Gray says, then snorts very quietly, handing the keys over.

Clark feels his face heat up slightly, easily taking the keys and turning towards the door to unlock them. He steps back after the lock clicks open, offering the keys back out to Gray. “There you are,” He smiles softly.

Gray snags them and presses his lips together in the mimic of a smile. “Thanks.” The expression turns into a slight smirk at the blush. “Happy house hunting.”

“Thanks,” Clark murmurs, nodding quickly as he heads back towards the open door down the hall where the agent was waiting. “Have a nice day,” He says, glancing back at the man and giving a small wave.

“You too, man,” Gray says, giving a half-hearted wave back to Clark, and watches him walk off before heading inside his apartment.

Bruce sighs as he steps into his Metropolis apartment, phone in hand as he starts to text Clark that he made it back from Lexcorp. He kicks the door shut as his other hand starts to loosen the tie around his neck with a soft sigh. He has about thirty minutes to relax before there’s some sort of cord being wrapped around his throat, only none of his alarms had gone off.

Bruce curses, hand coming up to pull on the cord as he throws his head back trying to break the person’s hold on him. His other hand reaches up to try and grab hold of them and flip them over him. He grabs them, and it isn’t hard to pull them, they aren’t that heavy, but the intruder vanishes before materializing in front of Bruce with a mean-looking serrated dagger, attempting to pin Bruce. It looks like the figure of a man in a black tactical-type suit and helmet.

Bruce slips out of the way of the blade, grabbing the man’s wrist and twisting to break the man’s hold. “Who sent you?” He chokes out, throwing a much towards the man’s head, keeping a hold on one of the man’s arms.

“Just shut up and die,” The man growls, using the teleportation as a speed boost, making it almost impossible to predict his movements as keeps attacking Bruce, knicking his cheekbone at a point.

Bruce does his best to retreat, tossing random objects nearby at the attacker as he activates his signal watch. Moments after he does, there is a gust of wind and Superman is standing between the attacker and Bruce.

“sh*t,” The attacker hisses once superman appears, and teleports behind the Kryptonian, attempting to kick him down or hit him enough so that he could get Bruce away.

Supes is quick to turn and grab hold of one of the man’s limbs, trying to keep the attacker distracted enough for Bruce to escape. “I’m sure we can talk about this,” He says quickly, attempting to restrain him somehow.

“Not much of a conversationalist,” The man says, and Clark can recognize Gray's voice from earlier, muffled by the helmet. He teleports over top of Supes and attempts to kick him in the head and knock him to the ground, knowing the knife wouldn’t do much to the man of steal, and highly doubting his foot would either, but he had to try or Luthor would have his head instead.

Supes lets out a curse, grabbing the man’s ankle before pushing man away. “I don’t want to hurt you,” He says quickly, attempting to pin Gray against something.

Supes can pin him, but not for long before Gray vanishes. He keeps disappearing and reappearing and is nearly impossible to get ahold of until suddenly they hear this distorted, curdled screaming before Gray fades into view. Still, he almost doesn’t seem quite solid, glitching, like he’s half stuck in the in-between where he teleports from, collapsed onto the floor in an odd, shaking heap.

Supes slowly approaches, kneeling by the heap, clearly unsure of what is going on. “Hey…” he says, slowly reaching out to touch him.

Bruce stops Supes from touching the man on the floor by placing a hand on his forearm. “Don’t. It makes it worse, we don’t know what’s happening to him.”

Supes nods pulling his hand back, “You alright?” He asks, eyes already starting to scan over the other man’s neck.

“I’ll live,” Bruce says, rubbing at his throat, a red mark already starting to appear. “That ability is no joke.” He looks down at the man still writhing. “It’s him, isn’t it?”

“It certainly sounded like him,” Supes sighs and stands, resting his hands on his hips as he looks down at the smaller man on the floor. “Won’t know for certain until… or if he reforms.”

Bruce sighs. “If is a possibility. A human does experience consequences for this sort of thing. I figured that was the case.” He crosses his arms as he watches as well.

Several more minutes pass before the glitching stops, and the noises had started to sound quieter and garbled anyway, but now he lays limp and seemingly fully formed, but certainly unconscious, breaths heaving raggedly out of him. Supes kneels back down, gently starting to pull the helmet off of the person’s head before rolling the smaller man onto his side.

It is Gray under the helmet, face, even more, gaunt-looking now that all the blood has practically drained from his face, pale and clammy under the suit. His breathing is a bit weak, twitching like he just had a seizure. His vitals are all over the place from what Supes can tell.

“Can you tell me anything about his condition?” Bruce asks, watching Supes handle him.

“He’s all over the place right now,” Supes says, narrowing his eyes as he looks a bit deeper, spotting Gray’s organs working themselves back into their proper places. “His heart keeps racing for a second before slowing,” He leans forward to turn Gray’s head towards the floor to make sure his airway was clear.

“Is he going into cardiac arrest?” Bruce frowns. Supes narrows his eyes and it becomes apparent that doesn’t seem to be the case, as his vitals slowly seem to settle, though his heartbeat is still struggling to regulate itself.

“No, I don’t think so. It’s mostly settling. Just his heart is struggling to adjust,” Supes scoots over, letting Bruce kneel and check Gray’s pulse, who hums quietly before sitting back again.

Gray seems to stir and groans, the sound a bit wet, and he coughs some blood onto the floor.
Supes lets out a small sigh, glancing over at Bruce after seeing Gray cough up blood. “Welcome back,” He mumbles, watching Gray’s face closely.

“He may have just bit his tongue,” Bruce says softly, attempting to reassure Supes.

“…fffffuuuuck…” Gray groans, reaching up to shakily wipe his mouth before realizing that his mask is off, and stares up at Supes with wide eyes. “Hey…you’re…” He squints. “…that guy..”

Supes shifts slightly, “Yeah. I’m Superman.” He sits back on his heels, “I would normally say it’s nice to meet you but you did just try to kill a man.”

“Yeah, well…orders,” He says, then flops back onto the ground again with a grimace. “Are you gonna arrest me now?” He closes his eyes, still breathing hard.

“Well…” Supes looks over at Bruce before turning back to Gray. “It’s honestly up to Mister Wayne if he wants to press charges since you didn’t secede.”

Bruce hums. “If you give me a good reason to not press charges, I won’t.”

“Is that how that works?” Gray slurs as he starts trying to sit up, but he’s still pale and kind of shaky.

“Not in most cases,” Supes stands, looking down at Gray as he gives a small shrug. “I like to believe in second chances.”

“I’ve gotten myself into quite the sh*t, huh…” He mumbles, rubbing at an eye. “You got a trash can I can puke into?”

Supes looks around before going to grab one. He comes back a few seconds later and offers the trash can to the man. Gray seems to be fully composed up until he’s heaving into the bin, white-knuckling the edge, and Bruce goes to get water and brings a glass back.

“We know you work for Luthor,” Bruce says simply, and crouches, setting the glass beside Gray.

Gray shakily wipes his mouth before looking over at Bruce. “…Alright. So you know I can’t really just…stop, then. Kind of has a lot of influence. I know he’s a sh*t person, though.”

Supes lets out a sigh, hands resting on his hips, “What does he have on you?”

“A bunch of medical bills, my rent, food, etcetera,” The redhead says, sighing as he picks up the water, holding it with both hands as he sips it, his hands shaking far more than when Gray had shown Clark earlier. “Oh, and he could send me to federal prison. Probably. I’ve got a lot of dirt.”

Supes frowns softly as he thinks, “Maybe you could swing a plea deal if you were to link Luthor to all of the crimes he’s been committing.”

“Yeah, but I feel like he’s got people everywhere and it wouldn’t matter,” Gray murmurs, then groans a bit and leans over the trash can again.

Supes lets out a sigh, looking over at Bruce, “He’s not wrong.” He tilts his head slightly. “Short of changing identities and moving far away, I can’t think of any other options.”

Bruce hums softly. “I mean…your ability is fairly useful. We could potentially make a deal for information and public service in exchange for not rotting in prison.”

Gray scratches his head. “So like, Justice league sh*t? Switching sides?”

“Exactly,” Supes says, “You help with league missions and don’t kill anyone. It’s like community service.”

“Okay. Easy enough, I guess. Killing people isn’t…fun, so I’m not going to miss…any of that. Do I still have to use my powers for like f*cking everything? Because that sucks.”

“Not necessarily. We have plenty of non metas working in the league.”

“Thank god…I hate being an errand boy.” Gray grimaces a bit, the color starting to come back to his face.

Supes nods, glancing over at Bruce before back at Gray. “I’ll have to speak to the other founders before promising anything.”

Bruce nods then gave Supes a look like he wants to speak privately before sighing. “You can’t be trusted not to just vanish,” He says as he looks at Gray.

“I’d probably die if I tried to do that again right now,” Gray snorts a bit.

Supes nods, “You’re gonna have to come with me.” He says. “For everyone’s safety.”

“Alright, I guess that’s fair. Could you help me up, then?” Gray asks, looking up at Supes who quickly offers out his hand. Gray grasps his hand and slowly gets to his feet. “I need some f*cking food. Damn,” He mutters, shaking his head.

Supes hums softly, “I can grab you something once we get to holding,” He says, shifting his grip over to Gray’s arm.

“Actually?” The smaller man looks surprised, and tired since he just kind of lets Clark hold however much of his weight he chooses.

“Yeah,” He says with a nod. “We’re not going to let you just starve.” Supes is practically holding most of Gray’s weight at this point, shifting to grab the other man’s arm to carry him out.

“You’re an angel, the public is right,” Gray mumbles and just goes fully limp in Clark’s hold once he realizes that he could just be carried altogether.

Bruce seems to look amused as he watches the two interact, arms crossed. Supes looks over at the billionaire, who nods slightly at him, “Stay safe Mister Wayne.” Supes shifts his hold on the man and heads towards the balcony doors he had thrown open earlier.

“Thanks again,” Bruce says, offering a wave as he watches them walk out.

“You’re f*cking warm, christ..” Gray murmurs relaxing in Clark’s arms as though he just readily trusts the larger man. Supes chuckles as he gently lifts off the balcony, letting Gray hold onto him as he flies through the city to a zeta point. The flying only seems to relax him more, and he’s just lulled to sleep in Clark’s arms, drooling slightly on the chest of Superman's suit.

Supes did his best to let the man sleep, carefully flying and touching down at the zeta point before getting them onto the watchtower. He takes the man down to the holding cells, laying him down on the cell bed before activating the forcefield and going to get the redhead some food.

Gray is awake and just lounging oh so casually when Clark returns, picking at his fingernails, and looks up at Clark. “Hey, big guy.”

“Hey,” Supes smiles, shifting the tray he hand into one hand before hitting the button to drop the forcefield. “I wasn’t exactly sure what you would want so I stuck with something basic,” He says, offering the tray out to him once he got closer.

“I eat everything,” Gray snorts a bit and takes the tray, then just starts to eat with his hands. The redhead starts slow but eventually is just eating like he’s never seen food before. Supes takes a few steps back to lean against the wall of the cell, waiting for Gray to finish before starting a conversation.

It doesn’t take Gray long to finish at all and makes pleased sounds to himself while chewing, not at all concerned about his predicament. He hasn’t seemed to be concerned about anything. “Is there more of this sh*t?”

“Food? Yes,” Supes says with a small nod, pushing away from the wall. “I can grab you some more after we talk a bit.”

“You’re charging conversation for food? Pretty pricey,” Gray says, and his tone is obviously teasing, a bit smug naturally.

Supes can’t help but let out a soft laugh, shaking his head slightly. “Look I hate this part of thing but,” He shifts, reaching behind himself and pulling an inhibitor collar from his belt. “It’s for everybody’s safety on the watchtower and just while you’re a probationary period.”

“So I go from villain dog to super dog,” The meta chuckles but doesn’t move away or try to get out of the collar.

Supes lets out a sigh, “It only inhibits your abilities.”

“I know what it is,” Gray shrugs a bit. “Do whatever, I don’t really care what happens to me, honestly.” Gray scratches his head.

The hero seems to blink before nodding and stepping forward to carefully put it on Gray. The moment it clicks shut it beeps and activates, instantly starting to suppress Gray’s powers. Gray kind of sighs when it clicks on, almost as if it feels sort of nice to have his powers compressed, but after a minute, he groans in pain. “Damn. That feels crazy.”

“Sorry,” Supes murmurs, stepping back again. “The discomfort passes after a few hours.”

“My f*cking body hurts,” Gray mutters and lays back again.

“Is there anything I can get you?” Supes asks, moving to pick up the now empty tray.

“You got morphine?” The smaller man asks, but kind of laughs to himself, clearly joking.

Supes chuckles softly, heading out of the cell, “Best I can get you is acetaminophen.”

“Works,” Gray says, shrugging a bit. “Why are you being so nice to me right now? I thought people were kidding about that.”

Supes turns as he reactivates the forcefield, “Like I said… everyone deserves a second chance.”

“It’s probably like my fifth if we’re being honest,” He scoffs a little, leaning back again the wall.

“I won’t tell if you don’t,” Supes says, smiling before heading down the hall again.

“What about your honor or whatever? Scandalous,” He chuckles tiredly, then moves to lay down when Supes leaves. Gray sprawls out more on the bed, stretching with a soft groan, and closes his eyes as he waits for Superman to come back.

As soon as Supes is out of earshot and view, he seems to sink back into Clark, letting out a soft groan, “I won’t tell if you don’t… what the actual f*ck.”

After a trip back to the cafeteria and medical, Supes returns with another tray for Gray. He deactivates the forcefield and steps in, “Here you go.”

Gray groans as he gets up and takes the tray, eating it similarly as though it didn’t even take a dent out of his appetite, but he doesn’t ask for another tray. “You’re a lifesaver. Thanks.”

“Of course,” He takes a step back towards the hall. “There should be a tech coming along with another meal in a few hours.”

"Okay. Home sweet home, I guess," He says, but Clark can sort of tell that there's this deep-seated relief that's sort of settling over him despite how bleak his situation may seem to the average person.

“Let them know if you have any special needs for day-to-day and we’ll do our best to accommodate,” Supes says, offering a soft smile before tapping the force field.

“Just…a lot of food. My metabolism is deathly fast,” He says, combing his braid out and running fingers through his hair, the ginger and white strands now reaching his ribs when not braided. “I really appreciate this, by the way.”

“Yeah. I’ll have that marked down,” Supes nods, “It’s not a problem.”

“Thank you,” Gray says, then grimaces. “Lex is going to come after me, just so you know. Or send someone. He kind of likes me a lot.”

“I know,” Supes says with a nod, “He’d have to find you first.”

“Is that going to be hard for him to do now?” Gray's head tilts a bit.

“It’s not going to be easy, to say the least,” Supes shifts as he crosses his arms. “How long until you’re supposed to report in?”

“Usually it’s already less time than this. It…doesn’t usually take me that long,” Gray says, then averts his gaze.

Supes hums and nods, “We’ll arrange for one of the lawyers to come see you as well then.”

“Lawyers? Damn. I get a lawyer? That’s a f*cking crazy, you’re not just leaving me with the sh*tty ones?” Gray blinks in surprise.

He can’t help but offer a small smile, “I won’t be in charge of who they send but most of them are pretty good. We use them more than people think.”

“Wow. Okay. And you’re just gonna bring me food? I feel like I’m on vacation, f*ck,” Gray lays back and laces his fingers behind his head with a content-sounding sigh.

“Eventually the tech you’ll be assigned to shadow will come by and start working on onboarding you,” Supes leans over towards the touch panel and enters something in before stepping back. “Should be in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours.”

“Thanks so much, dude. You’re the best.” Gray watches him closely, and thus far it’s been kind of difficult to get a full read on him.

“I try my best.” Supes nods, “I’ll be back tomorrow at some point.” The Kryptonian smiles softly and gives Gray a small wave.

“Headed out? See you later, man. You have a good night,” The redhead says, smiling back, but his eyes don’t look any different when he smiles.

“Thanks,” Supes murmurs, turning to head down the hall away from the cells. Gray watches him leave, then stares at the wall for a while before eventually falling asleep.

Love in Orbit - Chapter 1 - SteamyEarlGray (2024)


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