I’d say it was a quiet weekend, but I finished Bunny and the Money Man–book one of a Dreamspun Desire series called Search and Rescue–and I made it under deadline. I mean, yes, Squish had indoor soccer, and we went out for burgers, but most of my weekend was finishing that book!
Now that it’s done, for the next one to two weeks, I’m going to be editing the Shitty Craft Book– a book on writing craft that is done but needs a buttload of screen doors and some new paint. In other terms, a hefty edit with lots of research and some tweaking–because I’m online to present this in a couple of places this year, and I want it to be published and perfect before it goes out.
So, Amy, what’s it like submitting classes on a book you’re self-pubbing that isn’t quite done?
Why, stressful as fuck, so glad that you asked!
So, in celebration of the next year of a violent bout of imposter syndrome, I say we have another round of fanfic! And please, my beloveds, don’t tell me I’m not an imposter, I know people mean well but at this point it’s just better to pretend everything is fine, fine, just fine than to try to overcome self-esteem that was starved of its bone structure when I was a kid.
So, in order to appease my escapist tendencies– let’s escape, shall we?
* * *
Batman’s Hot Cousin, Part 3: Through the Air Like Smoke
“Clark! Get your head in the game! Barry needs help!”
Superman shook his head and blew a big blast of freezing breath at the offshoot lava gollum that was racing the Flash as a snake of boiling rock.
The whole monster shuddered and that part froze and shattered, sending people-sized rock fragments down on the heads of the frightened onlookers.
“Hal!” Superman called, and Green Lantern disappeared to keep people from getting smashed, and HawkMan and HawkWoman swooped down to save anyone who might be in the way.
Which left Clark to continue to freeze the monster’s tendrils and off and try not to freak out about his lithe, catlike boyfriend sliding through the air like smoke. Smoke shaped like a brick shithouse but smoke just the same.
Watching Batman fight in this form was a major mindfuck.
The women Clark Kent had always been attracted to were strong. Diana, Lois, Lana– strong, independent, graceful. Warrior women, who would match his wits if not his strength.
Bruce Wayne Female was everything that turned Clark Kent’s key–but with a Goth, risk-taking edge that stopped his heart in battle.
Bruce Wayne Female didn’t let Clark save him. Not that the others had, but they knew their physical limits and were not afraid to ask for help. Bruce Wayne Female had no awareness of the lighter bone structure and more supple muscles that gave him speed and grace and stamina, but that didn’t weigh as much as his heavy tumbler’s muscles. He could land a helluva punch in this form–there was no doubt–but he had not yet learned to compensate for the lack of body mass that he’d had before.
He’d spent the last month getting the shit beat out of him is what he’d done. The backhand from the Joker that had sent him spinning into a cement truck mid-leap had been particularly humiliating.
Or it would have been if he’d remembered it. He’d been concussed for two days. When he’d woken up, he’d had to remember why he had tits all over again.
Clark would hold Bruce Wayne any time he needed it, and tears had never bothered him. But Bruce’s sobs as he’d coped with a body that wasn’t his were leaving big bloody tracks in Clark Kent’s soul.
And watching him fight was terrifying.
“Bruce, get out of there!” Diana yelled. “Your heat armor has gaps in it and that thing’s going to cook you alive!”
That was another thing. None of his armor fit this form. Fighting the lava monster was hard enough–but Batman, in his special heat-resistant armor, could open up a hole in the thing’s core that Superman could freeze out.
But not if the armor had big air pockets in it that would cook Bruce alive.
“Fuck!” Bruce yelled back– a sure sign that he was getting frustrated. “Who can get in there and open up a hole!”
“I’m on it!” Hal flew up from rescuing civilians and Bruce bailed, letting Green Lantern send a wedge of power through the thing’s center so Superman could freeze it out. Oh, thank God. Thank fucking God, that thing was down, every lava branch on the skyscraper it was trying to take out had turned to stone.
Hal and Clark were on cleanup then, making sure that whatever wasn’t melded with the surface of the building had been disintegrated or deposited elsewhere. Diana could have lassoed stuff, Clark supposed, and Barry’s speed might have come in handy, but really, Hal and Clark were best suited for the job.
But that meant jack to the pissed off brooding Clark was getting from Bruce’s silent com.
They finished cleanup, aware that the rest of the Justice League had gone up to Eye in the Skye to figure out who kept setting lava monsters on them. When they were done, Clark called to Bruce first, to see if he would respond like a grownup.
When he didn’t, he sighed.
“He doesn’t want to see you.”
“Wow–do you realize you’ve started swearing a lot since you two got together?”
“Please, Diana? What in the–“
“It’s not just the fight. Or the armor. Or the two to six weeks left on his sentence.”
“What is it?”
She grunted, and the sound was unfamiliar.
“Diana, is there something wrong–?:
“No! There is nothing wrong with her–him! Fuck! It’s something that’s completely normal but he’d never dealt with it before and it’s uncomfortable and painful and messy and he was off his game is all. Give him a chance to figure it out and he’ll be one-hundred percent, you understand?”
Clark was an alien–but he wasn’t an idiot.
She sighed. “He didn’t want you to know.”
“He has a women’s body. Women menstruate. It brings about physical changes. Why is he ashamed of that?”
“I don’t know, Clark–because of a hundred years of, ‘Oh, I wonder if she’s on her period?’ jokes!”
“But I never told those jokes!”
“But he doesn’t want you to think he’s not capable because something took him off his game. Women get a couple of years to learn how to deal. This caught him while he was in battle. It was a surprise.”
Clark took a deep breath and tried to remind himself that he wasn’t the one in the wrong form. Except it felt like he was, because while he loved Bruce in any shape he assumed, he was more and more starting to see the female form as an ill fitting uniform that they somehow had to unzip. It was strangling the man Clark loved.
“Of course it was,” he said. “Does he think I couldn’t understand that?” But then, Bruce wasn’t great at asking for help before he’d had this form. “You know what? Don’t answer that. I get it. But I’m not leaving him alone. Because yes, I am that asshole.”
And with that he went off coms while he flew into the Batcave.
Bruce wasn’t there, and he wasn’t in the infirmary. Clark tried his third guess and found him, sitting with Diana in his bedroom, shotgunning Anne With an E on Netflix. He had the remains of what looked like steak on a tray next to him, and he and Diana were eating chocolate mousse.
“No mousse for me?” he asked, keeping the irritation from his voice.
Bruce eyed him sourly. “I’ll ask Alfred–“
Clark kissed him on the cheek. “No, no. I’ll take the trays and ask Alfred myself. Diana, when I come back I’m going to change, which means you’ll see my bare ass. However you want to handle that.”
Wasn’t something she hadn’t seen before, so when he got back– two more helpings of chocolate mousse and another steak, just for him–on his tray, he was surprised to see she’d gone.
“She’s going to change into pajamas,” Bruce said, half-laughing. “She says it’s the only time I’ll get to do this, I should do it right, it’s one of the joys of being a woman.”
“Is she right?”
“The steak was great,” Bruce said grimly. “The rest of it is a giant coping mechanism so women don’t rise up and cut off all our penises because we haven’t made fixing this system a fucking priority.”
Clark raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry?”
“Pajamas or you have to leave,” Bruce said, wrapping his robe tighter around him. Underneath he was wearing Clark’s pajama bottoms and his T-shirt, when he had plenty of his own. Clark took heart from that. It meant he was a source of comfort.
“Fine, changing. Don’t eat my steak.”
Bruce looked him dead in the eye. “Hurry.”
He did, and when he was done, he picked up the tray and scooted into the giant king sized bed they’d shared since, well, since Bruce had almost been killed by the mad bomber and they’d decided they wanted tone together.
“Now tell me why women are going to rise up against us?”
“Because this? This thing I’m doing? It’s awful. It hurts. Like hurts. You know i know pain, and I’m not afraid of it, but this, constantly, as just something I’m supposed to deal with? This is wrong. And the fact that doctors don’t think we should put any time into figuring out why it happens and stopping it? Is wrong. I have an entire research and development department, and you know what? The head of that department is a woman and the person under her is a woman, and you know what neither of them has even proposed to me?”
“How to soothe menstrual cramps?”
“Fucking bingo! And do you know why?”
“Because women are told they need to suck it up?” Clark had never thought of it before. Lana, Lois, Diana–they hadn’t so much as let the pain or the inconvenience touch him. The thought made his heart hurt. All the trouble he’d gone to, to get Bruce Wayne to admit something hurt, and women had been masking pain like this for eternity.
“They do.” Bruce sighed and leaned against him. “I hate feeling like this.”
“Cramps and swelling and–“
“And like I”m borrowing this form. It’s not mine. I could make it mine, but right now, I’m some guy bitching because I get a little taste of reality. I hate that it’s reality and I can’t change it for all the women I know.”
“You can help.” Clark kissed his temple. “Maybe have a conversation with your R and D department tomorrow.”
Bruce nodded, and Clark saw the classic Bruce-Wayne-swallowing-pain maneuver. “Can I hold you?”
“I wish you would,” Bruce sighed. “I”m sorry I said to stay away.”
“I”m sorry I’m a man.”
Bruce let out a laugh and Diana chose that moment to come back in, sliding on Bruce’s other side.
“This is not something we’d ever do when I’m a man,” Bruce said. After a moment of acknowledging silence, he added, “That’s too damned bad.”
Clark kissed his temple again, noting that he’d had his hair cut short the day before, just like he did every week. Still Bruce. But Bruce with a little more understanding than he’d had before.
“That is,” Clark said. He winked at Diana. “I’m sure Diana would be willing to do this once a month if we asked her nicely.”
Diana stole his chocolate mousse. “Only if Alfred caters. And I get to pick the TV.”
They settled in then–chips and chocolate and moody television and being warm and snuggly with friends.
Clark hoped they’d do it after Bruce changed his form. He thought that it was false to say it was a perk of being a woman. It should have been a perk of being human–even if you were an alien and a goddess, it still seemed to be a perk.