Assignment — Gotham City

By Meinuk@aol.com

Summary: Perry White sends the Daily Planet's own dynamic duo on an assignment to Gotham City to interview a reclusive billionaire.

***

"Lois, you and Kent need to go away on assignment." Perry looked steadily at them.

"Chief, we just got back." Clark just wanted to slow down for a while.

"Yeah, but while you both were flying around space with Superman, I got an interesting phone call."

"Tell me more." Clark was on the edge of his seat.

"Well, over in Gotham City, there is an up and coming Lex Luthor. He is showing all of the traits of a megalomaniac Billionaire. Our sources suspect that he may be up to more than just philanthropy. I need you two to check him out." Perry searched their faces, "That is, if you are up to it, I mean."

"Perry. Come on." Lois was interested. "We will leave in the morning."

"So, what do you think? Have you ever heard about this guy?" Clark reached to open the door of the new Jeep.

"Yeah, I did a story on unsolved murders a few years ago. His parents were killed in front of him when he was a child. No one has ever been prosecuted for the crime. That would make anyone weird. But I have never met him. He keeps to himself." Lois started the car and backed out of the parking space.

"Well, today is our lucky day. We're off to meet Bruce Wayne." Clark adjusted his seatbelt and looked over to Lois as she guided the Jeep onto the road.

"Welcome." A fully decked out English Butler answered a massive door. "Please come with me." Clark and Lois exchanged looks.

"I guess that they don't get visitors much," Lois said under her breath. Clark pulled a face, and they followed the Butler. After what seemed like miles of corridors, they were ushered into a conservatory. A man was sitting reading the newspaper.

He looks remarkably like Dr. Ross on ER, Lois thought to herself.

"Not too bad for a megalomaniac," Lois whispered. Clark let go of her hand.

"I was just reading a feature on Superman, by the Reporting team of Lane and Kent." He stood up, and walked to shake Lois' recently released hand. "Miss Lane, I presume?"

"Mr. Wayne." Lois smiled.

Clark was amazed with the comfort that he felt standing with this supposed megalomaniac. He didn't even seem to mind the attention directed at Lois. Clark liked this man, just upon hearing his voice.

Bruce Wayne turned to Clark. "So, Superman's confidant. We meet at last, Mr. Kent." He shook Clark's hand, and they looked into each other's eyes for the first time. "Miss Lane, marrying this man will be the smartest move you could ever make."

"We are working on that one, Mr. Wayne, and please, call me Lois."

"So, what form of interview would you like? Are you looking for the TRUTH behind Bruce Wayne? I did send your office a biography. There have been enough done. As you are both an investigative team, I felt that I should meet you personally. I guard my privacy. My life has been in the limelight since I was a child, and it has not been the easiest road that I have taken in this path of life. Excuse me if I slip off into these phrases, I sometimes speak like a self help book." He shifted his stance. "I gave up trying to search my soul years ago, but the evidence of years of searching still clutter my speech from time to time."

"You are all alone." Lois felt such pity for this man.

"No, I have Alfred. He has been with me since I was a child. And there is Dick … "

"Bruce, what is this about reporters here today?" Dick Grayson rushed into the room and was confronted with Lois and Clark who were listening to Bruce in mid- conversation.

"He arrives just on cue." Bruce reached up to punch Dick on the shoulder. "This is Dick Grayson, the Boy Wonder. He is the little brother that I always wished for." He smiled and allowed his hand rest on Dick's shoulder in a paternal gesture.

Lois moved closer to Clark. She took his hand impulsively. Just then, Alfred walked in to see a touching scene. Bruce and Dick, his pair of boys. And these new people, Lois and Clark. He paused to think, "this looks right." Then he broke the moment by speaking. "Would anyone care for drinks? Coffee, Juice?"

"Juice, please." Both Bruce and Clark spoke in unison. They laughed after Bruce said "Apple" and Clark said "Orange."

"I will have some coffee please, Alfred." Lois was shaking her head.

"Very well, and you, Master Dick?"

"Nothing, thanks. I just had some Gatoraide after I worked out. Hey, Clark, you look like you work out."

Alfred shut the door as he left the room.

"Well, I guess … " Clark started to explain.

"I'll answer that one. My fiancÚ has been blessed with a great metabolism. He doesn't spend any time in a gym at all." Lois grimaced.

"And Lois has filled her apartment with all of the latest gym equipment, so she can work out at home. Dick, SHE gives me my work out. A day with her, and it is like you have spent five hours pumping iron. A lifetime with her and you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I weighed 140 lbs before I met her." Clark smiled.

"This is getting a little personal." Bruce looked at the couple, and envied their love.

Alfred entered the room, carrying a tray of drinks. "Sir, there has been a message."

Dick jumped up, "Is it something that I can handle?"

"No, this is for Master Bruce." Alfred was nonchalant as he served the drinks.

"If you will excuse me. I will be back in a moment. Make yourselves at home."

As soon as Bruce left the room, Dick looked at the doorway, and then said "Hey, I just remembered, I left the stereo on in the gym, I'll be right back." He flew out of the room.

Clark looked to Lois, "There is more than just a story here."

"Dick Grayson just used one of your old lines." Lois looked into Clark's eyes.

"There is something about this guy." Clark was wondering.

"He is so alone." Lois reached over to Clark, and touched him. Just to reassure herself that he was there.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne had entered the Batcave. Alfred was there waiting for him. The situation was a bank robbery taking place. In a flash, he was Batman, and he was in the Batmobile. It was just as he was leaving the Batcave when Robin came rushing in and flung himself into the passenger's seat. They were off.

"Lois, I hear something." Clark heard a far off alarm. It was coming from Gotham City.

"So, GO. I can handle things here." Clark spun into Superman and was off to the source of the alarm. When he landed at the entrance to the bank, he was met by the Caped Crusaders. All three looked at each other and then entered the building. Superman disarmed one of the robbers as Batman rounded up a second, and Robin freed the people who were tied up. As they were surveying the scene around them. The police pulled up.

"Holy Warner Brothers, it's Comic book heaven!" A little boy exclaimed.

After they had passed the robbers over to the police, Batman, Robin and Superman all walked out together to the Batmobile.

"Hey, it is nice having you in our neck of the woods, Superman." Batman turned to face Superman.

"We meet at last." Superman reached to shake Batman's hand. "I just happened to be passing by. I would love to talk, but there is some place that I need to be."

"Same here." Batman jumped into the Batmobile.

Robin stood looking at Superman, "Welcome to our world, Superman." Then he too jumped into the car and they were off.

Superman was about to fly off, but he was stopped by people asking for autographs. He smiled, and signed as many as he could, then he was free to fly back to the Wayne mansion.

"So, what happened?" Lois looked at Clark walking into the conservatory.

"Lois, what a rush. I got there, and Batman and Robin were just about to enter the building."

"BATMAN?" Lois was amazed.

"He is around town quite a bit." Bruce Wayne spoke as he entered the room.

"I was just commenting that … well … Metropolis has Superman, and well, … Gotham City has Batman and Robin … aren't we all lucky." Lois just grimaced at Clark when she realized how stupid she sounded.

Lois reached for her coffee. She sipped it, and realized that it had gone cold. Clark just took one look at her, and after she set the coffee down, he heated it with his vision. She smiled, and took another sip.

Bruce Wayne watched the body language between his two visitors. He knew that he had friends in these two, and he wanted to speak with Clark alone. "So, Lois, you and Dick have a lot in common."

Lois was quizzical when she asked, "I have a lot in common with Dick Grayson?"

"Well, you both seem to be into physical fitness. Would you like him to show you our gym?" Bruce Wayne was dismissing her politely.

"Why yes, I would LOVE to see the rest of this house." Lois stood.

"So Bruce, shall I give her the cook's tour?" Dick could sense the change in Bruce.

"By all means." Bruce looked to Clark as Lois and Dick walked from the room.

Clark reached up and took off his glasses. He was about to speak, but Bruce spoke first. "I have never stopped to sign autographs."

"YOU have never been to visit Metropolis." Clark was laughing. "There is a sort of honor in being a guest superhero." Clark moved closer to Bruce, "Perry sent us here to dig deep. He thinks that you are a megalomaniac that is destined to be the next Lex Luthor."

"And I am sure that Perry White thinks that you are simply a talented journalist with a flair for being in the right place at the right time." Bruce chided him.

"Hey, I AM a talented Journalist!" Clark bragged.

"And HE is a megalomaniac, Mr. Kent." Alfred had come into the room to clear away the drinks. "In the kindest sense, or course." The love that Alfred had for Bruce Wayne was so deep, it was like a force field that surrounded them.

After the initial shock of having an elderly English Butler know his deepest secret, Clark felt that he belonged. "Lois knows who I am." Clark looked to Alfred, "She didn't always though. It took me years to get up the strength to tell her, and in the end, she already knew."

"Alfred watched me change from a bitter, devastated child to what I am now. A man who dresses up in vinyl and leather, and acts like a bat. Hey, Clark, he doesn't even think I'm weird."

"You do pay my salary, Master Bruce." Alfred had a sly smile. "Mr. Kent, will you and Miss Lane be joining us for dinner this evening?"

"You should see the way he screens my dates." Bruce shot Clark a conspiratorial look.

"Hey, MY MOTHER made my suit." Clark laughed, but then he grew silent, remembering the deaths of Bruce Wayne's parents.

"My parents found me in a field when I was a baby. I was sent from Krypton by my birth parents, just before the planet blew up." Clark felt that he needed to explain.

Bruce could sense his discomfort, "Lois has been good about keeping the public informed about Superman."

"Well, I am a reporter." Lois was in the doorway. She had just heard Bruce speak about Superman. "You have a magnificent house, Bruce Wayne, but I feel as though there is something that you are not showing us." She was miffed at being dismissed from the room.

"Don't we all have something to hide, Lois?" Bruce was going to torture Lois for a few minutes, and Clark was going to play along.

"Well, Dick and I had a wonderful conversation." Dick was standing behind her, and he puffed his cheeks in exasperation. "It must be so satisfying to have so much."

"I have asked you and Clark to stay for dinner." Bruce Wayne became very formal.

"Of course, Lois, I accepted for us." Clark was off- handedly chauvinistic.

"Is this what happens when we end up in the last bastion of pretension? All of a sudden, I am told where I am going to be. 'Lois, go look at the house. Lois, we are staying for dinner.' Clark, I want to see you ALONE. NOW." She stormed from the room.

"I like to call her 'My Little Tornado'" Clark spoke to the men as he fled the room after Lois.

"Lois, you are being a little inflexible here." Clark was trying to calm her down without telling her the secret just yet. This was too much fun.

"Clark Kent, I do not like you under the influence of Bruce Wayne. It is like a little men's club that you two have formed in just a few hours. I HATE this air of exclusiveness. Remember, we did not come here to make friends, we are here to do a story, at least I am."

"Now, Lois." Clark put his hand in the middle of her back. "Why don't you just relax, and think about this a little."

"Clark, why don't you go back in and hang out with your new best friend, and I will go looking for the story that we came here for." Lois was preparing herself to walk off.

"Hey, maybe you'll bump into Batman, after all, we are in Gotham City." Clark taunted her.

"If I didn't love you so much, I would hate you right now." She slammed a kiss onto his cheek before she stalked off.

"I am going to pay for this one later." Clark felt his cheek, it was as if she had punched him with her lips. He stepped back into the conservatory, and looked at the three men, Alfred, Dick and Bruce. "She's really ticked off. I am supposed to keep you talking while she searches the house for a story." Clark was still holding his cheek where she kissed him.

"Sir, shall I?" Alfred was ready to avail himself.

"It was Alfred who decided to let Dickie here in on the secret." Bruce explained to Clark.

"I could see the need, even if you couldn't, Sir." Alfred made his point clear.

"Hey, it was just a matter of time, ya know. It is all in the timing." Dick was a good interpreter for Bruce and Alfred. He could see both sides of a situation, while still keeping a sense of humor.

"Dick was a Circus Performer." Bruce started to speak.

"You don't have to explain. I covered the story for the Planet. It hurt to see how your family died." Clark had been moved when he thought of their deaths.

"Well, what are ya gonna do? Me, I moved in with an eccentric gazillionaire, and started dressing in tights. I even changed my name to Robin, and I don't even like the Bee- Gees." Dick Grayson could be light about the tragedy, but all of the men in that room knew what his pain was.

Lois was on the third floor of the Mansion, when all of a sudden, she started to get spooked. "Clark, I know that you are listening for me, and I just want to tell you that I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING, YET. So why don't you just get your act in gear and stop being a Boy's Club Member, and start helping me search this mausoleum. We have a few hours before dinner. I just know that there is a story here." Although Lois was standing alone in a hallway, she knew that Clark had heard her.

"It's Lois. She is really annoyed. How are we going to get out of this one? Remember, I have to go home with her." Clark was starting to feel guilty.

"Allow me." Bruce pushed a button on the table beside his chair, and a control table came down from the ceiling. It was a sophisticated camera system, and after pushing a few buttons, A vision of Lois filled the video screen. She was peeking behind paintings, and soon was on her knees pulling up a carpet.

"Man, ya got to hand it to modern technology." Clark was stunned.

Bruce spoke into a microphone that appeared next to the video screen "Miss Lane, may I ask you to look in the closet to your right." Bruce smiled to Clark.

"This is better than pay per view." Clark was glued to the screen.

"Let's go to the Batcave, and then we will invite her to join our 'Boy's Club'" Alfred and Dick had already left the room. Bruce showed Clark how his chair disappeared and he went sliding down a chute into the depths of the mansion.

Clark flew after him, in seconds, he was in the Batcave. "This house is better than Disneyland for me." Clark stood and checked out the high tech cave. He was impressed.

"Shall we?" Bruce looked to Clark. Clark nodded.

On a huge video screen, the camera showed Lois fighting to open the closet door. "Alfred, unlock the door." Bruce was on the edge of his seat, but he pointed to a small alcove that would obviously be Lois' landing spot.

"Door unlocked, sir." Alfred looked up from his computer screen.

Just a few seconds passed when WHOOSH, Lois Lane appeared in the alcove. She stood and straightened herself, and then she focused on the three men standing at a large console. Alfred, Dick and Bruce were waiting for her first words.

"Whatever you are planning to do, you won't get away with this. And to think, I liked you. This is the first time in my life that my first impression was wrong. Just what are you planning to do?"

"Don't listen to her, she called me farm boy for the first YEAR that I knew her." Clark stepped out of the shadows.

Just then, Lois put it all together. She took a deep breath, and Clark ducked to avoid the punch that he was expecting. But he crouched for nothing. He stood up, and Lois was laughing. She had joined Bruce, Alfred and Dick at the Console.

"Batman, I presume?" Lois bowed her head to Bruce.

"Charmed." He took her hand and kissed it.

"Lois, I…" Clark was starting to grovel.

"No need, I am not stupid, just surprised." Lois walked past Clark to Dick Grayson, reached for him and whispered, "pleasantly surprised."

After that, she turned to Alfred "You serve COLD coffee." She smiled at him. "It is just lucky that I travel with a walking Microwave."

"Dinner will be much better, madam." Alfred smiled. He was relieved that she was not angry.

After that, Lois turned to Bruce, "Well, are you going to show me around?"

Clark coughed in the corner. " Oh, YOU." Lois melted when she heard his attention getting cough. "What am I supposed to say to you? I guess that you have been really busy this afternoon having a laugh at my expense." Lois looked to Bruce, Alfred and Dick, "This isn't the first time he has set me up, you know."

"Lois, he wasn't alone in setting you up. We are all a little guilty of that." Bruce looked genuinely sorry.

"I laughed myself stupid seeing you fall through the closet door." Dick chuckled as he pushed a few buttons, "Here, do you want to see a replay?"

Lois started to glare, and then she smiled. "All right, what other toys do you have down here?" Lois looked from the computer systems to the video systems, to the Batmobile.

"So, how mad are you?" Clark asked sheepishly.

"Will you drop the 'gee Lois, just how mad are you' Farm boy routine just for once?" Lois took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "Clark, we are in the Batcave with BATMAN and Robin!"

"Ah-Hem." Clark gave a little cough using his free hand.

"Oh, feeling a little left out because you don't have so many toys, honey?" Lois was dishing it out pretty heavily. "Don't worry, it looks like Brucie here will share, let's just call it Professional Courtesy between Superheroes."

"Wow, she really does speak like she writes." Bruce Wayne was impressed.

"Well, I shall be off preparing dinner. You will call if you need me, sir." Alfred started to leave the Batcave.

"Of course, Alfred." Bruce nodded to the butler as he left.

"Old Alfred isn't just a butler, he is our computer genius. Think of it, at his age. But, I know the truth about it all. HE IS ADDICTED TO AOL." Dick spoke with authority. "I have found him on line a lot of times, and ya know what, he even reads the Superman Posting Boards."

"Dick, I just have to tell you, Lois writes most of those posts." Clark was glad that there were no secrets.

"I do not, Clark Kent!" Lois was shocked at his accusation. "Your MOTHER DOES."

"Now that I think about it, she is on the computer an awful lot." Clark smiled as he shook his head. "Just wait until she and my dad come back from hiatus. Umm. I mean vacation."

"Hiatus, that is such a gut wrenching word." Bruce Wayne was enjoying their banter.

"Well, in my 'other' life, I am a screenwriter," Clark was trying to clarify the conversation.

"No, honey, you mean JOURNALIST," Lois scolded him.

"Yeah, right, I just get a little confused sometimes." Clark looked to Lois for a save.

"Too many volleyballs to the head if you ask me." Lois spoke as an aside to Bruce and Dick.

"Man, you two should be on TV." Dick just kept on laughing as he listened to their conversation.

"Yeah right, and we can have the time slot just after "Bruce and Dick, The New Adventures of Batman." They were all enjoying a moment of unguardedness. Superman, Batman and Robin, and Lois.

After a tour of the Batcave, Bruce brought Lois and Clark to above ground section of the mansion. Dick stayed behind, giving the excuse that "Somebody has to polish the Batmobile."

Just as Bruce, Lois and Clark wandered into a well lit rose garden, Lois found herself lost in thought, and she spoke, "What a wonderful house to have a family in. I hope that our children will be able to visit such beauty."

Both Clark and Bruce stopped and looked at her. Clark was reminded of why he loved her so much, and Bruce was reminded of himself as a child running through the rose garden, before his parents died.

Lois realized that she had stirred emotions in both men, and after she took Clark's hand, she turned to Bruce "I hope that you plan on being a part of our life. You are the first friend that we have that really knows us."

"Here, there are no secrets, only ghosts." Bruce gave a final look to the garden as the memory of his childhood faded from his sight.

"I guess that locked in all of our souls are memories, some that comfort us, and some that terrify us." Clark reached to his new friend.

Alfred appeared in the light. "Dinner is in the main dining room."

"Alfred, we will be right there." Bruce watched as Alfred disappeared into the darkness.

"Wow, when you spoke of ghosts, you should have warned me that they actually hold conversations." Clark was surprised by Alfred's sudden appearance.

"Alfred has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and then some. I have learned that it is the love that people have for you that keeps your head in the right place. Alfred has helped me to be what I am. But still my heart is rooted, a lot like these rosebushes here. I have someone to give me stability." Bruce had wandered further into the garden, and it was as if he were speaking to himself. Clark and Lois held each other, and when Bruce turned to join them, the three walked through the garden together, and into the house.

"Hey, will you three in the geriatric crowd get a move on, dinner is getting cold." Dick came into the hall to rush them.

"Watch who you are calling geriatric, Bat Boy." Lois was ready to have a sisterly battle with Dick Grayson.

"If you haven't learned by now, you had better try to stay on her good side." Clark held Lois' shoulder. "I know from where I speak."

"Got it, Clark." Dick bowed deeply to Lois, and in a heavy English accent he uttered, "Dinner is served, Madam."

Bruce started the conversation when they were seated at the table. "So, what ARE you going to write in your in- depth article?"

"I see it this way. There is a man in a city not so far away…" Clark started to speak.

"That is helping others in his own subtle way. Blah blah blah blah blah. I LOVE writing fluff." Lois was smiling.

"Yes, I have read some of the first pieces that you wrote about SUPERMAN." Bruce was enjoying teasing Lois.

"Yeah, well, isn't it always the way?" Lois picked up her fork and waved it in circles. "You meet someone, he sweeps you off your feet, ya almost get killed a couple of hundred times." She lowered the fork to her plate, and impaled a small potato. "He's dashing, almost perfect." She picked up the potato and started to bring it to her mouth, then lowered it, "But then you discover a real man, not a comic book hero, and he is the man that gets me coffee in the morning. So, look what happens, I have to get a reality check, and I realize that maybe I have been a little too romantic about a man in a tight suit. And BOOM, WHAM! Just when I decided to let go of that fantasy about a superhero…" Finally, she ate the potato.

"What Lois is trying to say is that I hid myself very well from the woman I love." Clark was taking over the explanation from a very exuberant Lois.

"Was I being a little theatrical there?" Lois looked to Clark and Bruce.

"No, Miss Lane, you made your point very well." Alfred quietly served more vegetables to Lois. Then he took the serving tray and left the room.

"Oh." Lois looked down at her plate. "Bruce, don't worry about the story. We'll fax it to you late in the week, it is going to be Sunday's feature, so we have plenty of time to make it perfect."

"I am not worried, Lois." Bruce smiled. "I know that my reputation is in safe hands. I don't know about the vegetables though."

"Sir, there has been a message." Alfred's voice filled the room.

Bruce took a deep breath as he looked up from his plate. "No rest for the weary."

"Don't worry, Alfred and I will take care of things here." Lois reached out to touch Clark before she stood up from the table.

"We're outta here, Caped Crusaders!" Dick Grayson became Robin in a flash. Then Clark did a Superman spin that made Lois proud.

When they reached the control room in the Batcave, Lois slipped her arm through Alfred's arm. As they watched their three superheroes leave the estate on the video screen, Lois shook her head, "What can I say, Alfred, I LOVE a man in uniform."

"Your life will never be boring, Miss Lane."

"I wouldn't trade it for anything, in any world." Lois watched Superman disappear from the screen.

"So, did you get the low down on Mister Bruce Wayne?" Perry was debriefing Lois and Clark in his office the next morning.

"Yeah, Perry, we did." Lois looked over at her fiancÚ, "This guy is as clean as Clark is." Lois smiled, and gave a little laugh, "Well, he isn't from Kansas, but you do know what I am trying to say here."

"But we did get a pretty in-depth analysis of his work life." Clark was speaking seriously. "We'll have 1,000 words for Sunday, no problems."

" I just can't shake the feeling that this guy has something to hide." Perry was not quite convinced.

"Haven't you figured it out yet, Chief? Everyone has something to hide."

"You have a point there, Kent. I'll give you that. Now you two, get out there and get me some news. PRONTO!" Lois and Clark walked out of the office smiling.

THE END

(assign.txt)