By Debby Stark (email@example.com)
Summary: Superman can't resist checking out the near-mythical Batman of Gotham City … and he can't resist taking a peek to see whose face is under the batmask.
(note: I've kicked this around and at a few FOLCs and have finally decided to go for the Big Time: the fanfic list!)
Superman/Clark Kent: Dean Cain Batman/Bruce Wayne: Michael Keaton (accept no substitutes) Lois Lane: Teri Hatcher Perry White: Lane Smith
Briefly: Clark Kent has just finished doing something super and he's flying home by way of Gotham City because his curiosity has gotten the better of him and he wants to try to catch a glimpse of the near-mythical Batman…
And catch one he does. He sees Batman on the roof of some tall, dark building, and the Caped Crusader ("Hmm," Clark thinks, "That sounds at least as good as 'Man of Steel'…") is surrounded by upwards of 27 evil-looking thugs intent on doing naughty things to the fellow dressed like a bat.
So Clark plummets down to a screeching, hovering halt before Batman, who looks somewhat startled. Clark gifts him with a friendly don't-hate-me-because-I'm-powerful smile. "Could you use some help?"
Batman has by now completely recovered the truck load of composure he carries around under the cowl. He grunts: "Help—or stand back and learn something."
"Okay…" Clark decides to take that as a "Yes."
They clean up the villainous threat in under 2.5 minutes. Amazingly, Batman not only takes on half of them, but he has enough Batrope hidden somewhere about himself to tie up every last one of them as well.
"That was fun," Superman says, wiping his hands as though he'd just helped his dad plant in a dozen new apple tree varieties up north of the farmhouse.
Batman just grunts again.
Not a very friendly fellow, Clark thinks. He decides it's probably not a good idea to point out that leather clothing can get very hot even though the material can obviously be form- melded into nice muscley bits for a superhero costume. Spandex, on the other hand, leaves little to the imagination. Particularly Lois's, *sigh!*
Hmmm, imagination? Why am I leaving so much to my imagination? And he takes a quick x-ray view of what is behind Batman's mask.
Which it seems the most mysterious resident of Gotham City is immediately and entirely aware of.
Batman, hardly winded, standing as tall as Clark and ten times more menacing, says coolly, "Well, now we'll have to find out what *you* do during daylight hours, hmmm?"
Right, rotsa ruck, Clark thinks. "Oh, don't" wet your pants? "let it bother you, your secret's safe with me." He gives Batman a cocky smile and what he hopes is the first-ever superhero salute, and he rises into the sky and heads home.
Briefly: some weeks later, at the Daily Planet, Perry White calls Lois Lane and Clark Kent into his office.
Perry has been scarfing down the pava leaves lately and he's looking beatific. Clark has begun to worry about this, though no one has noticed any other changes in their Editor's mental acuity.
"You kids have been working hard on that stolen plutonium story, the kidnapped Ms Metropolis contestants story, and the story about Luthor's Ex stealing all the water from Metropolis's reservoir. You two deserve a break."
Lois nudges Clark, "He's going to let us steal an afternoon off, what did I tell you?"
"You said two hours."
"I've revised it upward. Look at that empty pava leaf container."
Perry hardly reacts to this goading. "I've been asked to send my two best reporters to a charity fund-raiser Friday night in Gotham City, and you two are it."
"Gotham City? That's such a dark, ominous place…" Lois shutters. "Could be full of stories though…"
"A fund-raiser?" Clark asks. "Isn't that more along Cat's line?"
"Cat's going to be on that European swing a lot longer than we realized and she's doing a good job finding some hard news among the fluff, so I can't pull her off. The fund-raiser's being give by this Bruce Wayne fellow, a reclusive billionaire—"
"Yes, yes, he's decided to end hunger in Central America and from what I understand he could probably do it out of pocket change, but he's going the fund-raiser route instead, so he wants publicity and he's sending a private jet to Metropolis to pick up our city's newspapers' finest reporters. You two are among them and you're both going to interview him, one on one."
"I don't know, Chief," Clark says, trying to think of what he has planned to do on Friday night. It doesn't come. Oh, that's right, he hasn't planned anything, but "it's just not my kind of thing. I don't even have a good tie…" he looks down at the one he is presently wearing: it has day-glow wombats waltzing with kangaroos, one of his mother's better efforts.
"Hmm," Lois says, her eyes half closed, thinking cap on, stories in the formation. "North America's richest eligible bachelor invites *us* to a fund-raiser *and* we get one-on-one interviews!"
Uh-oh. "Chief? I can find a tie, no problem. When do they want us at the airport?"
Briefly: Friday evening, late. The gala is in full swing and has been for hours, it seems. Clark is tired. He has had a long day of superheroing, dealing with an unusual amount of unfortunate things going on in Metropolis, from massive freeway accidents to intricate bank robberies. There was barely enough time to phone in the details on one event before he was pulled into the next one. He and Lois almost missed the chartered jet. To top that, he doesn't like the cut of the last-minute rented tuxedo and the tie is way too calm for his taste. What's worse, Lois has managed to wrestle *two* interviews with Wayne already, stepping in when a Metropolis Star rival got mysteriously sick. But then she is interested in the fellow, having taken time (which Clark hadn't been able to find) to do some research on Wayne himself and she is fascinated, maybe a little *too* fascinated. Which is the main reason Clark has not agreed to give her any portion of his interview time. He wants to see if there really is anything to the man besides his silly nighttime hobby.
Clark is, he decides in terms his mother might use, feeling majorly crabby.
Eventually a tall, elderly butler picks Clark out of the crowd and informs him, "Mr. Wayne will see you now, sir."
"Clark!" Lois grabs his arm. "Remember to ask him all the questions I told you to!"
"Okay, okay, I'll try." He shakes her off, gently, and smiles at the butler. "Lead on, Jeeves."
"That's 'Alfred,' sir."
"Oh, right, Alfred. Lead on."
Alfred leads. He deposits Clark in a large, dark library with walls lined with books, a giant hearth with a roaring fire, big windows draped with velvet, and the general air of a lot of money having been spent on a place to relax in. Clark is impressed. He tells himself he would like a place like this one day. A corner over there for his hand-written memoirs, a shelf down there for his books in Chinese, a mahogany file cabinet away from any window for his comic book collection, a big Barcalounger to stretch out on, a dog at his feet and a cat on his lap. Ah, luxury!
He hears Alfred, reappeared, clear his throat and turns toward the door on the other side of the chamber. Alfred is holding open that door, though his unprepossessing employer, Bruce Wayne, does appear strong enough to have held it open for himself. The billionaire seems shorter than he was the last time Clark was this close to him, but Clark chalks it up to the one-inch heels in the Batboots (heels, he saw then, that contained intricate devices no doubt useful to a Batman).
Bruce Wayne addressed the gathering at the beginning, and Clark figured then that, not unlike himself, the man was a tiger in the hero suit, but a quiet fellow in street clothes (if personally fit Armanis and the like could be called street clothes). A quiet, somewhat nervous, a bit bumbly man in his forties with short, graying hair. An extremely wealthy fellow who wants to end world hunger and is starting with a Central America test project.
That is what interests Clark and he has no intention of asking Lois's questions about wardrobe, girl friends, or visiting the man's estate. Nor does he care at the moment about strange nighttime activities, bizarre hero costumes, or how that man gets the Batmobile passed by the local equivalent of the Vehicle Pollution Management Division.
"Mr… Kent?" Wayne says uncertainly as he approaches and holds out his hand.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Wayne." They shake. Clark notes the man's grip is fleet but firm. "We don't have much time, so I hope you don't mind if we get right into your new project. I've read the proposals and have some questions. Your logistics are sketchy still, I can understand that, but I read nothing in the proposal about your plan's impact on the local farmers, who are perfectly capable of feeding the population but in most cases they've been forced by repressive governments to grow products like pineapples and tobacco for export."
"Yes, I've noticed that, it is… distressing."
Wayne looks distant. Has he heard this before from other reporters? No, Clark thinks, it's unlikely. Odds are good that his fifth estate peers have been star struck and Wayne has stuck to a prearranged script. Maybe he's heard all this from people within his organization, environmentalists who can be dismissed.
Well, Clark thinks, it's time he hears it from an outsider who can and will write about it.
"And when the small landholders don't cooperate, they tend to disappear, which of course is an acronym for…"
"I've heard that."
"Families are harassed, communities uprooted, the rainforest destroyed…"
"I know all that, Mr. Kent. You'll be glad to know we have a revised proposal that will cover it in some detail. I'm even looking into privately supporting reformist, grassroots political movements all throughout the region."
Clark smiles. "I'd like to hear the details about that."
"They're still hush-hush at the moment, but you understand that parties in our own country wouldn't like hearing about such plans…"
Clark nods. They observe a moment of peace, Clark for his part reviewing the century of US government and industry intervention in small countries.
Gosh, he thinks, I'm sounding just like Mom…
"Well, Mr. Kent, I'll have your name added to my short list of those interested in the gritty details of the proposal."
"So we may be seeing more of each other. Now I have a question for you."
No more reverie. "For me?"
"Yes. I've been curious. Where do you keep the Superman suit? In your pocket? No? Alfred, get the kid a brandy, a double. Kent, sit down. Your knees are looking wobbly…"
(well, there could be a few more lines but that might lessen the impact…)