AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written in 45 minutes: I think that's my fastest vignette ever! In spite of this, the fic-snobs need not fear: 'tis not posted immediate. I read it through several dozen times and got it beta'd before posting.
He sits down at his desk in the morning and he loves his work.
He's making a real difference in the world, using the gifts chance bestowed upon him, using his power for good and not for selfish gain, helping the people who can't help themselves.
He loves his life - and why shouldn't he?
It's a good life - a worthwhile one. One that has meaning and purpose. He works with men who hollow themselves out with their job; who'll spend all day at the office, then go home at night to a wife they want to ignore, and kids they want to shut up.
He's a workaholic, and he knows it, but he also knows better than to inflict himself on any woman like that.
Not that most women would consider him 'an infliction.'
He's young, reasonably good looking, wealthy, can exert himself to be charming, and can make intelligent conversation. Any one of those would probably be enough for most women, but all of them together make him eligible. Very eligible.
His mother still asks if there are any girls in his life, and when she does, he kisses her on the cheek and tells her she's the only 'girl' that matters to him. His father shakes his head and asks if he's eight or twenty-eight, but there's a pride in wife and son and family that shines through and always has.
It's not the done thing to admit that you love your parents, but he does. They've given him so much - not the least of which is a legacy of doing the right thing over the easy thing, and a strong sense of justice and right and wrong.
Which might be why, when he first heard about the Justice League, he offered his services.
Not as one of them, oh no.
Just as technological assistance. Help. Financial backing. Something.
It was there, developing the specs for the first Watchtower, that he first met her.
He'd been standing at a table, sketching out diagrams for Superman and the other one, when she walked into the room. It hadn't escaped his notice that the two men had stood a little straighter, lifted their chins a little higher as she came to stand by the table and look over the diagrams. She had that effect on men.
She has that effect on him.
It was her beauty that first made him notice her; the first and most obvious thing about her, but certainly not the last of her attractions. She listened to him as he explained the reasons for the design, laying them out with all the boldness he used to charm the heads of companies. She tilted her head and asked questions.
They were good questions about defensibility and protection, about surveillance and communication. Solid questions that he hadn't expected from any of these people who dressed up in bright (or dark) spandex and flew through the sky overhead.
He answered her questions as simply as he could, and she clarified a few points, and smiled at him. "You're very good at this."
And he fell. Hard.
He has a picture of her - well, of all of them - signed, in pride of place in his office. He's not much of one for celebrity, but these guys, well, they're different. And it's an excuse to look at her all day long.
Since then, he's met her several times, shaken her hand, seen that brilliant smile up close more than once. He's cracked a joke or two, and teased her about something he can never remember after she's gone, and she remembers his name and saves a smile and a wave for him when she sees him during these meetings.
He'd like to believe that the way she says his name means something more than just a name. He'd like to think it's a connection between them, something that sparkles like stardust in the sky.
He knows better.
He's a man, not a child wishing on a star.
He's just a man.
Her life is filled with heroes, with men who stand tall and proud in nature and not just in body. Her days are full of people who sacrifice the small things in their lives to make sure the bigger picture is seen. Her nights...well, nobody knows about those. Her name is mostly linked with Superman's, but that could mean anything or nothing.
And he's just an ordinary man compared to the people who fight by her side.
Sometimes he dreams of being up there, of being one of them. He tries to imagine having superpowers like them, of being more than merely human. Would he wear coloured spandex and a mask over his face? Or would he leave his features bare to the world and not hide who he is? What powers would he have? Super-strength? Super-speed? X-ray vision? Telepathy?
A part of him recognises the childishness of his ponderings, but he always turns back to the real world again. To his companies and his technologies, and the daily run of his life - so mundane compared to saving the country, the planet, the galaxy...
Sometimes, he fancies that's what he's doing now, in his own ordinary way. Not on a grand, dramatic scale like the Justice League, just in helping them with the technological needs, supporting them with the network of companies he owns, gaining knowledge and acquiring wealth, and using the wealth to continue supporting the people who do what he can't do.
Still, there are times when he'd like to be up there, making a difference like them, like her.
His intercom buzzes, and he answers the call. "Yes, Irene?"
"Your eight-thirty appointment is here, Mr. Wayne."
"Show them in, please. And bring my morning coffee, thank you."
And as he stands and prepares to greet his guests, his eye is caught by the poster of the Justice League that hangs on his office wall.
Heroes, saving the world over and over.
His life's very good, compared to some.
But there are days when he wishes he was one of them.
- fin -