The Best Laid Plans...
written by Shaun Garin
DC owns Justice League. This story is based off of the WB version of Justice League. Timeline set in the space between Initiation and The Man Who Has Everything and inspired by a Batman/Superman Adventure episode.
Chapter 1 : Good Intentions
Fingers drummed a gentle rhythm of the cold steel of the chair he sat in. Being the Man of Steel, Superman had to be gentle with most things that weren't usually double-welded and diecast with the best of it.
Across the room, Flash shook his head. "He's late."
"Too late," said Green Lantern as he rubbed a hand over his now bald head. He still couldn't get used to the sensation of air running over where he used to have a thick brush of hair.
"We should contact him," said Wonder Woman after a thought. "If anything, we can at least reach Alfred."
"You know Bruce, he's always doing something," said Superman. With a sigh, he got up and said, "I'm going down. Just to see what's going on."
"Call if you need anything," said J'onn from his position at the monitoring station. Superman nodded and flew down to the transporter.
"One to Gotham," said Superman and the technician tipped his hat. In a shimmer of blue-white light, he had vanished and reappeared on top of a tall tower in the middle of Gotham City.
Flying towards Wayne Manor at a clipped pace, Superman rolled the memories of the last time Bruce had not shown up. Or more specifically, the last time Batman hadn't terrorized the Criminal Element of the dank underworld known as Gotham City.
It had been almost two years now since the Dark Knight had been AWOL. Noticing the crime rate going up, Superman had flown to Gotham to see why things had become so lax. After neatly scaring a few criminals into hiding by lifting a truck and shaking them out of it, he had confronted Batman's newest protoge. Tim Drake.
Tim, like all of Batman's kids responded that he didn't have time to hang around. Then Superman had rephrased his request. "Where's Bruce?"
Tim had explained that Bruce had gone mysteriously AWOL and sent video emails from where he was busy or inexplicably taking a vacation. So unlike the Dark Knight, Superman decided that the Criminal Element of Gotham needed a shake up.
It was soon discovered that Braniac was behind the missing Bruce Wayne and after a short confrontation, they were able to defeat the mad computer and rescued Bruce.
The lack of communication for a week worried Clark at best. Bruce was punctual and whatever sudden disappearance didn't bode well for anything. The new Watchtower was still being worked on and the newest members of the Justice League had to be dispatched almost daily.
Touching down in a grove of trees to avoid detection, Superman quickly changed into his suit and straightened his tie. Kara said he looked hideous like that. Clark had to agree with the suit. Who wore a suit like this without being a complete dork?
Ringing the doorbell, it was soon answered by an elderly stiff looking man. Alfred. Bruce's butler and long time friend and father figure. "Good evening," greeted Alfred. "Master Bruce has been expecting you Mr. Kent."
"Please Alfred, just Clark will do," said Clark, letting the butler allow him inside. "Where's Bruce?"
"Master Bruce is currently in the bedroom, sir," said Alfred as he lead the man up the stairs and towards a pair of double doors. "Brace yourself sir, he is not quite himself today."
The doors were opened and Clark stifled a chuckle. "Bruce? What in the world?"
"Nob fuddy," grumbled Bruce as he lay in bed. Dressed in a housecoat, pajamas of silk while wearing an ice pack over his head and a thermometer stuck between his lips, Bruce Wayne did a credible Bat-glare when he needed it.
"Master Bruce is rather ill, as you can see," said Alfred as he walked over and took his temperature. "Please Master Bruce, you must drink the soup."
"Id hurds to move," grumbled Bruce, sinking deeper into his coverlet. Alfred sighed and walked out, ushering Clark out with him.
"This is the big secret?" asked Clark curiously as Alfred closed the door behind him. "Bruce is laid out with a cold?"
"A rather nasty strain of flu," admitted Alfred. "One that has actually incapacitated the Batman to speak of sorts. Thus, the crime element of Gotham has risen somewhat. Master Dick is covering for Bruce but I'm afraid that cannot last for long as he is due to move to Bludhaven within the following day."
"So sick that he can't even fight crime. That's something for the record books," murmured Clark.
"I'm afraid I'm at my wits end, Clark," said Alfred, using his personal name. "Being that Master Bruce insists on trying to suit up has nearly cost me my sanity and two bowls of my chicken soup. If it weren't for him being in too much pain to move, I would think that he would be out there. Spreading his flu no doubt in a new form of psychological terror."
Clark sighed. "Anything I can do to help?"
"I'm afraid the Criminal Element does not respond as easily to the appearance of Superman more than Batman, sir," said Alfred with a shake of his head. "And to make matters worse, I have heard that the Joker has escaped Arkham once again."
Clark nodded as he sighed. Then, a thought came to him. "Alfred? Bruce still keeps his jump line in the left pocket, right?"
"Yes he does," said Alfred. Then, the meaning hit him. "Oh dear. You aren't going to..?"
Clark grimaced. "Yes I am. Do you mind holding onto my cape for a while? This'll take a bit."
"About time you showed up," said Commissioner Gordon as he heard the soft footfall behind him. "I've had this signal out for days now."
"Sorry Jim," rumbled Batman as he strode up to the Commissioner. "What's the problem?"
"Joker's escaped, as you probably know. He's holed up in some old candy factory down on the Harbour District," said Gordon as he sized up the Batman. Something was a bit different about him. Had he been working out during his absense? "I would send in men, but you know the Joker better than I do."
Batman nodded as he strode to the side of the building. "Keep everyone out of the area," he said, pulling out a jump line. And with a shot, he was gone.
"I'm sure of it," said Bullock who had stood to the side during the whole exchange. "He's been working out."
"Something wrong Mr. J?" asked Harley Quinn as she unloaded a new supply of guns and ammo onto the table.
"Something is wrong, Harl. Batman hasn't shown up yet." Joker grumbled. "When you make a spectacular exit from dear old Arkham like I did, you'd have the Bat on us faster than you can shake a stick at us."
"Maybe he's waitin' for us?" asked Harley. "It's been half a week and he hasn't shown up yet."
"Letting us make the first move, eh?" asked Joker with a devilish grin. Then his grin dropped. "I haven't made a move yet though. Not enough good ideas."
"Here's one," rumbled the voice of the Batman behind the pair. "You can stop by dropping the weapons."
"Ah, and the Caped Clod come to play," exclaimed Joker, leaning back into his chair. "You know Batsey, this is mighty direct of you, coming to play when we're all armed!"
The rat-tat-tat of gunfire could be heard as Joker laughed. Two uzi's were in his hands and he fired at Batman who was apparently too shocked to move. Bullet casings went everywhere and with a click, the guns emptied. "Aaaaah, that was... horribly simplistic. I suppose you had to go like that. Though it woulda been funnier if you could learn how to laugh."
"Ha, ha," ground out Batman as he stood up, wiping spent bullets from his cape. Harley gaped and Joker's jaw nearly hit the ground. "Looks like you're out of bullets."
"Oh," said Joker as he stood up almost lazily. "New armor there Batsey? Of course, new armor won't protect you from THIS!"
The Smiley Face Grenade went up and over. And the Batman caught it. With a low detonation, it exploded in his hands. Joker went pale. Even paler than normal. "What kind of monster did you turn yourself into Batman!? Tell me!"
"I'm the kind that goes bump in the night," quipped Batman as Joker and Harley were laid low by two lightning fast pulled punches. As Joker dropped to his knees and slid into unconciousness, he heard the Batman quip his second joke. "That's all folks."
Nightwing shook his head as he alighted on top of the building roof across the way from the Happy Child Candy Factory. The police were already there dealing with a trussed up Joker and Harley Quinn. "About time you got cured, Bruce," said Nightwing as Batman landed behind him. The older Dick Greyson turned and sighed. "You're slipping."
"I'm not used to the silent approach," said Batman and Nightwing's eyes widened under the opaque mask. The Dark Knight drew back the cowl and Nightwing nearly fell over in disbelief. After living with Bruce for years, very little startled his old partner. The sight of the Man of Steel in Batman's outfit was enough to nearly send Nightwing into shock.
"Huh, what?" Nightwing recomposed himself and Superman allowed himself a small smile before replacing the cowl over his features. "You do make a good Batman, but you don't have all of his techniques down yet."
"I'll let Bruce know that you appreciate the help," said Batman in the same deep level tones of the Dark Knight.
"Any problems with the Joker?" asked Nightwing as Joker was loaded into a van and trussed up tighter than a christmas turkey. Batman chuckled and Nightwing raised an eyebrow. "That funny?"
"Rather," said Batman. "They think that 'Ol' Batsy' has turned himself into a impenetrable grenade-crushing monster.
Nightwing palmed his face. Even though it was the dark mantle of Batman Superman was wearing, Superman was much different in fighting styles than Bruce Wayne. "You should have dodged it," admonished Nightwing, feeling like Babs on one of her tirades. "Bruce would have."
"I'm not Bruce," Batman replied simply. "Besides, if I had let that grenade explode in the middle of the factory, Joker could have escaped and it would have damaged the whole surrounding area. He had more weapons in that room than I could count. I think he was fixing to do something really big before I crashed the party."
"One good thing coming out of this; the crime rate will go down sharply knowing that Batman seems to have been taking lessons from Superman in terms of invulnerability," said Nightwing with a wry smirk.
Batman reached up to his neck and tugged at the dark material. "I have to wonder how Bruce walks around in this much armor and clothing. It took me half an hour to get into the suit."
"Tim told me that you did this once before when Bruce had vanished for that two week vacation," said Nightwing as he pulled out a jump line. "Just to let you know, it takes practice to get out of the suit. I should know, wearing layers myself." The shot rang out and Nightwing sped off into the night.
With a dull thwack, Bane crashed to the ground in an unconcious heap. Batman dusted off his hands as he turned towards the assembled goons who currently wet themselves. Within moments, it was all over.
Batman sighed to himself as he tied up the rest of the goons. With Nightwing headed back to Bludhaven with his "replacement" out and about and Tim with the Teen Titans, it had been a long night.
He had checked into the watchtower. Wally and John had long since left for their hometowns and were sleeping. Same with Diana. It was J'onn who answered the call and was more amused than shocked about Bruce's medical condition. Being a powerful psychic, only Bruce was able to get the drop on the Martian Manhunter. It was one of the rare few times that Superman could make the stoic J'onn look surprised. Superman would have given a lot to have seen his expression.
The League had been shaping up nicely with every kink worked out. Teams had been dispatched when needed and with any luck, nothing insanely dangerous would occur. A few brush fires here and there amidst other things.
Just then, his communicator chimed. Bringing a finger up to his ear, he connected with the Watchtower. "Superman here."
Trussing up the last few of the hired help, Batman zipped up to a nearby rooftop out of hearing range.
"Clark," said J'onn. "There's a problem in Metropolis requiring Superman's attention. Can you get there? I've already sent Supergirl out there along with Green Arrow."
Superman cursed inwardly. It would take him thirty minutes to get out of the suit. More even if he tried super speed. He tried super speed and resulted in him getting tangled horribly. "It's going to take me a while," said Superman. Truthfully it would take him less than five minutes to get to Metropolis but the Man of Steel was required, not Batman.
"Is something the matter?" asked J'onn, a note of curiosity in his tone.
"You might put it like that. To heck with it." Looking around, Batman took to the skies.
Bizzaro. Superman hated Bizzaro. His failed clone was dumb as a brick and twice as ugly but he did manage to do quite a bit of damage. By extention, Supergirl hated going up against something that was her cousin twisted into something almost unrecognizable. But then again, it was something of a relief, fighting something that was obviously not you.
Kara Kent, also known as Supergirl shielded herself from the relentless blows that Bizzaro rained on her. Bizzaro was too stupid to use the heat vision as he preferred brute force. A particularly massive one slipped through her guard and knocked the Kryptonian girl into a building.
Green Arrow cursed inwardly. This is why he hated being in the league at times. It was the monsters that he said he wouldn't fight that would obviously come back to haunt him. Drawing an explosive arrow, he fired two at Bizzaro's feet.
Bizzaro reeled in his bow-legged march, obviously set back a few steps more out of surprise than anything. Inwardly, Green Arrow cursed his luck at being sent out here. Class B threat my ass, he thought to himself as he fired another arrow.
Kara was out of the rubble by now and had taken the offensive. Arrow had to hand it to the girl. She had spunk. She fought better than Superman did but still had the same failing as most Superpeople.
Green Arrow smirked to himself as he slid down to the street via an arrow and rope. "Supergirl, down!"
Supergirl ducked just as Green Arrow loosed an arrow. The arrowhead smashed against Bizzaro's chest and the air around him froze, encasing him in ice. Green Arrow smirked. "That'll hold him."
"I don't think so," said Kara as the ice began to crack. She flew out of range as Bizzaro exploded out of the ice with a yell. "I think he's mad."
"Hell yes," said Green Arrow. "Where's that backup, J'onn?" asked Arrow, a finger to his ear.
"Superman is en route," said J'onn. "He should be there by now."
"Well tell blue boy that we need him and fast! Dumb and ugly won't show the same courtesy as we're showing it." Arrow had to duck a piece of granite tossed at his head by Bizzaro who had heard it.
"Bizzaro not dumb!" exclaimed Bizzaro hotly, his thought processes slowly changing from "hurt" to "talk". "Bizzaro not ugly!" A large piece of asphalt was wrenched out of the ground and Arrow gulped. It was too big and too small of a space to dodge properly.
As Kara prepared to slam into Bizzaro, a black blur hit first as Bizzaro was tossed into the nearby fountain. Arrow let out a breath sharply. "Cutting it close there, huh Super...man?"
Kara blinked and said, "Batman? What are you doing here? J'onn called Superman."
Batman looked uncomfortable. "I'll explain later," said Batman and he pulled out two Batarangs. Bizzaro was getting back up and it looked to be the start of another long fight. "Here he comes."
"Bizzaro crush puny rodent man!" exclaimed Bizzaro, getting up out of the rubble created by his landing.
"Not on my watch," quipped Kara as she torpedoed into Bizzaro. From the back lines, Arrow fired a couple of explosive arrows to wear down the enemy. Chunks of rubble were flung back and forth, neatly taken out by tossed explosive Batarangs.
Kara grimaced as she blocked another massive punch from Bizzaro. "Let it rest, ugly," she growled, grabbing his arm and swinging him about like a top. Bizzaro yelped and she slammed him into the ground. "Ha, that'll teach you."
Suddenly Bizzaro's hand shot out and grabbed Kara around the head. She was lifted up as Bizzaro's titanic grip held her in the air. "Bizzaro not ugly! Bizzaro crush puny people!"
Kara choked. As a Kryptonian, her skin was strong enough to withstand bullet fire, laser fire and apparently nuclear fire as well. But something that had equal strength to her cousin could easily keep her from breathing which she DID need to do.
"Let her go!" shouted Batman, throwing Batarangs. Bizzaro grinned and the explosive projectiles exploded harmlessly against him.
Arrow grimaced. "Any ideas, Batman?"
It had become a story around the League poker tables about this event. Bizzaro was near to crushing Kara's head like an overripe melon when suddenly Batman pulled back his cowl and fired heat beam vision into Bizzaro's hands. The clone yelped and let go at the sudden heat.
That was when Superman in Batman's clothing went to town on Bizzaro. Soon enough, the fight was over and Arrow was shaking his head.
"So you mean to say that Batman, the REAL Batman is out sick and you're filling in?" Arrow asked incredulously.
"About the size of it," said Superman having replaced the cowl. No need to let the media who were soon to be on the scene know that Superman was filling in for the Dark Knight. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't spread this around."
Arrow smirked as he let Kara rest on his shoulder. The girl was still out cold from the lack of air. "No problem."
Superman nodded and tapped his ear. "Batman to watchtower, three to beam up."
Arrow raised an eyebrow. "Nice voice change trick."
Batman smirked. "Thanks."
"Welcome back," said J'onn as he looked at the trio who had reported in. Raising an non-existent eyebrow, J'onn smiled. "I see the stories are true."
"What stories?" asked Batman curiously.
"The news reports from Gotham. Apparently crime has gone down nearly ten percent. A drop one hasn't seen in years. Not since two years ago when the Batman went missing for two weeks and then reappeared." J'onn smiled. "It must have been momentous."
Batman sighed. Up in the central area, there were no technicians to see anything. Pulling off the cowl, Superman turned to Arrow. "I have a spare room here. Go and put her in there."
Arrow mock saluted and carried the surprisingly light girl away.
"How was your trip?" asked J'onn, a touch of humor in his level voice.
"About the same," said Superman as he tried to struggle out of the costume. "Damnit, did Bruce add more layers the last time I wore this?"
"Having trouble?" asked J'onn. "I know Bruce never did."
"Well Bruce doesn't wear two costumes at once," said Superman. He pulled off the shirt having undone the seal on the top and pointed at the big red S that stood in the middle of his chest. "Things happen and I was trying to get back into costume when you called."
"Hence the lateness," said J'onn in understanding. "I would help, but I can let you puzzle the mechanics of the Batsuit out yourself."
Superman gave J'onn a level glare. As he pulled off the cape and began struggling with the boots, an amused female voice broke into his line of thoughts. "Moonlighting already, Clark?"
Clark groaned. "Diana, this isn't funny. I can't get these boots off."
The Amazoness Princess stood, arms folded and smirking. "Did Bruce give you permission to wander around in his costume?"
"I'll have you know that he's out sick and is in no position to argue," said Clark. He hopped around with the boot.
"Clark, watch out!" exclaimed Diana in alarm.
Taken off guard by Diana's shout, Clark yelped as he tumbled backwards from the Watchtower Central Area. Fortunately it was just a couple dozen feet even with Clark too surprised to kick in his flight.
Landing with a thud, Clark let out a whuff of air as he yanked off the stubborn boot. "Finally," he said. Then he looked up at a smirking Arrow who stood over him.
Arrow held up the other boot that had come off in the short fall. "I think this is yours."