Author: Cassandra Mulder
Feedback: Is my crack. Either here or danamulderatgmaildotcom please. :)
Classification: Smallville/Batman Begins crossover; Chloe Sullivan/Bruce Wayne; slight Chlark
Disclaimer: Smallville and all characters within belongs to AlMiles, Tollin/Robbins Productions, the WB, and DC. Batman also belongs to DC. No infringement is intended.
Spoilers: Nothing for Smallville, pathetically vague ones for Batman, but nothing important.
Written: June 25 - July 3, 2005
Summary: On a visit to Gotham City, Chloe finds herself in a situation she never dreamed of.
Distribution: My site, Bound, anyone else, please ask.
A/N: This is completely trippy and different for me, as it's my second venture into crossovers of any kind, and my first into anything even remotely romantically crossed-over. I am totally cheating on my Smallville OTP here, but thanks to Christian Bale finally selling me completely on Bruce Wayne/Batman, and a certain friend of mine, I have strayed. This being my first time writing Bruce, I have no idea if I've gotten him right, but I'm sure my friends won't hesitate to tell me, and for that I will be grateful. It was a bit of a struggle, but I want to thank Tracy and Amy for their encouragement and anticipation of this story. I hope it doesn't disappoint, girls.
This is set about three years in the future, and Chloe knows Clark's secret, and he knows she knows. The rest should explain itself.
Chloe Sullivan had only been to Gotham City once before. It had been a college visit, and she had known almost immediately it wasn't for her. She had been a Metropolis girl once, and it epitomized bright lights, big city. Gotham was an entirely different story.
A story was what she'd come after, but the utter bleakness of the troubled city wasn't the main focus. It played a role, but a man - not a city - was why she'd traveled all this way.
She just hoped the extra credit she'd talked her journalism professor into was worth the trouble she would inevitably find. Even though she was well aware of her propensity to get into a mess, she'd fended off her best friend's offers to come with her. Clark Kent had been acting like an overprotective bodyguard lately, and she could do with a break from it.
Her cell rang, and she rolled her eyes as she flipped it open.
"Clark, I'm fine," she said immediately.
"Okay, Chloe. No 'hello'?" he teased.
She bit back a grin, even though he couldn't see her. She hated to let him know she wasn't really annoyed at him for being such a worrier. "Hello."
"Hello," he said back, and she could tell he was amused.
"Clark, it's nice that you care, but if you don't stop calling to check up on me once an hour, I'll never get anything d-"
Chloe cried out as she felt herself connect with what felt like a solid wall of muscle, and her cell phone and almost every other belonging on her person went flying onto the sidewalk and the street. It was suddenly evident that she had lost her city girl talent of being able to dodge people on the streets and talk on the phone at the same time.
A strong hand came out of nowhere and caught her, just before her bare knees hit the cement. She was trying to get her bearings, and figure out exactly what had happened, when she looked up to thank her victim/rescuer.
Her thanks died on her lips when she realized the identity of the man whose hand she was currently holding.
Bruce Wayne - the Billionaire Playboy of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne - was staring down at her startled face, his own features completely unreadable.
"You might want to watch where you're going."
"I -" Chloe blushed and finally fully straightened, but he still didn't let go of her hand. "God... I'm so sorry, Mr. Wayne." And she felt so stupid for acting the way she was currently acting, but she wasn't about to admit to that. "I'm not usually such a klutz, but it seems I'm a little rusty at this big city thing. Are you all right?" She realized it was a silly question even before she asked it, but it seemed the polite thing to do, even if she highly doubted she could cause any harm to the man towering above her.
"I'm fine, Miss -"
"Sullivan. Chloe Sullivan."
He nodded and shook her hand slightly before finally releasing it. "I'm fine, Miss Sullivan, but what about you?"
It felt like she had strained a few dozen muscles trying not to hit the ground, but she just smoothed her skirt, and mustered a small smile. "Other than the extreme embarrassment? I'm fine."
"I'm not so sure about your things," he said, indicating a few items nearby.
"Neither am I," she sighed as she started to collect them. She was surprised when he began helping her, and came up with her cell, which had flown a few yards away.
"Unfortunately, your phone didn't fare as well as the two of us," he said, handing it to her. At least, what was left of it.
"Piece of crap," she muttered under her breath as she stuffed it into her rescued bag. Suddenly she thought of what she'd been doing when she'd "bumped" into Gotham's most notable figure. Clark probably thought she'd been murdered, and was speeding his way there as they spoke.
"I, um..." she spun slowly around, trying to locate a pay phone. Much to her continued misfortune, that was like expecting to run across a dinosaur, since cell phones had virtually eliminated them. "Dammit," she said, mostly to her self.
"Is there a problem?"
"I was, well, obviously talking on the phone when I ran into you, and now the person I was talking to probably thinks I'm dead," she said with a slight laugh. "He worries," she tacked on by way of explanation.
"Boyfriend, Miss Sullivan?"
"Oh, Clark?" she laughed. "Nope. Never has been." Funny how she never sounded any less bitter when she had to tell that tale, in whatever form. "My best friend, though."
There was an awkward silence, something Chloe was not all about.
"I suppose you should call me Chloe, what with me trying to mow you down and everything. This has been a very... informal experience." God, you're a dork, she thought to herself. What is wrong with you?
What was wrong with her was she never expected to run into Bruce Wayne figuratively, nevermind literally. She saw him almost on a daily basis, whether it was in the newspapers she subscribed to from Gotham, the internet, or just about any celebrity magazine she happened to pick up. No one was really clear on just what he did with his time since taking over his family's business, but most of it didn't seem to be spent on work.
"Well, Chloe, you'd better borrow this," he said, offering his own cell, "and let your friend know you're all right."
She hesitated. "I think I've caused enough damage already."
"Not as much as you'll cause if you let your friend worry," he said, taking her hand and putting the cell phone in it.
"Thank you," she said, and quickly dialed Clark's number.
When Clark answered, his voice was a mixture of panic and frustration.
"Clark, it's me," Chloe said calmly.
"What happened, Chloe! I've been trying to call you back and I couldn't get you. I thought something-"
"I'm all right," she cut him off, with a glance at Bruce. "I just ran into... someone on the sidewalk. Just a little accident, really, but my phone bit the dust, so I might not be in touch for a little while. Not until I replace it, or something," she said with a frown. She couldn't remember her phone contract, but she hoped it included a free replacement. This trip was costing her as it was.
"You're sure everything's okay? Because I could be there in no time..."
"No!" she said a little too vehemently. "I'm fine, Clark. The gentleman I ran into is quite... forgiving," she said, directing a small smile at him. "Look, I've gotta go since this isn't my phone. Stop being such a mother hen, and I'll be in touch as soon as I can."
"Just be careful, Chloe. I'll talk to you later."
"I'm a big girl. Bye, Clark."
She flipped Bruce's phone shut and handed it back to him.
"Thank you again, Mr. Wayne. And I'm sorry, I'll try to look where I'm going from now on. I've taken up enough of your time, so I'll just be on my way."
"No harm done, Mi- Chloe. At least not to me. And I have nothing but time. Would you like to go to lunch with me?"
She resisted the urge to pinch herself, because things had just gone from weird to completely surreal. She was only going to be in town for three days, and she had a lot of poking around to do, but could she really turn down a meal with this guy? This guy who was a billionaire, didn't tend to ask strangers to lunch as far as she knew, and was standing there looking incredible in a designer suit.
"I bet you ask every girl who runs you over on the sidewalk to lunch," she teased. Even in awe, she couldn't reel in the boldness.
"Not every one," he said with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Just the ones that intrigue me. Which would make you the first."
Chloe swallowed hard, hoping he hadn't seen her do it. Un-freakin'-believable, she thought. The handsome, rich man wanted to take her to lunch, he could take her to lunch. It's not like she could find enough of her voice to argue, anyway.
"Well, in that case, I suppose I should accept your invitation, Mr. Wayne." It was truly a miracle that she'd sounded normal.
"Bruce. Informal, remember?"
She nodded. "Okay, Bruce. Where will we be dining today?" Stop being flirty, she told herself.
"I know a place," he said with a wink, and it was all she could do to keep a big, dumb grin off her face.
It would've been wiped off anyway when he led her to his pitch black Lamborghini Murciélago.
She gave a short laugh. "Nice car," she said with an incredulous look his way. She should've known a billionaire would own such a thing, but it was still hard to believe anyone had a car that cost over two hundred thousand dollars, when she just tried to scrape together grocery money every week.
He just shrugged what she assumed was a thanks, and opened her door for her. She knew he was a ladies man, but that didn't mean she'd expected him to be a gentleman. She'd definitely been handed worse surprises in her life. She slid past him and into his fabulous car, and followed him with her eyes as he shut the door, and walked around to the driver's side. She still couldn't believe what was happening.
There was very little chitchat in the car as Bruce navigated the narrow streets to their destination. She still didn't know where they were going, and she tried not to let herself think about how Clark would probably yell at her for getting into a strange man's car. Even if it was a very famous strange man, she laughed to herself. As much as she didn't know about Bruce Wayne, she highly doubted he was a serial killer, even if he did have more than the means to pull something like that off. Clark's constant paranoia was annoyingly starting to wear off on her, but she wouldn't let it spoil her fun today.
When they pulled up in front of Angelle, an extremely exclusive, extremely costly restaurant according to her city guide, she tried to act like it was somewhere she went all the time, even though they both knew better. Chloe wasn't one to act above her actual standing, but dorking out was not an option in the company of the rich and famous. Not if you wanted them to keep talking to you.
Bruce gave the waiting valet his keys, and walked around to let her out. When he took her hand to help her out of the car, she shivered a little. No one had had that particular effect on her in... well, fine. Not before or since Clark, damn him.
She was career focused now. She didn't have time to fall under the spell of another man. Trying to evict Clark from her heart had taken up plenty, and she still hadn't managed to toss him out for good yet.
Instead, she would look at him as a story. Not the one she was in search of originally, but definitely a bonus. This was a business lunch, and she couldn't let herself think it was going any further than that, no matter how he was acting. In fact, she was a bit confused on that front, but she tended to go with the flow. No reason to change that philosophy now.
After they were seated, she took her time looking at the menu, surreptitiously studying him over the edge of it. She didn't recognize half of the stuff listed anyway, so she figured she might as well order a salad and make better use of her time. When she was out of her element and thinking on her feet, her appetite took very little precedence.
The waiter came back a few minutes later, and took their orders.
When he was gone, Bruce sighed and narrowed his eyes at her. "I didn't take you for a salad kind of girl."
She laughed at him. Like he wasn't used to "salad kind of girls", or rather "one leaf of lettuce per day" kind of girls.
"I could call him back and order the most expensive steak," she teased. "And normally, I would. I had a late breakfast though, so I'm not all that hungry. Any other problems with my order?"
"No problems at all. I just wanted you to feel free to get whatever you wanted."
They were running out of small talk, and Chloe was really starting to wonder what had ever possessed her to get in that pricey car to begin with. The atmosphere of the restaurant was bright, but much quieter than she was used to, so talking of some kind was almost a necessity.
"So, Chloe, I assume you're from out of town? You didn't exactly say."
"Yes, I am, actually. I'm originally from Metropolis, and I live there now, but I consider Smallville home."
He nodded. "You work there? Go to school?"
"I'm a student at Metropolis University," she answered, all of the sudden feeling younger than she ever did. At twenty-one she'd already experienced enough for someone at least twice her age, so sometimes she forgot how young she actually was. But she knew Bruce was at least thirty-three, so she suddenly felt very much her own age.
"Good school. May I ask what you're studying?"
She wanted to ask why he was so interested in her life, but she put that thought away. "I'm a journalism major, in my junior year. After school, I want to work at the Daily Planet, and pay off all my debts. Should I list my hobbies, too, Bruce? I don't have many, but I like to travel when I can," she finished with a sweet smile.
"I'm being nosy," he said, picking up on her snark.
"It's not so much that, because I can't persecute anyone for being nosy. Journalist," she said with a wave of her hand. "I'm just not used to being interviewed over lunch."
"You're used to doing the interviewing?"
"Usually, yes," she laughed.
"And you see me as a story, Chloe? Is that why you agreed to come?"
He'd caught her, but she'd never admit it. "Not really. I came after a different story entirely."
"What would bring you all the way to Gotham?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh, him."
"Mmm hmm, I'm assuming you've heard of him?"
"He's quite often talked about here."
"I figured as much. What do you know about him?"
"Well, he seems to fight crime," he said sardonically, "while being a rather shady figure himself."
Chloe frowned. "But he has seemed to help the city?"
"In general, I suppose. He brought down a crime lord a couple of years ago. There are always other 'bad guys', but he seems to keep them down as best he can."
"So the general opinion of him is..."
"He doesn't create as much of a stir anymore. The commissioner even works with him now, but most people just wonder about his identity, and what kind of lunatic would dress up like a bat."
She could've sworn she saw amusement dancing in those hazel eyes of his. "Whatever works," she grinned.
"Why the interest, all the way from Metropolis?" he asked seriously.
She shrugged. "I've always had a tendency to investigate the... unusual, shall we say? There were a lot of odd happenings where I grew up, so I guess it rubbed off on me, for better or worse."
Their meals came just then, temporarily halting the conversation. When everything was settled, the conversation turned to more general things, like music and art, and she found out he wasn't nearly as stuffy as she would've taken him to be.
When they were done, she looked at her watch and was shocked to find that two solid hours had passed. Insane.
"I suppose it would be silly of me to offer to go dutch?" she said when the bill came.
"Terribly," he said with a wicked smile, a real one this time.
She definitely thought he should smile more often, despite the way it made her want to melt. "I had to try," she shrugged.
Outside, she could tell he was looking for a way to keep her around, and the only reason she wanted to get away was because she wanted to be kept around, if that made any sense. The attraction she was feeling was starting to take over, but she knew it was better to run now and kick herself later. There were some things she just couldn't afford.
"Can I drive you somewhere?" he asked.
She sighed. "Well, if it's really no trouble, my hotel's about ten blocks away, and these," she said, glancing down at her knee high boots, "were not the best choice of walking shoes, I'm afraid."
He chuckled and opened her car door for her. "No problem at all."
The ride to her hotel took all of three minutes, and when he parked outside and got out, she was almost afraid he'd offer to go with her up to her tenth floor room. Instead, he opened her door for her, helped her out, and made sure she had all her things.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Sullivan," he said sincerely.
"You too, Mr. Wayne," she said, returning what were now mock-formalities.
He handed her one of his business cards. "If you need a friend in the city, my number's on there," he said. "And maybe you could give me yours once your cell's replaced?"
"Maybe," she said. "Thanks again for lunch, Bruce. And sorry again for running into you. Actually, I'm not sorry I ran into you, it's just the literal sense I'm talk-"
"I know," he said, taking her hand and kissing it.
She almost died on the spot.
"Goodbye, Chloe," he said, releasing her and making his way back to his car.
"Bye," she said softly.
He didn't pull away until she was in the hotel lobby, staring out the glass, wondering if she'd just dreamed her entire afternoon. None of it seemed possible.
She turned and walked to the elevator, completely lost in her thoughts as it climbed its way to the tenth floor. She managed to make it into her room, and she collapsed on the bed. She couldn't be that far gone in a couple of hours, could she?
Stupid men and their stupid spells, she thought. Even though she didn't know what Bruce Wayne had wanted with her company, she had heard all the poor little rich boy stories, and he had seemed to have a truly good time with her. By all accounts he was usually overly charming, or tortured and brooding, but with her he'd been, well, relatively normal. Could she give herself that much credit, or had she gone crazy?
Crazy was more like it, she concluded.
She sighed and rolled over on the bed, the blinking message light on the phone catching her attention. It turned out the message wasn't from the usual suspect, but from her dad. Even so, she figured she'd indulge Clark one more phone call, then that was it. She was going to tell him that she was a grown woman, and she'd take care of herself, only calling him if it was really an emergency. He'd never wanted to be her boyfriend, so she couldn't figure out what had been up with him acting like it lately. Things were usually boring in Kansas, but not enough to make him resort to being her babysitter.
She dialed his number, and he answered almost immediately.
"Hey, Chloe, how's it going?"
She rolled her eyes. "Don't you ever go to class?"
"I don't have class on Thursday."
"Whatever. I'm just letting you know I'm all right, and you can stop calling me now."
"You sound annoyed. Did you get your phone fixed?"
"No, not yet."
"What have you been doing for the last three hours? Hitting up sources?"
"What do you mean by 'not exactly'?"
She couldn't not tell him. It was too good, and besides, he needed to know he wasn't the only guy in the world she could be interested in. At least, he would need to know if he hadn't been playing oblivious forever.
"Well, you know I told you I ran into someone by accident?"
"Um, he just happened to be Bruce Wayne." She waited.
"The Bruce Wayne?" he asked, incredulous.
"The one and only," she said with a smile she was glad he couldn't see.
"Did he sue?" he teased.
"No. There was quite the opposite reaction."
Chloe knew she was leading him, and she couldn't help it. He sounded way too anxious.
"He asked me to lunch."
She covered her mouth to try to get her laughter under control. "He asked me to lunch, and I went."
"Geez, Chloe, he's a total stranger and you got-"
"Shut up, Clark," she said good naturedly.
"Fine," he huffed. "What was the almighty Bruce Wayne like?"
"Interesting," she said with a secret grin. "Very interesting."