"How long you gonna keep that up big guy?" Jimmy's voice rang out.
Clark looked up from the computer and poked his glasses a little higher on his face. Jimmy came near his desk and plopped down in another chair. Clark smiled and opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by another voice.
"Cut him some slack Jimmy." Lois said peeking over from her own nearby desk. "He was gone five years. That's a lot to catch up on."
"Not to mention a lot had happened in the last few days." Clark responded. "What with Superman's return and all that trouble with Lex Luthor; I've barely had time to catch up with recent events let alone what's happened in the last five years."
"Spose so." Jimmy shrugged.
The Daily Planet was just getting back to normal after the havoc Luthor's scheme had played on Metropolis. Superman had helped by personally clearing some of the rubble, but there was still a lot to get done. Workmen and technicians labored around the clock to install new windows, new fixtures, and in some cases new equipment.
And while things were returning to normal as far as the office went Jimmy couldn't help notice how distant Lois was starting to become. One time he even caught her looking at her son, Jason with a confused look, like she was seeing him as a whole new person. The cub reporter also couldn't help but notice that Clark was beginning to share a similar expression.
Still he kept this to himself, with the reminder that he was probably just reading into things. Jimmy glance at his two friends. Both were completely engrossed in their work; Clark reading back issues of the Daily Planet on his computer and Lois hashing out a story, as usual.
"Is asylum spelt with a 'y' or an 'i'?" Lois called out to anybody willing to correct her.
"Spelt with a 'y' Lois." Clark responded not looking away from his screen.
Lois muttered some sound that might have been a thank you and continued typing. A moment or so later she let out a sigh and pulled off her glasses, then clenched and unclenched her fingers.
"You wouldn't think that we would already be having slow news days so soon after everything that happened." She breathed.
"Not your type of story?" Jimmy asked.
"Yeah not really something I'd call a scoop." Lois shrugged. "I'm just prepping for an interview the new assistant D.A. you know the Gotham import."
At this Clark finally lifted his eyes from the computer. "Rachel Dawes?" he asked.
Lois raised an eyebrow. "You know her?"
"No," Clark responded. "But I was just going over what happened in Gotham last year."
The reporter pointed to his computer screen which showed a Daily Planet headline reading: Gotham Terrorist Attack Thwarted. Both Lois and Jimmy nodded when they read it.
"That was sure something Mr. Kent." Jimmy commented. "Some sort of fear gas."
"A psychotropic hallucinogen." Clark corrected. "I can't believe how many people were attacked with it."
"Well stuff like that only happens in Gotham." Lois shrugged. Clark shifted his eyes around looking at the general state of repair or rather disrepair that the Planet building was in, along with the rest of Metropolis.
"What about this Bat-man fellow." Clark asked. "There are a few references to him but they're all vague. Can he really fly like you-know-who?"
"Who knows?" Lois replied. "Only people that have ever seen him are a bunch of crooks he thrashed."
"Some people actually thought he might be Superman," Jimmy added. "What with the flying rumors and that bullets bounce off his chest."
Clark raised an eyebrow at this but Lois only rolled her eyes. "Superman doesn't hide in the shadows like that."
"Hey I didn't say I thought that. Just…people. Besides I think a lot of people hoped it was him. He had already been gone four years."
"I know." Lois said flatly.
"Olsen!" Perry suddenly called out. "Quit that jibber jabbing! I don't remember putting you on the gossip column!
"Right Chei—Mr. White." Jimmy popped from his seat, but then he pauses just before he ran off. "I wonder if Superman will try and find Batman now that he's back."
"I wonder." Clark repeated as his friend ran off.
"And how did the hunting go Master Wayne?" Alfred smiled with his hands tucked behind his back.
Bruce immerged from the grandfather clock that served as the new entrance to the Batcave. It was hard to believe that a mere Eight months before this place had been nothing more than a smoldering heap. Testament to the destructive ends that Ra's Al Ghul sought to use against Gotham City. Now as almost a counter testament to what Batman was doing, Wayne Manor was almost completely reconstructed. One of the advantages to owning obscene amounts of cash.
"Still no good Alfred." Bruce sighed. "Eight months and there still hasn't been a sign of Crane."
"Ah." Alfred nodded. "But that's not what's bothering you is it?"
Bruce stared at his old friend for a moment then let out another breath. "No," he admitted. "It's that serial killer Lieutenant Gordon has me tracking. This Joker, that always seems just a step out of my reach."
"Has he struck again sir?"
"No, maybe he knows I'm onto him and he's laying low. But it almost makes me more nervous knowing that he might be planning something big."
"If anyone can find him sir it's you." Alfred patted him on the shoulder. "Now run along and get ready. I'll have one of your cars waiting for you."
"Get ready? What are you talking about?"
"You have a dinner appointment with some of the board of trustee's and their wives."
"Great." Bruce groaned. "Another one of those."
"Your date will be a Miss Veronica Vreeland."
"The same sir." Alfred nodded. "She's waiting in the Parlor, and if I may sir. Perhaps you should leave the checkbook with me. I think we own enough hotels for now."
Bruce gave a short laugh and patted Alfred on the shoulder. He made his way to his room to get dressed. How he despised these little 'get togethers' he had half hoped that after he had kicked everyone from his mansion the night Ra's attacked that they would never invite him again. No such luck.
After a few minutes and a short ride in his Lamborghini Murcielago they arrived at the high-class restaurant. The entire way Bruce played up his billionaire carefree persona all the while he noted how Miss Vreeland would laugh at the tiniest things he said and would cross her legs in revealing ways. She was a gold digger. He made note to check into the Vreeland family fortune and see if they were going into bankruptcy.
Once they entered the restaurant Bruce gave perhaps his first sincere smile since meeting Veronica. There, sitting at the dinner table, amongst the other high rollers was Lucius Fox and his wife. At least there would be somebody there with his head attached to his shoulders.
The food was rich in every sense of the word." Bruce could barely tolerate it. So when the conversation began he was happy to turn away from the food and analyze the company and their opinions. Of course he was less than surprised at the topic of conversation.
"I heard they sighted him earlier today." One of the women blushed.
"They're always sighting him." One of the businessmen shrugged. "It was exciting at first but seriously can't we move on with our lives?"
Bruce smiled at this. It was the same thing they had all talked about in the last while. "But just think of the things you could do with that X-ray vision." He grinned. He paid a glance to Veronica who looked scandalized.
"Actually we were talking about Batman." The woman commented.
"Oh," Bruce replied, "Him again. I thought we all got over him when Superman reappeared."
Lucius grinned. "That we did Mr. Wayne, but when was the last time you saw Superman in Gotham? I think everybody has staked a territorial claim. Batman's this town's superhero now."
"Super?" Bruce laughed. "Nothing super about that weirdo."
"At least he was here." Lucius' wife spoke up. "Where was Superman when Falcone flooded our streets with drugs? Where was Superman when the Scarecrow attacked us and the Narrows were lost? Seems if he's going to play favorites with Metropolis then Gotham is entitled its own savior."
"And think of how he could have saved the city." Veronica piped up. "Sure Batman may have stopped the train but look at how much damage he did in the process! Superman could have lifted it off the tracks or used his x-ray vision on it or something."
Bruce did his best not to scowl. This rich cow had no idea, no concept of the struggle he had gone through to save Gotham. Yet at the same time he had to agree with her a little. Metropolis was a Utopia next to Gotham and Superman had never so much as stepped foot in it. Instead he stayed in the light and in the glow of adoring fans while Gotham rotted to the point where only Batman had come to save it.
"Well maybe now that Superman is back we won't need Batman anymore." Someone said. "What do you think Bruce?"
Bruce opened his mouth but didn't answer. He couldn't a stream of police cruisers and fire trucks zipped by the restaurant with sirens blaring. He had to stop himself from jumping out of his seat. More sirens sounded and restaurant patrons were soon crowding past each other to see what the commotion was about. Veronica was at the forefront of this crowd. Off in the distance she could see flames rising.
"Oh I wonder what's burning Bruce." She commented. "Bruce?"
The heiress turned around to see that her date had disappeared.
A police line had been tapped around the building while firefighters struggled to contain the flames. While most the residents had been evacuated already, firemen had been sent into the apartment building searching for anyone else.
Lt. James Gordon stared at the conflagration and wiped a hand through his hair. He had been driving home from work when his radio had picked up the fire. That was all it took to convince the workaholic cop to turn around and head toward the flames and the smoke. He couldn't help but wonder how the fire had started.
Like many of Gotham buildings this one had fallen under disrepair. Faulty wiring, dry walls, stored paint thinner that could catch a spark. There were a number of innocent causes for such a dangerous effect. But Gordon couldn't discount another option. Arson, and considering it was a fire in Gotham, it was also a likely option.
Gordon glanced at his watch. The firefighters had been in there too long. Far from being put out the flames were only rising. There was just too much building and not enough places for the firefighters to douse the flames. The Lieutenant moved his gaze to his men, making sure no one crossed past the barriers they had placed. Last thing they needed now was someone to get in the fire fighters way.
It was just then that team of firemen came hustling out of the building, a couple had someone slung over their shoulders. Paramedics rushed toward them as did the Fire Chief, Gordon was right behind him. Five firefighters had gone in but only four had come out.
"Mitch!" the Chief shouted over the flames. "Where's Mitch?"
"Building's came down around us." One of them panted. "We got separated and the ceiling came down on the room he was in!"
"Well we have to get someone back in there!" Gordon yelled. "We can't just leave him."
The fire chief nodded but an explosion rocked out of the buildings entrance. Flames erupting outwards. A group of firefighters started shooting water at it but it would take several minutes before anyone would get in.
Behind him Gordon heard the crowd become suddenly agitated. He turned just as he heard someone yell, "Look! Up in the sky!" Gordon followed the pointing fingers upward to see a familiar shape soaring toward the building. And Gordon found himself cheering along with the crowd as Batman sailed with his glider like cape to the building.
Just as the Dark Knight was reaching it however the up drafts from the blaze pushed him away from his target. Undaunted his batline jutted out. With a quick wrap around his belt he was flung toward the window. He angled his shoulder just slightly so it took the brunt of the glass.
Even with the flame retardant suit he wore, Batman could feel the heat pouring from the fire. He needed to make this quick. He had spotted a figure moving in the flames with his binoculars from the building across the way. Now that he was actually in the building amid the smoke he couldn't see where this person had gone to.
He took a couple of steps and felt the floor beneath him creek. The floor wasn't going to last long at all. Batman went to the door and clasped it. The door knob was hot. He took a breath and flung the door open with himself behind it.
Flames shot out; devouring the new oxygen it was being exposed to. Again the Dark Knight was thankful for his suit. He made a note to give Lucius a raise. The flames died down slightly and Batman peered into the room. Sure enough there was a firefighter lying prone, having been knocked down by the flames, his oxygen low.
The Dark Knight had him in seconds. Walking right through the flames to reach him and carry him toward the window. The floor boards threatened to give way as he rose to his goal. Batman looked out the window looking for a good place to shoot his grapple gun. Behind him beams started toppling. His eyes caught the crowd. He had expected them to be still staring at the window he had crashed through. But instead they were staring straight up and pointing.
The building started to rumble a little bit, Batman took a step backward. Then a sudden wind came up. It was powerful enough to knock him and the fireman to the ground. Powerful enough that it blew the flames out like a birthday candle. The wind died to the sound of cheers below.
Batman pulled himself up. "What in he—" he started but the wall in front of him suddenly ripped away and he was greeted with the force that had doused the flames. The reason for the crowds cheers. And for some reason it made him scowl.
"You must be the Bat-man." Superman floated in, holding a hand out. "Come with me. This building isn't sound any longer."
Batman handed him the fireman that had been flung over his shoulder. "Take him to the paramedics." He growled. "I can handle myself."
Superman cocked a brow slightly but took the man in his arms and floated downward toward the paramedics and scrambling reporters trying to get a glimpse of the Man of Steel in Gotham. Batman watched for a second then went to work.
Below Superman ignored the press while he ensured that the fireman was okay. Most of the room's oxygen had been consumed and if not for his own tank he would have died. The Man of Steel crooked his head back slightly. That wasn't entirely true. If Batman hadn't been there then he might have died anyway.
After giving a smile and a nod to the crowd he lifted himself from the ground, his eyes roamed over the building searching for the costumed man he had just met. After a moment he located him, a few floors below where he had previously been.
Superman flew to the building and entered through a window. He didn't want to disturb it too much. His feet hovered just over the blackened wood and he moved through a few rooms to find Batman stooped over the apartment's furnace, or what was left of it.
"You should leave the sneaking to the professionals." Batman commented without looking up.
The Man of Steel narrowed his eyes and scanned the man before him. A peek at his skeletal structure revealed he was completely human, though in peak condition. His suit was a nomex/Kevlar weave that explained the rumors of him being bulletproof. That explained how he was able to get to the fireman. His belt was stocked with gadgets of every variety. Then there was the cape and cowl.
Superman could make out small electrodes in the cape. Capable of receiving a current thus, conforming it to the wing-like wire frame within the fabric. That explained the "flying". Finally the cowl was equipped with high-tech listening devices. That explained how he had heard the Man of Steels entrance. It was only out of respect for saving a man's life that Superman didn't continue his scan to see who it was behind the mask.
"I had heard rumors about you. About what happened in Gotham while I was gone. But you're just a human." Superman finally spoke. "Not many people would risk their lives like you did."
"Stating the obvious one of your powers too?" Batman responded still concentrating on the furnace. "I'm kind of busy here."
"I can see that." Superman responded taking another step near the dark figure. His crystal blue eyes zoomed in on the burnt piece of metal he was examining. "Looks like a fire extinguisher."
"Yeah." Batman responded. "Perfect thing to put out the fire. Except it was used to start this one. Shoved into the furnace. When it exploded the fire started here and flames shot through the vents spreading it across the building."
"That's quite the supposition."
"It's fact. It was the Land Lord. Only he could have shut off the sprinkler system, allowing the fire to destroy the building like this."
Batman turned and started toward the door. Superman was in front of him in a flash. "Where are you going?"
"To get a confession."
"Don't know. Maybe I'll hang him upside down in front of a train."
Superman's eyes widened. Perhaps his earlier impression of this Batman had been wrong. "You can't do that. What if you're wrong?"
"But that's against the law. It makes you nothing better than a vigilante."
Batman glared up at him. "Don't lecture me on vigilantism." He seethed, the feeling he had been fighting ever since Superman had returned bit back at him. "Gotham wouldn't need me if people like you did their jobs. Now that you're back you think you can just waltz in here and act like Gotham wasn't almost destroyed while you were gone chasing rocks? You can forget it."
"Look I know a lot of things happened while I was gone." Superman responded. "But it was something I had to do."
"Well this is something I have to do." Batman stepped passed him and went to a window. "I go for the people that fall through the cracks you and others like you leave."
That said the Dark Knight launched himself from the window, his cape billowing out, allowing him to soar to the next building. Superman remained where he was, watching. He had certainly not expected this when he came to Gotham. The idea that some people thought Batman was him now seemed ludicrous.
The Man of Steel's eyes scanned the building for a moment stopping on the burnt remains of the furnace that Batman had shown him. They then searched out the rest of the building peeling away layer. Focusing on the manager's office. Pushed off from the ground and exited from the exact same window Batman had. Reporters and cameramen scrambled to get a shot of him flying through the air. He ignored them this time. Instead he climbed past the smog and grim of Gotham until it took the appearance of overactive multicolored fireflies below him.
His ears tuned into the sounds of the city. Past the honking of the horns, or the run down monorail. He could pick up gunshots, screams, crying children. Twice as many as he would have in Metropolis. He tried to find Batman but it proved somewhat difficult. The aural dampeners made it difficult. Finally Superman located who he was really searching for.
The air rushed past him and the city grew. People pointed as he shot past. Cars stopped and their passengers got out hoping to catch a glimpse. Finally Superman reached his destination. The Gotham International Airport.
The Man of Steel swooped past a couple of planes taxiing, preparing for lift off. He allowed himself a small smile and brought himself right in front of the cockpit of one. The pilots slammed on the planes brakes and it looked almost as though they would fly out of their seats and through the windshield.
He signaled for them to stop and open the door for him. As he flew around he heard the Captain get on the radio and announce to the passengers that everything was okay and they were only stopping in order to take on a late arrival.
The door opened and Superman hovered in. A stewardess dropped some plates she was carrying and several passengers stood. The pilot and the co-pilot burst out of cockpit to get a look.
"Excuse me." He said. "I just have to go talk to someone in coach."
The Man of Steel walked through the halls drawing stares from all sides. It wasn't everyday that Superman himself showed up on an airplane after all. The Metropolis Marvel finally entered the section and his eyes spotted his target. The man of course spotted Superman right away as well.
"Richard Connors." Superman approached him with his arms crossed. "Did you know your apartment building burned down today?"
The man's face couldn't have gotten any whiter if you had painted. "I…that is to say…" he mumbled.
"Why don't you step outside so we can talk about it?" Superman gestured for the man to get up.
Like a frightened zombie Connors complied, stumbling his way toward the door with Superman right behind him. Finally they reached the open door and Connors looked to the Man of Steel not knowing what to do now. A jump from a 747 was still a good way.
"Don't worry." Superman shrugged. "You wanted to fly. I'm going to give you a first class ride."
By the time they had flown to the police station Connors had confessed to arson in full. He had planned on skipping the country and then collecting the insurance while he was away. The man kept on shaking his head.
"Why would you come all the way from Metropolis to bust me?" he grumbled.
"I go where I'm needed." Superman smiled then knocked on the police station doors to get an officer. By the time he turned around however Richard Connors had disappeared completely. Superman scanned up and down the street but the man had not fled running. The sound of heavy breathing and muffled cries flew to his ears.
Superman shot his gaze up to see Batman on top of the building dangling Connors upside down by a rope. Connors started screaming Superman floated up.
"I already got a full confession from him." He said staring at the Dark Knight. "I did this to show you that scaring the living daylights out of people isn't necessary."
"Isn't it?" Batman growled. "Then maybe you should ask him about where his wife is."
"I didn't!" Connors screamed.
"Wrong answer!" Batman roared and yanked him up until they were face to face. Superman hovered behind watching, and waiting to see what Batman would do. "You planned on being on the plane in the air when the fire happened! And your wife was the one that lit the fire. Then you hired some thug to kill her so she couldn't talk!"
"I didn't kill her!" Connors insisted.
Batman threw him to the ground. The man hit his head and went unconscious. "You're right you sleaze!" he roared. "But that's because I caught your hit man before he could kill her! I have the confession on tape."
The Dark Knight turned and faced Superman now. The Man of Steel shook his head. "I can't say I like how you do things." He said, then his eyes went to the man he had apprehended.
"I didn't ask if you did."
"I know. But you did save Gotham by yourself, without any powers like mine. And while I don't like what you just did…you saved another life. Maybe what I heard is right."
"Gotham has its hero and I think it has one that will live up to that title in every way possible."
Batman didn't respond for a moment. He merely stared at the superhero before him analyzing every word. "I don't do this to be called a hero." He finally said.
"Neither do I." Superman grinned then lifted himself in the air. "If you ever need a hand…"
"I'll contact Clark Kent at the Daily Planet."
Superman cocked an eyebrow. "How do you…"
"Clark Kent goes on five year sabbatical and Superman disappears? Then you both show up on the same day? You're not the only one that keeps up on current events."
"I'll be sure to remember that Bruce." Superman grinned and sailed into the air waving goodbye.
Batman watched the Man of Steel sail away. After tying up Connors and turning on the Batsignal, letting the cops know there was somebody on the roof he gazed over Gotham. He let out a small smile then leapt off the building. Soaring over his city as the Superman soared back to his.
Thanks to those that read this! I in no way have any sort of rights to these great characters that were put into such fabulous films. I hope you enjoyed this. If you did leave a review! If you didn't...leave a review! Oh and to any of my WFvrCotA readers. I submitted the most recent chapter to my beta reader last week. Hopefully I get it soon. Thanks for reading again!