Summery: What happens when Superman shows up and interferes in a fight between Batman and Joker…
A/N: As usual, this is much more of a character study than something with an actual plot… The idea for this came from a review by Trecebo… a very long time ago. I happened to see the old review and it turned into a plot bunny… Thanks, Trecebo. I hope I did the idea justice.
As Superman was flying low over Gotham, on the way to see Bruce, he heard an all to familiar laugh. Joker.
Heading towards the sound he saw Batman laying, seemingly unconscious, against a wall as Joker jumped into a convertible Harley was driving. Hearing that Batman's heartbeat was regular and strong, and that he was breathing normally, Clark went after Joker and Harley.
Before Harley could drive away he scooped her and Joker from the car. He dumped them in front of a couple of, very surprised, police officers who were leaving the Gotham PD Headquarters.
Worried about his closest friend, he quickly flew back to check on Bruce, and was relieved to see Bruce on his feet.
A glare that had caused the most hardened criminals to shiver in fear and confess all their crimes only made Clark swallow hard. "What do you think you were doing?" Batman asked in a tone colder than an Arctic winter.
"Helping you catch Joker and Harley. Are you okay? It looked liked you'd been knocked out."
"That's what I wanted Joker to think. You know I can handle him. Joker is planning something. I'm not sure what he's planning or how far along his plans are. During the fight I planted a tracker on him. Then I let him think he'd gotten in a lucky shot and knocked me out, so he could get away."
"And you could follow him and figure out what he's up to," Superman finished. "With him in custody again does it really matter?"
"It does if the plan is already in place and set to go off without the Joker needing to do anything else. And now he's in police custody he won't tell us what we need to know," Batman pointed out, his tone still Artic cold.
At Gotham PD Headquarters James Gordon listened as Joker ranted.
"A clown can't get a break around here. If it isn't the Bat ruining my plans it's the Big Blue Boy Scout. What did I ever do to him?" Joker demanded. "Why can't he just stay in Metropolis and bother Luthor? Bats-In-His-Belfry and the Boy Blunder cause enough problems for the honest criminals of Gotham."
"I hear ya, Mister J," Harley agreed, pouting.
Worried about his old friend, Gordon went up to the roof and lit the BatSignal. A few seconds later Superman landed lightly on the roof.
"Commissioner. Good to see you again."
"Thank you for bringing them in. But where is Batman? Is he…" Seeing a shadow swinging toward them through the night Gordon relaxed and fell silent.
"He's fine," Superman answered. He didn't really understand the unusual friendship between Batman and Gordon, but he was glad it existed. Glad Batman had another friend, and an ally in his nightly battle for Gotham. Batman had few allies and fewer friends. He counted himself lucky to be among them.
Several seconds later Batman landed on the roof. "I'm worried about how far along Joker's plans were."
"I think we're safe. He was complaining that 'the Big Blue Boy Scout' had ruined things," Gordon said, carefully watching the other two men for a reaction.
The slightest twitch of Batman's lips was as close to a smile as he'd even seen Batman come. Superman glanced over at Batman, but gave no other reaction.
Gordon would have bet money that at some point Batman had called Superman a boy scout. It was very likely the only thing Joker and Batman ever had, or ever would, agree on.
"And what did he call Batman?" Superman asked, grinning.
"Nothing he hasn't said before," was all Gordon would answer.
"Did he also manage an insult to my partner?" Batman asked.
"If you mean Robin, then yes," Gordon replied.
"Who else would I mean? Robin is my partner," Batman answered Gordon, but his eyes had locked with Superman.
"I'll be going now. You two seem to have everything well under control," Superman said before flying off.
Alfred looked up as Bruce returned. "From the scowl on your face I take it the Joker is still loose?"
"No. Clark showed up and interfered."
"I'd planted a tracker on Joker and let him think he'd knocked me out and could escape. Superman showed up and took him in. Luckily it seems we were in time to stop whatever he'd planned from happening without him."
"Clark believed you were unconscious? Injured? Vulnerable to the Joker?"
"I suppose he might have thought that," Bruce admitted.
"And what if you had found Master Richard in a similar situation? Would you have stopped to evaluate things? Or would you have simply acted? And I dare say you would have done a great deal more damage to Joker than Superman did."
Bruce slowly nodded his agreement. If he'd found Joker anywhere near an unconscious and vulnerable Robin he'd have beaten him half to death. He purposely used his son's code name. It was too hard to think of Dick being vulnerable to Joker. Robin was his partner, and more than capable of taking care of himself. Dick was… his son. Just as he worked to keep his own identities separate he worked to keep his son's identities separate. That, admittedly flimsy, distinction allowed him to let Robin put himself into the dangerous situations they were often in. That, and the knowledge that he was there to watch over and protect his son.
The next night Batman was once again in the Cave. By the time the alarm went off Superman was already standing just behind Batman, who was working on the BatComputer. Batman reached over and cut off the alarm.
"Clark," Bruce said, without looking away from the computer. He had the Batman costume on, but the cowl wasn't in place.
"Last night I never got to tell you the reason I'd come to Gotham. I was hoping you could check something out for me."
Bruce turned to face Clark. "What is it?"
"Project Ares. It's something Lex is working on. I can't get much information on it… Just that he's spending a lot of money on this project – whatever it is."
"I'll see what I can find out and get you the information. It may take a couple days," Bruce answered.
"Thanks. I am sorry about last night."
"No harm was done. You were… concerned about a friend," Bruce answered.
"This is a change of attitude," Clark noted.
"Alfred reminded me that I'm prone to acting without thinking of future consequences when there is any chance someone I care about may be hurt," Bruce admitted.
Clark smiled. Alfred did have a way of getting through to Bruce – and was also one of the very few people who knew just how much Bruce did care about those close to him.
Bruce had turned away and begun searching for information on Project Ares on the massive computer. Without distracting Bruce further Clark left. He had Metropolis, and Lois, to get back to.