Snow and Confusion
December had arrived. It was Saturday. The first week was drawing to a close and oddly it had been quite peaceful.
Clark looked contentedly out the balcony window of his apartment in Metropolis watching the snow fall. It was a heavy snow and he loved the snow just as he loved December. For Clark, December and snow meant Christmas, and Christmas was his favorite holiday. He was always in higher spirits during the Christmas season. Clark had always had a strong bond with his parents but there was just something about the way his family and friends came together, giving and sharing for Christmas that really spoke to him.
He planned on leaving work early today. Not that he had to go in on Saturday, but he wanted to finish a story and a chance to see his friends, Lois and Jimmy, again before heading home to his parents in Smallville.
Clark turned back into his apartment to dress for work. This would be his first winter working at the Daily Planet. He liked his job. His boss, Perry White, was a good man and demanded the best in his workers. His partner, Lois, was very pretty and very smart, but bossy and prone to getting herself into trouble. He had to be on his toes when they were on assignments together. It surprised him somewhat that as sharp as Lois was she had not realized that he was also Superman, but he believed it was for the best and went out of his way to keep up the deception. Still, there was a part of him that seemed to want her to figure it out. For all the happiness that filled Clark's life, he was still lonely.
Clark Kent was a beloved son and cherished friend but he had no one other than his parents and Lana to share his secret with. Lana was with Pete and his parents had each other. He had no one. He not only wanted someone to woo and marry and spend the rest of his life with but he sometimes just wished that he could meet someone like himself. Someone he could face the dangers of the world with. Sometimes he wished he could just reveal his true identity to the world, but he knew that would create more problems than solutions. So he worked hard at concealing his abilities and accepted that perhaps it was his destiny to be alone.
Clark had been Superman for several months now. Clark wanted to use his abilities to make a difference in the world he called home, without revealing his identity. He had heard rumors that there was a Batman in Gotham City, that was putting the fear of God into the criminal element there, but there was no proof that he existed. It was Clark's mother who had come up with the solution. She made him an outfit using cloth from his spaceship. The colors were primary and the outfit hugged his body comfortably showing his impressive physique. At first Clark was uncomfortable with the idea of people seeing him dressed in this manner but as always, his mother won the argument. The formfitting outfit would distract attention from his face, (he had been adamant about not wearing a mask).
At first Clark had thought it would be impossible to hide his true identity from the world. At six feet six inches tall, he towered over most people. So while Superman was straight and tall, and visibly confident, Clark Kent hide his 6'6" muscular frame in an oversized suit, thick glasses, hair gel, a slight slouch and a soft spoken gentle demeanor. The latter was not an act. Clark was a soft spoken gentle man through and through, a gentle giant.
And Clark was a giant in more ways than one. Beyond his impressive height and equally impressive physique, Clark had a heart of gold. He had the ability to find hope in and seek peace in the most desperate of situations. With all his amazing abilities Clark chose to care for and better the lives of the people of his beloved, adopted home.
He was gentle, thoughtful and considerate of others to a fault. It was the part that he could never change. It was a basic part of his nature. Regardless of his role, he could more easily stop breathing than be rough thoughtless or inconsiderate.
Clark walked into the Daily Planet newsroom ten minutes early. He saw that Perry, Jimmy and Lois were already there.
"Hey Clark," Jimmy called from across the room. "Pretty cold isn't it?"
"Hi Jimmy. Yes it is cold but it's snowing and the air smells clean. Almost like the air back home." Clark said smiling at the thought of home.
"Hi, Smallville" Lois said looking up from a story she was working on. "Got any big plans for today?"
"Hi Lois," Clark smiled. "I'm going to finish up my story on the homeless children here in Metropolis and then leave early to do a little Christmas shopping." Clark said the last part with a little more enthusiasm.
"Make sure you buy me something nice Smallville." Lois winked, teasingly, smiling to herself. She found it amazing how excited Clark seemed to get about anything to do with Christmas. He was such a nice, simple man.
"Um...Oh…sure Lois" Clark answered a little taken aback by Lois's comment. Had Lois just winked at him?
Clark worked at finishing his story for the rest of the morning at normal speed. At lunch time he was done. He grabbed his coat and headed for the door. He briefly toyed with the idea of asking Lois to have lunch with him but quickly dismissed the idea fearing that he would just make a fool of himself. He was just about to board the elevator when he stopped, took a deep breath, and mind made up, marched over to Lois' desk.
"Lois?" Clark said nervously.
Lois didn't look up from her computer. "What's the matter Clark? You want me to proofread your story for you?"
"What? No…um. No. I, aah, wanted to ahh, ask you if you'd like to grab a bite with me before I do my shopping. Ifyou'retoobusyIunderstand. I'mnotthathungry anywayandI'llprobablybeeat…um eating again after I shop." Clark mentally kicked himself. He sounded like an idiot, and he had almost told her that he would be eating with his parents later! That would have gotten her asking all kinds of questions. Why was he so nervous?
Lois looked up at him with amusement. "Let me take a rain check on that lunch Smallville. I've still got a lot of work to do and you aren't hungry anyway," she teased.
"Sure Lois, maybe next time I'm hungry," Clark said lamely. "I'll see you on Monday."
Clark rode down the elevator, quietly berating himself. He'd made a complete fool of himself!
As he stepped outside his super hearing picked up the sound of a frightened gasp that was quickly cut off. Clark homed in on the sound, his earlier failure instantly forgotten. It had come from an alley five blocks from the Daily Planet. In a blur of motion he changed into his Superman uniform and entered the alley, senses fully alert.
Superman stood frozen for a moment. There was an unconscious man on the ground and a strangely costumed man holding an attractive young woman by the throat against a wall of the alley. The attacker was in a black and grey body suit with black boots, gloves, cape and a strange owl like cowl. The attacker was almost as tall as he and seemed to have a powerful build. Superman had heard of the Batman but he thought that he was either a hero or a myth. This man seemed to be neither.
"I think you should let her go." Superman said in a serious voice.
The attacker answered him without turning around. "Sure Jur whatever you say. If you want this one I can find another but you could just as easily do the same. Anyway, I thought that Di-ana was the only woman for you. Too bad you don't seem to be the only man for her." The man smirked releasing the young woman and turning to look at Superman.
Superman was completely confused by the man's speech, and he could tell that the man seemed to be taken aback after turning to look at him.
"Change your costume, Jur?" he asked conversationally.
"Why do you keep calling me Jur? Do we know each other?" Superman asked, completely perplexed.
The man seemed to consider his words. He then smiled suddenly, as if enlightened, and said, "Sorry, My mind must be playing tricks on me. Here! I think this belongs to you." The man hurled a dark object at Superman. Superman caught it and looked at it. It looked like a black crystal.
The darkly costumed man looked stunned for a second and then seemed to gather his wits. "Sorry, I guess you aren't Jur-li. I should have…." And in a flash of light he was gone.
Superman stared at the spot where the man had been standing. His mind was drowning with questions. Who was the strange man? Why did he call him Jur-li? Why did he give him the black crystal? Who was Di-ana? Where did the man disappear to?
Clark helped the woman stand up and checked the unconscious man. He would be alright. The woman was trembling with fear. Superman picked the two of them up and flew to the nearest hospital. He waited until the police arrived then flew home to Kansas to talk over his strange encounter with his parents.
Jonathon and Martha listened to Clark's story with rapt attention. They had just finished eating lunch and continued to sit at the kitchen table, enjoying the warmth and feeling of contentment after a hearty meal. The snow continued to fall heavily outside.
Martha asked her son, "So you've never seen this man before?"
'No, Ma. Never."
"He called you Jur-li, said someone named Di-ana was the only woman for you, tossed you that black crystal then disappeared into thin air?" mused Jonathan.
'Yes, Pa. It seemed he was going to take advantage of the young lady and when I showed up he didn't seem surprised at first. He just started talking to me like we knew each other. But when he turned and looked at me he seemed just as confused as I was."
"What do you think that crystal is all about, Son?" Jonathon asked.
"I'm not sure, but when I caught it he seemed shocked like there should have been some kind of reaction. Good or bad I don't know. But when nothing happened he seemed to realize I wasn't the person he thought I was. Then in midsentence he disappeared."
"Well, Clark, at least you're not hurt. I worry about you constantly. None of us know the full extent of your powers and we don't know if you have any weaknesses other than to kryptonite. You need to be careful," Martha warned.
"I know, Ma. I will." Clark got up and began clearing the dishes from the table. Martha helped him and Jonathan went into the living room and turned the TV on to the news station.
"Clark. I think you're going to want to see this."
Clark moved to the living room, listening to the report and looking with interest at the footage. Clark had never seen a more beautiful woman in his life or one more distraught. Her hair which was disheveled was thick, wavy, and raven black and fell to just past her shoulders. Her skin and figure seemed flawless and she seemed to be taller than average. Her outfit, which was in tatters, looked like a black one piece bathing suit, she wore black boots that came up almost to her knees and a black cape. The thong that held her cape on had a brooch with an S on it. She wore a pair of silver bracelets that seemed to cover most of her forearms but her bracelets were shackled together. She looked like she had been crying and yelling, and even now was viciously fighting off anyone who tried to touch her.
According to the reporter, she had been spotted in crime alley by a pedestrian who swore she appeared out of nowhere sobbing and screaming. The footage was live from Gotham City.
Clark turned to his parents. "I have to check this out. I'll be back tonight." And with that he was gone.
Bruce Wayne opened his eyes. He could tell by the light and the shadows that it was a little after one in the afternoon. That meant he had slept for five hours, more than enough. He felt refreshed.
He had been Batman for just over a year now. Street crime had just recently started to fall. The common predators were terrified of the dark shadow that had sent so many of them to the hospital.
Batman had received few injuries since becoming the Batman, while at the same time inflicting the maximum amount of pain and fear into those that preyed on the weak. Not because he was invulnerable, he was just as human as the criminals he preyed upon, but because he carefully planned for every conceivable situation.
Since witnessing the murder of his parents at the age of six, Bruce had vowed to avenge them. The rest of his youth had been devoted to training his mind and body for war. For war against the evil that had ripped his parents away from him. He was the ultimate detective; he had developed a photographic memory; he could speak dozens of languages; he was an expert chemist; he was a master of disguise; an escape artist; he could perform his own mechanical and electrical work or repair and he had mastered and modified fifteen different styles of martial arts from around the world. Whenever he learned of a new style he would seek out the best instructor to train with. In addition to martial arts he was an expert boxer, wrestler and gymnast. He had, in fact, surpassed his instructors in both skill and power. Bruce had spent his youth so immersed in physical and mental training that he had not developed any friendships. He isolated himself from the world, with one exception. There was one ray of light in Bruce's dark and grim life. His butler, friend and surrogate father Alfred. The man who had looked after and cared for the little lost boy from the day he had been orphaned.
Alfred had watched the cheerful innocent six year old child turn into a grim and dangerous man of twenty-five. Bruce seldom smiled. He never joked. He never apologized. Alfred knew that under the hard exterior was a kind and caring heart, and Alfred did everything in his power to nourish that heart. He loved Bruce like his own son and was proud of the man he had become. As the owner of Wayne Enterprises and the Wayne Foundation, Bruce was responsible for dozens of reform programs for former criminals and shelters for abused women and children. Because of Bruce, those with little hope of a future now had a chance for a better tomorrow.
The door to Bruce's expansive room opened and Alfred walked in. "Master Bruce! I see that you are awake. You may want to turn on the news. I believe you will find it quite fascinating."
Bruce sat up and turned the TV on as Alfred served him breakfast. The footage of the beautiful disheveled woman was live from Crime Alley. From her physical state, it seemed she had been attacked and abused. She seemed to be quite tall and in excellent shape. She was yelling. Bruce had learned to read lips during his grueling training of mind and body and now concentrated on the woman's lovely mouth. He caught the words "Thomas" and "Jur-li," as she lifted her bound wrists to the camera. There was a sudden blur of motion and the one called Superman was standing before the woman.
The woman seemed relieved and frightened at the same time. Her angry flashing eyes became pleading. She was clutching onto Superman begging him to remove her bonds.
"Alfred, I think I'll drive into town in the Lamborghini."
Superman landed between the crowd and the beautiful woman. She was very tall, almost six feet. She had definitely been abused. When she saw him she looked both relieved and scared. Her eyes were pleading. She grasped his uniform, begging him to release her bound wrists. Suddenly Clark knew who she was. He scooped her up and flew off with her outside of the city to a quiet wooded area and set her down. She was trembling with fear and cold.
She looked up at his face and began. "I promise to only be yours from now on Jur. Free my wrists, I beg you!" She stared at his face and then his uniform. A look of utter bewilderment came over her.
Clark stepped closer to her and gently touched her shoulder. She trembled at his touch looking into his eyes. "Who are you?" she asked quietly.
Clark gave her a reassuring smile. Her beauty took his breath away even in her disheveled state. Superman stood mesmerized. For a moment he was oblivious to all but the vision before him. He had never seen such a physically perfect woman. She was slender and tall, her whole body was toned muscle but she had all the right feminine curves. Her face alone was a work of art. Her lovely face was turned up to his questioningly, her full lips were very enticing and her eyes…There was something wrong with her eyes. They were beautiful to be sure, but there was something about them that made him feel uneasy. His unease brought him out of his trance.
"I am not this Jur-li you keep going on about but I can free your wrists." With that Clark snapped the chain holding her wrists together.
"You must be Di-ana. I am called Superman. Can you tell me how you got here?"
The woman was staring at him now with a look of curiosity. Her helpless look was replaced with the look of a hungry predator that had already caught its prey. She grabbed Superman and pulled his face down to hers in a fierce kiss with a strength Superman had not felt before in another human.
Superman stood frozen. The woman he had mentally categorized as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen was kissing him! He broke the kiss holding her at arms length. She was breathing hard. Her chest was heaving, her breath was steaming the snow laden air, and her eyes were lit with desire.
Superman took a deep breath. "Listen, Di-ana. You have obviously been through a lot today. Let me take you somewhere you will feel comfortable and you can tell me what is going on here."
She smiled uncoiling a golden rope from around her waist that Superman had not noticed before. "I will go wherever you wish to take me, Superman," she rolled his name off her tongue sensuously as she stepped into his arms.
As Superman scooped her up for the second time she looped her lasso loosely around his neck.
Superman instantly felt strange. When he looked at her all he wanted to do was tear off her clothes and make love to her right there. He could do it. There was no one around for miles. The snow did not matter. He could keep her warm. She was obviously willing. She was staring at him, inviting him. He could not resist her. He started to tear off her uniform when he noticed again how she had been abused. His mind cleared for a moment.
"I-I-I can't do this. I want you terribly but you've been hurt by someone and I don't want to hurt you as well."
She looked at him shocked. "You want me but won't take me when I'm offering myse…"
In a flash of light she was gone.