FUGITIVE CLARK KENT

by

SANDEFUR

Disclaimer: This is fan fiction just for fun. I have no claims.

The scream is loud, terror filled and quickly cut off. Batman, who was about to swing down from the rooftop through the window of the hideout of a gang of bank robbers, automatically turns and runs toward the sound of the woman in distress. In this rough neighborhood the dangers a woman might be facing at night are horrifying. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, Batman quickly reaches the alleyway where the scream originated and looks down…

The scene is an ugly one and about to get worse. A middle-aged woman is on her knees and is bleeding from a split lip. Standing over her is a mugger – a teenaged boy with a telltale shake that causes his gunhand to twitch wildly. Junkie! A new but growing problem in Gotham City, Batman thinks as he reaches for his batarang. It would take him about six seconds to make it down to the alley, and that may be five seconds more than the woman has. Just as Batman is about to throw his specialized weapon, a newcomer suddenly appears on the scene…Batman?

"Drop the gun, punk." the eratz Batman says in a voice that tries to sound tough.

The nervous mugger turns and the gun goes off, more from twitchiness than intent. The bullet strikes dead center in the other Batman's chest and 'pings' as it bounces off…

"Ever hear of bulletproof vests?" the phony says as he knocks away the revolver and 'punches' the mugger, but the punch is as fake as the costume. The mugger is out cold, but the other Batman didn't have to use any real strength.

"May I help you, Ma'am?" Batman Two asks while extending a hand.

The woman staggers to her feet and hastily backs away. "Keep…keep away from me!"

She runs away and Batman smiles at his impostor's confused reaction. No doubt he is use to a more favorable response to his heroics. Well, after all, the costume was designed to frighten people. The sound of an approaching siren announces the cops are on the ball in this well patrolled neighborhood. The other Batman runs away and is soon lost from view in the darkness.

Batman watches as two cops arrive and arrest the now groggy junkie. Maybe juvenile hall will be able to help the kid with his addiction, but Batman doubts it. Just as he doubts he can guess why Superman is running around town dressed like him. Who else can it be? Whatever his reasons, the Man of Steel isn't helping the Batman's chances of survival. It isn't easy to pull the trigger on another human being, and even hardened criminals often hesitate before shooting at him. That hesitation has saved his life more than once. He doesn't wear a heavy, clumsy, bulletproof vest while fighting crime, and he doesn't need crooks thinking he is bulletproof.

Oh well, back to the bank robbers…

X X X X X

A flying Batman enters through the open window of Room 1412 of the Gotham Heights Hotel, landing with a whoosh and a thump. He listens with super hearing and confirms no one has noticed his arrival. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and wonders for the first time how a change of costume can cause such a startling difference in people's reactions. Maybe it is the cowl…?

Clark Kent removes the mask and fingers the hole in the bat emblem. He will have to repair it, but he has lots of experience with that. Clark also wonders about his 'bright' idea of imitating this Batman character while he is in Gotham City. Too often while on assignment in other cities he has had to go into action as Superman to save someone. This has occasionally led to suspicions, especially from fellow reporter Lois Lane. Since he can fly a hundred times faster than the lumbering DC-7 that brought him to Gotham (he had to take the plane – the accounting department checks these things), Superman has been prominently patrolling Metropolis while in Gotham he has been using the Batman disguise during the few times he has had to spring into action. Let's see if that doesn't confuse Lois.

With the costume off, Clark hides it in a secret compartment in his luggage and he briefly wonders how the real Batman will react if hears about another hero imitating him… 'Hero'. At first the term didn't seem to apply when the mysterious crime fighter began breaking up the city's crime syndicates and frightening petty crooks back into their holes. Originally Batman was considered a masked vigilante and the cops chased him almost as much as they did the real criminals. But then a new administration came into power and the new police commissoner, James Gordon, tried a new approach – hands off, let the Batman do his best. The resulting drop in crime was too impressive to ignore and everyone seemed happy with the new status quo. Then came the new breed of criminals – the psychotic geniuses like the Joker and the Penguin whose methods and motives baffled traditional police investigations. For the first time the cops began seeking Batman's help by using the famed bat signal. (Curiously, this has become a major tourist attraction and the city often receives complaints when visitors fail to see it during their stays.)

Clark digs out his briefcase and tries to dismiss Batman from his mind. When he got this Gotham City assignment he made the decision not to try to find out who Batman really is (certainly he wouldn't like it if someone found out Clark and Superman were the same person). As for his imitation of the 'Caped Crusader' (where does the tabloid media come up with these names), he is only enhancing the man's reputation. Clark looks through his notes and research material on his assignment and automatically shakes his head in disbelief over the details of the story he is about to cover.

Bill Browne, the very popular and recently retired mayor of Metropolis, travelled to Gotham City last month to attend his son's wedding. There, in front of a hundred witnesses, 'Honest Bill' shot and killed the bride (Sarah Scalari) just after the "I do's". To Clark, who has known and liked Browne for years, this is incomprehensible. Browne has always been one of the better politicians - an incorruptible fighter for progress and honest government. His eight years as mayor marked a time of prosperity and advancement for Metropolis, and most people were anticipating his future run for governor. How could such a man commit so heinous a crime? Clark doesn't know but he is assigned, along with a large contingent of other Metropolis reporters, to cover the murder trial.

The speed of the trial is due to the late bride's father, Janos Scalari and his push for swift justice. Scalari, a self-made man who earned his vast fortune in the post war construction boom, holds considerable local influence. The death of his only daughter has made Scalari vengeful, and his frequent statements to the press have been filled with dire threats that if the courts fail to render justice, he will take matters into his own hands. Surprisingly, despite the overwhelming evidence against him, ex-mayor Browne maintains his innocence. Clark has been negotiating for a private interview with 'Honest Bill' and hopes it will come through soon. The trial starts tomorrow and it won't take long to prove Bill Browne's guilt.

X X X X X

The phone rings just as Clark is finishing the breakfast brought to him by room service...

"Clark Kent."

"Mr. Kent, we have a long distance call from Metropolis for you."

"Thank you, Operator."

There is a whir and a click as the connection is made and Clark recognizes a familiar voice...

"Kent, you speak Spanish, right?"

"Yes Mr. White, and a good morning to you too, Perry. Although, it must be well before sunrise in Metropolis."

"It is, and for the record, I haven't been to bed yet."

"Something big is breaking?"

"Only for the Daily Planet, that is if I have worked out the logistics right. You know the President of Mexico is visiting Metropolis today?"

"I remember."

"I was attending a reception at the consulate last night and according to El Presidente's secretary, your reporting is in great favor with the man. So much so, the President has agreed to an exclusive, one-on-one interview with Clark Kent, and only Clark Kent, this afternoon."

"Today? But Chief..."

"I know, I know, you're on the other side of the country, but that's where the time difference works in our favor. I've checked with the Planet's travel agent and if you can catch the first flight out this morning, you will make it back to Metropolis with just enough time to make the interview. I'll have Jimmy Olsen waiting to pick you up on arrival, and I've already arranged a limo to take you from your hotel to the Gotham airport. The hired car will be waiting for you at the side entrance of the hotel right about now."

"It will take me some time to check out..."

"Forget about that. The room is reserved in the name of the Daily Planet and Lois Lane is already on a plane headed for Gotham. She will take over the room since all of the other hotels are booked soild for the 'trial of the century'."

"Lois will miss the start of the trial."

"Can't be helped. Now move Kent, don't miss that plane!"

"Yes sir."

Clark hangs up and repacks his bag at super speed. He wishes he could just fly to the airport, but he will need a signed receipt from the limo driver or the accounting department will make waves...

X X X X X

Jim Gordon misses the days when he was a simple cop and didn't have to worry about politics, relations with the press and doing favors to get favors, but it is a part of his new job as police commissoner. Waiting in the main lobby of police headquarters, Gordon quickly spots the man who has called in a favor from a friend of a friend...

"Clark Kent?"

"Commissoner Gordon, an honor to meet you, sir."

"I've heard good things about you Kent, and certainly your pal in Metropolis, Inspector Henderson, verifies that you are more than okay. Even so, if I didn't owe Henderson a huge favor from years ago..."

"I understand, and I appreciate this opportunity to privately interview Mayor Browne, and trust that the Inspector considers your debt paid in full."

Gordon hesitates a moment as he takes in the rather smug, you-owe-me smile on Kent's face. Something about this guy bothers him, but a favor is a favor...

"And this is Vicki Vale, a local news photographer. If you don't mind, she will get a couple of pictures of you and 'Mayor' Browne before your interview."

"Paying off more favors?" Clark asks with a grin.

"It's how the world works."

"I understand. Miss Vale, how about a shot of me and the Commissoner?"

"You wouldn't mind?" Vale asks, knowing a 'chummy' photo with the city's top cop could raise questions about a reporter's objectivity.

"I insist."

Still smiling, Clark poses with a glum looking James Gordon. 'Clark' relishes the idea that this photo will haunt the Commissoner when it comes out that he let into police headquarters a man carrying a snub-nosed revolver and a grenade...

X X X X X

Clark Kent arrives back at the Gotham Heights Hotel in an ordinary taxi cab (being sure to get another receipt for the accounting department). He is utterly disgusted with the waste of time he has endured. The trip to the airport went off without a hitch and he arrived with time to spare. But then the problems began - there was no waiting ticket for him at the Pan Am counter and the fully booked plane took off without him. Clark tried to arrange a ticket with another airline, but there were no flights that could get him back home in time to make the presidential interview. (Drat the accounting depatment, if it weren't for them he would just fly back on his own.) Since Lois' plane was due to arrive soon, he waited for her but she too was a no-show. Confused and frustrated, Clark arranged through the airline a long distance call to the Daily Planet. Perry White insisted he hadn't called Clark this morning, that Lois was already interviewing the President of Mexico and then Clark received a thorough chewing out for having missed the start of the Browne trial.

Walking down the corridor to his hotel room, Clark wishes he could start this day over. Obviously someone wanted him out of the way today - someone who could convincingly imitate Perry White's voice, but who? (A rival from another newspaper...no, much too elaborate of a plot for that.) Perhaps the more important question is why? Clark opens his hotel room door...

"Freeze Kent!"

Waiting in his room are two uniformed cops from G.C.P.D. and a fuming, grey-haired man holding a newspaper. Clark recognizes the local police commissoner...

"You're James Gordon. What brings you here?"

"I'm in no mood for jokes, Kent. I truly expected you to be out of the country by now, but I had to chance it that you would return here. Where is Bill Browne?"

Feeling like he is an episode of that TV show the Twilight Zone, Clark responds: "What do you mean? The last I heard Mayor Browne was in police custody."

"I'm warning you Kent, I'm in no mood for this. Are you going to deny breaking Browne out of jail this morning? That stunt with the grenade killed two of my officers!"

"I have no idea..."

Clark pauses as Gordon holds up the front page of the afternoon paper with its' banner headline: BROWNE ESCAPES. There are photos of...him, Clark Kent, with the commissoner, Bill Browne and pictures of the bloody aftermath of a grenade attack...

"Clark Kent, you are under arrest for a long list of crimes, starting with the murder of police officers. Turn around and put your hands behind you."

Feeling numb and desperate, Clark obeys but before the handcuffs can be put on, he notices the still open door of his hotel room. The sudden temptation is too much to resist. With a quick dash, Clark is out in the hallway, slamming the door behind him. Two bullets immediately follow, splintering the wood and striking him with no effect. Clark reaches the door leading to the emergency stairs just as the first cop is out the door. Another shot, but this one misses. On the stairs and out of view, Clark zooms away at super speed. By the time the cops reach the stairway door, Clark is gone and they have no idea if he went up or down...

"Damn, for a big man he's quick!" Gordon comments. "Jefferson, take the elevator to the lobby. Goldman, see if he went up to the roof. Meanwhile, I'm calling headquarters to tell them to activate the bat signal. This is definitely a time when I want help from Batman!"

To Be Continued. Please review.

(Thanks to Kirk Hastings for suggesting this story.)